1. pontavedra says

    Well, thank goodness Republicans are working hard to take away my health insurance, make me unable to get new insurance if I have a pre-existing condition (I do), and pay tons more if I can actually get insurance in the first place.

    Oh, wait—I live in Japan. Full socialized insurance. I pay less for total coverage (yes, including dental) than Americans do. I can choose almost any doctor or clinic short of ones that specialize in cosmetic or other special treatments (and they sometimes are able to slip me in anyway, under my insurance plan). I get appointments immediately, usually don’t have to wait more than an hour at most even without an appointment, and the clinics I go to have the latest equipment, are clean and are well-staffed.

    The major difference? Hospitals, insurance companies, and pharma in Japan do not make as massively huge profits as they do in the US. Boo hoo.

    I can TOTALLY see why America would want to avoid socialized medicine. Except, no I can’t, it’s absurdly idiotic.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    When the SO had his heart-attack, we paid for the ambulance.
    The 5 days in CICU, 5 days in CCU, the defibrillator implant, the 4 months of rehab, the ablation, all the follow-up visits with medicos … nothing out of pocket.
    We’re paying for the subsequent meds. That ain’t cheap.

  3. chigau (違う) says

    What I mean to say is that, if we did not have socialised medical care, we would both be dead.

  4. redwood says

    @3 pontavedra
    I also live in Japan and everything pontavedra said is true. I recently had a battery of tests done to check my heart: blood test, urine test, chest X-ray, ECG, sonogram (echo test?), plus two visits to a heart specialist to set the tests up and then go over them (no problems with my heart, by the way). Cost? $120 and it would be the same for everyone (well, less if you’re in the lowest income bracket). The Japanese government controls medical expenses. Why can’t the US do that? “Freedom, liberty, capitalism, free market” you say? Bullshit, I say. Japan is a very materialistic society where companies love profits just as much as anyone else and where we have the freedom to go to any doctor at any time and get proper medical treatment at a reasonable cost. Do the people living in the US have that freedom? I really don’t understand how this cannot be the rallying cry for millions of Americans to overthrow the horrible financial arrangements of the health care system there.

  5. Elladan says

    I got sick in Australia once. So sick that my friend took me to the local clinic.

    When we got there, the receptionist asked me for my health card… Ooops. “I’m so sorry, Elladan, but since you’re not a resident and don’t have a health card, we’re going to have to charge you the full maximum price for treatment.”

    I girded my wallet and prepared myself for the bad news. After all, one time in the USA a doctor poked at my wrist for 30 seconds and billed me $400. This was going to hurt, but I had a good job. I’d budgeted for this sort of eventuality.

    “That’ll be $20 please.” [about $10 USD]

    It was at this point that I realized the ATM only spat out $50 bills so I was in dire need of small change. It was weird seeing the doctor, too, since he didn’t seem even a little bit harried and overworked.

  6. consciousness razor says

    Do the people living in the US have that freedom?

    We’re free to die horribly, while watching everything we have vanish into a cloud of smoke.

    Fuck, I bet the Japanese can even do that….

    Uh…. We’re free to travel to Tulsa without a passport. Probably. In theory, we usually do have that. I bet your healthcare doesn’t look so great now.

  7. says

    I guess a lot of us live in Japan. I do too, and last year I needed a root canal. I went online, found a dentist near my office who trained in America and spoke English. It took several trips, but he did all the work and crowned the thing. Total cost to me, about $25.

    Heck my wife had some complications after our second kid, that meant tons of tests, MRIs and medication. And that was on top of a short stay in the baby ICU. I took some paternity leave off work to take care of the first kid, and everyone was back home after about two weeks. Total cost: $0 because there is no cost for kids under 12 and pregnancy stuff is part of that.

    It works.

  8. Rich Woods says


    So this “F-35” thingy … does it work on STDs?

    Yes, it works superbly. It utterly annihilates STDs, Just as long as you don’t mind losing everything else within a twenty-metre radius.

  9. says

    German here. I pay 100% of my (social) health insurance because my employer is a jerk (it’s the government*) and I don’t come anywhere close to US premiums.
    Co pays: 5-10€ for prescription medication. Hospital stays 10€/night for I think max 20 nights a year. Basic dental work. Contraception excluded (though it’s still much cheaper than in the USA). Before I was covered under my husband’s insurance, free of extra charge, as are the kids.

    *We got a two tier system with social healthcare and private healthcare where the private is kind of similar to the USA. If you’re working above 450€/month your social health insurance is a certain percentage of your income that is shared by employer and employee. State servants only have to insure 50% of their healthcare cost as the government picks up the rest of the tab, but only when you are insured via private healthcare, which offers special plans. But they would also be allowed to charge me extra for being old and fat and having a preexisting condition, so I remained in the social health insurance. But then the government says “well, your plan covers everything, you don’t need our help”.

  10. says

    “Flynn was warned by Trump transition officials about contacts with Russian ambassador”:

    Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was warned by senior members of then President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team about the risks of his contacts with the Russian ambassador weeks before the December call that led to Flynn’s forced resignation, current and former U.S. officials said.

    Flynn was told during a late November meeting that Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s conversations were almost certainly being monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, officials said, a caution that came a month before Flynn was recorded discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia with Kislyak, suggesting that the Trump administration would reevaluate the issue.

    Officials were so concerned that Flynn did not fully understand the motives of the Russian ambassador that the head of Trump’s national security council transition team asked Obama administration officials for a classified CIA profile of Kislyak, officials said. The document was delivered within days, officials said, but it is not clear that Flynn ever read it.

    The previously undisclosed sequence reveals the extent to which even some Trump insiders were troubled by the still-forming administration’s entanglements with Russia and its enthusiasm for a friendly relationship with the Kremlin.

    The failed efforts to intervene with Flynn also cast harsh new light on a national security adviser who lasted just 24 days on the job before revelations about his discussions with Kislyak — and misleading accounts of them — forced him to resign.

    The perceived need to impress this point upon Flynn added to the growing concerns among senior members of the Obama administration, who at the time were still coming to grips with the scale of Russian interference in the 2016 election and were worried that any punitive measures they imposed might be rescinded when Trump was sworn in.

    The request for the Kislyak document came from Marshall Billingslea, a former senior Pentagon official in the George W. Bush administration who led Trump’s national security transition team from November until shortly before Trump’s inauguration.

    Others included Samantha Ravich, a deputy national security adviser to Vice President Richard B. Cheney; and Christopher Ford, a former State Department official who now works as a special assistant on counterproliferation issues in the Trump White House….

  11. mudpuddles says

    Speaking of political madness, I’d recommend Eliot Cohen’s article in The Atlantic following Tillerson’s May 3rd speech to State Department employees. I was at a meeting of EU leaders in global epidemic surveillance yesterday, and this speech had people baffled and disgusted in equal measure.

    It is hard to overstate how far Europe’s opinion of the US has fallen in the past 12 months. Whereas communications with the US government were absolutely central to much of the work of several of these groups dealing with global health and humanitarian issues, now it is seen as a waste of time, since requests go unanswered or we get copies of previous Trump statements in response, some of which have absolutely no bearing on the situation at hand. Madness, indeed.

  12. says

    The AP has a story related to the WaPo piece but focusing on security concerns in the Obama camp during the transition:

    …In late December, as the White House prepared to levy sanctions and oust Russians living in the in the U.S. in retaliation for the hacks, Obama officials did not brief the Trump team on the decision until shortly before it was announced publicly. The timing was chosen in part because they feared the transition team might give Moscow lead time to clear information out of two compounds the U.S. was shuttering, one official said.

    While it’s not inappropriate for someone in Flynn’s position to have contact with a diplomat, Obama officials said the frequency of his discussions raised enough red flags that aides discussed the possibility Trump was trying to establish a one-to-one line of communication — a so-called back channel — with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama aides say they never determined why Flynn was in close contact with the ambassador.

    Even with the suspicion, the officials said they did not withhold information.

    The outgoing White House also became concerned about the Trump team’s handling of classified information. After learning that highly sensitive documents from a secure room at the transition’s Washington headquarters were being copied and removed from the facility, Obama’s national security team decided to only allow the transition officials to view some information at the White House, including documents on the government’s contingency plans for crises.

    Some White House advisers now privately concede that the administration moved too slowly during the election to publicly blame Russia for the hack and explore possible ties to the Trump campaign. Others say it was only after the election, once Obama ordered a comprehensive review of the election interference, that the full scope of Russia’s interference and potential Trump ties become clearer.

  13. says

    In personnel news:

    Islamophobic, homophobic, transphobic creationist Mark Green has withdrawn himself from consideration as Secretary of the Army.

    It’s being reported that Trump and Bannon are blocking the removal of Nazi sympathizer and fake terrorism expert Sebastian Gorka.

    The Pentagon suspended the security clearance of another WH official aligned with Flynn (the bias in the original Washington Free Beacon story is so amusingly obvious that I’m linking to it without further comment).

  14. fentex says

    As we’re sharing, my stories are from New Zealand…

    I broke my leg about twenty years ago playing football. An ambulance took my to hospital, my leg was x-rayed (clean break completely through tibia, fractured and distorted fibula). Leg cast, taken home by family. No charge – I did have to lie on a gurney sucking nox for a couple of hours because of a multiple car pile up that happened at the same time and put me down the priority order.

    My tibia did not heal and I had a titanium pin put in it in an overnight stay, again no charge. Nor any charge for physiotherapy afterwards to help me rebuild strength.

    Last year a motor-cyclist killed himself driving head into my mothers car on the open road (he may have already been dead through stroke or heart attack which may be why he fell off his bike on the way to my mothers car) as she was driving to her city of birth to say farewell to her lifetime best friend with terminal cancer. Ambulance, two day stay in hospital (yay for modern cars safety systems – pre-tensioning seat-belt and airbag) – sleight fractures in a couple of ribs but not severe enough to treat. No charge.

    Later that yea though my mother fractured three vertebrae (digging potatoes), experienced intense pain, after trying to cope for a few weeks not knowing what happened she was taken to hospital, spent four weeks being cared for and had myeloma diagnosed from blood tests. She has been treated for six months with chemotherapy, infusions to strengthen her bones and prodigious pain killers (morphine et al) and has just finished the – successful – chemotherapy. This was not entirely free – for a variety of reasons we’ve spent about, oh, $50 on medications (over six months) and because she had over that period three non-emergency ambulance rides (which in New Zealand are provided by the private St Johns ambulance charity) she was asked for about $300 in donations – which we happily paid.

    No charge for chemo drugs, bone infusions or the hospital visits, tracking and blood tests. Nor for most of her medications EXCEPT when little problems crop up and we have to get a prescription filled in the wrong place unexpectedly – then there’s about $10 in expenses.

    My girlfriend has developed early onset Parkinson’s and has, for the last year, seen specialists and been provided with a variety of drug treatments and is now on a infuser providing a dopamine agonist throughout the day. She is attended briefly at home each day by nurses to make sure the infuser is fitted properly and to adjust her medication. No charge.

    When you visit your private doctor rather than public hospital or emergency room if you have no help* it costs about $60 a visit in NZ (they may or may not, according to their own practices charge you for an x-ray they may take – if so, about $20) – unless you’re a child then it’s about $20, and if you are prescribed drugs (let’s say a round of antibiotics) you’ll have to pay for that – let’s say a weeks course for bacterial pneumonia for about $15 ~ 25?

    *If you have a community card (you’re on unemployment or invalid benefits) those costs will be reduced – about halved and possibly free.

    Private health insurance is easily available, and if you were to buy it (to avoid waiting lists, have more choice, get private rooms when in care) you’d pay $150 ~ $300 a month for it (interestingly it’s becoming something more often offered by employers as part of peoples compensation). I believe it’s affordable because it has to be to compete with public services and because they share infrastructure.

    We are taxed more than the U.S (I’m guessing between %4 ~ %6 more across median incomes) and our medical professionals earn substantially less – by and large NZ is a low wage economy.

    We don’t have a military worth a damn, spending about %0.9 GDP on it (couple of frigates, a few maritime patrol planes, a dozen odd transports, a dozen odd patrol boats, couple of battalions of troops, some APC’s, no heavy armour or artillery, a company or two of special forces and some helicopters is about it) which saves us a lot of money (personally I think we need a bit more).

    It’s quite funny watching immigrants from, say Europe, who think we’re paradise who come here on the strength of this sort of thing who then find out our houses cost too much, our jobs pay not much, we don’t get the big shows, we don’t have the entertainment, museums and gallery’s of other places and many other things they didn’t realise were important to them – and it costs a fortune to go anywhere (except Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, The Cooks islands and other small pacific states).

  15. says

    Reuters and others are linking the MacronLeaks hashtag to people in the US:

    …Ben Nimmo, a UK-based security researcher with the Digital Forensic Research Lab of the Atlantic Council think tank, said initial analysis indicated that a group of U.S. far-right online activists were behind early efforts to spread the documents via social media. They were later picked up and promoted by core social media supporters of Le Pen in France, Nimmo said.

    The leaks emerged on 4chan, a discussion forum popular with far right activists in the United States. An anonymous poster provided links to the documents on Pastebin, saying, “This was passed on to me today so now I am giving it to you, the people.”

    The hashtag #MacronLeaks was then spread by Jack Posobiec, a pro-Trump activist whose Twitter profile identifies him as Washington D.C. bureau chief of the far-right activist site Rebel TV, according to Nimmo and other analysts tracking the election. Contacted by Reuters, Posobiec said he had simply reposted what he saw on 4chan.

    “You have a hashtag drive that started with the alt-right in the United States that has been picked up by some of Le Pen’s most dedicated and aggressive followers online,” Nimmo told Reuters.

    Alt-right refers to a loose-knit group of far-right activists known for their advocacy of extremist ideas, rejection of mainstream conservatism and disruptive social media tactics.

    Since Russian military intelligence is suspected in the hacking/leaking, Posobiec’s bragging about his involvement could potentially be incriminating. This group has been involved with some of the worst actions on behalf of Trump and the far Right over the past several months.

    Hours before the hacked Macron/faked documents appeared, articles were noting the failure of foreign attempts to influence the French election using the same techniques as in the US and UK – the memes didn’t translate and fake news didn’t catch. This part was especially funny:

    After the anonymous internet user called on others on 4Chan, an online message board favored by the alt-right, to start a “Total Meme War” to help Ms. Le Pen, he warned against mimicking American-style attacks. Yet international supporters repeatedly used Pepe the Frog, a cartoon tied to anti-Semitism and racism that has become an unofficial mascot of the alt-right movement. Many did so without realizing the amphibian is often used as a slur against French people.

  16. says

    AFP reporting: “French authorities took a hard line Saturday on what presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron called a ‘massive’ hacking attack on his campaign, warning on the eve of the vote that anyone spreading the information could be committing a crime. …’The dissemination of such data, which have been fraudulently obtained and in all likelihood may have been mingled with false information, is liable to be classified as a criminal offence’, France’s electoral commission said in a statement.”

  17. says

    “Scope of Federal Probe into Fox News Broadens”:

    Federal authorities have interviewed current and former Fox News employees and on-air talent in a widening inquiry into the nature of sexual-harassment settlements and alleged intimidation tactics at the network, according to people familiar with the probe.

    Prosecutors at the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and criminal investigators from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service have spoken to women who accused former Fox News boss Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, the people familiar with the probe said. These women included current on-air contributor Julie Roginsky and former talent booker Laurie Luhn.

    U.S. investigators have focused on how settlement payments over sexual-harassment accusations were structured at Fox News and which executives helped engineer them, people familiar with the matter said. But in their questioning, prosecutors also have shown an interest in alleged intimidation tactics authorized by Mr. Ailes, including the hiring of a private investigator to dig up negative information on women who complained, according to one of the people familiar with the probe.

    In an interview with Journal, Ms. Luhn said Mr. Ailes harassed her and subjected her to “psychological torture” for years. She said Mr. Shine took steps to keep her from talking to the press, moving her between hotel rooms and at one point calling her father to arrange her placement in a psychiatric-care facility in Texas against her wishes. Eventually her lawyer negotiated a settlement with Fox. Ms. Brandi signed it while Messrs. Ailes and Shine signed a general release of known and unknown claims that was part of the separation agreement.

    Investigators are also looking at Mr. Ailes’s use of prominent private investigator Bo Dietl to probe the backgrounds of people perceived to be a threat to either Mr. Ailes or the channel, according to people familiar with the situation.

    Mr. Dietl said in an interview with the Journal that he was used by Fox News to look into the pasts of Ms. Carlson and Andrea Mackris, a former producer who sued Mr. O’Reilly for harassment in 2004 and received a $9 million settlement from Mr. O’Reilly. Mr. Dietl said he was hired to find information that could discredit the women’s claims….

    After the article was published, Gabe Sherman tweeted “Bo Dietl told me several times he ‘never’ did PI work for Ailes, but admits it in WSJ interview,” to which Dietl incomprehensibly responded “Where did I ‘admit it’ dickhead, you are a horrible journalist. If someone was following you maybe it is bc u make up things about people.”

  18. says

    Speaking of political madness, I’d recommend Eliot Cohen’s article in The Atlantic following Tillerson’s May 3rd speech to State Department employees.

    Oh come on. The US putting their own interests above human rights and freedom in other countries is exactly what you’ve been doing for centuries. Please, as much as I despise this administration, don’t act as if you haven’t helped and installed dictators, toppled democratically elected governments and led bloody wars for economic interests ever before.

  19. says

    There’s now an FCC investigation into Stephen Colbert’s joke, because freeze peach.

    (Apropos of nothing, I’d like to propose a temporary moratorium on penis/testicle jokes from TV comedian-commentators. They’re tired and often off-putting to me as a woman. The Daily Show alumni seem especially infected with a fondness for this genre of humor; it made Jon Stewart virtually unwatchable for me for a time. I would suggest that when the writers start to turn toward one of these jokes, they pause and think about whether or not it’s a juvenile crutch and a funnier line could be written.)

  20. says

    and that their argument is full of holes and strangely disconnected from how these things play out in the world.

    It’s basically “The AHCA doesn’t make sexual assault a preexisting condition, it merely allows states to do so.”
    Even the WaPo has to admit that they struck down protections specifically designed to protect survivors, so why would you do that if not because you want to discriminate against them?

  21. mudpuddles says

    @Giliell, #30
    What? When, exactly, did I ever do anything even remotely related to helping and installing a dictator? I mean, my PM is a prat, but hardly a dictator. Dumbass can’t control his own ministers, never mind controlling the rest of us. I didn’t even vote for him.
    You’ve baffled me.

  22. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re 32:
    Your advice to writers is appropriate for your reactions as well. Exactly why is it so offensive to hear about one man pleasuring another? Think about it. I’ll listen.

  23. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I sincerely hope the FCC does a thorough investigation, due to the complaints received, to show they are responsive to the audience. WITH THE PROVISION: that they conclude that the complaints were spurious and unfounded. That Colbert said nothing offensive given the hour of the broadcast and the context of the monologue. “Take that complainers. Freeze peach applies to the late-night-comedians as well as you amateurs”, the FCC conclusion will say. [in my hopes anyway]

  24. says

    Your advice to writers is appropriate for your reactions as well. Exactly why is it so offensive to hear about one man pleasuring another? Think about it. I’ll listen.

    What are you talking about? You seem confused. I’m just tired of the glut of dick jokes in political comedy. I think John Oliver does a very good job, for example, but falls back on too many lazy dick jokes (most have nothing to do with sex, but that’s not relevant to my point). I’m not offended – they’re just rarely that funny and I’m tired of male comedians talking about penises so much. Also, phallocentric political comedy-commentary isn’t especially useful in this moment, in my view.

  25. mudpuddles says

    @slithey tove, #39
    From another perspective, i’m confused about why that particular comment from Colbert is worthy of investigation, but comments in a similar vein that are far more explicitly sexual and political on shows like South Park, Family Guy, American Dad and others, are not. Maybe they too are investigated when the FCC is swamped with complaints about them, but I’m assuming any such investigations found no case for action, since those shows continue with that brand of humour every week.

  26. says

    SC @22, regarding your first link, I hadn’t thought of that. Yes, it is a truly horrible and completely predictable result of classifying victims of sexual assault as having a pre-existing condition that fewer people will report sexual assaults.

    We already have a big problem, in that women especially may be reluctant to report that they were raped. Now the Republicans are trying to make it possible for states to adjust their rules for insurance companies so that pre-existing conditions do not have to be covered. A woman may be, for example, kicked off Medicaid for having a pre-existing condition (or never allowed to qualify for Medicaid) if she reports a rape.

    Sometimes I don’t think the Republicans have thought this health care thing through at all. Other times I think they are just a bunch of mostly guys with no empathy and with a narrow focus on politics within their in-group.

  27. says

    SC @28, it sounds like authorities in France may actually prosecute people for disseminating the hacked and/or false documents.

    In the USA, we have yet to see anyone pay for such acts.

  28. mudpuddles says

    @Lyanna, #42

    Sometimes I don’t think the Republicans have thought this health care thing through at all.

    At a town hall in Idaho yesterday, a GOP congressman claimed that ‘nobody dies because they don’t have access to healthcare’. So, I’m thinking the same as you.

  29. says

    Giliell @33:

    It’s basically “The AHCA doesn’t make sexual assault a preexisting condition, it merely allows states to do so.”


    Republicans are making the same argument in defense of most of the preexisting-condition questions that are put to them.

    Now that we’ve already heard one governor, Scott Walker, say that, yes, he would be interested in requesting a waiver from the list of of essential health care provisions that insurance companies were required to cover under Obamacare … well, we can see that a lot of red state governors would move to make insurance coverage less expensive for business owners by throwing guarantees for coverage out the window. Insurance companies will also love that because there will be no quality control and they can go back to making more money by covering fewer sick people.

  30. says

    In a March press briefing, Sean Spicer worked really hard to push a Trump propaganda point, namely that vicious, rapist immigrants are threatening the good citizens of the USA.

    “The idea that this occurred is shocking, disturbing, horrific,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at a briefing last March, in response to rape allegations against two immigrant teenagers. He added that “part of the reason that the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this.”

    It was a charged moment, where the White House itself tried to pin the alleged sins of two young men upon millions of immigrants throughout the nation. And, it appears, it was also rooted in false facts.

    Prosecutors in Maryland announced on Friday that they will drop rape charges against the two teens, after concluding that “the original charges cannot be sustained and prosecution is untenable.” Among other things, prosecutors uncovered text messages between one of the teens and the alleged victim which suggested that she consented to have sex with him. […]

    In any event, Spicer’s story of dangerous rapist immigrants preying on innocent young girls appears to have fallen apart. Nevertheless, the White House remains unapologetic for allowing its rhetoric to get ahead of the facts.

    At Friday’s press briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that “Sean was speaking about what he knew at the time” and declined to “retract anything without further information in front of me.”


  31. says

    Twelve white Republican men,( and one Republican man of Cuban descent), are writing the Senate version of Trumpcare. No women allowed?

    Here are the guys in charge of the Senate version:

    There are five Republican women in the Senate, but as far as I know two of those five oppose the Republican plan to defund Planned Parenthood as part of the health care bill. I guess that leaves only three women that all the reactionary Republican males would consider including in their discussions.

    So, how do we think that Obamacare requirements to cover maternity care will fare under the all-male club?

  32. says

    More Kushner family corruption and conflicts of interest have made the news, this time courtesy of Jared’s sister, Nicole Kushner. Nicole seems to be promising U.S. visas to Chinese business partners in exchange for investments of $500,000 or more in a Kushner family real estate project in New Jersey:

    […] Nicole Kushner offered the ballroom full of well-heeled Beijing residents more than just returns on investment: Invest with us, she told them, and you could [be granted] a highly desirable type of visa to the United States.

    “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States,” a brochure for the event reportedly declared. […]

    The hours-long workshop, organized by Chinese company Qiaowai, was designed to garner investment in the family’s “Kushner 1” development in New Jersey […]

    It also promoted the investment as a golden opportunity for investors to gain an immigration visa to the United States under the controversial EB-5 visa program, which is meant to spur economic growth by encouraging foreign investment in projects that create jobs in the United States.

    To qualify for an EB-5 visa, a person ordinarily has to invest a minimum of $1 million. However, Kushner 1 is apparently in a Targeted Employment Area, or TEA— an area of high unemployment that lowers the investment threshold for EB-5 visas to $500,000. Responsibility for designating TEAs lies with individual states, though they rely on federal guidelines.

    […] In 2015, the Government Accountability Office found that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service did not have sufficient controls in place to identify potential fraud in the EB-5 program or to assess its economic impact. […]

    Legislators from both parties have been heavily critical of the program, which Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont called “a magnet for fraud” earlier this year. […]

    The Trump and Kushner families’ interlocking real estate empires have leaned heavily on investments from wealthy foreigners seeking EB-5 visas. […]

    Two of the partners in the Trump Bay Street project, KABR Group and U.S. Immigration Fund, one of several private companies that operate regional centers for immigration investors in New Jersey, are also partners in the new Kushner 1 project, […]

    In 2015, Nicholas Mastroianni, the Florida developer who runs U.S. Immigration Fund, also announced a partnership with the Trump National Golf Course in Jupiter, Florida, according to Bloomberg. […]

    Inside the ballroom, organizers reportedly blocked attendees from talking to the press and tried to physically remove one reporter from the event. […]


  33. says

    We may be discussing the negative effects of Trump’s American Health Care Act, but a lot of major newspapers failed to fully report on the negative impacts on mental health care, substance abuse, women’s health care, etc.

    A Media Matters study of four major newspapers’ coverage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) after it was passed by the Republican-led House found a serious lack of reporting on detrimental effects of the bill. Analysis of the coverage revealed a dearth of reporting on the AHCA’s negative impact on access to mental health care and substance abuse treatment, women’s health care, special education funding, services for the elderly, and funding for rural hospitals. […]

    Major newspapers did cover some of the negative effects, but that coverage was scant:

    […] Out of 24 total articles Media Matters reviewed in USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, only one mentioned the negative impact the AHCA will have on access to mental health care. […]

    The four major newspapers mentioned the impact of the AHCA on people’s ability to access substance abuse treatment in the fight against the opioid epidemic five times in 24 articles. […]

    Papers Mentioned The Negative Impacts On Women’s Health Care Four Times. The four major newspapers Media Matters reviewed mentioned the damaging impact the AHCA will have on women’s health care four times in 24 articles. […]

    Only four of the 24 articles included in this study addressed the impact the AHCA will have on costs and coverage for the elderly. [The AHCA raises age band ratings, allowing insurers to charge seniors fives times as much as younger individuals. Families USA noted that under the AHCA, premiums for older adults “would be 15-20% higher than under current law.] […]

    None of the 24 articles about the AHCA in the major newspapers Media Matters analyzed addressed the impact the proposed law would have on rural hospitals. [The Medicaid expansion helped rural hospitals, so the proposed repeal of the Medicaid expansion will hurt rural hospitals.] […]

    Of the newspapers surveyed, only one article in The New York Times reported on the negative impact the AHCA will have on funding for special education programs. […]

    The newspaper survey included USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times.

  34. says

    The Department of Justice is investigating Fox. Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch speaks to Trump almost daily, and he is advising Trump.

    Fox News owner and CEO Rupert Murdoch is reportedly advising President Donald Trump on a near-daily basis at the same time as the Justice Department is investigating his company, an ethical breach that could undermine the credibility of the inquiry.

    The Justice Department is currently engaged in a wide-ranging investigation of Fox News. The inquiry includes a review of the network’s “settlements made with women who alleged sexual harassment by former Fox News boss Roger Ailes,” as well as “possible misconduct by Fox News personnel” over a period of years, and has grown to include the United States Postal Inspection Service, which has jurisdiction over some financial crimes, according to CNN.

    […] with Murdoch advising Trump on an array of foreign and domestic policy issues, according to a report by The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman. According to Haberman, the Fox chief also regularly talks to Trump aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

    The situation raises questions about whether Trump or his subordinates are communicating with the Justice Department about the Fox investigation, according to Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis whose specialty is government ethics. “Are they monitoring or attempting to influence that investigation, or is DOJ able to act independently in its investigation of a company owned by a friend of the President?” she wrote in an email to Media Matters. […]


  35. says

    Trump seems to be preparing to make another dumb mistake, one which will negatively affect funding for historically black colleges.

    […] Trump signaled Friday that he may not implement a 25-year-old federal program that helps historically black colleges finance construction projects on their campuses, suggesting that it may run afoul of the Constitution.

    In a signing statement on the $1.1 trillion omnibus government spending bill, Trump singled out the Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program as an example of provisions in the funding bill “that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender.” […]

    In his first signing statement, Trump outlines a range of provisions in the spending bill that he says would “unconstitutionally” limit his authority as commander in chief […]

    Trump’s statement also suggests concern about programs listed under the “School Improvement Programs” section of the budget. Those include a wide range of education-related programs, such as after-school initiatives and programs that support Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native education. […]

    Cheryl Smith, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs at the United Negro College Fund, also known as UNCF, which advocates for private HBCUs, said in a statement that the organization is “puzzled by this provision and seeking clarification from the White House as to its meaning.”

    Smith noted that the federal designation of an institution as an HBCU is not based on race, but rather on mission, accreditation status and the year the institution was established.” […]

    Under the program, which was created by Congress in 1992, the Education Department provides federally-backed loans to historically black colleges and universities for the construction of buildings and other facilities. The bill provides $20 million in federal loan subsidies in fiscal year 2017 to support as much as $282 million worth of financing to the schools.

    Derek W. Black, a law professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law who studies constitutional and education law, called Trump’s reference to the HBCU program “rather odd.”

    “If Congress is validly spending money on these programs, and there’s no court finding or litigation suggesting discrimination, the idea that the executive would unilaterally not allocate those funds would be a rather momentous position to take.” Black said. […]

    He also said it was unusual that the statement referenced only “race, ethnicity and gender.”

    “Why stop here?” he asked. “If you’re worried about the allocation of benefits in unfair ways, why not add other things like religion or disability?”


  36. says

    Rachel Maddow and others covered the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (under the dubious leadership of Scott Pruitt) deleted climate change information from the EPA’s website. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel responded:

    […] The new section of the City of Chicago’s website, launched this weekend, pulls data from the archived Environmental Protection Agency page, noting, “while this information may not be readily available on the agency’s webpage right now, here in Chicago we know climate change is real and we will continue to take action to fight it.” Emanuel is promising to build the site out more in the coming weeks, using city resources.

    “The Trump administration can attempt to erase decades of work from scientists and federal employees on the reality of climate change, but burying your head in the sand doesn’t erase the problem,” Emanuel said.

    […] Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has repeatedly questioned global warming and fought environmental protections from the government he argues unfairly target businesses. […]

    Emanuel said he wants to see other cities and universities joining in preserving the data that the federal government is removing to ensure it stays public. […]


  37. says

    Some interesting details related to the hacking of Macron’s campaign by the Russians:

    […] Wikileaks jumped on the document dump, but didn’t seem to be familiar with the material in it. Responding to the Macron statement that some of the items were bogus, Wikileaks tweeted, “We have not yet discovered fakes in #MacronLeaks & we are very skeptical that the Macron campaign is faster than us.”

    Ah, but there’s the rub. […] part of the Macron campaign strategy against Fancy Bear was to sign on to the phishing pages and plant bogus information.

    “You can flood these [phishing] addresses with multiple passwords and log-ins, true ones, false ones, so the people behind them use up a lot of time trying to figure them out,” Mounir Mahjoubi, the head of Macron’s digital team, told The Daily Beast for its earlier article on this subject.

    In the end, whoever made the dump may not have known what is real and what is false, which would explain in part the odd timing. After the disruptive revelations of the DNC hacks in the United States, the public is conditioned to think that if there’s a document dump like this, it has to be incriminating. By putting it out just before the news blackout, when Macron cannot respond in detail, the dump becomes both the medium and the message.

    On the alt-right Web, the publicity and the hashtag associated with the dump also provided a matrix for all sorts of wild misinformation that had nothing to do with the documents in question. […]


    Macron and his team may have removed a lot of the bite from that Russian “Fancy Bear.”

  38. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @51:
    <blockquoteFox News owner and CEO Rupert Murdoch is reportedly advising President Donald Trump on a near-daily basis…
    ahhh, that explains the daily tweets from 45 advertising upcoming shows on Fox Network.
    Murdoch is doing the tweeting as ghostweeter for DJT. hmmm
    LMAO sincerely. Not just the silly acronym (4LA)

  39. says

    Excerpts from yet another review of Ivanka Trump’s terrible book. (Emphasis mine.):

    […] Ivanka Trump published a book on female empowerment. Why did this shimmery humanoid […] pen Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success? […] the purest and realest [reason] is self-promotion.

    […] if you actually seek productivity tips, for instance, or need help expressing your style on a budget—this guidebook cannot assist you. It is a road map to personal and professional success for a theoretical rich, hot woman. It is meant to exalt Ivanka’s celebrity and grow her bank account. It exhorts you, theoretical heiress, to “make time for what matters most” by hiring good help. […]

    She almost certainly delegated the writing of this book, which largely consists of other people’s business and lifestyle advice mashed up into a lavender balm of corporatized psychobabble. […] her book essentially reprints ideas from a century’s worth of gurus—Norman Vincent Peale, Adam Grant, Stephen Covey, Sheryl Sandberg—but frequently out of context, and with a dim comprehension of their meaning. (She pulls from Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a book about slavery, for an epigraph to a chapter titled “Work Smarter, Not Harder.”) […]

    […] How much empty jargon can you string together before a sentence just starts wafting aimlessly toward the ceiling? A book should communicate a set of concrete, discernible ideas, but Women Who Work is not a book; it is a product. You don’t sit down and parse this tone-row sonata of concept mission experience perspective authentic empower inspire conversation passion leadership brand positive life creative career success achieve celebrate priority aspiration challenge opportunity purpose memorable moment direction dynamic any more than you would parse a handbag. […]

    In the funhouse reality of Trumpworld, all is inverted. If a person’s identity revolves around having things handed to her, then she must publish a book titled Women Who Work. This work book must lean on the labor of others, be they ghostwriters, nannies, or cleaning staff.

    A similar maddening contradiction informs Trump’s feminist self-branding, her false advocacy on behalf of “all women” even as she enables a serial-harasser president who itches to curtail reproductive rights. […]

    After the House passed the AHCA bill Thursday, I stood up and walked outside. I took Women Who Work with me. It was when the sunlight hit the cover of the book at a certain angle, causing Ivanka’s pale skin to sparkle, that I realized who she reminded me of. That dewy parasitism, like Dracula after a meal—America’s first daughter belongs to the Twilight phenomenon, to the pop culture vogue for attractive vampires. […]

    Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer.

  40. says

    Yes, it is a truly horrible and completely predictable result of classifying victims of sexual assault as having a pre-existing condition that fewer people will report sexual assaults…Sometimes I don’t think the Republicans have thought this health care thing through at all.

    I wouldn’t be so sure – at this point I’m almost ready to believe that making it even more difficult for women to report sexual assault was exactly what the Republicans intended. I’d say that there’s no depth of depravity to which they could sink that would surprise me any more, but its probably not wise to tempt fate.

  41. says

    Jia Tolentino also reviewed Ivanka Trump’s book. I laughed out loud at several points.

    Lisa Bloom made some very interesting points about Trump and the book this morning on AM Joy. She talked about how the whole “Women Who Work” idea was a focused-grouped creation to help her appeal more to women. It was all part of a researched branding exercise from the start. It occurred to me that Ivanka Trump is one of the most thoroughly branded people around. It’s ironic that her brand is about personal growth and enrichment – this is her go-to in her slowly expressed, carefully calculated answers to difficult questions like she faced in Germany. I don’t think she, raised as a grifter and self-brander, has an authentic self. She’s all brand, the full personality package.

    Another irony is that the woman constantly attacked for being heavily focus-grouped and tightly controlled is Hillary Clinton, Now that she’s not campaigning and able to relax more, people noted that she seemed much more authentic and natural in her appearance with Christiane Amanpour. In the next breath, many of them attacked what she said and told her to shut up and leave the public sphere because she’s so unpopular and divisive. Alas.

  42. says

    As Giliell said @ #33.

    (And of course even if state laws bar denial of coverage or raising rates on victims of sexual abuse – however they choose to define that in practice – that would require people to report the assault and prove to the state’s satisfaction that their health problems result from it. How do the people writing these articles think that plays out?)

  43. says

    I’m writing a post but it’s not finished, so…

    Dear French people,

    It’s class war in the US. The “populist” regime works for the very rich and the corporations. The only “populism” on the far Right is a white nationalist, patriarchal, Christian supremacy that divides the global poor and workers.

    Smash fascism, resist the Russian kleptocratic capitalists, and keep fighting. We’re counting on you.

  44. blf says

    “Stopper” is a new verb to me.

    (I don’t know the context here, so this may be completely off!)
    Interesting. Perhaps it’s a British English-ism?
    Whilst I presume the “stopper” meaning of “cork” or similar — that is, a bottle-stopper — is common, the alternative meaning of “halting” does seem, in my experience, at least in the form “show stopper” (or “non-starter”), to give USAians problems. I must admit to not understanding why, as both terms seem self-explanatory to me.

  45. blf says

    On today’s French presidential election, a number of English-language sites have pointed out the non-French nazi websites,and the bilge spewing from them, have committed several serious errors. Two examples: The use of a frog icon† (problem: “frog” is considered a derogatory term for the French by many French‡); and Using English-language captions / titles or hashtags (which does not appeal to the more isolationist-minded French). Upshot is attempts at false news memes, the recent Macron hack (quite possibly spiked with faked documents), etc., don’t appear to have had much impact.

    Also, in the case of the Macron hack, the timing was totally off, as the legally-mandatory blackout period began shortly afterwards. Upshot it is it literally illegal for sites — including me making comments here at FtB — to do much more than refer to the hack in general terms.

      † The artist who created the cartoon frog in question has made it very clear the use as a nazi symbol was never the intent and totally against the artist’s own opinions. Hence, I refuse to name the icon / cartoon, in support of it’s creator’s objection to the hijacking by nazis.

      ‡ Some French friends of mine will joking refer to themselves as “Frogs”, and obviously tongue-in-cheek references exist, such as the The Frog & Rosbif pubs.

  46. says

    (I don’t know the context here, so this may be completely off!)

    It was a reference to the cover of L’Humanité shown in the tweet I linked to @ #65, which says “Stoppons-la” (Le Pen).

    Interesting. Perhaps it’s a British English-ism?
    Whilst I presume the “stopper” meaning of “cork” or similar — that is, a bottle-stopper — is common, the alternative meaning of “halting” does seem, in my experience, at least in the form “show stopper” (or “non-starter”), to give USAians problems. I must admit to not understanding why, as both terms seem self-explanatory to me.


    I just didn’t remember seeing that French verb before. I initially assumed it was borrowed from English, but then I thought of estoppel, and when I looked it up this is what Wikipedia had to say:

    The verb is estop, which comes from Middle English estoppen, itself borrowed from Old French estop(p)er, estouper, presumably from Vulgar Latin *stuppāre ‘to stop up with tow, caulk’, from Latin stuppa, ‘broken flax’, from Ancient Greek stuppe, ‘broken flax'[4] The noun form estoppel is based on the Old French estoupail ‘stopper, bung’, a derivative of estouper.

    So we got it from French in the first place, and it does seem to be a verb that’s used.

    So I guess it was just new to me. :)

  47. says

    Interesting tidbit, if true:

    “Trump was strutting up and down, talking to his new members about how they were part of the greatest club in North Carolina,” Dodson says. “And when I first met him, I asked him how he was — you know, this is the journalist in me — I said, ‘What are you using to pay for these courses?’ And he just sort of tossed off that he had access to $100 million.”

    $100 million.

    “So when I got in the cart with Eric,” Dodson says, “as we were setting off, I said, ‘Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks — because of the recession, the Great Recession — have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.’ And this is what he said. He said, ‘Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.’ I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.’ Now that was three years ago, so it was pretty interesting.”

    Well, yeah. It is.

  48. blf says

    There’s still around three hours to go in the voting here in mainland France, but the turnout is — as predicted — quite low, a trend which is generally thought to favor teh le penazi. This is mostly thought to be a mixture of the “neither–nor” (ni-ni) blockheads who cannot see a difference between Le Pen and Macron, and This being a holiday weekend (tormorrow, Monday 8 May, is VE Day (le jour de la libération)). At least locally, the weather is not an issue (it’s sunny and pleasant, if a bit breezy).

  49. says

    This is potentially significant reporting from Carole Cadwalladr: “The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked.”

    …This is not just a story about social psychology and data analytics. It has to be understood in terms of a military contractor using military strategies on a civilian population. Us. David Miller, a professor of sociology at Bath University and an authority in psyops and propaganda, says it is “an extraordinary scandal that this should be anywhere near a democracy. It should be clear to voters where information is coming from, and if it’s not transparent or open where it’s coming from, it raises the question of whether we are actually living in a democracy or not.”

    Tamsin Shaw, an associate professor of philosophy at New York University, helps me understand the context. She has researched the US military’s funding and use of psychological research for use in torture. “The capacity for this science to be used to manipulate emotions is very well established. This is military-funded technology that has been harnessed by a global plutocracy and is being used to sway elections in ways that people can’t even see, don’t even realise is happening to them,” she says. “It’s about exploiting [an] existing phenomenon like nationalism and then using it to manipulate people at the margins. To have so much data in the hands of a bunch of international plutocrats to do with it what they will is absolutely chilling.

    “We are in an information war and billionaires are buying up these companies, which are then employed to go to work in the heart of government. That’s a very worrying situation.”…

    Her articles are supremely frustrating. If I were grading them on organization, I would give them a D. They lurch from one source or document to another, there’s no underlying structure, and they don’t build to a central conclusion. The relationships she’s presenting are complicated, and the way the articles are written make them seem even more so. Because of the presentation, it’s hard to evaluate the strength of the evidence for any particular connection. She needs better editors.

  50. says

    There’s still around three hours to go in the voting here in mainland France, but the turnout is — as predicted — quite low, a trend which is generally thought to favor teh le penazi.

    Of course – because every political event for the foreseeable future has to be as fucking stressful as possible. And there can’t possibly be a resounding defeat of fascists.

  51. says

    SC @59,

    many of them attacked what she [Clinton] said and told her to shut up and leave the public sphere because she’s so unpopular and divisive. Alas.

    A lot of people seem to be mad at Hillary Clinton for simply continuing to exist. It’s weird. It’s also an insult to all the people that voted for her.

    In other news, I really like Representative Sean Patrick Maloney’s idea. He’s a Democrat from New York who has offered to hold town halls for the constituents of his Republican peers who refuse to hold town halls.

    “I think every Republican who voted for this thing ought to have to stand in front of their voters and explain it,” Maloney told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “And if it takes a Democrat to go in and do it for them for a while, I’ll explain what’s in this bill.”

    “Maybe a Democrat ought to go into every district where a Republican who supported Trumpcare won’t hold a town hall meeting and do it for them,” he said. “Sit in that chair and say I’ll stand here and answer your questions until your own congressman starts doing his job.”

    Some of Maloney’s Republican peers are not even answering their phones. Maloney sent this message to John Faso:

    Hey @RepJohnFaso could you turn your phones on? Your #NY19 constituents are calling my office. #Trumpcare

  52. blf says

    This image is just so French, “Luneray: An employee of a local bistro serves coffee and croissants to electoral officials at a polling station in the Normandy town”.

  53. says

    Dr. Atul Gawande answered questions about Trumpcare on ABC” “This Week.”

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): […] They were basically giving the states the option to waive the requirements so people could be charged higher premiums who had pre-existing conditions. They also added some money to pay for that. The president looks at all that and says that the coverage for pre-existing conditions will be the same now as it was under Obamacare. Your response?

    ATUL GAWANDE: Well, it’s hard for me to watch that Jimmy Kimmel clip because my own son, who is in his twenties and has almost the same heart condition, when he turns 27, he has to go out on a market. And most of the jobs he has had are freelance jobs with no benefits. He’s like 1 in 4 Americans that are with histories of cancers, diabetes, or heart conditions. And my worry as father, as a cancer surgeon, is that when we say we’re going to put people into high-risk pools, […] High-risk pools are separate insurance plans for people with pre-existing conditions. And they’ve historically had very low coverage, waiting lists, poorer coverage, and high costs. […]

    STEPHANOPOULOS: And then the medicaid savings: about $880 billion in savings according to the Congressional Budget Office.

    GAWANDE: Right, it cuts the 70 million people on medicaid by about a quarter, and for he rest of the people, there’s a cap. Whether it’s the elderly in nursing homes, people who are working poor. The cap would mean that the coverage becomes limited.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: And then, finally, because of the way that they affect the subsidies, some older and sicker Americans will be paying more.

    GAWANDE: Yes. People who are over 50 can be charged under this new bill up to five times more than younger people.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: But how about if you take the flip side? […] the president’s argument, the speaker’s argument that Obamacare is collapsing.

    GAWANDE: So, the core thing that’s happening is that there’s uncertainty in the market about will there be subsidies? Will there be mandates? And so, the insurers don’t know how to price and are pulling out. […] this is a bill that makes each measure of health and health care worse, […] It’s not a proposal that anybody would put forward as a credible or sane proposal for solving the problems in Obamacare.

    […] it doesn’t have the subsidies. So, by cutting the subsidies substantially, we’re taking $1 trillion away from support for people’s health care in the bottom 40 percent and returning it as a tax cut to the top 2 percent. […]

  54. says

    “Congress, law enforcement officials concerned Russia is trying to discredit FBI probe”:

    CBS News has learned that members of Congress and U.S. law enforcement officials are increasingly concerned that Russia is already trying or will try to discredit the FBI counterintelligence investigation. The probe into whether Trump campaign representatives coordinated with the Russians during the 2016 campaign has been underway for about ten months. Former U.S. intelligence officials and current congressional sources say Russians will try to exploit vulnerabilities and spread misinformation as the investigation unfolds and as the FBI gets closer to a conclusion.

    Multiple sources say Russian operatives are skilled at planting false information and watching it spread. Just this week, FBI Director James Comey testified on Capitol Hill that he believed the Russians were still meddling in U.S. politics and that he expected more Russian interference in upcoming 2018 elections and beyond….

  55. blf says

    Jared Kushner’s family criticised for touting cash-for-visas scheme in China (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    On Saturday, [Jared] Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, took to the stage at an event at Beijing’s Ritz-Carlton hotel to urge Chinese investors to back One Journal Square, two skyscrapers currently being built in New Jersey.

    Members of the audience of 100 were reportedly told that if they stumped up at least half a million dollars for the project they could become US residents under a controversial cash-for-residency program that is known in China as the “golden visa”.

    CNN reported that Meyer touted Jared Kushner’s position in the White House. “In 2008, my brother Jared Kushner joined the family company as CEO, and recently moved to Washington to join the administration,” she said.

    According to the New York Times, which was subsequently ejected from the seminar along with the Washington Post, Meyer told investors: “{This project} means a lot to me and my entire family”.


    Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer during George W Bush’s administration, told the Washington Post the bid to seduce Chinese investors was “incredibly stupid and highly inappropriate”. “They clearly imply that the Kushners are going to make sure you get your visa{…} Of course {Chinese investors are} going to want to invest.”


    According to the Washington Post, its reporter’s phone was grabbed by event organisers who blocked attempts to interview investors and ordered reporters to leave. “This is not the story we want,” a PR representative was quoted as saying.


    There are additional events elsewhere in China scheduled over the next several days, albeit it is unclear if any Kushner will be attending.

  56. says

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” today. He commented on Trumpcare:

    In the area of Medicaid, they are going to eliminate Medicaid expansion. And I cover in Ohio 700,000 people now, a third of whom have mental illness, drug addiction, and a quarter of whom have chronic disease.

    […] $8 billion is not enough to fund [high risk pools] — it’s ridiculous. And the fact is, states will not opt for that. […]

    I’m concerned about how this is going to affect people who find themselves in a very difficult position, […]

  57. blf says

    Teh le penazis are taking a snit out of teh trum-prat’s coloring-book, and denying access to some media for their election-night (that is, tonight’s) event. As a result, both (at the time of this writing) Le Monde and Libération are boycotting the event. (From the Grauniad’s live blog, French election 2017…, 17:19(quoted below) and 18:12 marks.)

    A list of online and mainly left-leaning media organisations and websites say they have not been accredited for the Front National’s election evening event in the Bois de Vincennes on the eastern edge of Paris.

    Organisations including Buzzfeed, Politico, Rue89, Mediapart and Les Jours have all said they have been refused admittance. […]

    Most voting stations are now closed, except those in populous areas (e.g., Paris…), which close in about 30m (at 20h00 (8pm) local time). No results or predictions can be reported until then, by law.

  58. blf says

    Apparently C4 in the UK will be broadcasting an investigation into “Dr” Andrew Wakefield — the anti-vaccine quack — and his influence on / connections with teh trum-prat and dalekocracy, Trump, The Doctor [sic] & the Vaccine Scandal: Channel 4 Dispatches:

    Cathy Newman reveals the role played by the disgraced British doctor [sic] Andrew Wakefield, who was struck off by the GMC seven years ago, in Donald Trump’s administration. She asks whether the President’s [sic] opinions on autism have been shaped by Wakefield’s views on the topic.

    I have no idea if this will be viewable outside the UK, but except there will some reports on the broadcast report.

    Orac has long reported that teh trum-prat himself is an anti-vax eejit, and hair furor is known to have met with Wakefield. Orac’s most recent post is about Wakefield’s attempts to murder the children of Somali immigrants in Minnesota, a pogom which has had some success, Thanks for the measles yet again, Andy: Antivax vultures swoop in to spread misinformation among the Minnesota Somali immigrant community.

  59. blf says

    French voting stations are now closed, and the initial projections are a Macron win (Grauniad live blog, 19:01 mark):

    French state TV vote estimate: Macron 65.1%, Le Pen 35.9%

    The centrist Emmanuel Macron is the next president of France, defeating his far right rival Marine Le Pen by a comfortable 65.1% to 35.9%, according to a usually reliable vote estimate by pollsters Ispos/Sopra Steria for French state TV and radio and Le Monde.


    Interestingly, the French don’t use exit polls but the initial counts to do projections (18:27 mark):

    Unlike the exit polls operated in many countries, in which people are asked how they voted as they leave the polling station, these estimates — in use and steadily perfected since 1965 — are based on an actual vote count.

    Pollsters select about 200 early-closing polling stations around the country — in rural areas, small towns and urban agglomerations — carefully chosen to be as representative as possible of the country as a whole.

    As soon as those stations have closed at 7pm, and as the votes in them are being counted, a polling official records, for a sizeable sample of the ballots, the actual number of votes cast for each candidate.

    Those numbers are then run through a sophisticated computer program that adjusts them for past results and assorted variables, and produces a national vote estimate. These are not the official result, but nor are they an “exit poll”.

    They are usually very accurate, generally to within a percentage point. […]

    The local results for where I live are not yet available.

  60. says

    So glad to see that Macron won decisively. Le Pen was rejected. This is good news for those who want to keep NATO intact. Also good news for the European Union, while being bad news for Putin.

  61. blf says

    Next up, next month (11 and 18 June), are the elections for the French Parliament. President-elect Macron does not have any political party per se, meaning no clear base in the (current) Parliament, so there’s going to be another round of, as SC@76 put it, “every political event for the foreseeable future has to be as fucking stressful as possible.”

    An analysis in the Grauniad some days ago, Macron is en route to the Elysée, but could find it hard to govern: “The centrist candidate’s lead appears unassailable, yet without the support of an established party it may not be enough to ensure that he can govern”.

    Only loosely related, France 24 reports on an incident some days ago I wasn’t previously aware of, Eiffel Tower stunt leaves security red-faced on eve of French election: “Security was stepped up at the Eiffel Tower on Friday ahead of Sunday’s presidential election in France after Greenpeace activists scaled the Paris landmark and hung out a big political [sic] banner [carrying the French national motto, Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity)].” Good for Greenpeace (disclaimer: I’ve been an active supporter of Greenpeace starting about Ronaddled Raygun’s regime)!

  62. says

    Hunter, writing for Daily Kos had a few choice words for Tom Price and Paul Ryan, the members of team Trump who hit the morning shows today to lie to their fellow citizens.

    It’s Sunday, that blessed day reserved for national political figures to appear on morning television shows and lie outright to America. […] America seems hell-bent on (1) electing blatantly crooked people to office, (2) listening intently while those crooked people insist that Reality Is What You Make Of It, So Shut Up, and (3) getting extraordinarily twitchy whenever any other serious member of journalism or politics implies that maybe we ought not treat crooked people who lie to us as if they are Right Proper Gentlemen […]

    This is how we get spectacles like this morning’s shows, which featured two of the biggest crooks in American politics, both of whom trotted out huge, massive, consequential lies […] First up was the inexplicably not-indicted-yet Tom Price, taking a break from stock profiteering in Congress to serve as Donald Trump’s head of Health and Human Services. He made the rounds of several shows to, among other things, deny that cutting $880 billion from Medicaid counted as cutting Medicaid. […]

    HOST: … that that’s actually not going to result in millions of Americans not getting Medicaid?
    CROOK: Absolutely not. And we believe strongly that the Medicaid population will be cared for in a better way under our program because it will be more responsive to them. These decisions will be made closer to them.

    With nearly a trillion less dollars. The premise here is that you can get equivalent health care after cutting nearly a trillion dollars out of the program and spending it on tax cuts for the wealthy […]

    Lest we blame the sociopathic liar Trump for this new coarsening of our discourse, aka rank dishonesty, let us remember that the Tom Prices of the nation have been peddling overt falsehoods to nearby television cameras for decades, now. Trump did not cause this. Trump was the result. […]

    On the other end of the liar’s spectrum; America’s dumbest wonk, Rep. Paul Ryan. Now here is a man who has failed upward. […] Paul Ryan’s angle today was to brazenly tell every American with preexisting conditions that it’s not his fault if insurance just became unattainable for twenty or so million of them; it’s your fault for not being so fabulously rich that you can pay Literally Any Price for whatever insurance is offered. […]

    CROOK: Under this bill, no matter what, you cannot be denied coverage if you have a pre-existing condition.
    HOST: But you can charge people more.
    CROOK: Let me finish my point. You can’t charge people more, if they keep continuous coverage. […]
    HOST: But as you know, Mr. Speaker, sometimes people lose coverage through no fault of their own. […]
    CROOK: So let me finish my point. That’s right, so I was getting there until you just cut me off. The point of this bill, in those states that get a waiver to do what they need to do to make it work better in their particular states, has support exactly for that very person. […]

    By which he means the $8 billion slush fund tacked in to “support” a problem estimated at $200 billion, meaning $192 billion’s worth of the needed “support” is explicitly not in the bill, and leaving the rest to the states to be cobbled together in the form of “high-risk pools” that do not, […] work. The previous incarnation of the bill resulted in more than twenty million people losing coverage as a result of not being able to afford any such insurance, high-risk pool or otherwise; the new bill is widely expected to, if anything, make those numbers worse. […]

    Crook also pressed the point that the bill does too have a score from the Congressional Budget Office, because he says so, and that you’re the dishonest one if you happen to know that the score he’s talking about is for a previous bill and doesn’t count here. He says it’s still close enough, which therefore means he’s also accepting the estimate of 20+ million new uninsured as still valid while still insisting to you, on camera, that 20 million equals zero million. […]

    it’s not going to get better until we institute some punishment for lying more substantive than thank you for joining us today, I hope to see you next weekend as well.

  63. says

    Follow-up to comment 94.

    Senator Susan Collins, who is a Republican, said a few things that are true about Trumpcare. In doing so, she basically refuted what Paul Ryan and Tom Price said on the Sunday morning talk shows.

    […] “Do you agree with Speaker Ryan and President Trump who are saying people with preexisting conditions are going have the same coverage they have now, even better, Speaker Ryan said, in some cases?” George Stephanopoulos asked Collins on ABC’s “This Week,” […]

    “I think that’s unlikely,” Collins said. “It’s true that under the House bill that a state that gets a waiver would still have to provide coverage to people with preexisting conditions. But that coverage might well be unaffordable.” […]


  64. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lynna#94, I saw Price on Meet the Press which was repeated at 1 ct on MSNBC (taped AM Joy [happy first anniversary of being one the air Joy Reid] while the MTP was on NBC, and I was shopping). Wanted to hurl things at the poor computer screen. Did a bit of yelling at the lies and bullshit Price offered. Andrea Mitchell seemed totally unimpressed and semi-amused until the French Elections broke in.

    Anyway, tonight ex-President Obama is receiving the Profile in Courage Award from the Kennedy Foundation. Televised on MSNBC with Chris Matthews as MC at 8-10 ET.

  65. blf says

    Heh. I got it right. Locally, where I live in France, teh le penazi got c.45%. Despite this being le penazi territory (unfortunately), there are, as far as I know, no locally-elected le penazis in any of the town councils or as MPs.† Hopefully, in the upcoming (June) Parliamentary elections, that lack of fascists will continue.

      † As far as I can recall, the nearest elected le penazi is c.100km away. This doesn’t the more local elected people don’t do stoooopid facist-like things; e.g., where I live was one of the places which banned the burkini last summer.

  66. blf says

    me@100, This doesn’t the more local → This doesn’t mean the more local…
    Sorry, I’m having a nice French vin and cheese. It must be the cheese. Dangerous stuff, cheese, it makeese extra offerings to Typos.

  67. microraptor says

    Well, good to see that France apparently learned something from Brexit and Dump.

  68. says

    Trump and Pence are hanging out with rightwing religious fanatics that are on the fringes of evangelical christianity of various flavors. For example, Trump recently met with Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress.

    On the eve of signing a controversial “religious freedom” executive order, President Donald Trump spent time with a right wing pastor who has vehemently opposed LGBTQ rights.

    Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino Jr. tweeted a photo of the president posing happily with Pastor Robert Jeffress in the Oval Office on Tuesday […].

    Jeffress equates homosexuality with pedophilia. Trump didn’t meet with him casually, he met with him in the Oval Office.

    As Steve Benen pointed out:

    During last year’s campaign, Jeffress said he was supporting Trump’s candidacy because it’s “biblical” to support a “strongman” in government.

  69. says

    Video excerpts from President Obama’s speech accepting the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award can be viewed on Talking Points Memo.

    A few text excerpts from the transcript are posted on the same page:

    I hope that current members of Congress recall that it actually doesn’t take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential. But does require some courage to champion the vulnerable, and the sick and the infirm. Those who often have no access to the corridors of power. I hope they understand that courage means not simply doing what is politically expedient, but doing what they believe deep in their hearts is right.

  70. says

    NBC is reporting that on November 10, in a meeting with Trump, President Obama personally warned Trump about hiring Mike Flynn.

    Meanwhile, Trump is repeating on Twitter that the Obama administration had given Flynn a security clearance. Yes, that’s true. And then Obama fired Flynn, and then Obama warned you personally about Flynn. Get yourself up to date on the relevant facts, team Trump. WTF?

  71. says

    From Josh Marshall regarding people lecturing Hillary Clinton about “taking responsibility” for her defeat:

    […] Close victories and defeats have a million potential causes. It matters a great deal which ones you want to focus on. But just in the realm of human nature and the standards we apply in almost every other context, the ‘take responsibility’ lecturing of Clinton just seems bizarre.

  72. says

    Obama Warned Trump Against Hiring Mike Flynn, Say Officials

    Former President Obama warned President Donald Trump against hiring Mike Flynn as his national security adviser, three former Obama administration officials tell NBC News.

    The warning, which has not been previously reported, came less than 48 hours after the November election when the two sat down for a 90-minute conversation in the Oval Office.

    The revelation comes on a day that former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is expected to testify that Flynn misled the White House about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. […]

    According to all three former officials, Obama warned Trump against hiring Flynn. The Obama administration fired Flynn in 2014 from his position as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, largely because of mismanagement and temperament issues.

    Trump named Flynn as his national security adviser. Flynn, who was conducting private conversations with the Russian ambassador regarding sanctions, was then fired three weeks into the administration for misleading Vice President Pence about those conversations.

    News of the Obama warning came as Trump sought to get ahead of a day of unpleasant disclosures about his former top foreign policy aide, taking to Twitter Monday to cast aspersions on Yates, the 27-year Justice Department prosecutor who warned the White House that then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn had misled officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

    “Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel, Trump tweeted, referring to Yates’ conversation with White House counsel Donald McGahn.

    But Trump has left many other important questions about the Flynn affair unanswered, including: What, if anything, did he know about his national security adviser’s conversations with the Russian ambassador? […]

    In a second tweet Monday morning, Trump noted that “General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama administration, but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that.” […]

  73. says

    Various organizations are creating advertisements to fight back against Republican health care legislation. One example (YouTube link) of the ads produced by Save My Care, a health care advocacy group.

    In other news, Scott Pruitt continues to hobble the Environmental Protection Agency. From the New York Times:

    The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board, the latest signal of what critics call a campaign by the Trump administration to shrink the agency’s regulatory reach by reducing the role of academic research.

    A spokesman for the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, said he would consider replacing the academic scientists with representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate, as part of the wide net it plans to cast. […]

  74. says

    Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department is using discredited, racist court decisions to argue in favor of Trump’s Muslim ban:

    […] If you want to defend the president’s efforts to lock people out of the nation because of their religion, you might not want to rely on discredited Supreme Court decisions […]

    Palmer v. Thompson is one of the great missteps in the Supreme Court’s often unfortunate history on matters of race. This case centered on the city of Jackson, Mississippi’s operation of five racially segregated public swimming pools. After a court ordered the pools integrated, the city closed the pools rather than operating pools where people of all races could swim. And the Supreme Court, in a 5–4 vote, let Jackson get away with this scheme.

    As a federal judge acknowledged in 1989, “the Supreme Court has never expressly overturned Palmer, but it has all but done so.”

    Nevertheless, the Trump administration cites Palmer favorably in a brief it filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which hears a challenge to Trump’s Muslim ban on Monday afternoon.

    A central issue in that case, International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, is whether Donald Trump’s many, repeated statements that he intends to ban Muslims from entering the United States show that he acted with an unconstitutional motivation when he signed an order banning many Muslims from entering the United States. […]

    The Trump administration’s brief cites Palmer for the proposition that “searching for governmental purpose outside the operative terms of governmental action and official pronouncements is fraught with practical ‘pitfalls’ and ‘hazards’ that would make courts’ task ‘extremely difficult.’”

    The administration, in other words, wants courts to evaluate the Muslim ban based solely on the facial language of the order and Trump’s official actions in office — not on his many promises to ban Muslims.

    […] the Court stepped away from Palmer only a few years after Palmer was handed down. As Justice Byron White wrote for the Court in Washington v. Davis, “to the extent that Palmer suggests a generally applicable proposition that legislative purpose is irrelevant in constitutional adjudication, our prior cases. . . are to the contrary.” […]

  75. says

    A different look at the widespread and deplorable results of having Trump as president, this time from the angle of Federal Communications Committee rulings:

    Thanks to the deregulatory efforts of […] Trump’s Federal Communications Committee, the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group announced today that it will purchase dozens of televisions stations across the country, allowing the company to spread its conservative programming to new markets and consolidate the ownership of broadcast stations in fewer hands.

    […] Given Sinclair’s existing slate of 173 television stations in 81 markets and its national news operation, the combined broadcast company will become the largest provider of local TV news in the country. […]

    The purchase would have been impossible if Trump’s newly appointed FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, had not rolled back a key Obama administration regulation that had prevented Sinclair from further expansion. […]

    Sinclair is helmed by longtime chairman David Smith […] has wielded his media company in support of his conservative ideology, using the stations “to advance a mostly right-leaning agenda since the presidency of George W. Bush,” according to The New York Times. […]

    In 2008, in the swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, Sinclair aired a conservative group’s advertisement linking then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) to Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers. […]

    In 2012, the network was back in the spotlight after its stations in Florida and Ohio ran an election special that predominantly smeared Obama.

    And in late 2016, Sinclair reportedly agreed to broadcast its “Trump interviews across the country without commentary” using its “television stations across the country in many swing states” in a deal with the Trump campaign for more access. Sinclair ended up with 15 “exclusive” interviews with Trump, “including 11 during the final three months of the campaign in critical states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio,” and 20 more with top Trump surrogates. […]

    best known for having received payments from the Bush administration to promote its policies without disclosing that detail in his media commentary; […]

    Sinclair’s conservative programming bent has a lot of impact because of the concentration of its stations in presidential swing states. The Tribune purchase will give the network more influence, as Tribune’s television portfolio includes stations in states with high political value, like Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, and Ohio.

    When Trump seeks re-election in 2020, he will be able to count on the support of a massive network of television stations helmed by a conservative who owes his company’s latest growth to the president.

    Media Matters link

    There’s some speculation that Sinclair might hire Bill O’Reilly.

  76. says

    Wonkette covered the fact that Trump lied when he said he thought President Obama was joking about Mike Flynn:

    This morning we learned, […] that our Forever President, Barack Obama, had warned Trump when they met after the election that he should not hire Mike Flynn. […]

    For an extremely abbreviated timeline,

    Trump “won” the election.

    He met with Obama, who said (paraphrase!), “don’t hire that crazy […] Mike Flynn.”

    Mike Flynn continued to be an actual literal foreign agent but didn’t tell nobody, but Elijah Cummings knew, and we knew, and everyone knew, but Trump acted like he didn’t know.

    Mike Flynn called the Russian ambassador a whole bunch of times.

    Acting Attorney General Sally Yates heard him, because we tap the phones of the Russian ambassador, DUH OBVS, talking to the Russian ambassador and reported spymaster, promising something about sanctions.

    Vice President Mike Pence went on tv and said “nah, Flynn never talked to the Russian ambassador about sanctions.”

    Sally Yates went to the White House and was like “HEADS UP, YUH HUH.”

    Nobody fired Mike Flynn.

    It somehow “got into the newspapers.”

    They fired Sally Yates.

    Since Yates is scheduled to testify today at 2:30 Eastern (and yes, we will be liveblogging), Donald Trump went on the twitter to say it was Barack Obama’s fault Flynn got security clearance in the first place! How come nobody is blaming Obama, […] (And whom he’d then fired, for being crazy […].) Not so fast, said Barack Obama (okay, three Obama officials) who then called NBC News to rat out Trump for being a stupid idiot who lies.

    Now Trump’s people have confirmed the exchange, but — and you will like this — they say they thought he was joking.

    A senior Trump administration official acknowledged Monday that Obama raised the issue of Flynn, saying the former president made clear he was “not a fan of Michael Flynn.” Another official said Obama’s remark seemed like it was made in jest.


  77. blf says

    Anti-protest bills would ‘attack right to speak out’ under Donald Trump:

    The ACLU says more than 30 bills have been introduced amid a huge swell of activism, prompting UN intervention over criminalization of peaceful protest

    More than 20 states have proposed bills that would crack down on protests and demonstrations since Donald Trump was elected [sic], in a moved [sic] that UN experts have branded “incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law”.

    The proposed laws would variously increase the penalties for protesting in large groups, ban protesters from wearing masks during demonstrations and, in some states, protect drivers from liability if they strike someone taking part in a protest.


    The ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild have said many of the bills are likely unconstitutional. “The proposed bills have been especially pervasive in states where protests flourished recently,” said Vera Eidelman, who works in the ACLU’s speech, privacy and technology project.

    “This flood of bills represents an unprecedented level of hostility towards protesters in the 21st century. And many of these bills attack the right to speak out precisely where the supreme court has historically held it to be the most robust: in public parks, streets and sidewalks.”

    The flurry of legislation has prompted UN experts to intervene, with two special rapporteurs from the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights […] to complain to the US state department at the end of March.


    The letter was particularly scathing about two bills signed into law by North Dakota’s governor, Doug Burgum, in March. House bill 1304 cracks down on people wearing masks or covering their faces at demonstrations; house bill 1426 increased protest penalties from a class C felony to a class B felony if a “riot involves 100 or more persons”, doubling the maximum prison sentence to 10 years.


  78. blf says

    Nothing particularly new or unexpected here, but I like the snark excerpted below, Donald Trump’s ignorance is becoming more evident with each passing day:

    It’s laughable when pundits try to distill a Trump doctrine from his word salad. His own words illuminate the undeveloped space between his ears


    And then there’s healthcare. Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated, Trump said in February, revealing that he knows less than your average drunk person in a bar about America’s overly complex and wasteful mess of a nonsystem for providing medical services.


    The author is David Cay Johnston, the Pulitzer Prize winner who was sent hair furor’s 2005 tax return summary.

  79. blf says

    The thugs are now not only refusing to meet, or running away from, their constituents, they are resorting to signing idiotic bills in unannounced and all-but-secret manner, Texas governor signs ‘sanctuary cities’ ban in ceremony held without notice:

    In appearance on Facebook Live, Greg Abbott signs controversial measure that allows police to ask about immigration status during routine stops

    The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, signed a so-called sanctuary cities ban on Sunday, in a ceremony staged without advance warning and shown on Facebook Live.

    The measure lets police ask during routine stops whether someone is in the US legally and threatens sheriffs with jail if they do not cooperate with federal immigration agents.


    Critics said Abbott signed the bill when and how he did in order to avoid protesters. A spokesman for the governor, John Wittman, said Abbott chose to sign the bill on social media because that’s where most people are getting their news nowadays.

    The law allows police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they detain, a situation that can range from arrest for a crime to being stopped for a traffic violation.

    It also requires police chiefs and sheriffs — under the threat of jail and removal from office — to comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for possible deportation.


    The bill will not take effect until 1 September. Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas, said “we will fight this assault in the courts” and the ballot box.


  80. says

    Yates was the witness everyone who knows her was confident she would be.

    (I just noticed because I was typing while there was a segment from the hearing on TV that her voice is quite similar to Elizabeth Warren’s but with a Southern accent.)

    Trump is blowing his top on Twitter.

  81. says

    Yates was the witness everyone who knows her was confident she would be.

    That kind of makes it sound like I know her or know people who know her. I just meant the people I read or saw on TV prior to her testimony.

  82. says

  83. says

    The problem of Flynn’s “underlying conduct”:

    The Trump administration has insisted for months that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was ousted in February specifically because he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

    That rationale was dealt a forceful blow on Monday, when former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified that Flynn’s “underlying conduct was problematic in and of itself.”

    Yates repeatedly circled back to Flynn’s “underlying conduct” in a hearing of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism, saying she made it expressly clear to White House Counsel Don McGahn in a phone call and two in-person meetings that it was a matter of concern.

    Yates said she couldn’t reveal the nature of that conduct because it was drawn from classified information. But she emphasized that Russia knew about it too, leading the Justice Department under her tenure to believe that Flynn was “compromised with respect to the Russians.”

    “Not only did we believe that the Russians knew this but that they likely had proof of this information,” Yates testified. “And that created a compromise situation, a situation where the national security advisor essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians.”

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is also probing into Russia’s election interference, said on Twitter that Yates’ comments about Flynn’s “conduct” were the “most striking” part of her testimony.

    Most striking about testimony: Yates’ conclusion Flynn’s “underlying conduct” was problematic. Not just his lie but what he was lying about.

    […] An hour before Yates appeared before the Senate panel and detailed her repeated, forceful warnings about Flynn’s “problematic” conduct, Spicer acknowledged reports that former President Barack Obama warned Trump not to hire Flynn two days after the real estate mogul won the election, saying Obama made it clear that “he wasn’t exactly a fan.”

    If there was “truly a concern,” Spicer insisted in his daily briefing, the Obama administration should have suspended Flynn’s security clearance long ago.

  84. says

    James Clapper telling it like it is:

    Casting doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the presidential election, as President Donald Trump frequently does, “helps the Russians,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified Monday.

    “Does it serve any purpose for high officials like the President to say, well it could have been somebody else?” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Clapper during a highly-anticipated Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

    “You could rationalize that it helps the Russians by obfuscating who was actually responsible,” Clapper replied, describing the evidence that Russia was behind cyberhacking and propaganda efforts that influenced the 2016 race as “overwhelming.” […]

  85. says

    Ted Cruz was so annoying and obnoxious that it was a pleasure to see Sally Yates school him:

    Ted Cruz: By the expressed text of the statue it says, quote: ‘Whenever the President finds that the entry of any alien or class of aliens into the United States, would be detrimental to the interest of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for any period he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or class of aliens as immigrants or non immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens, any restrictions he may deem appropriate.” Would you agree that, that is broad statutory authorization?

    Sally Yates: I would, and I am familiar with that and I’m also familiar with an additional provision of the INA that says: “No person shall receive preference or be discriminated against in issuance of a visa because of race, nationality, or place of birth.” That, I believe was promulgated after the statute that you just quoted. And, that’s been part of the discussion with the courts in respect to the INA, is whether this more specific statute trumps the first one that you just described. But my concern was not an INA concern, here; it rather, was a constitutional concern.

  86. says

    Trump seems to be delegating all of the Commander in Chief duties to the Pentagon. From the Washington Post:

    […] The new strategy, which has the backing of top Cabinet officials, would authorize the Pentagon, not the White House, to set troop numbers in Afghanistan and give the military far broader authority to use airstrikes to target Taliban militants. […]

    In keeping with the Trump administration’s desire to empower military decision-making, the Pentagon would have final say on troop levels and how those forces are employed on the battlefield. […]

  87. says

    FBI Director James Comey said a bunch of stuff about Human Abedin, and about the emails she forwarded to her husband … that stuff was not true. The FBI knows that Comey lied, but hasn’t decided what to do yet.

    I think Comey dramatized (lied) about Abedin’s actions because he is still trying to justify his pre-election announcement about continuing the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

    This just looks worse and worse for Comey. From Peter Elkind, writing for ProPublica:

    […] Perhaps Comey’s most surprising revelation was that Huma Abedin — Weiner’s wife and a top Clinton deputy — had made “a regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of Clinton messages to her husband, “some of which contain classified information.” Comey testified that Abedin had done this so that the disgraced former congressman could print them out for her boss. […]

    The New York Post plastered its story on the front page with a photo of an underwear-clad Weiner and the headline: “HARD COPY: Huma sent Weiner classified Hillary emails to print out.” The Daily News went with a similar front-page screamer: “HUMA ERROR: Sent classified emails to sext maniac Weiner.”

    The problem: Much of what Comey said about this was inaccurate. Now the FBI is trying to figure out what to do about it.

    FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found. On Monday, the FBI was said to be preparing to correct the record by sending a letter to Congress later this week. But that plan now appears on hold, with the bureau undecided about what to do.

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] I’m willing to believe that Comey – with a mix of defensiveness and perhaps animus – got carried away rather than being willfully deceiving. But whether or not to correct the record should not be a hard call. Moreover, those excuses – defensiveness and animus – cast a very dark light on Comey’s decision-making last fall. These claims amounted to his justifications for action. The episode tends to confirm what many suspected about Comey’s actions – animus/bias with regards to Clinton, followed by defensiveness and prevarication over a clearly (at best) botched decision.

    As noted by the Washington Post, “None of the forwarded emails were marked classified, but a small number — a handful, one person said — contained information that was later judged to contain classified information, […]”

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Comey was given an opportunity to explain his late-October intervention in the presidential election – a decision that played an important role in elevating Donald Trump to the White House – and his testimony included a variety of key details that now appear to be wrong. […]

  88. says

    From Ted Lieu:

    Did @POTUS violate 18 USC 1512, which prevents “intimidation” of a witness to “influence” testimony in “official proceeding”?

    The Trump tweet in question:

    Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel.

    Ted Lieu’s legal background includes being a military prosector. He was also editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Law Journal.

  89. says

    Zack Ford at Think Progress also covered the fact that FBI Director James Comey misled us all … again … about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

    […] Though the presidential election was now six months ago, Comey is still misleading people about the emails, and the FBI can’t even figure out how to correct it all.

    The latest revelation comes from a new report from ProPublica about something Comey said in his testimony last week to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He claimed that Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s top advisers, made “a regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of Clinton’s emails — “some of which contain classified information” — to her husband, Anthony Weiner. According to Comey, she did this so that Weiner could print them out for Clinton to read on paper.

    Apparently, that story wasn’t accurate. FBI officials privately confirmed to ProPublica that Comey’s account of Abedin’s actions just doesn’t hold water. In reality, Abedin only forwarded a few emails, not “hundreds and thousands” as Comey claimed. Also, none of the messages she sent were marked as classified at the time they were sent. The FBI suspects other emails appeared on Weiner’s computer as a result of Abedin’s Blackberry backups. It’s unclear if any of the 12 classified emails Comey said they found there had actually been among the handful she forwarded.

    The FBI originally planned to send a letter to Congress this week correcting Comey’s version of events, but that plan is apparently still on hold.

    In the meantime, congressional Republicans have still been using Comey’s story to further litigate Clinton’s emails. During a hearing on Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper how he’d react if an employee had sent “hundreds or even thousands” of emails to their spouse, obviously referencing Comey’s testimony. […]

  90. says

    Mormons have been condescending to Native Americans ever since they arrived in Utah. Senator Orrin Hatch is perpetuating that approach:

    Speaking alongside Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about the Trump administration’s order to review — and potentially shrink or eliminate — nearly 30 national monuments, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said Native Americans were “manipulated” into their support for the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument southeastern Utah.

    “The Indians, they don’t fully understand that a lot of the things that they currently take for granted on those lands, they won’t be able to do if it’s made clearly into a monument or a wilderness,” Hatch said on Sunday. “Once you put a monument there, you do restrict a lot of things that could be done, and that includes use of the land… Just take my word for it.”

    Hatch’s dismissal of native voices is not only condescending, it is incredibly inaccurate in the case of Bears Ears. Protections for Bears Ears were nearly 80 years in the making. Most recently, the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition, which brought together five tribal nations, pushed for the protection of the Bears Ears region. After the group received no substantial response from the Utah Congressional delegation about protecting the area, the group opted to propose that President Barack Obama should create a national monument, which he did in December 2016. […]

    Think Progress link

  91. says

    The ACLU issued a travel warning for Texas.

    […] On Tuesday the organization issued a travel warning for the state of Texas following the passage of SB4, a controversial piece of anti-immigration legislation targeting “sanctuary cities” — warning anyone traveling to Texas that their constitutional rights may be violated while in the state.

    The ACLU announced the travel warning in a press release on Tuesday, just a few days after SB4 was signed into law. All encounters with federal, state, and county law enforcement are considered potentially hazardous, and could result in harassment, the organization said […]


  92. says

    Oh, FFS. Sean Spicer said during the press briefing today that the White House didn’t act on the warning from Sally Yates because she is a “political opponent.”

    The White House has a new explanation for its decision not to immediately fire National Security Adviser Michael Flynn after learning that he could be the target of Russian blackmail efforts: The acting attorney general, who supplied that information, was a supporter of Hillary Clinton.

    On January 26, Sally Yates, then acting attorney general, met with White House Counsel Donald McGahn to warn him that Flynn could be compromised by the Russians. He had lied to the Vice President Mike Pence about the content of his conversations with the Russian ambassador, and the Russians knew he had lied. But President Donald Trump waited 18 days before showing Flynn the door for lying to Pence.

    On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the administration’s decision to keep Flynn on as national security adviser for more than two weeks after Yates’ warning by implying that Yates, a Barack Obama appointee, could not be trusted because she was “a strong supporter of Clinton.”

    “One thing that I think is important to note is, let’s look at, again, how this came down,” Spicer said. “Someone who is not exactly a supporter of the president’s agenda, who a couple days after this first conversation took place refused to uphold a lawful order of the president’s…she had come here, given a heads up, told us there were materials, and at the same we did what we should do. Just because someone comes in and gives you a heads up about something and says I want to share some information, doesn’t mean that you immediately jump the gun and go take an action.” […]

    After being asked multiple times if the White House took any steps to reduce Flynn’s role or access to classified information after receiving Yates’ warning, Spicer finally said, “I’m not aware of any.” […]


  93. says

    This is just awful. Trump’s ridiculous tweet about Sally Yates, (see comment 127), has resulted in dozens of rightwing media outlets following his lead to smear Yates.

    Right-wing media outlets are echoing smears from President Donald Trump and his administration against former acting Attorney General Sally Yates leading up to her Senate testimony regarding former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Their dubious claim that Yates is a Democratic partisan comes from a single disgraced Bush-era State Department official who resigned after “impeding ongoing criminal investigations in Iraq,” while their claim that she leaked classified information has not been independently substantiated by anyone with knowledge of the situation. […]

    The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft claimed that Yates was a “Hillary loyalist” who “was referred to in an email released by WikiLeaks before the election as one of four known loyalists of candidate Hillary Clinton.” Hoft, in another article, added that “President Trump alleged Yates was the leaker of classified information to the liberal media!” […]

    Breitbart’s Kristina Wong wrote that Trump “suggested to Senators on Monday morning that” they ask Yates “how classified information she went to the White House counsel with got leaked to the media soon after.” The article did not note that neither Trump nor anyone else has provided evidence for this claim. […]

    The Daily Caller on May 8 tweeted, “FLASHBACK: DC Lawyer Claims FBI Agents Are Working To Expose Former DoJ Officials Such As Loretta Lynch, Sally Yates.” The tweet linked to a November article quoting attorney Joe DiGenova claiming Yates had “‘done something that’” she is “going to regret.” […]


    So, they are branding Sally Yates as a leaker of classified information. There’s absolutely no foundation for those lies.

  94. says

    Follow-up to comment 133.

    Alex Jones mocked Jimmy Kimmel, and he floated a lot of lies while doing so.

    Oh, look at Jimmy Kimmel, his child has heart defects. It isn’t that they had the child early or had a cesarian, they won’t even tell them that, that that causes heart problems obviously.

    No, no, no, we’re not going to tell you it’s all the vaccines you took or chemicals you ingested. We’re not going to discuss the vaccines they just gave your child. Let’s just say, “Give us free health care or our babies will die. Don’t our babies deserve it?”

    When you have state-run health care you have medical tyranny and when you have everyone bound under one system, they can tax you and control you and do whatever they want, once there’s no competition and choice. But it doesn’t matter for the pseudo-intellectuals of Jimmy Kimmel. He can just get up there and say, “We need national health care for my baby.” It’s for the children, sounds so much easier.


  95. says

    Zack Ford at Think Progress also covered the fact that FBI Director James Comey misled us all … again … about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

    When I posted about Comey’s testimony last week I noted:

    Just to note once again – Comey is claiming they found 12 emails which allegedly “contained classified information” out of the 40,000 they examined. The 12 were duplicates of ones they’d already seen, and in response to questioning he seemed to admit that this classified information wasn’t anything to speak of. After his summer testimony, I’m skeptical of his claims about classified material in the first place.

    I’m not at all surprised to learn that his presentation during the hearing was less than accurate. In his inappropriate press conference last summer, in his public testimony before Congress that followed, and now in this latest hearing, he’s been remarkably sloppy in how he’s characterized what Clinton did and specifically the matter of classified information. Even if he’s not intentionally blowing it out of all proportion, he’s seemed happy to leave people with false impressions by referring to emails containing classified material without specifying what sort of material, whether they were properly marked, or whether they were even classified at the time they were sent or received. During the testimony last year, a Democrat on the Committee had to point out that he hadn’t noted that the markings he was describing were not proper markings. IIRC, he had to be publicly corrected by the State Department at the time, and that didn’t receive nearly as much attention as his original claims.

    The media has played a role here as well. In addition to many other problems with their coverage of this, they haven’t sought to clarify these classification and handling issues with all of the interested parties or to present the issues in a way the public can understand.

    Sending a letter to Congress correcting Comey’s testimony is necessary but not enough. They need to issue a clear public statement detailing the inaccuracies in his testimony and an apology to Abedin. And Comey needs to engage in some serious introspection about why in this particular case he’s so enthusiastically reckless with the truth, and always in a way that puts Clinton and her associates in a worse light.

  96. says

    Why is no one talking or asking about Mary McCord? Yates presumably was referring to her when she talked about the person who went with her to meet with McGahn. Rachel Maddow noted that last night (although strangely I don’t think she said her name), but then didn’t ask about McCord’s involvement or resignation during either of the interviews that followed. No one asked about it during the hearing. It’s like there’s a tacit agreement not to talk about her. Does she have some family emergency that she wants to keep private and people are respecting that? I just can’t think of any reason everyone would be so careful not to talk about her role in the investigation or her sudden departure from DoJ.

  97. says

    Re #127 – It’s weird that they and so many of their Republican lackeys are arguing that the leak had to have come from someone in the DoJ. The leak was well after the meetings with McGahn, we have no idea how many people he brought in on the information, and the White House leaks like a fucking sieve. There were also a number of Trump aides who wanted Flynn out.

  98. says

    SC @135:

    The media has played a role here as well. In addition to many other problems with their coverage of this, they haven’t sought to clarify these classification and handling issues with all of the interested parties or to present the issues in a way the public can understand.

    Fox News simply ran with Comey’s lies and with his misleading characterizations.

    Fox’s Outnumbered co-host Meghan McCain claimed that former Clinton staffer Huma Abedin forwarded “emails from her boss Hillary Clinton to her husband Anthony Weiner,” failing to note a May 8 ProPublica report that found that “much of what” FBI Director James Comey said during a hearing last month about Abedin’s email practices “was inaccurate.”

    The report states, “FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found.” FBI officials acknowledged that “it was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.”

    According to The Washington Post, “Abedin did occasionally forward emails to her husband for printing, but it was a far smaller number than Comey described” and “none of the forwarded emails were marked classified.”

    Despite information from this report being republished on several news outlets including Fox News itself, McCain still proceeded to accuse Abedin of committing “a possible crime,” while guest Allen West said that it was “without a doubt a criminal offense.” […]

  99. says

    Don’t expect the Senate to fix the health care bill that the House Republicans concocted.

    […] One of the major issues Senate Republicans must grapple with is the fate of Medicaid. The House bill slashes more than $800 billion dollars from the program, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cause 14 million people to lose coverage over 10 years.

    As he exited the meeting Tuesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) signaled that the Senate may pursue similarly deep cuts. “We’ve got to get it under control. Right now it’s out of control,” he said of Medicaid’s budget. “It’s going to be really out of control if we don’t do something.”

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) echoed this sentiment, telling reporters: “I think we need reforms that put Medicaid on a long-term fiscally sustainable path, that constrains the exploding cost curve.” […]

    […] even purported defenders of Medicaid funding and the Medicaid expansion sounded open to—or at least resigned to—major cuts.

    Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) stressed the importance of “not pulling the rug out from under people,” but floated the idea that the a more generous system of tax credits could “pick up some of these people” that lose Medicaid. […]

    The House bill, the American Health Care Act, sought to overhaul Medicaid in two major ways. Firstly, it phased out the ACA’s Medicaid expansion by freezing enrollment in 2020. Secondly, it would transform the larger program into a per capita cap system, meaning that instead of an unlimited match rate, states would received federal funding that was capped per enrollee.

    The first change has gotten more attention, for the tensions it brings between expansion state and non-expansion state senators. But the second change will bring cuts to the program that get larger with time, as the metric the House bill uses to annually raise the caps grows more slowly than typical Medicaid spending. […]

    The House bill passed by only two votes. Many House moderates who held their noses and voted for the Obamacare repeal bill stressed that they were assured the Senate would strip out some of its harshest provisions, including the Medicaid cuts.

    The message Tuesday from Senate’s health care working group, however, was: Don’t hold your breath.

    “We want to pay close attention to what the House has done and try to keep as much of that as we can,” Hatch told reporters.

  100. says

    Follow-up to comment 140 from SC, and comment 141.

    What Orrin Hatch said:

    […] the public wants every dime they can be given.”

    “Let’s face it, once you get them on the dole, they’ll take every dime they can,” Hatch said, as quoted by CNN.

    “We’ve got to find some way of getting things under control or this country and your future is going to be gone.”

    “We’ve got to get it under control. Right now it’s out of control,” Hatch said of Medicaid’s budget. “It’s going to be really out of control if we don’t do something.”

  101. says

    So the FBI is now attempting, without a lot of energy, to clean up after Comey. They sent a letter to the committee.

    The FBI letter says Abedin “manually forwarded” two email chains containing classified information to Weiner’s account. It does not say how sensitive the information was or whether it was classified at the time it was sent.


  102. says

    SC @144, OMG. Does Trump think this firing of Comey will clear everything up? What’s Trump’s play?

    From Trump’s statement (probably his team’s statement): “Today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement.”

    Politico is reporting that Sean Spicer said: “The president has accepted the recommendation of the Attorney General and the deputy Attorney General regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

    So Jeff Sessions recommended that Comey be fired? No reason was given.

  103. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    My overly cynical guess is that Comey’s firing is tied to him not squelching the Russia Probe.

  104. says

    […] Trump sent a letter to Comey on Tuesday, which reaffirms that he received Sessions’ and Rosenstein’s letters recommending the dismissal.

    “I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately,” Trump said.

    “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau. It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,” he wrote. “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.”

    Daily Beast link

    That’s one way to kick Sally Yates testimony off the front page.

  105. says

    I see that Nerd (comment 146) and I are in agreement.

    Also, I note that Jeff Sessions, the deputy Attorney General, Trump, and Sean Spicer all seem to be on the same page for once. That’s unusual, especially for the Trump administration. They never manage to coordinate anything well.

    Also, the inclusion of, “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, […]” in such a short you’re-fired letter makes me suspicious. Did team Trump come to the conclusion that the FBI was going to produce evidence of collusion with Russia soon, and did team Trump want to throw a wrench in the works?

  106. says

    I see from online comments that other people think that this action shows that Trump has been backed into a corner.

    A new FBI director will have to be approved by the Senate. I hope Democrats are ready for the fight.

    This action by team Trump may backfire in that more calls for an independent prosecutor may be one result.

    One commenter called Trump’s move “Nixonian.”

  107. says

    From John Schindler:

    Firing your secret police chief because he’s investigating you is the stuff of banana republics. America as I knew it is gone.

  108. says

    From CNN, a couple hours ago: “Senate Russia investigators have sent a request to the Treasury Department’s criminal investigation division for any information related to President Donald Trump, his top officials and his campaign aides, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee told CNN Tuesday.”

  109. says

    I’m really troubled by Rosenstein’s letter that cited Comey’s actions last summer (in relation to Hillary Clinton’s emails) as part of the cause for firing Comey.

    Trump fired Comey. Trump is the guy who repeatedly praised Comey for being brave, courageous, etc. Trump gave Comey a thumbs-up hundreds of times. And now he is firing him?

    It looks like Trump (or perhaps Sessions) asked Rosenstein to come up with a reason to fire Comey. The real reason(s) are obscured.

    This is a sickness that is centered in Trump and that spreads to include people like Sessions. Trump fired Sally Yates. He fired Preet Bharara. It’s a pattern in which Trump fires anyone who is investigating him.

    The supposed cause for the firing also is cover for Sessions, who supposedly recused himself from anything involving the Russia investigation. The causes stated in the Rosenstein letter are not believable at all. What Sessions really did here was to involve himself in firing someone who was investigating Trump and the Russian connections.

    Trump sent his lackey Keith Schiller (thug, bodyguard) to deliver the you’re-fired letter.

  110. says

    Follow-up to comment 154.

    Yes, Trump did ask for rationale to fire Comey.

    This was a very closely kept credit at the White House. I’m told only a handful of top advisories knew this was coming. I am told just moments ago that the President himself has been considering this, been thinking about this for at least a week. Did not necessarily have the rationale when they first started talking about this but then asked the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General to look for that rationale and that explanation. And that is what we got this afternoon. The timing of this, of course, so interesting, Erin because the Russian investigation front and center, it is one of the things that aggravates this president more than anything at all.

    Quoted text is from a report on CNN by Jeff Zeleny. The transcript is rushed and may contain a few transcription errors.

  111. says

    I had forgotten that Jeff Sessions had also recused himself from any matters concerning Hillary Clinton that had arisen during the campaign. Sessions recused himself in public, on tape.

    So, he should not have been involved in firing Comey for his actions that involved commenting on Clinton in July and in October. (That reason for firing is not credible, but it is a separate issue that Jeff Sessions was supposed to no where near any Clinton-related matters.)

    Trump relied on advise from Sessions. He said so in his I-fire-you letter. Sessions also had no right to endorse comments from Rosenstein. It’s all wrong at all levels.

  112. says

    So, Comey was definitely informed personally, nor given any way to prepare for being fired. He was in California giving a recruitment speech when the news that he was fired flashed on TV screens that were at the site of his speech. He laughed because he thought it was a joke.

    That seems to me particularly cruel and stupid on the part of team Trump.

  113. says

    Re comment 158: Comey was definitely NOT informed personally …

    He may have two events scheduled in California, one of which was canceled after he found he was “hereby terminated.”

  114. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote the memo articulating the argument for why James Comey should be fired. I was just speaking to one of my colleagues who said that in isolation, Rosenstein’s memo was not totally off base. Comey has made a number of big mistakes as FBI Director. […] But that is really beside the point. As an argument in the abstract to justify why Comey could be fired, it’s an interesting argument. As an explanation of why Comey was in fact fired it is flatly ridiculous.

    We heard earlier from CNN’s Jeff Zeleny that President Trump decided he wanted to fire Comey a week ago and then tasked Jeff Sessions with coming up with a rationale. But we don’t need Zeleny to tell us that. It’s obvious that this a rationale and not an explanation.

    The idea that Trump fired Comey because he was unfair to Hillary Clinton or set aside DOJ guidelines in a way that was damaging to her is clearly not true. Indeed, it is so transparently nonsensical that putting it forward as a rationale suggests a certain presidential indifference to what anyone thinks.

    As an accomplished lawyer, Rosenstein may have been able to justify the memo as an argument within the four corners of the document. But he knew that he was preparing an argument for firing the FBI Director while the FBI is investigating the President and his top associates for colluding with a foreign power to subvert a US election. The theory isn’t the point. The nature of the act is. This is a massive abuse of office. It is a very plausible basis for impeachment, though its plausibility in that regard is irrelevant unless and until there is political will in the Congress to take that step. Impeachment is a political not a legal process.

    Why Rosenstein was party to this is impossible for me to answer at this point. He is said to be widely respected. But the deed itself tells the story. […]

    Months ago Jeff Sessions recused himself from any involvement in the Russia probe. That recusal put the investigation in the hands of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

    Whatever his reputation to this point, Rosenstein has zero credibility to run this investigation. The taint of corruption and disgrace on him permanent and irreversible. […]

    There is only one reasonable conclusion that can be drawn from the decision to fire Comey: that there is grave wrongdoing at the center of the Russia scandal and that it implicates the President. As I write this, I have a difficult time believing that last sentence myself. But sometimes you have to step back from your assumptions and simply look at what the available evidence is telling you. It’s speaking clearly: the only reasonable explanation is that the President has something immense to hide and needs someone in charge of the FBI who he believes is loyal. Like Jeff Sessions. Like Rod Rosenstein.

    This is a very dark and perilous moment.

  115. says

    Oh, look, Kellyanne Conway is back.

    Senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway said emphatically Tuesday that President Donald Trump firing the FBI Director was “not a cover-up.”

    “In fact, the President makes very clear in his letter the fact that Mr. Comey on at least three occasions assured the President that he is not under investigation,” she said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. […]

    Trump made that claim in his letter to Comey. The ousted FBI director has never said publicly that Trump isn’t under FBI investigation.

    “Yeah, when did he say that? On what occasions did he do that?” Cooper interjected, referring to Trump’s claim in the letter.

    “That’s between the President of the United States and Director Comey,” Conway responded.

    Earlier, Cooper asked Conway why the White House cited the deputy attorney general’s criticism of Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation as justification for his firing, given Trump praised that same investigation when it hurt Clinton politically.

    “I think you’re looking at the wrong set of facts here,” she responded. “In other words you’re going back to the campaign. This man is the President of the United States. He acted decisively today.”


    Nice try, Kellyanne, but your bullshit is still bullshit.

  116. says

    From “dannydorko” posting on Twitter as @realDonaldTrump:

    I had to fire Comey. My own investigation found that he orchestrated the Bowling Green Massacre and was plotting to kill Frederick Douglass.

  117. says

    From Elizabeth Warren:

    We need a real, independent prosecutor who @realDonaldTrump can’t fire, Sessions can’t intimidate, & Congress can’t muzzle. We need it now.

  118. says

    This explanation, that Trump was enraged, sounds likely to be true. That may be the real reason Comey was fired. (Rosenstein may have been duped.)


    [Trump] had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.

    The news stunned Comey, who saw his dismissal on TV while speaking inside the FBI office in Los Angeles. […]

    By ousting the FBI director investigating his campaign and associates, Trump may have added more fuel to the fire he is furiously trying to contain — and he was quickly criticized by a chorus of Republicans and Democrats. “The timing of this firing was very troubling,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican.

    Trump had grown angry with the Russia investigation — particularly Comey admitting in front of the Senate that the FBI was investigating his campaign — and that the FBI director wouldn’t support his claims that President Barack Obama had tapped his phones in Trump Tower.

    Yeah, that sounds like Trump. Shocking us once again with how vindictive, stupid and narcissistic our president is.

    […] But the fallout seemed to take the White House by surprise. Trump made a round of calls around 5 p.m., asking for support from senators. White House officials believed it would be a “win-win” because Republicans and Democrats alike have problems with the FBI director, one person briefed on their deliberations said.

    Instead, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told him he was making a big mistake — and Trump seemed “taken aback,” according to a person familiar with the call.

    By Tuesday evening, the president was watching the coverage of his decision and frustrated no one was on TV defending him, a White House official said. He wanted surrogates out there beating the drum.

    Instead, advisers were attacking each other for not realizing the gravity of the situation as events blew up. “How are you not defending your position for three solid hours on TV?” the White House aide said.

    Two White House officials said there was little communications strategy in handling the firing, and that staffers were given talking points late Tuesday for hastily arranged media appearances. […]

    While shock dominated much of the FBI and the White House, the mood was more elated at Roger Stone’s house in Florida. Several Stone allies and friends said Stone, who has been frequently mentioned in the investigation, encouraged the president to fire Comey in conversations in recent weeks.

    On Twitter, Stone signaled praise for the move by posting an image of Trump from The Apprentice saying “You’re fired.” […]

    Politico link

    So, yeah, Roger Stone thinks this was a great move. Plus, he has been pushing Trump to fire Comey.

    There’s a whole clown car full of dunderheads advising team Trump, and/or running the White House.

  119. microraptor says

    Lynna @161:

    Kellyanne has removed all doubt: it’s definitely a coverup.

  120. Alex the Pretty Good says

    I’m starting to wonder how long it will take for Trump to Firefox off the following speech:

    In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first American Empire, for a safe and secure society, which I assure you will last for ten thousand years

  121. blf says

    Here in France, the überfacist niece of the resoundingly defeated Marine Le Pen (Macron: 66.1%, Le Pen: 33.9%), Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, is claiming she won’t run for Parliament in the upcoming elections next month. Maréchal-Le Pen is widely considered to be even more extreme than her grandfather (Marine’s father), the Holocaust-denying Jean-Marie Le Pen. Marion is currently one of two le penazi MPs. Of course, what she’s actually going to do is unclear; the le penazis are notorious liars.

    Teh le penazis are apparently also feuding, with the überfacist faction unhappy at Marine’s cosmetic attempt to hide the fascism, including attempts to recruit Jewish voters (mostly by not mentioning teh le penazi antisemitism, instead harping on teh le penazi Muslim-bashing). The self-claimed not-as-facist faction apparently is blaming Marine for being an eejit with no policy and attempting to imitate teh trum-prat during the Macron–Le Pen debate (which mostly consisted of the two trading insults, Le Pen being incoherent and often lying, and Macron not being challenged). That debate is seen by most as being a disaster for Le Pen and teh le penazis, reminding and showing everyone just how toxic and incompetent she and they are.

    It’s unclear what will happen in the Parliamentary elections. Predictions for teh le penazis range from c.100† to single digits; Macron, who has no party, claims he will field a candidate for every seat‡; and the two mainstream parties are trying to work out what the feck they are going to do, including when to work with the incoming-President Macron (who takes office next Sunday(?)).

    Macron also has to appoint a Prime Minister (PM), but the timing here is unclear to me, as is the subsequent appointment of government ministers. June’s Parliamentary elections are critical to both this process and the subsequent ability of Macron to do anything.

      † Unsurprisingly, the prediction of a high number of le penazi MPs is said to be from teh le penazis themselves; the more competent pollsters have it an order-of-magnitude less.

      ‡ Some pollsters are reporting Macron’s supporters will be the largest block in Parliament (albeit just barely), but with less than half of the 555 seats, with the burnt baguette’s (Fillon’s) party being the next-largest block.

    (Collated from multiple sources; any errors are probably mine.)

  122. blf says

    Journalist arrested for asking Trump cabinet member about healthcare bill:

    ● West Virginia police said Daniel Heyman was yelling questions at Tom Price
    ● ACLU says arrest is a ‘blatant attempt to chill an independent, free press’

    Police said a journalist was arrested after yelling questions at US Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price during his visit to West Virginia.


    Capital police said in a criminal complaint that Daniel Ralph Heyman […] was yelling questions at the two. It says he tried to breach Secret Service security and had to be removed from a hallway at the Capitol.


    Heyman, who works for Public News Service, said he was arrested after asking repeatedly whether domestic violence would be considered a pre-existing condition under the proposed health care overhaul.

    Heyman said he’s been a journalist for three decades and has been with Public News Service since 2009. He said he believed he was doing nothing wrong.

    “I’m not sure why, but at some point, I think they decided I was just too persistent in asking this question and trying to do my job and so they arrested me,” he said during a news conference that was posted on Facebook by the West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

    The ACLU chapter said in a statement that Heyman’s arrest “is a blatant attempt to chill an independent, free press. The charges against him are outrageous, and they must be dropped immediately.”


  123. says

    Feinstein made a point of mentioning the in-depth briefing with Comey on March 15th from which she and Grassley emerged in a state that was variouslt described as “grim,” “rattled,” and “ashen” and couldn’t respond to any questions about what they had learned because it was all “highly sensitive.” She still didn’t go into any details today, either, but she did say Comey gave them a “comprehensive” briefing on the state of the counterintelligence/criminal investigation. So she appears to be calling attention to the fact that they know what’s what and this thing can’t be stopped in its tracks.

  124. says

    “Days Before He Was Fired, Comey Asked for Money for Russia Investigation”:

    Days before he was fired, James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, asked the Justice Department for a significant increase in money and personnel for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, according to three officials with knowledge of his request.

    Mr. Comey asked for the resources during a meeting last week with Rod J. Rosenstein,…

  125. says

    I was just about to post about your 180 SC – There’s the smoking gun right there. Obstruction of justice, clearly, no question about it. Their faux excuse that it was over the Hillary e-mail scandal holds no water at all.

    Rosenstein was quick to fall on his sword. I wonder if he’s getting paid.

    I won’t be surprised if Trump lifts the Russian sanctions by the end of the week. They are all in on getting protection from the GOP at this point, not even trying to hide it anymore.

  126. says

    Kellyanne Conway is out and about making comments again today. From the Washington Post:

    Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, said in a combative television interview Wednesday morning that it is “inappropriate” to question the timing of Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey.

    “You want to question the timing of when he hires, when he fires,” she said on CNN. “It’s inappropriate. He’ll do it when he wants to.”

    Don’t you dare question Hair Furor’s timing!

    How do reporters keep themselves from laughing in her face?

  127. says

    Comedy! More funny stuff, courtesy of Sean “Spicey” Spicer:

    After Spicer spent several minutes hidden in the bushes behind these sets, Janet Montesi, an executive assistant in the press office, emerged and told reporters that Spicer would answer some questions, as long as he was not filmed doing so. Spicer then emerged.

    “Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off,” he ordered. “We’ll take care of this…. Can you just turn that light off?”

    Spicer got his wish and was soon standing in near darkness between two tall hedges, with more than a dozen reporters closely gathered around him. For 10 minutes, he responded to a flurry of questions, vacillating between light-hearted asides and clear frustration with getting the same questions over and over again.

    The semi-dark scene, with Spicey in the bushes, was described by the Washington Post. The weird interview was late last night.

    From Steve Benen: “The Washington Post recently added “democracy dies in darkness” to its masthead. I had no idea that would turn out to be so literal.”

  128. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] The relevant issue with Comey’s firing was that he was not notified in advance and in fact only learned he’d been fired by hearing reports of it on television. This has great dramatic effect. It is tawdry and unprofessional, given the gravity of the decision and Comey’s long career in public service. But that’s all ceremony and decorum. What really matters is what this says about the haste and nature of the decision. It’s possible that this was done by design as an element of the humiliation Trump wanted to visit on Comey. But I suspect it was more of an accidental fringe benefit. I believe it shows this was rushed and urgent in nature. That is key to understand and remember. […]

    Most reports say that Trump has been mulling over firing Comey for “about a week.” What was on Trump’s mind a week ago? His tweets from the evening of May 2nd give us some indication:

    FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony……Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?

  129. says

    Mike Pence spoke for about nine minutes today. He said that Comey was fired because “it was time for a fresh start.” You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s really weak, even for Pence’s calm, serious-but-stupid style of lying.

    Pence also used a fuckton of keywords: “decisive” and “strong leadership” etc.

    Pence also repeated several times that other authorities, like James Clapper, had said previously that there was no evidence that Trump had collaborated with the Russians. Trump had tweeted the same lie about Clapper several times.

    Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows- there is “no evidence” of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.

    That’s not what Clapper said.

    […] On March 4, Clapper went on Meet the Press, and was asked by Chuck Todd if he’s aware of evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

    “Not to my knowledge,” Clapper replied.

    Just over two weeks later, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia. That same day, Trump seized upon Clapper’s Meet the Press remark to try and undercut the notion he’s involved in a scandal.

    James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!

    On March 20, Press Secretary Sean Spicer cited Clapper’s remark during his press briefing, […] “Senior Obama intelligence officials have gone on record to confirm that there is no evidence of a Trump-Russia collusion,” Spicer said. “The Obama CIA director said so, Obama’s director of national intelligence said so, and we take them at their word.” […]

    On Monday, however, Clapper clarified that his Meet the Press comment wasn’t meant to give people the idea he had direct knowledge of Comey’s investigation and had concluded it hadn’t uncovered evidence of collusion. Instead, he said he just wasn’t aware that Comey was investigating.

    From Mother Jones:

    […] At Monday’s hearing, Clapper pulled this rug out from under the White House and its comrades. He noted that it was standard policy for the FBI not to share with him details about ongoing counterintelligence investigations. And he said he had not been aware of the FBI’s investigation of contacts between Trump associates and Russia that FBI director James Comey revealed weeks ago at a House intelligence committee hearing.

    Consequently, when Clapper told Todd that he was not familiar with any evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, he was speaking accurately. But he essentially told the Senate subcommittee that he was not in a position to know for certain. This piece of spin should now be buried. Trump can no longer hide behind this one Clapper statement.

    […] Yates, meanwhile, refused to answer questions about whether she’s aware of evidence of collusion, saying her answer would require her to disclose classified information.

    Think Progress link

    Later in his testimony, Clapper said that he could not reply to a question about Trump’s business ties to Russia: “Sen. Graham, I can’t comment on that because that impacts the investigation.”

    Trump, Pence, Spicer, and other team Trump dunderheads keep repeating their misunderstanding of what Clapper said. Repetition doesn’t make it true.

  130. says

    We’re seeing quite a bit of negative feedback from the U.S. media about the fact that the White House press was barred from the meeting between Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, but Russian news agencies were allowed in. As SC noted, Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak also attended the meeting.

    More black comedy. You wouldn’t believe that plot twist if it showed up in House of Cards.

  131. says

    Update to comment 190:

    Former FBI Director James Comey will not testify in an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee that was scheduled for Thursday.

    “Comey was terminated last night,” the panel’s chair Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) told reporters on Wednesday. “The chair will be filled by the acting director of the FBI.” […]


  132. says

    Hooray, one small win for the environment and for Obama-era regulations:

    […] Trump faces a May 11 deadline to overturn a number of Obama-era regulations through a simple majority vote in Congress under a law known as the Congressional Review Act. The oil and gas industry lobbied hard for Congress to use the CRA to repeal Department of Interior’s methane rule, which requires energy companies to upgrade equipment and monitoring to prevent venting and leaking of methane […] on public lands. The rule also restricts a practice know as “flaring,” which is when oil and gas operators leak and burn off excess gas.

    The House passed a resolution to repeal the methane rule in February, but the bill stalled in the Senate […] Methane leaks are not just a safety hazard and a driver of climate change, they also waste natural gas that would otherwise be used as fuel. […]

    The repeal effort faced its final defeat on Wednesday in a 51-49 vote, with Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), and John McCain (Ariz.) joining every Democrat in opposing the bill. […]

    Trump can still weaken or roll back the government’s limits on methane emissions, though that will have to go through the agency’s formal rulemaking process and could take years. […]

  133. says

    SC @195, thanks for the correction.

    Wonkette live-blogged today’s press briefing, which was helmed by Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Here are a few excerpts:

    1:52: Sanders says Trump and the DOJ and “bipartisan members of Congress” have all lost confidence in Comey, and also that the “rank-and-file” of the FBI also lost confidence. This is lie #1.

    1:54: It is Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s daughter’s birthday! Please be nice to her, FOR HER DAUGHTER’S SAKE! Happy birthday, Scarlet Huckabee Sanders, from yr Wonkette! Once you are older, you will be reading this website probably.

    1:55: Why did Sean Spicer say LAST WEEK that the president has “full confidence” in Comey?

    Sanders: Oh nothing, he was probably just lying like a common Sean Spicer. Also, Hillary Hillary Hillary, the Trump White House is very concerned about Hillary’s well-being, therefore Trump did this FOR HER.

    1:57: Wait, when did Donald Trump “lose confidence” in James Comey?

    Sanders: All the time, whenever he wants! Let me say my lie about how Democrats should be dancing nekkid in the streets about this, because this was what Democrats always wanted, right? Why aren’t they happy when Trump does it? UNFAIR!

    1:59: Donald Trump wants to kill the Russia investigation, so why is he meeting with literally every Russian in the world today? Trump doesn’t want to be called “Nixonian,” so why is he doing Pussgrab ‘n’ Chill with Henry Kissinger today?

    Sanders: Words that don’t mean anything, just words.

    2:01: Tell us about the times Comey supposedly told Trump that he was not under investigation!

    Sanders: NOPE.

    2:02: Is this some horseshit about leaks?

    Sanders: Mayyyyyyybe.

    Any more firings coming?

    Sanders: Not today probably, because IT IS MY DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY AND YOU SAID YOU WOULD BE NICE.

  134. says

    Follow-up to comment 198.

    2:03: Sarah Huckabee Sanders yet again asserts that there is “no evidence” of collusion between Trump and Russia, which is, by our count, her 457th lie today. She’s doing bigly!

    2:04: She is VERY MAD that all these reporters keep asking the same questions! Why will they not accept the lies she has been approved to tell????

    Next question: Why did Trump fire Comey in such a shitty way, by having his longtime hired goon deliver the letter to the FBI while Comey was ON A TRIP IN CALIFORNIA?

    Sanders: Big lie about how Trump “followed protocol.” […]

    2:08: Why is HuckaSanders saying this lie about how nobody at the FBI loves Comey, since we have many buckets of tears of FBI agents who are VERY UPSET ABOUT THIS?

    HuckaSanders: Oh, we didn’t talk to them. We talked to different ones. (They probably talked to the rogue FBI joint in New York City, the one that’s permanently affixed to Rudy Giuliani’s dick. ALLEGEDLY.)

    2:11: HuckaSarah is still SO MAD AND CONFUSED about why Democrats won’t be sweet right now, considering how they used to be like GRRR ARGH at Comey?

  135. says

    From John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker:

    At a time like this, it is important to express things plainly. On Tuesday evening, Donald Trump acted like a despot. […] With Comey out of the way, Trump can now pick his own man (or woman) to run the Bureau, and this person will have the authority to close down that investigation.

    That is what has happened. It amounts to a premeditated and terrifying attack on the American system of government. […]

    Things like this are not supposed to happen in a liberal democracy, especially in one that takes pride, as the United States does, in safeguards put in place against the arbitrary exercise of power. The F.B.I. is meant to be an independent agency, above and beyond partisan politics and personal grudges. (That is why its directors are appointed for ten-year terms.) The President is supposed to respect this independence, especially when it comes to matters in which he has, or could have, a personal interest.

    […] Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, was a central figure in the ouster of Comey. In March, Sessions—a close political ally of Trump’s—was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation […]

    As Trump has amply demonstrated in the past, hardly anything he says can be taken at face value, and everything in his letter should be treated skeptically, especially his claims about what Comey told him. What we know for sure is that Comey, in his March 20th testimony on Capitol Hill, confirmed that the F.B.I. was conducting a criminal investigation into “any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coördination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.” Although Comey refused to go into much detail about the investigation, he confirmed that it had been going on since last July, and he gave the distinct impression that, wherever it led, it would be pursued with vigor.

    We also know that Comey issued a blunt public dismissal of Trump’s claims on Twitter that Barack Obama ordered U.S. spy agencies to wiretap Trump Tower during the Presidential campaign. “I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the F.B.I.,” Comey said, during his testimony.

    This, surely, is the relevant context of Comey’s dismissal. By contrast, the two other documents that the White House released on Tuesday to justify Trump’s action—a letter from Sessions to the President, and a three-page memorandum from Rosenstein to Sessions—smacked of a desperate and unconvincing effort to cook up a pretext. […]

    Many observers would agree with at least some of Rosenstein’s points about the Clinton investigation—but so what? Are we seriously being asked to countenance the idea that Trump fired Comey because he didn’t treat Hillary Clinton fairly? […]

    Until the White House comes up with a less ludicrous rationalization for its actions, we can only assume that Trump fired Comey because the Russia investigation is closing in on him and his associates, and he knew that he didn’t have much sway over the F.B.I. director. That is the simplest theory that fits the facts. And it is a cause for great alarm. […]

    Congress must restrain him and reassert the principles of American democracy by appointing an independent special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation. If the legislature won’t act unprompted—and the initial signs are that most of the G.O.P. intends to yield to the President’s abuse of his power—it will be incumbent on the American people to register their protests forcefully, and to put pressure on their elected officials. Trump is a menace. He must be stopped.

  136. says

    “Inside the F.B.I., Stunned Agents Wonder About Future of Russia Inquiry”:

    …Agents said they were stunned that Mr. Trump would fire Mr. Comey in the midst of an F.B.I. investigation into whether any of the president’s associates had conspired with Russia to swing the election in favor of Mr. Trump. Some said in interviews that news of the firing felt like a gut punch. Others wondered whether they would be able to continue the inquiry.

    One senior F.B.I. official said that the president had severely damaged his standing among agents, many of whom are conservative and supported Mr. Trump as a candidate. Agents were angered by the way Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey, who learned of his dismissal from television reports while he was in Los Angeles. They called it disrespectful.

    And agents flatly rejected the assertion Wednesday by a White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee, during a briefing with reporters, that the F.B.I.’s rank-and-file supported the sudden firing of Mr. Comey….

  137. says

    More response to the thuggish manner in which Comey was fired:

    […] “The way this was done, I think was done to send a message to the FBI agents left behind,” a senior intelligence official told NBC News. “It’s not just that they removed him – it’s that they did it in the most thuggish and humiliating way possible. No notice, no nothing – instant execution. The bodyguard delivers the letter to headquarters. I think that was designed to send a message: Cut this sh– out, or this will happen to you. This is like horse head in the bed.” […]

    NBC News link

  138. says

    From Bill Moyers, who posted “Donald Trump Is Attempting a Coup — We Must Have a Special Prosecutor” on his blog.

    So Donald Trump fired James Comey because the FBI director mistreated Hillary Clinton last summer over her use of private emails.

    Stop laughing.

    Trump takes us for chumps. The Republic is nothing to him but a crap game. And he loads the dice.

    In this case, he signs the letter dismissing Comey and hands it to his personal bodyguard to take over to the FBI office. But Comey isn’t there. He’s in Los Angeles, where he will hear on television that he has been dumped — and at first think it’s a practical joke. We are not making this up. […]

    In her testimony Monday, [Sally] Yates was such a straight arrow, the iconic public servant, and so devastatingly credible that the White House had to figure out how to blunt her testimony.

    How to change the story? How to send the bloodhounds of the press howling down another trail? […]

    “It took a lot of guts,” Trump said when Comey reopened his investigation of Clinton. But that was then and this is now. The irony of the man who screamed “Lock her up!” throughout his presidential campaign now trying to shed crocodile tears for “Crooked Hillary,” as Trump called his Democratic rival, would be hilarious if it wasn’t so very obviously cynical and contrived. […]

    And what about this statement in Trump’s brief letter officially dismissing Comey: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless, concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.” WHAT three occasions, and what did Comey say, when did he say it, and why? Or is Trump lying about that, too?

    Bottom line: Is the White House simply trying to cover up the truth? That question answers itself.

    And oh, let’s not forget Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the attorney general of the United States, who had to recuse himself from the investigation of Russia because he, too, had been dishonest about contacts with the Russian ambassador. Recused or not, he was directly involved in sacking Comey. Does anyone around Trump keep his word?

    […] In Sessions, Trump has a more compliant stooge [than Nixon had].

    The constant drip of evidence continues. There are reports that a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn. James Hohmann at The Washington Post noted that at Monday’s Senate hearing, former director of national intelligence James Clapper “was asked about a news report that Britain’s intelligence service first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious interactions between Trump advisers and Russian intelligence agents. The same story also said multiple European allies passed along information in the spring of 2016. Asked if that is accurate, [Clapper] replied: ‘Yes, it is and it’s also quite sensitive… The specifics are quite sensitive.’”

    How does Trump react? He fires off more of his querulous, defensive tweets, claiming the whole Russia story is “fake news.” That’s his response to just about everything. What was it Joseph Addison, playwright beloved by the Founders, said? Oh, yes: “Husband a lie, and trump it up in some extraordinary emergency.” No pun intended. […]

    Trump’s presidency is deeply corrupted, our democracy is compromised, and the system of checks and balances is failing us.

    He’s attempting a coup. No joke. We need the truth. Now.

  139. says

    Some of Trump’s über rightwing friends are not backing up his story as to why he fired Comey:

    […] Far-right radio host Alex Jones claimed today that Comey was fired over the Russia inquiry, which Jones claimed was “fake,” and his supposed ties to “globalists” and the Clintons.

    He later spoke with informal Trump adviser Roger Stone, who reportedly pushed Trump to dismiss Comey.

    They both said that according to their sources, Trump dismissed Comey because he was covering for Hillary Clinton and her “megacrimes” and “wasting his time investigating the non-existent Russian collusion”—contradicting the official White House story.

    Jones chided Comey as a “globalist operative” who has been “protecting the Clintons for many years” and was ultimately fired for being “weird” and “kind of soft.”

    Right Wing Watch link

  140. says

    “‘Enough Was Enough’: How Festering Anger at Comey Ended in His Firing”:

    The countdown to President Trump’s dismissal of James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, began last weekend with an enraged president stewing over Mr. Comey’s testimony to Congress last week, when he admitted to being “slightly nauseous” about doing anything to get Mr. Trump elected.

    Mr. Trump, according to people close to the president, had been openly talking about firing Mr. Comey for at least a week. Despite the objections from some of his aides about the optics and the lack of an obvious successor, the grumbling evolved into a tentative plan as he angrily watched the Sunday news shows at his Bedminster, N.J., golf resort.

    By Monday, capping off months of festering grievances, Mr. Trump told people around him that he wanted Mr. Comey gone, repeatedly questioning Mr. Comey’s fitness for the job and telling aides there was “something wrong” with him, several people familiar with the discussions said.

    At first, Mr. Trump, who is fond of vetting his decisions with a wide circle of staff members, advisers and friends, kept his thinking to a small circle, venting his anger to Vice President Mike Pence; the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II; and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who all told him they generally backed dismissing Mr. Comey.

    Yet even in his letter to Mr. Comey, the president mentioned the Russia inquiry, writing that “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.” And that reflected, White House aides said, what they conceded had been his obsession over the investigation Mr. Trump believes is threatening his larger agenda.

    The hostility toward Mr. Comey in the West Wing in recent weeks was palpable, aides said, with advisers describing an almost ritualistic need to criticize the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation to assuage an anxious and angry president….

    This looks more like obstruction of justice by the minute. Don McGahn is…really bad at giving legal advice.

  141. says

    This is a good idea: provide more money to pay lawyers for undocumented immigrants who are targeted and arrested.

    Mike Fernandez, the billionaire former Republican donor who left the party due to President Donald Trump, is fighting the administration’s hardline immigration policies with a frontline weapon: lawyers for the undocumented facing deportation.

    […] Fernandez founded a fundraising group called the Immigration Partnership and Coalition to underwrite groups that provide legal counsel for detained illegal immigrants who don’t have felony records.

    Fernandez announced Wednesday he was giving $1 million of his own fortune to the effort, pledged $4 million more and was spending an additional $250,000 for the staff and infrastructure for the coalition, called IMPAC.

    Fernandez, a Miami-area resident, said he’s hoping to get friends like Latin Grammy winners Gloria and Emilio Estefan and former Miami Heat basketball stars Alonzo Mourning, Shane Battier and Ray Allen to lend their celebrity to IMPAC. The coalition has a who’s who of local Republicans on board, including CNN contributor Ana Navarro.

    “The simple goal is for every cent to go to defend the non-felon undocumented who are being targeted and arrested,” Fernandez said, calling the overwhelming number of illegal immigrants “hard-working people who help form the backbone of this country.” […]


  142. blf says

    The Granuiad weighs in on hair furor’s latest poo-throwing antics, The Guardian view on Trump’s behaviour: tyrannical not presidential (editorial):

    The man in the White House is governing like he is the president of a banana republic, not the leader of the oldest constitutional government in modern times

    The decision of Donald Trump to fire the person overseeing an investigation into him is a turning point in the tragedy of the United States’ 45th presidency. At least when Richard Nixon did so, it was a blatant — and doomed — attempt to save his presidency. Mr Trump says he sacked his FBI director, James Comey, because he was not doing a good job and that he had been unfair to Hillary Clinton over claims of misuse of a private email server. This is not remotely credible: Mr Trump spent last year’s campaign saying Mrs Clinton should be locked up for such carelessness […]. No facts have changed. Instead Mr Trump has meddled in a federal investigation, which by all accounts was expanding rather than shrinking, into plausible claims that he owes his office to the clandestine intervention by a hostile foreign spy service.


    Mr Trump’s act is a threat to US governance. It looks ominously part of a pattern of trespassing beyond constitutional boundaries. Mr  rump fires officials who cross him. He attacks judges when they find his policies unlawful. He refuses to release his tax returns, which might reveal conflicts of interest. He uses blind trusts that are not blind […]

    Ouch! Ouch!! Please stop! Mercy!!!

    […] In claiming that Mr Comey had given him three private assurances that he wasn’t under investigation, Mr Trump broke a protocol long-observed: that presidents do not publicly comment on an ongoing investigation. Especially one that centres on them. In short, Mr Trump is governing like he is the president of a banana republic, not the leader of the oldest constitutional government of modern times.

    [… E]vents reveal an obstructive and uncooperative White House. Mr Trump’s officials, last month, refused a congressional request for documents related to Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who it is now claimed was “compromised” and open to blackmail by the Russian government. Such behaviour gives the impression of guilt.

    Stop! Stop!! This is no longer feeling good!!!


    The US system of checks and balances is a metaphor, not a mechanism. There is a separation of powers and judicial independence. But it relies on the right people making the right choices at the right time. A US president is restrained largely by conscience, training and the desire to be judged well by history. Mr Trump appears to lack those qualities. Senators have to approve Mr Trump’s new FBI director. They should only do so if Mr Trump’s White House appoints a special prosecutor. They may prefer to keep quiet, opting not to rock the boat. But that will let presidential tyranny take hold. It won’t occur instantly. But it will, like dusk, draw in without us realising.

    A minor-ish point, but note that hair furor was never referred to, directly, as “president”.

  143. says

    Good ratings news for MSNBC:

    […] According to Nielsen Media Research ratings released Wednesday, Fox News finished in third place behind MSNBC and CNN in the 25 to 54 age primetime demographic, with Fox still taking the top spot in total viewers. MSNBC finished first in primetime from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET in the key demographic advertisers covet most, with 738,000 viewers in that category. CNN was second with 719,000 viewers and Fox third with 700,000 tuning in. […]

    Tucker Carlson and Rachel Maddow fought it out for top spot with their analysis of the news.

    The most-watched program of the evening was “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox with 3.443 million total viewers and 727,000 in the demographic. “The Rachel Maddow Show” was second with 3.354 million total viewers, but was first in the demographic with 873,000 viewers. […]

    Fox did win the first hour after the Comey news broke at 6 p.m. ET in both the 25 to 54 demographic and in total viewers, with 527,000 viewers from the demographic tuning into “Special Report with Bret Baier” and capturing 2.895 million viewers overall.

    CNN’s “Situation Room” finished second at 6 p.m. ET with 522,000 in the demographic and 1.789 total million viewers. MSNBC was third with 341,000 in the demographic and 1.414 million total viewers.


    Cheering for Rachel Maddow!

    What I see here is that the ratings gorilla, Fox News, is shrinking over time and MSNBC is slowly gaining more viewers. I used to think Fox was unbeatable, now I see them as wounded, outdated, losing steam. (Whole bunch of mixed metaphors there, but you get the idea.)

  144. blf says

    Great! Students boo and turn backs on Betsy DeVos at graduation (video): “Graduating seniors at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Florida, protested Betsy DeVos’s commencement speech on Wednesday. Students loudly booed and turned their backs on the US education secretary as she was speaking. DeVos drew ire in February when she said historically black colleges were ‘pioneers’ of educational choice”.

  145. blf says

    Follow-up to @217, Betsy DeVos booed while giving commencement speech in Florida:

    The education secretary was drowned out by jeers upon taking the podium at the historically black Bethune-Cookman University and cut her address short

    [… Betsy] DeVos […] was drowned out by jeers upon taking the podium and at numerous points throughout her speech.


    DeVos strained to overcome the hecklers, often raising her voice. The crowd had erupted in boos at the very mention of her name by Edison Jackson, the university’s president […]

    DeVos finished her remarks in 20 minutes, as opposed to the one hour of allotted time. Photos and video of the event showed roughly half of the 380 graduates turning their backs on the education secretary, who was confirmed by the US Senate in February only by a historic tie-breaking vote cast by the vice-president, Mike Pence.


    Molotov cocktails would be appropriate.

  146. says

    Rachel Maddow presented a great segment this evening that profiled Comey’s acting replacement, Andrew McCabe. We should be worried. The Maddow link is not yet up. We can add that later.

    Some background material:

    [….] McCabe, who is considered to be well-respected inside the FBI, recently surfaced in reports that Trump’s chief of staff sought agency help to knock down stories about Russia and the campaign late last year. [….]

    In February, senior Trump administration officials told reporters that McCabe pulled White House chief of staff Reince Priebus aside to say a New York Times report that said the FBI was examining evidence of contacts between Trump aides and Russians during the campaign was inaccurate. […]

    He said the NYT story was “B.S.” That story was not B.S. And why was McCabe talking to Priebus about an on-going investigation?

  147. says

    How strange. They added this to the beginning of the NYT story?

    By the end, neither of them thought much of the other.

    After President Trump accused his predecessor in March of wiretapping him, James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, was flabbergasted. The president, Mr. Comey told associates, was “outside the realm of normal,” even “crazy.”

    If he in fact told associates that, he was plainly right. No expert judgment required.

  148. says

    From my link in 223:

    Mr. Comey started receiving daily instead of weekly updates on the investigation, beginning at least three weeks ago, according to people with knowledge of the matter and the progress of the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe. Mr. Comey was concerned by information showing possible evidence of collusion, according to these people.

  149. says

    “Comey’s Firing Came as Investigators Stepped Up Russia Probe”:

    In the weeks before President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, a federal investigation into potential collusion between Trump associates and the Russian government was heating up, as Mr. Comey became increasingly occupied with the probe.

    Mr. Comey started receiving daily instead of weekly updates on the investigation, beginning at least three weeks ago, according to people with knowledge of the matter and the progress of the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe. Mr. Comey was concerned by information showing possible evidence of collusion, according to these people.

    Meanwhile, a congressional investigation into Russian meddling picked up steam…

    With his concerns mounting, Mr. Comey last week sought more resources to support the bureau’s investigation, which began last July. He requested additional personnel from Rod Rosenstein, who had been recently installed as the deputy attorney general, overseeing the FBI, people familiar with the discussions said.

    Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Mr. Comey and Mr. Rosenstein had their last meeting on May 1, with each man accompanied by a staff member. There was no discussion of resources or funds related to the Russia investigation at that meeting, Ms. Flores said.

    On Monday, Mr. Comey briefed lawmakers on his request to boost the investigation, people familiar with the discussions said. The lawmakers, who have been running their own probe of alleged meddling in the U.S. election by Russia, and possible Trump campaign links with it, asked Mr. Comey if he could accelerate the FBI investigation, said a person with knowledge of the conversations.

    Mr. Comey had been providing updates to top members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has taken the lead on Capitol Hill in the Russia probe, the person with knowledge of the conversations said.

    Senate Intelligence Committee investigators have grown alarmed as they reviewed intelligence reports, according to people familiar with the investigation.

    To date, the inquiry has produced no “smoking gun,” these people said, but some investigators are persuaded that the evidence will show more than just casual contacts. One area of particular interest for the committee is Mr. Trump’s business dealings. The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked for information from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, a division of the Treasury Department.

    The goal of the financial inquiry is to understand the nature of any financial ties Mr. Trump may have to foreign interests, including Russia, and to determine to what extent, if at all, Mr. Trump or his associates have investments that may be tied to the Russian government, people with knowledge of the inquiry said.

    There currently are 11 congressional staff working on the Senate probe, a number that some lawmakers have said publicly isn’t enough to handle the voluminous intelligence reporting and leads that have been generated by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency….

  150. says

    Maddow’ segment detailing the fact the the new acting FBI director McCabe is compromised. It looks like he became part of the Trump disinformation campaign.

    In other news, several reports say that Trump met with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov because Putin asked him to.

  151. says

    “Deputy AG Rosenstein reportedly threatened to quit over depiction of his role in Comey dismissal”:

    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to quit over the depiction of his role in President Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey, The Washington Post reported late Wednesday, citing a person close to the White House.

    Trump said Comey was terminated because of his handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. The White House has insisted that Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions initiated the conversation about Comey and that the president simply accepted their recommendation for his removal.

    But the Post reported that Rosenstein made his resignation threat after White House press officials repeated that narrative, painting him as the key influence that led to Comey’s dismissal….

  152. says

    McCabe is appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee right now. It’s on C-SPAN. It’s an annual hearing about “global threats and national security.”

  153. says

    Ron Wyden is asking some tough questions. He just asked Pompeo about the Yates warning and whether he knew about it or the concerns it expressed at the time, Pompeo first tried “No comment,” then switched to claiming he didn’t know what global security threat was at issue (!), then suggested he didn’t know what warning Wyden was referring to (!), and finally became belligerent and defensive.

  154. says

    McCabe just said it’s not accurate that the rank and file had lost support for Comey – Comey “enjoyed broad support” in the organization and still does.

  155. says

    Angus King asked about the Russian crew being in the Oval Office yesterday. Rogers says they weren’t consulted; he wasn’t aware (until now, I guess) where the images had come from.

  156. says

    “Rosenstein unhappy with White House handling of Comey firing: sources”:

    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has told officials he is unhappy with the way the White House handled the firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.

    Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Flores, however, said Rosenstein did not threaten to resign over Comey’s ouster, contrary to The Washington Post and other press reports. Flores said she spoke with Rosenstein.

    Rosenstein also is unhappy about the fact that White House officials have tried to pin the Comey firing on him, using his reputation as cover for how it was done, the sources said….

  157. says

    As SC noted in comment 235, the hearing today already turned yesterday’s press briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders into a lie fest. She said that rank and file FBI personnel had lost faith in Comey, McCabe just said that Comey “enjoyed broad support.”

    That’s not the only part of the WH story that has fallen apart. From the Washington Post:

    It has been 36 hours since the White House announced that President Trump had fired James B. Comey as FBI director. And its rationale and explanations for that move continue to fall apart.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Team Trump said on Tuesday that Comey’s ouster was the Justice Department’s decision, only to say the opposite on Wednesday. Team Trump said on Tuesday that the memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein forced the president’s hand, only to acknowledge on Wednesday that Trump told Rosenstein to write the memo.

    Team Trump said on Tuesday that the firing was the result of Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, only to abandon that story on Wednesday.

    Team Trump said on Wednesday that the president “had lost confidence in Comey from the day he was elected.” Team Trump said the exact opposite as recently as last week.

    I realize that in some cases, an official version of events will gradually come into sharper focus, as more details come to light, but that doesn’t explain these changes. The White House has tried to explain why the president felt the need to fire the director of the FBI at a critical junction in the FBI’s investigation into the president’s campaign, and the official line started crumbling under the weight of its own contradictions almost immediately.

    The most forgiving response to this is to assume members of Team Trump are incompetent and have no idea what they’re saying from one day to the next. The less forgiving response is to assume that they’re covering up an outrageous abuse. […]

  158. says

    Kamala Harris asked about securing Comey’s files and devices when he was fired. McCabe said that was his/their responsibility, and that he’s confident they were properly secured.

  159. says

    Wyden is coming back at Pompeo about his knowledge of Yates’s warnings. Pompeo is more subdued now, but evasive. Wyden says he’ll return to the subject during the closed session.

  160. says

    This is your president:

    […] Trump replayed clips of Senate hearings for reporters in order to mock the testimony of former top administration officials, according to an interview published Thursday.

    Trump on Monday during an interview with Time reacted to testimony earlier the same day by former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

    “Watch them start to choke like dogs,” Trump said, as quoted by Time. “Watch what happens. They are desperate for breath.”

    When Clapper hesitated, according to the report, Trump said: “Ah, he’s choking. Ah, look.”

    According to Time, Trump’s recordings of the Senate hearing were saved among recordings of cable news shows, which are the President’s preferred means of consuming news and have informed both his public statements and his hiring choices.

    “Yes. He was choking on that,” Trump said, responding to another of Clapper’s statements before the President fast-forwarded ahead through the hearing. “This is one of the great inventions of all time—TiVo.”

    Talking Points Memo

    I doubt that James Clapper would describe himself as “choking like a dog” during his testimony in a Senate hearing.

    And, how stupid is Trump that he thinks reporters from Time magazine would agree with him if he showed them selected clips while he made juvenile, disparaging comments?

  161. tomh says

    For the biggest laugh of the day, in an interview published today by the Economist, Trump was asked about releasing his tax returns. He said, “Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually.” So we can look forward to seeing them when he’s out of office. Lucky us.

  162. says

    Trump, once again, proves that he is stupid and insufferably narcissistic:

    Merriam-Webster jumped into action on Thursday to refute President Donald Trump’s inaccurate claim that he invented the phrase “prime the pump.”

    In an interview published Thursday by the Economist, Trump said he “came up with” the phrase recently.

    “Have you heard that expression before?” he asked. “Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just … I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good.”

    Merriam-Webster, who spent the 2016 presidential election pointing out misspellings in Trump’s tweets, took to Twitter to annotate his latest claim. […]

    Not only did Trump not invent the phrase, as the dictionary pointed out, but he used it more than “a couple of days ago” to pump up his economic policy.

    In a speech in December, Trump told supporters that he would “prime the pump” and “get the jobs.”

    And in an interview with Time after the magazine named him “Person of the Year,” Trump used the phrase to describe his plans for infrastructure spending and tax cuts.

  163. says

    Burr and Warner are doing a press conference now. Doesn’t seem like it was much. Warner saying he still has concerns about Rosenstein and continues to call for a special prosecutor. Says he got promise from Rosenstein that he would report any efforts to quash the investigation. Burr says the Senate committee is continuing with their work – mentions Flynn subpoenas.

  164. says

    Trump saying he and Comey “had a nice dinner” and Comey told him he wasn’t under investigation (he said he asked). Made up his mind to fire Comey before and regardless of recommendation. Claims FBI under Comey was in “turmoil.”

  165. says

    Trump in the Holt interview is pretty much bragging about how the story they’ve been telling is bullshit because he had decided to fire Comey prior to getting the recommendation and regardless of the recommendation. It was fairly predictable. The story they were trying to sell made him, in his authoritarian mind and those of his followers, look weak and not in control. He was psychologically compelled to assert his control, regardless of the legal or political harm it could and will cause. He can’t help himself. It’s another way to manipulate him that is surely known to intelligence agencies the world over. His authoritarianism, his uncontrollable need to convince himself and others that he’s dominant, is due to profound psychological weakness.

  166. says

    erik @255, if that photo has not been photoshopped, then yes, it does make Spicey look like even more of a hapless dupe.

    SC @254, inevitable. Trump should do more interviews. He outs himself as an ignorant bully every time. My bet is that, despite Trump’s bragging, Comey never told him outright that he was not under investigation. Trump made that up and desperately wants to believe it.

    Even if it were true, Trump’s story contains pay-for-play accusations that indict both himself and Comey. He said Comey had dinner with him, and that Comey told him he wasn’t being investigated, because Comey wanted to keep his job. In the interview, Trump seemed remarkably blasé about doing White House business that way.

  167. says

    SC @257, thanks. Within that same Twitter feed there are cartoons of Spicey disappearing into the bushes, ala Homer Simpson.

    In other news, here is an “Oh, FFS!” moment: Trump is hiring Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as vice chair of an “Election Integrity” commission. Kobach will get another chance to look for non-existent voter fraud, and another chance to use mythical fraud to justify restricting the voting rights of anyone who is not a Republican.

    Some background on Kobach:

    […] Kobach is the engineer of a number of laws and proposals that were struck down by the courts, including a proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration in Kansas that has been tied up in a multi-year legal battle. Multiple courts have ruled against his efforts to implement the requirement, and at one point, he was threatened to be held in contempt-of-court for allegedly refusing to comply with a court order against it.

    Arizona’s “show me your papers” law was crafted with Kobach’s assistance. While at the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, he also was behind the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, which essentially functioned as a registry for Muslim men entering the country. Kobach floated the idea after Trump was elected that the program may be revived.

    Kobach was a major Trump booster and lobbied for tougher language on building a wall on the Mexican border to be added to the Republican platform. In November, Kobach was photographed with Trump holding a proposal sheet that included a line that said “Draft Amendments to National Voter….,” presumably a reference to the National Voter Registration Act. As part of the litigation over the proof-of-citizenship requirement, a judge ordered he turn over the paper, and Kobach’s appeal of the decision failed just this week […]


  168. says

    Remember that nine-minute speech that Mike Pence gave yesterday to defend and explain Trump’s firing of Comey? Pence was lying.

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] Virtually everyone of note in the White House has already repeated and vouched for President Trump’s story of how and why he fired James Comey. Not only was this story a plain absurdity on day one; all the information which has emerged over the last two days has tended to confirm its falsity.

    Here’s the key point. Everyone who has repeated it knows it’s false. They have knowingly lied on the President’s behalf and about a matter of grave national importance. That includes the Vice President. So in the extreme scenario that the President leaves office and is succeeded by the Vice President, the sitting President will still be directly implicated in this lie and this cover-up. […]

    It’s not only that the President has implicated all of these people in his lies and deceptions about Comey’s firing. It is that he will not even stick to his story.

    So just a short time ago, NBC released footage of its interview with the President conducted by Lester Holt. In that interview Trump is crystal clear that he decided to fire Comey entirely on his own. He asked Rosenstein to write out his views. But he was going to fire Comey regardless. That specifically contradicts what Pence said in an impromptu press conference yesterday on Capitol Hill.

    Trump is like a wild fire hose whipping about violently, driven not by coils and water pressure but his own demons and rage. He will say whatever he wants at any given moment based on emotion, impulse, and his impression of tactical advantage as of that moment. This is not strategy. It’s an out of control person. But there are now large numbers of people and institutions implicated in Trump’s actions. They are on the line and along for the ride with every twist and turn.

  169. says

    “BREAKING: Legal Shock & Awe. Source in legal community reports large number of Warrants from Eastern District of Virginia being executed By the FBI. Source reports frenzy of activity inside the EDVA, large number of agents, US Marshals. The battle has been joined. 2/2 MORE: I’m told the name of the GOP firm that was served with Warrant in Annapolis is Strategic Campaign Group.”

    (I don’t really know about the sources of these reports, so grain of salt and so forth.)

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

    From Lynna 240 (quoting Benen):

    The less forgiving response is to assume that they’re covering up an outrageous abuse.

    No, they are DISPLAYING “outrageous abuse,” not covering it up. Through the campaign, I kept saying (and writing) that any other candidate in the US would be disqualified by [insert whatever Trump or one of the Tang Gang said]. He and his gang have been displaying exactly this “outrageous abuse” since the beginning of the campaign.

    And the sad part is, his supporters love the abuse. I just said to one of the resident right-wingers, regarding the firing of Comey, “What would your reaction be if Hillary Clinton was President and did exactly the same thing?” He blustered and started spouting off about emails. Trump is abusing the country, abusing US citizens, abusing immigrants, abusing minorities, abusing the elderly, abusing the poor and middle class, and the authoritarians lap it up. We have a sadistic President voted into office, primarily, by masochists.

    erik @255:

    That black footwear looks a lot like the boot Wife wore for six months after ankle and foot surgery. Still, if you have a black boot, wear black shoes.

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

    From the Strategic Campaign Group’s web site:

    Our Pledge

    When we work alongside your campaign or your organization, your mission to be elected and successful ultimately becomes our mission too. Our experienced political advisors align their conservative political vision with yours[1]. As we focus our efforts on managing and marketing your campaign or organization, you can devote your attention to your political followers and what your next plan of action will be.

    Simply put, we want to win[2]. Whether we help you with strategic political advice, fundraising, voter contact through direct mail, or telephone programs, we’ll work with you and your political campaign or organization to ultimately become victorious come election day.

    [My emphasis]

    1. So they have absolutely no scruples, no ideals, no vision — whatever you think conservative means, they will adjust to your definition. Sounds like a successful GOP group — as long as it is something liberals or progressives hate, we are for it.

    2. Win at all cost. Like Nixon’s ratfuckers and plumbers.

  172. says

    Sen. Feinstein: “I’m calling on the attorney general and deputy attorney general to recuse themselves from involvement in choosing a special counsel. I’ve now read the Rosenstein memo three times. With each read I’m more troubled by this document.”

  173. says

    Oh well, it was easy to believe Spicer Bunny was so frazzled that he put on two different colored shoes this morning, so I didn’t bother to “vet” that particular tweet as it’s not really “news”. It did occur to me however that he’s supposed to be doing his Navy Guard duty this week so should have been in a navy uniform if indeed he was out and about, but I didn’t give it a second thought.

    I’m sure he’s happy to be doing Navy stuff atm.

  174. says

    FBI agent groups are also disputing Trump’s description of Comey and of “turmoil” within the FBI:

    As the White House scrambled to explain […] Trump’s sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey, one of the main reasons given was that the nation’s top law enforcement agent had lost the support of his own rank and file. […] the heads of the two associations representing current and retired FBI agents, analysts and other personnel said Wednesday that by all available measures, Comey enjoys enormous support among the 35,000 people who worked for him, and the many thousands of others who have retired or left the bureau.

    “His support within the rank and file of the FBI is overwhelming,” said Thomas O’Connor, a working FBI special agent who is president of the FBI Agents Association. […]

    The FBI Agents Association, which O’Connor said has 13,000 members, issued a statement Tuesday night urging caution in the naming of a new FBI director, given the job’s importance, and praising Comey for his “service, leadership, and support for Special Agents during his tenure.”

    […] many agents contacted the association to urge it to do more to support Comey, O’Connor said.

    “Most agents can’t talk to the press,” he said, but many were growing ever more agitated as Comey withstood withering criticism.

    “They overwhelmingly want us to come out even stronger for Director Comey than we have, saying the association should do more,” O’Connor said. “Now they want to know the reason this happened. And what’s going to happen to the FBI now that Comey is gone?” […]

    While agents and other FBI personnel clearly have divergent viewpoints on Comey’s handling of particular investigations, most believed the director always acted in the best interests of the FBI, especially in trying to make sure politics didn’t interfere with the bureau’s investigations, O’Connor said. […]

    Nancy Savage, executive director of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, said many current and retired agents were hopping mad — not only about Comey’s firing, but also over how it was handled, with the FBI director finding out via a TV monitor while delivering a speech to agents in Los Angeles.

    “My friends who are on duty have been texting me and they are appalled,” said Savage, a former FBI special agent who retired in 2011 after a long career in the criminal division. “People were upset about losing him, and how he was informed. That’s appalling to our membership. He was a well-respected, well-liked director.” […]


    If you read the entire Politico article, you will find that some people within the FBI expressed disappointment with Comey for not prosecuting Hillary Clinton, and for Comey’s public pronouncements leading up to the presidential election. The overwhelming consensus, though, is that Trump did not have cause to fire Comey.

  175. says

    Uh-oh, I hope Spicey is enjoying his brief stint doing Navy-related duties. He’s going to need any restorative he can get because he may not have a job when he comes back.

    Trump has asked senior aides for their opinions about Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ performance since Friday, when she filled in for Spicer during the press briefing. […]

    Trump was pleased with deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ performance on Friday, when she first filled in for Spicer on camera during the midday briefing, three White House aides said, adding that he has talked about grooming her for Spicer’s more visible role. […]


  176. says

    So, just a little google searching on the principals at SCG uncovered this.

    Apparently they have a history of campaign finance fraud.

    “Defendants, however, have admitted that they did not use the money raised invoking Ken Cuccinelli to actually aid the Cuccinelli campaign, either through direct contributions to the campaign or through independent expenditures in support of the campaign, other than a single $10,000 contribution to the campaign on October 4, 2013 – which amounted to less than one-half of one percent of the approximately $2.2 million that defendants raised in 2013.”
    Cuccinelli, a Republican, was attorney general during the administration of now-disgraced Gov. Bob McDonnell, who was convicted in August of federal corruption charges.
    Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeated Cuccinelli in 2013 by a little over 56,000 votes.
    According to Cuccinelli’s complaint, Conservative StrikeForce is an FEC-registered PAC.
    The group’s top advisors and officials – Dennis Whitfield, Scott Mackenzie, Kelley Rogers and Chip O’Neil – are also listed as defendants.
    “In short, defendants’ political fundraising in 2013 invoking Ken Cuccinelli was not a means to the legitimate end of supporting the Cuccinelli campaign, but rather was an illegitimate end in itself, with the Virginia gubernatorial election merely serving as ‘cover’ for defendants to prey on unsuspecting small donors across the country,” Cuccinelli says in the complaint.

    The bolding is mine as those same three culprits are the principals of the Strategic Campaign Group as listed here.

  177. says

    Just to be clear – I’m not suggesting the SCG raid has anything to do with the Trump-Russia investigation. As erik notes, they seem shady, so it could be any of a number of things. Or quasi-related chicanery. No idea.

    Meanwhile, I’m still clueless about what Maddow was talking about last night when she said there was news coming about Manafort and the Justice Department.

  178. says

    From Matt Yglesias:

    As America continues to ponder whether President Donald Trump is obstructing justice by firing his FBI director in order to stymie an ongoing inquiry into his team’s various bizarre links to the Russian government, the Economist delivered an interview with the chief executive that reminds us of the original and most basic horror of the Trump administration: The president of the United States has no idea what he’s talking about.

    And while Trump’s own answers are so bizarre and meandering that it seems overwhelmingly likely he is speaking nonsense out of ignorance rather than rank dishonesty, […] Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin […] acts as an enabler rather than a provider of adult supervision.

    Trump, ignorant, will say something stupid. Then Mnuchin, better-informed, will back him up by saying something blatantly false. […]

    […] he also asserts that nobody had heard of Mike Pence before he was chosen to be Trump’s running mate […]

    Trump says that Ireland “never raised their taxes” during the Great Recession, when in fact Value Added Tax, gas tax, and alcohol taxes went up and the government also imposed a new carbon tax and moved to close some corporate tax loopholes.

    Trump says we “always lose” in NAFTA arbitration cases, when in fact that United States has a better won-loss record in such disputes than either Canada or Mexico.

    Trump says we run a $15 billion trade deficit with Canada, when in fact last year we ran a trade surplus.

    Trump says Reagan’s 1986 tax reform proposal increased the deficit, when it did not.

    Trump says we’re “the highest taxed nation in the world,” when in fact the United States has lower taxes than every developed country except Chile, Mexico, and Korea.

    At times it’s difficult to know where exactly misstatements end and free associating nonsense begins. […]

    The Economist then rightly asks him how something like eliminating the estate tax could fail to benefit the rich, and Trump appears to enter a fugue state:

    I get more deductions, I mean I can tell you this, I get more deductions, they have deductions for birds flying across America, they have deductions for everything. There are more deductions … now you’re going to get an interest deduction, and a charitable deduction. But we’re not going to have all this nonsense that they have right now that complicates things and makes it … you know when we put out that one page, I said, we should really put out a, you know, a big thing, and then I looked at the one page, honestly it’s pretty well covered. Hard to believe.

    […] A signature moment in the interview comes after Trump gives a long, rambling answer on China in which he appears to say that he dropped his campaign pledge to designate China as a currency manipulator as part of a deal on North Korea:

    […] But, so they talk about why haven’t you called him a currency manipulator? Now think of this. I say, “Jinping. Please help us, let’s make a deal. Help us with North Korea, and by the way we’re announcing tomorrow that you’re a currency manipulator, OK?” They never say that, you know the fake media, they never put them together, they always say, he didn’t call him a currency [manipulator], number one. Number two, they’re actually not a currency [manipulator]. You know, since I’ve been talking about currency manipulation with respect to them and other countries, they stopped.

    At this point Mnuchin chimes in to try to clarify the president’s rambling with an answer that’s crisp, precise, reflects well on the president, and is totally false: “Right, as soon as the president got elected they went the other way.”

    In reality, Chinese undervaluation of its currency came to an end way back in 2014, and Trump waged his entire campaign on the basis of a false premise. […] his top advisers on the subject appear to be winning the argument by spinning the president with flattering lies rather than accurate analysis. […]

    Lots more where that came from. The entire article is worth reading.

  179. says

    Lynna did you turn on moderation for comments with links or something? I’m trying to link a twitter thread to SC that lays out the Stone / Manafort connections to SCG.

  180. says

    erik @278, I don’t have the ability to turn on or off and moderation filters. Check your links for banned words. I don’t know what else to tell you.

    You may have to copy and paste a few relevant tweets into the comment box if you want the discussion to show up.

  181. says

    he appears to say that he dropped his campaign pledge to designate China as a currency manipulator as part of a deal on North Korea

    I don’t think that literal interpretation is correct. It looks like he was using hypothetical reasoning to make a point. He’s basically saying that it’s a bad idea to call China a currency manipulator. And in order to get that point across he’s inviting you to imagine (“Now think of this”) what it would be like to call China a currency manipulator. North Korea is likely just thrown in there as a hypothetical example of something important.

  182. says

    “Trump Nixes Plan to Visit FBI Headquarters After Comey Firing: Officials”:

    President Donald Trump’s plan to visit the FBI in an attempt to boost morale has been scrapped, according to administration officials.

    After his controversial firing of FBI Director James Comey, Trump was told it was not likely he would be warmly welcomed.

    FBI agents told NBC News that while many of them voted for Trump, after he unceremoniously fired a very popular director few were ready to greet the president at the bureau with open arms.

    “My sense is most FBI employees feel a loyalty to Comey,” one person who works at headquarters told NBC News. “And whether they agree or disagree with the way he handled the email case, like and respect him … Trump would not be well-received at headquarters.”…

  183. says

    Satire from The New Yorker:

    Thank you for your interest in becoming the new director of the F.B.I.! As you know, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is vital to maintaining law and order in the United States. To insure that you’re qualified for the job, please answer the questions below.

    1. In times of war, the President’s powers are:

    a) Limitless.
    b) Very, very big.
    c) Unlawful to question.
    d) All of the above.


    3. Should a President’s Administration be suspected of having colluded with a foreign government to fraudulently win an election, the proper response by the F.B.I. would be to:

    a) Delay any investigation until the President has left office, thereby assuring smooth executive governance.
    b) Ask the President if this is true; accept the answer unquestioningly.
    c) Watch a little “Fox & Friends” before making any big decisions.
    d) Such a scenario would not occur.

    4. If the F.B.I.—against all logic—were to begin investigating collusion, and the F.B.I. director were then terminated for totally unrelated reasons, it would be the responsibility of the incoming director to:

    a) Bring the investigation to an immediate halt.
    b) Apologize to the President on behalf of all law enforcement.
    c) Locate the previous F.B.I. director; jail him.
    d) Take another look at that Podesta guy. Something’s not right. […]

  184. says

    Digging the hole ever deeper:

    […] “We want this to come to its conclusion, we want it to come to its conclusion with integrity,” said deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders, referring to the FBI’s probe into Moscow’s interference in last year’s election.

    “And we think that we’ve actually, by removing Director Comey, taken steps to make that happen.” […]

    […] the White House wants the investigation to “come to its conclusion.”

    […] looking past the inconsistencies, the more serious concern is the White House linking Comey’s firing to Team Trump’s desire to see the probe end.

    Indeed, Sanders’ language doesn’t lend itself to other interpretations: she said the White House wants to see the investigation “come to its conclusion,” and Donald Trump has “taken steps to make that happen” by firing the director of the FBI.

    To hear the president’s spokesperson tell it, the two things are directly connected – which is deeply problematic because the White House is supposed to say they’re not related at all.

    If you were a Justice Department official, how would you interpret such a message from the White House?


  185. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If you were a Justice Department official, how would you interpret such a message from the White House?

    To quote the title of an old Doonesbury comic collection during Watergate: GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY.

  186. says

    SC @ 286 – A note of caution, I saw a later tweet that I can’t seem to find now that said that Manafort left BKSH in 1996, just after the merger, but that Whitfield didn’t join them until 2003. I can’t seem to find out when / if Stone left the firm.

  187. says

    SC @ 286 – A note of caution, I saw a later tweet that I can’t seem to find now that said that Manafort left BKSH in 1996, just after the merger, but that Whitfield didn’t join them until 2003. I can’t seem to find out when / if Stone left the firm.

    That does make the connection seem far less direct.

  188. says

    Watching Maddow on a slight delay. Jeff Sessions has to resign. Trump was furious when he announced he was recusing himself, and it’s plain that they simply decided he can just violate that recusal at will, including when it comes to being an accomplice to obstructing justice. He’s faced no consequences for his perjury during his confirmation hearings, and he continues to participate in criminal conspiracies.

  189. blf says

    Texas is trying to do something incredibly stoooopid and dangerous, yet again, Texas House passes bill banning doctors from vaccinating new foster children:

    The [Texas] state House passed a bill that includes an amendment banning doctors from vaccinating children who are new entries to the foster care system.

    When children are taken by Child Protective Services and enter foster care they are evaluated by a doctor to see what kind of medical care, if any, they need. If this bill becomes law, doctors would not be allowed to administer vaccinations to the children during that evaluation. San Antonio Express-News reports:

    Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington and vice chairman of the staunchly conservative Texas Freedom Caucus, authored an amendment to the bill that would restrict doctors from including vaccinations in initial medical examinations for children. Zedler said children could be removed from their homes by Child Protective Services and given an unwanted vaccination.

    On the floor, Zedler told lawmakers that vaccines don’t protect public health and should not be considered an emergency medication. The vaccination is only for that child to protect that child,[†] he said.

    Zedler’s stance on vaccinations and public health are, of course, wrong. […]

    An exemption for vaccines that prevent cancer was proposed, but ultimately rejected by the ultra-conservative Zedler. The [rejection] shocked even fellow Republicans […]

    […] Zedler stayed true to the initial amendment, which it turns out was given to him by a local anti-vaccination political action committee, according to the Texas Tribune:

    […] Zedler told The Texas Tribune that most parents he’s spoken to are often not anti-vaccine but instead don’t like the regimented schedule. [That’s a common anti-vax trope‡ –blf] He said the group Texans for Vaccine Choice asked him to carry the amendment.

    He said doing cookie cutter medicine by requiring every one follow a certain vaccine schedule is not a good approach to use.

    Texas is one of 18 states that allows parents to legally keep their children from getting vaccinated simply based on their personal beliefs. […]

      † Yes, the vaccine does protect the child. The protected child then, in turn, contributes to the herd effect (herd immunity), helping to protect those who legitimately cannot be vaccinated (have an adverse reaction to the vaccine or other health issue precluding vaccination). Eejit.

      ‡ Whilst not liking the vaccine schedule — often called too many, too soon (or similar) — is a common anti-vaxxer trope, it does not follow that all the parents repeating that mime are committed anti-vaxxers. Without citing references, there is some evidence most(?) parents who parrot such alternative facts are actually more “fence sitters” who could be persuaded to vaccinate their children: By education and making it difficult to not-vaccine; e.g., removal of personal belief exemptions, or requiring an in-person interview with a county health officer before any such exemption is granted.

    (Originally found via a comment at Orac’s site.)

  190. blf says

    A sneaky way to hurt social justice: cut US Census Bureau funding:

    Here’s a free bit of advice to power-hungry leaders who are concerned about bad PR: don’t publicly take away people’s rights, just stop counting the abuses. After the US Census Bureau was given a painfully tight budget this April, the Director [John H Thompson] decided yesterday he would not be the one to implement it. He resigned, ending a 27-year career at the Census Bureau.

    […] Normally, this bit of the federal government quietly plods along measuring things like poverty, racial inequality — oh, and determining congressional representation. That last one’s a biggie.


    Katherine Wallman was chief statistician of the United States from 1992 up until January 2017. When I spoke to Wallman earlier this year, she wasn’t concerned that the Trump administration would start fabricating the numbers — she was worried they would cut the funding that’s needed to collect them. Wallman wasn’t wrong.

    In a bill enacted last week, President Donald Trump has given the bureau less than half its requested budget increase for 2017. […]

    According to Science, President Obama had recommended a 20% increase for 2017 for a total of $1.63bn, but hair furor halved that, to c.10%, or $1.5bn in total.

    These large-seeming increases are normal in the run-up to the census (next in 2020), after which the total budget drops considerably. The cycle then repeats.

    In addition, according to The Census Project, “Congress has provided woefully inadequate funding for the 2020 Census over the past few years as compared with previous decades.” There is a very alarming-looking graph at the link. Also, apparently, a computer project has run amuck, significantly increasing the projected cost of the 2020 census.

    Back to the Grauniad’s article:

    [… T]he subjects that are being targeted for cuts seem conspicuous. So far, the Trump administration has deleted questions on sexual orientation from the 2020 Census and at least two other government surveys. Meanwhile, two Republican-sponsored bills [PDF] introduced in January say that government money can’t be used to collect data on “racial disparities”.


    The numbers from the Census Bureau underpin just about everything we know about the economy, education, health and justice in America. Without them, the US government won’t be making public policy based on public need. That’s an equation that just doesn’t add up.

  191. says

    “Vice President Mike Pence Met Privately With Top Russian Cleric”:

    A top cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin met privately with Vice President Mike Pence Thursday morning and urged the U.S. to cooperate with Russia to combat terrorism in the Middle East.

    Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Moscow, who chairs the Russian Orthodox Church’s external relations department, spoke with Pence backstage at evangelist Franklin Graham’s Washington summit on religious violence against Christians.

    “It is only one united, international anti-terrorist coalition which can combat terrorism and win,” Hilarion told TIME during an interview in a suite at the Trump International Hotel in D.C., a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. “The two countries should put these political differences aside.”

    A White House spokesman confirmed Pence’s meeting with Hilarion and said the cleric’s comments also reflected President Trump’s views. Hilarion says that after talking with Pence, he feels “very positive” about the future of the relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

    The backstage conversation was two years in the making. In late 2015, as refugees fled the war raging in Syria, Graham huddled with Hilarion at the cleric’s home in Moscow. By the fireside, they brainstormed a global conference to raise awareness of violence against Christians in the Middle East—“the most burning issue of our time,” Hilarion says. Graham also met on that trip with Putin, who promised he would do all he could to help their cause.

    Hilarion and Graham share common cause beyond protecting Christians in the Middle East. Both support Putin’s push to impose ultraconservative policies—including staunch opposition to abortion and gay rights—at a time of increasing secularization in the West.

    When Hilarion addressed the summit Thursday morning, he spoke out not just against the physical violence some Christians face, but also “the curtailment of people’s rights to the public expression of their faith,” and the legalization of euthanasia and abortion in Western countries. He criticized the U.S. for its “ideology aimed at supporting sexual minorities and the propaganda of the homosexual life.” His remarks echoed Graham, who in 2014 praised Putin for protecting “his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda” when Russia passed a controversial anti-gay law ahead of the Sochi Olympics.

    Not all evangelical leaders welcome the idea of a partnership with the Russian Orthodox Church—and, by extension, the Russian government. Last summer Russia passed a law that restricted foreign missionary work. In April, the Russian Supreme Court banned Jehovah’s Witnesses. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom then recommended for the first time that Russia be named in the top tier of the worst international religious-freedom offenders. Even on Thursday , during the Washington summit, a Russian blogger was convicted of religious hatred for playing “Pokemon Go” in a Yekaterinburg church.

    Graham’s four-day summit aims to forge new partnerships, both religious and political. Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association spent $4 million on the event, flying in some 600 participants from 136 countries. Attendees received a swag bag with a customized iPad loaded with conference materials. Select VIPs, like Hilarion, got rooms at the Trump International Hotel—not at the Mayflower Hotel a few blocks away, where nearly all conference events occur.

    In addition to Pence, Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma* spoke Thursday at the summit. Several of Trump’s evangelical advisors flew in to participate, including Bachmann, Orlando pastor Paula White, Baptist pastor Jack Graham (no relation to Franklin) and National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference president Sam Rodriguez. Graham’s staff also arranged for select conference participants to meet State Department officials….

    * Incidentally, Lankford is on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

  192. says

    “In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey Demurred.”:

    Only seven days after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president, James B. Comey has told associates, the F.B.I. director was summoned to the White House for a one-on-one dinner with the new commander in chief.

    The conversation that night in January, Mr. Comey now believes, was a harbinger of his downfall this week as head of the F.B.I., according to two people who have heard his account of the dinner.

    As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.

    Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge. Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not “reliable” in the conventional political sense.

    By Mr. Comey’s account, his answer to Mr. Trump’s initial question apparently did not satisfy the president, the associates said. Later in the dinner, Mr. Trump again said to Mr. Comey that he needed his loyalty.

    Mr. Comey again replied that he would give him “honesty” and did not pledge his loyalty, according to the account of the conversation.

    But Mr. Trump pressed him on whether it would be “honest loyalty.”

    “You will have that,” Mr. Comey told his associates he responded.

    Mr. Comey described details of his refusal to pledge his loyalty to Mr. Trump to several people close to him on the condition that they not discuss it publicly while he was F.B.I. director. But now that Mr. Comey has been fired, they felt free to discuss it on the condition of anonymity….

  193. says

    Chuck Schumer’s outstanding letter to Rosenstein:

    May 10, 2017

    The Honorable Rod Rosenstein

    Deputy Attorney General

    U.S. Department of Justice

    950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

    Washington, DC 20530

    Dear Mr. Rosenstein,

    Over the last three decades of your career at the Department of Justice, you have developed a reputation for integrity and impartiality. That reputation, along with the personal and public commitments you made to me and other Senators that you would be an independent, apolitical actor as Deputy Attorney General, earned you broad bipartisan support in your confirmation vote. And that reputation is now imperiled by your participation in the abrupt dismissal of FBI Director Comey.

    Your memorandum to Attorney General Sessions described disagreement with Director Comey’s conduct last summer and fall; it was used as the justification for his dismissal this week. However, there is widely reported skepticism that the reasons laid out in your memo are the real basis for the President’s decision to fire Director Comey. This skepticism, and indeed all of the circumstances surrounding Director Comey’s dismissal just as he was leading an investigation into the Trump administration’s and Trump campaign’s ties with Russia and President Putin’s interference with the 2016 election, have shaken public confidence in the Department, in your leadership, and in the administration of law and justice in our country.

    In order to restore the nation’s faith in you personally and in our law enforcement system more broadly, the American people must understand more about your role in the President’s firing of Director Comey. To that end, please answer the following questions by Monday, May 15th.

    1. It was publicly reported that Director Comey last week asked you for additional resources for the investigation into the Trump campaign’s connection to Russia. Are these reports accurate?
    a. Did Director Comey recently provide you with a briefing on this investigation or any other politically sensitive investigation? Please describe the date and circumstances of any such update.
    b. Did you convey any information provided by Director Comey to Attorney General Sessions or anyone in the Executive Office of the President? Please describe the date and circumstances of any such conveyance.
    2. It was reported that the President decided over the weekend to fire Director Comey and summoned you and Attorney General Sessions to the White House to discuss the Director on Monday May 8th. Are these reports accurate?
    a. Did you meet with the President on Monday, May 8th?
    b. Were you aware what would be the topic of the meeting before you arrived?
    c. Did you discuss the topic of the meeting with Attorney General Sessions or anyone in the Executive Office of the President before the meeting?
    d. Who was present at the meeting?
    e. Did the President or anyone else tell you the President had made a decision to fire Director Comey?
    f. Did the President or anyone else ask for a justification to fire Director Comey?
    g. Did the President or anyone else direct you to write your memo?
    3. On Tuesday, May 9th, you sent a memorandum to the Attorney General entitled “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI.” What were the circumstances that led to the drafting and transmittal of this memo?
    a. Who participated in the drafting of the memo, including but not limited to its preparation before it was finalized?
    b. Who provided guidance, in any form whatsoever, on the memo’s contents, style, timing or any other element?
    c. Who was aware that the memo was being prepared?
    d. Who reviewed the memo before it was finalized?
    e. Were you aware when you drafted the memo that it would be used to justify the firing of Director Comey?
    f. Why does the memo not explicitly call for the Director to be dismissed?
    g. Was Attorney General Sessions or anyone in the Executive Office of the President involved, in any capacity whatsoever, in the planning, drafting, consideration, review, or transmittal of the memo?
    4. Attorney General Sessions recused himself from any role in the investigation of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 elections and the Trump campaign because of his close relationship with the campaign and his own undisclosed contacts with Russian officials. Yet your memorandum is addressed to him and, according to public reporting, he participated in the decision to fire Director Comey. How do you reconcile Attorney General Sessions’s participation with his ethical obligations under the Department’s recusal guidelines?
    a. Did you and Attorney General Sessions ever discuss whether it would be improper for him to be involved in the dismissal of the lead investigator of a politically sensitive investigation from which he was recused?
    b. Did you or anyone else in the Justice Department ever advise Attorney General Sessions not to participate in these discussions or the dismissal?
    c. Did you seek, or are you aware of anyone else at the Justice Department seeking, advice or counsel about whether it was appropriate for Attorney General Sessions to participate in these discussions or the dismissal?
    5. After Director Comey was fired, the White House said that you had initiated the memorandum on your own and that you instigated the decision to remove him. Yet this morning, press reports indicate that you threatened to resign because “the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast [you] as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on [your] recommendation.” Are these reports accurate?
    a. Did you object, either to the White House, to Attorney General Sessions, or to anyone else, to the media characterizations of your role in the firing?
    b. Did you take any steps to correct any inaccuracies in the public record?
    c. Did you discuss the possibility that you might resign from the Department with anyone?

    I look forward to your prompt response to my letter. In addition, I hope you will make yourself available to me and all of my colleagues to answer these and other additional questions that will arise.


    Charles E. Schumer

    Dianne Feinstein is skeptical about the memo’s authorship:

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and a top member of the Intelligence Committee, said she has now read Rosenstein’s memo three times. She remains incredulous, she said, that he wrote it — and that it may have served as the basis for Comey’s firing. She pointed to the second page, which is filled with quotes from opinion pieces and news clippings about former Justice Department officials critiquing Comey’s handling of the Clinton investigation.

    “That surprised me, that a guy as highly prized as Rosenstein, on the basis of legal talent, professionalism in the department, would pull things out of a newspaper and quote them, in terms of somebody else’s opinion of Comey,” Feinstein said. “It means to me we really have to have him in and talk to him, because, wow, I mean, I could have written it.”

  194. blf says

    Hair furor’s inability to take criticism (and apparent lack of humour) are on display for the lots of zillions time, A no-talent guy: angry Trump attacks Colbert over late-night takedowns:

    The president [sic] has attacked the popular late-night comic, referring to his humor as filthy in a new interview with Time magazine


    The Late Show host recently launched an attack on the president, delivering a string of insults in response to his mistreatment of Colbert’s CBS colleague John Dickerson during an Oval Office interview.

    In a new interview with Time magazine, Trump responded angrily to Colbert’s tirade.

    You see a no-talent guy like Colbert, he said. There’s nothing funny about what he says. And what he says is filthy. And you have kids watching. And it only builds up my base. It only helps me, people like him.

    Since the election, The Late Show has become the most successful late night show, outpacing The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon by over 400,000 viewers a night. Trump said his presidency [sic] had saved Colbert’s career. […]

    And narcissistic. It’s me, Me, ME! I improved this filthy, no-talent comic’s ratings!! And that can only help ME and MY dalekocracy!!!

    And, of course, lies:

    The guy was dying, he said. By the way, they were going to take him off television, then he started attacking me and he started doing better. But his show was dying. I’ve done his show. But when I did his show, which, by the way, was very highly rated. It was high — highest rating. The highest rating he’s ever had. (It actually attracted 2 million fewer viewers than Colbert’s debut episode at The Late Show.)

    ME! I’m the one responsible for his highest ratings in my imagination!! Anything else is fake news, SAD!!!

    The Grauniad, Mr Colbert, and CBS all get in some snarks:

    In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Colbert said he would trade good ratings for “a better president”.

    Trump also told Time magazine that CNN’s Chris Cuomo was “a chained lunatic” while Don Lemon was “perhaps the dumbest person in broadcasting”. A spokesperson for the network said: “His comments are beneath the dignity of the office of the president.”

    Hair furor is completely unhinged in the Time interview, President Trump Attacks Lunatic, No-Talent, Dumbest Person in TV:

    President Donald Trump says he thinks CNN’s Chris Cuomo looks like a chained lunatic on television. CNN’s Don Lemon is perhaps the dumbest person in broadcasting and CBS Late Show host Stephen Colbert is a no-talent guy who talks filthy.

    [… H]e did little to hide his frustration, explaining that he had been surprised that the journalistic criticism had gotten worse after the campaign. He also said he had been working on tuning out news that is critical of him.

    Not even can’t take criticism, won’t even listen to it — assuming he isn’t lying, which is improbableimpossible, except in a “stuck clock” accidental sense. (And a hint of nobody knew presidenting is so hard! Golly gee, people disapprove!! Of Me!!!)

    There was little doubt, however, that he remained acutely aware of what reporters and correspondents were saying about him. He has large flat-screen televisions set up in the Treaty Room in the White House residence and in his private dining room in the West Wing. He continues to have stacks of newspapers and magazines delivered to his office suite in the West Wing.

    Washington Post, New York Times, they’re really, really dishonest, he said […]

    The one network he praised was Fox News, saying he watches their shows and is responsible for its ratings bump.

    MEEEE!!!!!!!! It’s all about ME!!!!1!!

    […] [… I]f I do something wrong [Fox] report on it. [… Fox is] really, honestly it’s the most accurate.

    […] Fox treats me very fairly. MSNBC is ridiculous. It’s just bad.


    Weirdly, Breitbart doesn’t seem to be mentioned. Except for Fox, as far as I noticed, only legitimate news sources are mentioned.

  195. says

    This is one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard. They’re actually claiming Yates’s warning that the National Security Advisor was compromised by the Kremlin and vulnerable to Russian blackmail, didn’t seem like an emergency at the time or during her Senate testimony. They did nothing at the time, still don’t see why Flynn had to go, and haven’t done anything since in terms of investigating the matter or looking at the people Flynn brought into the administration. Now they have the hack Pompeo saying the same things in Senate hearings. This is absolutely nuts.

  196. blf says

    This may not be the most appropriate thread, but there is a political-ish, albeit unstated, undercurrent… Isam [] and the chocolate factory: Syrian refugees relaunch family business in Canada:

      † Not a typo, the family’s father is named Isam…

    The Hadhads gave thousands of dollars to families affected by the Fort McMurray wildfires — a symbolic donation, the family said, to the country that has helped them rebuild their lives

    When wildfires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray last year, TV images of the scorched ruins and terrified families evoked painful memories for the Hadhad family.

    Four years earlier, they had been forced to flee their home in Damascus by the Syrian civil war. The Hadhads were left with nothing after rockets rained down on their home and destroyed the factory that housed the family chocolate-making business.

    Now, resettled in a new home on Canada’s east coast – where they had arrived some five months earlier as refugees — they felt they could do something to help.

    Weeks after settling in Antigonish, a small town of 10,000 people in Nova Scotia, they had relaunched the family business, improvising in their small kitchen to recreate some of the chocolates they had once exported across the Middle East.

    “Making chocolate was really getting us some revenue, so we said, why don’t we help the Canadians on the other side of the country?” said Tareq Hadhad, the family’s oldest son. “We are so grateful to this nation. So we were really honoured to donate our profits in the whole month of May to the wildfire relief efforts.”

    The donation came to around a few thousands dollars, he said. It was a defining moment in a whirlwind year that saw them go from newly arrived refugees to successful business owners who now employ several Canadians.


    Read the article for the rest of the story, including how the local community helped the Hadhads build a factory when the business outgrew their kitchen, The product / company’s name is “Peace by Chocolate”.

  197. says

    “Sessions issues sweeping new criminal charging policy”:

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors Thursday to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties.

    The Holder memo, issued in August 2013, instructed his prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with drug offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences. Defendants who met a set of criteria such as not belonging to a large-scale drug trafficking organization, gang or cartel, qualified for lesser charges — and in turn less prison time — under Holder’s policy.

    But Sessions’s new charging policy, outlined in a two-page memo and sent to more than 5,000 assistant U.S. attorneys across the country and all assistant attorneys general in Washington, orders prosecutors to “charge and purse the most serious, readily provable offense” and rescinds Holder’s policy immediately.

    The new policy is expected to lead to more federal prosecutions and an increase in the federal prison population. In February, Sessions seemed to prepare for that inevitability, reversing a directive from previous deputy attorney general Sally Yates for the Justice Department to stop using private prisons to house federal inmates….

    If karma existed…

  198. says

    Mika Brzezinski just scolded CNN for putting on Conway. “It’s politics porn. You’re just getting your little ratings crack, OK? But it’s disgusting.”

  199. says

    Trump: “The Fake Media is working overtime today!…As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!….Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future ‘press briefings’ and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”

    Maggie Haberman: “There’s a reason this tweet exists. Changes are coming.”

    Trump now tweeting: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

  200. says

    One possibility I can imagine is that Trump is only partially lying about his interactions with Comey (he’s definitely lying about some of it), because he’s also shown repeatedly that he’s not capable of listening to people and understanding what they’re telling or asking him if it doesn’t comport with his delusions. He literally will not hear or comprehend their statements, and in his memory will twist them to suit his narrative. He also combines (his deluded interpretation of) what people are saying with things he’s heard on TV or elsewhere (including from his sycophants). Given this, he could even have tapes of the conversations with Comey which don’t show what he believes they do.

  201. says

    SC – Here you go. This looks like the real reason for the raid.

    The thread is a bit hard to follow but basically SCG is definitely tied to the Mercers. For those that have not been following the bouncing ball closely, the Mercers basically financed Trump’s campaign. Rebekah Mercer was heavily involved in the transition, and they own Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm that was used to target specific voters with fake news via social media.

  202. says

    @315 – I meant to add that it is still speculation as we have nothing official from the FBI and probably won’t until a trial, but it’s about the most solid speculation I’ve seen about that event and seems to make sense. I want to believe it because I’d love to see the Mercers go down with this mess, so admit a certain amount of motivated reasoning.

  203. blf says

    A reader’s comment on the Grauniad’s article Trump threatens ex-FBI head Comey with possible ‘tapes’ of conversations (“President’s [sic] tweet suggests he had been secretly taping White House meetings, after the New York Times reported that he demanded loyalty from Comey”) had me laughing so hard the mildly deranged penguin actually looked up from eating some cheese, if only for a millisecond:

    ● “Wanted xxl dictators uniform please send to the big white house on Pennsylvania avenue leave behind bushes and Shawn Spicer will collect.”

    Perhaps “xxl tiny dictators…” would be even better?

    A few other amusing readers’s comments:

    ● “Hey, Donald. Do you feel that net closing in? Feeling a bit impeachy yet?”

    ● “On Monday, may 15th 2017 after a weekend of Trumptwats, oops, sorry, typo, Trumptweets, the markets got off to flying start as Trump stood down as the US’s 45th (not quite) president. Reports suggest a 12 year old paraplegic could have done a better job working a two day week, meanwhile celebrations around the world continued as humanities confidence in the United States people and their sanity returned. Trump is expected to be let out of the insane asylum once he promises not to use the internet for 10 years, or until he grows a set, or grows up”.

    ● “With Apologies to Sir Elton John:
    ‘It’s sad, so sad
    It’s a sad, sad situation
    And it’s getting more and more absurd
    It’s sad, so sad bigly!'”

    ● “Folks! Folks! I wasn’t trying to blackmail my good friend Comey. It was just twitter banter! Losers!”

    ● “It’s really quite astounding to see an American president trying actively to sound Nixonian. […]”

    ● “Of course there are tapes. Mr Putin has to check that his puppet is doing exactly what he is told.”

    ● “[Shite] storm increasing in intensity. Trump ‘surrogates’ preparing their own evacuation ahead of expected tsunami. Trump voters still on board, god bless their dysfunctional souls.”

    ● “I wonder how many minutes gap will be on his tapes then?”

    ● “The man has the intellect of a banana peel.
    (Apologies to any bananas reading this).”

    ● “If the White House says one thing, and Trump contradicts it with his later statement, is it still the media that are responsible for the fake news?
    How does this work?”

  204. blf says

    The Grauniad is reporting hair furor may be canceling his proposed visit to the FBI, Trump may back out of FBI visit amid outrage over ‘disgraceful’ Comey firing (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}) :

    Current and former agents critical of president [sic], saying he should provide agency with resources to finish Russia inquiry instead of saying more ‘hollow’ words

    Donald Trump has reportedly backed away from a planned visit to FBI headquarters in Washington, amid continued anger from current and former agents over the president’s [sic] abrupt firing of director James Comey.

    “What are you going to say? ‘I love you FBI’? And kiss babies and pose for pictures?” said Ron Hosko, a former FBI assistant director […].

    “I think he just slapped the FBI in the face. It was disgraceful, outrageous, disgusting. These {FBI agents} are people who have education, who have experience. They know what bullshit looks and feels like.”


    Instead of visiting the FBI to say more “hollow” words, Hosko said, the president [sic] should publicly ask the FBI what resources it needs to complete its investigation of possible links between Trump aides and Russia — and then rapidly deliver them.

    “If the list says we need 10 prosecutors who are dedicated to this and we’d like to handpick them, OK, make it happen,” he said.


    Louis Caprino, who served as an agent for 29 years and now runs a public safety program at Vincennes University in Indiana, said he didn’t think the president [sic] could now “say much of anything” to mend his relationship with the FBI.

    “He’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. Rather than words, his actions are either going to make him or break him as a supporter of the FBI.


    Visiting the FBI after a week of outrage and backlash “would be for purely optics reasons and in the FBI we are steadfastly averse to optics”, said James Gagliano, a former chief of staff at the FBI’s New York City field office.


    Apropos of nothing much, it occurs to me Deep Throat (Mark Felt) was FBI, with one possible reason he went against tricky dicky being because he felt slighted in being overlooked for post of FBI Director. (That is only speculation, and there are additional possible motivations.) And now hair furor has managed to upset great swaths of the FBI…

  205. says

    I still can’t get past this quote from #206: “One senior F.B.I. official said that the president had severely damaged his standing among agents, many of whom are conservative and supported Mr. Trump as a candidate.” His standing among FBI agents has been damaged now? They were fine with him before?

    Days after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo in 2015, Trump tweeted: “Charlie Hebdo reminds me of the ‘satirical’ rag magazine Spy that was very dishonest and nasty and went bankrupt. Charlie was also broke!…If the morons who killed all of those people at Charlie Hebdo would have just waited, the magazine would have folded – no money, no success!”

    Following a plane crash in Hawaii in which a passenger died, he sent out: “How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s ‘birth certificate’ died in plane crash today. All others lived”

    Can totally understand how FBI professionals would have seen him as a solid choice for president.

  206. says

    Le Monde has done some investigative work on the rapid diffusion of the “MacronLeaks” documents. You don’t have to read French to get the gist: “« MacronLeaks », compte offshore : l’ombre des néonazis américains.”

    The article notes:

    Le faisceau de présomptions est aussi loin d’éliminer la piste russe. D’une part, parce que la diffusion des documents n’a pas nécessairement été faite par les personnes les ayant dérobés ; et d’autre part, parce que des liens existent entre l’extrême droite américaine, résolument pro-Poutine, et la Russie – dont les médias publics ont donné une large place aux différentes publications de la semaine passée.

  207. blf says

    Heh. A front-page opinion column in today’s dead-tree edition of the International New York Times (ex-IHT), expands on my allusion at the end of @319 to Comey’s firing eventually backfiring on hair furor even more spectacularly than at present, In Firing Comey, Did Trump Unleash the Next Deep Throat?:

    Once again, Donald Trump has done something that no president before him dared to do. This time, he has fired an FBI director engaged in an active and continuing investigation of his own campaign. The decision reflects President [sic] Trump’s most autocratic instincts, showcasing his contempt for the independence of federal investigators as well as for the basic search for truth.

    Given his frequent calls to prosecute Hillary Clinton for using a private email server, the anger he directed at the FBI director, James Comey, for giving her a free pass, and reports that he directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to find a reason to fire Mr Comey, it’s hard to believe the president’s claim that he made his decision out of concern for Mr Comey’s harsh treatment of Mrs Clinton during the campaign.

    But if Mr Trump actually hopes to shut down or limit the FBI investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia, he may well be disappointed. History suggests that his decision is likely to backfire, producing new leaks and heightened inquiries that will be more difficult to control than he imagines.

    President [sic] Trump may think he has sent a stern warning to leakers and independent bureaucrats unwilling to toe the White House line. Instead, he may well have incited an internal rebellion.


    [… After FBI director J Edgar Hoover died, Nixon] chose L Patrick Gray, an assistant attorney general and former Navy man with no FBI experience, to serve as acting director. The Nixon adviser John Ehrlichman articulated the reasons behind the decision in a “talking points” memo for the president soon after Hoover’s death. Gray’s primary assignment is to consolidate control of the FBI, Ehrlichman wrote, making such changes as are necessary to assure its complete loyalty to the administration. […]


    Many commentators have pointed to [independent prosecutor Archibald] Cox’s dismissal as the closest precedent for Mr Comey’s firing: the last time a president tried to use his executive power to stop an investigation — and failed to get what he wanted. The story of the FBI’s succession crisis raises still more troubling prospects for Mr Trump in the months ahead. Despite having political skills far superior to President [sic] Trump’s, Nixon never managed to consolidate control of the FBI in 1972, at the peak of his popularity. To the contrary, his attempts to do so fatally undermined his presidency, setting in motion a political and bureaucratic backlash from which Nixon […] never fully recovered.

    I must admit I don’t recall John Ehrlichman’s talking points memo, but what he outlined — the new director must consolidate control of the FBI and assure its complete loyalty to the administration — are two of the things experts, including present and former agents, warned (also @319) that whoever the acting / new FBI Director is must not do.

    And, of course, Ehrlichman’s memo sounds an awful lot like hair furor’s insistence on a loyalty pledge from Comey (see @301).

  208. blf says

    SC@323, Huh? Is there a missing link or something? What “Dr” Oz–like letter from hair furor’s lawyers?

  209. says

    Clapper also said he spoke with Comey the day of the dinner with Trump* and that Comey had told him he’d been invited to the WH and that he was “uneasy” about it because it could give the appearance of compromising his or the FBI’s independence but felt he couldn’t refuse.

    * January 27th – the day after Yates told McGahn Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI.

  210. says

    Ok, Where’s the camera? When is someone going to come out and tell us all this has been one giant practical joke?

    Trump’s law firm that swears he has no Russian financial ties? (with a few, possibly you know, thousands of exceptions)…

    Are you ready for this?

    They were named “Russia Law Firm of the Year” in 2016.

    They have a Moscow office.

    Morgan Lewis’s Moscow office provides full-service business representation for clients, including advice on corporate and finance matters; mergers and acquisitions; transactional finance; litigation and international arbitration; energy and natural resources projects; real estate property transactions; labor and employment issues; immigration; and a wide range of regulatory matters. The Moscow team includes seasoned lawyers and specialists with experience throughout the region, including in Kazakhstan (working with Morgan Lewis colleagues in Almaty and Astana) and other countries of the former Soviet Union, including in the Central Asia and Caspian regions.

  211. says

    SC @328, Clapper has confirmed several times that saying he has no knowledge of collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russians is not the same as saying there was no collusion, nor is it the same as saying that there is no ongoing investigation of possible collusion. Trump simply cannot understand that. The interview with Clapper that aired today was good.

    From The Hill’s take on the interview:

    Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says he doesn’t know if there was collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, saying it would have been the FBI director’s discretion to tell him.

    During a Friday MSNBC interview, Clapper explained that it was up to the FBI decide what to tell him about ongoing investigations.

    “I don’t know if there was collusion or not. I don’t know if there was evidence of collusion or not — nor should I have,” he said.

    Clapper said his practice “was always to defer to the director of the FBI … on whether, when and what to tell me about a counterintelligence investigation.”

    “It’s not surprising or abnormal that I would not have known about the investigation, or more importantly the content of that investigation,” he added.

    Trump claimed in a Friday tweet that Clapper said there’s no evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

    Clapper in fact testified to a Senate panel earlier this week that he was not made aware of any evidence of collusion, but that he had not been aware of the FBI’s investigation at all until FBI Director James Comey announced it publicly in March. […]

  212. says

    About that letter from Trump’s lawyers (the one Trump emphasized was “certified,” as if that made a difference, and sent to Lindsey Graham):

    Lawyers for President Donald Trump’s said Friday that a review of his last 10 years of tax returns do not reflect “any income of any type from Russian sources,” with some exceptions. It’s the latest attempt by the president to tamp down concerns about any Russian ties amid an ongoing investigation of his campaign’s associates.

    The attorneys did not release copies of Trump’s tax returns, so The Associated Press cannot independently verify their conclusions. Their review also notably takes into account only Trump’s returns from the past 10 years, leaving open questions about whether there were financial dealings with Russia in earlier years.

    In a letter released to the AP, the attorneys said there is no equity investment by Russians in entities controlled by Trump or debt owed by Trump to Russian lenders.


    Video is also available at the link.

    So, yeah, both Trump and his “Russia Law Firm of the Year” are relying on tax returns that are still being kept a secret. Humbug. Blather. Showboating. Sound and fury with no substance.

  213. says

    A coalition of progressive groups, including Every Voice and End Citizens United, are paying for new ads that pressure Republican senators to back an independent investigation into Russian interference in the election, into ongoing Russian interference, and into possible collusion with members of team Trump.
    USA Today link

    About that threat from Trump about “tapes” of conversations with Comey: what a farce. More black comedy. Trump is trying to bully Comey. Trump is going to lose this fight. He is, currently, flailing pathetically. And, Trump is warning a potential witness in an ongoing investigation to shut up. More fodder for obstruction of justice charges against Trump.

    From Steve Benen:

    A few days before Election Day 2016, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who now serves as one of Trump’s chief White House spokespersons, said on Twitter, “When you’re attacking FBI agents because you’re under criminal investigation, you’re losing.”

    More delusion from Trump: Trump told NBC News that if the election were today, he’d “win by a lot more than I did on November 8th.” A national Quinnipiac poll released this week showed the president with a 36% approval rating.

  214. says

    A summary of Trump’s most recent clusterfuck:

    Initial White House statement said Trump acted based on the recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but Trump himself told NBC on Thursday that he had already decided to fire Comey before meeting with them.

    Mike Pence told reporters on Capitol Hill that the firing was not about the Russia investigations, but Trump told NBC he had the investigation in mind when he decided to fire Comey.

    Kellyanne Conway said Comey’s firing had “zero to do” with the Russia investigation, but the White House timeline released the same day said that after watching Comey’s testimony about the Russia investigation, Trump was “strongly inclined” to remove him.

    Sean Spicer said that the decision originated from Rosenstein, but Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had already made the decision. [Spicer explained to reporters in a gaggle that the decision originated from Deputy AG Rosenstein, not from the White House.]

    After Spicer, Conway, Pence, and Sanders provided Rosenstein’s letter as a key reason for, if not the entire basis of, Trump’s decision to fire Comey, Sanders said “I don’t think there was ever an attempt to pin the decision on the Deputy Attorney General.” [Contradicting her earlier statement: “Frankly when the president gets a recommendation from someone like [Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein] he has no choice but to listen to him and to take swift and decisive action.] [“The president took the advice of the deputy attorney general who oversees the director of the FBI, brought those concerns to the attorney general, who brought them to the president, who made a decision to remove him,” Conway said.]

    The White House’s use of Rosenstein’s letter as the reason Trump decided to fire Comey reportedly led Rosenstein to threaten to resign […]

  215. says

    Here are a few excerpts from the rightwing media response to Lester Holt’s interview of Trump. The clueless rightwing pundits actually said that Holt was “disrespectful” and a “rude Negro,” etc.

    From Steve Doocy on Fox & Friends:

    […] Mr. Trump, the president of the United States, was interrupted at least nine times by Lester Holt. […] it seemed like an interrogation.

    From Brian Kilmeade (Fox & Friends):

    How disrespectful was that? […]

    From Breitbart:

    […] Holt can be seen questioning almost every statement made by Trump. […]

    From Infostormer:

    Trump Did An Interview With The Rude Negro Lester Holt. […]

    From TruthFeed:

    President Trump graciously attempted to answer the questions HURLED at him […] Holt treated the president like a damn criminal.

  216. says

    From Paul Kruygman, writing in today’s New York Times:

    […] Everyone understands that Mr. Comey was fired not because of his misdeeds during the campaign — misdeeds that helped put Trump in the White House — but because his probe of Russian connections with the Trump campaign was accelerating and, presumably, getting too close to home. So this looks very much like the use of presidential power to cover up possible foreign subversion of the U.S. government.

    The two leading Republicans in Congress are apparently O.K. with that cover-up, because the Trump ascendancy is giving them the chance to do what they always wanted, namely, take health insurance away from millions of Americans while slashing taxes on the wealthy. […]

    At this point, in other words, almost an entire party appears to have decided that potential treason in the cause of tax cuts for the wealthy is no vice. And that’s barely hyperbole. […]

    What isn’t often mentioned is that many of the most prominent America-firsters weren’t just isolationists, they were actively sympathetic to foreign dictators; there’s a more or less straight line from Charles Lindbergh proudly wearing the medal he received from Hermann Göring to Trump’s cordial relations with Rodrigo Duterte, the literally murderous president of the Philippines. […]

    It’s time to face up to the scary reality here. Most people now realize, I think, that Donald Trump holds basic American political values in contempt. What we need to realize is that much of his party shares that contempt.

  217. says

    Excerpts from Sean Spicer’s press briefing today:

    […] “Does anybody in this White House have an audio recording of what unfolded during the Jan. 27 dinner between the former FBI director and the President of the United States?” one reporter asked […]

    “I’m not aware of that,” Spicer said. […]

    During the briefing, Spicer refused to elaborate on Trump’s “tapes” tweet to Reuters’ Jeff Mason, except to say that it was “not a threat,” but rather a simple stated fact.

    “The tweet speaks for itself. I’m moving on,” Spicer said.

    Spicer was asked later: “Is the President of the United States currently recording conversations taking place in the Oval Office?”

    Spicer refused to clarify.

    “I think the point that I made with the respect to the tweet is that the President has no further comment on this,” he said before moving on. […]

    “Why were the American people given incorrect information that night?” Time reporter Zeke Miller asked in the daily briefing, noting that the Trump administration attributed the firing to a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein days before President Donald Trump told NBC News he’d made the decision unilaterally.

    “I don’t necessarily believe that that’s true, Zeke,” Spicer insisted. “There was a decision-making process. The President explained it in the interview process. The bottom line is that the director of the FBI serves the President. The President made a decision to replace him, as he has stated very clearly now publicly.”

    Another reporter pressed Spicer to explain the “discrepancy” in the statements coming out of the White House about who prompted the decision.

    “It’s always the President’s decision. That’s it, final,” Spicer said. “As I mentioned to Zeke, this is always going to be the President’s decision. Everybody who serves for the President, it’s always going to be his decision to hire someone or fire someone.”

    Do not question the actions of Hair Furor. Do not ask for clarification of lies told by Hair Furor’s White House. Do not even imply that Hair Furor initiated yet another clusterfuck.

  218. says

    Responses from retired FBI agents:

    […] “If you ever wanted to write a dialogue or a plan for how to piss off an agency, that’s the way to do it,” said David Rubincam, a retired FBI agent who spent more than 20 years in bureau postings in the United States and overseas. “Trump could not have scripted an epic fail any better than that.” […]

    “The bottom-line feeling is: ‘OK, whoever is working this Russian investigation on the Trump campaign, leave no stone unturned,'” Rubincam said. “If it wasn’t a priority before, [it’s] damn sure a priority now. Trump just made an enemy of the entire FBI.”

    Rubincam said it’s not just that Trump fired Comey, as the president obviously has the right to do that. It was the way he did it. According to reports, Comey was speaking to FBI agents at the Los Angeles field office when he learned of his ouster from a news report on television. “It was more than tacky,” Rubincam said. “It’s classless, it’s mean, it’s offensive. It’s the epitome of disrespectful.”

    Nancy Savage, the executive director of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, said she was “shocked” by the way Trump fired Comey. “That was pretty appalling,” said Savage, who served in the agency for more than 30 years. She noted that there were some within the bureau who didn’t agree with the way Comey dealt with the Clinton case—whether they thought he was too aggressive, or too lenient—but, she added, “no one questioned his integrity or competence.”

    […] Asked what would happen within the FBI if a new director tried to kill the probe, all three former agents said it wouldn’t go well.

    “They are not going to be pulled off an investigation if there’s valid evidence there,” Savage said. “The nature of agents is, they’re hound dogs. They’re not going to stop.” […]

    And Rubincam said an investigation of this size has to run its course. “Think of it like an oil tanker in the water,” he said. “It takes six miles to stop.”

    But even so, a new director could come in and kill the investigation, right?

    “I can’t envision that happening,” Rubincam said. “That would be a galactically stupid move, to try to shut down a case of that magnitude for political reasons.”

  219. says

    Trevor Noah mocked Trump’s firing of Comey and Trump’s subsequent meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak into the Oval Office. Scroll down for the video: Daily Beast link.

  220. says

    Trump has another big idea:

    We don’t have press conferences, we just don’t have them, unless I have them every two weeks and I do them myself. I think it’s a good idea.

  221. says

    We don’t have press conferences, we just don’t have them, unless I have them every two weeks and I do them myself. I think it’s a good idea.

    This would be no loss given that they’re exercises in public lying and propaganda. The time could be given over to discussions of policy and social problems, news of the ongoing Trump-Russia investigations, in-depth specials about Russian active measures, reports on the growing resistance movement, and coverage of the harmful effects of the Trump regime’s actions on people.

  222. says

    Steve Benen dissected Trump’s meeting with Kislyak and Lavrov:

    […] In his interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt yesterday, Trump elaborated on the subject.

    “When I spoke with Putin, he asked me whether or not I would see [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov]. Now what do I, should I say, ‘No, I’m not gonna see him’? I said I will see him.”

    It’s worth noting that Trump very easily could’ve said, “No, I’m not gonna see him.” Russia did, after all, attack our democracy last year with an illegal espionage operation. The American president certainly has no obligation to accept requests from the Russian president. […]

    But can we pause to note just how controversial this meeting has become? And the degree to which the seriousness has escalated this week?

    First, it was controversial because of the timing: Trump meeting with Russian officials the day after firing Comey looked ridiculous.

    Then it was a little more controversial because American journalists were excluded.

    Then it was a little more controversial because a journalist from a state-run media outlet in Russia wasn’t excluded.

    Then it was a little more controversial because of the security risk.

    Then it was a little more controversial because White House officials said Russia had “tricked” them.

    Then it was a little more controversial because Lavrov brought along Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a detail the White House readout neglected to mention, and something we only know because Russia acknowledged it. Kislyak, of course, is the official Michael Flynn talked to before he lied about it and got fired.

    And then it was a little more controversial because the entire meeting happened at Vladimir Putin’s request, and Trump didn’t feel as if he could say no.

    What an amazing fiasco.

  223. says

    More damage to the environment, courtesy of Trump’s version of the Environmental Protection Destruction Agency:

    Plans to mine alongside Alaska’s pristine Bristol Bay, where half the world’s salmon are fished, had appeared dead in the water in recent years.

    Not anymore. The Environmental Protection Agency has dropped a regulatory plan that would have protected Bristol Bay from the planned Pebble Mine, encouraging the project’s backers to seek permits and move forward.

    Northern Dynasty, the mining concern behind the Pebble project, has had a rough few years. In 2014, the Obama EPA moved to block its plans to mine for copper and gold under the Clean Water Act, prompting the company to launch a costly court battle. Then a New York investments house announced it believes the company’s stock is effectively worth $0.00 — because even if Pebble gets approved it will be economically impossible to extract the minerals there in a profitable fashion.

    [Some people] began pushing Northern Dynasty stock as a get-rich-quick opportunity following President Donald Trump’s election victory, in anticipation of a reversal in federal policy toward Pebble. On Friday, that prediction was proven at least partly correct: EPA head Scott Pruitt announced the agency would settle Northern Dynasty’s lawsuit, abandon Obama-era regulatory plans, and allow the company to apply for a mining permit. […]

    If Northern Dynasty ever breaks ground, it will almost certainly portend an irreversible catastrophe both for the local Alaskan ecology and for everyone who enjoys eating salmon. […]

    Pebble Mine’s plans include gigantic ponds of toxic mining waste, held back from the sea only by earthen dams.

    The Alaskan site also sits on the so-called “Ring of Fire,” the geological region where violent earthquakes are most common. Seepage, spillage, and contamination are a virtual certainty should Pebble ever break ground.

    Sportsmen and outdoor industry groups blasted the EPA’s decision on Friday, calling it a hypocritical reversal of Trump’s campaign promises to support people whose livelihood or recreation depend on places like Bristol Bay. […]

    Think Progress link

  224. says

    Mother Jones annotated the letter from Trump’s lawyers that supposedly proved that Trump had no investments in Russia or has no financial ties with Russians.

    The annotation is hilarious.

  225. says

    Follow-up to comment 358. I should have added that the annotation is also full of facts, and that it rips the veil away from the many misleading statements in the letter.

    Annotating that letter from Trump’s lawyers creates another moment of horror mixed with horrified laughter.

    How can things be this awful?

    One moment from the interview of Trump by Lester Holt stands out for me: Trump tried to add gravitas to the letter by emphasizing that it was “certified” and that it was from a “tremendous law firm.”

  226. says

    “Financial-Crimes Monitor to Share Records in Trump-Russia Probe”:

    A Treasury Department unit that specializes in combating money-laundering will share financial records with an expanding Senate probe into possible ties between Russia and President Donald Trump and his associates, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee requested the records from Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, late last month, these people said. The people familiar with the matter didn’t specify the nature of those records. One person said that without them, though, the committee wouldn’t be able to reach a conclusion on whether there was collusion between Trump associates and Russia during last year’s campaign….

  227. says

    More experts weigh in on the seriousness of Trump’s misconduct:

    […] While many details remain unverified, several former DOJ officials and FBI agents told TPM that it would be a serious violation of protocol for Trump to ask Comey if he was under investigation.

    “It’s improper,” a former high-level Justice Department official said. “It gives both appearance of impropriety, which can cause the investigation’s reputation to be damaged irretrievably, and it’s an invitation to share information that’s grand jury-protected.”

    A federal grand jury currently looking at the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian officials reportedly issued its first subpoenas this week to associates of ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. The former DOJ official noted that anything related to that case, including its scope and which individuals are or are not under investigation, would be legally protected information.

    “Under no circumstances could anybody in the White House, including the President, ask about whether he or any of his associates are under investigation,” the official said. “That’s kindergarten stuff.” […]


  228. se habla espol says

    Question for the weekend (all the same question, different wordings): will the GRU allow 45 to have the tapes from the Oval Office? Is Putin finished with 45 yet? Does Putin opine that it’s more destructive to the US and the Western Democracies to give 45 more time in office, or to trigger a different constitutional explosion?

  229. blf says

    ‘What is wrong with you?’ Michelle Obama savages Trump’s gutting of her legacy:

    Former first lady attacks president’s reversal of regulations to help improve school lunches: ‘Think about why someone is OK with your kids eating […] crap’


    One of the former first lady’s signature legacies was an effort to reduce childhood obesity. Earlier this month, Donald Trump’s administration froze regulations that would cut sodium and increase whole grains served in school meals.


    “This is where you really have to look at motives, you know. You have to stop and think: why don’t you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you?”


    “[… H]ere’s the secret: if somebody is doing that, they don’t care about your kid, and we need to demand everyone to care deeply about kids. That’s all we have. So we should be driving this and every elected official on this planet should understand: don’t play with our children. Don’t do it.”


    Along with the delay in nutrition standards for school lunches announced by the US agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, the Trump administration has also postponed rules instructing restaurants, grocery stores and other outlets to put calories counts on their menus.

    Evidently riled, Obama continued: “‘You shouldn’t know what you’re eating.’ Think about that. Stop there, think about that. ‘You shouldn’t know what you’re eating.’ You’re OK with that? […]”


    “‘Keep families ignorant.’ That’s all I’m hearing. ‘You don’t need to know what’s in your food. You can’t handle that, Mom. Just buy this, be quiet, spend your money, you buy this, don’t ask us about what’s in your food, you know.’ How does that feel? […]”


  230. says

    “Former Trump Adviser Paul Manafort’s Bank Records Sought in Probe”:

    The Justice Department last month requested banking records of Paul Manafort as part of a widening of probes related to President Donald Trump’s former campaign associates and whether they colluded with Russia in interfering with the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter.

    In mid-April, federal investigators requested Mr. Manafort’s banking records from Citizens Financial Group Inc., the people said.

    It isn’t clear whether Citizens is the only bank that received such a request or whether it came in the form of a subpoena. Federal law generally requires that a bank receive a subpoena to turn over customer records, lawyers not connected to the investigation said.

    Citizens gave Mr. Manafort a $2.7 million loan last year to refinance debt on a Manhattan condominium and borrow additional cash, New York City real-estate records show. The Wall Street Journal couldn’t ascertain if the Justice Department request is related to that transaction or whether the bank has turned over Mr. Manafort’s records.

    Separately, investigators for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as well as Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. also have been examining real-estate transactions by Mr. Manafort, who has spent and borrowed tens of millions of dollars in connection with property across the U.S. over the past decade, people familiar with the matter say. The request for Mr. Manafort’s banking records and the New York inquiries haven’t previously been reported.

    The inquiries indicate how the examination of Mr. Trump’s campaign officials may be heating up….

  231. says

    This is what I’ve been waiting for. Fox News and republican senators are starting to turn on Trump. We all know that as Fox goes, so goes a large percentage of the republican base, and as the base goes, so go the politicians. Even the Kochs are showing signs of giving up on him.

    I think, this might also be the moment a lot of republican congress people are waiting for. Don’t be surprised if we don’t have a special prosecutor and impeachment proceedings within about 2 weeks.

  232. blf says

    erikthebassist@371, The “republican senators are starting to turn on Trump” link is borked.

    Also, the “Kochs are showing signs of giving up on [hair furor]” seems, to me, to be a generous reading; it’s more that they are unhappy the Obama prison reforms — which they apparently support to some degree† — has been rolled back by Sessions. Or, in short, a fairly routine policy disagreement (perhaps unusual in that the Kochs don’t have the more loathsome position). I stand to be corrected, but I’m not aware of any(?) other policy disagreements they have with teh trum-prat or his dalekocracy.

      † From my (admittedly weak) understanding of their world-view, which is all about classically-measured public costs (i.e., money), prison reform would make sense. Prisons are expensive, so locking up huge numbers of people is obviously high-cost. (Too bad they don’t seem to carry this sort of thinking to non-classical costs, such as the damage done by pollution, AGW, and so on; all of which are “not on the balance sheet”, that is, not monetized in the classical sense).

  233. says

    Bob Bauer on Trump’s behavior:

    …It can be granted the President is not threatening Mr. Comey to stop him from testifying in a congressional proceeding, to investigators, or to a grand jury. He is complaining about leaking. However, Mr. Trump appears not to understand that he is drawing a certain picture of himself, which is neither pretty nor without consequence for his legal position. This self-portrait can be counted on to color unfavorably any assessment of his motives when more formal inquiries into his behavior are considered or take place. While it is certainly true that prosecutors should pursue the crime and not specific individuals, suspicious behavior cannot help but draw attention to itself and push forward an investigation.

    What is most remarkable is that the President has willingly created this self-portrait. As scandals-in-the-making go, this one may become famous for featuring the President as the principal witness against himself: he seems committed to uncovering any cover-up.

  234. says


    More than a lack of momentum on major policy goals, Trump is said to be seething over the flood of leaks pouring out of the White House and into news reports. He’s viewed even senior advisers suspiciously, including Bannon and Priebus, when stories about internal White House drama land in the press.

    A dozen White House officials and others close to Trump detailed the president’s decision-making and his mood on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss private conversations and deliberations.

  235. says

    @374 – my borked link was referring to what SC later posted in 378.

    On the Kochs, yeah, it’s a generous reading but if you recall, the Kochs were barely reluctant Trump supporters only after he won the nomination. They’ve never been huge fans.

  236. says

    Trump plans to dumb down yet another department by appointing a person who is not qualified:

    The USDA’s research section studies everything from climate change to nutrition. Under the 2008 Farm Bill, its leader is supposed to serve as the agency’s “chief scientist” and be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.”

    But Sam Clovis — who, according to sources with knowledge of the appointment and members of the agriculture trade press, is President Trump’s pick to oversee the section — appears to have no such credentials.

    Clovis has never taken a graduate course in science and is openly skeptical of climate change. While he has a doctorate in public administration and was a tenured professor of business and public policy at Morningside College for 10 years, he has published almost no academic work.

    Clovis is better known for hosting a conservative talk radio show in his native Iowa and, after mounting an unsuccessful run for Senate in 2014, becoming a fiery pro-Trump advocate on television.

    Clovis advised Trump on agricultural issues during his presidential campaign and is currently the senior White House advisor within the USDA, a position described by The Washington Post as “Trump’s eyes and ears” at the agency.

    Clovis was also responsible for recruiting Carter Page, whose ties to Russia have become the subject of intense speculation and scrutiny, as a Trump foreign policy advisor. […]

  237. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 377.

    […] Trump’s frustrations came to a head this week with the firing of FBI Director James Comey, […] Fearful that his own team would leak the decision, Trump kept key staff in the dark as he pondered the dramatic move.

    Chief strategist Steve Bannon learned on television. The communications staff charged with explaining the decision to the American people had an hour’s notice.

    When the White House’s defense of the move failed to meet his ever-changing expectations, Trump tried to take over himself. But he wound up creating new headaches for the White House, including with an apparent threat to Comey. […]

    Several people close to the president say his reliance on a small cadre of advisers as he mulled firing Comey reflects his broader distrust of many of his own staffers. He leans heavily on daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kusher, as well as Hope Hicks, his trusted campaign spokeswoman and Keith Schiller, his longtime bodyguard. Schiller was among those Trump consulted about Comey and was tapped by the president to deliver a letter informing the director of his firing.

    Trump confidants say Bannon has been marginalized on major decisions, including Comey’s firing, after clashing with Kushner. […]

    Trump spent most of the week out of sight, a marked change from a typically jam-packed schedule that often includes multiple on-camera events per day. Even when aides moved ahead on an executive order creating a voter fraud commission — a presidential pet project that some advisers thought they had successfully shelved — Trump signed the directive in private. […]

    Much of Trump’s ire has been focused on the communications team, all of whom were caught off guard by Comey’s ouster. He increasingly sees himself as the White House’s only effective spokesperson, according to multiple people who have spoken with him. By week’s end, he was musing about cutting back on the White House’s televised press briefings.

    […] Aides said Trump does not believe his team gave contradictory stories about his decision to fire Comey, despite the fact that the White House’s explanation changed dramatically over a 48-hour period. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

    Trump does not see himself as the main source of the problems.

  238. says

    This seems like a wise decision. After Trump mischaracterized conversations with Comey, he is reluctant to testify behind closed doors.

    Fired FBI Director James Comey is willing to testify before Congress on the condition that he is able to do so in public, the New York Times reported Friday.

    Comey declined an invitation from the Senate Intelligence Committee to be interviewed in a closed-door hearing next Tuesday, according to Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the ranking Democrat on that panel.

    But a “close associate” of Comey’s told the Times he is willing to speak as long as he can do so in an open hearing. […]

  239. says

    Trump spoke at Liberty University today. He played the God card loudly, and he pushed a sort of Christian supremacy ideology:

    […] “America is a nation of true believers…When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, they prayed,” he said. “It’s why we proudly proclaim that we are one nation, under God, every time we say the Pledge of Allegiance.”

    “In America we don’t worship government, we worship God,” Trump proclaimed, to thunderous applause. He later added: “We all bleed the same blood of patriots, we all salute the same, great American flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God.”

    The address also appeared to connect religion to the president’s willingness to increase military action in the Middle East, such as dropping the MOAB bomb on Afghanistan. Falwell in particular praised Trump for “bomb[ing] those…who were persecuting Christians,” and the president noted during his speech that Americans will be “hearing a lot about [military actions] next week from our generals.” […]

    “A lot of people are very happy…especially last week — we did some very important signings,” he said, describing Liberty students as “Champions of Christ.” He later added: “As long as I am president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith, or preaching what’s in your heart.” […]

    Think Progress link

  240. says

    “Election Is Over, but Trump Still Can’t Seem to Get Past It”:

    …At the root of Mr. Trump’s unpredictable presidency, according to people close to him, is a deep frustration about attacks on his legitimacy, and a worry that Washington does not see him as he sees himself.

    As he careens from one controversy to another, many of them of his own making — like his abrupt decision to fire the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, who was leading an investigation into the president’s associates — Mr. Trump seems determined to prove that he won the election on his own. It was not Russian interference. It was not Mr. Comey’s actions in the case involving Hillary Clinton’s emails. It was not a fluke of the Electoral College system. It was all him.

    He sits in the dining room or Oval Office stewing over the Russia inquiry that Mr. Comey was managing, arguing to anyone who will listen that the matter is all a Democratic-inspired conspiracy to undermine the validity of his victory. Even as he was defending his decision to dismiss Mr. Comey last week, Mr. Trump signed an executive order creating a commission to investigate voting fraud in a quixotic effort to prove his unsubstantiated contention that he would have won the popular vote against Mrs. Clinton but for millions of ballots that were illegally cast against him.

    In the process, allies and advisers said, Mr. Trump has only made the situation worse for himself. Rather than ignoring the Russia investigation and focusing on priorities like health care and taxes, he keeps drawing more attention to the subject with intemperate Twitter posts, angry interviews and actions like the firing of Mr. Comey.

    He is so consumed by the matter that he studies congressional hearings on the Russia case, scrolling through them using TiVo. The night before dismissing Mr. Comey, he invited Time magazine journalists to dinner and, on a 60-inch-plus television he has had installed in the dining room, showed them various moments from the hearings, offering play-by-play-style commentary.

    If Mr. Trump has nothing to hide, as he insists, he has only succeeded in making it appear as though he might….

    He has plenty to hide.

  241. says

    Bad news concerning the attempted takeover of all school boards in California by pro-charter-school candidates.

    Billionaires keep trying to buy seats on the Los Angeles school board to promote privatized charter schools in the city just as Betsy DeVos wants to do nationwide. The outside money is pouring in to the races for two critical seats on the board: Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings has given $5 million, two Walmart heirs have given six figures apiece, Gap co-founder Doris Fisher has given more than $1 million, reliable corporate education policy funder Eli Broad has put in six figures.

    Interestingly enough, some of these same names popped up as big donors back in 2012 opposing a statewide proposition to fund public education. But sure, they’re giving big money to school board races now out of a sincere concern for the kids.

    The targets of all this money are Steve Zimmer, the current school board president, and Imelda Padilla, who is running for an open seat. Zimmer and Padilla are not only backed by the teachers union but have been endorsed by Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution.

    The stakes are high: Los Angeles already has a lot of charter schools but the big-money charter backers are looking for unrestrained expansion, to the detriment of public schools. California already spends big money on charter schools it doesn’t need and that don’t improve the quality of education. The millions of dollars being poured into defeating Steve Zimmer and Imelda Padilla are intended to make that worse.

    Billionaires pour millions into buying Los Angeles school board seats for the Betsy DeVos agenda.

  242. says

    Mick Mulvaney, head of the Trump Administrations’s Office of Management and Budget, said something stupid, lacking in compassion, and ill-informed:

    […] taxpayers shouldn’t help people who fall ill because of, ostensibly, their own actions.

    “That doesn’t mean we should take care of the person who sits at home, eats poorly and gets diabetes,” Mulvaney said. “Is that the same thing as Jimmy Kimmel’s kid? I don’t think that it is.” […]

    Putting the lack of compassion aside, his statement about diabetes is inaccurate:

    […] Mulvaney was attempting to defend the AHCA, […] In its current form, the bill would essentially allow insurance companies to price people with pre-existing conditions out of the health insurance marketplace. Meanwhile, so-called “Trumpcare” includes a $880 billion cut to Medicaid, which stands to result in roughly 24 million Americans losing their health insurance because of premium increases.

    Mulvaney’s statement was widely panned by progressives as compassionless, but diabetes advocates also noted that it is also inaccurate: The American Diabetes Association was quick to condemn Mulvaney’s remarks, saying they are “extremely disappointed” and describing his statement as “misinformed.”

    “Mr. Mulvaney’s comments perpetuate the stigma that one chooses to have diabetes based on his/her lifestyle,” the statement read. “We are also deeply troubled by his assertion that access to health care should be rationed or denied to anyone. All of the scientific evidence indicates that diabetes develops from a diverse set of risk factors, genetics being a primary cause. People with diabetes need access to affordable health care in order to effectively manage their disease and prevent dangerous and costly complications. Nobody should be denied coverage or charged more based on their health status.” […]


  243. says

    A closer look at Sarah Huckabee’s past tweets about the FBI:

    Lies, scandal, corruption, failure and now another FBI investigation. VOTE for change, VOTE @realDonaldTrump! #DrainTheSwamp #MAGA [28 Oct 2016]

    When you’re attacking FBI agents because you’re under criminal investigation, you’re losing [3 Nov 2016]

    For months team Clinton has defended FBI Director Comey and attacked his critics #hypocrisy [29 Oct 2016]

    When they go low we go high – and attack the FBI director appointed by Obama! [29 Oct 2016]

    Imagine if a REPUBLICAN presidential candidate came under FBI investigation as votes were being cast [29 Oct 2016]

  244. says

    To follow up on #389 – In addition to all of the other absurd aspects, Cornyn is currently on the Senate Judiciary Committee. There’s no way he should be in a private meeting with Sessions, in the form of an “interview” (!) or anything else.

  245. says

    North Korea launched another missile. The story is still developing, so this is not confirmed, but the projectile is believed to be a ballistic missile.

  246. says

    Carter Page was on Chris Hayes the other night claiming that over the years he regularly briefed the FBI and CIA, providing them insights. Whenever he’s speaking, I think of a great Taxi episode called “The Road Not Taken” in which Tony the boxer recalls a moment early in his career when a gambling syndicate pressured him to take a dive. The guy tries putting it to him subtly, hinting at the plan, but he’s so thick and oblivious that the guy ends up spelling out “I want you to take a dive. In the third round. In the ring. Tonight.” And Tony’s still like “You want me to throw the fight?”

    That’s how I imagine Page’s interactions with his would-be Russian handlers.

  247. blf says

    As been previously mentioned, one reason the hack of Macron†, and the general lack of effectiveness of fake news and its redistribution / echo chambers, in the recent French presidential election was simply the meddling kooks don’t seem to grok the French speak French. The attempted twitter-storm — which used the English-language hashtag #MacronLeaks — was analyzed, and showed the predominance of English-language kooks and French-language sanity for much of the time, #MacronLeaks Campaign Hits Resistance:

    French internet users mock alt-right US twitter storm
    Over the course of May 6, the DFRLab conducted three machine scans of posts using the hashtag #MacronLeaks: the first from 01:00 to 08:00 UTC, the second from 08:00 to 12:00, and the third from 12:00 to 16:00. Each collected roughly 100,000 tweets.

    [… W]hile the number of users and posts was relatively constant, their behavior was not. Tracking the evolution in the tone of the most popular posts over the course of the day therefore allows us to judge how well the message penetrated the broader French political discourse on the eve of Sunday’s crucial vote.

    The early hours were dominated by English-speaking voices. […]

    By the early hours of Saturday morning, French time, the situation was even more extreme. All twenty-five most shared tweets during this period were in English.


    By 12:00 UTC, the balance between English and French had swung the other way. Seven out of the ten top tweets on the Saturday morning were in French; just three were in English […]

    [… Five] did not support the hashtag and leak, but rather attacked them. The single most popular tweet during the morning [… highlighted] tweets from a WikiLeaks lawyer questioning the propriety of dumping so much data just before the election […]


    A third highly-performing tweet came from the fake-busting team at French daily newspaper La Libération, pointing out that the same accounts which spread the story of the leaks had earlier spread allegations that Macron had a secret bank account in the Bahamas

    Throughout the top 50 most-shared tweets during Saturday morning, this mockery of the leaks and their sources continued in parallel to alt-right accounts amplifying the original message […]


    The online debate evolved further between 12:00 and 16:00 UTC. The proportion of English-language tweets […] rose again; but […] the most-retweeted posts included a cluster of very high-performing tweets tracing the leak itself back to Russia.


    One quoted tweet, which I particularly liked, said (in translation), “Funniest part of #MacronLeaks is the US alt-right, who can’t read French, spending time on misinterpreting mundane documents.”

      † Two other reasons (among many other reasons) the hack failed to gain any traction are that it was very poorly timed, occurring just before the media blackout period; and the Macron’s team manage to issue a warning before the blackout that some of the documents were very possibly forged.

    (Originally spotted in Vive la différence that foiled attack on Macron: “French voters were insulated from the far right’s election meddling because they prefer to share high-quality information. And by the fact they speak French”.)

  248. blf says

    Oops! For some reason the start of @408 is the text I thought I had replaced with something like: “As been previously mentioned, one reason for the general lack of effectiveness of fake news and its redistribution / echo chambers (e.g., twitter) — and especially the hack (misleadingly called a leak) of Macron — during the recent French presidental election was simply the meddling kooks didn’t seem to grok the French speak French.† …”

    (It’s still too long and convoluted, but at least it makes more sense!)

  249. blf says

    The Onion, Department Of Interior Asks For Resignation Of Obama-Era Elk:

    [… The Department of Interior] requested the immediate resignation of all Obama-era elk. We are asking all elk appointed by President Obama, regardless of subspecies, to step down from their posts by no later than June 1, said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, adding that the dismissal of more than a million of the ungulate land mammals was not unlike restructurings carried out by past administrations that wished to staff the nation’s forests and mountain ranges with their own personnel. […] We are, of course, excited to start working with our incoming elk, whose migration patterns and antler-shedding cycles are more compatible with the vision of the Trump White House. […]

    The usually-reliable — or at least that’s what the mildly deranged penguin claims — Deep Penguin Sighs reports it’s thought hair furor has been convinced the zillions of Muslims imported and hidden in the national parks by Obama are disguised as elk. And elk are also responsible hiding all the evidence — eating all the tapped wires during a raid on teh trum-prat eyesore in their invisible black helicopters — just after hair furor sent the wiretapping tweet. However, it was the moose who ate all the fraudulently-cast ballots. Moose and elk, along with alligators, tubeworms, and tomatoes, are all probaby the same to him — all needing ketchup.

  250. says

    No. Trump is not the “CEO” of the country.

    “The President is the CEO of the country. He can hire and fire whoever he wants,” Haley [United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley] said on ABC’s “This Week.”

    “I think that the reason people are uncomfortable is because he acts,” she said. “He doesn’t talk with a bunch of people about it before, he just acts.”

    She says that like it is a good thing.

  251. says

    A mob of torch-carrying protestors marched on Charlottesville, Virginia last night. The white supremacists were led by Richard Spencer.

    […] In a statement, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer called the event “either profoundly ignorant or was designed to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK. Either way, as mayor of this city, I want everyone to know this: we reject this intimidation. We are a welcoming city, but such intolerance is not welcome here.”

    On Twitter, Del. David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, called the “outrageous protests in Charlottesville this evening by apparent white supremacists” unacceptable.

    “Whoever these people were, the intolerance and hatred they seek to promote is utterly disgusting and disturbing beyond words,” Erich Reimer, chairman of the Charlottesville Republican party, said in a statement. “This is a time for our community to come together on our common values of liberty, equality and justice for all, in stark contrast to them.” […]

    The mob carried real torches, not candles.

  252. blf says

    [The president] can hire and fire whoever he wants

    Blatantly untrue; e.g., judges and congresscritters. Even if Haley was just talking about the executive branch, not true, career civil servants have protections. I believe the technical term is “career-appointment”, also known as “career tenure”. As I understand it, like academic tenure, it is very difficult / slow to dismiss an individual with career tenure.

    Not all federal jobs are on a career tenure track. I have no idea what proportion of people, or positions, have, or on track to obtain, career tenure.

  253. blf says

    According to this article, Fighting fascism: Americans in the Spanish civil war have a lesson for today, there is apparently a growing interest in the States in the history and motivations of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, with students seeing parallels between the events of c.80 years ago and now. Whilst the historians are “wary about direct analogies to the 30s, [they argue] the Lincolns, with so little black and white in their stories, have critical lessons for Americans today.”

  254. says

    Follow up to SC @403 – I’ve also been following the AG succession issue closely.

    Twitter is all lit up with Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor jointly “reporting” that Boente has acquired sealed indictments from a grand jury against Trump, Manafort and Flynn. They claim to have independent corroboration from two different sources, one each.

    Obviously I take everything they say with a grain of salt, but there are some extenuating facts that make it at least plausible.

    For one, Senators Warner and Burr were pulled into an emergency private meeting with Rosenstein and Boente on Thursday. They will also be speaking to all 100 senators next week.

    It’s verified that a grand jury subpoenaed documents from business associates of Flynn.

    An interesting wrinkle here is Boente, who I’ve a google alert set up for since early after the election. He would be the presiding prosecutor in the district the indictments supposedly came out of, the Eastern District of Virginia. Obama “demoted him” just before leaving office, but some are speculating he did that on purpose in order to trick Trump in to re-promoting him, knowing that Trump would tend to trust anyone that Obama appeared not to trust.

    It also explains Rosenstein saying he doesn’t think a special prosecutor is needed at this time. If they are already bringing charges, why hand the investigation off to someone else?

    If Rosenstein was briefed about the existing evidence as soon as he was confirmed, 3 weeks ago now, it explains his seeming to be complicit in Comey’s firing by writing the letter he did. He may have just been playing loyal soldier to keep Trump off the scent of what was really going down.

    So again, LM and CT are anything but trustworthy reporters, but they have both been right, occasionally, in the past, and an examination of the existing context has me hopeful they are correct this time as well.

  255. says

    SC @417, thanks for the correction.

    In other news, former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper appeared on Sunday morning shows to express concerns over Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey:

    […] On ABC News’ This Week on Sunday morning, Clapper said that Russia’s “first objective” was to “sow doubt, discord, and dissension in this country” during the 2016 election.

    “And what has unfolded now, the leader of the investigation about potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign has been removed,” Clapper said. “The Russians have to consider this as another victory on the scoreboard for them.”

    Later in the morning, in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union, Clapper explained his belief that the foundations of our government, particularly our system of checks and balances, are being threatened by Trump’s actions.

    “Well, I will just say that the developments of the past week are very bothersome, very disturbing to me,” Clapper said. “I think in many ways, our institutions are under assault externally and that’s the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system. And I think as well our institutions are under assault internally.”

    He also said that current FBI employees are on edge over Comey’s firing.

    “I do know that it came as a great shock, it was very disturbing to FBI employees,” Clapper said. “I spoke to one last night at a dinner, that was quite upset about it and I think that reflects the feeling widespread in the FBI.” […]


  256. says

    Phil Torres discussed Trump’s lack of “integrative complexity.”

    […] What does integrative complexity have to do with Donald Trump? First, by any objective account, the complexity of Trump’s speech is abominably low. Studies show that he literally talks at a fourth-grade level, despite his claim of having “the best words.” He is also known (indeed, famous) for relying heavily on simplistic adjectives like “huge,” “best,” “beautiful” and “terrible,” as well as making sweeping categorical assertions like “I alone can defeat ISIS,” “There is nobody who understands the horror of nuclear more than me,” “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” “There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am” and “Nobody in the history of this country has ever known so much about infrastructure as Donald Trump.” […]

    Second, low integrative complexity levels are associated with bad outcomes for individuals in mundane settings and while playing war games. As Steven Pinker puts it, “People whose language is less integratively complex, on average, are more likely to react to frustration with violence and are more likely to go to war in war games.” Even more alarming, Tetlock and his colleague Peter Suedfeld discovered that war tends to follow a decline in the integrative complexity of speeches given by political leaders. In other words, the lower the complexity, the higher the probability of military conflict. Given that the world is a giant propane tank ready to blow with a single spark, the fact that Trump is a simple-minded, know-nothing, solipsistic sociopath with the nuclear codes is extremely worrisome.

    Even more, Pinker observes that there also exists a link between the IQ of American presidents and the total number of soldiers killed in conflict. That is to say, the lower a president’s IQ, the more Americans will likely end up dead on the battlefield. […]

    […] despite Trump’s claim to have “one of the highest” IQs, impartial observers can agree that Trump’s intelligence level is abysmally low for a world leader — any world leader. He most certainly does not have an IQ of 156, as one viral meme claimed, nor is he especially known for his “abstract reasoning” skills, insight, thoughtfulness or deliberation on complex issues like health care (“nobody knew”!) and foreign policy. (Incidentally, abstract reasoning is the feature of human intelligence that Pinker links to the steady expansion of our “circles of moral concern” during the Long Peace, or the period from World War II to the present.) […]

  257. says

    A panel of experts discussed on AM Joy why the African American vote in 2016 was down when compared to the previous election. Multiple reasons were presented, but I want to focus on Republican voter-suppression efforts.

    I thought the most important parts of this discussion hosted by Joy Reid focused on:
    1. voter suppression efforts in various states
    2. Trump’s executive order creating a voter fraud commission
    3. the fact that 2016 marked the first presidential election since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.

    For me, this is a hair-on-fire issue. Kris Kobach is ready to suppress the vote even more, and his tactics invariably affect voters of color, students, and disabled people disproportionately. Trump is putting the power of the presidency behind this effort.

    Studies showing that voter suppression efforts likely caused the vote by people of color to decline by about 5% in 2016 were presented.

    This situation is only going to get worse. We see that voter-suppression tactics, voter-ID laws, and gerrymandering of districts have already had a dire effect. Republicans count all this as a huge success … and they want to do more of the same.

  258. says

    SC @417, thanks for the correction.

    I didn’t mean it as a correction – just thought it was funny. I’m quite sure they intended to menace and terrorize, and Nazis with fire is never a comforting sight, but they’re also such comical dipshits.

  259. says

    SC @423, it was funny. They were terrorizing mosquitoes as well.

    In other news, Hunter, writing for Daily Kos presented this analysis of Sean Spicer’s predicament:

    […] Yes, he [Trump] was raging about the Russia investigation even as all his loyal surrogates, Mike Pence included, went before the public to deny the Russia investigation had a thing to do with the firing. Every one of those surrogates is themselves in this up to their eyeballs.

    It is impossible to feel sorry for any of the cretins willing to sabotage their own careers for the sake of a lying, delusional nut, so we’re not going to bother trying. Spicer is, among the crew, on the thinnest ice of any of them, quite probably because he is simply the most visible. Sean Spicer asks Donald Trump what he should say, during each of the administration’s many crises; Trump tells him; Spicer says it; Sean Spicer gets openly mocked by the nation’s comedians and a good chunk of its pundits for saying such a stupid thing, upon which Donald Trump, a narcissist who believes his every action is godlike in its perfection, fumes about the poor public response and blames his team for not making it all work out. […]

    It’s an almost-certainty that Sean Spicer is not long for the White House, simply because the stories are too persistent, and have been going on too long. This already appears to be the longest Donald Trump has ever put up with someone who he thinks is making him look bad. […] there’s no Fox News talking head you can stuff into that position that won’t end up being just as mocked and humiliated as Sean Spicer has been.

    The problem is that Donald Trump is a liar. It doesn’t matter how many surrogates spout how many versions of his untruths, when Trump pipes up the next day with a lie that makes them all look like morons for repeating the last lie there’s no magic wand they can wave to keep reality-denizens from noticing that. […]

  260. says

    The latest from Carol Cadwalladr – “Follow the data: does a legal document link Brexit campaigns to US billionaire?” It’s a whopper.

    …A number of individuals, including Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, have sent a file of evidence to the Electoral Commission, the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan police pointing out a catalogue of issues. They all referred it back to the Electoral Commission, saying it was the body with jurisdiction over the matter.

    The commission announced it was going to pursue an investigation of Leave.EU. Publicly, it has made no statement about Vote Leave. Sources have told the Observer that it is unable to pursue a proper investigation because AggregateIQ is outside British jurisdiction. The Observer has learned that the Information Commissioner’s Office is actively investigating BeLeave, Vote Leave, Veterans for Britain and the DUP for potential offences, including illegal sharing of data, but it is believed to have the same problem: the evidence is offshore.

    Kinnock said: “It’s clear the Electoral Commission, the body which is meant to uphold it, is completely toothless … That’s the heart of the problem. Even if it finds a problem, it can only impose a fine which is just the cost of doing business. There’s clear evidence of channelling funding through third parties, including DUP and BeLeave as front organisations to circumvent the rules. And there is no way of properly holding anyone to account. What you’ve shown is that there is a much bigger story here that I believe needs a full public inquiry. There are so many issues. Thousands of pounds of work apparently unaccounted for. Evidence of coordination between multiple campaigns. Multiple breaches of data protection. And this question of foreign influence, of a foreign billionaire buying influence in a British election, goes right to the heart of our entire democratic process.”…

    This detail is amazing if true:

    [Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s communications director] said that Mercer, Farage and co had all met at a conference in Washington. “The best dinner we ever went to. Around that table were all the rejects of the political world. And the rejects of the political world are now effectively in the White House. It’s extraordinary. Jeff Sessions. [Former national security adviser Michael] Flynn, the whole lot of them. They were all there.”

  261. says

    Twitter is all lit up with Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor jointly “reporting” that Boente has acquired sealed indictments from a grand jury against Trump, Manafort and Flynn. They claim to have independent corroboration from two different sources, one each.

    I honestly have no idea who Taylor is and didn’t realize he was connected to Mensch when I linked earlier. Both best safely ignored, is the way to go. (As I’ve said before, daily torrents of wild speculation will, given the odds, likely produce a few hits – or something kind of resembling them – but that doesn’t make you a credible or worthwhile source.)

  262. blf says

    Just a heads-up: Mano Singham, here at FtB, has an article about some possibly very interesting journalism / investigation, Dutch documentary on Trump’s shady business dealings:

    There is a new documentary out of the Netherlands by an investigative outfit known as Zembla that looks at Trump’s shady business dealings. This documentary ‘follows the money’ (as the cliché goes) and it makes some pretty explosive charges. The name of a particularly unsavory person named Felix Sater, a convicted mobster and head of a company named Bayrock, plus the names of other shady people Tevfik Arif, Alexander Mashkevich, and Viktor Khrapunoov, keep coming up in association with Trump. The FBI would clearly have been investigating this kind of case because it involves transnational money laundering and may be more relevant to why James Comey was fired.

  263. blf says

    France24 is reporting Trump to nominate Callista Gingrich as Vatican envoy:

    President [sic] Donald Trump is set to nominate Callista Gingrich, wife of former House speaker Newt Gingrich, to be the next US ambassador to the Vatican […]

    The nomination is expected to be formalized before Trump meets with Pope Francis on May 24 in Rome, and once the Office of Government Ethics gives its approval […]


    Trump mentioned the possibility of the ambassadorship in January, but the Gingrichs have been so frustrated with the slow vetting process that they have threatened to withdraw Callista’s name […]

    If the claim of a threatened withdrawal is true, it’s ironic since Newt was a supporter of teh trum-prat.

    As far as I am aware, the Ambassadorship to the child raping cult isn’t a position which is too important, so filling it as payback for a political debt (a common practice) needn’t be a big deal. (Which should not be read as saying I approve of the practice!) A caveat here, however, is that in the past the States has worked with the cult on some fairly loathsome actions, such as (from memory) restricting contraception and abortions. Also, in the past the cult has (attempted to?) reject Ambassadors for silly reasons, such as being gay.

  264. blf says

    Al-Jazeera has a detailed look at hair furor’s “Ambassador” to Israel, US ambassador to Israel: ‘Great advantage to Netanyahu’ (my added emboldening):

    David Friedman is known for his support for the most extreme elements in Israel’s settler movement.
    Usually, the appointment [of US ambassador to Israel] is approved by the Senate’s foreign relations committee by consensus. But David Friedman’s confirmation vote in March split largely on partisan lines, with Republicans backing him and all but one Democrat opposing him.

    Tens of thousands of liberal American Jews signed a petition opposing his nomination, and major Jewish organisations and hundreds of rabbis also objected.

    But then, Donald Trump’s envoy to Israel is no ordinary ambassador.

    Rather than climbing up through the diplomatic ranks learning the arts of statecraft, 57-year-old Friedman […] has been propelled overnight into one of the world’s most sensitive diplomatic posts.

    An Orthodox Jew and the son of a New York rabbi, Friedman is a bankruptcy lawyer who has worked on Trump’s behalf for the past 15 years. He joined the presidential election campaign last year as Trump’s adviser on Israel.

    [… I]t is not Friedman’s lack of experience causing the greatest concern. It is his long history of support not only for the Israeli right but for some of the most extreme elements in Israel’s settler movement.


    Friedman has vehemently opposed a Palestinian state, breaking with long-standing US official policy. He boasted recently, Arafeh noted, that he had helped to erase any reference to the two-state solution from the Republican election platform. He has also backed the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank by Israel. Such statements put him to the right of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    As ambassador, he may not be in charge of making policy, but he will be the administration’s eyes and ears in the region. His cables to the White House will frame official US perceptions of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and his recommendations are likely to shape policy.

    That point was underscored by Daniel Kurtzer, a former US ambassador to Israel. “Everything an ambassador says and does has an impact on policy” […].

    Noam Sheizaf, an Israeli journalist […], said previous US ambassadors had collected and passed on data chiefly from human rights groups and the Israeli media. “If the new ambassador is hostile to human rights, the treatment of political prisoners and issues of free speech, that will make a real difference to the information arriving in Washington” […].

    Equally significantly, Friedman’s statements and actions — even small ones, given the highly volatile situation in the region — could have powerful reverberations.


    This is an example of a very bad political payback Ambassadorship (which is not to say @433 isn’t bad, only that it’s not as obviously dangerously bad). The entire article is worth reading.

  265. says

    “The Widening Blast Radius of the Fox News Scandal: The metastasizing Ailes affair is spilling over into the politics of New York, Virginia and the White House.”

    This section at the end:

    Bannon has also collaborated with Jim Pinkerton, a former Fox News contributor who for years authored the anonymous blog “The Cable Game” to tout Fox and attack its rivals on behalf of Ailes.

    Pinkerton, who did not respond to requests for comment, has written for Breitbart under his own byline since 2014. According to four people with knowledge of the arrangement, Pinkerton has also written for Breitbart under the pseudonym Virgil, an homage to the ancient poet whose work was commissioned by Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, to help legitimize his reign. Marlow declined to comment on the pseudonym.

    From 2012 to 2014, many of Breitbart’s attacks against Sherman were authored anonymously under another pseudonymous byline: “Capitol Confidential.” When “Capitol Confidential” was not attacking Sherman, it was attacking environmental protections and Google, and writing articles favorable to the tobacco and timber industries.

    Marlow said “Capitol Confidential” had been managed by the site’s former politics editor Mike Flynn, who died last year. (The late Flynn was not related to the former national security adviser of the same name, Marlow said.)

    Presented with the suggestion that the byline resembled a cover for undisclosed work on behalf of corporate interests, Marlow said it was not. “If there are any patterns,” he said, “that would be for you to figure out.”

  266. says

    In legal news:

    The Supreme Court just refused to reinstate North Carolina’s voter-suppression law. (The NC Republican-controlled legislature has reached almost pre-Civil War levels of “Fuck everyone, we’re in power and we’ll oppress anyone we want.”) “In a statement that accompanied the court’s order Monday, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed to uncertainty over an important procedural aspect of the case, disagreement over who was authorized to file an appeal on behalf of the state.”

    The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments about Muslim Ban 2.0 today.

  267. blf says

    This is quite a long article worth reading, albeit the basic datapoint — by far most “terrorism” within the State is committed by wingnuts — is neither new nor recent, They hate the US government, and they’re multiplying: the terrifying rise of sovereign citizens (“While US counter-terrorism efforts remain locked on Islamist [sic] extremism, the growing threat from homegrown, rightwing extremists is even more pressing”).

    One detail I’ll except is the following:

    Although the Trump administration is reportedly planning to restructure the Department of Homeland Security’s countering violent extremism (CVE) program to focus exclusively on radical Islam, a 2014 national survey of 175 law enforcement agencies ranked sovereign citizens, not Islamic [sic] terrorists, as the most pressing terrorist threat. The survey ranked Islamic [sic] terrorists a close second, with the following top three threats all domestic in origin and sometimes overlapping: the militia movement, racist skinheads, the neo-Nazi movement.

    Though the federal CVE program already devotes almost the entirety of its resources to organizations combatting jihadism, the White House feels that the current name is needlessly ‘politically correct’, an anonymous government source told CNN.


    To the knowledge of Daryl Johnson, [a] former Department of Homeland Security intelligence analyst, there are no longer any DHS analysts monitoring domestic terrorism full time. (When asked about it, a DHS representative said this is a question for the FBI.)

    “The FBI is the only US government agency that still has full-time analysts assessing threats from the far right,” Johnson said, “and their analytical cadre could be measured in the dozens.”


    [… R]enaming CVE to only focus on radical Islam will merely further “alienate Muslims — justify their fears, and reinforce them as well”, Daryl Johnson believes.


  268. says

    SC @ 430 – Which is why I was very careful in my wording. I don’t trust a thing LM says. She’s an attention craving liar. Claude is a lot more reliable. The morning of the SCG raid he was tweeting that something was going down long before the press caught wind of it. He also accurately predicted the existence of grand juries that had not been reported before, and hours later the news broke about the subpoenas for Flynn’s business associates’ information, so I believe he knows people on the inside.

    I think for him it’s unfortunate that he associates himself with her. Again, I’m not saying they are right, I’m just hopeful they are.

  269. says

    The morning of the SCG raid he was tweeting that something was going down long before the press caught wind of it.

    That’s not correct. I linked to a local journalist covering the SCG raid @ #256. Her tweet was at 10 AM. I linked to his tweets @ #262. They began at 10:51 AM, and their claims went well beyond what has been documented to have occurred. The only reason I wasn’t more critical at the time was that the journalist, who’s still following this by the way, later tweeted this cryptic remark. He and Mensch seem to throw around a lot of legal and enforcement terms when they don’t really understand how things work, and their claims are often so general (“something’s going down”) that any development is taken as a fulfillment of their predictions. If things really develop, we’ll learn it soon enough from real journalists anyway, and they’re wrong about so much that they endlessly build up expectations of imminent takedowns, which isn’t helpful to anyone.

    I’m prickly about it at the moment because I’ve seen too many people on Twitter responding to reports from David Cay Johnston’s organization and professional reporters with statements like “It’s good to see the media catching up with Twitter” and “Great work. You should be following Mensch/Taylor/Khan.” It’s ridiculous.

  270. says

    SC @427, Sheesh! The argument from rightwing in the UK is that there is no substance to Cadwalladr’s criticism, that the criticism stems solely from hurt feelings about being defeated. That sounds so much like Trump claiming that the entire investigation of all things Russia-Trump stems solely from the Democrats having hurt feelings over losing the election. The rightwing manages to sound childish, peevish, and ill-informed no matter in what country they reside.

  271. says

    Trump sent a video message to members of the Republican National Committee. Among other things, Trump, in reference to the 2018 midterms, told them: “We can pick up a lot of seats, especially if it all keeps going like it is now.”

    Maybe he was making a veiled reference to his and Kobach’s renewed efforts to restrict the voting rights of likely Democratic Party voters?

    Nah. It’s more likely that he doesn’t believe his own disapproval rating (56%), nor the even worse disapproval ratings of many Congress critters. Trump thinks he is winning even when he is not.

  272. says

    During his press briefing today, Sean Spicer continued to decline to answer yes or no when asked if the White House staff or Trump himself taped conversations with James Comey (or any other visitors).

    […] “Is the White House intending to cooperate with those requests and furnish that information as requested in writing?” Simendinger [RealClearPolitics’ Alexis Simendinger] asked.

    “I think I made it clear last week that the President has nothing further on that,” Spicer said.

    “Does that mean that the President will deny requests?” Simendinger asked.

    “I was very clear that the President would have nothing further on that last week,” Spicer said.

    “You’re describing a situation in which the President would defy the legislative branch’s request,” Simendinger pressed. “That’s what you’re saying.”

    “I understand,” Spicer said. “I’ve made it clear what the President’s position is on that issue.”

    Such weirdness. Do they think that if they stick their heads in the sand the issue will go away?

  273. says

    The ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Justice Department and with the FBI for records related to the firing of Comey.

    “White House interference with any FBI investigation is incompatible with democratic safeguards, and that’s especially the case when the investigation involves the President or his associates,” the director of the group’s National Security Project, Hina Shamsi, said in a statement. “Political meddling with law enforcement investigations is a recipe for abuse of power.”

    She added: “It’s impossible to know the truth right now because the Trump administration has issued shifting explanations, each of which is increasingly troubling.”

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

    Lynna @454:

    Do they think that if they stick their heads in the sand the issue will go away?

    Naah. It’s just like the Russia/election investigation. Trump claims to have talked to people who told him that there is nothing to inveestigate and that it is all made up. Faux News runs with it. The right-wing media tells all of their sycophants that it has been investigated and found to be baseless so any further investigation would be politically based and wasting money. When Spicer says that “I was very clear that the President would have nothing further on that last week,” he is flat out saying that it is already settled and that anyone continuing to question it is doing it because of politics or ‘fake news.’

    This is a tried-and-true RWA tactic. It has been used before and will continue to be used. How many times have we heard something along the lines of, oh, congress investigated that, so it is a dead issue?

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

    Comment eated. Trying again.

    Lynna @454:

    Do they think that if they stick their heads in the sand the issue will go away?

    Naah. It’s just like the Russia/election investigation. Trump claims to have talked to people who told him that there is nothing to inveestigate and that it is all made up. Faux News runs with it. The right-wing media tells all of their sycophants that it has been investigated and found to be baseless so any further investigation would be politically based and wasting money. When Spicer says that “I was very clear that the President would have nothing further on that last week,” he is flat out saying that it is already settled and that anyone continuing to question it is doing it because of politics or ‘fake news.’

    This is a tried-and-true RWA tactic. It has been used before and will continue to be used. How many times have we heard something along the lines of, oh, congress investigated that, so it is a dead issue?

  276. says

    Trump spoke at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service today. In addition to speaking, Trump also tossed a campaign hat into the audience. The hat he tossed is identified on his campaign site as the “Official USA 45th Presidential Hat – White.”
    Right Wing Watch link

    Classy, am I right?

  277. says

    John Oliver commented on Trump firing Comey:

    […] It is just inherently suspicious to try and put words in Comey’s mouth as you kick him out the door. That is the equivalent of a breakup text reading: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I was the most enthusiastic, dexterous, and intuitive lover you ever had, I nevertheless must terminate your position as my girlfriend. Eggplant emoji.” […]

    What are you doing? “I was thinking of the Russia investigation when I fired Comey” is the one thing that you are not supposed to say out loud! It’s the kind of response that makes you ask three questions: 1) Can he really be this stupid?, 2) Does he really think we, as a country, are this stupid?, and 3) Are we, as a country, this stupid? And it’s entirely possible the answer to all three questions are “yes.”

    […] It is too easy to point at Trump being crazy—that’s what he does, it’s not going to stop, and it’s going to be exhausting for everyone. […] It is time for each and every one of them [Republicans in Congress] to pick a lane here. They do have options: Obviously, there are the investigations that are currently ongoing, but they could also press Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel within the Justice Department, but at the very, very least here, they need to acknowledge that what has happened is fucked up and not continue to give non-answers.

    The Founding Fathers created a system of checks and balances to limit the power of the President, but it only works if someone fucking checks or balances, and if you don’t, it’s no longer on Trump. It’s on you.


  278. says

    Instead of “alternative facts,” we now have “fake but accurate””

    […] Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland gave Trump a Time magazine cover from the 1970s about a coming ice age. Trump quickly got “lathered up,” Politico reports, because the cover implied climate scientists have been wrong for decades, so their current warnings about global warning can and should be ignored.

    There was just one problem: The Time cover was an Internet meme that was debunked as a hoax years ago. “Desperate White House staff,” Politico’s Shane Goldmacher reports, “chased down the truth and intervened before Trump tweeted or talked publicly about it.”

    And here’s where things get fun. The unnamed White House official, working overtime to defend McFarland, tried hard to defend it as little more than an honest mistake that was “fake but accurate.”

    “While the specific cover is fake, it is true there was a period in the 70s when people were predicting an ice age,” the official insisted. “The broader point I think was accurate.”

    If McFarland’s broader argument is that the scientific community has somehow been wrong about climate change, that would be literally the opposite of the truth. 2016 was the hottest year on record, breaking the record set in 2015, which had in turn broken the record set in 2014. […]

    Trump, the Politico piece makes clear, is willing to accept as fact almost anything that’s put in front of him, facts be damned. White House staffers, Goldmacher writes, try to take advantage of that by slipping him news clippings to bolster their own arguments while undercutting those of their internal opponents […]

    A news story tucked into Trump’s hands at the right moment can torpedo an appointment or redirect the president’s entire agenda. Current and former Trump officials say Trump can react volcanically to negative press clips, especially those with damaging leaks, becoming engrossed in finding out where they originated.

    That’s a bad enough habit when dealing with relatively unimportant matters, like whether an individual staffer was the source of a specific leak. But it can get downright dangerous during a national security crisis like a major terror attack, where the intelligence community and the Pentagon might give Trump conflicting assessments of who was responsible and how to retaliate. […]

    Vox link

  279. says

    How was Trump’s one-page tax “plan” born?

    […] when four economists who advised Trump during the campaign — Steve Forbes, Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore — wrote in a New York Times op-ed that “now is the time to move it forward with urgency,” someone in the White House flagged the piece for the president. [Fact checking note: Neither Steve Forbes nor Larry Kudlow are trained economists, and Stephen Moore only has as master’s.]

    Trump summoned staff to talk about it. His message: Make this the tax plan, according to one White House official present.

    The op-ed came out on a Wednesday. By Friday, Trump was telling the Associated Press, “I shouldn’t tell you this, but we’re going to be announcing, probably on Wednesday, tax reform,” startling his own aides who had not yet prepared such a plan. Sure enough, the next Wednesday Trump’s economic team was rolling out a tax plan that echoed the op-ed. […]

    The quoted text is from Politico.

    From Jordan Weissman, writing for Slate:

    […] the president read an op-ed, got excited, and ordered his advisers to crank out something before anybody was remotely ready to do so. […]

    A policy team can’t really function if it has to upend its plans because the president read a newspaper article he liked. Beyond that, crafting a monumental piece of legislation like tax reform is complicated, and rolling out a laughably undercooked one-pager and pretending it’s an actual policy statement can only convince Congress it doesn’t need to take your input seriously. Not shockingly, after the Trump team released its plan, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a bland joint statement that amounted to patting the president on the head and saying, “We’ll take it from here.”

    To sum up: Maybe the White House would function more smoothly if the president couldn’t read? Make of that what you will.

  280. says

    “Trump sharing highly classified information with Russia shows his extreme hubris”:

    Hubris and rank amateurism are killing President Trump when it comes to his Russia problem. And that’s the most charitable explanation.

    First, Trump made the very questionable decision to meet with top Russian officials a day after making the very questionable decision to fire the man leading the FBI’s Russia investigation, James B. Comey. And now The Washington Post is reporting that, in that very same meeting, Trump shared highly classified information about the Islamic State with the Russians.

    This is information that current and former U.S. officials say could jeopardize a valuable source of intelligence in the fight against ISIS and give an adversarial Russia a strategic advantage in Syria, where its goals are different from ours. If there is something worse Trump could have done in that meeting, I’m not sure what it would be.

    The details of what exactly Trump discussed with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Wednesday are sketchy, and The Washington Post is withholding some of them for national security reasons. But according to the officials, Trump relayed information from an intelligence-sharing arrangement that is so sensitive that some details aren’t even shared with U.S. allies or broadly within the U.S. government. Trump cited the specifics of an ISIS plot and, most problematically, named the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S.’ partner detected the threat….

    MSNBC says they haven’t confirmed.

  281. says

    From the report:

    President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

    The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

    The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

    “This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”…

  282. says

    The White House readout of the meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak made no mention of the discussion of a terrorist threat.

    In fact, it made no mention of Kislak.

  283. says

    SC @ 446 – Thank you for correcting my understanding of the timeline. I wasn’t aware of any reporting prior to him raising alarm bells. I hadn’t paid attention to the time stamps on your two links. That does indeed change my perspective.

    FTR, I am not in the LM\kahn et al camp in any way whatsoever. I’m more of a fan / follower of Abramson, Khendzior and others with legit journalism and legal creds.

  284. says

    All McMaster did is repeat the written statements. Again, they’re not responding to the content of the article. McMaster also seemed angry and perhaps at the end of his tether.

  285. says

    FTR, I am not in the LM\kahn et al camp in any way whatsoever. I’m more of a fan / follower of Abramson, Khendzior and others with legit journalism and legal creds.

    Oh, I know. I didn’t mean to imply that you were. Amazingly (or perhaps not), Mensch has been going after Kendzior, who’s a scholar with a great deal of relevant area knowledge. It’s another aspect that’s roused my anger. Kendzior has been classy and discouraged people from piling on Mensch in her defense, but it’s aggravating. People spend years learning how to be scholars and doing research, developing their craft as journalists, and practicing as lawyers, and these people come along and trash their (our) knowledge and expertise. I love the crowdsourcing of information and insights, but people like Mensch simulate democratic/anarchic journalism in a really harmful way.

  286. says

    CNN is now reporting that the State Department was unaware that the WH had organized the statement from Tillerson. I suspect they tried to get McMaster to say more (lie) and he refused. I don’t think he knows what to do.

    (Are CNN and MSNBC like down the hall from each other? Dershowitz just went from one to the other in about 30 minutes.)

  287. says

    It’s tangential, but…isn’t it the case (it might not actually be – I could be misremembering) that they’ve led people to believe the always-questionable suggestion that the intelligence about the laptops came from the disastrous Yemen raid?

  288. says

    @473 – I agree wholeheartedly SC. Kendzior is brilliant and people on the left’s sucking up to LM is maddening.

    As an aside, this clip from Kendzior makes me want to stand up and cheer!

  289. says


    …Questions of criminality aside, we turn to the far more significant issues: If the President gave this information away through carelessness or neglect, he has arguably breached his oath of office. As Quinta and Ben have elaborated on in some detail, in taking the oath President Trump swore to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” to the best of his ability. It’s very hard to argue that carelessly giving away highly sensitive material to an adversary foreign power constitutes a faithful execution of the office of President.

    Violating the oath of office does not require violating a criminal statute. If the President decided to write the nuclear codes on a sticky note on his desk and then took a photo of it and tweeted it, he would not technically have violated any criminal law–just as he hasn’t here. He has the constitutional authority to dictate that the safeguarding of nuclear materials shall be done through sticky notes in plain sight and tweeted, even the authority to declassify the codes outright. Yet, we would all understand this degree of negligence to be a gross violation of his oath of office.

    Congress has alleged oath violations—albeit violations tied to criminal allegations or breaches of statutory obligations—all three times it has passed or considered seriously articles of impeachment against presidents: against Andrew Johnson (“unmindful of the high duties of his oath of office”), Richard Nixon (“contrary to his oath”), and Bill Clinton (“in violation of his constitutional oath”). Further, two of the three articles of impeachment against Nixon alleged no direct violation of the law. Instead, they concerned Nixon’s abuse of his power as President, which, like the President putting the nuclear codes on Twitter, is an offense that can only be committed by the President and has thus never been explicitly prohibited in criminal law.

    There’s thus no reason why Congress couldn’t consider a grotesque violation of the President’s oath as a standalone basis for impeachment—a high crime and misdemeanor in and of itself. This is particularly plausible in a case like this, where the oath violation involves giving sensitive information to an adversary foreign power. That’s getting relatively close to the “treason” language in the impeachment clauses; it’s pretty easy to imagine a hybrid impeachment article alleging a violation of the oath in service of a hostile foreign power. So legally speaking, the matter could be very grave for Trump even though there is no criminal exposure….

  290. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comments 472 and 474.

    Josh Marshall commented on the statement made by General McMaster:

    Here’s my take on General McMaster’s statement, delivered in person a few moments ago outside the White House.

    First, here’s the text.

    A brief statement for the record. There is nothing that the president takes more seriously than the security of the American people. The story that came out tonight as reported is false. The president of the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time, at no time, where intelligent sources or methods discussed. The president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. Two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of the state, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Going on the record should outweigh the anonymous sources. I was in the room. It didn’t happen. Thanks, everybody.

    This is a pretty declarative and all-encompassing statement. But that’s true only on the surface.

    McMaster’s specific denials remain what I noted about his statement given originally to the Post. They deny things the Post story does not allege. As I read it, the Post says Trump revealed classified information from which sources and methods information can be inferred, not that he discussed them directly. It’s quite possible Trump may not even know that level of detail.

    That part is a classic non-denial denial.

    But McMaster adds at the top: “The story that came out tonight as reported is false.”

    The “as reported” is a hedge. But more fundamentally saying “the story” is false can mean anything. He doubles down later. “I was in the room. It didn’t happen.” But again, what didn’t happen? The only reason I can think of to be totalizing in general and lawyerly and non-denailing in the specifics is that you’re trying to deny something that actually did happen.

    Even though I think these statements are far more general than they may seem, it’s just as true that McMaster is putting his credibility on the line for Trump.

    If the circumstances were different, this might give me some pause about the story. But the Post and the Times just have infinitely more credibility than the Trump White House at this point. What’s more, there are details about giving ‘heads up’ calls to the NSA and CIA. Assuming those calls were made, that certainly strongly suggests something serious went wrong.

    As I noted earlier after Deputy National Security Advisor Powell made her statement, if McMaster felt he was able to deny the story, he would have done so in his original statement to the Post. But he didn’t. He has sort of done so now, but with his specific declarations still denying things which were never alleged.

    The most reasonable take on this is that McMaster’s statement can’t really deny the details of the story. But the story is of sufficient gravity that he has felt the need to deceive the public, putting his own credibility on the line and destroying it in one moment.

    If the story falls apart, perhaps he’ll be vindicated. But it looks like he just sacrificed his credibility on the altar of Trump.

  291. says

    From Yochi Dreazen, writing for Vox:

    […] The White House went into crisis mode after the story broke Monday night, trotting out surrogates to argue that Trump’s move was no big deal because Russia is an ally in the ISIS fight (it isn’t), because Hillary Clinton did something worse (she didn’t), and because Trump was legally free to share whatever he wants with whomever he wants (true, but utterly irrelevant). Breitbart, unsurprisingly, blamed it all on a supposed a “deep state” of US national security officials committed to harming the Trump presidency. [WTF, Breitbart?]

    The spin is meant to distract attention from the enormity of the new scandal — and from the likely repercussions of Trump’s actions. The White House has good reason for desperately hoping it can change the topic: the president’s gaffe will make US allies less likely to share vital intelligence and add new fuel to the administration’s ongoing war with the American intelligence community just when US spies can least afford the distraction.

    That’s because Trump’s disclosures represent a direct threat to US counterterrorism efforts, which rely less on the skills of individual operatives and more on the web of intelligence-sharing agreements that Washington has with allies around the globe.

    The best known is the decades-old Five Eyes agreement between the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia that calls for the nations to share information and not carry out espionage missions against each other.

    But the US also maintains formal and informal intelligence-sharing arrangements with countries closer to the main battlefields of the war against ISIS and al-Qaeda. Those include deals with Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and other Middle Eastern nations that have worked hard to develop granular knowledge of the terror groups that threaten them at least as much as they threaten the West.

    Those are also precisely the kinds of agreements that could fall apart because of Trump’s cavalier decision to give Russia information Washington had received from one of its allies in the terror fight. […]

    “I get great intel,” Trump boasted to Lavrov, according to a source who recounted that conversation to the Post. “I have people brief me on great intel every day.”

    The problem is that those people thought they were briefing Donald Trump. They didn’t realize they were also briefing Vladimir Putin. […]

  292. blf says

    Spotted via Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science, Trump thinks that exercising too much uses up the body’s finite energy (Washington Post edits in {curly braces}):

    President [sic] Trump reportedly eschews exercise because he believes it drains the body’s finite energy resources […].

    Trump’s views on exercise were mentioned in a New Yorker article this month and in “Trump Revealed,” The Washington Post’s 2016 biography of the president [sic], which noted that Trump mostly gave up athletics after college because he “believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted.”


    Rather than thinking of energy stores as a battery, “a better analogy would be like the fire that you continue to fuel with more coal or wood,” [Michael Jonesco, a sports medicine and orthopedics specialist at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center,] said. “You need to continue to add fuel, or your flame will die. This is true whether you exercise or not. {…} Simply by existing, we are burning energy.”


    Jonesco noted that if you ever become stranded on a desert island with limited food sources, it would be a good idea to skip working out, because you wouldn’t be able to replenish your body’s fuels.

    But “any other time, your body will thank you” for exercising, he said.

    Some readers’s comments at Bad Science and the Washington Post:

    ● “Perhaps he could give up eating then, just to prove the point.”

    ● “More insightful life coaching wisdom from the fathead in the White House, the gu