1. says

    “US border patrol routinely sabotages water left for migrants, report says”:

    United States border patrol agents routinely vandalise containers of water and other supplies left in the Arizona desert for migrants, condemning people to die of thirst in baking temperatures, according to two humanitarian groups.

    In a report published on Wednesday, the Tucson-based groups said the agents committed the alleged sabotage with impunity in an attempt to deter and punish people who illegally cross from Mexico.

    Volunteers found water gallons vandalised 415 times, on average twice a week, in an 800 sq mile patch of Sonoran desert south-west of Tucson, from March 2012 to December 2015, the report said. The damage affected 3,586 gallons.

    The report also accused border patrol agents of vandalising food and blankets and harassing volunteers in the field.

    “Through statistical analysis, video evidence, and personal experience, our team has uncovered a disturbing reality. In the majority of cases, US border patrol agents are responsible for the widespread interference with essential humanitarian efforts.”

    “The practice of destruction of and interference with aid is not the deviant behavior of a few rogue border patrol agents, it is a systemic feature of enforcement practices in the borderlands.”

    Barack Obama occupied the White House during the water vandalism detailed in the report. Pima county’s medical examiner received the remains of at least 593 border crossers during this period.

    Trump’s plan to further fortify the border and deport more people – people who often will try to return – will mean more suffering and death, said Deighan. “We do expect this crisis to worsen under the current administration.”…

  2. says

    “Nearly all members of National Park Service advisory panel resign in frustration”:

    More than three-quarters of the members of a federally chartered board advising the National Park Service have quit out of frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or convene a single meeting last year.

    The resignation of 10 out of 12 National Park System Advisory Board members leaves the federal government without a functioning body to designate national historic or natural landmarks. It also underscores the extent to which federal advisory bodies have become marginalized under the Trump administration. In May 2017, Zinke suspended all outside committees while his staff reviewed their composition and work.

    The National Park System Advisory Board, which was established in 1935, has typically included social and natural science academics as well as former elected officials from both parties. In recent years, it has advised Interior on how to address climate change, among other issues, and how to encourage younger visitors to frequent the parks.

    The board is required to meet twice a year but has not convened since Trump took office last January, Knowles said Tuesday. Members, most of whom have worked together for seven years, were surprised to not be consulted on Interior’s recent decisions to increase visitor fees and reverse a ban on plastic water bottles in the park system. The decision to reverse climate change directives and other policies drove the decision to resign, he said.

    “We were frozen out,” said Knowles, who emphasized that the group recognized Zinke would select new members this year but wanted “the momentum to continue” from what the board accomplished in 2016 during the park system’s centennial year….

  3. birgerjohansson says

    I just read that a 24-year-old campaign worker has been put in charge of America’s response to the opioid crisis.
    Because the experienced professionals don’t want to go near this administration.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    At the other end of the age scale, a 93-year-old very white, very male person has been elected new president of the LDS (mormon) church.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    The governor of (I think) Kentucky has claimed health insurance is bad for the health.
    I am looking forward to this governor joining some “snake handling” congregation, and turning down a dose of antivenom.

  6. says

    Meh. Still fucked up. The annoyance and thus cause for exclusion was wholly based on the woman’s animal advocacy.

    Seriously, fuck this town:

    …Ms Holten, a vegan and animal rights activist, has campaigned against the use of cowbells in the village and her actions have annoyed the locals.

    The resident’s committee argued that if she does not accept Swiss traditions and the Swiss way of life, she should not be able to become an official national.

    “The animals carry around five kilograms around their neck. It causes friction and burns to their skin.”

    She added: “The sound that cow bells make is a hundred decibel. It is comparable with a pneumatic drill. We also would not want such a thing hanging close to our ears?”

    Tanja Suter, the president of the local Swiss People’s Party, claimed Ms Holten has a “big mouth” and that residents did not want to grant her citizenship “if she annoys us and doesn’t respect our traditions”….

    Has a Deep South ring (no pun intended) to it. I hope their decision is overturned by the Cantonal government.

  7. says

    birgerjohansson@9 it’s a given that the head of the LDS Church will continue to be a very white man for long after most of us here have died. The longest serving member of the Quorum of 12 Apostles is always named the new president. Even if they opened the priesthood to women tomorrow it would be decades before any woman could serve as member of the Quorum long enough to take the president role.

  8. says

    It’s now up, and pathetic.

    Norm Eisen: “I consider it a minor victory for my, @waltshaub , @RWPUSA & @clarkkathleen warnings that at least Government money wasn’t squandered on this insult 2the First Amendment. @PressSec didn’t even dare fully admit it existed from the podium yesterday. What a disgrace 4president &GOP!”

  9. says

    Sorry –

    It’s now up, and pathetic.

    Norm Eisen: “I consider it a minor victory for my, @waltshaub , @RWPUSA & @clarkkathleen warnings that at least Government money wasn’t squandered on this insult 2the First Amendment. @PressSec didn’t even dare fully admit it existed from the podium yesterday. What a disgrace 4president &GOP!”

  10. says

    “Morale disintegrates at State Department as diplomats wonder who will quit next to escape Trump”:

    The unexpected departure of a top ranked diplomat is shaking up an already unsteady diplomatic corps and raising questions about who will be next to leave.

    News of John Feeley’s resignation’s Friday sent shock waves through the State Department where the ambassador of Panama was seen as a rising star and a potential future assistant secretary — and more than a dozen State staffers said it caused them to question their own commitment to an administration they feel is undercutting the department’s work and U.S. influence in the world.

    The resignation comes as the State Department undergoes a massive personnel shift. State has been shedding diplomats rapidly; 60 percent of the State Departments’ top-ranking career diplomats have left and new applications to join the foreign service have fallen by half, according to recent data from the American Foreign Service Association, the professional organization of the U.S. diplomatic corps.

    Colleagues said the feelings Feeley expressed in his resignation letter about not being able to work under President Donald Trump reflect sinking morale within a diplomatic corps that has lost confidence in the administration’s approach toward diplomacy….

    “World’s Approval of U.S. Leadership Drops to New Low”:

    One year into Donald Trump’s presidency, the image of U.S. leadership is weaker worldwide than it was under his two predecessors. Median approval of U.S. leadership across 134 countries and areas stands at a new low of 30%, according to a new Gallup report.

    The most recent approval rating, based on Gallup World Poll surveys conducted between March and November last year, is down 18 percentage points from the 48% approval rating in the last year of President Barack Obama’s administration, and is four points lower than the previous low of 34% in the last year of President George W. Bush’s administration.

    The relatively fragile image of U.S. leadership in 2017 reflects large and widespread losses in approval and relatively few gains. Out of 134 countries, U.S. leadership approval ratings declined substantially — by 10 percentage points or more — in 65 countries that include many longtime U.S. allies and partners….

  11. says

    “FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump”:

    The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

    FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

    It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up.

    The extent to which the FBI has evidence of money flowing from Torshin to the NRA, or of the NRA’s participation in the transfer of funds, could not be learned.

    However, the NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, including $30 million to support Trump – triple what the group devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that was money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors.

    Torshin, a leading figure in Putin’s party, has been implicated in money laundering by judicial authorities in Spain, as Bloomberg News first revealed in 2016. Spanish investigators alleged in an almost 500-page internal report that Torshin, who was then a senator, capitalized on his government role to assist mobsters laundering funds through Spanish properties and banks, Bloomberg reported

    A summary obtained by McClatchy of the still-secret report links Torshin to Russian money laundering and describes him as a godfather in a major Russian criminal organization called Taganskaya.

    Torshin was a senior member of the Russian Senate and in recent years helped set up a Moscow gun rights group called Right to Bear Arms. He not only spoke with Trump Jr. at the NRA convention, but he also tried unsuccessfully to broker a meeting between Putin and the presidential candidate in 2016, according to the Times. He further sought to meet privately with the candidate himself near the 2016 NRA convention.

    Torshin’s ties with the NRA have flourished in recent years….

  12. says

    Kelly claimed yesterday that the WH didn’t ask Bannon to refuse to answer House Intel questions on the basis of Executive Privilege, but Manu Raju on CNN just read a portion of a letter to the committee from Bannon’s lawyer saying they did just that (including covering the transition, which is ridiculous). They’re now giving Bannon until the end of the month to return. Raju also reported that the committee voted unanimously to release the transcript of Glenn Simpson’s testimony, so that should be coming soon.

  13. says

    From Steve Benen, an analysis that highlights the deeply cynical and dishonest approach that Republicans are taking:

    […] Let’s review some of the basic truths that Republicans are hoping you don’t know. Last summer, Democrats urged the GOP majority to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Republicans ignored the request, choosing instead to focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

    In the fall, Democrats tried again, reminding the Republican-led Congress that funding for CHIP expired at the end of September. GOP leaders again blew off the appeals, focusing instead on giving the wealthy massive tax breaks.

    In the ensuing months, Democrats pushed CHIP, again and again, but to no avail. Republicans said they’d get around to the issue eventually, but it simply wasn’t a top priority for the party. GOP leaders could’ve brought the Children’s Health Insurance Program up for a vote at any time, and it would’ve passed easily, but they didn’t.

    This week, all of a sudden, Republicans have re-discovered the issue – not because they suddenly care, but because they’re hoping to pit CHIP beneficiaries against Dreamers, playing one progressive priority against the other.

    Now, the House Speaker who could’ve made CHIP a priority before, suddenly believes it’s “unconscionable” for Democrats to oppose a deeply partisan stopgap spending bill.

    If there’s a defense for cynicism this brazen […]

  14. says

    Follow-up to comment 28.

    Trump may have blown up the Republican’s cynical plan to blame the non-renewal of CHIP on Democrats. He did it with a tweet:

    CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!

    Remember when, during the campaign, Trump told us repeatedly that our heads “would be spinning”? Maybe this is what he meant. Republicans who are trying to find a budget compromise that will pass both the house and the Senate are certainly discombobulated.

    […] The far-right Freedom Caucus says they have more than enough “no” votes to block the passage of a short-term deal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) openly admitted Wednesday that he has no idea what President Trump wants or would sign when it comes to immigration. Each day, more Senate Republicans declare their intent to vote against the continuing resolution.

    “It’s a mess,” Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) told reporters, exiting a closed-door lunch with the GOP caucus on Wednesday.

    Amid this chaos, Republicans thought that attaching a six-year reauthorization of CHIP to the short term continuing resolution was a win-win. Democrats who had railed for months that the GOP-controlled Congress had failed to fund the program would have a tough time voting against it despite their opposition to other aspects of the package. And if it went down in flames, Republicans could cast the blame on Congress’ minority party.

    House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) outlined this strategy in a press conference Wednesday night, pointing the finger at Democrats.

    “Stop the obstruction. Stop the games. There’s no good reason to punish children,” she lamented. “Not only are they voting to shut down the government, they’re voting to deny children access to critical health care when they need it.”

    Her colleague Rep. Ralph Abram (R-LA) went further, saying Democrats “would rather support illegal aliens as opposed to our America children, who need that money.”

    Even without the President swooping in to undermine this line of attack, there are a few problems with it. Republicans control both chambers of Congress, and could have passed a CHIP reauthorization at any time last year. Only after the program expired in September, putting millions of families who depend on it in limbo, did the House pass a CHIP bill that angered Democrats by making deep cuts to Obamacare’s Public Health and Prevention Fund. The GOP-controlled Senate never held a vote on CHIP at all.

    Then, once new data showed that CHIP did not require any offsets at all and in fact saved the government money—Republicans still did not attempt to pass the program on its own. Instead, they chose to attach it to the spending bill—paired with other policies delaying some of Obamacare’s taxes—in order to make it difficult for Democrats to vote against a package that fails to meet many of their other priorities.

    And now, President Trump has upended House Republicans’ gambit by bashing the inclusion of CHIP at all.


    And, from the previous chapter of this thread, here is some background on the shutdown/budget fight:

    Summary from Alice Ollstein

    On DACA, comment 360.

    From SC: Comment 365

    On an entirely different subject, it seems that Keith Schiller (Trump’s former bodyguard) may have acted as Trump’s tryst-meister, arranging Trump’s sexual encounters with porn stars. That puts an entirely different spin on the Russian hooker story. Link to comment 343.

  15. says

    Josh Marshall on the McClatchy report @ #24 – “This One Is Big”: “Like other reporters, I’ve been aware for almost a year of claims that Russia funneled tens of millions of dollars into the NRA’s 2016 efforts. Clarity: claims are not facts. I have seen no hard evidence of this. Today’s McClatchy story is the first to report that Mueller’s probe is investigating whether the NRA was used as a conduit for money to support Trump’s election effort.”

  16. says

    “Democrats, It’s Now Or Never For Dreamers”:

    …The senators who are resisting pressure to tie protection for Dreamers to government funding are laboring under the misperception that Republicans in Congress sincerely want to give Dreamers legal status in the United States, and that they will cut a deal when they are not under duress.

    It’s been months since President Trump voluntarily terminated President Obama’s 2012 deferred action program for childhood arrivals. Every day, more and more DACA recipients are becoming subject to deportation; the protracted nature of this legislative fight has imposed real costs on their communities. Even if you wish away these ancillary harms, the view that Democrats shouldn’t maximize their leverage now is wrong because the alternative isn’t actually available. The choice isn’t between a shutdown fight now and a Dream Act fight later; it’s between the Dream Act now or not at all.

    When Republican leaders say they want a solution for Dreamers, they do so with as much credibility as when they say they’re motivated to cut corporate taxes and welfare on account of their deep commitment to alleviating poverty.

    It is possible to force Republicans to vote for things they otherwise oppose, but doing that requires leverage, and leverage stems from situations where Democrats can confront Republicans with a choice between bills they oppose and other outcomes they despise….

    But even if I’m wrong about the politics, Dreamers deserve to know whether the country, and by extension the Congress, will forsake them under duress. If the government shuts down and the politics shake out in a way that vindicates the Republican view that the government should start deporting Dreamers, then at least the fight will have been joined. By contrast, if Democrats and Republicans team up to avoid that reckoning, it is nearly certain that Republicans will quietly return to their longstanding but unstated opposition to protecting Dreamers, the Trump administration will begin deporting them, and Democrats will have no good answers for those caught up in the sweeps.

  17. says

    “Hungarian Police Have A Warrant Out For Former Trump Advisor Sebastian Gorka”:

    Former Trump White House staffer Sebastian Gorka has an active warrant out for his arrest in his native Hungary, according to the Hungarian police’s website.

    Gorka, whose exact role in the White House while serving as a deputy assistant to the president was never entirely clear, apparently is in trouble with the law over a charge of “firearm or ammunition abuse.” The warrant, first reported in Hungarian online outlet 444, was issued on Sept. 17, 2016, prior to Trump’s election.

    That means that during the entire seven months Gorka spent in the White House, including when meeting with Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó in Washington last March, an arrest warrant was pending overseas….

  18. says

    Follow-up to comments 28, 29 and 31.

    From Jimmy Kimmel:

    As you know, tying CHIP to spending bill is not a clean CHIP vote. It’s a transparent bid to lure Dems away from DACA. The majority, including Republicans, support a path to citizenship and full CHIP funding. Using kids’ lives as bargaining chips is disgusting. So stop it.

  19. says

    […] There is an unprecedented surge of first-time female candidates, overwhelmingly Democratic, running for offices big and small, from the U.S. Senate and state legislatures to local school boards. At least 79 women are exploring runs for governor in 2018, potentially doubling a record for female candidates set in 1994, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. The number of Democratic women likely challenging incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives is up nearly 350% from 41 women in 2016. […]

  20. says

    About those “Fake News” awards that Trump touted:

    […] Those who clicked on the link were taken to a page at the Republican National Committee’s website, which, for a while, did not actually work. In time, however, the “winners” made the rounds, and we saw that Trump World had put together little more than a list of instances in which reporters made a mistake.

    What the “awards” failed to note, of course, was that the news organizations Trump was eager to condemn had corrected those missteps. In other words, after a year of whining about “fake news,” Trump managed to find some media professionals who made mistakes that were retracted and/or corrected.

    Attempts at presidential fanfare notwithstanding, this turned out to be the one thing Trump never wants to be: boring.

    There were no “categories.” There was no evidence of “corruption.” The idea behind the project was obviously misguided, but if you’re a president who’s intent on attacking your country’s free press, you might as well invest some effort into putting on a show.

    […] The president had the hype, but couldn’t deliver.

    The Washington Post took a closer look at each of the examples from Trump’s list of “awards” and found “at least eight of the ‘Fake News’ winners resulted in corrections, with two reports prompting suspensions or resignations. Two of the winners were simply tweets that were quickly corrected and never resulted in news articles. One was an opinion article in which the author later retracted his prediction.”

    If this is the best Trump and his team could do, why bother?


  21. blf says

    New office will help medical providers deny treatment on religious grounds

    ● Health agency creates conscience and religious freedom division
    ● Trump administration move may affect abortion and LGBT rights

    The new division for conscience and religious freedom in the US Health and Human Services Agency will defend healthcare workers who, on religious grounds, refuse to treat patients or take part in procedures. The division will be part of the agency’s Office for Civil Rights.

    Laws protecting religious freedom and conscience rights are just empty words on paper if they aren’t enforced, said Roger Severino, the director of the health department’s civil rights division, and an outspoken opponent of abortion, same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination protections for transgender people.


    No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice, Severino said. For too long, governments big and small have treated conscience claims with hostility instead of protection, but change is coming and it begins here and now.


    “Religious liberty doesn’t include a right to be exempt from laws protecting our health or barring discrimination,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union. “It doesn’t mean a right to refuse to transport a patient in need because she had an abortion. It doesn’t mean refusing care to a patient because she is transgender.

    “Medical standards, not religious belief, should guide medical care,” said Melling.


  22. says

    Here’s Trump in 2015, suggesting to Maria Butina (Russian crime boss Alexander Torshin’s special assistant) that he would lift sanctions on Russia.

    ‘I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin… I don’t think you’d need the sanctions’.”

    I still can’t get over the fact that Torshin was due to meet with Trump at the prayer breakfast last February. Dude can’t set foot in Spain because he’d immediately be arrested.

  23. says

    Not good news. No good can come from this:

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Thursday it will create a new division under the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) responsible for investigating complaints filed by workers claiming that their employers have violated their religious rights. […]

    “No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice,” OCR Director Roger Severino said at the announcement ceremony Thursday morning.

    “We are saying, with the launch of this division, you do not need to shed your religious identity, you do not need to shed your moral convictions to be a part of the public square.”

    The Hill link

    “Moral or religious.” Yikes.

    From Charlotte Clymer:

    Happening right now: HHS in press conference comparing victims of the Holocaust and journey of Dr. King to the “oppression” of healthcare workers who are forced to treat transgender patients, against their religious freedom. No, really.

    From Senator Patty Murray:

    I am deeply troubled by reports of the unconscionable approach being considered by President Trump’s Administration to use the civil rights office at the Department of Health and Human Services as a tool to restrict access to health care for people who are transgender and women.

    From Kerry Eleveld:

    The new division was unveiled one day before anti-abortion activists will descend on Washington for the March for Life. Paragon of morality Donald Trump is expected to address marchers via satellite and tout the new bone his administration is throwing to them.

  24. blf says

    The boss, the boyfriend and the FBI: the Italian woman in the eye of the Trump-Russia inquiry:

    Simona Mangiante, the girlfriend of ex-Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, also worked for a mysterious Russia-linked Maltese professor [Joseph Mifsud]. No wonder Robert Mueller’s investigation came knocking
    In an interview with the Guardian in Rome, Mangiante declined to get into specifics about what exactly the FBI asked in the two-and-a-half-hour interrogation, or any of the details of Papadopoulos’s ongoing discussions with federal agents.

    But she did shed new light on the mystery man who has emerged as a central figure in the Trump investigation: Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor who is not mentioned by name in the Papadopoulos indictment — but who prosecutors have alleged was a key middleman between the foreign policy aide and top Russian officials.


    Prosecutors have alleged that a man — now known to be Mifsud — told Papadopoulos that the Kremlin had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s rival, and was secretly sitting on “thousands of emails” covertly hacked from the Democratic party.

    Two weeks after learning about the hack, in May 2016, Papadopoulos attended a meeting with Trump and other senior aides in Washington. Did he tell anyone from the campaign about Mifsud’s message? And if so, what did they do about it?

    Amid these questions, Mangiante’s own relationship with Mifsud has gotten lost in the shuffle. A native of Caserta, near Naples, she insists that she never played a part in Mifsud’s murky world. But she acknowledged to the Guardian that she may have inadvertently been sucked into a Russian intelligence plot.


    Ms Mangiante goes to London to work with Mifsud in a “weird” (her word) office, the London Centre of International Law Practice: “The entire institution seemed ‘fake’, ‘artificial’, with Mifsud interested solely in organising political meetings. ‘I didn’t smell a culture of academia,’ she said.” She also claims she was never paid, despite being promised a salary. On Mifsud himself, she is quoted as saying “He is sneaky, someone you can’t read. He was vague about everything. He wouldn’t answer questions directly. I could never understand what was behind it.”

  25. says

    Trump looks like a villain in the latest Human Rights Watch report:

    Human Rights Watch has released its annual book on the state of rights in countries around the world — a compendium of abuses and failures of states far and wide to protect the rights of their citizens as well as marginalized, vulnerable communities.

    […] “across a range of issues in 2017, the US moved backward on human rights at home and abroad.”

    In a chapter assessing the rise of populism, HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth wrote that Trump displays “a disturbing fondness for rights-trampling strongmen” and calls out the president’s regressive policies in a couple of paragraphs:

    Trump won the presidency with a campaign of hatred against Mexican immigrants, Muslim refugees, and other racial and ethnic minorities, and an evident disdain for women… Trump was still able to take regressive steps by executive action — deporting many people without regard to their deep ties to the United States, reviving a cruel and discredited policy of mass incarceration of criminal offenders, easing oversight against police abuse, and restricting global funding for women’s reproductive health.

    In an interview with the Associated Press, Roth said Trump “has broken all the taboos against racism, against misogyny, against xenophobia,” with the knock-on effect of making it “much more difficult to stigmatize authoritarian leaders.” […]


  26. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    SC @42:

    Well, which is it? Either there is nothing going on, no collusion, no Russian interference in the US election, in which case the investigation should be welcomed, or there was collusion, there was ongoing interference in the election, in which case testimony and evidence must be suppressed. One or the other. Can’t be both.

  27. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    SC @46:

    I seem to remember Trump, during the campaign, stating that his administration would be the most transparent administration ever. Does anyone else remember that?

  28. says

    “CFPB Signals Shift by Dropping Payday Lender Lawsuit”:

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is dropping a lawsuit against a group of payday lenders associated with an American Indian tribe in a sign the regulator is changing direction under Mick Mulvaney, the acting director appointed by the Trump administration.

    The agency had accused the lenders of deceiving consumers and failing to disclose the true cost of the loans, which carried interest rates as high as 950 percent a year. The agency asked for the case in federal court in Kansas to be dismissed in a court filing on Thursday, giving no details about its reasoning.

    Regulating the market for payday loans was a priority for former CFPB Director Richard Cordray, an Obama administration appointee who frequently clashed with Republican lawmakers and financial firms. The agency is now in the hands of Mulvaney and Cordray is running for governor of Ohio. The CFPB announced plans Jan. 16 to reconsider rules for the payday-loan industry that were approved in October in the face of a massive industry lobbying campaign….

  29. says

    Keeping track of Ty Cobb’s predictions, (Cobb is Trump’s attorney):

    Initially, Cobb told Trump the whole unpleasantness “would conclude by Thanksgiving.”

    The president was then led to believe the investigation would end “by the end of the year.”

    The Wall Street Journal soon after reported, “Attorneys for the president … have said the date could stretch to the end of January.”

    Now, according to Cobb, the new end-date is six weeks from now.

    So, the probe was going to wrap up by Thanksgiving, then Dec. 31, then Jan. 31, and now March 31. (Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, are apparently more realistic: they’re concerned about Mueller’s investigation extending into the midterm election cycle.) […]


  30. says

    From Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy:

    The modern-day Republican party seems to have taken a page out of the 20th century fascist regime propaganda playbook. The primary purpose of today’s theater regarding “fake news” awards is to bully and intimidate members of an independent press who seek to report the facts.

    History has not been kind to nations that do not value the importance of a free press in regards to upholding the true principles of democracy and the freedom of its people.

    At a time when the relevance of a free press is being challenged by some, I want to thank those who have dedicated their careers to the profession of journalism. Journalists, in large part, receive little recognition for the contributions they bring to our communities.

    But it is because of them that our democracy continues to thrive, and the voice of the people continues to be heard. The work of journalists is a public service that is fundamental to our free and democratic society.

  31. says

    From former Maricopa County Sherrif Joe Arpaio, (wannabe Arizona Senator), commenting on the recent speech by Senator Jeff Flake in which Flake criticized Trump on the Senate floor:

    I don’t know if Sen. Flake should make some comments against our commander in chief. I’m not saying — it could be considered by some a borderline treason-type situation. I’m not accusing him of that. […]

    It’s almost like on the borderline — I’m not accusing him of treason. But you know, you have to be careful how you go after our commander in chief because the whole world is watching.


    Sounds like Arpaio has been taking lessons from Trump. Say “treason,” repeat “treason,” and then claim you are not accusing Flake of treason. Doofus.

  32. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    “Now, according to Cobb, the new end-date is six weeks from now.”
    Did he see his shadow?

  33. says

    From former Maricopa County Sherrif Joe Arpaio, (wannabe Arizona Senator), commenting on the recent speech by Senator Jeff Flake in which Flake criticized Trump on the Senate floor:…

    If that were treason, he and Trump would have been executed under Obama.

  34. blf says

    Sebastian Gorka was White House aide while a fugitive from Hungarian justice:

    The White House employed a Hungarian fugitive for seven months, according to an arrest warrant that appears to show that Sebastian Gorka, a former adviser to Donald Trump, was wanted there on weapons charges as of September 2016.

    The warrant […] is for “firearm or ammunition abuse”.

    Gorka, a former Breitbart writer and Trump campaign surrogate, served as “deputy assistant” to the president during his White House tenure, but the exact nature of his role was vague. […]

    Details on the alleged crime triggered the warrant were scarce. [… I]t could have resulted from an incident as far back as 2009. Hungarian police did not respond to a request for comment.


    Gorka has a longstanding and well-documented interest in guns. He told Recoil magazine in November that his “everyday carry” includes two pistols, a knife, a tourniquet […]. In February 2016, he had a pistol confiscated after attempting to bring it through Washington’s Reagan national airport.


  35. fentex says

    Ha ha, New Zealand escapes attention again (to go about our own merry business) by virtue of being left off the map.

  36. says

    OK, so here are what I thought were the most intriguing/significant sections of the Simpson transcript:


    38-52 – piles of leads about Trump connections
    62-64 – Simpson is asked for suggestions on where the committee could get information using its subpoena power and offers several
    (*62 – I don’t know what Rooney is talking about re the Russian skating scores in the Salt Lake Olympics. It’s just a weird comment.)
    83 – Simpson is questioned about whether he knows of any aliases used by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, for example “Cohn.” (Simpson has come to think Cohen is an important personage in this whole scandal.)
    84-6 – discussion of Howard Lorber and Bennett LeBow
    90s – discussion of Russians and real-estate fraud
    around 100 – Brexit connections
    112 – Center for the National Interest
    112-3 – Hungary and Arthur Finklestein
    114/116 – Steele recommends looking closely at Javanka’s travel
    142 – Russian “infiltration” of the NRA (along with other rightwing/religious organizations), Torshin, Butina’s connections to Trump
    164-5 – Steele’s focus on kompromat

    All in all, it was a lot juicier than I’d expected. The House committee seems to have a more freewheeling style.

  37. says

    “Trump Lawyer Used Private Company, Pseudonyms to Pay Porn Star ‘Stormy Daniels’”:

    President Donald Trump’s lawyer used a private Delaware company to pay a former adult-film star $130,000 in return for her agreeing to not publicly discuss an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to corporate records and people familiar with the matter.

    The lawyer, Michael Cohen, established Essential Consultants LLC, on Oct. 17, 2016, just before the 2016 presidential election, corporate documents show. Mr. Cohen, who is based in New York, then used a bank account linked to the entity to send the payment to the client-trust account of a lawyer representing the woman, Stephanie Clifford, one of the people said.

    To further mask the identities of the people involved in the agreement, the parties used pseudonyms, with Ms. Clifford identified as “Peggy Peterson,” according to a person familiar with the matter. Part of the draft settlement pact was published by Slate….


    “Stormy Daniels Once Claimed She Spanked Donald Trump With a Forbes Magazine. At his request.”

    (Plus pun credit.)

  38. says

    Thread: “so Hannity demands Mueller cease & desist on the same day Steve King starts babbling about some phantom memo — I smell a ratfucking in progress…”

    It’s some memo Nunes desperately cooked up, and it’s being promoted by all the Russian bots (“releasethememo,” “releasethedocument(s),” and “releasethereport” are all among the top and trending hashtags pushed by Kremlin bots and trolls right now.

  39. says

    “Turkey shells Syria’s Afrin region, minister says operation has begun”:

    Turkish artillery fired into Syria’s Afrin region on Friday in what Ankara said was the start of a military campaign against the Kurdish-controlled area.

    The cross-border bombardment took place after days of threats from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to crush the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin in response to growing Kurdish strength across a wide stretch of north Syria.

    “The operation has actually de facto started with cross-border shelling,” Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said, adding that no troops had crossed into Afrin.

    Direct military action against territory held by Kurdish militia would open a new front in Syria’s civil war and would see Ankara confronting Kurds allied to the United States at a time when Turkey’s relations with Washington are reaching the breaking point….

    “Tens of thousands protest Turkish terror in Afrin”:

    Tens of thousands of people of Afrin canton, along the Villas Street in the center, chanted denouncing Turkish occupation army and its mercenaries’ threats to occupy Afrin, saying: “Your bombs will not terrorize us, we will not leave our land, we are steadfast.”

    Tens of thousands of people from Afrin canton, all components of the age of 7 years to 70 years, took to the streets and condemned the shelling of the Turkish occupation army and its mercenaries in Afrin region under the slogan “Threats of the Turkish state do not break the will of our people in Afrin canton.”

    Despite the heavy rain, this did not prevent the people from demonstrating and expressing their utter rejection of the attacks of the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries.

    This comes after a week of repeated attacks by the Turkish occupation army and its mercenaries with heavy weapons on the Afrin district, amid an escalation in statements by Turkish officials, headed by Turkish President Erdogan, who threatened to destroy Afrin and exterminate its people in the event of surrender to its occupying army or mercenary groups supported by it….

  40. says

    Natasha Bertrand: “Source with knowledge tells me the Nunes memo is ‘a level of irresponsible stupidity that I cannot fathom. Purposefully misconstrues facts and leaves out important details’.”

    Matthew Miller: “I think your source isn’t telling the truth. If they’ve worked with Nunes for long, they can fathom any level of irresponsible stupidity.”

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

    As a longtime subscriber to the dead tree version of the Post, I can tell you you’re likely to be disappointed, especially if you get to the op-eds (Michael Gerson seems to be David Brooks and Ross Douthat’s love child).

    But overall the reporting is excellent, even most of their right wing shills are anti-Trump, and, as mentioned above, they have Alexandra Petri.

  42. says

    “This disaster is the handiwork of Donald Trump”:

    …I’m told that in a series of meetings between Democratic and GOP leaders and Trump administration officials, Democrats repeatedly pressed their counterparts to make a counter-offer, after Trump rejected the bipartisan deal reached recently that would legalize the dreamers in exchange for some concessions. They have gotten nothing serious in response, I’m told.

    Sharry said that Democratic aides detailed for advocates a situation in which the Democrats asked the Republicans and the administration officials to put forward a counter-proposal that would help flesh out what Trump might need to accept a deal. Durbin and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) recently negotiated a bipartisan compromise that would protect the dreamers in exchange for more border security money, tweaks to family-based migration and cuts to visas given out to people from historically lower-immigration countries.

    “The Democrats keep asking for a counter to the Graham-Durbin bill that would lay out what the White House wants, to see if there’s a middle ground between the proposal on the table and the White House position,” Sharry told me, characterizing the briefings he’s received on these meetings. In response, Sharry said, “there have been no such proposals.”

    Instead, Sharry said, White House officials have continued to circulate documents at these meetings reiterating that Trump wants a number of very hard-line proposals, such as huge sums of money for a border wall and big cuts to legal immigration, which Sharry described as “the Stephen Miller-nativist wish list.” But Democrats continue to ask for proposals that would show what Trump might accept as a middle ground, to no avail.

    …Democrats continue to hope that Trump and the White House will still be open to a deal on the dreamers, and they have called for a very short-term funding bill to create space to make that deal, but Republicans don’t appear willing.

    Trump has a basic lack of understanding of the issues that renders him easily manipulated. Yet he does have a vision of sorts as well: He is expressly rejecting the deal because it does not sufficiently conform to his white nationalist agenda….

  43. says

    Bad news on the gerrymandering issue:

    The Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily blocked a trial court’s order requiring North Carolina lawmakers to produce a revised congressional voting map, making it likely that the midterm elections this year will be conducted using districts favorable to Republican candidates.

    The trial court had found that Republican legislators in the state had violated the Constitution by drawing congressional voting districts to hurt the electoral chances of Democratic candidates. […]

    Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor noted dissents from Thursday’s order, which was brief and unsigned.

    The previous North Carolina decision, issued by a three-judge panel last week, was the first from a federal court to strike down a congressional map as a partisan gerrymander. Republican state lawmakers, the court said, had violated the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection by drawing voting districts to their party’s advantage. […]

    NY Times link

  44. says

    From the Washington Post:

    […] Never before has the government experienced a furlough of federal employees when a single party controls both the White House and Congress, but that’s what will happen after midnight Friday if a spending bill fails to pass Congress.

    While Democrats criticized Republicans for failing to do what was necessary to win their support to keep the government open – a responsibility that has historically fallen to the party in charge – even some Republicans acknowledged there had been a profound breakdown in how Washington is run. […]

  45. says

    Republicans, rightwing media, and armies of bots are pushing the hashtag “#SchumerShutdown.” This does not look good.

    Also, Republicans have the bully pulpit and the additional media coverage that comes with it. Despite the polling that SC cited in comment 84, I think it is likely that Republicans will succeed in blaming Democrats for a shutdown.

  46. says

    From Lindsey Graham:

    I think the change [in Trump’s approach to a bipartisan bill] comes about from people like Mr. Miller [White House aide Stephen Miller]. Mr. Miller is well-known in the Senate for having views that are outside the mainstream. The Steven Miller approach to immigration has no viability.

    […] The Tom Cotton approach has no viability here. He’s become sort of the Steve King of the Senate. I like Tom, but on immigration he’s putting something on the table that there’s just no market for in phase one.

    (Steve King is infamous for making racist comments.)

  47. says

    Follow-up to comments 65, 71, and 75.

    About that so-called “secret memo” or “classified memo”:

    House Republicans and right-wing media outlets are up in arms about a classified memo purportedly detailing misconduct related to the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign for possible collusion with Russia.

    After reviewing it on Thursday, a number of Trump-supporting Republicans flooded the airwaves on Fox News. On Hannity, Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) called for Mueller to be fired, with Gaetz characterizing the special counsel’s investigation as “a lie built on corruption” and akin to “a palace coup.” On Friday morning, Fox & Friends spun the story as “worse than Watergate.” […]

    There are a number of reasons to be extremely skeptical about the memo, however.

    House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes has already been involved in discredited efforts to run interference for Trump.

    According to Lawfare executive editor Susan Hennessey, Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) fingerprints are all over the FISA memo.

    It appears to be some loose collection of Nunes’s individual unfounded allegations related to unmasking, not clearly even endorsed by his fellow Republicans, now being seized on by opportunists looking for a Hail Mary to try to tank the 702 bill before Trump signs it.

    […] neither Nunes or Trump ever produced any evidence of wrongdoing, and their accusations were debunked by congressional sources on both sides of the aisle. With their narrative in shambles, the fact Nunes and the White House had clearly colluded in an attempt to manufacture a scandal led Nunes to announce he was “temporarily” stepping aside from the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation. […]

    […] The FISA memo is not an official work product of the House Intelligence Committee — and it’s not clear how it was proudced. According to a Daily Caller reporter, no Democrats have even seen it.

    I’m told that 115 non-House Intel Committee members have seen the FISA memo. None of them are Democrats.

    […] Republicans are using a lot of adjectives but won’t talk about what the memo actually says
    Republicans are doing all they can to spread the idea that the memo contains scandalous findings.

    These commments are all so over the top that the memo almost certainly says nothing.
    “My stars! After reading the memo, I almost fainted!”
    “‘Water,’ my aide shouted, running to my side. ‘Bring the congressman water!’”

    […] not a single Republican who has seen the memo said a single thing about its substance or what exactly they find so troubling about it. […]

    Even if Trump elected not to declassify the memo, Republican leaders in the House could do it without any Democratic support. And yet they haven’t, which makes one wonder if Republicans stand to lose more than they would gain from the memo’s public release. […]


  48. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of the shithole shutdown:

    You know the possibility of a government shutdown is serious when Donald Trump cancels his plans to go golfing. Or at least delays them. Trump had been scheduled to fly to Florida again this weekend, but this morning the White House announced he’d stay in Washington until Congress passes a spending bill to keep the government open. Democrats […] want him to follow through on his pledge to sign a bill fixing immigration status for 700,000 Dreamers who were brought to the US as children. First, though, congressional Republicans have to include a DACA fix in the spending bill, which, oops, they forgot to do.

    The House passed a continuing resolution last night which would fund the government for 30 more days; while it includes one Democratic priority — a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program — it doesn’t include the other measure that most members of both parties keep insisting they want, that DACA fix. Republicans, who control the White House and both houses of Congress, have been insisting that a failure to fund the government would obviously be the fault of the Dems because they love illegal immigrants more than American children.

    Which sounds like bullshit to us! Particularly since Republicans have been quite open about their intention to use CHIP as a means of trying to bludgeon Democrats into supporting a budget bill — any budget bill, whether it helps DACA recipients or not. It’s clever maneuvering, but as we noted yesterday, nobody’s fooled by Republicans’ sudden realization that CHIP needs to be reauthorized. The Rs knew that back in September, when they let CHIP funding lapse in the first place. […] it’s an open secret that Republicans had been holding back any serious action on CHIP for maximum effect.

    […] It sure is dastardly of those Democrats to have not done their job and made Donald Trump somehow communicate what he wants in a consistent way, isn’t it? For shame. Maybe Republicans will decide to do what they have said they want on DACA, or maybe we’ll see a CR for a few more days to negotiate a DACA deal, or maybe we’ll see a shutdown starting tonight. Whatever happens, the Republican chaos masters are the ones who’ve been all over the place on what they’re willing to do, and that seems unlikely to change.</blockquotea.

  49. says

    Protest tonight in DC:

    US Capitol, 7pm, Friday Jan 19
    Speakers: Dreamers, senators, activists
    Bring signs, warm clothing, and outrage.
    (We’ll have lights!)

    FB link to RSVP follows.

  50. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] There’s an ideological layer that people also under-appreciate. Dana Bash went on CNN yesterday and explained how Democrats were going to be under the gun from GOP ads claiming that Democrats were preventing millions of children from getting health care. This has little traction outside of hard GOP partisans because people know that it’s the Democrats and not the Republicans who favor spending money to expand health care coverage. This is just a reality. Claiming that Democrats really want to do this as opposed to not giving in to some kind of legislative blackmail just doesn’t pass the laugh test. Republicans face a similar hurdle on the very concept of shutting down the government. Democrats are the party of government, the party of services. They are never the ones who really want to cut off services. Again, claiming otherwise runs against the self-presentations both parties espouse.

    Finally, when you’re unpopular, people blame you. President Trump and the GOP are now deeply unpopular. It shows up in the polls and every by-election. […] When you’re unpopular already and lack trust, when something goes wrong, you’re going to tend to get the blame. […]

    At the end of the day, it’s the same practice of legislative hostage-taking practiced by the GOP and President Trump. In this case, it’s combined with the chaos and incompetence which is the calling card of Trump-Era Capitol Hill. These are key things that the Democrats need to happen. If the GOP can’t even keep the government open on their own and need the help of the Democrats who have no power at all, they need to resolve these issues. Again, shutdowns are part of the Republican brand – and for good reason. This isn’t complicated.

  51. says

    Well, this could turn out to be interesting:

    Former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman may have taped confidential West Wing conversations and fears being caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, sources told the Daily News on Thursday.

    The former reality TV star’s official last day in the Trump administration is Saturday — despite the abrupt announcement of her departure last month — and her next step seems to be lawyering up.

    The soon-to-be former assistant to President Trump and director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison has held exploratory meetings with several high profile attorneys for potential representation, a source told The News.

    NY Daily News link

    Sources told the Daily News that Manigault Newman, who abruptly resigned from the White House late last year, “loves” to record meetings. Her official last day in the administration is Saturday.

    “Everyone knows Omarosa loves to record people and meetings using the voice notes app on her iPhone,” one source said. “Don’t be surprised if she has secret audio files on everyone in that White House, past and present staffers included.”

  52. says

    Why is Tom Cotton someone who gets so much attention? He’s the fucking junior senator from Arkansas who’s been there for like three years. Why should Schumer, Durbin, and Graham have to put up with this bigoted dipshit?

  53. says

    SC @101, in some ways, Tom Cotton reminds me of Stephen Miller. He’s a bigot with no redeeming qualities. And he has little to no experience in governing.

    What does he have? He has Trump’s ear, and/or he has the ear of people close to Trump.

    Here’s one example of Tom Cotton’s statements, which are irritating, simplified to the point of dishonesty, and cynically partisan:

    Maybe the President will talk some sense into Senator Schumer and the Democrats to not shut down the government over amnesty for illegal immigrants.

    My theory is that Trump likes him because he simplifies everything so much that, to Trump, he sounds like a marketing or branding manager.

  54. says

    Kris Kobach just got slapped down by a judge. This happens to Kobach a lot: the courts call him on his stupidity and don’t let him get away with making misleading statements. Kobach never seems to learn anything from his arguments with judges. In this latest case, Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department attempted to back Kobach up. It didn’t work.

    A federal judge didn’t buy the Justice Department’s argument that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach couldn’t speak to what was being done with the data collected by the now-defunct voter fraud commission he led. The judge ordered that Kobach or another commission member file a declaration giving a full explanation.

    The declaration will state “what information was collected or created by the Commission and/or its members on behalf of the Commission, where that information was and is being stored, by whom the information has been accessed, and what plans were made by the Commission to maintain or dispose of the information,” U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said Thursday.

    The order came in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Florida against the commission and Florida last year, for turning over state voter roll data Kobach had requested.

    […] Trump dissolved the commission earlier this month, citing the many lawsuits that it faced. Litigation around the ACLU-Florida case, and some of other legal challenges, has continued. The Justice Department had previously submitted a declaration from a White House information technology official in charge of its storage of the data in which he said the data will not be turned over to the Department of Homeland Security, where Kobach has said the voter fraud investigation will continue.

    The Justice Department also submitted a letter from Kobach agreeing not to transfer the data to DHS himself. But the government has also argued that it can’t compel Kobach to do anything in the case because the government does not believe he should be treated as a defendant now that the commission has been terminated.

    “In light of statements made by Mr. Kobach after the termination of the Commission, additional information regarding the Commission and its activities is necessary to render an informed decision on Plaintiff’s Emergency Motion,” the judge said Friday. “Federal Defendants should not be able to avoid making statements regarding the Commission simply because the Commission was terminated—and terminated specifically as a result of pending lawsuits.” […]


  55. says

    “EXCLUSIVE: Top Dem Accuses Trump Medicaid Chief Of Possible Ethics Pledge Violations”:

    The ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee is demanding to see the communications of the Trump administration’s top Medicaid official to determine whether she is violating her ethics agreement by handling Medicaid waiver requests from states that paid her former consulting company, SVC Inc.

    In a letter dated Jan. 19 to the general counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services obtained by TPM, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is requesting an investigation into the potential conflicts of interest of Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), particularly her handling of waiver requests from Arkansas, Kentucky, and Iowa.

    “Recent statements by governors representing multiple states indicate that Administrator Verma has personally and substantially participated in waivers submitted to CMS by states that were clients of her previous consulting business,” Wyden wrote.

    Unless Verma sought and received special permission from the Office of Government Ethics to work on those state cases, Wyden said, she is in violation of the pledge she made when she was appointed last year. Wyden has demanded that HHS hand over by Jan. 27 any ethics waivers granted to Verma.

    The ethics inquiry from Capitol Hill comes as Verma and her team at HHS move aggressively to grant states permission to impose work requirements and other restrictions on their Medicaid populations—the first time such measures have ever been allowed in the program’s history. The first state to win such approval was Kentucky, where state officials openly say they expect the new rules to remove nearly 100,000 people from the Medicaid rolls….

  56. says

    Follow-up to 103 and 104.

    Rightwing media likes Tom Cotton for the same reasons. They find his childish simplification of issues, and his sloganeering easy to repeat, easy to use.

  57. says

    More bad news about the short-term funding bill proposed by Republicans:

    The short-term funding bill the House passed Thursday night, which the Senate is still debating ahead of a shutdown at 12:01 Saturday morning, is like every Republican bill we’ve seen so far: full of horrible stuff that they hoped no one would notice until it passes. It includes elements like ceding the power of Congress to make appropriations for the intelligence community, and letting Trump decide where to spend the money.

    That’s from Joan McCarter.

    From the Washington Post:

    Lawmakers affiliated with the intelligence panels are scrambling to figure out why the short-term budget measure appears to sideline a long-standing law preventing the administration from spending money on intelligence activities Congress has not specifically authorized, or in exigent circumstances, Congress has not at least been notified of. The measure appears to render parts of that law—Section 504 of the 1947 National Security Act—”notwithstanding,” or null and void, until the budget extension expires in a month. Normally, short-term budget extensions make specific reference to the applicability of the law for the duration of the measure.

    According to a person familiar with the language, the Office of Management and Budget submitted the “notwithstanding” language to Congress, which appeared in the budget bill House Republican leaders presented to their rank-and-file members on Tuesday, and began to set off alarm bells across the intelligence committees in Congress late Wednesday. Congressional staffers with oversight of the intelligence community believe the “notwithstanding” mistake may have been inserted in error, but they are inquiring as to whether it was an intentional effort to give the president unprecedented power to work around Congress.

    Sounds to me like Republicans want to give Trump unlimited power to pay for investigations into, say, Hillary Clinton. And maybe they want Trump to be able to strip funds from Mueller’s investigation?

  58. says

    Trump gave a speech to anti-choicers today. His speech was carried by video from the Rose Garden to anti-abortion activists nearby.

    […] “Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence and that is the right to life. […]

    “That is why we march, that is why we pray, that is why we declare that America’s future will be filled with goodness, peace, joy, dignity and life for every child of God,” he said. […]

    Ahead of Trump’s remarks, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services announced that the administration was rescinding an Obama-era Medicaid guideline that limited the way states could take action against medical providers that provide abortion services.

    Dr. Charmaine Yoest, the department’s assistant secretary for public affairs, told reporters that the Trump administration believes “it is essential to protect and defend the prohibition of Medicaid coverage from most abortion procedures. […]

    Trump also talked about abortions in the ninth month. At least we think that is what Trump was talking about. Trump presented his views so confusingly that it was laughable: “Right now in a number of states the laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month. It is wrong. It has to change.”
    Video available at the link.

    Possible explanation for Hair Furor’s remarks: “So he wants to ban babies being born in September.”

  59. says

    Update about Russian trolls and bots on Twitter:

    Twitter says it has suspended 1,062 new accounts it has found to be linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian “troll farm” which disseminated content intended to interfere in U.S. political process.

    In total, the company has found 3,814 IRA-linked accounts, which posted 175,993 tweets during the 2016 presidential election.

    Twitter says that it also found 13,512 new Kremlin-linked bot accounts, bringing the total amount of bots it has found in connection to Russian election influence efforts to 50,258.

    The company also said in a post on Friday that it will notify 677,775 people to let them know that they either liked, retweeted or followed Russian-linked accounts, following a request from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to do so.


  60. says

    “Deutsche Bank Investigating Jared Kushner, His Companies For Suspicious Money Transfers: Report”:

    According to an article in Manager Magazin — a German monthly business magazine — Deutsche Bank could have evidence about suspicious money transfers by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser, Jared Kushner, along with his companies and the people working for him.

    The information, considered suspicious by the bank, has been submitted to the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority for Germany, BaFin. The magazine said that the information will be sent to U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller who heads the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

    The bank reportedly received a subpoena from Mueller last year….

  61. Hj Hornbeck says

    There’s still an hour left, but this situation is likely to continue:

    The United States is on the brink of its first government shutdown in nearly five years after senators failed to reach a deal to keep the lights on. An effort by Republicans to keep the government open for one month failed in a vote on Friday night as it did not address Democratic concerns about young undocumented immigrants know as Dreamers.

    Republicans needed 60 votes to advance the bill under Senate rules but the legislation only received the support of 50 senators. Five red state Democrats broke ranks to support the bill while four Republicans voted against. […]

    Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said it was clear Republicans were far from on the same page as the figure head of their party. “You’ve got the three branches of government — everything,” Wyden said. “Can these folks organize a two-car parade?”

    Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania also expressed his aggravation with conservative Republicans of the Freedom Caucus who had pushed a hard line on immigration. “I wasn’t elected to genuflect to the Freedom Caucus.”

  62. Hj Hornbeck says

    Trolling level: master. Spotted this on the Politico liveblog:

    Some Democrats have proposed — on the floor — the spending bill expire on the State of the Union.

  63. Hj Hornbeck says

    It’s quite the anniversary present.

    A partial government shutdown was almost certain to take place, even if only for a few hours. If the Senate reaches a deal, the House won’t have time before midnight to approve whatever changes senators make in the spending bill the House passed Thursday to keep the government funded for four more weeks.

    McConnell held the vote open for more than an hour, but opponents — including a handful of Republicans — had already cast more than enough votes to scuttle it. The tally was 50-48 as of 11 p.m. That was 10 votes short of the 60 needed to advance the bill. Without a dramatic reversal before midnight, government agencies will begin ramping down operations Saturday, the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration.

  64. Hj Hornbeck says

    Wow, have I ever beat you to the punch in this thread, SC? I don’t think I have. :O It’s also worth pointing out that the Senate tries again soon. Via Burgess Everett‏:

    Senate will convene at noon. Shutdown for at least 12 hours

  65. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    Well, just drove into work today. Past the camera crew from a local TV station and the LARGE sign that says “PARK CLOSED”. Punched in the code, up went the gate, and, of course, the TV crew tried to follow me in. So I had to get out and explain that the park was closed because of a lapse in spending authority. They asked me to comment on camera and I referred them to the Superintendent’s office. And asked them to leave the property as it is closed. And then I asked them to leave the property as it is closed. And they finally did.

    So now I have four hours to wrap up whatever I need to wrap up, do some paperwork, and head home.

    Of course, last night, the White House budget director stated that, unlike Obama, the Trump White House will not weaponize the shutdown by doing things like closing National Parks. He claimed (wrongly) that the 2013 shutdown was the first time any National Parks had been closed and Obama did that just to weaponize the shutdown.

    Which is odd. I’ve been here for five shutdowns. And we closed for all of them.

    (cross posted on Caine’s TNT)

  66. says

    The authoritarianism of some of Trump’s latest tweets has gone unnoticed. Since yesterday, he’s tweeted:

    “Government Funding Bill past last night in the House of Representatives. Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate – but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!

    “Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border. They could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead. #WeNeedMoreRepublicansIn18 in order to power through mess!

    “For those asking, the Republicans only have 51 votes in the Senate, and they need 60. That is why we need to win more Republicans in 2018 Election! We can then be even tougher on Crime (and Border), and even better to our Military & Veterans!”

    His response to political differences and setbacks in a democracy isn’t compromise, negotiation, and sidelining extremely unpopular and unrepresentative ideas to pursue policies that help people and have bipartisan support, but to call for basically a one-party state in which Republicans can steamroll over everyone to execute the unpopular and harmful projects of the far-Right and the 1%.

  67. says

    “After a year, top Trump staffers still working without certified financial disclosures”:

    A year into Donald Trump’s presidency, records show five of his top staffers still have not secured final approval of their financial reports — disclosures that are required by law to ensure Americans that these senior officials aren’t personally benefiting from their White House jobs.

    Another four staffers received certification by the Office of Government Ethics after McClatchy first requested their forms last month.

    The delay is likely due to Trump staffers either refusing to disclose mandated information to OGE, failing to resolve a conflict of interest or violating an ethics law or regulation, according to two ethics experts familiar with the long-standing process. But delays can also occur when White House ethics officials don’t force staffers to comply or because OGE is behind on paperwork.

    The number of Trump staffers without certification a year after inauguration is not normal, according to Walter Shaub, who served as OGE director until he quit in protest in July and joined the Campaign Legal Center. “That’s a high rate of failure or delay—and those are the ones the White House knows OGE will review, so the problem might be even worse with the reports that don’t come to OGE,” he said.

    As Trump approached the anniversary of his inauguration, McClatchy reviewed the financial disclosure forms of 54 assistants to the president and deputy assistants to the president, the only White House staffers that OGE is charged with certifying. The reports, obtained through multiple public records requests at OGE and the White House, include those filed when staffers arrive or depart the White House and when they divested holdings. OGE failed to initially produce records that should have been made public.

    In addition to the five senior staffers who still lack certification, there’s no evidence that a handful of other top staffers — including Bannon — fully divested their financial investments as required by ethic agreements, which are not considered public records. Others staffers submitted forms that raise questions.

    Trump, a reality TV host boasting a vast real estate empire, ignored calls to fully separate from his business interests when he became president. Administration employees have spent money at Trump hotels and resorts. And White House staff have turned in financial disclosure forms late, some incurring fines, or not at all….

  68. says

    Sen. Schatz: “I’ve never seen such a flawed negotiation. No one is in charge. Speaker concerned about his right flank, Senate R’s waiting for POTUS, POTUS changes from moment to moment. No one is sure if they have leverage or are over a barrel. It’s as bad as it looks.”

  69. blf says

    Ogvorbis@126, Glad to hear you’re apparently now feeling well enough to work — when the thugs let you, that is.


    With government shutdown, Republicans reap what they sow:

    It takes a special type of hypocrite to accuse your opponents of hypocrisy for following in your footsteps

    Today’s Republican party is built on principle. As a matter of principle, the GOP believes it is the only party that can shut down government as a negotiating tactic. The Democrats’ job is to keep that government open and to cave in to its demands.

    These truths we hold to be self-evident, after watching several rounds of this sad kabuki theater through the Clinton and Obama years.

    Now that the Democrats have triggered a government shutdown, Republicans are outraged. Because of their principles, you know.

    I’m not quite sure where the author, Richard Wolffe (not Michael Wolff, the author of Fire & Fury) got the idea the dummies “triggered” the shutdown, other than in perhaps their support was needed in the Senate to not accomplish a shutdown. That would require compromise with the thugs, but the thugs refused to consider any (serious) compromise. The dummies therefore didn’t support not shutting down, which I would call a “trigger” only in the sense the thugstarget already had shot themselves.

    The ideologue responsible for Trump’s budget, Mick Mulvaney, […] was one of the chief proponents of the last government shutdown because he opposed Planned Parenthood and Obamacare.

    Now he says the Democrats have no right to do what he did because, well, that would make them unprincipled.


    As a matter of principle, it’s Republicans like Mulvaney who are the deficit hawks, caring deeply about the fiscal rectitude of the federal government. Right up to the point when one of them says the words tax cuts, which turn out to be far more important than balancing the budget or the national debt.


    As a matter of principle, Republicans are the party closest to God, rallying the faithful at the March for Life rally by anti-abortion activists, who also love to rail against Planned Parenthood. Thank God for the leadership of a conservative president whose lawyer paid tens of thousands of dollars to a porn star, through a shell company and false names.

    Before she signed a non-disclosure agreement, the porn star disclosed the sordid details of her affair with the current president soon after his third wife gave birth to his third son.


    The GOP believes it has set a brilliant trap for Democrats with a cunning ploy of pretending to care about children’s health insurance. Who could vote against children? says the party that allowed the insurance to lapse in October.

    And who could support the deportation of children? The one thing Republicans didn’t count on was their own president, whose racist rant about shithole countries blew up a hard-fought bipartisan deal on immigration.

    This is a shithole of the Republicans’ own making. They control all sides of Washington and have now made history by presiding over their own shutdown, under a president who prided himself on knowing the art of the deal.

    No deal, no sympathy: polls suggest most voters blame both Trump and the Republicans for the open sewer that stretches all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue.

    During previous shutdowns, calm heads ultimately prevailed: people who cared about good government, or at least worried about the polls that pointed to widespread public disgust. But this is now Donald Trump’s Washington and there are no calm heads to be found.

    As a matter of principle, Republicans cannot come together to agree a deal on immigration. As a matter of sanity, Donald Trump cannot stop his racist belching or surrender the fantasy about his Mexican wall. This shutdown shit-show could run and run.

    (As an aside, any idea what the shutdown could do to the Mueller investigation?)

  70. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    Apparently, National Parks will remain open with no services, no visitor services, no maintenance, no snow removal, no indoor facilities, just visitors wandering around outside. No one to protect the resource, no one to respond to emergencies, no one to clean up and empty outhouses, no one to check visitors into camping areas, no one to give tours. Only law enforcement (minimal staffing) and people to keep an eye on the electrical, HVAC, and other systems in the buildings.

    I have a bad feeling about this.

  71. Hj Hornbeck says

    blf @131:

    As an aside, any idea what the shutdown could do to the Mueller investigation?

    Nothing, according to the US Justice department.

  72. says

    Another example of how spectacularly ineffective the Trump administration is at negotiating a deal. And, incidentally, an example of how Trump is not really in charge, though he is able to occasionally blow up potential deals:

    Schumer presented a proposal to break the logjam to Trump in a mid-day meeting over cheeseburgers at the White House, according to multiple Democrats — a plan to fund the government over the next two years, including money for disaster aid, the low-income children’s health insurance program, opioid funding, border security and relief for those Dreamers covered by DACA.

    “I even put the border wall on the table,” Schumer said.

    But when Schumer left the meeting, the concept started to unravel when McConnell and Trump’s chief-of-staff John Kelly opposed it, according to a person familiar with the situation.

    NBC News link

    How many times has Trump sabotaged potential deals and pretty much guaranteed a shithole shutdown? I think I have lost count.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt added that it was Kelly who called Schumer after the meeting, telling the senator that the framework Schumer and Trump agreed to wasn’t far enough to the right.

    And if these details sound ridiculous, there’s a very good reason for that. It suggests we have a person in the office of the presidency, but we don’t have a president in any meaningful sense. […]

    [Democrats] keep working from the assumption that they should try to negotiate with the president, but as we saw yesterday, when Schumer sketched out a framework with Trump to avert a shutdown, it was Trump’s aide who said that framework fell short of Republican demands.

    All of which suggests there’s no longer any point to trying to strike deals with Trump on anything, ever. As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) put it the other day, “We don’t have a reliable partner at the White House to negotiate with.”

    Consider just some of the key events since the president rescinded DACA, touched off a crisis, and called for a bipartisan solution:

    * Trump struck a deal with Democratic leaders in the fall, which he soon after abandoned.

    * Trump briefly endorsed a Democratic senator’s request for a clean DACA bill, before someone reminded him what his position was supposed to be.

    * Trump briefly endorsed a bipartisan immigration plan, crafted by Graham and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), before GOP hardliners told him to reject it.

    * Trump supported, then opposed, then supported again the House Republican stopgap spending measure intended to prevent a shutdown.

    * Trump and Schumer outlined a framework on immigration, which the White House chief of staff helped reject.

    Presidential historian Jon Meacham, reflecting on the developments, said, “[T]his is what government would look like without a president.” […]

  73. says

    From Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post:

    […] to put on my former labor lawyer hat, McConnell’s lack of urgency today was stunning. This situation is akin to a labor contract negotiation leading up to a strike deadline. Not to have a single joint meeting with Democrats and the president or exchange any proposals in the final day represents a stunning level of irresponsibility. Republicans control both houses and the White House; not to make every effort to initiate talks and find a solution suggests they no longer know how to cut deals. […]

    From Senator Blumenthal:

    There was virtually a deal, a comprehensive agreement between Chuck Schumer & the president, and he [Trump] walked away from it after he talked to his hard right.

    The final vote tally on the CR (continuing resolution) to fund the government included four Republicans who voted “No”: (Graham, Lee, Paul, Flake); and five red state Democrats who voted “Yes”: (Heitkamp, Manchin, Donnelly, Jones, McCaskill). Some Republicans helped to kill the bill.

    From Greg Sargent:

    Dear Dems:

    Trump rejected your good-faith solution on the Dreamers with a rationale rooted in openly advertised white nationalism.

    The cynical GOP use of CHIP is intended to smack you around like little mice.

    If you won’t say No to these things, where’s the limit?

    #shitholeshutdown is also a trending hashtag.

  74. says

    If the shutdown continues, who will be furloughed without pay?

    […] Housing and Urban Development, Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency look to be hit the hardest, with 95 percent or more of their employees facing furlough if the government remains closed. On Friday, however, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency has sufficient resources to operate through next week, and that all employees should plan on coming to work next week.

    The White House said Friday that 1,056 workers will be furloughed and 659 — those considered essential — would continue to report to work.

    Trump is not essential. Have him retire to Mar-a-Lago, and have him travel on his own dime, with no entourage.

    At the peak of the 2013 shutdown, 850,000 government workers were furloughed.

    And yes, in case you were wondering, there was a spike in new babies born nine months after the government shutdown five years ago.

    Services considered “essential” — mainly those vital to national security — will continue to function during the shutdown. Active duty military will continue to work, and many military operations will continue, but the Department of Defense announced Friday that neither military personnel nor necessary civilian personnel will be paid during the shutdown.

    Air traffic controllers, Customs and Border Protection, and Transportation Security Officers (TSA) will all remain on the job.

    Lawmakers and their staffs will continue to work through the shutdown as well, in the hopes of coming to a funding agreement. Legislators will be paid. Their staffers will not. The disparity extends beyond pay as well […]

    The Post Office will remain open and mail delivery will continue, as the Post Office has its own funding stream. Similarly, the Veterans Health Administration, which gets its funding appropriated in advance, will remain open, and more than 95 percent of its employees will be exempt from furlough. […]

    Many Social Security Administration employees […] will be placed on furlough if the shutdown continues, so although checks would continue to go out, day to day administrative work could be affected, and some functions, including benefit verification and issuing new Social Security cards will cease during the shutdown.[…]


  75. says

    The White House response to the shutdown included this threat:

    The president will not negotiate on immigration reform until Democrats stop playing games and reopen the government.

    Maybe that’s a good thing. We don’t need Trump and his rightwing henchmen sabotaging any more negotiations.

  76. says

    A list of demands from Democrats:

    – parity between defense and nondefense spending increases
    – a fix for endangered pensions
    – disaster relief for victims of hurricanes and wildfires
    – health-care funding (this includes CHIP)
    – protecting immigrants benefiting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program

  77. says

    Excerpts from the speech Paul Ryan gave this morning:

    There is no reason for this shutdown. We have been, and we continue to be, willing to work together in good faith on immigration. […]

    You should not have to go through this uncertainty. You deserve so much better than this needless shutdown. And we hope that it will end very soon.

    He said “in good faith on immigration,” and I can’t figure out where he finds any evidence of good faith. Certainly not from Trump, and not from McConnell; and not from Kelly, Cotton or other white supremacists.

  78. says

    From Matthew Yglesias:

    […] Trump set the current crisis in motion last September when he revoked Barack Obama’s executive order that protected DREAMERs […] from deportation, but he offered no guidance about what he wanted to happen next, other than for Congress to do … something.

    The lack of clarity emboldened immigration hardliners in the GOP caucus while simultaneously raising hopes for a deal among immigration reformers. But Trump’s intervening behavior wound up salting the earth by leaving everyone feeling that he might screw them over at any moment. Consequently, nobody is quite sure exactly who is shutting down the government or what it is the White House is trying to achieve by rejecting a bipartisan proposal that would avert a shutdown. […]

    But the mere fact that the circumstances require Trump to act like a real president doesn’t change the fact that he’s a lazy, ill-informed conspiracy theorist prone to tweeting cryptic pronouncements about delicate policy issues based on Fox & Friends segments. […]

    As a candidate, Donald Trump loudly and frequently promised to “build a wall” on the US-Mexico border and “make Mexico pay” for it.

    These ideas never made any sense, but once Trump won the election, turning them into some kind of actual policy imperative became important to the overall Republican Party. […] the White House got behind the conceit that Congress could appropriate funds for it that Trump would assert was some kind of advance on hypothetical future Mexican repayment.

    […] many Republicans were lukewarm on the wall concept all along, so last spring, Trump was considering the option of forcing a shutdown to try to get his way. […]

    how to get Democratic votes for the wall? One natural way to do it would be to give Democrats a big legislative win of their own. But precisely because congressional Republicans were lukewarm on the wall all along, they would revolt at the idea of giving away policy concessions of any real value.

    Then came an idea: By canceling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Trump could generate new leverage for himself and then give Democrats concessions on the DREAMers […]

    Trump has deeply hawkish instincts on immigration, seemingly driven by his personal and ideological racism, but he’s ill-informed on pretty much all subjects, including immigration.

    And the basic problem with a DREAMers-for-wall swap is that the wall is a dumb idea that wouldn’t actually accomplish anything to reduce immigration to the United States. […] better-informed immigration hawks like White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) began working with Chief of Staff John Kelly to avoid the kind of deal that Trump had repeatedly suggested — and even at times explicitly agreed to in general terms.

    […] Instead of negotiating positions, hawks have put forth a comprehensive wish list for entirely transforming the American immigration system. They say they want billions of dollars in new border security funding plus the full RAISE Act vision of cutting legal immigration in half while ending family and diversity visas in favor of an exclusive focus on job offers and educational attainment.

    This is what Trump, whether wittingly or unwittingly, means with his various asides about the perils of “lotteries” and “chain migration.”

    […] To get sweeping changes in the immigration system enacted, conservatives would need to come to the table with some kind of help for the entire population of long-settled undocumented immigrants — precisely the kind of comprehensive immigration reform they’ve been eschewing for years.

    The result is that if Democrats blink and cave to Trump on the shutdown question, Trump himself is going to get none of the policy changes he desires — no change to the diversity visas, no change to family visas, and no wall money. In exchange, he’ll get to start deporting DREAMers, but the actual capacity of American immigration courts to carry out deportations is already maxed out. […]

    The perversity of the current situation is that Trump has always publicly maintained that he wants to do something to help the DREAMers — repeatedly using the word “love” in this context.

    That, for obvious reasons, has raised expectations among Democrats and immigration activists that there is a deal to be struck.

    If Trump doesn’t actually want a deal, then he can probably prevail on the narrow issue of the government shutdown. Realistically, Democrats from red states with low Latino and Asian populations aren’t going to hold out forever for the sake of a futile effort to help DACA recipients. […]

    […] Trump has confused everyone and brought the political system to the breaking point.

  79. says

    The full White House statement that was issued before the shutdown deadline:

    Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform. During this politically manufactured Schumer Shutdown, the President and his Administration will fight for and protect the American people.

    I guess they had that “obstructionist losers” statement ready to go.

  80. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of the shutdown:

    […] As the clock struck midnight and McConnell finally voted, and […] railed against Democrats for double-daring them into a physical challenge. Schumer calmly countered that assertion [that Democrats are obstructionists], noting that he’d spent the day considering the unthinkable [giving Trump his wall], but Trump and hardline conservatives decided to play around in a shithole instead of acting like adults.

    What happened to the President Trump who asked us to come up with a deal, and promised that he’d take heat for it? … He backed off at the first sign of pressure.

    As the companion series to The White House Apprentice, Legislative Liaisons has been plagued by an overly dramatic cast from the start. Republican frat-bros and lying olds have been picking unnecessary fights just to make their fans happy, […] They expected to beat everyone into submission, but […] Democrats finally stood up for themselves.

    Now, on the one year anniversary of Trump’s ascendance to the throne, he’s quietly bitching about missing his own party in Mar-a-Lago that’s been raging since Thursday. This morning, Congressional leaders are attempting to kick the can down the road so that they don’t poo all over Trump’s party, and make him deliver a State of the Union address in the dark.

    With people gathering in cities across the world to protest Trump’s presidency and call for women’s rights, it’s nice to know that Trump still thinks everything is about about him.

  81. says

    Wonkette is live blogging the Women’s March.

    […] Across the United States and the world, women, men and others are protesting against the racist, xenophobic, sexist garbage fire that is Donald Trump and his entire administration in a glorious show of solidarity and clever signage.

    We’ll be adding pics, tweets and updates here throughout the weekend […]

    From some of the signs shown in photos:

    – Does conversion therapy work on racists?

    – [a drawing of Lady Liberty removing an earring] Girl, hold my earrings.

    – Grab ’em by the Midterms.

    – I’ve seen smarter cabinets at Ikea.

    – If I make my uterus a corporation will y’all stop regulating it?

    – A woman’s place is in the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office.

  82. says

    So, how are things going today when it comes to negotiating an end to the government shutdown? Not well.

    […] The only thing they could agree on was that it was the other guy’s fault.

    Democrats continued to demand that President Trump and GOP leaders include a fix to reinstate legal status for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in any agreement, lambasting Trump for constantly changing his mind on what it would take to reach a deal, while Republicans accused their colleagues across the aisle of throwing a tantrum over immigrants.

    Both sides seemed gearing up for a long-term shutdown, confident they’ll win argument with voters and seeming poised to wait until they see how the public reacts to it over the coming days and see if the other side blinks. […]

    […] senior lawmakers and the White House going after one another in unusually personal terms as they sought to blame the other side for the ongoing shutdown.

    “Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with jello. It’s next to impossible,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters, slamming Trump for tentatively agreeing to a series of possible DACA deals before reneging on those pledges. “As soon as you take one step forward the hard right forces the president three steps back… It’s next to impossible to strike a deal with the president because he can’t stick to the terms.”

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) went hard after Schumer.

    “He thinks the entire government should be shut down until he gets his way on illegal immigration,” he said in a floor speech to open the Senate on Saturday. “The solution is to end the foolishness that’s hurting millions Americans who have done absolutely nothing to deserve this.”

    […] Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney accused Schumer of lying about the amount he offered Trump to fund the wall.

    “Mr. Schumer is going to have to up his game a little bit and be more honest with the president of the United States,” he said in a White House briefing.

    Schumer’s spokesman shot back: “Director Mulvaney was not in the lunch, and is not telling the truth.”

    […] As both sides dug in, the vulnerable red-state Democrats who face tough reelections this fall voiced growing frustration.

    “Forget about elections, forget about all that. This is not what we’re sent here to do. This is not our job. Our job is to keep the place open and running in more of a normal fashion. That’s not happening,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), another Democrat who broke with his party, told reporters as he entered a Democratic meeting Saturday afternoon. “I am pissed off.”


  83. says

    Oh, FFS. More in-your-face racism, this time from Maine:

    The town manager of a rural Maine community says he’s the leader of a racial segregationist group, and he believes the United States would be better off if people of different races were to “voluntarily separate.”

    Jackman town manager Tom Kawczynski wants to preserve the white majority of northern New England and Atlantic Canada, he has told the Bangor Daily News. He moved to Maine a year ago and launched a group called “New Albion” to promote what he calls “the positive aspects of our European heritage.”

    American Civil Liberties Union of Maine legal director Zachary Heiden said Kawczynski’s attitudes and materials are “shockingly racist.” Kawczynski has defended his group as “pro-white” without being opposed to other racial groups. But he has also called Islam “the scourge of Western civilization” and incompatible with his view of American society.

    Kawczynski said he doesn’t run town affairs in a way that discriminates against anyone. […]


  84. says

    Follow-up to comment 143.

    Some updates on the Women’s march:

    The Chicago Tribune reports that the Chicago Women’s March today had reached 300,000 participants, exceeding last year’s estimated turnout of 250,000.
    Most women in history to reject one man. #WomensMarch2018
    People from the Cheyenne community marched in 30 degree weather on Jan. 20 for the Women’s March. All forms of equality were recognized, not just equality for women along with protests against President Donald Trump. #WomensMarch2018
    The Missoula Women’s March is being led by local indigenous women – dedicated to raising the next generation of strong indigenous women, and raising awareness of missing and murdered indigenous women

  85. says

    Hair Furor tweeted:

    Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can’t let that happen!

    Seemingly to make a Trump tweet true, Republicans are refusing to pass a bill from Democrats that would continue military pay and death benefits for the duration of the shutdown. (A pay continuation for the military was done during previous shutdowns: for example, in 2013.)

    Early this morning, @clairecmc tried to pass a bill to guarantee military pay and death benefits in the #TrumpShutdown.

    Republican Leader Mitch McConnell: I object.

    A response:

    It is wrong that Members of Congress would still get pay in the event of a shutdown while paychecks for members of our military could be disrupted. [Debbie Stabenow, Democratic Senator from Michigan said.] This bill ensures that Members of Congress will not get paid, and another bill I have cosponsored makes sure our troops will. Even if these bills do not pass, I will donate my salary for every single day that a shutdown occurs.

    Yeah, if Republican senators do not want to make sure the military gets paid, then Democratic senators think that members of Congress should also not get paid.

  86. says

    Oh, FFS. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney seems to be having a grand time because he is now more powerful. He is in the charge of managing things during the shutdown. I think all that power has gone to his head. He’s hyped up and gleeful.

    “I found out for the first time last night that the person who technically shuts down the government down is me, which is kind of cool.” […]

    Sean Hannity: All of the important aspects involving the government continue, and those people that are furloughed usually get their money back, because Congress will give them back pay and a free vacation.

    Mick Mulvaney: Yeah, I mean…here’s how I explained it to people. I explained it this — obviously, I’m — the reason that, obviously, I’m heavily involved in this, Sean, is that the Office of Management and Budget is charged with, you know, sort of implementing running a shutdown. In fact, I found out for the first time last night that the person who technically shuts the government down is me, which is kind of cool.

    You mean to tell me that Mulvaney didn’t know before last night that managing a government shutdown was part of his job? Sheesh.

  87. blf says

    Re @147: Presumably, if the military is not paid, then as “commander-in-chief”, hair furor would also not be paid.

    Also re @147: It’s not so much that congresscritter’s shouldn’t be paid (they shouldn’t), but that, since they have obviously failed to do their job, their pay since the last election should be (to use the British phrase) “clawed back”, that is, reimbursed in full (returned to the payer — Whether that payer is the government or the taxpayer is a separate discussion).

    None of the above, nor the more modest proposal in @147, will happen, other than by accident — Which would then be “corrected” by a retrospective action.

  88. says

    A flu epidemic has affected every state except Hawaii. However, the CDC received no guidance whatsoever as the shutdown loomed:

    Mere hours before Congress failed to reach a budget deal and the government shutdown, officials who protect the nation’s health said they had received no official guidance on what to do in the event of a government shutdown.

    Staffers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Vox (on the condition of anonymity out of fear for their jobs) that they’d heard nothing about what specific protocols to follow if the government had to close.

    Just before 3pm yesterday, the acting secretary of Health and Human Services sent out an email, saying the agency was “working to update our contingency plans.”

    By 6pm last night, notifications went out telling staff if they were furloughed or not. Furloughed employees were asked at that late hour to “begin identifying the required actions you’ll need to complete to effect an orderly should a shutdown occur.” […]

    Several employees said they felt the 2013 transition to a shutdown went much more smoothly. Back then, for example, emails with planning information, including identifying employees who were furloughed, started to come in on September 26, five days before the government shut down on October 1.

    “The fact we’re getting no guidance is symptomatic of the dysfunctionality of this entire [administration],” the staffer said. “Having no guidance 12 hours out on the deadline day — it’s not how you run any kind of an organization.”

    “I consider this issue nonpartisan — the issue of proper and timely procedures,” the employee added. “This should be a bureaucratic function.”

    Another staffer told Vox, “The lack of official guidance on what to specifically do is ridiculous. We’ve had to ask our managers about what happened last time.”

    […] furloughed employees aren’t able to check their work email as of midnight last night, several CDC staffers expressed confusion and worry about what to do if this impasse drags on.

    […] investigators at NIH can no longer enroll new patients in clinical trials, food inspectors at FDA will have to stop doing the work of overseeing the safety of the food supply, and lab technicians at CDC may not be able to carry out their epidemiological research. […]

    In another sign of confusion at the agency, CDC changed their plans late on Friday regarding their flu surveillance program, which is monitoring this year’s unusually severe seasonal flu epidemic. […] hours before Congress’ midnight deadline, CDC put a new contingency plan in place, saying their “immediate response to urgent disease outbreaks, including seasonal influenza, would continue.” […]


  89. says

    From Donald Trump, or at least someone with access to his Twitter account:

    Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!

  90. says

    More signs from the Women’s March:

    If this march is about accountability, 57% of white women voted for misogyny.

    I’d call Trump a [C-word], but he lacks depth and warmth.

    First we marched, now we’re running (for office).

    Build a wall and my generation will tear it down. [sign held by a child]

    I don’t know how to explain to adults why you should care about other people. [sign held by a child]

    Does this ass [photo of Trump’s face] make my country look small?

    Viagra is government funded ($41.6 million/year). If pregnancy is God’s will, so is limp dick.

    Let he who hasn’t raw dogged a porn star after the birth of his fifth child with his third wife cast the first stone.

    We are not ovary-acting.

    Too much bullshit for one sign.

  91. says

    The Women’s March by the numbers:

    The number of people who attended the Women’s March in Chicago [today] exceeded the number of those who took part in the march one year ago this weekend, according to Chicago’s ABC affiliate.

    Roughly 50,000 more women attended the march this year, which was titled “March to the Polls” bringing the number to 300,000 participants.

    Last year’s march drew 250,000 marches to the Windy City, according to the report.

    CNN reported that Los Angeles also had their largest Women’s March yet, with 500,000 people joining for the event this year. […]


  92. says

    More evidence of confusion and disfunction in the White House:

    […] Trump did not approve an outline of his immigration policy crafted by top Homeland Security staff at a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers on immigration two weeks ago.

    A lawmaker who attended the televised meeting earlier this month tells The Washington Post that after Trump ordered cameras out of the room, the president reacted in surprise and shock to the summary of his policy positions on immigration that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and her staff passed out.

    Trump reportedly outwardly expressed frustration that he was unaware of the outline until the meeting, saying he disagreed with the four-page document’s “must haves” and proposals for an immigration deal.

    The president told lawmakers gathered in the meeting to disregard the outline, which listed several of his key proposals, including $18 billion in funding for a border wall.

    “It’s like the wedding where someone actually stands up and objects to the wedding,” the lawmaker told the Post. “It was that moment.” […]

  93. says

    Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, was advised by Twitter that he had interacted with Russia-linked accounts:

    As part of our recent work to understand Russian-linked activities on Twitter during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we identified and suspended a number of accounts that were potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency.

    Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we are emailing you because we have reason to believe that you either followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked content from these accounts during the election period. This is purely for your own information purposes, and is not related to a security concern for your account.

  94. blf says

    Seems good, ‘Bullshit’: Canadian minister blasts lack of diversity in corporate top jobs:

    The Canadian minister responsible for science and economic development has described attempts to justify the lack of diversity in the country’s corporate leadership as “bullshit”.

    Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development, made the comments during a meeting with law students at the University of Windsor.

    “One of the issues I hear from people is, ‘Well, we just don’t have the people. We don’t have the talent. We don’t have the women. We don’t have the diversity in our corporation. We would love to promote diversity but we just can’t find the people,’” said Bains. “That’s a bunch of bullshit.”

    And very much not good, Pope Francis accuses Chilean church sexual abuse victims of slander:

    Pope Francis has accused victims of Chile’s most notorious paedophile of slander, in an astonishing end to a visit meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic church its credibility in the country.

    Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev Fernando Karadima, such accusations against Barros are all calumny.

    The pope’s remarks drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates. They noted the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of penance and prayer for his crimes in 2011.

    A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes was not lacking.

  95. Rob Grigjanis says

    Lynna @152: My favourite sign (wonder if it makes it through filters);

    No Cuntry For Old Men

  96. Rob Grigjanis says

    Lynna @152: My favourite sign didn’t make it through the local filter, so requires asterisk;

    No C*ntry For Old Men.

  97. says

    Rob @158, ha! That’s a good one.

    In shutdown news, we have additional comments from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. His comments show that Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, (who was not in the room during the Trump/Schumer negotiation), lied during the press conference yesterday.

    From Schumer:

    [….] Schumer said he “essentially agreed to give the President something he wants in exchange for something we both want” during a meeting on Friday.

    “The President picked a number for a wall,” Schumer said, referring to Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. “I accepted it.”

    The last sentence above is the part that reveals Mulvaney’s lies. Mulvaney said that Trump stated the billions needed for the wall and that Schumer refused. Mulvaney added that Schumer was not negotiating in good faith.

    After meeting with Trump on Friday, Schumer said that he floated the idea of funding the wall in exchange for continued protection for undocumented immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

    Schumer on Sunday said his accord with Trump “was only tentative, no handshakes,” and ultimately did not prevent the government shutdown.

    “It all really stems from the President, whose inability to clinch a deal has created the Trump shutdown,” Schumer said. “He can’t take yes for an answer. That’s why we’re here.”


    Several Democrats and one Republican (Lindsey Graham) have also pointed out that Republicans like Kelly and Mulvaney have redefined “bipartisan” to mean that Tom Cotton (immigration hardliner) has to be included … and that’s their excuse for Trump refusing a bipartisan deal presented by Graham and Durbin.

  98. says

    More information regarding the despicable ad that the Trump campaign is running:

    On the Sunday talk show circuit, Trump administration officials have been trying to distance themselves from a despicable television ad that began running over the weekend.

    The ad [see link for video] actually accuses Democrats of being complicit in murder. It’s difficult to watch the ad and now hear it coming directly from Trump assistant Stephen Miller’s racist mouth. It is absolutely stunningly inappropriate and downright dangerous.

    Worse, watch the reaction of Trump’s assistant and Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short on Meet the Press when Chuck Todd asks how this is helping government shutdown negotiations over Trump’s insistence on building an antiquated, inadequate wall. Short has the gall to say the ad was produced by an “outside group.” That outside group? The Donald J. Trump for President campaign. It’s made by Trump to whip up racist feelings amongst his base, apparently trying to pressure Democrats to pay for the wall Trump told us for two straight years that he would force Mexico to fund.

    In an extraordinary move, the Trump administration claims it has no control over the Trump campaign. […]


  99. says

    Follow-up to comment 160.

    Note that in that TV advert Republicans are also conflating DREAMers and undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes.

  100. says

    Greg Sargent posted a thread that shows Trump, Ryan, McConnell and others vetoed any compromises because they do not want a solution that protects Dreamers.

    This is a good thread, and it includes excerpts from other sources, like the Washington Post.

    On her show this morning, Joy Reid pointed out that not only do Republicans not want to protect Dreamers, they also want to severely restrict immigration in general. TPS holders also do not move their hardened hearts.

    They want the prevailing attitude in the U.S. to be the one displayed in that despicable ad, (see comment 160).

  101. says

    More signs from the Women’s Marches that took place in 300 cities yesterday.

    Please note the lack of Nazis at our marches.

    Super callous fascist racist sexist braggadocios.

    You’re so vain you probably think this march is about you.

    I love you no matter what and will fight for you no matter what! And if he builds a wall, I will raise my children to tear it down.

    The White House must be a “shithouse” if an asshole lives there!

    Sex offenders can’t live in government housing. [background is the White House]

  102. says

    Follow-up to comments 160 and 161.

    “In an extraordinary move, the Trump administration claims it has no control over the Trump campaign.”

    The ad literally concludes, “I’m Donald Trump and I approve this message.”

  103. says

    After months of threatening war with North Korea, insulting the leaders of North Korea, and saying that diplomacy is pointless, guess what? Trump wants credit for diplomatic progress that that has been made through the efforts of the leaders of South Korea.

    […] after North and South Korea began to make slow progress — at first only agreeing to open a phone line between them that had been closed for over two years — Trump got on the phone with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and asked that he be given credit for the thaw in diplomatic relations.

    The Post reports: “During a Jan. 4 phone call in which the South Korean leader briefed the American president on the plans for talks with North Korea, Trump asked Moon to publicly give him the credit for creating the environment for the talks, according to people familiar with the conversation.”

    It’s worth noting that this call happened the day after Seoul announced that the phone line had been re-opened, and two days after Trump boasted that his nuclear button is “much bigger & more powerful” than Kim’s nuclear button. So two days after Trump goads Kim, he pushes President Moon (which, according to The Post, he addressed as “Jae-In” — “an unimaginable informality in Korean business etiquette”), but demanded credit for the progress between Seoul and Pyongyang.

    And he got it too.

    Roughly a week later, Moon told reporters that Trump deserved “huge credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks.” He made no reference to Trump’s threats of “fire & fury” against neighboring North Korea, which is the subject of much discourse in South Korean media. […]


  104. says

    An attempt to explain why a government shutdown costs money:

    […] Budget experts and past analyses by the White House budget office have found that a shutdown hurts the U.S.’ finances in a number of ways.

    Furloughed workers almost always get paid retroactively for the time they were out—which means taxpayers are laying out money without getting any work in return.

    Museums and national parks can’t collect fees and revenues from other sources like gift shops.

    Perhaps most importantly, federal workers spend thousands of cumulative work hours preparing for the event and recovering from it, literally shutting down their systems and then restarting them once the government reopens—paid work that is utterly unnecessary to the normal business of running the country, […]

    Quantifying the exact cost to the government is difficult, in part because every shutdown is different. Between November 1995 and January 1996, the government shut down twice for a total of 27 days as Democrats and Republicans clashed over Medicare funding, among other issues. A subsequent analysis conducted by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget estimated that both shutdowns together cost the government $1.4 billion—more than $2 billion today after adjusting for inflation. […]

    There are also more abstract costs—real, but hard to measure. Lower economic growth means less money coming into the national treasury as federal workers have less money to spend and companies postpone investments, either because key economic data is delayed or simply out of uncertainty about major upcoming policy decisions.

    Small businesses don’t receive loans, research grants are delayed and federal contracts are postponed—all actions that suck money out of the economy. And the lost productivity from workers doing shutdown-prep work instead of their jobs hasn’t been calculated, but could easily total in the billions of dollars, experts believe. […]

    In a report on the consequences of the 16-day government shutdown in October 2013, the Obama administration estimated that the payroll cost alone due to retroactive pay was $2 billion, rising to $2.5 billion if you include all forms of compensation, such as workplace benefits. […]

    The Internal Revenue Service, the report found, couldn’t pursue its normal enforcement activities during the shutdown, which typically bring in roughly $1 billion a week. More popular government agencies took smaller but meaningful hits: The National Park Service missed $7 million in fees; the Smithsonian lost $4 million. […]


  105. says

    This article recently added to my views about gossip. For a while I had primarily been describing it as a bad thing and using that as a tool to pressure people criticizing accusers of harassment, abuse and bigotry to put up or shut up while also pointing out problems with their conduct. But Glenn Close made me see how gossip is a neutral (I love it when this happens) and that while it’s good to be able to pressure and call-out very concerned swarms, it also relates to the whisper networks and whistle blowing.

    Fortunately it’s not a matter of changing strategy, it’s a matter if adding to it and development of new rhetoric from what I’ve experienced so far.

    Glenn Close on the Weinstein Effect and Why Gossip Is Good by Rich Juzwiak

  106. says

    This seems essentially correct. If after basically agreeing to a good-faith, authentic approach the Republicans renege, it will be even more patent that they are the ones blocking legislative action and harming the Dreamers when a vast majority of the public wants bills put up for a vote and supports protecting the Dreamers.

  107. says

    “GOP relies on Russian bots to falsely smear Democrats during shutdown fight”:

    Poll after poll shows Americans blame Republicans for shutting down the federal government. But if the GOP is looking for any consolation, they at least appear to have Russian bots on their side.

    Russian-influenced Twitter accounts have gone all in trying to help Republicans and the White House promote the #SchumerShutdown hashtag in a desperate attempt to shift the blame for the shutdown to Democrats.

    “#SchumerShutdown ― the hashtag that GOP leaders and the White House are using to accuse Democrats of causing the shutdown ― on Sunday night became the top trending hashtag being promoted by Russian bots and trolls on Twitter, according to the Alliance for Securing Democracy,” HuffPost reports.

    It’s all part of a larger, disturbing trend in which Republicans now regularly rely on operatives in foreign countries to drive the GOP’s domestic messaging via social media.

    Indeed, the second most popular Russian bot hashtag is part of another GOP messaging campaign. That one is aimed at vilifying the FBI while special counsel Robert Mueller probes Donald Trump’s Russian ties during the 2016 campaign, and whether Trump obstructed justice in 2017 trying to cover up the potential collusion.

    Despite its attempt to attack Schumer on Twitter, and despite the White House’s aggressive support from Russian bots, it was the #TrumpShutdown hashtag that reigned as the No. 1 hashtag worldwide over the weekend, as that message careened around the globe….

  108. says

    The Senate has 51 Republicans. To get a veto-proof bill, they would need to get at least 15 Democrats, but probably more like 19 or 20 to account for the tea party right wingers in the R caucus who would probably vote no at all costs and the cowardly flip-floppers who might bail.

    That means they need a bill that gets more than the Joe Manchins and Heidi Heitkamps. They have to eat into the caucus that includes potential 2020 candidates. That would need to be a pretty generous bill.

    What activists will do if they are smart is immediately move forward from the #TrumpShutdown. Let Republicans go on cable TV and pretend this worked out well for them, which is absurd. FOCUS ON WHAT WILL BE IN THAT BILL. Make Democrats cut a smart, good deal.

    Civil rights activists fought like hell to get a solid civil rights bill… in 1957. They wound up with a half-bill. Then they went back on the battlefield and vote for a comprehensive civil and voting rights bill in 1963. JFK was taking too long so they marched on Washington.

    After JFK’s assassination, LBJ finally delivered a bipartisan civil rights bill in 1964, but with the teeth cut out of the voting rights section to get it past the insane right wing southern Democrats. Civil rights activists didn’t sulk.

    They went back on the battlefield in Selma and fought for a voting rights bill in 1965. Somebody ask @repjohnlewis about it. He’ll tell you! Activism is long, hard work. The battles you win will seem small in the moment.

    But the key is to not ever let the other side convince you they’re winning when they are not. Compassionate Americans just won a small but important battle. The CHIP hostages are freed. There is a chance for an immigration bill.

    Keep pushing the party that is the most open to your influence and keep fighting the other side like hell. Seriously, this is how this kind of a fight works. Just some advice from a history buff.

  109. says

    SC @176 and 177, I think Joy Reid is right when describes the attitude that progressives need to get immigration reform that protects DACA recipients: “back on the battlefield!”

    SC @175, you would think that Republicans would be embarrassed to always have the Russian bots on their side, but no. Maybe some of them are so ill-informed that they don’t realize that Russian bots are still boosting their partisan and ridiculous claims?

    SC @159, McConnell’s fake outrage was making me sick. I had to stop watching him. I wonder, though, if he is finally done, if his career in the senate is now over. From my point of view, his cynical manipulations of the negotiation process and his crocodile tears have damaged his standing. Maybe his constituents will vote him out.

    Trump certainly came off looking like a dolt.

  110. says

    Whoops. In comment 179, I meant to refer to SC’s comment 169, (not 159).

    As you all probably know by now, the Senate passed a bill to end the shutdown. Now that bill goes to the House. The shutdown lasted for three days, mercifully brief.

    We will face another shutdown on February 8 if Congress critters don’t get their act together before that. The bill that just passed the Senate is a stopgap measure.

    The concession that Democrats got was a promise from Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on an immigration bill, or at the very least, a DACA bill. We still don’t know what kind of shenanigans the Republicans will pull to alter immigration agreements or the DACA agreement. We still don’t know what kind of shenanigans that Trump and his posse (Tom Cotton, Stephen Miller, etc.) will engage in to gum up the works. We still don’t know that any future bills passed by the Senate will pass the House. A baby step has been taken in the right direction. Republicans can’t hold renewal of CHIP over the heads of Democrats like a sword. That’s done. The renewal passed.

    CHIP recipients also need rural hospitals, community health centers and other aspects of the health care system to work. Right now, there are funding gaps that make care for CHIP recipients still shaky.

  111. says

    Mike Pence mindlessly defended Hair Furor … again.

    I know the president’s heart and I know that what President Trump wants to do is reform immigration to make our system one that puts the interests of America first. [Immigrants should be considered on their merits] regardless of what country they come from or what their race and creed is.

    That’s Pence’s weak defense of Trump’s “shithole” remarks.

    Pence also defended Trump against the story told by Stormy Daniels by saying:

    I’m just not going to comment on the latest baseless allegations against the president. My focus is on serving the president, advancing the priorities of the administration, advancing American interests and that’s where it will stay.

    The allegations aren’t “baseless.”

  112. says

    International response to the shutdown:

    From El Universal, Mexico’s largest paper,

    No president until now has suffered a “shutdown’” when their party controls both houses of Congress. Trump is the first.

    From Ed Luce, writing for Britain’s Financial Times,

    Mr. Trump vowed he would be a dealmaker — that was his main selling point. Yet he has a habit of wriggling out of any oral deal he has struck. In addition to being unable to uphold a deal with Democrats, Mr Trump disagrees with crucial White House officials. The president’s own people are in a state of rolling confusion about what he wants.

    From Le Figaro,

    If the shutdown is suspended today, the Democrats will have showed, during the weekend of the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s entry into the White House, that Republicans who control both chambers of Congress aren’t capable of doing the first task of a government: to vote to fund the essential functions of the state.

    From China’s state-run Xinhua News Service,

    The Western democratic system is hailed by the developed world as near perfect and the most superior political system to run a country.

    [“chronic flaws” were also noted by Xinhua News]

    Russian’s English-language propaganda outlet, RT, interviewed Patrick Henningsen of Infowars. Henningsen claimed that the shutdown was a Democratic ploy to distract from their (not Trump’s) ties to Russia. Henningsen added,

    The US is bankrupt as a country. They should be in receivership right now.

  113. says

    This is a good statement from Kamala Harris.

    I don’t think anyone trusts McConnell, Ryan, or Trump. That could well be part of what Schumer and others are counting on, given their weak structural position. During the election, the media went on and on about how any bit of bullshit, regardless of its insignificance or even falsity, fed the “narrative” that she was secretive and untrustworthy (vs., of course, Trump). Much of that narrative was itself bogus rightwing spin, but in contrast the narrative about McConnell is completely grounded in facts. He’s a hyper-partisan liar and cheater with like a 13% public approval rating. Ryan and Trump are similarly distrusted, and the narrative around all of them is that they’re willing to destroy the system for their own partisan advantage.

    They’re now in a position in which anything sleazy they do, and they will do it, will feed this accurate narrative and arouse public anger. Even if McConnell manages to “trick” Democrats (and many Republicans) through unclear language or some other trickery, the vast majority of the public will fucking hate him even more. People don’t want skullduggery and secret deals; they want public, respectful, good-faith debate. And they want legislators to protect the Dreamers. The media, of course, won’t talk about these Republican assholes in the language of feeding narratives, but we will. And we’ll be right to.

  114. says

    “Watchdog Group Claims Reported Hush Money To Porn Star Violates Election Law”: “In a letter accompanying the complaint* Monday, Common Cause’s vice president for policy and litigation, Paul S. Ryan, asserted that the reported hush money ‘was an unreported in-kind contribution to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., and an unreported expenditure by the committee — because the funds were paid for the purpose of influencing the 2016 president general election — in violation of the campaign finance reporting requirements’ required by law.”

    * Filed with the FEC and DoJ.

  115. says

    SC @184, one of the commenters on that page noted that restricting legal immigration so much will encourage U.S. corporations to move their operations out of the U.S. They will move to countries were it is easier to recruit a workforce. (Farmers can’t move, so they’ll be hard hit.)

    There is very little policy here that would be in line with past Republican talking points of keeping families together.

    Yes, the Trump administration is shooting themselves in the foot again.

  116. says

    Further to #183 –

    This is all occurring in the wake of the Wolff book, and Trump’s behavior has only reinforced that narrative. Even several Republicans, including McConnell, have gone on record talking about Trump’s inability to negotiate in any competent manner and how manipulable and mercurial he is. Additionally, his plainly racist comments further cement the narrative that he’s both so racist himself and so taken with racist extremists that he can’t honestly work toward any but racist and unpopular immigration policies. Anything he does in the next few weeks that reinforces those narratives will work against him.

  117. says

    From Ezra Klein:

    Here are some thoughts on today’s three-week deal in Congress to reopen the government, take a vote on an unspecified immigration bill, and fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years:

    1) There’s a rollicking debate on Twitter over whether Democrats “caved.” I’ll confess that I’m mystified by this argument. For the moment, this seems like a good deal — but it’s impossible to say anything definitive without knowing what happens over the next three weeks.

    2) […] We don’t know what immigration bill, or bills, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will bring to the Senate floor. We don’t know if any immigration compromise passes the Senate. We don’t know if an immigration bill that passes the Senate will get a vote in the House. Even if it does get a vote in the House, we don’t know if it’ll pass. And if it does pass, we don’t know if Trump will sign it.

    3) […] If Democrats get a fair vote in the House and Senate on an immigration deal and it doesn’t pass, will they shut the government down again in three weeks? Put differently, is this a deal about a fair process or about a particular outcome? If Democrats don’t get a deal and they shut the government back down in three weeks, it’s hard to see what was lost here.

    4) Democratic opponents of the deal believe that an extended shutdown increases the likelihood of a DREAMer compromise. But does it? That is to say that an extended shutdown will cause Trump so much political or personal pain that he will accept one of the immigration compromises he has thus far rejected. Neither dynamic is obvious to me.

    5) Politically, Trump’s entire brand is anti-immigration politics, and if there is round-the-clock news coverage of a shutdown over immigration, he’ll think it’s good for his base. […]

    6) […] To the extent there’s an open path in which an immigration deal can be negotiated and brought to a vote with the government still open, that’s a good thing.

    7) One counterargument: Sen. McConnell’s word hasn’t been worth much this year. Just ask Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Jeff Flake (AZ), fellow Republicans who were promised health and immigration policies in return for their tax votes. In this case, though, if McConnell reneges on the deal, Democrats simply shut down the government in three weeks. They haven’t lost that leverage.

    8) And if Democrats do need to shut down the government in three weeks, they’ll do so with the Children’s Health Insurance Program funded for six years, rather than seeing it weaponized against them. […]

    11) […] If Republicans are going to use the basic functioning of the government as leverage, then Democrats have to do so, too.

    12) […] consequences disastrous. If hostage-taking becomes normalized in American politics, then there’s really no end to the cycle of escalation, and it’s going to finish with a global economic crisis because we breached the debt ceiling, or worse.

    13) The central political problem in American life, for years now, has been that the Republican Party is a dysfunctional institution that has abandoned principles of decent governance in order to please an ever-more extreme base. I don’t have an answer for fixing that. But it would be doubly bad if their outrageous behavior drives Democrats to use the same tactics in response. American politics is, hopefully, an infinite game, not a finite game, and that means doing everything possible to steer away from retaliatory loops that clearly lead to the system crumbling.

  118. says

    Ivanka Seeking New Babysitter For Daddy, Because John Kelly Is Jerk President

    It has been decided by Acting First Lady Ivanka Trump that President John Kelly is mean and bad, and she would like to find a new person to be Daddy’s so-called “Chief Of Staff”/adult daycare babysitter. […] President Kelly keeps going on TV and subtly alluding to how Daddy is very stupid and has a bad brain and doesn’t understand literally anything. […]

    From Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair:

    […] Last week, Kelly reportedly infuriated Trump when he told Fox News that Trump had “evolved” on his position to build a southern border wall. Kelly further catalyzed Trump’s ire when he told Democratic lawmakers that Trump was “uninformed” when he made his campaign promise to build the wall. […]

    “The more Kelly plays up that he’s being the adult in the room — that it’s basically combat duty and he’s serving the country — that kind of thing drives Trump nuts,” a Republican close to the White House said. In recent days, Trump has fumed to friends that Kelly acts like he’s running the government while Trump tweets and watches television. “I’ve got another nut job here who thinks he’s running things,” Trump told one friend, according to a Republican briefed on the call. A second source confirmed that Trump has vented about Kelly, mentioning one call in which Trump said, “This guy thinks he’s running the show.” […]

  119. says

    Jon Favreau: “Temporary government shutdowns are bad and stem from political dysfunction. But the source of that dysfunction for at least a decade has been the fact that lawmaking in America is held hostage to the whims of the most right-wing House Republicans.”

  120. says

    Re #195 – as I understand it, the provision only lasts the length of the CR (hard to know how much mischief they can do in that time, though). Pretty amazing that they’re going to risk alienating Burr, and potentially other Republican members of Senate Intel, at this moment.

  121. tomh says

    Here’s how you get around the FCC on net neutrality. On Monday, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana signed an executive order that will bar any internet service provider that does business with the state from blocking or charging more for faster delivery of websites. Most major landline and mobile broadband providers, including Charter, CenturyLink, AT&T and Verizon, hold government contracts in the state.
    NYT Link

  122. says

    Top and trending hashtags deployed by Kremlin bots and trolls (who are out in force) right now include: “schumershutdown,” “schumersurrender,” “schumersellout,” “nodaca,” “daca,” “nodacaamnesty,” “releasethememo,” and “findthetexts.”

  123. says

    I think a major reason Dems took the deal today is they are worried abt the breakdown of the institutions of our democracy, and didn’t want to contribute to the chaos. Was about more than immigration. Also about the struggle of being a responsible patriot in the age of Trump.”

    I think this is true. I also think it’s true that there needs to be a direct-action plan to physically resist/block efforts to deport Dreamers if it comes to that. That’s not something politicians, in their role as politicians, can do. It is something citizens can do.

  124. says

    Update to #132 – I need to check my emails more frequently, but I did manage to get to my local event.* And to go through the car wash, get gas, put air in a tire (OK, the nice guy at the gas station did that), and still make it on time to meet a friend to see The Post (which I recommend) and have a nice dinner. So I’m proud of pulling that off, but regret not getting the date right on here and with people in my life.

    Sorry for failing in my responsibility to inform. :(

    * The signs were, if anything, better than last year’s. I was especially choked up at the ones carried by little girls.

  125. says

    #inners @chrislhayes you forgot to mention that McConnell said ‘so long as the govt remains open’. Those 7 little words were intentional & part of McConnell’s escape clause.”

    I caught this earlier. My point @ #183 is that the among the US public (not to mention a not-insignificant portion of Republican Senators) the appetite for such “escape clauses” and linguistic or political shenanigans is ZERO. It is seriously the least propitious moment for McConnell to pull any of his tricks. Much less to start trying to deport Dreamers.

  126. says

    Remember when Lindsey Graham was sucking up to Trump so obviously that we were wondering if Graham was being blackmailed? That was recent news.

    Now that Graham is no longer publicly sucking up in such an obvious way, we see how the “loyalty” equation works for Trump.

    […] [In the recent past] Graham attacked the press for its criticisms of Trump. Graham promoted conspiracy theories and anti-Clinton nonsense that Trump was likely to favor. Graham pressed the Justice Department to go after the author of the Trump/Russia dossier. Graham golfed with Trump and bragged about how nice Trump’s course was. Even after Graham heard Trump condemn immigrants from, in the president’s words, “shithole countries,” the GOP bit his tongue and refused to publicly acknowledge what we knew to be true.

    And yet, in Trump World, Graham’s loyalty is worth effectively nothing. Politico noted last night:

    Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) “were completely dishonest” in their negotiations on immigration with President Donald Trump, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Monday. […]

    The White House official added, “To pretend [Graham[ is anything other than someone who wants open borders and amnesty is just disingenuous.”

    […] Yesterday, in apparent reference to Graham, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added, “It is almost appalling to me that you have a senator that isn’t stepping up, doing the right thing.”

    From Brian Beutler at Crooked:

    The Lindsey Graham Theory of Groveling suffers from two obvious weaknesses that, when combined, fatally undermine it. First, Graham isn’t the only powerful person who seeks to curry favor with Trump by sucking up to him and abetting his misconduct. Second – in both the retelling of those around him, and in a recent, televised meeting with lawmakers at the White House – Trump has proven to be wildly manipulable, careening between incompatible positions whenever he engages new stakeholders. Trump is regularly driven to undermine his administration by Fox News hosts, who know Trump mindlessly live tweets their shows, and thus tailor their programming to influence administration policy and messaging.

    Graham has thus humiliated himself for the most fleeting of rewards: convincing Trump of things that a person with less heterodox views can unconvince him of just as quickly.

    More from Steve Benen:

    I’d just add that nearly everyone who tries to curry favor with Trump seems to forget the limits of his loyalty. […]

    The president has made clear he sees loyalty as something he expects to receive, not bestow. […] Let this be a lesson to others who follow the senator’s path: loyalty to Trump will go unrewarded.


  127. says

    Not a good thing, not ethical at all.

    From Senator Lamar Alexander:

    I enjoyed having dinner tonight at the home of Senator John Cornyn and his wife Sandy with our newest Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, Transportation Secretary Chao and a few of my other Senate colleagues to talk about important issues facing our country.

    From Nina Totenberg of NPR:

    People often ask NPR’s Totenberg, who has known many of the justices for decades, for advice. “My experience is that people don’t really understand what they can’t talk about,” she says. “I tell them, ‘You can’t talk about a case or an issue that might come before the court. You talk about life—kids, music, movies—the things normal people talk about.'”

    Gorsuch seems to think the norms don’t apply to him. Discussing the “issues of the day” with a bunch hard rightwing doofuses is not a thing he should be doing. Furthermore, Gorsuch attended that dinner the day before the Supreme Court announced it will expedite its review of a lower court ruling that put a stay on Trump’s efforts to kill DACA, (with a view to reinstating the kill-DACA order). Some Supreme Court watchers are now calling for Gorsuch to recuse himself.

    Last November, Gorsuch gave a keynote speech at an event in Trump’s hotel in Washington D.C. That too looked like unethical behavior for a Supreme Court justice.

    Gorsuch can be impeached if he continues to exhibit a belief that he is should favor Trump’s policies no matter what.

  128. says

    Sessions was interviewed by Mueller’s team last week.

    (I hate the way cable news covers this ongoing story. They quote Trump’s smear about Holder “protecting” Obama for unspecified crimes without any sort of pushback. They cover Trump’s acrimonious relationship with Sessions due to Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe and all of his attempts to interfere with the investigation and the FBI like it’s some sort of palace gossip, rather than evidence of obstruction, continuation of the original conspiracy, and consciousness of guilt.)

  129. says

    This was Trump’s official position, as stated by his attorney Sherri Dillon, in January 2017:

    Just like with conflicts of interest, he wants to do more than what the Constitution requires. So President-elect Trump has decided, and we are announcing today, that he is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the United States Treasury. This way it is the American people who will profit.

    Nope. No profits were donated.

    From CBS:

    Today, after a year in which groups associated with Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Kuwait have booked rooms, hosted events and spent thousands of dollars at the president’s hotel in Washington, no such payments to the Treasury have been made. Trump officials, who have openly questioned how closely they should scrutinize their guests, initially pledged to make a payment at the end of 2017 and now say they would have “information to share” near the end of next month. […]

    Since his inauguration a year ago, the Trump Organization has secured dozens of trademarks from foreign governments, pursued possible projects in Scotland and the Dominican Republic, enjoyed free publicity from Trump’s frequent visits to his resorts, raked in big profits from lobbyists and power brokers at his Washington hotel, and launched two hotel chains.

    “My overall ethics grade for the Trump administration is an F,” said ethics lawyer Kathleen Clark of Washington University School of Law in St. Louis.

  130. says

    “Dems Ask FB, Twitter To Probe If Russian Bots Boosted Nunes’ Memo Hashtag”:

    California Democrats Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff are asking Twitter and Facebook to probe whether a hashtag promoting the release of a classified memo compiled by Republicans was propagated by Russian bots.

    In a letter sent to the two companies’ CEOs Tuesday, Schiff and Feinstein asked the social media giants for “urgent assistance” in “our efforts to counter Russia’s continuing efforts to manipulate public opinion.”

    The memo in question was authored by Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) staffers….

  131. says

    Oh, FFS.

    A Democratic Mississippi state lawmaker has proposed a new bill to place the Ten Commandments in every school. It’s clearly unconstitutional.

    Last week, State Rep. Credell Calhoun (D) introduced House Bill 1100, which would imposes three related requirements on schools, only one of which would actually be allowed under the U.S. Constitution:

    – Every school board must require a 60-second moment of reflection at the beginning of each school day.

    – In every classroom, school, auditorium, and cafeteria, there must be posted an 11×14 (minimum) display featuring the Ten Commandments and the U.S. motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST.”

    – Every morning, teachers must recite the Ten Commandments aloud at the beginning of the first hour of class, though any student or teacher who objects must be excused without penalty. […]


    And these are Democratic Party legislators? Recite the Ten Commandments!?

    The 60 seconds of silence for reflection is allowed.

  132. says

    ‘Reopen The Government’ Just Another Word For ‘Fuck With The ACA Some More’

    Since the government needed to be funded for another three weeks, Congress decided to slip some additional tax cuts into the continuing resolution, because December’s $1.5 trillion tax cut clearly wasn’t enough. The cuts, which were also included in the four-week CR before the shutdown, will delay three health-care taxes that nobody likes in the Affordable Care Act. […] Not enacting the taxes will add $31 billion to the deficit, but suddenly Republicans don’t care about deficits anyway.

    […] the three taxes that will be put on hold again were all originally included in the ACA to offset the costs of subsidizing premiums for low-income people buying insurance on the exchanges. One, the medical device tax, has been unpopular with Republicans because it’s a tax and part of Obamacare, but also disliked by many Democrats from states where medical device manufacturers have their headquarters, like Massachusetts. Yes, this IS why we need single payer and strict cost controls on the health-industrial complex, and also why getting to single payer will be hard even when Dems are in power. That tax will be delayed for two years; it had technically gone into effect this year, but no tax had yet been due since, as you may have noticed, it’s still January. […]

    In conclusion, your government is open again and our healthcare system still needs surgery, the end.

  133. says

    This is interesting about Wray. I was suspicious of him because Trump and his minions seemed so happy with the choice, and I feared they might have some secret knowledge that he would do their bidding. But it could just be typical Trump stupidity: Wray made it pretty clear during his confirmation hearing that he was unhappy with Comey’s decisions about talking publicly about the Clinton investigation, and probably said similar things during his interview, so Trump probably thought he was on the anti-Comey team which to him was the same as being on his team.* As I’ve said in the past, Trump’s psychological problems leave him with a limited capacity to deal intelligently with people whose motives don’t fit with his warped view of the world.

    * Ironically, Wray might possibly have reacted so strongly to Comey’s actions because of his admiration of Comey.

  134. says

    From Heather Digby Parton:

    […] Miller isn’t pulling Trump’s strings. Nor is he obsequiously flattering him like a loyal servant, à la Lindsey Graham, which Trump likes but doesn’t respect. Miller is “mirroring” Trump, which to the president is the best sign of respectful submission. The people in the Trump orbit who figure that out will be the ones with the most influence. The only person Trump will ever trust is someone who reminds him of himself.

  135. says

    “Female journalists covering Pence in Israel forced to stand behind male colleagues”:

    If there’s one thing female journalists covering the trip of Vice President Pence to Israel will remember it is the “special treatment” they received, first by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security detail and second, in their “unique” vantage point while covering Pence’s visit to the Western Wall on Tuesday.

    At Netanyahu’s office on Monday morning, a visiting female journalist from Finland’s state television was asked to remove her bra during an overly zealous and demeaning security check. When she refused, she was prevented from covering Pence’s news conference with Netanyahu.

    Then, on Tuesday, female journalists were particularly perturbed to discover that they had been relegated to covering Pence’s spiritual stop at the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites, from the other side of a fence.

    The Western Wall — the outer wall of the raised esplanade that is called the Temple Mount by Jews and al-Haram al-Sharif by Muslims — is currently under the authority of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Western Wall Heritage Foundation….

    Tal Schneider, a prominent Israeli journalist, tweeted: “Separation at the Western Wall. The women stuck in isolation and can not photograph, work. Women journalists are second-class citizens. The American women photographers are frantically yelling at the representatives of the White House. #PenceFence

    The Western Wall has been the site of controversy in recent years as a growing number of Jewish groups, including reform and conservative streams from the United States, have demanded the creation of an egalitarian space to allow for mixed-gender prayer.

    Under the management of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, women are not permitted to read aloud from the Torah, or wear prayer shawls or sing there. Joint services with men and women together are also not allowed….

    Why do the male journalists and the news organizations go along with this?

  136. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] being in the minority is difficult. You have no power. Fights take a long time. The worst thing Democrats can do is fall into the old pattern of garment-rending and self-flagellation. […]

    it’s a deflating end to the stand-off … for now. I flag this result to keep us focused on the reality of the situation, which is that Republicans took the lion’s share of the blame for what happened. In many ways, the result simply mirrors current national divisions – pro-Trump vs anti-Trump, which the former groups are, at present, decisively losing. The big picture is that this is one skirmish in what will be a long drawn out battle because the Democrats have little power at least until the result of the next election.

  137. says

    SC @219, “Why do the male journalists and the news organizations go along with this?” Exactly! That’s what I was thinking. No journalist with any self-respect should go along with such an obviously second-class-citizen treatment of women.

    In other news, there’s an update on the Nunes’ memo:

    The ranking Democratic member on the House Judiciary Committee is asking the committee’s chairman to turn over Rep. Devin Nunes’ staff’s classified memo to the Department of Justice, the FBI and the rest of the House Judiciary Committee.

    In a letter to Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Rep. Jerrold Nadler called the memo “profoundly misleading” and a “conspiracy theory.” He claimed the document is causing “too many of our colleagues” to construct “their own version of history.”

    The memo in question was authored by Nunes’ staffers, and it reportedly contains classified information about the conduct of senior Department of Justice and FBI officials, that allegedly proves Republicans’ claims of the Justice Department’s bias against President Donald Trump.

    Nadler said it was “profoundly unfair” that the memo hasn’t been given to the FBI or the Justice Department and said it was the Judiciary Committee’s responsibility to help those agencies “formulate a meaningful response” to the accusations in the memo. […]


    The memo update is a follow-up to comments 65, 75, 90, 211, and 215.

  138. says

    Rightwing House Republicans are harassing scientists.

    Ever since the House Science Committee was taken over by the likes of Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, it has been using its powers to harass scientists, protect the oil and gas industry from climate change culpability, and generally attack the reasons we are supposed to have a House Science Committee in the first place.

    Now Smith and Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs—best known for being booed offstage by his constituents for denying climate change science—have decided to go after a government scientist for … practicing science. Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, wrote an editorial called “Regulating toxic chemicals for public and environmental health” last month. In it she and co-author Liza Gross give a history of regulations in the United States since President Gerald Ford signed the United States Toxic Substances Control Act in the fall of 1976. […]

    Birnbaum’s conclusions are that the U.S. is not keeping pace with scientific advancement, leaving potentially hazardous chemicals unregulated.

    Reps. Lamar Smith and Andy Biggs want to investigate! Not the science. No, that would be doing their jobs. Instead, they want to investigate director Birnbaum for being an unpaid lobbyist for Big Environmentalism. […]

    As The Intercept points out, Reps. Smith and Biggs aren’t the first set of Republicans to go after Birnbaum for being all into science and evidence and facts and protecting people. […]


  139. says

    Pence and Trump are fucking up international relations … again.

    […] While in Jerusalem Pence also told the Israeli parliament and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin that Trump said he will pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal unless it is fixed, which shines a light on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s mission in Europe now, where he is focusing on getting European partners to renegotiate the 2015 deal in President Trump’s vision.

    To recap: The agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed between Iran, the United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia, France, and Germany in 2015. Under the terms of the deal, Iran reduces its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent while submitting to frequent and stringent U.N. inspections in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran has always insisted that it is not pursing a nuclear bomb and what President Trump wants is a guarantee that this will never be the case, that the current terms of the deal — good for another 13 years — will be tightened and turned into a forever deal that will also include Iran’s ballistic missile program.

    But the European partners — onto whom Trump has transferred the burden of renegotiation — have no appetite for this. The day before President Trump said he was granting sanctions waivers to Iran for the last time, those same European partners met with Iran to affirm their commitment to the deal.

    French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has already said that “signatories must stand by their word” on the deal.

    “If it is respected by Iran — which is what the IAEA says, and we don’t have any reason not to believe it — the signatories must stand by their word,” said Le Drian, according to the Associated Press. “Because when an agreement is signed, each signatory must respect it. He (Tillerson) knows it.” […]


  140. says

    “‘I won’t fly refugees to their deaths’: The El Al pilots resisting deportation”:

    At least three El Al pilots in recent days published public declarations of their refusal to take part in the deportation of asylum seekers to countries where their lives may be in danger.

    …In the first nine months of 2017, over 200 deportations of asylum seekers “failed” because German pilots for Lufthansa and its subsidiary, Eurowings, refused to take off with them on board, declaring that flight safety could be compromised if someone says they do not want to take the flight. In the UK last summer, a Turkish Airlines pilot refused to take off upon learning that a refugee was being deported against his will to Afghanistan.

    In recent weeks the Israeli government approved the deportation of refugees to third countries. According to the plan, the Holot desert detention facility, where many asylum seekers are held, will shut down and those who refuse to leave “voluntarily” to Rwanda and Uganda (and perhaps other countries) will be imprisoned indefinitely….

    The agreements between Israel and those two African countries are not new. For years now Israel has paid asylum seekers to leave to Rwanda and Uganda. Despite Israel’s promises that those who agree to leave won’t be in danger, hundreds of testimonies demonstrate that they are not actually given any status or remain welcome in those countries. Instead, they are forced into yet another life-threatening journey. They are vulnerable to exploitation and humiliation, human trafficking, frequent arrests, demands for bribes, and threats. Some of them fall victim to kidnapping gangs, some into the hands of ISIS, and many choose to risk their lives trying to make it to Europe by boat….

  141. says

    Actually, DREAMers don’t have until March 5

    For months, the White House has pushed a false talking point that March 5, 2018 is the key deadline to pass a permanent congressional solution to ensure a group of Dreamers do not fall at risk of deportation.

    But that date doesn’t actually mean anything.

    […] The administration gave current recipients whose DACA statuses expired before March 5, 2018 — about 154,000 eligible people according to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statistics — exactly one month to file for a two-year renewal. The administration then punted the issue to Congress to find a permanent solution. […]

    “No one will lose their status until March 5 or later, depending on what happens with the court,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said last week during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

    The facts on the ground say otherwise.

    The White House’s March 5 deadline became immediately irrelevant when a court injunction earlier this month partially reinstated the DACA renewal process, with a federal judge ordering the DHS to process all current DACA applications. The injunction prohibited first-time DACA applicants to apply for the program. Current DACA recipients whose permits have expired or may expire soon were thus able to reapply for a two-year extension of their permit.

    [B]etween 21,000 and 22,000 DACA recipients failed to submit their renewal applications in the one-month period following the White House announcement to end the program. […] some likely missed the deadline due to the devastating hurricanes in Florida and Texas. Others missed the deadline because the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency left their applications in the mailbox. The Trump administration eventually reversed its decision and allowed applications received by October 5, 2017 to be processed.

    The estimated number of people who have lost DACA since September 2017 stands at 17,017, […] with an average of 122 people losing their statuses every day. […] the government has a way of slowing down the process as it did during the one-month renewal period between September and October 2017.

    By virtue of their statuses, DACA recipients ostensibly have lawful presence in the country. But federal immigration agents are still detaining them. When recipients with expired DACA statuses are in the process of renewing their applications, they can still be at risk of deportation. Mario, a 23-year-old construction worker and Virginia resident who was in the middle of applying for DACA status for the third time, was deported to El Salvador in August 2017. […]

  142. says

    Another result of Trump’s ineptitude when it comes to foreign policy:

    A top Al Qaeda leader in Yemen is calling on Muslims to kill Jews and Americans, saying President Trump’s declared a “new Jewish-Crusader war” with his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

    “Let them (Muslims) rise and attack the Jews and the Americans everywhere,” said Khalid Batarfi in a video that surfaced Monday, AFP reported. “No Muslim has the right to cede Jerusalem no matter what happens. Only a traitor would give it up or hand it over.”

    Batarfi also said in the video, entitled “Our Duty Toward Jerusalem,” that Muslims must “liberate” the holy city.

    Trump in December announced that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and said the U.S. would eventually move its embassy there from Tel Aviv. […]


  143. says

    From Amy Sorkin, a skeptical look at Trump’s planned trip to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting:

    […] The [W.E.F.]report notes that, in addition to such globally devastating acts as the decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, Trump has exemplified the rise of “charismatic strongman politics,” which has contributed to a “febrile” geopolitical environment. Among other things, the report says, this bending of policies to oversized personalities has increased the likelihood of a nuclear confrontation with North Korea. If you are in Davos to assess risk, in other words, just look for Trump. Attended by eight Cabinet members, he’ll be hard to miss.

    […] This Davos meeting, the forty-eighth, will involve some three thousand participants, more than half of them from the private sector: “members” of the W.E.F., who pay dues and are drawn from the world’s thousand largest companies, in revenues, and “partners,” at various levels, who pay a bit more to take part. They, along with invitees from the public sector, N.G.O.s, and the arts, are meant to shape “global, regional, and industry agendas.” About eighty per cent of the invitees are men.

    […] several heads of African nations will be there, it [the program guide] does not name all the leaders who will have a chance to meet the man who called their countries “shitholes.” The leaders of various Muslim and Latin American nations, whom Trump has also belittled, will be present, too. […]

    It’s easy to imagine this year’s meeting playing out as scenes from a very dark screwball comedy: Trump tries to shake a gaggle of allies whom he has called deadbeats, in order to persuade Erna Solberg, the Prime Minister of Norway, to send more white people to America. But on the way he sees the French President, Emmanuel Macron, whose capital he has declared ruined by immigrant terrorists, then bumps into Mexico’s finance secretary, with whom he gets into a fight about paying for the wall. For a respite, Trump scans the room for Vladimir Putin, but, alas, the Russian President hasn’t been seen at Davos since 2009.

    […] Davos also celebrates the idea of negotiated solutions, such as the Iran nuclear agreement, which Trump has been seeking to undo.

    […] Though the social entrepreneurs and human-rights advocates in attendance might recoil from the idea, Davos in some ways really is Trump’s kind of place. Hobnobbing at an exclusive club in a resort town? […] a Mar-a-Lago in the mountains. […]

    Some Davos attendees might not wait for America to be the world’s leader again. As Trump expounds from the stage, they may find themselves thinking about how long they’ll need to keep listening.

  144. says

    “Republicans launch extraordinary new tactics to protect Trump on Russia”:

    …In an interview with me this morning, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) — who is Nunes’s Democratic counterpart on the House Intelligence Committee — pushed back hard, alleging that the memo presents a profoundly doctored picture of what the classified information actually shows.

    “It’s highly distorted spin by Nunes,” Schiff told me. “The Nunes spin memo distorts the underlying materials and has presented Members with a very misleading impression of what those materials show.”

    Schiff also made a striking claim: He said that in allowing the memo to be accessed in a classified setting by House Republicans, Nunes has violated an agreement with the FBI and the Justice Department. Schiff added that its public release would also violate that agreement….

    “The release of the materials by the chairman violated an agreement he entered into with the FBI and the Department of Justice,” Schiff told me, in a reference to the release of the memo to the membership of the House for reading. “The agreement was because of the sensitivity of the materials to limit their distribution,” Schiff also said. “There were certain conditions attached to the viewing of the materials which have been violated.”

    Asked if it would violate the agreement if the memo were to be released publicly, Schiff said: “Of course.” He added that this was revealing that there may be “no limit” to “how far Nunes and the majority are willing to go to protect the president from the Russia investigation.”

    Schiff declined to go into more detail. But he also told me that he’d offered a motion on the committee that would delay the release of the memo until all its members could get access to the underlying material, but Republicans voted it down on party lines.

    “That’s pretty telling,” Schiff said….

  145. says

    Trump is using lower level attorneys in the Department of Justice to advance his agenda.

    Amid last week’s controversy over the Trump administration’s misleading report on terrorism and immigration, some Department of Justice (DOJ) veterans were deeply troubled by something else: A Justice Department lawyer was once again briefing reporters from behind the podium in the White House press briefing room.

    The appearance by Ed O’Callaghan, a principal deputy assistant attorney general for national security, and a former member of the Trump transition team, was at least the third time under the Trump administration that a relatively obscure DOJ political appointee has briefed reporters from the White House podium on an issue touching on illegal immigration,[…]

    During the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, no Justice Department official aside from the attorney general briefed reporters from the White House podium, […] The three times an attorney general did appear before press from the White House were on 9/11/2001 and twice more in the six weeks following. […]

    Another former DOJ official, who asked not to be named, said the practice of using DOJ officials to brief the press suggests the administration has no problem using government lawyers to advance its agenda.

    “I think we’re past the point of the administration not knowing where the boundaries are,” said one, who asked not to be named. “By this point it seems like the administration knows where they are and it doesn’t care.”


    Authoritarian Hair Furor sees no problem with this.

  146. says

    A summary of new developments in the Russia probe:

    NYT: Special Counsel’s Office Interviewed Comey Last Year On Memos

    NYT: Mueller Questioned Jeff Sessions For Hours Last Week

    Reports: FBI Director Wray Threatened To Resign Over Trump Admin. Pressure To Fire McCabe

    CNN: FBI Director’s Chief Of Staff, Who Served Under Comey, Is On His Way Out

    Dems Ask FB, Twitter To Probe If Russian Bots Boosted Nunes’ Memo Hashtag

    Dem Rep. Wants Nunes’ Memo Given To DOJ, Calls It ’Profoundly Misleading’


  147. says

    Also, from WaPo – “Mueller seeks to question Trump about Flynn and Comey departures.”

    Love this part:

    People close to Trump have tried to warn him for months that Mueller is a “killer,” in the words of one associate, noting that the special counsel has shown interest in the president’s actions.

    Roger Stone, a longtime informal adviser to Trump, said he should try to avoid an interview at all costs, saying agreeing to such a session would be a “suicide mission.”

    “I find it to be a death wish. Why would you walk into a perjury trap?” Stone said. “The president would be very poorly advised to give Mueller an interview.”

  148. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Pat Meehan addresses the sexual harassment allegations, saying that the young woman was his “soul mate,” but that there was nothing sexual about it at all. Nope. None. Not even a little, tiny, tadger-sized bit.

    Also, “He acknowledged lashing out when he learned the aide had started seriously dating someone outside his congressional office, attributing his reaction to the stress of a debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act.”

    Oh, and because he loves America too much. Soooo Much. You have no idea how much…

    This guy is bodies-in-the-basement creepy.

  149. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachael Maddow had Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) on. Essentially, he verified what SC and LynnA had posted above. I’ll post a link, but it may not be up until morning.

  150. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lawrence O’Donnell is having a DACA woman and her 10-year old daughter on. They talked a year ago with Speaker Paul Ryan.
    I’ll see if I can post this segment in the morning.

  151. KG says

    Why would you walk into a perjury trap?” Stone said – SC@234, quoting WaPo

    Normally, you’d say – well, it’s not a trap as long as you don’t commit perjury. But I suspect Trump is literally incapable of not lying in such an interview, even if he was persuaded in advance that in his own interests, he shouldn’t.

  152. says

    “Trump asked the acting FBI director how he voted during Oval Office meeting”:

    Shortly after President Trump fired his FBI director in May, he summoned to the Oval Office the bureau’s acting director for a get-to-know-you meeting.

    The two men exchanged pleasantries, but before long, Trump, according to several current and former U.S. officials, asked Andrew McCabe a pointed question: Whom did he vote for in the 2016 election?

    McCabe said he didn’t vote, according to the officials, who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about a sensitive matter.

    Trump, the officials said, also vented his anger at McCabe over the several hundred thousand dollars in donations that his wife, a Democrat, received for her failed 2015 Virginia state Senate bid from a political action committee controlled by a close friend of Hillary Clinton.

    McCabe, who has spent more than two decades at the bureau, found the conversation with Trump “disturbing,” said one former U.S. official. Inside the FBI, officials familiar with the exchange expressed frustration that a civil servant — even a very senior agent in the No. 2 position — would be asked how he voted and criticized for his wife’s political leanings by the president.

    One person said the Trump-McCabe conversation is of interest to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

    The encounter is also the latest example of Trump erupting at a senior official, whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself from the Russia probe, or White House counsel Donald McGahn, for not doing more to quash the investigation early on….

  153. says

    “Inequality gap widens as 42 people hold same wealth as 3.7bn poorest”: “In a report published on Monday to coincide with the gathering of some of the world’s richest people at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Oxfam said billionaires had been created at a record rate of one every two days over the past 12 months, at a time when the bottom 50% of the world’s population had seen no increase in wealth. It added that 82% of the global wealth generated in 2017 went to the most wealthy 1%.”

  154. says

    “Exclusive: New signs Gates may be negotiating with Mueller’s team”:

    Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates has quietly added a prominent white-collar attorney, Tom Green, to his defense team, signaling that Gates’ approach to his not-guilty plea could be changing behind the scenes.

    Green, a well-known Washington defense lawyer, was seen at special counsel Robert Mueller’s office twice last week. CNN is told by a source familiar with the matter that Green has joined Gates’ team.

    Green isn’t listed in the court record as a lawyer in the case and works for a large law firm separate from Gates’ primary lawyers.

    Green’s involvement suggests that there is an ongoing negotiation between the defendant’s team and the prosecutors. At this stage, with Gates’ charges filed and bail set, talks could concern the charges and Gates’ plea. The defense and prosecution are currently working together on discovery of evidence.

    For months, court-watchers — including Gates’ own attorneys — have anticipated additional charges against the defendants. Superseding indictments, which would add or replace charges against both Gates and Manafort, have been prepared, according to a source close to the investigation. No additional charges have been filed so far. When there is a delay in filing charges after they’ve been prepared, it can indicate that negotiations of some nature are ongoing.

    A few other developments in the Manafort and Gates case point to a softer touch that Mueller’s team is using with Gates….

    Should a deal be worked out, it would mean Mueller has the cooperation of another Trump campaign insider….

  155. says

    Josh Marshall re Fox and Fox Business last night. On Lou Dobbs:

    …Even I found his performance genuinely shocking. He parroted the same new “secret society” talking points, “witch hunt”, “fake news”. But it wasn’t any single point or accusation. It was the whole – the wild claims of coverups and crimes, plotting against the elected President, demands for purges. All of it together combined with the addled and hyped up affect feels like something out of some clownishly ruthless dictatorship. It almost doesn’t seem real even by those standards….

    Remember, Dobbs is very close to President Trump. They apparently talk often.

    Fox Business News has a much smaller audience than Fox News. But this Fox reality is being broadcast out nightly to a big cross-section of the population. We’ve all been talking for years about how Fox is making a big chunk of the population paranoid and out of touch with the reality based world. But this is something graver and more immediate. If you watch these segments and credit their basic accuracy you would have to think there is basically a coup in the works against an elected President. People who believe that sort of thing do weird and dangerous things.

  156. says

    “Eight Humanitarian Activists Face Federal Charges After Leaving Water for Migrants in the Arizona Desert”:

    A faith-based humanitarian group that provides aid and shelter to undocumented migrants on the southwestern border fears it has become the latest target in the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration advocates. Eight members of the group, No More Deaths, were charged with federal crimes and misdemeanors in recent months, including one volunteer arrested last week shortly after the publication of a report documenting alleged abuses by the U.S. Border Patrol.

    Last week, the Tucson, Arizona-based organization published a report* presenting what it described as evidence of Border Patrol agents’ systematic destruction of water jugs left for migrants in the desert, as well as “months of increasing surveillance and harassment” by the agency beginning last year. Hours after the report was published, one of the group’s organizers was arrested in a remote area of Arizona, along with two undocumented immigrants, and hit with felony charges.

    According to a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Arizona, Border Patrol agents conducting surveillance in the town of Ajo observed Scott Warren, 35, and two undocumented immigrants entering a building — referred to as “the Barn” — on January 17, 2018, the same day the humanitarian group’s report was published. The migrants reportedly learned of the Barn’s address, and the sanctuary it was said to provide, through online research.

    “Warren met them outside and gave them food and water for approximately three days,” the complaint states, accusing the activist and Arizona State University instructor of also providing the migrants with “beds and clean clothes.”

    From the beginning of his campaign through his first year in office, President Donald Trump and top officials in the administration have pursued a multipronged approach to immigration enforcement. Not only are undocumented immigrants targeted — whether they are in the process of traveling north past the border or already in the country — but anyone who aides in their continued existence within U.S. borders can face the force of the law.

    Recent weeks have seen a string of reports from across the country of outspoken, undocumented immigration advocates arrested and, in some cases, deported. Earlier this month in New York City, two prominent immigration activists were arrested — and one deported — prompting a chaotic protest in lower Manhattan. An investigation by The Intercept found that the arrests were preceded by a series of visits by ICE officers — and potential surveillance — to houses of worship around the city that provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

    Born out of a multi-faith border conference in 2004, No More Deaths serves as an umbrella organization for an array of religious and community groups working in some of the harshest terrain along the divide between the U.S. and Mexico. In addition to leaving gallon jugs of water in remote areas where migrants make their way into the U.S., the organization also maintains camps where migrants can receive medical care and routinely aids in the recovery of bodies along the border.

    The true scale of deaths that occur along the U.S. border with Mexico is unknown, but academic and journalistic investigations in recent years point to a loss of life of epic proportions. In a report published in December, USA Today found that illegal border crossings have claimed at least “7,209 lives over the past 20 years,” but that “the actual number is far higher” because “federal authorities largely fail to count border crossers when their remains are recovered by local authorities, and even local counts are often incomplete.” (emphasis added)

    * See #4 above.

  157. tomh says

    @ #258
    That is an amazing article. The problem is, while Gorsuch may be an outlier now, with a few more appointments he may well become the norm, with a reputation as phony as Scalia’s was.

  158. says

    SC @253, I think Nunes’ refusal to let the FBI see the memo before it is released to the public is a particularly unethical move. That move is designed to make sure that public pull-your-har-out outrage can outpace any corrections and/or explanations that would debunk the memo.

    SC @259, Mariotti’s analysis is great.

    SC @258, Gorsuch’s opinion is unreadable. In fact, it’s distressing to know that a Supreme Court Justice wrote that federalist garbage. What a mishmash of pretentious historical references and sloppy thinking. He doesn’t even manage to make his federalist case. Ruth Bader Ginsburg got it right when she criticized Gorsuch:

    […] She also ridiculed Gorsuch’s “grace period” theory as “entirely imaginative,” given the total lack of evidence that Congress “had any such ancient law in mind when it drafted” this statute. Gorsuch’s dissent, Ginsburg wrote, cannot, “for all its mighty striving,” identify “even one federal statute” that uses the word differently. “From what statutory text, then,” she wondered, “does the dissent start?” […]

    I love the “for all its mighty striving” phrase. There’s a knife in the shade that Ginsburg throws.

  159. says

    SC @260, it sounds like the members of No More Deaths are being prosecuted for kindness. This is one issue on which evangelicals and other faith-based groups could take a principled stand. They probably won’t.

    I saw video of border patrol agents gleefully dumping out cached water that was meant to prevent death. Border patrol agents could do their job without condemning people to die of thirst. They probably won’t.

  160. says

    SC @249, Trump is going to love that, “disaster capitalism.” He once said that disasters, financial and otherwise, were an opportunity to make money.

    SC @251, those statistics prompt me to give every billionaire the side-eye. I doubt that there can be an ethical foundation behind that much accumulation of wealth. It’s 3.7 billion of the world’s poorest people on one side of the scale, and 42 obscenely rich people on the other.

    Regarding the McCabe news (comment 248), it’s hard to believe that while the opprobrium over the firing of Comey was still burning brightly. Trump remained so clueless that he asked McCabe who he voted for. Just another loyalty test from Trump, whose shameful conduct and narcissism/paranoia know no bounds.

    As an aside, it’s alarming to see that the rightwing and Trump have a visceral need for an enemy. They put a black hat on McCabe. We’ll see if that lasts. They put a permanent black hat on Hillary Clinton. I doubt that they can sustain their black-hat production for so many people in the FBI. Adam Schiff’s brief notation of the escalation of the rightwing’s attempt to smear anyone who criticizes, (or who might criticize), Trump sounds like a warning bell. (Comment 252.)

  161. says

    From subservient, boot-licking lackey Jeff Sessions:

    When President Trump was inaugurated, he made the American people a promise: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

    It is a promise that he has kept…. This first year of the Trump era shows once again that the difficult work we do alongside our state, local and tribal law enforcement partners makes a difference. Crime rates are not like the tides — we can help change them. And under Trump’s strong leadership, we will.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Sessions put a favorable spin on decent data. What he failed to mention is that the drop in crime rates occurred long before Trump took office, and giving the White House credit seems like a politically motivated stretch.

    But therein lies the point: Sessions, apparently eager to work his way back into Trump’s good graces, has decided that in this administration, the best attorney general is an obedient one.

    […] Trump wants his perceived opponents in the FBI to be ousted? There’s Jeff Sessions, leaning on the FBI director to make personnel decisions that would make the president happy. The White House wants to convince the public that immigrants are a national security threat? There’s Jeff Sessions, releasing a wildly misleading report about terrorism.

    Trump wants increased federal scrutiny of Democrats? There’s Jeff Sessions, assuring Republicans that the Justice Department is taking their anti-Clinton theories seriously. […] Trump has a partisan vision about attacking so-called “sanctuary cities”? There’s Jeff Sessions, threatening some of the nation’s largest municipalities with subpoenas.

    […] Perhaps Sessions’ compliance with the White House agenda has extended his career in the Trump administration.

  162. says

    Just another Republican criminal running for office in West Virginia. Don Blankenship, the coal-mining Massey Energy CEO who was released from prison just a year ago, is mounting a Senate campaign. He was imprisoned for violating federal mine safety standards. Sounds like a Trump swamp creature.

    Republicans in Alabama are so upset by the win of Doug Jones over Roy Moore that the legislators in that state have a plan to avoid such a disaster in the future: end special elections to fill Senate vacancies.

  163. says

    Mitch McConnell single handedly makes irony weep:

    This regrettable shutdown reminded all of us that, in United States Senate, brinksmanship and hostage-taking simply do not work.

    Mitch McConnell in 2011:

    I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming.

    And how about the brinksmanship over Neil Gorsuch?

  164. says

    Follow-up to comments 252 and 255.

    This was mentioned upthread, and I just wanted to expand on it a bit.

    Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) says that a whistleblower has told Congress about secret meetings between FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials who allegedly gathered to discuss ways to undermine President Trump following his victory in the 2016 election. […]

    Speaking Tuesday on Fox New Channel’s “Special Report,” Johnson, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said he has an informant to back those claims up. “The secret society — we have an informant talking about a group holding secret meetings off-site,” Johnson said. […]


    From Steve Benen:

    […] I suppose it’s possible that life is like a Dan Brown novel and somewhere in the bowels of the Justice Department, there’s a cabal of nefarious liberals who hatched a secret plot to undermine the president.

    Of course, if such a plot existed, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of it. (Perhaps the cabal of nefarious liberals is terribly ineffective. Or maybe they got distracted by Donald Trump taking a series of steps to undermine his own presidency before they could hatch their fiendish scheme.)

    Is it too much to ask that the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee avoid peddling strange conspiracy theories on national television? Because once powerful politicians start throwing around phrases such as “secret society,” we’re forced to confront awkward questions about just how far from reality Republican politics can reasonably stray. […]

    From Media Matters:

    […] Fox & Friends pushed the conspiracy theory that a “secret society” meant to discredit President Donald Trump might actually exist in the FBI.

    The story originated when Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) claimed on another Fox show, The Story, that in a text message exchange after the 2016 election, FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page said, “Perhaps this is the first meeting of the secret society.” Gowdy omitted any context and offered no evidence to show that such a text, which has not been released, wouldn’t have been facetious.

    Conservative media and Trump allies have repeatedly attempted to scandalize texts between Strzok and Page, who were in a personal relationship, alleging that they and other FBI officials were working against Trump during the election. But as HuffPost noted, “Most of the information that came out of the bureau during the election was damaging to Hillary Clinton, not Trump,” and Strzok and Page “exchanged texts slamming politicians and officials of all ideological stripes, not just Trump.”

    Link. Video available at the link. Trey Gowdy is slimy in the video.

    I used the Media Matters excerpt to show that it is not just Ron Johnson who careened wildly off the tracks. There are hundreds of examples of this “secret society” nonsense on rightwing media outlets today. It has spread like a flu virus. And, as SC noted, Russian trolls and bots are pushing it.

  165. says

    From Paul Waldman, “Republicans go full Illuminati.”

    […] there’s a massive and sinister conspiracy at work and the only appropriate response is to live every moment of every day on the verge of outright panic.

    In this bizarre fantasy world, the FBI — as conservative an agency as you’ll find in the federal government — is actually an organization committed to destroying Donald Trump, so gripped is it with pro-Democratic bias.

    If you haven’t been following this story, some of the strands that have absolutely consumed the right will sound unfamiliar and even ludicrous. There’s the matter of text messages exchanged by an FBI agent and an FBI lawyer who were having an affair, in which — cover the children’s ears — the two are revealed to not think particularly highly of Trump. Even though any reasonable reading of the messages shows the two doing anything but trying to subvert Trump — not to mention the fact that we aren’t reading whatever texts were sent by the thousands of other people who work at the FBI — each message is examined with Talmudic care to find its hidden meanings and subtle implications, in the desperate hope that some ill will toward Trump might be found.

    The latest “revelation” came when a couple of congressmen rushed to Fox News to tell of a reference they found in a text to a “secret society.” Egads! They don’t know what it means, but it certainly couldn’t be tongue in cheek. Is the FBI controlled by the Illuminati? The Freemasons? The Rosicrucians? Some powerful secret society so secret and powerful that it has prevented us all from even knowing what it’s called? […]

    Much more at the link.

  166. says

    SC @255, the videos available at your link are eyebrow-raising, depression-inducing evidence of wildly-crazy conspiracy theories having taken over on Fox. What the bloody hell?

    You have to see it to believe it.

  167. tomh says

    Damn FBI, they’re certainly not very good at “destroying” Trump. You’d think such highly trained professionals could get the job done.

  168. says

    Follow-up to 272.

    I meant to mention that Fox News and Fox Business News hosts are actually advocating “declaring war against the FBI and the Justice Department.” Some off-balance person with a gun will likely take them up on that. Presumably, they will spare Jeff Sessions. Trying to joke, but my god, this is no joke.

  169. says

    ProEnglish Executive Director Stephen Guschov and ProEnglish Director of Government Relations Dan Carter visited the White House to discuss a variety of official English legislation issues with a senior legislative aide to President Donald Trump.

    The White House meeting, which occurred in the East Wing, focused on Trump administration support for the English Language Unity Act, the RAISE Act, the COST Act, and also the possibility of President Trump repealing former President Clinton’s onerous Executive Order 13166 with a new Executive Order signed by the President.

    ProEnglish link. Don’t go there, it’s a site filled with anti-immigrant sludge.

    Sounds like they met with Stephen Miller.

    The “onerous order” to which the press release refers, was Clinton’s request that agencies “develop a plan for delivering their services to people with limited English proficiency.”

    Background on ProEnglish from Gabe Ortiz:

    […] ProEnglish is a part of the Tanton network, a series of racist groups founded or funded by retired ophthalmologist and eugenics enthusiast John Tanton, who has “spent decades at the heart of the white nationalist movement.” Over the years, Tanton’s groups have consistently helped derail bipartisan immigration efforts. […]

    From the Southern Poverty Law Center:

    Three Washington, D.C. organizations most responsible for blocking comprehensive immigration reform in 2007 are part of a network of groups created by a man who has been at the heart of the white nationalist movement for decades,[…]

    Then Senator Jeff Sessions received a Defender of the Rule of Law award from the consortium of anti-immigrant white supremacists.

  170. says

    French President Emmanuel Macron aimed some humorous jabs at Trump during the conference about globalization at Davos:

    For sure, with Davos, when you look outside…it could be hard to believe in global warming. [record snowfall in Davos this year] Obviously, and fortunately, you didn’t invite anyone skeptical with global warming this year.

  171. says

    Russian trolls and bots have weaponized Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, amplifying the stupidity:

    […] on Dec. 20, Fox News star Sean Hannity tweeted “CONSPIRACY: GOP Lawmakers Says FEDERAL CONSPIRACY to Prevent Trump Presidency.”

    That day, Hannity’s website ranked among the top 10 shared by the network of Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence campaigns and tracked by the nonpartisan Alliance for Securing Democracy on its national-security project, the Hamilton 68 dashboard. Hannity content had not registered much previously—but since Dec. 20, links from Hannity’s site have appeared frequently on the dashboard, often ranking among the top 10. “It’s now up there with other top most-shared domains,” says Bret Schafer, an analyst who monitors the dashboard for the Alliance.[…]


  172. says

    Susan Hennessey: “I’m not a paranoid person. My old office had checkpoints, dozens of armed guards, and snipers and I never gave it a second thought. But following the President’s scary rhetoric, I changed how I get to and from CNN. We can pretend like his words don’t matter, but they do.”

  173. says

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders went off the rails … again.

    […] NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked Sanders repeatedly about what Trump was doing to stop school shootings and whether the president would speak out against them, triggering the spokeswoman’s explosive reply.

    “Let me be very clear on this, the fact that you’re basically accusing the president of being complicit in a school shooting is outrageous,” Sanders told Alexander.

    The reporter had asked if Trump will “go before the nation and tell Americans how he feels about this issue and try to do what he can with the bully pulpit” to stop school shootings.

    In response to Sanders’s remark, Alexander brought up a Trump campaign ad that says Democrats who oppose the president’s immigration agenda “will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”

    “Ignoring the fact of the safety and security of our borders is very different,” Sanders responded.

    The press secretary said that Trump has “instructed the top law enforcement agency in this country to crack down on crime and to do everything we can to prevent this type of thing,” referring to school shootings. […]


  174. says

    Oh, FFS! There’s another Republican “memo” that aims to discredit the Russia probe:

    […] Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) signaled in a floor speech Wednesday that Senate Republicans have a Russia probe conspiracy memo of their own they’d like to release— this one centered on allegations that Christopher Steele, the British ex-spy behind the Trump-Russia dossier, misled federal authorities.

    “Stale, recycled media spin from journalists and pundits who do not have all the facts is not enough. The country is filled with frenzy and speculation, but hungry for facts,” Grassley said, according to prepared remarks released by his office.

    “However, I cannot release this information on my own, and neither should anyone else. Classified information is controlled by the Executive Branch. We should work together to achieve the greater transparency while still protecting legitimately sensitive national security information.”

    The memo Grassley is referring to is one he assembled with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and sent to the Justice Department, along with a cover letter claiming that the memo contained information “related to certain communications between Christopher Steele and multiple U.S. news outlets ….also provided to the FBI.”

    The letter — a recommendation known as a “referral” that the DOJ should pursue criminal charges against Steele — was released to the public, while the underlying memo has remained classified. Ironically, the first criminal referral issued by one of the congressional committee probing Russia’s election meddling was aimed at a person who had embarked on a campaign to expose the Russian efforts. […]

    Link. Much more info at the link.

  175. says

    From President Obama:

    […] But who’s going to decide who the real America is? Who’s to determine that in this nation of immigrants, in a nation where unless you are a Native American, you came here from some place else, that you have a greater claim than anybody here. So, we can’t let that brand of politics win […]

    Link to excerpt from Obama’s speech.

  176. says

    Great piece by Ari Berman, focusing on Wisconsin – “How the GOP Rigs Elections”:

    …The gerrymandering in Wisconsin, which experts call among the most extreme in U.S. history, is but one part of Republicans’ stealth plan to stay in office. Since Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature took power, they’ve also introduced some of the country’s harshest voting restrictions, passing laws that make it harder for Democratic-leaning constituencies to register to vote and cast ballots. At the same time, the state has become the “Wild West of dark money,” according to Lisa Graves, a senior fellow at the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy, with Republican politicians like Walker raising unprecedented sums from billionaire donors to finance their campaigns.

    “All three of these things have to be seen as part of a whole,” says Eric Holder, Barack Obama’s attorney general, who founded the National Democratic Redistricting Committee in 2016 to challenge Republican gerrymandering efforts. “Unregulated dark money combined with these voter-ID laws combined with gerrymandering is inconsistent with how our nation’s system is supposed to be set up. American citizens ought to be concerned about the state of our democracy. We could end up with a system where a well-financed minority that has views inconsistent with the vast majority of the American people runs this country.”

    More immediately, a beleaguered Republican Party tainted by Trump could still retain majorities in 2018 and 2020. “It’s not a level playing field,” says Tom Perez, head of the Democratic National Committee. “There are millions of people whose votes effectively don’t count.” And as a measure of the GOP’s ability to maintain a political advantage, despite widespread public opposition to its policies, look no further than Wisconsin. “We’ve been under a counterrevolution here for the past six years,” says Matt Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks the influence of money in politics. “Walker has urged other states to follow his model. Reactionary politics is a big Wisconsin export now.”…

  177. says

    Remember when Trump left for that first trip abroad and NYT, WaPo, and like four other outlets published damning articles almost immediately after his plane took off?

    That was fun.

  178. says

    SC @284, now that’s funny. It’s also appalling that Schiff and others have to waste their time debunking Republican conspiracy theories.

    I wonder what dueling memos look like when they’re fighting?

  179. says

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada threw some subtle shade at Trump in Davos today:

    [Trudeau announced] that on exactly the anniversary of the United States’ withdrawal from the TPP, a trade agreement had been reached between the other 11 countries that would exclude the United States and had been signed in Tokyo. (I’m sure the timing was totally a coincidence.) While it was widely expected both in the US and abroad that the US’s withdrawal would jeopardize the agreement, it now seems the agreement could be ratified as early as March.

    Trudeau also remarked on the difficult NAFTA talks and Trump’s repeated threats to withdraw from the agreement. (It is worth noting that Japan and our major NAFTA partners — Mexico and Canada — now all also have trade agreements signed with the European Union.) The United States’ increasing isolation from the global market as well as fears of the possibility of Chinese retaliation for Trump’s new tariff on solar panels and (more importantly) future tariffs on steel and aluminum under consideration will no doubt put a damper on Trump’s attempt to sell the country as friendly for business. So much for America First, it looks like we’re heading toward America Alone.


  180. says

    “Judiciary Democrats want to share Trump Jr. testimony with Mueller”:

    Two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday pressed the committee’s Republican chairman to provide special counsel Robert Mueller with transcripts of the panel’s interviews with key witnesses in its Russia probe, including Donald Trump Jr.

    The request, from Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), reflected the partisan tension in a judiciary committee whose investigation has for months been splintered along party lines.

    It also amounted to a suggestion that witnesses — potentially including Donald Trump Jr., who sat for an interview in September — may have made false statements to the committee. In a recent interview, Blumenthal predicted the Trump Jr. transcript would be “explosive” if released.

    Beyond their request that Mueller receive Judiciary Committee transcripts, both Whitehouse and Blumenthal have said in recent interviews that they would like to see the transcript of the panel’s interview with the president’s eldest son get publicly released….

  181. says

    “DOJ warns House Intel chairman about purported secret memo on FBI”:

    The Justice Department is urging the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, whose staff has compiled a secret memorandum purporting to show “shocking” political bias within the FBI, to give the department a chance to see the memo and warning that first sharing information from the memo with reporters would be “unprecedented” and dangerous.

    Furthermore, the department said certain allegations of impropriety are completely unfounded.

    “We believe it would be extraordinarily reckless for the Committee to disclose such information publicly without giving the Department and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum and to advise the [committee] of the risk of harm to national security and to ongoing investigations that could come from the public release,” a top Justice Department official wrote in a letter today to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California. “Indeed, we do not understand why the Committee would possibly seek to disclose classified and law enforcement sensitive information without first consulting with the relevant members of the Intelligence Community.”…

  182. says

    Judd Legum:

    “Anti-Mueller narratives that fell apart in last 24 hrs:

    1. Texts from two agents deleted to cover up plot against Trump. (Glitch impacted thousands of FBI agents, not two.)

    2. FBI had ‘secret society’ (Joke in one text.)

    3. Nunes memo (Won’t share w/FBI, DOJ or Senate GOP.)”

    DoJ spokeswoman (allegedly) Sarah Isgur Flores was on CNN with Chris Cuomo this morning. I couldn’t watch the whole thing – was amazed at what I was seeing. Cuomo asked her about the ridiculous conspiracy theories, most likely expecting her, as the fucking DoJ spokeswoman, to dismiss them – especially in light of the letter @ #289. Instead, she sold out her own agency!

    (Paraphrasing:) “Do you believe there’s a secret society in the upper echelons of the FBI?” “Well, what we have are text messages and thousands of pages of documents, and hundreds of people in congress are very understandably concerned, and the IG is doing an investigation.” “But do you believe this is real – have you seen any evidence?” “Look, Chris, maybe these congressmen have seen something in the documents that we missed, and they should bring their suspicions to us because we want to address problems like political bias and secret societies.”

    I wanted him to ask if she believed elements in the FBI were really operating a top-secret facility outside Atlanta where they’re training a shark army to spy on and potentially attack Mar-a-Lago in the event of the coup. “I think there are legitimate concerns about how sharks could be misused, Chris, and I’m going to wait for the IG to complete his report….”

  183. says

    Interesting op-ed by Ryan Goodman – “Seeing Through the Fog in the Mueller Russia Probe”:

    …If you direct your attention to the series of known cases when Trump officials have not told the truth to the F.B.I. and to Congress about Russian contacts, what emerges is a likely conspiracy on the part of Mr. Trump’s inner circle to mislead federal officials.

    That’s where the stakes could not be much higher for the White House. Not only is it a crime to lie to federal authorities; it’s also a crime to encourage others to do so, whether or not they follow through with crossing the line of perjury.

    We know that Trump campaign associates did not report to federal authorities their information about Russian efforts during the campaign, even after the F.B.I. urged Mr. Trump and his aides to alert the agency to any suspicious overtures.

    Far worse are the numerous instances in which Trump campaign officials either lied to federal officials or came perilously close.

    How could campaign officials, or the president himself, expect to get away with any such scheme, especially when encouraging others to commit perjury is a serious federal offense?

    Maybe they didn’t anticipate a full investigation. The president admitted that he felt if Mr. Sessions had only held on, the attorney general would have shut down the Russia investigation: “If Jeff Sessions didn’t recuse himself, we wouldn’t even be talking about this subject.”

    Well, surprise. We are talking about it. And so will witnesses brought in by Mr. Mueller, who has shown his willingness to prosecute four former campaign officials, in each case for making false statements to federal authorities….

  184. says

    “Trump Groups Raised Millions, Then Paid It Out to Loyalists and a Trump Hotel”:

    A pair of groups supporting President Trump say they raised $30 million last year, then spent tens of thousands of those dollars at the Trump International Hotel here and on payments to a few Trump loyalists like the former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and the former Milwaukee County sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., according to new campaign finance reports and news reports.

    Of the millions raised, at least $1 million came from a coal company that has gained extraordinary access to the Trump administration to push for pro-coal policy changes.

    The campaign finance reports shed light on a network of groups that were formed to support Mr. Trump, but have spent less than other groups bolstering his agenda, while steering money to the president’s businesses and his most ardent surrogates.

    One of the groups — a “super PAC” called America First Action — spent nearly $33,000 at the Trump International Hotel, primarily on events for donors, and paid tens of thousands of dollars each to Mr. Lewandowski; Brad Parscale, a digital strategist for Mr. Trump’s campaign; and Katrina Pierson, a campaign spokeswoman. Those figures were revealed in a report filed on Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, which shows that the group raised $4 million last year….

  185. says

    “Bottom Line for Davos Elite: Trump Is Good for Business”:

    …While many here are poised to recoil at Mr. Trump’s arrival — diplomats, heads of state and members of human rights organizations — much of the moneyed elite who pay the bills for many Davos festivities are willing to overlook what they portray as the American president’s rhetorical foibles in favor of focusing on the additional wealth he has delivered to their coffers.

    Among banking chiefs, hedge fund managers, private equity overseers and others who make their living managing vast piles of money, Mr. Trump is the rare politician who has made good on his words, having slashed corporate taxes and ditched regulations they view as anti-business. However they publicly greet Mr. Trump, they are happy with key ways in which he has wielded his power.

    The official agenda of Davos is full of earnest discussions of inequality, human rights, gender equality and the rise of automation as a threat to jobs. In these sorts of venues, Mr. Trump is a man whose words and deeds evoke great consternation.

    But the ballroom of every surrounding hotel is full of parties paid for by investment houses and global consulting companies. Aged Bordeaux and single malt whiskey flow freely while clients are entertained. In these quarters, Mr. Trump is a subject discussed with care, yet with palpable appreciation.

    Longtime attendees of the World Economic Forum are prone to discuss — and sometimes lampoon — the values of so-called Davos Man (and Woman), the quintessential attendee who is at once deeply disturbed by the plight of Syrian refugees, at pains to address climate change and perpetually able to extract new fortune from every situation.

    For that crowd, Mr. Trump effectively forces a choice. In action and words, he is anathema to the foundational ideals of the forum. He is also making rich people richer, and many of them are here.

    “They are now licking their lips,” said Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate economist. “Davos Man has been able to overlook Trump’s ‘America First’ rhetoric, his anti-climate-change action, his protectionism, nativism, racism, bigotry, narcissism, misogyny, for the lucre that seems to be the true motivating force behind Davos Man.”

  186. says

    “Trump and the great GOP abdication”:

    Something remarkable is happening in our politics right now. On multiple fronts, it has fallen to Democratic elected officials to step up and defend the integrity and basic functionings of our government — against Republican efforts to pervert and manipulate them in service of the goal of shielding President Trump from accountability.

    At the same time, in some cases Democrats have escalated their tactics in a kind of guerrilla operation designed to smuggle as much basic information about this great GOP abdication out to the public as possible.

    Today, I’m told, Sen. Mark Warner (Va.) — the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee — will publicly say that classified information debunks the arguments reportedly made in the now-notorious secret memo by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), which bolsters the idea that the Russia investigation is a Deep-State Coup against Trump. Nunes has made this memo available to members of Congress, in what Democrats charge is a selective cherry-picking of intelligence designed to arm Republicans with talking points to discredit the Russia probe.

    “Senator Warner will say publicly that unlike almost all of the 200 GOP congressmen who’ve seen the memo, he has actually read the underlying documents,” Rachel Cohen, a spokeswoman for Warner, emailed me this morning. “He is confident that there was nothing improper like what this memo seems to allege.”

    In another effort to counter the apparent Nunes disinformation campaign, Rep. Adam Schiff — Nunes’s Democratic counterpart on the House Intelligence Committee — announced that he would produce his own report purportedly debunking the Nunes memo and will ask the committee to allow members of Congress to view it, too, in effect (again) smuggling bits of counter-information out to the public….

  187. says


    (What’s amazing is that this seems like pretty standard military PR which would be unremarkable in any other moment. It’s strange to see people claim it violates some sort of norm, like a video celebrating a member of the military with a message like “the US is a land of opportunity” is some sort of radical political statement.)

  188. says

    Fox & Friends mentioned the term “secret society” over 20 times on Tuesday and Wednesday … now that the text message shows it was a joke, silence.

    Not one mention of secret societies on today’s show. Not a correction, not a clarification, nothing.”

  189. says

    Before he jetted off to Davos, Trump engaged in an impromptu question and answer session with reporters in the White House. Because this was an off-the-cuff situation, we got another peek into Trump’s withered and twisted psyche. It was awful.

    Trump talked about media coverage of the 2016 campaign:

    You people won’t say this, but I’ll say it: I was a much better candidate than [Hillary Clinton]. You always say she was a bad candidate. You never say I was a good candidate. I was one of the greatest candidates.

    JFC. And this is the man who thinks he can represent the U.S. in Davos.

  190. says

    Trump jumped on the conspiracy bandwagon and demonstrated his ignorance:

    REPORTER: Do you trust the FBI?

    TRUMP: Well, what am I going to say? I am very disturbed, as is the general, as is everybody else that is intelligent. When you look at — five months? This is the late great [President Richard Nixon’s secretary] Rose Mary Woods, right? [Inaudible] This is a large-scale version of this. That was 18 minutes, this is five months. They say it’s 50,000 texts and it’s prime time. That’s disturbing.

    “Everybody else that is intelligent” … OMFG.

    Trump did not know what he was talking about. From Steve Benen:

    FBI Director Christopher Wray […] told Congress that those texts weren’t preserved “due to misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades.”

    Of course, if there were misconfiguration issues, shouldn’t it have affected a variety of FBI officials? As a matter of fact, yes, and in this case, that’s exactly what happened: it wasn’t just Strzok and Paige who lost messages; the tech issues affected many throughout the bureau. The Washington Post and even Fox News both reported that “thousands” of FBI devices were affected by the glitch.

    Rose Mary Woods and the missing 18-and-a-half minutes on the Watergate tapes this isn’t. What Trump said last night was plainly wrong.

    Over the summer, Trump told reporters, “When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts…. Before I make a statement, I need the facts.” Earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that the president “believes in making sure that information is accurate before pushing it out as fact.”

    It’d be funny if it weren’t so depressing.

  191. says

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders redefined “collusion.”

    REPORTER: The president has said repeatedly there was no collusion between the campaign and Russia. Can you define what he means when he says ‘collusion’? Is he talking about meetings between officials? Is he talking about information-exchanging hands? What does that mean?

    SANDERS: Look, I think the accusation against the president is that he had help winning the election, and that’s simply untrue. The president won because he was the better candidate, because he worked harder, because he had a message that America actually cared about and believed in, and came out in a historic fashion and supported and voted for him.

    Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million ballots.

    That’s not the point, but it does show that Trump was not “one of the greatest candidates.”

    Looking at the substance of the redefinition, it falls apart quickly. Trump did have help from Russia. Russia told Donald Junior and others that they were helping Trump. In his rallies, Trump asked for Russia’s help several times.

    From Brian Beutler:

    We know that Russian spies approached the Trump campaign offering assistance in the election multiple times. At least twice, Russians dangled the lure of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including stolen emails, and both times, Trump campaign officials (George Papadopoulos and Donald Trump, Jr.) expressed interest. Trump, Jr. was particularly enthusiastic about the idea of cooperating with the Russians, and shortly after he welcomed Russian spies to Trump tower for a meeting about “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, he coordinated messaging with Wikileaks, which operated last summer and fall as a cutout for Russian hackers.

    After repeatedly communicating to Russia (in public and in private) that they welcomed interference in the election, Trump and his aides cast public doubt on whether the saboteurs were Russians at all. When Trump went on to win the election after benefiting from this interference, members of his inner circle, through Michael Flynn, secretly connived with Russia to subvert the countermeasures the American government had undertaken as penalties for Russia’s interference.

    And that’s all we know so far. I’m sure there’s more.

  192. says

    During his off-the-cuff remarks yesterday, Trump also got himself into a mess that his lawyers tried to clean up afterwards.

    President Donald Trump said Wednesday he is willing to speak “under oath” to special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the federal investigation into Russian election meddling as well as potential collusion with Trump’s campaign.

    “I’m looking forward to it, actually,” Trump told reporters when asked if he would talk to Mueller. “I would love to do that. I’d like to do it as soon as possible.”

    “There has been no collusion whatsoever. There is no obstruction whatsoever,” he added.

    “Did Hillary do it under oath?” he asked.

    Clinton did a voluntary interview in July 2016 regarding the FBI investigation into her use of a private email server. However, whether a person is under oath or not is immaterial, because making a false statement to a federal agent can still result in a perjury charge under federal law.

    The president also said he is open to a path to citizenship for DACA recipients — immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children who have been granted certain protections under the Obama-era program — after 10 to 12 years.

    He added that Dreamers have nothing to worry about. Still, he told reporters, he wants $25 billion for a border wall and $5 billion for national security funding. […]

    NBC News link

    Regarding the path to citizenship for Dreamers, rightwing media outlets like Breitbart are referring to Trump as “amnesty Don.” It’s likely that Trump will turn 180° away from the “10 to 12 years” proposal thanks to pressure from immigration hardliners.

    As for asking if Hillary was interviewed under oath by the FBI, that’s just Trump’s ignorance showing again. He thinks, quite incorrectly, that if she wasn’t under oath she was allowed to lie. Not true. If you lie to the FBI, it is a criminal act (see the indictment of Mike Flynn), no matter the formality or informality of the interview.

    Also, “under oath” in this circumstance would probably refer to Trump being questioned by the Grand Jury, which is a situation in which he would be under oath. In effect, Trump was saying that he would testify under oath before the Grand Jury, with no legal counsel present. Bet that made his lawyers happy.

    Trump also criticized a reporter, saying that anyone who didn’t know that Hillary was not under oath when she testified was not much of a reporter.

    It was funny when one reporter got Trump to confirm his willingness to testify under oath by asking him if he would raise the standard (compared to Hillary) by testifying under oath. Trump took the bait and was pleased as punch with himself.

    From the New York Times:

    Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer leading the response to the investigation, said Mr. Trump was speaking hurriedly and intended only to say that he was willing to meet.

  193. says

    Manu Raju: “‘The OIG has been investigating this matter and, this week, succeeded in using forensic tools to recover text messages from FBI devices, including text messages between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page that were sent or received between December 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017’, IG tells Hill.”

  194. says

    More self-aggrandizement and ignorance from Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks yesterday:

    Now they’re saying, “Oh, well, ‘Did he fight back? Did he fight back?’ You fight back, “Oh, it’s obstruction.” So, here’s the thing: I hope so.

    The “I hope so” refers to a reporter asking him if he thought Mueller would be fair. The rest of that mess is Trump redefining obstruction of justice so that it only amounts to him “fighting back.” That’s not going to fly.

  195. says

    Some ignorant and belligerent stuff Trump said about then Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe:

    “I don’t think so,” Trump told reporters in the White House when asked whether he asked McCabe who he voted for.

    The President reportedly asked McCabe who he voted for during a May 2016 meeting shortly after James Comey was fired as FBI director. In that same meeting, Trump reportedly mentioned that McCabe’s wife received a campaign donation from former Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

    Pressed on whether it’s possible he asked McCabe who he voted for, Trump told reporters, “I don’t know what’s the big deal with that. Because I would ask you, ‘Who did you vote for?’”

    “I don’t think that’s a big deal. But I don’t remember that. I saw that this morning. I don’t remember asking him that question,” Trump added.

    [Trump] has suggested that McCabe is biased because his wife, who ran a Democratic campaign for a Virginia state senate seat, accepted a campaign contribution from McAuliffe.

    Reporters asked Trump on Wednesday if he believes McCabe should leave the FBI, but Trump wouldn’t say.

    “Well, McCabe got more than $500,000 from essentially Hillary Clinton. And is he investigating Hillary Clinton?” he replied.

    Asked if he regrets McCabe’s time as acting FBI director, Trump again failed to give a straight answer.

    “You know what, I keep out of it. You’d find that hard to believe. I keep out of it. That’s the way it fell. He’s been there. It’s one of those things,” Trump said. “But he was the star of many of my speeches. Because he got from $500,000 to $700,000, whatever the number was. Got that money for the wife.”


    McCabe’s wife is an individual in her own right. She did her own fundraising when she ran for office. Her husband did not get “money for the wife.” Andrew McCabe did not get “more than $500,000 from essentially Hillary Clinton.”

    Didn’t Trump also tell us that he has the best memory and the best brain?

  196. says

    Wisconsin Second District Representative Mark Pocan roasted Devin Nunes:

    Republicans claim that the Nunes memo will blow the lid off the Russia investigation and expose the DoJ and FBI.

    As someone who has read the memo, I can assure you that it’s all smoke and no fire. We must #ReleaseTheMemo and expose the GOP’s lies.

    Rep. Nunes is the same member of Congress who was so lacking in credibility that he was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation due to his partisan meddling and overt efforts to shield President Trump from efforts to get to the bottom of the story. The memo is full of innaccuracies and assumptions that only serve to give Congressional Republicans fake political talking points, while playing into their narrative to undermine the FBI and the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    We must release the memo and all supporting documents to have an honest conversation and correct the record, rather than defaulting to Rep. Nunes’ one-sided version of the ‘truth.’ These are serious allegations from Rep. Nunes, and the American people deserve to see how he created these ridiculous fabrications to back up a baseless storyline.

  197. says

    Steve Benen, quoted in Lynna’s #310:

    Rose Mary Woods and the missing 18-and-a-half minutes on the Watergate tapes this isn’t. What Trump said last night was plainly wrong.

    Jill Wine-Banks, who’s the one who interviewed Woods during Watergate, was on MSNBC last night and she was furious about this. She said that was a deliberate act (actually set of acts, about Woods then lied) to erase specific portions of incriminating recordings in a criminal case, whereas this was a widespread technical glitch that involved some personal opinionated texts potentially relevant to an IG investigation. Also, no one was saying it was 50,000 texts. That’s the approximate number of texts that were turned over to investigators. Because they were missing, no one had any idea how many there were. Now they’ve been recovered, in any case.

    Trump probably got that whole spiel from Roger Stone, who was a dirty trickster for, amongst others, Nixon.

    Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer leading the response to the investigation, said Mr. Trump was speaking hurriedly and intended only to say that he was willing to meet.

    But when the audio was first being played, a CNN commentator thought it was a “brilliant” thing for Trump to say. Honestly, I had it on for about 10 minutes just now and heard some of the stupidest “analysis,” including from Maggie Haberman, who said the donation to McCabe’s wife was a totally legitimate concern, and the host (whose name I can never recall), who used as an example of a reasonable Republican voice Sarah Isgur Fucking Flores. It was pathetic.

  198. says

    Trump’s USDA chief is using fake news to prep an attack on hungry Americans

    He suggested the next farm bill should “support work as the pathway to self-sufficiency, well-being, and economic mobility for individuals and families receiving supplemental nutrition assistance.”

    According to Bloomberg reporter Alan Bjerga, Perdue expanded on that theme in remarks Wednesday:

    “It’s evident that there are able-bodied adults without dependents who are on the food stamp program, who we believe it is in their best interests, and their families’ best interests, to move into an independent lifestyle,” Perdue told reporters Wednesday at an event on a farm outside Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. “During the last downturn, it became a lifestyle for some people. We don’t want it to become permanent.”

    From Laura Clawson:

    Nearly 80 percent of working-age people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program work or are looking for work or are disabled, yet Republicans—in this case, Trump Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue—keep talking like there’s some epidemic of people who could work deciding that instead, they’d rather survive on a couple dollars a day of food stamps.

    Aside from the 57 percent of working-age people on SNAP who work or are looking for work and the 22 percent who have disabilities, the remainder of the “able-bodied adults without dependents” in the program already face work requirements. As an able-bodied adult without dependents, you can only get three months of SNAP in a three-year period if you don’t work, go to school or work a training program, or do workfare. If you don’t have dependents and you don’t work, food stamps cannot become a permanent lifestyle for anyone.

    […] if Republicans can make the general public believe that there are a lot of lazy people kicking back on their luxurious average per-person benefit of $125 per month, or $1.40 per meal, it becomes easier to attack the program’s funding. Attacking SNAP funding means taking food away from kids and working adults and elderly people and people with disabilities, but if Republicans can obscure that fact, the cuts they plan will be less unpopular. Beyond that, we can only guess what specific plans the Trump administration has to make which specific groups of people currently on SNAP go hungry—or, make that, hungrier than they already are.

    […] Perdue is laying the groundwork to go after a program that keeps millions of Americans, many of them children, from serious hunger.

  199. says

    McCabe’s wife is an individual in her own right. She did her own fundraising when she ran for office. Her husband did not get “money for the wife.” Andrew McCabe did not get “more than $500,000 from essentially Hillary Clinton.”

    Also, while McCabe didn’t vote in the presidential election, he did vote in the Republican primary. He’s a(nother FBI/DoJ) Republican.

    Trump also insinuated that McCabe (and his wife?) might have kept some of the money for themselves. Given the extraordinarily high percentage of his allegations that turn out to be projection…

  200. says

    Steven Dennis:

    NEW: Feinstein asks Grassley to deliver on PUBLIC hearings with DON Jr., KUSHNER

    KUSHNER did not decline appearance with the committee, per person familiar, but legal counsel asked when members can disclose information after Simpson release, and asked if committee had received Senate Intel transcript.

    Senate Intel Chairman Burr has said repeatedly he won’t give transcripts to other committees.

    FEINSTEIN is NOT yet on board with public release of Trump Tower witness transcripts; wants Grassley to give the[m] to Mueller first.

  201. says

    The rest of that mess is Trump redefining obstruction of justice so that it only amounts to him “fighting back.” That’s not going to fly.

    It’s a perfect window into how he thinks – there are no rules or limits, at least not any that apply to him. His whole life has been lying, cheating, stealing, bribing, defrauding, scheming, conspiring, blame-shifting, betraying, tricking, deflecting, intimidating, attacking – anything to get his way and get himself out of trouble. I was reading over the Simpson House transcript recently and was reminded of the magnitude of his alleged financial crimes. It’s not just money-laundering, but real-estate fraud and other shady deals involving Russian oligarchs/gangsters. And his kids do the same. That’s why I think Kate McKinnon’s Robert Mueller portrayal is more likely than not to reflect the actual situation.

  202. says

    SC @319, “Trump also insinuated that McCabe (and his wife?) might have kept some of the money for themselves.”

    Correct, he did do that. Trump was fact checked. Reporters looked at McCabe’s wife’s financial filings and found that the money she raised was spent on the campaign. Honesty … not something Trump is used to. I think Trump doesn’t understand that McCabe’s wife played by the rules. He just can’t get his head around it.

    Furthermore, McCabe checked in with ethics watchdogs at the FBI when his wife decided to run for office, and indication that McCabe wanted to play by the rules.

    Trump is a dolt.

    An extended version of Trump’s comments, (played, I think on All In and on the Maddow Show), indicated that Trump inserted the phrase, “and he had control of her,” or something similar when he was dissing McCabe and his wife. Trump rolled on past that phrase, sort of discarding it, but that’s another window into Trump’s thinking. He thinks McCabe, being the husband, had control over his wife, and that that makes Andrew McCabe more responsible for the connections to donors that know Hillary Clinton.

  203. says

    From Senator Schumer:

    Republican members of this body, I am ashamed to say, picked up on casual texts sent between FBI agents to say that there is a ‘secret society’ at the Department of Justice — without a shred of evidence.

    I saw the senator [GOP Sen. Ron Johnson] … propagating this on television this morning. It looked delusional. It looked paranoid. What began as an attempt to discredit the investigator has now devolved into delusional, self-serving paranoia.

    Schumer made the speech on the floor of the Senate

    In other news, Shep Smith of Fox News actually covered the real situation in Puerto Rico today. Good for him.

  204. says

    Follow-up to comment 324

    Senator Claire McCaskill called Ron Johnson’s bluff:

    As a former prosecutor I understand fully the power of allegations in the public domain. You have now made serious and damaging allegations. I would assume that you would never make those kinds of allegations without serious and substantial hard evidence.

    If the Committee has any evidence that the FBI is, as you have stated, biased and corrupt at the highest levels, I assume that evidence is strong in both quality and quantity, and extends far beyond a casual mention in a text message between two agents who were involved in personal crosstalk.

  205. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks.

    […] Donald Trump did that thing again! […] he emerged from John Kelly’s office Wednesday afternoon out of nowhere and decided to talk to reporters without adult supervision.

    It went badly. It always goes badly. We will start with the part that for sure gave his lawyers a heart attack, where he said publicly he CAN’T WAIT to go under oath in the Mueller investigation, unlike that criminal Hillary Clinton, who didn’t go under oath at all, did you know that? Did you know Hillary didn’t go under oath? Well if you don’t know Hillary didn’t do it under oath, MAGGIE HABERMAN, then you are a bad reporter, MAGGIE WITH THE BAD QUESTIONS.

    WaPo doesn’t identify her in the transcript, but Haberman is the one who asked the question, then got berated by Trump:

    REPORTER: Would you do it under oath, Mr. President?

    TRUMP: You mean like Hillary did it under — who said that?

    REPORTER: I said that.

    TRUMP: Oh.

    REPORTER: Would you do it under oath?

    TRUMP: Oh you said it. You did say it. You say a lot. Did Hillary do it under oath?

    REPORTER: I have no idea, but I’m not asking about —

    TRUMP: I think you have an idea. Don’t you have an idea? … Wait, wait, wait. Do you not have an idea? Do you really not have an idea? I’ll give you an idea. She didn’t do it under oath. But I would do it under oath. Listen, but I would do it. And you know she didn’t do it under oath, right? […] If you didn’t know about Hillary, then you’re not much of a reporter.

    REPORTER: Mr. President, you are going to do it under oath?

    REPORTER: To reach a higher standard, you would do it under oath?

    TRUMP: Oh, I would do it under oath.

    REPORTER: You would?

    TRUMP: Absolutely.
    The president is actually correct, that Hillary Clinton did not talk to the FBI under oath. A couple quick l’il problems, though. First, lying to the FBI is STILL A CRIME, regardless of whether or not one is under oath. […] Also too, you go under oath IN FRONT OF A GRAND JURY. So basically Trump was saying he is so excited to lie to a grand jury. […]

    (Of course, this is a good time to point out that Trump wouldn’t be at risk of falling into Mueller’s perjury traps if he wasn’t a LIARFUCKINGLIAR.)

    We must note that, at the beginning of the scrum, Trump said something he’s never repeated over and over again like his very good brain has been trapped in a loop for months:

    TRUMP: There’s been no collusion whatsoever. There’s no obstruction whatsoever. And I’m looking forward to it. I do worry when I look at all of the things that you people don’t report about, with what’s happening. If you take a look at, you know, the five months’ worth of missing texts — that’s a lot of missing texts. And as I said yesterday, that’s prime time.

    So you do sort of look at that and say, “What’s going on?” You do look at certain texts where they talk about insurance policies or insurance where they say the kinds of things they’re saying, you gotta be concerned. But I would love to do that, and I’d like to do it as soon as possible.


    We have this hilarious feeling in our stomach that Trump thinks he’s going to get to clap back at Mueller and ask him about the missing FBI sexts. He can’t possibly think that, can he? […]

    Finally, Trump told reporters he “couldn’t have cared less about Russians having to do with [his] campaign,” so interpret that as you will.

    Can’t wait for the grand jury testimony, dude.

  206. says

    “A New Reality? The Far Right’s Use of Cyberharassment against Academics: A firsthand account by a targeted faculty member.”

    …Academia has been too timid in countering such movements. We should not have to speak in hushed tones when we condemn hate groups. We should not have to be apprehensive when we promote democratic ideals and equality.

    It is essential, particularly over the next three years, that we confront the animosity and bigotry of soci­ety’s underbelly. Those in academia present an easy target—we are in public positions, open to scrutiny, and loathed by many.

    As a tenured professor, I am lucky enough to have been in a position to rebuff these hate crimes and to tell my story here. Unfortunately, there are millions more, in academia and elsewhere, who do not have that advantage. We must build unity with all of those whose human rights are infringed.

    I did not expect the country to be in such a perilous position in 2018. I have newfound concerns about the America in which my daughter and all other children will grow up. Now is not the time to shrink from con­fronting this threat.

  207. says

    Dutch agencies provide crucial intel about Russia’s interference in US-elections: Hackers from the Dutch intelligence service AIVD have provided the FBI with crucial information about Russian interference with the American elections. For years, AIVD had access to the infamous Russian hacker group Cozy Bear. That’s what de Volkskrant and Nieuwsuur have uncovered in their investigation.”

    I haven’t seen confirmation of this, and the translation is a little funky, but the claims are something.

  208. says

    Tom Perriello:

    Several Repub Senators will lose their seats for voting today against Medicaid expansion supported by 80% of Virginians – just like Repub Dels did in ‘17. But I take no joy in this when their vote blocked coverage for 400,000 Virginians and costs the middle class higher premiums.

    Terrible. I’m so sorry, Virginians.

  209. says

    I have a concern – serious, not joking. Does Sean Hannity have mouth cancer? He smokes cigars (and at one point cigarettes?), and there’s something strange about his mouth when he talks that seems like a growth. I assume he has the best medical care, but I’ve known people with mouth/throat cancer and I always think of it when I see some crazy clip of him. Maybe it’s chewing tobacco or gum or something…

  210. says

    “Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit”:

    President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.

    The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel. Mr. Mueller learned about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice….

  211. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ve noticed that MSNBC is calling Faux News the Trump Channel this week.

  212. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 334.

    First, Holy crap! Everything we learn puts Trump in a worse light.

    To add more detail:

    […] Trump reportedly said Mueller had conflicts of interest in his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, including a dispute over fees at Trump’s National Golf Club in Virginia and Mueller’s previous employment at a law firm that represent Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, according to the Times.

    Mueller recently found out about Trump’s attempt to have him fired, according to the Times, as his team has begun interviewing top current and former Trump officials.

  213. says

    Matthew Miller: “Tonight’s story breaking seven months after the events occurred is a reminder we have no idea how many lawless things Trump has done or how great his liability really is.”

    As I said during the election (paraphrasing): Trump is corrupt to the core of his being. He is a terrible person in every way. Everything we’ve learned and will learn can only further reveal this basic truth.

  214. Saad says

    SC, #348

    I can’t tell if I’m dreaming or if this is real.

    We’re at a time when Piers Morgan is the good guy in a conversation and where a general tweeting praise for a foreign-born US soldier is a rebuke of the commander in chief.

    Fuck. Can’t this nightmare be over already?

  215. says

    In the U.S. there have been 11 shootings on school property since January 1, 2018.

    Speaking to a meeting of mayors at the White House, Trump reinforced his strange approach to school shootings:

    We’re supporting our local police beyond what we’ve ever done. Great. And fire departments. We’re also getting you a lot of our excess military equipment; you know all about that. Previous administrations – but in particular, ‘-on’ – the previous administration, ‘-on’ – they didn’t like to do that, and someday they’ll explain why. But we had a lot of excess military equipment; we’re sending it to your police as they need it. And it’s made a tremendous difference.

    We believe every child deserves to live in a safe home, attend a great school, and look forward to an amazing and very, very safe future. So you’re getting a lot of equipment.

    YouTube link to video.

    Response from Washington Monthly’s Nancy LeTourneau:

    To suggest that turning schools into war zones with grenade launchers and armored personnel carriers will keep our children safe leaves me at a loss for words. It is utterly insane.

  216. says

    Here is Trump’s response to the reports that he tried to fire Robert Mueller in June:

    Fake news, fake news. Typical New York Times. Fake stories.

    Other media outlets have confirmed the story: Fox News, Washington Post, and Politico have all confirmed it.

  217. says

    The Mercer family has decided to funnel donations to climate change denial groups. From the Huffington Post:

    Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, are best known as the secretive billionaire megadonors who bankrolled and organized President Donald Trump’s campaign, poured at least $10 million into Breitbart News, and showered millions on a network of right-wing websites and think tanks. […]

    The Mercers are less well known as patrons of the climate change denial movement, yet their spending has been equally generous and appears to be increasing, according to new, previously unreleased tax filings reviewed by HuffPost.

    The Mercer Family Foundation in 2016 gave $800,000 to the Heartland Institute, a right-wing think tank and major proponent of climate change denialism, up from $100,000 the previous year. Heartland received about $5.2 million in average annual income between 2011 and 2015, meaning the Mercers’ donation could make up 15 percent of the organization’s funding in 2016.

    The foundation gave $200,000 for a second year in a row to the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, a discredited medial research group best known for spreading a hoax petition in 2009 claiming that 30,000 climatologists rejected global warming. Based on the organization’s average income for the last few years, that donation could make up anywhere from one-third to 62 percent of its budget. […]

    In its first year, the CO2 Coalition raised $404,384, so the donation the Mercers disclosed for last year increased the budget by nearly 40 percent. For Idso’s outfit, which took in just $194,757, according to its most recent filing, the Mercer money would mark a 64 percent budgetary increase. […]

    The spending is notable not only for the large amounts, but because it seems to mark a shift in the world of climate-denial funding, which was once bolstered mainly by fossil fuel titans like Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil Corp. but has now become too extreme even for some of its original benefactors. […]

    Speculation is that the Mercers are not just buying into the climate-change-denial market, but that what they are doing is building up an entirely new set of outlets for the dissemination of rightwing propaganda.

    Furthermore, the propaganda will be fake science. An increase is pseudo-science “journals” is expected, as well as increased interest in the pseudo-science journals that already exist.

  218. says

    Trump gave a speech at Davos. The audience responded with laughter and boos.

    After delivering a speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, President Trump did a brief question-and-answer sessions with WEF Chair Klaus Schwab. The second and final question Trump fielded was about what experiences he had earlier in his life that he thinks prepared him for the presidency.

    Trump’s response was not well received. First, he bragged about his business acumen and claimed he’s “always been successful at making money” — comments that elicited laughter for the crowd. But the laughs escalated to boos after Trump took aim at the “fake news” media. […]

    That wasn’t the only awkward moment during Trump’s WEF appearance. While he was being introduced before his speech, the crowd groaned when Schwab said to Trump, “I’m aware that your strong leadership is open to misconceptions and interpretation so it is so essential for us in the room to listen directly to you.” […]

    Video is available at the link.

  219. says

    “Dozens of People Recount Pattern of Sexual Misconduct by Las Vegas Mogul Steve Wynn”:

    …Beyond this incident, dozens of people The Wall Street Journal interviewed who have worked at Mr. Wynn’s casinos told of behavior that cumulatively would amount to a decadeslong pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn. Some described him pressuring employees to perform sex acts.

    Mr. Wynn’s political profile also has grown. He is a former casino-business rival of President Donald Trump, who said in 2016 that Mr. Wynn was a “great friend” whose advice he valued. After Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Wynn became the Republican National Committee’s finance chairman.

    The contrast between Mr. Wynn’s position and that of the salon and spa employees is stark. Former employees said their awareness of Mr. Wynn’s power in Las Vegas, combined with the knowledge that the jobs they held were among the best-paying available there, added up to a feeling of dependence and intimidation when Mr. Wynn made requests of them.

    Some said that feeling was heightened at times by the presence in a confined office space of one or more of his German shepherds, trained to respond to commands in German.

    The Journal contacted more than 150 people who work or had worked for Mr. Wynn; none reached out to the Journal on their own. Most of those who spoke to the Journal about Mr. Wynn said they worried that doing so could hurt their ability to work elsewhere because of his influence in the casino industry and the state.

    Former employees said they sometimes entered fake appointments in the books to help other female workers get around a request for services in Mr. Wynn’s office or arranged for others to pose as assistants so they wouldn’t be alone with him. They told of female employees hiding in the bathroom or backrooms when they learned he was on the way to the salon.

    “Everybody was petrified,” said Jorgen Nielsen, a former artistic director at the salon. Mr. Nielsen said he and others repeatedly told high-level company executives Mr. Wynn’s sexual advances were causing a problem, but “nobody was there to help us.”…

  220. says

    “Secret report: Honduras’ new top cop helped cartel move coke”:

    When Jose David Aguilar Moran took over as Honduras’ new national police chief last week, he promised to continue reforming a law enforcement agency stained by corruption and complicity with drug cartels.

    But a confidential Honduran government security report obtained by the Associated Press says Aguilar himself helped a cartel leader pull off the delivery of nearly a ton of cocaine in 2013.

    The clandestine haul of more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine was packed inside a tanker truck that, the report says, was being escorted by corrupt police officers to the home of Wilter Blanco, a drug trafficker recently convicted in Florida and now serving a 20-year sentence.

    Aguilar, who at the time was serving as chief of intelligence for Honduras’ National Police, intervened after a police official safeguarding the drugs was busted by a lower-ranked officer who had seized the tanker, the report says. The handcuffed officer called Aguilar, who ordered that the officer and the tanker be set free, says the report which was prepared by the Honduran Security Ministry’s Inspector General.

    The U.S. street value of the cocaine involved could have topped $20 million.

    The incident raises questions about Honduras’ much-touted purge of corrupt police and the reliability of the administration of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, a key U.S. ally in the war on drugs….

    But Obama surely could never have foreseen this when he backed an illegal rightwing military coup and then decided to send hundreds of millions to an illegitimate authoritarian regime while pretending not to notice its corruption, repression, and murders.

  221. says

    Saad @ #349,

    I can’t tell if I’m dreaming or if this is real.

    We’re at a time when Piers Morgan is the good guy in a conversation and where a general tweeting praise for a foreign-born US soldier is a rebuke of the commander in chief.

    Fuck. Can’t this nightmare be over already?

    I know. I hear people on TV refer to “the president” and remember they’re talking about Trump and can’t fully accept that it’s real. Queasiness, horror, disbelief.

  222. says

    FP – “Trump Launched Campaign to Discredit Potential FBI Witnesses”:

    President Donald Trump pressed senior aides last June to devise and carry out a campaign to discredit senior FBI officials after learning that those specific employees were likely to be witnesses against him as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two people directly familiar with the matter.

    Not long after Comey’s Senate testimony, Trump hired John Dowd, a veteran criminal defense attorney, to represent him in matters related to Mueller’s investigation. Dowd warned Trump that the potential corroborative testimony of the senior FBI officials in Comey’s account would likely play a central role in the special counsel’s final conclusion, according to people familiar with the matter.

    In discussions with at least two senior White House officials, Trump repeated what Dowd had told him to emphasize why he and his supporters had to “fight back harder,” in the words of one of these officials.

    Since Dowd gave him that information, Trump — as well as his aides, surrogates, and some Republican members of Congress — has engaged in an unprecedented campaign to discredit specific senior bureau officials and the FBI as an institution.

    The FBI officials Trump has targeted are Andrew McCabe, the current deputy FBI director and who was briefly acting FBI director after Comey’s firing; Jim Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff and senior counselor; and James Baker, formerly the FBI’s general counsel. Those same three officials were first identified as possible corroborating witnesses for Comey in a June 7 article in Vox. Comey confirmed in congressional testimony the following day that he confided in the three men.

    That Trump may have been motivated to attack specific FBI officials because they were potential witnesses against him could demonstrate potential intent that would bolster an obstruction of justice case.

  223. says

    “Exclusive: Frustrated State Department employees hire attorneys, charging ‘political retribution'”:

    A growing number of State Department employees are charging they are being put in career purgatory because of their previous work on policy priorities associated with President Barack Obama and in offices the Trump administration is interested in closing.

    The situation has got so serious that several officials tell CNN they have retained attorneys after repeatedly trying unsuccessfully to raise concerns about being assigned to low-level jobs in Foggy Bottom such as answering Freedom of Information Act requests.

    The issue has also come to the attention of senior Democrats on Capitol Hill….

  224. says

    Steve Wynn – who has extensive business interests in Macau and has rubbed shoulders with the mafia for decades – was the co-host of Trump’s $50,000 a plate GOP fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago last week.”

    (Can reporters also pay more attention to his role in the Guo story?)

  225. says

    Manu Raju:

    Feinstein fires off letters to a host of current and former White House aides, including Don McGahn, Sean Spicer and Stephen Miller, asking for documents and interviews in Russia probe.

    At the same time, Graham and Grassley send their own letters – to Hillary camp, DNC, Podesta and others – pushing them on their ties to Christopher Steele.

  226. says

    NEW: Trump campaign adviser Walid Phares has been interviewed by the special counsel multiple times over the past year, according to two sources familiar with the matter.”

    (Note: this is from someone at OANN, which is literally still showing Clinton Cash, so I wouldn’t remotely trust it until it’s confirmed by reputable sources.)

  227. says

    “RNC Silent So Far About Contributions From Steve Wynn After Allegations He Forced Women Into Sex”:

    Just months after the Republican Party worked to tie Democrats to alleged serial sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein, the GOP’s chief fundraiser has been accused of pressuring multiple women, over the course of decades, into performing sex acts.

    The report…puts the RNC in a bind after it made a show of demanding that Democrats return money that Weinstein donated to their campaigns over his years of activity in party fundraising circles. Numerous Democrats ended up giving their Weinstein donations to either charities or, in some cases, political groups who work to elect progressive female lawmakers. Officials at the RNC and those close to it deemed such giving insufficient and accused other lawmakers of being complicit in not forcefully condemning Weinstein.

    The RNC, which last year chose not to distance itself from another official credibly accused of sexual harassment—Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore—did not respond to a request for comment as to whether they would now do the same. Nor did Sean Spicer, the president’s former press secretary and the committee’s former top strategist, who was particularly aggressive in criticizing Democrats after the Weinstein revelations.

    Wynn has donated more than $2 million to Republican campaigns, party organs, and interest groups since 2001, according to FEC records. That includes more than $1.3 million to the Republican National Committee (compared with the $300,0000 in donations that Weinstein gave to the DNC) and the party’s House and Senate campaign arms. He also bundled between $250,000 and $500,000 for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign.

    In addition to his donations in support of Trump’s election, Wynn spearheaded fundraising for the president’s inaugural committee, which raked in a record-smashing $107 million. He was subsequently appointed as the RNC’s chief moneyman. Under his purview, the RNC has recruited other fundraisers close to the president, such as Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime attorney….

  228. says

    Taking a closer look at just one of Trump’s lies. The lie about Apple was told during an interview with CNBC’s Joe Kernen in Davos:

    […] Trump keeps getting facts wrong

    In a fairly typically Trumpian gesture, one of the president’s first remarks explains that most people don’t appreciate the significance of Apple’s commitment to invest $350 billion in US manufacturing facilities. Most people probably don’t appreciate this because it isn’t true. […]

    [Trump said} So when I decided to come to Davos, I didn’t think in terms of elitists or globalists. I think I thought in terms of lots of people that want to invest lots of money, and they’re all coming back to the United States, they’re coming back to America. And I thought of it much more in those terms. After I said that I was going, there were massive stories about the elite, and the globalists, and the planes flying in, and everything else. It’s not about that. It’s about coming to America, investing your money, creating jobs, companies coming in.

    We’re setting records every week; every day we’re setting records. You see what’s going on. Apple now with $350 billion. Most people thought they meant $350 million, which would build a nice plant. But I spoke with Tim Cook, and I was very honored. But you remember my campaign, I used to say, “I won’t consider this great unless Apple starts coming in and really investing big money doing the plants.” They’re gonna do a lot. [end quote from Trump]

    What Apple actually promised was to make $30 billion in domestic capital investments, most of which will be data centers, offices, and Apple Store real estate upgrades rather than actual manufacturing facilities.

    The $350 billion measure is a rough five-year estimate of Apple’s total “contribution” to the American economy. If you’re playing Infinite Golf on your iPhone and make an in-app purchase, that contributes to GDP. Since the contribution is routed through Apple, your spending becomes part of the Apple contribution to the American economy. It’s a semi-fake measure that’s basically a long-winded way of saying that Apple is a very big company.

  229. says

    Follow-up to comment 366.

    Taking a closer look at another one of Trump’s lies, a lie about DACA that Trump told during the same Davos interview:

    […]Trump doesn’t know he canceled DACA

    One of the more striking moments in the interview comes when Kernen asks Trump about negotiations over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the status of talks over border security funding.

    The entire legislative standoff over this was precipitated by Trump’s decision to cancel the Obama-era DACA program, meaning that unauthorized immigrants protected from deportation would lose those protections beginning in March. Except Trump doesn’t seem to realize this!

    “And by the way, the court — it wasn’t me,” Trump says. “The courts were not upholding that executive order.”

    This just didn’t happen. President Obama launched DACA in 2012, and there was no legal controversy about it. Then in late 2014, he promulgated a broader program of immigration protections that a bunch of Republican attorneys general sued over. They got a lower court to stay the broader program, the White House appealed, and after the election, Trump quit defending the White House position.

    Then in summer 2017, a group of Republican attorneys general in favor of immigration restrictions threatened to sue over DACA if the Trump administration didn’t get rid of the program by September 5, and just as that deadline was about to hit, Trump announced that the program would end in March.

    No actual litigation took place. […]


  230. says

    The Kushner family lost a court battle to keep the identity of some business partners secret:

    ]…] A U.S. district judge in [Maryland] rejected the argument that the privacy rights of the Kushner Cos. partners outweigh the public interest in obtaining judicial records in a lawsuit before the court. The decision means the company tied to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law might be forced to provide a rare glimpse into how it finances its real estate ventures.

    The ruling backed the argument by The Associated Press and other news organizations that the media has a “presumptive right” to see such court documents and the Kushner Cos. had not raised a “compelling government interest” needed by law to block access.

    U.S. District Court Judge James K. Bredar ruled that Westminster Management, a Kushner Cos. subsidiary, must file an unsealed document with the identity of its partners by Feb. 9.

    The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by tenants last year alleging Westminster charges excessive and illegal rent for apartments in the state. The lawsuit seeks class-action status for tenants in 17 apartment complexes owned by the company.

    Westminster has said it has broken no laws and denies the charges. […]

    In the report, Kushner showed he still owned a stake in Westminster Management, the subsidiary in the Maryland case. The report showed he received $1.6 million in income from it.


    Get ready to hear about more Russian business partners.

  231. says

    We could all see this coming. Donald Trump’s mouth has cost U.S. 40,000 jobs and $4.6 billion in lost tourism

    Travel to the U.S. has been on the decline ever since President Donald Trump took office, and new data shows the slump translates to a cost of $4.6 billion in lost spending and 40,000 jobs.

    The latest data from the National Travel and Tourism Office shows a 3.3 percent drop in travel spending and a 4 percent decline in inbound travel.

    The downturn has also caused America to lose its spot as the world’s second-most popular destination for foreign travel, ceding to Spain. (France is in first place).

    NBC News link, additional link for more info.

  232. says

    From Michael Steele, the former Republican National Committee chairman, speaking to religious right leaders who gave Trump a free pass on the Stormy Daniels affair:

    Just shut the hell up and don’t ever preach to me about anything ever again. I don’t want to hear it…. After telling me how to live my life, who to love, what to believe, what not to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you sit back and the prostitutes don’t matter? The grabbing the you-know-what doesn’t matter? The outright behavior and lies don’t matter? Just shut up.

    To clarify, Stormy Daniels is a porn star, not a prostitute.

    Video available on the Huffington Post website. The excerpt is from “Hardball” on MSNBC. The segment features other panelists, and not just Michael Steele.

  233. says

    Follow-up to comments 354, 360 and 363. Steve Wynn has resigned as Finance Chair of the Republican National committee.

    Republicans are still mostly silent when it comes to commenting on the fact that dozens of women have accused Wynn of sexual harassment.

  234. says

    More fact-checking related to statements Trump made at Davos:

    […] TRUMP: “After years of stagnation, the United States is once again experiencing strong economic growth.”

    THE FACTS: This is an exaggeration. The economy is doing better by some measures but data released right as Trump finished speaking shows it hasn’t yet accelerated meaningfully since his inauguration. […]

    Trump was gunning for 3 percent or better, and confident about his chances. He reached that goal in two quarters and frequently pointed out that President Barack Obama never saw 3 percent growth for a year.

    “It was not like that in your last administration,” Trump said at a rally in Pensacola, Florida, on Dec. 8. “Economic growth last quarter surged to 3.3 percent. You know where it was, right? When we started — you know where it was? Bingo. (Now) 3.3 percent and it’s going a lot higher. You know, I used to hear, ‘You’ll never hit 3 percent. You’ll never hit 2 1/2. You figure maybe 2.3 percent, 2.4 percent.’”

    Those doubters figured correctly: It was 2.3 percent.
    TRUMP: “Since my election, we’ve created 2.4 million jobs. And that number is going up very, very substantially.”

    THE FACTS: Actually, job growth is going down.

    Looking at annual totals, rather than since the November 2016 election, U.S. companies and other employers added 2.1 million jobs in 2017. That was actually the lowest job growth in seven years. […]
    TRUMP: “The tax cut bill is expected to raise the average American’s household income by more than $4,000.”

    THE FACTS: Most mainstream economists are skeptical of this figure. The average household will see its income rise $1,610 in 2018 because of cuts in income tax, according to the Tax Policy Center.

    The $4,000 figure refers to an estimate by White House economist Kevin Hassett that the cut in the corporate tax rate, to 21 percent from 35 percent, will lift household income by that much on average. This is based on the idea that companies will use their higher profits to invest more in machinery and other tools that will make workers more productive and therefore able to demand higher pay. That may happen, but it would take years to occur and most economists expect the benefit, if any, for most workers will be smaller. […]


    For Trump’s lies about Apple, see comment 366.

  235. says

    Mick Mulvaney is another swamp creature in Trump’s orbit. He recently asked for no money, none, to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I guess that’s because he doesn’t want the Bureau to actually do anything.

    [The CFPB] announced it was ending its investigation into installment-loan lender World Acceptance Corporation on Monday. Mulvaney and the Trump administration are known to be friendly to the payday loan industry, […] Based in Mulvaney’s home state of South Carolina, the company made multiple donations to Mulvaney’s congressional campaigns, going back to 2013. […]

    The folks at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) […] filed a FOIA request demanding any and all correspondence between World Acceptance Corporation employees and Mulvaney–both before he joined the CFPB, and after. […]

    […] all predatory lenders are not equal. World isn’t a payday lender; they’re in the business of “installment loans”—and while the terms are used interchangeably, the rules are different in installment world.

    The federal probe was launched in March 2014 and sought to determine if World’s marketing and lending practices were in line with regulations created under the Obama administration to regulate predatory lenders from destroying the lives of low-income borrowers. The investigation began after a 2013 ProPublica report (that everyone in this country should read) shed light on the realities of World’s business model. […]

    World and its competitors push customers to renew their loans over and over again, transforming what the industry touts as a safe, responsible way to pay down debt into a kind of credit card with sky-high annual rates, sometimes more than 200 percent. […]

    The payday lending industry has aligned itself with Trump […] Advance America, the nation’s largest payday lender, donated $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration. Rod Aycox, a title loan executive, contributed $500,000; his wife kicked in another $500,000. The payday lending industry’s trade group, the Community Financial Services Association of America, will hold its 2018 annual conference and expo at the Trump National Doral resort in Miami.

  236. says

    Trump picks the strangest fights on Twitter. He is currently fighting with Jay-Z:

    Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!

    As usual, Trump gave himself too much credit.

    […] The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier in January that unemployment among black workers is at its lowest since the bureau started tracking such data, but that unemployment rate has been declining since 2011, and has fallen consistently since then. Despite his claims, Trump’s policies do not appear to have affected that rate. […]


    […] Since Trump first took credit for the lower unemployment rates earlier this month, journalists and economists have noted that he isn’t really the cause of the decline. Unemployment among black Americans has been declining pretty steadily after coming close to 17 percent in 2011. Over at the Washington Post, Philip Bump points out that unemployment numbers for black Americans have fallen relatively consistently for the past several years. By the time Trump entered the Oval Office in January 2017, the black unemployment rate was at 7.8 percent.

    “From January to December 2017, the unemployment rate among black Americans fell 1 percentage point,” Bump explains. “During the same period in 2016, it fell the same amount. In 2015, it fell 1.9 points. The previous year, it fell 1.5 points. The year before that, it fell 1.8 points.”

    Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, says Trump can’t really take credit for this trajectory. “Trump has had nothing to do with the decline in African-American jobless rates, or any other group’s rates,” Bernstein told Vox in an email Wednesday. “He’s completely riding a trend he inherited.” […]


    What did Jay-Z say to elicit Trump’s Twitter ire? Jay-Z responded to this question, “He [Trump] is somebody who is now saying, ‘I’m growing black employment. Black people are doing well under my administration.’ Does he have a point that maybe the Democrats have been giving us good lip service but no jobs? Maybe he’s going to say terrible things, but put money in our pocket. Does that make him a good leader?” Jay-Z said:

    No. It’s not about money at the end of the day. Money doesn’t equate to, like, happiness, it doesn’t. Missing the whole point.the Treat people like human beings, that’s the whole point.

    That’s the main point. You can’t treat someone like … goes back to the whole thing, treat me really bad but pay me really well. It’s not gonna lead to happiness, it’s going to lead to the same thing. Everyone’s going to be sick.

    Jay-Z also responded to a question about Trump calling some nations “shitholes.”

    It’s disappointing and hurtful. It really is hurtful, more so. Everyone feels anger. After the anger, it’s really hurtful because you’re looking down on a whole population of people. And you’re so misinformed, because these places have beautiful people and beautiful everything. And this is the leader of the free world speaking like this.

  237. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump supporters in Arizona have really gone too far. This is dangerous.

    Supporters of President Donald Trump singled out dark-skinned lawmakers, legislative staffers and children at the Capitol on Jan. 25 as they protested congressional efforts to pass immigration reform, […]

    Waving large flags in support of Trump while standing between the House and Senate buildings, the protesters, who were also armed, asked just about anyone who crossed their path if they “support illegal immigration […]


    […] Lisette Flores and Selianna Robles, policy advisers for Senate Democrats, said they were yelled at when they walked from the Senate to the House lawn, directly passing the Trump supporters, to get lunch at a farmers market. Three white coworkers offered to escort Flores, Robles, and Democratic staffer Dora Ramirez back to their offices, Robles said.

    “We’re walking back, and they start yelling again, ‘Get out of the country.’ At that point, they pointed to Lisette, called her an illegal, and said, ‘Get out, go back home!’” Robles said. “But they pointed at Jane (Ahern), who works for the House, and they said, ‘No, you can stay.’”

    Ahern, a policy adviser for House Democrats, is white… […]

    Lawmakers said they were also questioned based on their appearance. Rep. Eric Descheenie, D-Chinle, said he was confronted by Trump supporters while helping defend a young student that he said was being harassed.

    They asked Descheenie, a Navajo lawmaker, if he was in the United States illegally.

    “I’m indigenous to these lands,” Descheenie said. “My ancestors fought and died on these lands. I just told them, ‘Don’t ask me that question.’”

    Rep. César Chávez, D-Phoenix, said he was approached by a female Trump supporter asking who he was and who he represents. […]

    Arizona Capitol Times link

  238. says

    From Lindsey Graham:

    I’ve got legislation protecting Mr. Mueller, and I’ll be glad to pass it tomorrow. I don’t know what happened back last year, but it’s pretty clear to me that everybody in the White House knows it’d be the end of President Trump’s presidency if he fired Mr. Mueller, so I think we’re in a good spot. I think Mr. Mueller’s the perfect guy to get to the bottom of all this, and he will. And I think my job, among others, is to give him the space to do it. I intend to do that.

    From House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy:

    I don’t think there’s a need for legislation right now to protect Mueller.

    If there’s an issue that arises, we’ll take it up at that time. But right now there’s not an issue, so why create one when there isn’t a place for it?

    From Representative Trey Gowdy:

    He [Mueller] didn’t apply for the job. He’s where he is because we have an attorney general who had to recuse himself. So Mueller didn’t raise his hand and say, hey, pick me. We, as a country, asked him to do this. […]

    I told my Republican colleagues, leave him the hell alone, and that’s still my advice.

  239. says

    Representative Joe Kennedy, a Democrat from Massachusetts, invited a transgender soldier to join him at the State of the Union on Tuesday. Link. Staff Sgt. Patricia King has served in the U.S. military for almost 19 years.

    Kennedy will deliver the Democratic Party’s response to Trump’s SOTU speech.

    I expect Trump to semi-competently read from a teleprompter a speech that someone else wrote for him.

  240. says

    The conclusion of a longer, thoughtful article by Josh Marshall:

    […] Trump is a lawless President. He has a moral disability which makes it extremely difficult for him to follow the law. His aides and staffers have been caught in a pitiful drama of alternatively trying to save him from himself and becoming complicit in his wrongdoing. Robert Mueller really does seem like his worst nightmare. Whether he knows it or not.

  241. says

    Another Republican is retiring:

    House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) will retire at the end of his term, he announced Monday, opening up another swing district ahead of the 2018 elections. […]


  242. says

    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, invited Carmen Cruz, the Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to attend the State of the Union address.

    Cruz is the woman that Trump called an “ingrate” when she tried to get more help for Puerto Ricans after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Cruz is a fearless advocate for Puerto Ricans, and she did not give Trump the uncritical praise that he wanted. Cruz is a leader, but Trump said she exhibited “poor leadership.” Trump also said that Puerto Ricans want “everything to be done for them.”

    Here’s an update on the situation in Puerto Rico now: 69.42 percent of pre-storm electricity subscribers have power, but blackouts are still frequent. People who have power don’t have reliable power. An estimated 450,000 people have no power and are relying on generators. Clean drinking water is still not consistently available for many Puerto Ricans, and food spoilage is a problem that is related to the lack of electrical power.

  243. says

    From Janelle Monae, speaking at the Grammy award ceremony:

    And to those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s up.

    We say time’s up for pay inequality, time’s up for discrimination, time’s up for harassment of any kind, and time’s up for the abuse of power. Because you see, it’s not just going on in Hollywood, it’s not just going on in Washington, it’s right here in our industry as well.

    And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well. So, let’s work together, women and men, as a united music industry committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay and access for all women.

    Link to video

    From Singer/songwriter Logic:

    Bring us your tired, your poor, and any immigrant who seeks refuge, for together we can build not just a better country, but a world that is destined to be united. […] To all the beautiful countries, you are not shitholes.

    Kendrick Lamar opened the show with the help of U2 and Dave Chappelle. From Dave Chappelle:

    I just wanted to remind everybody that the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America … is being an honest black man in America.

    Performance video available at the link.

  244. says

    Follow-up to comments 65, 75, 90, 211, 215, 291, and 302.

    More information concerning that “secret memo” that Nunes is promoting, and that now has the backing of Hair Furor as well:

    The contents of a secretive memo being circulated by Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill were finally made public on Sunday, after sources spoke with The New York Times and laid them out in detail. For the most part, the report appears to back what Democrats have contended: that the memo is comprised of “cherry-picked” facts meant to paint the Justice Department — which is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials — in a bad light.

    The memo, which Republicans have called “shocking,” “troubling,” and “worse than Watergate,” reportedly focuses on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was appointed in April 2017. The Times report states that the memo shows Rosenstein “approved an application to extend surveillance” on former Trump campaign associate Carter Page, a subject in the ongoing Russia investigation, shortly after taking office.

    As the Times notes, the surveillance renewal simply proves that the Justice Department, under Rosenstein’s guidance, “saw reason to believe that [Page] was acting as a Russian agent.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who supported President Trump during the 2016 election, recused himself from the Russia investigation in March last year. […]

    “…The reference to Mr. Rosenstein’s actions in the memo — a much-disputed document that paints the investigation into Russian election meddling as tainted from the start — indicates that Republicans may be moving to seize on his role as they seek to undermine the inquiry,” […]

    […] the Republican assertion is that Rosenstein — a former member of the Whitewater investigation into President Bill Clinton — failed to communicate to the surveillance court judge that the Justice Department request to continue monitoring Page’s actions was based on information produced by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, who was hired by Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s campaign to seek out opposition research on Trump’s team. Steele was also retained by the research firm Fusion GPS, on behalf of the conservative Washington Free Beacon, early on in the campaign. (Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion GPS, has repeatedly claimed that the decision to launch the Russia investigation was not based on information gleaned from his firm’s and Steele’s research.)

    The memo also implies that Rosenstein “failed to properly vet a highly sensitive application for a warrant to spy on Mr. Page.” However, as the Times points out, “no information has publicly emerged” proving Rosenstein or the Justice Department did anything wrong in seeking to extend surveillance on Page, who testified before the House Intelligence Committee in November that he had contact with Russian officials during his time as a foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign. […]

    Yep, not so shocking after all … and that’s after the Republicans cherry-picked all the material in order to create a memo/report that condemns the FBI and the Justice Department. Another failure to add to the load that Nunes is already carrying.

    The memo itself is still not officially available. It supposedly contains classified material that should not be made public. And Nunes have refused to let the FBI and the Justice Department see the memo. They don’t want to see their precious propaganda debunked before it is released.

  245. says

    Well, McCabe has stepped down.

    Deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe has stepped down from his post effective immediately, according to NBC News.

    McCabe was originally set to retire in March, when he is fully eligible for pension benefits, following increasing criticisms from Republicans of political bias in the FBI and the investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.


  246. tomh says

    Looks like McCabe made a deal so that he’ll be on leave until his retirement date, when his pension kicks in.

  247. says

    Follow-up to comment 385.

    FBI Director Andrew McCabe may have accrued as much a three weeks of leave (or more?), so it is possible that he is stepping down now from his leadership position in order to take his paid leave before his retirement-eligible date comes up in March. Word is that he will officially be employed by the FBI until mid-March.

    However, keep this in mind:

    […] McCabe’s decision to step down comes as Trump has publicly criticized the deputy director for months, falsely claiming in tweets that Hillary Clinton gave McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, “big dollars” for a Virginia state senate seat race in 2015.

  248. says

    Thanks, tomh, in comment 385. I see we were following the same news. I still think that Trump will view McCabe’s stepping down as a win.

    The picture is still murky. This is from Steve Brusk of CNN:

    From our Justice team One source said FBI Deputy Director McCabe’s departure was not in the plans as of Friday. The source said McCabe was told this morning to step down. A second source described McCabe’s departure as being “removed”.

  249. says

    Scott Pruitt is worse than we thought.

    Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was personally involved in the purging of information from the agency’s website in the early months of the Trump administration, according to documents obtained by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

    Soon after President Donald Trump took office, pages on the EPA’s website about climate change started disappearing or getting redirected to sites touting the president’s fossil fuel agenda. Along with webpages about climate change and climate science, the purge removed the agency’s webpage about the Clean Power Plan, the signature Obama administration effort to curb carbon emissions from power plants and one that Pruitt is now attempting to repeal, the environmental group said Monday in a news release.

    “Obscuring information thwarts meaningful public participation in EPA’s work to protect Americans’ health and safety. It reinforces serious concerns that Pruitt has predetermined that he will repeal the Clean Power Plan, and that the current rulemaking process is a sham,” EDF attorney Ben Levitan said in a statement.

    […] In August, in a separate records batch, the environmental group received more than 1,900 climate-related web pages and files that had been removed from or modified on the EPA’s website. […]


  250. says

    From CBS News:

    FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has stepped down, CBS News’ Pat Milton reports; source says McCabe was “forced to step down”

    In other news, here’s one way to stay off the list of sanctioned Russian oligarchs:

    […] Lawyers to oligarchs have even suggested that billionaires might divorce their wives on paper and re-register assets in their ex-wives’ names, […]

    Billionaire investor Roman Abramovich did announce plans to divorce his wife Daria Zhukova on August 7, five days after Trump signed the sanctions bill, […] While billionaire and aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska—a Putin confidante who conducted about $60 million worth of business dealings with now-indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort—signed over a 7 percent stake in his holding company to his wife Polina this fall, a Deripaska associate told the Bell the sale had nothing to do with the new sanctions bill. […]


  251. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    There are different flavors of leave that have different rules wrt retirement. Annual leave may be taken prior to retirement or can be converted into a lump sum upon retirement. Sick leave can be converted into an annuity. Time off awards cannot be converted, so if you don’t take them before you retire, you lose them.

    So, McCabe may have time-off awards or he may simply be taking leave and using it to give Tronald Dump the salute he deserves.

  252. says

    A correction: I previously identified Andrew McCabe last “FBI Director,” but he is/was the Deputy Director.

    A December bully Tweets from Trump:

    How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?

  253. says

    Follow-up to comment 391.

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaking at White House press conference today, claims that Trump was not part of the decision-making leading up to McCabe stepping down. See comment 391 to see that Trump was involved.

  254. says

    Football players are rejecting Trump … again:

    Chris Long, defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles, said Sunday that he won’t visit the White House if his team wins the Super Bowl next week. […]

    “No, I’m not going to the White House,” he said. “Are you kidding me?”


  255. says

    As noted up-thread, Democrats who are attending the State of the Union speech by Trump are also bringing Dreamers with them. In a particularly nasty move, Todd Starnes of Fox News suggested that the Dreamers be rounded up right there in the halls of Congress:

    The illegal aliens will be sitting in seats that in previous years were meant for brave military heroes, law-abiding taxpayers and America’s best and brightest.

    The sad truth is that Democrats would rather align themselves with foreign invaders who violated our national sovereignty, thumbed their nose at the rule of law, and pillaged and plundered taxpayer-funded resources.

    In response, President Trump should fill the remainder of the House gallery with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

    Imagine the message he could send to the world if he directed ICE agents to arrest every illegal alien in the House chamber – live on national television.

    From Wonkette:

    […] Really? People who were brought here as children and are just trying to not get deported to a country they’ve never actually lived in are “foreign invaders” who pillage and plunder? Really? DACA is something that is supported pretty widely in this country, by 86% of the populace, in fact! […]

    The Right doesn’t just resent empathy, they fear it. This is why they dig their feet into the ground and say “fuck your feelings” and get so furious about things like “virtue signaling” and “victim culture.” […]

  256. says

    Hillary Clinton read a passage from “Fire and Fury” during the Grammy awards show last night. Video is available here.

    […] John Legend read the bit about Donald Trump not reading anything, Cher read the part about Trump’s hair color resulting from his being too impatient to leave “Just For Men” in very long, then Snoop Dogg (note the little wisp of digital-effects smoke, ha! ha!) took the part where Trump was angry that no big stars showed up for his inauguration, and added “I definitely wasn’t there.”

    Cardi B, a rapper […] read the thing about Trump’s fondness for eating cheeseburgers in bed, and pretended to be grossed out: “Why am I even reading this sh-[bleep]? I can’t believe that he really — This is how he lives his life?” Then DJ Khaled […] read the stuff about Trump freaking out at and telling housekeepers not to pick his shirts up off the floor, because that’s where he wants ’em. […]

    The last “audition” was somebody holding the book briefly in front of her face, then lowering it to reveal she was the devil incarnate. […] She read the passage about Trump’s fear of being poisoned:

    One reason why he likes to eat at McDonald’s. Nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made.

    You can’t tell from the pre-recorded video above, but the audience went nuts and cheered and stuff. It was nicely done!

    The joke was NOT APPRECIATED by at least two members of TrumpWorld. Nikki Haley’s whole evening was ruined by the spectacle, because why would you go and bring politics into the popular music? […]

    From Donald Junior:

    Getting to read a #fakenews book excerpt at the Grammys seems like a great consolation prize for losing the presidency. #GrammyAwards

  257. says

    From Steve Benen:

    […] At a press briefing last week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders used similar phrasing when asked about Nunes’ document and its possible release. “We certainly support full transparency,” the president’s spokesperson argued, adding, “And as I said yesterday, and we’ve said many times before on a number of different issues, we certainly support that transparency…. [W]e support full transparency.”

    First, it’s worth pausing to appreciate the irony of the circumstances. Donald Trump won’t release his tax returns. Trump’s White House won’t release its visitor logs. Trump’s inaugural committee won’t disclose its controversial finances. Trump’s Florida resort has gone to court to keep its customer list secret. Trump’s White House even tries to obscure his golfing habits.

    For Trump World to suggest it “prefers transparency” is, if we’re being charitable, amusing.

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeated the same “transparency” lie today.

  258. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Tronald Dump and transparency…Hmmm

    Well, on the other hand, anyone with half a brain can see right through these idiots.

  259. says

    Trump reportedly said to McCabe at one point, “Ask your wife how it feels to be a loser.”

    Trump called McCabe to complain that Comey, after Trump fired him, was able to fly back to Washington D.C. on a government plane.

  260. says

    From Lara Trump, discussing Hillary Clinton’s appearance at the Grammys (see comment 395):

    It’s a ridiculous book. And, you know, I find it so despicable, so sad that I guess Hillary Clinton feels she needs to validate herself and put herself back out there by doing something this ridiculous. It was just really disgusting I thought.

    I watched that part of the Grammys. It was great, and the audience loved it.

    Lara Trump was speaking on Fox News.

  261. says

    Follow-up to comment 398.

    […] Trump reportedly called then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey and told McCabe he should ask his wife how it felt to be a loser, NBC News reported Monday.

    Trump called McCabe last year to demand why Comey was allowed to fly on a FBI plane from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., after being fired.

    McCabe told Trump that he hadn’t been asked about the flight but that he would have authorized it if he had.

    Trump fell silent before lashing out at McCabe and telling him to ask his wife what it felt like to be a loser, according to NBC.

    McCabe’s wife had run as a Democrat for state office in Virginia but had lost the race.

    The FBI head replied, “OK, sir,” before Trump ended the call.

    The new report comes the same day it was reported that McCabe was stepping down as deputy director of the FBI amid attacks by Trump and Republicans.


  262. says

    Another Trump tantrum:

    […] Trump blew up in anger after learning that a top Department of Justice (DOJ) official had warned against releasing a classified memo by Republican staffers that allegedly proves an anti-Trump bias in the DOJ and FBI, Bloomberg reported Monday.

    Trump was furious when he learned that Associate Attorney General Stephen Boyd had said it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release the classified memo.

    The incident reportedly took place as Trump was traveling to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week.

    Sources told Bloomberg that Trump viewed Boyd’s letter warning against the release of the memo as another attempt by the DOJ and FBI to undercut him.

    He also saw it as a way to block the GOP push to reveal what Trump thinks is a politically motivated attack against him in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, according to the report.

    Other sources told Bloomberg that Trump had also personally reprimanded Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other DOJ officials earlier in the week, telling them they needed to improve in their jobs or be remembered as the worst in history. […]


  263. says

    More on the Trump tantrums, (this is a summary from David Kurtz):

    ‘Erupted In Anger’
    “Trump erupted in anger while traveling to Davos after learning that Associate Attorney General Stephen Boyd warned that it would be ‘extraordinarily reckless’ to release a classified memo written by House Republican staffers.”

    Obsessed With Strzok and Page
    “Trump met with Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray at the White House last Monday to discuss missing text messages sent between two FBI agents who had expressed anti-Trump views.”

    Dispatched COS Kelly To Read Officials The Riot Act
    “Kelly held separate meetings or phone calls with senior Justice Department officials last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to convey Trump’s displeasure and lecture them on the White House’s expectations, according to the people.”

    Disclaimer Of The Decade
    “Kelly has taken to ending such conversations with a disclaimer that the White House isn’t expecting officials to do anything illegal or unethical.”

    Paranoid Much?
    “The president is frustrated that Justice Department officials keep getting involved in issues related to the probe when they don’t need to, leading him to wonder if anyone was trying to protect people implicated in the GOP memo, according to one person familiar with the matter.”

    I cannot imagine how or why White House counsel Don McGahn is counseling the president to show restraint and yet allowing the President and his chief of staff to explode at top Justice Department officials about matters deeply related to the Mueller probe. Can we see the memos to the file that Sessions and Wray must be writing after these tongue lashings, please?

    It’s happening in semi-slow motion, so it may not be apparent how damaging these developments are to the independence and integrity of the Justice Department and federal law enforcement. But this IS the rank politicization that we’ve feared since day one. Allegra Kirkland has more today on the extraordinary war Trump has declared on his own Justice Department.

  264. says

    Trump is suing Palm Beach County:

    In another indication that the world’s most powerful politician has few qualms about battling local public officials, President Donald Trump again has sued the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser over the valuation of his Trump National Golf Club.

    The suit marks the fifth year in a row that Trump has disputed the property tax bill for the 131-acre course along Donald Ross Road. Even as he fights the county’s $19.7 million estimate, Trump’s financial disclosures in 2016 and 2017 list the value of Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter as “over $50 million.”

    Based on the property appraiser’s valuation, the Palm Beach County Tax Collector sent Trump a bill for $398,315. Trump responded with a lawsuit — and a wire transfer for $296,595.01, which his Tampa-based attorney described as “a good faith estimate” of the sum Trump really owes.

    While Trump’s three-page suit doesn’t say how much he thinks the course should be worth, Jupiter Golf Club pays property taxes at a rate of 2 percent. So by claiming he was overcharged by $101,720, Trump asserts that the property appraiser overvalued the course by more than $5 million.

    Palm Beach Daily News link

  265. says

    Under the Trump administration’s plan, pipelines through national parks would only need the approval of the secretary of interior.

    Yikes! Sounds like a giveaway to the oil and gas industries.

    Since the 1920s, companies seeking to build pipelines through national parks have had to obtain approval from Congress — but a single provision in the Trump administration’s proposed infrastructure plan could completely upend that status quo.

    According to a leaked draft of the infrastructure plan obtained by the Washington Post, the administration is considering proposing changes to the approval process for natural gas pipelines that cross National Park Service owned land. The change would only require approval from the secretary of the interior — a move that environmental and conservation groups derided as a giveaway to the oil and gas industry at the expense of public lands. […]


  266. says

    We the taxpayers paid for Trump and his enormous entourage to fly to Davos. While he was there, Trump met with one of his Dubai business partners.

    Donald Trump has pledged to keep his distance from his businesses and vowed that his company would not enter into any new foreign deals during his presidency. But during the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Trump hobnobbed with at least one of his foreign business partners, Dubai billionaire Hussain Sajwani, once again highlighting the blurry lines between his corporate empire and his presidency. […]

    In 2014, Trump had licensed his name for a luxury golf development that Sajwani’s company was constructing outside Dubai. Since then, he has reported earning between $2 million and $10 million on the deal. And at the press conference, he maintained that Sajwani had recently approached him with a more lucrative venture. “Over the weekend I was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai with a very, very, very amazing man, a great great developer from the Middle East,” Trump said. “Hussein, DAMAC, a friend of mine, a great guy. I was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai, a number of deals, and I turned it down.” […]

    Hussain Sajwani turned up again at Trump’s side in Davos over the weekend. The elder Sajwani Instagrammed his encounter with Trump, saying he had run into “his dear friend” at a reception at the close of the multiday event. […]


  267. says

    Trump’s climate change word salad, uttered at Davos:

    There is a cooling and there’s a heating. I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place.

    The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records. They’re at a record level.

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

    The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records. They’re at a record level.
    Yes, a record low level.

  269. says

    From Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu:

    As a Member of the House Judiciary Committee, I read the partisan, classified Nunes House Intel memo. I can’t talk about it. However, here’s an analogy.

    Remember Geraldo Rivera and the infamous Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults? It’s like that, but Geraldo Rivera has more integrity.

  270. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I can’t figure out why we are still hearing reports that Trump did well at Davos.

    Trump’s flacks have been busy. He can’t see himself as not being successful at anything….So they lie as bad as he does.

  271. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Remember Geraldo Rivera and the infamous Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults? It’s like that, but Geraldo Rivera has more integrity.

    Ouch, I could feel the scorch through the internet.

  272. says

    Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke is currently serving in the House. Now he wants to run for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat.

    From The Dallas Morning News:

    According to figures released by the O’Rourke campaign — a few days ahead of when federal filings are due — the congressman exceeded his previous quarterly tallies and raised the $2.44 million through 55,567 donations between September and December.

    O’Rourke has sworn off the help of political action committees. According to the campaign, more than 70 percent of the last quarter’s donations came from Texas, and none of the funds came from loans.

    Ted Cruz still holds a financial advantage:

    […] the sitting senator raised a total of $7.1 million in 2017, according to a spokeswoman for Cruz, and closed the year with a sizable $7.3 million in cash on hand. O’Rourke heads into the election year with $4.6 million in cash.

    O’Rourke is a relatively unknown candidate, and he only recently started his Senate campaign. I think he can eventually raise more funds than Cruz. And the race is tightening:

    End Citizens United, a campaign finance reform group, released a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling that finds Cruz leading O’Rourke by 8 points, 45 to 37 percent. Eighteen percent were undecided.

    Let’s take the Texas seat away from Cruz.

  273. says

    Are Republicans pretending to return Steve Wynn’s money? Yes.

    The Republican Governors Association (RGA) is pretending they are returning money from Steve Wynn, the former Republican National Committee Finance chairman who was accused last week of serial sexual assault and harassment. The RGA announcement has generated tweets like this from major media organizations.

    Republican Governors Association returning $100,000 in donations from casino magnate Steve Wynn following sexual misconduct allegations; the group has also cancelled plans to hold their 2020 Annual Conference at the Wynn Las Vegas.

    But in fact, the RGA is keeping almost all of the money Wynn gave them. Steve Wynn and the corporations he controls have donated “more than $2.5 million to the Republican Governors Association since 2012.”

    Giving back $100,000 — or about 4 percent of the amount given since 2012 — seems like a public-relations expense more than act of goodwill. In 2015 and 2016, the RGA raised about $100 million, so if they were to return all of Wynn’s recent donations, it would amount to a tiny fraction of it’s total budget. […]

    The bulk of Wynn’s donations changed hands during the 2014 campaign cycle when Wynn was negotiating with the state of Massachusetts to open up a large casino in Boston. In October 2014, Wynn donated $2 million to the RGA — money that was immediately funneled to Charlie Baker, the Republican candidate. Baker later won in an extremely close election and the state later approved Wynn’s plans. The casino is slated to open in 2019. […]

    It [The RGA] is keeping, for example, $250,000 that Wynn donated just over a year ago, in December 2016. The RGA also canceled plans to its convention at the Wynn casino in Las Vegas in 2020.

    The RGA has gone just a little bit further than the Trump campaign, the National Republican Senate Committee, the Republican National Committee, and the National Republican Campaign Committee which thus far have not announced any plans to return funds from Wynn. […]


  274. says

    Nerd @415, that was a great segment. O’Rourke looks like a good candidate.

    In other news, the House voted to release their distorted “secret memo.” Along party line votes, the House voted NOT to release the minority memo. The Republicans also voted to NOT allow the FBI and the Justice Department to address the House in order to make clear their misgivings about the the release of the memo. Nunes (House chair of the committee) confirmed that his committee is conducting an investigation of the FBI and an investigation of the Department of Justice.

    It’s WTF!!! time.

  275. says

    More details:

    […] The document [the secret memo] will not be immediately released. Under the arcane House rule Republicans used to override the classification of the four-page memo, President Trump now has five days to review and reject its publication.

    But the White House has signaled support for the document’s release and is widely expected to defy the DOJ in allowing the publication to go forward. The DOJ has opposed the release of the document, reportedly infuriating President Trump.

    Some Republicans who have read the memo have hinted heavily that it contains information that could unravel the entire Mueller investigation, long described by the president as a “witch hunt.” [Bullshit, in other word.]

    The precise contents of the memo remain unknown. However, it’s believed to contain allegations that the FBI did not adequately explain to a clandestine court that some of the information it used in a surveillance warrant application for Trump adviser Carter Page came from opposition research funded by the Clinton campaign, now known as the “Steele dossier.”

    The document spotlights Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s role in approving the warrant application, according to the New York Times. Rosenstein appointed Mueller and has become a recent target on the right — as well as reportedly garnering the frustration of the president. […]

    While Nunes has described the memo as “facts,” Democrats have slammed it as a collection of misleading talking points they are unable to correct without exposing the highly classified information underpinning the document. […]

    FBI Director Christopher Wray was reportedly allowed to view the document in the committee’s secure spaces over the weekend. A committee spokesperson declined to comment on Monday, as did the FBI. [Yes, and after that review, Wray asked to be able to address the entire House in order to express his concerns about releasing the memo. Wray was refused.]

    Another unanswered question revolves around the highly-classified intelligence that underpins the memo, which came from documents provided to the committee by the DOJ as part of an agreement brokered by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The DOJ has said that the release of the memo would be an abrogation of the terms of that agreement, an assertion that spokesmen for both Ryan and Nunes reject. […]

  276. says

    From Robert Costa:

    Just spoke w/ Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). He tells Post that Wray “raised concerns” about memo after viewing it, told Schiff about them today. Asked cmmte to wait for him to brief them before voting on release. Cmmte instead voted tonight. Schiff calls the move “disgraceful.”

    From Adam Schiff:

    This is an effort to circle the wagons around the White House and distract from the Russia probe. I think we have crossed a deeply regrettable line… There was a vote to politicize the declassification process of intelligence and potentially compromise sources and methods.

  277. says

    Remember that bipartisan bill passed last year to impose new sanctions on Russia in response to Russian interference in U.S. elections, meddling in Ukraine, etc.? Well Trump had a deadline to sign that bill. The deadline was today. Trump decided not to sign the bill.

    The Trump administration told Congress on Monday that bipartisan legislation passed last year authorizing new sanctions on Russia is already “serving as a deterrent,” and there’s no need to actually implement the penalties at this time.

    A spokesperson for the State Department said the mere possibility of facing sanctions through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) has served as an effective countermeasure.

    “[…] if the law is working, sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent,” the spokesperson said.

    The 2017 legislation allows President Trump to postpone imposing sanctions on people or entities if he determines they are largely scaling back their transactions with Russia’s defense or intelligence sectors, as long as he notifies the appropriate congressional committees at least every 180 days that they are seeing such progress.

    The move is likely to be sharply criticized by Democrats and Russia hawks, who have called on Trump to take a stronger hand in countering Moscow’s election hacking, aggression in Ukraine and support of the Syrian regime.

    If Trump didn’t opt to delay, he would have to impose at least five sanctions on those that knowingly conduct significant transactions with Russia. […]


  278. says

    From former FBI Director James Comey:

    Special Agent Andrew McCabe stood tall over the last 8 months, when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on. He served with distinction for two decades. I wish Andy well. I also wish continued strength for the rest of the FBI. America needs you.

  279. says

    Follow-up to comment 419.

    Adding more details to the news about Trump declining to sign a bill that imposes more sanctions on Russia:

    […] In addition to the sanctions on entities doing business with Moscow’s defense and intelligence sectors, the sanctions law also calls for the administration to produce by Monday a list of oligarchs linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and a report on the consequences of sanctioning Russia’s sovereign debt. The sanctions law was crafted partially in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    It remains unclear whether the administration has already released or plans to release the oligarchs or sovereign debt reports that were due Monday, both of which are likely to contain classified information. The State Department spokesperson added: “Further details are contained in a classified report we have submitted to Congress.” […]

    The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, more pointedly blasted the administration for Monday’s delay.

    “The Trump administration had a decision to make whether they would follow the law and crack down on those responsible for attacking American democracy in 2016,” Engel said in a statement. “They chose instead to let Russia off the hook yet again.”


  280. says

    Follow-up to comments 398 and 400.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] As for the comment in which Trump reportedly told McCabe his wife is a loser, let’s note for context that McCabe’s wife lost her race in Virginia after receiving 47.5% of the vote.

    Donald Trump, in his race, received 46.1% of the vote. […]

  281. says

    Trump is sliding toward a Watergate-like impeachment threat all the time. Oddly, Trump himself has compared everything but his own situation to Watergate:

    […] there’s Donald Trump, perhaps the nation’s biggest proponent of bizarre conspiracy theories, who’s constantly identifying Watergates all over the place. Uranium One? That’s Watergate, the president has said. Non-existent wiretapping of Trump Tower? That’s Watergate, too. Benghazi? Watergate. Joe Arpaio’s investigation into Barack Obama’s birth certificate? Bigger than Watergate.

  282. says

    Follow-up to comment 419.

    At four minutes to midnight, (midnight was the deadline for this), the Trump administration came up with a list of Russian oligarchs. They just copied their list from a Forbes list of 100 rich Russian oligarchs. The White House did not do their own research in order to make the list meaningful in the context of the specific sanctions.

  283. says

    Follow-up to comments 65, 75, 90, 211, 215, 291, 302, 383, 416, and 417.

    Paul Ryan has, as Adam Schiff said, “completely rolled over.” Ryan is now 100% complicit in the Trump effort to obstruct the Russia investigation. Ryan said:

    There may have been malfeasance by people at the FBI…it is our job in conducting transparent oversight of the executive branch to get to the bottom of that.

    Republicans in the House of Congress, including Speaker Ryan, have joined forces with Hair Furor to burn our law enforcement institutions to the ground.

    Devin Nunes is a friend of Paul Ryan’s, a friend for a long time.

    Congress is going about “oversight” completely wrongly. They are using the word “oversight” to provide cover for blatantly obstructing the Russia probe.

  284. says

    Follow-up to comment 425.

    From Senator Claire McCaskill:

    Congress voted 517-5 to impose sanctions on Russia. The President decides to ignore that law. Folks that is a constitutional crisis. There should be outrage in every corner of this country.

    From R. Nicholas Burns, the former United States Ambassador to NATO:

    Congress can’t let Putin go unpunished for interfering in our election. Trump’s weakness is appalling.

    From Steve Benen:

    When Russia disagreed with U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump believed Vladimir Putin.

    When Russia moved against U.S. diplomats, Trump thanked Vladimir Putin.

    And when Congress approved sanctions against Russia, Trump blamed Congress and sided with Vladimir Putin.

    I wonder why.

  285. says

    Thank goodness Trump finds the Senate “disappointing” in this case.

    The Senate on Monday rejected legislation designed to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a vote that put vulnerable Democrats on the record on the issue during an election year.

    The vote was 51-46, short of the 60-vote threshold to advance the bill. Three Democratic-senators up for re-election in conservative states voted to advance the legislation: Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted with most Democrats to reject it. […]

    In a statement, Trump called the Senate action “disappointing” and added: “We must defend those who cannot defend themselves. I urge the Senate to reconsider its decision and pass legislation that will celebrate, cherish, and protect life.”


    That was a close call when you look at the vote tally.

    The Republican bill used bogus “pain capable” language.

  286. says

    Adam Schiff is receiving death threats:

    Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) office has received crude phone calls and death threats over the “Republican spin memo” that reportedly proves some type of anti-President Trump bias within the FBI and the Department of Justice, Axios reported Tuesday.

    Schiff told Axios that the outrage against his office is fueled by Republican rhetoric, which he called “reckless hyperbole” that is “just so destructive to our democracy.”

    After Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the contents of a classified memo authored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) staffers, Schiff — the ranking member of the committee — told reporters that he was concerned his panel had “crossed a deeply regrettable line.” […]


  287. Saad says

    From Lynna’s #428

    The vote was 51-46, short of the 60-vote threshold to advance the bill.

    Damn, that is depressing.

  288. says

    Saad @430, agreed. Depressing and disappointing, but not disappointing in the way that Trump meant. We are so close to losing women’s reproductive rights.

    In other news, CIA Director Mike Pompeo spoke out about Russian interference in elections:

    I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that. But I am confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election, that we’ll push back in a way that is sufficiently robust, that the impact that they will have on our election won’t be great.

    I don’t see what facts back up Pompeo’s confidence. So far, the Trump administration has not done anything to protect our elections.

    Pompeo had more to say:

    [Paraphrase: Russia had been attempting to undermine America’s democratic processes for decades] and this election was meddled with by the Russians in a way that is frankly not particularly original. In some ways, there’s no news.

    The Russians have a long history of these information campaigns. That part of it’s not new.

    The technology that enables it is now cheap and plentiful and the capability of transferring information around the world is much simpler than it was in World War II or decades ago. This threat is not going to go away.

    The Russians have been at this a long time and I fully expect they’ll continue to be at it.

    I haven’t seen a significant decrease in their activity.

    Quoted text above was excerpted from a BBC interview.

  289. says

    Today’s Capitol Hill schedule:

    10:00 a.m. House and Senate gavel in.

    10:00 a.m. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan takes questions from the press.

    1:30 p.m. Democratic House leadership holds a press conference to push for a DACA solution.

    2:00 p.m. Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate speak with the press following lunch.

    9:10 p.m. President Trump delivers the State of the Union Address at the Capitol.

    Afterward: Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) will deliver the Democrat’s official response, and Virginia Statehouse Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, elected in the Democrats’ 2017 wave in that state, will deliver the party’s official Spanish-language response. The Congressional Black Caucus will also broadcast a “pre-buttal” at 11:30 a.m. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) will have their own rebuttals, as will former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), who will speak on behalf of the Working Families Party.

  290. says

    Kellyanne Conway indulged in projection on CNN today:

    They [Democrats] are so bound by their reflexive hate. “Obstruct, resist, stop, don’t do it.” That is not a message. That impedes democracy. Their biggest statement tonight is going to be the color of their clothing, they’re all going to wear black to what? Protest Harvey Weinstein? Or Bill Clinton?

    The CNN host, Chris Cuomo, interrupted Conway to tell her that Democrats were protesting the White House’s immigration proposal. Conway replied:

    Do you give him credit for trying? Do you acknowledge he’s taken away a blunt instrument for the Democrats in the midterms? He’s doing right by them, he’s doing right by human beings.

    Conway was referring to the path to citizenship for some DACA recipients, but she failed to mention the price that the White House wants to extract for the DACA agreement: (1) cutting legal immigration in half, (2) ending the visa lottery system, (3) $25+ billion for a border wall, (4) immigration restrictions that would favor English speakers, and (5) an end to most family reunification measures, which Republicans denigrate as “chain migration.”

    Conway’s focus on midterm election results was disconcerting.

  291. says

    More evidence of Trump cheating at golf. His methods of cheating reveal a lot about his character, how he thinks, and how he does business.

    Fifteen-time LGPA winner Suzann Pettersen has played golf with Donald Trump. Pettersen has a few things to say about his penchant for being full of shit. In an interview with Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang Pettersen shared […]

    “He cheats like hell […] They say that if you cheat at golf, you cheat at business. I’m pretty sure he pays his caddy well, since no matter how far into the woods he hits the ball, it’s in the middle of the fairway when we get there,” says Pettersen, laughing heartily […]

    Ha. You cheat at golf, you cheat at business. It’s all hilarious when you’re wealthy. […] Another tidbit about Trump’s putting. He never takes the final putt, he takes advantage of the grace given to world-class golfers that they would make their three-foot putt. So, he makes sure that he never actually has to follow-through, sink the putt, put it in the hole. […]

    “Yes, yes, that happens all the time. He always says he is the world’s best putter. But in all the times I’ve played him, he’s never come close to breaking 80,” Pettersen says of the president, […]

    “But what’s strange is that every time I talk to him he says he just golfed a 69, or that he set a new course record or won a club championship some place,” she says. “I just laugh. I’m someone who likes being teased and I like teasing others, and Trump takes it well, and that must be why he likes me.”

    Yes. it is strange. Maybe the word you are looking for isn’t “strange,” but “pathetic,” or maybe “sad,” or maybe “predictable,” or maybe “classless,” or possibly “childish,” or “lacking character,” […] Trump loves his golf—so much so that he’s played three times more golf than any sitting president at this point in his term; which is part of why it is so profoundly pathetic that he continues to lie to himself and others about his skill level. Pettersen […] isn’t bothered by shitty things he says […]

    I’m not so touchy about things like that … I’m sure he has said things that can be hurtful to a lot of people, but I take everything he says with a pinch of salt. I know where it’s coming from.

    I’m guessing Pettersen hasn’t been grabbed in her privates, or kissed on the mouth by the US president. She’s also not a citizen of the United States of America and therefore isn’t directly affected by the hateful and stupid things he says. There’s a reason why Donald Trump loves the wealthiest people in Norway.


  292. says

    Follow-up to comment 425.

    The White House not only cribbed some of their answers from Forbes, they also copy-pasted a list of official from the Kremlin directory of officials available on the Kremlin’s English-language website. From Timothy Frye:

    So much for targetted sanctions. And why release names in middle of night after early statement that new sanctions are not needed. Another blow to US credibility.

    And … the story gets worse:

    […] However, according to the Atlantic Council’s Anders Åslund, the final list was actually a last-minute replacement – one that took the place of another list, compiled by experts, that actually aimed at detailing those close to the Kremlin.

    At the last minute, however, somebody high up – no one knows who at this point – threw out the experts’ work and instead wrote down the names of the top officials in the Russian presidential administration and government plus the 96 Russian billionaires on the Forbes list. In doing so, this senior official ridiculed the government experts who had prepared another report, […] By signing this list, the secretary of the treasury took responsibility for it.

    Now, where fear once rankled the upper crust of Moscow, the list […] appears to have been welcomed with open arms. And the reactions from Russians named in the memo ranged from condescension to giddiness to anger that the list was even considered in the first place. […]

    Think Progress link

  293. says

    From David Corn:

    […] the revelations that President Donald Trump tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last year, that Trump was enraged that former FBI director James Comey was allowed to fly back to Washington on an FBI plane after he canned him, that Trump told FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe he should ask his wife what it was like to be a loser, that Trump has supported the release of a dodgy classified memo drawn up by Republican aides that supposedly questions a super-secret surveillance order approved by the Justice Department […]

    […] there has been much speculation that Trump’s master plan is to remove any institutional obstacle that might impede his ability to give Mueller the boot. That may well be true. […] But there could be a more basic motive propelling Trump: his obsession for revenge.

    […] Often he follows this impulse when a reasonable person might conclude it was self-defeating. […]

    Trump seems to live to settle grudges. For him, retaliation is a religion. But don’t take my word for it. Take his. In speeches and public talks Trump gave in the years before he ran for president, he hailed retribution as an essential element of a success. One example:

    […] He noted there were a couple of lessons not taught in business school that successful people must know. At the top of the list was this piece of advice: “Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard. I really believe it.”

    […] he shared his first rule of business:

    It’s called “Get Even.” […] You know in all fairness to Wharton, I love ’em, but they teach you some stuff that’s a lot of bullshit. When you’re in business, you get even with people that screw you. And you screw them 15 times harder. And the reason is, the reason is, the reason is, not only, not only, because of the person that you’re after, but other people watch what’s happening. Other people see you or see how you react.

    These are not the sentences of a well-balanced, gracious human being who can rationally assess costs and benefits. […]

    […] In an interview before the election, he [former House Speaker New Gingrich] pointed out that Trump often loses his cool in response to “anything which attacks his own sense of integrity or his own sense of respectability, and he reacts very intensely, almost uncontrollably, to those kinds of situations.” He opined that “there’s a big Trump and a little Trump,” And, too frequently, Little Trump is in control—or out of control. […]

    This is a serious matter. With President Little Trump in charge, norms and the rule of law are at risk. During the transition, Trump noted in several tweets that he believed the US intelligence community was out to get him. Since then, he has waged war on the FBI and the Justice Department—and ignored the intelligence community’s assessment that Vladimir Putin mounted a covert information warfare campaign to subvert the 2016 election to help elect Trump.

    Now Trump is out to get them—whoever the them is in his feverish paranoia. He settled the score with Comey. He nailed McCabe, […] Now, it seems, Trump’s new target is Rod Rosenstein, […] Trump is like Michael Corleone bumping off his self-perceived enemies one at a time.

    The flip-side of Trump’s revenge-obsession is almost as bad: Trump has a profound yearning for acceptance, recognition, and compliments. How many times has Trump said that Putin is a good guy because he said something positive about Trump? […] As Trump has sought revenge against his foes in the FBI and the Justice Department, he has this week eased up on sanctions applied on Putin’s regime for its meddling in the election. In short, for Trump, McCabe is a problem, Putin is just fine. […]

    I agree with Trump’s visceral need to exact revenge, however I also think that Trump (and many of his allies) are so worried about being questioned by Mueller that they are doing everything they can to discredit the investigation so thoroughly that Trump can be seen as reasonable if he refuses to be questioned. I doubt this will work, but I can see why the pathological liar is at great risk if he is questioned.

  294. says

    Mitch McConnell pretends to be blind:

    I’m unaware of any effort, official effort, on the part of the White House to undermine the special counsel. And so I don’t feel any particular need to reach out to protect someone who seems to need no protection.

    Correction to comment 436. I wrote, “I agree with Trump’s visceral need to exact revenge, […]” But what I meant to say was, “I agree that Trump seems to have a visceral need to exact revenge.”

  295. says

    Alice Ollstein and Tierney Sneed discussed Trump’s presentation of the issue of immigration in his State of the Union speech. (Bolding is mine.):

    […] Trump spent much of his first State of the Union speech focusing on his controversial immigration proposal, which would slash legal immigration by at least 44 percent in exchange for extending a path to citizenship to about 1.8 million immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

    In his remarks, which were met with loud boos from Democratic lawmakers, Trump made several inaccurate statements about the current immigration system, particularly about the diversity visa lottery and the process for family sponsorship, which Republicans refer to as “chain migration.”

    “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” Trump claimed. “Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.”

    In fact, both citizens and green card holders are quite limited in which family members they can sponsor. Under current law, citizens can only sponsor a spouse, a child, a parent, or a sibling. Legal permanent residents can only sponsor spouses and children who are unmarried and under 21 years old. […]

    Additionally, Trump’s description in his address of the visa lottery program — alleging that it is “a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people” — is misleading in multiple ways.

    First, the program requires that applicants show either educational achievement or work-experience in order to gain admission. Those entering the visa lottery must have “at least a high school education or its equivalent or, within the past five years, have two years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years training or experience,” according to State Department regulations. […]

    “For example, about 41 percent of immigrants in the New Immigrant Survey who acquired permanent residency through the Diversity Visa have a university degree or more, and the reforms seek to eliminate this visa,” the study said.

    Millions of applicants enter the pool, which ultimately ends with upwards of 50,000 people, mostly coming from countries with low immigration rates, getting visas. The lottery is designed to create a more diverse mix of countries where visa recipients are hailing from.

    As for Trump’s claim that the program “hands out green cards without any regard for ….safety of our people,” applicants chosen by the lottery are subjected to intensive background checks before being granted visas. […]

    A few other lowlights: Trump blathered on and on about standing up to honor the flag; he ignored the recent government shutdown and the threat of another shutdown in nine days; he lied about Apple’s investment in the USA … again; he lied about which U.S. citizens will benefit from the tax bill he signed; he started his talk about immigration by focusing on people killed by MS-13 gang members in a blatant fear-mongering approach.

    Ominously, Trump said he was asking Congress to make it possible for every member of his Cabinet to get rid of any government employee who was not doing a good job for the American people. Does he want any member of the Cabinet to be able to fire Mueller, for example? Or was he asking the Cabinet to fire him?

  296. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] As Trump has done for more than two years, he calls on us to see undocumented immigrants through the prism of horrifying and vicious murders. This is nothing but the most elemental kind of incitement. If you did the same – and you could – with any racial or ideological or regional identity the horror of this would be clear. But we treat it as normal now.

    I don’t treat it as normal, but I do see Josh’s point that too many people see it as normal, and they agree with Trump.

    It’s important to restate the facts. Out of more than 10 million undocumented immigrants in the country, of course there are some who commit crimes and even horrific crimes. The same would be the case for any other ten million people, certainly for any group that is disproportionately young. But every study shows that immigrants, both documented and undocumented, commit crimes at a lower rate than the native born. This is pure incitement. […]

    The rest of the speech was in this thematic path, aggressive ethno-nationalism. It wasn’t more or less outrageous than the things the President says all the time. It just stacked them together. The key theme is the extreme valorization of soldiers, police officers and immigration patrol officers as the central element of patriotism. Each of these are merited as part of a range of beliefs and values and commitments that make us American. Trump makes them central and almost sacral in a way that is at war with elemental American traditions, though we would be naive and dishonest to say his reactionary posture doesn’t also have deep roots in our history. […]

    Trump is getting better at delivering speeches. But this is what we’ve been watching for going on three years. It’s the same man, the same no-end-in-sight national crisis. Tomorrow we’re back to the same chaos and unbridled mis-governance. I don’t think there’s much else to say.

  297. says

    More lowlights from Trump’s speech:

    He said, “thank heaven” that the Obamacare mandate has been repealed. Republicans stood for a standing ovation in response. Yay! We took healthcare away from at least 13 million people!

    He boasted about stock market gains. He didn’t really raise the stock market all by himself. The trend upward was established during Obama’s administration. The market has slumped for the past two day. Trump’s speech was all salesman-like hyperbole when it came to the economic portion.

    A fact not mentioned by Trump: Harley-Davidson plans to close their Kansas City plant. Company head honchos blamed slumping sales and Trump’s tax plan. What Trump said last year:

    […] So thank you, Harley-Davidson, for building things in America. And I think you’re going to even expand—I know your business is now doing very well and there’s a lot of spirit right now in the country that you weren’t having so much in the last number of months that you have right now. You see what’s happening.

    The real story now:

    The Milwaukee-based company said its net income fell 82% in its fiscal fourth quarter to $8.3 million, compared with a year earlier. Earnings per share were 5 cents, down from 27 cents a year earlier. Revenue was $1.23 billion, up from $1.11 billion.

    The earnings drop came in part because of a charge associated with President Trump’s tax cut and a $29.4 million charge for a voluntary product recall.

    Harley-Davidson worldwide retail motorcycle sales fell 6.7% in 2017 compared to 2016. The company’s U.S. sales fell 8.5% and international sales were down 3.9%

    From Reuters:


    And, to complete the picture, Harley Davidson is moving manufacturing to Thailand:

    The Kansas City plant closing will cost Harley as much as $200 million through 2019, then result in annual cash savings of $65 million to $75 million after 2020. Levatich declined to say how much production capacity will be reduced. At the same time, the company is building a factory in Thailand that will assemble bikes using components shipped from the U.S.

    Another gross thing Trump said, “Americans are dreamers too.”

    Republicans also stood to applaud the fact that Trump is keeping Gitmo open. Sheesh. Don’t applaud that!

  298. says

    The chilling attack on liberal democracy buried in Trump’s speech

    […] “I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good workers,” Trump said, “and to remove Federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

    On the surface, this proposal may seem benign — who doesn’t want public employees who “fail the American people” to be removed? But laws protecting civil servants against politically motivated firings are one of the foundations of liberal democracy.

    They are what enable a prosecutor ordered to bring frivolous charges against the president’s political rivals to say no.

    They are what permit investigators to target people suspected of genuine legal violations, not companies that compete with the president’s businesses. […]

  299. says

    Follow-up to comments 65, 75, 90, 211, 215, 291, 302, 383, 416, 417, and 426.

    From NBC News:

    As he exited the House Chamber Tuesday night, President Donald Trump seemed to guarantee a Republican congressman that he would release a classified memo believed to show the FBI abused its surveillance program.

    Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., who waited hours to guarantee an aisle seat that would allow him to greet the president, can clearly be heard telling Trump to “release the memo.” The memo was produced by House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes.

    “Don’t worry. One hundred percent,” Trump can be heard saying.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] The president has some authority over what happens next, and he’s faced pressure from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray not to allow the information to be exposed to the public, but if his comments last night were accurate, Trump has already made up his mind.

    What about White House assurances that a careful and deliberative analysis is underway? Either those assurances were a sham or the process was completed with incredible speed. (It was supposed to take “several days.”) […]

    Trump had already made clear that he sees political value in the Nunes memo, so concerns about compromising the FBI’s intelligence-gathering techniques were easily cast aside.

    But that doesn’t make the president’s casual carelessness about this any easier to accept.

    Postscript: The Daily Beast reported yesterday, “The Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee refused to answer when a colleague asked him if he had coordinated his incendiary surveillance memo with the White House.”

    That seems like a question we should get an answer to – quickly.

  300. says

    From Phillip Bump, writing for the Washington Post:

    A president sincerely looking to unify with the opposition would probably be more deliberate about not saying things that intentionally irritate them. He would also, over the first year of his presidency, have advocated policy positions that weren’t almost uniformly ones that meet only the desires of his base of support.

    Trump’s rhetoric on unity has never been sincere. Trump sees political agreement in the same way he sees the Justice Department or the military: as something that is owed to him as president. Trump’s calls for unity are calls for the United States to support him and acquiesce to his policy goals…. He keeps giving speeches in which he calls for America to unite around him – and then keeps reminding Americans why they don’t want to.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Trump’s State of the Union address was emblematic of his presidency: dishonest, hollow, lacking in substance, and eager to drive a wedge between his perceived friends and enemies.

  301. says

    From Elizabeth Guzman’s Democratic Party response in Spanish (translated):

    He [Trump] has demeaned communities of color — launching a mass deportation agenda, and insulting the heritage of anyone who doesn’t look like him. He has imposed a hateful, immoral ban against our Muslim brothers and sisters.

    More lowlights from Trump’s speech: He claimed that he had ended “the war on beautiful clean coal.” The fact is that domestic coal demand is continuing to fall.

    From John Light:

    Ending “chain migration” is an effort to “protect the nuclear family,” Trump says. His spiel about how “a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives” prompts shouts of “lies” and the first boos loud enough to be heard on the TV broadcasts (though, as Cameron Jospeh has noted, Democrats’ booing and hissing has been going on at a marginally lower volume since this show started).

    From Esme Cribb:

    For the second time in two years, grieving family members serve as an emotional fulcrum to Trump’s speech — last year Carryn Owens, the widow of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, watched Trump’s joint address from the First Lady’s box, and this year the parents and siblings of Otto Warmbier, an American university student who was arrested in North Korea, returned to the United States in a coma, and died without regaining consciousness, are seated in a guest box during the State of the Union.

  302. says

    Commenting on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s demeanor during the SOTU speech last night, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:

    I think Nancy Pelosi looks like that all the time. I think she should smile a lot more often, I think the country would be better for it. She seems to kind of embody the bitterness that belongs to the Democratic party right now.

    In response, Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff tweeted:

    I think the WH Press Secretary should lie less often. I think the the country would be better for it.

  303. says

    What Trump said in his SOTU address:

    What the Border Patrol and ICE have done, we have sent thousands, and thousands, and thousands of MS-13, horrible people out of this country or into our prisons.

    I knew that was a lie the minute he said it.

    The facts:

    According to the administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement made 796 MS-13-related arrests and Customs and Border Protection made 228 MS-13 arrests in the fiscal year that ended at the end of September 2017.

  304. says

    What Trump said in his SOTU address:

    […] we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history […]

    The facts:

    […] As a share of the economy, four other tax cuts have been bigger than Trump’s since the 1960s: Those of President John F. Kennedy’s passed in 1964, President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts, and the 2010 and 2013 tax cuts under President Barack Obama, which included making permanent earlier tax cuts signed by President George W. Bush. […]

  305. says

    House Intelligence Committee member Chris Stewart, a Republican from Utah, seemed to imply that MSNBC’s Katy Tur could not understand Republican objections to FBI methods because she is a woman:

    “President Trump wanted to fire Director Comey and he wanted him gone after he refused to drop the Russia investigation,” she [Katy Tur] said. “He said it was about Russia with NBC’s Lester Holt. Comey was fired. President Trump railed against Andrew McCabe on Twitter and repeatedly insulted him and his wife even. McCabe is stepping aside. President Trump has repeatedly called out Rod Rosenstein. Now this memo which many are saying is basically Devin Nunes’ version of events supposedly shows Rosenstein in a bad light. How do you not see this as a deliberate purge of everybody who the president doesn’t like or who could threaten the president in a Russia investigation?”

    Stewart dismissed the question with a bizarre reference to Tur’s gender.

    “Katy, I know you and I see the world differently, and this is one of those cases where we’re just, you know, men are from Mars and women are from Venus,” he said. […]

    “I’m sorry, hold on, you think we see the world differently?” Tur said. “I just laid out a number of facts.”

    Stewart, however, had no interest in engaging with Tur’s question on the merits.

    “Look, people can say — look at things and claim facts or claim their interpretation of facts, but they clearly have different views on that,” he said.

    Sorry, buddy. You blew your cover. You don’t have a good argument. Tur does have a good argument. Stewart should wear a “Misogynist” pin on his lapel.

  306. says

    A train that was carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat was in an accident. The train hit a trash truck. There are, reportedly, only minor injuries.

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

    Draining the swamp: CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald resigns:

    Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resigned Wednesday, a day after Politico reported Fitzgerald’s purchase of tobacco stock after she took the position at the nation’s top public health agency.

    Her cynicism is breathtaking.

  308. says

    What a Maroon @451, What a perfect Trump Swamp creature. Tobacco stocks! The CDC runs anti-smoking campaigns.

    Update to comment 450: One occupant of the trash truck died at the scene. Two others were injured. The report of “minor injuries” refers only to the people on the train.

    Trump has cut federal funding for Amtrak and is planning to cut more as one of the ways in which he plans to pay for his infrastructure initiative. Sounds crazy, I know, but Trump’s plans are nearly always bonkers.

  309. says

    Another Republican has announced his upcoming retirement:

    House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) won’t run for another term, he announced Wednesday, making him the latest GOP chairman to announce he’s heading for the exits in recent months.

    “I wil not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political elected office,” Gowdy said in a statement. “Instead I will be returning to the justice system. Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system.”

    His announcement makes him the ninth Republican committee chairman to announce he’s leaving — and the second Oversight chairman in less than a year, […]


  310. says

    Follow-up to comment 442.

    From Senator Adam Morfeld:

    Did the President just authorize purges of federal employees who dissent? Not the America I want to live in.

    From the Federal Workers union:

    Federal workers and their primary union, the American Federation of Government Employees, took immediate exception.

    “I was particularly disturbed that the president chose to demagogue hard-working federal employees, who are already being asked to do more with less with every passing year in service to their country,” said Mark Warner, a Democratic senator from Virginia.


  311. says

    In no uncertain terms, the FBI has dissed the Nunes memo.

    In a rare public statement, the FBI on Wednesday expressed “grave concerns” about the accuracy of a congressional Republican memo that purports to show anti-Trump prejudice among senior FBI and DOJ officials.

    The bureau flatly stated that the four-page document compiled by staffers for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) contained “material omissions of fact.” […]

    This remarkable public comment bolsters days of reporting on top DOJ and FBI officials’ efforts to dissuade the White House from allowing the memo to be made public. The House Intelligence Committee voted on partisan lines on Monday to release it.

    FBI Director Christopher Wray reportedly informed the White House that he opposed the memo’s release because it “contains inaccurate information and paints a false narrative,” according to Bloomberg.

    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has reportedly also warned the White House that the memo does not accurately describe how it carries out investigations.

    As of Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump and his advisers’ seemed intent on overriding these words of caution and moving forward with the memo’s release.


    The FBI’s full statement:

    The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.

    With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.

    Bolding in the text above is mine.

    This is a follow-up to comments 65, 75, 90, 211, 215, 291, 302, 383, 416, 417, 426, and 443.

  312. says

    Follow-up to comment 455.

    Josh Marshall wrote an excellent article detailing the Devin Nunes clown show and obstruction-of-justice extravaganza. Short version: Nunes is working closely with the White House. Nunes has abandoned his oversight duties as a Congressman. He has sold out. He is now an errand boy for Trump.

    The entire article is well worth reading.

  313. says

    This should give Trump an opportunity to think of himself as a loser:

    A CNN flash poll found it had “the lowest net positive rating for a State of the Union address since at least 1998.”

    One excerpt is getting rave reviews from white supremacists:

    My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.

    Trump’s phrase pits “Americans” against “Dreamers.”

    Richard Spencer loved that. See

    On a social network that caters to white nationalists, GAB, similar messages were posted.

    And David Duke liked it, “Thank you President Trump. Americans are ‘Dreamers’ too.”

  314. says

    If you look at the calendar, it looks like Congress has two weeks to come up with a deal to fund the government and to formalize a DACA deal for dreamers.

    But Congress critters actually spend very few days working. The Congressional calendar shows they have 3 working days to avoid another government shutdown. Just 3 days. Part of the two weeks between now and the looming shutdown is taken up with retreats. Both Republicans and Democrats will be attending retreats. You can call the retreats “working retreats,” which they are to some extent, but spouses and children accompany the Congress critters, so it is also a vacation of sorts.

    Both Republicans and Democrats need to be in their offices on the Hill in order to work together to avoid a shutdown. Democrats are at least making a show of working by cutting their retreat short, and by focussing on a DACA deal.

    Another short-term deal is likely, a CR (continuing resolution), to fund the government. Maybe.

  315. says

    Here are some excerpts from Wonkette’s coverage of the Devin Nunes clown show. There are a few new details here, including the fact that Nunes surrounds himself with dunderheads.

    OK, so did you hear the one about the Devin Nunes staffer who was once (in 2016) given a “U R TOO STUPID 2 LAWYER” badge to sew into his underwear by a US district court judge? It’s more properly called an “order of ineptitude,” it’s rarely given out, and yet it was bestowed upon Kash Patel, the lawyer/staffer who headed up the team that wrote Devin Nunes’s Very Dumb Bullshit Memo. Sounds like Mr. Patel found the right congressman to work for!

    So yeah, let’s keep talking about this goddamned memo, because that’s what Donald Trump and Devin Nunes are wasting our time with right now. […] Christopher Wray has expressed objections to the Trump administration releasing Little Devin’s Mash Note […]

    And in that spirit, the FBI — just like a Trump appointee at the Department of Justice did last week! — has released a statement that says, hey, Devin Nunes’s memo is quite literally FULL-O’-SHIT […] [See comment 455 above.]

    “Grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” huh? Sounds like a Devin Nunes masterpiece to us! Good thing the purpose of this memo isn’t “accuracy” or “transparency” or “the truth”!

    The purpose of the memo, of course, is to cherrypick “facts” in order to construct a narrative that suggests top FBI and DOJ brass, including and especially Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, are hopelessly #BIASSSSSSSS against Donald Trump, and that they built an entire federal case out of an improper FISA warrant application on Carter Page, based on NOTHING MORE than MADE-UP NONSENSE from the DODGY DOSSIER. The reality of the matter, of course, is that Carter Page has been on the FBI’s radar forfuckingever, because he is the dumbest fucking Russian intelligence asset ever. All Rosenstein did was authorize renewing the application to the FISA court, since the FBI had already been surveilling Carter Page forfuckingever. Any role played by the Steele Dossier — which was compiled by one of the most well respected spies in all of FUCKING Christendom — was secondary to intel the FBI already had, and played, at best, a corroborating role.

    Also too, fun fact: Did you know FISA applications are between 30 and 100 pages long, […]

    Another fun fact: the […] Devin Nunes [memo]? Four pages long. That’s right, not only is he so fucking full of shit, he and his staff are also lazy.

    By the way, Nunes has hit back in response to the FBI’s statement. His statement is worth exactly as much of your time as you think it is.

    Anyway, White House “Grown-Up Idiot In The Room” Chief of Staff John Kelly says the memo will be released to the public “pretty quick,” because apparently General John Fucking Kelly doesn’t care about national security anymore […]

    Part of Nunes’ doofus-like reply to the FBI:

    No surprise to see the FBI and the DOJ issue spurious objections to allowing the American people to see information related to surveillance abuses at these agencies after both stonewalled Congress’ demands for information for nearly a year.

    Bullshit. There was some reluctance to give classified info to Nunes because he had misused classified info before, i.e. in the “unmasking” charade. And, Congress critters were allowed to read classified info in a SKIF … not really stonewalled. Nunes wanted all the classified files in his own grubby hands.

    More from dunderheaded Nunes:

    The FBI is intimately familiar with “material omissions” with respect to their presentations to both Congress and the courts, and they are welcome to make public, to the greatest extent possible, all the information they have on these abuses, Regardless, it’s clear that top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counter-intelligence investigation during an American political campaign.

  316. says

    New reports say that Trump also asked Rod Rosenstein for his loyalty, sort of.

    […] Trump in December asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein whether he was on Trump’s “team,” […]

    The reported comments are the latest example in a troubling pattern of Trump appearing to request loyalty from Justice Department or FBI officials, who have traditionally operated independently of the White House’s political agenda.

    Citing unnamed sources familiar with a meeting between Trump and Rosenstein, […] Trump wanted to know the direction of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    According to CNN, Trump also asked Rosenstein whether he was “on my team.”

    “Of course, we’re all on your team, Mr. President,” Rosenstein responded, according to the report. On the subject of Mueller’s investigation, CNN reported, Rosenstein demurred.

    Trump also brought up Rosenstein’s upcoming testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, CNN reported, citing an unnamed source briefed on the matter.

    Another source told CNN that Trump made suggestions to members of Congress regarding what they should ask Rosenstein during the hearing. […]


  317. militantagnostic says

    What a Maroon @451
    Maybe the CDC director bought tobacco stocks in anticipation of Hair Furor getting impeached and Mike Spence* becoming president.

    *In addition to the mandatory AGW denialism, Spence is a Tobacco causing cancer denialist.

  318. says

    From California Representative Adam Schiff:

    Discovered late tonight that Chairman Nunes made material changes to the memo he sent to White House – changes not approved by the Committee. White House therefore reviewing a document the Committee has not approved for release.

    This news from Schiff may, in some way, relate to the story that Nunes’ staff may have collaborated with the White House in order to create the memo in the first place …. so it might make sense, sort of, that Nunes doesn’t really think twice before sending anything to the White House. Or, Nunes may be altering the memo to make it more pleasing to Trump, (which would also be more critical of the FBI).

    Also, Nunes will have made changes that FBI Director Wray has not seen.

    Nunes was pressured to say whether or not his staff collaborated with the White House to create the misleading, factually incorrect memo. Nunes refused to answer the question.

  319. says

    Ah, yes. This was expected, but it is still startling. Republican fiscal missteps are having an effect. It’s not good.

    Up until fairly recently, federal officials believed the nation would have to raise the debt ceiling by late March or early April. Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office said action will be required even sooner — because the Republican’s $1.5 trillion tax cut is already starting to affect U.S. finances.

    […] the borrowing limit will most likely need to be raised in early March after the “extraordinary measures” to extend borrowing employed by the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, are exhausted. The budget office previously projected that the debt limit would need to be raised beyond its current level of $20.5 trillion in late March or early April.

    The reason for the change stems from the tax cuts, which went into effect in January and are expected to translate into less revenue for the federal government.

    A separate New York Times report added this week that annual budget deficits “are creeping up to $1 trillion and the national debt has topped $20 trillion.” The Treasury Department “will need to borrow $441 billion in privately held debt this quarter,” which is the largest sum in eight years.

    And yet, Republicans — ostensibly, the nation’s fiscal hawks and stalwarts of fiscal responsibility — have nothing to say about this. […]

    Under Obama the deficit shrunk in his first seven years by a trillion dollars – that’s “trillion” with a “t” – at which point the issue quietly lost its potency.

    […] even as the deficit gets significantly larger, due entirely to deliberate Republican choices, the public conversation largely ignores the issue. […]


  320. says

    Ben Carson never was a good fit for to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. (He had no experience relevant to the job.) I think Trump nominated Carson because he needed a black face in his cabinet.

    Now, we are seeing that Carson is worse than we thought. He is corrupt. As the Washington Post reported:

    Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson allowed his son to help organize an agency “listening tour” in Baltimore last summer despite warnings from department lawyers that doing so risked violating federal ethics rules […]

    Career officials and political appointees raised concerns days before the visit that Carson’s son, local businessman Ben Carson Jr., and daughter-in-law were inviting people with whom they potentially had business dealings […]

    Carson Jr. put people he’d invited in touch with his father’s deputies, joined agency staff on official conference calls about the listening tour and copied his wife on related email exchanges, according to emails.

    Conflicts of interest, Dr. Carson.

    Moreover, Carson had been warned—in person and in writing—by ethics watchdogs and by other HUD officials. Carson just plowed ahead anyway.

    From Steve Benen:

    Let’s also not forget that during his 2016 presidential campaign, Carson faced months of allegations that his entire political operation resembled some kind of fundraising scam. Carson himself conceded two years ago, for example, that even he wasn’t sure about the motivations of his finance team.

    Another scam artist. Trump hires “all the best people.”

  321. says

    Follow-up to comment 462.

    From Adam Schiff:

    Upon our discovery that the document sent for public review had been secretly altered, the Majority belatedly afforded the Minority an opportunity this evening to compare the document transmitted on Monday night by the Majority to the White House with the document made available to all House Members since January 18. After reviewing both versions, it is clear that the Majority made material changes to the version it sent to the White House, which Committee Members were never apprised of, never had the opportunity to review, and never approved.

    We don’t know yet if this situation, flagged by Schiff, will slow down the release of the memo. Trump said he wanted it released, so all the rules will probably be broken.

    More background:

    […] Schiff charged that Nunes’ decision to make the changes without informing the full committee shows that Republicans on the committee no longer stand by the original document and “felt it necessary to deceive” the full committee during Monday night’s vote to release the memo.

    Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), a member of the committee, pointed out on Twitter that he asked Nunes during the Monday night vote whether he would release the memo exactly as it appeared that evening. The transcript from the meeting shows Nunes replied in the affirmative. […]

    From Nunes’ spokesperson:

    In its increasingly strange attempt to thwart publication of the memo, the Committee Minority is now complaining about minor edits to the memo, including grammatical fixes and two edits requested by the FBI and by the Minority themselves. The vote to release the memo was absolutely procedurally sound, and in accordance with House and Committee rules. To suggest otherwise is a bizarre distraction from the abuses detailed in the memo, which the public will hopefully soon be able to read for themselves.

    I wouldn’t trust Nunes as far as I could throw him. He burned his credibility to the ground in March, during his “midnight run” to the White House to launder White House documents so that he could claim they were his own, to hold a bogus press conference, and to conflate “unmasking” with crimes.

  322. says

    Thoughts on the Collapse of the Strzok Conspiracy Theory

    […] Strzok is the high-ranking FBI counter-intelligence agent who was removed from the Mueller probe over anti-Trump texts he’d shared with another FBI employee he was then having an affair with. […] centerpiece of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory which posits an FBI/Deep State cabal manufacturing the Russia probe to delegitimize and destroy Trump’s presidency.

    [Yesterday] it was revealed that Strzok was at the center of the decision to reopen the emails probe into Hillary Clinton in the last week of the campaign. He actually authored the first draft of the notorious Comey Letter, which quite likely doomed Clinton’s campaign. […]

    Strzok wrote the first draft of the Comey Letter and supported reopening the investigation. But he was apparently uncertain about the decision to publicize the decision to do so. […] The idea that Comey acted improperly and unfairly damaged Clinton is so widespread it was actually Trump and Rod Rosenstein’s original cover story for firing Comey in May of last year.

    […] big picture: the supposed anti-Trump kingpin played a key role in the decision that quite plausibly doomed Clinton’s campaign. […]

    This news is only big news because it deeply undermines the conspiracy theory about him [Strzok] being an anti-Trump rogue agent trying to destroy Trump’s presidency. But any reasonable person would have known that conspiracy theory was bogus in the first place. […]

    So how big a deal do we make of this considering it is unsurprising and unremarkable and only has consequence as a rebuttal to something that was tendentious and dishonest in the first place? […] I would say it’s a big deal since Republicans trying to protect Trump have already made the Strzok conspiracy theory so pervasive, as ridiculous as it may be.

    This Strzok-based conspiracy theory is collapsing just like the “unmasking” theory, and like the “Uranium One” boondoggle. The facts slowly make their way to the surface, and the rightwing conspiracy theory dies.

    Already, though, a lot of damage was done to the public perception of the FBI, at least in the eyes of Trump supporters.

  323. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Trump tweeted:

    Thank you for all of the nice compliments and reviews on the State of the Union speech. 45.6 million people watched, the highest number in history. @FoxNews beat every other Network, for the first time ever, with 11.7 million people tuning in. Delivered from the heart!

    The facts: 48 million people tuned in to Obama’s first SOTU speech in 2010. The audience for Trump’s speech was also smaller than Bill Clinton’s first SOTU and George Bush’s first SOTU. Even fox showed the facts this morning. Trump must have missed that Fox News Research presentation.

    Trump is delusional and/or incapable of understanding details.