Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

Lynna is your curator. How are you all holding up, America?

(Previous thread)


  1. says

    James Clapper on Russia: “They swung the election to a Trump win.”
    This is part of a series of interviews in which Rachel Maddow questioned former DNI James Clapper.

    James Clapper: “Russia eminently successful in the election of 2016.”

    James Clapper: Americans will pay for the damage Trump has done to society and to institutions in the U.S.A.

    Clapper talks with Rachel Maddow about how Donald Trump’s weak morals and willingness to inflict damage on American society and institutions have strained his respect for the Trump presidency and his role as commander in chief.

    James Clapper: The Steele dossier was not used for the intelligence assessment of 2016.

    Former DNI James Clapper, author of “Facts and Fears,” talks with Rachel Maddow about how the Intelligence Community regarded the Christopher Steele dossier and how to make Donald Trump aware of its existence even as parts of it were verified.

  2. says

    WTF? Fox News surprises us again. How low will they go?

    Fox News host Pete Hegseth said Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “probably” wants to meet with President Donald Trump because he “doesn’t love to be the guy who has to murder his people all day.”

    The eyebrow raising suggestion was made after “Fox and Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked Hegseth why Kim had agreed to meet and discuss denuclearization with Trump.

    At first, Hegseth offered that Kim “wants a picture with the American president” and is likely weary of the economic sanctions the U.S. and its allies have imposed against North Korea in recent months.

    “And I think there probably is a point at which the guy who wants to meet with Dennis Rodman and loves NBA basketball and loves Western pop culture, probably doesn’t love to be the guy who has to murder his people all day,” he said. “Probably wants some normalization. Let’s give it to him if we can make the world safer.”


    Yeah, that’s a great explanation: Kim Jong-un hates that he has to murder his own people.

    Normalize and praise Kim Jong-un. That will make it easier to explain things when Trump fails to negotiate well and then spins the results into a tale of success.

  3. says

    Linking back to SC’s comment 500 in the previous chapter of this thread.

    Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, received a secret payment of at least $400,000 (£300,000) to fix talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump, according to sources in Kiev close to those involved. […]

    Linking back to a discussion of Trump’s comments about “Spy-Gate” and other attempts to smear the FBI:
    Link to 499

    Link to 498. See also comment 496

    Link to 470 (SC’s comment)

  4. says

    From Josh Marshall, the need to highlight important facts about the meetings between Team Trump and Joel Zamel:

    Here is a very notable passage from a new Bloomberg article about PSY Group, the psy-ops company run by Joel Zamel, the Israeli social media expert who was in that Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr pitching his services in August 2016 …

    FBI agents working with Mueller’s team interviewed people associated with PSY Group’s U.S. operations in February, and Mueller subpoenaed bank records for payments made to the firm’s Cyprus bank accounts, according to a person who has seen one of the subpoenas. Though PSY Group is based in Israel, it’s technically headquartered in Cyprus, the small Mediterranean island famous for its banking secrecy.

    Shortly after those interviews, on Feb. 25, PSY Group Chief Executive Officer Royi Burstien informed employees in Tel Aviv that the company was closing down. Burstien is a former commander of an Israeli psychological warfare unit, according to two people familiar with the company. […]

    PSY Group developed elaborate information operations for commercial clients and political candidates around the world, the people said.

    Remember that Zamel appeared to be pitching his services to the Trump campaign in concert with George Nader who was there as an emissary of the United Arab Emirates and, less formally, Saudi Arabia. Zamel’s company would provide the services, the princes would cover the tab.

    As the article describes, shortly after the election in December 2016, PSY Group went into business with Cambridge Analytica. Later the article notes that PSY Group shut down “the same week that Nader testified before the grand jury working with Mueller.”

    In other news, Trump’s rebranding of the informant controversy as “SPYGATE” has already been picked up by every media outlet I’ve checked, including MSNBC. I think it is a mistake to repeat Trump’s branding/propaganda efforts in their headlines and in the chyrons.

    When they [the Republicans, Nunes and Gowdy] look at the documents, they’ll see that a lot of bad things happened, [Trump said].

    New polls now show that a majority of Americans think that the Mueller probe is “politically motivated.” That’s a win for Trump propaganda.

  5. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    With so many bewildering things happening in the news, it’s important not to lose the thread. The FBI’s counter-intelligence division was confronted with evidence that the Trump campaign was riddled with operatives colluding with a hostile foreign government to throw the 2016 election. Those fears have now all been amply confirmed. The agents assigned to the case used the least invasive, most conservative means to investigate the evidence they had.

    […] What is revealing is that at every turn the agents involved took the step that was most likely to protect now-President Trump. Like having a longtime informant informally ask questions as opposed to having agents request interviews or doing more aggressive electronic surveillance.

    Whenever the government’s intelligence and national security apparatus makes contact with the political process it is a matter of the greatest delicacy. But at every turn the people involved appear to have leaned in the direction of non-involvement, non-impact, even to a fault. At the end of the day, these people were faced with a genuinely unprecedented situation: a major party presidential campaign that had either been infiltrated by or was colluding with a hostile foreign power.

  6. says

    Here’s another look at the fight that was started when Democrats were barred by Republicans and by Team Trump from the Department of Justice briefing about the FBI informant. (More on the informant in comment 9.)

    Chief of Staff John Kelly has excluded Democrats from a meeting planned for Thursday to provide more information about the FBI informant that President Donald Trump claims infiltrated his 2016 campaign, according to a Tuesday Politico report.

    Kelly reportedly arranged the meeting, which was an idea borne from Monday’s meeting on the same topic with Trump, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

    Democrats are furious about the exclusion. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer lashed out on Twitter after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that as Democrats were not requesting information about the informant, they should not expect an invite. […]


  7. says

    Follow-up to comment 4, in reference to the last three links in that comment.

    From’s Trump’s explanations to reports when questions were asked about him attacking the FBI:

    No, no. We’re not undercutting, We’re cleaning everything up. This was a terrible situation. What we’re doing is we’re cleaning everything up. It’s so important. What I’m doing is a service to this country. […]

    SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!

  8. says

    Another tweet from Trump, touting alternative facts:

    “Trump should be happy that the FBI was SPYING on his campaign” No, James Clapper, I am not happy. Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!

    The facts:

    […] There’s just one problem — that’s not at all what Clapper said.

    Trump’s tweet alludes to an interview Clapper did with Tuesday’s edition of The View. During it, Clapper denied that the FBI “spied” on the Trump campaign, but argued that the intelligence community had good reason to be curious about Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.

    “So I ask you, was the FBI spying on Trump’s campaign?” host Joy Behar asked Clapper.

    “No, they were not,” Clapper replied.

    “With the informant business, well, the point here is the Russians,” Clapper continued. “Not spying on the campaign but what are the Russians doing? […] what they were trying to do is protect our political system and protect the campaign.”

    “They were spying on, a term I don’t particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing,” Clapper said. “Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence which is what they do.”

    Behar responded by asking Clapper, “Well, why doesn’t he like that? He should be happy.”

    “He should be,” Clapper said. […]


    Video available at the link.

  9. says

    “Trump’s FBI Spy Theory Is Completely Insane”:

    Trump may be forming an even more radical theory. Gabriel Sherman reports that Trump’s team “is attempting to build the case that anti-Trump forces in the F.B.I. entrapped his advisers using informants to plant evidence about Russian collusion.” Let this roll around in your mind for a moment. Trump is not merely accusing the FBI of planting a spy, but of planting evidence.

    Julian Sanchez: “As far as I can tell this is the first time the Obama Deep State Conspiracy Theory has included the idea of ‘planting evidence’. Which suggests there’s now specific evidence they fear Mueller has & are looking to preemptively discredit.”

    The NYM piece contains a passage relevant to the discussion Lynna and I have been having:

    Planting evidence? Multiple spies? Obama political operatives? You might think this is all so unhinged Trump could not possibly believe it, but then, you would have to explain Trump’s longtime infatuation with the conspiracy theories he imbibes in his binge-watching of Fox News, where hours of air time can pass by without the appearance of anybody who is hinged. And you might also think Trump could not get his party to go along with this theory, to dismiss all the evidence of culpability as having been fabricated by a pro-Obama cabal in the FBI. But then you would be ignoring how far down the Trump rabbit hole the Republican Party has gone so far.

    On the other hand, Tim O’Brien points to the same information shared (very belatedly!) by Leslie Stahl to argue: “Worth noting the obvious: President Trump is using the same tactics against law enforcement, intel agencies, civil service and the judiciary that he deploys against the media — trying to discredit all of them so institutions that question or check his power are undermined.”

    I suppose I’d say that it doesn’t matter if Trump believes his absurd allegations insofar as some people (I’m not including you in this, Lynna) seem to still think that presenting him with the evidence of their falsity would lead him to stop making them. Even if it were possible, it wouldn’t affect his actions because he doesn’t care at all about the truth of his claims, only their usefulness. At the same time, it does matter in the sense that it’s important to how people can address the problem more generally.

  10. says

    More of Trump’s conspiracy-theory propaganda, via Twitter:

    Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!
    “It’s clear that they had eyes and ears all over the Trump Campaign” Judge Andrew Napolitano [on Fox news]
    SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!

    From James Comey’s response, which SC had posted earlier:

    Facts matter. The FBI’s use of Confidential Human Sources (the actual term) is tightly regulated and essential to protecting the country. Attacks on the FBI and lying about its work will do lasting damage to our country. How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren?

  11. says

    Follow-up to comment 11.

    Trump also repeated a claim about the firing of Comey, (repetition of lies being one of Trump’s propagandistic strategies):

    What I’m doing is a service to this country. And I did a great service to this country by firing James Comey. […]

    I think James Comey’s got a lot of problems.

  12. says

    #BREAKING: DC Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin just found @USAO_DC committed a Brady & Rule 16 violation for withholding evidence beneficial to the #J20 defense. He indicated he will likely institute sanctions against US Attorney but won’t rule til next Thurs. #J20trials…”

    Much more in the thread. Very good news.

  13. says

    From John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] In the past forty-eight hours, Trump has demanded that the Justice Department open an investigation into its own investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The Justice Department has already—partially, at least—acceded to his wishes. […]

    […] this wasn’t an isolated case. As the Robert Mueller investigation closes in on the President, Trump and his allies have launched a multi-pronged effort to discredit and end it. […]

    […] Not only was Trump violating the rule that Presidents don’t get involved in individual criminal investigations, he was targeting a probe that involved him, several of his family members, and many of his closest colleagues.

    […] Rosenstein sought to deëscalate the situation by saying he would refer the matter to the Justice Department’s inspector general, who was already reviewing the steps that the F.B.I. took in 2016 to obtain a court warrant to eavesdrop on Carter Page, […]

    Given the fact the Rosenstein’s continued presence in office is essential to the safeguarding of the Mueller probe, it was defensible on pragmatic grounds. But on Monday Rosenstein was forced into making another concession. After his meeting with Trump, the White House announced that John Kelly, the President’s chief of staff, would “immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with Congressional Leaders [Only Republicans leaders!] to review highly classified and other information they have requested.” […]

    “The President may, in effect, be ordering the disclosure of an F.B.I. confidential source,” Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School [noted]. “That really crosses F.B.I. lines. They really care a lot about protecting their sources both for their credibility with that source and future sources.” […]

    […] all that concerns him [Trump] is discrediting the Russia investigation and saving his own skin. To this end, he will do practically anything he can get away with. And, judging by the deathly silence from the Republican leadership over the past couple of days, he won’t receive any resistance from that quarter. To repeat, the danger is increasing.

    More at the link.

  14. says


    Pence’s address to the Coast Guard cadets has an “orientation to authority” section:

    “Submit yourself to the authorities placed above you. Trust your superiors. Trust your orders.”

    But there’s not a word in it about the Constitution or the imperative that the orders be lawful.

    Text of the passage at the link.

  15. says

    SC @17, good news for justice and for truth. Bad news for Project Veritas. Schadenfreude moment.

    tomh @16, too true.

    In other news, Steve Bannon is claiming that Rosenstein could be fired “very shortly.” I don’t believe anything Bannon says, but he does still have some influence on Team Trump.

    Oh, no. Jared Kushner has finally received a permanent security clearance. That clearance took more than a year, and included multiple corrections to forms that Kushner filed. I kind of doubt that he really deserves such a clearance, and I fear that this may make Kushner more of a troublemaker in Middle Eastern politics. Link

  16. says

    Follow-up to comment 8.

    A majority of Americans — 59 percent — say in a new survey that Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia and the 2016 campaign has not yet uncovered evidence of any crimes, even though in reality, Mueller has already obtained five guilty pleas and 17 criminal indictments. […]

    To be as clear about this as possible, Mueller’s investigation has absolutely uncovered evidence of crimes:

    Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and a key Trump campaign surrogate, pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators in December.

    Rick Gates, a top aide on the Trump campaign and a longtime business partner of Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty to false statements and one count of conspiracy.

    George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on the campaign, pleaded guilty to false statements.

    Alexander van der Zwaan, a London-based Dutch attorney, pleaded guilty to making false statements about his contacts with Gates and an unnamed Ukrainian.

    13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies have been indicted on conspiracy charges, and some on identity theft charges, related to Russian social media and hacking efforts.

    Richard Pinedo, a California resident, has pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge related to the Russian indictments.

    Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chair, is facing two separate indictments — one in DC about conspiracy, money laundering, false statements, and failure to disclose foreign assets; and one in Virginia about tax, financial, and bank fraud charges.

    One can interpret this pattern of behavior in a few ways. One is that Mueller is steadily putting in place the building blocks of a huge, mafia-style takedown that will end with Manafort “flipping” under pressure and new indictments coming against members of Donald Trump’s family and damning evidence about Trump himself.

    Another would be that when placed under a microscope by an aggressive prosecutor, several Trump aides turn out to have been involved in financial malfeasance only loosely related to the Trump campaign and Trump himself did nothing wrong.

    But there is definitely evidence of crimes — including some serious ones — by a range of figures, some Russian and some Americans and some working at a very high level in Trumpworld. […]


  17. says

    NEW: POROSHENKO’s office in statement blasts @BBCNews story on $400k payment to MICHAEL COHEN as ‘slander…aimed at discrediting Ukraine-US relations, as well as a personal attack against the Presidents of Ukraine & the US’. They are demanding a retraction, & hinting at lawsuit.”

  18. says

    From Steve Benen:

    The only thing Donald Trump loves more than conspiracy theories is conspiracy theories in which he gets to pretend he’s a victim. For this president, wildly connecting imaginary dots is satisfying, but doing so while feeling sorry for himself is sublime.

    […] Sitting alongside the president of South Korea in the Oval Office yesterday, Trump argued:

    “A lot of people are saying [the Justice Department] had spies in my campaign. If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country. That would be one of the biggest insults that anyone has ever seen, and it would be very illegal, aside from everything else. It would make, probably, every political event ever look like small potatoes.”

    Last night and this morning, the president published a series of angry messages on Twitter, elaborating on his new plaything.

    “If the person placed very early into my campaign wasn’t a SPY put there by the previous Administration for political purposes, how come such a seemingly massive amount of money was paid for services rendered – many times higher than normal… Follow the money! The spy was there early in the campaign and yet never reported Collusion with Russia, because there was no Collusion. He was only there to spy for political reasons and to help Crooked Hillary win – just like they did to Bernie Sanders, who got duped!”

    […] It’s tempting to fact-check some of the more ridiculous aspects of this. We could point out, for example, that his claims about a “spy” in his campaign appear to be a bizarre fantasy based on Trump’s confusion about the nature of the investigation into his operation – an investigation that was created because of the number of people inside Trump World suspected of serious wrongdoing. […]

    But even if we did explain all of this in detail, it wouldn’t much matter, because Trump has reached the point in his conspiracy-theory narrative at which he wouldn’t understand anyway.

    […] the president has convinced himself that Obama dispatched spies into the Trump campaign, manufactured dirt on the Republican, and somehow forgot to make use of the information before Election Day. […]

    If it all seems bewildering, that’s very likely the point – because to consider the Russia scandal and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation on the merits is to recognize that Trump and his cohorts can’t seem to come up with a compelling response to serious allegations.

    It’s all bonkers, but that part of Trump’s speechifying that includes the references to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is extra special bonkers. Yikes! The “very stable genius” has run his train of thought off the tracks.

  19. says

    BREAKING: NFL owners approve policy allowing players to stay in locker room for national anthem, but they must stand if on field.”

    As I said on the previous iteration, I don’t understand how this is constitutional – it’s employer-enforced political speech.

  20. says

    Betsy DeVos said this about schools reporting students who are undocumented immigrants:

    “That’s a school decision. It’s a local community decision,” DeVos said during testimony before the House Education and the Workforce Committee, adding that “we have laws and we also are compassionate.” Her comments came in her first-ever appearance before the education panel, lasting close to three and a half hours.

    As Gabe Ortiz pointed out:

    […] No, no, no. That isn’t how it works. That’s not how any of this works. The Supreme Court has already decided that all kids here, no matter their immigration status, have the right to a public school education. Shit, even ICE has a “sensitive location” policy dictating that schools should generally be “off-limits” to enforcement action (though, unleashed under Trump, they’ve come dangerously close to skirting it).

    The point is, this isn’t up for debate. All kids have the right to go to school, and the fact that the fucking secretary of fucking Education doesn’t fucking get this is, even for Betsy DeVos, fucking astounding. […] Mass deportation policies are traumatic, damaging and when they take place at our schools, a violation of the Constitution:

    The Supreme Court made clear in Plyler v. Doe that public schools have a constitutional obligation to provide schooling for children, regardless of immigration status. That means schools also cannot enforce measures that would deter undocumented children from registering. They cannot ask about immigration status. And according to the American Civil Liberties Union, they cannot report students or their families to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. […]


  21. says

    As his his won’t, Trump doubled down on using offensive language when discussing any aspect of immigration:

    […] Trump on Wednesday doubled down on his use of the term “animals” to describe some immigrants living illegally in the U.S.

    Speaking at an event in New York about the MS-13 gang, Trump rebuked critics who said the term was inappropriate and reiterated that he used it to refer to gang members only.

    “I called them animals the other day and I was met with rebuke,” Trump said. “They said, ‘these are people.’ These are not people, these are animals and we have to be very, very tough.”


  22. says

    Sheesh. Correction to comment 29: “As his his won’t” should be “As is his wont”.

    Autocorrect clearly doesn’t like the word “wont” … the other errors are mine alone.

  23. blf says

    the other errors are mine alone

    Thanks! I have loads of Tpoys offerings, and you certainly are welcome to them. A fairly amusing menagerie is building, but there’s not yet any sign of that most magical of beasties, the fabulously rare Offeringless Comment.

  24. tomh says

    @ #26
    The National Basketball Association, the most progressive of all the sports leagues, has had a rule in place for decades that players, trainers, and coaches must stand for the Anthem. It’s original purpose was so that players wouldn’t be shooting and stretching while the Anthem was played, but of course, now it has a different meaning.

    The solution, of course, is to quit playing the Anthem before games, but given the fact that the tradition stretches back to baseball games during WWI, and the current administration is so bonkers, that’s not going to happen.

  25. says

    From Simon Maloy, writing for MediaMatters:

    […] Trump […] is using the powers of his office to try to discredit the Russia investigation. This past weekend, Trump demanded that the Department of Justice “look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration.”[…]

    “The president has now crossed one of the brightest red lines in the American rule of law: demanding the Department of Justice open a politically motivated investigation designed to sabotage the criminal and counterintelligence probe into the president’s own campaign,” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said on his show Monday. […]

    It’s crucial to view this attempt by the White House to assert the existence of an anti-Trump cabal within the government in context: It’s the latest in a series of fraudulent and debunked attemps to push such a claim. Trump’s demand that his investigators be investigated rests on a foundation of lies that was built with the critical assistance of a credulous and complicit right-wing media.

    Let’s run through all the major conspiracy theories that brought us to this point.

    Wiretapping […] It was a deathly serious allegation for the president to make, and it was completely false. […]

    Nonetheless, Trump’s defenders in the conservative media contorted themselves to try to prove Trump was right, especially following House intelligence committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes’ March 22, 2017, press conference (which Nunes secretly coordinated with the White House) announcing that “surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.”

    Unmasking: Speaking of Nunes, he became the driving force behind the allegation that Obama administration officials had improperly unmasked the identities of Trump associates whose conversations were incidentally captured by intelligence agencies. Once again acting on information provided by the Trump White House, Nunes accused former national security adviser Susan Rice and other Obama officials of abusing the unmasking process. […] congressional investigators from both parties said she’d done nothing wrong.

    […]Trump himself told The New York Times that he believed Rice had committed a crime. […]

    What emerges from all this is a damning picture of a Republican political operation — involving the White House and key members of Congress — to concoct blatant falsehoods and conspiracy theories, and a conservative media apparatus that readily absorbs and rebroadcasts that propaganda. […]

    There is a key difference, however, in all the lying about the Russia investigation. These conspiracy theories are defensive. […] Trump himself has no discernible legal strategy. Instead, he’s fighting a public relations campaign and casting himself as the victim of a “witch hunt.”

    These attacks on the legitimacy of the investigation are the only weapon they have against it. […]

    Much more at the link.

  26. says

    Brian Stelter:

    AP: “Trump told one ally this week that he wanted ‘to brand’ the informant a ‘spy,’ believing the more nefarious term would resonate more in the media and with the public.”

    And then he basically bragged about the success of his plan to reporters today when he talked about them repeating the word he used in his tweet. He openly boasts about using the media to propagandize in furtherance of his abuse of power and obstruction of justice, and they continue to let him. They should make the decision to summarize his tweets in their own words (when it’s necessary to discuss them at all) rather than showing the text on screen or reading them aloud.

  27. says

    James Clapper told Nicolle Wallace earlier that he thought the meeting scheduled for tomorrow might be in violation of the statute that requires them, when supplying information for congressional oversight, to brief both the chair and ranking members of a committee.

  28. says

    The Garrett story is strange – refers to his having “parted ways” and “split” with his chief of staff. Saying his chief of staff was fired or resigned would be more usual.

  29. says

    Very good article – “Spygate: How Right-Wing Media Creates a Conspiracy Theory Out of Thin Air”:

    …”A lot of people are saying,” Trump explained to reporters, employing one of his favorite phrases, “that they had spies in my campaign.” Technically, he’s right. This result is the handiwork of a perfectly compartmentalized system for manufacturing a lie: Everyone helps to facilitate its creation, but no one is actually responsible for it.

    I don’t believe there’s any way this isn’t coordinated, most likely by Trump, Hannity, and Nunes.

    This caught my eye:

    May 15

    Nunes appears on the Fox & Friends set, hinting that the campaign might have been “set up” by the FBI. “I believe they never should have opened a counterintelligence investigation into a political party,” he explains. And although he at first avoids using the word “spy,” his hosts are happy to put it in his mouth. Steve Doocy suggests that Nunes’s narrative implies that Trump was “framed,” while Earhardt adds that “it makes it sound like there was a spy.”

    Like the reference to “planting evidence” @ #13 above, claims about Trump’s having been “set up” or “framed” suggest that they know of evidence of his guilt and are trying to preemptively discredit it.

  30. says

    Brian Schatz: “When one political party loses its mind and the other doesn’t it is not your responsibility to be ‘even handed’ or to pretend not to see what is happening. We should not split the difference as a country and become half-crazy.”

  31. says

    This is odd, from the BBC story:

    There was also support for the account from a lawyer in the US who has uncovered details of Mr Cohen’s finances, Michael Avenatti. He represents a porn actress, Stormy Daniels, in legal action against President Trump.

    Avenatti said that Suspicious Activity Reports filed by Mr Cohen’s bank to the US Treasury showed he had received money from “Ukrainian interests”.

    I thought Avenatti’s source only gave him (the information in?) one SAR. This implies that he’s seen more than one.

  32. says

    This is my hope:

    .@charlie_savage on Deputy AG Rosenstein’s appeasing of the president: “We don’t know what Rod Rosenstein knows about what Mueller is up to…If Mueller is a week or two away from something…then how we’ll look at these appeasement gestures will look very different.” #MTPDaily

  33. says

    Huh. Adam Schiff just told Rachel Maddow that he was told by the head of an intelligence agency that the meeting tomorrow will be at the Gang of Eight level. That’s not what the WH is saying.

  34. says

    From what I understand, there will be 2 briefings on the FBI source tomorrow — the 1st with Nunes/Gowdy, the 2nd with the Gang of 8/Gowdy. John Kelly is going to both — contrary to what Sarah Sanders said.

    But this has evolved so much today who knows what tomorrow brings.”

    This two-meeting scenario would be totally unacceptable.

  35. says

    southpaw: “Nunes and Gowdy wouldn’t waste their time having the same meeting twice. They’re trying to do something in the first meeting that they can’t allow Democrats or Senate Republicans to see. This looks guilty as sin.”

    There is no justification for this meeting, and the IC people shouldn’t agree to it.

  36. says

    SC @50, Team Trump didn’t know that what they were planning was wrong, wrong, wrong until after they got massive pushback, including some lessons in laws and rules? The gang of 8 attendance at the briefing is so much better than having just Nunes and Gowdy hear the classified information. Gowdy is not even a member of the gang of 8 (leaders in the House and Senate, plus committee chairs from the Intelligence committees in the House and Senate).

    Still, as Adam Schiff pointed out, the meeting to discuss classified reports from an informant in an on-going investigation should not be going on at all.

    And why, WHY, is Kelly going to be there? The president’s chief of staff will attend a meeting about an investigation that includes the president as a target? How can they be right?

    At least we can happy (/sarcasm) to see that, yes, Team Trump always fucks up everything. That includes organizing and holding this meeting.

  37. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Lynna, OM #54:

    Team Trump always fucks up everything. That includes organizing and holding this meeting.

    Their conference calls were spectacular.
    Video: Mulvaney spinning the budget deal, May 2017 (2:20)
    Video: Iran Deal press announcement, Jan 2018 (4:11)

  38. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, US under pressure to recognise Israeli-occupied Golan Heights:

    Israel is pressing the Trump administration to recognise its sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, an Israeli cabinet minister said on Wednesday, predicting US assent could come within months.

    Interviewed by Reuters, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz described endorsement of Israel’s 51-year-old hold on the Golan as the proposal now topping the agenda in bilateral diplomatic talks with the United States.


    Once willing to consider returning the Golan for peace with Syria, the Israelis have in recent years argued that the civil war in Syria and the presence there of an Iranian garrison backing Damascus show they need to keep the strategic plateau.

    Katz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet, cast the Golan proposal as a potential extension of the Trump administration’s confrontational tack against perceived regional expansion and aggression by Iran […].

    This is the perfect time to make such a move. The most painful response you can give the Iranians is to recognise Israel’s Golan sovereignty — with an American statement, a presidential proclamation, enshrined (in law), he said.

    The message to Tehran, Katz said, would be: You want to destroy (US-ally Israel), to generate attacks (against it)? Look, you got exactly the opposite.

    [… Russia won’t seriously object, suggests the looney …]

    Katz suggested that a US move on the Golan could also prod the Palestinians […] to revive peace talks.


    They should hurry up and sit down with Israel, because where Israel says it is determined to be, it will be, and it won’t give up, and history is working in our favour, he said.


    As Al Jazeera points out (Israel to push for US recognition of occupied Golan Heights), the Golan is “internationally recognised as Syrian territory”.

  39. blf says

    Other racist eejits, this time in Denmark, Danes laugh off minister comments that Ramadan poses risks (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Integration minister Inger Stoejberg advised Muslims should take leave during Ramadan to avoid safety risks to society.

    Muslims in Denmark have laughed off the suggestion of integration minister that Muslims take time off work during Ramadan to avoid potential safety risks that fasting may cause to the rest of society.

    Integration Minister Inger Stojberg, an immigration hardliner […], questioned in a blog post published on Monday how “commanding observance to a 1,400-year-old pillar of Islam”[] was compatible with modern labour markets.


    Danish Muslims and non-Muslim Danes found that it was best to ignore Stojberg’s comments, which they believe have little impact on wider Danish society.

    Naveed Baig, imam and Muslim Chaplain at the Royal Hospital of Copenhagen said:”People made fun of her and mocked her statements.. {while many others} started using a hashtag in Danish that means stay calm. That was not just in the Muslim community but amongst the wider public too.

    “The comments were not surprising but rather comical for many Muslims in Denmark. She {Stojberg} is known for her rhetoric against Muslims and immigrants more generally.”


    Last year, Stoejberg posed for photos with a cake decorated with a Danish flag and the number 50, a reference to the 50 immigration restrictions she had been able to pass into law.

    Today I got the 50th amendment to tighten immigration controls ratified, she wrote on Facebook. This needs celebrating!


    In an interview with spokeswoman of Arriva, which runs a number of bus routes in Denmark, Pia Hammershoy Splittorff told BT newspaper that the company had never had any accidents involving drivers who were fasting. “So de facto it’s not a problem for us,” she said. [Bus drivers were one specific example the racist loon suggested should not work –blf]

    The same message came from Denmark’s 3F transport union, whose leader Jan Villadsen wondered if the minister was trying to create a problem that did not yet exist.


      † I dithered about whether-or-not to set this statement in eejit quotes, but ultimately decided not to, as it is broadly — albeit perhaps not entirely — true. To the best of my knowledge, Ramadan (which started about 10 days ago this year) is one of the oldest celebrations in Islam; however, the fasting is not compulsory (the minister is quoted as using (presumably in translation) “commanding”), having some quite sensible exceptions. However, as Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge points out, in a few Muslim-majority countries for not fasting or similar; almost predictably, Saudi Arabia is apparently amongst the worse in this regard, “there are harsher punishments including flogging, imprisonment and, for foreigners, deportation.”

  40. says

    tomh @ #32:

    The National Basketball Association, the most progressive of all the sports leagues, has had a rule in place for decades that players, trainers, and coaches must stand for the Anthem. It’s original purpose was so that players wouldn’t be shooting and stretching while the Anthem was played, but of course, now it has a different meaning.

    The solution, of course, is to quit playing the Anthem before games, but given the fact that the tradition stretches back to baseball games during WWI, and the current administration is so bonkers, that’s not going to happen.

    I’ve been thinking about this. As you suggest, prior to this controversy the rule arguably didn’t have a political valence. It was mainly honored so as not to disrupt this part of the ritual. (Although obviously the national anthem is inherently political, and if it started during WWI it was likely originally part of the compelled jingoism and silencing of dissent characteristic of that era, for a long time the political nature of the rule wasn’t activated, so to speak.)

    The arguments now, in response to players’ protests against police discrimination and violence, which specify what players must and must not do with their bodies specifically in relation to the national anthem as such, have made it plainly an attempt to compel political speech from employees, and therefore, it seems to me, unconstitutional. (I don’t know how the large sums the NFL receives from the Pentagon factor in here, but they could be relevant – “The bosses are raking in tens of millions from the state and requiring their employees to submit to ritualistic displays of obedience toward the state” doesn’t seem like something in the spirit of the First Amendment.)

  41. says

    Answer to my question @ #62, from Peter Alexander:

    Worth noting: White House announced cancellation of Kim Jung-un summit while group of foreign reporters — there to “witness” the “dismantlement” of nuclear test site — were still in North Korea.

    They are still there now.

  42. says

    SC @60, Trump’s letter to the North Koreans included a milder version of “my nuclear arsenal is bigger than yours.” Mike Pence had also insulted the North Koreans with a version of “denuke or die,” and the leaders in NK were still fuming over John Bolton’s stupid remarks.

    Trump is fuming over the fact that Kim Jong-un made another trip to China and didn’t tell him. Didn’t get permission from Trump to travel? Didn’t include Trump in the talks/party? Nobody can talk to Chinese leaders without first informing Hair Furor and getting permission? Chinese leaders are Trump’s best friends and can’t be friends with anyone else?

    Trump did not inform our most important partners in the proposed talks, the South Koreans, before he sent the nasty letter.

  43. says

    From Trump’s strange letter to the North Koreans:

    You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never be used.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Trump’s ridiculous mistake wasn’t cancelling the summit, but rather, pretending he’d already accomplished something extraordinary. He hadn’t. North Korea wanted direct talks with every modern American president from both parties, but Trump’s predecessors had the good sense to decline, seeing no need to elevate the rogue dictatorship’s international stature in exchange for nothing.

    This American president, consumed by scandal, burdened by unpopularity, and desperate for some kind of victory, accepted an invitation without any real plan or forethought.

    Predictably, his approach failed. I will look forward to Trump declaring sometime soon, “Nobody knew diplomacy with a rogue nuclear state could be so complicated.”

    What about the commemorative coins? Least important part of this, but another sign of Trump’s hubris.


  44. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump is not satisfied with having NFL owners side with him to prevent football players from taking a knee during the playing of the anthem. Now he wants to deport some football players.

    Taking a knee during the national anthem during a National Football League game should “maybe” be a deportable offense, President Donald Trump appeared to say in an interview that aired Thursday morning.

    Speaking just moments after the NFL announced that all players who are on the field when the national anthem is heard before a game must stand and show respect — or can choose to remain in the locker room without penalty — Trump praised the new policy but also said it didn’t go far enough in punishing players who might continue to take a knee during the anthem.


    Typical move from a bully. Push everybody around, lie about other people’s motives, and if no one pushes back hard enough, make even more demands.

  45. says

    Follow-up to comment 67.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] The president’s approach to the issue is burdened by a degree of vacuity. For Trump, patriotism is about flags and rituals. He places great value in parades and symbols.

    It is a patriotism lacking in any depth. On Tuesday afternoon, for example, the president hosted a NASCAR event on the White House’s South Lawn and declared with pride, “One thing I know about NASCAR, they do indeed stand for the playing of the National Anthem.” Just 30 minutes later, Trump was in the Oval Office giving orders to federal law enforcement officials, instructing them to subvert our system of justice to advance his political interests.

    It never occurred to him to acknowledge the disconnect between the two events. For Trump, patriotism is about rituals, not honoring constitutional principles. […]

    This is the president who explicitly rejected the idea of “America exceptionalism,” questioning aloud whether the United States really is “more outstanding” than other nations. This is the president who’s mocked American prisoners of war, derided a Gold Star family, and insulted service members with PTSD. […]


  46. says

    Well, this is a bit of lighthearted fun: ‘Stormy Daniels Day’ In West Hollywood Gives ‘Heroine’ Key To City:

    […] The porn actress who is suing President Donald Trump was praised Wednesday as a heroine in West Hollywood, California.

    About 100 people cheered and chanted “Stormy! Stormy!” as Daniels appeared outside an adult entertainment store called Chi Chi LaRue’s.

    Mayor John Duran officially declared it “Stormy Daniels Day” and presented her with the key to the city.

    “This community has a history of standing up to bullies and speaking truth to power, and I’m so lucky to be a part of it,” Daniels said. […]


    More at the link, including some great photos.

  47. says

    An update on the farce revolving around the DOJ briefing meetings concerning the informant:

    In another change to the DOJ briefings about the FBI informant President Donald Trump claims infiltrated his campaign, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will now be in attendance ensuring that Trump has a representative in on the proceedings, according to a Wednesday Politico report.

    Per Politico, the White House previously asserted specifically that no members of Trump’s staff would be invited to the briefings.

    Kelly brokered one briefing originally, though backlash from excluded Democrats prompted the creation of a second.

    For the first briefing, Kelly, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats will brief Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA), and Trey Gowdy (R-SC).

    The same group will then brief the Gang of Eight—congressional leaders from both parties in addition to top members of House and Senate Intelligence committees—and Nunes and Gowdy again.

    Both meetings are scheduled for Thursday afternoon.


  48. tomh says

    @ #59
    The rule may well be tested in court, as the Player’s Union wasn’t consulted about the change and they don’t like it at all. The locker room exception included in the league’s new rules – allowing players to remain in the locker room (not standing) – for the anthem may save the NFL’s case.

  49. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] In this case, I completely believe that Donald Trump himself wrote this letter or dictated it. In fact, I feel almost certain he did. The words resonate with a genuine hurt and anguish, mixed with moments of menace and still hope for the future. It reads needy. It’s like a letter you write to a romantic partner who has abandoned you without saying so. You write, hurt, finalizing what is already clear.

    […] it goes without saying that this is no way to conduct diplomacy, certainly not when nuclear weapons are at the center of it. There’s a reason diplomats do things the way they do. […] the US never should have agreed to this summit. Indeed, President Trump’s claims notwithstanding, the North Koreans themselves didn’t seem to have suggested this at all, though they have been on the record for decades wanting such a meeting. […]

    […] the White House released this letter before informing the North Koreans of the decision. That was a bad, dangerous mistake. It seems, based on their initial response, that Trump had not consulted extensively and perhaps not at all with the South Koreans either. The South Korean government’s first response, as reported by Yonhap News Agency was that the President of South Korea would convene his top officials and was “trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and the exact meaning of it.”

    […] We often discuss how President Trump seems to see diplomacy in highly personal terms. Things depend on how he and the other man or woman get along personally. There’s his military, his diplomats, his cabinet secretaries. He has little sense that the US and other states may have foundational interests that trump any personal chemistry between the leaders. This letters suggests (unsurprisingly) that this feeling of personal investment is quite real, not only on the ‘positive’ side but on the negative side as well. He seems truly hurt and angry. “A wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me” … “that was a beautiful gesture” … “please do not hesitate to call me or write” … “We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant.” It’s not good to have a President who is this emotionally needy or one that conducts dangerous foreign policy on whims and ignorance. The entire thing is a ridiculous and embarrassing chapter in our history.

  50. says

    Steve Benen on Trump, quoted by Lynna above:

    It is a patriotism lacking in any depth.

    I’ll say! He colluded with an adversarial regime bent on our destruction to sabotage a national election! He’s using the presidency and US foreign policy to make money!

  51. says

    I feel sorry for Moon. I don’t think he misled Trump; I think Trump was in the midst of a wave of bad press about Stormy Daniels and saw asking Moon to rush out to announce this as a distraction, then got carried away by visions of success (as despots tend to do). Unlike Moon, he was never interested in or capable of doing the work, or organizing work to be done by others. I’m sure Moon won’t be giving up.

    In other news, MSNBC says Schiff managed to get into the first meeting, so that’s a relief.

  52. tomh says

    @ #59
    An interesting piece in the WaPo about the inherent racism in the new NFL policy.
    “This is an obvious violation of players’ First Amendment rights. And the issue is inescapably about race…As it happens, I testified on Capitol Hill this week in a House Oversight Committee hearing about freedom of speech on campuses. The hearing reminded me that conservatives only seem to be outraged about particular forms of speech suppression, usually when it involves their self-interests.”

  53. says

    SC @74, I too feel sorry for South Korean leaders. They have to work with Trump, and, as your Tweet o’ the day pointed out, Trump turns every endeavor into a goat rodeo.

    As for Adam Schiff getting into that first meeting, yay! Schiff is one brave and intelligent man.

    @76, Emmet Flood represented Trump in a meeting during which classified information related to an investigation of Trump and his cohorts was discussed. What the ever-loving fuck was that? How could Flood’s presence be justified in any legal or ethical sense? Flood would only be privy to that classified information if Trump had been indicted (and therefore Trump’s defense would have access to documents), and if Flood has a security clearance (don’t know about that).

  54. blf says

    The failed Trump-Kim summit: the story of a trainwreck foretold:

    Washington and Pyongyang were talking at cross purposes, and the debacle began and ended with gut decisions made by Trunp
    The debacle had been predicted by just about anyone with an experience of negotiating with North Korea, and experts who repeatedly warned that Washington and Pyongyang were talking at cross purposes.

    The whole episode began and ended with gut decisions made by Donald Trump with minimal reflection and consultation. It had its origins in a visit to Washington on 8 March by the South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, with a message from Kim Jong-un about his readiness to meet Trump to discuss denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

    Convinced that it had been his campaign of maximum pressure that had forced Kim to the table, Trump insisted on seizing the moment, and asked Chung to make an immediate statement to the press outside the White House.

    But it soon became apparent that Trump had no grasp of the North Korean interpretation of what “denuclearisation” meant. For Pyongyang it implies lengthy negotiations in which North Korea would be treated as an equal to the US, as a nuclear weapons power.

    Kim had extended the offer of talks only after declaring in January that his regime had successfully developed a credible deterrent, involving thermo-nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles to carry them. North Korea saw itself negotiating from a position of strength […]

    To Trump it meant unilateral disarmament.


    Between March and May, Trump is reported to have spent little time grappling with the details of how a negotiation might work, focusing instead on the pageantry of the occasion and the staged release of details for the press.

    In the vacuum, members of his administration went their own way. His new national security [sic] adviser, John Bolton, set out maximalist demands for an immediate surrender of North Korea’s nuclear warheads and related equipment, which were to be shipped out to the US.

    The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who met Kim face-to-face on two occasions, alternated between insistence on this all-in-one option and a more phased approach. […]

    Into this swirl, Bolton casually tossed a diplomatic grenade, telling a television interviewer that the US would use the Libyan model to approach North Korean disarmament. He had in mind Muammar Gaddafi’s agreement to dismantle and hand over the rudimentary and fledgling nuclear weapons programme at the end of 2003.

    To Pyongyang, mention of the Libyan model served as a reminder that eight years after giving up his programme, Gaddafi was overthrown and murdered. Trump and the vice-president, Mike Pence, deepened that impression by warning Kim he would face the same fate as Gaddafi if he did not make a deal.

    The threat drew predictable outrage from North Korea — which Trump presented as the reason for aborting for the summit. […]

    Not-mentioned is agreements are not, typically, hammered-out face-to-face, but involve a lot of work by experienced individuals, often lasting years. The dingleberries at the top then sign the paperwork in a blaze of publicity.

  55. says

    We may be overreacting concerning Emmet Flood’s presence at the meeting. Ditto for Kelly’s presence.

    From Nicholas Fandos:

    I am told by two officials that Emmet Flood and John Kelly joined the beginning of the meeting at DOJ about an FBI informant, and left after making some initial comments.

  56. says

    Nicole Wallace and Jake Tapper Call Trump a Liar, Set the Standard for the Rest of the MSM.

    “Wallace said:

    We will show you his outlandish claims made on the South Lawn of the White House. But instead of waiting until after you hear those remarks from the president to fact check them, we want to warn you in advance that his meandering comments include lies about the nature of the surveillance of his campaign as well as smears on the former FBI director Jim Comey. Also a key witness in the Mueller investigation. Attacking Comey, we understand, is the Trump legal team’s entire strategy for defending the president in the obstruction of justice investigation, which hinges, at least in part, on Comey’s firing. We also want to tell you his new bumper sticker spygate is also based on a lie. There is no evidence that anyone was spying on the Trump campaign. A counterintelligence investigation was underway.

    And for the president who still doesn’t seem to know what that means, let’s try this. The good guys, American law enforcement agencies, were closely watching the bad guys, American adversaries like the Russians. The reason Trump’s campaign is in the mix is because they ended up in close enough cahoots with Russians to raise suspicions. With those facts in mind, here’s the president’s performance today.”

    On Wednesday’s broadcast of “The Lead,” Tapper dissected Trump’s latest unsubstantiated “SPYGATE” claim that the FBI conducted surveillance on his 2016 election campaign for “political purposes.”

    As “we await the investigation into the matter,” said Tapper, it’s “worth remembering that while we’re sticking to the facts and telling you just what we know, President Trump apparently has no constraints since he simply makes stuff up.”

    “He frequently lies and has a long and well-documented career engaging in conspiracy theories about all manner of subjects with no concrete evidence ever provided,” Tapper added.
    The CNN host then listed just a fraction of the unproven conspiracy theories that Trump has touted:”

    Videos available at the link.

  57. says

    Choe Son Hui, a vice minister of foreign affairs, was quoted Thursday by the North’s state-run news agency slamming as “ignorant” and “stupid” comments Pence made in an interview with Fox News that compared the nuclear-capable North to Libya. Libya gave up its program at an early stage only to see its longtime dictator overthrown and brutally killed years later.


    Well, that’s accurate. In this case, Pence did display both ignorance and stupidity.

  58. blf says

    Flood would only be privy to that classified information if Trump had been indicted (and therefore Trump’s defense would have access to documents), and if Flood has a security clearance (don’t know about that).

    Not precisely, as “president” hair furor can legally disclose classified information:

    ● What Everyone Gets Wrong About Kushner’s Clearance Fiasco: “The president has the authority to share classified information with whomever he pleases, even if it’s the Russian foreign minister”.

    ● Jared Kushner: security clearance change ends direct access to top secret intelligence: “Trump has authority to share classified information as he sees fit”.

    However, as the first article points out, at least in theory the individual lacking the appropriate security clearance can only discuss the matter directly with the “president”.

  59. says

    Trudeau sounds like he is frustrated with Trump when it comes to discussing tariffs:

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday slammed President Trump for considering a slew of tariffs on automobile imports.

    “I am — even more than I was with steel and aluminum — trying to figure out where a possible national security connection is,” Trudeau told Reuters in an interview.

    “Taking that a step further into autos seems to me to be on even flimsier logical grounds.”

    The remarks from Trudeau come as the Trump administration is weighing implementing new tariffs on automobiles due to national security concerns. The president this week requested that the Commerce Department probe whether the U.S. can enact the levies. […]


    Yes, Trudeau is right, and he may be being too kind when he describes Trump’s decisions as being based on “flimsier logical grounds.”

  60. says

    Excerpts from a New York Times article:

    Mr. Trump suggested that the Chinese president had egged on the younger and less experienced Mr. Kim in taking a harder line, possibly to strengthen China’s own hand in trade talks with the United States.

    “There was a different attitude by the North Korean folks after that meeting,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday as he met with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, to discuss strategy toward the North. “I can’t say that I’m happy about it.”

    Mr. Trump also called Mr. Xi a “world-class poker player,” a backhanded compliment for a world leader whom Mr. Trump has called a friend and a partner in enforcing international sanctions on the North over its nuclear weapons program.

  61. says

    From the The Washington Post: “The letter Trump sent to Kim Jong Un canceling the summit, annotated.”

    Click on the highlighted text to view each annotation at the link. Example: for the text “a summit long sought by both parties,” this annotation is provided:

    Well, this is definitely true of one party. North Korean analysts say that Kim and past North Korean leaders have desperately wanted to be seen as equal to other countries on the world stage. A summit, no matter what comes out of it, with one of the world’s most powerful countries could accomplish that. U.S. presidents have been skeptical of agreeing to a meeting for that reason; no U.S. president has sat down with a North Korean leader. […]

    The presentation of the annotations is excellent. Both the technology and the content are well done.

  62. says

    We may be overreacting concerning Emmet Flood’s presence at the meeting. Ditto for Kelly’s presence.

    But why would they be involved in any way, even for just a portion of the meetings? They were claimed to be congressional oversight briefings. And now they’re not even trying to maintain the flimsiest pretense:

    RUDY tells @dsamuelsohn that today’s briefing will inform Trump’s legal defense: “We want to see how the briefing went to today and how much we learned from it.

    If we learned a good deal from it, it will shorten that whole process considerably.”

    Exactly what Dems feared.

    This is insane.

  63. says

    “Putin ally suggests Seychelles meeting with Erik Prince more than chance encounter over a beer”:

    The Russian fund manager involved in a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles Islands with Trump supporter Erik Prince has become the latest person to raise questions about Prince’s claim during Congressional testimony that the encounter was unplanned – merely a casual chance encounter “over a beer.”

    The Russian, a Putin ally named Kirill Dmitriev, declined when speaking with ABC News Thursday to confirm Prince’s account that the meeting was not arranged in advance. Instead, Dmitriev suggested he had wanted to meet with Prince in order to improve relations between the U.S and Russia.

    Dmitriev is an important figure in Russia. The RDIF that Dmitriev heads is a Russian sovereign wealth fund that manages state investment into key strategic projects and invests the country’s oil wealth for profit. The U.S. sanctioned RDIF in 2014 when it imposed sanctions on Russian entities over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. In April, the Financial Times reported that Dmitriev has ties to President Vladimir Putin’s family, reporting that his wife is close friends with Putin’s daughter.

    Last month, sources told ABC News Special Counsel Robert Mueller already obtained evidence calling into question Congressional testimony given Prince.

    Well-connected Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, a key witness given limited immunity by Mueller, has been interviewed seven times by prosecutors on a wide range of subjects. He told investigators that he set up a meeting in the Seychelles between Prince and Dmitriev mere days before Trump was inaugurated, sources familiar with the investigation said….

  64. says

    From Frank Aum, a former Defense Department expert on North Korea who is now at the U.S. Institute of Peace, (he spoke with a reporter for The New Yorker):

    It’s amazing that it got to this point. The summit was botched because of a bad game of telephone. On the one hand, it could be that both sides had sincere intentions, but because of poor communication and insensitivities it fell apart. The other interpretation is that both sides wanted it to fail and they’re trying to set each other up as being at fault.

  65. blf says

    Amnesty International confirms three of the detained women in Saudi Arabia have been released, Saudi authorities release three women’s rights activists:

    Authorities in Saudi Arabia have released three prominent women’s rights activists, Amnesty International said on Thursday.


    “We can confirm the release of Aisha al-Mana, Hessa al-Sheikh, and Madeha al-Ajroush, but we don’t know the conditions behind it,” said Samah Hadid, Middle East director of campaigns at Amnesty.

    “We call on Saudi authorities to release all other human rights defenders unconditionally and immediately.”

    There was no immediate comment from Saudi officials and the fate of other detained activists remains unclear.


    Rothna Begum, a women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera earlier this week the arrests seem to be related to the lifting of the women’s driving ban on June 24.

    “Again, these arrests are happening largely as a way to silence the critics of Mohammed bin Salman’s reform campaign, in particular because these women’s rights activists are demanding more than just the lifting of the driving ban.”

  66. says

    “Missile that downed MH17 ‘owned by Russian brigade”:

    A missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine in 2014 was fired from a launcher belonging to Russia’s 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade, investigators said Thursday.

    The announcement is the first time the investigative team has identified a specific division of the Russian military as possibly being involved in the strike. Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the incident.

    The Buk missile was fired from a farm near Pervomaisk, the Joint Investigation Team into the MH17 disaster told a news conference in the Netherlands.

    “At the time this area was under control of pro-Russian separatists,” said Fred Westerbeke, chief prosecutor of the National Prosecutor’s Office of the Netherlands. The Buk launcher of the 9M38 series “was transported from the territory of the Russian Federation and was returned to that territory of the Russian Federation afterwards.”

    Westerbeke highlighted how “this raises questions such as to whether the brigade was actively involved in downing MH17. It is an important question which the JIT are still investigating.”

    A total of 298 people from 17 countries died when the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was brought down in eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

    Russia rejected the accusations leveled at it by the investigation in a Defense Ministry statement carried by state media.

    “Not a single anti-aircraft missile system from Russia has ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border.”

    Families of the victims penned an open letter to “the Russian people” earlier this month, describing their ongoing grief and heartache over the incident and urging Moscow to bring those responsible to justice.

    “We appeal again for the Russian government to cooperate fully with the international investigation into MH17,” the letter in Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta read.

    “It will not bring our families back but the truth does matter, the truth does exist and we want those responsible for MH17 to be identified and held accountable.”

    The letter also accused Russian media of leading a “vile and deceitful campaign” over the incident through the broadcasting of “misinformation intended to distract and confuse, to create an alternative reality.”

    (It seems like there’s been a marked improvement in the quality of CNN online reports recently. Could just be my imagination.)

  67. says

    “Roger Stone Sought Information on Clinton from Assange, Emails Show”:

    Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone privately sought information he considered damaging to Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    The emails could raise new questions about Mr. Stone’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in September, in which he said he “merely wanted confirmation” from an acquaintance that Mr. Assange had information about Mrs. Clinton, according to a portion of the transcript that was made public.

    In a Sept. 18, 2016, message, Mr. Stone urged an acquaintance who knew Mr. Assange to ask the WikiLeaks founder for emails related to Mrs. Clinton’s alleged role in disrupting a purported Libyan peace deal in 2011 when she was secretary of state, referring to her by her initials.

    Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the emails hadn’t been provided to congressional investigators.

    “If there is such a document, then it would mean that his testimony was either deliberately incomplete or deliberately false,” said Mr. Schiff, who has continued to request documents and conduct interviews with witnesses despite the committee’s probe concluding earlier this year.

    A lawyer for Mr. Stone, Grant Smith, said the emails hadn’t been turned over to House investigators because they were “not encompassed within the scope of the committee’s request.” Mr. Stone said the emails were preserved at the request of the Senate, which is also conducting a Russian interference probe, but Mr. Smith said they hadn’t yet been turned over to investigators there.

    As Mr. Credico has become more vocal about what he says are discrepancies in Mr. Stone’s account, Mr. Stone has responded with a series of threats, according to emails and text messages reviewed by the Journal.

    In early April, in one of those emails, Mr. Stone accused Mr. Credico of serving as an informant.

    “Everyone says u are wearing a wire for Mueller,” the April 7 email said. Two days later, Mr. Stone wrote: “Run your mouth = get sued.” Mr. Credico denies being an informant.

    Mr. Stone said he was warning Mr. Credico against defaming him and urging him to “simply tell the truth.”

  68. Oggie. says

    From Lynna’s quote in 81:

    A counterintelligence investigation was underway.

    Okay. Contest time. Can anyone come up with a better summation of Donald Trump, this generation of the GOP, the campaign, and Trump’s administration that Counterintelligence?

    From SC @94:

    Nothing we have heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols

    And the Faux News edited version will be:

    Nothing we, as traitors to the One True American President Trump, have heard today has changed our view that there is evidence to support allegations that the FBI and other intelligence agencies placed a spy in the Trump campaign and otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols

    And what Trump heard is:

    Because we love witchhunts and undermining the votes of a vast majority of real Americans, we have heard nothing that has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols despite overwhelming evidence that Hillary spied on our campaign.

  69. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC#94, well DUH. Except, I would hope Schiff sometime in my, lifetime decides to run for higher office. Every time I see him on TV, his honor, integrity, and concern for the truth seems to shine.

  70. says

    Surprise, surprise! (/sarcasm) CBO: Trump’s Budget Plan Won’t Curb Spiraling Deficit As Promised

    The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that […] Trump’s budget plan won’t curb the spiraling deficit as it claims.

    Trump’s budget, released in February and mostly ignored since, promises spending cuts and economic growth that would cut the deficit to $363 billion in 10 years. CBO said it would instead hit almost $1.1 trillion if all of the president’s policies were followed.

    All told, CBO said Trump’s budget would produce deficits of $9.5 trillion over the coming decade instead of the $7.2 trillion promised by the White House.

    CBO took a more cautious approach to estimating tax revenues and economic growth. It rejected Trump administration claims that last year’s $2 trillion-plus tax cut measure will pay for itself by boosting the economy.

    Either way, deficits are likely to go even higher. Congress has passed legislation — signed by Trump — that rejected many of the proposed spending cuts in Trump’s budget. […]

    “The CBO confirmed today that the Trump budget would make drastic cuts to programs that millions of Americans rely on, while the Republican tax breaks for millionaires and corporations send our deficit soaring,” said top House Budget Committee Democrat John Yarmuth of Kentucky. […]

  71. says

    Team Trump has caused another career professional to jump ship (resign) out of frustration:

    The director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons resigned last week over what the New York Times said was his frustration with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House adviser Jared Kushner’s violations of “departmental norms.”

    The Times, citing three unnamed people “with knowledge of the situation” said former FBP Director Mark Inch, who left that position after just nine months on the job, also complained of being excluded from major management decisions.

    Portraying Sessions and Kushner as two sides of the Republican spectrum on prison policy — Sessions leaning far to the right and Kushner advocating for limited reforms centered on incentivizing rehabilitation post-sentencing — the Times said Inch “tried to navigate a middle course.” […]

    TPM Link

    New York Times link

    Mark Inch does not seem to be much of a reformer or manager, so if there is a silver lining it is that the man who resigned wasn’t very effective in the federal prison job. Inch was General Inch previously.

  72. says

    New reporting on Trump’s twisted thinking before cancelling the summit with North Korea:

    […] Trump reportedly worried that North Korea could pull the plug on a planned summit with the country’s leader Kim Jong Un, and decided to cancel the meeting on Thursday before Kim got the chance. […]

    Yeah, that sounds right. So petty.

    […] The decision was abrupt. Trump did not give a heads up to congressional leaders or key allies, […] It was only after a series of phone calls between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Thursday that Trump was sold on the decision to back out.

    The White House released Trump’s letter to Kim announcing his decision at 9:42 a.m.

    The New York Times reported over the weekend that Trump had privately pressed aides and allies about whether he should back out of the meeting, or risk possible political embarrassment if he went through with the summit. […]


  73. says

    “‘We’re closed!’: Trump vents his anger over immigration at Homeland Security secretary”:

    …As illegal crossings are once more on the rise and Trump hears a cascade of criticism from conservative allies, Nielsen finds herself on the receiving end of the president’s visceral anger about immigration, seeing the issue as the reason he won in 2016 and a key to his politicking ahead of the midterm elections.

    Nielsen brings a lawyerly, technocratic approach to an issue that animates the president like no other, with a passion dyed into the blood-red MAGA caps of his supporters.

    The night before Trump delivered his first speech to Congress in February 2017, he huddled with Jared Kushner and Miller in the Oval Office to talk immigration. The president reluctantly agreed with suggestions he strike a gentler tone on immigration in the speech.

    Trump reminded them the crowds loved his rhetoric on immigrants along the campaign trail. Acting as if he was at a rally, he then read aloud a few made up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, like rape or murder. Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country — as they did when he highlighted crimes by illegal immigrants at his rallies, according to a person present for the exchange and another briefed on it later. Miller and Kushner laughed.

    Now, five months into her tenure as Homeland Security secretary, the measures Nielsen has implemented — separating families, boosting arrests, increasing prosecutions — have made her a villain to many Democrats and immigrant rights’ groups.

    But they have not delivered the immediate results the president demands….

    In fact, Trump has grown more agitated when she has tried on several occasions to describe why she cannot do what he wants — and what laws and budget mandates might prevent it.

    When President Trump’s advisers were writing a report on terrorism earlier this year, Miller had a suggestion. Language saying that children of foreign-born nationalists were more likely than non-foreign born nationals to commit acts of terrorism should be inserted into the report and the accompanying press materials, according to three people with knowledge of his wishes.

    But Miller’s move was opposed by Nielsen and her top aides, these people said. They said such language was not substantiated in fact and that a report wouldn’t go out from her agency claiming such.

    As Trump harangued Nielsen for more than 30 minutes in front of the Cabinet this month, other aides grimaced and fidgeted. Nothing she said seemed to calm the president, according to people familiar with the meeting.

    “We’re closed!” Trump yelled at one point, referring to the border.

    This time, Kelly did not leap to her defense.

    “Federal Agencies Lost Track of Nearly 1,500 Migrant Children Placed With Sponsors”: “A top official with the Department of Health and Human Services told members of Congress on Thursday that the agency had lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children it placed with sponsors in the United States, raising concerns they could end up in the hands of human traffickers or be used as laborers by people posing as relatives.” (from April)

    “Parents, children ensnared in ‘zero-tolerance’ border prosecutions.”

    “Immigrant families separated at border struggle to find each other.”

  74. says

    “Assange’s refuge in Ecuadorian embassy ‘in jeopardy'”:

    Julian Assange’s nearly six-year refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London is in danger, opening the WikiLeaks founder to arrest by British authorities and potential extradition to the US, multiple sources with knowledge tell CNN.

    While Assange has in the past claimed his position in the embassy was under threat, sources say his current situation is “unusually bad” and that he could leave the embassy “any day now,” either because he will be forced out or made to feel so restricted that he might choose to leave on his own. His position there is “in jeopardy,” one source familiar with the matter said.

    Assange’s exit from the embassy could open a new phase for US investigators eager to find out what he knows….

  75. says

    “James Clapper’s bombshell: Russia swung the election. What if he’s right?”:

    …We probably will never know whether Russia’s interference — whose tip we only glimpsed in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals for their sabotage plot — was sufficient to swing the election. The result had many causes. But allow me to point out that journalists regularly suggest, on an even flimsier basis, that this or that Hillary Clinton failing caused the outcome. Yet even asking whether Russian interference — or, say, James B. Comey’s 11th-hour intervention — might have been sufficient to swing a relative handful of votes is regularly greeted with knee-slapping ridicule, even though, as Brian Beutler has noted, every journalist knows that it is absolutely plausible.

    But this Clapper claim has relevance well beyond whether Russian interference was decisive. It places the ongoing efforts by Trump and his allies to frustrate an accounting of what happened in a whole new light.

    The key point is this. Even if you put aside whatever the Trump campaign did or didn’t do to conspire with Russian sabotage, what’s left is this obvious fact: Trump and his GOP allies don’t want to know the full story of what Russia’s operation entailed in and of itself, because it doesn’t concern them in the least, and indeed they are engaged in an active effort to keep that story suppressed.

    It keeps getting lost in the discussion, but one of the charges of both Mueller’s investigation and the probes run out of Congress has been to determine the full truth about the Russian effort separate and irrespective of whether there was any Trump campaign collusion with it….

    Brian Beutler: “Republicans aren’t just helping Trump cover up his own wrongdoing—they are helping to cover up Russian wrongdoing, because if the full extent of it is known, it will call Trump’s legitimacy, and the legitimacy of their majorities, into question.”

  76. says

    “Top House Democrat Requests Probe Into How FBI Source’s Name Was Leaked”:

    A top congressional Democrat is urging the Justice Department and the FBI to launch a criminal investigation into how a confidential informant’s name made its way into media coverage.

    Rep. Jerrold Nadler, of New York, said he was “deeply disturbed” after the identity of an FBI source who met with Donald Trump’s campaign officials in 2016 to gather intelligence on Russian election interference was later conveyed to reporters.

    Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, pointed out that the intentional disclosure of the identity of a covert agent is a crime under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. And, he said, the leak could violate other laws and guidelines designed to protect confidential sources.

    “His exposure is unacceptable,” Nadler wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray late Thursday. “It is a breach of the duty we owe to these men and women, who serve our country at great risk and trust us to protect their identities.”

    The demand for a criminal investigation into the outing of a confidential government source could echo loudly in Washington….

  77. says

    “At Trump Tower, Michael Cohen and Oligarch Discussed Russian Relations”:

    Eleven days before the presidential inauguration last year, a billionaire Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet with Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, according to video footage and another person who attended the meeting.

    In Mr. Cohen’s office on the 26th floor, he and the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, discussed a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump, according to Andrew Intrater, an American businessman who attended the meeting and invests money for Mr. Vekselberg. The men also arranged to see one another at the inauguration, the second of their three meetings, Mr. Intrater said.

    Days after the inauguration, Mr. Intrater’s private equity firm, Columbus Nova, awarded Mr. Cohen a $1 million consulting contract, a deal that has drawn the attention of federal authorities investigating Mr. Cohen, according to people briefed on the inquiry….

  78. says

    “George Conway’s Tweets Raise West Wing Eyebrows”:

    …Over the past year,…since Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department, George Conway has become a man in turmoil. A serious, conservative attorney who believes in the rule of law, he has been torn, people who know him say, between the loyalty he feels toward his wife and an assault on his profession and his ideals that he did not anticipate when he cheered on election night—delivered by her boss.

    But friends and professional acquaintances say Conway’s tweets are just the tip of an iceberg of frustration with Trump that has only grown over the past year. While Conway has always been known as a contrarian, however, some friends have been surprised and disappointed by the public airing of anti-Trump sentiment from a man who is known to value discretion.

    On some occasions, Conway has even gone outside the boundaries of Twitter when he couldn’t contain his apparent grievance any longer.

    “Drivel,” he told Reuters in an interview last week, referring to Rudy Giuliani’s assertion that the president cannot be the subject of a subpoena. He has also emailed people who have written things critical of Trump and quietly suggested improvements in their arguments, according to people who have received his unsolicited two cents.

    But in conservative legal circles, his tweets are reverberating in a way that has not much at all to do with his wife. There, George Conway is seen as rebuking the silence of his fellow Federalist Society members—the elite, conservative lawyers who have generally chosen to give Trump a pass on his breaches of long-cherished legal norms and traditions in exchange for the gift of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

    By keeping its collective mouth shut, the Federalist Society—a nationwide network of conservative lawyers with its power base in D.C.—has amassed huge influence in the Trump administration, essentially hand-selecting not only Gorsuch but recruiting ultraconservative judges to fill vacancies on appellate courts on down. It’s a status the organization does not want to jeopardize through rash tweets or the signing of petitions that might make one feel good on issues that matter less to them than a complete reorientation of the federal bench.

    The executive vice president of the Federalist Society, Leonard Leo, has called around to prominent lawyers and funders in town, warning them not to get on the wrong side of the Trump administration, according to a source who was briefed on the calls. After all, Leo expects to play a lead role in at least one more Supreme Court pick during Trump’s tenure. (Leo did not return calls for comment.)

    At times, the society has even broken with the mainstream of the conservative legal establishment in its effort to stand with the administration. On Friday, for instance, the Federalist Society is hosting a call “examining the legality of the Mueller Investigation.” The featured speaker is Steven Calabresi, a law professor and co-founder of the organization who has argued that Mueller’s probe is unconstitutional. Calabresi also happens to be a friend of Conway’s—it’s a small, Federalist Society world, after all….

    People like this brought Hitler to power.

  79. says

    Trump wasted taxpayer money sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border:

    A month after President Trump called for sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, the head of the national Border Patrol union called the deployment “a colossal waste of resources.”

    “We have seen no benefit,” said Brandon Judd, president of the union that represents 15,000 agents, the National Border Patrol Council.

    The criticism is a dramatic departure for the group, which endorsed Trump’s candidacy for president and has praised his border security efforts, including National Guard deployments.


    From Kevin Drum, writing for Mother Jones:

    This is yet another example of Trump talking big but accomplishing little because he has no idea what the issues really are and what kind of actions to order. He just tweets out a command to deploy the National Guard to the border, basks in the applause, and then assumes everything will just work out.

    “On the Border, Trump is Both Cruel and Incompetent”

    From Steve Benen:

    Trump’s actions and decisions aren’t governing in any meaningful sense. He starts by making false assumptions based on dubious reports he learns from conservative media – the president is convinced there’s a border crisis, reality be damned – and then tries to think of “solutions” that will impress his rabid base.

    In this case, that meant deploying thousands of National Guard troops.

    What would the troops do? Trump didn’t know. How would they help? He didn’t know that, either. What specific policy would be they be implementing? […]

    Why pretend there’s a border crisis while simultaneously bragging about the historically low number of illegal border crossings? Because Trump isn’t familiar with cognitive dissonance, either.

    “We generally support the administration,” the National Border Patrol Council’s Brandon Judd added, “but we’re not going to be cheerleading when things are not going well.”

  80. says

    Now that we know “Spygate” has fizzled, deflated, slunk away whimpering, died — what’s next? You know that Republicans and Trump will come up with a new conspiracy theory soon. Here’s a summary of their recent (since Trump won the election, that recent) efforts:

    * Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. (He didn’t.)

    * There were improper unmaskings. (There weren’t.)

    * The FISA warrants related to Carter Page were improper. (They weren’t).

    * It was Democrats who actually colluded with Russia. (They didn’t.)

    * Conspiring FBI officials may be guilty of “treason.” (They aren’t.)

    * “Uranium One” is a real scandal. (It isn’t.)

    * Senate Intelligence Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) had improper communications with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch. (He didn’t.)

    * Every member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is a rabid Democratic partisan. (Mueller is a Republican.)

    * Law enforcement officials ”infiltrated” the Trump campaign, “implanting” a “spy” in the Republican operation. (They didn’t.)


    You would think that Republicans would learn to base their conspiracy theories on facts, (no matter how weak), so that their conspiracy theories would last a little longer.

  81. says

    Follow-up to SC @105.

    From former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s book:

    Of course, the Russian effort affected the outcome. Surprising even themselves, they swung the election to a Trump win. To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense, and credulity to the breaking point.

    Less than eighty thousand votes in three key states swung the election. I have no doubt that more votes than that were influenced by this massive effort by the Russians.

    From Rachel Maddow:

    The current president of the United States was only installed in office because of a successful Russian intelligence operation.

    Russian efforts on social media alone reached about 126 million people in the U.S.A. There were only about 139 million votes cast in the 2016 election. In addition, as Clapper also noted, the Russians focused additional efforts on states like Wisconsin. They swung the election … barely.

    In the final count, Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote of the 2016 presidential election was nearly three million votes. According to the independent, non-partisan Cook Political Report, Clinton’s final tally came in at 65,844,610, compared to Donald Trump’s 62,979,636, with a difference of 2,864,974.

  82. says

    Republican senator gives up the game, claims debunking Trump’s lies is leak of ‘classified info’

    Following Thursday’s meetings about documents related to the ongoing criminal investigation of the Trump campaign — ones where Trump’s lawyer and chief of staff made highly unusual appearances — House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff (D-CA) released a statement saying no evidence was presented supporting President Trump’s assertions about FBI spies being embedded in his campaign. […]

    A short time later, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) accidentally gave away the cynical game Trump’s Republican supporters are playing. In a tweet, Cornyn accused Schiff of leaking classified information by attempting to debunk Trump’s lies.

    “Isn’t this a leak of classified information?” Cornyn wrote, in response to Schiff’s statement. […]

    Cornyn’s tweets give a window into one possible end game of Trump’s fake “spygate” scandal. Trump has falsified quotes and made baseless accusations in an effort to get people to believe that James Comey’s FBI planted spies in his campaign. While the president has provided no evidence that there’s any merit to his accusations, Fox News has amplified them as though they are facts, while the president’s Republican allies in Congress refuse to rebuke the president by correcting the record. Trump then repeats his lies in hopes of giving them more credibility. […]

  83. says

    Team Trump scrapped another Obama-era rule that helped to reduce segregation in housing, that helped to enforce fairness:

    […] The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule was created by the Obama administration to help enforce the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which sought to combat the racial segregation of neighborhoods. […]

    HUD on Wednesday got rid of a key component of the Obama-era rule: the comprehensive and uniform assessment tool cities and towns needed to complete that described how housing segregation persisted in their communities and how they planned to address it.

    The assessment tool “was having a transformative positive effect in communities across the country,” said Thomas Silverstein, counsel in the Fair Housing & Community Development Project at the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Laws, one of the groups involved in the lawsuit. […]


  84. says

    Chris Hayes on the story @ #101: “Nielsen gets zero reputational points for this, IMHO. She’s complicit in every last thing they’re doing.”

    Couldn’t agree more. You don’t get points for…not being Stephen Miller, especially when you’re the one implementing the policies.

  85. says

    Follow-up to comment 111.

    Trump is not convinced that spygate has withered and died:

    The Democrats are now alluding to the the [sic] concept that having an Informant placed in an opposing party’s campaign is different than having a Spy, as illegal as that may be. But what about an ‘Informant’ who is paid a fortune and who ‘sets up’ way earlier than the Russian Hoax?

    Can anyone even imagine having Spies placed in a competing campaign, by the people and party in absolute power, for the sole purpose of political advantage and gain? And to think that the party in question, even with the expenditure of far more money, LOST!

  86. says

    Another shooting at a school:

    Two people were injured after a gunman opened fire at a middle school in suburban Indianapolis, authorities said Friday.

    Police have not yet publicly identified the alleged shooter, but said the suspect has been taken into custody.

    Vice President Mike Pence, who was previously governor of Indiana, tweeted that he and his wife are “praying for the victims of the terrible shooting in Indiana.” […]


  87. says

    Update to #396 on the previous iteration – “Report: Billionaire Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich becoming Israeli”:

    Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire businessman and owner of the soccer team Chelsea FC, immigrated to Israel on Thursday, according to Israel Hayom.

    Abramovich’s decision to immigrate to Israel comes amid the recent expiration of the businessman’s work visa in Britain, which may have prompted him to move to Israel with the other owners of the club.

    Following the Sergei Skripal incident, in which a Russian military intelligence officer who acted as a double agent for UK’s intelligence services was poisoned with a nerve agent, tensions have risen between the United Kingdom and Russia.

    Abramovich’s stay in Britain came to a close when his work visa expired and the authorities would not renew his visa, causing the owner of Chelsea to miss his team’s FA Cup final victory over Manchester United on Saturday night….

  88. says

    From Zack Beauchamp, writing for Vox:

    […] Trump claims to have uncovered one of the biggest spying scandals in American history — and that the FBI, not Russia, is the culprit.

    His allegation centers on a retired university professor in Britain named Stefan Halper. Halper, an American who taught for years at Cambridge University in the UK, has been outed in the press as a secret FBI “informant” who met with several Trump campaign advisers in mid-2016 at the bureau’s behest. The goal of these meetings was allegedly to assess whether there were any real links between the Trump campaign and Russia, enough to fuel a wider investigation. […]

    […] legal experts say that Halper’s work was most likely part of a legitimate counterintelligence operation targeted at Russia’s election interference campaign and not any kind of political attack on Trump. Barbara McQuade, a former US district attorney, told Vox that the notion that the FBI was fishing for some kind of dirt on Trump is “baseless.”

    The scandal here isn’t that Trump was “spied on.” It’s that the FBI’s legitimate investigation into Russia is becoming a cudgel for the president to attack the Justice Department publicly and undermine its independence.

    Stefan Halper is an interesting man, someone who has long had one foot in Republican politics and the other in the intelligence community. He worked for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford on domestic policy, and then served as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration, focusing on the intersection of military affairs and politics. […]

    on July 31, about three weeks after Halper and Page first met, the FBI began a counterintelligence investigation into Russian efforts to infiltrate the Trump campaign and alter the outcome of the 2016 election. As part of this investigation, they asked Halper to reach out to two Trump advisers — Page and George Papadopoulos — to see what he could learn about connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    [clipped details of Halper’s interactions with Papadopolus, Clovis, and Page.]

    There is no evidence so far that Halper attempted to join the Trump campaign and act as a double agent; nor is there evidence that he conducted any kind of illegal snooping on Page or Papadopoulos. […]

    […] it’s not clear how significant a part of the Russia investigation this was — or how the president could justify his claim that this is “one of the biggest political scandals in history.” […]

    So where do Trump’s misconceptions come from? They appear to originate with a May 12 article written by National Review legal analyst Andrew McCarthy, who appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss his theory just before Trump tweeted about the Halper case for the first time […]

    In his article, McCarthy flatly asserts that “the FBI had a ‘human source’ — i.e., a spy — inside the Trump campaign as the 2016 presidential race headed into its stretch run.” In his Fox & Friends appearance, McCarthy amped this up, […]

    On Fox, McCarthy also spun this into a tale of politically motivated persecution of Trump. […]

    McCarthy says the entire counterintelligence investigation into Russia was a scam, a front for what the FBI really wanted to do: launch a criminal investigation into Donald Trump. “They didn’t have a criminal predicate to investigate the people in the Trump campaign they did. They used their counterintelligence powers as a pretext to investigate the Trump campaign in hope of making a criminal case,” he said on Fox.

    McCarthy’s assertion about a spy “in the campaign” is clearly incorrect; Halper was never part of the Trump campaign. What’s more, independent experts find his overarching legal theory — that the counterintelligence investigation was a front for a “witch hunt” targeting Trump — dubious.

    […] The FBI had reason to believe that Russia, a hostile state, had launched an intelligence operation aimed at altering the outcome of the US election. They also had evidence that part of Russia’s campaign involved reaching out to certain members of the Trump campaign at the time of Halper’s actions. […]

    “The FBI has a duty to conduct counterintelligence investigations, [and] investigations usually involve foreign governments and agents of foreign governments,” McQuade, the other former federal prosecutor, explains. “If the FBI believed that Russia was trying to recruit campaign staffers, they had a duty to investigate that.”

    Much more at the link.

  89. says

    From Wonkette: “FBI Sucker Punches Russian Hackers, Steals Their Lunch Money, And Follows Them Home”

    Yesterday the DOJ announced that the FBI had taken control of a major server in a Kremlin-linked Russian botnet that has infected 500,000 home and office routers in 54 countries. Computer nerds and authorities believe this to be one of the missing pieces in the 2016 DNC hacking puzzle, and are urging people to reset both their home and office routers. […]

    More at the link.

  90. says

    Devin Nunes finds that shilling for Donald Trump is paying off — literally

    […] Nunes managed to raise roughly $2.5 million over the last six weeks for his re-election campaign this year, according to the Washington Examiner. Overall Nunes has raised $5 million, including $1.25 million raised in the first fiscal quarter of 2018, more than he raised in all of 2017.

    Most of the money is raised outside California’s 22nd congressional district — an unglamorous agricultural region in the state’s Central Valley — from Republicans around the country who have become aware of Nunes thanks to his high-profile role in defending Trump and attempting to discredit the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. […]

  91. blf says

    Who knew diplomacy with North Korea was so hard?:

    Trump’s cancelation of the summit meeting with North Korea reaffirms that the president and his team don’t have a strategy
    Just as soon as North Korea began playing hardball, Donald Trump took his toys and went home. Who knew dealing with North Korea was so hard? Well, just about everybody. Everybody except Trump, that is.


    In response to US threats of regime change if diplomacy failed, North Korea returned to its usual heated rhetoric, singling out Vice-President Mike Pence and the national security adviser, John Bolton, for criticism. But these statements were likely part of the negotiations — in addition to the boilerplate criticism, North Korea also explicitly reaffirmed Pyongyang’s commitment to dialogue. This was North Korea’s opening position.

    And yet, Trump and his advisers responded by cancelling the summit. Why? The North Koreans, South Koreans and many Trump advisers are likely scratching their heads along with the rest of us. When the going gets tough, apparently Trump runs away.


    It’s possible that the Trump team views cancellation as a negotiating tactic — Trump and Pompeo have both said talks are still possible. But a more likely explanation is that Trump is thin-skinned, and the repeated insults from North Korea offended Trump and were used by US officials who were skeptical of the diplomacy to torpedo it. Reports indicating that this decision happened very quickly — with no prior notification of allies — suggest that, once again, Trump was winging it.


    If Trump is still interested in diplomacy […] then Trump just made his task a lot harder. South Korea was not notified about the decision — they will be angry, and rightly so. And the world will see Trump as the one who stopped the talks, not Kim. Unfortunately for the United States, Kim now holds more cards than he did when the diplomacy began and he knows it — sure enough, North Korea’s first response was to take the high ground and say they’re ready to talk any time[].

    There very well may still be a path forward, but only if the Trump administration recognizes that a quick denuclearization process is a fantasy — and if they are willing to give diplomacy time to work. […]

    What this opinion / analysis doesn’t mention is Bolton — who’s never started a war he doesn’t like — at the very least, will have to be ejected or otherwise become not-relevant.

    The authour, Michael H Fuchs, is “a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs”.

      † Put in eejit quotes simply because it’s N.Korea, who seems to have the same poor relationship with accuracy and facts as hair furor and his dalekocracy.

  92. says

    “Voters cast ballots in landmark Irish abortion referendum”:

    Voters in Ireland are casting their ballots in a landmark referendum to decide whether to remove a constitutional amendment that bans abortion in almost all circumstances.

    Some 6,500 polling stations across 40 constituencies in the republic opened at 7 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). An electorate of around 3.2 million are eligible to cast their ballots, including thousands of Irish people living overseas who have flown home to vote.

    If the Yes campaign wins, Irish lawmakers are expected to enact legislation allowing for terminations in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy — and later in cases where there is a risk to the mother’s [sic] life or the fetus is not expected to survive.

    A No vote would keep Ireland’s abortion laws — some of the strictest in the developed world — in place.

  93. says

    Addendum to #127: “…Polls will close at 5 p.m. ET (10 p.m. local) on Friday. Counting of ballots will get underway on Saturday, with a result expected by mid-afternoon.”

  94. blf says

    More on @122: I’ve just read the Cisco Talos Intelligence group report, New VPNFilter malware targets at least 500K networking devices worldwide, and want to emphasize this is VERY SERIOUS problem: You should, at the least, immediately reboot your router. If you have been hacked, that won’t remove the malware, but it will, at least temporarily, neutralise it. In addition, change your router (e.g., WiFi) passwords — after rebooting.

    A firmware “factory settings” full reset should remove the malware (if you have been hacked), but you’ll loose all your custom router settings. It’s extremely hard for non-experts to determine whether or not their router has been hacked, so unless you know precisely what you are doing (quick test: Do you understand essentially all the technical details in the Cisco Talos Intelligence group report?), I Very Strongly Recommend presuming you have been hacked and (at teh least) rebooting the router.

    (In part due to concerns over things like this — which I was not previously aware of — I normally keep my router off, meaning it’s rebooted (usually) several times a day. )

  95. says

    Richard Engel: “How, and why, did Black Cube, the private Israeli intelligence company that targeted Weinstein’s accusers, also target former Obama officials and their families? Tune in tonight 9pm EST @MSNBC.”

    Don’t know if he’s learned who hired/paid them.

  96. says

    “Trump says the first lady is ‘doing great.’ She hasn’t been seen in public for two weeks.”:

    First lady Melania Trump, who spent five nights in the hospital following a kidney procedure, has been out of public view for 15 days running — an unusually long absence even for a first lady who relishes life outside the spotlight.

    The first lady was last seen on May 10 standing alongside her husband at Joint Base Andrews as the couple greeted three Americans who had been released from prison in North Korea. On May 14, the White House announced that she had undergone a successful embolization procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to treat a benign kidney condition.

    Although medical experts have said the kind of procedure the first lady had typically requires only a night’s hospitalization, White House and East Wing aides have said nothing more about her condition and instead asked for privacy.

    This week her office did not say when she planned to resume public events but said she had been holding meetings with her staff. “We’ve had several internal staff meetings in the past week around a variety of topics, including her initiatives,” Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman, said in an email.

    Still there is an air of mystery. Friday morning, a reporter shouted a question to the president about a his wife’s whereabouts as he prepared to board Marine One to attend the Naval Academy commencement.

    According to a pool report, President Trump responded by pointing to a window in the White House residence, and said: “She’s doing great. She’s looking at us right there.”

    Reporters turned to look at the spot he indicated, but there was no sign of the first lady.

    There are few other clues about her movements….

  97. KG says

    Exite polls indicate a 2/3 majority for repeal of the 8th amendment in Ireland!. The head of one of the leading forced-birth campaigns has conceded defeat. Looks like a huge advance for the women of Ireland, and a crushing defeat for the Catholic Church and other forces of reaction. If the result is confirmed, the huge majority will put pressure on politicians to improve the terms of the planned legislation, which would remain restrictive relative to most countries – it allows abortion “for any reason” only up to 12 weeks, or in very limited circumstances up to 20 weeks.

  98. says

    SC @132

    Richard Engel: “How, and why, did Black Cube, the private Israeli intelligence company that targeted Weinstein’s accusers, also target former Obama officials and their families? Tune in tonight 9pm EST @MSNBC.”
    Don’t know if he’s learned who hired/paid them.

    That was a great episode. Richard Engel is getting better at this.

    Engel interviewed two insiders, one of them told him that Black Cube was hired, “with a wink and a nod,” by the “Trump camp” to look for dirt on former Obama officials. It was also noted that “You’ll never their [Trump’s] name on a contract. That’s not how it’s done.” For example, Black Cube did the work for Weinstein according to a contract signed by one of Weinstein’s lawyers.

    In another section of Engel’s program, he highlighted the fact that Netanyahu’s giant Power-Point-like presentation of “Iran Lied” excuses to go to war against Iran was not done to push Trump to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. On the contrary, Trump had already decided to pull out of the deal, and then team Trump and Netanyahu (with Mossad’s help), concocted the Power Point show to make it look like new information on which Trump could rely as an excuse. The post-Power-Point airstrikes by Israeli planes of Iranian targets in Syria were also part of the coordinated effort.

    As most of us will remember, Netanyahu did not present new information. He presented info about Iran’s past efforts to develop their nuclear capability, and that they had tried to hide those efforts. Everybody knew that. U.S. Intelligence services knew that. Obama and his team knew that when they negotiated the Iran nuclear deal. Extra safeguards and inspection demands were included in the deal precisely because it was known that Iran had been sneaky in the past.

    Netanyahu had Mossad spirit a bunch of files, computerized storage devices, etc. out of Tehran just so he would have props that looked fresh for his deceptive Power Point presentation. Trump did indeed point to that deceptive presentation when he announced that the U.S. was pulling out of the deal.

    Trump’s real reason, according to one of the men Engel interviewed, was to dismantle one of Obama’s achievements, and to satisfy Trump’s base. Apparently, Trump doesn’t even understand the deal that he blew up


  99. says

    Oh, FFS.

    […] A team of nearly three dozen Arizona educators worked on new science standards for the state — the first update in almost 15 years — which were presented to the Arizona Board of Education. But when their draft was released in March, the teachers were not pleased to see the words “evolution” and “evolve” crossed out.

    The report noted an event in the fall in which the Republican state school superintendent said she “absolutely” supports public schools teaching a form of creationism “along with the theory of evolution.” According to the recording obtained KVOA, Douglas added at the time, “I had a discussion with my staff, because we’re currently working on science standards, to make sure this issue was addressed in the standards we’re working on.”

    The state Board of Education will reportedly vote on the proposed science standards next month. Local officials should probably realize that related efforts in other states have always been tested in the courts — and have always been defeated. […]


  100. says

    Joy Reid discussed the fact that “North Korea and South Korea leaders just met at the DMZ despite Donald Trump cancelling a summit with North Korea at the last minute. Joy Reid and her panel discuss why peace between North Korea and South Korea would be positive for the world.” Malcom Nance in on the panel. The video is 15:44 minutes long.

    John Bolton is looking bad. Mike Pence is looking bad. Trump is looking bad. The leader of South Korea is looking good.

    From the Washington Post:

    Bolton advised that the threatening language [from North Korean] was a very bad sign, and the president told advisers he was concerned Kim was maneuvering to back out of the summit and make Americans look like desperate suitors.

  101. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Another AM Joy link. While there may be a religious tone, the concept of helping the poor made me post. We should be remind our “public servants” that it is their first priority.

  102. says

    Thanks, Nerd @140. I too thought the attention on helping the poor outweighed the religious aspects of that segment. A good policy discussion was also included.

    In other news, a grocery store chain in the southeastern portion of the USA has suspended all of their political donations, including most notably donations to the National Rifle Association, and donations to conservatives politicians who support the NRA.

    […] The announcement came just before survivors of the February gun massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School led a “die-in” protest at two Publix locations near the school, an attempt to pressure the company to end its financial support for Adam Putnam, an NRA-friendly Republican primary candidate for Florida’s governorship. […]


    The students held their “die-in” protest in the aisles of the grocery store anyway.

    From Representative Ron DeSantis (obnoxious dunderhead):

    I can’t understand why Publix would cave to such misguided and unfair complaints. The protests against Publix are ridiculous — who the heck wants people laying down in a supermarket? Shopping won’t be a pleasure if left-wing agitators get their way. I’ll always stand up for #2A!

  103. says

    Giuliani continues to wage his propaganda war for Trump:

    […] Giuliani admitted that […] Trump and his legal team’s assertions about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe are meant to the muddy the waters about the probe and sway the public’s opinion of it.

    Giuliani also repeated his assertion that Mueller’s entire probe was “illegitimate” due to the FBI’s reported use of an informant to contact members of Trump’s campaign in — though the President has shown no evidence of wrongdoing by the FBI […]

    [CNN’s Dana Bash said] “Is it fair to say that you and the President have a very specific, very political strategy to undermine this investigation, and it appears to be working.”

    “No, it’s not a strategy to undermine it, they’re doing it,” Giuliani said, before referencing a story that he and the President have talked up endlessly this month. “How did I know about ‘Spygate?’”

    […] Trump has, baselessly, asserted that the FBI used an informant to damage him politically, rather than to watch for signs of foreign election meddling.

    “We’ve got a briefing, we’ve got Congress involved,” Giuliani said. “We didn’t do that, they’re doing it.”

    In fact, the recent briefings between top intelligence and national security officials and members of Congress came directly as a result of Trump’s actions, and the White House said as much. […]

    [Giuliani admitted] “To a large extent, we’re defending here— It is for public opinion, because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach.” […]

    “So our jury, as it should be, is the American people.”

    Sheesh. Talk about tainting a large jury pool.

    That strategy, of discrediting the investigation and blurring the lines of criminal behavior, was on display elsewhere in the interview.

    At one point, asked if he was confident “that there was no collusion” by those surrounding Trump during the campaign, Giuliani said with some exasperation: “I can’t be confident about my client.”

    “Nobody knew about Russians,” he said. “This came as a surprise to me, to the President, and to the top four or five people around him.”

    “Now if you go out to the outer orbit, how do I know what’s going on?” he hedged. “But I don’t think that would matter. If there’s collusion with a guy 50 rungs down on the campaign — not that I’m saying it happened — but if it did, I don’t know what that means.” […]

    Separately, Giuliani asserted that Trump should have access to information on that informant both in his capacity as commander in chief, and as someone under investigation by Mueller.


  104. says


    Marco Rubio had one of his infrequent spasms of truth-telling:

    As far as what I have seen to date, it appears that there was an investigation not of the campaign, but of certain individuals who have a history that we should be suspicious of that predate the presidential campaign of 2015/2016.

    And when individuals like that are in the orbit of a major political campaign in America, the FBI, who is in charge of counterintelligence investigations, should be looking at people like that. But they’re not investigating the campaign, they’re investigating those people.”

    I have seen no evidence that those people were a part of an investigation on the campaign. If that exists, I would want to know about it. We should all know about it, and that would be wrong and we should do something about it.

    But up to now. What I have seen is evidence that they were investigating individuals with a history of links to Russia that were concerning. And that was appropriate if that’s all that happened.

  105. KG says


    Coalition talks in Italy have collapsed after the President vetoed the proposed Prime Minister’s choice of Finance Minister, citing the latter’s fervent opposition to Italy staying in the Euro, and the reaction of investors. The President has the constitutional power to do this, but it’s rarely used, and Luigi Di Maio, leader of the Five Star Movement, now wants the President impeached (Parliament can vote for this by a simple majority, but it then goes to the Constitutional Court). The most likely outcome is a stop-gap PM and new elections. Despite my loathing for the proposed coalition, the President’s action seems dubious in democratic terms – should “investors” have a veto over who shall govern Italy?

    In other European news, a far-right demo in Berlin, called by the AfD, was outnumbered about 20,000 to 5,000 by counter-demonstrators, and Arlene Foster, who holds effective veto power over the UK government, says the decisive vote to repeal the forced-birth amendment in the Irish Republic makes no difference to northern Ireland, where abortion is banned in all but a tiny number of circumstances. There have been calls for the UK Parliament to change the law in northern Ireland (abortion is a “devolved matter”, but the Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended due to an ongoing spat between Foster’s “Democratic” Unionist Party and Sinn Fein). If there were a vote at Westminster, it would be a “free vote” (no party whips in operation), but my guess is that May will find ways to block it, on Foster’s orders.

  106. KG says

    Further to #145, it’s fascinating that “The Irish Question” is once again so prominent in British politics – primarily of course in relation to Brexit, the border, and the “D”UP hold over May, but also now in relation to a referendum in the Irish Republic. As long as Britain rules any part of Ireland, it will always return.

  107. says

    Trump’s celebration of Memorial Day:

    Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!

    Typical. He congratulates himself.

  108. blf says

    I must admit I don’t recall ever hearing of this particular “culturechocolat war”, Chocolatine wars: How a battle over pastries has left a nasty taste in Paris:

    Politicians from France’s south-west know the difference between a chocolatine and a pain au chocolat. But their attempt to win special status for their delicacy has turned to crumbs

    Name: Chocolatine.

    Age: About 180. Originated with an Austrian baker, August Zang, who opened a boulangerie in Paris in the 1830s selling Viennese croissants with chocolate called schokoladencroissants. Schokoladen transliterated into French as chocolatine.

    How absolutely fascinating. Looks awfully like a pain au chocolat to me. Do not use that hated term! [see image at site (except if you are hungry !)]

    But you have to admit, it does look like a … Please, down here in the south-west of France we have been fighting this loathsome cultural imperialism for almost two centuries.

    […] Most of France called the resulting pastry a pain au chocolat, but in the old region of Gascony in the south-west it has always been known as the chocolatine.

    […] Ten parliamentary deputies from the south-west last week tabled a motion demanding that the term chocolatine be given the same status as pain au chocolat. […] The rebel deputies said they want to defeat the “pain au chocolat snobbery of our Parisian colleagues”.


    Not to be confused with: Croissant au chocolat (the term used in Alsace), petit pain au chocolat (Hauts-de-France), couque au chocolat (Ardennes) and those unspeakable greasy objects that pass for pains au chocolat in the UK.

    Oh gawds… theu would have to remind me of those, those, ah, things, which do not contain bread, or chocolate, or indeed anything recognised as food. Even the grease resembled tar (in appearance and smell, and, I assume, taste).

    Locally, they are known as pain au chocolat, and vary considerably from rather so-so to Pavlovian salivating — just passing a bakery known for the good ones can be a challenge…

    Oh, and the measure was defeated.

  109. blf says

    And now for something less serious than what chocolate pasties are called </snark>Senior EPA officials collaborated with climate change denial group, emails show (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Newly released emails show senior officials from the Environmental Protection Agency worked closely with conservative thinktank [sic] the Heartland Institute
    John Konkus, EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs, repeatedly reached out to senior staffers at the Heartland Institute, according to the emails.

    If you send a list, we will make sure an invitation is sent, Konkus wrote to the then Heartland president, Joseph Bast, in May 2017, seeking suggestions on scientists and economists the EPA could invite to an annual EPA public hearing on the agency’s science standards.

    Follow-up emails show Konkus and the Heartland Institute mustering scores of potential invitees known for rejecting scientific warnings of human-caused climate change, including from groups such as Plants Need CO2, The Right Climate Stuff and Junk Science.

    [… The emails] were obtained by the Environmental Defence Fund and the Southern Environmental Law Centre, which sued to enforce a Freedom of Information request.


    Of course The Heartland Institute has been working with EPA on policy and personnel decisions, Tim Huelskamp, a former Kansas Republican congressman who now leads the group, said in a statement.

    They recognised us as the pre-eminent organisation opposing the radical climate alarmism agenda and instead promoting sound science and policy, Huelskamp wrote.

    […] Ben Levitan of the Environmental Defence Fund said mainstream climate-change groups have received nothing like the outreach and invitations that Heartland and other hard-right groups have been getting.


    The Washington Post reported in September that Konkus had been scrutinising grant applications for mentions of climate change, which he reportedly calls the double C-word.

    Emails show he and former EPA spokeswoman, Liz Bowman, repeatedly reached out to Heartland to talk over critical coverage by the Post.

    Lakely[†], the Heartland spokesman, responded that he had shared the article with colleagues, asking them to jump to your aide {sic} and defend this position.

    And an email from Bast, shared with EPA staffers and others, shows the then-Heartland president celebrating news that a reporter, Justin Gillis, was leaving the New York Times.

    Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead. Still waiting for Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin at the WaPo and Seth Borenstein at AP to flame out, Bast writes.

    Apropos of nothing, I confused Chris Mooney — who had a blog at the old SciBorg — with George Monbiot at the Grauniad.

      † Weirdly, this individual is named only as “Lakely”. This is probably Jim Lakely.

  110. says

    Reporter and Republican Congressman team up to validate Trump’s lie about tearing apart families
    Media malpractice.

    […] “We don’t want to separate families, but we don’t want families to come to the border illegally. This is just the way the world works,” Jeff Sessions said.

    Prior to the new policy, most families that arrived at the border were dealt with through a civil removal process. This kept families together.

    Donald Trump, responding to criticism of his own policy, blamed it on a “horrible law” that was kept in place by Democrats.

    This is not true. There is no law that requires the Trump administration to separate families. Children as young as 1-year-old are being separated from their families as a result of this new, discretionary, Trump administration policy.

    But when CBS’ Margaret Brennan was interviewing influential House Republican Mark Meadows about the issue on Sunday, she accepted Trump’s tweet as if it was fact. […]

    At no point did Brennan mention that there was no law that required the Trump administration to separate families.

    Meadows perpetuated the misinformation further by stating that there is “real bipartisan support” for changing the law, which does not exist.

    CBS made the situation worse on Monday by posting an article about the interview which refers to “current federal law that compels the separation of immigrant children from their families crossing the U.S. border.”

    The entire sequence of events paints a disturbing picture of a dysfunctional political system: earlier in the month the Trump administration implements a cruel new policy that separates young families at the border. The president then lies about the root of the problem, blaming the “law” and “Democrats” rather than his own policy. The media then perpetuates the lie as fact with the help of Republicans in Congress. […]


  111. says

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection is changing up its story about why one of its officers shot and killed an unarmed 19-year-old last week. […]

    Initially, the federal agency claimed a group of undocumented immigrants started hitting the officer with “blunt objects” during an unprovoked attack while he patrolled a residential street searching for “illegal activity.” Gómez González, who was shot and fatally wounded by the agent, was named as “one of the assailants,” of that attack according to the New York Times.

    But in an updated statement on Friday, the agency now says they were told by the officer that a group of immigrants “rushed him” instead of complying with demands to get on the ground. CBP no longer refers to the deceased woman as an assailant, but merely as a “member of the group,” the Times wrote.

    The FBI and Texas Rangers are investigating the shooting ad the officer was put on administrative leave.

    Marta V. Martinez, a resident of the neighborhood where the shooting took place said she did not see any weapons and that the group of undocumented immigrants were hiding. She also said she did not hear anyone yelling or say “stop” or “don’t run.” […]


    All this bad news was alleviated when blf posted about the chocolate wars in comment 149. That’s how shallow I can be. My mind in now focused on french pastries that include chocolate in some form … though I am now afraid to attach a name to any said pastry.

  112. says

    .@DanaBashCNN: “So you think that the Mueller probe is legitimate?”

    Rudy Giuliani: “Not anymore. I don’t. I did when I came in”

    More from the same interview:

    “We’re more convinced,” Giuliani said, “that this is a rigged investigation.” When Bash asked for evidence that the investigation is, in fact, rigged and cites that it’s already led to 22 criminal indictments, Giuliani focused his ire on James Comey leaking a “confidential memo.”

    Even though he’s railing against the investigation itself, Giuliani insists that Trump won’t fire anyone tied to the probe. Why? “Because that would be playing into the hands, of you know, victim, Watergate,” he told Fox News Sunday, […] It’s a reference to Richard Nixon’s infamous Saturday Night Massacre in 1974, when the president fired special counsel Archibald Cox and initiated a chain of events that eventually led to Nixon’s resignation.

    In a “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I” schoolyard taunt, Giuliani added for emphasis: “They’re the Watergate. They’re the people who have committed the crimes.”

    Giuliani has gone round the bend and I don’t think he is ever coming back.

    I wonder how much Trump is paying Giuliani to completely destroy himself before old age whisks him away.

  113. blf says

    All this bad news was alleviated when blf posted about the chocolate wars in comment 149. That’s how shallow I can be. My mind in now focused on french pastries that include chocolate in some form … though I am now afraid to attach a name to any said pastry.

    Happy to be of assistance. Not entirely certain I should mention this, but dessert tonight was a warm Chocolate tart with Mandarin orange sauce. At the last moment, I remembered to use the silverware…

  114. blf says

    Ivanka Trump won China trademarks days before her father’s reversal on ZTE:

    Ivanka Trump’s fashion and homewares business received initial approval from the Chinese government for five trademark applications days before her father announced a U-turn in policy on ZTE, a Chinese telecoms firm that has admitted breaking US sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

    Chinese trademark documents detailing the approvals were made public by Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (Crew), a watchdog group. The group said the first daughter and White House adviser, who represents the US at diplomatic events, already held more than a dozen trademarks in China and multiple pending applications. Donald Trump holds more than 100 trademarks in China.

    The five approvals, for applications made in 2017, came through on 7 May. On 13 May, Trump made the surprise announcement that he had instructed the Department of Commerce to help get ZTE back into business.


    In the last three months, with what experts say is unusual speed, China has granted final approval for 13 trademarks and provisional approval for eight more. […] While she does not have a large business in China, most of her US imports are shipped from there. Clothing has been exempted from tariffs threatened by her father as part of his aggressive trade policy.


  115. blf says

    Vaguely continuing from the exceptionally important chocolat wars, Brexit indigestion: row brewing over call for UK laws to protect likes of cognac and feta:

    Feta cheese, Parma ham, French cognac and Belgium’s sour lambic beers are the latest cause of indigestion in Brexit talks, after the EU stepped up demands on the UK to legislate to preserve the status of European speciality produce.

    EU special status for regional food and drink has emerged as a new sticking point in the negotiations, following a bad-tempered week of discussions […]

    In a demand likely to infuriate Brexiter backbenchers, the European commission is calling on the British parliament to legislate to protect a few thousand protected food and drink products from copycats. The EU wants the UK to adopt a near equivalent to its system of “geographical indications” — labels that protect a product linked to a region.


    The EU has more than 3,300 protected foods and drinks, including scores from the UK, listed under its register of geographical indications. The rules bar English growers from calling their sparking wine champagne, for example, or Danish farmers from selling their crumbly cheese as feta.

    As well as the big names, the list includes hundreds of lesser-known specialities, such as Lithuanian rye bread, Polish Grójec apples and Croatian smoked sausage.

    The UK, a latecomer to applying for GI labels, has 83 protected foods and drinks, including Scotch whisky, Cornish pasties and Arbroath smokies. The government has promised to protect these products on the UK market.

    Britain has said the protection of EU food and drink on the UK market is a matter for negotiations. Officials think the issue gives them some leverage and do not want to give away valuable intellectual property rights without getting something in return.

    Protection of, e.g., Scotch whisky ? Oh sorry, I forgot, Scotland didn’t vote for brexit, so one of their world-famous products isn’t deserving of wider protection.

    Special status for food and drink is always one of the biggest sticking points in EU trade talks with other countries. […]

    Even within a single country — what to call a chocolate pastry, for instance, or is it whisky (Scotland) or whiskey (Ireland)?†

    A UK government spokesperson said: Leaving the EU gives us a golden opportunity to secure ambitious free trade deals while supporting our farmers and producers to grow and sell more great British food. We will ensure that consumers continue to have a wide range of choice of high-quality food products at affordable prices.

    Translation: “We are totally happy to sell / export counterfeits, as long as English foods aren’t counterfeited.” Whilst it is hard to think of any English “foods” anyone would want to counterfeit, Ingerland isn’t the only part of the EU-exiting UK.

      † Ireland isn’t, of course, part of the UK. However, the name whiskey — with the e — is also used, as far as I know, in N.Ireland (which is part of the UK), albeit, like Scotland, did not vote for brexit.

  116. blf says

    I have no recollection of hearing of this before, despite it apparently going for some years now, Non-Muslim women take on Ramadan hijab challenge (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Women of all faiths are wearing the hijab during the holy month in solidarity with Muslim women who face discrimination.

    Grace Lloyd got a round of applause when she walked into her classroom at Doha’s Gulf English School on the first day of Ramadan, wearing a black hijab with her blue uniform.

    The shy 11-year-old flushed as her fellow grade seven classmates in the Qatari capital clapped and cheered for her earlier this month.

    Lloyd, a British Christian, will be covering her head for the entire duration of the holy month this year in solidarity with Muslim women who face discrimination for wearing the hijab.

    “I feel very strongly about this,” said Lloyd, the youngest participant of the 30-day Ramadan hijab challenge, a yearly initiative by the non-profit World Hijab Day (WHD[]) organisation, inviting women of all faiths to wear the headscarf for a month.


    For the organisers, the purpose of the month-long activity is to build bridges and break stereotypes.
    Nazma Khan, president and founder of World Hijab Day organisation.

    “This event is for those who want to experience the hijab for more than just one day in order to better understand what Muslim women go through on a daily basis,” said Nazma Khan, the president and founder of the World Hijab Day organisation.

    Each year on February 1, Khan’s non-profit also invites women to cover their heads for a day to mark World Hijab Day.


    Brazilian student Pamela Zafred, who is wearing the hijab as a social experiment this month, said the experience has been an “eye-opener” for her.

    The 19-year-old from Goiania, who was raised as a Catholic but does not follow any religion, told Al Jazeera the first day of the 30-day challenge was the “worst”.

    “I went to the gym {wearing the hijab}, and I could hear incessant jokes about me,” she said. “Our classes were conducted in groups, but no one chose to stay with me until the instructor divided the groups himself.”


      † The WHD link in the Al Jazeera article was perhaps misleading, albeit not borked. I’ve corrected(?) it.

  117. blf says

    Oh for fecks sake, the LA Times has apparently decided to block geolocated EU sites (e.g., me), almost certainly because of GDPR, albeit they are too stoopid to say so (Sites block users, shut down activities and flood inboxes as GDPR rules loom). As reported in the Grauniad, LA Times among US-based news sites blocking EU users due to GDPR (“LA Times, Chicago Tribune and others redirect to pages saying sites are currently unavailable in most European countries”), I’m now getting a refusal:

    Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market. We continue to identify technical compliance solutions that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism.

    Arseholes. First, GDPR was proposed in 2012 and approved in 2016, so there’s been two years (at least) for competent sites to get their act together. Second, “the law applies to data processed on EU citizens wherever they are based in the world” so blocking apparent EU sites is insufficient. If you “think” closing your site to EU sites “works”, then you should really close yer fecking website, especially if you weren’t be bothered to do anything in the past two(-plus) years, fecking incompetent moronic fools.

    The New York Times seems to be OK, but the Washington Post appears to want me to agree to draconian data theft:

    The new European data protection law requires us to inform you of the following before you use our website:
      We use cookies and other technologies to customize your experience, perform analytics and deliver personalized advertising on our sites, apps and newsletters and across the Internet based on your interests. By clicking “I agree” below, you consent to the use by us and our third-party partners of cookies and data gathered from your use of our platforms. See our Privacy Policy and Third Party Partners to learn more about the use of data and your rights. You also agree to our Terms of Service.

    I haven’t checked (yet) the Washington Post’s numerous links (embedded above), so it might not be as bad as it looks.

  118. says

    Saturday’s tweet o’ the day.

    From the Guardian liveblog of the Irish referendum:

    My colleague at Dublin Castle Emma Graham-Harrison tells me that as the results were announced, the crowds in the courtyard began chanting, “Savita, Savita!” – the name of the Indian dentist who died of sepsis in 2013 after being refused an abortion during a protracted miscarriage.

  119. says

    WSJ – “Israeli Intelligence Firm’s Election-Meddling Analysis Comes Under Mueller’s Scrutiny: Psy-Group presentation outlines ways Trump campaign was helped by fake social media accounts”: “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators have obtained a presentation prepared by an Israel-based private intelligence firm that outlines ways in which Donald Trump’s 2016 election was helped by fake news and fake social-media accounts, according to people familiar with the presentation and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal….”

    This is the Psy-Group’s presentation.

    It’s interesting how often the state of Georgia appears in this context: after a lawsuit was filed about possible voting-system hacking, state officials illegally destroyed election data (after which the state AG refused to defend the state in the lawsuit); the university at which voter information was insecurely stored, Kennesaw State, had a visit from then-ambassador Kislyak in 2016 as part of its “Year of Russia” program; Atlanta was one of the places listed in Mueller’s IRA indictments as being a destination for Russian operatives; and now Georgia oddly appears as a pro-Trump bot hot spot in the 2016 election.

  120. says

    “TMZ Goes MAGA: How Harvey Levin’s Gossip Empire Became Trump’s Best Friend”:

    …More than a dozen former and current TMZ employees described the site’s pro-Trump transformation during the election under Levin, which they say destroyed newsroom morale and led to the departure of several key staffers. The handling of a tip about another purportedly toxic tape, on top of the Access Hollywood footage, would further demoralize staffers.

    Throughout the 2016 campaign, Levin and TMZ also maintained relationships with senior people in Trumpworld, with Levin often going out of his way to shoot the breeze with senior officials. Additional points of contact for Levin included veteran aide Hope Hicks and Trump’s longtime executive assistant Rhona Graff, three 2016 campaign sources said.

    Levin also was tight with Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, multiple former TMZ staffers said.

    “Cohen helped Harvey with his TV show and they bonded over both being a lawyer. They spoke routinely,” a source said.

    As for Levin and Trump, they got tighter after Trump became the Republican nominee, according to another former TMZ employee.

    “What happened a lot of the time in the second half of 2016 was everything went political and very pro-Trump… They would do stories about voter fraud which wasn’t a typical TMZ story,” the former staffer said.

    “The slant of the whole website and its by-product, the TMZ TV show, became very political very quickly and it wasn’t something anybody seemed happy with besides Harvey,” said a former TMZ journalist. “It felt like it was a propaganda machine especially a month or two before the election.”

    Multiple former TMZ staffers said they became alarmed when the website and TMZ’s Fox TV show went from covering celebrities and scandal to covering Trump in a favorable manner….

    Much more at the link.

  121. says

    “Harvard study estimates thousands died in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria”:

    At least 4,645 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria and its devastation across Puerto Rico last year, according to a new Harvard study released Tuesday, an estimate that far exceeds the official government death toll, which stands at 64.

    The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that health-care disruption for the elderly and the loss of basic utility services for the chronically ill had significant impacts across the U.S. territory, which was thrown into chaos after the September hurricane wiped out the electrical grid and had widespread impacts on infrastructure. Some communities were entirely cut off for weeks amid road closures and communications failures.

    Researchers in the United States and Puerto Rico, led by scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, calculated the number of deaths by surveying nearly 3,300 randomly chosen households across the island and comparing the estimated post-hurricane death rate to the mortality rate for the year before. Their surveys indicated that the mortality rate was 14.3 deaths per 1,000 residents from Sept. 20 through Dec. 31, 2017, a 62 percent increase in the mortality rate compared to 2016, or 4,645 “excess deaths.”

    “Our results indicate that the official death count of 64 is a substantial underestimate of the true burden of mortality after Hurricane Maria,” the authors wrote.

    The official death estimates have drawn sharp criticism from experts and local residents, and the new study criticized Puerto Rico’s methods for counting the dead — and its lack of transparency in sharing information — as detrimental to planning for future natural disasters. The authors called for patients, communities and doctors to develop contingency plans for natural disasters….

    Much more at the link.

  122. says

    “Chechnya’s leader uses World Cup to extend his outreach to Middle East”:

    There was a two-humped camel. Fireworks. A 3-D laser light show and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

    That was how Russia’s Chechnya region opened a grand, sand-colored hotel this month in its capital, Grozny. Styled like an Arabian marketplace, the luxurious piece of real estate is the first in the predominantly Muslim republic to be built with foreign funding. And, like other upcoming ventures, the money came from the Arab world.

    In early June, the hotel will receive its maiden visitors, Egypt’s national soccer team, which is training in Chechnya for the World Cup. While no matches will be played in the region, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s invitation, and the acceptance by the Egyptian team, are significant, coming as the strongman intensifies his ambitions in the Middle East.

    From the Emirates to Syria, Kadyrov has aimed at getting involved in the greater Muslim world, acting as a quasi-official envoy for the Kremlin….

    For a Russia already resurgent on the global stage, increased influence in the Middle East, home to a web of Soviet-era alliances, is crucial for the Kremlin to counter Western dominance and push for Russian interests….

    Kadyrov is an evil thug.

  123. says

    Well. This is something.

    “Inside the Pro-Trump Effort to Keep Black Voters From the Polls”:

    Breitbart News landed an election scoop that went viral in August 2016: “Exclusive: ‘Black Men for Bernie’ Founder to End Democrat ‘Political Slavery’ of Minority Voters… by Campaigning for Trump.”

    If the splashy, counterintuitive story, which circulated on such conservative websites as Truthfeed and Infowars, wasn’t exactly fake news, it was carefully orchestrated.

    The story’s writer—an employee of the conservative website run by Steve Bannon before he took over Donald Trump’s campaign—spent weeks courting activist Bruce Carter to join Trump’s cause. He approached Carter under the guise of interviewing him. The writer eventually dropped the pretense altogether, signing Carter up for a 10-week blitz aimed at convincing black voters in key states to support the Republican real estate mogul, or simply sit out the election. Trump’s narrow path to victory tightened further if Hillary Clinton could attract a Barack Obama-level turnout.

    Bannon’s deployment of the psychological-operations firm Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 campaign drew fresh attention this month, when a former Cambridge employee told a U.S. Senate panel that Bannon tried to use the company to suppress the black vote in key states. Carter’s story shows for the first time how an employee at Bannon’s former news site worked as an off-the-books political operative in the service of a similar goal.

    Carter’s recollections and correspondence, which he shared after a falling-out with his fellow Trump supporters, provide a rare look inside the no-holds-barred nature of the Republican’s campaign and how it explored new ways to achieve an age-old political aim: getting the right voters to the polls—and keeping the wrong ones away.

    “If you can’t stomach Trump, just don’t vote for the other people and don’t vote at all,” Carter, 47, recalls telling black voters. It’s the message he says the Trump campaign wanted him to deliver. “That’s what they wanted, that’s what they got.”

    The work Carter says he did, and the funds he was given to do it, also raise questions as to whether campaign finance laws were broken.

    The group Carter founded, Trump for Urban Communities, never disclosed its spending to the Federal Election Commission—a possible violation of election law. In hindsight, Carter says, he believed he was working for the campaign so he wouldn’t have been responsible for reporting the spending.

    His descriptions of the operation suggest possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and his nominally independent efforts. If there was coordination, election law dictates that any contributions to groups such as his must fall within individual limits: no more than $2,700 for a candidate. One supporter far exceeded that cap, giving about $100,000 to Carter’s efforts.

    Another potential issue is whether the unusual role played by the Breitbart reporter amounted to an in-kind contribution.

    “There are some real problems here,” says Lawrence Noble, who served as general counsel at the FEC during Republican and Democratic administrations and is now senior director and general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan advocacy organization. “I would think this is more than enough evidence for the FEC to open an investigation.”…

    I’m so glad this report loops Iadonisi and Blanton back in. It’s all sketchy as hell. Also, Carter is a bigtime fool.

  124. says

    Thread: “If you told me two years ago that the First Lady could go quietly missing for 18 days without the media demanding answers, I’d have said your novel idea was ridiculous….”

  125. Oggie. says

    I was laying awake last night, waiting for the oxycodone to kick in (my last back shots lasted four weeks) when I realized that I know a way that Trump will get out of the whole collusion mess. At some point, it will reach the point at which denial of collusion becomes too absurd even for Faux News. And at that point, I can see Trump standing up in front of the cameras and telling us:

    We did not collude. There was no collusion. We did time the release of information and memes with Russia, but we did it to save America. If we hadn’t worked with others, then Crooked Hillary would be President and we would be in a great depression, taxes would be sky high, guns would be banned, the Supreme Court would be packed with commies, America would be on its way to being a socialist Muslim nation with no freedom, and we would be at war with China and Russia. So by working with the Russians — there was no collusion, only coordination — we saved America from Crooked Hillary. I shouldn’t be indicted, I should be given the greatest medal ever for saving America.

    Of course, it would be in Trumpspeak, but I can picture it happening.

  126. says

    NYT TV critic: “I slam networks all the time, and you can think what you like about Roseanne, or ABC’s ever airing the show. But they just made a decision to cancel their highest-rated show for its star’s racist comment, and that is worth noting.”

  127. KG says


    Maybe Melania was the FBI “spy” inside the Trump campaign – and is now being debriefed at a secret location!

  128. says

    Maybe Melania was the FBI “spy” inside the Trump campaign – and is now being debriefed at a secret location!

    Would be awesome. Seriously, though, I’m a little concerned. It’s going on three weeks now.

  129. says

    Trump is running a reality show presidency. I wish ABC could kick him off his platform just like they did with Roseanne.

  130. Oggie. says

    Lynna @171:

    Trump is running a reality show presidency. I wish ABC could kick him off his platform just like they did with Roseanne.

    Naah. Too rich. Too white.

  131. Oggie. says

    Damn. That should have been:

    Naah. Too rich. Too white. Too male.

    Forgot the third part of the evil triad.

  132. blf says

    Hungary to criminalise migrant helpers with Stop Soros legislation:

    Viktor Orbán’s government has introduced a controversial set of laws to the Hungarian parliament, known informally as the Stop Soros plan, that would impose jail terms on people or organisations deemed to be aiding illegal immigration.


    Rights activists have been worried about the bill because of the potential for any NGOs working to give legal or other aid to migrants arriving at Hungary’s borders to fall under the definition of supporting illegal migration.


    Additional provisions make it impossible for anyone to claim asylum in Hungary if they passed through a country deemed safe prior to their arrival.

    The UN’s refugee agency said the package of laws, if passed, would “deprive people who are forced to flee their homes of critical aid and services, and further inflame tense public discourse and rising xenophobic attitudes”.


  133. says

    blf @154,

    Not entirely certain I should mention this, but dessert tonight was a warm Chocolate tart with Mandarin orange sauce.

    I have packed my bags and am on my way. I am moving in on a semi-permanent basis.

    In other news, let’s take a closer look at just one aspect of Trump’s lies about the FBI. This is from Steve Benen:

    Donald Trump asked over the holiday weekend why neither the FBI nor the Justice Department contacted him during the 2016 campaign to alert him to the “Russia problem.” […]

    The trouble is, the question was already answered months ago.

    In the weeks after he became the Republican nominee on July 19, 2016, Donald Trump was warned that foreign adversaries, including Russia, would probably try to spy on and infiltrate his campaign, according to multiple government officials familiar with the matter.

    The warning came in the form of a high-level counterintelligence briefing by senior FBI officials, the officials said. A similar briefing was given to Hillary Clinton, they added. They said the briefings, which are commonly provided to presidential nominees, were designed to educate the candidates and their top aides about potential threats from foreign spies.

    The candidates were urged to alert the FBI about any suspicious overtures to their campaigns, the officials said.

    There are a couple of angles to this to keep in mind. The first is that Trump’s latest complaint – federal law enforcement should’ve given him a heads-up about the “Russia problem” during Russia’s attack on our political system – is difficult to take seriously given the counterintelligence briefing he received in 2016.

    But for the president to remind us of this is especially unwise since because Trump did more than just ignore the warning – the Republican and his team also failed to volunteer information that would’ve mattered to the FBI at the time. […]

    by the time Trump received his first classified intelligence briefing, which came a month after the FBI warning, more than a half dozen Trump campaign staffers, including members of his own family, had already taken high-level meetings with Russians and people who were sent as emissaries from the Russian government.

    They just didn’t think to tell intelligence officials about any of this. The FBI effectively said, “Let us know about suspicious overtures to your campaigns,” and Trump World, after hearing from a whole lot of Russians who wanted to partner with the Republican campaign, didn’t say anything. […]

  134. blf says

    Journalism in the UK, Gavin Williamson cut off by TV interviewer for dodging questions:

    The defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, had a live television interview cut off after he repeatedly dodged a question about his “Trump-esque” approach to Russia in the aftermath of the Salisbury poisoning.

    The Good Morning Britain presenter Richard Madeley repeatedly tried to get Williamson to answer a question on Tuesday and terminated the interview when he felt it had become clear Williamson would not do so.


    He had asked Williamson: “You told Russia to ‘shut up and go away’. Do you regret that now? Do you think it was a bit too informal?”

    In response, the defence secretary began by paying tribute to the health service staff who had tended to Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, the victims of the poisoning. Madeley cut him off, saying they could discuss the health workers in due course and asking him to answer the original question.

    Rather than addressing his previous comments directly, Williamson variously sought to talk about Britain being unified over the poisoning of the Skripals, about Russia’s actions in a UK city and about the UK working with its global allies — interrupted by an increasingly frustrated Madeley at each turn.


    Finally giving up, Madeley told him: “Right, you’re not going to answer, are you? OK. All right, interview terminated because you won’t answer the question. It would be helpful if you answered a straight question with a straight answer.”

  135. says

    Let’s take alook at Trump’s style of lying in which he quotes people that he has invented. “Phony sources,” as Trump himself would say.

    About two weeks ago trump said this:

    We’re going to build the wall. You know, we’ve already started. We got $1.6 billion. We’re fixing a lot of it. We’re – in San Diego, so here’s what – here’s a case study. San Diego wants the wall. And I said to my people, “Here’s the bad news. If we give them the wall, we don’t have an advocate. If we don’t give them the wall they’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on Governor Moonbeam in California, right?” But you know what I did? Something I would normally not do, which means in life I’m getting nicer as I get older. I said, “Let’s build the wall for San Diego.” So we’re building them the wall. I shouldn’t have done it.

    Actually I, sort of, changed my mind after we started. I called my people, I said, “How much would it cost to stop building the wall in San Diego so they go out and advocate for us because they’re desperate for their wall. Because they don’t like people running over their front yards and all of the problems, including by the way massive amounts of crime?” I said, “How much would it cost to stop” – I’m in the construction business, it’s what I do best.

    They got back to me they said, “Sir, it will cost approximately $7 million to stop.” Now, that’s not big numbers when you hear about the numbers we talk about, $7 million to stop and restart it at a later date. I said, “I can’t do that to the American people. Keep building the wall.” Right?

    All wrong. All lies. All sources phony.

    Why do all of Trump’s imaginary sources call him, “Sir”?

    As Steve Benen said:

    None of this makes sense. He’s not building his wall in San Diego; San Diego hasn’t requested that he build his wall in the city; it wouldn’t cost millions of dollars to stop construction that hasn’t started.

    As the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale explained, “[I]t’s not just that he’s lied about the views of a city and lied about the state of a government project. To make those lies seem more real, he has then invented an entire imaginary exchange between himself and other people.”

    Exactly. Trump fabricated conversations that didn’t happen – just as he’s done throughout his presidency. […]

    Which probably goes a long way toward explaining his attacks on journalists: Trump likely assumes everyone does what he does.


    Maybe we should all become part of Trump’s army of imaginary sources. “Sir, to rescue the nation you will have to resign. Go to Mar-a-Lago. Indulge in some cake. I hear it is the best cake in the world.”

  136. blf says

    I have packed my bags and am on my way. I am moving in on a semi-permanent basis.

    I’ll (probably) be at the (fairly new) specialist Whisk(e)y / Cognac / Rum… bar, where the bowels of snacks include chocolates. No cheeses, much to the annoyance of the mildly deranged penguin — but there is a (also fairly new) fromagerie at the other side of the building, making for a relaxing time of sipping whilst an irrate fromager chases a giggling feathered tuxedo smelling faintly of herrings around the square…

  137. says

    Let’s take a look at how Trump lied to and about the military:

    Trump spoke at the U.S. Naval Academy’s graduation and commissioning ceremony in Annapolis […]

    Trump’s rhetoric about the size of the Naval fleet was wrong. His claims about defense spending were false. He insisted that he’s improved international respect for the United States, which wasn’t even close to being true.

    But while those bogus claims were annoying, this was the presidential rhetoric that stood out for me:

    “We just got you a big pay raise. First time in 10 years. We got you a big pay increase. First time in over 10 years.

    “I fought for you. That was the hardest one to get, but you never had a chance of losing. I represented you well. I represented you well.”

    […] this wasn’t the first time Trump made this claim. A few weeks ago, the president delivered remarks at a Celebration of Military Mothers and Spouses Event in the White House at which he twice boasted with pride about approving the first military raises “in 10 years.”

    […] what kind of president lies to servicemen and women about their pay?

    […] there were raises for our military in 2017. And 2016. And 2015 and 2014. And every other year of the Obama era. And every year of the Bush era. And every year of the Clinton era. [And more, going back to WWII.]

    […] in inflation-adjusted terms, the raise was actually quite modest.

    […] he said the raise was “the hardest one to get” […] There was no organized opposition pushing back against pay increases for the military.

    […] when Trump first started pushing this line, there was quite a bit of coverage making clear that his claims weren’t true. […] which strongly suggests he’s trying to deceive the public.

    Why? In part because Trump is eager to present himself an ally to those who wear the uniform, and in part because he’s equally eager to suggest Barack Obama wasn’t. […]


  138. says

    blf @186, entertainment! There will be entertainment at my new digs.

    In other news, Team Trump is refusing to be accountable. They are stonewalling inquiries:

    The White House and the National Security Council are refusing to respond to inquiries from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which is reviewing a number of White House-related matters, GAO General Counsel Thomas Armstrong alleged in a May 9 letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn.

    “In response to our requests, White House Counsel and NSC staff have either refused to have any discussion with GAO staff or not responded at all,” Armstrong wrote, calling the lack of cooperation a “clear departure from past practice.”

    The letter was released by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, who are requesting that Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) hold a hearing “on the dramatic decision by the White House to obstruct investigations by our independent investigators at the Government Accountability Office.” […]

    Armstrong’s letter referenced its reviews of the NSC’s role in U.S. efforts abroad, of vacancies at the Inspector General and of the costs of President Trump’s travel. […]


  139. says

    Luke Harding: “Arkady was the seventh Novaya Gazeta journalists to be murdered since 2001. The roll includes Anna Politkovskaya, Yury Shchekochikhin, and Anastasia Baburova. Their deaths tell you everything you need to know about twenty-first century #Russia.”

  140. blf says

    More on @184, Apparently the UK’s defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, is utterly clewless, Get into Trump’s mind? Gavin Williamson can’t even get into his own mind (one week ago):

    There are some politicians to whom there is a great deal more than first meets the eye. And then there are others to whom there is a great deal less. Not so much Russian dolls as fragile shells of low self-worth and giant egos. People very much like Gavin Williamson.

    I have a lot of sleepless nights, Williamson admitted half-way through a hearing of the defence select committee on Britain’s role in Nato. But not nearly so many sleepless nights as the rest of the country has in knowing that he is our defence secretary. The idea that the safety of the country has been entrusted to someone so clearly unqualified for the job is a terrifying prospect.

    The only person who believes in Williamson’s ability is Williamson. And possibly [UK PM] Theresa May. Though even she must be having her misgivings by now. Gavin got the gig by first recommending that Michael Fallon resign and then presenting the prime minister with a short list with just one name on it. His.

    May fell on it gratefully: it’s sometimes easier to surround yourself with people who are as clueless as you. Safety in numbers. And ever since Williamson has rewarded the prime minister for her show of faith by doing nothing to suggest he is up to the job. […]

    Williamson began with his rough overview of Nato. He’d sent a memo round to all the other countries, reminding them of their obligations to spend 2% of GDP if they thought they could afford it, and thought Britain had shown great leadership qualities. What sort of leadership qualities? Gavin thought for a while. Significant leadership qualities, he said. He couldn’t say any more or he would have to kill everyone in the room.

    Conservative Johnny Mercer wasn’t entirely convinced by these banalities and asked what specific specialities Williamson thought we brought to Nato. We bring a lot of specialities, Gavin said confidently. Could he be more specific about the specific specialities? Um. Er. We were good at submarine activity. And we were taking a major leadership role in cyber warfare. In fact, we were taking major leadership roles everywhere. Come to think of it, we were basically running Nato.

    “Is Nato basically the same as when it was formed in 1949?” asked committee chair Julian Lewis. As Williamson’s knowledge of 20th century history begins and ends with the Nazis that he studied for GCSE history a couple of years back, he was completely stumped by this.


    Williamson looked even more confused moments later when he was asked why we had just deployed 600 soldiers to Afghanistan. It was clearly news to him. At which point the committee realised there was no point in asking him any serious questions about the country’s defence and decided to have some fun instead by picking on him.

    “How long would it take to deploy a task force to the Balkans?” asked Tory Mark Francois. Gavin mumbled something about driving down the M2, getting delayed for several weeks at the border post Brexit, before heading off through mainland Europe with a Rough Guide at the ready. Francois [giggled†], before gently pointing out the war could be over by the time our troops arrived.


    Whilst this is from the Grauniad’s snarky parliamentary sketch column, and so should be treated with some salt, the writer (John Crace) usually has the details right. (The title refers to some redacted snark about Williamson fumbling to explain hair furor’s view on Nato.)

      † The redacted word has been known to set off poopyhead’s filter, because it happens to contain the n– word, albeit in and of itself is an entirely benign & appropriate word.

  141. says

    Arkady Babchenko, the journalist who’s been murdered, wrote this last year – “The ‘unpatriotic’ post on Facebook that meant I finally had to flee Russia”:

    …All the elements of the propaganda machine were engaged. Channel One, Russia’s most powerful state channel, called on its viewers to create a petition supporting the removal of our citizenship and deportation. In 24 hours it was signed by 130,000 people.

    Then, the tabloid channel LifeNews collaborated with the courts to serve me with a fine for not buying a bus ticket – I am a war veteran, and enjoy free public transport as a result. Fines are a familiar tactic in Russia, often issued to stop someone from leaving the country because of their debts.

    Then a “beat ‘em up game” emerged online where players are asked to “deal with the enemies of the homeland using your own fists and boots”. These enemies have to be “beaten until they fall”. I’m one of them.

    The General Prosecutor’s Office is now investigating Rynska’s Facebook post and she could face five years in prison. Meanwhile, there are pro-government thugs waiting outside her home, who try to break in from time to time.

    My home address has also been published on the internet, together with an invitation “to visit”. I have received threats to me and my family by the thousand – in my email inbox, on Facebook and by phone.

    Attacks and beatings against dissidents in Russia have been happening for a long time – there must be hundreds of such incidents now. They usually use baseball bats, crowbars or bottles. In September, the investigative journalist Grigory Pasko was left with concussion after an attack by unknown assailants in Barnaul. The day before he had been accused of being a foreign agent by a local newspaper.

    Covering dissidents with ink or faeces is another familiar intimidation tactic. Yuliya Latynina, a journalist, was recently covered in faeces and my activist friends have been covered in ink several times for going out on the street with anti-war placards.

    To cap things off, a pro-government ultranationalist TV channel, Tsargrad, recently released a list of the “Top 100 Russophobes” – I’m number 10, and I fought twice for this country. A country I no longer feel safe in.

  142. says


    Me: Dinner isn’t for another hour.

    Cat: I advise you that I intend to knock items off the table, slam doors, attack my brother, and walk across your laptop until I’m fed. Govern yourself accordingly.

  143. blf says

    Turkey slams Macron over Erdoğan magazine cover support:

    Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has slammed French President Emmanuel Macron over his support for a French magazine’s cover calling President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a “dictator”.

    The Weekly French Magazine Le Point splashed a photo of the Turkish president on the cover of its May 24 edition with words that read: “The dictator. How far will Erdoğan go?”

    Le Point said it had suffered harassment and intimidation by supporters of Erdoğan […].

    Macron waded into the debate, calling the harassment “totally unacceptable”.

    “You cannot put a price on freedom of the press, without it, it’s dictatorship,” he tweeted.

    Çavuşoğlu hit back at Macron’s comments by saying that pro-Erdoğan activists in France, who attacked advertisements and newsstands featuring the image, were exercising their own freedom of expression.

    Democracy is not just limited to accepting insults, curses and lies by one side but also taking into account the point of view and sensitivities of the other, Çavuşoğlu said in a tweet on Tuesday.

    What goes beyond that is hypocrisy. And it’s in response to that that the Turkish community in France has expressed its civilian and democratic reaction, he added.

    Police have been deployed in the southern city of Avignon since the weekend after a group of pro-Erdoğan activists attempted to remove, then cover up advertisements for the magazine at newsstands.


    Around three million expatriate Turks are allowed to vote in the elections next month […], and they are seen as a valuable source of support by Erdoğan’s party.

    (As is typical with excerpts from France24, I have edited the names, etc., to add any missing accents I know about (not marked).)

  144. blf says

    Very probably related to @195, Judge orders Greitens’ secretive nonprofit to turn over documents to House committee:

    Gov Eric Greitens’ political nonprofit has until Friday [1 June] to turn over documents to the Missouri House committee investigating allegations of misconduct against the governor as a precursor to possible impeachment.

    Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued a ruling Tuesday ordering the organization, A New Missouri Inc, to turn over communications and documents showing potential coordination among the nonprofit, the governor and the governor’s campaign committee, as well as expenditures related to advertising.

    The House committee issued subpoenas to the nonprofit and campaign seeking documents lawmakers believe might demonstrate efforts to illegally circumvent the state’s campaign disclosure laws. […]


    A New Missouri was created in February 2017 by Greitens’ closest political advisers. It is housed in the same building as his campaign committee, and the two share some staff. The building was purchased shortly before the creation of A New Missouri by one of Greitens’ biggest campaign donors.

    [… T]he House committee pointed to testimony of a former Greitens campaign staff member, Michael Hafner, who told lawmakers that in late 2014 and early 2015, the governor’s campaign was discussing a strategy to conceal the identity of its donors.

    Mark Kempton, a former Pettis County prosecutor hired to serve as special counsel for a House committee, also noted accusations that Greitens’ campaign used shell companies to funnel money into its coffers to hide the original source of the money.


    More recently, A New Missouri has been accused of being a conduit for money to fight off a union-backed effort to repeal Missouri’s right-to-work law. The nonprofit donated $1.2 million to a PAC that failed at its task of putting a pro-right-to-work initiative petition on the ballot this year.

    Most of the PAC’s money went to political allies of the governor.


  145. blf says

    me@197: “As is typical with excerpts from France24…” Oops, the excerpt is from Al Jazeera, who usually seems to not have the peculiar France24 quirk of misspelling by the omission of accents.

  146. blf says

    Israeli bill to ban filming soldiers on duty condemned (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Palestinian journalists’ union says bill against photographing Israeli soldiers on duty is attempt to escape punishment.

    A Palestinian journalists’ union has condemned as “racist” an Israeli bill that seeks to criminalise recording and photographing Israeli soldiers on duty.

    The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) said in a statement on Saturday that the bill would “grant legitimacy to the Israeli occupation to commit more crimes.”

    “{The bill} severely attacks the profession of the press and legitimises the criminal practices committed by the Israeli occupation army against Palestinian people.

    “It is an attempt to escape punishment and international justice,” the statement added.

    The bill was proposed to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, on Thursday and has been backed by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

    The proposed legislation, entitled the Prohibition against photographing and documenting {Israeli army} soldiers, criminalises photographing troops on duty.

    Anyone who filmed, photographed, and/or recorded soldiers in the course of their duties, with the intention of undermining the spirit of {Israeli army} soldiers and residents of Israel, shall be liable to five years imprisonment, says the bill, proposed by Robert Ilatov, a member of the Knesset and the chairman of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party.

    The bill’s explanatory notes said that Israel had witnessed a worrying phenomenon of documentation of Israeli soldiers for many years.

    This was done through video, stills, and audio recordings by anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian organisations such as B’Tselem, Machsom Watch Women, Breaking the Silence, and various BDS organisations.

    Ilatov said that it was time to end this absurdity.

    We have a responsibility to provide Israeli soldiers with optimal conditions for carrying out their duties, without having to worry about a leftist or organisation who might publish their picture to shame and disgrace them, he said.

    The bill was also criticised by the liberal Israeli Haaretz daily, which, in an editorial published Sunday, described it as causing “serious harm to freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.”


    [The PJS] called on the United Nations and international press freedom institutions to “exert pressure on the occupying entity to comply with international laws and conventions, and to protect the freedom of press to document the truth.”

  147. says

    Re #198 – Josh Marshall: “Okay, Greitens refuses to resign in the face of merciless, insanely damaging sex and blackmail scandal, resigns immediately when forced to turn over records of his dark money group? Gonna go out on a limb and say there’s probably somethin bad there.”

  148. says

    More re the Psy-Group.

    Incidentally, I was disappointed that Engel’s report on Black Cube said nothing about their involvement with a sleazy dirty-tricks operation on behalf of the overtly anti-Semitic Orbán campaign in Hungary. How did these ex-Mossad agents justify that to themselves?

  149. says

    Trey Gowdy is arguing on Fox News right now that the FBI acted properly when it used a confidential informant for the Trump campaign as part of the counter-intel investigation into Russia’s election interference.

    But he faults Schiff and others for not specifying that Trump isn’t the target of the investigation. ‘This had nothing to do with Donald Trump’, he said.”

  150. says

    “Trump Asked Sessions to Retain Control of Russia Inquiry After His Recusal”:

    By the time Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for dinner one Saturday evening in March 2017, he had been receiving the presidential silent treatment for two days. Mr. Sessions had flown to Florida because Mr. Trump was refusing to take his calls about a pressing decision on his travel ban.

    When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request.

    Mr. Sessions refused.

    The confrontation, which has not been previously reported, is being investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as are the president’s public and private attacks on Mr. Sessions and efforts to get him to resign. Mr. Trump dwelled on the recusal for months, according to confidants and current and former administration officials who described his behavior toward the attorney general.

    The special counsel’s interest demonstrates Mr. Sessions’s overlooked role as a key witness in the investigation into whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself. It also suggests that the obstruction investigation is broader than it is widely understood to be — encompassing not only the president’s interactions with and firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, but also his relationship with Mr. Sessions….

  151. says

    “Mike Pompeo to Huddle With Anti-Semite’s Envoy”:

    Viktor Orban won reelection as Hungary’s prime minister last month through a blood-and-soil campaign that married antisemitism with Islamophobia. Donald Trump’s secretary of state is about to reverse years of U.S. policy and receive Orban’s chief diplomat at Foggy Bottom.

    Current and former State Department officials expressed alarm that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is giving facetime to an envoy for the demagogic and authoritarian Orban, who also happens to be Vladimir Putin’s best European friend.

    “I’m fucking disgusted,” said a State Department official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. The official considered Pompeo “cozying up to individuals like Orban” part of a broader pattern of the Trump administration ignoring human-rights abuses and democratic backsliding.

    Peter Szijjarto, the Hungarian foreign minister, has been attempting to make direct contact with senior Trump administration officials since Trump’s election, but has gotten pawned off on low-level officials or bundled together at multilateral conferences.

    The meeting between Pompeo and Szijjarto, scheduled for Wednesday morning, comes as Orban’s ruling Fidesz Party introduced legislation in Budapest on Tuesday threatening nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with jail time for seeming to aid illegal immigrants….

    Szijjarto was no passive participant in the extended demonization of Soros and Muslim refugees….

    Neither Tillerson nor his Obama administration predecessor, John Kerry, met with him one-on-one.

    The State Department hasn’t released an agenda for the Szijjarto meeting, and did not respond to questions about it. But in a March 2017 interview with the Associated Press, Szijjarto held out hope for a reinvigorated relationship with the U.S. under Trump, who, like Orban, harnessed hatred of immigrants and Muslims. Back then, Szijjarto was urging a position that Trump seems sympathetic toward, even if his administration isn’t: rolling back sanctions on Russia for its occupation of Ukraine.

    “We are pushing for an open, non-emotional, but rational debate and evaluation of the impact of the sanctions,” Szijjarto told the Associated Press back then.

    Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, blasted Orban’s “goulash authoritarianism” on the Senate floor on Thursday, drawing out what he said were disturbing echoes of the Kremlin and warning that the re-empowered Orban government was on the precipice of a dangerous escalation.

    On the eve of Pompeo welcoming Szijjarto to Foggy Bottom, the State Department’s annual religious-freedom report, released Tuesday, noted the ominous climate in Orban’s Hungary. It reported “incidents of assault and hate speech against Muslims and Jews, including Holocaust denial, and vandalism of religious properties” – even as it soft-pedaled Orban’s demonization of Soros.

    “The government continued its campaign and public messaging against a prominent Jewish Hungarian American business executive,” the State Department report found, “which Jewish leaders said could incite anti-Semitic acts.”

    Once again, good work, Black Cube.

  152. says

    Adam Schiff on #208: “The evidence that President Trump sought to interfere with the Russia investigation continues to mount. If Trump tried to have Sessions reinsert himself in the Russia probe so that his loyalist could improperly influence its findings, it is more proof of a corrupt intent.”

  153. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    MSNBC is having a town hall meeting in race right now. Hosted by Chris Hayes and Joy Reid.

  154. says

    Daniel Dale is a continental treasure.

    This is also terrifying.

    Trump has returned to the subject of MS-13: “They want to cut people up into little pieces.”

    Scoffing at Pelosi, he says, “They’re not human beings.”

    “What was the name?” he asks the crowd. “ANIMALLLS,” the crowd shouts as one.

    Dale calls out the same “Sir” nonsense Lynna did @ #185 above.

    “Most importantly; our country is respected again all over the world,” Trump says. “We’re respected again as a country.”

    “Respect” is subjective, but approval of the U.S. has plummeted almost everywhere in the world outside Russia and Israel, Pew polling shows.


  155. says

    I’ve suggested this in the past, but to try one more time…

    My proposal is that people eliminate the following (and their variants) from their political discourse:

    and the like.

    Avoiding these lazy and bigoted terms and concepts would force us to talk about politics in a far more intelligent and thoughtful way.

    Try it!

  156. blf says

    In the UK, the Home Office is now pretending† to not deport people for making minor-but-legal paperwork errors (as discussed in some previous comments in this series of poopyhead threads), Government [sic] U-turn over anti-terror law used to deport migrants:

    Section of Immigration Act to be reviewed after misuse of clause saw highly skilled migrants forced from UK

    The government [sic] has agreed to stop deporting people under an immigration rule designed to tackle terrorism and those judged to be a threat to national security pending a review, after the Guardian highlighted numerous cases in which the power was being misused.

    The news came as the home secretary, Sajid Javid, admitted on Tuesday that at least 19 highly skilled migrants had been forced to leave the country under the rule.

    A review of the controversial section 322(5) of the Immigration Act was announced in a letter to the home affairs select committee.

    Javid said one person had been issued with a visa to return to the UK as a result of ongoing inquiries. He also said that all applications for leave to remain that could potentially be refused under the section have been put on hold pending the findings of the review, which is due to be completed by the end the month.


    The controversial paragraph comes with devastating conditions. Migrants, some who have lived here for a decade or more and have British-born children, immediately become ineligible for any other UK visa. Many are given just 14 days to leave the UK while others are allowed to stay and fight their cases but not to work.

    In addition, those deported under the terrorism-associated paragraph will have that permanently marked on their passports, making it highly unlikely they will ever get a visa to visit or work anywhere else in the world.


    The home affairs select committee highlighted the issue after questioning Caroline Nokes, the immigration minister, about it in early May.

    A few days later, they publicly accused the Home Office of being unfit for purpose and guilty of “shambolic incompetence” after the Guardian found letters written by Nokes that appeared to contradict her claim that she had only recently learned of the Home Office’s use of the section.

    “Unfit for purpose” is a severely damning phrase in the UK, and is not (in the main) used lightly.

      † It’s not impossible this is a genuine change by the nasty party. But I doubt it — the current UK PM, Theresa May, was the FM who essentially introduced the hostile environment policy being used to justify all the deportations — and who has conspicuously not changed her stance, despite (e.g.) the Windrush scandal.

  157. says


    ‘Special apologies to my wife. Olechka,’ Arkady Babchenko said. ‘ I am sorry, but there were no options here’

    ‘The operation took two months to prepare. I was told a month ago. As a result of the operation, one person has been captured’

    They’re saying the hit was ordered by the Russian security services.

  158. blf says

    Follow-up to @220, “So did they catch the people who were trying to kill him [Arkady Babchenko]?”, According to the Grauniad’s prelimiary report, maybe, Russian journalist who was reported killed turns up alive:

    Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, told reporters the agency had faked Babchenko’s death to catch people who were trying to kill him.


    Police said that they had made one arrest in connection with the operation.

    Speaking to journalists, Babchenko apologised, saying: “I have been forced to bury my friends and colleagues many times and I know the sickening feeling.”

    Apparently he had not even told his closest family members about the plan.

    “Special apologies to my wife, Olechka, there was no other option,” Babchenko said to a room of visibly stunned journalists. “The operation was under preparation for two months.”

    It was not immediately clear how Babchenko faking his death led to the apprehension of the suspect.


    This is a breaking, and as per @218, completely unexpected, development, so there is understand confusion — and elation — at the moment…

  159. says

    Trump blathered on and on to a group of wealthy donors, and while he was at it, he spilled classified information.

    In early February, there was a serious and deadly firefight in Syria that pitted U.S. forces against hundreds of pro-Syrian government forces, which reportedly included Russian mercenaries. A[…] an assault that last nearly four hours, […]

    Nearly four months after the firefight, it’s likely many Americans haven’t heard anything about it — and that’s not an accident. The White House and administration officials have said practically nothing about the skirmish since it happened.

    And yet, as Politico reported, Donald Trump apparently couldn’t help himself at a closed-door fundraiser in New York last week.

    The details of the battle remain classified, but speaking to donors in midtown Manhattan last Wednesday, Trump said he was amazed by the performance of American F-18 pilots. He suggested that the strikes may have been as brief as “10 minutes” and taken out 100 to 300 Russians, according to a person briefed on the president’s remarks, which have not previously been reported. […]

    White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah declined to comment on Trump’s remarks because information about the Syria strikes remains classified.

    […] if information about the Syria strikes remains classified, why was the president sharing information about the Syria strikes with a group of wealthy donors? […]


    Not that Trump spilling classified information is new:

    […] A year ago this week, for example, Trump had a chat with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in which the Republican shared information about dispatching two nuclear submarines off the coast of the Korean peninsula. By one account, Pentagon officials were “in shock” over Trump’s willingness to talk about the movement of U.S. submarines.

    A few weeks earlier, Trump welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak into the Oval Office – at the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin – where the American leader shared highly classified intelligence with his Russian guests. […]

  160. says

    From the Moscow Times:

    …The head of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) said that officers had detained a Ukrainian citizen who had allegedly received $40,000 to be recruited for the murder.

    The SBU said it had collected “indisputable evidence of the terrorist activity of Russian special forces in Ukraine” and that the mastermind behind the planned assassination had been arrested….

  161. says

    Follow-up to SC @207.

    An excerpt from what Trey Gowdy said:

    When the FBI comes into contact with information about what a foreign government may be doing in our election cycle, I think they have an obligation to run it out.

    Based on what I have seen, I don’t know what the FBI could have done or should have done other than run out a lead that someone loosely connected with the campaign was making assertions about Russia, I would think you would want the FBI to find out whether there was any validity to what those people were saying.

    Gowdy is one of the Republicans who will not be running for office again in the 2018 midterms. Therefore, he can sometimes tell the truth.

    When he was asked if he had seen any evidence to back up Trump’s claim of an FBI “spy” infiltrating the Trump’s campaign, Gowdy said, “I have not.”

    During his rally in Nashville last night, Trump repeated the claim that the FBI had infiltrated his campaign and had placed spies in his campaign. “Can you believe it!?” he shouted at the crowd. (See SC’s comment 216 for a link to video of the speech.)

  162. says

    Roseanne blamed Ambian:

    She tweeted, “guys I did something unforgiveable so do not defend me. It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting — it was memorial day too — i went 2 far & do not want it defended — it was egregious Indefensible. I made a mistake I wish I hadn’t but…don’t defend it please.”

    She cited Ambien again in a later tweet, saying, “Not giving excuses for what I did(tweeted) but I’ve done weird stuff while on ambien — cracked eggs on the wall at 2am etc.”

    Oddly, she later deleted all of her references to the medication. Nevertheless, Ambien became the #1 trending topic on Twitter on Wednesday morning. Barr’s explanation was deemed laughable.


    The makers of Ambient responded:

    People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.

  163. says

    Follow-up to comment 227.

    Five networks have now dropped “Roseanne” reruns. That includes Hulu: “We support ABC’s decision and are removing the show from Hulu.”

  164. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, Florida police [sic] officer suspended after saying Parkland survivor should be run over:

    Officer [sic] posted on Facebook about David Hogg, who organized protest at supermarket, in latest attack on student activists

    Albert Arenal, the Coconut Creek police chief, announced Tuesday that he had suspended the officer [sic], Brian Valenti, for five days without pay for posting a comment about David Hogg, a high school senior and survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. Hogg had organized Friday a “die-in” at the Publix supermarket chain over its support of a pro-NRA gubernatorial candidate.

    Valenti posted he hoped some old lady loses control of her car in that lot under a photo of Hogg.

    Valenti has since deleted the post. A union representative, Rod Skirvin, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel the 45-year-old veteran officer [sic] was sorry for his actions.

    Very probably BULLSHITE. This fits a well-documented pattern of policegoons and their enablers (e.g., teh thugs) advocating, legislating-for (e.g., running down protesters on the highway), and attempting / accomplishing violence against legal, protected, and civil protests.

    And a mere five days without pay is a joke punishment for advocating murder. The chief goon, Mr Arenal, appears to be as much of an enabling gobshite as the nazi under his command, and the nazi’s seemingly-unconditional backer (Mr Skirvin).

  165. says

    Oh, no. John Bolton makes things worse … again. Bolton is surrounding himself with like-minded bigots.

    National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new pick to be the National Security Council chief of staff has served for the last five years as the Senior Vice President for Policy and Programs at the Frank Gaffney-founded Center for Security Policy, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group that espouses anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.

    Frank Gaffney! Yikes. From bad to worse.

    Gaffney and the group have for years promoted anti-Muslim beliefs, including accusing government officials of being aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. […]

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group was founded by Gaffney, a former Reagan official, in 1988 and has morphed from a “hawkish think tank” to a “conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States.” CSP has also reportedly been banned from CPAC.

    How bad do you have to be, how bigoted and how steeped in conspiracy theories, to be banned from CPAC?

    Fleitz is also a former CIA analyst and frequent guest on Fox News.


    Another Fox News talking head.

  166. says

    Some of the women closest to Trump seem to have just about had it up to here [hand gesture to eyeball level]:

    White House adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump co-hosted a conference call with reporters Tuesday, walking out when she got questions she didn’t like, according to a Tuesday CBS News report.

    The call was officially in preparation for “White House Sports and Fitness Day.”

    One reporter asked Ivanka about the Chinese trademarks awarded to her company. Per Politico, an aide quickly diverted the question to the press office.

    The next reporter asked about President Donald Trump’s fitness regimen after Dr. Ronny Jackson advised him to lose some weight earlier this year. That inquiry was a bridge too far–Ivanka reportedly ducked off the call to “step out for another meeting.”

    After Ivanka’s cut and run, another reporter asked if first lady Melania Trump, who has not been seen in public since May 10, would be at the event. The press aide reportedly did not answer and Melania kept up her streak with a no-show at Tuesday’s festivities.


  167. says

    After Ivanka’s cut and run, another reporter asked if first lady Melania Trump, who has not been seen in public since May 10, would be at the event. The press aide reportedly did not answer and Melania kept up her streak with a no-show at Tuesday’s festivities.

    Serious pressure needs to be put on them to produce her. This isn’t a question of privacy but of her well-being.

  168. says

    Here’s some more stupid stuff Trump said during the rally last night in Nashville:

    In the end, Mexico is going to pay for the wall. I’m telling you. I don’t want to cause any problem, but in the end Mexico is going to pay for the wall. […]

    They’re going to pay for the wall and they’re going to enjoy it! […]

    Well, that’s new. Trump is now claiming that Mexico will enjoy paying for the wall … or, like a mob boss, Trump is saying that Mexico better pretend like they are going to enjoy paying for the wall or he will hurt them (possibly with more trade barriers).

    More scare tactics from Trump:

    If you want your communities to be safe, if you want your schools to be safe, if you want your country to be safe, then you must go out and get the Democrats the hell out of office, because there’s no common sense.

    We’re going to defend our borders and we’re going to fight hard on crime. If the Democrats take over, you won’t have a Second Amendment.

  169. says

    Giuliani made some new, (and bonkers), demands:

    […] Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani said Tuesday that Trump will not agree to an interview with the special counsel until prosecutors allow the president’s legal team to review documents related to the FBI’s use of a source to interact with members of Trump’s 2016 campaign.

    “We need all the documents before we can decide whether we are going to do an interview,” Giuliani said in an interview with The Washington Post, using Trump’s term “spygate” to refer to the FBI actions, which former officials have said were well within bounds.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] First, there’s already a bipartisan consensus that the “Spygate” conspiracy theory is baseless, and for Rudy Giuliani to pretend otherwise is pitiful.

    Second, Giuliani’s demand is impossible to defend. Trump already went too far directing federal law enforcement to brief members of Congress on a confidential human source during an ongoing investigation, and now the former mayor expects the FBI to open its files to the subject of a probe before it’s complete?

    And third, I’m starting to get the sense that maybe, just maybe, the president and his team are reluctant to fully cooperate with this investigation. [ha!]

    Trump will answer Mueller’s questions, the president’s lawyers said, but only if the interview can be done in writing.

    Trump will answer Mueller’s questions, the president’s lawyers said, but only if the special counsel agreed to end his investigation 60 days later.

    Trump will answer Mueller’s questions, the president’s lawyers said, but only if the special counsel agreed in advance to curtail the scope of the interview.

    Trump will answer Mueller’s questions, the president’s lawyers said, but only if they get unprecedented access to private FBI files in advance. […]

  170. says

    On the Babchenko story:

    Whatever was gained by this stunt, I fear far more was lost. Triumph of hall-of-mirrors, fake-newsification of everything, which by definition can only harm trust in media, police, everybody.

    I keep seeing this take, and…come on. There are literally whole episodes of true-crime shows in the US about women who’ve worked with the police to fake their own murders in order to catch a husband plotting to kill them (and numerous variations on the theme). It’s certainly a reasonable approach to assassination plots in general.

  171. blf says

    Some of the women closest to Trump seem to have just about had it up to here {hand gesture to eyeball level}

    Many of those people have dug a very deep pit and are already amongst the creepy crawling sulfur-emiting money-grabbing slime infesting hair furorland, so up to eyeball level lacks impact, sincerity, and any comprehension of moral / legal high ground. They haven’t just burnt their bridges, they’ve carpet bombed the terrain.

  172. says

    As far as I understand it, Judge Wood thinks Cohen’s team is taking too long reviewing the documents, and she’s given them until June 15th to finish or any remaining documents won’t go to the special master (who continues to work at a brisk pace) but to the privilege team.

  173. blf says

    There’s another child raping cult scandal in Ireland, illegal adoptions, or more accurately, the selling of infants. This one has been known about for decades (There may be 15,000 illegal adoptions, Barnardos head claims†), but for reasons I admit are unclear (to me)‡, is only now attracting sustained attention, Irish PM apologises to 126 people illegally adopted decades ago.

    Apologies for the lack of excerpts, I’m currently having some purely-local problems connecting to the Irish Times, which is where the best information / reporting (that am I aware of) on these issues can be found.

      † There is actually a far more damning synopsis of the long attempts to bring the problem to official notice & action (also in the Irish Times), but I cannot find the link now. (Sorry !) Broadly, from (recent) memory, the Irish Times itself was publishing articles on the problem decades ago (1980s?), and activists were holding meetings with politicians — every government since about that time to the present day. Essentially nothing happened.

      ‡ The catalyst seems to be yet another scandal involving the treatment of women in Ireland, the diagnosis of cervical cancer. As I currently understand it, tests, whilst administered, were routinely(?) ignored(?); that is, positive results not followed-up, and the women involved not even informed (or informed hap-haphazardly or years later).

  174. blf says

    Follow-up to @184/@190, UK journalist Richard Madeley writes about that interview with the utterly clewless defence secretary, Cutting short Gavin Williamson was the most popular thing I’ve ever done:

    I’m tired of obfuscation and evasion. Now I’ve got a new rule for interviewing politicians: three strikes and you’re out

    I freely admit that I was one of those who thought Gavin Williamson’s Shut up and go away instruction to the Kremlin after the Salisbury nerve-agent attack was risible. Defence secretary as petulant pre-adolescent. Not a good image.

    [… synopsis of the interview …]

    Another sober nod of apparent comprehension; a third utterly shameless, droning obfuscation. I closed my eyes and spoke to him the way you might to a recalcitrant schoolchild, very slowly and distinctly. “Minister. The question is — I’ll try it one more time — DO YOU. REGRET. USING. CASUAL. TRUMP-ESQUE LANGUAGE. LIKE Shut up and go away?”

    More unabashed talking around the topic. The shamelessness was breathtaking. Enough of this crap, I decided. “You’re not going to answer, are you? OK. All right. Interview terminated.”

    Judging by his expression, this was not the outcome our defence secretary was expecting. But it wasn’t the one I was, either. I’ve been hosting live network news and discussion programmes for 30 years and I’ve never pulled the plug on anyone before. And I think that tells you something. It tells you how bad things have got; how well drilled today’s politicians have become at evasion, obfuscation and manipulation during interviews.

    Fundamentally, it’s a control issue. By contumaciously refusing to answer my questions, Williamson was sending out the subtle but crystal-clear message: You’re not running this interview, Madeley. I am. I’ll decide what we do and don’t talk about, not you. Trust me, I can stall you until the credits roll.[]

    I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to my snap decision to unceremoniously boot the defence secretary off air; in the news media, social media and on the street. […]

    As far as I am currently aware, the obfuscating eejit (Williamson) has neither responded-to, nor even acknowledged, the incident.

      † Set in eejit quotes because, despite being an imagined quote, Mr Madeley is correct, it is what the utterly clewless eejit was trying to do.

  175. says

    This is how Trump is setting up his base to embrace yet another conspiracy theory, one meant to explain away the fact that Republicans are likely to lose bigly in the midterm elections:

    Trump yesterday alleged that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team “will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections.” He offered no evidence, because none exists.

    NBC News link

  176. says

    From Steve Benen:

    At a campaign rally in Tennessee last night, Trump attacked Hillary Clinton; his audience chanted, “Lock her up!”; and the president complained about an event Jay Z held in support of Clinton’s candidacy. Trump added that he enjoyed bigger crowds than the entertainer. The 2016 election, in case anyone’s curious, was 567 days ago.

    From Steve Benen, on the subject of Nunes:

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is taking in a considerable amount of money ahead of his re-election fight, but the Fresno Bee reports that when it comes to contributions from individual donors, only about 2% of the money came from his own district.

    Speaking of the Golden State, the Sacramento Bee reports that voters with no party preference now outnumber Republicans in California.

  177. blf says

    Re @243, as pointed out in @175, hair furor also used a loaded term and accused the Democrats of collusion. With who. when, or about what he is not quoted / reported as bellowing.

  178. says

    Topher Spiro:

    BREAKING: The Virginia Senate just voted to expand Medicaid. Virginia will be the 34th state (including DC) to expand Medicaid. This is a major victory that will transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of families.

    Elections have consequences: The blue wave that swept Virginia made this victory possible after many years of GOP opposition.

    Elections have consequences: To get enough GOP votes, this Medicaid expansion includes a work requirement and premiums above the poverty line, which will cut into coverage gains. Virginia must continue the fight.

    Voters overwhelmingly want to expand health care, not repeal it. This November, Medicaid expansion is on the ballot in Utah and Idaho. And repeal is on the ballot in every congressional race across the country.

  179. says

    Trump seems determined to turn European Union countries into enemies.

    President Trump is intensifying hostilities in his global trade war, as the United States nears a clash with the European Union over multiple tariffs, Washington’s efforts to prevent multinational businesses from trading with Iran and a new digital privacy policy.

    Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross introduced a fresh element into the strained transatlantic ties Tuesday when he complained that the E.U.’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect last week, will prompt major changes in American companies’ responsibilities to protect consumers’ privacy.

    “GDPR’s implementation could significantly interrupt transatlantic cooperation and create unnecessary barriers to trade, not only for the US but for everyone outside the EU,” Ross wrote in an op-ed for the Financial Times. “We do not have a clear understanding of what is required to comply.”

    […] On Friday, the EU’s exemption from U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs expires, […] the administration has given no sign it plans to grant an extension.

    Trump also recently threatened to impose tariffs on imported automobiles, which would hit Germany, Europe’s largest economy, especially hard. And European companies will be affected by the reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran, […].

    As those sanctions — designed to isolate Iran’s banks and weaken its economy — are implemented this summer, European companies will face a choice between trading with Iranian customers or enjoying access to the U.S. financial system. “European companies will scream and that will be a bigger crisis than the steel tariffs,” said William Reinsch, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s a struggle of will, and it’s a struggle of law.”

    The commercial stakes are enormous. American businesses last year exported $283 billion of goods to the E.U., more than twice the total they shipped to China, while customers in the U.S. purchased nearly $435 billion in products from European companies. […]

    Washington Post link

  180. says

    Another story about ICE agents being unreasonable:

    On May 21, Mary Caceres (whose name has been changed to protect her privacy) appeared at a routine check-in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Jacksonville, Florida. By the end of the day, the 56-year-old mother with no criminal record was wearing an orange jumpsuit and sitting in a detention facility.

    The day of her check-in, Caceres received a letter stating that she had been granted a year-long temporary work visa from May 15, 2018 to May 15, 2019. So when she arrived at her meeting, she already had a valid work visa. ICE agents, however, claimed she had missed a check-in meeting. She did, but only because the immigration lawyer in charge of her case committed suicide and she never received the notifications ICE sent directly to the lawyer.

    ICE maintained that she was intentionally hiding from authorities and commuted her work visa to just 3 months and placed a tracking device on her ankle — a common practice among ICE agents. While testing the device outside, ICE agents informed her that they had changed their minds and that she would be detained the same day.

    […] ICE spokesperson Nestor Ygelsias doubled down on the Trump administration’s policy to “no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”

    “Mary [Caceres] entered the country on a nonimmigrant visa in September 2005, but failed to depart in accordance with the terms of her admission. On Feb. 15, 2011 an immigration judge issued her a final order of removal, and ICE arrested her May 21 pursuant to the judge’s order.

    As Director Homan has stated, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.” […]

    Think Progress link

    More at the link.

  181. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Trump’s speech in Nashville last night:

    Donald Trump shambled out onto the stage of the not-actually-full Municipal Auditorium in Nashville Tuesday night to do one of his campaign rally things, ostensibly to help the Senate campaign of US Rep. Marsha Blackburn, but mostly because he needs to know that everyone at a Trump rally still loves him. It was the same familiar mix of lies and race-baiting that got him elected, and if you want to hurt your brain you can watch the whole sorry spectacle in the video up top. It’s worth looking at, if only to remind you of just how disjointed and stream-of-whine-nationalism Trump is at these things. He had a teleprompter, but as usual, mostly just went riffing off in random directions.

    The pandering was deep, albeit weird — early on, Trump said he just loves country music, which we’ve never seen any evidence of. He might just mean that one Toby Keith song that is now in your poor head, too.

    After introducing Sen. Bob Corker (and that guy needs to decide what the hell he is doing), to boos from the audience, Trump said Marsha Blackburn would be a great successor, and, proving he knows his audience, said of the former two-term Nashville mayor and two-term Tennessee governor who’s running on the Democratic ticket, “Phil Bredesen — I’ve never heard of this guy. Who is he? Who is he?!” As we noted in our Senate Sunday profile, Bredesen is much better-liked in Tennessee than Blackburn, […]

    Trump used the occasion to try out a new nickname for Nancy Pelosi, calling her “”the MS-13 lover. She loves MS-13, can you imagine?” That’s a perfectly accurate description of Pelosi’s condemnation of Trump’s conflation of all immigrants with MS-13, after all. […]

    In what seems to be either a new bit or something recycled from the campaign, Trump explained that NOBODY went to Hillary’s rallies, but when they did, they only showed up to see Jay-Z, whose awful f-words made Donald Trump look like a very “clean-cut” serial sexual assaulter […]

  182. says

    From NBC White House correspondent Geoff Bennett:

    Trump, in Nashville, says African Americans have blindly voted for Democrats “for over a hundred years.” If only black folks had the right to vote for that long …

  183. says

    “George Osborne’s London Evening Standard sells its editorial independence to Uber, Google and others – for £3 million”:

    London’s Evening Standard newspaper, edited by the former chancellor George Osborne, has agreed a £3 million deal with six leading commercial companies, including Google and Uber, promising them “money-can’t-buy” positive news and “favourable” comment coverage, openDemocracy can reveal.

    The project, called London 2020, is being directed by Osborne. It effectively sweeps away the conventional ethical divide between news and advertising inside the Standard – and is set to include “favourable” news coverage of the firms involved, with readers unable to differentiate between “news” that is paid-for and other commercially-branded content.

    Leading companies, most operating global businesses, were given detailed sales presentations by Evening Standard executives at the newspaper’s west London offices in an effort to sign them up to the lucrative deal.

    Among those that have paid half a million pounds each to be involved are international taxi-app firm Uber, which is facing an imminent court appeal against the decision to cancel its licence to operate in London. The Evening Standard has previously come under fire for not declaring Osborne’s £650,000-a-year part time job with the fund managers BlackRock, who hold a £500m stake in Uber.

    The global tech giant, Google, still recovering from reputational damage over its low UK tax bills and criticism over its close relationship to the Cameron-Osborne government, has also signed up.

    Some companies, including Starbucks, walked away from the Evening Standard’s pitch, rejecting the offer of paying to boost their reputations through tailored news and comment.

    London 2020 is scheduled to start on June 5. Unbranded news stories, expected to be written by staff reporters – but paid for by the new commercial “partners” as part of the 2020 deal – have already been planned for inclusion in the paper’s news pages within a week of the project’s launch.

    London 2020 involves six “themed projects” running for two years. These include politicised initiatives on clean air, plastic pollution, schools and workplace tech and a project designed to address London’s housing crisis. The six 2020 “partners” have each paid half a million pounds to head projects that will be sold to Standard readers as “improving London for the benefit of all.”

    In language lifted directly from Osborne’s years as head of the UK Treasury in David Cameron’s government, the project was presented to potential partners as aiming to highlight London as an “innovative and economic powerhouse” which is “fit for the future”.

    The paid-for campaigns will conclude close to the date of the next London mayoral elections in 2020. Partners have been promised the Standard will be “dedicated to delivering” the aims of the six projects over the next two years.

    Uber, for its half-million fee, will be given the branded lead role in the “clean air project” which is supposed to highlight the benefits of “cleaner transport” and of turning London “electric” by 2020.

    Google’s fee will cover parts of the schools and work tech projects. Both involve the promised promotion of digital skills and the development of a “network of digital training hubs.”

    Earlier this year openDemocracy exposed a similar paid-for deal at the Evening Standard involving the Swiss bio-chem and agriculture company, Syngenta. Positive news coverage and skewed public debates were part of the arrangement with the commercial division of the Standard, ESI Media.

    Staff news reporters were involved in the Syngenta coverage which included telling Standard readers how GM crops would help solve the world’s food problems – without mentioning ESI’s lucrative deal with the GM-producing giant Syngenta.

    ESI Media, owned by the Moscow-based based oligarch, Alexander Lebedev and run in London by his son Evgeny, also governs the UK’s online Independent newspaper, which is located in the same Kensington office as the Standard.

    The group commercial director of ESI, Jon O’Donnell, has previously said ESI no longer sees itself as just involved in advertising, but was now a “media business”. O’Donnell has also said the once “strict divide between the so-called ‘church and state’ [editorial and advertising] was doing more harm than good.”…

  184. says

    Things went swimmingly at the OECD Forum. The Trump people blocked the release of the usual statement at the end* [article in French] because it rejected protectionism and addressed climate change. Wilbur Ross basically sniffed at the whole discussion of multilateralism. Also, Trump is also threatening tariffs on Friday.

    * Evidently last year there were two closing statements – one from the US and another from the other 33 countries.

  185. says

    “Afraid of your own shadow” is the perfect description of many people, and not just in the media. Responding to the Babchenko story, Michelle Wolf’s comedy routine, Trump’s lies, accusations from the Right,… Anything short of utter timidity and even bending over backwards in favor of people who are acting in immense bad faith and treating this as a war is recoiled from.

  186. blf says

    A snark† of cartoons in the Grauniad (in no particular order):

    ● Chris Riddell, Tory Brexit teeters on the brink: “Weighed down by economic forecasts and the Irish border question, what are the chances of this pig flying?”

    ● Steve Bell, Russian oligarchs’ burgeoning economy

    ● First Dog on the Moon, Sunday morning with the Trumps: “What happened to the 1,475 missing immigrant children?” This cartoon is obviously inspired by that Ivanka Trump twittered image, Is Ivanka the worst Trump? Her tweeted portrait of ‘perfect motherhood’ seals it for me:

    Does anyone believe the media-savvy first daughter mistimed her tweet — just as reports emerge of children being forcibly separated from their parents by US borders agents?

    I’m generally a big believer in Hanlon’s Razor: the idea that you should never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by stupidity. But I’d like to put forward a slightly different theorem to help explain these Trumpian times: Ivanka’s Razor. The principle that, when it comes to Ivanka Trump, you should never ascribe to stupidity or ignorance that which can be explained by malice.

    [… D]espite memorably saying she tries to stay out of politics, she has enthusiastically thrown herself into her unelected role in the White House and is an integral part of the administration. Indeed, both she and her husband Jared Kushner received full security clearance earlier this month. She is not passively complicit in the Trump administration’s policies; she is an active architect.

    So, when Ivanka tweeted that photo on Sunday, I don’t think it was a gaffe — I think she knew exactly what she was doing. Which was playing to Trump’s specific base; reminding them that it’s white families like hers — like theirs — who are important, not the brown families who Trump is breaking up; using the image of herself as a loving mother to provide a human face to Trump’s inhumane administration.

    [… T]he Ivanka Trump brand received approval for a number of trademark applications from China which, experts and watchdogs say, raise significant concerns about corruption. It seems that Ivanka Trump’s business, from which she has not properly divested, received these approvals just days before Trump announced he was reversing a US ban on ZTE, a Chinese telecom firm. It is possible, of course, that this timing was just coincidence and not a shady deal. However, that brings me to the second part of Ivanka’s Razor: when it comes to the Trumps, never attribute to coincidence that which can be explained by corruption.

    See @155 for more on the China trademark possible-bribe.

      † I have no idea what the collective noun for cartoons is, so I hereby proposedecree it to “snark”.

  187. chigau (違う) says

    I do not like living in TheMatrix™
    Anyone offering me any pill of any colour will get a knee in the crotch.

  188. says

    Important thread by Kathy Griffin.

    (I’ll point out one thing: For all the insight she has into what happened, she appears to continue to believe that Trump or his family members were in some way offended by the image. They weren’t. Their claims of offense, outrage, and victimization in this and all other instances are cynical bad faith and manipulation, used as a pretext for their own aggression and the aggression they cheerfully incite in others.

    Maxine Waters was on Chris Hayes last night, incisive as always, and said something crucial. Asked about whether Sessions’ recusal and his withstanding Trump’s abuse has led her to think differently about him, she began her answer with “I know who he is.” She’s got their number. She’s had it all along. Far too many in politics and the media can’t seem to arrive at or hold onto that knowledge, but it’s fundamental.)

  189. says

    “Rajoy’s future in doubt as Spanish PM faces no-confidence debate”:

    The future of the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, is hanging in the balance as parliament has begun debating a motion of no-confidence tabled after his People’s party (PP) was found to have profited from a huge kickbacks-for-contracts scheme.

    The no-confidence vote, scheduled to take place on Friday, is likely to be very close. The socialists need the support of 176 of the 350 MPs in congress of deputies. The votes of the five MPs of the Basque Nationalist party (PNV) will prove decisive, with the party saying it would meet and hear what the PSOE leader, Pedro Sánchez, had to say before announcing its decision.

    Sánchez called for “democratic regeneration” as he sought the backing of MPs, saying: “Resign, Mr Rajoy. Your time is up.”

    He said Rajoy had failed to accept responsibility for the PP’s corruption, which was made public last week when one of its former treasurers was sentenced to 33 years in prison for fraud and money laundering. The party itself was fined €240,000 (£210,000) after judges at Spain’s highest criminal court ruled that it had benefited from the kickbacks racket.

    If Sánchez’s motion is approved, he will become the next prime minister. Although the socialist leader has promised to call a general election if he succeeds Rajoy, he has said his party would first spend a few months concentrating on social and educational reforms before taking the country to the polls.

    However, given the diverse priorities of the parties that could propel him to power, Sánchez’s minority government would probably struggle to work effectively in the interim.

    Should the motion fail, Rajoy would remain in office but would be vulnerable to similar attempts to remove him from power. Both Podemos and Ciudadanos have said they will propose their own motions of no confidence in the hope of triggering a general election in the autumn….

  190. says

    Update to #s 255 and 258 above: Ross announced that the tariffs on US allies the EU, Canada, and Mexico will go into effect at midnight.

    Jean-Claude Juncker: “It’s a bad day for world trade. US leaves us no choice but to proceed with a WTO dispute settlement case and the imposition of additional duties on a number of US imports. We will defend the EU’s interests, in full compliance with international trade law.”

  191. says

    EU Trade Commissioner @MalmstromEU: ‘Throughout these talks, the US has sought to use the threat of trade restrictions as leverage to obtain concessions from the EU. This is not the way we do business, and certainly not between longstanding partners, friends and allies’.”

    (Her full statement is at the link @ #271.)

  192. says

    Trump tweeted this morning:

    Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia! The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!

    Oh dear. [head/desk]

    Here is Steve Benen’s take on this:

    […] the first line from the White House was that the president ousted Comey based on the recommendations of the Justice Department, where Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote a memo criticizing the FBI director’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

    Trump soon after rejected his own team’s version of events, freely admitting during an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt that he was motivated by concerns about the Russia scandal when he decided to oust Comey from his FBI post.

    “When I decided to just do it [fire Comey], I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story,” Trump said in May 2017.

    About the same time as the interview, Sarah Huckabee Sanders also told reporters that by firing Comey, the White House had “taken steps” to end the investigation into the Russia scandal.

    Soon after, the president told Russian visitors during an Oval Office meeting that the Comey firing relieved “pressure” he was feeling from the scandal.

    Or put another way, news organizations “keep pushing” this version of events because Trump admitted it’s true.

    So why is it, exactly, that the president is denying reality? Is it part of a legal strategy to avoid obstruction-of-justice charges? Does he genuinely not remember his own public comments?

    Does Trump assume Americans are easily fooled? Does he not realize that we can easily look this stuff up?


  193. says

    From Zakariah Johnson:

    Trump’s power is based on performative cruelty. That is what his supporters voted for–not for any policy, and not for any other principle than to do the worst thing to people outside the fold at every opportunity. He is loathsome, but he’s also keeping his promises.

    From Josh Marshall:

    The D’Souza pardon affirms a basic point: the heart of Trumpism is not any policy but performative cruelty, inflicting maximum harm on those outside the tribal fold, and extending the benefits of power and the powers of state for those inside the fold. D’Souza is a loyalist so he gets rewarded with the prerogative power at the President’s discretion. The rationale isn’t legal. It is not in spite of but because of D’Souza’s racism and aggression. It is as simple as that.

  194. blf says

    Swedish orchestra turns homophobic hate mail into music:

    After receiving homophobic hate mail over a concert that included music by LGBT composers, a Swedish orchestra has responded by turning the messages into music.

    The anonymous letter to the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra initially praised the great setting and fine wine served during the show, but went on to say the performance had made the sender want to vomit, and that the orchestra was hopping aboard the fag train. The writer said they would cancel their membership at the concert hall.

    The composer Fredrik Österling wrote earlier in the year that the anonymous nature of the five-paragraph letter made it difficult to respond to the person or people sending it — but then the tenor Rickard Söderberg suggested turning it into music.


    The resulting cantata, Bögtåget (“The fag train”), was premiered by the orchestra on 26 May, as part of a performance that also featured the German composer Robert Schumann’s Frauen-Liebe und Leben. The latter was performed with a new orchestral arrangement by Österling, and sung by a man, changing the theme from a woman’s love over time for her husband to a more universal expression of life-long love in a relationship.


    Unfortunately, there is no video of the actual performance at the link (I have not searched for one).

  195. says

    A lot of people have pointed out Dinesh D’Souza’s racist and misogynistic statements. Here is a short summary from Mark Sumner:

    […] Dinesh D’Souza is best known for his vile right-wing propaganda films and his even more vile political statements. D’Souza has blamed progressives for causing 9/11, blamed feminism for violence against women, argued that the founders actually meant for America to be a Christian theocracy, and wrote an entire book about how the Democratic Party came from Nazis.

    And, of course, D’Souza hates President Obama. In addition to three anti-Obama books, D’Souza may best be known for his film about how Obama secretly hates America and was only running for president so he could destroy the country—a film that earned high praise as “a slick infomercial” and “a cavalcade of conspiracy theories.”

    D’Souza openly flouted the law, was clearly guilty, and pleaded guilty. But, he hates Obama. That alone is probably enough to merit a pardon from Trump. But there’s a bonus: D’Souza was investigated and charged by United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara. A chance to snub Obama, Bharara, justice, and common decency all in one shot? Donald Trump can’t pass that up. […]

  196. says

    Follow-up to comment 285.

    From Preet Bharara:

    The President has the right to pardon but the facts are these: D’Souza intentionally broke the law, voluntarily pled guilty, apologized for his conduct & the judge found no unfairness. The career prosecutors and agents did their job. Period.

    A lot of rightwing media outlets are identifying D’Souza as a “scholar.”

  197. says

    From Shaun King:


    Testimony from @dallascowboys owner Jerry Jones just leaked from his deposition in the Colin Kaepernick NFL collusion case.

    He implicates Trump in a crime and says Trump told him not to let it go because it was good for him politically.

    Jerry Jones just testified under oath that the President of the United States violated 18 US Code 227 and specifically told him what policy he wanted and said it was important because it was good for him politically.

    Jones openly admits Trump is using the NFL for political gain […]


  198. says

    Saad @284, a very high ranking official from North Korea met with Mike Pompeo in New York City. Now it is beginning to look like Trump might let Kim Jong Chol into the White House. Kim Jong Chol is on the U.S. sanctions list for various crimes. I can’t figure out how he even got into the USA.

    Officials say Kim Yong Chol’s meeting in New York marks the highest-level visit to the United States by a North Korean in 18 years, aimed at salvaging the summit.

    Officials say Kim Yong Chol’s meeting in New York marks the highest-level visit to the United States by a North Korean in 18 years, aimed at salvaging the summit.

    Their talks — and the possibility that the two men are forging a personal rapport — could prove pivotal to the prospects of a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un aimed at ridding Pyongyang of its nuclear program, according to analysts.

    “It’s much more about personal relations, because I know how much value [the North Koreans] put into this,” said Mickey Bergman, a veteran negotiator with North Koreans and vice president of the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, a nonprofit organization dedicated to securing the release of political prisoners around the world.

    Kim is one of North Korea’s most powerful behind-the-scenes figures and an ultimate regime survivalist, according to diplomats and former intelligence officials. His emergence as the face of North Korea’s diplomacy with Washington suggests he has unusual influence in a country that revolves almost exclusively around leader Kim Jong Un.

    The 73-year-old Kim, who is the vice chairman of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party, has served three generations of North Korean dictators. He managed to survive a deadly wave of purges that felled many of his counterparts in the top echelons of North Korean government after Kim Jong Un assumed office in 2011.

    “Kim Jong Un came to power and purged hundreds of people. This guy not only survived the purge but managed to become his right-hand guy,” said Sue Mi Terry, a former CIA analyst who is now a senior fellow for Korea at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. […]


    Trump turned the meeting with Kim Kardashian into a photo op … no substance. Trump claimed he discussed justice reform and sentencing guidelines, but really that was Jared Kushner’s agenda for a meeting with Kardashian. Trump did not pardon a 60+ year old grandmother with no priors and one drug conviction, as Kardashian was asking. Instead, Trump pardoned D’Souza.

  199. says

    This will make Russia happy:

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed on Thursday to recover the country’s territory held by U.S. troops, threatening to expel American forces.

    “This is the first option. If not, we’re going to resort to liberating those areas by force. We don’t have any other options, with the Americans or without the Americans,” Assad told RT in an interview.

    “This is our land, it’s our right, and it’s our duty to liberate it. The Americans should leave, somehow they’re going to leave,” he continued. “They came to Iraq with no legal basis, and look what happened to them. They have to learn the lesson. Iraq is no exception, and Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore,” he continued. […]


  200. says

    Trump flew to Dallas today to visit families of shooting victims. Here is part of what he said before taking off from Joint Base Andrews:

    We’re going to Dallas and Houston and we will have a little fun today.

    In broader context:

    I just want to tell you we’re doing very well with North Korea … a letter is going to be delivered to me from Kim Jong Un, so I look forward to seeing what’s in the letter,” Trump said. “…Other than that, the economy is good, stock market is up, a lot of jobs, best unemployment we’ve had in many, many decades actually. And we’re going to Dallas and Houston and we will have a little fun today.”

    Even in context, it is still heinous to equate “fun” with visiting families who are grieving.

  201. blf says

    From lack of women in boardrooms to #MeToo, I’m bored with male excuses:

    Women don’t want the pressure is the business world’s version of: Well, she was wearing a short skirt

    The age of #MeToo has also become the age of the excuse. The two come together, naturally: I didn’t know she was uncomfortable; she did come to my hotel room; that was the culture then.

    We also saw it when the [UK’s] gender pay gap data came out, men (it is almost always men) in these companies first denied it existed altogether and then, faced with the numbers, merely offered shoddy excuses.

    Now the excuse-mongers are out in force again: this time they feature in the government’s report on the lack of women in boardrooms, with the reasons given by companies for the disparity labelled “pitiful and patronising” by the business minister Andrew Griffiths. Do these firms use the same staff members to provide their lame explanations, one wonders, or have other men been promoted for the task?

    Excuses given included such gems as: Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board, and: There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board — the issues covered are extremely complex. […]

    […] The excuses from FTSE [a UK share index] firms are particularly provocative. I feel sorry for the women working under these men, busting their arses every single day, working long hours, trying to climb the ladder, while the men in charge of them simply say women can’t take the pressure, that the issues are too complicated for their little lady brains, that there are no good women left … But we should be wary of focusing only on the out-and-out dinosaurs here. As Philip Hampton, who has challenged all FTSE 350 companies to make sure at least a third of their board members and leadership are women by 2020, said: “Leaders expressing warm words of support but actually doing very little to appoint women into top jobs — or quietly blocking progress — are really not much better.”

    […] A male-dominated board and management structure simply doesn’t have a place in the 21st century. […]

  202. says

    “Jerry Falwell Jr. And A Young Pool Attendant Are Embroiled In A Lawsuit Over A Miami Beach Hostel”:

    …Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen, who is now facing a federal criminal investigation, helped arrange Falwell Jr.’s endorsement of Trump in January 2016, BuzzFeed News has learned.

    The relationship between Cohen and Falwell Jr. has not been previously reported, but the two have been acquainted since 2012, according to a source with direct knowledge of Falwell’s decision to endorse Trump. The source, a high-ranking official at Liberty University, said that Falwell Jr. occasionally visited Cohen’s office in New York City but that there was no business relationship between the two men.

    According to a separate source with knowledge of Trump’s campaign, Cohen was so confident in Falwell Jr.’s support that he and Trump assured others, even before Trump announced his candidacy, that Falwell Jr. would issue an endorsement.

    During the Republican presidential primary, the religious right had other options: candidates such as Sen. Ted Cruz, the son of an evangelical preacher; Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist preacher; and Sen. Marco Rubio, who ran a campaign ad declaring that “the purpose of our life is to cooperate with God’s plan.”

    In January 2016, when Trump’s candidacy was still considered a long shot and he had almost no brand-name evangelical support, Falwell Jr.’s endorsement “marked a turning point for the entire religious right,” said Randall Balmer, a Dartmouth University religion professor who studies the evangelical movement….

    Even before his formal endorsement, Falwell Jr. had already spoken in flattering terms about Trump. He told students at Liberty University during a Trump visit in early January 2016, “In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others, as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment.”

    It was Michael Cohen who reached out to Falwell Jr. to urge him to actually endorse Trump during that visit, according to the source familiar with Falwell’s decision. He reached out to Falwell Jr. again after the visit to remind him he had agreed to endorse Trump, the source wrote in an email to BuzzFeed News.

    There is no indication that federal investigators are interested in Cohen’s relationship with Falwell Jr.*

    The source familiar with Falwell’s endorsement decision says that he is “sure” Falwell discussed the Florida lawsuit with Cohen.**

    * Although the Kremlin clearly worked hard to infiltrate and co-opt the Religious Right. Also, this passage from Russian Roulette still might be relevant:

    One reason Trump’s hoped-for meeting with the Russian president [at the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013] never materialized was his attention to another project. Trump was originally scheduled to spend two nights in Moscow—which would have yielded a wider window for a get-together with Putin. But Trump had decided to attend the celebration of evangelist Billy Graham’s 95th birthday on November 7 at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. In Russia, Trump told [Rob] Goldstone that it had been necessary for him to show up at the Graham event: “There is something I’m planning down the road, and it’s really important.”

    Goldstone knew exactly what Trump was talking about: a run for the White House. Franklin Graham, the evangelist’s son, was an influential figure among religious conservatives. When Trump two years earlier was championing birtherism—the baseless conspiracy theory that Barack Obama had been born in Kenya and was ineligible to be president—Graham joined the birther bandwagon, raising questions about the president’s birth certificate. Appearing at this event and currying favor with Franklin Graham was a mandatory stop for Trump, if he was serious about seeking the Republican presidential nomination. And it paid off: Trump and his wife Melania were seated at the VIP table along with Rupert Murdoch and Sarah Palin. Franklin Graham later said that Trump was among those who “gave their hearts to Christ” that night.

    ** I’m not sure what BuzzFeed is trying to do by connecting these two stories. There must be a connection, but I’m unclear as to what it is.

  203. says

    There were also reports at some point about Trump making large donations to Religious Right organizations in the years leading up to the 2016 campaign. Can’t remember where I read it, though.

  204. says

    Rudy takes a whack at Gowdy, telling @DanaBashCNN: ‘He’s drinking the Kool-Aid’, Giuliani said about Gowdy. ‘I never understood what he did with Benghazi [investigation] either. He really screwed that up. I don’t know what he was doing’. Gowdy’s office declined to comment.”

    Hey cowardly Republicans in congress – they’re making a move against you. Heads up.

  205. blf says

    Trump making large donations to Religious Right organizations

    That sounds a bit odd — hair furor is not known for donating. Claiming to donate, yes, actually following through… not so much (unless the cause / “charity” is run by him?).

    (A quick search finds some possibly-related hits at sites like the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune — which, unfortunately, are being arseholes about geolocated EU sites (see @159), so I’m uncertain what is reported.)
    Real Clear Politics reports a $10,000 donation in 2011 to Oran Smith’s Palmetto Family Council, Trump Used Foundation Funds for 2016 Run, Filings Suggest (Oct-2016), and $100,000 to Billy Graham’s Evangelistic Association in 2012, and similar. All(?) were made by hair furor’s foundation, which — returning to my point — hair furor himself is not known to have funded for something like ten years now.

  206. says

    Follow-up to comment 286.

    From Dinesh D’Souza, in response to Preet Bharara:

    KARMA IS A BITCH DEPT: @PreetBharara wanted to destroy a fellow Indian American to advance his career. Then he got fired & I got pardoned.

    Bharara & his goons bludgeoned me into the plea by threatening to add a second redundant charge carrying a prison term of FIVE YEARS […]

    [added later in an interview]: With regard to Preet Bharara, I see him with along with Eric Holder as part of this Obama team of goons that was unleashed to get me in retaliation for the movie I made about Obama.

    I think Bharara’s was that he would prove by getting a fellow Indian he would endear himself to the Obama team. Preet Bharara got fired by Trump and I got pardoned, so that’s how it all ended up.

  207. says

    That sounds a bit odd — hair furor is not known for donating. Claiming to donate, yes, actually following through… not so much (unless the cause / “charity” is run by him?).

    That’s the thing – RR organizations aren’t charities; they’re political weapons and self-enrichment vehicles. Donations to them are best characterized as bribes. Trump is known for those.

  208. says

    A Fox News host tells a little bit of truth … again. I hope this truth-telling trend continues, even if it is in dribs and drabs.

    Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume fact-checked President Trump on Thursday regarding the president’s assertion that he didn’t fire former FBI Director James Comey because of the bureau’s Russia investigation.

    Hume reminded the president on Twitter that he cited the probe as the reason for Comey’s dismissal during a May 2017 interview with NBC’s Lester Holt. “Oh for Pete’s sake. POTUS told NBC the firing was about the Russia probe.”


  209. says

    More details that reveal Dinesh D’Souza’s character (or lack thereof):

    D’Souza tweeted in February 2015 a photo of President Obama playfully trying out a selfie stick. D’Souza added this caption:

    YOU CAN TAKE THE BOY OUT OF THE GHETTO…Watch this vulgar man show his stuff, while America cowers in embarrassment

    I know Obama wasn’t actually raised in a ghetto–I’m using the term metaphorically, to suggest his unpresidential conduct

    Excerpts from D’Souza’s book “The End of Racism” (1995):
    “Was slavery a racist institution? No. Slavery was practiced for thousands of years in virtually all societies … Thus slavery is neither distinctively Western nor racist.”

    “In summary, the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well.”

    “Am I calling for a repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Actually, yes. The law should be changed so that its nondiscrimination provisions apply only to the government.”

    “Racism originated not in ignorance and fear but as part of an enlightened enterprise of intellectual discovery.”

    “The main contemporary obstacle facing African Americans is neither white racism, as many liberals claim, nor black genetic deficiency, as Charles Murray and others imply. Rather it involves destructive and pathological cultural patterns of behavior: excessive reliance on government, conspiratorial paranoia about racism, a resistance to academic achievement as ‘acting white,’ a celebration of the criminal and outlaw as authentically black, and the normalization of illegitimacy and dependency.”

    On another subject: What is D’Souza’s view of Barack Obama?

    Not positive! D’Souza has a distinctive grand unifying theory of Obama, expressed in a 2010 Forbes feature; his books The Roots of Obama’s Rage, America: Imagine a World Without Her, and Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream; and his two documentaries. He rejects the frequent conservative attack that Obama is a European-style (or perhaps Alinskyan) socialist at heart, arguing instead that Obama is best understood through the lens of anticolonialism, in particular Kenya’s struggle against British imperialism.

    Obama was taught by his father, D’Souza argues, to view the US as an imperialist actor trampling upon states both through outright war (as in Vietnam or Iraq) and through economic exploitation, a natural successor to the more formal role that the British Empire played in much of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. “From a very young age and through his formative years, Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction,” D’Souza writes. “He came to view America’s military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation. He adopted his father’s position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder.” […]


    Much more at the link.

  210. says

    Donald Trump’s Net Worth Has Fallen for the Second Year In a Row, Bloomberg Says

    Donald Trump’s fortune has shrunk for the second year in a row, dipping to $2.8 billion as business faltered at his golf courses and midtown Manhattan properties, according to a new analysis by Bloomberg.

    The decline hasn’t been huge. Trump’s net worth only shed $100 million last year, according to the analysis. Bloomberg pegged the size of his real estate and branding empire at $3 billion in 2015, when the financial wire service began estimating the figure.

    One of the biggest trouble spots, though, was Trump’s beloved Trump Tower on Fifth Ave., which has struggled with lower occupancy rates and provided the news media a handy metaphor for the state of American politics when one of its floors burst into flames not long ago.

    Trump’s 16 golf courses were a mixed bag; some saw revenue increases and others decreases, but overall they lost $70 million in value. Among the casualties: Trump’s Winter White House, aka Mar-a-lago, aka the spot where millionaires can pay to press flesh with POTUS, a perk that apparently wasn’t enough to keep its top-line numbers afloat. […]

  211. says

    From the controversy about Samantha Bee using some gendered insults in her sketch aimed at Ivanka Trump:

    […] “Ivanka Trump, who works at the White House, chose to post the second most oblivious tweet we’ve seen this week,” Bee said, taking a jab at Roseanne. “You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child, but let me just say, one mother to another, do something about immigration practices, you feckless c**t!”

    “He listens to you,” Bee continued. “Put on something tight and low cut and tell your father to f**king stop it. Tell him it was an Obama thing and see how it goes.”

    Bee’s comments have incited outrage from right-wing commentators.

    Conservative blogger Erick Erickson tweeted, “So ABC just fired Roseanne for her tweet. Will TBS fire Samantha Bee for her actual on-air monologue? Seems to me that calling Ivanka a ‘feckless c*nt’ is just as bad as suggesting Valerie Jarrett is an ape.” […]


  212. blf says

    Bigots gotta bigot, especially against bigots who they perceive as not exactly bigoting the same bigotry, Baptist church threatens to destroy Christ statue deemed too ‘Catholic’. The story is perhaps just a another kookspat, except for the reply from the artist (Bert Baker Jr), Christ statue removed from SC Baptist church for being ‘too Catholic,’ artist says:

    “These sculptures have been gracing the front of RBBC [Red Bank Baptist Church (Lexington, S.Carolina)] for 11 years and at no time then or now has anyone ever been ‘confused’ as to who Red Bank Baptist is nor has anyone ever suggested that they are ‘Catholic’ in nature,” Baker wrote. “I am stunned that your letter both insults the intelligence of the Red Bank Community (as not intelligent enough to know that Red Bank Baptist Church is a Baptist church despite having a large sign stating as much); and, more disturbing, singling out the Catholic church in such a manner as to suggest that their denomination is deficient in theology and lacking in Christian core values.”

    From the Grauniad’s article (first link):

    Bill Leonard, a professor of Baptist studies at Wake Forest University, said the dispute was a symptom of a larger “dysfunction” in the Southern Baptist Convention, which is noted for its low church style of worship and lack of idolatory.

    “Almost week to week there’s another incident in which southern Baptists portray themselves … having convictions that look like bias and prejudice in the larger culture,” Leonard said. “The bias is so deep that they even think they have the wrong Jesus in front of their church.”

    There are images of the work at both links. In my opinion (based solely on those images), the work is nothing special, albeit I do note Mr Baker did not portray the central figure being tortured to death, albeit the pose is very reminiscent. (At least one of the smaller panels is the usual torture fetish.)

  213. KG says

    Does Trump assume Americans are easily fooled? – Steve Benen, quoted by Lynna, OM@279

    Well if he does, for once he has plenty of evidence on his side!

  214. blf says

    Follow-up to @291, some more excuses from UK companies about the lack of women board members, FTSE firms’ excuses for lack of women in boardrooms ‘pitiful and patronising’:

    ● Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?
    ● My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board
    ● All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up
    ● We have one woman already on the board, so we are done — it is someone else’s turn

    And so on. The obvious one is missing, Cooties !

  215. says

    Trump quoted in Lynna’s #279 above:

    Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia! The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!

    The funniest part of this to me is the “Not that it matters but…” Pretty sure it matters.

  216. says

    KG @307, too true.

    In other news: White America’s racial resentment is the real impetus for welfare cuts, study says:

    […] The study, conducted by researchers at two California universities and published Wednesday in the journal Social Forces, finds that opposition to welfare programs has grown among white Americans since 2008, even when controlling for political views and socioeconomic status.

    White Americans are more likely to favor welfare cuts when they believe that their status is threatened and that minorities are the main beneficiaries of safety net programs, the study says.

    The findings suggest that political efforts to cut welfare programs are driven less by conservative principles than by racial anxiety, the authors conclude. That also hurts white Americans who make up the largest share of Medicaid and food-stamp recipients. President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans have proposed deep cuts to both programs. […]

  217. says

    No-confidence vote wrap-up: Debate has closed for today. With the support of PNV and PDeCat, they have the no-confidence votes. Rajoy wasn’t present for the afternoon debate (I read but didn’t notice that his colleague’s purse was in his seat, which seems symbolic…). He says he has no plans to resign. There will be more debate tomorrow morning, and the vote is set for I believe noon tomorrow (6 AM ET).

  218. says

    “Ex-Mossad Chief Says He Questioned Legality of Netanyahu’s Order to Prepare Iran Strike”:

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Mossad and the military to prepare for an attack on Iran in 2011, a former spy chief has revealed. Tamir Pardo, the Mossad’s chief at the time, also disclosed on the Israeli investigative television show Uvda that after receiving the order he checked with top officials to see whether it was legal.

    According to the show, Netanyahu told Pardo and then chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz to prepare the military to be able to launch an attack on Iran within 15 days of being given the order to do so.

    Following Netanyahu’s order, the former Mossad chief began to look into whether the prime minister actually had the power to give such an order, which would likely lead to a war with Iran. Israeli law required the cabinet — or at least the security cabinet — to approve a decision to go to war.

    The attack never took place, in large part due to the resistance of Pardo and Gantz. Their predecessors, Meir Dagan and Gabi Ashkenazi, had also opposed a similar order to prepare for an attack on Iran, given in 2010 by Netanyahu and the defense minister at the time, Ehud Barak….

    Also Pardo: “In Israel today, if you don’t think and speak like the prime minister, you are automatically branded a traitor.”

    And finally: “Bombshell: Netanyahu a few years ago allegedly asked Shin Bet to eavesdrop on Mossad chief Pardo and IDF chief of staff Gantz during internal disagreements over Iran strike. Report from Uvda (Israel’s 60 Minutes) during long profile of Pardo.”

  219. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachael Maddow had on a member of Virginia’s House of Delegates who was instrumental in getting the medicaid expansion passed. Hopefully, that segment may be posted later. I’ll check in the morning, if I don’t find it in the next hour.

  220. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad on a mad scheme in Ozland to provide — without any tendering process — about A$500m to fossil fuel interests to do something about saving(? managing?) the endangered Great Barrier Reef, Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin is back. The Great Barrier Reef isn’t (cartoon): “The Turnbull government’s plan to save the reef is so crazy, it might just work! (It will not)”. It’s mostly self-explanatory. For some background, Greens want inquiry into awarding of $444m Great Barrier Reef grant:

    Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson, the party’s spokesman for healthy oceans, will move for a Senate inquiry into why the Great Barrier Reef Foundation was announced as the recipient of the record government grant without the funds being offered to existing government reef agencies.


    The foundation, which has just six full-time employees, has previously made clear it does not know why it was chosen for the funding and described it as like “winning the lotto”.


    The foundation has said it did not apply for the funding […]

    At the present time, A$444m is about 335m USD.

  221. says

    Update – he’s out!

    “Mariano Rajoy ousted as Spain’s prime minister”:

    Mariano Rajoy, once viewed as the great survivor of Spanish politics, has been ousted as prime minister in a vote of no confidence called after several former members of his ruling party were convicted of corruption in a case that proved a scandal too far.

    He will be replaced by Pedro Sánchez, the leader of Spain’s opposition socialist PSOE party, which tabled the motion to unseat him.

    Sánchez’s motion won the support of 180 MPs – four more than the 176 needed in the 350-seat parliament. There was one abstention and 169 MPs opposed it.

    Rajoy, who served as premier for seven years, had managed to weather a string of corruption scandals within his People’s party (PP) but was unable to withstand political anger after Spain’s highest criminal court found the party had benefited from an enormous and illegal kickbacks-for-contracts scheme, known as the Gürtel case….

    Everyone was curious about where Rajoy was during the afternoon session yesterday. Kind of perfect that “It later transpired he had gone for an eight-hour lunch at a smart restaurant in central Madrid, from which he emerged at around 10pm.”

    I wonder if this will have any impact on the Trump-Russia investigation…

  222. blf says

    More ranting about States-side (mostly?) sites blocking sites geolocated in the EU due to being arseholes about GDPR (see @159, @248, @296, …). This time it’s the Arizona Daily Star, We recognise you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and therefore cannot grant you access at this time. (Yes, they really did use the British spelling “recognise”.) At least, unlike the LA Times and other arseholes, they acknowledge what they are misunderstanding and have failed to act on for at least two years.

    (I ran into this one whilst commenting on poopyhead’s recent I still get email post.)

  223. says

    “Jared Kushner close friend Rick Gerson now under scrutiny from Mueller”:

    A close friend of Jared Kushner has come under scrutiny by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for his proximity to some key meetings between Trump associates and foreign officials, according to five people familiar with the matter.

    Richard Gerson, a hedge-fund manager in New York, was in the Seychelles in January 2017, less than two weeks before President Donald Trump’s inauguration and around the time Trump associate Erik Prince secretly met with Russian and United Arab Emirates officials, including Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, four of the people said.

    While in the remote Indian Ocean island nation, Gerson met with Prince Mohammed — also known by his initials as MBZ — and communicated with a Lebanese-American businessman with close ties to the UAE, George Nader, who had organized the Erik Prince meeting, according to text messages Gerson sent at the time and a person familiar with the meeting.

    Gerson had met Nader just weeks earlier when Trump officials, including Kushner, gathered for a secret meeting with MBZ at a Four Seasons hotel in New York, four people familiar with the meeting said. Trump’s incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn and chief political adviser Steve Bannon, as well as the UAE’s ambassador to the U.S., Yousef Otaiba, also attended the meeting.

    Gerson’s presence in the Seychelles and at the Four Seasons meeting has not been previously reported.

    Mueller’s interest in Gerson is another sign that he is examining connections between the UAE and Trump associates. Counterintelligence investigators have been scrutinizing UAE influence in the Trump campaign since before Mueller was appointed as special counsel, and the probe has continued in coordination with Mueller’s team, according to two people briefed on the investigation.

    The spokesman said Gerson’s involvement in the December meeting at the Four Seasons in New York was limited to escorting former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to the meeting, so he could give the participants a presentation on Israeli-Palestinian peace.*

    The Senate Intelligence Committee also has looked into Gerson’s presence at the Seychelles and other meetings related to the UAE, according to two officials briefed on the matter.

    Two people familiar with the meetings said they inferred that Gerson was there because of his connection to Kushner. One of them said UAE officials considered Gerson to be “Kushner’s guy.”…

    * *furrows brow*

  224. says

    So at this secret December ’16 Four Seasons NY meeting we have, so far: MBZ, Otaiba, Kushner, Flynn, Bannon, Gerson, possibly Nader, and Tony Fing Blair.

    (This was the meeting for which MBZ snuck into the US and Susan Rice had to unmask names to learn with whom he had met.)

  225. blf says

    In Germany, after Bavaria’s new law requiring xian torture devices in the entrance of of all public buildings (Bavarians wary of new law requiring crosses in all public buildings†), the lions have been released‡, Lions and tigers break out of zoo cages in western Germany. However, that happened in Lünebach (Rhineland-Palatinate), so it will some time before the games start… It will take some time to get from the area near the border with Belgium & Luxembourg to München.

    UPDATE: The BBC is just now reporting German zoo escape: Lions, tigers and jaguar recaptured in Lünebach, and that the “animals broke out after flooding from a storm damaged their enclosures.”

      † The new Bavarian law has been previously mentioned / discussed in this series of poopyhead threads.

      ‡ Actually, at the present time, according to the cited Grauniad article, it’s “not clear how and when the animals escaped.”

  226. blf says

    Trump appears to comment on jobs report before its official release:

    After comment on US adding 223,000 new jobs in May, economic advisers chair says Trump should never get data in advance again
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced at 8.30am that the US had added 223,000 new jobs in May as the unemployment rate slid t0 [sic†] 3.8%, its lowest level since April 2000 and one of the lowest levels since after the second world war.

    Trump, who has taken credit for job market growth despite the fact that it began under Obama, said on Twitter he was looking forward to the release of the monthly jobs report just over an hour ahead of its release.


    Following his tweet, treasury yields moved sharply higher. The monthly report is one of the most market sensitive pieces of economic information released by the government and is carefully guarded ahead of its release.

    For anyone other than the president, the comment would likely lead to an investigation or likely firing. The report is given to senior White House officials the day before its release but is usually closely protected.

    Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Obama, said Trump should never again be given sight of the figures before their release.

    “You should have gotten the employment numbers from the Council of Economic Advisers yesterday. And if this tweet is conveying inside information about a particularly good jobs number you should never get them in advance from the Council of Economic Advisers again,” he wrote on Twitter.


    [… T]he report highlighted once again that many Americans remain on the sidelines despite the tightening labor market. The labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of workers in jobs or looking for work, edged down to 62.7% from 62.8% in April — levels last seen in the 1970s.

    That fall in participation was partly responsible for the latest dip in the unemployment rate, said the Economic Policy institute.

    “About two-thirds of the drop in the unemployment rate in May was because workers found jobs, while about one-third of the drop was from people leaving the labor force,” wrote EPi economist Elise Gould in a blog post.

    Hair furor’s twittering, as quoted (see linked article), did not specifically give any details (hence Mr Furman’s caveat), but did give a strong hint — Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers […].

      † It’s nice to see the Grauniad reinforcing its nickname !

  227. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Steve Benen: “Does Trump assume Americans are easily fooled?”

    “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”–H. L. Mencken

  228. says

    a_ray @335 and KG @307, it looks like about 38 to 40 percent of the American people are easily fooled. That’s depressing.

    In other news, related to team Trump condemning anyone who doesn’t like team Trump:

    […] the White House yesterday condemned a campaign ad from Dan Helmer, a Democratic congressional candidate in the commonwealth. Helmer, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, says in the spot, “After 9/11, the greatest threat to our democracy lived in a cave. Today, he lives in the White House. ” Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah said Democratic leaders “must swiftly condemn this abhorrent message.”

    Politico link

    More details related to the story above:

    White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said on Thursday the message of the ad was “nothing short of reprehensible.”

    “Leaders from across the political spectrum — starting with Leader Pelosi — must swiftly condemn this abhorrent message,” Shah said in a statement to reporters, referring to Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the top Democrat in the House.

    Helmer is running in Virginia’s crowded 10th District primary to take on Rep. Barbara Comstock, one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress.

    Helmer’s campaign defended the ad Thursday, saying the ad sounds “the alarm about the threat to our democracy that President Trump poses.”

    “What is abhorrent is the way this President has failed to uphold his oath of office, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Helmer’s campaign manager told POLITICO via Twitter.

    A spokesman for Pelosi, Drew Hammill, said in statement that “while the leader does not condone the end of this ad, if the president wants to join in raising the level of civility in politics, he should begin with himself.” […]

    Good for the Dems, standing up to the misleading spin from the White House.

  229. says

    From SC’s comment 316:

    Also Pardo: “In Israel today, if you don’t think and speak like the prime minister, you are automatically branded a traitor.”

    And finally: “Bombshell: Netanyahu a few years ago allegedly asked Shin Bet to eavesdrop on Mossad chief Pardo and IDF chief of staff Gantz during internal disagreements over Iran strike. Report from Uvda (Israel’s 60 Minutes) during long profile of Pardo.”

    So very Trump-like.

    In other news, Steve Benen pointed out the interesting backstory to Trump’s interest in pardoning Rod Blagojevich:

    […] Blagojevich wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal this week […] condemning abusive federal prosecutors run amok. “The rule of law is under assault in America,” the former governor wrote for the traditionally conservative op-ed page. “It is being perverted and abused by the people sworn to enforce and uphold it. Some in the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are abusing their power to criminalize the routine practices of politics and government.”

    It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which Trump nodded along in agreement as someone read the op-ed to him.

    Similarly, Blagojevich’s wife went on Fox News yesterday to draw a comparison between her husband and the president. “The same people that did this to my family … these same people are trying to do the same thing that they did to my husband, just on a much larger scale,” Patti Blagojevich said. “They were emboldened. They took down a governor and now they’ve got their sights much higher.”

    The Chicago Tribune added, “For weeks, Blagojevich and his team have orchestrated a calculated publicity campaign labeling his prosecution on sweeping corruption charges unjust and politically motivated. The show has been targeted to an audience of one: President Donald Trump.”

    It’s a fascinating dynamic: a formula is taking shape that people can exploit to, in a rather literal sense, obtain a get-out-of-jail-free card from the president. It involves a combination of flattering Trump, criticizing federal law enforcement, and saying the right things in conservative media.

    As of yesterday, Team Blagojevich appears to be playing the game well.

  230. says

    Follow-up to comment 290.

    […] Trump briefly spoke to reporters before boarding Air Force One yesterday, and the president talked about traveling to Texas, where “we’re going to have a little fun today.”

    It was an odd choice of words: Trump was scheduled to meet with family members who lost loved ones at the recent mass shooting in a Houston-area high school. “Fun” wasn’t really the point.

    An Associated Press report added that the president’s visit could’ve gone better.

    Rhonda Hart, whose 14-year-old daughter, Kimberly Vaughan, was killed at the school, told The Associated Press that Trump repeatedly used the word ‘wacky’ to describe the shooter and the trench coat he wore. She said she told Trump, “Maybe if everyone had access to mental health care, we wouldn’t be in the situation.”

    Hart, an Army veteran, said she also suggested employing veterans as sentinels in schools. She said Trump responded, “And arm them?” She replied, “No,” but said Trump “kept mentioning” arming classroom teachers. “It was like talking to a toddler,” Hart said.

    […] After the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., for example, Trump called Samantha Fuentes, a student who’d been shot and was left with a piece of shrapnel lodged behind her right eye. “Talking to the president, I’ve never been so unimpressed by a person in my life,” she said after the conversation. “He didn’t make me feel better in the slightest.” […]

    After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, he marveled at the size of the “turnout” of people who wanted to see him in Corpus Christi. After initially ignoring Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, the president focused on the island’s debts to Wall Street, feuded with a local mayor, and threw paper towels to locals as if he were shooting free throws.

    I’m sure there are examples of Trump comforting people in need during difficult times, but it’s nevertheless difficult to look past the pattern in which the president’s empathy gap has been on display. […]

    As a candidate, the future president, referring to himself in third person, said empathy would be “one of the strongest things about Trump.”

    There’s quite a bit of evidence to the contrary.


  231. says

    French President Emmanuel Macron’s response,and other European leader’s responses, to Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from U.S. allies:

    […] Macron said in a statement Friday that he told Trump in a phone call that the new U.S. tariffs on European, Mexican and Canadian goods are illegal and a “mistake.” Macron pledged the riposte would be “firm” and “proportionate” and in line with World Trade Organization rules.

    Germany’s Volkswagen, Europe’s largest automaker, warned that the decision could start a trade war that no side would win. The European Union and China said they will deepen ties on trade and investment as a result.

    “This is stupid. It’s counterproductive,” former British trade minister Francis Maude told the BBC. “Any government that embarks on a protectionist path inflicts the most damage on itself,” he added.

    Macron warned that “economic nationalism leads to war. This is exactly what happened in the 1930s.” […]

    Mexico complained that the tariffs will “distort international trade” and said it will penalize U.S. imports including pork, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel.

    In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that the tariffs were “totally unacceptable.” Canada announced plans to slap tariffs on $12.8 billion worth of U.S. products, ranging from steel to yogurt and toilet paper.

    “Canada is a secure supplier of aluminum and steel to the U.S. defense industry, putting aluminum in American planes and steel in American tanks,” Trudeau said. “That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable.” […]

    “This is protectionism, pure and simple,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission. […]

    House Speaker Paul Ryan and several leading Republicans in Congress were critical of the administration’s tariff action. Ryan said there are better ways to help American workers and consumers and that he plans to work with Trump on “those better options.”


  232. says

    More details, courtesy of Justin Trudeau, about how and when the U.S. manages to shoot itself in the foot when it comes to negotiating trade deals:

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that a NAFTA deal was within reach when Vice President Mike Pence scuttled it by demanding the inclusion of a “sunset” clause that would automatically expire the pact in five years […]

    Trudeau […] was planning a trip to D.C. to finalize the deal when Pence called with his ultimatum. “I had to highlight that there was no possibility of any Canadian prime minister signing a NAFTA deal that included a five-year sunset clause, and obviously the visit didn’t happen,” Trudeau said.

    The White House fired back at Trudeau in a Thursday statement. “The United States has been taken advantage of for many decades on trade. Those days are over,” it read. “Earlier today, this message was conveyed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada: The United States will agree to a fair deal, or there will be no deal at all.” […]


  233. says

    Follow-up to comment 305.

    Chelsea Clinton reminded the White House that Ted Nugent had once called Hillary Clinton a “c*nt” and that that didn’t stop Trump from inviting Nugent to the White House, (and into the oval office for a photo op). Moreover, Trump himself reportedly called Sally Yates a “c*nt.” I don’t think Samantha Bee should have used that word, but the blowback from team Trump is hypocritical.

  234. says

    For perspective: the Mueller investigation cost $16.7 million over the first year, Trump’s golf trips cost $67 million.

    The Justice Department has released a report showing the cost of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into foreign entanglements of the Trump campaign. Through just over a year, the total comes in at $16.7 million. […]

    Compared to the estimated $67 million the government has spent providing Trump with trips to Mar-a-lago to play golf, Mueller’s investigation comes off as quite a bargain. Or the $3.5 million that the EPA spent on a single year of Scott Pruitt’s personal SWAT team.

    It would probably be possible to pay for the Mueller investigation either out of first class flights by Pruitt, or Ben Carson’s decorating budget. In just the first nine months of 2017, Donald Trump personally charged the Secret Service $137,000 to rent golf carts. So they can protect Donald Trump. That’s in addition to the $2.4 million that the Secret Service paid Trump to rent space in his own building. […]


    Trump’s tweet:

    A.P. has just reported that the Russian Hoax Investigation has now cost our government over $17 million, and going up fast. No Collusion, except by the Democrats!

  235. says

    Good news. People in Louisiana who have been convicted of felonies, people who have served their time, but who may still be on probation, are now allowed to vote.

    Forty-year-old Kiana Calloway doesn’t know what it feels like to cast a ballot.

    He does know, however, what it’s like to be wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder at 16 years old, to be tried as an adult, and to serve 17 years in prison. He also knows what it feels like to live under strict parole for seven years, with a decade still to go. And as of Thursday, he knows what it feels like to stand in the Louisiana State Capitol besides dozens of people with criminal records as the governor signed a bill restoring voting rights to thousands of people like him.

    “The energy was crazy,” Calloway told ThinkProgress. “When he introduced the bill, the whole room just roared. It was actually like a Pelicans playoff game.”

    On Thursday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed into law a bill that will restore voting rights to people with felony records who are on probation or parole, as long as they have been out of prison for five years. Both chambers of the state’s GOP-controlled legislature passed House Bill 265 with bipartisan support in May.

    Roughly 70,000 Louisiana citizens are currently on probation or parole for felony crimes. According to the Department of Corrections, roughly 2,200 of them will be affected by this legislation when it takes effect March 1, 2019. Over the next few years, potentially tens of thousands additional offenders could also see their rights restored. […]


  236. says

    All the best people.

    Trump Adds Another Anti-Science, Anti-Choice Woman to Oversee Critical Health Programs

    The newest addition to Donald Trump’s ragtag band of anti-science religious fundamentalists at the Department of Health and Human Services is Diane Foley, who will help manage the federal government’s family-planning program. Foley’s dubious qualifications include leading a set of anti-abortion centers, giving speeches about accepting God’s word as the ultimate truth, and passing herself off as a practicing doctor when she has no medical license.

    HHS announced in a tweet on Tuesday that Foley will join the agency’s new Office of Population Affairs as deputy assistant secretary, replacing Teresa Manning. Manning, a former anti-abortion lobbyist who insisted that contraception “doesn’t work” to prevent pregnancy, resigned in January after less than a year on the job.

    Foley’s views on reproductive health are no more in line with science and accepted standards of health care than Manning’s. Until last year, she was the president and CEO of the Life Network, an organization that operates two anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers in Colorado Springs that run abstinence-only education programs for teens. The purpose of crisis pregnancy centers is to convince women not to have abortions, sometimes after luring them in with deceptive advertising that makes them seem like abortion clinics or general health facilities. “Through our pregnancy centers we have the opportunity to see God use the miracle of ultrasound to change and save lives,” Life Network’s website says. The first element of its mission is “presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ.” […]

  237. says

    More bad ideas from team Trump, having to do this time with coal and nuclear plants:

    […] Energy Secretary Rick Perry came up with a plan that would have effectively bailed out the industries by requiring utility companies to pay coal and nuclear power plants “for all their costs and all the power they produce, whether those plants are needed or not.”

    Or put another way, the public would create unnatural profits for the coal and nuclear plant owners, even if utility companies had more affordable alternatives, and even if the plants themselves were not economically viable, because the Trump administration would mandate it.

    The Republican-led Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected that plan in January. Bloomberg News reports today on the Trump administration’s apparent Plan B.

    Trump administration officials are making plans to order grid operators to buy electricity from struggling coal and nuclear plants in an effort to extend their life, a move that could represent an unprecedented intervention into U.S. energy markets.

    The Energy Department would exercise emergency authority under a pair of federal laws to direct the operators to purchase electricity or electric generation capacity from at-risk facilities, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News. The agency also is making plans to establish a “Strategic Electric Generation Reserve” with the aim of promoting the national defense and maximizing domestic energy supplies.

    […] it’s not too soon to say that this plan is awfully tough to defend. […] the administration, having been turned down by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is still moving forward with a plan to require energy grid operators to buy power from obsolete plants – even if they don’t want to, and even if it costs more.

    This is supposed to be legal, apparently, based on Team Trump’s interpretation of “the 68-year-old Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era statute once invoked by President Harry Truman to help the steel industry.”

    In other words, like the White House’s new tariffs, administration officials are pushing the envelope of what constitutes a “national security emergency.” […]


  238. says

    Don’t even bother to hide the corrupt intent. Roger Stone lets it all hang out.

    About Trump pardoning six people who probably should not have been pardoned, Roger Stone said:

    It has to be a signal to Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort and even Robert S. Mueller III: Indict people for crimes that don’t pertain to Russian collusion and this is what could happen. The special counsel has awesome powers, as you know, but the president has even more awesome powers.


    Mueller is investigating Stone’s finances, so maybe Stone is angling for a pardon for himself.

  239. says

    Making American income and wealth inequality #1.

    UN report blames Trump administration policies for soaring income and wealth inequality

    A scathing new United Nations report has found that the United States is leading the developed world in income and wealth inequality, laying explicit blame with the Trump administration for policies that actively increase poverty and inequality in the country. […]

    The report found that the United States “is now moving full steam ahead to make itself even more unequal,” citing the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts passed in December 2017, which “overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.”

    “The consequences of neglecting poverty and promoting inequality are clear,” the report concludes. “The policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.” […]

  240. says

    Follow-up to comment 345.

    Actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Friday mocked reports that President Trump is considering a plan to prolong the use of struggling coal and nuclear plants […]

    “I eagerly await the administration’s regulations protecting pagers, fax machines, and Blockbuster,” Schwarzenegger tweeted, citing a report that the Trump administration may order grid operators to buy electricity from coal and nuclear plants that are at risk of closing. […]


  241. blf says

    Feck farcebork, Teens are abandoning Facebook in dramatic numbers, study finds:

    Teenagers have abandoned Facebook in favour of other social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.

    Just 51% of US individuals aged 13 to 17 say they use Facebook — a dramatic plunge from the 71% who said they used the social network in Pew’s previous study in 2015, when it was the dominant online platform.

    In this year’s study reported Facebook use was, according to Pew, “notably lower” than the percentage of teens who said they used YouTube (85%), Instagram (72%) or Snapchat (69%). […]

    Use of Facebook was markedly higher among lower-income teens, with 70% of those living in households earning less than $30,000 a year using the platform, compared with just 36% of those whose annual family income is $75,000 or more.


  242. blf says

    Trump’s ‘cruel’ measures pushing US inequality to dangerous level, UN warns:

    Scorching report on poverty finds ‘systematic attack on welfare program’ will leave millions deprived of food and healthcare

    Donald Trump is deliberately forcing millions of Americans into financial ruin, cruelly depriving them of food and other basic protections while lavishing vast riches on the super-wealthy, the United Nations monitor on poverty has warned.

    Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur who acts as a watchdog on extreme poverty around the world, has issued a withering critique of the state of America today. Trump is steering the country towards a “dramatic change of direction” that is rewarding the rich and punishing the poor by blocking access even to the most meager necessities.

    “This is a systematic attack on America’s welfare program that is undermining the social safety net for those who can’t cope on their own. Once you start removing any sense of government commitment, you quickly move into cruelty,” Alston told the Guardian.

    Millions of Americans already struggling to make ends meet faced “ruination”, he warned. “If food stamps and access to Medicaid are removed, and housing subsidies cut, then the effect on people living on the margins will be drastic.”

    Asked to define “ruination”, Alston said: “Severe deprivation of food and almost no access to healthcare.”


    As one of the world’s wealthiest societies, the US is what Alston calls a “land of stark contrasts”. It is home to one in four of the world’s 2,208 billionaires.

    At the other end of the spectrum, 40 million Americans live in poverty. More than five million eke out an existence amid the kind of absolute deprivation normally associated with the developing world.

    The symptoms of such glaring inequality include:

    ● Americans now live shorter and sicker lives than citizens of other rich democracies;
    ● Tropical diseases that flourish in conditions of poverty are on the rise;
    ● The US incarceration rate remains the highest in the world;
    ● Voter registration levels are among the lowest in industrialised nations — 64% of the voting-age population, compared with 91% in Canada and the UK and 99% in Japan.

    Against that backdrop, the UN rapporteur identifies a slew of what he calls “aggressively regressive” policies coming out of the Trump administration that are sending the country “full steam ahead” towards greater inequality.


    The scrutiny now falling on Trump from the UN is significant in that the US stands increasingly as an outlier in the world community. Alston’s report adds to a mounting body of criticism emanating from global organisations warning the US that unless it pulls back from its current course it will end up isolated from all other developed countries.

    The statistics speak for themselves. In 1980, the US and Europe stood side by side in terms of inequality — in both cases, the richest one percent earned about 10% of national income.

    Fast forward to 2017, and in Europe the 1% has edged up to 12% of national income. But in America the same elite now gobbles up 20%.

    Last year the IMF, a world body not renowned for being hyper-critical of countries that fail the poor, said: “The US economy is delivering better living standards for only the few. Household incomes are stagnating, job opportunities are deteriorating, prospects for upward mobility are waning and economic gains are increasingly accruing to those that are already wealthy.”


  243. says

    My Melania “theory”: She already couldn’t stand to be around the obnoxious, demeaning, abusive Trump. Then the Daniels/McDougal stories started coming out. Now, via some channel, she’s learned some of what’s in the items seized from Cohen (including, perhaps, something about the payment allegedly made by Broidy), and possibly about evidence of some extreme criminality. Hosting Macron and his wife and then the medical procedure with all of this going on were enough. She never wanted to be in this position, and is angry and depressed that she’s now in the middle of this vortex. She’s lying very low and waiting out the end of her son’s school year so they can escape back to New York.

    At least, I hope it’s something like that, because there are far worse possibilities.

  244. blf says

    My Ms Trump hypothesis: She’s up to her eyeballs in the shenanigans, lies, and corruption. Her alleged recent “disappearance” is a distraction, possibly deliberate, possibly accidental. There is absolutely no reason to “trust” her than there is any other age-determined adult member of the kleptocracy / dalekocracy (so Barron is excluded by age).

  245. consciousness razor says

    What a depressing story:

    Hill, a 30-year-old black man, had been blasting an expletive-laden song by Drake, according to court testimony reviewed by CNN, and an unhappy woman who heard the song called officers to complain. The two deputies, including Christopher Newman, arrived to the house and knocked on the garage door, which Hill opened.
    The officers exclaimed that the man had a gun, according to a lawsuit from Hill’s family, and so the 30-year-old closed his door. Newman fired bullets through the garage door, hitting Hill once in the head and twice in the chest.
    At first, the jury gave the man’s family $4. That includes a single dollar for each of Hill’s children — aged 7, 10 and 13 — and another dollar for the man’s funeral expenses, NBC reported. But the jury found that Hill, who had been drinking at the time, was 99 percent at fault for his own death.
    So that $4 was then reduced to just four cents.

  246. Owlmirror says

    (This appears to be unlocked)

    Mutz, Diana C. Status threat, not economic hardship, explains the 2016 presidential vote. PNAS. May 8, 2018. 115 (19) E4330-E4339; published ahead of print April 23, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1718155115


    This study evaluates evidence pertaining to popular narratives explaining the American public’s support for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential election. First, using unique representative probability samples of the American public, tracking the same individuals from 2012 to 2016, I examine the “left behind” thesis (that is, the theory that those who lost jobs or experienced stagnant wages due to the loss of manufacturing jobs punished the incumbent party for their economic misfortunes). Second, I consider the possibility that status threat felt by the dwindling proportion of traditionally high-status Americans (i.e., whites, Christians, and men) as well as by those who perceive America’s global dominance as threatened combined to increase support for the candidate who emphasized reestablishing status hierarchies of the past. Results do not support an interpretation of the election based on pocketbook economic concerns. Instead, the shorter relative distance of people’s own views from the Republican candidate on trade and China corresponded to greater mass support for Trump in 2016 relative to Mitt Romney in 2012. Candidate preferences in 2016 reflected increasing anxiety among high-status groups rather than complaints about past treatment among low-status groups. Both growing domestic racial diversity and globalization contributed to a sense that white Americans are under siege by these engines of change.

    (see the references for more links to papers/works.)

  247. blf says

    Spotted at Dr Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science site, The results are in from the first study of what encourages and deters people from bullshitting (the actual paper (link at the links) is behind a paywall):

    “In essence,” [psychologist John] Petrocelli explains in his new paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, “the bullshitter is a relatively careless thinker/communicator and plays fast and loose with ideas and/or information as he bypasses consideration of, or concern for, evidence and established knowledge.”


    There are countless psychology studies into lying (which is different from bullshitting because it involves deliberately concealing the truth) and an increasing number into fake news (again, unlike BS, deliberate manipulation is part of it). However, there are virtually none on bullshitting. […]


    All the factors that Petrocelli manipulated made a difference. Overall, the participants who received no background information on Jim [a fictitious individual claimed to have pulled out of running for a seat on the City Council] admitted to engaging in more bullshitting. Participants also bullshitted more when they felt more obliged to give an opinion, and when their audience was not knowledgeable about him. These latter two factors (obligation and audience knowledge) interacted, with social obligation being more potent. When feeling obligated to have an opinion, uninformed participants bullshitted a lot even when they knew their audience knew more than they did.

    “Anything that an audience may do to enhance the social expectation that one should have or provide an opinion appears to increase the likelihood of the audience receiving bullshit,” Petrocelli said.


    […] Fear of being called out […] appears to be a strong deterrent to spewing BS.


  248. Oggie. says

    Where the fuck do they get these lawyers?

    President Donald Trump’s lawyers argued in a confidential January letter to special counsel Robert Mueller that the President cannot illegally obstruct the Russia probe because he, as the top law enforcement officer, has authority over all federal investigations, The New York Times reported Saturday.

    The 20-page letter from Trump attorney Jay Sekulow and then-Trump lawyer John Dowd, which CNN reported on last week and the Times has obtained, says that Trump could not possibly have committed obstruction in the Russia investigation because the Constitution empowers him to “terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”

    That one’s from CNN . I aintent a lawyer (though I did play one on stage), but this argument strikes me as a repudiation of the very idea of a constitutional democracy. The President can cancel an investigation into his (and his crony’s) crimes because he “has authority over all federal investigations”? Somehow, I expect those same lawyers would be making a completely different argument had Hillary Clinton won the Electoral College and not just the popular vote.

    And, now in the running for “Worst Lawyer Ever”, the ever-entertaining and, at the same time, frightening, I give you Rudy Giuliani:*

    President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said on ABC’s This Week that President Trump “probably” has the power to pardon himself, but has no intention of doing so.

    Also from CNN .

    So has Giuliani just admitted, on live TV, that Trump has committed a ‘high crime or misdemeanor’? And he thinks that Trump can pardon himself? (Well, I guess if Trump eructed in someone’s face, he would say, “Pardon me.” (Then again . . . Trump probably really admires this guy. Just his style.)) Or maybe Giuliani is trying desperately to show enough loyalty to Trump that when his (Giuliani’s) crimes come to light, Trump will pardon him? Or maybe Trump knows that he will have to perjure himself if interviewed by the Special Counsel so he wants reassurance from Giuliani that he can get the Blagojovich treatment (and Giuliani’s statement will be carried by Fox, so Giuliani knows he will see it.) Or maybe Giuliani is just that stupid.

    * I hope, for his sake, that he is earning enough from this gig to set himself and his family up for generations because I think that the word ‘lawyer’ coupled with the name ‘Giuliani’ is going to become a running joke. For a long time.

  249. blf says

    President [sic] Donald Trump’s lawyers argued in a confidential January letter to special counsel Robert Mueller that the President cannot illegally obstruct the Russia probe because he, as the top law enforcement officer, has authority over all federal investigations

    I, as one of the few entities (presumed sentient) who asserts it is not possible to calm the (not-so-mildly-)agitated mildly deranged penguin down, or even up, sideways, or with copious amounts of cheese, state she, as the Supreme Field Marshall Generalissimo for Eternity of All the Multiverses, must be true & correct & not a pea, as per my — my! – proclamations, statements, and scribblings on the back of labels removed from vin bottles. Obviously.

  250. says

    Trump talks about the Coast Guard’s “brand”:

    In September, Donald Trump spoke briefly to reporters about the federal response to Hurricane Irma, and he singled out the Coast Guard for praise. “If you talk about branding,” the president said, despite the fact that no one was talking about branding, “no brand has improved more than the United States Coast Guard.”

    In November, he did it again. “You know, the Coast Guard, always respected, but if you were looking at it as a brand, there’s no brand that went up more than the Coast Guard,” Trump said in Florida. Moments later, he added, “I think that there is no brand, of any kind — I’m not just talking about a military brand — that has gone up more than the Coast Guard.”

    Late last week, Trump spoke at the U.S. Coast Guard Change-of-Command Ceremony. Take a wild guess what he wanted to talk about.

    “I don’t think any brand has gained more momentum or has gained more of anything than the brand of the United States Coast Guard. People have tremendous respect for the United States Coast Guard. It’s true. Right? I’ve told you that before.” […]


    Not that long ago, Trump was proposing to cut the Coast Guard’s budget as part of his effort to pay for his border wall. Maybe he figured out that the Coast Guard plays a big role in protecting him when he is in Mar-a-Lago?

  251. says

    The New York Times published a great article by Michael S. Schmidt, Maggie Haberman, Charlie Savage and Matt Apuzzo.

    […] Trump’s lawyers have for months quietly waged a campaign to keep the special counsel from trying to force him to answer questions in the investigation into whether he obstructed justice, asserting that he cannot be compelled to testify and arguing in a confidential letter that he could not possibly have committed obstruction because he has unfettered authority over all federal investigations.

    In a brash assertion of presidential power, the 20-page letter — sent to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and obtained by The New York Times — contends that the president cannot illegally obstruct any aspect of the investigation into Russia’s election meddling because the Constitution empowers him to, “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon.” […]

    “We don’t know what the law is on the intersection between the obstruction statutes and the president exercising his constitutional power to supervise an investigation in the Justice Department,” said Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who oversaw the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration. “It’s an open question.”

    Hand-delivered to the special counsel’s office in January and written by two of the president’s lawyers at the time, John M. Dowd and Jay A. Sekulow, the letter offers a rare glimpse into one side of the high-stakes negotiations over a presidential interview. […]

    Mr. Giuliani said in an interview that Mr. Trump is telling the truth but that investigators “have a false version of it, we believe, so you’re trapped.” And the stakes are too high to risk being interviewed under those circumstances, he added: “That becomes not just a prosecutable offense, but an impeachable offense.” […]

    “We cannot emphasize enough that regardless of the fact that the executive privilege clearly applies to his senior staff, in the interest of complete transparency, the president has allowed — in fact, has directed — the voluntary production of clearly protected documents,” his [Trump’s] lawyers wrote. […]

    “Ensuring that the office remains sacred and above the fray of shifting political winds and gamesmanship is of critical importance,” they wrote. [Ha! very funny.]

    […] “The president’s prime function as the chief executive ought not be hampered by requests for interview,” they wrote. “Having him testify demeans the office of the president before the world.”

    They also contended that nothing Mr. Trump did violated obstruction-of-justice statutes, making both a technical parsing of what one such law covers and a broad constitutional argument that Congress cannot infringe on how he exercises his power to supervise the executive branch. Because of the authority the Constitution gives him, it is impossible for him to obstruct justice by shutting down a case or firing a subordinate, no matter his motivation, they said.

    […] “Of course, the president of the United States is not above the law, but just as obvious and equally as true is the fact that the president should not be subjected to strained readings and forced applications of clearly irrelevant statutes,” Mr. Dowd and Mr. Sekulow wrote.

    Excuse me, but it does sound like you are arguing that the president of the United States is above the law.

    […] Congress passed a broader law in 2002 that makes it a crime to obstruct proceedings that have not yet started.

    Samuel W. Buell, a Duke Law School professor and white-collar criminal law specialist […] said the real issue was whether Mr. Trump obstructed a potential grand jury investigation or trial — which do count as proceedings — even if the F.B.I. investigation had not yet developed into one of those. He called it inexplicable why the president’s legal team was making arguments that were focused on the wrong obstruction-of-justice statute. […]

    The lawyers acknowledged that Mr. Trump dictated a statement to The Times about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between some of his top advisers and Russians who were said to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Though the statement is misleading — in it, the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., said he met with Russians “primarily” to discuss adoption issues — the lawyers call it “short but accurate.” […]

    Much more at the link.

    Basically Trump is trying to claim droit du seigneur over the entire U.S.A. Or maybe he is trying to claim something similar to the divine right of kings.

  252. says

    Follow-up to comment 361.

    Insights from Steve Benen:

    […] The Times published the full document online here. It argues, among other things, “[T]he President not only has unfettered statutory and Constitutional authority to terminate the FBI Director, he also has Constitutional authority to direct the Justice Department to open or close an investigation, and, of course, the power to pardon any person before, during, or after an investigation and/or conviction. Put simply, the Constitution leaves no question that the President has exclusive authority over the ultimate conduct and disposition of all criminal investigations and over those executive branch officials responsible for conducting those investigations.”

    […] More than two centuries after Louis XIV is rumored to have said, “L’Etat, c’est moi” (“I am the state”), an American president’s lawyers articulated a similar principle, in writing, for a special counsel who considers that president to be a subject of an ongoing criminal investigation.

    […] it’s only a crisis if the argument works. Presidents and their lawyers can make all kinds of audacious claims; what matters is what they manage to get away with.

    […] Trump and his team expect to get away with the idea that a sitting president cannot commit a crime – Rudy Giuliani said yesterday Trump could’ve literally shot James Comey and he still couldn’t face prosecution while in office […]

    * The idea that it’s an institutional impossibility for a president to obstruct justice is belied by the fact that Nixon and Clinton both faced articles of impeachment on this exact point.

    * Giuliani argued yesterday that Trump could “probably” pardon himself, though he doesn’t expect that to happen. [Update: Trump tweeted this morning that he has an “absolute right” to pardon himself, though he added, “But why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”]

    […] * There are suddenly new reasons to be concerned about the competency of the president’s legal team: the memo’s footnotes were a mess, and at one point, Trump’s lawyers pointed to the wrong obstruction-of-justice statute.

    […] as far as Trump’s defense team is concerned, it’s within his authority to simply ignore the subpoena. [to ignore any subpoena from Mueller.]

  253. says

    Well, this sounds like a practical solution: just don’t tell Trump about the details of the upcoming summit with North Korea. That way Trump won’t tweet about the details.

    I wonder how long Joe Hagin can get away with that.

    White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin, the puppeteer pulling the strings on the U.S.-North Korea summit from behind the scenes, handles the delicate preparations by keeping details from President Donald Trump out of fear that he will tweet about them […]

    Two unnamed officials told CNN that Hagin did the same thing when Chinese President Xi Jinping was planning to visit Mar-a-Lago last year. […]


  254. says

    More really whacko tweets from Hair Furor, tweets that throw Paul Manafort under the bus again, tweets that show Trump acting like a guilty man, and tweets that reach ever further afield in order to diss the FBI and the DOJ:

    As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn’t the FBI or Department of “Justice” have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign? Should have told me!

    ….Paul Manafort came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time (he represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole & many others over the years), but we should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him, and he wouldn’t have been hired!

    For what it is worth, Trump was warned in August 2016 that agents or actors for foreign governments would try to infiltrate his campaign.

    In regard to Trump trying to minimize Manafort’s role, (“came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time”), it’s too late for that nonsense.

    In reality, Manafort joined the campaign in March 2016 in order to oversee Trump’s Republican National Convention strategy, but his role quickly grew. In May, he was named campaign chairman. Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, after his firing in June, said that Manafort “has been in operational control of the campaign since April 7.

  255. says

    Mueller’s appointment as special counsel was upheld by a federal judge’s ruling. Nevertheless, Hair Furor tweeted this:

    The appointment of the Special Councel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!

    Trump misspelled “counsel,” a mistake he later corrected.

    More about the judge’s decision:

    U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissed a private lawsuit Manafort brought challenging Mueller’s authority and declined to throw out the criminal case when Manafort brought a similar argument there.

    So, both Trump and Manafort have tried to claim that the appointment of Mueller is unconstitutional, or illegitimate in some way. That argument had been through out of court.

  256. says

    From Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, on the subject of undocumented children apprehended at the southern border:

    They have big cages made out of fencing and wire and nets stretched across the top of them so people can’t climb out. It’s just a concrete floor and people are being given these space blankets to sleep on. A space blanket is…the equivalent of foil. So obviously a very uncomfortable situation to be in.

    [Merkley was told] “this is what’s required for security, this is what’s required for control.”

    Merkley also tried to visit an Office of Refugee Resettlement facility in Brownsville, Texas, where children were being detained. He was barred from entry, and the police were called. Merkley is a Senator, so it seems to me that viewing the actual conditions in which undocumented children are kept is part of his job.

    When my team called, they were told it’s the policy not to admit anyone into these centers and we would not be allowed to enter it. I conveyed, or my team conveyed, that I was going down to visit the border and see what was going on and I would try to come by and visit and hope that they rethought their position but obviously they didn’t.

    These are families that have gone through traumatic experiences abroad and we’ve always treated such families very graciously as they waited adjudication of their case. Now they’re being treated in an enormously cruel fashion, a fashion that rips children out of the arms of their parents, sends them off to places unknown while the parents are locked up.

    This is very, very traumatic for the children, so I wanted to be able to visit the facility where apparently upwards of 1,000 children are being held in that massive building, a former Walmart, and the federal government, President Trump and team, Attorney General Sessions, homeland security, they do not want members of Congress or the public to know what’s going on. […]

    Stay on the case, Senator Merkley. We do want to know what is going on.

    In comment 365, last sentence, “through” should be “thrown.”

  257. says

    Follow-up to comment 362.

    […] On August 5, 1974, acting Assistant Attorney General Mary C. Lawton addressed the question of whether POTUS can pardon himself in a memo. Her conclusion? It violates the basic notion that no one can serve as their own judge. President Richard Nixon resigned four days later. […]


  258. says

    Follow-up to comment 367.

    […] The Justice Department was right that guidance could be found in the enduring principles that no one can be both the judge and the defendant in the same matter, and that no one is above the law.

    The Constitution specifically bars the president from using the pardon power to prevent his own impeachment and removal. It adds that any official removed through impeachment remains fully subject to criminal prosecution. That provision would make no sense if the president could pardon himself. […]

    Washington Post link

  259. says

    All the best people.

    U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told far-right news site Breitbart London he wants to “empower” other anti-establishment conservatives around Europe to rise up against “elites.”

    “I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders,” Grenell said in an interview published late Sunday. “I think the election of Donald Trump has empowered individuals and people to say that they can’t just allow the political class to determine before an election takes place, who’s going to win and who should run.” […]


    Some pushback against Grenell’s ideas:

    “A cardinal rule of diplomacy is that Ambassadors must not interfere in the domestic politics of the countries to which they are accredited,” tweeted former diplomat Nicholas Burns, who served as the U.S. ambassador to NATO and Greece.

    “U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell makes clear he is a political activist who will use his position to promote political change in his host country (and all over Europe),” wrote Mathieu von Rohr, the deputy head of the foreign desk at Der Spiegel.

    Meanwhile, Grenell allied himself with other autocratic and obnoxious leaders:

    Grenell also told Breitbart he’s a “big fan” of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz from the right-wing Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP).

    “I think Sebastian Kurz is a rockstar,” Grenell said.

  260. says

    Why haven’t Trump and Putin met face-to-face? Putin explains:

    “You have to ask our colleagues in the USA,” Putin told Austrian broadcaster ORF, in remarks that were picked up by Reuters, when asked why a meeting hadn’t taken place. “In my view it is the consequence of the fierce domestic political contest in the United States.”

  261. says

    There are talks going on in China, talks meant to settle trade issues between China and the USA. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is leading the USA side of the talks. Things are not going well.

    High-level trade talks with China over the weekend produced no immediate breakthroughs […]

    China warned that “all economic and trade outcomes of the talks will not take effect if the U.S. side imposes any trade sanctions, including raising tariffs.” […]

    Trump made things worse with this tweet today:

    China already charges a tax of 16% on soybeans. Canada has all sorts of trade barriers on our Agricultural products. Not acceptable!

    From Doug Palmer:

    […] Last year, the United States exported more than $12 billion worth of soybeans to China, accounting for more than half of U.S. agricultural sales to that country.

    The purpose of Ross’ trip was described as negotiating long-term contracts with the Chinese to boost sales of U.S. agricultural and energy products. However, the prospects for success seemed dim after Trump revived the threat last week to impose new duties on Chinese goods. […]


  262. says

    Melania Trump is scheduled to make a public appearance today, her first after she was hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center to treat a “benign kidney condition.” Melania will host an event for Gold Star families.

  263. says

    Reports of Trump being, well … himself, on a phone call with Macron:

    A phone call between Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron about trade and migration reportedly went south after the French president bluntly criticized the U.S. president’s policies […]

    The pair spoke last Thursday, the same day that the United States announced it would impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Mexico and Canada.

    “Just bad. It was terrible,” an unnamed source told CNN. “Macron thought he would be able to speak his mind, based on the relationship. But Trump can’t handle being criticized like that.” […]

    In a statement released by the Elysée Palace prior to the call, Macron said he “regrets” the U.S. tariff decision and it is “not only illegal, it is a mistake on many points. It is a mistake because it responds to a worldwide unbalance that exists in the worst ways through fragmentations and economic nationalism.” […]


  264. says

    From former CIA Director John Brennan:

    […] So [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein, Bob Mueller and others are now looking into this and for the president at this point to say it’s unconstitutional, I think it just shows how worried is he, how fearful he is about what the special counsel is uncovering.

    And his tweets are not the tweets of an innocent individual. So I think it really demonstrates just how desperate he is getting, grasping at straws and … Rudy Giuliani as well.

    Neither Rudy nor his boss feel encumbered by facts, truth or common sense and that’s why they’re throwing these things out now to try to get whatever traction among their base as possible.

  265. says

    From Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George Conway, in reference to Trump claiming that “The appointment of the Special Councel [sic] is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”

    […] if this were true, you’d think this conservative Republican-controlled Department of Justice would revoke or decline to utilize the Special Counsel regulations. But it hasn’t.

  266. says

    Follow-up to comments 361, 362, 365, 367 and 368.

    From Wonkette’s coverage of the “I am king of the world” letters (memos) that Trump’s lawyers sent to Mueller:

    […] Shortly after the Leaker in Chief [accused] Robert Mueller of “leaking my lawyers letters” — possessives, how do they work? — the New York Times published two memos sent by the president’s esteemed legal team to the special counsel’s office in June 2017 and January 2018.

    You will be FOR SHOCKED to discover both memos are batshit insane. Spoiler alert: Trump thinks he’s King of America. Also, there is zero chance Mueller’s team leaked these documents. They’re clearly part of the White House media campaign to establish as “fact” that it’s impossible for the president to obstruct justice “because that would amount to him obstructing himself.” Yes, that is an actual quote from the memo. […]

    Does this argument sound familiar? [See link for a video of Nixon saying pretty much the same thing.]

    [snipped all the “L’etat, c’est moi” section]

    […] Yeah, these guys are actually arguing that a guy who spends his morning livetweeting “Fox & Friends” and has played 100 rounds of golf since inauguration is TOO BUSY for this Russia investigation. If only he weren’t distracted by Robert Mueller, Trump would have done a real good job with that Puerto Rican hurricane. You bet!

    The only major substantive revelation was that Trump wrote his son Junior’s bullshit “bouncy Russian babies” explanation for that Trump Tower meeting with all the Russian spies:

    You have received all of the notes, communications and testimony indicating that the President dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr. His son then followed up by making a full public disclosure regarding the meeting, including his public testimony that there was nothing to the meeting and certainly no evidence of collusion.

    This subject is a private matter with the New York Times. The President is not required to answer to the Office of the Special Counsel, or anyone else, for his private affairs with his children.

    So DJ was fibbing when he told the House Intelligence Committee he’s a big boy who wrote it all by himself, with a wee smidge of help from Hope Hicks? (What’s that word for when you make lie words under oath?) And when Jay Sekulow swore on Baby Jesus that Trump “wasn’t involved” in drafting the statement, that was a big fat lie, too? […]

  267. says

    New conspiracy theory: Trump is possessed by Richard Nixon.

    That’s made up, but at this point, it sounds as plausible as any other explanation for Trump’s behavior.

    In other news:

    Jimmy Fallon made a surprise visit at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s graduation ceremony on Sunday, nearly four months after the students survived a shooting that killed 17 of their classmates and teachers. […]

    NPR link

    Video available at the link.

    Some of the students will work this summer on voter-registration drives and on anti-gun legislation.

  268. says

    Yes, taxpayers in the USA are paying for ALL of Scott Pruitt’s personal stuff, his family vacation schedule, his personal purchases, etc. to be arranged. Pruitt doesn’t deal with that himself. Taxpayers pay the salary of the person(s) that does that for His Dunderheadedness: Pruitt had aide do numerous personal tasks, including a hunt for a used Trump hotel mattress

    In mid-September, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator’s director of scheduling and advance, Millan Hupp, contacted the Trump International Hotel in Washington with an unusual request. Hupp wanted to know how much the hotel would charge EPA chief Scott Pruitt for purchasing one of its used mattresses.

    Hupp’s search for a discount “Trump Home Luxury Plush Euro Pillow Top” mattress, which she detailed in a recent interview with congressional investigators, was one of several unusual tasks she performed for the administrator. The senior EPA official also scouted apartments for her boss in some of the District’s hippest neighborhoods and helped arrange his family vacation to California over the New Year’s holiday so that the Pruitts could watch the Oklahoma Sooners play in the Rose Bowl. […]

    Citing the new information that surfaced during Hupp’s interview, Cummings and Connolly asked that the chairman “issue a subpoena to obtain documents that are currently being withheld by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relating to Administrator Scott Pruitt’s multiple abuses of authority in using agency staff for his own personal purposes.”

    “If Ms. Hupp’s statements to the Committee are accurate, Administrator Pruitt crossed a very clear line and must be held accountable,” they added. […]

  269. says

    Mitch McConnell rolled over again and assumed a passive role when it comes to Trump’s policy decision. McConnell is a fighting bulldog when it comes to thwarting Democratic Party agendas, but when it comes to Trump, oh no, McConnell is helpless. Helpless!

    “Under the trade law, the president has pretty much all the ability to do these things, so there’s not much we can do to impact it,” McConnell said. “It’s really an executive branch activity, and he’s got the authority to do what he’s chosen to do. It’s just that I think many of us feel that it shouldn’t be done.”


    As Steve Benen noted:

    In case anyone’s forgotten, the U.S. Constitution empowers Congress to make decisions about “duties, imposts and excises,” and generally to oversee issues related to international trade. There have been subsequent laws, however, that create presidential authority to impose tariffs, without congressional approval, in the name of national security. It’s these laws that Trump is now exploiting.

    I will point out that Trump does not really have a good “national security” case. Justin Trudeau made that clear in reference to tariffs on Canadian goods.

    More from Steve Benen:

    But while McConnell’s passivity is predictable, it’s not altogether necessary. […]

    Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), referring to Trump’s tariffs, said over the weekend that he’s “working with like-minded Republican senators on ways to push back on the president using authorities in ways never intended and that are damaging to our country and our allies.”

    Corker is right, Trump is using authorities “in ways never intended and that are damaging to our country.”

    Other Republican Senators are also pushing back:

    […] Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who’s also leaving Capitol Hill, has had a bill pending since March to block the very tariffs Trump is imposing now.

    Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has a related bill, which Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) endorsed late last week.

    All of which is to say, Mitch McConnell, who says he disagrees with the White House on this, doesn’t have to take Trump’s move lying down. […]

    The Associated Press reported this morning, meanwhile, that some Republicans are “hoping Trump simply changes his mind” about tariffs “and doesn’t follow through” with his plan. Since that’s exceedingly unlikely, it’s up to lawmakers to try governing for a change.

  270. says

    Follow-up to comments 207 (SC) and 226.

    Remember when Trey Gowdy told the truth, however politely, and with a few caveats? Well, now Trump supporters are crucifying Gowdy.

    From former White House officials to longtime radio hosts, conservative media figureheads turned on a Republican lawmaker […]

    Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina has become the latest target for many of today’s pre-eminent conservative spokespeople after he defended the FBI on television shows this week […]

    “Frankly, I’ve always liked Trey Gowdy. Shame on Trey Gowdy,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said on his prime-time program Wednesday night.

    Trey Gowdy, Once Championed by the Right, Now a Pariah for FBI Defense

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Rush Limbaugh reportedly suggested Gowdy is complicit in a cover-up. Lou Dobbs labeled the congressman a “RINO” – for “Republican In Name Only.” Politico reported that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) “distributed a 950-word treatise Friday questioning Gowdy’s position.”

    […] Giuliani lashed out at Gowdy – who isn’t running for reelection – for his comments, saying that his constituents “would probably be outraged at what he’s doing.”

    He then veered off-topic, adding that those constituents “probably want to figure out what the hell he did with Benghazi.” Gowdy was the chair of the House committee that looked into the attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that left four dead, including Christopher Stevens, the US Ambassador to Libya.

    “He sure screwed that one up. You got four families that do not think that Trey Gowdy did his job,” Giuliani said.

    Keep in mind, Congress had already completed a series of lengthy investigations into the deadly attack in Benghazi when House GOP leaders tasked Gowdy for overseeing yet another investigation. Not surprisingly, it came to the same conclusions as all of the other examinations.

    Or put another way, Giuliani went after Gowdy for having twice told the truth in politically inconvenient ways.

    To the extent that reality matters, none of the Republicans attacking the South Carolina lawmaker have pointed to anything specific he got wrong. […]


  271. says

    From Josh Marshall we have this juicy tidbit suggesting that Putin may have helped Trump concoct the false statement about Donald Junior’s meeting with all those Russians in 2016:

    […] One of the many revelations from that “leaked” letter from the White House to the Mueller team is that the White House is now stating as a fact what it had long denied or at least seriously downplayed: that the President personally “dictated” the text of the original, false statement from his son describing the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. […] it’s long been disputed just how much role he had in writing the statement. Now that the President’s direct and apparently sole authorship is confirmed, it brings us back to a critical question that hasn’t been discussed in some time: Did Trump talk with Vladimir Putin one on one to get his cover story straight about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting?

    […] Natasha Bertrand, then of Business Insider and now of The Atlantic, tweeted out a link to a piece she wrote a year ago. The gist is this. The night before the President dictated that bogus cover story about Russian adoptions he’d met privately with Vladimir Putin and discussed, by his own account, Russian adoptions!

    […] It seems all but certain that Trump knew The New York Times was about to publish a story on the Trump Tower meeting before he met with Putin. Indeed, the way the meeting came about strongly suggests he had something he felt he needed to discuss privately with Putin out of earshot of other Americans. […]

    Early on the morning of Friday, July 7th, 2017, The New York Times contacted the White House about a story it was preparing on the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. The President was in Europe en route to the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. […]

    Yahoo News later reported that Trump’s lawyers had learned about the emails about the Trump Tower meeting some three weeks earlier (they’d been uncovered by Jared Kushner’s legal team). So Trump’s legal team and likely Trump himself knew about the existence of the damning emails weeks earlier. But they didn’t know until the morning of July 7th that a story was about to be published. […]

    During the day Trump had his first meeting as President (and apparently ever) with Vladimir Putin. […] As is normally the case, they were accompanied by key aides on both sides. But the two men met a second time that evening during a gala dinner […] This meeting was unplanned and reportedly included only Trump, Putin and Putin’s translator. No Americans. […] The President later said it was only about 15 minutes. A senior White House officials told CNN it lasted as long as an hour. What did the two men talk about? Two weeks later, the President sat for an interview with The New York Times and said he and Putin talked about Russian adoptions.

    Here’s the passage.

    TRUMP: She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, and that’s the way it is. So the meal was going, and toward dessert I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about — things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.

    HABERMAN: You did?

    TRUMP: We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting. […]

    More details, including a timeline, are available at the link.

  272. says

    Good news:

    […] “We’re going to places where the NRA has bought and paid for politicians who refuse to take simple steps to save our lives,” the March for Our Lives leaders said in a statement. The group will visit communities affected by gun violence “to meet fellow survivors and use our voices to amplify theirs.” […]

    “We can fix the political system,” [Cameron] Kasky said. ” Our generation and the many generations that are helping us can change the game.” […]

    USA today link. Scroll down a bit to hide the auto-advertising and to view the story, “Parkland students’ bus tour targets places where NRA ‘bought and paid for politicians'”

  273. says

    Oh, FFS!

    During an interview on Monday, Fox News host Harris Faulkner and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) vigorously agreed that President Trump has the power to pardon himself. […]

  274. says

    U.S. mulls taking more direct role in Yemen by helping capture a crucial port

    But taking over the port of Hodeidah will cut off a near-starving population from food and medical supplies.

    The United States has supported the Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes in Yemen for the past three years, but it may soon take on a larger role in the war-torn country. Saudi ally United Arab Emirates has reportedly asked the United States for help to capture a key port from the Houthi rebels — a move that could result in major casualties and hamper the flow of goods into the country. […]

    From the ICRC:

    – The food chain.
    – The health-care system.
    – The education system.
    – The sewer and water system.

    These have all collapsed in #Yemen.

    Much more at the link.

  275. says

    “This Is What The Next Phase Of March For Our Lives Will Look Like”:

    The March for Our Lives organizers are embarking on the next phase of their anti–gun violence movement: a 60-day bus tour across the US this summer to register young people to vote and to continue highlighting the NRA’s influence over politics.

    “This tour is about exposing people who take money from the NRA and registering people to vote — those are the two main things we’re trying to push with this,” Jaclyn Corin, a student who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in February, told BuzzFeed News on Sunday.

    They’re calling it “March for Our Lives: Road to Change.” It begins with a peace march on June 15 in Chicago and will take students to more than 50 stops in more than 20 states, including Iowa, California, South Carolina, Connecticut, and Texas, the state where 10 people were killed at Santa Fe High School last month.

    “I think that it’s important that we include everybody in this conversation, because it’s everybody that’s affected by this issue, and we have to work together to solve it,” Parkland student and organizer David Hogg told BuzzFeed News. “And I think being on the ground is the best way to do that.”

    “Just a handshake or looking somebody in the eye, rather than speaking to them through the TV, is a lot more impactful,” he said.

    Emma González, who recently graduated from Marjory Stoneman, said she and her fellow survivors are still being trolled online. She hopes the bus tour will connect the activists with those who are opposed to their movement.

    “It’s so easy to be mean [when you’re] anonymously online, and when you take that anonymity away you are people again,” González said.

    In a separate, simultaneous tour around Florida, the students will make more than 25 stops and aim to visit every one of the state’s congressional districts.

    “Because Florida is like a microcosm of the United States,” said Corin, “in the way that there are so many different areas, with so many different views, which is important to target all of them — because preaching to the choir essentially doesn’t do much, but going to the places that disagree with us is really where we’re going to make the change.”…

  276. says

    blf @ #354:

    My Ms Trump hypothesis: She’s up to her eyeballs in the shenanigans, lies, and corruption.

    Hm. I don’t think that’s what the existing evidence suggests. She’s certainly willing to stand silently by while they lie, cheat, and steal, and even sometimes speak in defense of one act or another, but it appears she’s tangential to most of what they’re doing. I honestly think she despises him and feels trapped.

  277. says

    “Pentagon opens investigation into Ronny Jackson allegations”:

    The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General has opened an investigation into allegations related to Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s one-time personal White House physician whose nomination as veterans affairs secretary was withdrawn amid allegations of misconduct and poor administration of the White House medical office.

    “The DoD Office of Inspector General has initiated an investigation into allegations related to Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Ronny L. Jackson,” IG spokesman Bruce Anderson said in a statement to CNN.

    Anderson would not say if the investigation is administrative or criminal in nature, although the IG can conduct both. The investigation was initiated in the last month, he said, and includes interviews with persons he declined to identify.

    Jackson is facing allegations of personal and professional misconduct by unidentified current and former colleagues including that he casually dispensed prescription drugs.

    Jackson has been nominated for a second star. Now that his nomination has been withdrawn, he would have to be confirmed for the second star by the Senate or put in for retirement. If he retires, it would have to be determined by the Navy when he last served honorably and he would retire at that level.

  278. says

    In her new report, the Cohen special master Barbara Jones finds:

    From the 8 boxes of hard copy materials – out of 639 items totaling 12,543 pages, she agrees with Cohen and/or the intervenors that 14 items are privileged or partially privileged; finds that 3 other items (presumably claimed as privileged) are not privileged.

    From the contents of two phones and an iPad – out of 291,770 total items, she agrees with Cohen and/or the intervenors that 148 items are privileged or partially privileged and 7 items are highly personal (medical records and such).

    That’s…not much.

  279. says

    Article about #391 – “Special master in Michael Cohen case finds few privileged items in initial review of files”:

    …The review represents only a fraction of the documents, which include computer hard drives expected to contain hundreds of thousands more files.

    While Jones is not finished with her review, Monday’s report seems to weigh against the initial concerns expressed by Cohen’s attorneys, that a potentially large number of documents would be privileged.

  280. says

    Would it be possible to get toys, books, letters, and things to the kids who’ve been taken away from their parents at the border or arrive alone? Like, could that be set up? If the items arrived, would they be allowed in? Could the Red Cross or the Quakers or Amnesty or some celebrity organize it?

    If nothing else, could we maybe donate for airplanes to write caring messages above the places they’re being held?

  281. says

    JUST IN: U.S. Special Counsel Mueller says ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has attempted to tamper with potential witness – court filing.”

    Chris Hayes is reporting that they’ve asked for the revocation of his bail.

  282. says

    Follow-up to comments 395 and 399 (SC).

    Trump’s little tantrum about Eagles is getting some negative attention of social media, including a post from an aide to Philadelphia’s mayor in which side-by-side photos troll Trump about crowd size.

    The chief of staff for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) trolled President Trump with a side-by-side photo of Trump’s inauguration crowd and Eagles fans celebrating the team’s Super Bowl win.

    “Our party was bigger than yours,” Jane Slusser tweeted in response to Trump’s decision to rescind the Eagles’ invitation to the White House because not all of the players wanted to attend. […]

    Link. Photos at the link.

    From Mayor Jim Kenney:

    Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.

    From Senator Bob Casey:

    I’m proud of what the @Eagles accomplished this year. I’m skipping this political stunt at the White House and just invited the Eagles to Congress. @Eagles How about a tour of the Capitol?

  283. says

    SC @390, agreed. Germany should kick that dunderhead out.

    In other news, Papadopoulos’ wife asked Trump to pardon her husband.

    The wife of former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos on Monday appealed to President Trump to pardon her husband, who pleaded guilty last year in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

    Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that her husband was “dedicated and committed” to the Trump campaign. She said his “freedom is challenged” after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI last October amid the probe into Russian campaign interference.

    “So I trust and hope and ask to President Trump to pardon him. I hope he will,” she said. […]

    It will be interesting to see if Trump pardons the guy that team Trump characterized as “the coffee boy.”

    Rachel Maddow pointed out that Trump will have to pardon all of the Russians that Mueller has indicted if he wants to stop the investigation. Maddow Link

    Rachel Maddow explains why if Donald Trump wanted to pardon his way out of the Mueller investigation by pardoning all of his family, friends, and colleagues, the Russian indictments would still keep everyone on the hook, so Trump would have to pardon the Russians too.

  284. says

    Here’s the Mueller filing alleging – and showing, to be frank – Manafort’s witness tampering.* The attached exhibits are fascinating. I’m still shocked by the shabbiness of Gusenbauer and Prodi, former heads of Austria and Italy, getting their payments to act as shills for Putin. Here’s Prodi’s 2013 appearance at the Carnegie Endowment, the same week he was meeting with and trying to influence US legislators, and here’s the oped under his name that Manafort planted in the NYT.

    * It’s all so stupid – Manafort had to suspect that by this year Mueller’s team had not just witnesses but documents.

  285. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comments 391 and 392.

    We now have percentages of privileged documents.

    About 2.0% of the paper documents reviewed are privileged.

    About 0.05% of the electronic records are privileged.

    Very little indeed. The “Fixer” was not doing much lawyering.

  286. says

    Follow-up to comment 339.

    It’s been mentioned up-thread that Trump’s excuse for tariffs, “national security,” is bogus, and that Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau called Trump out on that bogus excuse.

    Here’s more of what Trudeau said:

    […] interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd aired on “Meet the Press,” in which Trudeau condemned the claim from the Trump White House that new tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum are necessary for American national security interests.

    “Our soldiers who had fought and died together on the beaches of World War II … and the mountains of Afghanistan, and have stood shoulder to shoulder in some of the most difficult places in the world, that are always there for each other, somehow — this is insulting to them,” Trudeau said.

    He added, “The idea that the Canadian steel that’s in military, military vehicles in the United States, the Canadian aluminum that makes your, your fighter jets is somehow now a threat? The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable.”

    Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said,

    Looking at latest decisions of [Donald Trump] someone could even think: with friends like that who needs enemies.

    Yesterday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, when asked what Trump considers his top achievement, said this:

    I think that there have been a number of major foreign policy achievements,” she replied. “Certainly, I think the strengthening of relationships with a number of foreign leaders.

    Is everybody on team Trump delusional?

  287. says

    In response to Trump’s idiotic claim that he can pardon himself, fourteen lawyers and law professors wrote a rebuttal. They sent the rebuttal to the White House.

    “The Office of the President is not a get-out-of-jail free card for lawless behavior,” the lawyers wrote. “Indeed, our country’s Founders made it clear in the Declaration of Independence that they did not believe that even a king had such powers…Our Founders would not have created — and did not create — a Constitution that would permit the President to use his powers to violate the laws for corrupt and self-interested reasons.”

    The letter came in response to a New York Times report on Saturday that the Trump legal team sent Mueller a 20-page memo in January arguing that Trump was incapable of obstructing justice in the Russia collusion case because he could “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon.”

    In their Monday letter, the legal experts argued that Trump could not end Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation or pardon himself afterwards without running afoul of the Constitution.

    “The federal obstruction laws, with their bar on corruptly-motivated actions, apply whether the President obstructs an investigation through firing officials leading it, shutting down the investigation, ordering the destruction of documents, or dangling or issuing pardons to induce witnesses to impede the investigation,” they wrote.

    “Just as the President could not use otherwise lawful firing powers in exchange for a bribe without running afoul of federal bribery laws, he is not free to exempt himself from the application of the obstruction of justice laws,” they added.

    The letter is addressed specifically to Trump attorneys Donald McGahn and Emmet Flood and was organized by a group called “Protect Democracy,” a nonpartisan watchdog.


  288. says

    Trump tweeted this lie today at 5:58 AM:

    Separating families at the Border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats. Border Security laws should be changed but the Dems can’t get their act together! Started the Wall.

    AP fact-check says:

    No law mandates that parents must be separated from their children at the border, and it’s not a policy Democrats have pushed or can change alone as the minority in Congress.


    More details at the link.

  289. says

    Unsurprisingly, Melania Trump’s spokeswoman is an asshole:

    No press was allowed at the event and no official photos hit the newswires, but the First Lady tweeted a couple of herself at the president’s right side. “Mrs. Trump has always been a strong and independent woman who puts her family, and certainly her health, above all else, and that won’t change over a rabid press corps,” East Wing spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham wrote with her distinctive flair to The New York Times on Monday. “She’s confident in what she is doing and in her role, and knows the rest is just speculation and nonsense.”

    People were genuinely concerned about her well-being, especially after a sudden medical procedure that required her to spend far more time than usual in the hospital and a great deal of secrecy as to her condition and whereabouts. Grisham could simply have said that she was recovering and asks that people respect her privacy, or arranged for her to talk to a friendly reporter to put concerns to rest. Instead she went with this. Asshole.

  290. says

    EXCLUSIVE: Former Fox News reporter says Russians colluded with Trump campaign through Roger Stone

    New book details Russians’ decisive role in making Trump’s campaign messages go viral.

    […] In his interviews with ThinkProgress, Cameron [former Fox News Channel chief political correspondent Carl Cameron], who covered the Trump campaign for Fox News, connected the dots between the campaign, Russian intelligence, and the various Russian trolls around the world who were creating and viralizing memes and fake news on social media to help elect Trump. […]

    In 2016, Cameron explained, Stone helped Guccifer2.0 — who worked for Russian intelligence — and other Russian-backed groups boost an anti-Clinton narrative online targeted at key groups. Stone direct-messaged with Guccifer2.0 and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange on Twitter in August 2016.

    Stone denies this was collusion, but as Cameron explains, “it’s important to know that Roger’s entire career was based on doing dirty tricks. He boasted about it from the time he was in college until today.”

    Guccifer2.0, who claimed credit for giving WikiLeaks the DNC’s stolen emails, had been masquerading as a self-described “lone hacker.” Stone amplified that phony narrative in an August piece for Breitbart News, Steve Bannon’s viral pro-Trump fake news site. In a piece headlined “Dear Hillary: DNC Hack Solved, So Now Stop Blaming Russia,” Stone asserted: “I think I’ve got the real culprit. It doesn’t seem to be the Russians that hacked the DNC, but instead a hacker who goes by the name of Guccifer2.0.”

    But FBI investigators were able to track Guccifer2.0 online and determined he was an officer of Russian military intelligence, […]

    Late last month, emails obtained by the Wall Street Journal revealed that Stone withheld documents from the House Intelligence Committee that showed he lied about his communications with radio host Randy Credico, who he viewed as a back channel to WikiLeaks during the campaign. […]

    As Cameron explained to ThinkProgress, a key goal of this coordination was to create opportunities for Russian intelligence and Russian trolls. The point was to viralize the anti-Clinton memes and narratives to suppress the vote for her. […]

    with the help of Cambridge Analytica’s voter profiling, the campaign could identify a core group of voters who didn’t much like either Trump or Clinton, particularly blue-collar voters, and micro-target them with tailor-made anti-Clinton messages aimed at swinging some toward Trump and depressing the vote of the rest. Cameron said the senior people in the campaign believe this final push made the difference.

    […] the Russian efforts to viralize anti-Clinton memes and the campaign’s efforts to micro-target voters with Cambridge Analytica appear to have been decisive. […]

    More at the link.

  291. says

    Josh Marshall – “What On Earth Is Going On With George Papadopoulos?”:

    …What got attention last night was Mangiante basically begging for a pardon for her husband. But what got my attention was a bit different. Far from the posture one normally expects from a cooperating witness, Mangiante was essentially claiming her husband had been set up by the FBI and indeed that more evidence of FBI “spying” on her husband and the campaign was still to emerge. In the past, Mangiante had gone so far as to claim her husband would emerge as the “John Dean” of the Russia scandal, basically implying that he was the inside player whose testimony would prove the undoing of the President. In this video, before she asks Trump for a pardon, she rather unconvincingly explains that she never meant “John Dean” in the sense that the President had done anything wrong.

    In other parts of the interview, Mangiante could have been reading almost verbatim from recent articles in The Daily Caller or Breitbart….

    Video of Mangiante on Tucker Carlson’s show at the link.

  292. says

    There were large demonstrations in Argentina over the weekend calling for the legalization of abortion, driven especially by young women. I had linked a while back to some of the debate in the Argentinian congress prior to an upcoming vote. The small portion I had a chance to listen to was very impressive – frank discussion of divisions on the subject amongst Catholics (even though the institutional church is the largest force fighting against legalization); debate about religious liberty in relation to other human rights; information about poverty and access to reproductive services; discussion of (the lack of) sex education; the relationship of reproductive rights to other women’s rights; and so on. I can’t imagine a congressional debate at that level in the US right now.

  293. says

    “Scott Pruitt enlisted an EPA aide to help his wife find a job — with Chick-fil-A”:

    Three months after Scott Pruitt was sworn in as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, his executive scheduler emailed Dan Cathy, chairman and president of the fast food company Chick-fil-A, with an unusual request: Would Cathy meet with Pruitt to discuss “a potential business opportunity”?

    A call was arranged, then canceled, and Pruitt eventually spoke with someone from the company’s legal department. Only then did he reveal the “opportunity” on his mind was a job for his wife, Marlyn.

    “The subject of that phone call was an expression of interest in his wife becoming a Chick-fil-A franchisee,” company representative Carrie Kurlander told The Washington Post via email.

    Marlyn Pruitt never opened a restaurant. “Administrator Pruitt’s wife started, but did not complete, the Chick-fil-A franchisee application,” Kurlander said. But the revelation that Pruitt used his official position and EPA staff to try to line up work for his wife appears to open a new chapter in the ongoing saga of his questionable spending and management decisions, which so far have spawned a dozen federal probes.

    Pruitt’s efforts on his wife’s behalf — revealed in emails recently released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Sierra Club — did not end with Chick-fil-A. Pruitt also approached the chief executive of Concordia, a New York nonprofit organization. The executive, Matthew Swift, said he ultimately paid Marlyn Pruitt $2,000 plus travel expenses to help organize the group’s annual conference last September.

    Multiple current and former EPA aides, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, said Pruitt told them he was eager for his wife to start receiving a salary. Two said Pruitt was frustrated in part by the high cost of maintaining homes in both Washington and Oklahoma….

  294. says

    Not buying McConnell’s excuse, but it will be interesting to see if the Senate gets anything done in August.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced on Tuesday that he has canceled three weeks of the chamber’s month-long August recess due to “historic obstruction” by Democrats. He said senators will spend the time working to approve nominees and spending bills. Senators are still expected to have the first week of August off.

    Politico link

    My bet is that McConnell is expecting more bad news to come down the pike from all the various investigations that are ongoing, and that that bad news may cripple team Trump and/or make it more difficult for Senate Republicans to continue to play passive doormat when Trump takes actions that are damaging to the country.

    The other possibility is that McConnell expects Republicans to be soundly defeated in the midterms, so he thinks this is his last chance to install dunderheaded rightwingers at all levels of the U.S. justice system. McConnell if feeling pressured to get über conservative justices in place before team Trump implodes.

  295. says

    “Judge: Trump can be deposed in Summer Zervos lawsuit”:

    A judge ruled Tuesday that President Donald Trump can be deposed in a defamation lawsuit brought last year by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice” who says Trump kissed and groped her after she appeared on the show.

    Lawyers for both sides must issue their demands for documents as part of discovery by July 13, and those responses must be provided by Sept. 27, Judge Jennifer Schechter ordered Tuesday. Both parties are ordered to submit third party subpoenas by March 23, 2019.

    Schechter ordered both parties to submit to depositions too, with a deadline of Jan. 31, 2019. All depositions of people who are “non-parties” to the case must be conducted by Feb. 28. She ordered fact discovery to be completed by April 12.

    Trump could still avoid a deposition, though. His lawyers have appealed to New York’s highest court in hopes of avoiding it. His legal team has argued that Zervos’ lawsuit is politically motivated….

  296. says

    DeVos was forced to capitulate. She said earlier that it was up to individual schools to decide their policy on reporting undocumented students. She was wrong and she caught hell for it.

    If Trump hadn’t installed “all the best people” in his cabinet, we might have had an Education Secretary who knew the basics before she blundered into making ignorant and bigoted statements.

    […] More than 100 House and Senate Democrats signed a letter this week urging DeVos to clarify that schools are obligated “to serve all children, regardless of immigration status.”

    On Tuesday, during testimony before a Senate appropriations subcommittee, DeVos said that “school is a sacrosanct place for students to be able to learn and they should be protected.”

    DeVos called Plyler vs. Doe a “settled case” that allows “students who are not documented have the right to an education.” She added that “it’s incumbent on us to ensure that those students have a safe and secure environment to attend school.” […]

    Politico link

  297. says

    “It’s typical of him. I’m not surprised. … I know no matter who wins this series no one wants to get invited to go.” – LeBron on Trump disinviting the Eagles from the White House

    “For them not to be invited playing our beautiful game of basketball … those women are unbelievable at doing it, I think it’s laughable.” – LeBron on the Minnesota Lynx not getting an invitation to the White House after their championship

    LeBron James: “Let’s not let someone uninviting you from their house take away from their championship… Winning a championship is way bigger than getting invited to the White House, especially with him in it.”

  298. says

    Well, that’s sneaky. Not right.

    The Trump administration justifies its “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses into the US illegally — including asylum-seeking parents who are separated from their children by being placed in criminal jails — by saying that people who want asylum should seek it the “right way”: by presenting themselves at an official port of entry into the US (like an official road checkpoint at the US-Mexico border) rather than coming into the country illegally between checkpoints.

    But some immigrants who try to seek asylum the “right way” are being turned away and told there’s no room for them now. And there’s evidence that border agents are physically blocking some asylum seekers from setting foot on US soil — in other words, from triggering a legal right to claim asylum in the US — to begin with. […]


  299. says

    Trump’s supporters on Fox News are, like Trump, getting everything wrong:

    […] No Eagles players ever stayed in the locker room during the national anthem, nor did any players kneel during the regular season or the playoffs.

    And when Fox News tried to pile on by showing footage of players it claimed were protesting during the national anthem, it backfired — because those players weren’t protesting; they were praying. […]


    Fox News just insulted Christian football players. Schadenfreude moment.

  300. says

    “Alex van der Zwaan, only person to serve time in Mueller investigation, deported”*:

    The first person to serve jail time for a charge brought by special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation was deported and arrived in the Netherlands Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials told CNN.

    Alex van der Zwaan was turned over to Dutch authorities, the officials added, a day after he was released from a low-security federal prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, after serving 30 days. He also was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine….

    * Annoying headline. “Only” suggests that the investigation is over, which it very much is not. He’s the only one so far.

  301. says

    Update to Lynna’s #369 – “Calls grow in Germany for expulsion of disputed US envoy”:

    Leading politicians of Germany’s left-wing parties on Tuesday called for the US ambassador to be expelled, after the staunch defender of Donald Trump was accused of meddling in domestic politics and aggravating already tense ties.

    Richard Grenell had taken up his diplomatic posting on May 8, and immediately sparked an uproar when he tweeted on the same day that German companies should stop doing business with Iran as Trump quit the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.

    He stoked further outrage over the weekend with his reported comments of his ambition to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders”.

    Grenell also raised eyebrows with his plan to host Austria’s conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz — who the US envoy describes as a “rock star”, for lunch on June 13….

  302. says

    “FCC Emails Show Agency Spread Lies to Bolster Dubious DDoS Attack Claims”:

    As it wrestled with accusations about a fake cyberattack last spring, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) purposely misled several news organizations, choosing to feed journalists false information, while at the same time discouraging them from challenging the agency’s official story.

    Internal emails reviewed by Gizmodo lay bare the agency’s efforts to counter rife speculation that senior officials manufactured a cyberattack, allegedly to explain away technical problems plaguing the FCC’s comment system amid its high-profile collection of public comments on a controversial and since-passed proposal to overturn federal net neutrality rules.

    The FCC has been unwilling or unable to produce any evidence an attack occurred—not to the reporters who’ve requested and even sued over it, and not to U.S. lawmakers who’ve demanded to see it. Instead, the agency conducted a quiet campaign to bolster its cyberattack story with the aid of friendly and easily duped reporters, chiefly by spreading word of an earlier cyberattack that its own security staff say never happened….

    IIRC, then-New York AG Eric Schneiderman had announced that his office was opening an investigation into the public comments. It wasn’t about an attack, but a possible influence campaign in which the anti-net neutrality position was supported by a large number of suspiciously similar comments and many had used stolen personal identifiers. Strange that this article doesn’t mention it. I don’t know what if anything became of that investigation.

  303. says

    Trump manages to turn hyperbole into lying. That’s how far he goes. He even does so when the news is good from his point of view, and no hyperbole or lying of spin is required to get his message out:

    [Trump] bragged about the nation’s job totals as if they represented an extraordinary accomplishment. They didn’t: job growth in 2017 was actually the worst in seven years.

    So far in 2018, the numbers look better, which has apparently led Trump to take his rhetoric in an even more irresponsible direction. Take some of his tweets from yesterday:

    “In many ways this is the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America and the best time EVER to look for a job! … Best Economy & Jobs EVER”

    Over the first 16 months of Trump’s presidency, the economy has created 2.97 million jobs. What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. It’s a perfectly good number, reflecting a healthy job market. But what he may not know is that in the preceding 16 months — in other words, Barack Obama’s final 16 months in office — the economy created 3.45 million jobs. […]

    What Donald Trump, eager to repeat self-aggrandizing boasts, seems to miss is a simple truth: there’s a difference between seeing the strongest job growth in the history of the United States and seeing the strongest job growth since 2015.

    What’s more, the president also continues to make the mistake of being born on third base and thinking he hit a triple. […]

    Maybe, Trump fans will argue, job growth is nice, but what really matters is the strength of the overall economy. It’s why the president said yesterday that this is “the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America.”

    Except it’s not. GDP growth, for example, looked good in the president’s first year, but it fell short, not only of Trump’s campaign promises, but also of GDP growth across much of Barack Obama’s presidency. […]

    […] the economy is healthy enough that Trump shouldn’t feel the need to lie about it. The idea that there’s “never been an economy like this” – a claim he peddled at a recent rally – is absurd. On many occasions, and by every relevant metric, we’ve seen vastly stronger economies throughout American history.

    When the economy is in good shape, there’s no reason for Trump or anyone else to spin it, massage it, or repackage it in misleading ways. Telling the truth works fine. Maybe the White House should try it.


  304. says

    Some Republicans are campaigning on the issue of healthcare by blaming Obamacare for rising insurance premiums. They are wrong.

    […] What’s driving the sudden spike in premiums? We need only ask those responsible for the rates. Take yesterday, for example.

    “With respect to the individual market, the single biggest justification offered by insurers for the requested increases is the Trump Administration’s repeal of the individual mandate penalty,” New York’s Department of Financial Services said in a statement.

    “Insurers have attributed approximately half of their requested rate increases to the risks they see resulting from its repeal.” […]

    Reporting on the latest data from the Congressional Budget Office, Axios recently added, “Insurance premiums tend to go up every year, but the magnitude of these increases stems largely from the repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate, the expansion of skimpy short-term plans, and the decision last year to cut off the law’s cost-sharing payments.” […]

    [For GOP politicians], premium hikes are necessarily the Affordable Care Act’s fault because, well, just because. The trouble is, the health insurers have made no effort to hide the truth: they’re raising premiums because of Republican changes to the system. […]

    Maddow Blog link

    Washington Post link to “Health care is still a mess. Republicans are making it worse.”

    […] the nation still faces huge cost and coverage challenges, and Republicans are making some of the direst problems worse.

    The government spends a whopping $685 billion on nonelderly health coverage, which equals 3.4 percent of the economy. And costs are going up, fast. Federal health-care subsidy spending is set to rise by 6 percent per year for the next decade. This is not a result only of Obamacare subsidies; the federal government spends far more to subsidize the employer-based coverage most Americans get than it does Obamacare’s individual market insurance plans. For all the rancorous debate about the law, only 4 percent of Americans get their coverage on the Obamacare marketplaces.

    Despite the spending, 29 million people, about 11 percent of the nonelderly population, lack health insurance. In 10 years, that number will have risen to 35 million. The CBO’s 2027 estimate is about 5 million more people than the last time it ran the numbers. […]

  305. says

    Update to SC’s comment 414.

    This update is also from Josh Marshall:

    […] it’s basically an open secret that no one thinks Simona Mangiante is Italian. Everyone thinks she’s Russian – press, law enforcement, basically everyone. But ‘think’ isn’t proof. I confirmed on good authority, for instance, that she travels on an Italian passport. It seems like her claim isn’t easily disproven. Even she says that no one seems to believe she’s Italian, but she is. WTF?

    All of this might be just a weird curiosity if not for how the two met, or reportedly met. Simona Mangiante worked for Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious Maltese academic, who is reportedly a Russian agent and was the one who told Papadopoulos about the “dirt” Russia had on Hillary Clinton. Maybe that’s just a coincidence. But it raises some obvious questions and questions that become more pressing if Mangiante is somehow a Russian who is masquerading as an Italian national. If any of this were true, surely the Special Counsel’s office would be able to get to the bottom of it or at least raise obvious questions about her background, right?

    In case it isn’t obvious, none of this makes sense. If Mangiante is somehow not who she claims to be, the craziest thing would be to do a media tour and spur these kinds of questions. It makes equally little sense that Papadopoulos would endanger his cooperation agreement and the likely lenience that bought him for a long-shot play for a pardon. For now all I can say is that level headed people who are very familiar with this part of the Russia story can’t figure out what is up with these two either. […]

  306. says

    Oh, FFS. This is another one of those moments in a Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ press briefing when I find it hard to believe that the entire room doesn’t burst out in scoffing laughter:

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday finally addressed questions from a roomfull of reporters about misleading statements she made last year — by bashing the media’s credibility.

    Sanders said that she is “an honest person who works extremely hard” to give reporters “accurate and up-to-date information.”

    “Frankly, I think my credibility is probably higher than the media’s,” she said. “I think in large part that’s because you guys spend more of your time focused on attacking the President instead of reporting the news. I think if you spent a little bit more time reporting the news instead of trying to tear me down, you might actually see we’re working hard to provide you good information and trying to provide that same good information to the American people.” […]


  307. says

    Steve Rosenberg:

    Putin takes part in his annual TV phone-in show on Thursday. Among the questions Russians have already sent in:
    ‘Is it lonely up there at the top?’
    ‘Will you meet Trump this year?’
    ‘Who’ll win the World Cup?’
    ‘Should we defend our geopolitical interests more aggressively?’

  308. says

    Putin: Donald Trump and I have, firstly, met more than once at various international venues and secondly, we regularly talk over the phone.

    Putin: There is such a person in the United State–Mr Soros, who interferes in all affairs around the world. I often hear from my American friends that ‘America as a state has nothing to do with [his activities]’. There are rumours circulating now that Mr Soros is planning to make the euro highly volatile. Experts are already discussing this. Ask the State Department why he is doing this. The State Department will say that it has nothing to do with them – rather it is Mr Soros’ private affair.

    Lynna: Sheesh!

  309. says

    Follow-up to comment 366.

    U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon wasn’t the only federal official barred from entering an immigration facility in recent days. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey tweeted that his office was also blocked from entering “a migrant processing facility where families are being separated”:

    “When the elected representatives of the people can’t observe how our government is operating, we’re in an upside down world.” […]


  310. says

    Top energy regulator troubled by use of wartime language for coal and nuclear bailout

    […] Trump’s order, which directed the Department of Energy (DOE) to find ways to force Americans to buy power from failing coal and nuclear plants, is another plot twist in a year-long narrative — fabricated by the White House — about a national security crisis on the horizon.

    Most industry officials still don’t believe the closing of older coal and nuclear power plants is creating conditions for a national emergency. The nation’s top energy regulator also is concerned by the Trump administration’s use of wartime language in its bid to bail out these two sectors.

    FERC’s McIntyre, who gave a keynote speech at the EIA conference on Tuesday, told reporters after his talk that he found certain language in the Defense Production Act problematic if it were used to benefit coal and nuclear plants. […]

    “The opening phrase uses something along the lines of ‘in a time of continuing war,’” noted McIntyre, who was appointed chairman of the agency by Trump. “It has the feel of a kind of wartime emergency.” […]

    Much more at the link.

  311. says

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders and April Ryan exchanged heated words during the briefing today. April Ryan just wasn’t having it.

    […] “Is the President aware that this is about police-involved shootings and not disrespecting the flag?” Ryan asked about football players kneeling, despite Sanders’ attempt to call on another reporter.

    When Ryan had captured Sanders’ attention, she asked her full question. “There are black and brown soldiers that fight in the military as well who feel that taking a knee, bringing an attention to police-involved shootings, is something that this White House should deal with,” she said. “Is the President aware that taking the knee is about police-involved shootings?”

    As Sanders began to answer, Ryan tried to pull her back to the specific question, earning a sharp rebuke from the press secretary.

    “I let you rudely interrupt me and your colleague,” Sanders said. “I’m going to ask that you allow me to finish my answer. I would be happy to answer it if you would stop talking long enough to let me do that.”

    She went on to say that standing for the national anthem makes America “special and unique” and that the President is not going to “back down” on that stance.

    Scroll down to watch the video here.

    Huckabee Sanders never actually answered April Ryan’s question.

  312. says

    Julia Davis:

    #Russia’s state TV:
    Dean of Moscow state University: “The EU is coming apart at the seams —thanks to American God & voters, Trump is smashing it with a sledgehammer. That’s why Putin says he isn’t trying to weaken the EU. Why would he bother? Trump is doing all the work for him.”

  313. says

    “Cambridge Analytica director ‘met Assange to discuss US election'”:

    A Cambridge Analytica director apparently visited Julian Assange in February last year and told friends it was to discuss what happened during the US election, the Guardian has learned.

    Brittany Kaiser, a director at the firm until earlier this year, also claimed to have channelled cryptocurrency payments and donations to WikiLeaks. This information has been passed to congressional and parliamentary inquiries in the UK and US.

    Cambridge Analytica and WikiLeaks are already subjects of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but the revelations open up fresh questions about the precise nature of the organisations’ relationship….

    Alexander Nix is testifying before Damian Collins’ committee in Parliament right now. The Guardian is liveblogging, naturally.

  314. says

    From the G liveblog:

    (When Nix was called to Parliament, Dominic Cummings, the leader of Vote Leave, was also summoned; Nix agreed, but Cummings refused. There will now be a Commons debate on Cummings’ refusal to attend… which Cummings will attend:…

    Trolling parliament is a risky strategy.)

  315. says

    Chris Vickery:

    Alexander Nix just stated in live testimony that what I found was not raw voter data. Here’s the truth: I purposely refrained from accessing the raw databases. I found the usernames, passwords, and network locations. All out in the open.

  316. says

    From the article @ #445:

    Kaiser told MPs that her principal connection to WikiLeaks was via John Jones QC. Jones represented Assange in his extradition case against the Swedish government and became a close, personal friend, visiting him weekly until he was killed by a train in April 2016. The inquest ruled that no-one else was involved in the death of Jones, who had been depressed.

    Jones’s legal assistant, Robert Murtfeld, who worked closely with him on the WikiLeaks case subsequently went to work for Cambridge Analytica as director of commercial sales in New York. Information passed to the US and UK committees reveals that Murtfield had arranged Kaiser’s visit to Assange last year.

  317. says

    Having succeeded in law, Giuliani turns his hand to international diplomacy:

    “Kim Jong Un Begged for Summit ‘on His Hands and Knees,’ Giuliani Says”:

    President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un got “on his hands and knees and begged” for their summit to be held after Mr. Trump canceled it last month.

    Mr. Giuliani counseled a similar approach to Trump administration negotiations with Palestinian officials in a future Middle East peace process.

    Speaking at an investment conference in Israel hosted by the “Globes” newspaper, Mr. Giuliani said Mr. Trump canceled the summit last month because senior North Korean officials insulted top Trump administration officials.

    “They also said they were going to go to nuclear war with us, they were going to defeat us in a nuclear war,” Mr. Giuliani said. “We said we’re not going to have a summit under those circumstances.”

    After Mr. Trump canceled the meeting, Mr. Giuliani said: “Well, Kim Jong Un got back on his hands and knees and begged for it, which is exactly the position you want to put him in.”

    A man who answered the phone at North Korea’s United Nations office said no one was available to comment.

    With the summit plans back in place the U.S. has the upper hand, Mr. Giuliani said….

  318. says

    SC @449, Ha! I love your dry humor, and your understated intro: “Having succeeded in law, Giuliani turns his hand to international diplomacy.”

    Speaking of Giuliani, he is now rambling around claiming that Mueller is “trying very, very hard to frame Trump.” This is from Tel Aviv, Israel, via the Associated Press:

    Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is trying to frame President Donald Trump. […]

    “There are a group of 13 highly partisan Democrats who make up the Mueller team, excluding him, and are trying very, very hard to frame him to get him in trouble when he hasn’t done anything wrong,” said Giuliani, who has been serving as Trump’s lawyer amid the Russia scandal.

    This makes me wonder who is really paying Giuliani, and how much?

  319. says

    Well, it’s really no pleasure to say that I was right in comment 418. I predicted:

    […] McConnell expects Republicans to be soundly defeated in the midterms, so he thinks this is his last chance to install dunderheaded rightwingers at all levels of the U.S. justice system. McConnell if feeling pressured to get über conservative justices in place before team Trump implodes.

    Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn just confirmed that I was right:

    […] telling reporters the chamber will focus its attention in August on “nominations, nominations, nominations.” […]

    What the Majority Leader wants is to approve as many of Donald Trump’s nominees, most notably judicial nominees, as possible before the end of the year. The Senate’s Democratic minority, taking advantage of every tactic it can think of – including tactics Dems learned from watching McConnell – is pushing in the opposite direction.

    The GOP leader’s statement yesterday was effectively McConnell’s way of telling Democrats, “If you’re going to interfere with votes on White House nominees then I’m going to interfere with your plans for August.”

    […] Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Dems will spend a month pitching measures intended to help health care consumers hurt by Republicans’ recent changes.

    […] this is an election year, and incumbents are eager to spend as much time as possible in their home states. As McConnell knows, this cuts in the GOP’s favor: only two Senate Republicans seem at all concerned about their re-election prospects this year – Nevada’s Dean Heller and Texas’ Ted Cruz – while Democrats have a small army of incumbents desperate to hit the campaign trail, and many of them face uphill climbs in red states. […]


  320. says

    Follow-up to comment 370, 391 and 427, in which SC and I had a coversation about Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany, who has been so awful that some German officials are considering booting him out of Germany.

    […] don’t worry, the Trump administration knows just what to say to put things right.

    State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Tuesday cited the D-Day invasion during an answer about the current state of US-German relations.

    “We have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany,” Nauert said. “Looking back in the history books, today is the 71st anniversary of the speech that announced the Marshall Plan. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. We obviously have a very long history with the government of Germany, and we have a strong relationship with the government of Germany.”

    I imagine being the State Department spokesperson in this administration is difficult, and so I try to be sympathetic toward Nauert, a former Fox News personality, who is obviously in a tough job.

    But, c’mon.

    It’s not enough that the Trump administration dispatched a notorious Internet troll to be the U.S. ambassador in Berlin; the State Department found it necessary to point to D-Day as an example of our relationship with Germany?

    In case anyone – say, Heather Nauert, for example – has forgotten, the D-Day invasion was part our campaign to liberate France from Nazi occupation. Or put another way, on D-Day, Germans weren’t our allies.

    Has the United States enjoyed a long relationship with Germany? Yes. Does D-Day serve as a helpful representation of that relationship? No.


    What a farce. This would be hilarious if it were not also serious. See SC’s comment 444.

  321. militantagnostic says