Tuesday Reads: Is This A Constitutional Crisis Yet?

The Trump administration is stonewalling. It’s not going to work.

Good Morning!!

Are we in a constitutional crisis yet? I certainly think so. There is so much happening this morning that I have been just sitting here open-mouthed trying to figure things out. I don’t think anyone can do that quite yet. Basically, Rep Devin Nunes has completely blown up the House Intelligence Committee investigation; and until he steps down we’re in a holding pattern.  CNN reports as of 11:33 his morning: White House evasive as House Intelligence Committee grinds to a halt.

The Trump administration is refusing to provide details Tuesday to who signed House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes into offices on White House grounds, as the House investigation into Russia’s interference in the US elections is stalled, the victim of a partisan showdown.

All meetings of the House Russia investigators were canceled this week after the top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, said Nunes must recuse himself in order for the investigation to continue. Nunes, however, told CNN Tuesday morning he was “moving forward” with the investigation and said he won’t recuse himself.
“It moves forward just like it was before,” Nunes told reporters.
It’s a monumental shift from where House investigators planned to be Tuesday, interrogating a trio of former Obama administration officials in a public hearing. But last week’s hearing — the first and so far only public hearing of the House Russia investigation — sparked a wildfire of partisan fighting after FBI Director James Comey confirmed he is investigating possible coordination between President Donald Trump’s campaign aides and Russian officials.

The Washington Post just published this exclusive: Trump administration sought to block Sally Yates from testifying to Congress on Russia.

The Trump administration sought to block former acting attorney general Sally Yates from testifying to Congress in the House investigation of links between Russian officials and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, The Washington Post has learned, a position that is likely to further anger Democrats who have accused Republicans of trying to damage the inquiry.

According to letters The Post reviewed, the Justice Department notified Yates earlier this month that the administration considers a great deal of her possible testimony to be barred from discussion in a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by the presidential communication privilege.

Yates and other former intelligence officials had been asked to testify before the House Intelligence Committee this week, a hearing that was abruptly canceled by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). Yates was the deputy attorney general in the final years of the Obama administration, and served as the acting attorney general in the first days of the Trump administration….

Yates and another witness at the planned hearing, former CIA director John Brennan, had made clear to government officials by Thursday that their testimony to the committee probably would contradict some statements that White House officials had made, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The following day, when Yates’s lawyer sent a letter to the White House indicating that she still wanted to testify, the hearing was canceled.,

Read the whole thing at the WaPo. For now, Yates has been silenced. You can read her lawyer’s letters at the link.

Earlier this morning, Rep. Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee accused Devin Yates of trying to cover up a crime, according to Politico.

Nunes (R-Calif.) confirmed Monday that he had traveled to the White House to meet with his still-unnamed source on the day before he made his announcement but denied that the public disclosure was coordinated in any way with Trump administration officials. The White House, Nunes said in a CNN interview, simply served as a secure location for reviewing classified information and “I’m quite sure that I think people in the West Wing had no idea that I was there.”

But Swalwell (D-Calif.), also a member of the House Intelligence Committee, disputed the chairman’s argument Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “It’s not an internet cafe. You can’t just walk in and receive classified information,” Swalwell said of the White House, adding that when a member of Congress visits, “everyone in the building knows that you’re there in the building.”

“This is done because the White House wanted it to be done,” the California Democrat said. “And this is what a cover-up to a crime looks like. We are watching it play out right now.”

I’ve been somewhat resisting the conspiracy theories, but at this point I have to admit that nothing would surprise me.

Yesterday, Joseph Cannon wrote about what he thinks the White House did to Devin Nunes, who is obviously in so far over his head that he’s drowning in Trump propaganda.

The fun started the day before Nunes made his instantly-infamous press conference, when (says the Daily Beast) he got a sooper-seekrit text message while riding around in an Uber with a chief aide. Nunes suddenly left the car and, we now know, popped on over to the White House — or rather, another building technically located on White House grounds. There, someone ushered him into a special sooper-seekrit room where he was plopped in front of a computer and allowed to look at sooper-seekrit classified documents….

The Brits used to call this gambit the double bubble. The CIA has another name for it which I’ve run into in the course of my readings, but which I’ve forgotten. (Perhaps a reader can refresh my memory.) Basically, it’s the old “You may look, but you may not copy” trick, in which the mark is granted rare access to an impressively secret and secure room where he is allowed to look at classified documents. Sort of like that scene in Citizen Kane, Donald Trump’s favorite movie.

Are the documents real? Or are they a cunning mixture of real and fake?

The mark doesn’t know. He presumes that they are real because he’s caught up in a James Bond fantasy world. It’s all so sooper-seekrit, and he is just soooooooo special because these bigwigs trust him and him alone with all of this sooper-seekrit classified material.

“I’m in on it! Nobody else. Just ME! I must be really important because they chose ME!”

Please read the whole thing.

Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, posted this statement on Twitter this morning:

Last night I read through Louise Mensch’s recent posts on the activities of Boris Epshteyn, Jared Kushner, and Devin Nunes. If you’re interesting the Russia investigation, I’d suggest reading them.

Boris Epshteyn Named in July FISA Application; Did Nunes Obstruct Justice?

Did Nunes Leak FISA Warrant Info via White House Lawyer Michael Ellis?

Kushner and Trump: Taped At Secret Trump Tower Meetings With Russians?

I’m going to wrap this up for now. Sean Spicer will be giving his White House briefing soon; we’ll see what he has to say about all this. Probably nothing useful, but that in itself would be revealing.

Consider this a liveblog to discuss the breaking news as well as an open thread to discuss other any other issues that interest you.

 

 


34 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Is This A Constitutional Crisis Yet?”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I left this comment last night, but I’m reposting here.

    Raw Story: Jared Kushner flew to Aspen same day as ‘one of Putin’s closest confidants’ whose wife is pals with Ivanka.

    As the president’s push for health care reform went down in flames last week, Kushner and his family were reportedly skiing in Aspen. Trump was said to be unhappy about the timing of the vacation.

    Photojournalist Eric Rosenwald examined flight logs from airports in the area and found that Kushner arrived in Aspen on Saturday, March 18 — the same day as Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who has been described as “one of Putin’s closest confidants.” Abramovich is known to own a home in Aspen.

    According to Politico’s Jake Sherman, Abramovich’s wife, Dasha Zhukova, attended President Trump’s inauguration as a guest of Ivanka Trump.

    Rosenwald goes on to point out that two days later Abramovich’s plane flew to the Caribbean just as two planes linked to Michael Cohen, special counsel to the president, arrived at nearby airports.

    • NW Luna says:

      The number of “coincidental” meetings these players have is getting hard to keep up with!

      • dakinikat says:

        Yea! Imagine those odds in Vegas!!!

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Exactly, when this post was published…shortly afterwards I noticed that there was an alert…suspicious package found at White House. My first thought was that was a coincidence. Just when things were heating up at the hearings. They aught to check that “package” for little tiny fat fingerprints.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Latest piece from John Schindler:

    The 9 Russian Words That Explain KremlinGate

    http://observer.com/2017/03/kremlingate-russia-spy-game-disinformation/

  3. dakinikat says:

    Nunes is trying to postpone the inevitable and will find himself in the only federal institution worthy of the Trumps and their Associates. That would be Leavenworth.

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    How much longer can they keep the lid on this?

  5. Minkoff Minx says:

    BB, I am glad you put the Mensch links up…I retweeted them last night. I’ve never tweeted stuff from her blog before, but the latest things were too compelling. You have no idea how much that was weighing on my conscience. Seeing it here makes me feel a lot better about my thinking last night. That damn, she may be on to something.

    • Enheduanna says:

      I hadn’t even considered the Russians were funneling money into the campaign. Are there any laws they haven’t broken?

    • bostonboomer says:

      She had good info during the Snowden thing. I do take some of her stuff with a grain of salt, but I generally think she’s doing good work.

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. Earlynerd says:

    Can someone help me out here?

    I know it’s probably a very dumb question, but I still don’t understand why Nunes’ late night visit to the White House grounds was so indicative of something. I know there must be a reason everyone thinks this is a “tell” but I’m not getting it.

    Thanks!

    • quixote says:

      I have the same stupid (?) question. The NPR link doesn’t entirely explain it, for me.

      If I understand it, they’re saying this — Nunes’ whole ZOMG-super-secret viewing of data showing Trumplandia swept up in FBI monitoring of foreign contacts — was to make people forget about Deputy AG Sally Yates and her potential testimony about who knew what when.

      So far, so good. Definitely distracting. So that part works.

      But providing evidence that your guys were clandestinely conniving with Putin in order to distract from Yates pointing out that Trumplandia knew Flynn was clandestinely conniving with Putin seems counterproductive (from a Trumplandian perspective). Seems more like pouring gasoline on a fire.

      Is that really what they’re saying? What am I missing?

  8. Earlynerd says:

    Ah. Never mind. A link within the NPR link posted just before my question explains it all.

  9. Earlynerd says:

    Great post, btw, BB! Thanks for taking us several loops further down this roller coaster ride.

    May the question in the title be answered in the affirmative, and effectively, soon.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  11. bostonboomer says:

    USA Today: Trump’s business network reached alleged Russian mobsters.

    To expand his real estate developments over the years, Donald Trump, his company and partners repeatedly turned to wealthy Russians and oligarchs from former Soviet republics — several allegedly connected to organized crime, according to a USA TODAY review of court cases, government and legal documents and an interview with a former federal prosecutor.

    The president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering.

    Among them:

    • A partner in the firm that developed the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York is a twice-convicted felon who spent a year in prison for stabbing a man and later scouted for Trump investments in Russia.

    • An investor in the SoHo project was accused by Belgian authorities in 2011 in a $55 million money-laundering scheme.

    • Three owners of Trump condos in Florida and Manhattan were accused in federal indictments of belonging to a Russian-American organized crime group and working for a major international crime boss based in Russia.

    • A former mayor from Kazakhstan was accused in a federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles in 2014 of hiding millions of dollars looted from his city, some of which was spent on three Trump SoHo units.

    • A Ukrainian owner of two Trump condos in Florida was indicted in a money-laundering scheme involving a former prime minister of Ukraine.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Wow! Rachel Maddow’s show should be fun tonight.

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  13. dakinikat says:

    Scorecard:

  14. dakinikat says:

  15. dakinikat says:

  16. roofingbird says:

    I’m getting a little tired of folks writing articles, like the one one the Guardian recently, still tossing the question of ineptitude versus, evil genius, about like pundit jugglers. It really doesn’t matter which drumf is or if he is a combination of both. One has to plan for and act on the position that what is happening is the worst, which it is. Dak, I did read something about the bond ratings dropping from aaa to aa because of Pruit. That might mean a greater return for the right investor?