Thursday Reads: News Breaks by the Hour These Days

At Breakfast, by Laurits Andersen Ring

Good Morning!!

Where to begin? A special counsel has been appointed. Trump tweets; exhausted White House staff has another mess to clean up. Roger Ailes is dead.  The current occupant of the White House can’t spell. Lawrence O’Donnell’s show may yet survive. And so much more.

The tweet below has been deleted and replaced now:

Special Counsel appointed by DOJ

Philip Shenon at Politico: Trump’s Worst Nightmare Comes True. President Trump fired James Comey. He got his old pal, Robert Mueller, instead—and years of trouble.

The most daunting assignment in Robert Mueller’s career in law-enforcement and public service might seem to have arrived on Wednesday night, with his appointment as the special prosecutor in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 president campaign, including possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

But it’s hard to imagine that this new job is any more intimidating than the one Mueller confronted on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when the newly arrived FBI director was forced to deal with the aftermath of terrorist attacks that left more than 3,000 people dead in New York and Washington and put the FBI’s very survival in doubt because of what would be shown to be its well-documented bungling before the attacks. On 9/11, Mueller had been on the job at the FBI for exactly one week.

The fact that the FBI survived in one piece after multiple government investigations of 9/11, and that Mueller went on to serve another dozen years at the bureau and left with his reputation for independence and honesty largely unscathed, suggests to his friends and admirers that the blue-blooded 72-year-old former Marine is the right man for his new job – and that President Trump and his campaign advisers have much to fear from his investigation.

Under terms of his appointment by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller will have wide powers to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and—beyond that—“any matters” that arise from the investigation, including perjury and obstruction of justice.

Just a few of the stories that broke last night after we learned about the special counsel in the afternoon.

Morning Coffee, Malcolm Liepke

The New York Times: Trump Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation Before He Came to White House.

Michael T. Flynn told President Trump’s transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, according to two people familiar with the case.

Despite this warning, which came about a month after the Justice Department notified Mr. Flynn of the inquiry, Mr. Trump made Mr. Flynn his national security adviser. The job gave Mr. Flynn access to the president and nearly every secret held by American intelligence agencies.

Mr. Flynn’s disclosure, on Jan. 4, was first made to the transition team’s chief lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, who is now the White House counsel. That conversation, and another one two days later between Mr. Flynn’s lawyer and transition lawyers, shows that the Trump team knew about the investigation of Mr. Flynn far earlier than has been previously reported.

And of course we knew that Rep. Elijah Cummings had informed the Trump transition team in November that Flynn had been paid to lobby for Turkey. Will Mike Pence still try to claim he didn’t know anything?

McClatchy: Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed – after being paid as its agent.

One of the Trump administration’s first decisions about the fight against the Islamic State was made by Michael Flynn weeks before he was fired – and it conformed to the wishes of Turkey, whose interests, unbeknownst to anyone in Washington, he’d been paid more than $500,000 to represent.

The decision came 10 days before Donald Trump had been sworn in as president, in a conversation with President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, who had explained the Pentagon’s plan to retake the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa with Syrian Kurdish forces whom the Pentagon considered the U.S.’s most effective military partners. Obama’s national security team had decided to ask for Trump’s sign-off, since the plan would all but certainly be executed after Trump had become president.

Flynn didn’t hesitate. According to timelines distributed by members of Congress in the weeks since, Flynn told Rice to hold off, a move that would delay the military operation for months….

Now members of Congress, musing about the tangle of legal difficulties Flynn faces, cite that exchange with Rice as perhaps the most serious: acting on behalf of a foreign nation – from which he had received considerable cash – when making a military decision. Some members of Congress, in private conversations, have even used the word “treason” to describe Flynn’s intervention, though experts doubt that his actions qualify.

Reading the News, by Steve Prenner

The Washington Post: House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump.

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

Before the conversation, McCarthy and Ryan had emerged from separate talks at the Capitol with Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladi­mir Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.

Breaking this morning:

Reuters exclusive: Exclusive: Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians: sources.

Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.

Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said.

Read the rest at the link.

Madame Monet Reading le Figaro, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The Washington Post: Roger Ailes, architect of conservative TV juggernaut Fox News, is dead at 77.

Roger Ailes, who mastered the art of selling political candidates like Hollywood celebrities and was the architect of conservative-oriented TV news, died Thursday at 77. He was the longtime chairman and chief executive of the Fox News Channel, building it over two decades into an politically influential juggernaut until his abrupt ouster last year amid sexual harassment allegations.

His family confirmed the death in a statement. No cause or location was reported.

I don’t like being rude, but in this case I say good riddance. Read more at the WaPo.

 

The “beleaguered” White House staff is freaking out

The Washington Post: The worst job in Washington right now: Working for Trump.

As Donald Trump has grown increasingly angry and frustrated with his White House staff, the beleaguered targets of his ire have a quietly roiling gripe of their own — their boss, the president himself.

Since he fired FBI Director James B. Comey, Trump has lurched through crises of his own making — from the explosive report Monday that he had revealed highly classified intelligence to Russian officials to the bombshell Tuesday thathe had urged Comey to end the federal investigation into Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser.

In his wake remain his exhausted aides and deputies, the frequent targets of Trump’s wrath as they struggle to control an uncontrollable chief executive and labor to explain away his stumbles.

Wednesday evening brought yet another challenging development for the White House, as the Justice Department announced a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Some White House staffers have turned to impeachment gallows humor. Other mid-level aides have started contacting consultants, shopping their résumés. And at least one senior staffer has begun privately talking to friends about what a post-White House job would look like, according to two people close the staffer.

Break out the popcorn and the tiny violin. Why did they link themselves to a carnival barker in the first place? I have no sympathy for them. None.

Michael Kranish on Trump’s dysfunctional coping methods: 

Woman reading news, by James Jacques Joseph

The Washington Post: As president, Trump’s legacy of lawsuits and minimal briefings isn’t helping.

As President Trump manages his latest crises, he is turning to strategies from his tumultuous business career: rely on family and a few trusted advisers, demand absolute loyalty from those beyond the inner circle, threaten opponents with legal action, and insist on bare-bones briefings.

But the tactics that Trump believed served him so well in business may be adding to his self-inflicted wounds as a special counsel prepares to launch an investigation into allegations that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election.

Trump’s family has no government background, and most of his most trusted advisers never worked in a White House. His demands to government officials for personal loyalty are superseded by their loyalty to the Constitution. His threats — such as tweeting that fired FBI Director James B. Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” — have often backfired. Comey’s associates provided quotes from a memo about the conversation that appear to support Comey’s version of events.

And Trump’s famous aversion to in-depth analysis — he once wrote that “The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience” — has led to concerns that he doesn’t absorb complicated briefing material from intelligence agencies and other sources.

Barbara Res, former executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said that Trump would often come up with business proposals that needed someone to tell him “that’s not a good idea, Donald. It seems to me that people are not doing that” at the White House.

Some good news that I missed yesterday:

Showbiz 411: MSNBC-Lawrence O’Donnell: “The Last Word” is Not Over as HUGE Fan Response Comes to Rescue of Show.

We may not have heard “The Last Word,” as it turns out.

I’m told that late yesterday afternoon, MSNBC finally contacted Lawrence O’Donnell‘s agency, WME, to have some talks about renewing his contract.

The contract runs out in less than four weeks. The network, some posit, was stalling as a “tactic.” It didn’t work.

Fan response to the news that O’Donnell might be gone has been HUGE. From Twitter and Facebook to old fashioned calls to MSNBC‘s Phil Griffith and NBC’s Andy Lack, it’s been actually shocking. Not that I’m surprised.

But it turns out MSNBC’s viewers have made “The Last Word” a hit not just because of Rachel Maddow and hatred for Donald Trump, but because they actually enjoy O’Donnell’s reasoned and impassioned approach to the events of the day.

So there may be a happy ending to this bizarre situation.

What wild breaking news is coming today? There’s sure to be plenty of it. Please share the stories you’re following in the comment thread below.

 

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61 Comments on “Thursday Reads: News Breaks by the Hour These Days”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Vox: Trump isn’t a toddler — he’s a product of America’s culture of impunity for the rich.

    The truth is that Trump is no child. He’s 70 years old. And he’s not just any kind of 70-year-old. He’s a white male 70-year-old. A famous one. A rich one. One who’s been rich since the day he was born. He’s a man who’s learned over the course of a long and rich life that he is free to operate without consequence. He’s the beneficiary of vast and enormous privilege, not just the ability to enjoy lavish consumption goods but the privilege of impunity that America grants to the wealthy.

    Trump’s “law and order” attorney general wants to throw the book at relatively small-time drug offenders. Trump himself has spent his entire career skating away from lawbreaking with a fine paid here and a political contribution there. He’s an unusual figure, but also very much an exemplar of his era and a product of a decades-long ideological campaign to do as much as possible to empower the wealthy and powerful.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      This was one of my first observations about Trump after watching him debate and his behavior at his rallies. A spoiled man-boy, who’s never suffered the consequences of his actions, his words, his screw-ups. Money and connections have swallowed up every misbehavior, every misdeed, every lie, every deception. I believe he has a serious mental issue which compounds his current issues, possibly early stage dementia. He’s spent a lifetime associating with shady characters and flirting with a bad boy image. I think when he went through his financial crisis in the 90’s he became a conduit for Russian money laundering operations worldwide. In return the Russians have compensated him well and helped him during the election, but he can’t escape their control. He is going down. Pence is going down with him because he knew about Flynn from the beginning. Ivanka, Jared, Qusay and Uday are likely involved in the money laundering along with Trump. There are no innocent people in this except maybe Tiffany and Barron. Paul Ryan has been a compliant apologist and enabler, he’ll never be POTUS either. We’re moving so far down the line of succession we might get to Hatch.

    • dakinikat says:

      He’s the adult version of affluenza. He thinks he’s too rich to be punished. And I’d say his years long questioning of President Obama’s citizenship and religion is a better example of a freaking witchhunt. Then, there’s all the things he lied about with Hillary tacitly using Russian propaganda.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    No word from Trump on this, of course.

    Newsweek: Turkish Embassy Bodyguards Beat Up Americans in Washington, Video Shows.

    Police have described a massive brawl Tuesday outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C., as “pretty dicey” after footage emerged showing men believed to be the Turkish president’s bodyguards beating up peaceful protesters.

    A video of the incident posted by Voice of America appears to show police trying to split up Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security team and pro-Erdogan supporters facing off with Kurdish and Armenian demonstrators. One Erodgan supporter claimed the group was simply celebrating their president, Agence France-Presse reported. Anti-Erdogan protesters said the president’s supporters had charged them outside the embassy for exercising their free speech rights.

    “We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms,” said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman told the New York Times.

  3. janicen says:

    The news is happening so fast it’s impossible to process the enormity of each story.

    This is just me but I hope Ailes suffered a little before he passed. Even if for a moment, let him have opened his eyes and realized he was going to die and felt real fear. On behalf of the women he tortured.

  4. janicen says:

    I love that picture of the woman reading the paper. It took me back to vacations when I was a child when we would stay in a cabin with no television or phone. For weeks all there was to do was swim, play outside, play games inside or read. How wonderful it would be to get a little news with coffee first thing in the morning and then enjoy the day.

  5. janicen says:

    I’m reading on twitter that Flynn’s attorneys have informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that he will NOT honor their subpoena. Holy hell.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Because they can’t give him immunity now that there’s a Special Counsel.

      • janicen says:

        I’m reading that this might be akin to pleading the fifth. We’ll see what unfolds.

    • NW Luna says:

      I believe that by law it is compulsory to comply with their requests. So he’s even further up (or should that be down?) Shit Creek.

  6. ANonOMouse says:

    “But it turns out MSNBC’s viewers have made “The Last Word” a hit not just because of Rachel Maddow and hatred for Donald Trump, but because they actually enjoy O’Donnell’s reasoned and impassioned approach to the events of the day.”

    I emailed MSNBC days ago when I first heard the news. I basically said, “WTF are you doing? You put Greta on air and she’s failing in a big way and you’re removing Lawrence O’Donnell who has the 2nd highest ratings on MSNBC?” Have you lost your damn minds? If you want to get rid of someone fire Greta and put Joy Reid in her time slot. Or retire Chris Matthews and put Joy Reid in his time slot. You’re putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger. Wake up!”

  7. ANonOMouse says:

    Heard a report on MSNBC that Ailes was isolated and depressed before his death and even referenced suicide to a friend. For years that SOB inflicted humiliation, pain and suffering on many women who were only trying to earn a living If I believed in hell I would relish the thought of him going there. The adulation he’s receiving this morning is sickening. He was a sexual predator who stole dignity and a livelihood from innocent people. His death changes nothing. The world is a better place with him out of it.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Tough shit. Maybe it was suicide. They haven’t announced a cause of death.

      Remember, this is the guy who gave us the Nixon presidency.

    • Enheduanna says:

      Mouse – I feel the same really. What strikes me above and beyond his odious personal character, is the fact of any one person he was responsible for the atrocity against human kind that is Fox News. He was its architect. The damage that one cable network has done to this country and continues to do every hour of every day will take decades to overcome.

      Murdoch may have financed it but Ailes created it.

    • janicen says:

      I hope he spent his final days in misery.

      When I read the news I immediately texted my husband:

      Me: Holy shit! Roger Ailes died!

      Hubby: Fuck that guy.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      One small consolation, Ailes lived long enough to see his reputation destoyed. He did not completely get away with his evil.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Michael Isikoff: As investigators circled Flynn, he got a message from Trump: Stay strong.

    Late last month, fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — under investigation by federal prosecutors, with his lawyer seeking immunity for him to testify to Congress — met with a small group of loyalists at a restaurant in the northern Virginia suburbs.

    Saddled with steep legal bills, Flynn wanted to reconnect with old friends and talk about potential future business opportunities. But one overriding question among those present were his views on the president who had fired him from his national security advisor post.

    Flynn left little doubt about the answer. Not only did he remain loyal to President Trump; he indicated that he and the president were still in communication. “I just got a message from the president to stay strong,” Flynn said after the meal was over, according to two sources who are close to Flynn and are familiar with the conversation, which took place on April 25.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    The real reason Trump’s trip to Masada was canceled: He wanted to land his helicopter at the top, which can cause damage to the sacred site. He refused to land at the bottom and take a cable car to the top,according to Newsweek.

    http://www.newsweek.com/trump-cancels-visit-ancient-masada-site-after-israel-blocks-helicopter-landing-611287

    • Pilgrim says:

      fear of slopes he has, e.g. stairs, grades….had to hang on to Teresa May on a little grade

      • Enheduanna says:

        And aren’t they saying that is another indication of possible Alzheimer’s?

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    • NW Luna says:

      Blind spot? Spot? It’s pathetic to see the rationale used to excuse Trump’s congenital lack of good judgment.

  12. Minkoff Minx says:

    Here is Chelsea Manning

    Okay, so here I am everyone!! 😜 . CC BY-SA! . #HelloWorld

    A post shared by Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea87) on

  13. RonStill4Hills says:

    Calling the great Trumpkin a whiny bitch is an insult to whiny bitches. Never have I seen a weaker cry-baby bully! Shame! This human turf could not last 2minutes in Hillary’s life.

    • Enheduanna says:

      LOL

      • ANonOMouse says:

        That’s the world I see for my grandchildren and great grandchildren if we don’t get this bastard out of office soon.

        • Enheduanna says:

          I actually do not think we are going to survive global warming.

          That movie was terrible but the book was incredible. Not for the faint of heart.

          • quixote says:

            I wish I remember where I saw this, as I recall it was a credible source, but the modal guess is that it’ll bust our societies back down to an early 1900s level of technology. You might say steampunk. (!) Ordinary people at that point made do with outhouses and Franklin stoves, but it’s a long way from not surviving.

            Does seem optimistic to me. But who knows. As William Gibson said, the future is not evenly distributed. I could see a very unevenly distributed future, with Germany / Europe, maybe Japan, moving ahead with sustainable solar societies and good social safety nets. A USA back in some kind of Fox-Newsy Middle Ages, and Bangladesh really not surviving because it’s under water.

  14. Pat Johnson says:

    Unbelievable! You almost can’t keep up!

    I left the house yesterday at 2pm and was off the grid until 10pm. The Mueller explosion took place. At last!

    My obsession with this story tells me never to tune out for any reason!

    Hopefully Lawrence remains.

    Chins up, Sky Dancers. Help is on the way!

  15. palhart says:

    Trump discovering shallowness to be a deep experience says it all. He’s actually lived his childhood years over and over again for nearly 71 years. It explains even more about this child-man.

    I have to listen to O’Donnell every night before I can fall asleep. I’m glad viewers made a ruckus!

  16. bostonboomer says:

    It looks like Ailes may have suffered.

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    • janicen says:

      Wonderful. I’d have a celebration drink with Mouse but I’ve been doing a sugar/carb fast and refraining from alcohol. Fantastic results. I decided to try it for one week because I know so many people who have done it either because they had to because of health issues or because they wanted to lose weight and the results seemed dramatic. So I thought I’d try it for a week just to see what I would come up with to eat so I would be sort of forced to come up with clean meal ideas. When I announced my intention hubs said, “Cool! I’ll do it too!” Well here we are, 5 weeks later and each of us has lost 15 pounds. We feel awesome and have been sleeping like babies every night. We noticed dramatic results after only 5 days. We aren’t doing anything weird, just eliminating sugar or foods that turn into sugar like bread, rice, etc. Eating as many fruits, vegs, meat, fish, poultry and unsalted nuts as we want and that’s it. It’s really easy and we feel like we’re ten years younger.

    • NW Luna says:

      Says he was semiconscious — so he may not have been too aware. Anyway he’s gone.

  17. NW Luna says:

    They’re all corrupt. Trump has a bunch of money launder—-ooops, business interests — in Saudi Arabia.