Longest Friday Reads: So this old world must be still spinning aroundPosted: June 23, 2017
Happy Longest Friday!
Summer solstice was two days ago so this makes today the longest Friday of the year! The link over there goes to some pretty interesting photos of the Stonehenge Solstice Celebration! Solstice images festoon our post today. It’s nice to know that the sun is still rising, the moon is still rising, and the earth still spins on her axis even when everything else seems so upside down.
Today we have 16 hours of daylight unless you’re under a storm cloud or hiding from the T-Rumposaurus.
Information on Dan Coates’ testimony to House investigators has come out. It appears the President is completely obsessed with the Russian probe. Sure sounds like obstruction of justice to me.
Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told House investigators Thursday that President Trump seemed obsessed with the Russia probe and repeatedly asked him to say publicly there was no evidence of collusion, a U.S. official familiar with the conversation told NBC News.
Coats’ account is not new — it largely tracked with his story as previously reported by NBC News and other media outlets, the official said.
Admiral Mike Rogers, director of the NSA, has also told associates that Trump asked him to say publicly there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian election interference effort.
Both Rogers and Coats declined to do that, saying it would have been inappropriate, a former senior intelligence official familiar with the matter told NBC News. Rogers had his deputy write a memo about the conversation
Money laundering still appears to be the center of every one’s thoughts. Here’s more on the connections between Felix Sater and a project he developed with T-Rump. Sounds like the Mango Mussolini has something to worry about.
- Felix Sater was born in Russia and moved to the United States with his family when he was 8. His father Mikhail has connections to Russian organized crime and was once convicted of extortion. The younger Sater ended up working at a company called Bayrock, which had offices in Trump Tower and, beginning in 2002, partnered with Donald Trump on several development projects. Bayrock’s role in the projects involved soliciting outside investors.
- Felix Sater also has a colorful criminal record. In 1991, he stabbed a man in the face with the stem of a broken margarita glass and went to jail for assault. In 2007, the New York Times reported that he had been accused in 1998 of securities fraud in a massive stock-scam case involving a number of New York mob families. It was later revealed that Sater pleaded guilty in that 1998 case, but that his involvement in it was kept secret, because he became a witness for the government and reportedly continued as such until 2008. Sater is known to have helped build cases against individuals involved in the stock scam and reportedly also cooperated in a case that involved attempting to secure missiles that were being sold on the black market in Afghanistan. (!)
- Sater disassociated himself from Bayrock and the Trump projects after the 2007 Times story but popped back up in 2010, working for the Trump Organization as a “senior adviser.”
- A former Bayrock associate of Sater’s filed a lawsuit against Sater which alleges, in the words of a new Bloomberg story by longtime Trump reporter Timothy O’Brien, that “Bayrock was actually a front for money laundering” and took money from Russian sources. At this point, the associate making the accusation does not appear to have any direct evidence to support his claim, but the lawsuit is ongoing.
And here’s one more background fact:
- Andrew Weissmann is a longtime federal prosecutor who has joined Robert Mueller’s Trump–Russia special counsel investigation. News stories have described Weissmann as an expert in “flipping” witnesses, i.e. getting them to testify against their co-conspirators.
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Now, go check the conclusion. The White House is on eggshells with Trumpertantrums and his guilty conscious.
President Trump has a new morning ritual. Around 6:30 a.m. on many days — before all the network news shows have come on the air — he gets on the phone with a member of his outside legal team to chew over all things Russia.
The calls — detailed by three senior White House officials — are part strategy consultation and part presidential venting session, during which Trump’s lawyers and public-relations gurus take turns reviewing the latest headlines with him. They also devise their plan for battling his avowed enemies: the special counsel leading the Russia investigation; the “fake news” media chronicling it; and, in some instances, the president’s own Justice Department overseeing the probe.
His advisers have encouraged the calls — which the early-to-rise Trump takes from his private quarters in the White House residence — in hopes that he can compartmentalize the widening Russia investigation. By the time the president arrives for work in the Oval Office, the thinking goes, he will no longer be consumed by the Russia probe that he complains hangs over his presidency like a darkening cloud.
It rarely works, however. Asked whether the tactic was effective, one top White House adviser paused for several seconds and then just laughed.
Trump’s grievances and moods often bleed into one another. Frustration with the investigation stews inside him until it bubbles up in the form of rants to aides about unfair cable television commentary or as slights aimed at Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein.
White House counsel Don McGahn has largely stepped back from managing Donald Trump’s response to the expanding Russia investigation, but that hasn’t stopped the president from lashing out at him about it anyway.
Trump started the week by giving McGahn, a loyal supporter who was among the first Washington establishment figures to sign on with his presidential campaign, a dressing down in the Oval Office for not doing more to quash the Russia probe early on.
The episode — recounted by four people familiar with the conversation — came as part of a broader discussion on Monday about the president’s frustrations with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which now includes the question of whether Trump himself tried to obstruct the investigation by firing FBI Director James Comey.
The Russia portfolio has been handed off to Trump’s longtime personal attorney Marc Kasowitz, leaving McGahn to focus on the standard duties of the top White House lawyer: vetting political appointees, selecting judges for vacancies in lower courts, and giving legal advice on potential legislation and other White House policy decisions.
Trump’s willingness to lay into him for the escalation of the probe — largely the result of Trump’s own decision to dismiss Comey — illustrates McGahn’s falling stock in the West Wing, as well as Trump’s desire to find someone to blame for his legal predicament.
So, Kremlin Caligula thought he’d get away with firing Comey and he wants to blame every one else. What a nitwit!
Regardless of the legal outcome, it’ll go down as one of the dumbest political mistakes in the modern era. One of the president’s outside advisers calls it the gravest political mistake since Richard Nixon decided not to apologize to the American people for Watergate, and instead proceeded with the cover-up.
Trump himself has suggested to friends that he understands the bind he created: By taunting Comey about tapes that the president admitted yesterday don’t exist, he hastened the chain of events that led to the appointment of special counsel Bob Mueller, who’s expected to delve into the business affairs of the president and his family.
In retrospect, if Trump had kept Comey and stopped obsessing about his investigation, his legal troubles might have blown over: No evidence of collusion has emerged. As David Brooks pointed out in one of the better columns of the month, it’s striking how little has surfaced on the collusion front, given the gush of anti-Trump leaks.
S0, what happy camper would tweet #FML? (“As in F*ck my life”)
But then, unprompted, he floated another possibility: U.S. intelligence or law enforcement officials might have his office bugged. “With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey,” Trump wrote.
It was a bizarre suggestion that took some in the White House off guard. “No clue what the thinking was,” a White House staffer said of the tweets. “He could’ve just said there are no tapes. It’s baffling, frankly.”
Instead of putting the “tape” issue to rest and leave it at that, Trump’s statements threaten to embroil the White House in yet another round of politically inconvenient questioning about issues—Comey’s firing, the FBI’s probe into Russian election-meddling, and Trump’s reported efforts to hobble it—that the White House has tried, with little success, to move past.
Informed of the president’s denial that he had recorded his conversations with Comey, a senior administration official replied, “At least that’s behind us.” When alerted to his apparent suspicions of Oval Office surveillance, the official replied in a text message, “fml.”
That’s shorthand for “fuck my life.”
Trump’s tweets came just minutes before White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders was scheduled to brief reporters. Asked about Trump’s vague allegations of a potential wiretap, Sanders suggested that law enforcement authorities would have to answer whether they have the President of the United States under surveillance.
Well, at least life’s not boring and complacent and calm and well, #FML, make him go away please!! There’s a monster under our national bed!
So, Spicey is looking for a replacement for the podium of shame and lies. Guess how that’s going?
The result is a toxic relationship between the White House, which thinks the press should be less adversarial, and the media, which believes its job is to be adversarial. Both sides believe the other side is acting in bad faith, and both are losing respect for one another. And the frayed relationship is occupying more and more of everyone’s time, creating a distraction from issues of greater concern to the general public.
This article is based on extensive conversations with three senior White House officials who requested anonymity, as well as several White House reporters who requested the same.
In a statement, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House’s goal was “to be accessible every day and answer questions from the media through a variety of formats, including the briefings, the gaggles and meetings in the press office.”
“Our goal is to communicate the president’s message to the American people as well,” she added, “and we do that through the President’s vast reach on social media on a daily basis.”
For the time being, White House-media relations are likely to get worse before they get better. With the approval of the president, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has been looking for a replacement press secretary so he can focus on broader strategy. But good replacements are hard to come by.
The White House has a shortlist of candidates it would like to bring on board, including, most notably, the popular conservative pundit Laura Ingraham. But so far, no one on this shortlist has accepted the invitation. Ingraham, who declined to comment, has given no public indication that she wants the job. She is already highly paid for her work as a right-wing radio host and Fox News contributor, and has said she might run for Senate from Virginia next year.
Meanwhile, there are people who might like to have the job but don’t have enough support from Trump’s inner circle.
At least we know that Melanoma Mussolini isn’t the meanest tweeter in the Administration. Get a load of these.
Oy to the fucking vey!
A trove of deleted tweets written by senior Energy Department official William C. Bradford surfaced this week ― and it’s not pretty.
Bradford, whom President Donald Trump recently appointed to lead the department’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, was forced to issue an apology after The Washington Post revealed his disparaging remarks about women and various ethnic and religious groups on Thursday.
His tweets, written last year, attacked high-profile figures on the basis of their ethnic and religious heritage and defended the wartime incarceration of Japanese-Americans, among other things.
In a December 2016 tweet, Bradford referred to former President Barack Obama as a “Kenyan creampuff.” In another tweet, he dubiously claimed Obama might refuse to leave The White House at the end of his presidential term and suggested a “military coup” could be necessary to remove him.
In February 2016, responding to an article that claimed Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg had urged Iowans not to vote for Trump, Bradford called the tech leader an “arrogant self-hating Jew.”
They actually get worse … he’s like a full time hater and no one goes left unhated. Native Americans, women, Japanese Americans in internment camps … just about every one makes his list.
So, anyway, enjoy the day, the summer, and the brain clouds overtaking Trumperina’s little world. Meanwhile, if you want to see his fat ass in tennis shorts looking like he’s busting out of his depends go here. It cannot be unseen. I’m warning you now. I promised you that the moon is still rising. This one is YUGGGGEEEE.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?