Monday Reads: A Neoconfederacy of DuncesPosted: July 10, 2017
The more we find out about the Trump Family Crime syndicate, the more we understand their distinct lack of brains. They don’t, however, lack chutzpah. If they’ve got one foot in the grave, they’ll dig deeper with inane tweets. The little nuts do not fall far from the big ol’ nut tree.
Dumbo Jr. has basically confessed to collusion with the Russians.
Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged Sunday that he met with a Russian lawyer who had promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton in June 2016.
The news, which was first reported by the New York Times, represents the most direct suggestion to date of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and it is the first indication that someone from President Trump’s inner circle met with Russians during the campaign. Trump Jr. also brought then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law and now-top White House adviser Jared Kushner to the meeting.
But the information isn’t just troubling because it suggests the Trump campaign sought out the help of Russians to win the presidency. It also contradicts a number of claims made by the White House, the campaign and Trump Jr. himself — claims made as recently as this weekend. For an administration and campaign that have repeatedly denied contact with Russians and had their denials blow up in their faces, it’s yet another dubious chapter.
Read the rest of the article for what we’ve learned so far. Then, think on this bit from The New Yorker.
So, unless we are grading on a curve that even the most forgiving god would discount, innocence in the matter of collusion does not bring the Trump Administration nearer to the gates of heaven. But the issue is hardly the closed matter that Trump would propose it to be. Thanks to new reporting from theTimes, we are starting to see evidence that fits the theory. Within two days of the President’s dispiritingly weak and erratic performance in Hamburg––his winsome meeting with Vladimir Putin, the disheartening spectacle of the Europeans treating the United States with suspicion on issues ranging from global security to the fate of the global environment––we learn that Trump associates, including the President’s son, met during the 2016 campaign with one Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-connected lawyer, on the promise that she could provide them information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The meeting took place on June 9, 2016, at Trump Tower. Trump’s emissaries included Donald Trump, Jr., who now helps to run the family businesses; Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who now helps to run the country; and his then campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who has a long history of business ties to Russia and pro-Russia Ukrainians, as well as a variety of political kleptocrats including Jonas Savimbi, Mobuto Sese Seko, and Ferdinand Marcos. The Trump team said there was nothing untoward about the meeting.
“After pleasantries were exchanged,” Trump, Jr., told the Times, “the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.” Trump, Jr., went on to claim that the discussion was largely about the Russian ban on foreign adoptions. Reince Priebus, the President’s chief of staff, described the meeting on “Fox News Sunday” as a “big nothing burger.” For her part, Veselnitskaya said that the meeting did not concern the campaign at all and that Manafort and Kushner left the room after ten minutes.
This follows the Wall Street Journal’s story last week that investigators have reviewed reports from intelligence agencies on Russian hackers discussing how to hack Clinton’s e-mails and get the material to Michael Flynn, the former national-security adviser, via an intermediary, and that Peter Smith, a longtime Republican operative, had undertaken an effort to obtain the Clinton e-mails and suggested to those around him that he was working with Flynn. The excuse the Trump Administration had for that one was that Smith “didn’t work for the campaign” and that if Flynn was working with him “in any way, it would have been in his capacity as a private individual.”
There has also been a great deal of solid journalism committed by Adam Davidson, of The New Yorker, Timothy O’Brien, of Bloomberg, and others on Trump’s business history and his links to disreputables in Russia and the former Soviet Union. All this begins to add up to an unlovely portrait of the President and his associates. In addition, the F.B.I. and congressional investigators are sorting through what, if any, relationship there might have been between the hundreds of Internet trolls who pumped out false, undermining stories about Clinton, Russian sponsors, and the Trump campaign. It is unlikely that the full story of the role of WikiLeaks in this saga has been told yet, either.
Representative Adam Schiff who is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee announced his desire to question Donald Trump Jr.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said on CNN on Sunday that the meeting raises “a variety of questions” because Trump has denied having any kind of meetings like this.
“They claimed this meeting had nothing to do with the campaign, and yet the Trump campaign manager is invited to come to the meeting and there’s no reason for this Russian government advocate to be meeting with Paul Manafort or Mr. Kushner or the President’s son if it wasn’t about the campaign and Russia policy,” he said.
He said the meeting is indicative of the fact that Russia was “obviously” trying to “influence one of the candidates” and that the explanations given from the administration so far don’t “make sense.” He said his committee would like to “get to the bottom” of what happened at the meeting and he plans to question everyone who was at the meeting.
“By trying to frame this about adoptions ignores what it sounds like the meeting might have been about and that was the Magnitsky Act, which is legislation, very powerful sanctions legislation, that goes against Russian human rights abusers,” he said.
“So if this was an effort to do away with that sanctions policy, that is obviously very significant that the President’s team, then-candidate Trump’s team, that contradicts of course what the President and his people have said about whether they’ve been meeting with any members of the Russian government,” he said.
An ethics lawyer under former President George W. Bush blasted Donald Trump Jr. for meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have compromising information on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the campaign, saying it “borders on treason.”
“This was an effort to get opposition research on an opponent in an American political campaign from the Russians, who were known to be engaged in spying inside the United States,” Richard Painter said Sunday on MSNBC.
“We do not get our opposition research from spies, we do not collaborate with Russian spies, unless we want to be accused of treason.”
Painter said the Bush administration would not have allowed the meeting, which was attended by Trump Jr., then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, now a White House senior adviser, to happen.
“If this story is true, we’d have one of them if not both of them in custody by now, and we’d be asking them a lot of questions,” he said. “This is unacceptable. This borders on treason, if it is not itself treason.”
Painter’s comments follow a Sunday report from The New York Times that Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer, who has ties to the Kremlin, came after the lawyer promised damaging information about Clinton.
He attended the meeting with the expectation that he would receive compromising information about Clinton, three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two other sources with knowledge of the matter told the Times.
Meanwhile, we learn exactly why Republicans are such idiots. They’ve decided that colleges have a negative impact on the country. Can there be anything more pathetic than hating education because the facts continually prove you wrong? I’d like to add that I think it’s the Churches attended by Republicans that have the worst impact on the country. Along with Fox News, they hash out more crap than pig eating prunes.
Republicans and Democrats offer starkly different assessments of the impact of several of the nation’s leading institutions – including the news media, colleges and universities and churches and religious organizations – and in some cases, the gap in these views is significantly wider today than it was just a year ago.
While a majority of the public (55%) continues to say that colleges and universities have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country these days, Republicans express increasingly negative views.
A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years.
The national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 8-18 among 2,504 adults, finds that partisan differences in views of the national news media, already wide, have grown even wider. Democrats’ views of the effect of the national news media have grown more positive over the past year, while Republicans remain overwhelmingly negative.
About as many Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents think the news media has a positive (44%) as negative (46%) impact on the way things are going in the country. The share of Democrats holding a positive view of the news media’s impact has increased 11 percentage points since last August (33%).
Republicans, by about eight-to-one (85% to 10%), say the news media has a negative effect. These views have changed little in the past few years.
Let’s hope our media gets and stays ‘woke’.
Donald Trump is less than six months into his presidency, yet one of the organizing principles of his political operation is already becoming clear: payback.
In private, Trump has spoken of spending $10 million out of his own pocket to defeat an incumbent senator of his own party, Jeff Flake of Arizona, according to two sources familiar with the conversation last fall. More recently, the president celebrated the attacks orchestrated by a White House-sanctioned outside group against another Republican senator, Dean Heller of Nevada, who has also been openly critical of him.
Fear of Trump reprisals has led one Republican congresswoman, Martha Roby of Alabama, to launch an intense campaign to win over a president who remembers every political slight — and especially those who abandoned him following the October release of the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape in which he bragged about sexually assaulting women.
At the time, Roby called Trump “unacceptable” and said she wouldn’t vote for him. But the president, who is popular in Alabama, ended up carrying her district by a wide margin. And since the inauguration, she has gone to the White House four times to attend Trump-hosted events and on two other occasions to meet with his daughter Ivanka. During the Rose Garden celebration following the House’s passage of the health care bill, the four-term congresswoman offered the president a personal compliment while shaking his hand: “Good job,” she told him, according to a source close to Roby who was briefed on the exchange.
White House officials have taken notice of Roby’s efforts to make amends and view her efforts with some skepticism. While in the Oval Office for a NASA bill signing in March, Roby sidled up next to Trump — putting her front-and-center for the photo-op. Behind her push for the president’s approval is a stark political reality: She is facing a fierce primary challenge from a Trump stalwart who has turned her past opposition to the president into the focal point of his campaign.
And now I need a shower … but, I will leave you with a question from the brilliant Joy Reid.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?