Thursday Reads: White House Chaos Grows Even Worse

Lady reading in the garden Niels Frederik Schiottz-Jenson

Good Morning!!

I’m still reading The Devil’s Bargain, the new book on Trump and Steve Bannon by Joshua Green. I should have finished it by now, but there has been so much news the last few days that I’ve been riveted to the internet and TV instead. Actually, yesterday I was struggling to concentrate on anything. This Trump nightmare is really getting to me. I need to find better ways to cope without completely zoning out.

Anyway, the book is both fascinating and horrifying. It turns out that Trump’s great wall was an idea that came from Roger Stone and his protege Sam Nunberg. They came up with the concept because they were trying to find a way to keep their cognitively impaired candidate talking about immigration.

Trump was vehemently pro-immigration back in 2012 when he attacked Mitt Romney for pushing “self-deportation.” Trump’s entire anti-immigration message was nothing but a carnival stunt to attract the rubes. And Bannon is the one who got Trump to keep talking about it. Trump wasn’t even interested in “the wall” until he brought it up in a speech at the January 2015 Iowa Freedom Summit and the audience went wild. So Bannon was a huge influence even back then.

I don’t know why I’m still shocked by this kind of cynicism, but I am. I wonder if Trump actually believed any of the garbage that comes out of his oddly misshapen mouth.

Now Trump has hired a new “communication director” who could be even more flamboyantly cynical–and stupid–than his boss. He’s not even supposed to be on the job yet, but he’s already making a very public fool of himself. Last night he sent out a tweet (now deleted) in which he seemed to accused Reince Priebus of leaking his publicly available financial disclosure form. Then this morning he called into CNN and ranted for about 30 minutes about White House leaks.

Woman reading a newspaper, Norman Garstin

Politico: Scaramucci claims ‘felony’ over report of public disclosures.

White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said Wednesday he will contact federal agencies over the “leak” of his financial disclosures, which he called a “felony,” despite the forms being publicly accessible.

“In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept #swamp @Reince45” Scaramucci tweeted late Wednesday.

The tweet followed POLITICO’s publication of Scaramucci’s financial disclosures filed in the course of his employment with the Export-Import Bank. The documents are publicly available on request.

Scaramucci subsequently deleted the tweet and replaced it with another disavowing widespread speculation that his message implied that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus should be investigated. “Wrong! Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks. @Reince 45.”

Speaking to CNN’s New Day co-host Chris Cuomo Thursday morning, Scaramucci acknowledged that the documents are available publicly but still denounced leaks.

Read CNN’s report on Scaramucci’s embarrassing call-in: Scaramucci: ‘If Reince wants to explain he’s not a leaker, let him do that.’

An even better and more succinct report in a thread from Yashar Ali on Twitter. Head over to Twitter to read the whole thing.

Also see this piece by Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: Anthony Scaramucci Is Unclear on the Concept of the Legal System.

Despite possessing a degree from Harvard Law School, Anthony Scaramucci does not seem to possess an understanding of basic principles of the Anglo-American legal tradition. First, Scaramucci accused putative chief of staff and Scaramucci blood-rival Reince Priebus of having illegally leaked his disclosure form. (The leak was not illegal and turns out to have been a public disclosure notice.) Scaramucci’s embarrassment at this gaffe has not discouraged him from pursuing a quasi-judicial purge.

The new White House communications director has gone on television to boast that he is interfering with the justice system in violation of written rules:

More at the NY Mag. link.

Scaramucci’s outrage is over the revelation that he has a serious conflict of interest, because he is currently trying to sell his hedge fund business to a Chinese conglomerate and would need administration approval to do so. Here’s the original story at Politico: Scaramucci still stands to profit from SkyBridge from the White House.

Anthony Scaramucci finally has his White House job, but he still stands to profit from an ownership stake in his investment firm SkyBridge Capital.

The incoming White House communications director earned $4.9 million from his ownership stake in SkyBridge in addition to more than $5 million in salary between Jan. 1, 2016, and the end of June, when he joined the Export-Import Bank, according to a financial disclosure filed with the Office of Government Ethics….

The disclosure highlights the extensive wealth Scaramucci has accumulated in his career — much like many of Trump’s other top advisers and Cabinet secretaries — and also the challenge he faces in extracting himself from the potential conflicts his investments could pose.

The SkyBridge website continues to advertise Scaramucci as the firm’s managing director, despite the fact that he has been a government employee for more than a month. Speaking of a website, to make your website on the top of search results, consider the SEO services of Big Vision Marketing. A SkyBridge spokeswoman said Scaramucci stepped down from the executive post Jan. 17, when the company’s sale was announced. He remained an employee of the firm, collecting a salary, until starting at Ex-Im last month.

The investment firm, which Scaramucci founded in 2005, is in the process of being sold to RON Transatlantic and Chinese conglomerate HNA Group. The sale, set in motion in January when Scaramucci was shedding his holdings in anticipation of landing an administration job, has drawn the scrutiny of regulators and is taking longer than expected to close.

The interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is examining the deal to ensure that it carries no risk to national security. The panel’s review, which comes amid ramped-up scrutiny of business dealings with China, ultimately can be overruled by President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump himself just committed another impeachable offense by attempting to blackmail Sen. Lisa Murkowski and the citizens of Alaska through his Interior Secretary. From Alaska Dispatch News: Trump administration threatens retribution against Alaska over Murkowski health votes.

President Donald Trump isn’t going to just let go of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s no vote on Tuesday’s health care.

Early Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to express displeasure with Murkowski’s vote. By that afternoon, each of Alaska’s two Republican senators had received a phone call from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke letting them know the vote had put Alaska’s future with the administration in jeopardy.

Francis Coates Jones, artist

The response follows Trump’s no-holds-barred style of governing, even when it comes to his own party. It is his first strike of retaliation against Murkowski, however, despite her tendency to stray from the party line and the president’s priorities.

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan said the call from Zinke heralded a “troubling message.”

“I’m not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop,” Sullivan said.

“I tried to push back on behalf of all Alaskans. … We’re facing some difficult times and there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the policies that Secretary Zinke and the president have been talking about with regard to our economy. But the message was pretty clear,” Sullivan said. The Interior secretary also contacted Murkowski, he said.

Can this administration get any more chaotic? My guess is that, with Trump and Scaramucci working together, the answer is yes. Keep in mind that lesser chaos agent Steve Bannon was strongly opposed to the hiring of Scaramucci. He’s also opposed to firing Jeff Sessions, but apparently Trump family members are all for it, and Trump has forgotten all about the risks Sessions too by endorsing him early on. Check out this Business Insider article: Bannon convinced Jeff Sessions to endorse Trump, and Sessions worried his career in the Republican Party might end because of it.

As Joshua Green wrote in “Devil’s Bargain,” Sessions, then a senator from Alabama, was unsure if Trump could secure the Republican nomination, and knew that being the first senator to endorse Trump could further curtail his political future if Trump, the Republican frontrunner at the time, lost.

The day before Sessions endorsed Trump at a Madison, Alabama rally in February 2016, then-Breitbart News chairman Bannon told Sessions that it was “do or die” time and that “this is the moment” to endorse.

Jacek Malczewski, artist

“Trump is a great advocate for our ideas,” Sessions told Bannon. “But can he win?”

“100%,” Bannon said. “If he can stick to your message and personify this stuff, there’s not a doubt in my mind.”

Sessions then noted that the GOP already denied him the chairmanship of the Budget Committee, and that “if I do this endorsement and it doesn’t work, it’s the end of my career in the Republican Party.”

“It’s do or die,” Bannon replied. “This is it. This is the moment.”

That moment was just days before what are known as the “SEC” primaries — a series of primary contests concentrated throughout the South. Bannon told Sessions that his endorsement could push Trump over the hump in many of those contests and essentially seal up the Republican nomination.

“Okay, I’m all-in,” Sessions said. “But if he doesn’t win, it’s over for me.”

No wonder Sessions is refusing to step down as Attorney General.

It looks like today is going to be another day of fast-breaking news. I hope I can keep myself from getting as stressed-out as I was yesterday. What stories are you following?

45 Comments on “Thursday Reads: White House Chaos Grows Even Worse”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Scary Mooch is painful to watch too … all that hair grease and plastic surgery make me throw up in my mouth. You sure can put a guy in an expensive outfit and try to make him look upscale, but class wills out every time. Bet he has to buy his way to every thing too with that mug and mouth.

    Here’s Susie’s take:

    • palhart says:

      I’m tired of this adm’s childish bickering. I mute mucci along with Trump.

      Shame on Trump for his blackmailing tactics on Murkowski.

    • Enheduanna says:

      I can’t watch anymore – I haven’t even seen this one speak and I didn’t listen to the Boy Scout Speech either. It just makes me want to puke. I actually stream teenybopper Korean TV series rather than watch them. Then I look at Maddow around midnight sometimes. She doesn’t replay the clips too much. I can’t hardly look at tRump’s “oddly misshapen mouth” – such a good description.

    • Riverbird says:

      I won’t watch him. I think he’s a clown sent in to distract us.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    I was a huge fan of “The Sopranos”. Scary Mooch is right out of central casting.

    What made that series so successful was that most of the actors were native New Yorkers,right off the streets of Little Italy. One was even an actor who spent time in prison (Paulie Walnuts).

    He may be a Harvard grad but he comes across as rather stupid. Just another lying enabler to the Liar in Chief.

    But I think we are close to saying “bye bye” to Rinse and Repeat Priebus.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yup. He would have fit right in on that show. He reminds me of Joe Pesci from Goodfellas.

  3. NW Luna says:

    “Can this administration get any more chaotic?”

    Lol. I’m afraid the answer is “Yes.” Malevolent and chaotic.

  4. NW Luna says:

  5. NW Luna says:

  6. Enheduanna says:

    BB – does Devil’s Bargain refer to any particular circumstance? Session’s early advocacy of tRump would certainly qualify – but so would America’s acceptance of a lout and crook as POTUS.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m not sure I understand the question. What kind of circumstance?

      • Enheduanna says:

        I just mean what is the Devil’s bargain?

        • bostonboomer says:

          Oh, I see. I guess the relationship between Trump and Bannon. I’m not sure though. Bannon sees Trump as a means to an end, not someone he respects.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Statement from the Boy Scouts:

    I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition that has been extended to the leader of our nation that has had a Jamboree during his term since 1937. It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies. For years, people have called upon us to take a position on political issues, and we have steadfastly remained non-partisan and refused to comment on political matters. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.

    While we live in a challenging time in a country divided along political lines, the focus of Scouting remains the same today as every day.

    Trustworthiness, loyalty, kindness and bravery are just a few of the admirable traits Scouts aspire to develop – in fact, they make up the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

    • Enheduanna says:

      Traits none of which the POTUS has.

      And I’m sorry – inviting a sexual offender has nothing to do with politics or tradition.

    • NW Luna says:

      we live in a challenging time

      Um…that just doesn’t cut it. Neither does the “those who were offended” BS. There’s nothing about Trump that’s trustworthy, loyal, kind or brave.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Politico: Joint Chiefs: ‘No modifications’ to transgender policy from Trump tweet.

    ‘We will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,’ Marine Gen. Joe Dunford writes.

  9. Minkoff Minx says:

    There is just too much happening, I don’t know what to think anymore. I’m so afraid to look at the news. Like I said…things are bad here at home. The doctor has taken a sample, a biopsy of my son’s arm today. It is like one explosive shit bomb after another. My mom is not doing well…she hasn’t been since we found out that surgery is no longer option. Now I don’t know if I should tell her what is going on with Jake or not. I think I will need to take a week or so off. I’m not handling it well.

    • Enheduanna says:

      JJ! You must be in complete despair. I wish I could help some way. I’m sure your Ma and your son need you now more than ever. Best wishes to all of you and my hope for speedy recoveries and good news. {{{<3}}}

    • bostonboomer says:

      Oh no, JJ. I’m so sorry. I don’t know how you deal with it all. You are a very strong person, that’s for sure.

    • NW Luna says:

      I’m so sorry to hear this, JJ. No wonder you feel overwhelmed. All the stuff that’s happening at home plus the shit from Washington DC. And take care of your own health, too. {{Hugs}}

    • quixote says:

      JJ! No! So, so, so sad to hear that. God in her mercy lend you anything and everything that helps.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Sincere hugs and kisses to you and yours, JJ.
      Having been raised Catholic, one of the bromides I hate the most is this: God never gives us more than we can bear.”
      Oh yeah? Bullshit!!

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Must read interview with Anthony Scaramucci by Ryan Lizza at The New Yorker. OMG!

    Anthony Scaramucci Called Me to Unload About White House Leakers, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon

    • Pat Johnson says:

      I had just finished reading that article when you posted it above.

      Seriously, he sounds just like a character out of the Sopranos with his frequent use of the “F” word. Classy!

      This criminal administration is really in the stages of development as President Stupid keeps hiring the worst of the worst.

    • teele says:

      HFS! Twice the finger length and six times the crazy! How did Donnie manage to find someone who would make him look very nearly human by comparison? Smoochy seems to think he’s been cast as the villain in a one-season sit-com. And vis-a-vis the hand size — I would advise him to quit waving them around so much in front of the cameras, ‘cuz Donnie’s liable to get jealous and start making Smoochy the subject of his tweets. Ouch!

    • NW Luna says:

      JPN (Just Plain Nuts), as a colleague of mine used to say. He’s trying to be a mini-Trump. What a fucking jerk. No, government should not be run like a gangster business.

  11. bostonboomer says:


    • NW Luna says:


      Murkowski also controls Interior $$

    • Earlynerd says:

      She, Collins and McCain just defeated the “skinny (& bones) repeal” of the ACA.

      Don’t mess with her, indeed

      Does anyone know how someone not on Twitter can get a fast message of thanks to a Senator not one’s own? I only have the two piranhas and a moray eel – email and phone calls are good enough for them.

      • Enheduanna says:

        I’m also beginning to like her – but remember – she’s a Republican….

  12. palhart says:

    Now 22 Mad Men right wing Reps have written a letter requesting Comey, Clinton, and Lynch be investigated by a second special counsel. Unbelievable, if not surprising as to lengths these angry republicans will go. Will we ever return to sanity?

    • NW Luna says:

      The Rethugs think nothing of using underhanded distraction tactics. They must think governing is about one-upmanship instead of making their constituents’ lives better. I’d feel sorry for such unfulfilled and empty people if they weren’t causing such misery to others.

  13. NW Luna says:

  14. bostonboomer says:

    I fell asleep with MSNBC on and I woke up during the vote. I couldn’t believe McCain actually voted no, but Heller and Capito have to pay a price for their yes votes.

    • Enheduanna says:

      I’m shocked there isn’t twitter-spew from the little hands of our CIC this morning.

      Or is there…

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes, he tweeted that GOP should get rid of the filibuster–which wouldn’t have made any difference to this vote. LOL

  15. palhart says:

    Trump calls ACA, job killing. How? In the long run, wouldn’t a healthier job force and more people who can work with some healthcare assistance (the disabled and individuals with chronic diseases) increase jobs. I know Trump only listens to CEOs’ complains about paying in to employees’ health insurance, and not being able to add jobs, but that is a ploy to rid themselves of this cost when there are savings with a healthier work force. The Republicans try to kill anything they dislike by calling it “job killing” whether true or not.