Thursday Reads: Trump Publicly Admits Guilt Once Again

Among Lupine, Jeffrey T. Larson

Good Morning!!

Trump just can’t stop confessing his guilt. Yesterday, Trump stripped away John Brennan’s security clearance, claiming it was because of Brennan’s “erratic behavior” and “wild outbursts on the internet and television.” Then he proceeded to tell the Wall Street Journal that he did it because of the Russia investigation.

President Trump drew a direct connection between the special counsel investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and his decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan and review the clearances of several other former officials.

In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Trump cited Mr. Brennan as among those he held responsible for the investigation, which also is looking into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Mr. Trump has denied collusion, and Russia has denied interfering.

Mr. Brennan was director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Democratic administration of former President Obama and one of those who presented evidence to Mr. Trump shortly before his inauguration that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.

“I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “And these people led it!”

He added: “So I think it’s something that had to be done.”

Trump has quite an enemies list now, and everyone on it is involved in some way with the investigation.

Reading Girl. Ármin Glatter (Hungarian, 1861-1916). Oil on canvas.

Earlier in the day, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the administration was also reviewing the clearances of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, and former National Security Agency and CIA chief Michael Hayden.

“I don’t trust many of those people on that list,” Mr. Trump said in the interview. “I think that they’re very duplicitous. I think they’re not good people.”

Most of the individuals left government service months or years ago under varied circumstances, including being fired by the president and his aides. Some, including Mr. Comey, have said they no longer have or use their clearances.

Aaron Blake at The Washington Post: Trump blurts out another Lester Holt moment.

You could be forgiven for having flashbacks to Trump’s interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in the aftermath of his firing last year of James B. Comey as FBI director. Then, as now, the White House offered a series of motivations for the crackdown on a person who was a liability in the Russia probe. Then, as now, it seemed clear what the actual motivation was. And then, as now, Trump appeared to go out and just admit the actual motivation….

In the case of the Holt interview, Trump never actually directly said that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation; instead, he merely said that Russia was on his mind when he did it. “And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story; it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,” Trump said back in May 2017.

In this case, Trump refers directly to the role of Brennan and others in leading the investigation, and then says, “So I think it’s something that had to be done” — suggesting that this was an action taken in direct response to their participation in the probe. He is saying he is punishing people who were involved in that, which at the very least would seem to create a chilling effect for other would-be critics.

John Brennan responded in an op-ed in today’s New York Times:

The artist’s wife reading – Fyffe Christie

Having worked closely with the F.B.I. over many years on counterintelligence investigations, I was well aware of Russia’s ability to work surreptitiously within the United States, cultivating relationships with individuals who wield actual or potential power. Like Mr. Bortnikov, these Russian operatives and agents are well trained in the art of deception. They troll political, business and cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters. Too often, those puppets are found.

In my many conversations with James Comey, the F.B.I. director, in the summer of 2016, we talked about the potential for American citizens, involved in partisan politics or not, to be pawns in Russian hands. We knew that Russian intelligence services would do all they could to achieve their objectives, which the United States intelligence community publicly assessed a few short months later were to undermine public faith in the American democratic process, harm the electability of the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, and show preference for Mr. Trump. We also publicly assessed that Mr. Putin’s intelligence services were following his orders. Director Comey and I, along with the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, pledged that our agencies would share, as appropriate, whatever information was collected, especially considering the proven ability of Russian intelligence services to suborn United States citizens.

The already challenging work of the American intelligence and law enforcement communities was made more difficult in late July 2016, however, when Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, publicly called upon Russia to find the missing emails of Mrs. Clinton. By issuing such a statement, Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.

Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt (1854-1905)

Such a public clarion call certainly makes one wonder what Mr. Trump privately encouraged his advisers to do — and what they actually did — to win the election. While I had deep insight into Russian activities during the 2016 election, I now am aware — thanks to the reporting of an open and free press — of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some American citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services.

Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash.

Today hundreds of newspapers published editorials condemning Trumps war on press freedom. CNN has publish a list of many of of these papers with links to their editorials. The list is broken down by state, so you can find your own newspaper. I’d love to read the one in my hometown newspaper The Boston Globe, but they only allow me to read two free articles per month and I can’t afford to subscribe. The free press isn’t accessible to all readers!

The jury in the Paul Manafort trial began deliberations this morning. CBS News reports:

After over an hour and a half of instructions from Judge T.S. Ellis, a jury, comprised of 6 men and 6 women, now begin deliberations on Thursday in the fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. It’s unclear how long it will take for them to consider and vote on the 18 charges against Manafort. CBS News’ Paula Reid reports that at a minimum, it will take the jury a few hours just to sort through the procedural paperwork and weigh their vote.

The government has recommended to the court anywhere between 8 to 10 years in prison for falsifying tax returns, bank fraud conspiracy and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial records. The maximum sentence for the 18 counts, however, is 305 years.

Emmanuel Garant

During Wednesday’s closing arguments, prosecutors told jurors Manafort lied to keep himself flush with cash for his luxurious lifestyle and lied some more to procure millions in bank loans when his income dropped off. In his defense, Manafort’s attorneys told jurors to question the entirety of the prosecution’s case as they sought to tarnish the credibility of Manafort’s longtime protege — and government witness — Rick Gates….

In the closing arguments, prosecutor Greg Andres said the government’s case boils down to “Mr. Manafort and his lies.”

“When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort’s money, it is littered with lies,” Andres said as he made his final argument that the jury should find Manafort guilty of 18 felony counts.

Attorneys for Manafort, who is accused of tax evasion and bank fraud, spoke next, arguing against his guilt by saying he left the particulars of his finances to other people, including Gates.

Defense attorney Richard Westling noted that Manafort employed a team of accountants, bookkeepers and tax preparers, a fact he said showed his client wasn’t trying to hide anything. Westling also painted the prosecutions’ case as consisting of cherry-picked evidence that doesn’t show jurors the full picture.

The New York Times has a list of questions the jury will have to consider, including “Rick Gates’s credibility,” “the judge’s behavior,” “Manafort’s lifestyle.” Read all the details at the link.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?

47 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Trump Publicly Admits Guilt Once Again”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    The Washington Post: She works for Trump. He can’t stand him. This is life with Kellyanne and George Conway.

    Kellyanne Conway is in her living room, showing me an enormous painting of Audrey Hepburn wearing a peacock on her head, but her husband, George, really wants us to come into his office and look at a photograph of the moment everything changed.

    It’s a picture he took on election night 2016: Donald Trump is reaching for the first draft of his acceptance speech, just as victory seemed imminent. Back then, George was such an ardent supporter of the president, and so proud of his wife for her historic role as campaign manager, that he wept for joy.

    “That photo was from before you cried,” Kellyanne says.

    “Now I cry for other reasons,” George mutters.

  2. Jslat says:

    RIP Queen of Soul. Aretha Franklin was a big part of the sound track of my life. “American history wells up when Aretha sings.” Obama

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Aretha is gone.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The Daily Beast: Aretha Franklin Dead at 76: A Queen Who Embodied Black Music’s Spirit and Vision

      Aretha Franklin was one of our greatest treasures; a prodigious talent and studious craftswoman who reached the pinnacle of her profession and became a cultural avatar at a time when black women were fighting to be seen and heard on their own terms. Aretha’s ascent to superstardom coincided with Black America’s cultural assertion against white supremacy in the 1960s, and carried over through the disillusionment and disenfranchisement of the ’70s. In the ’80s, she embodied her generation’s shift into newer modes of communication and higher symbols of affluence, and emerged as a venerated elder for a new wave of soul queens in the ’90s. Aretha was always a voice and a mirror for where her people and her generation had been, were currently, and seemed to be going.

    • dakinikat says:

      Try not to scream…

      The president began the Cabinet meeting by acknowledging the passing of singer Aretha Franklin,

      offering his “warmest best wishes and sympathies” her family, according to the White House press pool.

      Mr. Trump described her as someone who worked for him and he knew well, saying her “legacy will thrive and inspire” many generations. It is unclear what the president meant by claiming Franklin worked for him.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      Aretha was on my Rushmore of female singers along with Ella Fitzgerald and Whitney Houston. That leaves Barbara Streisand as the last one living.

      Aretha will be missed. she was one of a kind.

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    What I see in Trump is the spoiled bully he was at 15 still behaving the same way in his 70’s. One can see him marching in his military uniform shoving others aside as he made his way around campus, strutting and bullying those that he could because this is who he was then and now.

    I doubt he behaved that way in college. He was thrown in with others both smarter and tougher which is one reason why we hear so little of those 4 years where it is reported he went home most weekends to indulgent parents who looked the other way. This is the same person who, at age 13 and old enough to know better, threw things over the fence at an infant standing in a playpen. Pretty awful.

    We are being held hostage by an out of control toddler who never heard the word “no”. A grown up brat, ignorant of the world around him but convinced of his own “magnificence” who goes unchecked by those who have the power to do so but won’t. These are his “new parents” who refuse to rein him in.

    It is so depressing watching him get away with it. He is an ignorant moron who is leading us off the cliff with no restraints.

    • bostonboomer says:

      • Pat Johnson says:

        We can take comfort in still having her wonderful recordings that made us stand and dance!

        What a talent.

  5. dakinikat says:

    He keeps admitting to abuse of power and tampering with the justice process. He’s the freaking smoking gun!

    Anyway, watched Rachel go over Dean announcing he had Nixon’s enemies’ list and the resulting looks of shock of the committee members. Never thought I’d be back feeling like I did right before I headed to college. Only then, we had real hearings not kangaroo ones.

    • dakinikat says:

      and “hogwash” indeed.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      I have lived through the McCarthy hearings (I was in grammar school), Watergate (home with kids and had t.v. on all day), and Iran/Contra when I worked at the hospital and snuck into patient rooms to grab some time watching their t.v’s.

      I expect to watch Russiagate sometime in 2019. Hopefully.

  6. bostonboomer says:

  7. bostonboomer says:

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. Pat Johnson says:

    I have lived through the McCarthy hearings (I was in grammar school), Watergate (home with kids and had t.v. on all day), and Iran/Contra when I worked at the hospital and snuck into patient rooms to grab some time watching their t.v’s.

    I expect to watch Russiagate sometime in 2019. Hopefully.

  10. Minkoff Minx says:

    They even have videos…

    Go see the Pence site now

  11. dakinikat says:

    Omarosa is on MSNBC. She has Lara Trump on tape saying she would give Omarosa 15k a month. Omarosa could live wherever and had to remain “positive.” Omarosa says she viewed this as hush money. Keith Schiller, the bodyguard who was there with Trump in Moscow and would have known about the prostitutes, is also getting $15k a month. Omarosa says she has more she will reveal that’s not in the book and will when time is right.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Even the Republicans voted for this? Not holding my breath that they’ll follow up with action. Still, it’s a good start.

  13. NW Luna says:

    JJ — thought you’d like this!

  14. bostonboomer says:

  15. Minkoff Minx says:

    Here is the tweet regarding Russians giving instructions to take away security clearance

  16. dakinikat says:

  17. NW Luna says: