Something tells me, that you will get a sense of where the title of this post is coming from…
…by the sample of these first few images and cartoons.
Oh…shit. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me post a few links, and then get to the cartoons.
Aw, fuck the links.
I wasn’t able to bring myself to watch the show yesterday. I think it is difficult for me to watch all this testimony going on, when I know the Senate is working behind those closed doors to kill my mother.
Here is a cartoon with commentary from Pat Bagley:
Innit the truth.
I can’t much wrap my head around anything else nowadays.
Here are the rest of today’s cartoons…I hope you enjoy them.
You will have to click on the link to see that one by Luckovich in full size.
And remember as you look at many of these cartoons, they are from the foreign press/political cartoonist.
And on that note…..This is an open thread.
The above tweet found this morning….
I’m not in the mindset to come up with the words today. In fact, I doubt that my brain can wrap itself around any type of news that poured out of London late last night.
When I heard the sirens on the television, my parents were watching live coverage, I did not have to see the screen to know that some attack had taken place…and that the target was somewhere in Great Britain. You can tell by the sound of those sirens, distinctive bitches aren’t they?
Reactions vary as expected:
(Incarcerate Deport Repeat? I think that phrase was already used on Veep already you fuckwad. )
Anyway, here’s some more reactions:
And then there is tRump:
I used to think that I hated certain politicians. Yeah, we all hate Ted Cruz and Santorum. Geez…remember the good old days of Bush 1 and 2?
But…the hate I feel for tRump is so deep, it almost disturbs me. Maybe my defenses are so worn down from what I’ve been dealing with…my mom and the rest. I don’t know…it has become a struggle to look at a news feed or read anything that connects to the outside world.
Every day there is a new onslaught of bad shit. Like a blitz of bad news that keeps proving tRump and all his merry men need to go…but still nothing is happening. I thought the despondent feeling I suffered from during the campaign was something I would not feel again.
Foolishly I thought: Hey, once the stories started to break…people would finally snap out of it.
I can’t understand how folks who used to be so anti-Russian and all “fuck the commies” has turned into the kind of Putin loving population they are today. (I’m not talking the GOP politicians who obviously have been blackmailed or are otherwise indebted to Russian interests. ) I’m taking about the kind of people in towns like Banjoville who put tRump in office. These are the people who still think that fluoridation is a conspiracy.
Can someone explain it to me?
Is it as simple as the repurposed neo-Nazi slogan tRump uses…Make America Great Again?
Make America White Again?
Take a look at twitter now, after this latest attack, and see how the people around the world are reacting to tRump’s first Tweet when the news about #LondonBridge broke. That asshole’s words reflects on our country no matter what anyone says. People around the world are disgusted with tRump. They are disgusted with us too.
Putin is succeeding, the people who want to see the United States fail are also succeeding. Our standing in the world is falling dramatically.
I know this post is about London and I have managed to turn it around into a rant about tRump and how he has brought our nation down. But there is a point to all this.
Last night, when I heard those sirens on the TV, and knew something “terroristic” had happened in England…it no longer surprised me. I did not feel anything. Not even a hint of concern. I have become desensitized to the violence.
This realization, while staring onto a screen with bright lights from ambulances and cop cars which caused the living room to dance in colors of red and blue, I felt nothing. So what…I felt nothing. And, what’s more…that I was indifferent, meant nothing at all.
This is an open thread. Post whatever you want. I do not have the capacity to care anymore. What good does it do anyway?
As as become the norm, two new Trump Russia stories dropped last night and another one this this morning.
Despite the ongoing investigation, Trump is considering reversing one of the punishments that Obama meted out to Russia for its interference in the 2016 election.
The Washington Post reports: Trump administration moves to return Russian compounds in Maryland and New York.
The Trump administration is moving toward handing back to Russia two diplomatic compounds, near New York City and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, that its officials were ejected from in late December as punishment for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
President Barack Obama said Dec. 29 that the compounds were being “used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes” and gave Russia 24 hours to vacate them. Separately, Obama expelled from the United States what he said were 35 Russian “intelligence operatives.”
Early last month, the Trump administration told the Russians that it would consider turning the properties back over to them if Moscow would lift its freeze, imposed in 2014 in retaliation for U.S. sanctions related to Ukraine, on construction of a new U.S. consulate on a certain parcel of land in St. Petersburg.
Two days later, the U.S. position changed. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a meeting in Washington that the United States had dropped any linkage between the compounds and the consulate, according to several people with knowledge of the exchanges.
Could they be any more obvious? It looks like Trump caved on getting anything in return for making it easier for Russia to spy on us. What did Putin threaten him with?
In Moscow on Wednesday, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said Russia was “taking into account the difficult internal political situation for the current administration” but retained the option to reciprocate for what he called the “expropriation” of Russian property “if these steps are not somehow adjusted by the U.S. side,” the news outlet Sputnik reported….
Any concessions to Moscow could prove controversial while administration and former Trump campaign officials are under congressional and special counsel investigation for alleged ties to Russia.
Late last night, CNN broke the news that Jeff Sessions is suspected of having another undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador. First on CNN: Sources: Congress investigating another possible Sessions-Kislyak meeting.
Congressional investigators are examining whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an additional private meeting with Russia’s ambassador during the presidential campaign, according to Republican and Democratic Hill sources and intelligence officials briefed on the investigation.
Investigators on the Hill are requesting additional information, including schedules from Sessions, a source with knowledge tells CNN. They are focusing on whether such a meeting took place April 27, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, where then-candidate Donald Trump was delivering his first major foreign policy address. Prior to the speech, then-Sen. Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak attended a small VIP reception with organizers, diplomats and others.
In addition to congressional investigators, the FBI is seeking to determine the extent of interactions the Trump campaign team may have had with Russia’s ambassador during the event as part of its broader counterintelligence investigation of Russian interference in the election.
The FBI is looking into whether there was an additional private meeting at the Mayflower the same day, sources said. Neither Hill nor FBI investigators have yet concluded whether a private meeting took place — and acknowledge that it is possible any additional meeting was incidental.
If this is true, Sessions needs to resign.
This morning The Guardian reports that Nigel Farage is under investigation by the FBI.
Nigel Farage is a “person of interest” in the US counter-intelligence investigation that is looking into possible collusion between the Kremlin and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Guardian has been told.
Sources with knowledge of the investigation said the former Ukip leader had raised the interest of FBI investigators because of his relationships with individuals connected to both the Trump campaign and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder whom Farage visited in March. He’s right in the middle of these relationships. He turns up over and over again….
Farage has not been accused of wrongdoing and is not a suspect or a target of the US investigation. But being a person of interest means investigators believe he may have information about the acts that are under investigation and he may therefore be subject to their scrutiny.
Sources who spoke to the Guardian said it was Farage’s proximity to people at the heart of the investigation that was being examined as an element in their broader inquiry into how Russia may have worked with Trump campaign officials to influence the US election.
“One of the things the intelligence investigators have been looking at is points of contact and persons involved,” one source said. “If you triangulate Russia, WikiLeaks, Assange and Trump associates the person who comes up with the most hits is Nigel Farage.
“He’s right in the middle of these relationships. He turns up over and over again. There’s a lot of attention being paid to him.”
The source mentioned Farage’s links with Roger Stone, Trump’s long-time political adviser who has admitted being in contact with Guccifer 2.0, a hacker whom US intelligence agencies believe to be a Kremlin agent.
More Trump Russia news
Ryan Lizza at The New Yorker: Trump’s ‘Good Job’ Call to Roger Stone.
On May 11th Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s on-again, off-again political adviser for several decades, had just wrapped up a pair of morning television appearances when, according to two sources with direct knowledge, he received a call from the President.
Just a night earlier, Trump claimed that he was no longer in touch with Stone. In the weeks and months ahead, the relationship between Trump and Stone is expected to be a significant focus of investigators, and their call raises an important question: Why is the President still reaching out to figures in the middle of the Russia investigations? Previous reports have noted that Trump has also been in touch with Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, two figures targeted by the F.B.I.’s Russia probe. Add Stone to the list of former top Trump aides who, despite being under investigation, are still winning attention from the President….
On May 9th, Trump fired Comey. Stone’s role in advising Trump on the abrupt dismissal of the person investigating the President’s campaign and advisers, including Stone himself, immediately became a subject of intrigue.
CNN reported that Stone “was among those who recommended to the President that he fire Comey,” a potentially explosive revelation that was also reported by Politico. Firing the F.B.I. director, according to several legal scholars, could be obstruction of justice. This made it worse. The President of the United States was not just talking to one of the subjects of the F.B.I. probe but also, if the CNN and Politico reports were accurate, colluding with Stone to terminate the head of the investigation. Trump quickly tried to contain the damage.
“The Roger Stone report on @CNN is false – Fake News,” he tweeted. “Have not spoken to Roger in a long time – had nothing to do with my decision.”
Stone himself was more circumspect. “I am not the source of Politico/CNN stories claiming I urged @realDonaldTrump 2 fire Comey,” he tweeted. “Never made such claim. I support decision 100%.” As for Trump’s claim that the two men haven’t spoken “in a long time,” Stone insisted they had actually spoken “fairly recently.”
Trump seems unable to stop himself from reaching out to those who apparently helped him coordinate with Russia during the campaign. Is he trying to get forced out of the presidency or is he just plain stupid?
…aside from contradicting Trump’s claim of not talking to Stone, the call is unusual for another reason. “The conventional wisdom is that when someone has exposure to obstruction-of-justice liability, as Trump certainly does, he should avoid unnecessary reaching out to others involved in the investigation, lest he make things worse for himself,” Norman Eisen, the ethics counsel in the Obama White House, said. “But Trump is famously unorthodox. Indeed, that is how he got into this mess in the first place.”
He added, “Trump just added another item to the investigators’ checklist.”
The one-time foreign policy advisor to President Donald Trump, who has since been swept up in the congressional investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 presidential campaign, told lawmakers this week that he is eager to come to Washington, D.C., to testify.
“In the interest of finally providing the American people with some accurate information at long last, I hope that we can proceed with this straight dialogue soon,” Page wrote in a letter to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Page told ABC News that the committee told him they are not yet ready to interview him.
For his part, Page said he told ABC News he is “more than cooperating” with the congressional probe.
But is he talking to the FBI?
One more before I wrap this up. Politico: Russia escalates spy games after years of U.S. neglect.
In the throes of the 2016 campaign, the FBI found itself with an escalating problem: Russian diplomats, whose travel was supposed to be tracked by the State Department, were going missing.
The diplomats, widely assumed to be intelligence operatives, would eventually turn up in odd places, often in middle-of-nowhere USA. One was found on a beach, nowhere near where he was supposed to be. In one particularly bizarre case, relayed by a U.S. intelligence official, another turned up wandering around in the middle of the desert. Interestingly, both seemed to be lingering where underground fiber optics cables tend to run.
According to another U.S. intelligence official, “They find these guys driving around in circles in Kansas. It’s a pretty aggressive effort.”
It’s a trend that has led intelligence officials to conclude the Kremlin is waging a quiet effort to map the United States’ telecommunications infrastructure, perhaps preparing for an opportunity to disrupt it.
“Half the time they’re never confronted,” the official, who declined to be identified discussing intelligence matters, said of the incidents. “We assume they’re mapping our infrastructure.”
Now that is scary.
As the country — and Washington in particular — borders on near-obsession over whether affiliates of Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Kremlin to swing the 2016 presidential election, U.S. intelligence officials say Moscow’s espionage ground game is growing stronger and more brazen than ever.
It’s a problem that’s sparking increasing concern from the intelligence community, including the FBI. After neglecting the Russian threat for a decade, the U.S. was caught flat-footed by Moscow’s election operation. Now, officials are scrambling to figure out how to contain a sophisticated intelligence network that’s festered and strengthened at home after years’ worth of inattention.
Please read the rest at Politico.
What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread below and have a tremendous Thursday!
I’m illustrating this post with paintings of women and cats–not relevant, but perhaps more soothing than the news.
It’s beginning to look like we have an actual spy ring in the White House. Here are the late-breaking stories from last night. I’m assuming everyone has read or heard about them.
The New York Times: Kushner Is Said to Have Discussed a Secret Channel to Talk to Russia.
The Washington Post: Senate Intelligence Committee requests Trump campaign documents.
The New York Times: Russian Once Tied to Trump Aide Seeks Immunity to Cooperate With Congress.
While all this news has been breaking, Trump has been in Europe undermining NATO and our country’s relationship with long-time allies. He has done everything Vladimir Putin could have wished for. Trump ignored his advisers and refused to reaffirm U.S. support for Article 5
Foreign Policy: Trump’s Article 5 Omission Was an Attack Against All of NATO.
When President Trump spoke to NATO members for the first time on Thursday he failed to say the one thing Europeans were waiting to hear. He never mentioned America’s unwavering commitment to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all. Twitter erupted in a storm of outrage and, for at least a few hours, #NATO was trending. Sean Spicer, responding to the criticism, stressed that even though the president didn’t say it outright, he is “fully committed” to NATO and Article 5.
Spicer’s logic? Trump’s mere presence at the dedication ceremony at the new NATO HQ was evidence enough. For folks that don’t track NATO issues on a day-to-day basis (and that’s most people), the president’s omission may not seem like a big deal. But Trump’s refusal to repeat what so many members of his own Cabinet have already stated — including his vice president — was a significant blow to the transatlantic relationship and could have lasting consequences.
Why were Europeans so eager to hear Trump utter the words “Article 5”? It was just last summer when Trump, in an interview with the New York Times, alluded to the fact that the United States could make its commitment to Article 5 conditional on whether the country in question was spending enough on defense. That sent a shiver down the spines of many NATO allies as they imagined calling Washington in a crisis — only to be asked first asked whether they had met the 2 percent target. (For many, the answer would be no.) Throughout the campaign, Trump also called the alliance “obsolete” (before he said it was “no longer” obsolete) and has repeatedly claimed — falsely — that NATO allies owe the United States vast sums of money.
Read the rest at the link. Foreign Policy is providing free access to their articles this weekend.
TAORMINA, Italy — Under pressure from allies, President Donald Trump backed a pledge to fight protectionism on Saturday, but refused to endorse a global climate change accord, saying he needed more time to decide.
The summit of Group of Seven wealthy nations pitted Trump against the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan on several issues, with European diplomats frustrated at having to revisit questions they hoped were long settled.
Trump, who has previously called global warming a hoax, tweeted that he would make a decision next week on whether to back the 2015 Paris Agreement on curbing carbon emissions following lengthy discussions with G7 partners.
He probably needs to check with Putin first.
“The entire discussion about climate was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters. “There are no indications whether the United States will stay in the Paris Agreement or not.”
However, there was relief that Trump agreed to language in the final G7 communique that pledged to fight protectionism and commits to a rules-based international trade system.
Read more at the link.
NBC News is reporting this morning that Trump and his entourage are refusing to give on-camera briefings to the press or answer questions about Kushner. All other NATO countries are holding public press conferences at the closing of the summit. They did send out designated patsy H.R. McMaster to answer some questions.
Philip Rucker at The Washington Post: Trump adviser: ‘I would not be concerned’ about a Russia back-channel, irrespective of Kushner.
TAORMINA, Italy — President Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Saturday he “would not be concerned” about having a back-channel communications system with Russia, though he and other top White House officials refused to comment specifically on the growing controversy surrounding Jared Kushner.
A news conference here at the conclusion of Trump’s maiden foreign trip was overtaken at times by questions about Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Friday’s Washington Post report that Kushner had discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin.
The Post reported earlier in the week that Kushner — who helped plan the Middle East portion of Trump’s trip and traveled with the president to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican — is now a focus of the FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
McMaster sand National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who together briefed reporters Saturday, were unwilling to discuss the Kushner matter, as was White House press secretary Sean Spicer. White House officials insisted the briefing be conducted off-camera, preventing photographers or television cameras from documenting it.
“We’re not going to comment on Jared,” Cohn said. “We’re just not going to comment.”
McMaster either misunderstood what Kushner was trying to do or is simply trying to obfuscate and sow confusion about what happened. Kushner wasn’t just seeking a secure channel to communicate with the Kremlin. He wanted to use the Russian embassy and Russian security channels for communications that would be hidden from the U.S. government and the American people. How can that not be treason?
Some reactions to the Kushner revelations
Business Insider interviewed Bob Dietz, who formerly worked for NSA and the CIA:
“GOOD GRIEF. This is serious,” said Bob Deitz, a veteran of the NSA and the CIA who worked under the Clinton and Bush administrations.
“This raises a bunch of problematic issues. First, of course, is the Logan Act, which prohibits private individuals conducting negotiations on behalf of the US government with foreign governments,” Deitz said. “Second, it tends to reinforce the notion that Trump’s various actions about [fired FBI Director James] Comey do constitute obstruction.”
“In other words, there is now motive added to conduct,” Deitz noted. “This is a big problem for the President.”
They also talked to Glen Carle, formerly of the CIA.
“If you are in a position of public trust, and you talk to, meet, or collude with a foreign power” while trying to subvert normal state channels, “you are, in the eyes of the FBI and CIA, a traitor,” said Glenn Carle, a former top counterterrorism official at the CIA. “That is what I spent my life getting foreigners to do with me, for the US government.”
Carle noted that, if the Kushner-Kislyak meeting and reported discussion were an isolated incident, then it could be spun as “normal back-channel communication arrangements among states.” ….
“We know about the multiple meetings of Trump entourage members with Russian intel-related individuals,” Carle said. “There will be many others that we do not know about.” He noted that while this reported back channel is “explosive,” it is worth questioning who planted the story — The Post reportedly received an anonymous letter in December tipping them off to the Kushner-Kislyak meeting.
Additionally, as a longtime diplomat, Kislyak would have known that his communications were being monitored. So the possibility remains, Carle said, that the Russians used the meeting with Kushner to distract the intelligence community and the public from potentially more incriminating relationships between the campaign and Moscow.
Read much more at the Business Insider link.
I have to agree with Joseph Cannon on this: Lock him up? No. SEEK THE DEATH PENALTY!
I confess that this post’s title is a provocation, though it expresses my sincere belief. If this Reuters report and this WP report are true — and as of this writing, they have not been denied — Jared Kushner is a traitor. He should not simply lose his job; he must be tried. Tried for treason.
Kushner lied on his security clearance forms — forms which clearly state that a deliberate falsification will result in jail. Any “Oops! Forgot!” claim is a bad joke. Jared Kushner cannot possibly have forgotten a meeting with the Russian ambassador in Trump Tower. No-one can forget an attempt to set up a back channel communication system using Russian facilities….
You wanna know who really is without sin in all this? Hillary Clinton.
Yet the Republicans chanted “Lock her up!” because Hillary set up a private email server. Contrary to the incessant lies emitted by right-wing propagandists, that server handled NON-classified communications, with a couple of accidental exceptions (which Hillary did not send). The most often-cited of these exceptions was a piece of piffle about Malawi which never should have received a classification stamp.
That’s why the Republican establishment demanded that Hillary Clinton lose her security clearance: Freakin’ Malawi. The same establishment is now trying to come up with a way to save Kushner’s ass.
The hypocrisy on display here is beyond flabbergasting, beyond infuriating. I cannot think of a parallel in the entire history of partisan double standards. Anyone who can damn Hillary while excusing Kushner and Trump must be mentally sick.
At this time (last December), Trump and his team were bad-mouthing the U.S. intelligence community. Kushner’s back-channel was designed to keep Trump’s communications with Putin hidden from our people, not from the FSB.
Please go read the rest at Cannonfire.
More links to check out
The New Yorker: Jared Kushner’s Russia Problems.
The New Yorker: How Worried Should Jared Kushner Be?
Politico: Meet the Real Jared Kushner.
I couldn’t sleep last night after reading these articles and watching MSNBC’s reports. I’m probably going to have to take a nap soon, but I’ll be checking in to see your reactions and click on your links. Take care everyone. This is really really scary.
While I was browsing for interesting stories this morning, I watched Trump’s embarrassing speech at the opening of the 9/11 center at NATO headquarters. He began with a lecture on how the U.S. is paying so much for defense and other countries are failing to meet the 2% GDP requirement. How long is he going to keep beating this dead horse?
After that, he seemed to imply that NATO had spent too much money on the 9/11 memorial. He said that the U.S. would not abandon NATO, but he did not reaffirm article 5, which states that if one NATO country is attacked, all have been attacked.
Last night a reporter for The Guardian, Ben Jacobs, was assaulted by the GOP candidate for the House in Montana.
The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he is alleged to have slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting: “Get the hell out of here.”
Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire endorsed by Donald Trump, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly “body-slammed” the reporter.
“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambulance. “I think he whaled on me once or twice … He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”
Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey witnessed the incident at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Montana, according to an account published on the Fox News website. After Jacobs asked Gianforte his question, Acuna wrote: “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.
“Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’ … To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies.”
At least 3 Montana newspapers have now unendorsed Gianforte, and the election is today.
This might explain Gianforte’s anger toward Jacobs and the Guardian. On April 28, Jacobs published this story on Gianforte, whom Trump endorsed in voice message: GOP candidate Greg Gianforte has financial ties to US-sanctioned Russian companies.
A Republican congressional candidate has financial ties to a number of Russian companies that have been sanctioned by the US, the Guardian has learned.
Greg Gianforte, who is the GOP standard bearer in the upcoming special election in Montana, owns just under $250,000 in shares in two index funds that are invested in the Russian economy to match its overall performance.
According to a financial disclosure filed with the clerk of the House of Representatives, the Montana tech mogul owns almost $150,000 worth of shares in VanEck Vectors Russia ETF and $92,400 in the IShares MSCF Russia ETF fund. Both are indexed to the Russian equities market and have significant holdings in companies such as Gazprom and Rosneft that came under US sanctions in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of the Crimea.
The Moron-In-Chief is now in trouble with two countries and the U.S. Department of Defense for his blabbing of top secret intelligence. First it was Israel, now the U.K.
Israel has changed the way it shares intelligence with the U.S., Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Wednesday. The move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump divulged to Russia classified information reportedly obtained from Israel.
“We discussed the issue with our friends in America,” Liberman said in an interview with Army Radio. “We did our checks.” The defense chief didn’t specify what changes had been made, saying: “Not everything needs to be discussed in the media, some things need to be talked about in closed rooms.” ….
Israel has changed the way it shares intelligence with the U.S., Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Wednesday. The move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump divulged to Russia classified information reportedly obtained from Israel.
British police have stopped sharing evidence from the investigation into the terror network behind the Manchester bombing with the United States after a series of leaks left investigators and the government furious.
The ban is limited to the Manchester investigation only. British police believe the leaks are unprecedented in their scope, frequency and potential damage.
Downing Street was not behind the decision by Greater Manchester police to stop sharing information with US intelligence, a No 10 source said, stressing that it was important police were allowed to take independent decisions.
Relations between the US and UK security services, normally extremely close, have been put under strain by the scale of the leaks from US officials to the American media.
After chairing a meeting of the emergency Cobra meeting Theresa May said: “I will make clear to President Trump that intelligence shared between our security agencies must remain secure.” She is due to meet the US president at a Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday.
As for the Defense Department’s reaction to Trump leaks, have you read the transcript of Trump’s call to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte? It’s beyond shocking. Not only did the Moron-in-Chief praise Duterte for his extra-legal murders of suspected drug dealers and addicts, but also he revealed the location of two U.S. nuclear submarines!
Trump commended Duterte’s actions in the same call in which the U.S. president invited him to Washington, according to a transcript of their conversation published by the Washington Post and the investigative news site The Intercept. The document included a “confidential” cover sheet from the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.
Almost 9,000 people, many small-time drug users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about one-third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defense during legitimate operations. Human rights groups say official accounts are implausible.
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Duterte, according to the transcript.
“Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
Duterte thanked Trump and said “this is the scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation.”
“I think we had a previous president who did not understand that,” Trump replied.
And then there was this:
Pentagon officials are in shock after the release of a transcript of a call between President Donald Trump and his Philippines counterpart revealed that the US military had moved two nuclear submarines towards North Korea.
“We never talk about subs!” three officials told BuzzFeed News, referring to the military’s belief that keeping submarines’ movements secret is key to their mission.
While the US military will frequently announce the deployment of aircraft carriers, it is far more careful when discussing the movement of nuclear submarines. Carriers are hard to miss, and that, in part, is a reason the US military deploys them. They are a physical show of force. Submarines are, at times, a furtive complement to the carriers, a hard-to-detect means of strategic deterrence.
According to the transcript, released Wednesday, Trump called Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte April 29, in part to discuss the rising threat from North Korea. During that call, while discussing ways to mitigate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions, Trump said: “We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines — not that we want to use them at all. I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this, but [Kim] could be crazy, so we will see what happens.”
It takes a madman to recognize another madman, I guess. In reading the transcript, I got the feeling that Trump would like nothing more than to use those nukes. But now, all our enemies know where they can fine our nuclear subs.
By announcing the presence of nuclear submarines, the president, some Pentagon officials privately explained, gives away the element of surprise — an irony given his repeated declarations during the campaign that the US announces far too many of its military plans when it comes to combatting ISIS.
Moreover, some countries in the region, particularly China, seek to develop their anti-sub capability. Knowing that two US submarines are in the region could allow them to test this.
Finally, it is unclear why Duterte would need to know the specific number of subs in the region. The Philippines is not a part of US military efforts to deter North Korea, so why would Duterte need to know such details?
There is so much Trump Russia news that I’ll have to give you the rest as links only.
Three big stories broke last night, and I posted them on JJ’s thread.
More Trump Russia stories:
The Atlantic: The Known Unknowns of the Russia Investigation.
Axios: Trump’s “street fighters.”
The Atlantic: Pope Francis, Trump Whisperer?
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below, and I hope you enjoy your day.
Here we are only a little more than 100 days into the Trump presidency and it looks like impeachment is on the horizon. Trump has tried to interfere with the Russia investigation and has even fired the FBI director. He gave top secret intelligence to the Russians. He’s using his office to make money hand over fist. He’s considered a laughingstock around the world. If only someone could have warned us what a disastrous president he would turn out to be. Oh wait…
It is appropriate to be appalled at the current state of our government. But none of us should be particularly shocked. We were warned, time and time again, by people who know Trump well and who know the role of the presidency well, that the former was in no way fit to fill the latter.
And nobody warned us about the danger Trump posed to our nation more forcefully or with more prescience than Hillary Clinton.
“[A]s Michelle Obama has said, the presidency doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are,” she said in Raleigh, North Carolina days before the election. “And I think it’s fair to say that my opponent has already revealed who he is.”
Clinton knew then that Trump’s allegiance to Putin and Russia was not only problematic, but dangerous.
“It is pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyber attacks against the United States of America. That you encouraged espionage against our people. That you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do,” she said during the third presidential debate.
“[Trump] would rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us.”
Click on the link to read much more of the wisdom that Hillary shared during the 2016 campaign while the media obsessed over emails hacked and released by Russia to help Trump.
Even the people who work for Trump are getting disgusted with him. After new broke yesterday that Trump called James Comey “crazy, a real nut job” in a meeting with Russian officials and then went on to say that he had fired Comey because of pressure from the Russia investigation, they vented to reporters.
The Daily Beast: Trump Officials: ‘He Looks More and More Like a Complete Moron.’
The administration officials and West Wing aides who were left grounded stateside on Friday late afternoon couldn’t do much more than dodge questions and vent inflamed frustrations at their boss. (Senior staffers who escaped aboard Air Force One included Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks, press secretary Sean Spicer, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.)
“I’m glad I’m not on the plane so I could be here to answer your Russia questions,” a senior Trump administration official said, sarcastically, before abruptly hanging up.
Trump’s remarks quickly elicited groans, and some harsh words, from senior officials who did speak with The Daily Beast.
“If Donald Trump gets impeached, he will have one person to blame: Donald Trump,” one of those administration officials said.
The official noted a pattern among leaks that have dominated headlines this week: In virtually every case—the president’s request that Comey pledge fealty to him, a subsequent ask that Comey ease an investigation into his former top national security aide, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and revelations that he hopes to rehire Flynn when the FBI wraps up its probe—leaked Trump statements have revealed flippance or hostility toward a federal investigation into alleged Russian meddling in 2016’s presidential election.
The resulting clamor of calls for an independent probe into that meddling—the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to lead such a probe this week—and allegations of criminal obstruction and calls for impeachment were entirely avoidable, the official suggested.
And it gets worse.
Trump’s repeated media missteps have frustrated even longtime supporters. “Every day he looks more and more like a complete moron,” said one senior administration official who also worked on Trump’s campaign. “I can’t see Trump resigning or even being impeached, but at this point I wish he’d grow a brain and be the man that he sold himself as on the campaign.”
Asked whether an administration staff change-up would ameliorate this latest crisis, a Republican source formerly involved with a pro-Trump political group told The Daily Beast, “yes, if it comes with a frontal lobotomy for Trump.”
Trump aides also are confused by Trump’s continued praise of and efforts to reach out to fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Politico: Trump told aides firing Flynn was a mistake.
Two days after firing Michael Flynn as his national security adviser in February, President Donald Trump told several aides and friends he should have kept him instead….
“I was kind of stunned,” one person said. “I asked him. You fired him already. What are you going to do?”
Trump has grown obsessed with defending the tough-talking 58-year old general, repeatedly telling aides and associates in private that Flynn was a “good man.” One adviser close to Trump said he’s heard Trump defend the general using the exact words described in reports of memos written by former FBI director James Comey recording his conversations with the president — and that Trump has told people inside the White House he wished the investigation would go away.
It has left White House officials and outside advisers perplexed: Why is Trump so determined to defend a man at the center of a federal investigation that is damaging his administration, and a man he has accused of lying to his vice president?
Officials say Trump has remained resolute in defending Flynn even though aides, including White House Counsel Don McGahn, have reminded Trump of the Russia investigation and other problems. News reports about Flynn, including his lobbying for foreign governments, haven’t bothered Trump nearly as much as they’ve bothered his aides, senior officials said. News of subpoenas haven’t caused him to lose faith, even privately, associates said.
“A lot of people in the White House don’t want anything to do with Flynn,” one White House official said. ”But Trump loves him. He thinks everyone is out to get him.”
So now Trump is in Saudi Arabia, and he’s going to give a speech on Islam to 50 Middle-Eastern leaders. The speech was written by notorious alt-right islamophobe Stephen Miller.
The author of President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, which targeted people from six-majority Muslim countries, is the principal speechwriter for the President’s speech on Islam in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior adviser for policy and speechwriter, is the principal aide in charge of writing both the speech on Islam and Trump’s later speech on the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a White House official told CNN.
Both are topics Miller has spoken out against throughout his career on Capitol Hill and in the White House.
The official said the speech has been put together through a collaborative process inside the White House, but that Miller was the primary author.
The speech, which will be given in front of about 50 Muslim leaders, could be a flashpoint in Trump’s eight-day, five country trip. Trump has long derided Islam, proposed banning all Muslim immigration into the United States during the campaign and is expected to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” throughout the speech in Saudi Arabia, the cradle of the 1.6 billion-member religion.
What could possibly go wrong?
It will be current National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster’s job to keep Trump on a short leash on his foreign trip. I’m not so sure how capable McMaster is at controlling his boss, considering that McMaster was present at the meet where Trump handed Israeli intelligence secrets to the Russians and admitted that he fired the FBI director be cause he’s “a nutjob” for investigating connections between Trump and Russia.
Jake Tapper at CNN: Between Trump and his national security adviser lie ‘ferocious’ internal politics.
As President Donald Trump heads overseas for his first international trip as President, many in the international community will be watching his national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, who has just experienced one of the most politically challenging weeks of his career.
The trip — to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, a NATO summit in Brussels and a G7 summit in Sicily — will be fraught with international risks, and much of it is riding on the ability of McMaster to steer the President in the right directions.
“It can be difficult to advise the President effectively given his seemingly short attention span and propensity to be easily distracted,” a source knowledgeable about McMaster’s day-to-day challenges told CNN.
The source added that McMaster’s task — being an honest broker of various national security options for the President — is further complicated by fears on the National Security Council that Trump can be reckless with sensitive information.
“You can’t say what not to say,” the source said of Trump, “because that will then be one of the first things he’ll say.”
When the president is “a moron,” it can be difficult to work for him. If only the media hadn’t ignored Hillary’s warnings.
McMaster increasingly finds himself in a situation where rivals in the White House “try to undermine him or leak information to the media that undermines the national security of the United States.”
Bannon is said to be “the biggest obstruction” to McMaster doing his job.
In one recent situation, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and McMaster had agreed that they would provide a range of options for the President in terms of how to proceed in Afghanistan, including a modest increase in the number of US troops in Afghanistan.
But before McMaster could make the recommendation, the option of a troop buildup was leaked to the media, with part of the leak including that Bannon opposed such a move. The blowback from conservatives and others cleaused the recommendations to be delayed, and others who supported the move to get “skittish.” The leak was perceived within the NSC as Bannon or his allies trying to stamp McMaster’s name onto the proposal and to push back against it through the media.
Read more at CNN.
Trump will also be going to Israel, where Intel officials were “horrified” by his leaks to Russian officials. Recall that McMaster said these leaks were “wholly appropriate.”
The Times of Israel: ‘Horrified’ Israeli intel officials ‘were shouting at US counterparts’ over Trump leak.
US President Donald Trump’s reported sharing of a highly classified Israeli tip with Russia led to incredibly tense meetings between Israeli and American intelligence officials, Foreign Policy Magazine reported Friday.
The Israelis reportedly shouted at their US counterparts, demanding an explanation for Trump’s actions, according to the magazine, which quoted a US defense official….
Though Washington and Jerusalem have publicly brushed aside reports of the incident, behind the scenes top Israeli defense officials are said to be angry and concerned by the president’s actions.
Beyond the possible danger to the source, FP reported that Israelis feared they had lost any further access to the spy’s intel.
Though the magazine noted that IS is not currently a major concern for the Jewish state, the spy was also reportedly a major asset in gaining information on the actions of Iran in Syria — through its Revolutionary Guards Corps and Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, both of which have been fighting for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
One more story about the moron-in-chief, before I wrap this up. Business Insider: Trump’s aides hosted an ‘intervention’ to try to tone down his Twitter use.
President Donald Trump’s aides grew so alarmed by the barrage of inflammatory tweets coming from Trump that they organized an “intervention,” one official said to The Wall Street Journal.
Hosted several weeks ago, the discussion was reportedly meant to encourage Trump to exercise more restraint on the social media platform, which has gotten Trump into trouble in the past — more recently when he openly accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his campaign.
Aides warned Trump his tweets could “paint him into a corner” potentially compromising him both politically and legally.
Of course it didn’t work . . .
I know I’ve just scratched the surface of all the fast-breaking news. What are you hearing and reading? Let us know in the comment thread below. Have a nice weekend and keep plenty of popcorn on hand.
Can we get through one day without a major national security crisis triggered by Trump’s stupidity and incompetence? Apparently not.
Yesterday we got perhaps the worst news yet–that Trump had shared highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador who is at the heart of the Russia investigation. The Washington Post broke the news:
The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.
The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.
“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”
This morning Trump defended himself on Twitter:
So now he has publicly admitted it. And he doesn’t seem to understand that the Russians have no interest in helping us fight ISIS, and they will use the information that Trump blabbed to find out the source and pass what they learn on to Assad and Iran. There is a child running the country and we’re all in grave danger.
Stephen Tankel at the Washington Post: This is why Trump’s loose tongue has compromised U.S. security.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster said, “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.” However, this narrow denial does not discount the possibility that information was disclosed that could enable Russia to infer the sources and methods through which information was acquired. By revealing the city where the information was collected, he also may have enabled Moscow to determine the ally that provided it.
The most direct and immediate impact may be to jeopardize a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State, thereby making it more difficult to detect and thwart terrorist plots. It is also possible that Moscow could use the information to its advantage in various ways that harm the United States or its allies.
As bad as the exposure of sources and methods would be on its own terms, the long-term consequences for counterterrorism are even worse. This is because Trump divulged information collected by a U.S. ally, without its permission. This was a breach of trust that is likely to damage not only the intelligence relationship with the country in question, but also with other countries.
Why that’s so important:
Counterterrorism intelligence….requires identifying and thwarting threats before they happen. Analysis and operations go together in preventing an attack or neutralizing a threat. The United States cannot do this by itself — this effort relies heavily on intelligence cooperation from other countries.
Intelligence cooperation on counterterrorism takes various forms. Simple cooperation involves the exchange of single pieces of intelligence, often regarding a common target such as the Islamic State.
There are also more complex forms of cooperation. For example, the United States has often bartered technical information gathered from satellites and other sources gleaned through technical means, for human source reporting that is more difficult to acquire. Sometimes, partners provide intelligence as part of a broader effort to maintain positive relations with the United States. Intelligence cooperation sometimes extends beyond the exchange of information to include the conduct of joint operations.
Much more at the link.
There’s likely to be another crisis soon, because Trump is going to receive Turkey’s dictatorial leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the White House today. CNN: Erdogan meets Trump: 3 key issues topping the agenda. The main points
1. US arming Kurdish fighters.Turkey lashed out last week after the Pentagon announced plans to arm members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) fighting ISIS in Syria. Erdogan called for the plan to be “reversed immediately” and promised his supporters he’d discuss the issue with Trump at the White House meeting on Tuesday.The YPG fights in a coalition of rebel groups that the US considers its main ally in the Syrian conflict, but Turkish officials see the unit as a terrorist organization linked to an insurgency movement in the south of Turkey.
2. Turkey’s relationship with Russia over SyriaTurkey, along with Russia and Iran, is brokering ceasefire talks aimed at ending Syria’s six-year war.The ceasefire talks — held in Astana, Kazakhstan — were spearheaded by Russia and were widely seen as a way to sideline the United States from the process. While that move rattled the Obama administration, the Astana talks now seem to have been accepted by Trump and other Western leaders.
3. Extradition of Erdogan’s rival GulenErdogan and Turkish officials have long pressed the United States to extradite Fetullah Gulen, a friend-turned-foe of Erdogan’s, who has been in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.Erdogan believes Gulen was behind a failed military coup in July last year, but the US has said there is not enough evidence to send the 76-year-old Muslim cleric back to Turkey.Gulen has repeatedly denied involvement in the coup attempt.
I shudder to think what Trump will do in this meeting. I can only hope someone sane is prepared to short circuit him.
Another stunning White House meeting was downplayed in the press yesterday because of all the fuss over Trump’s traitorous leaking to Russia. Rachel Maddow covered it in detail last night. The child president met with the guy who helped arrange the secret meeting in the Seychelles where Erik Prince met with a high-level Putin ally shortly before the inauguration.
Washington Post on April 3, 2017: Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel.
Though Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team, he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant, according to the officials, who did not identify the Russian….
The Seychelles encounter, which one official said spanned two days, adds to an expanding web of connections between Russia and Americans with ties to Trump — contacts that the White House has been reluctant to acknowledge or explain until they have been exposed by news organizations….
The Seychelles meeting came after separate private discussions in New York involving high-ranking representatives of Trump with both Moscow and the Emirates.
The crown prince’s role:
The White House has acknowledged that Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s original national security adviser, and Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner met with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, in late November or early December in New York.
Flynn and Kushner were joined by Bannon for a separate meeting with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who made an undisclosed visit to New York later in December, according to the U.S., European and Arab officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
In an unusual breach of protocol, the UAE did not notify the Obama administration in advance of the visit, though officials found out because Zayed’s name appeared on a flight manifest.
Officials said Zayed and his brother, the UAE’s national security adviser, coordinated the Seychelles meeting with Russian government officials with the goal of establishing an unofficial back channel between Trump and Putin.
USA Today yesterday: Trump meets with crown prince of Abu Dhabi as he looks to Muslim world.
President Trump greeted the crown prince of Abu Dhabi at the White House Monday, beginning a week that will mark a dramatic overture to the Muslim world.
Trump meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, and he departs Friday for Saudi Arabia as the first foreign destination of his four-month-old presidency. By going first to the Saudi capital to meet with leaders of predominately Muslim Persian Gulf countries, the White House hopes will emphasize their unified resolve against common adversaries, including the Islamic State and Iran.
Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan is a “very special person, highly respected,” Trump said during a brief photo opportunity in the Oval Office. “And loves his country, I can tell you that, loves his country. And I think loves the United States, which to us is very important.”
USA Today didn’t mention the Seychelles connection. Can you believe this shit?!
One more story. Yesterday Anderson Cooper interviewed Sally Yates. The interview will be shown tonight during the 8:00 hour.
Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates said former national security adviser Michael Flynn was in a “serious compromise situation, that the Russians had real leverage” in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
In an exclusive one-on-one interview — her first on television since being fired by President Donald Trump — Yates said Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence and there was “certainly a criminal statute that was implicated by his conduct.” [….]Yates told Cooper that she expected the White House to act urgently on information that she had given the administration that Flynn had been compromised by his contact with Russian officials prior to Trump’s inauguration.
“We expected the White House to act,” she said.When asked by Cooper if she expected the administration to act quickly, Yates replied, “Yes.”“There was an urgency to the information?” Cooper clarified.“Yes,” Yates said.Flynn remained in his position for 18 days after Yates had informed the administration about her concerns over his conduct.