Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
This is later than usual and I’m sorry. This is the third time to the Vet these last few days with Miles this morning and I seriously had to take nap. My hope is that he’s stabilized and will continue to mend some so we can figure out if he has any underlying problems other than his diabetes. He’s been keeping me up at nights with a routine like a newborn so I feel like I’ve been through the ringer.
BB has helped me out this morning with some enlightening and freaky things going on with the Russian Collaboration investigation. Foreign Policy reports on “How Jared Kushner’s Newspaper Became a Favorite Outlet for WikiLeaks Election Hacks.” It appears that his paper, “The New York Observer, owned by Trump’s son-in-law, was a friendly outlet for the 2016 Russian hackers.”
In the fall of 2014, Julian Assange, the embattled head of WikiLeaks, was meeting with a steady stream of supportive journalists in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had taken refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges. Among those seeking an audience with Assange was a freelancer working for the New York Observer, the newspaper owned and published by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and key advisor, Jared Kushner.
Ken Kurson, the newspaper’s editor in chief — along with a freelance writer he’d hired — helped arrange a “no-holds-barred” interview with Assange that October.
I can’t see how there isn’t a building amount of evidence that Kushner and Trump, Jr. didn’t actively coordinate with Russian Assets. It’s also evident that the Justice Department is now providing any evidence of Trump’s motivations in the Comey Firing.
Special counselRobert Mueller‘s team investigating whether President Donald Trump sought to obstruct a federal inquiry into connections between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives has now directed the Justice Department to turn over a broad array of documents, ABC News has learned.
In particular, Mueller’s investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBIDirector James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter, according to a source who has not seen the request but was told about it.
Issued within the past month, the directive marks the special counsel’s first records request to the Justice Department, and it means Mueller is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation.
Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein played key roles in Comey’s removal. And Sessions has since faced withering criticism from Trump over his recusal and Rosenstein’s subsequent appointment of Mueller.
Mueller’s investigators now seek not only communications among Justice Department staffers but also any of their communications with White House officials, the source said. Before this request, investigators asked former senior Justice Department officials for information from their time at the department, ABC News was told.
The latest move suggests the special counsel is still digging into, among other matters, whether Trump or any other administration official improperly tried to influence an ongoing investigation.
I love this OP ED in the NYT entitled: “We’re With Stupid”. Maybe love isn’t quite the right word here. I continually wonder what on earth brings a group of supposed Christians into the fold of such a lying huckster.
The Russians also uploaded a thousand videos to YouTube and published more than 130,000 messages on Twitter about last year’s election. As recent congressional hearings showed, the arteries of our democracy were clogged with toxins from a hostile foreign power.
But the problem is not the Russians — it’s us. We’re getting played because too many Americans are ill equipped to perform the basic functions of citizenship. If the point of the Russian campaign, aided domestically by right-wing media, was to get people to think there is no such thing as knowable truth, the bad guys have won.
As we crossed the 300-day mark of Donald Trump’s presidency on Thursday, fact-checkers noted that he has made more than 1,600 false or misleading claims. Good God. At least five times a day, on average, this president says something that isn’t true.
We have a White House of lies because a huge percentage of the population can’t tell fact from fiction. But a huge percentage is also clueless about the basic laws of the land. In a democracy, we the people are supposed to understand our role in this power-sharing thing.
Nearly one in three Americans cannot name a single branch of government. When NPR tweeted out sections of the Declaration of Independence last year, many people were outraged. They mistook Thomas Jefferson’s fighting words for anti-Trump propaganda.
Fake news is a real thing produced by active disseminators of falsehoods. Trump uses the term to describe anything he doesn’t like, a habit now picked up by political liars everywhere.
But Trump is a symptom; the breakdown in this democracy goes beyond the liar in chief. For that you have to blame all of us: we have allowed the educational system to become negligent in teaching the owner’s manual of citizenship.
It seems illiteracy in all things democratic and Constitutional has broken our Republic and led to Trumpism. We’re six months into the Mueller investigation and a little over ten months into Kremlin Caligula’s rule of kleptocracy. How are those within the White House dealing with the pressure. WAPO has an interesting read on this in a piece titled ” ‘A long winter’: White House aides divided over scope, risks of Russia probe.”
Some in the West Wing avoid the mere mention of Russia or the investigation whenever possible. Others take solace in the reassurances of White House lawyer Ty Cobb that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will be wrapping up the probe soon and the president and those close to him will be exonerated. And a few engage in grim gallows humor, privately joking about wiretaps.
The investigation reached a critical turning point in recent weeks, with a formal subpoena to the campaign, an expanding list of potential witnesses and the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. Some within Trump’s circle, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, have already been interviewed by Mueller’s investigators, while others such as Hope Hicks — the White House communications director and trusted confidant of the president — and White House counsel Donald McGahn are expected in coming weeks.
One Republican operative in frequent contact with the White House described Mueller’s team “working through the staff like Pac-Man.”
“Of course they are worried,” said the Republican, who insisted on anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “Anybody that ever had the words ‘Russia’ come out of their lips or in an email, they’re going to get talked to. These things are thorough and deep. It’s going to be a long winter.”
Upcoming witness Hope Hicks may have the keys to many of the big answers. The larges of these is the obstruction charge because that would go to the heart of removing this usurper child from the Oval Office.
A report from Politico this week, which found that the special counsel Robert Mueller is gearing up to interview the White House communications director, Hope Hicks, indicates that one of the many threads of the Russia investigation is probably moving into its final stages.
Hicks has long been one of President Donald Trump’s most trusted advisers, and she was present during some events that are key to the special counsel’s investigation.
Mueller’s investigation includes multiple components. In addition to looking into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favor, the special counsel is also investigating Trump on suspicion of obstruction of justicerelated to his decision to fire James Comey as FBI director.
As part of that investigation, ABC News reported on Sunday, Mueller has asked the Department of Justice for all emails connected to Comey’s firing.
Mueller has also requested documents related to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation. Sessions announced his recusal in March after it emerged that he had failed to disclose contacts with Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the US, in his Senate confirmation hearing in January.
Despite his recusal, Sessions played a prominent role in Comey’s firing, as did Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Hicks was also a key presence during several critical moments leading up to Comey’s dismissal.
Comey was spearheading the FBI’s Russia investigation when he was terminated as FBI director in May. At first, the White House said he was fired because of his handling of the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct government business as secretary of state. But Trump later told NBC’s Lester Holt that “this Russia thing” had been a factor in his decision
The most compelling Trump Russia read of the day is this from The Daily Beast. “Roman Beniaminov, a Low-Profile Real Estate Exec Turned Pop Star Manager, Knew About Russia’s ‘Dirt’ on Hillary.”
Days before the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, a low-profile real estate figure with ties to powerful Russians alerted a meeting participant that the topic of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton could come up, The Daily Beast has learned.
That figure, Roman Beniaminov, didn’t attend the meeting himself. But he had close ties to several figures in and around it, including Emin Agalarov, the Azeri-Russian pop star who helped set up that Trump Tower confab and whose father is an ally of Vladimir Putin.
Ike Kaveladze was one of the participants in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Kremlin-connected attorney Natalia Vesilnitskaya. Kaveladze told Congressional investigators that when he was first invited to participate, he was under the impression that he would just be there as a translator and that the meeting would involve discussion of Magnitsky Act sanctions.
Scott Balber, Kaveladze’s attorney, told The Daily Beast that before Kaveladze headed from Los Angeles to New York for the meeting, he saw an email noting that Kushner, Manafort, and Trump Jr. would all be involved. He thought it would be odd for them to attend the meeting, so he called Beniaminov before heading to New York. Both Beniaminov and Kaveladze have worked with the Agalarov’s real estate development company, the Crocus Group.
Balber said that Beniaminov told Kaveladze that he heard Rob Goldstone— Emin Agalarov’s music manager— discuss “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. It’s never become completely clear what kind of “dirt” the Russians were talking about.
According to Balber, Beniaminov was the only person to give Kaveladze any information about the meeting’s purpose.
“That was the only data point Ike had, which was inconsistent with everything else he had heard, which was that the meeting was about the Magnitsky Act,” Balber said.
I still take Trumpzilla’s word for it but I guess they may need more than that given his history of lying and braggadocio. Trump still could fire Mueller but it doesn’t look imminent. This is mostly because they all think it will be over shortly. Like, it will be done after this weekend or at least a by Christmas.
A source close to the administration tells the Post that Mueller is running “a classic Gambino-style roll-up” that “will reach everyone in this administration.” When you read histories of the more successful presidential administrations in American history, a phrase you don’t usually come across is “Gambino-style roll-up.”
However, in the face of this mounting evidence and the warnings of some allies, Trump has remained — by Trump’s standards — fairly calm. Obviously, by the standards of a normal president, he is acting like a complete lunatic. But given Trump’s patterns of spewing indiscriminate rage and abuse and lashing out at his enemies in wildly counterproductive fashion, he has conducted himself with notable restraint. Despite his barely concealed impulses, Trump has refrained from mass pardons or attempting to fire Mueller.
The apparent reason for his serenity is that his lawyer, Ty Cobb, has placated Trump with promises that Mueller’s probe would be over soon. “The president himself, however, has warmed to Cobb’s optimistic message on Mueller’s probe. Cobb had initially said he hoped the focus on the White House would conclude by Thanksgiving,” the Post reports.
Thanksgiving. It will all be over by Thanksgiving.
By this point, three days before Thanksgiving, it should be relatively clear Mueller’s work is not going to be completed before the turkey is served. The Post notes that Cobb “adjusted the timeline slightly in an interview last week, saying he remains optimistic that it will wrap up by the end of the year, if not shortly thereafter.”
If you want an excellent read letting you know just how low Trump can go try this one byIt’s an exciting little thriller about “Trump’s ‘Great Relationship’ With A Homicidal Drug Warrior.”
When Maximo Garcia heard that he was on a list of local drug suspects in Mayombo, he tried to clear his name with the police chief, explaining that he no longer used drugs and had never sold them. Four days later, the Philippine news site Rappler reports, a masked gunman shot up Garcia’s house as he and his family were eating lunch, wounding him and killing his 5-year-old granddaughter.
So it goes in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, which has claimed somewhere between 7,000 and 13,000 lives since he took office in June 2016. Although Duterte’s bloody crusade has drawn international criticism, Donald Trump evidently did not think the subject was worth broaching during his meeting with Duterte in Manila on Monday.
Trump, who, this week, bragged about his “great relationship” with Duterte, had previously praised his Philippine counterpart’s “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Trump meant that as a compliment, but the viciousness of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign does beggar belief.
“If you know any addicts,” Duterte told a crowd of supporters after taking office, “go ahead and kill them yourself, as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.” A few months later, he likened himself to Hitler, saying “there’s 3 million drug addicts” in the Philippines, and “I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
Well, I’m working right now and I’m still Miles go for everything nurse. You can see I love him like a kid since every one these photos are of him. He’s also a cat of many talents.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today? Have a great week!!!
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.
Boston Boomer is under the weather today, so I’m bringing you the round up for the day.
First up I have to start this thread with a little tongue in cheek;
Okay, now let’s get serious.
Why do I get the feeling the passengers that were “randomly” chosen for United to “reaccommodate” perhaps had a little more than a random pick behind it?
People are rallying around the passenger who was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight on Sunday, in response to what many see as attempts to vilify a victim.
On Tuesday, the Louisville Courier-Journal published an article reporting that the passenger, David Dao, “has a troubled history in Kentucky.” The article cites past drug-related felonies in the early 2000s, noting that the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure allowed Dao to resume practicing medicine in 2015.
Soon after the article published, many people took to social media to criticize the Courier-Journal for seemingly attempting to justify an incident in which Dao was dragged from United Express Flight 3411 by law enforcement officers. Dao suffered injuries to his face, and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
None of this man’s past has anything to do with the atrocious treatment he received…but I would not put it past the company to have orchestrated the chosen 4 for just this possible situation. I bet that is part of the protocol. Pick people that can be exploited negatively in the press if you need to…
More tweets of anger at CJ and support of David Dao at that link.
Onward to the shooting and murder of two people at a California primary school.
I mentioned in a comment last week that my dad is part of this survival group, and that there was a rumor going on about the strike force heading to the Korean Peninsula…well, last night he told me the new rumor is that China is dealing with a huge number of refugees from North Korea flooding into the country because of the fear that tRump is going to blow Kim Jong Un off the planet.
I don’t know, the shit is hitting the fan.
I had to do it…
But here are some news links about all that shit.
As for the Syria and Putin and Assad shit. (The word shit has become my go to expression for everything lately, you can take a look at some of these updates.
It is all so disturbing.
Thursday evening, Trump attacked Syria, a sovereign country, with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. This act of war was done without Congressional authorization, even after Trump’s August, 2013, tweet that “Obama needs Congressional approval” before attacking Syria in nearly-identical circumstances.
The following morning, headlines like this one appeared in the business press: Raytheon, maker of Tomahawk missiles, leads premarket rally in defense stocks:
Defense and energy stocks dominated the list of premarket gainers on the S&P 500 Friday, led by Tomahawk missile-maker Raytheon Corp., after U.S. missile strikes against a Syrian air base overnight.
Donald Trump apparently owns Raytheon stock. In May, 2016, Trump reported to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) that he owned Raytheon stock. Interestingly, this FEC report does not appear to include the extensive web of offshore anonymous shell corporations Trump uses to mask assets.
Since that filing Trump’s assets have not been sold with the proceeds placed into a “blind trust,” and there is no public record of his having otherwise sold the stock. Not only that, but Trump is able to draw cash from his “trust” at any time. He could literally have pocketed cash from his gains from attacking Syria.
Read the rest at the link.
But tRump is not only profiting on the attack in Syria. He is making money on his time off, away from, the White House:
Again, I can’t believe that nothing has been done to move forward with impeachment.
The Sessions’ Justice Department had tried to stop the ruling.
Margaret Atwood—author of The Handmaid’s Tale and dozens of other novels, short-story collections, children’s books, works of poetry and criticism, and the new comic-book series Angel Catbird—is the subject of a lengthy and insightful profile in The New Yorker. She speaks briefly on Donald Trump’s presidency, telling New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead, “If the election of Donald Trump were fiction… it would be too implausible to satisfy readers.” It’s an insightful viewpoint from the writer of speculative fiction (her preferred term over “science fiction”), who’s penned arguably the most influential speculation through the lens of patriarchy. Atwood goes on to say:
Fiction has to be something that people would actually believe. If you had published it last June, everybody would have said, “That is never going to happen.”
This study looks like an interesting read….
Why did the Arab spring fail? Despite a number of revolutions in the Arab world, in the end only Tunisia emerged as a functioning democracy. Results from an interdisciplinary research project at the University of Gothenburg indicate that the problem might be traced partially to the lack of women’s civil rights in the region.
A new study published in the European Journal of Political Research discusses the importance of women’s rights for countries to become democratic. The researchers used a dataset developed by V-Dem, a research institution cohosted by the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and the University of Notre Dame (USA). The dataset includes the state of democracy in 177 countries over the years 1900 to 2012.
The study demonstrates that countries do not become fully democratic without political and social rights for women. This is particularly true for the Arab Spring countries, where the failure to foster women’s rights compromised any attempt at democratic governance in the area.
According to Professor Staffan Lindberg, director of the V-Dem Institute, the result is important because it shows that democratic development is not gender blind: societies transitioning from authoritarian regimes strongly need women in order to develop functioning democratic governments.
This next link is for Dak, another grave for you.
The desert bloom from space….is something to see.
And I will end it on that note.
This is an open thread. I hope BB starts to feel better, and that y’all have a good afternoon.
The saga of the Glasnost Menagerie continues.
And so we begin another Week of America Held Hostage with more news about the connections between the the current Presidential Usurper and his handlers in Moscow.
There are a few places where this story is being completely investigated. For one, I don’t think Congresswoman Maxine Waters is going to let go of anything despite all the Republican Sandbagging. TBogg–writing for Raw Story–summarizes Waters’ Sunday appearance on MSNBC.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) leveled serious charges against the Trump White House on Sunday, saying U.S. policies toward Russia are being driven by what she called the “Kremlin clan” more interested in oil and personal business than U.S. needs.
Appearing on MSNBC with host Alex Witt, the California congresswoman said Trump’s recent attacks on the media are a way to delegitimize their reporting on his Russian connections.
Waters’ claims came just before the New York Times released a bombshell report stating that Trump insiders and associates were working on a plan to blackmail Ukraine President Petro O. Poroshenko in an effort to make the Obama-era sanctions disappear.
“Donald Trump is so outrageous that he thinks he can get away with saying anything,” Waters explained. “And he’s trying to get his supporters to believe that the media is lying on him because the facts are going to come out about him, his involvement with Russia, his involvement with Russia during the campaign and the connection between those around him and Putin and the Kremlin. And he’s trying to get his supporters to believe that when they hear this, it’s going to be a big lie because the media cannot be trusted, that somehow they are against the people.”
According to Waters, Trump is worried his supporters will start to put two and two together as more Russia revelations come out, including those involving the people he has surrounded himself with.
“They see that Flynn, who he had to fire, was talking with Russia about sanctions with the Russian ambassador,” she explained. “I believe that [Secretary of State] Tillerson, who was the CEO of Exxon, has as his highest priority getting rid of the sanctions. Don’t forget, he is the one who negotiated the deal with Russia to drill in the Arctic and that was stopped because Obama placed sanctions on them and they couldn’t proceed with that. And so Tillerson, who has this great relationship with Putin, is going to do everything that he can to lift those sanctions and that’s going to be their Achilles heel.”
Waters then said that Tillerson is just one part of what she calls the “Kremlin clan,” and that it begins at the top with Trump.
“Why does he like Putin so much?” Waters asked. “Why does he defend them? And I think it’s all connected to what I call the Kremlin Klan. All of these people around him that are connected to oil and gas in the Kremlin and Ukraine. It’s all about them. Just think about it. Manafort, his campaign manager, and who had to leave because it was determined that he had connections to the Kremlin and to the Ukraine and whether you’re talking about him or Roger Stone or some of the others, they are all about oil and gas and they thought that if they elected Trump, that somehow they were going to have someone friendly to them that would help lift these sanctions and this Kremlin clan are all going to benefit from it.”
Kremlin Caligula has a lot of explaining to do but was probably too wrapped up by his angry tirades and Swedish conspiracy theories to think he may be subject to any inquiry. Matthew Yglesias at Vox has 33 questions that somebody needs to answer.
What we have instead are a lot of small, unanswered questions. Questions about Flynn’s behavior and the circumstances of his firing. Questions about the behavior of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and the circumstances of his firing. Questions about enigmatic remarks made by longtime Trump associate and veteran political operative Roger Stone. Questions about an obscure American businessman named Carter Page who maybe — or maybe not — worked for some time with the Trump campaign.
But there are also longstanding questions about the opaque financing of the Trump Organization, and about why its founder and owner has been so reluctant to engage in normal levels of financial disclosure. And most of all, there are questions about Trump’s highly unorthodox attitudes toward Russia, its government, and its leader, Vladimir Putin.
Go check them out. It’s a long and intriguing set of entanglements and loose ends. Joseph Cannon has a great set of links and reads on the topic too.
If Josh Marshall has read the tea leaves correctly, Sater may soon become a household name. Sater, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and the Putin government have been hammering out a Ukraine peace plan, which Sater gave to General Flynn just before his resignation. Why is this shocking? Because — as indicated above — Sater is a shady, sleazy character, and Trump has been trying to pretend that he has no real links to the guy.
What’s really triggered the new intrigue was a Time magazine article that dropped the name Felix Sater. The article cited by Cannon on TPM. Josh Marshall has a good deal of questions on a guy who may become a household world for sleazeball. There’s no doubt in my mind that T-Rump sees himself as some kind of global oligarch in the Russian model. Putin is thought to be the wealthiest man on earth. Is Kremlin Caligula looking to set up self up similarly by pilfering US assets?
After the lawyers got involved, Trump said he barely knew who Sater was. But there is voluminous evidence that Sater, a Russian emigrant, was key to channeling Russian capital to Trump for years. Sater is also a multiple felon and at least a one-time FBI informant. Bayrock Capital, where he worked was located in Trump Tower and he himself worked as a special advisor to Trump. Again, read the Times article to get a flavor of his ties to Trump, the Trump SoHo project and Russia. For my money there’s no better place to start to understand the Trump/Russia issue.
On its own, Trump’s relationship with Sater might be written off (albeit not terribly plausibly) as simply a sleazy relationship Trump entered into to get access to capital he needed to finance his projects. Whatever shadowy ties Sater might have and whatever his criminal background, Trump has long since washed his hands of him. (Again, we’re talking about most generous reads here.)
But now we learn that Sater is still very much in the Trump orbit and acting as a go-between linking Trump and a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian pitching ‘peace plans’ for settling the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. (Artemenko is part of the political faction which Manafort helped build up in the aftermath of the ouster of his Ukrainian benefactor, deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.) Indeed, far, far more important, Cohen – who is very close to Trump and known for dealing with delicate matters – is in contact with Sater and hand delivering political and policy plans from him to the President.
Here’s something astounding from WAPO. This certainly makes Watergate look like a Piker’s Ball. You have to wonder what kind of stuff the Kremlin hackers got from the RNC and exactly who’s little gonads are swinging in the wind if it’s released.
President Trump’s personal lawyer and a former business associate met privately in New York City last month with a member of the Ukrainian parliament to discuss a peace plan for that country that could give Russia long-term control over territory it seized in 2014 and lead to the lifting of sanctions against Moscow.
The meeting with Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian politician, involved Michael Cohen, a Trump Organization lawyer since 2007, and Felix Sater, a former business partner who worked on real estate projects with Trump’s company.
The occurrence of the meeting, first reported Sunday by the New York Times, suggests that some in the region aligned with Russia have been seeking to use Trump business associates as an informal conduit to a new president who has signaled a desire to forge warmer relations with Russia. The discussion took place amid increasingly intense scrutiny of the ties between Trump’s team and Russia, as well as escalating investigations on Capitol Hill of the determination by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Kremlin intervened in last year’s election to help Trump.
The Times reported that Cohen said he left the proposal in a sealed envelope in the office of then-national security adviser Michael T. Flynn while visiting Trump in the White House. The meeting took place days before Flynn’s resignation last week following a report in The Washington Post that he had misled Vice President Pence about his discussions in December of election-related sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Cohen, speaking with The Post on Sunday, acknowledged that the meeting took place and that he had left with the peace proposal in hand.
But Cohen said he did not take the envelope to the White House and did not discuss it with anyone. He called suggestions to the contrary “fake news.”
“I acknowledge that the brief meeting took place, but emphatically deny discussing this topic or delivering any documents to the White House and/or General Flynn,” Cohen said. He said he told the Ukrainian official that he could send the proposal to Flynn by writing him at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
New York Magazine points this interesting thing out amid all the spooks and spies. Least we forget the Golden Showers moments and the former spy who has definitely gone into hiding.
A controversial and unverified dossier assembled by a former British intelligence agent alleged that Cohen had discussed Russia’s hacking of Democratic Party computer systems with a Russian official in Prague during Trump’s campaign, but Cohen and the Russian official have both denied that allegation. Sater had apparently been working on a plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow that was halted on account of Trump’s presidential campaign. Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, for what it’s worth, thinks Sater’s inclusion in the report is a very big deal, since Sater was at the center of the Trump Soho development project in Manhattan, which Marshall notes was the Trump project with the most Russia-linked shadiness.
I don’t know about you but all of this has me extremely nervous. As David Corn of MoJo puts it:
Every time we turn around, there’s something new linking Trump to Russia. Just a few days ago, FBI Director James Comey briefed the Senate Intelligence committee about the ongoing investigation of Team Trump and its ties to Russia, and all the chatter afterward was about how the senators seemed kind of shaken by what they heard.
Who knows? Maybe it all turns out to be nothing. But there sure is a lot of smoke out there. It’s hard to believe there isn’t a fire too.
Economic Gain? Blackmail? Affinity for fellow thugs? Who knows what the motivations are for all of this. All I know is that our country is on the losing end of all this and I would hate to for us sell our allies out for rubles.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
It’s hard to know where to get started on the utterly boorish behavior of our of so-called President over the weekend. It’s only topped by his utter cluelessness when it comes to the decorum of the world stage. Our country makes Banana Republics look perfectly democratic and functional at the moment.
All I can say, is get ready, there’s bound to be some war or major attack coming down the pipe. What’s worse is that our allies and our own national intelligence assets are unlikely to share that information with our So-Called President because the assumption is that the current White House shares everything with the Kremlin. The breaches of security protocol are just unbelievable.
Today’s photos are of Saturday Night’s Krewe de Vieux Parade coming out of my neighborhood and heading into the French Quarter and downtown. It’s a political satire parade and you can see where it went this year. You can enjoy the fun while I write about extremely scary things.
BB sent me this extremely important article written by John R Schindler for The Observer. Among the horrifying conclusions is this: “Intelligence Community pushes back against a White House it considers leaky, untruthful and penetrated by the Kremlin.”
In light of this, and out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. Why risk your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets.
Since NSA provides something like 80 percent of the actionable intelligence in our government, what’s being kept from the White House may be very significant indeed. However, such concerns are widely shared across the IC, and NSA doesn’t appear to be the only agency withholding intelligence from the administration out of security fears.
What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.
So, it’s hard to know where to start other than our foreign policy has turned into a complete dumpsterfire. Instead of the usual State Dinner at the White House with celebrities, cultural and intellectual folks, political leaders, artists and musicians, and just basically the cream of the US crop, Japanese Prime Minister Abe got treated to a tacky weekend in Florida. The Taxpayers undoubtedly footed the bill and wrote a huge check to that tacky “resort” owned by the Uber Tacky So-called President. I’m pretty sure the Prime Minister wasn’t expecting he’d become a wedding crasher but I’m also pretty sure that every one knows that anything classy, dignified, and in keeping with decorum is off the table these days.
Then there was a phone call about North Korea taken on his cell phone in the middle of the public dining room.
What was happening — as first reported by CNN — was an extraordinary moment, as Trump and Abe turned their dinner table into an open-air situation room. Aides and translators surrounded the two leaders as other diners chatted and gawked around them, with staffers using the flashlights on their cellphones to illuminate documents on the darkened outdoor terrace.
The scene of their discussion, Trump’s club, has been called “The Winter White House” by the president’s aides. But it is very different than the actual White House, where security is tight and people coming in are heavily screened. Trump’s club, by contrast, has hundreds of paying members who come and go, and it can be rented out for huge galas and other events open to non-members. On the night of the North Korea launch, for instance, there was a wedding reception underway: CNN reported that Trump dropped by, with Abe in tow.
As a Mar-a-Lago member, DeAgazio already had remarkable access to a president that day. He had earlier snapped pictures of Trump and Abe golfing and of the president and White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon schmoozing guests.
Now, as a national-security crisis broke out in front of him, DeAgazio continued snapping pictures — and posting them on Facebook.
“The President receiving the news about the Missile incident from North Korea on Japan with the Prime Minister sitting next to him,” DeAgazio wrote as the caption for a photo he posted on Facebook at 9:07 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday.
Later, he posted other photos of Trump and Abe’s discussion, including some that seemed to have been taken from just a few feet away. Those photos have now been seen around the world, providing photographic proof of this unusual moment.
This description came from Richard “DeAgazio — a retired investor who joined Mar-a-Lago three months ago … ” as described by David Farenholdt.
But DeAgazio, for one, said he was impressed that Trump had not gotten up from the table immediately, to seek a more private (and better-lit) place for his discussion with Abe.
“He chooses to be out on the terrace, with the members. It just shows that he’s a man of the people,” DeAgazio said.
Membership at the Mar-a-Lago Club now requires a $200,000 initiation fee — a fee that increased by $100,000 after Trump was elected.
DeAgazio also posted photos of himself with a man that he identified as the military member who carries the “football” that would allow Trump to launch a nuclear attack. In that Facebook post, DeAgazio described how “the football” functions, but said that the military member did not divulge that information to him.
“I looked it up” on Wikipedia, DeAgazio said. “He didn’t say anything to me.”
Yes. A real man of the people. That initiation fee is about what my entire house is worth.
Oh, and the wedding crashing part came after the let’s broadcast stuff about North Korea around Florida thing and an embarrassing presser.
On Saturday, as President Donald Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, news broke that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. CNN was the first to report last night that Trump was joined at the dinner table by his embattled national security adviser, Mike Flynn, and chief strategist Stephen Bannon. As Mar-a-Lago members dining separately looked on, they reviewed classified documents with Bannon and Flynn using their cell-phone lights so Trump could see what he was reading.
After that awkward exchange, Trump and Abe held a hastily assembled joint press conference where Trump made a statement that was shorter than his awkward handshake with Abe at the White House on Friday.
What did Trump do after that? Bunker down with his National Security Council? Spend the evening on the phone with his Defense Secretary James Mattis? No. CNN reported that Trump dropped by a wedding that happened to be taking place at Mar-a-Lago, took the mic, and spoke to the guests.
I’ve seen movie frat boys with a better sense of gravitas than our So-called President. So, first a guest gets a photo op with the nuclear football and then we get some twisted version of The Wedding Crashers. WTF? We’re going to owe Japan some big time apologies for insulting their PM. Phillip Bump points out the absolute hypocrisy on running intelligence security breaches by Clinton and then governing like the entire world can listen in to our highest secrets and he’s got no issue with it. Good Grief there must be Victory Dancing Putin over there in Moscow.
Earlier in the week, Trump had been criticized for leaving intelligence documents vulnerable to people without security clearance. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) noticed that the president kept the key in a secured bag while hosting people in the Oval Office, which is a bit like leaving your house keys in your front door while you’re having a party in your backyard. There’s no indication that anyone saw anything confidential in this incident, but this, Heinrich suggested, was “Classified 101.”
Compared to holding a national security conversation over dinner in the public dining room at his private club, though, the lockbag incident pales.
It’s not clear that anyone heard particulars of the conversation, but other diners certainly noticed. Richard DeAgazio was in the room and posted photos of the moment to Facebook.
Shock and awe aside, there’s this:
Why is this important? Mobile phones have flashlights, yes — and cameras, microphones and Internet connectivity. When Edward Snowden was meeting with reporters in Hong Kong at the moment he was leaking the material he’d stolen from the NSA, he famously asked that they place their phones in the refrigerator — blocking any radio signals in the event that the visitors’ phones had been hacked. This was considered the most secure way of ensuring that the phones couldn’t be used as wiretaps, even more secure than removing the battery. Phones — especially phones with their flashes turned on for improved visibility — are portable television satellite trucks and, if compromised, can be used to get a great deal of information about what’s happening nearby, unless precautions are taken.
It’s just hard to know what to say about all!
President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had a pretty wretched week. The Post’s reporting revealed that Flynn, contrary to his and the White House’s earlier assertions, had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Moscow’s ambassador in Washington prior to Trump’s inauguration. Flynn, according to intelligence sources, likely signaled that the question of sanctions would be revisited by a more friendly Trump administration.
So, I’m just left smh and rather speechless.
How do you explain this kind’ve behavior? I mean, if I had a relative that did this sort’ve thing I would surely get them committed! I wouldn’t freaking elect them President.
The fun news today is that the White House cannot find a comedian to do Nerd Prom and the entire things seems to be falling apart. It’s the press’ big party and damn ya’ll cry if you want to!!
In recent years, the dinner has become a star-studded event attracting A-list celebrities ranging from George Clooney to Helen Mirren to Lindsay Lohan, with politics mainly an afterthought.
This year, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair have canceled parties they traditionally host as part of the hoopla surrounding the dinner.
Also, many stars are avoiding the event this year and no “headliner” comedian has committed so far, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
– ‘Stick a fork in it’ –
Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan said the glitzy party and related events around it no longer seem appropriate.
“Once merely embarrassing and ridiculous, the annual White House correspondents’ dinner is poised to tip over into journalistic self-abasement,” she wrote. “It’s time to stick a silver-plated fork in it.”
Slate correspondent Jacob Weisberg echoed those sentiments, saying in a tweet: “Please cancel the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Unseemly spectacle, totally at odds with the press holding administration accountable.”
Well, Sky Dancers, have at it! I’m not sure I’m up to describing the many ways that all this is so very very very wrong.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Well, the GOP have been grabbing our pussies for a while now, legislatively….
It only follows that the letters actually stand for Grab Our Pussies!
I’ve got some images for you, before we get to the links…you have probably seen these already but they are too good to keep off the front page.
I loved that comment from Edward…I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it with y’all.
As for Trump himself…he made a few comments this morning:
All I can say is that tonight’s debate is going to be frightening. Let’s be sure to watch it together.
My post is not as eloquent as Boston Boomer’s was yesterday. I don’t have the patience to write anything today because the whole thing has me so disgusted and pissed off.
Let’s just say I am glad that the bomb has dropped but why the fuck has it taken so long for this to happen?
Some links to check out:
This one for instance:
Two prominent Republican lawmakers on Sunday called for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to drop out of the presidential race.
“I have serious doubts now about Mr. Trump’s ability to beat Hilary Clinton. In fact, I don’t think he can,” Utah Sen. Mike Lee said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I’m agnostic right now about who it needs to be,” Lee said when host Chuck Todd asked if vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence should the nominee.
Lee alluded to the many sitting lawmakers in his party who have pulled their support for Trump.
“I think people have to consider the totality of the evidence,” he said. “There were a lot of others who wanted to be persuaded, who hoped they would be persuaded.”
All those making the case for Trump to pull out? I think this tweet by Krugman says a lot about that:
From the AP via Daily Mail: Rumors Mike Pence is under GOP pressure to quit as Trump’s running mate | Daily Mail Online
On this morning’s news shows:
Getting ready for the debate tonight:
On the No Shit Sherlock list:
More links to look over:
If that Groping women is not a joke video embed did not work, look at the video here.
Other tweets of note:
And the latest on Hurricane Matthew: Hurricane Matthew Toll Climbs to at Least 15 as North Carolina Suffers Record-Breaking Flooding – The New York Times
This is an open thread. See you tonight.