Sunday Reads: Fifty Ways to Lead to Fascism 

Of course you all remember this song…50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.

 

The problem is all inside your head, she said to me

The answer is easy if you take it logically

I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free

There must be fifty ways to leave your lover

She said it’s really not my habit to intrude

For the more I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued

So I repeat myself, at the risk of being cruel

There must be fifty ways to leave your lover, fifty ways to leave your lover

Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan

Don’t need to be coy, Roy, just listen to me

Hop on the bus, Gus, don’t need to discuss much

Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free

Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan

Don’t need to be coy, Roy, just listen to me

Hop on the bus, Gus, don’t need to discuss much

Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free

She said it grieves me so to see you in such pain

I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again

I said, I appreciate that, then would you please explain about the fifty ways

She said, why don’t we both just sleep on it tonight

And I believe, in the morning you’ll begin to see the light

And then she kissed me and I realized she probably was right

There must be fifty ways to leave your lover, fifty ways to leave your lover

Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan

Don’t need to be coy, Roy, just listen to me

Hop on the bus, Gus, don’t need to discuss much

Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free

So with that, I give you my interpretation…various linkage to several examples will be included of course…I will go ahead and place all these links in dump form at the end of the post.


Now, I present to you:

Fifty Ways tRump is like Hitler

 

The trouble ain’t all inside your head, Dak said to me

A fascist state is no longer something to be taken hypothetically

It truly isn’t that very difficult to see

There must be, fifty ways tRump is like Hitler.

She said, that Kremlin shit asshole is so fucking rude

and what’s more, his words and actions are so abusively crude

This has become more of an authoritarian rule

There must be, fifty ways tRump is like Hitler. Fifty ways tRump is like Hitler.

Take a golden shower, Howard. Make a pee stain, Jane.

Don’t need to be truthin’ on Putin, if you listen to Joey.

Beat up the press Jess, don’t need tRump’s permission, to crush them Tim

Go back to Oman, Juan, and become a deportee

Take a golden shower, Howard. Make a pee stain, Jane.

Don’t need to be truthin’ on Putin, if you listen to Joey.

Beat up the press Jess, don’t need tRump’s permission, to crush them Tim

Go back to Oman, Juan, and become a deportee

BB said, it grieves me so to see you in such pain

But if it makes you feel any better, I don’t know when I will smile again.

She made me feel at ease, but I could not forget about those damn fifty ways.

If you don’t believe me, then just listen to the Republicans on the Right.

And I guarantee you will be frightened and begin to see the light.

There is a reason why we all must stand up and fight

There must be, fifty ways tRump is like Hitler. Fifty ways tRump is like Hitler.

Take a golden shower, Howard. Make a pee stain, Jane.

Don’t need to be truthin’ on Putin, if you listen to Joey.

Beat up the press Jess, don’t need tRump’s permission, to crush them…no

Go back to Oman, Juan, and become a deportee

 

 

The following links…from above.

tRumpy and Alf both love golden showers? Yeah.

What you need to know about the Donald Trump “golden showers” intelligence report claimed by the Russians — Quartz

The Unsolved Murder of Hitler’s Half-Niece and His Romantic Obsession | Vanity Fair

Regarding the “rumors” that Hitler loved his “golden showers” too…

the accounts of Heiden and Hanfstaengl provide a corroborative context for the third and most explicit text cited by the Party of Perversion, the shocking story of Geli’s confession which Otto Strasser told the O.S.S.

Strasser recalls a tearful Geli telling him that when night came, “Hitler made her undress [while] he would lie down on the floor. Then she would have to squat down over his face where he could examine her at close range, and this made him very excited. When the excitement reached its peak, he demanded that she urinate on him and that gave him his sexual pleasure. . . . Geli said that the whole performance was extremely disgusting to her and that although it was sexually stimulating it gave her no gratification.”


tRump and the Truth…with Hitler’s go to man on the subject…Little Joe.

How the Trump White House Has Tried to Interfere With the Russia Investigations | Mother Jones

The pattern is increasingly clear: As investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to and possible collusion with Russia have intensified, so too have efforts by the president and his staff to quash those probes or put pressure on US officials to publicly deny the validity of the swirling allegations.

For his part, President Donald Trump has long insisted there is nothing to the investigations: “The entire thing has been a witch hunt,” he said during a recent press conference at the White House. “There’s no collusion between, certainly, myself and my campaign—but I can only speak for myself—and the Russians. Zero.”

Exclusive: Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians: sources | Reuters

 

Joseph Goebbels quote: A lie told once remains a lie but a lie…

A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth

Joseph Goebbels

tRump and Hitler and the Press:

Republican Greg Gianforte ‘body slams’ Guardian reporter in Montana – audio | US news | The Guardian

This link below is from an article in the Chicago Tribune dated April 26, 1935 – HITLER CRUSHES LAST SPARK OF PRESS FREEDOM | Chicago Tribune Archive

I went ahead and copied the entire piece since the link may not work for some of you.

 

New Edict Makes Papers

Slaves of Nazis.

BY SIGRID SCHULTZ.

[Chieazo Tribin-c Service.]

BERLIN, April 25.-The last vestiges of independence of the German press were abolished today by a decree signed by Max Amnann, president of the Nazi press guild and king of all German publishers. Amann acquired fame, fortune and supreme power by publishing Adolf Hitler’s first works and the s book, “My Struggle,” bible of the National Social- ist party.

Two full newspaper pages were need- ed to print the decree and the explan. atory notes which reach a climax with the assertion that the German press is truly free “because it serves the state.” The old struggle for freedom of the press, according to Amann, was only a struggle of professional, eco- nomic or religious bodies expressing their viewpoints instead of blindly obeying the state.

Eager to Smash Papers.

The decree shows that the Nazi press chieftains are anxious to smash news- paper concerns and chains of papers except their own and those of the . Amann demands to know the identity of all owners and part owners of publishing houses and the persons behind them. He announced he will assume control of all records to make sure that nothing escapes him. The purpose of this is to exclude the Jews who stilt possess financial interest in newspapers.

All persons unable to prove their own or their wives’ Aryan ancestry as far back as the year 1800 are excluded from the newspaper profession. The appointment of publishers, editors, and their representatives is subject to Amann’s control. No newspaper hence- forth may serve Interests other than those of the Nazi state.

Onlv those Publications which reflect

tne general ana o0 the Nazis are allowed. Newspapers and magazines of religious, cultural or eco- nomic groups are barred in principle. Any exception to the rule is left up to Amann.

M\ Self Dictator.

To make sure that none but papers subservient to the Nazis can survive, Amann topped off his law with an extra decree empowering him to elim- “unhealthy” competition between newspapers by shutting them at his own will. The Nazi press is to be given preference in case of doubt.

The ruling will mean the end of semi-independent concerns, such as the Hugenberg publishing house (Lokalan- zeiger, Der Tag, Telegrafen Union], which for years was the most power- ful In Germany. Dr. Alfred Hugen- berg, ardent monarchist, tried to save himself by with Hitler as minister of economics and agriculture when Hitler became chancellor. Ile withdrew to satisfy Hitler’s demand for a ” totalitarian ” state. His news. papers attempted to survive by obey- ing all the Nazi wishes.

Amann, who drafted and Issued to- day s decree, Is regarded as one of the richest men In Germany. He coined

millions from the sale of Hitler’s books and from all Nazi publications which, according to his own statements, are to be given preference In all conflicts with other newspapers.

 

Lest we forget this:

Trump is only G7 leader not to hold press conference after summit | TheHill

Tillerson holds a press conference without U.S. media – POLITICO

Trump suggests WH ‘not have press conferences’ unless he does them himself | TheHill

At FDA, TVs now turned to Fox News and can’t be switched – CBS News

(Now some report this is no longer the case. Cough…cough.)


On to the immigration links:

Trump’s Travel Ban “Drips with Intolerance” on Its Way to the Supreme Court – The New Yorker

Immigration Arrests Rise Sharply as a Trump Mandate Is Carried Out – The New York Times

Man questioned by Metro Transit police to be deported | KARE11.com

Adolf Hitler also published a list of crimes committed by groups he didn’t like – The Washington Post

Trump highlights victims of crimes by immigrants, new office in joint address – CNNPolitics.com


Pogroms in Hitler’s Germany:

…street violence against Jews was tolerated and even encouraged at certain periods when Nazi leaders calculated that the violence would “prepare” the German population for harsh antisemitic legal and administrative measures implemented ostensibly “to restore order.” For example, the orchestrated nationwide campaign of street violence known as Kristallnacht of November 9-10, 1938, was the culmination of a longer period of more sporadic street violence against Jews. This street violence had begun with riots in Vienna after the Anschluss of Austria in March. Kristallnacht was followed by a dramatic surge in anti-Jewish legislation during the autumn and winter of 1938-1939. Another period of street violence had covered the first two months of the Nazi regime and culminated in a law dismissing Jews and Communists from the civil service on April 7, 1933. The summer before the announcement of the Nuremberg Race Laws in September 1935 saw frequent violence against Jews in various German cities. Such street violence involved burning down synagogues, destroying Jewish-owned homes and businesses, and physical assaults on individuals. Kristallnacht was by far the largest, most destructive, and most clearly orchestrated of these “pogroms.”


2 ‘Heroes’ Stabbed To Death Standing Up To Muslim Hate In Portland | HuffPost

Two men are being hailed as heroes after they were killed while trying to stop a man from abusing two young women on a train in Portland, Oregon, because they appeared to be Muslim.

Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, of North Portland, allegedly attacked the men on a MAX train at the Hollywood Transit Station at 4:30 p.m. Friday. He was charged with offenses including two counts of aggravated murder over the incident, which occurred hours before the start of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

Witnesses said at least one of the women the suspect targeted was wearing a hijab, and it appeared the abuse was religiously and racially motivated. Christian is known to locals and authorities as an active white supremacist.

“He said, ‘Get off the bus, and get out of the country because you don’t pay taxes here,’” Evelin Hernandez, a passenger on the train, told KATU-TV.

In connection with this…as you read this next link…keep these two men in your thoughts.

Exclusive: Tillerson declines to host Ramadan event at State Department | Reuters

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined a request to host an event to mark Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, two U.S. officials said, apparently breaking with a bipartisan tradition in place with few exceptions for nearly 20 years.

It is things like this shit…that stand out. For me at least.


Anyway, this is an open thread.

Y’all have a safe Memorial Day Weekend.


 

 

 

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: A Spy Ring in the White House?

Good Morning!!

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 Washington Post: Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin.

The New York Times: Kushner Is Said to Have Discussed a Secret Channel to Talk to Russia.

Reuters: Exclusive: Trump son-in-law had undisclosed contacts with Russian envoy – sources.

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

Kees von Dongen, Woman with Cat 1908

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.

Carl Olof Larsson, The Bridge, 1912

NBC News: Trump Declines Endorsing Paris Climate Change Deal at G7 Summit, Will Make Decision Next Week.

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.

Pierre Auguste Renoir, Girl and Cat 1880-81

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.”

Fritz Zuber Buhler_A Reclining Beauty With Her Cat

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.

Tatyana Gorshunova, Woman in the Armchair

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.

Vox: The dueling scoops about Jared Kushner’s plan for secret communications with Russia, explained.

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.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

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 Guardian: Republican candidate charged with assault after ‘body-slamming’ Guardian reporter.

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.

Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs

“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.

Politico: Israel changes intelligence sharing with US after Trump’s revelations to Russia.

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.

Manchester police making arrests after bombing

The Guardian: UK police stop passing Manchester bombing information to US over leaks.

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.

Not Good.

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’s good buddy Rodrico Duterte

Reuters: Trump praises Duterte for anti-drug campaign in call transcript.

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:

The attack submarine USS San Francisco (SSN 711) is escorted by two harbour tugs in this file picture. – Wikimedia Commons

Buzzfeed: The Pentagon Can’t Believe Trump Told Another President About Nuclear Subs Near North Korea.

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.

NYT: Top Russian Officials Discussed How to Influence Trump Aides Last Summer.

WaPo: How a dubious Russian document influenced the FBI’s handling of the Clinton probe.

CNN: AG Sessions did not disclose Russia meetings in security clearance form, DOJ says.

More Trump Russia stories:

Politico: Manafort advised Trump team on Russia scandal.

Daily Beast: Reince Priebus Sweating Secret Comey Memos, White House Sources Say.

The Atlantic: The Known Unknowns of the Russia Investigation.

Politico: White House tries to avoid ‘paralysis’ amid investigation.

Other News:

NBC News: Trump Failing to Track Foreign Cash at His Hotels.

Axios: Trump’s “street fighters.”

NBC News: Ben Carson Says ‘Poverty Is a State of Mind.’

The Atlantic: Pope Francis, Trump Whisperer?

Bloomberg: Obama Feted in Berlin as He Praises Merkel Before Trump Summits.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below, and I hope you enjoy your day.


Wednesday Reads: tRumpy + Bibi BFF …Hump Day Cartoons 


Anyone with half of a brain can see it…well, maybe that is giving some dumbasses too much credit.

 

‘Pope looks like he’s being held against his will’: The internet goes nuts over Trump’s weird Vatican photos

 

Donald Trump and some of his family members met Pope Francis — and social media users couldn’t help but notice the Holy Father didn’t look too happy about it.

Trump appeared grinning in photos with the Pope, whose dour expression never changed, and both first lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump wore black veils.

See what I mean. That picture is everything.

Want a close-up?

Funny how just a few hours ago this was the image that seemed to define the trip so far:


tRump’s trip to places not America isn’t going well, not that I expected anything less. Honestly, this picture above is a perfect showcase of the orange idiot’s true mental capacity….as the image made its way across the social media scene. This was what tRump wrote as his parting thought when he signed Israeli Holocaust Memorial Guestbook. Imagine, the only thing tRump left out of this Happy Yearbook sign off was the tRumpy BFF Bibi inside a big heart.

Seriously…he put exclamation points! WTF!!!!

Here is a side by side of Obama’s message compared to tRump.

It isn’t like this is the only news out there:


Now on the cartoons because what else can you say about that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS: 05/24/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS

 

TRUMPNADO: 05/17/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - TRUMPNADO

 

I have to post this now…power is going out…bad storms.

This is an open thread.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump’s Presidency Is Unraveling

Ann Telnaes at the WaPo: “Trump’s presidency is coming undone….and he has only himself to blame.”

Good Morning!!

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…

Think Progress: The little known woman who predicted exactly what kind of president Donald Trump would be.

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.”

Marshall Ramsey / Creators Syndicate

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.”

Ann Telnaees at the WaPo

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.


Thursday Reads: News Breaks by the Hour These Days

At Breakfast, by Laurits Andersen Ring

Good Morning!!

Where to begin? A special counsel has been appointed. Trump tweets; exhausted White House staff has another mess to clean up. Roger Ailes is dead.  The current occupant of the White House can’t spell. Lawrence O’Donnell’s show may yet survive. And so much more.

The tweet below has been deleted and replaced now:

Special Counsel appointed by DOJ

Philip Shenon at Politico: Trump’s Worst Nightmare Comes True. President Trump fired James Comey. He got his old pal, Robert Mueller, instead—and years of trouble.

The most daunting assignment in Robert Mueller’s career in law-enforcement and public service might seem to have arrived on Wednesday night, with his appointment as the special prosecutor in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 president campaign, including possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

But it’s hard to imagine that this new job is any more intimidating than the one Mueller confronted on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when the newly arrived FBI director was forced to deal with the aftermath of terrorist attacks that left more than 3,000 people dead in New York and Washington and put the FBI’s very survival in doubt because of what would be shown to be its well-documented bungling before the attacks. On 9/11, Mueller had been on the job at the FBI for exactly one week.

The fact that the FBI survived in one piece after multiple government investigations of 9/11, and that Mueller went on to serve another dozen years at the bureau and left with his reputation for independence and honesty largely unscathed, suggests to his friends and admirers that the blue-blooded 72-year-old former Marine is the right man for his new job – and that President Trump and his campaign advisers have much to fear from his investigation.

Under terms of his appointment by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller will have wide powers to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and—beyond that—“any matters” that arise from the investigation, including perjury and obstruction of justice.

Just a few of the stories that broke last night after we learned about the special counsel in the afternoon.

Morning Coffee, Malcolm Liepke

The New York Times: Trump Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation Before He Came to White House.

Michael T. Flynn told President Trump’s transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, according to two people familiar with the case.

Despite this warning, which came about a month after the Justice Department notified Mr. Flynn of the inquiry, Mr. Trump made Mr. Flynn his national security adviser. The job gave Mr. Flynn access to the president and nearly every secret held by American intelligence agencies.

Mr. Flynn’s disclosure, on Jan. 4, was first made to the transition team’s chief lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, who is now the White House counsel. That conversation, and another one two days later between Mr. Flynn’s lawyer and transition lawyers, shows that the Trump team knew about the investigation of Mr. Flynn far earlier than has been previously reported.

And of course we knew that Rep. Elijah Cummings had informed the Trump transition team in November that Flynn had been paid to lobby for Turkey. Will Mike Pence still try to claim he didn’t know anything?

McClatchy: Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed – after being paid as its agent.

One of the Trump administration’s first decisions about the fight against the Islamic State was made by Michael Flynn weeks before he was fired – and it conformed to the wishes of Turkey, whose interests, unbeknownst to anyone in Washington, he’d been paid more than $500,000 to represent.

The decision came 10 days before Donald Trump had been sworn in as president, in a conversation with President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, who had explained the Pentagon’s plan to retake the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa with Syrian Kurdish forces whom the Pentagon considered the U.S.’s most effective military partners. Obama’s national security team had decided to ask for Trump’s sign-off, since the plan would all but certainly be executed after Trump had become president.

Flynn didn’t hesitate. According to timelines distributed by members of Congress in the weeks since, Flynn told Rice to hold off, a move that would delay the military operation for months….

Now members of Congress, musing about the tangle of legal difficulties Flynn faces, cite that exchange with Rice as perhaps the most serious: acting on behalf of a foreign nation – from which he had received considerable cash – when making a military decision. Some members of Congress, in private conversations, have even used the word “treason” to describe Flynn’s intervention, though experts doubt that his actions qualify.

Reading the News, by Steve Prenner

The Washington Post: House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump.

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

Before the conversation, McCarthy and Ryan had emerged from separate talks at the Capitol with Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladi­mir Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.

Breaking this morning:

Reuters exclusive: Exclusive: Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians: sources.

Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.

Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said.

Read the rest at the link.

Madame Monet Reading le Figaro, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The Washington Post: Roger Ailes, architect of conservative TV juggernaut Fox News, is dead at 77.

Roger Ailes, who mastered the art of selling political candidates like Hollywood celebrities and was the architect of conservative-oriented TV news, died Thursday at 77. He was the longtime chairman and chief executive of the Fox News Channel, building it over two decades into an politically influential juggernaut until his abrupt ouster last year amid sexual harassment allegations.

His family confirmed the death in a statement. No cause or location was reported.

I don’t like being rude, but in this case I say good riddance. Read more at the WaPo.

 

The “beleaguered” White House staff is freaking out

The Washington Post: The worst job in Washington right now: Working for Trump.

As Donald Trump has grown increasingly angry and frustrated with his White House staff, the beleaguered targets of his ire have a quietly roiling gripe of their own — their boss, the president himself.

Since he fired FBI Director James B. Comey, Trump has lurched through crises of his own making — from the explosive report Monday that he had revealed highly classified intelligence to Russian officials to the bombshell Tuesday thathe had urged Comey to end the federal investigation into Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser.

In his wake remain his exhausted aides and deputies, the frequent targets of Trump’s wrath as they struggle to control an uncontrollable chief executive and labor to explain away his stumbles.

Wednesday evening brought yet another challenging development for the White House, as the Justice Department announced a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Some White House staffers have turned to impeachment gallows humor. Other mid-level aides have started contacting consultants, shopping their résumés. And at least one senior staffer has begun privately talking to friends about what a post-White House job would look like, according to two people close the staffer.

Break out the popcorn and the tiny violin. Why did they link themselves to a carnival barker in the first place? I have no sympathy for them. None.

Michael Kranish on Trump’s dysfunctional coping methods: 

Woman reading news, by James Jacques Joseph

The Washington Post: As president, Trump’s legacy of lawsuits and minimal briefings isn’t helping.

As President Trump manages his latest crises, he is turning to strategies from his tumultuous business career: rely on family and a few trusted advisers, demand absolute loyalty from those beyond the inner circle, threaten opponents with legal action, and insist on bare-bones briefings.

But the tactics that Trump believed served him so well in business may be adding to his self-inflicted wounds as a special counsel prepares to launch an investigation into allegations that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election.

Trump’s family has no government background, and most of his most trusted advisers never worked in a White House. His demands to government officials for personal loyalty are superseded by their loyalty to the Constitution. His threats — such as tweeting that fired FBI Director James B. Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” — have often backfired. Comey’s associates provided quotes from a memo about the conversation that appear to support Comey’s version of events.

And Trump’s famous aversion to in-depth analysis — he once wrote that “The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience” — has led to concerns that he doesn’t absorb complicated briefing material from intelligence agencies and other sources.

Barbara Res, former executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said that Trump would often come up with business proposals that needed someone to tell him “that’s not a good idea, Donald. It seems to me that people are not doing that” at the White House.

Some good news that I missed yesterday:

Showbiz 411: MSNBC-Lawrence O’Donnell: “The Last Word” is Not Over as HUGE Fan Response Comes to Rescue of Show.

We may not have heard “The Last Word,” as it turns out.

I’m told that late yesterday afternoon, MSNBC finally contacted Lawrence O’Donnell‘s agency, WME, to have some talks about renewing his contract.

The contract runs out in less than four weeks. The network, some posit, was stalling as a “tactic.” It didn’t work.

Fan response to the news that O’Donnell might be gone has been HUGE. From Twitter and Facebook to old fashioned calls to MSNBC‘s Phil Griffith and NBC’s Andy Lack, it’s been actually shocking. Not that I’m surprised.

But it turns out MSNBC’s viewers have made “The Last Word” a hit not just because of Rachel Maddow and hatred for Donald Trump, but because they actually enjoy O’Donnell’s reasoned and impassioned approach to the events of the day.

So there may be a happy ending to this bizarre situation.

What wild breaking news is coming today? There’s sure to be plenty of it. Please share the stories you’re following in the comment thread below.

 


Tuesday Reads: Trump Is U.S.’s Top National Security Risk

Good Morning!!

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 Syria

Turkey, 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.

US based cleric Fethullah Gulen

3. Extradition of Erdogan’s rival Gulen

Erdogan 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.

CNN: Sally Yates: Russians had ‘real leverage’ over Michael Flynn.

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.
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