Monday Reads: The Wheedle and the Damage Done

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I continue to believe that a huge number of Christians in this country actually make this the least Christian country on the planet.  After all, white evangelicals were the biggest chunk of voters that made way for Russia’s attack on our form of government and brought an insane man into the White House.  What type of people fall for cons? What type of people actually will damage themselves and their neighbors to feel smug and safe in their whiteness?  Better yet, what will the recently installed Pope say to President Swiss Cheese for Brains and the Gingrichs who play the pious game of “maybe for thee but not for me” with all the Jesus teachings.

You can have as many bible studies and prayer breakfasts as you want in this administration and the actions will never overtake the words passed into law.  What we continue to see is the rich and powerful destroying the lives of the weakest among us to provide lavish tax cuts that basically accrue value to no one but the person who receives them.

With that lecture, I give you the Republican and Trump Agenda.  We are seeing the proposals that will send many to their graves.  Paul Ryan is not nicknamed the Granny Starver for nothing.  Please don’t watch the Trumpical Clusterfuck Tour. Read what’s going on with the Budget and with the Department of Re-Education.

President Trump’s first major budget proposal on Tuesday will include massive cuts to Medicaid and call for changes to anti-poverty programs that would give states new power to limit a range of benefits, people familiar with the planning said, despite growing unease in Congress about cutting the safety net.

For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade.

The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors. Many anti-poverty programs have elements that are run by both the states and federal government, and a federal order allowing states to stiffen work requirements “for able-bodied Americans” could have a broad impact in terms of limiting who can access anti-poverty payments — and for how long.

Numerous social-welfare programs grew after the financial crisis, leading to complaints from many Republicans that more should be done to shift people out of these programs and back into the workforce. Shortly after he was sworn in, Trump said, “We want to get our people off welfare and back to work. . . . It’s out of control.”

Trump’s decision to include the Medicaid cuts is significant because it shows he is rejecting calls from a number of Senate Republicans not to reverse the expansion of Medicaid that President Barack Obama achieved as part of the Affordable Care Act. The House has voted to cut the Medicaid funding, but Senate Republicans have signaled they are likely to start from scratch.

As usual, children and the sick get the worst treatment. I suppose it’s only time that we see an end to child labor laws and poor farms established.  Either that, or we funnel every one to private jails.

But Tuesday’s budget will be more significant, because it will seek changes to entitlements — programs that are essentially on auto­pilot and don’t need annual authorization from Congress. The people describing the proposals spoke on the condition of anonymity because the budget had not been released publicly and the White House is closely guarding details.

The proposed changes include the big cuts to Medicaid. The White House also is expected to propose changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, though precise details couldn’t be learned. SNAP is the modern version of food stamps, and it swelled following the financial crisis as the Obama administration eased policies to make it easier for people to qualify for benefits. As the economy has improved, enrollment in the program hasn’t changed as much as many had forecast.

And they’re still after a the Affordable Health Care Act.  This amounts to a death by a million paper cuts.  You’ll notice most of this isn’t being rolled out with the same gusto as the Saudis welcomed Kremlin Caligula.

The Trump administration Monday plans to ask a federal court for another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Obamacare insurance subsidies, according to two administration sources, leaving the future of the health care marketplaces in limbo through late August.

The suit, House v. Price, centers on Obamacare’s cost-sharing program, which reimburses health insurers to help low-income people make co-payments at the doctor or hospital. The legal motion in a case that was brought by House Republicans during the Obama administration is expected to be filed later Monday.

President Donald Trump has argued that the markets are fatally flawed and will collapse no matter what his administration does. He also suggested that the ensuing chaos could entice Democrats to come to the bargaining table and help craft a health care overhaul. But administration officials have said the payments would continue while the lawsuit is pending.

While another delay would stop short of imploding the markets, it still undermines the exchanges, by continuing uncertainty as insurers decide where to offer coverage and how to price it.

House Republicans charged the cost-sharing program was never legally funded in Obamacare. A federal district court judge ruled in 2016 that the Obama administration was illegally funding the program. The Obama administration appealed that decision but the issue was unresolved before Trump took office.

September 16, 2016

Meanwhile, Betsy DeVos is already steamrolling along. The plan that has completely failed in Louisiana is about to go National with this nut job in charge of the Department of Re-Education.  School choice is another term for segregated schools and public funding of religious atrocities foisted on innocent children.

Before she was picked by President Trump to head up the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos was the chairwoman of the American Federal for Children, a pro-school choice lobbying group.

When she visits Indianapolis Monday night, Secretary DeVos will address a sea of friendly and familiar faces at the AFC’s National Policy Summit at the Weston Hotel.

It’s expected DeVos will roll out a Trump administration plan to provide tax credits to corporations and individuals who donate money to groups and schools that provide school choice scholarships to students and parents.

“We see that this is a really significant opportunity for her to lay out a vision for what she sees as educational choice going into the future for all fifty states,” said AFC Spokesman Tommy Schultz. “I think Indianapolis and Indiana are great places to do it where Indiana has one of the fastest growing choice programs in the entire country.”

More than 33,000 Hoosier students attend classes in a private or charter school under Indiana’s expanded choice program.

“So a federal tax credit scholarship program would be a really great way to facilitate getting more families educational options for their child. We expect something like that to be potentially rolled out later this year,” said Schultz. “It’s purely folks giving charitable contributions to education scholarship organizations and then therefore they’ll get a credit for that.”

Indiana’s public school teachers fear the DeVos speech will be one more attack on the system that educates a majority of America’s children, many of them in struggling urban school districts.

“We are concerned that her speech is going to be about changes to the proposed federal budget and how that’s going to impact our students,” said Theresa Merideth, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. “What we have is a voucher system now that funds kids who are already going, by and large, to private schools anyway, and there is no data that is showing they are doing any better that public school counterparts.”

Meredith said before- and after-school programs, and services aimed at special education youngsters, will be at risk from proposed Trump administration cuts to the federal education budget.

Make American White, Fascist, and Nutty Religious folks!  I really think their slogan should be Greed and Grifting is Good!  In that vein, the White House is trying to block ethics investigations of ex lobbyists now working in Federal Agencies and the West Wing.

The Trump administration, in a significant escalation of its clash with the government’s top ethics watchdog, has moved to block an effort to disclose any ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists who now work in the White House or federal agencies.

The latest conflict came in recent days when the White House, in a highly unusual move, sent a letter to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the head of the Office of Government Ethics, asking him to withdraw a request he had sent to every federal agency for copies of the waivers. In the letter, the administration challenged his legal authority to demand the information.

Dozens of former lobbyists and industry lawyers are working in the Trump administration, which has hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration. Keeping the waivers confidential would make it impossible to know whether any such officials are violating federal ethics rules or have been given a pass to ignore them.

Mr. Shaub, who is in the final year of a five-year term after being appointed by President Barack Obama, said he had no intention of backing down. “It is an extraordinary thing,” Mr. Shaub said of the White House request. “I have never seen anything like it.”

There is some good news.  The Court System appears to be working as a system of checks and balances on all the crazies that have invaded the executive branches and legislative branches throughout the Country and in the District.  SCOTUS just told North Carolina its gerrymandering smacked of racism and rejected its proposed Congressional Districts.  Thomas sided with the majority and Gorsuch sat out so I’m no sure we can divine any future trends from this.

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina Republicans relied too heavily on race when they drew two bizarrely shaped congressional voting districts that were used until the 2014 election.

The ruling upholds a lower court decision that rejected the two majority-black districts and ordered a new map for the 2016 election. Even with the new lines, Republicans maintained their hold on 10 of the state’s 13 districts.

Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said a three-judge panel had sufficient grounds for concluding that race, and not politics, was the driving factor in setting out the lines. She also backed the lower court’s conclusion that the district lines weren’t needed to comply with a federal voting-rights law.

“A state may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines unless it has a compelling reason,” Kagan wrote.

The case produced an unusual split. Justice Clarence Thomas, perhaps the most conservative justice, joined the court’s four liberals in the majority. Thomas is a staunch opponent of the use of race in drawing district lines, no matter which side benefits.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy issued a partial dissent saying they would have upheld one of the districts. Justice Neil Gorsuch didn’t take part in the case, which was argued before he joined the court.

The contested districts were both held by black Democrats. Critics said the goal was to dilute minority voting strength outside of those two districts and preserve the power of neighboring white Republicans.

North Carolina officials said they were trying to preserve black majorities and comply with the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law designed to protect racial minorities. North Carolina also contended that, with regard to one of its disputed districts, map-drawers were legitimately motivated by politics.

One of the disputed districts — the 12th District, held by Representative Alma Adams — was 120 miles long, snaking from Charlotte to Greensboro and roughly tracking Interstate 85. The other — the 1st District, held by Representative G.K. Butterfield — was in the northeastern part of the state, with tendrils that captured black areas further south and west.

The 12th District has been the subject of repeated court challenges over the years. The latest case represented the fifth time the Supreme Court had examined the district.

Flynn will be evoking the Fifth Amendment.   They probably have enough on him that it won’t mean much.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on Monday as he notifies the Senate Intelligence committee that he will not comply with a subpoena seeking documents.

That’s according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private interactions between Flynn and the committee.

Flynn’s decision comes less than two weeks after the committee issued a subpoena for Flynn’s documents as part of the panel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Legal experts have said Flynn was unlikely to turn over the personal documents without immunity because he would be waiving some of his constitutional protections by doing so. Flynn has previously sought immunity from “unfair prosecution” to cooperate with the committee.

Simon Maloy argues that the Trump White House is collapsing in an op ed for The Week.

Just as Air Force One was lifting off to ferry Trump to Riyadh, The New York Times and The Washington Post each published seismically significant pieces on the White House’s ever-expanding Russia scandal. The Timesreported that Trump, during an Oval Office meeting the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey, told high-level Russian officials that Comey was a “nut job” and firing him had relieved the “great pressure” Trump felt “because of Russia.” The Post, meanwhile, reported that the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia has identified a senior White House official as “a significant person of interest.”

Shortly after the Times and Post stories hit, CNN came through with another big scoop, reporting that Russian officials had boasted during the 2016 campaign that they could use former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to influence Trump and his associates.

The Times piece in particular is brutal for Trump. At the time the president divulged to the Russians his motivation for firing his FBI director, the administration was still sticking to its ridiculous story that Comey lost his job because he botched the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. That means officials from an adversarial government knew the White House wasn’t being honest about a politically explosive subject.

On top of that, Trump’s comments to the Russians could become the focus of an obstruction of justice inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller, who was tapped to assume control of the Russia investigation following Comey’s dismissal. Trump had already told NBC’s Lester Holt that the Russia investigation factored into his decision to fire Comey, and the Times report adds significant weight to the idea that Trump’s primary motivation in sacking Comey was to neutralize an issue that was damaging him politically.

The Post report, meanwhile, feels like the first strong indication that the Russia investigation has the potential to cut deeply. The fact that a senior White House official is coming under scrutiny is obviously a problem for Trump, but the Post also reported that the FBI inquiry now “also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president.”

Financial Crimes is an interesting take given the Russian hacking of the US election and White House.  But, it’s a serious way to take down the Trump Criminal Syndicate.  This is from Josh Marshall writing for TPM.

We know – and this article confirms – that Paul Manafort is a significant focus of the probe. Even apart from his political work in Ukraine, Manafort appears to have a series of real estate deals, loans, etc. that investigators are looking at. So perhaps it’s something as mundane as stumbling across some kind of crooked, small-bore real estate ventures Manafort participated in while examining his business ties to people in Ukraine.

But my hunch is that it’s a bit more than that.

As you’ve seen, what I’ve been focused on in recent months are a series of business ventures over the last couple decades – either involving President Trump or his close associates – which seemed to rely on capital from people from the former Soviet Union or recent emigres from those countries. Trump himself, Felix Sater, Michael Cohen and many others figure into this as well as Manafort, Trump’s children, the Kushners and still others. My interest of course is to understand the roots of Trump’s affinity with the post-Soviet oligarch world and whatever financial ties or dependence he has on it. But even if you take the Russia/former Soviet Union connection with its geopolitical dynamics out of the equation, you simply can’t read over these deals and not see that Trump and his crew just play way out on the outer fringe of legality at best. At best. People who have done or subsequently did time in the US or other countries repeatedly appear in the picture. So do people from organized crime. A lot.

One thing you find looking through Trump’s history is that after his fall from financial grace a quarter century ago this pattern seemed to become part of the business model. Cut off from capital from the big banks and most people interested in not losing their money, he had to do business with people with decidedly sketchier reputations. Those people, often looking for places to park wealth in real estate, had to accept much higher levels of risk than people with clean reputations. That seemed to lead them to Trump.

Then there’s another level of it. Even apart from big bad acts and corrupt deals, look at the stuff David Fahrenthold dug up on the Trump Foundation and his Potemkin charitable giving. Beyond issues of possible illegality, the big takeaway there was that Trump operates with a seemingly almost total disregard for rule-following or even a lot of elementary record keeping. So on top of substantively shady deals things are executed in really slapdash and hazard ways. In other words, the Trump Organization sounds a lot like the Trump White House. Only it’s a private company, surrounded by a moat of NDAs, all examined by little more than the thin scrutiny of the New York tabloids.

Here are just a couple examples of some color from the kinds of associations and business dealings I’m talking about: one and two.

Follow those links.

So, I’ve just filled the page with over 3100 words and counting.  I think I’ll leave the rest to you this morning.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


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.
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.

Friday Reads: A Steady Stream of Leaks Emanating from the FBI

Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer on the streets of NYC

Good Afternoon!!

I’m filling in for Dakinikat, who is trying to wrap up her grades today. There was so much news yesterday, but today is Friday and there is likely to be more coming out based on what’s happened the past few Fridays.

Already this morning, Trump has threatened former FBI director James Comey on Twitter and claimed the Russia investigation is a story made up by Democrats. In addition, Trump basically incriminated himself in a strange-but-true interview with NBC’s Lester Holt yesterday.

The Washington Post: The Daily 202: Trump’s warning to Comey deepens doubts about his respect for the rule of law.

The biggest news out of Donald Trump’s Thursday interview with NBC was his confession that the Russia investigation was on his mind when he fired FBI director James Comey. Undercutting 48 hours of denials by his aides, the president said: “In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’”

But what may ultimately get Trump into bigger trouble is his story about Comey assuring him he was not under investigation during a one-on-one dinner at the White House. Lester Holt asked the president to elaborate on his claim, made in the letter firing Comey, that he’d been told three times he was not under federal investigation. “He wanted to stay at the FBI, and I said I’ll, you know, consider and see what happens,” Trump said. “But we had a very nice dinner, and at that time he told me, ‘You are not under investigation.’” (Watch a 13-minute video of Holt’s sit-down here.)

It would be a big dang deal if the FBI director was discussing an ongoing investigation with the president — generally prohibited by Justice Department policy — at the same time he was also asking to keep his job.

Naturally, the leaks are coming thick and fast out of the FBI.

The New York Times: In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey Demurred.

Only seven days after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president, James B. Comey has told associates, the F.B.I. director was summoned to the White House for a one-on-one dinner with the new commander in chief.

The conversation that night in January, Mr. Comey now believes, was a harbinger of his downfall this week as head of the F.B.I., according to two people who have heard his account of the dinner.

As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.

Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge. Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not “reliable” in the conventional political sense.

Unreal.

By Mr. Comey’s account, his answer to Mr. Trump’s initial question apparently did not satisfy the president, the associates said. Later in the dinner, Mr. Trump again said to Mr. Comey that he needed his loyalty.

Mr. Comey again replied that he would give him “honesty” and did not pledge his loyalty, according to the account of the conversation.

But Mr. Trump pressed him on whether it would be “honest loyalty.”

“You will have that,” Mr. Comey told his associates he responded.

NBC News: My Dinner With Comey: Current and Former FBI Officials Dispute Trump Account of Meeting With FBI Director.

One day after the acting attorney general warned the White House that its national security adviser was subject to blackmail, the president summoned the FBI director to dinner at the White House, sources close to James Comey told NBC News….

It’s not known whether the men talked about national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI a few days before, on Jan. 24 — grilled about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak….

Trump suggested, in an exclusive interview Thursday with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, that he had the FBI’s Russia collusion investigation on his mind when he decided to remove Comey.

“When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,'” Trump said.

Trump gave Holt an entirely different account of the dinner, saying that Comey requested it to seek job security, and told the president he was not under investigation.

None of that is true, Comey’s associates insist.

A former senior FBI official said Comey would never have told the president he was not under investigation — contradicting what Trump said.

“He tried to stay away from it [the Russian-ties investigation],” said the former official, who worked closely with Comey and keeps in touch with him. “He would say, ‘Look sir, I really can’t get into it, and you don’t want me to.'”

 

CBS News reports on another leak: Source: There is “whole lot of interfering” in Russia investigation.

Although President Trump has now stated and written that fired FBI Director James Comey told him on three separate occasions that he was not the subject of an investigation, sources cast doubt on that claim.

It would be out of character for Comey to have made that statement even once, much less three times, to the president, one law enforcement source told CBS News. Along with his firing, the source noted a high level of “interfering” in the Russia probe.

As for the White House assertions that “countless” FBI rank-and-file employees wanted Comey out, the source said that was a “load of cr*p” to think that agents wanted to see him ousted. That sentiment is shared by acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe in less colorful language. He told a congressional panel Thursday, “Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day. We are a large organization. We are 36,500 people across this country, across this globe. we have a diversity of opinions about many things, but I can confidently tell you that the majority, the vast majority of employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey.”

This was the case in spite of the divided opinion within the agency over Comey’s July 2016 announcement that he would not recommend Hillary Clinton be charged for mishandling classified information, in the investigation into her use of a private server for her email.

Within the FBI, the Russia investigation is considered to be “a crisis,” the source said, and “there is a whole lot of interfering.” The succession of events surrounding Comey’s firing is not considered to be a coincidence by the agency. In the week before he was terminated, Comey asked Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein for additional resources to pursue the Russia investigation.

I cannot wait until Comey testifies again in public.

At Lawfare, Benjamin Wittes writes that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must resign.

“He made—he made a recommendation,” Donald Trump said yesterday of his Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein in an interview with NBC News. “He’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him; the Republicans like him. He made a recommendation, but regardless of the recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.

”There it is, directly from the presidential mouth: Trump happily traded the reputation of Rosenstein, who began the week as a well-respected career prosecutor, for barely 24 hours of laughably transparent talking points in the news cycle. The White House sent out person after person—including the Vice President—to insist that Rosenstein’s memo constituted the basis for the President’s action against the FBI director. The White House described a bottoms-up dissatisfaction with Comey’s leadership, which Rosenstein’s memo encapsulated and to which the President acceded. And then, just as casually as Trump and his people set Rosenstein up as the bad guy for what was obviously a presidential decision into whose service Rosenstein had been enlisted, Trump revealed that Rosenstein was, after all, nothing more than a set piece…. [read the full excerpt from the interview at the link.]

Note that Trump did not merely reveal Rosenstein as a set piece here; he revealed him as a set piece in Trump’s own effort to frustrate the Russia investigation. The story as told by the president to NBC now is that Trump decided to fire Comey in connection with saying to himself that the Russia investigation was a made up story, and that it was in that context that he got Rosenstein to write a pretextual memo….

Trump’s idea of correcting the record was to say publicly exactly the thing about a law enforcement officer that makes his continued service in office impossible: That Trump had used his deputy attorney general as window dressing on a pre-cooked political decision to shut down an investigation involving himself, a decision for which he needed the patina of a high-minded rationale.

Once the President has said this about you—a law enforcement officer who works for him and who promised the Senate in confirmation hearings you would show independence—you have nothing left. These are the costs of working for Trump, and it took Rosenstein only two weeks to pay them.

The only decent course now is to name a special prosecutor and then resign.

I have no doubt that more news will be breaking all day long and into tonight. I’m already exhausted. What stories are you following today?


Thursday Reads: Just do it already!


I don’t know about y’all…but I’m tired of this shit!

If you say you are going to do it…do it!

And then there is this…

And for the final Tweet link of the day…

 

Now since y’all got stuck with me again today…yeah, if you didn’t notice, I’m covering for Boston Boomer today. (I’ve tried to get this post written for the last six hours, but my motivation is seriously lacking.)

Taking the easy way out, here are some cartoons that we can enjoy today. A left over from yesterday.

 

This is an open thread….


Wednesday Reads: History Repeating… Hump Day Cartoons 

Think of tRump and his Regime as

Super Horse…

Nothing to see here:

 

 

After the Tuesday Massacre a lot of newsy people were using Nixon as a callback…a reference to history repeating.

History News Network | The Firing of the FBI Director: What Historians Are Saying on Social Media

(Historians are not so quick to make that assessment.)

I actually think this is much worse…

 

 

But I have to say…I love the little hands flipping the bird, yeah…that is tRump alright. Giving us the old “Fuck You America!”

 

In other troubling news:

 

Oh yeah….by the way…

Bottom line:

Here are your cartoons for today:

 

 

 

From last week, this cartoon seems strange now:

 

 

 

I will go ahead and hit publish on this post…because so much is fucking going on:

 

 

 

tRump is also re-tweeting Drudge report….ugh.

 

Y’all know what to do…it is an open thread!