I’m not going to spend much time on the vice presidential debate in today’s post. CNN’s post-debate poll showed Kamala Harris was the winner.
I don’t think Mike Pence did a very good job of defending Trump, and that’s what he needed to do. He lied again and again with a straight face–that has always been his modus operandi. He refused to answer a question about what states should do about abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and–worst of all–he dodged a question about whether there will be a peaceful transition of power if Trump loses. From The Daily Beast:
At the tail end of Wednesday night’s vice-presidential debate—one that was noticeably less fiery and chaotic than last week’s presidential clash—Vice President Mike Pence completely avoided answering what he would do if President Donald Trump refuses to step down if he loses the election….
The veep first said that he thinks his ticket will win re-election before accusing Democrats of not accepting the outcome of the 2016 election, bringing up the Russia investigation and the impeachment of the president. After invoking former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s advice that Joe Biden shouldn’t concede on election night if the results are close, Pence reiterated his belief that Trump would be re-elected.
“President Trump and I are fighting every day to prevent Joe Biden and Kamala Harris from changing the rules and creating a massive opportunity for voter fraud,” he concluded. “If we have a free and fair election, we’ll have confidence in it.”
Matt Flegenheimer and Annie Karni at The New York Times: Pence, Peerless Trump Defender, Confronts His Limits.
Vice President Mike Pence approached his task on Wednesday as he has approached his four years as the executive straight man to an unruly leader: not merely defending President Trump but effectively insisting, with poker-faced conviction, that those who doubt his boss should not believe their eyes and ears.
The trouble this time was not Mr. Pence’s skill set on this front, which remains peerless. It was the fact set underpinning this debate, which remains inconvenient to an administration so overwhelmed by the virus that its own West Wing has become a hot spot.
And so Mr. Pence — stripped of most politically palatable explanations for the White House pandemic response — set off on a curious charge when Senator Kamala Harris said that the Trump team’s leadership “clearly” has not worked: He chose to hear it as a direct affront to the American people.
“When you say what the American people have done over these last eight months hasn’t worked,” Mr. Pence said gravely, as controlled as his president is rambunctious onstage, “that’s a great disservice to the sacrifices the American people have made.”
At last, the strain seemed to be showing, at least a little. Perhaps that is what a full term of wear-and-tear can do to even the most accomplished rhetorical gymnast.
Or perhaps the reality is simply too bleak for any administration to explain away entirely: The president has contracted the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans on his watch. His behavior, since leaving the hospital on Monday, appears to be a continuation of the kind of scientifically dubious happy talk that has left the Trump-Pence ticket at a significant polling disadvantage four weeks before Election Day.
Yes, the story today and every day until the election will be about Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to the deaths of 211,917 Americans as of this morning. In addition, Trump either doesn’t understand or simply refuses to admit that the pandemic is killing the economy.
IMHO, the biggest story this morning is the coronavirus outbreak at the White House and the obvious fact that Trump and his Trumpists have likely spread the virus very widely. Here’s the latest.
The coronavirus outbreak has infected “34 White House staffers and other contacts” in recent days, according to an internal government memo, an indication that the disease has spread among more people than previously known in the seat of American government.
The memo also notes that a senior adviser to the president is among those infected. Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller, both senior aides to the president, have tested positive in recent days.
The new figures underscore both the growing crisis in the White House and the lengths to which government officials have gone to block information about the outbreak’s spread. ABC News had previously reported that a total of 24 White House aides and their contacts had contracted the virus. It was not clear in the FEMA memo with the larger number what “other contacts” referred to.
Jennifer Jacobs at Bloomberg: White House Security Official Contracted Covid-19 in September.
A top White House security official, Crede Bailey, is gravely ill with Covid-19 and has been hospitalized since September, according to four people familiar with his condition.
The White House has not publicly disclosed Bailey’s illness. He became sick before the Sept. 26 Rose Garden event President Donald Trump held to announce his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett that has been connected to more than a dozen cases of the disease.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on Bailey. He is in charge of the White House security office, which handles credentialing for access to the White House and works closely with the U.S. Secret Service on security measures throughout the compound.
Chris Christie is still in the hospital and there has been no news about how he is doing. NJ.com:
Christie’s current condition is not known. Hospital officials declined comment Tuesday….
Christie, who has struggled with his weight and has a lifelong history of asthma, tweeted that he checked himself into the hospital Saturday. Because of his conditions, he’s at higher risk of developing complications from the virus.
The Daily Beast: White House Quietly Told Vets Group It Might Have Exposed Them to COVID.
On the same day President Donald Trump acknowledged contracting the coronavirus, the White House quietly informed a veterans group that there was a COVID-19 risk stemming from a Sept. 27 event honoring the families of fallen U.S. service members, the head of that charitable organization told The Daily Beast.
The White House warning, which came on Oct. 2, is the earliest known outreach to visitors of the complex that there was a risk of coronavirus emerging from the grounds where the president, the first lady, and at least 17 of his aides, according to Politico, have now tested positive for the virus.
The Sept. 27 event to honor Gold Star families came the day after the White House hosted a celebration for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett that appears to have been an early source of the White House outbreak, though West Wing officials have quietly disputed that linkage. It is unclear to the head of the veterans charity—the Greatest Generations Foundation—which participant’s potential positive coronavirus test sparked the warning.
President Donald Trump and other White House insiders infected with COVID-19 carried the virus across the country in a matter of days, potentially exposing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people as they went about their business, a USA TODAY investigation found.
From a religious summit outside Atlanta to a campaign rally at a Pennsylvania airport and a private fundraiser in Minnesota, Trump, his aides and political allies attended events with thousands of people, often without masks and little regard for social distancing….
USA TODAY reporters examined hundreds of photos and videos from news coverage and social media posts and scoured attendance logs to identify people who came in contact with those individuals.
At least 6,000 people attended meetings, rallies and other gatherings with them within a week of the Supreme Court nomination ceremony Sept. 26 in the White House Rose Garden, pegged as a potential “superspreader” event….
Epidemiologists and public health experts said USA TODAY’s analysis shows that the White House outbreak has put more people, in more places, at risk than has been previously known. It illustrates just how quickly and how far a superspreader event can carry COVID-19.
“I don’t think we know the extent of this outbreak yet … people could die,” said Danielle Ompad, an associate professor of epidemiology at New York University’s School of Global Public Health. “It’s the height of irresponsibility for people who are supposed to be leaders.”
Meanwhile, Trump hasn’t been seen in public since he returned to the White House on Monday evening. Instead he has been posting videos of himself wearing heavier make-up than usual and babbling nonsense, including claiming he has been “cured” of the virus and may be immune to it. We haven’t been told what medications Trump is still taking, and the White House and Trump’s doctors have refused to say when Trump last tested negative for the virus. ABC News reports:
The White House has also declined to confirm when and how Trump was tested before last Tuesday’s presidential debate with Joe Biden, even though both campaigns certified to debate organizers that the candidates and everyone who traveled with them to Cleveland tested negative within 72 hours of the debate.
The White House, which has made contradictory statements about when and how often Trump is tested, said the president first tested positive Thursday evening, and first discussed symptoms with his doctor at that time. Studies have shown that coronavirus patients are infectious up to two days before the onset of symptoms.
“People ought to have the right to know whether or not they should be quarantining themselves, if they’re at risk,” Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News. “Potentially the president and his team have put others in harm’s way.”
While it’s not clear when Trump was infected with the virus, the White House’s silence raises questions about its compliance with debate rules, the frequency of Trump’s tests, and whether the president or his aides had concerns about him having the virus before he tested positive — as he kept up his busy schedule of campaign events.
And what about the next presidential debate? The debate commission announce that it will be done virtually, and Trump says he won’t participate and instead will hold a superspreader rally! The New York Times: Trump Objects to Commission’s Virtual Debate Plan.
President Trump, in an extraordinary break from the norms of modern campaigning, said on Thursday that he would refuse to participate in the next presidential debate after organizers changed the event to a virtual format because of health concerns about the coronavirus.
His withdrawal from the Oct. 15 event came shortly after the Commission on Presidential Debates, citing the “health and safety of all involved,” abandoned plans to stage the next in-person debate in Miami, saying that Mr. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. would instead participate remotely from separate locations.
But Mr. Trump, whose recent contraction of the coronavirus was a significant impetus for the commission to modify its plans, immediately dismissed the idea of a remote debate as “ridiculous” and accused the debate commission without evidence of seeking to protect his Democratic opponent.
“No, I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate,” Mr. Trump told the Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo in a television interview. “That’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate — it’s ridiculous.”
And this is extraordinary: the editors of The New England Journal of Medicine have publicly stated that Trump should not get a second term: Dying in a Leadership Vacuum.
Here’s the gist:
Covid-19 has created a crisis throughout the world. This crisis has produced a test of leadership. With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy….
The United States came into this crisis with enormous advantages. Along with tremendous manufacturing capacity, we have a biomedical research system that is the envy of the world. We have enormous expertise in public health, health policy, and basic biology and have consistently been able to turn that expertise into new therapies and preventive measures. And much of that national expertise resides in government institutions. Yet our leaders have largely chosen to ignore and even denigrate experts.
The response of our nation’s leaders has been consistently inadequate. The federal government has largely abandoned disease control to the states. Governors have varied in their responses, not so much by party as by competence. But whatever their competence, governors do not have the tools that Washington controls. Instead of using those tools, the federal government has undermined them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was the world’s leading disease response organization, has been eviscerated and has suffered dramatic testing and policy failures. The National Institutes of Health have played a key role in vaccine development but have been excluded from much crucial government decision making. And the Food and Drug Administration has been shamefully politicized,3 appearing to respond to pressure from the administration rather than scientific evidence. Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government,4 causing damage that will certainly outlast them. Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed “opinion leaders” and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies….
Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment. Reasonable people will certainly disagree about the many political positions taken by candidates. But truth is neither liberal nor conservative. When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.
I think this post is getting too long; but I can’t be sure, because the new WordPress editor doesn’t provide a word count. I’ll post a few more stories in the comment thread below. I hope you all have a peaceful day. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and please check in with us if you have the time and inclination.
I’m going to litter this edition of the latest attacks of the petty dictator and his general on some one simply doing her job with the work of Gustav Klimt. And no surprises! It’s a black woman congressman who has represented her Florida District supremely well.
The Despot of Drumpfistan needs enemies to prop up his regime and his ego. There is nothing he goes after with more relish than a woman. It seems General Kelly shares that belief. They have attacked a strong, principled woman of color and this shows their vision of white nationalism even more. John Kelly’s lecture to Congresswoman Wilson included a list of what he considered American values which sounded a lot like the fever dreams of the patriarchy. Both Drumpf and Kelly did not use the names of any black woman involved in their attack. How positively dehumanizing!
First up, a Klimt break … because this thread is going to outline gross incompetence, pettiness, and meanness by Kremlin Caligula and the supposedly sane and normal general protecting the interests of our Republic.
Okay, I lied. First I’m going to highlight words spoken by former Presidents Obama and Dubya Bush about our country. Then, I’m going full bore be cause I believe Frederica Wilson and I watched Rachel last night.
Our identity as a nation – unlike many other nations – is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed. (Applause.)
And it means that the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation.
We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.
“We’ve got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry, to demonize people who have different ideas, to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage,” Obama told the 7,500 people gathered in the Greater Richmond Convention Center. “So the question for you tonight for the next 19 days: Do you want a politics of division and distraction, or do you believe in a better kind of politics?”
He praised Northam, a former Army doctor, pediatric neurologist and current lieutenant governor, as the kind of leader the country needs.
“At a time so many of us are cynical about government and public service, to have someone step up who you can trust and just wants to do right by the people of Virginia, that’s worth something,” said Obama, who in 2008 became the first Democrat to carry Virginia in a presidential race in 44 years.
Joy Ann Reid recognizes what’s what better than many since she reported on politics in Florida from Florida for a number of years. She delivers the facts to Kelly and his boss.
Frederica Wilson is no liar. On Thursday, Gen. John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff, confirmed that. Kelly also made clear that he works for a man who has redefined the meaning of shameless.
The Florida congresswoman is the latest—and pointedly, the latest woman and person of color—to be attacked by Trump for daring to tell the truth about him. She joins a roster that includes broadcaster Jemele Hill, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and before that, a Latina former Miss Universe. Now add in Hillary Clinton and the more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment or assault. Trump has attacked or threatened a few men too, notably black NFL and NBA stars, Gold Star father Khizr Khan (along with his wife), decorated Vietnam War veteran John McCain and other United States senators, but he typically reserves his greatest vitriol for those who aren’t white and male. We’re all still waiting for the president’s sure-to-be-blistering response to Eminem.
Trump on Wednesday used one of his increasingly frequent press availabilities to essentially call Wilson a liar, after she told the world what he said to the widow of Staff Sgt. La David T. Johnson; one of four special forces soldiers killed during a still murky mission in Niger. Wilson first gave her account to local reporters in Miami who met the limousine carrying her, Myeshia Johnson and Staff Sgt. Johnson’s adoptive parents to the funeral home to claim the body of the fallen soldier. Apparently, the White House had alerted the media that he would call Johnson’s widow, evidently hoping to reap some rare good press for the most hated president in modern U.S. history.
She later repeated what she heard to national news outlets and to this reporter.
Trump goes on the offensive when he’s trying to hide something and cover up for his huge mistakes. Rachel Maddow believes that the huge mistake of putting Chad on the travel ban list may have cost Staff Sgt Johnson and his comrades their lives. She makes a most compelling argument.
When President Donald Trump’s White House instituted the travel ban and randomly added the African country of Chad to the list, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow says it may have destabilized the region. That lack of allied troops could have then been the cause of the deaths of the four soldiers killed two weeks ago in Niger.
Maddow began by walking through the extensive history of the groups of African and French fighters who have managed to battle Islamic extremists like ISIS and Boko Haram in central Africa and actually win. Most of these groups are headquartered in Chad, because the best of the best soldiers managed to run out the majority of the terrorist groups.
Yet, somehow, Chad ended up on Trump’s travel ban list. When it did, there was an uproar of foreign policy experts who warned this was a terrible decision because it would destabilize the region and isolate American troops fighting there. Both the State and Defense Departments were also opposed to Trump’s decision to put Chad on the list, because they knew it would cause military problems in the area. But the Trump administration demanded it.
“Several terrorist groups are active in Chad,” Maddow cited the administration’s reasoning. “If that’s the reason you end up on the travel ban list, why wouldn’t you put Mali or Niger or even Iraq and Afghanistan?”
A former State Department official who worked on that region went even further, telling the New York Times that putting Chad on that list could truly put Americans in harm’s way.
Chad then began to withdraw their troops from the fight against Boko Haram in Niger. In fact, Chad’s troops were gone a week after Trump added Chad to the ban list. According to Reuters, once the soldiers left, Boko Haram moved back in and people began to flee for their lives again. Shortly after the “battle-hardened” Chad fighters left, four American soldiers were attacked and killed in an ambush by ISIS extremists in Niger. Chad announced it began pulling its troops out two weeks ago on Oct. 13, which Maddow said would put their timeline for withdrawal at the end of September.
“Which would be the Friday after the Trump administration made this decision to insult and harm our closest military ally in that region, against ISIS and Boko Haram where ISIS has been trying to establish another caliphate,” Maddow said. “But those Chadian troops were really doing something in Niger. They were protecting those villages in that whole region from ISIS militant groups being able to operate freely and be able to take more territory from there once again. And pulling those troops out had an immediate effect in emboldening those ISIS attacks.”
Within days of the Chadian soldiers beginning to pull out from protecting those villages from ISIS, four soldiers were ambushed.
What’s worse, is the attack now has turned to Gold Star Families and Congresswoman Wilson. Kelly got it very wrong and used patronizing and racist dog whistles to attack the Congresswoman.
When White House Chief of Staff John Kelly condemned a Miami congresswoman on Thursday for sneering at President Donald Trump’s condolence call to a soldier’s widow, the retired general recalled when the two attended a somber ceremony in Miramar to dedicate a new FBI building named after two slain FBI agents.
Kelly criticized Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson for claiming “she got the money” for the new building during the 2015 ceremony while he and others in the audience were focused on the heroism of agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, killed during a 1986 shootout with bank robbers south of Miami.
Thursday night, Wilson said Kelly got the story flat-out wrong. In fact, she said Washington approved the money before she was even in Congress. The legislation she sponsored named the building after Grogan and Dove, a law enacted just days before the ceremony.
“He shouldn’t be able to just say that, that is terrible,” Wilson said of Kelly’s remarks in the White House briefing room, the latest volley in the controversy over Trump’s condolence call to a military widow from Miami Gardens, an area Wilson represents. “This has become totally personal.”
In 2015, Wilson won praise from Miami Republicans for sponsoring the bill to name the long anticipated federal building after two agents who became legends in local law enforcement.
Kelly called US Congressman Frederica Wilson “an empty barrel”.
I think Kelly took on the wrong Congresswoman. She is not going to be moved and she has righteousness on her side.
So, here’s a picture of Gustav Klimt and his cat! Have a good Friday and a great weekend!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
It just keeps getting worse. Yesterday, decent Americans watched in horror as Trump repeatedly insulted a gold star family and in the process politicized and diminished all fallen soldiers and their families. How much lower can he go? I guess we’ll find out, because there doesn’t seem to be anything too sacred for Trump to trash and disparage.
The Washington Post Editorial Board: Trump trivializes the deaths of four soldiers.
STAFF SGT. Bryan C. Black, 35, always relished a challenge. As a child, he drove himself to learn chess; as a teen, he excelled as a wrestler; and as an adult, he joined the Army, where he finished Ranger school and joined the Special Forces. Deployed to Niger, he learned the local dialect.
Before joining the Army, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah “J.W.” Wayne Johnson, 39, owned and operated a successful business. In uniform he became a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist. Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, was a good student and talented athlete. When he joined the Army he continued a family military legacy dating to 1812.
Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, was known to be both determined and playful, as demonstrated by how he commuted to a job at Walmart — removing the front wheel of his bike and becoming known as the “Wheelie King.”
These are the four soldiers who were killed Oct. 4 when their unit was ambushed by Islamist extremists in West Africa. Their lives, their brave service and the sacrifice of their grieving families should be discussed and honored. Instead — thanks to a president with a compulsive need to be the center of attention — their deaths have been trivialized. President Trump reduced condolences to a political competition and treated the grieving families who received them as pawns in a game.
You know the rest; if not you can read it at the Post. At this point, the entire world knows our shame–that the U.S. president is a disgrace and unfit for the office he holds.
Aaron Blake at the Washington Post: Trump’s unmoored week shows just how aimless he is.
President Trump’s most faithful supporters like to believe he’s always a step ahead of the media and the political establishment — that he’s playing three-dimensional chess while we’re stuck on checkers. Where we see utter discord, they see carefully orchestrated chaos.
This week should disabuse absolutely everybody of that notion.
On two issues — health care and calling the families of dead service members — the White House has shown itself to be clearly unmoored, careening back and forth based upon the unhelpful and impulsive comments and tweets of its captain.
Again, you probably know the rest. I spent the day yesterday on the verge of tears, trying desperately not to sink into depression. Unlike Trump, I’m capable of empathy. I have my own life issues to deal with, as we all do; but always the fear of what is happening to our country hangs over everything and makes it difficult to handle day-to-day worries.
I can’t imagine what White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and his family must be feeling. CNN reports: Sources: Kelly didn’t know Trump would publicize that Obama didn’t call when his son died.
Chief of Staff John Kelly told President Donald Trump that President Barack Obama never called him after his son’s death prior to Trump raising the issue in a Tuesday radio interview, multiple White House officials told CNN.
But, according to these sources, Kelly never thought the President would use that information publicly.
Kelly and much of the White House were caught off-guard by Trump’s comments, one official said, struck by how the President took a story Kelly has tried to keep private — the death of his son — and used it to defend his handling of four soldiers killed in Niger.
Trump, in defense of his own previous claim that Obama didn’t call the loved ones of fallen soldiers, floated the idea Tuesday that reporters ask Kelly, a retired general, whether Obama called him after his son died in Afghanistan.
“As far as other presidents, I don’t know, you could ask Gen. Kelly, did he get a call from Obama? I don’t know what Obama’s policy was,” Trump said during a Fox News radio interview.
It’s not clear to me why Kelly expected Trump to keep his confidence. Trump is a sociopath. He doesn’t care any more about Kelly or his dead son than he does about any of the grieving families. He cares only for himself and filling the dark empty hole in his soul with flattery and praise from others.
Kelly should resign or at least begin working with other cabinet members to invoke the 25th amendment before it’s too late.
NBC News Opinion: The 25th Amendment Proves Why Trump’s Mental Health Matters, by Richard Painter and Leanne Watt.
The 25th Amendment is the ultimate constitutional “check” — a corrective mechanism for an American president who is physically or psychologically unable to lead. Most important, it grants legal authority to those closest to power — first, the vice president and Cabinet members, then members of Congress — to stage an intervention. At the very least, these individuals are authorized to call a temporary timeout if the president is judged unfit to govern.
Is America today in need of such an unprecedented intervention?
The amendment, ratified in 1967 after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, was constructed to assure a smooth transition when a president becomes incapable of leadership. (Its vague wording leaves room for both physical and psychological justifications.) By the 1960s, the dangers of an incapacitated president were far greater than at the founding of our country. But arguably, the stakes have only gotten higher. With tensions flaring around the globe, there can be no doubt as to the fitness of the man or woman in possession of U.S. nuclear codes.
Pundits and politicians alike have called for the amendment’s implementation over the past few months. But it is both practically and philosophically a tool of last resort. Unlike impeachment, which is controlled solely by Congress, the 25th Amendment requires action by the majority of the president’s Cabinet and potentially Congress. This means that even in today’s polarized climate, partisan removal is unlikely. In addition, the bar for diagnosing mental health conditions is quite high.
This is a deep dive into what would be required to invoke the amendment to rid the country of a dangerous president. I hope you’ll read the whole thing.
Today, Trump is off on a new tangent because he’s apparently worried about the Russia investigation again. It started yesterday with baseless attacks on former FBI Director James Comey and Hillary Clinton.
Today he actually accused the FBI of colluding with Russia and Clinton against him.
Those are all lies. Clinton did not sell uranium to Russia. Two people from Fusion GPS did take the 5th, because they have refused to accept the unilateral subpoena issued by Devin Nunes, who is supposedly recused from the Russia investigation. Natasha Bertrand at Business Insider: The founders of the firm behind the Trump Russia dossier appeared before the House Intel Committee and refused to testify.
The founders of the opposition-research firm that produced the dossier alleging ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia met behind closed doors with House Intel Committee staff on Wednesday and asserted their constitutional privileges not to testify.
The founders of Fusion GPS — Glenn Simpson, Thomas Catan, and Peter Fritsch — were required to appear before the committee by its chairman, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, who had subpoenaed them earlier this month.
Fusion’s counsel, Josh Levy, wrote a 17-page letter to Nunes earlier this week urging him not to force Simpson, Catan, and Fritsch to appear before the committee, because if they did they would have no choice but to assert their constitutional privileges not to testify.
“We cannot in good conscience do anything but advise our clients to stand on their constitutional privileges, the attorney work product doctrine and contractual obligations,” Levy wrote.
Nunes required them to appear anyway, prompting Levy to release a blistering statement accusing Nunes — who stepped aside from the committee’s Russia investigation in April but still has subpoena power — of abusing his power as chairman.
“No American should have to experience today’s indignity,” Levy wrote. “No American should be required to appear before Congress simply to invoke his constitutional privileges. But that is what Chairman Nunes did today with our clients at Fusion GPS, breaking with the practice of his committee in this investigation. The committee has not imposed this requirement on any other witness, including the president’s men.”
He added that the “disparate treatment and abuse of power” by Nunes was “unethical, according to the DC Bar rules.”
That Trump would accuse the FBI of conspiring with Russia against him is beyond belief. How can anyone doubt that this man is mentally incompetent?
I just noticed that George W. Bush gave a speech this morning that seems directed at the dangers of Trump’s presidency. Excerpts from The Hill:
Former President George W. Bush said Thursday that “bigotry seems emboldened” in the modern U.S.
“Discontent deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts,” he observed during a speech for the George W. Bush Institute. “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”
Bush also said that public confidence in the country’s institutions has declined in recent decades.
“Our governing class has often been paralyzed in the face of obvious and pressing needs. The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy,” he said.
There are signs, Bush said, that the intensity of support for democracy itself has “waned.”
Former President George W. Bush said Thursday that America should not downplay Russia’s attempts to meddle in the U.S. election.
“Our country must show resolve and resilience in the face of external attacks on our democracy,” Bush said in a speech sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute and others in New York. “And that begins with confronting a new era of cyberthreats.”
“America has experienced a sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions,” he said. “According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systemic and stealthy. It’s conducted a range of stealthy media platforms.”
“Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed,” he added. “But foreign aggressions, including cyberattacks, disinformation and financial influence should never be downplayed or tolerated.”
That Bush is speaking out seems like a good sign. Will Republicans in Washington DC listen?
That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?