Tuesday Reads: Rats are Abandoning Trump’s Sinking Ship and Leaking Like Crazy

Good Morning!!

Yesterday was quite a day. In the afternoon, it became abundantly clear that the rats are jumping off Trump’s sinking ship, competing to see who can be the first to leak dirt on the Dotard and his gang of miscreants. Here’s summary from CBS News: New revelations shed light on Trump-Ukraine call — live updates.

A series of rapid-fire developments brought the House impeachment inquiry into clearer focus Monday afternoon, with Democrats issuing new demands for evidence and new revelations about the circumstances of the president’s call with Ukraine coming to light.

Just before 4 p.m., three House committees announced they had subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, for documents related to his work on behalf of President Trump to persuade Ukraine to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. The committees also requested material about Giuliani’s work to secure Ukraine’s cooperation into a Justice Department review of the origins of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Shortly after the subpoena was announced, The Wall Street Journal reported Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July 25 call between the president and the Ukrainian leader. CBS News has confirmed Pompeo was on the call.

The New York Times reported Mr. Trump had called the prime minister of Australia to request assistance in the Justice Department review. The call came at the behest of Attorney General William Barr.

A Justice Department official then told CBS News that Barr had asked Mr. Trump to reach out to a number of foreign officials to request their assistance in his review, which is being led by the U.S. attorney in Connecticut. A source familiar with the matter said Barr traveled to Italy as part of his effort, and The Washington Post reported he has also reached out to intelligence officials in the United Kingdom.

In the call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, Mr. Trump repeatedly asked him to work with Barr to pursue a fringe conspiracy theory about the origins of the 2016 U.S. counterintelligence investigation that would became the Mueller probe.

But it wasn’t just Australia. At about 8:30 last night, The Washington Post reported: Barr personally asked foreign officials to aid inquiry into CIA, FBI activities in 2016.

Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter….

The direct involvement of the nation’s top law enforcement official shows the priority Barr places on the investigation being conducted by John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, who has been assigned the sensitive task of reviewing U.S. intelligence work surrounding the 2016 election and its aftermath.

The attorney general’s active role also underscores the degree to which a nearly three-year-old election still consumes significant resources and attention inside the federal government. Current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials expressed frustration and alarm Monday that the head of the Justice Department was taking such a direct role in reexamining what they view as conspiracy theories and baseless allegations of misconduct.

So far, we’ve learned that Barr and Trump sought help to discredit their own intelligence community from Australia, the UK, and Italy. What other countries have been approached? I imagine we’ll learn more soon. Keep in mind that this entire criminal enterprise is designed to help Vladimir Putin by discrediting the Mueller investigation and removing sanctions on Russia.

Elliot Hannon at Slate: Trump Is Now Enlisting Foreign Leaders to Discredit Russian Election Meddling on His Behalf.

It’s now abundantly clear that President Trump is actively deploying the resources of the U.S. government explicitly to bolster his chances of reelection in 2020. The recent whistleblower complaint revealed one part of the two-pronged strategy: leverage U.S. military aid to Ukraine to compel the Ukrainian government to dredge up old allegations on political rival Joe Biden. The second aspect of the Trump vindication-through-vilification reelection strategy has led Trump and his allies to investigate the investigation by Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election to try to muddy the water sufficiently that Trump looks clean by comparison—or by confusion. That effort is also being propelled by the power vested in the highest offices of the U.S. government, including, of course, the presidency. Yet another example, the New York Times reports, is a recent phone call made by President Trump to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking the foreign leader to assist Attorney General Bill Barr in the investigation of the Mueller investigation.

Will Trump get away with it? He is opening inciting violence against the whistleblower, Adam Schiff, and anyone else who tries to stand up to him. We don’t know yet what will happen, but history shows that politicians who mess with the CIA/FBI are playing with fire. I expect more drip drip drip revelations in the coming days.

Yesterday David Remnick at The New Yorker highlighted Trump’s unhinged attacks on anyone who tries to stand up to him:

Shortly after eight this morning, the President of the United States, making maximal use of his “executive time,” wielded his smartphone to issue a legal threat against the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. It is worth reading the missive from @realDonaldTrump in full:

“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?”

Were the collective nerve endings of the electorate not so frayed and numbed by now, we might be even more alive to the ugliness of this message from the White House. One of the consequences of the Trump Presidency is the way  that it constantly diminishes our expectations of anything other than hideous rhetoric and action. But there are those who are intensely aware of the potential consequences of such a threat. Sources close to Schiff told The New Yorker today that Democrats in Congress are deeply worried about the President using Twitter to incite violence and to direct it at specific members.

The threat to Schiff via Twitter came just a few days after the President, speaking at the United States Mission to the United Nations, said that whoever provided information to the whistle-blower about his July 25th telephone call with the President of Ukraine was “close to a spy.” Trump went on to wax nostalgic about how spies were dealt with “in the old days”—with the death penalty, in other words. “As soon as I heard that, I thought, He has the soul and the mind of an authoritarian,” Nicholas Burns, a former high-ranking diplomat who has served in Republican and Democratic Administrations, told me. “What other President in American history would say that?”

As Remnick points out, Trump’s violent threats against his “enemies” are nothing new and they are likely to get worse as the impeachment investigation continues.

This could be an ominous sign for Trump. The Washington Post: McConnell says if House impeaches Trump, Senate rules would force him to start a trial.

Should the impeachment spotlight turn to the Senate in the coming weeks, McConnell — who faces a reelection fight next year — will confront the dual pressures of minimizing political pain for his Senate majority and ensuring legitimacy and a sense of fairness for what would be only the third impeachment trial of a president in American history.

On Monday, McConnell said he was bound by existing Senate rules governing the impeachment and conviction process, amid speculation that he could simply ignore the specter of putting Trump on trial. Senior Republican aides had worked to try to tamp down that notion over the weekend.

“I would have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell said during a CNBC interview. “How long you’re on it is a whole different matter, but I would have no choice but to take it up, based on a Senate rule on impeachment.”

The Kentucky Republican — who hasn’t hesitated in the past to revise Senate rules to benefit Republicans, specifically the president’s judicial nominees — stressed he would not change them to aid Trump. That move would require the support of 67 senators, almost certainly an insurmountable threshold.

I’m waiting with bated breath to see what breaks today in this massive scandal that has now engulfed Trump, his personal attorney, his White House lawyers, his Secretary of State, and his Attorney General.

And what about the second whistleblower complaint that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal has been sitting on? Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post: There’s another whistleblower complaint. It’s about Trump’s tax returns.

An unnamed civil servant is alleging serious interference in government business. If the allegations are true, they could be a game-changer. They might set in motion the release of lots of other secret documents showing that President Trump has abused his authority for his personal benefit.

Wait, you thought I meantthe whistleblower from the intelligence community?

Nope. I’m talking about a completely different whistleblower, whose claims have gotten significantly less attention but could prove no less consequential. This whistleblower alleges a whole different category of impropriety: that someone has been secretly meddling with the Internal Revenue Service’s audit of the president.

In defiance of a half-century norm, Trump has kept his tax returns secret.

We don’t know exactly what he might be hiding. His bizarre behavior, though, suggests it’s really bad.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

More interesting reads, links only:

The New York Times Magazine: This Is the Moment Rachel Maddow Has Been Waiting For.

Miami Herald: ‘He conned us from day one’: Giuliani’s Ukraine ally leaves trail of South Florida debts.

David Enrich at The New York Times: Me and My Whistle-Blower.

Alex Pascal at The New York Times: Did the Trump White House Mishandle the Ukraine Call Memo?

Politico: Trump may have lied to Mueller, House Democrats say

The Los Angeles Times: Trump’s ‘favor’ and delay of U.S. aid weakened Ukraine in the fight against Russia.

Politico: Hillary Clinton says staying in her marriage was ‘gutsiest’ thing she’s ever done.

Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Tuesday!!


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! For the past couple of days, I’ve been having a lot of trouble keeping myself from getting down in the dumps about all the bad news. So I’m going to stay away from the depressing stuf again this morning–hope you all don’t mind. You can feel free to link to serious news in the comments, though.

Here’s some good news. Glenn Beck’s daily show is coming to an end sometime this year. If you want to hear Beck’s explanation, you can watch him on video here. I couldn’t face watching it, but here’s part of the transcript.

“When I took this job I didn’t take it because it was going to be a career for me,” Beck explained to his audience. “Paul Revere did not get up on the horse and say, ‘I’m going to do this for the rest of my life.’ He didn’t do it. He got off his horse at some point and fought in the revolution, and then he went back to silver-smithing.”

Beck said the truth was he never really wanted to do the Fox show. He said he turned it down when first offered because he “hated doing it at the other place,” a reference to his earlier TV show on Turner Broadcasting’s HLN network.

He said FNC, by comparison, is “sweeeeeet!”

Beck said he ultimately took on the daily Fox TV show because “I thought I had something important to share. I really thought if I could prove my case that something wicked this way was coming, something in America was wrong, America would listen. And they have. I’m surprised both the number that have, and haven’t, even withal the facts.”

Something is wrong in America, all right, and Beck is part of it. The NYT has more backstory (i.e., gossip).

The negotiations that led Glenn Beck to announce his departure from the Fox News Channel on Wednesday ended with an expression of “let’s part as friends,” according to several people with knowledge of the talks. But behind that moment was a torrent of acrimony that underscored just how fractious the relationship between Mr. Beck and the network had become during his three-year run on Fox.

[….]

unhappy from almost his first day on the job, which happened to be the day before Mr. Obama was inaugurated. Even in his first year, he was contemplating an exit from Fox and wondering if he could start his own channel.

Beck supporters presented a picture of constant sniping, planted stories about his declining ratings, and discomfort with his ability to build a career for himself outside the Fox News brand.

From Fox’s perspective, the facts about Mr. Beck’s run on the network have been public and indisputable. Among those were the refusal of hundreds of Fox advertisers to allow their commercials to be placed on Mr. Beck’s program, and a history of incendiary comments that attracted harsh backlash, including one where the host called President Obama a racist and another where he compared Reform Judaism to radical Islam. (He later apologized for both comments.)

Here’s some good news if you like strawberries. A new study shows that strawberries may help people with esophageal cancer. From the Wall Street Journal:

The study’s lead researcher, Tong Chen, an assistant professor in the oncology division of Ohio State University, presented the study at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting.

Esophageal cancer is the third most common gastrointestinal cancer and the sixth most frequent cause of cancer death in the world, Dr. Chen said.

[….]

The research team designed a small study in humans and approached the California Strawberry Commission, which agreed to fund the study and make available the freeze-dried strawberries. The commission is a state agency funded by the strawberry industry.

Dr. Chen’s team recruited 38 people in China who had mild-to-moderate dysplasia in the esophagus; 36 people completed the study. Biopsies of the esophagus were taken before and after the study. On average, patients were about 55 years old.

They were instructed to consume 30 grams of freeze-dried strawberries dissolved in a glass of water twice daily for a total of 60 grams a day for six months. Dr. Chen said the freeze-dried substance is about 10 times as concentrated as fresh strawberries, but suggested people could still benefit from eating whole strawberries on a daily basis.

Overall, the results showed 29 out of 36 participants experienced a decrease in histological grade of the precancerous lesion, or a slowing in the growth of the lesion during the study.

This is interesting from Raw Story: Fermi lab may have found new force of nature.

Data from a major US atom smasher lab may have revealed a new elementary particle, or potentially a new force of nature, one of the physicists involved in the discovery told AFP on Wednesday.

The physics world was abuzz with excitement over the findings, which could offer clues to the persistent riddle of mass and how objects obtain it — one of the most sought-after answers in all of physics.

But experts cautioned that more analysis was needed over the next several months to uncover the true nature of the discovery, which comes as part of an ongoing experiment with proton and antiproton collisions to understand the workings of the universe.

“There could be some new force beyond the force that we know,” said Giovanni Punzi, a physicist with the international research team that is analyzing the data from the US Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory…. [but] researchers agree that this is not the “God Particle,” or the Higgs-boson, a hypothetical elementary particle which has long eluded physicists who believe it could explain why objects have mass.

I think it’s good news that Hillary is still our Secretary of State. Today she told Gaddafi where to go after he sent a bizarre letter to President Obama.

“I think that Gaddafi knows what he must do. There needs to be a ceasefire. His forces need to withdraw from the cities that they have forcibly taken at great violence and human cost,” Clinton told reporters at a joint press conference with her Italian counterpart Franco Frattini.

“There needs to be a decision made about his departure from power and, his departure from Libya. So I don’t think there is any mystery about what is expected from Gaddafi at this time. That is an international assessment. And the sooner that occurs and the bloodshed ends, the better it will be for everyone,” Clinton said following her meeting with Frattini at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the state department.

Frattini said that a delegation form the African Union plans to visit Gaddafi and tell him it’s time to step down.

More good news: A priceless Gauguin painting has survived an attack by a patron at the National Gallery.

Screaming “This is evil,” a woman tried to pull Gauguin’s “Two Tahitian Women” from a gallery wall Friday and banged on the picture’s clear plastic covering, said Pamela Degotardi of New York, who was there.

“She was really pounding it with her fists,” Degotardi said. “It was like this weird surreal scene that one doesn’t expect at the National Gallery.”

Gallery spokeswoman Deborah Ziska said no damage to the 1899 painting was immediately apparent after the 4:45 p.m. incident. But she said a more thorough examination will be conducted Monday.

Have you ever seen a fisher cat? Actually they aren’t cats, but a member of the weasel family. Supposedly they have been seen in the area where I live. Some of my neighbors told me stories about them killing pets. These animals are really nasty and make a very creepy screeching sound.

Here’s some video of a fisher:

And a recording of a fisher screech:

Today there is a piece about fishers in the NYT: Do Fishers Really Eat Cats?

OK, this isn’t a good news story, but I like scary stuff so it appeals to me.


What are you reading and blogging about this morning? Don’t hold back!