Lazy Caturday Reads

Reading Sociology, by Kurt Solmssen

Reading Sociology, by Kurt Solmssen

Good Morning!!

I know this isn’t breaking news to any Sky Dancers, but it’s still the best news in a long time. Steve Bannon has been indicted for contempt of Congress. More good news: it appears that Merrick Garland actually is taking the insurrection seriously. From the DOJ statement issued yesterday:

Stephen K. Bannon was indicted today by a federal grand jury on two counts of contempt of Congress stemming from his failure to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.

Bannon, 67, is charged with one contempt count involving his refusal to appear for a deposition and another involving his refusal to produce documents, despite a subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol. An arraignment date has not yet been set in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today’s charges reflect the department’s steadfast commitment to these principles.”

Katie Benner and Luke Broadwater at The New York Times: Bannon Indicted on Contempt Charges Over House’s Capitol Riot Inquiry.

A Justice Department spokesman said Mr. Bannon was expected to turn himself in to authorities on Monday, and make his first appearance in Federal District Court in Washington later that day.

A lawyer for Mr. Bannon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The politically and legally complex case was widely seen as a litmus test for whether the Justice Department would take an aggressive stance against one of Mr. Trump’s top allies as the House seeks to develop a fuller picture of the actions of the former president and his aides and advisers before and during the attack on the Capitol.

At a time of deep political polarization, the Biden Justice Department now finds itself prosecuting a top adviser to the previous president of another party in relation to an extraordinary attack by Mr. Trump’s supporters on a fundamental element of democracy, the peaceful transfer of power….

After the referral from the House in Mr. Bannon’s case, F.B.I. agents in the Washington field office investigated the matter. Career prosecutors in the public integrity unit of the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington determined that it would be appropriate to charge Mr. Bannon with two counts of contempt, and a person familiar with the deliberations said they received the full support of Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

White cat at an open window’, 1855 - Jacobus van Looy

White cat at an open window’, 1855 – Jacobus van Looy

The indictment of Bannon serves as a warning to other Trump goons who have refused to testify before the House January 6 committee.

The charges against Mr. Bannon come as the committee is considering criminal contempt referrals against two other allies of Mr. Trump who have refused to comply with its subpoenas: Mr. Meadows and Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official who participated in Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“Steve Bannon’s indictment should send a clear message to anyone who thinks they can ignore the select committee or try to stonewall our investigation: No one is above the law,” the leaders of the panel, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, said in a statement. “We will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to get the information we need.”

Earlier they had released another blistering statement after Mr. Meadows failed to appear to answer questions at a scheduled deposition. Mr. Meadows’s lawyer, George J. Terwilliger III, informed the committee that his client felt “duty bound” to follow Mr. Trump’s instructions to defy the committee, citing executive privilege.

“Mr. Meadows’s actions today — choosing to defy the law — will force the select committee to consider pursuing contempt or other proceedings to enforce the subpoena,” Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney said.

They said Mr. Meadows refused to answer even basic questions, such as whether he was using a private cellphone to communicate on Jan. 6, and the location of his text messages from that day.

Aaron Blake at The Washington Post: The big warning signal Stephen Bannon’s indictment sends.

For more than two years, the Democratic-controlled House struggled to obtain crucial testimony from Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn in its Russia investigation. When he declined to submit to a subpoena, they fought it out in court. By the time an agreement was reached for McGahn to testify this year, Donald Trump was no longer in the White House, and the Russia issue had faded in both import and memories. McGahn said frequently in his testimony that he no longer fully recalled important episodes….

This time, though, the House and its select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob took a very different tack. And it resulted in both a legally and practically significant result.

Rather than try to get a court to make former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon testify, the Jan. 6 committee instead moved quickly to recommend he be held in contempt of Congress. That put the decision into the hands of the Justice Department, which would need to decide whether to file criminal charges. But it would at least be quicker.

On Friday, this approach — an extraordinary gambit necessitated by an extraordinary effort to stymie investigators for most of the past five years — led to an extraordinary outcome: Bannon has been indicted by a federal grand jury, making him the first person charged with contempt of Congress since 1983.

Black cat on the front porch, by Bonnie Mason

Black cat on the front porch, by Bonnie Mason

While an indictment is significant — it’s actually the second time Bannon has been indicted in fewer than 15 months, with the first earning a preemptive Trump pardon — the move is less punitive than it is precedent-setting.

Other witnesses, including former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who are also resisting cooperation with the inquiry, now have to contend with the prospect of potential criminal charges….an indictment is a bell that can’t be un-rung. Those like Meadows might defy the subpoenas in the hope of some kind of accommodation — perhaps allowing them to withhold a certain part of their testimony or documents that have been requested. Bannon’s indictment serves notice that the Jan. 6 committee can threaten to play hardball, with plenty to back it up….

Bannon and Meadows are among the first against whom this could even be deployed. Theirs were among the first batch of subpoenas, along with White House communications aide Dan Scavino and national security aide Kashyap Patel. In other words, plenty of others will now have very important decisions to make. Another big one will be Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, who spearheaded the effort to get his department to legitimize Trump’s false stolen-election claims.

Down in Georgia, Fulton County DA may be gearing up to impanel a Grand Jury to investigate Donald Trump for his efforts to overturn election results in the state. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Fulton DA mulling rarely used special grand jury for Trump probe.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is likely to impanel a special grand jury to support her probe of former President Donald Trump, a move that could aid prosecutors in what’s expected to be a complicated and drawn-out investigative process.

A person with direct knowledge of the discussions confirmed the development to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saying the move could be imminent.

Some legal observers viewed the news, first reported by the New York Times, as a sign that the probe is entering a new phase.

“My interpretation is that she’s gotten as far as she can interviewing witnesses and dealing with people who are cooperating by producing documents voluntarily,” former Gwinnett County DA Danny Porter said of Willis. “She needs the muscle. She needs the subpoena power.”

Deborah Dewit, Birdwatching

Deborah Dewit, Birdwatching

Special grand juries are rarely used but could be a valuable tool for Willis as she takes the unprecedented step of investigating the conduct of a former president while he was in office.

Her probe, launched in February, is centered on the Jan. 2 phone call Trump placed to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he urged the Republican to “find” the votes to reverse Joe Biden’s win in Georgia last November. The veteran prosecutor previously told Gov. Brian Kemp, Raffensperger and other state officials that her office would be probing potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, intentional interference with the performance of election duties, conspiracy and racketeering, among others.

The investigation could also include Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who promoted lies about election fraud in a state legislative hearing; and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who was accused by Raffensperger of urging him to toss mail-in ballots in certain counties. Both men have denied wrongdoing.

In other news, another Congressional committee is investigating efforts by the Trump administration to downplay the coronavirus pandemic. The Washington Post: Messonnier, Birx detail political interference in last year’s coronavirus response.

The Trump administration repeatedly interfered with efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year to issue warnings and guidance about the evolving coronavirus pandemic, six current and former health officials told congressional investigators in recent interviews.

One of those officials, former CDC senior health expert Nancy Messonnier, warned in a Feb. 25, 2020, news briefing that the virus’s spread in the United States was inevitable — a statement that prompted anger from President Donald Trump and led to the agency’s media appearances being curtailed, according to interview excerpts and other documents released Friday by the House select subcommittee on the pandemic.

The new information, including statements from former White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx, confirms prior reporting and offers additional detail on how the pandemic response unfolded at the highest levels of government.

“Our intention was certainly to get the public’s attention about the likelihood … that it was going to spread and that we thought that there was a high risk that it would be disruptive,” Messonnier told the panel in an Oct. 8 interview. But her public warning led to private reprimands, including from then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, she said….

Anne Schuchat, who served as the CDC’s No. 2 official before retiring this year, also depicted chaotic efforts to control the government’s messages in those early months, telling the panel that Trump officials scrambled to schedule a briefing several hours after Messonnier’s public warning, even though “there was nothing new to report.”

Cat's Siesta, Ksenia Yarovaya

Cat’s Siesta, Ksenia Yarovaya

Schuchat joined Trump and other officials for a briefing the very next day,where Trump insisted that the pandemic’s spreadto the United States was not “inevitable,” even as Schuchat tried to warn Americans to prepare for “more cases.” [….]

Other officials detailed why the CDC held no news briefings between March 9 and May 29, 2020, in the earliest days of the pandemic, effectively muzzling the scientific agency as the coronavirus spread rapidly across the United States.

Kate Galatas, a senior CDC communications official, told the panel that the White House repeatedly blocked the agency’s media requests, including a planned April 2020 briefing that she said would have addressed the importance of wearing face coverings to contain the virus’s spread.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

I’ll end with this article at The New York Times addresses the alarming number of violent threats against public figures we are seeing in U.S.: Menace Enters the Republican Mainstream.

At a conservative rally in western Idaho last month, a young man stepped up to a microphone to ask when he could start killing Democrats.

“When do we get to use the guns?” he said as the audience applauded. “How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?” The local state representative, a Republican, later called it a “fair” question.

In Ohio, the leading candidate in the Republican primary for Senate blasted out a video urging Republicans to resist the “tyranny” of a federal government that pushed them to wear masks and take F.D.A.-authorized vaccines.

“When the Gestapo show up at your front door,” the candidate, Josh Mandel, a grandson of Holocaust survivors, said in the video in September, “you know what to do.”

And in Congress, violent threats against lawmakers are on track to double this year. Republicans who break party ranks and defy former President Donald J. Trump have come to expect insults, invective and death threats — often stoked by their own colleagues and conservative activists, who have denounced them as traitors.

From congressional offices to community meeting rooms, threats of violence are becoming commonplace among a significant segment of the Republican Party. Ten months after rioters attacked the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, and after four years of a president who often spoke in violent terms about his adversaries, right-wing Republicans are talking more openly and frequently about the use of force as justifiable in opposition to those who dislodged him from power.

Click the link to read the rest.

What do you think? What stories are you following today?


Lazy Caturday Reads: Investigating The January 6 Insurrection and Trump’s Attempted Coup

5-Mädchen-mit-Katze-1956-Otto-Dix

Mädchen mit Katze, 1956, by Otto-Dix

Good Morning!!

There is a great deal of news today about the January 6 Capitol insurrection and the House committee’s investigation of what happened. 

First up: if you didn’t think Trump and his gang were trying to organize a serious coup attempt, you need to read this stunning article at The Washington Post: Ahead of Jan. 6, Willard hotel in downtown D.C. was a Trump team ‘command center’ for effort to deny Biden the presidency

They called it the “command center,” a set of rooms and suites in the posh Willard hotel a block from the White House where some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenants were working day and night with one goal in mind: overturning the results of the 2020 election.

The Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse and the ensuing attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob would draw the world’s attention to the quest to physically block Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s victory. But the activities at the Willard that week add to an emerging picture of a less visible effort, mapped out in memos by a conservative pro-Trump legal scholar and pursued by a team of presidential advisers and lawyers seeking to pull off what they claim was a legal strategy to reinstate Trump for a second term.

They were led by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. Former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon was an occasional presence as the effort’s senior political adviser. Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik was there as an investigator. Also present was John Eastman, the scholar, who outlined scenarios for denying Biden the presidency in an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4 with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

They sought to make the case to Pence and ramp up pressure on him to take actions on Jan. 6 that Eastman suggested were within his powers, three people familiar with the operation said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. Their activities included finding and publicizing alleged evidence of fraud, urging members of state legislatures to challenge Biden’s victory and calling on the Trump-supporting public to press Republican officials in key states.

The effort underscores the extent to which Trump and a handful of true believers were working until the last possible moment to subvert the will of the voters, seeking to pressure Pence to delay or even block certification of the election, leveraging any possible constitutional loophole to test the boundaries of American democracy.

Here’s what these coup-organizers were doing:

Kaate Diehn-Bitt, Peter Paul Diehn with cat

Kaate Diehn-Bitt, Peter Paul Diehn with cat

The three people familiar with the operation described intense work in the days and hours leading up to and even extending beyond 1 p.m. on Jan 6, when Congress convened for the counting of electoral votes.

In those first days in January, from the command center, Trump allies were calling members of Republican-dominated legislatures in swing states that Eastman had spotlighted in his memos, including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, encouraging them to convene special sessions to investigate fraud and to reassign electoral college votes from Biden to Trump, two of the people familiar with the operation said.

On Jan. 2, Trump, Giuliani and Eastman spoke to 300 state legislators via a conference call meant to arm them with purported evidence of fraud and galvanize them to take action to “decertify” their election results. “You are the real power,” Trump told the state lawmakers, according to a Washington Examiner report. “You’re the ones that are going to make the decision.”

The goal was to convince these state lawmakers to work to decertify the election results in their states and to try to convince Mike Pence to delay certification of the electoral college results to give these insurrectionist legislators time to convince their colleagues to overthrow the election results. And Bannon was involved in these efforts.

Also on Jan. 2, Eastman, Giuliani and Epshteyn appeared on Bannon’s podcast to make the case directly to Bannon’s pro-Trump listeners. They discussed what Bannon called that day’s “all-hands meeting with state . . . legislators that the Trump campaign and also others are putting on.” The comments were first highlighted by Proof.

They argued that state lawmakers were legally bound to reexamine their election results. “It’s the duty of these legislatures to fix this, this egregious conduct, and make sure that we’re not putting in the White House some guy that didn’t get elected,” Eastman said. He contended that Congress could itself decide on Jan. 6 to select Trump electors in contested states, but that “it would certainly be helped immensely if the legislatures in the states looked at what happened in their own states and weigh in.”

I hope you’ll go read the rest. Every sentence in the article is important.

Will Bannon pay a price for his involvement in the coup attempt? That will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland. Former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman writes: Don’t be too sure about the Justice Department’s ‘duty’ to indict Bannon.

Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland has a far more complicated decision coming his way than people realize.

The Department of Justice, in the person of the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, has received a referral from the House of Representatives to bring criminal contempt charges against Stephen K. Bannon, who has refused to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6.

Two Cats, Franz Marc

Two Cats, by Franz Marc

The righteousness of the referral is not in doubt. There is every reason to think Bannon has important first-hand information about the planning of the Capitol attack. After all, he crowed the night before on his podcast: “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow…. Strap in.”

In addition, as the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), emphasized Tuesday, there is strong reason to think Bannon knows if and how Trump was “personally involved” in the Jan. 6 attack. No matter is more important for Congress to probe or for the American public to understand.

As for Bannon’s thumbing his nose at a subpoena, it could not be a more flagrant or a more contemptuous violation of the law.

Enforcing the subpoena “should be a slam dunk,” Littman writes, “But it isn’t.” According to Littman, there are several Office of Legal Counsel memos that will impact Garland’s actions. One decision is that the DOJ is not required to enforce subpoenas on members of the executive branch–the AG makes the decision. Other OLC memos address the issue of White House officials and executive privilege. I’m not sure I understand this, because Bannon was not a White House official when all this was happening–even when he was in the White House, he was only a political adviser. Furthermore, Trump is no longer president and how can he invoke executive privilege over planning for a coup? Littman writes:

There is a way for Garland to square the circle. The Office of Legal Counsel’s memo that has precluded pursuit of criminal contempt charges was based on cases in which the department issued legal opinions that the assertions of privilege were proper.

Bannon’s suggestion that the subpoenaed documents and communications are properly covered by executive privilege is spurious at best. First, there’s the fact that Trump hasn’t actually asserted the privilege. On top of that, the select committee’s subpoena involves events that happened years after Bannon left the executive branch; it’s ridiculous to say the relevant testimony and documents must be kept secret to ensure that presidents can freely do the country’s business.

Finally, even if Bannon had a sound claim to executive privilege, Congress’ and the public’s need to know the information covered by the subpoena is paramount, and that factor should prevail. (Likewise, public interest trumped Nixon’s claim to privacy in the 1977 Supreme Court case, which was about the disposition of the disgraced president’s papers.)

More January 6 committee news:

CNN: Former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, who pushed baseless election fraud claims, expected to testify before January 6 committee.

The House select committee investigating the US Capitol insurrection is planning for former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark to testify next Friday — teeing him up to be the first Trump administration official to comply with a subpoena for an interview with the panel, two sources familiar with the committee’s inquiry told CNN.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Girl with Cat

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Girl with Cat

Clark’s testimony could be a major step forward for Democrats as they attempt to determine what former President Donald Trump, Republican members of Congress and his advisers did and said behind closed doors about overturning the results of the 2020 election before January 6.

CNN has also learned that Alyssa Farah, former director of strategic communications in the Trump White House and assistant to the president, has voluntarily met with Republicans on the House select committee and provided information in several meetings, according sources familiar with the matter. There are two Republicans on the committee — Vice Chair Liz Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

The panel has been talking to an ever-widening circle of witnesses as part of its sprawling investigation — and testimony from Farah in addition to Clark would give the panel a crucial new level of insight into Trump’s thinking after the election….

After the deadly January 6 insurrection, Farah told CNN that Trump lied to the American people about the 2020 presidential election results and said that he should “seriously consider” resigning from office.

Clark emerged in the last week of 2020 as a central player in Trump’s two-month-long effort to overturn the vote in key states — and as one of the officials who was in direct contact with Trump.

While serving as the acting head of civil cases at the Justice Department at the end of the Trump presidency, Clark floated plans to give Georgia’s legislature and other states backing to undermine the popular vote results. He gave credence to unfounded conspiracy theories of voter fraud, according to documents from the Justice Department, and communicated with Trump about becoming the attorney general, a Senate investigation found this month.

The extent of Clark’s talks with Trump in the days before January 6 aren’t yet publicly known. The committee subpoenaed Clark for testimony and documents last week.

Did Clark decide to testify because he feared being referred for criminal contempt along with Bannon?

Also from CNN: House investigators target the money trail behind January 6 rally.

The House select committee is setting its sights on the financing behind events and people associated with January 6, CNN has learned, including money that funded pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rallies that preceded the attack on the Capitol that day, in an effort to determine whether any election law violations or financial crimes took place.

Franz Marc, Girl with Cat, 1910

Franz Marc, Girl with Cat, 1910

The Democratic-led panel is focused in part on understanding how event organizers and vendors were paid, and how the two rallies were funded, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation, including some who have been interviewed by the committee. Investigators also want to know if any funding came from domestic extremists or foreign sources, sources say.

As the committee moves forward with its sweeping probe of January 6, among the many new details CNN has learned is that the committee has divided its work into at least five investigative teams, each with their own color designation.

The ‘green’ team, for example, is tasked with tracking money, including the funding behind the rallies, as well as untangling the complex web of financial ties between rally organizers and entities affiliated with former President Donald Trump or his campaign, according to multiple sources.

Some of the other teams such as the “red” “blue” and “gold” teams are examining everything from the motivation of participants, whether there was coordination between groups, and whether Trump used his executive authority to pressure lawmakers, former Vice President Mike Pence and the Justice Department, according to the sources familiar with the committee’s work.

“As Rep. Liz Cheney said the other night, it’s very likely that Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6 and these money trails can help adduce additional proof of that,” CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen said. Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, is vice chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.

I’ll post more interesting links in the comment thread. Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!!


Tuesday Reads: The News Is Surreal

ridget Bate Tichenor, Untitled

Bridget Bate Tichenor, Untitled

Good Morning!!

Today the House January 6 Committee will vote to find Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress, and Trump has of course filed a lawsuit to prevent them getting documents related to his attempted coup. The Washington Post reports:

A House committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection is moving swiftly Tuesday to hold at least one of Donald Trump’s allies in contempt as the former president is pushing back on the probe in a new lawsuit.

Trump is aggressively trying to block the committee’s work by directing former White House aide Steve Bannon not to answer questions in the probe while also suing the panel to try to prevent Congress from obtaining former White House documents. But lawmakers on the House committee say they will not back down as they gather facts and testimony about the attack involving Trump’s supporters that left dozens of police officers injured, sent lawmakers running for their lives and interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

“The former president’s clear objective is to stop the Select Committee from getting to the facts about January 6th and his lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our probe,” said Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the panel’s vice chairwoman, in a joint statement late Monday.

They added: “It’s hard to imagine a more compelling public interest than trying to get answers about an attack on our democracy and an attempt to overturn the results of an election.” [….]

The legal challenge came a day before the panel is scheduled to vote to recommend that Bannon be held in criminal contempt of Congress for his defiance of the committee’s demands for documents and testimony. In a resolution released Monday, and scheduled to be voted out of the panel on Tuesday, the committee asserts that the former Trump aide and podcast host has no legal standing to rebuff the committee — even as Trump’s lawyer has argued that Bannon should not disclose information because it is protected by the privilege of the former president’s office.

On the Bannon contempt vote:

Bannon was a private citizen when he spoke to Trump ahead of the attack, the committee said, and Trump has not asserted any such executive privilege claims to the panel itself.

Koga-Harue-Umi-The-Sea, 1929

Koga Harue Umi, The Sea, 1929

“Mr. Bannon appears to have played a multi-faceted role in the events of January 6th, and the American people are entitled to hear his first-hand testimony regarding his actions,” the committee wrote in the resolution.

The resolution lists many ways in which Bannon was involved in the leadup to the insurrection, including reports that he encouraged Trump to focus on Jan. 6, the day Congress certified the presidential vote, and his comments on Jan. 5 that “all hell is going to break loose” the next day.

Once the committee votes on the Bannon contempt measure, it will go to the full House for a vote and then on to the Justice Department, which would decide whether to prosecute.

Trump has also found time to weigh in on Colin Powell’s death. The Hill: Trump criticizes media for treating Powell ‘beautifully’ in death.

Former President Trump lambasted the media on Tuesday for what he said was too-favorable coverage of former Secretary of State Colin Powell after his death on Monday.

“Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday,” Trump said in a statement.

Trump called Powell “a classic RINO,” an acronym for “Republican in name only.”

“He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!” Trump added.

Classy.

Trump also attacked Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy. The Hill: Trump goes after Cassidy after senator says he wouldn’t support him for president in 2024.

Former President Trump blasted Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on Monday after the senator said in an interview he would not vote for the real estate mogul if he ran for president again in 2024.

Cassidy during an interview that aired Sunday on “Axios on HBO” said that he did not believe Trump would be the GOP presidential nominee again.

“President Trump is the first president, in the Republican side at least, to lose the House, the Senate and the presidency in four years. Elections are about winning,” Cassidy told Axios’s Mike Allen….

In a statement on Monday, Trump called Cassidy a “RINO,” an acronym for “Republican in name only,” and reiterated a notion he had hoisted on other Republicans that Cassidy had “begged” for his endorsement in 2020 “and used it all over the place to win re-election.”

Eugenio-Granell-El-vuelo-nocturno-del-pajaro-Pi-The-Pi-Birds-Night-Flight

Eugenio Granell The Pi Birds Night Flight

“Now, Wacky Bill Cassidy can’t walk down the street in Louisiana, a State I won by almost 20 points,” the Trump statement read. “He could not even be elected dog catcher today, the great people curse him.”

Trump did defeat President Biden by nearly 20 points in 2020 in Louisiana, winning about 58.5 percent of the vote. Cassidy did even better, winning 59.3 percent of the vote.

“Wacky Bill is a totally ineffective Senator, but Louisiana does have a great Senator in John Kennedy,” Trump said, referring to the state’s other GOP senator, whom he endorsed over the summer soon after Kennedy indicated he would run for reelection.

Cassidy was among the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, though Trump was ultimately acquitted after leaving office later that month.

It’s still very difficult for me to believe that this moron was actually president.

According to historians Thomas Lecaque and J.L. Tomlin at The Bulwark, Bannon is setting the stage for another insurrection: Steve Bannon Out in the Open. The erstwhile Trump adviser is refusing to talk to the Jan. 6 committee, but most of his energetic anti-democratic activities are in plain sight.

…Bannon’s troubling activities did not stop after January 6. Far from it. He is still out in the streets, at rallies, on conference calls, and on his podcast trumpeting it to the heavens: The insurrection isn’t over, it’s only just begun.

On September 22, the day before the committee issued its subpoena, Bannon more or less confirmed his involvement with January 6th. He has continued to push the idea that the Biden administration is illegitimate—“We told you from the very beginning, just expose it, just expose it, never back down, never give up and this thing will implode”—and said that he wanted to help “kill this [Biden] administration in the crib.”

Bannon is neither hiding nor defensively trying to justify his past actions. Rather, he is continuing to push the Big Lie and all of its permutations, tying together a web of far-right ideas and allies. Like most good propagandists, he knows that the veil between fact and belief is very thin in a highly partisan political environment. What pushes an overt lie into semi-gospel is sometimes merely it’s repetition. Bannon’s podcast, “War Room,” continues to promote conspiracy theories about the 2020 election—the day after his subpoena running a segment titled “50k Illegal Ballots in One County Alone.” His guests have included Trumpist members of Congress, like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene; conspiracy theorists Jack Posobiec and Mike Lindell; anti-vaxers; and other subpoenaed Trump administration figures. Topics run the gamut from the border to the debt ceiling to “how schools are indoctrinating kids” to “the battle of Lepanto” (sure to appeal to far-right Crusade-cosplaying insurrectionists and mass murderers alike). Perhaps most provokingly given his subpoena defiance, an episode on October 13 was entitled “The Continued Search for the Truth of January 6th.”

f Bannon were only a podcaster, were only pushing his ideas on one of the many far-right channels that have popped up in the last half-decade, that would be bad enough. But Bannon is incredibly active in person as well—a natural organizer and demagogue. It’s worth taking a look at just three of the events at which he has recently spoken.

Read all the details at the link.

Skunder-Boghossian-Night-Flight-of-Dread-and-Delight

Skunder Boghossian, Night Flight of Dread and Delight

At the Washington Post, authoritarianism expert Brian Klaas wrote about the history of election audits: Opinion: Republican ‘election audits’ have been used before — by dictators.

Donald Trump continues to falsely claim that he won the 2020 election, and his supporters in the Republican Party are continuing with kangaroo “audits” in swing states that Trump lost. For Americans, this is a bizarre sideshow. But for those who have had the misfortune of living in an authoritarian country, the GOP’s “audit” charade follows an all-too-familiar script.

Five years ago, Gambia’s dictator unexpectedly lost an election. Yahya Jammeh, who had pledged to rule that little sliver of West Africa for “1 billion years,” had to face facts. His people had rejected him. His opponent had won. But then he had an idea. Perhaps he could stay in power if he performed a careful “audit” of the election results.

Jammeh alleged widespread fraud without evidence to support it. He submitted a formal petition, saying that the electoral commission had “failed to properly collate the results.” He refused to leave power. Similar tactics have recently been tried elsewhere, from Guyana to Zambia.

Dictators around the world know how it’s done. Never accept defeat. Fight the results, no matter what the evidence says. After all, the electoral commissioner in these countries is often a pliant crony from the same party who might cave to the pressure. (I once interviewed a senior election official in Madagascar who opened an envelope hand-delivered to her home address. Instead of a note, it contained three bullets).

If despots lose power despite their bluster and threats, they are always sure to continue alleging fraud to delegitimize their successor in the eyes of their supporters. It’s a final poisoned parting gift, one last opportunity to damage and divide the country.

Trump’s Republican Party seems to have been taking notes.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

TRIGGER WARNING I’m going to end with a surreal story about violence against women. You’ve probably heard about this horrific case, but its even worse than first reported. AP via Yahoo News: Train riders held up phones as woman was raped, police say.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man charged with raping a woman on a commuter train just outside of Philadelphia harassed her for more than 40 minutes while multiple people held up their phones to seemingly record the assault without intervening, authorities said.

More than two dozen train stops passed as the man harassed, groped and eventually raped the woman, the police chief for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said at a news conference Monday.

Police do not believe a single witness on the train dialed 911. They are investigating whether some bystanders filmed the assault.

Both the man and woman got on the train at the same stop Wednesday night in North Philadelphia. Officers pulled the man off of the woman at the last stop. They responded within about three minutes of a 911 call from a transportation authority employee, authorities said.

“What we want is everyone to be angry and disgusted and to be resolute about making the system safer,” SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III said at the news conference.

Arrest records show Fiston Ngoy, 35, was charged with rape and related offenses.

The affidavit of arrest for Ngoy detailed times of the assault, including that during those 40 minutes the woman appears to repeatedly push Ngoy away.

Nestel would not give an approximate number of witnesses and it was unclear from the affidavit how many passengers were present for those 40 minutes. Authorities have not released the surveillance video.

“I can tell you that people were holding their phone up in the direction of this woman being attacked,” he said.

Police said that anyone who recorded the attack on video could possibly be charged. More details on what happened at the link.

It feels as if this country has gone crazy. As always, this is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads

Spooked, by Chiakiro

Spooked, by Chiakiro

Good Morning!!

Bill Clinton is still in a California hospital being treated for a urological infection that got into his bloodstream. The Guardian: Bill Clinton to remain in hospital as he recovers from urological infection.

The former US president Bill Clinton’s health is improving but he will remain in a California hospital for at least another night to receive antibiotics intravenously for a urological infection that spread to his bloodstream, his spokesperson said on Friday.

The 75-year-old Clinton, who served as president from 1993 to 2001, entered the University of California, Irvine, medical center on Tuesday evening after suffering from fatigue. He spoke with Joe Biden on Friday.

Clinton’s spokesperson Angel Ureña said that Clinton’s white blood count has decreased, indicating his health is improving.

“All health indicators are trending in the right direction, including his white blood count which was decreased significantly,” Ureña said on Twitter. “In order to receive further IV antibiotics, he will remain in the hospital overnight.”

Since his admission to the intensive care unit at the hospital, Clinton has received fluids along with antibiotics, his doctors said.

His wife, a former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, was at the hospital on Thursday and Friday, and the two read books and talked about politics, Ureña told Reuters.

It remained unclear when Clinton would be released.

Biden said Clinton would likely go home soon, though it was not clear whether he would be released on Saturday or later.

“He is getting out shortly. … Whether that’s tomorrow or the next day, I don’t know,” Biden told reporters in Connecticut. “He’s doing fine. He really is.”

aldemir-martins-gato-verde-acrilica-sobre-tela-14335

Aldemir Martins, Gato Verde (Green Cat)

NBC News has an explainer on the infection Clinton is fighting: What led to Bill Clinton’s hospitalization? Warning signs of the common infection.

The urologic infection that a source close to Bill Clinton says led to the former president’s hospitalization is common in older individuals and can be serious, experts say.

But when treated in a timely manner, the prognosis for such cases is excellent….

A source close to Clinton told NBC News that his initial diagnosis was a urologic infection that morphed into a broader infection.

While little else was immediately revealed about Clinton’s condition, including whether it originated in his urinary tract or elsewhere in the urinary system, experts who were not involved in his care said such spread of infection can be life-threatening without prompt medical attention.

“This is not uncommon. This is something we frequently treat in the emergency room, where somebody comes in with a urinary tract infection,” NBC News senior medical correspondent Dr. John Torres said Friday on the “TODAY” show. “Especially as they get older, their body is not able to contain that, so it moves from the urinary tract, from the bladder and the kidneys, into the bloodstream.”

At that point, Torres said, a patient is at risk of sepsis — a dangerous overdrive of the immune system in response to an infection — or septic shock, when organs start to fail.

Doctors must keep a close eye on these patients to make sure the strong antibiotics they are treating them with are lowering their white blood cell counts, which would indicate the infection is getting under control, said Dr. Ash Tewari, a urologist and prostate cancer specialist at Mount Sinai in New York.

Doctors will also work to identify any underlying conditions that may have led to the infection in the first place: a blockage, a kidney stone, even diabetes, Tewari said. Sometimes, procedures are necessary to prevent future recurrences.

More info at the NBC link.

Incatneato, by Jeff Haynie

Incatneato, by Jeff Haynie

This is a horrific story from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. That’s the backwoods part of the state Dakinikat has told us about. Raw Story: Three children attacked a Black woman. A sheriff’s deputy arrived — and beat her more.

The Jefferson Parish Shraeriff’s Office is investigating a deputy accused of holding a Black woman by her hair and slamming her head repeatedly into the pavement with such force that a witness to the Sept. 20 incident said it ripped several of Shantel Arnold’s braids from her scalp. A 14-second video captured the incident in the New Orleans suburb where, for decades, Black residents have accused the Sheriff’s Office of targeting them.

It was the second time that hour that Arnold had been assaulted. By the time the deputies arrived, she said she had already fended off an attack by some local boys.

In an interview, the 34-year-old Arnold, who has not been previously identified, told the news organizations she had needed the police’s protection. But protection is not what she got.

The video begins with a sheriff’s deputy seen holding the wrist of Arnold, who is lying on her back on the sidewalk. The deputy appears to be dragging her along the pavement. The deputy then grabs Arnold’s arm with his other hand and jerks her upward, lifting her body off the ground. They briefly disappear behind a parked white vehicle. When they come back into view, the deputy is holding Arnold by her braids, slamming her repeatedly onto the cement. At one point, he whips her down so violently her body spins around and flips over.

The footage ends as the deputy crouches down and places a knee onto Arnold’s back.

Arnold is only 4 feet eight inches tall and weighs about 100 pounds.

The incident started around 2 p.m. on Sept. 20 when Arnold was attacked by three boys as she was walking down the street near her family’s trailer home. At 4-foot-8 and about 100 pounds, her left eye missing from a car accident years earlier, Arnold regularly made an easy target for the neighborhood bullies, her family said.

During the attack, which lasted several minutes and was captured in a cellphone video, the boys slammed Arnold to the ground and beat her while a crowd watched and laughed. She tried to defend herself with a stick, which is visible in the video. The assault ended only after 71-year-old Lionel Gray, whom Arnold considers her stepfather, chased the boys away.

Disheveled and covered in dirt, Arnold stumbled down the road toward her home when an unidentified sheriff’s deputy rolled up beside her in his patrol car.

There’s more at the link. ProPublica has an expose on Jefferson Parish’s history of brutal racism: “They Saw Me and Thought the Worst.” For years, Black residents of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, have voiced complaints about abuses and a lack of accountability within its Sheriff’s Office.

remedios varo

Painting by Remedios Varo

At the New York times, another tale of government racism and crumbling infrastructure from Michigan: More Lead-Tainted Water in Michigan Draws Attention to Nation’s Aging Pipes.

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — During the three years that officials have known about dangerous amounts of lead flowing from faucets in Benton Harbor, Mich., they have sent out notices, distributed filters and tried to improve water treatment. But the problems persisted, and some residents said they never heard about the risks of the toxic water coming from their taps.

Now, in scenes reminiscent of the water crisis in Flint, Mich., state officials have told Benton Harbor residents not to drink, cook or brush their teeth with tap water. Elected officials came to town Thursday promising help. And so many cars have turned out for bottled water giveaways that traffic has been snarled, a rarity in a place with 9,100 residents.

“It’s horrible to watch, to see my city like this,” Rosetta Valentine, 63, said as she directed traffic at a water distribution site where some people lined up nearly an hour before the event started.

Residents of Benton Harbor see parallels between their plight and the water crisis that unfolded less than three hours up the highway in Flint, also a majority-Black city, where a change in the water source in 2014 led to residents drinking contaminated water despite repeated assurances that it was safe. In Benton Harbor, where thousands of homes are connected to the water system by lead pipes, efforts to bring down problematic lead readings by using corrosion controls have so far failed, and officials have recently grown concerned that lead-removing filters given to residents since 2019 might not work.

The problems in Benton Harbor and Flint are extreme examples of a broader, national failure of water infrastructure that experts say requires massive and immediate investment to solve. Across the country, in cities like ChicagoPittsburgh and Clarksburg, W.Va., Americans are drinking dangerous quantities of brain-damaging lead as agencies struggle to modernize water treatment plants and launch efforts to replace the lead service lines that connect buildings to the water system. Health officials say there is no safe level of lead exposure.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Graceful Beauty, by Hans Ruettimann

Graceful Beauty, by Hans Ruettimann

Here’s some revenge porn for us Democrats by Molly Jong Fast at The Atlantic: Democrats Are Ready to Send Steve Bannon to Jail.

Congressional Democrats, who control both chambers and have a majority on the January 6 committee, can ask the House or Senate sergeant-at-arms to arrest Bannon. Yesterday afternoon, though, Representative Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who chairs the committee, announced that he will pursue a more moderate path: Next week, the committee will vote on whether to refer Bannon to the Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution.

“We fully intend to enforce” the subpoenas, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who is one of two Republicans on the special committee, assured me. “That doesn’t come with the snap of a finger, but we will get to the bottom of these questions and pursue all avenues.”

Democrats want to uphold norms of interparty civility while also preventing Trump and his buddies from completely undermining democracy. But time is running out. The January 6 committee is one of Congress’s last chances to narrate the Capitol riots and the Trump administration’s efforts to subvert the peaceful transfer of power. The only way to fight fascism is with narrative, Masha Gessen, the writer and activist, once told me. The select-committee probe presents a real opportunity to do just that.

Enforcing the committee’s subpoenas isn’t a controversial idea, Representative Eric Swalwell of California told me. “We must enforce congressional subpoenas not just for holding insurrectionists accountable but to show everyone in America that we all follow the same rules,” he said. “If Bannon and company are above the law, why wouldn’t nonpublic figures toss their lawful subpoenas in the trash?”

Perhaps Bannon thinks that the committee won’t follow through, or that jail time might martyr him. He’s dodged consequences for alleged misconduct before. Last year, he faced prison for his role in the “We Build the Wall” scheme, which prosecutors said was fraudulent, but Trump granted him an 11th-hour pardon. At least he’s had some time to think about what he might have to pack.

Head over to The Atlantic to read the rest.

Toracat, by Chiakiro

Toracat, by Chiakiro

This is from Mary Ellen Cagnassola at Newsweek: Adam Schiff Says ‘People Like Steve Bannon’ Are Not ‘Above The Law’ Ahead of Contempt Vote.

The congressional committee tasked with investigating the January 6 Capitol Riots is closing in on top Trump ally and adviser Steve Bannon with an expected vote to recommend criminal contempt charges against the former White House aide for defying a subpoena.

Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who also sits on the January 6 committee, went as far as to say that he expects the Justice Department to prosecute.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who also sits on the January 6 panel, said he expects the Justice Department to prosecute the cases.

The chairman of the special committee, Representative Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said the panel will vote Tuesday to recommend charges against Bannon, an adviser to Donald Trump for years who was in touch with the president ahead of the most serious assault on Congress in two centuries….

If approved by the Democratic-majority committee, the recommendation of criminal charges would go to the full House. Approval there would send them to the Justice Department, which has final say on prosecution.

The showdown with Bannon is just one facet of a broad and escalating congressional inquiry, with 19 subpoenas issued so far and thousands of pages of documents flowing to the committee and its staff. Challenging Bannon’s defiance is a crucial step for the panel, whose members are vowing to restore the force of congressional subpoenas after they were routinely flouted during Trump’s time in office.

Psycho Cat, by Jeff Haynie

Psycho Cat, by Jeff Haynie

Why is the committee waiting until Tuesday to hold the vote on Bannon? Because it will be televised in prime time. This is from The Palmer Report: Get your popcorn ready: the Steve Bannon criminal contempt proceedings will be in prime time. (Mainstream journalists hold this guy in contempt, but he is almost always right.)

Why is the January 6th Committee waiting until Tuesday to hold Steve Bannon’s criminal contempt hearing? Because they’re doing it in prime time and airing it in public. They’re going to make an example out of him as loudly as possible. Get your popcorn ready.

Of course no matter how forcefully the hearing is conducted, and no matter how serious the resulting criminal contempt referral is, we’ll still have to put up with the defeatists. Whatever the committee does, most pundits will naturally insist that it should have done the opposite, because that’s the only way that a lot of pundits feel they can keep themselves relevant.

And of course the defeatists will falsely insist that the Department of Justice “won’t do anything” and that Bannon will “get away with it all.” But at this point that kind of background whining is just par for the course.

What the whiniest of pundits and activists don’t get is that these kinds of hearings are not for their benefit. Their minds are already made up. The January 6th Committee, its actions, its hearings, and its conclusions are for the benefit of average Americans in the middle who know that something went wrong that day but want to be convinced of what specifically happened in painstaking fashion.

We’ll find out next week. I can’t wait.

I’ll add a few more links in the comment thread. Have a nice weekend everyone!! 


Tuesday Reads: Bizarro World News

Good Afternoon!!

I’m having another one of those mornings when my head is spinning from trying to sort out all the nutty news out there. We truly are living in Bizarro World now. If you want proof, just try reading Carter Page’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee (pdf). I’ve read some of it, and hope to read more this afternoon. Some insights journalists have noted:

The Washington Post: Trump adviser sent email describing ‘private conversation’ with Russian official.

Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to President Trump’s campaign whose visit to Moscow during the election has drawn scrutiny, sent an email to fellow Trump aides during his trip describing “a private conversation” with a senior Russian official who spoke favorably of the Republican candidate, according to records released late Monday by congressional investigators.

The email appeared to contradict earlier statements by Page, who had said he had only Page also wrote that he had been provided “incredible insights and outreach” by Russian lawmakers and “senior members” of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s administration during the trip.

The email appeared to contradict earlier statements by Page, who had said he had only exchanged brief greetings with the senior Russian official, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, after he delivered a speech at a Russian university.

In his July 2016 note, Page wrote that Dvorkovich had “expressed strong support for Mr. Trump and a desire to work together toward devising better solutions in response to a vast range of current international problems.”

Page had withheld the email from the Committee, claiming a 5th Amendment right to turn over some information while holding back anything that would incriminate him. Page was unaware that the Committee already had his emails.

Page’s email was read aloud by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) when Page met behind closed doors last week with the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 president election….

Confronted with his email, Page told the committee that he had not meant that he met with any officials but rather that he had learned of their views about the U.S. election from local media and scholars. He maintained that his interaction with Dvorkovich consisted of a brief greeting, and that he had learned his views on the campaign while listening to Dvorkovich’s public address. Page told the committee that he had not worked with the Russians to hack emails or otherwise influence the election.

OK . . . ??  Page’s testimony reads like something written out of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.

Natasha Bertrand at Business Insider: Carter Page’s testimony is filled with bombshells — and supports key portions of the Steele dossier.

Page revealed during his testimony that he met with both members of Russia’s presidential administration and with the head of investor relations at the state-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft during his trip to Moscow last July.

He also congratulated members of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team on July 14 for their “excellent work” on the “Ukraine amendment” — a reference to the Trump campaign’s decision to “intervene” to water down a proposed amendment to the GOP’s Ukraine platform….

Page also revealed that Trump campaign adviser Sam Clovis had asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement upon joining the campaign — and that he discussed his July Moscow trip with Clovis both before he went and after he returned.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff confronted Page with an email he wrote on July 8 from Moscow to Trump campaign adviser J.D. Gordon saying that he had received “incredible insights and outreach from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here.”

Former British spy Christopher Steele wrote in the dossier that an “official close to Presidential Administration Head, S. IVANOV, cornfided in a compatriot that a senior colleague in the Internal Political Department of the PA, DIVYEKIN (nfd) also had met secretly with PAGE on his recent visit.”

The birth certificate translation service can significantly change a document’s graphical layout, often requiring additional space to accommodate different character counts or writing directions. Also, the foreign patent filing has specific requirements and nuances for each country.

According to that official in the dossier, Diveykin told Page that the Kremlin had a dossier of kompromat on Hillary Clinton that they wanted to give to the Trump campaign.

Read the rest at Business Insider.

NBC News: Carter Page Coordinated Russia Trip With Top Trump Campaign Officials.

Former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, who has come under scrutiny in the investigation of Russian election interference, told a House committee that he sought permission for a July 2016 trip to Moscow from senior Trump campaign officials, and reported to other Trump officials about the trip when he returned.

It’s long been known that Page traveled to Moscow in July 2016, but he has said it was in his private capacity, unrelated to his role with the Trump campaign.

Page, whose sworn testimony was released Monday night, told the House Intelligence Committee last week that he sought permission to make the trip from campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and also notified Hope Hicks, who is now the White House communications director.

Lewandowski told Page he was clear to go on the trip as long as the travel was not associated with his work on the campaign, Page told the committee.

Page also acknowledged that he had been aware that another volunteer campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, had been meeting with a professor with links to the Kremlin, according to the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Check out this lengthy Twitter thread for more details on Page’s testimony.

And a reminder:

Charles Pierce: We’re Again Testing How Much Bullsh*t American Politics Can Withstand. Enter Carter Page.

Prior to Carter Page’s bravura piece of surreal performance art on Monday before the House Select Committee On Intelligence, there was Casey Stengel in 1958confounding the Senate Anti-Trust and Monopoly Subcommittee that was looking into removing professional baseball’s exemption from the country’s anti-trust regulations. And then, 15 years later, Tony Ulasewicz, the hangdog ex-NYPD cop-turned-Nixonian bagman, explained to Sam Ervin and the special committee looking into Watergate how he handled the payoffs to the original Watergate burglars—including the piquant detail that, while he was roaming Washington with paper bags full of cash, he wore a subway motorman’s change dispenser on his belt because he was doing so much business in public phone booths.

But neither of them came anywhere close to the kung-fu fighting that Page did with the English language on Monday. The committee wisely released a transcript of Page’s testimony, and chunks of it were flying around the Intertoobz all Monday night. I found that the best way to read it was to dim all the lights and play all my Hawkwind albums really loud.

There’s just so much chewy goodness. For example, Page refers to the “so-called Putin regime,” but has no compunction of referring to “the Obama-Clinton regime” without the qualifying modifier. He also seems to believe that the Senate “Gang of Eight” was an actual gang, with Harry Reid as its jefe. His testimony begins with a long letter he’d written in response to the committee. Here, from that letter, he presents as evidence that he and the Russians were guiltless of ratfcking the 2016 election the fact that he is not yet wealthy.

If our government had a better understanding of Russia and the way business is now conducted in Russia, the 2016 Dodgy Dossier which alleged that I should have received a multi-million dollar bribe after President Trump’s victory in November would have been easily dismissed as a work of fiction by these supposed subject-matter experts.

The letter also refers to the “gangster tactics” of “the transnational veritable organized crime network that Reid leveraged during the Clinton/Obama regime,” so you can pretty much figure out that we’ve turned a pretty dark bend in a pretty strange river.

Read the rest at the Esquire link above.

Other Bizarro World News:

Something strange is happening in Saudi Arabia and it seems likely Trump and Jared Kushner are involved. David Ignatius wrote on Sunday:

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says he’s cracking down on corruption. But the sweeping arrests of cabinet ministers and senior princes Saturday night looked to many astonished Arab observers like a bold but risky consolidation of power.

MBS, as the headstrong 32-year-old ruler is known, struck at some of the kingdom’s most prominent business and political names in a new bid to gain political control and drive change in the oil kingdom. By the count of the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel, the arrests included 11 princes, four ministers and several dozen others.

Jared Kushner. Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. General Raheel Sharif at the US-Arab-Islamic Summit in Riyadh in May 2017.

“He’s creating a new Saudi Arabia,” said one Saudi business leader contacted Sunday. He noted that the anti-corruption campaign follows other aggressive but controversial moves, including a royal decree allowing women to drive and limits on the religious police.

“This is very risky,” the business leader said, because MBS is now challenging senior princes and religious conservatives simultaneously. The executive, who strongly supports MBS’s liberalization efforts, worried that “he’s fighting too many wars at once.”

This followed a secret visit by Kushner in October.

MBS is emboldened by strong support from President Trump and his inner circle, who see him as a kindred disrupter of the status quo — at once a wealthy tycoon and a populist insurgent. It was probably no accident that last month, Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, made a personal visit to Riyadh. The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy.

Bloomberg: Trump Undercuts His Advisers Again With Saudi Tweets.

President Donald Trump again showed how quickly his tweets can outrun U.S. foreign policy planning, after he backed Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince over the arrests of dozens of officials before the State Department had completed its review of the moves.

While Trump had talked with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about Saudi Arabia as they toured Tokyo together Nov. 5 and 6, there was no formal consultation before he tweeted early Tuesday that King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman “know exactly what they are doing.” [….] A second tweet said “some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”

Trump and Kushner are running their own foreign policy out of the White House, probably based on their business interests.

The Intercept: CIA Director Met Advocate of Disputed DNC Hack Theory–at Trump’s Request.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo

CIA DIRECTOR MIKE Pompeo met late last month with a former U.S. intelligence official who has become an advocate for a disputed theory that the theft of the Democratic National Committee’s emails during the 2016 presidential campaign was an inside job, rather than a hack by Russian intelligence.

Pompeo met on October 24 with William Binney, a former National Security Agency official-turned-whistleblower who co-authored an analysispublished by a group of former intelligence officials that challenges the U.S. intelligence community’s official assessment that Russian intelligence was behind last year’s theft of data from DNC computers. Binney and the other former officials argue that the DNC data was “leaked,” not hacked, “by a person with physical access” to the DNC’s computer system.

In an interview with The Intercept, Binney said Pompeo told him that President Donald Trump had urged the CIA director to meet with Binney to discuss his assessment that the DNC data theft was an inside job. During their hour-long meeting at CIA headquarters, Pompeo said Trump told him that if Pompeo “want[ed] to know the facts, he should talk to me,” Binney said.

A senior intelligence source confirmed that Pompeo met with Binney to discuss his analysis, and that the CIA director held the meeting at Trump’s urging.

Pompeo and Trump are apparently running an alternative CIA investigation!

Finally, The Guardian reports from the Paradise Papers: Offshore cash helped fund Steve Bannon’s attacks on Hillary Clinton.

Robert Mercer

Eighteen months before guiding Donald Trump to election victory, Steve Bannon delivered the opening shot in the ruthless Republican campaign to paint their Democratic opponent as corrupt.

The future White House chief strategist produced a book in May 2015 accusing Hillary Clinton of trading favours for donations to her charitable foundation. Its questionable central charge, on the sale of a uranium company to Russia, recently became the subject of a House inquiry and feverish talk on conservative media.

But the financial arrangements of another foundation, which bankrolled Bannon’s creation of the book, Clinton Cash, have received less scrutiny.

Leaked documents and newly obtained public filings show how the billionaire Mercer family built a $60m war chest for conservative causes inside their family foundation by using an offshore investment vehicle to avoid US tax.

The offshore vehicle was part of a network of companies in the Atlantic tax haven of Bermuda led by Robert Mercer, the wealthy hedge-fund executive and Bannon patron whose spending helped put Trump in the White House and aided a resurgence of the Republican right.

Read the rest at The Guardian link.

So . . . what else is happening? What stories are you following today?htt