Friday, April 20, 2018

THE ENABLERS

The Republicans have gone from "oh no, Trump is actually president" to "well, he's the president, so we have to deal with him" to "hey, it might be useful to our agenda to support him" to, now, "we are going to fight to defend him even in the midst of scandal."

Shame on them

http://prospect.org/article/republicans-are-running-out-excuses-trump

More: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/04/ted-cruz-praises-donald-trump-who-bullied-his-family.html
Ted Cruz Loses Last Scrap of Dignity, Writes Time Tribute to His Bully, Donald Trump

https://thinkprogress.org/marco-rubio-flip-flops-nasa-nominee-deference-to-trump-3693fa4bd989/
Marco Rubio flip flops on NASA nominee out of ‘deference to the president’

https://politicalwire.com/2018/04/19/the-gop-is-organized-around-one-man/
“The organizing principle of Mr Trump’s Republican Party is loyalty. Not, as with the best presidents, loyalty to an ideal, a vision or a legislative program, but to just one man—Donald J. Trump—and to the prejudice and rage which consume the voter base that, on occasion, even he struggles to control. In America that is unprecedented and it is dangerous.”

This quote, if true, is damning

https://politicalwire.com/2018/04/19/rosenstein-told-trump-hes-not-a-target-in-mueller-probe/
“Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Trump last week that he isn’t a target of any part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation,” Bloomberg reports. “Rosenstein, who brought up the Mueller probe himself, offered the assurance during a meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday…After the meeting, Trump told some of his closest advisers that it’s not the right time to remove either man since he’s not a target of the probe.

[NB: You see it, don't you? The clear implication is that if he WERE a target things would be different. That's about as clear as you can make it.

By the way, since Mueller has been pretty clear that he isn't going to -- and arguably can't -- indict a sitting president, "not a target" doesn't mean very much. This report is going to have plenty of evidence of Trump's misconduct. Plenty.]

How many rejections did Trump get before settling on Rudy Giuliani as his new lawyer?

https://crooksandliars.com/2018/04/rudy-rescue-what-giuliani-doing-trumps

More: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/rudy-cant-fail/558497
As for Giuliani, the choice is peculiar. Trump has shown a penchant, especially lately, for hiring people more for their ability to advocate for him on television than for their experience. Unlike some of the other attorneys who have circulated through Trump’s team or been rumored as possible additions, Giuliani has legitimate criminal-law experience, most prominently as a U.S. Attorney. But he left that job in 1989 to run for mayor. Over the years since, he has practiced law, but most often has served as a consultant or an executive, not as a litigator. These days he is most often known for his outspoken and sometimes outlandish opinions. He is also awkwardly tied to the Russia investigation. . . .
[read on]

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/04/rudy-giuliani-joining-trump-legal-team-negotiate-end-mueller-investigation.html
On Thursday, former New York mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani told the Washington Post that he will join President Trump’s legal team for the Mueller investigation: “I’m doing it because I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country” . . . .

https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2018/04/rudy-is-back-in-the-saddle/
Giuliani wants to “quickly” resolve the investigation. He wants to “speed it up.” And he wants to “negotiate an end” to it. In other words, he’s less a lawyer than he is an ambassador to Robert Mueller. And apparently he thinks he can wrap things up in just a few weeks. . . .

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/04/guiliani-joins-trump-lawyers-predicts-mueller-settlement.html
He worked with Mueller at DOJ & as NYC Mayor (Mueller at FBI) He hopes knowing Mueller can help bring the investigation to conclusion, saying it "needs a little push." How soon? "maybe a couple of weeks" . . .

[NB: I hope Rudy has promised Trump that he can negotiate an end to the Mueller investigation "in a couple of weeks." I can't wait to see the tweets when that turns out to be nowhere near true.]

Giuliani to replace Sessions?

https://politicalwire.com/2018/04/20/trump-could-try-to-replace-sessions-with-giuliani/

[NB: No way he would get confirmed.]

Pardon me?

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/19/17251216/trump-pardon-cohen-mueller-scooter-libby-russia
Can Trump pardon his way out of the Mueller probe? This law professor says no.

More: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/04/adam-schiffs-plan-to-counter-trumps-coy-little-pardon-dance.html

What all the speculation about Michael Cohen flipping -- even from Trump's closest associates -- tells us

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/michael-will-never-stand-up
ll this talk about Cohen potentially flipping on Trump assumes up front that the president has done things that could put him in severe legal jeopardy. At this point, no one seems to be making much effort to deny that. . . [read on]

Michael Cohen settles a lawsuit 

https://thinkprogress.org/michael-cohen-abruptly-drops-lawsuit-claiming-steele-dossier-is-a-lie-57e0cc661dfb/
Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has abruptly dropped a defamation lawsuit he filed against BuzzFeed for publishing an unverified intelligence dossier put together by former British spy Christopher Steele . . . The timing of Cohen’s move to drop the lawsuit is interesting, for at least a couple reasons. First, it comes the week after FBI agents acting on a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller raided Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room. Cohen’s decision to drop the lawsuit suggests agents may have seized evidence that will make it hard to him to maintain that the dossier is “fake” and a “lie filled document,” as he claimed on Twitter when he announced the “defamation action” in January. Second, Cohen’s move to drop the lawsuit comes less than a week after McClatchy reported that Mueller possesses evidence that Cohen “secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign” — a claim that, if true, would verify an explosive claim in the dossier . . .

And another settlement

https://thinkprogress.org/karen-mcdougals-stunning-victory-c34e21cee66c
Karen McDougal, the former Playboy Playmate who says she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and 2007, has scored a dramatic and abrupt legal victory over AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, which purchased exclusive rights to the story of her affair with Trump and then buried it. The news suggests that circumstances of McDougal’s contract were unseemly and possibly illegal — and the company was eager to find a way out of the morass. . . . McDougal alleges that she was pressured into signing the agreement, that she was never given the opportunity to write the columns she was promised, and that her lawyer at the time, Keith Davidson, was secretly colluding with Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer and “fixer” for the president.  McDougal sued on March 20, asking a court to nullify the contract. Up until a few days ago, AMI seemed prepared to fight the lawsuit. On April 2, AMI’s lawyers filed a lengthy motion with the court to dismiss the case. But then, on April 9, Michael Cohen’s home and office were raided by the FBI. . . . Appearing on Rachel Maddow’s show last night, McDougal’s current attorney, Peter Stris, said that Davidson and Cohen were “working together to pursue a legal fraud.” . . Stris said that he believed Cohen and Davidson had perpetrated this fraud in other cases as well. Cohen and Davidson, remarkably, seem to end up involved in every sex scandal involving Trump. . . . Communications between Cohen and Davidson were reportedly part of information targeted by the FBI raid on Cohen’s homes and office.
 

Late yesterday we learned that House GOPers had succeeded in forcing the DOJ to turn over the Comey memos

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/19/doj-expected-to-deliver-comey-memos-to-congress-537825

Before the day was out, the AP had them. Here they are

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/19/17260120/james-comey-trump-memos-russia-investigation

Highlights: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/beautiful-hookers-and-prying-priebus-whats-in-the-comey-memos

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/04/comey-memos-trump-talked-about-russias-beautiful-hookers-couldnt-keep-mideast-countries-straight.html

Why the GOP leaked them

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/04/why-were-republicans-so-desperate-to-release-the-embarrassing-comey-memos-heres-one-explanation.html

Trump claims the memos that totally incriminate him totally vindicate him

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-reacts-comey-memos

[NB: Wait, I thought he said the memos were "self serving and fake"?] 

One thing these memos show is that Trump was absolutely obsessed with Andrew McCabe. We know the relentless bullying and insults Trump has thrown his way. Now the other shoe drops: the Inspector General recommends prosecution for . . . "a lack of candor." Really. They've already fired him, hours before his retirement, stripped his pension, and now a recommended prosecution for the thinnest of excuses

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/19/17257954/andrew-mccabe-criminal-referral

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/will-andrew-mccabe-be-prosecuted/558491/


Trump gloats over the McCabe recommendations (of course) -- even though it is doubtful that McCabe will ever actually be charged

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/987100052710674433

[NB: We have gotten so inured to this that we forget how totally wrong and unseemly it is for a president to be pronouncing on who should and shouldn't be charged with crimes.]

Was Manafort the guy?

https://politicalwire.com/2018/04/19/manafort-suspected-of-being-back-channel-to-russia/
Manafort Suspected of Being ‘Back Channel’ to Russia 

More: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/mueller-manafort-scope-records

In other news . . . 

The rest of the world is figuring out what we already know: Trump is an ignorant buffoon and most of the words out of his mouth don't mean anything

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trumps-credibility-crashes-the-world-starts-ignore-him
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank published a related list this morning of “some of what we have learned lately from the Trump administration.”
  • We are imposing new sanctions on Russia. We are not imposing new sanctions on Russia.
  • China isn’t manipulating its currency. China is manipulating its currency.
  • We’re getting out of Syria. We aren’t getting out of Syria.
  • We’ll decide about bombing Syria in 24 to 48 hours. We might not bomb Syria for a long time. We bombed Syria.
  • The bombing of Syria will be sustained. The Syria bombing was a one-time shot.
  • Trump will be talking to Kim Jong Un. Trump may not be talking to Kim.
  • Trump fired James B. Comey because of the Russia investigation. Trump did not fire Comey because of the Russia investigation. [read on]
They still haven't fixed the power grid for Puerto Rico

https://thinkprogress.org/puerto-rico-power-grid-recovery-problems-continue-ab89f347d1d3/

"Mission accomplished"?

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/world/middleeast/syria-strikes.html
Missile Strikes Are Unlikely to Stop Syria’s Chemical Attacks, Pentagon Says

Don't know much about history. . . 

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/ignoring-slavery-trump-says-human-trafficking-has-reached-all-time-high
Ignoring slavery, Trump says human trafficking has reached all-time high

Another Trump policy loses in court

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/appeals-court-rules-against-trump-sanctuary-cities-public-safety-grants-policy
Court Rules Against Trump Policy To Withhold Grants From Sanctuary Cities

Trump's judges

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/04/trump-judicial-nominee-michael-truncale-called-immigrants-maggots.html
Trump Judicial Nominee Appears to Have Called Undocumented Immigrants “Maggots”

https://thinkprogress.org/james-ho-campaign-finance-hack-70a2ce3477bc/
Trump-appointed judge uses his very first opinion to showcase his political hackery

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/4/12/1756312/-Trump-s-worst-judicial-pick-yet-appears-to-favor-school-segregation-and-thinks-birth-control-kills
Trump's worst judicial pick yet appears to favor school segregation and thinks birth control kills

Our sick society

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/19/17256322/parkland-school-shooting-students-worried 
Poll: most US teens are worried that a shooting could happen at their school

The Senate narrowly confirms a totally unqualified head of NASA because he's a . . . . "war hero"

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/senate-confirms-james-bridenstine-nasa?

A Senate that has taken long breaks and done little actual legislating may now stay in session just to keep red-state Dems from being able to go home to campaign

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

JANUS

Trump versus Trump 

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/986576502358671361
"Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!"
       ---- 18 Apr 2018 

https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/trump-connects-comey-firing-to-russia-questions-in-nbc-interview-942122051703
Talking to NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, Pres. Trump said when he decided to fire Comey he was thinking about 'this Russia thing.'
       ---- 11 May 2017

More: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/4/18/1758019/-Trump-is-trying-to-cover-up-his-cover-up-by-lying-about-why-he-fired-James-Comey
President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting. “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. . . . I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
       ---- 19 May 2017
 

[NB: Trump may not remember what he said -- but Robert Mueller does.] 

Trump is furious when Nikki Haley is tougher on Russia than he is

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/17/world/europe/trump-nikki-haley-russia-sanctions.html

Larry Kudlow tries to apologize for saying Haley was "confused" -- and only makes things worse

https://www.vox.com/world/2018/4/18/17251484/nikki-haley-trump-larry-kudlow-russia
“As it turns out, she was basically following what she thought was policy,” Kudlow said. “The policy was changed, and she wasn’t told about it.”

[NB: So, the policy was changed and one of the top foreign policy advisors just wasn't told about it, huh? I respect the fact that she refused to be scapegoated by the Trump boys club, and her response (“With all due respect, I don't get confused”) may resonate for a long time. But that's not the big story here. The big story is what happened between the meeting when sanctions were DECIDED, and Trump's sudden change of heart over that weekend? Why was he so furious with her statement on Sunday that he screamed at the TV? And why did his people immediately rush to call and reassure Russia after that comment that there weren't going to be any sanctions? There is more to this story. . . ] 

Keep tweeting dude, keep tweeting

https://thinkprogress.org/donald-trump-tweet-stormy-daniels-sketch-las-vegas-parking-lot-knowledge-170f544efbda/
Trump finally tweets about Stormy Daniels, accidentally incriminates himself

Trump is paying the legal bills of his former bodyguard and of Michael Cohen. That's one way to be sure they won't flip on you

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/mcdermott-ryan-representing-michael-cohen-russia-investigations-personal-business-dealings

Or. . . . https://politicalwire.com/2018/04/18/trump-warned-cohen-will-flip-quickly-if-charged/
Trump Warned Cohen Will Flip Quickly If Charged

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/18/trump-michael-cohen-flip-536926
Trump allies worry Cohen will flip
 
Trump as mob boss

https://crooked.com/article/trump-cohen-comey-end-stage/ 

Trump. Cohen, Russia, and the Mob: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/cohen-ology-pays-off-after-all

This is a big issue: separate investigations under NY state law aren't affected by Trump's pardons (or pardoning himself) -- and US Attorney investigations (like the case against Cohen) won't be affected even if Mueller is fired. Diversifying the effort is a very, very smart move

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/warning-of-trump-pardons-ny-ag-urges-lawmakers-to-change-double-jeopardy-law

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/18/17252554/trump-cohen-new-york-state-laws

[NB: Multiply this by the fact that from all accounts Trump is frantic over the Cohen investigation -- much more than the Mueller investigation into Russia issues. Rightly or wrongly Trump seems to think he can survive anything that emerges from the Mueller probe; but Cohen . . . .] 

More: https://politicalwire.com/2018/04/18/trump-deeply-rattled-by-fbi-raid-on-cohens-office/
Trump ‘Deeply Rattled’ By FBI Raid on Cohen’s Office

I never expected Trump to testify, despite saying repeatedly how much he wanted to 

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-leaning-against-mueller-interview
Trump Now Considering Refusing Muller Interview After Cohen Raid  

Defense Sect'y Mattis wanted a Congressional vote on Syria action -- Trump said no

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/nyt-mattis-wanted-congressional-approval-syria-strike-vetoed-trump

More: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/04/the-u-s-bombed-syria-last-week-to-validate-trumps-tweets.html
Last week, the United States launched an act of war against a sovereign government because failing to do so would have cast doubt on the credibility of the statements that Donald Trump makes while livetweeting Fox & Friends. That may sound like hyperbolic snark, or the premise of an Andy Borowitz column, but it is a plain description of the rationale behind last Friday’s missile strikes in Syria, according to multiple military and administration officials. . . .

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/4/18/1758123/-Senators-after-classified-Syria-briefing-Trump-has-no-plan-Syria-is-Russia-and-Iran-s-now
Senators after classified Syria briefing: Trump has 'no plan,' 'Syria is Russia and Iran's now'
 
Trump changes his mind on TPP . . . again

https://www.vox.com/world/2018/4/18/17251242/trump-tpp-twitter-news-rejoin  

In other news. . . .

GOP Senate candidates go full Trumpian, call for an end to the Mueller investigation

https://politicalwire.com/2018/04/18/gop-candidates-begin-calling-for-end-to-mueller-investigation/  

House Repubs demand documents from the DOJ that they know they can't share

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/18/comey-memos-subpoena-republicans-house-536587
“The Comey memos are key to the special counsel’s work. Pursuant to long-standing Department policy and absent any satisfactory accommodation, the Department of Justice cannot simply hand over evidence that is part of an ongoing criminal investigation," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. He added: “If House Republicans refuse any accommodation short of the Department of Justice handing over custody of these documents — which it cannot do — I fear the Majority will have manufactured an excuse to hold the Deputy Attorney General in contempt of Congress. If they succeed in tarnishing the Deputy Attorney General, perhaps they will have given President Trump the pretext he has sought to replace Mr. Rosenstein with someone willing to do his bidding and end the Special Counsel’s investigation."

More: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/04/house-republicans-lay-groundwork-for-rosensteins-firing.html
House Republicans Lay the Groundwork for Trump to Fire Rosenstein

Let's just convict EVERYBODY

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/18/17252290/desantis-letter-prosecute-clinton-comey
11 House Republicans call for prosecutions of Clinton, Comey, Lynch, and others

Oh, come on: the Confederate statue backlash

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/tennessee-house-votes-punish-memphis-confederate-statue-removal
TN House Votes To Punish Memphis For Removing Confederate Monuments

More: https://www.salon.com/2018/04/18/running-on-the-confederate-legacy-alabamas-gop-governor-releases-campaign-ad-in-defense-of-statues/ 

Dems (male) join female senators in advancing sexual harassment rules

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/18/senators-harassment-rules-male-democrats-536571
. . .  without support from a single Republican male.

Sad! 

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/04/report-mike-pence-makes-fun-of-himself-to-please-trump.html
Mike Pence Makes Fun of Himself to Please Trump

Trump said he would only hire "the best people." People like this, I suppose 

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/18/17253560/nasa-administrator-jim-bridenstine-confirmation
Trump’s next NASA administrator is a Republican congressman with no background in science

More: https://thinkprogress.org/kris-kobach-held-in-contempt-of-court-for-disobeying-judges-orders-2d1bdecc7c7d/
Kris Kobach held in contempt of court for disobeying judge’s orders

It's in their DNA, I guess

https://politicalwire.com/2018/04/18/trump-trade-official-spent-1-million-on-new-furniture/
Trump Trade Official Spent $1 Million on New Furniture 

Another Republican sleazeball

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/gop-rep-accused-using-his-office-boost-his-investments
GOP rep accused of using his office to boost his investments 

The Freedom Caucus already wants to exert its control over the next House Speaker

https://politicalwire.com/2018/04/18/freedom-caucus-wants-concessions-from-mccarthy/

Paul Ryan says, Not so fast! I'm not going anywhere (yet)

https://politicalwire.com/2018/04/18/ryan-snuffs-out-efforts-to-accelerate-his-departure/ 

Could the Dems beat Ted Cruz in Texas?

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/18/17253274/beto-orourke-ted-cruz-texas-senate-poll 

Theocracy watch

https://thinkprogress.org/focus-on-the-family-south-africa-aids-grant-purity-pledges/
The Trump administration is paying Focus on the Family to stop the AIDS epidemic in South Africa

Mission accomplished: https://politicalwire.com/2018/04/18/trump-hits-all-time-high-with-white-evangelical-christians/
Trump Hits All-Time High with White Evangelicals 

Poor Melania 

https://politicalwire.com/2018/04/18/ex-playboy-model-is-free-to-talk-about-trump-affair/
“The tabloid news company American Media Inc. agreed to let a former Playboy model out of a contract that had kept her from talking freely about an alleged affair with Donald Trump,” the New York Times reports. “The settlement agreement, reached Wednesday, ends a lawsuit brought by the model, Karen McDougal, and protects the president from being drawn into a legal case involving efforts to buy the silence of women who had stories to tell about him during the 2016 campaign.”

[NB: Interesting calculation -- that it's better to have her out talking openly about the affair, rather than a lawsuit that might involve deposing Trump under oath.]

How Fox World runs the White House


https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/hannity-trump-regular-phone-calls
Trump Speaks To Hannity Several Times Per Week

http://www.whitehousedossier.com/2018/04/18/sean-hannity-trumps-closest-advisors/
When he’s off the phone, Trump is known to cite Hannity when he talks with White House advisers.

https://www.msnbc.com/brian-williams/watch/wapo-hannity-basically-has-a-desk-in-trump-s-white-house-1213414979798
Hannity ‘basically has a desk’ in Trump's White House

More: https://crooksandliars.com/2018/04/cnns-erin-burnett-notices-hannity-and
CNN's Erin Burnett Notices Hannity And Trump's Identical Scripts

https://washingtonmonthly.com/2018/04/18/no-wonder-trump-needs-so-much-executive-time/
The president has to set aside time to watch Fox News and talk on the phone with Fox News personalities. Contrary to previous administrations, it is not the people working in the White House or running federal agencies that the president turns to for advice and counsel. That is precisely why the ongoing turnover in this administration doesn’t pose much of a problem. Instead, Trump needs to hear from Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro and the hosts of Fox and Friends to set his agenda and craft his response to the issues of the day. In the interests of time management, it might be best to simply do away with the pretense of assuming that the White House and Fox News are two separate entities. . . .


***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sharing its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com) with others via email or social media. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***