House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) said he learned just this week that the intelligence community “incidentally collected” information about members of President Donald Trump’s transition team outside of its investigation into Russia’s interference in the U.S. election. In an impromptu press conference Wednesday—which the Washington Post reported he held before discussing these revelations with ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)—Nunes claimed that the information was “widely disseminated” among intelligence agencies and that the identities of Trump staffers were “unmasked.” . . .
Yet the basics of Nunes’s allegation are still extremely confusing. So what follows is a guide to what Nunes said, what he left out, and the false narrative already coming from the president and his allies that this vindicates the wiretapping claim. . . . [read on]
Adam Schiff: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/schiff-statement-nunes-trump-surveillance-allegations
"This afternoon, Chairman Devin Nunes announced he had some form of intercepts revealing that lawfully gathered intelligence on foreign officials included information on U.S. persons, potentially including those associated with President Trump or the president himself. If accurate, this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been. Indeed, it appears that committee members only learned about this when the chairman discussed the matter this afternoon with the press. The chairman also shared this information with the White House before providing it to the committee, another profound irregularity, given that the matter is currently under investigation. I have expressed my grave concerns with the chairman that a credible investigation cannot be conducted this way.
"As to the substance of what the chairman has alleged, if the information was lawfully gathered intelligence on foreign officials, that would mean that U.S. persons would not have been the subject of surveillance. In my conversation late this afternoon, the chairman informed me that most of the names in the intercepted communications were in fact masked, but that he could still figure out the probable identity of the parties. Again, this does not indicate that there was any flaw in the procedures followed by the intelligence agencies. Moreover, the unmasking of a U.S. person's name is fully appropriate when it is necessary to understand the context of collected foreign intelligence information.
"Because the committee has still not been provided the intercepts in the possession of the chairman, it is impossible to evaluate the chairman's claims. It certainly does not suggest -- in any way -- that the president was wiretapped by his predecessor."
Schiff: Nunes Can’t Conduct Russia Probe While Acting As ‘Surrogate' Of WH
[NB: A little bit more inside baseball. Nunes says that part of the problem is that people inadvertently caught up in surveillance are supposed to be "masked" (Person 1, Person 2, etc). He implies that people were improperly named -- Schiff says that isn't true. There is also a technical question of whether Nunes revealed classified information. There is also the question of who passed this information to him, and why.
What is not unclear is that Nunes took intelligence reports involving Trump or his cronies DIRECTLY TO TRUMP in the middle of what is supposed to be an independent investigation.
But here is an aspect to this no one seems to have put together. Trump said a few days ago that evidence to support his wiretapping claim would come out in the next week or so. Two days ago, when asked where this "evidence" was, Sean Spicer replied, "Let's see how the week goes." I think THEY KNEW about these intelligence reports, maybe even had seen them from the same sources who leaked them to Nunes. The issue was simply a matter of timing and of arranging it so the reports came from a third party, not from them. But it sure looks to me as if Nunes was "informing" Trump about reports HE ALREADY KNEW ABOUT.]
Trump says – of course! – that he feels “vindicated.” But as pointed out here several days ago, “Obama illegally wiretapped me” is not the same as “I was swept up inadvertently in a legal investigation into someone else because I may have had contact with them, or because they may simply have mentioned my name”
One thing the Nunes revelation did was knock the Paul Manafort story off the front page
The White House is going to great lengths to put distance between President Donald Trump and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, as a series of explosive news reports emerge detailing the millions of dollars he received from a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin and a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Manafort, a key member of the Trump campaign for six months, played “a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.” By Wednesday morning, Spicer was refusing to even say Manafort’s name, telling NBC News that “it would be inappropriate for us to comment on a person who is not a White House employee.” [read on]
More shady dealings with Russia: http://www.vox.com/world/2017/3/22/15003774/trump-russia-ties-flynn-manafort
We’re learning a lot more about the Trump team’s financial ties to Russia
My question is, who convinced Donald Trump to hire Paul Manafort in the first place?
The extensive ties between Trumpworld and the Kremlin
Manafort is gone... But even as Trump officials downplay Manafort's role, his decade-long business associate Rick Gates remains entrenched in the president's operation.
Sean Spicer just shifted the White House's stance on Paul Manafort and Russia. Again.
[NB: You just need to pause and ask why SO MANY members of Trump's campaign, and now Cabinet, have so many financial and other ties to Russia (often to shady characters in Russia). It's an uncanny pattern, and can hardly be a coincidence.]
Not finished with Flynn yet, either
House Oversight Committee requests all documents on Mike Flynn’s foreign contacts and payments
But here's what I think is the BIG NEWS of the day. House Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff now says explicitly that the evidence of Trump-Russia collusion is "more than circumstantial"
Chuck Todd tried to downplay the investigation, reminding Schiff, "All you have right now is a circumstantial case." Schiff shot back, "Actually, no, Chuck. I can tell you that the case is more than that. and I can't go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now." Todd pressed in, asking whether there was direct evidence of collusion. "I don't want go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial," Schiff repeated. "And it very much worthy of investigation. So, that is what we ought to do."
And now, this: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/cnn-trump-team-gave-russians-thumbs-release-hillary-smears
[CNN] The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, US officials told CNN....The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings.....One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests "people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready."
Health care vote scheduled today. Will it pass? Will they postpone it?
Freedom Caucus: There are 25 solid 'no' votes on Trumpcare
Trumpcare is in trouble in the House, and a defeat on this could cripple Trump and Ryan
The Republican health care plan is actually worse than nothing
Republicans Now Considering How to Make a Bad Health Care Plan Into a Complete Wreck
Late news: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/freedom-caucus-optimistic-changes-repeal-bill
Freedom Caucus Chair 'Optimistic' About Deal On Obamacare Repeal Bill
Assuming the health care bill passes the House, Mitch McConnell has scheduled a quick vote on it in the Senate. There are two schools of thought on this -- one is that he's trying to rush it through, the other is that he's trying to kill it quickly
McConnell planning to jam Trumpcare through next week
Mitch McConnell’s Trumpcare Plan Is to Lose Fast
Which is it? http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/mcconnell-prepares-the-conclusion-the-health-care-fight
Trump's Supreme Court nominee says
"When anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity, the motives of a federal judge, I find that disheartening," Gorsuch said at his Senate confirmation hearing when asked about Trump's attacks on judges.
Trump says: "The courts are not helping us, I have to be honest with you. It's ridiculous. Somebody said I should not criticize judges. OK, I'll criticize judges," Trump said.
Gorsuch is going to be confirmed, but we can enjoy these lively moments of questioning
Al Franken’s grilling of Gorsuch exposes the heartless cruelty behind conservative legal philosophy
Democrats Exploring Deal With McConnell On Gorsuch Nomination
BAD timing! http://crooksandliars.com/2017/03/supreme-court-unanimously-overturns
The Supreme Court Just Gutted a Gorsuch Opinion — and Made Him Look Extreme
Gen. James Mattis, despite his nickname "Mad Dog," may be the most reasonable and competent of all Trump's appointments. He is certainly the most independent. And that, as you might guess, is becoming a problem
The half-assed President picks a half-assed Sect'y of State
Tillerson didn't want to be Secretary of State—and his level of effort shows it
NATO Says It Will Reschedule Meeting So Tillerson Can Attend
Trump is having really, really bad luck with his Labor Dept nominees
Must be the lamest excuse of all the lame excuses I've heard recently
Sebastian Gorka backtracks on anti-Semitic group link: “I never swore allegiance formally”
Trump is paranoid
What Trump's -- and Trump's family's -- refusal to live in the White House is costing us
Poor Donald, who orders his fabric for fabricated truths by the mile, now complains that fact-checkers are just too darn hard on him
"If it's off by one-hundredth of a percent, I end up getting Pinocchios." [read on]
One of the creepiest things about this very creepy guy is the evident satisfaction with which he reports on terror attacks -- because they prove that he's right
Trump: "Big news" out of London
Now Trump isn't just taking credit for things he hasn't done -- he's taking credit for things that haven't even happened yet
Who's gonna pick those grapes?
Trumpism and tribal epistemology
This is the Wall Street Journal editorial page, folks
The latest example is Mr. Trump’s refusal to back off his Saturday morning tweet of three weeks ago that he had “found out that [Barack] Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory” on Election Day. He has offered no evidence for his claim, and a parade of intelligence officials, senior Republicans and Democrats have since said they have seen no such evidence. Yet the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims.
The kind of people they are
Donald Trump Jr. Insults London Mayor Sadiq Khan On Twitter After Terror Attack
Alabama legislature may give fundamentalist church its own police force: What could go wrong?
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