Monday, November 20, 2017

DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL

Roy who? 

https://thinkprogress.org/white-house-roy-moore-endorsement-bab537ec68a1/
On ABC’s This Week Sunday morning, George Stephanopoulos drilled White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short for answers as to whether President Trump still supports Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct. At least half a dozen times, Short dodged blatant yes-or-no questions, leaving room for Trump to be satisfied if Moore ends up winning the special election next month. . . [read on]

More: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/1717015
Alabama's biggest newspapers run front-page denunciation of Roy Moore, endorsing Doug Jones 

There has never been an administration -- even Nixon's -- that disseminates daily lies in pursuit of its interests. Not spin: flat out, jaw-dropping lies 

http://crooksandliars.com/2017/11/michael-caputo-says-roy-moore-sex-abuse
Michael Caputo Says Roy Moore Sex Abuse Accusers Are Lying In A Plot To Get Trump 

Drip, drip, drip. . . . 

https://politicalwire.com/2017/11/19/publicist-arranged-trump-tower-meeting-denies-plot/
Rob Goldstone, the publicist who helped arrange the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer, tells the Times of London that Jared Kushner was “furious” that the focus of the meeting turned to the Magnitsky Act instead of dirt on Hillary Clinton.

More: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/a-long-winter-white-house-aides-divided-over-scope-risks-of-russia-probe/2017/11/19/497557c0-cbba-11e7-b244-2d22ac912500_story.html?utm_term=.ef779908930b
The investigation reached a critical turning point in recent weeks, with a formal subpoena to the campaign, an expanding list of potential witnesses and the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. Some within Trump’s circle, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, have already been interviewed by Mueller’s investigators, while others such as Hope Hicks — the White House communications director and trusted confidant of the president — and White House counsel Donald McGahn are expected in coming weeks. One Republican operative in frequent contact with the White House described Mueller’s team “working through the staff like Pac-Man.” “Of course they are worried,” said the Republican, who insisted on anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “Anybody that ever had the words ‘Russia’ come out of their lips or in an email, they’re going to get talked to. These things are thorough and deep. It’s going to be a long winter.” . . .

Witnesses questioned by Mueller’s team warn that investigators are asking about other foreign contacts and meetings that have not yet become public, and to expect a series of new revelations. . . .

“The president says, ‘This is all just an annoyance. I did nothing,’ ” said one person close to the administration. “He is somewhat arrogant about it. But this investigation is a classic Gambino-style roll-up. You have to anticipate this roll-up will reach everyone in this administration.” . . . “When the staff gather in the morning at the White House now, they jokingly say: ‘Good morning. Are you wired?’ ” one person close to the administration said. 

Whoa

https://politicalwire.com/2017/11/19/mueller-requests-documents-justice-department/
Mueller Seeks Documents from Justice Department  

Coming soon: a sharper focus on Michael Flynn 

https://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2017/11/im-fascinated-by-this-latest-twist-in.html 

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/20/paul-manafort-michael-flynn-case-strategy-trump-russia-probe-247643

When did Russian spies first take an interest in Trump? 

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/19/trump-first-moscow-trip-215842
The form demanded basic details—name, profession, family situation, and material circumstances. There were other questions, too: what was the likelihood that the “subject could come to power (occupy the post of president or prime minister)”? And an assessment of personality. For example: “Are pride, arrogance, egoism, ambition or vanity among subject’s natural characteristics?” The most revealing section concerned kompromat. The document asked for: “Compromising information about subject, including illegal acts in financial and commercial affairs, intrigues, speculation, bribes, graft … and exploitation of his position to enrich himself.” Plus “any other information” that would compromise the subject before “the country’s authorities and the general public.” Naturally the KGB could exploit this by threatening “disclosure.” Finally, “his attitude towards women is also of interest.” The document wanted to know: “Is he in the habit of having affairs with women on the side?”

The GOP tax plan is a disaster

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stancollender/2017/11/19/gop-tax-bill-is-the-end-of-all-economic-sanity-in-washington/#73cbf42777ef
If it's enacted, the GOP tax cut now working its way through Congress will be the start of a decades-long economic policy disaster unlike any other that has occurred in American history . . . [read on]

Don't call it "tax reform" http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/the-republican-plan-is-the-opposite-of-tax-reform.html
 
Maybe this will help you sleep a bit better

http://crooksandliars.com/2017/11/us-nuclear-general-says-he-would-resist
U.S. Nuclear General Says He Would Resist 'Illegal' Trump Strike Order

Trump intervenes with the Chinese government on behalf of three UCLA basketball players who got caught foolishly shoplifting. Good for him -- but then undoes whatever credit he might deserve by petulantly whining that the players aren't "grateful" enough

https://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/11/19/technical-foul-trump-goes-there-again/
"I should have left them in jail!"

More: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/11/trump-regrets-not-leaving-ucla-players

Ah, yes, The "war on men"

https://politicalwire.com/2017/11/19/alabama-pastor-says-theres-war-men/

Bonus item: Hillary Clinton "resigns" as the president in Fox World

https://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2017/11/they-finally-got-clinton-to-resign.html

More: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/18/hillary-clinton-trump-bill-arkansas-247679
Hillary Clinton: Trump 'is obsessed' with me

***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.***

Sunday, November 19, 2017

LOSER


Trump calls Clinton ‘The Worst (And Biggest) Loser Of All Time’. File that away, will you? What will we call Trump when it is shown that his campaign was infiltrated by Russian interests, and his narrow electoral victory secured by Russian interference magnified by corruption, lies, and tacit if not overt coordination with his own people? And that isn't even to say the possibility of impeachment or forced resignation if it is ever shown that he was knowledgeable and involved at the time, or engaged in obstruction of justice after the fact

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-attack-clinton-loser-election-legitimacy

A look back: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/11/six-months-ago-donald-trump-fired-the-director-of-the-fbi/
This is your periodic reminder that six months ago the president of the United States fired the director of the FBI. Then he went on national TV and admitted that he had done it because he was exasperated with Comey’s investigation of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign (“this Russia thing”). And nothing happened. . . .

[NB: Yet . . . ]  

Pressure builds on Jared Kushner

https://thinkprogress.org/jared-kushner-missing-emails-31bf5f00d577/
Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner has spent much of the past few months playing a cat-and-mouse game with special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators working to unearth possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. But several media reports this week detailing missing documents that the president’s son-in-law may have kept from congressional investigators suggest that the walls around him may be closing in. . . .

More: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/kushner-lawyer-senate-committee-request-documents
The senators noted they have received documents from other campaign officials that were copied to or forwarded to Kushner, but which he did not produce.  . . . In the letter to Kushner, the senators noted they had asked him to provide documents to, from, or copied to him “relating to” certain individuals of interest to investigators, but Kushner responded that no emails had been found in which those individuals were sent emails, received emails, or were copied on them. Lowell replied that Kushner had provided the Judiciary panel with the same documents he had provided the intelligence panels, believing that would be enough to satisfy the Judiciary request. . . .

Following up a theme from yesterday

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/18/swamp-diary-jack-shafer-wikileaks-don-trump-jr-215841
If we've learned anything from months of scandal reporting, the Russians set their sights on two types of people wandering the halls of Trump Tower. There were the self-promoters like Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort who they knew would cooperate based on direct or potential payouts. But the Russians also shopped a second group of Tower denizens, the over-their-heads strivers often compared to the hapless Fredo Corleone. These Fredos—George Papadopoulos and Carter Page—attracted Russian agents like magnets, and were easily manipulated by direct appeals to their stooped egos. But of all the Fredos occupying Trump world, perhaps Donald Trump Jr. proved to be the easiest mark for the Russians. . . . [read on]

The right always has an excuse for any scandal -- that keeping the Supreme Court conservative is more important, and trumps (sorry) any other consideration

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/kay-ivey-to-vote-for-scofflaw-roy-moore-to-help-shape-scotus.html
Alabama Governor To Vote For Scofflaw Roy Moore To Help Shape SCOTUS

Trump helps the narrative: https://politicalwire.com/2017/11/18/trump-adds-5-list-possible-supreme-court-justices/
“In a move certain to please conservatives, President Trump added five names to his list of candidates for a prospective U.S. Supreme Court vacancy as he presses ahead with a campaign to move the federal judiciary to the right,” Reuters reports.

[NB: Yes, that's right. The female governor of Alabama, who says she BELIEVES the women accusing Moore, says in effect, I'd rather vote for a child molester than a Democrat.]

The tax cut's big math problem

https://politicalwire.com/2017/11/18/shocking-math-gop-tax-plan/
Adam Davidson: “If it gives us nothing else positive, the Republican tax plan—and, in its Senate form, the health-care repeal—at least provides clarity. There is no debate. The middle class will, in the long run, pay more in taxes than under current law, and the rich will pay less.” [read on]

More: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/11/17/1716608/-Are-so-called-GOP-deficit-hawks-worried-enough-about-their-tax-plan-s-price-tag-to-tank-it
Are so-called GOP 'deficit hawks' worried enough about their tax plan's price tag to tank it?

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/17/senate-tax-reform-roadblocks-168761
Tax reform roadblocks emerge in Senate

Donald Jr enjoys killing animals like elephants and cutting them up for trophies. Dad lifted a ban on importing elephant items, then after a massive global outcry decided to maintain it . . . for now

https://www.salon.com/2017/11/18/trump-reverses-decision-to-allow-elephant-trophy-imports-but-will-it-stay/ 

The White House Adult Day Care Center

https://politicalwire.com/2017/11/18/aides-give-trying-control-trumps-tweets/
Aides Give Up Trying to Control Trump’s Tweets 

https://politicalwire.com/2017/11/18/trump-still-loves-polls/
“Aides in the White House often show Trump polls designed to make him feel good, according to aides and advisers. Usually they’re the ones that focus just on voters who cast ballots for him in 2016 or are potential Trump supporters —Trump’s base—but occasionally include public polls like Rasmussen, depending on what the numbers say.”

Let's hope

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/18/donald-trump-tweets-polls-swing-voters-215840
Trump’s Tweets Are Hurting Him

I'm certainly not the one to ask for advice about the future of the Republican party. But I am struck by the reaction of people like Nicole Wallace and Steve Schmidt, lifelong GOP operatives who are apoplectic about Trump (I have recommended Wallace's afternoon show on MSNBC, on which Schmidt is a frequent guest). Wallace and Schmidt, if you have read "Game Change" or seen the movie adaptation, were appalled by Sarah Palin during John McCain's 2008 campaign, on which they worked. These are conservatives about whom we would disagree on most issues; but the issue here is something else. The Republican party faces an existential crisis. There are serious Republicans with views on the economy, trade, and foreign policy -- views we criticize here. Then there is the Republican clown show: Palin, Trump, Moore, Gohmert, Bannon, most of the Fox News crowd. They are the GOP version of identity politics, based in white resentment, theocracy, nativism, and extremist views on most social issues. For these folks, forcing bakers to make cakes for gay weddings is one of the Most Urgent Issues facing humanity today. These wackos speak to and for a highly energized base that is indispensable to electoral success on the national level, and even mainstream Republicans have played footsie with them for the sake of expedience. But now the party is threatened to be devoured by its far right wing -- and many of the mainstreamers are headed for the exits. Is the election of Trump the tipping point in this battle for the conscience of the party?

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/flake-hot-mic-moore-trump-gop-toast
Flake On Hot Mic: If GOP Becomes Party Of Moore And Trump, ‘We Are Toast’

Bonus item: SNL has to take down Al Franken, an SNL alum

https://www.thedailybeast.com/snl-takes-down-al-franken-one-of-its-own-this-is-bad

***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.***

Saturday, November 18, 2017

PRETZEL LOGIC

Watch the Trump admin try to explain why the Al Franken sexual abuse case is oh-so different from the Roy Moore -- and Donald Trump -- sexual abuse cases

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/17/trump-tweet-al-franken-roy-moore-kellyanne-conway-246732
President Donald Trump felt compelled to tweet out his thoughts on allegations of sexual misconduct against Sen. Al Franken because they represented a “brand new news story,” counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said Friday, explaining away the difference between the president’s Franken tweets and his relatively couched comments on allegations against Republican Roy Moore. “Al Franken was a brand new news story yesterday, and the president weighed in as he does on the news of the day often enough,” Conway told Fox News Friday morning. “The Roy Moore story is eight days old . . . .” 

https://thinkprogress.org/white-house-trump-franken-1a68c5737f7f/
During Friday’s White House Press Briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders fielded questions about President Trump’s Thursday night tweets calling for an investigation of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) in response to accusations of sexual assault. Sanders rejected any suggestion that Trump should likewise be investigated for any of the accusations made against him. . . . When asked to clarify how Trump and Franken were any different, Sanders responded, “I think in one case specifically, Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing. The president hasn’t. It a very clear distinction.” . . . [read on] 

More: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/white-house-tries-defend-trumps-double-standard-misconduct

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/white-house-wont-say-trump-believes-moore-accusers
White House Still Won’t Say If Trump Believes Moore Accusers

Trump's "Frankenstien" (sic) tweets backfire (thanks to SC for the link)

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-al-franken-tweet-backfires_us_5a0e731ae4b045cf43708e39?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003 

More and more focus on Sam Clovis, part of the early core Trump team, and we're finding that pro-Russian sentiment was a part of the campaign focus from the very beginning. And it was Clovis who brought other maniacs like Carter Page into the foreign policy team, and who supervised George Papadopoulos

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/clovis-expressed-staunchly-pro-russian-views-a-year-before-campaign

More: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/prime-beta/the-significance-of-sam-clovis
According to the Papadopoulos plea deal, after signing on to the campaign, the first he heard was Clovis telling him that a rapprochement with Russia would be a “principal” focus of the campaign. 

Lies, lies, and more lies. A brief overview of the Trump-Russia story

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-russia-investigations-spectacular-accumulation-of-lies/2017/11/16/741024bc-cb0e-11e7-8321-481fd63f174d_story.html?utm_term=.45a2f535e10f
In all of this, there is a spectacular accumulation of lies. Lies on disclosure forms. Lies at confirmation hearings. Lies on Twitter. Lies in the White House briefing room. Lies to the FBI. Self-protective lies by the attorney general. Blocking and tackling lies by Vice President Pence. This is, with a few exceptions, a group of people for whom truth, political honor, ethics and integrity mean nothing. What are the implications? President Trump and others in his administration are about to be hit by a legal tidal wave. We look at the Russia scandal and see lies. A skilled prosecutor sees leverage. People caught in criminal violations make more cooperative witnesses. Robert S. Mueller III and his A-team of investigators have plenty of stupidity and venality to work with. They are investigating an administration riven by internal hatreds — also the prosecutor’s friend. . . . 

Another angle on obstruction? 

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/11/was_trump_intentionally_trying_to_block_the_investigation_into_flynn_s_turkey.html 

Ha, ha, ha -- SO funny, Jeff! 

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/17/jeff-sessions-jokes-russian-meetings-federalist-society-247320
Attorney General Jeff Sessions opened a speech at a Federalist Society gathering Friday by asking the audience if there were “any Russians” in attendance. “I just was thinking, I want to ask you: Is Ambassador Kislyak in the room? Before I get started here, any Russians?” Sessions said, eliciting laughter and applause from the crowd. “Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia or something?” . . . 

By the way: he might have been lying, but Papadopoulos claimed to have more than one conversation or meeting with Trump himself

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/17/george-papadopoulos-trump-greece-russia-245668

We've talked before here about how espionage probes a target for weak spots. If it's rebuffed once, it looks somewhere else. And it looks like the Russians figured out that Donald Junior was one of the weak spots

https://politicalwire.com/2017/11/17/russian-tried-broker-backdoor-meeting-trump/
“A senior Russian official who claimed to be acting at the behest of President Vladimir Putin of Russia tried in May 2016 to arrange a meeting between Mr. Putin and Donald Trump,” the New York Times reports. “The news of this reached the Trump campaign in a very circuitous way. An advocate for Christian causes emailed campaign aides saying that Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Russian central bank who has been linked both to Russia’s security services and organized crime, had proposed a meeting between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump. The subject line of the email, turned over to Senate investigators, read, ‘Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite,’ . . .”

[NB: Why "backdoor," if it was innocent?]

More: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/kushner-failed-disclose-outreach-putin-ally-trump-campaign-n822021 
President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, failed to disclose what lawmakers called a "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite" involving a banker [Aleksander Torshin] who has been accused of links to Russian organized crime, three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. . . . Kushner rebuffed the request . . . "Pass on this," Kushner responded . . . However, Torshin was seated with the candidate's son, Donald Trump Jr., during a private dinner on the sidelines of a May 2016 NRA event . . . [read on] 

All about the benjamins

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/1716456
When the investigation into the Trump campaign brings up charges of money laundering and shady property deals, it may seem like a sideline. But it shouldn’t. No one expects Donald Trump to secretly have a shrine to Lenin in the basement of Trump Tower. Michael Flynn didn’t offer to kidnap a cleric because the man offended his religious views. Paul Manafort wasn’t sending Putin plans to “greatly benefit his government” because he really, really wants to see democracy crushed—though given Manafort’s track record, he might. The truth is simple: They’re in it for the money . . . 

This stinks

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/trump-now-footing-his-bill-for-russia-investigation-costs.html
President Trump is now spending some of his famously inflated fortune to pay his own legal bills related to the continuing investigations into Russian electoral interference, and he may use some of his own money to help out staffers who have been caught up in the probes, Bloomberg reported on Friday. Until now, Trump had been using funds donated from his reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee to cover the burgeoning costs. Reuters reported that the RNC had spent more than $230,000 on Trump’s legal fees in August alone. The cost of being investigated can quickly spiral: A single interview with with a congressional committee, or Special Counsel Robert Mueller, can come out to more than $30,000. White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who joined Trump’s legal team over the summer, told Bloomberg that the White House was crafting a plan that would allow Trump to pay staffers’ bills while conforming to ethics regulations, since, with Trump paying the bills of underlings, they may have more incentive to deliver Trump-friendly answers to investigators. . . .

More Trump corruption

https://www.salon.com/2017/11/17/a-trump-branded-panama-city-tower-has-connections-to-organized-crime-report/
A Trump-branded Panama City tower has connections to organized crime: report

Heh

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/1716502
In another court loss, Trump admin ordered to turn over documents regarding decision to end DACA

This is just cruel: https://politicalwire.com/2017/11/17/trump-plans-end-work-permits-h-1b-spouses/
Trump Plans to End Work Permits for H-1B Spouses 

The Keystone pipeline spill shows that the Trump admin short-cutted safety reviews in rushing it into approval

https://thinkprogress.org/keystone-pipeline-spill-5bd8b44296da

Where Trump gets his judge candidates

https://thinkprogress.org/federalist-society-chairman-court-packing-454b5047bea1 

Team Trump intentionally crafts "fake news," then plants it into the media

https://politicalwire.com/2017/11/17/chris-christie-mcdonalds-trump-order/
Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg admitted to Politico that he planted a fake story about Gov. Chris Christie (R) “fetching” Donald Trump’s order from McDonald’s in an effort to embarrass the New Jersey governor.

Trouble for tax reform

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/17/senate-tax-reform-roadblocks-168761 
Tax reform roadblocks emerge in Senate

More: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/17/us/politics/accounting-manuevers-republican-tax-overhaul.html
Accounting 'Gimmicks' in G.O.P.'s Tax Overhaul Mask Higher Cost, Deficit Hawks Say 

You won't be surprised to hear

https://politicalwire.com/2017/11/17/moore-often-sided-defendants-sex-crimes-cases/ 
In Sex Crimes and Other Cases, Roy Moore Often Sided With Defendants

More: http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/360440-moore-argued-against-state-law-protecting-rape-victims-report 
Moore argued against state law protecting rape victims

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/14/roy-moore-alabama-law-rape-victims-judge
Among Moore’s 10 dissents was the case of David Pittman, who had pleaded guilty to the rape of a 12-year-old girl. Moore in September 2015 said that Pittman ought to have been allowed to present evidence to court indicating that the girl had been sexually active and had a sexually transmitted disease.

Bonus item: I was thinking just a couple of days ago that we've been blessed by the absence of the Ninny from Wasilla, who was so ubiquitous for so long. Well, she's b-a-a-a-ck!

http://crooksandliars.com/2017/11/sarah-palin-brags-shes-never-been-harassed
Sarah Palin Brags She's Never Been Harassed Because She's 'Packing' A Gun

***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.***