Wednesday, September 20, 2017

THE THREE AMIGOS


In spring and early summer 2016, three guys were put at the heart of the Trump campaign with direct (and shady) Russia ties. A simple question: WHY?

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/understanding-what-was-happening-in-late-spring-2016 

More: https://thinkprogress.org/manafort-secret-work-putin-russia-trump-e6a62d04cd45/

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/09/five-questions-about-the-manafort-investigation/540270/?utm_source=feed
Five Questions About the Manafort Investigation

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/19/1699819/-Manafort-was-under-investigation-before-during-and-after-his-time-working-for-Trump-for-good-reason:
That Manafort was under investigation seems completely reasonable, considering:
  • Manafort met with Russian officials in 2005 and offered to help Vladimir Putin influence US politics to benefit Russia.
  • Manafort helped to organize anti-Nato, anti-America “protests” in Ukraine that including attacks on US marines. These funded protests served as an excuse to move Ukraine away from the west and provided Vladimir Putin a reason to invade Crimea.
  • He failed to register as a foreign agent until June of 2017, despite years of taking money from pro-Russian factions in Ukraine and using it in an attempt to influence US lawmakers.
  • He took as much as $20 million in off the books funding from pro-Russian forces, money that was funneled through Cyprus banks and connected to Trump associate Felix Sater.
  • He’s under investigation in Ukraine for work for pro-Russian forces that seemed to continue even after Manafort returned to the United States and for his involvement in an ongoing corruption case.
  • He not only got a loan that represented just under the legal limit from a private bank, he failed to pay taxes on at least one of his loans.
  • He not only represented Russian puppet Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine, but also Philippine kleptocrat Ferdinand Marcos, Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, and Angolan guerilla leader Jonas Savimbi—earning Manafort the reputation as the go-to lobbyist for dictators.
All of that was before Manafort took a role in the Trump campaign.

http://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/09/19/paul-manafort-and-the-russia-investigation/
The biggest revelation in the latest reporting is that Manafort was in communication with the president during a time in which he was under electronic surveillance. That opens up the possibility of a smoking gun intercept that could take Trump down. The president isn’t exactly known for his situational awareness and discretion, so I wouldn’t discount the possibility that he implicated himself in a crime while chatting with Manafort on the phone. 

No, the fact that Manafort was wiretapped, and that some of his conversations with Trump might have been recorded, doesn't "vindicate" Trump's outrageous claim that Obama wiretapped HIM

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/09/does-the-latest-manafort-news-vindicate-trumps-wiretap-claim/540321/?utm_source=feed  

And by the way, why WAS Trump continuing to talk to Manafort?

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/19/1699870/-Why-exactly-was-Trump-talking-to-Manafort-as-recently-as-earlier-this-year
 
Michael Cohen's big mouth gets him in trouble (again)

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/19/1699783/-Senate-Intel-Committee-quashes-meeting-with-Trump-s-lawyer-for-violating-agreement-to-keep-quiet
Senate Intel Committee quashes meeting with Trump's lawyer for violating agreement to keep quiet

More: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/09/19/team-trumps-latest-defense-in-mueller-probe-trump-is-the-victim-here/?utm_term=.fad930ce8658
Team Trump’s latest defense in Mueller probe: Trump is the victim here  

Joe Scarborough: Trump staffers should get smart, save themselves

http://crooksandliars.com/2017/09/morning-joe-investigation-talk-mueller
"You know Bob Mueller and from the very beginning, you told us Mueller does not play around," Joe Scarborough said to Mike Barnicle. "He is the antithesis of everything Donald Trump is. He is a man that repeatedly throughout his entire life believed that if you have integrity, nothing else matters and if you don't have integrity, nothing else matters. He is straight out of a sort of an Untouchables movie." [read on] 

Well, you know HE'S not going to pay for it

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/19/16336208/trump-donors-lawyers-russia
The Trump campaign and the RNC are now paying Trump’s legal bills in the Russia case
 
Trump, at the U.N., speaks like the Great Statesman we all know he is

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/19/trump-warns-against-authoritarian-regimes-in-un-speech-242876
President Donald Trump condemned authoritarian regimes in harsh and Trumpian terms during his first United Nations speech, threatening to "totally destroy" North Korea, lamenting Iran’s “pursuit of death and destruction,” and warning that major portions of the world are “going to hell.” The president spoke before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, delivering what a senior administration official described beforehand as a “deeply philosophical address” promoting his vision of “principled realism.”

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/19/1699744/-Trump-attacks-North-Korea-Iran-and-others-as-he-tells-UN-that-Rocket-man-is-on-a-suicide-mission
Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations was highlighted—in the most bizarre sense of the word—by his direct threat to North Korea. “If it is forced to defend itself or it’s allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself, and for his regime.” CNN has reported that this line was Trump’s personal contribution to the speech and that he “insisted” that it be left in. . . .

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-reckless-regime-iran-united-nations
Trump Trashes Iran Nuclear Deal As An ‘Embarrassment’ At The UN

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-tells-unga-us-will-not-be-taken-advantage-of
Trump To UN: America Will Not Be ‘Taken Advantage Of’ On The World Stage

More: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/09/trump-un-speech/540264/

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2017/09/trump_s_u_n_general_assembly_speech_was_hostile_and_dangerous.html

http://www.salon.com/2017/09/19/trump-warns-north-korea-during-un-speech-says-some-countries-going-to-hell/
“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” Trump said. “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States and I don’t think you have heard the last of it, believe me.” Trump’s speech was so over-the-top in its saber-rattling that George W. Bush’s former UN advisor John Bolton praised it as the best speech of Trump’s presidency on Fox News. Ambassador Bolton was followed on the right-wing network by Republican Rep Ron DeSantis of Florida who called Trump’s address a “tour de force.

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-un-speech-fact-check-6f96a8aa96c7
Fact-checking Trump’s U.N. speech

A range of reactions to Trump's speech: from Benjamin Netanyahu (loved it!) to Chief of Staff John Kelly (not so much!)

http://www.salon.com/2017/09/19/john-kelly-didnt-seem-to-enjoy-trumps-u-n-speech/

Colonel Sanders says that Obama engaged in the same saber-ratting with North Korea as Trump is doing now -- and selectively edits a quote to "prove" it. Here is the full quote, which actually says the OPPOSITE of Trump

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/19/1699790/-Sarah-Huckabee-Sanders-looks-for-an-endorsement-of-Trump-s-North-Korea-policy-from-Barack-Obama

Hey, maybe Kim Jong-Un LIKES being called "Rocket Man"

http://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/09/19/quick-takes-trumps-gift-to-rocket-man
 
What the hell IS Rex Tillerson doing with his time? 

http://www.salon.com/2017/09/19/rex-tillerson-a-no-show-at-the-united-nations/
Rex Tillerson a no-show at the United Nations

Is Summer Zervos going to become Trump's Paula Jones?

http://www.thedailybeast.com/paula-jones-lawyers-are-back-to-help-another-woman-sue-a-president

The Cesspool  

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/18/1699548/-It-s-happening-Trump-is-gaining-cash-based-on-his-policies-as-president
Trump is gaining cash based on his policies as president

Government study shows how refugees help the U.S. economy. So you know what happened to it

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/wh-reportedly-nixed-study-showing-benefits-of-refugees.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/09/19/an-internal-report-undercut-one-of-trumps-biggest-goals-so-it-was-scrapped/?utm_term=.73a1e2f9c481

Stop me if you've heard this before: the Senate is rushing and bending its own rules to ram through a bill affecting one fifth of the economy, without any clear sense of its policy consequences, simply because of the urgency to pass SOMETHING

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/senate-gop-embraces-fubar-process-for-last-ditch-obamacare-repeal-effort
 
Lindsey Graham says the real target of his bill isn't Obamacare, it's single payer health care. Here's an argument that its passage could make single payer MORE likely

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/how-cassidy-graham-would-make-single-payer-more-likely.html 

More: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/health-care-republicans-may-regret-opening-door
Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican freshman from Louisiana, said yesterday that he likes the idea of turning health care over to the states – the core rationale behind the pending Graham-Cassidy proposal – but he’s not entirely comfortable with the direction some blue states might take, “If you give California and New York a big chunk of money, they’re gonna set up a single-payer system,” the GOP senator said. “And I wanna prevent that.” It’s curious. Republicans only seem to like turning over authority to states and local governments when they’re confident states and local governments will govern in a conservative way. . .  [read on]

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/09/trumpcare-3-0-will-eliminate-health-insurance-for-25-million-people/
Trumpcare 3.0 Will Eliminate Health Insurance For 25 Million People

Did the Bernie and the Dems jump the gun by trumpeting their intentions on single payer, giving the Graham-Cassidy bill an unintended boost?

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/19/bernie-sanders-single-payer-obamacare-242894

Trying to represent Graham-Cassidy as the only game in town, the House and the WH say they will never back stabilization "fixes" to Obamacare

https://politicalwire.com/2017/09/19/ryan-white-house-reject-bipartisan-health-fix/

More: https://thinkprogress.org/lindsay-graham-repeal-strategy-82c38693534d/
Lindsay Graham brags about his shockingly cynical strategy to repeal Obamacare

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/19/16330094/cassidy-graham-hypocrisy
The staggering hypocrisy of Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham  

McCain says he will insist on "regular order" for the Graham-Cassidy bill. That's not going to happen. So then what will he do?

https://thinkprogress.org/gop-trumpcare-irregular-order-42c4a08a768d
GOP rushes to pass Trumpcare through irregular order

https://politicalwire.com/2017/09/19/mccain-faces-new-test-principles/
McCain Faces a New Test of His Principles 

More: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/senate-to-hold-phony-graham-cassidy-hearings.html 

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/09/mccain-murkowski-senate-obamacare-repeal/540378/?utm_source=feed
The Two Republicans Who Will Likely Determine Obamacare's Fate

Can the Dems use procedural tactics to run out the clock on this abomination?

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/19/obamacare-repeal-senate-democrats-242909 

What will the House do if it comes to them? The only option will be passing it as-is

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/20/obamacare-repeal-house-senate-republicans-242892 

Congress passes a Defense bill even bigger than Trump asked for

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/senate-defense-policy-bill-700-billion 

No, the Repubs don't care about budget deficits at all -- when they're causing them

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/senate-republicans-reach-tentative-agreement-on-tax-plan

Theocracy watch

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/roy-moore-us-has-asked-for-shootings-and-killings-god
Former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore (R), a controversial religious conservative running for Senate, claimed earlier this year that “shootings and killings” in the United States take place because “we’ve taken God out of everything.” . . . “You wonder why we’re having shootings and killings in 2017? Because we’ve asked for it. We’ve taken God out of everything,” he said. “We’ve taken prayer out of school. We’ve taken prayer out of council meetings.”

Tribalism: the Founding Fathers worried about it, and it's still a problem

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/can-democracy-survive-tribalism.html

A glimpse into race in America

http://www.salon.com/2017/09/19/new-study-white-people-lack-empathy-across-the-socioeconomic-spectrum
New study: White people lack empathy across the socioeconomic spectrum

More: http://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/09/19/what-whiteness-looks-like-from-a-black-perspective/
What Whiteness Looks Like From a Black Perspective 

Go away, Bill. Just go away

https://thinkprogress.org/bill-oreilly-bad-0d595d59d3ee
O’Reilly reemerges on NBC, viciously attacks women who accused him of sexual harassment

More: https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/4/12/15207446/bill-oreilly-sexual-harassment-fox-news
Another former Fox News employee is filing a sexual harassment suit against the network

You can talk about "liberal media" all you want -- but it is the Republicans who have erased the line between "news" and "political party"

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/republican-propaganda-efforts-reach-new-alarming-level

More: http://www.salon.com/2017/09/19/republicans-are-creating-their-own-news-outlet/


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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

HIGH RENT DISTRICT


Trump opens his remarks to the U.N. . . . by bragging about his Tower across the street

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-un-praises-trump-world-tower
After Trump won the 2016 election, his transition website, greatagain.gov, incorrectly claimed that he owned the property, Bloomberg reported. The same publication noted in March that, amid Russian domestic financial turmoil in 2001, Trump World Tower “became a prominent depository of Russian money.”  

It didn't get any better from there: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2017/09/trump_s_first_united_nations_appearance_was_a_clunker.html


Trump is envious of countries that have big military parades -- so now he wants one too, on the Fourth of July

https://politicalwire.com/2017/09/18/trump-wants-military-parade-july-4th/

More: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-wants-to-top-france-military-parade
Trump Tells Macron He Wants To ‘Try And Top’ France’s Military Parade For July 4

In a couple of weeks a new book is coming out in which 27 shrinks say that Trump has serious mental health issues

http://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/09/18/what-makes-trump-so-dangerous/

The other shoe drops -- and it's a big one

https://www.vox.com/2017/9/18/16330978/paul-manafort-wiretap-indictment
Reports: Paul Manafort was wiretapped, has been told to expect an indictment . . .

In Perez, Prokupecz, and Brown’s report that Manafort was wiretapped, there are several interesting details. First, the original FISA court order to surveil Manafort was issued before he got involved with the Trump campaign, as part of an investigation into “work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine's former ruling party.” . . . Then, per CNN, there was a key gap in the surveillance involving, at the very least, the period in June 2016 when Donald Trump Jr. arranged a meeting with a Russian lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton — a meeting Manafort attended. At some point after that, the reporters write, a new FISA court order was issued for surveillance on Manafort. Importantly, this one was issued specifically because to look for information about potential collusion with Russia. Here are two key paragraphs: "The FBI interest deepened last fall because of intercepted communications between Manafort and suspected Russian operatives, and among the Russians themselves, that reignited their interest in Manafort, the sources told CNN . . . Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive." . . .

Then, the New York Times’ LaFraniere, Apuzzo, and Goldman add a few new details to the account of the July FBI raid of Manafort’s home — most notably this one: "The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation." . . .

Of course, threatening an indictment is not the same as actually issuing one. All this could be tough talk designed to intimidate and scare Manafort into making some sort of cooperation deal. We don’t really know what evidence Mueller has, so we can’t say. It’s also unclear what, exactly, Manafort would be indicted for. It is possible he would be indicted for activities that entirely preceded the campaign, involving either disclosures of his Ukraine work or his finances. If that’s the case, President Trump could credibly claim that any of those allegations have nothing to do with him. The other possibility, though, is that Manafort would be indicted on charges related in some form to collusion with Russia during the campaign. And if that transpires, that would truly send an earthquake through Washington.

More: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/making-sense-of-the-manafort-fisa-report
Let’s walk through this. The article actually says there were two FISA warrants. One was prior to the 2016 election and apparently unrelated to it. That one focused on Manafort’s work for the then Russia-aligned government of Ukraine. It lapsed some time in early 2016. The election warrant began in 2016 and extended into the early months of 2017. The report says it grew out of, rather than triggering, the counter-intelligence probe into ties between Trump campaign officials/associates and Russian intelligence operatives.  . . . [read on]

Will Manafort flip? https://politicalwire.com/2017/09/19/will-paul-manafort-flip/


How STUPID are Trump's lawyers, to have a discussion of the case in a public place where they can be overheard?

http://crooksandliars.com/2017/09/trump-lawyers-gossip-over-lunch-nearby

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/09/18/trumps-lawyer-has-a-big-mouth-heres-what-that-tells-us-about-muellers-probe/?utm_term=.5a9837dd035e

More: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/09/trumps-turbulent-lawyers/540186/
Why Is Trump's Legal Team So Messy?

What the Facebook search warrant tells us about the Trump/Russia investigation

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/mueller-russia-facebook-search-warrant
“This is not a wild goose chase, it’s not just a fishing expedition.  [It shows] that there is good reason to be believe that someone committed criminal behavior, we just don’t know who that was and exactly what the behavior was,” Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor and former federal prosecutor, told TPM. “Given the recent revelations, it’s hard to keep calling this a witch hunt,” she later added. . . . “To get a search warrant like that, you have to show a judge that there is probable cause that evidence of a crime will be found at the location,” said Harvard Law professor and former federal prosecutor Alex Whiting. “The fact that they got a search warrant shows that the investigation is moving forward and that they have found some evidence of crimes.”

A terrific overview of the scope of Mueller's investigation

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/18/how-to-read-bob-mueller-hand-215616

Senator says that the threats from Colonel Sanders from the White House podium saying that James Comey should be investigated are potentially more links in the nexus of intimidating witnesses and obstructing justice

http://crooksandliars.com/2017/09/sen-whitehouse-says-sarah-huckabee-sanders

Trump has been whining that the Russia investigation is just an attempt by those loser Democrats to delegitimize his election. The answer is: DAMN STRAIGHT. If he was elected through interference in the election by a foreign power (yes he was), if any of his people were aware of and encouraging that (yes they were), if illegally obtained information was interjected into the process BY TRUMP'S OWN PEOPLE (yes it was), then the results of an electoral victory that was decided by a mere 80,000 votes across three states SHOULD be questioned as legitimate

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/clinton-election-legitimacy
Clinton Says She Won’t Rule Out Challenging Election Legitimacy 

Looks like Sect'y of State Tillerson is checking out

https://politicalwire.com/2017/09/18/state-department-adrift/
“As President Trump faces a collection of world leaders at his first United Nations General Assembly this week, U.S. officials are working behind the scenes to allay fears among foreign delegations that America’s foreign policy decisions have become too dominated by the West Wing, and that the U.S. State Department, where many crucial positions remain unfilled, is adrift,” NBC News reports. “At the center of this concern is Tillerson, whose diminishing role in the administration is being blamed for the State Department’s lagging clout… Three senior State Department officials told NBC News that there a number of meetings with foreign delegations at this week’s UNGA that Tillerson either ignored or refused to attend.”

Meanwhile, Nikki Haley on the rise: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/17/world/americas/nikki-haley-un-trump.html?mcubz=1

Trump's weekend tweet said there are "long gas lines" in North Korea. Nope

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-claim-north-korea-gas-lines-no-obvious-evidence

The hard core Trumpians don't consider themselves Republicans

https://politicalwire.com/2017/09/18/trump-backers-blame-republicans-first/

No, things are not getting better for black Americans

https://thinkprogress.org/black-americans-face-discrimination-in-hiring-process-fbbd601a0896/
Wage gap between blacks and whites is larger today than it was 40 years ago

More: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/09/18/white-people-are-really-confident-things-are-getting-better-for-black-people/?utm_term=.0e01713cf0e0 

Now you know why scientists were downloading and backing up this stuff

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-officials-erase-climate-data-2a4e4fe81f96/
Trump administration removes links to taxpayer-funded climate data on USGS website

The Cesspool: where is the leftover money from the $100 million Trump raised for his inauguration?

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/questions-surround-trumps-25-million-inaugural-concert 

What have you heard about the new GOP health care bill besides "block grants"?

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/18/1698925/-Wave-good-bye-to-your-pre-existing-condition-protections-under-new-Trumpcare-bill
This bill would "give states broad waiver authority to eliminate the ACA's core protections for people with pre-existing health conditions." . . .

https://thinkprogress.org/the-gops-on-the-verge-of-passing-a-bill-that-will-phase-out-medicaid-in-its-entirety-c2677f7de2f3
The GOP’s on the verge of passing a bill that will phase out Medicaid in its entirety
The Senate Trumpcare bill could leave many veterans with no health care

4 Ways Graham-Cassidy Would Make the Health-Care System Far Worse

Will the Repubs shortcut the CBO score?
But on Monday, the CBO revealed that this last obstacle may prove an unlikely asset. The budget office announced that, while it will provide “a preliminary assessment” of the Graham-Cassidy bill early next week, it will be unable “to provide point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks.” . . .

Here are the key votes. It's very close
Arizona Governor Backs O’care Repeal, Likely Securing McCain’s And Flake’s Votes 

McCain is being McCainy, but it's hard to imagine he won't ultimately vote for his pal Lindsey's bill

“We’ve had nine months. That’s my answer. We’ve had nine months to get it done and we haven’t. Is it my problem now that we only have a week? It’s not my problem.”  
      — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in an interview with CNN, still insisting the GOP health care bill go through regular order.


If the Senate passes it, the House probably will too

***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.***