Friday, March 23, 2018


More from the Trump-Putin phone call. Trump promised that they would meet "soon." But nobody else knew about it

The White House wants to fire someone over the leak that Trump ignored his national security advisors' advice

[NB: You could turn it around and ask how angry and concerned someone would have to be that Trump is buddying up to Putin, against all advice to the contrary, that they would do this.]


Now we learn that it wasn't necessarily that Trump IGNORED the briefing, but that probably HE DIDN'T READ IT. I hope you feel better now

Trump's lead lawyer quits, days after saying the Mueller investigation should shut down

The Washington Post described Dowd’s departure as a “mutual decision” made when Trump lost confidence in Dowd’s strategy and Dowd became frustrated with changes on the legal team. Dowd felt that it was a bad idea for Trump to sit for an in-person interview with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, while Trump pushed for his ability to do so . . . 

[Trump, March 11] The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case and am going to add another lawyer to help out. Wrong. I am VERY happy with my lawyers . . . [read on]

Trump is having a hell of a time finding top lawyers to join his team. The reasons are obvious, aren't they?
[N]ow we also know that at least four other attorneys, and this isn't today, this is overall, four attorneys have been approached to join Trump's legal team, and they have all essentially said, thanks, but no thanks. . . .

So Trump may be returning to Marc Kasowitz, who was part of his Russia legal team but was forced out in part because he has no background in these kinds of cases. But what he has is total loyalty to Trump and an attack dog mentality
“Now I’m F---ing Doing It My Way”: Jubilant and Self-Liberated, the President Prepares for War with Mueller 

McMaster out, Bolton in

[NB: And yet another replacement of an independent, qualified advisor with an ideologue whose main qualification is total loyalty to Trump and a Fox News pedigree. And the circle of advice that Trump receives gets narrower and more hawkish.] 

What John Bolton's Appointment as National-Security Adviser Means
John Bolton, Trump’s ultra-hawkish new national security adviser, explained
The scariest things John Bolton has said
John Bolton Recorded Video For Russian Gun Group Linked To NRA
John Bolton — eyed for Trump post — leads super PAC that employed Cambridge Analytica 

Trump may fire his Chief of Staff and NOT replace him? 

Trump is now bragging about the corrupt Cambridge Analytica strategies that his team has been trying to distance him from
"Remember when they were saying, during the campaign, that Donald Trump is giving great speeches and drawing big crowds, but he is spending much less money and not using social media as well as Crooked Hillary’s large and highly sophisticated staff. Well, not saying that anymore!" [read on]

Cambridge Analytica was hired by President Trump's 2016 campaign. Mr. Trump's 2016 campaign digital guru, Brad Parscale, told "60 Minutes" last year that they didn't use the controversial "psychographic" practice because it "doesn't work."
Mueller has set his sights on the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, and Russia 

Rep. Eric Swalwell: 'Mueller Has Trump On Obstruction, Money Laundering'

DNC hacker Guccifer 2.0 was a member of Russian military intelligence

In other news. . . 

Mission accomplished!
Everyone has something to hate in Trump’s new budget

After backing $1.5 trillion tax cuts, these GOP lawmakers are suddenly concerned about the debt  

Trump says he got funding for The Wall™ (nope)

Trump announces new tariffs against China -- and stocks plummet

Of course:
China Announces Possible Retaliation Tariffs On U.S. Pork, Aluminum, Others
Mark Zuckerberg admits that Facebook needs to be regulated

Mozilla pulls ads from Facebook over Cambridge Analytica controversy

What a great job the House Intel committee did in their investigation of Trump-Russia collusion
According to the Center for American Progress’s Moscow Project, the House committee charged with investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 election obtained either no or incomplete information about 81 percent of the known contacts between Trump officials and Russians, or groups and individuals with strong Russia ties like Wikileaks. . . .

Please, please, make it stop. I don't want to hear two seventy-somethings bragging and blustering about a fist fight. Either meet during lunch break on the South Lawn, or shut the hell up

No recent president would’ve publicly degraded himself in this manner. Neither would a teenager of slightly above-average maturity. Yet Trump is unembarrassed, and unapologetic . . .

The kind of people they are
Kentucky GOP candidate apologizes for suggesting he’d shoot Democratic congressman 

[NB: "Apologizes"? I don't think that word means what you think it means.]

Pennsylvania Republicans now want to IMPEACH the judges who ruled against their gerrymandered electoral map

So we are supposed to believe that Trump is so unbelievably popular among Republicans that other GOPers are afraid to go against him. But guess what?

Karen McDougal speaks
Former Playboy Model Says Trump Tried to Pay Her After Sexual Encounter
Ex-Playboy Model Karen McDougal: Trump Told Me He Loved Me Constantly
Ex-Playboy model says she kept journal of days she met with Trump
CNN chief says Fox News is worse for America than Russian propaganda

Bonus item: Barbie plays scientist 
"your lab coat and your gloves are both the wrong size, your gloves aren't tucked, your hair is loose in an environment with moving machinery and burners and you're holding a pour off at mouth level without any kind of a face shield, nice going science genius"

More jokes:

***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 ( 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.***

Thursday, March 22, 2018


The White House is freaking out (a) that Trump ignored the advice of his national security team on Russia and (b) that we found out about it
Inside the White House, Trump’s Putin call was an ‘OMG moment’
Leak Stuns White House 

I understand why they feel that way
South Korea doesn’t think Trump should meet Kim Jong-un alone 

Trump responds, says, Hey, it's a GOOD thing that I get along with Putin. Well, maybe, but not at the cost of overlooking or enabling Russia's bad behavior
[Trump] “I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also). The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump wrote. “They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race. Bush tried to get along, but didn’t have the “smarts.” Obama and Clinton tried, but didn’t have the energy or chemistry (remember RESET). PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!”  

There’s just one problem: Russia is responsible for creating most of the national security problems Trump mentioned, which means there’s no reason to think that Putin would have any real interest in working with the US to solve them. [read on]


"DO NOT CONGRATULATE" - some humor:

Crazy leftists
The former director of the CIA suggested Wednesday that President Donald Trump is withholding criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin because the Russians might have compromising personal information on Trump. "I think he is afraid of the President of Russia," John Brennan said of Trump in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." Asked why, Brennan said, "The Russians could have something on him personally that they could always roll out and make his life more difficult." . . .
On Friday, a retired four-star Army general tweeted that President Donald Trump is a “serious threat” to national security. Barry McCaffrey, who worked as the White House’s drug czar during the Bill Clinton administration, said Trump is refusing to protect the United States from Russian attacks and appears to be “under the sway” of Russian president Vladimir Putin. . . .

[NB: This is the thing that is being talked about more openly: Why is Trump so obsequious and deferential to Putin? Does Putin have something, personal or financial, over his head? Brennan is a well-connected intelligence pro. Does he know something?]

Cambridge Analytica: an overview of what we know

Did Cambridge Analytica Leverage Russian Disinformation for Trump?

CA CEO brags that they won the election for Trump; later CA denies it
In one exchange, Nix said he had met Trump "many times" and described what the firm undertook for his campaign. "We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting — we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign, and our data informed all the strategy," Nix said. In another conversation, Cambridge Analytica's chief data officer, Alexander Tayler, argued that the firm's work helped Trump emerge victorious.  . . .
In a statement, Cambridge Analytica, which worked on Facebook ads for the Trump campaign, said it "never claimed" it won the election for the president. . . .

Remember: Steve Bannon worked for CA before working for Trump -- and they were already test-marketing slogans like "drain the swamp," "deep state," and "build the wall" BEFORE Trump was a candidate. He got those slogans from them
[Trump] “A couple of you are a little marginal about this, but I came up with this expression, it’s called ‘drain the swamp,’ right, drain the swamp. And I hated it, I hated it. And it was a speech during the campaign, and it was a term that was actually given to me, usually like to think them up myself, but this was given to me — which bothered me too. I never like that. But they had this expression ‘drain the swamp.’ And I hated it, I thought it was so hokey. I said, ‘that is the hokiest, give me a break, I am embarrassed to say it.’ And I was in Florida where 25,000 people were going wild, and I said, ‘and we will drain the swamp’ — the place went crazy. I couldn’t believe it. And then the next speech I said it again and they went even crazier. ‘We will drain the swamp… we will drain the swamp,’ and every time I said it I got the biggest applause. And after four or five times I said, boy what a great expression, I love saying it, it’s amazing.”


The problem with Facebook

Mueller has (at least) four areas he wants to question Trump about

[NB: These are all areas where Trump's knowledge, motivation, and state of mind are crucial. Notice that there might be other areas, based on paper trails or other evidence, where getting Trump's point of view may not be necessary.]

Trump may want to fire Mueller, but it's not that simple. Mueller can only be fired "for cause," and he has done nothing to justify that. And only Rod Rosenstein can fire him -- unless Trump fires Rosenstein too, which would be a mess. Would the Republicans let him get away with that? But even if Mueller were fired. . .
Firing Mueller won’t solve Trump’s legal problems

The big question with the Mueller investigation: will he focus narrowly on prosecutable crimes, or issue a wider report?

Is Alan Dershowitz auditioning to be Trump's lawyer?
Alan Dershowitz has carved out a role as Donald Trump’s favorite legal mind, a position he has previously held for such figures as Claus von B├╝low and O.J. Simpson. (The common thread among all these figures is not that they know they are completely innocent.)   . . . [read on]

Did the head of the FBI threaten to resign over the McCabe firing?

This stinks to high heaven
Before being fired by Sessions, Andrew McCabe reportedly authorized a criminal probe into Sessions

Trump is furious that the GOP spending bill doesn't include funding for The Wall™ and he says he might not support it

Some of Trump’s political advisers, though, see wall construction as critical to Trump’s survival. He promised a wall along the Mexican border so many times over the course of his presidential campaign that failing to deliver would be disastrous, they said ― first in the November midterms, and then in the president’s re-election campaign. They say starting construction on a border wall could mean the difference between losing 20 House seats this year and losing 50. Base voters have been patient so far ― but, the thinking goes, that could evaporate instantly if Trump and the Republican-run Congress pass a spending bill of well over $1 trillion that does not make good on one of the president’s top promises. . . .
What’s in and what’s out in the $1.3T omnibus spending bill
The 2,232 page omnibus spending bill, explained in less than 1000 words

The cult of personality
“The president is, as you know — you’ve seen his numbers among the Republican base — it’s very strong. It’s more than strong, it’s tribal in nature. People who tell me, who are out on trail, say, look, people don’t ask about issues anymore. They don’t care about issues. They want to know if you’re with Trump or not.”  
         — Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)

In other news . . . 

TV and tweets are driving government policy  

Trump says he wants to avoid an "arms race" with Russia, and then before even ending the sentence adds that no one will ever be allowed to come close to what we have. Does he know what an "arms race" is?

Give an inexperienced thirty-something unprecedented responsibilities in foreign affairs -- someone with significant financial burdens and a need to secure funding -- and then add access to highly sensitive intelligence information that he wasn't cleared to receive, and just ask, What could go wrong?
Until he was stripped of his top-secret security clearance in February, presidential adviser Jared Kushner was known around the White House as one of the most voracious readers of the President’s Daily Brief . . . Kushner, who had been tasked with bringing about a deal between Israel and Palestine, was particularly engaged by information about the Middle East . . . In June, Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman ousted his cousin, then-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and took his place as next in line to the throne, upending the established line of succession. In the months that followed, the President’s Daily Brief contained information on Saudi Arabia’s evolving political situation, including a handful of names of royal family members opposed to the crown prince’s power grab . . .

In late October, Jared Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, catching some intelligence officials off guard. “The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy,” the Washington Post’s David Ignatius reported at the time. What exactly Kushner and the Saudi royal talked about in Riyadh may be known only to them, but after the meeting, Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince, according to three sources who have been in contact with members of the Saudi and Emirati royal families since the crackdown. Kushner, through his attorney’s spokesperson, denies having done so. . . .

On November 4, a week after Kushner returned to the U.S., the crown prince, known in official Washington by his initials MBS, launched what he called an anti-corruption crackdown.  . . . One of the people MBS told about the discussion with Kushner was UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, according to a source who talks frequently to confidants of the Saudi and Emirati rulers. MBS bragged to the Emirati crown prince and others that Kushner was “in his pocket,” the source told The Intercept.
Kushner reportedly riled top national-security officials by arranging private calls with MBS and other foreign leaders. The Intercept reported that Kushner even used WhatsApp to communicate directly with Prince Mohammed, though his attorneys have advised him to stop. . . .

The Cesspool
A whopping 86% of RNC venue rental and catering expenditures last month went to Trump properties

The Austin bomber: time to use the "t" word? 

Learning more: 
Bombing suspect argued against same-sex marriage and abortion online

Groundhog Day, over and over and over again
Lawmakers Scramble To Pass Budget And Avoid Another Shutdown

Trump opposes the Republican chosen to fill Thad Cochran's seat in Mississippi -- says he won't campaign for her

New study: race trumps social class
Black Americans and American Indians in well-off families are much likelier to fall behind than white kids [read on]

The fight to replace Hope Hicks as Communications Director has been brutal
The race to become the next White House Communications Director has degenerated into a round of backstabbing and factionalism that has taken aback even the most jaded of White House aides and allies. One White House official described the contest to replace departing Trump adviser Hope Hicks as being well into its “smear campaign stage.” Another senior administration official dubbed it as a “battle royale.” And a Republican official close to the White House bemoaned yet another heavy shot of “palace intrigue and backstabbing” in an administration uniquely notorious for both. . . . 

Looks like it's Kellyanne:

What Dr. Magoo's $31,000 dining set would have paid for (thanks to SC for the link)

And a NEW excuse:
GOP Rep: The ‘Deep State’ is Responsible for Ordering Ben Carson’s Dining Set
Stop me if you've heard this before: Hillary says something dumb, Fox mischaracterizes it, then Trump uses it to bash her . . . again 

What she actually said:

Fox World REALLY doesn't want to talk about Stormy Daniels -- but they do want to talk about her lawyer

Karen McDougal could turn out to be an even bigger problem for Trump than Stormy Daniels

Trump's poll numbers drop, again 

Bonus item: Trump and Putin
June 18, 2013: Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow - if so, will he become my new best friend?

November 2013: “I do have a relationship with him and I think it’s very interesting to see what’s happened.”

Feb. 10, 2014: “When I went to Russia with the Miss Universe pageant, (Putin) contacted me and was so nice.” 

May 27, 2014: ”I own Miss Universe, I was in Russia, I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin”

June 18, 2015: When asked if he spoke to him during pageant, Trump responds, “I don't want to say.”

Oct. 6, 2015: Trump tells conservative radio host Michael Savage he’s met Vladimir Putin. “Yes,” Trump says. “Yes, a long time ago. We got along great, by the way.”

Nov. 10, 2015: "I got to know (Putin) very well because we were both on ‘60 Minutes,’ we were stablemates, and we did very well that night."

Nov. 13, 2015: Trump walks back his Putin stablemate comment, saying his 60 Minutes segment was separate from Putin’s.

Feb. 17, 2016: "I have no relationship with him,” Trump said.“

May 5, 2016: Asked if he’s ever spoken to Vladimir Putin, Trump gives a “no comment” to Fox News’ Bret Baier. “Yeah, I have no comment on that,” he said. “No comment.” 

July 27, 2016: “I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever.”

July 27, 2016:  “I never met Putin,” Trump said. “I don’t know who Putin is. . . . I never met Putin.”

 Oct. 9, 2016: “I don’t know Putin. I think it would be great if we got along with Russia because we could fight ISIS together, as an example. But I don’t know Putin.” [read on]

***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 ( 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.***