Friday, March 31, 2017


Now Trump wants to fight the Freedom Caucus AND the Democrats to get health care done. Fat chance!
The same week he announced he is "serious" about working with Democrats in Congress to pass legislation, President Donald Trump fired off a tweet Thursday morning vowing to fight them and the conservative House Freedom Caucus going forward. . . . How he plans to pass legislation through Congress without support from either Democrats or hardline conservatives remains to be seen.
President Donald Trump on Thursday went after members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus by name in a series of tweets questioning their support for his agenda. . . .

‘I Alone Can Fix It’

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, said he does not want President Donald Trump to work with Democrats on new legislation for revamping the country’s health insurance system, commonly called Obamacare. . . .
Paul Ryan doesn’t want to work with Democrats on health care. They’re running out of options.
[NB: There you have it. Trump has absolutely no intention of working with Dems, but wants to use the threat of doing so to bring recalcitrant Repubs to heel.]

We are still getting mixed narratives about the secret documents Devin Nunes says he saw. What is clear is that he has desperately tried to shift the focus of his committee away from Trump-Russia ties to the supposed surveillance of Trump's people

Now we know the identities of the "whistleblowers." We know that they are WHITE HOUSE staffers who leaked information to Devin Nunes, who then cycled the material back to the White House as if it came from third parties. And we know that the materials involved foreign officials who were TALKING ABOUT Trump people. This is a far cry from "wiretapping" or "surveilling" them
Multiple anonymous officials told the Times that Ezra Cohen-Watnick, senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer in the White House Counsel’s office who formerly worked for the House Intelligence Committee, helped provide Nunes with this information. . . .
Apparently, Nunes’s bombshell revelation may not even be that Trump officials had their communications intercepted — but merely that intelligence reports did not disguise their names, when they were invoked by foreign agents. It is difficult to understand why this is supposed to be outrageous. . . .
[March 27] In an interview Monday, Nunes told me that he ended up meeting his source on the White House grounds because it was the most convenient secure location with a computer connected to the system that included the reports . . . He added that his source was not a White House staffer and was an intelligence official.
Evidence is growing that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes engaged in an elaborate charade last week when he went to brief the president about what he spun as an alarming development: the U.S. government had spied on some of his top aides.  . . .

Nunes' sources revealed: White House lawyer and Michael Flynn flunkie who Trump kept in place . . . National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster had informed Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence programs, that he’d be moving to another position on Friday, Politico reported. McMaster reportedly made the decision after receiving complaints from several career officials about the 30-year-old intelligence operative. … After they informed Trump of the situation Sunday, he overruled McMaster and told Cohen-Watnick he could stay put.
Put more bluntly: Members of the Trump White House selectively leaked classified intelligence that doesn’t actually support their boss’s claim to a credulous congressman who uncritically parroted the information in a press conference just hours later. . . . 

[NB: What we don't know yet is who these guys talked to in the White House about these materials before contacting Nunes -- it certainly looks as if some senior people knew about them beforehand.] 

. . . . Cohen-Watnick. . . is — per a blockbuster Politico report — a rather controversial figure. He’s a 30-year-old Trump loyalist who developed a close relationship with Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner during the presidential transition. . . .

Was it Bannon?
Spicey tries, fails
"I've commented on this yesterday and today. Your obsession with who talked to whom and when, is not the answer here, it should be the substance. The same way that when you guys post a story with eighteen anonymous sources, your obsession is the substance. It seems now, you continue to look at it through a backwards prism, which is who is it, who drove through what gate, who did they meet with, what were they wearing that day, as opposed to 'what was the underlying substance of this, did something happen, in the 2016 election, did leaks occur? We are not going to engage in actively, in that kind of leaking . . ."

White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced Thursday that it would invite the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to review information discovered “in the ordinary course of business” related to a request two weeks ago. The announcement came minutes after the New York Times reported that two White House officials provided House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) with material . . .

Adam Schiff calls BS:
Schiff: WH Raises 'Profound Questions' With Revelations About Intel Materials
“This looks nothing like a whistleblower case,” Schiff said during a press conference. “And again, I think the White House needs to answer: Is this instead a case where they wished to effectively launder information through our committee to avoid the true source of the information? That question the White House really needs to answer.”

A summary: this stinks!
It makes the White House look bad . . . 
It makes Sean Spicer look bad . . .
It makes Trump look bad . . . 
It makes Nunes look really bad . . . 
It even makes Paul Ryan look bad. . . [read on]

Nunes keeps saying he cancelled the Yates hearing so he could schedule a Comey hearing. One itty bitty problem with that
There's a problem with Devin Nunes' invitation to FBI Director Comey—Nunes never sent it
More and more parts of the Steele dossier on Trump turn out to be verified

This could be huge
WSJ: Flynn Says He's Willing To Testify In Exchange For Immunity Deal

Mike Flynn tells the FBI he's willing to talk, but only for immunity. But you only get immunity if you deliver someone else higher up the ladder. And there's only one person higher up the ladder.

On the other hand:
The fact that Flynn and his lawyer have made his offer publicly suggests that he has nothing good to give the prosecutors (either because he cannot incriminate others or is unwilling to do so). If he had something good, Flynn and his lawyer would approach the prosecutors quietly, go through the proffer process in confidence, and reach a deal. Why? Because prosecutors have an interest in keeping their investigation secret, and Flynn’s lawyer knows that. The last thing Flynn’s lawyer would do if he thought he had the goods would be to go public, because that would potentially compromise the criminal inquiry and would certainly irritate the prosecutors, the very people Flynn’s lawyer would be trying to win over.  Whiting speculates that Flynn’s attorney might have been “hoping that one of the Congressional committees will take the bait and grant him immunity in exchange for his testimony.”
[Trump] Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!

Here's another aspect of the Russian hacking that hasn't been talked about much: voter rolls
The voter rolls are said to fit into this because of “microtargeting”. Using email, Facebook and Twitter, political advertising can be tailored very precisely: individual messaging for individual voters. . . . This would take co-operation with the Trump campaign, it is claimed. [read on]

Trump's Muslim ban hits another obstacle

Trump's Immigration Order Is Now Effectively Dead

Another broken Trump promise -- on trade

White House calls for changing, but not scrapping, NAFTA in draft letter 

Interior Sect'y steps back from suggestion the Wall will be built on Mexican territory

No, Trump doesn't care about science
The problem with science is (a) it's bo-o-o-o-o-ring, (b) it's depressing, and (c) it often clashes with stuff you want to do.

Trump betrays the LGBT community

Trump raises nepotism to an unprecedented level

Key Priebus ally gets the axe
Did Bannon violate his ethics pledge?

Only six?
6 reasons the Trump presidency is in shambles

To all those people who didn't think electing Clinton was worth the effort
Pence Casts Tie-breaking Vote To Defund Planned Parenthood

North Carolina tries to fix the disastrous HB 2 bill -- but doesn't go far enough

Big trouble in Fox World
Next week, according to sources, a grand jury in Manhattan will be hearing new testimony in a federal investigation of Fox News that had been led by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, until he was fired by Trump earlier this month. The case continues without Bharara, and people familiar with the investigation say the government is looking into a number of potential crimes, including Fox News’s alleged surveillance of journalists, and whether network executives misled investors by hiding Ailes’s sexual-harassment settlements. (A contender to replace Bharara is Ailes’s personal attorney Marc Mukasey — a choice that could have consequences for the investigation.) . . .[read on]

Bonus item: Trump's to-do list

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Thursday, March 30, 2017


What you do when the news is bad
Donald Trump Lashes Out At The New York Times Yet Again

[Trump] "If the people of our great country could only see how viciously and inaccurately my administration is covered by certain media!"

This is not normal
All the Terrifying Things That Donald Trump Did Lately

70 days in, Donald Trump’s presidency is flailing -- Trump’s campaign rewarded him for breaking the rules. His presidency has punished him for it.
President Donald Trump’s approval rating continued to drop Wednesday in Gallup’s daily presidential poll. According to the polling company, 35 percent of respondents approved of Trump’s performance in office . . . Fifty-nine percent of respondents disapproved of his performance, beating the previous high of 57 percent . . 

"Nunes is trying to protect Trump. It’s not working"

The evidence is now clear that the White House and Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, have worked together to halt what was previously billed as a sweeping investigation of Russian interference in last year’s election. . . . Last Monday morning, shortly before the start of the hearing, a senior White House official told me, “You’ll see the setting of the predicate. That’s the thing to watch today.” He suggested that I read a piece in The Hill about incidental collection. The article posited that if “Trump or his advisors were speaking directly to foreign individuals who were the target of U.S. spying during the election campaign, and the intelligence agencies recorded Trump by accident, it’s plausible that those communications would have been collected and shared amongst intelligence agencies.”  The White House clearly indicated to me that it knew Nunes would highlight this issue. “It’s backdoor surveillance where it’s not just incidental, it’s systematic,” the White House official said. “Watch Nunes today.”  Sure enough . . . [read on] 

Trey Gowdy is a stooge
Trey Gowdy: Schiff Should Recuse Since He Was For Hillary

Meanwhile, the chair and ranking member of the SENATE Intelligence Committee assure, we're on the case


It's about time
Paul Manafort, former Trump chairman, under investigation for money laundering

No, this won't help:
Russian Oligarch Takes Out Ads To Reach Out To Congress About Manafort

Civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria under Trump

The Trumpian approach to foreign policy -- bump into a guy, ask him to talk to a guy to see if he can change his mind. Easy!
President Trump is ready to check “peace in the Middle East” off his to-do list and believes “the time is ripe” for such a deal. Harvard Law School professor and high-priced defense attorney Alan Dershowitz says Trump told him as much after a recent run-in at Mar-a-Lago. Trump reportedly then asked Dershowitz to communicate the message to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister. . . . Dershowitz was there with Christopher Ruddy, CEO of right-wing news site Newsmax. Trump spoke to both men while they were eating and later had a tête-à-tête with Dershowitz where they discussed how easy Trump thinks it will be to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  

No, he hasn't learned a thing
Trump says health care deal will be an “easy one”

The Trumpians are saying Obamacare is in a "death spiral" and will inevitably implode. But that doesn't mean they aren't willing to give it a little nudge

In a contentious hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Democratic members of Congress tried to pin down Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on whether he will try to gut the Affordable Care Act. . . . Democratic lawmakers asked Price again and again whether he will simply "follow the policies" of Obamacare, as he promised in his confirmation hearing, or if he will use the powers of his office to take apart the law. Price, dodging many of the questions aimed his way, gave few assurances he will administer all of Obamacare's regulations and programs going forward.

People on Obamacare Are Getting Lots of Medical Care

The Cesspool
The Trump Organization Wants to Open a Second D.C. Hotel

Ivanka Trump To Become Official Govt. Employee Amid Ethics Concerns

Here's another thing that won't happen with Trump's Wall
“The border is complicated, as far as building a physical wall,” [Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke] told E&E News’ Corbin Hiar. “The Rio Grande, what side of the river are you going to put the wall? We’re not going to put it on our side and cede the river to Mexico. And we’re probably not going to put it in the middle of the river.”  According to international treaties signed between the U.S. and Mexico, the 1,200-mile long Rio Grande is the official border between the two countries.  Zinke didn’t elaborate on how the wall would get built if it wasn’t located on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande or in the middle of the river. His comments are the first from a Trump administration official to suggest that the U.S. should build the wall on Mexican territory. . . .
It sounds like Trump will need to invade Mexico to build his wall

Trump's precious border wall hits a funding snag

Trump's Energy Dept. bans the phrase "climate change" -- because if you can't say it, that means it isn't happening

Don't hold your breath on Trump working with Democrats -- or vice versa
Consider this from a Democratic perspective.  An outlandish Republican president, who lost the popular vote and won in part thanks to illegal intervention from a foreign adversary, rose to political prominence by pushing a racist conspiracy theory about his Democratic predecessor.  After the election, he mocked Democrats, chose cabinet nominees he knew Democrats would hate, made no effort to reach out to Democrats on any issue, continued a crusade against his Democratic predecessor and defeated Democratic opponent, pushed a radical policy agenda that no Democrat could support, and has offered Democrats nothing in the way of possible concessions in order to reach a consensus on key issues.  And it’s against this backdrop that Trump is reportedly hoping Democrats will help get his flailing presidency on track.  I can almost hear the laughter from Chuck Schumer’s and Nancy Pelosi’s offices. . . .

When is it okay for Democrats to work with Trump? How about never

Trump and his team stole credit from a union for creating jobs in Michigan 

By the way, if he wants credit for every time a company DOESN'T move jobs, what do we say about this?
Despite Trump rage tweets, Rexnord is still moving its Indianapolis plant to Mexico

No, you can't "run government like a business." Here's why 

A good thing -- Trump takes on the opioid epidemic

Chris Christie:

Now the bad news for Christie
Chris Christie’s Day of Failure 

I'm not going to spend time here bashing Melania. I think everyone understands that situation for what it is. But this is just sad

Progressive Dems awaken
With Trumpcare dead and Obama gone, progressives are putting Medicare for All back on the table

This disturbing poll shows how easy it is for Trump to drive public opinion simply by spewing out false assertions on Twitter 

Looks like Sean Spicer lied (again)
Fox News' Shep Smith confirmed the Washington Post story today that the WH denied, telling viewers "Fox News confirms the Justice Department sent a warning to the former acting Attorney General, Sally Yates that she could not discuss a great deal of her possible testimony without permission from the White House." . . . Earlier today during a press briefing, Sean Spicer vehemently denied the Washington Post story, that the Trump administration would use "executive privileged" to deny her from testifying, calling it "100% false." . . .

And now this:
Spicer says he is still looking into who cleared Nunes in. No answer yet. Former WH aides say it would take only a few seconds to find out. [read on]
Under the Obama administration, at least some information about Nunes’ mysterious White House visit would have eventually been made public in White House visitor logs. Those logs used to be accessible online and were usually updated every three to four months. But the website hosting the visitor logs has been down since Trump took office. . . .

Bonus item: Heh, heh -- this is a treat
The inauguration of Donald Trump was a surreal experience for pretty much everyone who witnessed it, whether or not they were at the event and regardless of who they supported in the election. . . . Following Trump’s short and dire speech, Bush departed the scene and never offered public comment on the ceremony.  But, according to three people who were present, Bush gave a brief assessment of Trump’s inaugural after leaving the dais: “That was some weird shit.” All three heard him say it.

***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!

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Why did Nunes cancel the House Intelligence session with Sally Yates? Here's an informed guess
On Monday night, former Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency chief of staff Jeremy Bash told MSNBC’s Brian Williams that there may have been something even more sinister behind Nunes decision to cancel hearings in which former acting attorney general Sally Yates would have testified. “The hearing this week was gonna hear from Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, and I’m told that she had some very interesting things to tell the committee, to tell the public, about when she told the White House counsel that Mike Flynn had in fact been lying to the vice president,” Bash said.
Trump administration prevented Sally Yates from testifying about Donald Trump’s Russia links: report
WH Denies It Tried To Block Yates' Testimony To House Intel Committee
The controversy over Sally Yates’s planned testimony before Congress, explained

Dem. Intel Committee Member: Nunes' Actions Are What A Cover-Up Looks Like
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Tuesday morning said that House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes' (R-CA) "objectivity" was in question . . . The senator said that Nunes must share the information he received from a secret source with the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. "If he’s not willing to tell the Democrats and Republicans on the committee who he met with and what he was told, then I think he’s lost his ability to lead," Graham said. "I think he has to repair the damage," the senator added later, arguing that the House committee "is off track and probably can’t get back on track."
“Inspector Clouseau investigation”: Lindsey Graham chides Devin Nunes’ “bizarre” leadership of Trump-Russia probe
John McCain Calls On Nunes To Reveal White House Sources

What the. . . . ? 
According to the WaPo, Yates informed Don McGahn that Flynn was lying about his calls, making him susceptible to blackmail, on January 26. She was fired on January 31. Flynn tried to lie about the conversation again on February 8. Then, as the WaPo was reporting this story, he altered his story. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the WaPo reported on Yates’ warning, on February 13, that Trump forced Flynn to resign. Two days after Yates’ warning, January 28, Trump spent an hour on the phone with Vladimir Putin, with Flynn (and Pence) in attendance. . . .
A guess about who Nunes' White House source is

As a result of Nunes' actions, the entire House Intelligence investigation is now stalled
Just at the level of political play, Adam Schiff has had it all over Devin Nunes Schiff: 'The American people deserve the truth, no matter what it is.'

Drip, drip, drip
President Donald Trump's companies have been connected to "at least 10 former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering," according to a report published Tuesday by USA Today. . . .

What is being hidden here that drives such erratic and inexplicable behavior from close to everyone who gets into what I earlier called the 'event horizon' of this scandal? What at the center of it has such a profound gravitational pull? . . .

Our Commander in Chief
When Donald Trump met Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany earlier this month, he put on one of his most truculent and ignorant performances. He wanted money — piles of it — for Germany’s defense, raged about the financial killing China was making from last year’s Paris climate accord and kept “frequently and brutally changing the subject when not interested, which was the case with the European Union.”....Trump’s preparedness was roughly that of a fourth grader....Trump knew nothing of the proposed European-American deal known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, little about Russian aggression in Ukraine or the Minsk agreements . . .Trump’s behavior appalled her entourage and reinforced a conclusion already reached about this presidency in several European capitals: It is possible to do business with Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, but these officials are flying blind because above them at the White House rages a whirlwind of incompetence and ignorance. 

In the wake of the health care fiasco, the GOP does major damage control -- they want you to know that they ARE unified, and they ARE moving forward, and they ARE (eventually, maybe, someday) going to do something about health care


What Trump's new climate change rules WON'T do
Trump's executive order is a gift to coal executives. It won’t do anything for coal miners.
Coal CEO gets real on Trump’s coal jobs promise: “He can’t bring them back”


More broken Trump promises

Trump wants to spend a billion dollars (NOT Mexico's money) to build the first 50 miles of The Wall. Let's do the math: the uncompleted sections on the border span 1200 miles. . . .

The federal government is trying to seize private land from Americans for Trump's wall

The Cesspool
Trump Appoints One of His Lawyers to Review Mergers

Where is the magical brilliance of Jared Kushner? How can he be an all-purpose presidential advisor, the Middle East peace envoy, and now the redesigner of the entire federal bureaucracy? And what evidence is there that he is up to any of these jobs, let alone all of them?

Questions for Kushner on his Russia ties
Did Jared Kushner’s recently disclosed meeting during the Trump transition with the head of a Russian state-owned bank concern business or politics? Depends who you ask.  . . . While the bank and the Kremlin said Kushner held the talks in his capacity as the head of his family’s real estate empire, Kushner Companies, the Trump administration struck a different note, saying Kushner was acting as a campaign surrogate at the time. . . .


Could be interesting . . .
The Government Accountability Office will reportedly review the expenses and security protocols associated with President Donald Trump’s frequent trips to his private club Mar-a-Lago, a.k.a. the “Winter White House.” . . .

Trump claims more jobs created . . . you can fill in the rest

Trump's climate change travesty
Trump’s Environmental Executive Order Is As Stupid As It Is Damaging

Trump lawyers: he can't be sued while in office

What could go wrong?
House Republicans are about to let ISPs sell your browsing history to advertisers

The rise of scientific racism

The coming AI revolution -- like it or not

Poor Spicey has been having some hard days lately
Sean Spicer Tries to Shut Down April Ryan: ‘Stop Shaking Your Head’


Oooooh, what a comeback. Practice that one, did you?
Spicer: Media Would See Conspiracy If Trump Ate 'Russian Salad Dressing'

The day in tweets:
This is an outrage
CNN analyst Kayleigh McEnany . . . claimed that a heartless Obama went golfing after Daniel Pearl was beheaded. The problem is that Daniel Pearl was murdered in 2002 and Obama was a State Senator. . . .

Bonus item: Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers: two late-night approaches to satirical Trump comedy
***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.***