The Wires

Hollywood Reporter: "Michael Wolff's controversial Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is coming to television. Endeavor Content — the financing and sales arm formed in October between sister companies William Morris Endeavor and IMG — has purchased film and television rights to the No. 1 best-selling book. The massive deal is said to be in the seven-figure range. Endeavor Content plans to adapt the book as a TV series. A network is not yet attached, as Endeavor will now begin shopping the project."

New York Times: "CBS said on Tuesday that it had chosen [John] Dickerson, 49, to replace Charlie Rose as the third co-host of “CBS This Morning,” a spot left empty since Mr. Rose was fired in November after allegations of sexual harassment. Mr. Dickerson is to join the lineup of Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, who have carved a niche as a relatively serious, news-driven morning team. Mr. Dickerson — whose mother, Nancy Dickerson, became in 1960 the first female correspondent at CBS News — plans to move to New York and leave 'Face the Nation,' which he joined in 2015. CBS has not yet chosen his successor, effectively setting off a horse race at the network for one of television’s most influential political roles."

Oprah Gives Moving Speech, Celebrities Nominate Her for President. For full coverage of the Golden Globe awards, the Los Angeles Times has a pageful of blurbs & links.

Medlar's Amazing Sports Report (Is about Sports!):

New York Times: "Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota [executed] ... what would prove to be the critical play of the Titans’ shocking 22-21 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in an N.F.L. wild-card playoff game on Saturday.... [The Titans were] trailing by 18 points in the third quarter..., i and as Mariota scrambled toward the line of scrimmage, he appeared to throw the ball away.... But when Darrelle Revis of the Chiefs batted the pass back toward Mariota, the quarterback snagged it out of the air. And ... Mariota sprinted forward for a touchdown that went into the books as a 6-yard pass from Mariota to Mariota."

New York Times: "Hoda Kotb, a longtime NBC News correspondent, will permanently replace Matt Lauer as co-anchor of NBC’s flagship morning program, 'Today,' the network said on Tuesday. Ms. Kotb (pronounced COT-bee) had replaced Mr. Lauer on an interim basis since he was fired in November over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior with a subordinate. The appointment is the first time that two women will be the program’s official main hosts; 'Today' has an overwhelmingly female audience and is the network’s most profitable franchise. The decision signals a turning point of sorts for NBC: In addition to the Lauer scandal, the network also reviewed 2005 footage from an NBC-owned show in which President Trump bragged about grabbing women’s genitalia but was beaten to publication by The Washington Post, and passed on an exposé of [Harvey] Weinstein by an MSNBC contributor." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: I forgot this part of the tape saga: that NBC suits sat on it until someone at the "Today" show leaked it to David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post.

 

Here's one of the film's trailers:

So finally they called me up because it got so late, and the argument got so tense, and said you're going to have to decide this. And I said, well, why do we have to do it right away? The Times took three months. And they - the editors all got on the phone. And the businesspeople were on the other phone saying wait a day. The editors were saying we mustn't wait a day. Everybody knows we have these papers. And we have to maintain the momentum that was stopped when the Times was enjoined. And it's very important. People have their eyes on us. And we have to publish.... And finally after talking to both sides, I asked my colleague Fritz Beebe what he would do. And he was a lawyer. And he said, I guess I would not. And that made it hard but not impossible. He said it in such a way that I thought he's leaving it up to me. And I can do this. And so I said let's go. Let's publish. And I hung up because I was so freaked out by having had to make that decision so fast. -- Katherine Graham, on her decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, in an interview, 1997 ...

... Terry Gross of NPR interviewed Katherine Graham in 1997 about her 1971 decision to publish the Pentagon papers -- and other things. Graham died in 2001. Audio & transcript. Via David Von Drehle of the Washington Post.

Guardian: Britain's "Prince Harry is to marry his American actor girlfriend Meghan Markle in spring next year, Clarence House has announced. 'His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle,' it said in a statement on Monday."

 

The full Neiman's Christmas book is here, with some items costing less than $35K.

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. Des MacHale (often misattributed to H. L. Mencken)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling

Wednesday
Jan172018

The Commentariat -- January 18, 2018

The Comments function appears to be working!! Those who signed up may continue to use their fabulous special status, or not, as they prefer. I don't intend to sign up anyone else, unless s/he claims s/he was unable to do so because s/he was staying in an Internetless TrumpHut in the Trump Nation of Nambia. ...

"The video [is] by the Gondwana Collection Namibia - which runs several game reserves in the southern African nation...."

Mike DeBonis, et al., of the Washington Post: "Bitter divisions in both parties threatened Wednesday to derail Congress’s effort to keep the federal government fully operating past the end of the week. The shutdown threat emerged on two fronts: Republican defense hawks in the House said a short-term spending plan the party introduced late Tuesday did not devote enough money to the military. Meanwhile, Democrats, whose support would be critical for passage in the Senate, began lining up in opposition amid pressure from immigration activists to use the budget talks as leverage to legalize many young immigrants known as 'dreamers.' By Wednesday evening, the short-term bill was on the cusp of failure.” ...

... Elise Viebeck of the Washington Post: "Republicans on Wednesday expressed cautious optimism about averting a government shutdown at midnight Friday, with rank-and-file members grudgingly accepting a short-term spending bill.... If Republican leaders can quell dissent among deficit and defense hawks and pass the measure with only GOP votes, House Democrats will lose the leverage they planned to exercise on behalf of dreamers during the current round of negotiations." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Ryan Grim of The Intercept: "The House spending bill released Wednesday would allow President Trump, or people under him, to secretly shift money to fund intelligence programs, a break with 70 years of governing tradition.... Since 1947, section 504 of the National Security Act has mandated that the administration inform Congress if it intends to shift money from one intelligence project to another, if the new project has not been authorized by Congress. That notification can be — and almost always is — done in secret, but it is at least a minimal check on executive power. The spending bill currently under consideration, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, breaks with that tradition." --safari...

... Heather Caygle & Seung Min Kim of Politico: "House Democrats left a meeting with top White House officials Wednesday seemingly no closer to reaching a deal on immigration or government funding before a critical Friday deadline. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said their hour-long meeting with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was 'positive' — a dramatic change in tone from their contentious encounters with him in the past — but mostly a rehashing of talking points that doesn’t bring the two sides closer to an agreement." Mrs. McC: Maybe that's because Kelly is even more a racist than Trump. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly told Democratic lawmakers Wednesday that some of the hard-line immigration policies President Trump advocated during the campaign were 'uninformed,' that the United States will never construct a wall along its entire southern border and that Mexico will never pay for it, according to people familiar with the meeting. The comments were out of sync with remarks by Trump, who in recent days has reiterated his desire to build a border wall that would be funded by Mexico 'indirectly through NAFTA.'”...

... David Ferguson of RawStory: "[In the meeting, John Kelly] ... praise[d] the business acumen of Mexica’s drug cartels, saying that a physical border wall as Trump promised during his 2016 campaign is impractical because drug lords will get their wares into the country regardless. 'Drug cartels will always find a way to get their drugs in so long as there’s demand in the U.S.,' Kelly said. He added that this is to be expected from people who 'are very smart and good businessmen.' The comment reportedly set of a murmur of disquiet in the room. Lawmakers later told the Post they 'found it odd that Kelly would credit cartel leaders who often authorize murders as smart or good businessmen.'" --safari ...

... SO THEN. Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times: "President Trump directly contradicted his own chief of staff on Thursday and said his position on building a wall between the United States and Mexico had not 'evolved. Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, John F. Kelly, told some Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday that Mr. Trump had 'evolved' on the issue of the wall, and that the president was not 'fully informed' when he promised to build such a barrier last year. In an early-morning Twitter post, Mr. Trump took the unusual step of publicly pushing back against his own White House, signaling a disconnect between the president and his staff at a critical time of negotiations with Congress to avoid a government shutdown. 'The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it. Parts will be, of necessity, see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water..... ....The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is “peanuts” compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!]” ...

... Jonathan Blitzer of the New Yorker has a pretty good rundown of the "evolution" of DACA legislation -- up to Trump's latest pronouncement. Blitzer includes some insider wrangling & concentrates also on Sen. Lindsey Graham's up-and-down relationship with the Nutty President*.


Michael Shear & Gina Kolata
of the New York Times: "Cardiologists not associated with the White House said Wednesday that President Trump’s physical exam revealed serious heart concerns, including very high levels of so-called bad cholesterol, which raises the risk that Mr. Trump could have a heart attack while in office.... Dr. David Maron, the director of preventive cardiology at Stanford University’s medical school, said Wednesday that it was alarming that the president’s LDL levels remain above 140 even though he is taking 10 milligrams of Crestor, a powerful drug that is used to lower cholesterol levels to well below 100. Dr. Maron said he would 'definitely' be worried about Mr. Trump’s risk for having a heart attack if the president were one of his patients. Asked if Mr. Trump is in perfect health, Dr. Maron offered a blunt reply: 'God, no.'” ...

... Gail Collins: "Donald Trump has passed his mental test. This may come as either a relief or a shock.... Skeptics pointed out that the report’s enthusiastic descriptions of the president’s tiptop condition seemed inconsistent with some of the statistics on his weight, cholesterol and plaque buildup in the arteries. If the doctor had simply said 'good for an overweight 71-year-old guy,' everybody probably could have nodded and moved forward. But the big news was the mental test.... [the test] didn’t measure judgment, and there was no score to indicate whether the test-taker would, if faced with a question of what to do about immigration policy, change his position 12 times in 24 hours. Whether he would confide to several million Twitter followers that the country 'needs a good shutdown'? Whether he thinks of himself as a 'very stable genius.'” ...

... "Fine, Trump Doesn’t Have Dementia. He’s Just a Moron." Jonathan Chait: "Trump’s supporters have taken the news of his successful physical examination with a reputable doctor as vindication. Never has a president won such frenzied praise for being declared dementia-free.... But while Trump’s behavior may not be medical symptoms of a debilitating mental disease, it is clear evidence of a mind that’s totally unfit for the presidency. What excuse does he have for his behavior?"

"America Third" Has a Nice Ring to It. Julian Borger of the Guardian: "Global confidence in US leadership has fallen to a new low, and the country now ranks below China in worldwide approval ratings, according to a new Gallup poll. The survey of opinion in 134 countries showed a record collapse in approval for the US role in the world, from 48% under Obama to 30% after one year of Donald Trump – the lowest level Gallup has recorded since beginning its global leadership poll over a decade ago.... Germany is now seen as a global leader by many more people (41% of the sample), with China in second place on 31%. Russia has 27% approval for its global role according to the poll. In just under half of the world’s countries – 65 out of 134 – US standing collapsed, by 10 percentage points or more. Some of the biggest losses were among Washington’s closest allies in western Europe, Australia, and Latin America." --safari

Jen Kirby & Libby Nelson of Vox: "There was no red carpet, but ... Donald Trump tweeted a link to his 'highly anticipated' fake news award winners Wednesday night, as promised. The link itself — to the official Republican National Committee website — turned out to be a bit of a fake out. 'The site is temporarily offline, we are working to bring it back up. Please try back later,' the link read for many for at least an hour after the announcement.... But eventually, the website rebounded, revealing the 'winners' (or 'losers').... Trump’s list is a collection of some of the biggest journalistic errors of the past year (and a lesson in the perils of aggregating viral videos or sending hasty tweets). The aftermath of the stories listed also shows news organizations’ commitment to setting the record straight. In almost every case, media outlets issued corrections. When reporters made mistakes, they acknowledged them repeatedly. In one instance, the reporters and editors involved resigned. Below is an annotated list, to give some context to these 'awards.' The full list is (probably) available here.” Mrs. McC: BTW, Krugman -- who took top honors -- has several times admitted his prediction (not report) was a mistake. ...

... Jordain Carney of the Hill: "GOP Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) rebuked President Trump's attacks on the press from the Senate floor on Wednesday, urging his colleagues to publicly push back against the rhetoric. 'The enemy of the people was how the president of the United States called the free press in 2017. ... It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president used words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies," Flake said.... Flake's speech marks one of the strongest Republican rebukes of Trump from the Senate floor." Mrs. McC: See also Flake's Arizona colleague John McCain's essay, linked yesterday. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Brian Stelter of CNN: "More than once a day, on average, [Trump] has publicly assailed 'fake news,' 'fake polls,' 'fake media,' and 'fake stories.' Over and over again, he has told the United States not to trust what reporters say. His allies have done the same thing. This repetition -- constantly labeling real news as 'fake' -- is what has made the slur so powerful. In the run-up to the 2016 election, 'fake news' was a term used by researchers and journalists to describe hoaxes that were designed to deceive people. These made-up stories are typically promoted via social media, either to make money or spread propaganda. But after Trump won the election, he almost single-handedly turned the definition on its head. Among his supporters, 'fake news' is now a catch-all criticism for any news that Trump doesn't like." ...

... Biggest Irony in Today's News ...

... Journalistic Standards & Hush Money Saved Trump. Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: Porn star " Stormy Daniels ... was on the radar of a number of mainstream news outlets in the waning days of the presidential campaign. Reporters from ABC, Fox News, the Daily Beast and Slate.com were pursuing a potentially explosive story: that Daniels had allegedly had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006, only months after Trump’s wife, Melania, had given birth to their son, Barron. Yet no one went with the story.... (The Smoking Gun website had already published details of the alleged affair in mid-October, to little public notice or reaction.)... Journalists say they held back because they couldn’t independently corroborate key elements of Daniels’s account, including in one instance from Daniels herself. The story, in other words, failed to rise to journalistic standards, never mind that it involved a man who regularly attacks the news media for lacking standards.... The Daily Beast's executive editor, Noah Shachtman, said his publication decided not to go with a story despite having three sources confirming the affair, including one on the record, Daniels’s friend Alana Evans.... Daniels herself was ready to confirm it as well, he said, but she backed out of an interview on Nov. 3, apparently after signing [a] nondisclosure agreement [in exchange for a payoff]. That defection was critical; Shachtman said the Daily Beast would have published if Daniels had confirmed what other sources were already claiming." ...

... Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "In a newly published interview with Stephanie Clifford from 2011, the pornographic actor acknowledges an affair with Donald Trumpcontradicting a denial produced by the president’s legal team last week. Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels, described her 2006 rendezvous with Trump in a Lake Tahoe hotel suite in detail to InTouch magazine. Her account was reportedly corroborated by her friend and supported by a polygraph test and her ex-husband." The interview is here. ...

     ... AND In Touch plans to release the whole 5,500-word interview.

... Judd Legum of ThinkProgress: "... the Stormy Daniels–Trump story matters — beyond allegations of an affair. Here’s why.... Trump’s lawyer is distributing a statement denying any sexual relationship between Daniels and Trump. But there is a mountain of evidence that suggests this statement is a lie.... The story has parallels to other women’s claims of sexual assault by Trump.... The story suggests Trump is vulnerable to blackmail and extortion.... In the unverified Steele dossier, there is an allegation that Russian officials have information about Trump’s interactions with sex workers in Moscow that Russian agents are using as leverage.... [The Daniels hush-money story indicates] Trump ... has things to hide and is willing to go to substantial lengths to hide them." ...

     ... digby: "Daniels says [Trump] didn't use protection.... I don't care what Trump does with porn stars and I really don't want to know the details. But it is important that he was worried enough about it that he paid them off. And it is important that his excuse that he couldn't have done anything untoward in Russia because he's a germophobe." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: There may be some poetic justice (not to mention more irony) here. Just as the Whitewatergate investigation (of trump rival Hillary Clinton et vir) eventually morphed from a real estate probe into a sex scandal, so may the Trump-Russia scandal prove out the famously "unverified" "golden rain" incident. That is, Mueller's team may be compelled, partly because of the Daniels payoff, to seek verification of Trump's romps with Russian sex workers. The team may never be able to verify whether or not Russian spies threatened Trump or made a pact with Trump, but it is fair to assume that the Russians retained evidence to embarrass -- and perhaps blackmail -- a high-profile American having sex in a hotel located in Moscow. We may yet be in for an updated version of breathless reporters cold-reading live on-air excerpts of the Starr report as it was still being to news organizations. One of the LOL moments of the whole debacle was the fastidious Bob Schieffer of CBS News reporting on "semen stains." ...


... Jonathan Swan
of Axios: "Steve Bannon made one conspicuous slip up in his closed-door hearing on Tuesday with the House Intelligence Committee, according to four sources with direct knowledge of the confidential proceedings. Bannon admitted that he'd had conversations with Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and legal spokesman Mark Corallo about Don Junior's infamous meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower in June 2016." ...

... Eamon Javers of CNBC: "The White House believed it had an agreement with the House Intelligence Committee to limit questions for Steve Bannon only to events on the presidential campaign, and not during the ousted former chief strategist's time in the Trump administration, an official told CNBC. According to the White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, staffers for the committee and the White House on Friday discussed the parameters of Bannon's testimony.... Then, hours into Bannon's closed-door testimony on Tuesday, Bannon's lawyers informed the White House from Capitol Hill that the questions would extend beyond the scope of what the White House understood the agreement to be. At that point, the White House told Bannon not to answer any further." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Sonan Sheth of Business Insider: "Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, but refused to answer questions about events that took place during the campaign and his conversations with ... Donald Trump since then. Lewandowski is the latest official to stonewall the committee as it probes Russia's election interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow. Lewandowski was present during a number of critical events that investigators are keenly focused on.... Ranking member Adam Schiff said Lewandowski's apparent refusal to answer questions about events that took place during the Trump campaign, as well as his conversations with Trump since then, was 'completely unacceptable.' He added, 'Yesterday, [Lewandowski] said on Fox that he would answer every question that we had. Today, however, he refused.'... Lewandowski's reluctance, NBC News reported, was not based on the possibility that Trump may claim executive privilege to prevent him from disclosing details about key events. Rather, Lewandowski said he was not prepared to answer certain questions and suggested returning at a later date." The cited NBC News report follows. ...

... Mike Memoli of NBC News: "A top Trump administration official answered a full range of questions from House investigators Wednesday, just one day after former White House strategist Steve Bannon told them he was under instructions from the West Wing to remain silent, sparking new negotiations between Congress and the White House that could lead President Trump to formally invoke executive privilege for the first time in the Russia probe. Though lawmakers described White House deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn as fully cooperative with the House Intelligence Committee during more than four hours of questioning, the same could not be said of the day’s second witness, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.... Lewandowski said he was simply not prepared to provide those answers Wednesday, offering to return at a later date." ...

...** Rachel Maddow posits some credible theories as to why Bannon clammed up during Congressional testimony. She links it to Mueller's investigation trying to preserve any evidence from falling into the hands of Trump Confederates like David Nunes & Trey Gowdy. You can speed the video up to around 16:30 to catch the gist of her argument. --safari


** Summer Meza
 of Newsweek: "It’s been one year since Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to the president, assumed office, but he’s yet to receive full security clearance for his role in the White House. The unprecedented delay in clearance represents a violation of security norms and suggests that Kushner continues to receive special treatment due to his relationship to President Donald Trump, according to legal experts familiar with the process." --safari

Julian Borgeret al. of the Guardian: "The US intends to maintain an open-ended military presence in Syria, not only to fight Isis and al-Qaida but also to provide a bulwark against Iranian influence, ensure the departure of the Assad regime and create conditions for the return of refugees, the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said on Wednesday." --safari ...

...Pentagon Puzzle Time. Elizabeth Preza of RawStory: "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday provided stunning insight into how Donald Trump’s executive branch functions, telling an audience at Stanford University he receives print-outs of the president’s tweets and has to figure out how to 'use' them to craft the administration’s foreign policy. Describing it as 'actually … not a bad system,' Tillerson said he never gets a heads up about the latest topic on Trump’s Twitter feed. 'There’s not a whole lot I’m gonna do until it’s out there,' the Secretary of State said." --safari: This is so embarrassing for everyone involved. 

Propaganda Wars. Noor Al-Sibai of RawStory: "On Tuesday evening, reporter Yashar Ali pointed out that the Twitter accounts of former Fox News hosts Greta Van Susteren and Eric Bolling appear to have been hacked by pro-Turkish trolls. The connection, both Ali and The Hill pointed out, appears to be that both Van Susteren and Bolling are on the 45-person list of people President Donald Trump follows on Twitter. The hackers also released direct messages sent to Trump from Bolling’s compromised account." --safari...

... Propaganda Wars. Sean Illing of Vox: "Last month, AP reported that Russian intelligence agencies were pursuing journalists around the world in the same way they typically target politicians and government employees from hostile states. Much of this activity, according to the report, was aimed at dissident journalists and bloggers who are perceived as threats to the Russian regime. But Aki Peritz, a former CIA analyst and current adjunct professor at American University, believes that certain foreign spy agencies are very likely targeting one specific private institution: Fox News.... I reached out to Peritz and asked him to lay out his case. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows." --safari

Choe Sang-Hun & Mark Landler of the New York Times: "North and South Korea reached an agreement Wednesday for their athletes to march together under one flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics next month, a powerful gesture of reconciliation that further complicates President Trump’s strategy for dealing with the nuclear-armed regime of Kim Jong-un. The budding détente scrambles its strategy of pressuring the North, with sanctions and threats of military action, to give up its nuclear arsenal. This latest gesture of unity, the most dramatic in a decade, could add to fears in Washington that Pyongyang is making progress on a more far-reaching agenda.... The prospect of crowds from North and South Korea cheering together would be a striking contrast to the threats of war from Mr. Trump.... The Olympic agreement could bolster President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, who has been pushing for dialogue with the North.... 'I’d sit down, but I‘m not sure that sitting down will solve the problem,' Mr. Trump said in an interview with Reuters.... In the interview, Mr. Trump was uncharacteristically critical of Russia, saying it had weakened the global sanctions against North Korea, even as China was doing more."

Purifying the Race. Yeganeh Torbati of Reuters, via RawStory: "Haitians will no longer be eligible for U.S. visas given to low-skilled workers, the Trump administration said on Wednesday, bringing an end to a small-scale effort to employ Haitians in the United States after a catastrophic 2010 earthquake. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the change less than a week after President Donald Trump reportedly ... referring to [Haiti] as [a] 'shithole' countr[y]. Trump has denied using that word.... Belize and Samoa were also removed from the lists, for risks stemming from human trafficking and not taking back nationals ordered removed from the United States, respectively. Just a few dozen Haitians entered the United States on the visas each year since they were given permission to do so in 2012 by the Obama administration, according to DHS data." --safari ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: One reason this is a little odd: "Mar-a-Lago... reportedly hires more of its seasonal foreign workers from Haiti than it does from nearly any other country."

Ben Protess of the New York Times: "As a photographer for the Department of Energy, Simon Edelman regularly attended meetings with Secretary Rick Perry and snapped pictures for official purposes. Now he is out of a job and seeking whistle-blower protections after leaking photographs of Mr. Perry meeting with a major energy industry donor to President Trump. Late last year, Mr. Edelman said, he shared with journalists photos he shot at the private meeting between Mr. Perry and the campaign contributor, Robert E. Murray, the head of one of the country’s largest coal mining companies, Murray Energy. One photo showed the two men embracing; another captured the cover sheet of a confidential 'action plan' that Mr. Murray brought to the meeting last March calling for policy and regulatory changes friendly to the coal industry.... Based on the “action plan” and conversations he overheard, Mr. Edelman said, Mr. Perry had tilted the administration’s energy policy to favor Murray Energy and other coal companies.... Mr. Murray [also] has been a financial backer of Mr. Perry...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... For more on that nice Bob Murray, let's ask John Oliver (at about 4:40 mins. in & at about 12:30 in):

... AND, yeah, Murray did sue Oliver for libel.

"Alternative Facts". Aaron Rupar of ThinkProgress: "During a White House news briefing on Wednesday, Ed O’Callaghan, principal deputy assistant attorney general, struggled to defend a misleading Department of Justice report that claims three out of four individuals convicted in recent years of international terrorism or terrorism-related offenses were 'immigrants.'... On Wednesday, O’Callaghan was pressed about that issue — and had no good answers." --safari ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: O'Callaghan needs to take lying lessons from Trump & Mrs. Huckleberry.

... Amanda Gomez of ThinkProgress: "Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) omitted key facts at a hearing Wednesday in his attempt to highlight Medicaid’s role in fueling the opioid crisis. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which he chairs, released a report the same day, drawing connections between the public insurance program and opioid epidemic." --safari

Congressional Race

Jonathan Martin & Julie Bosman of the New York Times: "Republicans are scrambling to save a heavily conservative House seat in western Pennsylvania, dispatching President Trump to the district on Thursday while preparing a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to stave off another embarrassing special election defeat in a district that was gerrymandered to stay Republican. When Representative Tim Murphy was pushed out of the House last year after the revelation that he encouraged a mistress to have an abortion, Republican leaders gave scant thought to his successor. The odd-shaped district in the southwestern corner of the state was drawn to skirt Democratic Pittsburgh and concentrate conservative-leaning, steel and coal country voters. Mr. Trump will appear at an industrial equipment sales and repair company to trumpet both Mr. Saccone and the recently passed tax overhaul. Vice President Mike Pence will follow on Feb. 2, according to Republican officials...."

Wednesday
Jan172018

My Stupidest Post Ever

IT'S FIXED!!!! I think. At least I tried writing a comment when I was logged out & it worked.

 

We're now into our sixth seventh day with a non-functioning Comments section. Squarespace has quit corresponding with me said sorry, we're working on it, & it's really hard. I don't have time to look for another host & figure out how to set up a new site, something that probably would take a couple of weeks.

As much as I hate to do it, & as much as I'm philosophically opposed to forming an "exclusive" club of commenters, I don't see how to get around it but to ask those who would like to comment to sign up. I'm as pissed off as only Mrs. Bea McCrabbie can be, & I'm embarrassed to impose this anti-democratic, annoying requirement.

Nonetheless, at least for the foreseeable future, the only way to comment is to e-mail me at constantweader@gmail.com. Send me a login ID & password (I think they have to be at least 6 characters long. I don't think they're case-sensitive; that is, if you make your log-in MarieBurns, it won't matter whether or not you capitalize the "M" & the "B" as you type.) PLEASE don't give me a log-in or password you currently use anywhere else. With any luck, you won't have to use these long.

Also send a screen name -- that is, the name you want displayed on your comment. I'll send you instructions for how to log in. It is not at all difficult.

Tuesday
Jan162018

The Commentariat -- January 17, 2018

Afternoon Update:

The Comments function appears to be fixed!!

Elise Viebeck of the Washington Post: "Republicans on Wednesday expressed cautious optimism about averting a government shutdown at midnight Friday, with rank-and-file members grudgingly accepting a short-term spending bill.... If Republican leaders can quell dissent among deficit and defense hawks and pass the measure with only GOP votes, House Democrats will lose the leverage they planned to exercise on behalf of dreamers during the current round of negotiations."

Heather Caygle & Seung Min Kim of Politico: "House Democrats left a meeting with top White House officials Wednesday seemingly no closer to reaching a deal on immigration or government funding before a critical Friday deadline. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said their hour-long meeting with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was 'positive' — a dramatic change in tone from their contentious encounters with him in the past — but mostly a rehashing of talking points that doesn’t bring the two sides closer to an agreement." Mrs. McC: Maybe that's because Kelly is even more a racist than Trump.

Jordain Carney of the Hill: "GOP Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) rebuked President Trump's attacks on the press from the Senate floor on Wednesday, urging his colleagues to publicly push back against the rhetoric. 'The enemy of the people was how the president of the United States called the free press in 2017. ... It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president used words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies," Flake said.... Flake's speech marks one of the strongest Republican rebukes of Trump from the Senate floor." Mrs. McC: See also Flake's Arizona colleague John McCain's essay, linked below.

Eamon Javers of CNBC: "The White House believed it had an agreement with the House Intelligence Committee to limit questions for Steve Bannon only to events on the presidential campaign, and not during the ousted former chief strategist's time in the Trump administration, an official told CNBC. According to the White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, staffers for the committee and the White House on Friday discussed the parameters of Bannon's testimony.... Then, hours into Bannon's closed-door testimony on Tuesday, Bannon's lawyers informed the White House from Capitol Hill that the questions would extend beyond the scope of what the White House understood the agreement to be. At that point, the White House told Bannon not to answer any further."

Ben Protess of the New York Times: "As a photographer for the Department of Energy, Simon Edelman regularly attended meetings with Secretary Rick Perry and snapped pictures for official purposes. Now he is out of a job and seeking whistle-blower protections after leaking photographs of Mr. Perry meeting with a major energy industry donor to President Trump. Late last year, Mr. Edelman said, he shared with journalists photos he shot at the private meeting between Mr. Perry and the campaign contributor, Robert E. Murray, the head of one of the country’s largest coal mining companies, Murray Energy. One photo showed the two men embracing; another captured the cover sheet of a confidential 'action plan' that Mr. Murray brought to the meeting last March calling for policy and regulatory changes friendly to the coal industry.... Based on the “action plan” and conversations he overheard, Mr. Edelman said, Mr. Perry had tilted the administration’s energy policy to favor Murray Energy and other coal companies.... Mr. Murray [also] has been a financial backer of Mr. Perry...." ...

... For more on that nice Bob Murray, let's ask John Oliver (at about 4:40 mins. in & at about 12:30 in):

... And, yeah, Murray did sue Oliver for libel.

Choe Sang-Hun of the New York Times: "North and South Korea agreed on Wednesday to have their athletes march together under one flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics next month and to field a joint women’s ice hockey team, the most dramatic gesture of reconciliation between the two nations in a decade.... The two countries’ delegations will march at the opening ceremony behind a “unified Korea” flag that shows an undivided Korean Peninsula, negotiators from both sides said in a joint news release after talks at the border village of Panmunjom."

Several commenters mentioned Corey Booker's (D-N.J.) contribution to yesterday's Senate DACA hearing, so here it is:

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I got him mixed up with President Obama's Anger Translator, Keegan Michael-Key:

*****

Michael Shear & Lawrence Altman of the New York Times: "President Trump’s physician said Tuesday that the president received a perfect score on a cognitive test designed to screen for neurological impairment, which the military doctor said was evidence that Mr. Trump does not suffer from mental issues that prevent him from functioning in office. 'There’s no indication whatsoever that he has any cognitive issues,' Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy and the White House physician, told reporters on Tuesday. 'I’ve found no reason whatsoever to think the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought processes.' Dr. Jackson said that a cognitive test was not indicated for Mr. Trump when the president went underwent his annual physical on Friday, but that he conducted one anyway because the president requested it after questions from critics about his mental abilities. He said Mr. Trump received a score of 30 out of 30 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, a well-known test used by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and other hospitals.” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So Trump is just a lazy, ignorant narcissist? Well, good, now I don't have to feel sorry for him any more. I couldn't find a place to take the test but I found a copy on the test online & tried it. The only one I had trouble with was an easy substraction question. It's the same trouble I would have had with the question when I was 10 years old, so probably not newly-diminished capacity. ...

... Yeah, "Excellent" Health. But ...

Sleaziest President Ever, Ctd. Jacob Weisberg of Slate: Stephanie Clifford, a/k/a porn star Stormy Daniels, told me "in a series of phone conversations and text exchanges that took place between August and October of 2016... [that] she’d gone to Trump’s hotel room after meeting him at a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada in 2006. There they’d begun a sexual relationship, which continued for nearly a year. They’d met in New York and more than once in Los Angeles. In early 2007, Trump had invited her to a party to promote Trump Vodka.... Daniels said she was holding back on the juiciest details, such as her ability to describe things about Trump that only someone who had seen him naked would know. She intimated that her view of his sexual skill was at odds with the remark attributed to Marla Maples.... Daniels said she was talking to me and sharing these details because Trump was stalling on finalizing the confidentiality agreement and paying her. Given her experience with Trump, she suspected he would stall her until after the election, and then refuse to sign or pay up.... About a week before the election, Daniels stopped responding to calls and text messages. A friend of hers told me Daniels had said she’d taken the money from Trump after all." ...

... Oliver Darcy of CNN: "Fox News had a story at the height of the presidential election that detailed an alleged sexual relationship between porn actress Stephanie Clifford -- whose stage name is 'Stormy Daniels' -- and Donald Trump, but opted not to publish it, four people familiar with the matter told CNN.... One of the network's reporters, Diana Falzone, had filed a story in October 2016 about an alleged sexual relationship between Clifford and Trump, people familiar with the matter said. Falzone had an on-the-record statement from Clifford's manager at the time, Gina Rodriguez, confirming that her client had engaged in a sexual relationship with Trump, three of these people said, and Falzone had even seen emails about a settlement.... Falzone is a reporter for Fox News.... She filed a lawsuit against the network in May 2017 alleging gender discrimination. Fox News has denied her allegations and the case is ongoing. In a statement, Noah Kotch, who became editor-in-chief and vice president of Fox News digital in 2017, said, 'Like many other outlets, we were working to report the story.... In doing our due diligence, we were unable to verify all of the facts and publish a story.'" ...

... Kevin Drum: "The affair itself is not that big a deal. However, the agreement to pay Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet is a very big deal. Trump’s lawyer has admitted the payment was made, but refuses to say anything more about it. How is this happening? How can the president of the United States get away with what looks like hush money paid to a mistress in the middle of an election? How is it that this isn’t front-page news....? ...

**Rent-a-Puppet. Matthew Yglesias of Vox: "Conservatives embrace Trump not despite his inability to conduct the functions of his office in a satisfactory manner, but because of it.... Indeed, because he is so exceptionally unwilling to put in the time to do the job properly, he ends up hewing more rigidly to conservative dogma than even the most establishment-oriented alternative you can imagine...Donald Trump is not really running the Trump administration.... Trump spending hours a day on 'executive time' and not understanding the issues at hand is actually preferable to them than if he did the work.... The result is an administration that’s been much more conventionally conservative in its policymaking than one might have expected — and much less popular as a result. It’s Trump’s sloth and ignorance that makes this possible." --safari

Sen. John McCain writes a powerful condemnation of Trump's attacks on the press in today's Washington Post: "While administration officials often condemn violence against reporters abroad, Trump continues his unrelenting attacks on the integrity of American journalists and news outlets. This has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit. The phrase 'fake news' — granted legitimacy by an American president — is being used by autocrats to silence reporters, undermine political opponents, stave off media scrutiny and mislead citizens. [The Committee to Protect Journalists] documented 21 cases in 2017 in which journalists were jailed on fake news' charges. Trump’s attempts to undermine the free press also make it more difficult to hold repressive governments accountable."


In case you harbored hope anybody in the Trump administration planned to allow some form of DACA to be reinstated:

... ** Maria Sacchetti of the Washington Post: "The Trump administration on Tuesday said it would appeal a federal judge’s ruling that temporarily derailed plans to phase out DACA, the Obama-era deportation protections for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since they were children. The Department of Justice said it filed a notice of appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit seeking to overturn the judge’s order in California, and said it will also 'take the rare step' later this week of asking the Supreme Court to directly intervene. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said 'it defies both law and common sense' that a 'single district court in San Francisco' had halted the administration’s plans to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program starting in March." Mrs. McC: At least Trump will have a friend in the Inferno. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The Democrats now must shut down the government. It is beyond clear that Trump has no intention of signing a bill to grant even permanent residency status to Dreamers, much less a path to citizenship. Every suggestion that he might cave was merely a tease. Trump has the backing of hardassed bastards like Kelly, Sessions & Miller, who would knock the pen out of his hand if he tried to sign the bill. ...

... Greg Sargent: A "Post report [also linked here yesterday] confirms that despite Trump’s denial of the 'shithole countries' comment, Trump did, in fact, privately conclude that the deal would result in more people coming to the United States 'from countries he deemed undesirable.' This shows that Trump rejected the deal ... because it does not do enough to reverse the current racial and ethnic mix in the U.S. But it gets worse: The Post also reports that Trump was originally favorable towards the deal, but the anti-immigration hardliners around him intervened, on the grounds that it would supposedly be 'damaging' to Trump and 'would hurt him with his political base.' This included (unsurprisingly) Stephen Miller and even (disturbingly) Chief of Staff John F. Kelly. After that, The Post reports, Trump began telling friends that the agreement was 'a terrible deal for me.'” The Post report is here. ...

... Maggie Haberman & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Over a three-day weekend at his private club in Palm Beach, Fla., President Trump showed little or no concern about the angry reaction set off by his use of obscenities to describe the third world countries he fears immigrants could come from under a new immigration bill. His base loved what he said, he told guests at the club, Mar-a-Lago, a refrain he repeated in phone calls over the holiday weekend. But back in Washington on Tuesday, his advisers and congressional allies have tried to limit the fallout from his remarks in an Oval Office meeting last week, insisting that he had never described the countries as 'shitholes.'” ...

... Zeke Miller & Jonathan Lemire of the AP: "... Donald Trump’s Homeland Security secretary became the latest GOP official to offer an inconclusive version of a meeting in which Trump is said to have used vulgar remarks that have been criticized as racist.... Under persistent questioning, [Kirstjen] Nielsen said she didn’t recall the specific language used by Trump. 'What I was struck with frankly, as I’m sure you were as well, was just the general profanity used in the room by almost everyone.' New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, angrily criticized Nielsen’s comments, telling her during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, 'Your silence and your amnesia is complicity.'” ...

... Ed O'Keefe & Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed on Tuesday that President Trump used 'tough language' in an Oval Office meeting last week, but she said she did not hear him describe some African countries and Haiti as 'shithole countries,' as has been reported.... Later, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) began by telling Nielsen, 'I hope you remember me. We were at two meetings together' last week." A dry wit. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yesterday I wrote that Nielsen had finally, after repeatedly questioning by Durbin, confirmed that Sen. Graham had repeated the derogatory term Trump used but that she couldn't remember. In fact, she refused to admit anything more "specific" than "tough language," & it was Durbin who informed her what Trump & Graham said. I don't know what "tough language" is. I think "tough language" could include your saying to your kid, in a stern voice, "That was a terrible thing to do! Go right to your room!" Or this is tough language: "Get over it, lunkheads. The only people who get into this country are Nowegians!" ...

... Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post: "It is almost inconceivable that the president used such damning language, and yet Kirstjen Nielsen does not recall what he said. She remembers 'tough language' but not the words, or something close, to the words that were said? This is as preposterous as her response to a question that she was unaware Norway is a predominantly white country.... When you say under oath you don’t remember something when you do, that is lying under oath.... This is why you cannot serve a president who is racist, dishonest or personally corrupt. You inevitably wind up enabling racism, dishonesty and corruption. If you thought you could remain untainted, you were wrong. And now, you need to either quit or face the legal and personal consequences." ...

... Jennifer Rubin: "After dutifully lying on behalf of the president regarding his abhorrent language ('shithole countries'), Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) were outed by the White House. The Post reports: 'Three White House officials said Perdue and Cotton told the White House that they heard 'shithouse' rather than 'shithole,' allowing them to deny the president’s comments on television over the weekend. The two men initially said publicly that they could not recall what the president said. Not only did these two repeatedly lie, but Cotton also impugned the integrity of Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who told the truth. Asked whether the accusation that Trump spoke the offending words or the sentiment was phony, Cotton lied, 'Yes.' He went on to say, 'Senator Durbin has misrepresented what happened in White House meetings before, and he was corrected by Obama administration officials by it.'... The incident is telling in many respects, but none more important for Republicans than this: They can lie and enable the president hoping to score brownie points, but this White House won’t repay loyalty in kind. Instead, Republicans will find themselves humiliated.” ...

... Dara Lind of Vox: "The 'shithole' comment was a clarifying moment. Such moments often make clear fundamentally contradictory visions of America. It’s impossible to negotiate with people who believe any change to America-as-they-see-it is an existential threat — and when they’re direct or boorish enough to say that out loud, it saves everyone the time and trouble of trying to compromise.... You can’t negotiate with people who believe that an America that lets in people from 'shithole countries' isn’t the America they know or love. Either America is a nation of immigrants or it is a nation of blood and soil. It cannot be both." --safari...

... USA Today Editors: "It's bad enough that the president of the United States is an inveterate liar. It's even worse when members of Congress and his Cabinet feel compelled to lie on his behalf.... Five days after word leaked out that President Trump used bigoted and vulgar remarks during an Oval Office meeting on immigration, it's clear who's telling the truth. Spoiler alert: It's not the president and his enablers.... It defies credulity to think that anyone else who was in the room could forget such a remarkable exchange. Yet the other participants have chosen to lie, develop amnesia, or go mute.... Truth is the great leveler.... [N]o legislative priority is worth sacrificing your credibility to protect a president with so little regard for decency and honesty." --safari

... He's in the Shithouse Now. Frank Bruni of the New York Times: "One day it’s all sun and sycophantic fun on one of the president’s fancy golf courses, where you’re telling yourself that to marvel at his putts and swoon over his swing are small prices for influence and will pay off in the end. The next you’re in the middle of a surreal feud among your fellow Republicans about whether he used 'shithole' or 'shithouse' to describe poor countries of dark-skinned people, and you look like a sellout and fool for having thought and said better about him. That’s the story of Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Its moral couldn’t be clearer. There’s no honor or wisdom in cozying up to Donald Trump — just a heap of manure." ...

... Sorry, but this is too excellent to pass on:

I knew a man named Ramblin' Graham
He used to steal, gamble, and scam
He thought he was the smartest guy around
Well, I found out last Monday
That Graham got stitched up Sunday
Trump's got him in the shithouse way 'cross town

He's in the shithouse now
He's in the shithouse now
Well I told him you're a chump
Stop playin' golf with that Donald Trump
He's in the shithouse now.


... ** More Cynical GOP Brinkmanship. Thomas Kaplan & Robert Pear
of the New York Times: "With little hope of an immigration agreement this week, Republicans in Congress are looking to head off a government shutdown this weekend by pairing another stopgap spending measure with long-term funding for the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, daring Democrats to vote no. The bill would leave in limbo hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. But Democrats would still be left with a difficult political decision: withhold their votes unless the plight of such immigrants, known as Dreamers, is addressed and risk a government shutdown, or vote to keep the government open and fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage for nearly nine million children." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Having thwarted the Democrats' evil plot to save hundreds of thousands of young people, Republicans move on to using 9 million even younger Americans as a bargaining chip. Congratulations, GOP. You have now decisively announced that the U.S. is the Evil Empire, one that treats about 10 million of the most innocent Americans as pawns in a power game. "Shameful" is far too mild a descriptor. ...

... BUT, If You're an Itty-Bitty Fetus, You're in Luck (for 6 to 8 Months). Dan Diamond & Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico: "The Trump administration is planning new protections for health workers who don't want to perform abortions, refuse to treat transgender patients based on their gender identity or provide other services for which they have moral objections. Under a proposed rule — which has been closely guarded at HHS and is now under review by the White House — the HHS office in charge of civil rights would be empowered to further shield these workers and punish organizations that don’t allow them to express their moral objections, according to sources on and off the Hill."


Hallie Jackson, et al., of NBC News: "FBI agents showed up at Steve Bannon’s Washington home last week intent on serving him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury investigating possible ties between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia, according to a source familiar with the proceedings. The agents were unaware at the time that Bannon had retained Washington lawyer William Burck just hours earlier, according to two people familiar with the events that took place on Jan. 9. Once redirected, the agents sent the order to Burck, who is also representing two other witnesses in the probe being led by special counsel Robert Mueller.... Bannon ... could end up being interviewed by Mueller’s team before the end of the month, according to one source who agreed to discuss the matter on the condition of anonymity." ...

... Jeremy Herb & Manu Raju of CNN : "... Steve Bannon faced angry lawmakers from both parties during a contentious interview that stretched more than 10 hours on Tuesday, as he was hit with subpoenas on multiple fronts and was accused by a top Democrat of agreeing to a White House 'gag order.'...Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, said after the hearing that Bannon was instructed by the White House in advance of the hearing not to respond to certain topics. The California Democrat said the attorney for Bannon consulted with the White House after the committee subpoena was served Tuesday and was told his client was still not to answer questions regarding the time during the transition and in the White House. Schiff called it a 'gag order,' saying it was an 'audacious' move by the White House to assert that at a later date they may seek to invoke executive privilege." ...

... Kyle Cheney of Politico provides a conflicting account re: the invocation of executive privilege: "... Steve Bannon refused to answer questions Tuesday from the House intelligence committee about his time in the White House, prompting panel members to subpoena him on the spot, according to a person familiar with the interview. Bannon appeared before the committee as part of its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, speaking just weeks after a falling-out with Trump over comments he made in an explosive new book.... According to the person familiar with the interview, Bannon's attorney told the committee he wouldn't discuss anything about his time in the White House or during the transition after the 2016 election.... Bannon did not invoke executive privilege, the source said." ...

... Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast has yet another version: "During a closed-door hearing before the House intelligence committee today, Bannon reportedly told lawmakers that ... Donald Trump has invoked broad executive privilege for the purposes of Congressional inquiries. Because of that, Bannon refused to answer committee members’ questions about what happened during the presidential transition and in the White House.... But executive privilege — the president’s right to keep certain information from the public so he can have frank conversations with aides — will not keep Steve Bannon from sharing information with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, according to a person familiar with the situation.... 'He quickly informed through his counsel the committee he was not going to answer questions that pertained to meetings, conversations, events, etc., that took place either during the transition or while he was part of the administration. And what’s more, we would later learn that would be extended to even after he left the White House,' Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat, told MSNBC." ...

... Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "Stephen K. Bannon ... was subpoenaed last week by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to testify before a grand jury as part of the investigation into possible links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The move marked the first time Mr. Mueller is known to have used a grand jury subpoena to seek information from a member of Mr. Trump’s inner circle.... The subpoena could be a negotiating tactic. Mr. Mueller is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices.... The subpoena is a sign that Bannon is not personally the focus of the investigation. Justice Department rules allow prosecutors to subpoena to the targets of investigations only in rare circumstances." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Darren Samuelsohn of Politico: "In an ominous development for Republicans, a federal judge overseeing the upcoming trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates rejected Mueller’s request to begin in May and instead outlined a scheduled start as soon as September or October — peak election season. 'The timing of the Manafort-Gates trial will dictate major coverage going into early voting,' said veteran Republican strategist John Weaver. 'And this is without knowing for certain how many more indictments and how much closer this Siberian political cancer gets near the Oval Office.'”


Pentagon Proposes Viagra Boost to Trump's Nuclear Button. David Sanger & William Broad
of the New York Times: "A newly drafted United States nuclear strategy that has been sent to President Trump for approval would permit the use of nuclear weapons to respond to a wide range of devastating but non-nuclear attacks on American infrastructure, including what current and former government officials described as the most crippling kind of cyberattacks. For decades, American presidents have threatened 'first use' of nuclear weapons against enemies in only very narrow and limited circumstances, such as in response to the use of biological weapons against the United States. But the new document is the first to expand that to include attempts to destroy wide-reaching infrastructure, like a country’s power grid or communications, that would be most vulnerable to cyberweapons. The draft document, called the Nuclear Posture Review, was written at the Pentagon and is being reviewed by the White House." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Would this make the U.S. a bigger nuclear threat than North Korea? Probably so.

**Faux "Facts." Trevor Aaronson of The Intercept: "A new report from the departments of Justice and Homeland Security found that three of every four defendants convicted of international terrorism charges from September 11, 2001 to December 31, 2016 were born outside the United States.... The data in the report, released today, would appear to support Trump’s policies of limiting immigration from Muslim-majority nations out of national security concerns. However, the report appears to rely on a dataset that has been carefully selected to support the Trump administration’s anti-Muslim policies.... It appears that Sessions’s Justice Department has edited the data to support the conclusions the president wanted — that foreign-born individuals are the principal problem." Read on to see how Sessions appears to cherrypick his data. --safari...

... Lachlan Markay & Spencer Ackerman of The Daily Beast: "The Trump administration and its Republican allies are pointing to terrorism statistics in order to argue for ending two immigration programs. But those who study terrorism in the U.S. say that the administration cooked the numbers to arrive at its desired conclusion.... [W]hat statistics the government did produce are completely contradicted by counter-terrorism experts. The administration is trying to argue that terrorism on American soil is largely carried out by the 'foreign-born'; the experts insist that it’s the other way around — that U.S. citizens have been the majority of the offenders since 9/11." --safari ...

... "Trump's Revenge on California." David Siders of Politico: "Fear is rising among Democrats over the prospect that ... Donald Trump’s hard line on immigration might ultimately cost California a seat in Congress during the upcoming round of reapportionment. Top Democrats here are increasingly worried the administration’s restrictive policies — and the potential inclusion of a question about citizenship on the next U.S. Census — could scare whole swaths of California’s large immigrant population away from participating in the decennial count, resulting in an undercount that could cost the state billions of dollars in federal funding over the next decade and, perhaps, the loss of one of its 53 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The fears are well-founded...." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yet another authoritarian stunt -- manipulating the census to both punish political adversaries AND frighten residents.

... AND THIS. Hamed Aleaziz of the San Francisco Chronicle: "U.S. immigration officials have begun preparing for a major sweep in San Francisco and other Northern California cities in which federal officers would look to arrest more than 1,500 undocumented people while sending a message that immigration policy will be enforced in the sanctuary state, according to a source familiar with the operation. Officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, declined to comment Tuesday on plans for the operation. The campaign, centered in the Bay Area, could happen within weeks, and is expected to become the biggest enforcement action of its kind under President Trump, said the source...." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: All in all -- the Wall, the Muslim Ban, the support for white supremacists, the DACA recission, the Haitian & El Savadoran decisions, and, and, and -- there has not been such a massive, coordinated federal attack on people of color in my lifetime -- perhaps even since the 3/5ths compromise of 1787. Again, these moves & Trump's remarks must not be viewed only in isolation.

Hannah Levintova of Mother Jones: "Late on Tuesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that it is planning to 'reconsider' the Payday Rule, an Obama-era rule that created the first federal restrictions on payday loans. The rule takes aim at predatory practices by payday lenders.... This is one of the first major public moves at the CFPB ... since Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney as the agency’s temporary director." --safari

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "Three-quarters of the members of a federally chartered board advising the National Park Service abruptly quit Monday night out of frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or convene a single meeting last year. The resignation of nine out of 12 National Park System Advisory Board members leaves the federal government without a functioning body to designate national historic or natural landmarks. It also underscores the extent to which federal advisory bodies have become marginalized under the Trump administration. In May 2017, Zinke suspended all outside committees while his staff reviewed their composition and work. In a letter to the secretary, departing board chairman Tony Knowles, a former Alaska governor, wrote that he and eight other members 'have stood by waiting for the chance to meet and continue the partnership . . . as prescribed by law. All of the signatories had terms set to expire in May."

Adam Goldman of the New York Times: "A former C.I.A. officer suspected of helping China identify the agency’s informants in that country has been arrested, the Justice Department said on Tuesday. Many of the informants were killed in a systematic dismantling of the C.I.A.’s spy network in China starting in 2010 that was one of the American government’s worst intelligence failures in recent years, several former intelligence officials have said. The arrest of the former officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, capped an intense F.B.I. investigation that began around 2012 after the C.I.A. began losing its informants in China. Mr. Lee was at the center of a mole hunt in which some intelligence officials believed that he had betrayed the United States but others thought that the Chinese government had hacked the C.I.A.’s covert communications used to talk to foreign sources of information."

 

A Wolff Stalks the White House. Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg: "Author Michael Wolff’s pitch to the White House to win cooperation for his book included a working title that signaled a sympathetic view, a counter-narrative to a slew of negative news stories early in Donald Trump’s presidency. He called it 'The Great Transition: The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration.' And in part due to that title, Wolff was able to exploit an inexperienced White House staff who mistakenly believed they could shape the book to the president’s liking. Nearly everyone who spoke with Wolff thought someone else in the White House had approved their participation. And it appears that not a single person in a position of authority to halt cooperation with the book -- including Trump himself -- raised any red flags, despite Wolff’s well documented history. His previous work included a critical book on Trump confidant Rupert Murdoch.... After [John] Kelly replaced [Reince] Priebus as chief of staff at the end of July, Wolff was no longer allowed to linger in the West Wing lobby, a doctor’s waiting room-like area where visitors come and go and staff occasionally cut through. But by then it was too late."

Robert Burns & Lolita Baldor of the AP: "Five officers involved in two Navy ship collisions last year that killed a total of 17 sailors are being charged with negligent homicide, the Navy said Tuesday. A Navy spokesman, Capt. Greg Hicks, said the charges, which also include dereliction of duty and endangering a ship, will be presented to what the military calls an Article 32 hearing to determine whether the accused are taken to trial in a court-martial."

Molly Redden of the Guardian: "The cost of childcare and the cost as a share of families’ incomes have risen across the country for decades. Today, roughly one in four families spend more than 10% of their income on childcare, including more than half of families below the poverty line and two out of five families earning twice the poverty level. That’s if they can find licensed childcare at all. This summer, researchers at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive thinktank, analyzed census data in 22 states and found that 51% of the population resides in 'childcare deserts.'... And study after study shows the burden falling heavier on mothers.... It’s women who are more likely to leave the workforce after becoming parents, often never to work full-time again." --safari: Praise the Lords Ivanka's on the case!

Beyond the Beltway

Gideon Resnick of The Daily Beast: "Democrats won a state Senate seat in a deeply red Wisconsin district on Tuesday night, their 34th legislative pickup since President Trump’s inauguration. Patty Schachtner defeated Republican Adam Jarchow in Wisconsin’s Senate District 10, flipping the seat, which has been held by Republicans since 2000." --safari: Dem candidates reportedly "overperfomed" by +21.49%. #BlueWave