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Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

Click on the picture to see larger image.... Low Society News. AP: "... Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were among the guests as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin’s) married a Scottish actress. Mnuchin exchanged vows Saturday night with Louise Linton at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. Mrs. Trump wore a pink blush dress" CW: which, if you follow Reality Chex, you will know was enhanced by some really costly baubles that remind the bride of Grace Kelly or happy times or something.

New Yorker: "In a paper in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers announced that they have pushed back the date of the earliest human remains to three hundred thousand years ago. And the specimens in question were found not in East Africa, which has become synonymous with a sort of paleoanthropological Garden of Eden, but clear on the other side of the continent — and the Sahara — in Morocco." -- CW ...

Washington Post: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took a final, bittersweet bow Sunday, staging its last three shows [in Uniondale, N.Y.,] after 146 years of entertaining American audiences with gravity-defying trapeze stunts, comically clumsy clowns and trained tigers." -- CW 

Guardian: "Pippa Middleton [sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge --] has married James Matthews in what has been called the society wedding of the year, in front of royalty, family and friends." -- CW

Washington Post: "Two months before Monday’s [May 8] announcement that Sinclair Broadcast Group would pay $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and add to its dominance as the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, a top executive at Sinclair beamed a short commentary piece to many of the company’s 173 stations.In the segment, which looks like it belongs in a newscast, Sinclair vice president for news Scott Livingston stands before a wall of video monitors and warns that 'some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.' He accuses the national media of publishing 'fake news stories' — a direct echo of President Trump’s frequent complaint — and then asks viewers to visit the station’s website to share 'content concerns.' The piece was a 'must-run,' meaning news directors and station managers from Baltimore to Seattle had to find room for it.... While partisan coverage is a familiar staple of cable networks — Fox News on the right, MSNBC on the left — it remains mostly unheard of in broadcast TV, where it has generally been accepted that public airwaves should be used in the difficult-to-define public interest.” -- CW 

CNN: "21st Century Fox and the private equity firm Blackstone are in talks to launch a bid for Tribune Media, one of the nation's largest television broadcasting companies, a source with knowledge of the matter said Sunday. The deal currently under discussion would see Blackstone and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox forming a joint venture. Blackstone would provide the cash for the acquisition while Fox would add all its owned-and-operated television stations to the joint venture." -- CW 

New York Times: "Prehistoric humans — perhaps Neanderthals or another lost species — occupied what is now California some 130,000 years ago, a team of scientists reported on Wednesday. The bold and fiercely disputed claim, published in the journal Nature, is based on a study of mastodon bones discovered near San Diego. If the scientists are right, they would significantly alter our understanding of how humans spread around the planet." -- CW 

If you're curious as to how realistic the New York City apartments of TV sitcom characters are -- in terms of what the characters could reasonably afford -- the Washington Post checks out several of the hovels & dream rentals of a number of shows. Kinda fun. CW: My husband & I (he paid the rent) had a fairly spacious two-bedroom with a galley kitchen (dishwasher included!) & dining room plus teensy closets on Washington Square in the 1980s & '90s. NYU owned the building & helped considerably with the rent.

Politico: "Comedian Hasan Minhaj will be this year's entertainer for the White House Correspondents' Dinner later this month, the association's president announced on Tuesday. Minhaj is a stand up comedian and senior correspondent on 'The Daily Show,' where he has performed caustic bits on ... Donald Trump, liberals and others in between. Minhaj has Washington experience already, having performed as host of last year's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner." -- CW 

AFP: "After months of uncertainty and controversy, Bob Dylan finally accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature at a jovial, champagne-laced ceremony on Saturday, [April 1,] the Swedish Academy announced. The academy, which awards the coveted prize, ended prolonged speculation as to whether the 75-year-old troubadour would use a concert stopover in Stockholm to accept the gold medal and diploma awarded to him back in October." -- CW 

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Sunday
Jun112017

The Commentariat -- June 12, 2017

Afternoon Update:

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "A second federal appeals court on Monday ruled against President Trump's revised travel ban. The decision, from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, was the latest in a string of court rulings rejecting the administration's efforts to limit travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. The administration has already sought a Supreme Court review of a similar decision issued last month by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va. The new ruling affirmed a March decision from Judge Derrick K. Watson, of the Federal District Court in Hawaii." The Ninth Circuit's ruling is here. -- CW

Spotlight on the Evil Elf. Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, according to the committee's leaders.... Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Sessions requested that the committee hearing be public." -- CW ...

... Greg Sargent on how "Trump's abuses of power could continue their slide to depths of madness or autocracy," and his Congressional colleagues would keep on smiling.

Sharon LaFraniere of the New York Times: "... Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit Monday alleging that [Donald Trump's] failure to shed his private businesses has undermined public trust and violated constitutional bans against self-dealing.... Some legal experts said the Maryland suit crossed a new legal threshold because the Maryland and District of Columbia governments are legally considered 'coequal sovereigns' with the president, making them the strongest possible opponents in the constitutional argument over emoluments." Related story linked below. -- CW

... I'm Just a Bill. Caitlin Owens of Axios: "Senate Republicans are on track to finish writing their draft health care bill this evening, but have no plans to publicly release the bill, according to two senior Senate GOP aides. 'We aren't stupid,' said one of the aides.... Democratic senators are already slamming Republicans for the secrecy of their bill writing process, and this isn't going to help. Republicans are sure to release the bill at some point, but it's unclear when -- and they want to vote on it in the next three weeks, before the July 4 recess." ...

     ... CW: Since the Senate is using the reconciliation process, there is good reason to think the bill will pass, & millions of Americans will succumb to DonTCare. Meanwhile, let's keep reminding ourselves that Repubicans secretly writing a bill, with no public debate & no input from nearly half the Congress, & that bill affects (a) American lives and (b) one-sixth of the economy. Raise your hand if that's how you thought a bill became a law.

Here are more stories by spouses in interracial marriages,via the New York Times. -- CW

*****

Sandhya Somashekhar of the Washington Post: "Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York ousted by President Trump, said Sunday that he had become increasingly uncomfortable with Trump's efforts to 'cultivate some kind of relationship' with him and that his March firing came 22 hours after finally refusing to take a call from the president. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's 'This Week,' Bharara said Trump called him twice as president-elect, 'ostensibly just to shoot the breeze.' The calls took place after a meeting at Trump Tower in November at which Bharara, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, said Trump asked him to stay on in the new administration.... Bharara said the story told by [James] Comey about his own contacts with the president 'felt a little bit like deja vu.'" -- CW ...

     ... Stephanopoulos's interview of Bharara is here. The part that relates to Bharara's encounters with Trump begins at about 10:30 min. in. -- CW ...

... AND Another Thing. Daniel Politi of Slate: "Former New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who led several high-profile corruption cases until ... Donald Trump fired him in March, said there is 'absolutely' enough evidence to launch an obstruction of justice case against President Trump for his firing of FBI chief James Comey. 'No one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction,' Bharara said. '[But] there's no basis to say there's no obstruction.'" -- CW ...

... Dino Grandoni of the Washington Post: "On Sunday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said President Trump should turn over tapes of conversations he had with former FBI director James B. Comey -- if they exist. 'He should voluntarily turn them over not only to the Senate Intelligence Committee, but to the special counsel,' Collins told Brianna Keilar on CNN's 'State of the Union.' I don't understand why the president just doesn't clear this matter up once and for all,' she added." CW: Apparently Collins hasn't noticed that Trump is a grandstanding phony who still thinks he's on a stupid teevee reality show. ...

     ... David Edwards of the Raw Story: "Biographer Tim O'Brien revealed on Sunday that ... Donald Trump lied about taping him in an effort to intimidate him. In 2005, Trump sued O'Brien over his book TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald, which suggested that the real estate mogul was worth only $250 million. But the author ... cornered [Trump] in a deposition for making at least 30 false statements.... 'He's said this over the years to reporters when they go into the Trump organization, "I just want to let you know that I'm taping you right now,"' O'Brien noted. 'And he said it multiple times during my interviews with him. He said that into my own tape recorder when I recorded our interviews.' 'But when he sat down for the deposition, my attorney said, "Mr. Trump, do you have a taping system?"' he recalled. 'And he said no. And [my attorney] said, "Why did you say this to Mr. O'Brien." And he essentially said, "I wanted to intimidate him."'" -- CW ...

... Mallory Shelbourne of the Hill: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said President Trump could be the first commander in chief 'to go down' over ongoing chaos in his administration, including his Twitter habit. 'You may be the first president in history to go down because you can't stop inappropriately talking about an investigation that if you just were quiet, would clear you,' Graham said of Trump on CBS's 'Face the Nation.'" -- CW ...

... Graham: Trump Too Incompetent to Collude with Russians. Alan Pyke of ThinkProgress: "The idea that Donald Trump conspired with Russian interests to manipulate the 2016 election is ludicrous, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Sunday, simply because Trump has proven incapable of working smoothly even with his own team. 'He doesn't believe he did anything wrong with the Russians and I tend to believe him,' Graham said on CBS' Face the Nation. 'He can't collude with his own government. Why do you think he is colluding with the Russians? The line was reminiscent of other backhanded defenses Republicans have offered for Trump's personal interference with investigations into contact between his team and Russian officials." -- CW ...

Manu Raju of CNN: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions' letter on Saturday offering to testify before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday caught members of the panel by surprise, and senators are concerned he's trying to avoid testifying publicly, a source familiar with the situation says. The committee has not confirmed the Tuesday date for Sessions' testimony and are still discussing whether to allow him to testify in open or closed session, or both, as former FBI Director James Comey did last week." -- CW ...

... Emmarie Huetteman of the New York Times: "A day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would testify this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democratic senators on Sunday urged the panel to question him about the Trump campaign's ties to Russia in a public hearing, rather than behind closed doors.... Either way, senators said he would face pointed questions not only about his contacts with Russian officials, but also about his conversations with James B. Comey...." -- CW ...

... Seung Min Kim of Politico: Jeff Sessions is getting sucked deeper & deeper into the Russia scandal. "Sessions on Tuesday will return to the Capitol to talk to the Senate Intelligence Committee in a surprise appearance announced over the weekend, although it remains unclear whether he'll testify in an open setting. Nonetheless, the trip comes just days after former FBI Director James Comey cryptically testified that he knew details about the attorney general before his recusal from the Russia probe that would make his involvement in the Russia probe 'problematic.'" CW: I'd like to know what Sessions testifies under oath, but if the hearing is public, I won't have the stomach to watch. ...

... JeffBo's Mysterious Russia Problem. Josh Marshall: "... Sessions appears to have used the intel committee hearing to avoid public testimony.... At his confirmation hearings, Sessions said without prompting that he had never met with Russian officials during the campaign.... It later emerged that that was not true and Sessions was allowed to correct his testimony. He added the two meetings that had just been revealed in The Washington Post. But apparently he omitted at least one other meeting.... Sessions misinformed the committee, got a chance to correct the record but apparently again misinformed the committee.... Comey deliberately pushed [the Sessions story] into the record when the questions he was asked did not specifically require him to.... [Comey testified,] 'Our judgment, as I recall, is that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. We also were aware of facts that I can't discuss in an opening setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic.'... Mysteries like these, new hidden information coming to the fore simply don't happen when there's not something big at the center of the story." -- CW ...

... Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "What would Watergate look like if it were to happen now? We no longer have to wonder.... Watergate unfolded in a much simpler time in the media industry. There were three major news networks and PBS; a major paper or three in every city; and a political dynamic in which leaders duked it out by day and dined together at night. They did so on a solid foundation of agreed-upon facts and a sense of right and wrong that was shared if not always followed. The Trump-Russia scandal is breaking during a time of informational chaos, when rival versions of reality are fighting for narrative supremacy.... By allowing partisans to live in their separate informational and misinformational bubbles, and, in some cases, to allow real news to be rendered as false -- and false news to be rendered as true -- they have all contributed to the calcification of the national divide.... With no counterinformational media cocoons on Nixon's side, his die-hard partisans had to watch as ... the news media pounded away at all the Watergate developments." -- CW


Ian Millhiser
of ThinkProgress: "After months of drama, airport chaos, emergency court orders, shifting policies, and the confirmation of Donald Trump's choice to join the Supreme Court..., will finally weigh in on Trump's Muslim ban. A decision, at least on a very significant preliminary matter, is likely to come this week.... The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to review the lower court's decision [to stay the Muslim ban] a little more than a week ago. More importantly, it asked for an immediate order staying the lower court's decision and allowing the Muslim ban to take effect.... A [Supreme Court] ruling on the stay is likely to come as soon as this week.... There is a very real chance ... that America is about to learn that it cannot count on the courts to rein in this president." -- CW

Aaron Davis of the Washington Post: "Attorneys general for the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland say they will sue President Trump on Monday, alleging that he has violated anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution by accepting millions in payments and benefits from foreign governments since moving into the White House. The lawsuit, the first of its kind brought by government entities, centers on the fact that Trump chose to retain ownership of his company when he became president.... If a federal judge allows the case to proceed, [D.C. AG Karl] Racine and [Maryland AG Brian] Frosh say, one of the first steps will be to demand through the discovery process copies of Trump's personal tax returns to gauge the extent of his foreign business dealings." Read on. -- CW ...

... Ian Millhiser: "Two days after Donald Trump took office, an all-star team of lawyers and legal scholars filed a lawsuit claiming that the Trump Organization's business dealings with both the U.S. and foreign government's violates the Constitution's bans on 'Emoluments.' On Friday, the Justice Department filed a motion seeking to dismiss this lawsuit, and that motion includes an unusually Nixonian argument.... Instead of echoing President Nixon's infamous suggestion that the law bends to the president's will, DOJ makes the more nuanced argument that, even if Trump is violating the Constitution, the courts are largely powerless to do anything about it.... There's also a pretty glaring weakness in this argument. The plaintiffs in CREW aren't seeking to prevent Trump from taking an official action that falls within his duties as president. To the contrary, they want to prevent Trump from profiting from certain side deals unrelated to his duties as president." -- CW

I've got one foot on a banana peel and another out the door. -- Reince Priebus ...

... Tara Palmeri of Politico: "... Donald Trump has set a deadline of July 4 for a shakeup of the White House that could include removing Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, according to two administration officials and three outside advisers familiar with the matter.... Trump has set deadlines for staff changes before, only to let them pass without pulling the trigger.... Days after his return from his first foreign trip late last month, Trump berated Priebus in the Oval Office in front of his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager David Bossie for the dysfunction in the White House, according to multiple sources.... Trump's first deadline for the firing of Priebus and many staffers that he brought on from the Republican National Committee was the 100-day mark. The president then considered the idea of a Memorial Day shakeup when he returned from the foreign trip, and then most recently, July 4. 'It's become comical that every holiday becomes a referendum on Reince,' said one adviser to the president." -- CW

The Cowardly Liar. Hugh Muir of the Guardian: Donald Trump "has apparently, in a recent telephone call to the prime minister, declared that he does not want to come [to England] if there are to be large-scale protests. The visit, we are told, is on hold.... Once again we see what it is to deal with someone who has such high office and such thin skin. Just the notion of turbulence that might be seen around the world seems to be enough to scare him off. If he can't bomb it or tweet against it, the cupboard of responses seems bare." See the top of yesterday's Commentariat . ...

     ... CW: One way to interpret Trump's call to May is as a threat; that is, if she couldn't hold protesters at bay, he would embarrass her by not showing up. So, whether primarily cowardice or bullying or some combination thereof, Trump's petulance once again creates an international incident. May, who has plenty of problems of her own, surely wants to throttle Trump.

McCain Is Not Completely Bonkers. Sabrina Siddiqui & Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "Since taking office in January, Trump has repeatedly stunned observers both at home and abroad with his irreverence for American foreign policy norms and unconventional approach to relations with allies and foes alike. But recent weeks have underscored, even according to some within his own party, the potential ramifications of the president's loose rhetoric and abrupt policy shifts. Senator John McCain, a prominent Republican voice on foreign policy, was visibly irked when asked by the Guardian what message Trump had sent to the United Kingdom, one of America's most enduring allies. 'What do you think the message is? The message is that America doesn't want to lead,' McCain said.... Asked if America's standing on the global stage was better under Barack Obama, McCain, a fervent critic of the previous administration's foreign policy, responded: 'As far as American leadership is concerned, yes.'" -- CW

President Gullible's Travels. Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post: "... the big winners [in Trump's "foreign policy"] so far -- not Russia, nor Israel -- but two countries Trump has spent decades disparaging: China and Saudi Arabia. So far, Asia's rising superpower and the Middle East's most reactionary autocracy have gotten everything they've wanted from the White House, including unconditional public support from the president.... The clincher in these sweetheart deals has been the seduction by Xi and Salman of the president himself -- which, by Trump's own account, has been all too easy.... They have illuminated an embarrassing and somewhat scary truth about this president: When it comes to foreign affairs, he is heedless of history, susceptible to blandishments and supremely gullible." -- CW"

Travis Andrews of the Washington Post: "First lady Melania Trump and son Barron, 11, moved into the White House Sunday after spending the first several months of President Trump's presidency residing in their Trump Tower penthouse in New York City[.] -- CW


Right Wing World. Jeremy Peters
of the New York Times provides an example of how a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist spreads false stories, and how disreputable people like Rush Limbaugh & Donald Trump pick up the fake news & distribute it to their fans. "... as the journey of that one tweet shows, misinformed, distorted and false stories are gaining traction far beyond the fringes of the internet. Just 14 words from Mr. Posobiec's Twitter account would spread far enough to provide grist for a prime-time Fox News commentary and a Rush Limbaugh monologue that reached millions of listeners, forging an alternative first draft of history in corners of the conservative media where President Trump's troubles are often explained away as fabrications by his journalist enemies." -- CW ...

... CW: In a life-and-death version of fake news, Daniel Engber of Slate relates how a note in a 1979 article published in the New England Journal of Medicine helped create the opioid crisis. As time passed, the note, which described a limited study, took on a life of its own, "grow[ing] in stature from a single paragraph to an 'extensive study' and then a 'landmark' one," and doctors began taking as an article of faith that patients were unlikely to become addicted to painkillers. -- CW

Danica Coto of the AP: "Puerto Rico's governor announced that the U.S. territory overwhelmingly chose statehood on Sunday in a nonbinding referendum held amid a deep economic crisis that has sparked an exodus of islanders to the U.S. mainland. Nearly half a million votes were cast for statehood, about 7,600 for free association/independence and nearly 6,700 for the current territorial status, according to preliminary results. Voter turnout was just 23 percent, leading opponents to question the validity of a vote that several political parties had urged their supporters to boycott. And the U.S. Congress has final say in any changes to Puerto Rico's political status. But that didn't stop Gov. Ricardo Rossello from vowing to push ahead with his administration's quest to make the island the 51st U.S. state and declaring that 'Puerto Rico voted for statehood.'" -- CW

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "Hackers allied with the Russian government have devised a cyber weapon that has the potential to be the most disruptive yet against electric systems that Americans depend on for daily life, according to U.S. researchers. The malware, which researchers have dubbed CrashOverride, is known to have disrupted only one energy system -- in Ukraine in December. In that incident, the hackers briefly shut down one-fifth of the electric power generated in Kiev." Thanks to D.C. Clark for the link. -- CW

The Way We Were. Jennifer Medina of the New York Times: "When [Leon Watson and Rosina Rodriquez] married in Oakland in 1950, mixed-race marriage had just become legal in California, the result of a lawsuit that reached the State Supreme Court. They are among the oldest living interracial couples legally married in the United States.... [Today], they will mark the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court case that overturned antimiscegenation laws nationwide." -- CW

Way Beyond the Beltway

James McAuley of the Washington Post: "French President Emmanuel Macron and his party took a commanding lead in the first round of France's legislative elections Sunday, with the potential to win an absolute majority. In a once-unimaginable scenario, Macron's centrist party -- established little more than a year ago -- was projected to win between 390 and 430 of the French Parliament's 577 seats, according to an Ipsos-Sopra analysis. In a political landscape defined for decades by the well-oiled machines of traditional center-left and center-right parties, the rise of Macron's Republic on the Move represented a watershed development.... If Sunday's parliamentary results hold up after a second and final round of voting next Sunday, France will be run by both a new president and a new party." -- CW

Saturday
Jun102017

The Commentariat -- June 11, 2017

NEW. Trump to Ride in QEII's Golden Coach When Hell Freezes Over. Patrick Wintour of the Guardian: "Donald Trump has told Theresa May in a phone call he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming. The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time. The call was made in recent weeks, according to a Downing Street adviser who was in the room. The statement surprised May, according to those present." -- CW

     ... Update: Glenn Thrush of the New York Times: "President Trump is considering scrapping or postponing a planned visit to Britain later this year amid a billowing backlash over comments he made after the recent terrorist attack in London, two administration officials said. Over the past week, Mr. Trump has expressed increasing skepticism to aides about the trip after coming under intense criticism for a misleading charge he leveled against London's mayor, Sadiq Khan.... Mr. Trump, who was visiting his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., over the weekend, has not definitively ruled out going, the officials said.... Mrs. May's office, responding to a report in The Guardian that Mr. Trump did not want to visit Britain until he had more public support, issued a statement on Sunday saying there had been 'no change' to plans for a state visit." -- CW

NEW. Rebecca Morin of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Sunday called former FBI director James Comey's disclosure of their conversations 'cowardly.' 'I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible. Totally illegal? Very "cowardly,"' Trump tweeted Sunday morning, though it is unclear as to what he meant in the use of the word 'prevalent.'" CW: I suppose it was "very brave" of Trump to leak part of their conversation first. ...

... Peter Baker & David Sanger of the New York Times: "Lost in the showdown between President Trump and James B. Comey ... was a chilling threat to the United States. Mr. Comey ... testified that the Russians had not only intervened in last year's election, but would try to do it again.... Russian hackers did not just breach Democratic email accounts; according to Mr. Comey, they orchestrated a 'massive effort' targeting hundreds of -- and possibly more than 1,000 -- American government and private organizations since 2015.... What started out as a counterintelligence investigation to guard the United States against a hostile foreign power has morphed into a political scandal about what Mr. Trump did, what he said and what he meant by it.... The issue has become partisan, because Mr. Trump insists that any discussion of Russian meddling in the election is an attack on his legitimacy. He has dismissed the Russia inquiry as 'fake news' generated by Democrats to explain their defeat. He repeated that during a news conference on Friday.... Mr. Trump has rarely expressed concern about Russia's role last year or its continuing efforts in Europe." ...

     ... CW: The first duty of the POTUS, according to a document Trump has never read, is to "be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States." That is, the president's No. 1 Job is to protect Americans from foreign attacks. Trump not only has no interest in doing so, he calls such attacks fake. It would be nice to think his failure is the product of sheer stupidity: his is too dumb to understand an attack that doesn't generate pictures of bombed-out buildings & maimed children. But the real reason is that Trump (a) encouraged a foreign adversary to continue such attacks, and (b) likely collaborated with the adversary. He fired Comey because he thought it would keep us from finding out he was sleeping with the enemy in service of his own interests. ...

     ... Update: Asha Rangappa in a Washington Post op-ed: "... as a former FBI counterintelligence agent, what I saw as the most explosive aspect of the testimony ... was the prima facie evidence that Comey presented that Trump appears unwilling to uphold his oath 'to preserve, protect, and defend' the country -- which puts the security of our nation and its democracy at stake. In the nine times Trump met with or called Comey, it was always to discuss how the investigation into Russia's election interference was affecting him personally, rather than the security of the country. He apparently cared little about understanding either the magnitude of the Russian intelligence threat, or how the FBI might be able to prevent another attack in future elections.... For any president to ignore the situation is shocking." -- CW ...

... Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump Jr. ... seemed to confirm Comey's version of events in a Saturday interview on Fox News as he tried to emphasize the fact that his father did not directly order Comey to stop investigating Flynn. 'When he tells you to do something, guess what? There's no ambiguity in it, there's no, "Hey, I'm hoping,'" Trump said. 'You and I are friends: "Hey, I hope this happens, but you've got to do your job." That's what he told Comey. And for this guy as a politician to then go back and write a memo: "Oh, I felt threatened." He felt so threatened -- but he didn't do anything.'" -- CW ...

... Laura Jarrett & Evan Perez of CNN: "... Donald Trump's lawyer has responded to fired FBI Director James Comey's tell-all to Congress by taking a victory lap. The evening before Comey's testimony, Marc Kasowitz was spotted buying a box of cigars, and sources overheard him saying, 'We won. Trump's in the clear. ... It's clear Trump didn't do anything wrong.' He continued his celebration the next day, declaring, 'The President feels completely vindicated.'... On the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, special counsel Robert Mueller has been quietly and methodically building the equivalent of a small US attorney's office -- a team of formidable legal minds who've worked on everything from Watergate to Enron, unlikely to leave any stone unturned." -- CW ...

... Tom LoBianco & Laura Jarrett of CNN: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Saturday that he plans to testify before the Senate intelligence committee Tuesday, but it was not immediately clear if he would testify in public or private. The move is a prominent switch from his previous plans to testify publicly on the Justice Department budget and puts him more directly in the firing line over questions about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States." -- CW

Your Tax Dollars at Work -- Paying to Defend Trump's Profiteering. Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The Justice Department is urging a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit claiming that ... Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by profiting from business deals with foreign governments. The filing Friday evening in U.S. District Court in Manhattan is the first substantive legal response from the Trump administration to a series of suits challenging Trump's effort to maintain ties to his real estate empire as he serves as president." -- CW

Jeff Greenfield in Politico Magazine: "Everything we have seen in these first 140 days -- the splintering of the Western alliance, the grifter's ethics he and his family embody, the breathtaking ignorance of history, geopolitics and government, the jaw-dropping egomania, the sheer incompetence and contempt for democratic norms -- was on full display from the moment his campaign began. And that's not just what Democrats think -- it's what many prominent Republicans have said all along.... In a key sense, Trump happened because a well-established, real-life mechanism that was in the best position to prevent a Trump presidency failed. That institution was the Republican Party.... One often overlooked reason -- and one for parties to remember if they hope to avoid future Trumps -- is that the rules of the GOP greatly benefitted Trump.... Either by cluelessness or willful design, the Republican Party had put itself in a position where one of the most significant functions of a party -- the 'vetting' of its prospective nominee -- was rendered impotent. And we are living with that institutional failure every day." -- CW

Nahal Toosi, et al., of Politico: "John Kelly's sterling reputation as a Marine general with an appreciation for nuance led many Democrats to back his nomination as Homeland Security secretary in the hopes that he would rein in ... Donald Trump's hardline immigration and security policies. Instead, Kelly has moved to impose those policies with military rigor. He has pursued an aggressive deportation campaign; defended Trump's effort to ban visitors from several Muslim-majority countries; and hinted that he might separate migrant parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. Kelly has joked with Trump about using violence against reporters and defended ... Jared Kushner amid allegations that he tried to set up a secret backchannel to the Russian government. Today, it's tough to find anyone on the left willing to defend Kelly." -- CW

... Avi Selk of the Washington Post: Turns out, according to Sanders, that her three-year-old got hold of her phone, which is (a) plausible, and (b) leaves us with no excuse for "covfefe." -- CW ...

... And No Excuse for This Guy. Eliana Johnson of Politico: "The White House is brimming with aides, lawyers, and communications gurus who are begging ... Donald Trump to stop tweeting. The lone exception is Dan Scavino, the president's former golf caddy who now oversees the White House's messaging on social media. Scavino is in many ways the president's mini-me, a man whose bombast, impulse control, and instinct for a good punch match those of his boss. After Trump last weekend blasted London Mayor Sadiq Khan after a terror attack that killed eight people, Scavino posted a message citing Khan's own 2016 criticism of Trump's rhetoric on Muslims and terrorism -- complete with a Trumpian, all-caps 'WAKE UP!!!!' And like his boss, Scavino has ignored warnings from high-level White House officials to tone down his tweets. Scavino was reprimanded on Friday for violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits senior executive branch officials from using their authority to interfere with elections, by calling in April for the ouster of Michigan Republican Justin Amash." CW: Say what? Trump's caddy is his social media director??? ...

... @KellyanneLeaks. Brandon Carter of the Hill: "White House counselor Kellyanne Conway reportedly shared behind-the-scenes White House conversations with reporters at a Washington, D.C. party on Friday night in conversations that were overheard by another party guest." -- CW

Bridgegate Lives! Matt Katz & Andrea Bernstein of WNYC in a New York Times op-ed on the mob-style connections between Chris Christie & Donald Trump. "... the blood-sport political culture that spawned Bridgegate has managed to worm its way into the Trump administration.... Several Bridgegate figures are now in the Trump inner circle.... They share a New York-New Jersey style of transactional what-have-you-done-for-me-lately politics, where policy seems secondary, ethics rules are meant to be bent, apologies are rare, secrecy is sacrosanct and lawyers are plentiful.... Bridgegate culture is about winning, and giving second and third chances only to the most powerful, while underlings lose their jobs, or worse." Christie's lawyer, who helped Christie finagle his way out of a Bridgegate indictment, was Chistopher Wray. Wray is now Trump's nominee for FBI director. David Wildstein, who orchestrated Bridgegate, had previously worked for Jared Kushner at the New York Observer, & Kushner expressed admiration for Wildstein's 'kind of badass' move against the mayor of Fort Lee.... After Mr. Comey's testimony was released last week, Mr. Christie dismissed on MSNBC any loyalty demands the president may have made to the F.B.I. director as mere 'normal New York City conversation.'" CW: Comey's "mistake": not appreciating omertà. Entertaining.

Mirren Gidda of Newsweek: "U.S. Special Forces have joined the Philippine army in attempting to retake Marawi City from fighters loyal to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). The jihadists overran the city on May 23: in the ensuing battle, 58 troops, 138 militants and 20 civilians died. Speaking at a news conference in the southern city, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera said that the new U.S. forces would not be fighting but instead 'providing technical support.'" See also Akhilleus' commentary below. -- CW

You Can't Make Up This Stuff. Adrienne Varkiani of ThinkProgress: "On Thursday, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) praised the recent Islamic State attack in Tehran as a 'good thing' and suggested that maybe the United States should work with the militant organization." CW: Rohrabacher, who represents part of Orange County, CA, won re-election in 2016, 58.3 to 41.7.

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "One might be forgiven for thinking that Mr. Obama was trolling President Trump. At a moment when Mr. Trump has left Europeans despairing about the trans-Atlantic relationship, his predecessor is in the middle of a Group of 7 reunion tour. [He has met with Canada's Justin Trudeau, the U.K.'s David Cameron, Germany's Angela Merkel & Italy's Matteo Renzi.]... Mr. Obama [broke] his stay-out-of-politics vow to endorse [Emmanuel] Macron [of France].... While Mr. Trump lectures his fellow leaders about paying more for NATO or ignores their pleas not to pull out of the Paris climate accord, Mr. Obama appears on panels with allies to discuss issues like food security or how to inspire young people to be more active in their communities. The meetings beforehand or afterward are private, though they quickly end up on social media, often accompanied by commentary so wistful it makes one imagine the nostalgic G-7 leaders murmuring, 'We may not always have Paris, but we'll always have Barack.'" -- CW

Why Clinton & Biden Should Never Run for Office Again

(1) Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney revealed on Friday that Hillary Clinton encouraged him to consider serving as ... Donald Trump's secretary of state." -- CW ...

(2) Alex Isenstadt: "Mitt Romney is getting encouragement to run for Senate in 2018 from an unlikely source: Joe Biden. During a closed-door appearance with Romney [in Deer Valley, Utah,] on Friday evening, Biden said Romney should consider a Senate bid. The remark came during the second day of the E2 Summit, an annual Romney-hosted donor conference. Attendees were gathered to hear a dialogue between the two men, who were on opposite sides of the 2012 election." -- CW


Grace Ballenger
of Slate: "Huge numbers of Puerto Ricans will decide Sunday on whether their economically distressed territory should appeal for U.S. statehood, seek independence, or remain as a U.S. territory. The vote, which is the second such referendum in five years, was precipitated by Puerto Rico's declaration of bankruptcy in May and a widespread exodus from the island. But even if it passes on the island, the prospect of statehood faces poor odds in the U.S. Congress." CW: Yes, try to imagine Donald Trump embracing Puerto Rican statehood.

Abigail Hauslohner & Justin Moyer of the Washington Post: "Anti-Muslim activists hoisted American flags and delivered fiery speeches in rallies across the country Saturday, facing off against crowds of counter-demonstrators in several cities.... ACT for America, a lobbyist organization with close ties to the Trump administration, organized nationwide marches to oppose Islamic law, which the group believes is a threat to American society. The turnout was relatively small, with rally crowds of a few dozen in many cities outnumbered almost 10 to one by counter-demonstrators who tried to drown out their voices with drums, bullhorns and cowbells." -- CW

Way Beyond the Beltway

A Little Problem with Brexit -- Tory Turmoil. Alan Cochrane & Simon Johnson of the London Telegraph: Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative party, "is to defy Theresa May's plans for a hard Brexit and tear her Scottish party away from English control after the UK Tories' disastrous General Election result. Amid a growing clamour among senior Tories in London for Ms Davidson to be given a top position in the UK party, her aides are working on a deal that would see the Scottish party break away to form a separate organisation.... Fresh from her success in winning an extra 12 Scottish seats in Thursday's election, at the same time as the Prime Minister was losing 21 constituencies in England, Ms Davidson also vowed to use her Commons votes to prioritise the single market over curbing immigration. This is certain to split Tory ranks as Mrs May has pledged to take the UK out of both the single market and the EU customs union as part of her Brexit negotiations, which begin next week." -- CW ...

... CW: If you were wondering, "What the D.U.P.?" -- the Northern Ireland party that will help the Tories form a government -- Ed O'Loughlin of the New York Times has an answer. Hardly a lovely bunch of coconuts. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

AP: "Iran says it has killed the alleged mastermind of twin attacks last week claimed by the Islamic State group. The official IRNA news agency on Sunday quotes Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi as saying the suspect left Iran for a neighboring country following the attacks but 'was sent to hell' by Iranian intelligence agents and 'fellow intelligence services.' Alavi did not provide further details or offer any evidence." CW: Oh, bad news for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.). See related link above.

Friday
Jun092017

The Commentariat -- June 10, 2017

Afternoon Update:

CW: If you were wondering, "What the D.U.P.?" -- the Northern Ireland party that will help the Tories form a government -- Ed O'Loughlin of the New York Times has an answer. Hardly a lovely bunch of coconuts.

*****

Gardiner Harris & Mark Landler of the New York Times: "Reversing himself again, President Trump on Friday delivered a stinging rebuke to Qatar, accusing the Persian Gulf nation of being a 'funder of terror at a very high level' and demanding that it cut off that money flow to rejoin the circle of responsible nations. Mr. Trump's comments undercut his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, who has thrown himself into an effort to mediate a resolution to a bitter dispute between Qatar and several of its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia. Earlier on Friday, Mr. Tillerson called for 'calm and thoughtful dialogue' to resolve the crisis. The president's comments were anything but that, and they suggested a continuing divide between Mr. Trump and his advisers about how best to deal with Qatar, which is arguably the nation's most important military outpost in the Middle East.... The mixed messages extended to the Pentagon, which issued a statement shortly before Mr. Trump's news conference, reaffirming Qatar's critical role as a military partner to the United States" -- CW

Julie Davis & Glenn Thrush of the New York Times: "President Trump on Friday accused James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, of lying under oath to Congress in testimony that the president dismissed as a politically motivated proceeding. Mr. Trump also asserted that Mr. Comey's comments on Thursday, in which the former F.B.I. director implied that the president fired him for pressing forward with the Russia investigation, had failed to prove any collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow nor any obstruction of justice." ...

... Really? Andrew Prokop of Vox: "Comey knew weeks ago that there was a possibility that his conversations with Trump were recorded. Why in the world, then, would the former FBI director go give false testimony about them, if he's well aware there could be irrefutable evidence contradicting his claims and exposing him to prosecution? Comey's behavior makes a whole lot more sense if, as he said, he believes any tapes will vindicate him. ('Lordy, I hope there are tapes,' he testified.)" ...

     ... CW: You have to assume that Comey is as mendacious & as stupid as Trump -- while meanwhile devising a somewhat elaborate plot to create a paper trail to support his deception -- to believe he was making up stuff & reciting it under oath. ...

... CW: As Prokop points out here, it isn't clear Trump actually committed to being deposed (not that it matters, because none of his commitments matters). Jonathan Karl asked, "... he [Comey] said those things under oath, would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of those events?" You and I understand the question, but does Trump? Bearing in mind that he's (1) a confused, elderly man, & (2) a professional manipulative liar, read Trump's answer:

100 percent. I didn't say 'under oath,' I hardly know the man, I'm not gonna say 'I want you to pledge allegiance,' who would do that, who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I mean think of it, I hardly know the man, it doesn't make sense. No I didn't say that and I didn't say the other.

... David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "When asked if he had covertly recorded his conversations with Comey, as Trump had suggested in a tweet shortly after firing Comey last month, the president was coy. 'I'll tell you about that maybe sometime soon,' he said. After reporters pressed again, Trump said he would disclose that 'in a very short period of time. You're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer.'" -- CW ...

     ... CW: I listened to the "press conference"/reality show pilot. It was one embarrassing Fuckface von Clownstick performance. Trump can scarcely ad-lib in complete sentences, & he evidently thinks the whole Russia investigation is both funny & a Democratic plot. Here's the part that follows the prepared remarks:

... Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Leaders of the House Intelligence Committee are asking the White House to produce any tapes that might exist of ... Donald Trump's conversations with ousted FBI director James Comey. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lawmakers leading the investigation, asked White House counsel Don McGahn on Friday to confirm whether any tapes exist, and if so, to produce them for the committee by June 23. Their request comes less than two hours after ... Donald Trump, in a Rose Garden news conference, refused to answer questions about whether such tapes exist." -- CW ...

... Tom LoBianco of CNN: "House and Senate investigators fired off a series of requests after former FBI Director James Comey's testimony, seeking memos of his private discussions with ... Donald Trump and any records the White House kept of their discussion -- including audio recordings.... The Senate judiciary committee ... sent a request to Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman for Comey's memos. Richman confirmed Thursday that he was the friend Comey testified who had discussed the memos with the press." -- CW ...

... Joe Johns & Dan Merica of CNN: "... Donald Trump's outside attorney plans to file a complaint against former FBI Director James Comey with the Justice Department Inspector General and the Senate judiciary committee, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN.... The complaint will focus on Comey's testimony that he gave a friend the content of memos about his conversations with Trump and asked the friend to then give that information to a reporter.... The Justice Department, however, has limited jurisdiction over former employees. They can investigate but the remedy in the event of finding wrongdoing would be to make a note in Comey's file should he ever seek to be employed by the DOJ again."-- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

Trying to get DOJ to go after Comey --a material witness-- over 'leak' is yet more obstruction of Justice. -- Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) June 9, 2017 ...

... ** Trump Attorney BumblefucksTM Diane His Way into New Obstruction Incident. Philip Bump of the Washington Post: Stephen Kohn, partner at a law firm focused on whistleblower protection, said of Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz's threat, "'First of all, I don't believe the inspector general would have jurisdiction over Comey any more, because he's no longer a federal employee.' The inspector general's job is to investigate wrongdoing by employees of the Justice Department, of which Comey is no longer, thanks to Trump. 'But, second,' he continued, 'initiating an investigation because you don't like somebody's testimony could be considered obstruction. And in the whistleblower context, it's both evidence of retaliation and, under some laws, could be an adverse retaliatory act itself.'... 'Obviously you can report on a conversation with the president,' he said. 'What the president does isn't confidential or classified.'... Comey gave nonclassified notes about a conversation he had with the president to a friend with the express purpose of releasing that information to the media. In Kohn's eyes, there's nothing remotely illegal about that -- making the new 'frivolous grandstanding' from Kasowitz particularly problematic." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "... Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, noted that this destination [-- the DOJ's inspector general --] for their complaint 'tells me they couldn't come up with a legal basis to file a lawsuit [against Comey].'" -- CW ...

... Eric Levitz of New York dissects Kasowitz's argument. CW: Levitz makes a mistake, I think, in accepting Kasowitz's argument that Comey gave his memoes to friend Daniel Richman before Trump tweeted his tapes threat. Levitz & Kasowitz both cite a May 11 NYT story that describes "My Dinner with Donald." But NYT reporter Michael Schmidt wrote that he had two sources: "Mr. Comey described details of his refusal to pledge his loyalty to Mr. Trump to several people close to him on the condition that they not discuss it publicly while he was F.B.I. director. But now that Mr. Comey has been fired, they felt free to discuss it on the condition of anonymity." Moreover, Schmidt repeatedly describes his sources as Comey's "associates," suggesting to me they were professional associates; i.e., people within the FBI. It's a stretch to call Richman, who is a professor at Columbia Law, an "associate." ...

... ** How Do You Say "Consigliere" in Russian? Shawn Boburg of the Washington Post: "The hard-charging New York lawyer President Trump chose to represent him in the Russia investigation has prominent clients with ties to the Kremlin, a striking pick for a president trying to escape the persistent cloud that has trailed his administration. Marc E. Kasowitz's clients include Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who is close to President Vladimir Putin and has done business with Trump's former campaign manager. Kasowitz also represents Sberbank, Russia's largest state-owned bank, U.S. court records show." Read on. -- CW ...

... Dan Merica & Eugene Scott of CNN: "Friday's message on Twitter was the President, in effect, accusing Comey of perjury because the former FBI director was under oath during the Senate intelligence committee hearing." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Carrie Johnson of NPR: "The Trump White House had been considering Robert Mueller as a top candidate to lead the FBI before the deputy U.S. attorney general changed course and tapped Mueller to serve as special counsel investigating Russian interference in last year's election, two sources familiar with the process told NPR. Mueller had gone so far as to meet with Justice Department leaders and White House officials about the FBI job, which opened after President Trump fired Director James Comey on May 9. But that idea went by the wayside after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein instead reached out to Mueller to run the politically sensitive Russia probe...." CW: This makes it a little harder for Trump to disparage Mueller as a political hack & "loser" should Mueller's investigation find fault with Trump & Co.

Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "White House social-media director Dan Scavino Jr. violated a federal law that bars public officials from using their positions for political activity when he urged President Trump's supporters to defeat a GOP congressman, the Office of Special Counsel has concluded. As a result, Scavino was issued a warning letter and advised that additional violations of the law could result in further action, according to a June 5 letter that the office sent to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which filed a complaint about Scavino's tweet." -- CW

Deporting the "Good Ones." Mica Rosenberg & Reade Levinson of Reuters: "The Trump administration has moved to reopen the cases of hundreds of illegal immigrants who ... who had formed deep ties in the United States and whom the government considered no threat to public safety ... [so] had been given a reprieve from deportation, according to government data and court documents reviewed by Reuters and interviews with immigration lawyers.... The Trump administration has sharply increased the number of cases it is asking the courts to reopen, and its targets appear to include at least some people who have not committed any crimes since their cases were closed." -- CW

Dan Alexander of Forbes: "The New York attorney general, which has been investigating the Donald J. Trump Foundation for months, is now looking into the Eric Trump Foundation, after a report in Forbes exposed practices that seem to violate state laws." -- CW

Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "A federal prosecutor said on Thursday that Reality Leigh Winner, the National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking a highly classified report, might have stolen or exposed other secrets before her arrest last week.... Jennifer G. Solari, an assistant United States attorney..., said the authorities were concerned because Ms. Winner referred to 'documents' during a [recorded jailhouse] telephone call with her mother.... Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps of United States District Court cited the 'strong' weight of evidence against Ms. Winner -- including a recorded confession to the F.B.I. -- and other factors when he ordered her held without bond until her trial." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.)

Jonathan Chait: Republicans have spent eight years insisting that they could produce a better health-care-reform plan if they had the chance. They have come to realize that this promise was false. The only thing they can do is rip away the benefits Obamacare has given millions of Americans. Their sole objective now is to do so with the minimum level of transparency or accountability.... They have no confidence the public will like what the law does when they see it. Instead they believe the opposite, which they have confessed with shocking bluntness. 'I don't think this gets better over time,' said Republican Missouri senator Roy Blunt, a member of leadership. 'This is not like fine wine, it doesn't get better with age,' admits Lindsey Graham." -- CW ...

... The Disunited States of America, Ctd. Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "On Saturday, Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, a Republican, signed a measure requiring insurers to cover 12 months of birth control at a time, with no co-payment. Nevada is not the only state where birth control is suddenly on the legislative agenda. With the future of the Affordable Care Act -- former President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation -- in doubt and the Trump administration planning to roll back the act's mandate that employers cover contraceptives, the battle over birth control is shifting to the states. Currently, 28 states have some type of 'contraceptive equity' law, aimed at making birth control cheaper and more accessible. Many of those measures -- including one in Nevada -- were adopted in the late 1990s. The issue has gained urgency with Mr. Trump's election." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.)

Renae Merle of the Washington Post: "The Republican-led House on Thursday voted to free Wall Street from many of the constraints put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, the opening salvo in what is likely to be a protracted battle over deregulation of the powerful banking industry. Big banks, from Goldman Sachs to Bank of America, would face less scrutiny, and other large financial institutions, such as insurance giant MetLife, could escape tougher rules altogether under the legislation approved largely along party lines." Thanks to Patrick for the link. -- CW (Also linked yesterday.)

Wherein McCain, Graham & Romney pretend they are so naive that they have no idea that Trump is a Russian collaborator -- rather, Trump's cozying up to Russian operatives & oligarchs is just bad optics or something. CW: I don't think a video of Kislyak's handing Trump a brown paper bag stuffed with cash would have any effect on Republicans. Not even if Trump is heard saying at the hand-off, "It's a deal, Sergey. Tell Vlad sanctions gone."

Matt Volz of the AP: "U.S. Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte of Montana will plead guilty to assaulting a reporter the day before being elected the state's only congressman last month, a prosecutor said Friday. The Republican technology entrepreneur will enter his plea in court on Monday, when he is scheduled to be arraigned and sentenced on the misdemeanor charge, Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert told The Associated Press. Gianforte requested the court hearing after reaching a civil settlement this week." -- CW

Elena Schneider of Politico: "Democrat Jon Ossoff -- buoyed by a record $24 million in fundraising -- has notched his best poll result of Georgia's special House election with less than two weeks to go in the contest, with an Atlanta Journal Constitution survey released Friday showing Ossoff with a 7-point lead over Republican Karen Handel. The survey found Ossoff with 51 percent of the vote to Handel's 44 percent. It is the second time that a public poll has shown Ossoff with a 7-point lead over Handel, who are competing to replace HHS Secretary Tom Price in a June 20 special election for his old district in the Atlanta suburbs." CW: I hope Ossoff is spending a lot of that haul on a sophisticated GOTV effort. (Also linked yesterday.)

Beyond the Beltway

Florida, the Sunshine Shoot-First State. John Bowden of the Hill: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has signed into law a strengthened version of the famous [CW: make that "infamous"] 'stand your ground' law that was cited in the jury instructions in the 2012 trial for the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin that eventually acquitted neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. The previous version of Florida's law, signed in 2005, required defendants to prove that they had used force in self defense. The version signed into law Friday shifts that burden to prosecutors, who now must prove that a 'stand your ground' defense is not applicable, according to Reuters." ...

     ... CW: In other words, prosecutors have to prove a negative: if the defendant says, "I felt threatened," prosecutors have to disprove what the defendant's "feelings" were. After Zimmerman's acquittal, I never felt safe in Florida, so it's fair to say I always felt threatened in public places where there might be a redneck.

Way Beyond

Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "The pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May to step aside following a humiliating election result grew Saturday, with her two top aides resigning, a leading newspaper pronouncing her 'fatally wounded' and a former minister acknowledging that Tories were plotting possible replacements via the messaging service WhatsApp. In an indication of the rising pressure, May's two top aides resigned early Saturday afternoon. Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, May;s co-chiefs of staff, had been widely blamed within the prime minister's Conservative Party for the lackluster campaign that ended with the Tories losing their majority in Parliament." -- CW ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging fallout from the British elections earlier this week. Recriminations everywhere. -- CW

News Lede

Washington Post: "Adam West, the actor who portrayed the superhero Batman on television in the 1960s, and who seemed trapped in the character's cape and tights for the rest of his career, died June 9 in Los Angeles. He was 88."

Thursday
Jun082017

The Commentariat -- June 9, 2017

Late Morning Update:

Joe Johns & Dan Merica of CNN: "... Donald Trump's outside attorney plans to file a complaint against former FBI Director James Comey with the Justice Department Inspector General and the Senate judiciary committee, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN.... The complaint will focus on Comey's testimony that he gave a friend the content of memos about his conversations with Trump and asked the friend to then give that information to a reporter.... The Justice Department, however, has limited jurisdiction over former employees. They can investigate but the remedy in the event of finding wrongdoing would be to make a note in Comey's file should he ever seek to be employed by the DOJ again."-- CW ...

Trying to get DOJ to go after Comey --a material witness-- over 'leak' is yet more obstruction of Justice. -- Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) June 9, 2017 ...

... ** Trump Attorney BumblefucksTM Diane His Way into New Obstruction Incident. Philip Bump of the Washington Post: Stephen Kohn, partner at a law firm focused on whistleblower protection, said of Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz's threat, "'First of all, I don't believe the inspector general would have jurisdiction over Comey any more, because he's no longer a federal employee.' The inspector general's job is to investigate wrongdoing by employees of the Justice Department, of which Comey is no longer, thanks to Trump. 'But, second,' he continued, 'initiating an investigation because you don't like somebody's testimony could be considered obstruction. And in the whistleblower context, it's both evidence of retaliation and, under some laws, could be an adverse retaliatory act itself.'... 'Obviously you can report on a conversation with the president,' he said. 'What the president does isn't confidential or classified.'... Comey gave nonclassified notes about a conversation he had with the president to a friend with the express purpose of releasing that information to the media. In Kohn's eyes, there's nothing remotely illegal about that -- making the new 'frivolous grandstanding' from Kasowitz particularly problematic." -- CW ...

... Dan Merica & Eugene Scott of CNN: "Friday's message on Twitter was the President, in effect, accusing Comey of perjury because the former FBI director was under oath during the Senate intelligence committee hearing." -- CW

Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "A federal prosecutor said on Thursday that Reality Leigh Winner, the National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking a highly classified report, might have stolen or exposed other secrets before her arrest last week.... Jennifer G. Solari, an assistant United States attorney..., said the authorities were concerned because Ms. Winner referred to 'documents' during a [recorded jailhouse] telephone call with her mother.... Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps of United States District Court cited the 'strong' weight of evidence against Ms. Winner -- including a recorded confession to the F.B.I. -- and other factors when he ordered her held without bond until her trial." -- CW

The Disunited States of America, Ctd. Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "On Saturday, Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, a Republican, signed a measure requiring insurers to cover 12 months of birth control at a time, with no co-payment. Nevada is not the only state where birth control is suddenly on the legislative agenda. With the future of the Affordable Care Act -- former President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation -- in doubt and the Trump administration planning to roll back the act's mandate that employers cover contraceptives, the battle over birth control is shifting to the states. Currently, 28 states have some type of 'contraceptive equity' law, aimed at making birth control cheaper and more accessible. Many of those measures -- including one in Nevada -- were adopted in the late 1990s. The issue has gained urgency with Mr. Trump's election." -- CW

Renae Merle of the Washington Post: "The Republican-led House on Thursday voted to free Wall Street from many of the constraints put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, the opening salvo in what is likely to be a protracted battle over deregulation of the powerful banking industry. Big banks, from Goldman Sachs to Bank of America, would face less scrutiny, and other large financial institutions, such as insurance giant MetLife, could escape tougher rules altogether under the legislation approved largely along party lines." Thanks to Patrick for the link. -- CW

Elena Schneider of Politico: "Democrat Jon Ossoff -- buoyed by a record $24 million in fundraising -- has notched his best poll result of Georgia's special House election with less than two weeks to go in the contest, with an Atlanta Journal Constitution survey released Friday showing Ossoff with a 7-point lead over Republican Karen Handel. The survey found Ossoff with 51 percent of the vote to Handel's 44 percent. It is the second time that a public poll has shown Ossoff with a 7-point lead over Handel, who are competing to replace HHS Secretary Tom Price in a June 20 special election for his old district in the Atlanta suburbs." CW: I hope Ossoff is spending a lot of that haul on a sophisticated GOTV effort.

*****

See news of British election results under the heading Way Beyond.

Louis Nelson of Politico: "... Donald Trump broke his silence Friday morning in response to former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before Congress.... 'Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication ... and WOW, Comey is a leaker!' Trump wrote on Twitter just after 6 a.m. Friday morning."

     ... CW: Yo, Mr. SCROTUS. Didn't you "leak" your fake version of the meetings first? ...

I can definitively say the president is not a liar. -- White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, in response to Jim Comey's testimony

I am not a crook. -- Richard Nixon, November 17, 1973

... Matt Apuzzo & Emmarie Huetteman of the New York Times: "James B. Comey, the recently fired F.B.I. director, said Thursday in an extraordinary Senate hearing that he believed President Trump had tried to derail an investigation into his national security adviser, and accused the president of lying and defaming him and the F.B.I. Mr. Comey, no longer constrained by the formalities of a government job, offered a blunt, plain-spoken assessment of a president whose conversations unnerved him from the day they met, weeks before Mr. Trump took office. The James Comey who emerged during the hearing was by turns humble, folksy and matter-of-fact, but at the same time, he proved that underneath was a shrewd politician not afraid to play the Washington game by leaking information on his own." -- CW ...

... Devlin Barrett & Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "... James B. Comey said Thursday he helped reveal details of his private conversations with President Trump because he thought doing so would spur the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the administration -- a remarkable admission showing the degree of concern he had about both Russian interference with U.S. politics and his doubts about the Justice Department's ability to probe such activity." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Politico has the full transcript of the hearing here. -- CW

... The New York Times' reporters' livechat is here.The Washington Post's liveblog of testimony is here. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) CW: We have our own liveblog (in yesterday's thread), thanks to Akhilleus.

... Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: "Here are seven major takeaways from his testimony so far. 1) Comey is pretty sure Trump inappropriately interfered in the investigation -- but Trump didn't ask the FBI to drop it entirely... 2) Comey thinks the president is a liar.... 3) The way Trump handled Comey's firing is what prompted Comey to speak out.... 4) Democrats are pretty sure Comey's firing is the key to what the president did wrong.... 5) Republicans aren't really trying to defend the president.... 6) Republicans are critical of why Comey didn't speak up sooner.... 7) No side comes off well in Comey's telling of events...." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... CW BTW: Months ago, I blamed Bill Clinton for Hillary's loss based on reports that Lynch let Comey unleash his October Surprise because of the tarmac visit Bill initiated with Lynch. Now, today, based on Comey's testimony, that tarmac visit was the straw that broke the camel's back in Comey's deliberations about whether or not to tell Congress about the newly-discovered Abedin-Weiner e-mail cache. There's an argument to be made that Bill's intentions were innocent, but I thought before & I think now that he, whether he realized it or not, did not want his wife to become president. ...

Yes, yes. It rings in my ears as kind of 'Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?' -- James Comey, Senate hearing -- citing the 1964 film "Becket"'s version of Henry II's complaint to his knights -- on why he took President Trump's "hope" as a directive

... Sarah Lipton in a New York Times op-ed: "Mr. Comey's point was that a desire expressed by a powerful leader is tantamount to an order. King Henry's contemporaries likewise assumed that a ruler's wish constituted a command: Although he denied any intention of inciting murder, Henry was widely held responsible for Becket's death.... Henry's actual exclamation -- or at least the cry attributed to him in the medieval sources -- was 'What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured and promoted in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a lowborn clerk!' No wonder the four knights were so eager to take the hint. Henry's courtiers may well have feared that if they didn't make a conspicuous display of loyalty, the king might turn on them next. Treachery was a capital offense." -- CW ...

... CW: If you missed the end of the hearing, Akhilleus understates McCain's mental impairment. The old man didn't seem to understand the different between "the e-mails" and "the Russians." It was an embarrassing couple of minutes. Too bad so many politicians don't know when it's time to retire. ...

... Daniel Victor of the New York Times: "Senator John McCain became an unexpected focus of befuddlement and concern on Thursday after a line of questioning that appeared to conflate two separate F.B.I. investigations during James Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee." -- CW ...

... Pugilist on the Ropes. Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "'We know how to fight better than anybody, and we never, ever give up -- we are winners -- and we are going to fight,' Mr. Trump told a conference of conservative evangelicals after he left the West Wing for a brief public appearance, just as Mr. Comey was wrapping up his nearly three hours of testimony. Mr. Trump's default defiance masked a deep anxiety and anger, described by people close to him in recent days, that are anything but typical for even the most disruptive of presidents. But that eventually gave way to a sense of relief, however temporary, as Mr. Comey confirmed the president's insistence that Mr. Comey had repeatedly told him that he was not personally under investigation in the inquiry into Russian election interference." -- CW ...

... Catherine Garcia of the Week: "In a statement released Thursday evening, the Department of Justice refuted part of ... James's Comey's testimony regarding Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia.... Because of Sessions' participation in President Trump's campaign 'and that reason alone,' Sessions announced on March 2 he was recusing himself. During his testimony, Comey said he was unaware of any memo sent to the FBI from the Justice Department or Attorney General about the recusal, but [DOJ spokesman Ian] Prior claims Sessions' chief of staff sent Comey an email about the recusal and its parameters and asked that he not brief Sessions on anything having to do with the investigation." -- CW ...

... Manu Raju, et al., of CNN: "Former FBI Director James Comey told senators in a closed hearing this afternoon that Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have had a third interaction with Russia's ambassador to the US, according to people familiar with the briefing. Comey explained that the possibility there could have been another encounter was not something he wanted to discuss in the earlier public hearing, according to a source familiar with the briefing. The information is based in part on Russian-to-Russian intercepts where the meeting was discussed, three sources familiar with the information tell CNN. But the sources said it is possible the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, was exaggerating the extent of the encounter.... The Justice Department reiterated on Thursday no such meeting took place." -- CW ...

     ... CW: See PD Pepe's commentary below on JeffBo. ...

... Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly: "Trump's personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, provided a brief six minute response to the Comey hearing ... and refused to take questions." LeTourneau tears apart Kasowitz's "defense." "If this is the best Trump's lawyers can do, he is in really big trouble." -- CW ...

... Rachel Bade of Politico: "The Republican Steering Committee on Thursday backed Rep. Trey Gowdy to become the next chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The move -- if confirmed by the full Republican Conference -- would put the South Carolina Republican at the helm of a contentious probe into ... Donald Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey." -- CW ...

... Washington Post Editors: "... James B. Comey, testifying under oath Thursday to the Senate Intelligence Committee, painted a picture of a president grossly abusing his executive authority.... Disappointingly, Republican senators at the hearing for the most part tried to play the part of Trump defense lawyers, challenging or playing down Mr. Comey's testimony. Their efforts for the most part boomeranged." -- CW ...

... Peter Baker of the New York Times: "... thanks to Mr. Trump's own actions, the cloud darkened considerably on Thursday and now seems likely to hover over his presidency for months, if not years, to come. Rather than relieve the pressure, Mr. Trump's decision to fire Mr. Comey has generated an even bigger political and legal threat. In his anger at Mr. Comey for refusing to publicly disclose that the president was not personally under investigation, legal experts said, Mr. Trump may have actually made himself the target of an investigation. While delivered in calm, deliberate and unemotional terms, Mr. Comey's testimony on Thursday was almost certainly the most damning j'accuse moment by a senior law enforcement official against a president in a generation." -- CW ...

... CW: In my view, one of the most damning pieces of evidence that Trump's firing of Comey was an intentional effort to obstruct justice did not come up in yesterday's hearing, even as Comey cited Trump's own remarks as proof that Trump fired him to change the direction of the Russia investigation. More on point is a May 19 New York Times report:

President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved 'great pressure' on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting. 'I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,' Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. 'I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off.'

     ... I don't know that Mueller, the FBI, or Congressional investigators can verify the Times report, but if any can do so, it appears to me that obstruction of justice charges are a slam-dunk. Trump was assuring Putin's goons that he had taken care of "that thing." When it comes down to it, the Russia scandal is a mob story in which Trump play a bumbling goombah. ...

... Paul Krugman: "... can we now admit that [Trump] really is as bad as -- or worse than -- his harshest critics predicted he would be?... Think, for a minute, of just how much damage this man has done on multiple fronts in just five months.... Trump is neither up to the job of being president nor willing to step aside and let others do the work right.... The worst, almost surely, is yet to come." -- CW ...

... ** Tim Egan: "... we need to step away from the quick hits of the news cycle and dwell on the big picture. Trump took an oath to defend the United States. The nation is under assault by Russian hackers, growing more sophisticated by the day. And the president won't even acknowledge the threat." -- CW ...

     ... CW: To that point, I found this exchange to be one of the highlights of Comey's testimony:

Sen. Martin HEINRICH: [D-N.M.] Did the president in any of those interactions that you've shared with us today ask you what you should be doing or what our government should be doing or the intelligence community to protect America against Russian interference in our election system?

COMEY: I don't recall a conversation like that.

HEINRICH: Never?

COMEY: No.... Not with President Trump. I attended a fair number of meetings on that with President Obama.

... Paul Campos in LG&$: "Even the Liberal Alan Dershowitz is spouting a bunch of nonsense about how, since the POTUS has the legal authority to fire the director of the FBI, exercising that authority can't be obstruction of justice by definition. This makes about as much sense as arguing that since the president has the legal authority to command the armed forces, ordering the army to kill his political opponents can't be murder." -- CW ...

     ... Dershowitz's Fox "News" opinion piece is here. CW: I don't know why Campos calls Dershowitz "liberal." He's been a hack for hire at least since he defended O.J. Simpson, & he has repeatedly made arguments against Democrats.

... Return of the Golden Rain. Noah Feldman of Bloomberg: "Hiding in plain sight in former FBI Director James Comey's testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee is a potentially major new avenue for special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia-related crimes: the possibility that ... Donald Trump committed a federal crime by lying to Comey about his connections to Russia and activities on his 2013 visit there.... According to Comey, Trump told him on March 30 that Trump said 'he had nothing to do with Russia' and 'had not been involved with hookers in Russia.'... Trump's denial, as reported by Comey, will also enable Mueller to do what the Federal Bureau of Investigation apparently has not done: investigate the questionable dossier claims that Trump was compromised by Russian intelligence on the basis of sexual escapades in Moscow.... If Trump was lying about having nothing to do with Russia -- or if he was lying about the charge that Russian intelligence had gathered compromising material about him because of a dalliance with Russian prostitute -- that would constitute a federal crime." -- CW ...

Juliegrace Brufke of the Daily Caller: "The White House is demanding Republican House members appear on cable news networks to defend ... Donald Trump following former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligent Committee Thursday.... A source close to the administration told The Daily Caller News Foundation the White House is demanding members appear on Fox, MSNBC and CNN, adding the president is 'obsessing and watching every channel.'" CW: This is a single-sourced story in the Daily Caller, so take it for what it's worth, which isn't much. ...

The president's new at this. He's new to government, and so he probably wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between [the Justice Department], FBI and White House. He's just new to this.... I'm not saying it's an acceptable excuse. -- Paul Ryan, in a briefing held during James Comey's testimony

... The GOP Defense: Trump Is an Ignorant Rookie. Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Before Comey's testimony about his private interactions with President Trump had even concluded, [Paul] Ryan joined an effort already underway among GOP lawmakers to place it in the best possible light for Trump.... he was one of many GOP lawmakers willing to minimize Trump's alleged meddling and demands for loyalty as the fumblings of a political tyro -- or the behavior of a real estate mogul accustomed to having his orders followed.... While playing up Trump's naivete is currently one strain of his political defense, legal analysts said it could also be a kernel of a criminal defense.... Some analysts said the defense could ring hollow -- particularly given that, according to Comey, Trump isolated him, ordering every­one else out of the Oval Office before making the request about dropping the Michael Flynn investigation." -- CW ...

You do not need to understand the obstruction of justice statute to violate it. You still violated the law. -- Peter Zeidenberg, special prosecutor on Valerie Plame Wilson case ...

... Brian Beutler: "Ryan wants us to imagine Trump sitting alone in the White House with only his intellect and his muscle memory as his guides. He asks us implicitly to forget that Trump has a White House counsel, a vice president with years of governing experience, and an attorney general who campaigned with him for a year, all at his behest to instruct him. He asks us, again implicitly, to forget that Trump pierced the veil meant to separate the White House and FBI, to corrupt the rule of law, and that he then fired FBI Director James Comey, lied about why, and confessed -- to NBC's Lester Holt, and to senior Russian officials in the Oval Office -- that he did it to remove 'the cloud' of Comey's investigation of his campaign." -- CW ...

... Michael Schmidt, et al., of the New York Times examine a Times article published in February which James Comey disputed during testimony. "The article was the first to reveal direct contacts between Trump advisers and Russian officials -- contacts that are now at the heart of F.B.I. and congressional investigations. Multiple news outlets have since published accounts that support the main elements of The Times's article." -- CW ...

... Hadas Gold of Politico: "According to many right-wing outlets, Comey not only cleared Trump by confirming that he was not personally under investigation, he also helped stir up old drama around the FBI probe into Hillary Clinton's emails and admitted he orchestrated leaks to the media after his firing. Much of the rest of the media, however, focused on Comey saying he took Trump's statement that he 'hopes' the FBI would drop the investigation into Michael Flynn as a directive, that Trump 'lied' and 'defamed' Comey and the FBI, and that Comey took detailed notes about his meetings with Trump because he was concerned that Trump would later lie about them." CW: If you're wondering why your confederate acquaintances are so confused, it isn't necessary because they're stupid. It's because they're hearing or reading an entirely different set of "facts" from what we read in the MSM. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


Julia Ainsley
of Reuters: "Aides to ... Donald Trump are urging him not to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions despite rifts between the two men, sources familiar with internal White House conversations said on Wednesday.... Political and legal advisers inside the White House have told Trump over the past month that firing Sessions would create another political fire storm and make it more difficult to fill key jobs inside his administration, the sources said.... 'That's the advice he's been given. But he might not listen to that advice,' one of the sources said." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Worse than Brownback. Bryan Lowry of the Kansas City Star: "Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach launched his campaign for Kansas governor on Thursday, decrying a culture of corruption in Topeka and vowing to crack down on illegal immigration in a speech with echoes of ... Donald Trump. Kobach, the architect of controversial election and immigration laws, advised Trump on immigration policy throughout the 2016 election. He emphasized his connections to the president and promised to center his campaign on fighting 'corruption, taxation and illegal immigration' during a speech...." CW: This would be a good time for Kansas Democrats to seek out a fabulous candidate. If Kansans choose Kobach over fabulous, well....

Way Beyond

** Steven Erlanger & Stephen Castle of the New York Times: "Following a tumultuous, unpredictable snap election, Prime Minister Theresa May, a Conservative, appeared on the verge of losing her parliamentary majority, according to a national exit poll released just after voting ended on Thursday night. If confirmed by the vote count, the result would be a major setback for Mrs. May. She called this election three years early, expecting to cruise to a smashing victory that would win her a mandate to see Britain through the long and difficult negotiations with the European Union about withdrawing from the bloc. According to the exit poll, Mrs. May may have lost the extraordinary gamble she made in calling the election -- and Britain may be headed for a hung Parliament, in which no party has a majority." -- CW ...

     ... ** New Lede: "Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain suffered a major setback in a tumultuous election on Thursday, losing her overall majority in Parliament and throwing her government into uncertainty less than two weeks before it is scheduled to begin negotiations over withdrawing from the European Union." -- CW

... The Guardian's current liveblog is here. The Guardian's liveblog for last night is here. -- CW ...

     ... Rajeev Syal @ 5:19 ET on today's liveblog: "Theresa May has struck a deal with the Democratic Unionists that will allow her to form a government, sources have confirmed. The prime minister is expected to see the Queen at 1230pm [GMT] to confirm that a deal is in place. It follows extensive talks with the DUP late into the night. Party figures say they have been driven on this morning by their dismay at the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister."

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