The Wires

Public Service Announcement

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

Vanity Fair: "... Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times chief book reviewer and Pulitzer Prize winner, who has been, by a wide margin, the most powerful book critic in the English-speaking world, is stepping down.... Kakutani said that she could neither confirm nor comment. But sources familiar with her decision, which comes a year after the Times restructured its books coverage, told me that last year’s election had triggered a desire to branch out and write more essays about culture and politics in Trump’s America." -- CW 

... Washington Post: "... investigators believe they have discovered the 'smoking gun' that would support a decades-old theory that [Amelia] Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were captured by the Japanese: a newly unearthed photograph from the National Archives that purportedly shows Earhart and Noonan — and their plane — on an atoll in the Marshall Islands.... Gary Tarpinian,  executive producer of the History documentary, told the Today show that they believe the Koshu, the Japanese merchant ship in the photo, took Earhart to Saipan, where she died in Japanese custody." -- CW 

Summer Beach Reading. James Hohmann of the Washington Post suggests Al Franken's Giant of the Senate. Hohmann's column hits some of the highlights. CW: Let us be thankful that Donald Trump is incapable of learning the lessons Franken learned from his team. If Trump were half as bright as Franken, he would be a succesful president & very effective dictator.

Politico: "MSNBC has parted ways with anchor Greta Van Susteren after just six months on air, as her show failed to live up to the network's ratings expectations. An MSNBC executive said the decision to remove the former Fox News host was purely for business reasons, based on ratings." -- 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 

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Wednesday
May172017

The Commentariat -- May 18, 2017

Afternoon Update:

Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "A day after Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein appointed a special counsel to investigate possible coordination between President Trump's associates and Russian officials, he is heading to the Senate Thursday afternoon to answer questions in a closed session with all 100 senators." -- CW ...

... Lawyer Up, Trump. Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Several White House advisers and personal associates of President Trump have urged him to hire an experienced outside lawyer to help him deal with issues arising from a surging controversy over whether his campaign had ties to Russia, according to several people briefed on the conversations. The recommendations came even before a special counsel was named on Wednesday to lead the investigation into any collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian officials. Mr. Trump's aides and allies were said to be especially concerned by the revelation that James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director fired by Mr. Trump,has contemporaneous, detailed memos reconstructing conversations with the president." -- CW ...

... Greg Sargent: "... despite Trump's suggestion that he is being victimized by a witch hunt, and that a more adept PR strategy could minimize the damage, this is a situation entirely of Trump's own making. And each of Trump's actions leading up to this moment are rooted deep in Trump's autocratic and authoritarian impulses; his total contempt for basic institutional processes; and his tendency, when his sense of grievance strikes, to slip into a delusional belief that he can overwhelm the institutional independence of his persecutors the way he might steamroll someone in a business deal.... There are no indications that Trump even understands this." -- CW

... Ashley Parker & Abby Phillip of the Washington Post: "As Donald Trump has grown increasingly angry and frustrated with his White House staff, the beleaguered targets of his ire have a quietly roiling gripe of their own -- their boss, the president himself. Since he fired FBI Director James B. Comey, Trump has lurched through crises of his own making.... Trump largely thinks that his recent mishaps are not substantive but simply errors of branding and public relations, according to people close to him and the White House.... The president's siege mentality was on display Wednesday when he delivered commencement remarks at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.... In his wake remain his exhausted aides and deputies, the frequent targets of Trump's wrath as they struggle to control an uncontrollable chief executive and labor to explain away his stumbles.... Some White House staffers have turned to impeachment gallows humor. Other mid-level aides have started ... shopping their résumés.... One West Wing official recently stopped defending Trump or trying to explain away his more controversial behavior." CW: Boo-fucking-hoo.

*****

Marc Fisher of the Washington Post: "Roger Ailes, who mastered the art of selling political candidates like Hollywood celebrities and was the architect of conservative-oriented TV news, died May 18 at 77. He was the longtime chairman and chief executive of the Fox News Channel, building it over two decades into an politically influential juggernaut until his abrupt ouster last year amid sexual harassment allegations." -- CW

Louis Nelson of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Thursday blasted the appointment of Robert Mueller to be the special prosecutor overseeing the investigation into Russia's meddling into the 2016 election, calling the probe on twitter 'the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.' He also accused former President Barack Obama's administration and the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton of committing 'illegal acts,' complaining that his campaign will now face the scrutiny of a special prosecutor while neither his predecessor nor 2016 opponent never have. 'With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel [sic] appointed!' the president wrote on Twitter Thursday morning, without elaborating further on the illegal acts he accused the Clinton campaign and Obama administration of committing.... 'As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know -- there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,' [a] Wednesday-night statement from the White House, credited to Trump, said. 'I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.'" Thanks to Marvin S. for the lead. ...

     ... CW: Gee, it hardly seems possible that the guy who personally wrote out the anodyne statement Wednesday evening is the same guy who "blasted" the Mueller appointment a few hours later. Here, Trevor Noah of the "Daily Show" does a fine job of pre-documenting where Trump got his idea that Obama & Hillary Clinton got off scott-free while the Most Persecuted President in American History is to be further persecuted. Hint: Fox "News" personalities. I wonder if Trump will fire Rosenstein since firing Mueller would be political suicide. ...

... Sarah Burris of RawStory: "President Donald Trump's measured response to the special prosecutor lasted approximately 10 hours before a Twitter meltdown ensued. But according to a New York Times report, that may have been encouraged by his son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.... Most of the staffers counseled Trump to respond in a level headed way 'with a conciliatory stance.' Kushner wanted to see Trump go another route and launch a counterattack. Kushner was also the aide responsible for urging Trump to fire former FBI director James Comey." --safari: So eitherBannon is trying to filet Jared through the press, or Jared is shitting his pants as the FBI starts snooping in Trump's financial closet...

... Josh Marshall of TPM: "The very latest reports out this morning have it that Jared Kushner was a major voice pushing to fire James Comey. And the President is 'angry' over the backlash to his decision. A shadow of uncertainty must hang over every report like this. We're hearing these details through interested parties, a yacht basin Lord of the Flies, with different faction leaders gouging each others' eyes out as the executive branch descends into chaos.... But assuming it is true and -- more importantly -- because we have numerous other confirmed reports of similar behavior, we should draw the obvious conclusion: Kushner himself is a bad actor, performing the same abuses of power by proxy. My only uncertainty is whether Kushner is committing these bad acts to cover up his own wrongdoing along with his father-in-law's or whether it is only his father-in-law's. In practice, I suspect that both on the political and business front, they are so intertwined as to be indistringuishable." --safari ...

... Rebecca Ruiz of the New York Times: "The Justice Department has appointed Robert S. Mueller III, the former F.B.I. director, to serve as a special counsel to oversee its investigation into Russian meddling in the election, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced on Wednesday. The appointment of Mr. Mueller dramatically raises the stakes for President Trump in the multiple investigations into his campaign's ties to the Russians.... Members of both parties view Mr. Mueller as one of the most credible law enforcement officials in the country.... The appointment is certain to soothe nerves at the F.B.I...." -- CW ...

...Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Robert Muellercould face one significant issue with his appointment as special counsel to lead the Justice Department's investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump's presidential campaign: The law firm he's worked at since 2014 has represented several prominent players in Trump's bid for the White House. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump's daughter Ivankaand his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are all clients of WilmerHale, the firm Mueller is leaving to assume the position of special prosecutor overseeing the high-profile Russia election probe.... WilmerHale co-managing director Robert Novick said he could not comment on the government ethics rules, but he said Mueller didn't play any part in the firm's work for Manafort, Ivanka Trump or Kushner." --safari...

... Herman Wong & Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "Even as Democrats praised the Justice Department's decision to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel, they continued to push for an independent commission. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader, issued a statement that said, 'A special prosecutor is the first step, but it cannot be the last.... [Mueller] cannot take the place of a truly independent, outside commission that is completely free from the Trump Administration's meddling.' Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), while still calling for an independent commission, acknowledged that Mueller's appointment may have 'taken some of the pressure off' Republicans to get on board." -- CW ...

... Josh Marshall: Rod Rosenstein "apparently gave the White House about 30 minutes heads up.... The DOJ contacted the White House and the major news organizations around the same time, made the news organizations agree to an embargo until 6 pm and that brief period from 5 or 5:30 until 6 pm was the White House's heads up. That is about the absolute minimal courtesy Rosenstein could have provided. I still think Rosenstein deserves all the reputational damage he incurred over the last ten days or so. He knew what he was participating in when he involved himself in the Comey firing. What he probably didn't realize was that Trump would essentially blame him for the decision.... There also needs to be an independent commission to investigate what happened in the 2016 election.... The truest and deepest national interest is that the whole story be thoroughly investigated and the full story get a public airing. That is far more important to the health of the Republic and its safety than whether particular individuals spend time in prison." -- CW ...

... Dana Milbank: "With the stroke of a pen, Rod Rosenstein redeemed his reputation, preserved the justice system, pulled American politics back from the brink -- and, just possibly, saved the Republican Party and President Trump from themselves.... Rosenstein's action rescues Ryan, McConnell and other GOP leaders from their own cowardice in refusing to demand more accountability from Trump." -- CW ...

... Pamela Brown of CNN: James Comey "would memorialize the conversations he had with Trump as soon as he got into his car after the meetings, [an] official [close to Comey] said.... Comey also kept memos from his phone conversations with Trump on at least two separate occasions, according to a source. '[The memos are] preserved because he presumes someone will want to see them.'He was concerned that Trump's suggestion to end the Flynn probe could be an example of obstruction of justice. 'It crossed his mind,' a person familiar with the matter said, adding 'even in its most benign form, it's an improper conversation. You're getting a little too close to the flame.' Comey did not share his memos with top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, despite those concerns.... The source says Rosenstein had not viewed the memos as of Tuesday night.... It is not typical for FBI directors to meet alone with the President. Justice leadership takes the lead generally on talking to administrations. When President Barack Obama met with Comey to discuss appointing him as FBI Director, the President made clear the two would not meet one-on-one after that, according to a separate person with knowledge of the matter." -- CW ...

... Matthew Rosenberg & Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times: "Michael T. Flynn told President Trump's transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, according to two people familiar with the case. Despite this warning, which came about a month after the Justice Department notified Mr. Flynn of the inquiry, Mr. Trump made Mr. Flynn his national security adviser. The job gave Mr. Flynn access to the president and nearly every secret held by American intelligence agencies. Mr. Flynn's disclosure, on Jan. 4, was first made to the transition team's chief lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, who is now the White House counsel. That conversation, and another one two days later between Mr. Flynn's lawyer and transition lawyers, shows that the Trump team knew about the investigation of Mr. Flynn far earlier than has been previously reported." -- CW ...

... Vera Bergengruen of McClatchy News: "One of the Trump administration's first decisions about the fight against the Islamic State was made by Michael Flynn weeks before he was fired -- and it conformed to the wishes of Turkey, whose interests, unbeknownst to anyone in Washington,* he'd been paid more than $500,000 to represent. The decision came 10 days before Donald Trump had been sworn in as president, in a conversation with President Barack Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, who had explained the Pentagon's plan to retake the Islamic State's de facto capital of Raqqa with Syrian Kurdish forces.... Obama's national security team had decided to ask for Trump's sign-off, since the plan would all but certainly be executed after Trump had become president. Flynn didn't hesitate. According to timelines distributed by members of Congress in the weeks since, Flynn told Rice to hold off, a move that would delay the military operation for months.... His position was consistent with the wishes of Turkey, which had long opposed the United States partnering with the Kurdish forces -- and which was his undeclared client. Trump eventually would approve the Raqqa plan, but not until weeks after Flynn had been fired. Now members of Congress, musing about the tangle of legal difficulties Flynn faces, cite that exchange with Rice as perhaps the most serious: acting on behalf of a foreign nation -- from which he had received considerable cash -- when making a military decision." ...

     ... CW: Actually, according to the Times report linked above, quite a few people in Washington knew about Flynn's representation of Turkey, including FBI investigators, Trump & top members of his transition team. ...

... Kevin Drum: "The new news here is that Trump knew about the FBI investigation far earlier than anyone has reported before. By the time Sally Yates alerted the White House to Flynn's lying, they had already been warned off Flynn by President Obama and they'd known about the FBI investigation for three weeks. Nonetheless, they did nothing until it all became public." -- CW ...

...**Ned Parker, et al., of Reuters: "Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump's campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters. The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump's campaign and Russia.... Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.... The people who described the contacts to Reuters said they had seen no evidence of wrongdoing or collusion between the campaign and Russia in the communications reviewed so far.... The 18 calls and electronic messages took place between April and November 2016 as hackers engaged in what U.S. intelligence concluded in January was part of a Kremlin campaign to ...discredit the vote and influence the outcome of the election in favor of Trump over ... Hillary Clinton." --safari...

What This Administration Needs Is More Wackadoodles. Tara Palmeri of Politico: "... Donald Trump, frustrated by his aides' handling of the multiple scandals engulfing the White House, is turning to the comfort of his old campaign advisers. Former officials including Jason Miller, David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski have slid back into the president's group of advisers as Trump has chafed at the steady stream of damaging leaks and critical blind quotes that have flowed out of the West Wing.... Many of the loyalists Trump is increasingly turning to were frozen out during the transition when chief of staff Reince Priebus ... brought on a slew of his own staffers." -- CW ...

... Poor, Pitiful Trumpydoodle. David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Trump offered a robust defense of his presidency Wednesday, arguing that he has been treated unfairly by the Washington media amid a series of deepening scandals that have engulfed his administration. In a commencement ceremony at the Coast Guard Academy, Trump said 'no politician in history ... has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can't let them get you down, can't let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.'... The president was clearly eager to defend himself, using the second half of his commencement address to express his frustration in rhetoric just loosely cloaked as 'advice' for the soon-to-be-commissioned officers. 'Over the course of your life, you'll find things are not always fair,' he said. 'Things happen to you that you do not deserve and are not always warranted, but you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight. Never, ever give up. Things will work out just fine.' In an aside, he added: 'I guess that's why we won.'... He received a standing ovation when he finished speaking." See also Akhilleus' commentary below. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Paul Waldman: "So when you face obstacles, you must whine, moan and complain as much as possible. What an inspiring message for these idealistic young people." -- CW ...

... Keeping Us Safe. Gail Collins: "Wow, Donald Trump can't even give a commencement speech to the military without making it all about him.... But the topic of the day at the Coast Guard Academy was protecting America. And since nobody -- particularly Trump -- can talk about anything except Trump, let's look at what the president has done recently to assure our security. Right now we have no head of the F.B.I. Most of the U.S. attorney offices -- the nerve center of America's war on terrorism and corruption -- are without leaders. In March Trump demanded the Obama-era federal prosecutors leave immediately, and he has not nominated a single replacement.... Meanwhile National Security Adviser Mike Flynn turned out to be a mess on many fronts.... His successor, H. R. McMaster, came into the job with a stellar military background and then quickly became an embarrassment. He's just another spokesman trying to cover up the president's messes with carefully worded statements, only to be contradicted by a Trumpian tweet.... Also on the top of the Trump food chain when it comes to protecting our security: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a right-wing former senator whose greatest achievement so far has been to return the federal criminal justice system to a brain-dead policy of imposing long mandatory sentences on people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes." ...

     ... CW: See also Matthew Stevens' report on Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, linked below, and Johathan Chait's post on fascist David Clarke. Also too, Ken Dilanian's report on Clueless R. McMaster. ...

... The Sounds of Silence. Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly: "The one thing that strikes me about what is happening today is the silence. For example, unlike previous episodes where strong> Trump has been challenged by something akin to the Comey memo story, he didn't rage-tweet this morning.... The silence suggests that there is something different about this story. But in the meantime, White House sources are floating stories anonymously.... Here is one that has some teeth: 'A senior WH official tells @PeterAlexander that POTUS wasn't telling Comey to end Flynn investigation and suggest this is the way he speaks -- Marianna Sotomayor (@MariannaNBCNews) May 17, 2017.... A senior WH official just affirmed that the Comey memo is accurate by saying that this is the way the president speaks. That's huge." Emphasis added. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Ken Dilanian, et al., of NBC News: "Some of the intelligence President Trump provided to Russian officials is so secret that American news organizations are still being asked not to report it, two U.S. officials told NBC News. The requests by U.S. intelligence officials cast doubt on the assertion by the president's aides that the sharing was appropriate.... National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters Tuesday that what Trump shared was 'wholly appropriate'.... McMaster, a serving Army general who is not steeped in counterterrorism, did not immediately realize the impact of what Trump had said, the U.S. official recounted. Many current and former intelligence officials said they were aghast at what they described as a reckless mistake by the president." Emphasis added. Thanks to Gloria for the lead. -- CW ...

...The Bratty Blabbermouth. Juan Cole: "Globally, US security partners are beginning to rethink sharing sensitive intelligence with the United States. That decisions should worry all Americans, since it puts the US at greater risk of being blindsided. The Republican Party has long claimed to be the party of security, in large part because they confuse belligerent rhetoric with security...The hollowness of GOP claims to be the party of strength are demonstrated by the mass of US allies running for the door and vowing never to show Washington anything remotely important. Even the Israelis, who would have no security without the US, are kvetching about Trump's latest breach. It is widely thought that he endangered an Israeli spy who had penetrated ISIL. And Tel Aviv is royally angered...It should be noted that the CIA considers Israeli intelligence one of the leakiest among US allies.... So if the Israelis now think Trump is too leaky to do business with, that is saying something.... Trump has only been in office a few months, and he has already ruined intelligence relationships forged over decades." --safari...

... How Putin Sucked in Trump. Julia Ioffe of the Atlantic: "... one reason the alleged presidential disclosure [to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak] is hugely significant -- even aside from its likely impact on Trump's already strained relationship with his own intelligence community, and the likelihood it will damage intelligence-sharing relationships America depends on -- is that it is yet another fruit of a strategy the Kremlin has long stuck to: telling the West that Russia is its ally on counterterrorism. This was, after all, what the Kremlin said Putin and Trump had discussed on their call two weeks ago, and it is the one area of cooperation that Putin continues to hold out to the West.... When Russia says it wants to cooperate with America on fighting terrorism, it is making a complex, and largely cynical, self-serving argument. But to realize that, one would have to understand the history and origins of this argument. The Obama administration mostly did, and it angered the Russians to no end. In Trump, the Russians have finally found an American president who will take their offer at face value and not ask too many questions." -- CW ...

... New York Times: "Stocks in the United States ended the day [Wednesday] sharply lower, a sign that investors might have growing concern over the turmoil in Washington." -- CW ...

... Et tu, mikey? Adele Stan of the American Prospect: "... the notion that [mike] Pence had no place inside the Trump administration's burgeoning Russia scandal is too readily accepted by reporters and lawmakers alike...." Stan lays out some particulars that call into question pence's supposed ignorance of all that was going on around him. CW: See also Rosenberg & Mazzetti's report above, which came out after Stan wrote her piece. Since pence was head of the transition team, he knew the FBI was investigating Flynn. Mikey is really good at (1) looking the other way, and (2) acting all surprised when caught in a lie. ...

...Vaughn Hillyard of NBC News: "Vice President Mike Pence is launching his own PAC -- the "Great America Committee" -- to aid his own future political interests, including helping Republican candidates ahead of the 2018 midterms...This is the first time a sitting vice president has formed such a separate political arm. Former administration officials have used either party or campaign funds to cover travel costs.... A source close to the Vice President said the organization will 'provide resources for the Vice President to actually support candidates who are supportive of the president's agenda.' The source also dismissed that there is any forethought into PAC being an infrastructure for a 2020 run of Pence's own." --safari...

...Matthew Nussbaum & Theodoric Meyer of Politico: "Not since the release of the Access Hollywood tape ... have some conservatives thought so seriously, if a bit wistfully, about two words: President Pence.... The still far-fetched proposition of removing Trump from office has increasing appeal to Republicans who are growing weary of defendingTrump and are alarmed by his conduct in office. But such whispers are cringe-worthy for Pence and his aides, who have made an art of not upstaging the mercurial president." --safari...

... Keeping Us Safe -- from the Press. Matthew Stevens of the New York Times: "... John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, probably did not intend for his quip suggesting President Trump use a sword 'on the press' to be recorded such that the world could hear. The remark came on Wednesday after Mr. Trump gave a commencement address to the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., in which he lauded the service before telling graduating cadets that no leader in history had been treated more unfairly by the news media.... A representative of the Class of 2017 presented him with a sword as a token of their appreciation. Mr. Trump then posed for a picture of himself with the sword and the person who presented it to him, before handing it off, and sitting back down next to Mr. Kelly. 'Use that on the press, sir,' Mr. Kelly said. 'Yeah,' Mr. Trump replied, before chuckling." -- CW ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Words like fascist and authoritarian get thrown around too promiscuously. But there is no other way to describe David Clarke, who today announced that he was named assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. (The Department has not confirmed Clarke's appointment.) Clarke occupies the extremist, anti-democratic fringe of far-right officials, even by the standards of the Trump administration.... Clarke's ironfisted beliefs about criminal justice can be explained in part by his own career. He oversees a prison that is notoriously brutal. Four people have died of mistreatment and torture in his custody.... Clarke's mind is organized around a worship of the virtues of physical force, combined with a seething intolerance for democratic dissent. In his book, Clarke proposes that the Department of Homeland Security -- the department that he has been nominated to serve -- assume police-state powers to round up internal enemies.... Clarke is clear in his belief that the legal principles that have served as a bedrock against state abuse for centuries should be discarded. He would 'hold them indefinitely under a suspension of habeas corpus.'..." Read the whole post. -- CW ...

...Trump's Amerika. Jeremy Redmon of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "An Indian national who was being detained by federal immigration authorities in Atlanta died Tuesday at Grady Memorial Hospital. He is the second U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainee to die in Georgia in the space of two days.Atulkumar Babubhai Patel, 58, was pronounced dead at 1:20 p.m. Tuesday, according to ICE. His preliminary cause of death, the federal agency said, has been ruled to be complications from congestive heart failure. Federal authorities are also investigating the death of a Panamanian national who was being held in an immigration detention center in Stewart County...Jean Jimenez-Joseph, 27, died after he was found unresponsive -- with a sheet around his neck -- in his solitary confinement cell at the Stewart Detention Center at 12:45 a.m. Monday, ICE said. He had been isolated for 19 days.... Patel is the eighth detainee to die in ICE custody in the fiscal year ending this September." --safari

Matt Zapotosky & John Wagner of the Washington Post: "President Trump was meeting Wednesday with four candidates to succeed James B. Comey as FBI director, including former senator Joe Lieberman, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. In addition to Lieberman, the president was to meet with former Oklahoma governor Frank A. Keating, who worked previously as a U.S. attorney and as the No. 3 official in the Justice Department; Richard A. McFeely, a former FBI official who spent more than two decades in the bureau; and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, who has taken over for Comey in the short term." CW: Not sure if Lieberman could get a pass in the Senate. Most of the senators know Lieberman, and with the possible exceptions of John McCain & Lindsay Graham, nobody likes Lieberman.

Screw the Kids, Ctd. Emma Brown, et al., of the Washington Post: "Funding for college work-study programs would be cut in half, public-service loan forgiveness would end and hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health, advanced coursework and other services would vanish under a Trump administration plan to cut $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives, according to budget documents obtained by The Washington Post. The administration would channel part of the savings into its top priority: school choice. It seeks to spend about $400 million to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools, and another $1 billion to push public schools to adopt choice-friendly policies." -- CW

Fill the Swamp. David Dayen of The Intercept: "For four years during Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's tenure as chair of OneWest Bank, its reverse-mortgage subsidiary Financial Freedom ripped off the government by receiving unlawful federal insurance payments on reverse mortgages, according to an $89 million Justice Department settlement made public today.... The period of Financial Freedom's misconduct covers a period that began shortly after Mnuchin became chair of OneWest and ended shortly after he and his fellow investors sold the company. He was either unaware of the breakdown in controls at Financial Freedom, or aware of the misconduct and allowed it to continue.... Financial Freedom did not have to admit nor deny wrongdoing.... New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed documents about Financial Freedom's loan business within the past couple months, according to the company's financial disclosures." --safari

Donald Trump, International Arms Dealer. Josh Rogin of the Washington Post: "When President Trump arrives in Riyadh this week, he will lay out his vision for a new regional security architecture White House officials call an 'Arab NATO,' to guide the fight against terrorism and push back against Iran. As a cornerstone of the plan, Trump will also announce one of the largest arms-sales deals in history. Behind the scenes, the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have been conducting extensive negotiations, led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The discussions began shortly after the presidential election, when Mohammed, known in Washington as 'MBS,' sent a delegation to meet with Kushner and other Trump officials at Trump Tower.... The idea of an 'Arab NATO' has been bandied about for years -- and has always had strong Saudi support -- but until now was never openly endorsed by the U.S. government. Officials said the concept fits three major tenets of Trump's 'America First' foreign-policy frame: asserting more American leadership in the region, shifting the financial burden of security to allies and providing for U.S. jobs at home (through the massive arms sales)." -- CW

Adam Peck of ThinkProgress: "According to Israeli publication YNet News, Donald Trump's advance team wants to shorten his visit to Israel's Holocaust memorial to no more than 15 minutes, just enough time to sign the Yad Vashem guest book and deliver brief remarks alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In contrast, both President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush spent at least an hour at Yad Vashem, touring the museum and giving a public speech. The duration of his visit ... might pass unobserved were it not for the Trump administration's already tense relationship with the Jewish community and shaky grasp on the facts of the Holocaust.... The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the administration's only objective for Trump's first foreign trip is to avoid any more diplomatic catastrophes. Trump himself reportedly tried to have the trip cut in half -- to just five days." --safari

Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "A violent attack blocks from the White House that left nine protestors bloodied or injured is creating a new headache for the Trump administration on the eve of the president’s first foreign trip. The attack allegedly perpetrated by bodyguards and other supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came under fierce criticism from Washington, D.C., police and local officials, who described it as a violent attack on peaceful demonstrators.... Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham condemned the action Wednesday as an 'assault' on those protesting 'peacefully,' warning that the department will 'pursue everything that's within our legal power to hold the folks that were responsible accountable for their actions.'... The State Department took more than a day to respond to the event...." -- CW ...

... Louis Nelson of Politico: "The State Department confirmed on Wednesday that Turkish security personnel were involved in a clash with protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Northwest Washington a day earlier that left nine people injured and two in police custody. 'We are concerned by the violent incidents involving protestors and Turkish security personnel Tuesday evening. Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest,' the State Department said in a statement. 'We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms.' A video of at least some of the fight, posted online on the Voice of America's Turkish-language Twitter account, shows men wearing dark suits charging past a police line towards sign-wielding protesters and assaulting them. Some of the dark-suited, charging men appeared to be carrying holstered firearms.... In March 2016, Erdogan's security guards reportedly attacked demonstrators and journalists outside the Brookings Institution in Washington." -- CW

Adam Entous of the Washington Post: "A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress -- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy -- made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin. 'There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,' McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016 exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post.... Some of the lawmakers laughed at McCarthy's comment. Then McCarthy quickly added: 'Swear to God.'... Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy's assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy. Before the conversation, McCarthy and Ryan had emerged from separate talks at the U.S. Capitol with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions. News had just broken the day before in The Washington Post that Russian government hackers had penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee.... 'I'll guarantee you that's what it is. ... The Russians hacked the DNC and got the opp [opposition] research that they had on Trump," McCarthy said with a laugh." ...

     ... CW: What a patriot! The House Majority Leader "swears to God" he thinks Putin is/was paying Trump. He thinks it's hilarious that Russians hacked the DNC. But no matter if Russians interfered with the U.S. elections to put a traitor in the White House -- as long as the traitor helps push through these tax breaks for the rich. ...

     ... AND what liars! Spoksmen for Ryan & McCarthy both categorically denied McCarthy's remarks -- till Entous told them he had heard a recording. ...

... Kevin Drum: "Good on Adam Entous of the Post for getting a response from both men before they knew he had a recording. It's good for the public to understand how shamelessly and effortlessly they'll flatly lie about anything they think they can get away with." -- CW ...

... Nicole Guadiano of USAToday: "House Republicans blocked a vote Wednesday on legislation to create an independent commission to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. A Democratic effort to force a vote failed, with only one Republican -- Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina -- joining them in a procedural vote that would have allowed them to bring up the bill. But Democrats also launched a petition Wednesday that would allow them to force a vote on the bill at a later date if they get a majority of lawmakers to sign on." -- CW ...

... Deirdre Walsh, et al., of CNN: "House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday he still has confidence in ... Donald Trump." The story includes video of some of Ryan's remarks. He makes my skin crawl. If, like me, you can't stand to listen, Dana Milbank (column linked above) has a good recap of Weasel Man's remarks:

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Ryan, reading from a typewritten statement, gave what amounted to a generous Trump defense. Ryan alleged that 'there are some people out there who want to harm the president,' and said of Comey: 'If this happened as he allegedly describes, why didn't he take action at the time?' Ryan dismissed 'speculation and innuendo,' saying 'there's clearly a lot of politics being played.' He cited the acting FBI director as saying 'no one has tried to impede' the FBI probe. 'There is plenty of oversight that is being done,' Ryan assured all. Walking out, he was asked if he had 'full confidence' in Trump. Ryan paused briefly mid-stride and said, softly, 'I do.' ...

... Elise Viebeck, et al., of the Washington Post: "Congressional Republicans are increasing pressure on the Trump administration to produce documents related to the latest string of controversies involving President Trump, amid flagging confidence in the White House and a growing sense that scandal is overtaking the presidency. As the White House sought to contain the damage from two major scandals, leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked the FBI for documents related to former Director James B. Comey.... In a separate letter, they also asked Comey to testify before the committee in both open and closed sessions." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on Wednesday said if the reports about Trump's pressure on Comey are true, it would merit impeachment." -- CW ...

... Imagine. USA Today Editors: "Imagine what would have happened had a President Hillary Clinton abruptly fired the man overseeing an investigation of her campaign's ties to a hostile foreign government. Imagine if the firing came ... weeks after Clinton had asked the man to drop a probe of a close associate who had lied about conversations with that nation's ambassador. Imagine, further, what would have happened had she invited the ambassador and foreign minister of that hostile government to the Oval Office at the request of their autocratic leader, closed the meeting to U.S. journalists, and claimed to have been tricked when the foreign adversary's media arm released chummy photos from the meeting. And then imagine that she had used the meeting to share classified intelligence with the envoys." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jeff Larson of ProPublica, Surya Mattu of Gizmodo, et al.: The writers trolled Mar-a-Lago, the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and "the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and a golf club in Sterling, Virginia. Our inspections found weak and open Wi-Fi networks, wireless printers without passwords, servers with outdated and vulnerable software, and unencrypted login pages to back-end databases containing sensitive information. The risks posed by the lax security, experts say, go well beyond simple digital snooping. Sophisticated attackers could take advantage of vulnerabilities in the Wi-Fi networks to take over devices like computers or smart phones and use them to record conversations involving anyone on the premises. 'Those networks all have to be crawling with foreign intruders, not just ProPublica,' said Dave Aitel, chief executive officer of Immunity, Inc., a digital security company, when we told him what we found.... Trump properties have been hacked before. Last year, the Trump hotel chain paid $50,000 to settle charges brought by the New York attorney general that it had not properly disclosed the loss of more than 70,000 credit card numbers and 302 Social Security numbers." CW: Makes Hillary Clinton's little private server problem -- on which were transmitted very few sensitive documents and e-mails -- look like a fake can of worms. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Beyond the Beltway

Samantha Vicent of the Tulsa World: "... a jury on Wednesday night found Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby not guilty of manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher, prompting Crutcher's family to allege that the trial revealed widespread corruption within the Tulsa Police Department that allowed Shelby to 'get away with murder.'... The case drew national attention and outrage because video footage released after the Sept. 16 shooting showed that Shelby, who is white, shot Crutcher, who was black and unarmed, and did not render aid as he bled in the street.... Crutcher, according to helicopter footage of the shooting, had his hands up in the seconds before he was shot. He was unarmed...." -- CW

Olivia Messer of The Daily Beast: "'Grab her phone! Delete my numbers and texts!' the men shouted. Jane Doe could hear their voices while she lay on her back in a Waco, Texas, apartment.... As many as eight Baylor football players had just finished taking turns raping her, and they jumped to delete her phone evidence, according to allegations in a new lawsuit. Doe's complaint is the seventh federal Title IX lawsuit -- which involve at least 15 women -- filed against the nation's largest Baptist university. At least 17 alleged victims of sexual or domestic violence have reported assaults by 19 Baylor football players, including at least four alleged gang rapes. Another lawsuit claims that there have been at least 52 rapes perpetrated by no fewer than 31 players on the team between 2011 and 2014.... The alleged gang rapes, according to the suit, were a 'bonding' experience for the team, during which they would take photographs and videos of 'semi conscious' girls and then 'circulate' them to other players." --safari

Way Beyond

Ed O'Loughlin of the New York Times: "Enda Kenny, Ireland's prime minister since 2011, announced his resignation as the leader of his party on Wednesday. The announcement was not unexpected, as Mr. Kenny was under pressure from within his party, Fine Gael, because of his handling of a long-running corruption scandal over Irish police misconduct. Mr. Kenny hinted in March that he would step down as the party's leader, and on Wednesday, he made it official, announcing his departure as party leader, effective midnight. Lawmakers and other members of Fine Gael must choose a new leader by June 2, and Mr. Kenny will stay on as a caretaker prime minister until then. Mr. Kenny drew widespread attention in March when, during a St. Patrick's Day visit to Washington, he chided Mr. Trump and brought up the estimated 50,000 Irish who are living in the United States illegally, and who are at risk if Mr. Trump delivers on his campaign promise to round up undocumented immigrants." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Here's the Irish Times' main story. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Jonathan Watts of the Guardian: "Angry crowds and outraged members of Brazil's congress have demanded the impeachment of President Michel Temer following reports he was secretly recorded discussing hush money pay-offs to a jailed associate. The tapes were presented to prosecutors as part of a plea bargain by Joesley and Wesley Batista, brothers who run the country's biggest meat-packing firm JBS, according to O Globo newspaper. They are said to contain conversations that incriminate several leading politicians, including the former presidential candidate Aecio Neves and the former finance minister Guido Mantega. Temer is alleged to have talked with Joesley about cash payments to Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the House who has been jailed for his role in the sprawling Petrobras corruption scandal.... Cunha is in the same ruling Brazilian Democratic Movement party as Temer and initiated the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff that allowed him to take over the presidency. He has alluded to the many secrets he knows about his former colleagues." --safari

And now a public service announcement from Mother Nature. Damian Carrington of the Guardian: "[T]he world's plant hunters discovered more than 1,700 new species last year, offering the prospect of better crops and new colours and scents in the garden.... The report found that more than 28,000 plant species are now recorded as having medicinal uses and new climbing vines from Borneo and Ecuador may add to the list, being relatives of plants already grown to produce treatments for Parkinson's disease. Finding so many new species in a year is not unusual and Prof Kathy Willis, director of science at Kew Gardens, said: 'There are just huge areas we know nothing about. I find it really encouraging that there are many, many new plants to be found in the world.' 'Plants are critical to life on Earth and all aspects of human wellbeing,' she said. 'I get most carried away with the new food crops, because I think one of the most worrying things about climate change is its impact on food security.'" --safari

Reader Comments (36)

I can't link but TalkingPointsMemo "McMaster didn't Realise ..." It looks like Marie's thought on this was correct, only afterwards did actual competent humans read the memo of the oval office meeting with the Russian press and realise what scrotus did.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGloria

This mornings Trumptweet: "With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!" (spelling error his, not mine).
He calls it a "witch hunt". He is wrong. It's a warlock hunt.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Hooray and lack a day! Bobby three sticks is here to save the day!

The only good news yesterday was to learn that Robert Mueller III will be the special council to investigate the dummkopf 's dodgy dealings. Mueller has left his law firm, the one that has taken on the NFL scandal, Volkswagen, Asian air bag blowup, and brought in several of the key players there. In other words, since leaving as FBI director for 12 yrs, (Obama had asked him to stay a couple more years) he has been cleaning up big messes using his expert skills along with plenty of Bounty for those quick picker uppers.

But why now? Rostein said only five days ago that no special council was needed. It could be that Adam Shiff convinced him that this was the only way to get public trust.

P.S. I have never been impressed with McMaster

Can the president* fire him, too? Looks like it, but if that happened the skies would open up with great thunderous uproars and we'd have a whole lot of nasty rain.

Ryan and McCarthy, two of those fine featured Young Guns of yore have lost their faces. Both fervent Catholics so that the "swear to God" at the end of anything means it's TRUE. These fancy dancers can pivot all they want on this, but they have lost all credibility––Swear to God!

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@Marvin: That tweet by Trump: He CANNOT and WILL NOT take responsibility for anything that does not aggrandize him. It's like the big bully who is being chastised for a wrong doing and immediately says, "but Billy did the same thing last week and you did nothin!"

Something Dan Rather said last night after discussing Mueller's appointment:

"We are still a nation of laws and not of men."

so far, Dan, so far.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Yesterday Ak posted a comment about SCROTUS praising the city of Belgium.

Funny in this Politico article by Dawsey and Harni that now Brussels is a country.

"Trump will spend Thursday at the White House meeting with the president of Colombia and holding a joint news conference in the afternoon.

Then he departs Friday for his first international trip as president: an eight-day, five country journey from Saudi Arabia to Israel to the Vatican to Brussels to Sicily, where he is attempting to shift the narrative away from his domestic crises."

Looks like they and their editors need to take the NatGeo quiz. (got 90% myself, missing the one about western Africa too.)

Here's another quiz you can take about gender equality around the world from Speigel ONLINE.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

PD, your right about Trump sense of responsibility. The idea that he even hired someone that was a mistake is to much to handle. He is perfect. And if there was Russian influence in the election, he did not win because he is wonderful.

What I am hoping for in the investigation is Trump's business connections to Russia. They may not be found in his tax returns. If he made $50 million from a Trump company, the source of income is not in his returns but in the corporate returns. We will see.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

@Marvin Schwalb: Quite right. Trump's personal tax returns would not reveal the extent of his financial shenanigans in regard to Russian "investments" and other shady deals. Trump International & other Trump companies are private rather than public corporations. I don't know what their obligation is to public entities, like the State of New York, to reveal its financial dealings. If anybody else knows, please share.

Marie

May 18, 2017 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Well it looks as if Roger Ailes has gone to meet his maker. No, not that one. The other one. The guy with the tail.

I'm sure there are nice digs all prepared for ol' Rog down there in the Ninth Ring.

Enjoy.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Well, at least there's some good news today. These are the times when I wish I believe in hell so I could say rot in it, you syphilitic social disease.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Texas Confederates firmly in camp of authoritarianism

Hard on the heels of the appointment of former FBI chief Robert Mueller to head up the investigation into authoritarian President* Trumpy's Russia shenanigans, Louie Gohmert (Moron-TX) ran to Fox and Fiends to declare that Mueller is bad, bad, bad. He's "egotistical" declares that paragon of modesty, Gohmert. Also, he'll be a "problem". Not sure what that means but it may have something to do with a little encounter Gohmert had with Mueller about four years ago.

During a hearing held for Confederates to beat their chests over the Boston Marathon bombing, Gohmert went on a rant, hollering at Mueller. When Mueller told Gohmert he had his facts wrong, the already faulty wiring in his little winger brain started shooting off sparks. Wingers never forget being made to look foolish. This is why Trump never sleeps. He's remembering all the times he's been made to look like a blithering idiot, and likely that is why Gohmert is so exercised about Mueller's appointment.

Gohmert is also playing that favorite card of Confederate law breakers and their apologists (right after blaming the victim, that is), shooting the messenger. According to giant legal brain Gohmert, it's not Trump who is at fault for trying to obstruct justice. It's Comey!

"'I'm amazed that an FBI director and former prosecutor would be confessing to a crime the way that it appears that he is,' Gohmert said. He said that under 18 U.S. Code Section 4, Comey is required by law to report any attempt - including by the president of the United States - to obstruct a federal investigation. 'If this [memo] happened a couple of months ago then it sounds [like] he has got to report it immediately and I've heard no evidence that he reported [it],' Gohmert said."

Amazed, eh? I'm amazed Gohmert can read. Just take this apart for a second. If Gohmert is calling Comey guilty for not reporting this conversation with Trump, he is, in effect, buying the premise that Trump is, in fact, guilty himself. I guess that doesn't enter into the thinking as long as he can cast aspersions, however sloppily and ineptly, in true winger style, on perceived enemies of the cause.

And from the Texas 27th district, another mega-mind, Blake (Pajama Boy) Farenthold, went on NPR this morning to lie his fat ass off. Maybe you kids didn't know it, but all that stuff about Trump and the Russians? Pfft. It's all a big nothing. Democrats and people whining about the Constitution got nothin'. According to PJ Boy, there's nothing but "allegations" and speculation. And as such, the Glorious Leader is innocent.

Um, actually, no. It's not just "allegations". Michael Flynn's many connections to Russian have been well documented. So have the connections of Paul Manafort, meetings with Russian spies by such as Jeffbo Sessions are also well documented. These are not allegations.

The nature and content of those meetings may be open to debate, but that they took place (not to mention the number of them) is not.

Until the results of the Mueller investigation are in, Farenthold will be in his office trying on new pajamas. The ones with the feet. More comfy that way.

Fucking patriots.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

But now we have also have the startling revelation that House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, believes that Trump (along with another Confederate scumbag) is being paid off by Putin (see link above). Attempts to portray this as some kind of joke are immediately discounted by McCarthy's reactions when several in attendance laughed "Swear to god!" he says on the tape of this encounter. Right after that, upstanding citizen Lyin' Ryan swears everyone to secrecy.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Unwashed,

Someone should tell those Politico writers that Sicily isn't a country either. Oops.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Didn't take long as you'd expect. Ryan and Chaffetz have teed up the campaign to discredit Comey. Chaffetz wants him to "testify in the light of day." Both are suggesting the memos may not "be there".

Comey refused closed door testimony in favor of public testimony. The rabid chipmunk is busy making shit up again. Practice for Fox News. These imbeciles think their lies are accompanied by the Allelujah chorus.

Ryan and Chaffetz are already buried in an enormous pile of garbage of their own making. All you can see are their snorkels.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

From TPM: Are White House Press Briefings About To Get A Lot Less Spice-y?

Sarah Huckabee Sanders has subbed for Spicey on several occasions. Watching these two, it occurs to me that Spicey seems, at least, a little uncomfortable and flustered by all his lying, while Sanders revels in it. Apple don't fall far from the tree, I guess.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Nancy,

I thought the same thing after Sanders handled her first lie-a-thon while Spicey was off sending ships in the wrong direction as part of his Naval Reserve thingy. She was shameless. Things that would have tied Spicer's tongue in knots she spit out and dared the assembled press to say different.

But then again, if you grow up with lies and your father is an accomplished liar (Mike Huckabee), it comes naturally to you. We won't even get into all the whacko Biblical bullshit.

According to Politifact's "Huckabee File", only 20% of the things ol' Mike says are true. 40% of what he says range from "mostly false" to "pants on fire".

Just for laughs, I checked the "Trump File". 68% of everything this moron says is either "mostly false", completely "false", or "pants on fire".

No wonder he surrounds himself with other liars. But how crazy must it be in that White House because not only do they lie to the press and the voters, they lie to each other.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Ak, true. And as a city-state neither is the Vatican. But, at least they had a quantity of five something or others in their list.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

Why the hell is he going to Sicily anyway? To get some personal off-the-record advice from some of his goombahs?

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

@unwashed: The G7 summit is being held in Taormina.

Marie

May 18, 2017 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Unwashed,

Technically, Vatican City is a country, albeit a very teeny one. As to the Sicily thing, beats the hell out of me. I'm betting it's not to visit sites of the First PunicWar or to check out ancient Etruscan pottery in the museum at Siracusa, he being such a fan of history and kulcha. You could be right, though. Maybe he has a message for the families of some of his old mob pals.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Re the "Arab NATO":

I don't know, but...

1. Haven't we seen this movie before?
2. I'm not sure I'll sleep better knowing creepy Jared Kushner negotiated this deal. With his vast knowledge of the Middle East and its history.
3. What about Israel? How do we explain upping the threat to them? Should Jared Kushner, who professes his life to Judaism, be the one to reassure them?
4. If grampy and his brain trust are involved in laying out his vision for fighting terrorism and promoting peace in the Middle East, (snort), it's a sure bet the U.S. is about to get skunked.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Ah...the G7. Leave it to Marie to fill in the blanks.

Didn't Trumpy rip the G7 leaders while running for president*?

Well, I'm sure they'll all be thrilled to see the Orange Headed Baboon. He's already insulted a few of the G7 leaders. Now he'll have a chance to do it all in one place. Oh, wait. Trump never does things like that in person. He waits until they're on the plane home then tweets out his insult from a distance, 'cause that's how manly Confederate men do it. I'm wondering who will fill Trumpy in on who's who and what the issues are. Young Jared? But who will fill him in? Bannon? But who will....

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Oh, hey. And speaking of Manly Confederates, it looks like Manly Mike Flynn is giving a great big Darrell Issa middle finger to the Senate and their subpoena of his Russia documents. Looks like he's not going to cooperate in their investigation into Russian-Trump meddling.

Could be he's got criminal charges hanging over his head. If I were his lawyer, I'd tell him to memorize these four words "I plead the fifth". See? There ARE parts of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that Confederates find useful besides the Second and Tenth amendments!

And it's good to know that Flynn is still in contact with his old comrade, Donaldavich Trumpskyev. They must revel in talk of the old days, vodka, their days in the country out in the dacha maintained for Friends of Putin, talk of mass extermination of people they don't like, you know, the fun stuff.

If it hasn't been painfully obvious (except to Ryan and McConnell, willful ignoramuses), Trump has gone waaaaay out of his way to keep Flynn close. He must have the goods on Dumbo.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The funny thing about this G7 meeting...

I admit I haven't paid much attention to this Trump Trip of Terror abroad. And I most certainly never think of him as actually, ya know, doing something. When I think of Trump going somewhere, I think, well, here he goes to give a speech, lie through his teeth, blame everything on Hillary and Obama and Democrats, cry about being a victim, say a few stupid things, insult a few ethnic groups, then go play golf. I don't think about him ever doing something useful in the world.

Funny how that works, in'it?

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

From the RawStory article linked above:

"Kushner wanted to see Trump go another route and launch a counterattack. Kushner was also the aide responsible for urging Trump to fire former FBI director James Comey. The majority wanted a calm rational response and Trump agreed. The staff gathered around a computer outside of the Oval Office and drafted the statement that was ultimately released ." [emphasis mine]

My father had a crude expression that seems appropriate for this crowd:

"Like a monkey f**king a football."

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

WaPo sez no cause of death reported for Roger Ailes.

Were he not a moral imbecile, he would have died of embarrassment
long ago. So we can be certain that wasn't it.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterD.C.Clark

@Nancy: The original reporting on Kushner's finger in the pie came from Glenn Thrush of the NYT, who certainly has good sources. I thought Kushner was supposed to be the "steady hand" who pulled Trump off the ledge when possible. If Thrush's reporting is good, Kushner is either consciously trying to sink the Donald's presidency (unlikely, since Kushner's own family business is relying on Trump's "prestige"), or Kushner, like Trump, is an idiot.

It's disquieting to remember that Kushner is Trump's designated world peacemaker & government overhaul overlord. Given what we now (think we) know, we can predict how well those projects will go.

Marie

May 18, 2017 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

I'm having a chuckle thinking about the line of women who were the subjects of Ailes assaults-harassment-disgustinig presence queuing up at the grave, each one giving their own special gesture of a last respect.

As for Trump hiring a private attorney, he's obviously got Leibermann fitted for a twofer, FBI director and personal attorney.

"Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP, 'have represented Trump in all manner of matters since at least 2001. Such matters have included, but are certainly not limited to, the restructuring of $1.3 billion in bondholder debt connected to his Atlantic City casinos; a defamation case filed against the author of TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald, for stating that the businessman was worth between $150 million and $250 million, not billions' (a suit that Trump later lost);...."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidhalperin/lieberman-introducing-dev_b_14232914.html

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Mrs. Aisles must be laughing all the way to the funeral parlor.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference between insanity and plain stupidity.

Trump is completely innocent but
He needs an attorney
He wants to prevent all inquiries that will prove his innocence
He needs to hide his irrelevant tax returns
And he has a chance to totally humiliate his enemies but doesn't want it to happen.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Damn autocorrect. Ailes, not aisles.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

Kushner, whose dad bought him a ticket into Harvard over the bodies of plenty of students who actually deserved to be there, seems to be one of those over-privileged, half-smart, entitled douchebags who believes that life is his for the taking. Like Trump himself, he seems to think he's a genius and if some plan of his goes awry, it simply has to be someone else's fault. Check out this picture of Kushner. Does he seem just a tad vacuous? Vacuous and creepy.

A profile in Vanity Fair a while back included the observations of those who worked with and for Kushner, such as this gem:

"'My impression wasn’t that he was a moron,' this real-estate acquaintance continued. 'But he thought he was so much smarter than he was. That makes for really dangerous and decisive decisions. He is really confident that he’s doing the right thing, but he has no idea what he’s doing.'"

"No idea what he's doing." That sounds hopeful.

And then this from a former reporter for the Observer, the paper Kushner bought thinking it would provide him with a certain cachet among the high society set in Manhattan:

"'I don’t think he’s a diabolical mastermind,' one of the former reporters told me. 'He’s an intellectual lightweight. He ate it on his first real-estate deal and with the paper. He thought it would work out because he thought he had the golden touch.'"

Sounds a lot like Trump. Except I don't think Trump would even make the cut for a lightweight class of intellectuals. Which maybe makes him think that Kushner is a genius.

And this from another Observer veteran: "'It’s dangerous to have someone who thinks he’s so much smarter than he is put in a large position of power,' he said. 'It was dangerous to have him in charge of a weekly newspaper.'"

Oh, great.

Needless to say, the Observer no longer publishes. Again, like Trump, Kushner took a successful, going concern and killed it.

Also, very much like Trump, who is always bragging about what a great student he was, how brilliant he is, yadda, yadda, yadda, none of his classmates seem to remember Kushner, as practically none of Trump's cohort recall ever even seeing him during their school days.

And, again like Trump, He seems to love reading about himself, especially articles that appeared after the election crediting him with the upset victory. "Gee! I MUST be a genius!"

But truly smart people don't run off half-cocked and promote things like the firing of Jim Comey which have the potential to ignite political firestorms, especially if all you have to go on is zero experience and your "gut instinct", another Trump-like trait.

Does this gigantic, undeserved sense of self-worth and superiority arise from, shall we say, a lack of something? Kushner's Big Project, 666 Fifth Avenue, which he overpaid for so drastically that according to the Times, the deal Kushner masterminded was "...so highly leveraged that the cash flow from rents amounted to only 65 percent of the debt service." No wonder he's dying to use his new governmental influence to change the laws to help his bad business plan. But that's not a bad thing. Is it?

Hmm....wonder what could be behind such an "enlarged" self-image. Let's take a look at what Young Jared has planned for his vision of a rebuilt 666 Fifth Ave.

Whoa! Someone described Kushner's planned priapic megalith as a giant dildo. I'd say there might be a bit of compensation going on here.

And this is the guy who's going to fix the Israeli-Palestinian problem AND restructure the entire government while he's at it, eh?

It's one thing to fuck up a real estate deal or run a newspaper into the ground, but when you think you're smarter than the hundreds of highly experienced, truly smart people who have tilted at issues like the Israeli-Palestinian rift, sooner or later you are going to cause serious, life challenging problems for people in the real world.

You can watch a show like ER then put a band-aid on your kid's finger and think of yourself as a "medical professional", but It's a much different thing when you think that qualifies you to perform open heart surgery.

And we're the patient.

I'd say sooner is already here.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Okay, just one more...

Don't you just love hearing a whiny Trumpy, who studied advanced ratfucking with Roy Cohn, a rat bastard whose witch hunting helped destroy hundreds if not thousands of lives, describe himself as the victim of a witch hunt?

Somewhere (probably right next to new roommate Roger), Roy Cohn is laughing his ass off.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

NPR: “Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz To Leave Office At The End Of June."

http://www.npr.org/2017/05/18/528989433/utah-rep-jason-chaffetz-to-leave-office-at-the-end-of-june

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Oops. Forgot to add: No reason given.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

The Pretender paid by Putin? Maybe not. But played by? Darn tootin'!

And on Kushner ginning up the Pretender's mad tweets?

Would make sense to me. I'm guessing his business affairs, some of which may be entangled with those of other family members, may not bear looking into either.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@AK: such hearty laughs I had reading your post about the "aspersions on my asparagus" idiot. I marvel that this body without a brain remains in Congress––there must be lots of bodies without brains that vote for him over and over along with those that apparently think the P.J. boy is just as capable.

Anyway––thanks for the laughs–-it helps.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
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