WHAT DOES TRUMP HAVE IN COMMON WITH THE GAMBINO CRIME FAMILY OTHER THAN AUDACIOUS DISHONESTY AND A PENCHANT FOR FRAUD? — PERHAPS, MUELLER & CO ARE GOING TO “ROLL UP” THE TRUMPSTERS JUST THE WAY THEY DID THE GAMBINOS! – Will Rick Gates Be The Reincarnation of “Sammy The Bull?”

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/02/rick-gates-robert-mueller-donald-trump

Abigail Tracy writes in Vanity Fair:

“Even among some of Donald Trump’s allies, there is a sense of astonishment at the White House’s handling of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. “It’s like no one took down the Gambino family,” Steve BannontoldChris Whipple in a book adaptation the Hive published this week. “Mueller’s doing a roll-up just like he did with the Gambinos. [Paul] Manafort’s the caporegime, right? And [Rick] Gates is a made man!” Indeed, Mueller, who led the F.B.I. takedown of the infamous crime family in the early 1990s, famously cutting a deal with Sammy the Bull to flip on mob boss John Gotti, appears to be executing what some have called a “Gambino-style roll-up.” First, he flippedformer Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos; then, he turnedousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. Now, CNN reports, Mueller appears to be in the final stages of a plea deal with Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman and a longtime business associate of Manafort, who was indicted alongside him last fall.

The White House reportedly views Gates’s testimony as a threat to Manafort, and not to the president. “There’d be no anxiety here,” a White House official told CNN when asked about the possibility that Gates will cut a deal. The charges against the two, after all, had nothing do with Russian collusion; the 12 counts included failure to register as a foreign agent, false and misleading statements related to that registration, and seven counts of improper foreign financial reporting—all as part of a broader conspiracy to launder millions of dollars from their consulting work in Ukraine into the United States. Manafort has pleaded not guilty, and is fighting the charges. But Gates, who has also pleaded not guilty, has been grappling with financial troubles and difficulties with his legal team. According to CNN, he has been in plea negotiations with Mueller’s team of F.B.I. investigators for about a month, and has already given an interview in which he would have revealed any knowledge he might have of criminal activity that could be traded for leniency or immunity in sentencing.

What this means for the White House isn’t exactly clear. While Manafort’s reign as campaign chairman and Gates’s role as his deputy were short-lived, the duo oversaw a series of events and interactions that have come under intense scrutiny in the ongoing Justice Department probe. Manafort and Gates ran the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, during which Donald Trump Jr. held his infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer. They were also on board during the Republican National Convention, where a number of Trump campaign officials and surrogates met with Russian officials and campaign officials altered the language of the official G.O.P. platform on Ukraine to be more sympathetic to Russian interests. While Manafort was replaced by Bannon after The New York Times alleged that handwritten ledgers showed millions in undisclosed cash payments designated for Manafort in Ukraine—a claim Manafort denies—Gates continued to work with the Trump campaign through the transition, and served as a senior official on Trump’s inaugural committee.”

For now, the most significant facts in the case remain under lock. Adam Schiff, the top ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that the panel has discovered evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 campaign, as well as evidence of subsequent obstruction. “There is certainly an abundance of non-public information that we’ve gathered in the investigation,” Schiff toldreporters. Whether that information is actionable remains to be seen. According to the White House’s own budget request, the administration expects Mueller’s investigation to continue well into next year, despite repeated assurances from the president’s legal team that it was approaching a conclusion. If Gates has the goods, perhaps it will end sooner.

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No, the “Don of Con” isn’t “in the clear” as he incredibly asserts. In fact, it appears that the noose is slowly tightening. Exactly the kind of “dangling in the wind” to which The Don likes to subject those subordinates whom he suspects of disloyalty.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” And, there’s so much smoke surrounding The Don, his family, and his current and former associates right now that it’s a miracle nobody in the White House has succumbed to smoke inhalation.

PWS

02-17-18

DERELICTION OF DUTY! — VLADI PUTIN SCORED A DIRECT HIT ON OUR “SHIP OF STATE!” – WITH THE SHIP LISTING AND THE CREW FRANTICALLY WARNING OF OTHER IMMINENT ATTACKS, “CAPTAIN COWARD” ROWS AWAY TO SAVE HIS OWN SKIN WHILE LEAVING OUR NATION TO “SINK WITH THE SHIP!” – How Is This Right? – Why Are We Letting Him Get Away With It?

FROM TODAYS’ WASHINGTON POST — THE EDITORIAL BOARD WRITES:

February 16 at 8:09 PM

FRIDAY’S FEDERAL grand jury indictment of 13 Russians for conspiracy to interfere illegally in the 2016 presidential election presents powerful evidence that Moscow staged an attack on the United States’ democratic political process. The facts, doggedly accumulated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III despite much hostility from President Trump, show that the Russians’ goal was to foment “distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” as the indictment puts it. And the chosen means was “information warfare,” reportedly waged via provocations on social media and the occasional in-person grass-roots activity. It began in 2014 and involved Russians engaging in political activities under false, sometimes stolen, identities; no Americans wittingly cooperated with this particular plot, though some did so unwittingly, according to the indictment.

The indictment thus undercuts any lingering suggestion that Russian interference is a myth or a hoax, and Mr. Trump, who has often suggested as much, should have acknowledged the new evidence Friday. Instead, his first reaction was to claim vindication on Twitter. “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong,” he wrote, adding, “no collusion!” This was inappropriate on two levels.

First, though the indictment did say that there was no knowing American collusion with the Russian social media campaign, and though it did not say that it affected the results, it also showed that the vast majority of Russian propaganda supported Mr. Trump’s campaign and attacked that of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. You would think Mr. Trump would take a moment to repudiate that support, even in hindsight, and to declare that no foreign power has a right to campaign secretly against an American candidate.

Second, Mr. Mueller has not finished his investigation and has not ruled out the possibility of collusion. We don’t yet know whether Donald Trump Jr.’s eagerness to meet with Russians offering “dirt” on Ms. Clinton’s campaign was an isolated incident. Nor has the special counsel yet weighed in on the question of possible obstruction of his investigation by President Trump.

Meanwhile, the evidence of a Russian assault on the U.S. election is a serious development in and of itself that any responsible president would respond to in a serious way. Such an attempt to delegitimize the American system could only have gone forward with the knowledge and approval of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. It reflected the Kremlin’s all-too-accurate judgment that a divided and polarized U.S. electorate would be vulnerable to the same sort of dirty tricks Russia has pulled in Europe. In a statement, Mr. Trump declared that “we cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful,” though he strangely blamed not Russia, but rather “outlandish partisan attacks” by his opponents, which, he said, “further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia.” The only message he should be sending now, both to the American people and to Moscow, is that Mr. Putin is responsible and that the U.S. government will respond to his covert attacks with appropriate retaliation.

President Trump continues to insist the Democrats are responsible for any story relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The grand jury’s indictment shows how far Russia is willing to go to manipulate and discredit our democracy. Mr. Trump’s own intelligence chiefs warned this week that the 2018 election is under threat. Given the baffling and inexcusable absence of presidential leadership, Congress must step up to defend the nation.”

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An “inexcusable absence of presidential leadership.” Sorry, I don’t find that “baffling” or surprising at all. In fact, it’s a depressingly accurate and succinct description of Trump’s entire “Joke Presidency.”

Trump’s own intelligence officials, including National Security Advisor Gen. McMaster are all warning of the seriousness of the threat Russia poses to our electoral integrity and national security. Trump is, as normal, focused entirely on trying (totally unsuccessfully) to cover his own behind. This is a guy who up until now has been calling Russian interference with  the 2016 Election “a hoax” and “fake news.”

And, there is zero chance that the spineless and complicit GOP-controlled Congress will step into the breach. They are too busy looting our country before Armageddon comes!

There is, however, one way available to all of us to save our country! Throw the GOP scoundrels, enablers, and “Fellow Travelers” out of office. A Democratic Congress is the best hope for the people to take back control and save America from Putin, Trump, and the “New American Oligarchs” and “Kleptocrats” who are enabling both of them!

Otherwise, we all ought to start studying Russian. Because we’re all going to need it to communicate with our “future real rulers” in Moscow!

PWS

02-17-18

CRIME/NATIONAL SECURITY/TRUMP: “NO DOUBTER” – ANYONE WHO THINKS THAT VALDI PUTIN DIDN’T HELP ELECT TRUMP IS BADLY MISTAKEN – Just Read Mueller’s Latest Indictment! – I’ve Got It for You!

 

Russian Indictment

 

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So, now you know why:

  • Trump fears the truth;
  • Sessions runs around the country trashing Dreamers, asylum seekers, lawyers, empowering MS-13, and promoting his White Nationalist agenda while not lifting a finger to prevent Russian meddling in our elections;
  • DHS is headed by a lightweight sycophant who is more concerned about deporting gardeners and maids and “kissing up” to Trump’s racist agenda than about protecting our country from the active threat by Russia;
  • We’re standing by and letting Russia run all over us on the world stage;
  • Vladi is just delighted with the performance of his “Puppet President,” “Agent Devon,” and a host of GOP “Fellow Travelers;”
  • Trump and his cohorts are out to destroy the career civil service because career civil servants owe allegiance to our Constitution rather than to Trump and his corrupt minions.

Wake up, folks, and vote the GOP out of office, on all levels, before it’s too late for America!

PWS

02-15-18

GONZO’S WORLD: NO DEFENSE! – SESSIONS MIA AS TRUMP AND GOP ATTACK INTEGRITY OF DOJ!

https://www.newsmax.com/politics/attorney-general-department-of-justice-the-new-york-times-doj/2018/02/05/id/841477/

Brian Freeman reports for Newsmax:

“Even as President Donald Trump has led the most prolonged and public attack on the Justice Department in history, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has broken a long tradition of those in his position of protecting the institution from such interference by remaining largely silent, The New York Times reported Monday.

“What is unusual is the FBI and the Justice Department being attacked, the president leading the charge and the attorney general missing in action,” said Harvard Law Prof. Jack Goldsmith, who headed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President Geoerge W. Bush. “Why isn’t he sticking up for the department?”

Many prosecutors say Sessions’ tepid response is deflating morale among department employees and has increased fears prosecutors cannot depend on protection from political interference.

“Attorneys general swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not the president,” said Matthew Axelrod, a former Justice Department official who is a partner at Linklaters. “Institutions like the DOJ rely on their leaders to be a voice that defends them. It’s critically important to this institution that its leadership have its back.”

Although the Business Insider reported Sessions did praise his second-in-command Rod Rosenstein hours before the disputed Devin Nunes memo was released Friday by saying he represents “the kind of quality and leadership we want in the department” and he had “great confidence in the men and women of this department,” many commentators said that backing was quite meager when he added, “But no department is perfect.”

One such previous example often cited of far more courageous and strong backing is when ailing attorney general John Ashcroft from his hospital bed allowed his acting replacement, James Comey, to defy the Bush administration over a surveillance program that Justice Department lawyers had called unconstitutional.

Sessions, who has been heavily and publicly criticized by Trump in the past year, declined to comment to the Times.

“Sessions’ silence is evidence that Trump’s public neutering of anyone close to this investigation is working,” said Paul Pelletier, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia who was a long-time federal prosecutor. “It is deleterious to the whole criminal justice process.”

***************************************

The law enforcement community might have thought that they were getting a strong defender/advocate in the right-winger Sessions. After all, he’s out to bust those recreational legalized marijuana users and hard-working maids and janitors who have been in the U.S. without documents for decades waiting for the immigration reform that never came because he helped block it in the Senate.

But, what they actually got was a disingenuous “Gonzo Apocalypto” White Nationalist interested primarily in advancing his racially inspired agenda at the expense of the U.S. justice system and anyone who might stand in the way. Oh yeah, and a guy who is also very interested in “covering his own tail.” That’s why he didn’t hesitate to hire DC Lawyer Chuck Cooper to defend him once his continuing “memory lapses” came to light in the Russia investigation and things started “hitting the fan.”

A guy with no time for the rights of African-Americans Latinos, Immigrants, LGBTQ Americans, women, or apparently his subordinates and employees at the DOJ seems to have an excellent sense of his own rights and self-preservation. And, he isn’t so silent when it comes to an opportunity for slandering and diminishing the achievements of DACA recipients, Immigrants, sanctuary cities, asylum seekers, or people of color who are supposed to be entitled to justice and protection from his more or less “Whites only” DOJ.

PWS

02-06-18

 

TIMOTHY EAGAN @ NYT: “The Stormy Daniels Presidency” — She’s Probably Smarter, No More Dishonest, Less Biased, & A Heck Of A Lot More “Transparent” Than The Trumpster!”

Eagan writes:

“Well before The Wall Street Journal reported that a porn star with the meteorological name of Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about sex with Donald Trump, it was clear that a bigger and more crass proposition would be emerging from the White House.
Going into the midterm elections, Trump is offering this deal to his supporters: Say nothing about the lies, the bullying, the accusations of sexual misconduct from more than a dozen women, the undermining of the rule of law, the abdication of basic decency — and in turn he will make you rich.
Essentially, it’s a payoff. Trump himself has framed it this way. When asked about his coming health exam last month, he said, “It better go well, otherwise the stock market will not be happy.” He used the same phrase when talking about his hard-line position on immigration.
Both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton oversaw spectacular gains in the stock market — among the best in history. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 227 percent during Clinton’s eight years and 149 percent under Obama.
Yet, neither of those men held the market out as hostage to a backward agenda and a deranged personality. Trump is running a bottom-line presidency — as soulless as a Kremlin bot on Facebook — in which people who know better are asked to stay quiet in exchange for a short-term payoff.
Modern presidents, dating at least to Ronald Reagan, have urged voters to ask one question going into pivotal elections: Are you better off than you were before? It’s a reasonable standard. But it has never been the leverage for allowing a democracy to collapse.
You heard some uplifting words during the State of the Union address, words with all the staying power of vapor from a sewage vent. But a more honest assessment of what this presidency represents came from Trump when he was in his element, surrounded by Mar-a-Lago cronies. “You all just got a lot richer,” he told a bejeweled and pink-faced crowd just a few hours after signing the $1.5 trillion tax cut in December.
Even as Trump spoke before Congress on Tuesday, he monetized the speech, with donors paying to have their name live-streamed across a Trump campaign web page.
A cartoon in Politico showed a naked Trump with a king’s crown and a golf club walking down a red carpet. “I know, I know,” one man says to another. “Just keep thinking about your stock portfolio.”
The question for those yet to join the enablers is: What’s the price — a record stock market in which 10 percent of Americans own 84 percent of the market wealth, a tax cut that burdens the working poor in years to come — for saying nothing?
Evangelical Christians were among the first to sign on to a Stormy Daniels proposition. In the infamous words of Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, Trump gets a “do-over” for the infidelity allegation. Yes, because nothing says family values like a thrice-married man who allegedly cheats on his latest wife just after she gives birth to their son. And Pat Robertson, the mush-headed moralist who still fogs up many a television screen with his gaseous utterances, told Trump last summer, “I’m so proud of everything you’re doing.”
For these self-appointed guardians of the soul, the bargain is bigger than 30 pieces of silver: It’s a promise that Trump will continue to protect their tax-exempt empires, in the name of religious freedom.
For Republicans in Congress, the pact is more consequential. They will ignore the pleadings of career law enforcement officials in order to stoke fantasies of a deep-state coup against the president. These politicians are counting on a base that will look the other way as they undermine Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian tampering with the election.
It’s a good bet. After Trump called the American justice system “a joke” and “a laughingstock,” after he fired the F.B.I. director because he would not pledge loyalty to him, after he told another top lawman that his wife was “a loser,” after he referred to members of the intelligence community as “political hacks,” it was all quiet on the Republican front.
He can falsely say that his State of the Union speech drew the highest audience in history — in fact, it ranked ninth since 1993 — because this president has told more than 2,000 lies in a year and hasn’t been called out for them by the people who signed on to silence.
But what happens if the bargain crumbles? What if the market tanks — as the Dow did in losing more than 500 points a few days ago? Do the sycophants bail? Or do they hold out for something more — like the lobbyists now drafting legislation and gutting regulations that affect the companies that pay them?
Beware, those of you who have made your deal with the Stormy Daniels presidency. You can take your settlement money — as the people who signed up for the fraudulent Trump University did — but you still got suckered.
I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@nytegan).”

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The lack of values, intellectual honesty, and common decency from the GOP and the so-called “Evangelical right” (not much recognizable Christianity in their words and actions) is stunning, but, unfortunately, not  very surprising.

PWS

02-03-18

 

 

MATTHEW NUSSBAUM @ POLITICO: WILL VLADI EVER GET TIRED OF WINNING? – NOT LIKELY IF THE “PUPPET PRESIDENT,” “AGENT DEVON,” AND VLADI’S GOP “FELLOW TRAVELERS” HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT! — “This memo just plays right into that. … This is exactly what Putin had in mind.”

Matthew Nussbaum reports:

POLITICO

The Nunes memo and Putin’s long game

imageMatthew Nussbaum

Vladimir Putin might get tired of winning. Ever since the U.S. intelligence community discovered the Russian operation to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and aid President Donald Trump’s victory, some Republicans have been laboring to undermine…

READ ON POLITICO.COM

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The greatest threat to American democracy doesn’t come from abroad or even from MS-13. No, it comes from the GOP “dupes and stooges” that were (remarkably) elected to protect our country, as it turns out, from themselves! But, their desire to protect and further their own kleptocracy dwarfs any small amount of allegiance they might have to the “common good.”
Will Putin be able to “close the deal” before American voters finally wake up to the danger they have elected?
PWS
02-03-18

Michael Paarlberg @ THE GUARDIAN: HOW WACKO & COUNTERPRODUCTIVE IS TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT? — Who Screws Their Friends & Productive Residents While Empowering Multinational Gangs? — “[MS-13] can’t really be described accurately as a single gang but is rather a network of gangs with little centralized authority and a franchised name, whose street value only increases with each press conference by Trump and Sessions. . . . There aren’t many beneficiaries of Trump’s immigration policy, but there’s at least one: MS-13 couldn’t have asked for a better president than Trump.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/02/trump-immigration-bogeymen-ms-13-chain-migration?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Paarlberg writes:

“In 1968, a British Conservative politician, Enoch Powell, made what became known as his “Rivers of Blood” speech. In it, he sounded an alarm about what he imagined to be an unchecked immigrant invasion of the United Kingdom, at a time when the country’s immigrant population had only grown from 5 to 6% in the previous decade.

Crime was low, less than one homicide per 100,000 residents, a tenth the rate of the US. Quoting a constituent, he foresaw the day when “the black man will have the whip hand over the white man”. In subsequent decades, immigration slowly inched upwards, but the scenario Powell envisioned failed to materialize.

Half a century later, we Americans live in a Powellesque moment in which politicians’ hysterical rhetoric surrounding immigration is completely at odds with the facts. President Trump, giving his own Rivers of Blood speech on Tuesday, painted a grim picture of a wave of hardened criminal immigrants, exploiting diversity visas and “chain migration”, running around the country murdering people left and right.

In reality, illegal immigration to the US is down, not up. Trump would like to take credit for this with his tough talk about walls, rapists, and “bad hombres” from Mexico, but the number of unauthorized immigrants in the country has been falling for the past decade, due not to xenophobic bluster but the Great Recession.

Net migration from Mexico is currently negative: more Mexicans are leaving the US than coming in, and have been doing so since the end of the Bush administration. In coming decades, most new immigrants to the US will not be from Latin America at all, but from China and India.

Violent crime, too, is down, way down: FBI statistics show violent crimes are just half of what they were in the early 90s. Trump would have you believe that immigrants are responsible for “tremendous amounts of crime”, but research shows immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans.

In fact, it started in Los Angeles in the 1980s, was originally made up of adolescent stoners who listened to heavy metal, and only grew into a much larger and more vicious, officially designated “transnational gang” thanks to mass criminal deportations by the Clinton administration to poor countries that were ill-equipped to deal with the influx.

It can’t really be described accurately as a single gang but is rather a network of gangs with little centralized authority and a franchised name, whose street value only increases with each press conference by Trump and Sessions. And for all the hype, MS-13 is a relatively small player here. Its estimated US membership has remained constant for the past decade at around 10,000, or less than 1% of the 1.4 million gang members in the US: far smaller than the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, or Aryan Brotherhood.

Even the face tattoo image is out of date; MS cliques have been discouraging members from getting them after belatedly realizing it makes them easy to identify by police.

As for the origins of this nonexistent immigrant crime wave, Trump blames “chain migration”, the more menacing nativist buzzword for family reunification, the principle on which our immigration laws are founded.

“Chain migration” is actually a conservative idea: the Immigration and Nationality Act, which was passed in 1965, was sold to immigration restrictionists as a law which would preserve mostly white immigration while doing away with the overtly racist, eugenics-inspired quota laws it replaced. Because by 1965, most immigrants to the US were from Europe, it was assumed that giving preference to family members of current immigrants would restrict immigration from other parts of the world.

After all, it is a policy which upholds the family as a unit. Families, conservatives argued, were preferable to single men. They encourage stable employment, homeownership, participation in the community, and provide a source of private, non-state welfare for needy relatives. Families are what keeps people out of trouble, the kind Trump imagines immigrants are getting into, and which may actually happen if he succeeds in taking away this base of support.

It wouldn’t be the first time US immigration policy had the opposite of its intended effect, from Johnson’s 1965 immigration law to Clinton’s criminal deportations. Similarly, Trump’s recent decision to revoke TPS protection for over 200,000 legal immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador will only increase the number of unauthorized immigrants and lead to more unauthorized immigration in the future: mass deportations mean a loss of cash remittances from those immigrants to countries whose economies are heavily dependent on them, which will only worsen unemployment and send more migrants north.

Breaking up families also creates the conditions of insecurity under which predatory gangs thrive. In Central America, deportations from the US give gangs a new vulnerable population to recruit from. In the US, the loss of family networks and raids which push migrants into the shadows give them a new vulnerable population to extort. There aren’t many beneficiaries of Trump’s immigration policy, but there’s at least one: MS-13 couldn’t have asked for a better president than Trump.”

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Pretty much what I’ve been saying all along! With their toxic mixture of ignorance, arrogance, incompetence, bias, White Nationalism, and racism, Trump, Sessions, Miller, and their sycophantic followers have been destroying American communities, weakening and dissolving American society, and empowering our enemies, foreign and domestic! Other than that, they’re a great bunch of guys.

The only folks happier than MS-13 about the Trump/Sessions regime and their “sell-out” of America and American values are Vladi Putin and his Oligarchs.

PWS

02-02-18

JAMELLE BOUIE @ SLATE: TRUMP, SESSIONS, MILLER & THE GOP RESTRICTIONISTS HAVE PUT GOOD OL’ 1920S RACISM AT THE FOREFRONT OF THEIR WHITE NATIONALIST IMMIGRATION AGENDA! –“What good does it do to bring in somebody who’s illiterate in their own country, has no skills, and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful? . . . That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it.” — J. “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Attorney General of the United States of America & Unapologetic White Nationalist With A Long History Of Racism!

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/the-nativist-blueprint-for-trumps-immigration-plan.html

Jamelle writes in Slate:

“State of the Union on Tuesday night, “one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.”

The president and his allies claim such an immigration policy would promote cohesion and unity among Americans “and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.” Far from forward-facing, however, the president’s policies evoke the beginning of the 20th century, when war abroad and opportunity at home brought waves of immigrants to the United States, from Italians, Polish, and Russians to Chinese and Japanese. Their arrival sparked a backlash from those who feared what these newcomers might mean for white supremacy and the privileged position of white, Anglo-Saxon Americans. Those fears coalesced into a movement for “American homogeneity,” and a drive to achieve it by closing off America’s borders to all but a select group of immigrants. This culminated in 1924 with the Johnson-Reed Act, which sharply restricted immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe and all but banned it from much of Asia.

Members of the Trump administration have praised the Johnson-Reed Act for its severe restrictions on who could enter the country, and the act’s history helps illuminate what exactly Trump means when he says he wants to put “America first.”

The cohesion Trump espouses isn’t national or ideological. It is racial. The fight over immigration isn’t between two camps who value the contributions of immigrants and simply quibble over the mix and composition of entrants to the United States. It is between a camp that values immigrants and seeks to protect the broader American tradition of inclusion, and one that rejects this openness in favor of a darker legacy of exclusion. And in the current moment, it is the restrictionists who are the loudest and most influential voices, and their concerns are driving the terms of the debate.

At the heart of the nativist idea is a fear of foreign influence, that some force originating abroad threatens to undermine the bonds that hold America together. What critics condemned as “Know Nothing-ism” in the 19th century, adherents called Americanism. “The grand work of the American party,” said one nativist journal in 1855, “is the principle of nationality … we must do something to protect and vindicate it. If we do not, it will be destroyed.”

In the first decades of the 20th century, the defense of “the principle of nationality” took several forms. At the level of mass politics, it meant a retooled and reinvigorated Ku Klux Klan with a membership in the millions, whose new incarnation was as committed to anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, and anti-Semitic politics as it was to its traditional anti-black racism. In Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, historian Nancy MacLean notes how Georgia Klan leader William Joseph Simmons warned his followers that they were, in his words, “being crowded out by a “mongrel population … organized into Ghettos and Communistic groups … and uplifting a red flag as their insignia of war.” Likewise, Klan leaders and publications blasted Catholic immigrants as “European riff-raff” and “slaves of ignorance and vice” who threatened to degrade the country at the same time that they allegedly undermined native-born white workers. When, in 1923 and 1924, Congress was debating the Johnson-Reed Act, the Klan organized a letter-writing campaign to help secure its passage, turning its rhetoric into political action.

At the elite level, it meant the growth of an intellectual case for nativism, one built on a foundation of eugenics and “race science.” Prominent scholars like Madison Grant (The Passing of the Great Race) and Lothrop Stoddard (The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy) penned books and delivered lectures across the country, warning of a world in which “Nordic superiority” was supplanted by those of so-called inferior stock. “What is the greatest danger which threatens the American republic today?” asked eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn in the preface to Grant’s book. “I would certainly reply: The gradual dying out among our people of those hereditary traits through which the principles of our religious, political and social foundations were laid down and their insidious replacement by traits of less noble character.” The aim of the nativists was to preserve those traits and admit for entry only those immigrants who could fully and easily assimilate into them.

. . . .

It is true that there are some more moderate restrictionists in the mix, for whom the drive to reduce legal immigration is driven by concern and prudence—concern over immigration’s impact on wage and employment, especially among the country’s working-class citizens, and prudence regarding our ability to assimilate and absorb new arrivals.

The facts do not support these misgivings. Low-skilled immigration does more to bolster prospects for working-class Americans—providing complementary employment to construction and farm labor—than it does to lower wages. Likewise, immigrants to the United States have shown a remarkable capacity for assimilation, quickly integrating themselves into the fabric of American life by building homes, businesses, and families. To the extent that native-born workers need protection, it’s best provided by stronger unions and more generous support from the government.

But those moderate voices aren’t setting the agenda. Instead, it’s the hardliners who have used their initiative to inject nativism into mainstream politics and channel, in attenuated form, the attitudes that produced the 1924 law. President Trump, for example, ties Hispanic immigrants to crime and disorder, blaming their presence for gang violence. He attributes terror attacks committed by Muslim immigrants to the “visa lottery and chain migration” that supposedly allows them unfettered access to American targets. And in a recent meeting with Democratic and Republican lawmakers, Trump disparaged Haiti and various African nations as “shitholes” (or “shithouses”) whose immigrants should be turned away from the country in favor of those from European countries, like Norway. It’s unclear if Trump is aware of Rep. Albert Johnson, who spearheaded the 1924 immigration law. But in his racial ranking of immigrants, the president echoed the congressman’s sentiments. “The day of unalloyed welcome to all peoples, the day of indiscriminate acceptance of all races, has definitely ended,” proclaimed Johnson on the passage of the bill that bore his name.

The president isn’t alone in his views. Before joining the Trump administration, former White House adviser Stephen Bannon openly opposed nonwhite immigration on the grounds that it threatened the integrity of Western nations. And while Bannon has been exiled from Trump’s orbit, that legacy lives on. Stephen Miller, who is now the driving force behind immigration policy in the Trump administration, is a notorious hardliner who has echoed Bannon’s views, bemoaning the number of foreign-born people in the United States.

Miller is the former communications director for and protégé of Jeff Sessions, who as Alabama’s senator praised the Johnson-Reed Act and its restrictions on foreign-born Americans. “When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy, and it slowed down immigration significantly,” Sessions said in a 2015 interview with Bannon. “We then assimilated through the 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America.”

As attorney general, Sessions has leaned in to these views. “What good does it do to bring in somebody who’s illiterate in their own country, has no skills, and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful?” said Sessions during a recent interview on Fox News. “That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it.” Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a staunch defender of Trump, is especially blunt in his defense of hardline immigration policies. “Assimilation, not diversity, is our American strength,” he said on Twitter last year.

Assimilation in those middle decades of the 20th century was built, to a considerable extent, on racial exclusion. It was assimilation into whiteness, one which bolstered and preserved the racial status quo. There’s no return to the America of that era, but one could slow the nation’s demographic transition. The White House proposals for immigration reform seem designed to do just that. According to an analysis from the Cato Institute, President Trump’s framework for immigration would slash entries by 44 percent, excluding almost 22 million people from the United States over the next 50 years. And in an analysis tied to the “Securing America’s Future Act”—a House-produced bill which hews closely to what the president wants—the Center for Global Development finds that white immigrants would be twice as likely to attain entry into the United States than black and Hispanic ones, while a majority of Muslim and Catholic immigrants would be barred from the country. Couple these measures with voter suppression, a biased census, apportionment by citizenship, extreme gerrymandering, and the existing dominance of rural counties in national politics, and you can essentially rig the system for the preservation of white racial hegemony.

Immigration policy is inextricably tied to our nation’s self-identity. What we choose to do reflects the traditions we seek to uphold. In the 1920s, most Americans wanted a more homogenous country, and they chose accordingly. Forty years later, in the midst of the civil rights revolution and a powerful ethos of inclusion, Americans reversed course, opening our borders to millions of people from across the globe. In this moment, we have two options. We can once again take the path that wants to keep “America for Americans,” and which inevitably casts American-ness in ways circumscribed by race, origin, and religion. Or we could try to realize our cosmopolitan faith, that tradition of universalism which elevates the egalitarian ideals of the Founding, and which seeks to define our diversity of origins as a powerful strength, not a weakness to overcome.

portrait of Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is Slate’s chief political correspondent.”

*****************************************

Read the complete article, with more historical references to the racist historical basis for today’s GOP restrictionist policies, at the link.

Actually, “Gonzo Apocalypto,” most of those Latino, African, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern immigrants that you look down upon and disrespect aren’t illiterate in their own countries. And, they probably speak and understand English better than you do their native languages.

While you, Gonzo, have spent most of your adult life on the “public dole,” trying to turn back the clock and, as far as I can see, doing things of questionable overall value to society, immigrants have been working hard at critical jobs, at all levels of our society, that you and your White Nationalist buddies couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to do. Hard-working immigrants, not your “White Nationalist Myth,” have advanced America in the latter half of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century. Immigrants will continue to make America stong, prosperous, and great, if you and your White Nationalist restrictionist cronies would only get out of the way of progress!

“We can once again take the path that wants to keep “America for Americans,” and which inevitably casts American-ness in ways circumscribed by race, origin, and religion. Or we could try to realize our cosmopolitan faith, that tradition of universalism which elevates the egalitarian ideals of the Founding, and which seeks to define our diversity of origins as a powerful strength, not a weakness to overcome.”

Right on, Jamelle!

PWS

02-02-18

JRUBE: GOP “PARTY OF PUTIN” OUT OF CONTROL!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/02/01/the-nunes-fiasco-grows-more-outrageous-by-the-hour/

Jennifer Rubin writes in “Right Turn” in the Washington Post:

The Post reports:

The long-simmering feud between President Trump and the Justice Department erupted into open conflict Wednesday when the FBI publicly challenged the president’s expected release of a contentious and classified memo related to the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In a rare unsigned statement, the FBI cited “grave concerns” with inaccuracies and omissions in the four-page memo, which was written by House Republicans and alleges abuses at the Justice Department connected to secret surveillance orders. Trump has told advisers that the memo could benefit him by undercutting the special counsel’s investigation and allow him to oust senior Justice Department officials — and that he wants it released soon, something that could happen as early as Thursday.

“We have grave concerns about the material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” the FBI said. …

The memo in dispute was written by staffers for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) earlier in January after the panel obtained documents related to a controversial dossier of allegations concerning Trump and his purported ties to Kremlin officials.

We cannot stress enough just how bizarre and outrageous is the Nunes scheme. FBI Director Christopher Wray, appointed by Trump, and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, also appointed by Trump, have warned the president that disclosure of the memo would do great damage to American national security. The FBI publicly has, in essence, said the Nunes memo is misleading. And despite all that, the president plans to allow the release of the memo, which has one purpose only: to discredit and hobble the FBI and the Justice Department that are investigating the president. Bluntly put, Trump and Nunes surely seem to be acting with corrupt intent to taint the investigators in order to help Trump escape the legal and political consequences of possible wrongdoing.

2:24
What is the Nunes memo?

Created by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the four-page memo is critical of the Justice Department and the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation. (Video: Victoria Walker/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Wednesday night, events got even weirder. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, released a letter he sent to Nunes accusing Nunes of altering the memo the committee voted to release before Nunes sent it to the White House. Schiff wrote:

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Because there were material changes made to the document unbeknownst to Committee Members and only revealed to us this evening, two days after the vote, there is no longer a valid basis for the White House to review the altered document, since this new version is not the same document shared with the entire House and on which Committee Members voted.

It is now imperative that the Committee Majority immediately withdraw the document that it sent to the White House. If the Majority remains intent on releasing its document to the public, despite repeated warnings from DOJ and the FBI, it must hold a new vote to release to the public its modified document. This can be done at the business meeting on Monday, February 5, 2018 when we will move, once again, to release the Minority’s responsive memorandum, which House Members have now had the opportunity to read.

Schiff’s letter is unlikely to alter Nunes and the White House’s plans to release the memo on Thursday, but it does once more expose Nunes’s sleazy, dishonest behavior. Nunes has managed — just as he did in the phony “unmasking” scandal — to mitigate the impact of his own scheme. It’s hard to take seriously a convoluted conspiracy theory coming from someone who trips over his own feet with such regularity.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) then weighed in. “It’s clear that Chairman Nunes will seemingly stop at nothing to undermine the rule of law and interfere with the Russia probe,” he said in a written statement. “He’s been willing to carry the White House’s water, attack our law enforcement and intelligence officials, and now to mislead his House colleagues. If Speaker [Paul] Ryan cares about the integrity of the House or the rule of law, he will put an end to this charade once and for all.”

Ryan, however, has been part of the problem. It is fully within his power as House speaker to remove Nunes as chairman and to signal to Republicans that the institution (Congress, in this case), the party, the intelligence community and the country would not be served by Nunes’s stunt. Instead, Ryan threw a few logs on the bonfire by suggesting that the FBI needed to be cleansed, which sounds an awful lot like a politically minded purge.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who seems more and more to be in the wrong party, denounced Republicans’ antics. “These attacks on these institutions like we’re seeing now with the FBI and the Justice Department — I mean, these are things that they’re hallmarks of our country,” he said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “And as we erode them or create enormous doubts in the minds of Americans that there’s anything we can trust … it gets us in trouble.”

If Democrats ever needed proof for the midterms that the GOP is a threat to national security and is unfit to govern, this should do it. The Republicans cannot with a straight face claim to be the party of national security while carrying on in such fashion. And even if a congressman in Iowa or Michigan were to say he played no part in Nunes’s conduct, his or her reelection by definition would help return Nunes to the intelligence committee chairmanship and Ryan to the speakership. In short, Democrats can argue that if you vote for anyone with an “R” after his or her name, you are voting to hobble the FBI, expose our secrets to our enemies and help Trump escape the consequences of possible wrongdoing. Talk about a winning message.

************************

So, “Vladi’s Not So Secret Agent” Devon Nunes (R-Moscow) and his Fellow Travelers want to attack our democratic institutions of justice!

Here’s what we know for sure:

  • Russia tried to interfere with our 2016 Presidential election.
  • Vladimir Putin hated Hillary Clinton.
  • Russia plans to interfere with our 2018 elections.
  • Several individuals close to the Trump Campaign, including former “National Security Director” General Mike Flynn lied to the FBI about their Russian connections.
  • Former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort faces Federal criminal charges for lying about his Russian connections.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions “forgot several times under oath” about various Russian contacts.
  • Donald Trump is a known liar.
  • Nunes & Trump plan to release a classified GOP propaganda memo over the national security objections of the Deputy AG and the FBI Director appointed by Trump.

Sure looks like 1) our national security is at risk, and 2) there are connections between Russians and various Trump campaign officials that those individuals went to the trouble of lying (or “forgetting”) under oath to hide.

But, do the “Party of Putin” and “Agent Nunes” want to get to the bottom of this? No way! Instead, they want to protect their sleazy President even at the cost of our national security and our democratic institutions!

Every time Trump and the GOP disingenuously talk about “protecting national security,” what they really mean is protecting themselves and their corrupt President from the truth.

By far, the biggest threat to our national security and  indeed to our continued existence as a nation, resides right in plain view at 1600 Pennsylvania, Avenue, Washington, D.C. When, if ever, will we wise up?

PWS

02-01-18

LA TIMES: VLADI’S “NOT SO SECRET AGENT” DEVON NUNES (R-CA) DELIVERS AGAIN! – Bogus Attack On U.S. Institutions & Deflection From Russian Meddling Investigation Exceeds Putin’s Expectations For Destroying American Democracy!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=931a545e-7bbc-45a3-9e6c-7b9d7c136452

From the LA Times Editorial Board:

“Devin Nunes strikes again

For months, some Republicans in Congress have been itching to give cover to President Trump’s complaint that the investigation into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign is a politically motivated “witch hunt.” On Monday, the majority of the House Intelligence Committee put that shameful strategy into practice.

The panel voted along party lines to make public a ballyhooed memo purporting to show that the investigation now being pursued by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III was tainted from the beginning by partisan bias. The White House can refuse, but Trump has signaled that he wants the document released despite opposition from his own Justice Department.

We welcome any effort by Congress to be genuinely transparent, especially on controversial and polarizing issues. But this move falls short of genuine transparency.

The panel’s Republican majority rejected a proposal to simultaneously release a dissenting document prepared by committee Democrats, who have dismissed the Republican memo as a “misleading set of talking points.” The Democrats’ response will be viewed by House members and could be released later — after the Republicans’ spin on the underlying classified information has dominated a few news cycles.

Nor is the committee seeking to release the actual documents used in the case. Instead, the memo provides an interpretation of those documents prepared under the direction of California’s own Rep. Devin Nunes, the committee chairman.

We haven’t seen the memo, but Republicans who have read it have described it in sensational terms that makes it clear that it will be music to Trump’s ears. The memo reportedly asserts that an application for a court order to conduct surveillance on a Trump campaign advisor, Carter Page, drew on information from Christopher Steele, a former British spy who created the now notorious “dossier” about alleged contacts between Trump and Russia that was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. But the fact that Steele’s research might have been part of the basis for the court order doesn’t mean that other matters weren’t cited in the application to the court or that subsequent investigations were unjustified.

Moreover, Nunes’ involvement in this project undermines its credibility. Last year, the Republican from Tulare pushed a bogus “unmasking” scandal that sought to shift the public’s focus away from the evidence of Russian meddling in the U.S. election. That bit of freelancing led to him recusing himself from the panel’s probe.

The underlying allegations being investigated by Congress and by Mueller are as serious as can be. It’s alarming and infuriating that a foreign government may have sought to subvert our elections — and it’s even more outrageous that a candidate might possibly participate in such subversion. Accusations this grave need to be investigated and considered objectively, carefully and without fear or favor. The idea that either party or both would turn such serious issues into opportunities for partisan gain or gamesmanship is a sign of how dysfunctional and amoral Washington has become.”

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A bad week for America = a great week for Vladimir Putin and his Oligarchs!

Who would have thought that the party that saw the “Red Menace” under every bed in America when I was growing up would so eagerly “leap into bed” with our old (not really “reformed”) KGB menace Putin in an effort to discredit the FBI, the DOJ, the American Intelligence Community, and our Courts, all to preserve a congenital liar and “Putin sell-out” who happens to occupy our White House! Amazing, sports fans!

PWS

01-31-18

STATE OF DISUNION! — TRUMP TRASHES IMMIGRANTS, THREATENS TO DESTROY CIVIL SERVICE — “[A] Flabby, Divisive Speech” From A “Shell President!”

//wapo.st/2npUucB?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.310b0dd6e5ef

E.J. Dionne, Jr., in the Washington Post:

“President Trump leaned heavily on the stories of American heroes in his State of the Union address Tuesday night because he didn’t have much else to say. From the Coast Guard, the fire departments, the shop floor and many other quarters they came, providing structural support for a flabby speech that was one of the least adventurous and forward-looking efforts of its kind. Without the heroes, there would hardly have been any speech at all.

And while Trump opened his speech by calling on Americans “to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground,” he kept coming back to the most divisive themes of his presidency — from “chain migration” and highlighting the role of immigrants in criminality to his calls for all to stand for the flag. Trump did not so much ask his domestic adversaries to set aside their differences as to abandon their own views. Nothing in this speech will inspire his critics with new hope that Trump is serious about negotiating anything.

Trump bragged, of course, about his tax cuts, the economy, the stock market and slashing regulations. At moments, he even sounded as though he believed in activist government, calling on the country to “invest in job training,” “open great vocational schools” and to support “paid family leave.” But there were no specifics, no sense of how budgets, strained by the very tax cuts he extolled, would actually support these objectives. Words without concrete programs are words without deeds.

Similarly, he asked Congress “to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment our country so desperately needs.” Notice the squirrely wording — “that generates.” He didn’t say that the plan his administration has been working on would put up only $200 billion of that big number and rely either on state and local governments or private investors to provide the rest.

And as Paul Waldman noted on The Post’s Plum Line blog, the focus on private investment would “naturally privilege projects that can generate a profit for private companies, which probably won’t be the most sorely needed upgrades.” The Trump plan would do little for the hurting parts of the country that supported Trump in 2016. Again, words without deeds.

There was one passage that did suggest a real change that Trump would seek, and it was an alarming idea.

“All Americans deserve accountability and respect. And that’s what we are giving to our wonderful heroes our veterans,” Trump said. “So tonight, I call on Congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

This sounded like an attack on the entire civil service system. It sounded like a demand by Trump that he and those who work for him have the right to fire federal employees whenever he or they feel like it. Perhaps this idea will come with safeguards, perhaps not. Trump didn’t say.

And the alarm this idea inspired among all who are not sold on Trump reflected the fundamental failure of the address. Trump rose before Congress in the shadow of an investigation into Russian collusion in our elections that he and his allies in Congress are doing all in their power to attack, discredit and obstruct.

This call to broaden Trump’s right to fire brought to mind what the president did to then-FBI Director James B. Comey and might do to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Nothing in this speech transformed the public conversation in a way that lessened the burden of scandal. Nothing suggested any change in Trump’s behavior that might lead him to govern less divisively.

Yes, we cheered the heroes. They remind us of what is good in our country. Alas, their selflessness stands in stark contrast to our politics in the Trump era.”

*********************************

Will America really be able to withstand three more years of this incompetent and immoral man occupying (without truly filling) the highest office in our country? Will our public institutions really be able to withstand continuing attacks by spectacularly unqualified cabinet members and a GOP that feels more kinship to Putin’s Russia than it does to the majority of Americans? Will whatever emerges from this national nightmare and mockery of the “American Dream” be something that only White Nationalists and oligarchs will recognize?

Oh yeah, the Federal Civil Service and some courageous and dedicated Civil Servants are the only things holding our Federal Government together right now! Once that’s transformed into a haven for incompetent political hacks (see Trump’s White House staff & Cabinet appointments) the descent into the abyss will be rapid and, perhaps, irreversible.

Stay tuned!

In addition to the “Trump blather,” there was some “real news” coming from Washington last night. After years of drama, the Washington Redskins will part ways with QB Kirk Cousins. They signed a 4-year, $71 million deal with Alex Smith (lately of the KC Chiefs). Smith, a 13-yr. vet and 3-time Pro Bowler, was the NFL’s top-rated QB last year.

I always liked Kirk at MSU (except when he was beating my Badgers) and Washington. He’ll be a spectacular addition to any team, and I wish him well (except when he plays the Packers or Washington)! I hope he gets a ton of money and some better pass protection, receivers, and defense than he had with Washington.

PWS

01-31-18

PUTIN’S PATSIES: GOP RAMPS UP PLAN TO OBSTRUCT JUSTICE AT JUSTICE – With McCabe Ousted, DAG Rosenstein Appears To Be Next Target In GOP’s Move To Subvert American Government!

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/28/us/politics/rod-rosenstein-carter-page-secret-memo.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

“WASHINGTON — A secret, highly contentious Republican memo reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved an application to extend surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate shortly after taking office last spring, according to three people familiar with it.

The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent. But the reference to Mr. Rosenstein’s actions in the memo — a much-disputed document that paints the investigation into Russian election meddling as tainted from the start — indicates that Republicans may be moving to seize on his role as they seek to undermine the inquiry.

The memo’s primary contention is that F.B.I. and Justice Department officials failed to adequately explain to an intelligence court judge in initially seeking a warrant for surveillance of Mr. Page that they were relying in part on research by an investigator, Christopher Steele, that had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Democrats who have read the document say Republicans have cherry-picked facts to create a misleading and dangerous narrative. But in their efforts to discredit the inquiry, Republicans could potentially use Mr. Rosenstein’s decision to approve the renewal to suggest that he failed to properly vet a highly sensitive application for a warrant to spy on Mr. Page, who served as a Trump foreign policy adviser until September 2016.

A handful of senior Justice Department officials can approve an application to the secret surveillance court, but in practice that responsibility often falls to the deputy attorney general. No information has publicly emerged that the Justice Department or the F.B.I. did anything improper while seeking the surveillance warrant involving Mr. Page.

Mr. Trump has long been mistrustful of Mr. Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, who appointed the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and now oversees his investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and possible obstruction of justice by the president. Mr. Trump considered firing Mr. Rosenstein last summer. Instead, he ordered Mr. Mueller to be fired, then backed down after the White House counsel refused to carry out the order, The New York Times reported last week.

Mr. Trump is now again telling associates that he is frustrated with Mr. Rosenstein, according to one official familiar with the conversations.

It is difficult to judge whether Republicans’ criticism of the surveillance has merit. Although House members have been allowed to view the Republican memo in a secure setting, both that memo and a Democratic one in rebuttal remain shrouded in secrecy. And the applications to obtain and renew the warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are even more closely held. Only a small handful of members of Congress and staff members have reviewed them.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, whose staff wrote the memo, could vote as early as Monday, using an obscure House rule, to effectively declassify its contents and make it available to the public. Mr. Trump would have five days to try to block their effort, potentially setting up a high-stakes standoff between the president and his Justice Department, which opposes its immediate release.

The White House has made clear to the Justice Department in recent days that it wants the Republican memo to be made public. Asked about the issue on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Marc Short, the White House’s head of legislative affairs, said that if the memo outlined serious concerns, “the American people should know that.”

But Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, warned in a letter last week to the committee’s chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release a memo drawing on classified information without official review and pleaded with the committee to consult the Justice Department. He said the department was “unaware of any wrongdoing related to the FISA process.”

To obtain the warrant involving Mr. Page, the government needed to show probable cause that he was acting as an agent of Russia. Once investigators get approval from the Justice Department for a warrant, prosecutors take it to a surveillance court judge, who decides whether to approve it.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment, and a spokesman for Mr. Nunes did not reply to requests for comment. The people familiar with the contents of the memo spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details remained secret.

A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said in a statement: “The president has been clear publicly and privately that he wants absolute transparency throughout this process. Based on numerous news reports, top officials at the F.B.I. have engaged in conduct that shows bias against President Trump and bias for Hillary Clinton. While President Trump has the utmost respect and support for the rank-and-file members of the F.B.I., the anti-Trump bias at the top levels that appear to have existed is troubling.”

Mr. Page, a former Moscow-based investment banker who later founded an investment company in New York, had been on the F.B.I.’s radar for years. In 2013, an investigation revealed that a Russian spy had tried to recruit him. Mr. Page was never charged with any wrongdoing, and he denied that he would ever have cooperated with Russian intelligence officials.

But a trip Mr. Page took to Russia in July 2016 while working on Mr. Trump’s campaign caught the bureau’s attention again, and American law enforcement officials began conducting surveillance on him in the fall of 2016, shortly after he left the campaign. It is unclear what they learned about Mr. Page between then and when they sought the order’s renewal roughly six months later. It is also unknown whether the surveillance court granted the extension.

The renewal effort came in the late spring, sometime after the Senate confirmed Mr. Rosenstein as the Justice Department’s No. 2 official in late April. Around that time, following Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director in May, Mr. Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller, a former head of the bureau, to take over the department’s Russia investigation. Mr. Rosenstein is overseeing the inquiry because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself.

Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, who is close to Mr. Trump and House Republicans, signaled interest in Mr. Rosenstein this month as news of the memo’s existence first circulated, asking on air if Mr. Rosenstein had played a role in extending the surveillance. “I’m very interested about Rod Rosenstein in all of this,” he said.

In a speech on Friday in Norfolk, Va., Mr. Sessions appeared to wade into the debate. Without mentioning the Republican memo, he said that federal investigations must be free of bias, and that he would not condone “a culture of defensiveness.” While unfair criticism should be rebutted, he added, “it can never be that this department conceals errors when they occur.”

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Man, “Ol’ Vladi P” must wake up with an ear-to-ear grin every single morning! How could it get any better for him!

First, notwithstanding a solid year of totally unpresidential performance, moronic Tweets, intentional divisiveness, blatant lies, wanton environmental destruction, attacks on American’s health, kleptocracy, overt promotion of income inequality, and abandonment of American world leadership, about one-third of American voters love having a puppet (even an evil and incompetent one) for a President! Sometimes in the former “Soviet Satellites” that the old KGB-man loved so much, the “chosen one” never, ever got to that support level!

And, as if that’s not enough, Vladi’s “GOP Fellow Travelers” are busy tearing down the fabric of the American justice system and at the same time insuring that nobody will ever get to the bottom of Vladi’s well-documented attempts to “tank” the American electoral system and the several already-documented (formerly) secret contacts between officials of the Trump campaign and Vladi’s chosen Russian agents.

“Wow,” Vladi’s thinking, “all my predecessors spent all that time, money, and trouble ‘weaponizing,’ building up our military, overthrowing pro-American governments, infiltrating, starting wars in third countries, and supporting terrorists. But, I’ve gotten all of this from the dumb Yanks pretty much for free — just the investment in some basic hacking equipment that most high school kids could have developed in the basement, a few juicy rumors about “HRC,” and some rubles converted to dollars to underwrite some fake “consulting contracts” and I’ve got these guys destroying American democracy and world leadership without me lifting a finger or firing a shot! I’m a genius,” thinks Vladi!

Leaving the question, if Vladi’s a “genius” what does that make us, our elected puppet President, and his enablers?

PWS

01-29-18

 

ELIZABETH BRUENIG @ WASHPOST: TRUMP & THE GOP WHITE NATIONALISTS ARE DECONSTRUCTING AMERICAN SOCIETY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-promised-to-unite-americans-his-policies-leave-us-more-alone-than-ever/2018/01/25/d9b60e62-0155-11e8-bb03-722769454f82_story.html

Bruenig writes:

“At his inauguration, President Trump promised to renew the unity of the American people, claiming that “through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.” Then, Trump seemed intent on creating a reborn civic and social consciousness, and on empowering ordinary people against big government and big money.

And yet, Trump’s administration has ushered in a virulently antisocial politics that dissolves the most basic bonds and leaves individuals powerless against both market and state. Trump, like many populists of the right, gained a foothold by promising that a resurgent nationalism could make people feel cohesive, trusting and strong again. But like his right-leaning populist predecessors, he has offered only the imaginary bonds of nationalism — the illusion of fellow-feeling and homogeneity — even as his policies destroy the real and foundational bonds of family and community in the arenas of health care, immigration, labor and more.

. . . . In its amicus brief in support of unions, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops points out that the destruction of unions based on the loose interpretation of money as speech will render workers weaker than ever before. “Ironically then,” the bishops observe, “a misguided effort to protect one individual from government coercion would leave only individuals to stand against government (or economic) coercion.”

If only that world were really so far away. In reality, it is already here. What unites workfare, the annihilation of DACA and the war on unions is a totalizing individualism — the belief that people are essentially isolated individuals. That we are alone before we are together. That we are more and not less ourselves in total isolation. From that view flow policies that disregard or deny that people are, in fact, embedded in families, communities and industries, and that their bonds and obligations are powerful and ought to be respected and protected by the state. No politics issuing from that view can ever cultivate unity.

What Trump offered as an answer to the aching aloneness of Americans was nationalism, the exchange of an imagined community for actual ones, the promise of a mystic bond with people you’ll never meet even while the ones you know and love are deported, abandoned, dying. It was supposed to bring us together, supposed to make us strong. But his policies stand to leave us more alone than we’ve ever been, and in our solitude, weak.

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Read the rest of Elizabeth’s op-ed at the link.

First, it was Mexicans, Muslims, and undocumented workers. Then came Legal Immigrants, Latinos, African-Americans, LGBTQ individuals, demonstrators, the sick, the poor, women seeking to exercise their constitutional right to abortion, unionists, Liberals, and Democrats. Don’t see YOUR GROUP on the “hit list.” Just wait. It keeps expanding, Folks like Trump and his White Nationalist buddies can’t live without an “enemy of the day” to rally their “base.”

When the GOP White Nationalists decide that YOU no longer fit their image of America, who will be left to stand up for YOUR rights. Harm to the most vulnerable members of our community, and failure to stand up for them, harms and ultimately diminishes the humanity of all of us. And, that’s how free societies are “deconstructed and destroyed.” Stand up for everyone’s rights! Just say no to Trump and his White Nationalist Cabal!

PWS

01-26-18

 

SLEAZE-BALL-IN-CHIEF: TRUMP WANTED TO FIRE MUELLER IN JUNE ON BOGUS GROUNDS — WHITE HOUSE LAWYER’S THREAT TO QUIT STOPPED HIM!

Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman report for the NYT:

“WASHINGTON — President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.
The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel. Mr. Mueller learned about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.
Amid the first wave of news media reports that Mr. Mueller was examining a possible obstruction case, the president began to argue that Mr. Mueller had three conflicts of interest that disqualified him from overseeing the investigation, two of the people said.
First, he claimed that a dispute years ago over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., had prompted Mr. Mueller, the F.B.I. director at the time, to resign his membership. The president also said Mr. Mueller could not be impartial because he had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Finally, the president said, Mr. Mueller had been interviewed to return as the F.B.I. director the day before he was appointed special counsel in May.
After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

More “not-so-bright Third World dictator” than “stable genius.” The minority of Americans who voted for this evil clown have debased our once-great nation! And the GOP continues to enable the destruction of American democracy and values.

PWS

01-26-16

GONZO’S WORLD: APOCALYPSE NOW? – Q&A WITH MUELLER LEAVES SOME WONDERING IF “RULE OF LAW” WILL BE GONZO’S “APOCALYPSE!”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-mueller-probe_us_5a6750ede4b0dc592a0cd71d?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Sarah N. Lynch reports for Reuters in HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned last week by the special counsel’s office investigating potential collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

The interview marked the first time that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office is known to have interviewed a member of Trump’s Cabinet, and is another milestone in an investigation that has hung over Trump’s year-old presidency.

Mueller’s office also interviewed former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey shortly after Trump fired Comey in May 2017, a person familiar with the matter said. Comey’s firing led to Mueller’s appointment by the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, Rod Rosenstein, to take over the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Sessions was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy and served as a campaign adviser before the Republican president appointed him as the top U.S. law enforcement official. Trump has openly criticized Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia probe last March after media reports that he had failed to disclose 2016 meetings with Moscow’s then-ambassador, Sergei Kislyak.

. . . .

Democrats have accused Sessions of lying to Congress by failing to disclose meetings with Kislyak during the campaign. Sessions has now acknowledged meetings with Kislyak including one in his Senate office and another at a event at the Republican National Convention, and did not rule out a “brief interaction” with Kislyak at an event at a Washington hotel.

His public account of other matters related to Russia also has evolved. Sessions initially testified to Congress he was unaware of any Trump campaign contacts with Russia, but in November modified that assertion, saying he was aware of contact between the campaign and Russian intermediaries.

 Sessions has denied lying, saying he was “honest and correct” and not trying to mislead Congress. He has frequently said he has trouble remembering some of the meetings.

Trump fired Comey after Sessions and Rosenstein penned a memo recommending his ouster over his prior handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Clinton was the Democratic presidential candidate who lost to Trump in 2016.

Trump later said he fired Comey over “this Russia thing,” a comment that raised questions about whether he was attempting to obstruct the FBI’s investigation.

Sessions’ participation in a March 31, 2016, meeting of Trump’s national security campaign advisers could be of interest to Mueller.

At that meeting, which Sessions led, former campaign volunteer and adviser George Papadopoulos offered to help broker a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and is now cooperating with Mueller.

Sessions has said he now recalls the proposal by Papadopoulos, and told Congress he pushed back against the idea.

Sessions was the latest high-level current or former Trump administration figure to be interviewed by Mueller’s team. Former White House strategist Steve Bannon also has agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators.

Trump this month refused to commit to being interviewed by Mueller, saying “I’ll speak to attorneys” about the matter.

Mueller has charged four people in his wide-ranging investigation. In addition to Papadopoulos and Flynn, Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s business partner, Rick Gates, have been charged with counts including failing to register as foreign agents and conspiracy to launder money.

 

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe and Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Will Dunham)”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Perjury? Obstruction of justice? False statements? Or, will Gonzo “beat the rap?”  Only time will tell.

Interesting that Ol’ Gonzo, who has denied so many fair access to counsel, and heaped insults on attorneys defending vulnerable asylum seekers, took his “mouthpiece,” Charles “Chuckie” Cooper with him. To “sort of paraphrase” former A.G. Ed Meese, “if he’s innocent, why does he need a lawyer?”

Wonder if the ghost of the late A.G. “John the Con” Mitchell ever visits Gonzo at night?

PWS

01-24-18