THIRD WORLD AMERICA! – THE ATTACK OF THE SWAMP RATS! — Under Trump’s GOP, Americans Now Correctly View White House As The Most Corrupt Institution — But, Who Are The Fools Who Voted These Immoral Jokers Into Control?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/12/12/report-americans-view-trump-white-house-as-the-most-corrupt-government-institution/

Josh Rogin reports in the Washington Post:

“Almost half of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House under President Trump, a sharp increase over last year, according to a new survey. Americans now see Trump and his top officials as the most corrupt public officials in government, despite his campaign pledge to drain the swamp.

A new report out Tuesday compiled by Transparency International, the leading nonprofit organization tracking corruption worldwide, shows Americans have significantly lost faith that their government is ably fighting corruption, compared to last year. Overall, Washington-based government institutions are viewed by Americans are more corrupt than those outside the Beltway, the report found. But the Trump White House tops the list.

According to the group’s 2017 U.S. Corruption Barometer, 44 percent of respondents said that most or all of the officials in the office of the president are corrupt, up from 38 percent at the end of Obama’s second term.

Members of Congress are seen as the second most corrupt group of government officials of the nine categories in the survey, with 38 percent of Americans viewing them as mostly or all corrupt. After that, Americans perceive corruption as pervasive in non-White House government officials, business executives, local officials and business leaders in decreasing proportions. Only 16 percent of respondents viewed judges and magistrates as mostly or all corrupt, according to the data.

Meanwhile, 69 percent of respondents said the U.S. government is fighting corruption “fairly badly” or “very badly,” up from 51 percent in 2016. More than half of respondents said people don’t report corruption due to fear of retaliation.

Transparency International defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Key issues within that definition include the influence of wealthy individuals over government, “pay for play” politics, revolving doors between government and corporate entities and the abuse of the financial system by elites.

The perception of Trump and his top officials as being corrupt is easy to understand. Trump and his family have scores of well-documented conflicts of interest they have dealt with in an opaque manner. Meanwhile, Trump’s failure to divest fully from his businesses, combined with his failure to release his tax returns, has fueled suspicions.

The phone survey, performed by the company Efficience3, included interviews of 1,005 randomly selected Americans in October and November. The data were weighted to be demographically representative of all American adults by age, race, gender, urbanization, social grade and ethnicity.

Zoe Reiter, Transparency International’s U.S. representative, said that the study was meant to form a basis for understanding how government is failing to uphold high anti-corruption standards and provide a call to action for Americans to respond. She pointed out that 74 percent of respondents said they believed ordinary people still can make a difference.

“The good news is a majority of Americans feel empowered to fight corruption,” she said. “Since our elected officials are failing to deliver, we need to figure out a way to push them much harder to take these issues more seriously.”

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Read the rest of the article at the link.

There is some disconnect here, because some of the folks who now are concerned about corruption voted for Trump and the GOP, despite more than ample public evidence of his endemic dishonesty, congenital lying, incompetence, and general immorality. Garbage in — garbage out!

But, the answer to the problem is still pretty obvious:

  • Vote Trump and his corrupt cronies out of office;
  • Dismantle the current version of the GOP, which has become an “aider and abettor” of corruption, greed, immorality, and bad government.

Yes, we could and should have a viable two-party system. But, no major party should include horrible immoral individuals like Donald Trump, “Ayatollah Roy,” Steve King, Stephen Miller, or Steve Bannon whose views are deeply Anti-American and threatening to our continued existence as a nation and to the entire free world!

PWS

12-12-17

 

WASHINGTON POST: GONZO’S IMMIGRATION COURT “REFORMS” WILL CREATE “KANGAROO COURTS!” —Recent “moves to evaluate judges based on the speed with which they handle dockets that typically exceed 2,000 cases, rather than on fair adjudication, is a recipe for assembly-line injustice.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-deportation-tough-talk-hurts-law-abiding-immigrants/2017/12/10/9a87524a-a93b-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html

The Post Editorial Board writes:

“The broader dysfunction in America’s immigration system remains largely unchanged. Federal immigration courts are grappling with a backlog of some 600,000 cases, an epic logjam. The administration wants to more than double the number of the 300 or so immigration judges, but that will take time. And its recent moves to evaluate judges based on the speed with which they handle dockets that typically exceed 2,000 cases, rather than on fair adjudication, is a recipe for assembly-line injustice.

Mr. Trump’s campaign bluster on deportation was detached from reality. He said he’d quickly deport 2 million or 3 million criminal illegal immigrants, but unless he’s counting parking scofflaws and jaywalkers, he won’t find that many “bad hombres” on the loose. In fact, legal and illegal immigrants are much less likely to end up in jail than U.S. citizens, according to a study by the Cato Institute.

The president’s sound and fury on deportation signify little. He has intensified arrests, disrupting settled and productive lives, families and communities — but to what end? Only an overhaul of America’s broken immigration system offers the prospect of a more lasting fix.”

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Read the full article at the link.

The Post also points out the damage caused by Trump’s racist “bad hombres” rabble rousing and the largely bogus nature of the Administration’s claims to be removing “dangerous criminals.” No, the latter would require some professionalism and real law enforcement skills. Those characteristics are non-existent among Trump Politicos and seem to be in disturbingly short supply at DHS. To crib from Alabama GOP Senator Richard Shelby’s statement about “Ayatollah Roy:” Certainly DHS can do better than Tom Homan.

And certainly America can do better than a US Immigration Court run by White Nationalist Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions. Gonzo’s warped concept of Constitutional Due Process is limited to insuring that he himself is represented by competent counsel as he forgets, misrepresents, misleads, mis-construes, and falsifies his way through the halls of justice.

Jeff Sessions does not represent America or American justice. The majority of American voters who did not want the Trump debacle in the first place still have the power to use the system to eventually restore decency, reasonableness, compassion, and integrity to American Government and to send the “Trump White Nationalist carpetbaggers” packing. The only question is whether or not we are up to the task!

PWS

12-12-17

 

VICTORY DANCE! — ICE’S HOMAN SAYS CLIMATE OF FEAR HAS STEMMED BORDER CROSSINGS & PROVES UNRESTRAINED, ARBITRARY IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT WORKS! — “There’s no population that’s off the table,” he said. “If you’re in the country illegally, we’re looking for you and we’re looking to apprehend you.” — America Won’t Be Truly Safe Until The Last Cook, Gardner, Construction Worker, Nanny, Janitor, Tree Cutter, Mechanic, Handyman, Carpenter, Home Health Aide, Computer Programmer, Healthcare Worker, Lettuce Picker, Cow Milker, Landscaper, Lawnmower, Bricklayer, Roofer, Window Washer, Waiter, Sandwich Artist, Teacher, Minister, Coach, Student, Parent, Clerk, Fisherman, Farmer, Maid, Chicken Plucker, Meat Processor, Etc., Without Docs Is Removed And US Citizens Take Over All These Jobs!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/arrests-along-mexico-border-drop-sharply-under-trump-new-statistics-show/2017/12/05/743c6b54-d9c7-11e7-b859-fb0995360725_story.html

Nick Miroff reports in the Washington Post:

“The number of people caught trying to sneak over the border from Mexico has fallen to the lowest level in 46 years, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics released Tuesday that offer the first comprehensive look at how immigration enforcement is changing under the Trump administration.

During the government’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24 percent from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971.

The figures show a sharp drop in apprehensions immediately after President Trump’s election win, possibly reflecting the deterrent effect of his rhetoric on would-be border crossers; starting in May, the number of people taken into custody began increasing again.

Arrests of foreigners living illegally in the United States have surged under Trump. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers made 110,568 such arrests between inauguration and the end of September, according to the figures published Tuesday, a 42 percent increase over the same period during the previous year.

Tom Homan, ICE’s temporary director and Trump’s nominee to lead the agency, praised the president and gave a vigorous defense of ICE’s more aggressive approach.

“This president, like him or love him, is doing the right thing,” Homan told reporters at a news conference in Washington, accompanied by the heads of the U.S. Border Patrol and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“A 45-year low in border crossings? That’s not a coincidence,” Homan said. “That’s based on this president and his belief and letting the men and women of ICE and the Border Patrol do their job.”

[How Trump is building a border wall no one can see]

Trump’s sweeping promises to crack down on illegal immigration fueled his presidential campaign and are at the center of his most ambitious domestic policy proposals, including construction of a wall along the border with Mexico.

Asked whether such a barrier was justifiable given its high cost and the decline in illegal immigration, DHS officials endorsed the president’s plan.

“In this society, we use walls and fences to protect things. It shouldn’t be different on the border,” said Ronald Vitiello, chief of the Border Patrol.

Apprehensions by Border Patrol agents peaked at more than 1.6 million in 2000 and began falling substantially after 2008. The previous low point was 331,333 arrests, during fiscal 2015. Experts have attributed the decline to tougher U.S. enforcement, improving job prospects in Mexico and long-term demographic changes that have driven down the country’s birthrate.

3:32
On the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump supporters wait for th
Still, the drop in border arrests is among the sharpest year-to-year changes on record, one that only casts more doubt on the wisdom of building a border wall, said Doris Meissner, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank.

“It’s a throwback response to yesterday’s problems,” she said, arguing that the money would be better spent addressing what accounts for a growing share of illegal migration: families with children fleeing rampant violence and dismal poverty in Central America.

Border agents took more than 75,000 “family units,” classified as at least one child and a related adult, into custody during fiscal 2017. But the number of unaccompanied minors fell 31 percent, to 41,435.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

This has to be what true greatness looks like! Imagine a world without those pesky undocumented workers to support our economy, our society, and our “American” way of life! That’s making America Great Again!

I’m sure future generations will be inspired by Homan’s humanity and wisdom as they pick produce or pound shingles in 100 degree heat, clean toilets, empty urine bags for the elderly and handicapped, clean tables, wash dishes, limb trees, shuck oysters, schlep concrete blocks, dig ditches, and, horror of horrors, take care of their own children while working full-time. Man, that’s going to be “America the Great” just as Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Homan, and others envision it!

And, the best part: we won’t have to worry about any of that burdensome, nasty “globalism” and the unfair burden of global leadership! That’s because the Chinese, Indians, Canadians, Mexicans, and Europeans will be in charge of the world economy and the Ruskies will control world politics. So we can enjoy our little White Nationalist enclave modeled on post-revolutionary Cuba — life in the 1950’s preserved forever! Save those “Classic ’57 Chevies!”

Kinda sorry I won’t be here to enjoy it! But, then again, I already lived through the real 1950’s once — Cold War, Jim Crow, segregation, anti-semitism, racial covenants, no women doctors, lawyers, or execs, African Americans only welcome on the football fields and basketball courts of a few Northern colleges! Boy, it was great! But, not sure I want  to do it again, even to experience the pure, unadulterated joy of having “my Milwaukee Braves” win the 1957 World Series (before fleeing to Atlanta)!

On the flip side, at Homan’s “record pace” of “law enforcement,” he and his minions will have every single undocumented American resident removed from the U.S by 2080 — that’s if no more arrive in the interim. And, the really great thing — they and those around them (including U.S. citizen kids and family members) will be living in fear every moment for the next six decades! Now, that’s something of which we can be truly proud! Of course, this all assumes that the North Koreans don’t nuke us and the rest of the world out of existence first!

PWS

12-06-17

 

PREXY ABOVE LAW SAYS “MOUTHPIECE” (Or, Perhaps, His “Tweetpiece?”)

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-lawyer-flynn-comey-obstruct-justice_us_5a252c0de4b0a02abe924355

Willa Frej reports for HuffPost:

“If President Donald Trump knew for months that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI, is he guilty of obstructing justice? His lawyer doesn’t think so. F
John Dowd reportedly told The Washington Post this weekend that Trump likely knew about Flynn’s erroneous reporting of his conversations with the Russians as early as January, months before he fired then-FBI Director James Comey.
But Dowd has shot down any speculation that his client obstructed justice, saying Trump is president and therefore above the law.
The “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd told Axios in an interview published Monday.
It’s a claim reminiscent of one made in 1977, when former President Richard Nixon said the presidents can essentially behave as they wish.
“Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal,” Nixon said at the time, in a TV interview with David Frost.
Trump raised questions on Saturday about the timeline of his knowledge, tweeting, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies.” Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI the day before.
The implication that Trump had known his former national security adviser had lied to the FBI set off alarm bells. The White House had previously said Flynn was fired over false statements he provided to Vice President Mike Pence.

. . . .

Dowd said he actually drafted the tweet about Flynn being fired, but “did not admit obstruction. That is an ignorant and arrogant assertion.”
“I’m out of the tweeting business,” Dowd told ABC News. “I did not mean to break news.”
Trump and Comey met a few weeks after the president found out about Flynn, according to the Post. It was during that meeting that Comey has said that the president asked him to drop the investigation into Flynn.
That led to speculation that Trump fired Comey to punish him for not giving up on his probe, which may also constitute obstruction of justice.

. . . .

The question over whether a president is constitutionally capable of obstructing justice has no clear answer, according to legal scholars.
“The claim that the president can commit such a crime faces a powerful objection rooted in the Constitution,” two University of Chicago Law School professors, Daniel Jacob Hemel and Eric Posner, explained in a California Law Review article from July.
“Obstruction of justice laws are normally applied to private citizens — people who bribe jurors, hide evidence from the police, or lie to investigators,” they wrote. “The president’s control over law enforcement is sometimes regarded as a near-sacred principle in our constitutional system.”
Yet this conflicts with the constitutional principle that no person can be above the law. That’s why, according to Hemel and Posner, Congress holds the ultimate key to impeachment.
The impeachment charges for both Nixon and former President Bill Clinton involved obstruction of justice. However, Nixon resigned before he could be impeached, and the Senate vote on Clinton’s impeachment resulted in a 50-50 tie. A two-thirds vote from the Senate is needed for a conviction.”

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Not very surprising that Trump holds himself above the law. We’ve elected a would-be Dictator who thinks that he rules a nation of morons who can’t figure out what he and his minions are up to! And not a very smart or talented Dictator at that! At least this should resolve the BS about Sessions and the Trumpsters promoting the “Rule Of Law.”

And, if John Dowd even knows how to “Tweet” . . . .

PWS

12-04-17

 

 

 

BREAKING: SLATE & ABC NEWS CLAIM THAT FLYNN READY TO IMPLICATE TRUMP IN RUSSIA PROBE! – COULD THIS BE THE “BEGINNING OF THE END” FOR THE WORST, MOST CORRUPT PRESIDENCY IN US HISTORY? — Could We Be Heading For “President Pence?”

ALERT: THIS STORY HAS SINCE BEEN RETRACTED BY ABC NEWS!

http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/01/media/abc-news-flynn-correction/index.html

 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/12/01/report_flynn_prepared_to_testify_trump_told_him_to_contact_russia.html

Ben Mathis-Lilley reports for Slate:

“ABC’s Brian Ross says that Michael Flynn—the former national security adviser who pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation—is prepared to testify that Donald Trump directed him to make contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump has directly denied having any knowledge that anyone involved with his campaign was in contact at any point with Russian officials.

Some caveats:

On the other hand, wow!

Developing!”

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Stay tuned! This is all happening very fast.

Mike Pence would certainly be a truly horrible President. And, probably far more effective than Trump at pushing his far-right religious/social agenda down the throats of Americans.

But, at least, he 1) appears to be basically honest, although misguided; 2) is pretty predictable; 3) probably could conduct meetings with foreign leaders without putting his foot in his mouth and making America look totally foolish; 4) has never been accused of sexual misconduct; 5) isn’t known for tweeting; 6) although having retrograde views on race, gender, and immigration, does not pander quite as directly to the White Nationalist and extremist hate groups as does Trump (although he might well turn out to be a “willing enabler” of hate groups, I actually don’t see him retweeting bogus materials from known hate groups to intentionally divide America and the world); 7) generally speaks in complete, relatively coherent sentences; 8) doesn’t appear to have any immediate extended family or business ties who intend to corruptly profit from his Presidency.

It’s not a great prospect, but far better than what we have now. Just an indication of how low we have fallen as a nation.

Here is some more in depth analysis from ABC News of the Flynn plea and why despite the predictably pathetic attempts at deflection by the White House, this can’t be good news for Trump!

http://abcn.ws/2zEfjFd

PWS

12-01-17

BREAKING: FLYNN TO COP PLEA TO MAKING FALSE STATEMENT TO FBI! — FORMER “NATIONAL SECURITY” ADVISOR GOES DOWN!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/michael-flynn-charged-russia_us_5a2163f8e4b03c44072d042c

Ryan J. Reilly reports for HuffPost:

WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser has been charged with lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian government, an extraordinary development in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Michael Flynn is scheduled to appear in federal court in D.C. at 10:30 a.m., where he’s expected to plead guilty to one count of making a false statement to FBI agents.

. . . .

In a criminal information filing from Mueller’s team, the government alleges that Flynn “willfully and knowingly made materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements” in an interview with FBI agents on Jan. 24. It alleges he falsely told the FBI that he did not ask the Russian ambassador to refrain from retaliating to sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia in late December. Flynn also allegedly lied about asking the Russian ambassador on Dec. 22 to delay or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution.
Citing sources familiar with the investigation, NBC News reported in early November that Mueller’s team had enough evidence to charge Flynn, as well as his son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked closely with him during Trump’s campaign and transition.
The report sparked speculation that investigators were trying to flip Flynn, a top target of the multiple probes into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia last year, and could reach an agreement for him to become a cooperating witness.
The New York Times reported later that month that Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, was no longer sharing information with Trump’s legal team, further raising the possibility that Flynn may be cooperating with Mueller’s probe. Kelner later met with the investigators, according to ABC News.
Flynn’s indictment follows Mueller’s team charging Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former aide Rick Gates with 12 counts, including allegations of conspiracy against the U.S. and money laundering. Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to the charges and are scheduled to face a federal trial in May.
In October, the investigators also reached a plea agreement with former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who lied to the FBI about being offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Papadopoulos also reportedly suggested a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin last year.
But those indictments involved only Trump campaign officials. Flynn is the first former administration official to be charged, making it more difficult for the White House to distance the president from Mueller’s probe.
After Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey amid his investigation into the campaign, Comey testified that Trump had requested that he end the FBI’s investigation into Flynn.
Flynn, who stepped down as Trump’s national security adviser in February after lying to administration officials about the extent of his communications with Russian officials, had long faced scrutiny from the multiple investigations into Trump’s campaign.
Of particular interest was Flynn’s history of suspicious business dealings and financial ties to Russia, as well as his concealing that he worked as a foreign lobbyist for the Turkish government while advising Trump’s campaign.
In the fall of 2016, a businessman with close ties to Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid Flynn more than $500,000 to conduct research aimed at discrediting the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen. Flynn failed to disclose the work until March, after he had already stepped down as national security adviser.
Mueller’s team has reportedly investigated Flynn’s lobbying firm and its dealings with Turkey.
Flynn also hid multiple contacts with Russia during Trump’s transition, including discussing sanctions with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
He also attended a meeting with Kislyak to discuss creating a backchannel with Putin. Also in attendance was Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is now a senior White House adviser and also reportedly a subject of Mueller’s probe.
White House officials have repeatedly denied any collusion between Trump’s team and Russia, often by downplaying suspected officials’ involvement in the campaign or the administration. In March, then-press secretary Sean Spicer diminished Flynn as just “a volunteer.”

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What kind of Administration hires a criminal to be so-called “National Security Advisor?” An Administration that poses a “clear and present danger” to the national security of our country! And, it’s not that Gen. Flynn wasn’t a well-established slimy character even before embarking on his criminal enterprise!

Will “Jerry the K” be next? Stay tuned! No wonder Gonzo has “lawyered up!”

PWS

12-01-17

JRUBE IN THE WASHPOST: “A dangerous fool for a president,” supported by “useful idiots” & “Republican tribalists in Congress” are an “easy mark” for Putin & the Russians — Our Administration Is An Existential Threat To Our National Security!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/11/12/russias-mark-a-dangerous-fool-for-a-president/

Jennifer Rubin writes in the Washington Post:

“President Trump’s authoritarianism, narcissism and racism threaten our democracy, but his gullibility threatens our national security. A man so uneducated and incurious about the world is willing, like his followers, to buy any crackpot conspiracy theory that makes its way to him via the Infowars-“Fox & Friends” pipeline. On the world stage, that makes him a sitting duck for slick manipulators and experienced flatterers.

All that was much in evidence on Saturday. CNN reports:

“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from Da Nang to Hanoi in Vietnam. Trump spoke to Putin three times on the sidelines of summit here, where the Russia meddling issue arose. “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’” Trump said. “And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.” “I think he is very insulted by it,” Trump added.

Could Trump actually believe that the ex-KGB operative is insulted by the accusation he pulled off a masterful plot, at very little cost, to tip the scales in an American presidential election and get the candidate of his choice? Certainly, Trump is not only gullible but also running scared as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III breathes down his neck.

. . . .

Trump and his followers are willing to believe anything because they want to believe anything that confirms their counterfactual world. Anyone who sides with their alternative universe (Sebastian Gorka, Vladimir Putin, Bill O’Reilly, Roy Moore) is a hero and a victim of those pro-immigrant, globalist, anti-Christian elites. Anyone who presents cold, hard facts (the mainstream media, scientists, allied governments, Democrats, #NeverTrumpers) that explode their dearly held myths is an enemy of the people.Yes, that’s the mental universe in which Trump and his ilk reside. It renders Trump susceptible — eager, even — to believe our enemies, even — especially! — at the expense of American values, security and interests. He’s putty in the hands of wily autocrats. He’s therefore the type of target that counterintelligence operatives dream of — an arrogant fool. Clinton Watts, a former FBI special agent on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, earlier this year explained:

Russian influence of Trump most likely falls into the category of what Madeleine Albright called a “Useful Idiot” – a “useful fool” – an enthusiast for Putin supportive of any issue or stance that feeds his ego and brings victory. Russian intelligence for decades identified and promoted key individuals around the world ripe for manipulation and serving their interests. Trump, similar to emerging alternative right European politicians, spouts populist themes of xenophobia, anti-immigration, and white nationalist pride that naturally bring about a retrenchment of U.S. global influence. By spotting this early, Russia could encourage Trump’s ascension and shape his views via three parallel tracks. First, Russia led a never before seen hacking and influence campaign to degrade support for Hilary Clinton and promote Trump among a disenfranchised American populace. As a “useful idiot,” Trump not only benefited from this influence effort, but he urged Russia to find Hilary Clinton’s missing emails – a public call a “Manchurian Candidate” would not likely make. Trump even fell for false Russian news stories citing a bogus Sputnik news story at a presidential rally – a glaring and open mistake that would reveal a true “Manchurian Candidate.”

What’s more, the Kremlin now has useful idiots in the persons of Fox News hosts, right-wing American bloggers, talk show hosts and Stephen K. Bannon (who is out recruiting like-minded Senate candidates) to buck up their pet U.S. president. Most of all, the Kremlin can count on the Republican tribalists in Congress who will explain away evidence and savage the president’s accusers to protect the GOP tribe and its leader — who just so happens to be an easy mark for our most formidable international foe.“

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Read the full op-ed at the link.

Pretty scary stuff. Putin must be walking on air. First, dumb US electorate votes for its own demise. Trump stokes racial and political divisions while trashing the environment, destroying government, offending allies, undermining health care, damaging the Constitution, shrugging his shoulders at random gun violence, and carrying on with plans to loot US Treasury for benefit of the rich and leave everyone else holding the bag. Then, Trump sets off for Asia where he cedes economic and moral leadership to China while enunciating a totally selfish “Third World, Me First” philosophy and absurdly defends his “puppetmaster” Putin.

All these years the “Legacy Soviets” thought they could only defeat America by a military buildup. Now, they discover they can do it without firing a shot or invading anyone just by using our own stupidity and the Alt-Right against us.

PWS

11-12-17

GONZO’S WORLD: CNN: GONZO TAKING HEAT FOR ATTEMPT TO “WHITEWASH” RUSSIA INVOLVEMENT DURING SENATE TESTIMONY!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/02/politics/jeff-sessions-congress-russia-trump-campaign/index.html

Manu Raju, Evan Perez and Marshall Cohen, write:

“Washington (CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions is once again under scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding his candor about Russia and the Trump campaign amid revelations that he rejected a suggestion to convene a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump last year.

According to court filings unsealed this week, Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos suggested at a March 2016 meeting that he could use his connections to set up a meeting between Putin and Trump with the then-GOP candidate’s national security team. An Instagram picture on Trump’s account shows Sessions attended the meeting at which Papadopoulos made the suggestion.
After Trump declined to rule out the idea, Sessions weighed in and rejected the proposed meeting, according to a person who attended.
But Sessions, who was a top surrogate for Trump during the campaign, did not disclose these discussions despite a persistent set of questions from Democrats and some Republicans about Russia during multiple hearings on Capitol Hill. The new information is renewing attention to how forthcoming Sessions has been with Congress.
There is interest from Democrats on both the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees for Sessions to formally clarify his remarks made before both committees given what’s now known about his interactions with Papadopoulos, a Senate aide told CNN. The source said the request for clarification could take several forms, such as having Sessions testify again or submitting a clarification in writing, but that has not yet been determined.
. . . .
The Justice Department did not comment.
But a source familiar with Sessions’ thinking pointed out that others in the room recall that Sessions “shut down” talk of a Putin meeting and that Papadopoulos “didn’t have a lot of credibility.” The conversation moved on to other topics and Papadopoulos did not leave a “lasting impression” with Sessions, the source said.
The source added that Sessions “has no clear recollection” of Papadopoulos and any further interactions with him, even though two were seated next to each other at a second meeting of Trump’s foreign policy team at the Capitol Hill Club steps from the House.
“The attorney general has been entirely truthful and consistent on this matter,” the source said, referring to Sessions’ testimony before Congress where he rejected the notion of meetings and interactions with Russians during the campaign season.
At his Senate confirmation hearing in January, Sessions denied any contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign. He later acknowledged that he met then-Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak twice during the campaign. He also testified that he was “not aware” of anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicating with the Russians.
Sessions testified in June that he wasn’t aware of any conversations between “anyone connected to the Trump campaign” and Russians about “any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.”
He also testified that he does not remember meeting Kislyak during a VIP reception before an April 2016 campaign event at the Mayflower Hotel, though he acknowledged Kislyak was in the room. Also there were Trump and his son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. In testimony submitted to Capitol Hill investigators, Kushner said he “shook hands” and “exchanged brief pleasantries” with Kislyak.
Asked under oath at a Senate hearing last month if he believed Trump campaign surrogates had communications with Russians, Sessions replied, “I did not and I’m not aware of anyone else that did, and I don’t believe it happened.”
It is a crime to lie under oath to Congress. Sessions says that his answers were truthful because his meetings with Kislyak weren’t specifically about the campaign. At least two Democratic members of the Senate judiciary committee, Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have asked the FBI to investigate whether Sessions committed perjury during his confirmation hearings.
At the Senate judiciary hearing last month, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, asked Sessions: “Did anybody in the campaign, did you ever overhear a conversation between you and anybody on the campaign who talked about meeting with the Russians?”
Sessions replied, “I have not seen anything that would indicate collusion with the Russians to impact the campaign.”
On Wednesday, Democrats said Sessions needs to clarify his comments.
“I was very troubled by Attorney General Sessions comments overall,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee.

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

Read the complete article at the link.

As I’ve noted before, Sessions’s laughable account of how he “told the truth” during his Senate testimony doesn’t pass the “straight face test’ — it would be found “incredible” in almost any of the U.S. Immigration Courts he administers. He, Trump, and other campaign officials are obviously struggling to keep their various versions of the story straight.

Given the problems he’s already had, and the widespread interest in the Russia investigation, one might have thought than an “Attorney General of ordinary prudence” would check the records before once again making the “no contact” (“except the ones I didn’t mention previously that you already discovered”)  statement under oath. That might well have brought to light the photograph of him with George Papadopoulos which appears with the full article at the above link. And that might have “refreshed” his memory as to what transpired at the meeting. Or, he might have asked other attendees at the meeting for their recollection of whether Russia was discussed.

Gonzo has no trouble rattling off bogus positions and misleading statistics prepared for him by restrictionist organizations in his quest to smear and discredit migrants, immigrants, Latinos, lawyers, and others. But, when it comes to the very recent matter of Russia and  the Trump Campaign (which, after all, occurred within the last two years, not at some point in ancient history) his memory seems to fail him on a regular basis.

As I predicted very recently, Chuck Cooper is going to earn his money trying to save Gonzo’s tail on this one.

PWS

11-02-17

GOVERNMENT OF THE UNQUALIFIED, BY THE UNQUALIFIED, FOR THE UNCARING! — “Extreme Vetting” Doesn’t Apply To The Trump Administration! — Filling The USG With “Swamp Creatures” & Clowns! 🤡

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-other-huge-scandal-mueller-brought-to-light-this-week/2017/11/01/5e05a458-bf4c-11e7-959c-fe2b598d8c00_story.html?utm_term=.e0400dfe3805

Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post:

“Robert Mueller brought to light a huge scandal this week, and it has nothing to do with Russia.

He has introduced the world to Sam Clovis.

Clovis, we now know, was the Trump campaign official who oversaw George Papadopoulos and encouraged his efforts to meet with Russian officials. But what’s more interesting than what Clovis is is what Clovis isn’t.

For those who had not heard of Clovis before (which is pretty much everybody), he has been nominated to be the chief scientist at the Agriculture Department, a position that by law must go to “distinguished scientists,” even though he is, well, not a scientist. He is a talk-radio host, economics professor (though not actually an economist, either) and, most importantly, a Trump campaign adviser.

President Trump promised to “hire the best people.” And, as scientists go, Clovis is an excellent talk-show host. Among his scientific breakthroughs: being “extremely skeptical” of climate change, calling homosexuality “a choice,” suggesting gay rights would lead to legalized pedophilia, pushing the Obama birther allegation, and calling Eric Holder a “racist bigot” and Tom Perez a “racist Latino.”

A group called American Oversight had the foresight to make records requests for résumés of those hired by the Trump administration, and the group searched for those who worked on the Trump campaign. Among the “best” Trump hires American Oversight found:

●Sid Bowdidge, assistant to the secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy. Before working for the Trump campaign, Bowdidge, from 2013 to 2015, was manager of the Meineke Car Care branch in Seabrook, N.H. He previously was service and branch manager for tire shops. I don’t know what qualified Bowdidge for his position, but I do know this: He is not going to pay a lot for that muffler. (He had to hit the road, losing his job after it was discovered he had called Muslims “maggots.”)

●Victoria Barton, congressional relations for Regions II, V and VI, Department of Housing and Urban Development. Prior to working for the Trump campaign, Barton was an office manager and, between 2013 and 2015, a “bartender/bar manager.” The expertise in housing policy possessed by Barton is no doubt invaluable to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, a retired brain surgeon.

●Christopher Hagan, a confidential assistant at the Agriculture Department. Before working on the Trump campaign, he was, between 2009 and 2015, a “cabana attendant” at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y. According to his résumé, he “identified and addressed customer’s needs in a timely and orderly manner.”

This is important, because you never know when somebody at the USDA is going to need a towel.

●Nick Brusky, also a confidential assistant at the USDA. The Trump campaign worker previously drove a truck. He was a trustee in Butler Township, Ohio, at the same time, and, as Politico noted, his résumé lists coursework but no degree.

●David Matthews, yet another confidential assistant at the Agriculture Department, developed scented candles while also serving as a “legal receptionist” before joining the Trump campaign.

Some of the other “best” people Trump has hired are well known. Lynne Patton, HUD regional administrator, previously arranged Trump golf tournaments and arranged Eric Trump’s wedding, among other things. Callista Gingrich, just confirmed as ambassador to the Vatican, prepared for this by writing children’s books, singing in a church choir — and being married to Trump ally Newt Gingrich.

Others now in high office are less known: an office page, the author of an anti-Clinton book, a Christian-school librarian, a couple of real estate brokers and a landscaper. Many don’t appear to meet the educational qualifications for their positions. But they did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

One can imagine the chairman of an interagency task force going around the table asking each department what should be in the infrastructure bill:

ith “Swamp Creatures” & Clowns!

“Transportation Department?”

“Don’t know, sir. I was an Uber driver before I joined the campaign.”

“Army Corps of Engineers?”

“Pass. I ran a coin-operated laundromat.”

“Surely somebody here knows something about infrastructure?”

(Silence.)

“I was a toll-taker on the New Jersey Turnpike before the campaign. Now I’m in charge of climate science at the EPA.”

Anybody else?

“I was a plumber. But they made me chief medical officer at NIH because I watched a lot of ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ ”

“What, they had no doctors for NIH?”

“We had one chiropractor on the campaign, sir, but they needed him to run NASA.”

“A chiropractor running NASA? What next, a musician at Strategic Command?”

“Actually, sir, the Stratcom commander was a hairdresser.”

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

And, this doesn’t even get into some of the spectacularly unqualified Cabinet Secretaries (“The Band of Sycophants”) already approved by a GOP Senate and serving. This morning Clovis withdrew as nominee.

But, Milbank’s point is still well-taken. Let’s assume for the time being that Mueller never links Manafort directly to Russia during the time he was Trump’s campaign Chairman. And yes, he’s innocent until proven guilty.

But, Mueller has just produced very substantial evidence that Manafort for years engaged in a scheme to shield income from the IRS, thus screwing U.S. taxpayers out of literally millions of dollars. In plain terms, he is allegedly a thief and a fraudster.

That a President who apparently avoided taxes himself for many years, is unwilling to disclose his tax returns, had the bad judgment to hire an apparent serious criminal to head his campaign is yet another colossal lapse in judgement and competence that would be disqualifying for any politician other than The Donald.

“And where are the clowns
Quick send in the clowns
Don’t bother they’re here.”🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡*

*Song and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

PWS

11-02-17

NYT OP-ED: “MAINSTREAMING” HATE: How Trump & His Supporters Help Legitimize A Global White Hate Movement!

Jessie Singal writes:

Last September, Patrik Hermansson, a 25-year-old graduate student from Sweden, went undercover in the world of the extreme right. Posing as a student writing a thesis about the suppression of right-wing speech, he traveled from London to New York to Charlottesville, Va. — and into the heart of a dangerous movement that is experiencing a profound rejuvenation.

Mr. Hermansson, who was sent undercover by the British anti-racist watchdog group Hope Not Hate, spent months insinuating himself into the alt-right, using his Swedish nationality (many neo-Nazis are obsessed with Sweden because of its “Nordic” heritage) as a way in. It wasn’t always easy. “You want to punch them in the face,” he told me of the people he met undercover. “You want to scream and do whatever — leave. But you can’t do any of those things. You have to sit and smile.”

What he learned while undercover is one part of a shocking, comprehensive new report from Hope Not Hate that sheds light on the strange landscape of the alt-right, the much discussed, little understood and largely anonymous far-right movement that exists mostly online and that has come to national attention in part because of its support for Donald Trump.

As a result of the growing influence of the far-right social-media ecosystem, once-moribund hate groups in both the United States and Europe — groups that mostly existed long before “alt-right” entered the vernacular — are enjoying a striking uptick in recruitment.

This latest wave of potential members is young — teenage and 20-something men (they’re mostly men) appear to be exhibiting interest in far-right ideas in numbers that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. These young men are being radicalized largely through the work of a popular group of new far-right internet personalities whose videos, blog posts and tweets have been consistently nudging the boundaries of acceptable conversation to the right — one of the explicit goals of racist extremists everywhere.

And while “globalist” may be one of the alt-right’s favorite slurs, Hope Not Hate conclusively shows that the alt-right is itself now a global movement with regular interaction among far-right figures from Scotland to Sweden to Seattle.

Mr. Hermansson’s story offers vital insights into these groups’ tactics and their sometimes bizarre practices. During his time undercover, he hung out with heavily armed Holocaust deniers and attended gatherings where extremists drank mead from a traditional Viking horn and prayed to the Norse god Odin. In Charlottesville, he marched alongside hundreds of young neo-Nazis and white supremacists before he was sprayed with Mace by a counterprotester and witnessed the car attack that killed Heather Heyer.

In Britain, Mr. Hermansson attended a private dinner of extremists where Greg Johnson, a reclusive leading American far-right figure who is editor in chief of Counter-Currents Publishing, explained the need to “mainstream this stuff — or, more precisely, we need to bring the mainstream towards us.”

. . . .

“If Mr. Jorjani wasn’t exaggerating to Mr. Hermansson, and he did have a relationship with White House officials, that would certainly be alarming. But even if he was exaggerating, it’s still important to understand how messages like his could travel from the far reaches of the right-wing internet and all the way into — or close to, at least — the White House.

The extreme alt-right are benefiting immensely from the energy being produced by a more moderate — but still far-right — faction known as the “alt-light.”

The alt-light promotes a slightly softer set of messages. Its figures — such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Mike Cernovich — generally frame their work as part of an effort to defend “the West” or “Western culture” against supposed left-liberal dominance, rather than making explicitly racist appeals. Many of them, in fact, have renounced explicit racism and anti-Semitism, though they will creep up to the line of explicitly racist speech, especially when Islam and immigration are concerned.

This apparent moderation partly explains why they tend to have much bigger online audiences than even the most important alt-right figures — and why Hope Not Hate describes them as “less extreme, more dangerous.” Alt-light sites like Breitbart, formerly home to Mr. Yiannopoulos, as well as Prison Planet, where Mr. Watson is editor at large, draw millions of readers and are key nodes in a hyperkinetic network that is endlessly broadcasting viral-friendly far-right news, rumors and incitement.

Fluent in the language of online irony and absurdism, and adept at producing successful memes, alt-lighters have pulled off something remarkable: They’ve made far-right ideas hip to a subset of young people, and framed themselves as society’s forgotten underdogs. The alt-light provides its audience easy scapegoats for their social, economic and sexual frustrations: liberals and feminists and migrants and, of course, globalists.

The alt-light’s dedicated fan base runs into the millions. Mr. Watson has more than a million YouTube followers, for example, while Mr. Yiannopoulos has more than 2.3 million on Facebook. If even a tiny fraction of this base is drafted toward more extreme far-right politics, that would represent a significant influx into hate groups.

According to researchers, the key to hooking new recruits into any movement, and to getting them increasingly involved over time, is to simply give them activities to participate in. This often precedes any deep ideological commitment on the recruits’ part and, especially early on, is more about offering them a sense of meaning and community than anything else.

Intentionally or not, the far right has deftly applied these insights to the online world. Viewed through the filters of alt-light outlets like Breitbart and Prison Planet, or through Twitter feeds like Mr. Watson’s, the world is a horror show of crimes by migrants, leftist censorship and attacks on common sense. And the best, easiest way to fight back is through social media.

The newly initiated are offered many opportunities to participate directly. A teenager in a suburban basement can join a coordinated global effort to spread misinformation about Emmanuel Macron, France’s centrist president, in the hopes of helping far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Anyone who wants to do so can help spread the word about supposed mainstream media censorship of the Muslim “crime wave” the far right says is ravaging Europe.

These efforts — a click, a retweet, a YouTube comment — come to feel like important parts of an epochal struggle. The far right, once hemmed in by its own parochialism, has manufactured a worldwide online battlefield anyone with internet access can step into.

And if you’re one of those newcomers happily playing the part of infantryman in the “meme wars” that rage daily, maybe, along the way, one of your new online Twitter buddies will say to you, “Milo’s O.K., but have you checked out this guy Greg Johnson?” Or maybe they’ll invite you to a closed online forum where ideas about how to protect Europe from Muslim migrants are discussed a bit more, well, frankly. Maybe, if you’re really lucky, you’ll eventually discover a whole new political movement to join.

All of which can explain why members of the hard-core alt-right are watching the explosive success of their more moderate counterparts with open glee, unable to believe their good luck. “I’m just fighting less and less opposition to our sorts of ideas when they’re spoken,” Mr. Johnson, the Counter-Currents editor, told Mr. Hermansson. His optimism, unfortunately, appears to be well founded.”

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

Read the entire shocking article at the link!

Think that a return of Naziism is impossible in our lifetimes? Not if these evil dudes have anything to say about it, And, they well might. That’s due in large part to the GOP’s acceptance of Trump, his inappropriate hate speech, and his pandering to the worst undercurrents in American politics and society which has assisted the mainstreaming of hate and racism as a legitimate political and philosophical stance! Shrugging it off as “it’s just Donald being Donald” or even applauding his willingness to be “politically incorrect” is only making things worse.

And, if some of this sounds familiar, it should. It’s pretty much the same false narratives that guys like Trump, Sessions, Miller, and Bannon have been spreading: migrants and Latinos are drug peddlers, rapists, and criminals who endanger American communities; migrants steal jobs from Americans; Muslims and refugees are terrorists and even those who aren’t are a drag on our society; multiculturalism weakens the “homeland,” laws protect Muslims and gays but not (white, straight) Christians, etc.

PWS

09-20-17

HISTORY: In January 1972, A.G. John Mitchell Sat In His Paneled Office At The DOJ, Puffed On His Pipe, And Listened To Plans For A Whacko Criminal Conspiracy (Which Sent Him To Jail) — Since Then The Vaunted “Independence” Of The DOJ Has Been More Myth Than Reality — Trump Wants To Make The DOJ Part Of His Corrupt Political Empire — GOP Pols Talk Big But Do Little When It Comes To Standing Up To America’s Corruptor In Chief!

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/07/27/jeff-sessions-is-the-canary-in-the-coal-mine-215424?cid=apn

Joshua Zeitz writes in Politico:

“President Trump’s condemnation of his own attorney general may seem bizarre and unprecedented, but here’s something many in America’s gobsmacked chattering class are forgetting: The vaunted independence of the Justice Department took over a century to build, and it’s a far more fragile institution than we realize.

The spectacle of Trump attacking Jeff Sessions, one of his earliest and most stalwart supporters, as “beleaguered” and “unfair” is certainly jarring. The president seemingly cannot help but vent his frustration over the attorney general’s decision to step aside in the Department of Justice’s probe into Russian election interference—a step that led indirectly to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. If Sessions “would have recused himself before the job,” Trump told the (“failing”) New YorkTimes. “I would have said ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’”

The prospect that the president might fire Sessions, whose immigration policies and draconian approach to law enforcement are anathema to the left, places Democrats in an unusual position. They despise the attorney general but find themselves bound to protect the independence of his office. But the real test lies with Republicans, who have largely looked the other way as Trump has laid waste to one political norm after another. Will they draw a sharp line in the sand, or bury their heads in it?

It took well over a century for the office of the attorney general to accrue the very power and independence that Trump now stands poised to blow up. Originally a minor position with little authority or autonomy, over the years the AG emerged as the nation’s top law enforcement official and a key adviser to the president. The office withstood considerable strain in the latter quarter of the 20th century. But like so many civic institutions today, it is imperiled precisely because it is largely the product of traditions, and administrative rules that capture those traditions, rather than permanent statutes or laws. Once broken, it may not be so easily reassembled.”

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

Read the complete article, which contains a fascinating short history of the DOJ, at the link.

Washington was, in fact, built on swampland with Tiber Creek running through it. I’m sort of expecting that the old swamp will just open up again some day and swallow Trump and the whole corrupt mess surrounding him.

PWS

07-27-17

 

 

WashPost: Trump Now Appears To Have Made Himself Possible Target Of Russia Probe!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/special-counsel-is-investigating-trump-for-possible-obstruction-of-justice/2017/06/14/9ce02506-5131-11e7-b064-828ba60fbb98_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_trumpmueller625pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.16b2d1da2136

“The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

Five people briefed on the requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy, and it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

Predictably, Trump will be outraged by the “leakers.” But, his problems are totally self-created. And, they are only going to get worse if he can’t stop talking and tweeting about it. Don’t know where this is eventually going. I do know, however, that it isn’t going away any time soon.

PWS

06-14-17

 

SESSIONS SUMMARY: Irritated, Indignant, Not Very Informative! — Selective Memory On Display!

Of the many summaries floating around the internet, I found this one from “Will Drabold at Mic” to be the most useful:

Navigating Trump’s America — Special Jeff Sessions Edition — Tuesday, June 13, 2017
YOUR DAILY READ ON HOW THE
COUNTRY IS CHANGING UNDER DONALD TRUMP.
By Will Drabold at Mic.

 

Today’s question: Will Jeff Sessions’ testimony come to haunt him? Or did he hold up well under the spotlight? Email us at trumpsamerica@mic.com and join us for $1 a month to discuss this in our Facebook group.

 

Please respond to this email with your thoughts. You can read this in your browser here. And if someone forwarded this to you, do the right thing: Subscribe here.

 

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions was defensive during his hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Sessions was adamant he — and the Trump campaign — had zero collusion with Russia. This special edition of Navigating Trump’s America recaps Sessions’ hearing and what comes next.

Read a blow-by-blow of the hearing here.

 

6 takeaways from Jeff Sessions’ Senate testimony

1. The attorney general gave conflicting answers about his reported meetings with the Russian ambassador.

 

The attorney general said he “did not have any private meetings, nor do I recall any conversations with any Russian officials” at an event for the president’s first major speech on foreign policy last year at a Washington, D.C., hotel. During questioning, Sessions’ tone grew shiftier.

 

Further, Sessions said he could not “recall” any meetings with Russian officials that have not been disclosed, nor did he have memory of conversations with other people tied to Russia.

 

This matters because Sessions, who was under oath, could later be grilled on this waffling by investigators running the Russia inquiry. Sessions seemingly acknowledged the need to give himself an out from that line of questioning, saying he cannot guarantee his recollection of events is correct.

 

2. Sessions said James Comey was fired because of how he handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

 

Sessions said Comey’s decision to publicly recommend not seeking charges in the email investigation was a “breathtaking usurpation of the responsibility of the attorney general.”

 

That doubled down on what Sessions put in his signed letter, but it contradicted Trump’s comment after Comey’s firing that the Russia investigation factored into the firing. Sessions said Tuesday that Trump’s words speak for themselves and he could not discuss more than the letter.

 

The attorney general shared his belief that it did not violate his recusal from the Russia investigation to be involved in firing Comey, something Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said did not “pass the smell test.” The attorney general was adamant it was his job, despite the recusal, to choose the leadership of the FBI.

 

3. The attorney general emphatically denied he had any involvement in allegations related to Russia.

 

Perhaps Sessions’ most sweeping statement came during his opening, when he said, “I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.”

 

The attorney general added that he did not recall anyone trying to influence him in his role with the Trump campaign.

 

4. The attorney general would not comment on whether he talked to Trump about firing Comey and whether the Russia investigation was part of the conversation about the firing.

 

“I am not stonewalling,” Sessions said in response to an accusation he was covering up conversations with the president.

 

Sessions repeatedly cited Justice Department regulations that he said bar him from discussing conversations he had with Trump. “I’m protecting the president’s constitutional right,” he said, by not discussing private conversations with Trump. “I think your silence speaks volumes,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

 

5. Sessions said he effectively recused himself from the Russia investigation the day after he was confirmed by the Senate.

 

Sessions said he has never had a briefing about the role of Russian interference in the U.S. election. The attorney general added that his recusal was made because of department regulations, not because he felt he could be a subject of the investigation.

 

“I recused myself that day,” Sessions said of the day after he was confirmed. “I never received any information about the campaign.”

 

6. The tone of the attorney general’s testimony was noticeably defensive.

 

“This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me,” Sessions said, raising his voice as he defended himself. Sessions called it an “appalling and detestable lie” to suggest he colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

 

The attorney general criticized anyone suggesting he has ties to Russia, saying there is no evidence he or fellow Trump supporters colluded with Russia.

 

A note on Sessions’ dodges:

 

Throughout the hearing, Sessions repeatedly dodged questions by claiming the president’s right to executive privilege. There’s just one problem: The president never invoked executive privilege, and the legal basis for Sessions’ dodges is questionable.

 

Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-N.C.) asked Sessions to work with the White House to identify which questions the attorney general refused to answer on Tuesday could be addressed later on, in writing.

 

So where does the Russia investigation stand now?

 

Sessions had little to say about the investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election given his recusal from the inquiry. But there was news outside the hearing about the investigation.

 

After reports surfaced that Trump was considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller, the president did not answer questions from reporters on Tuesday about whether he was considering firing Mueller. Republican senators said that decision is not within Trump’s jurisdiction. Watch this space.

 

Senators were not eager to speak with reporters after the hearing. Mic could only connect with Sen. Marco Rubio, who said Sessions was forthcoming and answered questions. Neither Burr nor Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) offered public comment, as they did following Comey’s testimony. Journalists were told all other senators, and Sessions, had left the building within 30 minutes of the hearing wrapping.

 

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To me, there sure seems to be something fishy about the whole Comey firing. Why would the “new bosses” fire someone for something that happened well in the past and during a time that they were not even in charge of the DOJ? Why would they do it without waiting for the pending Inspector General report? Why wouldn’t they at least have given Comey, a well-respected figure in law enforcement, a chance to explain his side of the story? Why would they fabricate stories about “poor morale” in the FBI which certainly don’t seem to be borne out? It appears that while not universally beloved (who is, except for our “Supreme Leader?”) Comey generally was well-respected and trusted by the line agents. And, most important, why wouldn’t they carefully have considered whether or not Comey’s firing would impede the FBI’s most important pending investigation: into Russian interference with our elections?

That the Russians actively attempted to compromise our election process, the cornerstone of our democracy, is undisputed! Yet nobody, and I mean nobody, in the Trump Administration seems at all concerned about the national security aspect of it. And, notwithstanding the cosmetically bipartisan efforts, it’s clear that the GOP in Congress just wants the whole topic to go away. They plainly couldn’t care less about what Russia does to screw with our system unless they start losing some elections. While Trump gins up bogus national security concerns about a few Muslim countries that don’t send us very many migrants anyway, the real national security threat to America, Trump’s policies and his lackadaisical/permissive attitudes toward Russia are swept under the rug.

As for the “Mueller rumors,” just “send in the clowns.” Oh, no need, “they’re already here.”🤡

PWS

06-14-17

POLITICS: DAVID BROOKS IN THE NYT — “The Trump death march will be slow, grinding and ugly.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/09/opinion/trump-presidency.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170609&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=0&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

Brooks Wirtes in this op-ed:

“The upshot is the Trump administration will probably not be brought down by outside forces. It will be incapacitated from within, by the bile, rage and back-stabbing that are already at record levels in the White House staff, by the dueling betrayals of the intimates Trump abuses so wretchedly.

Although there may be no serious collusion with the Russians, there is now certain to be a wide-ranging independent investigation into all things Trump.

These investigations will take a White House that is already acidic and turn it sulfuric. James Hohmann and Joanie Greve had a superb piece in the Daily 202 section of The Washington Post. They compiled the lessons people in the Clinton administration learned from the Whitewater scandal, and applied them to the Trump White House.

If past is prologue, this investigation will drag on for a while. The Clinton people thought the Whitewater investigation might last six months, but the inquiries lasted over seven years. The Trump investigation will lead in directions nobody can now anticipate. When the Whitewater investigation started, Monica Lewinsky was an unknown college student and nobody had any clue that an investigation into an Arkansas land deal would turn into an investigation about sex.

This investigation will ruin careers far and wide. Investigators go after anybody they think can yield information on the president. Before the Whitewater investigators got to Clinton they took down Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, Webb Hubbell, Susan and Jim McDougal, and many others.

This investigation will swallow up day-to-day life. As Clinton alum Jennifer Palmieri wrote in an op-ed in the USA Today network of newspapers: “No one in a position of authority at the White House tells you what is happening. No one knows. Your closest colleague could be under investigation and you would not know. You could be under investigation and not know. It can be impossible to stay focused on your job.”

Everybody will be affected. Betty Currie, Bill Clinton’s personal secretary, finally refused to mention the names of young White House employees to the investigators because every time she mentioned a name, the kid would get a subpoena, which meant thousands of dollars of ruinous legal fees.

If anything, the Trump investigation will probably be more devastating than the Whitewater scandals. The Clinton team was a few shady characters surrounded by a large group of super-competent straight arrows. The Trump administration is shady characters through and through. Clinton himself was a savvy operator. Trump is a rage-prone obsessive who will be consumed by this.

The good news is the civic institutions are weathering the storm. The Senate Intelligence Committee put on a very good hearing. The F.B.I. is maintaining its integrity. This has, by and large, been a golden age for the American press corps. The bad news is that these institutions had better be. The Trump death march will be slow, grinding and ugly.”

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“Slow, grinding, and ugly.” Describes the Trump Administration perfectly. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I share Brooks’s rosey view of our institutions.

This incident has exposed the farce behind the self-promoted image of the US Department of Justice as “above the political fray” (it isn’t), shown the limitations of the FBI as a truly independent investigative agency (it isn’t), and highlighted the feebleness of Congress (particularly when  controlled by the GOP). Only the Federal Courts, the non-right-wing media, and a few local jurisdictions have emerged as the real protectors of our Constitution and the values of American democracy. And, by the time Trump is finished, his judicial appointments, combined with a serious lack of integrity and critical examination from the now GOP-controlled Senate, are likely to lead to the “co-opting” of the Federal Courts.

PWS

06-09-17

Kushner In Hot Water As Russia Investigation Heats Up — White House Caught Up In Web Of Deceit!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/26/us/politics/kushner-talked-to-russian-envoy-about-creating-secret-channel-with-kremlin.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

The NYT reports:

“President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, at the White House last week. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, spoke in December with Russia’s ambassador to the United States about establishing a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and Moscow to discuss strategy in Syria and other policy issues, according to three people with knowledge of the discussion.

The conversation between Mr. Kushner and the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, took place during a meeting at Trump Tower that Mr. Trump’s presidential transition team did not acknowledge at the time. Also present at the meeting was Michael T. Flynn, the retired general who would become Mr. Trump’s short-lived national security adviser, the three people said.

It is unclear who first proposed the communications channel, but the people familiar with the meeting said the idea was to have Mr. Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues. The communications channel was never set up, the people said.

The three people were not authorized to discuss the December meeting and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

News of the discussion was first reported by The Washington Post. The revelation has stoked new questions about Mr. Kushner’s connections to Russian officials at a time when the F.B.I. is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s presidential election and whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers assisted in the Russian campaign.

Current and former American officials said Mr. Kushner’s activities, like those of many others around Mr. Trump, are under scrutiny as part of the investigation. But Mr. Kushner is not currently the subject of a criminal investigation.

In the days after the meeting with Mr. Kislyak, Mr. Kushner had a separate meeting with Sergey N. Gorkov, a Russian banker with close ties to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.

American intelligence agencies first learned about the discussion several months ago, according to a senior American official who had been briefed on intelligence reports. It is unclear whether they learned about it from intercepted Russian communications or by other means.

Mr. Trump came into office promising improved relations with Russia on numerous issues, including greater cooperation to try to end the civil war in Syria. During the presidential campaign, he frequently criticized the Obama administration’s Syria policy as unnecessarily antagonistic toward Russia.

The idea behind the secret communications channel, the three people said, was for Russian military officials to brief Mr. Flynn about the Syrian war and to discuss ways to cooperate there. Neither side followed up on it. And less than two weeks later, the idea was dropped when Mr. Trump announced that Rex W. Tillerson, a former chief executive of Exxon Mobil who had worked closely with Russian officials on energy deals, was his choice to become secretary of state.

The interactions between Mr. Trump’s advisers and Mr. Kislyak have been a constant source of trouble for the new administration.”

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Read all about it at the link.

No matter what Trump might say or do, this story isn’t going away. Obviously, the Administration from top down has been unwilling to “come clean” on exactly what was going on.

PWS

05-26-17