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.”

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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

 

 

NYT: CONFEDERACY OF LIARS!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/opinion/donald-trump-jr-russian-lawyer.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170711&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=0&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

Today’s NY Times Editorial:

“At a critical juncture in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign last year, his son Donald Trump Jr. met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who promised to share political dirt on Hillary Clinton. Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, and Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a key strategist, also attended.

The June 9, 2016, meeting is of obvious interest to Robert Mueller III, the Justice Department special counsel investigating the Trump team’s potential involvement in Russia’s effort to influence the presidential election. In two clumsy statements over the weekend, the younger Mr. Trump on Saturday said the meeting was related to Russia’s freezing of an adoption program popular with Americans. When confronted a day later with a Times story citing authoritative sources that Ms. Veselnitskaya had promised damaging material on Mrs. Clinton, he said that the information she supplied was essentially meaningless and merely a “pretext” for discussing the adoption issue.

On the face of it, this seemed a clear though perhaps unintended admission by Donald Trump Jr. that he had gone into the meeting expecting damaging information, and the episode is clearly grist for Mr. Mueller’s mill. As is a report Monday night by The Times that the president’s son had received an email saying Ms. Veselnitskaya’s information came from Moscow. But his shifty statements are also further evidence of how freely his father and the people around the president contort the truth. Only six months in, President Trump has compiled a record of dishonesty — ranging from casual misstatements to flat-out lies — without precedent in the modern presidency. Equally disheartening is his team’s willingness to share in his mendacity.

On Sunday, before Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged that there was a Clinton-related aspect to the meeting, Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, was on Fox News suggesting that the Veselnitskaya episode was “a big nothingburger” for the Trump campaign.

If a culture of dishonesty takes root in an administration, how can Americans believe anything its officials say? Take, for instance, the matter of whether President Vladimir Putin of Russia personally directed Moscow’s hacking of the 2016 presidential election. In statements dating from his first days in office until the eve of his meeting with Mr. Putin in Germany last week, when he said “nobody really knows,” Mr. Trump has deflected and sought to discredit his own intelligence agencies’ finding that Moscow, at Mr. Putin’s direction, tried to disrupt the election to help him win. Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, said after the American and Russian presidents met in Hamburg that they “had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject” and that Mr. Trump had “pressed” Mr. Putin on the issue. Later, Mr. Trump made much the same claim on Twitter. The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, had quite a different version of the facts, suggesting that Mr. Trump had characterized the hacking controversy as a “campaign” against Russia in which “not a single fact has been produced.” So whom should Americans believe? In a more credible administration, who would ever ask?

On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. hired a lawyer, while maintaining on Twitter that he’d been forthright in answering questions about the meeting last year. Meanwhile, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy press secretary, blew more smoke: The “only thing I see inappropriate” about the meeting, she said, is that it was leaked to the media.”

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Not only are they congenital liars, but they aren’t even very good at it!

PWS

07-11-17

BREAKING: WashPost Reports That Russia Probe Now Involves Trump Top Aide! — Is The “House Of Cards” Beginning To Wobble?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russia-probe-reaches-current-white-house-official-people-familiar-with-the-case-say/2017/05/19/7685adba-3c99-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_fbiprobedeck-315pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.2f64c5fc8b83

Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky Report:

“The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.

The revelation comes as the investigation appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said.

The sources emphasized that investigators remain keenly interested in people who previously wielded influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Flynn resigned in February after disclosures that he had lied to administration officials about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Current administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tikkerson.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

I think “we’ve got trouble, right here in River City!” Stay runed!

PWS

05-19-17

 

POLITICS/ENTERTAINMENT: Even With The Demise Of Ringling Bros. Opportunities For Clowns Abound — Daniel W. Drezner On “The Beclowning Of The Executive Branch!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/03/31/the-beclowning-of-the-executive-branch/?hpid=hp_regional-hp-cards_rhp-posteverything%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.0c04325e77c7

Daniel W. Drezner writes in the Washington Post:

“Fewer than a hundred days into the Trump administration, there are two, actually three, competing narratives about how the government is being run. The first narrative is the Trump administration’s claim that things are running so, so smoothly. A brief glance at the poll numbers suggests that not many people are buying this, so we can discard it quickly.

The second narrative, made by the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board among many others, is that America’s system of checks and balances turns out to be working pretty well. President Trump’s more egregious moves have been checked by federal courts and even by the court of public opinion at times. A historically unpopular and costly health-care bill did not pass the House of Representatives, which seems like the right outcome. Irresponsible foreign policy statements made by the president during the transition have been walked back. Efforts by the Trump White House to deny or scuttle investigations into foreign meddling into the election have resulted in congressional investigations, pushback by the intelligence community and recusals by Trump appointees. The administration successfully managed to pick a Supreme Court nominee who is not a laughingstock.

There’s a lot to this argument. But if I may, I’d like to proffer just a sampling of the news stories that have broken in the past 24 hours to suggest a third and more troubling narrative: the president and his acolytes are beclowning the American state.

Think I’m exaggerating? Consider the following: . . . .”

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Read Drezner’s complete article at the above link.

In a “normal” Administration, any one of the items described by Drezner would be a jaw-dropper. But, in Trump’s Washington, it’s just another day under the Big Top. After all, “the show must go on.”

PWS

04/02/17

POLITICS: WASHPOST OPINION: DANA MILBANK: Party Of Putin? — GOP Seems Remarkably Unconcerned About Russian Meddling In Our Election!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-more-concerned-with-partisanship-than-russian-meddling/2017/03/20/040d66d2-0dba-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html?utm_term=.5ff6291b591

Milbank writes:

“This would be a good time to do something about the red menace of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Instead, we’re talking about the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.

FBI Director James B. Comey, testifying Monday about his agency’s investigation into Russia’s attempt to tilt the 2016 election to Donald Trump, explained why it was “a fairly easy judgment” that Trump was Putin’s favored candidate: “Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.”

But Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, was having none of it. “Yeah, that logic might work on Saturday afternoon when my wife’s Red Raiders are playing the Texas Longhorns.” Conaway doubted such reasoning “all the rest of the time.”
So, Putin wanted Hillary Clinton to lose but didn’t want Trump? Maybe he was for Gary Johnson?

Comey tried to be patient. “Whoever the Red Raiders are playing, you want the Red Raiders to win,” he explained. “By definition, you want their opponent to lose.”
Conaway was fourth and long. He scrambled to formulate another question, then punted: “Well, let me finish up then.”

Comey’s testimony confirmed what was widely suspected: The FBI is investigating whether the president’s campaign colluded with a powerful American adversary in an attempt to swing the election. But instead of being shaken from complacency and uniting to make sure this never happens again, the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee mounted a reflexive defense of Trump.

The partisan response made it plain that there will be no serious congressional investigation of the Russia election outrage, nor any major repercussions for Russia. We were attacked by Russia — about this there is no doubt — and we’re too paralyzed by politics to respond.

Trump, whose claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower was dismissed by Comey on Monday, continued to fire his weapons of mass distraction Monday morning, tweeting about ties between Clinton and Russia and claiming “the real story” is who leaked classified information.
This is to be expected from Trump. The disheartening part was that most Republicans on the panel, which is supposed to investigate Trump, instead slavishly echoed his excuses.”

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The transformation of the GOP is an interesting experience for baby boomers like me who grew up in the 1950s when the GOP saw a “Red under every bed.”

But, times have changed. Although Putin is a KGB vet and seems to remain wedded to their brutal methods of eliminating opposition, suppressing dissent, and “messing with the heads of the West,” some folks seem to be too busy fretting about the imagined threat to our national security from Syrian refugee children to want any serious inquiry or accounting for what Putin and the Russians are up to in the U.S.

PWS

03/21/17

NYT OP-ED: DAVID LEONHARDT: Web Of Lies!

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/opinion/all-the-presidents-lies.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170321&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=2&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0&referer=

Leonhardt writes:

“The ninth week of Donald Trump’s presidency began with the F.B.I. director calling him a liar.

The director, the very complicated James Comey, didn’t use the L-word in his congressional testimony Monday. Comey serves at the pleasure of the president, after all. But his meaning was clear as could be. Trump has repeatedly accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones, and Comey explained there is “no information that supports” the claim.

I’ve previously argued that not every untruth deserves to be branded with the L-word, because it implies intent and somebody can state an untruth without doing so knowingly. George W. Bush didn’t lie when he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and Obama didn’t lie when he said people who liked their current health insurance could keep it. They made careless statements that proved false (and they deserved much of the criticism they got).

But the current president of the United States lies. He lies in ways that no American politician ever has before. He has lied about — among many other things — Obama’s birthplace, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Sept. 11, the Iraq War, ISIS, NATO, military veterans, Mexican immigrants, Muslim immigrants, anti-Semitic attacks, the unemployment rate, the murder rate, the Electoral College, voter fraud and his groping of women.

He tells so many untruths that it’s time to leave behind the textual parsing over which are unwitting and which are deliberate — as well as the condescending notion that most of Trump’s supporters enjoy his lies.

Trump sets out to deceive people. As he has put it, “I play to people’s fantasies.”

Caveat emptor: When Donald Trump says something happened, it should not change anyone’s estimation of whether the event actually happened. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. His claim doesn’t change the odds.

Which brings us to Russia.”

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Read what Leonhardt has to say about Trump’s “Russia connection” and more in the full op ed at the above link.

PWS

03/21/17

 

CNN BREAKING: Trump’s Russian Problems Deepen — Campaign In Constant Contact With Russian Intelligence!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/14/politics/donald-trump-aides-russians-campaign/index.html

“(CNN)High-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence, multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials tell CNN.

President-elect Trump and then-President Barack Obama were both briefed on details of the extensive communications between suspected Russian operatives and people associated with the Trump campaign and the Trump business, according to US officials familiar with the matter.
Both the frequency of the communications during early summer and the proximity to Trump of those involved “raised a red flag” with US intelligence and law enforcement, according to these officials. The communications were intercepted during routine intelligence collection targeting Russian officials and other Russian nationals known to US intelligence.

Among several senior Trump advisers regularly communicating with Russian nationals were then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and then-adviser Michael Flynn.

Officials emphasized that communications between campaign staff and representatives of foreign governments are not unusual. However, these communications stood out to investigators due to the frequency and the level of the Trump advisers involved. Investigators have not reached a judgment on the intent of those conversations.

Adding to US investigators’ concerns were intercepted communications between Russian officials before and after the election discussing their belief that they had special access to Trump, two law enforcement officials tell CNN. These officials cautioned the Russians could have been exaggerating their access.”

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This is  story that is unlikely to go away any time  soon.

PWS

02/14/17