United States of Authoritarianism: May 14–27

  1. Dis headline.

2. Not holding my breath, but AM crossing fingers:

An all-encompassing, dragnet investigation could very well turn up evidence of broader collusion in the Republican Party. If, as rumor has it, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have been caught turning a blind eye to Russian money being laundered into the GOP, then both the party and its most important congressional leaders are on the hook for conspiracy charges under RICO law. Once evidence of a criminal conspiracy is established, all that prosecutors have to do is prove they were part of it.
That’s tremendous leverage, and the kind of outcome that Republicans will throw Donald Trump under the impeachment bus to avoid.
Time is short and the moment of decision is at hand. The next few days may very well determine whether our Constitution and the rule of law survive Trump, or vice versa.

3. As someone else said, “Holy fuckballs…” This is treason, plain and simple.

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.
The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

which is of course why

what a monumental fuck-up.

4. Maybe. I am very skeptical of the GOP. It might help if they didn’t fucking vote 100% along with the fucker in chief.

5. This could have legs.

6. Too bad more of our allies didn’t take them at their word back in January.

7. Yah, they’re denying things that weren’t said in the WaPo report.

8. Yep.

https://twitter.com/MarkSZaidEsq/status/864293731717066752

9. I just… these headlines.

10. Indeed.

11. more /facepalm

12. /headdesk

<https://twitter.com/SopanDeb/status/864221150020349953>

13. THESE FUCKING HEADLINES. HOW SURREAL DOES IT GET?

14. For more context on what “code-level” intel means and all that:

15. David Brooks, y’all.

16. So many to choose from.

https://twitter.com/mattmfm/status/864640710204682241

17. I AM LOSING TRACK OF ALL THIS!! I go up in airplane come down to BOOM…

President Donald Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to shut down his bureau’s investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a request that Comey documented in a memo, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

18. Ooh, PUBLIC testimony like Comey wanted! Yes!

19. I’ll drop this one here.

The bad-news stories slammed into the White House in pitiless succession on Tuesday, leaving President Trump’s battle-scarred West Wing aides staring at their flat screens in glassy-eyed shock.
The disclosure that Mr. Trump divulged classified intelligence to Russian officials that had been provided by Israel was another blow to a besieged White House staff recovering from the mishandled firing of James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director.
And the day was capped by the even more stunning revelation that the president had prodded Mr. Comey to drop an investigation into Michael T. Flynn, his former national security adviser. That prompted a stampede of reporters from the White House briefing room into the lower press gallery of the White House, where Mr. Trump’s first-line defenders had few answers but an abundance of anxieties about their job security.
The president’s appetite for chaos, coupled with his disregard for the self-protective conventions of the presidency, has left his staff confused and squabbling. And his own mood, according to two advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity, has become sour and dark, and he has turned against most of his aides — even his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — describing them in a fury as “incompetent,” according to one of those advisers.
As the maelstrom raged around the staff, reports swirled inside the White House that the president was about to embark on a major shake-up, probably starting with the dismissal or reassignment of Sean Spicer, the press secretary.

Wait, what? All that and he might get rid of Spicer? I don’t even see what Spicer had to do with all this. Whoa.

20. This incident made the rounds last week but here’s the reporter himself weighing in.

I was wearing my press pass and told authorities I was a reporter. If Price had answered my question, I would have written a fairly technical story distributed only in West Virginia. Or if the police officer who arrested me had simply pulled me aside until Price and his entourage had passed, but not taken me into custody, nothing would have come of it. Instead, the story of my arrest has been national news for a week.

21. As much as I go on about impeachment, I do understand two things. One is that it will take something YUUUUGE for R’s to initiate anything. Impeachment is purely political. Трамп would have to lose that 87% approval among the R base.

Second, Pelosi & Sanders’ point that they’re not there yet is valid, however enraging. I take this to mean that any Dem impeachment of Трамп (2018 I am looking at you) needs to be airtight and 100% — eg not a fucking circus like the impeachment of Clinton. That said, GOP is getting annoyed, which is good.

22. For example:

23. But a big problem is the news from Fox to that R base, which is for example casting the whole Comey thing as a D plot. That together with the Sinclair acquisition of 70% of news outlets in the country is scary.

While CNN’s coverage focused heavily on whether Trump’s actions constituted obstruction of justice, much of Fox News’ coverage implied the media reports were part of a campaign by Democrats and those media outlets to discredit Trump. “Dems & Media in meltdown over Trump-Russia ties,” read a headline.
In a straight-ahead report, Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts said of the bombshell news: “I think it bears repeating: the White House saying the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving Gen. Flynn. But what we don’t know, though, is what the president actually did say to the former FBI director during that meeting. We only know what the White House is claiming.”
What followed on Fox News were a series of appearances by guests, including a U.S. senator, who repeated refrains that Trump uses regularly: The outcry was the result of a media double-standard and the real culprits were the government officials who leaked information to reporters.

(bolds mine)

And while I hate to direct any clicks to these guys, it’s instructive to read this and then reflect that if you’re entire news stream looks like this, you’re going to have a completely different view of all this.

Some slight differences between news outlets.

24. Also:

25. I mean, we know he’s a narcissistic nitwit, but jesus:

26. Derp derp derpity derp… However, like Rubio said, I wouldn’t click on any attachments…

https://twitter.com/ericgarland/status/864805397168828416

More context

27. Hey, only U.S. police get to do this.

28. /sigh

https://twitter.com/DavidYankovich/status/864895233686941697

29. There are now three serious investigations in progress: this, plus the House and Senate Intelligence committees which are both ramping up. Comey is testifying publicly next week before both which may be a turning point in the political situation. Also, David Kris at Lawfare:

[Robert] Mueller is experienced, knowledgeable, capable. He is utterly incorruptible. He cannot be intimidated. At this stage in his career, he has nothing to prove, no reputation to burnish, no axe to grind. He is ramrod straight in his integrity, and the DOJ press release notes that he has resigned from his law firm, Wilmer Hale, which represents Jared Kushner and perhaps others in or close to the Trump family, “to avoid any conflicts of interest.”

30. /sigh

31. I got nothin’ to say here, though Rohrabacher’s mention here leads me to hope he can be tossed from his district.

“I’ll guarantee you that’s what it is…The Russians hacked the DNC and got the opp [opposition] research that they had on Trump,” McCarthy said with a laugh.
Ryan asked who the Russians “delivered” the opposition research to.
“There’s… there’s two people, I think, Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy said, drawing some laughter. “Swear to God,” McCarthy added.
“This is an off the record,” Ryan said.
Some lawmakers laughed at that.
“No leaks, alright?,” Ryan said, adding: “This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
“That’s how you know that we’re tight,” Scalise said.
“What’s said in the family stays in the family,” Ryan added.

32. This is what, the third bombshell today? Can I go to sleep now? I’m a bit apprehensive of what tomorrow has…

33. More on what Flappy Lips flapped about.

34. Just a reminder: overall summary of just how toxic Flynn was/is:

35. Tonight’s not done just yet:

36. Interesting reading, though it’s potential fodder for the right-wing paranoia of the so-called “deep state”.

37. GOOD NIGHT!

38. More context around the taped comments of Ryan/McCarthy. It’s enraging because it shows they are well aware of the Russian interference.

39. This modus operandi was obvious from the Apprentice. Why would anyone think Трамп would change once in the WH?

But his team is growing increasingly weary. Privately they say that the problem is not an incompetent communications shop, as the president sometimes gripes, or an ineffectual chief of staff, as friends and outside operatives repeatedly warn, but the man in the Oval Office, whose preferred management style is one of competing factions and organized chaos.

40. The hits, they keep coming. Looks like a possible noose tightening around Pence, too:

On Thursday morning, Reuters reported that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and other Trump campaign advisers “were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race.”
That news stands in contrast to what Trump transition team chair-turned-Vice President Mike Pence said in January, when he repeatedly denied during TV interviews that there was any communication between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

41. Tom Riddle…

President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, reportedly advocated an “attack” response style over a more measured reaction in a White House huddle on Wednesday, according to a new report.
The meeting followed the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel in charge of the Department of Justice investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion by the Trump campaign. It resulted in conflicting messages issued by the White House in response to the appointment.

42. I’d like to know more about these, too.

43. Yeah, pretty much. Too busy grifting.

A third official observed: “There is a sense that there are no hands on the wheel and they are just letting the bus careen down the road.”

44. Unsurprisingly, not a loyal one in the lot.

https://twitter.com/peterdaou/status/865384306818117632

45. /splutter

46. You don’t say…

https://twitter.com/yahooleaks/status/865211336799772673

(context)

and snark:

https://twitter.com/sethmoulton/status/865238855800279040

47. Grifter scum family.

48. Takes one to know one, I suppose.

49. Wow…just read this letter, regarding the Senate health care bill committee. (Cooper is D, Corker is R.)

50. Stealing money from children with cancer.

51. Good for them.

52. Unclear exactly what is going on here, should probably keep an eye on it.

Chaffetz, known for his hard-charging investigations of Hillary Clinton and her handling of emails, announced on April 19 that he would not seek re-election, then followed up last week by saying he was leaving early, with his last day in Congress on June 30.
The decision came as the House Oversight Committee began looking into President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.
The congressman has said the decision was motivated by a “midlife crisis” and a desire to be with his family rather than spend more nights away from home in Washington.

53. Fucker can’t keep his mouth shut.

54. Useful reference.

55. Good overview of the Balkanization of American media.

56. This is really, really bad.

The disclosures renewed concerns over leaks from Donald Trump’s administration two weeks after the US president revealed classified information, apparently from Israel, to Russia’s foreign minister in a White House meeting. Critics warn that US allies may be less willing to share intelligence in the future.

57. Ouch. That won’t help the economy, either.

58. Hopefully. Backlashes evident so far in special elections (looking to see what happens in Montana tomorrow!) so…

There’s been a considerable decline in the number of Americans who strongly approve of Trump, from a peak of around 30 percent in February to just 21 or 22 percent of the electorate now. (The decline in Trump’s strong approval ratings is larger than the overall decline in his approval ratings, in fact.) Far from having unconditional love from his base, Trump has already lost almost a third of his strong support. And voters who strongly disapprove of Trump outnumber those who strongly approve of him by about a 2-to-1 ratio, which could presage an “enthusiasm gap” that works against Trump at the midterms. The data suggests, in particular, that the GOP’s initial attempt (and failure) in March to pass its unpopular health care bill may have cost Trump with his core supporters.

Which leads me to wonder what the effect of the travesty the House *did* pass will have? Hmmm.

59. Keep an eye on this. Essentially the WH is at war with the Justice dept.

60. Ugh. At this rate, only rich kids will have an education, which is exactly what this rich bitch is aiming for.

61. Terrifying. There’s not even the pretense of putting brakes on this (insofar as WallstreetGreed has been working on this for decades).

First, the plan calls for several well-known privatization projects. Airport traffic control would be corporatized. The lines, towers, and substations of the Power Marketing Administration, which helps the government sell hydroelectric power across the south and west, would be sold off. The administration also argues for tolls and private investment at rest stops on interstate highways, and congestion management strategies for urban areas.
But that’s just the beginning. The most significant signal of the Trump Administration’s goals may lie in the document’s other and more nebulous key principle: “Align Infrastructure Investment with Entities Best Suited to Provide Sustained and Efficient Investment.”

62. Words fail me.

Heather Rinkus, the guest reception manager at Trump’s “Winter White House,” is working with the president’s advance and logistics team, while Trump’s exclusive club, Mar-a-Lago, closes for the summer. She has an official White House email and government-issued phone, two sources familiar with Rinkus’s trip told BuzzFeed News.
An administration source confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday that Rinkus was officially listed as an advance associate for the Taormina leg of the trip and had government-issued blackberry and email.
She is married to a twice-convicted felon, Ari Rinkus, who is known to brag about his wife’s access to the president as he trawls for investors and pursues government contracts on behalf of a foreign company, BuzzFeed News previously detailed.

63. What would be shocking if something was fucking done about this. Hello?

64. This article is pretty thorough about Gianforte, body-slammer extraordinaire.

65. He can’t shuffle off the stage fast enough to suit me.

66. Making America into something it is not.

Tucked into the end of the budget requests from the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, the Trump administration calls for a wholesale rewrite of 1373. The revisions amount to a kind of wish list: Running three pages, they explicitly require jurisdictions to not only share citizenship information but to call on jail personnel to comply with federal detainer requests as well as requests that they notify authorities of the pending release of someone who is in the country illegally — or risk federal grant funding from both the Justice Department and Homeland Security.
“Only” complying with 1373, in other words, would become a far larger proposition.
DHS offered an understated assessment of the changes, saying that 1373, “as it exists today, is about information-sharing. The language in the budget would amend that that,” spokesman David Lapan said at a briefing with reporters Wednesday.
But outside the agency, the revisions — included in the appendices of the Justice Department and DHS budget proposals and not contained in the agencies’ more reader-friendly budget summaries — sparked surprise among legal scholars, and condemnation from Democrats and civil rights groups.
“It’s a pretty dramatic change,” says Christopher Lasch, an associate professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law who studies detainers and sanctuary policies. “This draft sort of reflects what the administration wishes that 1373 does for them already.”

They’re not even doing it properly:

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Immigration Task Force, offered a blunter assessment.
“If they feel strongly that they need a new law, the Republicans control both houses of Congress, so go through the Judiciary Committee,” Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat and member of the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, said in a statement. “But no, this president wants to slip new language into a budget proposal rather than go through his own party. Do they even know how Congress works?”

https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2017-05-25/trump-administration-gambles-on-a-sanctuary-city-crackdown

67. This is awesome. And then you can see Трамп do his moronic yank-em off balance handshake. Trudeau needs to teach the other world leaders the counter to this.

https://twitter.com/HawaiiDelilah/status/867854154500329472

68. Not one bit of creativity. Fucking grifters.

Jared Kushner has just been revealed as the senior White House adviser who is under investigation in the Russia probe — which is news that comes as little surprise. Indeed, when The Washington Post reported last week that a then-unnamed top Trump adviser was a focus, many quickly assumed it was Kushner.
But while those assumptions were based on his known contacts with Russians and his status as one of few senior White House aides, there’s another reason his naming fits the puzzle: He’s related to Trump.
Kushner’s ability to even work in the White House has been the subject of plenty of debate because he is Trump’s son-in-law. (Kushner has made concessions to try and avoid violating a federal anti-nepotism law, including forgoing a paycheck.) And a big reason anti-nepotism laws exist is to avoid the corruption that all too often comes with installing your relatives in positions of power.

No shit, sherlock.

69. Another round lost in court.

President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination,” a federal appeals court said Thursday in ruling against the executive order targeting six Muslim-majority countries.
Trump’s administration vowed to take the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Of course they do.

70. Трамп is a national embarrassment.

71. Fits right in with the GOP crowd. Something to remember here. Quist was vastly outspent, running in a state that went 21 points for T and yet just about smoked Gianforte. The R’s should be worried. And the Dems need to fucking get their game face on.

72. Priorities…

73. Indeed.

https://twitter.com/Matt4CT/status/868082633686831105

74. The fuck is this shit? What the fuck gives this little jackanapes fuckwit the means to throw this country over?

Kushner met with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December at Trump Tower, where he floated the possibility of setting up a secure line of communication between the Trump transition team and Russia — and having those talks take place in Russian diplomatic facilities in the US. That would essentially conceal their interactions from US government scrutiny, The Post wrote, citing US intelligence officials briefed on the matter.

This traitorous little weasel belongs in jail. And if McMasters is “unconcerned,” then he’s lost whatever vestiges of respect might have been due him given his past experience and expertise in the military.

“This raises a bunch of problematic issues. First, of course, is the Logan Act, which prohibits private individuals conducting negotiations on behalf of the US government with foreign governments. Second, it tends to reinforce the notion that Trump’s various actions about Comey do constitute obstruction.”
“In other words, there is now motive added to conduct,” Deitz said. “This is a big problem for the President.”

Wow…

75. Children, once again, much smarter than adults.

76. <rolls eyes>

https://twitter.com/MaggieJordanACN/status/868494179835551744

77. What the actual fuck are these people smoking?

https://twitter.com/Susan_Hennessey/status/868507346829549568

78. Interesting!

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