Who is Bill Palmer and where does he get this stuff?

I am one of millions following an indie journalist who is usually a step or two ahead on Trump-Russia coverage

Bill Palmer after a sunny day at the beach turned to rain (Facebook)

I try to limit the time I spend obsessing about the Trump-Russia investigations. I sometimes make it until noon before I check in for the latest twists and turns in the story.

The first place I check is The Palmer Report.

Despite extensive Googling, I have not been able to find out what Bill Palmer, senior editor and founder of the report, did for a living before he began covering the 2016 election cycle.

In the “About Palmer Report” section of his blog, Palmer describes himself as follows:

Hi, I’m Bill Palmer. I’m the creator of Palmer Report. I’m a political journalist who covered the 2016 election cycle from start to finish. Now my editorial staff and I are reporting on the political aftermath.
As the publisher of an independent news site, I can affirm all of the following: Every one of our articles includes supporting source links for independent verification. If you’re not familiar with Palmer Report, you can use those links to confirm the accuracy of our reporting for yourself. We have no connection of any kind with any candidate, campaign, party, PAC, or any other political entity. We’re as independent as they come.

On his 40th birthday yesterday he paused from his prolific daily posts about Trump/Russia to reflect on the job he is doing:

I work for you, the public. I’m a hell of a lot better at this now than I was back in 2015. And I’m better than most of the crap sites out there that pass for political news, if only by default. But it’s not enough. I have a responsibility to the public to keep improving as I go. As I move forward with Palmer Report, that continues to be my overriding goal.

As you can tell from that excerpt, Mr. Palmer speaks his mind in colorful language. His headlines are catchy and consistently slanted against the president. Here are a few recent examples, with links to the posts:

“Donald Trump, the rats, the sinking ship, and the 6% solution” (April 2, 2017)

“You bought him, you break him: regretful Donald Trump voters have a moral responsibility to oust him” (April 1, 2016)

“Former Republican Party Chairman says Donald Trump won’t finish his term” (April 1, 2017)

There are plenty of writers you can follow these days who believe nothing but the worst about Donald Trump. I don’t find them to be useful guides as I try to figure out what is really going on. Bill Palmer is in a category of one, in my opinion, because of how careful he is to cite sources for his posts and because of the power and clarity of his writing.

He also seems to be a step or two ahead of the pack in uncovering the latest twists and turns of the Russia-Trump story.

For example, on February 25, 2016, I read with interest his post titled “The momentary calm before this week’s upcoming Donald Trump Russia scandal hurricane.”

There’s a Trump-Russia hurricane coming this week. You can feel it. It’s just not making landfall today.

I had been reading The Palmer Report for a while before that post, wondering if this guy was a nutcase or if he could be counted on for original and useful reporting. I decided to watch the news carefully that week, to see if Palmer’s weather report turned out to be accurate.

Three days later, President Trump’s address to Congress received generally positive coverage, but on the following day, March 1st, the political weather turned stormy indeed.

That was the day The Washington Post broke the story that then-Sen. Jeff Sessions had spoken twice last year with Russia’s ambassador, encounters that Sessions did not disclose during his Senate confirmation hearing. Facing a storm of criticism, the Attorney General the next day recused himself from any investigation into charges that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

A hurricane? Maybe not. But it would qualify as a decent Nor’easter back where I grew up in Boston.

This is not to say that every feverish prognostication by Bill Palmer comes true. In that same February 25th post he wrote, “Ask yourself, for instance, what are the odds that [Reince] Priebus still has a job on Monday?”

The odds turned out to be pretty good, because as of tonight Trump’s Chief of Staff is still on the job, 37 days after Palmer portrayed him as a goner.

I get a headache trying to keep track of all the Russians whom Palmer tracks, but at least one of them was apparently following along carefully enough to reach out to Palmer for a correction. Here is an excerpt from a post today titled “Donald Trump and Russia: follow the money laundering:”

So I heard from Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev today through his spokesman. It was a surreal moment considering how much of a ghost-like figure he’s been throughout the Trump-Russia saga, popping up in strange times and places, never speaking. He only wished to cordially emphasize one point to me: that his 9.9% ownership stake in Bank of Cyprus was largely wiped out by the 2013 bailout. I got to thinking about why this point was important to him. And it made me realize that whoever is or is not involved, Trump-Russia is all going to come down to money laundering.

Although I find The Palmer Report enlightening and often ahead of the news cycle, I wince at the conspiratorial tone.

Conspiracy theories about President Obama were constant during his Administration, and my mother did a good job of sending me clippings with the latest scary revelations. They included the birther conspiracy, of course, and frequent predictions that Obama would set himself up as a dictator.

Instead, the 44th President gracefully turned over the nuclear codes to a successor who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and who promised to undo Obamacare and everything else Obama accomplished during his two terms.

It is not clear yet whether President Trump’s campaign conspired with Russian operatives to hack last year’s election. I hope Congress gets to the bottom of the matter quickly, so we can all move on.

We will know in a year or so how well Bill Palmer’s reporting of the story holds up in light of actual events. I can’t imagine how people working in journalism or government these days stay sane, given the 24/7 pace of the drama. I am a retired observer 2,000 miles away here in Denver, and I have to pace myself in how much I let the news affect my day.

But when I am ready for another dose, I continue to turn to Bill Palmer’s pithy, sometimes outrageous reporting in order to gather clues about what might happen next.