Noisy Desperation

Yesterday, The Times* published a story that purports to reveal the central outrage against Trump that inspired his stooge Devin Nunes to write the classified memo currently figuring so prominently in wingnut fever-swamp conspiracy theories. If the reporting is accurate, the intolerable anti-Trump bias the memo reveals is that Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein requested a renewal of FISA authorization for surveillance on former Trump campaign adviser and all-around creepy guy Carter Page:

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

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

Let’s pause to recall here that Rosenstein, a Republican and Federalist Society member, was the author of the bill of goods against then-FBI Director James Comey, building a case for firing Comey at the behest of Trump and AG Sessions. Rosenstein’s case against Comey was centered on his improper handling of the Clinton email investigation, concluding that Comey had treated Clinton unfairly.

Comey DID treat Clinton unfairly, of course, but it was laughable for Donald “Lock Her Up” Trump to seize on that as an excuse to fire him. Maybe the hypocrisy was too much even for Trump (I keed!) since he quickly abandoned that rationale and straight-up confessed to Lester Holt and his camera crew that he fired Comey to obstruct justice.

So, to recap, the wingnuts who’ve been bellowing like ruptured cows about this memo are actually talking about a document that alleges anti-Trump bias in the form of an application to renew existing surveillance on Carter Fucking Page. As anyone who’s seen Page on the Chris Hayes show knows, he’s a loose cannon and therefore likely to blow up in someone’s face.

But don’t worry: the Nunes brain trust has a backup scapegoat in case their bullshit memo is ever actually released and then rightly laughed off the fucking stage. Their plan is to wail about the unfairness of the funding of the Steele dossier again. Again, via The Times, as linked above:

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

Of course, we’ve since learned that the Steele document merely corroborates intelligence forwarded by US allies who grew alarmed as they watched Russian operatives compromise an American election. Pointing fingers at US allies and a Republican Deputy AG who found probable cause to continue to surveil a Trump campaign lackey with a PhD in Russian Shenanigans just underscores the desperation of Nunes & Co. The cupboard must be truly bare if that’s all they can muster.

*Reminder that The Times occasionally reports important stories, even though their Beltway coverage is abysmal and their editorial obtuseness justifies jettisoning subscriptions all by its lonesome.

30 replies
  1. 1
    bystander says:

    Christy Todd Whitman was just on MSNBC decrying the abnormal behavior on both sides and the need for laws that codify what normal behavior is. Her example of abnormal Democratic behavior was – I kid you not – FDR’s decision to seek a 3rd term.

    Hurry, Mueller, hurry!

  2. 2
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    They leave out that Steele’s work was first funded by a Republican newsrag. I can’t recall if it was the Washington Examiner or the Free Beacon. The latter, I think, but I would have to wade through the swamp to be sure.

  3. 3
    Peale says:

    @bystander: Really, FDR? So the remedy is a constitutional amendment stating in no uncertain terms that the GOP must only nominate non-bozo candidates?

  4. 4
    FlipYrWhig says:

    And presuming everything about this was accurate it would prove TEH DEEP STATE BIASS how? Good Lord do these people have rabbit holes inside their rabbit holes.

  5. 5
    dmsilev says:

    @bystander: If you have to reach back to 19 fucking 40 in order to both-sides-do-it, then perhaps you might want to consider that in the here-and-now, both sides don’t actually do it.

  6. 6
    KickBoxBanana says:

    Things are building up to impeachment and the GOP knows it.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/28/opinion/impeachment-donald-trump.html

    Dems will have to take the house first.

  7. 7
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I think you’re right about it being Free Bacon (I wish!).

  8. 8
    James E. Powell says:

    The cupboard must be truly bare if that’s all they can muster.

    But based on what we’ve seen over the last 25 years, it’s enough to keep the FOX & RW radio scandal machine going. No doubt the NYT will see shadows & clouds. Every response will raise more questions than than it answers. It will be the coverup, not the crime. Every Republican guest on every cable & Sunday show will refer to it as established fact; the defenses offered by the Democratic guest will produce nothing more than a “both sides” conclusion from the host.

    Propaganda isn’t meant to convince anyone. It’s just telling the followers what to say.

  9. 9
    Gin & Tonic says:

    The memo’s primary contention is that F.B.I. and Justice Department officials failed to adequately explain to an intelligence court judge in initially seeking a warrant for surveillance of Mr. Page that they were relying in part on research by an investigator,

    And so? Is anyone suggesting that had they adequately explained this, the FISA warrant would not have been approved? It is to laugh. What’s the approval rate for FISA warrants, 99.999%?

  10. 10
    Mike in DC says:

    That’s it? That’s all they’ve got? Pathetic. Not even enough to provide even a flimsy excuse for Trump to fire Rosenstein.
    9 months until the midterms. 11 months until the next Congress is sworn in. I hope Mueller holds off on the impeachment referral until then.

  11. 11
    Amir Khalid says:

    @bystander:
    It was during FDR’s third term that he led America most of the way through WWII, wasn’t it? I find it hard to agree that in re-electing him America picked the wrong man, or that he shouldn’t have run again. Especially since the US Constitution did not then forbid Presidents from seeking a third term; only Washington’s example did.

  12. 12
    barb 2 says:

    AGM = Attentention Getting Mechanism = Trump = GOP

    These Narcissists will do anything to get and keep Attention.

    AGM was something I learned about in psychology back in the last century. Attention due to good or bad behavior is wanted and needed attention. At the time the exampled used was a little kid laying on the floor in a store kicking and pounding the floor and screaming and yelling. That kid had control and he knew it.

    The orange monster has called up news reporters and thanked them for a highly negative article, which put his face on the cover of a magazine. He didn’t care that the article was negative — it was/is attention. Everything he does is for attention.

    Trump: Anatomy of a Monster by Nathan Robinson goes into to his behavior and how he manipulates the press — uses the news media to get attention. The Monstrosity doesn’t care that he is destroying everything he touches and the more outrageous he picks are for partisan jobs — the more attention he gets.

    How do we keep informed and yet avoid giving him the drug (attention) he demands??????

  13. 13
    JR says:

    The cupboard must be truly bare if that’s all they can muster.

    Reminds one of the last days of the Girondins.

  14. 14
    donnah says:

    @barb 2:

    I just now finished reading a post at Vox by Ezra Klein about this very thing: Trump is Winning. He states that there are two Trumps, one who is the face of the GOP and is accomplishing what any Republican would be doing: tax breaks, cancelling Obamacare, gutting environmental agency and eliminating DACA.

    But he says the other Trump is the media agent who has managed to control the news and political environment for his own gain and attention. And it’s true; Trump is the train wreck we all watch, comment on, respond to. He loves the attention, thrives on it, good or bad. Trump is in the spotlight and he glories in it.

    But how do we ignore him? How do we not respond to his terrible ego trip and not let the Republicans continue to run rampant over civil and human rights, ruin the safeguards for the poor and aging, and turn every country in the world against us?

    That’s the question. Voting, voting, voting and regaining the majorities is our hope. And maybe we’ll see something from the Mueller investigation. Please let there be an end to the madness.

  15. 15
    Scotian says:

    Wow, and I thought the Nunes unmasking priority and the need to “inform” the WH and announce it on their lawn last year was a piece of obviousness to wipe away the ever increasing amount of excrement being revealed on the metaphoric Trump ass (not even going to speculate about the non-metaphoric one). This is beyond absurd and laughingstock level inanity AND insanity to any serious critical thinker.

    This Administration and the GOP Congressional leadership which supports it at pretty much every turn has shown itself to be a true redefinition of farce AND parody, both on the negative side of such redefinition. That they keep getting away with it speaks volumes for the reality of both the so called free press and the lack of care about the most basic process issues and needs for any democracy by far too many of its citizenry.

  16. 16
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    Her bio says she’s a former government attorney.

  17. 17
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    It just occurred to me that we haven’t heard much from Carter Page lately. If he doesn’t show up on cable news after this NYT story, that could mean any of three things: 1) He’s finally gotten a lawyer; 2) Cable news is tired of him; or 3) He is working with Russia.

  18. 18
    Shana says:

    @Mike in DC:

    And then we get President Pelosi!

  19. 19
    The Moar You Know says:

    Christy Todd Whitman was just on MSNBC decrying the abnormal behavior on both sides and the need for laws that codify what normal behavior is. Her example of abnormal Democratic behavior was – I kid you not – FDR’s decision to seek a 3rd term.

    @bystander: 78 years ago. Well, what the hey, shall we just start back from 1789 with our list of grievances? I’ve got a few.

  20. 20
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Also possible that he’s flipped.

  21. 21
    NCSteve says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:In addiction to this very important point, a far more basic, but equally important point: the vast majority of search warrants are issued on the basis of a hearsay within hearsay affidavit recounting information provided by a “confidential informant” with a penal or pecuniary motive to lie. The only difference is that most of the CI’s are criminals paid by (or under threat of prison) the cops themselves.

    That is grounds for impeachment at trial. It has little to nothing to do with the judge’s probable cause determination.

  22. 22
    barb 2 says:

    @donnah:

    The VOX article is well worth the time to read. Basically what the Psy AGM theory of child-raising — applied to an individual with no morals and zero empathy for others.

    How do we ignore him and not give him the attention that he demands? How do parents and teachers ignore the brat throwing an attention-getting temper tantrum? My brother eventually stopped — but then mom didn’t take him shopping. So he won.

    Trump is an emotional four year old – adult – with no moral core. He scares the hell out of normal folks. He is dangerous. One does not turn their backs and run from wild animals.

  23. 23
    efgoldman says:

    @barb 2:

    How do we ignore him and not give him the attention that he demands?

    Problem is, he’s “the president.” By the job title, the nature of the job, his nominal power, and where he lives he’s always front and center.

  24. 24
    randy khan says:

    The relentless focus on who paid for the Steele dossier (and, as noted by others, it first was paid for as oppo research on the Republican side), without considering the accuracy of the information contained in it, would be amusing if the people making the argument that it’s tainted weren’t so serious about it.

  25. 25
    Jinchi says:

    Rosenstein’s case against Comey was centered on his improper handling of the Clinton email investigation, concluding that Comey had treated Clinton unfairly.

    It was laughable for Trump to seize on Rosenstein’s argument as an excuse to fire Comey, but it has become clear in the months since that Trump believes Comey unfairly dropped the case against Hillary in July of 2016, not that he re-opened it in October.

    This is from Rosenstein’s letter recommending Comey be fired.

    “The director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution.”

    and so is this

    Concerning his letter to the Congress on October 28, 2016, the Director cast his decision as a choice between whether he would “speak” about the FBI’s decision to investigate the newly-discovered email messages or “conceal” it.

    Rosenstein never concluded that Comey had treated Clinton unfairly. Trump saw that both the left and the right were furious with Comey, even if for entirely contrary reasons, and felt he had free reign to fire him.

  26. 26
    NCSteve says:

    @NCSteve: “addition” not “addiction.” DYAC.

  27. 27
    J R in WV says:

    @barb 2:

    ” How do parents and teachers ignore the brat throwing an attention-getting temper tantrum? ”

    I had a teacher – second or third grade, so in the ’50s – who literally would put an out-of-control kid on a stool in the back corner of the classroom, facing into the cornet. Only the teacher could see them, and she put a conical dunce cap on them. Worked for her. No one wanted that twice.

    They also would sometimes send a student to sit on the steps outside the principle’s office, only steps away from being sent to the principle’s office. So very scary but not the ultimate threat.

  28. 28
    J R in WV says:

    For me, the Balloon Juice pages are loading so slowly that when I post even a moderately sized comment, there is no way to edit a single typo before it times out.

    So in comment 27 “facing into the cornet” should be ‘…corner.” And perhaps until the slowness is addressed, maybe the timer should be adjusted to run for 10 minutes instead of five?

  29. 29
    workworkwork says:

    @Peale: There goes their deep bench.

  30. 30
    Ryan says:

    “The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent. ”

    Wasn’t Carter Page surveilled under the Obama administration?

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