I Will Be Treated Fairly Or Else: The Trump Doctrine In Action In Ukraine

In April 2016 I delineated the Trump Doctrine, which was the central through line message of the President’s campaign, as (emphasis mine):

America’s allies are taking advantage of our treaty and other obligations in the national security space; America’s allies and peer competitors are ripping the US off through our trade agreements; the US should go it alone if it can’t renegotiate better deals; and only a President Trump could guarantee that the US would be treated fairly – or else. That only a President Trump could guarantee that the US would be treated fairly, whether in national security arrangements or global trade, was simply an extension of one of the major, if not the major theme of his campaign: Donald Trump would be treated fairly or else and only Donald Trump could guarantee that Americans, especially the forgotten men and women as he phrased it, would be treated fairly or else.

As I wrote two years later, after the most recent demonstration air strikes by the US against Assad’s government in Syria, the Trump Doctrine was a form of strategic communication genius:

That the US will be treated fairly or else, and that only a President Trump could guarantee that happening became the central, unifying theme of his national security and foreign policy approach was actually a stroke of strategic communication genius. A significant amount of the President’s initial strategic communication approach was through tying his primary opponents, the Republican National Committee, and the broadcast and cable news networks in knots about treating him fairly. This included trying to get Megyn Kelly removed from debate moderation after he felt she treated him badly, as well as actually dropping out of a GOP primary debate on Fox News and holding a competing charity event for veterans because he did not like that Fox wouldn’t comply with his demands. And if they failed to do so he’d deal with them harshly. Then candidate Trump threatened his fellow primary opponents and the RNC by making it clear that if he didn’t feel he was being treated fairly by them, then the “or else” would be his running as an independent candidate, thereby splitting the Republican vote for president, and handing the election to the then presumed Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton.

By making this the dominant theme of his national security and foreign policy approach, he was able to make a singular through line for his campaign – “I, Donald Trump, will be treated fairly or else by the GOP, the RNC, and the news media; only I, Donald Trump, can guarantee that you the forgotten men and women of America are treated fairly in regards to both domestic politics and foreign policy; and only I, Donald Trump, can guarantee that the US will be treated fairly or else there will be serious and severe repercussions for the GOP, the RNC, the news media, elected and appointed officials, and America’s allies, partners, and peer competitors”. Here was the simple through line to connect Make America Great Again both domestically and internationally by placing America first. It is also the essence of the real Trump Doctrine: President Trump and by extension the forgotten men and women of America, as well as America itself, will be treated fairly or else.

We now have an excellent empirical example of the Trump Doctrine in effect in Ukraine. As the NY Times reports, the Ukrainian government stopped cooperating with Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation regarding former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, his connections to Russia, as well as potential connections between Manafort, the President’s campaign, and Russia. They’ve also decided to slow walk their own investigation.

In the United States, Paul J. Manafort is facing prosecution on charges of money laundering and financial fraud stemming from his decade of work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

But in Ukraine, where officials are wary of offending President Trump, four meandering cases that involve Mr. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, have been effectively frozen by Ukraine’s chief prosecutor.

The cases are just too sensitive for a government deeply reliant on United States financial and military aid, and keenly aware of Mr. Trump’s distaste for the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign, some lawmakers say.

The decision to halt the investigations by an anticorruption prosecutor was handed down at a delicate moment for Ukraine, as the Trump administration was finalizing plans to sell the country sophisticated anti-tank missiles, called Javelins.

The State Department issued an export license for the missiles on Dec. 22, and on March 2 the Pentagon announced final approval for the sale of 210 Javelins and 35 launching units. The order to halt investigations into Mr. Manafort came in early April.

Volodymyr Ariev, a member of Parliament who is an ally of President Petro O. Poroshenko, readily acknowledged that the intention in Kiev was to put investigations into Mr. Manafort’s activities “in the long-term box.

At NY Magazine, Jonathan Chait suggests this may be because someone in the administration bribed the Ukrainians. Quite simply: stop cooperating and you’ll keep your financial aid and get the weapons you want.

It is of course possible that Ukraine reached this decision on its own, completely independent of any suggestion from Washington. It is far more likely that somebody in the administration proposed a quid pro quo, and Ukraine quite rationally decided it would rather have weapons to defend itself against the next Russian aggression than participate in an investigation that the president of the United States regards as a mortal threat.

The latter possibility cannot be assumed as fact, of course. But it is striking that when the missile sale came up in December, almost nobody even considered the possibility that it might be used as a bribe to shut down Ukrainian cooperation with Mueller.

I think Chait is reading far too much into the Ukrainian government’s decisions to both stop cooperating with Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation and to put their own on indefinite hold. The Ukrainians, like President Moon in the ROK and the Qataris, have simply recognized what is in their own best self interest by accurately assessing who the President is, how he understands the world, and what is therefore the best way to interact with the him, other US officials, and the US in order to achieve their self interests. Think of all three of these as real world examples of the effects of the Trump Doctrine – ensuring that the President will be treated fairly in order to avoid the or else.

The NY Times‘ reporting supports this conclusion.

David Sakvarelidze, a former deputy prosecutor general who is now in the political opposition, said he did not believe that the general prosecutor had coordinated with anybody in the United States on the decision to suspend the investigations in Ukraine, or that there had been a quid pro quo for the missile sale.

Ukrainian politicians, he said, concluded on their own that any help prosecuting Mr. Manafort could bring down Mr. Trump’s wrath.

“Can you imagine,” Mr. Sakvarelidze said, “that Trump writes on Twitter, ‘The United States isn’t going to support any corrupt post-Soviet leaders, including in Ukraine.’ That would be the end of him.”

Last summer, another member of Parliament, Andrey L. Derkach, initiated an investigation into leaks to the news media about Mr. Manafort’s dealings from Ukrainian law enforcement, saying they put at risk vital American aid to Ukraine. He has openly opposed any Ukrainian role in aiding the special counsel’s investigation.

Ukraine, Mr. Derkach said in an interview, would be taking grave risks if it assisted in what he called a politicized investigation in the United States. In Ukraine, he said, “everybody is afraid of this case.”

It will be important to look out for and to see where else the Trump Doctrine comes into play in international relations. Which other state and non-state actors decide to make sure the President feels as if he’s being treated fairly in order to avoid the or else. Or which state and non-state actors simply decide not to engage on specific issues and problem sets to avoid creating the impression they are not treating the President fairly so as to avoid the or else. And what effects it has on how the global system is ordered and functions.

Stay frosty.

Open thread.

 






131 replies
  1. 1
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Fucking cowards. They should know by now that this guy is unstable and never holds to his promises and changes on a dime. I will never forgive the people who voted for him and continue to support him. They are dead to me and always will be no matter how much they whine about being “mistreated by ‘elites'”.

  2. 2
    TenguPhule says:

    in order to avoid the or else.

    So Obstruction of Justice the old Chicago way.

  3. 3
    NotMax says:

    It will be important to look out for and to see where else the Trump Doctrine comes into play in international relations.

    “Nice little planet you’ve got here. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it.”

  4. 4
    Corner Stone says:

    It’s not going to happen overnight, but the entire Western world and democratic societies will be abandoning the US as anything other than an unreliable mafia thug. Albeit with a bunch of mercenaries. That will change also as they make more and larger economic ties with each other – and not the US.

  5. 5
    MJS says:

    The Ukrainian government will have to learn the hard lessons one learns when in any way supporting Shit Midas.

  6. 6
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NotMax:

    Nice little planet you’ve got here. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it

    But that’s where I keep all my stuff!

  7. 7

    @Corner Stone: Yes, he will get away with it, until he doesn’t. We are going to see a move away from the $ as the reserve currency.

  8. 8
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I hear Blue Origin is nice this time of year.

  9. 9
    rikyrah says:

    It’s not up to Trump whether to talk to Mueller
    By Jennifer Rubin
    May 2 at 9:45 AM

    As Right Turn has discussed from time to time, the story line that President Trump has the option whether to sit down with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is simply wrong. Mueller has the option to ask the grand jury to issue a subpoena to compel Trump’s testimony under oath and without his lawyer present. (Witnesses can go outside to consult with a lawyer, but witnesses ordinarily do not get to bring their attorney into the grand jury room.) Perhaps now Trump, his lawyers and the TV talking heads will approach Trump’s testimony more realistically: It isn’t up to him to decide to cooperate — unless he wants to take the unprecedented step of thwarting an investigation into his own wrongdoing by invoking the Fifth Amendment.

    …………………………………

    Why would Trump’s team leak the questions? It seems that Trump’s lawyers thought the list would show that Mueller was being overbearing or ranging too far. (“The president and several advisers now plan to point to the list as evidence that Mueller has strayed beyond his mandate and is overreaching, they said. … ‘Mueller is in Kenny Starr territory now,’ said another Trump adviser, referring to how the controversial independent counsel investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s real estate deals in Arkansas ended up examining the president’s lies about his sexual relationship with a White House intern.”) The fact remains that Starr was empowered, as Mueller is now, to investigate crimes revealed in the course of the investigation.

    If members of Trump’s team thought they’d show that Mueller really was on a witch hunt, they blew it. The list of questions establishes concrete lines of inquiry appropriate to determining whether obstruction of justice and/or improper coordination with Russia occurred. This is not a free-ranging inquiry into Trump’s business deals.

  10. 10
    rikyrah says:

    @Corner Stone:

    It’s not going to happen overnight, but the entire Western world and democratic societies will be abandoning the US as anything other than an unreliable mafia thug. Albeit with a bunch of mercenaries. That will change also as they make more and larger economic ties with each other – and not the US.

    No lies told

  11. 11
    rikyrah says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    I will never forgive the people who voted for him and continue to support him. They are dead to me and always will be no matter how much they whine about being “mistreated by ‘elites’”.

    Come sit by me

  12. 12
    Manyakitty says:

    I saw something on twitter from Mieke Eoyang about this and emoluments. Is manipulating foreign countries into interfering with Mueller’s investigation an emolument or some other kind of manipulation?

  13. 13
    Adam L Silverman says:

    I’m Salvatore Ferragamo and I endorse this message!

  14. 14
    Corner Stone says:

    Until someone can drive a well done steak through the heart of the GOP, the world must recognize by now that the US is one two year election cycle away from incontinent, incompetent madmen being in control of at least one branch of govt. And that they not only refuse to govern, but they engage in active measures to make sure it’s impossible to do so in the future. Even after the stain of Trump has shuffled off this mortal coil, another 2010 is just waiting for its chance.

  15. 15
    Timurid says:

    The very definition of penny wise, pound foolish. They gain some minimal tactical advantage (they could blow through that whole stockpile of Javelins in a couple of weeks of intense combat) in exchange for helping Trump and thus helping their Russian enemies win the long game.

  16. 16
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Corner Stone:
    @schrodingers_cat:
    Someone last night raised an interesting point about this. They wondered what would happen when the GOP and their base realised that this was happening and the US no longer had the same position it did in the past. They also worried that they would react violently in response to gain it back.

    Would this happen or they do too far up their butts?

  17. 17
    Manyakitty says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Better than Bruno Magli, right?

  18. 18
    gene108 says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Honestly, as long as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, et. al. are drawing in large audiences, half this country will vote to cut off our nose to spite our face, because that’ll show the world how tough we are.

    There’s no real way to change things, with regards to foreign policy, as long as half the country doesn’t have a clue as to what made America great, in the eyes of the world and doesn’t want to learn.

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Have you considered gold coins? We here at Balloon Juice can help you ensure a safe, tangible, and very shiny investment in gold coins to secure your and your family’s future in these uncertain times.

  20. 20
    TenguPhule says:

    @Corner Stone:

    It’s not going to happen overnight, but the entire Western world and democratic societies will be abandoning the US as anything other than an unreliable mafia thug.

    Unreliable mafia thugs tend to get bumped off for being unreliable by their bosses.

  21. 21
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush is now running for President of Iraq.

    The Circle of Comedy is now complete.

  22. 22
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I saw that clip again recently and was just in awe. What a badass that dude is. Whip! Flying shoe right at the kisser! WHIP! A little high and wide but it had some authority!

  23. 23
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Corner Stone:

    another 2010 is just waiting for its chance.

    I’m hoping that this is beginning to change and that people have woken up who weren’t paying attention

  24. 24
    oatler. says:

    Please, Interesting Times, go back to normal, this curse is ruining us!

  25. 25

    @Adam L Silverman: I have all the gold I need, thank you.

    ETA: I was thinking of either the Euro or the Yen

  26. 26
    TenguPhule says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Until someone can drive a well done steak through the heart of the GOP, the world must recognize by now that the US is one two year election cycle away from incontinent, incompetent madmen being in control of at least one branch of govt. And that they not only refuse to govern, but they engage in active measures to make sure it’s impossible to do so in the future.

    There’s an international gentleman’s agreement about not targeting other heads of state and senior members of government.

    Republicans are no gentlemen.

    Foreign IC leaks aren’t gonna do it. They need to do some actual fieldwork for the best interests of their countries and ours.

  27. 27
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @TenguPhule:
    I will never understand why Putin thought it was a good idea to help put an unstable madman in charge of the most powerful state on the planet with the biggest nucealr arsenal. How could he not see how that could end badly for him, even he weren’t the target? Unless he’s crazy too.

  28. 28
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Have you considered gold coins? We here at Balloon Juice can help you ensure a safe, tangible, and very shiny investment in gold coins to secure your and your family’s future in these uncertain times.

    I believe in a potato backed currency.

  29. 29
    GregB says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I still consider dodging those to be George W’s greatest accomplishment.

  30. 30
    TenguPhule says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    Unless he’s crazy too.

    AFAIK, Putin’s goal is that he lives well and fuck everyone else when he’s dead, because it won’t be his problem.

  31. 31
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Manyakitty: Could be if you could actually show all the parts of the quid pro and quo. She’s an attorney who specializes in national security and intel because of her staff work in Congress, so I’d defer to her or Eisen or Painter or Schaub on the legal and constitutional issues here. That said, it would be very, very, very hard to prove that Chait’s theory is right and mine is wrong unless the Ukrainians made a record and are willing to share it.

  32. 32
    TenguPhule says:

    @gene108:

    There’s no real way to change things, with regards to foreign policy, as long as half the country doesn’t have a clue as to what made America great, in the eyes of the world and doesn’t want to learn.

    So FEMA camps for the GOP it is!

  33. 33
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Timurid: As I wrote the other night, the President thinks he knows the price of everything, but really knows the value of nothing.

    The question now is how quickly that unfortunate reality spreads to others when they have to deal with him.

  34. 34
    gene108 says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    I think the GOP would want to start a war, if they could figure out how to get popular support behind it. They did this with Iraq, in 2002 and 2003. Even when Bush, Jr. got what he said he wanted – inspectors back into Iraq – he still decided to go to war.

    The real issue is after 20 years of being engaged in various combat missions around the world, can they as effectively muster support, like they did 15 years ago?

    I hope not.

    Also, too I’m not sure how they sustain a large scale military engagement to make America great again, while cutting taxes for the rich and corporations. All the world has to do is stop buying U.S. bonds and we won’t be able to pay our military.

  35. 35
    rikyrah says:

    3 Black Girls Competing to Win Trip to NASA Reportedly Hacked by Racists
    Angela Helm
    Today 11:20am

    Although it has been reported that NASA shut down voting after a team of three black girls was handily winning a contest it sponsored, it appears that what happened was that someone hacked the system to take votes away from the girls, and that’s why the contest was shut down before the stated official voting window had closed.

    Bria Snell, India Skinner and Mikayla Sharrieff, three students at Benjamin A. Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C. (full disclosure: my alma mater, Class of ’90), entered NASA Goddard’s Optimus Prime Spinoff Promotion and Research Challenge to win a trip to the esteemed national space program in Greenbelt, Md.

    The three, who volunteer at the Inclusive Innovation Incubator program in D.C., sought to create a technology that would purify public schools’ water systems through filtration jars that filter water while detecting pH imbalances.

    After making it to the semifinal round, the young women were in the lead with 78 percent of the vote (which someone was kind enough to take a screenshot of) when NASA closed voting a day early to “protect the integrity of the vote.”

    ……………………………………………….

    NASA released a statement, which read in part:

    On Sunday, April 29, hackers attempted to change the vote totals in the NASA OPSPARC Challenge, so managers of the challenge decided to end public voting to protect the integrity of the results.

    Before the voting ended, members of the public were using social media to generate support for particular teams in the public voting. NASA supports this kind of community-based effort to encourage students to engage with science, technology, engineering and math and recognizes social media as an important tool for that support. Votes generated this way are legitimate and will be counted. Unfortunately, it was brought to NASA’s attention yesterday that some members of the public used social media, not to encourage students and support STEM, but to attack a particular student team based on their race and encouraged others to disrupt the contest and manipulate the vote, and the attempt to manipulate the vote occurred shortly after those posts. NASA continues to support outreach and education for all Americans, and encourages all of our children to reach for the stars.

  36. 36
    TenguPhule says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I was thinking of either the Euro or the Yen

    I suggest the Euro unless you plan on visiting Japan.

    Abe’s government is not exactly what I’d call reliable.

  37. 37
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Manyakitty: Perhaps he’s trying for both their endorsements.

  38. 38
    Jeffro says:

    It is of course possible that Ukraine reached this decision on its own, completely independent of any suggestion from Washington. It is far more likely that somebody in the administration proposed a quid pro quo,

    And please FSM, let any/all such communications or other records come to light.

  39. 39
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: Iraqis are good at that.

  40. 40
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: We here at Balloon Juice also offer gold plated euros and yens to help you secure your and your entire family’s future in these uncertain times.

  41. 41
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Its such a shame that he missed.

  42. 42
    NotMax says:

    @TenguPhule

    Yukon gold?

    Bitspuds!

  43. 43
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: You Idahoans!

  44. 44
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @TenguPhule:
    Sure, but the point is that it could be his problem while he’s alive. A limited nuclear exchange, between the US and another country, would do more than just ruin his day, for example.

  45. 45
    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    the President thinks he knows the price of everything, but really knows the value of nothing.

    Yup. Also, he thinks he can set the price of everything, and – since any negotiating like a normal human being is a sign of weakness (thanks, ghost of Fred Trump) – he typically has to escalate like a madman or back down like the chastened bully he is. It all depends on who he’s dealing with.

  46. 46
    TenguPhule says:

    @NotMax: Well played.

  47. 47
    Betty Cracker says:

    I’m not sure stonewalling the Mueller investigation is ultimately in Ukraine’s best interest.

  48. 48
    TenguPhule says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    A limited nuclear exchange, between the US and another country, would do more than just ruin his day, for example.

    Putin obviously believes he has Trump by the short and curlies.

    So far, he hasn’t been proven wrong.

    When you have a man’s testes in a firm grip of steel, their heart and mind will follow.

  49. 49
    SFAW says:

    @TenguPhule:

    I believe in a potato backed currency.

    Sort of a half-baked idea. Were you fried when you hashed that one out? Or is it just a mash-up of other ideas?

    I got more, but I’m “keeping my powder dry.”

  50. 50
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @rikyrah:
    That’s fucking disgusting. Maybe mail voting should be brought back?

  51. 51
    TenguPhule says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’m not sure stonewalling the Mueller investigation is ultimately in Ukraine’s best interest.

    But in the long run they are also all dead.

    Missiles today, let tomorrow take care of itself. //

  52. 52
    TenguPhule says:

    @SFAW: Great, now everyone is going to chip in.

  53. 53
    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman: The guy really ought to have his own line of loafers – let’s call ’em “No Ws”. If they were comfy AND aerodynamic, I know I’d buy a pair!

  54. 54
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Sir Terry Prachett has been right about everything else so far. And until we have golems we can at least eat the potatoes.

  55. 55
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @TenguPhule:
    Well excuse me if I don’t trust Putin’s instincts. The entire world is in danger because of one man’s arrogance and greed. Who the hell does he think he is that he can decide the fates of billions? This truly is the darkest timeline.

  56. 56

    @Adam L Silverman: I am interested in Tunch coins.

  57. 57
    Manyakitty says:

    @rikyrah: Sounds like NASA handled this in an acceptable manner. It also sounds like those girls (deservedly) won!

  58. 58
    NotMax says:

    @TenguPhule

    Trivia:

    In early colonial New England, sweet potatoes were common but white potatoes were much less so, being imported (usually reluctantly from more southern colonies as exchange for goods sent there). They were kept as a food of very last resort during the leanest times of winter and any left over come springtime were routinely burned, it being believed that using them to feed horses or livestock would prove fatal to the animals.

  59. 59
    jl says:

    Don’t have time to check whether another commenter mentioned this, but the NY Magazine article gives a different history of the leaked (and IMHO purported) Mueller questions:

    ” Reporters immediately rebutted this charge by noting that Mueller’s questions included many queries into his campaign’s collusion with Russia. But it turns out, once again, we all assumed far too much good faith. The Washington Post now reports the questions were compiled not by Mueller but by Trump’s own legal team, based on topics proposed by Mueller. ”

    The WaPo report is more in line with suspicions raised by the (admittedly rather few) questions I saw quoted in the news. These are not actually questions that Mueller proposed, and they are not even sloppy transcriptions by the Trump team of a verbal report. The WaPo report indicated they were crude tuesstimates of what Mueller might asked based on communications between the legal teams.

    Edit: If WaPo report is true, I have to wonder whether the NYT puffed up the provenance of the questions in a sleazy attempt to puff its own reporting. The NYT language as really too vague for the preeminent national paper of recrod, IMHO.

    Edit2: And, if WaPo story is true, the notorious Mueller questions are another outrageous, counterproductive, and also dangerous lie and fraud by the Trumpsters. I wonder if whether this fraud foisted on the public has anything to do with Cobb leaving the Trump legal team. He might have decided to get out before his career is put in danger.

  60. 60
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Betty Cracker: They have to balance their short to medium term need for US weapons to hold off and push back the Russian based insurgency in eastern Ukraine against their long term interests to shed light on Yanukovych’s Putin backed kleptocracy.

  61. 61
    Jay says:

    @Timurid:

    Yup.

    Western weapons supplies to Ukraine range from non-existent to inconsequential. Ukraine’s military problems are not arn’t a shortage of weapons or modern weapons.

    US financial support through the IMF are more symbolic than monetary, the EU is doing the heavy lifting on financial aid, and the process is highly corrupt.

    The Military Training Mission is important, but it’s conducted under the ageis of NATO, and were the US to pull out, other NATO members would stand up.

    It’s about “reading the room”, and the Ukrainians are reading the room all wrong. While Treason Tribble’s Administration continues to deny the Russian threat and interference, and appears at a strategic level, trying to actively collude with Putin’s goals,

    The Rest of The West has gone from mild annoyance to open alarm over Russian manipulations.

    Taking active measures to aid Treason Tribble and the Grand Old Party of Russians, ( GOPR’s) is not in Ukraine’s best interests, short term or long term.

  62. 62
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @SFAW: Well played, well played indeed.

  63. 63
    Mart says:

    @NotMax: Maybe sweet potatoes were preferred as no refined sugar was available. People gonna feed that sweet tooth.

  64. 64
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: We have a golem. He’s sealed up in an upper room of the Great Synagogue of Prague. Trust me, you don’t want him let loose.

  65. 65
    Manyakitty says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Hmm…nobody answered my question over there, so it might still be too soon to tell what’s happening.

  66. 66
    Jay says:

    @rikyrah:

    NASA should name them and shame them, and block their IP’s from access to all NASA websites and pages.

  67. 67
    rikyrah says:

    APNEWSALERT: Black men arrested at Starbucks settle with Philadelphia for $1 each and a city pledge of $200K for young entrepreneurs.

    — Tom Namako (@TomNamako) May 2, 2018

  68. 68
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jl: The WaPo story is correct. It fleshed out the bare bones reporting on the provenance of the questions in the NY Times story. The only outstanding question is who ultimately leaked them on the President’s side. Ed Henry apparently said last night that two of his sources said the President leaked them himself so all the potential witnesses knew what they were and could get their responses on the same page. This would be witnessing tampering.

  69. 69
    The Moar You Know says:

    Be nice to America’s Asshole Dad or he’ll beat the fuck out of everyone in the house – except for his favorite snitch of the moment – when he gets home from “work”.

    Never thought America would get to live the life of an alcoholic’s family on a national scale.

  70. 70
    TenguPhule says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    Who the hell does he think he is that he can decide the fates of billions?

    He thinks he is the man who rules Russia with an iron fist and has made Trump and the GOP his little bitch.

    I’m afraid he’s not wrong.

  71. 71
    TenguPhule says:

    @jl:

    I have to wonder whether the NYT puffed up the provenance of the questions in a sleazy attempt to puff its own reporting.

    At this point you don’t have to wonder.

  72. 72
    Corner Stone says:

    I miss the days one would wonder where Rudy was hiding because he was so conspicuously quiet. Now his ghoulish rictus is plastered into every damn breaking news story.

  73. 73
    NotMax says:

    @Matt

    More trivia:

    Tea was essentially unknown and when it did begin to arrive the colonists had little to no conception of what to do with it. Records exist relating that they would boil it, toss the liquid and eat the leaves, mixing them with grape juice and honey.

  74. 74
    The Moar You Know says:

    I saw that clip again recently and was just in awe. What a badass that dude is. Whip! Flying shoe right at the kisser! WHIP! A little high and wide but it had some authority!

    @Corner Stone: I was impressed all around. Shoe Guy has a contender’s arm on him, and W has some pretty good fucking reflexes and didn’t panic or overreact. Our current “president” would have literally shit his pants and been screaming for the guy’s execution.

  75. 75
    TenguPhule says:

    @NotMax:

    Records exist relating that they would boil it, toss the liquid and eat the leaves, mixing them with grape juice and honey.

    Sounds legit. On par with the old stories of people who would eat the orange peel and discard the orange because they didn’t bother to check if there was anything under the white part.

  76. 76
    The Moar You Know says:

    I was thinking of either the Euro or the Yen

    @schrodingers_cat: The Euro is a legitimate contender for that position. The yen is a pathetic joke at this point in history, a marginally better and more stable currency than the peso or ruble.

  77. 77
    Corner Stone says:

    @The Moar You Know: That first one was on point. If it had connected W would have had a bloody nose and two black eyes for a week. The Iraqi would have achieved status: Legendary, just like the guy in Tiananmen Square several years back that stood in front of the tank. You know you’re a badass when you’re only known as Tank Man. Tank Man and Shoe Guy: Justice Crusaders! Coming to Netflix this Fall.

  78. 78
    Jay says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    The guy was sentenced to 3 years, served 9 months,

    Should have gotten a medal and a parade instead.

    His op ed on release:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/sep/17/why-i-threw-shoe-bush

  79. 79
    jl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: You could make a case for witness tampering if these were real questions that Mueller’s team submitted in writing, or were transcribed directly from verbal descriptions. But they were made up by the Trumpsters from topics suggested by Mueller.

    IANAL, but the ones I saw seemed very generic and obvious, and from the viewpoint of the different things a lawyer might want to find out using a question, guileless and obtuse. Seems to me you’d want to word the questions differently and have different levels of detail depending on whether they thought Trump would become a target, or they wanted to check Trump’s truthfulness (or could even think at all straight), or in case Trump’s testimony might be most useful as a witness or in negotiations for plea deals with cooperating witnesses.

    So, maybe Trump was trying to witness tamper, but I think Trump is so much dumber and obtuse than the witnesses, the attempt didn’t accomplish much. So, it would be kind of like prosecuting a nutcase for attempted bank robbery because he stood outside a bank and angrily demanded that the bank give him a few bucks. Maybe technically it is, but probably a gray area.

    The main difference here is that Trump is president and has power to do great damage.

  80. 80
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman: We need about 199,999 more of them, fifty feet tall, golden colored and programmed to only obey the person in the golden suit with the winged hat.

  81. 81
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Moar You Know: We here at Balloon Juice also offer gold plated pesos and rubles to ensure your and your family’s economic future in these uncertain times.

  82. 82
    Mandalay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Ed Henry apparently said last night that two of his sources said the President leaked them himself

    That seems very improbable to me. He probably authorized the leak, but some stooge such as Huckabee or Giuliani, or a legal nobody in the Administration, are much more likely to have actually done the leaking.

    Trump has little to gain and a lot to lose by being the actual leaker. Trump’s doctor just demonstrated that people can turn into honey badgers, and when that happens they don’t give a fuck about consequences of blabbing.

  83. 83
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: Given how Iraq’s Ministry of Justice was run and operated when this happens, he’s just lucky he made it out of prison alive.

  84. 84
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mandalay:

    Trump has little to gain and a lot to lose by being the actual leaker.

    Trump told the entire world on network TV that he fired Comey because Russia. Anytime you see a story sourced to a quote by a “Senior WH Official” – that’s Trump. He’s the biggest freaking leaker in this administration!

  85. 85
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Timurid:

    The very definition of penny wise, pound foolish. They gain some minimal tactical advantage (they could blow through that whole stockpile of Javelins in a couple of weeks of intense combat) in exchange for helping Trump and thus helping their Russian enemies win the long game

    I think they are more taking advantage of Transactional Donny; it’s a cheap favor they are doing Spanky, and Spanky will feel obligated in return. It’s like Korea with the “Noble Prize” comment.

  86. 86
    NotMax says:

    @Adam L. Silverman

    Sole survivor.

    ;)

  87. 87
    Medicine Man says:

    I’m eternally grateful to the US voters who gave such an obvious narcissist the means to force the entire world to recognize his own greatness.

  88. 88
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Mandalay:

    That seems very improbable to me. He probably authorized the leak, but some stooge such as Huckabee or Giuliani, or a legal nobody in the Administration, are much more likely to have actually done the leaking.

    You still don’t get Trump. Trump will leaked just to show off he is above the rules he sets for his own staff .

  89. 89
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NotMax: He will bring ISIS to heel if elected Prime Minister of Iraq!

  90. 90
    Mandalay says:

    @Corner Stone:
    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    Trump told the entire world on network TV that he fired Comey because Russia.

    Sure, but that was hardly a “leak”. Trump does many outrageous things in public, but it does not automatically follow that he is always the leaker. Apart from anything else, given that the Administration leaks like a sieve, if Trump was doing all the leaking it would encroach on his golfing and TV time.

    And in this particular case, where there could be legal repercussions for the leak, Trump wants plausible deniability.

  91. 91
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Adam L Silverman: We have a Hulk.

  92. 92
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mandalay: @Corner Stone: @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    http://www.newsweek.com/trump-.....age-871448

    President Donald Trump leaks directly to top mainstream media outlets in order to attain more positive coverage, despite the commander-in-chief’s very public attacks on the media, according to a new book released Tuesday.

    The president routinely calls up reporters and is attributed as a “senior White House official,” author and veteran reporter Ronald Kessler claims in the book “The Trump White House: Changing the Rules of the Game.”

    White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was also accused in the book of being a major leaker to the media.

    “Trump phones Maggie Haberman of the New York Times directly, as well as Philip Rucker of the Washington Post, and Jonathan Swan of Axios, feeding them stories attributed to ‘a senior White House official,’ creating the impression the White House leaks even more than it already does,” Kessler wrote, according to People. “In other cases, the media has picked up reports on what Trump himself has said to his friends.”

    Trump has specifically tried to win over The Times’s Haberman, who’s come up with some of the biggest and most damning stories about the Trump administration over the last year.

    “He wants eventually to win her over,” Kessler quoted an unnamed Trump aide as saying. “The president subscribes to the general theory that a little love can go a long way. Even if a story will be bad, give it a shot and maybe it will come out a little better.”

  93. 93
    rikyrah says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    This would be witnessing tampering.

    YA THINK?

  94. 94
    jl says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    ” We here at Balloon Juice also offer gold plated pesos and rubles to ensure your and your family’s economic future in these uncertain times. ”

    As a subscriber to the Balloon-Juice Economic Security Newsletter, I can attest I am very satisfied with the Balloon-Juice certified crypto-gold certificates that you guys have been saying, for months by now, are, even as we speak, being prepared for DM delivery.

  95. 95
    TenguPhule says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    it’s a cheap favor they are doing Spanky, and Spanky will feel obligated in return.

    I spotted the fatal flaw in this cunning plan.

  96. 96
    Mandalay says:

    @Adam L Silverman: No argument from me, and I have posted here in the past that I believe Trump to be the leaker of certain stories. But specifically not this one.

    There surely would have been no leak without his blessing, but you will never be able to produce any evidence or snitching witness linking Trump to this specific leak.

  97. 97
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jl: We will be introducing our survival seeds in the next quarter followed by our own, bespoke line of melee weapons.

  98. 98
    Jay says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    There’s nothing “Transactional Donnie” can give them that they need.

    Treason Tribble won’t cross Vlad, so major political support is out.

    Money won’t help as it moves offshore as fast as it lands, some of it never touches Ukrainian soil.

    Weapon’s won’t help, as Ukraine is awash in weapons.

    “Boot’s on the Ground” would simply be wasted.

    Ukraine needs political carrots with which to gather the Separatists back in, but the Ukrainian Nationalist’s won’t allow that.

    The Ukranian Military needs a COIN/Conventional strategy, in which “Hearts and Minds” combined with Minimal Civilian Casualties, as the locus of the COIN can be used to roll back and integrate the Separatist held areas, neutralize Separatist sympathy’s outside Separatist held areas,

    With a large, conventional strike force in ready reserve to neuter Russian cross border maristroika strikes in support of the Separatists.

    This requires abandoning the Anti-Terrorist Operations, the General Staff creating limited Special Forces/SVO COIN OpPlans, backed by a large Conventional Ready Reaction Force and OpPlans to respond immediately to Russian interference, and logistical supply plans and networks to back it up.

    and a Ukraine military that’s not Conscript based, Soviet doctrine, but instead a Professional Western Military force trained to NATO Standards.

    None of that is something “Transactional Donnie” can help them with.

  99. 99
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mandalay: True.

  100. 100
    catclub says:

    @Adam L Silverman: also stamp out corruption?

  101. 101
    rikyrah says:

    Mulvaney mulls plan that could put CFPB employees in their basement
    05/02/18 10:00 AM
    By Steve Benen
    If you’ve ever seen the cult classic “Office Space,” you know the relationship between Bill Lumbergh and Milton Waddams is a difficult one.

    Lumbergh (played by the amazing Gary Cole) clearly doesn’t like or respect Milton (played by the amazing Stephen Root), and has no use for Milton’s work. In fact, if it were up to Lumbergh, the “squirrely looking guy” who “mumbles a lot” would stop working in the office altogether.

    With that in mind, Lumbergh takes steps to make Milton as uncomfortable as possible, moving his cubicle, using his work space for storage, and in the final indignity, eventually moving Milton and his desk into the basement.

    All of this came to mind yesterday reading Bloomberg Politics’ report on the latest developments at the CFPB.

    Mick Mulvaney says he’s legally barred from shutting down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a regulator he once called a “sick” joke.

    But the agency’s acting director could move dozens of employees to the basement of its Washington headquarters. And he might try to relocate other staff members to Dallas.

    Such options are being proposed by his top aides as Mulvaney seeks to cut spending at the Republican-loathed watchdog by tens of millions of dollars, according to an internal cost-savings analysis that was obtained by Bloomberg News. Another budget-trimming idea: making employees share desks.

  102. 102
    The Moar You Know says:

    If we get to the point where Trump’s testimony is compelled and he must consider invoking the Fifth Amendment, it is fair to say his presidency will be over. The appearance, fair or not, that he is concealing wrongdoing by taking the Fifth will be hard to shake. Furthermore, invoking the Fifth, which is his personal right, makes clear that he can no longer uphold his office, which is to “take care” that the laws are faithfully executed. A Democratic-led House (a strong likelihood) then would feel compelled to move toward impeachment. (Even Republicans might agree — or plead with Trump to resign.)

    I’d like to try a hit of whatever’s Rubin’s been smoking recently. Talk about things that will never, ever happen! Surely Rubin – who as I understand it is a lawyer – knows that the Senate has to vote to convict, that said number of votes must be 67, and that without conviction Trump’s horrible, bloated ass stays right where it is – in the seat in the Oval Office that his good friend Vlad stole for him. The GOP will never ask him to resign and even if they did, he would not.

  103. 103
    Manyakitty says:

    @Mandalay: I thought Dowd leaked it. Pretty sure one of the wire services reported that.

  104. 104
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @catclub: He’s going to put his foot down!

  105. 105
    Corner Stone says:

    @rikyrah: I still have no idea why someone, or somebodies, have not repeatedly punched Mulvaney in his face. It’s right there! And it is soooo punchable!

  106. 106
    Mandalay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Newsweek on 4/4/18:

    Trump has specifically tried to win over The Times’s Haberman

    Trump on 4/21/18:

    The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with…

    So much winning over!

  107. 107
    Corner Stone says:

    @catclub: I heard somewhere he’s going to boot out all sneaky people on the take and tie it up tight.

  108. 108
    rikyrah says:

    Don Lemon Has a Few Words For Kanye West’s Slave Theory: ‘They Were in Real Chains’

    Yesha Callahan
    Today 7:12am

    During a conversation with my friend’s grandmother Tuesday night, we spoke about Kanye West and his slavery comments. For the record, the only thing she knows about Kanye is that he’s married to a Kardashian, the one she calls the “mermaid-looking one.” She’s 85 and watches a lot of reality TV; give her a break. During our convo, I mentioned Kanye’s most recent comments about slavery, and how he felt slaves had a choice back then. And like the wise old sage she is, she said, “That Negro’s off his damn rocker.”

    And those were basically Don Lemon’s sentiments during a Tuesday night segment on CNN. To those not really up on their slave history, Lemon explained that yes, there were slaves … you know … ones actually in chains … being enslaved.

    “Then there’s Kanye West, doubling down on his support for his new BFF and making what may be his most shocking claim of all,” Lemon said.

    “So, to be clear, and I can’t believe I actually need to say this, black and brown people who were enslaved for centuries had absolutely no choice,” Lemon said. “They weren’t just mentally enslaved, this wasn’t some kind of mind game. They were in real chains.”

  109. 109
    NotMax says:

    @Mandalay

    Like unto a particularly bad remake of The Three Faces of Eve.

    Therapist: “I’d like to speak to John Barron now.”

  110. 110
    TenguPhule says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Surely Rubin – who as I understand it is a lawyer – knows that the Senate has to vote to convict, that said number of votes must be 67, and that without conviction Trump’s horrible, bloated ass stays right where it is – in the seat in the Oval Office that his good friend Vlad stole for him.

    She’s so far up denial that she should have brought her passport for Egypt to stamp it.

  111. 111
    FlyingToaster says:

    @Adam L Silverman: What we need is a device that scatters caltrops in ICE parking lots.

  112. 112
    TenguPhule says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I still have no idea why someone, or somebodies, have not repeatedly punched Mulvaney in his face. It’s right there! And it is soooo punchable!

    I think all of the employees are developing alibis for when Mulvaney commits suicide by throwing himself off of the roof of the building after clubbing himself on the back of the head.

  113. 113
    NotMax says:

    @FlyingToaster

    OT aside –

    Years ago, bought a set of plush caltrops as a gag gift for a friend who is into that sort of stuff. He later enthusiastically mentioned they turned out to be The Best Cat Toys Ever. No matter how the cats batted them around they always landed (what appeared to be) right side up, prompting further feline attack.

  114. 114
    ruemara says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: He’s literally undermining democracy with neonazis worldwide. It’s not that he’s crazy, it’s that he’s empowered & funded the same abroad as here. And as with all rich, powerful, evil men – he thinks consequences won’t happen until he’s left the scene. It will be for whatever progeny he hands the reigns to. Who are already working to secure loyalties with the next generation. Americans did the bad thing here, because if they weren’t largely willing to vote for an out and out racist, traitor and willing to believe lies, this wouldn’t be happening.

  115. 115
    Yutsano says:

    @Corner Stone: I want to know why no one in the CFPB is challenging him on this shit. Actings do have limits on the structural changes they can do for good reason. He can’t just come in and blow shit up like that.

  116. 116
    J R in WV says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I actually saw that when it happened, I think IIRC it was live news conference, and Bush dropped down to dodge much better than I would have expected. Then the second shoe!!!

    I’m glad the thrower survived to make a political run in the future, I half expected him to be shot, out back, almost instantly, after a very quick trial, say, 20 minutes.

  117. 117
    TenguPhule says:

    I see John Cole is retweeting dick joke pictures.

  118. 118
    J R in WV says:

    @TenguPhule:

    I believe in a potato backed currency.

    So Vodka, then? OK by me. I do prefer corn squeezin’s myself, for folkloric and historical reasons, but Vodka is OK too.

  119. 119
    sp98 says:

    Adam – along the lines of Russia and Ukraine, are you considering a post about Timothy Snyder’s new book “The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America”? I’m about 2/3 through it, and it is terrifying.

    (sorry if this is redundant of any previous comment)

  120. 120
    jl says:

    @rikyrah: I kind of gave West a pass on his Trump worship. He can have his opinion. And maybe helping out my relative indifference is that I am not a big enough fan of his music to get any angst if he spouts such piffle and is noxiously nutty.

    But, I should have known die-hard Trump worship always indicates a serious problem. I should have expected toxic nonsense like this latest BS outburst on black slavery in US history.

  121. 121
    TenguPhule says:

    @J R in WV: Vodka’s virtue is that it can be paired with pretty much anything.

  122. 122
    notoriousJRT says:

    Not bribery but extortion?

  123. 123
    notoriousJRT says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:
    I will never forgive the people who voted for him and continue to support him.
    I feel this way, too.

  124. 124
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Jay: “Awash in weapons”? Have you spent much time with either regular military or ATO volunteers?

  125. 125
    J R in WV says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Paired with? What is this??? Just be drinking the Vodka, comrades!!!! Colder is better..

  126. 126
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @sp98: I’ve not read it. Sorry.

  127. 127
    Barney says:

    A visual representation of the Trump Doctrine:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mp44o3LR7Og

  128. 128
    Kathleen says:

    @SFAW: I find the idea “apeeling”.

  129. 129
    TenguPhule says:

    @J R in WV: Fruit juice. Vanilla. Honey & lemon.

  130. 130
    Jay says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Ukraine has so many tanks, armoured vehicles, artillary, rockets, helicopter gunships and small arms that they are continually trying to sell them abroad.

    https://www.pressreader.com/ukraine/kyiv-post/20170317/281625305116488

    While the “volenteers” have long claimed to be “underarmed”, that’s because the “volenteers” are not beholden to the Government.

    http://www.smallarmssurvey.org.....raine.html

    Regular Forces chief complainst were:

    – no or minimal air support, No surprise when both sides are using Soviet Air Defences.

    – lousy food, a shortage of clothing, body armour, night vision gear and comms systems. This is symptomatic of corrupt officials using old Soviet Stocks, ( both sides refer to the canned meat as “Green Gas”) and the absence of an effective logistical supply chain.

    – defective ammo for everything from AKM’s to artillary. See above.

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/.....ustry/amp/

    – absence of tactical and strategic communications, orders, actions, reseves or counterforce for the engaged forces during actions like Debaltseve, from Command.

    https://www.google.ca/amp/s/economics.unian.info/amp-2077946-ukrainian-arms-exports-in-2016.html

    Ukrain’s military problems isn’t arms, it’s the Ukranian Military.

  131. 131
    Ruckus says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    Unless he’s crazy too.

    Ya think?
    Someone said the other day that it’s pretty crazy to walk into a Waffle House with an AR-15, no pants of any kind and start shooting, it’s possible that the man is crazy. No, it’s not just possible it’s fact, that motherfucker is crazy. One doesn’t need to have a Phd in crazy to know that he is. Vlad is along the same line. He’s one of the richest men in the world, he owns an entire country. The economy that he owns is what the 14th, 15th largest in the world, but it ain’t all that small. He just got elected with what 80% of the vote, do you really think that many people agree with him? And he’s fucking with lots of other countries, just because he can. He needs a better fucking hobby. So the conclusion is that to be in his position and have to have more, he is fucking crazy. So are the Mercers, the Koch bros, etc, etc. They have no idea what is enough, they want it all. That’s a sickness. drumpf wants the entire world to adore him. Every single person. And it won’t be enough, or it won’t be done the right way or who the fuck knows. He’s crazy. Wanting what you don’t have just so you can have it is an illness. Not everyone who wants to be president or leader of a country has that ideal but quite a few do. And it is the basis of conservative thought and dogma through out the world.

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