Not the least that can be done

The Senate has had a busy day.

First, Senators Scott (R-SC) and Rubio (R-FL) temporarily allied with a unified Democratic caucus to assemble a minimum blocking coalition to a nominee for a lifetime appointment on the 9th Circuit Court:

And then a bit later in the afternoon, the entire Senate told the White House to get a clue that it was being trolled by Putin:

So the Senate as a body and individual Senators in a closely divided body found ways to assert their institutional and personal prerogatives.

Baby Steps

Open thread






66 replies
  1. 1
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Frist!

  2. 2
    kindness says:

    Yeay for blocking that judge. I had not seen Republicans thinking about consequences yet.

    Maybe it’s a new day? (still won’t stop me from voting against them and pissing on their graves if given the opportunity)

  3. 3
    clay says:

    Rubio finds his spine exactly one time a year. I guess today’s as good a time as any.

  4. 4
    MattF says:

    I keep coming back to the old-but-good joke that Kurt Waldheim didn’t need a spine because he had an exoskeleton.

  5. 5
    hueyplong says:

    So which branch was weak? Did the Senate go 98-0 on Trump about Putin interviews because they knew Trump was dropping the concept anyway, or did Trump come out against because he got word that the Senate was about to humiliate him in a unanimous vote?

    I assume McCain is one of the abstentions. Who is the other? Paul? Sanders?

  6. 6
    Shana says:

    @hueyplong: That was my question too.

  7. 7
    rikyrah says:

    @hueyplong:

    I assume McCain is one of the abstentions. Who is the other? Paul? Sanders?

    Yeah…who are the others?

  8. 8
    oatler. says:

    I’m hoping the Senate gets physical. Us peasants are getting tired of doing the lifting.

  9. 9
    NotMax says:

    assert their institutional and personal prerogatives

    “You mean we’re allowed to do that?” //

  10. 10
  11. 11
    germy says:

    Weird how Russia didn't seem to think infiltrating the Democratic party and liberal groups was a path to power. pic.twitter.com/x0ijsBCAtC— Oliver Willis (@owillis) July 19, 2018

    When Butina approached "a left-leaning civil rights group" they contacted the FBI. pic.twitter.com/qqOmMAz87A— b🦈🦈swax (@realmissbeeswax) July 19, 2018

  12. 12
    smintheus says:

    Meanwhile Putin plays Trump again. He’s now leaking the info that he proposed ‘secretly’ a referendum on the status of Ukraine, but promised Trump he wouldn’t make the proposal public while Trump thought it over. Not that leaking it makes the proposal public; just a little ‘hurry up’ from the big guy.

    Vladimir Putin told Russian diplomats that he made a proposal to Donald Trump at their summit this week to hold a referendum to help resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, but agreed not to disclose the plan publicly so the U.S. president could consider it, according to two people who attended Putin’s closed-door speech on Thursday.

  13. 13
    germy says:

    98-0. Bipartisanship is not dead yet in the US Senate. Thank you all for your support.
    — Michael McFaul (@McFaul) July 19, 2018

  14. 14
    Brachiator says:

    @clay:

    Rubio finds his spine exactly one time a year.

    Kinda like a groundhog sometimes seeing its shadow.

  15. 15
    Teddys Person says:

    I know, not really that important in light of the party in power betraying my country. But can this guy just go the fuck away. I want life to have a reset button.

    resident Donald Trump seemed to have a moment of realization when he said the word “apprenticeships” today during a signing ceremony for skills training.

    “Today 23 companies and associations are pledging to expand apprenticeships. That’s an interesting word for me to be saying, right? ‘The Apprentice,’” Trump said, stopping his prepared remarks to marvel at the connection.

    “I never actually put that together until just now,” the United States president confessed.

    “That was a good experience, I will tell you that,” he told the students. “Isn’t that strange? Ivanka, I never associated, but here we are. Can’t get away from that word. That’s a great word. For on-the-job training and vocational education. They will sign the pledge committing to train and retrain more than 3.8 million American students and workers for new jobs and rewarding careers.”

  16. 16
    Old School says:

    Shelby (R-AL) and McCain (R-AZ) were the abstaining members.

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Jay says:

    @germy:

    Yeah, the part that really gets me LMFAO is that the Russian FSO trolled a cartoon character of Natasha infront of the Rethugs, NRA and Christofacists fell all over themselves to trade a little light treason for sex.

  19. 19
    TenguPhule says:

    And soon we’re gonna have tariffs on automobiles and their parts. Yet another Obama-era success about to be shit on and thrown away. Its gonna gut hundreds of thousands of jobs in the USA directly and millions more will suffer from the result aftershocks as they ripple down the economic food chain.

    Its coming folks, 2019 is going to see the economy crash and burn like the Hindenburg.

  20. 20
    Mnemosyne says:

    @germy:

    When do I get to start saying, “I told you so” to the Bros?

    https://mobile.twitter.com/HoarseWisperer/status/1019970082812940289

  21. 21
    rikyrah says:

    Get him, Forever FLOTUS.

    GET.HIM.

    Michelle Obama arrives in Scotland for charity fundraiser https://t.co/IheejbIBgP pic.twitter.com/kgJLm1S0Vk

    — STV News (@STVNews) July 17, 2018

    Michelle Obama slams Trump as ‘mediocre’ at charity event in Scotland https://t.co/CLkZXk33eG

    — Scotland Star (@ScotlandStar) July 19, 2018

  22. 22
    jl says:

    The House on the other hand:
    House GOP refuses to boost funding for election security
    BY MORGAN GSTALTER – 07/19/18 08:14 AM EDT
    http://thehill.com/homenews/ho.....n-security

    GOPers called it a ‘political shenanigan’ and said that the programs were ‘fully funded’, which I take to meant that they gave the agencies some money, and therefore that is enough and they are ‘fully funded’

  23. 23
    NotMax says:

    After the Senate’s unanimous vote, McFaul wrote on Twitter, “98-0. Bipartisanship is not dead yet in the US Senate. Thank you all for your support.” Source

    And look who introduced the resolution which was passed.

    Senators voted 98-0 on the resolution spearheaded by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez (N.J.), Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Brian Schatz (Hawaii).
    [snip]
    The resolution, which the Senate voted on shortly after the new White House statement, read that U.S. “should refuse to make available any current or former diplomat, civil servant, political appointee, law enforcement official or member of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by the government of Vladimir Putin,” the resolution states.

    Democratic senators had been expected to ask for unanimous consent to pass the resolution, which would have allowed any one senator to block it. Two other Russia-related resolutions — one from Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) and another from Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) — were blocked earlier Thursday.

    Instead, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) set up the Thursday afternoon vote, giving lawmakers the chance to go on record as they face intense pressure to pass new Russia legislation after the Helsinki summit and the indictment of 12 Russian nationals for meddling in the 2016 election. Source

  24. 24
    Brachiator says:

    Trump is certainly on a Twitter roll today.

    I told you so! The European Union just slapped a Five Billion Dollar fine on one of our great companies, Google. They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!

    I think that the EU action is mainly wrongheaded, but Trump’s harping about “taking advantage” and “not being treated fairly” is just more of his repetitive bullshit.

    Also, here, I don’t think that the average Trump dope-supporter thinks that google is suffering or needs a break.

  25. 25
    Teddys Person says:

    @Brachiator: The projection is strong in this one as Trump is all about taking advantage of people and not treating people fairly. He thinks this is what motivates everyone.

  26. 26
    Calouste says:

    @rikyrah: Calling OfPutin “mediocre” is praising him. That’s a level that is way out of his reach.

  27. 27
    jl says:

    @NotMax: Assuming this asinine and outrageous idea is shot down, will be grimly hilarious to read about how they dragged, cajoled, hectored Trump into dropping it.

    I didn’t know, but read a news item saying that the US courts have repeatedly rejected the Russian requests for the people they want to question as based on bogus evidence.
    Let alone McFaul, where the Russian claims are counterfactual and make no sense, in addition to being outrageous. But Trump doesn’t say anything, only “Trump” as reported by WH staff.

    The real Trump hasn’t, as far as I know, said anything further about it because he’s pissing himself that here is yet another item on the growing list of his handler’s demands that he doesn’t have the ability or guts to fulfill.

    Tracking the beliefs and actions of “Trump” as presented by WH staff, versus Trump, will be a new field of study.in the Trumpinology of this administration.
    Unbelievable, but here we are.

  28. 28
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Listening to Dan Coats talk about North Korea and two things jumped out at me. 1) he says we have a verification system in place for denuclearization; 2) the sanctions regime is holding, including China and Russia. I’m the first to admit I have trouble keeping up with the firehose of news, but IIRC there is no verification system in place, he later seemed to be saying that our intelligence, i.e. spying, is our verification system. And I thought China had relaxed at least some of its restriction on exports to NORK, and there was some concern about Russian coal. Cheryl? Adam? Anybody who’s been following this more closely than I ?

  29. 29
    TenguPhule says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Anybody who’s been following this more closely than I ?

    Rest Assured, Dan Coats is talking horse shit. None of it is true.

  30. 30
    NotMax says:

    How soon until Dolt 45 calls on Sessions to investigate the “unAmerican Senate?”

  31. 31
    Mary G says:

    Dan Drezner brings the hammer down in the WaPo:

    At some point, Trump will no longer be president. It will be tempting for whomever succeeds him to turn the page on history, declare bygones and move forward. Not me. The behavior of the Trump administration this week has been suspect. It demands a reckoning. A former CIA chief of Russian operations tweeted, “From a counterintelligence perspective, something is going on behind the scenes. Before Helsinki I was less sure; post Helsinki, I feel sick.”

    I feel sick typing these words. But the words and actions of this president, his administration, and his loyalists sickens me even more.

    Even a week ago, calling Twitler treasonous was beyond the pale. A spark of light at the end of the tunnel, I hope.

  32. 32
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Oy…. un-muted this Andrea Mitchell interview with Coates in time to hear her go all Village-y about how disappointed people are with congress, the stalemate, the tone. Republicans control both houses, but stalemate. Yesterday the trump regime was open to subjecting a US ambassador to Putin’s system of justice, but tone.

  33. 33
    jl says:

    I also heard on the news that either House or Senate voted down hearing testimony from the interpreter.
    So, on Trump, they can do symbolic resolutions, but nothing of substance. I suppose the resolutions are needed though, to limit the damage Trump is doing.

    I for one want to hear the interpreter’s testimony. I’ve been imagining the unsupervised one-on-one as something out of a Bond move. Putin is the chuckling villain. He starts the meeting by taking out a laptop and the keyboard is just a giant red ‘send’ button. Putin does the whole meeting with his hand resting on the ‘send’ button.
    The interpreter could tell us how Trump reacted.

  34. 34
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Andrew S. Weiss @ andrewsweiss
    Coats directly contradicts Trump re Russia’s role on North Korea (for which Trump praised Putin in a tweet yesterday), says that Moscow is cheating on the existing sanctions regime

    Okay, maybe I heard wrong but I’d swear he said Russia was still cooperating.

  35. 35
    germy says:

    (AP) – New York state tax officials have opened an investigation into the Trump Foundation to determine whether President Donald Trump or his charity violated state law.

    The probe began about a month ago and was confirmed Thursday by an official with knowledge of the case. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about active investigations and spoke of condition of anonymity.

    If evidence of alleged crimes is found, the matter could be referred to prosecutors, who could seek the release of Trump’s tax returns.

    The investigation, first reported by The New York Times, follows Democratic state Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s lawsuit alleging Trump and his adult children used money from the charity to settle business disputes and promote his presidential campaign.

    The White House says the lawsuit is politically motivated.

  36. 36
    Elizabelle says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Mrs. Greenspan. Your tumbrel is waiting.

    Their shabby coverage drives a lot of Americans’ frustration with government. It’s not Congress. It’s Republicans in Congress. That is a huge difference. They don’t make it clear, and then you hear the low info (or stubborn) set of friends saying “vote them all out.”

    Time to retire that Villager.

  37. 37
    Kelly says:

    Republicans keep doubling down on Trump. When will this exponential growth rate collapse them into a political black hole, the wingnut event horizon?

  38. 38
    Elizabelle says:

    From FTF NY Times:

    President Trump plans to invite President Vladimir Putin to Washington for another summit, even as confusion abounds about their first meeting
    Thursday, July 19, 2018 4:21 PM EST

    President Trump plans to invite President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to Washington for another meeting in the fall, officials said Thursday, even as Mr. Trump’s top advisers groped [strange word there, NYT] for details of what the two leaders discussed in their last meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

    Mr. Trump’s director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, acknowledged frustration at being kept in the dark about the meeting, which included only the leaders and their respective interpreters. “If he had asked me how that ought to be conducted,” Mr. Coats said at a security conference in Aspen, Colo., “I would have suggested a different way. It is what it is.”

    OK Donald. If you insist on helping Democrats with their GOTV programs.

    Cue the Trump Baby Blimp. Plenty of time to make one up for Putin too.

  39. 39
    NotMax says:

    @jl

    something out of a Bond mov[i]e

    ” No, Mr. Bond Trump, I expect you to die comply! There’s nothing you can talk to me about that I don’t already know!”

  40. 40
    jl says:

    @Elizabelle: It’s just about money with them and nothing else. Don’t piss off major advertisers. especially the deep pocket corporate advertisers who have nothing to sell directly to consumers, but run the endless stream of warm and fuzzy PR ads. Don’t piss off gullible Trumpsters who will buy anything. Don’t spend any more money than they have to on research. they have a one page scenario to push that has kept the money flowing for decades. Why spend a penny to change it?

  41. 41
    Yarrow says:

    These Infrastructure Weeks are exhausting. And we haven’t even got to document dump Friday.

  42. 42
    Yarrow says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yep, yep, yep. There was no way he wasn’t involved.

  43. 43
    jl says:

    @NotMax: “Oh dear, Comrade Trump, my hand almost slipped. That would be very sad, very sad indeed. There may be time to ‘send’, there may be a time. I am sorry. It would be a shame to ruin our relationship right now, prematurely, eh?”

  44. 44
    Brachiator says:

    @Elizabelle:

    President Trump plans to invite President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to Washington for another meeting in the fall, officials said Thursday, even as Mr. Trump’s top advisers groped [strange word there, NYT] for details of what the two leaders discussed in their last meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

    So, this meeting will be closer to the mid-term elections. And Trump is thinking that he will get positive results from this? The GOP leadership must be wetting themselves. Conservative political strategists are insisting that all this will blow over, but not if Trump himself keeps bringing it up.

    Of course, I hope he does, because it makes him look like a total doofus.

  45. 45
    different-church-lady says:

    @Brachiator:

    Rubio finds his spine exactly one time a year.

    Kinda like a groundhog sometimes seeing its shadow finding his ass with both hands.

  46. 46
    Mike in DC says:

    If they can schedule that Putin visit a week or two before election day, that would be just super, thanks.

  47. 47
    NotMax says:

    @Brachiator

    Gives Dolt 45 an excuse to make a big show out of permitting the re-opening of the dacha in Maryland.

  48. 48
    jl says:

    I have to wonder if Cheryl was right, when she suggested, that Putin broached the idea of the US handing over McFaul and Browder as diplomatic-speak that just expressed complete disdain for the US attempts to counter Russian interference. And Putin was astounded that Trump is such a gullible fool as to even consider it.

    So, the request for almost a dozen more people was just a gleeful add-on, kind of a celebratory joke, for shits and giggles.

    But that would mean Trump is infinitely stupid, infinitely ignorant and infinitely unprepared.

  49. 49
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @germy: It’s moribund, though.

  50. 50

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: He is talking about our national intelligence capabilities – signals, overhead photos, and HUMINT, the first two often called National Technical Means. People in the intelligence services will often refer to these capabilities as verification, which they are for a limited audience who can read classified material. But they have limitations. The folks at the Middlebury Institute recently identified what is probably North Korea’s first uranium enrichment plant. Once they’ve worked it out, it seems fairly obvious, but it’s not the kind of thing that stands out in overhead photos.

    It does appear that US intelligence had identified the plant. But for anything with a roof on it, it gets much harder to figure what’s inside.

    When people in the State Department talk about verification, they are more likely to mean a process open to the world, with inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency and results published. Even under an agreement that includes IAEA inspection, the intelligence community keeps grinding along in its own way. Sometimes they will give the IAEA information that might be useful.

    Treaty verification would also include statements by North Korea on their holdings, which, obviously, the intelligence community isn’t waiting for.

  51. 51
    germy says:

    @Elizabelle:

    “I would have suggested a different way. It is what it is.”

    And here we have trump’s 2020 campaign slogan.

  52. 52
    Mai Naem mobile says:

    Who’s the one who didn’t vote? McCain and who else? Wondering if it was around Paul or Sanders,

  53. 53
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: When people in the State Department talk about verification, they are more likely to mean a process open to the world, with inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency and results published.

    ah, that’s more what I was thinking of in terms of a verification process.

    Thanks!

  54. 54

    @jl:

    But that would mean Trump is infinitely stupid, infinitely ignorant and infinitely unprepared.

    And you can’t believe that because…?

  55. 55
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @Calouste: Besides, he probably doesn’t know what it means. If someone explains it to him, tweets will fly!

  56. 56
    jl says:

    @Gelfling 545: Michelle Obama is being polite. Praising with faint damns.

  57. 57
    jl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: You and ALS need to explain to us what this means, when you have some spare time:

    @PressSec
    In Helsinki, @POTUS agreed to ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs. President Trump asked @Ambjohnbolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway.
    https://twitter.com/PressSec/status/1020033303351619584

    What exactly does ‘ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs’ mean? Don’t we do that already to try to keep WWIII at bay if somebody is hungover and slumps over onto some missile attack alert panel?

  58. 58
    opiejeanne says:

    @germy: This is great news for McFaul and Parker (the Congressional aide who single-handedly wrote the Magnitsky Act) but what about Bill Browder? We should be protecting him too. Putin wants him dead because of Magnitsky, the same reason he wants to “question” Parker.

  59. 59
    Anonymous At Work says:

    @Old School: wtf? Old/sick or what?

  60. 60
    opiejeanne says:

    @rikyrah: She’s so nice. Being called mediocre is sure to annoy him.

  61. 61
    Elizabelle says:

    @germy: I wonder if Andrea Mitchell and Dan Coats are really laughing about this. It is unhinged.

    And likely to endanger their beloved Republicans. You know — the REAL Americans.

  62. 62
    Jay says:

    FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States -The Onion

  63. 63
    WaterGirl says:

    @opiejeanne: @rikyrah: I think Michelle hit the sweet spot with the word that would inflict the most pain. If she said something worse, he could call it a partisan attack.

    Poor Trump, how is he supposed to fundraise on being called “mediocre”? And by poor Trump, I mean FUCK HIM.

  64. 64
    david says:

    @germy: 98-0. “Bipartisan support”

    Yeah, when it involves a White guy they all personally know, they can act.
    When it’s thousands of immigrant children that none of them know, it’s politics as usual.

    Michael McFaul should be thankful for both his White Privilege AND being a member of The Club.

  65. 65
    NotMax says:

    @WaterGirl

    It’s a two-fer. Also incorporates the sound of the word ochre.

  66. 66
    Zinsky says:

    @kindness: I wouldn’t piss in their ass if their guts were on fire!

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