Late-Night Speculation Open Thread


My personal favorite rumor is that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III will be the first target, on the grounds there’s no way he can claim he had no idea colluding with a foreign government to steal an election just might be against the law. As a devout Cynic, I’m prepared for the morning’s news to be anything from “nothingburger” to “opening the door to my worst fears”… but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised!

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Friday Afternoon Russia Dump


The New York Times has knowledge of some very interesting documents and conversations. The sources in this article are as noteworthy as the news.

The news is that the opposition research that Natalia Veselnitskaya brought to a June 2016 meeting with Trump campaign officials including Donald Jr. was coordinated with the Russian prosecutor general Yuriy Chaika. The allegations in that opposition research have now been endorsed at the highest Russian levels.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia repeated her charges at length last week at an annual conference of Western academics. A state-run television network recently made them the subject of two special reports, featuring interviews with Ms. Veselnitskaya and Mr. Chaika.

The allegations are that that Ziff Brothers Investments, an American firm, evaded tens of millions of dollars of Russian taxes in an illegal Russian investment. Investors behind the company are major donors to Democratic candidates including Clinton. Ziff Brothers also invested in funds managed by William F. Browder, whom Russia has just accused of murder and sent a warrant for his arrest to Interpol, who rejected the warrant.

Browder was the driving force behind the Magnitsky act, named for a lawyer who worked for him and who died in a Moscow jail after exposing a Russian fraud scheme. The Magnitsky Act freezes the Western bank accounts of sanctioned Russian officials.

Max Bergmann, a former State Department official, points out that Devin Nunes and Fox are also currently pushing these allegations. He also points out the question of sources.

The key paragraph on sources is this one:

But interviews and records show that in the months before the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya had discussed the allegations with one of Russia’s most powerful officials, the prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. And the memo she brought with her closely followed a document that Mr. Chaika’s office had given to an American congressman two months earlier, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim.

Which interviews and records are these? From a grand jury? From the Mueller investigation? From a Russian source? The last brings up the question of whether that source might be one of the sources for the Steele dossier.

If it is the last, that would be one more reason for the Trump camp to have mounted this week’s attack on the Steele dossier. And the uproar about the Uranium One sale, to cover this news.


Photo: Natalia Veselnitskaya, Getty Images, from the Times article


Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Trump & the Neverending (JFK) Story

“Failed to inform”. The release has been mandated for twenty-five years, this batch of Repub fvckups have been squatting in the Oval Office for eleven months, and Liddle Lord Flapjaw himself has been ruminating about the “So interesting!” files all week. If that was actually intended as a diversion, once again, Trump’s proved that he’s really bad at the job he took on…

Per the Washington Post:

The president allowed the immediate release of 2,800 records by the National Archives, following a last-minute scramble to meet a 25-year legal deadline. After lobbying by national security officials, the remaining documents will be reviewed during a 180-day period.

In a memo released by the White House, Trump said: “I am ordering today that the veil finally be lifted. At the same time, executive departments and agencies have proposed to me that certain information should continue to be redacted because of national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns. I have no choice — today — but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our nation’s security.”

The records were put online at 7:30 p.m. The thousands of field reports, cables and interview summaries from dozens of FBI, CIA and congressional investigators reveal the minutiae of a chase for information that spanned decades and covered continents. Usually typed, stamped “Secret” and often annotated by hand, the files are a paper trail of detective grunt work, leads exhausted, dead-ends encountered, sources checked and rechecked.

Many of the files highlight the desperate search for Lee Harvey Oswald’s possible connections to communists, Cubans, or both in the months before he shot Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963…
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Holding Their Feet To The Fire

We have a dim beginning of Republican Senators who are willing to say words that seem to call out the President. But, as we saw last night, they continue to be willing to vote against the good of the people. We have to keep the heat on them: Nice words are a start toward making up for the mess you’ve created, but what are you going to DO about it?

Greg Sargent has some more specific questions for them. That, too, is a dim beginning of the media beginning to hold these politicians responsible for their words AND actions. Here are the five questions:

Does the GOP’s continuing plutocratic tilt bear some blame for Trumpism? Just after you heroically denounced Trumpism, virtually every Senate Republican — including you both [Flake and Corker] — voted to kill a rule that allowed consumers to bring class-action suits against financial services companies, a massive giveaway to Wall Street.

Shouldn’t the GOP condemn Trump’s dismissal of the Russia probes and nonstop lies about our democracy? It’s good that you both cast Trump as a threat to our civic institutions and to liberal democracy itself. But shouldn’t the party be taking the Russia probes more seriously and prodding Trump to stop dismissing them as a hoax?

Shouldn’t Republicans do more to prod Trump to release his tax returns? Both of you rightly blasted Trump for degrading our democratic norms. But even if you want tax cuts (that will overwhelmingly benefit the rich, including Trump himself in a big way), what is the justification for the GOP failure to even try to shed light for the public on how it will impact Trump’s bottom line?

Should the GOP really make a home for lawless bigot Roy Moore? You both repeatedly condemned Trump’s bigotry and racism. Moore, who will likely be the next GOP senator from Alabama, has been removed from the judicial bench for putting God’s law above U.S. law, is a raging anti-Muslim bigot and birther (just like Trump), and has said homosexuality should be illegal. Shouldn’t more Republicans declare him unfit to serve?

Shouldn’t you say whether you think Trump should be removed? If you believe Trump is profoundly unfit for his office, and poses such immense dangers to the country and the world, doesn’t that mean it’s time to start talking about impeachment or the 25th Amendment?

I’ve truncated the questions from the link. And Open Thread.

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Now Every Day Is Opposite Day


Because the Trump Occupancy is the opposite of competent…

Leaders of more than a dozen countries will meet for a major summit in the Philippines in mid-November, but President Trump won’t be there. He is planning to skip it and leave the Philippines the day before. It’s a bad signal to send to the region, and it could undermine the overall goal of his Asia tour by calling American regional leadership into question…

“The President’s trip to Asia is extremely lengthy and will be his longest to date – his return to the U.S. on the evening of Nov. 13 is entirely schedule-driven,” the spokesman said. “You should not read anything into his being absent on the 14th.” The East Asia Summit opens in Angeles on Nov. 13, but the major events with world leaders occur on Nov. 14.

But the region is sure to read a lot into Trump’s absence, according to experts and former officials. By not attending the East Asia Summit his first year in office, even though he will already be nearby, Trump is signaling a lack of interest in the organization and the project it represents.

“It is a big deal. The Obama administration made a point of investing in these regional institutions in order to demonstrate we are an Asia Pacific power, a resident power in the region. This will only raise more questions about American credibility,” said Derek Mitchell, former U.S. ambassador to Burma. “Multilateralism in Asia is often just about showing up, but even that appears to be hard for him.”

Multiple administration officials told me there was a lengthy debate inside the Trump administration about the summit, but officials close to Trump were concerned the president did not want to stay in the region for so long and worried he could get cranky, leading to unpredictable or undiplomatic behavior.

Mitchell said the hosts scheduled the summit close to other regional events, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, specifically to accommodate the U.S. president. Trump will attend APEC meetings in Vietnam on Nov. 10.

“They tend to schedule [the EAS] to make it easier for the United States to attend,” he said. “It’s not necessarily convenient for others. I’m sure it’s frustrating to many of our partners.”…

The East Asia Summit is unique because it focuses on greater strategic issues, as opposed to the economic focus of APEC, said Bower. Trump’s absence is part of a pattern of his administration downgrading the importance of multilateral organizations and forums overall.

The East Asia Summit includes the 10 nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Russia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India and South Korea, along with the United States. It’s a missed opportunity for Trump to show all those countries that the United States is still committed to the strengthening regional integration and cooperation as China becomes more aggressive and expansionist, said Bower….

And whatever President Obama did, the current Oval Office occupant must do the opposite. Also, he gets so cranky when he’s away from his own gold-encrusted bed. It’s not like any of those faraway countries were important, after all!

Jeff Flake Excoriates His Colleagues

Jeff Flake just announced he will not be running for re-election in a speech condemning the President and his Republican enablers.

I know it’s frustrating to hear this sort of thing from Republicans now, particularly those who are not planning to run for election. But, even if they have been in that pack enabling Trump, it is important for them to speak out now. Bob Corker this morning and now Jeff Flake make it easier for others to come forward and, hopefully, impeach this disaster of a man.

Some excerpts from the speech:

We must never regard as “normal” the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country – the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.
None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal. We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that this is just the way things are now. If we simply become inured to this condition, thinking that this is just politics as usual, then heaven help us. Without fear of the consequences, and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe or palatable, we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal.
If I have been critical, it not because I relish criticizing the behavior of the president of the United States. If I have been critical, it is because I believe that it is my obligation to do so, as a matter of duty and conscience. The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters – the notion that one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.
The principles that underlie our politics, the values of our founding, are too vital to our identity and to our survival to allow them to be compromised by the requirements of politics. Because politics can make us silent when we should speak, and silence can equal complicity.
And a few reactions:

Update: Video

“The Widow” Versus the Dolt-in-Chief


It’s not going to get any better. He’s only going to get worse, and so is the news out of Niger.