Andrea Mitchell’s Interview with DNI Coats

Andrea Mitchell interviewed Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats this afternoon at the Aspen Institute. Some news was made.

This is very, very important information that the DNI decided to share. Specifically, he is not in the loop, at least in regard to matters pertaining to Russia, in regard to what the President is and is not doing! That’s astounding. And it reinforces Susan Glasser’s reporting in The New Yorker (emphasis mine):

Days after the Helsinki summit, Trump’s advisers have offered no information—literally zero—about any such agreements. His own government apparently remains unaware of any deals that Trump made with Putin, or any plans for a second meeting, and public briefings from the State Department and Pentagon have offered no elaboration except to make clear that they are embarrassingly uninformed days after the summit.

Unlike Putin, Trump did not brief his own diplomats on the Helsinki meeting. The American Secretary of State, national-security adviser, and Ambassador to Moscow, who attended the lunch after Trump and Putin’s private session, have been publicly silent on the substance of the meetings, leaving it to the Russians, for now, to make claims about what was actually said and done behind closed doors between the two Presidents.

The information provided to America’s top diplomats, those whose job it is to deal with Russia, was just as sparse and potentially incomplete. The Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Russia, Wess Mitchell, on Tuesday briefed the State Department group that has been pulled together to discuss Russia policy before and after the summit. There was no mention of any agreements. “There is no word on agreements,” a senior U.S. official told me. “There is no information on the U.S. side about any agreements.” So was Putin lying? Was Trump? Was it possible there was a misunderstanding, and that Trump thinks he made no commitments and Putin thinks he did? “It is terribly disturbing,” the senior official said. “The point is that we don’t know.”

A U.S. Ambassador in Europe, who has extensive experience dealing with Russia, told me that he and other State Department officials who would need to know have received no post-summit briefings, or even talking points about what happened, both of which would be standard practice after such an important encounter. “Nothing,” he told me. “We are completely in the dark. Completely.”

I’ve twice written about how, because the President is considered to be a security risk when it comes to intelligence/information by US, allied, and partnered intelligence officials, the US was going to be at a disadvantage in regard to intelligence matters. What we know from both Andrea Mitchell’s interview with DNI Coats and Susan Glasser’s reporting, is that the President is compounding this problem by not telling his own senior appointees what they need to know to actually do their jobs effectively.

Here’s the video of the interview. Since I wasn’t around to see the whole thing, I’m not sure exactly when this happened, but the parts of the interview I saw were very informative.

We are off the map and through the looking glass!

Open thread.



Trench Lawfare Open Thread: Of Course Kavanaugh’s A Pig-Fellator, and We Should Also Make The GOP Deny It



Saturday Morning Open Thread: Begin As You Mean to Go On

The Trump Occupation certainly tried to live by that adage during the 2017 inauguration — going for maximum thuggery, combined with an open embrace of oligarchic corruption. But their ambitious attempt to crush public dissent didn’t work nearly as well as they hoped. And now their OPEN FOR BUSINESS, FELLOw GRIFTERS! inaugural parties are giving Mr. Mueller a wealth of useful data against them, per Vox:

What happened at Donald Trump’s inauguration 18 months ago, and why does special counsel Robert Mueller appear to be so interested in it?

Last week, ABC News’s Matthew Mosk and John Santucci reported that several wealthy Russians were “granted unusual access” to Trump inauguration parties back in January 2017 — and that Mueller was seeking to find out why.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of Mueller’s interest in the inauguration. Back in April, CNN reported that the special counsel was investigating “whether wealthy Russians illegally funneled cash donations directly or indirectly into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and inauguration” — and had even questioned some oligarchs directly.

These reports have broken in the months since former Trump aide Rick Gates agreed to a plea deal with Mueller’s team in exchange for his cooperation. That may not be a coincidence — Gates was heavily involved in planning the inauguration, with a Yahoo News report in 2016 calling him the “shadow chair” of the event.

Yet beyond just Russia, there have long been serious questions about the money behind Trump’s inauguration — and where, exactly, it went. Trump’s inaugural committee raised a truly astonishing $106.7 million, double the previous record set by Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural. But what they did with it isn’t so clear.

In a report for ProPublica and WNYC by Ilya Marritz earlier this year, the chair of George W. Bush’s second inauguration, Greg Jenkins, said he was baffled. “They had a third of the staff and a quarter of the events and they raise at least twice as much as we did,” he said. “So there’s the obvious question: Where did it go? I don’t know.”

Much like a typical Trump Organization project, then, his inauguration combined eye-popping sums of money and opulence with questions of financial mismanagement, corruption, and shady foreign influence…

Many, many more details at the link — it’s a veritable Who’s Who of right-wing sugar daddies and shady influence groups, both domestic and foreign. “But if there is anyone who might know where much of the money went, it is Rick Gates. And whatever he knows, Robert Mueller now knows too.”



Repub Venality Open Thread: Freedom Caucus Founder Jim Jordan Wrestled With His Conscience, Scored Knockout

Rep. Jim Jordan, the powerful Republican congressman from Ohio, is being accused by former wrestlers he coached more than two decades ago at Ohio State University of failing to stop the team doctor from molesting them and other students.

The university announced in April that it was investigating accusations that Dr. Richard Strauss, who died in 2005, abused team members when he was the team doctor from the mid-1970s to late 1990s.

Jordan, who was assistant wrestling coach at the university from 1986 to 1994, has repeatedly said he knew nothing of the abuse until former students began speaking out this spring, and continued to deny it on Tuesday. His denials, however, have been met with skepticism and anger from some former members of the wrestling team.

Three former wrestlers told NBC News that it was common knowledge that Strauss showered regularly with the students and inappropriately touched them during appointments, and said it would have been impossible for Jordan to be unaware; one wrestler said he told Jordan directly about the abuse.

DiSabato, whose allegations against Strauss prompted Ohio State to open its investigation, called Jordan a “liar.”

“I considered Jim Jordan a friend,” DiSabato said. “But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”

DiSabato said he reached out to Jordan this year, before going to the university, to tell Jordan that he planned to go public with his allegations. Jordan told him to “please leave me out of it,” DiSabato said. “He asked me not to get him involved.”…

Jordan, a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of the most conservative representatives, is a staunch ally of President Donald Trump and is frequently mentioned as a possible replacement for the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan

Jordan is wrestling royalty. Born and raised in Champaign County, Ohio, he was a four-time state wrestling champion. Competing for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he won NCAA titles in 1985 and 1986.

But in the wrestling world, Jordan is best known for defeating future two-time Olympic gold medalist John Smith twice in an NCAA tournament in 1985.

Jordan returned home to Ohio and — while working as a coach — earned a master’s degree in education at Ohio State and later a law degree from Capital University in Columbus before launching his political career in 1994 when he was elected to the Ohio General Assembly…

Since the House Repubs are very fond of unfunny “jokes” (see: Ryan & McCarthy sharing a laugh over Dana Rohrabacher being on Putin’s payroll), maybe we should check for coffee mugs emblazoned YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A PERVERT ENABLER TO WORK HERE — BUT IT HELPS!



The Elders Have Authorized a Public Service Announcement for Alex Jones: There is No Civil War Planned for Independence Day 2018, Just the Global Conspiracy Round Robin Softball Tournament and Picnic!

On behalf of the Elders, I have been authorized to inform Alex Jones, using this platform, that there is no Civil War scheduled for Independence Day. Instead we have, as per tradition, scheduled the annual Global Conspiracy for World Domination round robin softball tournament and picnic.

The Elders would like Mr. Jones to know that his claim of a Civil War is #Fake News! And since he is not responding via the device we had his dentist implant in the filling in his left, front, bottom molar when he had his wisdom tooth removed, we have had to resort to this manner of communication. Also, Mr. Jones, please see your dentist soon so we can have that thing serviced. Thanks!

Anyhow, as we do every year, at the recreational facilities at our undisclosed location (because it’s part of the global conspiracy for world domination, duh!), we will be having our annual round robin softball tournament and picnic. And let me tell you what a pain in the tuchas that is. Every year, EVERY FREAKING YEAR, it’s the same thing. The Illuminati sign up to bring the sides. And every year, EVERY FREAKING YEAR, they screw them up. How hard is it to make decent cole slaw? All you’re doing is shredding red and white cabbage with carrots, salting and peppering to taste, mixing it all together with the good mayonnaise and cider vinegar, and then tying it together with celery salt. How hard is that? If you can’t make cole slaw, how can we expect you to run your part of the global conspiracy? Don’t even get me started on their potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, and macaroni and cheese. How do you screw up baked beans? Open can, pour into baking pan. Mix with good stone ground mustard, brown sugar, and a shot or two of bourbon to taste. And make one batch without the fatback for those who don’t eat pork or meat. Nope, they just open the can, pour into a pot, and heat it up. Weak!!! SAD! Low Energy!!!!

As for the Bilderbergers. Masters of the Financial Universe my tuchas!!! Cheap bastards is more like it. They’re even worse than the Illuminati. I get it, if you splurge all the time, you’ll fritter away your fortunes, but these cheapskates sign up to bring the cups, plates, plastic flatware, and napkins every year. And they can’t even be bothered to get the solo cups and the decent plastic plates. No they get the styrofoam coffee cups and the flimsy, poorly wax treated paper plates. And sporks. I get the KFC connection, but really order some plastic flatware from Amazon for crying out loud!

The Trilateral Commission always brings the crappy, store bought chemical cake deserts! For Deity’s sake, every decent grocery store actually has a bakery if you can’t be bothered to go to a stand alone bakery. The good news is the Freemasons are good at setting up and running that nice brick grill every year. And we finally got the Romneys – all 300 of them including the Romney-McDaniels – to stop bringing the jello salad. We told them that the Pope was allergic to gelatin (Don’t tell anyone…) Also, he brings the good chiarascura and chimchurri. All Benedict every brought was sauerkraut. The Reptiloids just bring their own food because they have specific dietary restrictions…

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes: Attention Alex Jones! There is not a planned Civil War scheduled to kickoff on Wednesday. Please lie down in a cool dark room for a nap. And if that doesn’t help, please seek professional help before you get someone so worked up they decide to take the 2nd Amendment out for a walk and kill someone. Or lots of someones. And don’t forget to see your dentist soon, so we can get that receiver in your molar fixed. In fact we’re going to upgrade you and put one in the molar on the other side so you can receive our transmissions in stereo. For no extra charge. And have a nice day!

Stay suspicious.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled web browsing.

Open thread!



Senile Delusions Open Thread: Granpa Trump Lauds His ICE Enforcers

Of course, Trump has been a serial fantasist, and proud racist, since at least the 1980s. But some of you will remember that when Ronald Reagan started insisting he’d helped liberate Dachau in person — and not just seen films about the horror — it was later cited as the first public evidence of his decline into Alzheimers.

When confronted last week with audio obtained by ProPublica of wailing children separated from their parents, White House Communications Adviser Mercedes Schlapp said, “What’s very heartbreaking is to watch Americans who have lost their children because of the MS-13 gang members.” But the vast majority of MS-13 victims are young immigrants, many of them undocumented.

I often think about this when I’m out reporting. This year, I have reached out to current gang members and added them as friends on Facebook. I’ve visited the homes of people on the local clique’s kill list, and heard their police-issued panic buttons hum under tables and behind doors. I’ve explored the wooded areas Long Island police call “the killing fields,” where bodies have been found. I feel safe doing this because MS-13 rarely goes after true outsiders — people who are not friends with any gang members or targets for recruitment. The closest I’ve found in Long Island to a totally random victim was a worker at a Central American deli who was hurt when a bullet passed through the head of a targeted victim.

The White House put out a statement last month that described recent murders carried out by “MS-13 animals.” Lost in the controversy over whether it was OK to call gang members animals was the fact that of the six identified victims, five were immigrants and the other was a child of immigrants…

Fantasy Tough Guy Squads are protecting Granpa Dollhands and his dumbest most loyal followers from the dusky rapists hiding under their beds! WHY MUST YOU LIE-BRALS BE SUCH HATERZ AS TO DENY THE IMAGINARY RAPISTS UNDER OUR BEDS!?! WHY CAN YOU NOT RESPECT THAT WE ARE TRULY SCARED!!!

Of course, abusing actual undocumented humans doesn’t “cure” whatever personal terrors drive their voters’ xenophobia, but fortunately for the Repubs, there’s always another batch of SCARY NOT-LIKE-US MONSTERS masks to gin up the rubes.



Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing to Review the DOJ Inspector General’s Report Live Stream

Sorry I got to this a little late, but I was working on something offline. Anyhow, here is the live stream of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing to review the DOJ IG’s report. Testifying before the committee are DOJ IG Horowitz and FBI Director Wray. Things to watch for:

  1. The Republican members of the committee to hammer both Director Wray and IG Horowitz on who should be punished and why they haven’t/aren’t being punished. As well as the Republican members of the committee hammering IG Horowitz about why people connected to the Clinton’s weren’t/aren’t being prosecuted.
  2. The Democratic members of the committee inquiring about why the report doesn’t deal with the reported in the IG report significant anti-Clinton bias and leaks out of the NY Field Office of the FBI during the campaign. Senators Feinstein has already been all over this and Senator Leahy is now asking Director Wray about it.

Open thread!