Impeach the Motherfucker III

According to The Times, the U.S. is taking “more aggressive digital action” in Russia’s power grid “in a warning to Moscow and in a demonstration of its abilities,” explicitly to brush Putin back from further election interference. Yesterday afternoon, Ryan Goodman, professor and former special counsel to the DoD, highlighted this excerpt from The Times article (source):

So, Pentagon and intelligence officials are taking action independently because everyone’s afraid if they clue Trump in, he’ll blurt out details to a hostile foreign power’s officials or quash the effort altogether. My gratitude that at least someone is taking the threat of Russian interference seriously is tempered by the knowledge that, under normal circumstances, unelected officials shouldn’t freelance U.S. foreign policy. There’s a norm that will be difficult to reestablish.

Anyhoo, yesterday evening, Trump confirmed that efforts to counter Russian interference in U.S. elections either have to take place behind his back or not at all:

Recall former DHS Sec Kirstjen Nielsen’s failed attempt to put plans in place to deal with Russian interference in the upcoming election. One of the primary duties of the DHS secretary is to ensure election security. But in a bid to save her job, Nielsen focused on caging kids instead when she was told that bringing up Russian interference wounds Trump’s ego. [Mother Jones]

When former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen began to prepare a plan to address potential Russian interference in the 2020 election, she was told by President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to refrain from discussing the issue in front of the president, according to a report from the New York Times.

A senior Trump administration official recalled to the Times that Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level,” because Trump considers any discussion of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to be a challenge to the legitimacy of his presidency.

The DHS is the federal agency primarily responsible for election security, but despite Nielsen’s growing concerns about Russia’s continued involvement in the 2018 midterms, she abandoned her effort to organize a meeting with the White House in the hopes of creating a cohesive strategy for 2020 after pushback from Mulvaney. The issue therefore did not gain traction within the White House and has resulted in a lack of public awareness regarding the latest potential attempts of Russian election interference.

These are two instances we know about where Trump’s ego and unwillingness to address urgent threats compromised national security.* Mitch McConnell was complicit before and after the 2016 election, refusing to join a bipartisan effort to counter foreign interlopers prior to the last presidential election and refusing to bring a bipartisan election security bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote now.

We know what’s going on here. Trump always abandons his responsibilities as president when they conflict with his personal interests and is keen to avoid any suggestion that someone other than his magnificent self was responsible for his glorious victory. McConnell and the Republicans have known for some time that they can’t harness white grievance to secure power to enact plutocrat-friendly policies forever, which is why they started laying the groundwork for minority rule long before Trump came along, rigging elections and cheating in every conceivable way.

The House is the last line of defense. The situation demands an impeachment inquiry focused on Trump’s attempts to thwart an investigation of previous election interference and failure to protect the country from foreign interlopers going forward. Hearings would expose Republican complicity and, if House leadership follows Laurence Tribe’s recommendation, deny McConnell the opportunity to “exonerate” Trump via acquittal in the Senate — all while underscoring the corruption of the Republican Party.

I have a ton of respect for Nancy Pelosi, who knows a lot more about congressional procedures and political strategy than I can ever hope to learn. My hope is she’s being deliberate about impeachment because she has a strategy to not only expose Trump but also his corrupt enablers in Congress. I sincerely hope so, because lawlessness will continue until lawbreakers are held accountable, and past a certain point, it will be too late.

*Thanks, it must be said, to The Times. Their garbage Beltway reportage notwithstanding, the paper still breaks some incredibly important stories.

Both Sides From The New York Times

My Twitter lit up this morning with Bret Stephens’s call to sink Iran’s navy. But nobody wants war, he assures us.

Right next door (figuratively speaking), Eliot Higgins has an excellent explainer on the evidence proffered so far and how to analyze it. If you want to learn more about how to do open-source intelligence, take some time with this article.

Stephens’s piece, of course, offers nothing remotely like evidence.

And the Times Editorial Board advises the President to heed his deal-making reflex, not his hawkish advisers.

I guess two out of three isn’t too bad.

Open thread – slow afternoon.

Unsung Hero of the Republic

I just wanted to highlight the heroic actions of a congressman, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), who this week introduced an amendment to a House Armed Services Committee bill that allocates money for two new Air Force One planes. The new 747s won’t go into service until 2024, by which time we hope Trump will be but a bad memory.

However, the tiny-fingered, ferret-headed shitgibbon had planned to leave his mark on the presidential conveyances with a “star-spangled” paint job and “gold-plated fixtures like those at his personal residences,” according to the CT Mirror.

Not on Rep. Courtney’s watch! Noting that “additional paint can add weight to the plane, additional fixtures inside the plane can also add cost and delays to the delivery of the plane,” Courtney successfully attached an amendment that requires congressional approval for excessive spending on “paint, interior, and fixtures” on the planes. The amendment was adopted on a party-line vote.

Republicans called the amendment a “political attack by Democrats, unfairly restricting the president’s ability to make even minor decisions.” Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) sputtered, “They want to impede the president at every turn.”

You’re goddamned right we do, Wittman.

Anyhoo, kudos to Rep. Courtney. Now future President Harris/Klobuchar/Warren won’t have to fly around in a plane with an exterior that resembles a Tobie Keith super-fan’s camper and an interior that looks like the ghost of Liberace ate a bushel of gold leaf and vomited all over the cabin. Well done, good sir!

Open thread!

This movie seems familiar…

Trump is underwater in the polls, under fire for confessing on national TV that he’d welcome reelection assistance from foreign governments, flailing in trade wars that threaten to undermine the economy, and besieged by subpoenas in a widening series of investigations that may blossom into a full-flown impeachment inquiry. Think he wouldn’t like a “splendid little war” to take the focus off this fail parade?

In other news, you won’t have Sarah Sanders to kick around come July. Per The Post:

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders will leave the job at the end of the month, President Trump announced in a tweet Thursday.

“She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas — she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!”

She didn’t do her job at all — they may as well convert the press briefing room back into a swimming pool for all the use they’re getting out of it. Anyhoo, good riddance, Sarah — may all your cheese plates be comped!

PS: Who do you think will replace her? Speaking of cheese, ambulatory cream cheese sculpture Hugh Hewitt has been auditioning for the job for a couple of years…

Open Thread: Happy Pride Month!