Monday Morning Open Thread: Fireball

Meteor entering the Earths Atmosphere over Italy in the Dolomites


.

From the Astronomy Picture of the Day website (Image Credit & Copyright: Ollie Taylor)… because we all miss Alain’s wonderful morning posts.
.

Apart from Thanksgiving prep/travel, what’s on the agenda for the start of another week?

***********

Also entertaining, though on a far less elevated plane — from the Washington Post, “‘A long winter’: White House aides divided over scope, risks of Russia probe”:

Six months into a special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, White House aides and others in President Trump’s close orbit are increasingly divided in their assessments of the expanding probe and how worried administration officials and campaign aides should be about their potential legal peril, according to numerous people familiar with the debate…

The investigation reached a critical turning point in recent weeks, with a formal subpoena to the campaign, an expanding list of potential witnesses and the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. Some within Trump’s circle, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, have already been interviewed by Mueller’s investigators, while others such as Hope Hicks — the White House communications director and trusted confidant of the president — and White House counsel Donald McGahn are expected in coming weeks.

One Republican operative in frequent contact with the White House described Mueller’s team “working through the staff like Pac-Man.”

“Of course they are worried,” said the Republican, who insisted on anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “Anybody that ever had the words ‘Russia’ come out of their lips or in an email, they’re going to get talked to. These things are thorough and deep. It’s going to be a long winter.” …

The president himself, however, has warmed to Cobb’s optimistic message on Mueller’s probe. Cobb had initially said he hoped the focus on the White House would conclude by Thanksgiving, but adjusted the timeline slightly in an interview last week, saying he remains optimistic that it will wrap up by the end of the year, if not shortly thereafter…

But the reassurances from Cobb and others — which seem at least partially aimed at keeping the president calm and focused on governing — are viewed by others as naive.

“The president says, ‘This is all just an annoyance. I did nothing,’ ” said one person close to the administration. “He is somewhat arrogant about it. But this investigation is a classic Gambino-style roll-up. You have to anticipate this roll-up will reach everyone in this administration.”…

In fact, legal experts and private defense lawyers monitoring the case believe that Mueller’s investigation — which officially began in May and resulted in its first charges against three former campaign aides last month — is still in its early stages.

They expect that the prosecutors have considerable investigative work still to do, and they predict more campaign officials, among others, will face charges. They expect the probe to extend deep into 2018 and possibly longer…



Late Night Russiagate Open Thread: Sometimes It’s What Doesn’t Get Said…

The RNC discovers the sunk cost fallacy, will stop throwing good money after bad:

Trump defense lawyer John Dowd said that following payments by the Republican National Committee, the president began paying the bills and now wants to make the party “even.” The RNC confirmed it is no longer paying the bills…

Also, they’re not tearing up the IOUs until Trump’s check clears — assuming it ever arrives. Do newspaper classified columns still include those post-divorce announcements that Mr./Ms. X “will no longer be held responsible for any bills charged to [his/her] former spouse Y”?

The expenses cover personal lawyers representing Trump in special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election…

Special White House counsel Ty Cobb said the administration was working with others to establish a legal fund for current and former staffers. Dowd said White House counsel Don McGahn and campaign lawyer Ben Ginsberg of Jones Day are working to structure that fund, which would be subject to rules that prohibit staff from receiving gifts or pro bono legal service.

The president is exempt from those rules, Dowd said.

“The geniuses are working on it,” Dowd said. “If it passes muster with the tax lawyers and accountants, then it has to pass muster with the Office of Government Ethics.”

During former President Bill Clinton’s administration, private funds were raised to cover Clinton’s legal expenses related to the Whitewater investigation

I think we may have uncovered the spark behind last week’s BUT WHAT ABOUT TEH CLENIS!!! noisy public kabuki. It’s not as though Donald “I Am So A Billionaire” Trump could count on his base to chip in for his legal bills… and his usual donors don’t want to draw further attention to themselves.

… In August, Reuters first reported that the RNC was paying Trump’s legal bills, which amounted to more than $230,000 that month. The payments were made to Trump’s outside legal team, which includes Dowd.

Additionally, Trump’s re-election campaign paid more than $300,000 this year in bills to lawyers representing his son, Donald Trump Jr., according to public disclosures. The campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether it will continue to pay for Trump Jr’s legal expenses…

While previous presidential campaigns have used these funds to pay for routine legal matters such as ballot access disputes and compliance requirements, Trump is the first president in the modern campaign finance era to use such funds on the costs of responding to a criminal probe, said election law experts.

Upcoming Trump tweet: Once Again I have acheived UNPRESIDENTED accomplishment!!! — not like Crooked Hillary who had to Pay for Her own … (1/x)



Friday Evening Open Thread: All the Turkeys



Well Now That Is Interesting Isn’t It?

Hrmm:

On Aug. 3 of last year, just as the US presidential election was entering its final, heated phase, the Russian foreign ministry sent nearly $30,000 to its embassy in Washington. The wire transfer, which came from a Kremlin-backed Russian bank, landed in one of the embassy’s Citibank accounts and contained a remarkable memo line: “to finance election campaign of 2016.”

That wire transfer is one of more than 60 now being scrutinized by the FBI and other federal agencies investigating Russian involvement in the US election. The transactions, which moved through Citibank accounts and totaled more than $380,000, each came from the Russian foreign ministry and most contained a memo line referencing the financing of the 2016 election.

The money wound up at Russian embassies in almost 60 countries from Afghanistan to Nigeria between Aug. 3 and Sept. 20, 2016. It is not clear how the funds were used. At least one transaction that came into the US originated with VTB Bank, a financial institution that is majority-owned by the Kremlin.

I’ll let the smarts figure this all out but if any of that money got into the hands of people associated with the Trump campaign we get real close to the dreaded “c” word, and I don’t mean cuck.








Quday’s Problematic Penpal

I can’t wait to watch these motherfuckers get perp walked:

Just before the stroke of midnight on September 20, 2016, at the height of last year’s presidential election, the Wikileaks Twitter account sent a private direct message to Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s oldest son and campaign surrogate. “A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch,” Wikileaks wrote. “The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is ‘putintrump.’ See ‘About’ for who is behind it. Any comments?” (The site, which has since become a joint project with Mother Jones, was founded by Rob Glaser, a tech entrepreneur, and was funded by Progress for USA Political Action Committee.)

The next morning, about 12 hours later, Trump Jr. responded to Wikileaks. “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around,” he wrote on September 21, 2016. “Thanks.”

The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between Wikileaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017. The messages show Wikileaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. Wikileaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States.

Mueller knows who he asked about this. We will soon, too, but I am guessing Roger Stone is involved.








Small Acts of Genius

Apparently the folks at the Daily Show made a chrome extension called “Make Trump tweets Eight Again” that add a special touch to all of his tweets:

Heh.








Open Thread: The Response From Trump’s Owners

Dance, old man, you’re our puppet and we want to see you dance…


.

THANKS EVER SO MUCH, REPUBS, FOR SELLING US ALL OUT!