Winning Is Losing

Here’s another excerpt from Michael Wolff’s upcoming “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House:”

I know I’m not alone in having suspected this all along. Trump’s talk about a “rigged” election, etc., toward the end of the campaign sounded like preemptive sore loser blather. May the unexpected win turn out to be the worst fucking thing that ever happened to the whole corrupt bunch.

“They’re going to crack Don Jr. like an egg…”

In interviews conducted for a forthcoming book on the Trump campaign and administration, walking gin blossom Steve Bannon tramples some erstwhile White House rivals in what appears to be a mad rush to abandon a sinking ship. Today, The Guardian published excerpts of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which drops next week:

Bannon remarked mockingly: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Bannon went on, Wolff writes, to say that if any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people”. Any information, he said, could then be “dump[ed] … down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication”.

Bannon added: “You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had.”

Bannon also thinks the administration’s outward facade of confidence in the outcome of the Mueller probe is…misplaced:

“You realise where this is going,” he is quoted as saying. “This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”

Last month it was reported that federal prosecutors had subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank, the German financial institution that has lent hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kushner property empire. Bannon continues: “It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit. The Kushner shit is greasy. They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me.”

Scorning apparent White House insouciance, Bannon reaches for a hurricane metaphor: “They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.”

Damn. Think this might explain why Trump is trying to start a nuclear war on Twitter?

Don’t let the door hit ya in the ass, 2017!

We usually leave our Christmas tree up until January 2nd. Not this year. I’m ready to put 2017 in the rear-view mirror, so I de-Christmasified the house this morning. Onward!

But first, as the squeaky screen door of time swings toward 2017’s ass, here’s a quick look back at some hopeful things:

Every damn person who showed up to a Women’s March event anywhere in the world gave me hope, including the millions who joined my family and me in the chilly streets of Washington, D.C., where we put the previous day’s inauguration crowd to shame with our numbers and general fabulousness.

Also, here’s a special shout-out to the sisterhood that ensured Trump will go down in history as the man who was rejected by the most women in a single day, ever.

And speaking of women who are tired of the bullshit, here’s a shout-out to the #MeToo movement. I’ve seen too many “Year of the Woman” magazine covers through the decades to ever expect a smooth progression or easy answers, but I’ll take a national conversation when we can get one.

Here’s to the Resistance writ large; let us resolve to work our asses off in the coming year to turn Trump and his band of elected sycophants out.

Yes, the ocher skidmark is a daily embarrassment, a constant degradation to be endured. But it would be fair to describe his administration as “besieged,” and those of us who have showed up at protests, made phone calls to our reps, registered new voters, attended town halls, joined activist groups, donated to campaigns, etc., have laid siege to those motherfuckers!

Let’s keep it up next year as we hope for better things. Open thread!

Breaking News: The President Has Given An Interview To The NY Times Without Legal Counsel Or Aides Present

I just got in from watching the hockey game with a friend, turned on the TV, and Ari Melber on MSNBC is reporting that the President sat for an interview earlier today with reporters from The NY Times. Without legal counsel or advisors present. According to Melber the entire interview produced twelve pages of transcripts. The NY Times has posted excerpts here.

Apparently the President has decided that his governing philosophy is l’etat est moi:

SCHMIDT: You control the Justice Department. Should they reopen that email investigation?

TRUMP: What I’ve done is, I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.

He also believes the only collusion was between the Democrats and the Russians:

TRUMP: [Inaudible.] There was tremendous collusion on behalf of the Russians and the Democrats. There was no collusion with respect to my campaign. I think I’ll be treated fairly. Timingwise, I can’t tell you. I just don’t know. But I think we’ll be treated fairly.

SCHMIDT: But you’re not worked up about the timing?

TRUMP: Well, I think it’s bad for the country. The only thing that bothers me about timing, I think it’s a very bad thing for the country. Because it makes the country look bad, it makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position. So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.

But there is tremendous collusion with the Russians and with the Democratic Party. Including all of the stuff with the — and then whatever happened to the Pakistani guy, that had the two, you know, whatever happened to this Pakistani guy who worked with the D.N.C.?

Whatever happened to them? With the two servers that they broke up into a million pieces? Whatever happened to him? That was a big story. Now all of sudden [inaudible]. So I know The New York Times is going to — because those are real stories. Whatever happened to the Hillary Clinton deleted 33,000 emails after she got [inaudible] — which you guys wrote, but then you dropped — was that you?

The President also appears to be unclear on how the GOP majority caucuses in both chambers of Congress approached the recent tax cut legislation:

TRUMP: Had they asked, “Let’s do a bipartisan,” Michael, I would have done bipartisan. I would absolutely have done bipartisan.

SCHMIDT: But they didn’t. … They didn’t …

TRUMP: And if I did bipartisan, I would have done something with SALT [the state and local tax deduction]. With that being said, you look back, Ronald Reagan wanted to take deductibility away from states. Ronald Reagan, years ago, and he couldn’t do it. Because New York had a very powerful group of people. Which they don’t have today. Today, they don’t have the same representatives. You know, in those days they had Lew Rudin and me. … I fought like hell for that. They had a lot of very good guys. Lew Rudin was very effective. He worked hard for New York. And we had some very good senators. … You know, we had a lot of people who fought very hard against, let’s call it SALT. Had they come to me and said, look, we’ll do this, this, this, we’ll do [inaudible]. I could have done something with SALT. Or made it less severe. But they were very ineffective. They were very, very ineffective. You understand what I mean. Had they come to me for a bipartisan tax bill, I would have gone to Mitch, and I would have gone to the other Republicans, and we could have worked something out bipartisan. And that could’ve been either a change to SALT or knockout of SALT.

He also wants to do away with chain migration (I’ll have a longer post on this next week), which is interesting because if it wasn’t for chain migration his grandfather would have never made it to the US from Germany, nor his mother from Scotland (and Stephen Miller’s family wouldn’t have made it out of Europe before the Holocaust).

TRUMP: I’m always moving. I’m moving in both directions. We have to get rid of chainlike immigration, we have to get rid of the chain. The chain is the last guy that killed. … [Talking with guests.] … The last guy that killed the eight people. … [Inaudible.] … So badly wounded people. … Twenty-two people came in through chain migration. Chain migration and the lottery system. They have a lottery in these countries.

They take the worst people in the country, they put ‘em into the lottery, then they have a handful of bad, worse ones, and they put them out. ‘Oh, these are the people the United States. …” … We’re gonna get rid of the lottery, and by the way, the Democrats agree with me on that. On chain migration, they pretty much agree with me.

He’s also very optimistic on his chances of reelection:

TRUMP: We’re going to win another four years for a lot of reasons, most importantly because our country is starting to do well again and we’re being respected again. But another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, “Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.” O.K.

Open thread.

Mueller Investigation Looking at RNC Digital Operation

Here’s an excerpt from a Yahoo News piece published earlier today:

As described by sources familiar with various aspects of the investigation, the Mueller probe is fast approaching a critical crossroads. The president’s lawyers, Ty Cobb and John Dowd, are pressing Mueller to wind down the investigation and exonerate their client, which they have assured the president will happen by early next year.

But the sources familiar with the probe say that such a rapid conclusion is — as one put it — “fanciful.” Mueller and his team, they say, are pursuing new leads, interrogating new witnesses and collecting a mountain of new evidence, including subpoenaed bank records and thousands of emails from the campaign and the Trump transition.

In just the last few weeks, his prosecutors have begun questioning Republican National Committee staffers about the party digital operation that worked with the Trump campaign to target voters in key swing states. They are seeking to determine if the joint effort was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the American electorate, according to two of the sources.

In what is potentially another ominous sign for the White House, the lawyer for Jared Kushner, the president’s son in law and senior adviser who was in charge of the campaign’s digital operation, recently began searching for a crisis public relations firm to handle press inquiries — a step frequently taken by people who believe they may be facing criminal charges. (Kushner has denied all wrongdoing, and his lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has said he is cooperating with the Mueller investigation.)

If this is accurate, I hope it also means the investigators are looking into House and Senate campaign shenanigans too. We know Rep. Brian Mast’s campaign consultant admitted working with a hacker the intelligence services identify as a Russian agent to target ad buys. The NYT ran a story about a year ago on other House races that were targeted, but the issue has received almost no attention since then.

Given that Trump refuses to hold Russia accountable for the 2016 meddling and is actively undermining the FBI’s investigation, we’ll be sitting ducks next year — unless the investigation turns up some bombshells on the congressional side that are more difficult to shove down the memory hole. The Trump campaign is the center ring in the circus, but it’s only one of three.

A Little Good News: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Rules the Third Travel Ban is Unconstitutional

Blanket bans are not an effective way to protect the US, Americans, or anyone else visiting the country. They are simply discriminatory, exclusionary, and rooted in deep seated religious and ethnic prejudice and racism. And within the administration’s senior staff they’re being pushed by a deeply disturbed young man who hasn’t quite figured out that he’s only considered white based on the sufferance of others.

From the decision:

“The Government’s interpretation of 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f) not only upends the carefully crafted immigration scheme Congress has embodied in the INA, but it deviates from the text of the statute, legislative history, and prior executive practice as well. Further, the President did not satisfy the critical prerequisite Congress attached to his suspension authority: Before blocking entry, he must first make a legally sufficient finding that the entry of the specified individuals would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” The Proclamation once again conflicts with the INA’s prohibition on nationality-based discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas.”

The decision takes direct aim at Trump’s claim that, as President, he can do whatever he’d like with regard to banning people from any country for any reason.

“The Government argues that the President, at any time and under any circumstances, could bar entry of all aliens from any country, and intensifies the consequences of its position by saying that no federal court—not a federal district court, nor our court of appeals, nor even the Supreme Court itself—would have Article III jurisdiction to review that matter because of the consular nonreviewability doctrine. Particularly in the absence of an explicit jurisdiction-stripping provision, we doubt whether the Government’s position could be adopted without running roughshod over the principles of separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution.”

The court also takes on the xenophobia underlying Trump’s order:

“In assessing the public interest, we are reminded of Justice Murphy’s wise words: “All residents of this nation are kin in some way by blood or culture to a foreign land.” Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214, 242 (Murphy, J., dissenting). It cannot be in the public interest that a portion of this country be made to live in fear.”

The court issued a limited injunction blocking the ban as it applies to “foreign nationals who have a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

The full ruling can be found at the link.

Open thread.

No One Could Have Predicted

Remember when Trump was talking about it was going to be all milk and honey for coal workers, steel mill workers, and everyone? Good times:

At this sprawling steel mill on the outskirts of Philadelphia, the workers have one number in mind. Not how many tons of steel roll off the line, or how many hours they work, but where they fall on the plant’s seniority list.

In September, ArcelorMittal, which owns the mill, announced that it would lay off 150 of the plant’s 207 workers next year. While the cuts will start with the most junior employees, they will go so deep that even workers with decades of experience will be cast out.

“I told my son, ‘Christmas is going to be kind of scarce, because Mommy’s going to lose her job soon,’” said Kimberly Allen, a steelworker and single parent who has worked at the plant for more than 22 years. On the seniority list, she’s 72nd.

Personally, I knew he was full of shit because he purchased tons of foreign steel for his own construction projects. If only someone had said something about that during the campaign:

Hillary Clinton slammed Donald Trump on Tuesday over a report that revealed the Republican presidential nominee purchased steel from China instead of from the US in two of his last three construction projects.

“For all his tough talk … I’ve listened to Donald as he’s bashed Chinese. You’ve heard him,” she said at a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “Well, we found out yesterday that he has been buying cheap Chinese aluminum and steel. Not buying here in Pennsylvania, not supporting our workers, but supporting the Chinese. These stories keep coming out, don’t they? And everyone makes the same point. They add up to clearly demonstrating that Donald Trump is the poster boy for so much of what is wrong in our economy.”

Well maybe if someone without lady parts had said it.