GOP Projection Open Thread: Which Hunt?

I know GOP voters have been carefully trained to believe what Fox News tells them over the evidence of their own lyin’ eyes, but I still think today’s hearing was, among other things, a gift to Andrew Janz’s campaign ad writers:

When California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes sat before a committee Wednesday to testify on a bill, Democrats tried to use the opportunity to question the House Intelligence Committee chairman on his investigation of Russian meddling and the 2016 presidential race.

But the Republican chairman of the House Rules Committee — Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas — allowed Nunes to leave the hearing before Democrats could fire off their questions, prompting criticism from Democrats…

Rep. Norma Torres, a California Democrat, started asking a question about Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a statement he previously made to the House Intelligence Committee.

Sessions interrupted her and abruptly broke up the committee for a five-minute recess to discuss the questioning with the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Jim McGovern.

They resumed the hearing 18 minutes later, and Sessions dismissed Nunes from the witness table before Democrats could ask him more questions.

Democrats took issue with Sessions’ dismissal of the House intelligence chairman.

“In all my years on the Rules Committee, I don’t ever recall an instance where any member was prevented from asking questions of a witness,” McGovern said in a statement. “What is Chairman Nunes trying to hide?”…



Joint House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearing with FBI Supervisory Special Agent in Charge Peter Strzok Live Feed

Here’s the live feed for Supervisory Special Agent in Charge Peter Strzok’s testimony before a joint committee of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees.

I’ve got it cued up to start just as Judiciary Committee Chair Goodlatte starts his opening remarks. Right now the committee chairs and ranking members are still making their statements and SSAC Strzok is waiting to give his. Here’s a transcript of Strzok’s prepared opening statement.

Chairmen Goodlatte and Gowdy, Ranking Members Nadler and Cummings. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before your committees again, this time in an open hearing.
I testify today with significant regret, recognizing that my texts have created confusion and caused pain for people I love. Certain private messages of mine have provided ammunition for misguided attacks against the FBI, an institution I love deeply and have served proudly for more than 20 years.

I am eager to answer your questions, but let me first directly address those much-talked about texts.

Like many people, I had and expressed personal political opinions during an extraordinary Presidential election. Many contained expressions of concern for the security of our country — opinions that were not always expressed in terms I am proud of.

But having worked in national security for two decades and proudly served in the U.S. Army, those opinions were expressed out of deep patriotism and an unyielding belief in our great American democracy. At times my criticism was blunt, but despite how it’s been characterized, it was not limited to one person or one party – I criticized various countries and politicians, including Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders, then-candidate Trump and others.

But let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took.

This is true for the Clinton email investigation, for the investigation into Russian interference, and for every other investigation I’ve worked on. It is not who I am, and it is not something I would ever do. Period.

I understand that my sworn testimony will not be enough for some people. After all, Americans are skeptical of anything they hear out of Washington. But the fact is, after months of investigations, there is simply no evidence of bias in my professional actions.

There is, however, one extraordinarily important piece of evidence supporting my integrity, the integrity of the FBI, and our lack of bias.

In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign. This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind.

That’s what FBI agents do every single day, and it’s why I am so proud of the Bureau. And I am particularly proud of the work that I, and many others, did on the Clinton email investigation. Our charge was to investigate it competently, honestly, and independently, and that is exactly what happened.

I’m also proud of our work on the Russian interference investigation. This is an investigation into a direct attack by a foreign adversary – and it is no less so simply because it was launched against our democratic process rather than against a military base. This is something that all Americans, of all political persuasions, should be alarmed by. In the summer of 2016, we had an urgent need to protect the integrity of an American Presidential election from a hostile foreign power determined to weaken and divide the United States of America. This investigation is not politically motivated, it is not a witch hunt, it is not a hoax.

I expect that during this hearing, I’ll be asked about that ongoing investigation. During my testimony before these Committees two weeks ago, I was asked a number of questions, including about the ongoing Russia investigation, that counsel for the FBI instructed me not to answer. Consistent with my obligations, I followed the instructions of agency counsel. However, these exchanges generated significant tension with the Majority Members and numerous time-consuming sidebars and discussions amongst counsel.

Earlier this week, my attorney asked the Committees and the FBI to confer and agree on ground rules about which topics the FBI would allow me to testify about, and which I could not. As recently as last night, the FBI and Congress were still negotiating about what questions I would be allowed to answer here today. My understanding is that the FBI’s Office of General Counsel has provided the Committee with a list of questions that I will be permitted to answer today; the list includes certain questions that I was asked but instructed not to answer during my previous interview by the Committees. I am happy to answer any questions for which I have authorization to answer and where the FBI has directed me not to answer, I will abide by the FBI’s instructions – but let me clear: this is not because I don’t want to answer your questions; if I were permitted to answer, I would. And the answers would doubtless be disappointing to the questioners and undermine the conspiracy narrative being told about the Russia investigation.

In addition, I will testify today as accurately as I can, and to the best of my recollection. Nevertheless, my testimony will necessarily be less accurate, less precise, and less complete than it would be had the Committees not insisted on this unreasonable and unprecedented schedule. Only 36 hours ago I received access to thousands of pages of documents that the Department of Justice turned over to the Committees last week. Unlike the Members questioning me today, I do not have the transcript from my eleven hours of testimony last week. The time available for preparation has been wholly inadequate, as has my access to documents necessary for my preparation.

I understand we are living in a political era in which insults and insinuation often drown out honesty and integrity. But the honest truth is that Russian interference in our elections constitutes a grave attack on our democracy. Most disturbingly, it has been wildly successful – sowing discord in our nation and shaking faith in our institutions. I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.

As someone who loves this country and cherishes its ideals, it is profoundly painful to watch and even worse to play a part in.



The Russian Planning for Next Week’s Summit is Going Well!

There’s a reason that both Finland and Sweden have moved towards a war footing over the past year and this type of Russian military behavior is it.

There’s already been a lot of commentary this week about the President, his attitudes toward NATO and the EU, what may or may not happen at the NATO summit this week, speculation about worst case scenarios over what the President might do at the NATO summit this week, and speculation about worst case scenarios over what the President might do at his one on one summit with Vladimir Putin next week. There’s not much more that both can be said and/or needs to be said. Expect it to be bad and hope it isn’t the worst case.

The President of the United States does not believe in alliances. This is one of the few consistent positions he’s held and, as we’ve discussed here repeatedly, it dates back to 1987. The President of the United States views every relationship as zero-sum. That in order for one side to win, the other side has to lose. And that for the President winning means not just coming out ahead, but doing so by cruelly punishing one’s counter-party. And the President doesn’t really have any understanding of, nor care to learn anything about, why the US built the post World War II and then the post Cold War order the way it did. As I wrote back in January 2017:

It is true that both NATO and the EU were created at a different time and for reasons that are only partially why they are important today. The real genius of both NATO and the EU, regardless of how they’ve developed and recognizing that no institution or organization ever develops perfectly and that reasonable, rational adjustments to both institutions should be made as needed, is that they knit Europe together. Despite what the populist-nationalist or national-populists or whatever they finally agree on calling themselves say, the purpose of NATO and the EU isn’t the destruction of sovereignty or national independence. Rather both organizations serve as a forcing function. They force the European member states of both organizations to work together, to cooperate, to recognize that sometimes there are bigger and more important issues than simply national interests.

The proof that NATO and the EU have been successful is that there has not been a war in Europe between European states over national interests*, including national pride or economic disputes since the end of World War II. By stitching Britain and France and Germany and Belgium and Denmark and Spain and Portugal and France and Greece and Italy and Iceland and Norway and now all the member countries from Central and Eastern Europe together, NATO has made war in Europe among the Europeans less likely. The same for the EU. When Germany and France have a dispute they and their allies no longer spill blood and treasure across the fields of Belgium. Instead they meet in Belgium and talk it out. The forcing function, forcing these states and societies to work together, means that the uniformed and civilian personnel of all these countries have studied and travelled and worked and vacationed all over Europe. They all have counterparts and colleagues from the other European NATO and EU member states. Their children’s friends are the children of their colleagues from other countries. This is the real, tangible benefit of the EU and NATO. It’s not a common market or a mutual defense pact. The real benefit is that the EU and NATO have broken the reality of over a thousand years of conflicts, capped off by World Wars I and II, in Europe and among the people of the nation-states that make up Europe.

This is what the President doesn’t understand, doesn’t want to understand, and even if he was forced to learn it, would discount it because it makes no sense to how he understands the world. For the President the world – the personal world, the professional/business world, the world of politics, and the global system – are red in tooth and claw. They are all a war of all against all where the strong survive and the weak are prey. And might makes right. NATO and the EU were designed and intended to break that dynamic within both Europe and the global system. To break the constant cycles of a war every generation in the core of Europe. Wars that in the 20th Century came very close to consuming the entire world. Preventing that, even if it appears costly in up front commitments, is a tremendous bargain in preventing the waste of blood and treasure that a major war in Europe would cost.

Open thread!

* I am aware that the conflict in the Balkans, the war between the Serbs, Croats, and Muslims of what was Yugoslavia, was a European war. However, it was on the periphery of Europe and didn’t divide the continent and lead to a broader war such as World War I or World War II. More recently, Russian irredentist violence in Georgia, Crimea, and the Donbass is also war, but here too the major powers at the core of Europe haven’t take sides against each other leading to a much broader and deadlier conflict. This isn’t to downplay the reality, the suffering, the destruction, and the loss of life in any of these conflicts, just to put them in perspective.



Late-Night Russiagate Open Thread: That’s A Lotta Contacts…

RE: Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler? Dour conservative and professional Russia-watcher Tom Nichols, concerning the NYMag story by Jonathan Chait that BettyC linked this morning:


Read more



Supreme Court Nomination Live Feed and Open Thread

Here’s a live feed for the Supreme Court nomination announcement:

Apparently Judge Barrett is at home in Indiana:

NBC news has decided to break the news!

But there’s still a chance for the dark horse!

She just exudes Supreme Courtattitude!

Stay out of the way or the rabid lady from Fox News will nosh on your soul!

Open thread.



Independence Day in Perspective: Frederick Douglass’s Understanding of the Day Speaks to Us Through Time

The point of breaking up the Declaration of Independence into smaller pieces, rather than posting the whole thing at once, was to (hopefully) make us all slow down and actually (re)read it. And by reading it recognizing that, as a number of you have commented through the day, a lot of it seems just as relative to the US in 2018 as it did to the American colonies in 1776. Even if the underlying context is different. I hope to have more on that tomorrow. However, another reason to break it down into smaller pieces was not just to have the brilliant and/or still relevant portions of the Declaration pop out at us as readers, but also so that the flawed portions, the portions that seem so incongruous to us today, as well as the parts that even in context should have seemed out of place to the Founders and Framers in their day, stand out as well.

The Founders and Framers for all their intelligence, wisdom, and in some cases foresight, were also all too human. They were flawed. They had their own prejudices. And they had petty disputes and squabbles with each other. Even fifty years after he drafted it, and after a significant portion of his lifetime having been lived for all intents and purposes in a common law marriage with a biracial, African American slave who was also his sister in law, Jefferson still seemed to be incapable of recognizing what was both literally and figuratively right in front of his face. Jefferson was invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration in DC, but was unable to attend because he was ill and would soon die. Instead he sent a reply detailing what the Declaration meant. Here’s an excerpt, but you can see that he still seemed to be missing a key point:

I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. may it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings & security of self-government. that form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. all eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view. the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.

Twenty-six years later on the 76th anniversary of the Declaration, Frederick Douglass gave an oration that focused on what Independence Day means to African-Americans. Both those still enslaved and those who had been able to escape their bondage. Here too is an excerpt, but do click across and read the whole transcript if you’ve not ever read the whole thing.

But, such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. — The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mineYou may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, lowering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then fellow-citizens, is AMERICAN SLAVERY. I shall see, this day, and its popular characteristics, from the slave’s point of view. Standing, there, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery — the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse;” I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

Here are both Morgan Freeman and James Earl Jones reading excerpts of Douglass’s oration:

And here’s the audio of the whole oration:

As I wrote last year, which is, I think appropriate for both this specific post and for the circumstances of the US in 2018, to bring Independence Day 2018 to a close:

During the years prior to the Great Rebellion, America abolitionists rewrote the lyrics to My Country Tis of Thee. This abolitionist variant, done in a minor key, becomes a haunting spiritual begging the divine providence cited by the Founders in the Declaration, Constitution, and their other writings to finally bring liberty to all.

Open thread!

 



He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us,

and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah BartlettWilliam WhippleMatthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John HancockSamuel AdamsJohn AdamsRobert Treat PaineElbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen HopkinsWilliam Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger ShermanSamuel HuntingtonWilliam WilliamsOliver Wolcott

New York:
William FloydPhilip LivingstonFrancis LewisLewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard StocktonJohn WitherspoonFrancis HopkinsonJohn HartAbraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert MorrisBenjamin RushBenjamin FranklinJohn MortonGeorge ClymerJames SmithGeorge TaylorJames WilsonGeorge Ross

Delaware:
Caesar RodneyGeorge ReadThomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel ChaseWilliam PacaThomas StoneCharles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George WytheRichard Henry LeeThomas JeffersonBenjamin HarrisonThomas Nelson, Jr.Francis Lightfoot LeeCarter Braxton

North Carolina:
William HooperJoseph HewesJohn Penn

South Carolina:
Edward RutledgeThomas Heyward, Jr.Thomas Lynch, Jr.Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button GwinnettLyman HallGeorge Walton