Russiagate Open Thread: Foreign Policy Joins the ‘Fake News’ Parade

President Donald Trump pressed senior aides last June to devise and carry out a campaign to discredit senior FBI officials after learning that those specific employees were likely to be witnesses against him as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two people directly familiar with the matter.

In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, recently fired FBI Director James Comey disclosed that he spoke contemporaneously with other senior bureau officials about potentially improper efforts by the president to curtail the FBI’s investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election…

Not long after Comey’s Senate testimony, Trump hired John Dowd, a veteran criminal defense attorney, to represent him in matters related to Mueller’s investigation. Dowd warned Trump that the potential corroborative testimony of the senior FBI officials in Comey’s account would likely play a central role in the special counsel’s final conclusion, according to people familiar with the matter.

In discussions with at least two senior White House officials, Trump repeated what Dowd had told him to emphasize why he and his supporters had to “fight back harder,” in the words of one of these officials…

While Dowd’s private advice to the president would ordinarily be protected by attorney-client privilege, Mueller might be able to probe comments that Trump made to others about that legal advice by asking him directly about it as well as anyone else he shared that advice with.

A person with direct knowledge of the matter said although Dowd explained the risks of senior FBI officials joining Comey in testifying against Trump, that information was part of a broader presentation to the president about Mueller’s investigation. It is not improper, but in fact is a duty, for an attorney to explain to a client how they are at risk, the source said. What may have been improper, however, were actions Trump took upon learning that information.

Since Dowd gave him that information, Trump — as well as his aides, surrogates, and some Republican members of Congress — has engaged in an unprecedented campaign to discredit specific senior bureau officials and the FBI as an institution.

The FBI officials Trump has targeted are Andrew McCabe, the current deputy FBI director and who was briefly acting FBI director after Comey’s firing; Jim Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff and senior counselor; and James Baker, formerly the FBI’s general counsel. Those same three officials were first identified as possible corroborating witnesses for Comey in a June 7 article in Vox. Comey confirmed in congressional testimony the following day that he confided in the three men.

In the past, presidents have attacked special counsels and prosecutors who have investigated them, calling them partisan and unfair. But no previous president has attacked a long-standing American institution such as the FBI — or specific FBI agents and law enforcement officials…

That Trump may have been motivated to attack specific FBI officials because they were potential witnesses against him could demonstrate potential intent that would bolster an obstruction of justice case.

You’d think, given the Mafia contacts NYC building developer Trump has allegedly developed, he’d have been told by now that ‘okay, we’ll just get rid of those troublemaking witnesses’ is *not* as easy and foolproof a tactic as ‘declaring bankruptcy and walking away from my latest failure’. But then again, maybe he’s What His Party Wants…



GOP Idiocracy Open Thread: Today, Mike Pence Became Truly Vice-Presidential

Transcription:

Somewhere, ol’ Lyndon is saying, “Damn, that’s no way to treat a man who willingly cut off his own pecker so you could carry it in your pocket!”

Truly, this is the strangest timeline, when even Bill Kristol is not reliably 100% always wrong…
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ATTN: Wingnuts! We Have a Problem!

Wingnuts have a new hero:

By one metric, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Alejandro Villanueva has emerged from the NFL’s current controversy as the most popular player in the league.

In the last 24 hours, Villanueva’s No. 78 is the best-selling jersey on Fanatics, the biggest retailer of sports merchandise, after the offensive tackle and ex-Army Ranger stood on the field for the national anthem while his teammates stayed out of sight.

And, as heroes go, he’s really not that bad a choice. But wait, it gets better:

Villanueva says he asked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger if he could be out in front with the captains during the national anthem and they agreed to it, but when he went to the front of the tunnel to see the flag, he went too far unintentionally.

“When we came out of the locker room into that tunnel, it was a very small area. There was a flag or something coming off the field so there were a bunch of Bears fans, coming off the field holding that going in front of us, so it kind of held us up,” Villanueva said.

The rest of the team remained in the tunnel.

“I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault, and my fault only,” Villanueva said. “We as a team tried to figure it out, but obviously butchered it.”

During his press conference, the former Army Ranger says he is absolutely okay if teammates kneel or sit during the national anthem.

“People that are taking a knee are not saying anything negative about the military, they’re not saying anything negative about the flag, they’re just trying to protest that there are some injustices in America,” Villanueva said.

He says some players who have been kneeling during anthems have even approached him before or after games and thanked him for his service including other players in the NFC North.

I wonder how many of those jerseys will now be cancelled.

On a side note, there is no fucking aspect of this country that Trump is not going to fucking poison.








Open Thread: Even the Very Serious People Think He’s Lost the Plot


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Yes, I fully agree it’s croggling to find any point of agreement with James ‘NSA’ Clapper… but there it is.

Lord Smallgloves is well on his way to achieving a warped form of his vision of ‘America United’ — we all agree the man is lacking. And dangerous.


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Monday Morning Open Thread: It’s Always White Nationalism Week At the Trump White House!

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
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This is from the beginning of August, but I didn’t get a chance to link it earlier because there’s always so much damned news. Paul Waldman, in The Week, “It’s white nationalism week in the Trump administration”:

The power of Trump’s campaign for so many of his voters was that it wasn’t couched in euphemism and it didn’t apologize for its appeal to racial, ethnic, and religious identity. His most ardent supporters thrilled to the permission Trump gave them to cast off the chains of “political correctness” and tell people what they really thought of them — immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans, women, all of them.

What do you think “Make America Great Again” was supposed to mean? It promised a return to a time when our country was less diverse and no one questioned a hierarchy that placed white men at the top (today, of course, the hierarchy still exists, but people question it all the time). Many of those white men feel like they’ve lost something over the years, particularly if their economic prospects are limited. For them, the idea of turning back the clock so they wouldn’t have to read signs in Spanish or be polite to people they consider their lessers was nothing short of intoxicating…

While President Trump may never have had any deep thoughts about his role in a clash of civilizations, he knows what whips up his crowds. And his impulses always run toward antipathy for people not like him — even, in his more vulgar moments, toward advocacy for violence, whether it’s telling his supporters to “knock the hell” out of protesters or suggesting that what America needs is more police brutality.

“See, in the good old days this doesn’t happen,” Trump said when protesters interrupted him at a campaign rally, “because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily.” Everyone cheered. He promised his supporters a return to those good old days, and that’s what he’s trying to give them. They can look at Washington and know that non-white people and immigrants aren’t going to be treated with kid gloves anymore. It may not put food on their tables or solve the problems in their communities, but it might be enough to convince them that America is becoming great again. And that’s all Trump needs.

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Apart from rededicating ourselves to a long battle, what’s on the agenda as we start the new week?



Friday Morning Open Thread: Because Those Sheets Would Never Be the Same

Poor little Charlottesville (so close to DC, so far from… the concrete canyon haunts of scary urban types, ifyouknowwhatimeanandithinkyoudo) is not looking forward to the weekend. Per the SPLC:

Hundreds of Alt-Right activists and white nationalist extremists are set to descend on the small community of Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday in what’s shaping up to be the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States.

“Unite the Right” is expected to draw a broad spectrum of far-right extremist groups – from immigration foes to anti-Semitic bigots, neo-Confederates, Proud Boys, Patriot and militia types, outlaw bikers, swastika-wearing neo-Nazis, white nationalists and Ku Klux Klan members – all of whom seem emboldened by the Trump presidency…

Those Out’n’Proud racists better bring their RVs and camper tops, because I am happy to note that the local Airbnb is not sympathetic. Per the Washington Post:

As city leaders worked Monday trying to defuse an increasingly tense situation, the lodging rental company Airbnb quietly booted users who it believed were searching for lodging to attend the rally.

The company confirmed they had taken action in a statement to NBC29: “When through out background check processes or from input of our community we identify and determine that there are those who would be pursuing behavior on the platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment, we seek to take appropriate action including, as in this case, removing them from the platform.”

That stance didn’t sit well with the rally’s organizer, Jason Kessler.

“This is outrageous and should be grounds for a lawsuit,” Kessler told The Washington Post on Monday night. “It’s the racial targeting of white people for their ethnic advocacy.”…

What a fragile snowflake. To quote my Orange-bred granny: Go boil yer head, it might be useful then [as cabbage soup].

Much more on the proposed rally and counter rallies here, here, and here — in the NYTimes:

[T]he rally’s leaders have complained in their social media posts of a “heckler’s veto,” saying that the counter-protests are effectively censoring their free speech rights.

“There is just an incredible amount of discrimination from the city government and other elements of the community to keep people from eating at the restaurants they want to eat at, to keep people from renting,” Mr. Kessler said. “There’s just an enormous amount of hostility.”

Asked if he was surprised by the pushback, he said, “I think that I’m surprised by the venom and rancor from some individuals. It’s a little over the top.”

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Apart from hoping the bigots are seized by a great confusion & fright causing them to turn on each other with the same rancor, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the week?



Late Night Spy-vs-Spy Open Thread: How Badly Did Ivanka Want A Divorce?

She had a nice lifestyle, a profitable brand, the envy of all her Park Slope peers, until somebody talked Daddy into running for President…

Yes, “Melania’s pre-nup” would be the obvious joke, but who believes Melania was paying that much attention to what the old man’s cronies were up to?

(General speculation, if you click on the tweets and read the replies, seems to be that Trump should’ve had the smarts to be nicer to Christie.)

Apparently Fox News had a really frantic evening, looking for substitute target for the evening’s Ten Minute Hate…

(You probably don’t want to read the replies to that tweet… )