Is Rod Rosenstein the Anonymous Op-Ed Writer?

Probably not, but this article in The Times suggests he was thinking along similar lines last year:

WASHINGTON — The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.

Mr. Rosenstein made these suggestions in the spring of 2017 when Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director plunged the White House into turmoil. Over the ensuing days, the president divulged classified intelligence to Russians in the Oval Office, and revelations emerged that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loyalty and end an investigation into a senior aide.

Mr. Rosenstein was just two weeks into his job. He had begun overseeing the Russia investigation and played a key role in the president’s dismissal of Mr. Comey by writing a memo critical of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Mr. Rosenstein was caught off guard when Mr. Trump cited the memo in the firing, and he began telling people that he feared he had been used.

Concern about Trump’s chaotic style — check.
Musings about the 25th Amendment — check.

I find the “feared he had been used” thing hard to believe. How could he expect anything else from Trump? Also, this:

The president’s reliance on his memo caught Mr. Rosenstein by surprise, and he became angry at Mr. Trump, according to people who spoke to Mr. Rosenstein at the time. He grew concerned that his reputation had suffered harm and wondered whether Mr. Trump had motives beyond Mr. Comey’s treatment of Mrs. Clinton for ousting him, the people said.

Rosenstein can’t possibly be that naive. Recall that his memo excoriated Comey for sandbagging Clinton, even though that aspect is often overlooked in accounts of Comey’s firing. Rosenstein cannot possibly believe that the “lock her up” guy gave a flying shit about Clinton being treated unfairly.

Rosenstein issued a statement calling the story “inaccurate” and “factually incorrect.” Anyhoo, interesting, and it’ll probably drive Spanky even battier.

ETA: Someone on Twitter:

Maybe she’s right.

ETA 2: The fix is definitely in:

Dim Son dutifully chiming in after the story drops definitely confirms it’s a load of horse shit.



Aaaaand he finally went there…

Republican reactions to Dr. Blasey’s allegation that SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school have been predictably crass, clueless and bizarre. Only one of those reactions has been surprising (to me, at least): Trump’s relative restraint. I think we all knew it wouldn’t last:

I feel a great disturbance in the GOP Force, as if millions of Republican voices suddenly cried out, “FUCKING SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU STUPID FUCKING FUCK!” and were silenced (by cowardice).

ETA: Speaking of clueless assholes who aren’t helping their pal Kavanaugh with their dumb rants and foolish interventions:

Not good enough. We need a full accounting of how Special Ed coordinated his ill-fated smear job (of a Kavanaugh supporter!) with Republicans in Congress, the Federalist Society and maybe even White House advisers. Josh Marshall has the goods on that here.



Tiger Clerk-Model Pipeline

Remember the “Tiger Mother” person who was in the news several years back for her book extolling or lampooning (depending on whom you believe) über-strict, traditionalist child-rearing practices? Yeah, me neither, but it turns out she and her husband (Jed Rosenfeld) are both law professors at Yale, and they vetted and advised students who were applying for clerkships with federal judges, including Brett Kavanaugh.

Chua served as a character witness for Kavanaugh at his rollout, calling him a “mentor to women.” She and Rubenfeld offered tips to students seeking clerkships, advice that was in some cases controversial. Via TPM:

An unnamed Yale Law School student said that two of her professors, Jed Rubenfeld and his wife, Amy Chua, warned her that then-federal judge Brett Kavanaugh liked his female clerks to have a “certain look,” according to a Wednesday Huffington Post report.

“He did not say what the ‘certain look’ was. I did not ask,” the woman told the Huffington Post. “It was very clear to me that he was talking about physical appearance, because it was phrased as a warning ― and because it came after the warning about Judge Kozinski.” Alex Kozinski retired in December to a chorus of sexual harassment accusations.

We’ll get to Kavanaugh in a minute, but first, why were Rubenfeld and Chua warning clerks away from Kozinski instead of informing the bar association or whatever organization handles federal judges that there was a sexist pig on the bench who was serially harassing and assaulting clerks and other women in the workplace?

I am not a lawyer, but if it was such common knowledge that that professors made a point to steer students away from Kozinski, why couldn’t they steer investigators toward him?

Via The Guardian:

According to one source, Chua invited a group of students that she mentored to a bar last year to catch up and discuss their plans for clerkships. The conversation turned to a high-profile #MeToo case that was emerging in the news at the time involving a well-known public figure.

The group began to talk about whether the federal judiciary would ever face similar scrutiny, and, according to a source, Chua said she did not believe it would. She told the students she had known about allegedly abusive and harassing behavior by another judge, Alex Kozinski, who was head of the ninth circuit and was forced to retire from the bench last year after more than a dozen women accused him of harassment.

The conversation then turned to Kozinski’s protege and good friend Kavanaugh, who one source said was a familiar name even though he had not yet been nominated to the high court. Chua allegedly told the students that it was “no accident” that Kavanaugh’s female clerks “looked like models”. Student reacted with surprise, and quickly pointed out that Chua’s own daughter was due to clerk for Kavanaugh.

A source said that Chua quickly responded, saying that her own daughter would not put up with any inappropriate behaviour.

Jesus Chicken-Fried Christ. It’s pretty obvious why Chua didn’t think the federal judiciary would face that kind of scrutiny — all these people in elite, powerful positions knew about it and did jackshit to stop it!

The Guardian reports that Chua is currently hospitalized and unable to comment, and Rubenfeld is the subject of an “internal investigation” at Yale for reasons unknown to him, he says. I’m going to make a bold prediction: It has something to do with sexual harassment.

Good God, hose out the entire place and rebuild from scratch. Our elites are fucked up. And I don’t want to hear one more peep out of so-cons about campus PC run amok. Sounds like we need more awareness about how to treat one another like equal human beings, not less.



The GOP Is Exhausting – Now Updated With A Little Hope

Updated because I knew you guys would come through for me.  This lifted me, along with some great comments. I’d hope to give us all a place to vent and feel better. Hope it’s working.

h/t waratah

=============================

I lived through the Nixon years – and while I was young, I remember feeling energized by it all. Because somewhere in the back of my young mind, I saw this as how strong our country was. We defeat bad guys.

I remember during the Shrub years, feeling discouraged. Wondering how people could be so stupid to elect this idiot who was responsible for sending my brother and many, many more people to war.

But it was nothing like this. This. Is. Fucking. Exhausting. I don’t recognize the government any longer. And I can only hope that come November we are a tsunami of change and begin to wash away this stain.

I’m afraid there will always be racists, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes and other despicable people.  But for fucks sake, we shouldn’t be paying them with our tax dollars to destroy the country.  Or to be so cowardly as to not stand up for it.

I am officially discouraged this week.

Open thread.



The Big Bamboozle

In a bizarre interview with The Hill last night, Trump bragged that he is doing the country “a great service” by declassifying documents pertinent to an ongoing investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. What he is actually doing, of course, is trying to further undermine the Mueller investigation and influence the news cycle.

I hope and believe that Adam’s prediction about that effort will come to pass — that it will make Trump and his toadies in the House look like idiots. In The Hill interview, Trump said the declassification could become one of his “crowning achievements” because it will reveal that the FBI was out to get Trump all along when they surveilled Carter Page. The Atlantic covered this odd strategy here:

But it’s looking more and more like House Republicans have chosen to die on a hill that’s shifting below their feet. “Be careful what you wish for,” Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Tuesday. He was indicating, according to an aide, that “it’s simply impossible to review the documents” on Page and conclude anything other than that the FBI “had ample reason” to investigate him. It’s not only Democratic Senators who believe that: Republican Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN in July that he believes the FISA judges had “sound reasons” for issuing the Page surveillance warrant to the FBI. “I don’t think I ever expressed that I thought the FISA application came up short,” Burr said at the time.

But Reps Nunes, Gaetz, Meadows, et al, are doubling down on the Page-as-martyr strategy. It may make sense to people (like Trump) who marinate in Fox News 24/7, but it’ll likely fall flat with everyone else because believing all the Deep State conspiracy crap is a prerequisite of buying the Page-as-victim angle. It would be as if you or I showed up at a city council meeting and started babbling about lost mustard and naked mopping. Any jackals in the audience might find it amusing, but the rest of the crowd would look at us as if we’d lost our goddamned minds.

Anyhoo, there was also this piece of supreme weirdness from Trump in last night’s interview with The Hill:

Trump also said he regretted not firing former FBI Director James Comey immediately instead of waiting until May 2017, confirming an account his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, gave Hill.TV earlier in the day that Trump was dismayed in 2016 by the way Comey handled the Hillary Clinton email case and began discussing firing him well before he became president.

“If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him the day I won the primaries,” Trump said. “I should have fired him right after the convention, say I don’t want that guy. Or at least fired him the first day on the job. … I would have been better off firing him or putting out a statement that I don’t want him there when I get there.”

Trump has offered different reasons in the past for his firing of the FBI chief, blaming Comey’s handling of the Clinton case but also linking it to Comey’s actions in the Russian investigation.

Emphasis mine. Of course, Comey served at the pleasure of President Obama when Trump won the primaries and was nominated at the convention. But I suspect Trump was just indulging in mindless superlatives as usual during that interview but was otherwise faithful to talking points created as part of an evolving legal/PR strategy — to claim that he was onto this Deep State conspiracy even before day one and, therefore, Trump fired Comey for the Clinton email investigation rather than to shutdown the Mueller probe.

But believing that dog’s breakfast of a post-hoc justification requires going down rabbit holes within rabbit holes. For instance, recall that the memo Trump ordered Deputy AG Rosenstein to produce to justify firing Comey rightly claimed that Comey’s actions at the conclusion of the email investigation were unfair to Clinton. But now we’re supposed to believe that Clinton was colluding with the Russians to take out Trump, either with the active participation of Comey or via his negligence? Come on, man.

It’s nonsense. But so is everything else Trump says, like the claims this morning that the economic recovery began the day he was elected. You can plot unemployment rates, GDP growth, etc., on a chart that represents a gradual upward trajectory from the Great Recession to the present day and wave it in Trump supporters’ faces, but they won’t believe their lying eyes or lived experience. Nope, the USA was a Dickensian hellscape until 11/9/2016 and the ascension of the Golden Calf.

Will the con work again? I don’t think so. One thing successful con artists know is that you have to move on because the bamboozle only works until it stops working. Ironically, being POTUS is the first real job Trump has ever had. And it looks like the first performance review is going to be all kinds of ugly.



Save Yourselves!

For the love of all that is holy, whatever you do today, do not click on any story that refers to Mario Kart, mushrooms or yetis. Don’t Google the terms. Don’t click on trending topics that include those words. If an article containing one or more of those words pops up in a news alert, place your phone on a sturdy surface and smash it to pieces with a heavy object.

Hang onto your innocence, comrades, because the prose you’d summon with that peculiar combination of keywords today will put images in your mind that will haunt you to your last breath.

You have been warned!

Open thread.



Age of Consent

Christine Blasey Ford knew that coming forward with her allegation against SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh would open an alt-right hellmouth that would engulf her and her family, but she did it anyway. I think that’s a lot more patriotic than torching a pair of Nikes.

In yesterday’s thread on the topic, I said I thought there was maybe a 5% chance Ford’s revelation would sink the Kavanaugh nomination. Many of y’all were more optimistic. Maybe you were right.

There’s a lot of butt-hurt about the possibility — mostly from men, mostly on the right, but not exclusively. The complaint is that shit that went down in high school shouldn’t haunt someone forever.

To some extent, that’s true. My husband and I were discussing this last night. We’re about the same age as Kavanaugh and Ford. Like most folks in our demographic cohort, we’re glad our youthful exploits weren’t captured on social media.

We discussed many stupid things we’d done and said back during the Reagan administration — shameful, embarrassing, irresponsible shit. But neither of us ever sexually assaulted anyone.

Yes, things were different in the 1980s — go watch “Pretty in Pink” if you want to cringe at outdated sexist and racist stereotypes that were mainstream at the time. But the incident Ford describes wasn’t acceptable back then either, even as our societal consensus on consent was, shall we say, more primitive.

The folks who are mostly arguing in bad faith about Kavanaugh do occasionally raise valid issues about how fair it is to hold people accountable for past behavior that clashes with current mores, and also adult culpability decades later for behavior during adolescence. That’s a conversation worth having.

But as someone pointed out on Twitter, it’s mostly those same people who have no problem with smearing unarmed victims of police shootings with old social media material and think it’s okay to lock teenagers up for life without parole.

Overall, I’m grateful for the progress we’ve made on the consent issue. It didn’t keep a serial sexual predator out of the White House in 2016. In fact, resistance to new norms almost certainly helped propel the orange fart cloud to the Oval Office.

But if it can help keep an ideologue credibly accused of sexual assault from joining a serial sexual harasser on the highest court in the land — a court that issues rulings affecting women’s bodily autonomy — I’ll count it as progress.