Lying liar necessitates new WaPo fact-checker category

The Post debuted a new fact-check category today in an attempt to capture the unprecedented fire-hose volume of repeat lies coming out of Trump’s lie-hole. They call it the “Bottomless Pinocchio” category:

Trump’s willingness to constantly repeat false claims has posed a unique challenge to fact-checkers. Most politicians quickly drop a Four-Pinocchio claim, either out of a duty to be accurate or concern that spreading false information could be politically damaging.

Not Trump. The president keeps going long after the facts are clear, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to replace the truth with his own, far more favorable, version of it. He is not merely making gaffes or misstating things, he is purposely injecting false information into the national conversation.

To accurately reflect this phenomenon, The Washington Post Fact Checker is introducing a new category — the Bottomless Pinocchio. That dubious distinction will be awarded to politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they are, in effect, engaging in campaigns of disinformation.

To qualify as a Bottomless Pinocchio, the lie must have been repeated at least 20 times since receiving a 3- or 4-Pinocchio rating from The Post. Glenn Kessler, WaPo’s chief fact-checker, says 14 of Trump’s lies already qualify.

The failure of the mainstream press to adjust the way it covers presidencies in the wake of the election of a pathologically lying stooge of a foreign autocrat has been nothing short of calamitous, IMO. The Bottomless Pinocchio isn’t a serious enough change, but it’s a start since it at least acknowledges the unprecedented nature of this maladministration and its liar-in-chief.



“This is the biggest scandal in the history of the American presidency…”

Sometimes I get so bogged down in the minutiae of the Trump-Russia investigation that I lose sight of the scandal’s scope. This Twitter thread by David Rothkopf puts it in perspective. It’s long, but that’s because the list of misdeeds is so extensive, and reading a brief reference to each one is instructive and devastating:

So we know this, Russian government representatives reached out to the Trump campaign in 2015 and undertook multiple initiatives and had multiple points and series of contacts with Team Trump for the next couple years.

It’s not just the Trump Tower meeting. It’s not just the interactions with Wikileaks. It’s not just the Russian ties to Cambridge Analytica. It’s not just Konstantin Kiliminik, a Russian agent working hand in hand with campaign chair Paul Manafort.

It’s not just the ties between Flynn and the Russians. it’s not just the links between the Russians and Eric Prince through the meeting in the Seychelles and beyond that. It’s not just the ties of Wilbur Ross. It’s not just the Trump Organization dealings with Russia.

It’s not just Jared Kushner’s dealings with Russia. It’s not just Kushner and Flynn’s dealing with Kislyak during the campaign. It’s not just the candidate Trump asking for Russian help. It’s not just the GRU hacking for which indictments have already taken place.

We can go on. But let’s not stop before we discuss the many benefits the Russians delivered to Trump via hacking, the dumping of files, the manipulation of social media and other avenues…all to support Trump over Clinton. Nor should we fail to discuss the benefits Trump…

…offered the Russians since he gained power. There was his covering up their hacking and his efforts to slow investigations of it. There was his denying the conclusions of the intelligence community about the Russians. There were the talks between Flynn and the Russians…

…about waiving sanctions. There were the meetings with Trump when he was president when he handed over classified information to the Russians. There were whatever promises or concessions were made in Helsinki. There was a pattern of placating the Russians or…

…failing to enforce sanctions for months and months. In other words, there was plenty of quid and plenty of quo ($50 million penthouse apartments and the promise of big deals or financing benefits aside).

From the outreach to Cohen to just the first mos of the admin we can count more than a dozen separate avenues of connection at the highest level. In any normal campaign or administration, just one would set off alarm bells and have the president calling the FBI into action.

But instead, in addition to those dozen avenues, the offers that were explicitly or tacitly accepted, benefits to both sides & the overt betrayal of the U.S. to advance the political or economic interests of Trump and those close to him, we have the president obstructing justice.

Actively obstructing. Threatening to fire all those getting closer to the truth. Lying and lying and lying some more and urging staff to lie and witness tampering and so on.

This is not a case of possible collusion. This is sweeping, multi-layered, high level conspiracy led by Vladimir Putin and the Russian intelligence community and involving the active cooperation and complicity of a man who was a candidate for president and then president…

…as well as his entire team. This is the biggest scandal in the history of the American presidency and there is not another that is close to it. But that is not all we know.

The DoJ believes the president of the United States directed the commission of campaign finance felonies as a candidate. The NYT produced extensive and compelling evidence of serial tax fraud by the Trump family. The state of NY is investigate fraud in their charities.

The House will soon begin investigation of Trump money laundering. A case involving his violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause is under way. In other words, as massive as the Russia scandal is, it might not be the biggest Trump scandal.

It might not even be the scandal that brings Trump down. But what we know is that all of these or any of these scandals must bring him down. This criminal has no business being the White House. He has no business walking freely among us.

2019 is going to be the worst year of Donald Trump’s life except for all those that will follow it. These cases will be investigated further and then proven. Some may be prosecuted while he is in office. Some may wait until he leaves office.

But someday this is already certain, no senior American public official–not Richard Nixon, not Andrew Johnson–will go down in more disgrace or be more reviled by history than Donald Trump. And that is as it should be.

My only quibble is with Rothkopf’s suggestion that the emoluments and money-laundering aspects of the Trump Omniscandal might eclipse the collusion with a hostile foreign power part. The latter is an unprecedented betrayal, but hell, it’s all unprecedented, and honestly, I don’t care which set of misdeeds brings Trump down.

But here’s what matters: If Trump isn’t brought to justice, the United States of America will cease to exist as a sovereign nation. It’s frightening to face that fact, but face it we must because a criminal gang has seized the executive branch. We and our fellow citizens will either root them out, or we’ll pretend accept that this is just how things are now.

To paraphrase someone else on Twitter: What a time to be alive. It’s like the fall of Rome, but with WiFi.

Open thread.



What could possibly go wrong?

The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott has a piece up today about Team Trump’s plan to respond to the Mueller report. The plan is, there is no plan. Aides know Trump would ignore any strategy they create anyway, so they aren’t bothering with it.

“We would always put together plans with the knowledge that he wouldn’t use them or they’d go off the rails,” one recently departed official told me. “And at this point, with Mueller, they’ve decided they’re not even going to do that.”

“It’s like, ‘Jesus, take the wheel,’” the source added, “but scarier.”

Okay then. There are some pretty salty quotes from Giuliani in the story. Here’s one on Trump drafting responses to Mueller’s questions a while back:

“Answering those questions was a nightmare,” he told me. “It took him about three weeks to do what would normally take two days.”

You don’t say. Here’s Giuliani, pretend lawyer, on trying to control the raging, overgrown toddler who pretends to be president:

Giuliani initially pushed back on the prediction that Trump would take center stage after the report drops. “I don’t think following his lead is the right thing. He’s the client,” he told me. “The more controlled a person is, the more intelligent they are, the more they can make the decision. But he’s just like every other client. He’s not more … you know, controlled than any other client. In fact, he’s a little less.”

Jesus, Rudy — you’re lucky Trump doesn’t read.

Here’s Giuliani on Trump’s busy schedule:

There was the sheer problem of finding time—Giuliani recalled one instance when they were working on the list and Chief of Staff John Kelly broke in to tell Trump about the migrant caravan, which grabbed the president’s attention immediately. And there was the specificity of the questions themselves: “He’s got a great memory,” Giuliani said. “However, basically we were answering questions about 2016, the busiest year of his life. It’s a real job to remember.”

Yeah, gotta drop everything to respond to the national threat posed by [dun-dun-DUN] The Caravan. Something tells me this isn’t the last time we’ll hear excuses for Trump’s failure to remember events that occurred in 2016.

Anyhoo, cool strategy, bro. I’m sure it’ll all work out.

Open thread!



NC-09 Update

People will be going to jail for this:

Reminder, as Flynn will testify, the first enthusiastic and accurate flipper can get a damn good deal.

Open thread.



Trump flips on…Trump

As we now know, Michael Cohen lied when he testified before Congress that the Trump Tower Moscow project ended in January 2016. Via The Post:

In a nine-page filing, prosecutors laid out a litany of lies that Cohen admitted he told to congressional lawmakers about the Moscow project — an attempt, Cohen said, to minimize links between the proposed development and Trump as his presidential bid was taking off.

Cohen falsely said efforts to build a Trump-branded tower in Moscow ended in January 2016, when in fact discussions continued through that year, the filing said. Among the people Cohen briefed on the status of the project was Trump himself, on more than three occasions, according to the document.

Cohen now says he pursued the Moscow project until the summer of 2016 and interacted with Putin’s office during that period. Here’s Trump’s response to this development from a short while ago:

Shorter Spanky: “I didn’t do it, but even if I did, it wasn’t wrong.”

I think the paper Trump is referring to in that clip — the document he says proves the deal was out in the open — is the proposal Cohen attached as an exhibit in his appearance before Congress, during which he now admits he lied. So, Trump is trying to create a smokescreen here. Nobody is saying the deal was 100% secret all along; the point is, Trump and Cohen lied about when the project ended.

Why? Because they’re guilty as fuck. A lot of “collusiony” things happened during the late spring and summer of 2016, including Cohen’s discussions with Putin’s assistant about setting up a meeting between Putin and Trump after the RNC, the pro-Russia change to the GOP platform (the sole change the Trump people requested at the RNC), the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians offering dirt, the conversations between Stone, Corsi, an intermediary and Assange, etc.

It looks damning because it IS damning. They’re lying because they’re guilty. And Cohen’s plea document hints that there’s plenty of evidence to corroborate his contacts with the Putin regime and Trump principals that summer.

Trump’s statement above was made as he was boarding Marine One on his way to the G20 summit in Argentina. He was originally scheduled to meet Putin there, but moments ago, Trump claimed he cancelled that meeting to protest Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships:

Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin. I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!

What a load of horse shit — he doesn’t care about the Ukrainian ships any more than he cares about the Saudis’ murder of a US-based journalist who worked for The Post. Trump is afraid of being exposed.

This is a surreal shit-show, friends, and I am so ready for the fucking credits to roll.



No Water Wings in Sight (Open Thread)

Trump acting out on Twitter like an unhinged 12-year-old whose parents have banned Fortnite is no longer noteworthy. But this morning, he seems especially out in the deep end sans a pool noodle, so I thought I’d mention it. Some of his output is standard fare in this degraded era, such as this foam-flecked whine about the Mueller investigation:

While the disgusting Fake News is doing everything within their power not to report it that way, at least 3 major players are intimating that the Angry Mueller Gang of Dems is viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts & they will get relief. This is our Joseph McCarthy Era!

The “3 major players” would be Stone, Corsi and Manafort, I guess? Good Lord, how sweet it would be to see that trio shuffling off to prison in leg irons. I’ve never been a big believer is Mueller Claus, but Trump’s obvious desperation has me listening for reindeer hooves on the rooftop!

Trump also retweeted this image from one of the crackpot sycophants who god-bless his every crazed tweet:

Of course, it’s normal in our degraded age for the president to demand prosecution of his political enemies like a tinpot dictator. But Rod Rosenstein — current Republican Deputy AG of the USA appointed by the Trump admin and an alum (along with Brett Kavanaugh) of the Starr investigation is depicted in that cell. That seems to cross a new line, I dunno.

I have no idea what’s happening with the Mueller investigation, but knowledgeable folks who follow it closely seem to think something’s about to explode. And Twitler, perhaps through insights gleaned via the partisan hack he (illegally) passed over Rosenstein to set in supervision of Mueller, seems to think so too.

Open thread!



John Kelly’s Excellent Adventure at the Hague

These STASI motherfuckers need to go to jail:

The White House late Tuesday signed a memo allowing troops stationed at the border to engage in some law enforcement roles and use lethal force, if necessary — a move that legal experts have cautioned may run afoul of the Posse Comitatus Act.

The new “Cabinet order” was signed by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, not President Donald Trump. It allows “Department of Defense military personnel” to “perform those military protective activities that the Secretary of Defense determines are reasonably necessary” to protect border agents, including “a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd control, temporary detention. and cursory search.”

There are approximately 5,900 active-duty troops and 2,100 National Guard forces deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Some of those activities, including crowd control and detention, may run into potential conflict with the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act. If crossed, the erosion of the act’s limitations could represent a fundamental shift in the way the U.S. military is used, legal experts said.

WTF is a cabinet order for military force?