Russiagate Open Thread: Meanwhile, What News of the Prince of Amway?

Erik Prince, brother of Betsy deVos, founder of Blackwater (now Academi), testified before the US House of Representatives Select Committe on Intelligence on November 30th. A 105-page transcript of his testimony has been released, and is providing much fodder for specialists…


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Quid Pro Quo

This seems significant (via NPR):

2016 RNC Delegate: Trump Directed Change To Party Platform On Ukraine Support

President Trump may have been involved with a change to the Republican Party campaign platform last year that watered down support for U.S. assistance to Ukraine, according to new information from someone who was involved.

Diana Denman, a Republican delegate who supported arming U.S. allies in Ukraine, has told people that Trump aide J.D. Gordon said at the Republican Convention in 2016 that Trump directed him to support weakening that position in the official platform.

Recall that this was the only proposed platform policy the Trump people saw fit to adjust. After running a “populist” campaign that was credited by the more gullible members of the Beltway media herd for rejecting GOP orthodoxy and goring Republican sacred cows left and right, when the so-called insurgents seized control, the sole alteration they requested just coincidentally was designed to make Putin’s life easier.

Trump’s flunky Gordon now denies he told Denman that the platform change request came from Trump. Uh huh.

I’ve always thought this platform change smelled fishier than a scratch-and-dent Chicken of the Sea warehouse.

Dotard-Line Report

Boy, do I feel like a dummy for falling for that fake news on Tillerson yesterday! Velveeta Voldemort set us straight on Instagram a short while ago:

Sorry I led y’all astray. In retrospect it’s obvious: Tillerson was Putin’s hire. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that Twitler’s first post-Flynnpocalypse tweet reassured the entire world [wink-wink] that Tillerson is staying on, huh?

Tangentially related bonus tweet:

Not gonna happen, but I like the visual. Open thread!

[Title shamelessly stolen from valued commenter MJS]

Treason’s Greetings!

Prepare to tap the strategic popcorn reserves and open the sluice gates at the champagne reservoir, friends! Via valued commenter Yarrow in the thread downstairs, this video clip is the most tick-tockiest of motherfuckers:

In case you can’t listen, a hastily transcribed excerpt:

“He [Flynn] has promised full cooperation to the Mueller team. He is prepared to testify, according to a confidant, against President Trump, against members of the Trump family and against others in the White House. He is prepared to testify that President Trump, as a candidate, Donald Trump, ordered him and directed him to make contacts with the Russians, which contradicts all that Donald Trump has said at this point.

“Flynn made the decision to cooperate only in the last 24 hours; he is distraught about the decision but feels he’s doing the right thing for his country. He as facing huge legal bills of more than a million dollars and that finally, he had to do this for that reason. He expects to put his house on the market; he is facing serious financial problems.”

Anchors on the cable networks are openly speculating about “the survival of the Trump presidency.” Too soon to count chickens. Call your senators about the goddamned tax bill.

But stop and savor this today, dear jackals, wherever you are. We’ve been on a steady diet of shit sandwiches for more than a year now. Popcorn and champers all around.

Once more to the phones, dear friends… (plus, Flynndicted!)

Republicans are having a hard time coalescing around a version of their “tax reform” abomination. They all know it’s a terrible bill that privileges donors over citizens, but the immorality of that isn’t the snag. They’re trying to hit on a palatable balance between deficit hypocrisy and donor service.

Odds are they will succeed — they’re amoral pricks, after all. But massive push-back has stymied their evil plans before. Make your voice heard to try to stop this steaming pile of shit bill:

U.S.Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

I’ve generally had better luck reaching a person by calling my senators’ local offices. You can find your senators’ in-state contact information here. Email and fax them too!

If you prefer text, here’s an option:

Text “RESIST” to 50409

Resistbot will walk you through the steps of sending a message to your senator. They will ask for your address and email. I gave them mine quite some time ago and haven’t been bombarded with spam (any more than usual, anyway).

BREAKING NEWS — FLYNNDICTMENT: Got a CNN alert a few minutes ago about Mueller charging Mike “Lock Her Up” Flynn with “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI regarding conversations with Russia’s ambassador. If I’m Hillary Clinton, I’m making my morning OJ a mimosa after reading that.

Flynn is due in court this morning. Before the “we hardly knew him” spin starts, let’s recall that Flynn was 1) a serious contender for Trump’s VP spot, 2) appointed to the highly sensitive National Security Adviser position by Trump, and 3) kept in Trump’s inner circle after acting AG Sally Yates warned the Trump people that Flynn was compromised.

What does this charge mean in the context of last week’s speculation about Flynn flipping and cooperating with Mueller? I’m not a lawyer, but from what we know of Flynn’s conduct, this charge seems more like a love tap than a hammer swing.

My guess is Flynn has flipped to keep his deranged son out of prison and agreed to plead guilty to this lesser charge and cooperate with the investigation, like George Papadopoulos before him (relative scale — whale : guppy).

Anyhoo, post your meatiest theories in comments — but only after you eat your vegetables / call your senators! :)

Here, Rex! Here, Boy!

According to multiple sources, the guy who put the “SOS” in “Secretary of State,” Rex Tillerson, is getting shit-canned shortly. He’ll be replaced by Trump toady Mike Pompeo, currently heading the CIA. Ambulatory Adam’s Apple Tom Cotton will take over Spook Central.

This isn’t too surprising; Rexxon did call Trump “a fucking moron,” and from what I gather, the only relevant expertise Tillerson possessed for the job was knowing how to get around the sanctions that are crimping Vladimir Putin’s oil profits.

With the section of the State Department that oversees sanctions now dismantled, who needs Rexxon anyway? Time to shuffle the ass-kissers around.

But watching these clowns usher Tillerson out the door might yield some entertainment value. Por ejemplo:

Asked during a Thursday morning meeting with the crown prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, whether he wants Tillerson to remain as secretary of state, Trump told reporters, “He’s here. Rex is here.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, “As the president just said, ‘Rex is here.’ There are no personnel announcements at this time. Secretary Tillerson continues to lead the State Department and the entire cabinet is focused on completing this incredibly successful first year of President Trump’s administration.”

“Rex is here!” Lolz! I hope that shitbag Tillerson feels every ounce of the humiliation in that. Moreover, let’s hope the other plutocrats in Trump’s orbit see this as an “It Could Happen to You” after-school special.

The cries of distress from career personnel at the State Department received a fair amount of attention recently. Pompeo won’t fix anything, of course; weakening U.S. influence abroad is a core part of the TrumPutin agenda.

But they can blame it all on Rex now. And Trump will rest easier — he doesn’t need a loyalty oath from fawning sycophant Mike Pompeo, who has already demonstrated a willingness to distort CIA intelligence to protect Trump.

Open thread!

This Morning’s Assault on the First Amendment

This morning, Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos from Jayda Fransen, a leader of the far-right “Britain First” movement. One of the videos appears to be an ISIS snuff film; it purportedly shows a mob pushing a boy off a roof and beating him to death. Another shows a bearded man destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary. The third shows a man identified as a “Muslim migrant” bullying a “Dutch boy on crutches.”

This is straight-up hate-mongering from Trump, meant to foment hostility and hatred toward Muslims in America. The man who murdered MP Jo Cox in the run-up to the Brexit vote shouted “Britain First” before stabbing Cox to death. According to The Guardian, Fransen was found guilty of harassment earlier this month for abusing a Muslim woman wearing a hijab.

Is Trump throwing bloody chunks of red meat to his base to keep their attention off the plutocrat wish list masquerading as a tax bill? Maybe. But a U.S. president using his platform to gin up religious-based hate and bigotry is important nonetheless. Then there’s this:

It was in response to this tweet by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in which she reacts to the news that CNN won’t be attending the White House Christmas party:

Cast your mind back to a simpler time and recall how Jake Tapper, then with ABC, reacted to Obama admin press secretary Robert Gibbs’ suggestion that Fox News isn’t a real news organization. Media hack Steve Krakaur reacted as follows:

It is almost incomprehensible that an administration would put themselves out on a limb so much that they would diminish the livelihood of, as Tapper notes, “thousands of individuals who work” at Fox News in some capacity. The White House is irked by a few dozen people at most – the opinion hosts, the execs, maybe a few anchors. That’s enough to throw the entire organization under the bus?

This is a dangerous path being taken by the White House – one that is wrong, and raises serious questions about their motive here. There are not undercutting Fox News and their viewers, they are undercutting their own credibility on this issue. Expect Tapper’s line of questioning to be just the beginning of the backlash, albeit delayed, at this press intimidation tactic.

Think we’ll get anything resembling that level of outrage now that a U.S. president and his press secretary are openly trying to delegitimize every news organization that doesn’t kiss Trump’s ass? Trump also used the news of Matt Lauer’s firing to take a shot at other media companies:

All news organizations should boycott the White House Christmas party now if they’ve got a shred of dignity left. Let the Fox News and Breitbart toadies have it all to themselves.

Some folks are saying this latest assault on the media is a distraction from upcoming Trump-Russia news. I hope devastating indictments are on the way. But regardless, it’s not a distraction to focus on an assault on the First Amendment.

I’m calling my senators about the shitty fucking tax bill. And net neutrality. But I’m watching the attempted destruction of the First Amendment by the bigoted demagogue in the White House too. We’re going to have to learn to walk, chew gum, traverse a tight rope over boiling cauldrons of acid, juggle chainsaws and keep our eyes on the ball — all at the same time.