Russiagate Open Thread: Young Prince Jared Is Troubled

And well he should be! Gabriel Sherman, at Vanity Fair, says “’Kelly Has Clipped his Wings’: Jared Kushner’s Horizons Are Collapsing within the West Wing”

[I]t wasn’t long ago when Trump handed Kushner a comically broad portfolio that included plans to reinvent government, reform the V.A., end the opioid epidemic, run point on China, and solve Middle East peace. But since his appointment, according to sources, Kelly has tried to shrink Kushner’s responsibilities to focus primarily on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And even that brief appears to be creating tensions between Kushner and Kelly. According to two people close to the White House, Kelly was said to be displeased with the result of Kushner’s trip to Saudi Arabia last month because it took place just days before 32-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrested 11 Saudi royals, including billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The Washington Post reported that Kushner and M.B.S., as the prince is known, stayed up till nearly 4 a.m. “planning strategy,” which left Kelly to deal with the impression that the administration had advance knowledge of the purge and even helped orchestrate it, sources told me. (Asked about this, Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded, in part: “Chief Kelly and Jared had a good laugh about this inquiry as nothing in it is true.”)

Where this all leaves Kushner in Trump’s ever-changing orbit is a topic that’s being discussed by Republicans close to the White House. During Kelly’s review of West Wing operations over the summer, the chief of staff sought to downsize Kushner’s portfolio, two sources said. In the early days of the administration, sometimes with the help of a small cadre of Ivy League whiz kids who staff his Office of American Innovation, Kushner dreamed up scores of business “councils” that would advise the White House. “The councils are gone,” one West Wing official told me. With some of their purview being whittled away, “they seem lost,” the official added…
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Russiagate Excellent Read: Did Wilbur Ross Also Lie… About His Fortune?

(Jeff Danziger via GoComics.com)
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Wilbur Ross seems to have been involved in many embarrassing, potentially criminal enterprises. Yet — continuing the trope that nobody who gets near Donald Trump comes away unwounded — the one revelation that he probably finds most embarrassing is the proprietors of the Forbes 400 list calling him a mere hundred-millionaire, with not even a single billion to his name!

Dan Alexander, Forbes, on “The Case Of Wilbur Ross’ Phantom $2 Billion”:

Fresh off a tour through Thailand, Laos and China, United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr. picked up the phone on a Sunday afternoon in October to discuss something deeply personal: how much money he has. A year earlier, Forbes had listed his net worth at $2.9 billion on The Forbes 400, a number Ross claimed was far too low: He maintained he was closer to $3.7 billion. Now, after examining the financial-disclosure forms he filed after his nomination to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, which showed less than $700 million in assets, Forbes was intent on removing him entirely.

Ross protested, citing trusts for his family that he said he did not have to disclose in federal filings. “You’re apparently not counting those, which are more than $2 billion,” he said. When asked for documentation, the 79-year-old demurred, citing “privacy issues.” Told that Forbes nonetheless planned to remove him from the list for the first time in 13 years, he responded: “As long as you explain that the reason is that assets were put into trust, I’m fine with that.” And when did he make the transfer that allowed him to not disclose over $2 billion? “Between the election and the nomination.”

So began the mystery of Wilbur Ross’ missing $2 billion. And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed. It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004. In addition to just padding his ego, Ross’ machinations helped bolster his standing in a way that translated into business opportunities. And based on our interviews with ten former employees at Ross’ private equity firm, WL Ross & Co., who all confirmed parts of the same story line, his penchant for misleading extended to colleagues and investors, resulting in millions of dollars in fines, tens of millions refunded to backers and numerous lawsuits. Additionally, according to six U.S. senators, Ross failed to initially mention 19 suits in response to a questionnaire during his confirmation process….
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Open Thread: Clueless, All the Way Up the Ladder


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“Taking responsibility is for the little people, daahling!”



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Rooting for Injuries (But Not Describing Them)

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
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Since I am not by nature a nice person, I’ll admit that stories like this make me quietly gleeful. From the Washington Post, “Senate Republicans have tolerated Trump’s controversies. His treatment of Sessions is different”:

Cornyn is not alone in rallying to the defense of Sessions, who, despite sometimes having waged lonely battles as one of the chamber’s most staunch conservatives, still has many friends among Senate Republicans. Most have issued statements of support, and several are making private calls to reassure Sessions that they are behind him.

But the tension over Trump’s treatment of Sessions goes beyond the senators defending a friend.

Unlike any other controversial move that Trump has pondered in his six months as president, Senate Republicans are sending preemptive signals that firing the attorney general or pressuring him to resign would be a terrible move.

Some have warned high-level White House officials that it would look as though Trump were making the move solely to shut down an investigation of his campaign and the White House, now overseen by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, while also making clear that they agree with Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from an investigation of the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia.

Replacing Sessions would be difficult, and the idea of Trump making a recess appointment during the planned four-week break in August is foolhardy. Democrats can indefinitely stall a resolution to fully adjourn the Senate, having already forced minute-long periods during even shorter breaks to prevent Trump from having the authority to make temporary appointments while the Senate is away.

Democrats may have vehemently opposed Sessions’s nomination, but they have no intention of allowing Trump to fire him and name a new attorney general with a recess appointment, and frankly, Republicans do not seem to want to give Trump that power either…

What’s on the agenda, as we start another bound-to-be-beleagured day?

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Speaking of public schadenfreude: Having grown up in the sort of family where interactions tended to start with a challenge and escalate explosively, I’ve spent the past forty years learning that not every dark thought needs to be described exhaustively. Not only does such gleeful venting disturb those who come from less toughened environments, but it’s really quite stressful to keep up the paranoia level that’s essential when you know at a bone-deep level that talking the talk is liable to lead to walking a very unpleasant walk.

This is John Cole’s blog, and it will never be mistaken for an Oberlin drum circle. But rest assured, no matter how inventive your torture scenarios for those public officials who most absolutely deserve them, there is no membership requirement that those scenarios be shared in the comments.

Venting is important, especially in this Trump era, but not everybody here has the same tolerance for violence porn. Wish all the bad cess on Republicans and other miscreants that they deserve, but try to keep in mind that it’s not a competition to see which of us can produce the most disturbing rant.



Friday Evening Russiagate News Dump Open Thread


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So… what’s on tapp at the “Stupid Watergate” White House?…



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Another Battle Begins

(Jeff Danziger’s website)
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As if Lord Smallgloves could tell you what was in “his” budget… Greg Sargent, in the Washington Post, “Even some Republicans balk at Trump’s plan for steep budget cuts”:

While some fiscally conservative lawmakers, particularly in the House, found a lot to praise in Trump’s plan to balance the budget within 10 years, most Republicans flatly rejected the White House proposal. The divide sets up a clash between House conservatives and a growing number of Senate Republicans who would rather work with Democrats on a spending deal than entertain Trump’s deep cuts.

“This is kind of the game,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.). “We know that the president’s budget won’t pass as proposed.”

Instead, Cornyn said he believes conversations are already underway about how Republicans can negotiate with Democrats to avoid across-the-board spending cuts that are scheduled to go into effect in October. Those talks could include broad spending increases for domestic and military programs that break from Trump’s plan for deep cuts in education, housing, research and health care…

Budget experts questioned many of the economic assumptions that the White House put into its plan, saying it was preposterous to claim that massive tax cuts and spending reductions will lead to a surge in economic growth…

“Even some Republicans” plan on a political career that lasts beyond the next election — maybe even one that doesn’t involve people spitting on them in the street. This ain’t a budget proposal, it’s a new chapter in a cultists’ holy book. Or a performance-art script for grifters hoping to massage the plutocrats’ greed glands…



Horrowshow Open Thread: Why the Banksters Love Lord Smallgloves

He’s so frugal! — with his own money, at least.

Even if the strikes were the “entertainment,” they certainly did cost the president something.

The cost of a Tomahawk missile, per the Navy budget for fiscal year 2017, is $1.355 million. Given that the strike used 59 missiles, that comes out to roughly $79.9 million for just the missiles alone.

Ross’s remarks to the conference were just the latest in unusual public remarks from the Commerce secretary on the Syria strike.

Ross was in the secured conference room at Mar-a-Lago where Trump and other administration officials huddled during the strike, though he’s not necessarily charged with national security interests as head of the Commerce Department…

Nah, not the “president”‘s money! He doesn’t even pay taxes, cuz he’s SMART!

You put Ross’ mug up on a storyboard for an evil plutocrat on Saturday Night Live, and the producers would say ‘Too broad’…

Ross, a billionaire financier, is new to government service. In the lunchtime conversation with David Rubenstein, co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, Ross reflected on his first impressions of public service.

“I’ve been heartened,” he said. “I thought the quality of people in the government was not as high as it has turned out to be. There are actually quite a lot of very good, very serious, very intelligent people wanting to do their best. It’s just they’ve been trapped in a fundamentally dysfunctional system.”

The president’s tax cut proposal has been a hot topic among the business community at this year’s conference. Rubenstein asked Ross whether it was realistic to expect a tax plan to pass this year.

“I certainly hope so,” he said. “God knows Congress has debated the issue enough times. It’s really a question of, ‘Is there the willpower to do it?’ If the Republican side can get itself unified, then it will work, even if the Democrats remain as determined as they seem to be to block any kind of progress.”

As if we needed more of an impetus to ‘block any kind of progress’ that would make these fekkers happy.