Russiagate Open Thread: Helpful NYTimes Explainer

The NYTimes has posted an aggregated timeline with links to all their Russiagate stories, in case you want to forward something not-too-overwhelming to your Fox-curious acquaintances.



Late Night Russiagate Open Thread: In Like Flynn

As Miss Manners would’ve told Pompeo, sometimes the rules are there to protect you from your friends. It’s certainly possible to imagine (if you squint hard enough) that a guy from one’s personal circle, well-known for his range of interests, might choose to sit in on the briefings in all innocence. Surely a man with such a storied military career would know what could not be safely repeated outside the room, immune from minor peccadilloes of money or fame…

Senior officials across the government became convinced in January that the incoming national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had become vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

At the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — agencies responsible for keeping American secrets safe from foreign spies — career officials agreed that Mr. Flynn represented an urgent problem.

Yet nearly every day for three weeks, the new C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, sat in the Oval Office and briefed President Trump on the nation’s most sensitive intelligence — with Mr. Flynn listening. Mr. Pompeo has not said whether C.I.A. officials left him in the dark about their views of Mr. Flynn, but one administration official said Mr. Pompeo did not share any concerns about Mr. Flynn with the president.

The episode highlights a remarkable aspect of Mr. Flynn’s tumultuous, 25-day tenure in the White House: He sat atop a national security apparatus that churned ahead despite its own conclusion that he was at risk of being compromised by a hostile foreign power…

The concerns about Mr. Flynn’s vulnerabilities, born from misleading statements he made to White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, are at the heart of a legal and political storm that has engulfed the Trump administration. Many of Mr. Trump’s political problems, including the appointment of a special counsel and the controversy over the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, can ultimately be traced to Mr. Flynn’s stormy tenure.

Time and again, the Trump administration looked the other way in the face of warning signs about Mr. Flynn…

Concerns across the government about Mr. Flynn were so great after Mr. Trump took office that six days after the inauguration, on Jan. 26, the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, warned the White House that Mr. Flynn had been “compromised.”…

White House officials have said they moved deliberately both out of respect for Mr. Flynn and because they were not sure how seriously they should take the concerns. They also said the president believed that Ms. Yates, an Obama administration holdover, had a political agenda. She was fired days later over her refusal to defend in court Mr. Trump’s ban on travel for people from several predominantly Muslim countries.

A warning from Mr. Pompeo might have persuaded the White House to take Ms. Yates’s concerns more seriously. Mr. Pompeo, a former congressman, is a Republican stalwart whom Mr. Trump has described as “brilliant and unrelenting.”…

Speaking of protection from one’s “friends”, is is fair to assume that one reason Pompeo chose not to speak up about Flynn’s presence was that he hoped to avoid a fate like that meddlesome talebearer Sally Yates?



Open Thread: Rising Democratic Star

I don’t want to make this post any longer, but y’all should definitely go read the Jezebel and Chait links, because they are mood-enhancing.



Interesting Read: “The calculus behind Jason Chaffetz’s sudden decision to walk away”

Two reporters from the Deseret News craft an amazing example of what I suppose must be “Mormon nice”, turning never-less-than-postive words and carefully-buffed stories into a portrait of a vicious little self-promoter attempting to slide out of the unexpected spotlight exposing every wart of Grifter King Trump’s nasty court…

Something had flipped after the election, Chaffetz had noticed, an ugly impulse unfurling across America. He had seen anger directed at him before, but nothing like this. He’d been getting death threats, on his voicemail and in his inbox, and in the ensuing weeks it would only get worse.

He had become a target, the face of Republican fecklessness. At his D.C. office, his young staffers fielded calls from all over the country, hundreds a day, demanding he investigate Trump. As chairman of the House Oversight Committee and Government Reform Committee, Chaffetz had risen to national prominence for his aggressive inquiries into missteps by the Obama administration, making him a hero to the “Fox and Friends” crowd.

He’d hammered the Secret Service, demanded documents on the Fast and Furious gun running scandal, and most notably, grilled Hillary Clinton for hours on the deaths of four Americans at a compound in Benghazi, Libya. So why wasn’t he investigating Donald Trump? People asked him this wherever he went, at the airport, at Five Guys when he was standing in line for a burger. Tonight they wanted answers.

He stepped out from behind the curtain.

The crowd erupted in deafening boos, rising to their feet. Chaffetz smiled. He’d seen worse. As a placekicker at BYU in the mid-1980s he’d played before hostile football crowds with Ty Detmer and Jason Buck. “You think this is bad,” he thought to himself. “You’ve never been to Laramie, Wyoming.”

Besides, plainclothes police officers were standing behind the curtain, and others were scattered throughout the crowd. No one here could rattle him, not really. And even if they did, he wouldn’t let them see it. He would keep smiling, no matter what he felt inside.

Clips of the town hall were starting to go viral. For the part of the electorate who felt the Trump administration was a threat to the republic, this was a moment, #Resistance. Here was one of the few people who could bring Trump to heel, who could subpoena his tax records, force him to testify under oath, really anything he wanted, and his constituents were demanding he do it.

“Do your job! Do your job!” they chanted. Chaffetz smiled through his teeth, pleading for the crowd to calm down, but no one was listening.

In the ensuing weeks, Chaffetz insisted the protesters didn’t bother him, but those closest to him began to worry if all the unhinged Facebook posts and death threats were taking a toll. Trey Gowdy, the Republican congressman from South Carolina who Chaffetz considers his best friend, openly wondered if Chaffetz’s ever-ready smile was masking pain.

“Some of the stuff left on his voicemail,” Gowdy said, pausing. “He plays it for me and I’m trying to evaluate, do you take it seriously? What do you do about it?”…
Read more



I said hey, hey hey, what’s going on

What’s happening here?

If he resigns tomorrow, he went from being a powerful committee chair to a lurking presence in the 2020 Utah governor’s race to a schmuck in a week or so.

What is going on here?

The health policy implication is that this would be one less guaranteed Yes vote for whatever healthcare bill that hits the House Floor. Right now, it looks like there is a minimum blocking coalition of the Tuesday Morning Group members without any House Freedom Caucus members needed. One less Yes vote makes holding that blocking coalition together easier as there is a touch more wiggle room and more deals that lose support at the other end of the caucus would need to be made.

But that all might be irrelevant as there is again talk that there will be no vote on Wednesday. Let’s keep calling just to make sure Congress knows what we think.

Finally, assuming Chaffetz does resign, does it make sense to back the Democrat who was gearing up to challenge him in November, 2018 or does it make sense to back McMullin as a more probable anti-Trump vote in the House? Can both be backed? I don’t know.



Monday Evening Open Thread: Congratulations, Mr. Fahrenthold!

… Although the trophy probably doesn’t say “For Excellence in White-Hat Trolling.” May he continue to investigate the myriad weirdness of Donald Trump for as long as the President-Asterisk remains a blot on our national character.

Props also to Marty Baron, former Boston Globe standout, now Fahrenthold’s executive editor at the Washington Post.

Apart from that — and some seders — what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Friday Evening Open Thread: Put Out More (Russian) Flags!

TPM explains:

Two young, progressive activists from DC, Jason Charter and Ryan Clayton with the group Americans Take Action, purchased tickets to the conference, and handed out nearly 1,000 flags to attendees as a prank. After they were thrown out of the conference, they told TPM they wanted to “shed light on an important issue”—namely, the drip of revelations of backchannel communications between the Russian government and the Trump campaign—and allow people to “get a laugh out of their day.”

Charter, 22, told TPM by phone that he and Clayton organized the prank in order to “honor Trump’s relationship with Putin.” He said almost no one at CPAC seemed to realize the flag he handed them bore the horizontal red, white, and blue stripes of the Russian Federation underneath Trump’s name…

Apart from cheering on the pranksters, what’s on the agenda as we prepare to start the weekend?

The President-Asterisk is on it!!!!