Breaking News: We Are In Uncharted Territory

Yesterday I wrote this:

While I cannot prove it, it is logical to reason that this information was provided to the McClatchy reporters so that it would be reported before the inauguration on Friday. By getting the information out now, the purpose of the reporting is to make it much more difficult for the incoming Administration to shut this investigation down or to interfere in how it is conducted.

For good, bad, or otherwise this is not going away. And the President-elect and his team seem unwilling to even try to provide reasonable explanations to knock the suspicions back. The longer this drags out the worse it will be. For all of us.

The New York Times has now reported:

WASHINGTON — American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said.

The continuing counterintelligence investigation means that Mr. Trump will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him. As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts.

And:

The counterintelligence investigation centers at least in part on the business dealings that some of the president-elect’s past and present advisers have had with Russia. Mr. Manafort has done business in Ukraine and Russia. Some of his contacts there were under surveillance by the National Security Agency for suspected links to Russia’s Federal Security Service, one of the officials said.

Mr. Manafort is among at least three Trump campaign advisers whose possible links to Russia are under scrutiny. Two others are Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the campaign, and Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative.

And (emphasis added by me):

The decision to open the investigations was not based on a dossier of salacious, uncorroborated allegations that were compiled by a former British spy working for a Washington research firm. The F.B.I. is also examining the allegations in that dossier, and a summary of its contents was provided to Mr. Trump earlier this month.

Representatives of the agencies involved declined to comment. Of the half-dozen current and former officials who confirmed the existence of the investigations, some said they were providing information because they feared the new administration would obstruct their efforts. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the cases.

As Ambassador (ret) McFaul stated:

The New York Times’ reporting now confirms not just yesterday’s reporting by McClatchy, but also some of Heat Street‘s reporting on this from last November.

As I’ve written several times: we are off the looking glass and through the map. We have never had a President sworn into office when he and his team are facing two investigations. One from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the other a counter-intelligence investigation conducted by the US Intelligence Community. It also gives credence to Congressman Elijah Cummings’, the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, statements yesterday.

 



Open Thread: Always Be Grifting, Donnie!

The spin — “Surprisingly, Trump inauguration shapes up to be a relatively low-key affair“:

President Obama’s first inaugural festivities stretched over five days. Donald Trump is spending barely three on his.

Bill Clinton hit 14 official balls on the day he was sworn in. Trump plans appearances at three.

And while other presidents have staged parades that lasted more than four hours, Trump’s trip down Pennsylvania Avenue is expected to clock in at 90 minutes — making it among the shortest on record.

In a word, the 45th president’s inaugural activities will be “workmanlike,” said Boris Epshteyn, communications director for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, a pop-up staff of about 350 people scrambling to put together the proceedings from the second floor of a nondescript government building just south of the Mall.

The notion of a relatively low-key inaugural bereft of many ­A-list entertainers may come as a surprise, given the president-elect’s flair for showmanship and his credentials as a reality TV star. Epshteyn said that Trump settled on a less flashy approach, however, including keeping the ticket prices for the inaugural balls at $50 apiece so that ­working-class Americans who helped fuel Trump’s victory can take part…

The old man wants to get home in time for his Matlock Apprentice reruns. Also, there’s that whole “can’t get any entertainers, or sell many tickets” problem.

But it’s not that he doesn’t have the funds! McClatcheyDC, “Big money names behind Trump inaugural start to come out despite his secrecy plan“:

Donald Trump is trying to keep the names of the people and companies donating millions of dollars to his inauguration festivities this week a secret — a break from his Republican and Democratic predecessors in the White House.

At least the last three presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all disclosed names of donors before they were sworn into office .

A federal law passed when Bush was in office required presidents to reveal names of contributors, but only 90 days following the inauguration.

Some names have been leaked out or been released by the donors themselves. Chevron gave $500,000 and will sponsor additional events and Boeing pledged $1 million, according to the companies. AT&T and JPMorgan Chase also donated, according to the companies. Other corporate donors include those who donated to Obama’s inauguration or had declined to contribute to the Republican National Convention last summer, including UPS, Bank of America and Deloitte, according to the New York Times.

“It is all about access and influence,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the nonpartisan public advocacy group Public Citizen. “Donations come in very large amounts and from those who almost always want something from the new administration.”…

John Wonderlich, executive director for the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for more openness in government, called Trump one of the most secretive candidates in modern history. “This trend is continuing through the pre-presidency and likely the presidency,” he said.

Trump is expected to raise more than $90 million — a record amount — from people and corporations to pay for days of activities, including receptions, balls and the parade surrounding the 58th inauguration celebration. Taxpayers will spend millions more on the official swearing-in ceremony, security, construction and cleanup…

Am I the only one who suspects some large portion of these ‘donations’ will go straight into Trump’s pockets, while the usual party preps get skimped?



Wayne Barrett, July 11, 1945 – January 19, 2017: Rest in Peace

Wayne Barrett, the long time reporter for the Village Voice and one of the first biographers of the President-elect has died at the age of 71. Barrett had been in ill health throughout the 2016 election season, but continued reporting and providing analysis for as long as he was able to.

From his obituary at the NY Times:

Wayne Barrett, the muckraking Village Voice columnist who carved out a four-decade career taking on developers, landlords and politicians, among them Donald J. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 71.

His wife, Fran Barrett, said the cause was complications of lung cancer and interstitial lung disease.

A 1992 book, “Trump: The Deals and the Downfall,” was, as Mr. Barrett acknowledged, a flop at first. Thanks to his subject’s improbable political ascent 25 years later, it was successfully republished and expanded in 2016 as “Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention.”

Mr. Barrett’s voluminous background files from the Trump biography, and his professional courtesy, made his Brooklyn home a mecca for investigative reporters during the recent presidential campaign.

“There may be no journalist in the nation who knows more about Trump than Barrett,” Jennifer Gonnerman wrote in The New Yorker just after the election.

“He took Trump seriously long before anyone else did,” Mr. O’Brien, who is now executive editor of Bloomberg View, said, “and most of the work that followed Wayne’s was built upon his insights.”

Here’s a link to his Twitter feed, which includes links to much of his election year analysis of the President-elect.



Samantha Bee Vs. SpokesCobra

Cobra never had a chance. Open thread.



Open Thread: Palin Wept


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All of them, Katie!

Yeah, I think Sam Bee is right — the President-Asterisk can’t read, at least not with any fluency. And he’s too spoilt to put in the effort to overcome his deficits.

(I always suspected Dubya was an unacknowledged dyslexic / ADD sufferer, but at least his parents had taught him to fake an interest. Sometimes. “All right, you’ve covered your ass… “)
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Open Thread: Prepping for the Women’s March

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
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Advice for the locals, from the Washington Post:

Thousands of people are expected to be in the region Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington, an event that could draw larger crowds than Inauguration Day itself, and present travel challenges for participants and residents.

Drivers will encounter day-long— and rolling— road closures near the Mall and public transit users should expect long waits at Metro stations and crowding on platforms and trains…

Metro announced Wednesday that trains will start running at 5 a.m. and up to two dozen trains will be added to accommodate the crowds. (The transit agency had originally said it would run regular Saturday service, which meant stations opening at 7 a.m.)

Demonstrators will gather for a rally at 3rd Street and Independence Avenue on the morning after the transfer of power to president-elect Donald Trump. The crowds will then march along the National Mall to The Ellipse, near the Washington Monument. Thousands of people are expected at the event, which organizers say is not a protest but a way to “promote women’s equality and defend other marginalized groups.”

The location: The stage will be on 3rd Street and Independence Avenue by the National Museum of the American Indian.

The program:
8 a.m.— activities start with images and video on display.
9 a.m. — pre-rally with speakers, music and public service announcements.
10 a.m. — the official rally starts, featuring celebrities including Katy Perry, Cher, America Ferrera and Uzo Aduba
1 p.m. — participants start marching toward The Ellipse where the program will end.

The March route: The group will begin to walk from the gathering location around 1 p.m. and march west on Independence Avenue SW, from 3rd Street SW, to 14th Street SW; then will turn north on 14th Street SW to Constitution Avenue NW; and will march west on Constitution Avenue NW to 17th Street NW, near the Ellipse and Washington Monument, where the events will come an end…

More information on parking, public transit, bike routes, and a list of banned items at the link.

Anybody who takes photos they want to share — either in DC, or at the Sister Marches — send them to me or TaMara and we’ll put them on the front page.

ETA, by request
: Here’s Adam Silverman’s post on ‘Peaceful Assembly and Personal Security‘.



Make It Stop! (Open Thread)

My dogs hate ice cream trucks. They cannot abide the tinkling, high-pitched songs played over the loudspeakers. As pups, they used to howl, but now they just frown. (Sometimes we howl when the ice cream truck is near to try to get the dogs to join in, but it never works.)

Daisy Mayhem, pictured above, was never a patient creature. But now that she’s becoming a grizzled old dog, she has a very short fuse. Yesterday evening, I thought she was going to fling herself over the fence, find that truck and sink her fangs into its tape deck (I imagine it is an old, shitty tape deck to match the old, shitty vehicle).

Anyhoo, I recognize that look in her eyes. I’ve seen it in the mirror. Make. It. Stop.

Captain Obvious observation: there’s much hypocritical conservative butt-hurt across the land over insinuations that Trump isn’t legitimate, isn’t a good person or that his upcoming Ultimate Ego Gratification Event (UEGE) should be boycotted. Even 1970s crooner Tony Orlando got in on the act!

I’m afraid the SS “Embarrassing to the World” sailed 11/9, Mr. Orlando, so tie a yellow ribbon ’round your big fat yap. Orlando is performing at one of the inaugural balls sans backup singers, so there will be no opportunity for Der Gropenfuhrer to be found fumbling at the crack of Dawn (yes, I went there…sorry).

WaPo has an article up about the blow-back groups and individuals are getting for attending the UEGE — including the Girl Scouts. From quotes in that piece and exchanges I’ve seen elsewhere, it seems the reaction of non-Trump supporters to the UEGE falls into at least two categories: those who view participation as validation of the “peaceful transfer of power” and those who see it as normalizing Trump.

Personally, I see it as the latter, and I wish each and every Democrat and/or person who values decency and American self-determination would decline to participate in or watch the proceedings. But I’m not going to harsh on people who feel obligated to attend, such as the Clintons. Sitting through that travesty will be hell enough.

While reading the article, I was struck by the comment of a talk radio host and parent who objected to an email sent by his kid’s teacher, in which the teacher conveyed his decision to allow the class to watch the swearing-in on TV but not the speech:

Radio host Steve Gruber took issue with the email, telling the Free Press, “He has an opportunity to demonstrate that even when you lose, you come together for peaceful transfer of power. The message to 10-year-olds in his class is that the president is a bad man, and that’s not acceptable.”

I remember being angry when a Sarah Palin knock-off on our local school board refused to allow public schools in my district to air an address to the kids from President Obama because socialism! But the thing is, Mr. Gruber, Trump is a bad man. Let’s not pretend otherwise. Hypocrisy sets a bad example for the children.

Open thread!