The judge’s wife screamed “let the man go free”

The New York Times’ crush on Jared Kushner has taken a strange turn. On Friday night, after the Washington Post broke the story of Kushner’s request for a back channel with Moscow, the Times ran a piece assuring everyone that the back channel was “to discuss strategy in Syria and other policy issues, according to three people with knowledge of the discussion.” Although it wasn’t obvious, the subtext of the whole article was “calm down everyone, it was for legitimate purposes.” It turns out the same people who fed this load of shit to the Times also tried to feed it to the Post but the Post wouldn’t run it unless the three people agreed to be described as Kushner surrogates.

Just now, the Times ran this ridiculous tongue bath of Kusher (via):

His preppy aesthetic, sotto voce style and preference for backstage maneuvering seemingly set him apart from his father-in-law — but the similarities outweigh the differences. Both men were reared in the freewheeling, ruthless world of real estate, and both possess an unshakable self-assurance that is both their greatest attribute and their direst vulnerability.

Mr. Kushner’s reported feeler to the Russians even as President Barack Obama remained in charge of American foreign policy was a trademark move by someone with a deep confidence in his own abilities that critics say borders on conceit, people close to him said. And it echoes his history of sailing forth into unknown territory, including buying a newspaper at age 25 and developing a data-analytics program that he has said helped deliver the presidency to his father-in-law.

He is intensely proud of his accomplishments in the private sector and has repeatedly suggested his tenure in Washington will hurt, not help, his brand and bottom line.

What is this about? Presumably it’s about cultivating Kushner and his people as surrogate, but, seriously…what the fuck? Other self-respecting papers don’t give their hand-jobs this publicly.

Open Thread

I was flipping a coin between this and the Kevin Bacon Animal House All is Well memes.

Open thread

Long Read: No Tears for Mr. Comey

(Jeff Danziger’s website)

Like you hadn’t sold it no later than the Great Clenis Hunt, you sanctimonious fraud. Politico on “The Political Isolation of Jim Comey“:

Jim Comey learned Tuesday afternoon the difference between being independent and being out on a limb. After years of charting his own course in a city that prides itself on loyalty, after marching to the beat of his own drum in a political culture that’s increasingly divided into teams, after making up the rules as he went along in a Justice Department that prides itself on precedent and tradition, the FBI director found this week that he had run out of time and run out of friends.

In becoming just the second FBI director ever to be removed from office for cause—with more than six years remaining on his 10-year term—Comey leaves just as ignominiously as William Sessions did when he was fired by the newly arrived President Bill Clinton in 1993. Sessions, under fire due to scandals involving his wife and improper spending, had stubbornly refused to leave until Clinton summarily threw him out of the Hoover Building.

Yet Comey leaves behind an even more troubling legacy: The FBI soon forgot the Sessions years, but it will be years before its public reputation recovers from the intense political firestorm that Comey plunged it into last summer with a fateful news conference. On July 5, 2016, Comey announced the FBI would not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for using a personal email server to conduct the government’s business as secretary of state—and then, after making that already unprecedented announcement, proceeded to expound at length upon his own interpretation of the law and Clinton’s mind-set. It was a moment that left jaws wide open across the street at Main Justice, as well as up Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House—the original sin that begat months of turmoil and ultimately cost Comey the job he’d long dreamed of having.

Comey’s firing deservedly shocked official Washington on Tuesday afternoon, but to those who know the bureau well, the idea of Jim Comey and Donald Trump coexisting in Washington has never made much sense—and that was even before recent weeks have made clear the depth and scope of the FBI’s still-widening investigations into Trump’s own campaign and its ties to Russia. It wasn’t all that long ago that Trump was embracing Comey in the East Room of the White House. Two days after his inauguration, Trump greeted his new top cop by joking with observers, “He’s become more famous than me.” In the end, perhaps that will be remembered as Comey’s greatest sin. He forgot the most important lesson of his post: In Washington, FBI directors should be like children—seen but not heard…

Comey has spent his career in Washington biting the hand that feeds him—and for years, that was precisely what led his career to advance…

The STELLAR WIND showdown turned into the Jim Comey Creation Myth, the moment that made clear that he was as independent as they came and would pursue investigations and enforce justice without fear or favor. Whereas deputy attorneys general like Comey come and go nearly routinely and anonymously, that showdown—and Comey’s decision to kiss and tell—made him a person of stature and standing who could lead the nation’s most famous and storied law enforcement agency. It also set up a pattern of behavior that would ultimately lead to his downfall—always willing to speak out, controversial and unafraid of attempts to silence him. As one senior official told me, “He’s rapturous of his own righteousness.”

It was that righteousness, too, that led Barack Obama to appoint Comey to head the FBI in 2013, in part because his iconoclastic reputation ensured Republicans could be assured of his independence—the fact that he’d donated to Mitt Romney and to John McCain didn’t hurt, either. And in his early days as director, Comey worked hard to separate the bureau from the ugliest moments of its history…

“Jim Comey always has to be positioned oppositional to those in power,” one former Justice Department official told me. “He’s done huge, lasting damage to the FBI brand, but he’s done good protection of Brand Comey.”…

An important thing this evening

Get mad, stay mad and then be effective in doing something. Balloon Juice is adopting at least one district and perhaps more. We will be effectively active and angry.

UPDATE I will set up a CA-49 Nominee fund tonight for Act Blue

For the Record, First Draft of History: Sidebar to Adam’s Post

The Maskirovka Slips XIV: Susan Rice is Once Again Public Enemy #1

Bloomberg‘s Eli Lake, who seems to have become the Congressman Nunes whisperer, reports:

White House lawyers last month discovered that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”

The National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was conducting the review, according to two U.S. officials who spoke with Bloomberg View on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel’s office, who reviewed more of Rice’s requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy.

…The standard for senior officials to learn the names of U.S. persons incidentally collected is that it must have some foreign intelligence value, a standard that can apply to almost anything. This suggests Rice’s unmasking requests were likely within the law.

Here’s an important question: who ordered Cohen-Watnick, a junior DIA analyst promoted to a senior directorship on the National Security Staff by former National Security Advisor LTG Flynn way above his level of expertise and experience, to conduct this review? Was it LTG Flynn before he was fired on 13 February 2017? Was it the now reassigned KT McFarland? Was it someone above Cohen-Watnick in the Administration chain of command? This is an important question that needs to be answered! Unless Cohen-Watnick had a need to know this – as in was ordered to conduct such a review – as part of his duties as the NSC’s Senior Director for Intelligence Policy, his accessing of this material is a violation of classification and compartmentalization protocols. As is his dissemination of such information.

Bradley Moss, an attorney specializing in cases regarding security clearances and national security, has made a most prescient observation and prediction:

Noah Rothman has made an important discovery and is reporting that:

Rothman is referring to this Medium post from yesterday, 2 APR 2017, by Mike Cernovich. It now appears that Cernovich’s claims that he, at least, and other prominent members of the alt-right have ongoing contacts with senior White House/Administration officials. What Rothman is reporting, that, at least, Cernovich’s ties are accurate, this is important news. It shows that the white nationalist/white supremacist/neo-NAZI community that goes by the more respectable name the alt-right actually has a solid connection to the new Administration. This is disturbing on many levels. Not least is where the flow of information went: Cernovich, Zero Hedge, InfoWars, Gateway Pundit.

What is even more interesting is that someone seems to have fed the info to Fox and Friends, which is where the President saw it:

Back to Susan Hennessy a former attorney in the US Intelligence Community and now a Senior Fellow at Brookings:

A lot of unpleasant material is going to be thrown at a lot of walls today in very short order.

Stay frosty!

Well This is Awkward…