I’m Setting The Blog To Def-Blog 2: The President Will Be OnFox & Friends

 

Please stay at your stations, off the comms, and await official updates regarding the President’s calling in to Fox’s A Blonde with Two Boobs morning show and it’s aftermath!

 

Open thread.



I Will Be Treated Fairly Or Else: Lesley Stahl Explains The Application Of The Trump Doctrine To The News Media

The President has had a long and largely unpleasant relationship with the news media since he declared his candidacy. As in he’s been unpleasant to the news media. A good chunk of this was set early on with his penning of reporters in at his campaigns and using them as foils, as well as his successful attempts to roll the cable, network, and print news media into treating him “fairly” or receiving an “or else”. He pulled this early and successfully in the primary season with Fox News when he demanded that Megyn Kelly be pulled from her moderator duties. When Fox refused, he scheduled a competing event.

At last night’s Deadline Club awards dinner, Lesley Stahl provided a very detailed explanation of how the President has applied the Trump Doctrine of “I will be treated fairly or else” to the news media. Talking Points Memo has the transcript:

“At one point he started to attack the press. And it’s just me and my boss and him, in— He has a huge office. And he’s attacking the press. And there were no cameras. There was nothing going on, and I said, ‘You know, that is getting tired. Why are you doing this? You’re doing it over and over, and it’s boring, and it’s time to end that. You’ve won the nomination (sic). Why do you keep hammering at this?’

“And he said, ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.”

Here’s the video, which is set to start at the 21:23 mark with her stating what the President told her regarding how he treats the media and why:

Whether the Trump Doctrine is the result of just gut instinct or forethought doesn’t matter. Here we have a first person recounting of the President explaining it in regard to how he deals with the news media. Eventually his supporters are going to get tired of screaming “lugenpresse” at the penned in reporters at his rallies. Or telling them to get out of their country like the lovely gentleman below. Eventually one or more will actually attack and most likely kill a reporter. I certainly hope the news media has thought out how it is going to respond when that happens. Hope, however, is not a strategy.

Stay frosty!

Open thread.

 



Flint Nation

Corrupt swamp monster Scott Pruitt wants you to pay for his jet-setting lifestyle, but he doesn’t want you to hear any criticism of the way he mismanages his agency for the benefit of his and Trump’s paymasters:

The Environmental Protection Agency is barring The Associated Press, CNN and the environmental-focused news organization E&E from a national summit on harmful water contaminants.

The EPA blocked the news organizations from attending Tuesday’s Washington meeting, convened by EPA chief Scott Pruitt.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told the barred organizations they were not invited and there was no space for them, but gave no indication of why they specifically were barred.

Pruitt told about 200 people at the meeting that dealing with the contaminants is a “national priority.”

Guards barred an AP reporter from passing through a security checkpoint inside the building. When the reporter asked to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building.

The story isn’t even a headline at CNN. It should be. This is outrageous.



Flip a Coin

If you want an expert’s insights on the issue of North Korea’s nukes, head over to CNN and read a piece featuring our own Cheryl Rofer. All I’ve got is something deeply weird and worrisome about the upcoming summit; the Trump White House issued a commemorative coin for it:

Kim Jong-Un’s PR shop must be stoked — what could signal Kim’s arrival as a legitimate player on the world stage more effectively than the U.S. president pairing his own image with Kim’s as an equal? Oh, right — nuclear weaponry.

This premature victory lap is disturbing on so many levels. From The Guardian:

Trump has reportedly been focusing on the pageantry of the summit rather than immersing himself in detailed briefings on the complex issue of North Korea’s nuclear program. He has been particularly interested in suspense-filled announcements that could come out of the meeting, according to the Associated Press.

Of course Trump has focused on the show biz angle — that’s who he is. But Trump is also a vengeful bully who is likely to go apeshit when he doesn’t get what he wants. And he’ll have Bolton whispering in his ear on the long plane ride home.

I don’t think anyone’s gonna win this coin toss.



Ever Wonder Why We Keep Seeing Reports Of Foreign Signal Intelligence Equipment In DC? Unsecured Presidential Personal Phone Edition

Washington DC has a fake cell phone tower problem. It is an open secret that Foreign Intelligence Services are using a variety of means to capture signals intelligence (SIGINT) in DC. From Wired:

LAST WEEK, THE Department of Homeland Security confirmed for the first time that it is aware of unauthorized cell-site simulators, the surveillance tools often called stingrays or IMSI Catchers, in various parts of Washington DC.

While it’s not surprising that foreign intelligence groups or criminal actors would be cell-snooping in the nation’s capital, the DHS statement is the first US government acknowledgement that sensitive political communications, not to mention those of anyone in DC, are at risk of interception by devices that are currently unaccounted for. In spite of this step, though, observers find it unlikely that any group will move to defuse the threat in the foreseeable future.

Ruh Roh!!!!!!

From Politico (emphasis mine):

President Donald Trump uses a White House cellphone that isn’t equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications, according to two senior administration officials – a departure from the practice of his predecessors that potentially exposes him to hacking or surveillance.

The president, who relies on cellphones to reach his friends and millions of Twitter followers, has rebuffed staff efforts to strengthen security around his phone use, according to the administration officials.

The president uses at least two iPhones, according to one of the officials. The phones – one capable only of making calls, the other equipped only with the Twitter app and pre-loaded with a handful of news sites – are issued by White House Information Technology and the White House Communications Agency, an office staffed by military personnel that oversees White House telecommunications.

While aides have urged the president to swap out the Twitter phone on a monthly basis, Trump has resisted their entreaties, telling them it was “too inconvenient,” the same administration official said.

The president has gone as long as five months without having the phone checked by security experts. It is unclear how often Trump’s call-capable phones, which are essentially used as burner phones, are swapped out.

Trump’s call-capable cell phone has a camera and microphone, unlike the White House-issued cell phones used by Obama. Keeping those components creates a risk that hackers could use them to access the phone and monitor the president’s movements. The GPS location tracker, however – which can be used to track the president’s whereabouts – is disabled on Trump’s devices.

“It’s baffling that Trump isn’t taking baseline cybersecurity measures at a time when he is trying to negotiate his way out of a trade war with China, a country that is known for using cyber tactics to gain the upper hand in business negotiations,” said Samm Sacks, a China and technology expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Former government officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations expressed astonishment that any White House would issue the president a cell phone that posed a security threat.

I’m sure there’s no operations security issues involved here at all. It isn’t like the President is up at odd hours with a bunch of media personalities who give him advice and wind him up about what decisions to make after he tells them what’s going on. Err, um… Never mind.

Stay spreadable!

Open thread.



Every Day Is Opposite Day

In the run up to the 2016 election, the FBI did indeed give one campaign special treatment: Its director, James Comey, publicly trashed Hillary Clinton at the conclusion of the bureau’s investigation into how Clinton handled emails as secretary of state and precipitously and needlessly revealed that the investigation had been reopened in the final days of the campaign. The FBI remained silent about the far more serious and substantial allegations that the Trump campaign had been infiltrated by figures acting on behalf of a hostile foreign power.

Now, the beneficiary of that special treatment is waging all-out war on the FBI and his own Department of Justice, which appears to be intimidated enough to roll over and piddle on its own belly.

During the 2016 campaign, candidate Trump loudly complained about corruption in Washington DC and endlessly invoked the specter of the “forgotten men and women” who were getting ripped off by elites.

Now, Trump has installed a breathtakingly corrupt cabinet and auctioned off U.S. foreign policy for the financial benefit of himself and his family members. A Trump-installed Supreme Court justice just wrote the majority opinion on a decision that allows companies to force workers into individual arbitration rather than pursuing class action lawsuits.

Some days, I think the Trump junta won’t get away with its many crimes. Other days, I think maybe they will. In the morning thread, Kay said we keep breaking through institutional safety nets, and the last one is the vote. She’s right. If we don’t roll these bastards back hard in November, they’ll cut enough holes in that final safety net to destroy it too. Fellow citizens, I think 2018 is our last shot.



The Trump Doctrine In Action During The Campaign: Is There Any Agent Of Influence Donald Trump Jr Didn’t Meet With?

Apparently not! From The New York Times:

Three months before the 2016 election, a small group gathered at Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son. One was an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. Another was an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes. The third was a Republican donor with a controversial past in the Middle East as a private security contractor.

The meeting was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office, according to several people with knowledge of their encounters.

Erik Prince, the private security contractor and the former head of Blackwater, arranged the meeting, which took place on Aug. 3, 2016. The emissary, George Nader, told Donald Trump Jr. that the crown princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president. The social media specialist, Joel Zamel, extolled his company’s ability to give an edge to a political campaign; by that time, the firm had already drawn up a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr. Trump.

The company, which employed several Israeli former intelligence officers, specialized in collecting information and shaping opinion through social media.

It is unclear whether such a proposal was executed, and the details of who commissioned it remain in dispute. But Donald Trump Jr. responded approvingly, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting, and after those initial offers of help, Mr. Nader was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president’s first national security adviser. At the time, Mr. Nader was also promoting a secret plan to use private contractors to destabilize Iran, the regional nemesis of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.

The meetings, which have not been reported previously, are the first indication that countries other than Russia may have offered assistance to the Trump campaign in the months before the presidential election. The interactions are a focus of the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, who was originally tasked with examining possible Trump campaign coordination with Russia in the election.

Mr. Nader is cooperating with the inquiry, and investigators have questioned numerous witnesses in Washington, New York, Atlanta, Tel Aviv and elsewhere about what foreign help may have been pledged or accepted, and about whether any such assistance was coordinated with Russia, according to witnesses and others with knowledge of the interviews.

The interviews, some in recent weeks, are further evidence that special counsel’s investigation remains in an intense phase even as Mr. Trump’s lawyers are publicly calling for Mr. Mueller to bring it to a close.

It is illegal for foreign governments or individuals to be involved in American elections, and it is unclear what — if any — direct assistance Saudi Arabia and the Emirates may have provided. But two people familiar with the meetings said that Trump campaign officials did not appear bothered by the idea of cooperation with foreigners.

Zamel founded and runs Wikistrat*, as well as several other defense and intelligence sector companies. The one in question here is Psy-Group, whose website is basically a front page. Given that Zamel is an Israeli counter-terrorism specialist and employs former Israeli intelligence personnel, there is no way, shape, or form that he was involved with this without Netanyahu’s tacit approval. Erik Prince, of course, is now a wholly funded asset and subsidiary of the People’s Republic of China. And it appears that this most recent reporting is further proof that Prince lied in his testimony to Congress.

According to The New York Times reporting, Zamel is also tied to Oleg Deripaska, who was Paul Manafort’s sugar daddy for Manafort’s work on behalf of Putin’s Ukrainian catspaw Viktor Yanykovych. As well as Dmitry Ryobololev. Ryobololev bought the President’s previous south Florida mansion for a significant markup. But the key piece in all of this is George Nader, who we know has been cooperating with Special Counsel Mueller since late last year. Nader served as the middle man for this meeting, just as he did for Erik Prince’s Seychelles’ meeting with Kirill Dmitriev, who is a close associate of Putin’s. Nader is also the bridging node to Elliott Broidy, who like Michael Cohen, is one of the RNC’s Finance Chairs.

What we have here is the Trump Doctrine at work during the campaign. In this case the Saudis and Emiratis, in conjunction with an Israeli counterterrorism specialist who owns several defense and intelligence contracting companies that employ former Israeli intelligence personnel, offering to help the President’s campaign in order to ensure that he would win. And offering to do so in a way that seems very, very reminiscent of what Cambridge Analytica was supposedly doing for the campaign. The Saudis and Emiratis certainly had their own interests in making this offer; they were upset over the US led JCPOA agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But they also had other interests.

The Emirati crown prince, Muhammed bin Zayed (MBZ), has taken it upon himself to mentor both the Saudi crown prince, Muhammed bin Salman (MBS), and Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner. By treating the President fairly via his campaign, MBZ and MBS were setting the conditions to have their interests in the Middle East given priority should the President’s campaign prove successful, which it was. This is also what Prince and Zamel were hoping to get out of providing support.

Treating then candidate Trump fairly was intended to provide very lucrative opportunities for Muhammed bin Zayed, Muhammed bin Salman, Erik Prince, Josh Zamel, George Nader, and the latter three’s patrons should the campaign prove successful. This is just the latest reported example of the President’s campaign being open to and/or actively seeking foreign assistance during the campaign. We’re not talking about receiving a donation or two from someone who shouldn’t have, realizing it, coming clean in an FEC filing, and donating it to charity or returning the donation. We’re talking about actively seeking out or being actively receptive to receipt of foreign assistance in goods and services in order to advance the campaign. And remember, Nader has been cooperating with the Special Counsel’s Office since last year, so the Special Counsel and his staff know everything and have known it long before The New York Times broke the story this morning. And woven through all of this new reporting are Russians. You can’t diagram anyone in the President’s familial, business, or campaign orbit, as well as several in the administration, without quickly linking to an influential Russian oligarch tied to Vladimir Putin. That is NOT normal!

Stay frosty!

Open thread.

* Here’s Wikistrat’s subject matter experts. See anyone you know?