Late Night Open Thread: All the Right Enemies, All the Wrong Friends


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I am not, in general, a big fan of the ‘Trump’s using this as a distraction’ theory — flinging all the crap he can find to see what sticks is not advanced strategery. But when it comes to their golly-gosh SCOTUS nominee, the Repubs are sure making a valiant, all-out effort to turn the slightly steaming pitcher of vodka-scented yellow liquid of this week’s Trump/FBI revelations into something that could plausibly be sold as lemonade…



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: “Just Not FUN Anymore, Paulie Boy!”

Okay, I’m a little obsessed right now. Because I’m hoping for the political equivalent of a Trump-Ryan murder-suicide pact, and I don’t even care which partner goes first.

Apart from keeping one eye on the perpetrators at all times, what’s on the agenda for the day?
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Late Night Open Thread: Pathologically Small Man in A Big, Big Job

Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
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Politico, “Trump’s penchant for vengeance casts shadow on health care vote”:

Donald Trump didn’t have to issue his threat seriously — “I’m gonna come after you,” he said jokingly Tuesday to a ringleader of House GOP hard-liners opposing his health care bill — to be taken seriously by the 200 Republicans gathered in the Capitol basement.

For a president with a penchant for vengeance — who named “an eye for an eye” as his favorite biblical passage, who banned media outlets from campaign events when he didn’t approve of their coverage, who after the election ousted a GOP state chairman whom he viewed as disloyal, who just last week reminded a GOP governor who hadn’t endorsed him that “I never forget” — the roll-call vote on the Republican health care plan, expected Thursday, will be the first accounting of who’s with him and who’s against him on Capitol Hill…

Greg Sargent, at the Washington Post — “Trump’s lies are failing him, and it is making him deeply frustrated”:

The events of this week are revealing with a new level of clarity that President Trump and the White House have ventured far beyond unconventional levels of dishonesty. Instead, they are revealing on their part something more remarkable and challenging to our system: a kind of deep rot of bad faith — a profound contempt for democratic process and the possibility of agreement on shared reality — that is wildly beyond anything in recent memory and strains the limits of our political vocabulary.
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Early Morning Open Thread: Not Lookin’ Good Right Now, Our Roger

Politico, “Roger Stone takes center stage as Congress lines up Russia probe witnesses”

On Monday, Schiff placed Stone front-and-center as he questioned FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers.

Schiff made the most of his opportunity Monday during the committee’s first public hearing of its probe into whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow officials on the alleged digital meddling campaign that bruised Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The lawmaker pressed Comey on whether he knew who Stone is and if he was aware of Stone’s interactions with suspected hackers.

Comey said he was “generally” aware of who Stone is but wouldn’t comment on his reported activities.

“I’m worried we’re going to a place I don’t want to go, which is commenting on any particular person,” Comey added. “So I don’t think I should comment. I’m aware of public accounts.”…

Stone, who is in the midst of promoting a book on last year’s election, has a ready explanation for each action that has drawn the attention of lawmakers. He will gladly share them if asked.

“I don’t have to be subpoenaed,” Stone told POLITICO in an interview last week. “I’d come voluntarily, but if they want to issue a subpoena to get a headline, that’s fine, too. I’m anxious to speak, the sooner the better. I would like to put an end to this myth about collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”…

The document sent to Stone requests he retain pertinent documents from the campaign. However, [Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr] Burr said there is no timeline yet for bringing in Stone.

“Sometimes the people that want to talk the most are not the ones who are the most valuable,” he said.

CNN has a helpful timeline of every incident where “Trump adviser Roger Stone repeatedly claimed to know of forthcoming WikiLeaks dumps”.

I’m quite sure ol’ Roger is busy at what he does best — massaging his every source, promising to rat out all his associates, attempting to make sure that never happens. Still, like Mr. Pierce, I can dream!



Long Read(s): Kellyanne Conway Is Having A Moment

It may be, as some Conway-skeptics have hinted, that she’s pushing her narrative hard because she’s feeling “shut out” in the latest battles among the Trump cabal’s inner circle. It may be that her husband has just been, per the NYTimes, chosen to head the civil division of the Justice Department… placing him in charge of a crucial office charged with defending Mr. Trump’s contentious travel ban and lawsuits alleging that his business activities violate the Constitution.” (And the photo of the happy couple the Times picked for its header speaks volumes.) Or it may just be the exigences of long-form journalism, where multiple stories on the same subject emerge simultaneously because such reporting takes time.

In any case, here’s hoping (/snark) that her sudden celebrity doesn’t lead her boss and idol to feel overshadowed, because we know how he’s prone to lashing out under such circumstances .

Olivia Nuzzi, in NYMag, on “The Real First Lady of Trump’s America“:

On the third floor of the West Wing, one flight past the stairwell portrait of President Donald Trump talking on his Android phone, is an office once occupied by Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to Barack Obama; Karl Rove, senior adviser to George W. Bush; and First Lady Hillary Clinton. By cramped White House standards, it’s an expansive space, complete with a desk, a conference table, a couch, a bookshelf stocked with a single copy of The Art of the Deal, a duffel bag full of family photos and a couple of pairs of Spanx — and, through the blinds, a view of the Washington Monument. And on this February day, its current tenant, Kellyanne Conway, was explaining how her life had changed in the nine months since she joined the campaign of the man who would ultimately become the 45th president of the United States — for one thing, she now answers to “Blueberry.”

That’s because she’s one of the only officials in the White House, other than President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, to have Secret Service protection — which staffers receive at the special request of the president, who has famously referred to her as “my Kellyanne.” She got the protection, Conway said, after she was sent a suspicious white substance. And then there were the threats. “Most of them are online,” she remarked, “and most of them are very explicit and graphic, and they’re sometimes people who have a history of following through but for whatever reason weren’t prosecuted.”…

Conway laughed with her assistant, a 26-year-old College Republicans alum named Catharine Cypher, as she tried to explain the absurdity of hearing the stoic armed men who follow her around refer in all earnestness to the whereabouts of one Miss Blueberry… “Oh my God, there’s no privacy! It’s crazy, it really is crazy.” And it can get complicated. “I have two friends, who both — well, one is Ann Coulter. She started dating her security guard probably ten years ago because she couldn’t see anybody else,” Conway said. “And you know Rebekah Mercer?” she asked, referring to the Republican megadonor who, with her father, Robert, bankrolled Trump’s campaign and pushed to install Conway as its campaign manager. “Her younger sister, Heather Sue, married her security guard. She was like, ‘Well, I didn’t see anybody else, so one night, I, you know, I invited him in!’ ” Conway’s got a running joke about one of her own agents. “If Blueberry has an affair, it’s with Secret Service! It’s with Joe.” She deepened her voice to mimic his: “ ‘Ma’am? Blueberry, horsepower!’ ” (Coulter and the Mercer family did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)
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Open Thread: You Know It’s Bad for the Repubs, Because They’re Already Trying to Cover It Up

Aaaand here comes Rep. Trey ‘But Her Emails’ Gowdy… Per USAToday:

Rep. Trey Gowdy used Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing to cite Obama administration officials, including the former president, as potential sources for leaks.

The South Carolina Republican was questioning FBI Director James Comey during the House Intelligence Committee’s hearing as part of its investigation into Russian interference with the U.S. election.

Like many of his Republican colleagues, Gowdy used his time to focus on recent leaks of classified information to journalists. But he went a step further by raising specific names of people from the former administration to show they had access to leaked classified material, implying they might have been sources of the leaks…

Gowdy argued that “unmasking” Flynn’s name was a felony because it was part of a confidential intelligence gathering and had previously been “masked” to protect his identity.

“I’m not going to get either that particular case, that matter, or any conversations I had involving the president. So I can’t answer that question,” Comey responded.

But Obama wasn’t the only one. Gowdy also rattled down a list of people who had held high-ranking positions in the Obama administration and asked whether each would have had access to the “unmasked” name. He included former director of national intelligence James Clapper, former CIA director John Brennan, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former White House adviser Ben Rhodes, former attorney general Loretta Lynch and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates.

“In the universe of possible motives of felonious dissemination of classified material, we could rule out wanting to help the intelligence communities and the law enforcement communities. Those are two motives that are gone now, that leaves more nefarious motives,” Gowdy said…

How dare those filthy Democrats try to expose our treason on behalf of the higher cause! Do they not understand that targeted leaking is only permissible by OUR party?

ETA:



Early Morning Open Thread: NATO Is Not Mar-A-Largo, You Two-Bit Hustler

Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO explains:


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