Tuesday Morning Open Thread: “Family” Value(s) for Money



President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee raised an unprecedented $107 million for a ceremony that officials promised would be “workmanlike,” and the committee pledged to give leftover funds to charity. Nearly eight months later, the group has helped pay for redecorating at the White House and the vice president’s residence in Washington.

But nothing has yet gone to charity.

What is left from the massive fundraising is a mystery, clouded by messy and, at times, budget-busting management of a private fund that requires little public disclosure. The Associated Press spoke with eight people — vendors, donors and Trump associates — involved in planning and political fundraising for the celebration, an event that provides an early look at the new president’s management style and priorities. The people described a chaotic process marked by last-minute decisions, staffing turnover and little financial oversight…

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Open Thread: Criminally Stupid, Too

President Trump’s legal team is wrestling with how much to cooperate with the special counsel looking into Russian election interference, an internal debate that led to an angry confrontation last week between two White House lawyers and that could shape the course of the investigation…

The debate in Mr. Trump’s West Wing has pitted Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, against Ty Cobb, a lawyer brought in to manage the response to the investigation. Mr. Cobb has argued for turning over as many of the emails and documents requested by the special counsel as possible in hopes of quickly ending the investigation — or at least its focus on Mr. Trump…

The friction escalated in recent days after Mr. Cobb was overheard by a reporter for The New York Times discussing the dispute during a lunchtime conversation at a popular Washington steakhouse. Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed “a McGahn spy” and saying Mr. McGahn had “a couple documents locked in a safe” that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to. He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for “some of these earlier leaks,” and who he said “tried to push Jared out,” meaning Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been a previous source of dispute for the legal team.

After The Times contacted the White House about the situation, Mr. McGahn privately erupted at Mr. Cobb, according to people informed about the confrontation who asked not to be named describing internal matters. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, sharply reprimanded Mr. Cobb for his indiscretion, the people said…

Mr. Trump’s legal team has been a caldron of rivalry and intrigue since the beginning. His first private lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, grew alienated from the White House in part over friction with Mr. Kushner. The lawyer was unhappy that Mr. Kushner was talking with his father-in-law about the investigation without involving the legal team.

Mr. Kasowitz was eventually pushed to the side, and Mr. Trump elevated John Dowd, a Washington lawyer with extensive experience in high-profile political cases, to take the lead as his personal lawyer. At the same time, Mr. Trump decided he needed someone inside the White House to manage the official response since Mr. McGahn, whose professional experience is mostly in election law, already handles a vast array of issues from executive orders to judicial appointments.

Mr. McGahn’s first choices turned down the job, in part out of concern that Mr. Trump would not follow legal advice…

Monday Morning Open Thread: The Toddler Files

As I mentioned Sunday morning, I’ve got an old friend visiting from out of town, so my participation here is liable to be (even more!) spotty and unreliable this week. Think of it as a chance to rack up some TBogg comment units (500+ on a thread), and to read some of the longer projects available:

The point of the [original April 25] tweet was to push back on the occasional impulse by Very Serious People to claim that some speech or act by Donald Trump proved that he was “growing into the presidency.” The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts has been examining Trump’s words and actions for the 2016 presidential campaign and thought this was nonsense. Hence the tweet.

The thing is, it quickly became clear that the evidence that Trump was not growing into the presidency was hiding in plain sight. Barely a week or even a day could pass without someone with access to Trump telling the news media in no uncertain terms the ways in which he was unfit for office. So I decided to keep adding to the thread…

… While Twitter followers can find the thread when I add to it, the functionality of Twitter is not ideal for finding it. Therefore, I have decided to curate this thread here at Spoiler Alerts as well. Below are all the tweets in this thread, in order. Every week I will update this post to include any additional tweets…

One last point: All I’m doing is curating these stories. The real credit goes to the myriad reporters who have wrested these anecdotes and quotes from individuals who, in all likelihood, genuinely want this president to succeed. Yet, in their heart of hearts, they know that the commander in chief of America’s armed forces has the oppositional nature of a 3-year old…

Most recent, so far:


Apart from being eternally grateful to the Republican Party for wishing this stunted monster on the rest of us, what’s on the agenda as we begin another (hopefully slow news) week?

Russiagate Open Thread: Larry, Moe, and Rage Furby!

Someone needs to tell Mr. Rohrabacher that Spy vs Spy was never, nor was it intended to be, a documentary. Even as the elected representative of the deep-red rump of California at its nutsackiest, this seems to be… beyond satire:

A Republican congressman perceived as sympathetic to the Russian government tried to strike what he described as a “deal” with the White House to get WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange out of legal trouble with the United States government, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

In exchange, Assange would produce alleged evidence that Russia did not provide the hacked emails released by WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election, the newspaper said. The release of those emails appeared intended to damage the Democratic Party in an election that the Republican Trump won.

In a phone call with White House chief of staff John Kelly on Wednesday, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Ca., described a possible agreement to pardon Assange or “something like that,” the Journal reported. The U.S. government is looking into WikiLeaks’ release of secret government documents in 2010, though it has not formally accused Assange of wrongdoing…

Rohrabacher is seen as sympathetic to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In May, a report said fellow GOP lawmaker Kevin McCarthy once joked that “there’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” …


And then things went seriously askew…

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: The Loneliest Monster

The Media Village Idiots at Politico are trying on a new narrative: Trump is just a uniquely “self-contained” individual, who doesn’t respond to normal primate responses like ‘friendship’ and ’empathy’. He’s not really a monster, he’s just isolated, poor thing!

As someone who also has trouble connecting with humans, I will attest that this is the biggest load of shit since Ringling Brothers disbanded its animal acts. Trump, like any other circus performer, is an entertainer. He’s spent his entire life crafting a “Donald Trump” character, a media-friendly mock-up of everyone’s nightmare Big Boss Business Guy… the guy behind the curtain is just a meatsack that craves familiarity and doesn’t want to be touched.

The tragedy, for the rest of us, is that just as the aging monster’s physical and mental decline became inevitable, a confluence of Republican venality, American stupidity, and Russian cupidity propelled the Donald Trump Show into the White House. Great news for the parasites, not so much for the rest of us:

He’s increasingly isolated in the White House, but for Donald Trump, being alone is not a liability. It’s where he’s most comfortable…

His critics might see his growing isolation as a product of his political inexperience—an aversion to the norms of the legislative process, a penchant for topsy-turvy management. But as unprecedented as this might be in the annals of the West Wing, it’s merely a continuation of a lifelong pattern of behavior for Trump. Take away the Pennsylvania Avenue address, the never-ending list of domestic and international crises, and the couldn’t-be-higher geopolitical stakes—and this looks very much like … Trump throughout his entire existence. Isolated is how he’s always operated…

“One of the loneliest people I’ve ever met,” biographer Tim O’Brien said in an interview. “He lacks the emotional and sort of psychological architecture a person needs to build deep relationships with other people.”

It’s been this way always, because he’s always been foundationally, virulently untrusting. “There’s a wall Donald has that he never lets people penetrate,” a former associate told me. Trump has a dark, dour view of humanity. He considers the world “ruthless,” “brutal” and “cruel.” Through this zero-sum, dog-eat-dog lens, friends aren’t friends—there’s no such thing. “They act nice to your face, but underneath they’re out to kill you,” he wrote in his 2007 book, Think Big. “… they want your job, they want your house, they want your money, they want your wife …” Why he’s like this is the subject of vigorous discussion among psychology experts. The deep-seated influence of his formidable father? The wound of the alcohol-fueled death of his more mild-mannered older brother? Simple genetics? Trump is not self-reflective—“I don’t like to analyze myself because I might not like what I see,” he told a biographer several years back—but he can be self-aware. And on this front, he’s been quite clear, and remarkably consistent.
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Trump’s “Voter Fraud” Commission: Yes, They Are Indeed Fraudulent

I keep starting long, link-heavy posts about Kobach’s hand-picked vote-suppression committee… and the evil bastids keep getting ahead of the news. Shorter: These guys are more dangerous to the American way than a coalition of acting-out white supremacists ganged up with a band of black bloc window-breakers.

In an September 7th article for Breitbart News, Kobach claimed that 5,313 New Hampshire voters were not residents of the state. The only “evidence” he could muster, however, was that the 5,313 had registered to vote with out-of-state driver’s licenses but had not registered a car in New Hampshire. Kobach forgot—or just intentionally ignored in furtherance of his own agenda—that thousands of New Hampshire college students from other states reside and attend classes in New Hampshire districts that saw high voter turnouts in 2016.

Kobach added that New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan likely only won her senate race because it was “stolen through voter fraud.” He did not even claim to have proof.

Assembled by Trump by executive order in early May, the commission was tasked with completing a report about “vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.” Its creation followed erroneous claims repeated by the president alleging widespread voter fraud which the president has claimed cost him the popular vote. Seemingly emasculated by having obtained fewer votes nationwide than Clinton, Trump asserted weeks after his inauguration that between 3 and 5 million illegal ballots were cast for his opponent…

Kobach and Pence eventually appointed five Democrats and seven Republicans to the commission, though Democrat Luis E. Borunda, Maryland’s deputy secretary of state, has since resigned. But it remains completely under the direction of the Republicans.

“Any truly bipartisan commission on these things has to have bipartisan leadership,” Danielle Lang, an attorney for the Campaign Legal Center, told Gizmodo. “There has to be some kind of bipartisan power on the commission—or it’s just a fig leaf. If you look at all of the former commissions that this would be similar to, they all had Democrat and Republican vice chairs. Instead, in this case, you have Kris Kobach and Mike Pence. That alone truly disqualifies it from being truly bipartisan in any meaningful way.” …

And given his background, Hans von Spakovsky should be particularly ashamed of himself, if only he understood the concept of ‘shame’.

Monday Evening Open Thread: “Too Soon” (Too Late)

(Nick Anderson via GoComics.com)

Apart from those big issues, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Because there are so many better people’s homes and livelihoods at stake, I’m glad it didn’t happen… but if Mar-a-Loco or one of Trump’s other Floridian properties had been flooded, would we already be hearing about a climate change “moon shot” project?