Russiagate Open Thread: The Knives Are (Still) Out for Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III

And yet first-term Rep and aspiring Trump ballwasher Matt Gaetz was on Fox today, agreeing with “Judge Jeanine” that beta cuck Sessions should either appoint a more Repub-friendly special counsel or GTFO:

Rep. Matt Gaetz and a dozen other House Republicans are calling for the Justice Department to appoint a second special counsel to investigate surveillance abuses against the Trump campaign…

Gaetz said on “Outnumbered Overtime” that a second probe would provide “real accountability for these crimes that were committed against President Trump and his team.”

He said Republicans called for a second special counsel seven months ago, but Sessions took no action.

“If Jeff Sessions doesn’t want to do the job of attorney general, he should step aside and we should get somebody who wants to do that job.”…

This came after Chris Christie’s Sunday performance, saying that if the president really wants an Attorney General he can trust, maybe he should just man up and do something…

(Yeah, I don’t think even Donny Dollhands is dumb enough to fall for Christie’s bluff, but ya can’t fault the man for trying.)

Remember last week, per the Washington Post?

Perhaps Attorney General Jeff Sessions was desensitized by President Trump’s “DISGRACEFUL” tweet on Wednesday, but if he has any feelings left to hurt, then the former senator from Alabama might have been further wounded by Thursday’s daily news briefing.

Asked if Trump plans to fire Sessions, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied, “Not that I know of.”…
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Russiagate Open Thread: Mueller Knows What He’s Looking For

Yes, Mike Allen’s a tool and a parasite, but he’s survived in DC because he’s been able to spot the patterns below the froth he happily helps churn out. Which is why, IMO, he’s getting respect for this:

News flash: Mueller is looking at everything.

That’s his job. When he was named, he was empowered/instructed to look into the “FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters.” That there is a broad mandate…

These kernels aren’t from Mueller’s office: We’ve seen time and again (and again) that his office is one of Washington’s few leak-free zones.

Yes, it looks bad. Based on conversations with White House insiders, I can tell you they’re more bearish than ever about the outcome. But we’re all guessing.

The bottom line: Here’s one headline that’s true: “Expect more ‘surprises’ from Mueller probe, former crusading prosecutor says.”…

NBC news flash, just a few hours ago:

The grand jury investigating alleged collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has sent a witness a subpoena seeking all documents involving the president and a host of his closest advisers, according to a copy of the subpoena reviewed by NBC News.

According to the subpoena, which was sent to a witness by special counsel Robert Mueller, investigators want emails, text messages, work papers, telephone logs and other documents going back to Nov. 1, 2015, 4½ months after Trump launched his campaign…

Once Hicks’ resignation takes effect in the next few weeks, Cohen will be the only person listed in the subpoena who hasn’t left the employment of Trump or of the White House.

“Trump associates” said to be included in this sweep: Steve Bannon, Michael Cohen, Rick Gates, Hope Hicks, Corey Lewandowski, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Keith Schiller, and Roger Stone.

If this whole criminal conspiracy takes down foundational ratfvcker Roger Stone — who is preemptively wailing about “prosecutorial overreach” on the farther-rightwing news sites — it will delight some of us almost as much as extracting Donald Trump from his stolen perch in the Oval Office.

Trump Crime Cartel Open Thread: “Nice Little Kingdom Ya Got There…”

… Shame if anything were to — happen — to it… “

As part of the scrutiny of Kushner’s discussions with Turks, federal investigators have reached out to Turkish nationals for information on Kushner through the FBI’s legal attache office in Ankara, according to two people familiar with the matter. Separately, Qatari government officials visiting the U.S. in late January and early February considered turning over to Mueller what they believe is evidence of efforts by their country’s Persian Gulf neighbors in coordination with Kushner to hurt their country, four people familiar with the matter said. The Qatari officials decided against cooperating with Mueller for now out of fear it would further strain the country’s relations with the White House, these people said.

Kushner’s family real estate business, Kushner Companies, approached Qatar multiple times, including last spring, about investing in the company’s troubled flagship property at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York, but the government-run sovereign wealth fund declined, according to two people familiar with the discussion. Another discussion of interest to Mueller’s team is a meeting Kushner held at Trump Tower during the transition in December 2016 with a former prime minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, or HBJ, according to people familiar with the meeting.

HBJ had been in talks with Kushner Companies about investing in its Fifth Avenue property, which is facing roughly $1.4 billion in debt that is due in 2019, these people said. Those talks with the company continued after Kushner entered the White House and stepped away from the business, but last spring HBJ decided against investing, these people said.

In the weeks after Kushner Companies’ talks with the Qatari government and HBJ collapsed, the White House strongly backed an economically punishing blockade against Qatar, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, citing the country’s support for terrorism as the impetus. Kushner, who is both President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a key adviser, has played a major role in Trump’s Middle East policy and has developed close relationships with the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Some top Qatari government officials believe the White House’s position on the blockade may have been a form of retaliation driven by Kushner who was sour about the failed deal, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. Saudi Arabia and UAE have long had a rivalry with Qatar.

The White House, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have said the blockade against Qatar is in retaliation for their government’s support for terrorism.

Any cooperation with Mueller’s probe from foreign nationals or government officials would mark a significant new dimension to the investigation beyond what is currently publicly known…

The only thing dumber than trying to strongarm the Qataris for your two-bit real estate deals is assuming the Qataris weren’t sophisticated enough to let it be known in the right places that you’d tried. These are not a bunch of struggling three-building developers or angry tenants you’re trying to evict, ya dumb goniff.

These people aren’t just an international disgrace, they’re a fvcking embarrassment to the rest of us.

Inside Job Open Thread: Brad Parscale Bobs Up Again

The NYTimes handles the story as delicately as only the Grey Lady can:

With just 980 days to go until the next presidential election, President Trump said Tuesday that he would run again in 2020, an announcement that several White House advisers said simply meant the president would step up his preferred and much-missed activity of performing for an adoring crowd.

In effect, it continues the permanent campaign of a president who, from the time he took office over a year ago, has signaled his interest to run again and has kept holding campaign-style rallies. The president officially filed for re-election with the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration…

But another part of Mr. Trump’s announcement — that Brad Parscale, his 2016 campaign digital director, would be elevated to campaign manager — signaled a more complicated political maneuver on behalf of the president’s family, and specifically Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, according to the president’s advisers.

Mr. Kushner was close to Mr. Parscale during the 2016 campaign, and putting him in an expanded role was widely seen as a power play by the president’s son-in-law. It was first breathlessly reported by the Drudge Report — and billed as both a “historical record” and a “bold move. Matt Drudge, the website’s proprietor, is in frequent contact with Mr. Kushner.

Mr. Parscale, 42, is a frequent presence in Washington. The rare scruffily bearded man in Mr. Trump’s clean-shaven orbit, Mr. Parscale often spends one or two nights a week holding court with vendors and people he describes as “fans” in the lobby of the Trump International Hotel…

Mr. Parscale did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday, but in an interview with The New York Times in June, he described himself as a “blue-collar kid from Kansas who understood what Trump was saying,” and spoke at length about his devotion to the Trump family.

“I was always the family guy on the campaign,” Mr. Parscale said. “If I saw or heard anything that I didn’t think was good for the family, my loyalty was to the family first.”

In another interview, in August, Mr. Parscale described his role on the 2016 campaign.

“I build the plumbing,” he said. “I changed the plumbing of campaigns, from moving it from TV to digital.”…

Last year Mr. Parscale also took a sizable cut from the Trump campaign. The biggest single expenditure of the $17 million it spent in 2017 was the $5.5 million it paid for digital advertising, nearly all of which passed through firms owned by Mr. Parscale…

He does what Mr. Trump wants done, without asking nosy questions about ‘ethics’ or ‘legality’. Of course he’s entitled to his due rewards, a little taste off the top. That’s how family is defined, in Trumpworld!


Trump’s 2016 campaign and the digital operation that Parscale oversaw are under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. Earlier this month, Mueller indicted 13 Russians for trying to sabotage the last presidential campaign — helping Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton — through fake social media posts and other measures.

The special counsel in his charging documents said Trump campaign staffers were “unwitting” participants in the Russia effort, but he did not name any aides as co-conspirators.
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Russiagate / Repub Venality Open Thread: Easy Remit, for Willing Accomplices

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy, who is also a top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has yet to issue a subpoena as chairman since he took the oversight gavel last June. The South Carolina Republican also brushed off calls by Democrats to pursue the money trail as part of the Russia investigation.

“Isn’t that what Bob Mueller is doing?” Gowdy told CNN when asked about the matter…

In addition to the calls for subpoenaing Deutsche Bank, Democrats point to the comments from Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, who told the House Intelligence Committee last year that it should probe Trump’s real estate deals in Florida and New Jersey, as well as Kushner’s real estate dealings in New Jersey.

Democrats have also raised an interest in foreign transactions in places that include the Cayman Islands and Cyprus, particularly surrounding former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. In April 2017, Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois traveled to Cyprus to investigate how Russians used money laundering, a trip that came following an Associated Press report that Treasury officials obtained information regarding financial payments Manafort may have received through Cypriot banks…

Sen. Ron Wyden, ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has for months been frustrated with the lack of access to Treasury FinCEN documents. The Oregon Democrat recently fired off a letter for more Treasury documents, this time to obtain records about a lucrative 2008 real estate deal between Trump and a Russian billionaire that raised questions among Democrats about potential money laundering and suspect business dealings.

But Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has declined to join Wyden in these efforts. And he has rejected Wyden’s requested to review Trump’s tax returns in a private session.

“We’re not going to do that,” Hatch said in the Capitol. “He doesn’t want to give up his tax returns, and I believe he’s right.”…

Thanks to Schiff, we can fairly surmise that McConnell and Ryan knew much of what the intelligence community knew—that Russian operatives were sabotaging Clinton with the knowledge and complicity of the Trump campaign, and the connivance of specific Trump aides. And yet when the Obama administration, in the weeks before the election, asked the leaders of both parties to join a united front against Russian efforts to tip the scales of a U.S. election, “at least two GOP lawmakers [were] reluctant to accede to the White House requests.”…

We can’t know for certain whether Ryan was one of the other GOP lawmakers who joined McConnell in extorting the Obama administration this way. But we know he didn’t take a stand against McConnell; and we know he understood full well that Russia was engaged in an influence operation on Trump’s behalf long before the election…

It has been pretty apparent all along what these GOP leaders were up to, but until now it was impossible to be certain that McConnell et al weren’t healthily skeptical of questionable intelligence. Now we can say with a high degree of confidence that they knew basically everything and still stood in the way of efforts to do anything about it. It’s the height of depravity for Trump to shrug off Russian efforts to help him win the election after basking in them on the campaign trail, then pillory Obama for not doing more to stop it all. But if that is his position—his excuse for leaving the country defenseless—then the fact that Ryan and McConnell were his witting accomplices, working to assure the Russian operation ran its course, has to be revisited, too.

Meanwhile, of course, they can always get worse…

Russiagate Open Thread: “Perjury Trap”

Swear to Murphy the Trickster God, Trump’s defenders sound like they have no idea what the concept of “ethics” involves; they seem to think it’s a synonym for “tactics”.

Randall D. Eliason, in the Washington Post:

The word “trap” connotes a snare set by investigators for the innocent and unwary. Should the president end up charged with perjury or false statements, you can expect to hear arguments that the charges are illegitimate because Mueller unfairly caught the president in a trap. Or perhaps the president and his lawyers will use the perjury-trap claim to justify refusing to be interviewed altogether.

But “perjury trap” is a specific legal defense, related to entrapment. A claim of a perjury trap is really a claim of prosecutorial misconduct. It refers to an abuse of the legal process, whereby a prosecutor subpoenas a witness to testify not for a legitimate investigative purpose but to try to catch him in an inconsistency or falsehood — even a relatively minor one — that can then trigger a perjury charge…

Being called to testify and therefore having the opportunity to commit perjury does not make that testimony a perjury trap. If that were the case, every witness could make the same argument. Claiming that Trump’s testimony would be a perjury trap is like saying driving a car is a “speeding trap” because being behind the wheel gives you the opportunity to exceed the speed limit.

Characterizing the president’s interview as a potential perjury trap is simply wrong. But it is of a piece with the broader effort by the president and his political allies to discredit Mueller’s investigation. It suggests — wrongly — that Mueller is treating the president unfairly. If the president commits perjury or false statements, it will be because he chose to lie — not because he was caught in a “trap.”…

Of course, Ken Starr’s freewheeling ‘Whitewater’ investigation hinged on exactly this kind of ‘perjury trap’ — the Repubs couldn’t prove Clinton had committed any of the crimes they were sure he was responsible for, but by GOP Jeebus they could indict him for lying about what he did with Monica Lewinsky. I guess they must still consider that incident a great success, and can’t understand why Democrats wouldn’t pull the same sort of two-bit theatrical shystering, given a chance…

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Last CPAC 2018 Open Thread: Farewell to Tarwathie Oxon Hill

Yes, as a matter of fact, this happened *just* as the Schiff memo was being released yesterday…

Schlapp brought up how Walters called Steele and implored him not to “take the worst out of what he said” and “have some grace.”

He told Steele “you’ve not been very graceful” to elements of the party…

As they wrapped the segment, Schlapp again said, “Don’t always jump to the conclusion that just because people use inarticulate words that they have it in for you.”

“I didn’t say he had it in for me!” Steele cried. “It was just stupid!”

Bloomberg, “Trump Battles Complacency in Victory Among Conservative Faithful”:

“There’s a different energy here, as opposed to opposition and negativity — less anger,” Dale Bellis, a conservative activist, said in an interview after addressing the conference on Friday. “Anger and fear many times drives us more than does optimism and hope. And so, yeah, we do need to maintain that edge.”…

For many, the desire to protect Trump against his political enemies was top of mind.

“Hanging over everyone’s head is that Nancy Pelosi and everyone is going to try to impeach Donald Trump if Democrats win,” said Sharon Gripshover, a 76-year-old retired physicist from Virginia. “Nobody’s really saying that here, but it’s in the air.”

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel urged attendees on Friday not to let America “go back to the dark ages” of Democrats, including Californian Pelosi, being in control of Congress.

Lee Harvis, 74, a private educator from Maryland, said conservatives are “more comfortable” this year than they were during the Obama era. “There’s still a lot to be angry about, but we’re not fighting in the Warsaw ghetto anymore,” he said…

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