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

Shot…

Chaser:

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:


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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: The Facebook Conundrum(s)


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Until Adam or Cheryl can post more expert information, I’m just gonna toss out some links that seem like they might be important. Per CNN:

Facebook did not give copies of the ads to members of the Senate and House intelligence committees when it met with them last week on the grounds that doing so would violate their privacy policy, sources with knowledge of the briefings said. Facebook’s policy states that, in accordance with the federal Stored Communications Act, it can only turn over the stored contents of an account in response to a search warrant.

“We continue to work with the appropriate investigative authorities,” Facebook said in a statement to CNN.

Facebook informed Congress last week that it had identified 3,000 ads that ran between June 2015 and May 2017 that were linked to fake accounts. Those accounts, in turn, were linked to the pro-Kremlin troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency.

In those briefings, Facebook spoke only in generalities about the ad buys, leaving some committee members feeling frustrated with Facebook’s level of cooperation.

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN last week that Facebook had not turned over the ads to Congress. Warner has also called Facebook’s review “the tip of the iceberg,” and suggested that more work needs to be done in order to ascertain the full scope of Russia’s use of social media…

Are those “contents” significant? This guy — “Former federal prosecutor. Legal expert for TV and print”thinks so:


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Late Night Open Thread: Every Little Grift & Cranny…

Of course aspiring Chinese parents have been working this “loophole” for a while now — guess Donald thought it only fair that his personal crime family get to pry a few more rubles out of Russian citizens who hold American citizenship higher than he ever did…



Tuesday Morning Schadenfreude Open Thread: Never Give the Son-in-Law A Real Job

Trump can’t even screw up like a normal grifter. Be interesting if the key to breaking the Trump Crime Cartel’s grip turns out to be that 1950s comedy figure, the Otherwise Unemployable Idiot Son-in-Law. Per the Washington Post:

A small group of White House lawyers this summer urged that President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner step down from his White House role amid a broadening probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russians in the 2016 election, according to multiple people familiar with the discussion.

Some of the lawyers worried that the presence of Kushner, a senior adviser with a broad domestic and foreign policy portfolio, created potential legal complications for Trump, while the probe threatened to limit Kushner’s ability to perform his job, these people said.

Kushner had several interactions with Russian officials in the campaign and transition that have drawn interest from investigators, and some White House lawyers warned that even casual discussions between him and Trump could spark additional scrutiny.

The debate, first reported Monday night by the Wall Street Journal, took place before a July shake-up of the legal team. The idea to press Kushner to leave was ultimately rejected.

In a statement Monday night, White House lawyer Ty Cobb blamed the disclosure of the internal debate on former White House staffers seeking to tarnish Kushner, who Cobb described as “among the President’s most trusted, competent, selfless and intelligent advisers.”…

Of course, in the Trump White House, “most trusted, competent, selfless and intelligent” is not exactly a high bar, is it?

… Cobb declined to say which former staffers he believed were trying to undermine Kushner. Former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, who was dismissed last month, had been a rival to Kushner in the West Wing. Bannon did not respond to requests for comment…

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Apart from stifling our snarky guffaws — or not! — what’s on the agenda for the day?



Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Charlie (Rose) & the Shambling Bannon

Let’s just say, this interview did nothing to dissuade me from the impression that Bannon is an old-fashioned Irish mucker… one who’s measuring the collapse of his liver against the collapse of civilization, and doing his best to make it a photo finish.

Bad news, he’s got the Mercers eating out of his greasy palm, and they’re as nihilistic as Bannon but without the almost-human touches. Slightly less bad news, right now Bannon’s more interested in punishing the not-Trump Repubs than he is in destroying Democrats, and I can’t find it in my heart to feel sorry for anyone in the GOP.
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