Dems Sue Russia, Trump Campaign and WikiLeaks

Breaking from The Post:

Democratic Party files lawsuit alleging Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks conspired to disrupt the 2016 campaign

The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump.

The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there.

“During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

“This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for President of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency,” he said.

Well, damn! Apparently something similar happened during the Watergate scandal, and the GOP had to pay up!

Open thread.

Back, and to the left…

A depressing thought occurred to me recently. Those of us who experienced the 2016 election as a national and personal trauma could be forever doomed to live with the mysteries and what-ifs associated with it, in the same way my parents’ generation is still haunted by the Kennedy assassination and the horrors that unfolded from that.

Am I being a drama llama to compare the two events — an assassination and a fucked-up election? Possibly. In 1963, a sitting president was murdered — a shockingly violent act. The violence associated with the 2016 election has thus far been indirect and mostly out of sight: people dying of treatable diseases, hurricane victims left to fend for themselves, people brutalized by emboldened rogue cops, folks murdered by re-energized white supremacists, etc.

In the future, the 2016 election’s body count may very well be increased by women who die from back alley abortions, children silently poisoned by polluted water and air, cities drowned by rising seas, a higher suicide rate among LBGTQ youth and victims of a war John Bolton is itching to start. Horrific results are already here, and more definitely await us; only the magnitude is in question.

James Comey’s current halo-polishing tour inspired this depressing line of thought, specifically his struggle to explain his decision to insert himself into the election at critical inflection points, which arguably set the current nightmare into motion.

Among Comey’s rationales was his perceived need to counter Russian bullshit about Loretta Lynch controlling himself and the FBI on Clinton’s behalf. So, Comey was the biggest fly by far caught in the “fake news” web Putin’s operatives spun. We’ll live with the consequences of that, one way or another, for the rest of our days.

Maybe that’s why I’ve felt compelled to watch the bastard’s “aw shucks, I’m just a big ol’ Boy Scout” book tour. It’s horrifying and fascinating to watch him explain why he did what he did — kinda like watching the Zapruder film. You know the outcome is catastrophic. But you watch it anyway, wondering how things might have turned out differently, marveling that so much turned on such insignificant things, like one man’s massive ego.

Eh, fuck it — let’s watch something more pleasant, like these birds on my hanging feeder. They’re house finches, maybe?

That feeder hangs from a tree and is located about four feet from the window where my my workstation is. When we have high winds like we did the other day, I take the feeder down because I’m afraid it will start swinging hard enough to bust through my window — possibly with squirrels attached to it, which would obviously result in chaos.

Anyhoo, open thread?

I’m sure this is fine

Breaking news from The Post:

…Trump on Monday put the brakes on a preliminary plan to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia, walking back a Sunday announcement by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that the Kremlin had swiftly denounced as “international economic raiding.”

Preparations to punish Russia anew for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria caused consternation at the White House. Haley said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that sanctions on Russian companies behind the equipment related to Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attack would be announced Monday by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

But as officials in Moscow condemned the planned sanctions as overly punitive, Trump conferred with his national security advisers later Sunday and told them he was upset the sanctions were being officially rolled out because he was not yet comfortable executing them, according to several people familiar with the plan.

Gosh, why?

Bannon Slithers Back Onstage

In the Pompeo thread downstairs, the subject of Steve Bannon’s reemergence came up, which deserves its own thread, IMO. Last night, in an interview with Bob Costa, Maddow covered Bannon’s preposterous plan for Trump to fire Rosenstein and retroactively rescind administration officials’ testimony in the Mueller investigation. It’s a dumb plan, and it sounds more like Bannon trying to worm his way back into Trump’s good graces than a serious proposal.

But maybe Bannon is more motivated to save his own blotchy ass than Trump’s. Perhaps he’s panicking at Trump’s catastrophic tar-pit wallowing and perceives it will endanger himself and his patrons. The fact that Bannon is back in DC pitching absurd plots to folks in power is significant. As I alluded to in the thread below, I believe that if we ever get the whole story on Russia’s attack on our election, we’ll find that it was abetted wholeheartedly by Bannon and the Mercers.

We’ll find that undermining liberal democracies worldwide was always the Bannon-Mercer strategy, and that riling up Nazis and alt-right goons globally was their technique in service of this aim. I don’t mean to imply this is some startling new insight that I came up with just now while sitting here eating Cheerios. Y’all know this stuff, and I’m glad to have you to talk to about it, because I know I sound like a crackpot to my non-political junkie friends when it comes up. Read more

“Is this what Watergate was like?”

I had dinner with some teens and 20-somethings last night. Our phones were blowing up with news alerts about the raid on Michael Cohen’s office and residences and Trump’s reaction to those events, so the conversation turned to politics.

As the grizzled warhorse of the group, I was asked if this quickening investigation and presidential freak-out reminded me of Watergate. I indignantly reminded the assembled foals that I was too young at the time to really remember Watergate.

That’s true in one sense. My sister and I used to stomp off in a huff when we realized that the televised hearings would preempt our cartoons yet again. In those days, we only had four or five TV channels and one TV because dinosaurs.

But I do remember my mother’s excitement as she settled in front of the TV with an ashtray, fresh pack of smokes and cup of coffee. She hated Nixon’s guts and watched the Watergate hearings like they were the world’s juiciest soap opera.

Mom would try to explain what was going on in the hearings to us. I found her accounts of it fascinating — she was a good storyteller. But though I tried a time or two, I could not hold still to watch boring old white men droning endlessly on TV, and I often wondered how Mom harvested such startling examples of depravity and hubris from such fallow soil.

I don’t have to wonder what Mom would make of the current political situation. She died in 2014, but like all decent, conscientious, hardworking people who aren’t brainless dupes, Mom loathed the braggadocious conman Trump long before he ran for president.

Anyhoo, now I understand why Mom anticipated those hearings with such glee: It was the prospect of seeing lawless thugs who thought they were above the law brought low and held accountable.

We may not get a similar catharsis in our present age. The Republican Party is an order of magnitude more venal and amoral in 2018 than it was in Nixon’s day, and there is a large, well-funded media ecosystem devoted to obfuscation.

But think of Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s dismay as agents in blue FBI jackets swarmed his residences and office yesterday. A goon who has intimidated countless “escorts” and disgruntled employees and investors, Cohen likely imagined weaponizing federal law enforcement against Trump’s enemies, not staring down the business end himself.

As others have noted, it’s like Watergate, only dumber. I intend to enjoy the show this time.

Global Con

Well, we knew shady, fanatical oligarchs perpetrated a global plan to stoke bigotry and sow fear to subvert democracy, but this illustrates the con in a visceral way:

All out of can’ts to even.

PS: You can read the report here.

What if there ain’t no saint?

I wouldn’t mind having some of this Mueller iconography for my backyard bar, particularly the candles:

I don’t see it so much among the bitter cynics at this here blog, but Mueller’s legend as the Patron Saint of Justice who is poised to smite TrumpCo has reached epic proportions in some quarters. I wish they’d manage their expectations better.

Mueller seems like a straight shooter, but we should remember the man is a Republican. Anyone who remained a Republican through the Bush II and then Obama years is morally suspect in my book until they prove otherwise.

Even if Mr. Mueller possesses a store of integrity that is vanishingly rare among modern Republicans, it’s possible that his investigation will come to naught, either because there isn’t enough direct evidence to nail Trump and his current associates or because Trump’s toadies in the DOJ and congress manage to suppress the report.

I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here. Mueller’s investigation has already uncovered a storehouse of malfeasance and corruption that would mire any predecessor’s administration in scandal until the day it was turned out of office by angry voters. It says something about the lunacy abroad in the land that Trump can show his face in public anywhere without being pelted by rotting produce.

Maybe the indictments issued so far are just the beginning. Maybe the report alluded to in the news last night will provide impeachment fodder for a Democratic majority congress. I fervently hope Mueller is allowed to continue his work, and I hope he brings the whole astoundingly corrupt pack of grift-mavens down. This is just a reminder that we shouldn’t count on it.

Open thread!

PS: My phone is blowing up with alerts about Roger Stone claiming he “dined with Julian Assange” right before Wikileaks started publishing the DNC emails. Haven’t we known that for a while now? Maybe Mueller can figure out why Stone had advance knowledge about Al Franken’s troubles. If Trump-Russia explodes the myth of Roger Stone, that alone would rid the American body politic of its most prolific and loathsome political tick.