Daily Check-In 09/05/2018

Wednesday, September 5, 2018.  I’d like to apologize in advance.  I’m going on a trip the next couple days, and need to get things ready.  For that to happen and not be completely swamped, I said to myself “I could really use a slow news day.”

Me and my big mouth.

 

THE RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION

Jerome Corsi, a conspiracy theorist with links to both ex-Trump aide Roger Stone and Infowars host Alex Jones, has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., Friday as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, his attorney says.

Corsi, who has written such books as “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” and “Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump” will fully comply with the Mueller team’s subpoena, according to attorney David Gray.

 

Gray told NBC News he expects his client will be questioned about his contacts and communications with Stone.

Questions have long swirled about Stone’s possible interactions with WikiLeaks and hacker Guccifer 2.0 during the 2016 campaign, when both entities were releasing Democratic emails that had been hacked by Russian intelligence agents.

We’re up to about ten known associates of Roger Stone that have been requested to appear before a grand jury.  That’s quite a lot for a nothing burger.

An American political consultant who is cooperating with federal prosecutors and has admitted in court that he steered $50,000 from a Ukrainian politician to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee is among potential witnesses listed in the upcoming trial in Washington for Paul Manafort.

W. Samuel Patten pleaded guilty on Friday in federal court to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist while working on behalf of a Ukrainian political party.

On Wednesday, as part of pretrial activity in Washington, Patten’s name was among those of 120 people who might testify or be mentioned at the trial of Trump’s former campaign chairman set to open Sept. 24, according to court filings.

In his plea deal, Patten said he was helped by a Russian national who has been linked to Russian intelligence by U.S. prosecutors and who was also an associate of Manafort’s.

The list of people who may testify or be referred to includes many of the vendors, accountants and investigators who took the stand at the recently completed trial in Alexandria, Va., where Manafort was convicted of eight of 18 tax- and bank-fraud charges. But the list for the D.C. trial also includes 23 Ukrainian and four European politicians.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District warned attorneys for both sides to drop “unduly prejudicial” tactics they deployed in Virginia.

Jackson postponed ruling on the most contentious requests from the defense and prosecutors to exclude what they see as biasing evidence from the trial.

But in a two-hour-long hearing, Jackson said she followed reports from Manafort’s trial in Virginia and ordered both sides to avoid duplicating some approaches they took there.

 

THE ANONYMOUS OP ED

President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader.

It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall.

The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

I would know. I am one of them.

To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.

But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.

That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.

Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.

But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.

From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.

Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.

“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.

Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.

On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.

This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.

Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.

The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility

There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.

Well, that just fucking happened.  I’m not exactly sure who this was, and I honestly don’t want to know until till this shit is over.  Knowing who they are takes away from the spirit of the message, and that is that Trump is dangerous.  He’s so dangerous that the people that would normally do the boring work of running the government have to actively run interference for this douche taco.  He’s a clear and present danger to the republic.

Now, in a normal universe, with a not clearly insane person as President, people would have resigned en masse over this level of evil.  Instead, we haven’t seen that in this administration.  We haven’t had a long string of people leaving in protest.  Why?

Like I’ve said many times, if this were in a normal universe, those people leaving in protest would produce shame in the office holder.  There would be inquiries, hearings, and the person leaving in protest would be replaced with a qualified candidate capable of doing the job.

We’re not in a normal universe.  In TrumpWorld, the office holder is incapable of feeling shame.  The corrupt GOP will only hold hearings about Hilary’s email server, and that person that left would be replaced by a Trump sycophant.  For some positions that might not sound terrible, but what about important things like the National Security Council or the Secretary of Defense?  There have been half a dozen stories in the last 48 hours about Jim Mattis heading Trump off on starting wars with Iran, North Korea, China, Sudan, Canada, and the NFL.  Imagine if one of Trump’s yes men was in Mattis’s position when the order to assassinate Assad came through, or to preemptively attack North Korea.  We would be stuck in another needless war, and young people would be dying a meaningless death because a madman ordered it and no one said no.

Now, that does bring up another important point.  The job of the military is to follow the chain of command and execute all lawful orders of the Commander In Chief.  Notice the word lawful?  We’ve never had senior staff members flat out ignore the orders of a President before, but we’ve also never had a bad, mad President before.  We’ve had bad Presidents (Buchanan, Pierce, Wilson) and we’ve had mad Presidents (Jackson, Johnson, Nixon), but we’ve never had both.  Earlier tonight with my wife I compared Trump to Joffrey, but then I had to retract it because a Lannister, unlike a Trump, always pays their debts.

 

WOODWARD

This side of the n-word, “dumb Southerner” is maybe the most impactful epithet you can throw at someone in the South. “Mentally retarded,” another term Trump reportedly used to describe Sessions, is also high on the list. Trump has since tweeted a denial of using either term.
Calling Southerners some version of dumb is so effective that even Southerners do it to get under each other’s skin.
It stings us all, black and white. We are tired of having to remind people that we don’t “talk different” any more than do Bostonians or Bronx residents, that the pace of the words that flow from our mouths is not indicative of the intellectual activity taking place inside our heads.
That’s why even Trump ally Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, said “I resent that” when asked about Trump’s use of the epithet.
A version of the slur was used in 2000 by a high-profile South Carolina state senator, Arthur Ravenel, for whom one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in North America is named, because the National Association of Colored People initiated an economic boycott of South Carolina to protest the flying of the Confederate flag at the Statehouse.

President Trump is livid at the betrayal and stunning allegations in Bob Woodward’s forthcoming “Fear,” but limited in his ability to fight back because most of the interviews were caught on hundreds of hours of tape, officials tell Axios.

The big picture: The book, out Tuesday from Simon & Schuster, re-creates — verbatim — page after page of private conversations with him. The 420-page portrait is all the more damaging because many of the scenes concern foreign policy and national security — truly heavy stuff.

Some choice cuts, reflecting the way administration officials and alumni depicted Trump to Woodward:

  • Trump to James Clapper, then Director of National Intelligence, who briefed him at Trump Tower during the transition on the intelligence community’s findings that Putin had interfered in the election: “l don’t believe in human sources … These are people who have sold their souls and sold out their country … I don’t trust human intelligence and these spies.”
  • Defense Secretary James Mattis, to laughter, a month after Trump took office: “Secretaries of Defense don’t always get to choose the president they work for.”
  • Trump to Tom Bossert, the president’s adviser for homeland security, cyber security and counterterrorism, who asked Trump if he had a minute: “I want to watch the Masters. … You and your cyber … are going to get me in a war — with all your cyber shit.”
  • “Trump was given a Reader’s Digest version of the Hezbollah briefing.”
  • Stephen Miller to Reince Priebus after Trump had ordered his first chief of staff to get the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “We’re in real trouble. Because if you don’t get the resignation, he’s going to think you’re weak. If you get it, you’re going to be part of a downward-spiral calamity.”

“Trump was editing an upcoming speech with [then-staff secretary Rob] Porter. Scribbling his thoughts in neat, clean penmanship, the president wrote, ‘TRADE IS BAD.'”

  • Former White House economic adviser Gary Cohn told Trump: “You have a Norman Rockwell view of America.”
  • “Several times Cohn just asked the president, ‘Why do you have these views [on trade]?’ ‘I just do,’ Trump replied. ‘I’ve had these views for 30 years.’ ‘That doesn’t mean they’re right,’ Cohn said. ‘I had the view for 15 years I could play professional football. It doesn’t mean I was right.'”

The book’s last paragraph: “[I]n the man and his presidency [former Trump lawyer John] Dowd had seen the tragic flaw. In the political back-and-forth, the evasions, the denials, the tweeting, the obscuring, crying ‘Fake News,’ the indignation, Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to say to the president: ‘You’re a f@#$ing liar.'”

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis lashed out at Sean Spicer after the former White House press secretary repeatedly tried to get him to go on Sunday-morning talk shows, according to the journalist Bob Woodward’s soon-to-be-released book, a partial passage of which was tweeted by an Associated Press reporter on Tuesday.

Spicer apparently tried numerous times to get the secretary of defense to go on television, finally causing an exasperated Mattis to respond with a statement far clearer than a simple “no.”

“Sean,” Mattis said, according to the excerpt of the book, “Fear,” tweeted by the AP’s Zeke Miller. “I’ve killed people for a living. If you call me again, I’m going to f—ing send you to Afghanistan. Are we clear?”

 

 

SCOTUS

 

TRUMP THE RUSSIAN ASSET

 

TRAITOR TOTS

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) may have illegally spent campaign funds on at least five women who are not his wife — whom he has blamed for financial wrongdoing that has gotten them both indicted.

The California Republican and his wife Margaret were indicted last month on 60 counts related to spending more than $250,000 in campaign cash on themselves, but prosecutors say the “family values” lawmaker may have spent some of that on women with whom he was having a “personal relationship,” reported The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The Hunters overdrew their bank account more than 1,100 times in seven years and were penalized nearly $38,000 in overdraft and other fees, and they also maxed out their credit cards and were hit with about $24,600 in fees and penalties.

Prosecutors say the congressman spent some of the campaign money on five individuals living in Washington, D.C.

Defense attorney Gregory Vega wrote a letter to the Department of Justice complaining that prosecutors had notified him that they have photos of an intoxicated Hunter and some of those women.

“While there may be evidence of infidelity, irresponsibility or alcohol dependence, once properly understood, the underlying facts do not equate to criminal activity,” Vega wrote.

Politico reported in February that Hunter had a reputation for partying and that federal investigators had been eyeing his activities, but the 41-year-old Hunter dismissed the reports as “tabloid trash.”

Hunter and then President Donald Trump have blamed the indictment on partisan bias, without any proof, within the Department of Justice intended to sway the midterm elections.

 

FIGHTING BACK

 

IMMIGRATION

 

COLD WAR 2.0

 

#NEVERAGAIN

 

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE

 

WHITE HOUSE CHAOS

 

TRADE WAR AND ECONOMY

 

GOP: THE PARTY OF LINCOLN IS DEAD

 

ILLINOIS

 

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

 

ELECTION 2018

 

PROGRESS IS PROGRESS

 

RUMOR MILL

 

That’s it for today.  And I’m back to posting an article on time, at least for tonight.

Like I said earlier, I’ll be traveling for the next couple days.  While I’ll still keep track of the developing news, I might not be able to get a post up for Thursday and Friday.  Worst case scenario, I’ll have something up on Saturday covering both days.  Or, I’ll change the format if I don’t have time to do a full post.

Now that I’ve said that I’ll be busy, watch the Cabinet push for the 25th Amendment or New York state put out a warrant for Donnie Jr., or Putin orders the Pee Tape to be released.  If any of those happen, I apologize in advance.

 

Thank you, and have a good one.

 

“Without Journalists, it’s just propaganda.”

– Katy Tur

 

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