Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Trump's Big CON: "Making Ignorance Great Again"

"Donald Trump just took us out of the Paris climate accord for no good reason. I don’t mean that his decision was wrong. I mean, literally, that he didn’t offer any substantive justification for that decision. Oh, he threw around a few numbers about supposed job losses, but nobody believes that he knows or cares where those numbers came from. It was just what he felt like doing.

And here’s the thing: What just happened on climate isn’t an unusual case — and Trump isn’t especially unusual for a modern Republican. For today’s G.O.P. doesn’t do substance; it doesn’t assemble evidence, or do analysis to formulate or even to justify its policy positions. Facts and hard thinking aren’t wanted, and anyone who tries to bring such things into the discussion is the enemy.

Consider another huge policy area, health care. . .

[Republicans] don’t study issues, they just decide, and attack the motives of anyone who questions their decisions. . .

On climate change, influential conservatives have for years clung to what is basically a crazy conspiracy theory — that the overwhelming scientific consensus that the earth is warming due to greenhouse-gas emissions is a hoax, somehow coordinated by thousands of researchers around the world. And at this point this is effectively the mainstream Republican position.

Do G.O.P. leaders really think this conspiracy theory is true? The answer, surely, is that they don’t care. Truth, as something that exists apart from and in possible opposition to political convenience, is no longer part of their philosophical universe. . .

And as health care and climate go, so goes everything else. Can you think of any major policy area where the G.O.P. hasn’t gone post-truth? Take budgeting, . . .

The president, backed by his party, is talking nonsense, destroying American credibility day by day. But hey, stocks are up, so what’s the problem?

Well, bear in mind that so far Trump hasn’t faced a single crisis not of his own making. As George Orwell noted many years ago in his essay 'In Front of Your Nose,' people can indeed talk nonsense for a very long time, without paying an obvious price. But 'sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.' Now there’s a happy thought."

Read The New York Times, Making Ignorance Great Again.

Trump's Big CON: The Comey Conspiracy and Russian Agent Coverup by the Republi-CON Party (CONt.)

UPDATE IV:  The nation’s top intelligence official told associates in March that President Trump asked him if he could intervene with then-FBI Director James B. Comey to get the bureau to back off its focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in its Russia probe, according to officials. . .

The events involving Coats show the president went further than just asking intelligence officials to deny publicly the existence of any evidence showing collusion during the 2016 election, as The Washington Post reported in May. The interaction with Coats indicates that Trump aimed to enlist top officials to have Comey curtail the bureau’s probe. . .

A day or two after the March 22 meeting, the president followed up with a phone call to Coats, according to officials familiar with the discussions. In the call, Trump asked Coats to issue a public statement denying the existence of any evidence of coordination between his campaign and the Russian government. Again, Coats decided not to act on the request.

Trump similarly approached Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to ask him to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of coordination, as The Post previously reported, according to current and former officials. Like Coats, Rogers refused to comply with the president’s request.

Trump announced in January that he was nominating Coats to serve as director of national intelligence, responsible for overseeing U.S. intelligence agencies and for briefing the president on global developments.

In February, as tensions flared between intelligence agencies and the White House over Russia and other issues, some of Trump’s advisers floated the idea of appointing a New York billionaire, Stephen A. Feinberg, to undertake a review of the ODNI. . .

Some officials said they viewed the prospective appointment of Feinberg as an effort by White House officials to put pressure on intelligence agencies to close ranks with the White House.

Read the Washington Post, Top intelligence official told associates Trump asked him if he could intervene with Comey on FBI Russia probe.

Read also the Washington Post, Why the latest Russia news paints an increasingly grim picture for Trump, which asks:

"[W]hy did Trump feel so strongly about getting Flynn off the hook? . .

[I]t's worth noting that Trump is a notoriously fickle political operator with few true friends and bulletproof advisers. He dispatched two of his chief campaign aides — Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort — when it suited him. And as president he has made pretty clear his unhappiness with top adviser Stephen K. Bannon and even, according to reports this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was way out front of almost every other congressional Republican in supporting Trump’s candidacy. He's also distanced himself from longtime political confidant Roger Stone.

Put plainly: The president known for his 'You're fired' catchphrase as a reality TV star hasn't exactly shown that excessive loyalty is among his chief faults. Could he perhaps be uniquely loyal to Flynn for some reason? . .

If Trump isn't burdened by some strangely large amount of loyalty to Flynn, that suggests he worries about what could come of an investigation into Flynn. . .

Tuesday night's report is the latest brushstroke in what, through Trump's own doing, looks more and more like a cover-up."

And read the Washington Post, The fall of Michael Flynn: A timeline.

UPDATE III:  "Former CIA director John Brennan testified May 23 before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about Russia’s influence on the 2016 presidential election. . . 

'I know what the Russians try to do,' Brennan said. 'They try to suborn individuals and they try to get individuals, including U.S. persons, to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.' . .

He added that Russian agencies routinely seek to gather compromising information, or 'kompromat,' to coerce treason from U.S. officials who 'do not even realize they are on that path until it gets too late.' The remark appeared to be in reference to Flynn."

Read the Washington Post, CIA director alerted FBI to pattern of contacts between Russian officials and Trump campaign associates.

UPDATE II:  "This new scoop is hugely significant because it suggests a concerted, multi-front effort by the president and top White House staff to rein in an FBI investigation in the months before Trump fired Comey."

Read the Washington Post, Comey was not the only official to resist Trump entreaties.

UPDATE:  "President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.

Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election. . .

White House officials say Comey’s testimony about the scope of the FBI investigation upset Trump, who has dismissed the FBI and congressional investigations as a 'witch hunt.' The president has repeatedly said there was no collusion.

Current and former senior intelligence officials viewed Trump’s requests as an attempt by the president to tarnish the credibility of the agency leading the Russia investigation.

A senior intelligence official said Trump’s goal was to 'muddy the waters' about the scope of the FBI probe at a time when Democrats were ramping up their calls for the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel, a step announced last week.

Senior intelligence officials also saw the March requests as a threat to the independence of U.S. spy agencies, which are supposed to remain insulated from partisan issues.

'The problem wasn’t so much asking them to issue statements, it was asking them to issue false statements about an ongoing investigation,' a former senior intelligence official said of the request to Coats. . .

In addition to the requests to Coats and Rogers, senior White House officials sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly with Comey to encourage the FBI to drop its probe of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, according to people familiar with the matter. . .

Current and former officials said that Trump either lacks an understanding of the FBI’s role as an independent law enforcement agency or does not care about maintaining such boundaries.

Trump’s effort to use the director of national intelligence and the NSA director to dispute Comey’s statement and to say there was no evidence of collusion echoes President Richard Nixon’s 'unsuccessful efforts to use the CIA to shut down the FBI’s investigation of the Watergate break-in on national security grounds,' said Jeffrey H. Smith, a former general counsel at the CIA. Smith called Trump’s actions 'an appalling abuse of power.'"

Read the Washington Post, Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence.

As I noted before, Trump is trying to hide that he is a Russian agent, he "may be an unwitting agent, but Putin has the kompromat to control Trump, and Trump knows it since he knows his own compromising financial and personal information."

And the more the FBI learns, the more it appears, there was nothing unwitting about it.

At the very least, Trump has been helping Russian mobsters launder dirty money.

Now read the Washington Post, House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump, which reports that:

After the comment was made, "House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy. . .

When initially asked to comment on the exchange, Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Ryan, said: 'That never happened,' and Matt Sparks, a spokesman for McCarthy, said: 'The idea that McCarthy would assert this is absurd and false.'

After being told that The Post would cite a recording of the exchange, Buck, speaking for the GOP House leadership, said: 'This entire year-old exchange was clearly an attempt at humor.'"

The article includes a transcripts of a recording of the conversation, and explains how it happened.

Read also:

Reuters, Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians: sources, and

McClatchy DC Bureau, Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed – after being paid as its agent, and

Watch McClatchy DC Bureau, The web connecting the Trump administration to Russia .

And read also Trump's Big CON: The Comey Conspiracy and Russian Agent Coverup.