Friday, November 3, 2017

Trump's Big CON: The Donald is a Russian Agent, CONt. Part 4 (Why Are He, "His" Party, and "His" Propaganda News Friends So Worried?)

UPDATE X:  Trump is really worried about and afraid of the Russian investigation, and he and his supporters are working vigorously to stop it or at the very least discredit it.


Because Putin has the kompromat to control Trump, and Trump knows it since he knows his own compromising financial and personal information.

Read the Washington Post, In new interview, Trump openly rages at checks on his authoritarianism, which show how much Trump wishes he were a dictator, free to lock up critics and opponents.

Read also the Washington Post, Why is Trump so obsessed with Russia? We’re finally going to find out.

My guess, it is worse than compromising financial information, those salacious stories in the ‘Steele Dossier’ might even be true!

UPDATE IX: ANOTHER MUST READ, the Washington Post, To what circle of hell are Republicans about to consign themselves?, which states in substantial part:

"At our political costume ball, it is definitely ’90s nostalgia night. A president obsessed with attacking all things Clinton stands accused of serial sexual harassment, sends out underlings to dismiss the accusers as liars, condemns a federal investigation as a politically motivated fraud and is attempting to destroy the reputation of the leader of that investigation. Hillary Clinton may be President Trump’s continuing target, but the Clinton years are clearly his inspiration.

It worked the first time around. In President Bill Clinton’s case, the Democratic Party almost uniformly honored tribal loyalties above legal or moral principle. Even the feminist left generally fell into line for partisan reasons. 'American women,' said columnist Nina Burleigh, 'should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.' What is a little sexual misconduct and obstruction of justice among friends when legal abortion is at stake?

Now Trump appeals to the same type of team solidarity, this time on the right. “The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics,” tweeted Trump, “but the R’s are now fighting back like never before.” Note how a federal investigation of Russian influence on American democracy has become “the Dems.” Note also that it is not the president and his lawyers fighting this investigation but the “R’s.” Trump is conditioning Republicans and conservatives to view his upcoming legal defense entirely through the lens of partisanship. With the broad cooperation of conservative media, there is every reason to think he might succeed.

Trump’s ultimate objective in all this matters greatly. If he wants to recruit Republicans into a defense of the shady political and business dealings of Paul Manafort and the rest of the president’s political circle — now exposed by federal indictment — it will be discrediting and humiliating. A party that rallies to the defense of corruption will eventually be seen as a swamp in need of clearing.

As the indictments begin to come down, Republicans need to ponder what legal and ethical lines, if any, they are willing to draw. Continuing the attacks on Hillary Clinton’s own dishonest dealings is all fun and games (except to Clinton, I suppose). Joining the defense of slimy political figures such as Manafort makes one, ceteris paribus, into a slimy political figure. Obscuring or excusing Russian influence on the American political process is a dangerous disservice to the country. Supporting Trump in a power play against the special prosecutor and his investigation would be an attack on the stability and legitimacy of the Republic — a source of infamy in American history. . .

It is worth making clear that every conservative media voice — including, recently, the editorial voice of the Wall Street Journal — that attacks the objectivity and legitimacy of Mueller is giving Trump cover and encouragement to move against him. They are dropping lit matches in the dry tinder of American politics. And they would be responsible, in part, for the resulting wildfire.

Do Republicans and conservatives really want to be remembered as a bodyguard of enablers for this man? For this cause? Few enter the fray of political ideas, or make the considerable sacrifices of entering public life, to defend corruption and the abuse of power. That is now the calling of the Republican partisan, and the downward path of dishonor."

So, 'what legal and ethical lines, if any, the Republi-CONs are willing to draw'?

Think back to Watergate.

UPDATE VIII:  "Look at the whole story and tell me this isn't suspicious. . .

The Trump campaign was filled with operatives connected in shady ways to the Russian government. It included individuals who knew that the Russians had obtained Clinton-related emails and who lied about that knowledge to federal investigators. Top campaign officials (and Trump family members) dropped everything to meet with Russian operatives when they believed there was useful opposition research on offer. Trump publicly asked Russia to hack into Clinton’s computers to find and release her missing emails.

We also know the Russians really did hack into John Podesta’s and the DNC’s email accounts and found and released emails that damaged Clinton. They really did conduct social media operations designed help Trump. Both their targets and their timing were extremely sophisticated for a foreign government that has traditionally shown itself to have a poor understanding of American politics. After winning the White House, Trump attacked the CIA and fired the director of the FBI in an effort to discredit or end their investigations into Russia’s role in the election.

At this point, it would be a truly remarkable coincidence if two entities that had so many ties to each other, that had so much information about what the other was doing, and that were working so hard toward the same goal never found a way to coordinate."

Read Vox, It sure looks like there was collusion between the Trump operation and Russia.

UPDATE VII:  And The Donald and his Propaganda News, AKA Hedgehog News, are really, really worried.

Read the Washington Post, The Fox News-cum-Murdoch effect: Mueller must resign! Or be fired!

UPDATE VI: Of course, given The Donald's intense desire to win at all cost, it is possible that he and/or those very, very, very close to him knowingly and actively colluded with Putin to win the election.

Read the Washington Post, How bad will Mueller probe get for Trump? The Papadopoulos plea may be a big tell., which notes:

"While the biggest news of the day is the indictments Robert S. Mueller III has handed down against former Trump aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, today he also released a plea bargain with a heretofore minor figure in the Russia scandal by the name of George Papadopoulos. And that could actually be the day’s biggest news. . .

Who does Papadopoulos have information on? We don’t know. The plea document mentions his discussions (his efforts to set up a meeting with the Russians) with people who are referred to as 'Senior Policy Adviser,' 'Campaign Supervisor,' and 'High-Ranking Campaign Official,' but we don’t know who those are. Then there’s this:

    On or about May 4, 2016, the Russian MFA Connection sent an email (the 'May 4 MFA Email') to defendant PAPADOPOULOS and the Professor that stated: 'I have just talked to my colleagues from the MFA. The[y] are open for cooperation. One of the options is to make a meeting for you at the North America Desk, if you are in Moscow.' Defendant PAPADOPOULOS responded that he was '[g]lad the MFA is interested.' Defendant PAPADOPOULOS forwarded the May 4 MFA Email to the High-Ranking Campaign Official, adding: 'What do you think? Is this something we want to move forward with?' The next day, on or about May 5, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS had a phone call with the Campaign Supervisor, and then forwarded the May 4 MFA Email to him, adding to the top of the email: 'Russia updates.'

This exchange happened not long before Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner had their infamous meeting with representatives of the Russian government who purportedly had damaging information on Clinton to offer. Given that context, it seems rather unlikely that Papadopoulos would not have mentioned the possibility that the Russians had of 'dirt' on Clinton contained in 'thousands of emails.' But we don’t yet know for sure.

What we do know is that the prosecutors believe that Papadopoulos’ information will be valuable to them in building a case against others. Manafort, on the other hand, is not cooperating — at least not yet. . .

If Manfort is going to flip, there are only so many people he could flip on who are closer to the center of whatever happened than he was. That could include Jared Kushner, perhaps Donald Trump Jr., and of course President Trump himself.

But right now, Papadopoulos is the one who is providing Mueller an entry into the heart of the Trump campaign and its relationship to Russia. Which is why McQuade says, 'That one, because of its relevance to that larger question, strikes me as maybe the more important development today.' And this is just getting started."

One hint that this is possible -- The Donald doth protest too much, methinks.

UPDATE V:  As I said early on, The Donald is a Russian agent, perhaps he was originally 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.

Those salacious stories in the ‘Steele Dossier’ might even be true!

"Like a poker player whose flagrant tell gives him away, President Donald Trump telegraphed a twitchy bit of direction to Trump Tower scandal-watchers this week. Or was it indirection? After the founder of the oppo-research company Fusion GPS that commissioned the infamous Steele Dossier told the House Intelligence Committee he would take the Fifth Amendment if subpoenaed to testify, Trump responded with a brain-bender of a tweet that thrust the dossier to the center of the stage again.

'Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?' Trump's tweet said.

Like many Trump tweets, it proved more difficult to untangle than a mound of last night's dried out spaghetti. Why was Trump screaming about the dossier now? Does he sense that investigators are closing in on him and he needs to divert them? BuzzFeed published the 35-page smutty and salacious document, which purports that the Russians had compromised Trump personally and financially, more than nine months ago. Was it because the dossier had floated back into the news because Fusion GPS's Glenn Simpson had refused to testify and Trump's a reflexive beast? Or because he worries that the investigations may be used to unlock his secrets? Or is it just a new tactic in his campaign to undercut its origin?

Trump may claim that the contents of the dossier have been discredited, but as Reuters' Mark Hosenball wrote last week, elements of the dossier may have been denied but none of it has been disproved. Trump reliably affixes the "fake" label to every utterance he dislikes or finds threatening, and the dossier abounds with potentially damaging assertions like, 'Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years.' By jumping up and down with the fury of a Yosemite Sam, is Trump really confirming the accuracy and potency of the dossier?"

Read Politico, Trump Singes Fingers Trying to Torch Dossier.

UPDATE IV:  In the investigation of  "Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential campaign . . . three facts are both important and undisputed . . .

Trump’s family and the top echelons of the campaign hoped that a meeting with well-connected Russians would yield dirt on Clinton. The Trump White House dissembled on the purpose of this meeting. And Trump admitted that the primary reason he fired the FBI director was because of the Russia investigation.

These are the facts of the case, and they are not in dispute."

Read the Washington Post, These are the facts of the Russia investigation, and they are not in dispute.

I would add, Putin didn't want Clinton as president, he wanted The Donald.

UPDATE III:  "President Trump and his surrogates — most especially the Fox News lineup (which includes a fleet of conservative pundits who disgrace themselves by facilitating a political distraction game for Trump), obsequious Republicans in Congress, old allies such as Roger Stone (who wound up getting banned by Twitter) and the talk radio crowd — have been frantically fanning Hillary Clinton non-scandals about Uranium One (it was baseless before and baseless now) and the dossier’s funder. (Fusion GPS initially was hired by the conservative Free Beacon, which at one time claimed not to know the identity of the Republican outfit that first hired Fusion.) The unhinged rants from Trump’s defenders demanding Clinton be locked up for one or both of these reveal how tightly Trump and the right-wing ecosystem that supports him rely on Clinton as an all-purpose distraction.

Upon a moment’s reflection, the non-scandals make no sense (Clinton was colluding with Russia to beat herself in the election?), have been debunked before and in no way affect the liability, if any, of current or ex-Trump administration figures. This is “whataboutism” run amok. It does expose the degree to which Fox News has given up the pretense of a real news organization, preferring the role of state propagandist. (And it’s not just the evening hosts; the non-scandals now monopolize the rest of the schedule.)

The intensity of Trump’s frenzy underscores the peril in which the president now finds himself. Beyond the indictments unsealed this morning, Trump does not know what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has uncovered; which witnesses are flippable; what financial documents have revealed about the Trump business empire; and whether, for example, Mueller finds support for an obstruction of justice charge from Trump’s own public dissembling (e.g., hinting at non-existent tapes of former FBI director James B. Comey). For someone who insists on holding all the cards and intimidating others, Trump finds himself in a uniquely powerless position."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s meltdown in anticipation of indictments is telling.

UPDATE II: What is The Donald hiding?

We may soon find out.

Read the Washington Post, Indictments signal the beginning of Mueller’s work, not the end

UPDATE: The RepubliCONs are engaged in a "careful, coordinated, and comprehensive strategy" hoping you ignore and forget the "Russian interference in the 2016 election, which it is more than clear was 1) comprehensive, involving hacking, propaganda, and outreach to Trump representatives; and 2) clearly intended to help Donald Trump win the election, or at the very least wound Hillary Clinton should she become president. . .

It has three essential components. The first is the cranking up of the conservative calliope: all of the right’s information sources, from Fox News to conservative talk radio to web sites like Breitbart and Drudge, immediately begin shouting about the same story and repeating the same line. Then to keep it going and force mainstream media to cover it, they create an official 'investigation' that will provide a steady stream of tantalizing leaks and events that can become the occasion of news coverage, even if it all ends up proving nothing. Then the whole narrative gets validated by top-level Republicans whose words are news in and of themselves.

All of these components are now in motion. Fox and the other outlets are doing hour after hour of discussion about what they are calling the 'Russia dossier,' an opposition research document prepared for Democrats that gathered together facts and rumors about Trump’s dealings in Russia (I explained why their line on this document is so bogus here). Now that story is being joined to absurd charges about the sale of a uranium mining company, with all kinds of dark allegations of corruption."

Read the Washington Post, The GOP strategy on the Russia scandal: ‘No puppet. You’re the puppet.’
"There may be no talent the Republican Party and the conservative movement have that is more astounding than the way they are able to take a ludicrous idea with zero relationship to actual facts, light a fuse on it, and turn it into an explosive firework of spin that manages to confuse everyone who tries to look at the issue that started the whole controversy. . .

The most Clinton did was hire an opposition researcher who interviewed sources he knew in Russia to see if her opponent had engaged in any questionable activities there. We don’t even know if she (or anyone else on her staff) even read Steele’s report, since he was a few steps removed from the campaign. Nothing about that even remotely resembles 'collusion with Russia.'" [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, GOP spin about the new ‘Steele Dossier’ story is disingenuous nonsense.

Trump's Big CON: He Can't Close the Deal, CONt.

UPDATE:  "If there's one thing both parties in Congress can agree on, it's this: President Trump, who bills himself as the ultimate dealmaker, is not a very trustworthy one.

That's an unpleasant reality for Republicans as they begin a make-or-break effort to try to rewrite the tax code. They have no margin for error, procedurally or politically, and they need a president who can help persuade reluctant lawmakers to get on board.

Instead, they have a president they don't trust to stick to his word. Trump's actions lately have solidified that. . .

When Congress failed on health care, Trump blamed Congress. If Congress can't pass a tax bill, Trump probably will blame Congress. But that defies reality, Congress argues. Congress takes big steps only with a push from outside. . .

History tells us presidents without a working relationship with Congress don't get a lot done: No modern president who has struggled in the first 100 days of a presidency has suddenly revved up in the next 100 days, or in the next couple of years, says Robert David Johnson, a presidential historian at Brooklyn College. Presidents can't execute their agenda on their own.

As I wrote at Trump's 100-day mark: Every day it gets more difficult to work with Congress. Every day is a day closer to the 2018 midterm elections, when vulnerable Republicans may not want to be seen compromising with an unpopular president.

If the president has proved anything, it's that he has no allegiance to any deal he makes. That makes members of Congress's lives miserable, but it also threatens to derail Trump's agenda."

Read the Washington Post, The art of the unreliable deal: Trump’s bad-faith negotiating could undermine the GOP’s agenda, and his own.

"President Trump campaigned as one of the world’s greatest dealmakers, but after nine months of struggling to broker agreements, lawmakers in both parties increasingly consider him an untrustworthy, chronically inconsistent and easily distracted negotiator .

As Trump prepares to visit Capitol Hill on Tuesday to unify his party ahead of a high-stakes season of votes on tax cuts and budget measures, some Republicans are openly questioning his negotiating abilities and devising strategies to keep him from changing his mind.

The president’s propensity to create diversions and follow tangents has kept him from focusing on his legislative agenda and forced lawmakers who might be natural allies on key policies into the uncomfortable position of having to answer for his behavior and outbursts. . .

If the absence of any signature legislation is an indication, the dealmaking skills that propelled Trump’s career in real estate and reality television have not translated well to government.

Tony Schwartz, a longtime student and now critic of Trump who co-wrote the mogul’s 1987 bestseller 'The Art of the Deal,' said Trump’s dealmaking modus operandi is, 'I am relentless and I am not burdened by the concern that what I’m doing is ethical or truthful or fair.'

'The expectation that you will stand by what you said you would do is higher in politics than it is in the cutthroat world of real estate,' Schwartz added. 'That’s a brutal environment in which misdirection and bullying and making one offer and changing it later are all common practice.' . .

Schwartz said playing to Trump’s ego, as [Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.)] has with his golf compliments, is an effective way to manage him. His advice to those seeking to make deals with Trump: Find the most persuasive way to portray one’s agenda as a personal victory for the president, and be the last person to talk to him.

'Trump is motivated by the same concern in all situations, which is to dominate and to be perceived as having won,' Schwartz said. 'That supersedes everything, including ideology.'"

Read the Washington Post, The great dealmaker? Lawmakers find Trump to be an untrustworthy negotiator.

The Donald can't close a deal because being a bully is not very smart.