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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

MSNBC Journal, Feb 21

Weds Feb 21
Maddow
I thought I might get a break today from notes, but no. Fox News is agitating for Michael Flynn to withdraw his guilty plea. They say it was a mistake. The judge in Flynn’s case just issued an order that the prosecutors must turn over any evidence in the case to Mike Flynn’s attorneys if it might be favorable to his case. This is the 2nd time that the judge issued that reminder.
Chuck Rosenberg:  There are probably new charges or a new defendant. We’ll probably see what it means soon. What the right is saying is “much ado about nothing.” In every case, the judge will remind the prosecutors of this. There’s nothing to it. There’s no indication that the prosecutors have misbehaved, or that Flynn wants to withdraw his guilty plea. It’s hard to do.
The fact that van der Zwaan doesn’t want to cooperate, doesn’t mean they can’t get information from him after he has been sentenced. They can freeze any other charges against him and compel him to cooperate.
A new sealed filing (one page) against Manafort and Gates. That binder is being watched by journalists “like hawks watch mice,” because it indicates something new is afoot.
Miami Herald said that the demonstration of High School kids was the largest there in 20 years. It was huge, but there were demonstrations of HS kids all over. [For Congress to ignore these kids, they must have hearts of stone.] The FL GOP is extreme and pro-gun. Rick Scott said he will propose a package of reforms by Friday, but they will probably be modest. Without these demonstrations, there would be no chance at all for any reform “in this gun-shaped state.” They are reminding politicians that many of them are 18 or close to it, and they will VOTE.
At the federal level, Trump’s suggestions are pretty impractical. He has said we need to ban bump stocks and strengthen background checks. But Trump has a way of waffling. Trump has done a lot to weaken background checks. Felons and people adjudicated mentally ill can get guns. They slashed millions of dollars from the background check system. Last night, Trump said he would ask the DOJ to come up with regulations for assault weapons. The Dems have been asking for 5 years for regulations against bump stocks or trigger cranks or other accessories, but the DOJ has said that Congress has to do that. So why is Trump asking DOJ to do it? Rachel:  Watch what they do and not what they say.
Video of HS student sharing his story in WH with Trump there. Very eloquent. He passed the mic to a mom who lost her 6 year old at Sandy Hook. Trump at least pretended to listen, but then he suggested arming teachers. The Rachel interviewed that mom, Nicole Hockley, manager of Sandy Hook Promise, a pro-regulation organization.  
The transcript for the court hearing for van der Zwaan came out today. He plead guilty, but did not agree to cooperate with prosecutors. His Russian in-law family may have a little something to do with that. There have been questions raised as to whether Alfa Bank had anything to do with the Russian interference.

About the US State Dept story where they said, “Go ask Russia.” Well, before Obama left office, when he was detailing his sanctions, he named 4 individuals from the GRU who participated in the attack. That included the head of the GRU. But at the end of last month, Russia’s Twitter account bragged that Sergey Naryshkin, the director of foreign intelligence (the SVR), “has visited the US for consultation with US counterparts on the struggle against terrorism.” After that, our news agencies began to report that he came with the head of the FSB. Odd that they all came at once. Odd that we had to learn of it from the Kremlin. Odd that 2 of the 3 are sanctioned and can’t get there without some kind of pass. The SVR guy was sanctioned, but we know what he was doing, so he obviously got some kind of waiver. So today a senior US official said, “Reports that the GRU head was in the United States are inaccurate.” TRMS did reach out to the Russian embassy in the US, but they haven’t answered. WP and Reuters and others reported that he was here. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

MSNBC Journal, Feb 20

Tues Feb 20
A new indictment dropped today, so now there are 19 indictments and 4 guilty pleas. Alex van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Rick Gates and Person A. There is a Ukrainian connection, funding, lying to the FBI, and destroying evidence. His father-in-law is a Russian oligarch connected with Alfa Bank. That in-law is suing Buzzfeed for publishing the Steele dossier last year and mentioning the bank.
Today SHS ran another typical press briefing. Trump says bizarre false stuff, all of which is the opposite of reality, and she tries to make it sound sane. No one buys it. Watching her is like “1984” in real life.
Trump still has not imposed sanctions.
Two organizations never leak:  SCOTUS and Team Mueller. When Mueller moves, it’s like a bomb going off. Don McGahn should grab a clue here.
Malcolm Nance, fmr Naval Intel:  They must be trying to connect Manafort as an agent of Russia…in the worst sense of the word. It’s not a matter of collusion, but conspiracy. Was Manafort an asset or an actual foreign agent? Was it all to influence Trump’s campaign for the benefit of Russia.
It is clear today that Jared Kushner will not be impacted by Kelly’s memo. He will work with no pretense of a clearance. Carol Leonnig, WP, says here is an opportunity for Kushner to bow out. How could you do anything in the WH without one? The Daily Briefing has serious information in it that could do great damage if shared inappropriately. [I predict that the WH will do nothing and GOP will do nothing.]
Ten members of the NSC have interim clearances. Kushner, Ivanka, and McGahn. 47 Wh employees without clearances report directly to the president. [Where is the GOP outrage? Where is Paul Ryan’s great leadership? Why isn’t Mitch McConnell angry about this? What the hell happened to the Democrat response to the Nunes memo? Why no headline about Our President handling sensitive intel in a lackadaisical manner on The Elijah List?]
There is a circumstantial case that Jared will never get a security clearance. His interim expires next week.
A woman named Rachel Crooks said that Trump cornered her in an elevator bank in 2006 and pushed himself on her with questions and kisses. It was not welcome. Trump denies it. She said it lasted 2 minutes. Jess McIntosh, fmr HRC aide:  The first 18 women to accuse Trump now have a support network to catch them. When Crooks spoke out, there was no #metoo movement. She is running for office now. Another woman running in Ky flipped a seat that Trump won by a big margin in 2016. She ran at that time and lost, but then recently ran again and won by a large margin.
The CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) is meeting this week in Maryland. Trump, Pence, Sean Hannity, and the niece of Marine Le Pen will be speakers. [What a rogue’s gallery they are. Like characters from Alice in Wonderland.] Wayne LaPierre of the NRA will be there and speak, although his name was not on the official speaker schedule. The outrage of anti-gun emotion wouldn’t look good.
The Florida House overwhelmingly voted down a resolution to vote on a gun law today.

Maddow
Tonight, Kelly put out a statement today praising Kushner and saying that he will be continuing his duties in the WH.
In July 2004, Victor Yushcenko ran for president of Ukraine. A picture of him in July 2004 and another in December showed an astonishing transformation. He was poisoned with dioxin and it affected his appearance and caused tremendous damage to his health. He was running against Victor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian dictator for whom Paul Manafort worked for a decade before becoming Trump’s campaign chair. Manafort was hired in 2004. The lock her/him up campaign originated in Ukraine. They locked up the prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, who was combating a massively corrupt gas deal between Russia and Ukraine. In 2010, she ran for president against Yanukovych and almost won. So they accused her of several crimes and put her in prison for 7 years. She was still there in 2014, but by that time, the people of Ukraine had had enough. They overthrew the Yanukovych government. He fled to Moscow for safekeeping, and that was the occasion of Tymoshenko getting out of prison. That was 4 years ago during the Sochi winter Olympics. People took over the palace because he was gone. The palace was incredibly luxurious. Yanukovych is a cross between Al Capone, Whitey Bulger, and Pablo Escobar, looting his country, so it’s a difficult thing to make that person look legitimate, but Manafort is guy for that kind of task. So Manafort wanted to hire an effective PR firm that had bi-partisan credentials. He also hired the Skadden, Arps, Meagher, and Flom law firm, a big international NY firm, and a guy named Greg Craig (Obama’s former attorney) to explain how Yulia Tymoshenko got locked up. That report was called “a nasty piece of work.” In the process, Manafort’s daughter got hired by the firm. That report is what produced Alex Van der Zwaan’s indictment. He was interviewed by the special counsel about these dealings and lied and withheld emails and recordings. The problem is that Mueller already had already captured all that. Today he pleaded guilty when arraigned in court today. Person A is still out there in the wind. Last year he got married to one of the richest men in Russia. He speaks four languages, English, Dutch, French, and Russian. Skadden Arps just fired him.
Ukraine today is angry about what Manafort and his cohorts did to their country and have been investigating the law firm. They asked the DOJ for “help in questioning eight lawyers who the Ukrainians believed were involved, including Mr van der Zwaan…” If he cooperates, he may not serve any time, but if not, he could serve 5 years. His wife is pregnant, so he should have great incentive to cooperate.
Linda Belcher’s win in KY is the 37th seat that Dems have flipped from red to blue.
In 2003, BP announced a deal with Russian Alfa Group and another called Access-Renova. Alfa Group was run by 4 Russian oligarchs. It was the largest deal in Russian history. But after a few years, BP began to be harassed by the Russians. Employees were harassed by authorities. Russian police raided their offices. More than a hundred had their visas pulled, so BP pulled them out of the country. That included Bob Dudley, CEO of the Russian side of the deal. He had to flee the country and go into hiding, and it was determined later that he had been poisoned. BP had to cash out of that deal and sell to the Russian state oil company Rosneft. This deal was brokered by Putin. BP’s oligarch partners did well in the sell out. They got $27b. One was a guy named German Kahn. He is mentioned in the Steele dossier. He is the father-in-law of Alex van der Zwaan.
In March 2014, Obama imposed sanctions on Russia due to their invasion of Crimea. They sanctioned several oligarchs, including one who rose in the ranks of Russian intelligence, the SVR. If you are on the list, you can’t come to the US. But in this case, he was just here last month. He came with the head of the FSB. They met with Coats and Pompeo. The head of the GRU was here as well, although he is also under sanctions. Schumer sent a letter to Dan Coats asking how he got in. The answer was that he was allowed in in full accordance with the law. The State Dept must have given him a pass. Ee don’t know what the GRU man did when he was here. The Rachel Maddow Show asked the State Dept about that, and their answer was, we refer you to the Russian government. Maybe the Russian government will answer the question.
Ken Vogel, NYT gave an explanation of two other PR firms that are in the fish barrel, but it’s too complex to lay out here. Part of what he said tonight is in this article:

[Twitter today was showing links between Trump servers, Alfa Bank servers, Russian Intel servers, and Spectrum Health servers (owned by the de Voss and Mercer families). I think in time, those connections will become more clear.]

Monday, February 19, 2018

MSNBC Journal, Feb 17, 19

Sat Feb 17
Here’s something I missed yesterday. Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker was interviewed on PBS News Hour by Judy Woodruff. He is the guy who took down Harvey Weinstein. He wrote a recent article about the affair Trump had with Playmate Karen McDougal shortly after Barron’s birth. McDougal would be more forthcoming, but she is afraid of legal consequences. Of course, Trump says it’s fake news.  http://deadline.com/2018/02/ronan-farrow-details-donald-trumps-elaborate-system-to-hide-affairs-1202291280/ 

Mon Feb 19
All In
The big news bomb broke Friday. This President’s Day, 3-day weekend, has been more about processing all of that Friday news. Trump went on a tweet storm on Saturday, attacking just about everyone, including Barak Obama, H. R. McMasters, and Oprah Winfrey. Everyone, that is, except Russia and Putin. He continued to claim that the indictment exonerates him, which it doesn’t. He spent the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, but refrained from golfing on Saturday and Sunday due to the High School shooting. Those kids, being the generation that really knows how to milk the media, are threatening the NRA with the ultimate weapon of their mass destruction…the vote. And they are doing a great, eloquent job of it.
Trump blamed the FBI for missing the tips about the gunman, saying they spent too much time investigating the Russia thing. But the fact is, the Russia investigation involves one department of the FBI, and tracking weirdos involves another.
A guy on Fox News said that it was the Dems and the media that are creating chaos in the US with this false Russia narrative. Chris Hayes said that the ad was sponsored by RT. That makes sense, but he didn’t say how he knows that, and why did Fox run it?
Trump tweeted that Obama had the opportunity to do something about what he knew, but did nothing. The fact is, he wanted to warn the American people, but Mitch McConnell blocked it. Then he warned Putin to his face and said, we know what you are doing, knock it off. Some think that is why the Russian hackers backed away after they penetrated our voter registration data bases. But they didn’t entirely stop, so he imposed sanctions, kicked a bunch of people out of the US, and took back to large buildings that had been used for spying. Trump knows all that. The whole Russia collusion issue was for Russia to get relief from Obama’s sanctions. Trump’s tweets are the epitome of twisted, self-interested politics at its worst. Joe Biden said that McConnell’s block was a deliberate strategy for the GOP to benefit from the meddling.
Adam Davidson, The New Yorker:  This weekend, Trump seemed more than the usual state of being unhinged.
In 2013, Cronies of Putin were encouraging Trump for his plans to run for president. But plans go back as far as 2011. Russia was actually the springboard from which he launched his run. These relationships will be clarified in days to come.
The WP spoke to the guy who worked at the troll farm. You have say that black is white and white is black. “Americans aren’t used to this kind of trickery. They live in a society in which it’s accepted to answer for your words.” [He is saying that in Russia you can say anything fraudulent and get away with it.] A reminder of Adrian Chen’s article in 2015, in which he predicted that Russia is targeting conservatives to elect Donald Trump after he visited the troll farm.
Adrian Chen, The New Yorker:  At the time he thought it was a joke, and thought the strategy was too crazy to take seriously. The English department isn’t 100% perfect. They make syntax errors. There are only 90 people in the American department. They could put out thousands of comments a day. He thinks that it’s still ongoing. He still has sources there. But he doesn’t think it’s that effective. The paranoia aspect may be more effective. Now we suspect people we argue with online to be bots or trolls.
Rosalind Heldman, WP:  They have 12 hr shifts, 20 computers in a room, shades drawn. They create fake arguments, have quotas on quotes and comments. There’s been a lot of news coverage of the Internet Research Agency. It’s been closely linked to the government. Not all employees or former employees think this is a good thing to do. Mueller did not indicate that there was a relationship between the Kremlin and the IRA.
President Buchanan has been considered the worst president in history, but today Trump is passing him up as being the worst. The NYT reported a chart put together by a bunch of political scholars, conducted by political science professors, who ranked all the presidents in the order of best to last. Starting at the top, it went Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt (F. D.), T. Roosevelt, Jefferson, Truman, Eisenhower, Obama (#8), Reagan, and L. B. Johnson. At the very bottom is Donald Trump. Democrat scholars put Trump last. Independents put him just above Buchanan. Republicans say he is one of the top 5 worst presidents ever. A. Johnson (impeached), Pierce, W. H. Harrison, and Buchanan were below him.
Today, PA got a new voting map drawn by the courts.
Also, there is another woman that Trump had an affair with who was paid to keep her story out of the headlines.
Megan Twohey, NYT:  Both had their affair with Trump shortly after Barron’s birth, both were paid over $100,000 to keep quiet. NYT and New Yorker reported about Karen McDougal. American Media, the parent company that owned the The National Enquirer, which was owned by a Trump ally, David Pecker, bought her story and killed it. It’s called “catch and kill.” Michael Cohen used hush money and intimidation to keep the women quiet. Both women had the same attorney, so that made it easier to negotiate. American Media claimed they couldn’t publish the story because they were unable to corroborate it. McDougal was frustrated after she struck the deal. She thought American Media wasn’t keeping its part of the bargain. Cohen has been covering up stories since 2015. During the campaign an entrepreneur came to Cohen with pictures of Trump standing next to “a buxom blonde” who was topless. Cohen threatened to destroy the guy. He steered him to David Pecker and American Media. Trump has had a lot of allegations of sexual misconduct, so it’s hard to know how many stories are out there that haven’t come out.

Maddow
No interruptions in the news cycle these days.
January 25, 1984 Ronald Reagan said in a speech in the State of the Union address that the government was going to take a stand against family violence. An abused wife named Charlotte Fedders wrote Reagan about her husband, who worked for the administration in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an enforcement officer. He was intimidating at 6’ 10’’. Her letter got to the WH counsel. The WH did nothing. So her sister pushed it further and got the counsel on the phone, describing in detail the injuries she witnessed on her sister. “He said, ‘The president would never knowingly keep a spouse abuser in a top administration job.’ But at this point, he said it was a private dispute…” The WH still did nothing. A year later, that story made it to the front pages of the WSJ. The wife described the violence. He blew up over an $80 bill over a marriage counselor. Others saw the bruises. She claimed that in 1981, he tried to throw her over a banister. The sons described the incident. On Jan 24, 1985, the WH defended John Fedders and said he was doing a great job and was not being asked to resign. But when it hit the headlines on January 25, 1985, he resigned. He admitted he abused her, but said he was not a wife beater. Yes, he was violent, but never meant to hurt her. [That is so classic!]
Here’s a mini bombshell:  there was a reminder of the Andy Pudzer incident. He was on track to be the new Secretary of Labor, but his wife had claimed that he was abusive. She said so on an Oprah Winfrey show years before. The tape for some reason was missing, so he stayed on track for the position. It was not the Oprah Winfrey Show that found the tape a month later. It was Charlotte Fedders, who was on the same show! She gave her personal copy of the tape to the paper. Recently, she brought that tape out again in the Trump administration.
WP said this weekend that a WH source told the reporter that there were so many scandals assaulting the WH, that the shooting in Parkland gave them a “reprieve” from being pummeled by the press on a number of other issues. “When the coverage dies down a little bit, we’ll be back through the chaos.”
This week, the John Porter story is about to come roaring back. His situation exposed the fact that he was in his job for a year without a clearance. That led to all the others exposed as lacking permanent security clearances, including Kushner. Kushner issues more requests from the IC than any other WH employee. His meeting with the Chinese ambassador broke the law at several levels. During those days, Kushner was dealing with a Chinese insurance company about a joint venture in Manhattan: the redevelopment of 666 Fifth Ave. Last March he had a meeting with VEB bank. This is all worrying stuff about his status as someone exposed to the Daily Briefings. Now John Kelly has to deal with it. He wrote a memo that anyone’s clearance that has been pending since June will be discontinued. He wants it done by this Friday. That will put Kushner and Ivanka out of the WH. There could be a tidal wave of firings or resignations. Rachel: “I think this week’s going to be insane. Buckle up.”
The day that Paul Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign, he created a shell company called Summerbreeze, LLC on Aug 19, 2016. Not too long later, Summerbreeze got a $3.5m loan from the private lending unit of Spruce Capital, a small NY investment firm that has a Ukrainian connection. In Nov they got another one from Federal Savings Bank of Chicago for $9.5m. In January 2017, he got another for $6.6m from the same bank. These loans drew the attention of prosecutors in NY last summer. In the indictment, bank fraud was mentioned but wasn’t among the charges. This caused the bail package to fail. They say that to get those loans, Manafort gave some false information, doctored profit and loss statements from his company to the tune of millions of dollars. Why is this coming out now? NBC said that the LA Times is reporting that Rick Gates will testify against Manafort. Is that why we are seeing new allegations? These are not new charges, but are affecting the bail conditions.
Barbara McQuade:  New charges could happen. They want the judge to know that these are in the wind. The collateral that he has pledged for bail is stuff he may not own. The document said that the information is new, but it could be other sources. Maybe from Eric Schneiderman. The guilty plea of Gates could be under seal. Queen for a Day session. Plea offer. There are various routes to follow.
In 1971, a youth movement lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Nixon praised them in a moving speech. It brought about the 26th Amendment to the Constitution. It happened lightning fast. She talked about the kids who spent today lying in the street in front of the WH. The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are organizing. There are some very eloquent kids in that school. [Ye gadz, some of them I would vote into the Senate or the House today.]  
Last fall Mike Pompeo was speaking at an event. He was asked if he was sure that the meddling did not affect the election. He said that the IC said that the meddling didn’t affect the election. He had to walk that back. That was Oct. but last week, Mike Pence said that it was the universal conclusion of the IC, that none of those efforts had any effect on the outcome of the election. This is the accepted view. NOPE! Not the accepted view. At least Pompeo walked it back when he was corrected by the IC. TRMS tried and tried to get ahold of him for comment, with no luck, but this weekend, Lavrov made a public statement noting that Mike Pence said it had no effect. Rachel:  “Sure he said that. It was a lie.”
Rachel can’t stand to watch the WH briefings. But tomorrow’s will be the first in a week. Kelly is expected to face a ‘furious press core.” She says she’ll get take out.

Last Word
Trump played golf today, just a few miles from Parkland. He is not defending our country. Trump has a narrow emotional range. He can’t show empathy for more than a few minutes, and has to be on script. If Rick Gates testifies against Manafort, he will get a substantial reduction in his sentence. Politico says that some conservatives are encouraging Trump to issue pardons immediately.

Martin J. Shiel, an IRS specialist, Criminal Investigation Division, fmr branch chief:   He says that there is a case here for fraud. It was secretive. He says several tax fraud crimes were committed. Karen Mc Dougal left a paper trail that is suspicious. This could be big.

Friday, February 16, 2018

MSNBC Journal, Feb 16, 2018

Fri Feb 16
BREAKING:  13 Russians and 3 organizations were indicted for various ways of interfering with our election:
https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4380504/The-Special-Counsel-s-Indictment-of-the-Internet.pdf  This is the indictment. It reads like a spy novel. It’s incredible. My RW cousin, who has bought the line that it’s all a hoax and witchunt, posted today that if this investigation is legitimate, HRC, BHO, and some FBI officials will wind up in prison. FISA-gate makes other scandals look like a parking ticket. I answered, be prepared to be surprised in days to come. They lay it all out there. It’s too long for me to do that. It’s all over MSNBC today. I wonder if some crazy new Trump scandal will slip out soon that will distract from this. Something that horrifies the left, but his base doesn’t care about.

Hardball
Matthews:  We restrict all kinds of things, pills, cigarettes, booze, we legislate voting, driving, why can’t we restrict guns? [The kid can’t buy a drink but he can buy an AR-15.] What was the FBI supposed to do with the kid? Give him a restraining order. Or we could pick them up and put them in Guantanamo.

All In
Discussion of what was in the indictment and what the Russians did. It was extraordinary. Hillary is vindicated big time. Trump said it vindicates him. In a tweet he said “No collusion.” But it doesn’t exonerate anyone. Rosenstein said it doesn’t indicate that anyone colluded or helped the Russians, and that is true, and on Hardball they felt he said that to save his job. But we all know that indictments have been issued to 4 of his surrogates, and they are flipping, so there is time for more to come.
One surprising thing is that some actually came here. They heavily pushed the “Hillary for prison” meme.
Naveed Jamali, fmr FBI agent:  There has to have been Americans involved.
Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic:  This is a shot across the bow to the Trump administration. You won’t find Putin’s fingerprints on anything. Plausible deniability is crucial. [Same with Trump.]
Harry Litman, fmr deputy asst Attorney General, DOJ: The fact that Rosenstein announced all this vindicates him and puts him above partisanship. He wears the mantel of this development. American collusion will be more challenging. These are all the guys that have been Trump’s whipping boys.
Frank Figliuzzi, fmr FBI agent:  They probably also have the names of the hackers. They may be indicted next. These are the underlying crimes. The level of detail was to show everyome a message that we’ve wrapped this up. The 3-letter agencies have had eyes on this for some time, and all agreed to declassify this.
Today Trump just walked past the reporters and waved. Answered no questions.
Rep Jerry Nadler, D-NY:  This is what we’ve known all along. Attacks are continuing. This is an attempt to destroy our democratic system of government. The president’s oath is to defend and protect the constitution. “This president is refusing to do that.” Trump is breaking the law by not imposing sanctions. Millions of dollars were spent on this, it must have had an effect. Rosenstein should be safer now. If he were fired now, it would be viewed as abetting the attack on our democracy. This is the beginning of telling America what happened, but there is more to come. They said there were co conspirators in the US.
Discussion of Scott Pruitt’s travels, huge amounts of money. Passengers in coach are not nice to him. I can imagine. I can think of what I would say to him if I saw him. One person said, “Scott Pruitt, you’re f----g up the environment.” So if he surrounds himself with rich people, he’ll be safe.
James Risen, The Intercept:  “Is Donald Trump a Traitor.” Asking if Trump is an agent of a foreign power? Russians are experts at injecting disinformation into political situations using cutouts and unwitting news organizations. They convinced people in the third world believed that the US was behind the HIV Aids virus. It was kind of the precursor to fake news.
Hayes:  The supposed documentation even led me down a rabbit hole.
Risen:  There were East German scientists involved in it, and Putin was in the KGB. He has a long history of covert action. In the piece I wrote, I was stunned by how much information was already available to show that the Russians were involved. There was a story in the Dutch press that said they were passing on information to the NSA. They even got control of the security cameras in the Russian offices and were able to match faces in the room where they were doing the hack. Another story is the spy case in Moscow where a hacker there said he hacked for the FSB and he named an officer who has been arrested there.
Hayes:  why is the central question is Trump a traitor?
Risen:  If collusion is proven, by definition he is a traitor. If you collude with an adversary to take over the government of the US, you are a traitor. The evidence we have on collusion is not as strong as Russian meddling, but pretty strong evidence of obstruction of justice, and some evidence of collusion. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of contacts.

Maddow
Rachel cancelled her day off today.
New charges are being filed against Manafort tonight. Team Mueller doesn’t leak. No one saw this coming. A man named Ricky Pinedo bought and sold bank accounts. Pleaded guilty, but his attorney said he didn’t know he was helping the Russians. He steals identities. “Defendants and their co-conspirators purchased credit card and bank account numbers from online sellers for the unlawful purpose of evading security measures at PayPal, which used account numbers t verify a user’s identity.” The Russians stole our money to attack us. So this Ricky Pinedo may be a cooperating witness now.
The Russians targeted our election process, they targeted the DNC, and they targeted us. Lots of good reporting about those latter efforts. She didn’t predict that if there would be charges against Russian citizens, it would be about that third prong of the attack. They got some really intimate quotes from Russian communications and internal documents. They have the teams and their names, work products, job descriptions, and personal emails.
The Russians did start the attack in 2014, before he announced that he would run, but you could also say that they started right after 2013 when he returned from the Miss Univese pageant.
Mueller clearly has been following the money. There is one co-conspirator mentioned who was paid to hire an actess to pretend to be Hillary in a prison uniform in a cage. Several crimes were committed. A criminal conspiracy.
The budget was more than a million dollars a month. It was run by professionals, and it was effective. We could use some protections. This was the first time that Rachel felt like someone was defending us and showing what was really going on. That was the biggest shock for her. [For a year, the GOP has done nothing against this. John McCain said that the GOP was doing the Russians work for them.]
Manafort has been negotiating a bail bond for a while. Tonight, the special counsel told Manafort that they are issuing more criminal allegations, including bank fraud. And there could be more charges beyond the allegations of tonight. Manafort wanted to put up his property as bail, but due to the falsified papers and lies, the bank is considering foreclosing on the property.
Michael McFaul, fmr US ambassador to Russia is at a conference in Germany and it’s 3:30 am there. Russia’s response is a good turn of events. They can’t go to France or Britain. Their lives have changed. And this doc criminalizes these kinds of actions. This may deter Russia from doing this in the future. This is hybrid with cut outs and ways of hiding actions. The oligarch running this is close to Putin, and there’s no way they would launch this without Putin’s green light. He was actually surprised at the scale of it and the sophistication. What is also incredible is that we discovered it all.
Video of Clint Watts, fmr FBI special agent:  In an open hearing, almost a year ago he testified in an open hearing as what might happen, and it did. Four years ago when we got started on this, it was hard to convince anyone that it was happening. The indictment is what we expected. The real surprise was the level of masking to make themselves look like Americans. They sent people to do reconnaissance here. The finances helped them track these guys. This operation came from the troll farm in St. Petersburg. That is harder to track, but purchases or wire transfers are easy to track. He thinks they have a good witness from the inside because it was very detailed.
Michael Beschloss:  This may be the biggest covert operation in our history. It may have effected who became president.

PBS Newshour
John Kelly said that he created a 5 page memo about how the WH needs to improve security issues, but there was no news about what he intended to do to fix things. He would have to fire Jared and Ivanka and Don McGahn.
VA secretary David Shulkin’s chief of staff retired today because the Inspector General accused her of altering documents so that Shulkin’s wife could go on a trip to Europe free of charge. Shulkin says he will pay the wife’s air fare. But that trip was elaborate. It’s not just an air fare that should be repaid. He needs to resign as well.

Puerto Rico is looking for a $300m loan to restore their electrical grid or it will be cut off all over the island by Tuesday. Forty percent of the island is still without power. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

MSNBC Journal, Feb 14, 15

Weds Feb 14
Valentines Day, a day of love. But another school shooting took place and that was the news for most of the day. Fortunately, considering the times that we live in, this FL town had practiced fire drills, earthquake drills, and school shooting drills. Everyone knew exactly what to do. There were security guards at the school, and still 17 people are dead and around 15 were wounded. Naturally, it was a loner boy with an AR-15. That is the mass shooter gun of choice. This year, just halfway through Feb, there have been around 15 school shootings. The numbers vary. No one is sure exactly how many. It’s a way of life now, thanks to the GOP and the NRA. Thanks, NRA. None of this makes a dent on the GOP. The Dems scream and scream and try to make laws and the NRA rolls into town with bags full of money and nothing happens.
The news that WOULD have dominated the day without the shooting is that around 130 WH employees have been working without a permanent security clearance, including Jared, Ivanka, and Mike McGahn. This should be an outrageous scandal. It is with Dems. GOP response:  meh. I have to assume they knew. The oversight committee should have known. This should be IMPORTANT. But it won’t be. Nothing matters now. Rules, restraint, laws…patriotism…it’s like a gang of naughty teenagers were given the keys to a great factory by a bunch of lackadaisical adults who left on a luxury cruise. They told the kids, here you are, boys. It’s all yours. Do with it whatever you want. Just make sure the adults get lots of money.

Thurs Feb 15
Hardball
Videos of Trump behind the podium at his campaign rallies blasting HRC for being sloppy with classified material. He assured the crowd that if he is president, classified material will be treated with proper care.
Steve Bannon has spent around 20 hrs over two days talking to Mueller. Today he testified in the HIC, but he would only answer a list of 25 questions and would not answer any other. Adam Schiff threatened him with contempt of Congress. He will recommend this to the majority leader, and he sounded hopeful there will be a meeting of the minds on the issue. [I say fat chance.] Matthews thinks the House won’t do anything. “They’re useless.”
Betsy Woodruff, Daily Beast:  Someone close to Bannon told Woodruff that he did answer all questions from Mueller. He knows a lot that is pertinent. He was close to Michael Flynn. Hiring an attorney for this kind of thing can be expensive. It can cost $20,000 to prepare for one congressional hearing. Bannon was good at overstating his power. Would Bannon rat Trump out? What the WH people are most worried about is finances.
Ashley Parker, WP:  She wrote the story about the staffer who called Kelly “a big fat liar.” He has lost the respect of staffers that he had in the beginning. When the president loses confidence in someone, he calls friends and asks them what should I do? That leaks out.
Chris Wilson, Republican Pollster:  Guns are in the culture, but the 2nd Amendment probably doesn’t cover semi-automatic weapons. Congress might ban bump stocks, but it can’t get introduced to a vote because leaders are held hostage by special interests.

All In
Second day in a row with no daily press briefing. There is a truly astonishing amount of scandals piling up. Veterans Affairs chief, David Shulkin, is under fire from the Inspector General for misleading ethics officials about an expensive, elaborate European trip (WP) and for making up and award to justify bringing his wife with him, all expenses paid. Today, he said in a hearing that the optics are not good. He wrote a check to reimburse the money. He was answered, “It’s not the optics that are not good. It’s the facts.” [This is why Walter Shaub resigned. He realized that there was no interest in ethics in this administration. Trump proved that by going around the person who was supposed to step into Shaub’s position. He chose someone with a dodgy reputation for ethics to fill the role.] Remember when Trump assured America that we were finally going to take care of our veterans?
Scott Pruitt is more controversial than Shulkin. The EPA lied about the waiver for his travel. Pruitt said he had to fly first class in the most expensive airline because people in coach aren’t nice to him. This after Tom Price lost his job for the same thing.
Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to a porn star.
NYT has been asking about the inaugural fund. A quarter of it went to an event planning group that was created in December 2016, run by a friend and adviser of Melania Trump. That woman kept over million of it.
Then there is the Russia investigation.
And the Porter scandal:  GOP have been looking the other way. But with the Porter scandal, Trey Gowdy is making inquiries. NBC News says that c. 135 were working with an interim clearance as of last November. Mike Memoli said that by now, it might be 30 or 40, but even that is a lot. But the upper echelon is comprised of about 30 individuals, and at least 10 of those were/are? operating on an interim clearance. Another group had the top secret clearance and were waiting for SCI clearance. WH officials have to fill out an additional questionnaire that deals with issues that could make a person susceptible to blackmail like foreign debt, foreign entanglements, addictions, etc. In the Obama administration, they had 200 people cleared during the transition. [Haaretz and others are reporting that Jared and Ivanka are profoundly in debt due to their 5th Ave property. https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/jared-and-ivanka-kushner-are-millions-more-in-debt-1.5823983 ]
Rep Sean Patrick Maloney, D-NY:  No, This is not normal. When he worked in So America, his clearance came quickly. When you let someone stay in the job who will never be cleared, it’s just incompetent. He is strongly wanting an investigation. Does McGahn have a clearance now, and if not, why not?
CNN Politics says that Rick Gates may be about to flip. He has had a “Queen for a Day” interview. What he says won’t be held against him unless he lies. If both parties are satisfied, “after they kick the tires a bit,” then they complete the plea deal. If he testifies against Manafort, that may urge Manafort to turn.
Rep Eric Swalwell, D-CA:  On Bannon, he said that on behalf of the WH, he could only answer the 25 questions yes or no. He answered all no. There are a bunch of people exerting bogus privileges, and the majority doesn’t care. It sets a really bad precedent. Bannon is represented by the same attorney that represents Don McGahn, and it’s McGahn telling Bannon not to answer questions. This is an egregious case of conflict of interest.
Sheriff Scott Israel, Broward Co, had a lot to say about gun control, but my computer turned off on me and I lost it all, so I’m not going to repeat it. He basically wants the Baker Act to be expanded so they can detain people who seem like they might do something crazy, even against their will. They would go to a 3 day detention and be examined by experts. They would allegedly get the care they need. [I disagree that this is practical. Hayes pointed out that there are millions of kids who post crazy stuff about themselves and their guns.]
In the Senate, 4 immigration proposals failed today, including the best bi-partisan chance to protect Dreamers. Lay this at the feet of Trump, his advisers, Ryan, and McConnell.
Stormy says she can talk now, since the payment is now public knowledge. And she will tell her story. [We haven’t heard much from Melania lately. Fire and Fury said their marriage was on the rocks and a divorce was planned as soon as he didn’t win the election.]

Maddow
Today the House passed a bill to gut the American Disabilities Act. Several protestors got arrested.
A year ago, a stand alone bill was passed to make it easier for people with mental illness to buy guns. This was one where there was no photo op. CBS requested 12 times for a picture of him signing that bill. There are photos of it, but the WH won’t release any of them. [Some day, when the historians write the books, those photos will come out.] It was the first materially significant piece of legislation that Trump signed. What Grassley said was that people who have mental illnesses who want guns need to get into the FBI database. A year ago Grassley was the guy leading the fight to keep those people off the FBI database. “He is personally responsible for that being harder to do today.” They are all in control of what gun laws we have.
NYT finally got some financial docs from the Trump inauguration fund. Did they release them today as a distraction? They’re not supposed to be secretive. Obama’s was done in a few months. It’s a simple thing, but not with the Trump inauguration. They have lied and stonewalled about it for a year. Rick Gates was a deputy manager of it. Most of the money is gone now. There’s just a few million left. $26m of it went to Melania’s friend’s firm that was set up to plan the inauguration.
Rick Gates is about to flip.
Where did the money come from to pay Stormy Daniels? It may break campaign laws, but Cohen said he used his own funds to facilitate the payment, and it wasn’t the Trump org or campaign funds. There could still be donors.
Ellen Weintraub, Federal Election Commission vice chairman:  Usually it’s transparent where funds come from because a check is written. Any payment to influence an election is a campaign contribution. An in kind payment does not have to go into the fund. If it saves the campaign money, it’s considered a contribution. The FEC does oversight over election money. There aren’t a lot of laws about those funds. They have to report who donates, but not where the money goes. More rules would be a good thing.

Rachel did a more elaborate report on Shulkin’s fantasy trip problems. He is so corrupt, he should resign like Tom Price did. Over $4,000 for parking? Where did they park? 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

MSNBC Journal, Feb 13

Tue Feb 13.
All In.
The Porter scandal totally blew up today. The WH blather through SHS was refuted by Chris Wray today who said that the WH had been informed about Porter’s problems multiple times over the last year. They were told he could not receive a clearance. Yet, the WH was thinking of promoting him to chief of staff! Wray’s testimony, along with 5 other intel chiefs, exploded all of the statements made by the WH. The most recent WH dodge was to blame lower level WH staff, but the buck stops at the deputy chief of staff, Hogan Gidley, and then chief of staff. Senior officials have been telling the Daily Beast that they haven’t seen anything like this since the Comey firing. Some of them want Kelly to go.
The FBI first gave a report to the WH in March of 2017. Again in late July. Follow up in November. The file was closed in January this year. Result: no security for this guy. WH response: let’s give him a promotion. [Then maybe when we get tired of Kelly, Porter can be chief of staff.] What about all the other staffers who have no permanent clearance. Dan Coats, DNI, said today in a House open hearing that someone with an interim clearance should be limited in what they can see. “The process is broken. It needs to be reformed.”
There was a very interesting open Senate hearing today with 6 intel chiefs there. FBI Wray, DNI Coats, NSA Mike Rogers, and CIA Pompeo answered most of the questions. DIA Lt Gen Robert Ashley and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Robert Cordillo were also present. https://www.npr.org/2018/02/13/584672450/intelligence-leaders-testify-about-global-threats-in-senate-hearing  They all affirm that Russia interfered with our 2016 election They all affirmed that they are still doing so now. Sen Angus King, I-Maine, pleaded for them to get Trump to say so because his constituents say the Trump-Russia investigation is all a witch hunt because Trump says that’s what it is.
In any normal WH there would be “oversight all over the place.” Hayes suggested that the president, who could just declare a clearance for Porter and Kushner, didn’t because that would leave a paper trail. It could be used as a cudgel.
Wray stated today that, although the IC is taking what steps they can, Trump has not asked him or others to take actions to blunt Russians actions. [Tillerson said there’s not much we can do. If they decide they’re gonna do it, they will. They will adapt and counter our efforts. So, too bad, Dems. You’re screwed, and there’s nothing you can do about it. We can stay in power for the next 40 years with Russia’s aid. Hee hee.]
Sen Amy Klobuchar, D-MN:  Invest in voting equipment. 1] Paper ballots and auditing afterwards. 2] Do something about social media ads. There is no WH plan for that. She and Kaine and Warner introduced a law about disclaimers. It’s about enforcement. Rules spelled out. 3] Cyber protection. People blocking this or ignoring it will be responsible if it happens again.
The Dems flipped another state senate seat tonight in FL.
ICE horror stories are proliferating. Immigrants can’t even report crimes.
Trump wants people on food stamps to have to receive boxes of food instead of money. What would it cost to send the box? What if people are allergic? What if the box goes missing? This comes from a FN video of a food stamp guy buying a lobster. It sounds like a proposal from Cuba or a banana republic. The plan is to strangle the food program. “Where did this come from?” Make these people as miserable as possible. Hayes:  This is DOA in Congress? Yes, but $200m in cuts proposed.
The new budget, a Fox News wet dream.

Maddow
Rachel, Rachel. You have a way of nailing their ears to the wall.
Started with Flynn resignation. He resigned a year ago today. Trump was still praising him, dismissing his actions. No other surprises in the pipeline. But oh wait, Sessions had contacts. Oh and then there’s Jared Kushner. Rachel’s wall of infamy now has 43 names on it. In the past 5 days they’ve had to squeeze around 5 more. DC is thinking that Kelly may be next. WH staffers are trashing him to various journalists. He’s “a big fat liar,” and he wants us to lie for him. Don McGahn may/should also have to resign at some point, because he has been involved in all the scandals. He seems “politically bullet proof.” The WH communications director and WH spokesperson may/should also have to go because they passed on all the false spin. [Drain the damn swamp.]
She reviewed how these people with problems are not immediately removed [Flynn, Porter, Kushner]. Also, the 6 intel chiefs made it clear that none of them have been tasked by Trump to do whatever it takes to stop more interference.
Sen Angus King was raving today that there are no repercussions for what the Russians did. Rachel reviewed a number of surrogates and their contacts. In all cases, the contacts were undisclosed, then they lied about what they discussed. In the end it was all about sanctions. The Russians were always pushing to get those sanctions lifted. Flynn, Cohen, Prince, Page, Manafort, etc. The Russians finally got what they wanted in all those secret meetings. No sanctions. Not needed. The threat is sufficient. Russia has backed off and they’re being good now.
Then there’s the list of Russian oligarchs connected to Putin. It was put together by Russia experts. It took into consideration their wealth and their relationship to Putin and any indication of corruption. There are credible reports that such a list existed as required by the sanctions law. When the deadline came, that list disappeared and the US Treasury put out a list of rich Russians copied from a Forbes list, plus a directory of people who worked in the Kremlin. Russia was “shaking in their boots about that list.”
Rachel asked the same question about Rachel Brand that I asked. Why did the Walmart offer come along now? Coincidence? She was afraid that if Rosenstein were fired or if he had to recuse himself as a witness in the Mueller investigation, she may have to take over the Russia investigation. She didn’t want to be in the middle of the firestorm. Plus, 30% of figurehead positions are unfulfilled. It’s tough to do your job that way. She served under Bush and Obama, so she is leaving a long career.
NYT:  Michael Cohen says today that he paid $135,000 out of his own pocket to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet. He was not reimbursed. It was not a campaign contribution or other unlawful use of funds.
Here is a repeat of a dream I had last June 9th.
Took a nap and just before I woke up, I had a snap vision-like dream of Trump standing there with a challenger before him. Trump was slightly above the other as if he were standing on a low platform. I heard the word “cuckoo” and the challenger was there to cause him to “stand or flee.” The cuckoo is a predator bird that lays its egg in another’s nest. The smaller bird tries to feed it after hatching, but the bigger baby pushes the little ones out of the nest. The adult keeps trying to feed the cuckoo baby at the expense of her own offspring. Trump is the cuckoo who has laid a Russian egg in a democratic nest. The little birds, the American middle class and the poor will be tossed out of the zone of prosperity. Russia, Saudi Arabia, US corporations, the Trump family, and the elite libertarian billionaires will prosper under Trump. The GOP is trying to feed the cuckoo’s hatchling. They will only hurt themselves and be dupes in the process. Comey may be the challenger. Mueller may follow him up when Comey’s job is done, which it may be now.
In that dream I heard two words, one was “cuckoo,” and the other was “stand or flee.” I thought at the time that it was the challenger talking to Trump. But it may be coming from the Trump administration to the challenger. A whole host of possible challengers, some potential witnesses in Mueller’s investigation, have gone, as reported in other posts. There are two left, Rosenstein and Mueller. Hang in there, Rosie. God help you. The GOP is still feeding the cuckoo bird, but in the end, they’ll regret it. What will exit that nest is not what they are expecting. As rotten as they are, what is growing there is far worse than any of them.

Last Word.

O’Donnell reminded us that the same kind of third party payment to keep a scandal quiet brought Dem candidate John Edwards down. That creep came within a hair of being our VP.

Monday, February 12, 2018

MSNBC Journal, Feb 12

Sun Feb 11
All weekend, MSNBC has been ranting about Trump’s tweets defending the men and suggesting that the women are all liars. “He said he was innocent. He denied it. And by the way, he totally denied it.” Trump has defended a slew of men accused of abusive behavior. He really has no sense of empathy for women, blacks, or immigrants. In Gorka’s words, this is not the reign of the man in pajamas. It’s the time of the alpha male. Just the kind of thing you want to hear from the Oval Office. That is not so surprising. We knew that about them. And as for Nunes, we never did think Trump would release the Dem memo. If they do, they’ll try to “redact” what is damaging to their cause. As for Pence, he has supported this corrupt president and all the rotten WH shenanigans with nary a word. His motto for everything is, I didn’t know about that. I’m shocked to find out. We know he’s a liar and a hypocrite. The shocker for me is the GOP. Devin Nunes, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the whole Congress. They stand around and watch this dumpster fire burn. We have a despot wannabe, a crime boss, a lying, incompetent, corrupt president who can’t read a 10 page memo, who is loyal to Putin, and no one says a word. GOP, you have sold your soul. Come November, many of you will retire, cash out, take your money and run. Shame on you. You are all a disgrace!

Mon Feb 12
All In
MSNBC keeps saying that Trump is under increasing fire because of his defense of men accused of abuse. I ask, fire from who? MSNBC, yes. But the Right? Nothing Trump does causes them pause. Trump’s surrogates, SHS and others, say that the president takes domestic abuse seriously, but Trump hasn’t said it himself.
Hayes:  “Punishment is for other people,” but his team can do no wrong and if they do, that’s OK. No explanation about Porter’s lack of clearance.
Jill Wine-Banks:  She used to have a clearance that she can’t even name because it’s a code word level. Steve Schmidt also used to have one. They know how important it is. Anyone who can’t pass that background check should not be seeing our secrets. “It is an abomination.”
Jill:  Porter got “due process.” There was evidence, a police report, and an investigation by the FBI.
Video of Kelly calling Sen Frederica Wilson “an empty barrel.” He is a 4 star general.
Wilson:  Why would he surrender his great career for a president who will throw anyone under the bus?
Discussion of the memos. Where is your committee at right now?
Rep Joaquin Castro, HIC:  Stonewalling.
Hayes:  D Nunes may have opened himself and staff to obstruction of justice.
Caroline Fredrickson:  President, American Constitution Society agrees, especially if the WH helped coordinate the Nunes memo.
Do you worry about a downward spiral of criminalization of the administration?
Fredrickson:  The FBI investigation is where our worries should be. It is being obstructed.
The head of rail safety, Heath Hall, acting chief of the Federal Railroad Administration, was in charge of a $1.7m. Last year was the worst year in history. Multiple crashes and deaths. While running the agency, he was also running a PR company in Mississippi which is representing a county sheriff’s organization. Hall has resigned.
ICE horror stories have proliferated. One is that a man who came here at age 1 ½. His wife is pregnant and they have 5 other kids. The 5 year old has cancer. That man was going to be deported, but push back has allowed him to stay for now. Trumpistan is using terror tactics, raids into schools, courts, hospitals, cruel actions, retaliation against immigration activists.
Cecillia Wang deputy legal dir ACLU:  They want to put in Joe Arpaio kind of actions. It leads to profiling.
Scott Pruitt, head of EPA, is getting to be known for frequent and first class travel. He is draining EPA funds with body guards, the SCIF, and his fancy travel.
Maddow
How does the National Security Adviser help the president when that person knows how they got to the WH? The Obama administration and the IC put the sanctions in place without letting the incoming Trump administration know. Kislyak was summoned to the State Dept. He was enraged. Tit for tat is what is expected. But Russia mysteriously made no retaliation. It turns out that the IC was listening in when Kislyak called Mike Flynn. In that call, Flynn told him to not worry. Don’t react.
Susan Rice was the NS Adviser, and she was supposed to be helping the transition. What does she tell Mike Flynn when she knows what she knows? By Jan 2, 2017, the transcripts were out about what Flynn and Kislyak talked about. On Jan 3 there was an intelligence briefing for Trump. He was still attacking the IC and saying Russia didn’t do anything wrong. Calling it a witch hunt. On Jan 5th Comey, Brennan, Clapper briefed Obama and a small group of top WH advisers about the classified report of Russian interference. So WH officials at that time knew about the Flynn-Kislyak calls. There was an actual investigation of Flynn. Right after that briefing, Susan Rice sent an email saying that Obama, Comey, Yates, Rice, and Biden all met in the Oval Office for a follow on meeting. Obama wanted to proceed “by the book.” But he also wanted to be careful about sharing information. He wanted Comey to let them know if anything should change how they share incoming information with the new team.
Rice wrote a memo to herself about all that, and the memo was recently declassified and was reported today. Well, Grassley and Graham for some reason think this is a gotcha. They are initiating an investigation of Rice and the memo. “It strikes us as odd that you would write such an unusual email to yourself.” Obama warned Trump about 2 things: North Korea and Mike Flynn. The Obama team did decide to withhold some information about Russia from Flynn. On inauguration day, Rice hit send to memorialize the proceedings for posterity. It shows that Obama decided to not interfere in a political way.
Journalists are reporting that multiple WH staff are buttonholing them to say anonymously that Kelly asked them to lie about his knowledge of Porter’s situation. In just their first year in office there are major intelligence scandals.
Eight times in a row, we heard about communications between Russia and Trump from the Russian media. When Lavrov was here, it wasn’t even on his schedule. Sometimes even Trump’s staff doesn’t know about it. They learn from our news who got it from Russian news. Today was the 8th. [The GOP acts like NONE of this is happening. Their leaders are nuts!]
No US official has admitted to meeting with the GRU guy from Russia when he was here. What was he doing here? How long did he stay? The FSB guy is sanctioned. Who let him in? Dems asked Dan Coats, but no answer yet. Tomorrow senators will get to ask Coats and Pompeo in open session.
Mike McFaul, fmr ambassador to Russia:  Officials meet with their counterparts all the time. What’s unusual is that all 3 came together and we know nothing of their agenda. The gru were the guys who stole the data from the DNC, so it deserves an explanation. It makes no sense to me. My job was to set up phone calls and set up readouts. I won’t know who is at fault there, but it makes us look silly. I don’t think it serves our own interests. When I was at the WH, we wanted to be out front to frame the content of these calls.
The guy who was chief of the census is leaving. He was known for a book called Redistricting and Representations: Why Competitive Elections are Bad for America. Of course, the census is used for redistricting every 10 years. The man was not a statistician and really had no expertise in running a census. She also talked about Heath Hall. Just since December, there have been 4 fatal Amtrak crashes, including one that was carrying all the members of Congress to a retreat. Apparently, the Dems have been blocking confirmation of Trump’s nominee for permanent chief. Hall is a PR guy. He has had no RR experience. Once he got in, he was supposed to drop his other job. He’s been working that job the whole time. His clients in Mississippi call the RR agency trying to get ahold of him. “Only the best people.”

Last Word.

O’Donnell began by shredding Hope Hicks, who had an affair with Lewandowski, who was married, before her relationship with Porter. She and Lewandowski had a fight on the streets of NY that was caught and reported by the press. But the WH says she is too strong become a victim of violence.