40 thoughts on “News/Politics 5-21-18

  1. Vindication.


    “It was called “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI counterintelligence operation that targeted Trump figures as part of the investigation into possible campaign ties to Russia. It was a poignant choice of a Rolling Stones song, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” that describes a man “born in a crossfire hurricane” who “howled at the morning driving rain.”

    It could be an apt description of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. After a year of media denials of his claims of surveillance targeting his campaign, Trump can legitimately claim some vindication. Indeed, with his rising poll numbers, the president must feel, in the words of the song, like “it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas.”

    The New York Times this week disclosed that the FBI made a conscious effort to use secret counterintelligence powers to investigate Trump officials and may have had a confidential informant who was used in connection with key Trump figures long before the November 2016 election. (Officials stated anonymously that this was a longstanding source who worked with both the FBI and CIA for years.)

    In early 2017, President Trump was widely ridiculed for alleging that the Obama administration placed his campaign under surveillance. The response from experts on CNN and other sites was open mockery. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper came forward to assure the media that he could categorically deny the allegation and stated, “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.” The range of media analysis seemed to run from whether Trump was a clinical paranoid or a delusional demagogue.

    We now know there was, indeed, surveillance ordered repeatedly on Trump campaign figures before and after the election. Rather than acknowledge the troubling implications of an administration investigating the opposing party’s leading candidate for president, the media shifted to saying that there was ample reason to order the surveillance.

    That remains to be seen but much of the coverage brushes over the fact that no charges were brought against the principal target, Carter Page, or that the secret warrants for surveillance were based in part on a dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, a fact known but not fully disclosed by the FBI to the secret FISA court. The documented Russian interference, thus far, has been largely a Russian operation out of St. Petersburg that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has said was carried out without the knowledge of Trump campaign officials.”


  2. The Watergate comparisons are apt.


    “Why was the Watergate break-in more than just the “second rate” burglary Richard Nixon tried to pass it off as? Because it was directed by the president’s team at the Democratic National Committee. Thus, it was an offense against our two party system and our democracy. One political party is not supposed to steal information from the other party, and certainly not in the midst of a presidential campaign.

    It now appears that the FBI had an informant inside the Trump campaign [see Update]. That informant was doing essentially the same thing the Watergate burglars were trying to accomplish — obtain by stealth information about what one of the two major party candidates for president was doing. The informant probably did not engage in illegal conduct like the Watergate burglars did, but the affront to the two party system is similar.

    The Watergate burglars had ties to the intelligence community but they were not FBI agents or informants, nor did the FBI deploy them, as apparently occurred in 2016. But this distinction doesn’t make the 2016 spying more innocuous than the 1968 break-in. Indeed, if the FBI had been behind the Watergate the incident would, if anything, have been more scandalous than it was.

    The Watergate burglars were associated with pro Nixon forces, including the Committee for the Re-Election of the President. The informant on the Trump campaign was not dispatched by an avowedly political organization, but rather by the FBI.

    But the FBI was part of the Obama administration, and President Obama actively backed Trump’s opponent. We know, moreover, that key members of the FBI wanted desperately for Trump to lose. Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page may have lacked the direct connection to a presidential campaign that those behind the Watergate break-in — e.g. Jeb Magruder — had, but it’s not a stretch to view them in a similar light. In addition, there are indications that the White House was in the loop on their anti-Trump activities.

    The appalling James Clapper calls it “a good thing” if the FBI spied on the Trump campaign. Why? Because the bureau was trying to find out “what the Russians were doing to try to substantiate [sic] themselves in the campaign or influence or leverage it.”

    Here, Clapper harks back to another instance of domestic spying — the FBI’s surveillance of Martin Luther King. The FBI said it was investigating links between King and communists. One of King’s most trusted counselors, attorney Stanley David Levison, had secretly served as one of the top two financiers for the Communist Party USA in the years just before he met King.

    There’s no evidence that King was a communist. However, J. Edgar Hoover arguably had a stronger basis for investigating King’s ties to communism, at least initially, than the FBI had for investigating Trump’s ties to Russia.”


  3. And speaking of apt…..


    “This may prove to be an apt moment to discuss the state of the union. But I’m not talking about the U.S. State of the Union here, but rather the state of the European Union. According to some sources, things aren’t looking very good in Brussels when it comes to their view of America. And while President Trump has certainly been a major driver of distress among some European leaders, they’re worried about a sea change which could be the new normal in Euro-American relations.

    Michael Birnbaum, Brussels bureau chief covering Europe, and his Europe-focused colleague Griff Witte have an opinion piece at the Washington Post which describes the ongoing turmoil. While many of the complaints being aired are rather predictable liberal/socialist concerns over an erosion of the status quo, they also reflect the shifting nature of international diplomacy in the 21st century. They describe many of Europe’s leaders as basically keeping an eye on the clock and hoping they can ride out the Trump presidency, but even after he eventually leaves office, they’re worried that things won’t snap back to the old normal.”

    “Underlying all of the quotes and interpretations is a common theme. The old way of doing business seems to be crumbling. And by that, they mean (and specifically admit in a few cases) that Europe has relied on both American money and military might to build their own version of western culture ever since World War 2. They didn’t need to invest in their own military (and Germany’s is nearly defunct at this point) because the United States was the superpower that would always stop anyone else from attacking them, and foot the bill to boot. They could build their economies and arrange all manner of favorable trade deals, including using government subsidies to warp the markets, secure in the knowledge that America wouldn’t do anything about it. All the while, America fell further into debt and our military was strained to the breaking point.

    And then came Trump. It was probably surprising to the Europeans that many Americans responded strongly and positively when the President talked about unfair trade deals and the need for our allies to kick in more toward their own defense. The President is hardly universally loved at home, but the fears of these European leaders may be revealing something which wasn’t previously discussed. Whether you agree with the President on most things or not, these disparities were issues that resonated with a wide swath of the voters. And whether Donald Trump is in office for eight years or only four, America may deliver another president who will bring the same expectations to the table.

    So perhaps the quoted EU leaders are correct. Perhaps the relationship has shifted on some fundamental level. And just maybe that shift was long overdue.”


  4. The Japanese are pushing back against Trump’s stupid protectionism, but that may not be necessary in the end …


  5. Because Trump is wimping out. It appears the Chinese (taking a lesson from the North Koreans) have conned the con man.


  6. Oh, I almost forgot. For people outside of The Cult, the FBI sending a person to ask questions to two Trump aides who are logically suspected of being Russian spies is not the same as Obama placing “tapps” on Trump’s phone.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. AJ, You are off message. Your moron is ranting about Brennan this morning. Give him a helping hand.


  8. When he became president Obama much to the chargin of the left refused to investigate the previous administration as it would set a dangerous precedent and politicize what should not be politicize. At the time I was disappointed I would not see Cheney on the docket for war crimes but I also realized Obama had a point. Trump doesn’t fear precedent.

    What AJ’s link fails to point out is the dossier was originally commissioned by Trump’s Republican opponents suggesting Trump’s Russian connections was common intelligence knowledge prior to Clinton’s people taking over the file. Obama’s hands are nowhere near the file.

    The Watergate analogy is an extreme stretch.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The North Korean nuclear testing facility fell apart during the last test. The North Koreans have no leverage yet they seem to be out maneuvering Trump.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Unless you flip it on its head. Nixon pressured law enforcement and intelligence agencies to hide crimes committed by his associates. I still believe Trump moronically framed himself on Russia collusion, but maybe he really does have something to hide.


  11. Listening skills are a must if you want to be accurate, and a lack of them is why many continue to be wrong about Trump.


    “You can observe a lot just by watching, said Yogi Berra. And you can learn a lot just by talking to people. Instead of talking at them. Salena Zito is a reporter, and in 2016 she hung out in bars and poolrooms talking to people, begging for their opinions. That’s how she learned that Donald Trump might win the presidency.

    She was a regular on the “John Batchelor Show,” along with an academic. Like Batchelor, the academic knew that Trump didn’t have a ghost of a chance and explained it all so well that it was hard to disagree.

    Trump was uncivilized, the Republicans didn’t have a ground game, the Democrats had all the data-miners.

    Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the analyst proved Hillary Clinton would win. But then Zito would blurt out that, when asked, people were saying they liked Trump. Poor Zito, a reporter at a Pittsburgh newspaper. It was pretty embarrassing.

    Except the academic had gotten it wrong, and Zito had gotten it right.

    Now she’s written about what she heard in a new book, “The Great Revolt,” co-authored with Bard Todd. In it, they describe the different groups to which Trump appealed, groups that were hidden in plain sight. You only had to talk to them.

    There were the Second Amend­ment women, for example. Hillary got fewer women’s votes than Barack Obama did in 2012, and white women broke for Trump. Some of them wanted to keep their guns and liked what Trump said about gun rights.

    There were the “King Cyrus Christians,” who voted for someone not very religious but who promised to protect their religious practices, as King Cyrus had for the Jews. Actually, those King Cyrus Christians included a lot of patriotic Orthodox Jews, and even the Christians sensed that Trump was a co-religionist.

    Mostly, there were voters whose beliefs were mocked by all that was fashionable, by Obama and by Hillary herself, voters who craved respect. Their religious beliefs had been called bigotry, their pride in America denounced as white pride, the country they loved derided as fatally flawed. When they were told they had brought their misery on themselves, through their foul habits, they filed this away.

    When they were called deplorable, they paid attention. When their cherished institutions — their religion, their patriotism, their regional loyalties — were derided, they voted for Donald Trump.”


  12. Ricky,

    You and the Times need to get with the program. Trade war talk is so yesterday.


    “The U.S. and China have finally reached an agreement on trade, defusing rising trade war tensions, White House officials announced Saturday.

    Following two days of bilateral consultations on trade, representatives from Washington and Beijing reached a consensus on trade, with the latter agreeing to take “effective measures to substantially reduce the United States trade deficit in goods with China,” a joint statement explained.

    An increase in exports to China would “meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development,” as well as “help support growth and employment in the United States,” according to the statement.”


    “We’ve been covering the Trump administration’s trade talks with China, and now both nations have reportedly agreed to halt the trade war, including the imposition of tariffs, until a deal has been reached.

    The AFP reports:

    Washington and Beijing have agreed to abandon any trade war and back off from imposing tariffs on each other, Chinese state media reported Sunday.

    The announcement came after high-level talks in the US capital and followed months of tensions over what President Donald Trump has blasted as an unfair commercial relationship between the two economic giants.

    Vice-Premier Liu He, who led Chinese negotiators in Washington said: “The two sides reached a consensus, will not fight a trade war, and will stop increasing tariffs on each other,” state-run news agency Xinhua reported Sunday.

    Liu called the agreement a “necessity”, but added: “At the same time it must be realised that unfreezing the ice cannot be done in a day, solving the structural problems of the economic and trade relations between the two countries will take time.”

    An earlier joint statement issued in Washington said Beijing would “significantly” increase its purchases of American goods, but offered few details.”


  13. Similar, but different.

    Everyone should be outraged by what our govt has done here. That some aren’t is very telling.


    “Unlike Watergate, the current crisis in government/spying/politics doesn’t have a memorable name. But for those of us who lived through Watergate, it has a certain resonance with that event as well as major differences, imparting a strange sense of familiarity, dislocation, and increasing alarm.

    This isn’t some burglary to get some dirt on the opposing party. And it isn’t an unfulfilled threat to use government entities to “get” the opposition. So far the evidence is mounting that this involves the marshaling of those government entities by one administration in order to “get” the next, and nearly succeeding.”

    “However, it depends what side you were and are rooting for. For example, if you believe that Donald Trump and his associates colluded with Russia to try to defeat Hillary Clinton, then you believe that the media has been exposing Collusiongate, just as they did with Watergate.

    And if you believe that FBI second-in-command Mark Felt, who turns out to have been the Woodward and Bernstein informant known at the time as Deep Throat, was right to leak to them, then you might believe that all of today’s leakers are also right to leak to MSM outlets like the Times in order to spread the word of Trump and Co.’s perfidy.

    Now, I happen to think the evidence is powerful that Trump is innocent and that he was not only wrongly investigated but that he was most likely set up by the opposition—almost entrapped, although so far it seems the Trump people didn’t take the bait except for some go-nowhere incidents like the Trump Tower meeting between the Russian lawyer and Trump Junior. But those who read and admire the NY Times these days would beg to differ, and those people are still numerous.

    As always, Andrew C. McCarthy has some especially cogent things to say on the subject of Collusiongate:

    The fons et origo of the counterintelligence investigation was the suspicion — which our intelligence agencies assure us is a fact — that the Democratic National Committee’s server was hacked by covert Russian operatives. Without this cyber-espionage attack, there would be no investigation. But how do we know it really happened? The Obama Justice Department never took custody of the server — no subpoena, no search warrant. The server was thus never subjected to analysis by the FBI’s renowned forensics lab, and its evidentiary integrity was never preserved for courtroom presentation to a jury.

    How come? Well, you see, there was an ongoing election campaign, so the Obama Justice Department figured it would be a terrible imposition to pry into the Democrats’ communications. So, yes, the entire “Russia hacked the election” narrative the nation has endured for nearly two years hinges on the say-so of CrowdStrike, a private DNC contractor with significant financial ties to the Clinton campaign…

    Despite the absence of any evidence that the Trump campaign conspired in Russia’s espionage…The Obama Justice Department and FBI investigated Flynn — including an ambush interview — on the theory that his discussions with Kislyak and other diplomats violated the Logan Act. Currently codified as Section 953 of the federal penal code, this statute purports to criminalize “any correspondence or intercourse” with agents of a foreign sovereign conducted “without authority of the United States” — an impossibly vague term that probably means permission from the executive branch. The Logan Act is patently unconstitutional, but no court has had the opportunity to invalidate it because, to borrow a phrase, no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.

    It’s difficult to adequately summarize the article; I recommend you just read the whole thing. Anyone who reads even a portion of it should come away outraged at what the government appears to have done to Trump and his associates—and the outraged should include people who oppose Trump and everything he stands for. However, that’s not the way things work in this day and age; outrage is very very selective.”


  14. Ricky,

    Brennan is getting nervous. 🙂

    And he’s already being schooled by others much better at it than I….




  15. And then the responses……

    Sara Carter, a real reporter who has been all over this story…..


    Tom Fitton, head of the best watchdog group in the US, Judicial Watch


  16. ——————–




  17. There we go. Apparently, I am also spying on Trump since I am receiving the daily cult message several hours before the cult members.


  18. Wrap it up, and move on to the actual crimes of Obama admin officials.


    “Time and time again, investigators came up empty. Even several sting operations with an FBI spy we just learned about failed to produce a DeLorean-like video with cash on the table. But rather than close the probe, the deep state just expanded it. All they had were a few isolated contacts with Russians and absolutely nothing related to Trump himself, yet they pressed forward. Egged on by Steele, they simply believed Trump and his team must be dirty. They just needed to dig deep enough.

    Perhaps the murkiest event in the timeline is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of a special counsel after he personally recommended Comey’s firing in blistering terms. With Attorney General Jeff Sessions shoved out of the way, Rosenstein and Mueller then ignored their own conflicts and took charge anyway. Rosenstein is a fact witness, and Mueller is a friend of Comey, disqualifying them both.

    Flush with 16 prosecutors, including a former lawyer for the Clinton Foundation, and an undisclosed budget, the Mueller investigation has been a scorched-earth effort to investigate the entirety of the Trump campaign, Trump business dealings, the entire administration and now, if it was not Russia, maybe it’s some other country.

    The president’s earlier legal team was naive in believing that, when Mueller found nothing, he would just end it. Instead, the less investigators found, the more determined and expansive they became. This president and his team now are on a better road to put appropriate limits on all this.

    This process must now be stopped, preferably long before a vote in the Senate. Rather than a fair, limited and impartial investigation, the Mueller investigation became a partisan, open-ended inquisition that, by its precedent, is a threat to all those who ever want to participate in a national campaign or an administration again.

    Its prosecutions have all been principally to pressure witnesses with unrelated charges and threats to family, or just for a public relations effect, like the indictment of Russian internet trolls. Unfortunately, just like the Doomsday Machine in “Dr. Strangelove” that was supposed to save the world but instead destroys it, the Mueller investigation comes with no “off” switch: You can’t fire Mueller. He needs to be defeated, like Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Clinton.

    Finding the “off” switch will not be easy. Step one here is for the Justice Department inspector general report to knock Comey out of the witness box. Next, the full origins of the investigation and its lack of any real intelligence needs to come out in the open. The attorney general, himself the target of a secret investigation, needs to take back his Justice Department. Sessions needs to act quickly, along with U.S. Attorney John Huber, appointed to conduct an internal review of the FBI, on the Comey and McCabe matters following the inspector general report, and then announce an expanded probe into other abuses of power.

    The president’s lawyers need to extend their new aggressiveness from words to action, filing complaints with the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility on the failure of Mueller and Rosenstein to recuse themselves and going into court to question the tactics of the special counsel, from selective prosecutions on unrelated matters, illegally seizing Government Services Administration emails, covering up the phone texts of FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and operating without a scope approved by the attorney general. (The regulations call for the attorney general to recuse himself from the investigation but appear to still leave him responsible for the scope.)

    The final stopper may be the president himself, offering two hours of testimony, perhaps even televised live from the White House. The last time America became obsessed with Russian influence in America was the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s. Those ended only when Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) attacked an associate of the U.S. Army counsel, Joseph Welch, and Welch famously responded: “Sir, have you no decency?” In this case, virtually every associate and family member of the president has been subject to smears conveniently leaked to the press.

    Stopping Mueller isn’t about one president or one party. It’s about all presidents and all parties. It’s about cleaning out and reforming the deep state so that our intelligence operations are never used against opposing campaigns without the firmest of evidence. It’s about letting people work for campaigns and administrations without needing legal defense funds. It’s about relying on our elections to decide our differences.”


  19. I wonder if fits of laughter will be noted and duly recorded in the Russian archives.


  20. Trump Cult High Priestess Laura Ingraham doesn’t like Trump’s China deal. Perhaps she doesn’t understand Trump’s secret plan to kill the Chinese by making them all morbidly obese.


  21. From the article:

    Indeed, the New York Times reported that Trump has taken to questioning aides and allies on whether they think he should proceed with the summit, despite the risk of political embarrassment. Advisers are said to be worried (rightly) that Trump put himself in a bad position by remarking that “everyone thinks” he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. He’ll have a hard time demanding concessions from North Korea if Kim knows he’s desperate for a win.

    But the talks might not even get that far. According to the Times, aides are starting to doubt that Trump will able to conduct an in-depth negotiation with Kim:

    The aides are also concerned about what kind of grasp Mr. Trump has on the details of the North Korea program, and what he must insist upon as the key components of denuclearization. Mr. Moon and his aides reported that Mr. Kim seemed highly conversant with all elements of the program when the two men met, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made similar comments about Mr. Kim, based on his two meetings with him in Pyongyang, the North’s capital.


  22. Everyone seems to be so worried about Trump’s grasp on issues they either thought too insignificant to address themselves, or couldn’t. Let’s let the President do his job and critique the results later in a couple of years. That’s time enough to know if adjustments should be made.


  23. Debra, People might feel better if he wasn’t too lazy to do his homework. Flying blind with no preparation worked badly for him on healthcare and the budget.


  24. The problem isn’t that the aides aren’t doing their work. They are preparing briefs to prepare him as they would for any normal sane President. Trump refuses to read them or prepare. One of his dominant traits is intellectual laziness. It was obvious in the debates, but was overlooked and excused by the voters who are also profoundly ignorant.


  25. Aides that are so clueless that they would undermine the President right before a negotiation might not be worth much. What kind of person does that.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Debra,
    1. Why then did Trump hire those aides?
    2. I don’t think his aides are trying to undermine him. They are trying to shame his lazy butt into studying.

    I am sensitive to Presidents who are intellectually lazy and like to fly by the seat of their pants or “their gut”. That sort of lack of preparation led Little Bush to invade Iraq.


  27. This sort of stuff is happening all over. I give AJ credit for not blocking me.


  28. And we’re off……


    “President Trump on Monday met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, a day after demanding a DOJ investigation into whether the FBI “infiltrated” his 2016 campaign.

    “Based on the meeting with the president, the Department of Justice has asked the Inspector General to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump Campaign,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

    Sanders said it was also agreed to that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will “immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with congressional leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested.”




  29. Grassley’s still digging elsewhere……


    “The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked the Justice Department Monday to turn over communications between former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, British spy Christopher Steele and others about the infamous anti-Trump dossier.

    In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, requested Ohr’s emails, phone logs, written notes and text messages. Grassley also asked the Justice Department to arrange for Ohr to be interviewed by Committee staff.

    Grassley wrote that he wants to know whether Ohr continued to pass information from Steele to others at the FBI after the bureau terminated the former MI6 man as a source for disclosing his relationship with the FBI to the media.

    In February, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee claimed that Bruce Ohr’s wife, Nellie, was “employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research” on then-candidate Donald Trump. They alleged that Bruce Ohr passed the research, which had been paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, on to the FBI.”

    And House Republicans are finally gonna push for something that will allow for actual criminal prosecution of Obama’s co-conspirators.


    “A group of congressional Republicans plans to introduce a resolution Tuesday calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate alleged misconduct at the FBI and Justice Department.

    The resolution is backed by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus as well as two of the group’s co-founders — Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla.

    Fox News has learned the 12-page resolution will ask a second special counsel to probe matters related to three topics: The ending of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, the progress of the Trump-Russia investigation from its origins through the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, and abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the warrant application process.

    The resolution is expected to say that a second special counsel would have greater autonomy to investigate those issues than the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General. Last week, Inspector General Michael Horowitz told lawmakers that he had completed his draft report on the Clinton investigation and submitted it to the DOJ and the FBI.”


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