The Open Thread for March 6, 2017

FBI Director James Comey continues to atone for his sins: The New York Times reported Sunday evening that FBI Director James Comey has asked the Justice Department to publicly rebuke President Donald Trump’s claim that President Obama ordered the tapping of Trump’s phones — a claim completely unsupported by evidence, and one that insinuates the Bureau broke the law. “Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected…” However, since his reported request, the Justice Department, under the evil racist and perjurer Jefferson Sessions, has not issued a statement. “A statement by Mr. Comey refuting Mr. Trump’s allegations would be a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president,” the Times writes, “putting the nation’s top law enforcement officials in the position of questioning the truthfulness of the government’s top leader. The situation underscores the high stakes of what the president and his aides have set out by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump’s young administration.”

James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence put to bed Trump’s alt-right conspiracy that President Obama personally ordered an illegal wiretap of Trump Tower in 2016, and when asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd if it existed, he unequivocally said, “I can deny it.”

Washington Examiner: “If you pay $200,000 a year to the company Donald Trump owns, you too can have access most weekends to the president and his top officials. As an alternative, your organization could cut a $150,000 check to bring in a couple of hundred people who will have a chance to schmooze with the president and cabinet officials. Foreign moguls and dignitaries welcome.”

“This isn’t Bill Clinton’s Lincoln Bedroom. This isn’t the Clinton Foundation during Hillary’s reign at the State Department. This is Mar-a-Lago.”

“Saying their patience is at an end, conservative activist groups backed by the billionaire Koch brothers and other powerful interests on the right are mobilizing to pressure Republicans to fulfill their promise to swiftly repeal the Affordable Care Act,” the New York Times reports. “Their message is blunt and unforgiving, with the goal of reawakening some of the most extensive conservative grass-roots networks in the country. It is a reminder that even as Republicans control both the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade, the party’s activist wing remains restless and will not go along passively for the sake of party unity.”

“With angry constituents storming town hall-style meetings across the country and demanding that Congress not repeal the law, these new campaigns are a sign of a growing concern on the right that lawmakers might buckle to the pressure.”

Colbert King on Trump’s latest delusions of persecution.

Some problems are hard to solve. President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama was tapping his phones prior to the election is not one of them.  The media, of course, is dutifully reporting denials of Trump’s charges from Obama’s spokesman and sources in the intelligence community.  And, as expected, Trump supporters are jumping to his defense with the argument that the media eagerly takes the word of Trump’s critics whenever they attack him, but won’t — unfairly — give credence to what Trump has to say.

Dan Balz: “Russia has become the slow burn of President Trump’s administration. It is the issue that he and his team cannot get beyond. They cannot get beyond it because they are skittish about accepting what is already known. They cannot get beyond it because they have not been as forthcoming as they could be about what they did. They cannot get beyond it because they don’t know what they don’t know.”

“It’s important to remember that much isn’t yet known about the whole controversy, particularly the contacts between Trump campaign officials or advisers and the Russians. That there were contacts is not in dispute. Some appear routine, but the circumstances and the content of all those contacts is far from fully known. It’s possible they will add up to little or nothing. It’s also possible they will add up to something significant.”

The Washington Post reports that President Trump left the White House “in a fury” on Friday, “fuming about Jeff Sessions’s recusal and telling aides that the Attorney General shouldn’t have recused himself” on a story he thought was “bull.”

Jonathan Swan: “To understand Trump’s psychology you need to grasp that the worst sin in Trumpland is to back down. The staff who’ve been with Trump the longest have internalized that fact. Their first instincts in any controversy are to deny and attack. Aides who don’t get Trump enrage him by being too willing to back down. In Trump’s mind, an inch of retreat — even if the facts seemingly demand an apology — is unforgivable.”

BuzzFeed: “A sobbing 13-year-old girl recorded the arrest of her undocumented immigrant father in Los Angeles shortly after a school drop-off, the latest deportation-related enforcement action to receive renewed scrutiny under the Trump administration.”

New York Times: “The president was irritated that Mr. Sessions did not more carefully answer the questions he was asked under oath, according to people who spoke with him. His larger frustration, however, was not with Mr. Sessions, but with whoever revealed the meetings to reporters for The Washington Post.”

“Mr. Trump, according to his advisers inside and outside of the White House, has felt besieged by what he regards as a mostly hostile bureaucracy, consisting in part of Democrats and people who opposed his election who are now undermining his presidency with leaks. He believes that they are behind the stories about confusion and dysfunction in his administration and, most of all, that they have made his relationship with Russia a recurring issue.”

Washington Post: “White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, senior adviser Stephen Miller and National Trade Council director Peter Navarro have all voiced internal support for the creation of a border adjustment tax or something like it. They believe it would incentivize companies to keep jobs in the United States and raise the cost of items that are imported.”

“But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn have raised concerns, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are private. They are backed by a number of Senate Republicans who have told the White House they would block any bill that creates a new tax on imports.”

“The divide has the potential to scuttle one of President Trump’s top domestic agenda items — tax reform, which he views as key to boosting the economy and prompting employers to create more jobs in the United States.”

“Congressional Democrats have been forcing Republicans to cast tough votes on President Trump — and they’re just getting started,” The Hill reports.

“In recent days, Democrats have triggered votes related to Trump’s tax returns, business relationships and ties to Russia in an effort to cast Republicans as complicit in the secrecy surrounding Trump’s finances.”

“None of the votes succeeded, but Democrats remain undeterred as they seek to fire up their liberal base ahead of next year’s midterm elections.”

Ed Kilgore says Trump got no bump:  “The traditional arbiter of these things, Gallup, which has done a daily tracking poll of presidential job approval since the Van Buren administration or so, had Trump at 43/52 the day of his speech. The day after he was at 43/51. Rasmussen had Trump at 50/50 on both days (though he did move up to 52/48 today, down a net point from where he was on February 24). Economist/YouGov had a poll that included some post-speech data. It showed Trump’s job-approval rating at 45/51, a deterioration from 48/48 last week.”

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8 comments on “The Open Thread for March 6, 2017

  1. DCDelaware

    Not that the Republican (so-called) President isn’t a simplistic wackadoodle, but now that the members of the Republican Congress are vowing to look into his “claims,” what are they not doing or distracting from? Seems like a bone has been thrown that they are too eager to chase instead of more appropriate tasks. I know, what could one expect? There is a vacancy that needs to be filled with the ending of Ringling Brothers.

    • There’s two camps of thought. First, that Trump does everything for a reason – that these tweets/outbursts are deliberate strategy, and second, he’s just crazy.

      I’m leaning towards a combination of both. I think Trump is unhinged and Bannon and Co. spin his tweets/outbursts into strategy. I also think some of these tweets/outbursts are deliberate, too. However, I do not think the wire tapping tweets were deliberate strategy. They have really put Trump at risk and opened doors that were previously classified.

      So, I agree that the aftermath of this wire tapping claim is going to be used as a distraction from something else, but I don’t think it was planned that way.

      Then again, I could be wrong. 🙂

  2. Interesting that Trump’s hair trigger temper and lack of restraint dominate the news, compounded by his early a.m. Twitter storms that launch fresh controversy on a daily basis. Russia is not going away and is now joined by his insane attack claiming Obama wiretapped Trump Towers, interesting to see how this plays out but I still see much of it as Nixon Part II. As for the protracted demise of Obamacare I’ll be one of the losers if the Republicans actually do repeal it in full and make assorted members of the evil rich happy. But now that we’re in the “put up or shut up” phase the repeal or die folks are having second and third thoughts on the subject, tough Ted Nuggets, own it and take the heat. As for the angry electorate going away or giving it up…. well, see you at the protest of your choice.

  3. HyperbolicDem

    There is one “bright” spot to Trump’s mental feebleness and lack of self control; none of the GOP agenda is getting pushed through. On Saturday, I tried to see the bright side of a Pence presidency if/when Trump gets pushed out. I found myself thinking that should/when Pence gets elevated, there will be no check to his dismantling of all recent strides civil and equal rights. It is a circular firing squad scenario. Pence would be much more stable for foreign policy, but we could kiss the A.C.A, abortion rights, transgender rights, gay marriage, gun control, etc., goodbye.

    We are in a dark time right now in our nation.

    • Au contraire, after a Trump resignation or impeachment we would see a kinder, gentler and less alpha holy roller Pence in office. And a pack of Dems eager to send him to where Trump just went. Hell, Carper and Coons just might join in.

      • DCDelaware

        If only. Afraid the Sens C & C might want to help sooth the nation and look for ways to help their hurt “friends.”

  4. Prop Joe

    So we brand the GOP’s replacement health care bill as “Republicare”…

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