Open Thread

The Open Thread for June 7, 2017

There have only been a few times when the entire country stops to watch a congressional hearing. 1973 with Watergate.  1987 with Iran Contra.  1991 with the Clarence Thomas hearings.  Maybe some of the Clinton Impeachment trial.   And now 2017 with former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony.  Variety reports the broadcast networks will interrupt their daytime programming to bring the hearings live.

“There will be much in former FBI Director James Comey’s upcoming congressional testimony that will make the White House uncomfortable, but he will stop short of saying the president interfered with the agency’s probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn,” a source familiar with Comey’s thinking told ABC News.

“Although Comey has told associates he will not accuse the President of obstructing justice, he will dispute the president’s contention that Comey told him three times he is not under investigation.”  One source said that Comey is expected to tell senators that he never assured Trump he was not under investigation, because such assurances would have been improper. Another source hinted that the President may have misunderstood the exact meaning of Comey’s words, especially regarding the FBI’s ongoing counterintelligence investigation.

All of the Trumps are horrible people that will burn in Hell when they die.

Forbes: “In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free–that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.”

“Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.”

“And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.”

Josh Marshall on the madness of King Donald:  “I wrote late last week that for all the horror of President Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate accord, the decision had all but nothing to do with climate policy or anything related to it. The mix of the deepening Russia scandal crisis and European leaders harsh rejection of him at Brussels have pushed the President into a rage and humiliation cycle that is playing out before our eyes.  Over the last six months one thing I’ve tried to focus on, wrestle with is the fact that Trump is clearly a floundering moron. […] Many factors went into Trump’s victory. A big part is what is probably best described as a perfect storm of contingent events: a weakened Democratic candidate, bizarre interventions by the FBI, active assistance by a foreign state, the singularly important role of political polarization which allowed Trump to consolidate softly-anti-Trump GOP support once he’d captured the nomination.

But a and perhaps the critical factor is that while Trump is not remotely strategic, he is intuitive. And he had a particular breed of wildness that was remarkably powerful in particular political moment – let’s call it the politics of vengeance and destruction. He is like a thrashing firehose of id but ripping this way and that not by the force of water pressure but by impulse, hurt and rage. We can see that to a remarkable degree in weekends like these and actually the last week where he is doing immense damage literally to the whole world and yet much or most of the damage being to himself. He is, as always, out of control – his own control most of all. The real question is whether we remain in the political moment in which Trump’s own wild and damaged self gives him improbable political power.”

Bruce Riedel: “Last month, President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and his administration announced that he had concluded a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom. Only problem is that there is no deal. It’s fake news.”

“I’ve spoken to contacts in the defense business and on the Hill, and all of them say the same thing: There is no $110 billion deal. Instead, there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts. Many are offers that the defense industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday. So far nothing has been notified to the Senate for review. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the arms sales wing of the Pentagon, calls them ‘intended sales.’ None of the deals identified so far are new, all began in the Obama administration.”

Eugene Robinson on Donald Trump and his “out of control” presidency:  “I know that is a radical thing to say about the elected leader of the United States, the most powerful individual in the world. And I know his unorthodox use of social media is thought by some, including the president himself, to be brilliant. But I don’t see political genius in the invective coming from Trump these days. I see an angry man lashing out at enemies real and imagined — a man dangerously overwhelmed. […] We already knew that Trump had a narrow mind and a small heart. Now we must wonder about his emotional stability, his grasp of reality, or both.”

Dana Milbank continues the out-of-control theme: “The president has gone rogue.  Not one-eighth of the way through his term, Donald Trump has each day become more isolated: from his own appointees and staff (whom he routinely contradicts and undermines); from world leaders (whom he regularly offends); from the courts (whose integrity he has repeatedly assaulted); from his current director of the National Security Agency and his past director of the FBI (who are both expected to give damaging testimony this week on the Russia scandal); and even from his most ardent supporters (whose enthusiasm has softened markedly in polls). […]

It has become cliche to observe that Trump’s behavior is both unprecedented and unpresidential. Perhaps we should combine the two and simply accept that Trump, to borrow one of his Twitter misspellings, is “unpresidented.”

A brutal Wall Street Journal editorial:  “Some people with a propensity for self-destructive behavior can’t seem to help themselves, President Trump apparently among them. Over the weekend and into Monday he indulged in another cycle of Twitter outbursts and pointless personal feuding that may damage his agenda and the powers of the Presidency…

In other words, in 140-character increments, Mr. Trump diminished his own standing by causing a minor international incident, demonstrated that the loyalty he demands of the people who work for him isn’t reciprocal, set back his policy goals and wasted time that he could have devoted to health care, tax reform or “infrastructure week.” Mark it all down as further evidence that the most effective opponent of the Trump Presidency is Donald J. Trump.”

As the White House braces for former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony Thursday, sources tell ABC News the relationship between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has become so tense that Sessions at one point recently even suggested he could resign.

“Trump’s anger over the recusal has not diminished with time. Two sources close to the president say he lashed out repeatedly at the attorney general in private meetings, blaming the recusal for the expansion of the Russian investigation, now overseen by Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to say whether President Donald Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, CNN reports. Said Spicer: “I have not had a discussion with him about that.”

“The press secretary’s striking refusal to reaffirm the President’s confidence in his attorney general came as reports surfaced about the President’s lingering frustrations with his attorney general’s recusal and a day after Trump took to Twitter to critique his own Justice Department, which is led by Sessions.”

US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, Qatari and US government officials say.

Intelligence gathered by the US security agencies indicates that Russian hackers were behind the intrusion first reported by the Qatari government two weeks ago, US officials say. Qatar hosts one of the largest US military bases in the region.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) told USA Today that Russian attacks on election systems were broader and targeted more states than those detailed in an explosive intelligence report leaked to the website The Intercept.

Said Warner: “I don’t believe they got into changing actual voting outcomes. But the extent of the attacks is much broader than has been reported so far.”

He added that he was pushing intelligence agencies to declassify the names of those states hit to help put electoral systems on notice before the midterm voting in 2018.

James Hohmann: “The conventional wisdom around Washington is that Trump is being impulsive as he disregards the counsel of his lawyers, who are correctly warning him that the travel ban may not survive a Supreme Court review if he continues to talk about it the way he does.”

“If Trump truly cared about the underlying ban and wanted it to be in place for the country’s security, as he claims, he would not be speaking so freely. The billionaire businessman has been mired in litigation off and on for decades and has demonstrated an ability – when his own money was at stake – to be self-disciplined.”

“The only explanation, then, is that he cares less about winning the case than reassuring his base. The number of posts reflects the degree to which Trump thinks the travel ban is a political winner. He is trying to signal for his 24 million Facebook fans and 31.7 million Twitter followers that he’s fighting for them, regardless of what the judges, the media and the Democrats say.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller “is assembling a prosecution team with decades of experience going after everything from Watergate to the Mafia to Enron as he digs in for a lengthy probe into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign,” Politico reports.

“Mueller brings a wealth of national security experience from his time leading the FBI in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Veteran prosecutors say he has assembled a potent team with backgrounds handling everyone from politicians to mobsters and who know how to work potential witnesses if it helps them land bigger fish.”

Mike Allen: “I’m told that the inside-outside machinery, as envisioned by aides who frantically planned it while Trump finished his overseas trip, may never exist. Top Republicans say the White House has been unable to lure some of the legal and rapid-response talent they had been counting on.”

Said a person involved in the conversations: “They had a pretty good structure, but they’re not able to close the deal.”

“Reasons include some power lawyers’ reluctance to work with/for lead Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz; resistance by Kasowitz to more cooks in his kitchen; and lack of confidence that Trump would stick to advice. Some prospects worry about possible personal legal bills, and are skeptical Trump can right the ship.”

 

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

20 comments on “The Open Thread for June 7, 2017

  1. At this point I think the Republicans are more worried about the coming Trump Tweet Storm than Comey’s testimony, I think Comey will do some damage. But I also think that Trump will make it worse, perhaps much worse. Liked the article by Lee Drutman, good analysis of the two party system and how it effects American politics.

  2. Oh, the tweet storm that’s coming!

    Will anyone at BD be live blogging tomorrow? I’ll be on a flight home from Seattle tomorrow. If I could postpone my flight I would!

  3. Anyone leaving Seattle for Delaware would postpone the voyage if they could.

  4. So I know I am cynical, but I am not expecting too much from this Comey appearance.

    But THIS is the place to be tomorrow!

  5. Wondering

    Hmmmmm . . . “He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been
    involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded
    when in Russia.”

  6. delacrat

    The Democrat office holders and party poobahs like to talk about Russia to avoid having to talk about Medicare-For-All or anything else that would actually benefit the voters, but would involve real work on their part.

  7. anonymous redux

    delacrat: talking about Russia hurts trump. that’s top priority right now. nothing good happens at all with him in office.

    • delacrat

      Anonymous Re,

      What’s wrong with our country goes much, much deeper than Donald Trump,….or for that matter the Republican party

  8. anonymous redux

    delacrat: and you’re not gonna fix any of if the authoritarian in charge succeeds in essentially changing our whole system of government into something much worse than even the democrats and regular republicans are giving us. insist on getting everything you want and you won’t get anything. that’ll keep you always on the outside with no real power. this is not the time for purity tests.

    • delacrat

      “…you’re not gonna fix any of if the authoritarian in charge……….” – anonymous re

      Changing the authoritarian in charge means your gonna get another authoritarian in charge. You think Prez. Mike Pence would be any better than Prez. Trump ?

      Better to focus on issues that matter than personalities that don’t.

  9. anonymous redux

    I deplore pence’s views, but believe he would operate within our political system. then next time he could be voted out. trump has no use for that political system. you think Putin, his model, would let himself be voted out? in America, sometimes the guy you don’t like wins. it’s the opposition’s job to try to convince voters that its side is the correct one.

    • Not only that, but Pence is up to his eyeballs in the Russia thing, despite the head fake about Flynn “lying” to him. That’s an attempt to try to clean the much off of him, but good luck. Pence is as dumb as a post.

    • delacrat

      “I deplore pence’s views, but believe he would operate within our political system, then next time he could be voted out.” – anonymous re

      So what if Pence would operate within the system. The system is the problem!

      • I think you’re wrong. I think the people involved are the problem.

        • delacrat

          In a problematic system, the people involved are always the problem, otherwise they don’t fit in, get funded or last.

  10. anonymous redux

    but it’s much less of a problem than an authoritarian government. or maybe you think an authoritarian government is ok if the left leads it. you’re never gonna get everything you want in a democracy.

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