The Open Thread for February 1, 2018

“The FBI spoke out publicly Wednesday against a GOP memo criticizing the bureau’s use of surveillance authorities, challenging the classified document’s accuracy as the White House and congressional Republicans are expected to soon make its contents public,” the Washington Post reports.

From a statement: “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about the material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

New York Times: “Christopher Wray, the FBI director, clashed publicly with the president for the first time on Wednesday, condemning a push by House Republicans to release a secret memo that purports to show how the bureau and the Justice Department abused their authorities to obtain a warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser.”

He had privately “told the White House he opposes the release of a controversial, classified GOP memo alleging bias at the FBI and Justice Department because it contains inaccurate information and paints a false narrative,” Bloomberg reports.

President Trump was overheard telling a GOP lawmaker he’s going to release it to the public anyway.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) claimed late Wednesday that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) shared with President Trump an edited version of the Republican-crafted memo alleging abuse of United States surveillance powers by the Justice Department, The Hill reports.

Said Schiff: “Discovered late tonight that Chairman Nunes made material changes to the memo he sent to White House – changes not approved by the Committee. White House therefore reviewing a document the Committee has not approved for release.”

“Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein visited the White House in December seeking President Trump’s help. The top Justice Department official in the Russia investigation wanted Trump’s support in fighting off document demands from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes,” CNN reports.

“But the President had other priorities ahead of a key appearance by Rosenstein on the Hill… Trump wanted to know where the special counsel’s Russia investigation was heading. And he wanted to know whether Rosenstein was ‘on my team.’”

Greg Sargent on the Dems releasing their own memo: “Given the apparent levels of bad faith on display here, do Democrats have any recourse? When I asked Himes if Democrats would take dramatic steps — such as reading the Schiff rebuttal on the floor, if Republicans and/or Trump block its release — he said he couldn’t guarantee that. But Himes did suggest the Nunes memo would blow up in the faces of Trump and Republicans, because its shoddiness will be so obvious and because Democrats will be freer to make the case against it.

“Smart people all over the country will read this thing and realize what a piece of middle school work it is,” Himes said. “If the Nunes memo is declassified, it will have the effect of declassifying some things that I can’t even talk about. So there will be a lot more scope for discussion.”

New York Times: “Aboard Air Force One on a flight home from Europe last July, President Trump and his advisers raced to cobble together a news release about a mysterious meeting at Trump Tower the previous summer between Russians and top Trump campaign officials. Rather than acknowledge the meeting’s intended purpose — to obtain political dirt about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government — the statement instead described the meeting as being about an obscure Russian adoption policy.”

“The statement… has become a focus of the inquiry by Robert Mueller… Prosecutors working for Mr. Mueller in recent months have questioned numerous White House officials about how the release came together — and about how directly Mr. Trump oversaw the process.”

“What is already clear is that, as Mr. Trump’s aides and family members tried over 48 hours to manage one of most consequential crises of the young administration, the situation quickly degenerated into something of a circular firing squad. They protected their own interests, shifted blame and potentially left themselves — and the president — legally vulnerable.”

Kerry Eleveld at Daily Kos: “Democrats cannot afford to let Republicans dictate the terms of this discussion without a thorough and informed rebuttal. The GOP base is going to believe whatever crackpot theory White House errand boy Devin Nunes has cooked up, but sway-able voters must be given enough information to make an informed decision. If Democrats wait to see how the Nunes memo is received, they will immediately forfeit their opening to level the playing field.

As for the information being classified, it’s certainly not ideal and surely there are ways to mitigate the damage while still providing an illuminating response. But Democrats easily can and should argue that Republicans chose to open this debate by releasing classified materials, leaving Democrats no choice but to give the American people the full complement of information they needed to assess the legitimacy of the secret memo.

These are extraordinary times and counting on “smart people” to simply land on the right conclusion without providing them the necessary tools to get there is a disastrous path for Democrats.”

“Economic growth in the 19 countries that use the euro currency was 2.5% in 2017… Growth in the 28-member European Union also reached 2.5% last year,” CNN reports.  “It’s the best period of growth for both groupings since 2007, putting Europe just ahead of the 2.3% expansion posted by the U.S. in 2017.”

Meanwhile, in the UK, “the government’s new analysis of the impact of Brexit says the UK would be worse off outside the European Union under every scenario modeled,” BuzzFeed News reports.

Bloomberg: “It said that each of the three scenarios modeled, from no trade deal with the EU to membership of the European Economic Area, would bludgeon growth. The hardest Brexit would leave the economy 8 percent smaller than otherwise in 15 years time, and the softest would still slow growth by 2 percent.”

Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare on the lie (or illogic) behind the whole smear against the Mueller investigation.   “In other words, to believe—as so many Trump defenders seem to—that there is something defective about the Mueller investigation, one has to believe not merely that the Obama administration conducted inappropriate surveillance against the Trump campaign based on laundered opposition research from the Democratic National Committee. You also have to believe that the Trump administration itself is still doing it. You have to believe—or have to choose to believe—that Rosenstein is a corrupt actor out to get the president.

That belief is a political choice. It is a political choice to accept a big lie that the president and his defenders have been peddling for months about federal law enforcement and intelligence.”

The Justice Department turned over a cache of internal correspondence to special counsel Robert Mueller,” including documents related to the proposed resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year and emails with the White House about fired national security adviser Michael Flynn,” ABC News reports.

“The White House’s original choice for U.S. ambassador to South Korea is no longer expected to be nominated after he privately expressed disagreement in late December with the Trump administration’s North Korea policy,” the Washington Post reports.

“Victor D. Cha, an academic who served in the George W. Bush administration, raised his concerns with National Security Council officials over their consideration of a limited strike on the North aimed at sending a message without sparking a wider war — a risky concept known as a ‘bloody nose’ strategy.”

Newly-obtained emails “show the FBI agent at the center of a Capitol Hill storm played a key role in a controversial FBI decision that upended Hillary Clinton’s campaign just days before the 2016 election: the letter to Congress by then-FBI Director James Comey announcing the bureau was investigating newly discovered Clinton emails,” CNN reports.

“The new revelation about FBI agent Peter Strzok comes as Republicans accuse him of being sympathetic to Clinton while seeking to undermine Donald Trump during the heat of the 2016 campaign season.”

“Strzok, who co-wrote what appears to be the first draft that formed the basis of the letter Comey sent to Congress, also supported reopening the Clinton investigation once the emails were discovered on disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop.”

Ramesh Ponnuru: “Trump’s departure from State of the Union norms is partly a function of what we might call, optimistically, his novel governing style. But it also reflects his party’s lack of an agenda. The congressional Republicans don’t have any clearer sense of what they want to do in 2018. There’s nothing they all want to do legislatively that they think they can achieve or, relatedly, make popular.”

“The rap on most State of the Union addresses is that they are ‘laundry lists.’ This time the president, like his administration and party, was listless.”

“A train carrying members of Congress to their legislative retreat in West Virginia, hit a truck Wednesday,” CNN reports.  “One GOP source was unsure how many members of Congress were on the train or how many people were injured, but said there were injuries.”

Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times tweets: “Fortunately there is on the scene an entire trainload of experts in administering ‘thoughts and prayers.’”

“In a shocking turnaround, the U.S. Justice Department has dropped its case against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Newark Star Ledger reports.

“The decision will have major political consequences for Menendez, who is seeking re-election to the Senate this year and faced the possibility of a retrial on the eve of that campaign.”

Menendez still should resign.  Let’s give a noncorrupt New Jersey Democrat a chance.

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

23 comments on “The Open Thread for February 1, 2018

  1. Well reasoned and deliberate take on the immigration debate courtesy of the Old Grey Lady… More of this type of writing and less Krugman and I would consider a subscription…

    • Yeah, small concessions and a laundry list of things you want always goes over well. We’ve seen this a dozen times from Trump, none of the games have attracted Dem support, and with Trump none ever will.

    • What’s the part you admire? The part where he says Trump has Democrats over a barrel? How do you justify your position on the issue?

      • It’s a well written, balanced piece, not the normal unabashedly Democratic cheerleading you see in the Times.

        The fact is that ending chain migration and the visa lottery poll at 60-70%. These are majority positions and Schumer and Pelosi both know it.

        • So basically it says things you like so you approve. So deep.

          Your polling is cherry-picked, by the way. Go look it up, since you didn’t provide a link.

          • Here ya go.


            Page 67 for the chain migration results (79-21 against)

            Page 72 for the lottery (68-32 against)

            Page 74 for Trump’s “four pillars” (65-35 in favor)

            And that’s registered voters. How do you think the numbers look for likely voters? Likely midterm voters?

            • You don’t get it. I did look it up. It’s bullshit. Here’s the “chain migration” question:

              “Do you think immigration priority for those coming to the U.S. should be based on a person’s ability to contribute
              to America as measured by their education and skills or based on a person having relatives in the U.S.?”

              It’s not an either/or question. Current policy allows both. A poll is only worth the questions it asks.

              Polling only voters is another layer of bullshit. If you’re going to cite public support, it can’t just depend on some polling organization’s idea of who will vote — or even if those people are currently registered to do so. Plus an online poll, so self-selecting.

              Gotta do better than that.

              Let’s get back to why you liked the article. You’ve cited nothing more than your agreement with its position. This in a shallow basis for critique.

              • Forgot to add that, given the way the question is asked, I, too, would register as being “against” “chain” migration. I’m not, but I would place merit above it.

                See how misleading that is?

              • Yeah, well, I presented data. You presented “This is what Alby thinks”, or more accurately “What Alby read in an NPR article”. I’m not real impressed, thought you were a little more of an independent thinker.

                I liked the article because an NYT writer actually took the blinders off.

                • You presented data you never looked at. And I don’t need NPR to know how to read a poll. That was the article I used to find the data you didn’t provide, and yes, it zeroed in on the problematic parts that you, significantly, have no answer for. You have no intellectual depth at all, but keep preening.

                  “Blinders” don’t enter into it. All you’re doing is demonstrating you don’t understand what you read.

                  Far more important to Edsall’s argument — and the fact that you don’t know who he is and are incapable of separating him from a faceless entity of “The New York Times” — is the fact that for most people immigration is not a high priority, but Republicans are all ginned up about it.

                  You still haven’t addressed why you think what you do about immigration. I have a hunch the reasons are pretty shallow.

  2. “Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times tweets: “Fortunately there is on the scene an entire trainload of experts in administering ‘thoughts and prayers.’”

    • Guy died in that accident and you are making jokes about it. Nice. Stay classy.

      • cassandram

        “Thoughts and prayers” is the typical response by the GOP when people die — especially by gunfire. Not a joke, but their usual offering to death.

      • I don’t like it when actual bleeding hearts use that one. Having you use it is toilet-bowl level irony.

  3. But… But…. The Almighty Memo!!! The Republicans are hard at work acting as if Nunes’s famed memo actually proves something, supposedly that the FBI is rife with Trump haters out to get Trump “deep state” style along with a host of supposedly incorrect procedures with FISA courts and documents. Suspect it’s going to be a hot air event and not much more, Nunes has been playing games with Russiagate for a long time now and has been burned and humiliated in the past. Suspect this will be no different and go the way of “Hilary gave our uranium to the Russians!”, another Hannity crusade that crashed and burned.

  4. cassandram

    Re: The Memo. Yes, it’s a fake document. But it is amazing to watch the media take up this clear fakery and give it all kinds of credibility without even knowing what is there. If this thing gets released, it will trigger epic leaks of counter information. I hope the Ds will just release their counter, but you can bet the FBI damn sure will.

  5. What do you think my position on this issue is?

  6. Not sure. That’s why I asked. This is one of those issues where some conservatives are for broader immigration and some liberals against it.

  7. In general I think it is not that big of a deal. Most people who are willing to uproot and move to another country are motivated enough that they won’t become a drag on society. If I had to draw up a list of problems faced in this country illegal immigration might not even make the top 10.

    I thought Trump did a bad job at the SOU with the big emphasis on MS13. He doesn’t need to convince the base, he needs to win over a few more people in the middle and this was the wrong approach on a issue that should be an easy win.

    However, I do have a basic problem with rewarding illegal immigrants with citizenship. It cheapens the efforts of all those that came before them and did it the right way. Therefore I think it has to be clear that any effort that will allow illegal immigrants a path to citizenship must be accompanied with more effective and consistent enforcement of existing law.

    The diversity lottery is foolish and should be abandoned. It’s an easy target for anti-immigration advocates and should be an easy concession to make to allow for a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

    I’m of a mixed mind on chain migration. I would prefer for all immigration to be merit based but recognize that there is strength in family and we need to have some compassion. Obviously spouses and children should be covered but not so sure about siblings and parents.

    • I’m glad I asked. Those sound like totally reasonable positions and concerns. I would point out that one problem with the debate is the notion that allowing people to stay in the country means allowing them citizenship. If we actually got a comprehensive overhaul, that might not be so. Many countries have “guest worker” style programs that allow them to live in the country but not to become citizens.

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