Open Thread

The Open Thread for May 21, 2018

President Trump said that he would “demand” the Justice Department look into whether “any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!,” the Washington Post reports. His comment followed a six-part morning tweetstorm in which he lashed out at “the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt.”

The New York Times:  “[I]n ordering up a new inquiry, Mr. Trump went beyond his usual tactics of suggesting wrongdoing and political bias by those investigating him, and crossed over into applying overt presidential pressure on the Justice Department to do his bidding, an extraordinary realm where past presidents have rarely tread…

Legal experts said Mr. Trump’s promise of intervention had little precedent, and could force a clash between the sitting president and his Justice Department that is reminiscent of the one surrounding Richard M. Nixon during Watergate, when a string of top officials there resigned rather than carry out Nixon’s order to fire a special prosecutor investigating him.

“I can’t think of a prior example of a sitting president ordering the Justice Department to conduct an investigation like this one,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. “That’s little more than a transparent effort to undermine an ongoing investigation.”

If Mr. Trump were to follow through with the demand, Mr. Vladek added, “it seems to me that the recipients of such an order should resign — and that we’re heading for another Saturday Night Massacre.”

But a confrontation between Mr. Trump and his Justice Department over the order was not a certainty. It was not clear whether Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, or Mr. Rosenstein could refer the president’s demand to the department’s inspector general, who is already investigating surveillance of a Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Such a step could defuse the current crisis and perhaps satisfy Mr. Trump.”

President Trump’s demand that the Justice Department explore whether it or the FBI “infiltrated or surveilled” the Trump campaign is a corrupt attempt to directly interfere into an investigation into his campaign. It’s not clear how Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who is recused), Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or FBI Director Christopher Wray could carry out this order with good conscience. If Trump follows through, it’s quite possible that some or all of them resign.

Benjamin Wittes explains: “So if the President really gives Rod Rosenstein or Chris Wray an order (as opposed to Twitter bluster) demanding a particular investigation not properly predicated under FBI/DOJ guidelines for this overtly political purpose, I believe both men will resign rather than comply.

In other words, this tweet is different from other Trump craziness tweets. It’s one that promises a specific action on a specific date (tomorrow) with respect to a specific agency that will, if it takes place, precipitate a showdown.”

President Trump “raged anew on Sunday about the special counsel investigation, charging that it had turned up no evidence of collusion with Russia and was now casting a worldwide net so that it could stay active until the midterm elections and harm Republicans’ chances,” the New York Times reports. Said Trump: “Republicans and real Americans should start getting tough on this Scam.”

Rudy Giuliani told the New York Times that special counsel Robert Mueller plans to finish by September 1 its investigation into whether President Trump obstructed the Russia inquiry, the New York Times reports.  He said that “waiting any longer would risk improperly influencing voters in the midterm elections in November.”

“Mr. Giuliani’s comments were an apparent attempt to publicly pressure Mr. Mueller amid their interview negotiations. He urged that the investigation be wrapped up as soon as possible, pointing as a cautionary tale to the revelation by the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey in the last days of the 2016 presidential race that he was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Mr. Comey’s announcement is widely blamed by Democrats for costing her the election. The F.B.I. found no wrongdoing.”

Why does all the media take Giuliani’s pronouncements about what Mueller plans to do as gospel?   Given his and his client’s prolific history of lying, the reverse is indicated: assume everything is says is untrue until proven otherwise.  Giuliani is not Mueller’s spokesman.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the United States and China are stepping back from a possible trade war after two days of talks that produced “meaningful progress,” the Washington Post reports. “Despite not getting China to agree to trim its overall trade surplus with America by a specific amount, Mnuchin said the U.S. team did get a number of commitments on a framework for reducing the deficit over time, including big increases in purchases of farm products and a doubling of purchases of U.S. energy products.”

Said Mnuchin: “We are putting the trade war on hold.”

Rudy Giuliani told the Wall Street Journal that President Trump “shouldn’t agree to talk with special counsel Robert Mueller without knowing more about a man said to have approached Trump campaign aides in 2016 as part of the U.S. investigation into Russian election interference.”

Giuliani said Trump could be “walking into a trap” unless federal prosecutors make clear the role played by the suspected informant and whether the person compiled any “incriminating information” about the president’s associates.

Leonard Pitts shows how you it’s not just guns making American schools unsafe.

“Today, we will discuss one of the most pressing threats to American Christianity. Meaning, of course, American Christians. Yes, that’s an overly broad statement. All those Christians whose faith requires them to live the Good News, to feed the hungry, to house the homeless, speak for the voiceless and welcome the stranger, surely do not threaten the faith. To the contrary, they empower it. They are what Christianity is supposed to be.

But we’re here to contend with what Christianity too often is. Having seen putative Christians excuse the liar, rationalize the alleged pedophile, justify the sexual assaulter and cheer as walls are raised against the most vulnerable, it’s obvious that many of those who claim that name embody a niggardly, cowardly, selfish and situational “faith” that has little to do with Jesus.”

Josh Marshall on that FBI Informant.  “The topic here is the FBI’s use of an informant to talk to and solicit information from at least three Trump officials and advisors starting in the summer of 2016.

This is being portrayed by pro-Trump media as a major abuse on the part of the FBI, the latest discovery discrediting the Mueller probe and the investigation which preceded it. This is a wild thought. This was a major counter-intelligence investigation, trying to determine whether a hostile foreign power might have either infiltrated or be controlling a major party presidential campaign. This is entirely standard and the fact that the FBI thought it was necessary, far from discrediting the FBI, reflects very poorly, to put mildly, on President Trump and his entire campaign.

We are now faced with the stunning circumstance in which a sitting President is conspiring with friendly members of Congress against his own Justice Department and FBI, trying to out an FBI informant in order to protect himself from the law. (The Times and the Post pieces both contain enough information about the informant that anyone reasonably knowledgable able the DC foreign policy world could determine the man’s identity.) Indeed, the name of a man who appears to be that informant has already been circulating for days in the rightwing press – apparently courtesy of a leak from Rep. Devin Nunes. I tend to doubt that the informant in question is in any personal danger. He’s a US national who operates in the UK and the US. But others associated with his work for US intelligence could be endangered and their assistance to the US compromised. Probably more important, recruiting other informants will undoubtedly be more difficult when it becomes clear that domestic political fights in the US lead to informants being publicly exposed.”

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

35 comments on “The Open Thread for May 21, 2018

  1. cassandram

    It is pretty stunning that we find a handful of authoritarian and authoritarian-leaning countries were able to find a candidate for the President of the United States who was aligned with some of their views. Even more stunning that this is not a National Emergency.

    • delacrat

      ….or voters did not see much difference between Trump and the guest at his second wedding.

      • Did you see a difference? Why or why not?

        • delacrat

          I saw the difference between a war-criminal and war-criminal wannabee, which did not matter to me.

          What difference did you see that mattered?

          • So that is your single issue? No others matter?

            • delacrat

              So you voted for a war criminal or a WC wannabe.

              How does that feel?

              • I’ll answer questions when you do.

                • cassandram

                  You know, there are people on Twitter today trying to gin up support to Impeach Obama. Something tells me delacrat would be much happier with them.

              • Your man’s SCOTUS appointee just killed labor laws and worker protections. That is a direct result of trmp winning. it is a direct difference.
                C’mon delacrat, I thought you were Mr Middle class rights. fucking bot.

                • delacrat

                  Oh, so the Democrat party hacks that chose the most unpopular Democrat candidate as their nominee bear no responsibility for putting Trump in the Oval, it’s all b/c of Russia.

                  • cassandram

                    C’mon are you pro or against impeaching Obama for Trump’s russian corruption?

                    • He’s been trolling Delaware sites for 10 years at least. He’s not gonna change now. He’s never made an actual argument, pro or con, about anything. He just mocks whoever the host is with this, “Oh, so you’re for [fill in the blank]?” Seriously, look him up, see if your mileage differs.

  2. Who demanded that an imbedded informant be used to gather information from the Tump campaign and why, specifically, did they do it?

    According to The Washington Post, “The FBI didn’t use an informant to go after Trump. They used one to protect him.”…Now, that is priceless.

  3. TRADE WAR!!! China speaks and Trump and the Republicans listen. But it’s not the Chinese they are listening to, it’s hundreds of CEOs desperate to protect their investments and manufacturing in China. As for Trump’s royal wrath and kingly demand…. well, that’s nice, but it ain’t gonna happen. Mueller may well wrap it up by the election, but I suspect he’ll just let it lie low (sort of like the NRA post gun slaughter) and take it up afterwards. There’s an ever expanding variety of reasons why the investigation is not done, and more coming every day it would seem.

    • cassandram

      Add into that list the fact that a Trump company is getting $500,000,000 from the Chinese for another development project. Also add that the Chinese pretty routinely agree to demands to improve trade and routinely renege on those.

      • Agree and then renege, Trump can relate to say the least!

  4. “Who demanded that an imbedded informant be used to gather information from the Tump campaign and why, specifically, did they do it?”

    Do you have any idea how the FBI works? Apparently not. People come to them with “tips” of various reliability more of less constantly. The agency maintains a network of something like 10,000 of these people. When they hear something, they say something. They didn’t embed anyone; this guy talked to Trump people and apparently told the FBI what they said.

    The Donald Trump campaign, like the Trump Organization before and during the campaign, was in regular contact with people in Russia and the Middle East, either for business purposes, political purposes or both. Since 9/11 our intelligence agencies are supposed to run down tips about stuff involving the Middle East, and Russia has been our intelligence-agency enemy for almost 75 years. Whether they were under the impression he was colluding or being taken advantage of is not important; the point was that they had to look into it if they’re doing their jobs.

    Hillary Clinton was in regular contact with such people, too — not because she was looking for investment cash but because she was Secretary of State. If you’re upset about the Clinton Foundation, what Trump is doing is in the same vein but, because he’s simply pocketing the money without the pretense of doing any charitable work, so, so much worse.

    In short, to even type the shit you just did you have to have either addled wits or the morals of a viper.

  5. cassandram

    It’s Politico: Bernie’s army in disarray

  6. Yeah, just a good Samaritan doing his duty ferreting around the Trump campaign, and James Comey or Peter Strzok would never abuse the integrity of their positions, right? Standard operating procedure, nothing to see here.

    Trump is accusing the FBI of using surveillance for political purposes, and as the head of the Executive Branch, and even though the investigation would involve himself, there is no previous or active Supreme Court case that would set a precedent against this action, so technically he can “demand” an investigation, although it may hurt him politically….Or he could just see if Jeff Sessions would do it.

    • cassandram

      When I find myself stunned at the depth of your stupidity, I remember that you get your info from Fox Noise or wingnut radio. Because for you to mount up a defense of this means that:

      1. It is immaterial to you that we have a President of the United States who is being bribed by foreign countries.
      2. That an administration that is more corrupt than Richard Nixon is trampling over both laws and law enforcement to protect that corruption — And you are just fine with that.
      3. That you actually believe that the Obama Admin would put a mole in the Trump campaign to get dirt on their corruption and then not use it to help Hillary win.

      I know that you think that you are stirring up the liberals here, but I don’t think that you are at all aware at how profoundly stupid most of us find you. If you can’t add anything other than a defense of corruption of lawlessness, then go somewhere where that is ok.

      • @RSE: What I said above has now turned out to be exactly the case. The “embedded” tipster is a veteran of the Ford and Nixon administrations who was so worried about what he was hearing from Trump cohorts that he went to the FBI.

        What part of your fever dream has turned out to be true? You really have to stop getting your “news” from propagandists if you want to know what you’re talking about.

        The really sad part is that DD gives you a roundup of news from legitimate sources every day, and instead of reading and learning you try to argue with it.

  7. “@RSE: What I said above has now turned out to be exactly the case. The “embedded” tipster is a veteran of the Ford and Nixon administrations who was so worried about what he was hearing from Trump cohorts that he went to the FBI.”

    Turned out to be exactly the case was it? Well, Stefan Halper was outed a while ago, and he is not just some guy who was “so worried” that he went to the FBI. Halper is a long time CIA and MI6 operative, he knew exactly what he was supposed to do.

    If this had been done to any Democrat campaign you all would be screeching from tallest mountain. The tangled web of lies is getting harder to spin. You just watch. They are now going to have to produce an informant from the Hillary campaign in order to make this story plausible. I mean, if the FBI had an informant in the Trump campaign to “protect” it, then wouldn’t they have one in the Hillary campaign to do the same, seeing that it was apparently “hacked” by the Russians? ( Which never was proven by the way)

  8. In what way do you not understand that what Trump did was illegal? And before you start telling us how we would act, why don’t you look in the mirror and try to understand why you’re OK with a traitor in the White House?

    • Again, your reliance on the daily ad hoc explanations of Trump’s criminality shows your media consumption habits have served you poorly. Instead of worrying about Hillary, try explaining why Trump is selling American foreign policy to the highest bidder.

  9. Are you talking about Russian collusion by the Trump campaign? You know that there is zero evidence of any collusion, right? In fact there is more and more information coming out that Halper and Downer may have helped set up George Popadapoulos.

    During “a night of heavy drinking”, Popadapoulos ,a twenty seven year old kid at the time, blurted out second hand information that was told to him by Joseph Mifsud ( self proclaimed member of the Clinton Foundation), to Alexander Downer, that he heard Russia had dirt on Hillary. Downer told Australian intelligence about it, and they forwarded it to the US.

    • YOU don’t know there is 0 evidence. You only know what Fox tells you, moron.
      You know why no one knows anything? Because unlike the dipshit Teabagger king in the WH, Mueller’s team has 0 leaks, 0 drama, and total professionalism. Something Magats like you clearly recoil from.

      Now if you REALLY want a scandal, I heard that millions of Americans voted against your leader for PURELY POLITICAL reasons! the horror.

    • cassandram

      What I know is that Mueller has gotten five guilty pleas and 17 criminal indictments out of this investigation. If you are paying attention (not@RSE since he clearly is not) several more are queued up for indictments. Compare that to years of Benghazi hearings with no indictments, no guilty pleas. The closer Mueller gets to the GRIFTUS, the more apoplectic he gets and tells @RSE that there is no collusion. Of course, no one here besides @RSE thinks that the GRIFTUS is a source of truth for anything.

      • my big, unsoothable worry is that Tmp will do something truly awful and Congress won’t do shit. Nice as the mid-term predictions seem, there is no was Dems take full control enough to impeach the fucker. The GOP (fuck it, registered party members AND elected officials) have shown they love their leader more than this country.

  10. I am partly talking about Russian collusion, now along with collusion with several Middle Eastern countries.

    But Trump’s criminality goes far deeper than anything involving the campaign. He was, quite obviously to anyone who’s examined the evidence, laundering money from Russia and Eastern Europe (possibly elsewhere, too; we’ll see). If you had been following any of this in the free press (what you call the MSM), you’d know that Trump was seen as possibly compromised by Russia at least as early as 2013.

    These pathetic straws your overlords grasp at are seen as just that by anyone who knows how the federal government actually works. Your propaganda masters don’t; they only hire people who agree in advance with their agenda (and even a few of those are aware of how many people are going to prison here). Only uneducated fools who know no more about the FBI than they’ve seen in movies think anything like these conspiracy theories are plausible.

    Not to put too fine a point on this, but I spent 40 years in the media. I got to know the Justice Department and how it works quite well from covering Tom Gordon’s years in office. And, while I cut my own lawn, I wouldn’t go around telling you that you don’t know how to do it right.

    • “And, while I cut my own lawn, I wouldn’t go around telling you that you don’t know how to do it right.”

      But, you tell others what they should believe. HaHA

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