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Thursday :: May 18, 2017

How to Brief Trump on National Security

Reuters, in an article on Donald Trump's upcoming first foreign trip, reports:

Conversations with some officials who have briefed Trump and others who are aware of how he absorbs information portray a president with a short attention span. He likes single-page memos and visual aids like maps, charts, graphs and photos.

National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump's name in "as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he's mentioned," according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials. (my emphasis).

Why am I not surprised?

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Wednesday :: May 17, 2017

DOJ Taps Ex-FBI Director Mueller as Special Counsel for Russia Probe

The Department of Justice appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the investigation into "Russia's alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election, including any possible involvement of President Donald Trump's campaign in that effort."

The announcement was made by Deputy AG Ron Rosenstein, who released a statement:

"Based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command," Rosenstein said in a statement. "A special counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome. Our nation is grounded on the rule of law, and the Public must be assured that government officials administer the law fairly."

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Republicans: Abandon Trump or Sink With Him

In the Atlantic: The Week the Trump [Administration] Fell Apart (I still won't print the P word with Trump.)

Further developments yesterday: James Comey took notes.

Israel reportedly managed to infiltrate ISIS and learn of its laptop bomb plan, and now its spy is at risk.

The Washington Post reports Trump met with Russian officials and their photographer at the White House as a favor to Vladimir Putin. [More...]

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Tuesday :: May 16, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Trump continues to self-destruct and feed his aides to the wolves. Yesterday he sent staff out to make denials, only to personally admit today what they denied. Yesterday:

“I was in the room — it didn’t happen,” Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, said in an appearance outside the West Wing, which was sent into chaos on Monday afternoon by reports that the president had disclosed extremely sensitive information about an Islamic State plot.

Trump today: I had every right to disclose whatever I disclosed to Russia.

Israel is the country whose intelligence information was exposed by Trump. [More...]

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Monday :: May 15, 2017

MotorMouth of the Oval Office

On Sirius this afternoon, driving back from the jail, CNN's host and guests were practically hyper-ventilating over the latest report in the Washington Post that Trump leaked information about ISIS to Russia that was so sensitive the U.S. had not even shared it with its allies.

CNN said the White House put out a denial that didn't address the substance of the WaPO report, but instead denied things that weren't alleged. There was some doubt expressed as to whether a statement the White House released in Tillerson's name even knew about it before hand, as none of the high up officials in the State Dept. that CNN reporters talked to seemed to know about it in advance. [More...]

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Sunday :: May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day and Open Thread

Happy Mother's Day to All. I got some good news from the TL kids (there are now two) which I can now share. [More....]

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Thursday :: May 11, 2017

Trump and Pence: The Unraveling Begins

Donald Trump tells NBC's Lester Holt he decided to fire Comey before asking for Rosenstein's report.

"I was going to fire Comey-- my decision. There is no good time to do it, by the way," Trump told NBC News’s Lester Holt. “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation."

This contradicts Trump's firing letter which said he was acting at the recommendation of Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod J. Rosenstein in firing Comey.

His staff said several times he talked to Sessions and Rosenstein about Comey on Monday and decided to fire him Tuesday based on their recommendation. [More...]

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Court Filing: FBI Claims Documents on Trump Statements Are Subject of Russia Investigation

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe would not tell Congress if Trump was under investigation.

In an FOIA case pending in federal court in the District of Columbia, filed by Ryan Shapiro and Jason Leopold, the FBI has been a little more forthcoming.

In August, 2016, Shapiro and Leopold, in separate FOIA requests, asked for:

“disclosure of any and all records, including investigative records, mentioning or referring to Donald J. Trump’s statement on 27 July, 2016 [regarding Secretary Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails], ‘Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,’ and ‘I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.’”

The FBI did not timely respond, so they sued. Their cases are consolidated. In its first response, the FBI refused to confirm or deny there were documents that were responsive to the request.[More...]

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Trump's Poll Numbers Decline Further

Donald Trump's approval rating keeps on slipping. A new Quinnipiac University national poll released today (and conducted before Comey's firing)reports a 58 percent job disappproval rating. His approval rating is 36%.

Among the big losses: "white voters with no college degree, white men and independent voters."

  • 66% believe he is not level-headed
  • 64% believe he does not share their values
  • 61% believe he is not honest.
  • 59% believe he doesn't care about average Americans.

[More...]

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Wednesday :: May 10, 2017

Comey, Trump, Sessions and Rosenstein

The firing of James Comey is still big in the news. Here's some things reported today.

The New York Times reports just days ago Comey sought more money to investigate Russian interference in the presidential election. The request was made to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. A DOJ spokesperson denies it.

The new acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, according to this March 28, 2017 letter from Republican Senator Charles Grassley to Comey says McCabe is the subject of an OIG investigation. [More...]

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Tuesday :: May 09, 2017

Trump Fires James Comey

I'm a little late to the news but Donald Trump fired James Comey.

How did it happen? Apparently

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein made the case for it, Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed, and President Trump ultimately pulled the trigger.

Here are the termination letters.

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Tuesday Open Thread

What a hail storm we had yesterday. This is not snow, but hail.

Time for a new open thread, all topics welcome.

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Report Says Comey's Testimony Inaccurate

Pro Publica reports James Comey's testimony to Congress this week was inaccurate as to some major details.

FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found. On Monday, the FBI was said to be preparing to correct the record by sending a letter to Congress later this week. But that plan now appears on hold, with the bureau undecided about what to do.

....Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the “hundreds and thousands” cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made “a regular practice” of doing so .......None of the messages carried classified markings at the time they were sent.

...According to two sources familiar with the matter — including one in law enforcement — Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the “hundreds and thousands” cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made “a regular practice” of doing so. Other officials said it was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.

The Washington Post has more.

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El Chapo: The Non-Daughter and Non-Lawyer

How annoying for El Chapo's wife Emma and El Chapo that this young woman keeps showing up at court appearances claiming to be El Chapo's daughter and talking to media about how she misses her dad, when the family says he doesn't recognize her and has never lived with her or spent time with her. Her birth certificate shows someone else as her father. El Chapo has denied he's her father. She's been around a while with her claims, many of which have been proven false. Could she be a daughter of El Chapo? Yes. Could she be one that has spent time with him or anyone in the family and is recognized by him? Unlikely, given the number of El Chapo's close relatives who deny it.

Another person not to give credence to: José Luis González Meza, 73 year old histrionic activist-lawyer from Mexico who attends court appearances gets himself on the media with things like asking Trump to send El Chapo back to Mexico. He does not represent El Chapo. [More...]

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Trump Nominates 10 Conservatives For Federal Court Judgeships

Donald Trump has nominated ten people to serve as federal judges. All are conservatives.

Not a single criminal defense attorney was nominated. Several are long term prosecutors. A few were law clerks to Justice Clarence Thomas or deceased Justice Anton Scalia. Some only have state court or academic experience. [More..]

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