Senior Advisor Close to Trump is Subject of Russia Probe

Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner announced tonight that James Comey has agreed to testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in a public session. This will happen after Memorial Day.

The New York Times reports Donald Trump called James Comey a "nut job" during his meeting with Russian officials the day after he fired Comey. Trump also reportedly said by firing Comey, the pressure was off him.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”


In related news, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein's briefed both House and Senate committee members on the investigation that will be led by former FBI Chief Robert Mueller.

Today's big news was that the FBI investigation now includes a possible "cover-up" aspect. The media reports that a senior advisor to Trump who is "close to" Trump, is a significant person of interest in the investigation. Exact words: "The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official."

Who could it be? My first thought was Jared Kushner. A New York Magazine reporter says it is Kushner. The UK's Independent, citing the New York Magazine reporter agrees it's Kushner. (There is only one other senior White House adviser Stephen Miller (policy chief).

Remember when Kushner forgot to include his meetings with Russian officials on his application for a security clearance?

The omissions, which Mr. Kushner’s lawyer called an error, are particularly sensitive given the congressional and F.B.I. investigations into contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. The Senate Intelligence Committee informed the White House weeks ago that, as part of its inquiry, it planned to question Mr. Kushner about the meetings he arranged with Mr. Kislyak, including the one with Sergey N. Gorkov, a graduate of Russia’s spy school who now heads Vnesheconombank.

....In a statement, [Kushner lawyer]Ms. [Jamie] Gorelick said that after learning of the error, Mr. Kushner told the F.B.I.: “During the presidential campaign and transition period, I served as a point-of-contact for foreign officials trying to reach the president-elect. I had numerous contacts with foreign officials in this capacity. … I would be happy to provide additional information about these contacts.” No names were disclosed in that correspondence.

As Charles Pierce wrote at the time this news broke, "[W]ho among us hasn't forgotten about the times we met Russian spies who own banks."

This Reuters article on the nature of the contacts between Flynn and the Russians is pretty damning:

Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

...Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.

Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said.

...In addition to the six phone calls involving Kislyak, the communications described to Reuters involved another 12 calls, emails or text messages between Russian officials or people considered to be close to Putin and Trump campaign advisers.

The White House has acknowledged four meetings between Kisylak and Trump associates:

...Kislyak had met twice with then-Senator Jeff Sessions, who later became attorney general.

Kislyak also attended an event in April where Trump said he would seek better relations with Russia. Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, also attended that event in Washington. In addition, Kislyak met with two other Trump campaign advisers in July on the sidelines of the Republican convention.

Kushner didn't just acknowledge attending the same event as Kislyak in April, according to McClatchy, he acknowledged meeting with him in late November.

The White House also has acknowledged that Kushner met with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., in late November. Kushner also has acknowledged that he met with the head of a Russian development bank, Vnesheconombank, which has been under U.S. sanctions since July 2014.

Vanity Fair today on Jared's role in planning the Trump Family jaunt to the Middle East:

Kushner, a 36-year-old real-estate scion with no former political experience, has been briefing the president, a 70-year-old real-estate scion with no former political experience and little taste for briefings, ahead of his sit-downs with dozens of heads of state.

Jared should have stayed with real estate. The White House is not the place for those still riding bikes with training wheels.

In other Trump news, the Washington Post reports Trump insisted on cutting short his visit to Israel's Holocaust Museum. He will be there for a total of 15 minutes.

A visit to Jerusalem’s impressive Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, was also cut short at Trump’s request. Local press reports say he’s scheduled to drop by for just 15 minutes, despite requests that he spend much longer. That is barely enough time to sign a guest book.

It's hard to think of anyone more tone-deaf than Donald Trump.

< Anthony Wiener Pleads Guilty | Ivanka Subs for Pops at Saudi Twitter Forum >
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  • Display: Sort:
    Once again, Tr*mp shows his tendency (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by Peter G on Sat May 20, 2017 at 10:16:30 AM EST
    to engage in projection. Whatever accusation or insult he lodges against a perceived adversary (e.g., "crazy, a real nut job") is likely to be one he feels (or fears), on the subconscious level, could be more appropriately directed to himself.

    its been pointed out (none / 0) (#13)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat May 20, 2017 at 10:24:09 AM EST
    he thinks Comey is a nut job and Kim is a smart cookie

    personally (none / 0) (#14)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat May 20, 2017 at 10:25:45 AM EST
    i see Kim as more of a cupcake

    Maybe Ivanka? (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by MKS on Sun May 21, 2017 at 01:50:39 PM EST
    The Saudis have pledged $100 million to Ivanka's personal charity to help women.

    Trump called this "pay to play" when the Saudis donated $25 million to the Clinton Foundation.

    So, should we "lock her up?"

    The Clintons were private citizens ... (5.00 / 4) (#18)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun May 21, 2017 at 02:51:20 PM EST
    ... when the Saudis made that donation, whereas both Ivanka and her husband have offices in the West Wing. And as far as each family's respective nonprofit organizations are concerned, the Clinton Foundation actually reaches out to and helps people in need, while the Donald J. Trump Foundation was treated as its founder's own personal slush fund.

    It makes me angry all over again, remembering how our U.S. media have time and again allowed the Republicans to get away with smearing and slandering the public reputation of Hillary Clinton, and have even gleefully partaken in it themselves out of sheer personal animus.

    Given our country's current fix with regards to America's would-be 21st century equivalent of the House of Medici, seldom in our history have we ever been as grievously disserved by the 4th Estate, than as we were during its recent misguided and biased coverage of the former first lady and Secretary of State.



    This just in... (none / 0) (#1)
    by unitron on Sat May 20, 2017 at 03:41:54 AM EST
    ...identity of senior adviser revealed to be John Barron.

    : - )

    Is John Barron the role-playing father (none / 0) (#19)
    by Jack E Lope on Mon May 22, 2017 at 03:36:40 PM EST
    ...of Melania's son Baron?

    tone deaf (none / 0) (#2)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat May 20, 2017 at 07:03:27 AM EST
    not sure that covers it.  seems to me to go way beyond tone deaf.  it seems to me he has a legal and political death wish.  the repeated public declarations of his actions and intent and are simply baffling.   it in your face whaddaya gonna do about it stuff.  but tone deaf?  i once read that watching Mae West walk you got the feeling she was moving to music only she heard.  seems like Carrot Top has some serious atonal internal tunes playing under that comb over.  

    something else, someone in the white house does wish the president well.  and the kind of information thats being leaked it seems it must be some one with some juice.  its often pretty high level stuff.  i begin to wonder if smiley bobbelhead Mike Pence might have plans, and people,  of his own.

    obviously should say (none / 0) (#3)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat May 20, 2017 at 07:11:02 AM EST
    does NOT wish the president well.

    and yeah the 15 minute visit to Yad Vashem.

    really, to me that seems way worse than not even going.


    15 Minutes? (none / 0) (#16)
    by MKS on Sat May 20, 2017 at 01:33:19 PM EST
    That really happened?

    Bannon (none / 0) (#4)
    by FlJoe on Sat May 20, 2017 at 07:57:33 AM EST
    is my suspect as leaker in chief, the risk/reward for Pence seems to high. Bannon reportedly is on the outs but he has the backing of the Mercers, tRumps alt-right base and undoubtedly has enough dirt on the administration to prevent him from being fired.

    IMO, "deconstruction " Steve has always been a nihilist, perfectly willing to destroy the government in order to save it, especially if he no longer has major influence over the administration.


    perhaps (none / 0) (#5)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat May 20, 2017 at 08:11:16 AM EST
    he has definitely made public statements about Jared that some are using to assume Jared is the person of interest.
    but a couple of things.  some of the stuff being leaked seems like it might be above his now demoted pay grade.  like the official whitehouse notes on this meeting.  also, what does Bannon gain if Trump is impeached?  he just goes back to being an alt right gad fly.

    and donning my tinfoil (none / 0) (#6)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat May 20, 2017 at 08:18:06 AM EST
    i would not be at all surprised if Pence is not doing it with the approval and perhaps the cooperation of an assortment of republicans in congress.

    its becoming clear they are in the ditch.  nothing is going to happen as long as this is roiling.  no tax cuts no healthcare repeal, squat.

    Trump might be able the screwup the healthcare of millions by stopping the subsidy payment for the ACA which its reported is being considered, which will do wonders for their sh!thouse standing with voters, but we are at a legislation full stop.

    they need Trump gone.


    then there is this (none / 0) (#7)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat May 20, 2017 at 08:28:33 AM EST
    Pence starts his own PAC

    The timing of the launch, though, has raised some eyebrows, as Politico released a report Wednesday that showed conservatives are starting to ponder the phrase "President Pence" while Donald Trump's administration bleeds scandal after scandal with reports that staffers cannot seem to contain their commander in chief.

    As (none / 0) (#8)
    by FlJoe on Sat May 20, 2017 at 08:42:22 AM EST
    far as I can tell, Bannon is still "officially" part of the loop and these notes were apparently disturbed to multiple people in the west wing. It's extremely unlikely that they could be kept from Bannon with his perch that close to the center of power (physical location if nothing else) no matter which way the palace intrigue is blowing at that moment.

     While Bannon has nothing to gain from tRump's down fall he might be getting to the point where he has very little to lose. Maybe he has already seen the writing on the wall and if he is doomed to becoming a gadfly he would gladly burn the place down on the way out.

    If Bannon plays it right, he can keep his finger prints off the downfall and place the blame on Kushner and the rest of the cucks(easy enough with their suspect behaviour). He can then spend the rest of his wingnut welfare career, repeating the mantra "if he had only listened to me".


    truth is (none / 0) (#9)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat May 20, 2017 at 08:46:59 AM EST
    it might easily not be either.  there are reports rolling out every day with "senior white house officials" calling Trump a moron and a disaster.  im sure the number of career bureaucrats who want him gone outnumber the ones with the opposite view.

    It might (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by FlJoe on Sat May 20, 2017 at 10:20:16 AM EST
    be neither and it might be all of them, given the chaos in the WH I would guess it's all of them to at least some degree.

    Could (none / 0) (#10)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat May 20, 2017 at 09:20:55 AM EST
    also be Priebus doing the dirty work. Pence however is up to his eyeballs in this Russia stuff and leaking Russian news stories damages him too.

    Maybe Cheeto will defect (none / 0) (#15)
    by MKS on Sat May 20, 2017 at 01:32:28 PM EST
    and fly Air Force One to Moscow and never return.  Take Kush boy and Ivanka--she could sell her stuff there.

    Another (none / 0) (#20)
    by FlJoe on Mon May 22, 2017 at 05:55:53 PM EST
    day, another Bomb  
    Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.

    Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

    saying the NSA director (none / 0) (#21)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon May 22, 2017 at 06:08:16 PM EST
    was so freaked he had a memo written up about it.  which we will soon see no doubt.

    just overheard 'Trump is at least delivering on his campaign promise to deliver transparency in government even if its not intentional'.


    the problem they say (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon May 22, 2017 at 06:10:14 PM EST
    is not that he asked them to make statements but that he asked them to make false statements

    They probably (none / 0) (#25)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon May 22, 2017 at 07:29:30 PM EST
    are old enough to remember Watergate and are trying to protect themselves from any prosecution. It's every man and woman for themselves at this point.

    Also (none / 0) (#23)
    by FlJoe on Mon May 22, 2017 at 06:17:12 PM EST
    another nail in Flynn's coffin
    Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said Monday his panel has obtained documents "that appear to indicate" that Michael Flynn "lied to the investigators who interviewed him in 2016 as part of his security clearance renewal."

    Well, of course Trump did! (none / 0) (#24)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon May 22, 2017 at 07:17:40 PM EST
    Honestly, I expect nothing less from the guy.