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A Real American speaks her mind

A Real American speaks her mind

by digby

I think this woman speaks for a lot of Trump voters:

Trump tapped into a powerful hate.

Here's a similar example:

He didn't create it. It was already there, waiting for him.


QOTD: A security professional

QOTD: A spook

by digby

I wonder if this is a common feeling among members of the intelligence community right now?

In his stops in Brussels, London and Helsinki, President Donald Trump demonstrated that he is as much an advocate for Russia’s interests than if he were indeed recruited by Russian intelligence and formally responding to Russian tasking. In fact, his handlers would probably exercise a greater degree of subtlety and discretion to ensure he did not go too far in revealing himself as an agent for Russian policies and interests. If there is a silver lining in this disastrous trip, surely NATO, as well as leaders in Germany and the United Kingdom, must now realize that they cannot trust what the US President says, appears to do, or promises. This lesson will be useful for our allies in forging a more independent pathway moving forward, until this American nightmare is over.

But Trump did go too far in revealing his true colors. The US intelligence community can no longer trust the President’s judgment after he clearly sided with Russia in the Mueller investigation and the underlying intelligence information that formed the basis of the indictments of twelve Russian military intelligence officers. If I were still an active CIA officer at the senior leadership level, I would seriously have to consider resigning on principle, rather than serve positions that our president has espoused at the side of the Russian president. For the already diminishing number of die-hard advocates of efforts to improve the US-Russia relationship, the summit was a death blow. History has proven that US-Russian relations must be based on a position of mutual strength, not weakness. Courageous advocates of giving Putin and Russia a chance in spite of all the incidents of naked aggression have been exposed as naive, if not downright irresponsible. The purpose of pursuing channels of communications and high level contacts will be seriously questioned by this summit, and justifiably so. For what purpose would Americans reach out to Russia in a bid to increase trust, as President Putin underscored in his summit statement, when our own president is either delusional or willing to accept attacks on the United States and on the very institutions of western democracy, even when practiced in an acute form?

Which raises the final, most worrisome observation. Donald Trump said what he said in Helsinki because he believes it. Our own president believes in the zeitgeist of the 21st century autocrat, the leader who controls events and is able to crush all barriers to absolute rule. Trump respects the strong, the unbridled leader who through the force of personality and a position of strength are able to bully and silence their critic. Free press. “Fake news.” Rule of law. What’s the law? Pardon militiamen and rule-of-law-crushing sheriffs instead. Civil rights and civil liberties? Gone too far and needs a correction. For Donald Trump, the core values of American democracy are to overcome, not to respect and defend.

This is a time for choosing. Government officials, senior and junior alike, take an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States, not to obey any single President. The calculus of whether to resign or stay must be based on whether one is able to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States from within or from without. Serving the interests of this president is not serving the country


It was a yuge success of course

It was a yuge success of course

by digby

Dotard had thought he had it covered:

Immediately after his news conference, Trump's mood was buoyant, people familiar with the matter said. He walked off stage in Helsinki with little inkling his remarks would cause the firestorm they did, and was instead enthusiastic about what he felt was a successful summit.

By the time he'd returned to the White House just before 10 p.m. ET on Monday, however, his mood had soured. Predictably, the President was upset when he saw negative coverage of the summit airing on television aboard Air Force One. It was clear he was getting little support, even from the usual places.

He vented to aides traveling with him, including new communications chief Bill Shine and policy aide Stephen Miller. First lady Melania Trump was also aboard and was involved in some of the discussions, but not all of them, the people familiar with the matter said.

Trump, the first lady, Shine and Miller were seen in animated conversation aboard Marine One when they arrived to the White House South Lawn on Monday evening.

A day later, aides are still wondering what the ultimate fallout will be, including whether any senior officials will resign. Those who were not on the trip are waiting to debrief their colleagues later in the day about what transpired behind the scenes. All are nervously watching Twitter to see if the President attempts further cleanup beyond his tweet after the event Monday when he said he has "GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people."
 Well, so far:

By the way:

Administration officials had hoped that maybe, just maybe, Monday’s summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would end differently — without a freewheeling 46-minute news conference in which Trump attacked his own FBI on foreign soil and warmly praised archrival Russia.

Ahead of the meeting, staffers provided Trump with some 100 pages of briefing materials aimed at laying out a tough posture toward Putin, but the president ignored most of it, according to one person familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal deliberations. Trump’s remarks were “very much counter to the plan,” the person said.

“Everyone around Trump” was urging him to take a firm stance with Putin, according to a second person familiar with the preparations. Before Monday’s meeting, the second person said, advisers covered matters from Russia’s annexation of Crimea to its interference in the U.S. elections, but Trump “made a game-time decision” to handle the summit his way.


Rand Paul Running Away From Things: An Ongoing Series

As we have noted on this little blog many, many times, at the slightest provocation the easily-startled, over-caffeinated badger that lives on top of Ran Paul's head will run away from any democratic principle dragging the junior senator from the great state pf Kentucky right along behind it.

For example, this...
Rand Paul to travel to Russia after downplaying election meddling

And this:

Rand Paul does this because "treason" is the Republican default setting.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


That NRA gal?

That NRA gal?

by digby

Josh Marshall looked at the complaint against Butina and notes that it's clear she was involved in a Russian government operation to infiltrate the NRA with the purpose of influencing American politics. I think his conclusion may be correct:

But reading the complaint gave me a different sense. Here’s Butina, in active conversation with the man who is in effect her handler, Torshin, working with two Americans to find points of entry into U.S. political networks during the 2016 campaign and before, “building a team of advisors on Russia for a new President.” These are almost exactly the kinds of semi-furtive relationships we seem to see all around the Trump world and the Trump campaign – unexplained meetings that are all of course happenstance and by chance. But here it is spelled out in some detail, with key telling emails and more. If you’ve watched this story in detail, there are lots of players like this in the mix. It’s hard to imagine there aren’t lots of Russians like Butina working with Americans like U.S. Person 1 and 2. In most cases, we know or can pretty well predict who they are. I could not read this complaint without thinking it was a template for more we are likely to see soon, and probably ones Mueller is unlikely to hand off to outside prosecutors.

This is from a subscription only article. I urge you to subscribe if you can. Josh's insights on this story are valuable.


About that Magnitsky thing

About that Magnitsky thing

by digby

Be sure to read Emptywheel's fascinating take on the Helsinki Summit. This in particular is extremely intriguing:

I know there are a lot of people who aren’t as convinced as I am that a clear agreement was reached between Trump’s top aides and Putin’s emissaries at the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting. For doubters, however, Vladimir Putin just re-enacted the meeting on the world stage at the Helsinki summit
On top of the denials, from both sides, of Russian tampering in the election (and both sides’ embrace of a joint cybersecurity working group), that re-enactment came in three ways. 
First, when asked whether Russia tampered in our election, Putin issued a line that was sort of a non-sequitur, asserting that, “I was an intelligence officer myself. And I do know how dossiers are made of.” The line — a reference both to the Steele dossier and Putin’s more damaging kompromat on Trump — is pregnant with meaning (and probably was planned). When asked, later, whether he had any compromising information on Trump or his family, Putin said, “Now to kompromat. I did hear these allegations that we collected kompromat when he was in Moscow. I didn’t even know he was in Moscow.” 
This is a reference to the pee tape, allegedly taped when he put on Miss Universe in Russia in 2013. But it’s premised on a claim about which there is sworn counter-evidence in the US. Rob Goldstone — the guy who set up the June 9 meeting — described how Putin not only knew Trump was in Moscow, but was still trying to fit in a meeting with him.
So not only did Putin lie about whether there could be a pee tape (I don’t think there is one, but I think the 2013 involves compromise in another way), but did so in a way that invoked the Agalrovs as Trump’s handlers going back years. 
And did you notice that he never denied having kompromat? 
Then, in a response to one of the questions about Putin’s tampering in the election, after he suggested that he’d be willing to have Mueller come to Russia to question the GRU officers who hacked Hillary, he demanded similar cooperation on his legal issues. He then raised Bill Browder (who is no longer a US citizen), complaining that
Aside from being muddled, both in Putin’s delivery and the translation, this is precisely the dangle that Natalia Veselnitskaya used to get into Trump’s campaign back in 2016 to ask to have the Magnitsky sanctions overturned.
This was simply Putin laying out his receipts of Trump’s compromise on the world stage.
And it went down to the wire. It was on the day of the contest itself that maybe around 4:00 in the afternoon Emin called a few of us into a conference room at Crocus, and his Dad, Aras, was there. And we were told that a call was coming in through from a Mr. Peskov, who I know to be Dmitry Peskov, who I believe is a spokesman for Mr . Putin, and there’d be an answer. And the answer I think, as I may have stated the last time I saw you, was that due to the lateness o f the newly crowned King of Holland who’d been delayed in traffic, whether air or road traffic, Mr. Putin would not be able to meet with Mr. Trump. However, he invited him to Sochi, to the Olympics, and said he’d be happy to meet him here or at any future time. And that’s how it was left, so there would be not meeting taking place.
So not only did Putin lie about whether there could be a pee tape (I don’t think there is one, but I think the 2013 involves compromise in another way), but did so in a way that invoked the Agalrovs as Trump’s handlers going back years.
And did you notice that he never denied having kompromat?
Then, in a response to one of the questions about Putin’s tampering in the election, after he suggested that he’d be willing to have Mueller come to Russia to question the GRU officers who hacked Hillary, he demanded similar cooperation on his legal issues. He then raised Bill Browder (who is no longer a US citizen), complaining that
For instance, we can bring up Mr. Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over $1.5 million [sic] in Russia. They never paid any taxes, neither in Russia nor in the United States. And yet the money escaped the country, they [sic] were transferred to the United States. They sent huge amount of money, $400 million, as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
There's more ... great stuff.


What’s Putin got on Trump that has him quivering like a frightened rabbit?

What's Putin got on Trump that has him quivering like a frightened rabbit?

by digby

My Salon column this morning:

I wrote yesterday in advance of the big summit in Helsinki that this was going to be the the big finale of his Chaos Tour, with pyrotechnics and explosions and Trump and Putin smashing up their guitars and setting them on fire. And was it ever. It may have been the most astonishing political press conference ever witnessed.

I think everyone expected it to be strange. But this was downright surreal. After meeting privately for two hours the two men faced the press and Trump essentially pledged his fealty to Vladimir Putin. He blamed America for the bad relationship with Russia, relived the glory of his election, attacked Hillary Clinton and Peter Strzok, babbled incoherently about "servers" and Pakistanis and once again he questioned whether Russia was truly involved in the election hacking. He was thrilled that Putin had offered an absurd reciprocal arrangement whereby Mueller's team could come to Moscow and interview Russian spies in exchange for Russian intelligence agents being read in to American spying capabilities.

When asked if he would denounce Putin for 2016 and warn him to never do it again he ranted unintelligibly about why nobody can find "the server" and then this popped out:

My people came to me, Dan Coates came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.
It's hard to believe an American president would say such a thing standing next to the man his entire government knows ordered the interference in the election and say that but he did. He said this too:

Putin meanwhile smiled like a cheshire cat as he denied the charges. And when asked if he had the "kompromat" on Trump that was mentioned in the Steele dossier, he didn't exactly deny it:

When President Trump was at Moscow back then, I didn’t even know that he was in Moscow. I treat President Trump with utmost respect, but back then when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in Moscow.
He could have come right out and admitted that he'd done it, but it wouldn't have been nearly as convincing. Trump grinned and nodded robotically at Putin's every word looking for all the world like ... a puppet.

The reaction from the press and the political establishment has been explosive.

Even Sen, Mitch McConnell R-KY, was compelled to speak out after thinking about it for a few hours:
The Russians are not our friends. I’ve said that repeatedly, I say it again today. And I have complete confidence in our intelligence community and the findings that they have announced.” 
Democrats all denounced it, needless to say, many coming right out and saying that Putin must have something on Trump. Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer D-NY demanded that the national security team that accompanies Trump to Helsinki testify before congress immediately.

Both Trump and Putin gave interviews to Fox after the Summit. Trump spoke to his most devoted sycophant Sean Hannity:

Putin spoke with the much more formidable Chris Wallace. This will give you a flavor of how it went:
Wallace tried to give Putin a copy of the indictments against the 12 Russian intelligence officers and he wouldn't take it. I'm sure Trump was terribly embarrassed that his good friend was so ill treated had a word with Hannity about it later.

It's likely that the Republican establishment will soon fall back into their comfortable posture that Trump is just being Trump and those tax cuts make it all worthwhile but there's a slim possibility that this event will shift the dynamic simply because nobody's ever seen any president behave like this before.

Certainly there are things they could do. As James Fallows wrote in the Atlantic:

Those who could do something are the 51 Republican senators and 236 Republican representatives who have the power to hold hearings, issue subpoenas, pass resolutions of censure, guarantee the integrity of Robert Mueller’s investigation, condemn the past Russian election interference, shore up protections against the next assault, and in general defend their country rather than the damaged and defective man who is now its president.
Trump just spent days treating the leaders of the NATO countries as if they're his personal servants. He couldn't be bothered to learn the protocol to behave properly around the 92 year old Queen of England. He bullies everyone in his own party and the opposition. He calls the press "the enemy of the people." But with Vladimir Putin he turns into a bashful schoolboy, fawning and obeisant.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said out loud what most people who watched that spectacle were thinking:

A single, ominous question now hangs over the White House: What could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States? Millions of Americans will continue to wonder. The only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.”
In fact, in the Sean Hannity interview he sounded downright frightened:
I thought President Putin was very, very strong. I think we're doing really well with Russia as of today. I thought we were doing horribly before today. I mean, horribly, dangerously,I think it was great today, but I think it was really bad five hours ago. I think we really had a potential problem.
It's possible that Trump is trying to pass this off as another example of him "solving" a crisis that doesn't exist. But when you think about it, it sounds for all the world as if Putin threatened Trump in that 2 hour private meeting and Trump did exactly what he was told to do in that press conference. If Putin does have something on him it's got him scared to death.

Snivel Chamberlain

Churchill is a smelly pirate whore.
Roosevelt is a gimp in a wheelchair, and probably a Jew.
Adolph is awesome.  So powerful.  So strong.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Attention Chuck Todd: Stay Out Of My Territory

h/t to Alert Reader "Unknown" for this suggestion

Mr. Todd has been one of the most appallingly reliable Both Siderist pimps anywhere in the American media ecosystem.  His capacity to choke down normal, human gag-reflexes and (for example) give monsters like Hugh Hewitt a national media platform is the #1 reason Comcast hired him.
CHUCK TODD: ...and my pal, radio talk show host, Hugh Hewitt, who, of course, has been the must-do for every presidential contender...
And given the wildly outsized influence Meet the Press has over setting the parameters of our national political discourse, a credible case can be made that no one has done more to enable the catastrophe which now engulfs us than ol' Shuck Todd.

So fuck right off Mr. Todd.  Just fuck right the fuck off.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


American Betrayal by @BloggersRUs

American Betrayal

by Tom Sullivan

A sitting U.S. president threw his own intelligence services under the bus and sided instead with Russian president Vladimir Putin, the former KGB agent they concluded had attacked the American democratic process. It was an unprecedented betrayal before the entire world by a man formally sworn with defending this country. For those not in Donald Trump's cult of personality, it was a punch to the gut. The transcript of the Helsinki press conference on Monday cannot do it justice. Watch it here.

Donald Trump had already (and repeatedly) undermined U.S. relations with its European trading partners and NATO allies in meetings last week. Before the press conference began Monday, former U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation Michael McFaul described Trump's trip to MSNBC as a "Blame America first" tour. Germany had already declared Europe could no longer rely on a White House that considered the E.U. a "foe."

ABC's George Stephanopoulos told viewers, "All of you who were watching today will be able to tell your friends, family, your children, your grandchildren you were watching a moment of history. It may not be for the right reasons." The U.S. president winked coyly at the accused murderer of reporters and former Russian spies and behaved like a white cat in the lap of the leader of SPECTRE.

Twice when reporters directed questions to Putin, Trump jumped in to run interference for him, once on extraditing indicted Russian intelligence agents and once in regard to Russia's role in propping up Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

It is long rumored Putin has kompromat on Trump that has rendered the grandiose narcissist "an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation." That kind of skeleton "would have been discovered during any serviceman’s background investigation," tweeted retired Major General Paul Eaton Monday night. It is the only explanation for Trump's behavior, Eaton wrote, rendering him "unfit to command our troops."

National security experts warned it would be a colossal error to allow the undisciplined, amateur public servant to spend hours in a room, alone with a trained KGB officer. The press conference the two held after they emerged from their meeting was the sum of all their fears, a spectacle too improbable for a Tom Clancy novel.

A Reuters reporter asked, given the Mueller probe into Russian interference in his election, did Trump hold Russia accountable for "anything in particular," and if so what? Trump said the United States had been foolish, "we've all been foolish," for not having the dialogue earlier. "There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it," Trump interjected before attacking Democrats for losing the election to him.

Through a translator, Putin called collusion stories "utter nonsense."

But every U.S. intelligence agency concluded Russia engaged in election interference, a reporter asked later, inviting Trump to denounce what had occurred and warn Putin publicly never to do it again. Trump launched into an unintelligible disquisition on a DNC email server. He asked why his FBI had not examined it. He spoke of missing emails and questioned the conclusion of national security adviser Dan Coats:

My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it's not Russia.

I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be.

Thus, the supposed U.S. commander-in-chief questioned his entire intelligence community before the world. Jaws across the planet fell onto chests.

The president had spent the weekend "growling" over the Justice Department’s Friday indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials. A White House official said Trump believed it would hurt him politically. But no, he took care of that himself.

"One of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory," Sen. John McCain said in a formal statement. "No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant."

John Brennan, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency responded in a tweet:

“The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said in a tepid statement. "The Russians are not our friends," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters. “And I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community.” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), reports The Hill, pronounced himself “disappointed” and “saddened.”

Congressional Republicans will issue more obligatory statements of concern — maybe even "grave" concern — and do nothing in the face of their president's capitulation. They will cozy up closer to the National Rifle Association that Sunday had a Russian ally arrested as a spy by the Department of Justice. They will hurry back to confirming the president's judicial nominees to lifetime appointments, including his latest nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. In March 2016, they insisted on waiting for the American people to decide in November who picked the next justice. Now, with the Mueller investigation incomplete, they won't wait to find out if judicial nominees before them came from a traitor.

"Do you know which team you play for?" Hillary Clinton trolled Trump ahead of the Helsinki summit. "Well, now we know," Clinton replied Monday afternoon.

Peter Wehner, conservative writer and veteran of the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations, tweeted, "I reminded a friend just now what he and I have said since the dawn of the Trump era: With him, there is no bottom. If you think what he did with Putin is the low point, just wait. It'll get worse."

It's already worse. The quickest way to stanch the bleeding and preserve what is left of America's reputation is for American leaders to force Trump to resign. Yesterday, if possible.

* * * * * * * * *

For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.


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