THE 25TH AMENDMENT: CUCKOO IN THE NEST
POLITICO reports, “Lawmakers concerned about President Donald Trump’s mental state summoned Yale University psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee to Capitol Hill last month for two days of briefings about his recent behavior.” As POLITICO notes, “on Dec. 5 and 6, Lee briefed lawmakers — all Democrats except for one Republican senator, whom Lee declined to identify. Her professional warning to Capitol Hill: ‘He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.’” Lee warned, “We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress. Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency.” According to POLITICO, “‘One senator said that it was the meeting he most looked forward to in 11 years,’ Lee recalled. ‘Their level of concern about the president’s dangerousness was surprisingly high.’” And there is this sign of an awakening, perhaps, as, “Trump’s Tuesday night nuclear taunt managed to cause alarm even within his own party,” but the thing is, this is not his first time threatening nuclear war on Twitter. Maybe now that they have their tax cuts they can feign being woke? POLITICO adds, “On Wednesday, Lee and two other medical professionals released a statement following Trump’s late night Tweet baiting Kim Jung Un into a potential nuclear war.” They are “deeply concerned about Donald Trump’s psychological aberrations,” the statement said. POLITICO notes, “Some Trump allies have begun to worry about the conversation gaining steam,” as they should, but perhaps worry more about his mental health or nuclear war than his removal?
DER UNTERGANG: STEVE BANNON IS FIRST CASUALTY OF NEW BOOK
The Daily Beast reports, “The publication Wednesday of salacious excerpts from a new book on the Trump presidency re-opened a major fissure between the president and his former campaign CEO and chief strategist Steve Bannon.” The Daily Beast continues, “After it was reported that Bannon had called the meeting of Trump campaign officials—including Trump’s eldest son—and Russian operatives as ‘treasonous,’ Trump followed suit by saying his one-time consiglieri had lost his mind.” Of course, “Lost in it the circular firing squad, was a far more painful reality for the president himself. He’s isolated.” Alas, “it is Trump who is forced to navigate a difficult stretch of his presidency with paper-thin alliances, an increasingly cemented perception that he is well out of his depth, and a conservative press corps run by individuals either at odds with him or who think he’s a dope.” The Daily Beast reports, “Inside the White House, a bunker mentality took hold Wednesday.” Finally, at long last, the Der Untergang moment is arriving! Betrayal took hold as, “There was a sense of palpable anger at the quotes Bannon gave to Wolff for his book.” And behold, “According to White House sources, Trump personally dictated key parts of the statement bashing his former chief strategist to senior communications staff, including Communications Director Hope Hicks. He was emphatic about including put-downs such as “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” and “Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory…” Interestingly, “those who spoke with the president on Wednesday, Trump appeared more furious that Bannon appeared to take too much credit for the 2016 victory, and less focused on the ‘treasonous’ remarks,” The Daily Beast adds. There is more on the assorted damage in KNOW YOUR ENEMY. And since they have cried “fake news” so many times now, no one listens that when, “Faced with such an overwhelming flood of mockery, the White House took the only route it could: denouncing the book as being built on a series of fallacies.” That strategy has not worked so well so far.
From The Daily Beast.
TRUMP FIRES BACK WITH A CEASE + DESIST LETTER TO BANNON
ABC News reports, “Lawyers on behalf of President Donald Trump sent a letter Wednesday night to former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon demanding he refrain from making disparaging comments against the president and his family.” The lawyer who sent it, “Trump attorney Charles J. Harder of the firm Harder Mirell & Abrams LLP,” was retained by Harvey Weinstein most recently to sue The New York Times, which never happened, and previously represented Hulk Hogan in a lawsuit that was funded by tech investor Peter Thiel which led to Gawker being shutdown (the website had outed Thiel years prior). In his letter Harder writes, “You [Bannon] have breached the Agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company, disclosing Confidential Information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company,” which suggests some of the statements are true as only “some cases” are defamatory. Recall, “During the campaign, then-candidate Trump had all campaign staff sign a non-disclosure agreement which required all staff, according to campaign sources, to refrain from any disparaging comments against the candidate, his family or the Trump campaign and organization.”
From ABC News.
MANAFORT SUES SPECIAL COUNSEL, BRINGS POST-SOVIET POLITICS HOME
Reuters reports, “President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort sued Robert Mueller on Wednesday, alleging that the special counsel’s wide-ranging investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia exceeded his legal authority and needed to be reined in.” This is pure covfefe. Note how all the oligarchs’ lawsuits against American media outlets last year got batted out of the courts. Manafort is like a junior oligarch on an American budget. Reuters notes, “Manafort’s civil lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, named both Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller in May and is tasked with overseeing the special counsel’s operations.” Reuters adds, “The lawsuit asked the court to have the case against Manafort dismissed. A spokesman for Mueller’s office declined to comment.”
SO THE FBI DIRECTOR + DEPUTY AG WALK INTO PAUL RYAN’S OFFICE…
The Hill reports, “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray met with Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday about the House Russia investigation”. The Hill adds, “The meeting in the Speaker’s office came at the request of Rosenstein and Wray”. Both the FBI and the Justice Department have come under attack from Republicans alleging all manner of deflecting conspiracies. A POLITICO source “said it was related to a document request issued over the summer by House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes.” CNN adds, “House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes announced Wednesday evening that the committee had reached an agreement with the Justice Department about his outstanding document and witness requests related to the Russia investigation.” According to CNN, “Nunes said in a statement that he spoke with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday evening and ‘looks forward to receiving access to the documents over the coming days.’” DARKNESS AT NUNES!
MCMASTER OF HIS DOMAIN: U.S. MUST REVEAL RUSSIAN MEDDLING
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Top White House adviser H.R. McMaster says one of the most important tasks in defending U.S. national security is to reveal Russia’s ‘insidious’ interference in elections worldwide to prevent Moscow from meddling again in the democratic process.” McMaster told Voice of America in essence the U.S. has been too busy putting out fires created by the fake president to develop a strategy, stating, “What we have to do is come up with a way to deal with this very sophisticated strategy [of meddling]”. McMaster added, “This new kind of threat that Russia has really perfected…the use of disinformation and propaganda and social-media tools to really polarize societies and pit communities against each other, to weaken their resolve and their commitment”. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “McMaster said that ‘insidious is the right word’ to describe Russia’s actions”.
U.S. COURT RULES AGAINST CRYSTALLEX OVER CITGO COLLATERAL
Reuters reports, “A U.S. court has dismissed Canadian gold miner Crystallex’s lawsuit against asset transfers by Venezuelan-owned refiner Citgo as part of a long-running dispute over the South American nation’s 2008 nationalization of the company’s assets. Crystallex International Corp is seeking to collect $1.2 billion plus interest awarded in 2016 by a World Bank tribunal against Venezuela, which Venezuela has refused to pay.” Reuters adds, “The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals accepted the defendant’s request to dismiss the suit because Crystallex’s claim is against Venezuela rather than Citgo, which is owned by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.” Recall, PDVSA is very indebted to Russian state-owned firm Rosneft as is the Venezuelan state to Russia. PDVSA’s stake in Citgo became a matter of U.S. national security concern as Russia seemed poised to maneuver the American oil company into its control, something several Senators strenuously objected to.
NAVALNY APPEALS TO RUSSIA’S SUPREME COURT
The Moscow Times reports, “Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has appealed the Russian Supreme Court ruling that bars him from registering as a 2018 presidential candidate.” His lawyer Ivan Zhdanov said over the weekend that, “The court struck down Navalny’s initial appeal, upholding a decision made by election officials who shut down his presidential bid over a criminal conviction”. According to The Moscow Times, “Navalny and his supporters argue the opposition leader’s charges are a politically motivated, citing a past European Court of Human Rights rulings asserting that his right to a fair trial was violated.”
From The Moscow Times.
LET NO NAVALNY REGISTER
Meanwhile Meduza reports, “Russia’s Central Election Commission has received candidacy applications from 64 people for the March 2018 presidential election — ‘more than in recent years,’ according to commission member Evgeny Shevchenko.” Meduza notes, “So far, the only officially registered candidate is Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who doesn’t need to collect any signatures to appear on the ballot, because he leads the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, which has more than three dozen seats in the State Duma.” Meduza adds, “Shevchenko says the explosion of candidacy applications is due to the fact that Russia has lowered the number of signatures independent candidates must collect from 2 million to 300,000.”
ESTONIA CAN NO LONGER BE TAKEN IN DAYS
Estonian Public Broadcasting reports, “Though certain areas could be taken from Estonia, a foreign power couldn’t occupy all of the country within just days, Brig. Gen. Martin Herem, chief of staff of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF)”. Estonian Public Broadcasting adds, “According to Herem, the EDF can send 21,000 troops into battle. This is the so-called responsible number, i.e. such a number of soldiers could be equipped with the necessary weapons and ammunition to fend off an enemy attack.” There are challenges for sure, such as shortages of professionals in the career ranks of the military, procurement issues and “the high number of drafted recruits that failed the EDF’s medical examination”.
FEINSTEIN WANTS TRUMP’S DIGITAL DOODS BEFORE CONGRESS
Newsweek reports, “The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee,
Dianne Feinstein, “wants to interview President Donald Trump’s social media director and his former digital director as part of the panel’s investigation of Russia’s election interference and possible influence on the Trump campaign.” Feinstein, “sent letters to Dan Scavino and Brad Parscale requesting interviews and documents.” Recall, “Scavino was the social media director for Trump’s 2016 campaign. When Trump took office, Scavino became assistant to the president and director of social media.” Additionally, “Feinstein’s other request went to Parscale, who helps run the Texas-based design and marketing agency Giles-Parscale and was the digital director for the Trump campaign,” Newsweek notes.
GRASSLEY PUSHES BACK AGAINST FUSION GPS
The Hill reports, “Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (Iowa-R) is pushing back on Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that helped assemble the controversial ‘Steele dossier’ about President Trump.” This follows an op-ed that appeared in yesterday’s paper and Tuesday online in The New York Times from Fusion GPS co-founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. Recall that in the op-ed, “They accused Republicans of selectively leaking details of their testimony to the press and demanded that full transcripts be released,” The Hill notes, adding, “But Grassley, whose panel interviewed Simpson in August, in a statement Wednesday said Simpson has already been invited to testify publicly about the dossier, adding that the offer ‘remains on the table.’ A spokesman also said that it was Simpson who demanded that the transcript of his testimony to the Judiciary Committee be kept private.”
From The Hill.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
IN TRUMP WORLD, THE TRUE IS FAKE NEWS + THE LIES ARE….
In addition to what news from The Guardian TRUMPISTAN WATCH brought you yesterday, New York Magazine runs the first excerpt of New York City gossip columnist Michael Wolff’s book. As Sarah Kendzior points out on Twitter, Wolff is known for fabulous tales of varying degrees of fact and fiction, but in Trump’s world it is the lies that are mistaken for truth and the truth is degraded by constantly being given the fake label. Tony Blair is among those pushing back at Wolff for “total fabrications”. So with that in mind, Wolff’s tale begins on Election Night with Kellyanne Conway preparing for defeat. Trump reportedly told wealthy backer Robert Mercer that, “This thing,” meaning his campaign, “is so fucked up.” Steve Bannon, who became campaign manager after Paul Manafort was abruptly fired on the eve of the Republican convention, said his was the “broke-dick campaign.” Flynn told his friends taking money from Russia, “would only be a problem if we won,” which is shockingly insightfully accurate, all the more so if it is true. Also according to Wolff, Trump thought, “Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.” But then, the unexpected! “Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend—Trump might actually win—seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears—and not of joy.” As others have noted before Wolff, “This was a real-life version of Mel Brooks’s The Producers, where the mistaken outcome trusted by everyone in Trump’s inner circle—that they would lose the election—wound up exposing them for who they really were.” There is Roger Ailes advising Bannon, “I wouldn’t give Donald too much to think about”. There is a horrific testament to the early days of Trump about how fraught our system of checks and balances was the moment Trump walked into the White House: “On Friday, January 27—only his eighth day in office—Trump signed an executive order issuing a sweeping exclusion of many Muslims from the United States. In his mania to seize the day, with almost no one in the federal government having seen it or even been aware of it, Bannon had succeeded in pushing through an executive order that overhauled U.S. immigration policy while bypassing the very agencies and personnel responsible for enforcing it.” According to Wolff, “Almost the entire White House staff demanded to know: Why did we do this on a Friday, when it would hit the airports hardest and bring out the most protesters?” Bannon’s response, “‘So the snowflakes would show up at the airports and riot.’ That was the way to crush the liberals: Make them crazy and drag them to the left.” Wolff claims Ivanka wants to be the first female president, which is plausible in so far as she believes that. There is the juicy tidbit that it is “the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms.” That should not surprise anyone too much as obviously there is some love lost between them. The. Best. People.
From New York Magazine.
VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION DISBANDED, BUT TWITLER KEEPS ON…
POLITICO reports, “President Donald Trump is dumping a controversial commission that was charged with investigating his unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud during the 2016 election, the White House said Wednesday. Trump asked the Department of Homeland Security to look into the issue instead.” They do not have enough work, they will enjoy chasing Trump’s conspiracy that millions of illegals voted to give Hillary Clinton the popular vote win, a claim Trump has made repeatedly which cannot be substantiated with facts of any kind except the alternative ones also known as lies. Trump notes resistance from states in a statement, “Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry”. So that we appreciate how frugal he is with our money (yeah, right), the statement went on to add, “Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today I signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission.” The commission had all sorts of issues. POLITICO reports, “In November, the commission was sued by one of its own members — Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap — who alleged he was being frozen out of meeting planning and denied access to the panel’s records.” A judge ruled in his favor. Then there were “other problems, including the arrest in October of one of its staff members, researcher Ronald Williams II, on child pornography charges. A few days later, one of the commission’s members, former Democratic Arkansas state legislator David Dunn, 52, died unexpectedly after heart surgery,” POLITICO adds. The. Best. People.
NSA CLEARING OUT OF TOP TALENT
The Washington Post reports, “The National Security Agency is losing its top talent at a worrisome rate as highly skilled personnel, some disillusioned with the spy service’s leadership and an unpopular reorganization, take higher-paying, more flexible jobs in the private sector.” The Washington Post notes, “Since 2015, the NSA has lost several hundred hackers, engineers and data scientists”. The Washington Post adds, “Another source of frustration is an ongoing reorganization that has merged the NSA’s highly secret electronic spying mission with its more public network-defense operation, along with other changes. NSA Director Michael S. Rogers, a Navy admiral who also oversees the military’s Cyber Command, launched NSA 21 to break down what he called the ‘walls of granite’ among divisions whose missions, he believed, complement one another.” Consequently we hear an echo of some of the same complaints at State as, “Former employees have voiced a variety of complaints. Some say they feel their missions have been marginalized by the restructuring. One called the reorganization “an enormous distraction” and lamented what he characterized as an inefficient procurement process that made it difficult to obtain even simple open-source developer tools.” Additionally, “the internal hunt for would-be leakers has contributed to an environment of suspicion, said a number of current and former employees.”
From The Washington Post.
THIS IS WHAT THESE CLOWNS THINK A DEEP STATE IS
Newsweek reports, “Left-leaning comedian Ellen DeGeneres must be part of a ‘deep state’ conspiracy, President Donald Trump’s son Eric said on Twitter Tuesday night, after apparently misunderstanding how social media works.” Yes obviously Ellen is at the head of the shadow government despite not being Jewish, a freemason, but maybe she is possibly Illuminati? Newsweek adds, “The heir to the Trump real estate fortune made the assertion by tweeting a screenshot of which accounts the company’s algorithm suggested he follow, including the Twitter streams of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Ellen DeGeneres.” On Twitter, Qusay wrote, “Shocking… once again, here are the @Twitter ‘suggestions’ of who I should follow. #DeepState.” Uh, hey, that’s not what a deep state is. Try again?
—–TOWARDS A PEACEFUL NUCLEAR EXCHANGE—–
HE CALLED THE PROS NAZIS + DEEP STATE, NOW INTEL IS COMING FROM FOX
Vox reports, “As many of the people I follow on social media headed to bed on January 2 alarmed by President Donald Trump’s decision to tweet out a penis size comparison challenge to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, framed as a threat of nuclear war, Matt Gertz of the progressive advocacy group Media Matters was undertaking the valuable investigative work of figuring out which Fox News segment had set Trump off.” As Vox notes, “Kim’s nuclear button boast had, of course, come more than 24 hours before Trump’s tweet.” Because now perhaps the intelligence services and those briefing him are circumspect about what they actually share with him, “Trump appears to have found out about it a day late via his TV and decided to fire off some tweets.” And yet, “The tweet was just one of many inflammatory statements by Trump over a long day of bizarre tweeting”. As Vox notes, “Everything from Trump’s alarming suggestion that the Justice Department prosecute former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin to his absurd contention that he deserves credit for an aviation safety streak that dates back to 2009 had its origins in a Fox News segment.” Of course, we are inoculated to Trump’s useless brand of crazy to some degree by now as Vox adds, “Asian stock exchanges, including in Seoul, do not appear particularly alarmed about Trump’s social media antics — but his allies should take more seriously the notion that this is a terrible way to do the job of president of the United States.” As Vox notes, here is where Trump fails at being a scary dictator as, “Trump-era Fox has frequently been compared by its critics to a state broadcasting network in an authoritarian regime. But the Soviet Union’s top leaders were not relying on their own propaganda outlets for information about the world.” Indeed, the propaganda is not intended for him but sycophantic supporters.
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