UNFIT FOR OFFICE: HE DOESN’T KNOW THE WORDS TO THE ANTHEM
BBC News has video footage where, in their words, he “received a mixed reaction of cheers and boos as he took to the field for the national anthem during a college football game in Atlanta.” More remarkably though, “Critics on social media said it looked as though he forgot the lyrics of The Star-Spangled Banner” — or just another reason why “America First” is equivalent to dragging the nation from the back of a truck. Remember always, when they go low our job is to remind them they are knocking from below.
From BBC News.
MUELLER SEEKS TO INTERVIEW TRUMP
The Washington Post reports, “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has told President Trump’s legal team that his office is likely to seek an interview with the president, triggering a discussion among his attorneys about how to avoid a sit-down encounter or set limits on such a session”. The Washington Post adds, “Mueller raised the issue of interviewing Trump during a late-December meeting with the president’s lawyers John Dowd and Jay Sekulow”. The Washington Post notes our fake “president’s attorneys are reluctant to let him sit for open-ended, face-to-face questioning without clear parameters”. The Washington Post reports, “Mueller and Trump’s legal team plan to meet again soon to discuss both the possible terms and substance of the interview, as well as Mueller’s timeline for the investigation”.
From The Washington Post.
TRUMP GIVEN PRESS OPPRESSOR AWARD
The Committee to Protect Journalists announces, “Amid the public discourse of fake news and President Trump’s announcement via Twitter about his planned ‘fake news’ awards ceremony, CPJ is recognizing world leaders who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media.” And the winner is… Donald Trump! And in various categories too! He was the runner up for most thin-skinned after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but he won bigly with the “Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom”.
RUSSIAN LAWYER SAYS SHE BELIEVE SHE MET IVANKA
NBC News reports, “Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner in Trump Tower in June 2016, told NBC News that when she was departing the building and waiting for an elevator, she exchanged pleasantries with a blond-haired woman whom she believed was Ivanka Trump.” Now recall anything Veselnitskaya says is suspect and potentially lies, however, this appears to be a most definite shot over the bow at Ivanka not unlike the beginning of the unraveling of her uncouth brother Uday, Donald Trump Jr., last year. According to NBC News, “Since Veselnitskaya was not introduced, she said, she cannot be sure. Veselnitskaya has said this previously.” As TRUMPISTAN WATCH suspected after the first publication of a report suggesting as much emerged over the weekend in The Los Angeles Times, “Mueller’s team is less interested in the meeting as a direct example of collusion,” NBC News notes.
From NBC News.
WHITE HOUSE RENOMINATES K.T. MCFARLAND FOR AMBASSADORSHIP
POLITICO reports, “The White House renominated K.T. McFarland for the position of U.S. ambassador to Singapore on Monday, despite her coming under scrutiny by congressional investigators as part of their probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.” She must know something if they want to send her far away and keep her on board. But what? POLITICO recalls, “McFarland, formerly a deputy national security adviser and close ally of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, was initially nominated in May, but has seen her nomination stalled in Congress over lingering concerns about her knowledge of contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives.”
GRASSLEY WON’T RELEASE FUSION GPS TRANSCRIPT
Bloomberg reports, “Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley doesn’t plan to release the committee’s transcript from a closed-door interview with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson in its Russia probe — at least for now — despite a request from two Democrats”. Bloomberg adds, “Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Richard Blumenthal both called on Grassley to release the transcript Monday, complaining about leaks and a referral by Grassley of dossier author Christopher Steele to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution.”
FUSION GPS SEEKS REMOVAL OF JUDGE ON DOSSIER CASE
POLITICO reports, “The private investigation firm behind the so-called Trump dossier — Fusion GPS — is arguing that a Trump-appointed federal judge has so many conflicts of interest that he should recuse himself from a legal case stemming from BuzzFeed’s publication of the dossier earlier this year.” According to POLITICO, “Fusion’s lawyers say the impartiality of U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden is open to question because he represented a firm owned by a Russian businessman who claims he was libeled by publication of the dossier and he was a top lawyer at the Justice Departments Criminal Division last year when Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley requested an investigation into Fusion.” Additionally, “Fusion’s attorneys also say that ‘perhaps’ the most significant conflict is McFadden’s work as a ‘vetter’ on Trump’s transition team,” POLITICO reports, adding, “That service is problematic because of repeated comments Trump has made on Twitter challenging the accuracy of the dossier, calling for release of details on how it was funded and suggesting that Fusion was involved in wrong doing.” POLITICO notes, “Fusion also alluded to financial donations McFadden made to the Trump campaign. Federal Election Commission records show a total of $1,000 McFadden gave to Trump’s presidential bid last October.” POLITICO adds, “Trump nominated McFadden, a former partner at Baker & McKenzie, to the U.S. District Court in Washington last June. He was confirmed in October and serves as one of three Trump-appointed judges on the district court in the nation’s capital.” McFadden is overseeing the case involving Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian internet entrepreneur and business who sued BuzzFeed and “has subpoenaed Fusion GPS for records and testimony related to the dossier.” POLITICO reports, “Fusion, which is based in Washington, chose to move in federal court in D.C. to quash the subpoena.” However, POLITICO adds, “Fusion’s letter doesn’t allege that McFadden or Baker & McKenzie worked for Gubarev, but says they did represent a company called VimpelCom in a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation. That firm is controlled by Mikhail Fridman, who is suing Fusion GPS and one of its co-founders, Glenn Simpson, for libel stemming from production and dissemination of the dossier.”
SENATE FORCES VOTE ON OVERTURNING NET NEUTRALITY REPEAL
Business Insider reports, “The effort to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s recent repeal of its net-neutrality rules just crossed an important threshold. Thirty senators have now signed on to sponsor a resolution that would nullify the repeal, Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts announced Monday on Twitter. That’s significant because it’s the number of senators needed to essentially force a vote on the FCC’s move.” Additionally, “By forcing a floor vote on the resolution to nullify the repeal, supporters of net neutrality could make Republican legislators go on record about their stance – something that could become a campaign issue in this fall’s midterm elections,” Business Insider notes.
From Business Insider.
GOP DEATH CULT IN CONGRESS PROBES FBI’S PRESS CONTACTS
POLITICO reports, “Broadening their political counterattack in defense of the White House, President Donald Trump’s allies in Congress are placing new scrutiny on contacts between top Justice Department officials and reporters covering the Trump-Russia investigation. In recent weeks, GOP congressional investigators have publicly and privately questioned senior Justice Department and FBI leaders about interactions with reporters covering the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia.” POLITICO adds, “On Thursday, Republicans demanded more information from the Justice Department officials about a meeting Andrew Weissman, a career federal prosecutor now on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team, held with reporters last April.” POLITICO notes, “Last month, House Republicans cast public suspicion on communication they say occurred in the fall of 2016 between former FBI general counsel James Baker and a Mother Jones reporter who wrote stories at the time about the FBI’s probe of Trump-Russia ties. The lawmakers cited Justice Department documents for the claim but have provided no further details.”
DARKNESS AT NUNES UNMASKED: EFFORT TO GO AFTER NATIONAL SECURITY
The Daily Beast reports, “In recent months, congressional negotiators have been working on a bill codifying an umbrella of mass-surveillance activities known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The authorization for those activities is due to expire in a matter of days.” Of course, “Chairman Devin Nunes threw a monkey wrench into the process, by initially pushing to include in the bill an unrelated a provision on so-called unmasking, the process that intelligence agencies use to reveal the names of U.S. persons who may be involved in crimes like spying.” You do not have to be a fan of the FISA laws to accept that this unmasking silliness in the face of a Russian coup is probably not what should alter the existing laws. The Daily Beast notes, “Nunes was ultimately forced to strip the provision, which was far from the only hurdle the Section 702 reauthorization had to clear. What distinguished it, multiple Hill and intelligence sources told The Daily Beast, was that it was the only unforced error in the process—the result of Nunes’ effort to resurrect a controversy members of his own party have dismissed.”
From The Daily Beast.
RUSSIA CREATES MILITARY DEVELOPMENT OFFICE TO SKIRT SANCTIONS
The Moscow Times reports, “Russia has created an office to ensure continued military development in the face of new U.S. sanctions that are expected in less than a month”. The Moscow Times notes, “The U.S. is expected to penalize up to 40 Russian defense firms and intelligence agencies starting next month in retaliation to Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.” The Moscow Times adds, “A new office within the Kremlin-run Military-Industrial Commission will make sure that the anticipated restrictions will not hamper its multibillion-dollar rearmament efforts through 2020, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Monday.”
From The Moscow Times.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
GERMANY’S FOREIGN MINISTER GIVES LENGTHY SPIEGEL INTERVIEW
Der Spiegel has a lengthy interview with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. Of this moment in time, Gabriel told Spiegel: “In the past, we could rely on the French, the British and, especially, the Americans, to assert our interests in the world. We have always criticized the U.S. for being the global police, and it was often appropriate to do so. But we are now seeing what happens when the U.S. pulls back. There is no such thing as a vacuum in international politics. If the U.S. leaves the room, other powers immediately walk in. In Syria, it’s Russia and Iran. In trade policy, it’s China. These examples show that, ultimately, we are no longer achieving either — neither the dissemination of our European values nor the advancement of our interests.” Of Article Five of NATO’s common defense treaty (“an attack on one is an attack on all”), Gabriel wryly notes, “We are pleased that Donald Trump and the U.S. have affirmed Article 5, but we should not test that trust too much. At the same time, Europe could not defend itself without the U.S.”
From Der Spiegel.
MCCONNELL KNOWS A MAJORITY WOULDN’T GO FOR THE DEATH CULT
Mother Jones reports on the National Voter Registration Act and how it is under siege by, don’t you know it, the GOP death cult that buttresses Trump in Congress right now. Because they know an honest, clean majority of Americans would not go for this form of autocratic surrealism that pretty much seeks to turn the nation into a giant plantation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has convinced himself, in his own words, that “low voter turnout is a sign of a content democracy.” The National Voter Registration Act, signed by Bill Clinton in his first year in office after George H.W. Bush had vetoed it, made it possible for 30 million Americans to register to vote at various state agencies. It became known as the “motor voter law”. As Mother Jones reports, “in recent years, Republicans have sought to gut the law.” It was “weakened” by the Supreme Court in 2013 in a “ruling that states with long histories of voting discrimination no longer needed to clear their election changes with the federal government.” Mother Jones reports, “After winning that fight, Republicans are now going after the NVRA in what voting rights advocates say is a thinly veiled effort to make it more difficult for Democratic-leaning constituencies to register to vote—and far easier for state officials to remove them from the voter rolls.” Translation for our foreign friends who might not catch the euphemism between the lines: this is a naked effort to keep Black folks (“Democratic-leaning constituencies”) from the polls. Mother Jones notes, “On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear the newest challenge to the law, concerning whether Ohio can remove voters from the rolls who don’t vote over a six-year period.” Between 2011-2016, Ohio “purged 2 million voters”. Citing a Reuters analysis, Mother Jones adds, “At least 144,000 voters in Ohio’s three largest counties, home to Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, have been purged since the 2012 election, with voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods twice as likely to be removed as those in Republican-leaning ones,” e.g. where the crackers live with their Stepford wives. Recall: Ohio is a key state in the U.S. presidential election.
From Mother Jones.
GLENN SIMPSON, FUSION GPS FOUNDER, “HAULED FROM THE SHADOWS”
The New York Times profiles Glenn Simpson, the “53-year-old Wall Street Journal veteran-turned-master of high-dollar research,” who co-founded Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the Steele dossier. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley described Simpson as “Uncooperative,” whereas Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff has said the opposite, that he is “Very cooperative”. The New York Times notes, “Mr. Simpson can be both of these things — according to interviews with dozens of friends, colleagues and investigative targets — and a few more: brash, obsessive, occasionally paranoid, perhaps with cause.” In essence, “Fusion’s task has often translated, roughly, to finding unsavory things about unsavory people, at the behest of not-especially-savory clients,” The New York Times adds. As such, “notable to some lawmakers is Mr. Simpson’s connection to two figures with deep bonds to Russian power, who have long fought for a pet Kremlin cause: Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist, and Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, a lawyer known as a formidable Moscow insider.” Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act crusader, said, “He’s a professional smear campaigner and liar for money,” adding, “The credibility of anything that he does is in question.” Of course, recall, “The Magnitsky Act was a topic of discussion at an infamous meeting that both Ms. Veselnitskaya and Mr. Akhmetshin attended at Trump Tower in June 2016 with Donald Trump Jr.” For its part, Fusion GPS said in a statement, “We collect facts,” and, “Occasionally, the facts turn out to be helpful to people we deplore, like Vladimir Putin, or undermine people for whom we have considerable sympathy, like William Browder.” Of his hire Christopher Steele’s decision to go the FBI, Simpson told The New York Times by email, “He felt he was witnessing a national security crime in progress”. The New York Times reports, “by late in the year, the dossier was Washington’s most notorious open secret,” and “Both Mr. Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the material during the transition.”
From The New York Times.
GOP DEATH CULT TAX MASTERPLAN AND BIG OIL
Bloomberg reports, “For Big Oil, the U.S. tax overhaul is turning out to be a mixed bag, especially for companies that drill overseas.” Recall: the goal of active measures it to capture the state, so foreign policy, defense and the economy. Oil represents all three. Bloomberg adds, “Two weeks after President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans passed a sweeping rewrite of the tax code that cuts corporate rates, drillers are finding other changes that are less of a boon.” Bloomberg continues, “Caps on debt-interest payments and cuts to deductions from previous years’ losses may hurt companies building capital-intensive projects with borrowed money. And other provisions, including time limits on expensing exploration, could hem in drillers with long-term projects, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. That may also give an edge to domestic shale production.” While you might think that for the oil companies, “Cutting the corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent likely makes the legislation positive overall,” however, “that’s tempered somewhat by several important provisions,” an energy tax analyst at EY, Greg Matlock, told Bloomberg. Bloomberg adds, “One downside to the lower corporate rate: Companies with so-called tax assets — deductions from future earnings due to past losses — will see the value of those deductions reduced.”
THE BULLSHIT OF RUSSIA’S STAGE-“MANAGED DEMOCRACY” IS
Der Spiegel writes, “Running a democracy isn’t easy. But imagine how challenging it must be to imitate one!” Of course, “Sets must be constantly rearranged and political roles must be assigned. The lighting has to be perfect and everybody needs to know their lines. Most importantly, though, the script must be well thought out far into the future, because the performance has no end.” Der Spiegel reports, “The way in which Russia elects its president is an example of this form of simulated democracy.” Yes, in Russia absolutely everything is fake but the people’s very real ambitions and desires for something better than Putin has to offer them at this point. As Der Spiegel notes, “Imitated democracy is a complex political entity. It comes without free and fair elections, an independent parliament and an independent judiciary. But neither does it come with the mass mobilization and mass repression characteristic of dictatorships. Imitated democracy relies more on deception than on violence.” Then, “Imitated democracy, after all, requires an imitated opposition,” Der Spiegel notes.
From Der Spiegel.
IVANKA HAS LESS THAN ZERO, NEGATIVE SELF-AWARENESS
The Washington Post reports, “Ivanka Trump on Monday night tweeted praise for Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech, describing it as ‘empowering’ and ‘inspiring.’ The tweet, posted about 24 hours after the Golden Globes awards show, also included a link to Winfrey’s speech.” The Washington Post continues, “‘Let’s all come together, women & men, & say #TIMESUP!’ Trump tweeted. ‘Times Up’ is a campaign begun by women in entertainment to address sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace.” Does she know who her father is? Go grab them by the pussy, Trumps! The Washington Post notes, “Winfrey’s speech focused largely on the moment of reckoning facing the nation amid an outpouring of personal stories of abuse in the workplace.” Of course, “Trump’s tweet was viewed as ironic to many and prompted renewed criticism that she is ‘complicit’ in her father’s actions.” Well, she is complicit so it is not criticism; it is a fact – and not a shitty alternative one either. And then of course there is the preliminary talk of Oprah 2020. As CNN’s Michael Weiss wrote on Twitter, “Trump v Oprah in 2020. Yep, time to defect.”
From The Washington Post.
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