Thursday, May 25, 2017

Republican Politicians Making Huge Profits Off Trumpcare Vote

How the Trump Budget Undermines Economic Security for Working Families

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2017/05/23/432842/trump-budget-undermines-economic-security-working-families/
"With an administration chock full of self-serving millionaires and billionaires, it comes as little surprise that President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would be an enormous windfall for the wealthiest Americans. But the degree to which it privileges the 1 percent at the expense of nearly everyone else—breaking Trump’s campaign promises to restore prosperity to everyday Americans—is staggering. Notably, by calling for cuts to Social Security, the budget violates one of Trump’s most significant promises."

Republican Greg Gianforte Body Slams Reporter To The Ground For Asking A Question

How Paul Ryan turns an 800 percent increase in premium costs into good news for Trumpcare: He lies

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/5/25/1665941/-How-Paul-Ryan-turns-an-800-percent-increase-in-premium-costs-into-good-news-for-Trumpcare-He-lies
"When they say "disproportionate" they're talking about an 800 percent increase over what a 64-year-old with an income of $26,500 pays under Obamacare. Her annual premium now would be $1,700. Under Trumpcare? $13,600. Yeah, that's not a lower premium, Mr. Ryan. While he'd like to erase older, poor Americans from the face of the earth, they still exist, and in fact are Republicans' most loyal voters. And they are getting royally screwed."

‘New’ health care bill spells disaster for sick, according to CBO report

https://thinkprogress.org/cbo-score-healthcare-b48fd88baac8
"The CBO report on the House Republicans’ health care bill was released on Wednesday. If passed, the American Health Care Act would leave 23 million additional people uninsured and increase costs for the sickest and oldest Americans."

40 Shady Things We Now Know About Trump and Russia | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann | GQ

GOP lawmaker chokes back tears after finding out the impact of the health care bill he helped write

https://thinkprogress.org/meadows-ahca-cbo-tears-d6acf728e5ad
"Weeks after House Republicans advanced the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finally issued its scoring of the bill and found exactly what most experts had already projected: higher costs and less coverage, particularly for those who need health care the most, like those with pre-existing conditions."

Trump promised to protect the sick and the poor. He lied.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/24/15685786/trump-promised-protect-sick-poor-he-lied
"Trump lied in public about the most consequential policy decisions he is now making as president. He lied on the trail, and he is lying again now from the Oval Office."

Senate Intel Briefed On Cyber Firm With Odd Donald Trump-Russia Ties

The Ben Jacobs 'Body Slam' Was Not an Isolated Incident

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a55269/ben-jacobs-body-slam-greg-gianforte/
"Let's for a moment, though, take a look at the original statement put out by the Gianforte campaign regarding the incident, because rarely do you get so pure a specimen of wingnut think. It is an especially piquant example because it was contradicted before its release by the audio recording of the incident itself. Later, a particularly noble accounting by a local Fox TV crew made the Gianforte campaign look even more ridiculous."

Montana's biggest newspapers rescind endorsement of GOP candidate who violently assaulted a reporter

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/5/25/1665903/-Montana-s-biggest-newspapers-rescind-endorsement-of-GOP-candidate-who-violently-assaulted-a-reporter
"There is horrifying audio of the attack and three Fox News reporters described seeing Gianforte grab Jacobs by the neck with both hands, body-slamming him to the ground and then punching him in the face."

Trump's Alleged Obstruction Of Justice Keeps Getting Worse

Cable Industry Lobbyists Write Republican Talking Points on Net Neutrality

https://theintercept.com/2017/05/23/net-neutrality-ncta/
"The document also refers GOP caucus members to quotes they can use from other industry-funded nonprofits to defend the decision to repeal net neutrality through the rollback of Title II reclassification."

Trump targets USDA with some of the deepest proposed budget cuts

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-proposed-budget-usda-6bbf327bdf05
"President Donald Trump ran on a platform of giving a voice to rural voters who felt forgotten by politicians in Washington. But his proposed budget, released on Tuesday, proposes deep cuts to crucial Department of Agriculture programs that many rural residents, and farmers, depend on."

The Trump-DeVos Budget: An All-Out Assault on America's Kids

CBO: Republican plan would take health coverage from 23 million

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/cbo-republican-plan-would-take-health-coverage-23-million
"This might have been useful information for House members to have before they voted three weeks ago. Indeed, it was difficult not to appreciate the irony this afternoon. Those most invested in the health care debate today did what Republican lawmakers refused to do: learn about the real-world effects of the GOP legislation. Remember, House Speaker Paul Ryan and his GOP allies could’ve waited for the Congressional Budget Office to issue a report on the legislation before they voted on it, but Republicans chose willful ignorance: they didn’t want to know what their bill would cost – and they didn’t want to know how many Americans would lose their health security – because the more facts policymakers had at their disposal, the more likely it would be their bill would fail. And now 217 House Republicans are on the hook, voting for legislation first, then learning they voted to take health security away from 23 million Americans."

This Is Paul Ryan's CBO Face

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a55262/ahca-cbo/
"the CBO estimates that premiums for the low-income elderly could rise … wait for it … 800 percent."

CBO: Republican Healthcare Plan A Death Sentence

Montana GOP Candidate Charged With Assault After ‘Body-Slamming’ Reporter

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/greg-gianforte-assault_us_59261430e4b061d8f81f1253?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009
"By Thursday morning, three local media outlets had withdrawn their endorsements of Gianforte: the Billings Gazette, the Missoulian and the Helena Independent Record."

Montana's Republican candidate tries to hide from $800,000 tax break he would get from the AHCA

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/5/22/1664981/-Montana-s-Republican-candidate-tries-to-hide-from-800-000-tax-break-he-would-get-from-the-AHCA
"The mummified corpse of Trump and Ryan care was resurrected in order to create budget space for the enormous tax break Republicans want to give the wealthy. It is as simple as that. They don’t care if people get sick and they don’t care what works or doesn’t work. This is a fundamental problem since even the most bigoted Trump supporter really doesn’t want to lose their healthcare coverage."

Bernie Sanders On President Trump's Budget Plan: 'Grotesquely Immoral'

Fox News Reporter Tells Horrific Story Of Gianforte's Attack On Guardian Reporter | Crooks and Liars

Fox News Reporter Tells Horrific Story Of Gianforte's Attack On Guardian Reporter | Crooks and Liars

"This account ties with the audio recording perfectly, unlike the "statement" Gianforte's spokesman released earlier. The Fox News reporters went on to note that they never saw Jacobs behave in an aggressive or threatening manner at all, further contradicting Gianforte's claims."

Fox News reporters say GOP candidate grabbed reporter by the neck, slammed him to the ground

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/5/24/1665796/-Fox-News-reporters-say-GOP-candidate-grabbed-reporter-by-the-neck-slammed-him-to-the-ground
"There is NO question, based on the eyewitness accounts and the horrifying audio, Greg Gianforte committed a violent assault on Ben Jacobs, a member of the free press. He does not belong in the United States Congress. He belongs in jail."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

John Brennan Saw Pattern Of Russian Op In Trump Campaign Interactions

‘The People’s Budget’: Analysis of the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget for fiscal year 2018

‘The People’s Budget’: Analysis of the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget for fiscal year 2018:

"It builds on recent CPC budget alternatives in setting the following priorities: near-term job creation, financing public investments, strengthening low- and middle-income families’ economic security, raising adequate revenue to meet budgetary needs while restoring fairness to the tax code, strengthening social insurance programs, and ensuring long-run fiscal sustainability."

Trump’s plan to eliminate EPA regional programs puts public health ‘in jeopardy’

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-proposes-elimination-of-regional-programs-7e5ae8b4f479
"The Trump administration wants to cut all funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional environmental programs, initiatives that have helped address major pollution problems from the Great Lakes region to the Gulf of Mexico. Public health and environmental advocates contend that President Donald Trump’s plans to eliminate these programs as part of his fiscal year 2018 budget, released Tuesday, will harm public health and destroy ecosystems across the United States. The regional programs cover the Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, Lake Champlain, Long Island, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, South Florida, San Francisco Bay, and Puget Sound."

Koch Brothers Confirm: It's All About Billionaire Tax Cuts | Crooks and Liars

Koch Brothers Confirm: It's All About Billionaire Tax Cuts | Crooks and Liars

"What does the Republican Party stand for? Deregulation of polluters and tax cuts for billionaires. And that's it. So now that Trump is in serious trouble and there's a special counsel to prove it, who comes to the rescue of the Republican Agenda but the Koch Brothers? The video above shows Elizabeth MacDonald telling her fellow Outnumbered hosts that the Koch brothers are going to dump $400 million into an ad campaign pushing for tax "reform." "Reform" is Republican for Tax Cuts for Billionaires. USA Today: In a major jolt of support for President Trump, the powerful political network overseen by conservative billionaire Charles Koch is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign to drive Trump's tax plan through Congress. The group plans to throw "the full weight of the network" behind the campaign with the goal of passing a tax overhaul this year, said James Davis, a top official in Koch's Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce. Davis would not disclose a specific dollar amount but said the effort would include advertising and mobilizing grassroots activists. Although Koch opposes Trump's travel bans and questions the president's skepticism of free-trade policies, the head of one the country's largest industrial conglomerates has praised Trump for several actions since taking office, including his move to dismantle "unnecessary" federal regulations. Tax cuts for billionaires and deregulation and screw, utterly screw, anyone who needs health insurance, education, or any other service funded by the federal government."

Senator Warren Questions Sec. Mnuchin about Reversing Stance on Glass-Steagall

Watch Elizabeth Warren Pound Steve Mnuchin Like Butter | Crooks and Liars

Watch Elizabeth Warren Pound Steve Mnuchin Like Butter | Crooks and Liars

"We really need to point out at the beginning that Steve Mnuchin is a lying piece of billionaire trash who would cut off his own mother's nursing home bills if it would earn him a tax cut. He's already arguing for "quantitative easing," i.e. voodoo economics, to generate the talking point that massive tax cuts for the rich "pay for themselves." Yeah, he's that kind of liar. So when he goes up against Senator Elizabeth Warren to tell her yes, sure, he wants a "Glass-Stegall for the 21st Century" only it shouldn't do one damn thing that the original Glass-Stegall did, i.e. separate mortgage banking from Wall Street banking, Elizabeth Warren takes out her rolling pin and softens up that butter like a pro"

Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America

http://time.com/4783932/inside-russia-social-media-war-america/
"In May 2016, a Russian military intelligence officer bragged to a colleague that his organization, known as the GRU, was getting ready to pay Clinton back for what President Vladimir Putin believed was an influence operation she had run against him five years earlier as Secretary of State. The GRU, he said, was going to cause chaos in the upcoming U.S. election. What the officer didn't know, senior intelligence officials tell TIME, was that U.S. spies were listening. They wrote up the conversation and sent it back to analysts at headquarters, who turned it from raw intelligence into an official report and circulated it. But if the officer's boast seems like a red flag now, at the time U.S. officials didn't know what to make of it. "We didn't really understand the context of it until much later," says the senior intelligence official. Investigators now realize that the officer's boast was the first indication U.S. spies had from their sources that Russia wasn't just hacking email accounts to collect intelligence but was also considering interfering in the vote. Like much of America, many in the U.S. government hadn't imagined the kind of influence operation that Russia was preparing to unleash on the 2016 election. Fewer still realized it had been five years in the making."

Senator Warren on Donald Trump's Proposed Cuts to Social Security

Trump’s foreign hosts make unusual preparations for his visit

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trumps-foreign-hosts-make-unusual-preparations-his-visit
"A related report from the Associated Press noted, “At NATO and the Group of 7 summits, foreign delegations have gotten word that the new U.S. president prefers short presentations and lots of visual aids.” The piece added that Trump’s aides have been careful to “build daily downtime” into his schedule. This comes on the heels of a report from Foreign Policy magazine on our NATO allies “scrambling” to tailor their upcoming meeting “to avoid taxing President Donald Trump’s notoriously short attention span.” A source briefed extensively on the meeting’s preparations explained, “It’s kind of ridiculous how they are preparing to deal with Trump. It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child – someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing…. They’re freaking out.” In his interview with Time magazine last week, Trump said, “I think we have to be a strong nation. I think we were being laughed at by the world. They’re not laughing anymore.” Oh how I wish that were true."

White House Tells World Leaders That They Must Tell Trump He’s Doing Better Than Obama

http://www.politicususa.com/2017/05/19/white-house-tells-world-leaders-trump-obama.html
"Donald Trump’s trip isn’t an international visit overseas by a president. It is a global babysitting operation to give American a break for its perpetually needy, corrupt, and scandal-plagued toddler. The White House’s “rules” for meeting Trump aren’t diplomatic guidelines for international diplomacy. They are a list you leave on the fridge for the babysitter before you both head out to catch a movie."

President Trump's Budget Slashes Billions From Medicaid, Social Security

Paul Ryan spooked by leaked audio on Trump’s ties to Putin — and fears more to follow

Paul Ryan spooked by leaked audio on Trump’s ties to Putin — and fears more to follow

"House Speaker Paul Ryan seems spooked by a recording that reveals he asked Republican lawmakers not to discuss concerns that then-candidate Donald Trump might have been paid off by Vladimir Putin. A Washington Post report transcribed the recording of a June 15 meeting at the Capitol, where Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House Majority Leader, raised concerns that Trump and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) might have accepted payment from the Russian president. Ryan, who had finally endorsed Trump 13 days earlier, can be heard on the recording asking Republicans who were present not to “leak” details of the conversation. Now that the tape has been made public — although its origins are unclear — Ryan is worried others might surface."

Corporate power in state legislatures produces a gerrymandered Congress

Corporate power in state legislatures produces a gerrymandered Congress

"The power of corporate money helps explain why so many “purple” states whose population is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats and that are therefore tossups in presidential elections— including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida— nevertheless are governed by radical right-wing legislatures. Once winning power, the corporate lobbies have pursued a radical agenda of defunding public services, destroying both public and private sector unions, cutting minimum wage, and making it harder to sue over race or sex discrimination. And they’ve used their power in state legislatures to restrict local democracy, prohibiting cities’ right to establish their own minimum wage, right to sick leave, or mechanism for recovering wages stolen by one’s employer. But the corporate investment in politics has paid dividends at the federal level as well as in the states. A recent study from the Brennan Center for Justice reports that when state legislators redrew the lines for Congressional Districts, they engaged in such severe gerrymandering that the GOP now holds 17 seats that would have been won by Democrats if the district boundaries were fairly drawn.[1] In the current Congress, Democrats would need to win a total of twenty-four Republican-held seats in order to regain the majority. But most of this gap is the product of gerrymandering; if the districts were impartial, Democrats would be only seven seats away from a majority. Unsurprisingly, a majority of the gerrymandered seats in Congress come from states targeted by Project RedMap. The three most intensely gerrymandered states—Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, which together gave the GOP 7 extra seats in Congress—were all prime targets of corporate funders. Next time you wonder why the Congress is voting to take away people’s health insurance in order to fund tax cuts for the rich, here’s a big part of the answer."

Economist Joseph Stiglitz: Trump's Budget Takes a Sledgehammer to What Remains of the American Dream

Trump's New Bank Regulator: Lawyer Who Helped Banks Charge More Fees

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40629-trump-s-new-bank-regulator-lawyer-who-helped-banks-charge-more-fees
"Noreika, a prominent Washington attorney who specializes in financial regulatory law, has made a career out of representing banks as they sought to fight back consumer-friendly state regulations and class-action lawsuits accusing banks of deceptive practices."

Financial Times declares a winner in the war for energy’s future, and Big Oil won’t be happy

https://thinkprogress.org/renewable-energy-is-unstoppable-declares-financial-times-40c222f439bb
"The business community, though, is starting to see the writing on the wall, especially in Europe. The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest company, declared in a recent speech that the transition to a low-carbon economy is not just “unstoppable.” It is a necessity that “must be embraced” if an oil company like Shell is to survive and thrive. The low-carbon future, he explained, will be built around renewable electricity and electric cars."

Rick Perry's Early Days as Energy Secretary Have Been a Bonanza for Corporations and the Koch Brothers @alternet

Rick Perry's Early Days as Energy Secretary Have Been a Bonanza for Corporations and the Koch Brothers @alternet:

"At least three staffers from conservative, anti-clean energy think tanks now have roles in the Energy Department. This comes after Thomas Pyle, a former Koch Industries lobbyist, ran Trump’s transition team for the department. Pyle is president of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), a think tank co-founded and partially funded by fossil fuel industrialist Charles Koch, as well as its advocacy arm, the American Energy Alliance. A leaked Pyle memo obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy from December revealed Trump’s energy plan, a “fossil fuel industry wish list.” Travis Fisher, an economist and current Energy staffer, most recently worked for IER, where he wrote columns opposing renewable energy and defending fossil fuels. Big funders of IER have included ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, several Koch-backed nonprofits and two Koch family foundations. Fisher was once an intern at the John Locke Foundation, one of several North Carolina-based think tanks founded and funded by close Koch ally Art Pope. On April 14, Perry issued a memo requesting a study, to be overseen by Fisher, on whether clean energy programs are hindering coal and nuclear programs. The study has caught fire from the left, with a group of Democratic senators writing to Perry with serious concerns, calling it “a thinly disguised attempt to promote less economic electric generation technologies, such as coal and nuclear, at the expense of cost-competitive wind and solar power"."

Not Just Trump – House And Senate Republicans Launch Massive Barrage On Science

Elizabeth Warren Just Offered Terrifying Proof Republicans Have Given Up on Democracy @alternet

Elizabeth Warren Just Offered Terrifying Proof Republicans Have Given Up on Democracy @alternet:

"Senate Republicans have been dubiously dissecting the House health care bill since it passed 217 to 213 on May 4. But don't count on them seeking any aid from across the aisle.  According to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), "The Republicans have literally locked the Democrats out of the negotiations over the Senate health care bill. They have gone into closed rooms and they will not let the Democrats participate at all."  A week and a half later, "what the Republicans are planning to do with the House version of the bill remains a mystery [even] to those of us who serve on the committees to consider health care in America and those of us who are deeply concerned about the impact of health care changes on our home states," she told MassLive on Monday.  Warren, having called the first iteration of the house bill "fundamentally cruel," also touched on Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA)'s March assessment of its explosive costs—an estimated $1 billion loss in federal health care aid for Massachusetts by 2020."

National security officials try to accommodate Trump’s attributes

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/national-security-officials-try-accommodate-trumps-attributes
"The week of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, Donald Trump conceded he likes to have short intelligence briefings, with information on national security limited to one page. “I like bullets or I like as little as possible,” he said. Soon after, National Security Council officials said that while Barack Obama liked policy papers that were three to six single-spaced pages, Trump prefers one page, “with lots of graphics and maps.” As Trump prepares for his first overseas trip as president, Reuters reports today on the efforts to prepare a president with Trump’s unique attributes. 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. I mean, really. What are we even supposed to say at this point? Nearly four months into this presidency, National Security Council officials have apparently learned that Trump is likely to stop reading important materials unless he sees his name, so they write “Trump” more than they’d like to in the hopes of keeping the president’s attention."

Jeff Sessions’ War On Drugs Is A Huge Win For Private Prisons

Trump wants to gut energy program with highest job potential and rate of return

https://thinkprogress.org/draft-trump-budget-guts-renewable-energy-44bae120e1ee
"The Trump administration wants to slash the Department of Energy’s (DOE) investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy by 70 percent, according to a draft obtained by Axios. Even setting aside the issues of air pollution and climate change, gutting renewable energy and efficiency runs counter to the president’s stated commitment to economic growth and job creation. Clean energy is the world’s biggest new source of sustainable high-wage employment. That’s why China’s has budgeted a $360 billion investment in renewable generation alone by 2020. Beijing calculates the resulting “employment will be more than 13 million people.” Even in this country, clean energy jobs already outnumber fossil fuel jobs by more than 2.5 to 1."

Bank previously run by Trump’s treasury secretary pays big fine for defrauding the government

https://thinkprogress.org/mnuchin-onewest-settlement-defraud-fa860a4e25fe
"The reverse mortgage subsidiary of OneWest, the bank founded and formerly run by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that was later bought by CIT Group, agreed to an $89 million settlement with the United States on Tuesday over claims that it defrauded a government program out of money it didn’t qualify for."

Congressman Shows Townhall He Doesn't Know How Insurance Works

Trump transition handling of classified info raised concern

https://apnews.com/5e675fb16ff643cb9082ba242b72c859/Trump-transition-handling-of-classified-info-raised-concern
"In the weeks before Trump took office, Obama administration officials were so concerned by the Trump transition team’s handling of classified documents that they moved swiftly to exert more control over the sensitive materials, according to two former U.S. officials. The officials said transition officials removed classified materials from secure rooms and carried them between buildings in Washington without permission. Worried about keeping tabs on the highly sensitive material, the Obama administration officials set new limits on some classified information and explicitly barred Trump aides from viewing that material in their transition offices. The Associated Press previously reported on Obama officials’ concerns about the transition team’s handling of classified material as the Trump team prepared to take the reins of government. The new details about their concerns come amid mounting questions about whether Trump himself has been careless with the nation’s secrets."

New Hampshire Republican Who Founded Woman-Hating Site Makes Outrageous Statements Validating Rape @alternet

New Hampshire Republican Who Founded Woman-Hating Site Makes Outrageous Statements Validating Rape @alternet:

"Robert Fisher is the founder of the Red Pill, an online subreddit for men who are sick of women complaining about rape, harassment and sexism. As a vocal participant in the group, he’s written at length about how feminism makes life hard for nice guys like him who see women as sex objects and make rape jokes."

Trump's New Bank Regulator: Lawyer Who Helped Banks Charge More Fees

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/05/15/trumps-new-bank-regulator-lawyer-who-helped-banks-charge-more-fees
"In the early 2000s, banks successfully sued to stop Iowa from limiting their ability to charge ATM fees to non-customers. They also fought off states’ attempts to stop them from charging non-customers to cash checks drawn on the banks’ accounts. In another case, they stopped California from forcing two banks to conduct audits of their own residential mortgages. What do all these cases have in common? The winning argument in each was that states had no right to impose their laws on federally regulated national banks. And the man who helped make that powerful argument was Keith Noreika — President Trump’s pick to head the federal agency that oversees national banks."

Trump's EPA Replaces Scientists With Stooges

Trump Family and Friends: In Your Pockets

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/40582-trump-family-and-friends-in-your-pockets
"it is not just the Trump family that is profiting off his administration, the investor Carl Ichan, who serves as all purpose "unpaid" adviser looks to earn a substantial profit off of his advice. Ichan engaged in discussions on altering federal regulations that require refineries to use a certain amount of ethanol in gasoline and other refined products. Following these discussions, Trump reversed a position he had taken in his campaign. Ichan stands to make more than $100 million from this reversal. Unfortunately, letting the affected industry control the regulatory process seems to be pretty much the norm in the Trump administration. His top financial regulators are virtually all from Wall Street, with Goldman Sachs being the leading source of Trump team talent. Trump's pick to head the Federal Communications Commission is a former lawyer for Verizon whose first target in his new position is to end the policy of net neutrality, which ensured everyone equal access to the web. Scott Gottlieb, Trump's pick to head the Food and Drug Administration, was a board member of a pharmaceutical company and has received hundreds of thousands of dollars for fees as a consultant to the industry. In short, the outlook for most of the country may not look great in the Trump years, but Trump's family friends should do very well."

Policy Watch: Congress blocks 14 Obama-era rules in an unprecedented blitz of CRA votes

Policy Watch: Congress blocks 14 Obama-era rules in an unprecedented blitz of CRA votes

"The blocked Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule required companies applying for federal contracts to disclose violations of federal labor laws and executive orders addressing wage and hour, safety and health, collective bargaining, family medical leave, and civil rights protections. Currently, there is no effective system for distinguishing between law-abiding contractors and those that violate labor and employment laws. By blocking this rule, Republicans have ensured that businesses that violate basic labor and employment laws will continue to be rewarded with taxpayer dollars. The blocked Workplace Injury and Illness recordkeeping rule clarified an employer’s obligation to maintain accurate records of workplace injuries and illnesses. This information is critical in targeting injury prevention efforts and assessing their effectiveness. By blocking the rule, Republicans have made it impossible for OSHA, which is tasked with ensuring workers’ safety on the job, to require that employers keep accurate records that could be used to identify unsafe, potentially life-threatening working conditions. As a result, workers will go to work every day in less safe conditions. Two blocked rules would have assisted state and local governments that develop individual retirement account (IRA) programs for private-sector workers. The rule simply clarified that these arrangements are not covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the federal law governing private-sector employer-sponsored plans. By blocking the rule, Republicans have blocked a path for retirement savings for the roughly 55 million private-sector wage and salary workers who do not have access to a retirement savings plan through their employers."

NATO Tries To Dumb-Down Upcoming Meeting To Better Suit Donald Trump

Trump Is Disregarding Senate Norms to Get His Judges on the Bench

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/courts/news/2017/05/12/432340/trump-disregarding-senate-norms-get-judges-bench/
"Less than 24 hours before he fired FBI Director James Comey, President Donald Trump nominated 10 lawyers for lifetime positions as federal judges. Trump has repeatedly lashed out at judges who rule against him. It is no surprise, then, that he is rushing to appoint judges who are more likely to rubber-stamp his unconstitutional agenda. To vet and pick these nominees, President Trump relied on the same right-wing groups that compiled his list of potential Supreme Court nominees—the Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation—organizations that want to push a conservative agenda through the courts. Trump ignored the traditional vetting role of the American Bar Association, bypassed state judicial nominating commissions, and failed to consult with home-state senators. For 100 years, Senate tradition has required senators to approve judicial nominees who would sit on the federal courts in their states. As part of that process, senators sign a blue slip of paper to signal their approval. The blue slip requires presidents to work with senators from both parties to fill empty judgeships. The blue slip process promotes a qualified and moderate judiciary. It is possible for senators to abuse the practice, as Senate Republicans did during the Obama administration, but the practice has survived since 1917 for a reason. Senators are in the best position to ensure that judicial nominees are well-respected in their local legal communities. In many states, senators establish commissions to vet and recommend the most qualified candidates. Given this local knowledge and the blue slip, the president traditionally consults with senators before nominating judges."

NATO Frantically Tries to Trump-Proof President’s First Visit

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/05/15/nato-frantically-tries-to-trump-proof-presidents-first-visit-alliance-europe-brussels/?utm_content=buffer4a47d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
"NATO is scrambling to tailor its upcoming meeting to avoid taxing President Donald Trump’s notoriously short attention span."

North Carolina Senate GOP targets children who live in Democratic districts

https://thinkprogress.org/north-carolina-senate-gop-targets-children-who-live-in-democratic-districts-37e03adae03d
"At 3:07 a.m. on Friday morning, North Carolina Senate GOP leaders rushed through a budget amendment that stripped education funding for teaching assistants and STEM programs in districts led by Democrats, cut funding to provide fresh produce to food deserts, reallocated money that was supposed to go to an arts museum and a downtown revitalization project, and eliminated a position that works to secure federal aid for disaster relief. It appears the amendment wasn’t passed to achieve specific policy goals though, but rather as an act of political retribution after a prolonged and contentious budget negotiation in the state’s senate."

Science Is No Longer Welcome At The EPA

Paul Ryan’s next move is an attempt to privatize Medicare

https://thinkprogress.org/paul-ryans-next-move-is-an-attempt-to-privatize-medicare-a96eb9ac0a23
"Giddy from his recent health care win, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he looks forward to tackling an overhaul of Medicare, which would leave many seniors without coverage or with higher premiums. On Friday, Speaker Ryan told the conservative radio host, Vicki McKenna, that he would like to see a plan for overhauling Medicare this year. He said the plan is part of an “ongoing conversation” with the Trump administration."

Ryan sticking with Trump so he can get his Medicare privatization

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/5/15/1662406/-Ryan-sticking-with-Trump-so-he-can-get-his-Medicare-privatization
"But what about Trump's forceful promises throughout the campaign that he would not touch these programs? Ryan's got a powerful weapon on his side in Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, former Freedom Caucus maniac, who seems pretty confident. When it comes to wrecking Medicare, "let the [House] pass that and let's talk about it," he says. Of course, there's the little problem of getting it through the Senate, but that's not going to keep Ryan from trying. It rarely has before. He's bound and determined to throw granny off that damned cliff."

Caught in the Trump trap: Republicans made a deal with the devil, and now they’re stuck with him

http://www.salon.com/2017/05/14/caught-in-the-trump-trap-republicans-made-a-deal-with-the-devil-and-now-theyre-stuck-with-him/
"Preserving political power is the only thing that matters now, consequences be damned. Which is why the GOP can’t quit Trump — at least not yet. Republicans will only change once it becomes clear that doing so is a matter of survival for them."

How Right-Wing Propaganda Giant Is Taking Over TV

Here’s how an N.J. congressman responded after a constituent pressured him to hold a town hall

http://www.salon.com/2017/05/15/heres-how-an-n-j-congressman-responded-after-a-constituent-pressured-him-to-hold-a-town-hall/
"It seems as if Frelinghuysen would much rather meet with defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, who tops his donor list, than New Jersey voters. The congressman hasn’t met with his constituents via town hall in four years, and instead substituted the meetings with two telephone town halls. Frelinghuysen has also complained about the amount of phone calls his office has received recently, according to WNYC."

“Fake but accurate” is the Trump administration’s new defense of its lies

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/15/15640824/trump-administration-lies-climate-change-alternative-facts
"It’s a phrase that should send chills down the spine of anyone who worries about Trump’s decision-making. “Fake but accurate” has an Orwellian ring that reminds us, yet again, of Trump’s unpredictability — and his willingness to make consequential decisions impulsively and without considering whether he’s basing them on facts or lies."

Donald Trump still believes fake news because he is surrounded by morons

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/5/15/1662460/-Donald-Trump-still-believes-fake-news-because-he-is-surrounded-by-morons
"Politico has a story up about how part-time White House resident Donald Trump keeps getting fake news delivered to him despite having, at least in theory, access to the most elaborate intelligence-gathering mechanisms the world has to offer. The anecdote it leads with, though, pretty much sums it up. Just days earlier, K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, had given Trump a printout of two Time magazine covers. One, supposedly from the 1970s, warned of a coming ice age; the other, from 2008, about surviving global warming, according to four White House officials familiar with the matter. Trump quickly got lathered up about the media’s hypocrisy. But there was a problem. The 1970s cover was fake, part of an Internet hoax that’s circulated for years. Staff chased down the truth and intervened before Trump tweeted or talked publicly about it. All right, full stop—the deputy national security adviser, in an effort to bend Trump's brain to her own agenda, delivered to his desk a well-known internet hoax. The deputy national security adviser did this. During the course of her regular duties advising him about national security, for which purpose she has been given access to whichever intelligence resources are necessary, which she can request at will ... or she can just forward on stuff she sees on Breitbart, it's all good. By golly, I'd say we've stumbled on the problem right there. Part-time White House resident Donald Trump keeps getting fake news delivered to him because he is surrounded by ex-Fox News morons."

Artist Trolls Trump's Hotel

Donald Trump’s aides are resorting to fake news so that he hears what he wants to hear

http://www.salon.com/2017/05/15/donald-trumps-aides-are-resorting-to-fake-news-so-that-he-hears-what-he-wants-to-hear/
"President Donald Trump’s TV watching habits have already become legendary. Now a new report indicates that the president also has a habit of being influenced by whatever recent news is placed before him — a characteristic that has serious implications for how he runs the country. Deputy national security adviser K. T. McFarland found herself in hot water when she got Trump convinced that the media had hypocritically flip-flopped from warning about an impending ice age to promoting the notion of global warming — even though her argument was based on a forged Time Magazine cover, according to a report by Politico. Although White House staff were able to intervene before Trump publicly discussed the hoax as if it was real, the fact that it was so easy to misguide him underscored a deeper problem with the president’s mind. In February the president was reported to have started asking his staffers about deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh after reading an article from GotNews.com that accused her of being “the source behind a bunch of leaks” (Walsh now works as an adviser to a pro-Trump group). On another occasion, he was able to squelch Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s attempt to appoint a deputy of his own choosing (Elliott Abrams) because someone showed the president material in which Abrams had been critical of Trump. The Politico story emphasized that “there is universal agreement” that “the best way to focus the president’s attention on any story is to tell him about it personally, even if it is in one of the papers he’s already thumbed through.” Despite the risk that doing so may cause the president to metaphorically shoot the messenger bringing unwelcome news, it can also allow the person presenting that story to have a profound impact on the country. One of the most notable examples was when an unknown source showed Trump a New York Times op-ed written by economists Steve Forbes, Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore. Trump subsequently proposed a tax plan similar to what they had advocated."

Trump Says He Invented an Economy Theory That Was Actually in Use Before He Was Born @alternet

Trump Says He Invented an Economy Theory That Was Actually in Use Before He Was Born @alternet: "Seriously, take that in for a second. Not only did don’t Trump not invent a phrase in wide circulation in economics circles, he tried to use it on a wonk who works for the Economist. The giveaway it wouldn’t work is only right there in the name of the magazine."

Trump's Coast Guard Speech Turns Into Personal Pity Party

Michelle Obama Offers Great Question To Ask Trump: 'What Is Wrong With You?'

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/05/13/michelle-obama-offers-great-question-ask-trump-what-wrong-you
"earlier this month, the Trump administration issued orders that weakened standards set by the "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act," which Ms. Obama championed and her husband signed into law in 2010. The Obama-era statute repealed by Trump had set guidelines and added funding that would push schools to reduce levels of sodium and fats in lunches served at the nation's public school while incentivizing more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthier dairy products by offering federal funds to districts that could meet the more nutritious standards."

Study shows Southern construction workers getting screwed on wages, benefits, safety

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/5/13/1661980/-Study-shows-Southern-construction-workers-getting-screwed-on-wages-benefits-safety
"Excuse me for thinking that the criminal aspects of this situation will not draw the attention of the Department of Justice under J.B. Sessions III. He will instead be busy seeing that the federal government does its part while “encouraging” state governments to do their part in ensuring that the War on Drugs™ continues to ruin as many lives as possible for no reason other than pure ignorance and malignity."

Conservative Sinclair Broadcasting forcing affiliates to run video packages favorable to Trump

Conservative Sinclair Broadcasting forcing affiliates to run video packages favorable to Trump

"According to the New York Times, Sinclair Broadcasting Group — a conservative news network run by GOP donor Daniel Smith — is requiring affiliate stations to run right- wing programming that includes debunked stories favorable to President Donald Trump. With Sinclair’s potential acquisition of Tribute Media Group, concerns that they might exert their allegedly pro-Trump bias over a majority of American news stations is growing. The article claims that Sinclair requires news stations they own to broadcast “must-runs” — news packages created by the network such as one issued by the company’s vice president of news Scott Livingston that decried biased media and positioned themselves as bastions of journalistic objectivity. Stations are reportedly required to broadcast these must-runs within 48 hours of receiving them from the network. Sinclair currently owns 173 stations in many large media markets, and with their purchase of Tribune, they would own 42 more and could then control up to 70 percent of all American broadcast media."

Republicans Kill Minimum Wage Increase

A Few Words About Catapults

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a55060/trump-steam-power-ships/
So far, both the US Navy (which is still lacking a politically appointed Secretary of the Navy by the way, nearly four months into the administration's term) and the contractor, General Atomics, are silent. Understandable. After all, what can you say, besides, "The stupid, it hurts"?

Stephen Fry Explains Why Some People Believe Everything Donald Trump Says

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stephen-fry-explains-lies_us_591550ebe4b00f308cf4323c
"Some supporters of President Donald Trump believe just about everything he says, even when he’s wrong. And Trump himself seems to have absolute confidence in his own beliefs ― again, even when he is demonstrably wrong.  But there is a psychology lesson that could help explain it, according to Cambridge University-educated actor Stephen Fry, who was voted the most intelligent person on TV in the United Kingdom. For example, researchers found students who were least proficient often overestimated their own abilities.  “The skills they lacked were the same skills required to recognize their incompetence,” Fry said. “The incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.”  That’s now known as the Dunning-Kruger effect."

The 3 Truest Words in Journalism: Follow the Money

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a55048/trump-russia-finances/
"The president* needed money. The Russians oligarchs needed a laundromat. There is an obvious common interest here. That the Russians could gain more leverage over him than he had over them in this arrangement should be obvious. I think that he will always value his dreams of financial empire more than the national interest, and that he would do anything to keep those dreams alive, even demolish the institutions of free government along the way. His alleged subordination of the national interest by means of helping undermine the presidential election simply was a means to keep his businesses afloat and his own inflated self-image intact. That's what he's fighting so hard, and so clumsily now. I think Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is in it to fasten his outraged-saltine sense of law and order onto the nation. It is my opinion that Donald Trump is in it to hang on to every buck. Democracy is fluffed and folded along the way."

Paul Ryan Picked A Fight With Seth Meyers And Lost

Experts on authoritarianism are absolutely terrified by the Comey firing

https://www.vox.com/world/2017/5/11/15611346/comey-trump-russia-authoritarianism
"The president fired the person who was investigating him and his associates. To people who study the rise of authoritarian leaders, just those facts alone are terrifying."

Dear Republicans: You People are the Biggest Damn Hypocrites I’ve Ever Seen

https://forwardprogressives.com/dear-republicans-people-biggest-damn-hypocrites-ive-ever-seen/
"Obviously the fact that someone like Donald Trump not only won the GOP primary, but was “elected” last November by millions of conservative voters, is currently at the top of the list. This is a group of people who claim to represent “Christian, family values and the moral majority” who elected the least-Christian person to run for president — possibly ever. A petty, greedy, egotistical, self-admitted sexual predator who bullies people, has been divorced twice, has had at least one affair, and has five children from three different women, that’s the person the party of “Christian values” supports. It’s a reality that’s more laughably absurd than anything even the best comedic writers could come up with. Then there’s everything concerning Russia’s interference in last year’s election. While there have been a few Republicans (mainly senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain) who’ve been open to full investigations into the Russian cyber attack against Hillary Clinton and the DNC, most have been lukewarm to the idea, at best, if not outright dismissive of any such suggestion. Let’s flip the script for a moment. Imagine what Republicans would be saying if a Democrat had been elected president with help from a Russian cyber attack that U.S. intelligence agencies say was meant to hurt the chances of the GOP candidate. A Democrat who had repeatedly praised Russia’s president; refused to release their tax returns to prove they had no financial links to Russia: had a rather extensive list of individuals with some rather sketchy ties and communications with Russians, especially during the election; and had repeatedly tried to undermine U.S. intelligence reports citing Russia as being the culprit behind the cyber attack against the 2016 election. If the situation were reversed right now, Republicans would be losing their damn minds."

Jeff Sessions Demands "Strongest Possible Charges" For Drug Users

Sessions demands harshest possible drug sentences, ending Obama-era flexibility

https://thinkprogress.org/sessions-overturns-sentencing-flexibility-3234581c09ff
"Federal prosecutors should resume the old practice of pursuing the sternest possible charges and longest available sentences for all drug crime suspects, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered on Friday. The new instructions reverse a memo issued in 2013 by then-Attorney General Eric Holder which sought to radically change America’s prison problem through simple changes to prosecutor behavior. Holder had ordered U.S. attorneys to drop the across-the-board tough-guy act Sessions is reviving and instead reserve the harshest sentencing enhancements and multi-layered indictments available in the law for offenders with clear links to violent crime and organized criminal syndicates. The aim was to end a common absurdity in American law enforcement: small-time drug busts that lead to decades-long prison terms for people who do not fit the profile of a dangerous, hardened criminal. The old practices revived in Friday’s memo from Sessions mean that someone arrested with a small quantity of marijuana could get sentenced to life in jail if they have two previous drug convictions of any kind. Where Holder’s policy recognized that there is a difference between what the letter of the law allows a prosecutor to do and the realities of the individual actions committed by a drug convict, Sessions argues no such gap exists."

Jeff Sessions Rolls Back Obama-Era Drug Sentencing Reforms

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-doj-drug-sentencing-trump_us_59155c78e4b0fe039b339a20?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009
"Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed federal prosecutors this week to take the most aggressive approach possible against federal criminal defendants. The policy change will result in lengthier prison sentences for drug offenders and likely reverse a recent drop in the federal prison population."

Trump Says He Doesn't Exercise Because It Depletes 'Finite Resources' | Crooks and Liars

Trump Says He Doesn't Exercise Because It Depletes 'Finite Resources' | Crooks and Liars

"President Trump reportedly eschews exercise because he believes it drains the body’s “finite” energy resources, but experts say this argument is flawed because the human body actually becomes stronger with exercise. Trump’s views on exercise were mentioned in a New Yorker article this month and in “Trump Revealed,” The Washington Post’s 2016 biography of the president, which noted that Trump mostly gave up athletics after college because he “believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted"."

Trump Thinks Exercise Will KILL YOU

Saturday, May 20, 2017

New report indicates Trump officials lied repeatedly about campaign’s contacts with Russia

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-officials-lied-repeatedly-about-campaign-contacts-with-russia-2ce404879ad9
"On Thursday morning, Reuters reported that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and other Trump campaign advisers “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.” That news stands in contrast to what Trump transition team chair-turned-Vice President Mike Pence said in January, when he repeatedly denied during TV interviews that there was any communication between the Trump campaign and Russian officials."

Trump boasted about firing ‘nut job’ Comey to Russian officials: report

Trump boasted about firing ‘nut job’ Comey to Russian officials: report

"A new bombshell report claims that during his meeting with Russian government officials last week, President Donald Trump boasted to them that he had just fired former FBI Director James Comey, whom he had described to them as a “nut job.” The New York Times reports that an official White House document that summarized Trump’s May 10 meeting with Russian officials showed that Trump told them that he felt a sense of relief after firing Comey due to his role in investigating Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election. “I just fired the head of the F.B.I,” Trump said, according to the document. “He was crazy, a real nut job… I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” The document was read to Times reporters by one U.S. official and was confirmed by a second official. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute the overall accuracy of the document and its contents."

False Denials From VP Mike Pence Continue To Stack Up

FBI’s Russia investigation now includes at least one current White House official: report

FBI’s Russia investigation now includes at least one current White House official: report

"The federal probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives has expanded to include a current White House official, the Washington Post reports. A senior White House adviser—described by the Post as someone “close to the president”—is reportedly one of the subjects of the investigation, according to sources familiar with the probe. This is in addition to former Trump aides Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, who were previously identified as subjects of the investigation."

Trump Told Russians That Comey Was a "Nut Job," as FBI Investigation Inches Closer to the White House

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/05/trump-told-russians-comey-nut-job-fbi-white-house
"Two bombshell reports on Friday afternoon shed more light on President Donald Trump's rationale for firing FBI Director James Comey and showed just how close the FBI's Russia investigation is getting to Trump's inner circle. The day after he fired Comey, Trump met with top Russian diplomats in the Oval Office. There, the New York Times revealed Friday afternoon, he badmouthed Comey and seemed to imply that his firing was prompted by the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. "I just fired the head of the FBI," Trump said, according to the Times. "He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off." White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute this account. Moments later, the Washington Post reported that a current White House official in Trump's inner circle is now under scrutiny in the Russia investigation: The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter."

Watergate Lawyer: Obstruction Of Justice Evidence 'Overwhelming'

Russia probe reportedly reaches top White House official

https://thinkprogress.org/russia-probe-white-house-official-311b95e0cf84
"The Washington Post reports that the accelerating investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russian officials “has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest.” The focus coincides with “overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas"."

US spies caught Russian officers bragging about causing chaos in the election 6 months before the vote

https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-spies-caught-russian-officers-152213049.html
"Although a declassified intelligence report released in January concluded that Russia ordered an influence operation to try to sway the 2016 election, it was in May 2016 that American spies were hearing the first talk of it in Moscow. Citing "senior intelligence officials," Time reports that a Russian military officer with the GRU (its military-intelligence agency) was caught speaking with a colleague, saying that he would cause chaos in the upcoming American election as payback for what Hillary Clinton did to foment protests in Russia during her time as secretary of state. Here's Time: "What the officer didn't know, senior intelligence officials tell TIME, was that U.S. spies were listening. They wrote up the conversation and sent it back to analysts at headquarters, who turned it from raw intelligence into an official report and circulated it. But if the officer's boast seems like a red flag now, at the time U.S. officials didn't know what to make of it. "We didn't really understand the context of it until much later," says the senior intelligence official. Investigators now realize that the officer's boast was the first indication U.S. spies had from their sources that Russia wasn't just hacking email accounts to collect intelligence but was also considering interfering in the vote. Like much of America, many in the U.S. government hadn't imagined the kind of influence operation that Russia was preparing to unleash on the 2016 election. Fewer still realized it had been five years in the making"."

Friday, May 19, 2017

James Comey Recounted Inappropriate Pressure From Donald Trump: NYT

Ryan and McCarthy want you to believe they were joking about Russia's war on Western civilization

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/5/18/1663644/-Ryan-and-McCarthy-want-you-to-believe-they-were-joking-about-Russia-s-war-on-Western-civilization
"When the Post approached Speaker Paul Ryan's and McCarthy's staff with the quotes, they both immediately denied it ever happened, said they weren't originally given quotes but just told that McCarthy had said this, and generally tried to stonewall, but once the Post told them there was a recording and they heard it and had the transcript, it all became a "failed attempt at humor"."

Michael Flynn Created a Back Channel with Russia After Election to Bypass U.S. Government: Report @alternet

Michael Flynn Created a Back Channel with Russia After Election to Bypass U.S. Government: Report @alternet:

"Let’s repeat that: A back channel to bypass U.S. national security bureaucracy. Which has a parallel in Trump’s bypassing American media while allowing Russian media inside the Oval Office, when he met with Kislyak and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. The day after he fired FBI Director James Comey. A meeting at which he disclosed to the Russians classified intelligence that was so sensitive it hadn’t even been shared with the United States’ closest allies. Classified intelligence that came from a source whose importance cannot be overstated"

Why Donald Trump Keeps Contact With Investigation Targets

Thursday, May 18, 2017

WATCH: Dutch documentary investigates Trump’s alleged past links to the Russian mob

http://www.salon.com/2017/05/16/watch-dutch-documentary-investigates-trumps-links-to-russian-mob/
"In examining Trump’s business partners, the filmmakers encounter the Russian mafia, including business and personal connections to oligarchs in Russia. The documentary takes a close look at Trump’s connections to the country, starting with his first trip to Russia in the 1980s."

New Questions On Donald Trump-Russia Special Counsel

Russian state-run bank financed Toronto Trump hotel through mystery buyer: report

Russian state-run bank financed Toronto Trump hotel through mystery buyer: report

"A new report in the Wall Street Journal reveals that a Trump-branded hotel in Toronto received an urgently needed cash injection via a deal financed by a Russian state-run bank. According to the Journal, government-owned VEB helped former Trump hotel partner Alexander Shnaider arrange an asset sale involving a share in a Ukrainian steel firm worth $850 million. Shortly after Shnaider completed the deal, he quickly began injecting cash into the Trump Toronto project, which the Journal notes was financially troubled at the time of the sale. Although the buyer of the share hasn’t been publicly identified, two sources tell the Journal that it was “an entity acting for the Russian government"."

Special Counsel Suits Donald Trump-Russia Probe Well

Without a Doubt, Donald Trump is Our Top National Security Threat — Period

https://forwardprogressives.com/without-doubt-donald-trump-top-national-security-threat-period/
"It’s not just that he’s a complete idiot who clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing, that in and of itself is bad enough. Then we have to factor in that our allies and enemies alike know this. Not only do adversaries such as Russia know they can easily manipulate his massive, insecure ego, but our allies are going to start pulling back from sharing information with us because they don’t trust him with it. Meanwhile, there’s still that “little” thing about Trump being part of the focus of an on-going investigation by U.S. intelligence officials looking into whether or not his campaign committed treason during last year’s election by colluding with Russian agents. We can add this to the ever-growing list of things we know about Trump that prove he’s completely unfit to lead this country. Such as saying he didn’t know being president would be so hard, apparently needing the Chinese president to explain to him why the situation with North Korea is so incredibly complex, and the sad reality that he still doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that, as “Commander-in-Chief” everything he says, even on Twitter, matters. Supporting someone to sit behind that desk in the Oval Office is about much more than simply liking their ideas or backing a certain political party. It’s about making sure, at the very least, the person living in the White House understands the basics of what it takes to be president. There are millions of people who, just like Trump, believe many of the same asinine things as he does. And, just like Trump, they have absolutely no business being this nation’s president. This isn’t about last year’s election, Democrats vs. Republicans, or even loathing Donald Trump — this is about this nation being led by someone who, through sheer incompetence alone, has become our top national security threat."

Secret GOP Audio In 2016: 'I Think Vladimir Putin Pays' Donald Trump

Erick Erickson: 'I Am Told What [Trump] Did Is Actually Far Worse Than What Is Being Reported' | Crooks and Liars

Erick Erickson: 'I Am Told What [Trump] Did Is Actually Far Worse Than What Is Being Reported' | Crooks and Liars

"conservative provocateur and Fox News analyst Erick Erickson wrote today on his site, The Resurgent, that he knows one of the sources, who is a Trump supporter and is so upset by his actions that he's leaking to try and get the man to change."

Former Israeli spymasters rip into Trump, say Israel must reassess intel sharing

http://www.timesofisrael.com/former-israeli-spymasters-rip-into-trump-say-israel-must-reassess-intel-sharing/
"A former chief of the Mossad spy agency fired off harsh criticism at Donald Trump in an interview with The Times of Israel on Wednesday, saying his actions put international information-sharing efforts at risk, in light of reports that the US president divulged classified intelligence to Russia last week."

Breathtakingly Irresponsible: Former Bush Iraq Adviser on Trump Sharing Secret Intel with Russians

Flynn and Manafort emerge as ‘key figures’ in probe as special counsel takes over Russia investigation

Flynn and Manafort emerge as ‘key figures’ in probe as special counsel takes over Russia investigation

"NBC News reports two close aides to Donald Trump have emerged as “key figures” in the investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. Four law enforcement officials told NBC News that “multiple grand jury subpoenas” have been issued in connection with former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn."

Lawrence To Donald Trump White House Staff: 'Lawyer Up'

Ex-Israeli spy chiefs trash ‘elephant in a china shop’ Trump: He couldn’t even run a ‘corner store’

Ex-Israeli spy chiefs trash ‘elephant in a china shop’ Trump: He couldn’t even run a ‘corner store’

"Leaders of Israel’s intelligence gathering community say they’re rethinking their policies on sharing information with the U.S. government after President Donald Trump leaked highly sensitive classified information to Russian officials during an Oval Office visit last week. The Times of Israel said that two former heads of Mossad — Israel’s top intelligence agency — said this week that Trump is not trustworthy and slammed his decision to reveal classified intelligence with Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak. Shabtai Shavit — who was Mossad’s director in the 1990s — told the Times that if he were the current leader of the agency, he would balk at sharing intelligence with the U.S. leadership, who he believes is compromised by Trump’s cozy relations with Moscow as well as the president’s instability and apparent inability to stop his mouth from running. “If tomorrow I were asked to pass information to the CIA, I would do everything I could to not pass it to them. Or I would first protect myself and only then give it, and what I’d give would be totally neutered,” Shavit said. “If some smart guy decides that he’s allowed to leak information, then your partners in cooperation will be fewer or just won’t be at all.” The Times noted that Trump leaked “code word” level intelligence to the Russian delegation. “Code Word” is one of the highest levels of secrecy in U.S. national security."

Paul Ryan tried to quash leaks after GOP majority leader declared ‘Putin pays Trump’: report

Paul Ryan tried to quash leaks after GOP majority leader declared ‘Putin pays Trump’: report

"A startling audio recording of Republican leadership documents a discussion of whether Donald Trump was the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Washington Post verified the recording of a June 2015 exchange featuring Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Speak Paul Ryan. “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy told a gathering of lawmakers. Fellow California Republican Dana Rohrabacher is known as Putin’s favorite congressman. The Washington Post claimed Speaker Ryan immediately interjected, before McCarthy’s assertion about Trump could be further explored. “No leaks…this is how we know we’re a real family here,” Speaker Ryan said in an attempt to keep the conversation private."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Subpoena Issued Regarding Donald Trump Associate Paul Manafort (Exclusive)

‘I hope you let this go’: Bombshell Comey memo reveals Trump asked him to drop Flynn investigation

‘I hope you let this go’: Bombshell Comey memo reveals Trump asked him to drop Flynn investigation

"Sources close to fired FBI Director James Comey revealed the existence of a memo written by the former director as part of a paper trail into what he believes was “improper” conduct by President Donald Trump. Trump was quoted as saying “I hope you can let this go” regarding disgraced adviser Michael Flynn according to the memo, which was read aloud to a New York Times reporter."

Impeach! Trump Pressured Comey To Shut Down Flynn Investigation (UPDATED) | Crooks and Liars

Impeach! Trump Pressured Comey To Shut Down Flynn Investigation (UPDATED) | Crooks and Liars

"The New York Times is breaking the news that one of these memos details pressure Trump brought to bear on Comey after firing Michael Flynn to shut down the investigation into Flynn's contacts with Russia."

U.S. ally ‘might stop sharing intelligence’ after Trump’s leak

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/us-ally-might-stop-sharing-intelligence-after-trumps-leak
"Donald Trump’s first overseas trip as president was already poised to be awkward. Foreign Policy magazine reported yesterday that our NATO allies are “scrambling” to tailor their upcoming meeting “to avoid taxing President Donald Trump’s notoriously short attention span.” A source briefed extensively on the meeting’s preparations explained, “It’s kind of ridiculous how they are preparing to deal with Trump. It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child – someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing…. They’re freaking out.” And that was before our NATO partners learned that Trump apparently shared highly classified secrets with Russia for unknown reasons. The Associated Press reported today that U.S. allies “have anxiously wondered” if America’s strange amateur president could be trusted with sensitive national security information, and now those countries have “new reasons to worry"."

James Comey Memo: Donald Trump Asked For End To Probe: NYT

Cover-Ups and Russian Financial Ties Stand Out as Trump's Russia Scandal Keeps Getting Deeper @alternet

Cover-Ups and Russian Financial Ties Stand Out as Trump's Russia Scandal Keeps Getting Deeper @alternet:

"Trump stupidly thought he could use and/or abuse the power of the presidency to wiggle out of this predicament, but it’s the unstoppable wiggling that’s getting him into more and more trouble. For a guy who everyone says is so media-savvy, Donald Trump is even more incompetent at cleaning up his own messes than he is at being president."

What Donald Trump Doesn't Know About The James Comey Memo

Donald Trump’s loose lips with Russia may have cost America the trust of European allies

http://www.salon.com/2017/05/16/donald-trumps-loose-lips-with-russia-may-have-cost-america-the-trust-of-european-allies/
"The Associated Press reports that a senior European intelligence official believes his country might stop sharing sensitive information with the United States government if it is proved that Trump shared highly classified information with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The source is reported to have told the Associated Press that Trump’s actions could demonstrate “a risk for our sources” if they confide in the United States in the future."

Will a Mob-Connected Hustler Be the First Person to Spill the Beans to the FBI on Trump's Russian Ties? @alternet

Will a Mob-Connected Hustler Be the First Person to Spill the Beans to the FBI on Trump's Russian Ties? @alternet:

"Sure looks that way, based on an intriguing Wall Street Journal story that exposed aspects of a bitter feud between two of Trump’s former key business associates. The newspaper revealed that the Russia-born Felix Sater—a twice-convicted one-time Mafia associate—is demanding hush money from a former boss, Kazakhstan-born Tevfik Arif, whose Bayrock Group worked in a close partnership for nearly a decade with the Trump Organization."

Trump Leaked Highly Classified Information To Russians

H.R. McMaster Denies A Story The Washington Post Did Not Report | Crooks and Liars

H.R. McMaster Denies A Story The Washington Post Did Not Report | Crooks and Liars

"McMaster's denial is fine, but it is simply unrelated to the report of what WAS disclosed. A bait-and-switch maneuver, clumsily executed."

GOP lawmaker demands classified briefings ‘so that Congress can at least know as much as Russians’

GOP lawmaker demands classified briefings ‘so that Congress can at least know as much as Russians’

"Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) on Tuesday demanded that the Trump administration provide Congress with classified briefings about the “highly classified” information the president reportedly gave to Russian officials. Comstock released a statement on Tuesday following The Washington Post report claiming Trump revealed “code word” intelligence about ISIS to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. “Once again we are faced with inexplicable stories coming from the White House that are highly troubling,” Comstock said in the statement. “We need to have immediate classified briefings on what occurred at this meeting so that Congress can at least know as much as Russian leaders and know the impact on our national security, our allies, and our men and women protecting our country"."

Will Trump's lies cost lives? Can we break his spell? Killer cognitive bias.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump Revealed Highly Classified Intelligence to Russia, in Break With Ally, Officials Say

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/15/us/politics/trump-russia-classified-information-isis.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0
"President Trump boasted about highly classified intelligence in a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week, providing details that could expose the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected, a current and a former American government official said Monday. The intelligence disclosed by Mr. Trump in a meeting with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, was about an Islamic State plot, according to the officials. A foreign ally that closely guards its own secrets provided the information, which was considered so sensitive that American officials did not share it widely within the United States government or pass it on to other allies."

Russia probe: Senate requests Trump documents from agency that monitors money laundering

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/10/russia-probe-senate-requests-documents-from-money-laundering-watchdog-agency.html
"The Senate panel has requested information about President Donald Trump and his top aides from a financial intelligence unit in the Treasury Department that imposed a $10 million civil penalty on Trump Taj Mahal in 2015 for multiple violations of money-laundering laws."

Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-revealed-highly-classified-information-to-russian-foreign-minister-and-ambassador/2017/05/15/530c172a-3960-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-high_trumpintel-0504pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.2b7c95138119
"The president’s disclosures to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in their Oval Office meeting last week jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State — an information-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, current and former U.S. officials said. Trump appeared to be boasting of the “great intel” he receives when he described a looming terror threat, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange. As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law."

WaPo: Donald Trump Shares Highly Classified Info With Russian Officials

Trump’s admission bolsters allegations of obstruction of justice

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trumps-admission-bolsters-allegations-obstruction-justice
"Perhaps someone needs to remind Trump that he has the right to remain silent, and anything he says may be used against him in a court of law (or in a legislative chamber weighing impeachment charges)."

The Day Putin Played Trump Like A Cheap Fiddle | Crooks and Liars

The Day Putin Played Trump Like A Cheap Fiddle | Crooks and Liars

"No US media were allowed into the Oval Office, just Russian State Media. Really."

Donald Trump's Abrupt Firing Of US Attorneys Remains Unexplained

Did Donald Trump just write his own articles of impeachment?

https://thinkprogress.org/did-donald-trump-just-write-his-own-articles-of-impeachment-29d3d4b8fff5
"Trump also seems to be under the impression that he is in charge of the investigation into his own campaign and empowered to expand or end it. Trump told Holt that he might “lengthen out the investigation.” Ultimately, Comey’s firing seemed to reflect Trump’s frustration that Comey, in pursuing the investigation, was being “disloyal” to Trump. The New York Times reports that Trump invited Comey to dinner in January and demanded he pledge his “loyalty.” Comey refused, promising only to be honest. The Deputy White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, also linked Comey’s firing today to the Russia probe. Sanders said during her press briefing that she hoped Comey’s firing would help bring the investigation “to its conclusion.” While Trump could theoretically face criminal charges for obstruction of justice, it is not a practical possibility. (Trump, for one thing, controls the Department of Justice.) Therefore, accountability for obstruction of justice would have to be exercised through impeachment. With Republicans in charge of both chambers, impeachment proceedings do not seem in the offing."

Harvard’s Laurence Tribe: Impeach Donald Trump Now

Donald Trump is angry that his press shop can’t keep track of all his lies

http://www.salon.com/2017/05/12/donald-trump-is-angry-that-his-press-shop-cant-keep-track-of-all-his-lies/
"The only communications person he is reported to view favorably right now is deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — even though she inadvertently admitted that Comey’s firing really was about the Russia investigation."

Donald Trump's Big Mouth May Have Just Gotten Him Impeached @alternet

Donald Trump's Big Mouth May Have Just Gotten Him Impeached @alternet:

"The tragicomedy of Donald Trump is all about aggrandizement and annihilation. Now, as the president sinks deeper into mental incoherence, his aggrandizement is annihilating his own political defenses. Bereft of wise advisers and surrounded by a mercenary family, the president seems lost in a wilderness of social media mirrors. Mental health professionals are concerned, to put it mildly. The president of the United States apparently cannot comprehend the consequences of his actions."

Financial Crimes Unit To Help Donald Trump-Russia Investigation

Trump Completely Melts Down, Threatens Comey, Media in Morning Twitter Tirade

https://forwardprogressives.com/trump-completely-melts-threatens-comey-media-morning-twitter-tirade/
"It’s a sad day for this country when our leader, and the person who has the most difficult job in the world, apparently spent a good chunk of his Friday morning watching cable news and whining on Twitter like a petulant child who can’t control his emotions."

On Lavrov meeting, Trump admits to being Putin's puppet, not just looking like one

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/5/12/1661452/-On-Lavrov-meeting-Trump-admits-to-being-Putin-s-puppet-not-just-looking-like-one
"Now, look, this meeting was deeply problematic on so many levels: the White House locked out U.S. press while allowing a Russian news agency in; it posed a total security risk by agents of the very government that just hacked our democracy; and the White House readout of the Lavrov meeting didn’t even include the fact that Kislyak was there (i.e. without Russian media photos, U.S. press wouldn’t have even known the meddling ambassador was in attendance.) But consider something else, part of the reason that meeting ever took place is because Trump doesn’t, in fact, have a functional State Department to put the kibosh on such an ill-advised meeting (seriously, every foreign leader around the world now thinks/knows that Trump is Putin’s puppet). Remember, Trump and Tillerson—who likely has more Russian contacts than any other Trump Cabinet member—have drained the State Department dry of institutional knowledge. There’s been not one, but two major purges at State, resulting in a major brain drain there."

Elizabeth Warren On Republicans And Donald Trump’s 'Nonsense'

Monday, May 15, 2017

Shep Smith Can't Stop Laughing At Trump's Russian Award-Winning Law Firm | Crooks and Liars

Shep Smith Can't Stop Laughing At Trump's Russian Award-Winning Law Firm | Crooks and Liars

"Trump hired the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius to send a letter to Lindsey Graham about his finances which stated that that "Trump's last 10 years of tax returns do not reveal "any income of any type from Russian sources" with some exceptions. The phrase "some exceptions" has caused quite a stir. The lawyers have offered no documents, including Trump's tax returns as proof of their findings. Experts on white-collar financial crime like Jack Blum, have already said, "There’s no substance to it. The letter is just another puff of smoke. It has no meaning at all. It’s just another way to not answer the question." But there's another part to this equation that is just as troubling. As the Washington Post reports, "Her law firm was honored by Chambers & Partners’ 2016 Chambers Europe guide as Russia Law Firm of the Year. Fox News' Shepard Smith and his guest, Geri Willis couldn't contain their amusement and kept breaking out in laughter as they discussed the story. After outlining the letter's contents, Smith said, "President Trump has not released the tax returns so Fox News cannot confirm any of this." "Meantime, the law firm which wrote the letter for the president has extensive ties to Russia and according to a press release on its own web site, the law firm won a 'Russia law firm of the year award' in 2016., " he said. As Shep continued, "The Fox Business Network's Geri..." He broke out laughing."

Controversial Oval Office meeting was held at Putin’s request

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/controversial-oval-office-meeting-was-held-putins-request
"First, it was controversial because of the timing: Trump meeting with Russian officials the day after firing Comey looked ridiculous. Then it was a little more controversial because American journalists were excluded. Then it was a little more controversial because a journalist from a state-run media outlet in Russia wasn’t excluded. Then it was a little more controversial because of the security risk. Then it was a little more controversial because White House officials said Russia had “tricked” them. Then it was a little more controversial because Lavrov brought along Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a detail the White House readout neglected to mention, and something we only know because Russia acknowledged it. Kislyak, of course, is the official Michael Flynn talked to before he lied about it and got fired. And then it was a little more controversial because the entire meeting happened at Vladimir Putin’s request, and Trump didn’t feel as if he could say no."

The dubious friends of Donald Trump: the Russians

Donald Trump's Financial Ties to Russian Oligarchs and Mobsters Detailed In Explosive New Documentary from the Netherlands @alternet

Donald Trump's Financial Ties to Russian Oligarchs and Mobsters Detailed In Explosive New Documentary from the Netherlands @alternet:

"Donald Trump's business partners have included Russian oligarchs and convicted mobsters, which could make the president guilty of criminal racketeering charges. That's one of the eyebrow-raising takeaways from a 45-minute Dutch documentary that aired last week, titled The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump, Part 1: The Russians. The first installment of the investigative reporting series, produced by Zembla, does what no American TV network has yet dared to do—take a deep look at the organized crime links and corrupt international business strategies used by Trump and his partners in his properties. It starts with Trump's luxury tower in the lower Manhattan neighborhood of Soho, where his partner in building that highrise was Bayrock LLC, whose primary investor was a Russian mining oligarch and another major investor was a convicted Russian mobster named Felix Sater. "Why did 60 Minutes pass on the Bayrock story in 2016? Why did ABC News' Brian Ross pass on the Trump Soho [Tower] story in 2015? Why has no major network done any kind of documentary on what the Dutch just did?" asks James Henry, a corporate lawyer-turned-financial investigative reporter who writes for DCReport.org. Henry is one of several investigative reporters whose work on Trump's shady business empire is profiled in the film. The documentary shows how Trump not only helped hide the identity of his mobster business partner, prompting an ongoing lawsuit accusing Trump of criminal racketeering, but also how Trump used that internal company crisis to demand more money. It goes on to show how Russian oligarchs saw Trump's properties as a way to get their money out of Russia, and describes the international financial networks that are akin to a pyramid scheme for money laundering. It also notes how the law firm of Trump's political adviser, former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani, helped set up a money-laundering account in the Netherlands used by Bayrock."