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The Trump-Russia File [updated]

william.scherk

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A weird story that will probably continue to simmer for the remaining months of the 2106 2016 Presidential election:  what are Donald J Trump's ties to Russian interests?  How can the purported ties be established in fact? Is there any record that can be examined?  Would Trump tax returns show something hinky or surprising in this regard?

The biggest headline is that experts named and un-named have found the fingerprints of the Russian state on the Wikileaked DNC emails.  That the supposedly "Romanian" 'Guccifer' was a Russian FSB agent. That is no surprise. What is surprising is how common-sense rational inquiry flies out the window, and how unusual are Mr Trump's policies in contrast to the bipartisan stance that views Russia as a non-democracy opposed to Western values.  

The Russian "Connection" with Trump takes three main forms:

  • Russian Investment in Trump's real-estate ventures (rumoured and real)
  • Russian Interests represented by Ash Carter Carter Page, a close Trump advisor on foreign policy/Paul Manafort's oligarchy-lobbying in DC
  • USA/Russian policy changes under a Trump promise (ie, most significantly on NATO).

A few things stick out in my mind: the very specific way Mr Trump denied he has investments in Russia (without the corollary "I have no Russian-money investment in any of my projects and plans")**;  the actual NATO/Russia policy changes Mr Trump has promised to put in action.  The common-sense understanding that this is a weakness for the Trump campaign, not a winner.  A slow drip kind of weakness.

A funny side-issue is Mr Trump's nomination for a Pulitzer Prize to the National Enquirer. Put that worthy news magazine's attention on Ted Cruz's father's involvement in the JFK assassination in perspective.  Today, multiple lines of evidence suggest a corruption in the Trump machine, a back-door 'understanding' with the Russian point of view.   It's the stuff of tabloids, and yet it could shake out true.  If the roles were reversed (a Russian 'nod' to a Democratic candidate, etc), the drips would be Front Page News. That a  Democrat refused to clear up the record by releasing tax returns would be scandalous, if not proof of the corruption of/meddling in American democracy by foreign interests.

[a CBS4 News 'exclusive' may not appear in all browsers. Here is the link to the breaking interview with Mr Trump: 

CBS4 News Exclusive: Trump Denies Ties To Russia
July 27, 2016 1:09 AM By Jim DeFede ]

____________

 

** '“Is that the theory? I haven’t heard that at all,” Trump told the Miami station. “I mean I haven’t heard that. But I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever.”

Trump went on to say he has no outstanding loans with Russian banks or Russian investors.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”'

I predict this issue will hang and hang and drip and drip and become a millstone about  The Candidate's Neck.   His suggestion today that the FSB continue to probe US computer networks is not the kind of thing we have heard before in an election campaign. 

I will of course revisit my prediction in the months to come.  I smell smoke. 

Is Trump a Russian Stooge?



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William,

Ha!

Trump a Russian stooge?

Why not at all.

He is a secret plant by Hillary among the Republicans to blow away all other Republican candidates and guarantee her win in the general election.

:)

Michael

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From a story at the Daily Caller:

Quote

 

Pence Breaks With Trump On Russian Hacking

Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Gov. Mike Pence issued a statement saying Russia should face “serious consequences” if it hacked the Democratic National Committee, at nearly the exact same time Republican Nominee Donald Trump told reporters “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Trump continued, “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Pence’s statement by contrast reads, “If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences.” Espionage, it should be noted, in all forms, is widely considered fair game in the international world. Trump’s comments, even in jest, go a step further by appearing to encourage a foreign power’s hacking of an American in office.

Trump doubled down shortly after the press conference, tweeting “If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!”

Reports now indicate U.S. intelligence agencies have told the White House they now assess with “high confidence” that Russia was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee’s email server. Trump told reporters if Russia is behind the hack it only exhibits the weakness of the Obama administration, and that when he was in office respect for America by Putin would be restored.

When asked explicitly whether he would call on Putin not to meddle in the U.S. Presidential election he again demurred saying “I’m not going to tell Putin what to do.” The comment again contrasts significantly with Pence’s statement which unequivocally condemns any meddling by Russia in U.S. elections.

 

 

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"The Media" is in full Grand Hoopla formation. From Memeorandum.com:

Spoiler

 

Ashley Parker / New York Times:
Donald Trump Calls on Russia to Find Hillary Clinton's Missing Emails  —  DORAL, Fla. — Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton's email, essentially encouraging an adversarial foreign power's cyberspying on a secretary of state's correspondence.
Discussion:
RELATED:
i29.jpg Jesse Byrnes / The Hill:
Aide: Trump ‘will not be releasing’ taxes  —  said Wednesday that the Republican presidential nominee “will not be releasing” his taxes.  —  “Mr. Trump has said that his taxes are under audit and he will not be releasing them,” Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort told “CBS This Morning.”
i18.jpg CBS Miami:
CBS4 News Exclusive: Trump Denies Ties To Russia  —  DORAL - In his most extensive remarks on allegations that Russia is attempting to influence the presidential election in his favor, Republican nominee Donald Trump flatly denied any ties to the Russian government or Russian investors.
i5.jpg New York Times:
Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked D.N.C.  —  WASHINGTON — American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee …
 Tyler Pager / Politico:
Trump urges Russia to hack Clinton's email  —  Donald Trump invited Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's emails on Wednesday, asking them to find “the 30,000 emails that are missing” from the personal server she used during her time as secretary of state.  —  “It would be interesting to see …

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Today brings a fresh round of tweets from President Trump. It seems that Attorney-General Jefferson Sessions may have lost the confidence of Trump.  It is unclear to me just what tweets could mean for Session's future at the head of the Justice Department, since both Scaramucci and Sanders are equivocating on the President's intentions. 

Is Sessions part of the DC 'sewer'?  Does he need to resign? Is this all just a shadow-play (or entertaining side-show) from the White House?

From Politico:

Scaramucci insisted an attorney general should serve as a “hockey goalie for the president,” a dynamic he said Trump and Sessions don't have.

“I’m not saying these guys did anything illegal, but I think when you think about the relationship John F. Kennedy had with his brother as attorney general, or you think about that relationship that the president had with Eric Holder, President Obama, they probably don’t have that sort of relationship,” Scaramucci said. “And I think the president, when he thinks about the architecture of his Cabinet, I think he needs that sort of a relationship there.”

From FoxNews:

The president is "frustrated and disappointed" in Sessions for recusing from the investigation after his meetings as senator with the Russian ambassador came under scrutiny, the newly appointed press secretary said on "Fox & Friends."

Trump vented his exasperation with his long-time supporter on Twitter Tuesday morning, saying Sessions has taken a "weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes."

From Powerline:

Last week President Trump complained on the record to New York Times White House reporters Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman about Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump expressed profound dissatisfaction with Sessions’s recusal from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign. Sessions’s recusal covers what is now the Special Counsel investigation under the direction of Robert Mueller. I read Trump’s remarks to be an (unsubtle) invitation to Sessions to resign.

Trump followed up his remarks to the Times with disparaging tweets. Yesterday he characterized Sessions as “our beleaguered A. G.” (tweet below). His tweet asked what appears to be a rhetorical question about the failure to investigate “Crooked Hillary[‘]s crimes & Russia relations[.]” Trump omitted any mention of who was beleaguering the A.G..

From Breitbart:

President Trump’s decision Tuesday to attack Attorney General Jeff Sessions over Sessions’ “position” on Hillary Clinton’s various scandals only serves to highlight Trump’s own hypocrisy on the issue — and is likely to fuel concerns from his base who see Sessions at the best hope to fulfill Trump’s immigration policies.

I suspect 'his base' is going to be fine with whatever the President decides to do or not do with regard to the AG. As shall be seen in OL commentary on the issue of Sessions ... it probably just doesn't matter one way or the other. 

In the meantime, another round of Hoopla from the usual suspects in the media:

Spoiler
 The Daily Beast:
Jeff Sessions Is Growing ‘Pissed’ at Trump, His Allies Say.  And He Doesn't Plan to Quit. … Attorney General Jeff Sessions has no plans to leave office as friends say he's grown angry with President Donald Trump following a series of attacks meant to marginalize his power and, potentially, encourage his resignation.
RELATED:
 Erick Erickson / The Resurgent:
Cabinet Level Revolt Over Trump's Treatment of Jeff Sessions.  “A Clusterf**k” One Secretary Calls It.  —  “If he can get treated that way, what about the rest of us?” one of the President's Cabinet secretaries asked me with both shock and anger in his voice.
Discussion:
 Lesley Clark / McClatchy Washington Bureau:
Trump messes with Sessions, and Senate Republicans are not pleased  —  President Donald Trump is getting a bitter Washington lesson when he messes with Jeff Sessions - you don't pick a fight with one of the Senate's guys.  —  It's a lesson that could cost him politically in a Senate …
Discussion:
 Washington Post:
Trump leaves Sessions twisting in the wind while berating him publicly  —  President Trump and his advisers are privately discussing the possibility of replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and some confidants are floating prospects who could take his place were he to resign or be fired, according to people familiar with the talks.
Discussion:
Michael Warren / Weekly Standard:   Is Jeff Sessions Toast?
 Adam Shaw / Breitbart:
Trump's Attack on Sessions over Clinton Prosecution Highlights His Own ‘Weak’ Stance  —  President Trump's decision Tuesday to attack Attorney General Jeff Sessions over Sessions' “position” on Hillary Clinton's various scandals only serves to highlight Trump's own hypocrisy on the issue …
Discussion:
 Chris Cillizza / CNN:20 minutes ago
 
Trump slams Sessions, rips DOJ in Twitter outburst  —  STORY HIGHLIGHTS  —  Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump lashed out at his attorney general and Justice Department in an extraordinary outburst on Twitter Tuesday morning, continuing his public shaming of Jeff Sessions while appearing …
Discussion:
Edited by william.scherk

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Notwithstanding our fearless leader's sophisticated punditry on the Front Porch of Objectivist Living, there is a line of argument that Jefferson Sessions deserves every bit of scorn coming from the President, and more.

(what I don't understand -- probably because I don't grasp the Art of the Deal -- is why the President doesn't simply ask Sessions in to a meeting, say "I have lost confidence in you, Jeff," and then tell him it's time for a change of leadership in the Department of Justice. If Sessions does not take the hint and resign, then the President is with his rights to fire him. )

From the Daily Wire**:

Quote

First, after allowing himself to be intimidated by the media, Sessions left Trump's flank exposed by recusing himself — for no good reason — from the Russian conspiracy theory that both the Democrats and the media are using to plot a presidential coup. Then, almost as quickly as Sessions could recuse himself, his just-as-useless deputy appoints Robert Mueller — a partisan hack who has been leaking like a crazy man and hiring only partisan Democrats — as a Special Prosecutor to investigate the Russian matter, a matter where not a single shred of wrongdoing has been exposed.

Mueller is not only conducting a partisan witch hunt, but thanks to Sessions' own Department of Justice, Mueller and his merry band of left-wing partisans are conducting an unprecedented oppo-research dig in advance of the 2020 election, and doing so at taxpayer expense.

Heckuva job, Jeffy! [...]

My guess is that no small part of Trump's frustration comes from the incalculable anguish of watching his own family dragged through this conspiracy mud. Meanwhile, someone who could actually do something to relieve some of this anguish, his own Attorney General, just sits there lounging in his comfortable recuser eating Cheetos and flipping through the cable channels, doing everything but what he ethically should be doing to defend his president and investigate these Obama-era scandals that were swept under the rug by previous attorney generals and our lying news media.

Man up and fight or get the hell out, Jeff.

That is the public message Trump is sending, not just to Sessions but to all the feckless cowards…

And the only thing wrong with this message is that it should have been sent months ago.

Here is the money-quote from MSK ...

1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Also, as gravy, by poking Sessions, President Trump is able to set the stage to ultimately have the special prosecutor dismissed.

I think I get this.  Sessions, having recused himself from campaign-oriented investigations, allowed his deputy, Rosenstein to establish a Special Counsel to lead the FBI investigation. The poking and public shaming of the Attorney-General is part of the Deal.  The actual deal that Trump is aiming for is that Robert Mueller be terminated.  And who can terminate Robert Mueller? I'd say the man who 'hired him,' Rosenstein. 

So, at some point, Rosenstein will be encouraged to terminate the FBI investigation before it gets too far ahead of itself.

Then, should Rosenstein refuse to do this, Trump can have Sessions terminate Rosenstein, and the next in command at the DOJ can do the bidding of the President.

That said, I do not think that President Trump will fire Sessions. And I do not think that Sessions will resign.

I am interested in the arguments that would show me wrong to think that.  Someone with a heart beating red Trump blood may indicate the errors.

_______________

**  The Daily Wire is the vehicle for anti-Trumper Ben Shapiro.

Quote

First, after allowing himself to be intimidated by the media, Sessions left Trump's flank exposed by recusing himself — for no good reason — from the Russian conspiracy theory that both the Democrats and the media are using to plot a presidential coup. Then, almost as quickly as Sessions could recuse himself, his just-as-useless deputy appoints Robert Mueller — a partisan hack who has been leaking like a crazy man and hiring only partisan Democrats — as a Special Prosecutor to investigate the Russian matter, a matter where not a single shred of wrongdoing has been exposed.

Mueller is not only conducting a partisan witch hunt, but thanks to Sessions' own Department of Justice, Mueller and his merry band of left-wing partisans are conducting an unprecedented oppo-research dig in advance of the 2020 election, and doing so at taxpayer expense.

Heckuva job, Jeffy! [...]

My guess is that no small part of Trump's frustration comes from the incalculable anguish of watching his own family dragged through this conspiracy mud. Meanwhile, someone who could actually do something to relieve some of this anguish, his own Attorney General, just sits there lounging in his comfortable recuser eating Cheetos and flipping through the cable channels, doing everything but what he ethically should be doing to defend his president and investigate these Obama-era scandals that were swept under the rug by previous attorney generals and our lying news media.

Man up and fight or get the hell out, Jeff.

That is the public message Trump is sending, not just to Sessions but to all the feckless cowards…

And the only thing wrong with this message is that it should have been sent months ago.

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AP_17041316048685-654x362-72c73aa.jpg

Just another day in Washington, DC.  The President goes to the Wall Street Journal to further signal his displeasure with the Attorney-General. 

The 'colourful' reactions to this newly-stated displeasure are beginning, since the WSJ interview was posted only within the last half-hour ...  I start off the festivities with a report from the pro-Trump side of things, the Gateway Pundit:

POTUS SLAMS SESSIONS AGAIN: He Endorsed Me Because of Big Crowds, Not Loyalty

Quote

The Wall Street Journal reports:

President Donald Trump  expressed his disappointment in Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday and questioned the importance of Mr. Sessions’s early endorsement of Mr. Trump’s candidacy, but the president declined to say whether he planned to fire him.

“It’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.”

Asked whether he would remove Mr. Sessions from office, Mr. Trump said he was disappointed in the attorney general ’s decision to recuse himself from the probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The president has repeatedly criticized Mr. Sessions in recent interviews and on Twitter.

“I’m just looking at it,” the president said when asked how long he could continue to criticize Mr. Sessions without firing him. “I’ll just see. It’s a very important thing.”

Mr. Trump said he had no immediate plans to make any other changes to his top staff.

While the President is still mum on his plans concerning Sessions, Scaramucci told NBC News a decision on the AG’s future will be made ‘shortly.’

From the anti-Trump wobblies at Raw Story:

Quote

President Donald Trump has once again openly bashed his Attorney General.

Jeff Sessions was the only Senator to endorse Trump in the primary, but President Trump is no longer giving him credit for his political support, claiming Sessions only endorsed him because of Trump’s crowd sizes.

“When they say he endorsed me, I went to Alabama,” Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “I had 40,000 people.”

“But he was a senator, he looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, ’What do I have to lose?’ And he endorsed me,” Trump explained. “So it’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement.”

“I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions,” Trump added.

President Trump is also now openly talking of firing Attorney General Sessions, but won’t reveal if he plans to oust him.

“I’m just looking at it,” Trump said when asked why he has criticized Sessions without firing him. “I’ll just see. It’s a very important thing.”

Trump “was joined by his daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and Hope Hicks, the White House director of strategic communications,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

 

Edited by william.scherk

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Trump Whispering

gettyimages-632412476.jpg

Trump-Whisperers try their best to interpret White House motives and intentions -- besides wondering whether Attorney-General Jefferson Sessions will keep his job or not.  

A few Trump-supporting pundits think the President is in error. That is Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson and a few also-rans at Breitbart and Gateway Pundit and such.  Their point being, more or less, that the President is undercutting a stone-cold loyalist to his own agenda.  The President is using the bully pulpit where he should be using the executive suite.

Got issues with a cabinet member? Get the cabinet member into the Oval Office and dress him down, list the issues, demand resolution, express disappointment, plan the way ahead.

The Usual Suspects

The usual suspects and the usual supporters are both facing the question "Why use tweets speeches, interviews, press conferences and leaks from aides to communicate with your subordinate, rather than a face-to-face meeting or intramural conference call or cabinet session?" 

I don't know ...  publicly dressing-down a cabinet member  doesn't make sense to me as a tactic for driving the Trump justice agenda forward.

Speculation ranges the field:  Trump is preparing the ground for a change at the top of the Department of Justice. Trump is merely expressing displeasure the ways he always expressed displeasure, nothing will change in terms of firing or resignation. Trump is putting a boot up Sessions' rear -- to heed the President's will, to deal with the displeasure by carrying out Trump's implied orders.

Blowing Off Steam

Which raises the issue of "blowing off steam." Can the President be serious about the DOJ beginning another criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton? He is already on record saying his administration would not open a fresh legal attack on her.

Maybe the criticisms of Sessions are just the way this particular executive lets out the contents of his mind, the most pressing issues in his mind. 

If that is so, or nearly so, it tells us that the Russia Russia Russia hoopla, committees of benghazi, and FBI investigation continue to piss the President off, aggravate and frustrate him.  

Vindication Ahead

If any of that makes Trump-Whisperer sense, then the outcome of this ruckus could be forecast with reasonable accuracy.  The President will be frustrated and disappointed for the duration of the Mueller inquiry, and will do all that he can to hasten a conclusion that vindicates him, his family and his campaign. And he will do it 'my way,' not paying attention to supposed "norms" of presidential conduct.

From this morning ...

 

Edited by william.scherk

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[See also MSK's speculative comments citing Rush: 

]

2 hours ago, william.scherk said:

A few Trump-supporting pundits think the President is in error.

Rush from yesterday, a view from Mount Plausible:

Quote

RUSH: So the White House, they’re not even denying that Trump wants Sessions to resign. Something’s going on here. Something has to be explain this. There has to be a reason. I mean, these people are not idiots. Something has to be going on. There has to be some reason behind this. I mean, I’m not gonna take a stab at a wild guess. I have no idea. But in any normal circumstance if something like this happens… Imagine you’re in a job at a private sector company, and the boss is running around running you down every day. Making it clear you’ve got no future, making it clear that you are not appreciated, making it clear that you’re not liked.

I mean, I think I understand Sessions here. Sessions likes the job, he’s committed to the job, and he’s got a tough exterior, and he’s not gonna be forced to resign. He’s gonna make Trump fire him if it comes to that. But remember the ongoing theory and the conventional wisdom is that all of this is part of a big strategy to set up the eventually firing of Mueller. Scaramucci is next, the White House communications director. He was on the Hugh Hewitt radio program this morning. Question: “It’s clear that the president wants Attorney General Sessions gone, isn’t it, Anthony?”

SCARAMUCCI: I do know the president pretty well, and there’s this level of tension in the relationship, that that’s public, you’re probably right. But I don’t want to speak for the president on that because he’s a cabinet official and I sort of think that has to be between the president of the United States and the cabinet official.

RUSH: “Yeah, I do know the president pretty well and, yeah, I think he probably wants Sessions…” (chuckling) What do you mean, probably? So Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and now “The Mooch,” Anthony Scaramucci, both confirming that Trump wants Sessions gone. If it really is over Sessions recusing himself, hasn’t there been enough time to get over that? There has. Now, his latest tweets on Sessions are dumping on Sessions for not conducting any investigation of the Clintons and not appearing interested in examining the Clintons and their role with Russia.

But you have to go back to Trump himself, who said during the transition that he would not pursue the Clintons, that he was not interested. He was being magnanimous in victory. So unless he’s issued an order to Sessions to do it and Sessions is defying it, the guidance that’s out there has been provided by Trump, and that was no investigation of the Clintons. I still say that this boils down to Trump thinking he had a brawler and a fighter. It’s understandable he would think that. Sessions was the first in the United States Senate, the Republican Party, of major stature, to endorse Trump, which took some guts.

And it was primarily over Trump’s position on immigration and the wall and the correlating cultural issues that result from wanton illegal immigration. Sessions was first up, and he was loud, and he was clear, and he was fearless. And he was going against the entire grain at the time of the Republican Party. So I’m sure that Trump assumed that he had a brawler here. At least he had somebody who was unafraid to do the heavy lifting and get down and dirty in whatever needed to be done, and he just hasn’t seen that since Sessions was confirmed.

Then of course the recusal is one thing. But Sessions is not gonna do anything to dishonor the office. He’s a man of I think considerable class and stature, and I think he reveres this job. I think he holds the whole position, attorney general, the Department of Justice, in the highest regard. And he wouldn’t want to do anything himself that would sully its reputation or image.

And I think Trump believes that all that is secondary because his presidency is at stake. And he thought he was assembling a team of people that were going to join him in doing battle here with the swamp. As I say, there’s plenty of time to have gotten over the recusal. Now, maybe it’s just been a lingering source of frustration that’s still eating away at Trump and he can’t let go of it, but there’s been sufficient time since that happened.

And Rush from today, on top of Mount Speculation (emphases added):

Quote

RUSH: None of this Trump-Sessions stuff makes any sense. This kind of open criticism, if it’s designed to make Sessions resign, isn’t working. And if the objective here is to get him to know, it means Trump wants him gone. And if he wants him gone, he could just fire him. He’s not doing that. I think one of the reasons why is if Sessions does go — however which way — Trump’s gotta find a new nominee for attorney general.

A. Who’s gonna take it?

B. How the hell are they gonna get confirmed, unless they nominate a Democrat?

It just doesn’t make sense. So because it doesn’t make sense in the way we are seeing it, it has to make sense in some other way, because none of these people are stupid. I hear all this talk, “You know, Trump is meeting with his staff. His staff is urging him to stop this.” Really? You really want us to believe that Trump’s having meetings with the staff and the staff’s saying, “Mr. President, we really think you ought to dial this down,” as though Trump is unaware of the trouble he’s causing?

And then after all these meetings with all these staffers advising Trump to dial it back, Trump goes out and doubles and triples down on it? None of this makes sense, unless something is happening here that we don’t know. I’ve been trying to figure out what it might be. I’ve had a couple ideas percolate in there in the cranial cavity of my head, and I’ve come up with a couple of possibilities. I don’t think it is coincidental that we had today an announcement that Sessions is going to start pursuing criminally all of these leaks.

You know, this has been a big bugaboo for the Trumpster, and this is something that has to please him. But his latest tweets on Sessions were the fact that Sessions didn’t get rid of McCabe and that McCabe’s wife was campaigning for a Senate seat and sending money to Hillary and so forth. He couldn’t possibly be fair. Why didn’t Sessions get rid of the guy? So it appears — at least the casual observer would say — that Trump is upset with Sessions ’cause Sessions is a wuss, Sessions isn’t a brawler, ’cause Sessions isn’t fighting Trump’s battles for him.

That’s what we are supposed to think here. None of this makes any sense. I’m watching the Drive-Bys analyze this as though they’re taking it literally. They’re not curious about it. The only reason they’re curious is they can’t figure out why Trump would do it. They believe it’s genuine. They think Trump is genuinely mad at Sessions, genuinely wants him gone but Sessions won’t quit. So Trump’s really doubling and tripling down trying to make him quit. They are not curious beyond this. None of this, on the surface, makes any common sense. The president can let Jeff Sessions go whenever he wants to.

Between Corn Flakes in the morning, he can call Sessions and say, “Back to Alabama, Dude. It’s not working.” But he’s not doing that, and Sessions is right there in the office saying (impression), “I’m not going back to Alabama, Corn Flakes or not.” He’s staying right where he is. Tell me this makes sense! It doesn’t. Now, I have expressed concern in recent broadcasts about Trump and his treatment of Sessions here, but I’ll tell you what. You know, I think Sessions’ role — and this is where it gets foggy for me as I’m trying to figure out what’s really going on.

This Russia thing, if I may say it again: There’s nothing here, folks. I know that it is the news of the day every day. It’s the all-day news story of every day, and the Senate and the House have their investigating committees, and they’re still looking for collusion — and there isn’t any, and they’re not gonna find any. The purpose of continuing this investigation is to paralyze Trump and to maybe hope and pray that something pops up somewhere. But there’s nothing there.

What Sessions is actually doing that is of profound importance and value is actually implementing the Trump immigration agenda. And Trump is not gonna find anybody else that’ll do that. Sessions is taking aim at sanctuary cities. Sessions is taking aim at the borders. Sessions is working with ICE and the Border Patrol, and it’s working. The number of illegal immigrants getting into the country is way, way down. The number of illegal immigrants trying to get into the country is way, way down.

It’s so way down that California farmers are openly complaining in the LA Times that they can’t find enough people to pick the strawberries and to pick the fruit, to pick the oranges, pick the vegetables, whatever it is. The cannoli! They don’t have enough people to pick it. They’re worried about having to pay higher wages. That is Sessions’ primary value to Trump. I have to think Trump knows this. None of the people that we’re talking about are stupid here.

Some of them may be impetuous, and some of them may be, you know, not down the center of the mainstream as we would define. But I would submit to you that most people are off the center of the mainstream rather than perfectly well adjusted and normal. I mean, how many nuts do you have in your family? Everybody has at least one nut in their family, maybe more than one, right? We all do. You know who they are, and they probably know who they are.

My point is there’s a lot of nuts out there, but the Drive-By… Well, no, wait. But the Drive-By Media analyzes Trump as though he’s the only nut and everybody in America is steadfastly normal, and judging Trump to be a loose cannon nutcase, fruitcake, whatever it is. When in fact, there aren’t that many, quote-unquote “normal people.” So the vast majority of Americans does not see Trump the way the Drive-Bys think everybody sees Trump, which is the way they see Trump. I would submit to you the Drive-Bys are not normal either.

There’s a slew of nuts among those people.

Mr. Snerdley, just so you know, literally nothing of what I’ve said here did I plan to say. I had it all… This whole segment has been improv based on the stuff that arrived here within three minutes of the program open. So now I’m faced with this organizational task. I’ve mentioned all these things, but only tangentially. I need to go back and get into detail with all of them. Which I will do! There’s nobody better. I will do it. I gotta go to these audio sound bites on Sessions because the Drive-Bys are using me as the barometer to indicate how much trouble Trump is in on this Sessions stuff.

[...]

RUSH: I just can’t… That’s too simple, and it’s too obvious, and it doesn’t make any sense. The only way it makes sense — and it would to a lot of the Drive-Bys and people on the left — is if you think Trump is insane. If you think is unbalanced, if you think Trump is — you know, elevator doesn’t go to the top floor. If you think that Trump’s an order of fries short of a Happy Meal, then this might make sense to you. But Trump is neither of those things. He’s not off kilter, not a wacko. He’s deeply strategic.

He’s been thinking about all of this for a long, long time. There’s something else that’s going on here. I don’t claim to know what it is. I’m just telling you that, to me, none of it makes sense. There’s no reason for this. In addition to that… There may be reasons for it, but we don’t know what they are. There’s always more behind the scenes to every event than we will ever know. So trying to make substantive analysis and judgments of this with limited information and bias or prejudice about who Trump is, I think, can lead people astray, which it is.

[...]

THE PRESIDENT: I want the attorney general to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies, which are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before, at a very important level. These are intelligence agencies. We cannot have that happen. You know many of my views in addition to that, but I think that’s one of the very important things that they have to get on with.

RUSH: Right.

THE PRESIDENT: I told you before, I’m very disappointed with the attorney general, but we will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell.

RUSH: It’s too obvious. “I’m disappointed with the attorney general.” Now, do you think it’s a coincidence that today Sessions announces a brand-new investigation into the very thing Trump is complaining about there? Sessions today announced an FBI, DOJ investigation into all of the leaking, the day after the Trumpster says, “I want the attorney general to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies.”

I’m sorry, folks. This is too big a coincidence. This makes it look like Sessions has seen the light and overnight decided to get back on board. Trump calls for an investigation into leaks one day, and the next day Sessions announces it. Man, has that Trump got power. Man, does Trump call the shots, is the perhaps hoped-for reaction.

[...]

 

Edited by william.scherk

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So, the House voted 419 to 3 on a Russia sanctions bill, which then passed the Senate 98 to 2.  

The White House just signaled that President Trump will sign the bill into law. 

That is not what Putin's Russia had hoped for.

 

 

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They voted for WWIII.

Nor do they really know what they are doing.

It"s WWII all over again.

But the shores do not protect--not any longer.

Get down on your knees and pray--on the very last day.

--Brant

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9 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:
11 hours ago, william.scherk said:

That is not what Putin's Russia had hoped for.

They voted for WWIII.

Nor do they really know what they are doing.

Well, maybe. But we would need to see your argument grapple with the sense and import of the bill.

The sanctions don't apply to Russia alone. If you check the text that Trump is expected to sign, the North Korean and Iranian states also face targeted punishment. "To provide congressional review and to counter aggression by the Governments of Iran, the Russian Federation, and North Korea, and for other purposes."

“H.R. 3364 — 115th Congress: Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.” www.GovTrack.us. 2017. July 29, 2017 <https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3364>

 

 

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The legislation awaiting Presidential signature is a big deal to some people. From Politico:

Quote

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Saturday called on Russia to take steps to improve its relationship with the United States after President Trump indicated he would sign a bill into law strengthening sanctions on Moscow.

"The near unanimous votes for the sanctions legislation in Congress represent the strong will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States," Tillerson said in a statement.

"We hope that there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues and these sanctions will no longer be necessary," he added.

[ ... ]

President Donald Trump plans to sign a congressional law restricting his ability to lift sanctions on Russia, the White House said Friday night, in a severe blow to his budding relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Confronted by a united Congress and suspicions about his intentions towards the Russian leader, Trump had little choice but to sign the measure, whose passage the White House had opposed.

“It would have been foolhardy for the Trump administration to veto this bill,” said Edward Fishman, a former Obama State Department official who worked on Russia sanctions policy. “Congress would have overriden the veto, and all it will do is fuel the fire of the Russia scandal in Washington.”

The White House statement sought to save face from a resounding political setback, arguing that Trump had negotiated changes to early drafts of the bill and, "based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it."

The timing of the announcement—late on a summer Friday, amid headlines about White House staff turmoil—ensured relatively little coverage for what analysts called a major development in U.S.-Russia relations.

[ ... ]

Members of both parties have grown concerned about Trump's eagerness to befriend Putin despite strong evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election and multiple investigations into alleged links between Trump associates and the Kremlin. Trump and Putin developed a friendly rapport in multiple conversations at the G-20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month, one of them an after-dinner chat attended by no other U.S. officials.

[ ... ]

The measure enshrines into law sanctions imposed by Obama through executive orders and gives Congress 30 days to review any effort by Trump to weaken sanctions.

Earlier this month, the White House’s top legislative liaison, Marc Short, said the law amounted to an “unusual precedent of delegating foreign policy to 535 members of Congress.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also urged Congress not to impede his “flexibility” to bargain with Moscow.

[ ... ]

But Obama officials who worked on the Iran deal call Russia a different case.

“I generally think Congress should be wary of impinging too far on executive branch prerogatives in foreign policy,” said Jon Finer, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State John Kerry during the nuclear negotiations.

“But two key differences here make the Russia case exceptional: the unprecedented interference (which Trump is the only person in Washington incapable of acknowledging) in our election, and the Administration's constant stream of lies about its ties to Russia, which raise legitimate questions about why they want a deal,” Finer added.

Lies!

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On 7/28/2017 at 8:47 PM, william.scherk said:

The White House just signaled that President Trump will sign the bill into law. 

Goals, directions and players can change, but this looks almost a done deal. OLers will have noticed that Russia is ordering out 700-odd diplomatic staff in a kind of reprisal -- even though the President has not yet signed the bill.

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On 7/28/2017 at 8:47 PM, william.scherk said:

So, the House voted 419 to 3 on a Russia sanctions bill, which then passed the Senate 98 to 2.  

The White House just signaled that President Trump will sign the bill into law. 

The bill is on the White House website, under Pending Legislation. It may not actually get a Trump signature this week.  You might think that the overwhelming support in Congress would itself signal a ''veto-proof" act, but that the President would seek counsel before committing himself to such short-of-war punishment. If you think that, you are probably correct.

The White House press secretary referred to the bill today, suggesting it was undergoing legal review.  I have read some gossipy elitism from wonks, who wager that the White House is crafting a 'signing statement' to accompany a signature.

I think that is smart, especially if the Administration wishes to send a sub rosa message to Russia. What exact kind of message, I have no idea. I guess that these nasty sanctions are going to require Putin to decree a reprisal sanction, at some point. Remember that Obama punished figures in the Russian orbit by expelling spy-plomats and emptying two Russian 'leisure' compounds preceding the inauguration. Those sanctions punished the erstwhile election 'interference.'

The point being --

Putin's decree last month that the US reduce its embassy and consulate staff by over seven hundred positions (some of which would likely be Russian citizens) is delayed retaliation for the December 2016 Obama expulsions.  So ...

So ... the White House may think that they can forestall reprisals by the way they handle the pending actions.

The bitter root here is that softening punishment and easing US-Russia relations may be the policy of the President, but this legislation ties his hands. Add that to the Magnitsky sanctions from the Obama era ('adoptions') which bite hard, and the post-Crimea sanctions made in concert with the EU and other nations (like Canada). They suck for Russia. They close off business opportunities, international lending, investment, and they target a raft of supposedly corrupt or human-rights-abusing persons and organizations official and not.

If I were a permanent employee at the White House, I would seek backchannels or imply by Presidential statement or signing that 'easing' of punishment is on the mid-term horizon, and so help Russia avoid punishing itself.

If I had to follow unenunciated policy, I would counsel a nod and a wink, similar to Obama's "flexible after election" aside to Medvedev.  Russia has its own problems.

Putin can presumably get re-elected without resorting to militaristic over-reach or other sabre-rattling. After all these years at the pinnacle of power, he must have developed a long game**.

It is notable that Trump is touting an apparent hardline with Russia (insofar as he mentions it -- in the context of US energy dominance and heightened production and exports maintaining a low-ish oil/gas/coal price), sending forth the Vice President on tour of NATO frontline states -- to reassure former Soviet states that the USA has their backs.  

-- some wonkish folks think that Trump might attempt a 'pocket veto,' signalling to Russia that he has grave doubts about implementing new sanctions. That would avoid the optics of abandoning a campaign theme of better relations. It might allow Putin to postpone his reaction, understanding that the President is an unwilling accomplice to damaging the motherland.

I know shit about a pocket veto, just that in five-dimensional hopscotch, if the "Legal Review" Nyet period extends into Congressional vacation time, it could mean that Congress must do the whole dang thing over again, this time not requiring Trump to touch it. That would be the kind of finesse we expect from the mighty team at 1600 you know what.

C4UT4r0WYAA8TRJ.jpg

 

 

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18 hours ago, william.scherk said:

The bill is on the White House website, under Pending Legislation. It may not actually get a Trump signature this week.

And now signed, with two accompanying statements from the White House, each with particular wording. Number 1:

Quote
The White House. 
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 02, 2017

Statement by President Donald J. Trump on Signing the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”

Today, I signed into law the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” which enacts new sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.  I favor tough measures to punish and deter bad behavior by the rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang.  I also support making clear that America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and that we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization.

[...]

I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars.  That is a big part of the reason I was elected.  As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.

A more technical second statement:

Quote
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 02, 2017

Statement by President Donald J. Trump on the Signing of H.R. 3364

Today, I have signed into law H.R. 3364, the "Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act."  While I favor tough measures to punish and deter aggressive and destabilizing behavior by Iran, North Korea, and Russia, this legislation is significantly flawed.

In its haste to pass this legislation, the Congress included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions.  For instance, although I share the policy views of sections 253 and 257, those provisions purport to displace the President's exclusive constitutional authority to recognize foreign governments, including their territorial bounds, in conflict with the Supreme Court's recent decision in Zivotofsky v. Kerry.

Additionally, section 216 seeks to grant the Congress the ability to change the law outside the constitutionally required process.  The bill prescribes a review period that precludes the President from taking certain actions.  Certain provisions in section 216, however, conflict with the Supreme Court's decision in INS v. Chadha, because they purport to allow the Congress to extend the review period through procedures that do not satisfy the requirements for changing the law under Article I, section 7 of the Constitution.  I nevertheless expect to honor the bill's extended waiting periods to ensure that the Congress will have a full opportunity to avail itself of the bill's review procedures.

[...]

Finally, my Administration particularly expects the Congress to refrain from using this flawed bill to hinder our important work with European allies to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, and from using it to hinder our efforts to address any unintended consequences it may have for American businesses, our friends, or our allies.

 

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The Russian prime minister let off a couple of nasty messages ...

 

 

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16 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:
On 8/3/2017 at 8:36 AM, william.scherk said:

I was thinking of the 2016 election.

If you ever feel like elaborating, I'd like to know what you are getting at ...

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On 7/31/2017 at 3:48 PM, william.scherk said:

OLers will have noticed that Russia is ordering out 700-odd diplomatic staff in a kind of reprisal 

And some OLers may have caught the US President's reaction to Russia ordering out the diplomatic/spy staff ...

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

-- it cannot be that the President believes that Putin "let go" the US-paid employees (some of which would be Russian nationals, employed as interpreters, etc).

It also cannot be that the President thinks those "let go" employees who are American citizens will somehow just drift off back to the USA and look for jobs.  Those employees are still on payroll with the US government, and will be assigned elsewhere in the apparatus of state.

But who knows what the President knows, or the gap between reality and what he believes? In a news day full of sabre-rattling over the North Korean nuclear missile programme, the "Thanks, Russia" bizarre statements haven't got a lot of oxygen.

But OLers, being rational to a T, will figure out how to align Trump's odd comments with reality, even if no commentary rises above Objectivish squabbles on the front porch.

 

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