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Trump Fears Investigation: Stirs Up Impeachment Efforts
James Comey investigates Trump's relation to Russian interference in the election. So Trump fires him. Mike Flynn may be a Russian stooge. Trump may owe Putin millions. Impeachment is probably coming

By Ed Knudson

Editor's Note: This page is tracking the impeachment of Donald Trump. The most recent entries on this page are at the top. Scroll down to see previous days. The image below referring to Trump's first 100 days is by George Hall.

Friday, 8/11/2017 - Nuclear Rhetoric from Trump on North Korea

This morning Trump Tweets: "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!" It is warnings like this that provoke escalation of conflict. No other president has threatened others in such a way because it could lead to miscalculations and misunderstandings that could lead to catastrophe for South Korea, Japan, and the whole area. Perhaps Trump knows that his comments will focus the media on something other than the Russian investigation.

Brian Beutler at The New Republic writes about Trump's "madman" talk about bombing North Korea and his attack on people in his own party. Congress recently passed a law limited Trump's authority to pull back on Russian sanctions. Beutler says:
A willing Congress could remove Trump, and swiftly if majorities were so determined. That there is no such willingness or determination, least of all from members of Trump’s own party, may prove to be a greater generational crime than any his narcissistic cohort has inflicted thus far. Republican leaders have proven they can’t be trusted to take anything other than narrow self-interest seriously. Our best hope is that they can now see that Trump no longer serves those interests either.

Just this week, Trump turned on one of them. For several days now, he and his state-media allies have engaged in a coordinated assault on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom they blame for the failure of Obamacare. McConnell, to be clear, couldn’t be worthier of this reckoning. The basic deception at the heart of the Obamacare repeal campaign was his creation, as, in meaningful ways, is Trump’s presidency itself. That the madman McConnell brought to power is now wise to, and unhappy with, McConnell’s cynicism is a Shakespearean subplot in our otherwise quotidian flirtation with Armageddon.


Thursday, 8/10/2017 - The Chicken Trump; Manafort House Invaded by FBI

A chicken balloon was seen near the White House yesterday explained in this way: “The 30 ft (9m) tall bird, referred to as ‘Chicken Don’, stands between the official residence of the US president and the famous Washington Monument. Owner Taran Singh Brar said the prop portrays a president who is ‘afraid’… In a video posted on social media on Wednesday, activist and documentary maker Mr Brar said he hoped to ‘bring awareness’ to what he said was a ‘bad and destabilising’ US president. ‘We are out here to criticise our president for being weak and ineffective as a leader,’ he said in the footage posted on Twitter, adding that Mr Trump also “seems afraid” to release his tax returns.’He seems afraid to stand up to Putin and now he’s playing a game of chicken with North Korea,’ Mr Brar said.”

Also yesterday, a very big turn was taken in the Mueller investigation. As reported in Washington Post. the FBI conducted an early morning raid on the home of Paul Manafort, the once campaign manager for Trump. This means that a federal judge had given a search warrant which could only have been done if that judge was convinced from evidence provided by the FBI that a crime has been committed and specific material related to that crime might well be in the Manafort home.

It is also important that Trump made a threat against North Korea saying that "fire and fury" will fall upon that nation if it continues to make its own threats. That puts Trump on the same level as the crackpot leader of North Korea. This is important because it has seriously concerned the foreign policy community in this country, military leaders are beginning to be faced with the question of whether they will follow the orders of Trump if he tells them to do something stupid or immoral. Impeachment is a political act more than a strictly legal action. Trump is building up substantial reasons why he is not fit to be the president of the country.

Tuesday, 8/1/2017 - Trump Dictates Son's Statement which Lies about Russian Meeting

The Washington Post revealed yesterday that on the way back from Europe in the airplane Donald Trump and his advisors were discussing how to respond to the then new news about his son, Don, Jr., June meeting last year with Russian officials who we now know from emails promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. The older Trump did not want to tell the truth about the meeting and dictated that the content of the meeting had to do with adoption of Russian children. We have learned since that when the Russians talk about adoption of children they are really talking about trying to remove the sanctions imposed on them by the United States for their actions in Ukraine and hacking the American election. But the fact that the president was actively involved in blocking the truth from coming out puts him in legal liability and is a worry for his attorneys.

By the way, the fact of this meeting, Don, Jr. meeting with the Russians for the express purpose of receiving information that may have been gained from the illegal hacking of the Democratic National Committee offices, has to be viewed as a kind of "smoking gun" event which demonstrates a "conspiracy" was taking place between the Russians and the Trump campaign to elect him rather than Clinton. After all this has come out Trump and his people have been trying to say that "anyone would have taken that meeting" as if this is "just politics".

Trump knows he stole this election. He knows he is an illegitimate president. That's why he is so afraid of this investigation, or, at least, one reason. He doesn't seem to be so worried about his son, however. He helped him to lie putting him in danger of being convicted of breaking the law.

Tuesday, 7/25/2017 - House Challenges Trump

The House today did something that indicates it is able to go against Trump. That has been a question because if an impeachment is going to occur it has to begin in the House. There have been few indications of any such readiness. But some have said that if Trump fires the special counsel it would raise serious questions for many in the House.

The Washington Post reports: "House passes bill that would enact new Russia sanctions and limit Trump's ability to waive them, setting up veto dilemma."

It then says: "Included in the package are new measures targeting key Russian officials in retaliation for that country’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as sanctions against Iran and North Korea in response to those nations’ weapons programs. Members of the Trump administration have resisted the bill — in particular a provision attached to the Russia and Iran measures that would require Congress to sign off on any move to relieve those sanctions. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it has bipartisan support. The White House has not said whether the president will veto the bill if it clears Congress in its current form."

Monday, 7/24/17 - Attorney General Sessions on the Hot Seat

In an interview last week with the New York Times, which Trump otherwise calls fake news, he says that would not have appointed Jeff Sessions if he knew he would be recusing himself. Sessions, apparently with little self regard, says he will remain in office. Then it was announced that he, Sessions, had indeed met with the Russian ambassador and discussed the campaign. The timing and nature of this raised my eyebrows; maybe Putin had this ready to be announced so that Trump would have a good excuse to can Sessions so that Trump can appoint a new attorney general who would not be recused, so he could more easily fire the special counsel, Mueller. If that happens I urge everyone I know to hit the streets, call everyone else you know, and fill the streets of cities and towns across the country, stop traffic, and do whatever is necessary to stop this president and prepare the way for him to resign or be impeached. What I would really like is a new election. This is an illegitimate president for many reasons. We need to find new legal means to deal with emergencies like this. This country will never, ever, be great with Donald Trump.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - It's Now Clear: Trump, Jr. Conspired with Russian Lawyer

Ryan Lizza in the says revelations about Trump, Jr. mark a major shift in the developing story. Here is part of what Lizza writes:
The release of e-mails between Donald Trump, Jr., and a British entertainment publicist describing their effort to receive anti-Hillary Clinton information from people identified as members of the Russian government has fundamentally changed the Russia story. It has also demolished the credibility of Trump, Jr.

The velocity of that change was captured in a pair of e-mails that I received from a former Trump-campaign official. This morning, I asked him about revelations in the Times about the meeting between Natalia Veselnitskaya and senior Trump-campaign officials—Trump, Jr., as well as Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner—and the source practically yawned. “It is still nothing,” he responded, echoing the common refrain from most Trump defenders since Saturday, when details of the meeting first emerged.

After the e-mails were posted, he amended his reaction. “It’s moving too fast for me to appear intelligent in analysis,” he wrote back. “I know DJT2 is a good guy and wouldn’t break the law.”The New Yorker

In less than ninety minutes, the sentiment from people sympathetic to the President’s son had shifted from “nothingburger” to “I hope he doesn’t go to jail.”

The e-mails are highly incriminating. According to the correspondence, a Russian government official had contacted a former associate of Donald Trump, who had previously had business dealings in Russia, and offered anti-Clinton information. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” Rob Goldstone, an associate of a Russian pop musician, Emin Agalarov, who was close to the Trump family, wrote. (Donald Trump once appeared in one of Agalarov’s music videos, and various reports on Tuesday noted that Emin and Trump, Jr., have texted as recently as January.)

I asked Steve Schmidt, who helped run John McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign, what he would have done if he had received a similar e-mail. “Would have either ignored it or called the F.B.I.,” Schmidt told me. I also asked Charlie Black, who has been involved at the highest levels with numerous Republican campaigns, and who is also a former business partner of Manafort, if most campaign professionals would have called the F.B.I. “Yes,” he said, “but you should not cast Donnie as a campaign professional. He is not.”

Yet the e-mails show that Trump, Jr., eagerly took the meeting with Veselnitskaya that Goldstone was offering, and made it clear that Kushner and Manafort, then the two most important people in the Trump campaign, would be attending. Earlier this week, Trump, Jr., claimed that he didn’t even know who the woman was. But Goldstone described her in his e-mail to Trump, Jr., as a “Russian government attorney.” The e-mails even note that the woman’s identity would indeed be passed on to Trump, Jr., so that she could make it through security at Trump Tower, which at the time was protected by the Secret Service.

Did Donald Trump himself know about the meeting? He has been silent so far on the details of these latest developments, except to offer a pro-forma statement of support: “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.” In the e-mails released Tuesday, there is a tantalizing detail. Goldstone notes, “I can also send this info to your father via Rhona”—Trump’s longtime assistant Rhona Graff—“but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.”

The revelation about Trump, Jr.,’s eagerness to collude with the Russians—“if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” he wrote to Goldstone—is all the more shocking considering the outrage that he has expressed over such accusations.
Not only did this meeting take place. Trump, Jr. completely lied about it. Read the whole story.

Monday, July 10, 2017 - Donald Trump Jr.’s defense is that there’s nothing wrong with colluding with the Russians.

From The New Republic:

On Saturday and Sunday, The New York Times published two stories that are the most damning evidence we have so far of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. First, the Times reported the existence of a meeting in June 2016 between Donald Trump Jr., aka Trump’s least favorite son, and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with connections to the Kremlin. Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Jared Kushner were also in attendance. Back in March, Trump Jr. had explicitly said that he didn’t have any meetings with Russians while “representing the campaign,” stating, “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did. But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape, or form.” But the meeting described by the Times on Saturday certainly looks like it was set up.

In response, Don Jr. claimed that the meeting was primarily about Russia’s adoption policies. But then on Sunday, the Times followed up with another scoop: according to five unnamed sources, Veselnitskaya had promised DJT Jr. some sweet, sweet kompromat on Hillary Clinton, giving the incident a very collusion-y twist. (There is no proof that Veselnitskaya actually provided any damaging information.) This forced Don Jon Jr. to change his story yet again. He conceded that he wanted the dirt on Clinton but that no dirt was to be had. As he told the Times, “After pleasantries were exchanged the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.” The conversation then allegedly turned to Vladimir Putin banning the adoption of Russian children by American foster parents. So to recap: At first, Jonny Jr. claimed that he never set up a meeting with Russians to talk about sabatoging Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Then, when the Times found out he did set up the meeting, he claimed it was just about adoption. Then, when the Times found out that it was in fact about the campaign, he claimed that it was about adoption AND the campaign (but mostly about adoption). Then after a night of backlash, Don Don dismissively tweeted, “What, as if you wouldn’t have met with her to talk about the campaign??”


Thursday, July 6, 2017 - Trump Goes to Poland, Summary of Investigation So Far

Trump arrived in Poland yesterday and gave a speech today that stressed civilizational conflict. Poland is run now by a right wing nationalist group, and that's the country Trump chooses to go to rather than a more democratic country in Europe. Great Britain may not let him in.

In the London Review of Books there is a long critical article by David Bromwich about those pushing for Trump's impeachment. It has a pretty good summary of where the investigation is right now as reported in the press.
The clearest statements on Russian interference, from an authority known for telling the truth (and having some relevant truths to tell), were heard in James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on 8 June. ‘It was an active measures campaign,’ he said, ‘driven from the top of that government.’ The eruption was startling and unmistakable: ‘It is not a close call. That happened. That is about as unfake as you can possibly get.’ Nor did he feign a seemly doubt about why he was sacked: ‘I was fired because of the Russia investigation,’ and ‘the endeavour was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.’ Comey’s repeated assurance to Trump that he was not ‘personally’ under investigation – something he confirmed at the hearing – depended on a legalism that could mar an otherwise convincing indictment. He mentioned that one of the seven or eight FBI leaders he spoke with had objected to the usage, because while technically true, it gave a false impression. In this respect the Jesuitical emphasis – Trump was not personally under investigation – resembled the assurance given in the public media by intelligence leaders (and by Comey in particular while he was still FBI director) to the effect that it was flatly false that Obama had ever ordered a wiretap of Trump. Again, the point was technically true. But the apparent honesty of the assurance took advantage of a careless anachronism in Trump’s language: wiretaps ordered on individuals belong to the espionage of fifty years ago. Obama, of course, didn’t order a wiretap of Trump by name, but the Trump campaign, including Trump Tower facilities, was under NSA surveillance; that would have included Trump, and it would have included phones: Obama could know this by deduction even if he wasn’t directly informed. Since the intelligence services are part of the executive branch, he could have been shown, or have asked to see, the evidence on Trump at any time. A similar pretence is kept up across a surprisingly wide range of mainstream reports – ‘surprisingly’ if you consider the recentness of the Snowden revelations. The CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer thought it only decent to show some bewilderment when Senator Rand Paul said, in an interview in mid-June, that Trump may well have been spied on and that he thought himself under surveillance too. We know, if we can bear to think it, that everyone is surveyed: that was the meaning of the Prism and XKeyscore programmes. Obama never renounced them, nor has Trump. They are there for use or abuse on the part of the executive branch.

Two circumstances favour the conclusion the squadrons of Trump’s accusers are driving at: namely, that he knows particular things about the connections between himself, his campaign and Russian interests which he wants to hide because they place him in legal and political jeopardy. The first is his firing of three people in the justice system who were known to have had a long immersion in Trump-related data: Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, who had once been assured by Trump that he could keep his job; the acting US attorney general, Sally Yates; and Comey. The second is the schedule of the last two terminations. On 29 December, Trump’s nominee as National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, spoke on the phone with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, about the possibility of sanctions relief for Russia. On 26 January, Yates informed the White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn was in legal jeopardy and had made statements ‘we knew not to be the truth’. (Among other things he had lied to the vice president about never having consulted with Russians.) McGahn summoned Yates back on 27 January and wondered why it mattered to ‘DOJ if one White House official lies to another’. ‘It wouldn’t really be fair of us,’ Yates replied, ‘to tell you this and then expect you to sit on your hands.’ McGahn then asked to see the evidence; Yates said she would see about getting permission. It was on the same day, 27 January, that, quite suddenly, Trump called up Comey and invited him to have dinner at the White House: the dinner at which he would ask the FBI director if he could count on his loyalty, and would receive a tactical reply, stressing honesty rather than loyalty. On 30 January, Yates called McGahn back to tell him he could ‘come over and review the underlying evidence’. In her testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee – a presentation extraordinary for its clarity and probity – she added that she never knew if he came, because that was her last day in office; she was fired by Trump on 30 January, the ostensible reason being her refusal to enforce his anti-Muslim immigration order. It has been reported that 9 February was the day Vice President Pence first heard that Flynn had lied about speaking with Kislyak. On 13 February, Flynn resigned, and the day after Trump asked his attorney general, his adviser Jared Kushner, and others to leave the room so that he could talk to Comey alone. ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,’ Trump said. ‘He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’ An odd, almost extracurricular point that draws attention only when you think about it, was Trump’s telling Comey that he didn’t mind if some of his satellites were casualties in the Russia investigation. Trump, in short, was willing for his associates to be exposed and punished, if it would get the Russia business off his back. During Comey’s testimony this was taken by Senator James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, as a likely expression of Trump’s belief in his own innocence, and his law-abiding readiness to expose the guilty – an interpretation Comey went along with. But the unexpected emphasis – it’s OK for you to arrest my satellites – could as well have been a signal: ‘I don’t mind your taking anyone else as a scapegoat, so long as you leave me in the clear.’

There is much more than nothing here. And the legal-investigative team put together by Robert Mueller, the former FBI director and now special counsel appointed to investigate Russian interference, includes lawyers with formidable competence in the scrutiny of money laundering and ‘financial forensics’ generally. A certain doubt persists, largely because despite the long series of tantalising hints, so far little has come of all the fuss. The lack of evidence on Trump himself is puzzling after the strenuous emphasis of Obama’s CIA director, John Brennan; this looks like another sign that impeachment is not something to count on. ‘Foreign emoluments’ is the most plausible charge, but the phrase has a distant sound and one of the words will need explaining. And yet, the idea of a left-liberal-engineered overthrow of Trump, assisted by the intelligence community and lawyers of great genius, has a tremendous, unquenchable charm for the media. Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC news host, leans forward and upward five nights a week in near euphoria at the prospect of the next unwilling witness, the next Trump associate, the next recovered document or ‘new development’ that will bring us one step closer to putting this president in handcuffs and shackles.


Saturday, June 24, 2015 - Putin Elected Trump, Not Americans

I just read the long article in the Washington Post by Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous. It's a bombshell. It is based on sources close to Putin. It goes into more detail about what the Russians did. But most of the article has to do with Obama and the response of his administration.

Thursday, June 15, 2015 - Trump is now formally under investigation

During the campaign Trump spoke again and again how Hillary Clinton is under investigation and won't be able to govern. His crowds began chanting "lock her up". Even General Flynn speaking at the Republican convention led the chant; he, of course, had to be fired for talking to the Russians and lying about it. And now it is official. The new special counsel has opened an investigation on Trump for obstruction of justice, one of the primary crimes that led to the resignation of Nixon to avoid impeachment. This is the Washington Post story which was being talked about on the news last night: "The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said. Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing."

Notice here: Trump is doing it to himself. He is his own worst enemy.

Wenesday, June 14, 2017 - Jeff Sessions Refuses to Answer Questions; Republican Leaders Shot by Angry Illinois Man

News just broke that "House Majority Whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition; four others injured. A gunman, who was identified by law enforcement as James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill., unleashed a barrage of gunfire at a park in Alexandria, Va., as Republican members of Congress held a morning baseball practice." (Washington Post). It is so sad to say, but maybe Republicans will think twice before they oppose gun control again now that they realize they can be shot. And maybe they will realize that a president that shouts and screams angrily against others is generating a climate in which violence is the appropriate response. Hate generates hate. We here is Portland, Oregon, just had a white nationalist slit the throats of three men trying to keep him from intimidating two young women, one a Muslim and the other a black person. Two of them died. Even if you claim that the attacker, Jeremy Christian, was mentally ill, the fact is, mentally unbalanced people act out what they see out there in the public world. When they see an angry, violent president they think that kind of behavior is all right.

We need a new election, not Trump, not Pence, this was not a free and fair election. Trump remains an illegitimate president and he knows it. That's why he is so opposed to any real investigation.

I didn't watch the entire hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday but saw several summaries and it appears that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would not answer any significant questions. A Lutheran senator from New Mexico, Martin Heinrich, accused Sessions of impeding the process of getting to the truth by not answering questions, and with no good excuse. Sessions said over and over and over that he doesn't "recall" and that he can't answer because President Trump might not like his answer. He sat there like an anxious little boy knowing his angry father might be watching. I have watched Sessions on C-Span over the years and would say he is the most incompetent senator I can think of, and clearly a Southern racist. We know that especially because of his extremely earnest objections when he is so accused. So what was the purpose of the Sessions hearing? Mere distraction again. Nobody will answer the real questions. What did Sessions talk about with the Russians? What does he know of the president's motives? We did learn that Sessions has received absolutely no briefings on the Russian effort to hack our elections. He is the chief legal officer of the country, and he does not know anything about the most serious effort to attack this country in generations? This is incredible.

Here is what Brian Beutler at the The New Republic had to say on Sessions and the health care debate going on in the Senate:
The odor of corruption and criminality engulfing the Trump administration has forced Democrats in Congress to oppose the president on two fronts—one in the realm of legislation, and another in the realm of oversight. Complicating matters further is the fact that the nature of the two fights are thematic opposites. The investigations of the Trump Organization and Russian meddling in the 2016 election are overwrought with dramatic tension. Explosive new details spill out on a near-daily basis, as one witness after another—former FBI Director James Comey last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week—testifies before the Senate. Legislation and oversight are equally important congressional prerogatives, each of enormous public interest, but only the latter is producing big news at the moment.

That is in large part due to the extraordinary, scandalous steps Republicans are taking to advance legislation that would take health insurance away from millions. Senate Republicans have all but completed a secret bill, the precise contents of which are only known to the 13 men who drafted it, the analysts at the Congressional Budget Office (who are duty-bound not to leak), and, in all likelihood, health industry lobbyists, whose influence in this instance is as opaque as the legislation itself. The process is secretive precisely to limit the number of bombshell stories that can be told about it—to keep the media in the dark so that public pressure is held at bay until the bill becomes law, and it’s too late.
Thursday, June 8, 2017 - Comey Says Trump Lied, Tries to Stop Investigation

The New York Times reports on today's widely-viewed testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. One observation: Republicans seem to be accepting Comey's version of events. They argue over interpretation of this or that aspect, but not the basic facts. And the fact is that Trump tried to close down the Russia investigation into election fraud and fired Comey when he wouldn't do so.
WASHINGTON — James B. Comey, the recently fired F.B.I. director, said Thursday in an extraordinary Senate hearing that he believed that President Trump had clearly tried to derail an F.B.I. investigation into his former national security adviser and that the president had lied and defamed him.

Mr. Comey, no longer constrained by the formalities of a government job, offered a blunt, plain-spoken assessment of a president whose conversations unnerved him from the day they met, weeks before Mr. Trump took office. His testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee provided an unflattering back story to his abrupt dismissal and squarely raised the question of whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice.

Answering that falls to the Justice Department special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Comey revealed that he gave all of the memos he wrote on his interactions with the president to Mr. Mueller’s investigators, the first suggestion that prosecutors would investigate Mr. Comey’s firing last month.


Also, a heroic leaker has been arrested, Reality Winner, 25 years old, who worked for an NSA contractor. The report she leaked shows the Russians were involved in trying to hack election officials in several states. Here is an analysis at the Intercept.

Monday, June 5, 2017 - Broad Rejection of Trump's Climate Change Actions

Trump withdrew from the Paris climage change accord and drew strong reaction from the Papacy as well the public. Here are the results of a poll in the Washington Post:
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans oppose President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The survey also finds broad skepticism toward Trump's argument that leaving the Paris agreement will help the U.S. economy. Opposition to Trump's decision outpaces support by a 2-to-1 margin, with 59 percent opposing the move and 28 percent in support.


Friday, May 27, 2017 - Jared Kushner in Trouble

This week Trump has been on his first trip out of the country, first stop: Saudi Arabia, then Israel, then the Pope, Nato, and the G7. But the big news is about the president's son-in-law, Jaren Kushner, who by the way has been a slum landlord in New York City. From The Guardian.
Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington allegedly discussed setting up a secret communications channel to cloak contacts between Moscow and Donald Trump’s White House transition team, it was reported on Friday. Ambassador Sergei Kislyak told his superiors in Moscow that he and Kushner discussed ways to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, the Washington Post said, citing US officials briefed on intelligence reports.

Trump’s son-in-law made the proposal at a meeting in early December at Trump Tower in New York, weeks before Trump was sworn in, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by the US officials, the paper said. Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, also allegedly attended the meeting.

The report will likely put Kushner, who is now a senior White House adviser, under heightened scrutiny in the investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Earlier this week it was reported that the FBI was investigating his contacts with Russian officials. In a separate development, the Washington Post also reported that the Senate intelligence committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, has asked Trump’s political organization to produce all documents, emails and phone records dating from his campaign’s launch in June 2015.

It would be the first time the Senate’s bipartisan investigation has made such a request to Trump’s official campaign organization.

The White House made no immediate response to requests for comment on either report. Trump is concluding his first foreign trip as president this week. He has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia.

Two other outlets published related scoops on Friday. The first from the New York Times said that Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch once close to Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, offered to cooperate with congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in return for immunity. Lawmakers rejected his conditions, the Times reported.

And Reuters, citing seven current and former US officials, reported that Kushner had at least three contacts with Kislyak during and after the presidential campaign that were previously undisclosed. Those contacts allegedly included two phone calls between April and November 2016. In response to the Reuters report, Kushner’s attorney, Jamie Gorelick, said Kushner did not remember any calls with Kislyak between April and November. “Mr Kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period. He has no recollection of the calls as described. We have asked [Reuters] for the dates of such alleged calls so we may look into it and respond, but we have not received such information.”

The cascade of news showed that the multiple Russia inquiries are advancing and that leaks continue to spout from the government, giving administration officials no respite even as they trot the globe.

The White House disclosed Kushner’s meeting with Kislyak in March, four months after it happened, and played down its importance. But the Washington Post reported that the FBI now considers the encounter, plus another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest. Kushner, who is married to the president’s daughter, Ivanka, has said he will cooperate with any investigation. Current and former US intelligence officials were astonished that he would have requested a secret back channel, calling it “naive” or “crazy” given the FBI’s close tabs on Russian officials in the US, the Post reported.
Friday, May 19, 2017 - Summary of week from Washington Post
  • A senior White House official close to President Trump is under investigation by the FBI in relation to Russia meddling in the U.S. presidential election and whether Trump associates helped.
  • Trump told Russian officials that firing former FBI director James Comey relieved "great pressure" on him.
  • Notes surfaced from Comey saying Trump asked him to lay off a probe.
  • The Justice Department has appointed a special counsel with wide latitude to investigate all of this.
May 17, 2017 - Serious Violations: Trump incapable of rational thought

Republican donors are said to becoming very nervous over Trump's obvious failings as president. Today the stock market took a big nosedive: "Dow closes down 370 points as political drama jolts Wall Street" was the headline at CNN.

David Brooks, a highly respected conservative commentator, has a column today in the NY Times where he says Trump is a child, incapable of rational thought, and views everything and speaks in terms of whether he is acceptable, whether he is being loved, etc. In other words, it is not a matter of Trump's policy proposals or his ideology, the man is fundamentally incapable of carrying out the office of the presidency. He literally does not know the effect his actions will have on others. That's why he is making one mistake after another.

For example, Trump tweeted yesterday: "James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" What he did here is raise the comparison of his situation to that of Watergate and the key role of tapes. This has generated huge discussion of whether Trump did tape his dinner conversation with Comey. After that dinner, where Trump asked Comey for his personal loyalty, Comey wrote a "memo to file" which will be considered better evidence than Trump's claims, unless there are tapes. Trumps tweets may prove his downfall, and this one in particular. Trump likes to dominate the news, he wants everyone talking about him, meanwhile he does nothing to carry out a substantive program for the country. And he says things which people cannot take seriously. Trump therefore is demeaning the office of the presidency.

The New York Times and Washington Post are now competing for who can come up with the most shocking latest revelations of how Trump has violated presidential norms if not laws. Here is a summary of what Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is thinking:
I've had enough with Donald Trump's abuses of power. So far, during Trump’s short tenure as president, he has fired three major people who were investigating officials inside the Trump administration. He has admitted that he fired FBI Director James Comey to try to thwart the investigation into Russia's efforts to manipulate the election, possibly in coordination with Trump's campaign. And now, there are credible reports that Trump tried to get the FBI director to drop the investigation into Mike Flynn. Just as President Richard Nixon tried to stop the investigation into the Watergate scandal, Trump’s clearly been going to great lengths to hide the truth. The question is why? What exactly is this administration so desperate to cover up?
The group "Indivisible" which has followers in congressional districts across the country has written this:
We are not being alarmist—the facts are just that serious. Yesterday, it was revealed that Donald Trump personally asked FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into ties between Michael Flynn and Russia. This is obstruction of justice, clear and simple. We have a system of government, with important checks and balances, that is designed to fend off tyranny and abuses of power. But this will only happen if Congress acts. They’re not acting. And to be clear, neither party is doing what they should. Republicans in the House and Senate need to find some courage, and buck partisan politics in the interest of the country. Democratic Senators need to treat this like the urgent matter it is and use their power to withhold consent (see our explainer here), grinding Senate business to halt until Republicans come to their senses. It’s the only leverage Senate Democrats actually have. So responsibility falls to us, constituents, to pressure our elected officials to act quickly in defense of our democracy. This email describes the asks you can make of your elected officials. For more information on the issue, see our resource page on Russia and Trump here.
Breaking News: Late today it was announced that the Justice Department has appointed a special prosecutor. This is from Vox:
Finally, we have a special counsel to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia and attempts to interfere with the FBI: former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller (who led the bureau from 2001 to 2013) late Wednesday. This is not a formally independent counsel, like Kenneth Starr was in the Clinton investigations; the statute authorizing independent counsels has expired. This is an ordinary special counsel, like the ones during Watergate or appointed to investigate the Valerie Plame scandal in the Bush administration. [NYT / Rebecca Ruiz] In his order, Rosenstein states, “If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.” [DocumentCloud / Department of Justice] The appointment came as some Republicans started to turn on Trump, following the revelation late Tuesday that the President asked FBI Director James Comey to halt an investigation into former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz sent a letter to the FBI's acting director requesting "all memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings referring or relating to any communications between Comey and the President," saying that the New York Times's report about the Flynn request "raise[d] questions as to whether the President attempted to influence or impede the FBI's investigation as it relates to Lt. Gen. Flynn." [House Oversight Committee]
May 10, 2017 - A Shocking Move

I am beginning this page on May 10, 2017, as a means of tracking what happens after the firing of FBI Director, James Comey, by Donald Trump, yesterday. It appears the White House was shocked at the explosive reaction to this firing among the press, the Democrats, many Republicans, and the public. Trump and his people didn't realize, apparently, that this would be viewed as an effort to stop the FBI investigation into the connections between the Russian effort to influence the 2016 election and the Trump campaign. Indeed, the most important fact I have read so far about this is that Comey had just asked the Justice Department for more resources to conduct this investigation. It has also been reported from within the White House that Trump was extremely angry about the fact that Comey in a congressional hearing refused to say he had any evidence of the Tweet of Trump that Obama had his campaign wire tapped. As Rachel Maddow has been reporting on MSNBC anyone getting close to the Michael Flynn issue has been removed or removed himself. Flynn was fired as National Security Advisor because of his relations with the Russians and how he lied about this. Flynn literally took money from Russian leader Putin but didn't report it. A grand jury has been set up in Eastern Virginia to investigate this further. But it is clear now that Trump is trying to close down anything that comes close to exposing his relations with the Russians, with Putin or with his Russian business interests.

On Fox News: "When asked whether FBI Director Comey's firing will impact the Russia investigation, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answered 'When are they gonna let that go?'" This is just amazing and demonstrates that the White House fears the FBI investigation to the degree that Trump was willing to fire Comey. And this reminds the country that in 1973 Richard Nixon fired the special prosecutor which led later to his impeachment. An FBI agent named "Deep Throat" provided reporters with the information that led to impeachment.

The following is by Andrew Prokop at Vox which introduces the issue on May 10, 2017.
On Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, in a move that is truly shocking for several reasons.

First, the FBI director is a nonpartisan post serving for a 10-year term. Though the president has authority to fire him or her at any time, by norm and custom, presidents have kept their predecessors’ FBI directors in place, helping ensure some insulation for the FBI from politics. The only recent firing of an FBI director, in 1993, was carried out because of his alleged corruption and financial misdeeds. Second, Comey’s dismissal is even more unusual because he confirmed in March that he is overseeing an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign that touches on Trump’s campaign and associates. Trump’s firing of him quite obviously raises questions about whether the president is trying to impede this investigation. Third, the Trump administration’s justification for firing Comey — that he was too critical on Hillary Clinton in the email case — is ludicrous on its face, considering that Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have a history of making the opposite argument.

Fourth, reporting from both the New York Times and Politico suggests that in fact Trump wanted Comey out due to anger over his handling of the Russia case (which the president has called a “hoax” and “fake news”), and merely asked the Justice Department to provide a pretext for the firing.

Fifth, the New York Times’s Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo report that just days before Comey’s firing, he “asked the Justice Department for a significant increase in resources for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election.” All this sure makes it look like the president has fired the FBI director because he was unhappy with an investigation into his inner circle. By doing this, Trump has thrown the independence and future of the top law enforcement institutions of the United States of America into serious question.

Democrats — even those deeply critical of how Comey handled the Clinton email case — have reacted with horror to this news, since Comey was clearly independent of Trump. In response, they are calling for an independent special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate Russia-related matters. The Republican response has been more mixed. Several GOP senators did criticize Trump’s firing of Comey, but others — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — have appeared unmoved. There are two ways a special prosecutor could be appointed — through the Justice Department (which means through Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, since Sessions recused himself), and through Congress. But so far, it’s unclear whether either will happen.

It’s also worth noting that by firing Comey, Trump has opened yet another front in his war with the so-called “deep state.” His administration has been plagued by damaging anonymous leaks from intelligence and law enforcement agencies already. Since Comey’s ouster throws the independence of the FBI and Justice Department into question, Trump has given many more employees potential motivation to leak further.











































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Date Added: 5/10/2017 Date Revised: 8/11/2017 1:37:13 PM

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