debacle

Neither Insignificant Nor Unexpected

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Special Counsel Robert Mueller (AP Photo)

The lede from Associated Press is not insignificant, but it is also expected:

Investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller have interviewed one of President Donald Trump’s closest friends and confidants, California real estate investor Tom Barrack, The Associated Press has learned.

Barrack was interviewed as part of the federal investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations . . . .

. . . .One of the people who spoke to AP said the questioning focused entirely on two officials from Trump’s campaign who have been indicted by Mueller: Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s longtime deputy, Rick Gates. Gates agreed to plead guilty to federal conspiracy and false-statement charges in February and began cooperating with investigators.

This person said Barrack was interviewed “months ago” and was asked a few questions about Gates’ work on Trump’s inaugural committee, which Barrack chaired, and but there were no questions about the money raised by that committee.

A second person with knowledge of the Barrack interview said the questioning was broader and did include financial matters about the campaign, the transition and Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

If the question is what Barrack’s interview means in the larger scheme, the fact of the interview itself is expected in part because of his proximity to candidate- and then President Trump, but also for his connection to convicted felon Rick Gates, which includes helping him gain access to the White House. And if the unsurprising news is not insignificant, we need only stick the proverbial pin and stay tuned.

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One of Those Moments Spent Wondering What the Hell Is Wrong With President Trump

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Donald Trump attends the Miss Universe 2013 competition at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia, 9 November 2013. (Photo: Alexander Aleshkin/Epsilon/Getty Images)This is the sort of question that might well remain beyond any definitive answer:

President Donald Trump twice gave James Comey an alibi for why a salacious report about the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow couldn’t be true: He never even spent the night in Russia during that trip, Trump told the former FBI director, according to Comey’s memos about the conversations.

Yet the broad timeline of Trump’s stay, stretching from Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, through the following Sunday morning, has been widely reported. And it’s substantiated by social media posts that show he slept in Moscow the night before the Miss Universe contest.

Now, flight records obtained by Bloomberg provide fresh details. Combined with existing accounts and Trump’s own social-media posts, they capture two days that, nearly five years later, loom large in the controversy engulfing the White House and at the heart of the Comey memos, which the Justice Department turned over last week to Congress.

(Silver)

In all of history, given every stupid gaffe and inadequate excuse we might ever hear from politicians, what part of this was worth lying about, and by what measure would anyone expect to get away with it? The social media aspect is itself ridiculously damning. That is to say, it is perhaps possible to imagine a circumstance whereby someone like Donald Trump might not even bother to think about whether or not flight records can be ultimately hidden, but, you know, posing for promotional pictures and then saying one was not actually there is one of the tougher sells. True, Trump voters will generally be okay with it because whatever Trump says is #WhatTheyVotedFor, but for the rest of society, regardless of any other mystery about the #TrumpRussia debacle, this one just shines.

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Image note: Donald Trump attends the Miss Universe 2013 competition at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia, 9 November 2013. (Photo: Alexander Aleshkin/Epsilon/Getty Images)

Silver, Vernon. “Flight Records Illuminate Mystery of Trump’s Moscow Nights”. Bloomberg. 23 April 2018.

Incompetence (Paging Mr. Trump)

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Carter Page in Moscow, Russia, 12 July 2016.  (Photo: Reuters)

There are days when the primary argument against the idea we really are witnessing this debacle is, really, it just seems impossible that anyone could possibly be so bad at this. It seems even more impossible that the Trump administration should be inflicting so many wounds against itself. To wit, the lede from Reuters seems, by comparison, nearly harmless:

President Donald Trump sought to insert himself into congressional investigations on Russia on Wednesday, urging lawmakers to hear from one of his former advisers, Carter Page, to counter testimony by directors of the FBI and CIA.

Well, okay, we are discussing Carter Page, which is never quite as harmless as it ought to seem.

For instance, the lede and some detail from Roll Call:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused Democrats of resisting testimony from Carter Page, his former campaign adviser, because he “blows away” allegations they have made.

In two tweets, the president went on to say that this alleged change of heart by Democratic members comes because they have concluded Page “blows away their … case against him.”

Trump, referring to the FBI director he fired and the Obama administration’s last CIA director, wrote that his former adviser “wants to clear his name by showing “the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan…”

A’ight, so, are we ready for the tricky part? Is there always a tricky part? Never mind.

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Trolley Ted

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump talks with press aboard his campaign plane, 5 September 2016, while flying over Ohio, as vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana looks on. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

Let’s just go with Russell Berman of The Atlantic, framing his “Five Reasons Why Ted Cruz’s Endorsement of Donald Trump Is Stunning”:

Ted Cruz set aside his many differences with Donald Trump on Friday to endorse for president a man whom he once called a “serial philanderer,” a “pathological liar,” “utterly amoral,” and a “sniveling coward”; who insulted his wife’s looks; who insinuated Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy; who said he wouldn’t even accept his endorsement; and who for months mocked him mercilessly with a schoolyard taunt, “Lyin’ Ted.”

There is a bullet point narrative, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews over at Vox. “Ted Cruz unhinges his jaw and swallows his pride”, reads the headline, and, certes, one might contest that he swallowed anything, sneer cruzlike at any intersection of the Texas junior’s name and the concept of pride, or point out how the unhinging is a practiced move and, you know, (ahem!) insert obviousα joke here.

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The Donald Trump Debacle (Economy Beatdown Mix)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump departs from a campaign event at Trump Doral golf course in Miami, Florida, 27 July 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

“But for those who still believe the candidates’ approach to the nation’s economy should matter, Trump’s comments were more than a little alarming. At least yesterday―who knows what his beliefs might be today―the Republican presidential candidate accused the Fed without proof of being politically manipulated by the White House, while simultaneously endorsing higher interest rates, which would slow the economy, despite having said the exact opposite four months ago.”

Steve Benen

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About as Bad an Idea as You Might Think

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks during his first campaign rally in Michigan at Eastern Michigan University 15 February 2016 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

So …

Less than a week before its official launch on Wednesday, Bernie Sanders’ new political group is working its way through an internal war that led to the departure of digital director Kenneth Pennington and at least four others from a team of 15, and the return of presidential campaign manager Jeff Weaver as the group’s new president.

(Dovere and Debenedetti)

… the thing is that I ought to have been thrilled by Bernie Sanders’ candidacy. He announced the day before my forty-second birthday; what a gift, right? Until the Bern scorched the landscape, most people thought of me as something of a leftist. It’s a little hard to tell anyone what to think of that notion at present, but I am and remain a cynical revolutionary, and thus the decision to wait, to see what Bernie brought before jumping on the bandwagon, feels more than simply justified.

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The Lindsey Graham Show (Sad Polly)

Detail of frame from The Rachel Maddow Show, msnbc, 9 September 2015.

It is almost enough to feel sorry for Lindsey Graham:

PPP’s newest South Carolina poll finds a clear message for Lindsey Graham from Republican voters in the state: drop out. 78% of GOP primary voters think Graham should end his Presidential bid, compared to only 15% who think he should continue on with it.

(Jensen)

Ouch.

The South Carolina Republican won’t even make the main stage for the CNN debate in his home state.

Which is, in turn, it’s own bizarre debacle.

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Image note: Detail of frame from The Rachel Maddow Show, msnbc, 9 September 2015, depicting results of a Public Policy Polling survey of South Carolina Republican voters, showing they would prefer their U.S. Senator, Lindsey Graham, drop out of the 2016 GOP presidential race.

Jensen, Tom. “SC Republcans to Graham: Drop Out”. Public Policy Polling. 9 September 2015.

Maddow, Rachel. “Let’s play gutterball! A dive to the bottom of 2016’s primary polling”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 9 September 2015.

—————. “Rick Perry drops out, leaving only 16 Republican presidential candidates”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 11 September 2015.