AMERICAblog NewsAMERICAblog News http://americablog.com A great nation deserves the truth // One of America's top progressive sites for news and opinion Fri, 26 May 2017 20:39:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 New French president Macron shakes Trump’s hand last at NATO http://americablog.com/2017/05/new-french-president-shakes-trumps-hand-last-nato.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/new-french-president-shakes-trumps-hand-last-nato.html#comments Fri, 26 May 2017 20:37:31 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142654 During Donald Trump’s first meeting with NATO allies at the summit in Brussels this week, Trump finally met new French president Emmanuel Macron.

But he had to wait a bit.

In a video shared on Macron’s Twitter feed, you can see Macron approaching the gaggle of world leaders, apparently making a beeline for Trump. But then at the last second, Macron veers away from Trump and gives a big hug to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

When Macron finally got to Trump, Trump tried his bizarre shake-and-grab handshake he uses to dominate people. Macron was ready for him, and simply yanked back, hard!

As an aside, Trump reportedly told Macron that he always wanted Macron to win, which is a lie. In the weeks before the election, Trump publicly tweeted his support for French far-right extremist Marine Le Pen.

The summit overall was yet another disaster for Trump. While previously in Saudi Arabia, Trump told the Saudis that now was not the time to judge allies. But with NATO — our closest allies — Trump judged, a lot. In addition to chastising our allies for not spending enough on their defense, Trump refused to publicly endorse Article 5 of the NATO charter, in which every member of NATO pledges to come to the aid of other members who are attacked.

During the campaign, Trump had said that if Russia invaded a NATO ally he wouldn’t necessarily come to their defense. Weakening NATO has been a Soviet and Russian goal since NATO’s inception. Trump is the first American president to agree with our enemies.

And, in a nod to Trump, Russia was not on the agenda at the NATO meeting, lest it upset Trump, who doesn’t like criticizing Russians.

Trump even told a German newspaper that he plans to force Americans to stop buying German cars. That should be interesting.

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Hillary compares Trump to Nixon in Wellesley commencent http://americablog.com/2017/05/hillary-compares-trump-nixon-wellesley-commencent.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/hillary-compares-trump-nixon-wellesley-commencent.html#comments Fri, 26 May 2017 16:09:27 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142643 Hillary Clinton is giving the commencement address at her alma mater, Wellesely College, as I write this.

In a portion of her speech reminiscing on her days in college, Hillary talks about how incensed her generation was about the election of a president who ended up being impeached for obstruction of justice after firing the man who was investigating him.

It’s clear that while Hillary is speaking about Nixon, she’s also speaking about Donald Trump.

Trump is gonna go nuts.

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Sheriff Clarke ordered 6 deputies to harass plane passenger and verbal exchange http://americablog.com/2017/05/sheriff-clarke-ordered-6-deputies-harass-plane-passenger-verbal-exchange.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/sheriff-clarke-ordered-6-deputies-harass-plane-passenger-verbal-exchange.html#comments Fri, 26 May 2017 15:46:51 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142633 Newly-released text messages show Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke directing six sheriff deputies to stop and harass an American Airlines passenger for having had a verbal altercation with Clarke on board a flight.

Clarke recently claimed he has been chosen for a senior position at Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security.

In the text, Clarke tells his deputies to conduct “just a field interview, no arrest unless he becomes an @sshole with your guys. Question for him is why he said anything to me. Why didn’t he just keep his mouth shut? Follow him to baggage and out the door. You can escort me to carousel after I point him out.” [I doctored the profane word for our ad filters.]

sheriff clarke

Sheriff Clarke by Gage Skidmore.

What’s particularly astounding is that Clarke ordered his deputies to stop the man simply because “he said anything to me.” Since when is it a crime to “say something” to a sheriff? Especially a high-profile opinionated one like Clarke?

What’s more, responding to the incident this past January, Clarke mocked the man and threatened physical violence against anyone who publicly questioned him. More from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The post included a meme taunting Dan Black, a 24-year-old resident who alleged that he was harassed by Clarke. Black claimed he was confronted, interviewed and then escorted out of Mitchell International Airport by a group of deputies after a brief exchange with Clarke on a flight from Dallas on Sunday.

“Cheer up, Snowflake,” said the meme, which has a photo of Black. “If Sheriff Clarke were to really harass you, you wouldn’t be around to whine about it.”

Earlier this week, Clarke issued a statement saying Black and others like him may be “knocked out” if they hassle him on a plane: “The sheriff said he does not have to wait for some goof to assault him. He reserves the reasonable right to pre-empt a possible assault.”

This is the man who Donald Trump has allegedly chosen to play not simply a senior role at Homeland Security, but a role that in public affairs, working with the public. (Trump has yet to announce Clarke’s appointment, but Clarke says it’s a done deal.)

Last night the GOP elected Greg Gianforte the new congressman from Montana, not 24 hours after Gianforte violently assaulted a reporter. And now a top Trump law enforcement official used law enforcement to settle a personal vendetta against a man who dared to question this public official in public.

Imagine what Clarke will do when he has the power of Homeland Security at his fingertips.

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GOP US House candidate Gianforte still hasn’t apologized 24 hours after assaulting reporter http://americablog.com/2017/05/gop-us-house-candidate-gianforte-still-hasnt-apologized-24-hours-assaulting-reporter.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/gop-us-house-candidate-gianforte-still-hasnt-apologized-24-hours-assaulting-reporter.html#comments Thu, 25 May 2017 22:15:09 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142622 It’s been nearly 24 hours since GOP US House candidate from Montana, Greg Gianforte, brutally assaulted Ben Jacobs, a reporter with the Guardian newspaper, in front of three witnesses while Jacobs was recording audio of the attack.

And in all that time, Gianforte has still not apologize to Jacobs for sending him to the hospital.

This all came about because Jacobs walked into a room where Gianforte was about to be interviewed by the local Fox affiliate. Jacobs asked Gianforte what his position on the GOP House health care bill was, now that the Congressional Budget Office had just released its analysis of the bill. (Gianforte had said he wouldn’t take a position until CBO had spoken.) Gianforte refused to say, adding that they could talk about it later. Jacobs rightfully noted that “later” would be too late (the election was the next day).

According to Jacobs and the three witnesses from Fox News, Gianforte then put his hands around Jacobs’ next to choke him, lifted Jacobs off the ground and slammed him on the ground. But Gianforte wasn’t finished. The Fox team says the congressman-wannabe then jumped on Jacobs and started punching him.

Here’s how the Fox News team described it:

During that conversation, another man — who we now know is Ben Jacobs of The Guardian — walked into the room with a voice recorder, put it up to Gianforte’s face and began asking if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte told him he would get to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon.

Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, “I’m sick and tired of this!”

Jacobs scrambled to his knees and said something about his glasses being broken. He asked Faith, Keith and myself for our names. In shock, we did not answer. Jacobs then said he wanted the police called and went to leave. Gianforte looked at the three of us and repeatedly apologized. At that point, I told him and Scanlon, who was now present, that we needed a moment. The men then left.

What’s particularly disturbing when you listen to the audio of the attack, below, is Gianforte’s tone. He’s emotionally out-of-control. It’s not normal, particularly under this circumstance in which Jacobs was quite mild-mannered in his questioning. There was no reason for Gianforte to freak out.

What’s more, Gianforte assaulted Jacobs in front of three witnesses. Not that you should ever assault anyone (Gianforte has been officially charged with assault by the police), but most people would think twice before strangling someone, body slamming them, and then jumping on them and repeatedly punching their face — in front of witnesses. Even if you lack a psychopath who lacks any self-control whatsoever, you’d think twice before pummeling someone in front of witnesses, let alone witnesses who are themselves reporters — and doing it on the eve of your big election. How messed up do you have to be in order to do this, particularly under these circumstances?

We should know this evening whether Greg Gianforte or his Democratic opponent Rob Quist wins the special election for the local seat. To date, few Republicans have been willing to criticize Gianforte, other than suggesting that he perhaps apologize to the man he sent to the hospital. But there’s a larger issue here: The question of what the Republican party has become in recent years, particularly under the stewardship of Donald Trump, but really something that goes all the way back to the creation of Fox News. The GOP has become the party of divisiveness, pitting Americans against one another, and not really standing for much of anything any more, other than money, and now under Trump, bullying.

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Trump shoves NATO leader to get better spot in photo http://americablog.com/2017/05/trump-shoves-nato-leader-get-better-spot-photo.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/trump-shoves-nato-leader-get-better-spot-photo.html#comments Thu, 25 May 2017 17:09:13 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142610 Donald Trump today shoved a fellow NATO leader in order to position himself better for a group photo.

Sadly, I’m not making this up.

Trump shove nato3

And here’s the video:

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GOP US House candidate, Montanan Greg Gianforte, caught on tape violently assaulting reporter http://americablog.com/2017/05/audio-shows-gop-montana-us-house-candidate-gianforte-lied-assaulting-reporter.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/audio-shows-gop-montana-us-house-candidate-gianforte-lied-assaulting-reporter.html#comments Thu, 25 May 2017 01:11:06 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142592 Update: A crew from Fox News witnessed the entire attack. Their description is gruesome:

During that conversation, another man — who we now know is Ben Jacobs of The Guardian — walked into the room with a voice recorder, put it up to Gianforte’s face and began asking if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte told him he would get to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon.

At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, “I’m sick and tired of this!”

Jacobs scrambled to his knees and said something about his glasses being broken. He asked Faith, Keith and myself for our names. In shock, we did not answer. Jacobs then said he wanted the police called and went to leave. Gianforte looked at the three of us and repeatedly apologized. At that point, I told him and Scanlon, who was now present, that we needed a moment. The men then left.

Republican US House candidate for the special election in Montana this week, Greg Gianforte, attacked a reporter with the Guardian newspaper tonight, body slamming him to the ground, and breaking his glasses, for simply asking the candidate about the CBO analysis of the House GOP health care bill.

The reporter had to subsequently be treated in an ambulance, and reported the assault to the police.

Gianforte subsequently issued a denial of the entire incident, blaming it on the reporter, Ben Jacobs, and claiming that Gianforte asked the reporter to move a microphone out of his face, and Jacobs declined. The Guardian has released audio of the incident that shows Gianforte lied — he never mentioned a microphone, and Jacobs never declined.

If Gianforte gave the same lie when talking to the police, that’s a second crime, along with the assault.

Here is Gianforte’s denial, read it carefully, then listen to the audio.

And here’s the audio from the Guardian, disproving Gianforte’s claims. You’ll note that not only does Gianforte say nothing about the microphone, nor does the reporter say he won’t to remove the microphone (another false claim from Gianforte), but note what happens after the assault. The reporter immediately says “you broke my glasses” and “you body slammed me.” Gianforte doesn’t deny it, but rather goes off on tirade about how sick and tired he is of reporters.

Below the audio is the transcript:

It’s stunning.

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CBO: 23 million lose insurance under House GOP health bill http://americablog.com/2017/05/cbo-23-million-lose-insurance-house-gop-health-bill.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/cbo-23-million-lose-insurance-house-gop-health-bill.html#comments Wed, 24 May 2017 21:14:24 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142581 The Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Republican health care bill passed recently by the US House of Representatives, shows that 23 million people will lose health insurance under the GOP bill over a ten-year period.

Premiums will also go up for people with pre-existing conditions, and even people without pre-existing conditions may pay more for health care because plans will cover less.

There is talk that Donald Trump may try to claim that this is great news, as the original House health care bill took insurance away from 24 million people.

Among other findings in the CBO report:

* Premiums could be slightly lower than under the original GOP bill because this bill offers worse benefits. So you get less and pay slightly less.

* The bill will cut $834 million from Medicaid. It will also lose $210 billion that would have been collected under current law (aka the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare).

Here’s more from CBO:

CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under H.R. 1628 than under current law. The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 23 million in 2026. In 2026, an estimated 51 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law. Under the legislation, a few million of those people would use tax credits to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks.

CBO says that in states that choose to opt-out of the current requirement to include a list of ten essential health benefits in every health plan (e.g., maternity, prescription drugs) and the requirement to treat people with pre-existing conditions the same as other insurees, in terms of the cost for their coverage, prices may go down because sick people will no longer be able to afford insurance, and those who can afford insurance will be getting fewer benefits (violating a key promise Trump made):

Over time, it would become more difficult for less healthy people (including people with preexisting medical conditions) in those states to purchase insurance because their premiums would continue to increase rapidly. As a result of the narrower scope of covered benefits and the difficulty less healthy people would face purchasing insurance, average premiums for people who did purchase insurance would generally be lower than in other states—but the variation around that average would be very large.

Another key paragraph from CBO. Not only will premiums soar for people with pre-existing conditions, but anyone getting sick will have to pay much more out-of-pocket under the GOP plan. First, because many of the current benefits, like maternity care, won’t necessary be covered under the GOP plan.

Second, because Obamacare limits on annual payments (meaning, you only have to pay $2,000 or $6,000 per year for essential health benefits before your plan covers 100% of the rest of the essential benefits for that year) will be lifted in states that opt-out under the GOP bill. A specific example, if a state opts-out of maternity benefits being considered “essential,” then not only do their plans not have to include maternity benefits, but even if they are included, there will no longer be an annual limit on what you pay out-of-pocket for those benefits, because they’re no longer “essential.”

And thirdly, for benefits no longer deemed “essential,” insurers could reimpose annual and lifetime limits on benefits. Meaning, if you spend too much in one year, or your lifetime, on a certain benefit, it’s over, you get no more. Before Obamacare, this would happen to people with bad cancers — their insurance would simply cut them off, and they’d never get insurance again.

Although premiums would decline, on average, in states that chose to narrow the scope of EHBs, some people enrolled in nongroup insurance would experience substantial increases in what they would spend on health care. People living in states modifying the EHBs who used services or benefits no longer included in the EHBs would experience substantial increases in out-of-pocket spending on health care or would choose to forgo the services. Services or benefits likely to be excluded from the EHBs in some states include maternity care, mental health and substance abuse benefits, rehabilitative and habilitative services, and pediatric dental benefits. In particular, out-of-pocket spending on maternity care and mental health and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year for the nongroup enrollees who would use those services. Moreover, the ACA’s ban on annual and lifetime limits on covered benefits would no longer apply to health benefits not defined as essential in a state. As a result, for some benefits that might be removed from a state’s definition of EHBs but that might not be excluded from insurance coverage altogether, some enrollees could see large increases in out-of-pocket spending because annual or lifetime limits would be allowed. That could happen, for example, to some people who use expensive prescription drugs. Out-of-pocket payments for people who have relatively high health care spending would increase most in the states that obtained waivers from the requirements for both the EHBs and community rating.

You can read more details on these various issues in my previous analysis of the bill.

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Trump divulged secret location of US nuclear subs to Philippine president http://americablog.com/2017/05/trump-divulged-secret-location-us-nuclear-subs-philippine-president.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/trump-divulged-secret-location-us-nuclear-subs-philippine-president.html#comments Wed, 24 May 2017 18:34:55 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142571 A recently released transcript of Donald Trump’s April 29 phone call with Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte shows that Trump told Duterte that the US had moved two nuclear submarines to the vicinity of North Korea.

The location of US subs — which are built to be stealthy, that’s the entire nature of their deterrent capability — is generally not discussed publicly. And it’s certainly not with countries that aren’t our closest allies. (While the Philippines has been a longstanding US ally, Duterte is an autocratic murderer who has strained relations with the US in recent years.)

Republican defenders of Trump are trying to claim that the US military already outed the location of one of the subs, so no harm no foul. But that defense holds little water.  First, the US military wrote an article about the one sub docking in Japan three days AFTER Trump outed its secret location. So, Trump had already outed the secret by the time the US military acknowledged it.

Second, the sub was docking in a Japanese port. It’s location would be known anyway once it docked – you could literally see the sub with your own eyes – so it’s not unusual that the Pentagon would announce it.

What is unusual is announcing the sub’s location when it’s still 3 days out from port, operating in international waters on a mission. That’s when you want the sub hidden, and that’s when Trump outed it to the Philippines, and anyone else who was listening.

And third, there’s not been any public reporting on a second sub in the neighborhood, other than from Donald Trump.

Nancy Youssef at Buzzfeed reports that US officials were apoplectic over Trump’s latest security breach. “We never talk about subs,” the officials told Youssef.

Ironically, Trump is now doing in Asia what he accused President Obama of doing in the Middle East: announcing our moves publicly, and thus tipping off our adversaries.

Trump’s earlier loose-lips episode came when he was speaking with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister in the Oval Office the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey. Trump informed the Russians about Top Secret intelligence about ISIS, which was provided to him by the Israelis — intelligence the Israelis made us promise to share with no one, especially adversaries like the Russians. By sharing the Top Secret intel, Trump may have jeopardized the asset in the Middle East who got Israel the information.

It’s thought that Trump was trying to show off for the Russians, just as he was likely doing with Duterte. Yet another indication as to why Trump’s narcissism and insecurity are a dangerous mix for the leader of the free world.

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Trump Commerce Secretary brags about lack of protests in Saudi Arabia, where it’s illegal http://americablog.com/2017/05/trump-commerce-secretary-brags-lack-protests-saudi-arabia-illegal.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/trump-commerce-secretary-brags-lack-protests-saudi-arabia-illegal.html#comments Mon, 22 May 2017 20:44:11 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142548 Donald Trump’s Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, bragged this morning on CNBC about how there wasn’t a single protester throughout their entire trip in Saudi Arabia.

“There was not a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there. Not one guy with a bad placard.”

And there’s a reason for that. It’s a serious crime to protest in Saudi Arabia.

The CNBC host tried to explain to Ross that it’s illegal to protest in Saudi Arabia, but Ross was having none of it. “That may be true, but there was not a single effort at any incursion, there wasn’t anything. The mood was a genuinely good mood.”

Via the Guardian, we learn just how illegal it is to protest in Saudi Arabia. You could go to jail for ten years, simply for holding a political protest:

Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, said “anyone who follows the situation in Saudi Arabia will not be surprised at all” by the lack of protesters.

“Protesting is a serious offence in Saudi Arabia. It’s been de facto criminalised for many, many years, and specifically criminalised since 2011,” Coogle said.

“The stakes for protesting are extremely high. No one wants to sit in jail for ten years because they protested Trump.”

A 2016 US state department report on “human rights practices” in Saudi Arabia specifically notes that the “government categorically forbids participation in political protests or unauthorized public assemblies”.

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Melania angrily slaps Trump’s hand away in Israel http://americablog.com/2017/05/melania-angrily-flicks-trumps-hand-away-israel.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/melania-angrily-flicks-trumps-hand-away-israel.html#comments Mon, 22 May 2017 20:16:36 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142543 Melania Trump angrily slapped away her husband’s hand when getting off Air Force once in Israel today.

In the video below, you can clearly see Trump reach out for Melania’s hand — she flicks it away.

The women I know immediately recognized what was happening. “She’s angry,” I was told. “They clearly had a fight, and he’s trying to pretend everything is okay. And she’s having nothing to do with it.”

The women on ABC’s THE VIEW weighed in as well.

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Notre Dame grads walk out of VP Pence’s commencement speech http://americablog.com/2017/05/notre-dame-grads-walk-vp-pence-commencement-speech.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/notre-dame-grads-walk-vp-pence-commencement-speech.html#comments Sun, 21 May 2017 19:25:57 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142539 A large group of graduates walked out of Vice President Mike Pence’s commencement speech today at Notre Dame University.

Pence’s politics is extreme religious right, which includes being a virulent homophobia.

While Pence is far slicker than Trump — Pence is an experienced, polished politician — his politics are pure Jerry Falwell.

So it’s perhaps not surprising that young people, even at a Catholic school like Notre Dame, have little stomach for Pence’s politics.

Also, as an interesting aside, Pence has been trying to immunize himself against Donald Trump’s latest controversies. For example, Pence claims he had no idea that Mike Flynn was under investigation for not registering as a lobbyist for Turkey. In fact, Flynn says he told the transition about the investigation, and Pence as running the transition. It’s difficult to believe that no one told Pence.

Here’s the video of the Notre Dame students walking out:

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Trump just curtsied to the Saudi King http://americablog.com/2017/05/trump-just-curtsied-saudi-king.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/trump-just-curtsied-saudi-king.html#comments Sat, 20 May 2017 15:49:24 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142528 Fox News is crowing today that unlike President Obama, Donald Trump did not “bow” to the Saudi King.

And Fox is right.

Trump didn’t bow. He curtsied.

Some conservatives, who are beside themselves that their hero is curtsying like a slave girl to her king, are now claiming the video has been doctored. Here’s CNN’s version:

Reuters has the same video. It’s real.

Mind you, Trump’s odd genuflect to the Saudi king comes after a campaign in which Trump regularly savaged the Saudis as sexist homophobes. Trump did this in an attempt to suggest that Hillary would be too pro-Saudi. Now Trump is curtsying to the Saudi king and signing a new arms deal.

Another broken promise.

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Trump told Russians Comey was fired to lessen pressure of Russia probe. Trump called Comey a “nutjob.” http://americablog.com/2017/05/trump-spicer-admit-comey-firing-linked-russia-probe-trump-calls-comey-nutjob.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/trump-spicer-admit-comey-firing-linked-russia-probe-trump-calls-comey-nutjob.html#comments Fri, 19 May 2017 19:12:00 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142516 Donald Trump admitted to the Russians earlier this month that he fired FBI Director Comey because of the pressure the Russia probe was putting on him, according to the NYT.

In an effort to explain Trump’s words, White House press secretary Sean Spicer today then backed up Trump’s assertion that it was the Russia probe that motivated Comey’s firing.

This dual admission could be a central part of the new special counsel investigation of the Trump team’s collusion with Russia during and after the election, and any potential obstruction of justice charges against Trump and his team.

In a new transcript of Trump’s Oval Office meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador the day after Comey was fired, Trump tells the Russians: “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

In other words, firing Comey relieved Trump of the pressure he was feeling because of the Russia investigation. (I reported earlier today on how Trump ended up firing Comey after Trump tried, and failed, to win Comey’s “loyalty,” in an effort to kill the Russia probe.)

Sean Spicer’s explanation of Trump’s words only dug them all a deeper pit:

In a statement, [Spicer] said that Mr. Comey had put unnecessary pressure on the president’s ability to conduct diplomacy with Russia on matters such as Syria, Ukraine and the Islamic State.

“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Mr. Spicer said. “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”

So, not only does Spicer link Comey’s firing to the Russia probe, and to Trump’s attempts to lessen the impact of the probe, but Spicer also admits that the probe was getting in the way of the White House’s attempts to improve relations with Russia, something Russia dearly wants.

There are so many angles to the self-incrimination in both Trump’s and Spicer’s admissions. Trump trying to help himself. Trump trying to help the Russians. Trump trying to stymie the Russia investigation. The indictments practically write themselves.

This is yet another disastrous development for Trump and Spicer (who is reportedly on his way out as the White House daily briefer). And it’s yet another disastrous leak for Trump.

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Republicans twice as likely to find interracial marriage “bad” http://americablog.com/2017/05/republicans-twice-likely-find-interracial-marriage-bad.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/republicans-twice-likely-find-interracial-marriage-bad.html#comments Fri, 19 May 2017 16:37:30 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142504 PEW Research Center has a new poll on interracial marriage that shows Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to find interracial marriage “a bad thing.”

12% of Republicans found it a bad thing, while 6% of Democrats felt the same.

Just as interesting, 49% of Democrats found interracial marriage “a good thing,” while only 28% of Republicans felt the same.

The middle option was “doesn’t make much difference.”

Overall, the national numbers were pretty good, with only between 3% and 18% finding it “bad.” (Interestingly, the worst numbers, the highest “bad”  numbers, were among blacks: 18%).

PEW poll interracial marriage

A few things about polls. Perhaps it’s because I’m gay, but I’m used to polls showing one-third of the country thinking I’m an abomination. So the notion that “only” 3% to 18% haver a problem with interracial marriage sounds like a victory to me. We live in a kooky country, where are a lot of people believe some wacky stuff.

PPP polling has some great numbers:

– 6% think bin Laden is alive.
– 21% think a UFO crashed in Roswell.
– 20% believe in a link between vaccines and autism.
– 7% think the moon landing was faked.
– 13% think Obama is the anti-Christ.
– 9% think the government adds fluoride to our water for “sinister” reasons.
– 4% of voters say they believe “lizard people” control our societies by gaining political power.
– 5% believe in chemtrails.
– 5% believe that Paul McCartney actually died in 1966.

You get the idea. So the whole 3% to 18% range is pure wingnut territory. Once your numbers get that low, you’ve basically won.

Also, the numbers are getting better in even the past few years:

PEW poll interracial marriage

Having said all of that, back in 2011, 46% of Mississippi Republicans thought interracial marriage should be illegal. So it’s possible, and likely, that the crazy vote is concentrated in certain states and certain parties — cough! — and therefore still have disproportionate power.

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Comey found “disgusting” Trump’s efforts to compromise him http://americablog.com/2017/05/comey-found-disgusting-trumps-efforts.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/comey-found-disgusting-trumps-efforts.html#comments Fri, 19 May 2017 16:16:29 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142490 Benjamin Wittes over at Lawfare blog, an invaluable site for analyzing the impact of the law on politics, wrote a fascinating story yesterday about his friend, former FBI Director James Comey.

Specifically, Wittes wrote about Comey’s ongoing “disgust” over Donald Trump’s incessant efforts to make Comey his guy. An effort inimical to the FBI’s status as an independent law enforcement agency.

Wittes notes that in recent decades, the FBI has gone out of its way to keep the director and his staff independent of the White House. Donald Trump, who doesn’t know his history, and doesn’t care, tried to undo all that.

You can, and should, read Wittes’ story for the details. I’m concerned here with why Trump did what he did. Trump is a tragically-insecure narcissist who thinks the rules don’t apply to him. Trump would demand loyalty from all his employees, regardless, but from Comey it was something different. Comey, who brought down Hillary’s presidential run, was heading up the FBI investigation that threatened to bring down Trump’s presidency as well. Trump’s unique blend of hubris and insecurity kicked into overdrive — Trump had to get Comey on his side.

But he couldn’t. Comey wasn’t budging. No loyalty oath. No response to Trump’s repeated requests for Comey to acknowledge that Trump wasn’t being investigated by the FBI. No response to Trump’s request that Comey kill the investigation of Michael Flynn. In spite of all Trump’s efforts, the Russia investigation accelerated, with Comey asking for more resources shortly before he was fired.

Trump had had enough. Not only was Comey unwilling to fellate Trump’s ego, but the FBI Director wasn’t willing to call off the investigative dogs. James Comey became an existential threat to Donald Trump’s presidency — a presidency about which Trump was already woefully insecure. Comey had to be stopped at all costs.

But Trump being Trump, the firing of James Comey was handled in such a harried, clumsy and amateur way that the entire thing blew up in Trump’s face. Trump began to publicly threaten Comey on Twitter, news leaked of Trump’s attempt to get Comey to swear to a “loyalty oath,” and then Comey (or his allies at the FBI) leaked that Comey had contemporaneous notes of a meeting with Trump in which Trump tried to get Comey to kill the investigation of Flynn.

Boom! That last bit of news was enough to push Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel to investigate Trump-Russia. Trump’s own actions brought about his worst fears.

It’s a great, not too long, read from Wittes. I recommend it highly.

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It’s time to Resist Everywhere http://americablog.com/2017/05/resist-everywhere.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/resist-everywhere.html#respond Thu, 18 May 2017 23:22:15 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142484

I want to let you know about a new Resistance group I am partnering with and advising: Resist Everywhere PAC.

Resist Everywhere is bringing together creative and hard-hitting online and on-the-ground activists from around the country. Our goal: To make sure there are no more “safe seats” for Republicans who vote against the interests of their constituents.

Resist Everywhere’s first action will be to support populist-outsider Rob Quist in the Montana special election. Your help is vital with only a few days left to the election. Please see their message below, and help out if you can.

Thanks so much, JOHN

What did you do in the resistance?

When Donald Trump fired the Director of the FBI because he wouldn’t pledge loyalty, what did you do? When it was revealed that Trump tried to smother the investigation into Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian spies what did you do?

When someday you are asked that question, what will be your answer?

Here’s ours:

Resist Everywhere. Every district. Every county.

Resist Everywhere PAC is fighting not only Donald Trump, but the failed model that has lost elections up and down the ballot year after year by writing off large sections of the country and the public. When we give our time, talent and hard earned dollars, we want to stand up for our values and beliefs not pad a consultants bank account. We believe that our values can win if we show-up and make the case in the places Democrats too often don’t go and with the voters we too often forget.

We’re getting started with the special election in Montana. Will you help us take back a seat from the Republicans and give Donald Trump a black eye?

Rob Quist is running in the special election on May 25 and he’s the Republican Party’s worst nightmare.

The Republicans are running a New Jersey millionaire who denies evolution and gives lavishly to the extreme right. Just last year, Montana voters rejected his failed bid for Governor. And just two weeks ago, he was caught on tape praising the House GOP bill to strip 24 million Americans of their health care to Washington insiders while he was dodging the issue back in Montana!

Rob Quist is a small businessman and an award-winning songwriter who’s campaigning across the state with his guitar and banjo. He supports Single-Payer Healthcare, Planned Parenthood, protecting Montana’s public lands, and marijuana legalization. He’s also a lifelong outdoorsman and a gun owner who’s been endorsed by the Montana Sportsmen Alliance.

You know what? That makes him right for Montana. Resist Everywhere PAC knows that every section of America is a little bit different; but that we need ALL Democrats to unite against Donald Trump’s dangerous challenge to basic American values.

Donate now to show that Rob Quist is the kind of Democrat we need.

We came close in Kansas and Georgia. This time, let’s make sure we get Rob Quist over the finish line. Let’s show Donald Trump what the resistance movement can do.

As an independent committee, Resist Everywhere PAC operates outside of the party machinery. We can be bold where the establishment is cautious.

Shake up the status quo with a donation to Resist Everywhere PAC, and help us get Rob Quist elected to Congress in Montana.

Thank you,

Cormac Flynn
Executive Director
Resist Everywhere PAC

*Donations to Resist Everywhere PAC are not tax-deductible.

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BREAKING: DOJ appoints special counsel to investigate Russia-Trump http://americablog.com/2017/05/breaking-doj-appoints-special-counsel-to-investigate-russia-trump.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/breaking-doj-appoints-special-counsel-to-investigate-russia-trump.html#comments Wed, 17 May 2017 22:32:08 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142475 The Department of Justice has just appointed a special counsel to investigate Russia’s involvement in our election, and any collusion by Trump and his associates.

The investigation will be led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who was originally appointed director by George W. Bush, and then asked to remain on the job for another two years by President Obama. So this was a smart move, in terms of being a quasi-bipartisan pick.

Also interesting, the decision to appoint the special counsel was made by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was pilloried last week for drafting a letter to help Donald Trump fire now-former FBI Director James Comey. So it’s very interesting that Rosenstein was the person to make this decision (Attorney General Sessions couldn’t make the decision, as he had to recuse himself from all Russia-investigation-related decisions.) Rosenstein has clearly, at least in part, reestablished his independence. And at the same time, Donald Trump must be kicking himself for thinking Rosenstein was his man.

Robert Mueller

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

And this also means that no longer can Donald Trump influence the investigation. According to CBS News, the special counsel will be a civil servant, and will not be able to be removed by the president.

Now, the special counsel investigates crimes. If he doesn’t find any, this entire investigation could end in nothing. Also, there’s a chance that this deflates the ongoing news about Russia, since the investigation will take place behind closed doors, and Republicans can now say “hey, there’s an investigation going on, let it take its course.”

Having said that, this is still huge news overall, and bad news for Donald Trump. To date, most of the news about Russia has been coming from the media, not from the various investigations (FBI, Senate, House). So, it’s not clear that the appointment of a special counsel will stop the bad news from coming.

All in all, this is great news for anyone concerned about whether we’d get to the bottom of what happened with the election, and what role Trump and company had if any.

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I’m with Lawrence O’Donnell — add your name http://americablog.com/2017/05/im-lawrence-odonnell-add-name.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/im-lawrence-odonnell-add-name.html#comments Wed, 17 May 2017 16:17:14 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142470 Longtime MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell is in danger of losing his show when his contract ends in early June.

Show your public support for Lawrence and his show — add your name to the petition and tell MSNBC that you’re with Lawrence.

While contract negotiations have finally begun (very late, which is a bad sign), NBC employees have said the network wants Lawrence gone because he criticizes Donald Trump too much. Specifically, the network was concerned that Lawrence has called Donald Trump a liar. More from Showbiz411:

msnbc-odonnell

Donald Trump is a liar. And Lawrence O’Donnell has one of the top rated shows on cable television, only surpassed by Rachel Maddow herself. Lawrence speaks truth to power, and I’m sure Donald Trump isn’t a fan. But that’s not the point. Now more than ever, we need media who are willing to stand up to Trump and his growing kleptocracy.

I’ve been asked how you can send a personal message of support to Lawrence, but what he needs now is public support. MSNBC needs to see and hear that Lawrence O’Donnell and his top-rated show have our support.

Add your name to the petition below, and show Lawrence and NBC execs that you’re with Lawrence.

(Lawrence O’Donnell photo by Er-nay.)

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

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Comey: Trump asked me to kill Flynn probe http://americablog.com/2017/05/comey-trump-asked-kill-flynn-probe.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/comey-trump-asked-kill-flynn-probe.html#comments Tue, 16 May 2017 21:58:53 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142465 The NYT is reporting that Donald Trump asked then- FBI Director James Comey to kill the FBI’s investigation of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The FBI was investigating Flynn, among other reasons, because of his having lied about secret conversations he had with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.

Trump asked Comey to shut down the investigation the day after Flynn was fired. You’ll recall that the Trump administration was warned by then- acting-Attorney-General Sally Yates in January that Flynn was compromised. The White House then did nothing for 18 days, until the story broke in the press, then, and only because of the public nature of the news, did Trump fire Flynn.

We know all of this because Comey felt the president was improperly trying to influence the FBI’s Russia investigation, so Comey kept a paper trail of memos documenting every conversation he had with Trump.

And as the NYT notes, an FBI agent’s contemporaneous notes of conversations are considered credible evidence in court.

All of this sheds further light on why Trump fired Comey. You’ll recall that odd paragraph in Trump’s letter informing Comey that he was fired, the paragraph about how Comey had allegedly informed Trump three times that Trump wasn’t under investigation. Putting aside the fact that Trump’s claim is a lie, it always struck me that Trump wasn’t just writing this to cover his behind (“see, even Comey says I’m innocent!”), he was also whining a bit. What if Trump was actually saying, “you told me three times I wasn’t under investigation, yet this investigation continues and continues and continues.”

And, we know from Trump’s tweets following Comey being fired that Trump did in fact see Comey’s demission in the framework of the Russia investigation, which Trump felt was a waste of resources. So Trump fired Comey, the man that Trump felt was singlehandedly trying to take him down.

Except now there’s proof of Trump’s ongoing, and growing, obstruction of justice. Even worse, Trump seemed to admit last week that he secretly tapes his conversations, which means there’s a recording of every single one of these conversations, from Trump telling Comey to kill the Flynn investigation to Trump inappropriately-divulging highly-classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador. There’s evidence of all of this.

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Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

 

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Trump “accidentally” revealed highly-classified info to Russians http://americablog.com/2017/05/trump-accidentally-revealed-highly-classified-info-russians.html http://americablog.com/2017/05/trump-accidentally-revealed-highly-classified-info-russians.html#comments Mon, 15 May 2017 23:40:55 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142456 The Washington Post just broke a huge story that Donald Trump revealed highly-classified information to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister last week, violating an agreement with a key US ally, and putting at risk the source of that information in the Middle East.

In a nutshell, Trump went “off script” and started bragging to the Russians about how great his intel is. He then started telling them about the details of the ISIS terror plot involving lithium batteries on laptops. This was information given to us by a foreign ally, under the condition we reveal it to no one — especially not to any foreign powers. We were not even permitted to tell other US allies about this information, let alone reveal to the Russians.

The information was so highly-classified that the Trump administration asked the Washington Post not to publish the details of what Trump told the Russians, and the Post complied. Think about that. The information is so sensitive that the Trump administration had to ask the press to censor itself, yet Trump himself handed the info to the Russians.

But that’s exactly what Trump did.

So what’s the impact of that?

1. That US ally may never want to share highly-classified information with us again, it’s just too risky. It was conjecture before that Trump might be so sloppy, so stupid, and so narcissistic that he’d share classified information with the wrong people. Now it’s fact.

2. This also means that other US allies will now worry, justifiably, that the US government will not keep their most highly classified secrets.

3. And this one is really scary. By telling the Russians the city in which we found out about the terror plot, Trump made it possibly for the Russians to find out who or how our ally got this information. Why does that matter? Because that same source could be providing key information about Russian involvement in Syria, where the US and Syria are at odds. This permits the Russians to now undercut that intelligence asset. Per the Post:

A former intelligence official who handled high-level intelligence on Russia said that given the clues Trump provided, “I don’t think that it would be that hard [for Russian spy services] to figure this out.”

I’d say this is unbelievable, but that word is getting old as it pertains to Donald Trump. And in any case, this is all too believable. Donald Trump is an interloper. He never wanted to be president, and never should have been elected president. He’s not ready for the job. He doesn’t have the experience or intellect to pull it off. Nor does he have the self-control.

And now Trump has jeopardized US national security far more than anything he accused Hillary Clinton of. Trump has literally leaked top secrets to the Russians. And while it would be nice to think that he’s simply an idiot, in the context of Trump trying to undermine the Russia investigation, this is exactly the kind of behavior you would expect from someone co-opted by a foreign adversary of the United States.

I can’t say for sure what’s motivating Trump, idiocy or treason, but either way, he shouldn’t be in that office.

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