Friday, January 18, 2019

BuzzFeed: Sources say Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about proposed Moscow project

Mod: It is now pretty much over. Michael Cohen will be chatting about this before Congress in a few weeks. What he will describe is a stone cold impeachable offense, committed by a president who has once again proven himself to be one helluva dumb MF'r.

BuzzFeed: Sources say Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about proposed Moscow project ( link): President Donald Trump personally directed his longtime former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower project, two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter told BuzzFeed.

The law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed that Trump directed Cohen to claim negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended months earlier than they actually did. The law enforcement sources told BuzzFeed that Cohen confirmed to special counsel Robert Mueller's team that Trump issued the order to lie to Congress.

Mueller's office learned Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization, internal company emails, text messages and other documents, Buzzfeed reports.

Trump supported a plan to personally visit Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, BuzzFeed reports, to personally meet with President Vladimir Putin to negotiate. According to BuzzFeed, Trump said to Cohen, "Make it happen."

The law enforcement sources familiar with Cohen's testimony to Mueller's office told BuzzFeed that the President, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates from Cohen about the Moscow project.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

NY Times: Trump is Stuck With a 'Team of Morons' in the White House

Meanwhile, over at Fox ..
Mod: My only question would be this one: Is Donald really stuck with them, or are they actually his preference?

NY Times: Trump is Stuck With a 'Team of Morons' in the White House ( link:) In a new column in the New York Times, Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman asked a question that many others have asked about Donald Trump’s White House: Why are his top advisers sticking around when it is apparent that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has been gathering evidence of many different Trump crimes, and the president is probably on his way down?

According to Krugman, the individuals left working for Trump in the White House are the “worst and dumbest” of all the people he hired, and they literally have nowhere else to go because they are so incompetent.

In the column, entitled “Donald Trump and His Team of Morons,” Krugman had this to say about the current president: “There have been many policy disasters over the course of U.S. history. It’s hard, however, to think of a calamity as gratuitous, an error as unforced, as the current federal shutdown. Nor can I think of another disaster as thoroughly personal, as completely owned by one man.”

“You can’t fully make sense of his policy pratfalls without acknowledging the extraordinary quality of the people with whom he has surrounded himself. And by ‘extraordinary,’ of course, I mean extraordinarily low quality. Lincoln had a team of rivals; Trump has a team of morons.”

The famous economist and political commentator then asked who would still be willing to work for Trump at this point:

“Only those with no reputation to lose, generally because they’re pretty bad at what they do. There are, no doubt, conservatives smart and self-controlled enough to lie plausibly, or at least preserve some deniability, and defend Trump’s policies without making fools of themselves. But those people have gone into hiding.”

He concluded by saying that the people who are still in the White House have been distilled down from ‘the worst and the dumbest” to “even worse and even dumber.”

And of course Krugman is right. We have an incompetent president surrounded by incompetent people who enable his lies and his misdeeds. They are damaging the entire country and it will take a very long time for the United States to recover from their stupid, misguided actions.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Burger King mocks Trump over misspelled tweet: 'We're all out of hamberders'

Mod: Well, their restrooms might smell like something that just recently escaped from hell, and their food could easily turn your heart into a death fist of lard. But they're bashing Trump? Are they trying to be the Nike of fast food? So ask yourself this, what does Burger King's marketing department know that the red caps don't?

Burger King mocks Trump over misspelled tweet: 'We're all out of hamberders' (The Hill link): The fast food chain Burger King took aim at President Trump on Tuesday over his mention of “hamberders” in a recent tweet.

“Due to a large order placed yesterday, we're all out of hamberders,” the chain said in a tweet from its verified account on Tuesday morning. “Just serving hamburgers today.”

The jab arrives on the heels of a tweet shared by Trump hours before in which he had boasted about the number of "hamberders” he served Clemson University's championship football team during their visit to the White House on Monday.

“Great being with the National Champion Clemson Tigers last night at the White House. Because of the Shutdown I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders etc,” Trump said in the since-deleted tweet.

“Within one hour, it was all gone. Great guys and big eaters!” he added.

During the Clemson University Tigers's visit to the White House on Monday, Trump not only served food from Burger King, but also from other fast food chains McDonald's, Wendy's and Domino's Pizza.

The White House said in a statement later on Monday that the president wanted to host a “fun event to celebrate" the team’s victory, but "because the Democrats refuse to negotiate on border security, much of the residence staff at the White House is furloughed."

"So the President is personally paying for the event to be catered with some of everyone’s favorite fast foods,” the statement read.

Trump spent about $3,000 on Clemson fast food spread: analysis (The Hill link): The White House spent roughly $2,900 on food from various fast food chains around the Washington, D.C., metro area on Monday to host Clemson University's championship football team, according to an analysis from The Washington Post.

The Post, which looked at photographs of the event that showed multiple angles of the massive spread of hamburgers, pizzas, chicken nuggets and french fries from various fast food chains, including Burger King, McDonald's and Wendy's, estimated the total cost to be $2,911.44. Half of that money was spent at McDonald's alone, the Post reports, though it notes that the cost drops, to $2,437.11

A request for comment from The Hill to the White House regarding the total price was not immediately returned Tuesday morning.

Some of the costs in the Post's analysis were educated guesses, due to the unique setup of the dinner, which included McDonald's and Wendy's fries being removed from their containers and placed in White House dishes.

Michael Strahan invites Clemson champions to a lobster dinner -- on him ( link): "I personally would like to invite the Clemson football team here for a great meal," Strahan said Tuesday on Good Morning America. "Come out here, whoever can make it. We will have lobster. Whatever you want.

We gonna take care of you. We gonna give you the proper meal that you deserve because that was one great game, a great accomplishment. We thought what we could give them; I thought lobster was great. It's out of my pocket.

I got you guys. I'll pay for it. No problem. Those guys deserve it. Congratulations."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Trump Poll Numbers Crater After Bizarre "Wall" Speech

Mod: Wall Nuts of the world lament, most Americans are not buying into "Foreign Agent" Trump's absurd border wall nonsense. Doubts? Here are some polling results for you. 

New Polls Show Majority of Americans Blame Trump and the GOP—Not Democrats—for Government Shutdown —Trump’s disapproval ratings are really on the rise (Mother Jones link): New polls from the Washington Post-ABC News and CNN released Sunday revealed who most Americans think bear much of the blame for the longest government shutdown in US history: President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans.

For 23 days, negotiations between congressional Democrats and Trump have stalled over the president’s demands for funding to build a wall along the southern border. In an Oval Office address last week (which Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum fact-checked here), Trump called the situation at the border a humanitarian crisis and, up until Friday, repeatedly suggested he would declare a national state of emergency to free up money for the wall. On Saturday night, Trump called into Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show to say he had an “absolute right” to call for a national emergency and criticized Democrats for spending time away from Washington during the shutdown. Trump told Pirro he had “no idea” if he could come to a deal to end the shutdown with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“I’d rather see the Democrats come back from their vacation and act,” Trump told Pirro. “I’d like to see them act responsibly, and they’re not acting responsibly.

But the majority of Americans don’t appear to agree that Congress’s Democrats are to blame. The Washington Post-ABC News poll of 788 people, with a margin of error of 4.5 points, found that 53 percent of Americans said the partial shutdown was mostly the fault of Trump and Republicans, versus 29 percent who thought congressional Democrats were responsible. Two-thirds of those polled disapproved of Trump using presidential powers to declare a state of emergency to fund the border blockade.

Meanwhile, a CNN poll of 848 adults, with a margin of error of 4.1 points, showed that 55 percent of respondents thought the president was more responsible for the shutdown than Democrats. Fifty-six percent of those polled opposed building a wall, while more than half of respondents didn’t think the situation on the southern border was a crisis. There are signs that the the president’s obstinance is striking the wrong chord with the public: Since December, his disapproval rating has risen five points to 57 percent, while his approval rating remains at 37 percent—10 points below Ronald Reagan’s low in 1982.

69 percent oppose Trump emergency declaration to build wall (The Hill link): Nearly 70 percent of those polled in a new survey say they would oppose President Trump declaring an emergency to build a wall on the Mexican border.

Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed in The Hill-HarrisX survey conducted Jan. 12-13 said they do not want the president to designate the border a national emergency site. Just 31 percent of respondents said they wanted such a declaration. Trump has been flirting with the declaration to get the wall built and end a partial government shutdown that on Saturday became the longest such closure in U.S. history.

The president has given mixed signals on whether the would declare an emergency, and on Monday said he did not want to do so at this time. “I’m not looking to call a national emergency,” he said. “This is so simple, we shouldn’t have to.”

The Hill-HarrisX poll shows widespread disapproval for the declaration, with men, women and every racial group surveyed disapproving. Voters across all regions of the country also were opposed.

U.S. Voters Back Dem Plan To Reopen Government 2-1, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; More U.S. Voters Say Trump TV Address Was Misleading (Quinnipiac Poll link): American voters support 63 - 30 percent a Democratic proposal to reopen parts of the government that do not involve border security while negotiating funding for the Wall, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. Every party, gender, education, age and racial group supports this idea except Republicans, who are opposed 52 - 39 percent.

Voters oppose 63 - 32 percent shutting down the government to force funding for the Wall, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University National Poll finds. Again, Republicans are the only listed group supporting the shutdown, 67 - 24 percent. The GOP is losing the battle as 56 percent of American voters say President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress are responsible for the shutdown, while 36 percent say Democrats are responsible.

Voters remain solidly opposed to a wall on the Mexican border, 55 - 43 percent, and reject every argument for the Wall. The 55 - 43 percent opposition compares to 54 - 43 percent opposition in a December 18 survey, just before the partial government shutdown.

Rasmussen poll shows Trump with lowest approval in a year (The Hill link): A conservative-leaning poll released Monday showed President Trump with his lowest approval ratings in almost a year. The Rasmussen poll found that 43 percent of likely voters polled approve of Trump's job performance, his lowest mark in the poll since January of 2018, when his approval was at 42 percent. The poll also found that 55 percent of respondents disapprove of Trump's performance, including 46 percent who strongly disapprove. Another 32 percent strongly approve the job Trump is doing.

According to Rasmussen, Trump's approval rating has slipped since his prime-time address last week in which he claimed that a border wall is necessary to confront a "humanitarian crisis" at the border.

CNN Poll: Trump bears most blame for shutdown (CNN link): Amid the longest government shutdown in US history, a majority say Donald Trump bears more responsibility for it than the Democrats in Congress, and the President's disapproval rating has climbed five points since last month, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.

Negotiations between the President and congressional leaders have stalled as neither side seems willing to budge on funding for a wall along the border with Mexico. That proposal remains deeply unpopular with the public, according to the poll. Overall, 56% oppose a wall, 39% favor it. That's almost exactly the same as in December. And less than half view the situation at the border as a crisis (45% say it's a crisis, 52% that it is not).

Overall, the President's approval rating in the poll stands at 37% approve to 57% disapprove. Disapproval has risen five points since December, while his approval number has held roughly the same. Trump's current approval rating matches Ronald Reagan's at this point in his presidency. January of 1983 was the only time during Reagan's tenure when his approval rating fell below 40%, according to Gallup. Trump has hit a low point of 35% in CNN's polling two times -- in December 2017 and February 2018 -- and has been at 40% or above just nine times out of the 20 CNN has polled.

Americans blame shutdown on Trump over Democrats by wide margin, poll finds (USA Today link): By a wide margin, Americans blame the longest government shutdown in U.S. history on President Donald Trump, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published Sunday.

The partial shutdown affects about a quarter of the U.S. government and approximately 800,000 federal workers. Now in its fourth week, the shutdown is the result of an impasse between the president and congressional Democrats over funding for a border wall, which Trump promised during the 2016 campaign.

When asked, "Who do you think is mainly responsible for this situation?" 53 percent of Americans told pollsters they blamed Trump and congressional Republicans. A much smaller 29 percent blamed Democrats and an additional 13 percent said both sides were equally responsible. Four percent had no opinion.

Poll: Majority of GOP say shutdown is 'embarrassing for the country' (The Hill link): A majority of Republicans in a new survey say the partial government shutdown is "embarrassing for the country."

The new NPR/Ipsos poll reports that three-quarters of all respondents believe the ongoing shutdown is “embarrassing." Nearly 70 percent of respondents in the survey said the shutdown is going to hurt the country and the economy. The same portion of respondents say Congress should pass a bill to reopen the government now, while only 30 percent believe the government should stay closed until there is funding for a border wall.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Mueller Draft Report Says Trump 'Helped Putin Destabilize The United States', Watergate Journalist Says

Mod: Newsweek has been putting out some great stuff lately. Here is yet another revelation about the coming legal demise of Donald Trump that should send chills down your spine.

Mueller Draft Report Says Trump 'Helped Putin Destabilize The United States', Watergate Journalist Says (Newsweek link): Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein has said that he’s been told that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report will show how President Donald Trump helped Russia “destabilize the United States.”

Bernstein, who is renowned for his coverage of the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon, appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday to discuss two bombshell reports released this weekend, one from The New York Times and one from The Washington Post, which revealed new details about whether or not Trump and his aides have colluded with Russia.

The Post reported that Trump has gone to “extraordinary lengths” to conceal direct conversations he has had with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Times article revealed that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump after he fired former bureau director James Comey in 2017, suspecting the president could be working on behalf of Russia. Trump has angrily denied allegations that he worked with Russia and has regularly attacked the media for reporting on the investigation. But Bernstein slammed Trump’s dismissal of the probe.

“This is about the most serious counterintelligence people we have in the U.S. government saying, ‘Oh, my God, the president’s words and actions lead us to conclude that somehow he has become a witting, unwitting, or half-witting pawn, certainly in some regards, to Vladimir Putin,'” Bernstein explained during his appearance on Reliable Sources . “From a point of view of strength… rather, he has done what appears to be Putin’s goals. He has helped Putin destabilize the United States and interfere in the election, no matter whether it was purposeful or not,” the journalist added. He then explained that he knew from his own high-level sources that Mueller’s report would discuss this assessment.

“And that is part of what the draft of Mueller’s report, I’m told, is to be about,” he said. “We know there has been collusion by [former national security adviser Michael] Flynn. We know there has been collusion of some sort by [Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul] Manafort. The question is, yes, what did the president know and when did he know it?”

Trump Was 'Aiding And Abetting' Russian Intelligence By Allegedly Asking His Interpreter To Conceal Notes, National Security Expert Says (Newsweek link): CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd has suggested that President Donald Trump aided and abetted Russian intelligence by allegedly taking his interpreter’s notes from  a 2017 meeting with Vladimir Putin, and also ordering the linguist not to discuss the talks with other members of his administration. The Washington Post reported this weekend that Trump has gone to “extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations” with his Russian counterpart. “U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years,” the newspaper reported.

Discussing the report on CNN’s New Day program on Sunday morning, Vinograd, who served as a national security expert within the administration of Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, said special counsel Robert Mueller no doubt took notice of the report and could investigate further. She also pointed out that the president’s actions fell well outside of normal protocols.

“There is a standard operating procedure for these meetings,” Vinograd explained. “I helped with some of these meetings after the fact. By failing to allow your team in the room, by failing to establish a firm record in line with existing U.S. law of what actually happened, you are ceding the narrative to Russian intelligence and Vladimir Putin without having any bit of evidence or a foundation of establishing a narrative on your own,” she said.

“If [Trump] took the extraordinary step of asking his interpreter to destroy notes from the meeting, he is again aiding and abetting the Russian intelligence services in manipulating the narrative around what happened,” the expert added.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Trump praises the sale of fighter jets to Norway that only exist in ‘Call of Duty’ video game

Mod: In addition to being a crook, bully and collaborator, Trump is also laughably ignorant on quite a few important topics you'd expect a CIC to know. For those of you looking for an example of what we're talking about, today we have an excellent one.

Trump praises the sale of fighter jets to Norway that only exist in ‘Call of Duty’ video game (Dead State link): During a press conference this past weekend with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, President Trump boasted about a supposed U.S. delivery of “F-52” warplanes to the Norwegian government. As it turns out, F-52s only exist in the video game Call of Duty.

“In November we started delivering the first F-52s and F-35 fighter jets,” Trump said during the press conference. “We have a total of 52 and they’ve delivered a number of them already a little ahead of schedule.”

As the Call of Duty Wiki page points out, the F-52 is “an advanced fighter aircraft in service of the United States of America and the Sentinel Task Force” that “is equipped with afterburners for greater speed to outrun aircraft, as well as air brakes, which provide the fighter with additional maneuverability in tight corners or for avoiding enemy fire.”

Mod: Just in case you need it, here is some MSM corroboration.

Trump lauded delivery of F-52s to Norway. The planes only exist in ‘Call of Duty.’ (Washington Post link): President Trump caused a stir with his announcement that the United States had delivered F-52 fighter jets to Norway. Was it a secret advanced jet capable of beating its Russian counterparts? A ruse to fool intelligence analysts?

Neither, it turns out. The “F-52” is a fictional jet only available to fly if you’re a gamer at the controls of “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.” Trump lauded the sale of the fictional planes alongside Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the White House on Wednesday, remarking on the very real and growing defense relationship with America’s Northern Europe ally.

“In November we started delivering the first F-52s and F-35 fighter jets,” Trump said. “We have a total of 52 and they’ve delivered a number of them already a little ahead of schedule.”

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Mike Pence Was Handpicked By Paul Manafort - Was Pence The Choice Of Vladimir Putin As Well?

Mod: This week's revelations about Paul Manafort having supplied Trump internal campaign polling data to a Russian intelligence operative continue to raise some interesting questions. Certainly the "collusion" (I prefer the term treason myself) issue is first and foremost amongst them. The suspicion now being that Manafort became Trump's campaign head at Russian insistence because, after all, they'd already been comfortably doing some monkey business together for decades. Which puts the following 2017 Newsweek article about the process leading to the selection of Mike Pence as Trump's VP into an interesting new light. Elect a clown, expect a circus.

Mike Pence Could Be The Next President And He Was Handpicked By Paul Manafort (Newsweek link): The man who helped put Mike Pence a heartbeat away from the presidency is now facing federal charges.

Paul Manafort, who was hit Monday with 12 counts tied to alleged financial schemes, pushed for Pence to become Trump's running mate and even managed to talk Trump out of his doubts. As the Trump administration now works to distance itself from Manafort, his Pence pick stands among the best evidence of his impact as Trump's short-lived campaign manager.

Before Trump formally announced Pence as his vice presidential candidate, it was Manafort who made sure it happened, The New York Times reported last year.

Trump had hesitated to settle on Pence, who was governor of Indiana. Trump was fielding last-ditch appeals from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and publicly said he had not made a “final, final decision” until advisers like Manafort reminded him of the importance of uniting the GOP around conservative Christian values.

CBS News reported that Pence was Manafort's "first choice" and that Manafort even lied about mechanical problems on Trump's plane to make the soon-to-be GOP nominee stay an extra day in Indiana to get to know Pence. In a phone call, Manafort assured Trump that Pence was the right choice and made a case that won over the real estate tycoon.

Manafort would later downplay his behind-the-scenes choice, telling the Times that Trump never seriously doubted Pence.

The decision came during the three months Manafort served as Trump's campaign manager, after advising him earlier in the year. Just a month after the Pence pick, Manafort was out, with reports about his foreign finances and government lobbying creating a cloud around the campaign.

On Monday, Manafort surrendered to the FBI on charges that included conspiracy against the United States, after Mueller named him and his associate Rick Gates in the first indictment from the probe into the Trump campaign's suspected Russia ties.

Mod: Now juxtapose the above with an article that appeared earlier this week.

Manafort accidentally reveals an important contact between Russia and Trump campaign (Think Progress link): A court filing Tuesday in a case against former Trump campaign chair Paul J. Manafort Jr. accidentally revealed previously unknown contacts between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

The revelation came in a filing by Manafort’s legal team in response to allegations by prosecutors in November that he breached his plea deal in the D.C. case by lying to investigators for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Several paragraphs of that filing were redacted, but a Guardian reporter quickly realized Manafort’s team redacted the document in a way that can be easily reversed:

One of the improperly redacted sections revealed that Manafort shared 2016 presidential election polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime business associate of Manafort’s. Kilimnik is a Russian-Ukrainian businessman and political operative, and prosecutors have said in U.S. court he has ties to Russian intelligence.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Why Would Paul Manafort Share Polling Data with Russia?

Mod: Why indeed? Maybe because the Russians needed some data so they would know precisely where to direct their assets on the behalf of their presidential candidate, Donald Trump

Why Would Paul Manafort Share Polling Data with Russia? (The New Yorker link): On Tuesday, when news broke that Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort had shared internal polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian business associate with ties to Russian intelligence, the through line between the campaign and the Kremlin began to look incontrovertible. The revelation came in an inadvertently unredacted court document, which was filed by Manafort’s lawyers in response to charges made by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, that Manafort had lied to investigators. According to the Times, some—but not all—of the data was already in the public domain. The rest came from the campaign’s own polling operation.

Trump, who famously eschewed polling in the early days of his campaign and told the “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that pollsters were a waste of his money, eventually had five polling firms working to get him elected. All were hired after Manafort joined the campaign, in March, 2016, without pay. Five months later, he was forced to resign when it was revealed that he had failed to disclose his work as a foreign agent on behalf of pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine. Since then, of course, Manafort has been convicted of multiple counts of financial fraud.

In June, Trump downplayed Manafort’s tenure on his campaign, telling reporters, “You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time.” But F.B.I. wiretaps show that Manafort continued his association with Trump long after he resigned. Manafort was also in touch with his business partner, Rick Gates—now considered to be Robert Mueller’s star witness—who had been Trump’s deputy campaign manager and remained a White House insider. But, even more significant, it was Paul Manafort who decided to hire Tony Fabrizio as the campaign’s chief pollster.

Their friendship dates back to the nineteen-nineties—Fabrizio and Manafort worked together on the Presidential campaign of Bob Dole. Fabrizio also worked for Manafort in Ukraine, earning $278,500 for the same type of work he would later do for Trump—polling and surveying to help elevate Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions in the 2012 parliamentary elections. During the same period, Manafort dispersed five hundred and thirty-one thousand dollars to Kilimnik, his translator and fixer in Ukraine, for “professional services.” According to a report in Bloomberg about Manafort’s Ukrainian ventures, Fabrizio is included in e-mail chains with Manafort and Kilimnik.

Adam Geller, the founder and C.E.O. of National Research, a Republican polling firm that worked with Fabrizio on the Trump campaign, told me, “I honestly have no idea what was and wasn’t shared with the Russians.” In the final months of the race, National Research was responsible for polling in Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Iowa. By then, Manafort, whom Geller never had any direct contact with, had left the campaign. (Another polling firm employed by Trump was the Polling Company, whose C.E.O., Kellyanne Conway, replaced Manafort as campaign manager after he resigned.) But, for a time, Fabrizio was at the helm of Trump’s polling operation, and it was his job to share polling information with Trump’s campaign manager. The contested swing states that Trump narrowly—and surprisingly—won, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, were also places where both the Trump campaign and Russia’s Internet Research Agency focussed their efforts. Herein lies at least one answer to the question of why Russia would want the Trump campaign’s polling data: it potentially offered demographic targets for Russia’s bots and propaganda.

In her analysis of five million paid, issue-based Facebook ads—which covered such hot-button issues as gun rights, abortion, gay rights, immigration, terrorism, and race—during a six-week period of the 2016 Presidential campaign, the University of Wisconsin professor Young Mie Kim discovered that “the most highly targeted states—especially Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—generally overlap with the battleground states with razor thin margins.” These were ads placed by two hundred and twenty-eight groups, many of which were later linked to the Internet Research Agency. Kim also found that these efforts were calibrated to appeal to certain demographics. Low-income white voters, for example, were targeted with ads focussing on immigration and race.

An even more comprehensive analysis, by Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Project, which was released last month, shows just how pervasive Russia’s inflammatory targeting was. “On Facebook, the five most shared and the five most liked posts focused on divisive issues, with pro-gun ownership content, anti-immigration content pitting immigrants against veterans, content decrying police violence against African Americans, and content that was anti-Muslim, anti-refugee, anti-Obama, and pro-Trump,” the researchers wrote. The posts developed by the Internet Research Agency “tended to mimic conservative views against gun control and for increased regulation of immigrants. In some cases, terms such as ‘parasites’ were used to reference immigrants and others expressed some tolerance of extremist views.” These posts increased almost seven-fold between 2015—before Manafort joined Trump’s team—and 2016, when he, and the pollsters he hired, were guiding the campaign.

Not long after the election, in an interview with “Frontline,” Fabrizio offered a glimpse of how this data was gathered and how crucial it was to Trump’s victory. “One of the groups that we created early on in the campaign from the polling was what I called Trump targets,” Fabrizio said. “These were voters who wanted to change direction, wanted a new direction, weren’t voting for Trump, weren’t hardcore Democrats, weren’t hardcore liberals, weren’t hardcore Hillary supporters.” Knowing whom to target, where they were, and which issues resonated with them gave Trump’s digital team crucial information for its advertisements and social-media messaging. “We would report out to the senior team what markets those voters were concentrated in,” Fabrizio told “Frontline.” “In Florida, literally, if you changed four counties in Florida, twenty-nine electoral votes would have been off the table. Four counties.”

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Mueller Is Holding Top Secret Intelligence That Will Sink the Trump Presidency

Mod: It looks like Paul Manafort's lawyers are not as smart as they need to be. The "no collusion" choir will be sadly disheartened.

Mueller Is Holding Top Secret Intelligence That Will Sink the Trump Presidency (The Observer link): Another day, another bombshell emanating from the Special Counsel investigation into President Donald Trump and his links to the Kremlin. We now have more proof that Robert Mueller really does know everything about 2016—and I can exclusively tell you how he knows it.

This latest reveal comes from a legal screw-up of gargantuan proportions. Yesterday, attorneys for Paul Manafort, the president’s disgraced campaign manager for the decisive phase of the 2016 election, filed papers with the Justice Department trying to prevent their client from spending the rest of his life in a federal penitentiary. They asserted that Manafort did not lie to Team Mueller, as the Special Counsel believes, but in the process, they made an epic redaction fail that blows the case wide open.

Manafort’s lawyers accidentally revealed that Team Mueller believes—and Manafort confirmed—that their client shared campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, one of Manafort’s closest friends and a longtime business partner. Moreover, Manafort conceded, he had discussed a “Ukraine peace plan” with Kilimnik “on more than one occasion.” Worst of all, Manafort met with Kilimnik in Madrid to discuss these matters, he admitted, without saying when (Manafort’s spokesman later stated the Madrid meeting was in January or February 2017).

President Trump’s consistent “no collusion” claims, ailing for months as Mueller’s cards are revealed, one by one, are now officially moribund. Manafort has admitted that he was in touch with Kilimnik during and after Trump’s presidential run, regarding campaign matters, in what appears to be a clandestine back-channel between Team Trump and the Kremlin.

Mod: Don Trump Un probably isn't happy about the latest TV ratings news. Apparently more people watched the Democrats response to his wall address than watched him.

Democrats’ Response Beat Trump’s Oval Office Address in Preliminary Ratings ( link): Early TV viewership numbers seem to suggest that political audiences were less interested in Donald Trump‘s speech last night and more interested in what Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer had to say.

The president, the house speaker and the senate minority leader dominated the airwaves on Tuesday night with their dueling prime-time messages to the nation. Trump used his address to make his latest appeal for a wall and increased border security, but Pelosi and Schumer rebuked him by demanding an end to the government shutdown over his “manufactured” crisis.

On Wednesday morning, Fox Sports Executive Vice President Michael Mulvihill tweeted his assessment of combined ratings for the biggest national networks that carried the addresses. Judging by the numbers, Trump and the Democrat response tied in ratings on several channels, but the Democrats surpassed the president on more networks than he surpassed them.