Thursday, January 31, 2019

Sarah Sanders: Donald Trump Is President Because God Wanted Him There

Mod: Somehow I am not sure God would agree.

Sarah Sanders: Donald Trump Is President Because God Wanted Him There (Huffington Post link): White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she believed God wanted Donald Trump to become president in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network Wednesday.

“I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president,” Sanders said. “And that’s why he’s there and I think he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about.”

She also called Trump the “most conservative president” America has ever had.

“There’s a reason evangelicals are sticking with the president, and that’s because he’s delivered on all the things he said he would do,” she added.

A key part of Trump’s base, white Evangelical Christians especially support the president’s call for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that 67 percent of white Evangelical Christians support Trump’s wall, according to the most recent Public Religion Research Institute poll taken in September 2018.

Sanders, the daughter of a Southern Baptist pastor-turned-governor, has spoken about her faith in the past. In an interview with Baptist Press last year, Sanders said she did not separate her faith from her work. “Because if you are a deep-rooted Christian, your faith is what defines you, and I think that’s something that I try to take with me in everything I do and certainly don’t separate that when I go to work every day,” she said.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Intel Called BS On Donald - U.S. Intelligence Chiefs Contradict Trump on North Korea and Iran

Mod: The word is that all US intelligence services are aware that they are fighting against both America's enemies and America's President.

On North Korea and Iran, Intelligence Chiefs Contradict Trump (New York Times link): A new American intelligence assessment of global threats has concluded that North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear stockpiles and that Iran is not, for now, taking steps necessary to make a bomb, directly contradicting the rationale of two of President Trump’s foreign policy initiatives.

Those conclusions are part of an annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment” released on Tuesday that also stressed the growing cyberthreat from Russia and China, which it said were now “more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s.”

The 42-page threat report found that American trade policies and “unilateralism” — central themes of Mr. Trump’s “America First” approach — have strained traditional alliances and prompted foreign partners to seek new relationships.

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee linked to the release of the report, the nation’s intelligence chiefs tried to avoid directly questioning administration policies. Yet they detailed a different ranking of the threats facing the United States, starting with cyberattacks and moving on to the endurance of the Islamic State and the capabilities of both North Korea and Iran.

Dan Coats, the national intelligence director, told lawmakers that the Islamic State would continue “to stoke violence” in Syria. He was backed up by the written review, which said there were thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria and a dozen Islamic State networks around the world.

Just last month, Mr. Trump said that “we have won against ISIS; we’ve beaten them, and we’ve beaten them badly” in announcing the withdrawal of American troops from Syria.

The starkest contradiction drawn by the intelligence chiefs was their assessment of North Korea.

Mr. Trump is expected to meet next month with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, in a second round of direct negotiations aimed at ridding Pyongyang of its nuclear weapons. After his last meeting, in Singapore, Mr. Trump tweeted that “there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”

Mr. Coats described his concerns in opposite terms. He cited “some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization,” adding that most of what North Korea has dismantled is reversible. He said the North’s “leaders ultimately view nu   clear weapons as critical to regime survival.”

Similarly, the threat review declared that “we currently assess North Korea will seek to retain its W.M.D. capability and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability.”

Mod: Ever stop to wonder why it is that when America's enemies interfere in US elections, they always do it to benefit the GOP?

U.S. intel agencies: Russia and China plotting to interfere in 2020 election (NBC News link): U.S. intelligence agencies assess that Russia and China will seek to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, having learned lessons from Russia's operation in 2016, according to the annual public survey of national security threats issued Tuesday. "We assess that foreign actors will view the 2020 U.S. elections as an opportunity to advance their interests," Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate intelligence committee at the worldwide threats hearing.

On political interference, the written assessment added that intelligence analysts expect American adversaries "to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other's experiences, suggesting the threat landscape could look very different in 2020 and future elections."

Political interference, using social media and cyber attacks, was scarcely mentioned in threat assessments before last year, but was listed second behind cyber attacks in Tuesday's array of the challenges facing U.S. national security policy-makers. "Russia's social media efforts will continue to focus on aggravating social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities, and criticizing perceived anti-Russia politicians," says the written threats assessment. "Moscow may employ additional influence toolkits—such as spreading disinformation, conducting hack-and- leak operations, or manipulating data—in a more targeted fashion to influence US policy, actions, and elections."

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

What a $5 Cup of Coffee Will Get You: Howard Schultz’s 2020 Presidential Flirtation Brutalized on Twitter

Mod: Probably the only good news Trump has gotten lately is that a fellow fatheaded billionaire wants to run for president as a "centrist independent." What former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz probably didn't anticipate was getting laughed off the Internet.

Howard Schultz’s 2020 Presidential Flirtation Brutalized on Twitter (The Daily Beast link): Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz took to Twitter Sunday to announce that he’s “seriously considering” running for president in 2020 as an independent. The billionaire’s announcement was quickly and brutally ripped by progressives—and some non-progressives too—who claimed that there were myriad better ways to help the country and that he’d likely help President Trump win re-election by jumping into the race.

“Running as an independent would be a catastrophic mistake,” said Matt Bennett, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and a co-founder of the center-left think tank, Third Way.

Schultz, who left Starbucks last summer, teased his announcement with a separate tweet, noting that his intention was to “share my truth” and “to listen to yours.”

“I love our country, and I am seriously considering running for president as a centrist independent,” he wrote. “This moment is like no other. Our two parties are more divided than ever. Let’s discuss how we can come together to create opportunities for more people.”

Almost immediately, angry replies rolled in. One of the most common criticisms echoed those in The Washington Post piece that first broke the news of Schultz’s consideration of the presidential bid—that running as an independent would divert crucial votes from the Democratic Party’s nominee and help Trump’s chances.

“I’m an American political historian and I can assure you that the only thing you’ll accomplish by running for president as a centrist independent is helping re-elect Donald Trump,” tweeted @KevinMKruse. “The consultants who are telling you you have any chance of doing anything other than embarrassing yourself and giving us four more years of Trump are blowing smoke up your ass because they want your money,” added @SethHanlon. “Give it to charity instead.”

For Schultz to launch a successful independent bid, he’d have to win over a good chunk of centrist-minded members of both parties. And in an interview on 60 Minutes Sunday night he offered support for Democratic objectives, including aggressive climate change legislation and comprehensive immigration reform, while striking conservative notes on the national debt and opposition to more socialized health care.

But the initial reaction online was more mockery than applause. “For all this said, it’s unbelievably arrogant for Howard Schultz to think that ‘Howard Schultz, as an independent, on a platform of deficit reduction, for president’ is the answer to any question that anybody has ever asked about anything,” wrote Nate Silver, editor-in-chief of the political and polling website FiveThirtyEight.

And even more people pointed out that if Schultz truly wants to help the country, there are better things he could do.

“Literally just get up tomorrow morning and match Bill Gates contributions to vaccines and you'll do more for the world than this entire vanity project,” wrote @pourmecoffee.

“Maybe some affordable housing for Seattle, too,” added @joanmccarter.

“Have you seriously considered using your wealth for more productive things, like starting an influencer-friendly music festival in the Bahamas,” @actioncookbook joked, adding, “I feel like you could pull it off where others have failed, and you also wouldn't be ruining an election.”

Monday, January 28, 2019

In Oakland speech, Kamala Harris launches White House bid with scathing assault on Trump

Mod: California Senator Kamala Harris launched her presidential campaign yesterday in Oakland in front of 20,000 excited supporters. One big topic? The Wall Nut, of course.  

In Oakland speech, Kamala Harris launches White House bid with scathing assault on Trump (Los Angeles Times link): Kamala Harris formally launched her Democratic bid for president Sunday with a blunt-force assault on President Trump and a promise to unify a country deeply riven along social, cultural and political lines.

Speaking from the steps of Oakland’s flag-bedecked City Hall plaza, to a crowd that spilled over several downtown blocks, Harris depicted her candidacy as a fight against those “trying to sow hate and division.”

“We are here at this moment in time because we must answer a fundamental question,” Harris said. “Who are we? Who are we as Americans? So let’s answer that question, America. We are better than this.”

Though Harris never mentioned Trump by name, it was abundantly clear she was painting a damning portrayal of the president and his actions.

“When we have leaders who bully and attack a free press and undermine our democratic institutions, that’s not our America,” said Harris, stabbing a finger in the air for emphasis. “When white supremacists march and murder in Charlottesville, or murder innocent worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue, that’s not our America.”

In one of her harshest attacks, she pointed to Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and an ongoing probe into possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign and its leaders. “We have foreign powers infecting the White House like malware,” she said to a roar from the partisan crowd.

It was just one in a litany of accusations delivered over 35 minutes, like a lawyer laying out her prosecutorial brief.

Kamala Harris says 'foreign powers infecting the White House like malware' (The Hill link): Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said Sunday that foreign powers are "infecting the White House like malware."

The California senator made the jab at President Trump during a rally in Oakland where she officially launched her 2020 campaign for president. In a speech, Harris touched on a range of subjects she said her campaign would be predicated on.

"I'm running to fight for an America where the economy works for all people. For an America where you only have to work one job to pay the bills," said Harris, whose campaign slogan is "Kamala Harris for the People."

In addition to her comments about foreign powers, Harris also appeared to condemn Trump over his rhetoric, sayin that "people in power are trying to convince us that the villain in our American story is each other."

Kamala Harris Draws Massive Crowd of 20,000+ To Campaign Kick Off ( link): Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) showed that she could draw a crowd to a rally as more than 20,000 showed up to her campaign kickoff event.

MSNBC reported from the scene, “I have covered a lot of these campaign kickoffs. This one looked really strong. The outpouring support of the hometown of Kamala Harris was extraordinary. 20,000 people, as you said, was the estimate by the county of how many people were actually in the perimeter. Outside the perimeter, the roads were lined with people they were just all over the place, blocks and blocks away, they couldn’t even see her and yet they came out from this big rally. From a crowd perspective, it was really, really strong.” 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Numbers show Trump lost the shutdown and Pelosi won

Mod: The final results? The autopsy is now in and it wasn't even close.

The numbers show Trump lost the shutdown and Pelosi won (CNN link): Poll of the week: An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that only 37% of Americans approve of the job President Donald Trump is doing. A significantly higher 58% disapprove. This makes for a net approval rating of -21 points. The previous ABC/Washington Post poll put Trump's net approval rating at -13 points, so his net approval rating fell by 8 points.

What's the point: Make no mistake: Trump lost the shutdown fight. The ABC News/Washington Post poll is merely the latest to show that Trump's approval rating was plummeting. In average of all recent polls, Trump's net approval rating had dropped 6 points compared to before the shutdown.

Moreover, it was clear that the longer the shutdown, the worse it was getting for Trump. Just two weeks ago (i.e. halfway into the shutdown), Trump's net approval rating had declined only 3 points. In other words, half the drop occurred in the last two weeks.

Trump's decline occurred during a time when Americans clearly blamed Trump and the Republicans for the shutdown. The ABC News/Washington Post, for instance, found that 53% thought Trump and the Republicans in Congress were to blame compared to 34% for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress. Other polls, depending on their wording, found a similar 20-point margin advantage for congressional Democrats vs. Trump and congressional Republicans on the shutdown.

Indeed, at the same time Trump's approval rating was declining, Pelosi's ratings were actually increasing. In an average of the five most recent polls taken, Pelosi's net favorability rose 3 points compared to where she was before the shutdown began. The average poll now consistently has Pelosi more popular than Trump.

Trump's biggest problem was the he was not able to make the case for the need for a border wall along the US-Mexico border. Americans still are overwhelmingly against the wall. In fact, CNN and Quinnipiac University showed no difference between wall support just before and after the shutdown. Before the shutdown, Americans were against the wall by a 15-point margin. Today, these pollsters put the margin at the same 15 points.

Meanwhile, Democrats were making gains on issues regarding immigration that historically have been good for Republicans. When Americans are typically asked about which party they trust more on "illegal immigration", they usually say Republicans. The ABC News/Washington Post poll reveals that Pelosi and Congressional Democrats were favored on illegal immigration by a 5-point margin over Trump and congressional Republicans.

Trump also lost ground when it came to border security (i.e. the way Trump wanted to frame the shutdown fight). Trump held a 10-point edge over congressional Democrats when voters were asked before the shutdown who they trusted more on border security. A Quinnipiac poll taken after the shutdown had congressional Democrats with a 5-point edge over Trump on border security. The ABC News/Washington Post poll asked a similar question and had congressional Democrats and Pelosi with a 2-point advantage. Both polls are double-digit gains for Democrats.

But perhaps the ultimate diss to Trump is what Fox News polling discovered. Voters think that Pelosi is better than Trump at "Washington gamesmanship" by 6 points, according to the latest Fox News poll. That has to hurt for Trump who is said to "relish" the gamesmanship with congressional Democrats.

Put another way, the shutdown turned Trump's strengths into weaknesses.

Know Your Traitors

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Ann Coulter Calls Donald Trump 'Biggest Wimp Ever To Serve As President' As Conservatives Blast Wall ‘Cave’

Mod: The lunatic right is now ditching their special  fat boy? Sure, and why not? They're just about as loyal as a Donald Trump porn star date.

Ann Coulter Calls Donald Trump 'Biggest Wimp Ever To Serve As President' As Conservative Media Blasts ‘Cave’ Over Wall (Newsweek link): Conservative media hammered President Donald Trump for his surprising announcement on Friday afternoon that he has agreed to reopen the federal government for three weeks while continuing to negotiate with Democrats to secure the southern border. The agreement came without funding for his border wall. Conservative political commentator and author Ann Coulter roasted Trump on Twitter without explicitly naming him.

“Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States,” Coulter tweeted.

The homepage of conservative website The Daily Caller featured the headline "TRUMP CAVES: President Will Temporarily Reopen Government With Zero Funding For The Wall,” calling the move “a serious reversal.”

Breitbart News’s headline was simple: “GOVERNMENT OPEN” and “NO WALL.” Drudge Report led with an all-caps “SHUTDOWN AGREEMENT REACHED, GOVT TO REOPEN TEMPORARILY,” below which was written in eye-grabbing red, “NO WALL FUNDS.”

The president’s ratings across polls—including the Rasmussen Report, which typically rates him more favorably than other surveys—had reached an all-time low during the longest government shutdown in the country’s history. Many polls also showed that more American voters blamed Trump for the shutdown than they did congressional Democrats.

Mod: And then there is the Roger Stone arrest. Do you still think Congress won't impeach Trump? Then you'd better read this.

Pelosi questions Trump's ties to Putin in wake of Stone arrest ( link): House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Friday in response to the arrest of longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, in which she claimed that Stone's indictment "makes clear that there was a deliberate, coordinated attempt by Trump campaign officials to influence the 2016 election and subvert the will of the American people ... It is staggering that the President has chosen to surround himself with people who violated the integrity of our democracy and lied to the FBI and Congress about it."

The big picture: Pelosi points out that the 37 indictments issued by Robert Mueller, as well Trump's repeated attempts to undermine the special counsel's investigation, raise questions about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The New York Times reported earlier this month that Trump has privately considered withdrawing from NATO, which Pelosi says would be a "massive victory for Putin."

"The indictment of Roger Stone makes clear that there was a deliberate, coordinated attempt by top Trump campaign officials to influence the 2016 election and subvert the will of the American people. It is staggering that the President has chosen to surround himself with people who violated the integrity of our democracy and lied to the FBI and Congress about it.

In the face of 37 indictments, the President's continued actions to undermine the Special Counsel investigation raises the questions: what does Putin have on the President, politically, personally or financially? Why has the Trump Administration continued to discuss pulling the U.S. out of NATO, which would be a massive victory for Putin?

Lying to Congress and witness tampering constitute grave crimes. All who commit these illegal acts should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We cannot allow any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from appearing before Congress.

The Special Counsel investigation is working, and the House will continue to exercise our constitutional oversight responsibility and ensure that the Special Counsel investigation can continue free from interference from the White House."

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Atlantic Magazine: Impeach Donald Trump

Mod: This is probably the best article making the case for impeaching Trump available so far. Trust me, it is not all about "collusion," or the Mueller investigation.

Impeach Donald Trump - Starting the process will rein in a president who is undermining American ideals—and bring the debate about his fitness for office into Congress, where it belongs. (The Atlantic Magazine link): On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump stood on the steps of the Capitol, raised his right hand, and solemnly swore to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. He has not kept that promise.

Instead, he has mounted a concerted challenge to the separation of powers, to the rule of law, and to the civil liberties enshrined in our founding documents. He has purposefully inflamed America’s divisions. He has set himself against the American idea, the principle that all of us—of every race, gender, and creed—are created equal.

This is not a partisan judgment. Many of the president’s fiercest critics have emerged from within his own party. Even officials and observers who support his policies are appalled by his pronouncements, and those who have the most firsthand experience of governance are also the most alarmed by how Trump is governing.

“The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naïveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate,” the late senator and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain lamented last summer. “The president has not risen to the mantle of the office,” the GOP’s other recent nominee, the former governor and now senator Mitt Romney, wrote in January.

The oath of office is a president’s promise to subordinate his private desires to the public interest, to serve the nation as a whole rather than any faction within it. Trump displays no evidence that he understands these obligations. To the contrary, he has routinely privileged his self-interest above the responsibilities of the presidency. He has failed to disclose or divest himself from his extensive financial interests, instead using the platform of the presidency to promote them. This has encouraged a wide array of actors, domestic and foreign, to seek to influence his decisions by funneling cash to properties such as Mar-a-Lago (the “Winter White House,” as Trump has branded it) and his hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. Courts are now considering whether some of those payments violate the Constitution.

More troubling still, Trump has demanded that public officials put their loyalty to him ahead of their duty to the public. On his first full day in office, he ordered his press secretary to lie about the size of his inaugural crowd. He never forgave his first attorney general for failing to shut down investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and ultimately forced his resignation. “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty,” Trump told his first FBI director, and then fired him when he refused to pledge it.

Trump has evinced little respect for the rule of law, attempting to have the Department of Justice launch criminal probes into his critics and political adversaries. He has repeatedly attacked both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. His efforts to mislead, impede, and shut down Mueller’s investigation have now led the special counsel to consider whether the president obstructed justice.

As for the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, Trump has repeatedly trampled upon them. He pledged to ban entry to the United States on the basis of religion, and did his best to follow through. He has attacked the press as the “enemy of the people” and barred critical outlets and reporters from attending his events. He has assailed black protesters. He has called for his critics in private industry to be fired from their jobs. He has falsely alleged that America’s electoral system is subject to massive fraud, impugning election results with which he disagrees as irredeemably tainted. Elected officials of both parties have repeatedly condemned such statements, which has only spurred the president to repeat them.

These actions are, in sum, an attack on the very foundations of America’s constitutional democracy.

The electorate passes judgment on its presidents and their shortcomings every four years. But the Framers were concerned that a president could abuse his authority in ways that would undermine the democratic process and that could not wait to be addressed. So they created a mechanism for considering whether a president is subverting the rule of law or pursuing his own self-interest at the expense of the general welfare—in short, whether his continued tenure in office poses a threat to the republic. This mechanism is impeachment.

Mod: The rest of this important article is available at the link.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

BuzzFeed News: Trump’s Lawyer Said There Were “No Plans” For Trump Tower Moscow. Here They Are.

Mod: Lunatic lawyer Rudy Giuliani said earlier this week that these plans didn't exist. In yet another blockbuster revelation, BuzzFeed News proves that they do.

Trump’s Lawyer Said There Were “No Plans” For Trump Tower Moscow. Here They Are. (BuzzFeed News link): The plan was dazzling: a glass skyscraper that would stretch higher than any other building in Europe, offering ultra-luxury residences and hotel rooms and bearing a famous name. Trump Tower Moscow, conceived as a partnership between Donald Trump’s company and a Russian real estate developer, looked likely to yield profits in excess of $300 million.

The tower was never built, but it has become a focal point of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Trump’s relationship with Russia in the lead-up to his presidency.

The president and his representatives have dismissed the project as little more than a notion — a rough plan led by Trump’s then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, and his associate Felix Sater, of which Trump and his family said they were only loosely aware as the election campaign gathered pace.

On Monday, his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said “the proposal was in the earliest stage,” and he went on to tell the New Yorker that “no plans were ever made. There were no drafts. Nothing in the file.”

However, hundreds of pages of business documents, emails, text messages, and architectural plans, obtained by BuzzFeed News over a year of reporting, tell a very different story. Trump Tower Moscow was a richly imagined vision of upscale splendor on the banks of the Moscow River.

According to a finalized letter of intent signed by Donald Trump on Oct. 28, 2015, the tower would have “approximately 250 first class, luxury residential condominiums.”

It would be located in Moscow City, a former industrial complex outside of the city center that has since been converted into an ambitious commercial district clustered with several of the tallest skyscrapers in Europe.

Its hotel portion would feature “approximately 15 floors” and contain “not fewer than 150 hotel rooms,” the letter of intent stated. The building would feature a luxury spa and fitness center, a commercial component “consistent with the overall luxury level of the Property,” and an office space “consistent with Class A luxury office properties,” as well as “luxury” parking.

Mod: The rest of the article, including a description of the fabulous "Spa By Ivanka," is available at the link.

Trump's approval at 34% in new AP/NORC poll (AP link): Overall, 34 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance in a survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. That’s down from 42 percent a month earlier and nears the lowest mark of his two-year presidency. The president’s approval among Republicans remains close to 80 percent, but his standing with independents is among its lowest points of his time in office.

Sixty percent of Americans say Trump bears a great deal of responsibility for the shutdown. About a third place the same amount of blame on congressional Democrats (31 percent) or Republicans (36 percent). Sixty-five percent of Americans, including 86 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents and 33 percent of Republicans, call the shutdown a major problem.

Trump may be popular overall with Republicans, but a sizable share holds him responsible for the current situation. Almost 3 in 10 Republicans think Trump bears a great deal of responsibility, while 73 percent of his party says he’s at least partly responsible.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Trump trails all Democratic candidates in 2020 election

Mod: 2020 doesn't look very good for Traitor Trump, no matter who he'll be running against.

Trump Polling At Only 41-42% Against Possible Democratic Foes (Public Policy Polling link): PPP's newest national poll finds that at the midway point of Donald Trump's term as President, he's a clear underdog for reelection.

Trump gets just 41 or 42% in head to head match ups against 7 likely Democratic candidates for President. He trails Joe Biden 53-41, Bernie Sanders 51-41, Kamala Harris 48-41, Beto O’Rourke 47-41, Elizabeth Warren 48-42, and Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand each 47-42.

Trump’s low 40s support for reelection essentially tracks with his approval numbers. Only 40% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 57% who disapprove.

“It really doesn’t matter which Democratic hopeful you test against him right now,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “Voters prefer any of them over Trump at halftime of his Presidency.”

The shutdown situation is not doing anything to help Trump’s cause. Only 35% of voters agree with Trump that the government should be kept closed until he gets funding for the wall to 60% who disagree. 57% think Congress should vote today to reopen the government without funding the wall, to 38% who are opposed. 55% of voters pin the blame for the shutdown on Trump and the Republicans in Congress to 43% who blame the Democrats in Congress.

And on a related note about who’s coming out ahead in the shutdown, voters say they’d prefer to have either Chuck Schumer (46-41) or Nancy Pelosi (47-44) over Trump as President.

As the Russia investigation heats up, 45% of voters think Trump has committed crimes since he began running for President to 41% who don’t think he has. And if the Mueller investigation does find that Trump committed a crime 61% think he should be indicted and prosecuted in the courts, to just 30% who disagree. Already there is 46% support for impeachment, to 44% of voters who are opposed.

“We are still waiting on the findings of the Mueller investigation,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But voters are expecting him to find that Trump has committed crimes, and they want him to be prosecuted for them.”

Trump has tried over the course of his Presidency to use the media as a foil, much as he did with Hillary Clinton during his campaign. It’s not particularly working though- voters trust CBS more than him 52/38, trust NBC and the Washington Post more 51/38, trust ABC and the New York Times more 51/39, and trust CNN more 49/39.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Rudy Giuliani walks back statements on Trump Tower Moscow talks

Mod: More evidence that there is nothing left in the brain box of Rudy G. except broken glass and bug dust.

Giuliani walks back statements on Trump Tower Moscow talks (Politico link): Rudy Giuliani on Monday walked back statements he made this weekend concerning potential conversations between then-candidate Donald Trump and Michael Cohen about plans to construct a Trump Tower in Moscow ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Giuliani, the former New York mayor and current attorney for the president, said during an interview Sunday on NBC that discussions between Trump and his ex-fixer regarding the project may have lasted up until Election Day.

“It's our understanding that they went on throughout 2016,” Giuliani said, adding that “there weren't a lot of them, but there were conversations. Can't be sure of the exact dates, but the president can remember having conversations with him about it."

Giuliani sought to retract those remarks in a statement to reporters Monday.

“My recent statements about discussions during the 2016 campaign between Michael Cohen and then-candidate Donald Trump about a potential Trump Moscow ‘project’ were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the President,” Giuliani said. “My comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions. The point is that the proposal was in the earliest stage and did not advance beyond a free non-binding letter of intent.”

The discussion of the timeline of Trump's proposed project feeds into the concerns of political opponents who fear that the president was, and might still be, too close to Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

George Conway Mocks Rudy Giuliani's Backpedaling With Brutal 5-Word 'Translation' (Huffington Post link): George Conway, attorney and husband to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, isn’t buying Rudy Giuliani’s latest defense of President Donald Trump. On Monday, Giuliani tried to walk back his previous claim that Trump had conversations about a possible Trump Tower project in Moscow throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

On “Meet the Press,” the former New York City mayor said that Trump can “remember having conversations” on the subject with disgraced former attorney Michael Cohen throughout 2016. “There weren’t a lot of them, but there were conversations,” said Giuliani, who is an attorney for Trump. “Can’t be sure the exact date. ... Probably up to ― could be up to as far as October, November.”

But on Monday, Giuliani said his comments were “hypothetical” and “not based on conversations” with Trump. Conway offered a “translation” of Giuliani’s comments, summing it all up in just five words:

Monday, January 21, 2019

Mike Pence slammed for quoting Martin Luther King to defend Trump's wall proposal

Mod: The oftentimes sanctimonious and sly Mike "No Sense" Pence has been known to figuratively take the Lord's name in vain when attempting to justify his reactionary political agenda. So why wouldn't he try and abuse the reputation of one of God's more notable servants, and just before the national holiday that celebrates his birth? 

Pence slammed for quoting King to defend wall proposal (NBC News link): Vice President Mike Pence was harshly criticized on Sunday for quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in his most famous speech in defending President Donald Trump's efforts to persuade Congress to fund construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday — a day before the federal holiday honoring King Pence quoted a passage from King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Aug. 28, 1963: "One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was 'Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.'"

Speaking of King, the vice president went on: "You think of how he changed America. He inspired us to change through the legislative process, to become a more perfect union. That's exactly what President Trump is calling on Congress to do — come to the table in the spirit of good faith," Pence said. "We'll secure our border. We'll reopen the government, and we'll move our nation forward, as the president said yesterday, to even a broader discussion about immigration reform in the months ahead."

Left unnoted was that, barely a year later, in a speech in East Berlin, King specifically addressed the subject of the Berlin Wall, which divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. "Here on either side of the wall are God's children, and no manmade barrier can obliterate that fact," he said at St. Mary's Church on Sept. 13, 1964.

Reaction was swift and sharp. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia's Democratic non-voting delegate to Congress, tweeted: "We can't allow Vice President Pence to get away with cleansing the president on Martin Luther King's birthday."

The NAACP, which King served as an executive board member in Montgomery, Alabama, called the remarks "an insult to Dr. King's legacy."

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., likewise called Pence's use of King's words "beyond disgraceful."

Meanwhile, Ibram X. Kendi, founder and director of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University in Washington, noted Pence's comments and tweeted: "They 'honor' MLK every year by assassinating who he was."

What Martin Luther King Jr. Said About Walls During His 1964 Visit to Berlin ( link): Berlin was perhaps destined to be a meaningful place for Martin Luther King Jr.; it was the city that, in some ways, gave him his name. And for a man who preached against walls that “divided humanity,” a 1964 visit to the then-three-year-old Berlin Wall, which divided the Soviet-occupied East side of the city and the U.S.-occupied West side of the city, offered a chance to add another layer to that significance.

The visit came about after West Berlin’s Mayor Willy Brandt invited King to participate in a memorial ceremony for President John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated the year prior, less than six months after his own famous visit there. King also received an invitation to speak in East Berlin from Heinrich Grüber, who had been a pastor at a church there and a prisoner in a concentration camp for three years during World War II for openly criticizing the Nazi Party.

“It is indeed an honor to be in this city, which stands as a symbol of the divisions of men on the face of the earth,” he told East Berliners. “For here on either side of the wall are God’s children and no man-made barrier can obliterate that fact. Whether it be East or West, men and women search for meaning, hope for fulfillment, yearn for faith in something beyond themselves, and cry desperately for love and community to support them in this pilgrim journey.”

Mod: Much more can be found at the link.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Colossal Irony of Trump Citing Mueller to Defend Himself Against Buzzfeed

Mod: It is pretty widely known that Trump has now been reduced to engaging in bunker rescue fantasies, but this has become bizarre even by his standards. Since when did Mueller, the guy whose legitimacy he has questioned in thousands of crazy tweets, become his source for legitimacy and salvation?

Trump thanks Mueller for disputing BuzzFeed report that claims president directed Cohen to lie (USA Today link): President Donald Trump took an unusual step Saturday: He thanked Robert Mueller.

Normally a critic over the Russia investigation, Trump said he is gratified that Mueller and the special counsel's office disputes a highly publicized news report that had accused the president of ordering former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

"I appreciate the special counsel coming out with a statement last night," the president told reporters at the White House. "I think it was very appropriate that they did so, I very much appreciate that."

In a rare public statement, Mueller's office on Friday criticized a BuzzFeed News report saying that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the timing of talks on a proposed Trump project in Russia. "BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate," said Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller's office.

Mod: Of course, Trump hasn't really been exonerated by Mueller. Quite the opposite. Despite Dolt 45's claims. Check this out.

Report reveals why Mueller acted Friday - To make it easier to take 45 down (Empty Wheel link): Yesterday, Mueller’s spox Peter Carr issued a statement vaguely denying Thursday’s Buzzfeed story claiming that Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie.

BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.

Clearly, there are parts of the story that are correct, in that they provide specific details that match the vague ones Mueller himself has released.

The new details in the story include a price tag for the Trump Tower detail: Trump, “hoped could bring his company profits in excess of $300 million” (Mueller’s sentencing memorandum stated that the deal might be worth “hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues”).  It quantifies how many times Trump and Cohen spoke about the deal: Trump, “had at least 10 face-to-face meetings with Cohen about the deal during the campaign.” It also confirms that Don Jr and Ivanka were the “family members” described in Cohen’s allocution who were apprised of the details.

That, by itself, suggests that Buzzfeed’s sources have direct access to some of this evidence.

But one thing Mueller is almost certainly responding to is a claim that puts blame for the lies Cohen told to Congress on Trump. Michael Cohen is under oath saying not that Trump ordered him to lie, but that he lied to match the messaging that Trump was using.

By 2017 I was no longer employed in this capacity, but continued to serve on several matters as an attorney to the former CEO of the Trump Organization and now President of the United States, who is referred to as Individual 1 in the information.

As I had in the years before the election, I continued in 2017 to follow the day-to-day political messaging that both Individual 1 and his staff and advisers repeatedly broadcast, and I stayed in close contact with these advisers to Individual 1. As such, I was aware of Individual 1’s repeated disavowals of commercial and political ties between himself and Russia, his repeated statements that investigations of such ties were politically motivated and without evidence, and that any contact with Russian nationals by Individual 1’s campaign or the Trump Organization had all terminated before the Iowa Caucus, which was on February 1 of 2016.

In 2017, I was scheduled to appear before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence concerning matters under their investigation, including principally whether Russia was involved in or interfered in the 2016 campaign and election.

In connection with my appearances, I submitted a written statement to Congress, including, amongst other things, a description of a proposed real estate project in Moscow that I had worked on while I was employed by the Trump Organization.

That description was false — I knew at the time — in that I had asserted that all efforts concerning the project had ceased in January of 2016 when, in fact, they had continued through June of 2016;

That I had very limited discussions with Individual 1 and others in the company concerning the project, when in fact I had more extensive communications; and,

Lastly, that I had never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the project and had never asked Individual 1 to travel, when in fact I took steps to and had discussions with Individual 1 about travel to Russia.

And I would like to note that I did not in fact travel there, nor have I ever been to Russia.

I made these misstatements to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1. [my emphasis]

That’s a point I made yesterday: Buzzfeed’s story materially differed from the sworn testimony in the case, and even if their sources were right that, in fact, Trump sanctioned Cohen’s lie, they should have explained why Mueller says differently.

Notably, Cohen’s allocution says that he “stayed in close contact with these advisers to Individual 1,” not that he was talking to Trump directly. It’d be hard (though by no means impossible) to have been ordered directly by Trump to lie if he was no longer in day-to-day contact with Trump.

Mod: You might want to go to the link and read the whole thing.