Because I know I’ll never have another opportunity to use the tag #MagooPorn

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Unraveling Trump’s Twitter thread on Maggie Haberman, a woman he talks to all the time, but hardly knows, and never speaks with.

Donald Trump went nuts on Twitter again this morning. It would seem that he didn’t like Maggie Haberman’s most recent piece in the New York Times, titled, “Michael Cohen Has Said He Would Take a Bullet for Trump. Maybe Not Anymore.” Following, in case you missed it, is a bit of Trump’s irate thread.

As for what specifically set Trump off, one assumes he didn’t like Haberman’s central premise, which is that Trump’s “fixer”, Michael Cohen, now that he’s facing a litany of criminal charges, may be considering the possibility of turning on the President and cooperating with special prosecutor Robert Mueller… Here’s an excerpt from Haberman’s piece, which was co-authored by Sharon LaFraniere and Danny Hakim.

…For years Mr. Trump treated Mr. Cohen poorly, with gratuitous insults, dismissive statements and, at least twice, threats of being fired, according to interviews with a half-dozen people familiar with their relationship.

“Donald goes out of his way to treat him like garbage,” said Roger J. Stone Jr., Mr. Trump’s informal and longest-serving political adviser, who, along with Mr. Cohen, was one of five people originally surrounding the president when he was considering a presidential campaign before 2016.

Now, for the first time, the traffic may be going Mr. Cohen’s way. Mr. Trump’s lawyers and advisers have become resigned to the strong possibility that Mr. Cohen, who has a wife and two children and faces the prospect of devastating legal fees, if not criminal charges, could end up cooperating with federal officials who are investigating him for activity that could relate, at least in part, to work he did for Mr. Trump…

OK, so let’s address these comments of Trump’s point by point.

First, we have his assertion that Haberman is a “third rate reporter” who he has “nothing to do with.” Well, as Haberman just won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting, I suspect that makes her at least second rate, and Trump has known her for well over a decade, since she was covering him for the New York Post and the Daily News, when he was just a failing New York real estate developer with a third rate reality television show. And they do talk… quite a bit, actually. In fact, Haberman is known in journalistic circles as the “Trump whisperer,” as she’s proven to be the most able of those covering the White House to coax information from Trump and members of his inner circle… Here the two are together not too long ago.

Speaking of the closeness between Haberman and Trump, check out the following excerpt from Vanity Fair.

No one embodies the surreal, codependent, often abusive relationship between the media and Donald Trump as much as Maggie Haberman, the most prominent White House correspondent for the publication Trump likes to call “The Failing New York Times.” Much as he professes to despise the Times—“total fiction,” he’s called it—he can’t quit Haberman. He returns her calls, gives her exclusives. “He wouldn’t talk to me as much as he does if I wasn’t at the Times,” Haberman said on a podcast recently. “That’s just the reality. He craves the paper’s approval.”

…Haberman’s signature is her preternatural ability to get lots of people telling her lots of things they probably shouldn’t be telling her. She’s regarded as the best-sourced reporter in Washington, the irony being that she only spends part of her time there, working largely out of her home turf in New York. She’s able not only to get inside the room with Trump, but to seemingly get inside his brain—to translate for the masses what he and the people around him at any given moment are thinking about the crisis or controversy du jour. That skill has made her incredibly valuable at a time when juicy, granular, inside-the-room dish has gained massive journalistic currency—Trump watching cable news in his bathrobe, Trump in a foul mood for this reason or that, and so on.

…Haberman had occasionally covered Trump, in his capacity as a vulgar real-estate mogul and man-about-town, during her time at the New York Post and the Daily News. But it wasn’t until Haberman’s Politico days that her connection with Future President Trump began to take root. She’d gotten wind of his early White House flirtations at the beginning of 2011 through—who else? — G.O.P. political svengali Roger Stone. In a wide-ranging interview, Stone told Haberman that Trump had a $2 billion war chest, that he was seriously weighing a run and that it wasn’t just a publicity stunt, as well as various other things that all sounded totally crazy at the time. The next day, Trump called Haberman himself to pour a bit of cold water on Stone’s remarks. “I appreciate all of the nice things he’s been saying, but he does not represent me,” Trump told her. “And he is not an adviser to my potential campaign.” The relationship took off from there…

So, while it’s true that Haberman has authored some pieces that could be deemed to be critical of Trump, it’s certainly not the case that she’s a Hillary Clinton “flunkie.” In fact, quite a few folks have questioned her coziness with Trump, and feel as though her humanizing, insufficiently critical portraits of Trump on the campaign trail helped get him elected. [Haberman, it should be noted, also promoted the anti-Clinton email server conspiracy theory in her pieces for the New York Times.] But it looks as though the good times may have officially come to an end with the publication of this piece today.

As for the New York Times consciously “going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with (Trump)” in the hopes that he’ll flip, Trump may be right. Maybe there’s some truth to it. Perhaps the folks at the New York Times really do feel bad about not being critical enough of Trump in the run up to the election, and, as a result, they’ve decided to set things right by consciously targeting Cohen, reminding him of the fact that Donald Trump has treated him like shit for the past 15 years. I suspect, however, given what I’ve read of Trump’s treatment of subordinates, that he probably didn’t need reminding.

As for the “non-existent sources” and the “drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael,” according to Haberman, the President is referring to Sam Nunberg, his former aide, and friend of Roger Stone’s, who lost his mind back in March, and started going on cable news shows talking about how Trump “may very well have done something during the election with the Russians.” Here’s Haberman’s tweet, identifying Nunberg as the object of Trump’s anger, and suggesting that Trump went after Nunberg instead of Stone, who was also quoted in today’s New York Times piece, because he’s afraid of Nixon’s former rat-fucker.

Later, when former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara asked Haberman on Twitter if she was serious about Trump being afraid of Roger Stone, Haberman replied with a simple, “For years.”

Now, that brings us to, “Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories.” While Trump goes on to say that he doesn’t see Cohen doing that, it’s clear that he’s getting ready for that possibility and planting the seed that Cohen might make something up just to save himself from prison.

Oh, and, just in case Cohen didn’t get the message a few days ago when Scooter Libby was pardoned, Trump tweeted again today about his willingness to dole out pardons.

It’s like Trump is saying, “Yes, Michael, I may have treated you like shit, and called you a big dummy… And maybe I didn’t pay you back when you sent that hush money to Stormy Daniels, like I told you that I would… but did you see the part in this tweet where I talked about how ‘I have always liked and respected’ you? I really do love you, man. Oh, and check out the part where I said, ‘I am considering a Full Pardon!’ You know who I’m talking to, right?”

As for all of this being a “Witch Hunt,” I’d just like to remind everyone that, as of right now, the Mueller probe has already resulted in 5 guilty pleas and 19 indictments for things ranging all the way to “Conspiracy against the United States.” This isn’t the Clinton e-mail server investigation, or the Benghazi investigation. This is a real investigation of very real crimes.

I could go on, but I think I’ll stop there. I just find all of this so incredibly crazy… the idea that Trump is so rattled right now that he’s saying that he doesn’t talk with Maggie Haberman, telling us that Cohen may lie in order to save himself, and attacking a former aide for being a drug-addicted loser. [#AllTheBestPeople] I knew, the more the net tightened around Trump, the more he’d lash out, and the more insane things would get, but it feels like we’re now just one news story about Cohen working with Mueller away from everything going completely off the rails.

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Rudy Giuliani to “negotiate an end” to the Mueller probe

At the moment, I’m reading through the just released Comey memos, but I wanted to take a quick break, and share some good news. It looks as though our long national nightmare may finally be coming to an end. The White House today announced that former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani would be joining the President’s legal team, where he’d be leading the effort to bring the Mueller investigation to a successful conclusion. Giuliani, Trump said in a statement, would be working to get the whole matter “quickly resolved for the good of the country.” Echoing these comments, Giuliani told the Washington Post this afternoon that, as Trump had stated, he’d been brought onboard to “negotiate an end” to the Mueller probe. So, now, I think it’s safe to say, it’s just a matter of time. Within a few days at most, I predict all of the uncertainty and chaos of the past year will be behind us, and we’ll all be raising a glass to Rudy Giuliani… our nation’s greatest legal mind… the one man capable of sorting out the misunderstandings upon which the Mueller probe was constructed.

OK, as we all know, that’s never going to happen… This isn’t the kind of thing that one can negotiate an end to. We’re not talking about a first offense for possession of pot. The Mueller probe already has 19 indictments and 5 guilty pleas, and the charges include “Conspiracy against the United States.” You could be the best negotiator in the world… a veritable Donald Trump, if you will… and you still couldn’t negotiate an end to this. As Mueller has told us very clearly, he “like(s) putting people in jail“, and he’s not going to stop until the entire Trump crime family has been completely dismantled.

Some, however, seem to think that Giuliani might succeed where so many others have failed. [Trump’s last attorney, as you may recall, only lasted a day.] Fox News contributor Charles Lane, for example, today said, “Maybe there is honestly some new thinking in the White House about the best approach here, that maybe if you bring in Rudy Giuliani as a whole new face to sit down with Mueller and say, ‘okay let’s cut a deal of some kind here,’…You can’t rule it out.

By that same logic, why not try something really new, like hiring a mime or a circus clown to negotiate with Mueller, or maybe an actor who played an attorney on television? [The last time I checked, Scott Baio was still available.]

But, yes, let’s suspend reality for a moment and try to imagine a world in which the team responsible for this video is the team to bring us closure it what’s probably the largest, most intricate criminal probe in Department of Justice history.

All kidding aside, there is one good thing about all of this. It’ll put Giuliani in a room with Mueller, where, one imagines, the two will discuss just how it came to be that Giuliani knew that the FBI would be reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server just before the election, and the extent to which Giuliani coordinated with anti-Clinton agents within the New York City FBI field office to make it happen.

Oh, one last thing… Speaking of the just released Comey memos, he was on Rachel Maddow’s show this evening discussing them. I particularly enjoyed this exchange, in which the former head of the FBI confirms that Donald Trump told him, shortly after taking office, that he and Putin had spoken in the past about Russian hookers. [As you’ll recall, Trump has said in the past that he and Putin had never spoken prior to his becoming president.]

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Mitch McConnell says he won’t bring bi-partisan legislation protecting Robert Mueller to the floor of the Senate for a vote

As the family is out of the house this evening, I’ve decided to just lay here on the couch, in front of the fireplace, and study up on Jerry Lewis look-alike Sammy Petrillo, the star of Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. [That’s Steve Calvert as the gorilla above.] As I seriously doubt that any of you would enjoy the trip down that particular rabbit hole, though, here’s something that you might want to discuss in my absence. Yesterday, on Fox News, Mitch McConnell said that he would not be bringing the bipartisan bill to protect Robert Mueller to the floor of the Senate for a vote. “I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor,” the Majority Leader said. “That’s my responsibility as majority leader, (and) we’ll not be having this on the floor of the Senate.” Here’s the video, followed by a tweet from Congressman Adam Schiff, who, as you might imagine, was disappointed, if not shocked, to hear that McConnell had chosen to defend Donald Trump over the rule of law.

Regardless of what McConnell may have said, it looks as though the Senate Judiciary Committee has every intention of pursuing their bill to protect special council Robert Mueller. Saying, “I can’t worry about what’s going on on the floor,” Chuck Grassley, the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said this afternoon that he’d continue to push the legislation forward. “Last fall,” Grassley told reporters, “I said we’re not going to do anything in this area unless you get together.” And, as Senators on both sides of the aisle worked together in good faith to create a bi-partisan bill, Grassley went on to say, “I feel an obligation to keep my word and move forward.” And, it would appear that the Democrats haven’t given up hope either.

I hope the Judiciary Committee moves forward with a bill, and that members of Senator McConnell’s caucus push him to reconsider,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “We ought to head off a constitutional crisis at the pass, rather than waiting until it’s too late.”

And, with that, I’m leaving the real world behind, and diving into the history of Sammy Petrillo, the man who claimed to have come up with the idea for The Munsters… the man who Jerry Lewis fought to keep out of Hollywood… the man who Jerry Lewis hated more than any man on earth. For those who would like to join me, I’ll be starting with the November 12, 1950 episode of the The Colgate Comedy Hour starring Martin and Lewis (Petrillo makes his television debut opposite Lewis at around the 26 minute mark) and highlights from Keyholes are for Peeping (NSFW), and then moving on to Beyond Vaudeville episode 7 and Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. We’ll see if I can stay up late enough to make it all the way through. Wish me luck.

By the way, it sucks that we now live in a world where I can’t just post about Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. Trump really has ruined everything.

[I suspect it’s quite likely that this is the only blog post being written in the world right now about both the career of Sammy Patrillo and the Mueller investigation. I just wish I had a more clever way to weave the two things together… If only Matthew Calamari, Jr., the Trump security guy who some are speculating might have been the man who accosted Stormy Daniels and her young daughter in that Las Vegas parking structure, had been nicknamed “The Brooklyn Gorilla,” I could have tied this up really nicely. Sadly, though, the universe does not always come through for me.]

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Nikki Haley promises that Russian sanctions are coming, and the Trump administration responds by saying that she was suffering from “momentary confusion”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Face the Nation this past Sunday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would soon be announcing sanctions against Russian companies known to have aided in the development of Bashar al-Assad’s chemical warfare capabilities. The Trump administration, she said, would be sending a “strong message” over the next 24 hours. Well, it’s now two full days later, and that message still hasn’t come. What’s more, it likely never will.

Here’s Ambassador Haley on Face the Nation.

According to several sources within the White House, while Trump had approved of these sanctions against Russian companies, he changed his mind at some point on Sunday, after Haley was on Face the Nation. And, on Monday, as White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders was walking back Haley’s promise of decisive action, and telling reporters that Trump and his team were still “considering additional sanctions on Russia,” and that “a decision will be made in the near future”, a Russian Foreign Ministry official informed the press that, sometime after Haley’s comments were made, a representative of the Trump administration had contacted the Russian Embassy in Washington, telling them not to worry, that the sanctions would not be coming. And, then, today, the White House sent out Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, to tell reporters that Haley had been wrong on Sunday, and that Trump had never agreed to issuing sanctions. The Ambassador, Kudlow said, was suffering from “momentary confusion” when she said that Mnuchin would be announcing sanctions. Well, this, as you might imagine, didn’t exactly sit well with Haley, who just responded, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”

So, yet once again, it would seem that our president, after agreeing with members of his foreign relations team to take a stand against Russia, has decided not to follow through. And, what’s more, he’s apparently decided to throw his United Nations Ambassador under the bus rather than personally own up to the fact that he approved sanctions, and then quickly abandoned the idea.

As for why Trump made this dramatic turn on Sunday, I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that it was on this same day that he’d discovered that we’d expelled significantly more Russian diplomats than any of our allies when it became known that Putin had deployed nerve agent on British soil in an attempt to kill a former Russian spy. This, according to reporting in the Washington Post, made Trump “furious”… Here’s an excerpt from that must-read report.

President Trump seemed distracted in March as his aides briefed him at his Mar-a-Lago resort on the administration’s plan to expel 60 Russian diplomats and suspected spies.

The United States, they explained, would be ousting roughly the same number of Russians as its European allies — part of a coordinated move to punish Moscow for the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil.

“We’ll match their numbers,” Trump instructed, according to a senior administration official. “We’re not taking the lead. We’re matching.”

The next day, when the expulsions were announced publicly, Trump erupted, officials said. To his shock and dismay, France and Germany were each expelling only four Russian officials — far fewer than the 60 his administration had decided on.

The president, who seemed to believe that other individual countries would largely equal the United States, was furious that his administration was being portrayed in the media as taking by far the toughest stance on Russia…

While I suppose it may be possible that the most obvious explanation isn’t the correct one here, it certainly seems as though our president, more than anything else, is motivated by an intense fear that Vladimir Putin may judge his actions as hostile. And, if that’s the case, one has to wonder why… What could it possibly be that Putin has on Trump that would cause him to act in such a way? What would instill such fear in an American president?

For what it’s worth, our President just took to Twitter to reassert that the Russia investigation is “phony,” and that it had nothing to do with why he fired FBI Director James Comey. This, of course, is a lie, at least on one count. As we all know, Donald Trump said very clearly last May to Lester Holt on national television that he fired Comey because he refused to end the Russia investigation. Here’s his exact quote: “In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’”

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