Well, if the Wall Street Journal can be believed, the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election might be poised to break wide open. According to an article just posted by the Journal, General Michael Flynn, who served as Trump’s National Security Advisor until it became public knowledge that he’d lied about his communications with Russian operatives prior to Trump’s inauguration, has offered to testify in exchange for immunity. That’s right. Michael “lock her up” Flynn, who, not too long ago, said that immunity equals guilt, has requested immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony.
More interesting than the fact that Flynn has offered to testify in exchange for immunity, though, is the fact that, as least as of right now, it doesn’t look as though investigators have taken him up on the offer… which would lead one to believe that they either don’t feel that Flynn will give them what they want, or they’ve already got enough evidence against the administration that they don’t need him. Or, maybe, they’ve just decided to make him sweat for a while, considering the very real possibility of serving hard time in federal prison for lying to the FBI. Either way, it looks like the next few weeks are going to be incredibly interesting.
The question, it seems to me, isn’t whether or not someone will flip, but who will flip first… Let’s remember, not only Flynn, but Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone have all offered to testify as well. Sure, they could all lie under oath, but it only takes one of them to either lose their nerve, or make a mistake, for the whole thing to come crashing down, and, looking at these guys, I don’t think they’ve got got what it takes to keep up the lie. I mean, Carter Page looked like he was about to piss his pants last night, and he was just talking with the friendly folks at Fox News.
For what it’s worth, according to CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny, the White House isn’t talking. “Sean Spicer tells me the White House has no comment tonight on Michael Flynn immunity offer,” Zeleny just said on Twitter.
Devin Nunes has proven he’s more interested in defending Trump than finding the truth about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election
The White House categorically denied it today, but, according to reporting by the Washington Post, the Trump adminstration interceded to block former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee this morning. Her testimony, which had been scheduled some time ago as part of the Committee’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, was abruptly cancelled by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes on March 24, the day after Yates was sent a letter by Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department stating that she couldn’t testify without the approval of the White House, as her communications with Trump’s office were protected by the “presidential communication privilege.”
This, of course, directly contradicts what the White House, through spokesperson Sean Spicer said today. “The White House has taken no action to prevent Sally Yates from testifying,” Spicer said in a statement to Talking Points Memo this morning, “and the Department of Justice specifically told her that it would not stop her, and to suggest otherwise is completely irresponsible.”
Not only was Yates sent a letter telling her that she could not testify without the consent of the President, though. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes also cancelled the meeting where she was to have spoken… And, interestingly, he did so the morning after being summoned to a secret meeting at the White House, where he claims to have been shown “dozens of reports” indicating that “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.” While Nunes did say that this surveillance was done in accordance with U.S. law, many, including President Trump, took his comments as evidence that Obama had indeed ordered surveillance of the Trump team.
Trump, as you’ll recall, was taking a great deal of heat at the time Nunes shared this news, as politicians from both sides of the aisle, as well as journalists from across the political spectrum, had started questioning his assertion that the President Obama, in violation of U.S. law, had tapped his phones at Trump Tower… Even FBI director Comey, as you’ll recall, said under oath that the claim was essentially bullshit.
So, as this controversy was swirling, and people everywhere were demanding that Trump back up his baseless claims that his phones had been tapped by Obama, Nunes was summoned to the White House, where, according to him, he was shown evidence by a still unnamed source, that conversations at Trump Tower had in fact been taped. And he shared all of this the following morning at a very odd White House press conference, which had been set up without the knowledge of the other members of the House Intelligence Committee, giving Trump the opportunity to then follow up by saying that he felt vindicated.
So, here, to sum things up, is how things when down… FBI Director James Comey and NSA head Michael Rogers testified under oath before the House Intelligence Committee that there was not a shred of evidence to support Trump’s claim that Obama had order an illegal wire tap on his phones. Later that evening, Nunes, who, coincidentally, served on the Trump transition team, was called to the White House where, according to him, he was shown evidence of surveillance, allowing Trump to then say that he felt vindicated. And, it should be noted, Nunes still hasn’t either shared that evidence with his fellow members of the House Intelligence Committee, or, for that matter, told anyone who it was that shared this evidence with him on the grounds of the White House. And, as if that weren’t enough, Nunes also cancelled the testimony of Yates, who, according to Representative Adam Schiff, was prepared to testified about the Flynn “cover-up”, perhaps referring to the fact that Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, wasn’t removed from office the instant Yates made the administration aware of the fact that he’d been lying about the extent of his relationship with Putin’s government, opting instead to keep him in his position as head of national security until evidence of Flynn’s illegal activities was leaked to the press by individuals within the intelligence community.
So, not only did Nunes give Trump some degree of political cover, publicly offering the possibility that Trump was at least partially correct when he suggested that his phones had been tapped, but, more importantly, he kept Yates from the stand, where she would have testified to the extent of Flynn’s relationship with Russia, and the fact that Trump, when made aware of the situation, chose to do nothing.
Thankfully, the mainstream press and politicians of all stripes are beginning to turn on Nunes, demanding that he be removed from the Russia hearings… “He shouldn’t be anywhere near this investigation, let alone leading it,” Representative Eric Swalwell said of Nunes on MSNBC this afternoon. “This,” he added, “is what it looks like when you’re covering up a crime.” And Representative Adam Schiff, the committee’s ranking Democrat, came out yesterday and said that Nunes should recuse himself. “We’ve reached the point, after the events of this week, where it would be very difficult to maintain the credibility of the investigation if the chairman did not recuse himself from matters involving either the Trump campaign or the Trump transition team of which he was a member,” Schiff told CNN. And it’s not just the Democrats. Republican Walter Jones, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, today told reporters that he too thinks Nunes should step down.
We’ve let this go long enough. It’s clear to anyone paying attention that, until we get this out of the hands of men like Nunes, we’ll never get the answers that we deserve about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and whether or not there may have been collusion with the Trump campaign. We need to stop this nonsense immediately and demand a special prosecutor, and an independent commission.
If you agree, call your member of Congress today.
Almost every spare minute I’ve had these past several weeks have been spent at 209 Pearl Street, getting ready for the launch of Landline Creative Labs. Had this been happening at any other time in my life, I might be tempted to complain about the workload, but, given the political situation in the United States today, I’m finding it a welcomed distraction. If I weren’t spending my nights hauling garbage, mopping floors and painting walls, I’d probably just be at home, obsessively reading my newsfeed, scribbling incoherent notes while mumbling to myself. As it is, though, I’m kind of blissfully unaware, lacking both the time and the energy to worry, like I usually do, about the direction of the country. I’m sure that will change once we’re open, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts… With that said, though, I have, over the course of the past week or so, heard two stories about White House strategist Steve Bannon that I feel compelled to at least here, as I think they really demonstrate not only the confrontational nature of our emerging totalitarian government, but also their complete ineptitude.
First, it’s being reported that it was Bannon’s idea last week, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel was visiting the White House, to have President Trump present her with a bill for more than $300 billion, money supposedly owed to NATO by her country. The gesture, as you might imagine, was greeted with outrage by our allies… Regardless of whether or not it’s true that Germany has fallen short in its contributions to NATO since 2002, it was an incredibly crude and shortsighted gesture that, you can be sure, will have significant implications down the road. But, who knows… maybe it’s all part of the Putin’s masterplan to destroy NATO, the only entity he sees as a real threat to his ever-expanding power.
And, second, in case you missed it, apparently one big reason why the administration failed to rally Republican support for Trumpcare is that Bannon attempted to strong-arm the far-right members of the party, telling them that, if they didn’t vote for the legislation, he’d see them driven from office. [Word is that Bannon has started an “enemies list“.] According to reports, Bannon, addressing the members of the so-called Freedom Caucus, said, Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.” Well, it didn’t go over so well with the members of the group, who, it would seem, don’t care much for ultimatums. According to a story published the following day, one of the members replied to Bannon: “You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.” And, unsurprisingly, the administration had to pull the bill before it went to the floor of the House for a vote, as they knew it would fail to pass… I think former Congressman Joe Scarborough summed up the this showdown between Bannon and the Freedom Caucus on Twitter. “The dictatorial mindset is laughable,” he said. “They kicked his teeth in.”
I’m not suggesting, by sharing these stories, that Bannon isn’t a threat. He clearly is. The more time that goes by, though, the more I think it’s possible that his hubris and utter contempt for our institutions of government will be his undoing. This isn’t to say that serious damage won’t be done. It will be. Environmental safeguards will disappear. The gap between the rich and the poor in this country will expand. The military and our domestic police forces will grow as we stop funding the arts, services for the poor and elderly, etc. But I’m thinking that Bannon may fall short of his stated goal, which is to “destroy the state” through the systematic “deconstruction” of government. At least that’s my hope. I think, at the rate he’s going, he’ll wear out his welcome in D.C. pretty quickly.
A few days ago, I put out word through various channels that we were looking for a beautiful, mid-century modern sofa, preferably teal in color, for the front lobby of Landline Creative Labs, hoping that someone might come forward with something breathtakingly beautiful. Well, that didn’t happen.
So, for the time being, this will be our main sofa. It was acquired this afternoon about an hour north of Ypsi from the owners of an isolated house, at the end of a long dirt road, decorated exclusively in animal skulls and driftwood. At some point, if the opportunity should present itself, we may trade up, or have it reupholstered. In the meantime, though, this is it.
Let this be a warning to all you would be developers… Maybe sure you leave enough in your budget to afford furniture.
I should note, lest anyone be too afraid, that we are having it steam cleaned.