It looks as though Trump really did ghostwrite Don Jr.’s laughably pathetic letter attempting to explain his Trump Tower meeting with Russians as having been about international adoption policy

By now we’ve all read at least a significant portion of the Michael Wolff book, right? If not, please turn away from your computer for a minute, as what I’m about to say might be considered something of a spoiler… The biggest takeaway from Fire and the Fury, as least as I see it, isn’t that we elected a man to lead our country who is manifestly unfit, in both intelligence and temperament, to do so, but that this opinion is apparently universally shared by every single person to have ever come into contact with the man, even his closest associates and family members. I wasn’t at all shocked to hear that Trump didn’t know who John Boehner was, when the former Speaker of the House was suggested as a potential Chief of Staff, or that Trump didn’t have the attention span to make it past the 4th amendment when a well-meaning advisor attempted to explain the Constitution to him. All that, while completely horrifying, was stuff that I completely expected when I heard that Michael Wolff had been given unregulated access to the White House. [Functioning, disciplined White Houses, for what it’s worth, don’t allow guys like Wolff to just hang around, having casual conversations with people, collecting dirt.] What I didn’t expect, however, was the fact that almost everyone Wolff spoke with inside the White House seemed to be in agreement not only that the administration was a colossal shitshow, but that this uninquisitive, selfish and cruel baby-man who they served, was, far from being “a very stable genius,” actually a danger to our nation. But I don’t want to talk about any of that right now. No, I just want to focus on one specific story from the Wolff book – the story of how it was decided that, when it became known that the New York Times was about to release their story about Kushner, Trump Jr. and Manafort taking a meeting with Russian agents at Trump Tower during the election, the President himself decided that they should try to play it all off like the three people running the campaign just decided to take some time away from the race to discuss the plight of Russian orphans.

Before we get to that, though, I just want to say that obstruction of justice is something we’ve already seen from Donald Trump multiple times. Trump himself told Lester Holt on network television that he fired FBI Director Jim Comey because he wouldn’t stop the Russia investigation. And, the day after firing Comey, in a secret meeting that the press wasn’t made aware of, Trump pretty much said the same thing to the Russian ambassador at the White House. Then, of course, there was the time when he pretty much admitted to not coming forward and telling the Department of Justice when he knew that his national security advisor, Michael Flynn, had been lying to investigators about his communications with the Russians. And, thanks to the reporting of the New York Times this past week, we know that Trump also tried to interfere and stop Sessions from recusing himself from all things Russia-related, as he wanted an Attorney General who could stop the investigation. [Trump, accounting to multiple New York Times sources, sent White House counsel Don McGahn to stop Sessions from recusing himself.] So the story I’m about to share shouldn’t shock you. We know that Trump is guilty of obstruction already. This is just one more example, although, perhaps, a more interesting one, as it involves Ivanka drugging herself to avoid participation… Here, from the Fire and Fury, is the story of how it came to be that Donald Trump Jr. issued his statement telling everyone that, while it was true that he, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner – the three top members of the Trump 2016 campaign – had taken a meeting with Russians at Trump Tower prior to the election, they only did so out of concern for Russian orphans.

So, if we’re to believe Wolff, as I do in this instance, everyone on Air Force One fought to get as far as possible away from the President, as he, Hope Hicks, and possibly Jared Kushner, came up with a plan to lie about the purpose of the July 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, in spite of the fact that they knew damn well that the Times already had the email chain which proceeded the meeting, in which the Russians promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. Ivanka, knowing what was going down, made it a point to tell everyone that she was taking a sleeping pill and leaving. And the President’s other most trusted advisors went off to watch the movie Fargo, which, ironically, is about a poorly-conceived-of crime perpetrated by stupid people who are eventually caught.

And, as Wolf says later in the book, not only does the President’s former advisor, Steve Bannon, think the Trump Tower meeting was in itself “treasonous,” but, for what it’s worth, he thinks Trump Jr. probably brought the lawyer from the Russian mob and her associates upstairs to meet with Donald Trump himself. “The chance that Don Jr. did not walk these Jumos up to his father’s office of the 26th floor is zero,” Bannon apparently told Wolff.

Will this be enough to make a difference? Almost surely not. The Republicans know that Trump is guilty of obstruction, and yet they’ve chosen to do nothing. As long as he’s not attacking them with degrading nicknames, and signing the legislation they put in front of him, Republicans in Congress just don’t care. Even the ones, like Lindsey Graham, who were once fairly outspoken about Trump, have now come back to the fold. Bob Corker, in fact, who just referred to the White House as an adult daycare facility a few weeks ago, travelled with Trump to Tennessee today, where they appeared to be the best of friends.

Just imagine for a moment if Obama had done any one of these things. Just close you eyes and imagine him allowing one of his daughters to take his seat at a conference of international leaders while he ran off to Air Force One to dictate a fake explanation for why his other daughter had met with a foreign agent who had promised the hacked emails of his chief political adversary… But, because all of this is pretty much happening in broad daylight, we somehow accept it as acceptable in post-Trump America. And it’s not. None of this is…

OK, I’d like to say more, but I’m going to take a sleeping pill and watch Fargo now. Wake me when the treason is over.

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I was going to post something completely different tonight, but here’s Oprah’s Golden Globes speech

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Trump, looking to squash stories of his mental instability, declares himself “a very stable genius”

Remember how, a few days ago, we were talking about Trump’s descent into madness? Well, I guess we were wrong. Our President issued a formal statement this morning announcing himself to be “a very stable genius.”

There is so much more that I’d like to say, but, as I have my hands full at the moment, I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it at that. I just wanted you to know that, at least for now, you don’t to worry about the fate of humanity. Our lives a not just in the hands of a “stable genius,” but “a very stable genius.”

When asked by reporters later this afternoon, why he felt it necessary to formally proclaim himself to be a very stable genius, Trump had the following to say.

No one asked him at the event, but his initial “very stable genius” tweet seems to have been triggered, as most of his tweets are, by a segment on Fox News. The segment ran at 7:10 AM. Trump’s tweet was posted at 7:20 AM. Furthermore, it should be noted that this happened as Trump and high ranking members of the GOP were gathered at Camp David, ostensibly to consider the future of their political party.

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The coordinated plot to shutter the Department of Justice and kill the Mueller investigation

Trump, it’s no secret, hates the Department of Justice (DOJ), which, as we discussed yesterday, he’s recently begun to refer to as “the deep state justice department.” Simply put, he seems to feel as though DOJ officials should be doing his bidding, and, based on a number of accounts, he’s furious that they aren’t. To hear White House insiders tell it, Trump is still irate that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, when it became known that he’d lied under oath about several meetings he’d taken with representatives of the Russian government as an emissary of the Trump campaign, recused himself from all matters related to the investigation, instead of just shutting the whole thing down. And, of course, Trump is also not happy with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who just recently went back in front of the House Judiciary Committee to reiterate his support of the Mueller investigation. [Trump has referred to Rosenstein as being both “weak” and a threat.] So, with the net beginning to tighten around the President and members of his inner circle, many of us thought that Trump might fire either Sessions or Rosenstein over the holiday break, making room for a new Department of Justice appointee who would actually fire Mueller when instructed to do so.

If Trump were to do this, by the way, it would not be without precedent. In 1973, in what has come to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre, Richard Nixon forced both his Attorney General (Elliot Richardson) and his Deputy Attorney General (William Ruckelshaus) from the DOJ. Both men, we would learn later, had quit when asked by Nixon to fire Watergate independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was, at that time, attempting to subpoena audio tapes from Nixon’s secret Oval Office recording system. Nixon ultimately promoted Robert Bork, who, according to some, agreed to do what Richardson and Ruckelshaus would not, and fire Cox, in exchange for the promise of a seat on the Supreme Court. The firing of Cox, however, did not stop the investigation. And Nixon would eventually be impeached for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. And this is likely why Trump, as much as he might be tempted to, hasn’t attempted it.[While Trump has said, “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department,” so far, at least publicly, he’s maintained that he’s willing to see the process through without intervening.] But that doesn’t mean that Trump and his supporters have given up on the idea of shutting down the investigation through other, less obvious means.

Earlier today, on Fox News, former Republican Speaker of the House New Gingrich, who has emerged as one of Trump’s most trusted attack dogs, called for Congress to defund the Department of Justice. “The Congress has the power to simply not fund an institution that is not being obedient,” Gingrich said. [The job of the DOJ, by the way, for those of you who have never taken an Introduction to Government class, is not to be “obedient,” but to enforce and protect the rule of law. But Newt, who couldn’t cut it as a history teacher at a rural Georgia college, wouldn’t know that.] Gingrich then went on to add that Congress, in his opinion, could no longer “tolerate being kept in the dark and being told lies.”

As for how Republicans intend to justify cutting funding to the ‘disobedient’ DOJ, look no further than House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, who, as you may recall, like Sessions, recused himself from the Russia investigation at the outset amid allegations of wrongdoing. [Nunes, who served on the Trump transition team, is thought to have smuggled secret documents to the White House early in the investigation, giving the administration a heads-up as to the evidence against them.] Nunes, however, didn’t stay away from the investigation long, issuing a number of subpoenas to the DOJ back in August, in hopes of uncovering evidence that the department, along with the FBI, was conspiring against Trump. Well those subpoenas had to be responded to by today, and, as I understand it, they haven’t been. And it looks as though that might be the trigger the Republicans were looking for to make a move against the DOJ.

Sounding very much like Gingrich, Nunes, in a letter, said that this “broader pattern of behavior” on the part of the DOJ “can no longer be tolerated”. Interestingly, on the same day this was happening, Paul Manafort, the President’s former campaign director, who was recently indicted for a number of crimes, including “Conspiracy against the United States,” filed charges against the DOJ, charging that they had violated the law in appointing Mueller.

So, with all of this as background, just a few hours ago Rosenstein, accompanied by FBI Director Chris Wray, stopped by the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, something which they had not done up to this point in the investigation, leading many to speculate that they’d either been giving the Speaker a heads-up concerning imminent indictments, or seeking his support against this gathering storm of distraction. [Either way, this meeting portends a huge showdown on the horizon.]

Interestingly, these new charges against the ‘disobedient’ DOJ may be why, in the days leading up to this, we’ve started to hear more of a coordinated response to the Republican claim that ‘it was the fake Steele dossier, funded by the Clinton campaign, that, when handed over to the FBI, led to the initiation of the Russia investigation.’ First, we heard earlier this week that the investigation had actually begun with a tip from the Australians about something Trump campaign insider George Papadopoulos had said over drinks at a London bar, and, then, yesterday, the owners of Fusion GPS, the research firm responsible for having compiled the dossier, wrote an editorial for the New York Times in which they shot numerous holes in the Republican narrative. Here, in case you’re interested, is how their letter begins.

A generation ago, Republicans sought to protect President Richard Nixon by urging the Senate Watergate committee to look at supposed wrongdoing by Democrats in previous elections. The committee chairman, Sam Ervin, a Democrat, said that would be “as foolish as the man who went bear hunting and stopped to chase rabbits.”

Today, amid a growing criminal inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, congressional Republicans are again chasing rabbits. We know because we’re their favorite quarry.

In the year since the publication of the so-called Steele dossier — the collection of intelligence reports we commissioned about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia — the president has repeatedly attacked us on Twitter. His allies in Congress have dug through our bank records and sought to tarnish our firm to punish us for highlighting his links to Russia. Conservative news outlets and even our former employer, The Wall Street Journal, have spun a succession of mendacious conspiracy theories about our motives and backers.

We are happy to correct the record. In fact, we already have.

Three congressional committees have heard over 21 hours of testimony from our firm, Fusion GPS. In those sessions, we toppled the far right’s conspiracy theories and explained how The Washington Free Beacon and the Clinton campaign — the Republican and Democratic funders of our Trump research — separately came to hire us in the first place…

I love that they started with the quote from Sam Ervin, as, once again, it brings us back to the fact that none of this is new. We’ve been here before. We had a criminal presidency, who, with the help of a complicit Republican Party, attempted to obfuscate the facts by demanding that the investigators be investigated. It didn’t work then, and one hopes it won’t work now. The issue isn’t, as Nunes and others are asking, who funded the Steele dossier, or even how the DOJ handled it once it came into their possession. Those, to quote Ervin, are the rabbit questions. We need to stay focused on the bear. We need to know whether or not the President of the United States and members of his inner circle conspired with a known enemy of our country in order to subvert our democratic processes. And, by they way, all the evidence up to this point seems to indicate that they did.

I’m sorry I went off on this tangent, when I know that 99% of you would rather have talked about the revelations that hit the news today from Michael Wolff’s upcoming book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” I’ll try to work some of it into a later post. I promise. [i.e. Trump calling Sally Yates a “cunt”, Bannon accusing Trump Jr. and Kushner of treason, Trump’s tricks for fucking the wives of his friends.]

update: Since I posted this Thursday night, things have gotten even stranger. Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley have called for an investigation into Christoper Steele, the former MI6 agent responsible for writing the infamous dossier for Fusion GPS. And, in the House, members of the so-called Freedom Caucus, have called for Session to step down. Meanwhile, it would appear that, in that mysterious meeting between Paul Ryan and Rod Rosenstein, the Speaker sided with Devin Nunes, and against the DOJ. And, perhaps in hopes of saving himself from the attacks being waged against him from members of his own party, it looks as though Sessions has agreed to reopen the investigation into whether the Clinton Foundation engaged in any pay-to-play politics while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. So, yeah, things are continuing to get more heated, as members of an increasingly desperate Republican party attempt to do anything in their power to paint the picture that Clinton is the real criminal here, while forcing Sessions from office, so that his replacement can fire Rosenstein and Mueller. In other words, the Republicans have decided to go all-in on Trump, in hopes that he might help them to further dismantle the New Deal, which has been their dream since the Roosevelt administration.

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Donald Trump, dragging the world along with him on his descent into madness

On Christmas day, Donald Trump tweeted that he would be going “back to work” the next day. He then proceeded to spend the next seven days golfing, sometimes doing so behind a large white truck that had been employed like a rolling barrier to prevent people from seeing what he was up to. Apparently, it would seem, our president, who ran for office with the promise, “I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” isn’t terribly keen on the idea of photos being taken of him with a golf club in his hands, especially after all the times he accused Obama of wasting taxpayer dollars for doing pretty much the same thing. While Trump and his team try as best that they can to downplay the president’s golf habit, we know that, during his first year in office, he’s spent 91 days at Trump-branded golf courses. We also have a pretty good estimate of how many games he’s played as president, and it’s probably about 75, which is considerably more than the 28 we know Obama to have golfed by this point in his presidency… I hesitate to mention any of this, as the hypocrisy clearly doesn’t matter to Trump’s supporters, who apparently believe that, wheres Obama golfed out of sheer laziness, Trump plays the game because that’s just what the world’s greatest dealmakers do, but I think it’s an important prelude to what happened today, when Trump really did get “back to work” in earnest. Starting at 4:09 AM this morning, there have been 16 tweets of escalating insanity from a president no longer tethered to reality by his desire to hit little, white balls into a cup… Here are just three examples of what we’ve seen thus far today.

1. Trump personally took credit for aviation safety in 2017, stating that it was, because of him, and his attention to this subject, that no one had died in a passenger jet since he took office. This, of course, ignores the fact that we’ve had no domestic airline crashes in this country since 2009. It also begs the question, “Why, if by applying himself to this particular problem, he’s made air travel so safe, has he not also focused on safety in the coal mining industry, or, for that matter, the epidemic of gun violence in this country?” [Coal mining deaths have nearly doubled over the year Trump has been in office.] Are we to believe that domestic air safety is a better barometer for determining the quality of a president, than, say, the fact that, over this past year, there have been more mass shootings than there have been days? [Just yesterday, in Colorado, we had yet another mass shooting by a middle aged white man with apparent alt-right sympathies.]

2. Referring to his own Justice Department as the “deep state justice department,” Trump then appeared to demand that they imprison his perceived enemies. This comes just days after Trump, in an impromptu interview with a New York Times reporter at one of his golf clubs, said, “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department,” apparently not understanding that, while technically a part of the executive branch, he does not control the Justice Department like a mafia boss controls a crew. I thought it should go without saying, but, in a functioning United States of America, one wouldn’t expect to see a president calling on members of the Justice Department to arrest potential witnesses against him. As former Deputy Attorney General of the United States Sally Yates said today on Twitter, this is “beyond abnormal (and) dangerous.”

3. And now he’s taunting a madman with nuclear weapons, essentially challenging North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to prove to the world that he’s got the ability to successfully launch intercontinental ballistic missiles at us. This, as I suspect many of you would agree, is absolutely fucking insane. The existence of humanity should not come down to the ability of someone like Kim Jong Un, who we all know to be unstable, to withstand the taunts of a man who is essentially yelling across the Pacific, “If you had a bigger dick than mine, you’d whip it out and show me, you limp-dicked, little loser.” This is not, to put it simply, how diplomacy is supposed to be done… at least not in traditional global politics, where, more often than not, stable nations work tirelessly to deescalate threats that could, you know, eliminate the human species from the universe.

To repeat a very common phrase heard these days, this is not normal. None of this is normal. The three above examples would not be normal if spread over the entire eight years of a presidential term, let alone over one 16 hour period. And I cannot believe that the Republicans, who control every lever of power in the United States at the moment, are not acting to stop it from happening. I get that they’re happy about getting their insane tax cuts passed on behalf of their donors, and that they don’t want to rock the boat before they kill Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which is the next thing on their agenda, but holy, fucking Christ… If they’re not concerned now, what’s it going to take? Do missiles have to be in the air before they begin to take the threat posed by this president seriously?

Maybe it’s just because we’re still so close to Christmas, and I just watched A Christmas Carol, but, lately, I’m seeing Trump as a kind of Scrooge-like character, minus, of course, the last act and the redemption that comes with it… a terrified and lonely man lashing out in the darkness against the truth as its being shown to him. Here, with that in mind, is how I summed up the events of today on Twitter earlier this evening: “Back to work after a 7 day long golfing vacation and completely unable to focus due to the 12 Diet Cokes, which have been cooked down and mainlined, our mentally ill protagonist decides to flip on Fox News and start randomly tweeting at the specters he sees circling around him.”

The time to act is upon us. The water, my fellow frogs, is beginning to boil around us.

I don’t know what the long term solution is, but, for right now, I’d like to suggest we all stop calling him a hypocrite for his golfing, and encourage him to spend more time away from the White House, his televisions, and his phone. Short of the Republicans taking the threat seriously, and making a move to get him out of the White House, I think that might be our next best option… Seriously, I think we should consider a series of “please golf more” rallies around the United States. For our own survival, I think we need to encourage him to spend what’s left of his time as a free man on the golf course, engaging in sexist banter with his buddies, and driving around in his little cart.

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