White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders refuses to say the press is not “the enemy of the people”

today concedes that his son met with Russian operatives at trump tower with Russian operatives to get dirt on his opponent.

Ben Rhodes

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More Ben Rhodes Retweeted Donald J. Trump
I worked on the Obama campaign and we would never, ever, have held a meeting with a foreign power to “get information on an opponent.” It doesn’t happen “all the time in politics” – it’s immoral, unpatriotic and part of a broader effort that was illegal.

American political adviser and former White House staff member who served as the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications for U.S. President Barack Obama and as an adviser on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran.

Two days ago, covering the absolutely insane Trump rally in Tampa that we were just discussing, CNN’s Jim Acosta was accosted by a crowd of belligerent, wild-eyed Trumpists.

Today, back in DC, Acosta asked White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders to state definitively, on the record, that, contrary to what Donald Trump may tell his followers, the press is not “the enemy of the people.” She refused to do so.

Acosta got up and walked out of the press briefing just after this exchange, stating that he was “saddened” by what had transpired. “Sarah Sanders,” he said on Twitter, “was repeatedly given a chance to say the press is not the enemy, and she wouldn’t do it.” This, he said, was “shameful.”

The President, shortly thereafter, went on stage in front of a Pennsylvania audience and ranted about the “fake, fake disgusting news,” calling journalist “horrible, horrendous people.”

I was going to conclude this post by saying that, if the White House didn’t stop with this ever-increasing anti-press rhetoric, someone would die… but then I remembered that they already had. It was just a little over a month ago now that five people were murdered in the Annapolis newsroom of the Capital Gazette by a man who, on social media, had sided with Donald Trump against the press. As journalist and writer David Simon, who, by the way, knew several of the victims, said at the time, “Whatever resentments were in the shooter’s head, the US President stood ready to bolster and validate it.” And that’s where were are today… just waiting for the next person, bolstered and validated by this administration, to strike against a member of the press.

These are dangerous times, especially for American journalists. And I have the utmost respect for the members of the press who continue to dig for the truth in spite of the heightened, violent rhetoric. We talk a lot in this country about how dangerous it is to be a police officer, but I suspect, in reality, the job of journalist comes with a lot more risk at this moment in American history. And it certainly isn’t helping that our President, like Hitler and other authoritarians before him, is weaving a narrative where the “lying press” and immigrants are to blame for everything bad in society. (Hitler used the phrase “Lügenpresse.”)

Oh, I should probably note that, when Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to state that the press is not the “enemy of the people,” she did attempt to offer a reason. She said that, during the White House correspondents dinner, when members of the press laughed while Michelle Wolf made jokes about her “smokey eye”, that it had hurt her feelings. So I guess, in her mind, that justifies labeling them enemies of the people.

update: It’s getting even worse, folks… the President just tweeted the following, calling members of the press “dangerous” and “sick.”

Any member of Congress who does not stand up and say something will have blood on their hands when the next attack against a member of the press happens… and you can be sure, with the mental illness known as “Q fever” sweeping the country, that it will happen.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

The insane Trump “fan fiction” of QAnon goes mainstream

If for nothing else, yesterday’s Trump rally in Tampa was noteworthy for it’s insanity. Not only did Trump fans surround CNN’s Jim Acosta, screaming “you’re a liar” and “traitor”, but, for the first time ever, it would seem, there was a significant contingent from the far right, conspiratorial fringe in the audience, brandishing their “We Are Q” merchandise, and thereby forcing the absolute insanity of QAnon into the mainstream.

Even though it’s something that’s been discussed here in the comments section quite bit, I’ve refrained from dedicating a post to the subject as it’s just so damned crazy. But, now that the New York Time, the Washington Post, and every other mainstream news source is scrambling to make sense of it, I thought that I’d better spend a little time on it, even though doing so makes me feel sick to my stomach… I don’t want to believe that there’s significant percentage of my fellow American citizens out there who believe, among other things, that the Mueller investigation is really targeting Hillary Clinton, and that Donald Trump was recruited to run for President by the military in order to keep international financiers (Jews) from taking over the country, but I don’t suppose there’s any hiding from it now.

Qanon, for those of you who haven’t heard of it before, is essentially the rat king of conspiracy theories, a diseased, multi-headed rodent monster, held together by shit. As NBC’s Ben Collin’s explains, it’s “like Pizzagate on steroids, but it’s really both emotionally and socioeconomically Pizzagate on bath salts.” It’s like fan faction for more delusional members of the far right, where every crazy idea they can possibly imagine can find a home. It’s a framework for making sense of an increasingly confusing world that allows for Tom Hanks being a pedophile, Hillary Clinton drinking the blood of babies, and JFK Jr. not only being alive, but directing the patriotic assault against the so-called “deep state.”

Here, to give you a sense of what we’re talking about here, is a bit of video from NBC News. [A longer version can be found at Mediate.]

And here’s a little something from today’s New York Times:

Those watching President Trump’s rally in Tampa on Tuesday couldn’t help but be exposed to a fringe movement that discusses several loosely connected and vaguely defined — and baseless — conspiracy theories.

In one shot on Fox News, the president was partially obscured by a sign in the crowd reading “We Are Q.” In another shot during the president’s speech, a sign promoting the debunked Seth Rich conspiracy theory, with the hashtag #Qanon, came into focus in the center of the screen. Some attendees wore T-shirts with a blocky Q. Others held up signs with the letter.

They were all self-described “followers of Q,” an anonymous person or group of people who claim to be privy to government secrets. That supposedly classified information has been revealed on the 4chan and 8chan message boards and spread around mainstream internet platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Q has attracted people — the exact number is hard to know — eager to consume his “bread crumbs,” or new details in a sprawling web of conspiracy theories.

…Ben Decker, a research fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard, described followers of the QAnon narrative as “an interactive conspiracy community”…

The Daily Beast:

…It’s there, starting in October 2017, that an anonymous poster dubbed “Q” began leaving cryptic clues that Trump supporters used to construct an alternate interpretation of current events where Trump is constantly battling evil forces.

For QAnon believers, special counsel Robert Mueller isn’t really investigating the Trump campaign—he’s actually working with Trump to take down a cabal of deep-state plotters and pedophiles. Soon, QAnon fans believe, Trump will team up with the military to throw top Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama into Guantanamo Bay.

But what QAnon believers actually believe in constantly changing. After taking advantage of the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich and promoting dangerous ideas like Pizzagate, QAnon supporters have found a new tragedy to exploit: the death of John F. Kennedy Jr., son of the late president.

Until July, QAnon supporters believed that “Q,” the anonymous online forum poster whose cryptic clues make up the conspiracy theory, was a high-ranking Trump administration official, or maybe even Trump himself. But now, a good portion of QAnon believers have become convinced that Q is none other than JFK Jr, even though he died in a plane crash nearly 20 years ago…

The Washington Post:

The prominence of the “Q” symbol turned parts of the audience into a tableau of delusion and paranoia — and offered evidence that QAnon, an outgrowth of the #Pizzagate conspiracy theory that led a gunman to open fire in a D.C. restaurant last year, has leaped from Internet message boards to the president’s “Make America Great Again” tour through America.

…But viewing their message boards, it’s clear that QAnon crosses a new frontier. In the black hole of conspiracy in which “Q” has plunged its followers, Trump only feigned collusion to create a pretense for the hiring of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is actually working as a “white hat,” or hero, to expose the Democrats. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros are planning a coup — and traffic children in their spare time. J.P. Morgan, the American financier, sank the Titanic.

…In the world in which QAnon believers live, Trump’s detractors, such as Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, wear ankle monitors that track their whereabouts. Press reports are dismissed as “Operation Mockingbird,” the name given to the alleged midcentury infiltration of the American media by the CIA. The Illuminati looms large in QAnon, as do the Rothschilds, a wealthy Jewish family vilified by the conspiracy theorists as the leaders of a satanic cult. Among the world leaders wise to satanic influences, the theory holds, is Russian President Vladimir Putin.

QAnon flirts with eschatology, fascist philosophy and the filmmaking of Francis Ford Coppola. Adherents believe a “Great Awakening” will precede the final storm foretold by Trump. Once they make sense of the information drip-fed to them by “Q,” they will usher in a Christian revival presaging total victory.

The implication is that resolving the clues left by “Q” would not just explain Trump’s planned countercoup. It would also explain the whole universe…

So, no, the craziest thing in Tampa yesterday wasn’t Donald Trump talking about how people need photo IDs to buy groceries in the United States. Not by a long shot…

This is what happens when madness goes unchecked… when Donald Trump goes on InfoWars with Alex Jones, who calls the child victims of Sandy Hook “crisis actors”… when Roseanne Barr, a Qanon devotee, gets a network television show… when the head of the FCC is making dancing videos with Pizzagate proponents… when we allow the administration to take us down the “alternative facts” rabbit hole… when we give airtime to race-baiters to discuss “birtherism“… when we put science aside in the discussion of global climate change… when we allow our President to shout down facts he doesn’t like as “fake news”… when social media channels refuse to step in and do something.

I don’t know what the solution is, but we need to do something, and we need to do something now, before irreparable harm is done to the fabric of our civil society, assuming, of course, we haven’t already passed the point of no return.

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Your President is scared this morning, America

This morning, as the Manafort trial starts its second day, Donald Trump demanded that his Attorney General stop the Mueller investigation “right now”.

I know, in the context of all the craziness that’s taken place over these past two years, this may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a tremendously big deal. The President of United States just demanding that his Justice Department obstruct justice, shutting down an active investigation into Russian election interference that has already yielded two guilty pleas and over 30 grand jury indictments. If this demand had been made behind closed doors and caught on tape, we’d likely be talking about impeachment right now. Instead, though, because it happened right out in the open, on social media, we’re tempted to write it off and just “Trump being Trump.” That doesn’t, however, make it any less serious… My first instinct, as you can see here, was to laugh it off, and make a smart ass comment about how terrified Donald Trump must be this morning, but we really are living though a crisis at this very moment, the likes of which this nation has never known.

And, no, it’s not a good look for Donald Trump to be begging like this in public… The image that keeps coming to mind for me is the little fly with the human head in 1958’s The Fly, caught in the web at the end of the film, about to be consumed by the big, hungry spider, yelling in a tinny, little voice to Vincent Price, “help me, help me,” only to be squashed with a rock.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

Rudy Giuliani, moving the goalposts, says “collusion is not a crime”

Late last week, as we discussed here, the President’s former “fixer” Michael Cohen signaled through his attorney that he was willing to testify that Donald Trump knew in advance of his son’s meeting with a Russian delegation that had come to New York prior to the 2016 election promising illegally-gotten “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump, staying true to form, responded to the news by melting down on Twitter, calling the Mueller investigation a “rigged witch hunt,” and once again stating definitively, “There is no collusion!” Well, it looks as though sometime between that Sunday morning meltdown and this morning, when Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani hit the cable news circuit, a decision had been made to change tack yet once again, tentatively embracing the idea of collusion, but arguing that collusion isn’t a crime.

Colluding with Russia is “not a crime,” Giuliani told CNN… “I have been sitting here trying to find collusion as a crime,” Giuliani said on Fox and Friends, then going on to repeat, “Collusion is not a crime.”

So, it looks as though there’s a attempt to move the goalposts mid-game. No longer is Trump’s team insisting that there was “no collusion.” Now it would appear as though they’re floating a trial balloon, saying that, even if there was collusion, it’s not a crime. And, for what it’s worth, they no longer seem to be arguing that Trump didn’t know in advance about that suspicious June 9, 2016 meeting that took place at Trump Tower between senior members of the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump Jr., and a delegation of Russians with ties to the Kremlin. This morning, Giuliani would only say taht Trump didn’t attend the meeting himself. [Asked on CNN if he could say for certain that Trump didn’t know in advance about the meeting, Giuliani said that “nobody can be sure of anything.”] And, perhaps most laughably, Giuliani is now saying that the only real crime in all of this is hacking, and that the President, as he isn’t himself a hacker, is innocent.

All of this, of course, is bullshit. While it’s true that there’s no federal statute that states definitively that “collusion” is a crime, we have plenty of laws against conspiring with foreign governments to influence our elections, and that’s what we’re talking about here. Furthermore, as any prosecutor can tell you, it’s not just the hacker who has committed a crime in an instance like this, but also those who gave the orders… hence the recent grand jury indictments against the 12 Russian GRU agents who oversaw the hacking campaign.

We can’t allow this trial balloon to go up unchallenged. We cannot allow the Trump administration to move the goalposts now, after swearing for two full years that there was no collusion. We need to keep reminding ourselves (and everyone we know) that, for the past two years, the Trump administration kept demanding that there was “no collusion,” and that Trump didn’t know about the Trump Tower meeting between members of his campaign and Russian agents. We need to keep sharing videos like this one, showing the extent to which they denied that there was any coordination with the Russians in the run up to the election. We can’t allow history to be rewritten.

update: Trump has now weighed it to say that he didn’t collude, and, even if he did, it wouldn’t be a crime… Makes sense, right?

Posted in History, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

Michael Cohen says he’s willing to testify that Donald Trump is lying about his knowledge of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son and Russian operatives offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton

Remember that suspicious June 9, 2016 meeting that took place at Trump Tower between senior members of the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump Jr., and a delegation of Russians with ties to the Kremlin? And remember how, prior to that meeting, Donald Trump, Jr. had been told that these Russians would be coming to discuss the transfer of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, to which he replied, “I love it“? And do you also remember how, after the news broke about the meeting, which even Steve Bannon referred to as being “treasonous,” the White House came out with a firm statement about how the President hadn’t known anything about it?

Well, it’s being reported this evening that Donald Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, is now willing to go on the record with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, stating under oath that Trump not only knew about the offer of assistance from the Russians, but encouraged his son, son-in-law, and campaign manager to take the meeting. And, what’s more, Cohen is apparently saying that he’s willing to name others who can corroborate that Donald Trump was aware.

So it looks as though Donald Trump didn’t just oversee the coverup, ghostwriting Don Jr.’s laughably pathetic letter to the press attempting to explain the Trump Tower meeting as having been about international adoption policy, but also knew ahead of time that the Russians were coming to offer ill-gotten “dirt” on Clinton.

Here’s video from CNN.

And here’s an excerpt from CNN’s accompanying story.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton, sources with knowledge tell CNN. Cohen is willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller, the sources said.

Cohen’s claim would contradict repeated denials by Trump, Donald Trump Jr., their lawyers and other administration officials who have said that the President knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting until he was approached about it by The New York Times in July 2017.

Cohen alleges that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians’ offer by Trump Jr. By Cohen’s account, Trump approved going ahead with the meeting with the Russians, according to sources…

If true, this would certainly seem to indicate an intent to collude on the part of the President, who, this evening, sent his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, out to discredit Cohen in the press. “He has lied all his life,” Giuliani said of Cohen on CNN, adding he’s “an incredible liar.”

Adam Schiff, for one, doesn’t seem so willing to just take Giuliani’s word. “If (the) allegation Trump OK’d June 9 meeting is true, it means he not only publicly appealed to Russia for help, but privately approved receiving it,” said the Congressman in a tweet, “…the conspiracy case may have just gotten stronger.”

Oh, and if this does prove to be true, it also means that Donald Trump, Jr., who told the the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath on May 6 of this year that his father didn’t know about the meeting, could be going to jail for perjury.

update: Donald Trump has responded.

“Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of a jam.” Yes, yes it does sound like that, doesn’t it?

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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