Category Archives: Media

House Intelligence Committee releases controversial Nunes Memo – and an analysis that destroys it

House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes never reviewed the supporting classified intelligence in the FISA Court warrant for Carter Page — a Russian agent the Trump White House has gone to great lengths to distance from the Trump campaign to the point of  erasing him from memory — from which Nunes and his staff members, and several other GOP members of his committee, have concocted the “Nunes Memo” asserting the FBI violated Carter Page’s civil liberties allegedly motivated by partisan bias against the Trump campaign. The New York Times reports:

Mr. Nunes has not read the warrant from which the memo is said to be drawn. The Justice Department considers such warrants extremely sensitive and allowed only one Democrat and one Republican from the committee, plus staff, to view it. Rather than do so himself, Mr. Nunes designated Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina to be the Republican reader.

Ranking minority member Adam Schiff of California was the Democratic reader.

President Trump was only vaguely aware of the Nunes Memo until two GOP House Freedom Caucus members brought it to his attention in a Jan. 18 phone call. ‘Never any hesitation’: Trump was quickly persuaded to support memo’s release:

Over the next two weeks, according to interviews with eight senior administration officials and other advisers to the president, he tuned in to [FAUX News aka Trump TV] segments about the memo. He talked to friends and advisers about it. And, before he had even read it, Trump became absolutely convinced of one thing: The memo needed to come out.

Sean Hannity has been flogging this FBI conspiracy theory on his program every night for weeks now, and Donald Trump takes his cues from FAUX & Friends and Sean Hannity.

Sean Hannity denied a Daily Beast report that he personally advised President Trump regarding the Nunes Memo, but this is really beside the point: Trump watches FAUX News and does as he is told (just follow his tweets).

Continue reading

Donald Trump and his congressional allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy

For those of you who have been distracted by other less important matters, as of today we are officially in a constitutional crisis.

The threat to our democracy is now at DEFCON 1. To paraphrase, “Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country.” This is not a drill.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee disregarded a Justice Department  letter last week to Rep. Devin Nunes, the committee’s Republican chairman, from Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, advising him it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release the “Nunes Memo” drawing on classified information without official review.

According to the ranking minority member on the committee Rep. Adam Schiff, and the Transcript of House Intelligence Committee Meeting Regarding the Nunes Memo, the committee chairman, Devin Nunes, despite meeting with FBI Director Wray on Sunday regarding the concerns of the FBI, refused to even hear from the FBI in the committee hearing regarding their concerns for national security sources and methods (pp.2-21):

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 8.46.55 AM

* * *

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 8.47.40 AM

It should be noted that this committee hearing was the first time it was disclosed to Democrats on the committee that chairman Devin Nunes and several Republican members on his committee were conducting their own investigation into the FBI and Department of Justice, something that was not approved by a vote of the committee.

Continue reading

David v. the Goliath of the dark money ‘Kochtopus’ and lawless Tea-Publicans on Proposition 305

First, the good news … because you really could use some good news these days.

The “Kochtopus” network trying to prevent the citizens referendum of the “vouchers on steroids” bill to privatize public education from appearing on the 2018 ballot lost in court on the first round. The trial judge dismissed the case saying “there is no legal basis for the challenge.” Dismissals for failure to state a claim are awful hard to overturn on appeal.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Voucher measure can go to ballot, judge rules:

A judge has refused to block voters from getting the last word on whether they want to expand a system of vouchers that uses public funds to send children to private and parochial schools.

In a six-page ruling made public Tuesday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Margaret Mahoney ruled that the law in effect last year when the referendum was filed did not give individuals the right to challenge petition drives. She pointed out it was repealed in 2015.

Mahoney acknowledged that lawmakers did vote to reinstate the individual challenge law last year. And that change took effect on Aug. 9, 2017.

But the judge pointed out that the petitions demanding a public vote were turned in on Aug. 8. Quite simply, Mahoney said, there is no legal basis for the challenge.

Continue reading

In unprecedented move, GOP House Intelligence Committee jeopardizes national security to aid Donald Trump in obstruction of justice

Donald Trump is engaged in a slow-motion “Saturday Night Massacre” purge to get to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He does not necessarily have to fire Mueller, but he can put him on an island by replacing everyone in the chain of command around him with yes-men who will deny Mueller resources, or deny his requests for subpoenas of documents or witnesses, etc., to effectively impede his investigation.

As I pointed out in a link to Foreign Policy yesterday, it reported on an organized campaign to discredit top DOJ and FBI leadership, expressly so that they would lose power in acting as witnesses to support Comey.

President Donald Trump pressed senior aides last June to devise and carry out a campaign to discredit senior FBI officials after learning that those specific employees were likely to be witnesses against him as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two people directly familiar with the matter.

* * *

The FBI officials Trump has targeted are Andrew McCabe, the current deputy FBI director and who was briefly acting FBI director after Comey’s firing; Jim Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff and senior counselor; and James Baker, formerly the FBI’s general counsel. Those same three officials were first identified as possible corroborating witnesses for Comey in a June 7 article in Vox. Comey confirmed in congressional testimony the following day that he confided in the three men.

FBI Director Wray replaced Jim Rybicki last week. Baker was reassigned in December. And now McCabe is gone.

Trump has previously attempted to force Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign, and to force Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to resign, who is now the target of the #ReleaseTheMemo smear campaign from Rep. Devin Nunes, FAUX News (aka Trump TV) and Russian intelligence bots. Russia-linked Twitter accounts are working overtime to help Devin Nunes and WikiLeaks.

Continue reading

GOPropaganda machine turns to McCarthyism to defend Trump (Updated)

“McCarthyism” is the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal earlier this month, Donald Trump accused FBI agent Peter Strzok, the Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, of “treason.” Trump Accuses FBI Agent of ‘Treason’. Agent Strzok was removed from Mueller’s team last summer following the discovery of anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with a FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, who was also assigned to Mueller’s team.

Trump’s McCarthyism should come as no surprise to anyone as his long-time attorney (consigliere) for many years was the disreputable Roy Cohn: Joe McCarthy’s henchman and Donald Trump’s mentor. Roy Cohn was eventually disbarred by a New York court for conduct that was ”unethical,” ”unprofessional” and, in one case, ”particularly reprehensible.” The apprentice learned well at the feet of his master.

Peter Strzok and Lisa Page are the cause célèbre in one of several conspiracy theories that have been ginned up by the Trump administration in coordination with its allies in Congress and its GOPropagandists in the conservative media entertainment complex, in particular FAUX News (aka Trump TV).

The mighty Wurlitzer of the right-wing noise machine has been in overdrive this month cranking out multiple conspiracy theories with which to discredit federal law enforcement officials at the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Special Counsel’s office in defense of their “Dear Leader.” This is the kind of thing that you see from state-run propaganda media in authoritarian autocratic regimes.

Continue reading

Is chief of staff John F. Kelly going to be fired?

In the first few weeks of Trump’s presidency, many speculated that Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart chief, was the one calling the shots in the White House. With headlines shouting that Bannon is the power behind the throne, Trump started to get annoyed. President Steve Bannon is starting to get on Donald Trump’s nerves. Trump was particularly perturbed at Saturday Night Live’s portrayal of “President Bannon” and his manipulation of the man-child Trump. Trump eventually fired Bannon because the egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief must always be the center of attention.

History may soon repeat itself. The National Review recently published this article, Being President Kelly. Ruh-roh.

The president of the United States has been in a low-level public pissing match with his chief of staff, Marine general John F. Kelly.

Kelly got Trump’s dander up by referring to recent presidential statements on border security as “not informed,” insisting that Trump is — dreadful Washington phrase! — “evolving” on the issue. And the president is evolving on it, that evolution being made inevitable by the utter preposterousness of his campaign promises. Long gone is his blustery insistence that there will be a wall (not a mere fence) from San Diego to Brownsville and that the government of Mexico will pay for it. Trump now is talking about renovating some fencing, maybe adding a bit, and not bothering Enrique Peña Nieto et al. too much about the bill. That’s an evolution for Trump, who has a pronounced disinclination to pick up the tab for anything.

That the president may be uninformed is a trope of Kelly’s. In addition to describing the president as “not informed” about the subject of his keynote issue, he has described his job as chief of staff as ensuring that the staff “better informs” the president on a range of issues. “If the administration fails, if the president of the United States is uninformed one time and makes the wrong decision, that’s on me,” Kelly told Fox News. Trump, in his usual passive-aggressive way, resorted to sub-tweeting: “The Wall is the Wall,” he wrote with his by now familiar erratic capitalization. “It has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it.” Trump later called Kelly in for an Apprentice-style dressing down, according to the New York Times, which also reports that Kelly, who brought some semblance of order to the chaotic Trump administration, repeatedly has threatened to quit unless his orders are followed — including by the president.

Donald Trump runs a Twitter account. President John Kelly is running the administration.

Continue reading