Trump tries to preemptively distract the media from the actual scandal that is just below the surface

In case you have a life away from politics, you may have missed that the always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief, Donald J. Trump — after media pundits, without justification, declared him “presidential” after his address to Congress on Tuesday — has returned to his old habit of early-morning Twitter rants this weekend.

This time, Trump’s Twitter rant is meant to distract the media with a bright shiny object from the actual scandal that is just below the surface of recent media reports on the Trump-Putin campaign connections. The intelligence agencies have been “following the money” and reviewing intercept surveillance, and they may be close to a bombshell story that is ready to break in the not-to-distant future.

This is a preemptive attempt by the Trump administration to get  out in front of the story and to gin up the conservative media entertainment complex with its comfort zone, Obama Derangement Syndrome.

Remember that Donald Trump emerged from the fever swamps of right-wing paranoia conspiracy theories — he was the head cheerleader of the Obama Birtherism conspiracy theory after all — when you consider his latest Twitter Rant.

The New York Times reports, Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones:

President Trump on Saturday accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his phones at Trump Tower the month before the election, leveling the explosive allegation without offering any evidence.

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 3.24.58 PM

A spokesman for Mr. Obama said any suggestion that the former president had ordered such surveillance was “simply false.”

The Washington Post similalry reports, Trump accuses Obama of ‘Nixon/Watergate’ wiretap — but offers no evidence.

The New York Times explains:

Two people close to Mr. Trump said they believed he was referring to a Breitbart News article, which aides said had been passed around among his advisers. Mark Levin, a conservative radio host, had also embraced the theory recently in a push against what right-leaning commentators have been calling the “deep state.”

The Breitbart article, published on Friday, claimed that there was a series of “known steps taken by President Barack Obama’s administration in its last months to undermine Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and, later, his new administration.” Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, once led Breitbart News.

If Mr. Trump was motivated to take to Twitter after reading the Breitbart article or listening to Mr. Levin, he was using a presidential megaphone to spread dark theories of a broad conspiracy aimed at undermining his presidential ambitions, and later his presidency.

Even with the Breitbart article circulating, several of Mr. Trump’s advisers were stunned by the president’s morning Twitter outburst. Those advisers said they were uncertain about what specifically Mr. Trump was referring to; one surmised that he may also have been referring to a months-old news report about a secret surveillance warrant for communications at his New York offices.

The Washington Post adds:

The conservative media landscape — including Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News and Infowars, the conspiracy website run by Alex Jones, outlets on which Trump has appeared — has in recent days given birth to tales of Obama and his closest confidants trying to spur Trump’s impeachment or force his resignation.

UPDATE: Trump’s allegation that the Obama administration wiretapped his phones began as a rant on conservative talk radio and then spread to Breitbart News. A Conspiracy Theory’s Journey From Talk Radio to Trump’s Twitter.

So what is this story really about?

There have been several news reports since last summer that the FBI had requested a FISA Court warrant to surveil contacts between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. Some reports said the FBI was denied the request because it was not narrowly tailored. But later reports claim that the FBI submitted a new request for a FISA  warrant to surveil contacts between the Russian government and the Trump campaign which was granted. See, for example, EXCLUSIVE: FBI ‘Granted FISA Warrant’ Covering Trump Camp’s Ties To Russia:

Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.

Contrary to earlier reporting in the New York Times, which cited FBI sources as saying that the agency did not believe that the private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower which was connected to a Russian bank had any nefarious purpose, the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server. The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.

The FISA warrant was granted in connection with the investigation of suspected activity between the server and two banks, SVB Bank and Alfa Bank. However, it is thought in the intelligence community that the warrant covers any ‘US person’ connected to this investigation, and thus covers Donald Trump and at least three further men who have either formed part of his campaign or acted as his media surrogates. The warrant was sought, they say, because actionable intelligence on the matter provided by friendly foreign agencies could not properly be examined without a warrant by US intelligence as it involves ‘US Persons’ who come under the remit of the FBI and not the CIA. Should a counter-intelligence investigation lead to criminal prosecutions, sources say, the Justice Department is concerned that the chain of evidence have a basis in a clear warrant.

Now, neither the FISA Court, nor the intelligence agencies, nor the Justice Department and FBI can confirm the existence of a FISA Court warrant because such warrants are secret and involve national security matters. But the reporting today indicates that the Trump administration certainly believes a FISA warrant was issued. The New York Times reports:

[A] senior White House official said that Donald F. McGahn II, the president’s chief counsel, was working to secure access to what Mr. McGahn believed to be an order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing some form of surveillance related to Mr. Trump and his associates.

The official offered no evidence to support the notion that such an order exists. It would be a highly unusual breach of the Justice Department’s traditional independence on law enforcement matters for the White House to order it to turn over such an investigative document.

Any request for information from a top White House official about a continuing investigation would be a stunning departure from protocols intended to insulate the F.B.I. from political pressure. It would be even more surprising for the White House to seek information about a case directly involving the president or his advisers, as does the case involving the Russia contacts.

After the White House received heavy criticism for the suggestion that Mr. McGahn would breach Justice Department independence, a different administration official said that the earlier statements about his efforts had been overstated. The official said the counsel’s office was looking at whether there was any legal possibility of gleaning information without impeding or interfering with an investigation. The counsel’s office does not know whether an investigation exists, the official said.

The New York Times explains:

It would have been difficult for federal agents, working within the law, to obtain a wiretap order to target Mr. Trump’s phone conversations. It would have meant that the Justice Department had gathered sufficient evidence to convince a federal judge that there was probable cause to believe Mr. Trump had committed a serious crime or was an agent of a foreign power, depending on whether it was a criminal investigation or a foreign intelligence one.

Former officials pointed to longstanding laws and procedures intended to ensure that presidents cannot wiretap a rival for political purposes.

“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for Mr. Obama. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.”

The Washington Post adds:

Wiretaps in a foreign intelligence probe cannot legally be directed at a U.S. facility without probable cause — reviewed by a federal judge — that the phone lines or Internet addresses at the facility were being used by agents of a foreign power or by someone spying for or acting on behalf of a foreign government.

* * *

If the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved a wiretapping order on one of Trump’s associates, that would mean the federal judge involved had decided there was probable cause that the person was colluding with a foreign government.

For their part, the intelligence agencies conducting the Trump-Putin campaign connections are denying the existence of a secret FISA Court warrant, as one would expect.

From the Times:

One senior law enforcement official from the Obama administration, who has direct knowledge of the F.B.I. investigation into Russia and of government wiretapping, said that it was “100 percent untrue” that the government had wiretapped Mr. Trump. The official, who asked for anonymity to discuss matters related to investigations and intelligence, said the White House owed the American people an explanation for the president’s allegations.

From the Post:

Senior U.S. officials with knowledge of a wide-ranging federal investigation into Russian interference in the election, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information, said Saturday that there had been no wiretap of Trump.

Officials at the FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment.

This latest Trump scandal escalated on Sunday after FBI Director James Comey Asks Justice Dept. to Reject Trump’s Wiretapping Claim:

The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.

Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said.

* * *

Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness. The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Mr. Trump’s weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump’s young administration.

The White House showed no indication that it would back down from Mr. Trump’s claims. On Sunday, the president demanded a congressional inquiry into whether Mr. Obama had abused the power of federal law enforcement agencies before the 2016 presidential election. In a statement from his spokesman, Mr. Trump called “reports” about the wiretapping “very troubling” and said that Congress should examine them as part of its investigations into Russia’s meddling in the election.

Along with concerns about potential attacks on the bureau’s credibility, senior F.B.I. officials are said to be worried that the notion of a court-approved wiretap will raise the public’s expectations that the federal authorities have significant evidence implicating the Trump campaign in colluding with Russia’s efforts to disrupt the presidential election.

* * *

Senior law enforcement and intelligence officials who worked in the Obama administration have said there were no secret intelligence warrants regarding Mr. Trump. Asked whether such a warrant existed, James R. Clapper Jr., a former director of national intelligence, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, “Not to my knowledge, no.”

“There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time as a candidate or against his campaign,” said Mr. Clapper … adding that he would “absolutely” have been informed if the FBI had received a FISA warrant against either. “I can deny it,” Clapper said emphatically.(Washington Post, FBI Director Comey asked Justice officials to refute Trump unproved wiretapping claim).

House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who recently made clear that he was more interested in nefarious reports published in the news media than in alleged contacts between the Trump team and Russian officials, saying the focus of the House’s probe would be on information leaks, House Intelligence chairman says he hasn’t found evidence of Trump team’s ties to Russia, today jumped at the opportunity to instead investigate the Obama administration based upon Trump’s request. House Intelligence Chair Says He Will Investigate Eavesdropping Claims:

House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) said on Sunday that his committee will “make inquiries” into whether President Barack Obama’s administration eavesdropped on campaign officials before the 2016 election, as President Donald Trump has baselessly claimed it did.

“One of the focus points of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation is the U.S. government’s response to actions taken by Russian intelligence agents during the presidential campaign,” Nunes said in a statement. “As such, the Committee will make inquiries into whether the government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party’s campaign officials or surrogates, and we will continue to investigate this issue if the evidence warrants it.”

Rep. Nunes is an excellent reason why we need an independent special prosecutor to conduct this investigation.

At this point, the FBI and intelligence agencies are flatly denying that a FISA warrant for surveillance of Trump-Putin campaign connections was issued. But what if one was? Brian Barrett makes the point at Wired that If the Feds Did Wiretap Trump Tower, It’s Not Obama Who Should Worry:

Trump’s wiretap claims, then, carry presumably inadvertent implications. First, based on previous reporting and the nature of FISA courts, any wiretaps within Trump Tower would be legal. And they would stem from overwhelming evidence that the Trump campaign, or someone within it, has unsavory ties to Russia or another foreign power. Otherwise, it’s unlikely those wiretaps would exist at all.

If federal authorities did have cause to listen in on Trump Tower, though, and they provided enough evidence for a FISA court to approve the snooping, Obama is not the one who ought to worry.

And this is why the Trump administration is preemptively trying to get out in front of this story and to gin up the conservative media entertainment complex with its comfort zone, Obama Derangement Syndrome, to distract everyone from what would be the biggest scandal in U.S. history.

41 Responses to Trump tries to preemptively distract the media from the actual scandal that is just below the surface

  1. John Huppenthal

    Job growth in 2016, the fruition year for Obama policies was 2.242 million or 1.5%.

    You can brag on that all you want but the stock market is forecasting 4% growth under Trump. 4% would be 5.8 million jobs.

    All he has to do is exceed 2.5% to be viewed as the second coming of Christ in the next election.

    I have to admit, I am as skeptical as you all are, but that is the data. The question is, can you destroy him before he creates this reality with a tax reform and regulatory reform?

    He is absolutely right, you all are the enemy of the people. Corrupt researchers, corrupt media, corrupt political leaders.

    • Again, excellent sleight-of-hand with the statistics. I guess it comes with the politician shtick, so I need to get more practice.

      Here you are talking about *job* growth, and then looking at *economic* growth in the very next sentence. Of course; the two aren’t the same. We could get economic growth from more jobs, or from working longer hours. But we could also substitute more capital for labor, or positive technology shocks could occur, or we could somehow get more productive.

      I’m no Obama apologist, but I do seem to remember that we were shedding a lot of jobs in 2009 thanks to the mess that Bush Jr. left us behind.

      Finally, let’s not forget; a survey of economists conducted believes that the uptick in stock prices reflects only a belief that corporate after-tax incomes will rise, and not that Trump’s policies will contribute to meaningfully more economic growth: http://www.igmchicago.org/surveys/trump-and-share-prices

      • John Huppenthal

        Your point is limited. GDP growth and job growth matched each other more closely in 2016 than you imply. Job growth was 1.5%, 2.4 million. GDP growth was 1.9%. Corporate Profit growth was also 1.9%.

        There is reason to believe that we could reverse these ratios. The Obamacare restrictions were estimated by CBO to have singlehandedly cost 2 million jobs. Companies just quit hiring when they hit the Obamacare thresholds. You can see it in the trends. These small companies have traditionally been the engine for job growth – not for the last 4 years.

        But, even if these ratios hold, a 4% increase in corporate profits and gdp growth would be a 3.1% increase in employment – 365,000 jobs a month as compared to Obama, 2016 at less than 190 thousand a month.

        That labor demand almost certainly would begin to driver wages – which is likely why the fed is freakin and beginning to drive interest rates. They are seeing this all begin to unfold in their data. There is enough money circulating to drive an economy of 36 trillion. MZM velocity is the lowest in recorded history. There is enough rocket fuel just sitting there to take this economy to Mars and back in short order.

        • The velocity of money argument is something I don’t buy, since the quantity of money isn’t an exogenous variable; the multiple rounds of QE greatly increased the supply of high-powered money, which in turn led to the velocity of money because the banking system was tightening its lending standards and recapitalizing off the yield curve. It’s also unlikely that the Fed wouldn’t take action if wages started to rise; it has historically used wage growth as a leading indicator of inflationary expectations, and tightened monetary policy accordingly. (Not that I think this is necessarily a good thing; just my observation of what has historically happened.)

          I am also curious how many small businesses have been created because provisions in the ACA guaranteeing the ability to purchase a health insurance plan has led people to start new businesses because they no longer need to be tethered to a large employer in order to get insurance through that employer’s group plan. While we don’t have perfect estimates on the degree of job-lock that has been mitigated by the ACA, it’s not zero.

          It’s also not the case that we should expect those ratios to continue to hold, because the corporate tax cuts being proposed are an exogenous policy shock which will contribute directly toward increased corporate profits, but at best indirectly toward real growth, as that survey of economists has linked. I do believe this will contribute further toward an economy where asset income takes up a larger share of national income, and wage income will be less important, leaving behind too many people who don’t have asset ownership; over 80% of stock in this country is owned by the top 10%; even if the bottom half has some indirect ownership through retirement accounts, the averages pale in comparison to what the very wealthy has access to.

          • John Huppenthal

            Well, you have your prediction, your model and your ideas. I have mine. We shall see what the future holds.

            If Obamacare drove small business formation, we sure didn’t see it in the numbers. Small business formation rate fell to a 40 year low, right in sync with the crushing burden of 170,000 pages in the Code of Federal Regulations of which Obamacare regulations were the most cruel.

            Saying that money supply is an “exogenous” variable is an article of faith among economists – in a terribly insecure profession, it makes economists gods by making the chairman of the federal reserve so important.

            Only problem – its not true. This is such a keystone of the liberal state that they were willing to give Milton Friedman a noble prize for stating that money supply is so important. But, go read Friedman’s book in detail. As he discusses the Great Depression and the role monetary theory played he talks about how money supply shrunk in the 30’s. Then, he debates with himself, if the Feds had kept money supply going up, would velocity have been positively correlated with money supply? He concludes that it would have been. As I read that discussion, I think he knew the opposite but he chose money, power and prestige over truth.

            Money supply had nothing to do with the Great Depression – it was endogenous, not exogenous.

            Conservatives would be shocked to know that, in this Great Recession, the feds have been pursuing the Friedman game plan – to the hilt. But, the results have thoroughly proven Friedman wrong. Money supply has been highly negatively correlated with velocity. So much so that as money supply has reached all time record levels, velocity is at the lowest level in recorded history.

            If economics were a science, we would draw conclusions from this experience.

            This behavior and its corollary beliefs have approached the bizarre. An economist named John B Taylor developed “Taylor Rules” for governing money supply. Almost instantly, these rules were proven worthless – they require information which is only available after the fact. But, they live on as talisman among economists, proof that economists can rule the world and create Utopian outcomes.

          • I think we actually agreed that the money supply was endogenous and is negatively correlated with the velocity of money, although I think we expressed it in very different words and talked right past each other on this issue.

            But yes, only time will tell what works and what doesn’t. I don’t see Trump’s policies (more deficit spending on national defense, tightening of immigration policy, more tax cuts for the wealthy, etc.) to be good for growth. Your models suggest otherwise. We’ll see what happens.

  2. clapper on meet the press also said he saw no evidence of collusion because their is none. ask your self collusion to do what? if you say influence the election. how? wickileaks only confirmed why I and others were voting for jill stein. trump campaign had nothing to do with leaks. it did not makes us vote for jill stein. clintons iraq war vote cost her nomination in 2008 and election in 2016 not russian hacking. the media is pushing this porno to appeal to the pruient interests of liberal elitists. stop this crap and do stores on how we can appeal to white working class women in arizona. every republican senator won in every state trump carried this was not the fault of russian hacking.

  3. Well, what a shock. Trump is exhibiting the exact same behavior that he did as Birther King. Except as the president his lunatic rants are taken more seriously. But no one should ever give him credit for having actual facts or even thinking that facts are necessary for him to vent his fury on Twitter, his favorite place for venting.

    The most serious issue that is emerging from this Trump presidency is whether or not the nation can survive it. How resilient are we really? When this is over, what will we have lost? How many steps can we take backwards before we have actually changed our direction?

    • Of course we can survive it, Liza! Heck, we could have survived Hillary. We are a rather resilient Nation with a lot of built in safeguards to keep us going in spite of a bad president here or there. Keep your chin up, do what you think is important, and have faith! It would take something really drastic for us to stumble and fail. Trump isn’t it…

      • For Sure Not Tom

        You are living with blinders on. Nothing happening is normal.

        Steve Bannon is a White Nationalist running the White House with the full trust of the POTUS. He has brought in the fraud Sebastian Gorka and the ideologue Stephen Miller, two people who are even more racist and less qualified than Bannon to run a White House.

        Gorka has ties to actual nazi groups in Europe.

        Trump is the “blunt instrument”, Bannon’s words, that he is using to push his agenda. Trump is not the POTUS. He’s too immature and petty to lead, but those are the perfect traits for Bannon to manipulate. Bannon is working to give Reince the boot. You can read about that in right wing media.

        But only right wing media, because all other media is fake news.

        Bannon’s stated goal, as a self proclaimed Leninist, is to burn it all down. Not just the USA, but every government everywhere. He wants a world divided into 7 nationalist regions based on race.

        He has stated his preference for a Catholic Dictatorship as the only acceptable form of government for what will be the former USA.

        He has called for bloody wars with Iran and China as a means to jump start the end. There is no reason to go to war with either.

        He has stated we are in a fourth and bloody phase of history that will lead to massive changes around the world. This is a silly view of history but Bannon’s just that nuts.

        They appointed people to lead departments they want to destroy, they will not fill all the open jobs because that’s how they destroy the government, they starve the beast, they let it rot. The federal government will be in disarray in months.

        They are increasing military spending in advance of Bannon’s wars. They are increasing the debt hoping at some point that will contribute to the downfall of the USA.

        Bannon is intentionally angering our allies in Muslim countries, exactly what Bin Laden and ISIS want, to fan the flames of jihad and turn the USA against muslims and muslims against the USA.

        Bannon is intentionally angering the left in this country. He wants us in the streets protesting so he can exploit the fringe elements, the handful of Black Bloc idiots who no one wants at these marches, the violent anarchists who do not represent liberals.

        We need to choose our resistance tactics carefully and not play his game.

        They appointed racist pig Jeff Sessions to lead the DOJ, so when we see anti-American fascist actions being taken and we march in protest, they can crack down on the protests with impunity, knowing the DOJ won’t do squat.

        LOE’s know it’s head bustin’ time. The Constitution is being ignored.

        Nothing going on now is normal. Ignoring Bannon’s words and deeds is how we lose the USA.

        Disagreement is built into the Constitution. We’re supposed to have multiple points of view and work toward what works, but Bannon wants to burn the Constitution and have us all bowing to a pope of his choosing (he is openly hostile to Pope Francis).

        None of this is secret, you can go back and read Bannon’s words and watch his speeches on youtube. It’s a coup in plain site.

        Thinking that the USA is nothing like the Roman or English empires is foolish. Believing that America as a great democracy will live forever is foolish.

        The GOP is looking the other way when it comes to Bannon, hoping to get their agenda passed. But it turns out they don’t actually have an agenda, they just been against Obama. See today’s GOP healthcare bill for proof.

        Bannon says “we win when they don’t know what we’re doing”, but he’s an idiot, because we can all see what he’s doing.

        We all sat back and said Hillary is going to win, no doubt, and we were all wrong. Thinking that Bannon can’t pull off his sick version of a new world is falling into the same trap.

        It can’t happen here, right? Even some Republicans are calling for Bannons’ ouster. This is not a left/right issue. Bannon’s insane and driving the bus.

        Nothing happening now is normal, and I’m not bowing to anyone, let alone a fascist pope.

        • This: “Believing that America as a great democracy will live forever is foolish.”

        • “You are living with blinders on. Nothing happening is normal.”

          I never said things were “normal”. There is no such thing as a “normal Presidency”. Each President leaves his particular flavor on the Presidency. What I did say was that the United States will survive any Presidency because we are resilient.

          “Bannon is intentionally angering the left in this country.”

          You talk about me having blinders, Tom. No one is angering the left to get them marching in the streets. That is their natural state. The left is always prepared to march in the streets if things don’t go thier way. Bannon has nothing to do with it.

          “He wants us in the streets protesting so he can exploit the fringe elements, the handful of Black Bloc idiots who no one wants at these marches, the violent anarchists who do not represent liberals.”

          Again, you are fooling yourself if you really think these anarchists do not represent the left. Anarchists have always been associated with the left. They always appear when the left is marching. They are as much a part of the left as people like you, Tom. That may embarass you, but it is the sad truth. Bannon was not around all the other times that anarchists appeared at leftist rallies and marches. It is your own plague on the left.

          “…Bannon wants to burn the Constitution and have us all bowing to a pope of his choosing (he is openly hostile to Pope Francis).”

          It’s interesting, I am watching a Masterpeice Theater peice on Queen Victoria from the 1835 period and they were raising cain and worrying about Papists back then too. I mention that because it gives you a good word to use for Bannon: “Papist”. It has a long and storied history behind it and you can align yourself with centuries of Anti-Papists who feared Catholics deeply. Even if Bannon is a Papist, he won’t get much traction with it in this day and age.

          “It can’t happen here, right?”

          Probably not. Nothing short of an all out 2nd Civil War can bring on the drastic occurrences you discuss. We are not Rome where power is consolidated in a single individual and we have 1,000 years of decadence dragging us down. We are not England whose Empire was based on holding dozens of different nations and peoples under thrall and in control. We are the United States with a widely spread out government that has built in checks and balances that prevent a single person or a single branch from doing too much damage.

          I will grant you that if Bannon was able to trigger a civil war, I would be concerned, but I don’t see him as a catelyst.

          Frankly, Tom, I think your obsession with Bannon is misplaced. You sound a little unhinged about him. I just don’t see him having the power to do what you think he is doing. Regradless of what he has written or said, his power is VERY limited and I don’t see him getting out of control. He may try and he may make sounds like he is trying, but I don’t think he will.

          • For Sure Not Tom

            Thanks for sharing your feelings.

          • “Thanks for sharing your feelings.”

            I know you are being sarcastic, Tom, but your fixation on Bannon is not healthy. Since you suggested it, I did read up on him and I agree with you that he is a thoroughly unsavory individual with some sick ideas. I just don’t think he has what it takes to put those ideas into effect. However, if he does succeed, please accept my apologies in advance… ;o)

          • For Sure Not Tom

            Bannon has Trump deeper in his pocket than Cheney had Bush, and we have 4,000 dead American soldiers and another 40,000 wounded warriors to show for that.

            And a few hundred thousand dead civilians.

            We have ISIS and a middle east in worse shape then when Bush found it.

            And a few trillion in debt from the wars as well, but that’s a distant fourth, widows/widowers and motherless/fatherless children are still the number one reason not to trust these people on either side.

            Thinking it can’t happen here is how we got Trump. Believing the White House is how we got Iraq. Sorry, I’m going to disregard your feelings and take Bannon at his word.

            I’m not fixated, I just like to know who’s working for me.

            BTW, WorldNetDaily and Glenn Beck ran Van Jones out of the Obama White House for far, far less than Bannon has said and done. You conservatives sure are a loyal, look the other way bunch.

          • “Bannon has Trump deeper in his pocket than Cheney had Bush, and we have 4,000 dead American soldiers and another 40,000 wounded warriors to show for that.”

            Yet, somehow, we managed to survive Bush and Cheney. Just as we survived Obama and his casualties. We will also survive Trump and his legacy. Your fears, notwithstanding.

          • For Sure Not Tom

            4,000 dead American soldiers in Iraq did not survive Bush/Cheney.

            That’s 1000% more dead Americans that at Benghazi.

            Odd, thought you were a vet? Did you find the missing WMD’s while you were there and forget to tell us, or did those did those soldiers die for a lie?

          • “That’s 1000% more dead Americans that at Benghazi.”

            That’s odd that you forgot about the ones who died and were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan (and a dozen other little places too small to mention) under Obama. Or don’t they count?

            “Odd, thought you were a vet?

            I am. Very proudly so. Some of the soldiers who died and were wounded under Bush and Cheney were mine. I also had contemporaries who were also killed and wounded that were good friends. I, too, was wounded, but I never had any doubt it was for a good purpose. I retired before Obama took office, but I kept close ties with friends and cohorts who continued to serve. I have been asked to speak at graduations and other events back at the schools and for organization banquets and get-togethers.

            “…did those did those soldiers die for a lie?”

            During the time Bush and Cheney were in charge, the concensus in the military was still that we were there for a purpose. That feeling died under Obama. Given his directions and guidance to the military it was known that he simply wanted to fight to a stalemate in supporting puppet governments that increasingly demonstrated they were incapable of governing.

            Soldiers accept the fact that in doing their job they may be killed or wounded. They don’t want anything to happen to themselves or their friends, but they know it goes with the turf. However, if they are going to do that, they want to feel it is for a purpose. Obama did not give them that sense of purpose.

            If you had read contemporary military journals and blogs, and had met with Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, you would have seen good people functioning well in spite of their misgivings about the mission on which they were deployed for combat overseas. The Marines and Army Special Operations bore the brunt of Obama’s military missions and, while performing brilliantly, they became extremely cynical about what they were doing. It is a testimony to the dedication and patriotism of those people that they performed so professionally despite knowing they had neither the full support of, nor the confidence of, the White House.

  4. sen combs was on fox and was asked do you have hard evidence of collusion to commit a crime? sen. combs admitted that he did not. on the liberal news show they don’t ask democrats that question. as the song dirty launder says we can dance and sing and in the end we haven’t told you a thing. here is the hard evidence. dmc was hacked and information was given to wickileaks on democratic party COLUSION to help clinton and hurt sanders. and what the liberal elitists thought about coal satiate and rust belt voters. thats it. spinning innuendoes that meetings between trump people and rusk;s was criminal or crimes were committed. NO EVIDENCE when few times dems or called on for hard evidence of trump committing crimes with rusk’s this is pornagrphy for liberal elitists. why did rust belt coal country vote for trump not this crap. I want democrats to win 2018! the media has a loer rating then trump as they push this porn. we had better come up with real answers to real problems.

    • Very astute, censored. Of course you realize no one is listening?

    • For Sure Not Tom

      Everyone at the DNC and in the media is listening, Captain Censored.

      There’s a huge fight between the Sanders/Warren wing and the Wasserman-Schulz/HRC/Useless wing of the party, and the Sanders/Warren folks are chipping away and winning.

      By 2018 the Dems will be the party of the middle class again. Convincing the voters, we’ll see, I think Trump constantly punching himself in the face and Bannon so obviously trying to incite race wars will help.

      There’s also a huge debate going on in the media on how to cover Trump/Bannon. Ratings is winning that debate, but at least it’s happening.

      Steve saying no one is listening is based on his feelings or horoscope or something, I have no idea. I suppose he thinks his words of wisdom deflate the morale of progressives, they do the opposite.

      • John Huppenthal

        Maybe. Just as likely is that the middle class will look at Trump’s job creation of 400 thousand a month, compare it with Obama’s 120 thousand a month and say, nah we’ll stick with the Republicans.

        • What month was it that Trump created 400,000 jobs? He’s been president for six weeks and was inaugurated on Jan 20.

          https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

          That seems to indicate that 400,000 jobs per month is a prediction, not a reality.

        • For Sure Not Tom

          What color is the sky in your world, Falcon9?

          FYI, there’s already a noticeable Trump-Slump in the tourism industry.

          Bookings are down and more importantly, web searches for US visits (hotels and flights) are down 30% worldwide.

          Reconsider your airline and comfort industry stocks.

      • “Steve saying no one is listening is based on his feelings or horoscope or something, I have no idea.”

        No feelings, no horoscope, no ouija boards…just observation. The democrat party is run by people that don’t want to lose power, and so far they aren’t losing power. Even the new dnc chairman is an old line democrat who is preaching the same old stuff. What censored is preaching is very true. What you, Tom, are preaching is what is needed, but it isn’t happening like you say it is.

        “I suppose he thinks his words of wisdom deflate the morale of progressives, they do the opposite.”

        If only I had the power to affect anything with the liberals, I would be tickled pink. No one listens to me. I only post my opinion because it is fun, not because I think it is effective.

  5. “It would be a highly unusual breach of the Justice Department’s traditional independence on law enforcement matters for the White House to order it to turn over such an investigative document.”

    “Highly unusual”, h-m-m-m? But not impossible. What in todays politics isn’t highly unusual? Both of Obama’s Attorney Generals did several things that were highly unusual and nobody said a word. Things like staffing his Civil Rights Division with people that didn’t see “civil rights” as extending to whites. Or when his office never prosecuted a black person for a civil rights violation despite numerous opportunities to do so. Or when his Attorney General had a private meeting with the husband of the democrat Presidential candidate here in Phoenix. All “highly unususal”.

    “It would have meant that the Justice Department had gathered sufficient evidence to convince a federal judge that there was probable cause to believe Mr. Trump had committed a serious crime or was an agent of a foreign power…”

    Or, they could find a sympathetic liberal Judge who was happy to do something to hurt the Trump campaign any way he could. As a Judge he answers to no one and he could do whatever the hell he wanted to do. I am certain they could find many from which to choose.

    “A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” / “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.”

    “Plausible deniability”. The Presidents friend. Seemingly specific enough and yet just vague enough that, should evidence emerge to the contrary and some White House official is proven to have done it, you can always say, “He wasn’t one of the officials I was talking about.”

    “Rep. Nunes is an excellent reason why we need an independent special prosecutor to conduct this investigation.”

    Another independent special counsel?!?! How many of these special counsels are the democrats going to demand be appointed? Talk about a “throw things against the wall and hope something sticks” approach to investigation!! I guess if you are really not sure of what you have, or the validitiy of what you are doing, that is a way to go.

    I keep talking about “crisis fatigue” and keep being told that won’t happen. But I have an interest in politics and even I am beginning to tire of all the “huge crises” the democrats keeps coming up with as well as their never ending squawks that someone “must resign immidiately” for the good of the nation. That will be the day when a democrat worries about the good of the Nation where politics are concerned.

    “…Obama Derangement Syndrome…”

    Come on now, AzBM. Surely you can see that if there is any “derangement syndrome” going on, it has to be “Trump derangement syndrome” given the utter insanity the left is exhibiting when it comes to Trump. Every day it is something new, and every other day there is some parade or sit-in protesting him by a bunch of clowns dressed up and carrying silly signs.

    By the way, good job covering both sides of the issue. Seriously.

    • I don’t have the time, access, or wherewithal to delve into all the evidence about the truthfulness or nature of this allegation, so I won’t pretend that I know things that I don’t know. If there’s credible evidence that a crime may have been committed (on either side), it’s worth at least investigating further, but I reiterate that I don’t know what evidence exists on this particular string of allegations.

      What I do know is that ‘not-Trump’ isn’t going to be a winning strategy in 2018/2020 anymore than it was in 2016. Popular vote arguments aside, everyone knew the rules of the election, so to speak, and the HRC campaign was woefully inept, devoting a fair amount of resources to Arizona and not making even a single campaign appearance in Wisconsin (or Michigan; one of the two). The only way the left is going to win is if people are willing to engage the voters on issues important to them, and be willing to work with the voters, including those who don’t always share the same political ideology, in order to craft some solutions.

      Calling the voters a ‘basket of deplorables’ or saying that ‘47% of voters are freeloaders’ certainly doesn’t win elections!

      • I think you are a very dangerous man, Edward, because I think that you are correct. Fortunately, I don’t think most leftists are listening to the calm and reasoned voices in their ranks who have the right answers (like you do). ;o)

        I would bet money that in 2018, whatever candidates are running will still be saying “Not Trump!”. It’s a shame I can’t vote for you because I am not in your district. Even though we disagree, if I could I might vote for you just to see an honorable person elected. Seriously.

      • Edward, I think that the decimation of the social safety net is an issue that many voters will oppose once they realize it’s really happening. The order of decimation is:
        1. ACA
        2. Medicaid
        3. Medicare
        4. Social Security

        Of course, there is some overlap, but this is their vision, already in progress.

        • The statements that you and I made aren’t mutually contradictory, or at least, they don’t have to be.

          What I was attempting to say is that progressives/liberals/Democrats won’t be able to win just by saying ‘Vote against Trump’. There has to be some substance, some vision of an economic future. Trump may be a strongman demagogue, but he at least was speaking a message which resonated with enough voters. The message he was saying (roughly some combination of: ‘Immigrants and Foreigners are taking your good jobs, vote for me and I’ll restore your economic security’ and ‘Democrats are taking your tax dollars and giving it to welfare queens who don’t work; I’ll put that money back in your pocket’) is not objectively true, and the policies he proposes will probably not do good for the American worker, but he was at least saying something to an economically disaffected country. The Clinton Democrats never seemed to have a vision for changing the country; in aggregate, we can point to tepid-but-passable growth and employment figures and say that we’re doing better, but that ‘better’ isn’t being felt by enough people in enough places throughout the country.

          There was that famous quote 25 years ago: “It’s the _________, stupid”.

        • I certainly understand your point about the Clinton Democrats. And I believe it is important to face up to why the Democrats lost in 2016 and demand reforms in exchange for our support and our votes. I supported Bernie Sanders whose message and brand of populism appealed to the “economically disaffected” folks in the Midwest. And Bernie is still out there, so the Democrats have access to that should they choose to embrace it.

          I will admit to being deficient in my knowledge of the relationship between Obama and the Clinton establishment Democrats who rule the party. But I think it is obvious that the Democrats’ downward spiral began when they lost the House in 2010. And I also think that they lost the House because they failed to support their own president.

          It was Obama who understood that those lost blue collar jobs that paid a decent wage and had been the ticket into the middle class since the post WWII economic expansion were not coming back. He knew that the replacement jobs were in infrastructure building and repair, but once the GOP controlled the House, he couldn’t get a jobs bill legislated.

          There are those Democrats, of course, who argue that Obama squandered his political capital and his first two years on the ACA which should not have been his first priority, in their opinion. But, in my opinion, that is the hindsight excuse for losing in 2010.

          I never saw any real support for Obama in the Democratic establishment and I believe that is the root of their epic failure in 2016. Hillary was their girl from the get go. She unexpectedly lost to Obama in 2008, it was her turn in 2016, and by God, she would not be denied. Follow up with their anti-Bernie shenanigans and her tone deaf, Trump-is-a-monster billion dollar campaign. Obama showed them how to win, but they thought they knew better.

          I don’t know how much the Democratic party can change by 2018. Tom Perez as head of the DNC appears to be a reasonable choice, but I guess we’ll see. And I agree with you, that the Clinton Democrats don’t have the vision or the right message. But the Democrats, assuming they have better leadership going forward, have a real opportunity for a unified, stronger party by pivoting toward Obama and Sanders and meaning it.

          • “I supported Bernie Sanders whose message and brand of populism appealed to the “economically disaffected” folks in the Midwest.”

            Bernie was on to something, the same as Trump was. But in the end, Bernie sold out for a place at the table and Hillary squandered her obvious advantage in the wrong places taking things for granted that she shouldn’t have. Bernie didn’t have the horsepower to win at the convention, but if he had won, it would have been a much better race between Bernie and Trump, and I think Bernie might have won. But that is history…

            “Tom Perez as head of the DNC appears to be a reasonable choice, but I guess we’ll see.”

            I don’t know about that. Perez is rather mainstream democrat, I think. Ellison, as the Deputy Chairman, is probably more in the Bernie camp but I don’t know how much power he will wield. Like you said, though, we’ll see.

            “[Obama] knew that the replacement jobs were in infrastructure building and repair, but once the GOP controlled the House, he couldn’t get a jobs bill legislated.”

            That’s just an excuse. I think Obama could have done better had he tried. I think he was just to arrogant to give it the right juice to work it through the system. Obama was never one to negotiate. Had he been willing to do so, I think his Presidency would have been more successful.

            “Obama showed them how to win, but they thought they knew better.”

            So did Bill Clinton, but both held no favor in Hillary’s eyes and she didn’t think she needed their advice. Another case of “what might have been” had she listened to them.

          • I don’t think that Bernie sold out. He couldn’t win the Democratic nomination regardless. Remember the superdelegates? Bernie never had any intention of running as an independent because he couldn’t win and it would have guaranteed Hillary’s losing.

            Bernie’s only choice was “the seat at the table” to advocate for a progressive agenda, as much as he could get. This, of course, was back in the days when Hillary was a sure thing.

            I do agree with you that Bernie and Trump were essentially on to the same thing at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Bernie was at a disadvantage, however, because mainstream media refused to cover his rallies.

            I really like Bernie Sanders but I guess it wasn’t his time. The die hard Democrats were vehemently opposed to him, many for the simple reason that he wasn’t a Democrat. That kind of exclusionary thinking plus their rigid adherence to the unproven belief that Hillary could defeat any challenger (except Obama) has cost them dearly.

          • For Sure Not Tom

            How did Bernie “sell out”?

            Bernie ran as a Democrat, but he’s not, and now that the campaign is over he’s an Independent again.

            Bernie could have said screw you dems, you didn’t pick me, instead he worked to beat Trump, worked with his former opponent, and that’s called putting country over party.

            Bernie’s a Patriot. The GOP knows Trump’s not qualified but they put party over country. They are not Patriots.

        • John Huppenthal

          The social safety net has been decimated for the last 8 years. The Social Security and Medicare bankruptcy dates have come roaring forward.

          The viability of these funds as well a pension funds for teachers, police and firefighters is a direct function of economic growth. Obama growth has been weak, weak, weak causing danger, danger, danger to these social safety net programs.