Friday, September 22, 2017

Mueller is moving as quickly as he can and is taking his mandate very seriously, one government official told The Washington Post. . . . “I am convinced that no matter where they end up, this investigation will run to completion even if they fire Mueller,” the official said. “There is a feeling of inevitability now that we didn’t have before — not of the outcome of the investigation but that there will be an outcome. There is no escaping this thing, whatever the conclusions.”

What a week!

Here are the 13 areas in which Mueller is investigating Trump
  1. Internal communications and documents related to Mike Flynn’s FBI interview in January.
  2. Documents related to Flynn`s conversations with the Russian ambassador in December.
  3. Records on acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ warnings to the White House about Flynn.
  4. Materials related to Flynn’s departure from the White House.
  5. Communications on Trump’s campaign foreign-policy team, which may have included at least one suspected Russian agent.
  6. Documents related to Trump’s meetings with former FBI Director James Comey before his firing.
  7. Records of internal White House discussions about Comey’s firing.
  8. Documents related to external White House communications about Comey’s firing.
  9. Documents related to Sean Spicer’s comments about Comey the week before his firing.
  10. Materials related to Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russian officials the day after Comey’s firing.
  11. Records related to last summer’s Trump Tower meeting between top members of Trump’s team and Putin-connected Russians.
  12. Documents related to the White House’s response to media inquiries about the Trump Tower meeting.
  13. Any email or document the White House holds that relates to Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman.
Make that 14:
Special counsel Robert Mueller has sought phone records concerning the statement written aboard Air Force One defending a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russians at Trump Tower last year that was set up by Donald Trump Jr. . . . 

Paul Manafort really, really, really wanted to work for Trump's campaign, and offered to work for free (when did Manafort ever do anything for free?). Given what we know now about his efforts on behalf of the Russians, some obvious questions present themselves
How Did Trump Find Manafort In the First Place?
I wasn’t surprised to see that ex-CIA chief of staff Jeremy Bash was on television yesterday saying that it is quite possible that Paul Manafort was sent to the Trump campaign by the Russians. . . .
The emails reviewed by the Post strongly suggest that Manafort saw his top perch in the Trump campaign as a way to make money – either to drum up new business in what used to be the USSR or to collect on debts he thought various ex-clients owed him. The Post referenced one email where Manafort asked his colleague “How do we use [this] to get whole?” That is to say, how do we capitalize on this new-found opportunity to get financially sound again, to make a bunch of money? I don’t think we should dismiss the possibility that Manafort didn’t need direction. Or to put it another way, Manafort – sensing an opportunity for the big, big money –  might have found opportunities to be helpful or clearly friendly as a way to facilitate that expressed desire to cash in on Trump. 

Given What We Know Now, Some Of The Steele Dossier’s Claims Aren’t So Crazy 

Every contact (that we know of) between Trump's people and the Russians

The Facebook connection
When I asked Bannon about whether Thiel had some part in the data operation leading up to the election, he said, “When I joined the campaign, we were 16 points down and 85 days out. So I wasn’t working closely with Peter at that point.” He paused for a moment and then added, “Jared was interfacing with him pretty regularly.” On data?, I asked. “Data and other things. Ask Jared.” A source close to Kushner, however, denied that Thiel “worked with Jared on the campaign’s data operation.” The role that data played in Trump’s victory appears to be of particular interest to legislators and prosecutors delving into the campaign’s interactions with Russian associates. As has been widely reported, separate probes, in the words of the McClatchy news service, have been “examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation—overseen by Jared Kushner—helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.”

Trump's comment:
“The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?”  
      — President Trump, on Twitter

Just about perfect (thanks to BR for the link)
Trump is a weak man’s idea of a strong one. He’s the warped American ideal of masculinity, supposedly fearless and supposedly strong, but in actuality little more than bluster. 

The latest bribe for Lisa Murkowski to get her to vote to take away Obamacare for everybody else is that people in HER state would get to keep it

The Republican Plan to Repeal Obamacare for Everybody But Alaska Might Be Unconstitutional

No, Graham-Cassidy does not protect coverage for pre-existing conditions

Trump has created a culture of entitlement in which people have no problem spending public money for their own convenience
Price traveled by private plane at least 24 times
HHS Explains Tom Price Spent $300K on Private Jets Because He’s a Man of the People

Ordinarily in a situation like this, officials might try to lean on their reputation, hoping their record and history of credibility might lead others to give them the benefit of the doubt. In Price’s case, however, that really isn’t an option. . . . [read on]
Pruitt’s Security Detail Has Swelled to 18 People  

This Alabama senate race is fascinating. You've got the far-right nut case who Trump supports -- and then there's the guy who's even worse

The new uses of Facebook to target Trump supporters (thanks to RR for the link)
"There's been a lot of noise and a lot of rumors," reads the text of a Facebook ad from Trump's personal Facebook page that was targeted to specific users in recent days. "....WE WILL BUILD A WALL (NOT A FENCE) ALONG THE SOUTHERN BORDER OF THE UNITED STATES..." The ad concludes with a pitch for donations.

Breitbart now assumes the mantle of the Trump agenda. . . against Trump

Bonus item: Late night humor has become a major political force: Jimmy Kimmel on health care

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Thursday, September 21, 2017


There is a real feeling now of accelerating developments with the Trump-Russia case
Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire ‘private briefings’ on 2016 campaign . . . [I]nvestigators believe that the exchanges, which reflect Manafort’s willingness to profit from his prominent role alongside Trump, created a potential opening for Russian interests at the highest level of a U.S. presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the probe.

Manafort used his Trump campaign email account to correspond with a Ukranian associate who has previously been reported to have suspected ties to Russian intelligence, Politico reported Wednesday. His emails have been turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigators. Manafort, who has been the subject of an FBI investigation for three years, has denied ever "knowingly" communicating with Russian intelligence operatives during the election. . . .

Paul Manafort: a timeline

And now this . . .
NYT: Mueller has sought range of records that center Russia probe 'squarely' on Trump

Mueller Wants Lots of White House Documents. Trump May Be Forced to Comply.
This report tells us why Trump is so afraid of Robert Mueller’s investigation

Trump's Sect'y of State doesn't know what Trump has decided about the Iran deal. I mean, why would HE need to know? 

One of the dumbest excuses by Trump's defenders is that we don't "know" if Russian interference affected the outcome. First of all, the Russians certainly think it did. Second of all. . . YES IT DID
REPORT: Facebook Group With Alleged Russia Ties Pushed Pro-Trump Rallies 

Every major health care organization, and lots of insurers, HATE the GOP health care bill
Health care stakeholders to Republicans: Please stop
Insurers Say GOP Bill Would Create Chaos  

The GOP health care push is down to the bribing individual senators stage

Bill Cassidy just won't stop lying about his healthcare bill

The Republicans don't know what is in the bill or what it will do, but they're ready to vote for it
“Senate Republicans are on the verge of passing a sweeping health care bill not only without knowing what’s in it, but without particularly caring. The political abstraction of ‘Obamacare’ — and the seven years of promises to ‘repeal Obamacare’ — have almost totally overshadowed even the broad strokes of policy, much less the details,” Axios reports. Said one GOP lobbyist: “I am just in shock how no one actually cares about the policy any more.” . . .

On health care, the GOP literally doesn’t know what it’s doing 

This might be whistling in the dark, but I do think that a "win" on repealing Obamacare could be a political loser for them in the long run
Why Democrats Should Love the GOP Health Care Plan
Single-payer won’t be easy for Democrats — but Republicans are helping

The biggest impediment to Trump's Wall: the lawsuits. Here they come

Trump Refers To Country That Doesn’t Exist At UN Lunch With African Leaders

And then he said this:
U.S. President Donald Trump was met with silence from African leaders Wednesday when he tried to congratulate them for the economic progress the continent has made.  "Africa has tremendous business potential. I've so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich," Trump told them at a luncheon Wednesday . . . The suggestion that wealthy Americans might be trying to enrich themselves in Africa would have been a sensitive one at the event, given that African labor and natural resources were subjected to centuries of European and American exploitation in the colonial era, including during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sharing its URL ( with others via email or social media. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


In spring and early summer 2016, three guys were put at the heart of the Trump campaign with direct (and shady) Russia ties. A simple question: WHY? 

Five Questions About the Manafort Investigation
That Manafort was under investigation seems completely reasonable, considering:
  • Manafort met with Russian officials in 2005 and offered to help Vladimir Putin influence US politics to benefit Russia.
  • Manafort helped to organize anti-Nato, anti-America “protests” in Ukraine that including attacks on US marines. These funded protests served as an excuse to move Ukraine away from the west and provided Vladimir Putin a reason to invade Crimea.
  • He failed to register as a foreign agent until June of 2017, despite years of taking money from pro-Russian factions in Ukraine and using it in an attempt to influence US lawmakers.
  • He took as much as $20 million in off the books funding from pro-Russian forces, money that was funneled through Cyprus banks and connected to Trump associate Felix Sater.
  • He’s under investigation in Ukraine for work for pro-Russian forces that seemed to continue even after Manafort returned to the United States and for his involvement in an ongoing corruption case.
  • He not only got a loan that represented just under the legal limit from a private bank, he failed to pay taxes on at least one of his loans.
  • He not only represented Russian puppet Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine, but also Philippine kleptocrat Ferdinand Marcos, Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, and Angolan guerilla leader Jonas Savimbi—earning Manafort the reputation as the go-to lobbyist for dictators.
All of that was before Manafort took a role in the Trump campaign.
The biggest revelation in the latest reporting is that Manafort was in communication with the president during a time in which he was under electronic surveillance. That opens up the possibility of a smoking gun intercept that could take Trump down. The president isn’t exactly known for his situational awareness and discretion, so I wouldn’t discount the possibility that he implicated himself in a crime while chatting with Manafort on the phone. 

No, the fact that Manafort was wiretapped, and that some of his conversations with Trump might have been recorded, doesn't "vindicate" Trump's outrageous claim that Obama wiretapped HIM  

And by the way, why WAS Trump continuing to talk to Manafort?
Michael Cohen's big mouth gets him in trouble (again)
Senate Intel Committee quashes meeting with Trump's lawyer for violating agreement to keep quiet

Team Trump’s latest defense in Mueller probe: Trump is the victim here  

Joe Scarborough: Trump staffers should get smart, save themselves
"You know Bob Mueller and from the very beginning, you told us Mueller does not play around," Joe Scarborough said to Mike Barnicle. "He is the antithesis of everything Donald Trump is. He is a man that repeatedly throughout his entire life believed that if you have integrity, nothing else matters and if you don't have integrity, nothing else matters. He is straight out of a sort of an Untouchables movie." [read on] 

Well, you know HE'S not going to pay for it
The Trump campaign and the RNC are now paying Trump’s legal bills in the Russia case
Trump, at the U.N., speaks like the Great Statesman we all know he is
President Donald Trump condemned authoritarian regimes in harsh and Trumpian terms during his first United Nations speech, threatening to "totally destroy" North Korea, lamenting Iran’s “pursuit of death and destruction,” and warning that major portions of the world are “going to hell.” The president spoke before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, delivering what a senior administration official described beforehand as a “deeply philosophical address” promoting his vision of “principled realism.”
Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations was highlighted—in the most bizarre sense of the word—by his direct threat to North Korea. “If it is forced to defend itself or it’s allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself, and for his regime.” CNN has reported that this line was Trump’s personal contribution to the speech and that he “insisted” that it be left in. . . .
Trump Trashes Iran Nuclear Deal As An ‘Embarrassment’ At The UN
Trump To UN: America Will Not Be ‘Taken Advantage Of’ On The World Stage

“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” Trump said. “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States and I don’t think you have heard the last of it, believe me.” Trump’s speech was so over-the-top in its saber-rattling that George W. Bush’s former UN advisor John Bolton praised it as the best speech of Trump’s presidency on Fox News. Ambassador Bolton was followed on the right-wing network by Republican Rep Ron DeSantis of Florida who called Trump’s address a “tour de force.
Fact-checking Trump’s U.N. speech

A range of reactions to Trump's speech: from Benjamin Netanyahu (loved it!) to Chief of Staff John Kelly (not so much!)

Colonel Sanders says that Obama engaged in the same saber-ratting with North Korea as Trump is doing now -- and selectively edits a quote to "prove" it. Here is the full quote, which actually says the OPPOSITE of Trump

Hey, maybe Kim Jong-Un LIKES being called "Rocket Man"
What the hell IS Rex Tillerson doing with his time?
Rex Tillerson a no-show at the United Nations

Is Summer Zervos going to become Trump's Paula Jones?

The Cesspool
Trump is gaining cash based on his policies as president

Government study shows how refugees help the U.S. economy. So you know what happened to it

Stop me if you've heard this before: the Senate is rushing and bending its own rules to ram through a bill affecting one fifth of the economy, without any clear sense of its policy consequences, simply because of the urgency to pass SOMETHING
Lindsey Graham says the real target of his bill isn't Obamacare, it's single payer health care. Here's an argument that its passage could make single payer MORE likely 

Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican freshman from Louisiana, said yesterday that he likes the idea of turning health care over to the states – the core rationale behind the pending Graham-Cassidy proposal – but he’s not entirely comfortable with the direction some blue states might take, “If you give California and New York a big chunk of money, they’re gonna set up a single-payer system,” the GOP senator said. “And I wanna prevent that.” It’s curious. Republicans only seem to like turning over authority to states and local governments when they’re confident states and local governments will govern in a conservative way. . .  [read on]
Trumpcare 3.0 Will Eliminate Health Insurance For 25 Million People

Did the Bernie and the Dems jump the gun by trumpeting their intentions on single payer, giving the Graham-Cassidy bill an unintended boost?

Trying to represent Graham-Cassidy as the only game in town, the House and the WH say they will never back stabilization "fixes" to Obamacare

Lindsay Graham brags about his shockingly cynical strategy to repeal Obamacare
The staggering hypocrisy of Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham  

McCain says he will insist on "regular order" for the Graham-Cassidy bill. That's not going to happen. So then what will he do?
GOP rushes to pass Trumpcare through irregular order
McCain Faces a New Test of His Principles 

The Two Republicans Who Will Likely Determine Obamacare's Fate

Can the Dems use procedural tactics to run out the clock on this abomination? 

What will the House do if it comes to them? The only option will be passing it as-is 

Congress passes a Defense bill even bigger than Trump asked for 

No, the Repubs don't care about budget deficits at all -- when they're causing them

Theocracy watch
Former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore (R), a controversial religious conservative running for Senate, claimed earlier this year that “shootings and killings” in the United States take place because “we’ve taken God out of everything.” . . . “You wonder why we’re having shootings and killings in 2017? Because we’ve asked for it. We’ve taken God out of everything,” he said. “We’ve taken prayer out of school. We’ve taken prayer out of council meetings.”

Tribalism: the Founding Fathers worried about it, and it's still a problem

A glimpse into race in America
New study: White people lack empathy across the socioeconomic spectrum

What Whiteness Looks Like From a Black Perspective 

Go away, Bill. Just go away
O’Reilly reemerges on NBC, viciously attacks women who accused him of sexual harassment

Another former Fox News employee is filing a sexual harassment suit against the network

You can talk about "liberal media" all you want -- but it is the Republicans who have erased the line between "news" and "political party"


***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sharing its URL ( with others via email or social media. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***