Saturday, September 23, 2017


It's happening already
“A fast-growing number of White House staffers are starting to look for the exits, even though the one-year mark of President Trump’s first term is still months away. Many who joined the administration in January did so with the explicit idea that they’d stay for at least a year, enough to credibly say they’d served,” Politico reports.

Who WAS Paul Manafort working for?

The Trumpians declare war against Manafort (anticipating that he might flip against Trump or others?)
[Corey Lewandowski] President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager said Tuesday that he hoped any of Trump’s campaign staff who may be found to have improperly influenced the 2016 election “go to jail for the rest of their lives.” . . . “I think if anybody, and I’ve said this, if Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, or Rick Gates or Carter Page, or anybody else attempted to influence the outcome of the U.S. election through any means that’s inappropriate — through collusion, coordination, or cooperation — I hope they go to jail for the rest of their lives,” Lewandowsi said, as quoted by the Examiner.
Trump vs. Manafort? The White House sounds ready to go to war.

Ah, we'll hear a lot more about this. The new defense of Trump over Russia allegations is that it was the FBI's fault for not warning him about what his own staff -- and his own son and son in law -- were doing. How could he have known? It's not his fault!

Russian Facebook ads "the tip of the iceberg"

CNN: Gorka Monitored Russian Twitter Propaganda Account During Election

Where Trump's legal defense funds come from (thanks to RR for the link) 
President Donald Trump’s attorneys in the probe of Russian election interference are being funded in part through a Republican Party account with a handful of wealthy donors—including a billionaire investor, a property developer seeking U.S. government visas and a Ukrainian-born American who has made billions of dollars doing business with Russian oligarchs. . . .

21 state election systems were hit by hackers  

BREAKING NEWS: John McCain, Rand Paul, and Susan Collins look like pretty firm "no's." That's enough to sink the Graham-Cassidy bill, and there's Lisa Murkowski too. But don't stop pressing! 

The attempt to buy off Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski runs into a big problem 

A hell of a way to reform health care
Next week's expiration of the rule allowing Republicans to pass a bill without any Democratic support has “concentrated Republican minds,” said Dean Clancy, a conservative health policy analyst who supports the plan. “This is their last chance to show they can govern on health care, and if they can’t govern on health care, what can they govern on?” . . . “They all hate health care,” said a GOP lobbyist on background. “They don’t know where to go on it. They just want to take a vote and be done with it.” . . .   “The substance really doesn’t matter”
Several White House officials described the president as determined to sign something — anything, really.  . . .
Trump aides ‘aren’t sure’ about real-world impact of repeal bill

Poll: only 24% of Americans approve of Graham-Cassidy
First Poll on Graham-Cassidy Shows It’s Unpopular. It’s Only Going to Get Worse. 

Still waiting for the partial, incomplete CBO score of the bill. Meanwhile, we have this
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), projects federal health care spending would be $18 billion lower in 2026 under the latest Republican health care bill than under current law. In all, 31 states would receive less federal money for providing their residents with health insurance. . . .

And this:
These estimates from the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy project:
  • 15 million fewer people with insurance in 2018 and 2019, versus current law;
  • 21 million fewer insured by 2026; 
  • 32 million fewer Americans with coverage after 2026 if the funding provided in the Obamacare repeal bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is not reauthorized by Congress.
And this:
Medicaid Directors From Red And Blue States Reject Graham-Cassidy Repeal

And this:
Governors become important foes of Republican repeal plan

The White House isn’t sure how Trumpcare would impact the country. We collected the data for them.

Pretty impressive
Here’s a list of medical groups opposing the Cassidy-Graham health-care bill

This is no coincidence - look at how Graham-Cassidy affects red versus blue states

How Graham-Cassidy Would Affect Women

It looks as if Graham-Cassidy may not happen before the Sept 30 deadline. The bad news is that the Repubs can just restart the reconciliation process on January 1

Fox World helpfully frames the health care debate, in a totally objective and unbiased way
How Fox News is framing the health care debate: it’s either Graham-Cassidy or single-payer

In Alabama, Trump rants and rages against John McCain and the GOPers who oppose him on health care
“They gave me a list of 10 people that were absolute no’s. There are 10 republican senators. Now, John McCain—John McCain was not on the list, and that was a totally unexpected thing. Honestly, terrible,” Trump said as the crowd booed emphatically at the mention of McCain. “Repeal and replace, because John McCain, you look at his last campaign and it was all about repeal and replace. So he decided to do something different, and that’s fine… We’re going to do it eventually.” . . .
Perhaps some people beyond Alabama tuned into the speech to see if the president would visibly freak out over today’s developments in the Senate, where John McCain announced his opposition to the Graham-Cassidy legislation that Trump and other Republicans were pushing as a last-gasp effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump did mention it several times, at first mildly, as though it was a minor setback, but eventually he was bellowing at the GOP (not McCain or anyone else specifically) for once again breaking its promise to repeal Obamacare. Perhaps the oddest moment was when Trump suggested that it’s no time to stop the Obamacare repeal effort when Republicans are so close to 50 votes. Does he not understand the September 30 deadline for qualifying the bill as a budget reconciliation measure? Does he want to put aside his tax bill to go after health care one more time? It’s not clear, but it makes no less sense than Trump’s constantly repeated claims (and yes, he said it again tonight) that getting rid of the power of Democrats to stop bills with a filibuster would somehow get Republicans the votes of 50 of their own senators. . . .

Trumps advisors warned him not to antagonize Kim Jong-Un at the U.N. But he couldn't stop himself

Trump wants to expand the travel ban, which is set to expire soon

Our Leader, who has been hammering the Iran deal since the campaign, now wants to punt the issue over to Congress

HHS Sect'y Tom Price takes all those private plane trips (on the public dime) because "the left wants him dead"


The White House won't defend his actions
“The White House says it didn’t sign off on what are reportedly at least two dozen private jet trips made by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price,” Bloomberg reports. . . .

A grifter's gonna grift
Corey Lewandowski appears to be working with another lobbying firm

Trump thinks the perfectly named Moore-Strange senate contest on Alabama is all about him. (It's always all about him) 
Trump: Strange has 'gained mightily' since my endorsement

At the rally:
“I shouldn’t be doing it — the last thing I want to do is be involved in a primary,” Mr. Trump said, adding, almost as if to himself: “I might have made a mistake.” If Mr. Strange loses, he mused aloud, adopting the dramatic tone of a television newscaster, it will be portrayed as “a total embarrassment” for him.  . . . “I’m taking a big risk, because if Luther doesn’t make it, they’re going to go after me,” the president said of the news media.  Mr. Trump assured the crowd that should that happen, he would intensively back Mr. Strange’s rival, drawing an ovation from the arena’s capacity crowd even as he essentially undercut his own message days before voters go to the polls.  “If his opponent wins, I’m going to be here campaigning like hell for him,” Mr. Trump said, although he added that Mr. Moore “has a very good chance of not winning” in the general election against a Democrat

Our weird, weird world. Now Sarah Palin, back from the dead of political irrelevance, is attacking Trump for being captured by "the Swamp"
Although Strange has far outspent Moore and secured the endorsements of the president, Vice President Pence and many Republican Party leaders, Moore outperformed Strange in the primary last month and has been leading in the polls. Moore also picked up the endorsements of Trump's former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, Fox News personality Sean Hannity, radio show host Laura Ingraham, Palin and the pro-Trump Great America political action committee. A woman sitting in the front row at Moore's rally on Thursday wore a red “Make America Great Again” visor and held a homemade sign that read: “Mr. President and Mr. V.P. I love you, but you are WRONG! America needs Judge Moore.” 

Of course, he constantly wanders off message
He indulged himself on several pet topics that were of no apparent help to Mr. Strange, including the president’s Electoral College success, his decision to work with congressional Democrats and what he argued was the growing penchant of N.F.L. referees to throw flags for hard hits. . . .
The longer Trump spoke, the more it became a typical Trump speech, full of rambling boasts and expressions of long-held grievances. He returned to familiar attacks on “Crooked Hillary” and extended chest-beating about the brilliance of his presidential campaign. And he veered off into a condemnation of the namby pamby nature of contemporary pro football, and of a player whose approval ratings in Alabama are surely worse than Hillary Clinton’s–Colin Kaepernick, who he called a “son of a bitch” who he wished NFL owners would “get off the field”. . . .

Trump's voter suppression committee shows its true colors

White nationalism: the glue that binds the Russians and the Alt-right together

How the Dems and Repubs use the rhetoric of persuasion

Bonus item: Hilarious -- a halfway house for former Trumpians
 “It’s true these guys got wrapped up with the wrong people, but I firmly believe everyone has value no matter badly they’ve screwed up their lives.” . . .[read on]

***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.***

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

***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!

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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.***