Monday, July 24, 2017


Good to see them getting their communications issues all straightened out
Jay Sekulow: “Pardons have not been discussed and pardons are not on the table”
Scaramucci Contradicts Sekulow: I Talked About Pardons 'In The Oval Office With The President'
Sanders, Scaramucci On Different Pages About WH Support For Sanctions Bill

Newly appointed White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci suggested that if Trump did not have confidence in Sessions, he would no longer be attorney general. “I want to leave that for the President and Attorney General Sessions to talk about themselves. My guess is, is that he’s in the seat, and so therefore the President still has confidence in him,” Scaramucci said . . . On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Scaramucci said that Trump’s criticism was “not that big of a deal.” . . .

On ABC News’ “This Week,” Sanders said Trump remains “disappointed” that Sessions recused himself in March from matters to do with Russia. “The President knows that the attorney general is trying hard and he appreciates that, but at the same time he’s disappointed that he chose to recuse himself,” she said. “I don’t think that that’s inconsistent or hard to understand.”  Asked if Trump is still frustrated months later, Sanders said, “Certainly, but I think again he’s mostly frustrated with the overall process.”
Sarah Sanders Busted For Lying Just Minutes After Vowing To 'Absolutely' Never Lie 

More Moochisms:

I have a cyber security expert who told me the Russians are so good that if they HAD hacked us, we'd never know. Guess who the "expert" is

Donald Jr "got bad advice" on the Russia meetings

I will get rid of White House staff to start reducing leaks (does he have the authority to do that?) 

On whether the press briefings will go back to being televised

When he hired a PR firm for his company
A few years ago, while interviewing PR firms, he was blunt about what he was looking for, according to one person present for the meeting. During the 90-minute meeting, Scaramucci told this person: “I need someone who’s prepared to go to the mat and lie for me.”

Trump's mini-me

In other news. . . .

This is NOT okay. The Commander in Chief asks military members to call and lobby their elected representatives on partisan issues
Trump urged people to lobby their lawmakers to pass a budget that contains an additional $54 billion in Defense Department funding for fiscal year 2018, during his remarks on the aircraft carrier. "And you will get — believe me, President Trump, I will tell you — you will get it. Don't worry about it. But I don't mind getting a little hand. So call that congressman, and call that senator and make sure you get it," Trump said. "And by the way, you can also call those senators to make sure that you get healthcare."
“Call that congressman and call that senator, and make sure you get it,” Trump said Saturday at the commissioning of the Gerald R. Ford, the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier. “We must end the defense sequester once and for all.”

Federal Law (Titles 10, 2, and 18, United States Code), Department of Defense (DOD) Directives, and specific military regulations strictly specify a military active duty person's participation in partisan political activities. DOD defines "partisan political activity" as "activity supporting or relating to candidates representing, or issues specifically identified with, national or State political parties and associated or ancillary organizations."

Trump still doesn't believe that Russia interfered in the election 

Trump is very angry that Republicans aren't defending him on the Russia issue
“It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President,” Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon.

Trump says, “Never has there been a president, with few exceptions — case of FDR, he had a major depression to handle — who has passed more legislation and who has done more things than what we’ve done.” What has he actually accomplished in his first six months?

How appropriate
Trump Asked to Make ‘Dummy Visit’ to the U.K.  

Trump's lousy health habits

This line from Sekulow sounds confident and dismissive. But it's foolish, because if the issue of pardons ever does come back around, it will be obvious that it is an admission of guilt
Trump Atty: Pardons ‘Not On The Table’ Because ‘There’s Nothing To Pardon’

Trump Won’t Pardon Himself, Say Scaramucci and President’s Attorney

I don't know why Reince Priebus stays in his job as Chief of Staff

We knew Donald Jr and Paul Manafort weren't testifying in public -- but they won't even be under oath

This is what happens when you let people testify in private -- they can release whatever version of events that serves their purpose, but you can't

Of course
Trump expected to nominate top coal lobbyist as EPA deputy administrator  

Senate will vote on Tuesday on a health care bill -- but they don't even know which one!

The GOP is deeply divided, despite winning
“Winning control of both chambers and the White House has done little to fill in the deep and politically damaging ideological fault lines that plagued the GOP during Barack Obama’s presidency and ripped the party apart during the 2016 presidential primary. Now, Republicans have even more to lose.”

Al Franken ridicules the effort to discredit Robert Mueller 

The man that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster just can't fire -- and why
Washington got its first real look at Cohen-Watnick when he was identified as one of two White House sources who provided House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes with evidence that former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the “unmasking” of the names of Trump associates in intelligence documents. . . .

You know that thousands of people withdrew their voter registrations once they found out that Trump's voter suppression committee was trying to collect personal information from the states. What you probably don't know is that this is now being cited as proof by the voter fraud conspiracy theorists 

Chuck Schumer: the new Democratic agenda -- a preview

If you don't THINK you're lying, does that mean you're not?


Bonus item: Who said it: Donald Trump, a comedian, or a conspiracy theorist?
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Sunday, July 23, 2017


Trump is making the mistake of many leaders under duress: withdrawing into a more and more narrow circle of like-minded people and sycophants, confusing disagreement with disloyalty
Sean Spicer came to the White House on Thursday completely unaware President Donald Trump was planning to meet with Anthony Scaramucci, a longtime Wall Street friend, and offer him the job of communications director. Other top aides, including Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, also had no clue. . . .

“If you thought grownups like Mattis, McMaster and Tillerson were secretly running the administration, think again.” “In the case of McMaster, administration officials tell me he is perceived not to be a reliable messenger of the president’s wishes. What’s more, administration figures tell me, principals including Tillerson, Mattis and CIA director Mike Pompeo have a direct line to Trump. They can go around McMaster and make their case on interagency disputes directly to the commander in chief. For a national security adviser, this dynamic is deadly.”
Trump’s Ego Creates Real National Security Problems
Trump Is Showing The World What A Weak American Presidency Looks Like 

 Trump wants to overturn the Iran nuclear deal -- and has shut the State Dept out of discussions (because they aren't telling him what he wants to hear)


Trump asserts his "complete power to pardon"

Robert Mueller apparently thinks he can flip Paul Manafort and get him to give evidence against Trump by holding the threat of money laundering charges over his head. (Is that why Trump is thinking about pardoning him?)

One of the questions that has been circulating is whether Mueller can charge Trump with a crime or whether the only option is impeachment. Turms out there's a legal memo that says he can

Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden called Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election the “most successful covert influence operation in history” . . .

This is the question I think about almost every day
Could Republicans in Congress Actually Turn Against Trump? 


Congress agrees on a bipartisan bill of Russia sanctions -- what will Trump do with it?
Congress reached an agreement Saturday on sanctions against Russia for its election-meddling and invasion of Crimea. The latest version of the bill also includes sanctions against Iran, North Korea, and gives Congress veto power that could block President Trump from easing any sanctions on Moscow. The bill, which could be on Trump’s desk before the August recess, will put his administration in a tough position. . . .


The new plan on health care seems to be to force a vote next week that will lose, whipping up a frenzy of anger among GOP voters and organizations, creating pressure for a new round of negotiations  

“Things are starting to feel incoherent,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, reflecting on the health care efforts, which have turned many Republican senators against one another as efforts to negotiate the future of the Medicaid program have caused large rifts. With no small measure of understatement, Mr. Corker conceded, “There’s just not a lot of progress happening.” . . .

Trump doesn't HAVE an "infrastructure plan"

GOPers want to raise taxes . . . on folks in blue states

What a miserable human being . . . and I hate that opening "As a Christian. . ."
Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) former primary rival, Kelli Ward (R), urged the ailing senator to step aside after his diagnosis of brain cancer, the Washington Post reports. Said Ward: “As a Christian, I know there can always be miracles. But the likelihood that John McCain is going to be able to come back to the Senate and be at full force for the people of our state and the people of the United States is low.” She went on to say that she hoped to be appointed to fill his seat should he leave office. 

Anthony Scaramucci deletes a slew of uncomfortable (anti-Trump and pro-Hillary) tweets . . . in the name of "transparency"

“Scaramucci has coined a particularly crude nickname for Priebus and, in private conversations with associates in recent weeks, repeatedly savaged both the chief of staff and the entire White House press operation.”

[NB: We'll let you know as soon as we find out what that nickname is . . .]

Read Anthony Scaramucci’s old tweets. You’ll understand why he deleted them.

People on the left who are defending Trump-Russia

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Saturday, July 22, 2017


If you've followed the hiring of Trump's legal team, you know that they are not constitutional scholars. Most of them are back-alley brawlers whose idea of their job is not to challenge or question evidence, but to attack their opponents and try to play out the fight in the media. We are seeing this now in the wild accusations against Robert Mueller -- who everyone of both parties has praised as a straight shooter and man of high integrity. This is just more proof that Trump and his cronies do not want the investigation to go forward. (Although there is some indication that Trump is going even farther than his lawyers want him to go)

Trump’s former personal attorney Marc Kasowitz, who has represented Trump since 2000, has departed from Trump’s legal team after it was revealed that he sent a string of threatening, profanity-laced emails to a stranger who criticized him. Kasowitz’s spokesperson Mark Corallo has also resigned. Trump’s legal defense team is now composed of Ty Cobb, Jay Sekulow, and John Dowd. Sekulow serves as chief counsel at the socially conservative American Center for Law and Justice, and has argued religious liberty and anti-abortion cases in front of the US Supreme Court. He’s also a frequent contributor on Fox News. Dowd is a DC lawyer who’s best known for investigating former Cincinnati Reds player and manager Pete Rose on gambling charges. Cobb, the newest member of Trump team, is a former federal prosecutor and white-collar defense lawyer. Unlike other lawyers working for Trump, he’s been hired as in-house White House counsel, so his salary is being paid by US taxpayers.  

The claims of Mueller's "conflicts of interest" are a bunch of garbage, and don't even conform to DOJ rules

What the rules say:

Trump's lawyers have an impossible job: their client looks guilty, acts guilty, and keeps doing and saying things that only a guilty man would do
Donald Trump is thinking of pardoning himself, which could set up a constitutional crisis
“It’s the most unprofessional thing Trump has done to date, getting in Sessions’ ass and getting in Mueller’s ass,” the long-time colleague said. “You can’t do that. There’s no attorney in the world that’s going to want a client that’s doing that. First of all, it’s impetuous. But in addition to that, it makes the legal defense team, including Corallo, look really bad, because a lawyer would never advise their client to do that. And if you don’t make a stand on that, then tacitly, you agree with it.” 

It’s 6 months into Trump’s presidency. He’s already asking about pardons for his aides.

When Will President Trump Fire Robert Mueller?

Can Trump pardon himself?

I reached out to 15 legal experts and asked them if the president has the constitutional authority to pardon himself. As it turns out, this is something of a legal gray area. The overwhelming consensus was that Trump could make a plausible legal argument that his pardoning powers extend to himself, mostly because the Constitution isn’t clear about this — and, frankly, because this is just not a situation the framers expected. All the experts agreed about one other fact: Even if Trump does pardon himself, that would not shield him from impeachment hearings. And most believe if he did make a move like this, it would be both an admission of guilt and a potential constitutional crisis. . . .

ANOTHER meeting between Trump reps and the Russians, which wasn't disclosed. In fact it looks like Jeff Sessions lied his ass off . . . again
Sessions Discussed Campaign Matters With Russian Ambassador
Under oath in his hearings to become Attorney General back in January, Sessions said he hadn’t had any contact with Russian officials at all over the course of the previous year – a claim he had to retract when the Post reported in March on the existence of two meetings with Kislyak in 2016. Sessions, who was one of Trump’s earliest and most influential supporters, made the shaky assertion that the meetings did not involve U.S.-Russia policy, and that he was only involved in his capacity as a senator. . . .

Mind you, Sessions flat out denied this for months, going so far as saying: “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.” When it was proven that he had indeed met with Russians, he was hauled back in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee to explain his lapse in memory, at which point he said: “I don’t recall any discussion of the campaign in any significant way" and later he said he had "never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.”

Looking for a pattern?

One thing the Trump gang doesn't seem to have mastered yet is the idea that EVERYTHING they do that concerns Russia is going to be looked at with extra scrutiny and suspicion
There may have been more undisclosed meetings between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin  . . .

Here's why Trump's and his associates' finances ARE part of the Russia investigation

Follow the money (thanks to RR for the link)

As I understand it, the White House counsel should ALREADY have given this order to retain all documents. Is this a sign that he failed to do so? Have things already disappeared?
Special counsel tells White House: Don't destroy any information on Don Jr.'s Russia meeting

An anonymous source who viewed the letter to the White House told CNN that staff were asked to save “any subjects discussed in the course of the June 2016 meeting” and “any decisions made regarding the recent disclosures about the June 2016 meeting.” This implies that special counsel Robert Mueller is not just interested in what happened during the Trump Tower meeting that Trump Jr. arranged after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign. Mueller also wants to know how the White House formulated its response to revelations about the meeting’s existence, which came to light earlier this month. . . . 

Veselnitskaya's ties to Russian intelligence

While Rex Tillerson was in charge
Exxon Mobil Fined for Violating Sanctions on Russia

This is another Republican talking
Senate Intel Chair: ‘The Unmasking Thing Was All Created By Devin Nunes’ 

Kushner has to revise ANOTHER disclosure statement in which he neglected to reveal required information

Kushner will testify in closed session -- and now it looks like Donald Jr and Manafort will too

A look back, and a look ahead
Donald Trump’s six-month report card: A paralyzed, scandal-plagued presidency — and it could get worse 


A sign of character
Trump’s Sensitivity to Being Laughed at Should Alarm Everyone

How does Trump spend his day? 

A great summary of where things stand right now with the Senate health care bill. A lot of unknowns, but at this stage there is still no bill that has the necessary 50-vote support

Repeal and delay, redux:

The latest ploy to try to save the bill is called -- I am not making this up -- a "wraparound"

BREAKING NEWS: This is a disaster for the GOP health care effort
The Senate will need 60 votes to overcome Democratic opposition and pass key portions of the GOP health care bill, a blow to both the plan’s policy and its political fortunes unless Senate Republicans are willing to break decades of precedent. The Senate’s so-called “Byrd Rule” is designed to make sure that policies passed under “budget reconciliation” — which allows legislation to advance with only 51 votes instead of the usual 60 needed to get past a filibuster — directly affect the federal budget, either by decreasing spending or increasing revenue. The findings of the Senate parliamentarian, who evaluates whether policies included in bills meant to pass through reconciliation comply with the Senate rules, were released late Friday afternoon. . . .

Here's the high-level overview of some of what they can't pass with 51 votes . . . 

The CBO pushes back against GOP efforts to discredit them
Former CBO Directors To Congressional Leaders: Back Off, We Have A Job To Do


Trump is trying hard to water down the Russia sanctions bill that the Senate passed overwhelmingly and is now in the House. So far they seem to be resisting him

But . . .but . . . he'll always have Omorosa
Trump is the first president in 30 years to refuse to attend the NAACP convention

The kind of people they are
I hope everyone goes to Breitbart & other right wing sites tonight to see the toxic hatred they’re spewing at John McCain. Trump’s fan base. . . . 

The other shoe drops
Sean Spicer resigned as White House press secretary “telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director,” the New York Times reports. “The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake.”
On purely personal level, I feel kind of sorry for Spicer, the same way I feel sorry for anyone who finally figures out just what kind of person Donald Trump really is. . . . Honestly, Spicer should have resigned after the Vatican snub. That was perhaps the pettiest thing I can ever remember a president doing to one of his staff. At a purely personal level, it shows what a horrible excuse for a human being Trump is.
Scaramucci’s appointment is a strange one from many angles. The 53-year-old financier has never worked in politics or as a spokesman, but he is a frequent media presence. He came to prominence as the head of SkyBridge Capital, a hedge fund. Like Trump, Scaramucci’s knack was not so much business acumen—SkyBridge was a notably poorly performing fund—but salesmanship and courting the media. Nicknamed “the Mooch” by reporters, he hosted a splashy annual conference in Las Vegas and was a frequent media presence. . . .

Trump interviewed Scaramucci with only Ivanka in the room
Priebus & Bannon Not Consulted on Scaramucci Hiring
Bannon, Priebus Opposed Trump on Scaramucci

Reince Priebus is furious:

He denies it:
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus says he supports incoming communications director Anthony Scaramucci “100 percent.” . . . Priebus has also reportedly opposed hiring Scaramucci for various administration positions. Priebus told The Associated Press that he and Scaramucci are “very good friends.” He says it’s “all good here” at the White House.

The Mooch
Back in August 2015, Anthony Scaramucci, who has just been appointed White House communications director, was on Fox Business to discuss Donald Trump’s then-recent bashing of the hedge fund industry as just people who “move around paper” . . .  Scaramucci was scathing in his response, labeling Trump “a hack politician” with “anti-American” rhetoric. He said Trump was on track to be “president of the Queens County Bullies’ Association” and that while other GOP “politicians don’t want to go after Trump because they’re afraid he’s going to light them up on Fox News,” he wasn’t afraid.  “You’re an inherited money dude from Queens County,” Scaramucci said. “Bring it.”

The NRA isn't happy:

It's pretty clear that what Trump wanted was an enthusiastic and unapologetic proxy in this role -- which is what he got. Scaramucci "loves" Trump, everyone he talks to loves Trump, everything is going great with Trump's WH except that the media is biased against him and won't cover his incredible successes
A source close to the WH press office just emailed me: "This is a joke. Trump wanted Scaramucchi on television as a surrogate." . . . Surprising to me someone close to White House is calling this a "joke" + "there was simply no understanding by the president" of this job.  

What it all means
Spicer’s fall and Scaramuccci’s rise are the latest—and perhaps most significant—signs that the Trump White House has abandoned whatever vision it once had of trying to shape press coverage through diplomacy and dealmaking, and has chosen instead to go all in with its made-for-cable-news culture war against the Fourth Estate. . . . A similar shakeup recently took place on Trump’s legal team, with veteran spokesman Mark Corallo resigning, and attorney-cum-pundit Jay Sekulow becoming more visible. Rather than turning to old Washington hands to steady the ship, as many presidents before him have done, Trump is elevating outspoken on-air surrogates and leading them into battle. . . .

Trump has been enamored with Scaramucci since he managed to get a retraction from CNN on a story published in late June about his alleged Russia connections, according to a one senior administration official and one outside adviser.  "Talks about it all the time," said the outside adviser. Trump reconnected with Scaramucci in the Oval Office shortly after and mainly talked about Scaramucci's "win" against CNN, according to a person familiar with the chat.  

This is not the attitude of a president preparing for a charm offensive. Trump is looking for direct combat and ultimate domination—a performative war, fought by the most skilled performers. 

Scaramucci looked at home behind the lectern in the White House Briefing Room. Moreover, he was everything that Sean Spicer—the long-suffering press secretary who announced his resignation today—was not. Where Spicer was nervous, tentative, and likely to stumble over his words, Scaramucci was smooth, relaxed, and confident. Where Spicer’s suits were often ill-fitting, Scaramucci was sharply tailored. Where Spicer was a career cog in the Republican machine, Scaramucci is a swaggering New Yorker who speaks in the same clunky business pidgin as the president and can drop names nearly as prodigiously too. (Goldman Sachs, Yankees president Randy Levine, and Harvard Law School were a few of Scaramucci’s mentions during his brief spell at the mic.) Where Spicer’s professions of praise for the president always seemed mousy, pleading, perhaps a little browbeaten, Scaramucci brought the sincere sycophancy that comes from truly adoring Donald Trump. When did Spicer ever say he “loves” the president?

It's official: Colonel Sanders is the regular press sect'y now

Is Priebus the next to go?

A closer look at Steve Bannon

Sean Hannity was given a "media excellence" award, which was later withdrawn. He says he turned it down, and didn't want it anyway

The National Enquirer Presidency
Trump’s Friends at the National Enquirer Float a New Theory: Hillary Framed Don Jr.

How Breitbart media’s disinformation created the paranoid, fact-averse nation that elected Trump

The Democrats finally seem to be settling on a message and strategy for 2018
“A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future” [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.***