Holy. Moly. When is a bombshell THE bombshell? I’m so tired and confused.
When I was still in bed this morning, I saw Trump’s tweets about his absolute right to share information with Russia. That made me want to throw up. The President getting comfortable with being an autocrat.
Still windmilling, still don’t know which way things are going. Because they’re consolidating power even as they are imploding. And the Republicans just let them do it. What the hell is happening.
H.R. McMaster barks at reporters on camera. It is sad to see H.R. McMaster debase himself so utterly. Later in the day, Sean Spicer sounds wan and haggard off camera. No more bids for chuckles.
Then we find out that James Comey has memos about all his interactions with Trump, including the time Trump suggested the FBI just let the Flynn thing go, and the time that Trump suggested that the FBI lock up reporters.
“This is it,” said my friend at work, who was once a Republican. I said I hoped so but I was too jaded. Also, all this damage and severe Republican fuckery doesn’t get undone just by getting rid of Trump. Could just be part of our merry tumble into autocracy or theocracy?
It came out that it was Israel. And that the Russian reporter who “tricked” his way into the oval office reported it in Russia, and that now a spy’s life is in danger in Isis-held territory.
And then it felt like the wheels were starting to come off, at least according to congressional twitter.
So I don’t know. But I hear it’s nothing but shouting, screaming, and cursing all over the West Wing tonight.
Here’s stuff that came out before the Washington Post bombshell news alert:
SO, here’s a ton of tweets and headlines about this thing which seems to be a bombshell (but inevitably, like always, will never be THE bombshell). Trump gave highly classified info to Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office last week. Info given to us by an ally, which they did not want Russia to have. Washington Post broke the story this afternoon. Two officials confirmed the story later for other outlets. H.R. McMaster came out on the White House lawn and barked at reporters for 90 seconds (literally 90 seconds), and then went back inside without answering a single question. I think that’s all the backstory you need.
And before all that, these are the questions reporters asked Sean Spicer at the White House Press Briefing today:
In case anyone is keeping track at home, today was actually 2 weeks long.
Also, Sean Spicer still hasn’t learned that he shouldn’t ask rhetorical questions:
The day was silo-ed into three main things, all of which were HUGE all by themselves. I’ve made you a visual aid.
I got really disheartened in the interlude between #4 and #5, also known as my commute home with menstrual cramps. I summoned courage by remembering the words of Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Weeks ago she flatly told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that 1) She knows that Trump is impeachable, 2) She does not trust the Republicans in the House to do anything about it, and 3) We can trust John McCain and Lindsay Graham in the Senate because they are patriots.
I’m not going to get into the sources, or when it arrived, but I wanted to brief the Speaker, which is what I did this morning, and obviously I briefed, I put in calls to the directors, I’ve spoken to the CIA Director and the NSA Director, and I’m waiting to talk to Director Comey, and I’m going to head to the White House after the votes.
—Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence committee today.
Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, is not even on his list of people to talk to — and found about this at the same time the rest of us did.
More to follow on that, but first I want to give this NYT story some attention:
They should call that an act of terror.
There was also a terrorist attack in London today, near the parliament building.
AFTER THE JUMP: Questions reporters asked today to SEAN SPICER… DEVIN NUNES… and ADAM SCHIFF !!!! Lots of good questions in here about the healthcare bill too.
Radio alarm: Someone from the National Review (a conservative publication) talking about the difference between liberal media bias (which he could happily rail on about at length, he said), and this ginned up “fake news” thing Donald Trump has been going on about lately. I can see why conservatives like to go on NPR even though it is perceived as leaning left. They’re almost always allowed to make their point peacefully and at length. Now that I’ve been watching more cable news programming on TV, I realize how interrupty it gets.
“Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”
— Donald Trump, today
A dystopian-sounding tweet after a butane tanker crashed into two other cars and tipped over on the freeway just south of downtown Seattle today.
I am here for all things C-Span. This morning, C-Span’s Washington Journal featured Jeff Mason, White House correspondent for Reuters. They were talking about the press’s relationship with the administration. The program basically consisted of real Americans calling in and saying enjoyably blunt and folksy and sometimes angry things, and then the host (John McArdle) and Jeff Mason responding by saying vague, milquetoasty things. BUT, if you saw the program without sound… all you would know is it was two very handsome bald men. I thought they had some chemistry too.
John McArdle and Jeff Mason. Come on you two…. are you TRYING to get America to ship you?
These were the best screen shots I could get without falling completely down the rabbit hole. And obviously I don’t know if they are gay, I just find them really quite handsome and fun to talk about.
“The President always gets something.”
–Sean Spicer, with a little smirk on his face
The hand that rocks the cradle: A coworker told me rather gravely that since the election, his wife had swung from “hardcore Republican” to “totally liberal, like you.” He said all the moms in the neighborhood had. I asked if it was just the moms. He said, “well, you know–the guys are pulled a little to the center from the right, but the women are just waaaaayyy out to the left now.”
George Bush went on the record today saying he believes that an independent press is important to curb “the addictive power of the presidency.” He also said we should have a full investigation into the Russia thing.
The budget talk today has been dark, dark, dark.
In the White House press briefing today, Sean Spicer stressed that recent anti-Semitism has been totally unacceptable. He also said, “Early reports out of Kansas are equally disturbing” (meaning the Indian-American men who were shot in a bar). People are still roundly criticizing the “day late and a dollar short” aspect of their recent words, but to me the administration seemslike a robot learning to act human. No less chilling, but evolving in tone.
From Reuters: The U.S. State Department on Monday issued and then deleted a congratulatory message for an Oscar win by a prominent Iranian director who criticized President Donald Trump’s travel ban as “inhumane.”
Breitbart: President Donald J. Trump told Breitbart News in an exclusive Oval Office interview that the “intent” of the New York Times in its negative coverage of him is “so evil and so bad” and that “they write lies.”
“So you’re confident in your assertion that there is no evidence that these three people have talked to Russian agents, even though you have not done your own investigation into it?”
–Reporter to Representative Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee
Reporters’ questions today, to Representative Devin Nunes (Russia investigation), OMB Director Mick Mulvaney (budget stuff) and Sean Spicer (yikes):
Radio alarm: Praise for General McMaster from all directions. NPR is on the chopping block, so I’ll enjoy my Morning Edition while I can.
Tuesday morning. NBC says Trump has a perfect chance, right now, for a reset. Asks, “Can Trump enjoy a no-drama week?”
Trump visits the Smithsonian Museum of African American History this morning. While there, he tells the press that the recent anti-Semitism has been “horrible” and “painful” and is “going to stop.”
The Anne Frank Center was not amused. They called it a bandaid on the cancer of rising anti-Semitism. Proving they are as good with words as their namesake, they also said “Do not make us Jews settle for crumbs of condescension.” Sean Spicer said in his White House press briefing, that Trump has constantly condemned anti-Semitism, and that he, Spicer, wished that the Anne Frank Center had praised Trump for his leadership on this issue.
Muslims and Jews in the U.S. are continuing their public overtures of kinship. Muslims quickly raised some money to help with the Jewish cemetery in St. Lousi that was vandalized.
President Trump tweets that the angry people at Republican town halls are just “liberal protesters.” Republican congressman Justin Amash tweets back “They are our fellow Americans with legitimate concerns. We need to stop acting so fragile.”
On the radio, local former EPA employees tell KUOW they don’t have high hopes for Scott Pruitt’s reign at the agency.A couple hours later, Scott Pruitt greets EPA employees for the first time. I haven’t heard whether the 3,000 pages of emails between him and the oil & gas industry came out today as expected. In his address to the EPA he comes across as super friendly, folksy, and decent. Like other of Trump’s cabinet picks, he has none of the bombast of Trump. He knows how to dial it down, seem like a normal person, and seem humble. He starts off by quoting Paul Harvey.Then he says that we are living in a “toxic environment” (pun not intended?) and that everyone puts on their “political jerseys.” So apparently, he’s going to address how hated he is coming into the job. He says “general principles of civility, finding answers, listening to each other… I think these are things we should keep in mind.” Then he says, “regulations should keep things regular,” and “process matters.” It is now clear that he is centering everything on “those who are regulated” (a phrase he uses multiple times), and not what is being protected (a word he does not use). He says “We should avoid abuses that occur sometimes,” and he’s talking about regulations, not pollution. He says “federalism matters.” Then he drives it home that his guiding principles are “federalism, process, and rule of law.” Yikes, buddy. Then he goes out with a John Muir quote (“people need beauty as well as bread” — still missing the point that the environment is worth protecting for its own sake). his final words are “I look forward to serving you in the future,” and now his niceness just seems sinister.
People are widely spooked by new DHS rules about rounding up immigrants and deporting them.ICE force will triple, Local police will be deputized, and people can be sent back to Mexico right away, and then later be formally deported by videoconference. When asked about it, Sean Spicer makes a shackle sandwich. He talks about ICE having formerly had “their hands cuffed behind their back” when it came to dealing with illegal immigrants. Then he talks about Trump visiting the slavery part of the African-American museum. Then quite soon after that, he talks about ICE being “in shackles” before this latest executive order.
At one of my community organizing meetings, I brought up the topic of Seattle as a sanctuary city–and that maybe Seattle’s sense of itself as a sanctuary needed to be actively strengthened and reinforced. As a bulwark to whatever shifting political and fiscal winds are ahead. An older woman who retired from the King County sheriff’s office pooh-poohed me. She said I had no idea the levels of bureaucracy involved. She said there was no way, logistically or culturally, the local law enforcement would cooperate. She said there was no way the feds could make that happen. I just said “Thanks! I’m glad there’s something I can move lower on my list of things to freak out about!” And I meant it. A little bit later, she moved away from where I was sitting. As soon as she left, an elderly Japanese-American woman turned to me and said “Do you think neighbors will turn on neighbors?” That white woman hadn’t reassured her.
I’m not sure, but I don’t think Glenn Thrush of the New York Times got a question at the briefing. Spicer shut him down pretty hard, choosing to take another follow-up from the tough Haley Jackson instead of letting Glenn speak. He passed it off as chivalry to Haley, but everyone in the room probably had flashbacks of Melissa McCarthy grabbing a super soaker.
“One of the beauties of history is that we don’t repeat itself”
— Sean Spicer, February 21, 2017
On NBC: As a reporter asked Pence yesterday at a NATO news conference, “You’ve given your assurances today here in Brussels to European leaders that the U.S. is committed to working with Europe. President Trump says very different things. He has said that the EU is a vehicle for Germany, that the UK was smart to get out of the expected other countries to follow. Who should European leaders listen to, you or President Trump?” Pence’s answer: “The United States is expressing strong support for NATO even as we challenge NATO and challenge our allies to evolve to the new and widening challenges. And further meet their responsibilities.” But can you express strong support when an administration is saying different things?
On Saturday, the New York Times had a story about Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, meeting with a foreign Putin-friendly politician and then delivering a sealed envelope to Michael Flynn personally. The Washington Post had a follow up story the next day. Both papers talked to Michael Cohen but he changed his story between the two articles. Rachel Maddow asked last night whether Jeff Sessions would follow through with the U.S. DOJ efforts to extradite a Ukrainian oligarch who is Paul Manafort’s business partner. Today a court in Vienna ruled that he could be extradited from Austria to the U.S. Now all eyes are on Jeff Sessions, who will not recuse himself from investigations into the Trump campaign and/or administration.
Sweet, civil moment between strangers in the middle of a conservative vs. liberal argument on a Trump Facebook comment thread: