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Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Omarosa, we hardly knew ye

by digby

I had never heard of her before Trump ran for president but apparently she was a former reality TV star. Now she's a former white house official:

Though the official word is that she resigned and was not fired, this marks the fourth time that Omarosa, a contestant on the original The Apprentice, as well as a follow-up season and The Celebrity Apprentice, has been removed from the employ of Donald Trump. It’s unclear how this will affect the day-to-day function of the White House because it was generally unclear what Omarosa did every day. Officially, her title was assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, which is in charge of special group outreach intended to further the president’s agenda. For this she made $179,700, the maximum salary for any White House staffer. But the headlines that followed her had more to do with where she kept her shoes (“all over the White House”) and how she was using the headquarters of the executive branch as her wedding-procession backdrop, with a bridesmaid luncheon on St. Patrick’s Day and a photo shoot that could not be released because that would constitute a security breach. She also invited a journalist to trail her in the White House without notifying anyone else on the communications team, and canceled an appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, where she would have promoted her episode of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress.

Omarosa was one of the few people of color on the president’s employee roster, and the only woman of color. Those among us who are more prone to read meaning into coincidence have noted that her departure fell on the same day that an alleged pedophile, endorsed by Trump, failed to win a seat in the Senate thanks in large part to black-women voters of Alabama. The timing is indeed stunning.

April White, CNN’s White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief, said in a tweet that Omarosa did not go gentle into that good night. She was “vulgar,” allegedly, and “cursed,” and reminded Kelly that she helped get Trump elected. White has heard that she was escorted from campus, though the White House has pushed back against that telling. Regardless of how Omarosa went, though, she will have to find another place to store her shoes.

I love it that Trump doesn't have the bras to fire anyone himself. He has kelly do the dirty work, even for people he personally brought in from his previous hustles.

April Ryan at URN News has more dirt here.

"She walked over to the residence and tried to get into the residence to see the president, secret service stopped her and she was escorted off campus."

She made over a $170,000 a year.



Will Flake, Corker and McCain behave like patriots or sell-outs?

by digby

Brian Beutler reminds us of how the Democrats and Republicans behaved when Scott Brown won his Senate seat in the midst of a historic debate about health care just 8 years ago:

Republican leaders are on the brink of losing more than just the Alabama Senate seat. They are, among other things, also poised to break the promises they made to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to secure her vote for the corporate tax cut bill. If she or any other Republican defects now, the Alabama senators’ vote will become the decisive vote.

To that end, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is signaling his intent to rush a vote on a final corporate tax cut bill before Jones can be seated.

McConnell is a serial violator of American political norms. His procedural extremism surprises no one. But it’s worth noting, as I did last week, that the norm he’s about to destroy is one he personally fought to uphold just eight years ago.

In January 2010, Democrats were one final roll call vote away from enacting health care reform when Republicans unexpectedly won a special Senate election in Massachusetts. McConnell, who was then the Senate Minority Leader, took great umbrage at the idea that Democrats would let a lame-duck interim senator cast the deciding vote on historic legislation. Once the results of the special election were in, though, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) headed off the confrontation by pledging not to vote for any health care legislation until Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) had been sworn in.

As of this writing, no Republicans—even ones, like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has claimed to prize regular order, and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who endorsed Doug Jones—have taken a similar stand.
Remember, Republicans have retired the concept of hypocrisy except as a weapon to beat Democrats. Democrats refuse to understand this.


"Be prepared" is a good slogan for boy scouts --- and Democrats

by digby

A lesson for the ages from Joan Walsh:

The main takeaway is what we learned last month in Virginia: You can’t win if you don’t play. Former GOP senator Jeff Sessions, for now Donald Trump’s attorney general, ran unopposed in 2014. Let that sink in. Doug Jones had to be cajoled to step up, and in his victory speech he thanked his friends and advisers who demanded he run. Let’s hope Democrats commit to a 50-state strategy once again. The party ought to take over the infrastructure of Jones’s winning campaign, and try to use it to bolster its support in the state House and Senate and the US Congress too. Congresswoman Terry Sewell, an indefatigable Jones backer on national television, needs some company in Washington.

After all, you never know when the Republicans are going to run a child molesting extremist when their pussy-grabbing president has a 32% approval rating! Be prepared! Have a good candidate on the ballot and give him or her enough support to take advantage.


Purge Bannon? Not a chance.

by digby

I'm seeing a lot of this today

It makes sense. Bannon is trouble. He's trying to destroy the GOP from the inside out for his own purposes and as thrilling as that might seem to Tea party types, it's not going to end well. There are two parties in this country and the only way to wield real political power is within that system. Bannon wants to destroy their instrument of power and Trump is too narcissistic to understand anything beyond his own ego.

But I will be shocked if Trump completely abandons Bannon. He's Trump's conduit to the base he loves and I can't imagine he'll feel comfortable making an enemy of him.

Let's put it this way: it's not Bannon he's pissed at today:


Sinking like a stone

by digby

He's lost Independent women by 25 points since September.

Only 32% of voters approve of President Trump's job in office and more than half disapprove, according to the latest poll by Monmouth University. This is the lowest popularity score and the highest disapproval score since Trump took office.

Women's approval of the President dropped 12 points while disapproval rose 13 points since September, with even Republican women's approval dropping 9 points. The sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein went public in early October, setting off a series of high-profile accusations of sexual misconduct and the #MeToo movement.

While a majority of Republican women approve of Trump's job in office, they are less likely to give the President a positive rating than their male counterparts (67% to 78%).

Only 14% of independent women approve of Trump's presidency — dropping 25 points since September.

Only 8% of Democratic men and 7% of Democratic women approve of Donald Trump, which has held steady.

I don't know who those Democrats are but they must be senile.



Nobody puts Trumpie in the corner

by digby

I wrote about the latest GOP attempts to discredit the Mueller investigation for Salon this morning:

As we come to the end of this eventful and exhausting year, awards season is upon us. One of the major trophies given out each December is the not-so-coveted "Lie of the Year" from PolitiFact. President Donald Trump can pretty much be expected to get the award every year he's in office, since he is the Meryl Streep of mendacity. But it's always going to be tough to choose which whopper will win the big prize. This year it was easy. The 2017 Lie of the Year is: Russian election interference is a "made-up story."

It's obvious that it happened and it's obvious that the president continues to lie about it for a reason. There is a school of thought that says he refuses to acknowledge the facts because his ego is so huge that he can't admit that he didn't win solely by dint of his massive talent. Therefore he characterizes it as a Democratic plot to delegitimize his glorious victory, which he also continues to claim was a landslide. The problem, of course, is that four of his top advisers have now been indicted, and two have pleaded guilty to crimes having to do with Russia. Despite Trump and his associates' continued insistence that they knew nothing of the Russians, we know that members of the Trump team had at least 19 meetings among 31 interactions with various Russian emissaries.

Robert Mueller's investigation is getting close to the president and his family now. And as I wrote earlier this week, the Republicans are fighting back. They are not only calling for Mueller to resign over the bogus Uranium One scandal and for palling around with James Comey, they are demanding more investigations into Hillary Clinton's emails and calling the FBI itself corrupt and downright treasonous.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, a Trump ally, said on talk radio this week that Mueller was staging a coup d'état and "we’ve got to stop the coup before it becomes successful and these yahoos throw us into a civil war." Donald Trump Jr.'s legal team is calling for an investigation into Reps. Adam Schiff, Jackie Speier and Eric Swalwell, California Democrats and members of the House Intelligence Committee, for alleged leaks to the media.

Everyone in the Congress and the right-wing media is rending their garments over FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, who worked on the all-important Clinton email case and the Russia investigation. He was dismissed by Mueller last summer when the latter found out that Strzok had privately texted his prosecutor girlfriend that Trump was an "idiot" and a "douche," among other perfectly reasonable observations.

The New York Times reported last night that the texts showed concerns about Trump winning, which was also perfectly reasonable if you happened to be working on a case in which it became clear that a presidential candidate had extremely suspicious ties to the Russian government. The Times points out that these texts were found during the current investigation by the Department of Justice's inspector general into, yes, the Clinton email investigation and the Trump' campaign's possible ties to Russia.

It's unprecedented for the DOJ to release documents such as this before an investigation is finished, but everyone assumes that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is doing a solid for his president by getting it out there. It's only a matter of time before someone asks for an investigation to look into the Strzok matter as well, although -- despite Trump loyalists' hysterical assertions to the contrary -- FBI agents are allowed to have political views. Indeed, most of them are conservative Republicans.

Finally, Axios has reported that Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow read a Fox News article which said that a senior Justice Department official named Bruce Ohr, "demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump 'dossier' had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed." Ohr's wife apparently worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election, and Sekulow now wants Jeff Sessions to appoint a different special prosecutor to investigate Mueller's investigation over possible conflicts of interest. There are so many investigations and calls for investigations that they're all chasing each others tails.

We know the point of all this: Create as much smoke as possible to obscure what's really happening, which is that the Mueller investigation is coming closer to the president. Trump's allies in the media and the Congress are trying to discredit Mueller and potentially lay the groundwork for his firing and a series of presidential pardons, if it comes to that.

Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast reminds us that last summer a number of Republican senators became concerned enough about Trump possibly firing Mueller that they proposed bipartisan legislation to prevent the president from firing him. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., teamed up on a bill mandating that a special counsel can only be fired for cause. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., proposed requiring a three-judge panel to approve of any dismissal of a Special Counsel. Unfortunately, for obscure reasons, Graham seems to have since decided that enabling Trump is his best move. So it's unlikely he will follow through, at least right now.

But if Mueller closes in on the president, will Congress find the gumption to preserve the system or even its own prerogatives? So far it's not looking good.

Trump and his allies attack any independent institution that challenges the president's power, whether it be the political opposition, the media, the courts and now the Department of Justice. This is dangerous business. It's not just that the president's team exerts executive prerogatives. They use every tool at their disposal (and create new ones out of whole cloth) to degrade and discredit any threat to Donald Trump's dominance.

That's the mark of an authoritarian leader, and it's not how things normally work in the American system. We have all these competing centers of power, which are often in opposition but generally depend on a respect for each other's roles and a sense of responsibility to preserve the integrity of the system. The president is not adhering to those norms. The press is trying to keep the pressure on, but the other independent institutions have not yet been fully put to the test. It's only a matter of time before they are. We have no idea if they will meet the challenge.


"Unfit to clean toilets in Obama's presidential library"

by digby

Let's give a round of applause for #themtoo for the satisfying win last night in Alabama. I'm talking about the women who came forward to let people know about the true character of Judge Roy Moore. I'm sure it wasn't easy. They didn't seem as if they were having any fun. But it was brave and it was necessary.

Look at the latest hysterical screed from Daily Kos on this issue.

Oh wait, it's USA Today's editorial board. USA Today:

A president who'd all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama's presidential library or to shine George W. Bush's shoes: Our view.

With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the president's smear as a misunderstanding because he used similar language about men. Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her "wherever," he didn't mean her nose.

And as is the case with all of Trump's digital provocations, the president's words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment.

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.

Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.

It should surprise no one how low he went with Gillibrand. When accused during the campaign of sexually harassing or molesting women in the past, Trump’s response was to belittle the looks of his accusers. Last October, Trump suggested that he never would have groped Jessica Leeds on an airplane decades ago: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.” Trump mocked another accuser, former People reporter Natasha Stoynoff, “Check out her Facebook, you’ll understand.” Other celebrities and politicians have denied accusations, but none has stooped as low as suggesting that their accusers weren’t attractive enough to be honored with their gropes.

If recent history is any guide, the unique awfulness of the Trump era in U.S. politics is only going to get worse. Trump’s utter lack of morality, ethics and simple humanity has been underscored during his 11 months in office. Let us count the ways:

He is enthusiastically supporting Alabama's Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of pursuing — and in one case molesting and in another assaulting — teenagers as young as 14 when Moore was a county prosecutor in his 30s. On Tuesday, Trump summed up his willingness to support a man accused of criminal conduct: “Roy Moore will always vote with us.”

Trump apparently is going for some sort of record for lying while in office. As of mid-November, he had made 1,628 misleading or false statements in 298 days in office. That’s 5.5 false claims per day, according to a count kept by The Washington Post’s fact-checkers.

Trump takes advantage of any occasion — even Monday’s failed terrorist attack in New York — to stir racial, religious or ethnic strife. Congress “must end chain migration,” he said Monday, because the terror suspect “entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security.” So because one man — 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. who came from Bangladesh on a family immigrant visa in 2011 — is accused of attacking America, all immigrants brought to this country by family are suspect? Trump might have some credibility if his criticism of immigrants was solely about terrorists. It isn’t. It makes no difference to him if an immigrant is a terrorist or a federal judge. He once smeared an Indiana-born judge whose parents emigrated from Mexico. It’s all the same to this president.

A man who clearly wants to put his stamp on the government, Trump hasn’t even done his job when it comes to filling key government positions that require Senate confirmation. As of last week, Trump had failed to nominate anyone for 60% of 1,200 key positions he can fill to keep the government running smoothly.
Trump has shown contempt for ethical strictures that have bound every president in recent memory. He has refused to release his tax returns, with the absurd excuse that it’s because he is under audit. He has refused to put his multibillion dollar business interests in a blind trust and peddles the fiction that putting them in the hands of his sons does the same thing.

Not to mention calling white supremacists "very fine people," pardoning a lawless sheriff, firing a respected FBI director, and pushing the Justice Department to investigate his political foes.

It is a shock that only six Democratic senators are calling for our unstable president to resign.

The nation doesn’t seek nor expect perfect presidents, and some have certainly been deeply flawed. But a president who shows such disrespect for the truth, for ethics, for the basic duties of the job and for decency toward others fails at the very essence of what has always made America great.




A win for sanity

by Tom Sullivan

Graphic: CNN

Stunning. Thunder clap. Seismic. Shocking. Devastating. To describe Democrat Doug Jones' narrow 1.5 percent win in Tuesday's Alabama special election for U.S. Senate, one could easily build a word cloud — not unlike the one Quinnipiac University generated from poll responses about the president. Only much more positive.

Frank Bruni is effusive this morning in the New York Times in his good riddance to Republican Roy Moore:

We saw decency in retreat. We saw common sense in decline. We saw a clique of unabashed plutocrats, Trump foremost among them, brazenly treating the federal government as a branding opportunity or a trough at which they could gorge. We saw a potent strain of authoritarianism jousting with the rule of law.

And we saw many Americans, including most Republican leaders, either endorsing or quietly putting up with this, to a point where we wondered if some corner had been turned forever.
It is early to tell whether America has rediscovered its soul, but the reflection of America a majority of Alabamians saw in Roy Moore was too ugly to endorse. And unnecessary to describe again here and ruin the mood.

For the first time in years, Democrats in Alabama felt they were living in "a battleground state in which their vote mattered."

The Intercept spoke with Dr. Joe Reed, head of the Alabama Democratic Conference, perhaps "the last true black party boss in the South." Reed would work on turning out his community. (It did, especially black women.) He'd leave making inroads with white voters to Jones. The day after Jones won the Democratic nomination, Reed outlined the message Jones would need to win:
“Now whatcha gotta do now,” he lectured Jones, “is get out on the road and tell Bubba and Cooter how important the Democratic Party is for them.”

He rattled off the names of long-dead Democratic congressmen and their accomplishments. “If he’s from around Huntsville, he oughta thank John Sparkman every day. If he got a student loan, he oughta thank Carl Elliott,” Reed said. “So go tell ’em what the Democratic Party has meant to them and meant to their parents.”
It is not clear this early in the post mortems how much Jones took that advice. So much attention was lavished on Moore's sexual proclivities. But it was a reminder that Democrats cannot win by anti-Trumpism alone. Overall, the party still lacks a compelling, accessible narrative for where they want to take the country.

In this race, Democrats had help from a massive black turnout that at 30 percent of all voters topped the Obama elections. But they had help as well from Republicans lacking the stomach to vote send an accused child molester to represent their state in the Senate.

Newsweek reports that write-in votes on Tuesday were larger than Jones' margin of victory:
With almost all of the votes counted, write-in votes numbered close to 23,000. Jones’ margin of victory, meanwhile, was a little under 21,000. Write-in votes made up just 0.12 percent of the vote when Jeff Sessions won re-election to the U.S. senate from Alabama in 2008 but represented 1.7 percent of the vote Tuesday. Thus, assuming the vast majority of those votes would otherwise have gone for Moore, write-in votes had a decisive impact.
With Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby declaring on Sunday he had written in a Republican other than Moore, and with fellow Alabamian, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, urging people to vote, just not for Moore, the jump in write-ins reflects a strong anyone-but-Moore vote among Republicans.

Moore is a singular figure, Democrats warned, and a phenomenon likely not to be repeated in 2018. Unless Trump supporters regain enough momentum at the urging of former White House advisor Steve Bannon to turn out for candidates as fringe as Moore in spring primaries, cooler heads may draw their party back to saner territory, creating less of a “crisis in the voting booth” for Republican voters in 2018.

On the bright side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won't have to hold a sham ethics investigation for Moore. He won't have to humiliate his caucus further. The White House will handle that. He may not even have much longer to worry about not-so-Breitbart Steve Bannon. Some Republicans last night were "dancing on his grave."

“I think Bannon made an ass of himself [tonight],” said Stu Stevens, former top strategist to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Last night proved Democrats can win anywhere. Right now, potential candidates who might have seen the waters as unfavorable may be reconsidering a 2018 run. Too often, Democratic leaders have played a narrow game of putting all their chips on a few "winnable" races. The criteria for what is winnable got blown wide open last night.

Their biggest obstacle may be just showing up. You must be present to win.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Put this on a t-shirt

by digby

What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of President Trump? (Numbers are not percentages. Figures show the number of times each response was given. This table reports only words that were mentioned at least five times.)


idiot 53
liar 44
incompetent 36

leader 35
strong 35
asshole 26
great 21
moron 19
arrogant 18
disgusting 17
unqualified 16
crazy 15

bold 14
buffoon 12
dangerous 12
ignorant 12
corrupt 11
dishonest 11

honest 11
racist 11
businessman 10
different 10
stupid 10
business 9
change 9
egotistical 9
fraud 9

good 9
narcissist 9
president 9
American 8
jerk 8
trying 8
unstable 8
awesome 7
bombastic 7
disaster 7
pig 7
childish 6
dumb 6
evil 6
joke 6

powerful 6
courageous 5
disgrace 5
fantastic 5
hard-worker 5 [hah!]
insane 5

I would have said "pussy-grabber". But that's just me.


Trump's defense witnesses that weren't

by digby

I know it's hard to believe that Trump is well ... Trump, but it's even harder to believe that his administration could possibly be this pathetic. Yesterday Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed there were multiple witnesses who would disprove the allegations of Trump's harassment and assaults and promised to provide a list of them. Here they are, via Think Progress:

Katie Blair

Katie Blair is offered by the White House as an “eyewitness” who disputes the account of Samantha Holvey, who alleges “Trump personally inspected each of the contestants” at an event prior to the 2006 Miss USA pageant. Holvey said it was “the dirtiest I felt in my entire life.” She also said that Trump went into a dressing room while some of the contestants were getting ready.

Blair, however, was not even a contestant at the 2006 Miss USA pageant and has not publicly commented on Holvey’s claims. She was the winner of Miss Teen USA in 2006, which is a different event. Miss Teen USA was held in August 2006 in Palm Springs. Miss USA was held in April 2006 in Baltimore.

Blair spoke out after “multiple other former contestants claimed he walked in on girls changing during a different pageant in 1997.” Blair said that nothing similar had happened to her. She did not rule out that Trump come into a dressing room while contestants were changing but suggested that, if it did happen, it’s because the women wanted to expose themselves to Trump. “[I]f anything like that ever occurred, the women involved were probably ‘well aware’ that Trump was coming back there,” Blair told the New York Daily News.

Melissa Young

Melissa Young was also offered as an “eyewitness” who disputes the account of Samantha Holvey. The White House list describes Young as someone who “Also Competed In The 2005 Miss USA Pageant.”

But Holvey was not a contestant in the 2005 Miss USA pageant. In fact, Holvey represented North Carolina in the 2006 Miss USA Pageant, while Young represented Wisconsin in the 2005 Miss USA Pageant. (A different contestant named Chelsea Cooley represented North Carolina in 2005; she won.)

An inquiry to the White House press office about this apparent error was not immediately returned.

Young has not publicly commented on Holvey’s account. She says that Trump was kind to her several years later when she had a blood clot that sent her to the hospital. Young described Trump as a “gentleman.”

Notably, one person who says Trump walked into dressing rooms while beauty pageant contestants were changing is Donald Trump himself. Here is what Trump told Howard Stern in 2005:

Well, I’ll tell you the funniest [sic] is that before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. You know they’re standing there with no clothes… And you see these incredible-looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.

Trump’s language, that he “inspected” the contestants, matches Holvey’s account.

Anthony Gilberthorpe

Anthony Gilberthorpe first emerged during Trump’s presidential campaign and claimed to be an eyewitness disputing the account of Jessica Leeds, who says Trump groped her on an airplane in 1980. Gilberthorpe’s name does not appear on the document provided by the White House, which simply refers to him as “an eyewitness.”

Gliberthorpe’s specific claim about Leeds has no independent backing but is based on his “self-described excellent memory.” He claims that, as an 18-year-old British boy, he was in the first class cabin of a U.S. domestic flight. Although he claims “nothing inappropriate” happened, he says he remembers the interactions between Trump and Leeds exactly and monitored their behavior the entire flight. According to Gilberthorpe, Leeds was flirting with Trump. Later Gilberthorpe claims that Leeds, then in her 30s, confided in him (an 18-year-old stranger) that she wanted to marry Trump.

But even more significantly, as ThinkProgress has previously reported, Gilberthorpe is a notorious liar:

In 1987, for example, he told newspapers in England that he was engaged to fashion designer in California named Miss Leah Bergdorf-Hunt. “Both our families are delighted,” he told The Gloucester Express. It was later revealed that he was not engaged. Also there was no Miss Bergdorf-Hunt. He invented the whole thing.

He later won a substantial libel judgment from British newspapers that reported he had AIDS. But it eventually came out that Gilberthorpe himself was the source for the story. The newspapers appealed and Gilberthorpe ended up settling after the newspapers agreed to offset a small portion of his legal fees. The incident left him “very much out of pocket and with egg all over his face.”

Gilberthorpe also contends that, as a young man, he was “paid to recruit underage rent boys for orgies attended by ministers from Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.” There is no evidence to support his salacious claims.

So the White House’s list of “eyewitnesses” consists of two women who don’t even claim to be eyewitnesses and a British man with an incredible story and a documented history of deception. The White House is suggesting that these “eyewitnesses” mean the claims of more than 14 women are “totally disputed.”

Well ok then.


Yeah, they're being disdained. For good reason.

by digby

Ed Gillespie, the losing GOP candidate in the Virginia Governor's race and a former RNC chairman appeared on David Axelrod's podcast and said this about the Trump-Moore base:

“There’s a lot of people who feel like they are not just being disagreed with but they are being disdained. People feel like they are being marginalized and demonized for having concerns by an elite that doesn't understand their concerns.”

I keep hearing this. And it's true that the rest of the country disdains them. It's because they are voting for cretinous monsters who are destroying the country and possibly the world. Maybe if they stop doing that the rest of us would have a little bit more respect for them.

Seriously --- pussy grabbers and child molesters? They have lost all common decency. And they expect the rest of the country to just sit back and say nothing?

"That makes me smart!"

by digby

Josh Marshall had a great insight this morning, analyzing Trump's insulting tweet to Senator Gillibrand. It was obviously stunningly sexist but it also illustrates something fundamental about how Trump sees politics:

Remember, this is what he said:

Josh writes:

Trump routinely levels attacks like this. Democratic Politician A always came asking for political contributions. Now that I’m a Republican and a conservative President, they’re against me. In other words, they’re clearly shown to be a fraud, hypocrite, disloyal person.

This seems like a fairly major misunderstanding about how our politics are at least supposed to work. If Politician A solicits political contributions from Apolitical Businessperson B or one who gives equally to both parties and then sees Apolitical Businessperson B stake out a public politics that clashes dramatically with the Politician A’s beliefs we’d expect Politician A to opposes formerly Apolitical Businessperson B. If they didn’t, if they continued to support the now President’s extremist politics, which were starkly different from their own, because of past political contributions, we’d rightly consider the politician to be corrupt.

This is clearly not how Donald Trump sees it.

To the President, soliciting political contributions creates a bond of subservience against which any subsequent caviling about mammoth political differences is either sleazy, hypocritical or disloyal.

What it all amounts to is that personal loyalty, a kind of mafia-like allegiance, is the only legitimate mode of interaction. Which is to say, in Trumpthink, only corruption has legitimacy.

This is a man who said when accused of not paying any taxes on his hundreds of millions of dollars : "that makes me smart."

It's corruption all the way down. That's what makes him a player, that's what makes him smart.

And, by the way, plenty of his deplorable followers, who love to evoke Jesus and morality to beat the gay out of teenage boys and force young girls to give birth to their own sisters, cheered when he openly admitted that he is corrupt and dishonest. They agree that makes him smart and it's one of the things they like about him.


Feel good for a minute

by digby


Wouldn't it be nice if this woman's first vote defeated that misogynist racist Roy Moore?

Finger crossed, trying not to get my hopes up.

Update: Fergawdsakes

American politics has become the stupidest reality show on earth. Even dumber than Storage Wars.

Update II: Then, Horse Twitter came for him. Lol.


Remember when Republicans used to lecture Democrats about family values and honor and dignity?

by digby

For those of you who don't use twitter, this happened today:

Yes, that is your president basically saying that Senator Gillibrand offered him sexual favors for money. Among other things.

Oh, and we're about to see if a credibly accused molester of underage girls and totally insane racist theocrat is going to become a member of the US Senate.

Welcome to Donald Trump's America.


Steve Bannon, "Master Strategist"

by digby

I wrote about the emerging myth of Bannon the Genius for Salon this morning

There was a time when I might have written the words, "Alabama Republicans would rather see a child molester elected to the Senate than a Democrat," and it would have been seen as an exaggeration. Frankly, I would have meant it, long before now. Alabama is the home of George Wallace, Jeff Sessions and . . . Judge Roy Moore, who was thrown off the State Supreme Court for defying the U.S. Constitution twice! Now he's the Republican nominee in Tuesday's special election for the U.S. Senate. These people are serious, deep-in-their-bones "states' rights" conservatives with all that implies.

Nonetheless, one might have thought there would at least be a collective recoil among conservative evangelicals when a candidate was credibly alleged to have molested and "dated" underage girls when he was in his 30s. But after stumbling a bit at first, Moore adopted the Trump method of blanket denial, and most of his base of conservative Christians have decided to take his word for it over the women who have accused him.

After all, Moore is one of them, a hard right, true blue, evangelical zealot who put a two-ton statue of the Ten Commandments in front of the courthouse and refused to acknowledge the Supreme Court's recognition of marriage equality. And those were just his highest-profile culture war battles. From anti-Muslim rhetoric to antediluvian attitudes on race to patriarchal views on women's rights, he's one of the nation's leading conservative Christian soldiers.

Most Republicans in Alabama will vote for Roy Moore on Tuesday no matter what. The only question is whether enough of them defect or stay home -- and whether enough Democrats show up to vote to defeat him. If that happens, it will be a very big deal. Alabama hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992. That was the state's current senior senator, Richard Shelby, who promptly changed parties and hasn't looked back. Interestingly, Shelby has refused to support Moore and says he didn't vote for him, but couldn't bring himself to vote for Democrat Doug Jones either.

It's hard to imagine a less likely champion for a fanatical right-wing Christian than Steve Bannon, the former presidential strategist who is now (once again) chair of Breitbart News. But he's been Moore's most vociferous backer, going back to the Republican primary when President Trump supported Luther Strange, the establishment choice who was appointed to fill the seat after Jeff Sessions became attorney general. Had Strange won that runoff, he would likely be so far ahead of Jones today that the rest of the country wouldn't even be aware of this election. And Bannon's star would be much lower in the sky.

Bannon is a millionaire city slicker whose phony drawl, unshaven mug and what appears to be some kind of hunting jacket are a pose he affects on the campaign trail. It's as if he's had one of his Hollywood stylist pals put together a "populist" costume. It seems to be pretty popular down in Alabama, where he strolls around the stage explaining to folks how the "elites" are tryna tell 'em what ta do. He calls out the GOP "establishment" by their first names, saying things like, "We’re going to hold you accountable, Mitch, real conservatives hold you in total contempt," to ecstatic applause from the crowd.

Just a few days ago, Bannon viciously attacked Mitt Romney, saying, "You hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while men were dying in Vietnam. Do not talk about honor and integrity." Apparently he has forgotten that draft-dodging Donald Trump once said that avoiding venereal disease was his own personal Vietnam.

Of course Bannon relentlessly attacks the media, which he also calls the "opposition." When the Washington Post reported the first accusations of women claiming to have been molested by Moore, Bannon knew who to blame:
The Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post that dropped that dime on Donald Trump is the same Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post that dropped the dime this afternoon on Judge Roy Moore. Now, is that a coincidence? That’s what I mean when I say opposition party, right? It’s purely part of the apparatus of the Democratic Party. They don’t make any bones about it. By the way, I don’t mind it. I’ll call them out every day.
Bannon's entire spiel during this campaign boils down to what he said in Midland City, Alabama, on Monday night: "They tried to destroy Donald Trump and they tried to destroy Roy Moore. They're coming for you!" For some reason this thrills the crowds and they cheer deliriously when he says it.

The emerging mythology here is that Bannon single-handedly rescued Moore from ignominy after the molestation charges surfaced. The story goes that Trump was overseas and was inclined to follow the mainstream Republican crowd that was saying variations on "If the charges are true, Moore should step down." Trump's poodle Sean Hannity followed his lead, demanding that Moore "explain himself" within 24 hours or he would withdraw his endorsement. Bannon is credited with coming up with the idea of saying that "the people of Alabama should decide," which Hannity adopted quickly, followed by much of the GOP and finally the president himself. After which Moore's poll numbers revived, putting him in position for a likely victory.

Bannon reportedly persuaded Trump that he needed to ensure Republicans didn't lose a Senate vote, but I think this is Bannon being self-serving. Remember, Trump was actually in the catbird seat at the time. He'd endorsed Strange and after he lost had pivoted to Moore without much enthusiasm. If Moore were to lose, Trump could say he'd backed the "real" winner originally so it wasn't his fault. If Moore won, Trump could take credit, since he takes credit for everything, including the sun coming up in the morning.

If the president has moved closer to Moore in recent weeks, it's out of pure self-interested calculation. Trump likely concluded he'd be better off standing up for Moore in the face of all those accusers than letting him twist in the wind while everyone started thinking about that "Access Hollywood" tape of 2016 and all the accusations that followed. Trump's instinct is to fight, and my guess is that he felt by fighting for Moore he was fighting for himself.

This is being seen as Bannon's big moment. Even Roy Moore is calling him the "master strategist." If Moore wins this race, the political establishment is preparing to label Bannon as the latest GOP genius along the lines of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. And that will be ridiculous.

If Roy Moore is elected to the Senate, it won't be because of Steve Bannon. It will be because it's Alabama, a state so conservative that more people would rather vote for a Republican child molester than a Democratic candidate of any description. It's been that way for more than 30 years.

If Doug Jones wins, on the other hand, it will suggest that something very hopeful may be unfolding: a congressional takeover in 2018. For that we can thank ordinary women who came forward and told their stories. Let's hope they are rewarded for their bravery.


Heart of Dixie

by Tom Sullivan

The special election for U.S. Senate today in Alabama should not be a toss-up. And yet.

With the fall of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and members of Congress over sexual harassment claims, and with the allegations of child predation against Republican candidate Roy Moore, the cultural shift surrounding the #MeToo movement has changed the dynamics of the race between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. In deep-red Alabama, tonight's outcome is anybody's guess.

Annie Linskey of the Boston Globe told Chris Matthews last night on "Hardball" she had visited an Alabama county where three-quarters of the voters had supported the sitting president last fall. "When I was looking for women who would say on the record that they were voting for Roy Moore, I mean, they laughed at me," she told Matthews. "They just laughed at me. Almost all of them said no."

Even though she is a yankee, Linskey said, Alabamians had all been polite. The puzzle pollsters seem unable to unravel is, were they being honest? What will women do away from reporters and husbands in the privacy of the voting booth?

"Somebody’s going to be wrong in Alabama," Nate Silver writes at FiveThirtyEight. Silver examines the vagaries of calling cell phones or landlines, and live calls versus robocalls. There still remains the question of whether people who are going to vote for (or against) Roy Moore will admit to voting for (or against) Roy Moore. The polls are all over the place.

Scott Douglas, executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, worries aloud in the New York Times that Alabama's photo ID law may already have determined the outcome, something Silver's analysis did not consider. People may be coy about who they are supporting in today's election, but in Alabama supporters of photo ID laws are less shy about whom they do not want voting:

A state senator who had tried for over a decade to get the bill into law, told The Huntsville Times that a photo ID law would undermine Alabama’s “black power structure.” In The Montgomery Advertiser, he said that the absence of an ID law “benefits black elected leaders.”

The bill’s sponsors were even caught on tape devising a plan to depress the turnout of black voters — whom they called “aborigines” and “illiterates” who would ride “H.U.D.-financed buses” to the polls — in the 2010 midterm election by keeping a gambling referendum off the ballot. Gambling is popular among black voters in Alabama, so they thought if it had remained on the ballot, black voters would show up to vote in droves.
Douglas considers Alabama's law "a naked attempt to suppress the voting rights of people of color."

Estimates Douglas cites for how many registered voters do not have the required ID may be inflated, however. Telephone surveys we conducted in North Carolina ahead of the 2016 election found that many voters flagged for not also having a driver’s license (an indication they might not be able to vote) did in fact have other valid ID. But the size of the pool of exclusion is not the point. Republicans' public reasoning is that even one illegal vote "steals" the vote of a legitimate voter and justifies expensive and onerous measures in the name of election integrity. They are simply less concerned about integrity preventing even one legitimate voter from casting a ballot at all if that person is black or Latino and likely to vote for a Democrat.

People can be racists and not want to be seen as racists. People may vote for a sexual predator and not want to be seen as voting for a sexual predator. Or not. We'll know more about Alabama's heart tonight after 7 p.m. Central Time.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Monday, December 11, 2017


Trump's tax "cut-cut-cut" is less popular than ebola

by digby

It's truly stunning how unpopular the GOP tax bill is. In fact it's the most unpopular piece of legislation they've polled in 30 years. 30 years people!

Congressional Republicans are poised to pass the biggest tax overhaul in a generation, but Americans remain unconvinced that the measure will cut their own taxes or significantly boost the economy.

A new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds just 32% support the GOP tax plan; 48% oppose it. That's the lowest level of public support for any major piece of legislation enacted in the past three decades, including the Affordable Care Act in 2009.

Americans are skeptical of the fundamental arguments Republicans have made in selling the bill: A 53% majority of those surveyed predict their own families won't pay lower taxes as a result of the measure, and an equal 53% say it won't help the economy in a major way.

A conference committee is now trying to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill, and congressional leaders are optimistic that a final version will be on President Trump's desk by Christmas.

"It's fairly favorable to the highest earners and to corporations," says Thomas Beline, 36, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., who was among those surveyed. "I have a dim view of the ability of corporations to take that money and hire people or invest in R & D [research and development]. What I think is likely to happen is you're going to see higher dividends paid out to shareholders, who already are some of the wealthiest people in the country."

The findings underscore the risk for Republicans even as they move toward achieving one of the party's top policy priorities and delivering the first major legislative achievement of the Trump administration. Christopher Warshaw, a political scientist at The George Washington University, cautions that passage of the bill will make it more likely Democrats win control of the House in next year's midterm elections, akin to the electoral price Democrats paid in the 2010 midterms for passing Obamacare.

"In recent decades, Congress has never passed a major bill this unpopular," Warshaw says. "I think that passing this bill will substantially hurt the GOP brand — particularly among moderate, well-educated suburban voters and among the working-class white voters that switched over to support Trump in 2016. I think this will cost Republican members of Congress votes in the midterms and it may hurt Trump in 2020. It makes it very hard for Trump or the GOP to claim that they have a populist agenda."

One reason the GOP is moving ahead is that Republican voters are enthusiastic. In the survey, they backed the tax bill by an overwhelming 71%-12%. Two-thirds of Republicans predict their own taxes will be cut, and nearly three-fourths say the bill will significantly boost the nation's economy.

The USA TODAY poll of 1,000 registered voters, taken Tuesday through Saturday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

"I work for a small business ... and the owner has talked about the things he could do if we enact this tax bill," says Chad Dunlap, 42, of Wapakoneta, Ohio, who was called in the poll. Dunlap, the business-development manager for a roofing company, was elected last month to the Wapakoneta City Council. "He could invest and have better equipment for our people, better income for our crews."

Haven Gillispie, 37, a sales representative from Jamestown, N.Y., hears conflicting reports on the impact of the bill. "I don't know exactly what's in it," she said in a follow-up phone interview. "But Trump is promising it's going to help working families, so I'm relying on that."

Overall, only 35% believe that the bill will boost the economy, and 31% that their own families' tax bills will be lowered as a result. Nearly two-thirds, 64%, say the wealthy will get the most benefits; just 17% say the middle-class will.

Negotiations between the House and Senate continued through the weekend. Both versions of the bill would cut taxes by about $1.5 trillion over the next decade, slashing the corporate tax rate and doubling the standard deduction used by most Americans. But there are some significant differences, and Republicans are divided over whether and how to ameliorate the impact on residents of such high-tax states as New York, New Jersey and California.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation concluded in separate studies that the Republican proposals would help wealthier Americans the most. Almost all households making less than $10,000 a year would see minimal change; almost all households making between $500,000 and $1 million a year would get a tax cut of at least $500.

They deserve it. After all, they work harder than everyone else or were smart enough to be born rich. To the victos belong the spoils ...

Trump now has a favorable-unfavorable rating of 34%-58%, a net negative of 24 percentage points. His standing has worsened through the year, from a net negative of just 2 points in March and 15 points in June.
Vice President Mike Pence is viewed favorably by 33%-45%, a net negative of 12 points. He was viewed favorably by a net positive 12 points near the beginning of the year.

The Republican Party has a dismal favorable rating of 24%-61%, a net negative of 37 points, compared with a net negative of 11 points in the first poll of the year.

Congress has the worst rating of all, viewed favorably by 17% and unfavorably by 64%. That is a net negative rating of 47 points, compared to a negative 26 points at the beginning of the year.

Favorable ratings have improved for two groups this year. The Democratic Party now is viewed favorably by 36%, unfavorably by 47%. That's not exactly a rosy assessment, but it's much better — or at least much less worse — than the Republican Party. The Democrats' net negative of 11 points is a modest improvement from March, when the party stood at a negative 16 points.

And views of the news media, while still negative, also have improved a tick. Near the beginning of the year, the favorable-unfavorable rating was 37%-50%. Now it is 38%-46%.

I's nice to see that Pence's obsequious sucking up to this unpopular boob is finally taking a toll on his favorables too. It's important that everyone understands that he is Trump's creature through and through, as are every last one of these cynical enablers.


Replace him with a Magic 8-ball
by digby

It's bad enough that he behaves like a toddler on domestic issues, tweeting whatever tantrum overcomes him on a daily basis. But this puerile approach to presidential decision making on foreign policy is something else:
The similarities between Trump’s refusal to recertify the Iranian nuclear deal in October and his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week are striking — and revealing. In each case, he was presented with a congressionally mandated requirement to renew a policy of previous presidents. His secretaries of defense and state urged him to preserve it, lest he disrupt U.S. policies and endanger U.S. interests across the Middle East and beyond.

Each time, Trump bridled — essentially flipping over the table and insisting he would not do what Barack Obama or George W. Bush or Bill Clinton would have done. He made no secret of the fact that his primary — maybe his sole — motivation was to prove that he was a different and somehow better president. “Previous presidents . . . failed to deliver,” he boasted in announcing the Jerusalem move. “I am delivering.”

We could tell he was totally unqualified to be president by what he said on the campaign trail. Perhaps there were those who believed that he understood this and would be a sort of figurehead and empower serious, sober people to create policy which he would then present to the American people. I suppose there might have been some who thought he would put in the work to learn on the job or was so preternaturally talented as a leader that he would simply "know" the right answers. I believed none of those things and always assumed that he would make his decisions based upon his gut which never developed past puberty. But this is lazy even for him. Anything other presidents did, do the opposite?

An 8 ball would make more informed decisions.


Back to the 50s. The 1850s.
by digby

So Roy Moore is known for his looney political philosophy and propensity to molest young girls. But his view of the constitution may be even loonier than we knew. He appeared on an obscure conspiracy theory radio show in 2011 and said some ... unusual tings. Keep in mind that this guy was kicked off the Alabama Supreme Court twice for refusing to enforce the rule of law. In this respect he's not Donald Trump. He actually knows what the constitution says:
CNN's KFile obtained audio from Moore's two appearances on the show. In the same June episode, Moore invoked Adolf Hitler in a discussion about Obama's birth certificate. In a May 2011 episode, Moore told the two radio hosts, who have repeatedly rejected the official explanation for the 9/11 attacks, that he would be open to hearings looking into "what really happened" on that day.

In Moore's June appearance, one of the hosts says he would like to see an amendment that would void all the amendments after the Tenth.

"That would eliminate many problems," Moore replied. "You know people don't understand how some of these amendments have completely tried to wreck the form of government that our forefathers intended."

Moore cited the 17th Amendment, which calls for the direct election of senators by voters rather than state legislatures, as one he particularly found troublesome.

The host agreed with Moore, before turning his attention to the 14th Amendment, which was passed during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War and guaranteed citizenship and equal rights and protection to former slaves and has been used in landmark Supreme Court cases such as Brown v. Board of Education and Obergefell v. Hodges.

"People also don't understand, and being from the South I bet you get it, the 14th Amendment was only approved at the point of the gun," the host said.

"Yeah, it had very serious problems with its approval by the states," Moore replied. "The danger in the 14th Amendment, which was to restrict, it has been a restriction on the states using the first Ten Amendments by and through the 14th Amendment. To restrict the states from doing something that the federal government was restricted from doing and allowing the federal government to do something which the first Ten Amendments prevented them from doing. If you understand the incorporation doctrine used by the courts and what it meant. You'd understand what I'm talking about."

Moore explained further that the first ten amendments restricted the federal government in certain areas.

"For example, the right to keep and bear arms, the First Amendment, freedom of press liberty. Those various freedoms and restrictions have been imposed on the states through the 14th Amendment. And yet the federal government is violating just about every one of them saying that -- they don't they don't -- are not restrained by them."

Keep in mind that it was Moore's refusal to observe the 1st Amendment's prohibition against the establishment of religion that got him kicked off the first time. He insisted on putting the 10 Commandments in the courthouse. He's also said that Keith Ellison should not be allowed to take a seat in congress because he is a Muslim. So his protestations to the contrary, Roy Moore doesn't believe in the constitution. He believes in Roy Moore. And we're supposed to believe in him too.


Blue America Contest!

by digby

The wonderful Nancy Ohanian has donated one of her gorgeous signed prints, "Gung Ho," to Blue America to use for raising money for the candidates we've endorsed this year. She would like to see Congress flip from red to blue and so would we... and we know you would too. So this is how this works. Just contribute any amount to any of our candidates on this page. One dollar; ten dollars, $1,000... it's up to you. Split it between all the candidates, give it to your favorite candidate or split it between 2 or 3 candidates... all up to you. (Just not more than $2,700 to any one candidate.)

If you want a chance to own this piece of American political history, the signed print "Gung Ho" by Nancy Ohanian just donate to any/some/all of the Blue America candidates on this page by Monday morning, December 17th. Best of luck!

Next week (Monday, December 17), we'll pick one name randomly and send that person the signed "Gung Ho" print by Nancy. Easy, right?

This is an especially crucial election cycle. I don't think there's ever been more at stake than now with this madman in the White House and a Congress filled with enablers and cheerleaders. We can't get Trump out of office next November... but we can and will put a check on him by defeating lots and lots of Republicans in Congress, starting with Paul Ryan and working our way down.

And what makes this cycle even more exciting is that there seems to be a mammoth anti-Trump/anti-GOP wave building and intensifying. Every poll this year has shown it. And as we saw a few weeks ago in Virginia and last week in Georgia, there are no districts that are too red to flip-- IF the right candidates are running. The men and women on this list are for real progressives of good moral character and with solid work ethics. Most important, these are the people who will make Congress a better place and force Congress to make our country a better place. Please give generously.

And if you want to have a chance to win but find yourself in a tight financial situation, send a letter to Blue America at PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027 and tell us you want to be part of the Christmas "Gung Ho" contest (be sure to include your contact info). The FEC demands we make some lawyer language available for our contests. You can find it here.

And one more thing about the progressive candidates Blue America has endorsed so far this cycle. We talk to them-- sometimes for months-- get to know them and we don't endorse them until we feel as sure as is humanly possible that when they get into Congress, they will earnestly endeavor to enhance the lives of working families; make the tough decisions necessary to move our country along in a more progressive direction. Message us on the Blue America Facebook page to let us know if you want more information on any particular candidate.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team

A Trump Super PAC has a 12 year old girl interview Roy Moore

by digby

That picture is Leigh Corfman at the age when Moore molested her. So what does the Trump Super PAC do? They actually have a 12 year old girl interview Roy Moore:

You cannot make this stuff up.


The Big Push Back on Mueller has arrived

by digby

I wrote about the right's multi-pronged attack on the special counsel for Salon this morning:

Congressman Adam Schiff appeared on CNN on Sunday and laid out the state of the Trump campaign Russian collusion investigation in stark, simple terms:

It is. I would also add, as I wrote last week, that numerous members of the Trump transition team apparently knew that Michael Flynn told the Russian ambassador to tell his government not to react to the sanctions the Obama administration had just imposed upon them. That's damning too. The Russians were essentially told, "Don't worry, we'll make sure you aren't punished for helping us win the presidency."

Whether laws were broken, beyond the charges filed so far against four top Trump advisers, we don't yet know. But it's clear that special counsel Robert Mueller is pursuing leads in a number of directions, from possible financial crimes to obstruction of justice to conspiracy. With former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleading guilty to lying, and agreeing to cooperate, this investigation has moved beyond the campaign to the transition and the White House. It's very serious.

And as anyone could have predicted, it was inevitable that the president's supporters in the media and the Republican Party would start to push back and try to delegitimize the investigation by attacking Mueller. This is the usual pattern in these presidential scandals.

Everyone in politics knows about the "Saturday Night Massacre" of 1973, when Richard Nixon demanded that Attorney General Elliot Richardson fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, after the U.S. Court of Appeals overruled the president's claim of executive privilege. Richardson refused and resigned, as did his deputy, William Ruckelshaus. It was left to Solicitor General Robert Bork, third in line at the Department of Justice, to do the deed. Ten months later, Nixon was forced to resign in the face of certain impeachment. His successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him shortly thereafter.

In the Iran-Contra scandal, the Republicans went after independent counsel Lawrence Walsh with everything they had, even granting immunity to the Reagan administration's henchman, Lt. Col. Oliver North, so he could arrogantly testify before the whole country that he was proud to have broken the law on behalf of the United States of America. That investigation was finally ended when President George H.W. Bush preemptively pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five other government officials on Christmas Eve 1992, as Bush was on his way out the door.

Democrats mercilessly battered conservative Republican judge Ken Starr, who was appointed independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation when his predecessor failed to turn up any crimes. This was a key to the Democrats' success in maintaining public opinion during the Lewinsky sex scandal, because it seemed that Starr had gone far afield from his original mandate to investigate an Arkansas real estate transaction from the 1980s.

So now we have Mueller, a former U.S. attorney and the longest-serving FBI director after J. Edgar Hoover, investigating President Trump and the 2016 election. If it is true that Trump coordinated with the Russian government during the election and then obstructed justice to cover it up, it is the most serious presidential scandal in American history. Nixon horrifically abused his power, the Reagan administration defied the will of Congress and Bill Clinton lied about an extramarital affair. This is of a different magnitude altogether.

The Republicans are obviously aware of the danger and are frantically circling the wagons. They spent months throwing various ideas at the wall, including the obscure (and largely fictitious) Uranium One scandal and other Clinton Foundation matters, in an attempt to force Mueller to resign on the grounds that he was FBI director at the time. Now they've finally settled on a grand unifying theory: the Justice Department, the FBI and the special counsel's office are all hopelessly corrupt and compromised due to their fealty to Hillary Clinton and hostility to Trump.

The theory goes like this: James Comey and his men covered up Hillary Clinton's crimes, and Mueller and his team are now trying to railroad Trump. This thesis is based on the fact that an FBI agent who was involved in both cases sent some texts to his girlfriend which were allegedly anti-Trump. Muller fired him last summer and he was demoted to the bureau's human resources department.

Trump's most ardent media advocate, Sean Hannity, came out with guns blazing last week. He condemned Mueller's "partisan, extremely biased, hyper-partisan attack team" as "an utter disgrace." He said "they now pose a direct threat to you, the American people, and our American republic."

Fox Legal Analyst Gregg Jarrett said "I think we now know that the Mueller investigation is illegitimate and corrupt. And Mueller has been using the FBI as a political weapon. And the FBI has become America's secret police. Secret surveillance, wiretapping, intimidation, harassment and threats. It's like the old KGB that comes for you in the dark of the night banging through your door."
Here is Judge Jeanine Pirro over the week-end:

Meanwhile, Trump's allies in the congress are also ratcheting up the crazy:
People wonder why Graham has suddenly become such an obsequious Trump lapdog and my suspicion is that he thinks he can distract him from doing something that will totally destroy his presidency with Clinton bait and unctuous flattery. It won't work, of course

Trump's allies in the House have escalated their attacks as well, notably Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Ron DeSantis, a pair of Florida Republicans Trump huddled with aboard Air Force One on his way to the Roy Moore rally in Pensacola last Friday night. DeSantis has been pushing legislation to cut off Mueller's funding and Gaetz has said that America is "at risk of a coup" from Mueller, and has introduced a resolution calling for him to be fired.

All of this, from the right-wing media to the GOP Congress, is designed to push Trump to fire Mueller -- and if that fails, to discredit Mueller's findings among their followers, as Paul Waldman argues here. But considering the history of partisan attacks on special prosecutors and independent counsels, this can hardly come as a surprise to Mueller and his team. Mueller has been in high levels of government for many years; he's not a political naif. He undoubtedly knew this was coming.

We don't know whether or not Mueller has laid enough landmines to protect his investigation, although there are some indications that he's made the effort. But if Trump's rhetoric on Friday night is any indication, when he called the system "rigged" and "sick," we may be about to find out.



The forgotten victims

by digby

Brave New Films held a press conference this morning with some of the many women the president has harassed and assaulted over the years. I guess the mainstream press isn't interested. Maybe if they all wore blue dresses.

Here's the movie Brave New Films made featuring all the women who have come forward:

Update: So, I was looking for some footage of Trump insulting these women and came across several news reports about it. I honestly couldn't believe what I saw.

Here's the best example from PBS. It is a long feature about the accusations but you won't believe the rave up ending.