What Can Be Gleaned From Trump’s Allegations of Wiretapping

By Charlie Savage

President Trump’s claim on Twitter early Saturday that he had “just found out” that “President Obama was tapping my phones in October,” an accusation for which he offered no evidence, has set off another spasm surrounding his young administration. On Sunday, Mr. Trump’s spokesman said the administration was asking Congress to investigate the president’s allegation.

There is ample reason for caution because Mr. Trump has a history of making attention-grabbing and politically explosive claims that have no basis in fact. As things stand, a plausible explanation is that Mr. Trump was merely riffing off a March 3 article on the alt-right website Breitbart.com. It laid out a theory circulating in some conservative circles that President Barack Obama sought to sabotage Mr. Trump through surveillance.

The episode has heightened interest in several related surveillance issues.

Can a president order the wiretapping of an American?

Not legally. There are two lawful ways that allow government officials to target people in the United States for surveillance and to collect the contents of their phone calls and emails: criminal wiretaps, called “Title III” warrants, and national security wiretaps, called Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, orders. Both types of wiretapping are ordered by federal judges, after applications from the Justice Department.

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90 COMMENTS

  1. @OP – Can a president order the wiretapping of an American?

    Not legally. There are two lawful ways that allow government officials to target people in the United States for surveillance and to collect the contents of their phone calls and emails: criminal wiretaps, called “Title III” warrants, and national security wiretaps, called Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, orders. Both types of wiretapping are ordered by federal judges, after applications from the Justice Department.

    Trump does not bother understanding administrative procedures, so that is a probable explanation why what looks like made up fiction is so transparent implausible!

    There is ample reason for caution because Mr. Trump has a history of making attention-grabbing and politically explosive claims that have no basis in fact. As things stand, a plausible explanation is that Mr. Trump was merely riffing off a March 3 article on the alt-right website Breitbart.com.

    In ridiculous claims such as global warming being a “Chinese conspiracy”, Trump seems to use gutter-press tabloid rag-class media like Breitbart and Fox, as information sources!
    Most of his team are deniers of science or scientific evidence-based methodology – which would imply a lack of competence at researching or checking information!

    These wild claims about wire-tapping seem to follow the usual pattern of some wild assertion being made by Trump, followed by some vague revamping of it as spin by his propagandist team, further followed by calls for the matter to be formally investigated as a further unevidenced assertion that there is actually something of substance to be investigated!
    The matter is then “generously dropped” or quietly abandoned as any competent investigation (while providing lots of opportunities for repeated assertions) is like to conclude there is not supporting evidence!

    Trump’s cheerleaders happily swallow these devious insinuations, but more and more people are wising up to this formula for the deceptive propagation of “alternative facts”, and demanding proper evidence before taking seriously anything Trump’s team says !

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/05/us/politics/trump-seeks-inquiry-into-allegations-that-obama-tapped-his-phones.html?_r=0

    Comey Asks Justice Dept. to Reject Trump’s Wiretapping Claim

    WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday.
    Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.

    Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said.

  2. Isn’t it just a Dead Cat? Talk about this instead of …

    Meanwhile, lets get back to finding out more about the Russian thing…

  3. The ‘chances’ of Obama, or any president of the USA tapping phones…….almost definately!!!!!

    Case of the boy crying wolf and losing credibility I think.

  4. When actual witnesses or professional administrators are asked for information – unlike Trump’s bunch, they give coherent answers!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39172719

    Mr Trump made the claims in a series of tweets but offered no evidence.

    **James Clapper, the US intelligence chief during the campaign, has flatly denied Trump Tower was wire-tapped.

    Mr Obama’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis, had earlier said that the former president had never “ordered surveillance of any US citizen”.**

    Mr Trump, who has been facing intense scrutiny over alleged Russian interference in support of his presidential bid, made the wire-tapping allegation in tweets written from his weekend home in Florida early on Saturday.

    His claims sparked Republican and Democrat politicians alike to demand details to back them up. Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio was the latest, saying on Sunday that “the White House will have to answer as to exactly what he was referring to”.

  5. “They are going to investigate Russian connections!!
    Quick more smoke and mirrors”!!!!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39168149

    The president cannot order a Fisa warrant

    Officials at the justice department must seek permission from the Fisa court

    Some Democrats feel Mr Trump’s latest tweets are an attempt to focus attention away from the Russian affair.

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said:
    “The Deflector-in-Chief is at it again
    .“

  6. Ahhhh, the republican”comfort zone”…. when cornered, holler “Obama” and assign blame for something to him. Great strategy.

    Let’s try it out at my place of work. Bus is late to pick up the kids? OBAMA caused traffic.

    Kids did poorly on a test? OBAMA has bad education policies?

    OBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMA

    OBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMA

    OBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMA

    OBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMAOBAMA

    It’s an extraordinarily strange obsession, no?

  7. crookedshoes #6
    Mar 7, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Like labelling on most quack products, Trump’s information claims to be from Breitbart, but it is pretty obvious, that it comes from Dumb-Bart, under the Breitbart homeopathic label – with the usual homeopathic dilution level of any factual content!! 🙂 🙂

  8. It seems there are also serious conflict of interest and constitutional law issues for which Trump urgently needs a diversionary smoke screen!

    http://uk.businessinsider.com/ap-china-grants-preliminary-approval-to-38-new-trump-trademarks-2017-3?r=US&IR=T

    China has granted preliminary approval for 38 new Trump trademarks, paving the way for President Donald Trump and his family to develop a host of branded businesses from hotels to insurance to bodyguard and escort services, public documents show.

    Trump’s lawyers in China applied for the marks in April 2016, as Trump railed against China at campaign rallies, accusing it of currency manipulation and stealing US jobs.
    Critics maintain that Trump’s swelling portfolio of China trademarks raises serious conflict-of-interest questions.

    China’s Trademark Office published the provisional approvals on February 27 and Monday.

    If no one objects, they will be formally registered after 90 days. All but three are in the president’s own name. China already registered one trademark to the president, for Trump-branded construction services, on February 14.

    If Trump receives any special treatment in securing trademark rights, it would violate the US Constitution, which bans public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign governments unless approved by Congress, ethics lawyers from across the political spectrum say.
    Concerns about potential conflicts of interest are particularly sharp in China, where the courts and bureaucracy are designed to reflect the will of the ruling Communist Party.

    Dan Plane, a director at Simone IP Services, a Hong Kong intellectual-property consultancy, said he had never seen so many applications approved so quickly.
    “For all these marks to sail through so quickly and cleanly, with no similar marks, no identical marks, no issues with specifications — boy, it’s weird,” he said.

    The trademarks are for businesses including branded spas, massage parlors, golf clubs, hotels, insurance, finance and real-estate companies, retail shops, restaurants, bars, and private bodyguard and escort services.

    I wonder what all those terribly holy fundamentalist Christians who voted for him, think of these apparent constitutional violations and business interests!

    I also wonder if the FBI and CIA were taking any interest in these business activities?

  9. So here is a REAL ISSUE requiring investigation!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39204032

    China has given US President Donald Trump the chance to expand his brand, after approving dozens of applications to register the Trump trademark.

    Many of the requests, for industries from hotels to security, were made during the US election campaign.

    President Trump, who already owns about 70 trademarks in China, has pledged not to strike new foreign business deals while in office.

    Critics have warned the approvals could breach the US Constitution.

    The Associated Press reported that 38 trademark requests had been provisionally given the go ahead.

    The approvals still need to be rubber-stamped. If no one objects to them, they will be formally registered in 90 days.

    Shortly before his inauguration, Mr Trump signed over his business interests to his sons – though critics said this did not go far enough.

    When news of the trademark applications emerged earlier this year, experts from across the US political spectrum said granting them could be considered an “emolument” – the term for a fee, salary or profit provided by a foreign government.

    These are outlawed by the Constitution.

    Barack Obama’s former ethics lawyer Norman Eisen said there was a risk of a conflict of interest.

    “The concern of the constitution is that flows of benefit to presidents from foreign sovereigns will distort their judgment, and trademarks are certainly capable of that,” he said in January.

    Meanwhile Richard Painter, a former chief ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush, said the volume of new approvals raised questions about whether Beijing was being favourable to the US President.

  10. So if I understand it correctly, the CIA is spying on the FBI and The NSA, among everyone else including GCHQ, and they and everyone else are also spying on the CIA ? Meanwhile in the world of the great unwashed, they are all spying on us, now via our ‘smart’ TVs and phones ! In Washington the new Gunslinger in Chief ties his hoss to the White House gates and saunters into the building to pick a fight. Head and table meet, ouch !

    Can’t wait for the next John Le Carre novel !

  11. It looks like senators are seeking official written answers in place of the innuendo and ducking and dodging by the Trump team!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/39210869

    Two US senators have written to law enforcement to inquire if there is any evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped.

    Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, and Republican Lindsey Graham sent the letter to the FBI on Wednesday.

    They requested “any warrant applications and court orders… related to wiretaps of President Trump, the Trump campaign, or Trump Tower”.

    Mr Trump tweeted the unsubstantiated claim over the weekend.

    “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” he posted in a series of tweets on Saturday morning.

    Despite repeated requests, the White House has not supplied any evidence for the claim.

    It has called on Congress to look into the allegation as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

    Mr Graham and Mr Whitehouse, two senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also addressed Wednesday’s letter to the Department of Justice.

    “Congress must get to the bottom of President Trump’s recent allegation that President Obama wiretapped President Trump’s phones during the 2016 election,” they wrote.

    An earlier report stated that “Trump has not asked FBI about wiretapping claims”, so having failed to seek proper information, there appears to be good reason why he has been unable to produce evidence to support his claims!

    The former president {Obama} reportedly “rolled his eyes” after learning of Mr Trump’s allegations, a source close to him told NBC News.

    Mr Obama reportedly thinks his successor’s unfounded claims “undermine the integrity of the office”, according to the source.

    But he is “much more concerned” about his successor’s actions on health insurance, understaffing the government, rolling back regulations and allowing mentally unstable people to buy guns with no scrutiny, the source added.

  12. It is becoming increasingly obvious that this presidency is being run for personal profit!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39210862

    Ivanka Trump’s brand is booming, says the fashion firm, as one estimate says sales have jumped five-fold.

    Abigail Klem, president of the US first daughter’s eponymous clothing line, says it has seen “some of the best performing weeks” in its history.

    The reported sales surge comes amid an ongoing boycott targeting business interests of the fashion entrepreneur’s father, President Donald Trump.

    Last month several retailers dropped Ms Trump’s label, citing falling sales.

    In an interview with fashion magazine Refinery29, Ms Klem declined to cite specific sales figures, but research by a market analytics firm seems to support the claim.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38927665

    President Donald Trump’s senior aide Kellyanne Conway is under fire for promoting Ivanka Trump’s products live on air from the White House press briefing room.

    Her comments followed a tweet by the president which criticised retailer Nordstrom for dropping the US first daughter’s clothing line.

    With declining sales picking up despite protest boycott, following an illegal advert from the White House, promoting her clothing business, prosecutions for corruption, must be overdue!

    No wonder Trump keeps trying to generate smokescreens of confusion!

  13. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39262158

    Unsubstantiated claims by US President Donald Trump that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama were not meant literally,
    the White House press secretary says.

    Ah! As with earlier Trump campaign unevidenced assertions, when lies are called out, they suddenly become “metaphorical” and not “literal”!

    Sean Spicer said Mr Trump had broadly meant “surveillance and other activities” when he made the allegation in a tweet earlier this month.

    He also suggested the president was not accusing his predecessor specifically.

    Those delusional “reinterpretation blinkers” and double-talk, can work wonders on the self-deluding faithful followers of posturing pseudo-heroes!

    Meanwhile, the justice department has asked for more time to provide information about the allegations.

    More time need to rummage around – trying to find or concoct something while the sheeples forget the original text!!!?

    A congressional committee had set a Monday deadline for the department to provide any evidence of President Trump’s claims
    but a spokeswoman said it needed “additional time…
    to determine what if any responsive documents may exist”.

    Fancy expecting Trump and Co. to look at evidence up-front BEFORE making public statements!?
    Next people will be expecting them to use reason and evidence to give honest answers – Clearly a bridge too far for Trumpery!

    The House Intelligence Committee said it would give the department until 20 March to comply with its request.

    So let’s see what they come up with? – Any bets against a withdrawal of lies and an apology from this lot!!?

  14. I’m beginning to wonder if Trump is just off his meds…

    Incidentally. Watched the Al Jazeera documentary the Occupation of the American Mind. Its online. I thoroughly recommend it as a chilling example of a vested interest hijacking the national narrative of this or that contentious issue. Whilst it could itself have benefited from a little more balance, its presented facts speak for themselves.

  15. If only there were meds that could actually fix what ails Trump. Even a meds cocktail…but no. Instead, let’s take the red pill and hand it out freely to others.

  16. Phil #15

    Whilst it could itself have benefited from a little more balance

    They were doing so well. Still, pays to keep on your toes when listening to the news anywhere.

  17. @OP – What Can Be Gleaned From Trump’s Allegations of Wiretapping

    I think we can conclude that Trump makes knee-jerk wild allegations without any basis or substance, has his minions fumble around trying to make them sound credible, fails to withdraw or correct the false claims, makes no apologies for his false sensationalist allegations, and is simply a blustering liar with no integrity!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39283054

    US President Donald Trump has stood by his unsubstantiated claim that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower last year.

    He told Fox News a “wiretap covers a lot of different things” and hinted more could emerge in the coming weeks.

    Mr Obama has denied the charge and former spy chiefs and several lawmakers have said they have seen no evidence.

    The latest senior figure to cast doubt on the allegation was the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee.

    Devin Nunes said on Wednesday he doesn’t believe “there was an actual tap of Trump Tower”.

    Earlier this month, Mr Trump tweeted that President Obama had wiretapped his phones during the presidential campaign.

    In a series of tweets, he accused his predecessor directly, asking: “Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president?”

    Talking to Fox News in an interview that was broadcast in full on Wednesday night, the president made his first comments about the wiretap accusation he made two weeks ago.

    He said: “Wiretap covers a lot of different things. I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

    Despite repeated requests from reporters, the White House has not provided any evidence to support the president’s claim.

    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said Mr Trump “used the word ‘wiretap’ in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities”.

    And he was not accusing Mr Obama personally, Mr Spicer said.

    Mr Trump asked Congress to examine the allegation as part of an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in last year’s election.

  18. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39297439

    Senate intelligence panel rejects Trump wiretap claim

    There are “no indications” that Trump Tower was under surveillance by the US government before or after the election, a Senate committee has said.

    The statement from Republican Senator Richard Burr, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, dismissed Donald Trump’s claim his phones were tapped.

    Mr Trump had accused his predecessor Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the presidential race.

    But White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Mr Trump maintains his claims.

    “He stands by it,” Mr Spicer said at a daily news briefing on Thursday.

    The press secretary also refused to accept the Senate Intelligence Committee report, saying “they’re not findings”.

    Mr Burr joins a cadre of Republican lawmakers who have rejected the allegation.

    “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016” Mr Burr said in a joint statement with Senator Mark Warner, the committee’s vice-chairman.

    Earlier on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan also said “no such wiretap existed”.

    Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee Devin Nunes said on Wednesday he doesn’t believe “there was an actual tap of Trump Tower”.

    But that has not deterred Mr Trump, who on Wednesday told Fox News a “wiretap covers a lot of different things”.

    He also hinted that more details about the alleged surveillance could be revealed in the coming weeks.

    “Wiretap covers a lot of different things. I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks,” he said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday night.

    No evidence of wiretapping, according to:

    former President Barack Obama
    FBI Director James Comey
    ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
    ex-CIA Director John Brennan
    Republican chairman of House intelligence committee, Devin Nunes
    Republican John McCain,
    who chairs Senate Committee on Armed Services
    House Speaker Paul Ryan
    Former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough

    The White House has yet to provide any evidence of the president’s claims, and instead has asked Congress to examine the allegation as part of a wider investigation into alleged Russian interference in last year’s election.

    That Russian interference issue just won’t stay hidden behind Trump’s bluster and distractions, despite his denials!
    Unsurprisingly Russia also denies the Yahoo hack involvement – after the US charges two FSB officers over a ‘state-sponsored’ cyber attack!

  19. I see that Trump’s clown-squad and Faux’s fake news service, are trying to do more damage covering-up for their buffoon’s blunders!

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/16/gchq-denies-wiretap-claim-trump-obama

    GCHQ dismisses ‘utterly ridiculous’ claim it helped wiretap Trump

    British intelligence officials have denied an allegation that the UK helped former president Barack Obama “wiretap” Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

    The claim was repeated by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, on Thursday and dismissed as “utterly ridiculous” by a GCHQ spokesperson.

    The spokesperson added in a statement: “Recent allegations made by media commentator judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

    This week, Napolitano, Fox News judicial analyst, claimed during an interview on the network that three intelligence sources confirmed to him that the Obama administration used GCHQ to spy on Trump so that there would be “no American fingerprints on this”.

    Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, quoted Napolitano’s allegation in an effort to validate Trump’s unfounded claim that Obama tapped his phones last year.

    British and American intelligence agencies cooperate closely. Along with their counterparts from Australia, New Zealand and Canada, they are members of the Five Eyes, which all work together on intelligence.

    According to documents released by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, British officials allowed their US counterparts to store and analyse British citizens’ internet and email records. And Snowden also revealed that America’s National Security Agency paid £100m to GCHQ in secret.

    Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats – the junior partner in the last British coalition government – said Trump was “compromising the vital UK-US security relationship to try to cover his own embarrassment”.

    Trump started the political firestorm in a series of tweets in early March, when he accused Obama of tapping his phones and called his predecessor a “bad (or sick) guy”. US officials called the allegation groundless.

    “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.
    Nothing found.
    This is McCarthyism!” Trump tweeted on 4 March.

    The president finds himself increasingly alone in his defence of his wiretapping claims. On Thursday, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate intelligence committee joined their counterparts on the House intelligence committee in the conclusion that they had seen no evidence to support the president’s accusation.

    During the briefing, Spicer said Trump “stands by it” and emphasised, as he has attempted to do in recent days, that the president was referring broadly to wiretapping as a range of surveillance-related activities. Trump made a similar argument in a Wednesday night interview on Fox News, telling the interview host, Tucker Carlson, that the word wiretap “covers surveillance and many other things”.

    He also told Carlson that the administration would submit evidence of his claim to the House intelligence panel “very soon”, adding: “You’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

    In the same interview, he wrongly cited a New York Times report in January about intercepted communications and financial records concerning Trump associates and Russian officials as supporting his claim.
    Asked why he had not relied on US intelligence for a claim with extraordinary legal implications,

    Trump offered a quixotic reply:
    “Because I don’t want to do anything that’s going to violate any strength of an agency.”

    GCHQ usually declines to comment on any sort of speculation, for security reasons, but it seems that Trump’s buffoonery is so grossly unprofessional, so potentially damaging to intelligence gathering, and so damaging to UK-US intelligence co-operation, that a denial is required!

    There seems to be no limit to the unprofessional conduct and stupidity of this confrontation-seeking, bull-in-a-china-shop administration!

  20. I see that the White House has now said it won’t repeat this nonsense about GCHQ, but in Trump fashion, has not withdrawn the allegations or apologised!

    Trump just uncritically parrots any speculative false nonsense made up by Dimbart or Faux, which appeals to his cognitive biases!
    Apparently he has no objective critical thinking skills whatsoever, and has no concept of leaders representing organisations, thinking about consequences that require them to make honest responsible statements, rather than recklessly blabbering speculative gossip!

  21. I wonder what serious world leaders like Angela Merkel can possibly make of Trump. I mean we must know they all think he’s bat shit crazy. He’s now just told her that they share getting wiretapped in common after everyone and his dog has refuted that this ever happened to him.

  22. Arkrid

    they share getting wiretapped in common

    Did you see the look she gave him when he said that?

    Translation of the look: Bizarre mental case.

    Come to think of it, that’s the same look she gave Bush when he mauled her at that state dinner years ago.

  23. Arkrid Sandwich #23
    Mar 17, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    He’s now just told her that they share getting wiretapped in common after everyone and his dog has refuted that this ever happened to him.

    Perhaps he has been up to so many shady deals and activities, that he is obsessed with the possibility that someone is going to produce an audio or video record of what he has secretly been up to!

    Of course it does seem likely that Angela Merkel’s phone was actually tapped!

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/04/germany-inquiry-nsa-tapping-angela-merkel-phone

    Germany’s federal prosecutor has defied public expectations by opening an investigation into the alleged tapping of Angela Merkel’s mobile phone by the US’s National Security Agency (NSA).

    Federal prosecutor Harald Range announced on Wednesday: “I informed parliament’s legal affairs committee that I have started a preliminary investigation over tapping of a mobile phone of the chancellor.”

    Merkel had complained to Barack Obama in person about the alleged tapping of her phone last October, but the federal court’s investigation, which will be against unnamed persons, would constitute the first formal response to the affair. The German government has reportedly announced its support for the investigation.

  24. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39310075

    Donald Trump has said he did not “make an opinion” over claims the UK’s GCHQ spy agency carried out wiretapping on him during the US election campaign.

    Speaking at a press conference in Washington, Mr Trump said the White House had quoted a legal commentator who appeared on US TV channel Fox News.

    GCHQ rejected allegations made by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, that it spied on Mr Trump, as “nonsense”.

    Mr Trump was asked by a German reporter after the president’s meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel about British involvement in the wiretapping claims, which the White House has provided no evidence for.

    “We said nothing, all we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on TV,” said President Trump.

    “I didn’t make opinion on it, that was statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox [News]”, he added, saying that reporters “shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox”.

    Is he really so dim that that he does not understand that lending White House “authority” to unevidenced “Fox-gossip”, is irresponsible and unprofessional, or is he just being dishonest once more?

    Heaping praise on the clown who made the unevidenced allegations, and seeking to dodge responsiblity for his staff, rather than offering an apology for the loud-mouthed empty headed White House press secretary Sean Spicer repeating them, illustrates his lack of any integrity or leadership competence!

    The allegations of GCHQ involvement were initially made by former judge Andrew Napolitano on US TV channel Fox News.

    He said “intelligence sources” had said “President Obama went outside the chain of command”.

    Mr Napolitano added: “[Mr Obama] didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the Department of Justice, he used GCHQ.

    “What the heck is GCHQ?
    That’s the initials for the British spying agency.”

    The claim was later repeated by White House press secretary Mr Spicer but dismissed by GCHQ as “utterly ridiculous”.

    Former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said US promises not to repeat the allegation were inadequate.

    “That’s not the same as saying it was rubbish in the first place,”
    he told the BBC.

    Mr Trump and his allies have yet to prove that his phone was tapped by Mr Obama during the presidential race.

    A Senate committee on Thursday concluded that there were “no indications” Trump Tower was under surveillance by the US government before or after the election.

    One would have thought that Andrew Napolitano should have been hauled before investigators or a Senate committee, and required to name his sources or with draw his comments!

    Once again the sheer amateurish incompetence of Trump’s administration and leadership, is on display to the world!

  25. LaurieB #24
    Mar 17, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Arkrid

    they share getting wiretapped in common

    Did you see the look she gave him when he said that?

    Translation of the look: Bizarre mental case.

    Come to think of it, that’s the same look she gave Bush when he mauled her at that state dinner years ago.

    Priceless wasn’t it? The clip is on CNN. It must be awful for leaders like her having to even be in the same room as him because the needs of diplomacy require it when they know full well he’s a mental case who turns everything he touches to shit. I couldn’t do it. When I despise someone I can’t even look at them never mind speak to them or interact with them. I clearly do not have diplomatic genes in me. If I were the British PM I’d go on tv and tell the world that Trump is deranged and we’ll think about talking to the USA again in four years time when they have a sane person in the White House. Until then they can fuck off. He doesn’t come over here and we don’t visit there.

    Very slightly edited by moderator

  26. May seems to actually like him. Merkel doesn’t. Speaking of body language, the dignified Japanese Prime Minister looked very uncomfortable after Trump shook his hand extremely vigorously for about 45 seconds, at least.

    I don’t think it’s about Trump being mentally ill or stupid. He may be both of those things; I’m quite sure he has a personality disorder, or two or three; he might even be psychotic; but I strongly suspect that the tweets, the unfounded claims, the bizarre behavior, is, to a large extent, strategic. It is, I think, designed (permitted, encouraged) by that self-proclaimed revolutionary Bannon – and other tacticians who are skilled in the art of propaganda and manipulation – to desensitize the public, to divert, to confuse – and to please their infernal base. Diversion, as you know, has been a tactic employed by our previous neoconservative administrations for years.

    Fake News. It started out as real fake (really fake) news from Russia and now it’s fake real (really real) news. Who knows the difference? Some of us do, and some of us don’t, and many of us don’t care. Who wants to work that hard?

    Trump’s tweet about Obama is absolutely an impeachable offense; but everyone’s just saying: that’s just Trump being Trump. That is where the strategy comes in. That is the desired effect: confusion, distraction and desensitization, as I said before.

    Moynihan wrote an article called “defining decency down” in 1982, I think. Here’s a phrase from an article about that article; it’s referring to something else, and far more trivial, but the words apply:

    “In those innocent days of not so long ago, this was considered flagrantly shameless behavior, the kind of moral breakdown that Sen. Daniel Moynihan denounced when he wrote his famous article. . .”

    Some of this is not by design. The press conference, for example, was Trump just being himself. But he was given the go-ahead, I’m sure. . . I wonder when and where all this will end.

  27. Arkrid Sandwich #27
    Mar 18, 2017 at 4:56 am

    Priceless wasn’t it? The clip is on CNN. It must be awful for leaders like her having to even be in the same room as him because the needs of diplomacy require it when they know full well he’s a mental case who turns everything he touches to shit.

    I only saw bits of the Trump-Merkel press interviews, but what was patently obvious, was that Trump does not even understand the normal definitions of the words he uses!
    He invents his own twisted meanings and then abuses critics who actually understand the meanings of those terms, and the subjects of which he is profoundly ignorant, but he is totally confident in his “superior” understanding!

    With his threats of tariffs on imports and Trump’s decision not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) plus his jepodising of the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) , his denial of being an “isolationist” was comical, along with his claims to believe in (America first?) “free-trade”, which he said had to be (US deficit reducing tariffs) creating “fair trade”. – Pure Trumponomics!!!
    He clearly has NO IDEA what free-trade, OR fair-trade are!

    http://wfto.com/fair-trade/definition-fair-trade

    “Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.

    Fair Trade organisations have a clear commitment to Fair Trade as the principal core of their mission.
    They, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.” They can be recognised by the WFTO logo.

    Fair Trade is more than just trading:

    It proves that greater justice in world trade is possible.

    It highlights the need for change in the rules and practice of
    conventional trade and shows how a successful business
    can also put people first.

    It is a tangible contribution to the fight against
    poverty, climate change and economic crisis.

    It is clear that Trump’s definition of “fair-trade” is – Trump and fat-cat American pals first, – sod everyone and everything else!

    If I were the British PM I’d go on tv and tell the world that Trump is a deranged cunt and we’ll think about talking to the USA again in four years time when they have a sane person in the White House.

    Unfortunately Teresa May is leading the charge of the barmy brexiteers, who desperately want those (from whom they have hidden the expected consequences of brexit), to believe she can negotiate vast numbers of “wonderful superior trade agreements” with countries outside Europe!

    Trump makes a Europhobic ideologist’s dream fantasist supporter, with a large US economy and blabbering praise of those who tell him what he likes to hear. He is also looking for credibility as an international negotiator, as a media image, but combined with loony policies which don’t actually work in the real world, and his zero diplomatic skills!

  28. Arkrid Sandwich #27
    Mar 18, 2017 at 4:56 am

    It must be awful for leaders like her having to even be in the same room as him because the needs of diplomacy require it when they know full well he’s a mental case who turns everything he touches to shit.

    His other comical but threatening claim, was the urgent need for the US to increase “defence” spending at the expense of other services, in a competitive world where the US is falling behind (allegedly)!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures#List

    Ooooh! and that “terribly massive military build-up in North Korea” which seems hard to find in world rankings – although South Korea features! !

  29. Sorry, Arkrid – it was only meant to be a temporary setting-aside until we had had chance to edit out the one word that really triggers us every time. Then we got distracted and forgot! Will do it now and restore!

  30. A4d

    Trump’s claim that the US is in dire need of increased military build up fits in perfectly with his base. They are fear based operators who fear the furiners that are beating down the doors so they can come swarming in.

    The North Korea “threat” is getting serious airtime here (US) right now. I suspect that the military hawks can’t wait for an opportunity to bomb the shit out of them. It’s one thing to eliminate the odious fearless leader there but what happens after that? Typical of that crowd to strike first and think later.

  31. LaurieB #34
    Mar 18, 2017 at 10:58 am

    The North Korea “threat” is getting serious airtime here (US) right now. I suspect that the military hawks can’t wait for an opportunity to bomb the shit out of them.

    This is supposed to encourage them to give up their weapons of retaliation while forces build up on their borders?

    I think we know how that worked out for Saddam Hussein and Iraq!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-39313654

    China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has urged the US to remain “cool-headed” over North Korean tensions.

    The situation was at a “crossroads”, but must not be allowed to develop into a conflict, he said after hosting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

    Mr Tillerson spoke of “dangerous levels” of tension, a day after suggesting the US might launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.

    North Korea is working to develop nuclear missiles that can reach the US.

    Last week, it launched four ballistic missiles – defying United Nations resolutions.

    Mr Tillerson is in Beijing in the final leg of his East Asia tour, which has been dominated by anxieties over North Korea.

    In South Korea on Friday, he said a US military response would be on the table if North Korea threatened South Korea or US forces.

    Mr Wang defended the Chinese position, saying all parties were duty-bound to implement UN sanctions against Pyongyang, but also to seek dialogue and diplomatic solutions.

    “We hope that all parties, including our friends from the United States, could size up the situation in a cool-headed and comprehensive fashion and arrive at a wise decision,” Mr Wang said.

    The US has deployed its Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (Thaad) in South Korea in a move it says is designed to protect against threats from North Korea.

    But China has claimed the system goes “far beyond” the defence needs of the Korean peninsula.

    Mr Tillerson, a former oil executive with no prior diplomatic experience, will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday.

  32. “We hope that all parties, including our friends from the United States, could size up the situation in a cool-headed and comprehensive fashion and arrive at a wise decision,” Mr Wang said.

    Oh christ, that’s it, we’re screwed then.

  33. Further to #29

    @#29 – With his threats of tariffs on imports and Trump’s decision not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) plus his jepodising of the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) , his denial of being an “isolationist” was comical, along with his claims to believe in (America first?) “free-trade”, which he said had to be (US deficit reducing tariffs) creating “fair trade”. – Pure Trumponomics!!!
    He clearly has NO IDEA what free-trade, OR fair-trade are!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39315098

    Finance ministers from world’s biggest economies have dropped an anti-protectionist commitment after opposition from the US.

    G20 ministers left the two-day meeting without renewing their long-standing pledge to bolster free trade.

    Last year, the group of the world’s 20 largest economies vowed to “resist all forms of protectionism”.

    But since then, President Donald Trump has taken office, and is aggressively pursuing an “America First” policy.

    His policies includes penalties for companies which manufacture their products abroad.

    Speaking after the meeting ended, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he would not read too much into his country’s desire to change the language behind the comminique, as “what was as in the past” releases was “not relevant”.

    Mr Mnuchin added he had been “very clear that we do believe in free trade but we believe in balanced trade”.

    So Trump’s claim that “America-first free trade” is “fair-trade” now is being presented as “free-trade” but America-first “balanced trade”!

    No wonder Trump needs to recruit YEC fundamentalists and AGW deniers, who can talk the compartmentalised, self-contradictory, Trump-speak, double-talk, with a straight face!

    The communique, which was published at the end of the meeting in Baden-Baden with the agreement of all attending delegates, also failed to include a vow on climate change.

    Mr Trump has already promised to slash environmental funding.

    The exclusion of the two issues in the communique was disappointing,
    French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said.

    “I regret that our discussions today were unable to reach a satisfying conclusion on two absolutely essential priorities that our world and which France would have liked to see the G20 continue to take firm and concerted action on.”

    But two days later, the communique approved by all the assembled finance ministers was published without a commitment to bolster free trade and dropped a pledge to “resist all forms of protectionism” from the previous year’s document.

    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said the meeting had reached an impasse when it came to the issue, and added that his counterparts could not “force partners” – read the United States – “to go along with wording with which they don’t agree”.

  34. Mr Comey and the FBI it seems, will follow the facts wherever they lead, where as Trump and Co. will make up their own “alternative facts” and shout them out over the media and Twitter, before the investigations have collected all the evidence and reached conclusions!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39324587

    FBI director James Comey has confirmed for the first time that the FBI is investigating alleged Russian government interference in the 2016 election.

    That includes possible links between individuals in the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was co-ordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, he said.

    The FBI would also assess whether crimes were committed, he said.

    Mr Trump has denied any collusion.

    “There is no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion and there is no evidence of a Trump-Russia scandal,” a senior White House official said in a statement.

    Russia has always denied attempting to influence the US presidential election.

    The FBI director was speaking at a rare open hearing of the congressional intelligence committee, which is also investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    Mr Comey said the investigation was “very complex” and said he could not give the committee details that were not already publicly known.

    He also said he could not give a timetable for its completion.

    “We will follow the facts wherever they lead,” he said.

    Also testifying before the committee is National Security Agency (NSA) chief Admiral Mike Rogers.

    He said the NSA stood by an intelligence community report published in January, which said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a campaign to harm the campaign of Mr Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.

    What FBI Director James Comey didn’t say during intelligence hearings today on possible Russian meddling in the 2016 US election was as important as what he did say.

    Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who had ties to pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians? No comment.
    Long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone, who reportedly had communications with individuals who hacked the Democratic National Committee emails? No comment.
    Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign after leaked evidence surfaced that he had communicated with a Russian ambassador about US sanctions? No comment.

    “I don’t want to answer any questions about a US person,” Mr Comey said.

    All of this is evidence that the investigation isn’t just ongoing, it’s substantive and far-reaching.

    However, Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat, said the material he had seen offers circumstantial evidence that US citizens collaborated with Russians to influence the vote.

    If the Trump campaign was found to have colluded with Russia it would be “the most shocking betrayal of democracy in history”, Mr Schifff told the committee.

    Which campaign members have been accused of deception?

    Two senior officials in the Trump administration have been caught up in the allegations – former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Attorney-General Jeff Sessions.

    Mr Flynn was fired last month after he misled the White House about his conversations with the Russian ambassador before he was appointed national security adviser.

    He allegedly discussed US sanctions with ambassador Sergei Kislyak. It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy.

    Meanwhile, Mr Sessions was accused by Democrats of lying under oath during his confirmation hearing in January.

    He said he had “no communications with the Russians”, but it later emerged that he had met Mr Kislyak during the campaign.

  35. Comey said that he is not aware of any evidence to support the claim of wiretapping. That doublespeaking schmuck Spicer then told reporters that the FBI doesn’t have any facts “yet.” That’s true. But it’s also a lie.

  36. Dan #40
    Mar 20, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Comey said that he is not aware of any evidence to support the claim of wiretapping.

    It has been clearly explained why individuals – not even presidents can act unilaterally to have agencies conduct those sorts of activities. Trump is still digging himself into a hole, and hoping to bluster his way out of it!

    That doublespeaking schmuck Spicer then told reporters that the FBI doesn’t have any facts “yet.”

    Actually they do have some facts, which is why Michael Flynn was sacked, and why Jeff Sessions stood aside!

    Perhaps Spicer is asserting his wish-thinking HOPING that they don’t have any facts, and HOPING that no more facts will turn up during the investigations!

    I think many of the reporters have got the measure of these clowns, and report their lies to expose them as liars!

  37. It seems that the evidence of the extent of the “Russian problem” and Trump’s “deal-makers”, just won’t go away, – and keep surfacing despite all the Trump efforts at sidetracking distractions!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39348265

    Further allegations have been made in Ukraine about secret funds said to have been paid to Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

    Lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko said he had evidence that Mr Manafort had tried to hide a payment of $750,000 (£600,800) from a pro-Russian party in 2009.

    Mr Manafort was an adviser to Ukraine’s pro-Russian ex-President Viktor Yanukovych.

    He denies receiving payments, and his spokesman called the claim “baseless”.

    What are the basis of the latest claims?

    Mr Leshchenko said the documents were signed by Mr Manafort and were found in his former office in Ukraine by its new tenant, along with other papers.

    The documents showed a $750,000 payment for 501 computers to a company called David Manafort, from a Belize-registered offshore company, through a bank in Kyrgyzstan.

    Mr Leshchenko alleges the invoice was cover for payments made to Mr Manafort for work he did for the pro-Russian Party of the Regions, which backed Mr Yanukovych.

    “This is quite a typical scheme to hide the nature of money using jurisdictions like Kyrgyzstan, because it’s in the middle of nowhere (and) it’s almost impossible to investigate there,” he said.

    “I think it was an international fraud scheme and my sources in the Party of Regions say Kyrgyzstan was regularly used as a jurisdiction for money-laundering.”

    What is Mr Manafort’s response?

    It is important to note that the documents have not been independently verified.

    Mr Manafort’s spokesman Jason Maloni said the documents could be forged, suggesting the letterhead and signature did not match, tthe Washington Post quotes him as saying.

    He described the allegations as “baseless”, saying they should be “summarily dismissed”.

    How is Paul Manafort connected to the US president?

    Mr Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016, and helped to secure the president’s nomination for the race.
    He was promoted to campaign chairperson in June.

    But he was forced out in August 2016, when reports emerged that the Ukrainian government had uncovered ledgers pledging more than $12m (£9.2m) in undisclosed cash payments for his work with Mr Yanukovych.

    He was replaced by the combination of Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway – both now senior White House staff.

    The BBC’s Jane O’Brien said at the time that Mr Manafort had been removed mainly due to the campaign’s poor performance, rather than the “distraction” of the Ukraine allegations.

    He is now under scrutiny for possible contacts with Russia during the US presidential campaign.

  38. There is more coming out about Manafort, who seems to have been involved internationally with various dubious business activities.
    Given Trump’s apparent lack of any comprehension of the need to address conflicts of interest, it perhaps unsurprising that he became part of the motley crew claimed to be “the best team ever”!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39350007

    US President Donald Trump’s one-time campaign chairman secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to assist President Vladimir Putin, the Associated Press (AP) news agency reports.

    Paul Manafort is said to have proposed a strategy to nullify anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics a decade ago.

    AP says documents and interviews support its claims about Mr Manafort.

    Mr Manafort has insisted that he never worked for Russian interests.

    He worked as Mr Trump’s unpaid campaign chairman from March until August last year, including the period during which the flamboyant New York billionaire clinched the Republican nomination.

    He resigned after AP revealed that he had co-ordinated a secret Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine’s ruling pro-Russian political party until 2014.

    Newly obtained business records link Mr Manafort more directly to Mr Putin’s interests in the region, AP says.

    It comes as Trump campaign advisers are the subject of an FBI investigation and two congressional inquiries.

    Investigators are reviewing whether the Trump campaign and its associates co-ordinated with Moscow to interfere in the 2016 presidential election campaign to damage Mr Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, a stern critic of Mr Putin.

    Mr Manafort is said to have pitched the plans to aluminium magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Putin.

    In a confidential strategy plan in 2005, AP reports, Mr Manafort proposed to influence politics, business dealings and news coverage in the US, Europe and the ex-Soviet republics to advance the interests of the Putin government.

    At this time, US-Russia relations were deteriorating.

    “We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Mr Manafort is said to have written, adding that it would be offering “a great service that can refocus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government”.

    Mr Manafort signed a $10m-a-year contract beginning in 2006, AP reports. How much work he did under this contract was unclear.

    Mr Manafort and Mr Deripaska reportedly maintained a business relationship until at least 2009.

    When Donald Trump picked Paul Manafort to be his campaign chair last March, the political operative was a relatively minor player in Washington, consigned to working for deep-pocketed foreign benefactors. That those benefactors have turned out to include Russian oligarchs and Ukrainian politicians with ties to Vladimir Putin is sure to cause growing concern in the Trump White House.

    Now it appears increasingly likely that Mr Manafort is one of the “individuals associated with the Trump campaign”, in Director James Comey’s words, at the heart of an ongoing FBI investigation.

    Mr Manafort could face legal consequences if the FBI concludes that he did not properly disclose his work for foreign leaders. That would at the very least prove embarrassing for Mr Trump, given the power he delegated to Mr Manafort last summer.

    If it turns out that Mr Manafort’s contacts with foreign interests continued during his time at the top of the Trump campaign, the situation for the White House could go from embarrassing to full-blown scandal.

    In a statement to AP, Mr Manafort confirmed that he had worked for Mr Deripaska in several countries but insisted the work was being unfairly cast as “inappropriate or nefarious” as part of a “smear campaign”.

  39. No wonder Spicer LIED and said that Manafort was only with Trump for a short time and was a minor player. He was with him considerably longer than Spicer said. (Thou doth protest too much.) And he was intimately involved with everything, was in charge of everything, was a key figure, the key figure in the Trump campaign – for months! That guy Spicer irritates the hell out of me, lying all the time. I’ve never seen anything like it, although other press secretaries (like the one that worked for Bush Jr and now works for Fox) have been pretty awful too, but not nearly as bad. And there’s never been anyone as ubiquitous in American political life, that I can recall, who is at the same as overtly sinister and shameless as Ms. Conway. If she were defending a criminal in court that’s one thing.— But she’s defending our….I hate to say it….our …er, president.

    Trump is a liar, liar, liar! And his healthcare plan sucks, and everything about this two-bit, uncouth con artist sucks. But the Republicans like him because he’s against everything good and for everything bad – like the unfettered “free” market, deregulation, denying science vis-à-vis the environment, religious freedom, military spending (for profit), more wars, privatization, voter suppression, the primacy of corporate profits, etc.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/03/republicans_don_t_want_to_find_out_what_happened_with_russia.html

    In the five-hour hearing, not one Republican asked a question to elicit information about what Trump or his associates might have done. Instead, they hurled every imaginable defense—and attack—at the FBI’s investigation. While the Democrats acted like prosecutors, the committee’s Republicans became defense attorneys for Trump, Michael Flynn, the GOP, and Russia

  40. Perhaps the Republican allegations accusing others of lying, spreading false news, and fraud, stem from their own cynical and hypocritical attitude to opportunism and dishonesty!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39355015

    The former Colorado Republican party chairman, who once said only Democrats commit voter fraud, has appeared in court accused of the same offence.

    Steven Curtis, 57, allegedly posted his ex-wife’s absentee ballot for last year’s presidential election after it had been sent to his house.

    Mr Curtis, who served as party chairman from 1997-99, faces up to three years in jail if convicted.

    His ex-wife, who left him after nine months, said she is furious.

    The accused, a radio host, has railed against alleged voter fraud on his show, Wake Up With Steve Curtis.

    He told listeners about five months ago: “It seems to be, and correct me if I’m wrong here, but virtually every case of voter fraud I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats.”

    His ex-wife, Kelly Curtis, told KDVR-TV, a Fox affiliate: “I was livid over the whole situation, definitely.”

    She only discovered her ballot had been used when she called election authorities to inquire about how she can vote, considering that she was registered in Colorado but had just moved to South Carolina.

    An election worker told her she had already voted.

  41. CNN is now reporting there is actual evidence of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians to release material damaging to Hillary.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/22/politics/us-officials-info-suggests-trump-associates-may-have-coordinated-with-russians/index.html

    The White House denials are getting more and more insane. Spicer trying to claim Paul Manafort played very little part in the campaign despite being its manager for 6 months and that in any case no one knew anything about his alleged dealings with Russians. Conway’s hysterical shrieking last year that Hillary even allegedly just being under investigation made her unfit for the White House looks pretty ludicrous now that Trump actually is under investigation and is clearly as guilty as sin.

    Hopefully very soon Trump’s on camera plea to the Russians to release Hillary’s emails if they can get them is going to come back to haunt him but he always was too stupid to keep his big mouth shut.

    Some astonishing speculations are now being made. Perhaps Trump could try issuing a presidential pardon to everyone in his campaign in advance of any charges for anything that might possibly be contained in any of those potential charges. In fact the law is unclear on whether he could actually pardon himself as it doesn’t seem to be explicitly prohibited. I have no doubt he’ll do whatever it takes to try and keep himself out of prison because as a sociopath he has no morals, no guilt, no remorse, no normal human emotions. However his presidency will be utterly bankrupt almost regardless of outcome. Pence must be trying to hide the biggest boner in vice presidential history. He’s almost clean in all this, he’s staying as far under the radar as humanly possible and he could very well have come from nowhere to the presidency in a year’s time if all goes his way.

  42. This would seem to make a strong case for an independent investigation led by a judge!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39372607

    The chairman of the House intelligence committee has apologised for not informing Democratic colleagues before going public with allegations about surveillance of Donald Trump’s team.

    Devin Nunes apologised privately and vowed to work with them on the issue, a committee aide said.

    Democrats were furious that Mr Nunes went straight to the White House.

    They questioned whether the panel’s inquiry into Russia’s alleged role in the election can proceed objectively.

    On Wednesday, Mr Nunes said he had been passed information showing that the post-election communications of President Donald Trump’s team had been swept up in an “incidental collection” by intelligence agencies.

    The California Republican stressed the allegation did not back Mr Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama ordered Trump Tower wiretapped before last November’s vote.

    However, when Mr Trump was asked if he now felt vindicated for his accusations against his predecessor, he answered: “I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found.”

    The US intelligence agencies regularly, and legally, monitor foreigners, and the communication of Americans is often incidentally collected. They are not usually named but can be if the context of the intelligence requires it.

    Mr Nunes said the material he had seen “bothered” him and that the unmasking of individuals, and the content of some of the material gathered, was “inappropriate”.

    Of his decision to go public and brief Mr Trump, Mr Nunes said: “It was a judgment call on my part.

    “Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the wrong decision.”

    A Republican intelligence committee aide told Reuters: “He apologised to the minority on the committee for going public and to the [White House] with his announcement before sharing the information with the minority. He pledged to work with them on this issue.”

    Mr Nunes had also stressed that the information in the intercepts he had seen was not linked to an FBI investigation into alleged links between the Trump team and Russian officials during the election campaign.

    However, Democrats said Mr Nunes’ actions could scupper the House panel’s investigation.

    Democrat Jackie Speier, who serves on the committee, said: “I think over the next few days we are going to assess whether or not we feel confident that [Mr Nunes] can continue in that role.”

    Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, said: “A credible investigation cannot be conducted this way.”

    Mr Nunes has refused to reveal who passed him the information.

    When asked whether it was the White House itself, he said he was “not going to ever reveal sources”.

    White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: “I don’t know why he would come up to the president to brief him on something we had briefed him on.”

    Mr Nunes’ disclosure came two days after FBI Director James Comey confirmed the organisation was investigating alleged links between the Trump team and Russian officials.

    Mr Schiff on Wednesday told MSNBC he believed there was evidence “that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of an investigation” about the links.

    Chairs of investigating committees, really should know the protocols of who should be consulted and informed first, and how to guard against confidential material leaking back to those being investigated!

  43. Nunes’ behaviour has been a disgrace but then so was Comey’s announcing Hillary was being investigated just before the election and nearly every Republican in the House Intelligence committee is trying to deflect attention onto the source of leaks rather than the content of them. There is precious little honesty in Republican ranks and partisanship trumps (sic) everything else. Spicer sickens me as does Conway of course. Vile people both.

    Trump’s approval rating down to 37% now but he still gives an interview with Time braying how brilliant he is. That his “intuition” is always right which is why he doesn’t need actual facts and in any case “I’m the president and you aren’t”.

    I don’t think there can be many people left in the country who don’t now realise how devastating the new healthcare bill is going to be for them and that Trump lied about everything he ever said about it. The backlash is going to be epic. It’s basically a trillion dollar tax cut for the mega rich paid for out of taking healthcare away from the poor. Couched in weasel words about “giving people more choice” the only choices most people are going to have are do I go bankrupt paying hospital bills or do I just die and at least pass on what savings I have left to my kids.

    The Koch brothers have made it clear they’ll withhold financial support from any republican who dares not to vote for this huge tax cut coming their way. It truly is a country of deplorables.

  44. Beautiful. You’re good, Arkrid.

    But it remains to be seen just how “many” Republican voters realize how bad the health care bill is. In places like Kentucky and other poor red states they are kept in the dark, exploited. I am not sure how that works, but it has worked, and still is, working. If they can be reached, as Sanders said, and are able to, at long last, gain some critical distance and realize how self defeating their perennial loyalty, as it were, to the Republican party is, it would be a major breakthrough. I don’t think it’s even loyalty. They are being kept down, kept in the dark, being deceived. But healthcare just might be the one thing that’ll rouse them – and it already has to some extent – and awaken then from their slumber. With the help of much needed political opposition and intervention in these states, a bona fide political revolution might be in the making.

  45. Dan #49
    Mar 24, 2017 at 3:05 am

    But healthcare just might be the one thing that’ll rouse them – and it already has to some extent – and awaken then from their slumber.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39375123

    Key elements of the new bill:
    Cuts the Medicaid programme for low earners
    Provides tax credits to help people pay medical bills, but reduced compared to Obamacare
    Ends penalties on those who do not buy health coverage
    Allows insurers to raise premiums for older people
    Blocks federal payments to women’s healthcare provider Planned Parenthood for a year

    There is also a graph on the link showing predicted effects!

  46. Sick and disgusting!

    http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=18726

    JAISAL NOOR: Uncertainty looms over House Republican efforts to hold a Thursday evening vote on their Obamacare rollback bill. With the final tally expected to be extremely close. The billionaire right-wing Koch brothers have promised millions to Republicans to oppose the bill, which faces opposition from the right-wing freedom caucus, who want even deeper cuts to public services and Obamacare subsidies. . .

    WILLIAM BARBER: The Trump-Ryan take care away death bill is being pushed through Congress. It is an unmerciful act of meanness.

    JAISAL NOOR: The bill was updated overnight to appease the far right of the Republican Party, which included taking away essential healthcare benefits. Meanwhile a New Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, found Americans opposed this measure by a three to one margin. Meanwhile the non-partisan Center for Budget Priorities says the updates make a bad bill even worse. It would leave many people with pre-existing conditions unable to find the coverage they needed at any price, and could weaken the ACA’s core protections even for people with coverage from large employers, just as the previous versions would have done.

    Total cost increases would be larger for people who have lower incomes, or older, or live in high-cost states. In 15 states, many who are solidly Republican and went to Trump, average costs increases would be even more. They would exceed $4,000. Yet the Trump Administration continues to lobby for the bill.

  47. The Republicans opposed it last night because it doesn’t cut enough! Can you believe that? Whether it passes or not the proposed plan is dreadful.

  48. Breaking news a few minutes ago. Massive fail for Trump as his pathetic healthcare bill fails to get enough votes to pass in the House and the vote gets pulled.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39387550

    Yet another dismal failure for someone who’s screwed up everything he’s ever touched. Loser, so sad.

    This is big though. The public will now see that even Republican congressionals don’t support or believe Trump as he continues to just stream out lies every time he opens his mouth. He promised multiple times on the campaign trail that he would replace Obamacare with something “so great” that would cover everyone in the country, absolutely not take coverage away from a single person no matter how un-republican that might sound, and at “much” lower cost. Then he comes out with this turd that raises costs on everyone except the rich and projects to take coverage away from 24 million people.

    Even his most die hard supporters are going to struggle to rationalise this into their delusional mind state.

  49. This is a tremendous ass-kick to Trump and his supporters. Loser! Sad!

    At this time I’d like to buy the next round of (virtual) drinks. Put it on my tab!

  50. The irony is his uber Confirmation Biased supporters probably think it’s the democrats who sunk this, not the republicans that he couldn’t turn. And they have already set up Ryan as the real “loser” behind the scenes. Drumpf won’t care as much because he doesn’t like Ryan and is having this set up as Ryan’s failure, not his. But yes, the little victories add up. And this is a big ‘little victory’.

  51. The self proclaimed “master deal maker”, is going to have to learn the first rule of political negotiations!

    “No co-operation without consultation”! – . . . and I mean REAL consultation! – Not a contemptuous “take it or leave it” – and rubber-stamp this because I say so! !

    I looks like the people of the USA are going to keep ObamaCare – at least for the present, because Trump and the hard right both through their toys out of the pram rather than compromise!

  52. I wonder where this leaves Trump’s relations with the hard right!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39355574

    . . . . . then on Thursday that he would abandon healthcare reform if they did not pass his bill – leaving them stuck with Obamacare for good.

    At one point he singled out Congressman Mark Meadows, leader of the recalcitrant group of libertarian-leaning conservative congressmen known as the Freedom Caucus, telling him: “I’m going to come after you, but I know I won’t have to, because I know you’ll vote Yes.”

    Press Secretary Sean Spicer would later say that Mr Trump meant that as a joke, but in politics a joke is often a threat delivered with a smile.
    Mr Meadows, by the way, is still a solid No.

    As usual Trump makes silly threatening claims – followed by Spicer pretending they are metaphors or jokes, while the sheeples can choose which version they want to believe, . . . and maybe the person threatened is not sure either, so Trump and Co. can later shuffle and play it either way according to circumstances!

  53. Steven007 #56
    Mar 24, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    The irony is his uber Confirmation Biased supporters probably think it’s the democrats who sunk this, not the republicans that he couldn’t turn. And they have already set up Ryan as the real “loser” behind the scenes.

    That might have been possible at one stage but not now that Trump has spent several days openly trying to force the NO voters to change their minds. Now he owns this and he’s put his self proclaimed reputation as a “great businessman and deal maker” firmly on the line and lost bigly. Here’s the astonishing bit, to me at least though. What Trump has been doing is threatening everyone that if they don’t vote yes he’ll walk away and leave them stuck with Obamacare. This is the negotiating equivalent of saying if you don’t swallow this turd sandwich I’m trying to shove down your throat I’ll make you eat the pizza you already have forever. Well no shit Sherlock but the people actually like the sound of the pizza they already have. This should not come as a surprise to anyone sane. But of course Trump isn’t sane.

    If Trump had kept his mouth shut he could walk this back or point it at Ryan but his ego won’t ever let him keep his mouth shut. He thought he could bully everyone and he’s just found out they aren’t afraid of him. He thought he could lie compulsively forever but he’s been finding out you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. There’s a limit to how many promises you can break before even the most rabid supporters become disenchanted.

    He promised to make America safe. The irony there of course is it already was but it’s a lot less safe now. It’s safe primarily because of its geography (very hard to invade), its security services, its allies and the small matter of having the biggest most expensive military on the planet to defend it. Well so far Trump has pissed off every ally the USA ever had. He slammed the phone down on the Australian PM, claimed the Brits wiretapped him, refused to shake hands with Merkel on camera, said the Mexicans would pay for his bullshit wall and he’d levy import duties on them. He’s insulted, demeaned and abused his own security services calling them Nazis at one point and boasting about himself in front of the wall of the fallen. He’s also seriously offended those who could actually be potential enemies by saying he might come back for their oil and trying to ban travel for people from only muslim countries. At least even Trump can’t affect the USA’s envious geography but he’s fucked up everything else.

    He promised to make Mexico pay for a wall – Fail!
    He promised to ban muslims – Fail! Twice!
    He promised to give everyone healthcare – Lie!
    He promised to repeal Obamacare – Fail!

    Those of us who’ve ever tried to debate a religious fundie know how pointless that is. They are conditioned, brainwashed basically, to reject anything that contradicts their delusion system or is spoken by “the enemy” – the non religious. Well the same applies to rabid Republican voters and Trump supporters. Nothing a Dem can ever say is going to shift them in the slightest. But they can’t ignore when other Republicans also reject Trump. All of Trump’s fails up until now have been blameable on someone else but this one on healthcare is a tipping point. I’m dying to see the next approval ratings which must surely plummet even lower now.

  54. Republican congressionals don’t support or believe Trump.

    I’m glad the bill didn’t pass, but the reason why the Republicans didn’t support it is because they want deeper cuts! And they are being bribed by the Koch brothers. A few of them might have been worried about getting voted out of office too; but it’s definitely both.

    In any case, it’s a victory for our side. The bill was too “left wing” for some Republicans and too “right wing” (unfair) for their constituents. Ha ha ha!

  55. I’m wondering if we’re now hearing the final death rattle of the Republican party. They have to go right back to the 80s and Reagan to talk about anything they can actually be proud of and since then it’s gone downhill bigly. Bush II was an unmittigated disaster with an illegal war in his first term and the collapse of the entire economy and banking system in his second. How they got back into power after eight such great years under Obama is still a matter of profound disbelief for most of us but if they were ever going to elect someone to destroy any future chances of governing then it has to be Trump. A malignant narcissist, pathological liar and rabid sociopath, maybe even full blown psychopath, he’s turned everything he promised into shit within 2 months. That takes some doing. But partisanship trumps everything else so they stuck to this turd throughout the campaign, crowed about his victory, lied for him, made excuses for him, tried to deflect everything he screwed up onto someone else but that can only last for so long. Apparently “so long” is 62 days.

    It’s already impossible to continue claiming that anything he ever said on the campaign trail was true and the press has gradually turned from using words like “untrue” and “unproven” to “lies” and “liar”. The word “insane” is getting more and more use as are “delusional”, “narcissist” and “sociopath”.

    They key point is he isn’t getting take down by Democrats, he’s being destroyed by his own incompetence and mendacity and also mainly by other Republicans including those who actually voted for him. Hundreds of thousands of them constantly calling for town hall meetings with their representatives in both red states and blue, telling them to “do your job” and don’t even think about touching our Obamacare unless you can actually deliver something better, cheaper and that covers even more people.

    The people have spoken and even Republican congressmen can’t ignore the people for ever. When the choice becomes either continue to support the insane orange person or actually retain a chance of getting re-elected it’s a salutory lesson in democracy.

    It’s very probable that 50 million of the 60 million who voted for Trump would still have voted Republican if the candidate had been a rotting corpse or a rabid dog. That’s how partisan Republican politics is since it became “religiously weaponised” in the 1980s. There’s precious little difference between a religious fundamentalist and a Republican fundamentalist. Nothing matters so much as the prospect of losing ones faith. Not policies, not candidates, not campaign promises – simply the impossibility of ever accepting that one could ever vote for the other side. So they forgave his lies, said that god can use bad men to do good work, called it “locker room talk”, tried to pretend they took him seriously but not literally. Just 62 days has proved that everything he said was actually “literally” untrue though. Every word was a lie. The sane amongst us always knew that. But both love and faith are blind apparently and there are none so blind as those with good eyes who just refuse to see.

    It’s not just the lies, the contempt, the childish squabbles with long time allies as he brings crashing down every allegiance built up over decades and centuries. It’s treason by the looks of things. Colluding with an enemy state to influence an election and then putting those who helped him collude into positions of power like Sessions. His arrogance is so total he even called on Russia to help him win on camera thinking that laws which apply to everyone else can’t possibly apply to someone, in his own delusional mind, as godlike as himself.

    So maybe those 50 million will still continue not to see but the other 10 million can’t ignore what’s happening every day in front of them. The 50 million are also mainly old and gradually dying out. Just 4 more years will see a lot of them into the ground and the young who have watched this horror show unfold and will be voting for decades to come will not soon forget it. How can any of those ever trust a Republican again?

    The Founding Fathers tried to implement a system where the cream would rise to the top. Unfortunately in a mega-rich donor monetarised campaign system and a religiously weaponised political party it’s the shit that floats to the surface of the cess pool and Trump was the biggest, most buoyant turd in that pool. He bobbed up to the top of the filth and still they wouldn’t see. Now they are starting to have to.

    I hope Trump ends his days in a deep dark hole without windows or a ray of sunlight or the sight of the open air but I suspect he’ll wriggle out of everything or flee to Russia if it comes to that. If he destroys the Republican party in the process though then I’ll consider it a decent deal.

  56. President Trump announced Friday morning the granting of a permit for construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, calling it “the first of many infrastructure projects” that he would approve in order to put more Americans to work. -Washington Post

    Infuriating!

    We’re going to become extinct. What is with these assholes!!?? This is an impeachable offense. He’s denying science and threatening our very survival as a species. Dirty Canadian oil. Tar sand. More fossil fuel burning. Goddammit!

  57. Arkrid

    They have to go right back to the 80s and Reagan to talk about anything they can actually be proud of

    And even then it marked the start of the Grand Theft Public when the increased value generated by workers through efficiencies were no longer shared with them by their bosses. Since 1980 American productivity has nearly doubled, yet buying power rather flat-topped. In Low Equality USA the US worker works harder than most to feed their bosses, thanks to Reaganomics. They work for 1790 hours a year. High Equality Germany does it with 1371 hours.

    Eisenhower was pretty decent. Teddy Roosevelt?

  58. Teddy Roosevelt went after the monopolies, the “robber barons”. He was a man of superior intellect, also a naturalist and truly pro-worker. They have no right to claim Teddy Roosevelt or Lincoln as their own as they would both be despised by the Republicans today.

    (Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson Willie lived down the road from us. He looked a lot like his grandfather. We had a country house in Massachusetts a while back. Willie lost his sons – one after the other. A lot of tragedy.)

  59. Yep, Dan.

    There are some people, two in that family, that can stand an intimate examination like Ken Burns’ fabulous documentary series, The Roosevelts. The warts and human failings and muddle only make their actual achievements the more admirable.

  60. Arkrid Sandwich #61
    Mar 24, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    It’s already impossible to continue claiming that anything he ever said on the campaign trail was true and the press has gradually turned from using words like “untrue” and “unproven” to “lies” and “liar”. The word “insane” is getting more and more use as are “delusional”, “narcissist” and “sociopath”.

    That’s the thing about pseudoscience and lying propaganda – when attempts are made to apply it in the real world, it falls apart!

    The mainstream media are getting the measure of Trump, Kellyanne CONway, and Spicer, – and listing Pinocchio awards for their claims!

    Obamacare has the benefit of being up and running, so regardless of any lies put about by Trumpies, or the hard right, the people are going to know and discuss in families, which of their friends and relatives are going to lose their healthcare, suffer exclusions for existing maladies, or face increased costs under the repeal proposals!

    An arrest for failures of disclosure during security checks, spying, treason, or corruption, would cap it!

  61. It looks like Trump plans to move on to making the tax system more inequitable after his pathetic attempts to claim Obamacare is a “disaster” in need of repeal!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39388815

    US President Donald Trump has blamed Democrats for the failure of his healthcare bill.

    Both houses of Congress are controlled by Mr Trump’s Republican party but the bill was withdrawn on Friday because it could not get the votes required.

    Speaking to the Washington Post, Mr Trump said “We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy… so we pulled it.”

    The last-minute retraction is seen as a huge blow to the president.

    Repealing and replacing the healthcare programme known as Obamacare was one of his major election pledges.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan said he and Mr Trump agreed to withdraw the vote, after it became apparent it would not get the minimum of 215 Republican votes needed.

    Republicans have a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    However, multiple reports suggested that between 28 and 35 Republicans were opposed to President Trump’s draft American Health Care Act (AHCA).

    Some were said to be unhappy that the bill cut health coverage too severely, while others felt the changes did not go far enough.

    The bill also appeared unpopular with the public – in one recent poll, just 17% approved of it.

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the AHCA would reduce the deficit by $336bn between 2017 and 2026.

    However, the number of Americans without health insurance would stand at 52 million by the same time – an extra 24 million compared with Obamacare.

    Speaking after the withdrawal, Mr Trump repeatedly said Obamacare would “explode”.

    How disastrous is this for Trump? Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, North America reporter

    How bad was Friday’s defeat of the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives? Bad. Very bad.

    The AHCA was the first major piece of legislation pushed by the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress, a key political test early in the president’s term, when he should be at the height of his power and party cohesion at its strongest.

    In spite of all of this, Mr Trump, Mr Ryan and the Republicans running Washington could not get the job done.

    For Republicans Friday wasn’t just bad. It was a disaster.

    President Trump said the Republicans would probably focus on tax reform for now.

    “We have to let Obamacare go its own way for a little while,” he told reporters at the Oval Office, adding that if the Democrats were “civilised and came together”, the two parties could work out a “great healthcare bill”.

    He seems to have missed the point that the civilised DEMOCRATS actually already have quite a good healthcare bill – and it looks like remaining in place for the present, despite Trump’s lies and attacks on it!

  62. @dan

    Dirty Canadian oil. Tar sand. More fossil fuel burning.

    yes and our true dough is just as big an a h
    for cheering on the keystone decision

  63. The feedback is that it seems to be a coding issue, Phil, not a hack. It’s been passed to the relevant people to deal with, but in the meantime, doesn’t seem to be anything to worry about.

    The mods

  64. A fascinating insight into just how badly Trump and Bannon messed up the healthcare vote.

    http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2017/Pres/Maps/Mar26.html#item-1

    Nothing that should really surprise us of course. Trump was reported as neither knowing nor caring much about the subject matter at hand but we have long known he doesn’t have the intellect or attention span for details so no great shock. The actual details of the bill he dismissed as “forget about the little shit”. Bannon lost his temper and yelled at people to do what he ordered them to upon which they essentially told him to fuck off.

    Trump clearly had no interest in the fact that the healthcare plan broke every campaign promise he ever made about it in terms of costs and coverage but why would anyone think a raging sociopath would ever have any concerns about what he’d once promised? Certainly not those of us who have saying as much for a year now.

    We are however getting a very complete picture of what Trump likes to do. He likes photo ops of himself signing stuff and he doesn’t care what the stuff is or who it hurts as long as it makes him look presidential. He likes winning things and again he doesn’t care what the things are or what he promised they would be as long as he wins them. That’s essentially it. Oh, and he likes playing golf and holding rallies for his fawning sycophants rather than actually working.

    I have no doubt you could randomly pick anyone off the street who had at least a basic human conscience and wasn’t completely retarded and they would do a much better job as president than Trump. It is simply not possible to imagine anyone being worse at this than a pathological liar without normal human emotions. One of my favourite films is “Dave” starring Kevin Kline and Sigorney Weaver. A presidential look alike, Dave, who works in an employment agency gets drafted in to stand in as president when the real president wants to get away from the limelight to cheat on his wife with his bit on the side. However the real president, who is hated by everybody, has a stroke and Dave has to stay in the White House where he does a much better job, fixes all the stuff the real president has screwed up and also falls in love with his wife.

  65. Trump plays golf for the 13th time in 2 months on Sunday after lambasting Obama for his occasional round and saying he’d be “too busy working for you to play golf” if he got elected.

  66. @ 73

    “Trump clearly had no interest in the fact that the healthcare plan broke every campaign promise he ever made about it in terms of costs and coverage but why would anyone think a raging sociopath would ever have any concerns about what he’d once promised?”

    I just saw a panel discussion with a bunch of Republican Congressmen. They’re all pretty much as bad as Trump, just not as reckless and crazy. They kept saying that Obamacare is a disaster (!) and that we need something more affordable. They all struck me as sociopaths.

    They lie shamelessly, and have (almost) zero humanity or empathy. What they want is a free market. That is their God. But insurance companies are in the business of profit, private profit – and very little else. The Republicans know that. They know it all too well.

    They care more about corporate profits, and preserving the wealth of the wealthy and their own wealth and their own jobs, than the survival of the species or the well-being of their fellow citizens.

    Needless to say, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd acted like a weasel. He did not challenge them on anything.

  67. I think Republicans in general are sociopaths. You can’t have such little concern about the plight of the poor, unemployed and disenfranchised without being one.

  68. I see that Trump continues with nepotism and attempts to run the USA some sort of family rogue property development business!!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38565939 10 January 2017
    Democrats have called for US President-elect Donald Trump’s naming of his son-in-law as a top adviser to be reviewed over concerns of nepotism and conflict of interest.

    A group wants the Justice Department and Office of Government Ethics to scrutinise “legal issues” related to the appointment of Jared Kushner, 36.

    His lawyer says the post does not breach anti-nepotism laws.

    Mr Kushner is married to Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

    The millionaire will step down as boss of his family’s real estate business and publisher of the New York Observer newspaper in order to comply with ethics laws, his lawyer Jamie Gorelick said.

    The influential Trump adviser will also divest “substantial assets”, she said.

    Mr Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th US president on 20 January.

    Several of his cabinet picks have business interests that will be scrutinised at confirmation hearings taking place this week.

    Mr Trump’s selection for attorney general, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, is the first to face Senate confirmation hearings on Tuesday. He was turned down for a federal judgeship in 1986 because of alleged racist remarks.

    Unlike cabinet positions, advisers are considered part of White House staff and do not require approval from Congress.

    Softly-spoken and usually camera-shy, Mr Kushner is a vastly wealthy property developer and publisher who played an influential role in Mr Trump’s presidential campaign and has been included in key meetings with foreign leaders during the transition period.

    An Orthodox Jew whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors, he was raised in Livingston, New Jersey, and went on to study sociology at Harvard.

  69. I see Trump is also claiming he is going to make alliances with some “moderate” Democrats, if the majority of Republicans won’t rubber-stamp his edicts and badly drafted bills!

    With Bannon left out, this could be a sign of the organ-grinder changing the monkey – in the hope of better audience appreciation!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39403746

    Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to lead US federal overhaul

    President Donald Trump is expected to unveil a new unit aimed at overhauling the US federal bureaucracy, and headed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

    The Washington Post, which has reported the move, describes the Office of Innovation as a “Swat team” of former private-sector executives.

    It will have sweeping powers to reform government procedures, the report says.

    Mr Kushner told the newspaper that the “government should be run like a great American company”.

    “Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens,” he added.

    Technology and data are expected to be a key area, with Apple CEO Tim Cooke and Microsoft founder Bill Gates said to be working with the White House.

    In a statement to the Washington Post, President Trump said the new unit would fulfil key campaign promises.

    “Government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays,” Mr Trump said.

    He said the new office would allow him to apply his “ahead of schedule, under budget mentality” to his government.

    Rather like Trump’s immigration ban and healthcare “reforms”!!!!!! –
    “Ahead of schedule, under consulted, under advised, and under-planned mentality”!!!

    Mr Kushner, 36, is a property investor and media executive who is married to Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

    He already advises the president on foreign relations, and is said to have been influential in helping President Trump choose staff for his campaign and in government.

    With those “skills” at selecting staff and advisors, What could possibly go wrong!!!!! 🙂

    Top White House strategist Steve Bannon is expected to have no formal role within the new group.

    Mr Bannon’s previous calls for the “deconstruction of the administrative state” drew considerable attention.

  70. When a bunch of us were discussing US politics during the election, I (uncharacteristically) played the “optimist”. I condemned the protesters and marches (I still am not crazy about the protest paradigm as I think it is too disorganized to drive home a message — I agree with the message, not the delivery of it). I also noted that now there are daily protests about minor details of minor details…..We are “all protested out, and the message has suffered mass dilution as a result of the overplaying of the protests. Again, opinion.

    I later apologized when i realized that Trump is/was posing an imminent threat to the world. I still think he is dangerous. I still think he is a bigoted bully. I was clearly wrong about a few things. However, I hope that I was correct about one thing. He cannot coexist with any one/ anything / any entity at all. This is the first step in his ruin. (Perhaps there have been other “first steps” that have occurred; but this one is the beginning of his end). he will get nothing done. Just like his campaign, all bluster and bullshit. Absolutely ZERO meat.

    He is devolving and will end up in the toilet where shit belongs.

  71. crookedshoes #79
    Mar 27, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I later apologized when i realized that Trump is/was posing an imminent threat to the world. I still think he is dangerous. I still think he is a bigoted bully. I was clearly wrong about a few things.

    You need to remember that some of us have the great advantage of living outside the bubble of the US media, so are not deluged with the cascades of disinformation you have to put up with – or with the opinionated people around you have been misled by it!

    However, I hope that I was correct about one thing. He cannot coexist with any one/ anything / any entity at all. This is the first step in his ruin.

    He his like his UK pal Farage (who now works for Faux News).
    Like Trump – when their ONLY UKIP member of parliament recently resigned from their party, and said he would now be an independent MP, after “parting amicably” – Farage just had to launch a personal attack on him -as “not a true UKipper”!
    When irrational ideological rebels – are united only in their cause of attacking the establishment to gain power, their usual next move is to attack each other while maintaining their intransigent, inflexible, uncompromising, positions!

  72. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/26/donald-trump-healthcare-blame-freedom-caucus-democrats

    Debate also continued about whether Trump or members of his administration had orchestrated an unusual attack on Ryan on Saturday, despite professions of unity from both the White House and the House speaker’s camp. Trump and Ryan spoke by phone for an hour on Saturday.

    In the morning, the president used Twitter to tell the public to watch a show on Fox News at 9pm, Judge Jeanine.

    The former judge, prosecutor, district attorney and Republican political candidate from New York Jeanine Ferris Pirro then opened her show by saying: “Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the House … He failed to deliver the votes.”

    Trump’s senior adviser, Steve Bannon, is a former publisher of the hard-right website Breitbart, which has been harshly critical of Ryan.

    Mick Mulvaney, formerly a member of the Freedom Caucus and now Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, denied any move against the speaker.

    “Never once have I seen him blame Paul Ryan,” Mulvaney said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “The people who are to blame are the people who would not vote yes.”Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union about whether Trump had a motive to attack Ryan indirectly by flagging up the Fox News show, New York Republican Lee Zeldin, who supported the GOP healthcare bill, said he believed the president “wouldn’t know that’s what was going to be said”.

    About Ryan, he added: “I think he should stay as speaker.”

    The leader of the Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, said on ABC’s This Week healthcare reform was not dead, despite the failure of Ryan’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the president’s indications that he is ready to move on to tax reform.

    “It’s like saying that Tom Brady lost at halftime,” Meadows said, in reference to the New England Patriots’ astonishing Super Bowl comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons in February.

    “I still believe that there is a good chance, if moderates and conservatives can come together, that we repeal and replace Obamacare, bring premiums down, cover more people.”

    Presumably there is also ” a good chance” that pigs will fly”, that this muppet is utterly clueless, or he is simply being dishonest in the hope that wish-thinkers will believe him!

    Asked about rumors that he himself could replace Ryan as speaker, and if he supported Ryan, Meadows dodged both questions.

    The US system seems to be radically different to the UK Speaker of the House of Commons, who gives impartial rulings on procedures and ensures an orderly debate.

    Wikipedia Speaker_of_the_United_States_House_of_Representatives
    The Speaker in the United States, by tradition, is the head of the majority party in the House of Representatives, outranking the Majority Leader. However, despite having the right to vote, the Speaker usually does not participate in debate and rarely votes.

    I would see some difficulty in the conflicts arising in trying to chair a meeting, while at the same time carrying out a leadership role for one of the parties participating in the debate! – In the UK system the party “whips” and not the speaker, are responsible for getting support from their party’s elected representatives.

    The US system sounds like a judge trying to be the prosecutor as well as the judge!

    http://www.dummies.com/education/politics-government/what-is-the-role-of-the-speaker-of-the-house/

    What Is the Role of the Speaker of the House?

    The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, commonly referred to as the Speaker of the House (or simply, the Speaker), serves as the presiding officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Speaker fulfills several roles, including representing constituents as a Member of Congress, acting as administrative head of the House, and serving as leader of the majority political party in the House.

    This looks like another US system in need of reform!

    Interestingly – If Trump and Pence went down the pan is a sea of chaos!

    The Speaker is second in the U.S. presidential line of succession after the vice president, but no Speaker has ever acted as president.

  73. Alan4,
    I strongly believe that these animals will turn to cannibalism and devour each other. I think it has already started to occur. I sincerely hope I am correct, but at the same time, I cringe when I think of Mike pence ‘stepping in”. he is scary. I think mostly because he actually can get things moving. I disagree with him philosophically and think he’s bad for the country.

    Trump will not get the needle to move much more than he already has. I mean, yes, there has been considerable concern over his appointees and I am not really happy about his getting to nominate a supreme court justice. But I think he has run his course and the extent of his impact has been curtailed.

    I fear that he will now start an infantile tantrum that leads to his removal from office. Then frat boy Pence has a chance at galvanizing the republican house and senate and even getting a foot in the door for re-election. I am not at all ok with that. Trump, however, is well on the way to being a punchline. He will be remembered as a joke; an amateur who con jobbed his way to election then impeachment, and hopefully, jail.

  74. Trump, however, is well on the way to being a punchline. He will be
    remembered as a joke; an amateur who con jobbed his way to election
    then impeachment, and hopefully, jail.

    Crooked, from your mouth to dog’s ears…

  75. crookedshoes #82
    Mar 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Trump will not get the needle to move much more than he already has.
    I mean, yes, there has been considerable concern over his appointees
    and I am not really happy about his getting to nominate a supreme court justice.
    But I think he has run his course and the extent of his impact has been curtailed.

    I fear that he will now start an infantile tantrum that leads to his removal from office.

    Trump and has appointees are rank amateurs, who show no indication of having any idea how to consult, use expertise, or operate administrative systems.

    I think this quote I posted @#78 spells out on e of the major problems! I think it was about 17 days Trump and Co spent on the repeal of Obamacare (despite the Republicans having the objective of repealing it for 7years!).

    If we look at the weeks or months of time other presidents ( Bush, Obama etc.) have taken to debate and get their legislation approved, this is a ridiculously short time, probably made more difficult by using a White House team with no experience and no idea!
    He belatedly discovered that “Healthcare services are complex”!

    He is probably going to gradually discover that tax affairs and other issues on his “instant ideological answers list”, are also “complex”!

    @#78 – He said the new office would allow him to apply his “ahead of schedule, under budget mentality” to his government.

  76. crookedshoes #82
    Mar 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Trump, however, is well on the way to being a punchline. He will be remembered as a joke; an amateur who con jobbed his way to election then impeachment, and hopefully, jail.

    We had a look at this video earlier on RDFS. – if you missed it – it’s well worth a look!
    The comedians are already on the job!

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/24/dutch-tv-trolls-donald-trumps-america-first-speech-welcome-video/

    Dutch TV trolls Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ speech in ‘welcome’ video

  77. Well at least the site is back up again finally. What it made me realise though is just how fast things keep exploding in Trumpland when you have to wait even a day to talk about them. The pace and scale of the unfolding catastrophe is so immense it’s hard to get ones head round. In fact I think it’s like some major personal catastrophes like the loss of a loved one, divorce, serious illness where the brain simply refuses to accept this can be true to try and protect you somewhat from the full impact. After months and months of the Trump team and Trump himself denying there was EVER any contact with Russians and Trump just tweeting “Russia story is a hoax” the list of those who had contacts is so far up to Flynn, Manafort, Roger Stone, Sessions, Carter Page and now Trump’s own son in law Jared Kushner who met with a state controlled bank used by Putin to launder money which is also on a sanctions list. It’s crazy time.

    But trying to concentrate on any one bit of all this is hard because there’s so much happening. The Nunes thing alone is potentially as big a scandal as most that have ever happened in American politics but that’s barely a blip on the graph with so much else to see. Nunes has changed his story so many times now about what info he got about Trump, who he got it from and why he went and briefed Trump instead of his own committee it simply couldn’t look any more suspicious.

  78. Former CIA acting director John Mclaughlin said last night while discussing Nunes that “our oversight system has essentially broken down, which is a very serious thing […] especially since they’re overseeing the secret activities of the United States…”

    That is what Trump wants; no oversight. He is a corrupt oligarch, the worst of the worst – and Ryan and all the rest are cannibals, as crookedshoes said. But they might devour what’s left of our democracy before they devour themselves.

    Trump will not get the needle to move much more than he already has.

    https://theintercept.com/2017/03/26/trumps-war-on-terror-has-quickly-become-as-barbaric-and-savage-as-he-promised/

    Although precise numbers are difficult to obtain, there seems little question that the number of civilians being killed by the U.S. in Iraq and Syria — already quite high under Obama — has increased precipitously during the first two months of the Trump administration.

    Trump has failed at much and will continue to fail; but he will continue to do great harm too, and has already done more damage than we know; he often distracts us and we (Americans in general) like to be distracted. The media, for example, has not covered certain things like Trump’s “war on terror”. They are more interested in having their stupid panels and guest commentators like Tom Brokaw – who strikes me as an all-too-typical commentator in that he doesn’t appear to have any strong feelings about anything, as far as I can see. I do like Dan Rather, however. (By the way, I am appalled at the number of commercials there are now on MSNBC. It has never been this bad.)

    And this (from USA Today):

    WASHINGTON — The turmoil surrounding the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election deepened Tuesday, with the disclosure that former acting Attorney General Sally Yates was warned last week that her testimony could contain privileged communications involving the White House that might be barred

    Ultimately, Yates’ scheduled Tuesday appearance was canceled by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.

  79. Dan #87
    Mar 29, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Trump has already done more damage than we know,

    I think what we can be fairly sure of is that at least Obama would have carefully studied every proposal his generals brought to him and agonised about the potential civilian casualties. Trump doesn’t have the intellect, the attention span or the morals to know or care one way or the other. He doesn’t do “details” and he doesn’t do “ethics” being a sociopath. Just bomb the shit out of them. We’ll never know how many dubious attacks he’s green lighted without the tiniest concern about who might get killed because all of that will stay secret. I’m sure that what we do see about his failures and catastrophic decisions is just the tip of the iceberg.

  80. Dan and Arkrid

    I’m wondering why in the hell there hasn’t been an independent investigation set up yet. What’s the hold up? Is it that the Republicans control the initiative for that? Can’t the Dems do that by themselves? I admit to ignorance on this procedure.

  81. Laurie (89) and Arkrid

    “Is it that the Republicans control the initiative for that?”

    That is a good question, and I am as ignorant about that procedure as you are. It’s a bit comical, I must say: why would the Republicans, who have a vested interested in preventing exposure, be the ones expected to initiate an investigation whose very purpose is exposure of the misdeeds of the party that they represent?

    It’s like being a detective and hiring that same detective (oneself, that is) to investigate one’s own crimes!

    I’ll look it up. (Oh good, it’s only 8:20; I though it was after 9:OO. Maddow’s on later.)

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