How damaging is ‘Comey memo’ for Trump?

By Anthony Zurcher

The White House has denied a report that President Donald Trump tried to persuade the FBI to end its investigation into former aide Michael Flynn.

It’s not the only Trump crisis of the last 24 hours, coming hard on the heels of the news that the president shared sensitive material with Russian diplomats.

The bombshell memo and the ‘I’ word

Donald Trump is discovering just how dangerous an adversary James Comey can be.

A person doesn’t rise as high as Mr Comey did in the federal government without learning how to cover his, er, posterior.

With this latest bombshell from the New York Times it’s clear that the former FBI director, who was unceremoniously sacked by the president, is poised to enjoy the last laugh. Thanks to his propensity for memo-writing, he may have constructed an arsenal capable of mortally wounding the Trump presidency.

At the moment the White House is denying Mr Comey’s reported characterisation of the conversation the two men had shortly after the president fired Michael Flynn. In a “he-said, he-said” situation, however, the man who wrote contemporaneous documents – memos plural – will have the upper hand.

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81 COMMENTS

  1. @OP – Thanks to his propensity for memo-writing, he may have constructed an arsenal capable of mortally wounding the Trump presidency.

    Contemporary notes of meetings, trump retrospectively concocted “alternative facts” – especially if the classic format, of knee-jerk White House denials conflicting with Trump’s alternative set of “alternative facts”, is followed!

    http://nypost.com/2017/05/12/comey-declines-senate-invite-to-testify-in-closed-session/

    Ousted FBI Director James Comey declined an invitation from the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify in a closed session on Tuesday, committee aides told Politico on Friday.

    No immediate explanation was given for his refusal.

    The panel had asked Comey to appear so they could question him about the circumstances of his firing and other topics, most likely including the ongoing FBI probe into possible Russian ties to President Trump.

    The president, Vice President Mike Pence and administration spokespeople have offered a dizzying variety of reasons for Comey’s ouster.

    Trump said it was at least partly based on his frustration over the Russia probe, which he called “fake news.”

    But Pence and his reps insisted days earlier that Comey was fired solely on the recommendations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his top deputy.

  2. Now why would the FBI be interested in investigating political appointees who have business connections with Russia in recent years??

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/dec/01/wikileaks-cable-spain-russian-mafia

    The Kremlin’s spy agencies have such a close relationship with top organised criminals that Russia has become a “virtual ‘mafia state’,” the cables say. The gangsters enjoy secret support and protection and in effect work “as a complement to state structures”.

    A senior Spanish investigator alleged to the US that Moscow’s strategy was to use “organised crime groups to do whatever the government of Russia cannot acceptably do as a government“.
    Recent operations included gun-running to the Kurds “in an attempt to destabilise Turkey” and “arms trafficking” in the mysterious Arctic Sea cargo ship hijacking in 2009.

    The allegations are made by José “Pepe” Grinda Gonzalez, Spain’s national court prosecutor. Gonzalez has spent 10 years battling the Russian mafia and was responsible for the investigation of Zakhar Kalashov, reportedly the most senior mafia figure to be jailed outside Russia.

    Spain conducted two major operations – codenamed Avispa (2005-07) and Troika (2008-09) – against mafia networks on its territory, resulting in the arrest of more than 60 suspects.
    They include four of the alleged leaders outside Russia: Gennady Petrov, Alexander Malyshev (Petrov’s deputy), Vitaly Izguilov (a key lieutenant) and Kalashov. Despite this, the networks are said to have swiftly reconstituted.

    On 13 January 2010 Gonzalez, a special prosecutor for corruption and organised crime, gave a “detailed, frank” briefing to US officials in Madrid.

  3. Russian interference is not really what is consequential. It will continue in the USA to as great an extent as Putin can manage just as it does in France, Germany and other countries. What differentiates the USA from any of these countries is what you really need to worry about. Why do American voters keep voting for Republicans who only ever act against the interests of the people who voted them in? How can Republican politicians continue to support someone as vile as Trump despite the protestations of their own constituents? How could the electorate not see Trump for what he really is?

    The answer to most of this is that American politics is so partisan on the Republican side since religion infected it in the 1980s that there is no basic common sense left to direct people’s decisions. The primary motivation to vote for “your side” is demonisation and hatred of the “other side” even though that other side is greatly more likely to act in the best interests of the average voter. Nearly all Republican campaigning these days is negative campaigning, attack ads, and also the vast majority of it is untrue. Lying has become normalised in American politics because it proved to bring with it no penalty. Even when a lie has to be retracted or admitted or corrected enough people still continue to believe the original lie to make the strategy worthwhile.

    For 20 years or more Democrats have tried to rise above the depths that Republicans were willing to sink to and all it has done is hurt them. McConnell and Ryan did everything in their power to obstruct Obama for 8 years including stealing a Supreme Court seat and the electorate didn’t apparently take a blind bit of notice. The average attention span is so short that anything more than a few weeks old is yesterday’s news and no longer consequential.

    Obama will go to his grave knowing he could have done two things at the very least which would almost certainly have guaranteed Hillary winning and the world not being engulfed in this current Trump horror show but he didn’t. The main reason he didn’t do either of them is because he didn’t want to exacerbate the partisanship that already infests politics or be accused of doing so. Firstly when Comey announced that there was no evidence of illegality in Hillary’s email server investigation but then went off on a long sanctimoneous and political harrangue about her supposedly ill advised behaviour which was not his place to comment on he should have been sacked forthwith. It could never have been known at the time but that would also have avoided his 11th hour interference with her chances when he suddenly decided to break protocol and tell everyone he was reopening the investigation because of emails on Weiner’s laptop.

    Secondly Obama could have instantly destroyed Trump’s chances by revealing everything he knew about Russian interference in the election and Trump campaign collusion with it. The magnitude of his error in not doing this is immeasurable and unforgiveable. He simply could not believe that Trump stood a chance of winning anyway but that was the same mistake that nearly everyone else made – the massive underestimation of the stupidity, gullibility and disfunctionality of the American non-urban voter.

    What the Republican politicans get away with all the time, the lying, obstruction, denials, obfuscation, deflection, they only do so because the electorate allow them to. The same people who would not stand for a teacher lying to their children don’t punish Republican politicians for lying to their electorate. It’s essentially a subset of the religious fervour that doesn’t really consider lying for Jebus as real “lying” because it’s a holy war. You do what you have to to defeat the enemy and the ends justify the means.

    Every other western democracy holds its politicans to a higher standard. We accept they are never going to be completely truthful and that they’ll “spin” anything they can for all it’s worth but someone like Trump could not have stood in front of tv cameras in the UK and spouted his bullshit without being booed off stage. The Democratic electorate in the USA hold their own candidates to a much higher standard than the Republican electorate do. Not quite as high as in other countries but more nearly normal at least. That’s why Hillary was so easily tarnished by emailgate and Benghazi and “crooked Hillary” while everything slid off Trump like he was teflon coated.

    Politicians are a mirror held up to their electorate. They can only behave in ways their electorate allow them to get away with. No matter how you slice it, American politics is only so disfunctional because a large proportion of the American people are so disfunctional. If you want to cure the former then first you need to cure the latter.

  4. Q for Arkrid or anyone who knows: how much of this investigation, now being led by Mueller, will be public? Will there be hearings on TV like they had with Watergate and will the public be kept up to date on what’s going on; or is everything going to just drag on for months or years with the public remaining in the dark?

    (Sorry if the questions sounds silly; but I am not quite clear about this process as it relates to the public’s being apprised of any and all progress along the way.)

    By the way, anyone who watched Maddow last night knows that “the president” (Trump, that is) has the authority to fire Mueller.

  5. Very true, Olgun. (My mother sends me information about stuff like that, American hypocrisy, all the time.) But it’s still wrong, finally, even if it’s we who are the victims this time. The FBI too has a long history of malfeasance, but I am also glad we have the FBI to investigate this matter and others.

    “Meddling” covers a broad range of tactics and methods and motives, and like everything else needs to be examined closely and in the proper historical context. False equivalents can be odious, while identifying hypocrisy is always good. Not sure if we’ve ever used cyber warfare and fake news via the internet to influence an election. That’s a different animal.

  6. @Arkrid #7

    The answer to most of this is that American politics is so partisan on
    the Republican side since religion infected it in the 1980s…

    While I agree that is a factor, I do not think it is the biggest factor. IMO, gerrymandering, coupled with unlimited funds for Super Pacs via Citizens United have more to do with how voters are swayed.

    I agree Comey should have been sacked in July and Obama dropped the ball. However, releasing info on Russian influence was a little trickier. He knew the perception could easily be construed as administration interference in the election process. I don’t think we’ll ever know which route would have worked better: his silence in the matter or alerting the public.

  7. This morning on the MSNBC show Morning Joe one of the contributors, I think it was Susan Collins, Senator of Maine, said that when the dust settled with the Watergate investigation there were more than forty people sentenced to prison. I wasn’t aware of that number. Could it be that the top Dems (including Obama) are sitting tight and waiting for the full story to come out so that they can deliver a devastating blow to the Repubs a la Watergate and knock out as many opponents as possible, even if that meant that by withholding the info that they had at the time of the election they lost election in the end. Worth it?

    Give them a little rope and hang one idiot or give them several miles of rope and wait to see how many idiots will be hanging at the end of the year.

  8. A little rope to hang themselves. I like that expression. 😉 Mika Brzezinski is a joke; poor thing; she looks so ill at ease in front of the camera, always looks like she’s checking herself out in the mirror, and says nothing, just chimes in once in a while with something superfluous. She does deserve credit for banning the mendacious Kellyanne Conway from the show – although I am sure that that decision was corporate.

    Ailes died, you know.

    I agree with you, Vicki; not just about religion. More about what you mentioned along with other things. What we are witnessing is what Marx called the final stages of capitalism, “where global capital will be unable to expand and generate profits at former levels.” Hence the mania for short term profits.

  9. Politico is fake news, and Trump is being persecuted; this is, as he said, a witch hunt. (Kidding, but that’s the kind of crap, minus the expletives, that you can find all over Youtube in the comments sections. So many ignorant, angry, bigoted people out there. So many.)

  10. Dan #8
    May 18, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Q for Arkrid or anyone who knows: how much of this investigation, now being led by Mueller, will be public? Will there be hearings on TV like they had with Watergate

    Absolutely not. The Watergate hearings that were televised were Senate hearings and those would also be televised today but a special prosecutor investigation will be extremely secret as its purpose is strictly to determine criminal liability and you absolutely do not disclose what you’re finding out and thus alert potential future witnesses or anyone who might eventually be charged in such a matter.

    What we can expect is at least a year and probably longer of pretty much zero information coming out before this is concluded. I also don’t expect any leaks because Mueller is an absolute professional who holds the utmost respect of those he’s worked with. If Trump has anything to hide then he should be very afraid at this point because this guy is going to find it.

    This appointment is going to have much more profound consequences than just in finding out about Russian interference in the election. It will stymie the Trump administration, quite probably to an almost complete standstill, while it’s running and it will bring enormous pressure onto Trump himself to not tweet or say anything on camera that’s unscripted. If Trump doesn’t heed his advisors on this then we are going to see resignations from people who give up on trying to control him and people like that then have nothing left to lose if they get called to testify before Mueller’s investigation.

    My gut feel is that Kuschner and Ivanka will now desert this sinking ship at some point. If not they stand to get dragged down with it too and they have a hell of a lot to lose in terms of their own business empires.

    I said this a few months ago.

    In his private and business life he could avoid the spotlight whenever he needed to. Find someone to fire each time he screwed something up and blame them instead. Now the spotlight is on him 24/7 and he will burn in its flame like a moth in a candle. The White House is leaking like a sieve. You have to know that lots of his staffers hate him. Nothing he does will stay hidden.

    Trump’s incompetence, narcissism and stupidity has destroyed him in just over 100 days. He may turn out to weather the criminal part of the investigations but the credibility of his presidency is already gone. He will go down in history as the fastest president to get investigated by a special prosecutor at the very least.

    We should be careful what we wish for though. If Trump is impeached we face the possibility of President Pence and I think that evil weasel might prove to be even worse than Trump, maybe much worse. I would like to see the investigations find some real dirt in time for the 2018 elections, let the Dems take back the House and Senate, carry on long enough to stop the Trump administration from achieving any significant legislation and alert the low information public to the danger of what they voted for last time so they don’t do it again in 2020. While Trump is in the Oval Office his stupidity, intemperance and narcissism is on full display. That might be the best thing the Democrats could hope for.

  11. Arkrid, allow me to pay you a sincere compliment: your comments are wonderful. You are a Dawkins site treasure at this point. (Sorry for the corny word “treasure”, couldn’t think of any other word.)

    Enjoy the week-end.

  12. I’ve just found out from an internet piece that the common UK saying “he’s lost the plot” does not really exist in the USA. There’s another UK saying which any Brit will know might also not exist in the USA. It’s “You would be dangerous if you were smarter” or various variations on that theme. Trump shoots himself in the foot every time he tweets or talks on camera. He’s too stupid to understand the consequences of his words or actions. That prevents him from getting any major legislation through or doing too much damage to the USA or the world. If he were a bit smarter he could do real damage.

    If he goes and Pence takes charge I think the potential damage could be much worse. I actually want Trump to stay in office for the remainder of his 4 years. He’s already a lame duck president just 4 months into his term. We know he’s a moron so we can plan accordingly. We also know that he hates this job and it’s destroying him and his mental state so let it roll. Do not impeach! Just give him more rope. He’ll take every inch and hang himself as sure as eggs is eggs.

  13. Arkrid Sandwich #19
    May 19, 2017 at 1:17 am

    We also know that he hates this job and it’s destroying him and his mental state so let it roll.
    Do not impeach! Just give him more rope.
    He’ll take every inch and hang himself as sure as eggs is eggs.

    I would not worry – about timescales!

    Impeachment is a long protracted process with much debate, so the opportunities for foot-shooting and rope entanglement are plentiful!

    Given the quality of Trump’s “knowledge” and intellect, the “advisors” HE (rather than the senate) has appointed, and the sheer impervious resistance to expert advice, those opportunities are likely to be taken at every turn!

    According to Trump’s psychological projection, it is the investigation into Russian associates interventions in the set-up and working of the US government machinery which is “dividing the country” – NOT Trump’s interfering stupidity in incompetently meddling with mechanisms, laws and regulations he does not understand!

  14. I haven’t mentioned it before but I keep getting freaked out by the website I view every day – electoralvote.com. It’s updated every day at about 11.30 am UK time and several times now I’ll post something in here at night and they post the exact same thing next day. I can’t honestly believe they read my posts in here but it’s definitely getting quite bizarre. Last night I posted #17 with a salutory final paragraph about maybe not impeaching Trump would be better than doing so because his incompetence is a virtue and Pence could be much worse so be careful what you wish for. This morning electoralvote posted this:

    http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2017/Pres/Maps/May19.html#item-5

    Democrats Should Not Be Demanding that Trump Be Impeached

    While the Democratic base is demanding Donald Trump’s scalp, from a political standpoint that is a terrible idea. A piece by Jeff Alson makes that very clear, laying out a variety of reasons.

    Trump is incompetent: While Democrats don’t agree with Trump on many issues, they can take heart in knowing that he is not very good at carrying out his own program. He can send out tweets that drive Democrats crazy, but he is unlikely to build a wall on the Mexican border, impose a 45% tariff on goods imported from China, or ban all Muslims from entering the country. Sometimes incompetence is a virtue.

    The Republican brand: It’s tough being a Republican politician now, but getting rid of Trump would help the Republican brand immensely. It would be foolish for Democrats to remove the albatross from around the Republicans’ collective necks.

    President Pence: Although Mike Pence has a calm demeanor, he is extremely right wing and a capable administrator who knows how to work with the legislative branch. He would try to help Ryan to pass his program, plus some things dear to his own heart, such as voter-ID laws. Pence would also get a long and peaceful honeymoon period in which public opinion would favor him.

    In short, be very careful about what you wish for. You might get it.

    Freaky or what?

  15. @OP – The bombshell memo and the ‘I’ word.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39983257

    US President Donald Trump told Russian officials that firing FBI director James Comey eased “great pressure” on him, US media report.

    Citing a document summarising the meeting, the New York Times said Mr Trump called Mr Comey a “real nut job”.

    Mr Comey had been running an inquiry into possible collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s election campaign.

    The White House has not disputed the report.

    “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr Trump told the Russian officials, the Times reported.

    The psychological projection of Trump’s utter nuttery, becomes more and more blatantly obvious!

    “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

    But, warning that leaks were undermining national security, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said: “By grandstanding and politicising the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia.

    Well yes! If some of the US negotiators were Russian agents or stooges, that would kind of put pressure on the ability to negotiate!

    “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it.”

    The BBC’s Gary O’Donoghue, in Washington, says the White House has chosen to interpret the president’s words as relating to the national interest rather than to himself.

    But Trump’s interests ARE the national interest – at least they are in Trump’s mind and the minds of his sycophants!

    The summary was drawn from a formal account of last week’s meeting between Mr Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, who is at the centre of many of the controversial contacts between the Trump campaign and senior Russian officials.

    Mr Trump had fired Mr Comey the evening before.

    Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that a current White House official is a significant person of interest in the investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    @OP – It’s not the only Trump crisis of the last 24 hours, coming hard on the heels of the news that the president shared sensitive material with Russian diplomats.

    . . . . .. AGAIN!!

    So Trump informed Russian officials that he had sacked the investigator who was investigating the collusion of members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials!

    I have seen some stupid politicians in my time, but this is at a level where you could not make it up in credible novel!

  16. Alan4discussion #23
    May 19, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Olgun #21
    May 19, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Excellent analysis on the link!

    Indeed!

    There’s a good analysis of Pence here who is undoubtedly a very well practiced liar in his own right as befits someone toadying for Trump. It is beyond all credibility that he claims he knew nothing about Flynn’s contacts with Russia and in fact his lies on this are starting to get caught out.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/05/19/mike-pence-wants-us-to-believe-hes-innocent-dont-buy-it/?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-c%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.cf424896f146

  17. Further to #25 –

    But, warning that leaks were undermining national security, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said:
    “By grandstanding and politicising the investigation into Russia’s actions,
    James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia.

    It is of course ironically laughable to claim that it is the leaks disclosing Trump’s obstruction of the investigations into security risks, which “are damaging national security”!

    The Atlantic reports the same story here:-

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/trump-told-russians-that-nut-job-comeys-firing-relieved-pressure/527451/

    In a statement, Press Secretary Sean Spicer acknowledged that Trump believed dismissing Comey would distract from the Russia probe.

    Despite Spicer’s charge of “grandstanding,” the few public statements Comey made about the Russia investigation were under oath in front of congressional panels. Comey also said he had been authorized by the Justice Department to confirm the existence of a probe into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Presumably, that means he received approval from Rosenstein.

  18. Pence […] a very well practiced liar… -Arkrid

    That is very true; Pence is a total liar too! This lying business is really quite serious. I remember watching his debate with Kaine, who I like. That was, by the way, the worst, most pathetic debate I have ever seen. They had to cover nine topics is one hour. They started off with foreign policy. Two minutes of arguing and then on to a new topic. That should not be allowed. Three topics and very little moderation. I wish they could fix that, but it’s probably by design; the debate commission, or whatever they’re called, were probably pro-Trump. Less time for real debate benefits the liar.

    But what I wanted to say is this: Trump was accused by Kaine of saying that women should be punished for having abortions. Pence shook his head. “Are you saying he didn’t say that?” asked Kaine. Pence continued to shake his head and then changed the subject. Afterwards, the fact checkers and news people showed a clip of Trump saying just that. There were many other lies.

    Liars! And don’t tell me “they all lie.” That’s pernicious, a false equivalence. False equivalences were and are made by Trump’s evil surrogates all the time. And with the public they are all too common, although it is improper. These cynical or ostrich-like people, with no sense of proportion, are fodder for conservative politicians who lie as a way of life. I still hear it; “they all lie.” According to one of many fact checkers, Hillary lied a few times during the debates, like about some trade deal being the “gold standard”. Innocuous stuff. Trump and Pence lied their asses off and have been doing that ever since. Quantity changes quality.

    That is why Trump kept saying crooked Hillary and lock her up. That’s a typical swinish move to take the focus off himself. Common practice among sociopaths and criminals.

    And now we have….well, what we have now: scandals and lies heaped on top of each other – along with real national security issues at stake – and, finally, a legitimate, independent investigation and prosecutor.

    (And the Russia issue is just one part of the disaster called the Trump administration. Let’s not forget that. Science websites have been taken down etc., etc., etc. )

    They fooled too many people this time, Mr. Lincoln.

  19. Dan #28
    May 19, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    we have now: scandals and lies heaped on top of each other – along with real national security issues at stake

    Comey was doing his job (of investigating real security risks from Flynn etc.) so Trump fired him for “not doing a good job” (of covering up for Trump’s stooges) – as Spicer pretends and asserts, that this is “in the interests of national security”, while Trump blabbers about the security issues and sackings to the Russian minister and ambassador!!

    Denials of security risks from those in positions of authority, ARE very high security risks!

  20. It seems Trump is getting on with promoting the interests of the people he really represents!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39984903

    Trump in Saudi Arabia: First foreign trip starts as home troubles mount

    Multi-billion dollar deals between the US and Saudi Arabia will be signed on Saturday as US President Donald Trump’s first foreign trip begins in Riyadh.

    Mr Trump and his wife Melania were greeted in the Saudi capital by King Salman on Saturday morning local time.

    The visit comes as Mr Trump faces uproar at home following his sacking of FBI director James Comey.

    He has strongly criticised the decision to appoint a special counsel to oversee an inquiry into alleged Russian influence on the US election.

    Mr Trump is accompanied on his visit by his daughter Ivanka, an unpaid White House adviser, and her husband Jared Kushner, a key member of the Trump cabinet.

    Like British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on their recent visits to Saudi Arabia, Mrs Trump and Ivanka Trump did not wear headscarves.

    In January 2015, Mr Trump criticised then-First Lady Michelle Obama for doing the same. In a tweet, Mr Trump said she had “insulted” her host.

    On Sunday, Mr Trump will attend the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh and speak about his “hopes of a peaceful vision of Islam”.
    Aides say the president hopes his speech will resonate worldwide and express “a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity”.

    Mr Trump caused controversy during his campaign by calling for Muslims to be temporarily banned from entering the US over security concerns. Legislation aimed at restricting travel from several Muslim-majority countries remains tied up in the US courts.

    Apparently the travel bans and calls for “peace and prosperity”, do not apply to elite rich oily Muslims who have buckets of money to spend on US weapons for waging war!

    Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, he is not expected to highlight human rights during his trip.

    On Saturday morning, Amin Nasser, the chief executive of Saudi oil giant Aramco, said $50bn (£38bn) of deals would be signed with 11 US companies.
    The deal is part of a wider drive to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil.

    Separately, US media say Saudi Arabia will commit to buying about $100bn of US-made arms.

  21. Up-dated earlier BBC page:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39984903

    The US says it has signed deals worth more than $350bn (£270bn) with Saudi Arabia as Donald Trump begins his first foreign trip as president.

    The agreements included an $110bn arms deal, which the White House described as the single biggest in US history.

    Mr Trump and his wife Melania were greeted in the Saudi capital by King Salman on Saturday morning local time.

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the arms deal was aimed at countering the “malign” influence of Iran.

    “The package of defence equipment and services supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region,” he told a news conference in Riyadh.

    It sounds more like tooling up the repressive Saudi regime for more aggression against it neighbours and escalating Shia – Sunni conflicts with Iran and Syria, and with the Shias in the Yemen!

    The summit agenda is expected to focus on combating Islamist militants and the growing regional influence of Iran.

    Mr Trump has been a fierce critic of the international deal with Iran which eased sanctions in return for a curb on its nuclear activities.

    In a tweet, King Salman praised Mr Trump, adding that he hoped his visit would “strengthen our strategic co-operation”.
    He later handed the US President Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian honour, the King Abdulaziz medal.

    On Sunday President Trump will try to address these concerns in a speech to more than 40 leaders of Muslim nations in which he will call for a united stand against extremism and intolerance. 🙂

    Some have already commentated that Donald Trump is an unusual choice to deliver such a message but for now, Saudi officials are giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Saudi Arabia had signed a deal to buy just under $110bn (£84bn) of American-made arms, which he said was the biggest such deal in US history.

    Reuters news agency reports the deal includes the assembly of 150 Blackhawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia, worth about $6bn alone.

    AFP quoted a White House official as saying the deal will bolster the kingdom’s “ability to contribute to counter-terrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on the US military to conduct those operations”.

    Rex Tillerson said the arms deal and other investments would add up to more than $350bn.

    US giant General Electric said it had signed agreements worth $15 billion, and Saudi oil giant Aramco, had been expected to sign $50bn (£38bn) of deals with 11 US companies.

    So much for Trump’s earlier claims to be later speaking at the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh about his “hopes of a peaceful vision of Islam”.

  22. https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/768/cpsprodpb/7993/production/_96132113_138e7b66-dbe2-420c-ac22-28ccd0315dc0.jpg

    One cartoon retweeted 71 times places Mr Trump and the Saudi rulers at the centre of the Yemeni conflict.

    The cartoon shows the Saudi monarch and his son accompanied by Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi submissively welcoming Mr Trump as he exits his jet.

    On one side of the red carpet are bodies of dead Yemenis. On the other side, a man stands over a kneeling woman in a burka with a sword, apparently about to behead her.

    The cartoon was tweeted by @753_yamen_87 who sneered at Arab leaders and commented: “After Trump prohibited Muslim citizens from seven Arab countries from entering America, the Saudi Arab Death [“mahlaka”, a play on the Arabic word for kingdom, “mamlaka”] responds by gathering 17 Muslim leaders to welcome him. #Age_of_decadence.”

  23. The Saudis certainly know what little Donny’s favourite things are. Getting presents and being told how great he is and signing things in front of cameras. So they’ve given him a big gold medal he can boast about when he gets back home and let him sign lots of trade deals. I’m sure the trade deals were all going ahead regardless but he can boast about those as well now as if he’d actually negotiated them personally although I doubt he had any clue what was actually in any of the bits of paper he signed. It’s all very predictable and all very pathetic but for little Donny I’m sure it’s like getting taken to the zoo for the day by mummy and daddy and thern getting an ice cream with a Cadbury’s flake in it on the way home. The little chap will sleep well tonight anyway.

  24. Arkrid Sandwich #34
    May 21, 2017 at 12:31 am

    It’s all very predictable and all very pathetic but for little Donny I’m sure it’s like getting taken to the zoo for the day by mummy and daddy and thern getting an ice cream with a Cadbury’s flake in it on the way home.

    Of course it could also be the other way round!

    “Hey you 17 VIP Arab leaders!
    Look at this rare performing dinosaur the clever king has obtained on loan, and put on show in his circus ring for the local media, before the exhibit moves on to the Zionist circus next door for different stunts!”

  25. Arkrid Sandwich #34
    May 21, 2017 at 12:31 am

    he can boast about those as well now as if he’d actually negotiated them personally although I doubt he had any clue what was actually in any of the bits of paper he signed. It’s all very predictable and all very pathetic

    Given Trump’s level of understanding and compliance with American federal and state laws, it is also predictable that his wellies will plodge through various international laws and treaties – putting his foot in one after another!

    Still! If he sells lots of US made weapons to the Saudis and the Zionists, that should achieve his stated objective of achieving world “peace and prosperity” (see #30)! 🙂 – just like back in the US of A, executive orders permitting the selling of guns to the mentally unstable, improves US citizens’ safety and security! 🙂

    (I suppose it creates “prosperity” for arms manufacturers and gun-runners! – Not so much for the destabilised war-torn, famine infested regimes, under attack!)

  26. There’s an interesting article in the WP about Trump’s personality traits by Tony Schwartz the guy who spent a year with him while writing The Art of the Deal for him.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/05/16/i-wrote-the-art-of-the-deal-with-trump-his-self-sabotage-is-rooted-in-his-past/?utm_term=.755d6474d150

    The main points:

    Trump’s emotional maturity never really developed past childhood – he’s still the little boy constantly seeking approval but never being satisfied by any he does get. His sense of self worth is constantly under threat.

    Trump has none of the emotions that normal people feel for others, compassion, empathy, sympathy nor does he even seem to have any built in sense of right and wrong. Everything is transactional with him – contests to be won or lost, the latter never being acceptable.

    Trump is incapable of admitting fault or error and still sees his most abject failures as successes because to accept the truth would crush his fragile sense of self worth.

    In all the time Schwartz spent with Trump he never heard a single person dare to contradict him or tell him he was wrong. The bubble this creates around him means that reality never gets through.

  27. Dan #37
    May 22, 2017 at 2:43 am

    Even some of the educated highly indoctrinated can see through the shallow transparency and superficiality of Trump’s bunch!

    It’s getting harder to find hand-picked tame cheerleaders – like the bunch of Arabs the Saudi king invited to Trump’s “Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh”.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/05/21/protesting-notre-dame-students-walk-out-of-mike-pences-commencement-speech/?utm_term=.5a590d86db16

    Protesting Notre Dame students walk out of Pence’s commencement speech

    Pence was chosen to give the commencement address at the nation’s most prominent Catholic university — even though the school ordinarily invites newly inaugurated presidents to give the address in their first year of office.
    Thousands of students and faculty members signed a petition asking Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, not to invite President Trump, and the university chose instead to invite Pence, a former Indiana governor.

    Clearly, the rather dim sycophant – Rev. John Jenkins, “did not GET the message”, about attitudes to the incompetent bigoted Trump administration!

    On Saturday, Pence delivered the commencement speech at Grove City College, a Christian liberal arts school in Grove City, Pennsylvania, about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh. Grove City is one of a handful of religious schools that have refused federal funds so they do not have to comply with specific federal mandates, such as Title IX, which bans discrimination based on the sex of a student.

    Anyone who had done their research homework should have known what to expect!
    Apparently the students did THEIR homework, but their college president was not up to the job! Perhaps their Reverend Jenkins was using “faith-thinking” in place of deductive reasoning?

    The Notre Dame protest was far smaller than that faced by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos when she recently delivered the commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Florida.
    Some students stood up and turned their back, and the booing was so loud at different points in the speech that the school’s president stood up, interrupted DeVos, took to the microphone, and said to the students,
    “If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you. Choose which way you want to go.”

    Now let me think? Which choice would an educated student would prefer? –
    To receive a hard earned qualification through the post, or be forced to listen to, and give undeserved respect without challenge or interruption, to an uneducated, puffed-up, deluded science illiterate, babbling ideological drivel, and posturing as a condescending educational expert authority figure in a university?

    Making Betsy DeVos Education Secretary, is an insult to the students’ intelligence!

    Perhaps a chant of “Send her back to grade school for a proper education”, would have been more appropriate than booing!

  28. After initially encouraging further West Bank settlements, I see that Trump has been babbling empty rhetoric in Israel about everyone “working together and living in peace”!

    This is ironical preaching from a clueless man who cannot work together with the regulatory agencies and experts in his own country, is threatening to tear up agreements with Canada, Mexico, his Pacific trading partners, and the international climate plan in Paris!

    It is also noteworthy that he has just been involved in vilifying Shia Muslims, a massive arms sale to Saudi-Arabia who have been arming various terrorist groups, and he has been escalating tensions with North Korea.

    He may be talking to chosen audiences, but the international press is also listening and looking for any real content or consistency in what he says!

  29. “Working together and living in peace.” That’s infuriating.

    Speaking of his audience, I was watching Fox News last night (in a spirit of masochism and morbid curiosity) and someone said that the speech about terrorism that he gave in Saudi Arabia was the greatest speech she had ever heard. All the dumb asses on the panel nodded their heads in agreement. And the viewers did the same, I’m sure.

    We all know that Trump is an idiot, but what about all those ignorant and angry and indoctrinated people out there? The propaganda is only going to get worse. I think he might win a second term and that the Democrats may lose badly in the mid-terms. Why should we expect anything different? I am feeling pessimistic again. Why? Why should we be encouraged? It’s a pathetic country. If you’re not for Trump you’re a socialist or a “libtard” or a “snowflake” (a new term of abuse). That’s our country; millions and millions of frightened, insanely loyal, unthinking, angry, and passionate, hate-filled people. They don’t care about Russia or the environment or even Medicaid or social security. Education? Forget it. Religious freedom? Sounds fine! And the mid east? Forget it! They know nothing about the brutal and illegal occupation and care less than nothing! And their own interests are secondary; loyalty trumps all the rest; they are as recalcitrant as they are dumb. Even if the ACA is repealed they’ll still vote Republican. On and on it goes.

    It’s a lottery at this point. Who outnumbers who? I don’t know if the numbers have changed much since the election.

    We need to get rid of the electoral college vote.

  30. Dan

    Watching Trump parading around the “holy land” with his yamaka on and standing in front of the Western Wall pretending to be emotionally engaged with the whole thing, touching the wall with closed eyes etc,. Is he channeling the spirit of the martyrs? The drama makes me sick. Anyways, I wonder why he is wearing the yamaka. Is it some kind of rule that all guys must wear it to walk into the area there? Strange though because with Melania and Ivanka refusing to wear the head scarf (which I was admittedly happy about) then why did he wear the yamaka? Seems inconsistent to me but is there an explanation?

  31. The boy wonder, Kushner, is there in the holy lands and finally the problems between the Palestinians and Israelis will be solved once and for all!

  32. Hi LaurieB. Wearing a yarmulke while in a synagogue or in the Holy Land is considered a sign of respect. And as Trump has respect for nothing (except money) he’s doing this because he is obviously beholden to Israel and its leadership and therefore is doing what someone in his administration said he should do. The man almost certainly knows nothing about Judaism, expect for the fact that he probably believe that Jews own the media he claims to hate, etc. It’s weird and ironic that his son in law is Jewish and his daughter has apparently converted (to Orthodox Judaism no less!) Her conversion is clearly one in name only.

  33. While Trump is trying to create major diversionary distractions abroad –
    Back in the US of A, – those Trumpoids, who think they are a law unto themselves, demand to do as they please – regardless of national interests or legal requirements :-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40004300

    Ex-national security adviser ‘to defy Senate Russia inquiry’

    The fired US national security adviser will refuse to hand over documents to a Senate panel investigating alleged Russian meddling in the US election.

    The Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to get the documents

    Michael Flynn reportedly plans to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on Monday.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee is probing possible links between the Trump campaign and Kremlin.

    Mr Flynn quit in February, after it emerged he lied about the nature of his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

    The committee issued a subpoena – a legal summons – two weeks ago to obtain the documents.

    My Flynn’s lawyer had previously demanded legal immunity from “unfair prosecution” in order to cooperate with the committee.

    Last week the committee’s chairman Senator Richard Burr told reporters that Mr Flynn was “not cooperating” with the investigation, adding that they had not received “a definitive answer” on whether he would testify.

    Mr Flynn is also being investigated by the Department of Defense, after it was revealed that he received payments from Russia and Turkey shortly after leaving the Pentagon.

    He is also at the centre of an FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.

    Former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed last week to lead the FBI investigation following Mr Trump’s firing of the law enforcement agency’s director, James Comey.

    If Mr Flynn continues to refuse to comply with Senate investigators, it is thought they could vote to hold him in contempt of Congress, or even refer his case for possible criminal charges.

  34. Steven007

    Her conversion is clearly one in name only.

    Err..if that’s s true then she’s putting an extraordinary effort into it! They do the total sabbath thing and go incommunicado apparently. I don’t think it’s in name only. You know what they say about adult converts…they’re cuckoo for coco puffs and every one of them I’ve met are quite a frightening thing to experience. I think she swallowed the kool-aid.

    I’ve had the bad luck to find myself in social gatherings with two different American women who converted to Islam on two different occasions. Both of these women couldn’t wait to tell me about their conversion experiences, thinking that they’d find me to be sympathetic and admiring of their submission – because I’m married to an Algerian and lived in that country for three years. Both of these women were seriously deluded and really miscalculated. Their stories met a blank stare from me and with one of them I said that going from the Methodist church (we both grew up in it) and going to Islam was, for women, going from the frying pan into the fire. She turned hostile to me at that point. The whole conversation went downhill. We were in a mosque at the time and they were holding funeral services for a friend so of course I was super pissed off about their treatment of the infidels who were there in mourning and were being treated like crap. That’s a whole other story 😉

    For women, wearing a headscarf is also a sign of respect in the Muslim lands and even in the American mosques (which I refuse to do). Just if it’s not completely required of Trump then it’s a blatant political move, transparent ass kissing if there ever was any and then previously, his own wife and daughter disrespect the head covering in Saudi. The whole thing is stupid.

  35. LaurieB

    I think she swallowed the kool-aid.

    I would agree to an extent. As a Jew myself (most agnostic/atheistic Jews still refer to themselves as Jews because we are seen as more of a culture than a religion it seems. To the extent where people often say “he looks Jewish”. Growing up I always wondered why no one ever said “he looks Catholic/Episcopalian/Presbyterian/Lutheran/Evangelical, etc”) when I was younger I remember being told by the rabbi that converting to Judaism is much different than converting to other religions. He was obviously saying this with pride. I remembering him saying “unlike Christians we don’t encourage conversion. In fact we make conversion difficult enough to weed out those not truly interested”. I found this meaningful at a young age and even took pride in it. To that extent and echoing the beginning of your post, I agree. But from what I can tell they are classic cherry pickers. Going back to the yarmulke, I’ve never seen Kushner wear one when he’s not in temple. Every Orthodox Jewish (the brand they proudly claim) male I’ve ever seen wears a yarmulke at all times. Most Orthodox branches also require the women to wear babushkas or tichels. Obviously Ivanka does not do this. So yeah, they observe what they observe when it’s convenient.

    I have the feeling that Americans converting to Islam is even worse…

  36. Steven007

    Growing up I always wondered why no one ever said “he looks Catholic/Episcopalian/Presbyterian/Lutheran/Evangelical, etc”)

    I laughed at that but it’s only funny because “looks like a Jew” has some really unacceptable bigotry behind it and I can tell you that in 50 years no one has ever said to me -“you look like a WASP”. What would that even mean? I wear boring sensible clothing with non-confrontational pearl jewelry? Eat bland food and belong to the country club?

    Interesting though about the info on Orthodox requirements. Seems like cherry picking then. Is it a whole lot of virtue signaling? Tribal affiliation?

    I think that the atheist Jews are an important group in our community. In the beginning of this adventure, years ago, I looked to that group to see how they handled the cultural attachment piece. Although I gave up most of Christian culture, I saw that one could be an atheist and keep or dispose of what elements were right or wrong, on an individual basis. So no judgement if someone wants to participate in religious traditions in the family or in public. I don’t like to do that but it’s none of my business to drive a wedge between any atheist and their family members who are devout.

  37. Steven,

    You’re Jewish? No problem. I still want you to be VP. (Sanders opened the door for you.) Laurie, are you still interested in running in 2020? Don’t renege now, please! I have been working hard raising funds. I sold out to AIPAC; look I’m a pragmatist; what do you want? We have to work within the system.

  38. @Dan

    I had my horns filed down years ago so no one suspects me as being Jewish these days. I jest. Is that even funny? That reminds me of something though. True story. Early in my career in one of my first jobs in the lab I worked for a private lab. It was owned by a consortium of doctors, something that was legal at the time but no longer is. It was run by a non technical business man who knew many of the doctors. He was generally a congenial guy and he took a liking to me. He was a Roman Catholic Italian who was observant but definitely not devout (think Michael Corleone). One day he found out I was Jewish. He came up to me and said “so I heard you’re a Christ killer!” (he pronounced killer, “killah”) I had never heard the term before. I was still young a naïve. I asked him what he meant and he told me the Mel Gibson version of the crucifixion. Quipping back I told him, “sorry for your loss and I suppose I should apologize on behalf of my people”. He reared his head back and laughed and told me I had a good sense of humor. From that point on, periodically (and in mixed company) he’d call me “Christ killah!” and I would always zing back, “careful, you could be next”, and he’d howl with laughter. This was obviously the height of non PC work behavior.

  39. Further to #46

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40004300

    President Trump said Michael Flynn had been “treated very unfairly by the media”

    But would Trump even notice if conversations or documents were full of lies or “alternative facts” ?? 🙂

    Ex-US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn “lied” about income from Russian companies while renewing his security clearance, a top Democrat says.

    Elijah Cummings released a letter that shows Mr Flynn said his foreign trips were paid for by US firms, but a Moscow visit was funded by a Russian company.

    The claim follows Mr Flynn’s refusal to hand files to a Senate panel probing alleged Russian political meddling.

    He was fired after misleading the White House about his Russian contacts.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena – a legal summons – two weeks ago to obtain documents related to Mr Flynn’s contacts with Russians dating back to June 2015.

    But in a letter to the panel, his lawyers said he was rejecting its request in response to the current political climate and an “escalating public frenzy against him”.

    I wonder if courts would accept that excuse from notorious bank-robbers or fraudsters? 🙂

    Mr Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, later published a letter urging the panel’s chairman, Jason Chaffetz, to subpoena the documents.

    The letter highlights a February 2016 interview in which Mr Flynn told security clearance investigators that he was paid by US companies when he travelled to Moscow to dine at a gala with Russian President Vladimir Putin the year before.

    But the trip was actually paid for by Russian state news agency RT.

    If Mr Flynn did lie to investigators, he could face felony charges and up to five years in prison.

    Also on Monday, a new report claims President Trump allegedly asked two top national security officials to publicly deny that there was any evidence of collusion.

    Shortly after Mr Flynn left the White House, the Department of Defense also launched an inquiry into the payments he received for the RT gala, and for lobbying on Turkey’s behalf.

    Senate Intelligence Committee chairmen Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner said they were “disappointed” at his decision not to hand over files on Monday.

    However Mr Flynn’s letter to the Senate panel says that his refusal to testify is not an admission of wrongdoing.

    If Mr Flynn continues to refuse to comply, it is thought Senate investigators could vote to hold him in contempt of Congress or even refer his case for possible criminal charges.

    Two other former top Trump aides – Paul Manafort and Roger Stone – have reportedly complied with the committee’s request for information.

  40. Steven #53

    Quite a story.

    You have remarkable self-restraint. I wouldn’t have been able to control myself, would have pushed him down, or reported the SOB to someone, gotten him in trouble somehow, or quit; that’s extremely antisemitic. Then again, it’s hard to know how one would respond; if the job was important to to me and it didn’t bother me I guess… who knows…

    He laughed at your comment because it fit in with his notion of the self-deprecating, zany Jew a la Woody Allen.

    That’s what they said to my mother when she was a kid: Christ killer. Those are, in my view, among the lowest types of humanity: the vicious and ignorant bigots (and I would say the same thing had the situation been different and he had used, say, the N word or the F word, etc.).

    (Right now it’s “the Muslims”; but I could imagine a desperate Donald Trump in a last ditch effort to gain control saying something, with arms outstretched, like: “let’s face it people, the Jews killed Christ. That was the worst thing that ever happened in the entire history of the world; they killed Christ, and now they control the banks, the media…” If it wasn’t for Kushner I think a lot more people would be a bit more worried, but Kushner is their cushion and even makes Trump endearing in their eyes. I call it The Kushner Effect. It’s out there.)

  41. Meanwhile – as investigations and inquiries progress, that Russia collusion issue just won’t go away, regardless of Trump’s denials, distractions and diversionary gimmick allegations about investigators!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40017514

    Former CIA Director John Brennan has said an investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Kremlin is “well-founded”.

    He told the House Intelligence Committee he was aware of intelligence showing contact between Russian officials and “US persons involved in the Trump campaign”.

    Mr Brennan said the Russians “brazenly interfered” in last November’s US elections and were “very aggressive”.

    But he said he did not know if the Trump campaign intrigued with Moscow.

    Mr Brennan, who stepped down as CIA director in January, testified on Tuesday: “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals.

    “It raised questions in my mind whether or not Russia was able to gain the co-operation of those individuals.”

    His evidence undercuts President Donald Trump’s claim that the investigation is a “taxpayer funded charade”.

    The House inquiry is one of two congressional investigations into claims that Russian hackers tried to tip the presidential election in Mr Trump’s favour last November, and whether members of his campaign aided the alleged Kremlin conspiracy.

    The FBI also has its own investigation on the issue.

    Mr Brennan added that he left office with many unanswered questions about Russia’s influence over the election, but that the FBI’s probe was “was certainly well-founded and needed to look into these issues”.

    Mr Brennan also told lawmakers that he had warned his Russian counterpart, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov, during a phone call last August against meddling.

    He told Mr Bortnikov any attempt to interfere would “destroy any near-term prospect” of repairing relations between Washington and Moscow.

    Mr Bortnikov twice denied interfering and promised to bring up the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Mr Brennan.

    As CIA Director, Mr Brennan, along with the FBI and the Office of Director of National Intelligence, released an intelligence report in January concluding that Moscow attempted to influence the outcome of the election.

    Days afterwards, Mr Trump strained relations with the intelligence community when he accused spy officials of leaking allegations that Russia had compromising information on him, likening it to “Nazi Germany”.

    At the time, Mr Brennan called Mr Trump’s accusations “outrageous”.

    In a separate congressional hearing on Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats declined to comment on a report that Mr Trump asked him to publicly deny there was any evidence of collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

    According to the Washington Post, Mr Coats and Admiral Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, rejected Mr Trump’s alleged request.

    Earlier Trump could play the “blame it on the Democrats card, but now with Republican majorities in both house and senate, he can no longer play the contrarian “other party card” when he and his group are called out for lying to investigators!

  42. It appears that rather than helping the safeguarding the US government from foreign infiltration, Trump is once again choosing the perverse option, and appointing members of the Trump “in-crowd”!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40024813

    Donald Trump has appointed lawyer Marc Kasowitz to represent him in an inquiry into Russia’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election and any links to the Trump campaign, US media report.

    Mr Trump has used services of the New York lawyer – known as a tenacious litigator – for more than a decade.

    Last week, former FBI boss Robert Mueller was named special counsel for the Department of Justice inquiry.

    President Trump denies any collusion between his campaign and Russia.

    However, US intelligence agencies believe Moscow tried to tip the 2016 election in favour of Mr Trump.

    Mr Kasowitz and the White House have so far made no public comments on the reported appointment.

    Mr Kasowitz is well known to Donald Trump, and it was he who – during the presidential campaign – threatened to sue the New York Times newspaper if it didn’t retract a story about Mr Trump touching women inappropriately.

    The Times stood by its story and a retraction was never published.

    “He can be aggressive – he’s got that in him for sure,” John Quinn of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, who has worked with and opposite Mr Kasowitz, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

    “He also can be smooth as silk, respectful and deferential,” Mr Quinn added.

    Calls for a special investigation had mounted since President Trump fired the most recent FBI director, James Comey, earlier this month.

    The FBI and Congress are also looking into potential links between Mr Trump’s campaign team and Russia.

  43. Less than two weeks and the USA has now stabbed two allies in the back. First Trump boasting to the Russians about Israeli intelligence on ISIS, now it’s the UK’s turn. The suicide bomber who killed and injured so many in the appalling attack in Manchester which is on all our minds over here was identified by police from his remains. He was known to work as part of a network and his identity was kept secret so as not to alert others until arrests could be made. However his identity had been shared with US authorities who promptly leaked it to the press over there.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-40026413

    I was very puzzled to see the bomber’s name so quickly in US media yesterday but I didn’t yet realise the full implications. Let us sincerely hope that no one slips through the police net because of this and goes on to take the lives of more of our children. However it is clear that our former trustworthy ally which has been run by growups for the last 8 years is no longer being so well run and no longer to be trusted.

    We would also appreciate your idiot president keeping his idiot mouth shut if the most appropriate thing he can think to call the disgrace to humanity who did this is “loser”.

    I’m afraid I’m not feeling very charitable to the USA or its people at the moment. This in some small way is our 9/11, perhaps partly because so many who were killed and injured were just children and it’s hitting us very hard. A beautiful little 8 year old girl just starting out in life, hers now snuffed out in an instant, others just teenagers. I was on a road trip yesterday, 9 hours of driving, much of it in tears as new reports kept coming through on the radio and people’s emails and texts of support were read out. As our security forces try to contain and control this situation and ensure it doesn’t happen again their efforts get hampered by loose lips in the USA. What Trump did in the Oval Office with the Russians didn’t quite bring it home to me since it was “only” about Israel and Syria. Now when it’s our own children’s lives at risk in my own country it suddenly hits home very hard.

  44. Meanwhile Trump babbles on – with his words contradicting his actions – and he still can’t do science, logic, or maths!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-40023725

    US President Donald Trump has said he is “more determined than ever” to pursue peace in the world after meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40035837

    The United Nations has warned that President Donald Trump’s plans to cut contributions to peacekeeping will make such work “impossible”.

    The spokesman said the UN was studying Mr Trump’s plan.
    “The figures presented would simply make it impossible for the UN to continue all of its essential work advancing peace, development, human rights and humanitarian assistance,” he said.

    The BBC’s Nick Bryant at the UN says such a warning from the organisation is unusually blunt.

    More Trumponomics and double-talk?

    https://richarddawkins.net/2017/05/how-trumps-science-cuts-could-hurt-states-that-voted-for-him/#li-comment-221955

  45. Arkrid Sandwich #60
    May 24, 2017 at 10:15 am

    There is another link here about the leaking of information on a live UK investigation to the US media!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-40038630

    UK investigators have reacted with anger after a US newspaper published photos apparently showing the scene of the Manchester bomb attack.

    Senior counter terrorism policing figures said the leak undermined their investigation and the confidence of victims and witnesses.

    BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford said senior people in counter terrorism policing were “clearly frustrated”.

    “They said the leak undermines the relationship with important partners and undermines the investigation and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their families,” he added.

    Labour’s Yvette Cooper, who chaired the influential Commons Home Affairs Committee before the general election campaign started, tweeted: “V troubled by US leaking intelligence UK has given them in middle of live investigation where public safety at risk. What is going on?”

    Monday night’s attack at Manchester Arena killed 22 people – including children – and injured 64.

    Information about the bomber’s identity first emerged in the US – with American TV networks CBS and NBC naming Abedi as the suspect.

    On Wednesday morning Ms Rudd was asked whether she would be looking at how information sharing may have resulted in the premature release of details the British police and security services had not wanted in the public domain.

    “Yes, quite frankly,” the home secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

    “The British police have been very clear they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity – the element of surprise – so it is irritating if it gets released from other sources, and I’ve been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again.”

    Pressed on whether the Americans had compromised the investigation, she said: “I wouldn’t go that far, but I can say they are perfectly clear about the situation and that it shouldn’t happen again.”

  46. Analysis of Trump’s verbal capabilities now compared to 20 or 30 years ago reveal he may be suffering from dementia.

    https://www.rawstory.com/2017/05/experts-say-trumps-speech-deterioration-is-a-clear-sign-of-early-dementia/

    His vocabulary which used to be college level has now dropped to about the level of the average 12 year old. The syntax is so garbled that many sentences are incomprehensible and missing words and incorrectly used words make this worse.

    This all ties in with the numerous stories out of the WH that he has a very limited attention span now, reacts more to pictures and charts than written text and only tends to even keep reading if he sees his own name mentioned. In fact those preparing his daily intelligence briefs try to keep them to one page and try to mention his name in every paragraph so he even keeps reading to the end of that page.

  47. Arkrid, I understand your anger. There are tears on this side of the water too. Children are children anywhere.
    This is more of the dysfunction of the USA spreading to the rest of the world. I wish he was gone tomorrow.
    Alot of us have had stress related increases since Trump. They even have a name for it now.
    These idiot cowboys in this country are making me sick. I would like to wake up to a normal day. I would like to wake up in a normal country. This seems like a nightmare..

  48. Well the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its report on the second Trump healthcare bill which was forced through the House before either those who voted on it bothered to read it or anyone else had a chance to discuss it. Finally after a miserable couple of weeks for most people there’s actually some good news. Not only will this new bill save a bit of money over 10 years it’ll only take healthcare away from 23 million people rather than the 24 million the first bill was going to do. So win/win basically. Well done Republicans. The 23 million will mainly be poor and/or black so no one gives a fuck about them I suppose and the mega rich will get a nice tax cut so they can buy more yachts. What they spend on yachts will then trickle down into the economy to yacht builders, paint makers, carpenters etc until a few thousand of the 23 million people who lost their healthcare can afford it again.

    However before those lucky few thousand get too complacent the Republicans have also released their budget proposal which will slash spending on education, Medicaid, food stamps, student loans, the EPA and international aid so the rich can get even more tax cuts. More good news for yacht builders.

    Some time ago I described America as really consisting of two countries rather than just one. On one side are the normal humans like we have in the UK and other places and on the other side are the Republicans. I got a bit of flack for it. Does anyone still disagree with me now after 4 months of Trump in power?

  49. Arkrid Sandwich #60
    May 24, 2017 at 10:15 am

    However his identity had been shared with US authorities
    who promptly leaked it to the press over there.

    I was very puzzled to see the bomber’s name so quickly in US media yesterday
    but I didn’t yet realise the full implications.
    Let us sincerely hope that no one slips through the police net because of this and goes on to take the lives of more of our children.
    However it is clear that our former trustworthy ally which has been run by grown-ups for the last 8 years
    is no longer being so well run and no longer to be trusted.

    I see the UK police are no longer sharing intelligence with the US, now the Trump administration has progressed to fouling up abroad as well as at home!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-40040210

    Police investigating the Manchester Arena bomb attack have stopped sharing information with the US after leaks to the media, the BBC understands.

    UK officials were outraged when photos appearing to show debris from the attack appeared in the New York Times.

    It came after the name of bomber Salman Abedi was leaked to US media just hours after the attack, which killed 22 – including children – and injured 64.

    Theresa May is to raise concerns with Donald Trump at a Nato meeting later.

    Greater Manchester Police hopes to resume normal intelligence relationships – a two-way flow of information – soon but is currently “furious”, the BBC understands.

    The force – which is leading the investigation on the ground – gives its information to National Counter-Terrorism, which then shares it across government and – because of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing agreement – with the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

    In total eight men are now in custody following the attack, carried out by Manchester-born Abedi, a 22-year-old from a family of Libyan origin.

    Home Secretary Amber Rudd had said she was “irritated” by the disclosure of Abedi’s identity against the UK’s wishes and had warned Washington “it should not happen again”.

    However, the pictures of debris – which appear to show bloodstained fragments from the bomb and the backpack used to conceal it – were subsequently leaked to the New York Times, prompting an angry response from within Whitehall and from UK police chiefs.

  50. Alan4discussion #66
    May 25, 2017 at 5:33 am

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40023720

    The White House has denied the president’s budget proposal contains an “egregious” maths error.
    Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers pointed out the spending plan double-counts $2tr (£1.5tr).

    The budget clearly does double count the same $2.1trillion in supposed tax revenues to both pay for tax cuts for the rich but then to also reduce the budget deficit. However it only assumes that $2.1 trillion will be generated in the first place by GDP growing at 3% annually every year in future which is pretty much impossible given that it’s A) never done that before B) it’s currently at just under 2% growth rate and C) the economy is already at full employment with little scope left for more growth.

    In short it’s all just fantasy numbers with little relationship to reality even if whoever prepared it hadn’t got the basic maths wrong as well. It is hard to understand what is going on in this government which now seems to be run by complete incompetents in all departments. It’s possible that people working under the Trump administration have now just given up trying any more.

  51. Arkrid Sandwich #68
    May 25, 2017 at 9:38 am

    It is hard to understand what is going on in this government which now seems to be run by complete incompetents in all departments.

    He has a cabinet full of muppets, and he has got rid of the people who gave competent legal and security advice he did not want to hear!

    It looks like the Trump “plan” to safeguard America from Russian intelligence infiltration, is to appoint his regular pet litigation prevaricator, to obstruct the investigations while Trump sits in denial and his fumbling idiots muddle on!

    Alan4discussion #58
    May 24, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Donald Trump has appointed lawyer Marc Kasowitz to represent him
    in an inquiry into Russia’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election
    and any links to the Trump campaign, US media report.

    Mr Trump has used services of the New York lawyer –
    known as a tenacious litigator – for more than a decade.

  52. @#67 – Police investigating the Manchester Arena bomb attack have stopped sharing information with the US after leaks to the media, the BBC understands.

    Meanwhile:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-40037776

    US President Donald Trump has told a Nato meeting in Brussels terrorism must be “stopped in its tracks”.

    Will Nato be doing more to defeat IS?

    The Nato gathering will see the alliance agree to a US plan for Nato to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamist militants, particularly IS, but France and Germany insist the move is mostly symbolic.

    Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Nato states would contribute more in terms of information sharing and air-to-air refuelling.

    “This will send a strong political message of Nato’s commitment to the fight against terrorism and also improve our co-ordination within the coalition – but it does not mean that Nato will engage in combat operations,” he said.

    It looks like Trump’s bunch of leakers, have just stuck their wellies in that project, – while his $110billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia is unlikely to do much to “reduce strife” in Yemen or Africa!

  53. This may unfortunately give Trump a diversionary scapegoat to distract from the various scandals and investigations!
    It does however look as if the person or persons responsible, are in deeeep trouble!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40048565

    US President Donald Trump has said leaks of the investigation into the Manchester Arena attack to the US media are “deeply troubling”.

    They were a “grave threat to our national security”, he added, and pledged to get to the bottom of it.

    He pledged to ask the US Department of Justice to launch a review, and “if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted”.

    By Anthony Zurcher, North America reporter

    There may be someone in the US government who thinks these revelations could pressure the UK to take more aggressive steps of its own to address what Mr Trump in the past has termed “radical Islamic terrorism”.

    Then there’s the possibility that the leaks are merely one person’s attempt to gain favour with a reporter or burnish his or her reputation as a knowledgeable insider.

    If there’s one lesson to be learned from the past year, it’s there is often no need to look for complex explanations when simple individual pride or incompetence fits the bill.

    Whatever the explanation, officials in both the UK and the US say the Manchester leaks are going to stop – and, given that the information is being cut off at the source, they probably will.

  54. US President Donald Trump has told a Nato meeting in Brussels terrorism must be “stopped in its tracks”.

    No shit Sherlock. The only question being how of course. I thought destroying ISIS was going to be so easy and so quick or at least it was on the campaign trail. Then of course Dementia Donald has to actually perform and has no clue what to do about anything. I mean who knew that healthcare was so complicated or that running a country is not as easy as running a property company. At least by the end of your trip Jared will have solved the Israel / Palestine problem no? I mean he’s out there with you so he must have a couple of days to sort it all out for us.

    The eight year old girl who died in Manchester this week wasn’t even born when George W Bush invaded Iraq. Now she’ll never know that if anyone is ultimately reponsible for killing her it was him and the Republicans who voted for the illegal war. The war that destabilised the Middle East, gave Al Qaeda thousands more converts and eventually led to the creation of ISIS from the Sunnis who were locked into internment camps and discriminated against by the Shia puppet government that Bush installed in Iraq. Now those same Republicans who voted in lock step for Bush’s lies are fawning over someone even dumber, more mendacious and more amoral. Someone who told the middle east he might be coming for their oil, imposed a travel ban on them, supports Putin who supports Assad but still can’t understand why they are so pissed off with the west.

    The suicide bomber who killed all those children was a vile, reprehensible, filthy criminal but he wasn’t the most dangerous man on the planet. That honour goes to Donald Trump and those who support him, excuse him or don’t speak out against him are as guilty by association.

    The single concrete goal that would do most to make the world a safer place would be to get rid of Trump, his cronies, his surrogates, all the Republicans who vote for his bills and make sure that Republicans never get into power again.

  55. Arkrid Sandwich #72
    May 25, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    US President Donald Trump has told a Nato meeting in Brussels terrorism must be “stopped in its tracks”.

    The war that destabilised the Middle East, gave Al Qaeda thousands more converts and eventually led to the creation of ISIS from the Sunnis who were locked into internment camps and discriminated against by the Shia puppet government that Bush installed in Iraq.

    Of course England has had cities like London bombed by terrorists before, – but in those instances by IRA terrorists funded by donations collected in the Irish bars of New York and other US cities!

    Then of course there are the civilian deaths from the civil wars started by “regime change” foreign powers, which may have people seeking to revenge them!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-39383989

    The United Nations has raised grave concerns about reports of high civilian casualties in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

    A senior UN official in Iraq said she was stunned by accounts of “terrible loss of life”, after claims that at least 200 people had been killed in air strikes by the US-led coalition.

  56. Arkrid #72

    Here here.

    I’m not sure I would call trump amoral; immoral? — Hillary Clinton aptly described his budget proposal and the attempt to repeal ObamaCare as “showing unimaginable cruelty.” Trump wants to send more troops to Afghanistan. As Hedges predicted: “the hypermasculine values of military culture [under a Trump administration] will define political and cultural discourse…”

    “At least by the end of your trip Jared will have solved the Israel / Palestine problem no? I mean he’s out there with you so he must have a couple of days to sort it all out for us.”

    Funny! Sad and pathetic, but funny. “A couple of days”; not bad!)

  57. Well it looks like Trump got well and truly served by the President of France who gave him a taste of his own medicine in the handshake bullshit that Trump loves to inflict on everyone else. It’s not quite so easy to bully other presidents is it little Donny compared to your own employees or the surrogates who toady up to you? You can bet that’s now a score to be settled in Trump’s childish mind.

    So his first foreign trip hasn’t been a total disaster yet although if Obama had done what Trump did you can bet the Republicans would be screaming about it from the rooftops. He shoved the Montenegran Prime Minister out of the way to get to the front of a photo op, cozied up to the Saudis and Bahrainis while berating Nato allies, refused to smile and wave with everyone else when President Macron suggested it and we find out he recently gave away yet more classified information by boasting to the President of the Philippines that two nuclear subs were off the coast of Korea.

    We’re starting to see what the Trump campaign’s relentless demonising of the press is now leading to. A reporter in hospital in Montana for asking a polite question and a vicious attempt to blame it on him for being a liberal reporter. At least Gianforte has been charged with assault but sadly he also still won the election. When the free press is under attack then democracy is under attack.

  58. Dan #47
    May 22, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Kushner is a remarkable and gifted young man. I concur.

    It seems he is also under investigation! – Of course any competent president would have people screened and any conflicts of interest tidied up, BEFORE appointing them!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40054753

    President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is under FBI scrutiny as part of the Russia investigation, according to US media.

    Reports say investigators believe he has relevant information, but he is not necessarily suspected of a crime.

    The FBI is looking into potential Russian meddling in the 2016 election and links with Mr Trump’s campaign. The president denies any collusion.

    Mr Kushner’s lawyer said his client would co-operate with any inquiry.

    US officials, who were not named, told NBC News that the interest in Mr Kushner, 36, did not mean the investigators suspected him of a crime or intended to charge him.

    Separately, the Washington Post reported that the investigators were focusing on meetings he held last year with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, and a banker from Moscow, Sergei Gorkov.

    Mr Gorkov is the head of Vnesheconombank, which has been subject to sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

    The bank is under the control of Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev and other members of the government, and has been used to fund major projects such as the 2014 Winter Olympics in the southern Russian resort of Sochi.

    Mr Kushner has said he did not discuss sanctions with Mr Gorkov.

    Congress is also looking into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election and any Trump campaign ties.

    Mr Kushner has already agreed to discuss his Russian contacts with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    “Mr Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings,” Mr Kushner’s lawyer Jamie Gorelick told the BBC.

    “He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry,” the lawyer added.

    The White House has been engulfed in crisis over allegations that Mr Trump asked the ousted FBI chief to drop an inquiry into links between his ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia.

    Mr Flynn was forced out in February after he misled the vice-president about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador before Mr Trump took office in January.

  59. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40068137

    Donald Trump’s son-in-law attempted to set up secret communications with Moscow a month after Mr Trump’s election, US media say.

    Jared Kushner wanted to use Russian facilities to avoid US interception of discussions with Moscow, the Washington Post and New York Times said.

    Mr Kushner, a senior White House aide, has not commented.

    He is said to be under scrutiny by the FBI as part of its inquiry into Russian interference favouring Mr Trump’s win.

    What did Kushner do?

    The most recent reports – which cited unnamed US officials as sources – said Mr Kushner had spoken with Moscow’s Ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, about setting up a back channel using Russian diplomatic facilities in America.

    The meeting was held in early December at Trump Tower in New York – Mr Trump’s power base.

    According to both reports, Mr Trump’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn was present at the meeting.

    The secret channel was supposed to be used to discuss Syria and other policy issues during the transition period between Mr Trump’s election in November and his inauguration in January 2017.

    The Washington Post says the proposal surprised Mr Kislyak as it meant Americans using Russian facilities at their diplomatic missions in the US.

    The New York Times said the line was never established.

    What’s unusual about a direct line to Moscow?

    The US and Moscow have always had a hotline – popularly referred to as the Red Phone, even though it was not a telephone. This was meant to enable the two superpowers to avoid nuclear catastrophe during the Cold War.

    Mr Kushner appears to be proposing a similar set-up.

    But what is unusual is that this would be a channel using Russian hardware.

    So this would have been outside official communications normally used by a team about to assume the leadership of the US – meaning US leaders were using Russian channels instead of their own.

    And, significantly, these communications would not form part of documented US policy-making.

    Is the timing significant?

    Very.

    Remember that Russian allegations of interference to sway the election in favour of Donald Trump emerged in May 2016 with the first reports of hackers targeting the Democratic Party.

    What followed were reports that US intelligence agencies had traced the breaches back to Russian hackers. In August, Wikileaks released 20,000 internal emails of members of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), stolen by the hackers.

    Mr Trump’s then campaign manager, Paul Manafort, resigned after being accused of accepting millions of dollars in cash for representing Russian interests in Ukraine and US.

    Meanwhile Trump has been trying to discredit the intelligence agencies and plug the leaks which are exposing these very suspicious activities!

    It looks as if impeachment procedures are well overdue!

  60. It seems that Trump’s advisors on national security are as useless as his advisors on environmental protection!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40073951

    Senior US advisers have refused to answer questions about Donald Trump’s son-in-law, following reports that Jared Kushner tried to set up a secret communication line with Moscow.

    National Security Adviser HR McMaster said backchannel communications between different governments was normal.

    Economic adviser Gary Cohn said: “We’re not going to comment on Jared.”

    Mr Kushner is said to be under scrutiny as part of the FBI inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    Reports in the US say investigators believe he has relevant information, but he is not necessarily suspected of a crime.

    On Friday, the Washington Post and New York Times reported that Mr Kushner had wanted to use Russian facilities to avoid US interception of discussions with Moscow.

    Lt Gen McMaster refused to comment on the specific reports against Mr Kushner, but said that he would not be concerned if a government official set up a secret line with Moscow.

    “We have backchannel communications with any number of individual [countries]… what that allows you to do is communicate in a discreet manner.”

    “I would not be concerned about it.”

    Mr Kushner reportedly took part in discussions about a backchannel with Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, in December.

    At the time, Mr Kushner was a private citizen, but working in Mr Trump’s transition team.

    While US government departments do set up secure lines with foreign leaders, it is unusual for a transition team to do so, Washington Post reports.

    The backchannel would also have been unusual as it would have used Russian hardware at its embassies in the US, the report added.

  61. Well everything seems to be back to “normal” in the USA now Trump is back home. He’s busy tweeting that everything in the press is fake news over and over again but it’s getting awfully stale now. He’s alienated most of NATO and Merkel has called for Europe to do its own thing as the USA can’t be relied on. Macron of France is right with her and it seems his handshake with Trump I commented on above was quite deliberate. He had planned to stick it to Trump beforehand and crush his tiny hand until Trump gave up which he did. Kudos to the guy.

    4 months in and America is now the world’s pariah apart from with other dictators. A new world order could be starting. Brexit could not possibly have come at a worse time because now the UK has lost much of its standing in Europe and might be stuck with trying to cozy up to this mental case Trump. I wonder if Theresa May is going to do the lapdog thing with Trump like Tony Blair did with Bush and embarrass us all again.

  62. I can honestly say I’ve never spent so much time and effort trying to understand another person’s mental state as I have with Trump. I’m not much of a people person at the best of times so this does not come naturally to me but I’ve been surprised at the insights I’ve gained even if some of the answers remain elusive. I think another key to the puzzle fell into place recently though.

    6 months ago I was naive enough to still faintly wonder if Trump could change enough to rise to the gravity of the office. We now know he can’t. It occurs to me that most people change because they learn by their mistakes and by facing the consequences of their actions. I now realise that Trump has never actually faced the consequences of any of his actions. That’s not to say that every action didn’t have a consequence, which they all did – but Trump has never faced any. His narcissism means he can either view failures as a success or even if he admits failure it’s still other people’s fault. He maintains this by almost never doing anything where the blame can only fall on him alone. Everything is done via subordinates. That’s why he wouldn’t pitch the first ball this season. If it sucked there was no one else to blame.

    A man who can’t learn from his mistakes is doomed to repeat them. Other than his base property empire nearly all of Trump’s other ventures have been abject failures. Casinos, Trump University, steaks, wine. But all were done with other people’s money, Trump rarely risks his own, and so again he never had to face any consequences. An analysis I saw recently calculated that during his career Trump has lost about 6 billion dollars of other people’s money. His own net worth might only be a few hundred million rather than the billions he claims. He actually lost a court case trying to prove he was a billionaire which indicates he probably never has been one even though he claims net assets of about 10 billion.

    If his tax returns get revealed by subpoena then the bubble will burst. I suspect he’s more worried about this than any other aspect of the Russia investigation which I’m guessing will never come up with criminal charges against him personally because he’s well enough insulated via subordinates doing the actual dirty work.

    How Kuschner pans out is going to be fascinating though. What happens if Trump has to throw his own son-in-law under the bus to save his own skin? He loses his daughter perhaps as well as the wife who is already suspected of hating him anyway. If he resigns the presidency he loses the immunity the office gives him from almost everything short of impeachment, which is never going to happen, so he’s stuck there even if he hates doing the job and is hopelessly inadequate to its demands. Every day that goes by reveals more of his incompetence and there’s a lot of days still to go in 3 years and 8 months. I surmised before that he would burn in this spotlight like a moth in a candle flame. All that remains to see is how quickly.

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