Monday, January 29, 2018

Last Call For The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Yet another major retirement from the House GOP today ahead of primary season as Republicans cash out from the Big Casino, this time it's House Appropriations chair Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) will retire at the end of his term, he announced Monday, opening up another swing district ahead of the 2018 elections. 
“Today as I announce my retirement at the end of this session of Congress, I want to use the opportunity to strongly encourage the many young people I meet to consider public service,” he said in a Monday statement. “I thank my friends and colleagues with whom I have served.”

Frelinghuysen’s retirement opens up a suburban northern New Jersey seat, boosting Democrats’ chances at winning it in what’s shaping up to be a good year for the party and marking the latest in a string of GOP retirements that have further damaged the party’s chances at holding onto the House. President Trump won the district by just a one-point margin after Mitt Romney carried it by six in 2012, and Democrats had already planned to target it this fall. 
He’s the latest senior Republican to decide to head for the exits — and the eighth GOP committee chairman who’s decided to hang things up. Unlike other powerful committee chairmen, Frelinghuysen just won his chairmanship and could continue to serve as chairman for five more years. That makes his retirement is especially notable — a strong sign that his decision was driven by the political headwinds Republicans face this year. 
A whopping 24 House Republicans have announced their retirements or already resigned this Congress who aren’t running for higher office, compared with just seven Democrats. That retirement rate is even higher than ahead of previous wave elections like 2010, 2006 and 1994.

Frelinghuysen jumping ship is pretty much the biggest tell yet that Republicans know they will lose the House in 2018.  He's one of the last Republicans left who came in riding Newt's Contract With America wave in '94 after his Republican predecessor Dean Gallo died and has since held off all challengers in a comfortably red suburban district in north Jersey...comfortably red until 2016 that is.  Trump won by only a point, Frelinghuysen won 58-39% however.

He's not a stupid guy, he has a lot of clout in the state (especially as Appropriations chair in representing a state like NJ, much like Hal Rogers did prior here in Kentucky) and he knows what a freight train barreling towards him looks like. If he thought he was going to remain Appropriations chair, he would have stayed. You don't just walk out on that spot getting a huge say where the government's money goes in America.

But he's walking out on that spot anyway when he would have probably won reelection by double digits, even in a blue wave scenario. That should tell you how much trouble the GOP is in.  If a numbers guy like Frelinghuysen is out, then the numbers are bad, bad bad.

They're taking the money and running...away, not for office.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

In the wake of last week's revelations that Trump wanted to fire Robert Mueller back in June (and the dark comedy that was Trump calling the report "fake news" and then failing completely to deny the actual allegations) we now see the regime's counterattack: to go after the DoJ official who appointed Mueller in the first place: Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein.

A secret, highly contentious Republican memo reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved an application to extend surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate shortly after taking office last spring, according to three people familiar with it. 
The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent. But the reference to Mr. Rosenstein’s actions in the memo — a much-disputed document that paints the investigation into Russian election meddling as tainted from the start — indicates that Republicans may be moving to seize on his role as they seek to undermine the inquiry. 
The memo’s primary contention is that F.B.I. and Justice Department officials failed to adequately explain to an intelligence court judge in initially seeking a warrant for surveillance of Mr. Page that they were relying in part on research by an investigator, Christopher Steele, that had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. 
Democrats who have read the document say Republicans have cherry-picked facts to create a misleading and dangerous narrative. But in their efforts to discredit the inquiry, Republicans could potentially use Mr. Rosenstein’s decision to approve the renewal to suggest that he failed to properly vet a highly sensitive application for a warrant to spy on Mr. Page, who served as a Trump foreign policy adviser until September 2016.

A handful of senior Justice Department officials can approve an application to the secret surveillance court, but in practice that responsibility often falls to the deputy attorney general. No information has publicly emerged that the Justice Department or the F.B.I. did anything improper while seeking the surveillance warrant involving Mr. Page. 
Mr. Trump has long been mistrustful of Mr. Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, who appointed the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and now oversees his investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and possible obstruction of justice by the president. Mr. Trump considered firing Mr. Rosenstein last summer. Instead, he ordered Mr. Mueller to be fired, then backed down after the White House counsel refused to carry out the order, The New York Times reported last week. 
Mr. Trump is now again telling associates that he is frustrated with Mr. Rosenstein, according to one official familiar with the conversations.

Again, the GOP plan here is to paint the FISA warrants on foreign nationals who were involved with members of the Trump campaign as "illegal FISA surveillance on the Trump campaign" itself.  As such, anyone involved in approval for the surveillance is part of the "Obama Deep State" and must be purged from the Department of Justice.  Retaliatory idiocy on the part of Trump has claimed several people in the DoJ and FBI, Sally Yates, Preet Bhrahra, James Comey, and now FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe stepped down Monday, multiple sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. 
McCabe will remain on the FBI payroll until he is eligible to retire with full benefits in mid-March, the sources said. 
One source familiar said McCabe was exercising his retirement eligibility and characterized his decision as "stepping aside." 
McCabe has been at the center of ongoing tensions between the White House and the FBI and has reportedly been under pressure to quit from President Donald Trump, whose campaign is being investigated for possible collusion with Russia.

McCabe was forced out, no question.  Trump is systematically firing civil servants who move to question his wrongdoing.  If Obama had fired anyone in the FBI who was investigating his campaign, Republicans would have delivered articles of impeachment before the end of the day.  Now, government workers, even Republicans like Comey and McCabe, are all suspects to be purged.

This is how Trump is planning to justify cause to fire Rod Rosenstein, and appoint a new Deputy AG who will fire Mueller. saying that the FISA surveillance is "fruit of the poisoned tree"  He will be purged too just like McCabe..  And no, Republicans in Congress aren't going to lift a finger to protect Mueller when Rosenstein's replacement fires him.

Republican lawmakers warned President Trump on Sunday not to fire Robert S. Mueller III, but showed little sense of urgency to advance long-stalled legislation to protect the special counsel despite a report that Mr. Trump had tried to remove him last June. 
“I don’t think there’s a need for legislation right now to protect Mueller,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House majority leader, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press. “Right now there’s not an issue. So why create one when there isn’t a place for it?” 
Mr. McCarthy’s comments, similar to those made earlier by other Republicans, come amid bipartisan outrage over a report last week in The New York Times that Mr. Trump sought in June to fire Mr. Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. 
The president backed down only after Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, threatened to quit rather than execute Mr. Trump’s order. 
Democrats immediately seized on the report, saying they would try to ensure that continuing budget negotiations included legislation to protect the special counsel. But on Sunday, even Republicans who have backed such a bill appeared to settle instead on providing a warning to the president. 
“It’s pretty clear to me that everybody in the White House knows it would be the end of President Trump’s presidency if he fired Mr. Mueller,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

The FISA surveillance nonsense is justification for Republicans to back Trump when he tries to fire Rosenstein and eventually Mueller.  I don't believe a word Sen. Graham says about the Trump regime being "over" if Mueller is fired.  Luckily, Mueller's isn't the only investigation in town, and Trump knows it.

Congress late last year received “extraordinarily important new documents” in its investigation of President Donald Trump and his campaign’s possible collusion with the 2016 Russian election hacking, opening up significant new lines of inquiry in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe of the president, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) says in an exclusive new interview.

Warner, the intel committee’s top Democrat, says “end-of-the-year document dumps” produced “very significant” revelations that “opened a lot of new questions” that Senate investigators are now looking into, meaning the inquiry into Trump and the Russia hacking—already nearly a year old—will not be finished for months longer. “We’ve had new information that raises more questions,” Warner says in the interview, an extensive briefing on the state of the Senate’s Trump-Russia probe for The Global Politico, our weekly podcast on world affairs. 
Warner also warns about a “coordinated” attack by the president and “Trump zealots” in the House of Representatives to undermine the legitimacy of the investigations against him, an effort Warner says includes the president’s threats to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and other officials as well as a secret Republican memo alleging “shocking” FBI surveillance abuse against Trump that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is now threatening to release. Warner calls out Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in arguably more explicit terms than any Democrat has yet, saying he has read the underlying classified material used in the memo and that Nunes misrepresented it as part of a McCarthyite “secret Star Chamber” effort to discredit the FBI probe of the president. 
“We’re seeing this coordinated effort to try to impede the investigation,” Warner says. The Nunes memo, which is apparently drawn from information contained in the same late-2017 document dumps that has caused the Senate panel to expand its inquiry, is based on “fabrications” and “connecting dots that don’t connect,” Warner asserts.

The battle continues apace.

Trump Mobile: The Only Choice

It's no secret that China, Russia, and the US are constantly trying to hack each other's networks to get data and gather intelligence, and that's both easier and more difficult as more of the world goes to mobile internet as their access of choice.  As the big mobile carriers start building the latest generation of mobile infrastructure, it appears the Trump regime wants the country connected to it quickly and securely...and that apparently means nationalizing new 5G cell tower networks.

Trump national security officials are considering an unprecedented federal takeover of a portion of the nation’s mobile network to guard against China, according to sensitive documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: We’ve got our hands on a PowerPoint deck and a memo — both produced by a senior National Security Council official — which were presented recently to senior officials at other agencies in the Trump administration.

The main points: The documents say America needs a centralized nationwide 5G network within three years. There'll be a fierce debate inside the Trump administration — and an outcry from the industry — over the next 6-8 months over how such a network is built and paid for.

Two options laid out by the documents:

The U.S. government pays for and builds the single network — which would be an unprecedented nationalization of a historically private infrastructure.

An alternative plan where wireless providers build their own 5G networks that compete with one another — though the document says the downside is it could take longer and cost more. It argues that one of the “pros” of that plan is that it would cause “less commercial disruption” to the wireless industry than the government building a network.
Between the lines: A source familiar with the documents' drafting says Option 2 is really no option at all: a single centralized network is what's required to protect America against China and other bad actors.

The source said the internal White House debate will be over whether the U.S. government owns and builds the network or whether the carriers bind together in a consortium to build the network, an idea that would require them to put aside their business models to serve the country's greater good.

Why it matters: Option 1 would lead to federal control of a part of the economy that today is largely controlled by private wireless providers. In the memo, the Trump administration likens it to "the 21st century equivalent of the Eisenhower National Highway System" and says it would create a “new paradigm” for the wireless industry by the end of Trump's current term.

But, but, but: The proposal to nationalize a 5G network also only covers one part of the airwaves; there’d be other spaces where private companies could build.

The PowerPoint presentation says that the U.S. has to build superfast 5G wireless technology quickly because “China has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure,” and “China is the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain.” To illustrate the current state of U.S. wireless networks, the PowerPoint uses a picture of a medieval walled city, compared to a future represented by a photo of lower Manhattan.

The best way to do this, the memo argues, is for the government to build a network itself. It would then rent access to carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. (A source familiar with the document's drafting told Axios this is an "old" draft and a newer version is neutral about whether the U.S. government should build and own it.)

This seems like the kind of thing the Trump regime wanted to slip into Trump's infrastructure bill without too many people noticing.  We already know the Trump regime is virulently against net neutrality principles, so what happens when the government controls your access to your mobile device, access that will only become more and more important in the future?

The first tell here that this doesn't pass the smell test is that the Trump regime wants to nationalize 5G to save us from China, not Russia.  The second is that other leaked details from the Trump infrastructure plan make it clear that the regime wants to take the Eisenhower Highway System that they reference in the 5G nationalization plan and turn it into the American Toll Road Turnpike Alliance.

President Donald Trump won the White House promising a $1 trillion, 10-year blueprint to rebuild America — an initiative he said would create millions of jobs while making the nation’s highways, bridges, railroad and airports “second to none.”

But the infrastructure plan he's poised to pitch in Tuesday’s State of the Union is already drawing comparisons to the The Hunger Games.

Instead of the grand, New Deal-style public works program that Trump's eye-popping price tag implies, Democratic lawmakers and mayors fear the plan would set up a vicious, zero-sum scramble for a relatively meager amount of federal cash — while forcing cities and states to scrounge up more of their own money, bringing a surge of privately financed toll roads, and shredding regulations in the name of building projects faster.

The federal share of the decade-long program would be $200 billion, a sum Trump himself concedes is "not a large amount." The White House contends it would lure a far larger pool of state, local and private money off the sidelines, steering as much as $1.8 trillion to needs as diverse as highways, rural broadband service, drinking water systems and veterans hospitals. (Maybe even commercial spaceflight, one recently leaked draft suggests.)

The Trumpies want to force states to cough up 80-90% of the trillion or two it will take to rebuild America's road, bridge, water, power and rail infrastructure and essentially privatize it...but they want to nationalize the cellular network?

None of this sounds cool.


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