Friday, November 22, 2019

Last Call For Russian To Judgment, Con't

President Donald Trump's criticisms of NATO have been one of the most concerning elements of his presidency to date for career diplomats and Pentagon officials.

A new book written by an anonymous White House insider published this week has shed further light on the president's aversion to the Cold War-era alliance, alleging Trump claimed the U.S. is "getting raped" by its allies and pushed to ditch the accord.

A Warning, by Anonymous, was published earlier this week. It is written by the same unnamed White House official who authored an op-ed for The New York Times last year, claiming to be part of "the resistance" against Trump within his own administration, working to frustrate much of the president's policy agenda.

A portion of the book is dedicated to Trump's belligerent stance on NATO. Since coming into office, the president has repeatedly maligned the alliance and its members, accusing members of not spending enough on joint defense and suggesting the transatlantic bloc is no longer fit for purpose.

Trump even publicly questioned Article 5, the cornerstone of the alliance which requires NATO nations to come to the defense of a member if it is attacked. The article has only been involved once in NATO's 70-year history, by the U.S. following the 9/11 attacks.

According to Anonymous, Trump "has repeatedly astounded advisors" by suggesting he wishes to withdraw from NATO, which is underpinned by American money and military might.

"This would be a huge gift to the Russians, who have long opposed the twenty-nine nation group," Anonymous wrote

Anonymous may be a coward and an enabler, but I absolutely believe that a second-term Trump will do to Eastern Europe and Germany what he's already done to Syrian Kurds and walk away from NATO as an alliance, turning everything over to the EU to deal with while we leave the region militarily.

Trump has repeatedly attacked NATO and repeatedly said he wants to cut funding, if not end it. Ukraine's Crimea invaded by Moscow is a trial run.  Putin wants the old Soviet states back.

If Trump is reelected, Putin will get them. Trump will gladly hand them over.

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

The Republican party only exists to enable Donald Trump to do the things they've wanted to do for decades now, namely reverse the Civil Rights and Voting Rights era and to return the country back to the historical norms as a white supremacist regime.  Paul Krugman on the Death Cult of Trumpism:

Formally, the House of Representatives is holding an inquiry into the question of whether Donald J. Trump should be impeached. In reality, we’ve known the answer to that question for a long time. In a different era, when both parties believed in the Constitution, Trump’s abuse of his position for personal gain would have led to his removal from office long ago.

No, what we’re actually witnessing is a test of the depths to which the Republican Party will sink. How much corruption, how much collusion with foreign powers and betrayal of the national interest will that party’s elected representatives stand for?

And the result of that test seems increasingly clear: There is no bottom. The inquiry hasn’t found a smoking gun; it has found what amounts to a smoking battery of artillery. Yet almost no partisan Republicans have turned on Trump and his high-crimes-and-misdemeanors collaborators. Why not?

The answer gets to the heart of what’s wrong with modern American politics: The G.O.P. is now a thoroughly corrupt party. Trump is a symptom, not the disease, and our democracy will remain under dire threat even if and when he’s gone.

Even if Trump resigned this weekend, the damage he has done to the country will most likely outlive myself.  It will take us decades just to get back to the relative progressiveness of say, 2013.

The usual explanation you hear for G.O.P. acquiescence in Trumpian malfeasance is that elected Republicans fear being defeated in a primary if they show any hint of wavering. And that’s certainly an important part of the story.

Republicans haven’t forgotten what happened in 2014, when David Brat, a Tea Party insurgent, ousted Eric Cantor, at the time the House majority leader. Cantor was a hard-line conservative, but mild-mannered in affect, and perceived as soft on immigration. The lesson was that the G.O.P. base demands red meat, and these days that means supporting Trump no matter what.

But electoral fears aren’t the only thing keeping Republicans in line.

On one side, I don’t think most observers realize, even now, the extent to which many Republicans view their domestic opponents not as fellow citizens but as enemies with no legitimate right to govern.

William Barr, the attorney general, says that progressives are “militant secularists” out to “destroy the traditional moral order.” If that’s how you see the world, you’ll support anything — up to and including soliciting and/or extorting intervention by foreign powers in U.S. elections — that helps defeat those progressives

I've been saying this for years.  Republicans want to make sure that non-Christians, non-whites, LGBTQ+ folks, women, and immigrants are second-class citizens, legally, morally, and socially. I keep referring to the Republic of Gilead, the fictional dystopia of the Handmaid's Tale, for a reason.

It's not fiction any longer.  It's a civil planning manual.

For those to the manor-born, the safety of being the right people.  For the rest of us, we are tolerated only as long as we support the system.  The second we speak out against the arrangement, we become enemies of the state.

We are only subject to rights as long as they are earned by being one of the good ones. Everyone else is a traitor.  The GOP wants this so badly they can taste it.  They'll never turn on Trump, because he is letting them do whatever they want, and they win as long as they continue to support him.

Tens of millions of Americans now support a criminal enterprise out of necessity, failure to do so means they will be destroyed by the monster they created.

Lowering The Barr, Con't

With the twin investigations into the investigators by Trump's personal lawyer AG Bill Barr almost complete, we're already getting leaks about what the report contains as the regime's efforts to get impeachment off of America's front pages goes into overdrive.

There's little doubt now that another round of big font type headlines like this will end Trump's regime, so the subject is being changed.

A former FBI lawyer is under criminal investigation after allegedly altering a document related to 2016 surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser, several people briefed on the matter told CNN.
The possibility of a substantive change to an investigative document is likely to fuel accusations from President Donald Trump and his allies that the FBI committed wrongdoing in its investigation of connections between Russian election meddling and the Trump campaign. 
The finding is expected to be part of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's review of the FBI's effort to obtain warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide. Horowitz will release the report next month. 
Horowitz turned over evidence on the allegedly altered document to John Durham, the federal prosecutor appointed early this year by Attorney General William Barr to conduct a broad investigation of intelligence gathered for the Russia probe by the CIA and other agencies, including the FBI. The altered document is also at least one focus of Durham's criminal probe. 
It's unknown how significant a role the altered document played in the FBI's investigation of Page and whether the FISA warrant would have been approved without the document. The alterations were significant enough to have shifted the document's meaning and came up during a part of Horowitz's FISA review where details were classified, according to the sources. 
Some witnesses who have been interviewed in Horowitz's investigation have said they expect the inspector general to find mistakes in the FBI's handling of the FISA process, but that those mistakes do not undermine the premise for the FBI's investigation. 
American intelligence agencies and the Justice Department have not swayed from their finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election by hacking the Democrats and spreading pro-Trump propaganda online. And even former top Trump campaign officials have corroborated special counsel Robert Mueller's finding that the Trump campaign planned some of its strategy around the Russian hacks, and had multiple contacts with Kremlin-linked individuals in 2016. 
Horowitz's investigators conducted more than 100 witness interviews in their review. During one of interviews this year, they confronted the witness about the document. The witness admitted to the change, the sources said. 
The identity or rank of the FBI employee under investigation isn't yet known, and it's not clear whether the employee still works in the federal government. No charges that could reflect the situation have been filed publicly in court. 
The Justice Department and inspector general's office declined to comment. 

So now it becomes a race, which happens first, House Democrats vote on and pass articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, or Barr starts indicting Russia collusion investigators in an obvious attempt to derail impeachment?

Ahh, but Trump and company are getting a major assist from Sen. Lindsey Graham.  The Senate has their part to play in this mess too, and if Trump can't convince Ukraine to investigate Biden, then Lackey Lindsey will.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday requesting documents related to former vice president Joe Biden and his communications with Ukrainian officials, a step seen as a GOP effort to counter the House impeachment investigation of President Trump.

The inquiry by Graham (R-S.C.) is focused on any calls Biden may have had with Petro Poroshenko, then the Ukrainian president, regarding the firing of the country’s top prosecutor, as well as any that referenced an investigation of Burisma, the Ukrainian natural-gas company that employed Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

Graham’s document request suggests he is seeking to legitimize Trump’s accusations that Biden, then vice president, put pressure on Ukraine to fire its lead prosecutor to protect his son, a claim without evidence that has been disputed by officials familiar with the investigation. 
Graham, one of Trump’s fiercest defenders on Capitol Hill, told The Washington Post in late October that he was under intense pressure to launch an investigation into Biden by Trump and his allies.

But he said he would not “turn the Senate into a circus” and would instead focus his committee’s work on the investigation into the Justice Department’s launch of the Russia investigation.

Taylor Reidy, a spokeswoman for Graham, said the senator is now seeking the documents because “Adam Schiff and the House Intel Committee have made it clear they will not look into the issues about Hunter Biden and Burisma.” Rep. Schiff (D-Calif.) is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

“Graham is requesting documents which could shed additional light on that issue and hopes they will be able to answer some of the outstanding questions,” she said.

We're coming up on the crossroads.  The second week of December is when the House is expected to vote on impeachment before the holidays.  Barr is going to wreck as much as he can in order to try to save his boss, and Graham is going to flood the zone with bullshit hearings and subpoenas in order to counter-program impeachment.

It's going to get truly nasty.


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