Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Last Call For Trump Goes Viral, Con't

At every turn we discover new evidence that the Trump White House was briefed on the dangers of a novel coronavirus pandemic originating in China, and that the warnings came months in advance while the regime did nothing to protect the American people.  Today, it's the fact that US military intelligence picked up on COVID-19 around Thanksgiving.

As far back as late November, U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region
, changing the patterns of life and business and posing a threat to the population, according to four sources briefed on the secret reporting.

Concerns about what is now known to be the novel coronavirus pandemic were detailed in a November intelligence report by the military's National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), according to two officials familiar with the document’s contents.

The report was the result of analysis of wire and computer intercepts, coupled with satellite images. It raised alarms because an out-of-control disease would pose a serious threat to U.S. forces in Asia -- forces that depend on the NCMI’s work. And it paints a picture of an American government that could have ramped up mitigation and containment efforts far earlier to prepare for a crisis poised to come home.

"Analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event," one of the sources said of the NCMI’s report. "It was then briefed multiple times to" the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff and the White House.
From that warning in November, the sources described repeated briefings through December for policy-makers and decision-makers across the federal government as well as the National Security Council at the White House. All of that culminated with a detailed explanation of the problem that appeared in the President’s Daily Brief of intelligence matters in early January, the sources said. For something to have appeared in the PDB, it would have had to go through weeks of vetting and analysis, according to people who have worked on presidential briefings in both Republican and Democratic administrations.

"The timeline of the intel side of this may be further back than we’re discussing," the source said of preliminary reports from Wuhan. "But this was definitely being briefed beginning at the end of November as something the military needed to take a posture on."

So the Trump regime had more than three months to do something, not two, and they downplayed it, lied, and did nothing instead.

And now 2,000 Americans a day are dying from the virus.  Many, many more deaths are coming.

House Democrats are finally starting to ask questions about the federal response and the role Trump's family is playing in it.

Two Democratic House committee leaders are demanding answers from the Trump administration about Jared Kushner's role in directing and redirecting the flow of life-saving medical equipment among private companies, various levels of government and hospitals in need.

The demand came in a letter sent Tuesday, the day the Kushner-backed supply chain task force abandoned its "war room" at the Federal Emergency Management Agency's headquarters following the revelation that a "partner" of the agency who worked in the area had tested positive for coronavirus. The letter was sent by Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., to FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor, giving an April 15 due date to provide files related to the efforts of Kushner, the president's senior adviser and son-in-law.

The White House has routinely ignored requests from Congress for information, and Trump was impeached by the House last year in part for directing aides to block House investigators from obtaining testimony and documents from the administration. He was acquitted by the Senate in February.

NBC News' requests for comment from FEMA, the White House and Kushner's team on the lawmakers' letter went unanswered.

Thompson, chair of the Homeland Security Committee, and Maloney, chair of the Oversight and Government Committee, are seeking "all communications between any FEMA employee and Jared Kushner regarding the acquisition, distribution of, or federally directed sale of any form of PPE or of medical supplies and equipment to be used for the diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19," according to the letter.

Of course the Trump regime will ignore it.  Trump will go back to screaming about "Witch hunts!" and it'll work just like it did three months ago.

The Last Hat Leaves The Ring

Well, sort of.

Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign, he announced on Wednesday, leaving former Vice President Joe Biden as the apparent Democratic presidential nominee.

"I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful, and so today I am announcing the suspension of my campaign," Sanders told supporters in a livestream, saying he wished he could provide supporters with "better news" but "I think you know the truth."

"We are now some 300 delegates behind Vice President Biden and the path to victory is virtually impossible," he said. Sanders called Biden "a very decent man who I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward."

Calling the decision "difficult and painful," Sanders said he had to make an "honest assessment of the prospects for victory."

He added that he understands some supporters who want him to fight on through the convention, but he could not "in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour" as the COVID-19 outbreak grips the nation.

He pledged to have significant influence over the party platform this summer, as he did during the 2016 convention. He pointed to policies like a $15 minimum wage, which has been picked up in some states and cities since he first began campaigning for it at the presidential level five years ago, as evidence that his progressive platform is winning.

It's good to see him accept reality.  I fully expected him to stay on through whatever virtual train wreck the convention would be at this point, but he's going to settle for fighting his battle on the platform and making Biden's better.

But he'll still never endorse Joe.  He never really endorsed Hillary either, saying he would do everything to help her win in July of that year and then famously telling his own voters bitterly that they were released to "their own conscience" .

I expect more of the same.

Retribution Execution, Con't

House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff is sending up a warning flag to see if Donald Trump will continue his run of firing and replacing various inspectors general watchdogs in the regime with loyalists, Trump has already fired two in the last five days.  Greg Sargent:

After President Trump fired the inspector general of the intelligence community, he didn’t bother disguising his true reason for doing so: because that IG had conducted his lawful duties in a manner that resulted in Trump being held accountable for his misdeeds and corruption.

As Trump himself put it, Michael Atkinson, the fired IG, had done a “terrible job.” How so? Easy: Atkinson had evaluated the whistleblower complaint exposing Trump’s Ukraine shakedown scheme with procedural correctness.

“He took a fake report and he brought it to Congress,” Trump said. That’s what Atkinson was supposed to do, and the complaint turned out to be almost entirely accurate, leading to Trump getting justly impeached over the extraordinary misconduct that came out as a result.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) just announced that the House Intelligence Committee, which he chairs, will be examining Trump’s firing of Atkinson. And buried in Schiff’s letter making this announcement is an unsettling glimpse of where all this could be going.
hiff’s letter, which is addressed to acting director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, expresses Schiff’s concern that Grenell is politicizing that office on Trump’s behalf, noting that every Senate-confirmed person in the DNI has been removed.

Schiff’s letter argues that Atkinson “acted with the highest integrity and remarkable professionalism,” while being subjected to a campaign of attacks by Trump and his allies simply for adhering to his oath of office.

Notably, in the section announcing the investigation of Atkinson’s dismissal, Schiff calls on Grenell to confirm in writing whether he ever exercised his “authority” to “prohibit” any other “investigation, inspection, audit, or review” that Atkinson might have undertaken.

Schiff’s letter also calls on Grenell to stipulate in writing that he “will not permit retaliation or reprisals against anyone who has made, or in the future makes, protected disclosures of misconduct.”

Who might make such reprisals against such protected disclosures? Why, one Donald J. Trump, of course.

Those are very suggestive moves by Schiff. They in effect throw down the gauntlet and challenge Grenell not to stipulate to those things.

Ned Price, a former senior National Security Council official and CIA analyst, told me that if Grenell refuses to make these stipulations — which is plausible if not likely — it will underscore how abnormal this administration truly is.

“His decision not to answer would be incredibly telling,” Price said.
Price added that a failure on Grenell’s part to state that he hadn’t interfered in any other ongoing investigations, or a refusal to pledge to defend employees in the future, might signal a willingness to allow Trump to proceed with a “campaign of retaliation.”

Putting Grenell on the spot is the right move, but it's not like House Dems have been able to do much to actually keep Trump from continuing his retribution campaign.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could use a "phase 4" COVID-19 bill to deliver oversight, but Trump has already said he'd completely ignore the oversight put in the third COVID-19 bill.

Trump continues to have the full support of the Senate GOP, who have already said that Trump has every right to dismiss any and every inspector general working "for him".

“Obviously those people serve at the pleasure of the president and as is usually the case, it’s not something that we have any control over,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the GOP whip. “The president made it pretty clear why he did. But he has the prerogative. We don’t always have to agree with his actions. As we’ve learned in the past he’s going to do what he’s to do.”

Thune said it was too early to assess whether the firing was unwarranted: “I want to talk to the people who are close to it and get some context on it. I don’t understand it at this point. But that’s a question for another day when I can figure out what went into it.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who presided over a pro forma session of the Senate on Monday morning, also said more information was needed.

“I think we should get more detail. I agree with that,” she said. “It’s such an odd time it’s hard to say how we’re going to get that info — I mean, you know what kind of priority that information is going to have — but I think that’ll all come out.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a top Trump ally, said he was more consumed with reforming the foreign surveillance courts than Atkinson’s firing. But he also made clear it didn’t trouble him, either: “I don’t necessarily have any issues with it.”

“My view is that this is the president’s decision, it’s a decision that’s his to make. It doesn’t give me enormous heartburn,” Hawley said in an interview on Monday. “It’s not the main issue.”

Trump will continue to use COVID-19 to destroy democracy.  The GOP Senate will let him do whatever he wants.

Nobody can or will stop him.


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