Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Attorney Renato Mariotti doesn't think Nunes will get called up by Mueller

That'll be a crying shame.


I wonder if this will alter Mariotti's impression:


I'd say that sounds like Nunes being involved in the obstruction business.  Don't know what Swalwell knows, but I sure hope Nunes gets fitted for the orange jumpsuit too.

Holy shit, can you take any more?

If not, don't read this post.  It concerns the flight on which Trump Sr. crafted a letter for Trump Jr. to lie about Russian adoptions in an attempt to cover for his infamous meeting to get dirt on Hillary.
The latest witness to be called for an interview about the episode was Mark Corallo, who served as a spokesman for Mr. Trump’s legal team before resigning in July. Mr. Corallo received an interview request last week from the special counsel and has agreed to the interview, according to three people with knowledge of the request.


The president supervised the writing of the statement, according to three people familiar with the episode, with input from other White House aides. A fierce debate erupted over how much information the news release should include. Mr. Trump was insistent about including language that the meeting was about Russian adoptions, according to two people with knowledge of the discussion. The president supervised the writing of the statement, according to three people familiar with the episode, with input from other White House aides. A fierce debate erupted over how much information the news release should include. Mr. Trump was insistent about including language that the meeting was about Russian adoptions, according to two people with knowledge of the discussion.


Nearly four hours later, the statement that had been cobbled together aboard Air Force One was sent to The Times. The statement was in Donald Trump Jr.’s name and was issued by Mr. Garten.


The Times published its story about the Trump Tower meeting, with the statement, at 5 p.m. Not long after, the news site Circa published a different version, saying that the June 2016 meeting had been set up “to discuss a Russian policy.” Mr. Corallo, the spokesman for the legal team, said in that story that the Russians had “misrepresented who they were and who they worked for.” He, along with the rest of the president’s legal team, was not consulted about Donald Trump Jr.’s statement before it was released.


Accusations began flying that the botched response made an already bad situation worse. Ms. Hicks called Mr. Corallo from Air Force One, according to three people who relayed his version of events to The Times. She accused him of trafficking in conspiracy theories and drawing more attention to the story.

The conference call with the president, Mr. Corallo and Ms. Hicks took place the next morning, and what transpired on the call is a matter of dispute.

In Mr. Corallo’s account — which he provided contemporaneously to three colleagues who later gave it to The Times — he told both Mr. Trump and Ms. Hicks that the statement drafted aboard Air Force One would backfire because documents would eventually surface showing that the meeting had been set up for the Trump campaign to get political dirt about Mrs. Clinton from the Russians.


Mr. Corallo told colleagues that he immediately notified the legal team of the conversation and jotted down notes to memorialize it. He also shared his concerns with Stephen K. Bannon, then the president’s chief strategist.

Mr. Corallo left the job shortly after the phone call.


Contacted on Wednesday, Mr. Corallo said he did not dispute any of the account shared by his colleagues but declined to elaborate further.

One of the few smart ones, he packed his bags.

Has Hicks had her turn with the Mueller team yet? If not, it's coming up real soon.
In a statement on Wednesday, a lawyer for Ms. Hicks strongly denied Mr. Corallo’s allegations.

“As most reporters know, it’s not my practice to comment in response to questions from the media. But this warrants a response,” said the lawyer, Robert P. Trout. “She never said that. And the idea that Hope Hicks ever suggested that emails or other documents would be concealed or destroyed is completely false.”
Is that what she's going to tell Mueller?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Jesus H Christ, is there no bottom to Nunes' depravity?


Just. Wow.

What happened in the HPSCI meeting when voting to release "the memo"

Here's the transcript of the January 29 HPSCI meeting if you want to read it yourself.  (I haven't done so yet.)

And here are some excerpts from a Lawfare Blog summary of the transcript.

Adam Schiff, the lead Democrat on the Committee, made three motions: 1) that a rebuttal memo (the "minority memo") put together by the Dems should be made available to all members of the House, just as the Nunes majority memo was; 2) that the DOJ and FBI should be allowed to review both memos and then recommend to the Committee whether or not the Nunes memo should be released publicly; and 3) that if the Nunes memo gets released, the Dems rebuttal should also be released. All reasonable requests, all voted down by the Republicans.
Schiff emphasizes that only he and Rep. Trey Gowdy have seen the underlying intelligence on which the Nunes memo is based (only members of the Gang of Eight have access to the intelligence, but Gowdy viewed the intelligence for the majority).
I have to wonder if any of this is why Gowdy announced today that he's not going to seek re-election in November. I think it probably does. Either to protect himself, or to avoid what he believes will eventually be an inevitable impeachment. Or maybe he even has more reason.
Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley complains that the [Nunes] memo has distracted the committee from its work on the Russia investigation. [Rep. Mike Conaway (a Republican who has been leading the Russia investigation alongside Schiff in the wake of Nunes’s unofficial recusal)] points out that Steve Bannon is scheduled to come in for a second hearing on Wednesday (this hearing has since been canceled). [...] Schiff notes that the committee has yet to schedule a follow-up hearing with Corey Lewandowski. Nunes chimes in: “This is not a place to discuss the Russia investigation.”
Surely he doesn't mean this Committee, since that's exactly what it's supposed to be doing. He must mean this particular meeting, which is to call a vote on whether to release the Nunes memo.
Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell argues that releasing the memo to the public will breach an agreement between the committee and the Justice Department that “there would be limited access to the mostly highly sensitive of materials as relates to Russia.” [...] Swalwell makes the point that Nunes’s memo risks destroying the relationship between the committee and the intelligence community, making it impossible for the committee to function as an oversight body.
This is the very point ex-intelligence officer Paul Pillar made in his article today on the subject.
All committee members vote in favor [of permitting the entire House access to the minority memo] except Republican Rep. Mike Turner, who was reportedly unable to make it back to Washington in time for the vote.

Nunes then reads into the record a letter from Republican Rep. Peter King calling for the Nunes memo’s public release under House Rule X, clause 11(g). Rep. King speaks in favor of the memo’s publication, noting that FBI Director Christopher Wray discussed the memo with Nunes and Gowdy the day before.

In response to King’s comment regarding Wray, Swalwell asks “what did the FBI say as to dissemination to the public?” He does not receive a response.
This is where Rep. Crawford comes in on TV saying Wray said there were no factual errors in the memo, a bald faced lie, as we found out today when the FBI released a statement saying the exact opposite. I have to wonder again if Gowdy decided to get out in part because he knew the GOP body was going to be lying, and he didn't want to get caught in it. Trey Gowdy, who always gave me the creeps, may turn out to be the only smart Republican in the bunch. These guys are on some seriously shaky ground. Orange jumpsuits all 'round, please.
Democratic Rep. Jim Himes asks Nunes whether his memo will be released in full or whether “references to highly classified information” will be redacted. Nunes does not directly answer, but suggests that the memo will be released without redactions, saying only: “We will make the content available.”
Nunes is obviously trying to be obtuse and uncooperative with the Democrats on the Committee.
[Schiff then makes his second motion] to postpone the vote until the FBI and Justice Department can review the Nunes memo in full and brief the committee. Nunes announces that “the Department of Justice and the FBI have been under investigation by this committee for many, many months for FISA abuse and other matters … I would urge my colleagues to vote no, we are not going to be briefed by people that are under investigation by this committee.”
The DOJ and FBI have been under investigation for many, many months? That must have come as a real shock.  We were just told this news after this meeting on Monday. All this time, we were under the impression that the House Intel Committee was investigating possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.  We knew they were going to clear Trump by the way they were conducting the investigation, but we didn't know they were using their time to investigate the FBI instead!
None of the Democrats appear to have been aware of this investigation.
That has to be a very serious violation of the Committee's own rules and procedures. In fact...
Quigley argues that Nunes has violated rule 9(a) of the committee’s rules, which requires the committee to conduct investigations “only if approved by the chair in consultation with the ranking minority member”—meaning Schiff. But Schiff says that this is the first he’s been formally notified of it.
This investigation should be officially disbanded, and Nunes should be sanctioned and removed from his position on the Committee.
Quigley asks Nunes whether he has coordinated the memo with the White House. “As far as I know, no,” says Nunes.
As far as he knows?? Who knows if he doesn't?
Quigley then asks whether any of the majority’s staff have coordinated with the White House. Nunes refuses to answer and cuts him off.
That'll be a "yes" then.

I'm going to assume that at the very least, Mueller will eventually haul Nunes in to the obstruction investigation.*
[Dem Rep. Jim] Himes voices his concern that the committee will apparently be releasing the memo unredacted, noting that “an immense amount of classified information will be available to the public.”


Swalwell suggests that, if Nunes insists that the FBI and Justice Department are under investigation, the committee could pass the memo to an inspector general of another agency for review before its release. He suggests the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Nunes does not respond.
Jesus Christ. Nunes is in very, very deep.
Schiff requests a delay of the memo’s release until after a briefing by the FBI and Justice Department. The Republicans vote it down along party lines. All Democrats vote in favor.
I guess that includes Gowdy. Coward. He's not out of the woods in this, either, if this goes to the obstruction case, no matter whether he retires from office or not. Of course, he could always be "flipped".
Schiff now requests that the minority’s memo be released publicly alongside Nunes’s memo. Conaway says that he will oppose the motion. He would prefer for the minority memo to go through the same process as the Nunes memo: pause for a “time of reflection” after releasing the memo to the House before releasing it to the public.
How handy. The rebuttal has to lag behind. And how long might it take for "reflection" in this amazingly corrupt GOP-led committee?
Schiff argues the majority is behaving hypocritically: the committee’s Republicans criticized Hillary Clinton for what FBI Director James Comey called her “extremely careless” handling of classified information, but they are now planning to vote to release classified information in what the Justice Department called an “extraordinarily reckless” fashion.
Hypocrisy is the least of their crimes.
All present Republicans vote against [the third motion requesting release of the minority memo along with the majority one]. All Democrats vote for it, with the exception of Rep. Jackie Speier, who votes present.
What the hell is Jackie's problem?
Finally, the committee votes on Nunes’s motion to release his memo to the public.

All Republicans present vote in favor—except for Rep. Will Hurd, who has stepped out of the room and will add his “aye” vote retroactively at the end of the meeting. All Democrats vote against making the memo public.

Schiff calls for another vote on his motion to release the minority memo alongside the Nunes memo, now that the committee has voted for the Nunes memo’s release. The vote is the same.

Schiff requests that the transcript of these proceedings be released to the public as soon as possible.
But that's not even the worst...
When Benjamin Wittes and I reached out to the offices of every committee Republican (except Nunes) and asked whether the representatives had faith in the factual conclusions of the memo, only three members of the committee answered in the affirmative (six did not respond to our repeated requests to contact them, and three responded but conspicuously did not answer our question as to the memo’s integrity).
WTF is wrong with these people? It seems the whole of the Republican elite has gone to the dark side. Why would you implicate yourself in such shady, and even illegal, activity? Something is terribly wrong in this government.
[O]f the majority, only Nunes, Conaway and King speak up over the course of the meeting—and Conaway’s points are mostly procedural, not a substantive defense of the memo. Also notable is that Rep. Chris Stewart told us last week that he would support the Nunes memo’s release if sensitive information were redacted, and yet voted for the unredacted memo’s publication. During the meeting, Conaway similarly voiced concerns over publication of classified information—albeit regarding the minority memo—but voted in favor of the unredacted Nunes memo’s release as well.
Un-freaking-believable. This Committee has gone light years beyond being worthless and has stepped over into some very dark territory.


My god, it gets even worse!


UPDATE:  Mike Quigley has posted his interview with Anderson Cooper.


Just. Wow.

A refresher of how the Mueller investigation is operating

This article by Garrett M. Graff for Wired is a pretty good easy-to-understand summary of how things are actually going in the Mueller investigation, despite Nunes (with a nice explanation of that shitshow, too, and some background on Mueller personally) and the GOP.  It's based on the question of what would happen if Mueller got fired.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Ex-HPSCI member* bemoans the current committee

*Correction: Paul Pillar describes himself as an ex-intelligence officer. Sorry for the error.

An important ingredient in building a cooperative relationship has been the committees’ record in protecting classified information, which up to now has been good.

In subsequent years the intensified partisanship that has infected everything else in Congress, especially since the Gingrich revolution in the 1990s, has affected both intelligence committees as well. In recent times the infection has been worse in HPSCI than in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Most recently the problems in HPSCI have centered on the activities of committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA). Nunes once recused himself from anything having to do with investigations into Russia’s relationship with the Trump campaign, after it came to light that Nunes had been functioning as a messenger for the White House on the matter. But he and others now seem to have forgotten that recusal.

HPSCI has become enmeshed in the congressional Republican effort to denigrate the FBI and Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russia matter. That effort obviously is being waged to distract attention from the subject of the investigation and to discredit preemptively any findings unfavorable to the Republican in the White House.

  National Interest
If you're interested in reading the whole thing, the article, by Paul Pillar, who served as an intelligence officer in the 80s, describes what he understands to be the issue in the Nunes memo and how to interpret what is being done with it. It summarizes the points made by an ex-FBI agent in his article about what the memo would need to provide to be considered of any real import.

It's also interesting to me that it's a Republican - Devin Nunes - who's tearing down the trust between the Intel Committee and the FBI/DOJ, whose members are mostly known for their conservative, Republican values.
Among all the other damaging effects of this escapade is that it a may drive a final politicized nail into the coffin of effective oversight of intelligence, at least on the House of Representatives side of Capitol Hill. If this is how a committee majority is to conduct business, and how it is to handle classified information, then neither the American people nor the FBI or other national security agencies have reason any more to believe that effective oversight by this committee is possible.
We had that figured out already.
An irony is that amid all the rhetoric about a deep state and supposed abuses within security agencies, Nunes and company are killing the most effective mechanism that American democracy has for ensuring that such a deep state does not arise and that such abuses do not occur.
So the Trump cabal is actually quite effective at burning down the country. I guess we didn't have a very strong Democracy after all.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

History will not be kind to Devin Nunes

If it is, it's lying.  I expect him to be spoken of with the likes of Joseph McCarthy.

I haven't read it yet, but here's the transcript.  And, here's a Lawfare Blog summary of it.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Rosenstein may be out, Trump desire notwithstanding

I hadn't even considered that. I wonder if it depends on when Mueller wants to question Rosenstein, because he was going to be involved anyway, considering he helped write the memo that fired Comey.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Listen up FBI: If you're not on his team, you're a target

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein visited the White House in December seeking President Donald Trump's help. The top Justice Department official in the Russia investigation wanted Trump's support in fighting off document demands from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.

But the President had other priorities ahead of a key appearance by Rosenstein on the Hill, according to sources familiar with the meeting. Trump wanted to know where the special counsel's Russia investigation was heading. And he wanted to know whether Rosenstein was "on my team."

  • Comey: I need your loyalty.
  • McCabe: Who'd you vote for?
  • Rosenstein: Are you on my team?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The lover who hated Trump

We keep getting stuck unsuccessfully trying to defend the truth with more truth.  I blame Karl Rove.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

And this isn't a national security leak?

A test of the military’s ballistic missile defense system in Hawaii failed on Wednesday — just weeks after a false alarm of a missile attack terrified the state, according to a new report.

“Officials: US missile defense test failed in Hawaii early Weds. Pentagon not publicly acknowledging key ballistic missile defense test failure & officials tell [CNN] there is a decision to not talk about it, in part because of sensitivities surrounding North Korea,” CNN reporter Will Ripley wrote on Twitter.

  NY Post
Well played, somebody. I'm guessing - or maybe that's hoping - the old dotard won't poke at Little Rocket Man for a while.

Is property getting cheaper on the islands?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Hawaii Emergency Alert saga continues

During the investigation, Oliveira said the employee, who had worked at the agency for more than 10 years, had a history of confusing drills and real-world events. In fact, the worker had made similar mistakes twice before, officials said.

Yeah, that's not good. Any real consequences this time?
The head of Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency has resigned and the employee who issued a ballistic missile alert to residents -- causing mass panic for nearly 40 minutes earlier this month -- has been terminated, officials said.


One employee also resigned prior to disciplinary actions being taken and authorities are in the process of suspending another worker without pay, Logan said.

I think every has agreed on that. And I still can't understand how that employee had the authority to send out the alert. Even if that employee had never had any problems before, wouldn't it be a good idea to have to clear such an action with at least one other person?
After the mistake was realized, the employee reportedly “froze” and “seemed confused,” forcing another worker to take over and send a correction, Oliveira said.
That I can believe.
“I do want to say it is astounding that no one was hurt in this accident,” FCC Commissioner Mike O'Reilly said. “This could have been a catastrophe.”
In a way, Hawaiians were lucky. They were getting warning. (Even if that warning, like Orson Welles' infamous radio show, might have led to some traumatic experiences and maybe even deaths.) Arkansans in 1980 didn't get such consideration. Watch Command and Control some time if you want to see what catastrophe this kind of situation could really precipitate. You'll never feel secure again. Never mind North Korea, it's a wonder we haven't blown ourselves up.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

What a time to be without Molly Ivins

Sure do miss you.  Especially now.

Molly Ivins  8/30/44 - 1/31/07

The film makers are raising money to create this documentary.  Go here to follow the progress or to donate.

Google Molly on YouTube and watch any of the videos.  You won't be disappointed.

Ironically challenged Kelly

I don't have any confirmation of this, but I'm going to post it anyway.  Caveat lector.


One of the most embarrassing political flops of 2017 was Donald Trump’s nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White, a longtime fossil-fuel advocate, to direct the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Her confirmation hearing was a disaster, captured for posterity on YouTube. While she made it out of committee on party lines, the full Senate declined to consider her nomination as part of a bipartisan deal.

Now, she’s back.


First, it was revealed that many of her written answers to the committee were apparently cut and pasted, word for word, from the answers submitted by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and his assistant Bill Wehrum.

Then came the hearing itself.

At one point, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse asked White to estimate how much of the excess heat from climate change is stored in the oceans—a detailed question for you or me, but pretty standard for a climate-policy person. White said she didn’t know, but said there were many opinions and “no right answer.”


Whitehouse asked if there was a “serious scientific opinion that it’s below 50 percent.” White said yes. Whitehouse said, “Wow.”

The actual answer is 90 percent, and there is no dispute about that.

Then Sen. Whitehouse asked if White agreed that water expands as it heats, a principle that can be proven on any kitchen stovetop. White said, “I do not have any kind of expertise or even much layman’s study of the ocean dynamics.”


White’s résumé certainly makes her appear to be bright and qualified. Her current title is “distinguished senior fellow in residence and director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & Environment” at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) [a conservative think tank]. Previously, she chaired the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality under Gov. Rick Perry.

  Daily Beast
Well, there you go. Texas.

If you can bear to watch, that first hearing is embedded in the article. How can she not have enough self-respect to forego another round? Maybe she thinks they'll ask the same questions and she can have studied for the exam.

I don't trust the Senate to put her out a second time, either.

BTW, she's got a degree in religion.  Surprised?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The FBI issued a statement

In its unusual public statement, the FBI said it was given only a limited opportunity to review the four-page memo, which was drafted by Republicans on the House intelligence committee.

Republicans have said the memo reveals improper use of surveillance by the FBI and the Justice Department in the Russia investigation. But the FBI said Wednesday that important facts were omitted.

“As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” the FBI said.

The statement escalates the intra-government conflict over the memo, which had already touched off a partisan brawl with Democrats and has pitted GOP lawmakers ordinarily supportive of surveillance against the FBI and the Justice Department. The FBI director and the deputy attorney general have told the White House releasing it could set a dangerous precedent.

I am finding many reports on this statement, but I'm not finding the statemen itself. Will update when I do.

This can't help the Trump cabal's relationship with the FBI, especially since the House Intel Committee has also opened an investigation into the agency.  They are seriously ratcheting up the risk.  They're obviously very desperate.

UPDATE 6:00pm

The statement is now up on the FBI site.  It reads:
Washington, D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

January 31, 2018
FBI Statement on HPSCI Memo
The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.

With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.


Ooops! Another Repuglican being caught in a lie

Very interesting. Here's Arkansas GOP Rep Rick Crawford, a member of the Houe Intel Comitttee, telling Fox News  yesterday that FBI Director Chris Wray and "two of his top staff" saw the memo and said they saw no factual inaccuracies. "They would just prefer that it not be released."

And here's Director Wray today:
FBI Director Christopher Wray told the White House he opposes release of a classified Republican memo alleging bias at the FBI and Justice Department because it contains inaccurate information and paints a false narrative, according to a person familiar with the matter.


As I've said before, I think the entire GOP membership of the House Intel Committee gets hauled up on obstruction of justice charges along with Trump.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Will he want to fire Wray now?

FBI Director Christopher Wray told the White House he opposes release of a classified Republican memo alleging bias at the FBI and Justice Department because it contains inaccurate information and paints a false narrative, according to a person familiar with the matter.

And Trump was just overheard last night saying "100%" he'd be releasing the memo, although Sarah Huckabee walked that back. Even John Kelly seemed to give it the go-ahead.
The memo on actions early in the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign is being reviewed by “our national security lawyers in the White House,” who are “slicing and dicing it,” White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Wednesday on Fox News Radio. But he left little doubt about the outcome, saying the disputed memo will be released “pretty quick, I think, and the whole world can see it.”


While the FBI hasn’t publicly opposed release of the memo, the agency said in a statement Wednesday that it has “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”


The FBI isn’t included in the inter-agency review process led by the White House aimed at deciding whether -- and how much of -- the memo can be made public.
This is an interesting situation. It all hinges on who talks to Trump last when the five days for White House review are up.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Very interesting. Here's GOP Rep Rick Crawford telling Fox News that Wray and "two of his top staff" saw the memo and said they saw no factual inaccuracies. "They would just prefer that it not be released."

Another episode of rats leaving a sinking ship

Earlier this month, Trey Gowdy announced he was stepping down from the Ethics Committee. Now he's saying he won't seek re-election to the House of Representatives.

In a statement posted to his social media accounts, Gowdy said “there is a time to come and a time to go” – adding “this is the right time, for me, to leave politics.”

“I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political or elected office,” Gowdy said in his statement. “Instead I will be returning to the justice system. Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system.
Gowdy has served from South Carolina since 2011, chairing the infamous Benghazi committee.

Very interesting.

The rats are abandoning ship.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


Nunes flashback

March 2017:
On Monday, FBI Director James Comey testified before Nunes' committee that his investigators were looking at possible "coordination" during the presidential campaign between Russian officials and people close to Preisdent Trump.

Tuesday night, Nunes went to the White House where someone showed him documents related to U.S. intelligence surveillance, according to his statement.

On Wednesday, Nunes announced to reporters that he had seen evidence indicating that people close to Trump had been subjects of surveillance during the transition. He then went to the White House, saying that he needed to brief Trump about the revelations.


Asked to explain Nunes’ actions, Langer said in an email, “The information comprised executive branch documents that have not been provided to Congress. Because of classification rules, the source could not simply put the documents in a backpack and walk them over to the House Intelligence Committee space. “

  LA Times
The source could, however, have walked them into the President's office. Why did they need to go outside to Nunes to get someone to brief the president about the document/s? Rhetorical question.
Since disclosing the existence of the intelligence reports, Mr. Nunes has refused to identify his sources, saying he needed to protect them so others would feel safe going to the committee with sensitive information. In his public comments, he has described his sources as whistle-blowers trying to expose wrongdoing at great risk to themselves.

That does not appear to be the case. Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and was previously counsel to Mr. Nunes’s committee. Though neither has been accused of breaking any laws, they do appear to have sought to use intelligence to advance the political goals of the Trump administration.


Mr. Cohen-Watnick, 30, is a former Defense Intelligence Agency official who served on the Trump transition team and was originally brought to the White House by Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser.

He was nearly pushed out of his job this month by Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who replaced Mr. Flynn as national security adviser, but survived after the intervention of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist.


There were conflicting accounts of what prompted Mr. Cohen-Watnick to dig into the intelligence. One official with direct knowledge of the events said Mr. Cohen-Watnick began combing through intelligence reports this month in an effort to find evidence that would justify Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts about wiretapping.


The officials’ description of the intelligence is in line with Mr. Nunes’s characterization of the material, which he said was not related to the Russia investigations when he first disclosed its existence.

A little white lie that had to be modified later.
On Thursday, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he needed clarification on whether White House officials had pursued “a circuitous route” to feed Mr. Nunes the materials so he could then hand them to Mr. Trump.
It would certainly appear so, and a page out of the Dick Cheney playbook.
The revelation that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, was on White House grounds the day before he briefed President Donald Trump on documents related to surveillance of his transition team has fueled speculation that the White House itself was Nunes' source.

Nunes, who was a member of Trump's transition team, told Fox on Tuesday afternoon that he would "never reveal" the source of the classified documents he obtained, not even to other members of the House Intelligence Committee.

Nunes on Monday said he had gone to the White House last week to view the documents because Congress didn't have "networked access" to those reports.

  Business Insider
His spokesman later told Business Insider that Nunes had been there to view the documents in a secure compartmented information facility, or SCIF, to "safeguard the proper chain of custody and classification of these documents," but did not respond when asked why an executive branch source would not go directly to Trump, instead of to Nunes, with documents they found suspicious.
Didn't hear the question, I think.
"This is insane," Juliette Kayyem, a CNN national-security analyst and former official at the Department of Homeland Security, told Business Insider on Monday. "You only go to the White House to get briefed by the White House. It's not a meeting point like a McDonald's off the turnpike."


The White House "is not an internet café," [Democratic Rep. Eric] Swalwell told MSNBC. "You can't just walk in and receive classified information."
At least that wasn't possible in previous administrations.
Swalwell also wondered why Nunes couldn't have viewed the documents inside an SCIF at the Capitol after consulting with his fellow committee members.

"If this was done the proper way, they could have brought it over, shared it with both parties of the committee," he said, referencing what he said was the bipartisan nature by which intelligence-committee investigations are typically conducted.
Of course, nothing is typical of this administration, and this Republican Congress has completely broken typical Congressional activity. The Nunes-directed House Intel Committee has, from the beginning, refused to cooperate with the Democrats on the committee. A bigger Trump cover could not possibly be found.
"To come onto these grounds at the White House, you must be authorized," Jeff Zeleny, CNN's senior White House correspondent, said on Tuesday. "Someone invited him in, cleared him in, escorted him in. This White House has made the decision to not say who that was."

Republican Sen. John McCain agreed that Nunes' move was unusual.

"I've been around for quite a while, and I've never heard of any such thing," he said on Tuesday morning on CBS.


The day after he went to the White House, Nunes announced in an unexpected press conference that the president and his advisers may have had their communications "incidentally collected" by the intelligence community during the transition period.


"There was no legitimate justification for bringing that information to the White House instead of the committee," Schiff added.
This was the background Nunes laid for the current memo flap, and for his faux recusal from the investigation. This guy is Trump's right-hand man in the House. And perhaps - if his desperation moves are any indication - implicated in some way in the Mueller investigation.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Jeremy Scahill talked to Naomi Klein about Trump's hate-filled SOTU

This week on Intercepted: Naomi Klein and Jeremy analyze Trump’s threats toward North Korea, his executive order on Guantánamo, and the attack on immigrants, the poor, and the environment. Naomi also reflects on her recent reporting trip to Puerto Rico. Veteran journalist Juan González dissects the roots of fascism, the rise of authoritarian movements, and global migration trends. Marcy Wheeler gives a brief analysis of a theory floated by a former CIA officer that the “Steele dossier” contains Russian disinformation. Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada discusses Israeli collusion with the Trump campaign and Mike Pence’s trip to Israel. He also gives an update on the case of Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teen who is in military detention after a video of her slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers went viral.


Conflicts of interest define the Trump administration

About one month after she took over as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Brenda Fitzgerald purchased stock in a tobacco company, Politico reported Tuesday.

As CDC director, Fitzgerald oversees the agency’s efforts to push Americans to stop smoking tobacco products, so the purchase raised questions about conflicts of interest.

Probably won't matter all that much, even though it is "bad optics" as they say in Washington. Fact is, the tobacco industry makes up for what it loses in the US by pushing their product in other countries.
Documents obtained by Politico show that in August and September, Fitzgerald bought stock in several companies, including Japan Tobacco, a cigarette manufacturing company. She also purchased stock in pharmaceutical companies Merck & Co. and Bayer, and health insurance company Humana, Politico reported.
You get all the good insider information when you get into a good political job.
In a statement to Politico, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged that Fitzgerald purchased “potentially conflicting” stocks but said that she has now sold them. Politico confirmed that Fitzgerald sold her stock in Japan Tobacco in October.
Then, we're good.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

UPDATE 2/1:  Fitzgerald has resigned.

Cleanup in aisle one

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) waited for “hours” according to one reporter, in order to shake President Donald Trump’s hand and ask him, on camera, to “release the memo.” “Oh, don’t worry,” Trump replied. “A hundred percent."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that “there’s always a chance” the White House won’t release a reportedly anti-FBI memo, a major walk back from President Trump’s comments after the State of the Union Tuesday evening.


“Again, I don’t know, I haven’t seen the memo,” she said. “I can’t make that judgment, but I do know we’re going through that process. I know that will be part of what’s taking place at the White House today. And we’ll certainly keep you guys posted as I know you’ll continue to ask until you hear the final answer on that.”

“Has the President seen the memo yet?” CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked.

“Not that I’m aware of,” she said.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

A picture worth a thousand words

From TPM, last night's SOTU.

Three disgusting mugs.

His helmet was perfect, though, was it not?

And he misidentified one of his invited guests, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Celestino Martinez, who the written address referred to as “CJ.” “He goes by DJ,” Trump said. “And CJ. He said call me either one.”

Sure he did.


Human error

The independent watchdog charged with helping to oversee the war in Afghanistan claimed the Pentagon blocked it from publishing information about the control of territory in Afghanistan, a key metric that has been touted by US and Afghan officials as a benchmark to determine whether the US strategy is working.

The Pentagon has denied being responsible for the request to block the publishing of the information. The NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, Operation Resolute Support, said the request was due to a "human error."

Operation Resolute Support - indeed, all of the Afghan war effort - can properly be described as "human error".

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

I thought he turned his businesses over to his sons

In another indication that the world’s most powerful politician has few qualms about battling local public officials, President Donald Trump again has sued the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser over the valuation of his Trump National Golf Club.


Based on the property appraiser’s valuation, the Palm Beach County Tax Collector sent Trump a bill for $398,315. Trump responded with a lawsuit — and a wire transfer for $296,595.01, which his Tampa-based attorney described as “a good faith estimate” of the sum Trump really owes.


While Trump’s three-page suit doesn’t say how much he thinks the course should be worth, Jupiter Golf Club pays property taxes at a rate of 2 percent. So by claiming he was overcharged by $101,720, Trump asserts that the property is worth $15 million, and that the appraiser overvalued the course by more than $5 million.


The [lawsuit] marks the fifth year in a row that Trump has disputed the property tax bill for the 131-acre course along Donald Ross Road. Even as he fights the county’s $19.7 million estimate, Trump’s financial disclosures in 2016 and 2017 list the value of Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter as “over $50 million.”

  Palm Beach Daily News
How VERY Trumpy.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

And what was that about stocks being higher than ever?

Did he cross off his brag about the stock market in his speech?  I haven't seen any comment on that.
Dow drops 400 points ahead of Trump's first State of the Union

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 400 points Tuesday, the largest drop in the key stock index since June 2016.

The Dow dropped to 26,028 on Tuesday afternoon, roughly 400 points below Monday’s close, before ticking back upward by 1:40 p.m. It’s the second straight day of losses for the Dow, and largest single-day drop under President Trump.


Even with the drop, the Dow is up more than 8,000 points since Trump was elected in 2016. The Dow closed at a record high more frequently in 2017 than in any other year in its history, breaking the mark of 69 record highs set in 1995.

But the booming equities market has triggered concern among policymakers that investors could be overvaluing stocks, setting up a nasty correction. Wall Street veterans say traders see an approaching end to the Trump stock boom, partially due to rising interest rates around the world.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

SOTU analyses

In case you're wondering, no, I didn't watch it.
The US president preened over a growing economy and pledged a return to national greatness with a nostalgic appeal to family, faith, law and order, the military and the national anthem. “Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve,” Trump said.

Seek common ground with him, it sounds like. I'm not interested in returning to family, faith, law and order, the military and the national anthem. As a country, we returned to those after a brief hippy uprising in the 60s and haven't left them since. No return is necessary.
To his left, Republicans stood, applauded and sometimes cheered each new pronouncement. To his right, Democrats mostly sat stony faced, channeling the fury of millions who believe Trump has defiled the American presidency, and on occasion were unable to resist groans, or heckles of protest.
Well, it's the least they could do. The very least.
Sometimes it became too much. Trump’s statement that, “For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities”, prompted Democratic House chairman Joe Crowley to shout: “Oh, come on!”
Not quite brave enough to shout "You lie!" like South Carolina's Joe Wilson did at Obama.
And when the president pledged to end so-called “chain migration”, adding: “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives”, there were such loud mutters of dissent that Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi waved her arms to mute them.
Jesus, Nancy. Were the kids out of line? Somebody should have shouted, "So does that mean Melania's parents are going back to Slovenia?"

A slight detour...I saw this bit on Melania's father in an article about her parents:
After his chauffeur job, Viktor became a traveling salesman for a state-owned car company. "In contrast to the privations that so many suffered in Communist times, the Knavses lived well," GQ reports. While Viktor was reportedly a card-carrying member of the Sevnica Communist Party, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the New York Times last year that Knavs had never been an "active member" of the party. He amassed a collection of Mercedes sedans and a "coveted" Maserati, and GQ describes Amalija as "always impeccably dressed and perfectly coiffed," even when "times were lean" under Communist rule.

  Town & Country
Just tuck that away in the back of your head.

Okay, back to the SOTU. Or STFU.
And when the speech ended, Republicans clapped and chanted “USA! USA!” – one even waved a red “Make America great again” cap – while Democrats raced to the exits with thinly disguised contempt.

I bet Charlie Pierce didn't get his wish.

Instead of the darkness of his inaugural speech, which warned of “American carnage”, Trump boasted of the “extraordinary success” of his first year in office and offered a more optimistic vision. “This is our new American moment,” Trump said. “There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.”
A total divorce from reality, as anyone could have predicted.
Trump spoke of the need to keep the nation safe from terrorism. He announced that he had formally cancelled Barack Obama’s plan to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. “We must be clear,” he said. “Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants. And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are.”
The "bring back torture" portion of the speech.

Well, somebody liked it:

“North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland,” Trump said. “Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this very dangerous position.”
If only that meant that he'd quit tweeting insults at Kim.
"Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.”
Unfortunately, we can't rely on magic.
The president’s family were in attendance, although Melania Trump travelled to the Capitol separately from Trump.
Still unhappy. Was Stormy there?
She entered the chamber without public announcement, wearing an all-white Dior pantsuit – evocative, perhaps, of Hillary Clinton during the election campaign.
Oh, now, that was cruel. Wouldn't that be funny if Melania were to start using Hillary phrases and wearing Hillary pantsuits around The Most Notable Loser? And, hey, win-win, she could get a haircut.

He made an appeal directly to be able to fire Mueller and Rosenstein.
“All Americans deserve accountability and respect, and that is what we are giving them,” said Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to dramatically cut the size of the federal government.

“So tonight, I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people," he said.


Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) introduced legislation in July to make all new federal workers at-will employees. That change would mean they could be “removed or suspended, without notice or right to appeal, from service by the head of the agency at which such employee is employed for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all,” according to the text of the bill.

  The Hill
This is what the state of Texas calls a "right to work" law.

Of course, there were the usual media portrayals of a president finally becoming presidential, which got you to drink at each if you were playing along with Matt Taibbi's (Rolling Stone) annual SOTU drinking game.

Of course, an analysis of the speech wouldn't be complete without speculation about what drug he's on.

"It didn't deliver on substance. It wasn't inflammatory, for the most part. But we'll see what he tweets at 5 o'clock in the morning when his Adderall wears off," Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said in an interview with The Hill.

  The Hill

It didn't disappoint, however, if you were waiting for a hilarious Trumpism.
And he misidentified one of his invited guests, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Celestino Martinez, who the written address referred to as “CJ.” “He goes by DJ,” Trump said. “And CJ. He said call me either one.”

Sure he did.*


Jeremy Scahill talks to Naomi Klein about this hate-filled SOTU:

*UPDATE2/1:  Chris Hayes has it.