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Another Week, Another Demonstration Of President Trump’s Dangerous Incompetence

Donald Trump Shrug

As Steven Taylor noted in a post late yesterday, the big news today is that the President of the United States apparently revealed classified information to the Russsian Foreign Minister and Russian Ambassador to the United States last week in the Oval Office, and it’s a story that promises to embroil the Administration in yet another week of trying to fix something the President did. The story first broke in a report from Washington Post reporters Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe, and was soon followed by a similarly comprehensive report from The New York Times, after which news organizations ranging from CNN to Buzzfeed were soon out with reports of their own. All of this was based on independent reporting from each news outlet that relied on apparently independent sources, so it very quickly became clear that the initial report was not the thinly-sourced report that many Trump defender initially claimed it to be yesterday evening. That defense was based on the only public statement that came out of the White House after the initial report in which National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster appeared before reporters outside the White House and denied that the story was true, but did so in a way that didn’t actually address what the reports indicate the President revealed:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster denied a report that President Trump shared highly classified information with Russian government officials during an Oval Office meeting last week.

“During President Trump’s meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, a broad range of subjects were discussed among which were common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism,” Tillerson told reporters at the White House Monday evening. “During that exchange, the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”

McMaster attended the meeting and also pushed back against the reports of Trump’s comments to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

“The story that came out tonight as reported is false. The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time, at no time, were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known,” McMaster said in a press conference Monday evening.

“The record should outweigh the anonymous sources. I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” McMaster added.

(…)

Deputy national security adviser for strategy Dina Powell also attended last week’s meeting and pronounced the reports as false.

“This story is false,” Powell said in a statement. “The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”

As the Miller and Jaffe, as well as others, immediately pointed out on Twitter, McMaster’s statement, which was immediately picked up by Administration’s supporters as “proof” that the reports were false is that it didn’t address the factual assertions made in the report. Specifically, at no point did these reports say that what Trump told the Russians consisted of “sources, methods, or military operations.” Instead, these reports say that Trump revealed details about what the United States knew in connection with what appears to be an impending decision by Federal authorities to ban laptops and some other electronic devices from being carried on U.S. bound flights from Europe and other parts of the world. Instead, such items would have to be stored in checked luggage and turned off. The proposed ban, which has been discussed in the media since last week but not officially made policy yet, is apparently based on information indicating a new plot by ISIS and related organizations involving placing explosives inside these devices that would be strong enough to puncture the airframe of a passenger jet and, most likely, cause it to crash in mid-flight. The information is apparently based on information that was shared with the United States by an unnamed nation that it obtained from a source inside White House with the understanding that the source was supposed to be masked as much as possible to ensure the safety of that source. In his discussions with the Russians, Trump is alleged to have essentially bragged to the Russians and revealed enough about how the information was obtained, including the city inside ISIS territory where the reports originated from, to put that source at risk. Although not officially confirmed, some reports have said that the nation that gave this information to the U.S. is Jordan and that the source is someone deep inside ISIS who was actually a Jordanian intelligence asset. In other words, McMaster’s denial was actually an attempt at deflection that didn’t address the claims made in the report at all.

This denial by the National Security Adviser, however, was essentially undermined by the President himself in a series of tweets this morning

WASHINGTON — President Donald J. Trump said early Tuesday that he had an “absolute right” to share with top Russian officials information about an Islamic State threat during a White House meeting last week.

But he did not precisely address reports from multiple news outlets that he had disclosed highly classified information to the Russian officials, possibly jeopardizing a relationship with an intelligence-sharing ally.

Mr. Trump spoke about highly classified intelligence in a meeting with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, last week, a current and a former American government official told The New York Times on Monday. The news was first reported by The Washington Post, and soon after, many organizations — including Buzzfeed, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and The Times — quickly published their own accounts of the disclosure.

(…)

Although Mr. Trump’s tweets on Tuesday did not mention laptops, he said he had shared “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety” with Russian officials. He said he did so for “humanitarian reasons,” adding, “plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

As a matter of law, Trump is correct in one respect. As President of the United States, he has the legal authority to share classified information or to declassify information no matter how sensitive with anyone he chooses at any time that he chooses. He is, in essence, the “Classifier In Chief” and the laws regarding sharing classified information with persons not authorized to hear or see it.  In that context, there’s no real basis for arguing that he committed any crime here because this is one area where the old Nixonian adage that “if the President does it then it can’t be illegal” is unquestionably true. That being said, this doesn’t mean that a President is always right in making a decision like this. This is an area where people halfway across the world who are risking their lives to share information are quite literally putting their lives at risk to share what could be vital information with the United States or other nations. If the President is going to act on a whim and reveal that information to untrustworthy nations such as Russia, that could potentially put these people at risk of having their cover broken which would mean not only the loss of an important intelligence source but also the probability that such sources will be tortured or killed when they are discovered. Additionally, the fact that the information in question was shared by another nation under the strictest confidence risks putting at risk American relationships with other nations and make other nations less likely to share information in the future for fear that their sources could be put at risk by doing so.

As Aaron Blake notes, the entire episode appears to be yet another example of the President’s irresponsibility and hubris:

Given how unusual a politician Trump is and how shocked most of us were that he was elected president, we’re always in a constant search for alternate explanations for the off-kilter things he does. Maybe the tweets work! Maybe his offensive comments were calculated! Maybe he’s just trying to distract us! Maybe he’s really a secret political genius, despite his 36 percent approval rating!

But the Comey firing last week, its badly bungled aftermath and now Trump’s disclosure of highly classified information to Russia in the Oval Office paint a pretty clear picture. This is a president who shoots from the hip. Sometimes he shoots from the hip and hits the target, but it’s also causing him major, major problems now that he’s President Trump and not Candidate Trump. It’s one thing to say something offensive during the New Hampshire primary; it’s quite another to jeopardize tools for fighting terrorism because you speak before you think.

Conspiracy theorists who are fond of the claims in that dossier will believe that this is Trump deliberately feeding valuable information to his buddies in Russia as payback for their help in the 2016 election. But sharing it out in the open during a meeting with other national security officials in the room would seem to be a very curious move. As The Post report notes, Trump’s flub was quickly recognized and the damage control began almost immediately.

On a much more basic level, this appears to be Trump being careless and completely unaware of how the things he’s saying may create problems — both perception problems for himself, and real-world problems for the fight against terrorism. He lets his hubris get the better of him and starts bragging about the power and information at his fingertips — just like he did at Mar-a-Lago back in February. “I get great intel,” Trump reportedly told the Russians on Wednesday. “I have people brief me on great intel every day.”

Trump badly miscalculated the public reaction to his firing of Comey and bungled the explanations; then he went ahead with the Russia meeting anyway; then he did something in that Russia meeting that is only going to feed the narratives that he’s (a) in the tank for Moscow and/or (b) totally in over his head as president in ways that are dangerous.

At this point, it’s unclear why Trump did what he did last week. If you take him at his word based on this morning’s Tweetstorm, he deliberately released this information deliberately because in his judgment it was important to get the Russians on board with the fight against ISIS. The other possibility is that he revealed this information without fully realizing what he was doing and the extent to which he was handing Russia a foreign intelligence coup right there in the Oval Office, or in an effort to brag about the information that he has available to him. The final possibility is that the Russians essentially played Trump and got him to reveal something he shouldn’t have revealed. Whatever the explanation, though, it hardly matters because the damage is done. Reports from abroad are already indicating that American allies are both frustrated and nervous about what has happened here and that there is at least some discussion about holding back on sharing classified information with the United States for fear that it won’t be handled properly.

All of this is happening on only the 117th day of Trump’s Presidency, and it appears that he’s guaranteed that this week will once again revolve around an apparent misstep on his fault that ends up putting his aides on the defensive and causes all of official Washington to come to a halt as everyone tries to figure out what exactly the President thinking, assuming that he was thinking at all. While it’s entirely possible that things could turn around eventually, it certainly doesn’t seem likely that it will happen anytime soon. By and large, everything that has happened since January 20th is happening largely because Donald Trump is being the same kind of person as President that he was as a private businessman for more than thirty years. If anyone believed that becoming President would change him in any way they were asking for the impossible. A leopard doesn’t change its spots and a seventy year old man doesn’t change his character or lack thereof. What Trump did here was dangerous and irresponsible, and if a Democrat had done it Republicans everywhere would be calling for their head. Instead, they remain quiet as an obvious incompetent continues to act with impunity. They deserve whatever may become of them at the ballot box in 2018 or 2020.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    At this point, it’s unclear why Trump did what he did last week.

    Because he is an incompetent bumbling fool who is in way over his head.
    Any one who voted for this buffoon has serious mental health issues.

    ReplyReply

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  2. Mark Ivey says:

    He threw McMaster under the bus and he didn’t even blink doing it.

    McMaster should resign as National Security Adviser AND put in his Army retirement papers by the close of business today if he has at least half a brain.

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  3. CSK says:

    The Russians played Trump precisely because they know just how easy he is to manipulate. Just maneuver (it’s breathtakingly easy) him into a situation where he has to prove that he knows more than you, is bigger than you, is richer than you, etc., and you’ve got him exactly where you want him.

    Talk about priming the pump.

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  4. CSK says:

    @Mark Ivey:

    If McMaster stays, it might well be because he feels he has a duty to at least try and muzzle Trump, or in some way do damage control. But then you have to ask if any such efforts are foredoomed.

    I read somewhere yesterday that Preibus’s main responsibility has become that of trying to prevent “aides” from slipping Trump printouts of Internet hoaxes ( which he’s all too ready to believe) and telling Trump that they’re legitimate news.

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  5. michael reynolds says:

    McMaster has destroyed his one shining asset – his credibility. He’s just another fool to be poisoned by Trump’s touch. And now there is literally no one in this regime who can be trusted.

    Trump could have come out and admitted he’d screwed up, and apologized, but instead he destroyed the integrity of his national security team. Which tells you everything you need to know about Trump. He’s what he has always been, a pig of a man, without honor, decency or integrity.

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  6. KM says:

    What Trump did here was dangerous and irresponsible, and if a Democrat had done it Republicans everywhere would be calling for their head. Instead, they remain quiet as an obvious incompetent continues to act with impunity. They deserve whatever may become of them at the ballot box in 2018 or 2020.

    This sentiment should be on the lips of every American with a sense of patriotism and even a sliver of a functioning brain. With very little hyperbole and exaggeration, its safe to say this man is a clear and present danger to the US. He can and will cause serious problems with his complete lack of decorum and ego. Congress has a duty to step in when the President is doing things that endanger the nation. I know no one wants to rock the boat but by the time they grow a spine, it will be too late.

    Trump ‘s only gift to this nation is revealing what a bunch of ass-kissing hypocrites Republican voters choose. Its time for our rural brothers and sisters to realize they’ve been had and excise the cancer they’ve inflicted on the nation. I do not envy them – their choices are slimy thieves, bat-sh^t crazy, even more crazy, criminal and crazy, flat out traitorous for cash or holding their nose to vote for a Democrat they might genuinely believe is out to ruin their way of life. 2018 is going to suck for them but the choice is clear. A vote for Trump and his ilk is a vote for disaster.

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  7. SenyorDave says:

    Trumps’ tweet:

    As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining..:

    Last week my granddaughter turned seven. She’s a pretty smart little girl, but not a prodigy. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I say that I believe she has more common sense than Donald Trump, and probably would retain more from a national security briefing than Donald Trump.

    If both Republicans and Democrats are not seriously looking at Article 25 they are derelict in their duty.

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  8. Franklin says:

    @CSK: I came here to say what Mark Ivey did, which was that McMaster was thrown under the bus (no surprise from Trump). But I do hope he stays for not just the reason you state, but to maintain some very minimal stability in the administration.

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    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. Pete S says:

    And from Congressional Republicans, nothing of substance so far. Their naked greed in pursuing tax cuts for themselves and their donors continues unabated, national security be damned.

    ReplyReply

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  10. CSK says:

    @Franklin:

    I agree about the need for stability, but it needs to be kept in mind that Trump thrives on chaos. He wants his underlings to feel insecure, and he wants them to be at one another’s throats constantly. That’s the way he “ran” his business, and that’s the way he wants his administration to be–with everyone in it subservient to and dependent on Big Daddy, and only him.

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  11. Pete S says:

    Isn’t Trump meeting with Erdogan at the White House today? How nervous is the intelligence community wondering what Trump will say to impress him, especially if he feels the need to one-up his performance last week?

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  12. CSK says:

    @Pete S:

    Trump has said he admires Erdogan, who is doubtless shrewd enough to capitalize on this.

    ReplyReply

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  13. al-Alameda says:

    @michael reynolds:

    McMaster has destroyed his one shining asset – his credibility. He’s just another fool to be poisoned by Trump’s touch. And now there is literally no one in this regime who can be trusted.

    I am fairly cynical and jaded, yet I am amazed at how easily Trump emasculated every one of his Republican rivals. All of them sold out to acknowledge Trump’s power, Cruz even took his family to the White House for a photo-op with the man who (basically) accused his father of being part of the conspiracy to kill Jack Kennedy.

    Now, we have the spectacle expert advisors like McMaster selling out their dignity and credibility in service to an unprofessional impulsive charlatan like Trump. Amazing. McMaster would be well-advised to resign before it gets a lot worse.

    It seems to me that Rosenstein will have a career-defining decision to make soon too. Being generous here, he Trump use his memo as cover for lying about the his pretext for firing Comey. Aggressively supporting the Trump/Russia investigation is what is called for.

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  14. Yank says:

    @Mark Ivey: He does this to everyone. This is why it is mind-boggling anyone with any sort of reputation decides to work for him. Him and the lowlifes around him don’t care, your rep is basically currency to be spent on Trump.

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  15. reid says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: What’s really sad is that in comment sections at online sites (CNN, etc.) and on facebook (people I don’t know), there are still so many people who defend Trump and attack liberals/democrats/communists/Obama/Hillary. Team over country. This is what 30+ years of radicalization and propagandizing have done to us.

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  16. Pete S says:

    @CSK: It would be really scary if McMaster stayed on to try to “muzzle Trump” because that would suggest that either:

    a) He just realized this could be important.

    or

    b) He thinks he is doing a good job of it so far.

    McMaster is in place for the same reason that all of Trump’s cabinet/advisors are in place – they have enough self awareness to understand that these opportunities would not have come their way under any other president, but enough self delusion to believe that they are good at their jobs.

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  17. CSK says:

    McMaster will be holding a briefing this morning at 11:30 to address the fallout from yesterday.

    ReplyReply

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  18. Mr Bluster says:

    @Mark Ivey:..He threw McMaster under the bus and he didn’t even blink doing it.

    Another one under the bus
    Another one under the bus
    Another comes on and another goes down
    Another one under the bus
    Hey, when’s Trump gonna turn his back on you?
    Another one under the bus!

    Apologies to Weird Al Yankovic

    ReplyReply

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  19. Todd says:

    I have a little time when I first get into the office early in the a.m. so I usually have Morning Joe on the TV in the background. The last couple of days I also occasionally flip over to Fox and Friends. It’s like they are reporting/discussing events happening on two different universes. On Fox (and also Drudge) this is a story about leakers (obviously Obama supporting holdovers) and how the liberal media is out to get President Trump.

    We can roll our eyes at how preposterous it is to even try to continue to spin it like that in the face of the President’s own tweets. But the reality is, over 1/3 of the country, and more importantly a majority of Republicans who vote in primaries believe that version of the “truth”, and almost nothing will change their minds.

    This is the culmination of decades of groundwork by those who wish to portray a conservative “reality”. The first step in a successful propaganda campaign is to convince a significant segment of the population that established (aka “mainstream”) sources of information can’t be trusted. Once that’s been achieved, propaganda becomes truth for those people.

    Sadly, I fear there’s enough of them, that this Presidential calamity is unlikely to be “fixed” anytime soon.

    … and since the left is so utterly dysfunctional and divided too, possibly not even later. :-/

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  20. CSK says:

    @Pete S:

    It’s possible, I suppose, that McMaster has always seen his job as one of trying to control Trump. It may also be possible that he’s coming to the realization that controlling Trump is not an achievable goal.

    ReplyReply

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  21. Jen says:

    @Todd:

    On Fox (and also Drudge) this is a story about leakers (obviously Obama supporting holdovers) and how the liberal media is out to get President Trump.

    Erick Ericson has a post up on his site that can lay that theory to rest. He says he knows one of the sources, that this person is a loyal Trump supporter but who is extremely frustrated that the President does not listen to his advisers. (BTW, this person also says that the leaked info is far worse than has been reported so that’s something to think about.) The information was leaked to get the President’s attention, so that he realizes his advisers actually know what they are talking about when they tell him to stay on script.

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  22. Todd says:

    @Jen: You don’t have to convince me, I live in the real world. What I’m saying is that even if people like Erick Erickson don’t join the spin fest, many Republican voters are going to continue to believe whatever Doofy and Kilmeade tell them when they turn on the “fair and balanced” network while they sip their coffee in the morning. The big problem is that these people VOTE.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  23. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Just because a goal is not achievable doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it.

    For instance, if your car was heading for a tree, and there wasn’t enough time to stop, putting on the brakes is still a good idea to slow the car and lessen the impact. And that might be how McMaster views his job.

    ReplyReply

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  24. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:

    I don’t disagree. McMaster is giving a press briefing tight now, so we’ll see what the upshot is.

    ReplyReply

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  25. Pete S says:

    Here’s what I don’t get – if Trump’s supporters believe that it was no big deal that he shared this information in a room full of people and foreign recording devices, then why is the decision of someone in the intelligence community to talk about it to a reporter a “leak” and not a “conversation”? Its almost like they aren’t being completely honest here in supporting the incompetent loudmouth.

    ReplyReply

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  26. CSK says:

    @Pete S:

    Trump supporters aren’t dealing with the question of whether the disclosure was legal, or even whether it was a big deal.

    They’re dealing with it by claiming that the WaPo invented the story out of whole cloth.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  27. CSK says:

    As far as I can tell without having read a transcript, McMaster gave a full-throated defense of Trump at the briefing earlier.

    Sigh.

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  28. Moosebreath says:

    And Mitch McConnell gives away the show:

    “I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda, which is deregulations, tax reform, repealing and replacing Obamacare.”

    So long as Trump is on board with their agenda of class warfare on behalf of the upper class, Banana Republicans could care less about any collateral damage Trump causes to the country.

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  29. Jen says:

    @CSK: …and we’re back to blaming “leakers” instead of addressing the underlying problem of gross incompetence.

    There wouldn’t *be* leaks if he was better at the job, and if his employees trusted him.

    ReplyReply

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  30. gVOR08 says:

    I am of late frequently reminded of a scene in Lincoln in which Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln draws himself to full height and says, “I am the President of the United States of America! Clothed in immense power!” And since then we’ve invented the Imperial Presidency. I vacillate in my fear of Trump becoming an autocrat. Some days I feel he’s too lazy and incompetent to make himself an autocrat.

    Other days I realize he wouldn’t have to be very good at it to succeed. We have indeed, vested immense power in the presidency. There was a good piece at VOX yesterday pointing out that coups are out of fashion for autocrats these days, now you slowly and patiently subvert institutions.

    One lesson is that the road away from democracy is rarely characterized by overt violations of the formal rule of law. To the contrary, the contemporary path away from democracy under the rule of law typically relies on actions within the law. Central among these legal measures is the early disabling of internal monitors of governmental illegality by the aggressive exercise of (legal) personnel powers.

    Trump’s appointed one friendly SCOTUS judge, he’ll likely have a chance at more. He has an enthusiastic minion as Att’y Gen’l. The deputy is Rod Rosenstein, at this point largely unknown, but suspect. Comey’s deputy at the FBI, McCabe, seems solid, but he’ll soon have a new Director. Trump can have McCabe fired. That would send a tough message to the rank and file, some of whom one has to regard as suspect over leaks from the NY office.

    On the other hand, via Booman, there’s this:

    Separate sources with links to the intelligence and justice communities have stated that a sealed indictment has been granted against Donald Trump.

    While it is understood that the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution means that, until Mr. Trump is impeached, he cannot be prosecuted, sources say that the indictment is intended by the FBI and prosecutors in the Justice Department to form the basis of Mr. Trump’s impeachment. The indictment is, perhaps uniquely, not intended or expected to be used for prosecution, sources say, because of the constitutional position of the President.

    May you live in interesting times.

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  31. Stormy Dragon says:

    And suddenly both sides do a complete 180 from their positions from the Hillary e-mail thing because no one on either side believes anything they say aside from what’s tactically most expedient from one moment to the next.

    ReplyReply

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  32. Mr Bluster says:

    John Cornyn: No bus ticket for me.

    “Now more than ever the country needs a well-credentialed, independent FBI director. I’ve informed the administration that I’m committed to helping them find such an individual, and that the best way I can serve is continuing to fight for a conservative agenda in the U.S. Senate,” Cornyn said in a statement.

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  33. Mr Bluster says:

    WASHINGTON) — Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Tuesday the president did not know where the information he shared with Russian officials had originated and described the conversation as “wholly appropriate.”
    “The president wasn’t even aware where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either,” McMaster said at a press briefing.
    http://www.wbal.com/article/239506/147/adviser-trump-wasnt-even-aware-of-where-info-shared-with-russia-came-from

    Jesus H Fvcking Tapdancing Christ!

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  34. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I haven’t done a 180. The Hillary thing was careless but caused no loss of confidential material. It was a nothing burger. But I don’t know anyone who defended her decision to keep a private server as being a clever thing to do.

    Only Republicans have done a 180. From being red-faced with fury at various things Obama and Clinton did, to sudden servility when Trump does things a hundred times worse.

    You need look no further than polls showing a huge and sudden swing among GOP voters who fell in love with Putin and Russia, because Putin gave them the White House. Republicans are hypocrites who stand for nothing but their own lust for power. They’ll throw their own country under the bus if it allows them to spite liberals.

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  35. michael reynolds says:

    @Mr Bluster:
    He doesn’t read briefings. He insists everything be reduced to single page bullet points and then apparently doesn’t read those. I suggested long ago that Trump is an untreated dyslexic. He doesn’t read, he watches Fox.

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  36. Mr Bluster says:

    So McMaster is confirming that Trump shared information that might be classified, (McMaster did not say that it was not classified) and citizens are to accept Trumps big mouth because Trump is a jughead!?!?!

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  37. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “I haven’t done a 180.”

    Of course you haven’t. No one on the left has. But Stormy has to pretend they have so he can maintain his posture as the only pure soul in a world of Both Sides Do It. Of course he has to minimize the horrors of this president to do it, but that’s okay, because he’s looking to get a tax cut so he doesn’t care what happens to the country. He will preen in the reflected firelight as it burns.

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  38. Mr Bluster says:

    Come on Mac! If the information Trump shared is not classified, then let’s hear it!

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  39. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Franklin: I’m not sure that “stability” is the term that I would use for someone who has just established that he will lie about important matters to cover his boss’s ass.

    While I am here, I find it interesting that the House Republicans may indeed get their wish from 2016–that the President will be kept out of the loop involving classified information. I know that’s not quite what they had in mind, but still in all, it may be their only accomplishment during the next two years.

    I might go with Trump being a secret political idiot-savant if the results started improving, but I can’t bring myself to believe that “secret political genius” thing. Too far fetched.

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  40. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Where are Guarneri and Gavrillo and John411 and Jack and bill and Mannnnnnning? Why aren’t they here defending their savior and his treasonous actions?

    A Daily Beast article explaining the severity of Dumb Dons deadly bumble.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/05/16/trump-revealed-intel-on-the-most-serious-plot-against-u-s-planes-since-9-11

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  41. Steve V says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: They’re busy solving Seth Rich’s murder.

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  42. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    The worm is turning….more people want Don the Con impeached, than don’t.

    In total, 48 percent of Americans told PPP that Trump should be removed from office, while only 41 percent rejected that idea.

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  43. michael reynolds says:

    This may be the start of Republicans waking up:

    Democrats now have a 49-38 lead overall on the generic Congressional ballot, up from 47-41 a month ago. Even more notable though is that among voters who say they’re ‘very excited’ to turn out in the 2018 election, the Democratic lead balloons to 27 points at 61-34. The outcome of lower turnout midterm elections often hinges on which side is more engaged, and Democrats have the clear advantage at this point on that front- 63% of their voters say they’re ‘very excited’ about voting in next year’s election, compared to only 52% of Republicans who say the same.

    An amazing 11 point gap in the generic vote, and a huge gap in enthusiasm. I figure if we get two more polls conforming that data at least some Republicans may discover that they are Americans.

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  44. michael reynolds says:

    Has everyone already seen this?

    WASHINGTON — President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

    “I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

    The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

    Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

    I’ll defer to Doug and @HL92, but this looks to my untrained eye like obstruction of justice.

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  45. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Oh, Michael, this is fake news, don’t you know? It’s in the New York Times. They have to have made it up, just as the WaPo report was invented out of whole cloth.

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  46. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    Comey is already scheduled to appear before Congress in open session.

    This may be it. Between bad polls and open obstruction and the security breach with the Russians there may be a handful of Republicans ready to think about their country. You know, if it works with their overriding need to stay employed.

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  47. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Absolutely. The problem is that we have to impeach him before we can prosecute him.

    I’ll volunteer :-)

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  48. CSK says:

    This is great. From the NYTimes:

    “In private, three administration officials conceded that they could not publicly articulate their most compelling–and honest–defense of the president: that Mr. Trump, a hasty and indifferent reader of printed briefing materials, simply did not possess the interest or knowledge of the granular details of intelligence gathering to leak specific sources and methods of intelligence gathering that would do harm to allies of the United States.”

    Hey, it’s good knowing that Trump is too stupid to do us much harm, bu why don’t I feel better?

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  49. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Given Trump’s history of bragging about all the politicians he’s bought or bribed, I’m sure he’s probably quite miffed that anyone would question his attempt to coerce the director of the FBI.

    I mean, it’s just business. Right?

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  50. Pch101 says:

    @CSK:

    “In private, three administration officials conceded that they could not publicly articulate their most compelling–and honest–defense of the president: that Mr. Trump, a hasty and indifferent reader of printed briefing materials, simply did not possess the interest or knowledge of the granular details of intelligence gathering to leak specific sources and methods of intelligence gathering that would do harm to allies of the United States.”

    I will repeat my theory that in addition to him being a sociopathic narcissist, Trump is also severely dyslexic.

    I am willing to bet that he literally cannot read the material. A severe inferiority complex ultimately drives much of his behavior.

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  51. CSK says:

    @Pch101:

    You’ll get no argument from me.

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  52. Neil Hudelson says:

    @CSK:

    Noah Millman at The Week has a great column up about why that very situation is worse, in the long run, than a Trump who is in command of his faculties.

    http://theweek.com/articles/699130/trumps-loose-lips-lead-military-coupv

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