Trump Administration Considering Revoking Security Clearances Of Administration Critics

Based on what can only be described as pure vindictiveness, the President is apparently planning on revoking security clearances of former officials who have been outspoken against the Administration and its policies.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced at the daily briefing today that the Administration is in the process of considering revoking the security clearances of a number of former public officials who have become outspoken critics of the President:

WASHINGTON — President Trump threatened on Monday to strip the security clearances of former national security officials who have criticized his refusal to confront Russia over its election interference, a move that would apply the powers of the presidency to retaliate against some of his most outspoken detractors.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Trump was considering revoking the clearances of John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director; James B. Comey, fired by Mr. Trump as F.B.I. director last year; and James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, among others.

“The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearances because they politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances,” Ms. Sanders said.

The suggestion was an unusual politicization of the security clearance process and is the latest turn in an effort by Mr. Trump to deflect scrutiny from his meeting last week with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whom he sided with over his own intelligence community in casting doubt about whether Moscow attacked the 2016 presidential election.

She also said Mr. Trump is looking to strip the security clearance of Susan Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, and Michael V. Hayden, the former head of the C.I.A. and National Security Agency during the George W. Bush administration.

She also singled out Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy director of the F.B.I., who was fired this year over a lack of candor about his dealings with reporters. Mr. McCabe does not have an active security clearance. Mr. Comey has also had no security clearance for about a year, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Security clearances allow former officials to work with companies on classified programs and provide advice to those firms and sometimes to government agencies. Stripping their clearances could harm their ability to work as consultants and advisers in Washington.

More from The Washington Post:

President Trump plans to revoke the security clearances of a handful of former officials who have been critical of his rhetoric and actions toward Russia, the White House announced Monday, in a move that immediately prompted claims of political retaliation.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the officials being examined are former CIA director John Brennan; former FBI director James B. Comey; former CIA director Michael V. Hayden; former national security adviser Susan E. Rice; former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.; and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

“The president is exploring these mechanisms to remove security clearances because they’ve politicized and, in some cases, actually monetized their public service and their security clearances in making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia,” Sanders told reporters at a regular press briefing.

She added: “The fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

The move came shortly after Trump met with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who said earlier Monday that he planned to ask the president to revoke Brennan’s clearance. The former Obama administration CIA director last week used the word “treasonous” to describe Trump’s performance at his summit with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in Helsinki, saying it showed he was “wholly in the pocket of Putin.”

(…)

Democrats immediately criticized the move as an attempt to punish former officials for leveling criticism at Trump.

“This is what totalitarianism looks like,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said in a tweet.

A member of the Senate Republican leadership voiced skepticism of the White House’s actions as well.

“I don’t know whether they’ve been abusing their security clearance at all,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (Texas), the No. 2 Republican in the chamber. “That’s a very serious allegation. I want to see what the results are.”

At least two of the officials — Comey and McCabe — do not currently have clearances.

Comey hasn’t had a security clearance for many months, according to a person familiar with the matter.

McCabe’s clearance was deactivated when he was fired from the FBI, said Melissa Schwartz, a spokeswoman for McCabe. She said McCabe’s lawyers were told that was according to FBI policy.

“You would think the White House would check with the FBI before trying to throw shiny objects to the press corps…,” she wrote on Twitter.

Clapper, a career intelligence officer who last served as the Director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration, described the move by the White House as “unprecedented” and “petty.”

Clapper said there were no grounds for dismissing his clearance, and that the White House’s actions were directed solely at “people who have criticized the president.” He said no one from the White House has contacted him about the matter, which he learned about during Sanders’s remarks.

Clapper also said he could not think of an instance in which a president revoked a security clearance.

Reached by phone, former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden had no comment on the White House’s statement. But he objected to any White House suggestion that he had mishandled classified information or done anything that would be grounds for revoking his security clearance.

In addition to these statements, Clapper and Hayden have both said that they do not receive classified information now that they are no longer part of the Intelligence Community. Additionally, as noted above James Comey and Andrew McCabe no longer have security clearances, so there’s nothing for the White House to revoke. So far, we haven’t heard back from either John Brennan or Susan Rice, but one assumes that the situation is the same in their cases. In other words, revoking the security clearances for these officials would be an entirely meaningless and vindictive act on the President’s part. Which, of course, is par for the course for this Presidency.

This idea didn’t start with the Administration, at least not publicly. Early this morning, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who has evolved into being one of the President’s most obsequious supporters in the Senate, announced that he would be meeting with the President to discuss revoking the security clearance of former C.I.A. Director John Brennan. In a follow-up tweet, Paul claimed that he was making the request due to the fact that he didn’t believe that former officials should be able to monetize their security clearances in the form of speaking fees or other sources of income after leaving office:

Sen. Rand Paul said Monday he is meeting with President Donald Trump to ask that former CIA Director John Brennan have his security clearance revoked.

“Is John Brennan monetizing his security clearance? Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on @realDonaldTrump,” the Kentucky Republican tweeted Monday morning. “Today I will meet with the President and I will ask him to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance.”

Brennan, who was CIA director under President Barack Obama, now works as a senior national security and intelligence analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. Brennan has been highly critical of Trump.

Most recently, he lambasted Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, calling it “nothing short of treasonous” in a tweet.

Paul’s request comes after Fox News host Tucker Carlson said last week that Brennan still had a security clearance despite not working for the federal government anymore.

Carlson, who called Brennan an “out-of-the-closet extremist,” went on to call for his security clearance to be removed.

Here are Senator Paul’s tweets on the matter:

The fact that these former public officials continue to have security clearances after they leave office is not unusual, not it is unusual for any other government employee or contractor who has obtained a security clearance to retain that clearance after their employment has come to an end. As a practical matter, it’s important to point out off the top that having the clearance does not mean that any of these people have access to classified information at the present time or that they would be granted that access if they asked for it without being employed in a position where they would need to have access to such information. Instead, it appears that allowing the security clearances to stay in effect is, by and large, a courtesy that is granted to former officials and employees that, at least to some extent would make it easier for the appropriate agencies recertify their clearance in the future in the event that they are appointed to or hired into another position requiring them to have access to classified information. Additionally, having the security clearance after termination of their employment means that they can, if necessary, be brought back for consultation on issues that may require a security clearance, something that often occurs in the case of senior Intelligence Community officials, or which at least used to before this President.

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake points out the hypocrisy of all of this:

Here’s how Sanders explained it: “The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance because they politicized and, in some cases, monetized their public service and security clearances. Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate, and the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

The first part of this that’s rich is the idea that it’s unacceptable to “monetize” political office and experience. Trump as president hasn’t gone very far to separate himself from his businesses, and he has made a habit of promoting and using his properties, with foreign leaders and political types frequenting them. As for using positions of power for personal gain, there were more than a dozen investigations into now-former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt for exactly that kind of thing before he was pushed out. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke faces similar review

The second part that’s rich is the idea that making “baseless charges” is now disqualifying. Trump has lodged many conspiracy theories from the comfort of the White House, most notably that the Obama White House wiretapped his campaign, that it spied on his campaign, that voter fraud made him lose the popular vote, that a Pakistani-born Democratic IT aide was part of some kind of conspiracy, etc. If making charges with no evidence is now the standard, Trump should be the first person excused from future briefings.

But the slipperiest slope of all is the idea that these officials are “politicizing” their positions. This is a word that gets thrown around a lot — almost always in bad faith. It’s often how you try to censor someone for saying something you don’t like. Definitionally, it’s suggesting that because they don’t like Trump, these former officials are saying things they don’t believe, but that’s a completely subjective judgment. If this is the standard, you could use it to justify freezing out pretty much anyone who blows a whistle or disagrees with you politically. It could very quickly become a tool for creating a monolith inside intelligence circles in which nobody with any stature is allowed to disagree. It could also have a chilling effect on any such official who might speak out in the future.

Additionally,, as Blake goes on to note, this move is especially hypocritical given the fact that former Trump National Security Adviser Lt. General Michael Flynn retained his security clearance even while working on Trump’s campaign and leading crowds in cheers of “Lock Her Up!” in connection with the allegations against Hillary Clinton.

In any event, it is clear that this announcement is based in nothing other than pure vindictiveness. In one respect or another, each of the persons on this list has been critical of the Trump Administration in public and several of them, such as Brennan and Clapper, frequently appears on cable news programs where they have been highly critical of the Administration in general and the President specifically. As such, it’s hard not to see this as nothing more than an effort by the Administration to punish these people for their political opinions, which could pose legal problems should the Administration move forward with this idea. Viewed in this light, of course, the announcement isn’t at all surprising. Donald Trump has a long history of vindictiveness against those who have criticized him, and the fact that he is continuing that pattern as President, while alarming, is entirely consistent with his past behavior. Just think of it as another deplorable action by a deplorable President.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Intelligence, National Security, Politicians, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    One…this move endangers America by limiting the ability of different administrations to communicate effectively. This had gotten better since 9-11. Dennison just took a step backward in Nat’l security.
    Two…considering that some of these folks could potentially be witnesses in any proceedings involving Dennison…it just adds to the pattern of witness tampering/intimidation and obstruction.
    Three…really this is the move of an autocrat, not the leader of a democracy.

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  2. CSK says:

    This is one of his time-honored tactics if he feels you’ve dissed him or crossed him. A nasty, petty, vindictive little man.

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  3. Mikey says:

    This is typical of the authoritarian regimes Trump so idolizes and wishes to emulate. But it’s probably not serious, he’s just trying to distract from all the shit that’s starting to stick.

  4. Scott says:

    Each of these actions by the President diminishes him. The political equivalence of stiffing your subcontractors. As it turns out, this incompetent administration didn’t do its homework. Comey and McCabe already had their clearances revoked. Others have not been receiving classified info anyway. It is pure Trump: all show, no go; all thrust, no vector. Once again, he makes fool of himself.

  5. Slugger says:

    Has Sen. Paul always been a forelock grabbing, lick-spittle sycophant, or has recently been sucked into the vortex of authoritarianism?

  6. Scott says:

    @Slugger: I would say yes.

  7. Gustopher says:

    “Is John Brennan monetizing his security clearance? Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on @realDonaldTrump,” the Kentucky Republican tweeted Monday morning. “Today I will meet with the President and I will ask him to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance.”

    Let’s assume Brennan is actually revealing classified information, and that this isn’t just a lie by the orange-nosed Senator — wouldn’t the correct response be prosecution?

    It shouldn’t be hard to prove — the claim is that Brennan is being paid to publically discredit the President by revealing classified information, so there should be recordings and public statements. They could even go after those who are paying millions for this. If the esteemed gentlevermin from Kentucky is not lying, this should be an open and shut case.

    Let’s see the Senator’s evidence in a public court of law. And if the case cannot be made, I think Brennan should sue the Kentucky Trump-Poodle for defamation and slander. I hear Brennan stands to lose millions because of this.

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  8. Kathy says:

    Think about the claims made by Trump and Sanders, and ask yourself whether you’ve heard anything more moronic in your life. essentially they are complaining that former government officials are politicizing politics.

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  9. Jax says:

    I really think it’s past time for the citizens of the great state of Kentucky to revoke Rand Paul. Hell, McConnell, too, while they’re at it!

  10. Lit3Bolt says:

    I may be a petty, vindictive little soul, but I am always delighted to see each and every Libertarian abase themselves before a real authoritarian.

    You thought you were Howard Roark or John Galt; you were always in reality, a Peter Keating.

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  11. An Interested Party says:

    I’m sure the Orange Toddler wishes that he could order the assassination of certain people like his Russian controller does on a regular basis…I guess he’ll just have to settle for this petty, meaningless action…it’s a horrible thing when the president of the United States has Putin envy…

  12. Barry says:

    @Slugger:

    “Has Sen. Paul always been a forelock grabbing, lick-spittle sycophant, or has recently been sucked into the vortex of authoritarianism?”

    He and three other ophthalmologists set up their own ‘board’ to certify themselves as ‘board-certified’.

    He’s an apple which didn’t fall far from his father’s rotten tree.

  13. Hal_10000 says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    Libertarians – as exemplified by the party itself, the various libertarian think tanks and who self-identify as libertarian (like Doug) have been extremely critical of Trump. Paul is groveling to him for reasons that escape me. But I’m sorry, you were enjoying some smug ignorance.

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  14. Jen says:

    There are jobs in the private sector that work closely with government on contracts where having a certain level of security clearance would be a significant asset to doing your job. Basically, it just saves the private company the time and dollars it would take to get an individual a security clearance to work on government work, whether that’s contracts or consulting.

    This petty, vindictive, tiny little man has succeeded in getting us off the stories of his disastrous Helsinki summit, his mess of North Korea policy, and his deranged threat to Iran.

    There is nothing, absolutely nothing, redeemable about this man or anyone who works for him.

    A question for all the lawyers in the house: if this revocation successfully undermines someone’s employment, would they have a case against him? Just curious because it seems like revoking a security clearance out of spite and in an effort to intimidate that causes someone to suffer a job-related financial penalty would be a cause of action.

    Again, I hate everything about this administration. It’s like every pent-up schoolyard bully was provided free reign.

  15. CSK says:

    I’ll bet Paul told Trump he’d vote to confirm Kavanaugh if Trump screwed Brennan for him.

  16. mattbernius says:

    @Hal_10000:
    While I disagree with aspects* of libertarianism, so long as they are voting their conscience (i.e. pulling the lever for actual libertarian candidates like Gary Johnson), then I’m fine with them. I have known more than a few of those types.

    Unfortunately, I’ve met far too more “libertarians in name only” who, at the end of the day, consistently vote republican because they care more about tax cuts than any other plank of the party platform. Those are the individuals who I have a far greater ideological issue with.

    And Rand Paul is again demonstrating that he’s lost the ability to even try and claim to be a “libertarian in spirit.”

    * – To be clear, where we’re in agreement (like most aspects of criminal justice reform), I’m more than happy to help promote their ideas. Radley Balko, for example continues to do yoemans work in this area each and ever day. From everything I’ve seen, he definitely falls into category one as well.

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  17. Stormy Dragon says:

    @mattbernius:

    People aren’t generally loyal to abstract philosophical concepts, they’re loyal to other people. So 95% of people who say they’re an X-ian for any ideologically based X are probably wrong and just rationalizing their partisanship.

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  18. Stormy Dragon says:

    @mattbernius:

    To be more specific, “libertarians” almost always break down into one of:
    1. Hipster Republicans – the far largest group, this person has voted Republican in every single race of their entire life, but doesn’t want to believe they’re just a run of the mill Republican
    2. Haute Bourgeoisie – everything in their life is great, and they hate being expected to do something about problems not directly affecting them or their immediate family members
    3. Iconoclasts – they’re just reflexively against everything and want to disguise sheer orneriness as a virtue
    4. Ur-fascists – when they say the government is too big, what they mean is that it’s big enough to deter them from using physical violence to make people comply with their will

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  19. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon: You forgot:

    5. Teenage boys, who are tired of being told by their parents why they can’t do what they want and have to clean their rooms. For the past 30 years.

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  20. Ben Wolf says:

    Defending the privileges of the court of Versailles is such a strange thing for a so-called libertarian to do. It’s almost like you aren’t a libertarian, Doug, but a statist.

    Oh, I forgot, back in 2012 you rejected voluntarism by arguing the U.S. government had the right to go around the world enforcing its will at the barrel of a gun, just like the orthodox Republican you are.

    Now poor victims of Donald Trump, bureaucrats cashing in on government access, are having access taken away. But how are the poor dears to make their way in the world without Uncle Sugar to grease the wheels?

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  21. JKB says:

    As such, it’s hard not to see this as nothing more than an effort by the Administration to punish these people for their political opinions, which could pose legal problems should the Administration move forward with this idea.

    There is a lot of settled court ruling that no one has a right to a federal security clearance. Your post goes to great lengths to illustrate that these individuals no long have a legitimate need to know or access to classified information and therefore removal of the security clearance does them no harm. In any case, a security clearance is at the sole discretion of the government.

    Now, if you want to frame this as a conflict between the bureaucrats who want to grant privileges to former bosses and the elected head of the Executive branch, then it might be something. Funny how these conflicts always seem to between the unelected bureaucrats wanting to keep their privileges and sinecures and the elected representatives. Don’t think people aren’t noticing.

  22. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT:

    5. Teenage boys, who are tired of being told by their parents why they can’t do what they want and have to clean their rooms. For the past 30 years.

    This describes Rand Paul to a T. The fact that he is an icon of the Libertarian Movement reflects very poorly on that movement. I could disparage Paul for his faux-principles showboating. (His latest exercise in this is his pretending that he might not vote for Kavanaugh because of… reasons. In the end he will of course be “satisfied” by some thing or another and vote for him.) I could disparage Paul for his ugly and deep racist and race purity beliefs (of course, he claims that he actually had nothing to do with and didn’t even read the magazine he supposedly edited and that bore his father’s name, and for which he and his father received hundreds of thousands of dollars for running and which, by the way, included articles labeling blacks as subhuman mud people.)

    And there are many other reasons to disparage him. But the one that fits the “Libertarian as obnoxious and resentful teenager who never grew up” trope so perfectly is his neighborhood drama which resulted in the guy living next door to him viciously tackling him on the blind side. During the trial, we learned that the neighbor had complained to Paul years ago about an unsightly pile of yard waste adjacent to their yards, and in an effort to fulfill every negative stereotype I have about him, he proceeded to spend the next several years dumping all his yard waste in a pile next to his neighbors yard. It seems “the incident” occurred when Paul had dumped a huge pile, waited until his neighbor had cleaned it off himself, and then immediately dumped another pile that he had hidden elsewhere on his property until just the right moment to piss his neighbor off as much as possible.

  23. al Ameda says:

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Trump was considering revoking the clearances of John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director; James B. Comey, fired by Mr. Trump as F.B.I. director last year; and James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, among others.

    “The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearances because they politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances,” Ms. Sanders said.

    This – in it’s own low rent, low level, petty vindictive, and non-violent kind of way – is how the ‘president’ of a drug cartel operates.

    By the way, Trump would not likely be offended by my characterization.
    Well, maybe the ‘low rent’ and ‘low level’ stuff. Trump obsesses over his branding.

  24. Jen says:

    @JKB:

    There is a lot of settled court ruling that no one has a right to a federal security clearance.

    Correct.

    Your post goes to great lengths to illustrate that these individuals no long have a legitimate need to know or access to classified information and therefore removal of the security clearance does them no harm.

    This goes a little far. The post states they no longer have a need to access classified information as a direct part of their daily work, however the point made about institutional memory is an important one. Think of any significant job function at high levels in any company. When those people leave there is normally either a very long lead time (to allow for information transfer), or considerable back-and-forth communications after they leave. It’s simply not possible to go over everything a replacement needs to know–this is at least one reason why it makes sense to allow for those at high levels to retain their security clearances.

    In any case, a security clearance is at the sole discretion of the government.

    True.

    Now, if you want to frame this as a conflict between the bureaucrats who want to grant privileges to former bosses and the elected head of the Executive branch, then it might be something. Funny how these conflicts always seem to between the unelected bureaucrats wanting to keep their privileges and sinecures and the elected representatives.

    Answer truthfully: if the Obama administration had yanked Flynn’s security clearance–and from everything we now know they had good cause to–you would have been okay with that? No howls of unfair treatment? No fussing about being politically penalized?

    Trump is clearly trying to punish people who speak out against him. Please remember that you are okay with this, because if/when the shoe is on the other foot, I expect anyone who is okay with this behavior to be okay with it when it’s applied in the other direction.

  25. Stormy Dragon says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You forgot:

    5. Teenage boys, who are tired of being told by their parents why they can’t do what they want and have to clean their rooms. For the past 30 years.

    That’s just category 2 with a more emasculating gloss because, like most people, your tribal identity is partially based on machismo.

  26. Kathy says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    you were always in reality, a Peter Keating.

    Peter didn’t profess to have ideals.

  27. dazedandconfused says:

    Rand Paul loves one thing about Trump, the attacking of our accustomed, conventional foreign policy establishment. IOW: Trump/Bannon isolationism. I also view that as a potential silver lining on this monumental turd of an administration. I believe that to have been the party-favor that popped this quarter-baked notion into Rand’s belfry.

    As usual, Rand’s lips are several hundred yards in front of his brain though. The people he wishes to attack either don’t have security clearances and/or access anymore, and all of them don’t need one to talk to the media.

    It’s like revoking Emilia Earhart’s pilot’s license.

  28. dazedandconfused says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    What marks the Pauls is their self-education. They have extensive STEM education and then came to the liberal arts/humanities late and all by their lonesomes. The net result is a feeling of passion for their own half baked theories, which in the splendid isolation of being doctors have been unsullied by critical review. Ever notice how the leaders of radical factions frequently were doctors or engineers? Bid Laden, that Egyptian jail-bird who is something of the intellectual Godfather of AQ? Zawahiri, or something like that.

    The Paul’s (with apologies to Hannibal Lector) pathology is a thousand times less violent, of course. And they do try to do their own thinking, which sadly distinguishes them from many of their colleagues.

  29. Kathy says:

    BTW, The Big Cheeto is Tweeting that he’s “concerned” about Russian interference in the midterm elections (let’s pause here so you can laugh to exhaustion).

    He furthers claims no one’s ever been tougher on Russia(*), so naturally they’ll favor the Democrats.

    Now, had the wizard given the Cheeto a brain, I’d say he’s setting up the mood so that any Democratic gains in the fall come off as illegitimate, tainted by Russian interference. More likely it’s just a mental fart, or a lame attempt at inducing amnesia in his base towards the disastrous Helsinki summit.

    (*) The only way I’d believe that, is he accidentally bit one of Putin’s appendages while he was felating it.

  30. Mikey says:

    @Kathy: Rule 1 in the Trump playbook must be “accuse others of what you yourself do.”

  31. Mike Schilling says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Bashar Assad is also an ophthalmologist.

  32. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Kathy:
    I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Russia were planning to help Democrats this election, whether they want Russian help or not (much like Sanders and Stein were unwitting recipients of Russian aid last cycle).

    Flipping congress is going to lead to a lot of Whitehouse vs. Congress fighting over the next two years that will create short term chaos even if it is better in the long term. Chaos in the US government helps Putin’s foreign policy agenda and would also him domestically by pushing his “see how terrible democracy is” message to his own people.

    Furthermore they can then leak that help after the election to take the heat of their Quisling by pushing the “see everyone does it” angle.

    (That said I still hope the Democrats win, but that is the ugly reality)

  33. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Do you suppose that’s what Putin and his orange lap dog agreed to in Helsinki?

  34. James Pearce says:

    If Democrats had someone half as bold as Trump, we wouldn’t have Trump.

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  35. dazedandconfused says:

    @Mike Schilling:

    True, but Assad came to his position reluctantly and by inheritance, not by espousing ideology. It is the multi-confessional nature of Syria which has spawned the fevered dreaming within the House of Saud for regime change there. Assad is not a radical, and my remark was not intended to convey a thought that all STEM educated individuals are radicals.

  36. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: Assuming it’s possible to separate the boldness from the bullshit.