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April 20, 2018

April 20-21, 2018

April 18-19, 2018 BACK

April 21, 2018
My Kos story today:

April 20, 2018

Above: Updated version of this story

Politico puts it well:

The memos, obtained by POLITICO, appeared to be an instant political Rorschach test, with Trump allies declaring that the memos absolved the president of any whiff of improper conduct and Democrats suggesting they revealed the president's contempt for institutions of justice.

Update 10:30 AM Oregon time: Why the hooker references may be important (Washington Post, Philip Bump)
When did Trump and Putin talk about ‘hookers’?


By the top of the second page of the first memo former FBI director James B. Comey wrote to memorialize his conversations with President Trump, prostitutes are mentioned. Sex workers are a running theme in the seven memos released on Thursday evening, a function of their prominent role in the dossier of unproven allegations involving the president’s 2016 campaign and the president’s apparent insistence on raising the subject on most of the occasions in which he and Comey spoke.
One particular discussion of the subject, though, is important for nontitillating reasons.
In a memo dated Feb. 8, 2017, written after an informal Oval Office meeting between Trump and himself, Comey writes:
“The President said ‘the hookers thing’ is nonsense but that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin had told him ‘we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.’ He did not say when Putin had told him this and I don’t recall [REDACTED].”
As is often the case with redactions, the missing section in this quote raises a lot of possibilities. But the point on which we should focus is the point onto which Comey also latched: When, exactly, did Trump and Putin have this conversation about sex workers?
This is important, because Trump’s admitted communications with Putin were limited. While Trump at one point claimed to have had a number of interactions with the Russian president, when it became apparent during the campaign that clear links to Putin might cast doubt on his loyalties, Trump quickly — and believably — backed away from any claimed relationship. If Trump and Putin had held more conversations than are known, it adds significant credibility to the idea that the Russian government and the Trump campaign might have had high-level, coordinated contacts. 
During the event, Trump’s longtime aide Keith Schiller testified last November, an unidentified Russian offered to send five prostitutes to Trump’s room at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton — where the allegations outlined in the dossier of reports compiled by British intelligence officer Christopher Steele purportedly occurred. 

(In the Comey memos, the former FBI director writes that Trump twice denied having stayed the night in Moscow, which Schiller’s testimony undercuts.)

↔↔↔↔↔↔My morning post↔↔↔↔↔

Rachel Maddow's show was more extraordinary than some of her other extraordinary shows which broke news as it was breaking. In fact, watching Chris Hayes in the hour before hers I saw him break the news that the AP had just released the Comey memos. (If you don't know what they are you haven't been paying attention for the last year.) She had Comey in her studio waiting for his much anticipated interview.

Then Rachel, her staff, and Comey had only 25 minutes to review the memos. As the show progressed most of her questions had to do with what she just learned from the memos. She even was reading them during the commercial breaks.

Here are the actual memos.

You will no doubt learn more about the memos today. Below, excerpted from The New York Times, are the six major takeaways from the memos. As usual, Trump's woman problem emerges and will be one of the primary focuses of the media attention because a previously unknown phone conversation Trump said he had with Putin, one which would have been his first, included Putin saying Russia had the most beautiful hookers in the world. 

Comey doesn't think this conversation happened. Instead he thinks Trump made up the story after seeing a video of Putin saying this on Russian TV. By the end of the day if you watch the non-Fox news you will probably have seen this clip of Putin.

Trump’s Preoccupation With the Dossier - especially the hooker story
The Dossier’s Allegations Were Corroborated 
Trump’s Focus on McCabe, Then a Relative Unknown  - According to the memos, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey during their January dinner whether Mr. McCabe “had a problem” with the president. 
What Priebus Knew - At their dinner, Mr. Trump gave contradictory explanations about whether Mr. Priebus knew they were meeting.  
The Flynn Investigation - In their own meeting on Feb. 8, 2017, Mr. Priebus tried to ask Mr. Comey whether the F.B.I. was wiretapping the national security adviser at the time, Michael T. Flynn.
Hunting Leakers - Mr. Comey explained how he hoped to catch one of the leakers to set an example.

This is how Trump reacted to the release of the memos. This Tweet was written at 8:37 PM, not too long after the memos were released.  When he read them all himself, or had someone read them for him, possibly on Fox News, remains to be determined.

We can only speculate as to whether or not he was watching Comey on Rachel Maddow last night when Comey actually discussed the memos.
Of course Trump is downright wrong here. The memos support Comey's previous acocunts of the meetings with the president. They suggest that there may have been obstruction, and do not address the subject of collussion.

There is no evidence in the memos that Comey leaked classified information.

By the time Trump was twitterbating at 3:00 AM this morning this is how he wrapped his mind around the release of the memos:

Fox News is using the I'm rubber, you're glue defense, better suited for the court of brainwashed Trumper public opinion than a real court.

Steve Hilton: Without a Comey prosecution, there’s no hope for healing America (Excerpt)

But what potential charges could Comey could face?
Obstruction of justice over the handling of the Clinton email investigation; lying to Congress over the conclusion of that investigation; theft of government property, in the form of his leaked memos; and abuse of power over the infamous Steele dossier. These are among the crimes that there are strong grounds to argue James Comey committed.
Worse even than that, the more that we learn – from Comey and others – about the conduct of the Obama administration and its senior officials during the late stages of the 2016 presidential election, and in the transition period before President Trump’s inauguration, the more it appears that a truly frightening usurpation of the democratic process might have been attempted.
Any fair-minded person would acknowledge that there is at least as much reason to suspect that the FBI, Department of Justice and others in the federal bureaucracy colluded with the Obama administration and Clinton campaign to influence the 2016 election as there are reasons to suspect that Donald Trump and his associates colluded with the Russians in similar vein.

And then there's this:

Comey memos expose major problem in Trump’s story about his night at the Moscow Ritz

Trump told Comey he didn't even spend a night there -- but that's not what his bodyguard testified.


What stands out in this book is Dr. Lee’s cri de coeur: “[T]he only people not allowed to speak about an issue are those who know the most about it.” I wish I believed that psychiatrists did in fact know the most about cases of dangerousness, but the totality of the empirical evidence available today refutes that. Lee claims in a crucial footnote that “dangerousness” is more about the situation, and not so much about the person. If that were so, on this view, there would be less need for a psychiatrist to have known or personally examined Donald Trump. But does anyone believe that psychiatrists know more about the presidency and the situation in the White House than other professionals?
The last chapter of the book carries the title, “He’s Got the World in His Hands and his Finger on the Trigger.” In it, two psychiatrists urge Congress to appoint a panel of experts to examine the president. Their proposed panel is to include three “non-partisan” neuropsychiatrists (not just plain-vanilla psychiatrists). Obviously, none of the contributors to this book could now claim to be “non-partisan.” More ironically, however, of the psychiatrists who opine about Trump as the “dangerous case,” none identify themselves as “neuropsychiatrists,” and none are recognized as such by our profession.
Still, there is an epilogue to this book written by the redoubtable Noam Chomsky. The two greatest threats to the planet, he tells us, are global warming and nuclear holocaust, and Trump is a menace on both counts. You do not have to be a psychiatrist to believe that.

April 18-19, 2018 BACK

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