Trump’s Evangelical Board Jumps Ship to Stand With Nancy Pelosi

Wait… what happened here?

Members of President Trump’s evangelical advisory council decided to jump ship for the day and publicly sided with Nancy Pelosi on DACA.

“You have always taken the lead. Your commitment to the immigrant community to the dreams is second to none. So America is in a better place because of your prophetic leadership on this matter,” the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who spoke at Trump’s inauguration last year, told Pelosi at a press conference on Thursday.

Prophetic? Really?

That’s a glowing review of Pelosi’s tenure. And an absolute rejection of what Trump ran on.

Of course, the president has sided with Pelosi and Schumer on DACA, previously. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has also recently said that the president’s views are “evolving.”

We can see where this is heading.

“We can’t continue to play politics with 800,000 human beings created in the image of God. It is morally reprehensible,” Rodriguez said.

“If we have to build a wall in order to secure and save 800,000 lives, let’s make that happen as expeditiously as possible. Let’s cross the proverbial [River] Jordan of saving our DACA young men and women. Let’s do it now,” he continued.

But how does this go over with Trump’s base? Most are unwilling to compromise on the immigration issue.

Trump and Republican lawmakers are prepared to support protections for DACA recipients, as long as there are some strict border protection measures attached.

And I get that Trump doesn’t do a lot of consulting with his evangelical advisory board, given that the election is over and he doesn’t need to pimp them for votes, anymore, but have they all jumped ship for Pelosi or was this with Trump’s knowledge?

 

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President Trump May Regret Ordering Bannon to Limit His House Intel Testimony

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon sat before the House Intelligence Committee and let the White House (that had just labeled him “Sloppy Steve” the week before) to dictate what he answered, how he answered, and when he answered.

It was a scenario that riled the lawmakers who sat on the committee, as it became clear Bannon would be of no use to them, as long as the White House was pulling his strings.

According to ForeignPolicy.com, it was Trump, himself, who stepped in to stop Bannon from speaking freely.

 Trump acted to limit Bannon’s testimony based on legal advice provided by Uttam Dhillon, a deputy White House counsel, who concluded that the administration might have legitimate executive privilege claims to restrict testimony by Bannon and other current and former aides to the president, according to these same sources.

Great advice, Dhillon. Did you advise him that restricting his testimony to House Intel didn’t block Bannon from speaking to special counsel Robert Mueller. No chance for executive privilege there.

Dhillon’s advice might prove to be a “Pyrrhic victory,” one senior administration official told Foreign Policy.

While the president might be able to “poke the Congress in the eye,” the same legal rationale undercuts any effort to restrict the special counsel’s right to interview current or former Trump aides, the official said.

And everybody knows that Robert Mueller is running the big show, right now.

Reports are that Bannon and his attorney took multiple breaks to call the White House counsel’s office, in order to take direction on which questions to answer and which ones to refuse.

During the proceedings, Bannon was served a federal grand jury subpoena to be interviewed by Mueller. Bannon agreed to voluntarily sit for questioning by the FBI and prosecutors working with special counsel, avoiding the need to sit before a grand jury.

Bannon has also said he would answer anything Mueller asked of him.

“We encourage the committees to work with us to find the appropriate accommodation in order to ensure Congress obtains all the information that they’re looking for,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Yes. She actually said that after the White House pulled some cockamamie “executive privilege” stunt to keep Steve Bannon from talking to them.

Since Bannon didn’t answer questions from House Intel, they also served him with several subpoenas, for appearance and testimony.

It sounds like Bannon has a full calendar ahead.

I wonder if he holds a grudge?

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New Twist to Russia Probe Looks at the NRA’s Connection to Russian Money and the 2016 Election

How deep do Russian efforts to influence the U.S. government run? What agencies or organizations are they attempting to manipulate?

A new report from McClatchy DC reveals that the FBI, during the course of the ongoing investigation by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies into Russian meddling in the 2016 election are now looking at the National Rifle Association.

Specifically, did the NRA take Russian money to throw their support behind Donald Trump in the election?

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up.

It’s a valid question, regarding how long this has been on their radar.

The NRA officially endorsed  Trump in late May, after he’d emerged as the presumptive GOP nominee for the presidency.

Trump said all the right words to appeal to the Second Amendment crowd, no doubt.

And let’s face it – There’s no way the NRA or any gun owner was going to support Hillary Clinton. That would be the equivalent of political suicide.

What we now know about the investigation is that there is an extra focus on how Russian money possibly funded their interference.

Recent reports detail how Russian bot farms flooded social media platforms to not just promote Trump, but to otherwise cause friction and turmoil among different factions of American society.

The extent to which the FBI has evidence of money flowing from Torshin to the NRA, or of the NRA’s participation in the transfer of funds, could not be learned.

However, the NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, including $30 million to support Trump – triple what the group devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that was money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors.

Two people with close connections to the powerful gun lobby said its total election spending actually approached or exceeded $70 million. The reporting gap could be explained by the fact that independent groups are not required to reveal how much they spend on Internet ads or field operations, including get-out-the-vote efforts.

So who is Torshin?

He’s a major figure in Vladimir Putin’s ruling party. He was a former senator, and has previously been implicated in working with Russian mobsters to launder money through Spanish properties and banks.

A summary obtained by McClatchy of the still-secret report links Torshin to Russian money laundering and describes him as a godfather in a major Russian criminal organization called Taganskaya.

Investigators for three congressional committees probing Russia’s 2016 operations also have shown interest in Torshin, a lifetime NRA member who has attended several of its annual conventions. At the group’s meeting in Kentucky in May 2016, Torshin spoke to Donald Trump Jr. during a gala event at the group’s national gathering in Kentucky in May 2016, when his father won an earlier-than-usual NRA presidential endorsement.

Yeah. That sounds really bad.

My first question is why is a Russian citizen and official a member of the NRA, to begin with? Am I wrong in assuming the “National” in National Rifle Association means this nation?

I guess anybody with the membership fee can join, but it does seem a bit “off.”

Ok. That’s just me and my suspicious nature.

It was around a year ago that three U.S. intelligence agencies determined that what was an initial operation by Russians to undermine and destroy American citizens’ faith in our nation’s democracy, had developed into a drive to support Donald Trump. Because of that assessment, 35 Russian diplomats were expelled from the U.S., and sanctions were brought against Russia.

Torshin is just one of the Putin associates to catch the attention of investigators. He’s also one, along with a several Russian billionaires or pro-Russia Ukraine oligarchs that are raising red flags, due to their contact with Trump or members of Trump’s circle.

Torshin was a senior member of the Russian Senate and in recent years helped set up a Moscow gun rights group called Right to Bear Arms. He not only spoke with Trump Jr. at the NRA convention, but he also tried unsuccessfully to broker a meeting between Putin and the presidential candidate in 2016, according to the Times. He further sought to meet privately with the candidate himself near the 2016 NRA convention.

High-level NRA members visited Moscow in late 2015, for a week of meetings with Russian government and business officials. Torshin hosted several dinners for those members during their stay.

Some of those on the trip included Joe Gregory, who runs the NRA’s Ring of Freedom program for wealthy donors who donate $1 million and upwards, Pete Brownell, a chief executive of a firearms company, as well as longtime NRA board member, and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

In their internal report, Spanish prosecutors revealed a web of covert financial and money-laundering dealings between Torshin and Alexander Romanov, a Russian who pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges in 2016 and was sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

The prosecutors’ evidence included 33 audio recordings of phone conversations from mid-2012 to mid-2013 between Torshin and Romanov, who allegedly laundered funds to buy a hotel on the ritzy island of Mallorca. Torshin had an 80 percent stake in the venture, the Spanish report said.

In the phone conversations, Romanov referred to Torshin as the “godfather” or “boss.” Torshin has denied any links to organized crime and said his dealings with Romanov were purely “social.”

In the summer of 2013, Spanish police were prepared to arrest Torshin, who was expected to attend a birthday party for Romanov.

A Russian prosecutor apparently tipped Torshin off, and he cancelled his trip.

When Donald Trump Jr. was questioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee in December, he was asked about that discussion with Torshin at the NRA convention.

Trump Jr.’s attorney said that it was a brief conversation, small talk about guns.

The connection gets more tangled, however.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent letters in November to two senior Trump foreign policy aides, J.D. Gordon and Sam Clovis, seeking copies of any communications they had with or related to Torshin; the NRA; veteran conservative operative Paul Erickson; Maria Butina, a Torshin protege who ran the Russian pro-gun group he helped launch, and others linked to Torshin.

Erickson has raised funds for the NRA and is a friend of Butina’s. Shortly before the NRA’s May 2016 convention, he emailed Trump campaign aide Rick Dearborn about the possibility of setting up a meeting between Putin and Trump during the campaign, according to the Times.

Erickson’s email to Dearborn bore the subject line “Kremlin Connection.” In it, Erickson solicited advice from Dearborn and his boss, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a top foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, about the best way to connect Putin and Trump.

It was Jared Kushner that stopped any meeting between Toshin and Trump happening at the NRA convention.

So who else is tied to Torshin?

Among others is California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (deemed by some as Putin’s “best friend” in Washington).

Last February when Torshin visited Washington, Rockefeller heir and conservative patron George O’Neill Jr. hosted a fancy four-hour dinner for the banker on Capitol Hill, an event that drew Rohrabacher, Erickson and other big names on the right. Rohrabacher has labeled Torshin as “conservatives’ favorite Russian,” Torshin was in Washington at the time to lead his country’s delegation to the National Prayer Breakfast, where Trump spoke. The banker also was slated to see the president at a meet-and-greet event prior to a White House breakfast, but Torshin’s invitation was canceled after the White House learned of his alleged mob connections, Yahoo News reported.

There are definite ties between the NRA and Torshin. There are definite ties between Torshin and Putin. There are very likely ties between Torshin and organized crime in Russia.

How this blows back on the NRA and their support of Trump may be buried in deeper levels of the ongoing investigation into Russian interference.

And has been pointed out in several areas, lately, it’s all going back to money and money laundering.

 

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WOW: WikiLeaks Takes a Hard Shot at the Trump Administration During the “Fake News Awards”

UH-OH.

Did the bill come due?

Donald Trump happily proclaimed on the campaign trail: “I love WikiLeaks!”

That was in response to the WikiLeaks dump of DNC emails and documents, which caused such turmoil on the left.

Documents revealed that the DNC was actively working to torpedo candidate Bernie Sanders, in favor of Hillary Clinton. It caused enough of a family feud within the Democrat party that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz stepped down as DNC chairwoman, and many Democrat voters threw their support to Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

WikiLeaks, and more specifically, founder Julian Assange (basically, still WikiLeaks) have shown a dogged allegiance to Trump, on the campaign trail, and through the first year of his presidency.

Trump supporters, like Sean Hannity, who wanted to see Assange charged and jailed in previous years, have suddenly become big fans of all things WikiLeaks.

Because they’re big, fat, stinking hypocrites.

It’ll be interesting to see if Hannity and the other media fans of the Kremlin WikiLeaks have a reaction.

Following Trump’s moronic “Fake News Awards” bit of trifling on Wednesday evening, the WikiLeaks account basically planted their feet and pointed out that if you want to find “fake news,” be sure to point at your president, as well.

A frequent source of false information.

Some of us are well aware, actually. Others have convinced themselves that if you deny long enough, a lie becomes truth, and the truth becomes a lie.

Those folks wear red caps and convulsively scream, “MAGA!” as a retort to any attempts at reasoned discussion.

WikiLeaks wasn’t done commenting on Trump’s frivolous “awards show.”

In another tweet Wednesday, WikiLeaks cited a specific recipient of the “Fake News Awards.” The No. 3 award went to CNN for its report that “candidate Donald Trump and his son Donald J. Trump, Jr. had access to hacked WikiLeaks documents from WikiLeaks.”

“While Trump’s #FakeNewsAwards attributes the “bronze” (#3) medal to CNN, in fact, NBC & CBS also originated or “verified” the same false story in an extraordinary case of triple fake news placement that still lacks all transparency or discipline,” WikiLeaks tweeted.

The U.S. intelligence community has linked WikiLeaks to the Kremlin, and Russian efforts to exert influence over the direction of the 2016 election.

Officials have concluded “with high confidence” that WikiLeaks got the DNC emails from Russian hackers, working for the Russian government.

WikiLeaks denies it. Russia denies it. Trump devotees deny it.

None of these sources should be trusted to be completely honest and forthright.

And while Trump has repeatedly called for a more warm and cooperative relationship with Russia, that end has been moved back by some recent administration decisions (such as publicly calling for moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem).

That might account for WikiLeaks’ unexpected shot at the Trump administration on Trump’s favorite venue.

 

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Steve Bannon’s Cantankerous Meeting With the House Intelligence Committee

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon went into his testimony with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday with orders from his former boss not to discuss anything that went on while he served in the administration.

It made for a frustrating day for the members of the committee.

He did reveal one bit of info, according to sources who spoke to Axios:

Regarding the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and several Russians, Bannon discussed that topic with former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former press secretary Sean Spicer, and  legal spokesman Mark Corallo.

Bannon immediately realized he’d slipped up and disclosed conversations he wasn’t supposed to discuss, because they happened while he was chief strategist in the White House. Throughout the rest of the session, committee members — in particular Republican Trey Gowdy and Democrat Adam Schiff — hammered Bannon over the fact that he’d mentioned those conversations but refused to discuss anything else about his time in the White House.

Bannon’s lawyer, Bill Burck, told the committee in his opening remarks that Bannon wouldn’t answer any questions that relate to his time inside the White House or during the presidential transition. The committee caught him in the slip-up inside the first 90 minutes.

That Trump Tower meeting is of a particular interest to Robert Mueller’s team, because it is probably the closest instance of collusion uncovered in the ongoing investigation, so far.

Also, the misleading statement that was allegedly crafted on Air Force One by Trump is of interest.

Why lie?

During the proceedings, an official walked in and informed the committee of the grand jury subpoena from Mueller’s team.

That caused a pause, as they consulted on how to proceed with their own questioning.

Trey Gowdy, who led the Republican questioning, pressed Bannon hard on his description of Don Junior’s Trump Tower meeting as “treasonous.” Gowdy asked Bannon whether he would consider it treason for somebody close to him to approach Wikileaks’ Julian Assange to get opposition research on Hillary Clinton. Bannon replied that such a scenario would be bad judgment. Then Gowdy produced emails from a Cambridge Analytica employee — the Trump campaign data firm closely affiliated with Bannon — boasting of just such contacts with Assange. Bannon claimed this was the first time he’d seen these emails (though they’ve been in the news.)

That’s when things got ugly, as Bannon decided to go full-on, alt-right warrior, in his attempt to drain the swamp, right there.

Bannon attacked the Republicans running these congressional committees for choosing to investigate the Trump campaign and Russia. He said it was part of an “establishment” plan to try to “nullify” the election result. Gowdy challenged him on that, asking Bannon who is this establishment you refer to who is trying to nullify Trump’s victory? Bannon answered: Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Gowdy countered that Bannon couldn’t have it both ways. Was he also referring to Trump confidant Kevin McCarthy — the leader of the Republican House conference — who is surely part of the same Ryan-McConnell “establishment?”

Good question.

It seems as if Bannon may really be trying to get back on the Trump train. Maybe somebody should point out to him that Trump has partnered with Ryan and McConnell, and has pretty much been absorbed into the swamp.

When asked if he really thought there was no chance that Trump Jr. didn’t take the Russians up to meet his father during the June 2016 meeting, Bannon seemed to suggest he was speculating.

Throughout the hearing, Bannon kept telling committee members: “I really want to answer this question,” and “I really wish I could answer these questions.” That became a sore point with members. They kept asking him why he felt liberated to abandon executive privilege and leak prolifically about the White House to journalists and author Wolff, but wouldn’t talk to Congress.

Another good question. It may be because everyone thought they had the green light to talk to Wolff, and Bannon, seeing himself as the king maker, felt empowered by the attention.

Bannon has said that he will tell Mueller everything he knows, so that could be an interesting reveal.

One last point sources told Axios was that Bannon praised the committee members for their “professionalism and preparedness,” but someone familiar with Bannon said that that was most likely said tongue-in-cheek.

Well, Bannon is known to be a nasty individual, so a bit of snark would be expected, especially after the heated back and forth over Bannon’s non-answers.

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“Fire and Fury” Book Is About to Break New Ground

Ok. You could just about guess that this is where this was going.

Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” is a hit, no doubt. How valid, or how accurate the portrayals in the book may be, there’s no denying that it caught the interest of the public, and now it’s going further.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Fire and Fury” is about to become a TV series.

Endeavor Content and purchased the film and television rights to the book, in what is rumored to be a 7-figure TV deal.

Endeavor is the financing and sales arm of William Morris Endeavor and IMG.

Wolff will executive produce the series, with veteran Channel 4 and BBC executive Michael Jackson — now CEO of indie producer Two Cities Television — also on board to produce.

Fire and Fury, which tells the inside story of Donald Trump’s first year as president based on Wolff’s exclusive access to the White House, has been the publishing sensation of 2018. The book had attracted little attention since it was first announced in November. But earlier this month, The Guardian leaked news from the heavily embargoed book and authorized excerpts in New York and a column The Hollywood Reporter — where Wolff serves as a columnist — created a sensation. Trump attacked both the book and former adviser Steve Bannon, who was one of Wolff’s principal sources. Bannon later stepped down from Breitbart News in the aftermath of the publication of his comments in the book.

The popularity of the book, combined with this crazy point in history we’re now living through, made the idea of transferring it to TV series a natural progression.

The release date of the book was moved from January 9 to January 5, after the White House tried to block its release.

Bookstores sold out in minutes.

It shot to the number one spot on the New York Times best-seller list, after only 2 days of sales.

In less than a week, there were over 700,000 copies shipped and 1.4 million hardcovers on order, which makes it the fastest selling non-fiction book in publisher Henry Holt’s history.

Ok. I know there are some who would dispute the characterization of the book as “non-fiction,” but there it is.

To date, rights to the book have been sold in 32 countries. It is currently the best-selling book of any genre worldwide. (A Spanish-language edition is set for Feb. 28, with subsequent takes in Arabic, Albanian, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Japanese, French, German and other languages also planned.)

Fire and Fury comes to the small screen after HBO canceled a planned series based on the 2016 election in what was poised to be a Game Change sequel of sorts. The pay cabler scrapped the project after sexual harassment allegations emerged regarding source material co-author Mark Halperin, who was poised to pen the script alongside John Heilemann. That opened the door for a Trump tell-all, with demand high for Fire and Fury given Wolff’s cinematic writing and fly-on-the-wall detail.

This will be the largest deal, to date, for Endeavor Content.

The project is now being shopped to networks, but given the popularity of the book, finding a home for it on the small screen shouldn’t be a problem.

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BUSTED: Tabloid Interview With Porn Star Spills Details on Affair With Donald Trump

Well, so much for that nondisclosure agreement.

The Daily Beast reported earlier today that In Touch Magazine would feature an interview with porn star Stormy Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford), where she described the tawdry details of her fling with Trump.

Sure enough, the magazine hit  your supermarket checkout lines today.

The cover features a large, glossy image of Daniels, with the headline:

“My Affair With Donald.”

It also includes such splashy teasers, as:

“He was sitting on the bed… and we started kissing.”

SECRET HOTEL HOOKUPS!

HOW THEY HID IT FROM MELANIA

It’s not like Daniels exactly violated the NDA. The interview is actually from 2011. So while she’s denying it now, and she supposedly took money from Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen in 2016, it’s all closing the barn door after the horse has already bolted across the pasture.

Oops.

Some of the revelations from the In Touch article?

Daniels took a polygraph test about the affair and passed before the interview.

The first encounter was in 2006 at Trump’s Lake Tahoe, Nevada hotel. In the 2011 interview, the story was also corroborated by Daniels’ ex-husband, Mike Mos, as well as a good friend, Randy Spears.

Her friend and fellow porn star, Alana Evans, also confirmed knowledge of the affair.

Stormy told In Touch, “[The sex] was textbook generic,” while discussing the fling they had less than four months after Donald’s wife, Melania, gave birth to their son, Barron. “I actually don’t even know why I did it, but I do remember while we were having sex, I was like, ‘Please, don’t try to pay me.’”

You did it because you’ve deadened your soul by peddling your body for money, but that’s a whole other issue.

It all started at the American Century celebrity golf tournament in July 2006. “[Trump] was introduced to everybody. He kept looking at me and then we ended up riding to another hole on the same golf cart together,” Stormy recalled, adding that the business mogul later came to the gift lounge her adult-film company, Wicked Pictures, sponsored and asked for her number, which she gave him, before they posed for a photo together.

“Then he asked me if I wanted to have dinner that night. And I was like, ‘Yeah, of course!’” she told In Touch. Stormy, dressed up to go out on the town, arrived at Trump’s hotel room, where she says she was greeted by a bodyguard named Keith, who let her inside. Stormy claims Trump was sprawled on the couch watching TV, wearing pajama pants. “We ended up having dinner in the room,” she revealed to In Touch.

That would likely be Keith Schiller, Trump’s longtime bodyguard, who recently left the White House to take work in the private sector.

At one point, Stormy told In Touch, she excused herself to go to the bathroom. “When I came out, he was sitting on the bed and he was like, ‘Come here.’ And I was like, ‘Ugh, here we go.’ And we started kissing.” After having sex, Stormy said, “We hung out for a little while and he just kept saying, ‘I’m gonna call you, I’m gonna call you. I have to see you again. You’re amazing. We have to get you on The Apprentice.’”

Daniels claims that the future president pursued her, and that they had several more encounters. One of those happened at his private bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.

Let me reiterate, for all the Evangelical Trump supporters: This was while his wife, Melania, was home with a 4 month old baby.

For those who will attack this as tabloid nonsense, let’s not forget Trump’s love of THE supermarket tabloid, National Enquirer.

I guess it all depends on if the stories benefit him, or not.

 

 

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The Chaotic Chain of Command That Allowed Michael Wolff Access to the White House

The book. The book. The book!

So as it seems the mighty din over Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” has finally began its ebb, we can talk about just how Wolff gained such access to the White House.

For starters, he wasn’t exactly upfront about the book title. He gave a title that kinda/sorta/might have sounded complimentary to the new president.

According to Bloomberg:

He called it “The Great Transition: The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration.” And in part due to that title, Wolff was able to exploit an inexperienced White House staff who mistakenly believed they could shape the book to the president’s liking.

Trump foiled again, because of his massive, pampered ego.

Nearly everyone who spoke with Wolff thought someone else in the White House had approved their participation. And it appears that not a single person in a position of authority to halt cooperation with the book — including Trump himself — raised any red flags, despite Wolff’s well documented history. His previous work included a critical book on Trump confidant Rupert Murdoch, the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. co-chairman.

The bungling of combined inexperience and hubris.

Of course, the book was not complimentary, at all. It roiled the White House, resulted in a very public, very nasty split between Trump and his former strategist, Steve Bannon (even got Bannon booted from his position with Breitbart), and has commanded the news cycle for weeks.

From the beginning, Wolff got his first foot in the door, after Trump saw him on CNN, attacking the media for their coverage of Trump.

Hook.

Wolff told Trump during the call that he wanted to write a book on the president’s first 100 days in office. Many people want to write books about me, Trump replied — talk to my staff. Aides Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks listened to Wolff’s pitch in a West Wing meeting the next day, but were noncommittal.

Several aides said Hicks later informally endorsed talking with Wolff as long as they made “positive” comments for the book, which they said Wolff told them would counter the media’s unfair narrative.

Line.

It wasn’t until late August that alarm bells were raised in the White House — when Hicks, Jared Kushner and their allies realized that fellow aides who had spoken with Wolff, especially Bannon, may have provided damaging anecdotes about them.

Sinker.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has insisted that the booted Steve Bannon was the one who allowed Wolff access to the White House, probably “95 percent of the time.”

Away from the press briefings, however, the word is that others were very much involved in getting Wolff inside.

Kellyanne Conway is said to have worked Wolff inside on multiple occasions.

Then there’s Hope Hicks.

Some of Trump’s senior-most staff believed that Hicks, one of Trump’s longest-serving aides who has acted as a gatekeeper for his interview requests, had authorized their cooperation with Wolff. They recalled that she encouraged them to engage with the author as long as they made positive comments. Hicks hadn’t greenlit the book, people familiar with her handling of the matter said — but nor did she immediately put up a stop sign.

I’m going to gamble a guess and say Wolff continued to let them believe this was going to be a positive book.

Insiders say Wolff scheduled 17 appointments, and nobody, including then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus put a stop to it.

In fact, Wolff played up his relationship with Trump, saying they’d known each other a long time.

In addition to Bannon and Conway, the author also spoke with son-in-law and senior adviser Kushner, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, then-Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh, Priebus, Spicer and others. All declined to comment for this story.

Kushner met with Wolff late in the author’s reporting, only in order to push back on anticipated attacks on him, two White House officials said. Spicer sat down with Wolff at the author’s request because Wolff wanted his help to arrange an interview with the president. Mulvaney talked with Wolff on two occasions only because two senior White House aides asked him to speak with the author about the budget.

Conway participated in one public interview with Wolff at an April 12 Newseum event in Washington marking Trump’s first 100 days. Wolff said on stage that it was the continuation of a conversation with Conway that had begun “early in the transition.” He had interviewed her for a Hollywood Reporter article published Jan. 26.

I think Conway is a little too thrilled with the spotlight, as well. She got quite a bit of mention in the book. Maybe not as much as Bannon, but she’s prominently featured.

And no one seemed to take Wolff’s history into account.

No one.

Hope Hicks at first promised Wolff a direct interview with the president, but later turned him down, so the interview never happened.

Trump allies said they sought Hicks’s guidance on whether to speak with Wolff because they consider her to be the aide most familiar with Trump’s media preferences, having served as the White House director for strategic communications before moving into her current role as communications director. She previously was a top communications staffer for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and before that worked for the Trump Organization.

Hicks advised at least one Trump ally contacted by Wolff to cooperate with the author if he chose — and if he thought he could shape a positive narrative about the president.

It took John Kelly and a firm hand to cut down on who got access to the White House. It was his entrance as Chief of Staff that ended Wolff’s time “researching” for the book.

And not a moment too soon. What would another month have revealed?

 

 

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John McCain Defends the Free Press in a New Op-Ed on the Day of Trump’s “Fake News Awards”

So today was to be the day that the reality TV host-in-chief went back to what he actually knows and put on a wacky show for the cameras, as he announces the “winners” of the “Fake News Award.”

You know, because as president of our nation, Trump has no other issues more pressing than demonizing the free press.

I’ve raised my concerns about Trump’s treatment of the press multiple times. I think it’s reckless, at best, insidious at worst.

I absolutely believe Trump’s goal is to close out any dissenting viewpoints, in order to create a “safe space,” state-run media bubble, where no one hears or reads negative views about him. All that is filtered out and all that’s left are the sycophants and bobbleheads of Fox News and Gateway Pundit.

Exiting Arizona Senator Jeff Flake is scheduled to give a speech on the Senate floor today about the danger of Trump’s attacks on the media.

Trump loyalists have attacked the text of the speech, as it uses Communist dictator Joseph Stalin’s treatment of journalists as a point of comparison.

Well, let’s see… Stalin kept a tight lid on any news that wasn’t worshipful of him. He used willing media as propaganda to push the notion of himself as a loving, powerful “father” of the nation.

The fact that we have a First Amendment that limits how far Trump can take his control of the media does not negate the fact that he seems to share Stalin’s view of how journalists should be controlled.

I promise you – repeal the First Amendment today, and Jim Acosta would be in a federal prison by tomorrow.

To that point, another Arizona senator, John McCain, has stepped up to give support to Flake, with an op-ed in the Washington Post, chastising Trump for his childish, destructive attacks on the media.

McCain explained that former President Ronald Reagan established the Reagan Ronald Reagan Freedom Award after he left office to acknowledge those who have promoted liberty around the world. “Reagan recognized that as leader of the free world, his words carried enormous weight, and he used them to inspire the unprecedented spread of democracy around the world,” McCain wrote in an opinion piece published on the Washington Post website Tuesday evening.

Trump, by comparison, “does not seem to understand that his rhetoric and actions reverberate in the same way,” the senator said. “He has threatened to continue his attempt to discredit the free press by bestowing ‘fake news awards’ upon reporters and news outlets whose coverage he disagrees with. Whether Trump knows it or not, these efforts are being closely watched by foreign leaders who are already using his words as cover as they silence and shutter one of the key pillars of democracy.”

Let’s be honest: Comparing Trump to Reagan puts Trump at a distinct disadvantage. On his best, most controlled day, he couldn’t compete with Reagan on his worst day.

He also has no capability to think beyond his own, selfish wants and needs.

Sure, he may have passed the cognitive health test, but that doesn’t measure emotional health, and Trump is lacking. Obviously.

Pointing out that journalists in other areas of the world are being attacked, imprisoned, or murdered, McCain further stressed the danger of Trump using dumb antics, like his “Fake News Award” to silence and undermine the press.

“Trump’s attempts to undermine the free press also make it more difficult to hold repressive governments accountable,” McCain wrote. “For decades, dissidents and human rights advocates have relied on independent investigations into government corruption to further their fight for freedom. But constant cries of ‘fake news’ undercut this type of reporting and strip activists of one of their most powerful tools of dissent.”

This is where the Trump devotees start convulsing and foaming at the mouth, “McCain is a RHINO!”

And I’ve never understood why they keep bringing up that three-toed, horned herbivore.

Is he a centrist? He absolutely is, and I’ve loathed and openly mocked his policies on numerous occasions.

But is he right?

Yes.

He further pointed out that the U.S. can’t continue to be defenders of human rights abroad, if attacks on free speech and independent journalism continue at home.

“Ultimately, freedom of information is critical for a democracy to succeed,” he wrote. “We become better, stronger and more effective societies by having an informed and engaged public that pushes policymakers to best represent not only our interests but also our values. Journalists play a major role in the promotion and protection of democracy and our unalienable rights, and they must be able to do their jobs freely. Only truth and transparency can guarantee freedom.”

I absolutely get why some view the press negatively. They have shown bias. They have made mistakes in their reporting, sometimes getting the story wrong.

That being said, it is wiser to judge each story individually and on its merits than to attack the media as a whole, just because the reporting is uncomfortable.

So will we be “treated” to Trump’s dumb awards event? We don’t know. No definite schedule has been announced for it, and it’s been downgraded to a “possible” event. My hope, however, is that this thing fades away. It serves no other purpose than to keep the public riled against the media.

 

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Source: Red State


House Intel Member Accuses White House of Issuing a “Gag Order” on Steve Bannon

While Trump’s defenders describe the president as the most bigly innocent leader in the history of the world, he sure does act like somebody who’s guilty as sin.

As I told you earlier, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday was called a “free-for-all” by some.

Bannon refused to answer any questions about his time in the White House, or the transition period, making the whole hearing an exercise in futility.

So why did he walk in so tight-lipped?

Because the White House got to him before his meeting today and told him not to talk about those things.

So how are the members of the House Intelligence Committee responding?

Although the “gag order” is not a formal invocation of executive privilege by the White House, Schiff told MSNBC host Chris Hayes: “This is the broadest effort to effectively gag a witness we have seen.”

Another Democratic member of the intelligence panel, Rep. Jim Hines of Connecticut, also complained on CNN that Bannon did not answer many of the investigators’ questions because of a “very novel theory of executive privilege.”

Rep. Devin Nunes issued a subpoena for documents and testimony, due to Bannon’s unwillingness to come clean.

Schiff remarked it was the first time any subpoena has had to be issued from the committee because the White House had stopped the witness from speaking.

Seriously. For those who insist we’ve got the most forthright, squeaky-clean president ever, explain to me how this doesn’t seem like they’re trying to stop something from coming out.

Additionally, Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said after the nearly 10-hour interview that the committee would retrieve the answers they were looking for, according to Chad Pergram from Fox News.

“We’re going to get these answers. This witness is not an executive. We have additional questions,” Conaway was quoted as saying.

So the disgust with Bannon’s refusal to give answers was bipartisan.

Bannon has said he’d give his answers to special counsel Robert Mueller, who issued a grand jury subpoena to Bannon last week.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that they weren’t worried about Bannon speaking to Mueller.

“As with all congressional inquiries touching upon the White House, Congress must consult with the White House prior to obtaining confidential material,” Sanders said. “This is part of a judicially recognized process that goes back decades. We’ve been cooperating fully with these ongoing investigations and encourage the committees to work with us to find an appropriate accommodation in order to ensure Congress obtains information necessary to its legitimate interests.”

Confidential material? They just want to ask Bannon some questions.

And if you were working fully with Congress, why tell Bannon not to answer those House Intelligence Committee questions?

I think we all know.

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Source: Red State