Trump Rejects Immigration Compromise, Mueller Indicts Russians

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, American president Donald Trump and British prime minister Theresa May attend a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25, 2017
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, American president Donald Trump and British prime minister Theresa May attend a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25, 2017 (NATO)

American president Donald Trump has for the second time torpedoed a bipartisan immigration bill by threatening to veto it.

The reason, NBC News reports, is that he wants to keep immigration as a political issue to rally his base going into November’s congressional elections.

The cynicism is astounding. Chris Hayes points out on Twitter:

  • First the president unilaterally ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, creating uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as minors.
  • He gave Congress six months to fix the problem (he had created), promising to sign whatever bill lawmakers would put in front of him.
  • He was promptly brought a bipartisan deal, which combined increased border security with a pathway to legal status for the so-called Dreamers. He rejected it.
  • He was then brought a second bipartisan deal with even more support. He rejected that.

Clearly the president isn’t interested a solution. He lied — as usual.

Also read David A. Hopkins, who argues Trump has pushed Republicans to the right on immigration, and Greg Sargent in The Washington Post, who points out that the Republican position on Dreamers is far to the right of Middle America’s. Read more “Trump Rejects Immigration Compromise, Mueller Indicts Russians”

Debunking Trump in the Russia Scandal

American president Donald Trump gives a speech in Paris, France, July 12, 2017
American president Donald Trump gives a speech in Paris, France, July 12, 2017 (DoD/Dominique A. Pineiro)

American president Donald Trump and his allies have come up with various defenses in the Russia scandal: There was no collusion; Collusion isn’t a crime anyway; The FBI is biased; Trump had every right to fire James Comey; And what about Hillary Clinton?

Here I’ll debunk those arguments. Read more “Debunking Trump in the Russia Scandal”

Party of Conspiracy Theorists

American president Donald Trump makes an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 24, 2017
American president Donald Trump makes an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 24, 2017 (Michael Vadon)

Damon Linker wonders what’s worse: that Republicans believe the FBI was doing the bidding of the Democratic Party by using opposition research funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign to get a court order to approve surveillance of a Donald Trump campaign advisor, Carter Page — or that they are only pretending to believe it in order to whip the Republican electorate into a conspiracy-addled froth of indignation against the legitimacy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation? Read more “Party of Conspiracy Theorists”

Three Ways Republicans Could Undermine Russia Probe

American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4
American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4 (ANG/Annie Edwards)

In their desperation to save Donald Trump from scandal, Republicans in the United States are looking for ways to undermine Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

NPR reports there are three ways they could do it: Read more “Three Ways Republicans Could Undermine Russia Probe”

Trump Apologists Muddy Waters After Flynn Pleads Guilty

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Donald Trump Jens Stoltenberg
Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Donald Trump of the United States listen to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO making a speech in Brussels, May 25 (NATO)

President Donald Trump’s defenders are muddying the waters in the Russia scandal after his former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials.

Two of Trump’s confidants (Flynn and Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager) may have lied to investigators; four (also counting Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos) may have been charged with felonies, but at least, the president’s apologists argue, there is no evidence of collusion!

Yet. Read more “Trump Apologists Muddy Waters After Flynn Pleads Guilty”

Russians Were All Over Trump’s Campaign

Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

Back in March, I wondered if anybody in Donald Trump’s inner circle wasn’t in touch with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The answer, we know now, is no. The Russians were all over Trump’s team.

Whether this was collusion or a case of collective and massive misjudgment is something Robert Mueller, the special counsel, must find out, but clearly the Russians were trying to influence the outcome of the election.

The fact that none of Trump’s underlings disclosed their Russian contacts, and when first asked about them lied, suggests they knew they were doing something wrong. Read more “Russians Were All Over Trump’s Campaign”

Allies Wary of Sharing Intelligence Since Trump Betrayed Israeli Source

Presidents Michel Temer of Brazil and Donald Trump of the United States meet at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, July 8
Presidents Michel Temer of Brazil and Donald Trump of the United States meet at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, July 8 (Bundesregierung)

Allies have become wary of sharing intelligence with the United States since President Donald Trump gave sensitive information about an Israeli covert operation to the Russians in May, reports Howard Blum for Vanity Fair.

The president boasted to Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the time that the United States had learned of an Islamic State plot to hide airplane bombs in laptops from a source deep inside the caliphate’s territory.

That spy turned out to be Israeli, raising concerns in the Jewish state that information shared with the Americans could, via Russia, find its way to their nemesis, Iran.

Michael Morell, a former acting director of the CIA, has publicly worried, “Third countries who provide the United States with intelligence information will now have pause.”

A senior Israeli military official was less circumspect, telling Blum, “Trump betrayed us.” Read more “Allies Wary of Sharing Intelligence Since Trump Betrayed Israeli Source”

Trump Accepts Putin’s Denials of Election Interference

Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

America’s spy agencies are unanimous in their assessment that Russia tried to sabotage the 2016 election. Yet Donald Trump puts more faith in the word of Vladimir Putin.

“Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that’,” Trump told reporters after meeting with the Russian president on the sidelines of a summit in Vietnam, “and I really believe that, when he tells me that, he means it.” Read more “Trump Accepts Putin’s Denials of Election Interference”

The American Culture Wars Are Officially a Strategic Threat

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

Donald Trump campaign people are going to jail.

This isn’t quite the fall of the Trumpian house of cards. Paul Manafort’s indictment is very specific to him and his work in Ukraine. More information must come out before we can be certain this will lead to the White House. While the revelations of George Papadopoulos create the strongest link yet, they have not produced an indictment to date.

Yet there is an essential tale here: for the first time in modern American history, a foreign power has substantially interfered with a political campaign. It’s not that others haven’t tried. The Soviet Union tried several times to back favored candidates, especially in the turbulent 1960s and 70s. But in those Cold War cases, American candidates refused the help.

This is the first time it looks like someone said yes.

What changed? Read more “The American Culture Wars Are Officially a Strategic Threat”

Former Trump Campaign Officials Arrested in Russia Probe

Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015 (Michael Vadon)

Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to sabotage the 2016 election has yielded charges against three veterans of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign:

  • Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and his business partner, Rick Gates, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on twelve counts, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to register as foreign agents, giving false and misleading statements and failure to report foreign bank accounts.
  • George Papadopoulos, a former Trump foreign-policy advisor, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during the campaign. Read more “Former Trump Campaign Officials Arrested in Russia Probe”