Thursday's HOT MIC
Good Thursday morning!
Here is what's on the president's agenda today:
- In the morning, President Donald J. Trump will meet with Republican members of the Senate.
- In the afternoon, the president will meet with the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.
- The president will then sign a proclamation for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
- Later in the afternoon, the president will meet with congressional leadership.
- The president will then meet with former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
- In the evening, the president and first lady Melania Trump will host a Hanukkah reception.
RUSSIA collusion update
The DOJ is currently reviewing more than 10,000 anti-Trump messages between Mueller investigators, reports The Daily Caller. 10,000? That's a lot of text messages!
Fox News reports that the bureau is reviewing “several months” worth of messages that the agent, Peter Strzok, exchanged with Lisa Page, an FBI attorney with whom he was having an affair.
The Justice Department is searching the texts before turning them over to the House Intelligence Committee, a process which could take “weeks.”
Don Trump Jr. testified before the House Intelligence Committee yesterday but he "declined to tell the House Intelligence Committee details about his conversation with President Trump regarding his meeting with a Russian lawyer, citing client privilege, according to the committee's top Democrat."
Trump Jr. told lawmakers he discussed the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with his father last summer, after emails setting up the meeting with a Russian lawyer became public. The meeting, with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, is one prong of the probe into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. Veselnitskaya has a record fighting for Kremlin-backed issues.
Trump Jr. frustrated panel Democrats by refusing to answer questions related to the controversial meeting, however, the Republican lawmaker leading the Russia investigation, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), maintained that Trump Jr. had answered "all" his questions. Other GOP lawmakers on the panel echoed that Trump Jr. cooperated with their questioning.
Democrats on the committee have repeatedly complained after panel interviews that the majority, who unilaterally have the power to issue subpoenas, have failed to press witnesses into answering questions that they want answered.
This happens when the other side is in power too, but they never complain about the minority not getting their way. It's possible that President Trump or Don Jr. had a lawyer present during those conversations and could not violate attorney-client privilege by answering the Democrats' questions.
A whistle-blower is reporting that General Mike Flynn, short-lived national security advisor, told his former business partner that the RUSSIA sanctions would be "ripped-up" and some deal put "in place."
Here's the backstory on the "deal:"
The whistleblower first approached staff on the Oversight Committee in June just after Newsweek published an account of Flynn's role in pursuing a joint U.S.-Russian plan to build nuclear power plants throughout the Arab world, to be financed by Saudi Arabia, according to the letter.
Copson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Flynn's attorney also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cummings said that he was releasing this information now because Mueller had asked him to hold off releasing it until Flynn and Mueller had entered into a cooperative agreement: Flynn's guilty plea of lying to investigators. So, if Mueller had this information and knew of the whistleblower, why didn't he nab Flynn on a more serious crime, if in fact as Cummings suggests, something nefarious was going on with Flynn?
Cummings conceded that Copson may have lied in his account to the whistleblower, which is why he asked Gowdy to agree to subpoena Copson and others to corroborate the claims.
Rep. Trent Gowdy, chair of the committee, responded to Cummings that he will not issue a subpoena.
Just asking: how would someone know what Flynn texted his former business partner and why would Flynn's business partner talk to this "whistleblower"?
[Alleged] harassment update
It looks like Senator Al Franken is going to resign. Yesterday, a boatload of Democrats came forward demanding that Franken abandon his Senate seat. Even Minority Leader Schumer gave a "talking to" to Franken. Today, Franken will hold a press conference, presumably to bounce from the Senate. So why now? Probably because Trump and the RNC have endorsed Moore and that gives them the high ground in the sexual harassment issue. Plus Franken's is a safe seat and they'll just get another Democrat in there until there's an election.
More lawsuits are piling up against Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein's wife, Georgina Chapman, is said to be "doing well."
Anger-challenged Alec Baldwin courageously came out on the other side of the harassment tsunami and "took to Twitter to chastise the way in which some late-night personalities have handled the growing cavalcade of sexual misconduct allegations in Hollywood."
“Talk shows were once promotional pit stops for some blithe chit chat about movies, etc.," he wrote. "Now the likes of @iamjohnoliver and @StephenAtHome have flipped that and they are beginning to resemble grand juries.”
This is true: none of the people in the headlines have been adjudicated guilty. Some, however, have admitted (weakly) what their accusers have alleged and apologized for their behavior.
Meanwhile, anti-Trump Twitter is pushing the "story" that President Trump raped a 13-year-old girl. Very shifty.
Trend alert: Republicans donating to Moore opponent Democrat Doug Jones.
Meltdown over Trump's Israel announcement
I knew this was coming and now we have it. CNN has a story informing its readers that White House officials believe the Jerusalem decision could hurt the peace process. The officials are two senior, anonymous White House officials. When you read their quotes, they aren't nearly as damning as the headline implies.
"We're prepared for derailment -- temporary, I hope. Pretty sure it will be temporary," said a senior White House official.
"In terms of a moment where it could happen, where it could be the least disruptive at a moment in time, this is the moment," the second official said. "We know there will be some short term pain, but think it will help in the long run." Wow, that headline sure seems misleading! I wonder why.
ABC News tells us that Tillerson will face pushback from Europe over the decision.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson faced stern feedback from some of his European counterparts over the Trump administration’s controversial foreign policies like recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and decertifying the Iran nuclear deal.
Europe is anti-Semitic AF, as the kids say. Why should we take our foreign policy direction from a bunch of countries in financial distress that are overrun with violent terrorist attacks and hate Jews?
Eight countries have called on the U.N. to hold an EMERGENCY meeting over the announcement.
Through gritted teeth, Britain described the move as “unhelpful” and France as “regrettable.” Germany said plainly that it “does not support” Trump’s decision. The European Union expressed “serious concern.”
House passes universal reciprocity bill
Yesterday, the House passed a bill that would allow gun owners with conceal and carry permits to carry across state lines. The media portrayed this as "making it easier" for people to get guns, but all it does is allow people who have passed the requirements of their home state for concealing and carrying their gun to do so when they travel out-of-state. The bill also included a measure that would tighten up the background check system — the system we saw fail in Texas when a violent nutter's Air Force court records were not transmitted to the background check database and he purchased firearms used to slaughter innocent churchgoers.
Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY), one of my favorite congressmen, voted against the bill because he didn't like the background check measure.
"It throws millions of dollars at a faulty program and it will result in more law-abiding citizens being deprived of their right to keep and bear arms," Massie wrote in a Facebook post.
What will happen in the Senate? The Hill tells us "Democrats are sure to block the concealed-carry measure, but a bipartisan coalition has enough votes to break a filibuster on enhancing background checks."
Important video of the day:
The Psych Movie airs tonight on USA Network at 8 p.m. ET. If you are a Psych fan, and you should be, don't forget to tune in!
And that's all I've got, now go beat back the angry mob!
Slate went super Slate-y today. First, there is this viral video of a man stopping to save a rabbit from one of the many California wild fires that are making me feel as if I have black lung disease.
Man saves bunny...what's not to like, right?
Well, one of the little perma-grumps at Slate found something.
But it is irresponsible to spread this video widely and cast him as a hero. If he had caught fire, wouldn’t the bystanders or people in cars passing by have had to help him? Doing so would have put them at risk, too. Several people could have ended up injured or worse because he tried to save a (wild!) rabbit. Or what if no one felt safe enough to help, and he was severely burned or died as a result? The people who were nearby would have likely felt tremendous guilt, possibly for the rest of their lives. Either way, it could have required response from emergency services that are already stretched thin.
It's an understatement to say that progressives aren't inherently happy people. They spend their wretched days on the lookout for injustices, rarely finding them, then just making some up. Even for the progs though, the leap from "man performs random act of kindness to an animal" to "OMG, EVERYBODY WILL CATCH HIS KINDNESS DISEASE AND BURN TO DEATH!" is quite fantastical.
It would be rather nice if we lived in a world where acts of kindness are infectious, but let's be serious here, people. This isn't that world. It's probably not going to be that world anytime soon. Be nice to someone if you can. You probably won't be consumed in an inferno.
House Republicans kicked the can down the road a few weeks and potentially avoided a government shutdown after December 8 by passing a two-week stop gap spending measure. The bill now moves on to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.
The spending patch through Dec. 22 gives lawmakers time to negotiate a bipartisan budget deal. At that time, Congress is expected to pass another short-term patch so that appropriators can craft a spending package to keep federal agencies funded through the rest of the 2018 fiscal year.
“I think it's kind of just basic governing is keeping government going while we negotiate the final details,” said Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Ahead of Thursday’s vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made clear that Democrats wouldn’t support the two-week stopgap.
Pelosi emphasized that Democrats don’t want to see a government shutdown, but couldn’t support Thursday’s bill because it doesn’t include their priorities like protections for young immigrants, funding for the opioid crisis and relief for communities affected by recent natural disasters.
“This is a waste of time,” Pelosi said at a press conference in the Capitol.
The Senate is expected to easily clear the two-week stopgap measure as early as Thursday evening. Though Democrats haven't formally said they will back the legislation, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) noted on Thursday morning that they are making good progress on budget deal talks.
A government shutdown would commence after Friday at midnight if Congress doesn't pass a spending bill by then.
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus were skeptical when GOP leaders first outlined plans to extend government funding to Dec. 22.
Freedom Caucus members are concerned that a deadline close to Christmas will pressure lawmakers to support a spending package loaded with extraneous items that conservatives will loathe.
To which I expel a hearty "duh." Threatening the members' cherished Christmas vacation is an easy way to get anything passed and has been used many times in the past by the leadership of both parties.
But it doesn't solve the basic problem of chaotic budgeting, which is driving the deficit. Automatic spending increases are in these "continuing resolutions" and simply pile on zeros to programs already too fat and out of control.
There will be no "grand bargain" on the budget when all is said and done around Christmas day. Dems will probably get their DACA amendment and the GOP will hopefully get tax reform passed. And then they'll all go home and brag to the voters what tremendous achievements they accomplished.
Reaching for the barf bag so I don't spew on to my monitor...
There were twenty survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor 76 years ago who gathered at the USS Arizona memorial to pay homage to the 2300 U.S. citizens who lost their lives that day.
They are getting fewer every year. No one knows how many survivors of the attack are left alive, but the best estimate from the experts is less than 2,000.
As always, the most poignant remembrances are from sailors who served on on ships attacked by Japanese bombers and torpedo planes.
Herbert Elfring remembered hearing bombs explode and first thought the explosions were U.S. training exercises.
Then a fighter plane with Japan's World War II Rising Sun insignia strafed the Camp Makaole base where Elfring, 19 at the time, was serving. The bullets missed him by about 15 feet (5 meters).
"When I looked up and saw the red ball on the fuselage I knew it wasn't our plane," he said. "I knew it was a Japanese plane."
The Jackson, Michigan man is now 95 and said returning to Pearl Harbor for the anniversary of the attack makes him feel special because he's one of the few remaining survivors.
"I have one of those caps that says 'Pearl Harbor Survivor' on it," he said. "It's amazing how many people come up and thank me for my service.
Add my name to those who thank you for serving, Mr. Elfring.
Alabama Democrats want to goose black turnout next Tuesday in an effort to put their nondescript, faceless, colorless candidate Doug Jones over the top in his race against teen heartthrob (well, he thinks so) Roy Moore.
But the way they went about it shows that they haven't forgotten their racist heritage in Alabama. They sent around the flyer below thinking it would motivate blacks to go to the polls.
The reaction was less than enthusiastic:
Someone, probably a white man, thought that the image would resonate with black people and motivate them to get out the vote. It’s as if black people were considering voting for the child molester until some brilliant strategist posited, “What if he were black, though?” The flyer is reductive in its oversimplification of the black mind as only caring about black issues. While it might not be racist, it is certainly racist adjacent.
It is also the Democratic Party.
So, is it better to be treated like dirt by actively looking to oppress black people as the Democrats did for 100 years after the Civil War? Or would blacks rather the be ignored, their vote taken for granted?
Now that Dems think Doug Jones has a decent chance to pick up a Senate seat, they have turned to Alabama’s black electorate as if they were in the state the entire time. Furthermore, the only argument they have made in their efforts to convince black voters to vote for Jones is that one thing he did for black people that one time. Every solicitation is the same: “Remember when he convicted the racists who bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church? See? He’s down!”
Edward Bowser, a Birmingham resident, said it best:
Maybe it’s because, like most reasonable, thoughtful Alabamians, I really want Jones to win—and believe me, scandal or not, his victory is far from guaranteed. This state is redder than the bottom of Cardi B’s shoes, after all. But Jones’ campaign has done such a poor job speaking to the black community that my passion has fizzled. Severely. And this isn’t a new predicament. WashPo and other news outlets might now just be picking up on the trend, but black voters have long been discouraged.
I appreciate what Doug Jones did in prosecuting KKK members in the deaths of four innocent girls. But when that’s the one and only message of black interest coming from your campaign, it shows an extreme disconnect.
Racial insensitivity is not a condition confined to Democrats, but it demonstrates a very special hypocrisy because of the long history by Democrats of being a virtual one-party state that oppressed the rights of black people. Apparently, southern Democrats haven't learned much in the last 50 years.