News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: Irma, Debt Ceiling, RUSSIAN Troll Farms and Much, Much More

Vice President Mike Pence looks on with President Donald Trump during a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other Congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Good Thursday Morning.

Here is what’s on the President’s agenda today:

  • In the morning, President Donald J. Trump will receive an update on hurricane preparation and response.
  • The President will then receive his daily intelligence briefing.
  • Later in the morning, the President will meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
  • In the afternoon, the President will welcome Amir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah of Kuwait, meet with him, have a working luncheon with him, and then the two leaders will hold a joint press conference.
  • The President will then participate in an infrastructure meeting.
  • In the evening, the President will have dinner with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Speaker Paul Ryan will dine with President Trump this evening. It could be awkward.

The dinner comes a day after Trump agreed to support a Democratic goal of raising the debt ceiling, a deal Ryan previously criticized.

On Wednesday morning, the Speaker had dismissed the parameters of the Democratic proposal as “ridiculous” and “disgraceful,” only to see the president endorse them a few hours later.

The House passed a $7.85 billion bill for Harvey relief after Democrats vowed to attach language to the relief bill that will increase the debt limit and fund the government. The move set up an upcoming showdown over whether the Senate would pass a bill to increase the debt limit as part of the Harvey legislation.

Trump sides with Chuck and Nancy on debt ceiling

Depending on what your attitude about President Trump is, you may or may not be surprised the President sided with the Democrats on a short term debt ceiling increase.

President Donald Trump has agreed to support a three-month extension of the debt ceiling and government funding through Dec. 15, siding with congressional Democratic leaders over his own party and setting up another fight over must-pass fiscal legislation later this year.

The deal, which would tack on the limited extensions to Hurricane Harvey relief funds, was announced following Trump’s meeting at the White House with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders.

“We had a very good meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One after the meeting. “We agreed to a three-month extension on debt ceiling, which they consider to be sacred — very important — always we’ll agree on debt ceiling automatically because of the importance of it.”

According to sources, both McConnell and Ryan along with Steve Mnuchin supported a longer term ceiling hike. During the meeting, presidential daughter Ivanka popped into the meeting and ABC News said the GOP leaders “were visibly annoyed” by her visit.

According to WH Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short, Ivanka was asked “to briefly join the meeting for an update on the child care tax credit and how we are working to make tax reform a bi-partisan issue.”

“It was a quick and productive conversation,” he added.

One member of Congress was visibly upset when learning which side Trump decided to back: “I will tell you that I gasped when I heard it,” Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) told reporters on Air Force One.

Hurricane Update

Hurrican Irma has basically wiped the small island of Barbudo out, killing one person and decimating 90 percent of the island.

During an appearance Wednesday night on national broadcaster ABS, Prime Minister Browne described the damage he witnessed while flying over Barbuda, the smaller of the two sister islands that make up Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua was spared the worst of the storm.

Browne said the island was “barely habitable” and the damage “unprecedented.” He estimated that 95 percent of all buildings had suffered at least some damage. Many structures lost their roofs and others were completely destroyed. He said parts of the island are “literally underwater.”

And Irma can add St. Martin to its tote board. The hurricane killed eight people on the island and left 95% of the island in ruins.

“It is an enormous disaster, 95 percent of the island is destroyed, I am in shock,” Daniel Gibbs, chairman of a local council on Saint Martin, told Radio Caribbean International.

“We did not have the time yet to explore all the shores,” French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told Franceinfo radio, adding that 23 people were also injured. In all, at least 10 people were reported killed by Irma on four islands.

Irma continues on its path, headed to Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The storm is expected to remain a category 5 hurricane through Friday and is scheduled to hit Florida on Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday morning, Irma is expected to approach just south of Miami as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 145 mph. Forecasts show Irma weakening to a Category 3 hurricane near Daytona Beach on Monday morning as it creeps up the east coast.

The storm is expected to then move up the Florida coast as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph.

Georgia and South Carolina are in the northern edge of the forecast cone as well.

Stay safe and get out if you are in the trajectory of this monster hurricane!

Facebook: We sold $100k in ads to RUSSIAN troll farms

Facebook briefed the House and Senate Intelligence committees on its finding of RUSSIAN ad buys during the 2016 election.

The ads did not back or oppose a specific candidate and ran from June 2015-May 2016, before President Trump won the GOP nomination. What kind of “influence” are we talking about here? The media and the Democrats insist there was coordinated interference in the 2016 presidential election but this big Facebook reveal hardly illustrates that.

Facebook indicated that nearly 500 fake accounts purchased roughly 3,000 political ads between June 2015 and May 2017, according to Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer.

Most of the ads did not mention a specific presidential candidate or the election, but focused on “amplifying divisive social and political messages” on immigration, gun rights and LGBT issues, Stamos wrote.

Facebook also found an additional 2,200 political ads tied to Russia in a broader search of company records. The ads, purchase from the company for roughly $50,000, did not violate any company policies or laws, Facebook said in a statement.

The ads were also geographically targeted, but we do not know the specific targets. Witch hunter Mark Warner, D-VA admitted the information from Facebook did not “prove” that the Trump campaign directed the Russian troll farm. “I don’t have the answer to that yet,” he said. “Before this investigation is over we have to answer those questions.”

Serial liar Susan Rice meets with House Intelligence Committee

On Wednesday, former National Security Advisor and compulsive liar Susan Rice paid a visit to the House Intelligence Committee.

Rice was seen entering the Capitol by CBS News early Wednesday morning as she was expected to face questions from lawmakers in a closed-session of interviews.

First reported by The Wall Street Journal, subpoenas were issued to seek information about requests made by the former Obama administration official, as well as former CIA Director John Brennan and former UN Ambassador Samantha Power to unmask names contained in classified documents.

Rice did at times ask that certain names in intelligence reports be “unmasked” in order to understand the context in which they were mentioned in intelligence reports, a former national security official previously told CBS News.

Rice asked for the identities of those Americans picked up during surveillance of foreign nationals when it was deemed important context for national security, and she did not ask that the information be disseminated broadly, according to this former official.

However…

A Bloomberg report said that Rice requested the unmasking of Trump officials. Names of Americans swept up incidentally in the collection of intelligence are normally masked, or kept redacted, in intelligence briefings. However, the law provides for much leeway when it comes to unmasking by National Security Council officials, which suggests that Rice’s request was legal.

Legal? Tell it to the judge.

Picture of the day

Rescue staff from the Municipal Emergency Management Agency investigate an empty flooded during the passage of Hurricane Irma through the northeastern part of the island in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Hurricane Irma lashed Puerto Rico with heavy rain and powerful winds, leaving nearly 900,000 people without power as authorities struggled to get aid to small Caribbean islands already devastated by the historic storm.(AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Other morsels:

NBC News calls Menendez a Republican in corruption case report

Texas churches sue for FEMA aid

Pipe bombs found at Indiana post office, authorities say

California board grants parole for Manson ex-follower Van Houten

Women in midlife aren’t sleeping enough, study says

Police in suburban Atlanta kill escaped circus tiger

The Huckabees take on Trump-bashing liberals on ‘The View’

Mark Zuckerberg invited 3 ‘Dreamers’ to his Silicon Valley home and live-streamed their conversation

New York City Offers Free Lunch for All Public School Students

Court rules jilted husband can sue his wife’s lover

Armed Taco Bell workers shoot, kill robbery suspect

Trump calls Ivanka ‘honey,’ ‘baby’ during tax reform speech

“Aladdin” casts white actor as new prince

White Christians are now a minority of U.S. population, survey finds

Stop taking recess away, experts say it’s harmful for learning

And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mob!