News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: RUSSIA Collusion Update, Israel Fallout and Much, Much More

Palestinians burn posters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump, during a protest against the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Gaza City Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

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.”

Not unexpected.

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.”

Stay tuned.

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!

Other morsels:

House votes to kill Democrat’s resolution to impeach Trump

Trump administration asks Supreme Court to overrule precedent helping unions

Florida man sentenced to 15 years in prison for vandalizing mosque

Shock poll: Luke Skywalker is more popular than Han Solo?

Vladimir Putin announces plan to run for re-election in 2018

Man pleads guilty to smuggling tiger cub from Mexico to California

Roger Goodell signs contract extension as NFL commissioner

Website attacked over offensive plus-size advertisements

Thieves stole potentially millions of dollars in bitcoin in a hacking attack on a cryptocurrency company

Patagonia, coalition of conservationists sue Trump to protect Utah monuments

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