News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: AZ Special Election, Jackson Smeared and Much, Much More

UNITED STATES - APRIL 24: Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary, leaves Dirksen Building after a meeting on Capitol Hill with Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., on April 24, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Good Wednesday morning

I do not have the President’s agenda today

Republican wins AZ special election

Republican Debbie Lesko has won the special election to replace Trent Franks, who resigned from office late last year. The “story” on this race–and the story always changes about what a GOP victory or loss means in the era of the resistance– is that anything less than a double-digit win by the Republican candidate is some kind of mandate on Trump’s presidential victory. As of right now, the spread is about 6 points — very convenient.

I’ve heard the smart people tell me that Franks won by huge margins (20 points) in this district. But in 2016 and 2014 the Democrats didn’t even run a candidate so it’s not exactly the same situation.

RUSSIA collusion round-up

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) argues that legislation to “protect” Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired is unconstitutional in an oped for USA Today. Lee explains:

Supporters of the legislation argue it is necessary to ensure no one is above the law, but the Constitution is the highest law of the land, and the Constitution provides that only the president can exercise executive power.

Because the power to prosecute is the quintessential executive authority, any congressional attempt to direct prosecutions — including by limiting the president’s power to fire a prosecutor — is an unconstitutional breach in the separation of powers. All senators swear to uphold the Constitution, and I hope that the full Senate will not pass this legislation, if it advances out of committee.

Fired FBI Director James Comey has lawyered up amid allegations that he leaked classified memos to his buddy to distribute to the New York Times. Sources say that former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will help Comey “navigate [Comey’s] dramatic role as a potential witness in the investigation of President Trump’s campaign and potential obstruction of justice.” You may remember Fitzgerald from his stint as the special counsel that prosecuted Scooter Libby. Fitzgerald knew State Department employee Richard Armitage “leaked” the identity of Valerie Plame but went after and convicted Libby as the leaker, purportedly when Libby wouldn’t turn on VP Dick Cheney.

There’s a new development in the narrative around the Comey classified memo leak: the buddy Comey leaked his memos to is actually a special employee or something at the FBI:

The professor, Daniel Richman, confirmed the special status in response to an inquiry from Fox News, while referring other questions, including on the scope of his work, to the FBI.

“I did indeed have SGE status with the Bureau (for no pay),” Richman wrote in an email.

So did Comey just throw his friend under the bus? It sounds like Comey is pointing the finger and saying Richman was allowed to receive the classified information but he improperly leaked the information to the New York Times.

Related:

Jeff Sessions will not recuse himself from investigation into Trump’s lawyer

Grassley pitches new DOJ reporting mandate in Mueller protection bill

The destruction of Ronny Jackson

President Trump’s nominee for secretary of Veterans Administration, Dr. Ronny Jackson, is coming under fire. There was excited chatter from the media and #resistance yesterday that Jackson might withdrawal his nomination. (He will not.) The name of the game these days is to choke up anything the president wants to do, including set up a cabinet. We saw this with the bratty opposition to Pompeo’s nomination for secretary of State and we continue to see it with President Trump’s other nominees, like Richard Grenell, who cannot get a confirmation hearing for his nomination as ambassador to Germany.

Jackson, who was praised and promoted by President Obama, is not really a partisan, he’s a physician. “Ronny’s positive impact cannot be overstated. He is a tremendous asset to the entire White House team. Already at a level of performance and responsibility that far exceeds is current rank, promote to Rear Admiral now,” said a performance review signed by Obama.

Democrat Senator John Tester told CNN that Jackson was nicknamed “Candy Man” because he would…wait for it…hand out Ambien to staffers on international trips. Next he’ll be shooting people up with vitamin B-12. Oh the humanity. Handing out sleep medication is “standard operating procedure” on international trips, Jackson explained.

“in overseas trips, in particular, the admiral would go down the aisle way of the airplane and say, ‘All right, who wants to go to sleep?’ and hand out the prescription drugs like they were candy.”

This is ridiculous. Does Tester not know how stupid he sounds? The senator continued: “That’s the reports that we got from the people, 20-something people, who got a hold of us and said, ‘We have a problem. This doctor has a problem because he hands out prescriptions like candy.’ In fact, in the White House they call him the candy man,” Tester said.

“That’s not a nickname that you want in a doctor and if you consider the prescription drugs we have a problem with in this country right now, it’s not the example we need to have set,” Tester added.

The New York Times chimes in with its own smear, reporting that Jackson got drunk on a trip and was passed out when staffers needed medical attention. Jackson denied that he was drunk on the job. Another claim against Jackson is that he created a hostile work environment. “That would involve belittling, screaming, verbally abusing the staff to the point where he would explode and the staff would feel they were on eggshells,” said Tester. How was this man able to continue in his position, especially under Obama, and how come these crazy allegations didn’t come out during the meany years he held this position? We all know the answer.

Historical video of the day:

Bob Dorough, whose catchy ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ tunes taught kids grammar and math, has died

Here’s my favorite:

Your daily WTF:

Police nab man who ate another man’s earlobe during drunken brawl

Other morsels:

Suspect arrested in shooting of two Dallas officers

Another federal judge rules against Trump move to end DACA

Top Liberal Think Tank and Clinton Adviser Accused of Sheltering Sexual Harassers and Retaliating Against Victims

Stan Lee accused of sexual misconduct

The CDC Study The Anti-Gun Lobby Doesn’t Want You To Know About

NRA breaks 15-year fundraising record, according to filings

Prof Charged For Spraying Fake Blood On NRA Lobbyist’s House

Troubling details emerge about Toronto attack suspect’s private life

California university won’t punish professor who jeered Bush

Fresno Prof Blames Racism For Backlash Over Barbara Bush Comments

British government’s efforts to starve two-year-old to death still momentarily unsuccessful

Student Confronts Nancy Pelosi Over ‘Crumbs’ Comment — Tax Cuts ‘Helped Put Me Through College’

Internet Archive Denies Joy Reid’s Claim That Her Blog Was Hacked

Here’s what you can’t post on Facebook (no nude buttocks or cannibalism)

Calexit gets go-ahead to start collecting signatures