Good Wednesday morning.
Here’s what is on the president’s agenda today:
- The president participates in the swearing-in ceremony of the secretary of state
- President Trump has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and the secretary of Health and Human Services
- The president gives remarks at the National Teacher of the Year reception
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein says the DOJ will not be extorted
It’s wild to see how the DOJ is suddenly taking “the rule of law” so seriously after an eight-year hiatus. Following months and months of stonewalling and slow-walking the production of constitutionally-mandated oversight documents, the House Freedom Caucus is drafting articles of impeachment for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein’s response was to claim this was “extortion” rather that a more accurate description of a “job performance review.” Do you get the feeling that these clowns in the DOJ are waiting until the blue wave takes control of the House and they no longer have to comply with oversight requests? Yes, me too.
“But I can tell you there are people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time and I think they should understand by now: The Department of Justice is not going to be extorted,” Rosenstein said. “We’re going to do what is required by the rule of law and any kind of threats that anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job.”
It’s really simple: comply with the constitutionally-mandated document production requests or face impeachment.
House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Mark Meadows fired back on Twitter:
If he believes being asked to do his job is ‘extortion,’ then Rod Rosenstein should step aside and allow us to find a new Deputy Attorney General—preferably one who is interested in transparency
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) May 1, 2018
The articles of impeachment were described by Meadows as a “last resort.” The Fox News piece has more details about what is in Rosenstein’s draft articles of impeachment.
Also happening: Mueller threatened Trump with a subpoena, according to sources.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller told Donald Trump’s legal team directly he could “compel” the president to testify via a grand jury subpoena if Trump declined a potential request for an interview, two sources told ABC News.
Yesterday, some four dozen questions, allegedly from the special counsel, were leaked to The New York Times. There has been much debate as to whether Mueller can compel Trump to testify or compel him to testify on matters that are entirely within his presidential authority. What do you think?
Team Iran Echo Chamber breaks its silence
It took about a day for Team Iran Echo Chamber to come up with some spin on Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu’s bombshell revelation that Iran was lying about the development of its nuclear weapons program. One line of spin from CNN involves a semantic detail:
In any event, the first White House statement included this sentence: “Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.”
Italics are mine.
The second statement — which, unlike the first was not emailed to reporters but rather just posted online — walked that back considerably: “Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.”
That’s a big difference in meaning for such a small word.
The National Security Council explained it was “a clerical error, which we quickly detected and fixed.” But why believe a clerical error when the mistake can be exploited to cover for one of the largest national security disasters of our time that the entire media apparatus gambled their credibility on?
That said — and given this President’s utter hatred of the Iran deal, his uninhibited enthusiasm for all things Netanyahu, his distrust of his own intelligence community, and his penchant for playing straight to the fears and predilections of his voter base — it would be naive not to allow for the possibility that this “clerical error” was also something of a Freudian slip, something that at the very least Trump and his staff wanted to be true.
And then this:
The Iranian documents revealed by the Prime Minister largely predate the JCPOA, are well known to European and American governments, and do not in any way indict the Iranians for violating — or even intending to violate — the deal. There’s no smoking gun there.
There’s not even any smoke.
Yes, everyone knew and that’s why everyone– at least those not in on the JCPOA joke– were so shocked at what Netanyahu had to say.
Meanwhile, the world’s worst diplomat, John Kerry, shared his thoughts on Twitter.
Every detail PM Netanyahu presented yesterday was every reason the world came together to apply years of sanctions and negotiate the Iran nuclear agreement – because the threat was real and had to be stopped. It's working! That’s why Israeli security experts are speaking out. 1/4
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) May 1, 2018
So Kerry’s logic is that Iran has an advanced nuclear program, Iran lied about its advanced nuclear program and it was proper to make a deal with Iranian liars because we have to stop Iran’s advanced nuclear program.
Kerry warned, “any effort to ‘blow up the deal’ could cost the international community visibility into Iran’s nuclear program.”
Trump is expected to trash the JCPOA when the next deadline comes up for renewal. “The President has been clear — absent a substantial fix, absent overcoming the shortcomings, the flaws of the deal — he is unlikely to stay in that deal past this May,” Secretary of State Pompeo said.
Kanye still taking fire
Kanye West, still reeling from the hits (in one case, a hit was literally ordered) he has been taking for not hating on President Trump, appeared on TMZ Live yesterday and made some unfortunate, awkward statements that ensure we will still be talking about him for a few more news cycles.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all … It’s like we’re mentally in prison,” West said.
Kanye tried to clarify his thoughts on Twitter, always a bad idea.
“We need to have open discussions and ideas on unsettled pain,” he wrote.
“To make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will,” he wrote. “My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved.”
“They cut out our tongues so we couldn’t communicate to each other. I will not allow my tongue to be cut,” he continued. “They hung the most powerful in order to force fear into the others. They can no longer stop our voice.
The focus will remain on Kanye’s original comments despite the points he makes in his clarification. The clarification is too inconvenient. These days, no one is allowed any “that’s not what I meant” moments because it would eliminate an opportunity for posturing and righteousness. Stay tuned, we haven’t heard that last Kanye controversy.
Your daily WTF:
Historical picture of the day:
And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mob!