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The Donald’s Other Headache

The ongoing headache of the Russian collusion investigation became a migraine for Donald Trump Sr. last night. His son, Donald J.Trump Jr. spilled the beans by publicly displaying his "chain of emails" from an acquaintance in Russia inviting him to a meeting with a person alleged to be a "Russian government lawyer" to discuss incriminating evidence about Hillary Clinton. If you don't believe this reporter, pick up any newspaper you like, the story will more likely than not be there. Aside from the obvious problems this presents an already acrimonious White House, one has to wonder how it will affect the remainder of the Trump agenda.

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The GOP Health Bill

      The following list contains the names of those US Representatives who voted in favor of the GOP American Health Care Act(aka Trumpcare) The act, according to AARP, contains a provision which adds as much as $13,000(thirteen-thousand dollars) to the cost of insurance for those 50-64 and would discriminate against those with pre-existing disabilities such as cancer and diabetes. The list follows:

IL-6, Peter Roskam            IL-15  John Shimkus 

IL-12 Mike Bost                 IL-16  Adam Kinzinger

IL-13 Rodney Davis            IL-16 Darin LaHood  

IL-14  Randy Hultgren    

     If you are as outraged by this as I am, feel free to phone your reps---I did.-----Dan  

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Trump Impeachment calls

 Personally I think it's too early to call for his impeachment. An idea I think would be DOA in the Republican dominated House. If Trump were  to be impeached AND convicted, here is the short list of his successors. It ain't pretty.  VP; Speaker of the House, President Pro-Tem of the Senate; the Secretary of State; Sec of Treasury; Sec of Defense;and the Attorney General. If we reach the point where the Secretary of State is placed in charge of the nation, we are in very deep trouble. Pence, while the darling of the Evangelicals, is, in MY estimation very weak as a leader; Ryan would be one disaster falling upon another, day after day--judging by the first Health Care vote, he's very ineffective.; the President Pro-Tem is Orrin Hatch. Hatch as been around since the beginning of the Republic I think. He's sharp and knows the Senate well. He would be an interesting man to watch. Most of this, of course, hinges on the Russia Investigation, something Trump obsesses more daily with each news story. It's gonna be...interesting.

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    Trump and the Intelligence Community

          This was lifted from today's (23May 2017) Politico. Enjoy !

    DEFENSE

    5 takeaways from intel leaders' Trump testimony

    Former CIA Director John Brennan did not make the president's life easier.

    05/23/2017 06:46 PM EDT

    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23: Former Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John Brennan testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill, May 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Brennan is discussing the extent of Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible ties to the campaign of President Donald Trump. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

    Former CIA Director John Brennan testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on May 23. | Getty

    Current and former U.S. intelligence leaders made it clear on Tuesday that they have little interest in helping President Donald Trump escape the scandal surrounding his campaign’s ties to Russia.

    During three congressional hearings, the leaders lent new weight to questions about whether Trump’s campaign aides colluded with Russian officials to influence the presidential election — providing yet another setback as the White House seeks a reset during Trump’s foreign trip.

    Former CIA Director John Brennan said U.S. intelligence agencies had picked up contacts between Russia and people involved in Trump's campaign, and left open the possibility that Russian officials may have been successful in recruiting some of the aides.

    Across Capitol Hill, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats declined to comment on a Washington Post report that Trump had asked him to deny evidence of Russia collusion, though Coats left the door open to answering such questions in the future. And National Security Agency chief Adm. Mike Rogers did nothing to douse the Post's allegation that Trump had made a similar request to him — as lawmakers failed to ask him a single question about the issue.

    Here are POLITICO’s takeaways from Tuesday’s hearings:

    Brennan adds to Trump’s troubles

    Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked Brennan repeatedly whether he had seen evidence of collusion between Trump aides and Moscow — seemingly hoping that Brennan, like former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper before him, would say he had not seen direct evidence.

    But Brennan took a different tack, saying he had seen contacts between Russia and "U.S. persons" that concerned him, and that these contacts had been passed to the FBI for investigation. This was the most direct acknowledgment yet by a current or former U.S. official that investigators believe Russia sought to recruit Americans to help affect the 2016 election.

    The remarks also lend some additional heft to the Russia investigations being conducted by the FBI and House and Senate intelligence committees, which Trump has sought to dismiss as a “witch hunt.”

    "I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals," Brennan told lawmakers. "And it raised questions in my mind again whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals."

    Republicans get backup on leaks

    The Brennan hearing wasn’t all bad news for Trump. The former CIA chief took a hardline stance on government officials who have leaked classified information to the news media, saying the leakers need to be “tracked down.”

    "These continue to be very, very damaging leaks, and I find them appalling,” Brennan said.

    During a House Intelligence Committee hearing in March, Republicans took heat for focusing on leaks rather than on Russia’s election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Republicans appeared cognizant of this criticism on Tuesday, with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) saying he wanted to save his leak questions until the end of the hearing.

    After the hearing, the White House issued a statement touting Brennan’s remarks on leaks.

    “Even Obama's CIA director believes the leaks of classified information are 'appalling' and the culprits must be 'tracked down,'" said a White House spokesperson.

    Coats willing to talk, just to a different panel

    The first question Tuesday at the Senate Armed Services Committee's hearing with Coats was about the Post’s report the night before, which said Trump had asked him and Rogers to publicly deny evidence of cooperation between his campaign and Russia.

    “I don't feel it’s appropriate to characterize discussions and conversations with the president,” Coats responded.

    But asked later if he’d be willing to divulge such talks with the Senate Intelligence Committee — which is spearheading the probe into Russia’s election-year meddling and possible ties to Trump’s team — the nation’s top spy changed his tune.

    Sen. John Thune is pictured. | Getty

    “I do believe that the information and discussions that I've had with the president are something that should not be disclosed,” said Coats, who had vowed to cooperate with the inquiries during his confirmation hearing. “On the other hand, if I'm called before an investigative committee, I certainly will provide them with what I know and what I don't know.”

    The former Indiana Republican senator said he had “no documents to make relevant” to the intelligence panels or to Robert Mueller, the former FBI director whom the Justice Department tapped as the special counsel overseeing its Russia investigation.

    Senate Democrats look to keep intelligence controversies alive

    Armed Services Democrats repeatedly tried to draw Coats into criticizing Trump’s decision to share classified intelligence — possibly from Israel — with senior Russian officials in the Oval Office earlier this month.

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and other lawmakers asked if the disclosure would affect intelligence sharing with other U.S. allies.

    “I've not seen … anything that would lead to that conclusion,” Coats replied.

    Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart backed up the claim at the same hearing. That brought a rebuke from Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.): “They’re very worried, general.”

    Democrats also latched onto another evasive answer from Coats as evidence that the spy chief was aware of pressure from the president on the intelligence community to disavow the government's Russia investigation.

    While Coats wouldn't comment broadly on the allegations that Trump tried to stifle the FBI’s investigation, the intelligence leader also wouldn't actively deny that he had discussed the issue with Rogers.

    “That is something that I, um, would like to withhold, that question, at this particular point in time," he said in response to the query from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

    Panel Democrats took the response as a de facto “yes,” though McCain skewered that interpretation.

    Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also pried out of Coats that the intelligence community has not begun what is often called a “bomb damage assessment” of the ramifications of Trump sharing the secret information with the Russians.

    Rogers gets off easy

    Comparatively, lawmakers treated Rogers with kid gloves during his testimony before a House Armed Services subcommittee.

    None of the panel members asked about Trump’s reported requests during the 75-minute session, which dealt with the military's U.S. Cyber Command budget proposal for the 2018 fiscal year. Rogers offered no comments about the accuracy of the Post’s story during his opening statement or in any of his answers.

    Authors:
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    In MY opinion,

    It could be me, I suppose, but I don't see Donald J. Trump receiving a back-slapping welcome on his overseas junket.

    He's viewed as too chummy with Putin by those in NATO -- a group he has consistently bad-mouthed, even after admitting he didn't "know much about NATO," saying it should be dissolved because it was obsolete. Many nations in Europe depend on NATO for collective defense against Russia's very aggressively minded Vladimir Putin. Then of course, there's the fact of telling the Russians that the firing of that "nut bag," Comey, relieved some of the pressure on himself over an ongoing Russia-Trump FBI investigation which seems to underscore his involvement in that matter.

    Trump threw enough missiles into Syria to wake the native Syrians without damaging the airport they were aimed at, but not before first calling Putin to warn him the "attack" was coming.  This causes him to be seen as a man who will start a war to improve sagging personal approval ratings. Added to all of those things, he has a Congress which has been increasingly reluctant to defend him and a minority Democratic Party licking its chops like a starving Kodiak Bear.

    But the BESTEST of all the visits will be on his second stop: Israel. The highly classified Intel he so willingly surrendered to the Russians? That was provided by Israel. Intelligence work is and of necessity must be covert. This intel was not intended to be shared with people who many in the world see as a major aggressive threat in and to their region. If Israel wanted the Russians to have access to this intel, they' d have told them through diplomatic channels. Somehow, I don't see this as the high point of the trip for him either.  

    I've a profound respect for the Presidency of the United States of America, just as I have an abiding love of this nation, but nowhere have I seen evidence of any kind of love for anything outside of himself from the current occupant of the White House. According to the online mag, "The Hill," Trump's WH lawyers are consulting with other lawyers who specialize in Impeachment proceedings (How big can THAT group be?). That's a glaring sign that the WH is worried. I don't see Trump being impeached, I hold out the hope that he'll choose resignation as an alternative to creating more dissention in the nation and among our allies.

    Again, all of the above, unless so indicated is MY opinion.  

    Dan

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    Trump More Dangerous Than Ever

    From the 19 May 2017 Nation Magazine

     

     With a cascade of leaks, a war with the FBI, and the announcement of the appointment of a special counsel to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, Donald Trump’s grotesque presidency now hangs by a thread. By the hour, it seems, the possibility of impeachment, of him being declared incompetent to govern—or, at the very least, of his own party bringing irresistible pressure on him to resign—grows.

    And as that pressure grows, so balloons the peril of our moment. For the 18 months that Trump has been center-stage politically, he has shown an extraordinary commitment to demagoguery, to flirtations with mob violence, to peddling conspiracy theories, to military grandstanding to distract attention from his problems, and to race-and-religion-baiting whenever the mood suits. He has demonstrated utter contempt for the separation of powers, extraordinary hostility to the free press, and a disconcerting fondness for dictators the world over. He has also shown himself to be brittle and thin-skinned, relishing the ability to use his vast platform to attack those he deems to be his personal “enemies,” but unable to tolerate disagreement or dissent when it is directed at him.

    Why do I rehash all these known traits now? Because—cornered, humiliated, and increasingly in legal peril—Trump will likely resort to all of the tricks of the demagogue as he fights for his survival. This is a man who has never played fair in his life, who takes pleasure in inflicting hurt on those weaker than himself, and who believes that ideals, or simply basic decency, are mere annoyances in the one game that matters: the game of power.

    The fanatics in his administration could gin up an emergency in order to clamp down on dissenters and muzzle the press. 

    For months, progressives have worried about a “Reichstag fire” moment: about the possibility that Trump, Bannon, Miller, and the other fanatics who people this administration could gin up an emergency scenario that would allow them to clamp down on dissenters, muzzle the press, and neutralize the courts and domestic political opponents. We have worried about emergency decrees that would be used to justify enemies lists, databases that would monitor people by their religion, and so on. And yet, for all of his bluster, for all of his middle-of-the-night, id-revealing tweets, for all of his childish, semiliterate boasting about his unprecedented popularity, speaking skills, and understanding of complex policy issues, Trump has not yet unleashed his mob quite as fully as he might.

    Now he is, to put it mildly, on the ropes. His policy priorities are in a shambles, the courts are blocking his immigration “reforms,” and day by day he is being subjected to a regimen of leaks that are the political equivalent of death by a thousand cuts.

    Men like Trump do not fade gently into their political night. Rather, with all nuance sacrificed in pursuit of their senescent need for the spotlight, they scrabble and scratch, lash out and fight. With no self-limiting or self-correcting moral gyroscope, they go down whatever paths they believe offer them the best chance of survival.

     

    THE STAKES ARE HIGHER NOW THAN EVER. GET THE NATION IN YOUR INBOX.

     

     

     

    We have to assume that Trump will, in desperation, at some point try to unleash his mob; that he will try to intimidate and harass into silence those who oppose him. We have to assume that he will try to manufacture—or exacerbate—international crises as a way of rallying on-the-fencers to his side. We also have to assume that, as he grows more unstable and more self-pitying, he will make more enemies on all sides—and that those enemies in turn will only fuel his fury.

    Economists routinely talk about virtuous circles of economic well-being, whereby a series of events occurs, each of which in turn magnifies and accelerates economic growth. With Trump, the unstable commander in chief of the most powerful and most heavily nuclear-armed nation on earth, we’re likely to see an entirely unvirtuous, and increasingly destructive circle, with each event magnifying and accelerating both his authoritarian and his dishonest instincts.

    Yes, it’s a cause for celebration that this miserable, cruel man is on the ropes. But let’s not celebrate prematurely. There is much work to be done still to neutralize his demagogic hold over the country; and while that work is being done, we must stay more vigilant than ever against his increasingly destructive actions. He is a soulless, amoral thug, a con artist now fighting for his life. I do not doubt that, in the end, he will be destroyed—that all of those craven, fair-weather friends, those men and women in the GOP whom he embarrassed and humiliated, mocked and deliberately hurt throughout the primary process but who embraced him upon his electoral success, will turn on him as soon as they believe they can so do without destroying their own political careers. I do not doubt that he will be derided in the history books as an unmitigated catastrophe for the country. But while those fair-weather friends are still girding for their fight, and the historians are still whetting their pens, Trump, our wounded despot, remains a clear and present danger.

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    Kushner-Russia Nexus

    The Wall Street Journal Just Dropped A Major Kushner-Russia Bombshell

    BY ROBERT HAFFEY

    PUBLISHED ON MAY 17, 2017
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    As the Trump/Russia investigation heats up, its important to keep track of the shady underpinnings gurgling away beneath the entire sordid affair. At this point, the Gordian Knot of Trumps tangled Russian relationships can only be severed through Impeachment and expulsion from the White House. That said, each new detail is another piece of evidence that can be pinned to Trump when his day of judiciary judgment comes.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that the Russian bank that Jared Kushner Trumps son-in-law and senior advisor met with in secret helped to pay for the Toronto Trump International Hotel and Tower.

    The bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB), previously made news for its connections to Russian spy agencies. On top of that, at one point Vladimir Putin served as Chairmen of the banks Supervisory Board. VEB was also the target of sanctions under the Obama Administration in retaliation for Russias illegal annexation of Crimea.



    Kushner met with the banks CEO back in December and failed to disclose the meeting at the time. Now, its become clear why. The WSJ has revealed that VEB bought $850 million of stock in a Ukrainian steelmaker from Alexander Scnaider, the man responsible for building the Trump property. Scnaider had originally purchased the stock for a relatively paltry $70 million. The massive sale, which was approved during Putins tenure at VEB, was in turn used to finance the Toronto Trump Tower.

    During an interview in April, a lawyer for Scnaider confirmed the financing deal, saying it amounted to $15 million pumped into Trump Tower. The next day perhaps after urging from Russian officials he recanted and said he couldnt confirm that any money went to the Trump property.

    The pipeline here is clear. VEB gave money to Scnaider, who turned around and invested the money in the Trump property. As far as Russian dark money goes, this a fairly simple and easy-to-follow transaction. Its clear evidence that VEB, and by association Putin, has heavily supported Trump endeavors in the past.

    If more evidence of Russian funneling of money to Trump is exposed in the future, it will look like this, funds moved through different companies to hide the source. The FBIs investigation into Trump/Russia money laundering is likely to lead to similar stories. 
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    Trump's humility

    Doonesbury

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    Trump's taxes

    Maybe it's just my native cynicism, but it seems to me that if "the Donald" thought for a moment that releasing his tax returns could help him, they'd be out there in "the biggest, the best, the brightest" forum imaginable. As it is, I'm more inclined to believe the outburst on ABC in an interview with George Stephanopolis. Pressed to provide a more reasonable explanation than being under audit, and reminded that the IRS has stated that he can indeed release them right now, Trump was again asked what his tax rate was. At first he claims ignorance of the number but finally blurts out, "It's none of your business."( http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/donald-trump-refuses-reveal-tax-rate-business/story?id=39086788)

    Well, Donald if you want to lead my country, it is my business. The Clintons have revealed their taxes for over 33 years...how 'bout it Donald? Too many investments in those countries you say are going to "have to pay" or just too many investments in foreign countries? You're not really a billionaire? You've lots of company.  Or is it, your tax rate per se?

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    Turning Red to Blue

    Click on the graphic to see the fivethirtyeight.com analysis

     

    538 Analysis

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