With new evidence surfacing each day that Donald Trump and his campaign conspired with the Russian government to rig the election in Trump’s favor, one of the keys to understanding that collusion is that two of Trump’s top campaign advisers seemed to know in advance precisely which swing states would see Trump pulling off shocking upsets – and in particular, Michigan. The source for these revelations: their own words.

Michael Wolff of the Hollywood Reporter has revealed that during the summer of 2016, he spoke with Steve Bannon, who was in the process of taking over the Donald Trump campaign. At that time, Bannon told Wolff that Trump was going to win the states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. It’s not shocking that the head of the Trump campaign was confident his candidate was going to win, even when things were looking bleak. But for him to have known months in advance that Trump would win these specific states, including the impossible-to-win Michigan? That’s stunning. He’s not the only Trump adviser who “knew” Trump would win Michigan.


Bloomberg has revealed that long after Donald Trump had officially chased Paul Manafort away from his campaign, the two were still in contact throughout the election. In fact Manafort knew enough to call up Trump just before election day and tell him to head to Michigan. Again, this was a state that Trump had no chance of winning, and campaigning there, when other swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania were still in play for Trump, was a very stupid idea. This is, of course, unless there was a reason Manafort (and Bannon) knew Michigan was rigged in Trump’s favor. In such case, it would have made sense for Trump to campaign a bit there, just so he’d have some explanation for how he magically “won” it.


You don’t have to look far to figure out why these two advisers in particular might have known that Donald Trump was going to “win” Michigan. Paul Manafort took millions of dollars in Kremlin money when he was getting Putin’s puppet elected in Ukraine. Steve Bannon ran the statically company Cambridge Analytic, which is suspected of having plotted Trump’s strategy by using voter data that had been stolen by Russian hackers. Sure enough, it was Manafort and Bannon who somehow knew for certain that Trump would win Michigan, even at a time when there was no evidence whatsoever that this was remotely possible.


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Hope Hicks

Last week we learned that Trump White House adviser Hope Hicks is about to become a star witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s obstruction investigation, whether she wants to be or not. Among the six current and former Trump advisers Mueller is targeting, Hicks is the most senior adviser who still has a job. Speaking of seniority, Donald Trump recently gave Hicks a strange interim promotion, right around the time he figured out that she was going to be a key witness.


Once it became clear in mid-August that Donald Trump Jr was going to have to testify in the Russia scandal, it also became clear to all involved that he would have to come clean about the real intent of the meeting, thus implicating his father for obstruction of justice. Donald Trump had discussed with Hicks the plan to have Junior lie, which means he knew that as soon as Junior was on a path to imminently testifying, Hicks would soon have to testify as well.


Hope Hicks has long held the title of White House Director of Strategic Communications. But on August 16th, right around the time that it became clear Junior was headed for the witness chair, Trump promoted Hicks to White House Communications Director. She merely holds that title on an “interim” basis for now, but it’s nonetheless a promotion, even if it does end up being a temporary one. So perhaps she was good at her job and she earned a promotion. After all, someone had to take Anthony Scaramucci’s place as Communications Director after he was forced to resign, right? Actually, no.


Donald Trump has been through a few different short-lived White House Communications Directors since taking office. In between them, he’s allowed the job to sit empty for long stretches of a couple months at a time. It’s clear that Trump’s White House structure doesn’t rely on the position. So, after Scaramucci’s departure on August 1st, there was no practical need for Trump to promote Hope Hicks (or anyone else) to that job title on an interim basis two weeks later. In fact, his decision to leave it vacant for two weeks only serves to underline that he doesn’t rely on the position for anything. Besides, if Hicks had legitimately earned the promotion, he would have given it to her on a permanent basis. The interim promotion just doesn’t jive, and the timing is a red flag.


This leads to the question of whether Donald Trump gave Hope Hicks the White House Communications Director job on an “interim” basis as a way of trying to entice her to remain loyal to him during her upcoming testimony to the Special Counsel. The scenario would be this: if she protects him, she gets to keep the job. And if she gives him up, she gets demoted accordingly. It’ll be up to Robert Mueller to determine whether Trump really did promote Hicks for this reason, and whether this represented a further attempt at obstruction on his part.



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Posted by: maboulette | September 17, 2017

Bannon Admits Donald Trump Is Totally Screwed in The Mueller Probe

Steve Bannon

It’s still unclear what made the good folks at 60 Minutes think that it was appropriate to give national airtime to Steve Bannon, a white supremacist who is suspected of having treasonously conspired with the Russian government to rig the election in Donald Trump’s favor. Now that Trump has fired Bannon, he should simply be ignored. But because he was trotted out on national TV tonight, one of the things he said turns out to carry great weight.


We’ll spare you the full recap of the Steve Bannon interview, because by now you’ve either watched it, or you’ve made the conscious decision that you don’t care to know the full extent of what he said. So we’ll get right to the point. Charlie Rose asked Bannon about Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. Bannon was initially evasive, but as Rose went on to allege the various things that Bannon had allegedly said about the firing, Bannon ultimately acknowledged them as being his own words.


The upshot: Steve Bannon thinks that Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey is the biggest mistake in “modern political history.” As he goes on to ultimately admit when pressed, Bannon agrees that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation only exists because Comey was fired – and that the “breadth” of the Mueller investigation is much greater than what it might have otherwise been under Comey. Bannon may only be acknowledging this in an attempt at making his counterparts (including Jared Kushner) look bad who advised Trump to go ahead with the firing – but in the process he’s giving away a lot here.


In short, Steve Bannon is admitting that Donald Trump is totally screwed as a result of firing Comey. Further, by referring to the “breadth” of the Mueller probe, Bannon is rather thinly alluding to the investigation into Trump’s finances and business dealings. Bannon surely has more intimate knowledge of Trump’s various financial crimes and just how deeply they run than just about anyone – and he’s acknowledging that those crimes are what will take Trump down.


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Trump closseup

There has never been a good time to be a Donald Trump loyalist; he’s consistently demonstrated that he’s willing to throw anyone and anything under the bus in order to further his own personal greater glory. But it’s now a particularly bad time to be one of the advisers who loyally carried out his agenda during the 2016 election – and some of them are now complaining openly that he’s flat out screwing them when it comes to his Russia scandal.


Even as federal investigators continue to try to determine which of Trump’s campaign advisers may have been co-conspirators or witnesses in his election collusion with Russia, many of those advisers have had to hire specialized attorneys to represent them. That’s running up huge legal bills for them, according to a Washington Examiner report. This doesn’t come as a surprise, considering how these things work. But what is shocking is that some of Trump’s advisers appear to have honestly believed that he would bail them out financially – and now they’re bitterly complaining.


Among those complaining to the Examiner are former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo, who says “It’s very expensive and nobody’s called me and offered to help,” in a seeming shot at Donald Trump. Another adviser who has gone nameless is saying that Trump has “hung us out to dry”. Some of the campaign advisers in question have been caught having met with the Russian government during the election and then lying about those meetings.


Others may have conspired with Donald Trump to cover up or obstruct the Russia scandal. Still other advisers may simply be material witnesses. But at this point, everyone currently or formerly in Trump’s inner political circle is now facing the prospect of having to pay a hefty price for it. Trump, ever the scheming penny-stealing con artist, was never going to lift a finger to help any of them out with their bills.


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adam schiff

Donald Trump Jr finally testified before a Congressional committee last week about his role in meeting with the Russian government during the election to try to obtain this testimony. Although Congressman Adam Schiff is the ranking member of a different committee and wasn’t present during the testimony, he was able to quickly catch Junior changing his story in his statement, in a manner which may help incriminate Donald Trump.


Here’s the key portion of the statement which Adam Schiff posted to his own social media pages today: “The new statement is significant both in what is included, and what is excluded, when compared to earlier explanations. Although the new statement appears to track almost every line of Trump Jr’s prior comments on Twitter, this statement contains a notable omission, in that it no longer mentions that President Trump ‘knew nothing of the meetings or these events,’ raising questions about whether then-candidate Trump was in fact knowledgeable about the meeting in advance, and whether it formed the basis of his contemporaneous public promise of derogatory information about Secretary Clinton.”


Schiff is referring to the fact that just before the meeting between Donald Trump Jr and Russia, Donald Trump publicly claimed that he was days away from holding an event in which he would revealing damaging information about Hillary Clinton. After the meeting, Trump never did hold any such event or reveal any such information. This has given the strong impression that Trump was aware in advance that his son was planning to meet with Russia to try to get dirt on Clinton.


Now Donald Trump Jr is changing his story by no longer asserting that his father didn’t know about the meeting. As Schiff has pointed out, this further suggests that Donald Trump knew what was going on all along, which would be proof that he was personally guilty of election collusion with Russia.

Trump new

The biggest myth in politics in 2017 is that Donald Trump’s supporters won’t abandon him no matter what he’s does. Approval ratings polls show that he’s lost more than one-fifth of his supporters since January. But when it comes to Trump’s true inner core base, the 15% to 20% of the country who truly believe in his hateful garbage, their support has been unwavering – until Trump just went and blew it all up with one move.


Trump had dinner with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday evening, and afterward the Democrats announced that they’d reached a deal with Trump: yes on DACA, yes on increased border security, no on the border wall. This immediately set Trump’s racist base on fire. We know this because one of the political leaders of Trump’s racist base said so, in even more inflammatory words.


The Associated Press tweeted “BREAKING: Schumer, Pelosi announce deal with Trump to protect young immigrants; will include border security, but no wall.” This prompted Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa, who might be the most xenophobically racist white supremacist in Congress, to tweet “If AP is correct, Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.” The backlash was apparently much larger than Trump had been expecting, because he swiftly launched into panic mode.


Twenty minutes later, Donald Trump had White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweet a denial, insisting that he hadn’t agreed to cave on the wall. But based on Trump’s track record of consistently lying, there is no reason to believe him on this. In any case, even Trump’s own base is taking Pelosi and Schumer at their word. Breitbart is slamming Trump for flip flopping, while Steve King has gone all-out apoplectic. Is this the moment his core base indeed shatters?


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Posted by: maboulette | September 15, 2017

Ivanka and Jared Kushner Are Leaving Washington – Rumor Has It

Ivanka and husband

Of all the various failed experiments of the ill-fated Donald Trump administration, one of the most notorious has been the nepotistic anointment of Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner as clueless White House advisers. Ivanka has had no influence or success whatsoever, and appears to have no reason to be there. Jared was briefly influential, but he’s fallen out of favor and he’s awash in scandal. Now it turns out they’re considering packing up and leaving town.


That’s the word according to a new Vanity Fair profile, which reports “One well-connected strategist in New York told me that the two were eyeing a move at the end of the school year in 2018” .This is a remarkable revelation. Not only does it point to their belief that there’s nothing for them to accomplish in Washington DC, it also suggests that they’re not sold on the idea that Donald will still be in office by the end of the school year.


Although Ivanka has had no apparent influence over her father’s political decisions, it’s difficult to envision her skipping town and abandoning him altogether. Donald Trump’s cognitive abilities have been clearly and rapidly worsening since he’s taken office. He can’t deliver a coherent sentence without a teleprompter. He forgets whom he’s talking to. He gets confused and wanders off in the middle of his own public appearances.


If Ivanka Trump is truly looking at leaving Washington DC a mere eight or nine months from now, it may be because she’s now expecting her father to resign or be ousted by that time. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is breathing down Trump’s neck, and the Republican Party has largely sided with Mueller over Trump. The GOP could try to strategically force him out before the midterm races heat up. Even if Donald hasn’t yet figured out the clock is ticking, Ivanka and Jared may already be planning for his inevitable early exit.


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Sarah Huckabee Sanders

With each passing day, yet another current or former member of Donald Trump’s team has been targeted by Congress or by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the investigation into the Trump-Russia scandal. But today we may have seen a first: one member of the Trump administration may have stepped up and volunteered to be targeted for obstruction of justice scrutiny. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders essentially just potentially committed obstruction, or conspiracy to commit obstruction, from the briefing podium.


Huckabee Sanders has begun pushing the false narrative that former FBI Director James Comey lied and perjured himself during his testimony to Congress about the scandal. This has clearly been at the behest of Donald Trump himself, who instructs his staffers what to say from the podium. The intent was apparently to create a distraction in the media, even as Mueller targets the staffers who discussed Comey’s firing with Trump. One little problem for Huckabee Sanders: she took it too far for her own good.


When asked if the Department of Justice should prosecute James Comey for his (imaginary) perjury, Huckabee Sanders replied that it’s something the DOJ should “certainly look at.” So she’s using her position as White House spokesperson to call for false criminal charges to be brought against a witness who was fired by Trump in an attempt at obstructing justice. There is a legal argument to be made that in so doing, she committed obstruction or conspiracy to commit obstruction, by saying this – particularly if Trump instructed her to bring up the topic during the briefing.


So now, even during a week in which Robert Mueller is targeting at least half a dozen Trump advisers in relation to obstruction of justice and the Comey firing, he may have just been handed an angle for pursuing Sarah Huckabee Sanders as well. The goal, of course, is to get them to flip on Donald Trump.


Trump looking like crying

Anyone who has been paying attention to Donald Trump’s words and behavior is aware that he’s suffering from worsening cognitive issues. He struggles to put together a coherent sentence of his own. He comatosely reads prepared speeches off teleprompters in a manner which suggests he has no idea what he’s reading. He gets confused and wanders off in the middle of his own public appearances. Whatever is going wrong with Trump, it’s growing so severe that his own friends are now going to absurd lengths to try to explain it away.


It began when Trump’s friend Alex Jones, known for spinning deranged phony conspiracies in Trump’s favor, felt compelled to spin one about Trump himself. Jones asserted that Trump is being drugged by his own staffers to keep him compliant; this is supposed to explain why Trump increasingly appears confused and out of it and unable to speak properly during public appearances. Jones is either a whack job or he pretends to be one, so his claims can be dismissed automatically. But the upshot is that even Jones feels the need to cover for Trump’s worsening condition – and he’s not the only one now doing so.


Another longtime Trump friend, Roger Stone, who is just as far out into the ether as Alex Jones but more likely to keep his shirt on while ranting, is now pushing the same story. Stone appeared on Jones’ InfoWars show to assert that he’s heard from multiple sources of his own that Trump is being covertly drugged.


Stone is accusing General John Kelly of being behind it, which is a shamefully baseless assertion. But now we have two of Trump’s friends, who speak with him privately on a regular basis and are aware of what condition he’s truly in, feeling compelled to float absurd excuses to try to cover for him. Whatever worsening mental capacity issues Trump is suffering from, it may be even worse than we’ve publicly seen.


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Posted by: maboulette | September 12, 2017

Donald Trump’s Failed Hurricane Irma Photo Op

trump home from trip

There are many valuable lessons that Donald Trump could have learned from his tone-deaf and poorly received response to Hurricane Harvey. Don’t use a storm visit to try to sell hats. Don’t brag about crowd size once you get there. Don’t brag about the size of your hands. But it appears Trump has only managed to take one lesson away from it: don’t let Mike Pence steal the photo op. Here’s a lesson Trump clearly has not learned: don’t be on vacation during landfall.


When it was announced that Donald Trump was dragging his entire cabinet up to Camp David last weekend, many reporters wrote what many of you were probably thinking: he wanted to make sure that this time around, he got to have the photo op looking presidential while interacting with officials about the hurricane. During Harvey, Trump wandered off and ended up allowing Pence to have that “presidential” photo op instead. Not this time, however.


In fact, Trump posted not just a photo op, but an entire video, of him holding the Camp David cabinet meeting in question. As has become his norm during this disaster season, Trump managed to use bombastic words (his cabinet is going to do “fantastic things”) while simultaneously sounding completely lifeless and uninterested. He even hauled Mike Pence to the meeting, just so everyone could see which one of them was running it. But worse than his performance during his cabinet meeting is the fact that everyone now knows he’s on vacation.


What kind of “President of the United States” can’t be bothered to cancel his weekend getaway so that he can remain at the White House where his leadership is needed? The same kind of “President” who forces his entire cabinet to travel on vacation with him, just so he can get a gratuitous photo op with them during the hurricane. He still hasn’t figured out that the photo op in question is merely serving as a reminder to those in the path of Hurricane Irma that he’s indeed gone on vacation while they’re hunkering down.


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