The Donald Chronicles, #21 – Feb. 16, 2017


*Netanyahu and Trump: Following a meeting between the two, yesterday’s very strange joint press briefing provided more questions than answers. While DT asked Netanyahu to hold back on new West Bank settlements “a little”, he also stated that he “could live with” either a one-state or a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian stand-off. No mention was made of moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

*The Twitterer-in Chief is now very upset about the leaks coming out of the government, such as those that led to the downfall of Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor. But he is not concerned so much about the content of the leaks, as the fact of the leaks. “No fair”, he’s saying, “telling on us!” He’s blaming the “fake media” for Flynn’s downfall, and not Flynn himself. “Wonderful man”, he says about Flynn. It’s truly Alice in Wonderland stuff. And why the leaks? One reporter called them a “cry for help”. Meanwhile, the news was full of jokes today over how quickly (24 days) Flynn’s downfall came about e.g. His tenure was shorter than:

“Pamela Anderson’s marriage to Rick Salomon

Pamela Anderson and Rick Salomon were married for 60 days — weeks longer than Flynn’s ill-fated tenure as the national security adviser.
  (DONALD BOWERS/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE NEW YORK PA)

The former Baywatch babe and ex-Playboy Playmate’s marriage to film producer Rick Salomon lasted 60 days. Their ill-fated matrimony — full of fighting and cheating — was one of the few things more trouble-plagued than Flynn’s own short tenure.”

*Alabama is my least favorite state, and I don’t even need to tell you why I feel that way. You get it. While this item doesn’t concern The Donald, it’s too delicious not to pass along.

From ShareBlue:

“There is a massive corruption scandal unfolding in Jeff Sessions’ home state

Robert Bentley, the Republican governor of Alabama, appears to be trying to bribe the state attorney general with Jeff Sessions’s vacant Senate seat — just as the attorney general was preparing to investigate Bentley for misconduct.

(C-SPAN via AP)

The national media has no dearth of scandals emerging from the Donald Trump administration to cover, not least of which is the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and reports of constant contact between Trump campaign officials and Russia during the 2016 campaign.

But with so much necessary focus on the White House, many in the media seem to have missed a huge corruption controversy developing in Alabama, centered on the vacant former Senate seat of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

For much of his second term, Alabama Republican Governor Robert Bentley has been plagued with scandal. His problems started when he fired state law enforcement officer Spencer Collier, for refusing the governor’s orderto lie to prosecutors in the corruption trial of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Collier, in turn, retaliated by announcing to the press that the governor was having an extramarital affair with his communications director, lavishing her with trips at taxpayer expense and funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to her husband’s business from the University of Alabama system. Leaked phone recordings confirmed the affair in graphic detail.

After Collier’s announcement, the Alabama House Judiciary Committee opened an impeachment probe, but state attorney general Luther Strange persuaded them to drop it so that his office could take over the investigation instead. Then, last week, the governor appointed Strange to Sessions’ empty Senate seat.

In one fell swoop, Bentley both removed the independently elected state official tasked with investigating him for misconduct, and got to name an interim attorney general who would inherit Strange’s investigation.

This story bears resemblance to the scandal around former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who in 2009 was impeached and sentenced to federal prison after he was caught on tape soliciting bribes for President Obama’s vacant Senate seat. The Republican state auditor of Alabama agrees, warning that “Alabama has all the ingredients for a Gov. Rod Blagojevich situation.” Yet the Bentley case has received far less national coverage.

Trump and his team may be the most visible bad actors, and because of their positions, their outrageous improprieties are certainly the most troubling and dangerous for the nation. But it is easy to see echoes of the same duplicity and disregard for the rule of law in state-level stories like Alabama’s. The national media must connect these dots, because what is happening in Alabama is too egregious to ignore, and it is part and parcel of a Republican Party that is flouting laws and norms at every level — all the way to the White House.”

*Labor Secretary nominee Puzder goes down. Andrew Puzder had just too much baggage. It became clear to some Senate Reps that they would have another huge fight on their hands over his nomination, and they decided, it would appear, that he wasn’t worth it. So, that’s two losses for the Trump administration in very short order.

*Kellyanne Conway: Inserted into an official briefing, Kellyanne Conway’s  (KC) very enthusiastic endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s fashion line could (we can certainly hope) bring her down. The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has recommended that the White House “investigate” the matter. What’s to investigate?  The law is clear on the matter – you can’t do that. I’m really keeping my fingers crossed on this one, as I dislike KC about as much as I dislike the State of Alabama. And she’s not popular with others, such as CNN’s Morning Joe:

From the Washington Post: The Fix, Analysis

“‘Morning Joe’ has blacklisted Kellyanne Conway. And that’s not all.

 February 15 at 11:43 AM

‘Morning Joe’ freezes out Kellyanne Conway

 Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” say they won’t invite White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on their show because she doesn’t provide reliable information.(Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski said Wednesday that she refuses to book Kellyanne Conway on “Morning Joe” — and that wasn’t even the harshest thing Brzezinski and co-host Joe Scarborough said about the counselor to the president.

“We know for a fact she tries to book herself on this show,” Brzezinski said. “I won’t do it, ‘cuz I don’t believe in fake news or information that is not true. And that is — every time I’ve ever seen her on television, something’s askew, off or incorrect.”

The declaration that Conway is not welcome on “Morning Joe” is not very surprising. When CNN refused to put the former Trump campaign manager on its Sunday political talk show earlier this month, Brzezinksi tweeted that CNN was “not the first.” Wednesday marked the first time that she revealed a blanket ban on appearances by Conway, however.

Even more damning than their blacklisting of Conway was the way the “Morning Joe” hosts characterized her — as an attention seeker who texts TV producers in a constant effort to get on air, so she can speak for a White House where she actually isn’t in the know.

“She’s in none of the key meetings,” Scarborough said. “She goes out and books herself often. … I don’t even think she’s saying something that she knows to be untrue. She’s just saying things, just to get in front of the TV set and prove her relevance because behind the scenes — behind the scenes, she’s not in these meetings.”

The Conway caricature on “SNL” is desperate to be on TV, and the real-life Conway is, too, according to “Morning Joe.”

The Washington Post reported last month that Conway turned down the role of White House press secretary. Conway told The Post at the time that she hoped to limit her TV appearances and focus more on shaping policy.

Yet the White House has continued to use her as a spokeswoman, and she has at times seemed in the dark about major decisions. On Monday afternoon, for instance, she told reporters that Michael Flynn had “the full confidence of the president.” Less than an hour later, White House press secretary Sean Spicer contradicted her when he said that Trump was “evaluating the situation.” Flynn resigned as national security adviser that night.”

 

*Unraveling? Is this the beginning of the unraveling? I sure hope so!  But Robert Reich is not hopeful, saying the investigations so far proposed are “fig leafs”:

“Yesterday afternoon, Jason Chaffetz, Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, announced that his committee would investigate Trump’s apparent discussion of sensitive information out in the open this weekend at Mar-a-Lago. Then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was “highly likely” the Senate would deepen its Russia investigation after Michael Flynn resigned as Trump’s national security adviser. Don’t be fooled. These moves are fig leafs designed to head off serious bi-partisan investigations. As long as Republican voters still support Trump, Republicans on Capitol Hill won’t seriously investigate anything.” 

*Let’s give The Donald the last word. Here’s The Donald unraveling at today’s press briefing:

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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