* “Suicide pact”:
David Nir, of the Daily Kos, describes the relationship of Trump and the Republican Party as a “suicide pact” (Rachel Maddow Show, 2-16-17). How long will it take for the latter to jettison Trump? I’m guessing that they will stick with him until they get the changes they are looking for: Cabinet and other staffing picks, Supreme Court vacancy filled, ObamaCare “repaired”, EPA abolished, regulatory rollbacks all over the place and so forth. They will, in the meantime, try to keep Pence unblemished (such as keeping him ignorant of the phone calls to Russia). Then, when the time is right, they will signal to the Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings. If they choose not to dump Trump, then it may indeed turn out to be a suicide pact.
*Kiss the environment goodbye:
Pruitt confirmed to head the EPA.Two Democratic Senators voted with the entire Republican Senate: Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
* “U.S. spies believe Donald Trump ‘is a traitor’; the president attacks them as ‘KremlinGate’ unfolds:
He could be picking the wrong fight.
The journalist perhaps furthest out front on this story is John R. Schindler, the national-security columnist for the New York Observer and a former intelligence analyst at the National Security Agency. (Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, owns the Observer but announced in January he was selling the newspaper and stepping down as publisher.)
Schindler was the first to report that the National Security Agency, which focuses on cryptology and related work, “was withholding highly sensitive intelligence from the White House, fearing that it might be compromised by members of Team Trump who possess unsettling links to Moscow.” The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported the same thing, writing that it “undercores the deep mistrust that has developed between the intelligence community and the president over his team’s contacts with the Russian government, as well as the enmity he has shown toward U.S. spy agencies.”
Schindler now says that some members of the intelligence community (which he shortens to “IC” in tweets) believe the president must be brought down.
The growing scandal that some are calling “KremlinGate” exploded into the open this week with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser after leaks revealed details about his highly unusual December phone calls with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. The New York Times then reportedthat Trump’s “2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.” Republicans as well as Democrats in the Senate are calling for an investigation.
The question pundits and Democrats are raising is the same one that faced President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal four decades ago: What did the president know and when did he know it? Schindler seems to believe that Flynn is a fall guy for Trump and that many more damaging revelations are to come. He wrote:
“[W]hile Flynn is unquestionably a loose cannon, as a career military man he understands the chain of command with perfect clarity.”
— Douglas Perry
* “A reporter calls out President Trump during his televised press conference for making false claims about his Electoral College win”:
The above exchange was part of Trump’s 77-minute press conference, which will go down in history as the most bizarre Presidential press conference ever.
*Yesterday’s (2-16-17) press conference.
From Robert Reich and Rolling Stone
“Today, Trump went off script at his news conference. And when he goes off script he goes off the rails. These are the real answers he gave today (I and “Rolling Stone” have edited the questions slightly for length):
1. Is there chaos in the West Wing? “I turn on TV, open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos – chaos – yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”
2. What lead to Michael Flynn’s resignation: “The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.”
3. Did Flynn lie? “The thing is, he didn’t tell our vice president properly, and then he said he didn’t remember … that just wasn’t acceptable to me.”
4. Was the rollout of the travel ban well done? “We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban; we had a bad court.”
5. What’s fake news? “Russia is fake news. Russia – this is fake news put out by the media. The real news is the fact that people, probably from the Obama administration because they’re there, because we have our new people going in place, right now.”
6. Are you a bad person? “And I’ll tell you what else I see. I see tone. You know the word ‘tone’? The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such – I do get good ratings, you have to admit that – the tone is such hatred.”
7. What about the price of drugs and candy bars? “We’ve ordered the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to coordinate on a plan to destroy criminal cartels coming into the United States with drugs. We’re becoming a drug-infested nation. Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars.”
8. Would a nuclear war with Russia be bad? “We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I have been briefed. And I can tell you, one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say, because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other. They’re a very powerful nuclear country, and so are we.”
9.What about that Russian ship lurking off the coast of Connecticut? “The greatest thing I could do [politically] is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water.”
10. What’s uranium? “We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? This thing called nuclear weapons, and other things. Like, lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things. Nobody talks about that.”
11. What did Hillary Clinton so as secretary of state?
“Hillary Clinton did the reset, remember? With the stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks. Here, take a look. He looked at her like, ‘What the hell is she doing?’ With that cheap plastic button. Hillary Clinton. That was a reset. Remember it said ‘Reset’? Now if I do that oh, I’m the bad guy.”
12. How are you doing at this press conference?
“I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you you’re dishonest people.”
13. How does Melania feel about women’s issues?
“That is what I call a nice question. … She – like others, like others that she’s working with – feel very, very strongly about women’s issues, women’s difficulties.”
14. What about the uptick in threats against Jewish centers?
‘OK, sit down. … So here’s the story, folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism – the least racist person’.”