Johnny McEntee called in White House liaisons from cabinet agencies for an introductory meeting Thursday, in which he askedthem to identify political appointees across the U.S. government who are believed to be anti-Trump, three sources familiar with the meeting tell Axios.
McEntee, a 29-year-old former body man to Trump who was fired in 2018 by then-Chief of Staff John Kelly but recently rehired — and promoted to head the presidential personnel office — foreshadowed sweeping personnel changes across government.
But McEntee suggested the most dramatic changes may have to wait until after the November election.
Trump has empowered McEntee — whom he considers an absolute loyalist — to purge the “bad people” and “Deep State.”
McEntee told staff that those identified as anti-Trump will no longer get promotions by shifting them around agencies.
This was the guy originally hired to bring Trump his diet cokes and carry his bags. He was fired because he is a degenerate gambler and was a security threat. But Trumpie likes him — he’s a good lookin’ guy right out of central casting:
There’s a limited amount they can get accomplished before the election although I’m sure they’ll try. If he wins, however, I think we’re looking at an escalation that could threaten many people, including those who are not in the government. We can certainly expect the full use of law enforcement and intelligence capacity to eliminate threats to Trump.
The news that the Intelligence Community has determined that the Russians are interfering in the lection again to help Donald Trump is being received as you might expect on the right:
There is some pushback being reported in the press indicating that the evidence of Russians wanting Trump to win is based upon Russia’s reasonable belief that Trump is someone they can do business with and because he is a great dealmaker.
I actually laughed out loud when I heard this. Yes, those are probably reasons they want him to win. He is an imbecile who makes deals that do not benefit the United States of America because he’s subject to flattery and bribes and is too stupid and narcissistic to know the difference.
Interference in the election for any reason is something we should all be able to say is unacceptable regardless of whether they like Trump because they think he’s better for them or because he’s their paid agent. The president is supposed to serve American interests.
Sadly, he believes that his interests are the same as American interests. In fact, his impeachment lawyer Alan Dershowitzmade the argument that anything he does to preserve his power is perfectly acceptable because he believes that whatever he does is, by definition, good for America. So, here we are.
Anyway, in case you think the Russians are helping him out because he’s such a rational actor, making good deals for the betterment of the world, take a look at this twitter thread:
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has had a long career in politics, and I’m sure she has many accomplishments that she’s proud of. But I’m afraid she’s going to be remembered for one thing and one thing only: Her declaration that President Trump had “learned his lesson” after his impeachment trial in the Senate. That would have been a ridiculous rationale for voting to acquit any president on the evidence in that case, but saying it about Trump was downright laughable. He has proved that every single day since the trial ended.
Right out of the box he vowed revenge. He attacked Sen. Mitt Romney, the one Republican who voted to convict him in the Senate trial, and then immediately set about firing witnesses who had testified against him, including the twin brother of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, for no apparent reason.
Trump has pushed the Senate Republican majority and the Department of Justice to help him exact his vengeance by investigating professionals who were involved in the Russia and Ukraine investigation. His apparent collusion with Attorney General Bill Barr to interfere in criminal cases has caused a near-insurrection within the Department of Justice.
This week Trump went on a pardon spree, freeing a list of people who had been convicted of corruption, sending yet another obvious message to those inside and outside the justice system that he is unencumbered by the rule of law. It remains to be seen if he will pardon his old pal Roger Stone, now that he’s been sentenced to 40 months in prison. But if he has any fear that Stone has information to trade, you can be sure he’ll do it.
That’s just a partial list of “lessons” Trump has learned since the Senate failed to do its duty, and I’m sure I’m leaving some out. But the announcement on Thursday that Trump will name his ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, as the new acting director of national security may be the most shocking action of recent weeks.
Grenell is one of the most odious Trump toadies in the administration, and that’s really saying something. Like so many others, he came to Trump’s attention as a sharp-tongued Fox News personality. It’s likely that Trump didn’t know much about him other than the fact he was a big fan. That’s all it takes. Truthfully, if he’d known Grenell’s whole story he would like him even more.
Grenell held a few PR flak jobs in the government, working for the likes of John Bolton at the UN, where he was universally reviled. But he is best known as a Twitter troll, just like the president. He quit Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012, where he’d been hired as a foreign policy spokesman, after his Twitter feed was revealed to be full of nasty comments. During the 2016 campaign, he got back in the game and really made a name for himself as a crude and vicious Trump supporter.
Needless to say, Trump loved it and gave him the plum job of U.S. ambassador to Berlin, where he immediately alienated everyone in sight. On his very first day on the job, referencing the fact that Trump had withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, Grenell tweeted that “Germans doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” Obviously he had no authority to dictate any such thing, and people in Germany were not amused, to say the least. Leaders of two German political parties have called him a “brat” and a “failure” and requested that he be withdrawn. No such luck.
Most recently, he was implicated in the baroque Ukraine scandal, and particularly in the side plot involving Lev Parnas and Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash. Parnas was reportedly instructed (perhaps by Rudy Giuliani) to ask Grenell for a heads-up if the Department of Justice decided to seek Firtash’s extradition to the U.S. Grenell apparently agreed to do it, which was probably illegal.
Grenell’s name has been floating all over the Trump administration for a while, mentioned as a possible national security adviser after Bolton’s departure or a potential secretary of state if Mike Pompeo quits. He has no qualifications for any such posts, other than his personal fealty to Donald Trump.
The professionals in the intelligence community are reportedly very alarmed by Grenell’s appointment, as they should be. The DNI oversees all the U.S. intelligence services and has access to all the most important capabilities and secrets. It is unclear whether Grenell even has a top-level security clearance or could qualify for one.
This appointment was announced as yet another “acting” assignment, which seems odd since an acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, was already in place. (He has filled the job since last August, when Dan Coats departed.) Administration sources have said that Grenell will only serve until Trump nominates someone for the permanent position, which would require Senate confirmation, and won’t resign his position in Germany. So why put in another placeholder?
Late on Thursday, the Washington Post and the New York Times reported the answer: Trump wanted Maguire out immediately because his department had briefed the House Intelligence Committee last week and told members that the Russian government is once again interfering in the presidential campaign on Trump’s behalf. As usual, Trump is livid that members of his administration actually performed their legal and constitutional duties, and is determined to punish those who did. He was especially angry that Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a major villain in Trump World, was given this information.
Aside from Maguire, the second-ranking official in the DNI’s office, longtime intelligence professional Andrew Hallman, also announced his departure, leaving the top echelon without experienced leadership. But never fear, another Trumpian hack is on the way. According to Politico, hyper-partisan henchman Kash Patel, the former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who played an important role in House Republicans’ attempts to discredit the Russia investigation, will come on board as “senior adviser” to Grenell.
It’s clear that Trump has moved his most dedicated disciples into the DNI’s office in order to prevent any more briefings on Russian interference on his behalf and to ensure that the intelligence community is brought to heel. Between this and Bill Barr’s unlimited mandate to investigate the intelligence on election interference from 2016, one can assume that the purge of anyone Trump considers a threat within the intelligence agencies or the Justice Department is now in full effect.
So in a sense Susan Collins was right. Trump has learned his lesson: Only proven Trump loyalists will run national security and federal law enforcement from now on. What could possibly go wrong?
For a few weeks now, Republican-affiliated Faith and Power PAC has run ads in North Carolina promoting Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Erica Smith as “the only proven progressive” who can unseat Sen. Thom Tillis in November. Smith has disavowed the interference in the campaign even as Rev. Dr. William Barber II criticized the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for endorsing former, one-term state senator Cal Cunningham. Smith is a black aerospace engineer and minister serving in the state senate since 2015. Cunningham left office in 2003 and served as a JAG officer in Iraq.
It is the DSCC’s second try with Cunningham. They supported him over popular NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall in the 2010 primary. When Marshall defeated their preference in the primary, the DSCC left her hanging in the breeze without a nickel. She lost to incumbent Richard Burr. The DSCC got behind Cunningham again months ago.
“It’s so brazen and obvious. … They recognize that Cunningham is a strong candidate, and they’re worried about holding on to that seat,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). “When Republicans are weighing in for somebody, they’ve made the judgment that they’re worried about Cal, and they’re not worried about her.”
Or else they are more worried about Thom Tillis’s weakness. He is ranked one of the most vulnerable Republicans running for reelection in 2020.
The public polling in the race is scarce, though Democrats believe months of heavy spending laid the groundwork for Cunningham to prevail. VoteVets, a group that supports Democratic veterans and endorsed Cunningham’s campaign, has spent $6 million between its super PAC and an affiliated nonprofit on positive ads for his candidacy. Cunningham has spent six figures on TV, and his campaign is also running TV ads with coordinated spending from the DSCC. Most of those efforts were underway before the apparent intervention from Republicans, but the spending has increased in the past week.
Smith’s weakness is her fundraising. Cunningham is well-connected to the Democrats’ fundraising network. A friend in New York City received an invitation to a Cunningham fundraiser there last September. He has raised over $3 million. Smith has raised a bit over $200k.
But the New Republic’s Alex Pareene cite’s political scientist Rachel Bitecofer’s belief that “elections are won not by persuading swing-voting independents but by turning out the greatest number of people already inclined to support your side.” Per Bitecofer’s theory, this “should prompt parties to back candidates who generate enthusiasm among those who might otherwise sit home or cast a protest vote, not moderates who might be able to persuade independent voters to switch parties.”
A black woman near the top of North Carolina Democrats’ fall ticket would better fit that profile. But the DSCC prefers its candidates white, male, centrist, compliant, and with an ability to pass the “Rolodex” test. Pareene opines that Cunningham “honestly just looks like the kind of guy who would lose a North Carolina Senate race to a vulnerable Republican.”
If it’s true that everyone is wrong about “candidate quality,” Democrats are posing the wrong questions. It’s more important to ask what a candidate would do once elected than it is to ask how he or she would get elected. And instead of bemoaning the GOP’s dirty tricks, liberals should encourage Republicans to make even more duplicitous primary interventions on behalf of “unelectable” candidates.
Smith has a compelling personal story. She grew up on a farm in eastern North Carolina, went on to become a mechanical engineer and worked for Boeing. Smith has the dynamic, preacher-like speaking style she picked up along with her divinity degree.
Cunningham’s stump speech is boiler plate that tastes like cardboard. If anything, he appears more wooden than in 2010. The Vote Vets ads tout the Bronze Star (for serving in a combat zone) this former JAG attorney has been running on since 2010.
During that 2010 primary, Cunningham told me the DSCC said his Bronze Star would trump anything the right wing could throw at him. My first thought was, “And you believed them?” My second was, “Does John Kerry ring a bell?”
The scant polls have shown Smith with a slight edge over Cunningham. But as so often in politics, viability comes down to the ability to raise money. For that, Cunningham wins a gold star. On March 3, he may win a nomination.
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A 43-year-old German who posted a manifesto calling for the “complete extermination” of many “races or cultures in our midst” shot and killed nine people of foreign background, most of them Turkish, in an attack on a hookah bar and other sites in a Frankfurt suburb, authorities said Thursday.
He was later found dead at his home along with his mother, and authorities said they were treating the rampage as an act of domestic terrorism.
The bloodshed came amid growing concerns about far-right violence in Germany and stepped-up efforts from authorities to crack down on it, including last week’s detention of a dozen men on suspicion they were planning attacks against politicians and minorities.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said the shootings exposed the “poison” of racism in Germany, and she pledged to stand up against those who seek to divide the country. “There is much to indicate that the perpetrator acted out of far-right extremist, racist motives,” she said. “Out of hatred for people with other origins, other faiths or a different appearance.”
Germany’s federal prosecutor, Peter Frank, said that all nine people killed were of foreign backgrounds and that six others were injured, one seriously…
Frank identified the gunman only as Tobias R., in line with German privacy laws, and confirmed he had posted extremist videos and a manifesto with “confused ideas and far-fetched conspiracy theories” on his website.
Among the documents posted to the website was a 24-page, rambling manifesto in German detailing, among other things, fears that he has been under government surveillance for years. He blamed the surveillance for his inability to have a relationship with a woman.
“We now have ethnic groups, races or cultures in our midst that are destructive in every respect,” he also wrote. He said he envisioned first a “rough cleaning” and then a “fine cleaning” that could halve the world’s population.
He wrote: “The following people must be completely exterminated: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the complete Arabian Peninsula, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Usbekistan, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines.”
German police were also examining a video he may have posted online several days before the attack in which he detailed a conspiracy theory about child abuse in the U.S., dpa reported. The authenticity of the video couldn’t immediately be verified, but the YouTube account was under the same name as the website containing the gunman’s manifesto.
In the video, the speaker warned Americans that “your country is under control of invisible secret societies.” In a slow and deliberate voice in accented English, he said there are “deep underground military bases” in which “they abuse, torture and kill little children.”
He made no reference to the far-right QAnon movement in the U.S., but the message was similar to the fringe group’s central, baseless belief that President Donald Trump is under attack from “deep state” enemies and that satanists and cannibals are running a child sex trafficking ring.
In his manifesto, the gunman made one reference to Trump, writing: “I doubt that Donald Trump knowingly implements my recommendations.” He suggested that “mind control” might be at work.
With all that’s going on, I don’t know if people are even aware this happened. It’s just another mass killing by a far-right loon, inspired by internet wingnuts.
What this guy meant by “mind-control” being at work is unknown, but the mere fact that he thought the president wasn’t “knowingly” implementing his recommendations says it all. Let’s just say this nut believed he and Trump were on the same wavelength. And he wasn’t wrong.
I know you’re shocked. But the Russian government is helping Trump win re-election. Oh, and Trump is trying to cover it up. Surprise.
Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, five people familiar with the matter said, in a disclosure that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.
The day after the Feb. 13 briefing to lawmakers, Mr. Trump berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place, people familiar with the exchange said. Mr. Trump cited the presence in the briefing of Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who led the impeachment proceedings against him, as a particular irritant.
During the briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Trump’s allies challenged the conclusions, arguing that Mr. Trump has been tough on Russia and strengthened European security. Some intelligence officials viewed the briefing as a tactical error, saying that had the official who delivered the conclusion spoken less pointedly or left it out, they would have avoided angering the Republicans.
Some intelligence officials viewed the briefing as a tactical error, saying that had the official who delivered the conclusion spoken less pointedly or left it out, they would have avoided angering the Republicans.
Jesus. This is what it’s come to. They are all accomplices.
It’s also pretty clear that Trump fired the current Acting DNI Joseph Maguire because of this and brought in the most eager toadie he could find, Richard Grenell, to ensure that nobody ever finds out how much our elections are being rigged in his favor.
President Trump erupted at his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, in the Oval Office last week over what he perceived as disloyalty by Maguire’s staff, which ruined Maguire’s chances of becoming the permanent intelligence chief, according to people familiar with the matter.
Trump announced on Wednesday that he was replacing Maguire with a vocal loyalist, Richard Grenell, who is the U.S. ambassador to Germany.
Maguire had been considered a leading candidate to be nominated for the post of DNI, White House aides had said. But Trump’s opinion shifted last week when he heard from a GOP ally that the intelligence official in charge of election security, who works for Maguire, gave a classified briefing last Thursday to the House Intelligence Committee on 2020 election security.
When the Washington Post published that they didn’t know what the briefing was about. We all know now.
Trump threatened to have the federal government take over LA and San Francisco at his rally last night:
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the federal government may “step in” to take control of San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The president made the remarks at a White House event in Bakersfield, California. During the event, Trump responded to someone who said he wanted to “get rid” of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Get rid of Pelosi! That’s okay with me!” Trump exclaimed. “Lot of people agree. Look what’s happened to San Francisco. So sad what’s happened, when you see a slum, where it’s a slum. It’s worse than a slum. There’s no slum like that.”
“It’s something that we’re going to do something about,” he added. “Because if they don’t fix it up, clean it up, take care of the homeless, do what they have to do but clean up their city, the federal government is going to have to step in. And we’re going to do it in Los Angeles and San Francisco.”
It’s odd that he hasn’t targeted some of the big cities in states that voted for him though. Surely they should be first on the list asking for his “help.”
Marine One flew directly over my house the other night when he was here. Twice. I looked up and it sure felt like my whole country was being occupied — by an alien from a foreign planet.
I know this is a ridiculous observation but I can’t help but think about what people would say if some Democratic politician was standing in front of a laughing and jeering California crowd referring to some Ohio steel town as a slum.
I know. It’s a waste of breath. The only people allowed to be offended when someone disparages their community in this way are conservatives. The rest of us just have to grin and bear it when the president threatens to send the federal government to take over their city.
By the way, in case you’re wondering about what they have in mind, Fox News has spelled it out. Transcript via Media Matters:
GERALDO RIVERA (CO-HOST): What do you do with the homeless? What do you do with them? I’m in LA and I’ve got homeless everywhere. What do I do with them? Put them on a bus to Phoenix?
GREG GUTFELD (CO-HOST): No you move them out to a government-owned area. You set up sanitation. You get counselors in there. You separate the mentally ill.
RIVERA: So you would arrest people who are destitute?
GUTFELD: You keep interrupting me. One you separate the mentally ill, from the non-mentally ill, the people who are drug-addicted from the not drug-addicted.
RIVERA: You’re going be the separator?
GUTFELD: No you hire people to do it.
No doubt they’ll have people greeting the trains and buses to decide who should go take a shower and who can go to the tents. That’s how such “camps” tend to work.
Rivera went on to say that Trump can rally the majority to back him so we can have the “era of tough love.”
Roger Stone got 40 months. That seems right to me. Not that I think he’ll serve even a day. It’s pretty clear that Trump will pardon him. The only question is whether he’ll wait for him to go through the appeals process (assuming he doesn’t have to wait in jail) or do it right away. I’m quite sure Trump wants to do it now but perhaps cooler heads have prevailed simply because of the looming election. Trump himself is way past caring about appearances, not that he ever really did.
As Stone gets a jail sentence, I’m reminded of this story about Stone and his good buddy Alex Jones at the Republican convention in 2016:
As Jones made it to the stage about two hours into the rally, the crowd, many decked out in Infowars gear (some with holstered guns), drew in closer to get a glimpse of their messiah. The DNA supplement taker proselytized about Hillary Clinton and her secret ties to communist China, the looming rise of nationalism and the death of the dinosaur media (typified today by Mother Jones’ David Corn, who was invited to join Jones onstage.
“You are the resistance. You are the reason the globalists are in so much trouble. You are part of 1776,” Jones screamed, his face turning various shades of purple like a toe throbbing in the sunlight. “We salute you. Infowars salutes you,” he said before exiting stage right.
Next up to the plate was Roger Stone, a former adviser to Richard Nixon and the source of some of the most unsavory media stories about Trump’s Republican opponents and the Clintons.
Wearing an eggshell-white suit, with his snow white hair standing at odds and ends in the wind, Stone introduced himself as “Italian from the waist down,” before eviscerating Hillary Clinton with a series of half-truths and flat-out unsubstantiated claims.
“They don’t tell us about Vince Foster,” Stone said at one point—after shedding his jacket and tossing it aside. “There was carpet fiber all over his body. They rolled him up in a carpet.”
Stone, who is not formally attached to the Trump campaign in any way, claimed during his speech that he was late because he had met with Trump staffers.
When The Daily Beast asked who these staffers were after the event, Stone replied: “Manafort, Fabrizio—two of my oldest comrades in arms—and Jason Miller; a real pro.” Those people, of course, are Trump’s campaign chairman, one of his pollsters and his communications manager. Miller did not immediately respond to an emailed request for confirmation from The Daily Beast.
“This is dirty money and the Clintons have blood on their hands,” Stone said before wrapping up his address with the infamous two-handed peace sign, an indelible image associated with Nixon—the man whose face is tattooed on Stone’s back.
He is not just a clown. He has been infecting American politics with this disgusting character assassination for nearly 50 years and has finally been taken to task for covering up for someone who is just as corrupt and toxic as he is.
I doubt he’ll pay much of a price, unfortunately. He’s now elevated to the status of martyr in the right-wing fever swamps and will make a ton of money out of all this once Trump pardons him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him right back in the saddle in a couple of months, back to his old dirty tricks, helping the most corrupt president in American history win another term.
But he’s had some sleepless nights, I’m sure. But Roger Stone knows too much about everyone to actually do any time. Richard Nixon would be so proud of his boy.
“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians,” Warren said, right at the outset. “No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”
“Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women and of supporting racist policies like redlining and stop-and-frisk,” Warren continued, adding: “Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.”
That, of course, is an indictment not just of Bloomberg (who has his own history of demeaning women) but also of Trump: The president is a disgusting misogynist and a racist in his own right, and he’s engaged in nonstop corrupt self-dealing, facilitated by concealed tax returns — and a corrupted system.
Similarly, in another big exchange, Warren cornered Bloomberg by pressing him to release female employees from nondisclosure agreements. But Warren linked this back to the other arrogant billionaire, insisting Democrats can’t beat Trump with a nominee “who has who knows how many nondisclosure agreements” hidden away somewhere.
The argument isn’t just that a misogynist billionaire can’t beat Trump. It’s that a misogynist billionaire who conceals misconduct through clever gaming of the system can’t beat Trump.
This is what that adds up to:
The through line here is an indictment of elite corruption — that is, of elites acting with impunity.’
Her focus on Bloomberg’s history of covering up sexual discrimination and misconduct and his own sexist language shows that she’s not just talking about economics. She also talked at length about the challenges people of color face in our system. It’s an indictment of this powerfully corrupt system that disadvantages people for any number of reasons.
I personally find her holistic focus on corruption at all levels and around all the various ways in which our society is unequal to be persuasive. She’s the only one who correctly sees all this as a complex mixture of politics, culture and economics. This is why her scathing attacks on Trump’s disdain for the rule of law and Bloomberg’s elite impunity hit so sharply. They go beyond money.
She interested in abuse of power, writ large, on every dimension.
When she said before that she is the Democratic unity candidate this is what she was getting at. She just needed to demonstrate what she meant by that. I think she did that last night. Whether enough people care remains to be seen.
I never thought I’d live to be 72. The thought of it actually shocks me– and it’s a really good feeling. Look forward to it– especially if we haveMedicare-for-All headed our way.
I’ve been getting a ton of well-wishes, especially on Facebook. Instead of sending a card or anything, can you consider contributing to any congressional candidate dedicated to passing Medicare-for-All? Personally, I would surely have died without Medicare.
You can find 33 Medicare-for-All candidates by clicking the thermometer on the right, both Senate candidates and House candidates. Even if you just want to give one dollar to one candidate… it would be a mitzvah.
I know we’re all thinking about the presidential race right now, but unless we get some good solid progressives into Congress, we’re not going to get the fundamental, transformative change we need. Even if we elect a great president like Bernie or Elizabeth (or a Bernie-Elizabeth ticket), we’re going to need more members like Ro Khanna and Pramila Jayapal and Ted Lieu, AOC, Ayanna Pressley, Andy Levin and Jamie Raskin to pass the kind of progressive agenda the status quo establishment is going to fight ever step of the way to keep from being enacted.
Click on the thermometer to wish Howie a happy birthday. It’s for a good cause!