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July 25, 2017
UNITED STATES CAPITOL — Yesterday, a cocky thirtysomething mega-billionaire who is married to Donald Trump’s older daughter testified in secret before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Its Chairman is Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina). Its vice chair is Sen. Mark Warner (D – Virginia).
So the star witness, Jared Kushner, submitted ahead of time an eleven page statement defending his numerous contacts with representatives of the Russian government before and after last year’s presidential election repressentatives, claiming that he was both young and smart and hopelessly overworked by his father-in-law, who trusts only family members as opposed to sensible people who know how the federal government works (cf. Arnie Karni’s report in yesterday’s Politico, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/24/kushner-defends-himself-ahead-of-senate-intel-meeting-i-did-not-collude-240870).
So we asked associate solitary reporter Melissa Smith to sit in on today’s hearing before Burr et. al.
Much to her surprise, as soon as Kushner entered the closed hearing room, who should be seated next to Sen. Warner but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Mohammed Fethulah Gulen, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. It was Christie who, as the top federal prosecutor in the Garden State, sent Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, to prison for two years for tax evasion, illegal campaign donations, and witness tampering (no wonder big fat Chris Christie didn’t get to be Trump’s Attorney General).
Smith, of course, is very savvy about how Congress works, as she is our chief congressional correspondent. This is a portion of the transcript which she filed with us yesterday afternoon, after the secret hearing was concluded:
“SR, to my astonishment, when it came time for Sen. Warner to question Kushner, Sen. Sanders rudely interrupted this secret hearing, saying 'Let the record show that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is not related to me. Instead, she is the daughter of twice-failed GOP presidential candidate and leading evangelical huckster Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas.'”
As Sen. Burr tried to gavel Sen. Sanders out of order, Gulen politely asked Chairman Burr for permission to speak.
“By all means, Sir. It’s not as though we invited you down here today, but since you’re here, why don’t you tell us why Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is so convinced that you are responsible for the failed coup which tried to remove him from power?”
“That’s easy,” the elderly cleric and political activist said, “I used to be a political ally of Erdogan but we had a falling out, and I moved to the United States. I had nothing whatsoever to do with the coup, but a few of my followers in the Gulenist Movement may have, and Erdogan, who is a ruthless dictator, keeps blaming me for fomenting that coup, and he has jailed hundreds and hundreds of dedicated civl servants in my native land, and a few of them are Gulenists.”
“But Sir,” Sen. Burr asked, “Turkey is a very important ally of this country, and Erdogan has been seeking your extradition for many months now. Don’t you think it would be to the benefit of the United States for you voluntarily to go back home?”
At this, Sen. Warner interrupted and said, “Mr. Chairman, I object. You called this secret hearing, with my concurrence, to find out why Mr. Kushner met with Ambassador Kislyak and Putin’s Emissary, Natalia Vesilnitskaya, and why he falsified his application for security clearance by omitting his illegal contacts with Russian representatives. Although I would like to question Mr. Gulen at great length on another occasion, we are here to find out as much as we can about how and why the so-called Trump Administration made illegal contacts with the Russians before January 20.”
“Very well, Sen. Warner,” Burr said, “Governor Christie, would you like to question Mr. Kushner?”
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”
“Mr. Kushner, are you still really pissed off at me for throwing your corrupt father in prison?”
“Yes, Governor, I am.”
“And you know how much I adore your father-in-law, who is the most magnificent specimen of a gutsy New Yorker.”
“Could you please put in a good word with your father-in-law? Attorney General Sessions will be resigning very soon, either that or he will be shown the door. If your father-in-law nominates me to succeed Sessions, I promise you that under no circumstances will I tolerate the witch hunt which is taking place right now because Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein messed up big time by appointing a Special Prosecutor to inform the American people exactly how deep and dirty the Russians went to elect your father-in-law.”
“Yes, Governor I will discuss that with my father-in-law as soon as I get back to my office in the White House.”
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman,” Christie said. “I have no further questions.”
“Thank you, Governor Christie. Senator Sanders, I fully acknowledge that you probably would have come a lot closer to winning the election than Secretary Clinton, who went into last year’s presidential election carrying a huge amount of baggage. But Bernie, you’re not a member of this committee, so I will ask you to leave this secret hearing and catch the next plane to Burlington and stay there for the remainder of the year.”
“Mr. Chairman,” Sanders replied, “yes, it’s obvious to me that had I won the nomination of the political party to which I no longer belong, I would be sitting in the Oval Office right now, trying to badger a very recalcitrant Republican Senate into passing a single-payer health care plan to improve the Affordable Care Act.”
“But Donald Trump occupies the White House today. Thank you Mr. Chairman, I will leave now, and I will go directly to my Senate office here in Washington, where I have a lot of work to do."
THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION, 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE — As Donald Trump’s legal team struggles to salvage his occupancy of the White House, associate solitary reporter Johanna Jones interviewed Trump’s third trophy wife, Melania.
Trump is doing everything he can to undermine Special Counsel (and former FBI Director) Robert Mueller. Why? Because Mueller is looking into the megabillionaire’s finances and how they may or may not be connected to Trump’s close personal friendship with Vladimir Putin, who, in ways not yet fully known, is partly responsible for Trump’s occupancy of the White House.
LegalTeamTrump is figuring out how Trump can pardon his aides as well as himself, given that Trump is highly impeachable. (Trump, however, bought himself some political insurance by picking hard right-winger Mike Pence, a Christian triumphalist if there ever was one, to occupy the Naval Observatory at taxpayers’ expense.)
But it’s a different matter as between The Donald and The Melania.
“Donnie won’t appoint me as his ambassador to my country, Slovenia,” Melania told Jones. “I am sick and tired of Donnie dragging me all over the world to show me off. Despite the GQ shoot, I am not a sexual object. I am a human being and I want to go home.”
When Jones told Trump’s new press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, about her conversation with Melania, Huckabee Sanders shrugged it off, saying, “Mr. Trump is a man. He’s entitled to marry whoever he wants. Ask the evangelicals who supported him.”
The word on the street in Washington is that Trump has ordered dozens of his former Miss Universe contestants to audition in the Oval Office to be the prospective Fourth Mrs. Trump.
But before that, he’ll deport Melania to Slovenia.
It’s really boring for us here at AP to cover what’s going on in Washington and elsewhere.
This morning, Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, resigned, after Trump hired hedge funds mogul Anthony Scaramucci to be his Communications Director. Spicer doesn’t want to work under
Scaramucci — who, interestingly enough, raised bigly sums for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008.
Communication, of course, is something that Trump thinks he is really good at.
Come to think of it, there isn't anything that the current occupant of the White House thinks that he is not good at.
Scaramucci, like Trump, comes to Washington with virtually no government experience, with the exception of a very brief stint at the Export-Import Bank, appointed by Trump.
So what does Scaramucci have in his favor? Well, for one thing, he’s much better looking than Spicer, who, before becoming Trump’s incompetent press secretary, was a Republican hack employed at the RNC.
Scaramucci’s one of those Wall Street guys who thinks he knows everything about everything. Just like Trump, the most ignorant of just about all our presidents.
In 2005, Scaramucci founded SkyBridge Capital, a global alternate investment firm.
Why an alternate investment firm?
The answer to that one is easy: Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s third campaign manager and one of his chief sycophants, originated the concept of “alternative facts” to explain stuff that she wanted the media to report, that didn’t happen.
Scaramucci will fit right in at the White House.
According to associate solitary reporter Foma Kheroshonsky, who is based in Moscow, Spicer will replace Margarita Simonyan, the Armenian-Russian editor-in-chief of the English-language aspect of Russia Today (RT), which is funded by the Russian government.
Kheroshonsky was with Spicer and Russian president Vladimir Putin as Putin announced Spicer’s appointment.
“Given the exceptionally close relations between me and the guy in the White House whom I am so good at hoodwinking,” Putin said, “it only makes sense that Comrade Spicer should be working for me.”
Spicer smiled as he accepted the appointment, on the condition that Putin give him permission to visit Edward Snowden and kick him in the cojones.
Donald Trump is always eager to prove that he is Vladimir Putin’s very best personal friend. That’s why yesterday we learned that Trump met for nearly an hour in a second, previously undisclosed G-20 meeting with Putin. With Trump and Putin were Putin’s translator. Nobody
else — no American translator, no Tillerson, no McMaster.
So now we have even more proof, way beyond a reasonable doubt, that Trump knows virtually nothing about foreign policy or foreign affairs (except for the affair he had with Melania from Slovenia while he was still married to Marla), and certainly the man is no diplomat — just an overglanded, testosterone-driven seventy-one year old braggart who cares only for himself.
Not only that, but now that we know that Sen. John McCain — one of the bravest ever of our pilots, during the Vietnam war — has a brain tumor, it’s necessary to remind ourselves what Trump said about Sen. McCain last year: that McCain was at fault for having been captured by the North Vietnamese.
Associate solitary reporter Johana Jones tells us that Trump is only thinking about his next game of golf at Bedminister, after berating Republican senators yesterday for not doing the job that Trump doesn’t really gave a holy piece of s__t about, namely, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act; all Trump really cares about is getting more tax breaks for rich s__heads like him and, incidentally, being able to claim a legislative victory, which he surely hasn’t achieved so far.
Jones also tells us that Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is about to resign after Trump openly blamed Sessions for recusing himself from the probe of Putin’s meddling in our elections.
Sessions told associate solitary reporter Susanna Sherman he’s sorry he even took the job of Attorney General. Sessions immediately broke into song, so gaily that Sherman joined him:
“Ah wish Ah wuz in Dixie, Hooray, Hooray! “
Ah'l live and die in Dixie.
Away, away, away down south in Dixie!
Away, away, away down south in Dixie!”
And, in the twinkling of an eye, Trump’s magic carpet picked up the Attorney General and, sho’ ‘nuff, carried the former senator from the Heart of Dixie State straight to Mobile. Still with him, Sherman burst into song, with Bob Dylan at her side:
"Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile with the
Memphis blues again?”
But Sessions, who is from Selma and Mobile, demurred, and lambasted Sherman and Dylan for mocking his Southern heritage and his political base.
The magic carpet dropped Sherman and Dylan off in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and then took Sessions to New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. Sessions, a spry seventy year old, jumped off the carpet and announced that he’s running for governor of Louisiana so he can outdo Huey Long.
WASHINGTON — The cover of TIME magazine, for its February 27 issue, has an image of Donald Trump, with his hairpiece blown by a fan, and, as well, papers on his desk being blown away by the same fan. The title for the cover is “Nothing Here.” In that issue, Philip Elliott has a lead article detailing the extraordinary missteps that Trump has taken since he swaggered himself into the White House on January 20.
For many years, House Speaker Paul Ryan (who could have become our Vice-President, only that didn’t happen) has desperately wanted to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act — a law which made it possible for millions of uninsured Americans to receive badly needed health care.
So Ryan crafted his “American Health Care Act” to replace the ACA.
Given that some members of his House Republican Conference were much more interested in scoring political points by “simply” repealing the ACA than improving it, it was a heavy lift for Ryan to get his AHCA through the House on May 4, 217-213, the narrowest of margins. All 193 House Democrats sensibly voted against it; 20 Republicans (including Tea Party Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman) voted no after Ryan and his House leadership team covered their butts. An exuberant Trump (who had paid little attention to the details of Ryan’s bill) held a victory photo-op in the Rose Garden with Ryan & Co.
Next, it was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s turn. And once again, Trump paid little attention to the details, leaving it to McConnell & Co. to get the job done with little coordination with Priebus & Co. at the White House.
So McConnell, whose Senate career has been based primarily on thwarting all President Obama’s every legislative priorities, met for weeks behind closed doors with twelve other white male Republican senators, and released his “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.” Again, Trump paid little attention to the details. McConnell, of course, only wants beleaguered American citizens to act against their own self-interest by voting for Republicans.
Both the “AHCA” and McConnellCare gutted Medicaid, and GOP senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and others, including Rob Portman (Ohio) raised objections. Senators Ted Cruz (TP-Texas), Mike Lee (TP-Utah), and Rand Paul (TP-Kentucky, and McConnell’s junior Republican colleague from the Bluegrass State), were hell-bent on repealing the ACA outright. Then GOP Sen. Jerry Moran (Kansas) put the nail in the coffin of McConnellCare by saying he would vote no.
Next, 80 year old Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) had surgery for a blood clot in Phoenix, and McConnell announced that no vote on repealing the ACA would be held until McCain could return to the Senate. (Just today we learned that McCain, a war hero, has brain cancer.)
As topnotch reporters John Bresnahan and Burgess Everett wrote in yesterday’s Politico, the failure of McConnell’s ACA repeal bill “tarnishes the Senate GOP leader's reputation as a [master] strategist." Things didn’t get easier for McConnell when Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) questioned McConnell’s leadership by writing McConnellCare in secret.
As all this was happening, associate solitary reporter Melissa Smith, who covers Congress for us, darted into McConnell’s office, where the portentous senior senator from Kentucky was closeted with his junior colleague and Tea Party darling, Rand Paul.
“Rand,” McConnell began, “now I understand why Boehner quit so precipitously back in September of ’15. The Tea Partiers in his Conference were driving him nuts. Now, John is pulling in $400,000 a year for serving on the board of American Reynolds — you know, the cigarette maker.”
“I’m all in. I quit. You win, Rand. Today, I’m gonna assemble all the members of our Republican Senate Conference and announce that I’m resigning from the Senate. And I’m gonna tell them to make you their Majority Leader.”
Paul’s response was swift and to the point: “Whoopee! My daddykins will call me from Texas and he'll tell me, 'Son, this is the happiest day of my life! We're gonna make the United States of America a Libertarian paradise!'"