A Conspiracy So Immense, II

Peter Baker in the New York Times:

So it has come to this: The president of the United States was asked over the weekend whether he is a Russian agent. And he refused to directly answer.

The question, which came from a friendly interviewer, not one of the “fake media” journalists he disparages, was “the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” he declared. But it is a question that has hung over his presidency now for two years.

If the now 23-day government shutdown standoff between Mr. Trump and Congress has seemed ugly, it may eventually seem tame by comparison with what is to come. The border wall fight is just the preliminary skirmish in this new era of divided government. The real battle has yet to begin.

The polls (CNN, ABC-WaPo) say the public is blaming Trump and the Republicans for the government shutdown much more than they blame the Democrats. Republicans in Congress must be grateful Trump is pulling this stupid stunt just after an election and not before it. But now that we’re in longest-shutdown-ever territory, the situation is becoming increasingly perilous.

Do read this analysis at WaPo about how we got into this mess. Apparently just about every Republican in Washington begged Trump to not start a shutdown.

In the weeks leading up to December’s deadline to fund the government, Trump was warned repeatedly about the dangers of a shutdown but still opted to proceed, according to officials with knowledge of the conversations.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told the president that he had no leverage and that, without a clear strategy, he would be “boxed in a canyon.” He tried to make the case to Trump that even if Pelosi and Schumer were interested in cutting a deal with him, they would be constrained from compromising because of internal Democratic Party pressures to oppose Trump’s wall, these officials said.

Then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) talked with Trump by phone for 45 minutes the day before the shutdown, warning that he saw no way to win as he paced in a Capitol hallway just outside a conference room where House Republicans were meeting. Then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned about the perils of a shutdown during the Christmas season.

Inside, some of the more hard-line members urged a showdown over border wall funding, arguing that Trump’s core supporters would revolt otherwise. But McCarthy asked, “Tell me what happens when we get into a shutdown? I want to know what our next move is.”

It seems to me that it would be to the Republicans’ own advantage, long term, to put an end to this mess and open the government now, before we get any closer to the 2020 election. It would stop the erosion of their poll numbers and send a signal to Trump that he can’t get away with the Crazy Lone Ranger act. And for their own sakes they had better do it before the real fireworks start.

But where is Mitch McConnell? Has he lost his nerve? Is he holed up in some Kentucky road house disguised with a fake mustache and crying into his bourbon? Maybe he thinks public sentiment will turn on the Dems eventually, but so far that’s not happening.

Or, maybe he’s decided to let Trump hang himself. Also a possibility.

Cries for the Dems to negotiate kind of ignore the fact that Trump isn’t offering them anything. For example,

Exasperated, a small group of Republican lawmakers tried to determine a way out last week. Led by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), they met Wednesday in Graham’s office with White House legislative affairs director Shahira Knight and senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to discuss a broader immigration deal that could include protections for undocumented children in exchange for $5.7 billion in wall funding. …

…But the president said no. Pence then told Graham and Alexander that Trump appreciated their proposal but was not interested in re-opening the government until the Democrats were willing to negotiate on the wall.

What “negotiation”? Trump hasn’t put anything on the table. Offering Dems a broader immigration deal in exchange for wall funding would be a negotiation. Trump isn’t negotiating.

Anyhoo — today news media are making a big deal of the fact that Trump confiscated the interpreter’s notes after a meeting with Putin in Hamburg, in 2017:

President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. U.S. officials learned of Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Tillerson.

The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries.

I was thinking we already had heard this, but I was confusing the 2017 Hamburg meeting with the 2018 Helinski meeting. But in the process of trying to straighten out what I thought I remembered, I came across a Business Insider story from July 2018 – National security experts warn Trump is behaving more and more like a ‘controlled spy.’ Going back to the last post, in which the Smart People class seem to be just now catching on, I suggest we need better Smart People. The ones we have are two damn slow.

15 thoughts on “A Conspiracy So Immense, II

  1. Re: better Smart People. I’ve always maintained Trump was a second-rate con man based on the intelligence of the marks he cons: bankers, financiers (think Romney), “developers” (speculators), his base…

  2. Too bad the punTWIT's of the Smart People class don't read "Libtard" blogs.

    They might learn something (God forbid!).

    There' s a pretty good chance that if they checked some good liberal blogs once in a while, they wouldn't have to ask "Whokoodaknowed' when something obvious to a liberal, happens!

  3. " I alone can fix it"  I guess Trump is using the word fix in the same sense that you'd use it to fix somebody's wagon.

  4. Trump is getting a little paunchy from parking his ass in front of his big screen TV while watching Fox and Friends during his executive time. Maybe the Repugs should put him on a diet by serving him up a low calorie shit sandwich and a slice of humble pie. And when he's done he can pay for his meal with a big ol' reality check.

    To my eyes there is no way out of this situation without somebody shouldering the blame. And I strongly suspect that Pelosi won't cave. She's too shrewd a politician, and too smart a person to not understand exactly what the stakes are and she knows the character of who she's dealing with. Trump is on the ropes and Mitch ain't gonna give him a life line by wearing the mantle for Trump's stupidity. He's a big bag of shit if ever there was one.

  5. If you come to the table with a fixed position… You’re not negotiating, you’re demanding.

  6. O.T. At this point most Americans understand that tRump's "wall" is nothing more than a racist metaphor, that being said the shutdown is eventually going to drag them democrats down as well. Chuck and Nancy should offer lil 'Donnie 4.1 billion dollars in exchange for signing clean CR's for the remaining fiscal year and also sign a pledge that there will be no more wall money until after the 2020 election. That's it, here's your money fool no go away! If he doesn't take that deal then McTurtle will have to sh#t or get off the pot!

  7. I never worked for Russia reads the headline{link below).  One of a long train of denials I suspect.  In Trumpspeak this translates to I am an agent for Russia.  

    Chicago Guy, in a comment to the NYT provided this translation key today.  A grain of truth makes for the best humor.

    Take everything Donald Trump says and invert it, and there, you will find the truth. Every. Single. Time. And the more he denies something, the greater his concern about the truth of it  coming out. He's said "no collusion" ~927 times, which guarantees there was


  8. Trump ran for president and acts as though he was elected king. As businessmen learned over the years, Trump does not negotiate in good faith. The Democrats are right not to cut a deal with him; they need a deal with McConnell that can override a Trump veto. As for McConnell, I hear that he is a smart politician, not just the Johnny One Note he appeared to be when Obama was president. Perhaps he calculates that the Republican Party and he, himself, stand the best chance of survival if Trump flames out, or, less likely, if the public turn against the Democrats. The polls hardly blame the Republicans for the shutdown; Trump takes the most blame, with the Democrats next. The Republicans are in a distant third.

  9. Bilikin's observation is that Trump is taking the blame in polls, then Democrats, then Republicans. McConnell can wait out the rising tide of voter rage as long as Trump is the object of that rage.  

    Is McConnell's strategy to let Trump self-destruct to open the way for either impeachment or a primary challenge? Is McConnell hoping that even if the GOP loses the White House, if Trump takes the blame, then the GOP might survive? Does McConnell know what's coming from Mueller and anticipate Trump won't survive? 

  10. Doug: " Does McConnell know what's coming from Mueller and anticipate Trump won't survive? "

    I don't think anyone really knows whats coming from Mueller, he has kept a tight on lid on his investigation, if McTurtle knew it would have leaked by now? McConnell is doing the smart thing from his perspective, lay low let the President and the Democrats take the heat. As with most things in this country or MSM gets this wrong as well, if anyone is to blame besides Trump for the shutdown it is McConnell, he is holding up the CR's in the senate. That is why I think the dems need to make another offer, something that will get some press, offering clean CR's just aint sexy enough, they should throw in some wall $$ with stipulations (no more wall cash until 2020) written into law. Then McConnell will have to react?

  11. Doug, you inspire much thought. I think it much wiser to look at the one who holds the key power. Mitch has a very large share of it if not the most. He has a problem though, as the hate (state) or hate-state media is controlled by Trump. It was Trump and the hate-state media which backed out of the wall deal. Trump said unequivocally that he would take the blame. This was on camera and cannot be denied. As Krugman pointed out in his column today he lied. Since Trump has been trying to play the fix the blame game. The HS media is doing it's best to back him up.

    Some big players control the message of the hate-state or HS media one must conclude. Most of the big performers get a message, the same message, and stay on message as directed. The conservative wing of the Republican Party nurtured this business and their performers as they did those of Faux Christianity business. Trump hijacked this cabal when he hijacked the party probably with the aid of the Russians. If Mitch cannot get the HS media back under party control, he will get knifed in the back over and over again. He knows this for sure. So I speculate he is on a mission to CYA with an emphasis on cover for his own ass. Meanwhile they've got old Vapors out playing the court jester charade buying some time.

    Anyhow, enough of my speculation. Krugman entitled his piece Donald Trump and his Team of Morons. This is a good sign cover might be in order. Bill B. from Michigan made this comment to Krugman's column which suggests the same:

    What are the core values of the Republican party? Really? 

    Show me. Show me a Republican party in the past 70 years that actually made government smaller, less intrusive, less costly.  Show me a Republican party that clearly cared more about the interests of small-middle income people over the rich and the powerful.  Show me a Republican party that didn't make war at any contrived provocation. 

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