Saturday, May 27, 2017

Squirrel-Hair comes home to a hot mess

DJT's first official world-stage tour as president was on balance successful. Lots of things happened at each stop - the bizarre glowing globe in Saudi Arabia, the visit to the Western Wall in Israel, the revelation that Melania is a practicing Catholic - but the two important takeaways are

  • the notice served to Iran that the era of patty-cake is over, and 
  • the notice served to Europe that the US understands that the Paris climate accord is a lot of hooey and that the US will be finding the most diplomatic way possible to bow out of complying with it
But the roiling swirl of controversies at home did not abate in the Big Guy's absence.

It's important to remember that no one that the FBI is either formally investigating or merely looking at has been charged with anything criminal, but Jared Kushner is a "person of interest" due to the meetings he had with Russian officials and business executives.

The F.B.I.’s interest in Kushner appears to be related to the two known meetings that he had with Russian officials. The first, which was originally reported by The New Yorker, occurred in early December, at Trump Tower, when Kushner and Michael Flynn, then the incoming national-security adviser, met with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador to the United States. On Friday evening, the Washington Post added dramatic new details about what occurred at this meeting, which it said took place on December 1st or 2nd. Kushner and Kislyak, according to the Post’s sources, “discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring.” Kushner then met with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank, a Russian bank, later that month, reportedly at Kislyak’s request. The bank is the subject of U.S. sanctions that were placed on Russia in 2014, after its invasion of Ukraine. Perhaps more concerning, Gorkov is also a graduate of Russia’s Academy of the Federal Security Service, which trains the country’s spies. The meetings may have been entirely innocent. It’s not uncommon for an incoming White House adviser to meet with foreign officials. But the meetings seemed even more curious when it was reported that Kushner failed to disclose them on a standard security form, known as a SF-86, that all White House officials must fill out and sign.

Then there is the consideration afoot to put a damper on S-H's favorite way of shooting off his mouth:

The White House is considering whether to appoint a legal team to police President Trump’s tweets, it was revealed on Friday.
The administration could have lawyers scrutinize Trump infamous social media posts as numerous investigations have been launched into White House officials, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The lawyer’s goal would be to avoid potential pitfalls from the president’s verbose volleys on Twitter.
Trump, a prolific tweeter, has caused controversy during his time in office after issuing unverified claims about President Obama wiretapping the Trump Tower and attacks on former FBI director James Comey.
The tweet review comes as the White House expands its legal team to deal with ongoing investigations into whether Trump officials colluded with Russia to interfere in the presidential election.
It's dismaying, to be sure, especially because a number of really good folks in Congress would like to act on important policy initiatives, starting with turning the Mulvaney budget proposal into something consistently conservative and fiscally sound, but can't rely on much help from a White House hobbled by shady shenanigans.

To what extent do you find comfort in the fact that at least our current juncture is slightly less terrible than it would have been four months into a Madame BleachBit administration?

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