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The Left Column


No White House Leaks Like This ... Until Now

(TPM) We now have a story from The Washington Post to match yesterday's from The Times. They are each a classic type for a major newspaper. Throw your biggest reportorial names at the story, talk to every one and put together an over-arching from-the-inside narrative. They are each fascinating, occasionally comic and in some ways horrifying reads. But there is an underlying, not-made-explicit message to both which is perhaps the most important. We are three days into the administration and the Trump White House leaks not so much like a sieve as a bucket with no bottom.

The Trump White House not only leaks like crazy. It casually leaks the most intimate and humiliating details about the President - hurt feelings, ego injury, childlike behavior, self-destructive rages over tweets, media failure to credit his own grandiosity. We have simply never seen this level of leaking, with this little respect for the President's dignity or reputation, this early.


Must-Read from Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg: "Why Trump's Staff Is Lying"

(Bloomberg) One of the most striking features of the early Trump administration has been its political uses of lying. The big weekend story was the obviously false claim of Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, that Trump pulled in the largest inauguration crowds in American history. This raises the question of why a leader might find it advantageous to promote such lies from his subordinates.

First and most obviously, the leader wishes to mislead the public, and wants to have subordinates doing so, in part because many citizens won’t pursue fact-checking. But that’s the obvious explanation, and the truth runs much deeper.


Without evidence, Trump tells lawmakers 3-5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote

(Washington Post) Days after being sworn in, President Trump insisted to congressional leaders invited to a reception at the White House that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for millions of illegal votes, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, even while he clinched the presidency with an electoral college victory.

Two people familiar with the meeting said Trump spent about 10 minutes at the top of the gathering with Republican and Democratic lawmakers rehashing the campaign. Trump also told them that between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote.


U.S. judge finds that Aetna misled the public about its reasons for quitting Obamacare

Aetna claimed this summer that it was pulling out of all but four of the 15 states where it was providing Obamacare individual insurance because of a business decision — it was simply losing too much money on the Obamacare exchanges.

Now a federal judge has ruled that that was a rank falsehood. In fact, says Judge John D. Bates, Aetna made its decision at least partially in response to a federal antitrust lawsuit blocking its proposed $37-billion merger with Humana. Aetna threatened federal officials with the pullout before the lawsuit was filed, and followed through on its threat once it was filed. Bates made the observations in the course of a ruling he issued Monday blocking the merger.


Democrats To GSA: Trump Is Now In Violation Of His DC Hotel Lease

(TPM) The General Services Administration, which manages the Old Post Office building in which his Trump International Hotel is housed, until now declined to take a position on whether Trump was violating a clause preventing elected officials from benefiting from the contract. Now that he has been sworn in and has formally announced that he will not divest ownership interest in the Trump Organization, House and Senate Democrats want answers.

In twin letters to GSA Acting Administrator Timothy Horne, House and Senate Democrats asked what steps the agency was taking to address this apparent breach of contract.

“The violation of the terms of the lease is no longer hypothetical, as President Trump will soon oversee GSA and appoint a new GSA administrator, effectively making him simultaneously landlord and tenant of the Old Post Office building,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) wrote.


Sources say Trump's CIA visit made relations with intel community worse

(CBS News) U.S. government sources tell CBS News that there is a sense of unease in the intelligence community after President Trump’s visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday.

An official said the visit “made relations with the intelligence community worse” and described the visit as “uncomfortable.”

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