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Member since: Fri May 8, 2009, 12:59 AM
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Trump's FBI comments to Russians were aimed at cooperation -McMaster

Source: MSN/Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump raised the firing of his FBI director in a meeting with Russia's foreign minister to explain why he had been unable to find areas of cooperation with Moscow, the White House national security adviser said on Sunday.

"The gist of the conversation was that the president feels as if he is hamstrung in his ability to work with Russia to find areas of cooperation because this has been obviously so much in the news," H.R. McMaster said in an interview on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

Reports that Trump boasted to Russian officials of firing former FBI director James Comey to relieve "great pressure" from a law-enforcement probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election engulfed his administration in turmoil just as Trump left for his first foreign trip as president on Friday.

"I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job," Trump said during a May 10 meeting with Russian officials, according to a report by The New York Times that cited a document summarizing the meeting and an unnamed U.S. official.

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trumps-fbi-comments-to-russians-were-aimed-at-cooperation-mcmaster/ar-BBBlUiy

They are all over the map. First, they deny the comments were made. Then, when it becomes clear that there was a transcript, they claim Trump was making the comments to build "cooperation."

Trumps On The Verge Of Exploding The Health Insurance Market

Source: Huffington Post

President Donald Trump has had his finger on the detonator of the bomb to blow up Obamacare for months. Now he may be about to press it.

Trump told advisers earlier this week that he wants to cut off billions of dollars in payments to health insurance companies that serve the poorest enrollees in the Affordable Care Act exchanges, Politico reported Friday.

If Trump follows through on this threat, he could wreak havoc on the health insurance system. Insurance companies are likely to hike premiums or to stop selling to people who buy coverage via the exchanges, like HealthCare.gov and Covered California, or directly (rather than obtaining coverage through their employers or government programs like Medicare and Medicaid).

The results would be higher prices and fewer, if any, choices for consumers, and the effects could be felt quickly because many states would allow insurers to drop their customers right away in the absence of these payments. In short, this part of the health insurance market could fall apart under Trump’s watch if he doesn’t pay the money the federal government owes.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-blow-up-health-insurance-market_us_591f541be4b034684b0c6212?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Trump is betting that if enough people are deprived of their healthcare, the American people will blame Democrats for not supporting the Republican health plan.


Trump, Shouting ‘Death Spiral,’ Has Nudged Affordable Care Act Downward

WASHINGTON — When Aetna, the health insurance giant, announced this month that it was pulling out of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchange in Virginia in 2018, President Trump responded on Twitter: “Death spiral!”

When Humana announced plans to leave all the health law’s marketplaces next year, the president chimed in, “Obamacare continues to fail.”

Left unremarked on was a big reason for the instability: The Trump administration and Congress are rattling the markets.

The administration’s refusal to guarantee payment of subsidies to health insurance companies, the murky outlook for the Affordable Care Act in Congress and doubts about enforcement of the mandate for most people to have insurance are driving up insurance prices for 2018, insurers say in rate requests filed with state officials.

BBC - Is Mike Pence distancing himself from Trump?

The interesting question is whether Pence was merely complicit in Trump's cover-up or was Pence was actively trying to egg-on Trump to push him over the edge so that he could grab the Presidency.


In the White House game of thrones, where senior administration officials fend off adversaries at every turn while vying for power and prominence, Mike Pence has been a relatively quiet player.

The vice-president is always in the background, often looking over Donald Trump's shoulder with an approving nod as the president delivers a speech or signs yet another executive order. When it comes to engaging in the bare-knuckle brawling that has played itself out through anonymous sources and well-timed insider leaks, however, the vice-president and his associates have largely stayed out of the fray.

Thursday night, then, was quite unusual. Two major US media outlets - CNN and NBC News - ran articles, complete with quotes from anonymous White House sources, distancing the vice-president from the current chaos in the administration and the running controversy over possible Trump campaign ties to the Russian government during the 2016 US presidential election.

"We certainly knew we needed to be prepared for the unconventional," an unnamed Pence aide told CNN's Elizabeth Landers, but "not to this extent". The proximate cause for the concern among the vice-president's camp was a New York Times article earlier this week reporting that Michael Flynn, Mr Trump's prominent campaign surrogate and short-lived national security adviser, had in early January informed the presidential transition team - then headed by Mr Pence - that he was under investigation for his ties to the Turkish government.

Vox - Leaks are the only effective way to get anyones attention in the Trump administration

Good explanation of why leaks are rampant in the Trump administration. It is because Trump is Trump and he hates to pay attention, hates bad news, and loves to shoot the messenger.


Imagine you’re a somewhat senior government official — one who doesn’t get a lot of face time with the president, but who has access to pretty important information — and you need to send a message to President Donald Trump.

You can try to write him a memo, or get the message into a briefing paper his staff is preparing. But the staff is trying to squeeze a ton of information into the incredibly narrow aperture of “what the president is actually going to read.”

Your message had better be less than a page (ideally a lot less, so that it can fit on a page with all the other messages all the other officials like you are trying to send). It had better include a visual aid — a map is good.

* * *

Or you can go the easier route: you can just leak the information to someone so that it ends up on Fox & Friends.

Bloomberg - Washington Loves General McMaster, But Trump Doesn't

I guess Trump's leaks to Russia interrupted Bannon's efforts to marginalize and fire McMaster who now has the job of damage control for Trump.


But inside the White House, the McMaster pick has not gone over well with the one man who matters most. White House officials tell me Trump himself has clashed with McMaster in front of his staff.

On policy, the faction of the White House loyal to senior strategist Steve Bannon is convinced McMaster is trying to trick the president into the kind of nation building that Trump campaigned against. Meanwhile the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, is blocking McMaster on a key appointment.

McMaster's allies and adversaries inside the White House tell me that Trump is disillusioned with him. This professional military officer has failed to read the president -- by not giving him a chance to ask questions during briefings, at times even lecturing Trump.

* * *

Other White House officials however tell me this is not the sentiment the president has expressed recently in private. Trump was livid, according to three White House officials, after reading in the Wall Street Journal that McMaster had called his South Korean counterpart to assure him that the president's threat to make that country pay for a new missile defense system was not official policy. These officials say Trump screamed at McMaster on a phone call, accusing him of undercutting efforts to get South Korea to pay its fair share.

Lying to Congress? "Jeff Sessions used campaign funds, not Senate account, when meeting Russian"

Speaking of lying to Congress, I guess we should expect Trump to fire Jeff Sessions soon, too? After all, Comey was imprecise about the number of emails while Sessions lied about meeting with the Russian ambassador, then lied again about it being done in his capacity as a Senator, rather than on campaign business.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions says that he did not lie under oath when he volunteered at his Senate confirmation hearing that he had "been called a surrogate a a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians," because during the two or more meetings he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak while he was the chairman of then-candidate Donald Trump's National Security Advisory Committee, he was acting in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, not as a Trump campaign official. During the first of the two meetings Sessions recalls, however, he was using campaign funds for his travel, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Sessions met Kislyak at a Heritage Foundation event during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and campaign finance records show that he paid for his lodging with funds from his re-election campaign, suggesting he was not in Cleveland on official Senate business. Also, a person at the event tells the Journal that Sessions and Kislyak discussed the Trump campaign at the event, specifically Trump's trade policy, and that Sessions gave the impression he was there as a Trump campaign official.

Sessions spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told WSJ she couldn't comment on his convention expenses and that aides with Sessions at the Cleveland event don't recall him discussing the election with Kislyak, though they couldn't be sure because of the noise level in the room. In a written answer to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in January, Sessions said he had not "been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day."

Larry Nobel, the general counsel at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said he's not surprised Sessions used campaign funds to attend the convention since, as a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, it would have been hard to justify using Senate funds for a political trip. "If he was truly there solely as a member of the Armed Services Committee, then he could've used his legislative account," he said. There is no record that the Trump campaign reimbursed Sessions for his travel expenses, the Journal says. Sessions said he'll recuse himself from any investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, but rejected calls that he resign. Peter Weber.

Hospital Where Jimmy Kimmel's Son Had Open-Heart Surgery Sees Spike in Donations

Source: MSN/Time

Children's Hospital Los Angeles has seen a bump in donations after late night star Jimmy Kimmel shared an emotional tribute to the facility where his newborn son Billy successfully underwent open-heart surgery.

"I hope you never have to go there," the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host said, getting choked up on Monday night while talking about CHLA in a monologue that has been viewed millions of times online. "But if you do, you'll see so many kids from so many financial backgrounds, being cared for so well and with so much compassion."

Hospital president and CEO Paul Viviano said CHLA has seen a higher-than-normal number of donations since Kimmel's monologue. They've also received supportive calls from old patients, according to Viviano.

"We have had several hundred calls to the hospital, our heart institute, from former patients thanking us for care and from donors inspired by Jimmy's message," he said.

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/hospital-where-jimmy-kimmels-son-had-open-heart-surgery-sees-spike-in-donations/ar-BBAKJm5?li=BBnb7Kz

NYT Editorial - President Trumps Laughable Plan to Cut His Own Taxes

Some sober analysis of a tax plan that you will rarely see on network or cable news.


As a rule, Republican presidents like offering tax cuts, and President Trump is no different. But the skimpy one-page tax proposal his administration released on Wednesday is, by any historical standard, a laughable stunt by a gang of plutocrats looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the country’s future.

Two of Mr. Trump’s top lieutenants — Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, both multimillionaires and former Goldman Sachs bankers — trotted out a plan that would slash taxes for businesses and wealthy families, including Mr. Trump’s, in the vague hope of propelling economic growth. So as to not seem completely venal, they served up a few goodies for the average wage-earning family, among them fewer and lower tax brackets and a higher standard deduction.

The proposal was so empty of illustrative detail that few people could even begin to calculate its impact on their pocketbooks. Further, depending on where they live, some middle-class families might not benefit much or at all, because the plan does away with important deductions like those for state and local taxes.

* * *

Mr. Trump’s plan aims to cut corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 15 percent. To hear the administration tell it, the present rate is choking investment and killing jobs. In fact, big businesses are earning record profits, and many of them pay no federal taxes. The corporate income tax brought in just 10.6 percent of the federal government’s revenue in 2015, down from between a quarter and a third of revenue in the 1950s, according to the Pew Research Center. A better approach, as part of broad-based reform, would be to eliminate loopholes that have encouraged businesses to avoid their fair share of taxes.

Trump team did background check on Flynn, knew of Turkey ties

Source: The Hill

The White House and President Trump's transition team reportedly did a background check on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in addition to his already approved security clearance, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported Friday evening.

"NBC News has learned from sources close to the Trump-Russia investigation that both the Trump transition and the White House did do a background check on Flynn," Maddow said on her program, citing reporting from NBC's Andrea Mitchell.

"This is in addition to his already approved security clearance. They did a background check on Flynn specifically for him to become national security adviser."

* * *
Maddow said Friday that NBC reporting showed that "the vetting of Flynn was done and sources close to the investigation tell NBC that it was done 'very casually.'" "One person involved tells NBC that the Trump transition was aware of Flynn's business ties to Turkey," she said.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/331191-trump-team-did-do-a-background-check-of-flynn-new-about-ties-to

A New Third Way/No Labels Movement - A Coalition Between Progressives and the Alt-Right?

On the left, you have Justice Democrats, Glenn Greenwald, the Young Turks, the Sane Progressive, Jill Stein and Ed Schultz. On the right, you have Breitbart, Michael Flynn, Donald Trump and Alex Jones. What do they have in common?

* A desire for better relations with Russia.
* A belief that U.S. elections are not legitimate and are rigged.
* Attacks on trade agreements as victimizing the U.S. economy.
* A resentment of "establishment" Democrats and Republicans who are only seeking to promote the interests of global elites.
* A belief in a conspiracy by a shadowy deep state that is working to promote the interests of global elites and seeking to promote a cold war with Russia.

The Alt-Right and Justice Democrats, for example, rail against the global financial powers and the corporate establishment. For example, sounding like a Justice Democrat, Trump repeatedly attacked Hillary Clinton of working for the "global elite" and bankers:


Donald J. Trump on Thursday accused Hillary Clinton of guiding a “global power structure” that has rigged the economy against the working class, language that some suggested echoed anti-Semitic themes.

Mr. Trump made the accusation in a speech in West Palm Beach, Fla., in which he also defended himself against several accusations of sexual harassment, published by The New York Times and others.

Early in the speech, he said that a global elite had “stripped” the United States of its wealth in order to line the pockets of corporate and political interests. “The Clinton machine is at the center of this power structure,” he said.

“We’ve seen this firsthand in the WikiLeaks documents in which Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors,” he said, referring to the group that has, most recently, published thousands of hacked emails from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Indeed, the Alt-Right and Progressives sometimes share the same talking points as explained by Samantha Bee in her segment on the Deep State.

Even on issues where the left and right clearly disagree such as issues of race or sexism, you will have both the far left and alt-right agreeing that such issues are just identity politics that should be ignored in favor of an inward looking economic populism that promotes a U.S. withdrawal from international engagement.

My prediction is that as we approach the 2018 elections we will once again see the rise of both the Alt-Right and the Justice Democrats attacking "establishment" Democrats and Republicans as being essentially the same. Indeed, I have no doubt that on both the left and right, you will see a dramatic increase in online activity by folks pushing this alt-right/progressive view that largely overlaps on the issues referenced above.
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