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Monday, February 27, 2017

GOP is the PR department for The Trump Presidency Inc

by digby

People who think the government should be run like a business naturally believe that everyone answers to the president like he's the CEO of America. That isn't actually how it works:
White House press secretary Sean Spicer reportedly enlisted the CIA director and a Republican senator in an effort to discredit a newspaper report about the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia.

After the New York Times reported Feb. 15 that Trump campaign aides had “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence officials, Spicer connected reporters from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC), reported Axios.

Spicer also gave reporters’ phone numbers to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who offered to make the calls himself but “was in and out of an event,” according to a senior administration official who described the press secretary’s campaign to the website.

The Axios report adds new details and reveals Pompeo was involved in a pushback campaign reported Friday by the Washington Post.

Spicer personally picked up the phone and connected Pompeo and Burr with the reporters and then remained on the line for their brief conversations, Axios reported.

Those calls were orchestrated after White House chief of staff Reince Priebus tried unsuccessfully to get the FBI’s director and deputy director to speak with news organizations to dispute the accuracy of reporting on the alleged campaign ties to Russia, the Post reported.

Pompeo and Burr told the reporters simply that the Times report was not accurate but frustrated the journalists by declining to offer specifics.

And the Republicans in congress and the administration are happy to toss aside all the normal procedures and sell their reputations to protect that cretinous imbecile. Here's one now:
President Donald Trump’s connections to Russia have been well documented, but it doesn’t sound like Rep. Devin Nunes — the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a Republican — is that eager to investigate them.

During a press conference with reporters on Monday, Rep. Nunes downplayed claims that the White House had asked members of the CIA and FBI to squelch reports of contact between Russia and members of Trump’s presidential campaign, saying that there was “nothing wrong” with what he characterized as attempts to have a better working relationship with the press. He also said that the committee wanted evidence of any American citizens who may have talked to Russian officials, implicitly broadening the issue beyond the Trump campaign and administration. He characterized the FBI as being “very upfront” with his committee about what they know about Trump’s potential connections with Russia, although he admitted that he’d like to know more.

When asked if they have any evidence of contacts specifically from the Trump campaign, Nunes replied: “It’s been looked into and there’s no evidence of anything there. Obviously we’d like to know if there is.” He also dismissed concerns that Flynn had violated the Logan Act as “ridiculous” and said that they would not subpoena Trump’s tax returns, which puts him at odds with Senate Intelligence Committee member Susan Collins, R-Maine. Throughout the press conference, Nunes insisted that both he and the White House were simply trying to be “transparent” and claimed to be confused as to why the Trump administration providing his phone number to a reporter would be a news story. He also repeated his earlier statements about wanting to avoid “McCarthyism” and “witch hunts” based on reports that Americans may have connections to the Russian regime.

“This is almost like McCarthyism revisited,” Nunes told reporters at the California Republican Party’s spring convention on Saturday. “We’re going to go on a witch hunt against, against innocent Americans?”

I don't think I need to articulate how inane this is. Trump has a responsibility to be transparent about his business dealings from which he continues to benefit directly. It's not a witch hunt to demand he do that.

Neither is it a witch hunt for the head of the Intelligence Committee to keep an open mind about the Russian connections at this early stage. It may turn out to be nothing but there is a process and he's supposed to recognize it. It's one thing for him to criticize the leaks. That's a legitimate complaint. It's not legitimate for him to exonerate the administration and the campaign before the facts are in.

But then, he should not be involved in the investigation in the first place because he was a member of the president's transition team. At the very least he should be strictly following protocol in order to avoid the appearance of being a partisan stooge as the head of the Intelligence Committee. But I guess that's old fashioned in the Trump era. A Republican's job is to defend The Trump Presidency Inc ™ and that's what he's going to do.