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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

"more than enough proof exists for the House to impeach" 

by tristero

No kidding, but it's important to have the Washington Post say so, and so clearly:
...it is our view that more than enough proof exists for the House to impeach Mr. Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, based on his own actions and the testimony of the 17 present and former administration officials who courageously appeared before the House Intelligence Committee...
We take no pleasure in recommending the president’s impeachment and are aware of the considerable costs and risks: further dividing and inflaming our politics; turning impeachment into one more tool of partisan warfare; perhaps giving Mr. Trump unwarranted aid in his reelection effort. But the House must make its decision based on the facts and merits, setting aside unpredictable second-order effects.

That is particularly true because, unlike any previous president, Mr. Trump has refused all cooperation with the congressional inquiry. He has prevented the testimony of a dozen present or former senior officials and the release of documents by the White House, the Office of Management and Budget and three Cabinet departments. 
The House Intelligence Committee’s report rightly warns that “this unprecedented campaign of obstruction” poses a serious threat to U.S. democracy. “The damage to our system of checks and balances . . . will be long-lasting and potentially irrevocable if the President’s ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked.” 
Congress prepared an article of impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon for a less comprehensive refusal to cooperate. Mr. Trump’s actions demand that Congress again act to protect a foundation of U.S. democracy.
I too take no pleasure that, as with Nixon, the United States has a criminal for president (and who has turned so many members of his administration into his criminal accomplices). However, I am unapologetically glad and relieved that Trump will be held accountable for at least a portion of the many, many crimes he has committed while in office.

Personally, I wish he was also being impeached for the cagings, for the denial of healthcare to sick children, for the pardons of Arpaio and the war criminals, and for the obstruction/coverup of the Russia investigation — all of which clearly rise to the level of impeachable offenses.

To Republican enablers of Trump in Congress who still, somewhere, have something resembling an ember of decency left:

If you think this is the worst Trump has done (or will do) and that the rest of it won't come out, you are sorely mistaken.

He will take you down with him. So get out now. Vote to impeach.
Will the Senate muster the cojones to deny Trump his show trial?

by digby

 I don't know how this will come out, but I wrote about the underlying tactic for Salon yesterday. I talk about how these disinformation campaigns work and how having to publicly rebut them actually makes them gain currency. It's a very difficult problem.

CNN reports on the current state of play:

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are both looking ahead to the Senate impeachment trial, but there is a growing divide between the two over what that trial should look like, CNN has learned.

In conversations with the White House, the Kentucky Republican has made clear he hopes to end the trial as soon as he can, an effort to both get impeachment off his lap and protect his conference from potentially damaging votes should the process break out into partisan warfare. That will include a continuous whip count until McConnell feels he has the votes to acquit the President and end the show. He has even floated a 10-day minimum during these talks, one person said.

But the show is exactly what Trump wants. He's made clear to advisers privately that rather than end the trial as quickly as possible, he is hoping for a dramatic event, according to two people familiar with his thinking. He wants Hunter Biden, Rep. Adam Schiff and the whistleblower to testify. He wants the witnesses to be live, not clips of taped depositions. And he's hoping to turn it into a spectacle, which he thinks is his best chance to hurt Democrats in the election.

Democrats introduce two articles of impeachment against Trump
People close to the President say this is because he has been sitting back and watching as current and former aides testified for hours before lawmakers about his behavior that they described as inappropriate, problematic and potentially dangerous.

Infuriated, Trump has been told he will have his day to defend himself soon, one person said.
Both the White House and McConnell's office declined to comment.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, McConnell said he did not foresee the Senate taking up the impeachment matter before the holidays -- meaning the trial is likely to begin early next year.
He said a decision on hearing from witnesses live, as opposed to on taped depositions, would come after hearing the opening argument in the matter.

Any difference of strategic opinion is as much a reflection of the fluid nature on what a Senate trial will entail, multiple people involved said. McConnell himself has repeatedly said publicly that at this point, there simply isn't an answer as to the length, structure or potential witnesses until the House moves further along with its articles of impeachment. For the moment, these people say, ideas or specific positions on how a trial should go are just that: ideas and opinions. The final form will likely be dictated by where McConnell's 53-member conference stands on the issue in the weeks ahead.

McConnell is also planning to meet with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer at some point soon to see if a bipartisan resolution laying out the rules of the road -- akin to what was agreed to during President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial -- is possible. Such a resolution might address many of the elements that remain clear unknowns at the moment.

But Trump's position is the opposite of what some Republican senators, including some of Trump's closest allies on the Capitol Hill, are advising at this point. In closed-door meetings and phone calls over the course of the last month, several Republican senators have warned Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, not to "turn the Senate into a circus," according to one Republican senator. A source familiar with the matter said there was no daylight between Trump and Cipollone on the trial.

Instead, there has been a concerted push to allow both sides -- the House Democratic managers and the White House defense team -- to present their case, then quickly move to a vote to end the proceedings. It would give enough time for moderate Republicans to see it as a fulsome and fair process, while shielding the conference from divisive votes on potential witnesses, one person involved with internal GOP discussions said.

After House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against Trump on Tuesday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the move "does not hurt the President, it hurts the American people, who expect their elected officials to work on their behalf to strengthen our Nation." 
"The President will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong," Grisham added.

While it was initially unclear if that meant Trump himself wanted to testify, a White House source familiar said the line was intended to convey that the President's case will be made through his lawyers. This person said there aren't plans as of now for Trump to play a direct role.

Well that's a relief. It would certainly be unfaaaair for anyone but Hunter Biden, Joe Biden and (probably) Hillary Clinton and Christopher Steele to appear sincethis whole thing is about how they conspired with Ukraine to frame Russia and Donald Trump.


The Inspector General's Report is clear: the FBI had an authorized purpose to open its investigation

by digby

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that
"[T'he FBI had an authorized purpose when it opened Crossfire Hurricane --- the investigation into the Trump campaign -- to obtain information about, or protect against, a national security threat or federal crime.  We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions ..."
That report is the result of an 18 month investigation, with over 170 interviews and reviews of a million pages of documents. It was thorough.

Here's former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe months ago spelling out what they saw and why they did it:

<iframe src="https://www.cbsnews.com/video/andrew-mccabe-tells-60-minutes-why-he-opened-investigations-involving-trump/" id="cbsNewsVideo" allowfullscreen allow="fullscreen" frameborder="0" width="620" height="349"></iframe>

"I'm saying that the FBI had reason to investigate that."

Of course they did.  Along with the chatter from Papadopoulos and elsewhere about the Russians planning to sabotage Clinton's campaign, they had been investigating Paul Manafort for months on his illegal pro-Russia Ukraine business dealings when Trump suddenly up and hired him to be his campaign manager! If they hadn't been suspicious they would have been derelict in their duties.

And remember, they were concurrently investigating Clinton for "her emails" AND for the Uranium One nonsense, which was "predicated" on the right wing political hit job called "Clinton Cash" by Steve Bannon's partner. So this ridiculous hand-wringing by Barr over "investigating political actors" sure does seem to only go one way.

But there are few people sitting in jail who were involved in all this and a whole bunch of indictments of Russians who did exactly what the FBI and the Intelligence Community suspected them of doing. Because of Trump's obstruction of justice as president all they could do was prove that the campaign had "welcomed" the Russian help, which should be impeachable all by itself.

And yes the Carter Page FISA process was deeply flawed, coming as no surprise to people who actually follow these issues and know how that happens, but it was not central to the case, had nothing to do with why they opened the investigation, took place after Page had left the Trump campaign (due to his ties to Russia. The weaknesses in tht system need to be fixed --- and have needed to be fixed for a long time, although until now the Republicans were opposed nearly across the board. I hope they all see the need to give some money to the ACLU not that they are born again civil libertarians.

If only it were bipartisan!

by digby

This piece by Alexandra Petri in the Washington Post just nails it:
You bet I would love to support impeachment! Nothing would delight me more — if it were just bipartisan, which unfortunately it’s not, because I have vowed to oppose it at all costs. This is sure an unfortunate coincidence. I keep asking: Why isn’t there bipartisan support for this? I could support it, if only I were not against it — which I am, vehemently, and will hear no reason to change my mind. A most ingenious paradox!

If only these proceedings had my support, I would support them, but they don’t, and there we are. If only this were not a witch hunt (I declared it a witch hunt from the outset), I would consider it legitimate. There is, clearly, such a thing as a legitimate procedure: It is one that I do not oppose.

I should maybe mention now that I would oppose any impeachment procedure against this president, on the grounds that (a) people voted for him, and I do not wish to disrespect them, which impeaching him would do, and (b) previously people described him as “highly impeachable” and “the kind of guy who just screams ‘impeach me,’” and they uttered phrases such as “Impeach the [expletive]” and so now that they are impeaching him, de facto, or perhaps ipso facto, it cannot be fair! People are not allowed to be right about how someone’s presidency will turn out. If, in the end, he did commit technically a high crime or misdemeanor, it is really their fault, for not believing in him, and I am not going to reward their bad behavior.

We must consider the facts. Alas, the facts are in dispute, coincidentally again by me. So, there we are. Who can say what’s true? I understand you to be saying that a certain set of things are demonstrably true, but to that I say, “What if they weren’t? Also, think about President Andrew Johnson."

Such a shame! I’m so saddened by this. Because I really, I truly want to give impeachment a fair shake, you know. I would! I just wish this process had support from both sides, as the wolf said when the sheep suggested “not eating the sheep” as a plan. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of thing on which we are going to agree.

It is your fault that this impeachment process is not bipartisan, and you ought to feel bad. If I had not vowed that this process was illegitimate and I would oppose it, I would consider it legitimate, and support it. It is your fault that I won’t, for starting this process, instead of waiting for me to start it.

Which I would have! If the president were a Democrat.
So, so right. 


Who was prepared to start impeachment proceedings right after the election?

by digby

As you listen to the Republicans clutch their pearls and rend their garments over the fact that some Democrats wanted to impeach Trump since the early days of his presidency over the Russian collusion, think about this:

November 3, 2016 NYT editorial, five days before the election:
Rudy Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump’s most zealous acolytes, echoed this cry to carry the battle forward into a Clinton administration. “I guarantee you in one year she’ll be impeached and indicted,” Mr. Giuliani promised Iowa voters this week. “It’s just going to happen. We’re going to sort of vote for a Watergate.”

Trump, of course, was making the same argument. After Comey made his inane decision to re-open the emails case, Trump started saying every day on the trail that voting for Clinton would mean that we would have a constitutional crisis because she would be under investigation.

And they were right. She would have been. Indeed, they wanted to continue it even after she lost. And Trump still wants to "lock her up!"

Why is Barr doing this? To ensure the authorities don't try to stop the 2020 interference

by digby

I'll just leave this here for now. Let's just be clear, though. The only reason Barr is going to such lengths is to allow Donald Trump to cheat again without fear of anyone trying to stop him. If you see the full interview, you will see that he pulls a full Sergeant Schultz over Ukraine, acting like he hasn't even thought about it and doesn't see any problem with it. He is ensuring that no one with any government investigative tools will look into anything Trump is doing. I suspect he will not have the same issue with anyone looking into his opponents. He certainly seems to be fine with a foreign government doing so at the president's behest, under threat of losing US support:

Aaaaand: The Russian government agrees:
Here's the article from NBC. You can see more of the interview there. It's utterly mind-blowing. Barr is something else:

Attorney General William Barr said he still believes the FBI may have operated out of "bad faith" when it investigated whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, and he contends the FBI acted improperly by continuing the investigation after Donald Trump took office. 
In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Barr essentially dismissed the findings of the Justice Department's inspector general that there was no evidence of political bias in the launching of the Russia probe, saying that his hand-picked prosecutor, John Durham, will have the last word on the matter.
"I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by a completely irresponsible press," Barr said. "I think there were gross abuses …and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI." 
"I think that leaves open the possibility that there was bad faith." 
Barr's blistering criticism of the FBI's conduct in the Russia investigation, which went well beyond the errors outlined in the inspector general report, is bound to stoke further controversy about whether the attorney general is acting in good faith, or as a political hatchet man for Trump. 
Inspector General Michael Horowitz, after reviewing a million documents and interviewing 100 people, concluded that he "did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open" the investigations into Trump campaign aides. 
But Barr argued that Horowitz didn't look very hard, and that the inspector general accepted the FBI's explanations at face value. 
"All he said was, people gave me an explanation and I didn't find anything to contradict it … he hasn't decided the issue of improper motive," Barr said. "I think we have to wait until the full investigation is done." 
Barr said he stood by his assertion that the Trump campaign was spied on, noting that the FBI used confidential informants who recorded conversations with Trump campaign officials. 
"It was clearly spied upon," he said. "That's what electronic surveillance is … going through people's emails, wiring people up." 
Barr portrayed the Russia investigation as a bogus endeavor that was foisted on Trump, rather than something undertaken by career civil servants who were concerned about whether a foreign power had compromised a political campaign. 
"From a civil liberties standpoint, the greatest danger to our free system is that the incumbent government use the apparatus of the state … both to spy on political opponents but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of an election," Barr said. He added that this was the first time in history that "counterintelligence techniques," were used against a presidential campaign. 
Barr said that presidential campaigns are frequently in contact with foreigners, contradicting the comments of numerous political professionals who have said for two years that there is rarely, if ever, a reason for a presidential campaign to be in touch with Russians. 
Barr added, "There was and never has been any evidence of collusion and yet this campaign and the president’s administration has been dominated by this investigation into what turns out to be completely baseless." 
But the biggest outrage, Barr said, is that the FBI's "case collapsed after the election and they never told the court and they kept on getting these renewals." 
 The inspector general report does not say the FBI's Russia case collapsed after the election. It does say that the FBI interviewed some of the sources for the dossier written by a British operative, who raised questions about his reporting. But by then, the investigation had moved well beyond anything in the dossier.
I will have a lot more on this later.

They get the job done

by digby

By the way, this article about how two housekeepers took on the president — and revealed that his company employed undocumented immigrants is just fascinating. We even find out what kind of make-up Trump uses to create his complexion's lovely orange hue. These rich people may not see the immigrant servants who clean up after them as human beings, but they are. And they see everything.


All the president's alchemists

by Tom Sullivan

Q: Who said the whistle blower's report got everything wrong?
A: President Trump.

Q: Who claimed the FBI spied on his presidential campaign?
A: President Trump.

Both the House impeachment inquiry and a report issued Monday by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General have debunked those claims.

False claims by this president could fill volumes. Few of those claims are justiciable. Fewer still because he refuses to testify under oath to what he knew and when he knew it.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) appropriated that formulation from the Nixon-Watergate investigation to make a sharp point about just how much we know do about Donald Trump's actions on Ukraine. Swalwell used his five minutes of questioning in the House Judiciary Committee's hearing to ask Democratic counsel Daniel S. Goldman a rapid series of questions with a two-word answer (watch the clip for the full exchange):

“Mr. Goldman, who sent Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to smear Joe Biden?” Swalwell asked. “President Trump,” Goldman replied.

“Who fired the anti-corruption ambassador in Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch?” Swalwell asked. “President Trump,” Goldman replied.

“Who ordered his own chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to withhold critical military assistance for Ukraine?” Swalwell asked. “President Trump,” Goldman replied.

“Who refused to meet with President Zelensky in the Oval Office?” Swalwell asked. “President Trump,” Goldman replied.

“Who personally asked President Zelensky to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden?” Swalwell asked. “President Trump,” Goldman replied.

“Who stood on the White House lawn and confirmed that he wanted Ukraine to investigate Vice President Biden?” Swalwell asked. “President Trump,” Goldman replied.

“As to anything that we do not know in this investigation, who has blocked us from knowing it?” asked Swalwell. “President Trump and the White House,” Goldman said.

“So as it relates to President Trump,” Swalwell concluded, “is he an incidental player or a central player in this scheme?”

“President Trump,” Goldman said, “is the central player in this scheme.”

What really ought to be knotting Trump's gut is that his Republican "allies" in Congress offer no defense of his actions. But they complain endlessly about the "unfair" process. They decry the lack of "fact witnesses" to Trump's alleged misdeeds while demanding testimony from Joe and Hunter Biden, who witnessed none of them.

They will respond to the IG report in similar fashion. The IG report clears the FBI of wrongdoing in opening its Russia investigation. Trump's defenders will focus instead on errors made in the process because the central findings are stated so plainly (pg. 410). Opening the Russian counterintelligence investigation "was in compliance with Department and FBI policies, and we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced his decision." Furthermore, "we found no evidence that the FBI attempted to place any CHSs within the Trump campaign, recruit members of the Trump campaign as CHSs, or task CHSs to report on the Trump campaign. [CHS: confidential human source]

None of this will prevent the president and his men from hard-selling "alternative facts," a moniker for the Trump administration presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway coined nearly three years ago. No sooner had the IG report hit the streets than Department of Justice head Attorney General Bill Barr issued a statement disagreeing with the findings of his own department, similar except in timing to his prebuttal of the Mueller report this spring.

Republican members repeatedly complained about Democrats relying so heavily on testimony by European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland. Beside those on the infamous July 25 call, Sondland was the only Trump direct report to testify, they well know, because Trump refuses to allow his subpoenaed subordinates to testify.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and other Trump allies loudly and proudly repeat conspiracy theories and alternative facts as if red-faced repetition will turn lies into truth. Michelle Goldberg last week suggested ranking Republican Rep. Doug Collins's insistence "There are no set facts here" amounts to "epistemological nihilism." But their belief that loudly chanting lies enough times will transform them into truth is also a kind of epistemological alchemy.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires

by tristero

In the first days after 9/11, I emailed other New Yorkers that I was opposed to any invasion of Afghanistan. I said that the last thing any country should do is what their enemy clearly wants them to do. And it was obvious, at least to me, that bin Laden was doing everything possible to provoke Bush to invade Afghanistan? Why? Because bin Laden thought it would spark an Islamist revolution against the US and other Western governments.*

Bush, of course, was too incompetent and bloodthirsty to resist bin Laden's bait. So sure enough, he invaded Afghanistan. This is the result:
All told, the cost of nearly 18 years of war in Afghanistan will amount to more than $2 trillion. Was the money well spent? 
There is little to show for it. 
Could an American president, after 9/11, not invaded Afghanistan? That is, was it politically feasible to do so? In my opinion, yes, but it would have taken a great statesman to make the non-invasion case to the American people.

But assuming an Afghanistan invasion to be inevitable (as stupid as it would be), there were surely ways to avoid the catastrophe Bush, Cheney Rumsfeld, and the rest of that sick crew created. But incompetence was rampant in foreign and military policy under Bush. And here, $2 trillion dollars later, we are.

*By the way, many of the New Yorkers I was in contact with agreed that invading Afghanistan was the height of stupidity back in September 2001. They included people who lived less than 10 blocks from the World Trade Center.
Some more highlights

by digby

I'm sure most of you have better things to do than sit in front of the TV and watch these hearings from start to finish. But before you let the pundits tell you how boring and useless they all were, here are a few highlights. First, the best one of the five minute rounds, in my opinion:

Swalwell: How many times has Trump spoken to Putin? 16. How many times has he met with Zelensky at the WH? Zero. Who is he meeting with tomorrow. Does withholding aid help any country? Goldman: Russia. Swalwell: Who sent Rudy to Ukraine. Who fired anti-corruption Ambassador Yovanovitch. Who refused to meet with Z in oval office? Who ignored NSC anti-corruption talking points? Who personally asked Z to investigate Biden? Goldman: Trump Trump Trump Trump
Now for the comic relief. Mostly the Republicans whined and cried and had temper tantrums. Everything is just so UNFAAAIIIRRRR.

And then there was this gross exchange:

We have to keep our eyes on Barr

by digby

Judging from the reactions by most of the right wing, this piece by Michael Tomasky from this morning, before the Horowitz report dropped, looks pretty prescient:
Will reality stop the Trumpists? It never has. They’ll turn to three (at least!) tried and true methods of the demagogue.

One: They’ll dump on Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Well-known deep-stater, etc etc. Don’t buy it. Last week, the Center for American Progress put out an eye-opening report about Horowitz. Turns out that during the Obama administration, Horowitz issued two reports on Fast & Furious, the “scandal” that was supposed to lead to Obummer’s impeachment, while during the Trump years Horowitz has not launched a single investigation into any allegations of corruption within the Department of Justice.

More, from the report: “Horowitz’s lack of action in this regard is a significant anomaly among his peers. Public records suggest that he is the only inspector general at a major federal agency who has not investigated at least one potential instance of corruption or abuse of power by a Trump appointee. In fact, even a non-exhaustive review of inspector general reports from across the government quickly demonstrates that the majority of Cabinet-level agencies have launched multiple investigations. While some did not lead to findings of wrongdoing, others prompted the resignations of high-level Trump officials.”

You really have to go out of your way to find no corruption in this administration. But this is what Horowitz has done. If he’s a deep stater, he’s a pretty incompetent one.

Two: They’ll try to characterize the findings as bombshells anyway. I obviously don’t know as I write what the findings will be, but it sounds as if they’re likely to be violations of procedure of the type that probably happen a lot of the time, because we live in an imperfect world where investigations are conducted by imperfect people with imperfect information making the best judgments they can. People can make mistakes and still not be guilty of advancing a conspiracy against the president.

Three: They’ll just lie. They’ll dismiss the report as propaganda and keep on saying the same things they’ve been saying. Trump will certainly do that. And as long as he does it, his apologists will do it too.

So the questions now are what will Bill Barr do about all this, and what will the Democrats do about Barr.

While Horowitz and Durham’s less-than-bombshell reports suggest that there are still limits to how far the Justice Department will go to defend Trump, the more that we hear from the attorney general, the more he sounds like an out-and-out fascist.

There was the Notre Dame speech in October, where he denounced liberalism and secularism and warned that “militant secularists” were out to destroy America’s “moral order” with rhetoric that would have fit right in at Nuremberg.
The report was as Tomasky predicted. There were some low level mistakes and some problems with the FISA warrants for Carter Page which had no effect on the ultimate decision to proceed with the investigation.

Barr publicly disagreed with Horowitz's findings. He got his henchman Durham to break the rules and come out and say that he too disagrees with the findings, despite the fact that he hasn't completed his report! thus proving what we all suspected --- that he's in the tank with Barr and Trump. The DOJ is rotting from the inside out.

Trump went with the second choice --- he proclaimed total victory making it sound as if the report was a devastating takedown of the Deep State. Of course.

But as Tomasky points out we have a very, very serious problem with Bob Barr.  He is an authoritarian with Fox News brain rot and I honestly think he has the same megalomania as his boss.


They keep making the mistake of comparing Trump's crimes to Clinton

by digby

Yeah, no kidding.

 GOP Counsel Castor repeatedly went back to the Clinton impeachment which I think is a very weird thing for them to do. It just reminds everyone that the Republicans once impeached a president over a lie about a consensual (but improper) affair in a civil deposition for a case that was dismissed by the judge. You simply cannot compare that with what Trump has done.

 I guess it doesn't matter to their cult followers but some of them are watching the hearings unfold on Fox and they are hearing Chris Wallace make this point. Most will just reject Wallace, of course. But there may be a few who start to feel experience some dissonance over this whole thing.

Here's a little shot of GOP crazy followed by a little cleansing chaser:
x .
The Inspector General finds that reality still exists 

by digby

Oh no

A long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s inspector general released on Monday sharply criticized the F.B.I.’s handling of a wiretap application used in the early stages of its Russia investigation but exonerated former bureau leaders of President Trump’s accusations that they engaged in a politicized conspiracy to sabotage him. 
Investigators uncovered “no documentary or testimonial evidence” of political bias behind official actions related to the investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, said the report, which totaled more than 400 pages. The F.B.I. had sufficient evidence in July 2016 to lawfully open the investigation, and its use of informants to approach campaign aides followed procedures, the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, determined. 
But Mr. Horowitz also uncovered substantial dysfunction, carelessness and serious errors in one part of the sprawling inquiry: the F.B.I.’s applications for court orders approving a wiretap targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser with ties to Russia, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. He found that one low-ranking F.B.I. lawyer altered a related document and referred the lawyer for possible prosecution. 
Given the highly fraught context of investigating someone linked to a presidential campaign, the report said, the Crossfire Hurricane investigators knew their work would be scrutinized — yet they nevertheless “failed to meet the basic obligation to ensure that the Carter Page FISA applications were ‘scrupulously accurate.’”

Actually that's not a surprise.

Bigger Surprise:

Yeah, I know. That's not a bigger surprise either, is it?

Barr also says, “It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory.” And he later made a point of saying that he isn't criticizing "friendly foreign governments" (Australia) after someone probably nudged him to do it. (I don't know who --- it certainly wasn't Trump.)

And I think we now have a good idea what John Durham is up to as well:

Also not a big surprise. But it's good to see it confirmed.  I suspect that what we're going to see from him is a bunch of bullshit from crooked Ukrainians.


Update: It looks like there may be a rift between Barr and Christopher Wray developing:

Aaaand, here's the King of Bizarroworld:


What do you do when a political party adopts disinformation and propaganda as a strategy?

 by digby


My Salon column this morning:
Monday morning brings us the second round of House Judiciary Committee hearings to determine whether President Donald Trump has committed impeachable acts. Last week's hearing with constitutional experts laid out the history of the impeachment process and the somewhat ambiguous criteria. Now we will hear "opening arguments" frm three lawyers.

Representing the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee will be Barry Berke, whom you will recognize as the attorney who got former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to admit that he often lies to the media, among other things, in an earlier hearing. You may also remember Daniel Goldman, the former federal prosecutor from the House Intelligence Committee who skillfully questioned various witnesses during the hearings into the Ukraine bribery scandal. And the Republicans have chosen Stephen R. Castor, the longtime House GOP staff investigator and lawyer who led the questioning at the House Intelligence Committee hearings.

Unlike impeachment hearings in the past, President Trump has refused to participate directly, preferring instead to whine and complain that he isn't being allowed to defend himself. (Which is a bald-faced lie.) Apparently, Trump has now accepted that impeachment is inevitable and is planning to produce his own spectacle in the Senate trial, where it is expected that he will beat the rap. The jury will include 53 Republicans and it would take 67 votes to convict, assuming all are present. It's possible to imagine up to two or three GOP senators voting to convict, which would certainly be a blow to Trump's ego. But it's more likely they'll all hang together, with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine issuing one of her trademark statements of "concern" or "regret."

We don't know exactly what the Democrats' plan to present as possible articles of impeachment, but Berke's presence alongside Goldman has led some observers to wonder if they haven't decided to include the obstruction of justice charges from the second volume of the Mueller report. I am on record being very much in favor of that, since I believe it illustrates the pattern of Trump's behavior and also the fact that Trump's obstructive behavior in the Mueller probe was a precursor to what he has done with Ukraine. What binds all that together is the fact that Trump welcomed Russian interference on his behalf before he took office. Then, despite a monumental scandal that has lasted throughout his presidency, he went ahead and did it again, this time deploying his power as president to bribe a foreign country into doing his bidding.

It's hard to predict how the House Republicans will approach these hearings. The House Intelligence Minority Report and the earlier GOP staff report prepared by Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Michael McCaul, R-Texas — ranking members of the Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, respectively — have suggested slightly different strategies.

Susan Simpson of Just Security analyzed the staff report and concluded that it made no attempt to construct a coherent statement of facts, nor to offer its own version of events as an alternative to the one set forth in the majority’s report. The point of the minority report is not to offer an explanation of what really happened, but to make what really happened seem unknowable.

That is an interesting approach, isn't it? But it requires a fair amount of lying anyway, as Simpson's analysis shows.

It's more likely that the Republicans will follow the outline of the Intelligence Committee minority report and reprise their performances in the hearings so far. That means they will ignore all the evidence that proves Trump's guilt and spin a bunch of overlapping or contradictory conspiracy theories instead. As Ryan Broderick of BuzzFeed points out, this strategy seeks to create "not just a counternarrative but a completely separate reality” with which to feed Facebook posts and Fox News clips. Basically the idea is to use the hearings to promote the conspiracy theories for a broader audience and give them the imprimatur of respectability from the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress.

Quinta Jurecic and Jacob Schulz of the Lawfare blog have written a very interesting and slightly unnerving analysis of how that works. They point out that Democrats on the Intelligence Committee mostly opted not to address all the conspiracy-mongering that occurred during their hearings in their report to the Judiciary Committee, and for good reason. Aside from all the confusion these conspiracies and false narratives create, studies show that even rebutting such theories tends to give them credibility. For instance, Jurecic and Schultz write:

Research suggests that the more a claim is repeated, the more likely people are to believe it, even in the context of a debunking — so stating, “The DNC server is not in Ukraine” could lead readers to have more, rather than fewer, doubts over whether the server actually is in Ukraine, much less whether there is a physical server at all. (This has proven difficult to navigate for media outlets struggling to report on the president’s falsehoods.)

We will know soon enough if House Republicans are planning to take advantage of these phenomena. It would be hugely surprising if they don't. The big question now is whether or not the Senate will do the same.

Politico reported last week that the White House is plotting impeachment trial strategy with Republican senators. Senators are supposed to serve as jurors so that might seem odd, but since Trump and his House allies are demanding that Senate Republicans allow the president's lawyers to put Joe Biden on trial, and air their nutjob conspiracy theories on every network, it makes some sense.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he wants to investigate Hunter Biden but told House members last week that he wouldn't go along with subpoenaing House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as Trump has demanded. (But when has Graham ever disappointed Trump?) Supposedly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are working on rules for the impeachment trial. I wouldn't bet on the president's lawyers adhering to them.

Trump is no student of sociology, but he has a very finely honed sense of how to bullshit the public and he's a natural at disinformation and propaganda. He's been doing it his whole life. He knows the value in using a Senate trial to push his conspiracy theories into the mainstream and seems to instinctively understand that the more exposure they get, the more "real" they become. All the Democrats can do is try to get the truth out while avoiding giving too much oxygen to the other side's alternate reality. It won't be easy.

That's Quite a Feat, NY Times! 

by tristero

Truly incredible.  Dean Baquet, the editor of the NY Times, permitted a front page article on how William Barr loves to take "liberals" and "secularists" to task for corrupting America's moral values without once mentioning Stormy Daniels (or any other well-documented Trump infidelities).

Bottom line: Anyone who would take a job in the Trump Administration is in no position to lecture me or anyone else about our morals.

Adding: Mr. Barr, a bit of advice: John 8:7

Hot spit take

by Tom Sullivan

Be advised. Swallow your coffee and put down that cup before reading on. Sen. Lindsey Graham has an announcement to make.

"I'm not going to participate in things I think will destroy the country," Trump's manservant said of a prospective impeachment trial for Donald Trump.

Days ago, Trump threatened to have House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "and many more" testify to "reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is.”

Republicans have criticized Schiff, Fox News reports, "for subpoenaing and releasing phone records of calls between the office of former Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Rudy Giuliani, Giuliani associate Lev Parnass, and journalist John Solomon."

Responding to Maria Bartiromo, Graham hinted that might mean Democrats could call Nunes to testify in a Senate trial.

"I think it's dangerous," Graham said. "Here's what I would tell Adam Schiff. Do you really want to start calling other members, Republican members of Congress in oversight? Do you want me to call you to the Senate as part of Senate oversight?"

"We're not going to turn the Senate into a circus," Graham finished.

Nor turn a Senate trial into a real one by putting Schiff under oath. Not an ice cube's chance in hell.

Graham then offered the president some advice he won't take:

“When 51 of us say we’ve heard enough, the trial is going to end," Graham said. "The president’s going to be acquitted. He may want to call Schiff, he may want to call Hunter Biden, he may want to call Joe Biden. But here’s my advice to the president: If the Senate is ready to vote and ready to acquit you, you should celebrate that. And we can look at this other stuff outside of impeachment. Impeachment is tearing the country apart, I don’t want to give it any more credibility than it deserves.”
Graham really doesn't understand his master. Swift acquittal is not what Trump wants. He wants to be proved right. He wants to WIN. He wants to inflict pain and suffering on his accusers. To humiliate them. He wants to crush his enemies, to see them driven before him, and to hear the lamentations of their women. Without so much blood, though, because "Oh my God, that’s disgusting."

In this Martin and Lewis act, Trump is a teetotaling straight man.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Blue America Contest: Nirvana And Pramila 

by digby

Goal Thermometer
From Howie Klein:

Our two favorite things about Seattle: grunge rock pioneers Nirvana and congressional progressive champion Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. So, when former Nirvana manager Danny Goldberg offered Blue America a super-rare 1991 Nevermind Canadian gold record as a way to raise campaign funds for Pramila, we jumped at the chance.

Pramila is probably best known as the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, as the author of the 2019 Medicare-For-All bill and as a relentless advocate for humane immigration policies. She's been very different than most candidates in that she uses her campaign funds to help elect other progressives in difficult districts.

"I run a year-round organizing team, with campaign manager and organizers on staff, to help push both progressive issues (like Medicare for All) and also to train and keep busy our over 1,000 active volunteers. They get trained and then we put them to work knocking on doors in OTHER important districts and making phone calls for other candidates. Last year, we worked for Kara Eastman, Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams, Katie Porter and many others. And we worked, successfully, to flip the 8th congressional district in Washington state, with my volunteers going into that district and knocking on doors. Overall, we knocked on 35,000 doors and made over 150,000 phone calls on behalf of other candidates. Not to mention, I was the first Member of Congress to support and endorse progressive candidates like Rashida and Ilhan."

So how do you win the gold record? We're going to pick one person randomly. Just contribute-- any amount-- to Pramila Jayapal's campaign account here between now and Saturday, December at 9pm (PT), December 14. If you're keen on reading pages and pages of FEC contest rules... here you go. And, if you want the award but find yourself a little short of cash, just send us a postcard-- Pramila Contest, Blue America, P.O. Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027-- and you'll have as much a chance to win as anyone else. Not a Nirvana fan? I bet there's someone on your Christmas gift list who is. So remember... this page-- or above at the Nirvana thermometer.

Just to get you in the mood:

And hey, seeing as today is the 39th anniversary of John Lennon's assassination:

You do NOT criticize Dear Leader

by digby

 TPM reports:
On Sunday, the Danish Atlantic Council cancelled its upcoming conference celebrating NATO’s 70th anniversary after the U.S. embassy in Copenhagen barred a critic of President Donald Trump from attending the event.

“After serious consideration, we have decided not to proceed with the Conference,” Dr. Lars Bangert Struwe, the council’s secretary-general, said in a press release. “The progress of the process has become too problematic; and therefore, we cannot participate in the Conference, let alone ask our Speakers to participate.”

Stanley Sloan, a foreign policy expert who has criticized Trump, was slated to give remarks at the conference on December 10. However, the council stated that U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands, a Trump appointee, had “demanded” that Sloan be uninvited.

The embassy’s official Twitter account claimed on Sunday that the embassy “supports freedom of speech,” and said the event cancellation was “unfortunate.”

“Mr. Stanley Sloan’s proposed last-minute inclusion in the program by
@AtlantDK did not follow the same deliberative process of joint decision-making and agreement that we followed when recruiting all other speakers,” the embassy tweeted.

“I’m sorry that you objected to my inclusion in the conference,” Sloan responded. “I am an experienced public diplomacy lecturer who always represents his country well.”

The NATO policy expert, who said he was “stunned” by the decision, has posted his speech online.
The Ambassador seems nice. When she isn't obsessively retweeting everything FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tweets for some reason, she's tweeting lovely things like this:

Carla Sands is a wealthy former soap opera actress and chiropractor who gave a lot of money to Trump, whom she clearly sees as an inspiration and mentor. I don't know if cancelling a speech by a Trump critic was her idea or if it came from above. I would have to guess the latter since everything she says and does is Trump boilerplate.

This is just a little moment in Trump time. But keep in mind that he only thing that's holding the rest of the world back from completely rejecting us and everything we stand for is the fact that they think 2016 was a fluke and that we will fix it in 2020. If we don't, all bets are off.

Pathetic innumeracy

by digby

Trump excitedly retweeted that.  It is, of course, utter bullshit. Even with the country struggling to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression, Obama's approval rating was better than Trump's:

They were cherry picking one poll by the right wing hack outfit Rasmussen which has him at 51% right now which is 10 points higher than most other polls.
As the president’s approval ratings rise against Obama’s, it may be fair to conclude the House Democrat effort to impeach him is based on their fear that none of their candidates will be able to beat him at the ballot box in 2020.

The danger in this pathological lying is that if Trump loses despite all these "polls" showing him winning, the party will claim that the vote was stolen. The disinformation campaign by foreigners and Republicans alike are inexorably leading to to the right being unwilling to accept any election results that  don't go their way no matter what the real polling showed or the magnitude of the loss.

How can Ted Cruz face his children?

by digby

This was pretty good:
I expect nothing from Ted Cruz. He is clearly an empty vessel, with a yawning void where his heart and soul should be. There is nothing new there. What is new is that Chuck Todd was able to best him by forcing him to more or less admit that he's a sniveling coward for defending the indefensible from the same man who humiliated him repeatedly in the 2016 campaign. There was a time when Cruz said otherwise, but we now know that he doesn't really care about his wife or family and he was just pretending in order to win:

 Trump went further, of course:

If you look at the following "report" from 2016 you can see how the press trivialized this stuff. While they were wanking daily about Clinton's emails, this was how they treated Trump's character assassination tactics.

Look where we are today.

I carry no brief for Cruz, obviously. But I defy anyone to be able to successfully parry these kinds of attacks when the media treats it all like a big joke. It seems that they are less likely to indulge this nonsense this time but I'm not confident. These "spats" are a sugar rush for the press and I will be surprised if they don't revert.

By the way, Cruz said this around the time of the convention and at the time I wondered if he saw an opportunity to be the clear alternative to Trump. But like all of them he fell in line almost immediately and has been one of Trump's most vociferous defenders, contrary to everything he pretended to believe in his entire political career.


I'm sure if Trump is defeated he and the others will return to their previous "principles" and try to pretend their servile Trump boot-licking never happened.

I think I fear this most of all because the next guy they put in the White House will not be the ignoramus Trump is --- and he will know that you can get away with anything you are bold enough to try. The congress has been revealed as a paper tiger as an institution --- it is only as powerful as a Senate super-majority, which almost never happens. The courts have been packed. If you have no shame and are happy to exploit this post-modern, epistemological nihilism, tens of millions of people yelling madly from the sidelines won't bother you at all.

Don't think President Tom Cotton won't take it to the limit.

Update:  By the way, in case you've forgotten about the Melania cover-shot brouhaha, there was a fact-check.

The truth is that Melania did a lot of provocative photo-shoots, which is fine in my book. But you can't blame Trump's rivals for thinking that might be a deal breaker to the right-wing moral scolds who've been dominating politics for a couple of decades.  The Access Hollywood tape flushed that idea once and for all. However, I think we would be mistaken to believe they won't revert to that as well.

And when we all scream "BUT DONALD TRUMP!!!!" they will laugh in our faces.

He's actually campaigning with the war criminals 

by digby

He did it. This time it was at a "secret" super rich fundraiser but I'd guess it won't be the last time:
President Donald Trump, speaking during a closed-door speech to Republican Party of Florida donors at the state party’s annual Statesman’s Dinner, was in “rare form” Saturday night.

The dinner, which raised $3.5 million for the state party, was met with unusual secrecy. The 1,000 attendees were required to check their cell phones into individual locked cases before they entered the unmarked ballroom at the south end of the resort. Reporters were not allowed to attend.

But the secrecy was key to Trump’s performance, which attendees called “hilarious.”

Riding the high of the successful event turnout — and without the pressure of press or cell phones — Trump transformed into a “total comedian,” according to six people who attended the event and spoke afterward to the Miami Herald.

He also pulled an unusual move, bringing on stage Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who Trump pardoned last month for cases involving war crimes. Lorance was serving a 19-year sentence for ordering his soldiers shoot at unarmed men in Afghanistan, and Golsteyn was to stand trial for the 2010 extrajudicial killing of a suspected bomb maker.

A little reminder that a member of the Saudi Arabian military, in the US for aviation training, shot up a Pensacola, Florida classroom late last week and all the president has done is sing the praises of the Saudi Royals for agreeing to write some checks to the victims families (for some reason.)

He's doing that as he's campaigning with members of the US Military convicted and accused of murdering unarmed Afghans.

What the hell is going on here? Is it the official policy of the Republican Party now that anyone in uniform who shoots innocent people, whether in Afghanistan or the United States of America, is just "doing his job?"

You have to wonder. This is beyond bizarre.

Politicizing the Ledes

by tristero

Buried deep inside the print edition of the Times (page 26) is the announcement of the House Judiciary Committee report on the impeachment of Donald Trump. The headline is different than the one online. It says "House Report Offers Legal Case for Impeachment." And here is the first sentence:
House Democrats released a report on Saturday intended to lay out the legal and historical underpinnings of their case for impeaching President Trump while also countering Republican accusations that the investigation of the president’s conduct in office has been unfair and illegitimate.
In other words, for the Times, the Judiciary report is not about facts but instead, it's a partisan political document. A "Democratic report" — not a "House report," not a "House Judiciary report," but

Similar language was used by the same reporters when the House Intelligence Committee report was released:
House Democrats on Tuesday asserted that President Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election, releasing an impeachment report that found the president “placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States.”
The Times has the story fundamentally wrong. By any stretch of the imagination, both reports are simply an objective detailing of the known facts. They point only in one direction:

Donald Trump, the president of the United States, betrayed his oath of office. Trump used bribery, extortion, and other criminal means to pressure a foreign government to manufacture dirt on a political opponent. He wasn't acting in America's interest. He was acting in his own — and in Putin's.

That is the story. The Times's coverage of impeachment is dangerously misguided. It provides Trump the perfect excuse to dismiss the clear evidence of criminal misconduct as merely politics as usual.

This is not politics as usual. Trump is an existenial threat to any semblance of democratic governance. And the Times needs to report that in a consistent manner. Trump's impeachment is not a political fight but a fight against an authoritarian demagogue who has no legitimate right to continue in office.
What's the deal with Trump and Saudi Arabia?

by digby

This New York Times headline is amazing:
For Trump, Instinct After Florida Killings Is Simple: Protect Saudis
Before issuing his own condolences, the president channeled the Saudi king’s, and avoided any discussion of the hard questions about why the U.S. is training Saudi officers.

President Trump’s first instinct was to tamp down any suggestion that the Saudi government needed to be held accountable for any misdeeds.
Here's the story:
When a Saudi Air Force officer opened fire on his classmates at a naval base in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday, he killed three, wounded eight and exposed anew the strange dynamic between President Trump and the Saudi leadership: The president’s first instinct was to tamp down any suggestion that the Saudi government needed to be held to account.

Hours later, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter that he had received a condolence call from King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who clearly sought to ensure that the episode did not further fracture their relationship. On Saturday, leaving the White House for a trip here for a Republican fund-raiser and a speech on Israeli-American relations, Mr. Trump told reporters that “they are devastated in Saudi Arabia,” noting that “the king will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones.” He never used the word “terrorism.”

What was missing was any assurance that the Saudis would aid in the investigation, help identify the suspect’s motives, or answer the many questions about the vetting process for a coveted slot at one of the country’s premier schools for training allied officers. Or, more broadly, why the United States continues to train members of the Saudi military even as that same military faces credible accusations of repeated human rights abuses in Yemen, including the dropping of munitions that maximize civilian casualties.

“The attack is a disaster for an already deeply strained relationship,” Bruce Riedel, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and a former C.I.A. officer who has dealt with generations of Saudi leaders, said on Saturday. It “focuses attention on Americans training Saudi Air Force officers who are engaged in numerous bombings of innocents in Yemen, which is the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world,” he said, noting that the Trump administration had long been fighting Congress as it seeks to end American support for that war.
I don't think Trump (and Pompeo's) sucking up had anything to do with Yemen do you? There's something else going on between Trump and Saudi Arabia.

This  reaction is very, very unusual for Trump. As the Washington Post pointed out in this article lasr summer, this is how he normally reacts when attacks appear to have been committed by Muslims:

Nov. 15, 2015: Several terrorists carried out a coordinated attack in Paris that killed 130 people. Trump tweeted about the attacks on the same day, offering the victims his prayers. The next day, he criticized former president Barack Obama for having said shortly before the attack occurred that the Islamic State militant group, which claimed responsibility for the Paris killings, had continued to shrink.

A few days later, Trump pointed to the attack as a validation of his policies.
Everyone is now saying how right I was with illegal immigration & the wall. After Paris, they’re all on the bandwagon.
Dec. 2, 2015: When a husband and wife murdered 14 people at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, Calif., Trump tweeted about the attack even before the perpetrators had been identified, though without linking it to Muslims. He did, however, continue to defend his untrue claims that he’d seen Muslims in New Jersey celebrating after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by retweeting a defender.

Several days after the attack, Trump made a policy proposal.

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” he read from a statement at a rally. The husband in the San Bernardino shooting was born in the United States.

May 19, 2016: After a plane en route to Egypt disappeared, Trump quickly tweeted that it looked “like yet another terrorist attack.”

At a fundraiser, he went further.

“What just happened 12 hours ago? A plane got blown out of the sky,” Trump said. “And if anyone doesn’t think it was blown out of the sky, you’re 100 percent wrong.”

The working theory for the crash is that a fire in the cockpit brought the plane down.

June 12, 2016: A man claiming allegiance to the Islamic State murdered 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando.

Trump offered his thoughts in a string of tweets. The first said he was “[p]raying for all the victims & their families,” then asked, “When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?”

He followed that up with a widely criticized tweet praising his own foresight.

Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!
He later wrote that the Orlando attacker had yelled “Allah hu Akbar” as he carried out the attack and offered an ominous warning about another man arrested near a pride parade in Los Angeles. That man was from Indiana.

“What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning,” Trump wrote later that day. “Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough.”

Dec. 19, 2016: Trump, as president-elect, released a statement tied to an attack at a Christmas market in Germany within hours of the incident.

The Islamic State, the statement read, “and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad. These terrorists and their regional and worldwide networks must be eradicated from the face of the earth.”

The statement didn’t note that most victims of Islamic State violence have been Muslims killed by attacks in the Middle East.

He also tweeted a broader message about terrorism.
Today there were terror attacks in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany - and it is only getting worse. The civilized world must change thinking!

As the Guardian noted at the time, it wasn’t clear whether Trump knew that the attack in Switzerland targeted Muslims at an Islamic center. Nor was it known at the time of Trump’s tweet who had carried out the attack in Germany.

Jan. 31, 2017: A convert to Islam claiming allegiance to the Islamic State fatally shot a security guard in Colorado. Trump didn’t comment.

Feb. 3, 2017: A man armed with a machete attacked soldiers near the Louvre in Paris. He’d expressed sympathy for the Islamic State in posts published online. Trump offered a response on Twitter.

“A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris,” he wrote. “Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.”

One soldier was wounded in the attack.

March 22, 2017: Pedestrians on a bridge in London were struck by a car driven by a man who was allegedly inspired by the Islamic State. He then got out and stabbed a police officer. Trump tweeted his support for the British prime minister on the same day.

It was later revealed that the attacker had complained about the “racism and rudeness” of Trump, as well as his frustration with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

April 9, 2017: Two Christian churches in Egypt were targeted by suicide bombers on Palm Sunday, killing 47 people. Trump tweeted about it on the same day.

“So sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt,” he wrote. “U.S. strongly condemns. I have great confidence that President Al Sisi will handle situation properly.”

May 22, 2017: A bomb exploded outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. The next day, Trump offered his condolences to the victims and declared that “terrorists and extremists, and those who give them aid and comfort, must be driven out from our society forever.”

June 2, 2017: Before announcing that he was withdrawing the United States from an international climate agreement, Trump took a moment to lament what he said was a terrorist attack in the Philippines. It was, he said, “pretty sad what is going on throughout the world with terror.”

That attack was later identified as a robbery.

June 3, 2017: Another attack on a bridge in London, after which attackers got out of the van they were driving and began stabbing people nearby. Eight people were killed.

Before the attack even ended, Trump retweeted Drudge Report speculation about a terrorist attack killing 20 people. He followed it up with a pitch for his travel ban.

We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!

June 21, 2017: An immigrant from Tunisia wounded a security officer at an airport in Michigan, blaming American policy in the Middle East. No comment from Trump.

Aug. 17, 2017: Two attacks carried out by terrorists linked to the Islamic State left 16 people dead in Barcelona. Trump tweeted his support the same day.

Sept. 15, 2017: A man who claimed to have been trained by the Islamic State attempted to detonate a bomb on a subway in London. It didn’t completely detonate.

“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!” Trump wrote shortly after the attempted attack. “Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner. The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!”

British authorities, including May, criticized Trump for speculating about the motivation of the attacker before details had been determined.

Oct. 31, 2017: An immigrant drove a truck onto a bike path in Lower Manhattan, killing eight people. That same day, Trump offered a statement, expressing condolences and then speaking more broadly.

“I have just ordered homeland security to step up our already extreme vetting program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!” he wrote, then adding, “We must not allow [the Islamic State] to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!”

He made this attack a staple of his speeches over the next year, repeatedly claiming, without evidence, that the attacker had helped more than a dozen relatives immigrate to the United States. He would amplify the damage done by the man, pointing out that the 11 people injured would endure long recuperation periods. During his State of the Union address in January 2018, he referred to the attack.

“In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration,” he said. “In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can just no longer afford.”

Nov. 24, 2017: Gunmen believed to be linked to the Islamic State opened fire at a mosque on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing 311 people.

Trump again used the incident as support for his ban on migration from several Muslim-majority companies.

“The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!” he wrote. “Will be calling the President of Egypt in a short while to discuss the tragic terrorist attack, with so much loss of life. We have to get TOUGHER AND SMARTER than ever before, and we will. Need the WALL, need the BAN! God bless the people of Egypt.”

Dec. 11, 2017: The second New York attack referenced by Trump during his speech to Congress was an attempt by a green-card holder to detonate an explosive in a tunnel in New York’s subway system. Five people were wounded. The same day, Trump offered a response.

“America must fix its lax immigration system,” he wrote, “which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country.”

March 19, 2018: A teenager who claimed to have converted to Islam stabbed three people during a sleepover, killing one. Trump didn’t respond.

March 23, 2018: A man linked to the Islamic State took hostages at a supermarket in France, killing several people, including a police officer.

Trump offered his thoughts the next day.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the horrible attack in France yesterday, and we grieve the nation’s loss,” he wrote on Twitter. “We also condemn the violent actions of the attacker and anyone who would provide him support.”

May 12, 2018: After a French citizen born in Chechnya attacked pedestrians with a knife in Paris, the Islamic State claimed credit. One person died. The next day, Trump offered thoughts.

“At some point countries will have to open their eyes & see what is really going on,” he wrote. “This kind of sickness & hatred is not compatible with a loving, peaceful, & successful country! Changes to our thought process on terror must be made.”

Aug. 14, 2018: A Sudanese refugee drove his car into pedestrians near Parliament in London, wounding three people.

“Another terrorist attack in London,” Trump wrote the same day. “These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!”

When attacks appear to have targeted Muslims

June 29, 2016: A man in Minneapolis shot two Muslim men near a mosque, allegedly while shouting anti-Muslim epithets.

Trump didn’t offer any comment.

Aug. 13, 2016: An imam at a New York City mosque and an associate were fatally shot after afternoon prayers. Trump didn’t offer any comment.

Jan. 29, 2017: A student entered a mosque in Quebec City and murdered six worshipers. He claimed to have been motivated by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s welcoming refugees following Trump’s initial effort to ban Muslims from entering the United States. In a selfie, the shooter was pictured wearing a red “Make America great again” hat.

Then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed that the attack was a reason to support Trump’s ban.

“It’s a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant,” Spicer said. “And why the president is taking steps to be proactive, not reactive.”

Feb. 24, 2017: Two engineers from India were accosted by a man at a bar in Kansas, apparently because the man believed they were Iranian. The man was kicked out of the bar but then came back and murdered one of the engineers.

Trump responded four days later, after having failed to address that incident or a number of anti-Semitic incidents that had recently occurred. He mentioned both during his first address to Congress.

“Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City,” he said, “remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”

Trump did not identify the motivation in the Kansas attack.

May 26, 2017: A man harassing two teenagers on a train in Portland, including one in traditional Muslim attire, stabbed two men to death when they attempted to intervene.

The White House offered a response on Trump’s official Twitter account three days later.

“The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable,” the tweet read. “The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.”

The motivation of the killer wasn’t mentioned.

June 19, 2017: A man drove a van into a crowd near a mosque in north London, killing one. The White House offers no response.

August 5, 2017: A mosque in Minnesota was the target of a bombing. No one was injured. One of the men indicted in the attack had, through his company, submitted a bid to build the wall Trump wants on the border with Mexico.

Trump offered no comment. At the time, White House adviser Seb Gorka dismissed the initial reports.

"There’s a great rule: All initial reports are false,” he said, claiming that a number of alleged hate crimes “turned out to actually have been propagated by the left.”

March 15, 2019: A man in New Zealand murders 50 people.

The next morning, Trump tweets his support for the country.

My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!

He doesn’t mention the motivation for the attack.

Later, he’s asked whether he’s concerned about an increase in white nationalism globally.

“I don’t really,” Trump replied. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”
In other words, if it's someone Trump sees as an ally it's fine. And Trump sees the Saudi royal family as an ally.  I wonder why?

Update: There is some possible evidence that this was al Qaeda inspired,which makes sense since al Qaeda was originally a Saudi terrorist group.