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Steele Dossier was funded first by Trump’s GOP opponents then by Democrats—which we knew all along

On Tuesday, the Washington Post “broke” the story that sources connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party had taken over funding for Christopher Steele’s Trump–Russia compilation after Trump’s Republican opponents were knocked out of the race.

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research. …

Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the company in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by an unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.

So, a lawyer with Clinton’s campaign hired Fusion GPS for opposition research—likely because they knew that Fusion had already been hired by at least one of Trump’s Republican opponents. Fusion, in turn, hired Steele’s firm. Only … this isn’t exactly breaking news. Here’s the Guardian story on the dossier from May.

Last year, a political intelligence firm in Washington, Fusion GPS, hired Steele to investigate Trump’s dealings with Russia. The DNC paid for the work after its initial funder, a wealthy Jeb Bush supporter, dropped out.

Which actually provides a bit more information on the newest revelations. But even that story is a latecomer. Here’s the first story about the Steele dossier from October 2016:

This was for a an opposition research project originally funded by a Republican client … before [Steele] was retained, the project’s financing switched to a client allied with Democrats.

That story hasn’t changed. Neither has the apparent accuracy of the dossier’s content.

Posted in Liberal Thoughts

Republicans gut protection against bank abuses in late-night vote with Pence as tie-breaker

Mike Pence cast the deciding vote Tuesday night to allow big banks to screw consumers, as the Senate repealed a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule making it easier for people to sue banks and credit card companies. The rule prevented financial institutions from forcing consumers into binding arbitration and blocking them from going to court. Instead, it opened up class-action suits as a way for people to join together and fight abuses.

Republicans didn’t like that so much, wailing about the enormous costs that would supposedly be racked up by frivolous lawsuits. You know, things like this:

For years, Wells Fargo used arbitration clauses to block lawsuits from customers who alleged that unauthorized accounts had been opened in their names. Ultimately, the bank estimated that as many as 3.5 million such accounts were opened.

The bank agreed to settle some class-actions suits, but not until the CFPB, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Los Angeles city attorney’s office fined the bank over those practices last year. Even in cases that the bank settled, it had argued that the plaintiffs could not sue because of arbitration clauses.

You may remember that Equifax was forced by public outcry to remove an arbitration clause from its agreement to provide free credit monitoring to people whose personal information it allowed to be stolen. That’s the kind of thing this CFPB rule was designed to address that so outraged Republicans.

The consumer bureau had determined that the effect on the entire financial system would be less than $1 billion a year. Cordray has noted that U.S. banks earned a record $171 billion in profits in 2016.

That’s what Republicans say is just too much money wasted on frivolous lawsuits against things like unauthorized bank accounts being opened in your name or your Social Security number being stolen.

Two Republicans—South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Louisiana’s John Kennedy—voted no, forcing Republicans to bring in Pence. But note who voted the party line despite their criticisms of Donald Trump earlier in the day. That’s right, both Bob Corker and Jeff Flake.

Posted in Liberal Thoughts

Cheers and Jeers: Wednesday

Hispanic Federation Fund for Puerto Rico Relief Link



Today’s List of Things By Which White House Chief of Staff John Kelly Will be “Stunned, Stunned”:

Fidget spinners

Soups that eat like a meal

The earth is curved but the horizon is flat

Accidentally witnessing his boss getting his

morning application of skull latex

Detergent that softens hands while you do dishes

That Jeff Sessions doesn’t actually live in a tree

The physical exertion involved in doing the Hokey Pokey

Dogs playing poker

The infinity of pi

How the Good Doctor came up with the brilliant idea to remove that lady’s kidney to get at and take out her tumor

Ego is Star-Lord’s father

Wheels on the bus going ‘round and ‘round

The statue in Brussels of that naked kid taking a leak

His sacred wife burned his toast

Socks that get lost while doing laundry

All the wads of Sean Spicer gum under his desk

Tree rings

The size of Newt Gingrich’s head when you

really stop and look at it

Earlobe hairs

Fighting going on in the war room

He’s very sensitive, you know.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold… [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Posted in Liberal Thoughts

Morning Digest: Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake announces his retirement amid awful poll numbers

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

AZ-Sen: In a major surprise, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake announced on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election next year. In explaining his retirement, Flake professed his love for the Senate but, in a speech on the chamber’s floor, decried the “coarseness” of politics in the era of Donald Trump and, without calling out Trump by name, criticized his “[r]eckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior.” Ultimately, though, Flake’s decision seems to have come down to the viability of his own political career. “The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I’m not willing to take, and that I can’t in good conscience take,” he told the Arizona Republic.

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Flake’s diagnosis of his own woes is not misplaced. Flake has long been one of Trump’s most vocal critics in the GOP while at the same time serving as loyal vote for him in the Senate. This approach earned Trump’s vocal ire and seemed to turn off almost everyone in Arizona, Democrats and Republicans alike: Polls had shown Flake badly losing the GOP primary to former state Sen. Kelli Ward, a badly underfunded fringe figure who herself had lost to Sen. John McCain 51-40 last year, and in trouble against Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in the general election.

So what will Flake’s abrupt departure mean for Arizona’s Senate race? With Flake running, the GOP was on a path toward nominating Ward, a woman best known for hosting a town-hall meeting about “chemtrails,” a bonkers conspiracy theory that holds that the vapor contrails produced by airplanes are actually mind-control chemicals. Several less, ah, exotic Republicans also hadn’t previously ruled out bids of their own, but had they joined in while Flake was still in the race, they might have actually saved his hide by splitting the anti-incumbent vote. Of course, had Flake “survived” in this manner, it could have left him crippled for the general election—and inspired furious Trump supporters to simply stay home.

Now the GOP will hope a stronger alternative emerges, but can this as-yet-unnamed savior make it through even a Flake-less primary, or will the likes of Ward successfully be able to sabotage any such hopes? A, if not the, key reason Flake’s approval rating tanked so hard with Republican voters is because of Trump’s relentless attacks, so can any replacement avoid stoking Trump’s wrath for an entire year? As CNN notes, Trump has now personally attacked one in five GOP senators. Anyone seeking to step into Flake’s shoes might fare no better.

However the GOP sorts itself out of this mess, Democrats will stay on the offensive. Arizona, which voted for Trump by a slim 48-45 margin—the closest presidential result in the state in two decades—is one of just two states where Democrats have a good chance to pick up a Senate seat from the GOP, and Sinema is a top recruit. But no matter what happens here, Republicans have to be worried about what it means when a scandal-free, 54-year-old first-term senator decides to call it quits rather than face his party’s base. Plenty of other incumbents might just feel the same way.

Posted in Liberal Thoughts

Cartoon: The Consoler-in-Chief

Follow me on Twitter at @MattBors or like my Facebook page.

Posted in Liberal Thoughts

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: What adults? Where?

Brian Beutler/Crooked Media:

The contrast between Benghazi and Niger as political events parallels the contrast between how the American political system processed revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct and how we processed similar revelations about the male leaders of Fox News—and even the Republican president of the United States.

In each case the institutions of the right responded to key developments instrumentally, revealing through the shifting scenes and casts of characters that their animating concerns weren’t protecting Americans serving in dangerous parts of the world, or protecting women in the workforce from powerful, abusive men, but making partisan brickbats of those incidents when possible, to advance unrelated goals.

The institutions of the left, by contrast, addressed each event in close to neutral fashion, guided primarily by their commitments to competent governing, and the physical well-being of fellow citizens.

This illustrates a fundamental characterological difference between the American left and the American right. And, if we aspire to root our political culture in reason, empiricism, and good faith, it should inform how we sort political controversies—what we do and don’t lend credence and emphasis to—as we debate policies and select political leaders.


GOP senators’ struggle: Speak out against Trump, or achieve something for their silence

NY Times:

Another Republican Call to Arms, but Who Will Answer?

Pro tip: if you want more to speak out, don’t immediately dump on them for their previous sin of being conservative Republicans. Yeah, i know all about their voting record. I know who they are. I’m not asking you to be them. But do you want to be right, or do you want them to speak out?

OTOH, the silent ones hoping for advancement and achievement? We have a term for the silent Germans during the Nazi era. They’re called Nazis.

Posted in Liberal Thoughts

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Ah, Wednesday! That day in the middle of the week when we can’t commiserate about it being Monday, and it’s too early for “at least it’s Friday” jokes.

Greg Dworkin’s back! But Joan McCarter’s out. But at least she’s on vacation, not busy rushing to post yet another Trump Is An Idiot story.

That’ll be someone else’s job. And I’ll read it to you, in Trump’s voice. It’s what we do here.

Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET!

Podcasts! They’re hip! They’re hot! Everyone’s got one! But Daily Kos has had one since slightly after that point at which you would have been able to say that we had one before it was cool. Only we do ours over a live stream, every weekday morning from 9-11 ET. So the news is as fresh as the morning dew! Delivered and interpreted for you by David Waldman, Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando.

We think you’ll like it so much, you’ll even help support its continued production, with monthly donations via Patreon, or one-time contributions via Square Cash.

Not ready to face the world that early? Unsure whether you’re ready to donate your hard-earned cash? We’ve also got these handy-dandy record-o-matical things, like the one below, featuring our most recent LIVE show! At Daily Kos, it’s always free to try before you buy! (I think! Usually, anyway!)

YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash

I don’t know, what do you want to talk about? Hey, that’s exactly what David Waldman wants to talk about on today’s KITM! Armando: ¿Qué es esto? Whitefish is setting up to be the Blackwater of electrical infrastructure for an island of three and a half million Americans. A couple of guys plan to pick up $300 million from the governmentit happens—especially when you know the right people, and Ryan Zinke is definitely the right people. Today Donald Trump is going to swing by the Capitol to bask in a little Senatorial good will and admiration. How huge will that Bob Corker hug be? A mysterious Florida company, traced to Staten Island, traced to the Kremlin, maybe not traced to the Moscow BeatlesFest, has been traced to fomenting socio-political unrest throughout America. Russians used Instagram to influence Native Americans. Russians have stoked America’s race wars for 80 years.

(Thanks to Scott Anderson for the show summary! Please help me pay him more!)

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

Posted in Liberal Thoughts

Donald Trump is not ‘untrustworthy’ or ‘inconsistent.’ Donald Trump is a liar, and incompetent

The efforts to tiptoe around the plain evidence that Donald Trump is a racist, lying, possibly dementia-riddled sack of shit continue.

President Trump campaigned as one of the world’s greatest dealmakers, but after nine months of struggling to broker agreements, lawmakers in both parties increasingly consider him an untrustworthy, chronically inconsistent and easily distracted negotiator.

Because he is. He just is—there is no consider involved here. He is transparently unaware of the details of even his own would-be priorities. He lies extensively and about everything. He contradicts his own prior statements with such regularity that he genuinely appears to have no ability to distinguish between reality and fiction. There was a point at which we could charitably have considered him a mere incompetent; that point has long past.

The president’s propensity to create diversions and follow tangents has kept him from focusing on his legislative agenda and forced lawmakers who might be natural allies on key policies into the uncomfortable position of having to answer for his behavior and outbursts.

Horse shit. The sitting “president” does not have a “propensity” for diversions; the sitting “president” is demonstrably unable to hold any conversation not predicated on those diversions. He cannot give a speech without it devolving into constant asides on his own superiority. He cannot give a speech in which he states, accurately, what his own supposed legislative proposals would do. He cannot give any evidence that he so much as remembers seeing the pieces of paper his legislative proposals are written on.

Posted in Liberal Thoughts

Cartoon: Me Too

Posted in Liberal Thoughts

Immigrant youth don’t need more false hopes from John Cornyn, they need the DREAM Act

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Politico reports that Texas Sen. John Cornyn is part of a Republican group “privately discussing the contours” of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deal, but color me skeptical. Now, advocates would be glad to be proven wrong, but there’s a reason why Cornyn has been awarded the “Biggest Hypocrite on Immigration” trophy by immigrant rights group America’s Voice.

For example, Cornyn’ll offer up optimistic words—or say he’s working on a DACA deal—but when humane immigration proposals have come up, he’s helped derail them. When the DREAM Act passed the House and went to the Senate in 2010, Cornyn opposed it. Then at the Hispanic Leadership Network conference a month later, he “had the audacity to portray himself as a dedicated supporter of immigration reform.” So, take this report with a grain of salt:

“There’s a solution to be had there,” Cornyn said. “But we just need to get on with it.”

A bipartisan DACA deal is in no way imminent. Democrats are waiting for Republicans to offer their list of demands in exchange for legalizing Dreamers. And an immigration package that gets through the Senate, even with GOP sweeteners, may have trouble in the more conservative House.

But some outlines of an agreement are becoming clearer. For instance, the senators have all but ruled out including a mandatory workplace verification system known as E-Verify in a final DACA agreement, according to multiple lawmakers engaged in the talks.

Ideas that do remain in contention among this circle of Republicans include beefed-up border security provisions, limiting some chain migration and measures that one senator described as a “down payment” on shifting the U.S. immigration laws into a merit-based system, according to GOP senators. A spokesman said Grassley is gathering suggestions from other Senate Republicans on not only a DACA fix but enforcement provisions to “address the root cause of illegal immigration.”

Never mind that apprehensions at the border are at their lowest levels since the 1970s” and that we already shell out $20 billion annually for federal immigration enforcement. What undocumented immigrant youth need is an end to political games, and that includes Cornyn dangling a deal on a string when Congress can call for a clean vote on the DREAM Act tomorrow.

Posted in Liberal Thoughts