Tuesday was one of those days. I don't have it in me to choose which One Thing Only to write about, so instead I bring back the Morning News Round-Up and offer just some random comments about stories that broke only yesterday, as well as thoughts that other news items provoked.
So, Jared Kushner had his top secret security clearance lowered today, which means he's been operating at a level beyond what is safe. Or to put it in terms that Trumpets would understand -- for the past year, Trump "put us all at risk." A major story related to this broke late Tuesday about how at least four foreign countries (that we know of) specifically singled out Kushner to exploit him. But to make matters worse, there is no word from the White House that Kushner's responsibilities will change, and that he will continue to oversee the Middle East, China, Mexico, and Canada, as well as be in charge of digital communications. It's profoundly difficult to imagine how someone can be in charge of any of these area, let alone all of them without having full access to top secret intelligence. Not to mention without having any experience. But apparently not only did Trump "put us all at risk with Kushner, but he continues to. Oh, and another thing it's profoundly difficult to imagine -- that Robert Mueller hasn't been deeply investigating Kushner for, among many other things, his unreported contacts with foreign leaders while discussing his business interests, which are in serious trouble.
Only one year into his administration, with investigations piling up around him, Trump announced his "re-election campaign," which seems mostly a way to raise money and to seem unconcerned that the ground is collapsing underneath him. And in making the announcement, Trump hired Brad Parscale, the digital media director of his 2016 campaign, to run his re-election campaign. This may mean little to most people, but it's worth noting a few things. First, "digital media" is one of the areas under investigation by the Special Counsel for its seeming ties with Russia. And also, just six months ago Pascale signed a $10 million deal with CloudCommerce -- which is a shady penny stock company that has not turned a profit in 20 years yet has spent over $20 million of investor money and had a top executive caught in an FBI bribery sting, later convicted of a felony, but still advising the company. Oh, and yes, Trump only knows the Best People...
The Special Counsel's office has proposed dropping 17 charges against Rick Gates following his guilty pleas last week. While that might sound nice of them as part of the plea deal, it should terrify the administration since it suggests the investigation has gotten significant evidence in exchange for Gates' plea. Prosecutors don't just randomly reduce charges so much unless they get something highly-valuable in return.
Because there were SO many other huge stories yesterday, it knocked THIS *huge* story off the main news -- but in the coldest time of the year, mid-winter in February, temperatures soared above freezing at the North Pole. How adorable it is that Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accord -- the only nation in the world who is not a member. The Only Nation in the World. And let's repeat something else, but it bears repeating. And shouting. The North Pole is Above Freezing in February!!!
At her press conference yesterday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed Trump's several tweets trying to pawn off blame of the Russian attacks on President Obama. That's like blaming FDR for World War II because he didn't stop Germany before it launched its attacks. What it also does is ignore that Trump isn't acting to stop Russia which is STILL attacking.
Related to this, now that Trump has acknowledged, however lamely, that Russia did attack the U.S., what should not be forgotten is Trump's earlier statement that Putin had told him that Russia didn't do this, and Trump said he believed him. I hope a reporter questions the press secretary about this discrepancy and dangerously-poor judgement.
Last week, Tucker Carlson did a major "expose" on "Fox News" about how supposedly CNN had scripted the words of Colton Haab, one of the survivors of the Parkland high school massacre shooting. It turns out, not a shock to most rational people, that the story was untrue and that Haab's father admitted to re-writing an email. But almost more than that, what a dismally-weak, indeed smarmy "correction" by Tucker Carlson when he said on his show yesterday, “For the sake of honesty and full disclosure to which we are committed, we have to tell you there is no evidence as of right now that CNN tried to give Colton Haab a scripted question, and we wanted you to know that.” Excuse me, but..."Right now"?? No, there is NO EVIDENCE, period. Carlson got the story totally wrong. And further, he offered no apology. As co-proprietor with Nell Minow of the Apology Institute of America, I will add that this gets an F. It really can't even be called an apology, because it not only doesn't apologize but Carlson doesn't even suggest he was wrong. Just that he reported something that turned out different. So far.
And all that was only yesterday. Just yesterday. And I'm sure I'm still leaving out a lot. We're at the point when we'll start longing for the Good Old Days of last week.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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