Donald Trump all but admits he is ‘kompromat’

Updates

  1. March 14, 10:55 pm:
    • Jonathan Chait is about as explicit as John Cassidy in linking Rex Tillerson’s firing to his comments on Russia, but he also includes a transcript excerpt in which White House press secretary Sarah Sanders demurs from explicitly criticizing Russia.[1] And, um, yes, I do think the omission is striking.
  2. March 15, 5:58 pm:
    • I’m catching up on stuff that got overlooked earlier.
    • Donald Trump demonstrates again how delusional he is in running against California, claiming the state is “out of control,” especially on Unauthorized migration.[2]
    • In a number of ways, it’s going to take more than this: “The sanctions [announced by the Trump administration], which ban financial dealings with the individuals and firms named, are unlikely to have much of a practical impact, in large part because the latest list hits many entities and individuals already blacklisted and the newly added people aren’t important to Russia’s economy or politics.”[3] (Russian sanctions)
    • Someone I know, who grew up in Dormont, a suburb of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, and who was a journalist for decades, derides much of the punditry about a special election result in southwestern Pennsylvania, saying that residents in this area strongly favor centrists and people who served in the military (Jeet Heer, at the New Republic, systematically addresses this and other explanations/rationalizations for the Republican defeat.[4]). I might add to this, from my own much more limited experience of the region, that it’s hard to imagine my relatives and the Pennsylvanians I encountered having any tolerance whatsoever for Trumpian nonsense with Russia. My interest, however, is not so much in the actual ‘why’ of the result but in rather what Republicans and, for that matter, Democrats do in response to that result. The allegedly (probably functionalist) conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin warns of a ‘blue tsunami’ this November,[5] and indeed my own expectation has been that by August, Republicans may be in a full panic, possibly leading to Donald Trump’s exit from the presidency. Thus, while my interlocutor may dismiss Rubin’s interpretation as misreading the situation on the ground, I see it as a taste of things to come. (2018 election)
  3. March 15, 11:43 pm:
    • Los Angeles has been sidestepping a federal appeals court ruling striking down its ordinance banning vehicle habitation with overnight parking bans for recreational vehicles.[6] (Homelessness)
    • The judge in Bill Cosby’s retrial on sexual assault charges will allow five women to testify against him.[7]
    • The tagline in David Frum’s article in the Atlantic really says it all: “For the most verbally belligerent president in history, Trump’s comments about Russia’s nerve-agent attack have been conspicuously weak.”[8] (Russian sanctions)
    • National security advisor H. R. McMaster, who is rumored to be next on Donald Trump’s hit list, has made forceful comments against Russia.[9] (Rex Tillerson)
    • The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill points to a massive breakdown of security at chemical weapons sites in the—wait for it—1990s (!) following the collapse of the Soviet Union in reporting doubts about claims that Russia was behind the nerve gas attack in Salisbury. He quotes the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, saying he doesn’t see a motive for the Russian attack.[10] Which might be reasonable if Russia hadn’t previously killed those it sees as disloyal on British soil. And if those lapses hadn’t occurred so long ago. We are to believe that criminals have been sitting on these weapons for so long? And we are to believe that these criminals have a greater motive for this attack than Vladimir Putin? This just boggles the mind. (Rex Tillerson)

A righteous bust:


Rex Tillerson

I have previously expressed deep skepticism regarding accusations that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election in favor of Donald Trump.[11] While proof for these claims remains yet to be had, it is much less reasonable[12] to think that Rex Tillerson’s termination[13] is unconnected to his comments on Russia’s culpability in a nerve agent attack in Britain.[14] I am now compelled to accept as probable the worst suspicions about Trump’s alleged relationship with Russia which, by the way, do not necessarily involve voluntary collusion, but may rather entail collusion under duress. And because Trump is so shameless, I’m now deeply suspicious that this involves something rather more serious than “golden showers.”[15]

John Cassidy, “Rex Tillerson Gets Fired the Day After He Criticized Russia,” New Yorker, March 13, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/rex-tillerson-gets-fired-the-day-after-he-criticized-russia

Jonathan Chait, “Trump Denies Russian Guilt in Murder. Tillerson Admits It, Is Fired. Hmm,” New York, March 13, 2018, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/trump-russia-innocent-rex-no-guilty-trump-youre-fired.html

Ashley Parker et al., “Trump ousts Tillerson, will replace him as secretary of state with CIA chief Pompeo,” Washington Post, March 13, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-ousts-tillerson-will-replace-him-as-secretary-of-state-with-cia-chief-pompeo/2018/03/13/30f34eea-26ba-11e8-b79d-f3d931db7f68_story.html

Fabian Schmidt, “Novichok nerve agents – Russia’s dangerous ‘new’ poison,” Deutschewelle, March 13, 2018, http://www.dw.com/en/novichok-nerve-agents-russias-dangerous-new-poison/a-42957812

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Russian spy: UK to expel 23 Russian diplomats,” March 14, 2018, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43402506

Matthew Nussbaum, “McMaster calls for further U.S. punishment of Russia over ‘atrocities’ in Syria,” Politico, March 15, 2018, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/15/hr-mcmaster-russia-syria-crime-punishment-465841

Ewen MacAskill, “UK’s claims questioned: doubts voiced about source of Salisbury novichok,” Guardian, March 16, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/15/uks-claims-questioned-doubts-emerge-about-source-of-salisburys-novichok


Peer review

Paul Basken, “Peer Review in Flux,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 4, 2018, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Can-Peer-Review-Be-Saved-/242660


Unauthorized migration

Alexei Koseff, “Trump runs for reelection against California: ‘The place is totally out of control,'” Sacramento Bee, March 13, 2018, http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article204729739.html


Russian sanctions

The most verbally belligerent president in history—who has abusive things to say about allies like Japan, South Korea, and Canada—cannot summon up any harsher adjective for a nerve attack on NATO soil than “sad.”[16]

David Frum, “The Words Trump Refuses to Speak,” Atlantic, March 15, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/03/trump-responds-to-russia-nerve-attack/555734/

Ian Talley, “Trump Administration Sanctions Russia for Interference in U.S. Elections,” Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-sanctions-russians-for-interference-in-u-s-elections-1521124200


2018 election

“This is a wake-up call,” Congressman Steve Stivers of Ohio, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told GOP leaders during Wednesday’s closed-door meeting. “Prepare to bear down.” Even Paul Ryan, in that same meeting, admitted as much. But what they don’t seem to realize—or at least won’t say out loud, not even privately—is that there is no waking from this electoral nightmare as long as Trump is president.[17]

Jeet Heer, “The Trump Curse Is Real,” New Republic, March 14, 2018, https://newrepublic.com/article/147465/trump-curse-real

Jennifer Rubin, “Republicans, snap out of it. A blue tsunami could be coming,” Washington Post, March 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/03/15/republicans-snap-out-of-it-a-blue-tsunami-could-be-coming/


Homelessness

Emily Alpert Reyes, “As businesses cite blight, overnight RV parking bans on L.A. streets grow — and the homeless scramble,” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2018, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-rv-homeless-20180317-story.html


Bill Cosby

Natalie Hope McDonald, “Bill Cosby to Face Five Accusers in Court,” Vulture, March 15, 2018, http://www.vulture.com/2018/03/bill-cosby-to-face-five-accusers-in-court.html


  1. [1]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Denies Russian Guilt in Murder. Tillerson Admits It, Is Fired. Hmm,” New York, March 13, 2018, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/trump-russia-innocent-rex-no-guilty-trump-youre-fired.html
  2. [2]Alexei Koseff, “Trump runs for reelection against California: ‘The place is totally out of control,'” Sacramento Bee, March 13, 2018, http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article204729739.html
  3. [3]Ian Talley, “Trump Administration Sanctions Russia for Interference in U.S. Elections,” Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-sanctions-russians-for-interference-in-u-s-elections-1521124200
  4. [4]Jeet Heer, “The Trump Curse Is Real,” New Republic, March 14, 2018, https://newrepublic.com/article/147465/trump-curse-real
  5. [5]Jennifer Rubin, “Republicans, snap out of it. A blue tsunami could be coming,” Washington Post, March 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/03/15/republicans-snap-out-of-it-a-blue-tsunami-could-be-coming/
  6. [6]Emily Alpert Reyes, “As businesses cite blight, overnight RV parking bans on L.A. streets grow — and the homeless scramble,” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2018, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-rv-homeless-20180317-story.html
  7. [7]Natalie Hope McDonald, “Bill Cosby to Face Five Accusers in Court,” Vulture, March 15, 2018, http://www.vulture.com/2018/03/bill-cosby-to-face-five-accusers-in-court.html
  8. [8]David Frum, “The Words Trump Refuses to Speak,” Atlantic, March 15, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/03/trump-responds-to-russia-nerve-attack/555734/
  9. [9]Matthew Nussbaum, “McMaster calls for further U.S. punishment of Russia over ‘atrocities’ in Syria,” Politico, March 15, 2018, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/15/hr-mcmaster-russia-syria-crime-punishment-465841
  10. [10]Ewen MacAskill, “UK’s claims questioned: doubts voiced about source of Salisbury novichok,” Guardian, March 16, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/15/uks-claims-questioned-doubts-emerge-about-source-of-salisburys-novichok
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Blaming the Russians,” Not Housebroken, December 17, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/12/12/blaming-the-russians/; David Benfell, “Vladimir Putin’s motives,” Not Housebroken, December 17, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/12/15/vladimir-putins-motives/
  12. [12]John Cassidy, “Rex Tillerson Gets Fired the Day After He Criticized Russia,” New Yorker, March 13, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/rex-tillerson-gets-fired-the-day-after-he-criticized-russia; Jonathan Chait, “Trump Denies Russian Guilt in Murder. Tillerson Admits It, Is Fired. Hmm,” New York, March 13, 2018, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/trump-russia-innocent-rex-no-guilty-trump-youre-fired.html
  13. [13]Ashley Parker et al., “Trump ousts Tillerson, will replace him as secretary of state with CIA chief Pompeo,” Washington Post, March 13, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-ousts-tillerson-will-replace-him-as-secretary-of-state-with-cia-chief-pompeo/2018/03/13/30f34eea-26ba-11e8-b79d-f3d931db7f68_story.html
  14. [14]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Russian spy: UK to expel 23 Russian diplomats,” March 14, 2018, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43402506
  15. [15]Greg Myre, “A Russian Word Americans Need To Know: ‘Kompromat,'” National Public Radio, January 11, 2017, http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/01/11/509305088/a-russian-word-americans-need-to-know-kompromat; Jeff Stein, “Trump, Russian Spies and the Infamous ‘Golden Shower Memos,’” Newsweek, January 10, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/trump-russian-spies-infamous-golden-shower-memos-541315
  16. [16]David Frum, “The Words Trump Refuses to Speak,” Atlantic, March 15, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/03/trump-responds-to-russia-nerve-attack/555734/
  17. [17]Jeet Heer, “The Trump Curse Is Real,” New Republic, March 14, 2018, https://newrepublic.com/article/147465/trump-curse-real

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