Patterico's Pontifications


The Flight 93 Election in Reverse

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:58 am

Verad Mehta has a piece at Medium that attacks the “reverse Flight 93 election” argument in favor of Anybody But Trump. Mehta makes some good points, like this:

“Policy doesn’t matter,” averred Nichols. It can be “reversed,” avowed Brooks. The reason so many NeverTrumpers are loath to back Warren or Sanders, and are even, in the wake of Sanders’ massive victory in the Nevada caucus, contemplating the once unthinkable prospect of voting for Trump, is that policy does matter, and the reason it matters is that often it can’t be reversed.

In fact, policy matters a great deal. Especially when you’re demanding conservatives support a Democrat over Trump, with the consequence that you are telling them they must vote for a candidate who backs many policies they oppose. Nichols offers no answer to this dilemma. For he does not believe it is a dilemma. And that is why his argument fails.

Trump’s voters, we are incessantly told, have voted for everything he has done in office. Not just judges, tax cuts, and deregulation, but: tariffs and trade wars; “children in cages”; his Twitter invective and depravity, vulgarity, and vindictiveness; his incompetence; etc.
Yet if voting for Trump was voting for all those things, then a vote for the Democrat in November is a vote for everything he or she will do or might have done. Gun confiscation. Taking away private health insurance. Massive taxation.

If Sanders is the nominee, as now seems likely, voting for him would be voting for his program to “reorder or referee almost every part of American life.” It would be voting for a man who admired some of the most noxious regimes of the last century. A vote for either him or Warren would be a vote for a presidency as authoritarian as Trump’s purportedly is.

I used to think policy was virtually the only thing that mattered. Give me someone who votes my way, I would say, and I’ll forgive almost anything in their personal life. (Almost. I could not support Christine O’Donnell, because of her obvious dishonesty.) Then along came Donald Trump, to prove me wrong. I don’t want to make the same mistake in reverse, and act on the idea that only character matters. Policy does indeed matter.

But leaving the analysis there doesn’t cut it, and Mehta ultimately passes on truly addressing the real question facing people who want Trump out of office: the notion that Donald Trump is actually dangerous to our system of government. He mostly handles the concern by asking: Really? That’s what you actually think?

America has faced existential threats before. Nazi Germany. The Confederacy. The Soviet Union. Nuclear weapons. Is Donald Trump an existential threat? Will the United States or its system of government cease to exist because he was elected or is reelected? Is the 2020 election really a matter of life or death?

Think what this is actually saying — that unless you vote for this one candidate, that unless this one candidate is elected, the nation is doomed. And unless you don’t, and unless they aren’t, too.

Asking these questions rhetorically, as Mehta does, with an air of disbelief (“do they really think?!”), does not convince people who suspect the answer to these questions may actually be yes. I keep coming back to the fact that Trump has already demonstrated that the ways to rein him in, other than an election or unlawful and immoral violence, do not and cannot work. With a two-party system in which Senators of the same party of the president will almost never vote to impeach him, it is impossible to remove him through impeachment. Given that fact, along with a Justice Department that refuses to indict a president who has not been impeached, we now know that a criminal cannot be removed from office, except through an election or through violence (which, again, is immoral, wrong, and unthinkable).

That’s your Flight 93 scenario, and it can’t be shrugged away by asking the questions as if the answer is obvious.

I think the better argument than the Flight 93 argument for voting for a Democrat — any Democrat — is that voting for Trump reinforces and ratifies all his corruption, nastiness, instability, proud ignorance, and shocking dishonesty. The GOP needs to be dealt a hard punch to the face for backing all this, and it has to hurt. A lot.

But is that argument good enough? I don’t know.

I’m still uncertain whether that convinces me to vote for Bernie (assuming he ends up being the nominee). I’m tempted to do so, because my vote is meaningless and it would stand as a tiny symbolic rebuke to Trump and everything he stands for on a personal level. But the trouble with viewing a vote against Trump as a symbolic reproach of his corrupt evil is that it will also be seen as a symbolic ratification of socialism, a system that (taken to its logical extreme) is the most evil and dangerous known to man. Socialism and communism (there is really no difference; it’s just how far down the road you want to walk) have killed millions.

As an aside: don’t talk to me about &(*&(*^ Bloomberg. He’s taking too large a chunk of the possible centrist support from someone like a Buttigieg or Biden, who are slightly less insane than Bernie and have a much better chance of winning.

I understand Mehta not confronting this tough question. It’s a tough question because there really is no easy answer. All we can do is ask these questions, and then resolve to somehow fix a system that gives us choices like this, time and time again.

There’s still an outside chance that we get a “moderate” like Biden or Buttigieg. They’re not actually that moderate, but the so-called moderates are moderate enough for me.

That said, it does not look like they can win the primary. And it does not look like the socialist can win the general. So we get four more years of Mr. Looney. Let’s just hope he doesn’t nuke someone.


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 130

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 8:14 am

It is Transfiguration Sunday. Today’s Bach cantata is “Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir” (Lord God, we all praise you):

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 17:1-9:

The Transfiguration

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Lord God, we all praise You
and shall properly thank You
for your creation of the beautiful angels,
which hover around You above Your throne.

Their brilliant radiance and exalted wisdom shows
how God bends Himself down to us humans,
who has created such champions, such weapons
for our sake.
They never rest from honoring Him;
their entire activity is directed only to this,
that they might be around You, Lord Christ,
and around Your poor little flock:
How necessary, indeed, is this protection
in the face of Satan’s wrath and power?

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.


George Washington Rallies the Troops

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:49 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Today, the two-hundred-eighty-eighth anniversary of the birth of George Washington, we celebrate the life of the Indispensable Man, first among our Founding Fathers. This has become a site tradition since I began guest blogging here. Here is a brief archive of past Washington’s Birthday posts:

2015 – George Washington’s Birthday
2016 – George Washington Quiets the Rebellion
2017 – George Washington Fears for His Country’s Future
2018 – George Washington Agrees to Serve Another Term
2019 – George Washington Goes Back to His Farm

By the spring of 1778, the American War for Independence was into its third year, and participants could be forgiven for believing that the conflict was thus far largely a stalemate. True, the Continental Army had two Christmases ago made a bold crossing of the Delaware River and attacked and routed mercenary Hessian armies and British regulars at both Trenton and Princeton, and then during the previous summer the ragtag group perpetually on the brink of disbanding had rallied to win a decisive victory at Bemis Heights near Saratoga, killing roughly seven percent of the British forces and capturing the rest. But His Majesty’s troops still held New York and Philadelphia, the two largest cities in America, and the Continental Army was recovering from a brutal winter in Valley Forge, perpetually underfunded and continually subject to desertion.

But the Americans would receive two breaks in the first four months of 1778: in early February a treaty of alliance between the United States and France was signed in Paris (word of the alliance would reach North America by May), and in April General William Howe received word that His Majesty George III had granted his request that he be relieved of command and replaced by Henry Clinton. Believing that the French Navy would target New York City, General Clinton was instructed by Whitehall to send British troops from Philadelphia to reinforce New York as well as to evacuate Loyalist families. This would set the stage for a summer battle which — though not decisive — would do much to enhance the legend of General George Washington.

In June of that year, General Washington sent General Charles Lee and his men to engage and harass the rear guard of Clinton’s army as it made its way along Monmouth Road through New Jersey. The Redcoats camped near the Monmouth Courthouse in present-day Freehold Borough (the future hometown of Bruce Springsteen). On the morning of the sweltering hot summer day of June 28, the order was dispatched to Lee’s army, camped in Englishtown about four miles away from Clinton’s troops, to move southeast and attack, while Washington made plans to move his larger army towards Monmouth for support. But Lee, who was opposed to shadowing Clinton’s army from the beginning and who by and large felt that his Commander-in-Chief was incompetent, complained of conflicting intelligence reports and refused to engage the enemy, choosing instead to fallback in the direction of Washington’s advancing army once the British began aiming cannon-fire in his direction. Confused as to why he was not hearing the sound of troop skirmishes ahead, General Washington became furious when he began to cross paths with retreating men under Lee’s command. Encountering Lee and his staff a short time later, Washington lit into his subordinate with language that few before had ever heard from the great man’s lips.

At the same moment Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis, sensing the disorganization and confusion among the rebel enemy, had ordered the rear-guard troops under his command to attack the fleeing Continentals. After dressing down Lee, Washington had precious few moments to rally the dispirited troops, exhausted after marching on a day when the temperature reached one hundred degrees. He ordered Lee to remain in that location and form his men in a defensive position, then rode into the fray to rally his troops to repel the attack. As Alexander Hamilton would later write of his mentor, “His coolness and firmness were admirable. He instantly took measures for checking the enemy’s advance, and giving time for the Army, which was very near, to form and make proper disposition.” During this key moment it was later reported that Washington rode within thirty yards of the British troops, calmly giving orders as bullets and artillery flew all about him. Due to the exertion and the stifling heat, Washington would have his horse fall over dead as he rode about the lines. Fortunately for the Americans, the heat was oppressing the British and Hessian soldiers too, and they soon departed the field. Though the British would continue on their way to New York, their armies had lost 245 men (60 of them dead from heat stroke) with 170 wounded while the Americans lost fewer than half that number (including 37 dead from heat stroke) with 130 wounded.

In a chaotic environment, George Washington’s bravery and fortitude had delivered his men a military draw but a psychological victory, continuing the momentum that had begun at Saratoga the previous summer. At the same time he managed to rid himself of a rival — Charles Lee was soon to be court-martialed — who had been undermining the Commander-in-Chief since the start of the war. Washington had, in the words of the Marquise de Lafayette, “arrest[ed] fortune with but one glance.” Hamilton would later declare, “I never saw the General to such advantage.” Writing to his brother John Augustine Washington on the second anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Great Man described the previous week’s battle as “a glorious and happy day.”


Reports On Nevada Caucus: It’s Bernie

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:38 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This isn’t surprising:

Bernie Sanders scored a resounding victory in Nevada’s presidential caucuses on Saturday, cementing his status as the Democrats’ national front-runner amid escalating tensions over whether he’s too liberal to defeat President Donald Trump.


The win built on Sanders’ win earlier this month in the New Hampshire primary. He essentially tied for first place in the Iowa caucuses with Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has sought to position himself as an ideological counter to Sanders’ unabashed progressive politics, but was fighting for a distant second place in Nevada.

(*Candidate totals are county convention delegates won, which are derived from caucus vote tallies and determine the number of pledged delegates each candidate receives.)

This seems about right:

Also, there’s some chatter about Bernie Sanders selecting Stacy Abrams to be his running mate if he takes the nomination. But there is also chatter about Elizabeth Warren. Somehow, though, it doesn’t seem likely that a female candidate who accused Sanders of saying that a woman couldn’t win a presidential election would want to play second-fiddle to him…

I’m wondering whether the remaining Democratic candidates are kicking themselves for having gone full-throttle after Michael Bloomberg at the last debate instead of pounding frontrunner Bernie Sanders? After all, Bloomberg wasn’t even on the Nevada ballot.


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:00 am

[guest post by Dana]

Feel free to talk about anything you think is newsworthy or might interest readers.

I’ll start.

First news item:

Harry Reid meh about a brokered convention:

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday said it was possible the crowded Democratic primary race was headed toward a contentious convention fight and downplayed the political dangers of a scenario many party leaders are dreading.

“I don’t think we’ll have one, but we could have one,” Reid told The Associated Press in an interview days before the Democratic caucuses in his home state of Nevada. “We’ve had brokered conventions before, and we’ve always come up with good candidates. It’s not the end of the world. It just slows the process down.”

More here, including thoughts on Bernie Sanders:

“Let’s say that he has 35 percent. Well, 65 percent he doesn’t have, or that person doesn’t have. I think that we have to let the system work its way out. I do not believe anyone should get the nomination unless they have 50-[percent]-plus-one… A lot people in the race still, but they’ll be dropping off quick, because the money is running out. So I think you’re going to have the field winnowing fairly quickly. And you have most of the people who are not Bernie Sanders, are people who are moderates, and maybe they’ll work something out to get together and try to find that one person who can come up with the number of delegates… I just don’t think you can give the nomination to somebody who has 65 percent of the people that made a different decision.”

Second news item:

No wonder a woman can’t get elected to the presidency: Elizabeth Warren, who has railed against Big Money in politics, now blames men for accepting Big Money donations to her campaign. :

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) changed her tune on the nefarious influence of super PACs just days after receiving the backing of a newly formed PAC, telling reporters on Thursday that because “all of the men” in the race refused to rely entirely on individual donors, she shouldn’t be expected to either.

“It can’t be the case that a bunch of people keep them and only one or two don’t,” she said.

Warren, speaking to reporters in Nevada, tried to square her past disavowals of super PAC funding with her refusal to disavow a new PAC that made a $1 million television ad buy on her behalf this week. She argued that because she failed to convince other candidates to commit to her proposal of no PAC funding, she was forced to accept PAC support.

“The first day I got in this race, over a year ago, I said ‘I hope every presidential candidate who comes in will agree — no Super PACs for any of us,” Warren explained. “I renewed that call dozens of times, and I couldn’t get a single Democrat to go along with me.

Third news item:

An indictment against public education? An endorsement of Sporcle?

Fourth news item:

USC begins to waive tuition costs for some students:

USC announced Thursday that it will be waiving all tuition fees for any student who comes from a family that makes less than $80,000.

Starting with students entering their first year this fall, not only will students from households with an annual income below $80,000 be able to attend tuition-free but also owning a home will not be counted when determining a student’s financial need.

“We’re opening the door wider to make a USC education possible for talented students from all walks of life,” University President Carol Folt said in a statement. Folt was brought in in March on the heels of the “Varsity Blues” scandal, where dozens of wealthy parents were charged with illegally influencing undergraduate admissions decisions at top American universities including, most famously, at the University of Southern California.

Fifth news item:

No brainer:

Spurred by a police chief, Minnesota lawmakers launched a drive Thursday to remove from the state constitution a clause allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crimes.

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell, who had been bothered by the language for some time, made it his new year’s resolution to get it deleted. He found a sympathetic ear in St. Paul Democratic Rep. John Lesch, who will get a hearing Tuesday on his proposal asking voters in November to remove the offending language from the constitution.

The bill of rights in the 1857 Minnesota Constitution says “there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state otherwise than as punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted.” The amendment would strike the punishment exception, leaving a total ban in place.

“It’s inappropriate that language mentioning slavery still exists in our constitution, even if’s narrowly constructed and, some would say, obsolete,” Lesch said at a news conference…

What, was there no Republican “sympathetic ear” to be found? Oh, wait, let’s read the last two paragraphs:

The proposal seems likely to win support in the Democratic-controlled House. It’s being sponsored in the Republican-controlled Senate by Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, an African American from Minneapolis, who is hopeful he can persuade Senate leaders to take it up. No organized opposition has emerged.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said at a separate news conference Thursday that he’s “certainly willing to take a look at it.”

Have a great weekend.



Tucker Carlson: Judge Amy Berman Jackson Lied, And Should Be Impeached

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:53 pm

[guest post by Dana]

[Note from JVW: At Dana’s request I made a post-publication edit to the post to add the judge’s full name in the headline and first paragraph.]

Lest you think nobody pays attention to the Fox News host, consider that he recently had a single monthly total audience of 3.4 million viewers on the consistently highest-rated basic cable channel.

Anyway, Carlson had harsh words for Judge Berman Jackson, and called for her to be impeached:

“Stone’s sentence was delivered by an Obama-appointed judge called Amy Berman Jackson. Now you often hear people complain that our justice system has been infected by politics. Amy Berman Jackson is living proof that it has been,” declared Carlson during his monologue, calling Jackson an “open partisan who has so flagrantly violated the bounds of constitutional law and fairness that it’s shocking she’s still on the bench.”

“If there’s anyone in Washington that deserves to be impeached, it’s Amy Berman Jackson,” he continued, before criticizing the judge’s decision to place Rick Gates and Paul Manafort under house arrest during their trials despite the fact that they “are middle-aged men with no criminal history.”

“Jackson wanted to punish Gates and Manafort before they were even convicted of anything, and she did. Ultimately she revoked Manafort’s bail and placed him in jail in solitary confinement. But Jackson reserved her real fury for Roger Stone,” claimed Carlson. “At sentencing today, she declared that Stone was ‘prosecuted for covering up for the president.’ Now, CNN let the claim pass without comment, but anybody who had been watching was baffled because that’s totally untrue.”

Carlson explained, “Nobody connected to the president has ever been charged with a crime related to spying for Russia or colluding with Russia, much less convicted of one. Stone wasn’t charged with covering up anything. That was not the charge. That is not what he was sentenced for.”

“Amy Jackson knows that. She lied about it,” he concluded. “In other words, here you have a federal judge lying about the case before her. Scary? Yes, it is scary.”


Free Speech And Ridicule Law Under Microscope At U Of Connecticut

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:37 am

[guest post by Dana]

The AP reports:

Free speech concerns that were raised following the arrests of two University of Connecticut students accused of saying a racial slur have led state legislators to consider repealing a century-old law that bans ridicule based on race, religion or nationality.

The episode on campus involving two white students in October was recorded on video and sparked protests against racism. Many people applauded their arrests, but civil liberties groups condemned them as an affront to First Amendment rights.

Police said the students, Jarred Karal and Ryan Mucaj, uttered the racial slur several times while walking through the parking lot of a campus apartment complex and were recorded by a black student. They said that they were playing a game that involved saying offensive words and that it was not directed at anyone in particular.

They were charged under a 1917 law that makes it a misdemeanor for anyone who “ridicules or holds up to contempt any person or class of persons, on account of the creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race of such person or class of persons.”

Legislation to repeal the law is in the works, and a public hearing on the matter is scheduled for today.

Penalties for the ridicule charge can include up to 30 days in jail.

Opposing views include:

“It is so clearly unconstitutional under the First Amendment that it’s hard to believe that it’s still on the books,” said William Dunlap, a professor at the Quinnipiac University School of Law in North Haven, Connecticut. “It punishes speech based on the content of the speech, and that it is one of the key concepts of the First Amendment — that the government cannot punish speech based on its content.”

…and from the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, who have asked the repeal law be rejected:

At a time when hate and bias incidents are on the rise, it is critical that the state not remove these types of prohibitions that aim to deter or punish this unacceptable behavior.

Meanwhile, a federal lawsuit has been filed by the two students against the university. They claim that their free speech rights have been violated.

More speech, not less.


Amy Berman Jackson’s Comments: A Rare (These Days) Vindication of the Rule of Law (For Now)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:49 am

Judge Amy Berman Jackson, during Roger Stone’s sentencing hearing, made some eye-opening comments that I want to highlight. Some of it had to do with the Justice Department’s extraordinary reversal, and her desire to put the lawyers on the hot seat as a result. From the account in the New York Times:

“As I understand it, you are representing the United States of America,” she told John Crabb Jr., an assistant United States attorney, with a trace of sarcasm. “I fear you know less about the case, saw less of the testimony and exhibits than just about every other person in this courtroom.”

“Is there anything you would like to say about why you are the one standing here?” she asked.

Cold as ice. The story says “Mr. Crabb defended the prosecution as a ‘righteous’ effort to hold Mr. Stone to account for ‘serious’ crimes.” Extra Toady Points to Mr. Crabb for using the same word to describe the prosecution (“righteous”) that Bill Barr had used in his interview with ABC News.

Judge Jackson also said that Stone was prosecuted for “covering for” Trump:

In biting tones, Judge Jackson dismissed any notion that the case lacked merit.

She said that Mr. Stone hindered a congressional inquiry of national importance because the truth would have embarrassed the president and his 2016 campaign. The documentary evidence alone, she said, proved that Mr. Stone deceived the House Intelligence Committee about his efforts to obtain information from WikiLeaks about Democratic emails that had been stolen by Russian operatives who sought to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“He was not prosecuted, as some have complained, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president,” the judge said. In government inquiries, she added, “the truth still exists. The truth still matters.” Otherwise, she said, “everyone loses.”

This does not mean that she is saying Trump conspired with the Russian government in a manner that is prosecutable, but it does mean that the Trump campaign (specifically Steve Bannon and Rick Gates) had contacts with Wikileaks, through Stone and his confederates. And Stone wanted to cover that up, at least on behalf of Donald Trump’s political well being, if not because he thought a crime had been committed.

Judge Jackson also made it clear that the original recommendation was entirely consistent with DoJ policy. And the prosecutor agreed:

I don’t have time this morning to do a detailed post about how the Justice Department backed off of its revised memo on the Roger Stone sentencing in favor of positions taken in the initial memo that so upset Bill Barr and Donald Trump. Maybe this weekend if I feel motivated and there’s interest. Suffice it to quote from the linked Hill article:

On Thursday … Justice Department prosecutor John Crabb, a recent addition to Stone’s case, defended the original memorandum and a key argument for imposing a stiffer sentence.

“It was done in good faith,” Crabb told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, before she handed down Stone’s sentence.

. . . .

Crabb also supported a key portion of the original sentencing recommendation that was based in part on Stone’s conduct toward Randy Credico, a comedian and radio host who testified at the trial.

. . . .

[O]n Thursday, Crabb told Jackson that the Justice Department stood behind its initial judgment that the threat against Credico should increase the severity of Stone’s sentence.

“Our position is this enhancement applies,” Crabb said. “And we ask the court to apply it.”

That enhancement was the key enhancement that increased the original recommendation by several years. Following two livetweet feeds of the proceedings, I was stunned to see this concession. It seems that the Justice Department is trying to regain the credibility it has blown through this fiasco. Not so fast, fellas. That’s going to take a lot of time, a new Attorney General, a new President, and even more time still.

Anyone who says the lower sentence “vindicates” Trump or Barr either didn’t read the original memo, has their thinking clouded by partisan views, or both. I predicted 30 months purely based on the original memo, and that was low. The original memo made it clear that there were countervailing factors. It was not difficult to read between the lines and Judge Jackson made it clear that she had not discounted the original memo — which, she noted, had never actually been withdrawn by the government.

All in all, a tawdry episode that will continue to repeat itself as long as Donald Trump is the president. He can’t leave fast enough.


Trump, Russia, And The 2020 Presidential Campaign (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:20 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Here we go – again:

Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, five people familiar with the matter said, a disclosure to Congress that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.

The day after the Feb. 13 briefing to lawmakers, Mr. Trump berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place, people familiar with the exchange said. Mr. Trump cited the presence in the briefing of Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who led the impeachment proceedings against him, as a particular irritant.

During the briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Trump’s allies challenged the conclusions, arguing that he has been tough on Russia and strengthened European security. Some intelligence officials viewed the briefing as a tactical error, saying that had the official who delivered the conclusion spoken less pointedly or left it out, they would have avoided angering the Republicans.


Mr. Trump has long accused the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s 2016 interference as the work of a “deep-state” conspiracy intent on undermining the validity of his election. Intelligence officials feel burned by their experience after the last election, where their work became subject of intense political debate and is now a focus of a Justice Department investigation.

Part of the president’s anger over the intelligence briefing stemmed from the administration’s reluctance to provide sensitive information to Mr. Schiff. He has been a leading critic of Mr. Trump since 2016, doggedly investigating Russian election interference and later leading the impeachment inquiry into the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

After asking about the briefing that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and other agencies gave to the House, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Schiff would “weaponize” the intelligence about Russia’s support for him, according to a person familiar with the briefing. And he was angry that no one had told him sooner about the briefing, the person said.

None of this should be surprising. Remember this:

In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign, she tried to focus the White House on one of her highest priorities as homeland security secretary: preparing for new and different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election.

President Trump’s chief of staff told her not to bring it up in front of the president.

Ms. Nielsen left the Department of Homeland Security early this month after a tumultuous 16-month tenure and tensions with the White House. Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids.

But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”

Ms. Nielsen grew so frustrated with White House reluctance to convene top-level officials to come up with a governmentwide strategy that she twice pulled together her own meetings of cabinet secretaries and agency heads. They included top Justice Department, F.B.I. and intelligence officials to chart a path forward, many of whom later periodically issued public warnings about indicators that Russia was both looking for new ways to interfere and experimenting with techniques in Ukraine and Europe.

One senior official described homeland security officials as adamant that the United States government needed to significantly step up its efforts to urge the American public and companies to block foreign influence campaigns. But the department was stymied by the White House’s refusal to discuss it, the official said.

Oh, and FYI:

UPDATE: Jake Tapper posted this earlier today:

A national security official I know and trust pushes back on the way the briefing/ODNI story is being told, and others with firsthand knowledge agree with his assessment.

2/ “What’s been articulated in the news is that the intelligence community has concluded that the Russians are trying to help Trump again. But the intelligence doesn’t say that,” the official says…

3/ “The problem is Shelby” — Pierson, the elections threats executive in the intelligence community — “said they developed a preference for Trump. A more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it’s a step short of that….

4/ “It’s more that they understand the president is someone they can work with, he’s a dealmaker. But not that they prefer him over Sanders or Buttigieg or anyone else. So it may have been mischaracterized by Shelby” at the House Intel briefing last week…

5/ “And by the way,” the official says, “both Democrats and Republicans were challenging this at the briefing.” Then there’s the matter of the tense meeting between President Trump and erstwhile Acting Director of National Intelligence Admiral Maguire…

6/ “The President was upset that he had to hear about an intelligence conclusion from a Member of the House Republicans rather than from the intelligence community. So he was out of joint with Maguire on that process.”

7/ None of this disputes that Trump desires to replace those who have Intel expertise with partisan loyalists, or dismisses the larger issues and concerns about Russia and how the president seeks help from abroad. Just that there seems to be more to this particular story.

ALSO none of this disputes that the Russians (and others) are attempting to interfere in the US election again.



My Prediction for the Roger Stone Sentence: 30 Months; UPDATE: Maybe Not

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:14 pm

I predict 30 months. I don’t think she’s going to impose the eight-level enhancement for the threats to Credico — and his little dog too. For sure, I don’t think she will impose the two-level enhancement for his social media shenanigans. I think she will see the other two-level and three-level enhancements as overlapping and will impose only the three-level enhancement of those two. Instead of offense level 29, I’m thinking offense level 17: a range of 24-30 months, and she imposes the sentence at the top of the range.

It could go as high as 37 months. So my range is 24-37 months, with my prediction being 30 months.

We’ll find out tomorrow.

Trump is going to pardon him anyway.

UPDATE: The sentencing hearing is going on now but I would be surprised at this point, based on what I have been reading, if the judge gives a sentence as low as I had predicted. It looks like she is inclined to hammer Stone — and the Government as well, for the fiasco involved in submitting two different memos. You will be reading a lot more about this hearing in the news today.

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