Drip, drip, drip . . . .

Just as water drip, drip, drips on a stone, eventually wearing it away, so the investigations are slowly eroding Trump’s lies about his connections to Russia . . .

Courtesy of the New York Times:  

With questions still swirling over President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that he was wiretapped on orders of President Barack Obama, the Justice Department on Thursday declined to confirm statements a day earlier from the White House that Mr. Trump was not the target of a counterintelligence investigation.

Officials also said the White House had not relied on any information from the Justice Department in offering a statement denying the existence of an investigation.

The White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, told reporters on Wednesday that “there is no reason to believe there is any type of investigation with respect to the Department of Justice” or “ that the president is the target of any investigation whatsoever.”

But a Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that there was no indication that anyone at the Justice Department had given the White House that assurance.

Asked whether Mr. Trump was in fact the target of an investigation, the official offered a “no comment.”

Okay so the Justice Department officials make a point of saying that the White House’s denial of an investigation was not cleared through them, and then when asked if there is indeed an investigation they refuse to comment.

Gee I can’t imagine what we should surmise from that.

In another totally unrelated story FBI Director James Comey had a private meeting with several lawmakers in Washington this afternoon:

FBI Director James Comey spent Thursday afternoon on Capitol Hill meeting with the eight lawmakers who have access to the most highly classified information, sources told CNN.

Comey was scheduled to meet with the House members of the so-called Gang of Eight at 5 p.m., and he met earlier in the afternoon with the senators in the group — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence committee, Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Democrat Mark Warner respectively.

The House members include House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and House Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff.

Comey’s visit comes after Schiff accused the FBI director of stonewalling House members in a briefing last week and both Schiff and Nunes aired their concerns that Comey had been withholding information from the group through last year.

And in yet another TOTALLY unrelated story we learn this:

The Senate Intelligence Committee has been given sweeping powers, unseen since the Watergate era, to investigate Russian meddling in the US election.

Have to imagine that Trump is really starting to feel that noose tightening.

 

Trump goes into hiding — shuts out press for next few days (and maybe longer)

Republican members of Congress aren’t the only ones hiding out from the media and constituents. Donald Trump is so incapable of answering even the most basic questions about health care and foreign policy, not to mention his own accusations of illegal wiretapping, that his handlers have closed off his events to the press this week. From CNN:

President Donald Trump has canceled multiple open press events this week, opting not to let reporters into the room to ask questions.

The moves have allowed the president to avoid questions about a litany of issues, including the Wikileaks CIA dump and Trump’s accusation — made without evidence — that former President Obama had wiretapped him in Trump Tower.

Their excuse for not allowing the press was as weak as this president:

White House deputy press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the cancellations “were game time decisions” made by her.

“I determined the rooms were too full to accommodate press and equipment,” she told CNNMoney. “I’m sure many of your colleagues could attest to this AM’s spray and how packed the room was.”

And if you believe that, Trump has some ocean property in Arizona to sell you. Maybe they could, I don’t know, find a bigger room? Ask the other living presidents how they managed to do such things with the Free Press present? Sounds as if his staff thinks they can hide him away, send out a barrage of press releases of Dear Leaders great work and then prop him back up and change the subject with a Donald Trump 2020 campaign rally in Tennessee next week.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked twice about the Nashville event at a Thursday briefing with media but declined to discuss details, instead directing questions to the campaign.

It’s noteworthy that Trump’s only appearances outside of D.C. have been in Florida, South Carolina and now Tennessee. President Coward is afraid to go north of that Mason-Dixon line where he is sure to get a proper welcome from the resistance. If Trump and the Paul Ryan Republicans succeed in taking away health care from the millions of Trump voters in the South, as they intend to do, there won’t be many places left for him to tap into those adoring Southern crowds. Bless his heart.

D.C. Area contractors suing Trump for work done on his D.C. hotel

Becoming so-called president doesn’t mean Donald Trump has changed his ways: he’s still stiffing the contractors who work on his construction projects. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.’s Old Post Office Building is perhaps Trump’s highest-profile recent project, but the attention focused on it hasn’t made the Trump Organization pay its bills. Five contractors have sued for a total of nearly $5 million in nonpayment, including Freestate Electric, a union employer that talked to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers about the suit:

“We’ve only filed three [mechanics’ liens] in the past decade, so, this is not usual for us,” said Tim Miller, executive vice president at Freestate’s parent company, AES Electric. “I want to make clear that this is not political. Whether it is Trump, or somebody you never heard of, we did a good job, at an agreed upon price and we want to be paid for it. We’d rather be talking about what an excellent job our employees did on a complex project than doing this.”

Freestate has paid its workers and vendors, so it is bearing the brunt of Trump’s habit of not paying his contractors. Anticipating his usual claim that he didn’t pay up because he wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the work, they noted that:

General contractor Lend Lease nominated Freestate for a Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship award for the lighting they installed, an award they won. So, Miller said, there is no question about the quality of the work they did, just whether they should be paid for it.

And while there were cost overruns, they were a direct result of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign:

The lawsuit claims that the $2 million in unpaid costs were incurred after the general contractor, Lend Lease, requested an acceleration of work so the hotel would be ready for a series of Trump presidential campaign events.

In order to meet the deadlines for the Sept. 12 soft opening, Freestate says they had crews on site seven days per week, 12 to 14 hours per day for nearly 50 consecutive days. The “soft opening” was scheduled for September 12th, and without Freestate’s additional manpower, this date would not have been met. The official Oct. 26 “Grand Opening” was scheduled, according to the lawsuit, “to provide an opportunity for positive press coverage for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.”

Trump doesn’t live up to his own hype on anything — but he truly is a crook and a liar.

Trump is filling Executive Branch with real wackadoodles — dangerous wackadoodles

“Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are,” goes an old Mexican saying, translated into English. These days, Donald Trump’s administration appears to be walking with a Breitbart contributor, an “ethnic cleansing” conspiracy theorist, and a reality show reject (not Trump!) who invented some sort of  “survivalist” tool to use following the collapse of society (which is super reassuring these days).

This is all according to a report detailing hundreds of new officials quietly installed across the highest reaches of the government. While high-profile trainwrecks—er, nominees like Betsy DeVos and Rick Perry have been the ones to make headlines due to Senate confirmation, “members of these so-called ‘beachhead teams’ have operated largely in the shadows, with the White House declining to publicly reveal their identities.” After a quick read, it’s no surprise they don’t want to talk about them:

Curtis Ellis was a columnist for WorldNetDaily, a website best known for its enthusiastic embrace of the false notion that President Obama born outside the United States. A column headlined the “The Radical Left’s Ethnic Cleansing of America” won Ellis an admiring interview with Steve Bannon, now Trump’s top aide. He is a longtime critic of trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Ellis was hired Jan. 20 as a special assistant to the secretary at the Labor Department. Asked about his role in a brief phone interview Tuesday, he said: “Nothing I can tell you.”

Jon Perdue, a self-described guerrilla warfare expert and fellow at a little-known security think tank, wrote a book called “The War of All the People: The Nexus of Latin American Radicalism and Middle Eastern Terrorism.” He is also a onetime contributor to Breitbart.

Perdue was featured on CNBC’s reality series “Make Me a Millionaire Inventor” for his invention, the Packbow, which Perdue came up with while studying “collapsed societies, and what people who lived in those societies came up with to either defend themselves or to survive.” It’s a bow and arrow that doubles as a compass, tent pole, walking stick, spearfishing rig, and water purification tablet receptacle.

Perdue was hired as a special assistant at the Treasury Department. The agency didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

John Jaggers ran the Trump campaign in Maryland and Virginia, where he made headlines for endorsing the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was “very, very sick and they’re covering it up.” As he put it last August: “The woman who seeks to be the first female president of the United States wears a wool coat at every single thing. Have you ever stopped to wonder why? It’s a big deal, folks.”

Jaggers was hired Jan. 20 as senior adviser at the General Services Administration, which oversees tens of billions of dollars of government procurement every year. But records show he left the job on March 3. He declined to comment.

 

Trump is running full-speed away from Trumpcare

President Donald Trump has fully embraced congressional Republicans’ proposed health care legislation, but one of his top advisers doesn’t want his name attached to it.

Appearing on Fox News Wednesday morning, top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway was asked by host Bill Hemmer if it was okay to refer to the Republicans’ proposed legislation as “Trumpcare,” just as Republicans for years referred to former President Barack Obama’s signature health care act as “Obamacare.”

Conway, however, pushed back and said that Trump’s name does not belong on the bill.

“It’s the American Health Care Act, and I think it’s aptly named that for this reason,” she explained. “It wants to cover, it wants everyone to have access to coverage, and that is something that didn’t happen under Obamacare… I’ll call it Trumpcare if you want to, but I didn’t hear President Trump say to any of us, ‘I want my name on that.’ It’s not about branding according to someone’s name. This is serious business.”

Conway went on to bash Democrats for saying that Obamacare allowed more people to have more health care access because in many cases the health plans they obtained had high deductibles and co-payments.

Several independent analysts and industry groups have concluded that Trumpcare would throw millions of people off their current insurance plans as well as raising costs for older patients who would be less able to afford coverage due to inadequate tax credits to buy insurance.

Paul Ryan uses Women’s Day to announce his intent to destroy health care for women

On Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan held a press conference to defend Republicans’ health care plan, which was widely panned across the political spectrum after its rollout Monday night. Despite criticism that the plan would deprive millions of Americans of coverage, destabilize insurance markets and unfairly burden states, Ryan praised the legislation as “monumental, exciting conservative reform.”

“This is what we’ve been dreaming about doing,” the House Speaker told reporters. It’s a “conservative wish list,” the speaker said. Ryan then ticked off parts of the legislation that should thrill conservatives, before concluding that it gets “Washington out of the business of being a nanny state.”

Unsurprisingly, Ryan’s pledge to stop nannying the American people stopped short of women’s health care choices.

“It ends funding to Planned Parenthood and sends money to community centers,” Ryan boasted. What the bill actually does is stop federal Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood—that means stripping the organization of millions in federal funds. As Vox pointed out, that would hit poor women the hardest but impact anyone that relies on Planned Parenthood’s services if clinics are forced to close as a result.

The idea that medical services offered by Planned Parenthood could be unloaded onto community centers is a popular conservative talking point. But in reality there are many problems with this plan, including the fact that community clinics don’t necessarily specialize in reproductive health services and are already burdened with more patients than they can handle.

Ryan’s pledge to defund Planned Parenthood comes on the same day as “A Day Without a Woman,” a nationwide protest highlighting the importance of women’s work. As reproductive justice advocates have long argued, women’s productivity is inextricably bound to having the freedom to decide when to start a family. Meanwhile, studies show that investing in women’s health has clear economic benefits.