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Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim Rep. Nunes Vindicated Trump’s Wiretap Lie

  • So, when President Trump tweeted that he was tapped by President Obama, he might not have been far off.
  • House Intelligence Committee Chairman Says Trump Aides Were Under “Incidental” Surveillance
  • House Intelligence Committee Chairman: Trump Transition Aides Were Surveilled.
  • Members of the Donald Trump transition team, possibly including Trump himself, were under U.S.
Media Matters for America / Media Matters | March 22, 2017, 8:19 pm

When Small Groups Of People Shut Down Controversial Speakers On Campuses

  • The SJP chapter made a terrible mistake by disinviting Khalek and allowing a faction to “no-platform” her.
  • But the victory comes at the cost of freedom of expression on a college university campus.
  • This is a tactic, which pro-Israel groups wield to suppress Palestinian solidarity activism.
  • Intense backlashes occur against those who question whether reactionary people should engage in such campaigns, however, the fact is if the rights of right-wing authoritarians to speak on campuses are defended, it will be harder for the right-wing to justify shutting down speaking events with left-wing speakers, who promote struggles for liberation to an extent that may deeply offend conservatives.
Kevin Gosztola / Shadowproof | March 22, 2017, 8:07 pm

Trump Jr. Attacks Mayor Of London After Terror Attack

  • This continued an ongoing theme in the Trump family of attacking major US allies (but not Russia).
  • Also last week, White House spokesman Sean Spicer openly accused the British government of illegally spying on Trump during the campaign.
  • And now we have Trump’s son criticizing a top US ally’s terrorism strategy on the day that ally is under attack.
  • With the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.
John Aravosis / AMERICAblog | March 22, 2017, 8:06 pm

CNN Reports FBI May Have Proof Of Collusion Between Russia And Trump Campaign

  • The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, US officials told CNN.
  • On Monday, many Republicans were behaving as if they expected FBI Director Comey to vindicate Donald Trump, if not on the wiretapping tweets, then at least on the idea that there was an active investigation of connections between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence.
  • And just two days later, we’re near the point of something absolutely massive.
  • The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. (Mark Sumner) / Daily Kos | March 22, 2017, 7:52 pm

Schiff: 'There Is More Than Circumstantial Evidence Now'

Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said MSNBC Wednesday afternoon that there is evidence that is “not circumstantial” of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Schiff’s statement escalates the rhetoric on Capitol Hill about allegations of ties between Russia and the president’s circle. It follows two major developments. On Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that his bureau is investigating collusion. Then, on Wednesday, Representative Devin Nunes, the chair of the House intelligence committee, made a puzzling announcement about so-called incidental collection of information from Trump team members. Nunes made that announcement without informing Schiff first.

Schiff was furious. During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, he cast doubt on whether the House investigation was still viable.

“The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both,” Schiff said. “Unfortunately I think the actions of today throw great doubt in the ability of the both the chairman and the committee to conduct the investigation the way it ought to be conducted.”

Then Schiff went on Meet the Press Daily, where Chuck Todd asked him about statements by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump team and Russia. Schiff disagreed with Clapper.

“I don't think it was deliberate on the director’s part, but all I can tell you is reviewing the evidence that I have, I don't think you can conclude that at all, far from it,” Schiff said.

A surprised Todd asked Schiff to concede that any suggestion of collusion was circumstantial evidence at best.

“Actually, no, Chuck,” Schiff said. “I can tell you that the case is more than that. And I can't go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now … I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial, and is very much worthy of investigation.”

That is a surprising statement. Thus far, inquiries into Trump and Russia by both the press and the intelligence community have created a great deal of smoke but no fires, at least publicly. Some Democrats have implied or stated outright that they believe there was collusion, leading to accusations that they are overplaying their hand and overstating the available evidence.

But Schiff’s comment is different. He is both the ranking member on the intelligence committee, and is also not seen as the type of politician prone to hyperbole. He is also a former federal prosecutor.

As Wednesday draws to a close, the top Republican and Democrat on the committee investigating Russian collusion have erupted into a round of bitter recriminations. One of them is almost certainly overplaying his hand. Which man that is remains to be seen.

GOP House Chair Creates Outrageous Farce To Save Trump, Attack Obama

  • House Intelligence Committee chair Devon Nunes, who is a huge Trump ally who helped Trump on his transition, has just gone public with what appears to be blockbuster news: US intelligence picked up communications involving the Trump transition.
  • While initially wow-worthy, it appears that once again Nunes is providing a distraction for Trump’s disastrous week, rather than doing his job.
  • Nunes is all over TV claiming that members of Trump’s transition — and possibly Trump himself, but possibly not (in other words, Nunes doesn’t know) — were caught up in “incidental collection” of ongoing National Security Agency intercepts.
  • Nunes says that there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with the incidental collection itself.
John Aravosis / AMERICAblog | March 22, 2017, 6:05 pm

Former House Intel Chief Counsel: Rep. Nunes' Actions Were A Breakdown Of The Oversight Process

  • BRIAN WILLIAMS (HOST): Jeremy Bash, the president is at the top of the intelligence food chain.
  • JEREMY BASH: Brian, I served as chief counsel of the House intelligence committee, and I think in 40 years of the committee's existence, since the post-Watergate era reforms with the Church and Pike committees that emerged from those scandals, I have never heard of a chairman of an oversight committee going to brief the president of the United States about concerns he has about things he's read in intelligence reports. The job of the committee is to do oversight over the executive branch. Not to bring them into their investigation or tip them off to things they may be looking at. And I've got to believe that other members of the committee are horrified at what they just witnessed. This is a chairman who is supposed to be doing an impartial, bipartisan investigation of the president and his inner circle. Instead, he goes and basically tells the president and his team everything he knows. It's very concerning, particularly when what he is saying is that the collection was lawful, it was court ordered by lifetime federal judges against valid foreign intelligence targets, that the reports generated by the nonpartisan, nonpolitical intelligence community were of foreign intelligence value. And then he goes and tries to make this into a political cover story for the president's tweet storm two Saturdays ago and potentially reveals to the president things about the committee's existing investigation. This is a true breakdown, Brian, in the entire oversight process. ​
  •  FBI Director Puts To Rest Two Weeks Of Fox Lies About Trump's False Wiretap Claim
  • Report: FBI Investigating Russian Operatives Using Bots To Spread Stories From Breitbart, RT, Infowars
Media Matters for America / Media Matters | March 22, 2017, 5:17 pm

Former Trump Campaign Manager Worked To Help Putin

  • The Associated Press is reporting that former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had a previously undisclosed business relationship with a Russian oligarch in which he worked to advance the interests and reputation of Russian President Vladimir Putin:
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned.
  • Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W.
  • Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP.
Doug Mataconis / Outside The Beltway | March 22, 2017, 4:57 pm

Ryan Sics Capitol Police On Disabled Protesters Fighting Trumpcare

  • Taking that almost $900 billion out of Medicaid now gives him the chance to give even deeper tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations in the tax legislation he has coming up next.
  • He says that—loud and clear: "And so yes, it is important that we get this [the health plan] done so that we can do tax reform.
  • And that's what those brave people getting arrested in the Capitol Rotunda are fighting. (Joan McCarter) / Daily Kos | March 22, 2017, 4:48 pm

Spicer: You May Not Be Able To Keep Your Doctor Under TrumpCare

  • White House spokesman Sean Spicer just said that under TrumpCare you won’t necessarily be able to keep your doctor, and he won’t promise it.
  • Spicer appeared to contradict Donald Trump’s comments earlier today, that one of the problems with ObamaCare was not being able to keep your doctor.
  • Here’s Trump today: “Keep your doctor, keep your plan — it didn’t work out that way, you don’t get your doctor, you don’t get your plan.
  • Spicer: You may not be able to keep doctor under TrumpCare –
John Aravosis / AMERICAblog | March 22, 2017, 4:03 pm

Israel’s Apartheid Status Puts United States In Tenuous Position

  • That incident comes just a few months after the out-going Obama Administration allowed a resolution to pass the U.N.
  • While the Trump Administration blasted the ESCWA report, Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, justified the U.S.’ refusal to veto the settlement resolution with a rambling speech about the need for a two-state solution and a peace process.
  • Of course, every time Israel gets labeled an “apartheid regime”—officially and unofficially—U.S.
Dan Wright / Shadowproof | March 22, 2017, 3:58 pm

Conservatives Tell Trump: We'll Sink The Republican Healthcare Bill

When President Trump summoned Representative Ted Yoho and about a dozen other lawmakers to the White House on Wednesday to hear a direct, presidential pitch for the House Republican healthcare bill, the Florida conservative told Trump what he wanted: a “100 percent repeal” of the Affordable Care Act.

Like most of his fellow members of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, Yoho believes the party leadership’s American Health Care Act doesn’t go far enough in dismantling the law former President Barack Obama signed seven years ago this week. The group is now playing a game of high-stakes chicken with the White House and Speaker Paul Ryan, vowing they have the votes to defeat the Trump-endorsed plan and hand the new president an embarrassing loss in his first major legislative push.

The bill guts Obamacare’s insurance mandates and repeals most of its tax increases, but it leaves key parts of its architecture in place. As the GOP plan barrels toward a House vote on Thursday, conservatives are urging Speaker Paul Ryan to agree to changes that would strip out Obamacare’s requirement that insurance plans cover certain “essential health benefits,” which include maternity and newborn care, mental health treatment, and preventive services.

“As long as that’s there, we do not have a repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” Yoho told me at the Capitol on Wednesday. He told Trump that if GOP leaders repealed the essential health benefits provision as part of their bill, it would be “really close” to getting his vote.

The president smiled, Yoho recalled. “We’ll see what we can do,” Trump told the congressman.

When he returned to the Capitol, Yoho was still a no.

So were the bulk of the roughly two dozen members of the Freedom Caucus who left a separate White House meeting with Vice President Mike Pence empty-handed and defiant. They were unmoved both by Trump’s warning of political fallout on Tuesday and by the vice president’s more policy-focused plea on Wednesday.

Pence, along with several senior Trump aides at the meeting, rejected the conservatives’ push either to “start over” on repealing Obamacare or a least to add language stripping out the law’s essential health benefits. “They steeled our resolve by their unwillingness to lower premiums on hard-pressed American families,” Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama told reporters afterward. “If they want to bring it up for a vote, we’ll vote it down.”

Just how many votes there were for the leadership’s bill was a source of debate throughout the Capitol on Wednesday. Brooks and other conservatives declared there were plenty more than the 21 or 22 Republican defections they needed to defeat the measure and, they hoped, force the leadership back to the bargaining table. “Right now, you’re seeing a gain in the no votes and a subtraction from the yes votes as more and more Republican congressmen communicate with their constituents back home,” Brooks said.

Allies of the speaker claimed the opposite. They said that over the course of a flurry of meetings on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, they were getting closer and closer to a majority of the House. Depending on absences on Thursday, Ryan will need either 215 or 216 Republicans to back the bill, given the unified Democratic opposition. “We’re pretty close,” said Representative Richard Hudson of North Carolina, a member of the leadership’s whip team. “We’re seeing a lot of folks who are getting comfortable enough to say yes or getting close.”

In an appearance on Fox News, Ryan said GOP leaders were “adding votes, not losing them,” and he claimed that Trump had personally persuaded 10 members to support the bill. Yet the speaker notably stopped short of predicting the plan would pass on Thursday, as he had done in previous weeks.

Ryan has resisted the conservative demands to repeal the essential health benefits as part of the House bill because he and other leaders fear that the provision could sink the bill in the Senate, where strict budget reconciliation rules limit how much Republicans can change in Obamacare without the measure being subject to the 60-vote filibuster threshold. As it stands, the current bill is unlikely even to get the 51 votes it would need to pass the Senate without major changes. Republicans can only use the reconciliation process once in a single fiscal year.

“Our whole thing is we don’t want to load up our bill in such a way that it doesn’t even get considered in the Senate and it’s killed in the Senate, and then we lost our one chance with this one tool we have,” the speaker told the radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday morning.

Ryan and administration has tried to assuage conservatives by promising that Senate Republicans would try to add more repeal provisions once the House passes its version. “That’s unsatisfying,” Brooks said.

With just over 24 hours before Thursday’s vote, neither House conservatives nor the White House had blinked yet. “We’re not looking at a Plan B,” Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, said. “We have Plan A, and it’s going to pass.” At the Capitol, lawmakers said last-minute changes were possible, and even Yoho voiced hope that Trump and the conservatives would strike a deal—eventually.

But leadership allies and GOP aides said that Ryan planned to call up the bill on Thursday regardless of whether it would pass.

“If we don’t have the votes,” Hudson told me, “it’s going down tomorrow.”

TV News Coverage Of Trump’s Policies Overwhelmed By His Wiretapping Lie

  • Broadcast and cable news coverage of ruinous economic policies rolled out by the White House last week was overwhelmed by the president’s false accusation that his predecessor illegally wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election.
  • On March 13, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that up to 24 million Americans would lose access to health insurance over the next 10 years if the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare goes into effect.
  • Yet according to Media Matters research, from March 13 to 17, President Donald Trump’s false wiretap claim dominated TV news coverage, overshadowing discussion of these important policy moves.
  • Trump ignited a media firestorm in early March when he repeatedly accused former President Barack Obama of illegally wiretapping him in the midst of last year's election.
Media Matters for America / Media Matters | March 22, 2017, 2:16 pm

WSJ Op-ed Blasts Trump While Manafort/Russia Scandal Worsens

  • A blistering anti-Trump editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal proves the Resistance is alive and well, and working.
  • I’d argued early on that the best way to undermine Trump’s presidency was to undermine Trump personally, by targeting his fragile psyche.
  • What I didn’t realize was how easy it would be to play Trump, and how quickly he would descend into a very public madness.
  • The editorial is behind a paywall, but I can share a bit from the piece, titled “A President’s Credibility”:
John Aravosis / AMERICAblog | March 22, 2017, 1:59 pm

At This Rate, We’ll All Be Dead Before Our Country Truly Fixes Health Care

  • Republicans will soon vote on a health care plan that will have terrible consequences for vulnerable Americans while cutting taxes for the rich.
  • How many more rounds of tinkering with for-profit healthcare will Americans endure before the United States adopts a system that covers everyone, like other countries?
  • We need journalism that cuts through spin from Republicans and Democrats and clarifies how proposals will truly impact us.
  • Shadowproof is raising $3,000 to fund such critical journalism by policy analyst Jon Walker and movement reporter Roqayah Chamseddine.
Kevin Gosztola / Shadowproof | March 22, 2017, 1:55 pm