Fascism: Personnel director quits in ongoing Trump purge of non-loyalists from government

Every single paragraph of this Politico report on the resignation of Office of Personnel Management (OPM) director Dale Cabaniss somehow manages to be its own special brand of terrifying.

The short version is that ex-Trump "body man" John McEntee, who Trump appointed to head the Presidential Personnel Office despite zero qualifications other than the requisite suck-up-ness, seems to have so infuriated Cabaniss that he bailed out with zero notice on Tuesday. The longer version is that McEntee and allies seem to be a rolling catastrophe, combining demands for absolute loyalty with what appears to be a fairly solid attempt to reactivate the Hitler Youth.

There are, bizarrely, now three college undergraduates moved by McEntee and crew into positions of new appointee vetting, with no good (or any) explanations from McEntee as to just why some of the most sensitive hiring decisions in government are going through Trump-loyal college seniors taking a break from doing their coursework. John Troup Hemenway, James Bacon, and Anthony Labruna are all college seniors with no apparent qualifications for their positions other than, again, Trump loyalty.

But there's also the arrival of a new "White House liaison" to the OPM, Paul Dans, who appears to be assisting McEntee in his fascist-premised purge of disloyal-to-Trump government officials but, again, has seemingly little relevant experience for his new position or duties. Reading between the lines, it appears Dans' performance so far is not impressing the people in government with actual work to do.

All of this, in other words, is becoming a complete sh-tshow in the post-impeachment days of Trump attempting to remove anyone and everyone in government who is not loyal to him while, simultaneously, a pandemic sweeps through American cities on a six-week head start due to the astonishing incompetence of Dear Leader and his boot-licking loyalists.

It doesn't seem possible to imagine how the Trump team's response to the current crisis could get worse than it currently is, but Trump's ex-soda-bringer is assembling a team to make sure it absolutely does get worse, and that anyone with subject-matter expertise who might have slipped through initial appointment cracks is quickly replaced with new, invariably compliant toadies who know better than to contradict Trump's various imaginary pronouncements about how Actually he is doing the best job of anyone who ever lived, so shut up.

Again, with no pushback from Republican lawmakers or anyone else in the party. With no worry, on the part of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate, that Trump's purge of non-loyalists will further wreck an already incompetent government response to a pandemic that could kill untold numbers of Americans. Not a peep.

Trump’s self-absorbed incompetence continues to drive federal coronavirus response

Hello there. It is whatever day of the week it is, and Donald Trump's blazing incompetence is still severely hampering a federal coronavirus response that should have been in full swing many weeks ago.

But don't worry: Things aren't as bad as they seem. The Washington Post reports,"Inside the White House, some officials privately acknowledged Monday that Trump has exacerbated the problem with his misleading and false statements, as well as his callous comments."

See there? We may have lost our only chance to keep a new coronavirus from reaching epidemic levels throughout the nation, but White House staffers are willing to at least privately acknowledge that Trump may be screwing things up, even if they aren't willing to say so publicly. Feel better? No? Huh. Well, they tried.

Since the coronavirus emerged in China, the Trump administration's response has been focused largely on massaging Donald Trump's ego. Trump did not want virus concerns to disrupt the stock market, so Trump played down those concerns. Trump went further, claiming that those warning of the virus' danger were partisans whose only aim was to damage him.

Public officials either went along with these claims or did not—and when they did not, Trump appointed Mike Pence the new head of COVID-19 communications so that the administration's messaging could be better monitored and shaped.

That initial stalling for Trump's own personal benefit may turn out to be tremendously costly. Trump's blustering press conference performance on Monday, speaking almost exclusively in economic terms before bailing from the room early, didn't help. On Tuesday the White House continued to flog economic concerns, suggesting a vague program of tax cuts would soon be revealed but being stubbornly opaque about the status of virus testing and other medical details.

The common refrain throughout from White House officials has been the “bold” and “decisive” decision-making of Dear Leader. Mike Pence lathers it on thick and heavy in every televised appearance: Every decision Dear Leader has made has been bold and decisive and not at all similar to or worse than those of a potted plant. Even now, the primary concern of Trump's White House team is the stability of the notoriously unstable Trump; all other coronavirus concerns are voiced only after the requisite cradle-rocking to soothe Trump's nerves for another few hours.

It might be self-serving on the part of the coronavirus "task force." But it also might be necessary. Trump's incompetence and unwillingness to take the epidemic threat seriously has damaged the public response, but he is still incompetent and unstable, and can still damage the public response much, much more. If he believes public health experts are not properly praising him, he can replace them with full-time toadies, as he has elsewhere in his post-impeachment sweep of insufficiently loyal public officials. If he watches Fox News and sees people being angry about containment measures affecting their lives, he can go on television or on Twitter and demand that containment measures be lessened simply because he believes the public would praise him for it.

Trump's incompetence doesn't just matter. It's the driving force behind the federal government's disaster preparedness efforts, or lack thereof.

That continues, every day. Trump's reluctance to issue an emergency declaration in Washington state, for example, is hampering state efforts to expand medical capacity.

Trump's history of bold, decisive lying matters as well. During a public health emergency in which it is vital that the public believe and listen to health officials, Trump is a literally unbelievable figure. Trump has surrounded himself with liars proven on countless occasions to be willing to lie to the public; the White House has little credibility now, regardless of its declarations. Trump has claimed that any number of world events are "fake news," a conspiracy against him. His mocking dismissals of the seriousness of the virus have already spread to his supporters; will experts be able to reverse any of that damage?

This is what Republicans voted for when they ignored Trump's self-serving behavior, even when it became criminal. This is precisely the sort of national emergency that any president can face, at any moment: Republicans either presumed that this one would not face one, or that he would rise to the occasion (he cannot), or simply made the estimation that the damage done to the nation by having a president incapable of non-self-centered calculations would be worth it, because that damage would not be done directly to them.

That's quite the risk. But they knew, from Mitch McConnell down, that they were taking it.

Fascism at CPAC, Bernie winning by being the least-weak, and more you might have missed

Doesn’t it feel like February is fully blurring together AND that it’s lasted about a decade? The New Hampshire primary was this week. THIS week. Feels like a month ago.

Anyway, here’s what you might have missed. 

Disgusted with Republicans? You don't have to wait until November—we can beat one next month

By David Nir

At moments like these, November can feel a long way off. But if you want to channel your disgust and your anger into productive action right now, there’s something you can do: Help elect union plumber Harold “Howie” Hayes to the Pennsylvania state House next month.

Of course, we can’t all help but be worried and paying attention to the huge presidential race in November, but we need to make sure that we’re fighting for progressives EVERYWHERE, ensuring that our candidates are getting the resources that they need. 

Howie’s race is particularly interesting. Please help out if you can, it’s one of the best ways that we can #resist. 

On March 17, the Keystone State will hold a special election in the 18th House District, located in the Philadelphia suburbs. The seat became vacant when its former representative won a different office last year—one of more than a dozen Republicans in the chamber who’ve decided to bail rather than seek re-election.

Better still, this area has a history of supporting Democrats at the top of the ticket: It voted for Hillary Clinton by a 53-44 margin in 2016, and supported Gov. Tom Wolf and Sen. Bob Casey by more than 20 points apiece in 2018. And here’s the key stat: Thanks to big gains two years ago, Democrats need to flip just nine seats to take control of the 203-member House this fall, despite the GOP’s extreme gerrymander. If we win in March, that figure shrinks to eight.

Sanders wins New Hampshire by being the least-weak of a suddenly weak field

By kos

In 2016, Bernie Sanders won roughly 50% of the Iowa vote (if not more; no popular vote was recorded). This year? His final vote was 26.5%, essentially halved.

In 2016, Sanders received 152,193 votes in New Hampshire in a 60-38 blowout of Hillary Clinton. This year, he barely eked out a one-point victory over small liberal college-town Mayor Pete Buttigieg, receiving only 75,690 votes, or 25.7% of the vote. Again, he lost half of his 2016 support.

Are you a Sanders supporter? Are you still on the fence? Here at Daily Kos, we are staunch Blue No Matter Who folks. That doesn’t mean that we’re not concerned about the current state of the primary. 

No white male has ever gotten 63 million votes in a presidential election. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both hit 65 million. When our nominees look like our base, we perform better. But this latent fear of the white Republican voter, stoked by Biden, did a real disservice to the women in the race.  So he stomps into the race, when no one was asking for him, damages serious, credible candidates by dint of his name recognition, and then runs the most godawful campaign of the cycle, leaving nothing but a damaged legacy in its wake. Unbelievable.

Fascism: CPAC head warns Romney to stay away, saying he would fear for senator's 'personal safety'

By Hunter

It was easy to miss in all the [raises arms, gestures broadly in all directions], but on Sunday Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Chair and aggressive Trumpophile Matt Schlapp delivered a warning of sorts to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney: Not only are you not invited to this year's CPAC, Mitt, but it could be very bad for you if you dared show up.

Romney dared to do his job and follow his sense of values and ethics. Unfortunately, if you’re a Republican, you now face serious consequences for daring to have any sense of morals. 

"We won’t credential him as a conservative. I suppose if he wants to come as a non-conservative and debate an issue with us, maybe in the future we would have him come. This year, I’d actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him," Schlapp told interviewer Greta Van Susteren.

What will Trump do if there is violence enacted toward a member of his own party who openly disagrees with him, like Romney? Do we have to look further than to remember how he treated Senator McCain? 

Indeed, CPAC is in many ways now the heart of the new Republican fascism. It has always been a den for the crackpots of the far-far-right, but that did not stop it in past years from becoming a must-stop speech location for conservative lawmakers, pundits, hangers-on and archconservative administration officials. The discussion has always been conspiratorial and angry, but in recent years has become more explicitly fascist in nature.

Great. Wonderful. Yikes. That’s no terrifying at all. …

House Judiciary Committee passes NO BAN Act to terminate Trump's Muslim ban

By Gabe Ortiz

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted 22-10 to advance the NO BAN Act, which would terminate impeached president Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, to the full House floor. Politico reports that the vote was split along party lines, with Democrats voting in favor of ending this discriminatory policy, and Republicans voting in favor of continued state-sanctioned discrimination against Muslims.

Advocates cheered the bill’s passage in committee, with the executive director of the civil rights organization Muslim Advocates, Farhana Khera, saying in a statement, “This historic bill could be the first ever passed by a chamber of Congress to specifically affirm the civil rights of American Muslims.” A hearing held by House Democrats last year on the NO BAN Act was believed to be the chamber’s first-ever hearing on Muslim civil rights.

We’re, of course, worried that this will die in the Senate. But it’s vital that the House and the rest of us activists and organizers keep up the fight. We have to show that we have better values than the current Senate and our racist wannabe fascist president.

This is how democracies die': House Democrats' flagging urgency on Barr's depravity is inexcusable

By Kerry Eleveld 

The rule of law is the very virtue that separates a democracy from a dictatorship. Though one’s ability to vote is a feature of democracy, elections are meaningless without a functional legal apparatus to safeguard them. People are allowed to cast votes in virtual dictatorships all the time, but their collective will is ultimately crushed by leaders who rig the outcomes. Without the rule of law America is doomed as a democracy, and the sanctity of the legal system is exactly what Donald Trump and his attorney general, William Barr, are working to dismantle in real time by turning the Department of Justice into a tool of the State.

This was easily the biggest story of the week here in the United States, but it is truly terrifying that it doesn’t seem to be spurring rampant national protests instantly. This is a code red.

Trump is reportedly seething after enduring three years of investigations for which he is constitutionally incapable of taking any responsibility. Sure, he called for Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016, and Russia followed suit almost immediately by hacking the Democratic National Committee. Sure, he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and withheld desperately needed funding and political backing to pressure him into doing so. But Trump is never wrong, can never be questioned, and surely has never been held accountable in his life. And now that he will carry the stain of impeachment to his grave, there’s going to be hell to pay and the nation’s top law enforcement officer has proven eager to help wherever possible.

I can not repeat myself enough here: we can not let this stand.

But this goes way beyond the interference Barr ran last year on public release of the Mueller report, which otherwise would have been devastating to Trump. Barr is now intervening in the administration of justice on multiple cases, weaponizing the Justice Department against Trump’s political enemies, and shielding Trump’s allies from the full force of the law.

The list of interventions is simply staggering. In brief, they include a relentless effort to find wrongdoing by the officials at the FBI and CIA involved with launching the Russia investigation in 2016, taking specific aim at former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe (who was already denied his pension benefits by Barr’s predecessor after decades of service at that bureau).

And on the leniency side, Barr has moved in recent weeks to lighten the punishment for two Trump loyalists and former campaign advisers, Mike Flynn and Roger Stone. In service of that goal, Barr removed the Senate-approved U.S. attorney in D.C. and replaced her in the interim with a close ally from his office, Timothy Shea, who has gladly done Barr’s bidding. Shea is the guy who earlier this week signed off on overruling the sentencing recommendations made by the four federal prosecutors on Stone’s case who have all since resigned in protest. While all these actions are indefensible, Barr’s interference with the sentencing recommendations of a Trump ally was so unprecedented that it has elicited an outcry from a groundswell of former federal prosecutors and Justice Department officials.

We are living in truly terrifying times. We can not grow disheartened or weary; we have to take care of one another and fight like our republic depends on us; because it does. Now more than ever. 

Friends, were there any stories this week you thought we should have highlighted? Are you also totally freaking out but in it for the long-haul to defend our country from the CPACs, the Trumps, the racists?

I’d love to talk to you all below. Let me know. 

The House must demand Barr testify about Stone intervention—and be prepared to force his compliance

This cannot go on. Three top prosecutors (which may turn into four) in the Roger Stone case have now withdrawn after Attorney General William Barr's Department of Justice ordered them to revise their guideline-based recommendations on Stone's sentencing. This happened the morning after Donald Trump tweeted that he "cannot allow" the prosecutors' recommended sentencing of Stone, an ally and key stonewaller in the Robert Mueller investigation of the Trump campaign's ties to Russian government hacking in the 2016 elections.

It is time to haul Barr to the House to explain himself. Immediately. If he refuses a subpoena, then inherent contempt must be used to force his compliance. The House has broad but almost-never-used powers to compel such testimony: This is precisely the dire occasion they were designed for.

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The resignation of three top names from Stone's case signals clearly that the federal prosecutors involved believe Barr has acted with corrupt intent in reaching down to order a reduced sentencing ask. They, too, should be subpoenaed immediately so that they may describe the situation that led to their self-removal. This is an extraordinary situation: Even if a teetering-toward-fascism Republican Party will not so much as pretend at "concern" for Trump and Barr's move, the House can expose it without their assistance.

It must be done. The Department of Justice has within the span of days been turned formally into a tool for "processing" allegations against Trump's political opponents and, now, overriding the sentencing of Trump's criminal allies. Barr will resist, but it must be done regardless.

Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for the inspector general at the Department of Justice to “open an investigation immediately.” That internal review, however, would be obviously insufficient. Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee and lead House manager in Trump's Senate-stifled impeachment trial, sent out an initial statement calling the reported Barr-Trump intervention a "blatant abuse of power" and, coupled with Trump's retaliatory firings, "the gravest threat to the rule of law in America in a generation." But it does not yet threaten subpoenas.

Schiff is correct in his diagnosis—and now the House must once again act. It is not optional; it cannot be danced around. Barr has committed an act of corruption so blatant that prosecutors have resigned rather than carry it out; he must explain himself under oath.

GOP senators alarmed by firing of Sondland, a Republican donor—but not by the rest of Trump’s purge

We now know that a handful of Republican senators were, in fact, alarmed by Donald Trump's Friday firings of government officials who testified to House impeachment investigators about Trump's Ukrainian extortion scheme. More accurately, we now know that a bare handful of Republican senators were concerned only about the firing of U.S Ambassador Gordon Sondland, while remaining unconcerned by Trump's removal of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his brother, who did not testify.

The likely reason? Gordon Sondland, unlike the others, was a big-money Republican campaign donor.

The New York Times is reporting that Republican Sens. Susan Collins (yes, Susan Collins), Thom Tillis, Martha McSally and Ron Johnson contacted the White House to try to halt Sondland's firing. Sondland, who was made a U.S. ambassador after giving $1 million to Trump’s own inaugural fund, was signaling he was planning to resign; the Republican senators wanted Sondland to be given a graceful exit. That was not to be: a vengeful, frothing Trump was insistent on making a public example of him.

Why were the senators concerned about Sondland but not the others? Sondland, reports the Times, was "a donor to Mr. Tillis and other Republicans."

So there you go. We now know the one, the only thing that would get the slightest pushback from the now-fascist Republican Party: Trump humiliating a top-dollar donor. The rest of it they're fine with.

That's not hyperbole. Sen. Susan Collins, in particular, made a special point of telling the Times that her prior "hope" that perhaps Trump would learn a "lesson" from impeachment was excruciatingly narrow. It didn't apply, she explained, to Trump's purge of the witnesses who spoke out to confirm the Trump-Giuliani Ukrainian plot.

“The lesson that I hoped the president had learned was that he should not enlist the help of a foreign government in investigating a political rival,” she told the Times. “It had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not he should fire people who testified in a way that he perceived as harmful to him.”

So yes, Susan Collins is fine with Trump retaliating against those who testified to his "perfect" actions. It was just the Republican donor whose plight roused her enough to make a simple phone call.

Her new statement is, yet again and of course, another reversal of a prior Susan Collins statement of supposed principles. On Friday she told a Maine crowd that "I obviously am not in favor of any kind of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence." This new statement clarifies that she is not specifically against such retribution either.

In a non-authoritarian, non-fascist movement, Dear Leader retaliating against those who testified under oath about his own actions would be astonishingly corrupt. It would be close to the very definition of corrupt, in fact. It is now considered an acceptable act, by Republicans, subject to mild private pushback only if the purge happens to touch on one of their own campaign donors. And even the most "moderate" of Republicans, Susan Collins, is now releasing statements clarifying that she is in fact not expressing any concerns about that.

Fascism: Graham says Barr has ‘process’ for Biden probe, Russian investigators ‘going to jail’

Top sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham took to the Sunday shows, of course, to bask in the Senate's nullification of Donald Trump's impeachment for using the tools of his power to extort the Ukrainian government into providing him "dirt" on a Democratic election opponent. It is not just Trump that appears to feel unleashed; Graham, too, was eager to describe the next steps of the administration-led descent into American fascism.

A first step: The Trump "private lawyer" Rudy Giuliani's smear campaign against the Bidens is now moving into Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department. Whatever Barr’s prior pretenses may have been, Barr is now explicitly establishing the means by which Rudy’s propaganda can be filtered into official “investigations” of Trump’s targeted enemies.

Throughout the House and press investigations into the Ukraine scandal, Trump Attorney General Barr either refused comment or denied that he was involved with the Giuliani efforts, despite Trump specifically naming both Barr and Giuliani as contacts for the Ukrainian president in the "transcript" of Trump's now-infamous phone call. Whether this was a lie or not—and it is almost certainly a direct lie by a complicit Barr—such pretenses have now vanished.

On CBS's Face the Nation, Graham said that the Department of Justice is now "receiving information coming out of the Ukraine, from Rudy." Barr's Justice Department, says Graham, has "created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it’s verified."

This means that the president's self-identified "personal lawyer", acting on behalf of known-corrupt pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs and ex-officials and in concert with two now-indicted launderers of Russian cash, is now directly channeling conspiracy claims against Trump's election opponent to the U.S. Attorney General's office. There is no longer any pretense of Giuliani's efforts not being state policy.

And this, in turn, means the claims of Russian organized crime-tied Dmytro Firtash, seeking to exchange "dirt" on Biden in exchange for the U.S. Department of Justice dropping his indictments in this country, are now being funneled through Giuliani directly into a Barr-led Justice Department that seems more then agreeable to making such a trade.

That was not the only assertion from Graham that Republicans and the Trump administration would be adopting new fascist policies of targeting and retaliating against Dear Leader's critics and enemies. Just after Trump removed multiple U.S. government officials (and a family member) who testified to the House impeachment committee despite Trump and Barr's standing orders to refuse House subpoenas, Graham indicated that many of those who investigated Trump will be heading to prison.

"We're not going to live in a world where as a Republican you get investigated from the day you're sworn in, three years later they're still coming after you," said Graham, erasing both Whitewater and the Benghazi "investigations" from the nation's history.

"Here's what amazes me. The Russian investigation, what happened? Half the people behind the Russia investigation are going to go to jail," the Republican told his Fox News host. "And Trump was cleared."

"When? Hopefully," host Maria Bartiromo mugged.

"Well, just hang tight," Graham responded.

We are now well into fascism, and it is the Republican Senate that is not merely looking the other way, but aggressively assisting Trump's team in its implementation. Those that testified against Trump are being removed, despite laws seemingly barring such retaliation. The propaganda efforts against Trump's targeted political foe spearheaded by Rudy Giuliani (financed, it should be noted, from Russia, as previous Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was financed for his own role in manipulating Ukraine towards Russian interests while creating schisms between that country and the west) are now being pipelined directly into Barr's Department of Justice.

Barr, whose department attempted to stifle the Ukrainian whistleblower complaint and worked to sabotage all investigation of Trump, has issued orders that he must be informed of and approve of any new investigations that touch on a 2020 campaign or candidate—both giving him direct access to any information potentially damaging to Trump's foes while maintaining absolute power to block probes of Trump himself.

It is in this environment that Lindsay Graham, who has been one of the prime advocates of Trump's new, law-bending authoritarian powers, has confidence that Trump's prior investigators will be jailed. "Just hang tight," he tells his propagandizing state media host.

It is not likely that John Bolton's book will see the light of day, not with the White House insisting it contains "classified" information that will take an unspecified amount of time to review. It is not likely that the Republican Senate will take any action, even the most minor, to restrain the Trump team in retaliating against witnesses or to block Barr from turning the nation's Justice Department into a tool for smearing, and possibly jailing, Trump's adversaries.

Travel restrictions imposed against the non-compliant. The stifling of official information contrary to Trump's scattershot, often-delusional proclamations. Invented state propaganda. The celebration of pro-state conspiracy and white nationalism promoters. Escalating threats of far-right domestic terrorism.

The only path out, now that Republicans have morphed from a conservative movement to a fascist one, is election turnout so overwhelming as to swamp even these new, myriad election-rigging efforts. And even that may not be enough.

Here's Lindsey Graham telling CBS that Attorney General Barr has "created a process" where Rudy Giuliani can feed Biden dirt from Ukrainian sources directly to the DOJ, and the DOJ will then check it out pic.twitter.com/A6N8YV6tS9

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2020

Lindsey Graham: Half the people behind the Russia investigation are going to go to jail pic.twitter.com/Xi9LQV6J9M

— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) February 9, 2020

Trump’s targeting of truth tellers is turning the intelligence community into a crowd of cowards

Donald Trump’s removal of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, his brother Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland was not a “massacre” in the spirit of what happened with Richard Nixon’s dismissal of special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Because what raised the body count in Nixon’s case was that his own people resigned rather than carry out clearly immoral orders. That’s not a problem for Trump.

The whole story of Donald Trump’s occupation of the White House has been one in which every unit of the government—from the EPA to the DOJ to the State Department—has been systematically cleansed of competency in favor of reflexive obedience. So naturally no one at the White House had a second thought about escorting out a decorated veteran for the crime of speaking the truth, or another veteran for the crime of being related to someone Trump doesn’t like. And just as naturally, Trump had no hesitation in owning these actions.

But what Trump has done so far, may be just a hint of the destruction to come, and what he’s already done to the intelligence agencies represents a looming threat from both inside and outside the nation.

Every time Trump plumbs new depths of odiousness, his staff makes a scramble to create an excuse. On Friday, that excuse was that Vindman wasn’t being let go because he obeyed a congressional subpoena; it was all just part of a “shrinking” of Trump’s already wildly reduced White House staff. 

And every time Trump’s staff constructs one of these pretexts for why he’s not as awful as he seems, Trump rushes forward to make it clear that he so, so is. Just as he continuously blew up the various reasons that Republicans concocted as excuses for Trump’s actions in Ukraine, he couldn’t allow the public to think that he was anything less than a monster in sending away Vindman.

That’s why Trump was on Twitter Saturday morning to make it clear he was sacking the Ukraine expert for being “very insubordinate.” Why Yevgeny Vindman was also shipped off wasn’t clear. Apparently he was insubordinate adjacent. Trump’s advisers surely have an excuse for that one, too.

Of course, both Vindmans are just immigrants in the armed services. As The Washington Post reported last November, Trump’s attitude in that area was godawful on multiple fronts.

“The Trump administration has reversed almost all progress, out loud and with purpose. Their message to immigrant service members is the same as that to Vindman: You are foreign, you are suspect, you cannot belong.”

But if what Trump has done so far seems egregious (because it is), it’s barely a patch on things to come. As The Washington Post reports, Trump has his staff working up the removal of intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson. Atkinson’s involvement was simply that he notified Congress of the existence of a whistleblower complain as required by law

Who watches the watchmen? Not a damned soul, apparently. Or at least no one who is allowed to do anything about it. Like speak.

At the State Department, at the National Security Council, at the CIA, the FBI, the DOJ … everywhere in the government the actions have been the same. Long term non-partisan employees have been forced from their positions and roles that have never in the past been political have been made over in the service of Trump. By long tradition, the CIA director does not attend the State of the Union address to avoid even a symbolic suggestion that the agency acts out of anything but its best interpretation of the information. But Gina Haspel was there on Tuesday night, bouncing up with the best Republican jack-in-the-boxes to applaud every moment of Trump’s partisan attacks and game show stunts.

Even before Trump gets around to sacking Atkinson, the conversion of the intelligence community into another aspect of his campaign machinery is already clear. As Politico reports, the regular briefing of Congress on threats to the nation has been delayed. The reason for that delay: “fears of provoking Trump's ire.”

Even though the purpose of this annual appearance is to outline the biggest threats to the nation in front of the nation, intelligence agencies are now arguing to move the whole hearing behind closed doors. More than that, they want the whole threat overview classified. After all, people don’t need to know what the dangers are; not when the biggest is sitting on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Intelligence agencies don’t want to tell Congress the truth about what is happening in public, because they’re afraid they might say something Trump doesn’t like. Because saying something that Trump doesn’t like can be punished. Even if it’s true.

Especially if it’s true.

Moscow Mitch heaped with praise by Trump in ‘victory’ rally for making it all possible

Moscow Mitch McConnell featured big in impeached-for-life president Donald Trump's unhinged White House campaign rally on Thursday. "And Mitch McConnell, I want to tell you, you did a fantastic job," Trump said. "He understood this was crooked politics. This was crooked politics." Yes, if there's one thing the destroyer of the Senate and beneficiary of Russian largesse understands, it's being crooked.

"This guy is great, and I appreciate it, Mitch," Trump said later. He's "the greatest poker player," said the guy who has no impulse control. "Somebody said, 'You know, Mitch is quiet.' I said, 'He's not quiet.' […] He doesn't want people to know him." That might be the closest thing to truth Trump said. McConnell has worked very hard at keeping the depth of his evil from public view. "And they said, 'Is Mitch smart?' And I said, 'Well, let's put it this way: For many many years […] people have been trying to take his place, and to the best of my knowledge, I've never even heard the subject come up because they've been wiped out so fast."

It's time to end McConnell's destructive stranglehold on the republic. Please give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats and end McConnell's career as Senate majority leader.

What's Moscow Mitch doing now, besides basking in the sickly orange glow of his Dear Leader? Advancing five more judicial nominations to make sure that even the courts won't be available to rein in the newly anointed dictator.

We need to make sure that Trump is defeated, but just as critical, we need to make sure that McConnell never again has the power to use the Senate to create another Trump.

Schiff delivers closing impeachment argument: ‘Is there one among you who will say ‘enough?”

House manager Rep. Adam Schiff delivered the final arguments in the quickly sabotaged Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump. He appealed to whatever shred of dignity the Senate Republicans still imagined themselves to have, but mostly he delivered a warning: Trump will continue to break laws.

The Senate Republicans know it. The Republican senators who voted to block testimony in an attempt to bury evidence of Trump’s blatant act of corruption each know that. They will now own everything that happens next.

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Fascism rises: Graham says Senate GOP will do whatever it can to expose the whistleblower

If you missed it, yesterday strident Donald Trump toady Sen. Lindsey Graham explained to Fox "Business" host Maria Bartiromo what he believes the Republican Senate will do next, after voting to immunize Trump from a clearly criminal extortion scheme meant to gain foreign help in winning his reelection. Graham said the Senate will move on from declaring that no administration witnesses must be called in an impeachment trial to calling a litany of Obama-era administration officials to interrogate them about Trump's targets in that scheme, Joe and Hunter Biden.

Graham also vowed to do something far more serious: Summon the "whistleblower" who first told Congress of Trump's criminal conspiracy. This is so that Graham and Trump's other Republican allies can interrogate Dear Leader’s nameless critic and, possibly, expose, threaten, and target that person to the full force of the Republican’s treason-approving, violence-threatening, mail-bombing base.

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Graham told his host, Angry Fascist Banana, that Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr told him the committee will be calling the whistleblower to testify. Graham said that he intended to expose "how all this crap started" and launched into a stream of absolutely false, propaganda-based conspiracy theories about who the whistleblower was "working with" that we will not repeat here. He did not, however, indicate whether Burr still intended to keep the whistleblower's identity secret or whether he had been pressured into changing his mind on that.

Graham, obviously, believes that he will find some conspiracy that will require, or at least justify, doing Trump's personal bidding by exposing the only White House-linked official in the entire administration who put their duty to their country above their fealty to a raving, corrupt man damaging national security and our elections for his own personal gain.

There can be little argument that the Republican Party is now a fascist organization. It has put Dear Leader above the rule of law. It has given Dear Leader an "absolute immunity" to solicit as much foreign government assistance as he can muster or extort for the purposes of throwing the next election in his favor, while insisting that it will still be a “free election” regardless of how much false, conspiracy-premised propaganda Dear Leader can bring to bear. Now it insists that Dear Leader's law-protecting supposed enemies be exposed, and made examples of.

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