“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016 exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.
At first both parties denied ever saying that or anything like that, then the WaPo said, “We have a recording.” The story now is that it was said as a joke. Keep your eye on this story, as Trump will work his usual anti-Midas touch.
And as long as we are talking ’bout Russia, Reuters has a bit up on how Trump’s BFF Vlad has offered a transcript of Donnie Dorko giving state secrets to his henchmen, which includes this sneering quote:
President Putin deployed his trademark sarcasm on Wednesday to make clear he thought the accusation that Trump had divulged secrets absurd.
“I’ll be forced to issue him [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov] with a reprimand because he did not share these secrets with us. Not with me, nor with representatives of Russia’s intelligence services. It was very bad of him.”
That Vlad! Such a kidder!
Rod Rosenstein surprised the White House when he appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters. Here’s the official document . The LATimes morning email thingie says that Rosenstein gave the White House 30 minutes advanced warning that he was doing this:
Thirty minutes. That’s how much of a heads-up Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein apparently gave the Trump administration before going public that he’d named former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to take over the investigation of Russia’s involvement in the election and possible collusion with President Trump’s associates. Democrats and Republicans hold Mueller in high regard, though some took his appointment as special counsel more enthusiastically than others. (As it turns out, this isn’t the first time Mueller and fired FBI Director James Comey have been at the center of some D.C. drama.) Meanwhile, Congress proceeds with its own inquiries, and Comey may testify next week. As Trump starts an eight-day overseas trip this weekend, he and his already-besieged team could have a lot more to worry about than meeting heads of state.
Mike ‘Payola’ Allen writing at Axios morning email thingie wants us to know that like in Aliens this time it’s personal:
Mueller also happens to be friends with the spurned Jim Comey, another reason that the choice — announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who apparently was irate that the Comey firing was initially pinned on him by the White House — is worrisome for the West Wing.
Noted torture enthusiast John Yoo writes an editorial for the NYTimes to try to explain the legal stuff and if Trump really obstructed justice, and of course gets a bit revisionist:
Trump’s comments [in the Comey notes] come close to obstruction of justice but don’t clearly cross the line. … While he set out his favorable opinion of Mr. Flynn, he stopped short of ordering Mr. Comey to drop the investigation. Mr. Trump’s words carried an implicit recognition that Mr. Comey would make the final call. …
Clearly Yoo has never seen a Mafia movie. Professional Courtesy? We continue.
Unlike in the Watergate case, there is no evidence that the president ordered witnesses to lie, destroyed evidence or tried to block F.B.I. agents from doing their job.
Except that whole firing thing? Sorry to interrupt. Please continue.
At least, no evidence yet. … Pursuing the president for obstruction of justice is likely to fail …
Trump should look to the example of … Ronald Reagan. The Iran-contra scandal nearly destroyed Reagan’s presidency and could have led to his impeachment. After the revelations [in 1986] that his national security staff had traded arms for hostages held by Iran and transferred funds to the Nicaraguan contras, Reagan cleaned house and agreed to reforms of government oversight of covert action. After that, his presidency not only survived but also thrived.
And Mommy gave him Oreos and milk and read to him bedtime stories about horsies.
USA Today has a ‘splainer on what is a Special Counsel vs. Indie Counsel vs. Special Prosecutor, complete with examples. It says that they are mostly the same. Axios has a more abbreviated version with the reminder that Independent Counsel and Special Prosecutor laws were killed-off in 1999.
And we will conclude with this special news from our opportunistic Fat Termite (Hat tip: Scissorhead Fran):
Interesting timing. The Vice President filed FEC paperwork yesterday for his own PAC: https://t.co/khTDtM841D
— Dafna Linzer (@DafnaLinzer) May 18, 2017
Clearly, Fat Termite smells blood in the water. Hope he doesn’t realize some of that blood is his*.
*Updated: in my rush to publish I left out the last link.