Paul Ryan Didn’t Quit Because of Randy Bryce

Please let’s not get overconfident about the election in the Wisconsin First Congressional District. There have already been emails and postings that Paul Ryan quit because he was afraid of the campaign being waged by one of Blogging Blue’s favorite candidates: Randy Bryce. There have been dozens of post-mortems on why Ryan quit, but Randy isn’t the main reason, ever.

And despite the fact that rumored heavy weight contenders like Wisconsin Legislative Speaker Robin Vos and former RNC chair and former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus have said they aren’t running…the GOP will pull out a serious contender before too long.

So let’s not pat ourselves on the back. Ryan will be gone soon but there will still be a race in a very red gerrymandered district. And we will still need to contribute to the Bryce campaign and we will still need to get out the vote. And without Ryan in the race, we may not get the national attention that we’ve been getting until now when we get to the August primary.

So by all means celebrate Ryan’s departure. But let’s not gloat in our literature or postings or speeches. He didn’t leave out of fear of us.

full disclosure: I have contributed to Mr. Bryce’s campaign.

Sally Yates Testimony: A Warning or a Heads Up?

Former Acting Attorney Sally Yates testified in the Senate today about the warning she gave to the White House on issues with Michael Flynn and his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the United States.

She described it as a warning:

Yates said she emphasized that she was trying to warn them of a potential future vulnerability to Russian intelligence operatives.

But White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer described it more…like a heads up:

Yates’s testimony seemed to contradict public statements made by White House press secretary Sean Spicer and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Both men described the Yates-McGahn [White House Counsel Donald McGahn] meeting as less of a warning and more of a “heads-up’’ about an issue involving Flynn.

Can one of our readers please explain the difference between a warning and a heads up? From my desk they pretty much look like the same thing.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now

I haven’t really given the issue surrounding Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his interactions with the Russian Ambassador and the subsequent revelations and recusal the attention that it is due. Benghazi Benghazi, I mean Wiretaps, Wiretaps, Trump Tower…

This has spent so much time in the news prior to Saturday’s Twitter storm that I am going to shoot from the hip on most of this because I don’t want to wade through the two dozen links that I have amassed already. So here goes:

Apparently while acting as a policy advisor to the Trump campaign, Senator Jeff Sessions had two meetings with the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. This on its face isn’t totally unusual for a US Senator to meet with foreign leaders or ambassadors in the course of their job as an elected official. One of the meetings was in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention and the other in his Senate office in Washington. Normally there wouldn’t be an issue with a sitting US Senator meeting with a foreign dignitary in the due course of his job in Washington. But it does look a bit unusual when those meetings occur while you are a policy advisor and surrogate in a presidential campaign.

AG Sessions denies that they talked about the campaign. But that seems a little odd considering the first meeting was at the RNC…and what the hell was the Russian ambassador even doing at the RNC? Even if nothing untoward was discussed, a US Senator in full out campaign mode has got to realize that this looks pretty questionable from either a moral or ethical standpoint…so he either lacks morals or ethics or worse yet, the political savvy to conduct himself above board. Or even worse, is too stupid to understand what he’s doing. Though he obviously never intended to get caught.

But this is all compounded by his bewildering answer to Senator Al Franken’s question about how he would handle an investigation into allegations between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. I am going to quote it here but my first note is, he didn’t actually answer the question and then stepped in it and provided information that certainly goaded the press to look into the issue at a different level. Essentially pointing a guilty finger at himself:

FRANKEN: Okay. CNN has just published a story, and I’m telling you this about a news story that’s just been published. I’m not expecting you to know whether or not it’s true or not. But CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week that included information that, quote, “Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.” These documents also allegedly say, quote, “There was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump’s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.”

Now, again, I’m telling you this as it’s coming out, so you know. But if it’s true, it’s obviously extremely serious and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?

SESSIONS: Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.

So at this point in an effort to deflect, instead of actually answering a fairly simple question that he should have easily answered, he takes another road entirely, and soils himself. And after that the news comes out that he did in fact have the two meetings that I described above. Now he could have gone back and ‘corrected’ his testimony at any time after he had given it. But until the news hit he made no effort to do so. He clearly perjured himself. Clearly. The top law man in the land…lied under oath.

Sarah Isgur Flores, Session’s spokeswoman, explained in a separate statement to The Post on Wednesday night: “He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee.”

That’s not really true.

Sessions was clearly asked whether there was anyone “affiliated with the Trump campaign” who communicated with the Russian government during the campaign. Sessions admitted that he fit this definition of being affiliated with the campaign — as a surrogate (and, really, a top adviser as well) — and said he “did not have communications with the Russians.”

It would be a huge stretch of the imagination to think that Senator Sessions was acting as a member of the Armed Services Committee while meeting a foreign ambassador at the Republican National Convention. Now back to the issue of his original reply to Senator Franken. Any cabinet member but particularly a high profile cabinet position like Attorney General requires a certain precision in speech to avoid misconceptions or miscommunications just as we have witnessed here. Not only has he perjured himself but he’s not even qualified to be the AG.

As a result of the resultant hot water, AG Sessions didn’t resign as many of us expected, but took an easier out and stated that he would recuse himself on any investigations into the issue of Russian interactions with the Trump campaign. And he did that very publicly without apparently informing the president directly and maybe not even the White House. The result reportedly infuriated the president and may have resulted in his leaving his top advisors, Steven Bannon and Reince Priebus in Washington over the weekend, while he went to Mar-a-lago again. And it may have been the direct cause of the president’s wiretapping Twitter storm on Saturday morning. A ludicrous accusation that has dominated the news cycle since then…taking the Russian issue and the Sessions disaster totally out of the media. So again he hasn’t the sensibility one would expect out of an AG and has put the Trump regime in a bind.

And today AG Sessions made a half hearted attempt to set the record straight:

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) had asked him about a “continuing exchange of information during the campaign” between Trump aides and Russian officials. Sessions replied that he was “not aware of any of those activities,” adding that he “did not have communications with the Russians.”

“My answer was correct,” Sessions wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “…I was surprised by the allegations in the question, which I had not heard before. I answered the question, which asked about a ‘continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump’s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government,’ honestly.”

“I did not mention communications I had with the Russian Ambassador over the years because the question did not ask about him,” Sessions continued.

He reiterated that he had met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice — once during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland after a speech he gave, the other in September in the presence of members of his staff. He said he “[does] not recall” any discussions about the presidential race with Kislyak or other Russian officials.

So once again, while correcting the record of his confirmation hearing testimony, he denies that he answered wrong. That would be his qualification for being part of the Trump cabinet…just keep denying any and every issue or point over there>

But then he doesn’t recall what he actually talked with the ambassador about. Really? You are meeting with the top representative of a foreign government…one most often viewed as an antagonistic power…whether in your official capacity as a US Senator or appointed capacity as a campaign policy advisor…and you can’t remember what you talked about?

Now I don’t much care about the amount of mud he’s slung onto the Trump White House, but for the good of the United States and We the People…and the integrity of the office of Attorney General and the Department of Justice…Attorney General Jeff Sessions needs to resign…yesterday!

Trump White House Loves and Hates Unnamed Sources

During his speech at CPAC this week, President Donald Trump once again trotted out his attack on the media. And one of his newest points about the “fake news” was the fairly common practice of using unnamed sources. Now of course serious media outlets have procedures in place to insure that they are publishing facts when they need to rely on quoting unnamed sources. And of course we can all understand why some people may not want to be named when talking with a journalist. But here is what the president said:

“They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name,” he opined. “Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out.”

But then there’s this:

Meanwhile, Trump’s White House has tried to use anonymity to push back against critical coverage, even as the president condemns the use of anonymity in critical coverage.

The White House responded to the CNN report Friday in a background briefing, meaning that reporters could only attribute information to “senior intelligence officials.”

And that was the result of this little peccadillo:

The officials claimed that [FBI deputy director Andrew] McCabe had told [White House chief of staff Reince] Priebus the Times story was “bullshit,” and the chief of staff asked about how the agency could push back. McCabe told Priebus the FBI couldn’t comment on the ongoing investigation, and Priebus asked if the agency could cite “‘senior intelligence officials’ as saying there’s nothing to the NYT story,” according to officials who spoke at the briefing Friday. FBI director James Comey told Priebus they couldn’t do that.

So unnamed sources are good when you need them…but not when you don’t:

Four days after Priebus suggested the FBI push back on the Times story using anonymous sources ― that is, “senior intelligence officials” ― he criticized the news media for relying on anonymous sources.

“I think that the media should stop with this unnamed source stuff, put names on a piece of paper and print it,” Priebus said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “If people aren’t willing to put their name next to a quote, then the quote shouldn’t be listed, period.”

In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Priebus griped that mainstream news outlets were acting like “Washington daily gossip magazines” because of their reliance on anonymous sources.

Interesting dichotomy, wouldn’t you say? And then there is this little item from the story I used in an earlier post about the meeting between the president and the manufacturing CEOS:

(Reporters were permitted to attend the meetings on the condition of not quoting individual executives by name.)

Anonymous or unnamed sources aren’t going to go away. They serve a useful purpose for both the media and the sources. So if the Trump regime is going to rely on their use to get their story out there, they need to quiet down about unnamed sources when they don’t like the news.

Does Reince Priebus still think Donald Trump is a “net positive” for the Republican Party?

This piece is a year old, but I felt it was worth posting because I can’t help but wonder if RNC Chairman Reince Priebus thinks having Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee is a “net positive” for the Republican Party.

Still, Priebus said he thinks that having Trump in the 17-person race for the Republican presidential nomination has been a “net positive” in that it has brought interest to the process.

“I also think it’s an indicator that there’s a lot of folks out there that are just sick and tired of Washington,” Priebus said in an interview aired Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha.” “I think Donald Trump has tapped into that. You look at the first debate we had, I think it was five or six times more viewers, in the beginning of August, than any debate in the history of either party.

“The key for us, of course, now is to tap into something that allows us to cross into a cultural barrier, which has been hard for our party.”

I’m betting Reince Priebus version 2016 recognizes now that Donald Trump’s presence atop the Republican Party’s presidential ticket is most definitely not a “net positive” for the Republican Party. After all, lots of smart folks think Donald Trump’s campaign is going to hasten the demise of the Republican Party as a serious national party.