We Resist: Day 117

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One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

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Here are some things in the news today:

I covered Donald Trump's reckless disclosure of top-level classified information this morning: Trump Shares Top-Level Classified Intel with Russians.

Lachlan Markay, Tim Mak, Asawin Suebsaeng, and Jana Winter at the Daily Beast: White House Staff 'Hiding' as Russia Chaos Engulfs West Wing.
Communications staff and senior staffers at the White House were literally "hiding in offices," according to a senior Trump aide, as a gaggle of White House press stormed White House hallways just after the Washington Post story broke on Monday evening.

"Do not ask me about how this looks, we all know how this looks," the senior aide told The Daily Beast on Monday evening. Trump administration officials spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity so as to speak freely. The aide described a scene at the White House as tense and "a morgue," where senior officials such as Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Stephen Bannon convened to sketch an immediate path forward in handling the aftermath.

According to multiple reporters present, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was walking by at the time when he saw the crowd of journalists gathered outside Spicer's office. "This is the last place in the world I want to be," McMaster said, before ducking away for an hour til he headed to brief the press.

...Some administration officials who supported Trump during the campaign said they were appalled at his apparent divulging of U.S. secrets, and considered it a break from his "America First" campaign mantra.

"With news like this I'm beginning to wonder why Trump ran in the first place and if he really cares about the country," said a senior Trump appointee involved in counter-ISIS policymaking. "I miss candidate Trump. Now he's just a pathetic mess."

"I doubt he did it to collude [with the Russians]. I think he's dumb and doesn't know the difference," a former FBI official told The Daily Beast. "He thinks he's arranging some business deal except that he's not."

"I don't think he shared the classified intelligence to collude. I think he shared because he thinks he's playing chess when he's actually playing checkers. International affairs is not like buying a golf course," added a second former FBI official.

When asked if the Russians could use the information Trump provided in way that harms the U.S., this official said, "of course."
There's much more where that came from. Three things:

1. A person has to be deeply dishonest or deeply stupid, or both, to pretend that Trump was ever anything else but this. It was always manifestly evident that this would be the outcome of a Trump presidency.

2. These folks will express their horror privately and/or anonymously, but none of them are brave enough to state publicly and under their own names their grave concerns about the president whose dangerous behavior they witness up close and personally every day.

3. The fact is that whether Trump is disclosing information to the Russians because he is an egotistical dipshit or because he is actively colluding with them to undermine this nation is irrelevant. And the fact that his loyalists keep trying to insist that it matters is revolting. His intent does not affect the outcome.

Because Trump's behavior is getting more difficult to defend, we're now getting outrageous defenses like this garbage:

I'm not sure by what measure the Rosenbergs' security breaches were definitely "greater" than Trump's, since we don't even yet know the extent of the consequences of Trump's reckless disclosure. And, sure, the U.S. intelligence community's relationships may have survived, but the Rosenbergs didn't. They were executed for their crimes. So, curious example to defend Trump's breach. To say the least.

And although some Republicans are beginning to make modest noises about Trump's latest gross misdeed, the idea that GOP lawmakers are peeling away from Trump is still a myth: "Just six Republicans, including one Senator, have come out in support of a special Congressional committee or independent investigation. Both of these options would still ultimately rely on the Justice Department to enforce the law. More Republicans (41) have 'questions or concerns' about the firing of Comey by Trump. But such concern has so far not translated into support for any kind of action."

Why? Because they are not patriots, and their only real concern is the possibility that Trump's fuckery will endanger their radical rightwing agenda. That is not an assumption. As Josh Marshall noted, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it absolutely plain:
Here is the quote [from McConnell].
I read the Washington Post story and I read General McMasters response, which tends to refute the story, rebut the story. I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda, which is deregulations, tax reform, repealing and replacing Obamacare.
The cynicism is almost lapidary in its purity. 'Yeah, sharing that classified intelligence was pretty bad. But let's focus on the big picture which is tax reform.' Or, 'You sharing classified intelligence with Russia is only making Obamacare repeal that much harder.'

People have been saying for months that establishment Republicans had decided that they'd let Trump do almost literally anything as long as he agreed to sign a big tax cut and help repeal Obamacare. And now McConnell, faced with the ultimate consequence of this moral desertion, is happy to say it out loud.
McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, reductively refers to Trump's imperiling the nation as "drama from the White House," his primary concern about which is that it distracts from the Republican agenda.

There it is. There will be no checking and balancing.

One might imagine that even the most partisan, ideological, craven scum of the GOP would get the memo that continuing to attach themselves to Trump is a bad idea when 10 percent of Trump voters now say they'd rather have Hillary Clinton as president. (That's triple the 3 percent who merely regretted their vote in March, which I noted then was a staggering number of people.) But they don't care that Trump is endangering the nation. They only care whether his endangering the nation is a big enough public relations problem to hinder passage of their hideous policies.

It's all a big game, and the winner is who has the most effective messaging. To that end, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster trotted his ass out for the media again today, and made the most incredulous claim:

This doesn't pass even the most cursory scrutiny. But truth and logic don't matter to this White House or to the Republican Party. All that matters is enough spin to move forward. Damage control for traitorous behavior on the part of the president to protect a heinous legislative agenda. Breathtaking.

In other news:

Tom Winter and Kenzi Abou-Sabe at NBC News: Manafort Got $3.5M Mystery Mortgage, Paid No Tax. "Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort took out a $3.5 million mortgage through a shell company just after leaving the campaign, but the mortgage document that explains how he would pay it back was never filed—and Manafort's company never paid $36,000 in taxes that would be due on the loan. In addition, despite telling NBC News previously that all his real estate transactions are transparent and include his name and signature, Manafort's name and signature do not appear on any of the loan documents that are publicly available. A Manafort spokesperson said the $3.5 million loan was repaid in December, but also said paperwork showing the repayment was not filed until he was asked about the loan by NBC News."

Alex Campbell at BuzzFeed: The Family of a Murdered DNC Staffer Has Rejected a Report Linking His Death to WikiLeaks. "A report on Monday evening claimed to find links between slain DNC staffer Seth Rich and WikiLeaks. But Rich's family told BuzzFeed News, '[W]e see no facts, we have seen no evidence, we have been approached with no emails.'" This is a good reminder that the Russian disinformation campaign in the U.S. continues unabated. This story has Russian meddling all the fuck over it.

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Youkyung Lee at the AP: Experts See Possible North Korea Links to Global Cyberattack. "Cybersecurity experts are pointing to circumstantial evidence that North Korea may be behind the global 'ransomware' attack: the way the hackers took hostage computers and servers across the world was similar to previous cyberattacks attributed to North Korea. Simon Choi, a director at South Korean anti-virus software company Hauri Inc. who has analyzed North Korean malware since 2008 and advises the government, said Tuesday that the North is no newcomer to the world of bitcoins. It has been mining the digital currency using malicious computer programs since as early as 2013, he said."

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Meanwhile... James Griffiths, Matthew Chance, and Steve George at CNN: Putin Warns Against 'Intimidating' North Korea After Latest Missile Launch. "Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned North Korea's latest missile launch as 'dangerous' but warned against 'intimidating' Pyongyang. Speaking in China, Putin called for a peaceful solution to the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula, Russia's Sputnik news agency reported."

Everything is fine. Just Trump's former campaign manager possibly laundering money for Russia; Russia spreading disinformation via the internet in the U.S.; North Korea stepping up its cyberattack and nuclear games; and Russia's president warning to take it easy on North Korea.

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With everything else going on, it's easy to forget that Trump's administration is being fucking horrendous in every other way, too.

[CN: War on agency] Ariana Eunjung Cha and Carol Morello at the Washington Post: Trump Expansion of Abortion 'Gag Rule' Will Restrict $8.8 Billion in U.S. Aid. "Trump's executive order to block U.S. aid to groups abroad that counsel or provide referrals about abortion went into effect Monday and will restrict nearly $9 billion in foreign health assistance. The rule, which has reproductive-rights advocates reeling, is significantly broader than similar bans in place intermittently since 1984. Those past actions were limited to about $600 million in family planning funding. Senior administration officials confirmed Monday that Trump's version will impact $8.8 billion for programs, including those related to AIDS, malaria, and child health."

[CN: Racism; nativism] Sameer Rao at Colorlines: Five Reasons Why Kris Kobach Shouldn't Lead Trump's Voter Fraud Investigations. "Donald Trump never proved his unfounded allegations that millions of undocumented immigrants illegally cost him the popular vote. But on Thursday (May 11), he issued an executive order that established the Presidential Advisory Committee on Electoral Integrity. Officially tasked with investigating 'those vulnerabilities in voting systems and practices used for federal elections' that may lead to voter fraud, the Trump-appointed commission's leadership includes Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach as vice chair."

Alex Kotch at Rewire: Betsy DeVos' Choice of New Hires Suggests She'll Keep Her School Privatization Promises. "Betsy DeVos, the conservative plutocrat and controversial cabinet nominee who barely squeaked through her confirmation vote for secretary of education, announced a spate of new hires on April 12. And, in keeping with DeVos' history, there's a theme. Out of the eight new hires, at least four have a demonstrated record of advocating for charter schools or private school vouchers—taking money from the public education budget and giving it to kids for tuition at private, often religious, schools. DeVos' selection of these individuals, along with existing staff at the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), confirms what many suspected: that DeVos will push hard for school privatization from the beginning of her term as education secretary."

Esther Yu Hsi Lee at ThinkProgress: Trump Administration Rejects Ban on Harmful Insecticide, Dozens of Farmworkers Get Sick. "On May 5, workers harvesting cabbage on a farm near Bakersfield were exposed to a 'pesticide odor' from mandarin orchards in the west sprayed with Vulcan, an organophosphate-based chemical. The active ingredient in Vulcan is chlorpyrifos, a chemical linked to human health problems manufactured by Dow AgroSciences, a division of Dow Chemical. Chlorpyrifos was slated to be banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration. ...Despite the scientific evidence, new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rejected the ban on chlorpyrifos on the grounds that the agency needs to 'provide regulatory certainty' for the thousands of U.S. farms that rely on chlorpyrifos."

Finally, a couple of pieces of good news:

Lucy Westcott at Towleroad: Same-Sex Marriage Support at Highest-Ever Level. "The American public's support for same-sex marriage is at a record high, according to a new Gallup poll. Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults now say that same-sex marriages should be recognized as valid under the law. That's a three percent increase on last year—when 61 percent of adults said they support same-sex marriage—and the highest level of support since Gallup started keeping track in 1996."

Carolina A. Miranda at the L.A. Times: Meet Robin Bell, the Artist Who Projected Protest Messages onto Trump's D.C. Hotel Last Night. "For a short period on Monday night, a large projection appeared on the facade of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., that read 'Emoluments Welcome'... This was followed by a message that read 'Pay Trump Bribes Here,' with an arrow that pointed to the front door of the hotel. ...The projections were all part of an act of protest by artist, filmmaker, and video editor Robin Bell, who has been creating these types of guerrilla light protests for more than half a dozen years."

image of Trump hotel with Constitutional section of emoluments clause projected in light on the front of the building

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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