In a performance that would have embarrassed the most obsequious lackey of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Vice President Mike Pence delivered an encomium to his boss, who sat across the table with arms folded over his chest, absorbing abasement as his due.
“I want to thank you, Mr. President,” Pence said. “I want to thank you for speaking on behalf of and fighting every day for the forgotten men and women of America. Because of your determination, because of your leadership, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. And we are making America great again.” The president thanked him for his kind words, and Pence replied, “Thank you, Mr. President, and God bless you.”
.. Trump and establishment Republicans adopt one another’s worst qualities. Trump, who campaigned as a putative economic populist — even calling for higher taxes on the rich — will soon sign into law the tax plan of the House speaker Paul Ryan’s Ayn Randian dreams. The majority of elected Republicans, in turn, are assuming a posture of slavish submission to Trump, worshiping their dear leader and collaborating in the maintenance of his alternative reality.
.. From a secular perspective, Pence, like many other Republicans, appears to be a person inclined to authoritarianism.
.. Erich Fromm, a German-Jewish psychoanalyst who fled Nazism, described authoritarian personalities as simultaneously craving power and submission. “The authoritarian character loves those conditions that limit human freedom; he loves being submitted to fate,” he wrote. Fate, in his formulation, can be the laws of the market, the will of God, or the whims of a leader. According to Fromm, authoritarians might make a show of valuing freedom and independence — watchwords of the American right — but long to be ruled by a stronger force.
.. Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, spoke of his “love” for the president, who he described as “one heck of a leader.” He added, “We’re going to keep fighting and we’re going to make this the greatest presidency that we’ve seen not only in generations, but maybe ever.”
.. Either Hatch really believes this, or he believes in the utility of unabashed sycophancy. Neither possibility suggests he will be an ally in preserving democracy.
.. participating in the ludicrous fiction that there was a pro-Hillary Clinton conspiracy afoot in the F.B.I., an entity led by a succession of Republicans and described by one agent during the election as “Trumpland.”
.. If Republicans were as loyal to the country as they are to the president, they’d want to know exactly what had Strzok so alarmed.
.. It is, as they say, not normal for erstwhile law-and-order Republicans to attack the F.B.I. for being overzealous in its pursuit of Russian subversion.
.. Nunes’s inquiry appears similar to Trump’s voter fraud commission
.. Hannah Arendt once wrote of this sort of policy-as-disinformation: “Totalitarianism will not be satisfied to assert, in the face of contrary facts, that unemployment does not exist; it will abolish unemployment benefits as part of its propaganda.”
.. a lot of us have assumed that Republicans are putting up with Trump out of fear of their base or lust for tax cuts. We’ve imagined that beneath our mutual partisan loathing lies some remaining shared commitment to liberal democracy.
.. But there’s another possibility, which is that a critical mass of Republicans like being in thrall to a man who seems strong enough to will his own reality, and bold enough to voice their atavistic hatreds. Maybe Trump is changing Republicans, or maybe he’s just giving men like Pence permission to be who they already were.
Was the Steele Dossier Used to Obtain a FISA Warrant Against Trump’s Campaign?
Steele further claimed that Page met with Ivan Diveykin, a Kremlin official. Diveykin is said to have informed Page that Russia had a kompromat file on Mrs. Clinton that it might be willing to share with the Trump campaign. He also suggested that the Kremlin had such a file on Trump, too, which Trump should bear in mind in his dealings with Russia.
Steele placed these allegations in the framework of what he described as a conspiracy of cooperation between Russia and the Trump campaign, overseen on the latter’s end by Paul Manafort (then the campaign chairman). Page was said to be an intermediary between Manafort and Kremlin contacts. Steele’s reports suggest that coordination with Russia on the theft of DNC emails and their subsequent transmission to WikiLeaks was part of this scheme. The Steele dossier, in other words, is the version of the “collusion” narrative that Trump detractors want to believe.
.. . Much of the GOP shunned the Trump campaign, so Page is like many others who were instantly designated “advisers” if they were willing to help — these were will-o’-the-wisp arrangements.
The Real Russia Scandal
Mike Flynn. In 2016, the retired general published a book that made clear where he stood when it came to Russia.
“Although I believe America and Russia could find mutual ground fighting Radical Islamists,” he and co-author Michael Ledeen wrote, “there is no reason to believe Putin would welcome cooperation with us; quite the contrary, in fact.”
Lest there be any doubt as to where the future national security adviser stood, Flynn went on to stress that Vladimir Putin “has done a lot for the Khamenei regime”; that Russia and Iran were “the two most active and powerful members of the enemy alliance”; and that the Russian president’s deep intention was to “pursue the war against us.”
All this was true. Yet by the end of the year, Flynn would be courting Russia’s ambassador to Washington and hinting at swift relief from sanctions. What gave?
What gave, it seems, was some combination of financial motives — at least $65,000 in payments by Russian-linked companies — and political ones — a new master in the person of Donald Trump, who took precisely the same gauzy view of Russia that Flynn had rejected in his book.
.. the president’s craven apologists insist he’s right to try to find common ground with Russia. These are the same people who until recently were in full throat against Barack Obama for his overtures to Putin.
.. Yet the alleged naïveté never quits: Just this week, he asked for Putin’s help on North Korea.
The better explanations are:
- the president is infatuated with authoritarians, at least those who flatter him;
- he’s neurotically neuralgic when it comes to the subject of his election;
- he’s ideologically sympathetic to Putinism, with its combination of economic corporatism, foreign-policy cynicism, and violent hostility to critics;
- he’s stupid; or
- he’s vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
.. Each explanation is compatible with all the others. For my part, I choose all of the above — the first four points being demonstrable while the last is logical.
.. There’s no need to obsess about electoral collusion when the real issue is moral capitulation.
Fox News v. Robert Mueller
Perhaps the most inflammatory rhetoric has come from Ms. Pirro, the host of “Justice With Judge Jeanine” and a “presidential favorite,” according to The Times. “There is a cleansing needed in our F.B.I. and Department of Justice,” Ms. Pirro said Saturday, in her most unhinged rant yet. “It needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired but who need to be taken out in handcuffs.”
.. Topping her list of outlaws was, of course, Mr. Mueller, who she said “can’t come up with one piece of evidence!”
.. Ms. Pirro, a former New York prosecutor and judge, didn’t allege any actual crimes, just that Mr. Mueller and his people are guilty of “attempting to destroy Trump.”
.. After Mr. Trump’s victory last year, she interviewed to be his deputy attorney general, a job that would have empowered her to fire Mr. Mueller on her own.
.. they should ask not whether any F.B.I. investigator has ever held an opinion about politics, but rather why Mr. Trump chose as his closest advisers people with a tendency to talk to Russian officials and then fail to tell the truth, again and again, about the nature of those communications. As The Times’s Bret Stephens wrote:“Fire? Maybe not. But we are dying of smoke inhalation.”
.. When the propagandists say, “Get rid of Mueller,” it’s not the truth they’re trying to protect; it’s Mr. Trump himself.
.. roughly three-quarters of Republicans still refuse to accept that Russia interfered in the 2016 election
.. remember that a majority of the same people continue to believe that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.