Paul Krugman writes —
I haven’t yet read Wolff’s book – do I really have to? — but the basic outlines of his story have long been familiar and uncontroversial to anyone with open eyes. Trump is morally and intellectually incapable of being president. He has also exploited his office for personal gain, obstructed justice, and colluded with a hostile foreign power. Everyone who doesn’t get their news from Fox has basically known this for a while, although Wolff helps focus our minds on the subject.
It seems to me that that the real news now is the way Republicans in Congress are dealing with this national nightmare: rather than distancing themselves from Trump, they’re doubling down on their support and, in particular, on their efforts to cover for his defects and crimes. Remember when Paul Ryan was the Serious, Honest Conservative? (He never really was, but that was his public image.) Now he’s backing Devin Nunes in his efforts to help the Trump coverup.
As Brian Beutler says, Republicans have become the Grand Obstruction Party. Why?
The answer, I think, is that the cynical bargain that has been the basis of Republican strategy since Reagan has now turned into a moral trap. And as far as we can tell, no elected Republican – not one – has the strength of character to even attempt an escape.
For more than a generation, the Republican establishment was able to keep this bait-and-switch under control: racism was deployed to win elections, then was muted afterwards, partly to preserve plausible deniability, partly to focus on the real priority of enriching the one percent. But with Trump they lost control: the base wanted someone who was blatantly racist and wouldn’t pretend to be anything else. And that’s what they got, with corruption, incompetence, and treason on the side.
What this means, among other things, is that expecting the GOP to exercise any oversight or constrain Trump in any way is just foolish at this point. Massive electoral defeat – massive enough to overwhelm gerrymandering and other structural advantages of the right – is the only way out.
From ABC News — Written by Gillian Mohney
President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the landmark Paris climate agreement could have far reaching consequences on climate and fossil fuel emissions in the future.
While climate change and pollution are often discussed in terms of environmental damage, they can also greatly impact public health.
Under the Paris agreement, the U.S. said it would cut carbon emissions by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 and parties agree to try to hold global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above temperatures in the late 1800s.
Jeffrey Shaman, director of the Climate and Health Program at the Mailman School of Public Health, pointed out that a changing climate may mean fundamental changes to human health.
Acquiring and using fossil fuels “has led to the disruption of the [climate] system that we have come to rely on,” said Shaman pointing out civilization developed during the 11,000 year period of climate stability. “That disruption is a fundamental stressor on our system.”
Without that climate stability, Shaman and other public health officials have found that there are risks to public health from multiple factors including extreme weather, spreading populations of insects and irritating airborne pollutants.
From The Washington Post — Written by Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima — Image courtesy of Melina Mara/The Washington Post
The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee asked U.S. spy agencies late last year to reveal the names of U.S. individuals or organizations contained in classified intelligence on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, engaging in the same practice that President Trump has accused the Obama administration of abusing, current and former officials said.
The chairman of the committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), has since cast the practice of “unmasking” of U.S. individuals and organizations mentioned in classified reports as an abuse of surveillance powers by the outgoing Obama administration.
Trump has argued that investigators should focus their attention on former officials leaking names from intelligence reports, rather than whether the Kremlin coordinated its activities with the Trump campaign, an allegation he has denied. “The big story is the ‘unmasking and surveillance’ of people that took place during the Obama administration,” Trump tweeted Thursday.
According to a tally by U.S. spy agencies, the House Intelligence Committee requested five to six unmaskings of U.S. organizations or individuals related to Trump or Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton between June 2016 and January 2017. Officials familiar with the matter said that the committee’s requests focused on the identities of U.S. organizations that had been hacked by the Russians in 2016. Officials declined to say how many of the requests came from Democrats vs. Republicans.
Nunes served subpoenas this week to the CIA, the NSA and the FBI asking for information about unmaskings requested by three former officials: national security adviser Susan E. Rice, CIA director John Brennan and U.N. ambassador Samantha Power.
On Thursday, Nunes tweeted, “Seeing a lot of fake news from media elites and others who have no interest in violations of Americans’ civil liberties via unmaskings.”
Democrats on the panel say they believe the latest direction of Nunes’s investigation is designed to deflect attention from the Russia probe. In April, Nunes was forced to recuse himself from the committee’s probe of Russia because of allegations he may have inappropriately disclosed classified information. Nunes has denied any wrongdoing.
From McClatchy DC Bureau and written by Michael Doyle —
After President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, Rep. Devin Nunes was the only one of the top four members of a congressional intelligence committee not to issue a statement.
The California Republican’s last Twitter comment on any topic was posted in mid-March. He’s been absent from national TV. Once the public face of intelligence policy in the House of Representatives, Nunes has seemingly all but disappeared on the hottest topic of the day.
His very important responsibilities, though, remain.
Notably, the House on May 3 passed crucial intelligence legislation painstakingly written by the secretive committee Nunes still leads.
Gone for the moment were questions about an ethics inquiry that’s sidelined Nunes from his committee’s most pressing challenge, a politically delicate probe of alleged Russian interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Back, for the time being, was the bipartisan accord the Intelligence Committee cultivates in both its public legislating and closed-door oversight sessions.