I mentioned last night that incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's son has been aggressively spreading the "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory that led to the shooting in D.C. yesterday. As I mentioned, Flynn Jr isn't some ne'er-do-well son who has no meaningful connection to his father. He was his top aide and chief of staff at the consulting firm the general ran after he left the military. I was curious if there was more because on Flynn Jr.'s twitter bio he lists the URL of the Trump presidential transition. Is he now on the government payroll? You can't necessarily draw that inference since obviously you can put anything you want on your twitter bio. But now CNN has confirmed that Flynn Jr. does have an official government transition email address. So this guy who is actively involved in spreading this dangerous nonsense is literally on the government payroll and looks likely to work in the government under President Trump.
House Republicans have the D.C. press onboard with the idea that they're going to push through "Repeal and Delay" in the first weeks of the Trump administration and Medicare phaseout later in the year. But in an interview with the Portland Press Herald, Susan Collins seems like lukewarm or a no on both. (Lauren Fox has more on the story here.)
Without making a hard commitment, Collins told the paper she is not inclined to support plans to 'privatize' Medicare.
Politico has a story out today saying the GOP is betting Americans just don't care about Trump and his family openly leveraging the Presidency for massive self-enrichment. As Newt Gingrich explains, “This is a great test case between the pre-Trump and post-Trump worlds. In a pre-Trump world dominated by left-wing ideas, anyone successful is inherently dangerous and should be punished for trying to serve the country.” It is fair to point out that while the article is about "Republicans", the big quotes are all from Gingrich, a man as civically and ethically vacant as he's ever.
Thankfully, no one was hurt. But you may have heard that a man from Salisbury, North Carolina, Edgar Maddison Welch, shot up a pizza joint in Washington, DC today in an effort to 'investigate' the "Pizza Gate" conspiracy theory.
What on earth is Pizza Gate, you may ask? It's a Reddit-based far right conspiracy theory alleging a child sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton and John Podesta out of a DC pizza shop.
Here's a tweet tonight from the son of Michael Flynn, the incoming National Security Advisor.
— Michael G Flynn🇺🇸 (@mflynnJR) December 5, 2016
Not a surprise at this point, but the Post has a story explaining that Trump's call withe the President of Taiwan was planned in advanced by staff on both sides.
Meanwhile, as the Times reports, when Ivanka Trump sat in on that meeting with her father and Japanese PM Abe, her company was in the midst of finalizing a detail with a Japanese apparel giant which - through a few layers of ownership - is majority owned by the government of Japan
This Times article notes that DC Republicans - particularly House Republicans - are coalescing around a "repeal and delay" strategy to repeal Obamacare. It is important to state clearly what this means.
It is a recognition that Republicans still have no plan to replace Obamacare with anything. The real plan is simply to go back to how things were before 2010. But that has become at least optically impossible since many key provisions are very popular - a ban on denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, kids up to 26 on parents plans, 20 million people with new coverage. But as the Times notes, they feel the need to repeal it now to fulfill their campaign promise. Repealing it now without any clear plan or roadmap for replace it will produce chaos in insurance markets. They do not appear to have a plan to deal with that other than to blame Democrats for it if they come up with a plan before November 2018 and Democrats don't help them pass it. I remain skeptical of how this all works in the Senate.
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This morning I had an email exchange with a friend who said maybe it's not so bad that Trump got in the Chinese leaders' faces, shook them up a bit and knocked them back on their heels. After all, Taiwan is a democratic polity with free markets and free labor and has been now for many years. Why maintain the longstanding diplomat charade that we don't recognize the Taiwanese government when in fact they are a major ally and trading partner which we have armed for decades and to whom we extend what might be termed a contingent and intentionally ambiguous security guarantee?
This Trump call to the President of Taiwan is as dangerous as it sounds. What makes it even crazier is that we don't really know if this is a considered and deliberate provocation, an accident because Trump doesn't even know the diplomatic protocol on this or just something some China hawk aide talked him into while he was eating a Taco salad.
I suspect there's an element of each in play.
I wanted to share a few thoughts about Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) who is running for DNC Chair and is now at the center of a growing storm of criticism in large part because the ADL put out a statement saying statements by Ellison recorded in 2010 are "disturbing and disqualifying." The latter, categorical word "disqualifying" is the key one. We reported the ADL comments yesterday.
Here are my thoughts.
It now seems pretty clear that there's a big problem with the lease Donald Trump holds on his new hotel in DC. It says clearly that no federal elected official can participate in or benefit from the lease. On January 20th, Trump becomes that person. I've been waiting for more lawyers to pop up to say that the contract doesn't actually say what it appears to say. But everyone seems to agree that it does. There was just a segment on CNN discussing this. And they note that the landlord is the GSA (General Services Administration) - the agency that owns the government's buildings and a lot of its stuff. The GSA administrator serves at the pleasure of the president and is appointed without Senate approval. So Trump's landlord will be appointed by Trump and can be fired at any time by Trump.
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that GSA will not enforce this part of the contract.