12.18.2017 - 11:25 AM EDT

On Friday, I noted that there is clearly a move afoot to fire Bob Mueller (sub req.). But it is less a conspiracy or planned course of action than a rising tide of fear and anger with different pro-Trump factions trying to delegitimize Mueller for its own sake and, if at all possible, goad President Trump into firing Mueller in a fit of impulse rage and fear – much as he did six months ago with James Comey. Paradoxically, Trump is himself part of the effort to ramp him into taking action. Chaos and fear are as much a part of it as planning. It’s more Lord of the Flies than Ocean’s Eleven. Still a key part of what is happening is not only that pro-Trump Republicans are trying to lay the groundwork for Mueller’s dismissal. They’re trying to goad Trump into taking the plunge. Because only the President can make this happen. Everything else is preparation and encouragement.

12.18.2017 - 10:12 AM EDT

Yesterday I read one of those articles I was semi-used to in the Bush era and now am very used to in the Trump era. Trump has a new “labor” advisor. His name is James Sherk. His big issue is federal workers are paid too much and have too many job benefits. They also don’t work enough, according to Sherk. Trump has empowered him to fix the problem by cutting salaries and benefits for federal workers. In other words, James Sherk seems like a really nice guy.

Federal workers, you’re welcome.

So I figure I’ll look James up on Linkedin and see what his background is. It was a good hunch.

12.17.2017 - 11:04 AM EDT

Behind the new faux controversy over Mueller getting Trump transition emails is a key and probably too little discussed aspect of the Russia story: Mueller’s team has some of the most accomplished and aggressive prosecutors and legal minds of their generation. They’re facing off against a team of has-beens, 3rd or 4th rate lawyers and in some cases simple incompetents. Why? Because Trump values sycophancy above competence and because none of the top lawyers were willing to work for him. 

12.15.2017 - 7:53 PM EDT

I think we’re seeing signs that the ground is being laid to fire Bob Mueller and end all investigations into President Trump and Russia. I’m not saying it will happen or that the effort will be successful. But the effort is clearly afoot. Here are the indications (sub req.) as I see them.

12.15.2017 - 4:30 PM EDT

A few moments ago, Rep. Adam Schiff made a point on MSNBC which I think is critical and has been too little noted.

12.15.2017 - 3:41 PM EDT

When you’re this openly demanding that senior FBI officials be fired, you know the move to the purge is well underway. This is very dangerous stuff. All about giving President Trump impunity from the rule of law.

12.15.2017 - 11:08 AM EDT

There’s no downward limit on President Trump’s immigrant bashing and racism. But I want you to listen to this riff. It’s astonishing coming from a US president.

12.15.2017 - 11:04 AM EDT

The extraordinary comments this morning from President Trump – even though they have become par for the course from him – remain extraordinary. He castigated the FBI and dismissed the Russia collusion investigation that the FBI is conducting as a “scam.” He made the remarks to reporters he was leaving the White House to … address the FBI at Quantico.

The key sections (transcript via White House):

12.15.2017 - 10:16 AM EDT

I mentioned a number of the times the close-knit, half-law-&-order, half one step ahead of the law New York City/GOP world without which it’s basically impossible to understand Donald Trump. It’s the Trump world, the Rudy world, the Ailes world and a slew of other mini-tycoons and sometimes politicians who’ve built a certain sort of clannish, often incestuous and uniquely authoritarian-leaning GOP that could only exist in what is one of the richest and also most liberal cities in the world. Allegra Kirkland captures it here in just one paragraph of her look at “Judge Jeanine” Pirro.

12.14.2017 - 7:59 PM EDT

President Trump spoke today with President Putin. From the White House readout …

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Call with President Vladimir Putin of Russia

President Donald J. Trump spoke with President Vladimir Putin of Russia today. President Trump thanked President Putin for acknowledging America’s strong economic performance in his annual press conference.

The two presidents also discussed working together to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea.

This was an apparent reference to Putin telling an end of the year press conference that the success of the stock market and ongoing economic growth was a sign of the power of President Trump’s stewardship of the economy. This was apparently the main thing they talked about on the phone.

12.14.2017 - 5:41 PM EDT

In recognition of a truly landmark year of stunning scandals and betrayals of the public trust, it’s time to unveil TPM’s nominees for the 11th Annual Golden Dukes!

These awards are named in honor of former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, whose enormous bribery schemes made him the poster boy for modern scandal (well, for now). Every year, we select the most outrageous moments of corruption and general dipshittery in this fine nation’s political arena to see who has raised the bar for utter shamelessness.

Last year, we said 2016 would make Duke proud. This year, he may have actually found his heroes.

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