I noted yesterday this great piece of reporting by Roll Call which essentially showed that the White House knew the President was lying from beginning about his claims about calling bereaved families. They then scrambled to get names and contact information from the Pentagon to retroactively make the President’s claims ‘true’ as soon as possible.

Now we have some good follow-on reporting from The Atlantic, showing how the White House started express shipping condolence letters as the crazy week of lies, disgrace and nonsense unfolded.
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Col. Jack Jacobs, a medal of honor recipient himself, says Gen. John Kelly should simply apologize. More broadly, I thought this brief discussion from him is a good meditation on the moral sewer of Trumpism and even more, Donald Trump himself. He damages and diminishes everyone.

This is amazing, comical, sad. From Roll Call

In the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email.

The email exchange, which has not been previously reported, shows that senior White House aides were aware on the day the president made the statement that it was not accurate — but that they should try to make it accurate as soon as possible, given the gathering controversy.


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Today White House Press Briefing may turn out to be uglier than yesterday’s. Sarah Sanders just doubled down on the phony FBI building story, claimed Wilson said the really bad things off camera and then it was “highly inappropriate” to get into a “debate” with a Marine 4 Star General.

“If you want to go after General Kelly that’s up to you but i think that that … if you want to get into a debate with a Four Star Marine General I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

Why is most of the legitimate press ignoring that new Hillary/Uranium story Trumpers are going crazy about? Mainly it’s the story. But it’s also the byline: John Solomon. I explain with an Editor’s Brief (sub req).

Lost in the storm and anguish over John Kelly’s attacks today was a sobering reality. The ideological and rhetorical spine of his remarks was a paean to MAGA. The old days were good. We had real religion. Things were right with women. There was no abortion. Honor was sacred and respected. Now it’s all crap because of people like Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D), a showboater from Florida who transgressed our last sacred space.
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There was a lot to absorb from John Kelly’s verbal fusillade in the White House press briefing. I would say, a lot to criticize. But one of the oddest and cheapest moments came after he lashed out at Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) over her comments about the President. He then brought up a dedication ceremony for a new FBI field office in Miami that he and Wilson attended in the Spring of 2015.

Here’s what Kelly said
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Rep. Frederica Wilson responds to John Kelly’s attack: “John Kelly’s trying to keep his job,” Wilson told POLITICO on Thursday. “He will say anything. There were other people who heard what I heard.”

We’ll have reports on specifics shortly. But Chief of Staff John Kelly just spoke during the White House press briefing about the entire military bereavement phone call controversy. It was volcanic. He mercilessly attacked Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, both for her comments a couple days ago and for an earlier incident (which frankly seemed like a cheap shot). Kelly took basically complete responsibility for everything President Trump had done, what he had said, how he handled the phone calls to the families of the four who died in Niger.
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This is an uncomfortable topic. But when I came into the office this morning, CNN was interviewing the parents of Army Specialist Etienne Murphy about their son. It was a shattering interview. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder whether it isn’t exploitative for networks to put these families on camera at all. It seemed important to Etienne’s mother to read a statement she’d written about her experience. And if you’re going to do such interviews, the CNN host handled the interview with great sympathy and tact. The Murphys, like other families, had never received a call or any contact from the President.

But it also occurred to me: a lot of the relatives who received calls seem to be white and a number of ones who didn’t or had bad experiences seem to be black.
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**HOLD FOR STORY S HALL** Show is a Twitter mobile phone icon in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

While the storm and anguish of President Trump’s latest controversy rolls over the news, we’ve learned a lot more about the Russian influence operation supporting Donald Trump’s candidacy last year. Over recent weeks we had already found out about those few hundreds of accounts on Facebook and something in the range of $100,000 in paid advertising on the Facebook platform. Then there was a comparable series of findings on Twitter. More is in the process of emerging from Google and the various platforms it controls. But over recent days, as the information keeps coming, the very repetitiveness of the new findings or the constancy of the flow has perhaps obscured its newness and how much it expands the story.
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President Donald Trump, left, sitting next to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, right, speaks during a meeting of the committee and members of the President's economic team in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Another simply bizarre new thread in the Trump bereavement call story. The Post called the families of service members who’ve died in the line of duty since Trump became President. There were some good stories, some bad; some had never heard from the President. There were a lot of what you might call Trumpian moments. But the really bizarre story was his conversation with Chris Baldridge, the father of Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, killed in Afghanistan.
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We’re now getting all the accounts of just what President Trump said last night to the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, how she interpreted it, how her Congresswoman did, how her family did. These are harrowing situations under the best circumstances. Even for a normal person, a normal President, it’s hard to know just what to say. But why are we here? Why is this whole thing happening? It’s happening because, for whatever reason, Trump went silent on this, not only with the families but even with the public.
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Here’s the President’s comment on the Alexander-Murray Obamacare stabilization proposal from his speech this evening at the Heritage Foundation.

“And I’m pleased the Democrats have finally responded to my call for them to take responsibility for their Obamacare disaster and work with Republicans to provide much-needed relief to the American people. While I commend the bipartisan work done by Senators Alexander and Murray — and I do commend it — I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.”

… per the White House pool report.

Here’s my backgrounder (sub req) on the likely fall out of this Obamacare stabilization bill which has been tentatively agreed to in the Senate. It puts Republicans in an awful bind.

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters about Puerto Rico upon his return to the White House in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The United States has been in a more or less perpetual state of war since the fall of 2001. That’s more than fifteen years. Whether you support or oppose wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and lower intensity conflicts in various other countries, it has left thousands of American men and women dead and far more with longterm injuries. The number of US military deaths is down dramatically from the middle years of the Bush presidency and even from the early years of Obama’s presidency. Military deaths in Afghanistan actually went up dramatically during Obama’s first term as he refocused the country from Iraq to Afghanistan. (According to iCasaulties.org, 1,544 American military personal died in Afghanistan during Obama’s first four years in office. The number to date this year is 11.)
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President Donald Trump speaks as he stands next Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., after their meeting at the White House, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A week ago there was a raft of articles suggesting that President Trump was somehow coming undone. Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman had prominent Republicans speculating about the ex-generals having to wrestle the nuclear ‘football’ away from the President. Quotes had him “unstable”, “losing step”, “unraveling.” Retiring Senator Bob Corker said: “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him.”
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Why did President Trump make up this lie about President Obama not calling the families of bereaved soldiers? It wasn’t just Obama. He seemed to say that previous presidents didn’t do this at all or only did it rarely. Anyone who follows the news knows that’s not true. Basically all Presidents at some point talk about these conversations.

It seems hard to believe that he didn’t come up with this because he had no good explanation for the fact that he’s gone more than a week without making any contact with the families or even making any public statement on what happened.

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