Though I wrote about the particulars yesterday afternoon, the picture only fully crystallized for me this afternoon. President Trump’s visit to Brussels/Europe wasn’t just another grab bag of impulsive aggression and gaffes. It wasn’t scattershot. It was quite clearly focused on destabilizing and perhaps eviscerating the NATO Alliance and somewhat secondarily, but relatedly, the European Union. This has been the strategic goal of Russia and before it the Soviet Union for decades. The sum total of everything that happened on this trip casts the entire Trump/Russia story in a decidedly more ominous light.

And the light was already quite ominous.
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We’ve just had some highly disturbing, vaguely surreal new information reported by CNN. Two days ago The Washington Post reported that James Comey’s decision not to notify the Department of Justice about his July Clinton emails press conference was driven in part by emails or documents describing emails the FBI had found in troves of Russian-hacked emails which appeared to compromise Attorney General Lynch’s independence. The gist of the Post story was that Comey may have relied on what was in fact an exquisitely successful disinformation operation to make what turned out to be a highly consequential decision affecting the 2016 election.

This new CNN story contains an important twist.
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It’s been a few months (actually back to February 12th) since I did my last full timeline trying to make sense of Michael Flynn’s and the rest of the Trump Entourage’s role in the unfolding Russia drama. We’ve learned quite a lot since early February, to put it mildly. Why timelines? We think and exist in time. It’s the premise and check on the key dynamic necessary to understand anything: causality. For all these reasons I’ve always found them a critical first step to help me synthesize scatterings of information. So I’m back to constructing another. There’s so much out there that I’m going to need your help putting it all together. I’m going to start with the key developments but once I have that in place, I’m going to ask for your help filling in the details. More soon.

We are a mere 16 Prime sign ups short of our goal of 1000 sign ups for May. Awesome. Sign up now to get us past that milestone today. That will help us get a leg up on our annual drive which starts June 1st.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to unveil artifacts from the World Trade Center and Berlin Wall for the new NATO headquarters, Thursday, May 25, 2017, in Brussels. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

We’ve had a number of disquieting reports today from President Trump’s trip to Brussels and a meeting of NATO leaders. I want to step back from the particulars and look at the larger picture. 
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Professor of History and author, Allan Lichtman will be in The Hive on Thursday, June 1st at 1 PM EST to discuss impeachment. Over the course of his career he has correctly predicted the outcomes of all US presidential elections since 1984, including Trump’s victory in 2016. His latest work, “A Case For Impeachment,” illuminates exactly how the impeachment of President Trump might work by showing how his actions—past or future—make him uniquely vulnerable to impeachment proceedings. Submit your questions at any time or join us on Thursday! If you’d like to participate but don’t have TPM Prime, sign up here.

We just saw this embarrassing spectacle of President Trump not stating an unequivocal commitment to honoring Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which requires all member state to defend another member state under attack. But Trump also returned to this issue of NATO members being behind on their payments and owing the United States huge sums of money. This is simply false. And it is a falsehood in the service of President Trump’s still not fully explained desire to undermine NATO.
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/// Photo eds,Here is a photo I took today for a story moving now slugged Montana Special Election. This will be the last one of the night. Caption is below.Thanks,Matt, HLN26 - Greg Gianforte, right, receives congratulations from a supporter on Monday, March 06, 2017, in Helena, Montana, after winning the Republican nomination for Montana's special election for U.S. House. The technology entrepreneur will face Democratic nominee Rob Quist in the May 25 election (AP Photo/Matt Volz)

You can see that last night we had what I think has to be close to an unprecedented development in a US political race. The frontrunner candidate body-slammed a reporter for pressing for an answer about the new CBO score of Trumpcare. (It’s a secondary element of this story how charged and threatening that CBO is.) I’ve seen scuffles with reporters, shoves. Jostling in a press scrum is not uncommon and occasionally someone will get knocked down. But I genuinely can’t remember anything comparable to this.
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Tomorrow is the big special election for the open House seat in Montana. But something wild and really crazy apparently just happened. The GOP candidate Greg Gianforte reportedly body-slammed reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian. “Body slam” is often a loosely even comically used phrase. But Jacobs’ account as well as that of witnesses seems to confirm something like a literal and unprovoked body slamming.
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FBI Director James Comey adddresses the Intelligence and National Security Alliance Leadership Dinner in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, March 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

It’s so far in the weeds and doesn’t directly implicate or exonerate Trump. So I suspect it may somehow not get the attention it deserves. But the new report from the Post that James Comey’s decision to announce the Clinton “no charges” decision on his own in July 2016 may itself have been the product of a successful Russian disinformation campaign is simply remarkable.
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President Trump has hired lawyer Marc Kasowitz as his personal lawyer in the on-going Trump-Russia probe. In itself, this is uncontroversial and unsurprising. Every modern president has hired personal lawyers – in addition the White House Counsel – when they’re part of major investigations.

But there are more details about Kasowitz.
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They clashed during the 2016 campaign. But today President Trump visit Pope Francis at the Vatican, only with his family and a few top aides.

Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and President Donald Trump stand with Pope Francis during a meeting, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


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This is a very interesting passage from former CIA Director Brennan’s testimony before the House from about 20 minutes ago.

As a young analyst, I wouldn’t have had direct interaction with Andropov. But I have studied Russian intelligence activities over the years and I’ve seen it manifest in many different of our counterintelligence cases and how they have been able to get people, including inside the CIA, to become treasonous. And frequently, individuals who go along a treasonous path do not even realize they’re along that path until it gets to be a bit too late. And that’s why, again, my radar goes up early when I see certain things that I know what the Russians are trying to do, and I don’t know whether or not the targets of their efforts are as mindful of the Russian intentions as they need to be. 

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