According to a report in Bloomberg News, there’s an increasing push among House Republicans to pass some kind of short-term “clean” debt ceiling bill. It would likely be a “suspension” of the debt ceiling rather than raising it. For these purposes, however, same difference. As we noted yesterday, the governing idea seems to be to time a debt-ceiling crisis to Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. This would combine both a debt default cliff and a government shut down cliff on one big fiscal Armageddon day.
There are two goals to this. One is to add pressure by bundling all the bad, scary things into a single day (though I’m not sure that actually places more pressure on the White House) and also to make it a date certain. Currently, the Treasury is doing all these accounting tricks, juggling things in the air, also dealing with the uncertainty of just when tax revenues come in. It’s very hard to know just when the big moment comes and the Treasury doesn’t necessarily have a strong interest in telling the House just when that happens. If you’re planning a showdown you want to know exactly when showdown day is. This would provide that certainty for House Republicans. It would definitely come exactly on Sept. 30.
Under court order, San Francisco police have just released video of the assault on Paul Pelosi and the arrest of his attacker David DePape. I’d suggest a soft content warning. It’s not gory but you do see DePape in one quick moment slam the hammer down on to Pelosi’s head, though Pelosi is slightly out of the picture at that point. Video under the fold.
Thursday The New York Times published a retrospective and analysis of the “Durham investigation,” the probe Bill Barr stood up to discredit the earlier Trump/Russia probes and which long served as the shining hope of Trump partisans, the vehicle of a promised vengeance that never arrived. Indeed, Durham’s investigation has lasted almost four years, far longer than any of the various probes it purported to scrutinize. The picture the Times story paints is stark if unsurprising: a politicized, instinctively unethical and deeply corrupt effort which managed to embody in almost cartoonish fashion the story it sought to tell about the original Russia investigation. The one thing a criminal investigation is never supposed to be is one that starts knowing the conclusion it wants to arrive at, brings a heavy dose of political motivation and bends rules and cuts corner to get where it wants to go. That caricature describes the Durham probe to a T. The two cases Durham managed to bring to trial were mainly vehicles for airing tendentious conspiracy theories he couldn’t prove and had no real evidence for. The actual cases were laughed out of court with speedy acquittals.
Would love to be a fly on the wall for this bro-fest.
The one attention-seeker who debased himself on the House floor for an entire week in order to get his new job wanted to show the other attention-seeker, who pretended to want to buy Twitter to own the libs and then actually had to buy it, his new office.
According to severalreports from the Hill it seems that Elon Musk met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) today. McCarthy claims that the meeting was just a couple of old pals broing out on his birthday.
Today in Republicans, we find that there seems to be at least signs of a real race for RNC chair, a contest that three-term incumbent Ronna McDaniel has seemed to have locked up. I suspect McDaniel still has the votes. But today Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, most recently seen with his poll numbers falling against ex-President Trump, has told far-right luminary Charlie Kirk that he’s backing Harmeet Dhillon, McDaniel’s top opponent.
“I think we need a change … I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC.”
A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate discuss early 2024 Senate projections and the discovery of yet more classified documents, this time at the home of former Vice President Mike Pence.
You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.
In general, I’m of the mind that it’s not really “wasting” money to spend a lot in one place when the money is better spent elsewhere. If Dems are burning money on a hopeless race in Kentucky just because they despise Mitch McConnell it doesn’t mean that money was really on offer for a sleeper race in another part of the country. I also think campaign dollars are fairly elastic. That person who’s given candidate A $100 probably has another $100 they can give to candidate B if that other candidate catches their fancy. But TPM Reader HS makes a decent point about a possible bonfire of Dem campaign dollars about to be spent in California.
I don’t think it’s too soon to warn TPM readers away from picking a candidate for the Feinstein seat. Democratic Party activists are about to waste tens of millions of dollars (hundreds of millions?) on the Porter/Lee/Schiff race that really doesn’t matter, they all would be more than adequate.
Here’s a tweet thread by Tim Snyder, the Yale history professor whose expertise both on the borderlands between Russia and Germany (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania et al.) and democracy and authoritarianism have put him at the center of numerous public discussions over the last half dozen years. The thread basically looks at The Long Trump-Russia Story in the context of the arrest of Charles McGonigal, the high-ranking FBI counterintelligence agent.
Are House Republicans going wobbly on debt-ceiling hostage taking?
Roll Call reports that House Republicans are now considering passing a series of short-term “clean” debt-limit suspensions in order to create more time for negotiations with the White House over the debt limit and all the spending cuts House Republicans are demanding.
There’s a lot of jargon here. So let me explain what this means.
The House would pass a series of short term laws “suspending” the debt limit. It wouldn’t create a higher debt ceiling but empower the Treasury to simply ignore the debt limit for a period of time. The point is that the crisis seems to be coming sooner than House Republicans want. Generally, the side that wants to free up more time for “negotiations” isn’t on the winning side of the engagement.
Mother Jones called the attorney for Thomas Datwyler, a campaign finance consultant who was listed on a handful of FEC docs filed by campaign committees affiliated with George Santos as the Santos campaign’s new treasurer today, replacing Nancy Marks. Datwyler’s attorney told the publication that he never agreed to be treasurer and even told the campaign straight up that he wasn’t interested in the gig.
Donald Trump Jr. on Saturday said that his father did speak to fired FBI Director James Comey about his preferred outcome for the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, though President Donald Trump flatly denied doing so.
“When I hear the Flynn comments, you and I know both know my father for a long time. When he tells you to do something, guess what? There’s no ambiguity in it,” Trump Jr. told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro. “There’s no ‘Hey, I’m hoping. You and I are friends. Hey, I hope this happens, but you’ve got to do your job.’ That’s what he told Comey.”
On Friday, however, the President flatly denied making those remarks to Comey or pressuring him to drop the investigation into Flynn, implicitly or otherwise.
“You said you hoped the Flynn investigation he could let go,” ABC News’ Jon Karl asked Trump during a press conference.
“I didn’t say that,” Trump interrupted.
“So he lied about that?” Karl asked, referring to Comey.
“Well, I didn’t say that,” Trump said. “And I mean I will you tell you I didn’t say that.”
But, he added, “There would be nothing wrong if I did say it, according to everybody that I’ve read today, but I did not say that.”
Trump Jr. on Saturday claimed that “everything that went on in the Comey testimony was basically ridiculous.”
“For this guy as a politician to then go back and write a memo, ‘oh, I felt,’ he felt so threatened, he felt that — but he didn’t do anything!” Trump Jr. said.
Comey’s blockbuster testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, however, prompted Trump to offer to do the same.
Off message here for Trump Jr. Says his father did tell Comey he hoped he let the Flynn investigation go. His dad says that's a lie. pic.twitter.com/oOhaFgZY4a
Trump made similar remarks on Friday in another early morning tweet where he labeled Comey a “leaker,” referring to Comey’s decision to share the contents of memos about his conversations with Trump to the press via a friend.
Comey revealed that decision during his testimony on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he painted Trump as a liar and testified that Trump tried to obtain a loyalty pledge from the former FBI head and pushed him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump on Friday said he was “100 percent” willing to match Comey and testify under oath to contradict Comey’s testimony.
A spokesman for Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Thursday pushed back on several aspects of James Comey’s Senate testimony after the former FBI director raised new questions about Sessions’ actions before and after he recused himself from the federal investigation of Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.
Comey’s testimony touched on Sessions at several points. He hinted that the FBI was aware of information that led the bureau to believe Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia probe weeks before he actually did so, and reportedly told senators in a subsequent closed session that Sessions may have met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. on a third occasion that the attorney general had not disclosed.
The morning after former FBI Director James Comey delivered blockbuster testimony in the Senate in which he painted President Donald Trump as a liar and said that the President pressured him to quash a probe into Michael Flynn, Trump published a tweet declaring “vindication.”
Trump published his tweet shortly after 6 a.m. on Friday morning, during the time frame when he typically shares his thoughts on Twitter.
He referenced “false statements and lies,” appearing to accuse Comey of lying under oath.
Trump also labeled Comey a “leaker,” referencing Comey’s decision to get a friend to share the contents of memos about his conversations with Trump to the press, a revelation the former FBI director shared on Thursday during with the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!
James Comey testified Thursday that he was “stunned” by requests President Donald Trump made to curtail federal investigations related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and thought the President’s remarks were of investigative interest— and it seems other senior FBI officials agree.
Though the ousted FBI director did not go as far as accusing Trump of attempting to obstruct justice, Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee offered the clearest indication yet that the President may already be under scrutiny for exactly that.
Part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s job is to “sort that out,” Comey said, dismissing questions from the assembled senators on whether he personally believed Trump obstructed justice. His testimony made the case for why he felt “sure” that Mueller would look into the multiple one-on-one conversations that Trump requested of his then-FBI director.
Comey says Trump asked him to quash the FBI’s investigation into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn in one Feb. 14 exchange in the Oval Office. In a March 30 phone call, Comey says Trump requested that he lift the “cloud” that the Russia probe was casting over his administration.
“I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the President was an effort to obstruct,” Comey said of the Feb. 14 meeting. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense.”
Importantly, Comey noted that Trump asked other senior officials, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, to clear the room before initiating the conversation about the Flynn probe. He noted those officials hesitated before complying.
“Why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office?” Comey said. “That, to me as an investigator, is a very significant fact.”
Senior FBI officials briefed on that conversation said it was “of investigative interest” to determine the intent of Trump’s statements about Flynn, Comey testified.
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe made similar remarks in separate testimony before the committee on Wednesday, telling Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) that it was “accurate” to assume that Comey’s private conversations with Trump either already are or are “likely to become part of a criminal investigation.”
These loaded comments apparently did not trouble Trump’s legal team or his defenders on Capitol Hill, who insisted that Comey’s testimony actually vindicated the President. They noted that, as Trump previously said, Comey confirmed that he informed Trump on three separate occasions that the President was not the subject of a counterintelligence investigation.
Republican lawmakers, the White House and Trump’s own family members also argued that the President was merely looking out for the interest of Flynn, a longtime adviser, and never explicitly ordered Comey to end any investigation. Those defenders neglected to mention that Comey testified that a senior FBI official cautioned him against telling Trump he was not a part of the federal investigation, because that person believed that “inevitably his behavior, his conduct will fall within the scope.”
Whether Trump requested or ordered that Comey drop the investigation into Flynn is an irrelevant semantic distinction. As Comey testified, Trump asked him to swear “loyalty” and repeatedly brought up the status of his job in their conversations, leaving the former FBI director with the impression that his continued tenure at the bureau was “contingent upon how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty.”
He did not comply with Trump’s requests and was fired only four months into Trump’s term. By the President’s own admission, Comey was dismissed because of the “Russia thing.”
“I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted,” Comey testified. “That is a very big deal.”
The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said Thursday that it was “hard to overstate the significance” of fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), whose committee is leading its own investigation into Russian election meddling, wrote in a statement responding to Comey’s testimony that it “constitutes evidence of an intention to interfere or potentially obstruct at least a portion of the Russia investigation, if not more.”
Read Schiff’s full statement below:
“Today, former FBI Director James Comey testified that the President of the United States demanded his loyalty, and directed him to drop a criminal investigation into his former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. Director Comey further testified that he believes President Trump ultimately fired him in order to alter the course of the FBI’s Russia investigation. It is difficult to overstate the significance of this testimony.
“These discussions and others took place in one-on-one telephone conversions and meetings initiated by the President, or after the President cleared the room of other people. Director Comey wrote memoranda about his conversations with President Trump because he was worried that the President and his Administration would misrepresent them.
“In my view, this testimony constitutes evidence of an intention to interfere or potentially obstruct at least a portion of the Russia investigation, if not more. It will be important for Congress to obtain evidence to corroborate this testimony — the memoranda, certainly, as well as any tapes, if they exist. We should also interview those around Director Comey at the time of these contacts, to get their contemporaneous impressions of his conversations with the President and to supplement his testimony. Finally, we cannot accept the refusal of Directors Rogers and Coats to answer questions about whether they were asked to intervene with Comey on the Flynn case or any related matter. Similarly, we will need to ask Director Pompeo the same questions. These additional steps are vital to determining the ultimate significance of the President’s actions.”
A routine budget hearing in the Senate next week featuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions took on heightened importance following ousted FBI Director James Comey’s explosive Thursday testimony, which raised questions about what Sessions did both before and after he recused himself from the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
At least one member of the Appropriations Committee, Vice Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), plans to use next week’s budget hearing as an opportunity to grill Sessions about Russia, Comey and President Donald Trump. “I have many important questions for him to answer,” he said in a statement.
During his feverishly-anticipated testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, ousted FBI Director James Comey made a host of major revelations about his handling of President Donald Trump and the federal investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election in the months before he was abruptly fired in May.
Importantly, Comey disclosed new information about actions he took when he became concerned about the Trump administration’s attempts to establish a “patronage” relationship with him and persuade him to drop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn. Here’s an overview of some of the most significant moments from the hearing, where Comey revealed exactly what steps he took and why he took them.
Throughout his testimony Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey repeatedly stressed the serious implications of Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. He argued that the issue of Russian meddling it not about politics, but about the credibility of the American government.
Toward the beginning of the hearing, Comey said that he has no doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election and that Russian government officials were aware of the meddling.
He later stressed that Russian interference is very real, countering President Donald Trump’s constant dismissals of the Russia probe.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) asked Comey about the way Trump has discussed Russia’s election meddling, noting that the President has described Russian interference “as a hoax and as fake news.” In response, Comey stressed that there’s no doubt that the Russian government tried to interfere in the 2016 election and that the conclusion on Russia’s actions is “about as unfake as you can possibly get.”
“There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. And it was an active measures campaign driven from the top of the government. There is no fuzz on that,” Comey said.
“It is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community — and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence — it’s not a close call,” he continued. “That happened. That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get and is very, very serious, which is why it’s so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. Because this is about America, not about any particular party.”
Asked if it was a “hostile act by the Russian government,” Comey replied, “Yes.”
Later in his testimony, Comey emphasized that Russia’s attempt to meddle in the election is a threat to the United States and should rise above politics. He delivered a passionate monologue about just how grave a threat Russia’s meddling is to America.
“The reason this is such a big deal is we have this big, messy, wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time but nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for, except other Americans. And that’s wonderful and often painful,” Comey said. “But we’re talking about a foreign government that — using technical intrusion, lots of other methods — tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act.”
“That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally,” he continued. “They want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. And so they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That’s what this is about. And they will be back, because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other — we remain that shining city on the hill and they don’t like it.”
The former FBI director also noted that Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2016 election was part of an ongoing effort targeted at the U.S.
“It’s a long-term practice of theirs. It stepped up a notch in a significant way in ’16. They’ll be back,” he told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
He stressed that the probe into Russian election meddling is also about prevention of future attacks, saying that Russia is not a threat to any one political party, but to the country as a whole.
Comey also addressed some of the details of the the FBI’s investigation into Russian hacking attempts. He said there was a “massive” effort to target government agencies and non-governmental groups, estimating that hundreds, possibly around 1,000, entities were targeted. He also said that the FBI never examined the hardware that was hacked at the Democratic National Committee’s, but that the FBI got the information they needed from a third party.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Thursday reflected ruefully on his questions to fired FBI Director James Comey during an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads,” McCain said in a statement. “Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games.”