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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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Bombshell Report Uncovers Right-Wing 'Sting' Plot Against McMaster, FBI

Undercover operatives from the right-wing Project Veritas worked with a former British spy and Betsy DeVos' brother Erik Prince to wage a smear and sting operation to discredit "deep state" federal government officials on President Donald Trump's enemies list while he was in office, including the White House National Security Adviser and unnamed FBI agents.

The New York Times broke the bombshell story, reporting that the "campaign included a planned sting operation against Mr. Trump's national security adviser at the time, H.R. McMaster, and secret surveillance operations against F.B.I. employees, aimed at exposing anti-Trump sentiment in the bureau's ranks.

""The campaign," the Times reports, "shows the obsession that some of Mr. Trump's allies had about a shadowy 'deep state' trying to blunt his agenda — and the lengths that some were willing to go to try to purge the government of those believed to be disloyal to the president."

"Central to the effort, according to interviews, was Richard Seddon, a former undercover British spy who was recruited in 2016 by the security contractor Erik Prince to train Project Veritas operatives to infiltrate trade unions, Democratic congressional campaigns and other targets. He ran field operations for Project Veritas until mid-2018."

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Last year, The New York Times reported that Mr. Seddon ran an expansive effort to gain access to the unions and campaigns and led a hiring effort that nearly tripled the number of the group's operatives, according to interviews and deposition testimony. He trained operatives at the Prince family ranch in Wyoming.

The Times' extensive reporting, which runs about 2700 words, does not reveal who initiated or who bankrolled the campaign.

The Times reports the operation was run out of a Washington, D.C, townhouse that rented for $10,000 a month, and that it is not known if President Trump or his closest advisors, including family members, were aware of the operation or had anything to do with it.

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"The operation against Mr. McMaster was hatched not long after an article appeared in BuzzFeed News about a private dinner in 2017. Exactly what happened during the dinner is in dispute, but the article said that Mr. McMaster had disparaged Mr. Trump by calling him an 'idiot' with the intelligence of a 'kindergartner.'"

Those allegations were never proven, although they echo what some others inside the administration, like first Trump Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, had allegedly stated.

In the end, McMaster resigned amid far right-wing attacks, but no recordings emerged of him calling Trump an "idiot."

Read the entire New York Times investigation here.




The Times' extensive reporting, which runs about 2700 words, does not reveal who initiated or who bankrolled the campaign.The Times reports the operation was run out of a Washington, D.C, townhouse that rented for $10,000 a month, and that it is not known if President Trump or his closest advisors, including family members, were aware of the operation or had anything to do with it.Last year, The New York Times reported that Mr. Seddon ran an expansive effort to gain access to the unions and campaigns and led a hiring effort that nearly tripled the number of the group's operatives, according to interviews and deposition testimony. He trained operatives at the Prince family ranch in Wyoming.

The Times' extensive reporting, which runs about 2700 words, does not reveal who initiated or who bankrolled the campaign.The Times reports the operation was run out of a Washington, D.C, townhouse that rented for $10,000 a month, and that it is not known if President Trump or his closest advisors, including family members, were aware of the operation or had anything to do with it.


Danziger: Call Of Duty

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Danziger: Another Menacing Sploosh

Jeff Danziger’s award-winning drawings are published by more than 600 newspapers and websites. He has been a cartoonist for the Rutland Herald, the New York Daily News and the Christian Science Monitor; his work has appeared in newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to Le Monde and Izvestia. Represented by the Washington Post Writers Group, he is a recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army as a linguist and intelligence officer in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. Danziger has published ten books of cartoons and a novel about the Vietnam War. He was born in New York City, and now lives in Manhattan and Vermont. A video of the artist at work can be viewed here.

Was Trump Cabinet’s Loyalty Ritual Funny — Or Scary?

If you’ve been wondering what “loyalty” means to President Trump, his most recent cabinet meeting provides an illustration. Hint: it doesn’t necessarily include loyalty to the United States of America.

Rather, to the assorted Wall Street billionaires, politicians and captains of industry that the president has surrounded himself with, loyalty equates with obsequious, sycophantic praise for Trump himself.

The televised spectacle has to be seen to be believed. And the question is, was it more laughable or more scary? I confess being of two minds. 

On the comic side, I couldn’t help but think of the “mighty Emperor of Lilliput, Delight and Terror of the Universe” in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. To determine which of his courtiers gained preference, the Emperor—every bit of six inches tall—conducted public exhibitions of “leaping and creeping,” rather like dog agility trials. The winners particularly excelled at groveling.

That would be quite a competition in Trump’s cabinet. In an obviously scripted moment, Vice President Pence set the tone by piously intoning how serving the great man was the honor of his life.

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He’s really good at piety, Pence.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus then thanked Trump “for the opportunity and blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people.” Around the table it went, each cabinet secretary striving to outdo the others in expressing devotion to Trump.

Oleaginous HHS Secretary Tom Price may have taken the prize: “What an incredible honor it is to lead the Department of Health and Human Services at this pivotal time under your leadership. I can’t thank you enough for the privileges you’ve given me and the leadership that you’ve shown.”

This isn’t a cabinet, it’s a fan club.

Where did they find such an assemblage of brown-nosers? And why would a confident chief executive want them? Good luck anybody at that table ever telling Trump anything he doesn’t want to believe.

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Not that he ever listens.  

Anyway, even with his disapproval rating in Gallup’s daily tracking poll at 60 percent (versus 36 percent favorable), Trump positively wallowed in the warm bath of his underlings’ praise.  I’ve seen cocker spaniels more resistant to petting. Who’s a good boy? Donald’s a good boy!

The president modestly allowed that only Franklin Delano Roosevelt had accomplished as much during his first months in office.

Nobody laughed.

Thankfully, I suppose, only Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis resisted the urge to flatter the president. Instead, he spoke highly of serving “men and women of the Department of Defense,” as well he should. I actually believe it’s the patriotic duty of Mattis and beleaguered National Security Advisor Gen. H.R. McMaster to remain on duty almost regardless of the president’s follies.

During the assembly of Trump's Cabinet, on Monday, members around the table spoke effusively about the president. He sat beaming, soaking it all in. It was the first formal gathering of his most senior officials at the White House.As he struggles with myriad crises, the lavishing of praise and adulation contrasted with the storm enveloping the president. Prominent is an investigation into possible ties between his election campaign and Russian meddling in the race.For him, the meeting was a welcome rendering of what he feels are major accomplishments ignored by his detractors. Major legislative achievements have eluded him thus far.

Somebody’s got to man the watch.

Because on the scary side, you’d have to go somewhere like North Korea or, yes, Russia to find contemporary examples of the “Dear Leader” school of political leadership. That said, if Vladimir Putin appears to be Trump’s role model, there’s no reason to think the cunning Russian dictator is anywhere near as susceptible to flattery as our man-child president.

Nor as vulnerable, ultimately, to public opinion. In Russia, anybody as dangerous to Putin as Gen. Michael Flynn appears to be to President Trump would already be dead. A figure like former FBI Director James Comey would be in prison or exile. He’d be well-advised to avoid high balconies and open windows.

But this ain’t Russia.

Trump’s feckless attempts to co-opt, then fire Comey—a cagey, experienced political infighter—track almost exactly with Flynn’s legal perils. He first sought the FBI director’s personal loyalty one day after Assistant Attorney General Sally Yates warned the White House that Kremlin operatives had compromised Flynn. Trump then asked Comey to lay off Flynn the day after newspaper accounts forced his firing. Why?

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The president’s attempts at damage control have failed spectacularly. “Do you think Donald Trump colluded with Russia?” Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton asked during Comey’s recent Senate testimony.

“That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an open setting,” Comey answered, definitely not the response Cotton was looking for. He said a final answer would have to come from the ongoing FBI investigation.

Did I mention how cagey Comey can be?

Meanwhile, if upwards of one-third of American voters appear to have chosen party (in the person of Trump) over country, the rest of us surely have not.  Moreover, Trump supporters’ loyalty to him is based less upon indifference to Russian meddling in U.S. elections than simple disbelief. Many seem to be buying the president’s (pardon me) childish alibi that Democrats have made it all up to explain away Hillary Clinton’s losing the election.

How these things normally work is that zealous supporters cling to Dear Leader until the day after it all comes crashing down. Then suddenly nobody knows him anymore.