Christmas Carol

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

(Cartoonist - Jimmy Margulies)

In other news, the Washington Post reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis all advised Trump against rapidly withdrawing from Syria, but he did it anyway. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford wasn't even in the meeting when Trump made the decision.

Meanwhile, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker reportedly chose not to recuse himself from the special prosecutor's investigation even though ethics officials recommended that he should.

And in related news, Buzzfeed News reports that Russian officials tried to obtain confidential records about critics and people close to Hillary Clinton from the Treasury Department in 2016 through a previously unreported back channel of communication.

The extraordinary unofficial line of communication arose in the final year of the Obama administration — in the midst of what multiple US intelligence agencies have said was a secret campaign by the Kremlin to interfere in the US election. Russian agents ostensibly trying to track ISIS instead pressed their American counterparts for private financial documents on at least two dozen dissidents, academics, private investigators, and American citizens. [...]

Russia’s financial crimes agency, whose second-in-command is a former KGB officer and schoolmate of President Vladimir Putin, also asked the Americans for documents on executives from two prominent Jewish groups, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Jewish Women, as well as Kremlin opponents living abroad in London and Kiev.

In an astonishing departure from protocol, documents show that at the same time the requests were being made, Treasury officials were using their government email accounts to send messages back and forth with a network of private Hotmail and Gmail accounts set up by the Russians, rather than communicating through the secure network usually used to exchange information with other countries.

This story is going to take a long time to unpack in the coming weeks and months.

Here are some other stories I didn't get to this week:

Secretary of Defense James Mattis says he's retiring at the end of February because Trump is too batshit.

Remember the Georgia gubernatorial candidate who drove around the state in a "deportation bus?" He's just been indicted for insurance fraud.

Four Republican state lawmakers in Kansas, all women, have switched parties and joined the Democrats.

The Unites States has been added to the list of most dangerous countries for journalists for the first time ever.

The Illinois state attorney general's office has found the state's catholic church has hidden the names of at least 500(!) clergy members who've been accused of sexual abusing children. The Catholic Church is a child sex trafficking ring.

The Trump campaign and NRA are already breaking campaign finance law before the campaign season even really begins.

An assistant principal at Liberty High School in Harrison County, West Virginia barged into a boys bathroom and berated a transgender teen for using a stall instead of a urinal. And they say transgender people are the real threat; look at this asshole.

Public record show Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross never fully divested from his stock even though he claimed he did. Twice. Honestly, I kind of forgot Ross exists.

Finally, an Economic Policy Institute study found that bad decisions made by elected officials are primarily responsible for stagnant wages, not market forces. No shit?

Programming note... we'll be out of commission here for the next week between Christmas and the new year. Everyone should relax as much as they can before Democrats take control of oversight in Congress and the presidential primary season begins. I'm tentatively planning to be back in action here on January 3rd.

The federal government may partially shutdown tomorrow night (mostly just the Department of Homeland Security, not essential health care services), but honestly I don't give shit. Merry Christmas!

  • katanahamon

    Wow, you guys have a ton to catch up on..the Rump news generated is years..much more than normal. Apparently the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has gotten involved in the secret court filings thing, the one where they cleared the court. He’s put a hold, or rather is challenging lower court rulings in Mueller’s favor. Stay tuned on that one..

  • katanahamon

    I just went to the “contact Nancy Pelosi” site and asked that they stay strong, not appease Rump on the border funding. I asked that since he wouldn’t sign a bipartisan bill, we should now reduce our commitment from 1.6 billion to 999 million. The longer the shutdown, keep lowering our commitment level. No appeasement or reward for shutdown, but punishment. Please contact the Democrats of your own choosing and demand that we not cave in on this!!

  • katanahamon

    Let’s talk GM..recipient of billions in bailout monies, and also benefactor of the trillion(s) in Rump’s tax cut closing five of their American plants. Time for them to reimburse the American taxpayers. Stop bailing out corporations, plus giving them tax breaks all so they can threaten to close plants as a union busting tactic to make yet more money and buy back even more stock.

  • katanahamon

    Well..Rump did it again. He posted a picture of Navy seals on Twitter, revealing their location and identities. From the Guardian…

    “After making a holiday visit to US troops in Iraq, Donald Trump posted a video on Twitter of himself posing with Navy Seals – revealing the special ops team’s deployment in the country, which is typically kept secret.

    Trump’s video shows him with service members who appear to be part of Seal Team Five, whose faces are not covered or blurred, Newsweek reported.

    Defense department officials told the magazine that information about where Seal teams are deployed is almost always classified. Trump, as commander in chief, has the authority to declassify the information, but typically the faces of individual special operations service members are blurred in official photos and videos to shield their identities.

    Trump arrived in Iraq the day after Christmas, having faced criticism for not visiting US troops deployed overseas. His visit was shrouded in secrecy, and reporters accompanying him were required to agree to keep the details of the trip under wraps until the president finished giving remarks to a group of about 100 troops, mostly US special operations forces deployed for combat operations in Iraq and Syria, according to a pool report.”

  • katanahamon

    Isn’t it weird that some R’s like Corker are attacking Rump, but Lindsay Graham is defending him? I guess Graham is old enough that once Rump gets impeached and jailed he can just retire..

  • Happy Holidays, Ashby!!!!!

  • Georgie
  • KanaW

    Happy Holidays, Ashby! All the best to you and yours from the UK.

  • muselet

    Happy Holiday(s) of Your Choice, everyone.

    And yes, I’ve posted this song before (hey, at least it’s a different performance).


  • Aynwrong

    Happy Holidays to all the regulars here and especially to you Ash for all hard work you put in. I hope everyone has some good times and a restful break before the new year.

  • katanahamon

    I wonder if the ppl switching to be Dems in Kansas are only doing so to try to retain their seats, then vote R anyway. Have to watch them. No surprise Rump is ignoring advice. Time to impeach, indict, prosecute, incarcerate. Happy holidays, all. Bake some bread, desserts, pizza, make some Chinese dumplings..

  • gescove

    Happy Holidays, Ashby! Thank you for your amazing work.