U.S. Politics

Hillary Clinton Just Took Sean Spicer And Bill O’Reilly To The Woodshed, And It Is Beautiful (VIDEO)

Hillary Clinton Just Took Sean Spicer And Bill O’Reilly To The Woodshed, And It Is Beautiful (VIDEO)

Featured image via screengrab

ADDICTING INFO

While delivering the closing remarks at Tuesday’s Professional Business Women of California conference in San Francisco, Hillary Clinton couldn’t resist the urge to tell Team Trump to go f*ck themselves for their treatment of women.

“April Ryan, a respected journalist with unrivaled integrity, was doing her job just this afternoon in the White House press room when she was patronized and cut off trying to ask a question.”

Clinton also took aim at Trump ally, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, for his insanely racist joke about a black congresswoman’s hair:

“One of our own California congressmen Maxine Waters was taunted with a racist joke about her hair. Too many women, especially women of color, have had a lifetime of practice taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride.”

“But why should we have to?” Clinton asked rhetorically. “And any woman who thinks this couldn’t be directed at her is living in a dream world.”

This administration’s treatment of women, Muslims, people of color, anyone whose skin color is darker than a fresh piece of classroom chalk, and people in general, is abysmal.

Clinton warned us this would happen. More people should have listened.

Watch her remarks below:

John Prager

U.S. Politics

THE MEMO: Five takeaways from Comey’s big day

THE HILL

Comey’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee had been eagerly awaited. It lived up to its billing.

Here are the key points as the dust settles.

Comey did real damage to Trump

The FBI director inflicted a double blow on President Trump early on in the hearing.

He first confirmed that the bureau is investigating links between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government.

And he stated flatly that he had “no information” to support the president’s assertion, first made on Twitter, that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped him at Trump Tower.

The media focus will next turn to whether the bureau will uncover evidence of outright collusion between Team Trump and Moscow.

On the accusation of wiretapping, Comey did not even provide a fig leaf for the White House. In addition to asserting that the FBI has no evidence to support the wiretapping charges, Comey noted, “The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components. The department has no information that supports those tweets.”

The one-two punch from the FBI director made for a rough day for Trump and his aides.

On Twitter, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough called it “the worst day of Donald Trump’s presidency.”

The White House was quick to create distance

White House press secretary Sean Spicer took to the lectern in the press briefing room in the afternoon as Comey and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers were still testifying on Capitol Hill.

Spicer’s briefing was notable for the vigor with which he sought to put distance between the White House and the figures around whom speculation about Russian ties has swirled.

The effort was undermined, however, by Spicer’s insistence that one of those people, Paul Manafort, played “a very limited role” in Trump’s presidential bid.

In fact, Manafort became campaign chairman in May last year and effectively ran Trump’s campaign between June and August.

Spicer’s assertion drew negative comments from a number of prominent reporters, both on Twitter and on cable news, where the networks covered the events intensely throughout the day.

Spicer also took a verbal swing at “hangers-on around the campaign,” which appeared to be a reference to Carter Page, whose level of involvement with Team Trump remains unclear. Page, sometimes described as a campaign adviser on foreign policy, took a trip to Moscow last summer. Concrete details are scarce, and speculation is intense about that trip.

Trump loyalists have long been scathing about Page, but the push against Manafort — and to a more modest degree against controversial GOP consultant and longtime Trump friend Roger Stone — has only set the media’s antennae twitching with the sense that something big is around the corner.

Republicans want to make leaks the real story

While Democrats pushed their belief that there was something nefarious going on between the Trump campaign and Russia, Republicans stuck equally ferociously to insisting that people with access to classified information were leaking it to damage the new administration.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) was especially passionate on that topic. At one point, Gowdy appeared to suggest that reporters who published classified information should be prosecuted.

Even Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), who is generally seen as a more moderate figure than Gowdy, asserted, “I’ve never seen such a sustained period of leaks.”

Several Republican members of the panel seemed disquieted by how the controversy involving Michael Flynn came into the public domain. Flynn resigned after the shortest tenure ever as national security adviser when it emerged that he had misled Vice President Pence about the nature of phone conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

More broadly, however, there seemed to be an attempt to bolster the White House narrative that there is a “deep state” working to undermine the president.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!” the president tweeted on Monday morning.

Comey won’t be easy to sully

The Trump administration can’t have been happy with Comey’s testimony, but so far it is resisting any impulse to go on an all-out attack against him.

The first question Spicer faced at his briefing — from Jonathan Karl of ABC News — was whether the president still had “complete confidence” in the FBI director.

“There’s no reason to believe he doesn’t at this time,” Spicer replied.

While hardly a rip-roaring endorsement, those words underline the trouble the White House faces.

Comey famously earned the ire of Democrats in the closing stretch of last year’s presidential campaign when he announced that the bureau was investigating newly discovered messages possibly related to its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of State.

Some in Clinton’s orbit believe Comey’s announcement cost her the election. Whether that is true or not, Team Trump would have a near-impossible task in trying paint Comey as biased against it.

The White House is under a cloud

Near the end of the day’s proceedings, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told Comey he had put “a big gray cloud” over the White House.

Nunes, who worked on Trump’s transition team, appeared to be expressing dismay at that reality. But both parties would accept it as a fact.

The political dynamics have changed now that the FBI investigation is public knowledge.

The White House can expect to face questions on a daily basis about the probe, while the media attention on what Comey’s agents are finding, and about whom, will be feverish.

U.S. Politics

Pence’s Private Email Surfaces, And It’s The Most Heartbreaking Thing You’ll See This Week (TWEETS)

Photo Of Hillary Reading About Pence’s Private Email Surfaces, And It’s The Most Heartbreaking Thing You’ll See This Week (TWEETS)

Image via Twitter

ADDICTING INFO

You remember that one company that used to stuff your mailbox full of coasters installation discs every single goddamn day of the week, your only reprieve from the madness being Sunday? Well, America Online finally discovered what it takes to be relevant: apparently Mike Pence uses it.

On Thursday, the Indianapolis Star revealed that not only did the Vice President use private email — something for which Donald Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, was demonized — but he conducted state business on an insecure, almost-forgotten service that was presumed dead long ago. Unlike Hillary Clinton’s private email server, Pence’s AOL account was hacked.

Clinton was spotted on a flight from Boston to New York on Friday and a passenger managed to catch the very moment the former Secretary of State saw the USA Today headline about Pence’s private email. The passenger sent the photo to friends via Snapchat, and one of them saved it to share with the world:

The “what in the fuck?” look on Hillary’s face is priceless. It’s OK, we know what she’s going through. We watched the Right froth at the mouth over what Ted Cruz would call a “nothingburger” if Clinton was a Republican for what seems like forever.

It is not against the law to use a private email in Indiana, but officials are expected to retain the exchanges to fulfill public records requests. Documents released  via  a records request shows us that Pence discussed national security and other matters with his top advisors via his private email, but an unspecified number were withheld because  “the state considers them confidential and too sensitive to release to the public.”

Once again, these are from an account that was hacked last summer. The Star notes that the scammer “sent an email to his contacts claiming Pence and his wife were stranded in the Philippines and in urgent need of money.” He responded not by increasing his security, but by creating a new AOL screen name.

We will not be seeing calls to “LOCK HIM UP” from the Right, nor will we see GOP politicians calling for endless hearings and investigations. Normally, this would be fine but at this point there seems to be one set of rules for Democrats and one for Republicans in an administration that is easily outpacing even the accusations they leveled at Clinton.

This photograph serves as a reminder of what Americans who knew better but decided that voting their “conscience” was more important than literally saving America from a despot and people who are too stupid to operate a fork without adult supervision yet figured out how to vote caused us to lose. We could have had a competent leader who isn’t perfect, but she was at least smart enough to warn us about Donald Trump’s cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin. And, of course, she isn’t a walking human rights crisis.

It’s heartbreaking.

John Prager

U.S. Politics

Russian Election Interference Demands A Special Prosecutor

Russian Election Interference Demands A Special Prosecutor

Donald Trump sits with U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 7, 2016 | REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

THE NATIONAL MEMO

President Donald J. Trump has repeatedly claimed that Hillary Clinton’s supporters committed massive voter fraud and that he would have won the popular vote, in addition to the Electoral College, if there had not been a well-organized campaign to cast illegal ballots.

That’s a lie. There is not one scintilla of evidence to suggest that Clinton’s popular vote victory — she garnered nearly 3 million more votes nationwide than Trump — was the result of illicit activity.

As usual, Trump has turned the truth on its head. Any illegal activity associated with the last presidential election was committed by the foreign power with which Trump is so peculiarly aligned: Russia. Here’s what is true: A well-organized and illicit offensive to influence the election did take place, and Trump was its beneficiary.

This may easily be the worst scandal in American political history, and it demands the appointment of a special prosecutor. The involvement of a foreign power in a presidential election — perhaps with the complicity of American citizens — is deeply disturbing and clearly dangerous, a threat to the republic. It is certainly far worse than anything Bill Clinton did with Monica Lewinsky.

Yet, leading Republicans, who have previously been skeptical of Russia and critical of its authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, see nothing amiss. While a few, such as Arizona Sen. John McCain, have called for an independent investigation of Russian interference in the election, most are minimizing it. Indeed, on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, GOP chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a not-so-veiled threat to reporters who insisted on asking questions: “Do you want us to conduct an investigation on you or other Americans because you were talking to the Russian Embassy?”

Then there is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has sold himself to the public as a stickler for the letter of the law. He lied to Congress about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, when he was already acting as a Trump surrogate. That should not only disqualify him from overseeing an investigation into Russian involvement in the election, but it should also force him from office.

Certainly, we are in a hyper-partisan age. But does that mean partisans set aside every principle they ever held dear and watch democratic norms be destroyed just to protect a president from their party? Are institutional checks and balances meaningless?

Denials notwithstanding, it is apparent that Putin, a ruthless dictator who should be considered an enemy of American interests, approved a shrewd cyber campaign that leaked private emails and documents linked to Clinton, dribbling them out so that they dominated several news cycles.

While the revelations were hardly damning, they were controversial enough to suck the oxygen out of Clinton’s efforts to convey an effective message. In other words, Clinton had difficulty getting reporters to talk about her plans for, say, a higher minimum wage when they were breathlessly discussing infighting among Clinton’s aides.

And there are strong intimations that Putin’s government did not act in a vacuum. While we don’t yet know whether there was coordination between Trump’s campaign and the Russians — that’s why a special prosecutor is necessary — it looks as though several of Trump’s allies and campaign surrogates met with Russians here and abroad. (That is odd enough to raise several bright red flags.)

According to the New York Times, U.S. intelligence agencies have amassed reams of evidence documenting those contacts. The Times says the Obama administration worked hard to get that evidence compiled before Trump’s inauguration, fearing that his administration might try to hide or destroy it.

Already, one Trump aide, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, has been forced to resign because he lied about possibly illicit conversations with Russian officials. There’s no telling how many of Trump’s aides were ultimately involved or how close to treason they went.

We will find out sooner or later. This is such a grotesque and wide-ranging perversion of democratic principles and basic national security standards that journalists will continue to ask probing questions and intelligence operatives will continue to leak what they know.

The only question is whether the United States, as we know it, will still be standing when all is revealed.

Cynthia Tucker

U.S. Politics

GOP Resists Calls For Independent Russia-Trump Probe

GOP Resists Calls For Independent Russia-Trump Probe

A woman passes a billboard showing a pictures of US president-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Danilovgrad, Montenegro, November 16, 2016 | REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic

THE NATIONAL MEMO

The White House hasn’t ruled out a recusal from the attorney general on probes into Russian meddling in the election as prominent Republicans continue to resist calls for an independent investigation.

Republicans on the Sunday morning news shows either downplayed a need for an independent probe into Russia’s activities or rejected the idea entirely while Democrats continued to call for greater urgency amid FBI investigations and in light of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ support for Donald Trump during the primary campaign.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy White House secretary, insisted on ABC’s “This Week” that the FBI views reports of administration contacts with Russian officials as “BS” and said calls for Sessions to step aside are premature.

“We’re confident whatever review that Congress wants to do, I think that’s the first step. If they want to take that on, which there are two committees that are currently doing that, we’re extremely confident that, whatever review, they’re all going to come to the same conclusion—that we had no involvement in this,” Sanders said. “I don’t think we’re there yet. Let’s work through this process. You guys want to jump to the very end of the line. That’s not how this works. Typically, you go through a congressional oversight review. We’re doing that. Let’s not go to the very end of the extreme. Let’s let this play out the way it should.”

Her calls to let the process “play out” were echoed by Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio. “Let’s let the process work…Let the intel committees work. If there’s more investigation that’s needed, I’m on the oversight committee, we’ve never been shy about digging into issues and we’ll do that. No one’s ever accused me of going easy on my own party. So we’ll do that,” he said on ABC.

Trump frequently spoke admiringly of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the campaign trail and has been vexed by continued questions as to the nature of his associates’ relationships, if any, to Russian officials. The questions intensified after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had sponsored hacking into the presidential election and have grown louder with recent controversies. His administration already has lost its first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, over his misrepresentations of a call discussing U.S. sanctions with the Russian ambassador. This week, CNN broke the news that the FBI rejected the White House’s requests to make public comments denouncing news stories on contacts between the Trump team and Russia, and the Washington Post reported that the administration has enlisted intelligence officials and members of Congress to push back on such stories.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr, is beginning its own review of Flynn’s conversations and possible Trump team contacts with Russia, although Democrats continue to call for either a special prosecutor or a select committee of Congress to investigate.

Republican Darrell Issa, a Trump ally, has joined Democrats’ calls for a special prosecutor. “You cannot have somebody, a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee. You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute,” Issa said on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher.” However, Issa said Saturday that Sessions should pick the prosecutor.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the former head of Trump’s transition team and an ex-U.S. attorney, disagrees with the California Republican.

“The Justice Department, over the course of time, has shown itself, with the professionals that are there, to have the ability to investigate these type of things,” Christie said. “When a special prosecutor gets involved, the thing gets completely out of control. And I think that doesn’t serve anybody’s purposes. We have a lot of important problems to deal with in this country. And this is—I’m not saying that is not one of them, but I believe the Justice Department can handle it.”

Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that politicians are “getting ahead of ourselves” with calls for a select committee or special prosecutor. “There’s no allegations of any crime occurring. There’s not even an indication that there’s criminal investigations underway by the F.B.I., as opposed to counterintelligence investigations, which the F.B.I. conducts all the time as our main counterintelligence bureau. If we get down that road, that’s a decision that Attorney General Sessions can make at the time,” Cotton said.

The new chairman of the DNC and the House Democratic leader both said on ABC on Sunday that Sessions couldn’t possibly be impartial should the DOJ lead an investigation.

“What we need to be looking at is whether this election was rigged by Donald Trump and his buddy Vladimir Putin,” said DNC chairman Tom Perez. “Having Jeff Sessions oversee such an investigation, it’s really unfair to any foxes across America to say that would be the fox guarding the henhouse. We need an independent investigation, because that is a serious, serious issue…And when Sessions and Flynn are out there together campaigning, they clearly lack the authority and the objectivity to conduct that investigation.”

Minority leader Nancy Pelosi flatly rejected Sessions’ potential involvement. “The attorney general must recuse himself,” she said. “But let’s just take it back a step, you have seen a flurry of activities that are completely inappropriate, encouraging lawmakers, encouraging intelligence officials to say that something is one way or another. Let’s have the investigation and find out the truth.”

U.S. Politics

FEC commissioner: ‘I will not be silenced’

FEC commissioner: 'I will not be silenced'

@Getty

THE HILL

The FEC commissioner who asked President Trump to produce proof of his voter fraud claims on Tuesday said she will not be silenced by a watchdog’s attempt to investigate her for the request.

“But let there be no doubt: It is absolutely within my official duties as a federal election official to comment publicly on any aspect of the integrity federal elections in the United States,” Ellen Weintraub said in a statement. “I will not be silenced.”

Weintraub earlier this month called on Trump to produce evidence of his claim of mass voter fraud, specifically in New Hampshire, which she said was “an extraordinarily serious and specific charge.” Trump has provided no evidence of the unfounded claim.

“The scheme the President of the United States alleges would constitute thousands of felony criminal offenses under New Hampshire law,” Weintraub, a Democrat, said on Feb. 10.

Cause of Action, a 501(c)(3) which promotes government accountability, requested on Tuesday that the FEC Inspector General launch an investigation into Weintraub to see if she violated ethics regulations by calling on Trump to provide evidence of his claims.

Weintraub on Tuesday said that the president’s allegation is within her jurisdiction as the commissioner.

“Any such allegation challenging the legitimacy of federal elections would be of great concern to me,” she said.

“As it happens, this particular allegation falls squarely within the jurisdiction of the Federal Election Commission, since the expense of these buses has not been accounted for on any campaign-finance filing. Accordingly, I have asked the President evidence.”

Trump has blamed voter fraud for the reason he lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

U.S. Politics

Republicans dismiss growing protests at home

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As Republican lawmakers face rising anger from constituents at town-hall events across the country, they’re dismissing the protests as coming from a “small but vocal minority” backed by big-money liberal interests.

This week, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) became the latest Republican to see video of angry protesters shouting him down at an event in his hometown go viral.

Chaffetz struggled to control the crowd, which frequently booed him and erupted in chants of “do your job!” after Chaffetz was asked why his panel spent months investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails but so far hasn’t launched any probes into the Trump administration.

At meetings from California to Maine, GOP legislators have been greeted by hundreds and even thousands of angry progressives carrying signs, chanting and uploading videos of the lawmakers escaping into idling cars or facing hostile questions.

Liberals have been emboldened by the protests, believing their own version of the Tea Party movement has sprung up organically in response to President Trump and GOP majorities in Congress.

Republicans are not convinced.

House GOP conference vice chairman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) wrote in a letter to Republicans this week that they should not fear the “vocal minority” he says is “grasping for relevance in communities across the nation.”

Some, like Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), are blaming the protests on a group called “Indivisible,” which was started in December by a handful of former Democratic staffers on Capitol Hill.

“What I’m worried about is that the mainstream press can’t Google ‘Indivisible’ and the Soros-funded movement that is pushing all of this,” Brat told The Hill. “Indivisible’s game plan is to create chaos and humiliate public officials. The mainstream press can’t seem to do investigative journalism at all.”

Brat was referring to billionaire George Soros, whose significant financial contributions to liberal groups have made him into the nemesis of many on the right. But one of Indivisible’s founders says the group doesn’t have any connections to Soros, and Brat’s recommended Google search turned up no credible information on Indivisible’s supposed ties to the wealthy investor.

Thousands of local chapters of Indivisible have sprung up across the nation since the group launched in December. Founder Sarah Dohl told The Hill the group has no ties to Soros or any other major liberal donors.

The group started when she and Ezra Levin, both former staffers for Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), posted an online guide for how progressives can oppose the Trump agenda and successfully influence lawmakers.

The guide went viral after it was tweeted by liberal activist George Takei and former Labor secretary Robert Reich.

Dohl and Levin set up a website in December, which they say has drawn 12.4 million page views and spawned more than 6,500 local groups in the two months since. The guide has been downloaded 1.5 million times, they say.

“We’re hearing from a lot of people on the ground that this is their first time ever getting politically involved,” Dohl said. “Before this movement sprung up, a lot of them had never even called their congressman.”

“We’re looking to adopt the Tea Party’s tactics of local activism and defensive politics,” Dohl continued. “They were able to slow a popular president and grind policymaking for a Democratic super-majority to a halt. We think we can do the same thing now because Trump and this GOP Congress don’t have nearly the mandate we had.”

Conservative talkers like Sean Hannity and former Speaker Newt Gingrich have fanned the notion on the right that the protests are “Astroturf,” rather than grassroots.

The White House has taken up that line too, with press secretary Sean Spicer claiming that the protesters are being paid to harass GOP lawmakers.

Republicans say their claims that the protests don’t represent their district’s voters have merit because many of the lawmakers targeted by protesters represent Trump-friendly districts.

Trump won 47 percent of the vote in Chaffetz’s district compared to Clinton’s 23 percent.

But Chaffetz wasn’t the only GOP lawmaker to face a hostile town hall in a red district on Thursday. Angry crowds also showed up at district events with Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.). Video from Black’s town hall of a teacher defending ObamaCare’s individual insurance mandate went viral, attracting attention on social media and CNN.

Seventy-two percent of voters went for Trump in Black’s central Tennessee district. And Trump beat Clinton by nine points in Amash’s Grand Rapids-area district in Michigan.

“Where are these people coming from? They’re not coming from areas where they’ll vote,” one GOP campaign operative told The Hill. “All you’re seeing is an organized effort from these local groups under the umbrella of Indivisible and they’re casting wide nets to generate this support. When they show up at Chaffetz’s town-hall, they’re inviting people from all over Utah and even from Colorado to turn it into a show.”

An Indivisible leader from the 6th Congressional District in Illinois, where some 400 turned out to protest Rep. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.) this week, disputed that characterization.

“Wholly untrue,” said the leader, who is new to the political scene and requested anonymity. “None of us are savvy enough to organize nationally or bring friends in from out of state to stand in 30 degree weather and hold signs. That’s ridiculous. They’re using that narrative to dismiss us. Everyone I talked to at our rally was from this district.”

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), who had to be whisked away from an event in Roseville by the police, said he believes the protests are a mix of national coordination and local activism.

However, he warned that Republicans shouldn’t underestimate the movement.

“Democrats made a big mistake by not taking the Tea Party seriously,” he said in an email. “Both movements are a reminder that in the end, we will be judged on whether the vast majority of Americans believe we have improved the health care system for them and their families.”

Tim Phillips, the president of the conservative grassroots group Americans for Prosperity, which was at the forefront of the Tea Party movement, said he doesn’t think the protests are “Astroturf.”

But he said Republicans have triumphed under these conditions before, pointing to the massive protests that shut down the Wisconsin statehouse amid Gov. Scott Walker’s actions to undermine the labor movement in the state.

“They can mobilize hundreds of millions of dollars, the left has a massive operation,” Phillips said. “Anyone who expects it to be easy hasn’t been paying attention. So of course they’ll put thousands of people out there, if they don’t it’s malpractice on their part. In no way are we underestimating that… but we’ve pushed through this before.”

— Scott Wong contributed

U.S. Politics

Vice President Biden Nails Down Exactly Why Trump Was Able To Beat Hillary Clinton

Vice President Biden Nails Down Exactly Why Trump Was Able To Beat Hillary Clinton

MSNBC Screengrab

POLITICUS USA

In an ideal world where politics is centered around issues that matter, Hillary Clinton – not Trump – would be getting sworn in next week.

It’s been over two months since Donald Trump won enough electoral votes to defeat Hillary Clinton and become president, but there is still widespread disagreement about how it could possibly happen.

Many people blame Clinton for her flaws as a candidate, even though she won nearly 3 million more popular votes than Trump.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden rejected some of these theories and nailed down exactly why Trump was able to squeak by last November.

Video:

Biden said:

Look, he lost the popular vote, but for 175,000 votes in three states, it would be a different outcome. So there’s a thousand reasons why you could attribute our candidate’s loss … It could be what happened with the FBI, it could be a whole range of things. But, you know, this is one election where I don’t think the issues really intruded. The University of Pennsylvania, the Annenberg School, they did a study showing how few minutes were devoted to any issue. Look, I’ll lay you eight to five that you go to ask any foreign person who’s not in the news media and say, “What was Hillary’s position on free college? Can you explain it? What was Hillary’s position on helping people with child care?”  Those issues never got into the game … All the outrageous things that were said and done by [Trump] sucked all the oxygen out of the air, so there was never a discussion about the economic issues. It never got there … If you get a chance to have to talk about whether or not a candidate groped somebody or whether or not the other candidate’s position is how they fund college tuition, what’s gonna get in the news is whether or not somebody groped somebody.

Biden is exactly right that there is likely a slew of reasons why Hillary Clinton came up short, at least when it came to the three states – Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania – that decided the Electoral College. But the argument repeatedly made that Clinton didn’t adequately address the economic needs of middle-class Americans is simply not true.

As the vice president noted, she had a set of concrete, detailed proposals dealing with economic issues that she repeatedly talked about. In fact, as Vox pointed out last month, jobs and the economy were the top-mentioned words in Clinton speeches during the campaign.

The problem wasn’t so much that Clinton’s message was wrong; it’s that the press didn’t cover it, thus the voters who decided the election likely knew very little about the former Secretary of State’s policy proposals – and there were plenty of them that would have made life better for the average American.

In an ideal world where politics is centered around issues that matter, and not driven by 140-character tweets or foreign meddling, Hillary Clinton – not Trump – would be getting sworn in next week.

U.S. Politics

Irony Alert: Comey Refuses To Comment Publicly On Possible Trump-Russia Investigation

Irony Alert: Comey Refuses To Comment Publicly On Possible Trump-Russia Investigation

Screenshot

POLITICUS USA

“I would never comment on investigations  …  in an open forum,” the FBI director said, straight face intact.

During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, FBI Director James Comey refused to comment on whether his agency is investigating any connection between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.

“I would never comment on investigations  …  in an open forum,” Comey responded, straight face intact.

The remark comes amid reports that Russia has damaging financial and personal information on Trump.

The irony of the FBI director’s refusal to answer the question posed by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden did not go unnoticed by Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine.

Video:

When King pressed Comey on why he wouldn’t answer Wyden’s initial question on whether the FBI was investigation a possible Trump campaign-Russia connection, Comey repeated himself.

“I don’t, especially in a public forum, we never confirm or deny a pending investigation,” Comey said.

King shot back, with a chuckle: “The irony of your making that statement here, I cannot avoid, but I’ll move on.”

The irony, of course, is that Comey weighed in publicly about the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails twice in two weeks just before last year’s presidential election.

Luckily, Comey was called out for his clear change of heart when it comes to publicly discussing his agency’s investigations. But the American people still deserve to know whether Trump – who will formally become president in 10 days – was coordinating with a foreign state in order to win a presidential election.

U.S. Politics

12 Moments Of Right-Wing Horror And Absurdity In 2016

12 Moments Of Right-Wing Horror And Absurdity In 2016

IMAGE: DonkeyHotey/Flickr

THE NATIONAL MEMO

President-elect Donald Trump had the most perfect New Year’s tweet. And by “perfect” we mean perfectly awful. Say what you will, the man has an uncanny ability to compress his entire sick personality into a mere 140 characters.

“Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!” he tweeted.

It’s a little hard to celebrate the end of 2016, a truly awful year, when in 20 days, this petty, vindictive man with the maturity and impulse control of a five-year-old and the ossified views of a dinosaur will be president.

Though you may be cowering hungover under your bed in dread at the idea, we thought we’d take you on a little stroll to recap of some of the horrors—and absurdities—the right-wing visited upon us during the year that was.

1. Donald Trump staged a year-long assault on truth.

Donald Trump lies all the time. He lies malignantly, and he lies ridiculously. Of course, his entire political career is founded on the “birther” lie, which he still brags about. He ran his campaign on lies about black crime, dangerous immigrants, and non-existent jobs, more or less defrauding the American people in the same way he defrauded students at Trump University. In some cases, the lies he told were so utterly, demonstrably false that they were almost funny. Almost.

Two examples:

“There is no drought,” Donald Trump told Californians while campaigning there last May.

If there is a water problem, he continued, it’s because someone closed the water, and he’s going to open it.

“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive,” Trump said.

It’s just so crazy to say this. Arguably, it’s one thing to deny climate change, which is a bit complicated and requires scientists to explain it. But droughts? Not to mention air pollution. Dude, we can see those.

Another bizarre one in the final days of the campaign was a depiction of how President Obama treated a protester at a Clinton campaign rally:

“He was talking to the protester, screaming at him, really screaming at him,” Trump told his apparently insanely gullible crowd in Tampa, Florida.

“By the way, if I spoke the way Obama spoke to that protester, they [note: the mean old media] would say, ‘He became unhinged! He spent so much time screaming at this protester and frankly, it was a disgrace.”

This was, in fact, the very opposite of what had happened and been televised. Obama had urged the slightly rowdy crowd to take it easy on the protester, who was older and appeared to be a veteran. It was not just a lie, it was a masterpiece of projection. For, Trump is the one who consistently endangered protesters at his rallies by literally inciting his supporters to rough them up and worse.

2. Trump spokesperson Scottie Nell Hughes confirms facts don’t matter anymore.

The persistence and outrageousness of lies can be attributed the sobering reality that the Trump era helped usher in the “post-truth” world we now find ourselves living in. The tweeter-in-chief spreads unfounded conspiracy theories, spins minor victories into major coups, and occasionally in an unguarded moment spews some accidental truth about how he can’t believe how many people actually believe anything he says.

But still, you’re not supposed to just come out and say that truth and facts don’t matter.

CNN Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes confirmed all of our worst fears after the election when she said, “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts,” on the Diane Rehm Show on WAMU, an NPR affiliate.

She was explaining the truth according to Trump to her fellow aghast panelists when it comes to the tweeter-in-chief’s claim of, “millions of fraudulent voters,” having given Hillary Clinton her 2.8 million popular vote victory.

Here is what Hughes purported to be her logic:

“Mr. Trump’s tweets amongst a certain crowd, a large—a large part of the population, are truth. When he says that millions of people illegally voted, he has some—in his—amongst him and his supporters, and people believe they have facts to back that up. Those that do not like Mr. Trump, they say that those are lies, and there’s no facts to back it up.”

That is seriously scary. We have a president and his minions who now believe truth is what he says it is.

3. Trump surrogates wildly misunderstand Pussygate.

Trump’s recorded assertions that he could grab women by the genitals because he is famous threw some of his surrogates into disarray, but not all. And a few of them performed some of the more hilarious contortions seen on the campaign trail to deflect attention from the damaging revelations.

One was Newt Gingrich who reinforced his already creepy image by conflating sex and sexual assault in a dustup with Megyn Kelly in October. While she pressed for answers and expressed concerns for women’s safety, Gingrich countered with the accusation that Kelly is just “fascinated with sex,” because she kept on talking about it.

Funnier still was Betsy McCaughey, the former Lieutenant Governor or New York, whose nut job takedown of Obamacare invented the concept of death panels. She argued that if you like Beyonce’s music, you can’t complain about sexual assault. Like other right-wingers, she seemed to think the problem with the tape was Trump’s foul language, rather than the whole rapey/consent thing.

Hillary Clinton, a fan of Beyonce, likes bad words more than Donald Trump, McCaughey argued, before whipping out and performing the lyrics to “Formation.”

“‘I came to slay, bitch. When he f-ed me good I take his ass to Red Lobster.’ That happens to be from Beyoncé, her favorite performer,” McCaughey said of Clinton. “Whom she says she idolizes and would like to imitate. There’s a lot of hypocrisy, in Hillary Clinton expressing such horror at language on the bus.”

McCaughey was triumphant. She really scored there.

Later, after several women accused Trump of sexually assaulting them, McCaughey called such accusations an example of “man-shaming” and suggested the women should not be believed.

“With all due respect, that was the same thing that the folks over at Bill Cosby’s camp said,” CNN Don Lemon pointed out.

“Well, and sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong,” McCaughey countered.

Ummm, yeah. They were right.

4. Ted Cruz’s unconscionable defense of Senate’s despicable blocking of Obama Supreme Court appointment, and threat to continue under a Clinton administration.

In October, Ted Cruz, who for some reason had forgotten that everyone including his own party detests him, floated an idea about the Supreme Court. Maybe, if Hillary Clinton were to win the presidency, Senate Republicans really would just take all of their toys and go home and stonewall on any Supreme Court appointment she attempted to make. So there.

“There is long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices,” Cruz lied at a campaign event. “Just recently Justice [Stephen] Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job, that’s a debate that we are going to have.”

Cruz’s threat did not quite pack the punch of fellow tea partier Joe Walsh’s threat to “grab a musket” if the election did not go Trump’s way, but was more in Cruz’s trademark mealy-mouthed and thoroughly dishonest style.

For starters, there is no long history of that, and secondly, Breyer did not say that. The Senate’s inaction on Supreme Court appointees has severely and demonstrably affected the high court’s ability to do its job. Deadlocking on cases involving immigration and unions and other vital issues that have come before it means the court is literally failing to do its job, which is to decide things.

The Supreme Court is only the best known example of the harm GOP stonewalling has done to the judiciary. Republicans have confirmed only 18 of Obama’s federal court nominees, and created a “judicial emergency,” which is a term for when courts are so back-logged and caseloads are so high that Americans’ access to justice is endangered.

Cruz knows about this emergency and has gleefully propagated it. Unlike his idiotic fellow traveler, John McCain, whom Cruz was echoing. Cruz is a lawyer and touts himself as a constitutionalist, but for some reason it’s okay for him to ignore that part of the constitution that gives the powers of appointing justices to the president.

Cut to present and Cruz’s name has sickeningly been floated for a Trump appointment to the Supreme Court, and Cruz accused the Democrats of threatening to be the most obstructionist party in history.

Ha! One hopes.

5. Melania Trump’s barely hidden misogyny revealed itself in her softball interview with Anderson Cooper in October.

At first glance, Melania Trump did a good job of seeming like a decent sane person in her softball interview with Anderson Cooper in October. She reported that her husband had apologized to her about bragging he sexually assaults women, and that she accepted his apology. But, she pointed out, it was not his fault. Billy Bush made him do it. Donald is, she acknowledged, a big kid, barely more mature than their 11-year-old, Barron.

But her mixed messages about her husband’s level of maturity were only part of the problem. On closer inspection, there was quite a bit of misogyny lurking behind her words and viewing women as the real predators seems pretty firmly ensconced in her worldview. Since boys will of course be endearing if potty-mouthed boys, Melania blamed the manipulative women who are always hitting on her husband, sometimes right in front of her, throwing themselves at him “unappropriately.” This was in the context of talking about sexual assault allegations, so the unmistakable conclusion was that she was implying some women ask for it.

As for Natasha Stoynoff, the People magazine writer who said Trump forcibly kissed her at Mar-a Lago, the most important thing Melania wanted to convey was that she was never friends with Stoynoff and would not recognize her on Fifth Avenue, despite the fact that Stoynoff attended the Trumps’ wedding. (And the most important thing Mr. Trump would have you know, is that Stoynoff is not his idea of attractive enough for him to sexually assault.) And Stoynoff has recently confirmed that knowing Trump would attack her looks did give her pause before going public with her ordeal. How many more?

6. Rudy ‘9/11’ Giuliani conveniently forgot when 9/11 happened.

In September, self-proclaimed September 11 hero Rudy Giuliani managed to forget when 9/11 happened so that he could make the laughably false statement that there were no terrorist incidents before Obama took office. Around the same time he made that brain fart, and right after the first debate where Trump tanked badly, Rudy posted a banner week that week sucking up Trump’s fumes. Here were some of the lowlights:

  • Immediately following the debate, Giuliani was the first to float the idea that Trump should skip the rest of the debates. Why? Because Trump blew it so badly, and his gnat-like attention span prevents him from actually preparing? No, because it was rigged! Lester Holt was so unfair when he corrected Trump a few times on his lies! (Especially when Holt pointed out to Trump that the police practice he and Giuliani so love, stop-and-frisk, is unconstitutional and racist.)
  • Later in the week, Giuliani joined the fray in criticizing Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs, because that’s just extremely relevant to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and Giuliani has always been an exemplary husband and father. Because he cares so much about women and children, Giuliani helpfully pointed out how “stupid” Hillary is to have stayed with Bill. In the same dizzying spew, Giuliani called Trump a “feminist” for hiring women (even if he fat-shames them and fires them for not being attractive enough). He also claimed Bill Clinton “violated” Monica Lewinsky, and as a former prosecutor, isn’t he supposed to know that’s not the case?
  • By the end of the week, Giuliani decided it was appropriate to make racist, anti-immigrant remarks and insult Mexicans working in the kitchen at the Waldorf Astoria during a black tie event there, even managing to offend the various business leaders assembled. Red-faced, the head of the Commercial Finance Association, obviously a left-wing organization, was forced to issue a formal apology to attendees.

Diagnosis: The bile has finally eaten all the way through Giuliani’s brain.

7. Britt Hume’s idiotic whining about how he’s not even allowed to say Hillary Clinton is shrill and needs to smile more.

Britt Hume, Fox News’ so-called reasonable one, gave the following critique after Hillary Clinton’s Democratic convention speech: “She has a habit, when speaking, of breaking into a kind of a sharp, lecturing tone, [it] makes you feel like. She has a great asset, as a public person, which is a radiant smile, but she has a not-so-attractive voice.”

Now, technically, he did not actually use the word “shrill” having somehow gotten the message that that word is not very well-disguised sexism. A few weeks later, Hume and Tucker Carlson, were having a little chat about what they can and cannot say about Hillary Clinton. It’s so frustrating being a white male these days. Everybody’s always picking on you, trying to take away the privileges to which you’ve become accustomed.

They were discussing the outrage of Clinton not smiling enough while she was talking to the families of dead soldiers during the “Commander-in-Chief” forum. Carlson said he admires Clinton’s toughness (ha! no), but thinks she undercuts that when she mentions the sexism in the media’s coverage of her. How so? Not sure.

But poor Hume just doesn’t even know what he can say anymore; everything has become so unfair.

“You know at the Democratic convention, I was on after her speech, and it struck me that she did some things effectively in that speech, particularly her critique of Donald Trump,” Hume said. “But she seemed—and she has at other times in the campaign—to be kind of angry and joyless, and yes, unsmiling. I said that on the air, and I really caught it on Twitter from people who said, ‘You’re just a sexist, I can’t believe somebody’s saying that.’ But it raises this question, Tucker, in America today, is it possible for a woman to be shrill, and if so, or joyless, or unsmiling, is it possible for somebody to say that without ending up in jail?”

The dreadful persecution of Hume continued apace and other men who wish to call women shrill with impunity continues .

8. Pond scum emerges, says vile scummy things, gets book contract.

If there is a more despicable piece of shower mold than Breitbart.com’s Milo Yiannopoulos, then we do not know it.

In a mediascape that normalized Trump’s demagogic drunk uncle act and legitimized him into the presidency, this other creature from a hateful lagoon was granted a hearing on ABC “Nightline” with Terry Moran.

Yiannopoulos has been banned from Twitter for leading a harassment campaign of deeply disgusting misogynist and racist abuse of the comedian Leslie Jones, something of which he is apparently proud.

“I like to think of myself as a virtuous troll,” Yiannopoulos bizarrely self-aggrandized in the interview.

We like to think of him with a stake driven through his tongue, but hey, we like to think lots of things.

Moran thought maybe he could pull some decency out of this cockroach, and asked if Yiannopoulos would tell Leslie Jones “she looks like a dude” in person.

“Yeah, probably,” Yiannopoulos replied. ”I probably would.”

“Then you’re an idiot, really,” Moran said

Moran again tried to reason with the moron. “You’re going to go after somebody’s body to denigrate their ideas? What grade are you in? Seriously. Are you a 13-year-old boy? Because somebody doesn’t have a weight that you think is proper? That’s revolting.”

Revolting is a word Yiannopoulos can relate to.

“I’ll tell you what’s revolting,” Yiannopoulos responded. “What’s revolting is the body positivity movement. What’s revolting is this idea now that you can tell women that they’ll be healthy at any size.”

And now, having discussed this vile piece of bellybutton lint, we need to go take a bath.

It was a great year for racist, misogynist Alt-Right scum! While some ended up in the White House, Yiannopoulos ended his 2016 with a book contract.

9. Trump sons went from comparing refugees to Skittles to just making sh*t completey up.

It was Donald Trump, Jr. who compared refugees to Skittles, prompting the candy to distance itself from the Trump campaign (as Tic Tac later did.) But it was son Eric who made up the absurd original lie of his father’s sh*tshow of a campaign in the Fall. He swore it was not President Obama’s Kenyan birth, or secret status as a Muslim “Manchurian candidate,” it was a Christmas story. Who doesn’t love a Christmas story?

During an interview, Eric said Trump entered the political sphere because the Obama/Grinches stole Chistmas. “He sees the tree on the White House lawn has been renamed ‘Holiday tree’ instead of ‘Christmas tree. I could go on and on for hours. Those are the very things that made my father run, and those are the very things he cares about.”

One teeny tiny leetle problem. It’s not true. As in has no basis in reality. Didn’t happen. Throughout the Obama Administration, The White House Christmas Tree was called the “White House Christmas Tree.” It’s not even the “White House Xmas Tree.” There’s been no concession to secularism, to separation of church and state. It’s a made-up story, a myth, a manufactured crisis, and all part of the nonexistent war on Christmas that isn’t being waged anywhere.

Eric also pointed out other pseudo outrages galvanizing his father’s run.

“He opens the paper and some new school district has just eliminated the ability for its students to say the Pledge of Allegiance, or some fire department in some town is ordered by the mayor to no longer fly the American flag on the back of a fire truck,” Eric Trump told The Stream’s James Robinson.

There are just a few things wrong with this statement. First of all, Donald Trump doesn’t open a paper. He opens his Twitter feed, Fox News or maybe Breitbart. Sometimes he glances at the National Enquirer, especially if “people are saying” there’s a good conspiracy theory about Ted Cruz’s father, or Hillary Clinton’s health on the cover. Second, a newspaper that covers things like that would go out of business fast due to snoozing readers.

The Kool-Aid in the Trump household was clearly very strong.

10. Before Trump surrogate Carl Paladinosaid horrendously racist and hateful things about the Obamas, he said other horrible racist things.

Back in August, while Trump was attacking the Khan family for having an American war hero son while being Muslim, his pal and upstate New York school board official Carl Paladino went on “Imus in the Morning” to defend his right to do so. He started by making stuff up about Hillary Clinton.

“We’ve got an un-indicted felon [he means Clinton] as his opponent and you’re talking about Khan, about [Trump] making a remark about this man? All right, I don’t care if he’s a Gold Star parent. He certainly doesn’t deserve that title, OK, if he’s as anti-American as he’s illustrated in his speeches and in his discussion. I mean, if he’s a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or supporting, you know, the ISIS-type of attitude against America, there’s no reason for Donald Trump to have to honor this man.”

It’s hard to be worse than Trump himself, but apparently manageable for some.

Keeping the level of discourse as high as possible, Paladino went on insist that Obama is a Muslim and Hillary Clinton is “devious” for hiding her alleged health problems, health problems that have been debunked.

“But if you’re really looking at what’s been exposed about Hillary and Hillary’s demeanor, I mean, just look at the deviousness. If it is true about her health problems, I mean, how devious can a woman possibly be? And not telling the American people that she’s got some sickness, she’s definitely impaired.”

Diagnosis: Paladino is morally impaired.

11. Bill O’Reilly instructs black people to hate Black Lives Matter.

In December Bill O’Reilly let his White Supremacist flag fly in a rant about opponents of the Electoral College.

But we shouldn’t let that despicable moment obscure another one back in July, when several police officers in Dallas were gunned down after a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration, which has nothing to do with the shooting.

Bill O’Reilly took the opportunity to insist that everyone must hate and fear Black Lives Matter immediately. He and other Fox Newsians spent a good deal of their post-Dallas airtime whipping up as much hysteria and anger as possible against a group that has a name and a message no sane person can argue with. But sane people do not sit at Fox roundtables, as an episode of “Outnumbered” clearly shows. Meanwhile, colleagues Megyn Kelly and racist ex-cop Mark Fuhrman took it upon themselves to lecture black people to stop exaggerating about problems with police. You got that, Philando Castile, Eric Garner and Alton Sterling?

But O’Reilly is just so sick and tired of black people not listening to him when he tells them what is good for them. Speaking to his guest, NAACP director Hilary Shelton on Friday, O’Reilly said, “So, you know what I think? I think that if you really want, if African Americans really want to bring the country together and have good racial relations, they have to distance themselves from Black Lives Matter. Am I wrong?”

Yeah, you’re wrong, Shelton said, explaining that the Black Lives Matter marches are occurring for a very good reason. And lots of people understand that.

But white people ha-a-a-te Black Lives Matter, O’Reilly whined, mistaking the echo chamber in his head for reality once again. “White Americans despise this crew. And if black Americans don’t understand that, we’re just going to grow further apart.”

Shelton carried on saying reasonable things that are in the spirit of bringing people together, among other things pointing out that people of all races join Black Lives Matter marches and believe in the movement and in justice for all Americans.

All on deaf ears. O’Reilly was just too busy breaking the douchebag-o-meter.

12. Fox Newsians say asking Trump for his tax return is discrimination against rich people—with straight faces.

No, seriously, Kimberly Guilfoyle really did say this. She and her other co-hosts from “The Five” were discussing this terrible miscarriage of justice—the fact that Mitt Romney suggested there might be a bombshell in Donald Trump’s unreleased tax returns, and that now everyone is all over his case to release them. The Donald has come up with various reasons not to produce them, including the hilarious statement that the IRS picks on him because he’s such a strong Christian. One suspects the real secret the Donald is hiding is that he is not nearly as wealthy as he makes himself out to be, which is the only revelation in the universe that could bring the shameless reality star the remotest sense of shame.

But Guilfoyle and equally idiotic Eric Bolling just think it is so mean—so, so rude—to ask the Donald to produce his tax returns. Co-host Dana Perino tried to explain that the office of the presidency is that of a public servant, not the gold-plated throne from which to order decrees that Trump imagines it to be, and pointed out that although taxes are “complicated for [insert the word rich] people,” they would likely be an issue in the general election.

Juan Williams pointed out that Donald’s taxes are “relevant right now.”

Guilfoyle jumped all over that, whining, “What about discrimination, Juan?”

Huh?

“Against rich people,” Guilfoyle said. “And one percenters. Nobody ever asks to see the poor—it’s so rude.”

So rude. Poor people get all the breaks.