Is this where the GOP Congress stands up to Trump?

Will their checks and balances be enough?

Will their checks and balances be enough?

Remember all those assurances that, thanks to our system of checks and balances, Trump wouldn’t be able to harm the country all that much?

Well, as much confidence as I place in Hamilton, Madison et al., I’ve thought that was too phlegmatic by half — a modern president can do a great deal of harm, even unto the destruction of the planet, before Congress can get its thumb out of its, um, ear.

And, over the weekend, some observers — including The Washington Post‘s duty conservative, Jennifer Rubin — were beginning to wonder whether the GOP Congress would ever develop the guts or inclination even to try to contain him.

As it happens, there were encouraging signs yesterday and this morning.

First, my two fave senators, Graham and McCain, stood up to both Trump and Putin:

Two Senate Republicans joined demands for a bipartisan probe into Russia’s suspected election interference allegedly designed to bolster Donald Trump as questions continue to mount about the president-elect’s expected decision to nominate a secretary of state candidate with close ties to Russia.

Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) — the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee — joined calls by incoming Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Armed Services ranking Democrat Jack Reed (R.I.) for a thorough, bipartisan investigation of Russian influence in the U.S. elections. Their statement came two days after The Washington Post reported the CIA’s private conclusion that Russia’s activities were intended to tip the scales to help Trump.

“Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American,” the four senators said in a statement on Sunday morning. “Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyberattacks.”…

Of course, the headline on that story noted that the GOP leadership remained “mum” on that point.

I’m happy to note that Sen. McConnell has now been heard from:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday strongly condemned any foreign interference with U.S. elections and announced that the Senate intelligence panel will investigate Russia’s suspected election interference.

“The Russian are not our friends,” McConnell told reporters at a scheduled year-end news conference….

This is encouraging. It doesn’t make me think things are hunky-dory, but it’s encouraging…

82 thoughts on “Is this where the GOP Congress stands up to Trump?

  1. Claus

    I’d say that anyone who stand up against Trump might want to look at how his state or district voted. They may realize that going against Trump may just be voting themselves out of office. That is except for SC where Lindsey Graham is using the Strom Thomond approach… that he can say or do anything and the ignorant SC voters will continue to keep him in office.

        1. Mark Stewart

          That isn’t a Pro-Hillary spin. That said, Trump is not fit for office. End of story.

          More and more Republicans seem to be waking up to that fact. As if they believed the nonsense of there is no way he can screw up the country so it’s the same as voting for any other party candidate that we have had run for office. A little late people…

            1. Doug Ross

              I know this is a good thing because I’ve been hearing Obama supporters use that as an indication of his effectiveness as President.

              1. Doug Ross

                No I don’t. The stock market reflects the expectation of future value. You don’t buy stocks based on what they did last year or last week. You buy or sell based on what you think they will do in the future.

                1. Doug Ross

                  If I buy today at 100, I do so expecting it to go to 110 in the future, not 90. If I sell today at 100, I expect it to go to 90 in the future, not 110.

                2. Doug Ross

                  Notice what happened to healthcare stocks after Trump won. They dropped in anticipation of Obamacare being repealed.

                3. Mark Stewart

                  The stock market is rallying now because Trump is appointing the kinds of people who are going to push the 1% economic agenda – though it hasn’t yet been enacted by Congress. Today is all about hype, not reality.

                  Meanwhile, Trump picks rabid social conservatives for the outlier posts to stir up the masses and keep them distracted from the economic stuff they don’t really pay attention to anyway. The great fleecing of the masses is about to begin – and red meat will be tossed all around to cover its occurrence.

                  Nevertheless, Trump is a dangerous destabilizer to national and international order. That will become something the markets cannot ignore. So if you ask me whether the markets will be up or down at the end of 2017, I would bet it all that we are about to see extremely high global volatility and some pretty serious recessionary risk. The Trumsters are going to find they are the ones who will suffer the most as the economy flags.

                  This is the problem we have faced since the mid 1990s – there are not, and never again will be on this trajectory, middle class jobs for the unskilled, the uneducated and the unmotivated.

                  I don’t believe in magical thinking. It’s all the rage right now; even by you, Doug, despite your dark cynicism.

  2. bud

    Brad you are just too adorable for words when discussing today’s GOP. This is not the same party that elected Nelson Rockefeller or even moderates like Bush Sr. Rather this is the party of Trump, lock, stock and barrel. The party today has evolved into an arm of Trumps machine. They don’t want to stand up to him. They want to emulate him. Until people understand that we will continue to flounder in delusion. The first order of business is to stop this damn false equivalency crap. Brads homework for tonight is to write 1000 times- Bernie IS NOT Trump.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Good to know I’m adorable. We need to spread that around.

      No, Bernie is NOT Trump. And Ted Cruz is not Trump. Each of them is problematic in his own special way…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And yeah… I’m going to blame Bernie for weakening Hillary ever so slightly, and thereby making it more likely that Trump would win.

        Anybody who contributed to this, from Hillary herself to those the lowliest Trump voter, I’m going to blame…

        1. Harry Harris

          Bernie did what he should have and was more than honorable the whole way. Shame on the Russians. Shame on Wikileaks. Shame on Comey. Shame on fake news manipulators.
          Double shame on Hillary Clinton for ever letting it be close enough for any of those actors to make a difference.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I’m willing to grant that Bernie was honorable. Kinda goofy, kinda cranky, wrong about a bunch of things and unqualified to be president, but honorable. Which nowadays is saying something, because too few people are…

  3. Harry Harris

    Mitch McConnell just agreed for Congress to investigate the alleged Russian Hacking after initially claiming no need for it. The guys who launched 4 investigations into HR Clinton’s email server stumble have had to agonize over investigating foreign espionage. Mind blowing.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That’s because every day, they hear from people like the guy I just heard calling in to NPR to say all this talk of the Russians is just “sour grapes” from “liberals” who don’t like the way the election came out. He then called the evidence “circumstantial,” just before complaining that he’s SEEN no evidence. The host of the show was too polite to say, “If you haven’t seen the evidence, how do you know it’s ‘circumstantial’?”

      1. Harry Harris

        Unfortunately it’s not just those callers. John Bolton (likely nominee for State #2) said on Fox yesterday that it isn’t clear that the Russians did it and implied the Obama administration might have done it in an attempt to blame the Russians.

          1. Harry Harris

            A brain without a conscience is a bigger problem. Typical chicken hawk as well. Maybe he doesn’t see how being a Trump apologist is a low step even for him – but a move back into power can be tempting. You only play in Trump’s game by going along. Pence hasn’t fully learned that, but he can’t be “you’re fired” at this point.

      2. JesseS

        The problem is that it is kinda “circumstantial” and “sour grapes”.

        The political establishment really didn’t seem to care about the Russian angle on this until it was too late (and now they are praying that it will sway the electors to go faithless). Before that everyone could just shrug their shoulders and say, “well since it was hacked you really can’t trust the data –you know those sneaky hackers have already manipulated it”, even if there were contradictions in that logic when the DNC relented because their underwear were showing.

        There is no doubt that:
        a.) The hacks came out of Russia. There are too many gloating sources from that part of the world and sending our republic into disarray is totally in Putin’s wheelhouse (in the same way sending NGOs into Ukraine to sway Russian influence there prior to Russia’s invasion was totally in our wheelhouse).
        b.) Since Assange has been stuck in that embassy, his organization has virtually been an extension of RT. It makes him a valid western “subversive” and there is nothing the Kremlin loves more than a good, unfiltered western subversive.
        c.) A majority of the pro-Trump online astroturfing campaign was out of eastern Europe. Much of Luckey Palmer’s “volunteer meme army” came from a single village in Bulgaria (though I serious question the effectiveness of that beyond 30 something white men in the US –but that is probably what makes it so potent, it distracts the “online left’s” attention, the same way Trump’s crazy Tweets distract the media).
        d.) The Trump campaign had lots of ties with Russia, skeevy ties. I’d imagine Roger Stone’s burner phone had lots of interesting stuff on it.

        Unfortunately there is no concrete link that would hold up in court with any of this. It’s just geopolitics. Until someone has a smoking gun linking any of this together, it’s all conspiracy theory (or maybe I should say a hope and a prayer).

  4. Bryan Caskey

    I think it’s pretty clear Russia was hacking the DNC. Didn’t we all know this, already? Intelligence agencies are constantly at war with each other.

    And Trump should rightfully condemn Russian hacking. There’s no election do-over because of Russia hacking the DNC. It’s not like they manipulated votes or stuffed ballot boxes.

    All this was known in the run up to the election. Oh, and if you scoffed at Hillary’s private server, spare me the indignation over Russian espionage.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I have every right to be indignant on both scores.

      But seriously, you’re not comparing her being slipshod about security to actual attempts to sabotage our election by the Russians. Yeah, we should be concerned about both, but the Russian thing IS qualitatively and quantitatively more alarming.

      One is stupidity combined with Nixonian paranoia. The other is a hostile act against our nation…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        What would have been worse, in terms of damage to the U.S. at a critical moment — the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (which killed a lot of Americans but failed strategically) — or a plot to replace FDR with Donald Trump?

      2. Doug Ross

        “But seriously, you’re not comparing her being slipshod about security to actual attempts to sabotage our election by the Russians”

        Her issue wasn’t slipshod security. Not at all. It was the lying and the coverup after the fact. She could have ended the issue in one quick move: “I’m sorry I did that and here’s the server”.

        Her actions were far worse than Russians (or whoever it was) releasing actual emails from the DNC. Don’t do anything shady and you don’t have to worry about it being revealed. Isn’t that your take on NSA spying?

        1. bud

          What if Trump and or his henchmen were involved? Then we have treason. Still think it’s not as bad as the nothing burger file server nonsense? Given Trumps choice for Sec of state that doesn’t seem so far fetched.

      3. Bryan Caskey

        No, I’m not saying that Hillary’s e-mail negligence is the equivalent of a hostile act from a foreign government. And no, you never came straight out and gave her a pass for the e-mails – you just said that you were voting for her because she wasn’t Trump.

        However, there are a great many people who kept saying Hillary’s e-mail negligence was “no big deal” who are now apparently acutely alarmed about foreign governments conducting cyber-warfare. To them I say: You don’t get to make that argument.

        However, I’m not “alarmed” at the Russian hacking of the DNC. It’s a known fact that the Russians are openly attempting to conduct cyber-warfare. They’ve been doing it for years. This isn’t a new thing. Yes, it’s a bad thing, and I hope we do more to combat it, but I’m not alarmed at something I’ve known about for quite awhile. In the same way, I’m not “alarmed” about ISIS. I’ve known they’re bad for awhile. The alarm went off quite awhile ago.

        As for what to do about it, the guy who was POTUS over the last eight years didn’t seem all that interested in doing much, and the new POTUS-elect seems downright okay with it all. Frankly, it’s all quite depressing.

  5. Doug Ross

    “There’s no election do-over because of Russia hacking the DNC. It’s not like they manipulated votes or stuffed ballot boxes.”

    Exactly. Democrats are upset because the hackers revealed what scumbags the DNC were. The media spent months picking Trump apart at the same time, all day every day. The Russians didn’t hack the election, they produced information that allowed voters to make better decisions.

    And the timing is hilarious. Why wasn’t this made into a priority BEFORE the election if the consequences were so dire and so obvious? What we have here is classic sour grapes, poor losers, and whining excuse makers. You lost. You had a lousy candidate who sleep walked her way through
    the campaign. Maybe next time get someone with energy, passion, and some ethics.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Hey, Doug, did you call in to NPR today?

      But seriously, come on! It’s far less fraught with politics to conduct the investigation NOW, when Obama can’t be accused of trying to affect the election outcome. You want to talk about something that people would call pure politics, THAT would have been it. Especially with all that stuff from the Trump camp about the system being rigged against them.

      All of this WAS discussed before the election. But do you remember how everybody on both sides read every move Comey made on the emails thing in terms of “What’s his game?” The White House launching an investigation back then would have been way worse.

      Now, it’s over. There’s no election to affect. And if there’s anybody out there who thinks that this probe would somehow reverse the results, I haven’t read or heard of it.

      You have it exactly backwards. You don’t do something like this because you want Hillary elected — especially after it’s too late. You do it because THE RUSSIANS ARE TRYING TO MANIPULATE OUR ELECTIONS, and if you care at all about this country, you want to get to the bottom of that.

      Now is the ONLY time to do that with the minimum amount of suspicion of a political motive. So I don’t see why you look at white and see black… other than the fact that you always want to ascribe the absolutely WORST motives to anyone involved in public life..

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And if Trump weren’t such an unbelievably petty person with an inferiority complex as big as all outdoors, he would get behind this investigation and say, Absolutely, let’s get to the bottom of this.

        But no — anyone else would, but not him. He has to go around like a 6-year-old talking about how he’s awesome and he didn’t need anybody’s help and spouting pathetic, easily refuted lies such as this one cited by E.J. Dionne:

        Oh, yes, and about his having won “one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history”? In the past 10 elections, Trump’s electoral college take ranks eighth….

        Yet another one of those things about Trump — there are scores — that should have convinced every adult in America just how amazingly unfit he was. Yet somehow, that didn’t happen. And there’s no rational explanation for that. The electorate was never, ever even remotely close to being this grossly irresponsible before.

        America has gone stark, raving mad. Maybe the Russians actually DID put something in the water, polluting our precious bodily fluids…

      2. Doug Ross

        I hope we do have an investigation and as part of the investigation, every email from John Podesta is examined and reviewed for accuracy. Let’s get all that in the record. And when it’s done, nothing will matter. Trump will still be President. Haters gonna hate. It’s 2008 all over again when Obama got elected and many on the right did dumb stuff. Now it’s the Democrats turn to be hypocrites. But as it was in 2008, it’s sore losers… emphasis on losers.

          1. Doug Ross

            Define nefarious. I’m still waiting for an explanation of what information was released that damaged Hillary.

            Passing out at the 9/11 Memorial did more damage to her than any hacked email.

            Stating she was going to shut down the coal business did more damage to her in key Rust Belt states than any hacked emails.

            Calling some of Trump supporters part of a “basket of deplorables” did more damage to her than any hacked emails.

            Sleepwalking through the last month of the campaign and relying on celebrity surrogates to do the hard work of campaigning while Trump was an Energizer bunny on the campaign trail did more damage than any hacked email.

            Based on what we know of Putin’s methods, if he wanted Trump to win he could have done something far, far worse to damage Hillary.

    2. bud

      Obama chose not to because he didn’t won’t to appear partisan toward the election. Democrats are never as ruthless as the evil GOP.

    1. Doug Ross

      They didn’t mess with the process. Unless there is evidence of hacking voting machines, all that was done was release information. Apparently truthful information because we never heard any denials at the time, only that the big bad boogiemen in Russia were stealing the election. It was good to know that people like Donna Brazile were feeding debate questions to the DNC, wasn’t it? She no longer denies it like she did at first (a trait she must have learned from Hillary).

      Hillary has never in her life admitted to doing anything wrong or admitted that the people around her did anything wrong. That’s a huge character flaw in my book. She never cut ties with Debbie Wasserman Schulz, never cut ties with Huma, never cut ties with Podesta. They got what they deserved. Their arrogance and disregard for the truth was as much to blame for their loss as anything.

        1. Claus

          bud, enough of the “fake news”.

          What meddling cost her the election? That broad of a statement is like me saying cars kill people… that is all.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Of course they messed with the process. What you just described is how you do that. You put out one “scandalous” thing after another with great fanfare (including ridiculous stuff like Podesta supposedly trying to undermine the Catholic Church, and over time, whether any of the factoids was a scandal in itself, it add up in people’s minds to “bad.”

      It’s classic. It’s what Snowden did to the NSA. He kept telling us, by releasing this or that specific example, that we were doing what I had always assumed we had been doing, thanks to having paid attention to the programs put in place after 9/11.

      And all the people who WEREN’T paying attention looked at his hyperbolic characterizations, some of them absurd enough to make Trump jealous, and decided it was all BAD…

      1. Doug Ross

        Releasing something scandalous every day? Yes, that sounds EXACTLY like what the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington, Slate, etc. did every single day about Trump for six months.

        How many votes did Trump lose because of that? How many votes did Hillary lose because of the emails? It’s a wash.

        The truth shall set you free… or cause you to be exposed as a calculating liar.

        1. Doug Ross

          You also incorrectly assume that just because you and others on this blog were reading the news about the hacked emails, that most Americans were. They weren’t. 90% of Americams couldn’t tell you who John Podesta was.

          1. Harry Harris

            I guess you weren’t watching Fox News during the period. Other TV news reported headline-style excerpts as well.

            1. Doug Ross

              Uh, fewer than 2% of the U.S. voting public watches Fox News. Check the ratings. Their demographic is mostly over age 65.

        2. Bryan Caskey

          Doug does have a point. Even if I stipulate the Russians hacked the DNC and released “scandalous” information allowing voters to see the general awfulness of the Dems, which led them to choose Trump, then what is being proposed?

          1. Doug Ross

            They haven’t heard that lie a thousand times already?

            Even today, the front page of the Washington Post, Slate, HuffPost, etc. is dominated with stories on Trump. They can’t get enough of him and love the clicks they generate. He’s a gold mine for them,

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Here we go again with Doug’s mercantilist view of the world. It’s always all about making money, right?

              Does it not occur to you that a responsible journalist who doesn’t give a damn about the clicks would see it as his duty to his readers/viewers/whatever to tell them everything he possibly can about this nightmare who was just elected president? Is there a more important story that journalist should be covering instead?

              No. There is not. Because we have NEVER had someone about to take control of the presidency who needed maximum scrutiny as much as Trump does. No responsible journalist whose duty is to cover the doings of the presidency can look away from this guy for an INSTANT.

              This is so extremely and painfully obvious, I don’t understand why you want to taint it by suggesting it’s about the money. If this is one of those rare cases where news outlets doing their duty makes more money, then hallelujah — it’s about damn’ time…

              1. Claus

                They still do it for the money. Some of us don’t really have the passion for journalism that you do. Our passion is financially based. I don’t think I’ve ever been or ever will be as excited to open a newspaper the way that you do.

                Have you noticed the Editorials that WIS management has been running for the past 3-4 years? Yeah, maybe one day something one of these journalists will say something that will actually save us from ourselves, but all I’m hearing is noise.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Claus, here’s the thing: Anybody who goes into journalism for the money is nuts. I’ve never known anybody who did that.

                  And no, I haven’t seen one of those TV “editorials” in quite some time. I seldom watch TV news; not my preferred medium.

                  I think the last one I saw was under previous management. Let’s just say I was underwhelmed; I don’t think the folks involved had a good grasp of what an “editorial” is…

                2. Claus

                  I was actually talking about the newspaper. They’re continuing to run the stories because they still draw readers. It’s like watching any of the live breaking news stories on television, after 10 minutes they’ve talked to everyone and said everything needed to say… yet they go on into hours 6-7 repeating what was said in the first 10 minutes.

                3. Brad Warthen Post author

                  You lost me there again. You were saying something about the newspaper and then switched to TV.

                  I’ll just answer the first part: I THINK what you’re saying is that the newspaper as a BUSINESS keeps operating because it still makes money, even though it’s not much.

                  Well, yeah, of course. You can’t keep publishing a paper if there’s NO revenue.

                  But that has nothing to do with journalists and their motivations. Sure, if they don’t get paid anymore they’ll have to go find something to do that DOES pay the mortgage — which a lot of us have been forced to do. But it doesn’t make sense to CHOOSE journalism as a line of work if you’re motivated by money. People who are smart enough to be successful at journalism usually could have done a LOT of other things that would make more money. They just weren’t motivated to do those other things.

                  People become stockbrokers for the money. Some become lawyers for the money. Some even become doctors for the money. But if you become a journalist for the money, you must have a screw loose…

                4. Brad Warthen Post author

                  … and I’ll add that this can be the cause of a cognitive divide between journalists and normal people. Lots of readers have trouble understanding the world view of people who aren’t motivated by money. A lot of journalists have trouble understanding people who ARE money-oriented.

                5. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Mind you, I’m talking in general terms here. I suppose if you look long enough you’ll find someone in journalism who’s really into money — although it would be pretty strange if that was the person’s original motivation for getting into the trade.

                  In fact, I just thought of one. I think I’ve told this story before. In 1976, when I was new to the business, I had a conversation about the presidential election with an editor in our newsroom. I said something about liking Jimmy Carter, and she said she had decided to vote for Ford. That sounded fine to me — I liked Ford; I just liked Carter more. But then I asked her how she had reached that conclusion, figuring she probably had a good reason.

                  She said she and her husband had sat down and done some math, and decided that if Carter were elected, they would have to pay $1,000 more in taxes. That was it — not a WORD about issues, or the character of the candidate, or anything.

                  I was STUNNED. That may well have been the most startling thing I’ve ever heard another journalist say. I mean, never mind the absurdity of assuming you could predict with that kind of precision exactly what your taxes would be in the future based on nothing more than who the president is. (There are SO many other variables!)

                  What got me was her unapologetic mercenary attitude — her vote was for sale, and she didn’t care who knew it. I thought, but was too polite to say, “What the HELL are you doing working in a newsroom if money is the most important thing in the world to you — more important than any other consideration in choosing a president?”

      2. Doug Ross

        I assume you aren’t bothered as much by things like Republicans claiming John McCain had an black baby? Why didn’t McCain go after his own party with the same fervor? He rolled over and took it… That’s when I first started to lose respect for him. He was too partisan to fight back.

        As long as it’s Americans pushing lies, it’s okay. Especially when they work for South Carolina’s political consulting firms that you support. Better than Russians divulging the truth.

          1. Doug Ross

            Huh? He WAS slandered and didn’t fight back. I don’t like people who don’t defend themselves (and their children) against slander. He got back in line with the party. Party first, honor second.

              1. Doug Ross

                He’s going after the Russians for hacking emails much harder than he did the RNC and people like Karl Rove for smearing him and his family. What’s not to understand? He isn’t the tough guy his reputation makes him out to be. What they did to him was terrible. What he did in response was cowardly.

              2. Claus

                I”m hearing a lot of people talk about McCain the same way they talked about John Glenn. A hero who “jumped the shark” by getting into politics and leaving a bad taste in the mouth of many who held him in high regard.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  And of course I see it as just the opposite — both men were determined to continue to serve their country after their military careers were over, and I honor them for it.

                  People like them are excellent arguments AGAINST term limits…

  6. Bryan Caskey

    What do we really need to “investigate” at this point? All our intelligence services have done the investigation and reported back that it was the Russians. We know they hacked the DNC and released embarrassing e-mails through Wikileaks, which is a well-known Russian front.

    I accept that’s what happened. My response is what Malone tells Ness in the church scene in The Untouchables: “What are you prepared to do?”

    1. bud

      If Trump and his people knew about or even conspired in it. We don’t know that yet. This is 10000000000000 times more important than Benghazi. Something investigated 9 ****ing times.

      1. Doug Ross

        How dare they reveal the truthful activities of a non-government entity!

        Let’s not forget, the DNC is not part of the government. Right? This is no different (actually less of a problem) than Russian hackers breaking into Target’s credit card database.

        What was revealed that changed the results of the election? Give us examples. That Donna Brazile fed questions to the DNC from CNN? That a reporter for Politico got approval from Podesta for stories he wrote (and he was just hired by the NY Times)?

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      If Putin pulls a knife, we pull a gun….

      But seriously, I don’t think it’s a done deal. If I understand it correctly, CIA has officially reached the conclusion that it was the Russians, but other details aren’t as firm.

      For instance, I don’t think the conclusion that it was done in support of Trump’s candidacy is nearly as firm as that. That needs more digging.

      I’m basing this on something Michael Hayden, ex-head of the CIA and NSA, said in an op-ed today, headlined “Trump is already antagonizing the intelligence community, and that’s a problem“:

      To be fair, the “Russia did it” announcement in October was official and well documented. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. attached their reputations to it. This new “Russians did it to help Trump” story was murky, unofficial and tied to anonymous sources….

      Another excerpt from the piece:

      An administration-in-waiting more confident in itself, in its own legitimacy, in U.S. institutions and in the people it will soon govern might have said, “These are serious issues. We intend to hear them out. Nothing is more precious than our democratic process. We have asked the Obama administration for details.”

      The fact that that didn’t happen should invite tons of commentary. But not from me. My narrow concerns as an intelligence officer are the questions raised above. How will this affect the new president’s relationship with the intelligence community?

      A lot. And not well….

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        After I Tweeted about that this morning, I sent this to clarify:

  7. bud

    Everyone is missing the bigger point here. Did Trump or Tillerson or some other Trump goon have an involvement?

    1. Doug Ross

      I don’t know. Did the DNC receive inside information on the debate questions from media members? Did they act as editors for journalists writing stories about Hillary? Did they have a list of VP candidates sorted by race and gender?

      What exactly was revealed in the hacking that changed the results of the election?

      1. bud

        So now you’re equating a news organization with a foreign adversary?? Really? This is very disturbing especially since Trumps thugs were probably a part of it. At what point will the Russians call in their favor? Is this another Molotov-Libbentrop arraignment? What part of Ukraine will the USA get?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          And actually, that’s a pretty good example of what I was talking about before — a “revelation” that is presented as though something scandalous is going on when there most certainly isn’t. And then the next day, you have another thing like that, and the next day another. And the gullible build up this idea in their heads that that Hillary Clinton is just nothing but scandalous, and you’ll vote for the devil himself to keep her out of office. Which millions did.

          1. Doug Ross

            The volume of anti-Trump material in the media far exceeded any news about the hacked emails. In fact, the story was more about the Russians allegedly hacking the emails than the contents themselves.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              “The volume of anti-Trump material in the media far exceeded any news about the hacked emails.”

              Well, one would hope so. It would be pretty hard for it to be the other way around. There were SO many things to report about Trump, whereas there was like one leak every few days, and they really weren’t all that interesting. I mean, seriously — stories that told us about the character of the man running for president are not only more interesting, but far more important, than anything John Podesta wrote in an email….

              “In fact, the story was more about the Russians allegedly hacking the emails than the contents themselves.”

              That’s not the way I remember it. The hacks were reported quite matter-of-factly. And played pretty well, in The Washington Post, which is the first source for national political news that I peruse every morning.

              Of course, how they were played in the MSM is fairly irrelevant to the folks who shop the alt-right sources, where this stuff was treated like it was THE story, and blown up into much more than it was…

          2. Doug Ross

            How about this one:

            Politico’s Glenn Thrush, who was exposed in WikiLeaks emails sending stories to Hillary Clinton staffers before publication, will be joining the New York Times to cover the White House, The Huffington Post reported Monday.

            “We’re thrilled that Glenn Thrush is joining The Times,” Elisabeth Bumiller, The New York Times’ Washington bureau chief, told The Huffington Post. “He’s a premier political journalist, a master of breaking news and long-form story telling and a stellar addition to our White House team.”

            While Bumiller described Thrush as a “premier political journalist,” in one email to Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, Thrush chose to describe himself as a “hack.”

            “No worries Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u,” Thrush wrote to Podesta in an April 2015 email. “Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this Tell me if I fucked up anything.”

            Read more:

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I don’t know. If I were the person hiring him at the Times, I’d have had a conversation with him about it.

              I wonder what Politico’s policy is on showing copy, or portions of copy, to sources. Maybe they leave it up to the reporter’s discretion; I don’t know.

              Rules against doing that are pretty common at news organizations. But I’ve always thought such rules existed so that reporters could dodge that hassle from sources without being blamed for it. They could say, “Sorry. I’d let you see it, but we have a strict rule against it.”

              Showing copy to sources can create a lot of problems, according to the circumstances, not least among them the appearance of collusion.

              Of course, it can also avoid problems — especially when you’re dealing with complex or technical matters — so I don’t like to see an absolute ban on it.

              I think I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again: I was a copy clerk at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis just before I got married. I gave the info for our wedding announcement to the feature editor. Later I checked back with her to ask whether we were all set, whether she needed anything else on it. She said no, that it was ready and on the page. I thought that was cool (I worked at the paper, but my name had never appeared in it), and asked to see it — just as I could see practically everything else that ran in the paper ahead of time.

              She said no, because “sources” weren’t allowed to see copy about them prior to publication. I thought that was ridiculous — it was a wedding announcement, not a city hall expose. But I figured, “Those are the rules,” and didn’t ask again.

              When it came out, the headline was “Bradley Warthen to Wed.” My wife was not pleased, and I felt bad for her. This was her town, where she had grown up and where all her friends and relatives lived. And her wedding announcement didn’t even name her in the headline! Whereas very few people were likely to read it and go, “Hey, ol’ Brad’s getting married!”

              I’m sure the woman in features was just trying to be nice to me. But it was a dumb stunt, showing terrible news judgment — I was no celebrity whose name was more important than that of the bride. It was ridiculous. And doing something like that for someone who worked at the paper was unprofessional.

              But at this point, it was too late for me to try to talk her out of it…

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