POLITICS
05/12/2017 05:14 pm ET

Hard-To-Find Trump/Comey Recording Gets 8.3 From Pitchfork

"Full of tension and sadness"
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President Trump’s tax lawyers said the president has not done deals with Russians over the past 10 years, “with few exceptions,” much like how his entire term to date has been a complete success “with few exceptions.” Today might have been Sean Spicer’s last press briefing, although, to modify Spicer’s own words, we should “let the president’s staffing decisions speak for themselves.” And Trump threatened James Comey by insinuating he taped their conversation, though how he found the time to orchestrate that between locating voter fraud and spilling the beans on Heidi Cruz is beyond us. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, May 12th, 2017:

Looks like next week will be bad, too: “Reuters: FORMER FBI DIR COMEY HAS AGREED IN PRINCIPLE TO GIVE CLOSED-DOOR TESTIMONY TO SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE AT SOME POINT -SOURCE” [@SteveKopack]

TRUMP’S DEALINGS WITH RUSSIA NON-EXISTENT...OR POSSIBLY EXISTENT - Anyhoo, this will all be cleared up at the pool spray in the Oval Office that only Russian media outlets are invited to. Paul Blumenthal and Ben Walsh: “President Donald Trump’s tax lawyers issued a statement on Friday that the White House wants you to take seriously: The president has not received income or taken on any debt or equity from Russian sources over the past 10 years, ‘with a few exceptions.’ This is not how you construct a credible statement about someone’s finances, let alone a sitting president of the United States. ‘With few exceptions’ is such an obvious out that it can barely even be called a loophole ― it simply and openly invalidates the denial that precedes it. Trump has a history of emphatically denying that he has any monetary connection to Russia. In January, he tweeted: ‘NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!’ His lawyers’ new admission of the ‘few exceptions’ indicates this blanket denial was false. The letter written by Sherri Dillon and Willie Nelson, Trump’s tax lawyers at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, is dated March 8.” [HuffPost]

Computers might be dead soon.

TRUMP JUST DARING YOU TO MAKE THAT NIXON COMPARISON NOW - Paige Lavender:   “White House press secretary Sean Spicer won’t deny that President Donald Trump may have recorded a conversation with former FBI Director James Comey in the Oval Office. Spicer said he had ‘nothing further to add’ about the potential recording during a White House press briefing on Friday. Earlier that day, Trump implied he taped a conversation with Comey, who was fired on Tuesday. [Earlier the president tweeted, ‘James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!’] … Regardless of whether a recording exists, Trump’s tweet could be seen as witness intimidation, if Comey is asked to testify during the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.” [HuffPost]

DEMOCRATS CALL BLUFF - Jessica Schulberg and Sam Stein: “The Senate Intelligence Committee is exploring ways to compel President Donald Trump to hand over any potential audio recordings of now-former FBI Director James Comey, an aide with the committee told HuffPost. But officials are grappling with two potential hurdles: They don’t actually know if the tapes exist, and likely will face fierce pushback from the White House if they request them. ‘There’s no simple mechanism, but you can be sure we’ll take a look at it,’ the committee aide said…. The Senate Intelligence Committee ― which is also probing connections between the Trump team and Russian officials ― does not necessarily need to have proof that the tapes exist in order to subpoena them, Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer, told HuffPost. Senate investigators could ask for ‘any recording devices or backup copies that were referenced in the post made by President Trump on the morning of May 12, with respect to recordings with President Trump and Director Comey,’ said Moss.” [HuffPost]

GOP LAWMAKERS STILL LOCATING SPINES - “Republicans said they were troubled and had questions after President Donald Trump fired the man in charge of investigating him. That was Tuesday. Asked Thursday and Friday what they planned to do about it and how they would get answers to their questions, Republican senators offered a collective ‘meh.’ Most pointed to the ongoing work of the FBI probing Trump’s Russia ties, as well as the slow-moving probe by the Senate Intelligence Committee. But few seemed at all interested in doing anything new to shed light on something that last happened when the top two Justice Department officials resigned instead of following President Richard Nixon’s orders to fire the man investigating him.” [HuffPost]

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WHITE HOUSE A MESS, PRESIDENT CONCEDES - God, the 2020 post-debate focus group interviews on CNN are going to be so, so, so deeply upsetting. Michael Calderone: “President Donald Trump admitted Friday what White House reporters already knew: His officials’ statements at press briefings may not be true. ‘As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!’ Trump tweeted. ‘Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future “press briefings” and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???’ Trump’s Twitter rant renewed questions about the utility of press briefings and whether reporters would be better served if they spent their afternoons doing something else…. White House Correspondents’ Association President Jeff Mason said in an email that briefings and press conferences continue to ‘provide substantive and symbolic opportunities for journalists to pose questions to officials at the highest levels of the U.S. government.’” [HuffPost]

OH GREAT, MORE PRISONERS - Why try to alter your party’s platform or direction when you can just try your utmost to arrest everyone on the other side? Ryan J. Reilly: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed federal prosecutors this week to take the most aggressive approach possible against federal criminal defendants. The policy change will result in lengthier prison sentences for drug offenders and likely reverse a recent drop in the federal prison population. In a memo dated May 10, Sessions wrote federal prosecutors ‘should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense,’ calling that a ‘core principle’ of the Justice Department’s charging and sentencing policy. The new policy replaces the approach of the Justice Department during the Obama administration under former Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. They gave federal prosecutors more leeway to decide when it was appropriate to charge crimes that trigger mandatory minimums, which automatically result in set prison terms.” [HuffPost]

GOP’S LONG-TERM POLITICAL VIABILITY LOOKING REALLY GREAT - Bad news for America’s next FBI director. Kate Abbey-Lambertz: “A Houston university has canceled an upcoming commencement speech by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), days after protesters booed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at another historically black university’s graduation. More than 800 people signed a petition to protest Texas Southern University’s decision to invite Cornyn, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, to speak at its Saturday commencement ceremony. On Friday, the Houston Chronicle reported that the speech was off.” [HuffPost]

EMILY’S LIST VET IN AT DNC - No doubt this will be a big topic of discussion next week as Democrats try to reach out to working people at the Four Seasons. Gabriel Debenedetti: “Veteran Democratic operative Jess O’Connell will take the reins as the CEO of the Democratic National Committee, the DNC announced Friday morning, putting her in charge of its day-to-day operations as she oversees its rebuilding project. O’Connell, who recently left her position as executive director of EMILY’s List, will work closely with new Chairman Tom Perez…. A campaign veteran who has also worked at the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, O’Connell’s task is a large one. The committee is largely devoid of senior staff aside from on the communications and research sides, and it has been working in overdrive to restore public trust.” [Politico]

TRUMP REALLY BRINGING COAL BACK NOW FOR REAL, GUYS - Congratulations to West Virginia. Alexander C. Kaufman: “[O]n Thursday, the White House announced a new trade deal with China to bolster the natural gas industry that analysts say starved coal into a slow death by devouring the U.S. electricity market it once dominated. Under the deal, Chinese companies can begin buying liquid natural gas directly from producers in the U.S., fanning the embers of an export industry that began to heat up earlier this year. China’s cities are infamously choked by smog from years of burning coal at a breakneck pace to feed its ravenous appetite for electricity and new factories. Now, as the country moves aggressively to slash its carbon footprint, cleaner-burning natural gas has become an attractive alternative fuel. That’s bad news for coal. In the U.S., domestic coal use plummeted over the past decade as natural gas, made cheap by the so-called fracking revolution, supplanted coal as the chief source of fuel for the utility industry.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer driving around Manhattan in a mobile briefing-room podium.

COMFORT FOOD

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TWITTERAMA

Steven Seagal
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Available streaming August 2017

@petridishes: it’s days like this I wonder if Rosie O’Donnell is secretly trump’s daisy buchanan
and this whole thing has just been to impress her

@JonHenke: Friendly reminder to people who have meetings with Donald Trump: DC only requires one-party consent to record a conversation.

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