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Fire and Fury

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Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Muellar sets up shop, the rats start fleeing, or, at least, preparing to flee:

There are few modern political variables more disruptive than a dedicated prosecutor. It's the ultimate wild card.

A prosecutor means that the issue under investigation, or, invariably, cascading issues, will be a constant media focus. Setting their own public stage, prosecutors are certain leakers.
It means that everybody in a widening circle has to hire a lawyer. Even tangential involvement can cost six figures; central involvement quickly rises into the millions.

By early summer, there was already an intense seller's market in Washington for top criminal legal talent. As the Mueller investigation got under way, White House staffers made a panicky rush to get the best firm before someone else got there first and created a conflict.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

Even after you leave, there is danger. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Yup. All trails lead to the White House:

The idea of formal collusion and artful conspiracy,as media and Democrats more or less breathlessly believed or hoped had happened between Trump and the Russians,seemed unlikely to everybody in the White House. (Bannon's comment that the Trump campaign was not organized enough to collude with its own state organizations became everybody's favorite talking point,not least because it was true.) But nobody was vouching for the side deals and freelance operations and otherwise nothing-burger stuff that was a prosecutor's daily bread and the likely detritus of the Trump hangers-on. And everybody believed that if the investigation moved into the long chain of Trump financial transactions, it would almost certainly reach the Trump family and the Trump White House.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Comey testifies. A perceived problem becomes real:

On June 8, from a little after ten in the morning to nearly one in the afternoon, James Comey testified in public before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The former FBI director's testimony, quite a tour de force of directness, moral standing, personal honor, and damning details, left the country with a simple message: the president was likely a fool and certainly a liar. In the age of modern media politesse, few presidents had been so directly challenged and impugned before Congress.

Here it was, stark in Comey's telling: the president regarded the FBI director as working directly for him, of owing his job to him, and now he wanted something back. "My common sense," said Comey, "again, I could be wrong, but my common sense told me what's going on here is he's looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job."

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

Worth the reread. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Perhaps the first real look at the fallacy of "draining the swamp":

"This town is about institutions," Bannon continued. "We fire the FBI director and we fire the whole FBI. Trump is a man against institutions, and the institutions know it. How do you think that goes down?"

This was shorthand for a favorite Bannon riff: In the course of the campaign, Donald Trump had threatened virtually every institution in American political life. He was a clown-prince version of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Trump believed, offering catnip to deep American ire and resentment, that one man could be bigger than the system. This analysis presupposed that the institutions of political life were as responsive as those in the commercial life that Trump was from,and that they yearned to meet the market and find the Zeitgeist. But what if these institutions - the media, the judiciary, the intelligence community, the greater executive branch itself, and the "swamp" with its law firms, consultants, influence peddlers, and leakers,were in no way eager to adapt? If, by their nature, they were determined to endure, then this accidental president was up against it.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

Draining the swamp creates a tide that can turn, inevitably. 

SoupIsGoodFood --- 1 years ago -

LOL............ Hoping if you post enough of this it will magically become fact.

Gotta love the blind dedication. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Sean's tarbaby:

Sean Spicer caught the brunt of the daily drama, turning this otherwise reasonable, mild-mannered, process-oriented professional into a joke figure standing at the White House door. In his daily out-of-body experience, as a witness to his own humiliation and loss for words, Spicer understood after a while, although he began to understand this beginning his first day on the job when dealing with the dispute about the inaugural audience numbers, that he had "gone down a rabbit hole." In this disorienting place, all public artifice, pretense, proportion, savvy, and self-awareness had been cast off, or - possibly another result of Trump never really intending to be president - never really figured into the state of being president.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

Sean, to his credit, departed without fanfare. 

SoupIsGoodFood --- 1 years ago -

Yawn.......... still not fact...... but keep trying. 

jackass --- 1 years ago -

LOL only works when trump does it. 

Joe Blow --- 1 years ago -

LOL only works when trump does it.?

LMFAO and only when tossed at his red meat base! 

SoupIsGoodFood --- 1 years ago -

Still not fact. Even with steiny and Joey chiming in. 

jackass --- 1 years ago -

Who cares, it?s just funny to watch you attempt to belittle what clearly makes you uncomfortable...LOlL 

Joe Blow --- 1 years ago -

SoupIsGoodFood ---

^^^ speaking of red meat baseholes.


SoupIsGoodFood --- 1 years ago -

Triggered Joey. My work here is done. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

That infamous meeting in Trump Tower:

All this was part of the background to one of the most preposterous meetings in modern politics. On June 9, 2016, Don Jr., Jared, and Paul Manafort met with a movieworthy cast of dubious characters in Trump Tower after having been promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Don Jr., encouraged by Jared and Ivanka, was trying to impress his father that he had the stuff to rise in the campaign.

When this meeting became public thirteen months later, it would, for the Trump White House, encapsulate both the case against collusion with the Russians and the case for it. It was a case, or the lack of one, not of masterminds and subterfuge, but of senseless and benighted people so guileless and unconcerned that they enthusiastically colluded in plain sight.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

Couldn't spell "collusion", yet managed to set the stage. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Bannon's thoughts about the Trump Tower meeting:

"The three senior guys in the campaign," an incredulous Bannon went on, "thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the twenty-fifth floor'with no lawyers. They didn't have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately. Even if you didn't think to do that, and you're totally amoral, and you wanted that information, you do it in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people and go through everything and then they verbally come and tell another lawyer in a cut-out, and if you've got something, then you figure out how to dump it down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication. You never see it, you never know it, because you don't need to. . . . But that's the brain trust that they had."

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

Bannon knew it was bad ju-ju - dumb at the very least. 

Markster --- 1 years ago -


Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Post Russian meeting analysis:

First, the constant, ever repeated denials about there having been no discussion between campaign officials and the Russians connected to the Kremlin about the campaign, and, indeed, no meaningful contact between campaign officials and the Russian government, were exploded.

Second, the certainty among the White House staff that Trump himself would have not only been apprised of the details of this meeting, but have met the principals, meant that the president was caught out as a liar by those whose trust he most needed. It was another inflection point between hunkered-in-the-bunker and signed-on-for-the-wild-ride, and get-me-out-of-here.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

The WH staff undoubtedly knew there was a meeting with the Russians. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

The infamous plane ride home from the G20 summit. Everybody knew the story was about to break:

En route to Washington, Sean Spicer and everybody else from the communications office was relegated to the back of the plane and excluded from the panicky discussions. Hope Hicks became the senior communications strategist, with the president, as always, her singular client. In the days following, that highest political state of being "in the room" was turned on its head. Not being in the room, in this case, the forward cabin on Air Force One, became an exalted status and get-out-of-jail-free card. "It used to hurt my feelings when I saw them running around doing things that were my job," said Spicer. "Now I'm glad to be out of the loop."

Included in the discussion on the plane were the president, Hicks, Jared and Ivanka, and their spokesperson, Josh Raffel. Ivanka, according to the later recollection of her team, would shortly leave the meeting, take a pill, and go to sleep. Jared, in the telling of his team, might have been there, but he was "not taking a pencil to anything."

Nearby, in a small conference room watching the movie Fargo, were Dina Powell, Gary Cohn, Stephen Miller, and H. R. McMaster, all of whom would later insist that they were, however physically close to the unfolding crisis, removed from it. And, indeed, anyone "in the room" was caught in a moment that would shortly receive the special counsel's close scrutiny, with the relevant question being whether one or more federal employees had induced other federal employees to lie.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

The concocted message response was to become headlines as well. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

As the NYT stories progressed, the WH developed a sliding scale of culpability:

Blame continued to flow. The odor of a bitter new reality, if not doom, that attached to the Comey-Mueller debacle was compounded by everyone's efforts not to be tagged by it.

The sides in the White House - Jared, Ivanka, Hope Hicks, and an increasingly ambivalent Dina Powell and Gary Cohn on one side, and almost everyone else, including Priebus, Spicer, Conway, and most clearly Bannon, on the other - were most distinguished by their culpability in or distance from the Comey-Mueller calamity. It was, as the non-Jarvanka side would unceasingly point out, a calamity of their own making. Therefore it became an effort of the Jarvankas not only to achieve distance for themselves from the causes of the debacle, such involvement as they had they now cast as strictly passive involvement or just following orders, but to suggest that their adversaries were at least equally at fault.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

It gets more difficult to avoid blame. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Post firing hysterics in the WH:

"You don't know what you're doing," shouted a livid Bannon at Hicks, demanding to know who she worked for, the White House or Jared and Ivanka. "You don't know how much trouble you are in," he screamed, telling her that if she didn"t get a lawyer he would call her father and tell him he had better get her one. "You are dumb as a stone!" Moving from the cabinet room across the open area into the president"s earshot, "a loud, scary, clearly threatening" Bannon, in the Jarvanka telling, yelled, "I am going to f*** you and your little group!" with a baffled president plaintively wanting to know, "What?s going on?"

In the Jarvanka-side account, Hicks then ran from Bannon, hysterically sobbing and "visibly terrified." Others in the West Wing marked this as the high point of the boiling enmity between the two sides. For the Jarvankas, Bannon's rant was also a display that they believed they could use against him. The Jarvanka people pushed Priebus to refer the matter to the White House counsel, billing this as the most verbally abusive moment in the history of the West Wing, or at least certainly up among the most abusive episodes ever.

For Bannon, this was just more Jarvanka desperation - they were the ones, not him, saddled with Comey-Mueller. They were the ones panicking and out of control.

For the rest of his time in the White House, Bannon would not speak to Hicks again.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

Post Comey conspiracies still haunt the WH halls. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

The wacky NYT interview:

Unbeknownst to senior staff, or to the comms office - other than by way of a pro forma schedule note - the president had given a major interview to the New York Times. Jared and Ivanka, along with Hope Hicks, had set it up. The Times's Maggie Haberman, Trump's bĂȘte noire ("very mean, and not smart") and yet his go-to journalist for some higher sort of approval, had been called in to see the president with her colleagues Peter Baker and Michael Schmidt. The result was one of the most peculiar and ill-advised interviews in presidential history, from a president who had already, several times before, achieved that milestone.

In the interview, Trump had done his daughter and son-in-law's increasingly frantic bidding. He had, even if to no clear end and without certain strategy, continued on his course of threatening the attorney general for recusing himself and opening the door to a special prosecutor. He openly pushed Sessions to resign, mocking and insulting him and daring him to try to stay. However much this seemed to advance no one's cause, except perhaps that of the special prosecutor, Bannon's incredulity - "Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is not going to go anywhere" - was most keenly focused on another remarkable passage in the interview: the president had admonished the special counsel not to cross the line into his family's finances.

"Ehhh . . . ehhh . . . ehhh!" screeched Bannon, making the sound of an emergency alarm. "Don't look here! Let's tell a prosecutor what not to look at!"

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

The interview would be decried as "off the record." It was planned. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Bannon saw the money laundering angle to Mueller's investigation:

Bannon, with further disbelief, recounted the details of a recent story from the Financial Times about Felix Sater, one of the shadiest of the shady Trump-associated characters, who was closely aligned with Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen (reportedly a target of the Mueller investigation), and a key follow-the-money link to Russia. Sater, "get ready for it - I know this may shock you, but wait for it" - had had major problems with the law before, "caught with a couple of guys in Boca running Russian money through a boiler room." And, it turns out, "Brother Sater" was prosecuted by - "wait" - Andrew Weissmann. (Mueller had recently hired Weissmann, a high-powered Washington lawyer who headed the DOJ's criminal fraud division.) "You've got the LeBron James of money laundering investigations on you, Jarvanka. My as****e just got so tight!"

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

This was summer 2017. Seems like that's exactly where Muellar went. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Bannon's incredulity about the state of affairs created by the Trump/Russian meeting:

It was clear where Mueller and his team were going, said Bannon: they would trace a money trail through Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, and Jared Kushner and roll one or all of them on the president.

It's Shakespearean, he said, enumerating the bad advice from his family circle: "It's the geniuses, the same people who talked him into firing Comey, the same people on Air Force One who cut out his outside legal team, knowing the email was out there, knowing that email existed, put the statement out about Don Junior, that the meeting was all about adoptions . . . the same geniuses trying to get Sessions fired.

"Look, Kasowitz has known him for twenty-five years. Kasowitz has gotten him out of all kinds of jams. Kasowitz on the campaign - what did we have, a hundred women? Kasowitz took care of all of them. And now he's out in, what, four weeks? He's New York's toughest lawyer. Mark Corallo, toughest motherf****r I ever met, just can?t do it."

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

A few days ago, Bannon put forth his ideas of how to cope with the mess. They were the same as quoted in the book. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Scaramucci and Priebus, essentially fired each other. The Mooch for an interview with New Yorker magazine, and Priebus after the healthcare debacle:

But indeed there was no time to waste. Now the paramount issue before the Trump government was that somebody would have to fire Scaramucci. Since Scaramucci had effectively gotten rid of Priebus, the person who logically should have fired him, the new chief of staff was needed, more or less immediately, to get rid of the Mooch.

And six days later, just hours after he was sworn in, Kelly fired Scaramucci.

Chastened themselves, the junior first couple, the geniuses of the Scaramucci hire, panicked that they would, deservedly, catch the blame for one of the most ludicrous if not catastrophic hires in modern White House history.

Now they rushed to say how firmly they supported the decision to get rid of Scaramucci.

"So I punch you in the face," Sean Spicer noted from the sidelines, "and then say, 'Oh my god, we've got to get you to a hospital!' "

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Kelly is hired to manage everybody but Trump. It was a challenge:

But overriding the management of the harrowing West Wing dysfunction, Kelly's success - or even relevance, as he was informed by almost anyone who was in a position to offer him an opinion - depended on his rising to the central challenge of his job, which was how to manage Trump. Or, actually, how to live with not managing him. His desires, needs, and impulses had to exist - necessarily had to exist - outside the organizational structure.

Trump was the one variable that, in management terms, simply could not be controlled. He was like a recalcitrant two-year-old. If you tried to control him, it would only have the opposite effect. In this, then, the manager had to most firmly manage his own expectations.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

After the Charlottesville killings, after being absent from the media for awhile, Trump goes off script about the demonstrations, and leaves the real world aghast:

In the wake of the immolating news conference, all eyes were suddenly on Kelly - this was his baptism of Trump fire. Spicer, Priebus, Cohn, Powell, Bannon, Tillerson, Mattis, Mnuchin - virtually the entire senior staff and cabinet of the Trump presidency, past and present - had traveled through the stages of adventure, challenge, frustration, battle, self-justification, and doubt, before finally having to confront the very real likelihood that the president they worked for, whose presidency they bore some official responsibility for, didn't have the wherewithal to adequately function in his job. Now, after less than two weeks on the job, it was Kelly's turn to stand at that precipice.

The debate, as Bannon put it, was not about whether the president's situation was bad, but whether it was Twenty-Fifth-Amendment bad.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Bannon is out. His twisty turning story lost out to the Jarvanka twisty turning story. Trump family withstands challenges. It's time for the Alabama election to fill the Sessions vacated seat. The Strange/Moore battle could have been avoided by Trump:

For Bannon, this episode was not only about the president's continuing and curious confusion about what he represented, but about his mercurial, intemperate, and often cockamamie motivations. Against all political logic, Trump had supported Luther Strange, he told Bannon, because "Luther's my friend."

"He said it like a nine-year-old," said Bannon, recoiling, and noting that there was no universe in which Trump and Strange were actually friends.

For every member of the White House senior staff this would be the lasting conundrum of dealing with President Trump: the "why" of his often baffling behavior.

"The president fundamentally wants to be liked" was Katie Walsh's analysis. "He just fundamentally needs to be liked so badly that it's always . . . everything is a struggle for him."

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

I now have the Comey ebook, A Higher Loyalty. Maybe I'll post some of it after this effort - after I read it. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Tillerson committed the unpardonable offense(regardless if it was a widespread attitude) and paid the price:

In early October, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's fate was sealed - if his obvious ambivalence toward the president had not already sealed it- by the revelation that he had called the president "a f****** moron."

This - insulting Donald Trump's intelligence - was both the thing you could not do and the thing - drawing there-but-for-the-grace-of-God guffaws across the senior staff - that everybody was guilty of. Everyone, in his or her own way, struggled to express the baldly obvious fact that the president did not know enough, did not know what he didn't know, did not particularly care, and, to boot, was confident if not serene in his unquestioned certitudes. There was now a fair amount of back-of-the-classroom giggling about who had called Trump what. For Steve Mnuchin and Reince Priebus, he was an "idiot." For Gary Cohn, he was "dumb as s***." For H. R. McMaster he was a "dope." The list went on.

Tillerson would merely become yet another example of a subordinate who believed that his own abilities could somehow compensate for Trump's failings.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Late in the first year, the WH is flushing people without replacements. It's getting more difficult to convince anyone to accept a position sure to be abused and eventually discarded in the new swamp:

Now, nine months in, the administration faced the additional problem that it was very hard to hire anyone of stature to replace the senior people who had departed. And the stature of those who remained seemed to be more diminutive by the week.

Hope Hicks, at twenty-eight, and Stephen Miller, at thirty-two, both of whom had begun as effective interns on the campaign, were now among the seniormost figures in the White House. Hicks had assumed command of the communications operation, and Miller had effectively replaced Bannon as the senior political strategist.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

Children playing in the most powerful office on earth. 

Butterbean --- 1 years ago -

Bannon's departure from the WH did not cool the firebrand. The fact that news outlets were scheduling him for important interviews was a consternation to Trump:

"Why is Steve speaking? I didn?t know he spoke," the president remarked with puzzlement and rising worry to aides.

Trump had been upstaged in other ways as well. He had been scheduled for a major 60 Minutes interview in September, but this was abruptly canceled after Bannon's 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose on September 11. The president's advisers felt he shouldn't put himself in a position where he would be compared with Bannon. The worry among staffers - all of them concerned that Trump's rambling and his alarming repetitions (the same sentences delivered with the same expressions minutes apart) had significantly increased, and that his ability to stay focused, never great, had notably declined - was that he was likely to suffer by such a comparison. Instead, the interview with Trump was offered to Sean Hannity - with a preview of the questions.

-Wolff, Michael: Fire and Fury- Inside the Trump White House

The book ends about here with as many questions as answers - maybe more.

I thought it was a personal observation, interestingly written. The evaluations of the inner workings at the decision level of the WH is, I believe, accurate.

I continue to recommend it to every person in America. November is coming.

This will conclude my postings of quotes from the book. I encourage commentary, but not argument. 

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