yikes

Sean Spicer staying put. Media told: “Get over it!”
Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, May 30 2017

1060x600-9a5389656bc3df2d7a36ba1a1855f01bMay 3 2017. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

The long rumored White House staff shake-up, which began quietly with the resignation of Communications Director Mike Dubke, is not expected to go too deep into the Trump PR operation or nick spokesman Sean Spicer, according to insiders. A key West Wing adviser said that Spicer’s job isn’t threatened and he remains well liked by President Trump and his top team, and Tuesday’s planned press briefing by Spicer is meant to reinforce that. The adviser said:

Spicer isn’t going anywhere, despite the intense speculation, and this briefing is designed to drive home that point. People need to get over the fact that he’s staying put.

While plans to put a brake on the daily news briefings have been described as a “downgrading” of Spicer’s job, some past administrations gave less-than-daily briefings, taking Mondays or Fridays off for example. Another Trump adviser said that doing more off-camera briefings is an attempt to stop “grandstanding” by reporters and to end the “reality show” feel of the events. The adviser said:

The White House will likely do the on-camera press briefings when it serves them best and right now that means doing them a lot less.

Televised daily briefings began during the Clinton 42 administration, and it is something that then-spox Mike McCurry often says he regrets. He recently explained to Politico:

The daily briefing has become less than helpful, and I bear responsibility for that, because I let it become a televised event. It should not be … It should be embargoed until completion and not carried live except in unusual circumstances … like real news happening.

Latest weird stuff:

Investigation of White House-Russia ties expands
Barry Grey, WSWS, May 31 2017

The internecine political warfare that has dominated Washington for months intensified Tuesday with the report that the House and Senate intelligence committees have asked President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to “provide information and testimony” about any contacts he had with Russian officials. The request letters sent to Cohen, whose association with Trump predates the 2016 election campaign, were the same as those sent to Flynn, Manafort, Page and Stone. Flynn refused last week to comply with a subpoena issued by the Senate committee and rejected a request for information from the House. Cohen told ABC News that he had likewise refused to cooperate with the investigations. The Senate committee responded by voting to give its leaders, Republican Chairman Richard Burr and ranking Demagog Mark Warner, the power to issue subpoenas whenever they think it necessary. On Tuesday, Flynn informed the committee that he was willing to release some but not all of the information it requested, saying in an email:

I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered. (The investigation is) a rush to judgment. (This request is a) total fishing expedition. They have yet to produce one single piece of credible evidence that would corroborate the Russia narrative.

The refusal of Cohen and Flynn to comply with the committees’ requests sets up a potential legal confrontation that could include congressional contempt citations, court rulings and the charge of obstruction of justice on the part of Trump, an impeachable offense. The inclusion of Cohen in the congressional investigations expands the involvement of figures in Trump’s direct political and personal periphery. Last week, the focus of the campaign against Trump’s supposed “softness” toward Russia shifted to Jared Kushner. The Demagog Party and much of the media are portraying meetings that Kushner held with Russian officials in December, during the transition period, as illegitimate if not treasonous. Reports that Kushner proposed to Kislyak the establishment of a back channel of communication to discuss cooperation over Syria and other questions are being cited as evidence of an extraordinary and sinister breach of diplomatic and political norms. The back channel was never established. The DNC last week demanded that Trump immediately fire Kushner, and called for a criminal investigation. It demanded to know whether the request for a secret communications channel with Moscow had been authorized by Trump. The furore over this question is a complete red herring. There is nothing extraordinary about such confidential channels being set up with foreign governments, not only by administrations, but also by incoming presidents and even by presidential campaigns prior to elections. The real source of the conflict within the ruling class is the fact that the Trump administration favors a policy of improved relations with Russia, in order to focus its imperialist aggression on China. This cuts across the ferociously anti-Russian policy adopted by the Obama administration and supported by large sections of the intelligence and foreign policy establishment.

The Demagog Party has completely aligned itself with the most rabidly anti-Russian factions of the state and chosen to make this question of imperialist policy the basis of its opposition to Trump. It is saying next to nothing about Trump’s savage attacks on democratic rights and plans to destroy social programs upon which tens of millions of working people rely for health care, nutrition, housing assistance and other basic needs, or his frontal assault on public education. On these issues, as well as further windfalls for the rich, there is little that separates the two big-business parties. The concocted character of the “scandal” over back channels with Russia is of a piece with the fabricated nature of the entire anti-Russian narrative. No substantive evidence has been provided, whether by the intelligence agencies, the Demagogs or the media, to back up the claims of Russian hacking and leaking of DNC emails as part of an effort to tip the election from Clinton to Trump. New media reports containing generally vague and unsubstantiated allegations continue to emerge almost on an hourly basis. One example is a Tuesday report by CNN of intercepted conversions among unnamed Russians concerning unspecified “derogatory” information about Trump associates that might be used to put pressure on the Trump government. Former DNI Clapper has been making the rounds of news programs to stoke up suspicions about Trump administration dealings with Moscow. On Tuesday morning, he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that there was “overwhelming” evidence of Russian interference in the election, but when pressed by Cuomo, he refused to actually provide any. He suggested that Kushner’s discussions with Russian officials might violate the “time-honored principle of one president at a time.” Later on PBS News Hour he said:

There might be a benign explanation, but one wonders if there might be something more nefarious.

Gen Wesley Clark, interviewed Tuesday morning on CNN, connected the Trump-Russia investigation to the president’s much-criticized performance at last week’s NATO and G7 summits and said:

People in Europe are asking why this administration is trying to make Putin happy.

In fact, the response of the European powers to the Trump visit was to shift further from the anti-Russia policy, as exemplified by Macron during Putin’s visit on Monday. The Demagogs are seeking to utilize Trump’s European trip to add fuel to their own foreign policy conflicts with the Trump administration. The trip is seen as disastrous among significant sections of the ruling elite. There are mounting indications of crisis and disarray within the administration. On Tuesday, the White House announced Mike Dubke’s resignation as communications director. This comes amid persistent reports of an imminent shake-up in the White House staff. On Tuesday, Sean Spicer held his first press briefing in two weeks, but refused to answer questions about the inquiry into Kushner. In scripted remarks, he hailed Trump’s foreign tour as a triumph of the administration’s “Pindostan First” foreign policy. In response to a question about Angela Merkel’s sharp rebuke to Trump and call for an independent European policy, he said the relationship between Trump and the German leader was “fairly unbelievable” and insisted that they “got along very well.”

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