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The White House is trying to deescalate tensions with North Korea, the only country on Earth whose leader’s architectural taste is even more garish than Donald Trump’s. Ron Johnson speculated that John McCain’s vote against Obamacare repeal was the result of his brain tumor, while we can say with certainty that Johnson’s idiotic statement was the result of his brain. And a newspaper accidentally reported that Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and furry,” which, come to think of it, would be a pretty intimidating thing to see parachuting into and around a major military target. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, August 9th, 2017:
TRUMP IMPROVISED ‘FIRE AND FURY’ - Peter Baker and Glenn Thrush: “President Trump delivered his ‘fire and fury’ threat to North Korea on Tuesday with arms folded, jaw set and eyes flitting on what appeared to be a single page of talking points set before him on the conference table at his New Jersey golf resort. The piece of paper, as it turned out, was a fact sheet on the opioid crisis he had come to talk about, and his ominous warning to Pyongyang was entirely improvised, according to several people with direct knowledge of what unfolded. In discussions with advisers beforehand, he had not run the specific language by them, though he had talked over possible responses in a general way…. While General McMaster and others consider North Korea a pre-eminent threat that requires a tough response, Mr. Bannon and others in the nationalist wing argue that it is really just a subset of the administration’s conflict with China and that Mr. Trump should not give more prominence to an unstable rogue operator like Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader.” [NYT]
MANAFORT’S HOME RAIDED - Free idea for an HGTV show: Home Raiders, in which FBI agents scour homes for signs of malfeasance and dated interior design (“These popcorn ceilings are problematic, as are the stacks of $50s we found in the freezer”). Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman ”FBI agents raided the Alexandria home of President Trump’s former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort’s home without advance warning in the predawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee. The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III departed the home with various records. Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, confirmed that agents executed a warrant at one of the political consultant’s homes and that Manafort cooperated with the search. Manafort has been voluntarily producing documents to congressional committees investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.” [WaPo]
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TRUMP TAKES AIM AT MCCONNELL - To be fair, if we became president based on our experience a running a failed casino and selling meat in an electronics catalog, we’d probably develop “excessive expectations” about things, too. Daniel Marans: “President Donald Trump on Wednesday rebuked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for claiming Trump had been overly optimistic about the prospect of repealing the Affordable Care Act. ‘Senator Mitch McConnell said I had “excessive expectations,” but I don’t think so,’ Trump tweeted. ‘After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?’ McConnell had accused Trump of having ‘excessive expectations’ for legislative progress during remarks to a Rotary Club in Kentucky on Monday. ‘Part of the reason I think that the storyline is that [lawmakers] haven’t done much is because, in part, the president and others have set these early timelines about things need to be done by a certain point,’ he said.” [HuffPost]
There’s a lot of this going on. “Last month’s epic failure to deliver on their 7-year-old promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act is causing angst among GOP candidates up and down the ticket ahead of next year’s congressional midterm election.” [HuffPost’s Igor Bobic]
RON JOHNSON: MCCAIN’S TUMOR MADE HIM VOTE AGAINST OBAMACARE REPEAL - The best part is Johnson saying, “I’m not going to speak for John McCain right before he speculates about his neurological well-being. Igor Bobic: “Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) implied Tuesday that Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) recently discovered brain tumor may have had some kind of influence on his dramatic vote last month to help table a bill that would have repealed Obamacare. ‘We did get a call from [House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)] and he assured us that [the bill] was not going to pass the House, and it would have to go to conference,’ Johnson said during an interview with AM560 ‘Chicago’s Morning Answer,’ which was first flagged by CNN. ‘Again, I’m not gonna speak for John McCain,’ Johnson went on. ’You know, he has a brain tumor right now ― that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning ― some of that might have factored in,′ he continued. ‘Really?’ one of the interviewers said. ‘You really think that that played a factor in his judgment call?’” [HuffPost]
MERCERS TARGETING FLAKE - Alex Isenstadt: ”One of Donald Trump’s most generous political benefactors is providing a six-figure donation to a super PAC devoted to unseating Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican who has been fiercely critical of the president. Robert Mercer, a reclusive hedge fund billionaire who was intimately involved in Trump’s rise and helped to bankroll his 2016 campaign, is contributing $300,000 to a super PAC supporting former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who is challenging Flake in a Republican primary next year. It’s the latest sign that Trump’s political machine is preparing to take on Flake, whose persistent attacks have angered the president. The White House has met with Ward and two other Republicans who are mulling primary challenges to the Arizona senator, state Treasurer Jeff DeWit and former state GOP Chairman Robert Graham.” [Politico]
DUNCAN HUNTED, AMIRITE - Making that joke was worth the extra 40,000 years in purgatory we’ll get for it. Susan D. Wire: ”FBI agents searched the office of Rep. Duncan Hunter’s campaign treasurer in February, seizing computer equipment and documents for their investigation into whether the Alpine Republican misused campaign funds. The search warrant for Election CFO — the agency Hunter hired to ensure his campaign complied with campaign finance rules — reveals new information about the federal investigation into Hunter’s campaign spending. The warrant, which was unsealed in March, said agents were looking for evidence showing whether Hunter’s campaign funds were used for personal reasons, whether there was a scheme to defraud a bank over video game purchases, and whether Hunter’s campaign finance reports were falsified to ‘impede or influence’ FBI and House Ethics Committee inquiries into his use of campaign funds.” [LA Times]
Servicemembers sue over transgender ban. “Five active-duty service members sued President Trump Wednesday over his intentions to ban transgender personnel from serving in the military…. The plaintiffs are a Coast Guard member who has written a prospective letter of resignation; an Air Force active-duty service member of nearly 20 years who served twice in Iraq; and three Army soldiers.” [WaPo’s Robert Barnes]
ETHICS COMMITTEE EXPANDS CONYERS INVESTIGATION - In Conyers’ defense, the likelihood of finding a lawmaker giving someone a no-show job is a bit like probing into whether someone as a teenager once hid some weed in their underwear drawer. Rema Rahman: “The House Ethics Committee announced Wednesday it would extend its review of an inquiry into whether Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. paid a longtime aide more than $50,000 over a four-month period when the staffer might not have conducted official business. A report from May by the Office of Congressional Ethics, with which the inquiry originated, detailed Conyers’ decision to place his then-chief of staff Cynthia Martin on leave without pay after she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor on March 30, 2016.” [Roll Call]
COMES COMPLETE WITH A FRED TRUMP HOLOGRAM - It’s programmed to tell you you’re not good enough every hour, on the hour. Liz Stark: “It may not be Trump Tower, but Airbnb is offering visitors a stay at President Donald Trump’s early childhood home. The former Trump residence, located in Jamaica Estates, a wealthy neighborhood in Queens, is available for $725 per night…. Built by Trump’s father, Fred Trump, in the 1940s, the Tudor-style home is where Donald lived until he was four years old, and the property is listed as Trump’s address on his birth certificate. The 2,500-square-foot home was sold last December to real estate investor Michael Davis, who flipped the property to an unnamed bidder in March for $2.14 million.” [CNN]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here are some cats being rescued.
THIS IS WHAT WE’VE BEEN REDUCED TO - It’s still funny, though. Kathryn Watson: “The White House has an unusual onlooker Wednesday ― a large, inflatable chicken with golden orange hair. The inflatable chicken, situated on the Ellipse facing 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is a visual that organizers of the Tax Day March have used in the past to coax President Trump to release his tax returns…. The existence of the orange-haired chicken delighted the Internet on Wednesday. [CBS News]
- Dogs don’t like leaving the park.
- The germiest place on an airplane you didn’t know about.
- A piano cat for our times.
@danwlin: [Post-nuclear war hellscape]
TUCKER CARLSON (holding torch atop throne of skulls): Our top story tonight. Why does Teen Vogue hate America?
Know who has coal mines?
Know who want jobs?
West Virginia coal miners.
Let’s create some jobs.
@iboudreau: How annoying will it be to die knowing the doomsday prepper weirdos were right
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