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‘He is running a cabal’: White House leaker says Steve Bannon runs ‘shadow NSC’ with no paper trail

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Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief political strategist, has taken control of domestic and national security policy, according to a Trump administration source.

An intelligence official who spoke to Foreign Policy magazine painted a picture of a White House that was in disarray and being run without checks and balances or even a complete paper trail.

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Even before he was given a formal seat on the National Security Council’s “principals committee” this weekend by President Donald Trump, Bannon was calling the shots and doing so with little to no input from the National Security Council staff, according to an intelligence official who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution.

“He is running a cabal, almost like a shadow NSC,” the official said. He described a work environment where there is little appetite for dissenting opinions, shockingly no paper trail of what’s being discussed and agreed upon at meetings, and no guidance or encouragement so far from above about how the National Security Council staff should be organized.

The official said that the National Security Council staff had been cut off from reviewing White House executive orders, which has been the practice in previous administrations.

Additionally, Bannon is insisting that the National Security Council make its recommendations without producing a traditional paper trail, known as a “summary of conclusions” (SOC).

“Under [President George W. Bush], the National Security Council was quite strict about recording SOCs,” Matthew Waxman, a former member of Bush’s National Security Council, told Foreign Policy. “There was often a high level of generality, and there may have been some exceptions, but they were carefully crafted.”

According to the intelligence official, the Trump White House generated no SOCs during its first chaotic week. The lack of a paper trail is also helping Bannon concentrate power, the official said.

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“He who has the pen has the authority to shape outcomes.”

The source revealed that Bannon is conducting a “witch hunt” to find out who is leaking proposed executive orders to the press.

“There is zero room for dissenting opinion,” the official explained.

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So much for ‘originalism’ — Trump’s impeachment defense is a constitutional dumpster fire

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In the absence of any exculpatory evidence, Donald Trump's defense against impeachment increasingly relies on arguments that fly directly in the face of the Constitution. Trump himself set the standard last July with his grandiose claim that "Article II says I can do anything I want," which encountered no serious pushback from his fellow Republicans.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Trump lawyer Purpura busted by MSNBC for lying on the Senate floor during impeachment trial

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Moments after the end of the Saturday's Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump concluded, MSNBC host Brian Williams pointed out that one of Donald Trump's attorney's lied on the Senate floor about the president's Ukraine scandal-- and he had a clip handy to prove it.

Sharing footage of attorney Mike Purpura stating the higher-ups in Ukraine were unaware that Donald Trump was withholding aid until after the government helped him by announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, the MSNBC host called the attorney out.

To make his point that Pupura was being untruthful, Williams then showed a clip of Defense Department official Laura Cooper, who testified that Ukrainians were asking about the delay on the day of the Trump phone call that was the starting point of the impeachment trial.

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Any normal president could find some defense attorneys who aren’t clowns and grifters

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

Donald Trump's penchant for telling reporters about his crimes doesn't leave his legal defense team a lot to work with. In the first week of his Senate trial, they've pounded the desk and rended their garments over how mean their Democrats opponents are toward their client. But the worst is yet to come--WaPo reports that during the next phase of the proceedings, Trump's legal team will offer "a scorched-earth defense of President Trump in the impeachment trial, mounting a politically charged case aimed more at swaying American voters than GOP senators — and damaging Trump’s possible 2020 opponent, Joe Biden."

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