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Donald Trump is afraid of the Russia scandal — and he’s having a hard time hiding it

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- Commentary

President Donald Trump might be panicking, according to observers. The new president’s manic behavior seems to be showing itself in his tweets more and more.

As MSNBC’s Steve Benen noted, Trump trying frantically to blame former President Barack Obama for Trump hiring retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn seemed to indicate some anxiety. Trump then decided to suggest former acting attorney general Sally Yates was behind the “illegal leaks” he’s been blaming on ex-Obama staff.

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Trump’s frenzied flood of tweets trying to downplay Yates’ hearing or changing the subject make him look even more desperate. He then decided former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s testimony that claimed there’s “no evidence” of “collusion” between Russia and Trump’s campaign clears him of any possible guilt.

Benen cited Trump’s own profound love of his own tweet that he made it part of his Twitter banner graphic and only changed it after the internet humiliated him with mockery. He wondered what that awkward conversation between the poor White House aide ordered to change the graphic must have been like.

“Trump continues to struggle with reality with a confused understanding of the facts available and his fear is becoming more pronounced,” Benen explained. While Clapper seemed to give Trump a pass, it doesn’t mean the collusion never occurred, merely the investigation is still working to learn more.

When Clapper was asked Monday by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) if he ever found “a situation where a Trump business interest in Russia” gave him “concern.”

Clapper gave a curious response that he didn’t “in the course of the preparation of the intelligence community’s assessment.”

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When pressed further he revealed he can’t comment on anything that could impact an investigation.

Benen included an interview by NBC’s Chuck Todd from a March interview with Clapper on “Meet the Press.” When asked about collusion there, Clapper said, “not to my knowledge.” The quote has been repeated over and over by members of the Trump team. But Monday’s testimony made Trump’s life a little more difficult. He couldn’t comment on an ongoing counterintelligence investigation — meaning there is still an investigation that continues into Trump and Russia.

“He essentially told the Senate subcommittee that he was not in a position to know for certain,” Benen wrote. “This piece of spin should now be buried. Trump can no longer hide behind this one Clapper statement.”

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When it came to specifics on whether the campaign colluded with Russia, Yates said yesterday she couldn’t answer without revealing classified information. As Benen points out, neither of those statements are a win for Trump. Trump’s signature hyperbole and incautious need to spin the facts and quotes he wished people said to make him look even worse.


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Congress must weigh Trump’s poisonous narcissism — as well as his corruption: Yale psychiatrist

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On Thursday, leading psychiatrists and I, along with more than 650 other mental health professionals, submitted a “Petition to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives,” to include our statement on the psychological dangers of the president. It reads: “We are speaking out at this time because … as the time of possible impeachment approaches, Donald Trump has the real potential to become ever more dangerous, a threat to the safety of our nation.” We believe we have an ethical obligation to warn of the danger that Mr. Trump poses as the impeachment process proceeds and have offered ourselves for consultation.

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Mueller Report Redux: Bill Barr is about to undercut a report on the origins of the Trump-Kremlin investigation

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Here we go again. A respected Justice official has spent months in an investigation into possible wrongdoing at the start of what became the special counsel’s probe, only to have Atty. Gen. William P. Barr moving to counter the results even before they are published.

The official this time is the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, but according to news reports, Barr is maneuvering behind the scenes to counter central conclusions that there was nothing major amiss in the start of the investigation of all-things-Russia.

Yes, from the bits and pieces that have emerged, a lower-level lawyer changed an email after the fact to bolster a particular argument towards getting approval from the secret FISA investigatory court, but the report concludes that it did not alter the outcome. Overall, Horowitz is expected to say in the report, while one could question judgments made along the way by top brass at the FBI, the call to launch an investigation was totally kosher. In other words, no “witch hunt,” as charged by Donald Trump and his team of defenders.

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Who is the audience for the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing?

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What is the purpose and who is the audience for Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee Hearing? The Democrats must do better, for all our sakes.

I have long expressed my exasperation with the timid way in which the House Democratic leadership has only reluctantly moved toward impeachment, even in the face of the damning Mueller Report, and then has proceeded in the most narrow and legalistic way imaginable.

Trump is a very dangerous President, and it is imperative that he be called to account and ultimate removed for his abuses of office. The current crisis could be an opportunity for the Democrats to do this in a way that is legally and politically empowering. But the Democrats seem intent, yet again, on squandering this opportunity with their legalistic narrowness.

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