Clapper's election bombshell
James Clapper, former director of national intelligence and a lifelong serviceman and public servant, was an unlikely candidate to write a book about national secrets.
That's what makes his book — and its claim that Russia did swing the election to Donald Trump — such a bombshell.
Last week, in interviews on both MSNBC and PBS, Clapper expanded on the book.
In his "informed opinion," he said, "Given the massive effort the Russians made, and the number of citizens that they touched, and the variety and multi-dimensional aspects of what they did to influence opinion ... and given the fact that it turned on less than 80,000 votes in three states, to me it exceeds logic and credulity that they didn't affect the election. And it's my belief they actually turned it."
Wow. "It's my belief they actually turned it."
What does it mean? It makes Trump all the things he's always tried to project onto others — a liar, a "fake news maker" and an illegitimate president.
Trump projects a lot. He projects his own propensity to lie onto others when he mocks them as "lying Ted," for instance. He projects his own use of "alternative facts" onto the media when he talks about "fake news." And you might recall that with his false claim that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, he asserted our first black president was an illegitimate president. But the larger point is the understanding this provides.
The Washington Post put it this way Friday: "Even if you put aside whatever the Trump campaign did or didn't do to conspire with Russian sabotage, what's left is this obvious fact: Trump and his GOP allies don't want to know the full story of what Russia's operation entailed in and of itself, because it doesn't concern them in the least, and indeed they are engaged in an active effort to keep that story suppressed."
And no wonder. If Trump really wasn't elected by most Americans, neither was Pence.
We can't unring this bell. But what's really frightening is that neither the president nor our Congress has done anything to punish that foreign action or ward off more of it in the future.
Trump punts Nobel Peace Prize
Surprise! Donald Trump is a terrible negotiator. He messes up a negotiation before it even starts. Witness North Korea.
What part of a commemorative coin that gives Kim Jong Un a double chin makes for the start of happy talk?
Then there was the statement by national security adviser John Bolton that "the Libya model" is the one we should follow with North Korea. As Bolton knew full well, North Korean officials regularly bring up Moammar Gaddafi's experience, as well as that of Saddam Hussein, as the reason they should never give up their nuclear weapons. Gaddafi and Hussein gave up the quest for nuclear weapons and were later deposed and killed.
Further, in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Vice President Pence again repeated the threat that the United States would depose and kill Kim if an agreement were not reached.
Does anyone see why Kim would think talking to the Trump administration offered any daylight?
Guess Trump better order himself up another fake Time Magazine cover, because that's as close to a Nobel Peace Prize as he's likely to get.
Weinstein — the sequel
There was no red carpet in sight.
But there were handcuffs. And police — not starlets — held each arm of Harvey Weinstein as he turned himself in to New York City detectives and was arrested and charged Friday with raping one woman and forcing another to perform oral sex.
It took a very long time, but the #MeToo moment was sweet revenge.
Cameras clattered and reporters shouted questions, but this time the dethroned king of Hollywood had no script after decades of using his wealth and influence to buy or coerce silence from women. He was placed with no crown behind bars in a police holding cell.
About two hours later, Weinstein was escorted into a courtroom in Manhattan Criminal Court and arraigned on charges of first-degree rape, third-degree rape, and first-degree criminal sex act, according to law enforcement officials.
One commenter on The New York Times story of the movie mogul's arrest wrote: "Cosby, Weinstein, Trump: two down, one to go."
According to reports, the criminal sex act charge grew from an encounter with Lucia Evans, who told The New Yorker and later investigators from the Manhattan district attorney's office that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him during what she expected would be a casting meeting at the Miramax office in TriBeCa. The victim in the rape case was not publicly identified Friday.
Weinstein's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said Weinstein planned to enter a plea of not guilty if he is indicted. Weinstein must decide by Wednesday whether he will testify in front of the grand jury, which for months has been looking into other sexual assault allegations against him. The grand jury also has been looking at possible financial crimes relating to how he paid women to stay silent and reportedly used employees of his former company to identify women for him, set up meetings and discredit the women if they complained, sources told the Times.
As part of a bail package negotiated in advance, Weinstein put up $1 million in cash and agreed to wear a monitoring device. His travel is restricted and he was forced to surrender his passport.
Don't think this ends the Weinstein story — or the #MeToo movement.
Sure, it will probably be a movie. But it won't be Weinstein's.