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Morning Briefing: Trump Hits New Approval Lows, and Carter Page Is a Wreck of a Human Being

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 7, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 7, 2017 |

We’re going to bounce around this morning, because there are a lot of disparate topics to cover. For NateMan, however, we’ll start here with Carter Page, who testified in front of Congress for nearly 7 hours last week, and his 250-page transcript was made available last night. I’m not going to pull a lot of excerpts. Here’s a fairly decent summation of Page’s testimony:



In short, here’s what we learned: Carter Page, as we all know, traveled to Russia last July. He told several people in the campaign, including Jeff Sessions, Corey Lewandowski, and Hope Hicks (for a low-level unpaid campaign volunteer, he sure had access to a lot of higher ups in the campaign!). He met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. He kept the Trump campaign informed about his other Russian contacts, including senior government officials. He sought input from the campaign about the speech he gave. He provided a transcript of that speech he gave to the campaign. He even offered Trump the opportunity to speak in his place.

Also, in an email to six Trump campaign advisors, Carter Page wrote, “As for the Ukraine amendment, excellent work,” which suggests that the controversial Amendment to the RNC platform was made on behalf of his efforts with Russia. Some of his testimony also seemed to confirm parts of the Steele dossier.

Based on that testimony, it sure as hell looks like Carter Page was a fairly big deal on the campaign, that he coordinated his trip with the campaign, that he met with Russian officials, and at the very least, the Trump campaign was aware of it, and perhaps even changed the RNC platform as a result of Carter Page’s efforts.


— Moving on: Our own Professor Wilson has been highlighting one particular element of the new tax bill that would completely fuck the American higher education system, particularly PhDs. As many of you are aware, PhD students receive free tuition in addition to stipends. The tuition, heretofore, has been tax free, so if a student earns a $30,000 stipend for the year, she or he only has to pay taxes on that amount. Taxes on a $30,000 stipend would come out to roughly $3,000-ish. Under the new tax plan, tuition WOULD ALSO be taxed, meaning that PhD students would have to pay taxes on the $30,000 stipend AND the $50,000 tuition. As a result, that PhD student — who only earns $30,000 a year in actual dollars — would have to pay taxes on all $80,000, meaning a $10,000 tax bill, or one-third of their already meager income. With the exception of independently wealthy folks, PhD programs would essentially be foreclosed to most people, which may be the exact purpose of this clause in the tax law.

That is messed up. This is actually terrifying — it would kill research and development in the United States for years to come.

— Anthony Weiner reports to prison today to serve his 21-month sentence for sending dick pics to a 15-year-old. He has spent the last few days with his father, apparently the only person remaining who will speak to him.

— EVEN Syria joined the Paris Accord today, leaving only ONE country opposed to it: The United States. I mean, think of it: All these countries, many with terrible dictators, fascists, and warlords, who are still concerned enough about the future of our planet to join this global pact. Everyone except Donald Trump and the United States. Unbelievable.

— A reporter asked Trump this morning if he’d support extreme vetting for gun buyers. Here was his infuriating answer:

Trump says that “hundreds more” would have died in Texas if there were stricter gun control laws, which is total bullshit. I’ll just say this: The guy who shot the Texas gunman? He had a rifle. He almost certainly could have passed a stringent background check. No one is trying to keep hunting rifles away from men like him. We’re trying to keep AR-15’s away from, well, everyone, but especially people who have a history of spousal abuse or who have been kicked out of the military for bad conduct.

— Ewwwwww.


— It’s so bizarre right now, to me, we do live in a country where unemployment is very low, where the economy is doing very well (and more people that ever have healthcare) — benchmarks in most years for quality of life — and yet most Americans believe we are at the lowest point in U.S. history. I mean, lookit: We’re not. Things are bad right now, but slavery has been outlawed, women can vote, and we’re not sending hundreds of thousands of people to die in wars. People aren’t dying of polio or tuberculosis or AIDS! It’s a testament to how bad Donald Trump truly is that, even during relatively good economic conditions, Americans believe we’re at our lowest point ever.

That said, who looks at polls like this and thinks, “36 percent? That is still way too high.”

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.