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The White House is Melting Down, Pointing Fingers at Each Other

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | July 12, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | July 12, 2017 |

I don’t even know where to start this morning, but how about here:

First of all, everything that’s been reported about the meeting between Don Jr., Kushner, and Manafort, and the Russian has been confirmed by the email. No one inside the White House has denied any of the reporting about that meeting. Don Jr. did downplay the significance of the meeting on Hannity last night, but there’s no made up sources here. However, there is a leak, or many leaks inside the White House.

That, in fact, is what is consuming the White House at the moment. Multiple outlet have reported that everyone is pointing fingers. Everyone is suspicious. Nobody knows who is ratting out whom. We do, however, know that the White House helped to draft Don Jr.’s statement last Saturday and that Trump signed off on it, only to have the lie blow up in their faces a couple of days later.

We also know that Trump is fuming about his long-time lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, and that the feeling is mutual. There’s some speculation that Kasowitz may resign, and there are yet more leaks suggesting that Kasowitz doesn’t like Kushner, who is whispering in Trump’s ear in an effort not to save the Presidency, but to save himself. (Side note: Kasowitz hasn’t even applied for security clearance, because he knows he won’t get it because of a history of problems with alcohol, and that after a stint in rehab, he’s drinking again. Apparently, he also has a history of making his co-workers uncomfortable. Could he be the source?)

Kushner, by the way, is in a shit ton of trouble, as the only person currently in the White House who was part of that meeting with the Russian lawyer. It’s yet another meeting with Russians that he failed to disclose, and when the media gets tired of beating up on the dumb son, they’re going to turn to the dumb son-in-law. Kushner knows it, so he’s trying to protect himself. Apparently, he thinks if he can just solve Middle East peace, then all will be forgiven.

Things, however, may get rockier for Kushner, because the campaign’s digital operation is now coming under scrutiny:

Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation - overseen by Jared Kushner - helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states - areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

If any of that bears fruit, that’s the ball game.

The fact that Kushner is on the hot seat has many speculating that the leak inside the White House is Stephen Bannon, who is no friend of Kushner. Joe Scarborough — who quit the Republican party today — is advancing this particular theory as a way to push Kushner out. I’m not convinced, because this does a lot more damage than simply push out Kushner; it cripples Trump’s presidency. But then again, Bannon just wants to watch the world burn, so this very well could be his work.

We do know that this email may have originated with Kushner’s legal team, who found it doing document review. Maybe it was someone within Kushner’s legal team who leaked it. Or maybe Sean Spicer or Reince Preibus or one of Trump’s lackeys who is sick and tired of being thrown under the bus decided to seek revenge. What we do know is that everything that’s coming out about this scandal is coming from someone close to the President, and none of these people seem to like each other very much (and there’s yet another round of speculation suggesting that Preibus may be ousted, and that it’s what Melania wants).

Sources also say that Kushner has lost his swagger, and that he and his team are worried about the three meetings he held and failed to disclose before applying for his security clearance. There is even a tiny bit of speculation that Kushner and Ivanka may leave by the fall.

Meanwhile, Trump — whom we haven’t seen since Saturday, and who is apparently inside the White House fuming and raging at advisors and the media (his latest tweet notwithstanding). However, he is not blaming his son, whom he is defending on Twitter this a.m. — and as Glenn Thrush points out, defending his son keeps the media from asking how much Trump knew.

Trump, meanwhile, has almost no allies left aside from Sean Hannity. His relationship with Congressional Republicans has changed. They’re not exactly calling for Trump’s head, but they’re no longer defending him. I saw Trey Gowdy — once an ardent Trump defender — raging at the White House for this mess yesterday. Aside from a white supremacist like Steve King, the Republicans are not going along with Don Jr.’s “It was no big deal” defense. This is a big deal.

My favorite theory on the leaks, however, suggests that all of this is coming from Putin himself, who is trying to put the fear of God into Trump. There’s some interesting evidence for that, and the conclusion that these guys provide is compelling, although it’s probably bullshit:

While it might be tempting to imagine the President is suddenly a target of the same Russian machine that he thought was an ace up his sleeve, this appears more like a warning shot. As we have explained before, the President has often believed he can manipulate Putin and has attempted to straddle both sides of the fence. Even while placating Russian interests the President has often insisted, with full sincerity, that he will be able to utilize Putin to achieve the President’s own goals. These lofty ambitions have included such foolish beliefs that the President could convince Putin to essentially change loyalties against Syria, and to become involved in pressuring North Korea to halt their weapons program. And while Secretary Tillerson has been tight lipped about the recent G20 meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin we know understand that he feels President Trump’s performance was a somewhat embarrassing mix between clumsy attempts at peacocking and obtusely misreading Putin’s refined reserve as weakness. It appears that an unimpressed Putin is sending a signal about who’s in charge. Comply, or be destroyed.
This is probably not over yet, either, because on Hannity, Trump Jr. admitted that yes, he “probably met with other people from Russia.”

Finally, the second best Chris certainly has thoughts:

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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.