McCain’s funeral ‘a council of war’

Charles Pierce at Esquire: John McCain’s Funeral Was a Council of War—Just as He Meant It to Be

We let the customs, manners, norms and institutions weaken through neglect and now we are in open conflict with an elected president and, make no mistake about it, John McCain’s funeral was a council of war, and it was a council of war because that’s what John McCain meant it to be.

He deliberately made known to people that the president* was not welcome at any of the services. He deliberately chose the previous two presidents to deliver the formal eulogies. He deliberately created that scene in the Capitol rotunda at which Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Mike Pence, an unholy trio of Trumpist quislings, had to choke down their own cowardice and say how much they loved him and his irascibility. He deliberately created a mirror in which, if they still have an ounce of self-awareness, they could see the rot that has set in on their souls.

Even at the end, John McCain knew what he was doing and he was a fearsome opponent. He wanted a pageant of everything this administration* has trashed and put up for sale, and that’s what he got Saturday—a morality play shot through with Shakespearian portent and foreshadowing, a pageant of democracy’s vengeance.

Meghan McCain:

We gather to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice, those that live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served. He was a great fire who burned bright.

In the past few days, my family and I have heard from so many of those Americans who stood in the warmth and light of his fire and found it illuminated what’s best about them. We are grateful to them because they’re grateful to him.

A few have resented that fire for the light it cast upon them for the truth it revealed about their character, but my father never cared what they thought and even that small number still have the opportunity as long as they draw breath to live up to the example of John McCain.

The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.

George W. Bush:

Perhaps above all John detested the abuse of power, could not abide bigots and swaggering. He spoke up for the little guy, forgotten people in forgotten places. One friend from naval academy days recalls John reacted to seeing an upperclassman verbally abuse a steward. Against all tradition, he told the jerk to pick on someone his own size. It was a familiar refrain during the six decades of service.

Barack Obama:

John cared about the institutions of self-government, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, rule of law, separation of powers, even the arcane rules and procedures of the Senate. He knew that in a nation as big and boisterous and diverse as ours, those institutions, those rules, those norms are what bind us together. They give shape and order to our common life, even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree.

Donald Trump:

Tributes for McCain, tribulations for Trump

There have been many tributes for John McCain, from across the political spectrum in the US to around the world. He was widely respected person and politician.

Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.): John McCain Was a Legend Even Before He Was a War Hero. His Legacy Is Vital in Today’s World

All of that matters in understanding the man. But what is most important to me about John McCain — more than every other aspect of his long and eventful life — is how well he represented the seemingly forgotten center in American politics. We are so bitterly polarized today, but McCain could credibly reach out to both the left and the right. He could see both east and west, but he resolutely followed his own compass to true north. There are precious few in the American body politic who could claim that so truly as John McCain, and we are poorer for his passing in that regard above all else.

He is being accorded high honours:  John McCain to lie in state at U.S. Capitol, an honor bestowed on only 30 other people

Sen. John McCain will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on Friday, a rare honor bestowed on only 31 people in 166 years.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the decision of congressional leaders from both parties Sunday, calling McCain “a great American patriot, a statesman who put his country first and enriched this institution through many years of service.”

The last person to lie in state at the Capitol was Sen. Daniel Inouye, president pro tem of the Senate, who died in office in December 2012. Others have included 11 U.S. presidents dating to Abraham Lincoln, including four who were assassinated; two vice presidents; six other members of Congress; three military leaders; and the unknown soldiers from World Wars I and II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

However McCain had a rock relationship with President Donald Trump, and that was bound to come up.

Guardian: Trump-McCain rift clear as president sends brief tweet and heads to play golf

The rift between Donald Trump and John McCain remained painfully evident on Sunday, as tributes for the late senator poured in from world leaders and past presidents.

The White House issued no statement and Trump followed up a brief Twitter condolence to McCain’s family – sent amid the first rush of tributes on Saturday – with complaints about the Russia investigation and boasts about the economy. Then he headed for the golf course.

McCain’s wish that Trump not receive an invitation to his funeral, made public some months ago, remained unchanged upon his death from brain cancer on Saturday, at his home in Arizona and with his family by his side.

Instead, George W Bush, who beat McCain for the Republican nomination in 2000, and Barack Obama, who beat him soundly for the White House in 2008, have been asked to speak at the event, which will take place at the United States Naval Academy in Maryland on a day as yet unannounced.

In a statement on Saturday, Obama saluted McCain’s “fidelity to something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed”.

Bush praised a “man of deep conviction” and a “public servant in the finest traditions of our country”.

News Corp (Australia): Donald Trump slammed for ‘narcissistic’ tribute to Senator John McCain

DONALD Trump has been hung out to dry by furious social media users over his “narcissistic” and “fake” condolences in response to the tragic passing of US Republican Senator John McCain.

Taking to Instagram to express his sympathy to the grieving family of Senator McCain, who died overnight at 81 years old after a battle with brain cancer, the US President wrote: “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”

But the message lost any good intention when Mr Trump accompanied it with a photo of himself.

Next to the words, the President featured a full-length photo of himself looking pensively into the distance — and people are disgusted.

McCain’s death was always going to be a difficult thing for Trump to deal with.

That doesn’t sound flash but will be to do with complying with McCain’s wishes – one of the United States most respected politicians didn’t want trump at his funeral.

This is even more awkward now that McCain will lie in state.

White House versus John McCain

Reuters: McCain’s daughter slams White House aide’s ‘he’s dying’ comments

Meghan McCain on Friday questioned how the White House aide who disparaged her ailing father, Republican U.S. Senator John McCain, during a meeting, still has a job.

Kelly Sadler, a White House communications aide, dismissed Senator McCain’s objection to President Donald Trump’s nominee to be CIA director, Gina Haspel, by saying that it “doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” a source familiar with the closed White House meeting told Reuters.

Speaking on the ABC show “The View,” which she co-hosts, Meghan McCain said she wanted to inform Sadler that her father’s battle with brain cancer has made her realize the meaning of life was “not how you die, it is how you live.”

“I don’t understand what kind of environment you’re working in when that would be acceptable, and then you can come to work the next day and still have a job,” McCain said.

Several of McCain’s fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill have condemned Sadler’s remarks.

Jeff Flake, Arizona’s other senator and a frequent critic of the White House under Trump, tweeted an article about the comments and wrote: “There are no words.”

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst tweeted that the United States should “treat this war hero and his family with the civility and respect they deserve.”

Sadler’s comments were reported the same day that a guest on Fox Business Network, retired Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney, suggested McCain divulged critical information to the North Vietnamese after being tortured.

 A network spokesperson said McInerney would no longer be invited on the Fox Business Network or Fox News.

The Hill: White House official calls Meghan McCain to apologize for remark about father

A White House official called Meghan McCain on Thursday to apologize after she mocked Sen. John McCain’s  cancer diagnosis during a meeting earlier in the day, a source told The Hill.

In a statement, the White House did not deny that Sadler made the remarks, which came amid a discussion of Haspel’s nomination to lead the CIA and McCain’s opposition to it.

“We respect Sen. McCain’s service to our nation, and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time,” the White House said.

“People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened yesterday.

John McCain is a genuine hero – a man of valor whose sacrifices for his country are immeasurable. As he fights for his life, he deserves better – so much better. Given this White House’s trail of disrespect towards John and others, this staffer is not an exception to the rule, she is the epitome of it.

Ours children learn from out example. The lingering question is whose example will it be. I am certain it will be John’s.”

– Joe Biden

This may seem like a storm in a swamp, but it is in a context of disrespectful president who has attacked many people. This is Donald Trump speaking about McCain during the presidential campaign:

“I supported him for president. I raised a million dollars for him, that’s a lot of money. I supported him, he lost, he let us down, but you know he lost and i never liked him as much after that cause i don’t like losers.

But…he’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero ’cause he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured ok I hate to tell you.

More recent context: Hatch Apologizes to McCain for Suggesting Trump Should Attend His Funeral

The New York Timeshad reported over the weekend that the ailing McCain has specifically said that he does not want Trump to come to his funeral, preferring Vice-President Pence to attend instead. This makes complete sense, considering that Trump has ridiculed McCain both for his service in Vietnam (“I prefer war heroes who weren’t captured”) and his legislative record, with McCain returning fire.

Utah senator Orrin Hatch apologized to John McCain on Tuesday after suggesting on Monday that the ailing senator should invite President Trump to his funeral, even though McCain has made it clear that he doesn’t want Trump there.

Hatch said on Monday that McCain’s wish for a Trump-free ceremony was “ridiculous,” drawing the ire of Meghan McCain.

“I’d like everybody to take a collective breath and chill out on my dad for a second — especially Orrin Hatch,” McCain said on The View, which she co-hosts.

Hatch then had a change of heart.

“I agree with the daughter,” Hatch told the Washington Post on Tuesday, in a strange turn of phrase. “I shouldn’t have said anything yesterday. I agree a hundred percent with her.” The Post reported that Hatch had also sent McCain a letter expressing his regrets.

A shit fight over a dying Senator does nothing to enhance an awful image of US politics.

An once this shows how much one small remark can impact on both the news cycle and on one person’s reputation and potentially her career.

Remarkably, torture is still being debated in the US

Fox News panel says torture while Gina Haspel was in the CIA was no big deal

‘Fox & Friends’ Host Brian Kilmeade Says Gina Haspel Should Be ‘Proud’ Of Torture Record

″Thirty-two-year career … and I think she should double-down and say, ‘I’m proud of what I accomplished ― whether it was black sites’ enhanced interrogation ― and I dare anyone to sit in my shoes and accomplish as much as I’ve done,’” co-host Brian Kilmeade said.

“Just keep in mind, whatever she did when she was in power at that point, she was doing it as a directive and it was all within the law,” co-host Steve Doocy added.

John McCain should know as well as anyone about the use of torture.

GERMANY: CIA DEPUTY GINA HASPEL MUST FACE ARREST ON TRAVELLING TO EUROPE

ECCHR’s legal intervention filed with the German Federal Public Prosecutor (Generalbundesanwalt – GBA) is aimed at securing an arrest warrant for CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel.

The information submitted to the GBA by ECCHR on 6 June 2017 documents Haspel’s role in the torture of detainees in 2002 at a secret CIA prison in Thailand. In the dossier, ECCHR argues that Haspel oversaw the torture of detainees at the black site in 2002 and failed to do anything to stop it.

 

 

Trump says CIA pick Haspel ‘under fire because she was too tough on terror’

On Friday, as White House officials prepared Haspel for a confirmation hearing on Wednesday, aides sought additional details about her involvement in the CIA’s now-defunct program of detaining and brutally interrogating terror suspects after 9/11, a program that involved techniques widely condemned as torture.

Donald Trump has expressed support for his nominee to lead the CIA, who offered to withdraw amid concerns that a debate over the past use of interrogation techniques now classified as torture would tarnish her reputation and that of the agency.

Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, on Sunday called Haspel a highly qualified nominee. “Her nomination will not be derailed by partisan critics who side with the ACLU over the CIA on how to keep the American people safe,” he said.

 

Donald Trump defends his pick to run the CIA, Gina Haspel, after she offers to withdraw over ‘torture’ role

Mr Trump has previously indicated his support for waterboarding terror suspects, a practice which was introduced by President George W Bush and ceased over a decade ago.

Mr Bush authorised the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Programme after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Mr Trump’s longstanding support for the deputy director has led to speculation that he may be considering a reintroduction of waterboarding.

January 2017: Donald Trump says he believes waterboarding works

US President Donald Trump has said he believes waterboarding works, stating “we have to fight fire with fire”.

“When they’re shooting, when they’re chopping off the heads of our people and other people, when they’re chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, when Isis (IS) is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since Medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding?”

“I have spoken with people at the highest level of intelligence and I asked them the question ‘Does it work? Does torture work?’ and the answer was ‘Yes, absolutely’.

In his election campaign, Mr Trump had said he might order troops to carry out waterboarding “and tougher” methods on terrorism suspects, although the next day he said he would not order the military to break international law.

But Mr Trump also said he would consult Defence Secretary James Mattis and CIA director Mike Pompeo and “if they don’t want to do it that’s fine”.

They have both indicated opposition to reintroducing the interrogation method, widely considered a form of torture.

US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, questioned on the waterboarding remarks at a news conference on Thursday, reiterated that torture was illegal.

And as usual Trump has been having his say:

However yesterday Haspel: Torture doesn’t work

President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee said Wednesday at her confirmation hearing that she doesn’t believe torture works as an interrogation technique and that her “strong moral compass” would prevent her from carrying out any presidential order she found objectionable.

Under questioning by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, acting CIA Director Gina Haspel said she would not permit the spy agency to restart the kind of harsh detention and interrogation program it ran at black sites after Sept. 11. It was one of the darkest chapters of the CIA’s history and tainted America’s image worldwide.

Senators asked how she would respond if Trump — who has said he supports harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse” — ordered her to do something she found morally objectionable.

“I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal,” said Haspel, a 33-year veteran of the agency. “I would absolutely not permit it.”

When asked if she agrees with the president’s assertion that torture works, Haspel said: “I don’t believe that torture works.”

Could she stand up to Trump?

 

“Trump is becoming a failed president”

Donald Trump has been struggling to score any significant policy wins, he gets bogged down with petty squabbles, and there seems to be growing disagreements and splits amongst the Republican Party.

I think it’s too soon to judge his presidency, a major policy win or a war could turn things around quite quickly, but in the absence of substance beyond his at times extreme rhetoric there is growing commentary about his failures, and speculation about his failure as a president.

Juan Williams: Trump is becoming a failed president

 

A Morning Consult poll released last week found Trump losing support in states he easily carried last year. He is down 23 points in Tennessee since his inauguration in January, down 21 points in Mississippi, down 20 in Kentucky, down 19 in Kansas and down 17 in Indiana.

Overall, 55 percent of the country disapproves of the job he is doing as president, according the most recent RealClearPolitics average. At the three-quarter mark of his first year in office, Trump is the least popular new president in history.

On Capitol Hill, House and Senate Republicans are also walking away from Trump.

In part, this is due to his attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Then there are the threats to incumbent Republicans from Stephen Bannon, formerly Trump’s chief strategist.

Bannon said last week he plans to challenge incumbent Republican senators in seven states, including Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Mississippi’s Roger Wicker, Nebraska’s Deb Fischer, Nevada’s Dean Heller and Wyoming’s John Barrasso.

“Creating a civil war inside the Republican Party may feel good, but I think as a strategy, it is stunningly stupid,” former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said of Bannon’s plan.

That looks like team Trump in disarray.

One Republican who has always doubted Trump’s credentials (and has been attacked by Trump) is Senator John McCain.

McCain, in speech, denounces ‘spurious nationalism’

…his speech was one of warning, and seemed very much directed at the leadership approach of President Donald Trump and his supporters.

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”

Trump has been having spats with various sports people. One respected coach has responded.

The Nation:  ‘A Soulless Coward’: Coach Gregg Popovich Responds to Trump

We’ve all seen the San Antonio Spurs’ future Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich in a state of exasperation on the sidelines, or in postgame news conferences. Many of us have also heard him speak with great vexation and clarity about the direction of this country and the actions of Donald Trump, particularly on Trump’s “disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic.” But I have never heard this man more frustrated, more fed up, and more tense with anger than he was today.

Coach Pop called me up after hearing the president’s remarks explaining why he hadn’t mentioned the four US soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger. Trump said, “President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.”

Maybe it was the bald-faced nature of this lie, maybe it was Pop’s own history in the military, but the coach clearly had to vent. He said, “I want to say something, and please just let me talk, and please make sure this is on the record.”

This is Popovich  on the record.

“I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this president had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families are so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.”

“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets.

“We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day.

“The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

I think that the last comment about those who work with the president is in part at least unfair. I think that some of those working with and for Trump have the interests of the country at heart and are trying their best to cover for the inadequacies and irrationality of Trump.

They are trying to control Trump and limit the damage he does – and especially, they will be aware of the damage trump could do if he runs amok with the US nuclear arsenal (I think they have about 9,000 nukes).

But outside the White House Trump remains unpopular, and there are growing concerns being expressed about his fitness to remain as president.

Unfortunately Trump has said a lot of stupid and unhelpful and unpresidential things, but he hasn’t done anything (that we know of) that is troubling enough to demand he steps down.

It’s possible Trump may get what is required of being president, but there is little sign of his current obnoxiousness and incompetence being turned around.

We – not just the US but the world – may have to wait until Trump does something bad enough to step him over the line, and others step in to put a stop to him.

That is if the US or the world is in a state to do anything then.

 

KGB agent linked to Trump dossier dead

Intriguing news – a KGB agent linked to the dossier compiled on Donald Trump is reported to have died in suspicious circumstances.

The Telegraph: Mystery death of ex-KGB chief linked to MI6 spy’s dossier on Donald Trump

An ex-KGB chief suspected of helping the former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to compile his dossier on Donald Trump may have been murdered by the Kremlin and his death covered up. it has been claimed.

Oleg Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and its successor the FSB, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day in mysterious circumstances.

Erovinkin was a key aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister and now head of Rosneft, the state-owned oil company, who is repeatedly named in the dossier.

Erovinkin has been described as a key liaison between Sechin and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Mr Steele writes in an intelligence report dated July 19, 2016, he has a source close to Sechin, who had disclosed alleged links between Mr Trump’s supporters and Moscow.

The death of Erovinkin has prompted speculation it is linked to Mr Steele’s explosive dossier, which was made public earlier this month.

The Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Erovinkin’s body was “found in a black Lexus… [and] a large-scale investigation has been commenced in the area. Erovinkin’s body was sent to the FSB morgue”.

No cause of death has been confirmed and the FSB continues to investigate. Media reports suggested his death was a result of foul play.

This is the Russia that Trump thinks he can get along with well.

From an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News on Friday (as reported by Russian news service RT in Trump hopes to get along with Russia, ‘knock the hell out of ISIS together’:

“He called me after I won, but I haven’t had a discussion, but I understand we will be having a discussion soon.”

“I don’t know Putin, but if we can get along with Russia that’s a great thing, it’s good for Russia, it’s good for us, we go out together and knock the hell out of ISIS, because that’s a real sickness.”

“If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?”

“I understand that they would like to meet, and that’s absolutely fine with me.”

Trump should meet with Putin, and the US should get along with Russia as well as they can.

And they should also treat Putin and Russia with a lot of caution. As are a couple of Republican senators.

Politico: Republicans warn Trump against lifting Russia sanctions

Two Republican senators on Friday warned President Donald Trump not to unilaterally ease sanctions against Russia — reminding him there’s bipartisan support for blocking such a move.

Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain and Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman urged Trump to rule out any rollback of punitive measures against Moscow hours after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said lifting administration sanctions against Moscow is “under consideration.” The latest round of sanctions were imposed in response to U.S. intelligence officials’ conclusion that Russia interfered in the presidential election on Trump’s behalf.

“For the sake of America’s national security and that of our allies, I hope President Trump will put an end to this speculation” about easing sanctions, McCain said in a statement, “and reject such a reckless course. If he does not, I will work with my colleagues to codify sanctions against Russia into law.”

Portman urged fellow senators to “take pro-active steps” by converting administration sanctions into law, saying he is “deeply concerned” by reports that Trump may be preparing to ease U.S. financial restrictions on targeted Russian individuals and groups.

“To lift the sanctions on Russia for any reason other than a change in the behavior that led to those sanctions in the first place would send a dangerous message to a world already questioning the value of American leadership and the credibility of our commitments after eight years of Obama administration policies,” the Ohioan said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also urged Trump to preserve existing sanctions against Russia, the former in an interview with POLITICO and the latter at a POLITICO-sponsored event.

Russia versus America goes back a long way. It is not something Trump will be able to change with a big black signature on an executive order.

Bizarre Trump-Russia-Assange situation

President-elect Donald trump is in a bizarre situation, appearing to support (via Twitter) Russia, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange and appearing to ridicule the US intelligence community.  Some believe this is at least in part an attempt by Trump to try and legitimise his election victory.

Amongst others Republican senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain have expressed concerns, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appears to have rebuked Trump.

Politico: Trump sides with Assange, Russia over U.S. intelligence

Ahead of his briefing on allegations of Russia election-season hacking, Trump mocks the intelligence community.

President-elect Donald Trump is freshly questioning U.S. intelligence assessments of election-season hacking, appearing to side instead with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Russia in comments that are rattling the American spy world as well as many of his fellow Republicans.

The billionaire real estate mogul late Tuesday and early Wednesday used Twitter to once again cast doubt on intelligence community deductions that Russian government-affiliated entities tried to tip November’s election in Trump’s favor.

In one tweet, Trump expressed suspicion about a supposed delay in an intelligence briefing he was due to receive about the suspected Russian interference.

“The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!” Trump tweeted.

A U.S. official immediately fired back, insisting the briefing had always been set for Friday.

In a separate tweet, Trump noted that Assange has “said Russians did not give him” leaked emails from the DNC and other prominent U.S. political leaders. Trump also pointed out that Assange, who is holed up in Ecuador’s Embassy in London to avoid sex assault charges in Sweden, said “a 14 year old” could have been the hacker. It was a remarkable vote of confidence in Assange considering that Trump, according to newly uncovered material by CNN, called WikiLeaks “disgraceful” in 2010 and suggested its actions should face the “death penalty or something.”

Trump is deeply averse to the notion that his victory on Nov. 8 was tainted.

He appears to be putting his own ego ahead of his country’s intelligence agencies. Cross party criticism is growing.

Politico: Democrats, intel chief lament Trump’s ‘disparagement’ of spies

Minority members on the Senate Armed Services Committee turned Congress’ first hearing on Russia’s alleged election hacks into a platform to strike at the billionaire businessman and try to drive a wedge between him and GOP leadership — with even South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham joining in the criticism.

Even Director of National Intelligence James Clapper seemed to implicitly rebuke Trump’s ongoing refusal to believe the government’s assessment that senior Moscow officials orchestrated a cyber campaign that roiled the Democratic Party in last year’s election.

“I think there’s a difference between skepticism and disparagement,” said Clapper, who leaves office on Jan. 20, in response to McCaskill’s speech.

Later, Clapper — who strongly defended the government’s assessment that Moscow directed the election-season hacks — told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) that Trump’s rhetoric about intelligence agencies is alarming American allies.

“I do think that public trust and confidence in the intelligence community is crucial,” he said. “And I’ve received many expressions of concern from foreign counterparts about, you know, the disparagement of the U.S. intelligence community, or I should say what has been interpreted as disparagement of the intelligence community.”

Trump has repeatedly accused the intelligence officials hawking false narratives in an attempt to undermine his incoming administration. Most recently, Trump cited as evidence WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s repeated insistence that his organization did not receive the emails from the Russian government.

Clapper and NSA chief Adm. Michael Rogers also denounced Assange at Thursday’s hearing, when McCain asked if “any credibility” should be “attached to this individual,” given WikiLeaks’ record of leaking materials that put U.S. lives “in direct danger.”

“Not in my view,” Clapper replied.

“I’d second those comments,” Rogers answered.

Graham later crossed the aisle to join the Democrats in their condemnation, addressing his remarks directly to Trump.

“What I don’t want you to do is undermine those who are serving our nation in this area until you’re absolutely certain they need to be undermined,” Graham said.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) insisted that he trusted Clapper and the intelligence community to carry out the election-season hacking review and brief lawmakers on its findings.

Senior Republicans concerned at Trump’s siding with Russia and Assange, and supporting their own intelligence.

And it appears that there are differences over Russia in the team Trump is putting together.

Politico: Trump’s team tries to stifle rift on Russia

A war is brewing among Donald Trump’s advisers over how to deal with Russia and Vladimir Putin — and his team is trying to keep it from breaking out into the open.

As the president-elect’s top national security picks prepare to testify before Congress starting next week, his transition team is plotting ways to prevent a public spectacle that airs their most wildly divergent assessments of the threat Russia poses, according to two members of the Trump camp directly involved in the deliberations.

A war is brewing among Donald Trump’s advisers over how to deal with Russia and Vladimir Putin — and his team is trying to keep it from breaking out into the open.

As the president-elect’s top national security picks prepare to testify before Congress starting next week, his transition team is plotting ways to prevent a public spectacle that airs their most wildly divergent assessments of the threat Russia poses, according to two members of the Trump camp directly involved in the deliberations.

And Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), tapped to head the CIA, has said the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014 has been “far too weak.”

I wonder how quickly Trump will learn that owning and running a company is much different than being President.

McCain versus Trump

There’s been a lack of rapport between ex-presidential candidate John McCain and current aspirant Donald Trump.

Trump is claiming victimhood over criticisms of him by parents of a dead US soldier, Khizr and Ghazala Khan.

Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same – Nice!

But McCain has slammed Trump.

New York Times: John McCain Denounces Donald Trump’s Comments on Family of Muslim Soldier

In a remarkable and lengthy rebuke of his party’s nominee, Senator John McCain sharply criticized Donald J. Trump’s comments about the family of a fallen Muslim Army captain, saying, “While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”

Mr. McCain, a war hero whose service and capture in Vietnam was also once derided by Mr. Trump, had stayed largely silent over the weekend as Mr. Trump’s feud with the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan brewed, waiting until Monday morning to release a prepared statement.

“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents,” he wrote of the parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan. “He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers or candidates.”

 Reverence for the military has been at the core of Mr. McCain’s career — he was his party’s nominee in 2008 and serves as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee — and he has a close allegiance to families of those killed in conflict.

McCain wrote:

“Make no mistake: I do not valorize our military out of some unfamiliar instinct I grew up in a military family, and have my own record of service, and have stayed closely engaged with our armed forces throughout my public career. In the American system, the military has value only inasmuch as it protects and defends the liberties of the people.”

“In the end, I am morally bound to speak only to the things that command my allegiance, and to which I have dedicated my life’s work: the Republican Party, and more important, the United States of America.

“I will not refrain from doing my utmost by those lights simply because it may benefit others with whom I disagree. I claim no moral superiority over Donald Trump.

“I have a long and well-known public and private record for which I will have to answer at the Final Judgment, and I repose my hope in the promise of mercy and the moderation of age. I challenge the nominee to set the example for what our country can and should represent.”

McCain’s family has also been critical of Trump. His daughter Meghan McCain said on Twitter on Saturday: “I would ask what kind of barbarian would attack the parents of a fallen soldier, but oh yeah it’s the same person who attacks POW’s.”

McCain’s granddaughter Caroline: “For this Republican, Never Trump means ‘I’m With Her,’ and she said Mr. Trump “lacks the temperament and the wisdom to navigate our ever-increasingly dangerous world. Policy decisions aside, being president of the United States requires a steady hand — and never more so than now. A competent commander-in-chief must respond to threats to the republic, but Trump only responds to threats to his ego.”

Trump and McCain have clashed before when Trump mocked McCain’s service in Vietnam and his time as a prisoner of war.