Quick Takes: Communication Between Trump’s Team and Moscow Intercepted

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* The must-read of the day is Jane Mayer’s in-depth story about Christopher Steele, the author of the now-infamous dossier. This is an important piece at a time when Trump and the entire right wing media machine are doing everything they can to discredit both the man and the intelligence report he produced. The narrative they have created is completely at odds with the facts.

But as Kevin Drum points out, there is a paragraph in the piece about something that happened in August 2016 that might qualify as the most important news of the day:

According to an article by the Washington Post, that month the C.I.A. sent what the paper described as “an intelligence bombshell” to President Obama, warning him that Putin was directly involved in a Russian cyber campaign aimed at disrupting the Presidential election—and helping Trump win. Robert Hannigan, then the head of the U.K.’s intelligence service the G.C.H.Q., had recently flown to Washington and briefed the C.I.A.’s director, John Brennan, on a stream of illicit communications between Trump’s team and Moscow that had been intercepted. (The content of these intercepts has not become public.)

Whoah! When we refer to all of the things Mueller knows that we haven’t heard about yet, that is an example of the kinds bombshells that are waiting to explode.

* Another big news item today started with this report in the Washington Post:

Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg said Monday that he has been subpoenaed to appear in front of a federal grand jury investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election but that he will refuse to go.

Nurnberg followed that up with quite the outburst during a lengthy interview with Katy Tur.

Josh Marshall weighs in with a post titled, “Four Alarm Fire in Trumpland?”

You can plead the 5th amendment. But you can’t just not show up. You also can’t refuse to produce emails based on the 5th amendment, except under quite limited circumstances. And Nunberg long predates the presidency so there’s zero executive privilege claims.

Nunberg then went on MSNBC and gave what I would call a emotional, sometimes defiant interview in which he repeated his refusal, dared Mueller to arrest him and said that he had heard things from the Mueller investigators that made him think President Trump ‘may have done something during the election.’

* This news isn’t terribly surprising, but it does mean yet another special election.

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran announced Monday he is resigning effective April 1 because of health reasons, ending one of the longest and most storied political careers in Mississippi history.

* Republicans are finally ready to fight back against Trump…on tariffs.

Congressional Republicans are maneuvering to stop President Trump from levying harsh tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, arguing that the move runs counter to the core of their economic agenda and could even cause political problems heading into the 2018 midterms.

“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), said in a statement Monday. “The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”

* Here’s how the president will justify his coming flip-flop on tariffs:

* Finally, here’s the best of those so-called “Hollywood elitists.”

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.