March 2, 2017: Sessions the Victim | Ingraham Grills Pence | Oprah v. Trump 2020

1. Sessions the Victim

Last night, The Washington Post broke the news that, according to Justice Department sources, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke twice with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, when he was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee last year. Sessions, a key Trump supporter during the campaign, had denied during his confirmation hearing that he had had any contact with the Russians.

The Post wrote: “One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S.presidential race.” The House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi followed up with a call for Sessions’ resignation.

The Red Media wrestled with story overnight, and the story picked up momentum this morning, with Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee and Government Reform Committee, tweeting "AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself," referring to any investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

For many in Red Media, The Post's piece was just more “fake news” and another attempt to undermine the Trump administration. Here were some reactions:

@LatinaforTrump got 1.5K likes for this comment:

Nobody is falling for Sessions smear by @washingtonpost He did nothing wrong. Good to see them become so desperate, it means we're winning.

— Irma 🇺🇸 (@latinaafortrump) March 2, 2017

This share from @StockMonsterUSA got 406 retweets and 415 likes this morning:

Read & Weep Snowflakes !! 👇
They just love Fake News 🤣🤣

Statement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions Spokesperson.@realDonaldTrump

— STOCK MONSTER (@StockMonsterUSA) March 2, 2017

253 tweets and 586 likes for this comment by @EricSpracklen:

Here comes the BS main stream media again...first they got Flynn, now they are coming for Sessions...pulling for straws...embarrassing

— Eric Spracklen (@EricSpracklen) March 2, 2017

Meanwhile, a morning article from Breitbart is headlined “Fake News: Media, Democrats Distort Remarks to Target Jeff Sessions,” and took a dig at The New York Times, which followed up on the meetings, one that occurred at the Republican National Convention and the other at Sessions’ office in September. The Breitbart article also referred to questioning by the Democratic senator, Al Franken, at the confirmation hearing, when Sessions denied having any contact with the Russians.

…it is all just more “fake news.” A chance greeting at a public event, and a Senate meeting in the course of his official duties, do not add up to anything, and the full transcript [ from Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)]— also omitted by the Times — makes it clear Sessions told the truth.

A Daily Caller article on another story published by The Times last night was headlined: “CONFIRMED: Obama Admin Sabotaged Trump’s Transition To The White House.” The Times piece said that Obama officials had scrambled to make sure that intelligence about links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials survived after the transition. Here's how The Daily Caller article put it: 

According to The Times, Obama White House officials waged a campaign to procure, save and disperse classified intelligence regarding Trump associates’ contacts with Russians.”

2. The Day After: Too Dovish on Deficit?

Laura Ingraham, the conservative pundit, is normally pro-Donald Trump, enthusiastically so. That’s why her grilling of Vice President Mike Pence on her radio show yesterday morning was so noteworthy. As the good feelings of Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night began to fade in the light of day, the divisions in the GOP over spending once again came to the fore. Ingraham pressed the Veep hard and relentlessly on whether the president was really keeping a careful eye on the bottom line, given his push for major increases in infrastructure and military spending.

Back in 2010 you were described by many, including me, as a deficit hawk. That the way you saw government was that it was one of our sacred responsibilities not to pile future debt and big deficits on future generations. And yet in this budget that we're looking at -- at least the outlines of it --- the priorities the President struck last night, it's not clear how we're going to be trimming this deficit after we've had some success in doing so with these sequester cuts in previous years.Have you gone from a deficit hawk to a deficit dove?” she asked him on air.

When Pence countered that Trump planned to pay for all this new spending with domestic spending cuts, Ingraham was skeptical. People will push back on those cuts, she warned him.

"I just want to be very clear on this, Vice President Pence -- are you willing to go and run a deficit for a year or two to push these other infrastructure and military spending priorities forward?" 

Why We Are Watching: 
The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, said yesterday he would support Trump’s infrastructure agenda. Could strange budge alliances split the GOP?


3. Watch out Bannon: Mattis Rising

On Wednesday, the Daily Beast reported that President Donald Trump signaled his desire for Defense Secretary James Mattis to have the ability to launch raids quickly without necessarily needing White House approval as part of the administration's effort to fight ISIS. Following the news, the Red Media has been full of flattering portrayals of the retired general nicknamed “Mad Dog.”

“Mattis Influence Shows As Trump Travel Ban May Drop A Country,” pronounced The Daily Caller. “President Donald Trump’s new order suspending travel from terror-rife countries will reportedly not include Iraq, in a nod to Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s past requests.

Trump’s original Jan. 27 ban included Iraq and six other countries that were temporarily prohibited from entering the U.S. Mattis reportedly implored Trump to at least grant exceptions to Iraqis fighting with the U.S. against the Islamic State, even before the ban was struck down by a federal court.

Meanwhile, The Washington Examiner noted how well Mattis was getting along with the House Armed Services Committee:

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and chairman of the committee, told reporters on Wednesday that Mattis answered questions before the full committee meeting ‘informally’ for about 90 minutes in a classified setting. Thornberry provided few details of conversation during the closed session, but said the budget was one topic of discussion.” Thornberry added Mattis was "Incredibly open and anxious to work with us."

4. Election 2020: Oprah v. Trump

Some stories are too good to pass up. The Mainstream Media and everyone else went crazy when Oprah Winfrey coyly hinted yesterday on Bloomberg’s “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations” that she might run for president.

The Red Twittersphere was also enjoying the fantasy of a duel between the two mega media personalities.

Matt Drudge @drudge with 500k followers kicked of the party with this post which has since disappeared from his account:

Trump vs Oprah would be the most epic race in American history. MAKE THIS HAPPEN...

But then it got ugly. Here is a sampling:

Thomas Paine @Thomas1774Paine with 69k followers got 500 likes for this tweet:

#Oprah might run for President. Isn't she busy enough getting paid to lose weight & then fattening up until she gets paid to lose it again?

— Thomas Paine (@Thomas1774Paine) March 1, 2017

Leah the Boss‏ @LeahRBoss with 79.2 followers:

Oprah loves to give out free stuff. Of course the left is salivating at the thought.


— Leah the Boss (@LeahRBoss) March 2, 2017

Vincent Allen‏ @VincentAllen96 :

#Oprah2020 Im giving everyone in the audience a free welfare card to use for anything! You get one, you get one, everyone gets a card!

— Vincent Allen (@VincentAllen96) March 2, 2017

Robert Patton‏ @PCTGeneral:

Do you really think that Hillary and the Clinton Cartel would support #Oprah2020? Not a freaking chance as long as Chelsea is alive.

— Robert Patton (@PCTGeneral) March 2, 2017

5. NRA Fires at The New York Times

A very tough video ad by the NRA cutting at The New York Times got a lot of play on conservative websites and Twitter accounts. Bill O’Reilly featured it on his website and here is The Washington Free Beacon’s article:

The National Rifle Association (NRA) released an ad mocking the New York Times on Monday.

The NRA's ad is a parody of one run by the New York Times during the Oscars. In its ad, the paper described the difficulty of discerning the truth from the noise. The ad ends with the tagline "the truth is more important now than ever."

The NRA's ad questions why the Times believes truth is more important now than in previous years.

“The New York Times placed an ad during the Oscars to tell us that truth is more important now," text in the ad reads. "But why now? Wasn’t it important when people were marching? When jobs were declining? When threats were growing? When drugs were flowing? …. The NRA said the Times did not care about the truth when it was bad for liberals. The group said America doesn't believe the paper anymore....  The times are burning and the media elites have been caught holding the match."

What We’re Noticing: 
The Times confirmed its commitment to truth in response to the NRA ad, but the comments in this Newsmax article and in responses on Twitter suggest it fell on deaf ears:

@Ten_GOP got 1,312 retweet and 1,413 likes for this share:

"Truth Doesn't Matter to The NY Times."

Tennessee @Ten_GBrilliant @NRA commercial It needs to be spread like wildfire! OP with 9k followers wrote Brilliant @NRA commercial👏👏 It needs to be spread like wildfire! #trumpaddress#JointAddress

— Tennessee (@TEN_GOP) February 28, 2017

@leginsurrection with 29k followers tweeted:

NRA VIDEO hits back at NY Times’ pretentious Oscars “Truth” Ad

— Legal Insurrection (@LegInsurrection) February 28, 2017