People close to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are being systematically booted from President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team in what one anonymous NBC News source characterized as a “Stalinesque purge.”

“The Donald Trump transition … bogged down further Tuesday with the abrupt resignation of former Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who had been coordinating its national security efforts,” NBC reported. “Two sources close to Rogers said he had been the victim of what one called a ‘Stalinesque purge,’ from the transition of people close to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who left Friday. It was unclear which other aides close to Christie had also been forced out.”

Newsrooms, including the Hill, Vanity Fair, Slate, the Guardian and others, have been quick to repeat the anonymously sourced claim, with a special emphasis being placed on the reference to Joseph Stalin.

But even though “Stalinesque Purge” makes for a sexy headline, and it’s a great hook for a story about politicos falling out of favor with their boss, it really is a stupid bit of hyperbole.

The Soviet purges were significantly grimmer than a servile New Jersey governor and his flunkies supposedly missing their chance for plum roles in the White House. For the original Bolsheviks, including Lev Kamenev, Grigory Zinoviev and Leon Trotsky, falling out of favor with Stalin meant betrayal and murder.

Kamenev, for example, was arrested in December 1934 and submitted to a show trial one year later. He succumbed to both physical and psychological torture and admitted to his “moral complicity” in crimes in which he had no known role, including the murder of Sergie Kirov, a prominent leader in the early days of the Soviet Union.

Kamenev agreed to confess his “crimes” in return for a guarantee he would not be executed.

Stalin agreed to his terms, then had him executed anyway.

Russian authorities later tracked down two of his sons, Yu. L. Kamenev, 17, and A.L. Kamenev, 33, and had them executed, too. Kamenev’s first wife, Olga, was executed as well. Only Kamenev’s youngest son, Vladimir Glebov, survived the purge, and died of natural causes in 1994.

Pence meets privately with potential cabinet appointee Corker 

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Sen. Bob Corker, who is being considered by Donald Trump’s transition team for the secretary of state post, met privately with Vice President-elect Mike Pence Thursday morning.

Corker confirmed the meeting to the Washington Examiner but would not discuss any details of the conversation, including whether the meeting centered around his candidacy to become President-elect Trump’s top foreign diplomat.

Pence is on Capitol Hill to meet with the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as well as top Democratic leaders.

The Tennessee Republican, who chairs the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters Tuesday told reporters Tuesday night that he is in the running for secretary of

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Zinoviev’s fate was similar to Kamenev’s: He was arrested in December 1934 and tried in January 1935. Zinoviev was sentenced to 10 years for crimes he almost certainly did not commit, including the murder of Kirov.

He was then put on display in a second show trial in 1936, and charged with additional bizarre and elaborate crimes, many of which were fabricated entirely for the purpose of his trial. Like Kamenev, Zinoviev agreed to confess his “crimes” if his persecutors promised to spare his life. Stalin agreed to his terms, then had him executed anyway.

Leon Trotsky had it slightly better in that he managed to live a longer life.

One of the fathers red revolution, Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party in 1927 and banished later from the Soviet Union. He was deported first to Turkey, and then eventually settled in Coyoacan in Mexico City.

In 1940, one year after a separate Soviet-linked assassination attempt on Trostky’s life, Stalin tasked the NKVD (later the KGB) with the mission of offing the old Bolshevik once and for all.

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Axelrod noted that Obama’s transition team “hadn’t made any major appointments at this point in 2008.”

11/17/16 1:21 PM

On Aug 20, 1940, the pro-Stalin Spaniard Ramon Mercader attacked Trotsky in his home in Mexico City. The assassin came at Trotsky with an ice axe, striking the aging revolutionary in the head. The blow was not immediately fatal. Trotsky’s guards were able to repel the attack, and they rushed him to a nearby hospital.

Mercader’s handiwork, though sloppy, was enough to do the trick: Trotsky died later on Aug. 21, 1940, from a combination of blood loss and shock.

The assassin was arrested, charged with murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Mercader testified during his trial:

I laid my raincoat on the table in such a way as to be able to remove the ice axe which was in the pocket. I decided not to miss the wonderful opportunity that presented itself. The moment Trotsky began reading the article, he gave me my chance; I took out the ice axe from the raincoat, gripped it in my hand and, with my eyes closed, dealt him a terrible blow on the head.

And these are just three small and grisly examples.

Somewhere between 600,000 and 1.2 million additional political prisoners, Red Army officers and ordinary citizens were killed during Stalin’s many purges. In one year alone, between 1937 and 1938, the Soviets averaged 1,000 executions per day, according to their own records.

Millions more were arrested, tortured and imprisoned in the gulags. Of the thousands submitted to the inhumane living conditions of the gulags, many didn’t live to see their release.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, a mass grave containing an estimated 200,000 corpses was found in a field near Minsk. A separate grave with roughly the same body count was found near Kiev.

So, sure, “Stalinesque Purge” makes for a pretty exciting headline. But it is really quite silly, all things considered.

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