Nel's New Day

May 20, 2019

Watch DDT’s Stonewalling Crumble

 

Personal issues have kept me from writing the past week, but today’s news is so outstanding that I couldn’t resist writing about it. (Within the next few days, I’ll catch up on last week’s news.)

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who is frantically trying to hide all his personal affairs from the public, lost big in court for a beginning fight with Congress. A federal judge upheld a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee for eight years of DDT’s tax returns from his accounting firm, Mazars USA, and rejected arguments from DDT’s lawyers that Congress has no power to obtain the files. These records could show financial misconduct by DDT and his associates.

The judge’s ruling is in accord with opinion from the Supreme Court that Congress has the power to collect “needed information” as a fundamental “attribute of the power to legislate” for the constitutional authority to Congress for all “legislative Powers.” The Constitution also bans courts from interfering with congressional subpoenas issued for legitimate legislative purpose. Courts cannot search for some covert illicit motive from Congress. The judge stated that the House Oversight Committee met this low hurdle.

The Oversight Committee listed four reasons to investigate DDT’s finances:

Accurate finance reporting to the Office of Goverment Ethics to help Congress determine “whether reforms are necessary to address deficiencies with current laws, rules, and regulations.” That goal clearly “falls within the legislative sphere.”

Complying with the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause that bars a president from accepting gifts from foreign governments without congressional consent.

Failing to disclose “conflicts of interest that may impair his ability to make impartial policy decisions” regarding legislation about ethics of government officials.

Engaging “in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office.”

The judge noted that the Watergate scandal led to new legislation, including laws on transparency and oversight. DDT’s argument, he wrote, “flies in the face of decades of legislation covering the President.”

In his 41-page ruling, the judge wrote:

“It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct—past or present—even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”

In opposition to the argument from DDT’s lawyers that Congress was usurping the DOJ’s powers to investigate “dubious and partisan” allegations of private conduct, the judge said that a congressional investigation into illegal conduct before and during a president’s time in office fits “comfortably” with Congress’s broad investigative powers, which include an “informing function,” or the power to expose corruption.

The judge also wrote that the House Oversight Committee had “facially valid legislative purposes” for its subpoena:

“It is not for the court to question whether the Committee’s actions are truly motivated by political considerations.”

The judge refused a stay until DDT’s lawyers can appeal his finding. He gave them seven days for an appeal, and Mazars has seven days to turn over DDT’s tax returns. The judge wrote:

“The court is well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States. But on the question of whether to grant a stay pending appeal, the President is subject to the same legal standard as any other litigant that does not prevail.”

DDT keeps complaining about how no other president has ever faced this situation, but DDT is unique in never having disclosed his tax returns, declining to divest from his extensive business dealings including those with foreigners abroad, and refusing to put his assets in a blind trust. His former lawyer Michael Cohen has testified under oath about DDT’s fraudulently inflating and deflating the same assets’ value to benefit his business transactions.

The judge opened by comparing DDT’s lawsuit to President James Buchanan’s similar effort to block an investigation into his affairs and noted that DDT has “taken up [Buchanan’s] fight.” The judge reported that he declined to put his ruling on hold while DDT appeals because the president failed to raise a “serious legal question going to the merits.” James Buchanan, one of the country’s worst leaders who blamed for failing to prevent the Civil War, also whined about about “harassing” congressional inquiries. The judge also pointed out that Congress began its investigation into Bill Clinton before he entered the White House and noted:

“Congress plainly views itself as having sweeping authority to investigate illegal conduct of a President, before and after taking office. This court is not prepared to roll back the tide of history.”

In another attempt to hide from House investigation, DDT ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn to ignore a subpoena to appear before the House tomorrow to testify about his interviews with Robert Mueller for his investigation. No longer employed by the government, McGahn is the second after Mazars to test DDT’s success in his demand to resist “all” subpoenas by House members. Earlier, McGahn followed White House directions when he defied a subpoena by refusing to provide documents shared with Mueller relevant to the House inquiry into potential abuses of power.

The DOJ has provided a 15-page opinion stating that McGahn cannot be forced to testify, but it uses no case law to support the opinion. Instead, it is based on past DOJ legal memos. DDT is claiming “executive privilege” to keep the House from obtaining any information, but this privilege can’t be used to hide potential evidence of a crime.If the House holds McGahn in contempt of Congress for not appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, as Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has threatened, McGahn could face disbarment.

The claim from DDT’s lawyers that other administrations have given senior aides “absolute immunity” resulted in failure by other administrations. A judge appointed by George W. Bush ruled that W.’s former White House counsel, Harriet Miers, could not reject a subpoena, and W. didn’t appeal the ruling. One of President Obama’s appointed judges ruled against privilege for documents whose “sum and substance” were already revealed in a public inspector general report.

On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee will vote whether to enforce its subpoena for the release of still-redacted portions of Mueller’s report and certain underlying materials. That day, DDT, his three eldest children, and his company go to court in an attempt to block a subpoena from the House Financial Services Committee for DDT’s bank records from Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One as well as documents related to “possible money-laundering by people in Russia and Eastern Europe.”

New revelations show that DDT’s and Jared Kushner’s accounts at Deutsche Bank were flagged in summer 2016 for possible money laundering transactions but not turned over to authorities. After money in Kushner Companies was moved to Russians, “a suspicious activity report” and supporting documents were moved to Deutsche’s private-banking division in New York where managers have a relationship with Kushner. The same situation occurred with DDT’s transactions. No information was filed with the Treasury Department, as law requires. The person reporting the suspicious activity was first told to ignore it and was then fired after she pursued it.

In 2004, despite knowing that DDT inflated his net worth, Deutsche Bank lent DDT over $500 million to build a 92-story building in Chicago. The bank also were told DDT had “worked with people in the construction industry connected to organized crime.” Ten years later, the bank was willing to massively exaggerate its vouching that DDT’s net worth was $8.7 billion for him to buy the Buffalo Bills.

With a history of corruption, Deutsche Bank paid hundreds of millions in penalties and is now required to increase its efforts to prevent illicit activities.

The House Intelligence Committee released transcripts of Michael Cohen’s private interviews, including how DDT’s lawyers told him to lie to Congress in his testimony. A person with ties to DDT also suggested Cohen could be pardoned for his discreet testimony. Details here.

While DDT is trying to avoid subpoenas and transparency about his affairs, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) has infuriated Republicans by being the first GOP legislator to claim that DDT “engaged in impeachable conduct” based on the Mueller report. GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) then smeared and lied about Amash, who does ask questions in hearings. At least 68 percent of Amash’s votes are with DDT. Conservatives are now peddling the conspiracy theory that Amash plans to run against DDT for president in 2020.

Amash’s Twitter thread provides background for his position, including his claim that DDT’s fixer AG Bill Barr had “deliberately misrepresented” the findings. Amash pointed out that “few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report.” He tweeted:

“When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law—the foundation of liberty—crumbles.”

We hope that liberty will cause DDT’s stonewalling to crumble. [Thanks to Cynthia Cox Cottam for the above image.]

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

May 9, 2019

White House Threatens Freedom of the Press

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 8:57 PM
Tags: , , ,

Does DDT think that the media won’t find out about him if reporters can’t go to the increasingly rare press conferences? Yesterday, the White House eliminated passes for most of the press corps and then said they would take requests for “exceptions.” Columnist Dana Milbank was the only one of seven Washington Post pass holders who wasn’t granted an “exception.” No reason was given. Milbank wrote, “There’s something wrong with a president having the power to decide which journalists can cover him.”

“Exceptions” can be revoked at any time without justification. Last year, a judge described the revocation of Jim Acosta’s press pass as “shrouded in mystery.” New credential requirements include presence in the White House at least 90 out of the previous 180 days—seventy percent of the workdays. DDT may not even be there for that many days, and new policies prevent journalists from attending events—forcing them to miss the quota. The new guidelines also fail to recognize campaign-trail reporting or presidential trips abroad. Those possibly losing their livelihood are freelance camera operators and technicians. Those not granted “exceptions” receive a six-month pass which doesn’t necessary offer access.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) tweeted that DDT’s “curtailing a free press and undermining the public’s access to government is a hallmark of authoritarianism & has no place in America. This purge of reporters is un-American and needs to be reversed ASAP.” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) agreed, “This is what dictators do.”

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders may not listen to her words; she celebrated the release of two Reuters journalists jailed over 500 days in Myanmar, calling it a victory for the freedom of the press. She said:

“A free press, freedom of religion and the rule of law are fundamental principles for any democracy.”

DDT had ordered all his administrative officials to boycott the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, a fundraiser for scholarships. In the past, members have expressed great concern for the lack of free press throughout the world, but some statements this year focused on the United States. On April 27, 2019, Olivier Knox, the WHCA’s president and chief Washington correspondent for SiriusXM radio, said that his son was concerned about whether DDT would imprison his father. Knox said that the threats on his life as a foreign correspondent and to his career by former political administrations pale in comparison to DDT’s hostility toward reporters and the hostile environment DDT created. He said:

“And that’s because February 2017 is when the president of the United States called us the ‘enemies of the people. A few days later I was driving my then-11-year-old son somewhere, probably soccer practice, when he burst into tears and asked me, ‘Is Donald Trump going to put you in prison?’”

Knox said that later his son promised him that if Knox is ever thrown out of the U.S., one of the family’s relatives, who’s “a really good lawyer,” would be able to get him back into the country. Knox added:

“I’ve had to tell my family not to touch packages on our stoop. I’ve had death threats, including one this week. Too many of us have. It shouldn’t need to be said in a room full of people who understand the power of words, but ‘fake news’ and ‘enemies of the people’ are not pet names, punchlines, or presidential.”

Like at all his other rallies, DDT repeated the word “fake” to describe the press in Green Bay (WI) last week, and, like always, the hateful terminology brought cheers from the crowd. DDT complained about the harsh humor directed toward him and his administration by the comedian selected to entertain the audience at last year’s dinner so WHCA selected as keynote speaker an historian, a scholar who has written several books on powerful people in U.S. history. His 2004 of Alexander Hamilton inspired the Broadway musical hit Hamilton. In his speech, Chernow said:

“The thing that worries me most is the sustained assault on truth. What is happening today is … a relentless campaign against the very credibility of the news media.”

For credibility, the press needs to attend DDT’s press conferences, but the one today shows how useless these events are. Although the intended purpose was medical billing, DDT wandered away from its purpose:

He described his treatment of Puerto Rico as generous after the Hurricane Maria devastation, claiming that he gave them “91 billion.” Thus far, Puerto Rico has received about $11 billion. Hurricane Katrina cost $200 billion, most of it going to Louisiana.

He accused John Kerry of violating the Logan Act, which bans private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments without permission, and called for his prosecution. Last year, Kerry, a former Secretary of State, said he spoke with the Iranian foreign minister a few times since leaving office. Two people were indicted under the 1799 law, one in 1802 and the other in 1852, but no one was ever convicted

He deferred to Barr on Mueller testimony after he said that Mueller should not testify to Congress after he deferred to Barr about Mueller’s testimony.

He attacked Mueller, accusing him of a conflict of interest because Mueller had been considered a replacement for the fired former FBI director James Comey.

He claimed his son Donald Trump, Jr. was “exonerated” by Mueller.

He said he had been going easy on China and “gave China a break” on the tariffs. After tariffs are increased, DDT said, “We’re going to be taking in more money than we’ve ever taken in.”

About medical billing, not so much.

DDT attempts to hide the fact that U.S. consumers, not China, are paying for the fees and lies about the trade deficit size. DDT’s threat also caused his beloved stock market to drop the next day. Immediately before DDT tweeted his new tariffs, DDT met with Republicans who told him to end tariffs and not impose new ones. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) even tacitly held up the proposed North American trade deal as a bargaining chip. Earlier, GOP incumbents up for re-election argued against DDT’s efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

Because of DDT’s tariffs, taxpayers have paid $900,000 for every job created in the steel/uranium industry—over 14 times a steelworker’s salary and an additional $11.5 billion cost to the economy per year. Steelworker jobs averaged 3,000 jobs per month this year. Consumers are paying $815,000 for every job created in making washing machines. Legally DDT can declare tariffs only for national defense, which makes his fist tariffs that were on washing machines questionable, and the World Trade Organization may stop him. No matter what DDT says, consumers are paying the taxes on the tariffs.

DDT’s steel and aluminum tariffs added 9 percent to the price of steel products sold in the U.S. last year, for a total of $5.6 billion in extra costs passed along to consumers. Tariffs added about $11.5 billion in annual costs to the U.S. economy. Yet the government isn’t making much more money. Additional tariffs should add about $32.5 billion a year, but the reality is less than half that amount at $15 billion. And that’s a small percentage of the $3 trillion annual revenue for the United States.

Sanders, who has held only two press conferences in the first four months of 2019, denied the guidelines. She said, “No one’s access is being limited.” Maybe it was just another one of those offensive trial balloons to see if anyone noticed.

May 6, 2019

Back to the Swinging Doors of DDT’s Administration

People keep moving in an out of the administration:

Stephen Moore is the latest person to be fired before hired. Once a recommendation by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) alongside Herman Cain for the Federal Reserve Board, he lasted longer than Cain. DDT said that he had pulled his name, but two hours earlier Moore had claimed that DDT was “full speed ahead” and that Moore is “all in.” The same thing happened to Cain who was positive that he was the nominee until DDT’s tweet told a different story. For the past month, Moore complained about a “sleaze” campaign that cited his writings from years ago. Yet the day before DDT dumped him, he talked about higher wages for women than for the “breadwinner” causing the “family instability.” Moore has much more going against him currently than his lack of experience, ignorance, racism, and misogyny. His leadership of the Koch-backed ALEC proved his austerity and anti-labor positions promoting income inequality, stagnant incomes, and suppressed wages.Ten years ago, Moore said, “I’m not even a big believer in democracy.”

Like Nixon, DDT is trying to politicize the Federal Reserve Board to lower interest rates and get re-elected. Nixon got his wish in a booming economy, but his scheme led to double-digit inflation.

Oil lobbyist David Bernhardt lasted four days without being investigated after he was confirmed as Interior Department Secretary from Senate Republicans. This coming week, both his investigator and the agency’s top lawyer face Senate confirmation hearings for their posts. The lawyer, who formerly advised the Koch brothers, advised both Bernhardt and his predecessor, Ryan Zinke, regarding legal and ethical issues as well as serving as chief public records officer. This connection erases any separation between politics and Freedom of Information in an agency that works hard to hide their actions. The lawyer said his “job is to protect the Secretary.”

Bernhardt is being investigating for involvement in policies affecting former clients. The Department admitted that Bernhardt’s staff deliberately failed to record his controversial meetings with representatives of fossil fuel, timber and water interests on his public calendar by citing “internal protocol.” They also confirmed he used a personal itinerary overwritten by his scheduling staff after denying that it happened for several months. Many entries were simply described as “internal” or “external.” An agency officer told Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chair of the Oversight Committee, that Bernhardt’s calendar was “deleted at the end of the day.” These practices also violate federal record laws. Later a Department spokeswoman said these practices didn’t exist.

The investigation in the Interior Department includes a total of six of DDT’s appointees who may have conflicts of interest by engaging with former employers or clients about the business of the Department. These include Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech, White House liaison Lori Mashburn, three top staffers at the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, and the department’s former energy policy adviser. The Assistant Secretary kept interacting with his former employer, a conservative think tank, after he joined the Interior Department to discuss pending lawsuits that were settled in his former employer’s interests. Another investigation concerned a former lobbyist for the NRA who participated in issues about his former clients after he joined the Department. He also got recreational shooting opened up in the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

Mark Morgan is DDT’s pick for the head of ICE. He supports DDT’s wall on the southern border and denied that children were held in “cages.” Earlier this year, DDT has named Ronald Vitiello for the position but dropped him, saying that “we’re going in a tougher direction.” Matthew Albence, currently acting ICE director, had said that immigration detention is like “summer camp.” A former senior official said, “Matt never met an undocumented immigrant that he wouldn’t deport.”

Morgan is a good match for Kevin McAleenan, new acting DHS secretary, who promoted family separation to “protect families and children,” even separating legal asylum seekers at legal ports of entry. Last December, McAleenan broke the law by failing to notify Congress with 24 hours of the deaths of two children. Then he forced migrant families to sleep underneath an El Paso bridge in dangerous, unhealthy conditions. McAleenan was in charge of firing tear gas at asylum-seekers. His agents were also well known for ethnic profiling, illegal searches, seizure of religious items, and sometimes, murder and rape.

Julie Kirchner, former leader for the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform, is DDT’s consideration to head U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services if DDT fires Francis Cissna in Stephen Miller’s purge of the federal government. Founded by a white supremacist, FAIR has been labeled a hate group. Currently Kirchner investigates individuals’ complaints against maladministration, especially that of public authorities for USCIS. If confirmed for the head of the agency, she would control the adjudication of applications for asylum, green cards, citizenship, and renewals for protective programs like DACA and TPS.

Patrick Shanahan remains acting as Secretary of Defense as more and more bad news comes from and about his former employer and friend, Boeing. The latest is Boeing’s admission that warning lights were “optional” on the 737 Max commercial jetliners that killed hundreds of people in the last few months. Earlier Boeing tried to blame pilots for their lack of performance. Now the company claims that the lights had no impact on the planes’ safety. Only 20 percent of ordered planes had this upgrade to activate the warning sensor. Neither pilots nor the FAA safety inspectors and supervisors were told about the lack of this safety feature. DDT has suggested that Boeing can solve all its problems with the 737 Max 8 jets by renaming them.

Less than two weeks ago, an internal investigation cleared Shanahan of conflicts of interest although Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson expressed three concerns: his decision to accept the problematic KC-46 tanker, his meeting with Space X CEO Elon Musk, and possible inappropriate sharing of classified information from Boeing programs. Shanahan also incessantly praised the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Internal documents about the Dreamliner production as well as interviews with employees show the same kind of shoddy work on the 737 Max. A quality manager who pointed out problems was moved to other parts of the South Carolina plant where Boeing moved manufacturing despite a lack of comparable work force to that in the Seattle area. As a “right-to-work” state, South Carolina employees can be paid less than in Washington, and the state gave Boeing $1 billion. Fortunately, the Dreamliner has not had a crash yet although it was grounded for a time because of overheating batteries.

Last week, a Boeing 737 slid off a Florida runway into the St. Johns River.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is one of the subjects named by Sears in a lawsuit against its former CEO Edward Lampert, claiming that Mnuchin was part of the board members who helped Lampert and his hedge fund strip Sears of over $2 billion. Lampert and Mnuchin were roommates at Yale University and worked together at Goldman Sachs.

Jared Kushner has done his daddy-in-law proud with his extremely rare public appearance at the Times 100 Summit. He downplayed the Russian election interference from the Mueller report as “a couple of Facebook ads.” Kushner missed the part about the “expansive and expensive” Russian attack, as described by Steve Benen, including “public events, advertising, rallies, p.r. stunts, outreach to domestic allies, and an aggressive social-media component [that] reached as many as 126 million people.”

John Kelly, once DHS Secretary before becoming DDT’s chief of staff, has found a way to make money off his attitudes about immigrants and still avoid DDT. Kelly is now a board member of Caliburn International, the company owning the biggest detention centers for unaccompanied migrant youth. Caliburn received $222 million from taxpayers for a year, but their centers’ capacity has increased from 1,250 beds to 3,200 beds in just one detention center.

Scott Walker, loser as presidential candidate and Wisconsin’s most recent gubernatorial race, found a new job: he’s honorary chair of The Center for State-led National Debt Solutions—aka pusher for a constitutional balanced budget amendment. Ostensibly a Republican, Walker seems to be on the opposite side of congressional Republicans who are driving the national debt sky high. In every date, including Wisconsin, the infrastructure is collapsing while wealthy individuals and corporations received massive tax cuts.

Before he left Wisconsin, Walker put the state’s taxpayers on the hook for $4.1 billion to employ 13,000 people at Foxconn’s manufacturing plant. The deal was announced with DDT; a photo may show the only work DDT has done. Foxconn backed out of the manufacturing plant, and the number of employees dropped to 1,000 workers—about $4 million for each job. Manufacturing the product in China will “be more profitable” for Foxconn, according to one of its officials. Last year, the company hired 178 people, 82 fewer than needed for its first $10 million tax cut. On the campaign trail a week ago, DDT asked Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, to be more “optimistic and hopeful” about Foxconn. Without re-negotiation, which Foxconn hasn’t supported, Wisconsin taxpayers are totally screwed.

Thanks to Walker and his Republicans, almost 15 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy farms aren’t milking or have disappeared. Despite oversupply, Walker tried to beat California in milk production and dropped milk prices by over 25 percent. Other losses included less immigrant farm labor and DDT’s trade war.

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

 

 

May 1, 2019

U.S. AG Barr Defends Cover-up of DDT

Special investigator Robert Mueller joins people disturbed about AG Bill Barr’s misrepresentation of Mueller’s final report. A timeline of the report from its release to Barr’s testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his protection of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

March 22: Robert Mueller delivered his 448-page report to the DOJ.

March 24: Bill Barr released his personal four-page interpretation of Mueller’s report that attempted to exonerate DDT of all blame by announcing that Mueller found no collusion between the DDT campaign and Russia and that Mueller had absolved DDT of obstruction of justice.

March 25: Mueller sent first letter to Barr, expressing “concern” about Barr’s misrepresentation of his findings with an introduction and executive summary to Barr that day.

March 27: Mueller sent a second letter to Barr and the DOJ leadership about Barr’s summary:

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions. There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

Muller requested the release of the report’s introduction and executive summaries. DOJ officials said that they believed Mueller agreed with them about the process of releasing the report until they saw the letter. The complete letter is here.

March 28: Mueller told Barr on the phone that Barr’s summary was misleading about the report and said that Barr did not reveal how DDT’s campaign interacted inappropriately with Russians. Examples: Campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates regularly provided polling to a Russian national believed by Gates to be a “spy”; Mueller outlined 10 “episodes” in which DDT may have obstructed justice. In addition, Barr didn’t mention that DDT’s mostly unsuccessful “to incluence the investigation” were “largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

March 29: Barr wrote Congress claiming that his March 24 communication was intended as Mueller’s principal conclusions, not a summary. He volunteered to testify before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees on May 1 and 2.

April 10: Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath. Asked if Mueller supported “your conclusion,” Barr answered:

I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion.”

The questioner, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), called Barr “the chief propagandist” for DDT and that Barr lied to the people after learning about Mueller’s prior communication with Barr.

April 18: Barr gave a press release before he made public a heavily redacted Mueller report and repeated “no collusion” as his boss DDT has. Asked if it was improper for him to spin the unreleased report, Barr walked off the stage.

April 30: The Washington Post released information about Mueller’s criticism to Barr about the Barr’s misrepresentation and publicity prior to Barr’s congressional testimony.  Both Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) demanded Mueller’s letter to Barr. Nadler also asked that Mueller testify before his committee, but the DOJ, where Mueller is employed, can’t find a time when Mueller would be available. Barr threatened to not appear at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on May 2 because he might be questioned by staff counsel instead of House members. Members of Congress called for Barr’s resignation.

May 1: Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

  • Barr testified he had not reviewed the underlying evidence in Mueller’s report although he wrote in his first summary that the evidence failed to establish that DDT committed obstruction of justice.
  • Barr said he doesn’t know anything about the internal polling data that Manafort and Gates regularly sent to Russian national Kilimnik to share with others in Ukraine and with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The Mueller report described over 200 connections between DDT’s campaign and a foreign adversary.
  • Barr sat in silence for six seconds when asked if campaigns should contact the FBI if foreign governments offer them damaging information on their political opponents. When prompted, he specified a narrow yes, “if a foreign intelligence service.” Barr did suggest it would be possible for an employee of a foreign adversary to work for a U.S. campaign if that person were not paid.
  • Asked about lies from DDT and other people in Mueller’s report, Barr said that he’s “not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people.” [Internet response was not positive.]
  • Barr falsely claimed that he “didn’t exonerate” DDT and that he wasn’t hiding Mueller’s information. [Sen. Richard Blumenthal used a color-coded chart for 14 claims connected with DDT’s obstruction of justice, showing that Mueller found substantial evidence regarding this obstruction of “crime, intent, interference with an ongoing investigation, and the obstructive act.”]
  • Barr called Mueller’s letter to him “snitty” and refused to share notes from their telephone call. Also, Barr accused Mueller of not writing the letter to him although Mueller signed the letter.
  • Barr told Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that he will “work with you to enhance the security of our election.” Asked if he would help get the Secure Elections Act passed, he said he would “take a look” at it. [Klobuchar had far more questions.]
  • Barr said that DDT “fully cooperated” with the investigation although the Mueller report shows differently.
  • Barr asserted that Mueller didn’t intend his report for Congress although Mueller stated that intent in his report.
  • Barr admitted under oath that a case for obstruction of justice can be pursued without an underlying crime if people concerned about crimes “take an inherently malignant act, such as destroying documents.” The statement was to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), DDT’s cheerleader, who was sure that his original question would keep DDT from being accused of obstruction. [Asked earlier this week about DDT’s obstruction of justice, Graham said, “I don’t care.”]
  • Barr said that DDT was “falsely accused” of coordinating with Russia.
  • Barr declared that he is in charge of summaries, redactions, and times of releases because a special investigator works.
  • The worst: Barr said that the president had the right to fire any independent special counsel if he disagreed with the investigation.
  • Barr refused to testify at the House Judiciary Committee hearing tomorrow. Members may subpoena him, landing the situation in court If Barr continues his refusal. Barr could be sued for civil contempt, leaving the decision to a judge. This solution was used in 2007 when George W. Bush’s counsel Harriet Miers refused to testify about her removal of several U.S. attorneys; a court ruled that Miers had to comply with the subpoena, and the case was appealed. The case was dropped when the 110th Congress was over. An unlikely option not used for 100 years is to hold Barr in contempt, meaning the House’s security force could arrest and detain him. In 1973, Sen. Sam Ervin (D-NC) threatened to jail people who failed to appear for the Watergate hearings after then President Nixon tried to prevent key aides from testifying.  Permitting Barr his own way sets a precedent for the DOJ’s total control of Congress—a separate branch of government.

When “Poppy” Bush, George W.’s father, named Barr attorney general in the early 1990s, NYT writer William Safire, a staunch Republican, used the nickname “Coverup-General” because of Barr’s concealing evidence about George H.W. Bush’s involvement in “Iraqgate” and “Iran-Contra.” Christmas 1992 headlines told of Barr’s Christmas gift to Bush and Ronald Reagan—hiding their crimes in the Iran-Contra scandal. Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh, named six years earlier to investigate Reagan’s Iran-Contra activities, found the documents of Caspar Weinberger, Reagan’s former defense secretary, who had been in on the deal, and Bush’s diary that would corroborate Walsh’s findings. Elliott Abrams was already convicted of withholding evidence from Congress and might have more information. Abrams was silent, hoping for a pardon.

In April 2001—almost ten years later—Barr said in an interview for oral presidential histories:

“There were some people arguing just for [a pardon for] Weinberger, and I said, ‘No, in for a penny, in for a pound.’ I went over and told the President I thought he should not only pardon Caspar Weinberger, but while he was at it, he should pardon about five others.”

Bush followed Barr’s advice, destroying years of investigation. Walsh had already gotten one conviction and three guilty pleas with two other people lined up for prosecution. Bush was in Walsh’s sights. The pardons closed down the investigation and protected himself as well as the others involved in the crimes. After the pardons, Walsh stated that the diary and notes for Weinberger’s public trial were “evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public.” Officials includes Reagan, Bush, and Barr. Coverup-General Barr is the go-to guy, and Republican senators confirmed him. Only Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted against his party, but Barr got three Democratic senators: Doug Jones (AL), Joe Manchin (WV), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ).

Even Fox contributor Andrew Napolitano, who DDT once considered for a personal lawyer, claims that Mueller’s report shows DDT’s pattern of obstruction that was “unlawful, defenseless and condemnable.” He made his opinion well-known through both an op-ed and a video.

A must-read about Barr is a NYT op-ed from former FBI director James Comey who tells Barr that “[DDT] has eaten your soul.”

And a must-watch about Barr comes from Rachel Maddow’s interview with Hillary Clinton immediately before Minute 17. Clinton’s best one-liner about DDT’s inviting foreign countries to support her 2016 election:

“China, if you’re listening, why don’t you get Trump’s tax returns? I’m sure the media would richly reward you.”

According to Barr, this approach would not be illegal because it’s done out in the open.

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

 

April 24, 2019

‘A Serious Crime against America’

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has declared war on the U.S. Congress while treating members as if they work for him instead of being in a separate and equal branch of the government. The Robert Mueller investigation closed down soon after the Senate confirmed DDT’s new fixer, Bill Barr, as the U.S. attorney general—a position that is supposed to be independent of the President of the United States. Now DDT is trying to block every House investigation into his actions.

Details in DDT’s Finances: DDT’s accounting firm Mazars USA told House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) that it would give him ten years of DDT’s financial statements if they received a subpoena after DDT’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, said that DDT had participated in possible bank fraud by inflating or deflating his assets to get loans and avoid real estate taxes. First, DDT’s lawyers threatened the firm with legal action if it follows the law and then sued Cummings to block the subpoena using the 1880 Supreme Court ruling in Kilbourn v. Thompson. That case was overruled by a 1927 decision.

Testimony from DDT’s Former White House Counsel: Trying to block Don McGahn’s testimony from Don McGahn by invoking executive privilege, DDT had earlier told McGahn that he could talk freely with Robert Mueller and failed to claim executive privilege in the release of the Mueller report. McGahn testified to Mueller that DDT told McGahn about DDT’s attempt to fire Robert Mueller. Not only does McGahn work in the government now, he worked for the people of the United States, not DDT. About McGahn’s declaring executive privilege, former federal counsel Jessica Roth said, “That ship has sailed.”

DDT’s Tax Records: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is still dragging his heels in turning over DDT’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, saying that he will decide by May 6. Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA) has a century-old law for his request. DDT’s lawyer wrote the Treasury Department to stop the tax returns from being handed over to House Democrats.

DDT’s Security Clearance Process: The Oversight Committee is also investigating whether people with drug, criminal, or financial problems received top-secret security clearances because of DDT’s demands. DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is one of the clearance recipients. The House subpoenaed Carl Kline, the person responsible for giving clearances after people failed the vetting, who also retaliated against the woman who reported his actions. DDT told Kline, as he told other aides, to ignore all subpoenas to appear before the House committee. Cummings warned that Kline could be held in contempt if he doesn’t appear.

Today, the Washington Post published an op-ed about the need for a response to DDT’s actions that was written by former First Lady, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:

Our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated. This is the definitive conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. It documents a serious crime against the American people.

The debate about how to respond to Russia’s “sweeping and systematic” attack — and how to hold President Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law — has been reduced to a false choice: immediate impeachment or nothing. History suggests there’s a better way to think about the choices ahead.

Obviously, this is personal for me, and some may say I’m not the right messenger. But my perspective is not just that of a former candidate and target of the Russian plot. I am also a former senator and secretary of state who served during much of Vladi­mir Putin’s ascent, sat across the table from him and knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country.

I am also someone who, by a strange twist of fate, was a young staff attorney on the House Judiciary Committee’s Watergate impeachment inquiry in 1974, as well as first lady during the impeachment process that began in 1998. And I was a senator for New York after 9/11, when Congress had to respond to an attack on our country. Each of these experiences offers important lessons for how we should proceed today.

First, like in any time our nation is threatened, we have to remember that this is bigger than politics. What our country needs now is clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship. Whether they like it or not, Republicans in Congress share the constitutional responsibility to protect the country. Mueller’s report leaves many unanswered questions — in part because of Attorney General William P. Barr’s redactions and obfuscations. But it is a road map. It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not. Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless.

Second, Congress should hold substantive hearings that build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps, not jump straight to an up-or-down vote on impeachment. In 1998, the Republican-led House rushed to judgment. That was a mistake then and would be a mistake now.

Watergate offers a better precedent. Then, as now, there was an investigation that found evidence of corruption and a coverup. It was complemented by public hearings conducted by a Senate select committee, which insisted that executive privilege could not be used to shield criminal conduct and compelled White House aides to testify. The televised hearings added to the factual record and, crucially, helped the public understand the facts in a way that no dense legal report could. Similar hearings with Mueller, former White House counsel Donald McGahn and other key witnesses could do the same today.

During Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee also began a formal impeachment inquiry that was led by John Doar, a widely respected former Justice Department official and hero of the civil rights struggle. He was determined to run a process that the public and history would judge as fair and thorough, no matter the outcome. If today’s House proceeds to an impeachment inquiry, I hope it will find someone as distinguished and principled as Doar to lead it.

Third, Congress can’t forget that the issue today is not just the president’s possible obstruction of justice — it’s also our national security. After 9/11, Congress established an independent, bipartisan commission to recommend steps that would help guard against future attacks. We need a similar commission today to help protect our elections. This is necessary because the president of the United States has proved himself unwilling to defend our nation from a clear and present danger. It was just reported that Trump’s recently departed secretary of homeland security tried to prioritize election security because of concerns about continued interference in 2020 and was told by the acting White House chief of staff not to bring it up in front of the president. This is the latest example of an administration that refuses to take even the most minimal, common-sense steps to prevent future attacks and counter ongoing threats to our nation.

Fourth, while House Democrats pursue these efforts, they also should stay focused on the sensible agenda that voters demanded in the midterms, from protecting health care to investing in infrastructure. During Watergate, Congress passed major legislation such as the War Powers Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973. For today’s Democrats, it’s not only possible to move forward on multiple fronts at the same time, it’s essential. The House has already passed sweeping reforms that would strengthen voting rights and crack down on corruption, and now is the time for Democrats to keep their foot on the gas and put pressure on the do-nothing Senate. It’s critical to remind the American people that Democrats are in the solutions business and can walk and chew gum at the same time.

We have to get this right. The Mueller report isn’t just a reckoning about our recent history; it’s also a warning about the future. Unless checked, the Russians will interfere again in 2020, and possibly other adversaries, such as China or North Korea, will as well. This is an urgent threat. Nobody but Americans should be able to decide America’s future. And, unless he’s held accountable, the president may show even more disregard for the laws of the land and the obligations of his office. He will likely redouble his efforts to advance Putin’s agenda, including rolling back sanctions, weakening NATO and undermining the European Union.

Of all the lessons from our history, the one that’s most important may be that each of us has a vital role to play as citizens. A crime was committed against all Americans, and all Americans should demand action and accountability. Our founders envisioned the danger we face today and designed a system to meet it. Now it’s up to us to prove the wisdom of our Constitution, the resilience of our democracy and the strength of our nation.

This week, DDT said, “I’m the most transparent president in history” while he objects to all subpoenas about his taxes and financial affairs, vetting for security clearances, testimony for the Mueller investigation, and holds secret meetings.

George Conway, husband of top White House official Kellyanne Conway, said about Clinton’s op-ed: “I’m with her.” So am I.

April 15, 2019

Tax Day: ‘Cuts,’ Returns

Today is the deadline for paying 2018 taxes, and the amount of taxes that people pay has consumed conversation for over a year, ever since DDT and other Republicans gave the wealthy and big business a huge tax break that cost the United States $1.5 trillion. When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) delivered his rally speeches, he promised that people would get an additional $4,000, but over 80 percent of taxpayers didn’t get this generous bonus. Instead 10,260,263 paid more taxes last year after DDT’s 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, and raises for most people were under $1,000. The law eliminated personal and dependent exemptions, caps on state and local deductions, employee business expenses deductions, etc. The cap of $10,000 on state and local tax deductions was onerous for many people, especially those who have lived in their home for a long time or have high state income tax, although DDT claimed that only the wealthy were hurt.

Researchers found that “half the tax cuts went to the richest five percent, with about a quarter going to the richest one percent. Those among the top five percent got bigger tax cuts not just in dollar terms but even when measured as a share of their total income.” Households making between $500,000 and $1 million had their after-tax income rise by an average of 5.2 percent. Households making less than $50,000 experience only a 0.6 percent increase. In even greater income inequality, W-2 wages fell 2.0 percent in 2018. Bonuses fell $0.22 for 2018, and the average bonus for 2018 was just $0.01 higher than in 2017. Most bonuses came from recruiting because of low unemployment instead of production from company tax cuts.

Big benefits went to Fortune 500 companies: at least 60 profitable corporations will pay nothing—some of them getting back extra money from the government. That number is double from previous years. Instead of paying $16.4 billion in taxes on their $79 billion of pretax income, the companies got rebates of $4.3 billion—a GOP gift of over $20 billion used to buy up stock and sock away in hidden offshore accounts. A few corporations with this advantage: Amazon, Chevron. Deere, Delta Air Lines, General Motors, Halliburton, Honeywell International, Molson Coors, and Prudential Financial. Another 51 companies with zero or minus taxes.

Jamie Dimon, J.P. Morgan’s CEO, bragged to shareholders that tax cuts for the bank add “$3.7 billion to net income.” But the increase “will be erased” so that shareholders won’t expect to get higher profits. The justification for the company’s spending $55 billion in stock buybacks? You have to buy back your own stock at “tangible book value.” And then at “two times tangible book value.” So buy back stock at any price, according to Dimonomics.

DDT surely gained millions—perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars—from DDT’s tax cuts for the wealth as did people he chose for his officials. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified in support of $6.7 billion in education cuts at a congressional hearing, but she saved at least $10 million in taxes for 2018. Amway, her family’s company structured as an S-corporation, dropped its taxes from 39.6 percent to 29.6 percent in what Republicans called a small business cut. The education cut comes from the tax cuts’ failure to continue revenue for the government; instead revenue is plummeting. DeVos’ $10 million in taxes would have supported work-study funding for 5,600 students, Nevada’s entire share of the 21st Century Community Learning Center after school program, or funding for Full Service Community Schools academic and social services at schools in 20 communities—programs that DeVos wants to eliminate because of no revenue. DDT wants to make his tax cuts for the wealthy permanent with a conservative addition to the deficit of $1 trillion over a decade.

In their effort to convince people that they are paying lower taxes, Republicans have decided to make the withholding form so complicated that they can just say that people aren’t being ripped off. Past forms asked for the number of allowances based on exemptions. The new form requires annual dollar amounts for nonwage income, such as interest and dividends; itemized and other deductions; income tax credits expected for the tax year; and total annual taxable wages for all lower-paying jobs in the household for people with multiple jobs. The new form references 12 IRS publications for its completion and looks like the 1040 for final taxes instead of a simple W-4. The former year’s 1099, pay stubs, or 1040 returns are necessary for making the withholding calculations.

People are required to tell the “primary” employee about all their other income as well as that of their family and will probably need training to fill it out. Productivity will shrink and privacy goes out the window. And states may also require a new withholding form instead of the current W-4. Remember when Republicans said that people could fill out their tax return information on a postcard? It’s not happening.

Polling indicates that only 17 percent of people think that they got any tax cut even if they did. This perception comes from most taxpayers getting only a small cut. Only one-third of people approve of the legislation that DDT saw as his signature legislative achievement. Economic growth, a talking point around tax cuts, is slightly worse than in 2015, and job growth has slowed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said about the tax cut when it was passed:

“If we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work.”

The 77-year-old man is up for re-election next year. He may have the chance for “another line of work.”

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)’s tax reform proposal, “Real Corporate Profits Tax,” might force a modicum of honesty on huge corporations. She recommends that companies reporting more than $100 million in worldwide profits pay seven percent on every dollar above the first $100 million claimed in profits to their investors. After CEO’s like Dimon brag about their tremendous profits, companies currently convince the IRS that they make no profits and thus pay no taxes. J.P. Morgan made over $131 billion in 2018 but paid less than $10 million in taxes. Warren maintains that raising the corporate tax rate does no good because the tax code is “so littered” with loopholes. She estimates that charging 1,200 companies subject to this tax would give “smaller” businesses “a fighting chance.” Companies paying no taxes would pay some taxes—Amazon would pay $698 million in taxes and Occidental Petroleum, $280 million. Last year, Amazon got a tax refund of $129 million plus paying no taxes.

For people who complain about costs of Social Security and healthcare, consider another destination for tax money. Of every dollar in taxes, 24 cents go to the military. Of those 24 cents, only 5 cents go to our troops while 12 cents go to corporate military contractors. The average taxpayer gave $1,704 to Pentagon contractors last year but only $683 for military pay, housing, and other benefits except $833 to military health care. The average U.S. taxpayer gave $225 to Lockheed’s executives and shareholders. Its CEO Marillyn Hewson got over $20 million for 2017, but the top pay for a four-star general or admiral is $189,600. The lowest-rank enlisted soldiers make just $20,172. Boeing got $100 from the average taxpayer, the same amount as all of education received.

And a shout out to DDT’s tax returns. Writing that concerns from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin “lack merit,” House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA) has given IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig a firm deadline of April 23 to turn over six years of DDT’s tax returns. Two days later, DDT’s personal lawyer wrote the Treasury Department to stop the tax returns from being handed over to House Democrats.

DDT’s tax preparer Mazars USA told House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) that it would turn over ten years of DDT’s tax returns if the company received a subpoena. In an attempt to hide the returns, DDT’s lawyers have threatened the firm with legal action if it follows the law. The letter accused Cummings of wanting the returns only for political reasons, basically accusing a member of Congress of being a liar.  calling it a politically motivated scheme to take down the president. Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC), members of the Oversight Committee, also accused Democrats of requesting DDT tax returns “solely to embarrass President Trump.”

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders passed along the DDT party line of smears and threats about Democrats requesting DDT’s his tax returns when she claimed that Democrats aren’t “smart enough” to look through his returns and that they are on a “dangerous, dangerous road.” DDT was tried twice for civil tax fraud, criticized by judges in both cases, and faced his own tax lawyer testifying against him.

Protesters brought an inflatable figure to the steps of the IRS when they asked for DDT to release his tax returns. The group uses the figure because DDT is “too chicken” to release his tax returns. The first “chicken bearing a resemblance to DDT was 23 feet tall and complete with golden hair pompadour and preening gestures. It arrived at a Chinese mall less than a month before DDT’s inauguration in preparation for the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Questions: If there is nothing wrong with DDT’s tax returns, why would he be embarrassed? If there is something wrong, why isn’t a look at them not warranted?

 

March 25, 2019

World Condemns DDT’s Golan Heights Proclamation

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 10:22 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) turned the Middle East upside down in his efforts to get Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu re-elected by his order that the U.S. recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights. Netanyahu faces a difficult re-election early April especially because he could be indicted on criminal charges, in his case for corruption, and DDT decided to shore him up.

Israel seized the Golan Heights in southwestern Syria during the 1967 when a six-day war also took over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. After deliberating for six months, the UN determined that Israel would return the territories in exchange for permanent peace. Israel declared that the West Bank and Gaza would be described as “disputed” instead of “occupied,” claiming that Palestine was not a sovereign nation. Israel decided to keep a legal presence through leaving military authority in the Palestinian territory and continually encroached on the Palestinian land.

Because Egypt and Syria were not questioned as sovereigns, only Israel disputed the disposition of the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. Egypt and Syria attacked Israel to regain its territories in 1973. Although Israel won the war, the UN passed a ceasefire and a U.S.-led Middle East Peace Process to return Arab territories in exchange for peace. Palestine was not recognized as a legitimate representative to regain the West Bank and Gaza until 1991, and Syria continue to object legitimizing Israel’s claims. The Camp David Accords in 1979, with the agreement of Israel and Egypt, returned the Sinai to Egypt and established permanent peace in which Syria would not go to war alone. Two years later Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights despite Ronald Reagan’s rejection because of its violation of international principle blocking taking territory by force. Israel refuses to return to the 1967 lines since then because it would lose access to the Sea of Galilee which provides one-third of Israel’s fresh water.

DDT ignored this history, international law, and U.S. policy. He claimed that the Golan Heights is a security buffer against Syria, but Israel has settled 20,000 civilians and 167 businesses, including a ski resort, on this land. Jordan established permanent peace with Israel in 1994, and Syria has not waged war since 1973. Libya and Iraq no longer threaten Israel, and Hezbollah has not initiated war from Lebanon. Israel has no credible military threat from Syria’s southern border.

DDT spent his first two years trying to destroy the Palestinians. He “took Jerusalem off the table,” closed the Palestinians’ mission in Washington and America’s mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, and cut off aid to Palestinian civil society and humanitarian needs. His unilateral actions, however, oppose the support for both the U.S. people and the Israeli desire for peace with Palestine. For the first time since 2012, at least half of people in the U.S. favor the establishment of an independent Palestinian state “on the West Bank and the Gaza strip,” up almost 20 percent in the past four years.  In Israel, 71 percent of the Jewish public believe that Israel’s control over the Palestinians is a moral problem, and 78 percent of Israeli Jews think that control of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria is bad for Israel. The poll also showed that 78 percent of the Jewish public and 93 percent of the Arab public in Israel agree that peace with people of other faiths is an important value in their religion, and 51 percent of the Jews and 72 percent of the Arabs agree that religious leaders representing different religions in the region should take part in making decisions related to peace.

Before State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo left for a recent trip to the Middle East, he had a teleconference press briefing to discuss “international religious freedom”—with only “faith-based media.” He refused to submit either a transcript of what was said or a list of who was included. According to one invited news outlet, all those asking questions of Pompeo were Christian or Jewish. An invitation to a secular outlet was rescinded with the explanation that they were not “faith-based.” The House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Eliot Engel (D-NY), has demanded “more information” about Pompeo’s decision to exclude all non-Judeo-Christian media and what was said.

To Pompeo, U.S. military battles in the Middle East are part of a greater war of good against evil, including the elimination of both Israel and Islam. Regarding DDT’s meeting with evangelicals about his Middle East plan, Pompeo reported that this administration will achieve peace in the Middle East and that “persons of faith [i.e., only Christians] will have something to say about the plan.” DDT’s strong support of Israel comes from his evangelical base which needs the country to start Armageddon for the return of Jesus. A greater advantage for DDT in Israel’s takeover of Palestinian land, is that Jared Kushner’s family makes money from building developments on the West Bank.

On the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pompeo compared DDT to Queen Esther, celebrated on Purim last Thursday, saying that DDT was chosen by God to save Israel from Iran. Historian Jon Meacham called Pompeo’s position “idolatry,” a hypocritical approach toward the man who “never felt the need to ask God for forgiveness …, to ask Jesus to forgive him of his sins,” according to Joe Scarborough. Pompeo was caught off guard with DDT’s tweet about Israel’s authority over the Golan Heights after Pompeo’s statement that the U.S. policy had not changed.

The position to help Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be re-elected likely destroys any hope for peace in the Middle East as shown by the anger reverberating throughout its countries:

Syria stated that DDT’s “blatant attack” on its sovereignty and territorial integrity will isolate the U.S.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas released this statement: “There is no legitimacy that can override UN Security Council resolutions, the UN General Assembly or the Arab Peace Initiative.”

Lebanon said the US recognition of Israeli sovereignty “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “clear that the status of Golan has not changed,” according to his spokesman. The UN spokesman is holding to the unanimous resolution by the 15-member Security Council resolution in 1981 that Israel’s “decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.”

Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the U.S. move and said that the Golan Heights are occupied Arab land.

Saudi Arabia denounced DDT’s actions with the statement that “attempts to impose fait accompli do not change the facts” and that the Golan Heights was an “occupied Syrian Arab land in accordance with the relevant international resolutions. It will have significant negative effects on the peace process in the Middle East and the security and stability of the region.”

Turkey called the U.N. recognition unacceptable and said it would take action against it.

The Arab League condemned the move, saying that “Trump’s recognition does not change the area’s status.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called DDT’s “persistently violating international law … displays panic of an empire in decline.”

Other criticism directed at DDT’s land grab for Israel came from the EU, UK, Germany, France, Egypt, Russia, and Venezuela.

Pleased with himself, DDT and Netanyahu smugly grin at each other, but DDT’s decision to break international law leaves the U.S. even more isolated with only Israel as support. In the UN, 130 member countries have already voted against DDT’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. DDT’s actions will exacerbate war in the Middle East. Israel no longer has leverage for peace agreements with Syria, and Syria’s President Bashar al Assad can argue that the U.S. no longer has a right in his country’s future governance. Iran and Hezbollah have justification for terrorism and military operations against Israel. Arab nations will be reluctant to oppose Islam countries to protect Israel. Russia may no longer tolerate Israeli strikes to prevent Iran’s adversarial movements, perhaps blocking Israeli’s freedom in Syria’s skies. DDT’s approval of Israeli’s takeover of Golan Heights supports not only Russia’s annexation of Crimea but also its destruction of “independence” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the Republic of Georgia. With the disregard for international law, Saudi Arabia may take over Qatar.

Will DDT declare war on the world to continue his protection of Israel?

March 22, 2019

DDT: Week 113, Part 1 – Raging, Losing

The biggest news today is that Robert Mueller has finished his report, but no one except AG Bill Barr knows what’s in it. More news when some is released.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) doesn’t know what his officials are doing. He tweeted:

“It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”

Technically, the Treasury Department announced the sanctions yesterday, not today, but Fox may not have told DDT. Asked about DDT’s change, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “President Trump likes Chairman Kim.” Sanctions on Chinese shipping companies that helped North Korea evade international sanctions fought North Korea denuclearization. Even national security adviser John Bolton considered the sanctions “important.”

DDT started the week with 29 raging tweets on Sunday before and after he made a rare appearance at church where he wore a red tie to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day green. His fury was directed  against General Motors, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Saturday Night Live (the Christmas rerun), some Fox hosts (while supporting Jeanine Pirro), President Obama (along with FBI, DOJ, and CIA), Google, the Paris Climate Agreement, and others. DDT’s vitriol against McCain continued for the entire week during a press conference with his South American doppelganger, Brazil’s new autocrat Jair Bolonsaro, and in front of a Lima (OH) audience at a tank factory. By Wednesday, he began whining about how he didn’t get a “thank you” for McCain’s funeral and claimed that he had to “approve” the event. Congress approved McCain’s lying in state in the U.S. Capitol for three days; DDT only arranged for transport. After that diatribe, McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, shared a hate-filled tweet sent her that used obscenities to attack McCain and their daughter Meghan McCain.

Some Fox shows criticized DDT for his McCain comments. Neil Cavuto called out Republicans for not offending McCain, especially Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has gone all out in defending DDT as part of Graham’s re-election campaign. In a Friday interview with Fox Business Maria Bartiromo, DDT attacked her for asking him about his attacks:

“You shouldn’t have brought it up. Actually, I thought you weren’t supposed to bring it up, but that’s okay. Fake news every once in a while.”

Fox is officially fake news, according to DDT. His anger continued during his departure to Mar-a-Lago later that day when he ignored Fox reporters other than glaring at them. Republicans who have kept quiet about DDT’s diatribes may struggle with their votes if Sen. Chuck Schumer introduces a bill renaming the Russell Senate Building for McCain, especially because it would switch the name from honoring a Democrat, Richard Russell, to a Republican. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may not let the bill come up for a vote.

With Congress on recess and everyone waiting for the Mueller report, DDT had nothing to do this week except rant, sometimes against the husband of his counselor, Kellyanne Conway. The courts, however, sometimes ruled against him.

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch swung to the left in supporting the rights of Native Americans, permitting the Yakama Tribe’s 1855 Treat rights to travel the public roads without being taxed on the goods brought to the reservation to Washington from Oregon, agreed when the U.S. took most of the Yakima land.

A U.S. District judge blocked drilling on 300,000 acres of public land in Wyoming because the Department of Interior auctioned the land for fossil fuel leasing without any consideration of climate change risks, violating the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The decision is the first ruling against DDT’s business-first, climate-last agenda and will certainly be appealed.

A federal judge ruled against implementation of DDT’s transgender military ban because one of the injunctions against the ban still exists. In all four federal cases against the ban last year, judges issued injunctions. One injunction was lifted in March, and the Supreme Court overturned two others. Although An appeals court overturned another injunction in January, the judge said that the appeals court ruling could change because plaintiffs have until March 29 to ask for a rehearing. The Defense Department had set April 12, 2019 as the date to block transgender recruits signing up for the military, and military service members are already prevented from transitioning.

The Connecticut supreme court ruled that victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre can sue Remington Arms on the basis that the company irresponsibly marketed the weapon used in the shooting to high-risk individuals, violating state law. One argument was one of standing, whether a person without a business relationship with the defendant can sue for unfair trade practices, but the court ruled that people injured by unfair trade practices—in this case, families killed in the shooting—can sue. Manufacturers of weapons are the only U.S. companies that cannot be sued for their products’ deaths and injuries, according to a law passed in 2005.

The government has dropped charges for all 191 protesters at DDT’s inauguration who did not plead guilty, removing the possibility that each one could serve over 60 years in prison. Twenty-one of those arrested took guilty pleas.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed an Alabama court by unanimously agreeing to recognize a lesbian couple’s legal adoption of a child in Georgia. The couple has separated, and the one who gave birth to three children argued that Georgia was wrong in granting joint custody to her former partner. Justices required that Alabama must give “full faith and credit” to another state’s court decision. Thirty states grant “second-parent adoptions” to same-gender couples through laws or court rulings. Hundreds of thousands of adoptions have been granted since the mid-1980s, and approximately 65,000 adopted children live with a lesbian or gay parent.

By not hearing an appeal from a Hawaii B&B, the high court ended a 12-year-old lawsuit. A lesbian couple won their suit after they were turned away from the lodging because of their sexual orientation. The decision may affirm non-discrimination laws against Q people despite “religious freedom” claims.

The second blow against Monsanto, this one a unanimous decision from a federal jury that weedkiller Roundup was a large factor in causing a man’s cancer, might end up in over 4,000 lawsuits against the company. A second phase of the trial concerns whether Monsanto is responsible. Another cancer patient was awarded $78 million. Recent analysis of glyphosate, an ingredient in Roundup, shows that the EPA was wrong in declaring it safe by disregarding the scientific evidence about its carcinogenic dangers.

DDT sees most of his policies knocked down by federal judges because they don’t meet minimums of legal reasoning. Normal win rate is 70 percent; DDT’s rate is 6 percent. Judges point out that policies lack legitimate explanations for policy shifts, facts, and public input while putting ideology over governance.

German officials have called for the expulsion of U.S. Ambassador to Germany, DDT-appointed Richard Grenell, for his interference in Germany’s politics. Wolfgang Kubicki, speaker of Germany’s Bundestag, asked the German foreign minister to “declare Richard Grenell persona non grata immediately.” Carsten Schneider, parliamentary manager of the Social Democrats Party, said Grenell is a “total diplomatic failure” who was acting like a “brat.” Grenell claims he wants to “empower” conservative movements in Europe, threatens sanctions regarding a German-backed pipeline, and urges German companies to stop operations in Iran.

Marine commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, told acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan that DDT’s deployments of troops to the southern border posed “unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.” Neller also wrote that the “unplanned/unbudgeted” deployment and funding shifts to support border security forced him to cancel or reduce planned military training in at least five countries and delay urgent repairs at bases. According to Neller, hurricanes severely damaged Marine Corps facilities and housing in North Carolina and Georgia, and Marines are already short $1.3 billion for recovery operations requiring service members to work “in compromised structures” as hurricane season is three months away. In their testimony next week before the House Armed Services Committee, Shanahan and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, may be asked questions about Neller’s statements.

DDT’s new privatized VA program is so flawed that it threatens to disrupt health care for about 75,000 veterans every day, according to an independent study from U.S. Digital Service, hired to help federal agencies improve their technology. The software to determine who is eligible for the program can lengthen each appointment by five to ten minutes by generating errors, running slowly, or crashing. The report also indicated that there is insufficient time to test the tool and address errors. Last year, the VA’s software caused veterans to be evicted and ruined their credit scores. Last year, three men from Mar-a-Lago oversaw the IT division because it lacked a permanent chief.

The Republicans in some states are trying to put DDT on the ballot in the general election with no primary, but 18 states are considering legislation that would keep candidates for president and VP off the 2020 general election ballots if they don’t release their income tax returns.

DDT’s approval rating from the conservative Gallup poll is back down to 39 percent in the first half of March. Not a good week for DDT.

March 15, 2019

DDT Promises Violence If Investigations Continue

During Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee, the former fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) warned of violent consequences if DDT doesn’t get elected president. He said:

“I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

DDT may be moving up the timeline. He began promoting violence at an August 2016 rally in North Carolina when he said that “the Second Amendment people” might have a way to stop Hillary Clinton “if she gets to pick her judges.” He continued his call for violence since he was inaugurated with his statement about “tough people” like “law enforcement, military, construction workers, Bikers for Trump,” adding that he hopes they stay peaceful. Since then he has used the same subtle statement, but he was much stronger in calling for violence in an interview with the far-right Breitbart website. Referring to the same “tough people” in talking about investigations into him, DDT added, “They don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” [Photo from a Bikers for Trump event at his Bedminster (NJ) golf resort on August 11, 2018; image by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images.]

The calls for violence go beyond promising to pay for his audience’s lawyers if they initiate violence against protesters to the point of claiming that he will order violence from armed military and allies to physically defend himself against “Democrats” who investigate him.

As the investigations accelerate, especially after the Democratic control of the House, DDT’s terror about investigations become more manifest, for example this morning’s tweet that “there should be no Mueller report.” DDT may also have made Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin afraid of him. In the past, Mnuchin has said that he will comply with the law if members of Congress legally request DDT’s tax returns. During a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin added that “we will protect the president” to his earlier claim that he will “follow the law.” The two statements are opposite because the law states he will “furnish” the returns upon request of the committee’s chair.

Current White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has told Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) that two of DDT-associated attorneys, former White House Deputy Counsel Stefan Passantino and his personal attorney Sheri Dillon, won’t be available to the House Oversight Committee. Cummings said that the two attorneys “may have provided false information” about hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

Cohen has given the House Intelligence Committee documents about DDT’s secret deal-making with Russia over a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow and returned to testify. The documents show edits to the false written statement he submitted to Congress in 2017 made by DDT’s lawyer Jay Sekulow, who encouraged Cohen to lie under oath. Cohen also claims that attorney Abbe Lowell, representing Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, had also reviewed his 2017 statements to Congress. Sekulow denied that DDT’s lawyers had either reviewed or changed Cohen’s earlier testimony. Cohen’s earlier testimony already implicated DDT in at least 11 separate felonies:

Russia Conspiracy Case: Links to hacked Democratic emails stolen by Russian spies.

Lying to Mueller: Falsehoods in writing from DDT about his conversation with Roger Stone regarding the hacked emails.

Suborning Perjury: Orders to Cohen that he lie to Congress under oath about trying to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign and DDT’s personal lawyers who “reviewed and edited” Cohen’s congressional statement before submission, including the “length of time that the Trump Tower Moscow project stayed and remained alive.”

Campaign Finance Violations: DDT’s directive to organize hush-money payments during the campaign with evidence from a check signed by DDT for reimbursement of payout to Stormy Daniels.

Election Fraud: Hush-money payments to silence women and conceal DDT’s affairs from the voters that thwarted a fair election.

Insurance Fraud: DDT’s false claims to insurance companies that inflated the size of his assets in a ploy to reduce his premiums. [Visual on desktop]

Witness Tampering: DDT’s threatening intimidation of Cohen to “persuade” him from testifying against DDT.

Bank Fraud: DDT’s inflation of personal wealth while trying to borrow money from Deutsche Bank in a failed attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014. (Cohen said that DDT almost doubled his statement of finances by claiming that putting his name on anything is worth $4 billion.)

Tax Fraud: DDT’s deflation of “assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” for example claiming that he claimed, for tax purposes, that the National Golf Club Jupiter in Florida was worth “no more than $5 million” when he valued it at over $50 million on his financial disclosure forms. (The New York Times’ investigation found DDT “participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud.”

Financial Disclosure: The conspiracy of false accounting entries of the Trump Organization by DDT’s failure to disclose his debt to Cohen for making the hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, probably to conceal the reimbursement.

Misusing Charitable Funds: DDT’s use of his charity’s money to buy a painting of himself after driving up the bid and then keeping the painting.

And More Undisclosed Crimes: Criminal allegations from prosecutors for the Southern District of New York about additional lines of investigation.

The New York attorney general’s office subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for financing records connected to four of DDT’s business projects in Washington, DC, Chicago, and outside as well as failure to buy the NFL Buffalo Bills in 2014. Michael Cohen, DDT’s former fixer, has suggested that DDT illegally inflated and deflated his personal wealth for gain. In 2011 and 2012, for example, DDT’s debt load may have seemed smaller on his Statements of Financial Condition because he omitted a Chicago hotel with a high debt. Fraud against financial institutions is fraudulent and one of the convictions for Paul Manafort and part of Cohen’s prison term.

Democrats in the House continued to terrify DDT, recently with the hire of a former Manhattan prosecutor who specialized in Russian organized crime. Daniel Goldman will be working for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) who is coordinating with House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) to investigate DDT’s relationship with Deutsche Bank which has paid multimillion-dollar penalties for working with Russian money launderers.

Some current House inquiries and requested sources for testimonies:

Campaign finance from illegal donations: Michael Cohen

Russian interference in the 2016 election and collusion with DDT’s campaign: Felix Sater (DDT’s Russian born business partner the mafia ties)

Family separation of migrants on the southern border from DHS’s “zero tolerance” policy: Kirstjen Nielsen (DHS Secretary), Bill Barr (AG), and Alex Azar (HHS)

Obstruction of justice: Donald Trump Jr. and 80 others

Security clearances: White House

Shutdown and its affect on the Coast Guard, Indian Country, damage to public lands, and delayed back pay

DDT’s tax returns: Steve Mnuchin (Treasury Secretary)

Trump Organization, including possible money laundering, mismanagement of charitable funds, and revenue from its DC hotel violating the Constitution

Ethics violations such as activities by former EPA director Scott Pruitt, HHS Tom Price, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as well as current expenditures

Census attempt to add a citizen question: Wilbur Ross, who committed perjury but no Republican called him a liar

Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Don Beyer Jr. (D-VA) have also referred Jared Kushner to the DOJ for investigation because of his false statements on security clearance applications and in public interviews.

The Senate is also looking into DDT’s security clearances. After discovering that DDT overruled security clearances about 30 times, Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are introducing the Integrity in Security Clearance Determinations Act to stop this abuse. Among the 30 are the clearances DDT gave to daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner after they failed FBI checks but politically retaliated against former CIA John Brennan by removing his clearance because Brennan criticized him.

The House must be doing the right things. Fox network, the same one that squashed the story about the Stormy Daniels affair before the 2016 election, is pushing to get rid of five of these investigations.

As Rafi Schwartz wrote, “It says a lot about the state of the country when the President of the United States can make a laudatory, if oblique, reference to having fascist goon squads commit violence on his behalf, and it’s not the biggest headline of the day.”

March 4, 2019

State TV Fox Tied to DDT, Vice Versa

For several years, people have noted the close relationship between Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Fox network as the faux news network has remained a combination of propagandist and feeder of falsities to the man inaugurated over two years ago. DDT has given Fox 44 exclusive interviews, with the number accelerating. In the past six months, DDT has tweeted over 200 Fox items to his 58 million followers. In the New Yorker, journalist and author Jane Mayer has detailed the relationship between DDT and Fox in an 11,000-word essay.

Instead of reflecting the news, Fox radicalizes the people with its fear-mongering. Conservative pundit Bill Kristol, employed by Fox as a contributor until 2012, said, “Before [Trump], it was conservative, but it wasn’t crazy. Now it’s just propaganda.” Sean Hannity has long been known as a confidant for DDT, often freely appearing at his dramatized events to toss him easy questions and one of the nightly triumvirate with Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham to scream over guest statements opposing DDT. Called the Shadow Chief of Staff, Hannity talks to DDT every night after his show. Fox Business hosts Pete Hegseth and Lou Dobbs offer DDT policy advice in the Oval Office. DDT thinks of hosts of Fox & Friends as his personal friends, and they pander to him with unvetted ideas.

Former Fox employees hired in the White House such as disgraced Bill Shine, former head of Fox News’ programming division, further burnish the Fox’s image with DDT devotees. Fox currently pays Shine while he collects his paycheck from taxpayers as part of the coordinated work between DDT and Fox. Former Fox contributors include HUD Secretary Ben Carson, national security adviser John Bolton, former deputy national-security adviser K.T. McFarland, and recently resigned UN Ambassador Heather Nauert. Donald Trump Jr., girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who also left Fox in disgrace works on DDT’s reelection campaign. Hope Hicks, DDT’s formers head of communications, went to Fox, and others such as Sebastian Gorka, are regularly on Fox. [Fox separated from Gorka as of this article’s publication.]

DDT’s political rise matched a shift in tone at Fox. Early on, CEO Roger Ailes opposed Fox being a shill for the Tea Party, but owner Rupert Murdoch created an audience that became the “party of Trump.” Before DDT, Fox ridiculed birtherism, Bill O’Reilly described its promoters as “unhinged,” and Glenn Beck, who hosted a Fox show until he went over the conspiracy edge, called them “idiots.” DDT made birtherism respectable, and Hannity got his way to promote the extremist far-right party. He described President Obama’s negotiations with North Korea “disturbing” but called DDT’s failed efforts a “huge foreign-policy win.” Fox built its audience by elevating Benghazi far above other embassy ambushes causing deaths in its constant attack on then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Hannity appeared on stage at a DDT rally with little objection from Fox. Murdoch went from correcting DDT by tweeting that “Mexican immigrants, as with all immigrants, have much lower crime rates than native born” to tolerating Fox’s frequent diatribes about hordes of “illegal aliens.” Murdoch and DDT are both about the bottom line and ratings.

Megyn Kelly asked DDT “tough” questions in the Fox-sponsored presidential debate, but insiders said that Ailes alerted DDT about the questions. Kelly wrote in Settle for More that DDT called Fox executives the day before the campaign to complain about her “very pointed question directed at him.” After the debate, DDT boycotted Fox, driving down until ratings until Ailes groveled.

During the summer when DDT became the GOP presidential candidate, Ailes’ sexual misconduct forced him out, and he joined DDT’s debate team. Fox gained two Ailes loyalists, Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine, as co-presidents who turned the network over to DDT propaganda, furthering empowering him and Hannity. At 85, Murdoch claimed the CEO position, but insiders reported that after his serious health issues, “the lunatics took over the asylum.” During DDT’s campaign, a Fox reporter confirmed the story about his affair in 2006 with Stormy Daniels, but Fox editors denied her going public. She told colleagues that Ken LaCorte, then head of FoxNews.com said, “Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.” The same reporter kept digging and discovered that the National Enquirer made a “catch and kill” deal with Daniels in which the tabloid bought the exclusive rights to story before it buried the information.

The story went public when the Wall Street Journal published the details about Daniels and the Enguirer, a year after DDT was inaugurated. The reporter was demoted, she sued the network, and her settlement includes a nondisclosure agreement banning her from talking about her work at Fox. LaCorte, still paid by Fox after he left, said that he squashed the story without talking to superiors because it hadn’t “passed muster.” Blogger Nik Richie called him out for being a “LIAR,” tweeting that he “was one of your sources.” Richie voted for DDT, but he thinks that the story would have swung the election.

Part of Shine’s job at Fox was to handle sexual misconduct complaints. Any woman who complained was gently treated unless she persevered, when Shine would warn her that her career would be destroyed. At least four civil lawsuits against Fox name Shine as defendant, and Fox settled on in 2017 for $90 million. That suit claims Fox spent $55 million to settle sexual harassment claims out of court. Shine was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in a Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s investigation into company funds for these payoffs, but Shine agreed to interviews by prosecutors. The investigation disappeared after Ailes death in May 2017, but Shine was his enabler as shown by payments he signed to accusers’ settlements.

Under Shine’s leadership in 2017, Fox and O’Reilly paid $13 million to five female employees accusing him of sexual misconduct with a sixth $32 million payment in negotiation. After advertiser boycotts and street demonstrations, Fox fired O’Reilly and then Shine. Hannity became Fox’s top-rated star and highest-profile DDT promoter and helped Shine get a job as White House communications director and deputy chief of staff.

DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has always been close to Murdoch, but Murdoch made up with DDT after calling him “a f**king idiot” to benefit from specialized treatment for his business interests.

  • DDT’s administration approved Fox’s sale of most of its entertainment assets to Disney for $71 billion, with the Murdoch family getting $2 billion and becoming a major stockholder in the combined company that accounts for half the box-office revenue in the United States.  DDT promised the creation of jobs from the deal that has resulted in thousands of layoffs.
  • DDT’s FCC blocked Sinclair Broadcast Group, more conservative than Fox, from buying Tribune Media Company that would have given Sinclair access to 72 percent of the U.S. population.
  • DDT’s DOJ stopped AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, owner of CNN, after Murdoch failed to buy Time Warner in 2014. A sweetener for DDT was retaliation against CNN, DDT’s most hated media source. Although DDT claimed that he was “not going to get involved,” he ordered Gary Cohn, then director of the National Economic Council, to pressure the DOJ to intervene in the sale although Cohn knew that DDT’s action was inappropriate for a sitting president and refused. A federal court has ruled against the DOJ and permitted the $85 billion merger—for the second time. [Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said that a president has the right to punish the media by blocking this merger.]

The more DDT does for Murdoch, the more Fox does for DDT. Yochai Benkler, a Harvard Law School professor who co-directs the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, said, “Fox’s most important role since the election has been to keep Trump supporters in line.” According to Fox, the only collusion is between Clinton and Russia,  the special investigator is perpetrating a “coup” by the “deep state,” DDT and his associates aren’t corrupt, U.S. courts are corrupt, illegal immigration is an invasion and not at a 15-year low, and all news organizations offering perspectives different from these are “enemies of the American people.” Benkler, author with Robert Faris and Hal Robert of Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation and Radicalization in American Politics, said:

“It’s not the right versus the left. It’s the right versus the rest.”

Conservative media outlets focus on confirmation of the audience’s biases and provide propaganda and lies that spread uncorrected to Fox because viewers hate for falsehoods to be disclosed. Fox fired Glenn Beck for baseless conspiracy theories, but Hannity is rewarded for them. Only boycotts of Fox advertisers forced Hannity to drop his conspiracy accusations about murdered Democratic staffer Seth Rich.

Alisyn Camerota, former co-host of Fox & Friends, quit because of its lack of standards and wrote the novel Amanda Wakes Up about propaganda on a cable morning show. She said that the show’s producers would “cull far-right, crackpot Web sites” for content and never bothered with second sources. The primary standard was that “this is going to outrage the audience!” Guilfoyle got her information from an avid fan who sent her content for her topics such as “physically weak men” are “more likely to be socialists.”

Matt Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters, thinks that Fox drives DDT more than the reverse. A recent example how DDT caused the 35-day shutdown and declared a national emergency because of Fox ridicule.

“The President’s world view is being specifically shaped by what he sees on Fox News, but Fox’s goals are ratings and money, which they get by maximizing rage. It’s not a message that is going to serve the rest of the country.”

Fox’s problem comes from its one-pony show of DDT to make money, and ratings fall when he looks bad. Fox’s evening ratings have dropped by 20 percent since the midterms with only a spike for DDT’s interview after Michael Cohen’s testimony. A change may be in the wind: much smaller since the Disney sale, Fox will be supervised by conservative Lachlan Murdoch who might move to center right. The test could be the release of Robert Mueller’s findings. At this time, Fox’s hosts and guests are swearing war. The question is whether Fox wants to start the war.

The most frightening part of Jane Mayer’s detailed look at the authoritarian DDT and Fox network is that it’s not as shocking as it should be for a country that prides itself on being a democracy.

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