Nel's New Day

November 2, 2019

DDT: Week 145 – More GOP Destruction One Year before 2020 Election

Republicans got their wish: the House voted 232-196, mostly along party lines, for impeachment. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the Intelligence Committee, said that testimony transcripts will be released and open hearings televised as soon as possible. He’s waiting for testimony from eight more witnesses, some of whom have refused. More damaging information against DDT emerged from his possibly extorting Ukraine earlier in a Rudy Giuliani-brokered deal to block support for Robert Mueller’s investigation into Paul Manafort. 

After the death of Abu Bakr Baghdadi from a U.S. raid, ISIS has named a replacement for its leadership, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. The statement also announced the death of Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, al-Baghdadi’s close aide, in a joint U.S.-Kurd operation hours after al-Baghdadi’s death. The new leader is identified as a scholar, warrior, and “emir or war.”

Documents about the FBI search into Brett Kavanagh before his hearings for Supreme Court justice reveal that only superficial information was provided because FBI discoveries were “unquestionably private” and “could subject Judge Kavanaugh and others to harassment or embarrassment in their private lives.” The FBI made the decision about whether the information would “concern the performance of his public duties.”

Kavanaugh may have set the MO for crying during confirmation hearings. Lawrence VanDyke broke down after hearing an evaluation of him from the American Bar Association that he is “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules…. [He] lacks humility, has an “entitlement” temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.” Republican senators responded by attacking the ABA. 

DDT planned to sign a first-step trade deal with China at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Santiago in mid-November. President Sebastián Piñera has canceled this summit and another one on the environment with other 100 international delegations, however, because of protest demonstrations opposing inequality. China has not agreed with DDT’s view of the deal, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is leading the U.S. delegation to two summits in Bangkok next week.

Macroeconomist Greg Mankiw, chair of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers and the most recent defector of “the party of Trump,” criticized congressional Republicans who “are willing, in the interest of protecting their jobs, to overlook Trump’s misdeeds.” He plans to vote for a “center-left” Democratic presidential candidate to prevent DDT’s reelection.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), a prominent House leader, became the 21st GOP member of Congress, not including Pennsylvania’s Tom Marino who left after two weeks, to announce that he will not run for reelection, compared with just seven Democrats. One of 17 GOP House members forgoing candidacy, Walden is one of five Republicans in a senior committee position to announce retirement. The current GOP bailout loses women and minorities along with the Texas exodus—called the Texodus. One of the two departing GOP women from the 13-female contingent in the House is responsible for GOP’s House candidate recruitment for 2020.

In the 115th Congress, two dozen GOP congressional members quit. Almost 40 percent of the 241 Republicans in office in January 2017 are gone or leaving because of election losses, retirements, or resignations.  

“Impeachment has become a terrible, terrible thorn in the side of the American democracy and the conduct of American government since Watergate,” Ken Starr said before he complained that DDT “is being held to a remarkable standard” in which we are “over-criminalizing the conduct of the business of government.” For four years, Starr investigated Clinton for the House Judiciary Committee and prepared a report that provided the catalyst for Clinton’s the impeachment for lying about oral sex in a civil deposition. Starr accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of having a conflict of interest in wanting to be president although Starr said nothing about Newt Gingrich who was in charge of impeaching Clinton. Since Starr’s resignation from public life, he has supported perpetrators in sexual scandals. 

First DDT wanted to get rid of insurance; now he’s eradicating protections for diseases. Under George W. Bush, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) created Predict, a program to track and research deadly diseases such as Ebola, the H5N1 bird flu, and HIV. In 14 years, Predict cost $207 million to collect over 100,000 samples and find almost 1,000 novel animal-originating viruses. This identification can reduce disease transmission and reveal precursors of a new illness to prevent another pandemic. Researchers warn that a flu like the 1918 outbreak could kill 50 million to 80 million people. As the resurgence of measles demonstrates, diseases know no national borders. Under DDT, the program “collapsed.”

DDT is celebrating National Adoption Month by discriminating against LGBTQ people. HHS proposed rule will allow adoption and foster care agencies to reject LGBTQ families as well as permit them to refuse organizations receiving taxpayer money to refuse to serve LGBTQ people. The rule change would also permit all HHS grant recipients to discriminate, including public health ones such as HIV, STI, and opioid addiction programs. Other programs receiving taxpayer funding permitted to discriminate are youth homelessness, human trafficking, and pre-K education.

In Missouri, Randall Williams, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, keeps a spreadsheet of the times of menstruation for women who terminated their pregnancy at the state’s one remaining abortion clinic. His information comes from medical records obtained during the state’s annual inspection, including dates of medical procedures. Earlier this year, Missouri passed a law, temporarily blocked in the courts, forbidding abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy with no exception for rape or incest. Missouri refuses to track opioid prescriptions and gun ownership because of privacy. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement also tracked the length of pregnancies and requests for abortions although a court ordered the department to stop blocking abortions for minors.

DDT promised GOP senators campaign money—specifically Joni Ernst (IA), Cory Gardner (CO), and Thom Tillis (NC)—if they oppose his impeachment. Next week, he’s hosting a fundraiser for David Perdue (GA). Richard Painter, George W. Bush’s lead ethics lawyer, calls it felony bribery.

The Keystone Pipeline, approved by DDT in 2017, spilled 383,000 gallons of oil in North Dakota. 

DDT has given immigration agents access to classified information from U.S. intelligence agencies, but migrants and others denied entry cannot see this evidence used against them.

The U.S. Army refuses to explain why they are discharging immigrant recruits who joined the military with the promise of an expedited path to citizenship.

DDT is again physically threatening “the left” by saying that he has “the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump” who will “play it tough” if they get “to a certain point. Then it would be very bad, very bad.” DDT may not know that today, International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, his State Department called for “an end to violence against media professionals.”

In possibly a new low for Fox, Tucker Carlson blamed the California fires on blacks and LGBTQ people hired by the utility PG&E, saying that the state is “not civilized anymore.”

People are sawing through DDT’s new border walls with a reciprocating saw costing about $100 while others are climbing the wall with makeshift ladders.

DDT promised to save the coal industry, but Murray Energy Corp., the largest underground coal mining company in the U.S., became the ninth coal producer to declare bankruptcy during DDT’s first 145 weeks.

Twitter will ban all ads about political candidates, elections and hot-button policy issues such as abortion and immigration; Mark Zuckerberg plans to make billions from GOP lies in publishing their lying advertisements.

One year from Election Day 2020, some polling:

Only 26 percent of voters think that DDT doesn’t need to comply with subpoenas. 

81 percent of Republicans think that soliciting foreign interference is wrong

Only 26 percent of suburban women, a strong DDT support in 2016, approve of him, and 88 percent of them, ten percent more than in 2016, plan to vote in 2020.

47 percent of likely voters, including 51 percent of independent voters, plan to vote against DDT.  

Only 74 percent of Republicans, down 13 points in three months, approve of DDT.

49 percent of people think that DDT should be impeached and removed from office; 47 percent say not.

38 percent of people approve of DDT while 58 percent disapprove of his job performance.

DDT filed paperwork request the change of his permanent residence from New York to Florida that has no state income tax or inheritance tax. Moving won’t stop the New York lawsuits into his alleged tax fraud. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “It’s not like Mr. Trump paid taxes here anyway. He’s all yours, Florida.”

A Daily Mail reporter documented the filth and other dismaying conditions of DDT’s Doral resort in Miami. It’s for those with a strong stomach who are not eating while seeing the photographs. Acting chief of staff claimed that of the ten places considered for the G7 Summit in 2020, that the Doral was the “best option.” One shudders to think about the conditions of the other ones.

October 27, 2019

DDT: Week 144 – Disasters Grow

Last week ended with more bad news for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) after Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, testified on Saturday. Like others, he said he saw top DDT officials stopping their support for former U.S. ambassador for Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, after DDT took her out of Ukraine. About his testimony, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said, “It’s a much richer reservoir of information that we originally expected.”

DDT’s chief argument for blocking subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry was that there is no inquiry. A federal judge disagreed, ruling that the House had launched “an official impeachment inquiry” because “a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry.”  AG Bill Barr has also been ordered to turn over grand jury material he redacted in Robert Mueller’s final report by October 30. Beryl Howell, chief judge for the Washington, D.C. district court, responded to the DOJ claim barring “disclosure to the Congress of grand jury information” by declaring, “DOJ is wrong.”

A month into the impeachment inquiry, DDT becomes increasingly frustrated with his inability to block subpoenas. Earlier, he said that only “crooks” need a “war room” to defend themselves from impeachment, but he has brought back Jane and Marty Raskin, criminal defense attorneys who were part of his legal team during the Mueller investigation. White House officials are also having regular impeachment strategy meetings and discussing the possibility of hiring a veteran lawyer with impeachment experience and a communications strategist.

Depositions this coming week:

  • Monday – Former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman. (He has asked a court to rule on whether he should after receiving his subpoena.)
  • Tuesday – Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top expert on Ukraine.
  • Wednesday – Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of defense for international security.
  • Thursday – Tim Morrison, a White House adviser on Russia and Europe.

More reports show DDT’s responsibility for deaths in Ukraine because he held up military aid for personal political reasons. Russia has been firing artillery shells at Ukrainian soldiers in rural areas in spite of the Moscow-signed ceasefire. In one case, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and another eight injured. Approximately 13,000 people, one-fourth of them civilians, have been killed since 2014 when Russia illegally annexed Crimea and started a separatist uprising in Donbass. The death rate in Donbass dropped after $1.5 billion in U.S. military aid. The congressionally-approved $391 million was designated not only for weapons but also for defensive systems against Russian artillery attacks. DDT’s indifference about saving lives in Ukraine is like his abandonment of Kurdish allies so that Turks could kill them.

DDT’s high point is killing people. “He died like a dog,” crowed DDT about the U.S. military killing ISIS leader Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria last night and continued with a gleeful description of the death. CNBC reporter John Harwood tweeted, “Trump relishes describing ghastly violence.” Once again, DDT violated protocol by not notifying Democratic congressional leaders of his raid but did tell Russia before the attack. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) demanded a briefing on DDT’s action. Although the Kurds were instrumental in the attack on al-Baghdadi, DDT gave Russia and Iraq credit without their taking part. Before President Obama’s raid that killed Osama bin Laden, he informed leaders of both parties. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that there were no recorded airstrikes in the Idlib zone on Saturday where the operation is said to have taken place and that al-Baghdadi’s presence there was unlikely because the area is controlled by either Syria or a rival al-Qaeda. Al-Baghdadi’s death has been reported at other times.

Despite the possibility of al-Baghdadi’s death, impeachment still looms large over DDT with past officials’ negative interviews. Yesterday, former acting chief of staff John Kelly told a conference audience at the conservative Sea Island Summit that he had warned DDT:

“Whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man’—someone who won’t tell you the truth. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached.”

DDT denied that Kelly “said that.” He accused Kelly of wanting “to come back into the action like everybody else.” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that Kelly “was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President.” Yes man Mick Mulvaney replaced Kelly, and DDT isn’t happy with him either. He snapped at him in front of his aides when Mulvaney reminded him of the Hatch Act, prohibiting all executive branch employees except DDT from using their positions for political activities, and called Mulvaney “weak.” In dictator fashion, DDT said, “I’m in charge of the Hatch Act,” meaning that people don’t need to follow the law.

A month ago, DDT floated the idea of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Liddell as his chief of staff. DDT also suggested Kellyanne Conway as a possibility. Others one the list for his “yes man” chief of staff are former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and veteran political operative Wayne Berman.

DDT’s advisers are also trying to push out Mulvaney. Fox’s Sean Hannity called him “dumb” and “interpretation of things,” “idiotic.” Fox’s Lou Dobbs called Mulvaney’s press conference “thoroughly confusing” and that it “seemed to contradict what the president has said.” Mulvaney may have been “dumb” when he defended Trump’s selection of Doral for the G7 Summit, now rescinded, by saying that DDT still thinks of himself as working in the “hospitality business.” 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may also be moving on. DDT was upset that he hired acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, who testified about the quid pro quo.  

DDT can hire anyone for chief of staff, but he’s restricted in his appointees for agency directors. Ken Cuccinelli is out as head of the DHS after Kevin McAleenan left because he hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate for any position and hasn’t been at the agency for 90 days before the vacancy. Immigration is currently such a hot potato that infighting about McAleenan’s replacement will make DDT’s life worse. DHS has had four DHS secretaries in less than three years.  

Rick Perry, totally inadequate for the position of Energy Secretary, is gone, and DDT found another lobbyist to add to his Cabinet. DDT picked Dan Brouillette, top lobbyist for Ford Motor Company, to replace Perry one month after he told an audience, “We stared down the unholy alliance of lobbyists and donors and special interests, who made a living bleeding our country dry. That’s what we’ve done.” He does stare them down in his Cabinet meetings—secretaries of Defense, EPA, HHS, Labor, Interior, and now Energy.

DDT repeatedly claimed that he opposes corruption, but his own affairs indicate that corruption begins at home. Earlier this year, the U.S. Marshals Service awarded a $33 million contract to CertiPath, owned in part by DDT’s younger brother, Robert Trump. The company failed to disclose that DDT’s close relative will benefit financially. Protests led to a “stop work order” on the contract.   

When the Pentagon picked Microsoft instead of Amazon for its new $10 billion cloud computing contract, the military may have proved Jim Mattis’ claim that DDT had called the former defense secretary and ordered him to “screw Amazon” as part of DDT’s ongoing vendetta against Jeff Bezos, owner of both Amazon and Washington Post. Mattis refused, saying that the bid procedure “will be done by the book, both legally and ethically.” DDT fired Mattis six months after the altercation.

Mystery traders made $1.8 billion from stock purchases placed hours before DDT tweeted talks with China were “back on track” at the G20 meeting in June. Other trades are netting people in the know, one just before Iranian drones attacked Saudi Arabian oil production facilities ($180 million) and another made shortly before DDT announced a delay in tariffs on Chinese goods ($190 million). Democrats are seeking a probe into the suspicious stock trades connected to DDT’s statements.  

Two top HUD officials admitted at a congressional hearing that the agency deliberately and illegally missed a legally required deadline to make billions of desperately needed hurricane relief funding available to Puerto Rico. They managed to issue funding notices to 18 states by the deadline and published all notices except Puerto Rico.

DDT’s administration is also blocking the report from an interagency working group that describes environmental risks for low income communities. Of the multiple agencies required to file annual progress reports about actions each one takes to address environmental justice, only four have done so, and most haven’t updated environmental justice strategic plans.

The National Archives is investigating Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross‘ use of private email for official business, discussions with the European Commission for Trade, a U.S. ambassador’s meeting with German car manufacturers, a dinner with the ambassador of Japan, an event related to billionaire businessman Bill Koch, and meeting requests from a far-right Internet troll.

DDT’s highly touted whistleblower protection office at the VA was designed to punish whistleblowers and held no wrongdoers accountable. it shelled out over $300,000 last month on ineffective and at times irrelevant training for its staff who work on misconduct and whistleblower retaliation allegations.

More corruption tomorrow!

October 10, 2019

Corruption Begins at Home

With his current obsession in investigating corruption, which he claimed after the extortion call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) needs to look closer to home.

Today, two men who worked with DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested as they tried to board a plane to Vienna at Dulles airport near Washington, DC on charges of conspiring to skirt federal laws that prohibit foreign nationals from contributing to US campaigns. They allegedly laundered foreign money with corporate identities and “straw donors” in “secret agreements” to hide the plan from candidates and federal regulators. Parnas and Fruman had one-way tickets, and Giuliani had planned to fly there last night. He refused to comment other than he didn’t plan to meet with them there. DDT said, “I don’t know those gentlemen.” Parnas had posted photos of his dinner with DDT at the White House on May 1, 2018 that have since been pulled. [From left: Vice President Mike Pence, Igor Fruman, Lev Parnas, President Donald Trump, and Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani – Miami Herald]

Two other defendants, Andrey Kukushkin and Parnas’ longtime partner David Correia, a longtime business partner of Parnas, were also indicted on the same charges while allegedly working with Parnas and Fruman. Kukushkin was arrested last night in San Francisco. Bill Sweeney, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said that “this investigation is about corrupt behavior, deliberate lawbreaking.” Paul Manafort’s lawyers are representing Parnas and Fruman.

House Democrats had subpoenaed Parnas and Fruman for documents and testimony after they refused to voluntarily appear before House committees.  Both men are immigrants, Parnas from Ukraine and Fruman from Belarus. Parnas also worked with Guiliani to push falsehoods that Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 election on the part of Hillary Clinton.

Parnas’ involvement in the Ukraine scandal seems to go back to the beginning with his job as Giuliani’s fixer, the man who connected Giuliani to Ukrainian prosecutors willing to do bogus investigations on Joe and Hunter Biden. Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his district in 2018, is also involved with Parnas. Sessions received money from Parnas for his campaign and wrote Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to ask that Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch be recalled to Washington, DC because she wouldn’t pressure Ukrainians for the investigations. Parnas also donated to campaigns for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), and Florida GOP governor Ron Desantis. Sessions had been considering a run for a district 100 miles away from his old one.

Parnas’ company is called Fraud Guarantee.

Another Ukrainian player is Rick Perry, who urged Ukraine to fire the board of state-owned gas company Naftagaz and replace them with big U.S. donors to GOP campaigns. Parnas and Fruman, in partnership with oil magnate Harry Sargeant III, wanted to import natural gas to Ukraine. Sargeant told a senior executive at the gas company that he “regularly meets with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and that the gas-sales plan had the president’s full support.” The executive “perceived it to be a shakedown.” Parnas said that Yovanovitch would be removed, and Giuliani told reporters, “I did play a role in that.” Perry, who plans to resign soon, has been subpoenaed about his involvement in the Ukrainian scandal.

DDT said that if Zelensky wanted to meet with him, they should circumvent official diplomatic channels and go strictly through Giuliani, who created a more direct role than earlier known. Monday, Fiona Hill, DDT’s former Senior Director for European and Russian affairs, plans to testify that Giuliani and EU ambassador Gordon Sondland circumvented the NSC and normal White House process to run a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine. DDT had appointed Sonderland to perform ambassador responsibilities in Ukraine although the nation is not in the European Union and then blocked him from testifying before the House. He tried to do the same for Parnas and Fruman and lied about their working for the White House before he denied knowing them.

Other Corruption Tidbits:

DDT’s former national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said it was “absolutely not” appropriate for Mr. Trump to seek help from foreign powers for an election.

The eight-page letter written to House Democrats in an attempt to stop impeachment includes more quid pro quo in DDT’s “art of the deal.” Pat Cipollene wrote that if House Democrats “return to the regular order of oversight requests, we stand ready to engage in that process,” and ends by asking House Democrats to “abandon the current invalid efforts to pursue an impeachment inquiry and join the President in focusing on the many important goals that matter to the American people.” Earlier, DDT threatened Congress to shut down legislation, forgetting that if he refuses to either sign or veto a bill, it goes into law.

DDT is finally taking an interest in congressional affairs, calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) three times a day in an attempt to lock down GOP loyalty in case of impeachment.  

At least four national security officials raised concerns about DDT’s call with Zelensky that pressured Ukraine in exchange for DDT’s “favors.” Their worries began with Yovanovitch’s recall from Ukraine and continued with Giuliani’s promotion of Ukrainian conspiracies and DDT’s statements in White House meetings that he wanted damaging information on Biden. People who listened to the July 25 telephone call between DDT and Zelensky said that “alarm bells were kind of ringing.”

Former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), released from Fox network for his plans to join DDT’s legal impeachment team, won’t be part of the group until January—if ever. DDT said that lobby rules prevent Gowdy from joining until next year. NYT Maggie Haberman questions the reason. She tweeted:

 “Someone in West Wing badly wanted a win internally and put out Gowdy before it was a done deal. So it was quickly done yesterday and then had to be undone.”

DDT assigned his politically appointed official Michael Duffey the authority to withhold $391 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine because career staff questioned the legality of delaying funds.

In an interview with Bob Schieffer, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talked about how DDT tried to break the law. In one of the times, DDT pushed Tillerson to persuade DOJ to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader, Giuliani’s client for money laundering. Tillerson refused to interfere in the ongoing investigation of Reza Zarrab and reported his objections to then-chief of Staff John Kelly. When asked if he talked to DDT about Zarrab, Giuliani said “So what [if I did].” Asked if he had talked to Tillerson, Giuliani said, “You have no right to know that.”

Zarrab was arrested in 2016 for evading U.S. sanctions against Iran. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who DDT fired, wrote that Zarrab had “facilitated millions of dollars-worth of transactions on behalf of Iran . . . through a global network of companies located in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.” Bharara added that Zarrab was “engaged in a massive bribery scheme . . . paying cabinet-level [Turkish] governmental officials and high-level bank officers tens of millions of Euro and U.S. dollars” to facilitate his transactions. DDT’s interest in Zarrab ties into his facilitation of the Turkish invasion of the Kurds: the attempt at Zarrab’s release was another way that DDT could do a favor for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Republican lawmakers make themselves complicit by their silence, denial, of arguments that DDT’s behavior is wrong but not impeachable. The laws that DDT have broken could put anyone else in prison. For a start:

18 U.S. Code § 872, “Extortion by officers or employees of the United States”: “Whoever, being an officer, or employee of the United States or any department or agency thereof, or representing himself to be or assuming to act as such, under color or pretense of office or employment commits or attempts an act of extortion, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

2 U.S. Code § 192, “Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers”:  punishable by a year in prison.

In a bizarre twist to Turkey news, two Russian pranksters pretending to be Turkey’s minister of defense Hulusi Akar called Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham said that DDT would try to be helpful “within the limits of his power” to Erdogan on the case. Now criticizing DDT for abandoning “our Kurdish allies,” Graham also told the pranksters that Turkey’s “Kurdish problem is a big problem.” He continued by saying that Turkey needs to be “protected from this threat in Syria” and that both he and DDT are “sympathetic” to the problem. It is a big different from Graham’s criticism of DDT’s pulling the troops as “shortsighted and irresponsible.”

It’s a deep swamp, with many more stories to be uncovered. Republicans need to start their investigations at home.

October 9, 2019

DDT Kills Kurds, Fights Impeachment

This morning, Turkey invaded northeast Syria and attacked U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters who opposed ISIS, thanks to Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Turkish bombings put thousands of civilian lives at risk, and Kurds may have to release 10,000 imprisoned ISIS militants after DDT withdrew troops from the area. Russians are also mobilizing for invasion of the Kurdish area so that they can allow Iran to put its forces on Israel’s northern border. ISIS has already started bombing Kurdish military positions. DDT said that he wants to stop “endless, senseless wars,” but he just created another one. Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Saudi Arabia will pile on with Turkey, Russia, and the Kurds as DDT’s move gives Iran a chance to attack Israel and lose the evangelical vote for DDT.  

Instead of sending the 50 service members home, DDT moved them to another Middle East region. The U.S. launched the most airstrikes in Afghanistan during one month in about a decade, increased airstrikes in Libya, and continued its war in Somalia. 

Top officials in the Pentagon and the State Department recommended not removing the U.S. forces because the Kurds are the most reliable partners in fighting ISIS in that location. Last year, DDT’s threat to remove the forces caused his Defense Secretary James Mattis to resign. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), a former Marine who served in Iraq, called DDT’s current decision to abandon the Kurds “one of the most destabilizing moves we can do in the Middle East.”

A member of the National Security Council with firsthand knowledge of telephone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that DDT gave in to another authoritarian’s ranting. Furious with DDT’s snub at the UN last month, Erdoğan got his permission to invade Syria and visit DDT at the White House in November. DDT got nothing except “a state of increased danger [in national security] for decades to come,” according to the national security official. DDT consulted neither EU allies nor congressional members before his decision.

After the call, DDT said that he would sanction Turkey if it attacked the Kurds but made no claims about this to Erdoğan. Instead he tweeted:

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”

This tweet was not the only strange one: he said Russia will be unhappy about his withdrawal of troops. They won’t. About the Kurds, DDT tweeted that they “fought with us” but “were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.” About the Turkish attacks on Kurds, DDT mildly said it was a “bad idea.” Later he tweeted, “[The Kurds] didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy…” 

DDT made millions of dollars in profits from his Trump Towers in Istanbul, owned by Turkish conglomerate Dogan Holding, but four months ago, leaders of a major party in Turkey called for the government to seize the complex. The value of DDT’s name in Turkey has fallen in the past two years.  

The message across the world is that the U.S. will not meet their commitments and will not support its allies. In his regard for former allies, DDT wrote wasn’t worried about the escape of ISIS fighters because they’ll go to Europe. John Sipher, 28-year veteran in the CIA clandestine service including station chief in hot spots near Europe and Asia, said:

“Well, at least the Trump Administration is consistent. We are about screwing our allies, partners and friends. Don’t trust America, even if you shed blood on their behalf. If you want favors, build a Trump tower.”

Columnist Paul Krugman asked if DDT abandoned the Kurds because of (a) personal business interests in Turkey; (b) support of Erdoğan, another vicious autocrat; or (c) directions from his boss Vladimir Putin.

Even DDT’s GOP sycophants criticized DDT’s abandoning the Kurds to certain death. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called DDT’s actions “a disaster in the making.” He added, “ISIS is not defeated. This is the biggest lie being told by this administration.” Brian Kilmeade, co-host of Fox & Friends, echoed Graham’s term “disaster.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), in trouble for her strong support of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, stuck her neck out to declare DDT’s actions “a terribly unwise decision,” and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called it a “grave mistake.” Even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has supported DDT through thin and thin, told the government to “keep its word” with its foreign allies.

Senators now demand a hearing about DDT’s decision to withdraw troops in Syria, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that leaving the Kurds to Turkish slaughter might be wrong. He called on DDT to reconsider the plan and said that a Senate supermajority disagreed with DDT and withdrawal “would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime.”

With one impulsive moment, DDT abandoned an ally, emboldened Iran, revived ISIS, offended Israel, and infuriated Republicans. While being blasé about DDT’s extortion attempts in Ukraine and China to get dirt on Joe Biden, GOP lawmakers are horrified by DDT’s refusal to protect the nation’s Kurdish allies. Israel, also shocked by DDT’s move, understand that he is not to be trusted.

Facing the danger of impeachment and the Kurdish disaster leading to war in the Middle East, DDT went on a demented rant today at the White House against California’ auto-emission guidelines and the shift from incandescent to LED light bulbs and their disposal—all lies:

“Of course, who cares about looks? But you do look better with incandescent, but they weren’t allowed, and you have the privilege of buying now a much more expensive bulb, under the passed rules, much more expensive bulb that doesn’t have a good looking light, but maybe very importantly when the bulb is out, and not good, it’s literally considered a hazardous waste site because of all the gasses. If it breaks, you’re supposed to bring it to a certain location, and I say who does that? Nobody. Nobody.”

The impeachment inquiry keeps plugs along with a 58 percent approval—over twice the 25 percent that DDT claims. His latest attempt to quash the process is an eight-page emotional letter filled with falsehoods from White House counsel Pat Cipollone to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and three committee chairs. In short, Cipollone states that DDT is banning everyone and everything from Congress, in opposition to his claim of transparency and no wrong-doing with the excuse that following the U.S. Constitution is unconstitutional. DDT’s demands for the rights to see all the evidence and question all the witnesses shows his ignorance of the law. The constitution does not require a vote by the House to open an inquiry. Like a grand jury, the House looks at the evidence in secret and votes to decide on impeachment which, if approved, moves on to the Senate for an open trial.  

Cipollone accused Democrats that they are using impeachment to overturn the 2016 election and kill DDT’s chances for reelection in 2020. The absolutist position in the letter demonstrates DDT’s belief that Article II of the constitution gives him unlimited powers, like a king. DDT defender and former U.S. attorney Joe diGenova supported DDT’s delusions by accusing Democrats of “regicide,” killing a king. Last summer, DDT said, “Article II allows me to do whatever I want.” Section Four of Article II gives Congress the power to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Because impeachment is a constitutional remedy, it cannot be “unconstitutional.”

DDT’s defense plan for impeachment is to stall, obfuscate, attack, and repeat. The letter combines all four of these strategies. Former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who slammed President Obama for not turning over materials about the tragic deaths of four U.S. employees at Benghazi, is part of the team to prevent Congress from obtaining evidence. The Fox network has dropped Gowdy as a contributor.  At this time, DDT’s actions constitute obstruction of justice if not crimes. DDT keeps bragging about how he can’t be impeached because he’s “doing a great job” as president. Even if that were true—which it isn’t—he lost a great deal of cred by allowing Turkey to slaughter Kurds. China has refused to follow DDT’s directive to investigate the Bidens, and Republicans have no logical way to defend DDT. A second whistleblower negates criticism of the first one. And 24 percent of Republicans want an alternative to DDT. That percentage could grow.

A bad sign for DDT is a federal judge’s refusal to keep DDT’s tax returns hidden. The judge said that he could not grant such a “categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity.” DDT plans to challenge the order to release his tax returns to Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance.

In a Fox poll 55 percent think that DDT does what’s best for himself and doesn’t put the country first. This week, The New Yorker follows that belief in its illustration of DDT and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani throwing away the country.

October 5, 2019

DDT: Week 141 – Impeachment, Level 1

News about a presidential impeachment inquiry has escalated for 11 days, starting with the extortion of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to get “dirt” on Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for DDT’s releasing the $391 million congressional appropriation to Ukraine for its protection from Russian aggression. Outrage built after the DOJ and the Director of National Intelligence violated the law by refusing to release a whistleblower complaint about DDT’s “agreement” to Congress and expanded after public information about the proof in a July 25 telephone call between DDT and Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Against the advice of his advisers, DDT released the call’s “rough transcript,” which DDT falsely described as an “exact word-for-word transcript” but was labeled as “not a verbatim transcription.” Sen. Angus King (I-ME) pointed out that the released document was only ten minutes long whereas the call lasted 30 minutes. The document also contained punctuation indicating deleted information, particularly in the DDT’s questions about the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike and his assumption that Hillary Clinton’s “missing emails,” created by conspiracy theories, are hidden in Ukraine. Under the control of John Bolton, the actual telephone call transcript, along with many others, is buried in deepest classification computer server.

For over a week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hid the fact that he was on the July 25 call until that information leaked. That fact makes him a witness in the impeachment process. Pompeo then tried to obstruct justice by saying five subpoenaed State Department officials could not testify before House committees. They have not complied with his order.

Kurt Volker, who recently resigned as an envoy to Ukraine, has already testified. He told House members that he warned Ukraine to stay out of DDT’s and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s politics because it would be interfering in the U.S election and Giuliani that Ukrainian political figures were giving him untrustworthy information about the Bidens. Giuliani ignored him and supported Ukrainian corruption. He admitted that he tried to pass off his Ukraine conspiracy theories as real by putting put fake White House logos that he gave to the State Department. Giuliani got his lies about the Bidens from an affidavit provided to Dimtry Firtash, former business partner of Paul Manafort imprisoned for financial fraud, who fled Ukraine to Austria after pro-Russian President Victor Yanukovych was overthrown in 2014. Other people involved in Giuliani’s conspiracy theory are frequent Sean Hannity husband-and-wife guests Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing who now work for Firtash’s legal team. After recent Ukraine top prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko said the Bidens had not violated the law, Guiliani turned on Lutsenko, no longer calling him an “honest guy.” The House has subpoenaed Giuliani’s documents to determine if he acted as DDT’s agent to advance DDT’s “personal political interests” by abusing his power. 

Volker released damning State Department text messages showing DDT’s efforts to “exchange” summit meetings for Ukraine’s promise to investigate the Bidens both before and after the July 25 telephone call. The language clearly gives the quid pro quo: “Assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/ ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for a visit to Washington.” In a text, Bill Taylor, senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, showed the connection between releasing the $391 million in military aid and Ukraine’s investigating the Bidens: “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” A detailed look at the texts. The thread of messages was broken when Sondland concealed it through telephone calls instead of texts. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who lied about ignorance about sexual assaults while he was an assistant wrestling coach, was scorched for his lies about the text messages.

DDT assigned Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the EU, to run his Ukrainian extortion plan after the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, refused to take that role and DDT recalled her to Washington. DDT said that Yovanovitch is “going to go through some things” and she’s “bad news.” Yavanovitch testifies before the House committee on Tuesday. Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) asked Pompeo to fire Yavanovitch for expressing “disdain” for the current administration. Sessions is now trying to become a House candidate for a district 100 miles from his former one.

Volker and Sondland drafted a statement for Zelensky soon after DDT’s July 25 telephone call that committed Ukraine to pursuing DDT’s requested investigations against his political rivals. Despite the incriminating texts, Sondland, a hotel developer and major DDT donor, claimed that no “quid pro quo” existed, but Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said Sondland had told him the release of U.S. aid to Ukraine was tied to Ukraine’s investigations of the Bidens. Weeks before the Ukraininan scandal erupted, DDT told Johnson that the conservative senator could not tell Zelensky that the U.S. foreign aid was on its way. Sondland testifies on Tuesday. DDT got renewed probes into the Bidens in exchange for $391 million although former investigations revealed no wrong on the Bidens’ part.

Questioned about Ukraine, DDT called on China to investigate the Bidens, saying he might ask President Xi Jinping to do this. DDT had already done this in a June 18 telephone call to Xi when he also offered to keep quiet about the Hong Kong protests for democracy in exchange for trade talks. The White House didn’t deny this conversation. About China, DDT said, “If they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”

The national intelligence inspector general, Michael Atkinson, testified Friday about his process for he substantiating the whistle-blower’s account. Another person who met with Atkinson about joining the whistleblower in expressing concerns about DDT’s dealings with Ukraine has first-hand information about the events.

Part of DDT’s Ukrainian shakedown in May was to send Energy Secretary Rick Perry to Zelensky’s inauguration instead of VP Mike Pence. Perry pushed Ukraine for changes at its state-run oil and gas company including two U.S. citizens on its board, making him a part of the impeachment inquiry. He may resign as Secretary as soon as next month. Perry, who met with Zelensky at least two other times, said he will cooperate with the House in its empeachment inquiry. The DOD has also agreed to cooperate.

The House has subpoenaed acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to testify, and the whistleblower agreed to testify. DDT’s threats against the person—going so far as murder—have made the negotiations difficult.

In a memorable segment on The Late Night Show, Stephen Colbert talked about Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt’s confusion about the impeachment story:

“I think this is too much in the weeds. First they are going after the president with impeachment, then they are going after Rudy Giuliani. Now it’s Bill Barr. And Americans are saying what? How are they all connected? Connect the dots for us? What are you talking about? It’s so much information.”

Colbert clarified the issue with a chalkboard on which he drew an arrow from “Trump” to “Ukraine” and said, “Trump asked for dirt on Biden from the Ukraine.” Earhardt’s ignorance may come from her getting news from the Fox network.

Most congressional Republicans can’t find any way to defend DDT except to attack the Bidens and the process. An accusation of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) seeing the whistleblower complaint before it was submitted—even helping write it—bore little fruit because it was a lie. Schiff’s staff members followed protocol by advising that the whistleblower see a lawyer. Another lie designed to distract is that the rules for whistleblower complaints changed after this filing; the intelligence IG said that was false. DDT also called for violence from white supremacist militias by declaring that impeachment—a congressional inquiry—is a coup—a violent overthrow of a government. He also threatened civil war if he is impeached.  

Republicans are operating from a position of blustering ignorance. On 60 Minutes, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) demonstrated ignorance about the contents of the July 25 telephone call summary. [Left: McCarthy.] Republicans complained that the whistleblower is not credible although they don’t know the identity of the person and the complaint is true. Not knowing the identity means that they cannot slime the whistleblower. DNI Joe Maguire said under oach that the whistleblower is not a “partisan hack.”

DDT and Republicans started out by saying that he had no communication with Zelensky. Evidence for the communication led to the claim thatit wasn’t illegal. DDT now claims the constitutional duty to personally fight global corruption—like a comic book hero—for the first time in almost three years. Asked by a reporter whether he had asked any foreign leaders to investigate anyone who isn’t a political rival, Mr. Trump said he’d have to check on that.

AG Bill Barr’s name is largely missing from the current scandal news because he’s trying to look “nonpartisan.” Instead he’s traveling the world, talking to foreign leaders, in an attempt to get “dirt” on the Mueller investigation and legitimize DDT’s 2016 election. Barr’s appointment to investigate the origins of the Russia probe, John Durham, has not interviewed any FBI or DOJ employees directly involved in the opening of the Russia investigation in 2016. The Ukrainian complaint was filed, however, after the DOJ refused to address the whistleblower’s earlier concern. The CIA counsel asking for an investigation, Countney Simmons Elwood, is a strong Republican. Barr also consistently protects DDT in lawsuits about DDT’s private finances, and his name will reappear.  

Last Sunday, a CBS/You-Gov poll showed that 55 percent of people support the impeachment inquiry. In an ABC News/Ipsos poll, 64 percent think that DDT tried to pressure Ukraine for dirt on Biden, and 64 percent see this action as a serious problem.

DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and subpoenaed Mulvaney are evidently the lead in defending DDT. Kushner was one of DDT’s White House officials who met with Zelensky—possibly making him part of the impeachment inquiry. Zelensky is on Kushner’s left at this dinner seven weeks before the telephone call. Also in attendance were Rick Perry and U.S. State Department Counselor, Ulrich Brechbuhl, who heard the July 25 telephone call. 

September 27, 2019

DDT: Week 140 – The Unraveling in One Day

Horrifying news about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) pours out so fast that a day is like a week. Impeachment was the big news until late this afternoon when the Washington Post  reported DDT told two senior Russian officials in 2017 that he didn’t care about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States interfered in other countries election. DDT did it in the Oval Office at the same time he revealed highly critical information about ISIS obtained from Israel, information even withheld from allies. During the same meeting he gloated about firing former FBI Director James Comey to relieve personal problems for him and told the Russians he could have “a great relationship with you guys” except for “the press.” Records about this meeting may be hidden in the same location as DDT’s July 25 telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a computer reserve for covert operations. After the whistleblower complaint, John Eisenbert, White House deputy counsel for national security affairs and a national security legal adviser, directed the Zelensky transcript be put into the highest secret classified system although there was no reason that any of these documents be treated in this way.

White House officials tried to limit DDT’s conversations with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian leader Vladimir Putin and secreted the ones that were made. A transcript of DDT’s call to MBS in the aftermath of Saudi Arabia’s torture and dismemberment of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi was never circulated although it had no sensitive national security secrets. Information about these calls may be with the Zelensky transcript. 

Today, three House committees—Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight—subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about contacts with Ukraine. The three chairs Eliot Engel (D-NY), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) told Pompeo refusal to comply with the subpoena would be obstruction forming an article of impeachment. They also deposed State Department officials in the next two weeks: former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch (October 2), U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker (October 3), Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent (October 7), Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl (October 8), and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland (October 10). Yesterday, DDT missed a deadline to provide information and documents about contacts with Ukraininan officlals. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) said that the investigation “will be centered” in the Intelligence Committee under Schiff.

Volker, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, resigned his special envoy post after revelations that he connected DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani with Zelensky’s right-hand man, Andriy Yermack, to investigate Joe Biden. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave Volker his job as a volunteer while he remained the head of the John McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.

Giuliani canceled a paid appearance at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia next week after the media reported on his speech. Putin and other top Russian officials are expected to attend the two-day conference sponsored by Russia and Putin’s trade alliance, the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union.

The National Rifle Association acted as a “foreign asset” for Russia before the 2016 presidential election, according to a report from the Senate Finance Committee after an 18-month investigation. The NRA “provided the Russian nationals direct access to the Republican Party leaders at events including its Annual Winter Board Meetings and NRA Annual Meetings, and facilitated additional access to conservative organizations like the Council for National Policy, National Prayer Breakfast,” and other events. The report also described how NRA facilitated the infiltration of Russian agent Maria Butina and former Russian government official Alexander Torshin into domestic organizations and built relationships with Russian government officials including travel to Russia. NRA may have violated numerous tax laws and illegally promised access to U.S. officials in exchange for Russian business.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who bitterly fought laws to stop Russian hacking into voting systems, received $3.5 million for his Senate Leadership Fund from Len Blavatnik, business partner of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Blavatnik donated another $3.8 million to campaigns for GOP leaders and PACs.

A federal judge blocked the indefinite detention of migrant families, declaring it inconsistent with the 1997 Flores court settlement governing migrant children in U.S. custody.

The first House Republican is supporting an impeachment inquiry. Nevada’s Mark Amodei said that he wants the House to “put it through the process and see what happens.” That brings the total to 238—all others Democrats except for former Republican Justin Amash from Wisconsin who changed affiliation to independent this year. Five days ago, only 135 House members supported an impeachment inquiry. Only nine House Democrats are still opposed after Hawaii’s Tulsi Gabbard, presidential candidate, caved.

Impeachment has consumed the media this week, the polls in favor are rising. Today’s Hill-HarrisX survey showed that support for proceedings have gone up 12 points in three months to 47 percent. The increasement is across both parties and within independents. A PBS-Marist poll puts impeachment support even higher at 49 percent, compared to 46 percent opposition.  

Even Russia is laughing at DDT about his extorting Ukraine to get him elected by investigating Joe Biden.

The Ukraine whistleblower scandal may have to compete with another one: according to a court filing, an IRS employee accused DDT of trying to interfere with the mandatory presidential audit system. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) wrote Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin about credible allegations of “evidence of possible conduct”—potential “inappropriate efforts to influence” the program.

A disaster for DDT is his losing control of the press with its continuing outpouring of damaging information toward him. His new press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, snarks mostly in writing, and no press conference has been held in the White House for over 200 days. He’s even losing the highly polarized Fox network where hosts attack others for demanding the truth on their shows. Fighting back against Shep Smith, Tucker Carlson tried to protect Joe diGenova, who DDT once considered hiring for his lawyer, after deGenova denied the federal election law cited above. Gabriel Sherman writes:

“A Trump identity crisis at Fox as Hannity frets, Lachlan Murdoch prepares for a post-Trump future, Paul Ryan whispers in Rupert’s ear, and Shep Smith and Tucker Carlson trade blows.”

For years, Fox controlled the message for the far-right audience, but Roger Ailes is gone and Rupert Murdoch is replaced by his son Lachlan. Months ago, DDT began bashing Fox, largely for its polls showing him under water, and Sean Hannity said that the whistle-blower’s allegations are “really bad.” Hannity supported CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, brother of New York’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, after DDT called Chris “nuts” and showed a “total loss of control” in a heated argument at a bar. For four years, Fox avoided reporting on DDT’s negative side, but impeachment has created a “management bedlam” that “no one knows how to cover,” according to a Fox staffer. Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and president Jay Wallace threatened to take Smith off the air if he attacks Carlson again. Former House speaker Paul Ryan, now on the Fox board, advised Lachlan Murdock to break with DDT, but others say that Fox must be loyal to DDT’s supporters.

Fox’s Chris Wallace said that the “spinning” from DDT’s defenders is “deeply misleading.” He didn’t directly name his Fox colleagues but laid out the case that the whistleblower complaint has been credible, disagreeing with the attempts of his host, Sandra Smith, to use DDT’s talking points. Stopping Smith’s reference to DDT’s quote that the whistleblower’s informants were “close to spies,” Wallace said:

“That is very, deeply troubling. These are people inside an administration that are saying that something was going on that they were very, deeply troubled by. To call them spies and to suggest that perhaps we should deal with them the way we’ve dealt with other people, with treason, which is in effect to execute them, really seems to be to strike at the very heart of what whistleblowers are all about.”

To Shep Smith, Wallace said:

“I always think reverse the situation. Whistleblowers who claim that Hillary Clinton had acted improperly during Benghazi. How would we have felt if Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama had accused them of treason? I think you have to consider it that way.”

Juan Williams joined the fray when he took umbrage with co-hosts on The Five who repeated DDT’s talking points.

DDT has already started a break with Fox by promoting farther-right OANN where people can find shows by such past politicians as Sarah Palin and gushing about its coverage. OANN is known for promoting conspiracy theories, and one of its “journalists” also writes for Russia’s Sputnik. Media Matters reports that “the network has a history of race-baiting and presenting anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-abortion reporting.”

The news won’t stop: some lawmakers plan to meet during the next two weeks despite a scheduled congressional recess.

September 24, 2019

Ukraine: DDT’s Road to Impeachment

A new Nixon era has been introduced: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that six committees will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in response to allegations that he tried to enlist a foreign power for his own political gain. The impeachment committee process against Nixon, lasting almost eight months, was completed over 25 years ago at the end of July with recommendations for articles of impeachment for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. Nixon resigned less than two weeks later.

Pelosi directed the chairs of the committees investigating DDT to send their best cases for DDT’s impeachable offenses to the Judiciary Committee to lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment. That committee’s investigation already focused on Robert Mueller’s findings and DDT’s personal profits from state and foreign governments’ spending. An inquiry is the first step to a vote to charge DDT with high crimes and misdemeanors. Before Pelosi’s announcement, 149 House Democrats and one Independent, formerly a Republican, called for DDT’s impeachment; the number has increased since then.

Pelosi said:

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections…

“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”

The impeachment impetus came from allegations that DDT violated the law in his refusal to release a whistleblower’s complaint about DDT’s “promises” to a foreign country and his pressure on Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden for corruption while withholding almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine to fight Russian aggression.

The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee entered the fray by inviting the whistleblower to a closed session by Friday and interviewing the intelligence inspector general who wanted to release the complaint to Congress as required by law. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) unexpectedly permitted a vote on Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) consent resolution to release the complaint to the Intelligence Committee that unanimously passed.

VP Mike Pence’s complicity in DDT’s apparent extortion and bribery plot comes from the transcript of his press conference in Poland when Pence said that he had talked to Zelensky about DDT’s “financial support in great detail.” Pence added that DDT “had me make clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption.” Over three weeks ago, Pence spread the same story that DDT and Rudy Giuliani are trying to promote.

DDT’s shifts about Ukraine keep dribbling out: 

  • DDT said he didn’t talk to Zelensky about Joe Biden.
  • DDT said he talked to Zelensky about corruption but not Biden.
  • DDT said he “might” have talked about Biden in the “beautiful conversation with Zelensky”
  • DDT said that he talked about the $250 million military aid in the conversation but didn’t connect it to Biden.
  • DDT forgot to mention that he gave Ukraine an extra $140 million after talking with Zelensky about investigating Biden; that information came from Zelensky’s announcement. 
  • DDT said, “Who wouldn’t speak to your son? Of course, you spoke to your son.” [Evidently DDT talked to his son about the June 2016 meeting with Russia to get dirt on political opponent Hillary Clinton.] 
  • DDT said he connected the money designated for Ukraine to the talk about corruption: “Why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?”
  • DDT said he didn’t pressure Zelensky to investigate in exchange for the money, but that if “a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they’d be getting the electric chair right now.” [Actually, an investigation exonerated Biden of any wrongdoing, but DDT isn’t as lucky. DDT typically projects his behavior and crimes onto others. DDT’s only concern with “corruption” in Ukraine has been about Joe Biden.]
  • DDT told budget officials to block military aid for Ukraine three days before his telephone conversation with Zelensky and ordered officials to tell lawmakers that the delays were an “interagency process” with no additional information.
  • DDT said he didn’t tell anyone to withhold the funding to help Ukraine fight Russian aggression. (He did.)
  • DDT said he did withhold the funding but because NATO countries didn’t give Ukraine money. (They already are.)
  • DDT said he might give the telephone call transcript to a “respected source” so “everyone will say” his conversation with Zelensky was perfectly fine, much like Nixon’s offer to give his audio recording to a hard-of-hearing conservative senator for a summary.
  • DDT said that he will release the full transcript to the public tomorrow.

A timeline of the events in this debacle.

After Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) met with Zelensky in early September, he reported that Ukraine’s president“directly” expressed concerns that “the aid that was being cut off to Ukraine by the president was a consequence” of his unwillingness to launch an investigation into the Bidens. Murphy said that any demand from a U.S. president provides “an implicit threat” with “consequences.”

In mid-August, lawmakers discovered that acting chief of staff and budget director Mick Mulvaney took control of the Ukrainian aid from the Defense and State departments in a possibly illegal action that blocked money authorized by Congress. At the same time, the whistleblower filed a complaint about DDT and Ukraine to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is covering for DDT, avoiding answers about the telephone call with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press and with Jake Tapper about the difference between business dealings for Biden’s son and DDT’s family. Mnuchin said that following federal law in releasing the whistleblower complaint to Congress would “set a terrible precedent” with the current administration.

DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who claimed he was looking for “dirt on Biden,” claimed that the State Department sent him to talk to Zelensky’s right-hand man, Andriy Yermack. In doing so, he might avoid prosecution under the Logan Act which criminalizes a private citizen’s attempt to intervene without authorization in disputes or controversies between the U.S. and foreign governments. His statements leave him open to prosecution for bribery and extortion conspiracy because he has no immunity. The Hobbs Act defines extortion as “obtaining property from another, with his consent, under color of official right,” according to Barbara McQuade. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act criminalizes the act of a U.S. citizen to corruptly offer “anything of value” to a foreign official to retain business or influence an official decision. Giuliani clearly acts on the part of DDT to persuade Ukraine to “investigate” a political opponent, illegal under federal law that blocks a person from soliciting, accept, or receiving a “contribution or donation of money or other thing of value” from a foreign national in connection to a U.S. election and prohibits a foreign national from the same act. Damaging information fits the definition of a “thing of value.”

Giuliani’s stories change as swiftly as those from DDT:

  • Last week, Giuliani said, “I did what I did on my own, and then I told [Trump] about it afterwards. Because I’m his lawyer.”
  • Over the weekend, Giuliani told the Washington Post, about DDT, “I don’t do anything that involves my client without speaking with my client.”
  • Monday, Giuliani told Sean Hannity, about his meeting with Yermack, “I wasn’t operating on my own. I was operating at the request of the State Department.”

Giuliani is left hanging out to dry. DDT asked Zelensky eight times to talk to Giuliani, and the State Department said that that it didn’t ask him for help:

“Mr. Giuliani is a private citizen and acts in a personal capacity as a lawyer for President Trump. He does not speak on behalf of the U.S. Government.”

On Sunday, however, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he approved of Giuliani “inserting himself in foreign affairs” and pressing Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden, possibly encouraging Giuliani to break the law.

Because the law does not designate what to do if the DNI violates the law by not releasing the complaint, experts think that the IG, who wants to provide Congress with the complaint, is in charge of delivering the complaint. Jesselyn Radack, a national security lawyer, said that “the DNI cannot countermand the inspector general’s determination.” The DNI, however, consulted the DOJ, another violation of the law, whose opinions are “considered to be binding.” Employees of the executive branch can’t be prosecuted for not doing what the White House demands, but they can be fired, according to a former DOJ official.

Repubicans argue that they don’t know the facts but that DDT’s actions with Ukraine aren’t wrong because the people who want to know the facts are speculating. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) claimed that DDT didn’t talk to Zelensky about Joe Biden—after DDT said that he talked to Zelensky about Biden. The media has the same confusion about how to defend DDT after he admits to extortion by saying “So what if I did?” Republicans and DDT have spread around the blame—Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Ukraine, the whistleblower, the media—or just saying that DDT did nothing wrong by trying to blackmail Ukraine. It’s all part of the coverup pattern for DDT’s sole concerns, his reelection in 2020.

Failing to stop Pelosi’s impeachment plan by offering to release the transcript of the Zelensky telephone call, DDT called the Speaker to “work something out” with “this whistleblower complaint.” She said, “Tell our people to obey the law.” He should have listened to aides who told him not to call Zelensky.

May 24, 2019

DDT: Week 122 – One Track Trump

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has had what might be his worst week since he was inaugurated. In retaliation, he has expanded the powers of his fixer AG Bill Barr to use the entire intelligence for investigation of his investigation and declassify any information within the intelligence communityhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/barr-could-expose-secrets-politicize-intelligence-with-review-of-russia-probe-current-and-former-officials-fear/2019/05/24/58f822f8-7e2f-11e9-8bb7-0fc796cf2ec0_story.html?utm_term=.aa26591d6ba7  Barr is comfortable being selective about the release of information to put anyone in a bad light if they don’t 100-percent support DDT, and the end result can be the deaths of people in the U.S. intelligence world as Barr outs them to garner favor with DDT. The man in the Oval Office has proved that he cannot keep important information secret.

In another dangerous move, DDT plans to destroy the media with charges of treason under the Espionage Act against Julian Assange. Two prosecutors involved in the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He would be charged for publishing information about the actions taken by the U.S. government, until now protected by the First Amendment. Almost 50 years ago, a Supreme Court case protected the press in the Pentagon Papers, but DDT wants to overturn that. In its charges, the U.S. is trying to interpret the Espionage Act as any form of communication. https://truthout.org/video/julian-assanges-attorney-decries-espionage-charges-as-threat-to-press-freedom/  Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union said,

“For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information.”

If Assange is convicted guilty under the Espionage Act, I could be convicted of reprinting information that the government considers negative to them.

DDT’s week included two big losses in court when two separate judges permitted his tax returns and some of his financial information to be given to the House because of its subpoenas. Last Monday, accountants at Mazars USA were ordered to turn over eight years of DDT’s tax returns to the House Oversight Committee. In the past, Mazars flagged DDT’s financial statements because of his flagrant lies including ten non-existent stories to Trump Tower and 800 acres at his Virginia vineyard. If DDT appeals the ruling within seven days, the case goes to the D.C. Circuit Court led by Chief Judge Merrick Garland, the same judge who McConnell prevented from any hearings for almost a year after President Obama nominated him for the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, another judge ruled that Deutsche Bank and Capital One should turn over financial documents related to DDT and his businesses after House Democrats’ subpoenas. The judge disagreed with DDT’s argument that the demands for documents lacked a legitimate legislative purpose and declared that the subpoenas “are clearly pertinent.” Wells Fargo and TD Bank, two of nine subpoenaed institutions, have already turned over information to the House Financial Services Committee. Others are Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase.

New York State legislature passed a law to turn over DDT’s state tax returns—similar to his federal ones—to the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee, and Joint Committee on Taxation for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose.” Richard Neal, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, still wants DDT’s federal returns to investigate “the mandatory presidential audit program at the I.R.S.” The New York law is broad enough that DDT may not be able to successfully fight it.

Another New York bill passed in its General Assembly could hamper DDT: state prosecutors would be permitted to pursue people convicted of federal crimes who receive presidential pardons for federal crimes for the same crimes in the state. These crimes could involve DDT through his Foundation, bank dealings, NRA’s money laundering from Russia for DDT’s campaign, and other DDT donors. DDT is also connected to several other scandals when a private citizen in New York.

By Thursday morning, DDT had a meltdown, refusing to have a previously-planned meeting about infrastructure with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In a press conference, DDT claimed that he called off the meeting because Pelosi was talking about “the i-word,” but the conference looked preplanned because of the optics. Pelosi had met with the Democratic caucus to talk them out of impeachment. He became more enraged after Pelosi said that he was “engaged in a coverup.” A day later, Pelosi called for a family intervention and said that “he flipped yesterday” because he was “crying out for impeachment.”

DDT furiously declared he will not work with Democrats on any legislature while investigations of his campaign, finances and foreign ties continue. According to DDT, he varies from former presidents by being incapable of running the United States while he is being investigated. As Stephen Colbert described his blackmailing comment, “My way or no highways.” In the midst of his anger, he admitted he knew about the Trump Tower meeting in which a Russian lawyer offered Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign members “dirt” on Hillary Clinton to help DDT’s campaign, confessing that he had lied about his ignorance.

In his angry speech, DDT warned that a Republican Congress might impeach a Democratic president and followed up with the statement that “we can’t allow that to happen.” That actually happened 20 years ago—impeach being an investigation. While Bill Clinton was investigated for almost eight years with an impeachment trial in 1998-99, he continued to negotiate in good faith with Republicans throughout the entire process. Later he called up all his aides in front of the television cameras and ordered them to testify to his calmness.

Because conservatives cannot attack House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on any credible issues, they smear her through such methods as distorting video of her—in this case, slowing down a video 75 percent to make her speech sound slurred. After media outlets, including Fox, reported on the doctored video, DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani described Pelosi as having a “bizarre” speech pattern immediately before he called for “the integrity of … government.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin continues to maintain the IRS is not required to give up DDT’s tax returns, but a confidential IRS legal memo declares that the House is entitled to receive these unless DDT declares executive privilege in hiding them. The memo states that Mnuchin cannot withhold the information is “statutory conditions are met.” The 10-page document explains who and why Congress can access tax returns and how the provision has been interpreted throughout the decades. Even executive privilege may not be sufficient for DDT to hide his tax returns.

The latest DDT associates to receive subpoenas from House Democrats are his former communications adviser Hope Hicks, who said she told “white lies” for DDT, and White House counsel assistant Annie Donaldson. These subpoenas came on the heels of White House counsel Don McGahn’s refusal to comply with his subpoena

By mid-May, DDT was facing at least 29 investigations: 10 federal criminal investigations, 8 state and local investigations, and 11 House investigations.

The DOJ has also offered to give up more of the redacted Mueller report and underlying information to the House Intelligence Committee in exchange for its not enforcing a subpoena against Barr although there is no timeline.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson secretly appeared for seven hours before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last Tuesday to give voluntary testimony. His statements included Russian President Vladimir Putin “seized every opportunity to push what he wanted” and far out-prepared DDT for the meeting in Germany. DDT has always bragged about the lack of importance to prepare for meetings. Tillerson also discussed the inadequacy of DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has aligned himself with the murderous Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to negotiate for peace between Palestine and Israel. Asked to describe Trump’s values, Tillerson said, “I cannot.” http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trump-isnt-helping-himself-his-latest-shot-tillerson?cid=eml_mra_20190523  In refuting Tillerson’s statements, DDT said:

“I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!”

DDT looks to Putin for validation and brags about how the U.S. is doing with its foreign policy—verging on war with Iran and Venezuela, in opposition to Russia, while failing to denuclearize North Korea.

During eight months beginning on the day of DDT’s election, Michael Cohen, DDT’s former fixer, communicated 1,180 times through telephone and text with Andrew Intrater, the CEO of  U.S. money-management firm Columbus Nova LLC controlled by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Reports show that Columbus paid Cohen over $500,000 after the election. He also exchanged communication and was paid $300,000 on a $1.8 million contract to help Kazakshstan’s BTA Bank JSC. An investigation show that Cohen was involved in persuading White House officials to lift sanctions on Russians in exchange for payment through Essential Consultants, LLC, a company he set up in October 2016.

Tomorrow, DDT retreats to Japan for some positive attention after the stress of his past week. Officials said that the trip is light on substance while DDT is wined (Coked?) and dined. One of DDT’s problems is his rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership while Japan moved ahead to liberalize the market access for beef, pork, and other agricultural products for Australians, Canadians, and the EU through the Eu-Japan trade deal. That means higher tariffs for U.S. exports. At least DDT has the “Trump Cup,” a new trophy he will award to the winner of the first Sumo wrestling tournament of the new Japanese imperial era.

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.

October 20, 2017

Pence, a Christian Ideologue Who Could Destroy Democracy

[Note: Yesterday’s blog post about not impeaching Donald Trump (DDT) brought a few comments. One is that “DDT” is a pesticide. Yes, it’s a poison that kills humans and harmless creatures, and the man inaugurated as U.S. president in January 2017 displays many characteristics of a dictator. Another one—”Explain to me again why just Pence would be worse than 45 + Pence.” Without DDT, Pence would be unleashed to make the nation a total unconstitutional theocracy. DDT is only interested in benefiting himself; Mike Pence will do anything to spread Dominionism throughout the world. People who still aren’t afraid of Pence after reading the following should go to some of the links for additional information.]

Becoming candidate for vice-president was a personal advantage for Mike Pence because his term as governor of Indiana was up for renewal. He was unpopular with both parties, his favorability down to 40 percent and only four points ahead of his Democratic opponent when 30 percent of the people in the state didn’t know who the Dem was.

Pence is an ideal sidekick for DDT, always willing to lie for him and always looking adoringly at DDT. Joel K. Goldstein, a historian at St. Louis University, calls him the “Sycophant-in-Chief.” Pence brought conservative donors who didn’t trust DDT back into the fold, especially the Koch brothers.

During his campaign for vice-president, Pence denied concern about the “Access Hollywood” tapes when DDT was caught bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy,” but a campaign aide said his wife, Karen, was horrified. Pence wouldn’t take calls from DDT but sent DDT a letter saying that he and his wife were deeply offended and needed to make an “assessment” about whether to remain with the campaign. Pence decided to stay, and DDT dumped New Jersey governor Chris Christie—and his thirty binders of résumés and plans—to make Pence head of his transition team. In his appointments, DDT leaned heavily on Koch-supported people: Scott Pruitt, Patrick Traylor, Don McGahn, Betsy DeVos, and Mike Pompeo. Koch involvement caused DDT base’s priorities to move down, subsumed by the corporate right. Gone are such Koch-opposed proposals as infrastructure reform, “border-adjustment tax,” and higher tax bracket for earnings over $5 million.

Two days after DDT was inaugurated, Stephen Roderick wrote about how Pence and DDT claimed to save jobs in Indiana by preserving 730 jobs at Carrier. Another 550 jobs that were being sent to Mexico. As usual, Pence had given the typical spin about Washington policies driving jobs offshore, but Mexican workers get $6 an hour, $1.75 less than federal minimum wage. As governor, Pence gave Carrier $7 million in state tax breaks. Sarah Palin called it “crony capitalism.”

Pence may be responsible for some of DDT’s current problems. Christie told DDT to avoid Michael Flynn, whose financial ties to foreign interests may have been the impetus for the investigation. Pence hired Flynn with almost no vetting although Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent warned him about Flynn’s questionable ethics: Flynn failed to disclose that he had done paid lobbying work during the campaign for Turkish interests. Pence claimed he didn’t see the letter, but Cummings has an email from the transition staff, promising to carefully review his letter. Flynn’s hiring most likely led to the special investigation surrounding DDT’s connection with Russia.

After DDT fired former FBI director James Comey, Pence again lied, claiming that the firing had nothing do to with the Russia investigation. He had attended a meeting about DDT’s intention to get rid of Comey where a letter connecting the firing to the Russia investigation was distributed. White House Counsel Don McGahn recommended against sending the letter, and the DOJ’s Rod Rosenstein made up an excuse for the firing. Hours after Pence claimed that DDT’s decision was based on Rosenstein recommendation, DDT told Lester Holt in an interview that Russia was the reason for his action. Pence’s lies may be classified as obstructing justice, or “misprision of a felony,” for giving the public a false cover story about a meeting to shut down a federal investigation.

Pence’s Bible-study group for Cabinet members is led by Ralph Drollinger who wrote:

“Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.”

Drollinger describes Catholicism as “a false religion” and believes that a wife must “submit” to her husband. He said that Pence “has uncompromising Biblical tenacity” and “brings real value to the head of the nation.”

Joan Walsh wrote that Pence is a far worse person than DDT “because of his creepy Handmaid’s Tale patriarchal approach to women’s equality. But also because he usually knows he’s lying about Trump, and their administration’s agenda, and he lies anyway.”

Pence’s argument against athletes taking a knee to protest injustice during the national anthem is the use of “national” in the NFL. He said, as if the NFL belongs to the government, “I don’t think it’s too much to ask that players in the National Football League to stand for our national anthem.”

Jeremy Scahill wrote about other Pence beliefs:

Pence wants to ban the burning of the U.S. flag and make the Patriot Act permanent. He thinks that law enforcement should not need a FISA warrant for domestic surveillance and voted against requiring any warrant for domestic wiretapping. He wanted to give retroactive immunity to telecom companies involved in warrantless surveillance. Pence said that “enhanced interrogation” has saved lives and doesn’t want congressional oversight of CIA interrogations. He also opposes protections for whistleblowers to prevent retaliation for reporting crimes and misdeeds. Expansion of the military tribunal system and “filling up” Guantanamo Bay are other Pence goals. No matter what, Pence will stand with Israel. Fortunately, he and other legislators failed in making a U.S. policy to use military force to eliminate nuclear threats in Iran.

Roe v. Wade would disappear in a Pence presidency, and he wants 14th Amendment protections for fetuses by declaring them persons. He voted for two-year sentences for doctors performing late-term abortions for any reason except the danger of women’s lives. If this had passed, women would have had to carry dead fetuses to term. According to Pence, “condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases.”

Pence wants DDT’s “wall” and advocates greater militarization against drugs. He said that “police officers are the best of us” and finds it offensive to “use a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of implicit bias or institutional racism and that really has got to stop.” Stop-and-frisk programs are “on a sound constitutional footing,” according to Pence, who wants these on a nationwide basis.

No-bid contracting should not have restrictions, according to Pence, perhaps because he has a close relationship to Blackwater’s cofounder, Erik Prince, Betsy Devos’ brother. Pence and his Republican Study Committee welcomed Prince to Washington in 2007 after Blackwater operatives gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. The Prince family joined with the DeVos family to fund the Republican Revolution when Newt Gingrich became House Speaker in 1994 on the platform Contract with America.

In the Concord Monitor, Robert Azzi wrote:

“I want [Donald Trunp] to stay in office because I fear a President Pence more than I fear Trump.

“While Trump the narcissist is an uneducated wanna-be statesman who seemingly has never read a book, who lacks empathy even for those close to him, and whom I believe couldn’t find Jerusalem on a map – at least not until either he or Jared got a contract to build a new tower or embassy there (a really, really, really beautiful thing – amazing, really!) – there are currently enough Republicans and Democrats (supported by grown-ups like Secretary Mattis and National Security Advisor McMaster) who are equally so revulsed by his lies, his ignorance and his erratic-ness that they’re willing to stand in his way to keep his fingers off the nuclear codes.

“Trump’s ambitions can be deflected (he has the attention span of a gnat); Pence’s can’t, and his elevation to the presidency – either through Trump’s impeachment or resignation – would, I believe, present a clear and present danger to the pluralistic, aspirational, constitutional values upon which this nation relies for its strength and prosperity….

“Pence is the real thing. He’s much smarter than Trump, has better hair, has much more government experience, and he unrepentantly embraces and advocates for an unreconstructed Christian supremacist America…. Pence is the tip of the spear for a Christian Dominionist movement envisioned, as Betsy DeVos says, to “advance God’s kingdom….

“A Pence presidency would herald the rise of an American supremacist Taliban who’ll have their way rolling back the privacy and civil, human, religious and personal rights of Americans whom they believe, both in the present and in the hereafter, are less worthy than they.”

The worst part of impeaching DDT is that the Trumpets would solidify with the GOP party, giving them far more leverage. The U.S. is better off by leaving DDT where he is and controlling his ability to blow up the world. If DDT is impeached, only a Pence impeachment could save the nation—and that would never happen.

I have long believed, like longtime Democratic operative Harold Ickes, that Pence would work more effectively with Congress and be more successful at advancing the far right’s agenda. Newt Gingrich believes that Pence will be the 2024 GOP nominee. Pence is the first vice-president in history to have his own fundraising effort instead of raising money for the president, the party, and congressional and state-level candidates. He may be aiming at 2020. A Pence presidency would erase what is left of democracy in the United States.

 

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