U.S. fires tear gas into Mexico to repel migrants, closes border gate for several hours
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKCN1NU0YS
U.S. fires tear gas into Mexico to repel migrants, closes border gate for several hours
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKCN1NU0YS
That w/d all likely have been clear to Pence, Priebus, and McGahn when they read the transcripts. But instead they seek to cover this up and push a story out to the public that looks totally false.
Opinion & speculation from a left-leaning but factually accurate source: Mueller Hints That Mike Pence May Be Indicted Soon
If Pence out 1st, Trump nominates replacement, but House and Senate must confirm so, with Ds in charge in House in January, that could leave vacancy if Trump were then out and Pelosi would take over. FYI LBJ left VP vacant for 2 years after he became Pres after JFK assassinated.
Opinion: Mueller Hints That Mike Pence May Be Indicted Soon
Mike Pence thought he could avoid controversy, and stay far enough away from Trump’s criminal scandals to inherit the presidency after Trump’s ouster. He even thinks that is God’s will.
The problem with this thinking is that it would mean Pence had to avoid not just controversy, but also criminal behavior. But it seems it hasn’t worked out that way.
By associating himself with Donald Trump, Pence got his hands very dirty, and now many more people have figured that out, thanks to Robert Mueller.
Special Counsel Mueller released his heavily redacted 13-page sentencing memo for Michael Flynn on Tuesday night, he did NOT redact one key piece of information. The memo clearly states that the Trump transition team was heavily involved in Flynn’s illegal dealings with Russia.
And, as everyone now remembers, the person in charge of that transition team was none other than vice president-elect Mike Pence.
Earlier this year Mueller obtained all of the transition team’s emails, and that’s when the speculation started that both Pence and Jared Kushner — another transition team member — were in deep trouble.
Now that we know Flynn has sung like a canary to Mueller about all the dirty deeds of the transition team, things have gotten even worse for both Pence and Kushner.
Many people are now also remembering when the new vice president went on national television and declared to the world that Michael Flynn was clean as a whistle, and innocent of all charges.
However, before Pence did this, Congressman Elijah Cummings had notified Pence in writing that Flynn had committed perjury and lied about his contacts with foreign governments, especially Turkey.
Thanks to Mueller’s memo we know that Pence, while defending Flynn on TV, knew that the new National Security Adviser had also committed perjury and lied about his contacts with Russia.
In other words, the vice president has been caught in numerous lies, not only to the American people, but also to federal law enforcement authorities. It is very likely that the redacted portions of Mueller’s memo mention the name Mike Pence, and not in a good way.
Michael Flynn committed numerous crimes, and Mike Pence did everything possible to cover up those crimes, possibly because he was implicated in them also. In fact, Pence could face the same criminal charges that Mueller brought against Flynn.
Since Flynn met with Mueller’s team of crack prosecutors 19 times, there is nothing they don’t know about Flynn’s — and Pence’s — possible criminal behavior.
So what does all this mean? The implications might be much greater than most people realize. As one commentator said on Twitter:
“You know, if Mueller takes out Trump and Pence, we won’t have to worry about the GOP anymore. All their heads will simultaneously implode the first time they have to say “President Pelosi.”
Although most of it was kept secret from the American public, Mueller’s sentencing memo for Mike Flynn communicated very clearly that Donald Trump and everyone around him is in some very, very deep trouble. It could destroy not only his presidency, but the entire Republican Party as we know it today.
Editor’s Note: The title has been updated with “Opinion” because the conclusion is supposition based on redacted parts of Mueller’s filing.
https://www.politicususa.com/2018/12/06 ... -soon.html
Those covering the Kelly resignation -- curious whether John Kelly and Trump stopped speaking around this time.emptywheel added,
NEW - More behind-the-scenes jockeying from Mueller in the mystery grand jury subpoena fight we've been following that's headed for a closed-door oral argument in the US Court of Appeals DC Circuit on Dec. 14.
Among the things Mueller would likely ask Trump, btw, is how and why he intervened to prevent Trump from receiving the serial attempts to give him an excuse to pardon Julian Assange.
6:12 AM - 7 Dec 2018
Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees
The White House again wants to expel certain groups of protected immigrants, a reversal after backing away from the policy months ago.
Read: The U.S. used to criticize countries that didn’t allow their citizens to leave.Many pre-1995 arrivals, all of whom were previously protected under the 2008 agreement by both the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, were refugees from the Vietnam War. Some are the children of those who once allied with American and South Vietnamese forces, an attribute that renders them undesirable to the current regime in Hanoi, which imputes anti-regime beliefs to the children of those who opposed North Vietnam. This anti-Communist constituency includes minorities such as the children of the American-allied Montagnards, who are persecuted in Vietnam for both their ethnicity and Christian religion.The Trump administration’s move reflects an entirely new reading of the agreement, according to Ted Osius, who served as the United States ambassador to Vietnam from December 2014 through November 2017.* Osius said that while he was in office, the 2008 agreement was accepted by all involved parties as banning the deportation of all pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants.“We understood that the agreement barred the deportation of pre-1995 Vietnamese. Both governments—and the Vietnamese-American community—interpreted it that way,” Osius told The Atlantic in an email. The State Department, he added, had explained this to both the White House and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.News of the Trump administration’s renewed hard line quickly made the rounds on Vietnamese American social media, with advocacy groups warning of potentially increased deportations.“Forty-three years ago, a lot of the Southeast Asian communities and Vietnamese communities fled their countries and their homeland due to the war, which the U.S. was involved in, fleeing for their safety and the safety of their families,” said Kevin Lam, the organizing director of the Asian American Resource Workshop, an advocacy group. “The U.S. would do well to remember that.”* An earlier version of this article misstated the month Osius ended his tenure as ambassador. We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com. Charles Dunst is a journalist based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Twitter Krishnadev Calamur is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers global news. He is a former editor and reporter at NPR and the author of Murder in Mumbai. Twitter
Dec 12, 2018
Donald Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen speak at a meeting in February.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Updated at 10:20 a.m. on December 13, 2018.
The Trump administration is resuming its efforts to deport certain protected Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades—many of them having fled the country during the Vietnam War.
This is the latest move in the president’s long record of prioritizing harsh immigration and asylum restrictions, and one that’s sure to raise eyebrows—the White House had hesitantly backed off the plan in August before reversing course. In essence, the administration has now decided that Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the country before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and Vietnam are subject to standard immigration law—meaning they are all eligible for deportation.
The new stance mirrors White House efforts to clamp down on immigration writ large, a frequent complaint of the president’s on the campaign trail and one he links to a litany of ills in the United States.
Read: Another blow against refugees
The administration last year began pursuing the deportation of many long-term immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and other countries who the administration alleges are “violent criminal aliens.” But Washington and Hanoi have a unique 2008 agreement that specifically bars the deportation of Vietnamese people who arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995—the date the two former foes reestablished diplomatic relations following the Vietnam War.
https://www.theatlantic.com/internation ... source=twb
7-Year-Old Migrant Girl Dies Of Dehydration And Shock In U.S. Border Patrol Custody
Bill ChappellDecember 13, 201810:32 PM ET
Central American migrants walk along the U.S. border fence looking for places to cross, in Tijuana, Mexico.
Updated at 7:15 a.m. ET
A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who crossed the southern border into the United States illegally earlier this month died of dehydration and shock after being apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in New Mexico.
The girl and her father were part of a group of 163 people who surrendered to Border Patrol officers on the night of Dec. 6, south of Lordsburg N.M., according to the The Washington Post, which first reported the story.
In a statement sent to NPR, a spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Border Patrol, stated, "As we have always said, traveling north illegally is extremely dangerous." The DHS representative added, "Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and the best efforts of the medical team treating the child, we were unable to stop this tragedy from occurring."
Eight hours after the girl and her father were apprehended and taken into custody, she began having seizures and her body temperature was measured at 105.7 degrees by emergency responders.
The Post reports, citing a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, that the girl "reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days."
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The girl was flown by helicopter to an El Paso, Texas, hospital. She was revived after going into cardiac arrest but died less than 24 hours after being transported to the facility.
"On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, our sincerest condolences go out to the family of the child," the spokesperson said. "Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child's life under the most trying of circumstances. As fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we empathize with the loss of any child."
The CBP will investigate the case to determine whether the agency followed all correct procedures and policies.
The incident comes as U.S. officials say they are holding almost 15,000 immigrant children in nearly full detention facilities. At the same time, border agents are apprehending more families with children than ever.
In November, 25,172 "family units" were apprehended at the southern border, according to a CBP report, an increase of more than 2,000 families since October. Last year, 7,016 families were apprehended in November.
The Post also reported:
"The small Border Patrol station in Lordsburg received a single group of 227 migrants on Thursday, according to CBP, after taking in separate group of 123 on Wednesday. Both groups — extremely large by CBP standards — mostly consisted of families and children, according to the agency.
"The agency said it was expecting an autopsy on the child, but results would not likely be available for several weeks. An initial diagnosis by physicians at El Paso's Providence Hospital listed the cause of death as septic shock, fever and dehydration."
https://www.npr.org/2018/12/13/67662204 ... ol-custody
Tom Arnold Claims Donald Trump Snorted Adderall on 'The Apprentice' Set
By Daniel Moritz-Rabson On 12/13/18 at 4:27 PM
Actor and comedian Tom Arnold accused President Donald Trump of previously abusing Adderall on the set of NBC's The Apprentice.
"Donald Trump abused Adderall on the set & it made him crazy. He even snorted Adderall. Mark Burnett knew it. It’s scary," he wrote in a tweet, accusing The Apprentice creator of knowing that the president took the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug.
Arnold's tweet came in response to allegations from stand-up comedian Noel Casler, who claimed he worked on The Celebrity Apprentice for six years. During a set earlier this month, Casler said that Trump snorted crushed-up Adderall and called the commander-in-chief a "speed freak." He also alleged that the president would also invite teen beauty pageant participants up to his room.
Newsweek reached out to Casler on Twitter, seeking proof that he worked on the show, but did not receive comment prior to publication.
"I worked on a bunch of those beauty pageants he had in the '90s, too. That was a good idea, Miss Teen Universe? Yeah, that’s like giving Jeffrey Dahmer a cooking show. He would line up the girls on the side of the stage, and he would inspect them. Literally, he would stick his little freaking doll fingers in their mouth and look at their teeth," Casler said. "I’m not kidding, this is true, he would line them up like they were pieces of meat. He’d be like, 'You, you, and you, if you want to win I’m in the penthouse suite, come and see me.' If Trump had a cooking show they’d call it "The Douchebag Diet." McDonald’s, chocolate ice cream and girls that look like Ivanka are all he ever eats."
He then alleged that Trump was a "speed freak" who "crushes up his Adderall and he sniffs it because he can’t read, so he gets really nervous when he has to read cue cards."
Casler said that he had signed a non-disclosure agreement. "I didn’t know that he was becoming president. Now it’s no way dumbass, I’m telling you everything I know."
Arnold has previously spoken out against Trump and Burnett. He claims tapes exist that show the president acted inappropriately on the set of The Apprentice, but has not brought forth evidence to back up his allegations.
GettyImages-1081645506 President Donald Trump signs an executive order to establish the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. Alex Wong/Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, the Trump Organization and Trump Productions, which helped produce The Apprentice, did not comment prior to publication.
A number of former workers on The Apprentice have previously criticized Trump.
In 2016, the Associated Press interviewed more than 20 people, including former contestants and workers on the reality-TV show, who said that Trump "repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language." Sources said that he would discuss women's breast sizes.
A Trump campaign spokeswoman said the claims were false. "These outlandish, unsubstantiated and totally false claims fabricated by publicity hungry, opportunistic, disgruntled former employees have no merit whatsoever," Hope Hicks said, noting the success of the show.
Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a former Apprentice star, initially backed the president and served as White House aide. She announced last December that she would leave her position and subsequently conducted a range of interviews in which she regularly denounced her former boss.
https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-s ... er-1257787
Body Language and Medical Analysis №4221: Why are Donald Trump’s Pupils Intermittently So Large? — Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Go to the profile of Dr. Jack Brown
Dr. Jack BrownFollow
Why are Donald Trump’s pupils intermittently so large?
You probably haven’t noticed, but President Trump’s pupils are intermittently much larger than normal (the intermittent pattern is crucial). From a medical standpoint, this is not at all subtle or to be dismissed — on the contrary, it is glaring. Sirens Blaring. Red flashing lights.
I write this article with the expertise of both an ophthalmologist as well as a body language expert.
In the image above Trump’s pupils are approximately 8.0 mm. The dark-adapted eyes of a healthy 12-year-old may have 8.0 mm pupils — but in an unmedicated 70-year-old with healthy eyes, in a well-lit room — the statistical odds of such large pupil size approaches zero.
Why is this significant? Dilated pupils, to this degree, would not occur in a 70-year-old, in a well-lit room unless there is either disease, injury or a pharmacologic cause present. Trump’s pupils are frequently but intermittently this large (sometimes they are indeed within normal size limits).
Trump’s enlarged pupils are much less likely a sign of a significant undiagnosed or undisclosed medical condition — and much more likely, a side effect of a drug/medication (one of a relatively small group of drugs).
Pupils react to both Light and Near Focusing — but also change with age
Most people know that exposure to light causes the pupils to constrict. However, you may not know that focusing on an object close up (e.g., when reading) will also cause pupils to constrict. These physiologic findings are normal for all healthy eyes. We cannot medically test for these stimuli (response to a bright light or response to focusing at near) on Donald Trump by evaluating available video or photos — however, at least with response to light, we can make some reasonable estimations.
You also may not realize that, under equal lighting conditions, pupils will become smaller with age. Thus an infant has much larger pupils than a 70-year-old. This change, generally speaking, isn’t very noticeable (for most casual observers) until a person reaches their 30s or 40s — and even then it’s not dramatic. But certainly, this difference is much more noticeable in a 71-year-old.
Donald Trump’s pupils are very frequently larger (often much larger) than they should be for healthy eyes of his age. His pupils are sometimes as large as they would be if they were medically dilated by an ophthalmologist (with eye drops, such as Tropicamide and Phenylephrine).
As a control, we can compare Trump’s pupils to those who have interviewed him, and are under the same light conditions. In the images immediately above and below, we see Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson during a 15 March 2017 interview.
Trump’s pupils are approximately 5.0 mm in diameter while Carlson’s are 3.0 mm. Carlson is 23 years younger than Trump, thus all other things being equal, Carlson’s pupils under equal light conditions should be larger — not equal, let alone smaller — than Trump’s pupils.
Are Donald Trump’s Large Pupils a complication Cataract Surgery?
This is highly doubtful
Cataracts are an entirely normal aging process. Virtually all 71-year-old people have at least mild evidence of cataracts (and certainly they may be moderate or advanced) and thus many will have cataract development to a degree for which surgery is indicated. And while it’s not entirely clear if Trump has had cataract surgery, some of the available images online are physically close and with high enough resolution to suggest this is the case.
For several decades it’s been considered at least a mild-to-moderate surgical complication to have a permanently dilated pupil (or partially/permanently/poorly reactive pupil) after cataract surgery. This complication can be thought of as a form of micro-trauma to the iris. Such findings are often a signal that other complications also occurred during surgery. While even in the best surgeon’s hands, complications do occur, the likelihood that Trump had this complication in both eyes, is extremely unlikely — because each pupil constricts and contracts — a healthy quality.
Large pupils after cataract surgery often cause a lot of unwanted symptoms (e.g., glare, reflection, increased astigmatic effect, photophobia, etc.). It’s possible that Trump has some of these symptoms, but probably not to any significant degree. Indeed, if the iris is damaged — leaving large pupils after cataract surgery, often a secondary procedure is performed to make the pupil smaller — thus minimizing any of the above-mention symptoms.
Trump’s pupils are equal (or very closely so). And although they are often larger than normal, they do vary in size and are at times “within normal limits”. This finding eliminates surgical complications as a cause of Trump’s often larger pupil size. Pupils damaged as a result of surgery wouldn’t respond in this manner.
In this image, his pupils are 3.5–4.0 mm (the slight difference in his pupil size [known as physiologic Anisocoria] is not significant or medically noteworthy — although certainly if one pupil was much larger or much smaller, it would be very important). So here we see that his pupils ARE indeed ABLE to contract to a smaller size — and this is crucial. But the question is — why are they intermittently so large, so often?
Are Trump’s large pupils due to him deliberate dilating his own pupils with eye drops?
This is highly doubtful
Medications such as Atropine, Scopolamine, Phenylephrine, Tropicamide, Homatropine, and Cyclopentolate are used to dilate pupils for ophthalmic examinations. These are also used to treat certain medical conditions in the eyes. Most notably these include various inflammatory conditions (Iritis, Uveitis, etc.). These conditions will often be correlated with diseases which frequently have serious ramifications for other parts of the body (thus may represent ophthalmic manifestations of systemic diseases).
Occasionally, people will deliberately dilate their pupils so as to feign a medical condition and thus seek attention (Munchausen syndrome). This is an extremely unlikely cause in the case of President Trump’s pupils — for he always tries to present himself as extremely healthy.
Very uncommonly to rarely, a person will inadvertently get a bit of medication or a chemical compound in their eye which will dilate a pupil. There are even species of plants, which, upon gardening and then rubbing one’s eye will have this effect. When this occurs, it will almost always effect only one eye — not both. Again, a long-term observation of Trump’s eyes negates this possibility.
Are Trump’s large pupils due to Trauma?
What about trauma? Could eye or head trauma cause a person’s pupils to be large? Yes — but not in Trump’s case. Since Donald Trump’s pupils change in size over time, and they are round (not irregular in shape) and equal in size — trauma can be eliminated as a cause.
What about a Disease or other Medical Condition?
Below is a list of medical causes of Enlarged Pupils, none of which applies in Trump’s case, for multiple reasons, but in particular because his pupil size changes over time and also would have multiple other associated symptoms with any of these conditions.
Adie’s Pupils, bilateral
Cranial Nerve III (Oculomotor nerves), partial and bilateral,
Increased Intracranial Pressure
Iris scaring (synechia) secondary to injury or inflammatory disease (Iritis/Uveitis)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Sylvian Aqueduct Syndrome
Tumors/space occupying lesions
Venom from various poisonous animals (certain snakes, spiders, octopi, and fish)
What about Medications/Drugs as a Cause of Trump’s Large Pupils?
This cause is Highly Likely
Are Trump’s large pupils caused by Systemic Drugs? (medications not used in eye drops [as mentioned above], but taken by mouth or by other means) — From a medical standpoint, this is highly probable. Here’s a of list of the possibilities (of course, anesthesia and those labeled with “poisoning” and “overdose” don’t apply):
5-HT2A receptor-mediated psychedelic drugs
Anesthesia (deep general anesthesia or near-total spinal anesthesia)
Antidepressants such as (such as TCAs [overdosage], SSRIs, SNRIs, and MAOIs)
Summary: President Donald Trump’s pupils are intermittently and significantly dilated — from a medical standpoint, this is NOT normal. The ambient light conditions cannot account for such changes. At other times they are within normal limits. This intermittent pattern is NOT due to trauma, complications from surgery, or disease. I have not examined Donald Trump and I have no firsthand knowledge of him — however, the myriad of photographic evidence available online seems to point strongly to the remaining possible etiology — Donald Trump’s Intermittently Dilated Pupils are due to the side effects of drugs/medications.
Recent reports by journalist Kurt Eichenwald are consistent with this conclusion.
I invite everyone to refute or confirm these medical findings — particularly those physicians with neuro-ophthalmology expertise.
I also suggest that an independent party set up a publicly available, online photo/video diary to chronologically highlight and monitor President Trump’s pupils.
Body Language Analysis №4220: President Trump’s Reaction to Governor Jay Inslee (“We need a little less tweeting here and a little more listening”)
Body Language Analysis №4219: Ivanka Trump’s Reaction to Question regarding Donald Trump’s Sexual Assault Accusers
Body Language Analysis №4217: Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther, Anxiety, and Alpha Up-Regulation
Body Language Analysis №4215: NRA’s Dana Loesch at CPAC: “Many in Legacy Media Love Mass Shootings”
Body Language Analysis №4196: Trey Gowdy on “Face The Nation”
Body Language Analysis №4181: Ann Curry, Matt Lauer, “Verbal Sexual” Harassment, and NBC
Body Language Analysis №4167: Gary Oldman, Hugh Jackman, and Compliments
Body Language Analysis №4141: Vladimir Putin and Michael Flynn in Moscow (Part II)
Body Language Analysis №4082: Brother of Stephen Paddock (Las Vegas Shooter)
https://medium.com/@DrGJackBrown/body-l ... d883c8126a
'Indefensible': 7-Year-Old Child's 'Horrific' Death in DHS Custody Prompts Outrage
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/ ... ts-outrage
7-Year-Old Migrant Girl Dies Of Dehydration In Border Patrol Custody: Report
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mi ... 0b8b5cb03b
7-year-old immigrant girl dies after being arrested by border agents
https://news.yahoo.com/7-old-immigrant- ... 24891.html
Shelters holding nearly 15,000 migrant children near capacity
https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/13/politics ... index.html
Concerns raised about 'traumatized' immigrant children still in custody
https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/29/politics ... index.html
Just what were Donald Trump’s ties to the mob?
I’ve spent years investigating, and here’s what’s known.
David Cay Johnston5/22/16, 4:07 PM CET
In his signature book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump boasted that when he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City, he persuaded the state attorney general to limit the investigation of his background to six months. Most potential owners were scrutinized for more than a year. Trump argued that he was “clean as a whistle”—young enough that he hadn’t had time to get into any sort of trouble. He got the sped-up background check, and eventually got the casino license.
But Trump was not clean as a whistle. Beginning three years earlier, he’d hired mobbed-up firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan, including buying ostensibly overpriced concrete from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano. That story eventually came out in a federal investigation, which also concluded that in a construction industry saturated with mob influence, the Trump Plaza apartment building most likely benefited from connections to racketeering. Trump also failed to disclose that he was under investigation by a grand jury directed by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, who wanted to learn how Trump obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan.
Why did Trump get his casino license anyway? Why didn’t investigators look any harder? And how deep did his connections to criminals really go?
These questions ate at me as I wrote about Atlantic City for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and then went more deeply into the issues in a book, Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business. In all, I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime. Some of Trump’s unsavory connections have been followed by investigators and substantiated in court; some haven’t. And some of those links have continued until recent years, though when confronted with evidence of such associations, Trump has often claimed a faulty memory. In an April 27 phone call to respond to my questions for this story, Trump told me he did not recall many of the events recounted in this article and they “were a long time ago.” He also said that I had “sometimes been fair, sometimes not” in writing about him, adding “if I don’t like what you write, I’ll sue you.”
I’m not the only one who has picked up signals over the years. Wayne Barrett, author of a 1992 investigative biography of Trump’s real-estate dealings, has tied Trump to mob and mob-connected men.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump | John Gurzinski/AFP via Getty Images
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump | John Gurzinski/AFP via Getty Images
No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks. Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal in which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers.
This is part of the Donald Trump story that few know. As Barrett wrote in his book, Trump didn’t just do business with mobbed-up concrete companies: he also probably met personally with Salerno at the townhouse of notorious New York fixer Roy Cohn, in a meeting recounted by a Cohn staffer who told Barrett she was present. This came at a time when other developers in New York were pleading with the FBI to free them of mob control of the concrete business.
From the public record and published accounts like that one, it’s possible to assemble a clear picture of what we do know. The picture shows that Trump’s career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service.
Now that he’s running for president, I pulled together what’s known – piecing together the long history of federal filings, court records, biographical anecdotes, and research from my and Barrett’s files. What emerges is a pattern of business dealings with mob figures—not only local figures, but even the son of a reputed Russian mob boss whom Trump had at his side at a gala Trump hotel opening, but has since claimed under oath he barely knows.
Neither Trump’s campaign spokesperson, Hope Hicks, nor Jason Greenblatt, the executive vice president and chief legal officer at the Trump Organization, responded to several emailed requests for comment on the issues raised in this article.
Here, as close as we can get to the truth, is what really happened.
After graduating in 1968 from the University of Pennsylvania, a rich young man from the outer boroughs of New York City sought his fortune on the island of Manhattan. Within a few years Donald J. Trump had made friends with the city’s most notorious fixer, lawyer Roy Cohn, who had become famous as lead counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy. Among other things Cohn was now a mob consigliere, with clients including “Fat Tony” Salerno, boss of the Genovese crime family, the most powerful Mafia group in New York, and Paul Castellano, head of what was said to be the second largest family, the Gambinos.
This business connection proved useful when Trump began work on what would become Trump Tower, the 58-story highrise where he still lives when he’s not at his Florida estate.
There was something a little peculiar about the construction of Trump Tower, and subsequent Trump projects in New York. Most skyscrapers are steel girder construction, and that was especially true in the 1980s, says John Cross of the American Iron & Steel Institute. Some use pre-cast concrete. Trump chose a costlier and in many ways riskier method: ready-mix concrete. Ready-mix has some advantages: it can speed up construction, and doesn’t require costly fireproofing. But it must be poured quickly or it will harden in the delivery truck drums, ruining them as well as creating costly problems with the building itself. That leaves developers vulnerable to the unions: the worksite gate is union controlled, so even a brief labor slowdown can turn into an expensive disaster.
Trump cuts the ribbon in 2005 at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas | Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Trump cuts the ribbon in 2005 at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas | Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Salerno, Castellano and other organized crime figures controlled the ready-mix business in New York, and everyone in construction at the time knew it. So did government investigators trying to break up the mob, urged on by major developers such as the LeFrak and Resnick families. Trump ended up not only using ready-mix concrete, but also paying what a federal indictment of Salerno later concluded were inflated prices for it – repeatedly – to S & A Concrete, a firm Salerno and Castellano owned through fronts, and possibly to other mob-controlled firms. As Barrett noted, by choosing to build with ready-mix concrete rather than other materials, Trump put himself “at the mercy of a legion of concrete racketeers.”
Salerno and Castellano and other mob families controlled both the concrete business and the unions involved in delivering and pouring it. The risks this created became clear from testimony later by Irving Fischer, the general contractor who built Trump Tower. Fischer said concrete union “goons” once stormed his offices, holding a knife to throat of his switchboard operator to drive home the seriousness of their demands, which included no-show jobs during construction of Trump Tower.
But with Cohn as his lawyer, Trump apparently had no reason to personally fear Salerno or Castellano—at least, not once he agreed to pay inflated concrete prices. What Trump appeared to receive in return was union peace. That meant the project would never face costly construction or delivery delays.
The indictment on which Salerno was convicted in 1988 and sent to prison, where he died, listed the nearly $8 million contract for concrete at Trump Plaza, an East Side high-rise apartment building, as one of the acts establishing that S &A was part of a racketeering enterprise. (While the concrete business was central to the case, the trial also proved extortion, narcotics, rigged union elections and murders by the Genovese and Gambino crime families in what Michael Chertoff, the chief prosecutor, called “the largest and most vicious criminal business in the history of the United States.'')
FBI agents subpoenaed Trump in 1980 to ask about his dealing with John Cody, a Teamsters official described by law enforcement as a very close associate of the Gambino crime family. The FBI believed that Cody previously had obtained free apartments from other developers. FBI agents suspected that Cody, who controlled the flow of concrete trucks, might get a free Trump Tower apartment. Trump denied it. But a female friend of Cody’s, a woman with no job who attributed her lavish lifestyle to the kindness of friends, bought three Trump Tower apartments right beneath the triplex where Donald lived with his wife Ivana. Cody stayed there on occasion and invested $500,000 in the units. Trump, Barrett reported, helped the woman get a $3 million mortgage without filling out a loan application or showing financials.
Trump knew the Polish brigade was composed of underpaid illegal immigrants and that S&A was a mob-owned firm.
In the summer of 1982 Cody, then under indictment, ordered a citywide strike—but the concrete work continued at Trump Tower. After Cody was convicted of racketeering, imprisoned and lost control of the union, Trump sued the woman for $250,000 for alteration work. She countersued for $20 million and in court papers accused Trump of taking kickbacks from contractors, asserting this could “be the basis of a criminal proceeding requiring an attorney general’s investigation” into Trump. Trump then quickly settled, paying the woman a half-million dollars. Trump said at the time and since then that he hardly knew those involved and there was nothing improper his dealings with Cody or the woman.
There were other irregularities in Trump’s first big construction project. In 1979, when Trump hired a demolition contractor to take down the Bonwit Teller department store to make way for Trump Tower, he hired as many as 200 non-union men to work alongside about 15 members of the House Wreckers Union Local 95. The non-union workers were mostly illegal Polish immigrants paid $4 to $6 per hour with no benefits, far below the union contract. At least some of them did not use power tools but sledgehammers, working 12 hours a day or more and often seven days a week. Known as the “Polish brigade,” many didn’t wear hard hats. Many slept on the construction site.
Normally the use of nonunion workers at a union job site would have guaranteed a picket line. Not at this site, however. Work proceeded because the Genovese family principally controlled the union; this was demonstrated by extensive testimony, documents and convictions in federal trials, as well as a later report by the New York State Organized Crime Task Force.
When the Polish workers and a union dissident sued for their pay and benefits, Trump denied any knowledge that illegal workers without hard hats were taking down Bonwit with sledgehammers. The trial, however, demonstrated otherwise: Testimony showed that Trump panicked when the nonunion Polish men threatened a work stoppage because they had not been paid. Trump turned to Daniel Sullivan, a labor fixer and FBI informant, who told him to fire the Polish workers.
Trump knew the Polish brigade was composed of underpaid illegal immigrants and that S&A was a mob-owned firm, according to Sullivan and others. "Donald told me that he was having his difficulties and he admitted to me that — seeking my advice — that he had some illegal Polish employees on the job. I reacted by saying to Donald that 'I think you are nuts,'" Sullivan testified at the time. "I told him to fire them promptly if he had any brains." In an interview later, Sullivan told me the same thing.
In 1991, a federal judge, Charles E. Stewart Jr., ruled that Trump had engaged in a conspiracy to violate a fiduciary duty, or duty of loyalty, to the workers and their union and that the “breach involved fraud and the Trump defendants knowingly participated in his breach.” The judge did not find Trump’s testimony to be sufficiently credible and set damages at $325,000. The case was later settled by negotiation, and the agreement was reportedly sealed.
While Trump’s buildings were going up in Manhattan, he was entering a highly regulated industry in New Jersey – one that had the responsibility, and the means, to investigate him and bring the facts to light.
From the beginning, Trump tried to have it both ways. While he leveraged Roy Cohn’s mob contacts in New York, he was telling the FBI he wanted nothing to do with organized crime in Atlantic City, and even proposed putting an undercover FBI agent in his casinos. In April of 1981, when he was considering building a New Jersey casino, he expressed concern about his reputation in a meeting with the FBI, according to an FBI document in my possession and which the site Smoking Gun also posted. “Trump advised Agents that he had read in the press media and had heard from various acquaintances that Organized Crime elements were known to operate in Atlantic City,” the FBI recorded. “Trump also expressed at this meeting the reservation that his life and those around him would be subject to microscopic examination. Trump advised that he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City but he did not wish to tarnish his family’s name.”
Part of the licensing process was supposed to be a deep investigation into his background, taking more than a year for would-be casino owners, but Trump managed to cut that short. As he told the story in The Art of the Deal, in 1981 he threatened to not build in Atlantic City unless New Jersey’s attorney general, John Degnan, limited the investigation to six months. Degnan was worried that Trump might someday get approval for a casino at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan, which could have crushed Atlantic City’s lucrative gaming industry, so Degnan agreed to Trump’s terms. Trump seemingly paid Degnan back by becoming an ardent foe of gambling anywhere in the East except Atlantic City—a position that obviously protected his newfound business investment as well, of course.
Trump was required to disclose any investigations in which he might have been involved in the past, even if they never resulted in charges. Trump didn’t disclose a federal grand jury inquiry into how he obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan. The failure to disclose either that inquiry or the Cody inquiry probably should have disqualified Trump from receiving a license under the standards set by the gaming authorities.
Trump didn’t disclose a federal grand jury inquiry into how he obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan.
Once Trump was licensed in 1982, critical facts that should have resulted in license denial began emerging in Trump’s own books and in reports by Barrett—an embarrassment for the licensing commission and state investigators, who were supposed to have turned these stones over. Forced after the fact to look into Trump’s connections, the two federal investigations he failed to reveal and other matters, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement investigators circled the wagons to defend their work. First they dismissed as unreliable what mobsters, corrupt union bosses and Trump’s biggest customer, among others, had said to Barrett, to me and other journalists and filmmakers about their dealings with Trump. The investigators’ reports showed that they then put Trump under oath. Trump denied any misconduct or testified that he could not remember. They took him at his word. That meant his casino license was secure even though others in the gambling industry, including low-level licensees like card dealers, had been thrown out for far less.
This lapse illustrated a fundamental truth about casino regulation at the time: Once the state licensed an owner, the Division of Gaming Enforcement had a powerful incentive not to overturn its initial judgment. State officials recited like a mantra their promise that New Jersey casinos were the most highly regulated business in state history, more tightly regulated than nuclear power plants. In Temples of Chance I showed that this reputation often owed less to careful enforcement than to their willingness to look the other way when problems arose.
In 1986, three years after Trump Tower opened, Roy Cohn was disbarred for attempting to steal from a client, lying and other conduct that an appellate court found “particularly reprehensible.”
Trump testified that Cohn, who was dying from AIDS, was a man of good character who should keep his license to practice law.
This was not the only time Trump went to bat publicly for a criminal. He has also spoken up for Shapiro and Sullivan. And then there was the case of Joseph Weichselbaum, an embezzler who ran Trump’s personal helicopter service and ferried his most valued clientele.
Donald Trump vouched for Weichselbaum before his sentencing, writing that the drug trafficker is “a credit to the community” who was “conscientious, forthright, and diligent.”
Trump and Weichselbaum were so close, Barrett reported in his book, that Weichselbaum told his parole officer about how he knew Trump was hiding his mistress, Marla Maples, from his first wife, Ivana, and tried to persuade Trump to end their years-long affair.
Trump’s casinos retained Weichselbaum’s firm to fly high rollers to Atlantic City. Weichselbaum was indicted in Ohio on charges of trafficking in marijuana and cocaine. The head of one of Trump’s casinos was notified of the indictment in October 1985, but Trump continued using Weichselbaum—conduct that again could have cost Trump his casino license had state regulators pressed the matter, because casino owners were required to distance themselves from any hint of crime. Just two months later Trump rented an apartment he owned in the Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan to the pilot and his brother for $7,000 a month in cash and flight services. Trump also continued paying Weichselbaum’s firm even after it went bankrupt.
Weichselbaum, who in 1979 had been caught embezzling and had to repay the stolen money, pleaded guilty to two felonies.
Donald Trump vouched for Weichselbaum before his sentencing, writing that the drug trafficker is “a credit to the community” who was “conscientious, forthright, and diligent.” And while Weichselbaum’s confederates got as many as 20 years, Weichselbaum himself got only three, serving 18 months before he was released from the urban prison that the Bureau of Prisons maintains in New York City. In seeking early release, Weichselbaum said Trump had a job waiting for him.
Weichselbaum then moved into Trump Tower, his girlfriend having recently bought two adjoining apartments there for $2.4 million. The cash purchase left no public record of whether any money actually changed hands or, if it did, where it came from. I asked Trump at the time for documents relating to the sale; he did not respond.
As a casino owner, Trump could have lost his license for associating with Weichselbaum. Trump has never been known to use drugs or even drink. What motivated him to risk his valuable license by standing up for a drug trafficker remains unclear to this day.
Trump, in his phone call to me, said he “hardly knew” Weichselbaum.
The facts above come from court records, interviews and other documents in my own files and those generously made available by Barrett, who was the first journalist to take a serious investigative look at Trump. Our files show Trump connected in various deals to many other mobsters and wise guys.
Thanks in part to the laxity of New Jersey gaming investigators, Trump has never had to address his dealings with mobsters and swindlers head-on.
There was, for example, Felix Sater, a senior Trump advisor and son of a reputed Russian mobster, whom Trump kept on long after he was convicted in a mob-connected stock swindle. And there was Bob Libutti, a racehorse swindler who was quite possibly Trump’s biggest customer at the casino tables at the time. Libutti told me and others about arrangements that went beyond the “comps”—free hotel rooms and services, for example—that casinos can legally give to high-rollers. Among these was a deal to sell Trump a less-than-fit horse at the inflated price of $500,000, though Trump backed out at the last minute. Libutti accused Trump of making an improper $250,000 payment to him, which would have cost Trump his license. The DGE dismissed Libutti as unreliable and took Trump at his word when he denied the allegations. (Libutti was a major figure in my 1992 book Temples of Chance.)
Some of the dealings came at a remove. In Atlantic City, Trump built on property where mobsters controlled parts of the adjoining land needed for parking. He paid $1.1 million for about a 5,000-square-foot lot that had been bought five years earlier for just $195,000. The sellers were Salvy Testa and Frank Narducci Jr., a pair of hitmen for Atlantic City mob boss Nicky Scarfo who were known as the Young Executioners. For several adjoining acres, Trump ignored the principal owner of record and instead negotiated directly in a deal that also likely ended up benefiting the Scarfo mob. Trump arranged a 98-year lease deal with Sullivan, the FBI informant and labor fixer, and Ken Shapiro, described in government reports as Scarfo’s “investment banker.” Eventually the lease was converted into a sale after the Division of Gaming Enforcement objected to Sullivan and Shapiro being Trump’s landlords.
Trump later boasted in a sworn affidavit in a civil case that he made the deals himself, his “unique contribution” making the land deals possible. In formal hearings Trump later defended Sullivan and Shapiro as “well thought of.” Casino regulators thought otherwise, and banned Sullivan and Shapiro from the casino industry. But the Casino Control Commission was never asked to look into FBI reports that Trump was involved, via Shapiro, in the payoffs at the time of the land deals that resulted in Mayor Michael Mathews going to prison
Thanks in part to the laxity of New Jersey gaming investigators, Trump has never had to address his dealings with mobsters and swindlers head-on. For instance, Barrett reported in his book that Trump was believed to have met personally with Salerno at Roy Cohn’s townhouse; he found that there were witnesses to the meeting, one of whom kept detailed notes on all of Cohn’s contacts. But instead of looking for the witnesses (one of whom had died) and the office diary one kept, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) took an easier path. They put Trump under oath and asked if he had ever attended such a meeting. Trump denied it. The inquiry ended.
“Why’d Donald do it? Because he saw these mob guys as pathways to money, and Donald is all about money” — Wayne Barrett, Trump biographer
Taking Trump at his word that he never met with the mobsters in Cohn’s townhouse saved the casino investigators from having to acknowledge their earlier failure—that from the start, they had never properly investigated Trump and his connections to criminals. They certainly had the leverage to push harder if they chose. Indeed, two of the five Casino Control commissioners in 1991 declared that the DGE showed official favoritism to Trump. Commissioner David Waters complained that DGE did not go nearly far enough in seeking a $30,000 fine against Trump for taking an illegal loan from his father, which could be grounds to revoke Trump’s casino licenses. Waters called it “an outrage that the Division of Gaming Enforcement would take this position and fail to carry out what I understand to be its responsibility to enforce the provisions of the Casino Control Act.”
Even after he got his license, Trump continued to have relationships that should have prompted inquiries. For example, he made a deal to have Cadillacs dolled up with fancy interiors and exteriors beginning in 1988, marketing them as Trump Golden Series and Trump Executive Series limousines. The modifications were made at the Dillinger Coach Works, which was owned by a pair of convicted felons, convicted extortionist Jack Schwartz and convicted thief John Staluppi, who was so close to mobsters that he was invited to the wedding of a mob capo’s daughter. New York liquor regulators proved tougher than those in New Jersey, denying Staluppi, a rich car dealer, a license because of his rap sheet and his extensive dealings with mobsters, as Barrett’s former reporting partner Bill Bastone found in public records. So why did Trump repeatedly do business with mob owned businesses and mob-controlled unions? Why go down the aisle with an expensive mobbed-up concrete firm when other options were available?
“Why’d Donald do it?” Barrett said when I put the question to him. “Because he saw these mob guys as pathways to money, and Donald is all about money.”
From a $400 million tax giveaway on his first big project, to getting a casino license, to collecting fees for putting his name on everything from bottled water and buildings to neckties and steaks, Trump’s life has been dedicated to the next big score. Through Cohn, Trump made choices that—gratuitously, it appears—resulted in his first known business dealings with mob-controlled companies and unions, a pattern that continued long after Cohn died.
What Trump has to say about the reasons for his long, close and wide-ranging dealings with organized crime figures, with the role of mobsters in cheating Trump Tower workers, his dealings with Felix Sater and Trump’s seeming leniency for Weichselbaum, are questions that voters deserve full answers about before casting their ballots.
David Cay Johnston won a Pulitzer Prize for his New York Times reporting on the American tax system. Since 2009 he has taught the business, property and tax law of the ancient world at Syracuse University’s law and graduate business schools.
https://www.politico.eu/article/what-we ... stigation/
Here’s when the government shutdown will hurt even more
By Kate Irby
January 04, 2019 12:25 PM,
Disputes over funding for a border wall between triggered a partial government shutdown Dec. 22 — and there’s no apparent end to the impasse.
Agencies out of money include the Departments of Treasury, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Agriculture, Justice, Commerce, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Also affected are several smaller departments.
In addition to more abstract ways the partial government shutdown obviously gets worse as time goes on, such as more work piling up and additional trash and waste in non-staffed national parks, the longer the shutdown goes, the worse the pain. A timeline of what’s to come:
JANUARY 11: Friday marked the end of the first pay period that fell entirely within the shutdown, meaning furloughed employees will first miss a paycheck covering that pay period on Jan. 11.
THIRD WEEK OF JANUARY: The Internal Revenue Service has not yet announced when it would begin accepting 2019 tax returns, but typically it happens in the third week of January.
FIRST WEEK OF FEBRUARY: Billions of dollars are refunded to households by the first week of February every year. But a shuttered IRS won’t be able to process tax returns. People will continue paying their taxes, but won’t receive refunds as promptly as usual. The average refund in 2017 and 2018 was just more than $2,000.
FEBRUARY 4: The president has to submit his budget proposal to Congress by the first Monday in February. If the shutdown continues, typical agency input on what that proposal should include won’t be available and the budget process for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, will be stalled.
FEBRUARY: Low income households can receive food aid from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. The shutdown puts more than 40 million people at risk of having their benefits dry up. While January benefits are expected to remain intact, it’s unclear what could happen next month.
FEBRUARY: States, which rely on federal funding for big chunks of their budgets, will start to feel the sting as money for highways, community programs and other services could be delayed.
https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/loc ... 21885.html
A partially closed government has the potential to affect nearly every facet of American lifestyles
The government’s partial shutdown is poised to put many taxpayers in tough spots.
This is the second-longest shutdown in 20 years — going on two weeks — and sparked by a disagreement between both parties to fund President Trump’s proposed border wall. A partially closed government has the potential to affect nearly every facet of American lifestyles, including delaying package deliveries and air travel. Federal employees are also at risk of missing credit-card payments or paying their rent or mortgage bills — about 420,000 people could end up working without pay.
The Internal Revenue Service is one agency currently strained. Less than half (43.5%) of the agency’s roughly 80,000 workers are expected to work at the beginning of this year, under the IRS’s contingency plan. (Before the end of 2018, only 12.5% of the workforce were working). Their jobs will include designing and printing upcoming tax forms, overseeing electronic returns processed through the system, continuing IRS computer operations to prevent loss of data and conducting criminal investigations.
The IRS did not respond to a request for comment.
Still, fewer employees will affect taxpayers and tax professionals preparing for the 2019 return filing season, which is widely expected to begin at the end of the month.
Here’s where taxpayers are at risk:
The IRS will continue to accept returns, as well as tax payments, but it won’t issue refunds during the shutdown. The impact this will have on taxpayers during the 2019 tax season will be significant if the shutdown extends for the next few weeks, but could even affect some taxpayers now — primarily, individuals who filed amended returns and businesses who have unique filing deadlines, said Tim Steffen, the director of advanced planning at financial-services firm Baird.
The last government shutdown, in January 2018, lasted only two days and did not affect taxpayers. But the one prior, which happened in 2013 under the Obama administration, went on for 16 days and caused $2.2 billion in delayed refunds to individuals and another $1.5 billion to businesses. More than 90% of IRS workers were furloughed, meaning they were not working under the shutdown.
For some Americans, tax refunds are critical to their financial well-being. Most Americans use refunds to pay off their credit cards or student loans, or pad their savings accounts. Others take trips or put the money toward their personal goals, like a fairy tale wedding or a dream home.
But many Americans also spend their tax refund — almost immediately — on their health. Health care spending typically rises 60% the week following a tax refund, according to J.P. Morgan Chase Institute, especially for cash-strapped families who can’t afford out-of-pocket medical expenses.
No transcripts for loans
Homebuyers might have a harder time getting proof of income for their home-loan applications. Lenders typically require a transcript, administered by the IRS and called Form 3506-T, which verifies income for potential homebuyers. Under a government shutdown, the only transcripts the IRS will issue are those related to disaster relief efforts, according to the contingency plan.
Taxpayers who work for big companies may not have too much of an issue, if a bank or other lender is willing to accept W-2 forms the company has filed. But that might not work for everyone, Steffens said, especially given how easy it has become to forge documents. Potential homebuyers who are also self-employed or retired might find trouble without a transcript, which could lead to a delay in the home buying or finding other methods of proof.
MORE...https://www.marketwatch.com/story/3-unf ... 2019-01-04
Donald J. Trump
At least this precedent will make it easy for President @aoc to declare a national emergency to deal with climate change. (And yes, I know she is too young to be President.)
https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1 ... 5204318209
Pentagon chief of staff Kevin Sweeney resigns
Trump Says He Can Declare National Emergency to Build Wall
Toluse OlorunnipaJanuary 4, 2019, 5:21 PM CST
January 4, 2019, 2:00 PM CST
President will first give negotiations with Democrats ‘a shot’
Democrats reject using national emergency as ‘legally dubious’
Trump Says He Can Use Emergency Power to Build Border Wall
Trump Says Pelosi Told Him She's Not Looking to Impeach
Trump Says He's Considering Using Emergency Powers for Wall Funding
President Donald Trump said he could declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, shortly after threatening Democrats that he’s prepared to keep part of the government shut down for a year or longer if his demands aren’t met.
“Absolutely we can call a national emergency because of the security of our country,” Trump said Friday at the White House. “I haven’t done it. I may do it. We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly.”
Trump’s comments were quickly met with skepticism within his own party and sharp criticism by Democrats. Several lawmakers and experts said Congress would still be required to allocate the funds for the wall even if the president declared a national emergency.
“He could declare an emergency, but that does not create the funding,” said former Republican Senate Budget Committee staff director Bill Hoagland. “Congress would still have to fund the emergency.”
House Democrats suggested they would sue if Trump tries to declare a national emergency to build the wall.
“The president’s authority in this area is intended for wars and genuine national emergencies,” Evan Hollander, spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. “Asserting this authority to build a wasteful wall is legally dubious and would invite a legal challenge from Congress.”
Trump made the comments just moments after Democratic leaders left the White House saying there had been no progress toward a deal during a nearly two-hour meeting on Friday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the meeting was contentious, and that Trump refused their proposal to reopen government and deal separately with the dispute over the wall.
“We really can not resolve this until we open up government, and we made that clear to the president,” Pelosi told reporters Friday after the White House meeting.
Trump, however, said moments later that the meeting was productive. The sides agreed to meet over the weekend, and Trump expressed optimism that an agreement could be forged.
Parts of the U.S. government have been shut down for 14 days after Trump refused to sign a spending bill that didn’t include billions of dollars to continue construction of a border wall, his top campaign promise. He remains at an impasse with congressional Democrats, who consider the proposed wall a waste of money and have refused to fund it.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office, said Trump would still need Congress for the funds.
“Congress holds the purse strings,” said Holtz-Eakin, who was served as chief economic policy adviser to Republican Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “That’s the essence of this dispute. He can declare a national emergency all he wants, but where’s he going to get the money?”
Washington Democrat Adam Smith, the incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Trump would be harming the military if he tried to fund the wall through a national emergency declaration.
“Diverting money from these military construction accounts could have substantial impacts for service members at installations across the country and on defense projects that are important in supporting readiness, training, operations, and quality of life for military personnel and their families,” Smith said.
Trump has claimed broad public support for building a wall or other barrier that Democrats call a waste of money. The standoff has shuttered nine of the 15 federal departments and left hundreds of thousands of workers on furlough or working without pay. Asked whether he accepted responsibility for the shutdown, Trump responded: “You can call it the Schumer or the Pelosi or the Trump shutdown, it doesn’t matter to me. Just words.”
“If we can do it through a negotiated process, we’re giving that a shot,” Trump said.
— With assistance by Erik Wasson
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... build-wall
Why Is Trump Spouting Russian Propaganda?
The president’s endorsement of the U.S.S.R.’s invasion of Afghanistan echoes a narrative promoted by Vladimir Putin.
David FrumJan 3, 2019
Staff writer at The Atlantic
It was only one moment in a 90-minute stream of madness.
President Donald Trump convened a Cabinet meeting, at which he invited all its members to praise him for his stance on the border wall and the government shutdown. There’s always a lively competition to see which member of the Cabinet can grovel most abjectly. The newcomer Matthew Whitaker may be only the acting attorney general, but despite—or perhaps because of—that tentative status, he delivered one of the strongest entries, saluting the president for sacrificing his Christmas and New Year’s holiday for the public good, and contrasting that to members of Congress who had left Washington during the Trump-created crisis.
But that was not the crazy part.
The crazy part came during the president’s monologue defending his decision to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria and 7,000 from Afghanistan, about half the force in that country.
“Russia used to be the Soviet Union,” he said.
Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia … the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you’re reading about now are no longer part of Russia, because of Afghanistan.
Let’s go to the replay:
The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there.
To appreciate the shock value of Trump’s words, it’s necessary to dust off some Cold War history. Those of us who grew up in the last phases of the Cold War used to know it all by heart, but I admit I had to do a little Googling to refresh my faded memories.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archi ... an/579361/
The People vs. Donald J. Trump
He is demonstrably unfit for office. What are we waiting for?
Jan. 5, 2019
The presidential oath of office contains 35 words and one core promise: to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Since virtually the moment Donald J. Trump took that oath two years ago, he has been violating it.
He has repeatedly put his own interests above those of the country. He has used the presidency to promote his businesses. He has accepted financial gifts from foreign countries. He has lied to the American people about his relationship with a hostile foreign government. He has tolerated cabinet officials who use their position to enrich themselves.
To shield himself from accountability for all of this — and for his unscrupulous presidential campaign — he has set out to undermine the American system of checks and balances. He has called for the prosecution of his political enemies and the protection of his allies. He has attempted to obstruct justice. He has tried to shake the public’s confidence in one democratic institution after another, including the press, federal law enforcement and the federal judiciary.
The unrelenting chaos that Trump creates can sometimes obscure the big picture. But the big picture is simple: The United States has never had a president as demonstrably unfit for the office as Trump. And it’s becoming clear that 2019 is likely to be dominated by a single question: What are we going to do about it?
The easy answer is to wait — to allow the various investigations of Trump to run their course and ask voters to deliver a verdict in 2020. That answer has one great advantage. It would avoid the national trauma of overturning an election result. Ultimately, however, waiting is too dangerous. The cost of removing a president from office is smaller than the cost of allowing this president to remain.
He has already shown, repeatedly, that he will hurt the country in order to help himself. He will damage American interests around the world and damage vital parts of our constitutional system at home. The risks that he will cause much more harm are growing.
President Trump meeting with members of his cabinet at the White House on Wednesday.Doug Mills/The New York Times
Some of the biggest moderating influences have recently left the administration. The defense secretary who defended our alliances with NATO and South Korea is gone. So is the attorney general who refused to let Trump subvert a federal investigation into himself. The administration is increasingly filled with lackeys and enablers. Trump has become freer to turn his whims into policy — like, say, shutting down the government on the advice of Fox News hosts or pulling troops from Syria on the advice of a Turkish autocrat.
The biggest risk may be that an external emergency — a war, a terrorist attack, a financial crisis, an immense natural disaster — will arise. By then, it will be too late to pretend that he is anything other than manifestly unfit to lead.
For the country’s sake, there is only one acceptable outcome, just as there was after Americans realized in 1974 that a criminal was occupying the Oval Office. The president must go.
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Achieving this outcome won’t be easy. It will require honorable people who have served in the Trump administration to share, publicly, what they have seen and what they believe. (At this point, anonymous leaks are not sufficient.) It will require congressional Republicans to acknowledge that they let a con man take over their party and then defended that con man. It will require Democrats and progressive activists to understand that a rushed impeachment may actually help Trump remain in office.
But if removing him will not be easy, it’s not as unlikely as it may sometimes seem. From the beginning, Trump has been an unusually weak president, as political scientists have pointed out. Although members of Congress have not done nearly enough to constrain him, no other recent president has faced nearly so much public criticism or private disdain from his own party.
Since the midterm election showed the political costs that Trump inflicts on Republicans, this criticism seems to be growing. They have broken with him on foreign policy (in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Syria) and are anxious about the government shutdown. Trump is vulnerable to any erosion in his already weak approval rating, be it from an economic downturn, more Russia revelations or simply the defection of a few key allies. When support for an unpopular leader starts to crack, it can crumble.
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Before we get to the how of Trump’s removal, though, I want to spend a little more time on the why — because even talking about the ouster of an elected president should happen only under extreme circumstances. Unfortunately, the country is now so polarized that such talk instead occurs with every president. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama were subjected to reckless calls for their impeachment, from members of Congress no less.
So let’s be clear. Trump’s ideology is not an impeachable offense. However much you may disagree with Trump’s tax policy — and I disagree vehemently — it is not a reason to remove him from office. Nor are his efforts to cut government health insurance or to deport undocumented immigrants. Such issues, among others, are legitimate matters of democratic struggle, to be decided by elections, legislative debates, protests and the other normal tools of democracy. These issues are not the “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” that the founders intended impeachment to address.
Yet the founders also did not intend for the removal of a president to be impossible. They insisted on including an impeachment clause in the Constitution because they understood that an incompetent or corrupt person was nonetheless likely to attain high office every so often. And they understood how much harm such a person could do. The country needed a way to address what Alexander Hamilton called “the abuse or violation of some public trust” and James Madison called the “incapacity, negligence or perfidy” of a president.
The negligence and perfidy of President Trump — his high crimes and misdemeanors — can be separated into four categories. This list is conservative. It does not include the possibility that his campaign coordinated strategy with Russia, which remains uncertain. It also does not include his lazy approach to the job, like his refusal to read briefing books or the many empty hours on his schedule. It instead focuses on demonstrable ways that he has broken the law or violated his constitutional oath.
Trump has used the presidency for personal enrichment.
Regardless of party, Trump’s predecessors took elaborate steps to separate their personal financial interests from their governing responsibilities. They released their tax returns, so that any potential conflicts would be public. They placed their assets in a blind trust, to avoid knowing how their policies might affect their own investments.
Trump has instead treated the presidency as a branding opportunity. He has continued to own and promote the Trump Organization. He has spent more than 200 days at one of his properties and billed taxpayers for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Trump International Hotel in Washington. Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times
The Trump International Hotel in Washington. Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times
If this pattern were merely petty corruption, without damage to the national interest, it might not warrant removal from office. But Trump’s focus on personal profit certainly appears to be affecting policy. Most worrisome, foreign officials and others have realized they can curry favor with the president by spending money at one of his properties.
Saudi Arabia has showered the Trump Organization with business, and Trump has stood by the Saudis despite their brutal war in Yemen and their assassination of a prominent critic. A Chinese government-owned company reportedly gave a $500 million loan to a Trump-backed project in Indonesia; two days later, Trump announced that he was lifting sanctions on another well-connected Chinese company.
These examples, and many more, flout Article 1 of the Constitution, which bans federal officeholders from accepting “emoluments” from any foreign country unless Congress approves the arrangement. Madison, when making the case for an impeachment clause, spoke of a president who “might betray his trust to foreign powers.”
Then, of course, there is Russia. Even before Robert Mueller, the special counsel, completes his investigation, the known facts are damning enough in at least one way. Trump lied to the American people during the 2016 campaign about business negotiations between his company and Vladimir Putin’s government. As president, Trump has taken steps — in Europe and Syria — that benefit Putin. To put it succinctly: The president of the United States lied to the country about his commercial relationship with a hostile foreign government toward which he has a strangely accommodating policy.
President Trump with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in July.Doug Mills/The New York Times
Combine Trump’s actions with his tolerance for unethical cabinet officials — including ones who have made shady stock trades, accepted lavish perks or used government to promote their own companies or those of their friends — and the Trump administration is almost certainly the most corrupt in American history. It makes Warren G. Harding’s Teapot Dome scandal look like, well, a tempest in a teapot.
Trump has violated campaign finance law.
A Watergate grand jury famously described Richard Nixon as “an unindicted co-conspirator.” Trump now has his own indictment tag: “Individual-1.”
Federal prosecutors in New York filed papers last month alleging that Trump — identified as Individual-1 — directed a criminal plan to evade campaign finance laws. It happened during the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, when he instructed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay a combined $280,000 in hush money to two women with whom Trump evidently had affairs. Trump and his campaign did not disclose these payments, as required by law. In the two years since, Trump has lied publicly about them — initially saying he did not know about the payments, only to change his story later.
President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen arriving at Federal Court in New York in December.Corey Sipkin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Mr. Cohen behind then-candidate Donald Trump during a campaign stop in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in 2016.Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
It’s worth acknowledging that most campaign finance violations do not warrant removal from office. But these payments were not most campaign finance violations. They involved large, secret payoffs in the final weeks of a presidential campaign that, prosecutors said, “deceived the voting public.” The seriousness of the deception is presumably the reason that the prosecutors filed criminal charges against Cohen, rather than the more common penalty of civil fines for campaign finance violations.
What should happen to a president who won office with help from criminal behavior? The founders specifically considered this possibility during their debates at the Constitutional Convention. The most direct answer came from George Mason: A president who “practiced corruption and by that means procured his appointment in the first instance” should be subject to impeachment.
Trump has obstructed justice.
Whatever Mueller ultimately reveals about the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump has obstructed justice to keep Mueller — and others — from getting to the truth.
Protesters gathered in front of the White House last November.Andrew Harnik/Associated Press
Again and again, Trump has interfered with the investigation in ways that may violate the law and clearly do violate decades-old standards of presidential conduct. He pressured James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, to let up on the Russia investigation, as a political favor. When Comey refused, Trump fired him. Trump also repeatedly pressured Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, to halt the investigation and ultimately forced Sessions to resign for not doing so. Trump has also publicly hounded several of the government’s top experts on Russian organized crime, including Andrew McCabe and Bruce Ohr.
And Trump has repeatedly lied to the American people. He has claimed, outrageously, that the Justice Department tells witnesses to lie in exchange for leniency. He has rejected, with no factual basis, the findings of multiple intelligence agencies about Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign. He reportedly helped his son Donald Trump Jr. draft a false statement about a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer.
Obstruction of justice is certainly grounds for the removal of a president. It was the subject of the first Nixon article of impeachment passed by the House Judiciary Committee. Among other things, that article accused him of making “false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.”
Trump has subverted democracy.
The Constitution that Trump swore to uphold revolves around checks and balances. It depends on the idea that the president is not a monarch. He is a citizen to whom, like all other citizens, the country’s laws apply. Trump rejects this principle. He has instead tried to undermine the credibility of any independent source of power or information that does not serve his interests.
It’s much more than just the Russia investigation. He has tried to delegitimize federal judges based on their ethnicity or on the president who appointed them, drawing a rare rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts. Trump has criticized the Justice Department for indicting Republican politicians during an election year. He has called for Comey, Hillary Clinton and other political opponents of his to be jailed.
Trump has described journalists as “the enemy of the people” — an insult usually leveled by autocrats. He has rejected basic factual findings from the C.I.A., the Congressional Budget Office, research scientists and others. He has told bald lies about election fraud.
Individually, these sins may not seem to deserve removal from office. Collectively, though, they exact a terrible toll on American society. They cause people to lose the faith on which a democracy depends — faith in elections, in the justice system, in the basic notion of truth.
No other president since Nixon has engaged in behavior remotely like Trump’s. To accept it without sanction is ultimately to endorse it. Unpleasant though it is to remove a president, the costs and the risks of a continued Trump presidency are worse.
The most relevant precedent for the removal of Trump is Nixon, the only American president to be forced from office because of his conduct. And two aspects of Nixon’s departure tend to get overlooked today. One, he was never impeached. Two, most Republicans — both voters and elites — stuck by him until almost the very end. His approval rating among Republicans was still about 50 percent when, realizing in the summer of 1974 that he was doomed, he resigned.
The current political dynamics have some similarities. Whether the House of Representatives, under Democratic control, impeaches Trump is not the big question. The question is whether he loses the support of a meaningful slice of Republicans.
Protestors at Trump Tower in New York last year.Erik McGregor/Pacific Press, via LightRocket, via Getty Images
I know that many of Trump’s critics have given up hoping that he ever will. They assume that Republican senators will go on occasionally criticizing him without confronting him. But it is a mistake to give up. The stakes are too large — and the chances of success are too real.
Consider the following descriptions of Trump: “terribly unfit;” “erratic;” “reckless;” “impetuous;” “unstable;” “a pathological liar;” “dangerous to a democracy;” a concern to “anyone who cares about our nation.” Every one of these descriptions comes from a Republican member of Congress or of Trump’s own administration.
They know. They know he is unfit for office. They do not need to be persuaded of the truth. They need to be persuaded to act on it.
Democrats won’t persuade them by impeaching Trump. Doing so would probably rally the president’s supporters. It would shift the focus from Trump’s behavior toward a group of Democratic leaders whom Republicans are never going to like. A smarter approach is a series of sober-minded hearings to highlight Trump’s misconduct. Democrats should focus on easily understandable issues most likely to bother Trump’s supporters, like corruption.
If this approach works at all — or if Mueller’s findings shift opinion, or if a separate problem arises, like the economy — Trump’s Republican allies will find themselves in a very difficult spot. At his current approval rating of about 40 percent, Republicans were thumped in the midterms. Were his rating to fall further, a significant number of congressional Republicans would be facing long re-election odds in 2020.
Two examples are Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine, senators who, not coincidentally, have shown tentative signs of breaking with Trump on the government shutdown. The recent criticism from Mitt Romney — who alternates between critical and sycophantic, depending on his own political interests — is another sign of Trump’s weakness.
For now, most Republicans worry that a full break with Trump will cause them to lose a primary, and it might. But sticking by him is no free lunch. Just ask the 27 Republican incumbents who were defeated last year and are now former members of Congress. By wide margins, suburban voters and younger voters find Trump abhorrent. The Republican Party needs to hold its own among these voters, starting in 2020.
It’s not only that Trump is unfit to be president and that Republicans know it. It also may be the case that they will soon have a political self-interest in abandoning him. If they did, the end could come swiftly. The House could then impeach Trump, knowing the Senate might act to convict. Or negotiations could begin over whether Trump deserves to trade resignation for some version of immunity.
Finally, there is the hope — naïve though it may seem — that some Republicans will choose to act on principle. There now exists a small club of former Trump administration officials who were widely respected before joining the administration and whom Trump has sullied, to greater or lesser degrees. It includes Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster and Jim Mattis. Imagine if one of them gave a television interview and told the truth about Trump. Doing so would be a service to their country at a time of national need. It would be an illustration of duty.
Throughout his career, Trump has worked hard to invent his own reality, and largely succeeded. It has made him very rich and, against all odds, elected him president. But whatever happens in 2019, his false version of reality will not survive history, just as Nixon’s did not. Which side of that history do today’s Republicans want to be on?
More from Opinion on Trump, justice and impeachment:
David Leonhardt is a former Washington bureau chief for the Times, and was the founding editor of The Upshot and head of The 2020 Project, on the future of the Times newsroom. He won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, for columns on the financial crisis. @DLeonhardt • Facebook
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/05/opin ... hment.html
We Need to Know What Happened When Trump Was Left Alone With Putin
From the Holocaust to Watergate, there are plenty of examples of how easily bad stuff happens when, like in Helsinki, there is no record of what is said.
01.05.19 9:52 PM ET
Donald Trump spent two hours alone with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July and we still have no idea what was specifically said or agreed between two of the most powerful men in the world. (Only two interpreters, bound to silence, were present.)
How much does this matter?
Quite a lot, probably. First off, there are new concerns about Trump’s continuing susceptibility to talking points that can have only one source – Russian propaganda. More of this later. Second, it belongs in a long trail of events that have either deliberately left serious blanks in the historical record or delayed by many years discovery of the truth.
We live in a moment in America when the discovery of information is in daily hand-to-hand combat with the deliberate suppression of information. For the second time in recent history the fate of a presidency might well rest on the unhindered discovery and exposure of essential evidence. Nothing is as central to the health of a democracy as overcoming a cover-up.
In 1974 the evidence that proved fatal to Richard Nixon’s presidency was all on tape—the White House tapes that recorded the president’s unguarded conversations with aides as they engineered the Watergate cover-up.
But one section of those White House tapes still remains undisclosed. Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, removed eighteen and a half minutes of a key recording of conversations between Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R Halderman between March and April 1973. According to her this was inadvertent—and covered only five minutes of the taping.
Experts who examined the equipment in 1974 decided that several portions of several conversations had been removed, adding up to eighteen and a half minutes. In 2009 new technology was employed to try again, but failed and Nixon and Haldeman took the secret of what was said to their graves. Some historians believe that Nixon himself could have erased the tapes.
As it turned out, that erasure was frustrating but not decisive. The smoking gun evidence survived amply in other tapes that were seized by prosecutors before they could be destroyed.
A similarly lingering mystery envelops the activity of a special energy task force set up by Vice President Dick Cheney in January 2001.
Cheney told President George W. Bush that the purpose was to develop “a national energy policy designed to help to bring together business, government, local communities and citizens to promote dependable, affordable and environmentally sound energy for the future.”
That was a laughably laudable version of what Cheney was apparently really up to. The task force was supposed to be confined to government officials. Then it turned out that meetings had been attended by waves of energy industry leaders and lobbyists. A report was issued in May 2001. It downgraded the importance of renewable energy in favor of an aggressive expansion of existing energy sources—including the need to build new pipelines, open up new regions for drilling and review the security of foreign sources of oil.
Within months of that report appearing Cheney was directing the response to the 9/11 attacks. He was instrumental in persuading Bush that, rather than concentrating on pursuing Osama bin Laden, the perpetrator, the U.S. should instead give priority to invading Iraq—one of the richest sources of oil in the Middle East. No reliable accounting of the task force’s discussions on foreign oil fields has ever been provided.
When Cheney left his job as CEO of Halliburton to join the Bush administration he received a severance settlement worth $36 million. Halliburton subsequently earned $39 billion as a contractor supporting US troops in Iraq and returning the Iraq oil fields to production.
When it comes to having a record of what presidents discuss with other foreign leaders there is a precedent, of sorts, for Trump in Helsinki, from the last years of the Cold War.
In 1985, during a summit meeting in Geneva with the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, President Ronald Reagan spent over an hour with Gorbachev with only interpreters present and later took a walk with Gorbachev to a pool house where they talked for another 44 minutes without anyone else present.
The two leaders, both fearful of nuclear war, were negotiating a new nuclear arms treaty, part of complex talks that had been going on for years. Reagan was not required to have mastery of the technical details, and nothing made his officials more nervous than the idea that, left alone with Gorbachev, he might be seriously outplayed.
They needn’t have worried. Reagan had become mesmerized by the prospect of a new super-weapon, dubbed “Star Wars,” that could intercept incoming missiles in space, even though it was way beyond what was possible, and Reagan had no intention of abandoning his fantasy. He saw it as a way of forcing the total abolition of nuclear weapons.
That never happened, of course. But what the two men had actually discussed in the pool house remained unknown until 2015, when Reagan’s Secretary of State, George Shultz, revealed that Reagan had asked Gorbachev how he would respond if America were suddenly attacked by aliens from outer space. “Would you help us?” Reagan asked. “No doubt about it” replied Gorbachev.
That might seem anticlimactic and comical but Reagan had been far more effective than Shultz knew at the time: his conviction that Star Wars was a reality spooked the Russians into the same belief and made them more eager to make concessions.
“At the end of the meeting Heydrich insisted that there should be no verbatim record. Instead, a summary was written and copies of it limited to the 30 participants, known as the Wannsee Protocols. Those copies disappeared at the end of the war—or so it was thought.”
Across the pond, British historians have a tougher time ferreting out the truth about deals that have serious consequences. Politicians can take cover under rules that usually guarantee that really embarrassing lapses won’t emerge during their lifetime, because the release of highly sensitive documents is embargoed for 50 years—or, in some cases, are “lost” during their lifetime.
That was the case in 1956 when British, French and Israeli officials colluded in a secret plan to get rid of Egypt’s leader, General Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had just ended British and French control of the Suez Canal. Basically the idea was that Israel would attack Egypt, and then France and Britain would intervene under the fictional pretext that they were ending the conflict and, having done so, would remove Nasser.
From the start the plan was driven by the hubris of Britain and France, whose leaders seriously underestimated the regional support for Nasser. He was determined to restore true independence to Egypt and become the figurehead of Arab nationalism.
The Israelis were the only militarily competent partners in a scheme that was hobbled by mutual distrust. International laws were about to be violated. Britain kept its most important ally, America, in the dark.
The meeting that set the attack in motion took place in a villa outside Paris. Israeli leaders arrived under cover after a flight in a French military transport. Two people referred to only as “the responsible minister and an official” hopped over from London, the minister arranging an appearance in the House of Commons immediately beforehand intended to indicate that he never left London. The two of them were in France for little more than an hour.
At the end of the meeting the principals agreed that none of them would reveal in their lifetimes what they had discussed. In effect, the meeting never happened.
Ten years later one historian, trying to establish who the British minister was, heard from a French source that he resembled “an old-fashioned family lawyer.” That was clue enough. He was the British Foreign Secretary, Selwyn Lloyd, a man hopelessly out of his depth in such a Machiavellian scheme.
The operation was a military debacle and a diplomatic disaster. Instead of removing Nasser it consolidated his hold on power. Britain and France were finished as colonial powers. Anthony Eden, the prime minister who had waited so long as Winston Churchill’s understudy, never recovered his reputation. The lasting lesson was that shit happens more easily when momentous decisions are taken invisibly.
But beyond any doubt the single most infamous meeting that never happened took place in another villa, this time on the shore of Lake Wannsee, near Berlin, on January 20, 1942.
The meeting was called by Reinhard Heydrich, the head of Nazi Germany’s SS Security Office. It was attended by 30 people and lasted only 90 minutes but it set in motion the whole apparatus designed to exterminate Europe’s Jews. The two principal architects of the Holocaust, Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, were not present—Heydrich was their instrument, the man who industrialized the genocide.
Heydrich directed: “In the course of the practical implementation of the final solution, Europe will be combed from West to East.”
As one of the key historians of the Holocaust, Martin Gilbert, wrote, “What had hitherto been tentative, fragmentary and spasmodic was to become formal, comprehensive and efficient.”
At the end of the meeting Heydrich insisted that there should be no verbatim record. Instead, a summary was written and copies of it limited to the 30 participants, known as the Wannsee Protocols. Those copies disappeared at the end of the war—or so it was thought. Then, in 1947, an American prosecutor working for the Nuremberg Tribunal on Nazi war crimes, Robert Kempner, found one copy in the German foreign office archives.
By any measure this was one of the most essential document discoveries related to the Holocaust. It left no doubt that the atrocity began at the top and was executed by a terrifying bureaucratic machine. When Heydrich’s sidekick Adolf Eichmann was captured in Argentina in 1960 by an Israeli task force and brought to trial in Israel he described that machine in remorseless detail, as though all its evil had been subsumed in the robotic obedience needed to carry out the assigned task.
It would be nice to think that in the end history will always be able to retrieve the deliberately created gaps in the record, whether major or relatively minor—that truth will out simply because it has an ineluctable quality. But surely, given the examples above, history requires relentless pursuit to make that happen.
Helsinki’s peculiar lacuna may turn out to be relatively minor, but unless we know what was really said we can’t be sure.
Putin is a master of mind games learned as a Soviet intelligence agent. Trump, with his blend of narcissism and ignorance, presents a soft target for these games. He is an empty vessel into which ideas can easily be seeded. How often this happens and by what means are worrying questions, heightened this week when Rachel Maddow showed three examples of either Trump or Trump people suddenly spouting talking points that were so incongruous that they could come from only one place—propaganda created by Russian intelligence.
The first came just weeks after Trump’s inauguration. The Associated Press reported that Trump national security aides were concerned that Poland was preparing to invade Belarus. The only people spreading this bizarre notion were Putin’s propagandists. (At that time General Mike Flynn was the national security adviser, an obvious stovepipe for the Putin line.)
The second, in the summer of 2018, was when—out of nowhere—Trump, talking on Fox News, blurted out that the people of the small Balkan state of Montenegro were “very aggressive” and could start World War III. As Maddow pointed out, that was the Putin line at the time of elections in Montenegro in 2017 when a Russian intelligence plot to take power in Montenegro was exposed and foiled.
The third example just happened—during the course of the so-called meeting of the Trump cabinet when cameras were allowed to cover the whole 90 minutes. It was not so much a meeting as a monologue in which Trump combined salutes to his own towering genius with strange assertions, the strangest being that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 had been justified because “terrorists from there were going into Russia.”
Until now Russian historians had concluded that the Afghan invasion was a mistake and one that ended with an ignominious retreat. But here was Trump saying “They were right to be there.”
Maddow pointed out that this is Putin’s latest revisionist line—both his party and the communists are rewriting Russian history using the falsehood that it was a move to stop terrorism.
The former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, reviewing these three events, told Maddow: “It is striking how Trump does pick up these strange ideas from Putin, there is a pattern here.”
After their Helsinki meeting, Trump looked like a man in thrall to Putin. Asked if he still believed that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, he said “I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. He said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be….”
Later, after even House Speaker Paul Ryan rebuked Trump for the remarks, he attempted to rewrite what was already on the record by saying he had intended to say “I don’t see any reason why it would not be”—a tautology that convinced nobody.
Syria was one of the subjects Trump discussed with Putin. At the press conference following the meeting Putin said that Syria could be “the first showcase example” of successful joint work. Trump’s impetuous decision last month to pull out of Syria came after a phone call with another of the authoritarians he so reveres, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who urged the pull-out. He was probably pushing at an already open door, thanks to Putin.
In Helsinki Putin admitted for the first time that he had wanted Trump to win the presidential election. This was not prima facie evidence of a Manchurian Candidate situation. The worry is that with Trump nothing as sinister as brain washing is needed. The psychological impact on him of spending quality time with an admired “strong man” and a dose of flattery is probably enough.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/we-need-t ... n?ref=home
Meanwhile in Canada
We have kidnapped your bird. He'll be safely returned to you on impeachment day. We believe this is in everyone's best interest.
With love, Canada
Craig Unger: Untold Story Of Trump, Soviet/Russia Partnership; Russian Mafia Laundered Money Via Real Estate
Author Craig Unger talked about his new book, 'House of Trump, House of Putin,' Trump's historical ties to Russia, and how the American president and Putin "are bound by more than just an authoritarian streak" in an interview Wednesday night with CNN's Don Lemon.
The KGB and its current form, the FSB, have been "partnering with Donald Trump" for over 20 years, according to Unger. He said the president has been laundering money for the Russians and the Soviet Union before that. Unger said the best way to launder money is real estate.
"Trump says he has no contacts with Russia. I found 59 people and -- who were in a meeting between Trump and Russia. And I traced them over the years. And I found not just hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars in money laundering from the Russian mafia using Trump properties," he reported.
"They approached him as a powerful businessman, and that was sort of it," Unger said of the Soviets. "And I believe it started out as laundering money. When the Soviet Union crumbled, there were enormous amounts of flight capital that needed to be laundered. And what is the best way to launder money? It is through real estate."
DON LEMON, CNN: So President Trump made a move today that wouldn't be out of place in a dictatorship, revoking the security clearance of a prominent critic. But my next guest claims Vladimir Putin and President Trump are bound by more than just an authoritarian streak. Joining me now is journalist Craig Unger, the Author of the book, "House of Trump, House of Putin: the Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia."
Good evening. Thank you for coming on.
CRAIG UNGER, AUTHOR: Thanks for having me, Don.
LEMON: So you make some shocking claims, suggesting that the Russians have been cultivating Donald Trump for decades. Explain that.
UNGER: Right. Well, I think it was a story of the greatest intelligence operation of our time, and it goes back more than 30 years. And I wanted to see how it began, and why it began, and I went back to 1984. And for the first time, you see a man, who's a member of the Russian mafia meet with Donald Trump in Trump Tower.
This is just after Trump Tower opened and it was the glitziest building in America. And he comes in and he buys five condos, paying all cash. And this is the first time Donald Trump properties have been used to launder money for the Russian mafia.
LEMON: OK. So you're saying his property is being used to launder money from the Russian mafia. And that's not what CNN is reporting. That's you're reporting and what you write in the book. But you draw a lot of the lines. Do you have any -- what proof of that do you have?
UNGER: Absolutely. Well, you know, Trump says he has no contacts with Russia. I found 59 people and -- who were in a meeting between Trump and Russia. And I traced them over the years. And I found not just hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars in money laundering from the Russian mafia using Trump properties.
But you had criminals living in Trump Tower and the FBI was chasing mobsters. They found that oh, they weren't living in Brooklyn. They were living in Trump Tower. And this went on for more than 30 years. I found 59 people. And one of the key parts of this, one of the most important things that I want people to really understand is the Russian mafia is not like American mafia.
It's not like what you see in the Godfather. The Russian mafia is a state actor. Russia is often called a mafia state. And ahead of that -- so they are working for Russia, in much the same way the CIA...
LEMON: You said this is starting in 1984, right?
LEMON: So it might seem farfetched to people that the Russians would run an operation that would survive the fall of the Soviet Union and it would go on, you know, for years after that. Are you giving them too much credit or are they that crafty?
UNGER: They are that crafty, the KGB. This started under the KGB, which is a precursor to the FSB. But as the Soviet Union was crumbling, the KGB made plans on how to survive the turmoil the Soviet Union was going through. And one of the ways they did that was they started huge corporations. And a number of those people were trading commodities.
But there were really veterans of the KGB. And now these people came alive again, and 20 years later, you see them partnering with Donald Trump.
LEMON: So but why would the Russians be interested. At least that early on in 2016, I think we sort of, you know, figured out why. He didn't like Hillary Clinton. He said he is (Inaudible) that he wanted Donald Trump to win. But why would they be interested in someone like Donald Trump, especially starting back as far as 1984.
UNGER: Well, back then he was just a businessman. They approached him as a powerful businessman, and that was sort of it. And I believe it started out as laundering money. When the Soviet Union crumbled, there were enormous amounts of flight capital that needed to be laundered. And what is the best way to launder money? It is through real estate.
And Donald Trump created an empire that became a money laundering machine. Trump Tower became a money laundering cathedral. This was his way of doing business, and it was a win-win situation. They saved him. He was $4 billion in debt at one point. And the Russian mafia came to his aid.
LEMON: So back in 1987, 1987, there was a lot of speculation that Donald Trump would run for President. As a matter of fact, he spent $100,000 of his own money. He was running ads in major newspapers, criticizing American foreign policy, saying that we spend too much money protecting our allies. Even back then, though, he was striking a tone that would be in line with Russian goals.
UNGER: Absolutely. And that came just after his very first trip to Russia. And I went back and tried to examine how that came about. And it was -- came about through Ambassador (Inaudible) who was then Ambassador to (Inaudible) of the United Nations. And he and his daughter just went up to Trump Tower. They didn't have an appointment.
This was very unusual in terms of protocol at that time. And they met with him. They flattered him. They said why don't you do the same kind of thing in Moscow. And they flew him over. And during that trip, I later talked to General Kalugin, who had been head of counter intelligence of the KGB. And General Kalugin told me that Trump had lots of fun with lots of women, and he was reasonably sure that the KGB had compromise from that visit in 1987.
LEMON: Craig Unger, the book is House of Trump, House of Putin. Thank you so much for joining us. It's the untold story of Donald Trump and the Russian mafia. We appreciate it, sir. When we come back, President Trump revoked John Brennan's security clearance without consulting the CIA or his own Director of National Intelligence. And my next guest says, quote, his corrupt purpose is to silence dissent.
https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video ... state.html
Manafort has reportedly visited Mueller's office 9 times over the past month, for hours at a time
https://www.businessinsider.com/manafor ... on-2018-10
Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father
The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.
By DAVID BARSTOW, SUSANNE CRAIG and RUSS BUETTNER
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/201 ... trump.html
Today seems like the right time to do a thread I've been thinking about for a while on how to handle the seemingly never-ending deluge of depressing and disturbing news. My tips are based on my time as a CIA military analyst in which I dealt daily with disturbing content. (1/)
There are several risks to being overloaded with disturbing/negative content.
- Complacency - becoming so used to the deluge that it all starts to seem normal.
- Paralysis - that is, being so overwhelmed, you can't figure out what to do/how to move forward.
- Crisis perspective - you get trapped in the Breaking News cycle where everything seems like a potentially world-ending crisis to you.
- Depression/PTSD - you don't have to be on the frontline of a war have either/both. Disturbing content is absolutely a trigger.
There are also serious physical consequences to living a negative content overloaded life. I had a colleague who didn't know he had stage 4 brain cancer because the symptoms were the same as our very stressful careers--exhaustion, random fevers, stress, and dizziness. (4/)
So, what do you do? First, I strongly urge you not to ignore the news/current events. Ignorance is one reason we have this society. It won't make the problems go away & contributes nothing to their solving. Now that that's established, here's how to make it easier to handle: (5/)
1. TAKE ACTION. Volunteer for a food pantry, canvass for a political candidate, donate to a NGO, visit a sick friend. Seriously. Service of some kind in your community lets you be part of SOLUTIONS. You will see RESULTS when otherwise you'd feel helpless. (6/)
2. Conversely, for those who may take tip #1 to the extreme--know that you alone can't save the world. Accept your limits. You aren't a 7/11. You can't always be open. At the end of every day when I reached my limit, I silently told myself, "I've done what I can today." (7/)
(Note: Repeating that to myself did not stop me from feeling like I could have done more most days. But it was important to tell myself anyway because I am human. We are human. It's good we *feel* things.) (8/)
3. RESEARCH BEFORE PANICKING. Easier said than done, but everything will seem like crisis/earth-ending if you don’t know what has/hasn't happened before. If it has happened before, it's can be hugely comforting to know how it was resolved and/or what might happen next. (9/)
4. GET UP & MOVE. Put the phone away, turn off the TV, log out of Twitter. Go for a walk, sit outside, get some coffee, call a friend. CIA is full of ppl walking the building with a colleague/friend. There's a reason. Our brains & bodies need breaks from stressful content. (10/)
5. SET RULES. Because of my work at CIA, I had a rule--I only read fiction at home. I had enough reality at work. In the civilian world, I set blocks of time each day where I turn everything off--no news or social media. Let yourself recharge so you can keep fighting later. (11/)
6. AVOID DARK HOLES. (I'm sure there's a joke to be made about that.) It's easy to get sucked into the swirl of bad news. You watch a gruesome YouTube video and the next one is all queued up to play right after it. Focus on one issue at a time. Deal w/ it before moving on. (12/)
7. YOU NEED FUN. When there is suffering, war, despair, etc. around you, it's easy to feel guilty when you have fun, feel happy, have a good meal with friends. You NEED these things. You will be better able to do good in the world if you let yourself have these things. (13/)
8. TALK TO SOMEONE. Often, we curl inward socially when overwhelmed w/ negative content. It's a means of protection. One of the great things at CIA was that everyone else knew what you were going through. Whether it's therapy or talking to your person, talking helps. (14/)
None of this is easy. I got burned out a lot in my career & many days recently, I've felt overloaded by the barrage. I'm sure you have too. But you and I can't check out. We can't give up & we need to stay engaged, but we can't do that if we get overloaded. Keep going. (15/15)
Donald Trump Was Never Vetted
Jonathan Chait@jonathanchaitJan. 4, 2019
Donald Trump announcing his candidacy in 2015. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
“When a man becomes president,” said Rudy Giuliani not long ago, “he shouldn’t be subject to a review of his entire life.” Putting aside for the moment whether such a review should or should not take place, Giuliani has correctly identified what is happening. The new Democratic House that will conduct oversight into the presidency and obtain his tax returns, the multiple state-level investigations into Trump’s transparent business fraud, and the Mueller probe will all pry open a massive trove of secrets held tight over decades.
Giuliani’s position is that, having been elected president, Trump should be granted immunity for his past crimes. (Of course, Giuliani also opposes holding Trump accountable for his misdeeds since taking office, like obstruction of justice, but never mind.) Giuliani’s complaint may intuitively seem fair — why should Trump, or any president, face another review of his entire life? That, after all, is what presidential campaigns are for, so presumably Trump’s election settled that matter. But the answer to this query is that, in truth, Trump was never really vetted in the first place.
This may seem like a strange thing to say about such an apparently familiar persona. Trump has been a ubiquitous character in American culture for decades. He first contemplated running for president more than 30 years ago, and 18 years ago “President Trump” was already a comedy punchline. Trump’s career has produced a body of coverage so massive that no single person could possibly hope to absorb it all. Yet we are even now discovering the extent to which Trump is a secretive, mysterious figure who has escaped basic scrutiny. And this oversight has occurred not despite his media overexposure but, in some ways, because of it.
It was only three months ago that the New York Times published a dramatic exposé upending the entire Trump financial mythos. Trump had always insisted he had received “just” a $1 million loan from his father as a young man, which he repaid. Before the Times’ story came out, his critics used to express doubt that Trump had actually ever paid back the million dollars. In fact, the Times established that Trump has received $413 million from his father, all in gifts rather than loans, and the vast bulk of it transferred illegally, to avoid estate and gift tax.
What’s more, the story reconstructs how Fred Trump carefully manufactured his son’s image. The family presented its young heir to the media as an already-accomplished young millionaire of his own. The key vehicle for the publicity campaign was the Times itself. In 1976, a reporter toured Trump’s properties alongside him in a chauffeured Cadillac and dutifully fawned over the “tall, lean and blond” developer, who had amassed more than $200 million at the tender age of 30. The Times now debunks its own story. It reports that all the properties depicted in the story as Donald’s burgeoning empire — even the Cadillac they rode around in — were actually purchased by Fred Trump.
But the lie was reproduced 10,000 times over, and the man who won the 2016 election was the fictional character established in stories like that one. The truth, meanwhile, has only begun to scratch the surface. Basic facts about Trump’s life, which would have been thoroughly plumbed were he any other presidential candidate, are only starting to be investigated. A recent Patrick Radden Keefe profile of Mark Burnett reveals how the reality television producer turned Trump into a commanding business tycoon. “We walked through the offices and saw chipped furniture,” one Apprentice producer recalls in the piece. “We saw a crumbling empire at every turn. Our job was to make it seem otherwise.”
The Apprentice depicted Trump not as a bankrupt crook but as a wealthy genius, for whose favor a cast of supplicants would compete. The show revolved around competing business ideas that Trump would oversee. The problem was that Trump — just as he does in the White House — made irrational and bizarre choices. He “was frequently unprepared for these sessions, with little grasp of who had performed well. Sometimes a candidate distinguished herself during the contest only to get fired, on a whim, by Trump.” Keefe reports that in such instances, the producers would edit the footage to make Trump’s foolish decisions appear wise. Tens of millions of Americans voted for a television character they took to be some reasonable approximation of a real person.
The day after Christmas, the Times broke another exclusive story. The podiatrist who diagnosed Trump with bone spurs, thus protecting him from being drafted and sent to Vietnam, was a tenant of his father’s. The doctor’s daughter told the Times the diagnosis was made as a favor to the senior Trump.
Military service histories, or lack thereof, are a customary subject for journalists to scrutinize during presidential campaigns. The steps taken by candidates like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to avoid going to Vietnam were documented in excruciating and sometimes damaging detail. It’s amazing that the background of how Trump obtained a highly suspicious diagnosis is only being ascertained now, two years into his presidency.
One reason Trump has escaped scrutiny, of course, is that he has withheld his tax returns. The more information about his finances that dribbles out, of course, the more explicable that decision appears. Trump has an obvious motive to conceal his decades of dependency on his father’s largesse, as well as the apparent role played by Russian money laundering in replacing those cash infusions after his father’s money ran out. Those tax returns, a basic object of examination in vetting any presidential candidate — and all the more crucial for a candidate whose qualification is asserted based solely on his business credentials — will finally be exposed now that Democrats have the power to subpoena them.
Another reason is that the sheer volume of news Trump has created has had a distorting effect that the media could never quite account for. Trump spent decades courting the news media, and was covered like a member of the British royal family. The sheer mass of the coverage blotted out any damning details. And the pace of the coverage accelerated during the campaign. On a daily basis, Trump committed astonishing offenses of the sort that would have destroyed an ordinary campaign. But there was hardly any bandwidth to exercise the normal due diligence in vetting presidential nominees. And when such reporting was conducted, its impact could hardly register against the constant blaring of outrages.
Measured in absolute terms, or against other candidates, Trump was subject to harsh, unrelenting scrutiny. But measured against the scale of his own dark past, he skated into office with barely any vetting at all, abetted by decades of friendly propaganda.
The review of Trump’s life is only beginning now. It will probably tell us that Trump is not merely a politician who has abused his power, or a businessman who has cut corners. He is a criminal who happened to be elected president.
http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/ ... _source=tw
Forget the wall. Trump is the national security crisis
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED JANUARY 8, 2019
UPDATED 8 HOURS AGO
Sarah Kendzior is the author of The View From Flyover Country and the co-host of the podcast Gaslit Nation.
On December 22, 2018, the second-longest shutdown of the federal government in United States history began. On December 23, the body of Jakelin Caal Maquin was returned to Guatemala; she was a seven-year-old who died in a Texas border camp. On December 24, another child from Guatemala, eight-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo, died after seven days in U.S. border patrol custody. That day, the President tweeted, “I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to make a deal on desperately needed border security. At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy!”
Poor me, he says, as the deaths mount and the country collapses. Poor me, Mr. Trump similarly implored in his address to the nation Tuesday night: it was an eight-minute teleprompter speech filled with lies about the danger of Central American migrants and threats to let a national security crisis he created continue unless Democrats bow to his ever-changing will.
The speech was akin to a hostage video, and American viewers were his captive audience. We watched because the stakes felt too high to turn away. We watched because Mr. Trump has taunted us with talk of declaring a “national emergency” – an act which gives him the power to do things like kill the internet, freeze bank accounts, and turn military troops into a domestic police force. We watched because Mr. Trump has long applauded death through his praise of dictators and criminals. We watched because the path to American autocracy was laid out upon his election, and we wanted to know which victims were next.
That is the sick and slick vendetta of America’s reality-TV President.
We are two years into the presidency of a man who launched his campaign by smearing Mexicans as rapists and murderers and then proclaimed he would make Mexico pay for a wall to keep the alleged perpetrators out. But Mr. Trump’s obsession with the wall had as little to do with ensuring public safety as his prior obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate had to do with legislative legitimacy. Both were rhetorical moves designed to shift the parameters of debate into rancid, racist territory.
In reshaping discourse, Mr. Trump proved his power. Americans discussed “birtherism” and “the wall” not because they were actual emergencies, but because the public was ceaselessly goaded by both Mr. Trump and American media to inhabit this noxious fantasy world. Whether or not we were repulsed by his words – and many of us were – he still dominated by defining the terms of the debate.
Back then, we could choose to deny him attention; now it’s different. We have no choice but to listen: he is the President, and his words have life-altering consequences. Since the shutdown began, workers have gone without pay, citizens have gone without adequate federal security, and national parks have been damaged because of Mr. Trump’s insistence that Congress acquiesce to his ever-changing demands. These demands have have switched from “Mexico will build the wall” to “U.S. taxpayers will fund nebulous and expensive border security”. The unsaid words of every Donald Trump demand are the most important, for they never change: “Or else.”
His address to the nation was an attempt to pad a power-grab as a policy proposal by inserting misleading statistics, grisly depictions of violence, and most grotesquely, a fatuous humanitarian framework into the narrative. He radically overstated the threat of Central American migrants, noting the death of an American citizen at one migrant’s hands while ignoring the multiple migrant deaths and family separations carried out by his administration – one of the cruelest legacies of his rule.
There is no life more valuable than another, no victim unworthy of grief – but Mr. Trump’s zero-sum, xenophobic rhetoric tries to convince you there is. This calculated cruelty is also used as a rhetorical bludgeon against his actual enemy, the Democrats, whose attempts at accountability impede Mr. Trump’s apparent attempts at autocratic consolidation
Their dispute is not about national security: the only security Mr. Trump is concerned with is his own. With the government shut down, he can capitalize on chaos and operate with greater impunity. His speech was not a public address: it was a shakedown proclamation built on venom and vengeance. It will not be his last.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/amp/opi ... ssion=true
Donald Trump Delivers a Wet Fart Oval Office Address
The president can’t get his wall. So like a shitty salesman, he’s now trying to pitch you on something else.
01.08.19 11:17 PM ET
Donald Trump has been a political escape artist since the beginnings of his shady, scummy, shiftless life. From his spurious (see what I did there?) evasion of the Vietnam draft to his serial bankruptcies and business failures, his wrecked marriages, and his current reign of misrule, Donald Trump’s ability to detonate a media IED to distract from his troubles has always served him well. Whenever there’s trouble from some Trump outrage, he never apologizes, never corrects his behavior and never, ever goes forth and sins no more. Instead, he deliberately creates some larger outrage, tossing red meat to a media always eager to chase it.
That was the Trump shutdown from the beginning, and the reason for his manic insistence on “The Wall” scam as its justification.
On Tuesday night, Trump’s flaming dumpster train of distractions, lies, cons, and empty political promises flew off the rails and plunged into a mountain of burning tires in one of his worst public speeches.
After 17 days of a government shutdown temper tantrum, Trump needed a game-changing home run of a speech to change the political climate in D.C. He failed.
This speech wasn’t about saving his utterly fake wall. The $5.7 billion dollars he’s demanded as his vig for ending the shutdown isn’t even close to being seriously considered, and this speech was an overt admission he’s out of airspeed, altitude, and ideas. The crisis he proudly created will end without a wall, and he knows it.
This speech was supposed to be about forcing the national dialogue to stay on the border wall. No such luck. He reeked of defeat, clearly didn't want to be there, and it showed.
Trump looked exhausted, squinty, and bored, reading in a near-monotone from the Teleprompter. It went over like a wet fart.
The hysterical Know-Nothing show that flooded America’s airwaves on Tuesday evening was Trumpian boilerplate: Scary immigrants are coming to kill you! Drugs are coming over the border!
The man who gleefully put kids in cages tried to briefly pretend he gives a damn about migrant children in the least convincing humanitarian performance since the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The dark warning of the dangerous brown tide coming across the border feeds the Breitbart/Fox base with the same messages they’re getting every day, but it lacked the showmanship and agenda-changing power Trump hoped it would. Even if it had, just keeping the base's amygdalas stoked doesn’t come close to solving his multiple political problems.
The speech can most accurately be seen as the death twitch of The Wall cult. Trump can’t deliver a product, so he’s looking to sell something different.
He said it tonight; the idea of a glorious concrete wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico is deader than that lemur he glues on his head every morning. It will, at most, be a fence. This is not what Trump’s supporters voted for. They voted for his sales pitch of a 30-foot concrete wall with laser moats, robot alligators, and minefields, all paid for by Mexico.
Donald Trump, as even the slowest members of the class have now noticed, is a lying liar who lies.
He is a gushing Niagara of lies, a torrential waterfall of deceptions, exaggerations, statistical manglings, and dumbfuck agitprop that insults the intelligence of Americans outside his base. He lies when the truth would suffice. He lies to cover up his own failings and inadequacies (“No, really. Your ruler must be wrong. That’s clearly 9 inches.”) and those lies drag his political supporters and the “conservative” commentariat into increasingly strained and elaborate defenses. Tonight didn’t disappoint when it came to lies of every flavor and scale.
As if readers of the Beast needed reminding, there is no crisis on the border except the one in Donald Trump’s head. The number of immigrants is at an all-time low.
There is no brown wave of thousands of murderous MS-13 killers descending into every big city and small town in the United States. Armies of terrorists do not cross our border with Mexico every week. Drugs like fentanyl come from Mexico in limited amounts, but the vast majority comes from China. These problems exist, but not at a scale to justify either the Wall, Trump’s immigration positions, or creating a constitutional crisis and a government shutdown.
The fevered limbic imaginings of Ann Coulter, Mickey Kaus, Stephen Miller, Rep. Steve King and the rest of the “we’re totally not racist xenophobes except when it comes to people darker than a Venti triple foam latte” may exist on the pages of Trumpbart and the screens of Fox, but facts are stubborn things, and almost every one of Trump’s “facts” about immigration springs from the minds of people like Coulter and Miller, not reality.
Trump’s speech contained more lies per second than any presidential speech in history, including William Howard Taft’s “I did not devour an entire roast lamb and drink a magnum of gravy to wash it down” speech, or Bill Clinton’s “I was at the gym. That’s just sweat.” classic.
But it notably did not include the declaration of emergency that Trump’s enablers and cheerleaders spent the day preparing to defend.
On the timeline where Trump pulled the trigger on the emergency declaration, we would have seen the nation consumed for weeks or months on litigation at every level, bitter fights of land seizure, a new level authoritarian madness, and distractions from the economic chaos, and the rising heat in the Mueller investigation. For now, that party is off.
Sure, declaring a national emergency would be seen as a truly dangerous precedent, a big, risky gamble by a crazed political day trader willing to play Russian roulette with wild expansions of executive and federal power to feed the overtly racist elements of his base. In the era of Trump, you’re never off base to bet on the darkest motivations and most evil explanations for his behavior.
Somehow, though, the White House staff and congressional voices convinced Trump at the last minute to step back from the brink; that the political costs of the emergency declaration were too great even for this raging dumpster fire of an administration. You could see the disappointment in Trump’s face. He was unhappy with the speech, and evidently cranky to be told he couldn’t have his way. Curses! Cucked by the Establishment, again!
President Veruca Salt demanded his Wall and bet his most fundamental campaign promise on it. He walked himself into a political box canyon of a foolish government shutdown, an untenable demand, and Democrats motivated to hold the line. The speech wasn't the usual trick escape play for the man accustomed to getting away with damn near everything; it was the exact opposite.
The Wall is dead. The shutdown will end. Donald Trump blew it, bigly.
Head of controversial tent city says the Trump administration pressured him to detain more young migrants
Kevin Dinnin, the CEO of the contractor that ran the controversial tent city for migrant children in Tornillo, Texas, says the facility is closing down because he refused the government’s request to detain more youths there.
Shrouded in secrecy since it opened in June to handle overflow of the Trump administration’s family separation policy, the facility at Tornillo became a symbol of the administration’s mass detention of undocumented children. Originally built to hold 400 migrant teens sent from its permanent facilities and slated to close within 30 days, by December it had ballooned to a large complex holding more than 2,800 children.
“The children were coming in but never leaving,” Dinnin said in an exclusive interview with VICE News. The president and CEO of the nonprofit BCFS, which ran the facility under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said he was dismayed the U.S. government kept asking him to expand the camp.
Ultimately, he came to believe that HHS would continue sending migrant teenagers to Tornillo as long as it could. So on Dec. 17, Dinnin sent HHS and ORR a letter informing them that his nonprofit wouldn’t accept more children at the facility.
“We as an organization finally drew the line,” Dinnin, who oversaw day-to-day operations at Tornillo, said. “You can’t keep taking children in and not releasing them.”
https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/kzv ... ewstwitter
Did an Author From the 1800s Predict the Trumps, Russia and America's Downfall?
By Chris Riotta On 7/31/17 at 12:43 PM
Ingersoll Lockwood, an American political writer, lawyer and novelist, combined a unique mixture of science fiction and fantasy into his novels from the late 1800s. Two of his most popular works of literature were illustrated children’s stories, focusing on a peculiar fictional character whose name rings a bell in 2017: Baron Trump.
Trump, an aristocratically wealthy young man living in Castle Trump, is the protagonist of Lockwood's first two fictional novels, The Travels and Adventures of Little Baron Trump and His Wonderful Dog Bulgar and Baron Trump’s Marvelous Underground Journey. The little boy, who has an unending imagination and "a very active brain," is bored of the luxurious lifestyle he has grown so accustomed to. In a twist of fate, Trump visits Russia to embark on an extraordinary adventure that will shape the rest of his life.
Lockwood's final novel arrived in 1896, titled The Last President.
There are some incredible connections to be made to the first family of the United States and Lockwood’s novels from the turn of the 19th century. For starters, the main character’s name is the same as President Donald Trump’s son, albeit spelt differently. Trump’s adventures begin in Russia, and are guided thanks to directions provided by "the master of all masters," a man named "Don."
Before leaving for his voyage through the unknown, Trump is told of his family’s motto: "The pathway to glory is strewn with pitfalls and dangers."
Illustrations from the novels depict Trump dressed in lavish, old-fashioned clothing and jewelry as he departs from Castle Trump and begins his voyage, heading to Russia to locate an entrance into alternate dimensions.
But by Lockwood’s third novel, The Last President, things become even more eerily linked to the present day.
The story begins with a scene from a panicked New York City in early November, describing a "state of uproar" after the election of an enormously opposed outsider candidate.
"The entire East Side is in a state of uproar," police officers shouted through the streets, warning city folk to stay indoors for the night. "Mobs of vast size are organizing under the lead of anarchists and socialists, and threaten to plunder and despoil the houses of the rich who have wronged and oppressed them for so many years."
"The Fifth Avenue Hotel will be the first to feel the fury of the mob," the novel continues, citing an address in New York City where Trump Tower now stands. "Would the troops be in time to save it?"
Lockwood’s creations have resurfaced online in recent weeks on forums and Reddit, thanks to a number of 4chan users who shared images and conspiracy theories about the fantasy stories. Some claimed the Trump family possesses a time machine that has allowed them to remain powerful to this day.
The Last President doesn’t follow the same fictional narrative of Lockwood’s previous novels, though the links to Trump are once again abundantly clear. The president’s hometown of New York City is fearing the collapse of the republic in this book, also titled 1900, immediately following the transition of presidential power. Some Americans begin forming a resistance, protesting what was seen as a corrupt and unethical election process.
https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-p ... ast-644284
Conrad Brean: "Get it in the Library of Congress now."
Trump Is the Star of These Bizarre Victorian Novels
And the Internet is losing its mind.
The first thing to know about Baron Trump is that he can’t stop talking about his brain. While meeting with the Russian government, he talks about his glorious gray matter. As foreign women fall for him, he mentions his superior intelligence before casting them off. He once sued his tutors, alleging that they owed him money for everything he had taught them. He won.
This Trump does not exist, except in the dusty stacks of a library, digital archive or Reddit thread near you. He’s not a member of the first family, but instead the entirely fictional protagonist of a series of somewhat satirical Victorian novels for kids.
MORE...https://www.politico.com/magazine/story ... ian-215689
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