(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)
The anonymous official who has written a scathing account of the presidency of Donald Trump suggests the president might refuse to leave office even if convicted in impeachment hearings or defeated narrowly in the 2020 election – and says Trump is preparing his followers to see either outcome as a “coup” that could warrant resistance.
“He will not exit quietly – or easily,” the author, self-described as a senior administration official, writes in A Warning, a book that builds on an explosive op-ed by the same unnamed author last year. USA TODAY obtained an early copy of the book.
“It is why at many turns he suggests ‘coups’ are afoot and a ‘civil war’ is in the offing. He is already seeding the narrative for his followers – a narrative that could end tragically.”
As the House of Representatives prepares to open public impeachment hearings Wednesday, the book also says that Trump ordered aides more than a year ago to pursue a “deliberate and coordinated campaign” to obstruct an impeachment inquiry and other congressional investigations. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has said he is considering obstruction of Congress as a possible Article of Impeachment.
The book’s author is identified only as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” and its forthcoming publication has created a firestorm over both its depiction of a dysfunctional president and the decision by the writer to remain anonymous.
“The coward who wrote this book didn’t put their name on it because it is nothing but lies,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
Many of the disclosures echo news stories that have portrayed the president as impulsive, sometimes uninformed and regularly willing to defy established norms. There is already no shortage of books by Trump critics, including former FBI director James Comey and others who have served in his administration, that raise questions about the president’s fitness for office.
But The New York Times op-ed in 2018 and the new book, being published next Tuesday by Twelve, have commanded enormous attention because the author had an inside view, often participating in small White House meetings where crucial decisions were made.
The author portrays himself or herself as sharing some policy views with Trump and initially having a positive if wary view of the possibilities of his presidency.
The author says the intended audience for A Warning isn’t those who closely follow politics but rather those who don’t, particularly voters from across the country who were drawn in 2016 to Trump’s promise to shake up the establishment.
The book says that Trump “on more than one occasion” discussed with staffers the possibility of dropping Vice President Mike Pence before the 2020 election.
“Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley was under active consideration to step in as vice president, which she did not discourage at first,” the author writes, saying some advisers argued that putting Haley on the ticket would help the president bolster his support among female voters.
In an interview Friday with USA TODAY, Nikki Haley dismissed out of hand the suggestion that she might replace Pence. In her new book, With All Due Respect, Haley offers a generally positive portrait of Trump, and the president rewarded her with a friendly tweet urging his millions of followers to buy a copy.
Pathway of impeachment:How it works, where we are
“Anonymous” depicts Trump as impatient, immoral, cruel, even dangerous as he rejects the limits placed on presidents by Congress and the courts.
As the 2018 midterm elections approached, the book says, the White House counsel’s office began to develop a “contingency plan” to shield the administration if Democrats gained control of Congress, and with that the ability to launch investigations and issue subpoenas. New lawyers were hired and internal procedures revamped, the author writes.
“The goal wasn’t just to prepare for a barrage of legislative requests,” the book says. “It was a concerted attempt to fend off congressional oversight. When Democrats finally took the House, the unspoken administration policy toward Capitol Hill became: Give as little as possible, wait as long as possible. Even routine inquiries are now routed to the lawyers, who have found unique ways to say “We can’t right now,” “Give us a few months,” “We’re going to need to put you on hold,” “Probably not,” “No,” and “Not a chance in hell.”
Trump impeachment inquiry:Early findings and how Republicans are opposing them
The author says the administration’s refusal to comply with congressional requests and even subpoenas “go beyond standard practice and have turned into a full block-and-tackle exercise against congressional investigators across an array of Trump administration controversies.”
On the president’s actions with Ukraine, now the heart of the impeachment inquiry, the author writes that the idea Trump was trying to battle corruption abroad – rather than gain some partisan political advantage at home – was “barely believable to anyone around him.”
But the book provides no significant new information or insights into that episode.
‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards
The author’s agent, Matt Latimer, said the author didn’t take an advance payment for the book and plans to donate a substantial amount of the royalties to nonprofit organizations that encourage government accountability and an independent press.
Among other allegations, the book says:
This letter to you today is just an opinion piece from my thoughts to your eyes, it is for the purpose of getting us all to think a little bit about the chances of, what if. For those of you who do not know me I am a 63 year old Christian white guy who lives in the state of Kentucky. I believe my political leanings to be a registered Independent who has voted Republican and Democratic in the past but I honestly can’t see me ever voting for a Republican again because of them backing our current President. I consider myself to be a moderate, sort of right down the middle between being a Conservative on some issues and a bit Liberal on others. So, I don’t agree with either extreme to the left nor to the right. In 2016’s Presidential Election I voted for Gary Johnson, not because I thought he had any chance of winning but because I could not get myself to vote for either Hillary or Trump. I feel the same now as I did then, I could not get myself to vote for a person I totally believe to be a very intelligent, hate filled, habitual liar (Hillary) nor for a totally ignorant, hate filled, ego-maniac, habitual liar (Trump).
As most everyone whom has an I.Q. above 2 now knows that President Putin of Russia had his people interfering in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections in an effort to get Donald Trump elected as our 45th President. But I have a question that I would like for you to ponder, do you honestly believe that the Russians only screwed with the General Election in November of 2016? As over 20 U.S. State Election Boards also said that there is plenty of evidence that they were interfered with from the Russian Government. What I believe is that there is a very good chance that Mr. Trump did not win nearly as many of the State Republican Primaries as he was given credit for. He could never have been the Republican Nominee if he didn’t win enough of the Primaries. So, what if Trump via actual American votes did not win a lot of those Primaries that he was given credit for? Would John Kasich have been the Republican Nominee? Just as if the Democratic National Convention had not had the farce of so called “Super Delegates” I believe that Senator Bernie Sanders would have been the Democratic Nominee, not Hillary. Personally I believe that if Senator Sanders had been the Democratic Nominee that he would have beaten Mr. Trump in the November election. What I am saying is that I believe that the American voters totally got scammed in 2016 and to me it is looking like the Republican Party big wigs of today are bound and determined to make sure that we can have another Russian scam election in November of 2020.
Another side thought for you, something I just thought of while writing this letter to you. Thinking back to the 2016 General Election, it was a given that the Democrats would win the Congressional Elections but the question was by how much. A bigger question was how many Senatorial Seats would the Republicans lose to the Democrats. Turns out that the Democrats didn’t win near as many Congressional Seats as most Annalists thought they would and the Republicans actually picked up a few Senatorial Seats, not lose them. You know if a person wins the White House from one Party but the opposite Party rules both the House and the Senate the President will be vastly limited in getting anything his Party wants passed into law. So, how many Senate and Congressional Seats did the Republicans ‘win’ that they actually did not win with the American peoples votes? Looking at this issue through an “Independents” glasses it becomes obvious why the Republican Party’s Leadership isn’t concerned about “the Russians” interference. This letter is simply meant as ‘food for your thoughts’.
William Taylor, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, admitted in a closed-door hearing before Congress today that he had been acting under the impression that there was indeed a quid pro quo between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
This is bad news for Trump, and even worse for the Senate Republicans who will undoubtedly be forced to take a side when the Democrats’ impeachment proceedings move to the Senate for a trial.
Taylor’s opening statement, obtained by the Washington Post, confirms that the U.S. planned to withhold military and financial aid from Ukraine if the country didn’t assist the U.S. in its investigations into 2016 election interference. This might not be great diplomacy, but it isn’t illegal — the investigation into election interference is a legitimate government operation which, due to its nature, is somewhat dependent on foreign cooperation.
Forcing Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rival, however, is another matter entirely, and one that lies at the center of Taylor’s testimony. At question here is a conversation Taylor had in September with Gordon Sondland, the United States’ envoy to the European Union. “As I said on the phone,” Taylor said in September, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
To which Sondland replied: “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quos of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign.”
Taylor’s message was originally interpreted as a reaction to media reports that the U.S. was unnecessarily withholding military aid from Ukraine. But in his opening statement before Congress, Taylor confirmed that his message was not merely a reaction to the media, but a condemnation of a coordinated effort by Trump, Sondland, and the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
“I said on Sept. 9 in a message to [Sondland] that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the U.S. would be ‘crazy,’” Taylor said in his testimony, “I believed that then, and I still believe that.”
Taylor then lays out the timeline of Trump’s interactions with Zelensky and the “highly irregular” channel of U.S. policy making in Ukraine that included then-Special Envoy Kurt Volker, Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and Giuliani. This “irregular” channel actively worked against U.S. interests and in favor of Trump’s personal interests, Taylor said.
“By mid-July it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on the investigations of Burisma [the Ukrainian oil company that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, worked for] and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections,” Taylor said in his testimony. “It was also clear that this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel I had come to understand was guided by Mr. Giuliani.”
Taylor soon after realized that the hold placed on security assistance to Ukraine by the Office of Management and Budget ran counter to the State and Defense Departments’ recommendation that the U.S. assist Ukraine in its battle against Russia, and that it had more to do with Sondland’s demand that Ukraine commit to an investigation into Hunter Biden’s dealings with Burisma than it did with the U.S.’s investigation into election meddling.
Taylor’s testimony is both clarifying and damning for the Trump allies and Senate Republicans who have insisted there was no quid pro quo. Ukrainian officials might not have been aware that foreign aid was being withheld, but the U.S. government certainly was aware. And if it wasn’t clear before, it is now clear that Trump had a personal agenda and used Sondland and Giuliani to further it.
Impeachment will move forward, which means the Senate will eventually need to decide whether Trump was guilty of foreign malfeasance. Taylor’s testimony just made it that much harder to rule in his favor. His congressional allies will continue to stand by him, especially if House Democrats continue to treat impeachment like a campaign promise they need to fulfill.
But there will be other Trump-skeptical senators wary of the president’s blatant abuse of power who might just drift to the pro-impeachment side. Republicans control the Senate 53-47. It takes 67 votes to convict. Taylor’s testimony might just tip the scales.
President Trump is nothing but a liability to the Republican Leadership if he is still in Office come November of 2020. If Mitch (The Worthless Bitch) McConnell and his cronies want to keep control of the Presidency in January of 2021 their best chance to do so is if Trump is very quickly impeached, not just by the Democratic led Congress but with the help of the Republicans in the Senate. If Trump is on that Presidential ticket, the Republicans will lose the White House without a doubt. The only chance the Republicans have to keep one of their own in the Oval Office is if Mike (Mr. Bought And Paid For) Pence is the President at the time of the November 2020 elections. Right now the most powerful person in Washington is Senator McConnell. If he gives the green light Donald Trump will no longer be the President, it is all up to him. McConnell is like Nancy Pelosi in the aspect that the main thing they are concerned about is their political party, not the people, not Our Country. It is just my opinion on the matter but I believe that these folks are all bought and paid for trash. McConnell doesn’t give a damn about Trump as a person just as Trump doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself. So, what I am saying is if Trump is impeached by the U.S. Senate quickly and they install Mike Pence as the President the Republicans just might hold the White House next November. You see, it doesn’t matter if the U.S. Congress impeaches Trump just as it didn’t matter when the Republican led Congress Impeached Bill Clinton back in the 1990’s, it is the Senate who controls the actual hammer. So, where are we as a Country right now? Personally I believe the Ball is in the proverbial Court of Senator McConnell. So, as a dear friend of mine used to say, now, we shall see what we shall see.
The United States is at risk of serious foreign intervention and disinformation in the 2020 elections. When asked during his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee whether Russia could interfere in the 2020 elections, Robert Mueller responded that they are “doing it as we sit here.” The very next day, the Senate Intelligence Committee reported that “the Russians had attempted to intrude in all 50 states” during the 2016 election. A blog post by Brookings Institution Fellow Margaret Taylor furthermore shows that our European allies have experienced similar Russian activities over the last few years in their national elections, the Brexit campaign, and European Union parliamentary races. Even as the scope of Russian intent and ability becomes increasingly clear, Senate Republicans have done nothing to address this problem.
It is not as if there aren’t good ideas to protect American elections. Four major pieces of election security legislation have been introduced over the last two years: the Secure Elections Act (introduced by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)); Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)); Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act (Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)); and Securing America’s Federal Elections Act (introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA19)).
As noted below, the bills demonstrate relative bipartisan agreement over several key remedies. A number of members have proposed providing additional funding for the Election Assistance Commission, sharing election security expertise with the states, providing paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems, sanctioning financial institutions that support foreign interference, authorizing retaliatory actions against any nation interfering in American elections, and requiring intelligence agencies to determine whether any foreign agents interfered in American elections. A version of these ideas already has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on a 225 to 184 vote, but has been repeatedly blocked from a Senate vote by Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY). Calling the bill “highly partisan,” McConnell blocked a unanimous consent vote on the bill just hours after Mueller’s testimony.
This Senate inaction brings to mind Albert Einstein’s infamous definition of insanity as repeating the same behavior but expecting a different outcome. With no beefing up of election defenses and high odds of continuing foreign interference, 2020 will likely see the same problems of 2016: campaigns that sow discontent and play on societal divisions, active efforts to undermine electoral legitimacy, and widespread public doubts following the campaign about the integrity of the election process itself. Americans will wake up on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 wondering how the U.S. electoral process again fell prey to foreign interference and why political leaders failed to defend our vital democratic processes.
Providing additional funding for the Election Assistance Commission
In looking across the proposed bills, there are a number of promising ideas designed to secure U.S. elections. One of them advanced in the Secure Elections Act is the creation of an Election Assistance Commission grant program that provides funding for states and localities to secure electoral processes and upgrade equipment. The idea is that since elections largely are administered at the state and local level, additional funding for those entities would enable them to update their equipment, install the latest cyber-security protections, and make sure that vital infrastructure is protected during the election.
Sharing election security expertise
Several of the proposed bills give the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a major role in advising the states, offering them technical expertise, and being proactive in dealing with possible cyber-threats. Since this department works to counter terrorism and maintain vital infrastructure, the department has expertise to evaluate hardware and software for cyber-security risks. Armed with that information, it could provide help to state and local agencies charged with administering the upcoming elections.
Providing paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems with an audit trail
A number of local jurisdictions have moved to electronic voting machines in recent years, although in most cases, this equipment is not connected to the internet in order to minimize opportunities for hacking. However, there still could be software bugs that distort the vote or systematically under-count certain areas. Given that possibility, it is important to have paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems and the possibility of conducting an audit if any irregularities are spotted. That way, voters can feel confident their votes will be counted and there are mechanisms to evaluate the vote in case anything is contested.
Sanctioning financial institutions that support foreign interference
The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act establishes financial sanctions that could be applied against countries, financial institutions, or individuals that “facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Putin.” The idea is that Russians could be discouraged from malicious behavior if they think there will be serious consequences.
In addition, the bill “would give prosecutors additional authorities to pursue federal charges for the hacking of voting systems and create a National Fusion Center to respond to hybrid threats of disinformation and other emerging threats from Russia”. There are provisions that specifically would impose sanctions for “Russian interference in democratic processes.”
Authorize retaliatory actions against any nation interfering in American elections
The Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act would allow the President to impose sanctions against any country identified as a threat. Among the actions that could invite retaliation “include a foreign government or agent purchasing political advertisements to influence an election” or “using social media to spread false information, hacking and releasing or modifying election- or campaign-related information or hindering access to elections infrastructure, such as websites for polling places.”
Requiring intelligence agency leaders to determine whether any foreign agents interfered in American elections
The DETER Act would mandate that the director of national intelligence determine within 30 days of the national election whether “the government of a foreign country, or any person acting as an agent of or on behalf of that government, knowingly engaged in interference in the election.” Under threat of sanction, foreign agents specifically would not be allowed to “spread significant amounts of false information to Americans. They also cannot hack, leak or modify election and campaign infrastructure, including voter registration databases and campaign emails.”
Why the Senate inaction in the face of a clear foreign danger?
A number of arguments have been made to justify the votes of those who opposed the House bill or are supporting Senate inaction. One is a state’s rights argument suggesting that the federal government should not have a major role in electoral security given the country’s history of state and local control of balloting. While it certainly is important to maintain state and local control of elections, providing federal assistance to upgrade voting machines does not violate existing legal or constitution provisions. There is a long history of the federal government paying for voting equipment and offering technical assistance. Many states lack funding for voting machines and the federal government often has funded upgrades and improvements. There is ample precedent for national authorities to protect vital infrastructure in the face of foreign threats.
Another rationale concerns the financial cost of electoral security. The idea is at a time when America is running a trillion-dollar budget deficit, it should avoid unnecessary expenditures. Rather, lawmakers should focus on vital priorities and critical infrastructure. Yet electoral security should fall within each of those principles. Having secure elections is essential to democracy. There is no excuse for not spending several hundred million dollars (a very small portion of the overall federal budget) on meaningful steps to protect American elections. Democracy is too important to be risked for a relatively small amount of money.
Short of these criticisms, it is hard to see any justified reason not to enact some type of electoral security measures. As is clear to all who study American elections and have heeded the warnings of our European allies, the intelligence community, and the Special Counsel—the Russian threat is real. Given these dire circumstances, it is difficult to fathom why Senate leadership is refusing to allow a vote on such important legislation, and therefore risking the integrity of the democratic process. Americans should demand Senate action to protect U.S. elections from foreign interference.
A pro-Trump Republican candidate for Congress who is aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar in Minnesota has been charged with a felony after allegedly stealing from stores.
Danielle Stella was arrested twice this year in Minneapolis suburbs over allegations that she shoplifted items worth more than $2,300 from a Target and goods valued at $40 from a grocery store. She said she denied the allegations.
Stella, a 31-year-old special education teacher, was reported this week to be a supporter of the baseless “QAnon” conspiracy theory about Donald Trump battling a global cabal of elite liberal paedophiles.
This week Stella also described Minneapolis as “the crime capital of our country”. She has in the past complained that local police were “overworked and overburdened” and said that, if elected, she would work to reduce crime.
In a series of text messages, Stella said: “I am not guilty of these crimes. In this country I am innocent until proven guilty and that is the law.”
She added: “If I was guilty of crimes, I would never run for public office, putting myself in the public eye under a microscope to be attacked by all political sides.”
An attorney for Stella, Joshua London, declined to comment.
Stella is accused of stealing 279 items valued at $2,327.97 from a Target store in Edina, to the south-west of Minneapolis, on 8 January this year. She was arrested for the alleged theft after security staff called the police.
A criminal complaint filed to Hennepin county district court alleged Stella was seen leaving the store without paying for most of her haul, after “scanning only a few other items” that were valued at about $50.
The complaint said Stella told police in a statement she “remembers arriving at Target to purchase items but nothing else” due to post-traumatic stress disorder, and that she “normally she goes to Target with someone because of anxiety around people”.
Stella has said publicly that she was the victim of a severe violent assault in 2008. She is charged with the thefts under her former surname, which the Guardian agreed not to report because she said it could endanger her safety.
She is charged with felony theft over the incident at Target and faces a punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000 if convicted, according to court filings.
Police and court records said a warrant was put out for Stella’s re-arrest for alleged contempt of court on 4 April, after she failed to show up for a court hearing.
Officers in nearby Bloomington then arrested Stella on 28 April after she was allegedly seen by security staff at a Cub Foods grocery store stealing a bottle of tick spray for cats, and placing other items “under her purse so that they could not be seen”.
When they checked her identification, police officers discovered the open warrant for Stella’s arrest over her failure to appear in court for the earlier alleged shoplifting, their incident report said.
The report said Stella was arrested for alleged misdemeanour theft for taking “cat merchandise” and cat food valued at $40.46. She was issued with a citation and given a date to appear in court. It was not clear whether authorities would pursue the contempt of court allegation.
Stella’s candidacy has attracted interest from the far-right conspiracy website InfoWars, which broadcast an interview with her this week. Stella laughed and nodded as the host, J Owen Shroyer, called Omar “a witch” and said: “Everything about her is a fraud.”
Describing Minneapolis during the interview as America’s “crime capital”, Stella falsely claimed that crime in the city had risen by 80% over the past year. According to Minneapolis police data, there has been a 10.7% uptick in serious crime year-on-year, following a 16.5% decline in 2018.
The rightwing commentator Todd Starnes promoted Stella in an interviewearlier this month on Fox News’s streaming service Fox Nation. “We certainly wish Miss Stella the very best,” Starnes said, adding that he hoped for a “significant change in representation” in Omar’s district.
Last month Stella officially registered with the Federal Election Commission as a candidate for the Republican nomination in Minnesota’s fifth congressional district. She later spoke at the “Demand Free Speech” rally in Washington.
She has accused Omar of being a criminal for advising immigrants how to avoid agents from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She said in a tweet that any representatives who fail to “uphold the rule of law” should be ejected from office.
Court records say that in 2009, Stella pleaded guilty to driving while impaired from alcohol and fleeing a police officer. The latter charge was prosecuted as a felony but later classified as a gross misdemeanour as part of Stella’s plea.
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Washington (CNN)House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on Sunday said Robert Mueller’s report presents “very substantial evidence” that President Donald Trump is “guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors” — an impeachable offense.
(CNN)For many Republicans in Congress, President Donald Trump’s call for some Democratic congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” was worthy of a rare rebuke.
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