John McCain’s Death Reminds Us Just How Petty Trump Is

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORKER)

 

Donald Trump’s Response to John McCain’s Death Reminds Us Just How Petty He Is

Donald Trump is a small, petty man. He is a liar and a crook. And his legal problems are mounting. Each one of these statements has been true since January 20, 2017, when Trump became the President of the United States. But the remarkable events of the past week have highlighted and confirmed the essence of this President, and the terms on which he continues to hold office.

On Monday morning, someone in the White House ordered that the U.S. flag atop the building—which had been flying at half-staff to honor the memory of Senator John McCain, who died on Saturday—be raised to its normal position. Who was responsible for this action? President Trump, of course.

Over the weekend, Trump declined to issue a personal statement praising McCain, instead confining himself to a tweet in which he offered condolences to McCain’s family. You might argue that, in doing so, the President was avoiding hypocrisy—the enmity between the two men was long-standing and bitter. After the Helsinki summit, earlier this year, McCain called Trump’s joint press conference with Vladimir Putin “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American President in memory.” If, after all this acrimony, Trump had said something positive about McCain, it would have rung hollow.

But messing with the flag that flies above the White House was different. The flag represents the United States and the office of the Presidency, not Trump personally. After the death of a prominent U.S. politician, such as a former President or prominent senator, it is standard practice for the sitting President to issue a proclamation ordering the flag to be lowered to half-staff until the burial, which, in this case, will be next Sunday. Whatever one thinks of McCain’s political views, his record—five and a half years in a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp, thirty-one years in the Senate, and two Presidential bids—surely merited such an honor. As Mark Knoller, of CBS News, noted on Monday morning, Trump failed to order the proclamation. Evidently, there is no limit to his smallness.

The outcry was immediate and broad-based, and, in this instance, Trump backed down. On Monday afternoon, the White House press office released a statement in his name, which said, “Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment.”

Who persuaded Trump to change course? Was there a rebellion in the West Wing? The initial reports about the reversal didn’t say. But it was clear that the last thing the White House needs right now is another public-relations disaster. Although McCain’s death knocked the saga of Michael Cohen’s guilty plea off the front pages, at least temporarily, the past week was a disaster for the White House, and a reminder that Trump’s pettiness is only exceeded by his deceitfulness. Is there anybody in the entire country who now believes anything he says about the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal that Cohen helped orchestrate?

In the words of Glenn Kessler, the head of the Washington Post’s fact-checking team, “Trump and his allies have been deliberately dishonest at every turn in their statements regarding payments to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.” No surprise there, of course. This is a man who used to pose as his own press agent to plant fake stories about himself; who has claimed—on the basis of no evidence whatsoever—to have seen Muslims in New Jersey celebrating after the 9/11 attacks; and who has routinely exaggerated his wealth by a factor of ten or more.

For habitual liars, telling untruths is “partly practice and partly habit,” William Hazlitt once wrote. “It requires an effort in them to speak truth.” Trump seldom makes the exertion. From the start of Trump’s Presidency to the beginning of this month, Kessler’s team had “documented 4,229 false or misleading claims from the president—an average of nearly 7.6 a day.”

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Most of these falsehoods Trump has got away with, but he may not get away with his denials and dodges regarding the Daniels and McDougal payments. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York—having secured the coöperation of Cohen and the reported coöperation of David Pecker, who is the head of the company that owns the National Enquirer, and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization—already seems to have strong evidence that Trump was part of a conspiracy to evade campaign-finance laws. Last week, Cohen told a federal court that, in helping arrange the payoffs to Daniels and McDougal, he acted “at the direction of a candidate for federal office.” According to the Wall Street Journal, Pecker “told federal prosecutors that Mr. Trump had knowledge of Mr. Cohen’s payments to women.”

Some of Trump’s defenders are complaining that the Feds, having failed to nail the President on the charge of conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election, are now “trying to Al Capone the President”—that is, get him on a technicality. Others in the Trump camp are falling back on the legal argument that a sitting President can’t be indicted, or that Hillary Clinton’s campaign also violated campaign laws. But, apart from Trump himself, virtually nobody seems to be claiming that he didn’t direct the payoffs.

It would be an irony, of course, if it were the Stormy Daniels story, rather than the Russia probe, that brought Trump to book. It wouldn’t be entirely surprising, though. Sometime, somewhere, Trump’s crooked past was going to catch up with him.

Here’s a quick reminder of the rap sheet. Turning a blind eye to money laundering at his New Jersey casinos. Operating a bogus university that bilked middle-income seniors out of their retirement savings. Stiffing his suppliers as a matter of course. Selling condos to Russians and other rich foreigners who may well have been looking to launder hot money. Entering franchising deals with Eastern European oligarchs and other shady characters. For decades, Trump has run roughshod over laws and regulations.

To protect himself from whistle-blowers, financial cops, and plaintiffs, Trump relied on nondisclosure agreements, lax enforcement, and his reputation for uncompromising litigiousness. But since May, 2017, when he fired James Comey and opened the door to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, things have been slowly unraveling for the President. (Indeed, Mueller’s team tipped off the Southern District about Cohen’s alleged misdeeds.) Last week, the unwinding process seemed to speed up.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean Trump is finished. Whatever happens on the investigative front, it is hard to believe that his own Justice Department will approve an indictment of him while he remains in office. And, as long as the vast majority of G.O.P. voters continue to support him, the Party’s leaders on Capitol Hill, whose continued support he needs, are very unlikely to turn on him.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which was taken after the news about Cohen’s plea and the conviction of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, shows that Trump’s approval rating has barely budged. So does the weekly Gallup poll, which was updated on Monday. In both surveys, Trump’s rating is in the low forties, where it has been for months. “We’ve had this enormous series of events, and these numbers don’t change very much,” Bill McInturff, one of the pollsters who carried out the NBC/Wall Street Journalpoll, told the Journal. And so we go on.

Is Trumps Day Of Reckoning About Here?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

CNN) After one day where truth and facts triumphed, America is back to its alternative realities.

The convictions of two close associates of President Donald Trump in a mind-bending double-header drama in two cities on Tuesday were a moment of clarity in the legal morass that has thickened around the White House over the last 19 months.
Yet anyone who thought that being implicated in a crime in one of the most sensational political moments of recent history would soon temper Trump’s behavior, stop his White House peddling untruths or reshape the political terrain that sustains his presidency is being disappointed — at least for now.
Certainly, in years to come that tumultuous hour on Tuesday could turn out to be the moment when the Trump presidency began to unravel and the Teflon armor that shielded the President from scandals and outrages that would doom normal politicians was finally penetrated.
After all, months of obfuscation and attacks on Robert Mueller could not halt the legal process that’s likely to send former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the President’s former fixer Michael Cohen to jail for years. And the real meat of the special counsel’s investigation into alleged collusion with Russia is yet to be revealed.
But in the immediate term at least, it seems nothing has changed in Washington.
The White House is back to peddling narratives that defy fact, attacking the media and lifting talking points from conservative opinion hosts. Trump is making new assaults on legal propriety. Republicans are dodging reporters in the Capitol to avoid being called to account for the President’s latest transgression. Democrats, owing to the GOP’s power monopoly in Washington, can only stir outrage and fire blanks — at least until the midterm elections.

‘What in the world are we going through?’

Trump’s defenders can still argue that although Cohen and Manafort, and the already disgraced Trump acolytes Rick Gates and Michael Flynn, have been felled by Mueller, the President has not been charged or been proved to have colluded with Russia or obstructed justice.
But his attitude on Wednesday hardly fit the profile of someone who had done nothing wrong or who is convinced the legal process should be allowed to play out to its conclusion.
He made up a legal loophole to argue that the hush money paid to women before the 2016 election who alleged they had affairs with him — payments Cohen said were made at his direction — did not break the law since it did not come from campaign funds.
“They didn’t come out of the campaign and that’s big,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. “It’s not even a campaign violation.”
Trump is also again brazenly tearing at the boundaries of presidential decorum, dangling the possibility of a pardon before Manafort, who might just be tempted to cooperate with Mueller, now that he’s probably going to jail for most of the rest of his life.
“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12-year-old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!” Trump tweeted.
Former Watergate special prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste bemoaned the possibility that the President might be considering a pardon for a man convicted of massive tax fraud and called on political leaders to come together to head off a moment of national peril.
“What in the world are we going through in this country?” Ben-Veniste told CNN’s Erica Hill.
At the White House, press secretary Sarah Sanders held a previously unscheduled briefing to press home the President’s counterattack.
She dismissed the notion that Trump was in legal trouble at all over Cohen’s accusation, which effectively boiled down to the sitting President of the United States being accused of a crime.
“As the President has said and we’ve stated many times, he did nothing wrong. There are no charges against him and we’ve commented on it extensively,” she said.
When asked by a reporter whether Trump’s now-discredited statement on Air Force One that he knew nothing about the payment to former porn star Stormy Daniels, she attacked the messenger:
“I think that’s a ridiculous accusation. The President, in this matter, has done nothing wrong.”
Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, are stuck in their perpetual dance, tiptoeing around Trump’s latest misadventures in fear of his Make America Great Again base. House Speaker Paul Ryan, once seen as the moral conscience of the GOP, is nowhere to be seen nor heard.
“I’m not very happy about it,” said Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch, who earlier this year said the current presidency could be the greatest in history, but he added Wednesday that Trump should not be blamed for his staff.
Louisiana’s Sen. John Kennedy said he didn’t see what the fuss was about in the Cohen and Manafort convictions.
“You know, I’m sorry. I don’t see any deeper meaning in this other than you have to pay your taxes and you can’t lie on a loan application,” he told reporters.
South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham, a sometime Trump golf partner, punted.
“Rather than answer a bunch of hypotheticals, I’ll do what I did in the Clinton — when Ken Starr issued his report. I read it, I’ll make a decision,” he said.
Democrats are gamely repurposing the latest Trump crisis in their almost certainly futile bid to scuttle the President’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, but are limited by their purgatory in the minority.
Hawaii’s Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono nixed a meeting with Kavanaugh, to bolster Democratic calls for the nomination to be put on hold given Tuesday’s events.
But Democrats are also still wary of using the “I” word, partly to avoid giving Trump a rallying issue that could motivate his supporters in the midterm elections.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi told The Associated Press on Wednesday that impeachment is still “not on the table” even though some liberals believe that if Trump did conspire with Cohen in the way it appears from his court testimony, he may have already committed a high crime or misdemeanor that is the standard for House of Representatives action against a President.

A ‘reckoning’ will come

It’s become a cliché that nothing — insulting war hero Sen. John McCain, cozying up to Russian leader Vladimir Putin or elevating white supremacists — derails Trump. Tuesday’s events could become just another data point in that trend. And if the special counsel finds no evidence of collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice, Trump will be able to credibly assert that his name is clear.
But no one knows where Mueller’s probe will lead, if Trump or his campaign is guilty of collusion or obstructing justice. Presidencies can take years to unravel, as the varied experiences of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter show.
There’s also little doubt that Tuesday’s legal stunner, and the news that White House Counsel Donald McGahn testified to Mueller for 30 hours, have seeded new dark clouds around the President that could manifest themselves in ways impossible to predict right now.
And while Democrats are currently powerless, they could cripple Trump’s presidency and make his life a misery with incessant investigations if they win the House in November
A Democratic rout would prompt Republicans to consider whether sticking with Trump and a strategy solely reliant on his base is wise in the 2020 election.
So while it may seem that Trump’s political and legal luck is holding, it may erode over time and the furor surrounding Tuesday’s convictions could be a major reason why.
Some Trump opponents are still optimistic that the President is set for a demise.
“I believe in the wisdom and the good faith of the American people,” Norm Eisen, White House ethics czar during the Obama administration, said on CNN International.
“Let’s let it unfold. He is going to meet his day of reckoning.”

What I Believe The Truth Is About What Happened In The 2016 Presidential Election

What I Believe The Truth Is About What Happened In The 2016 Presidential Election

 

I am a registered independent who does vote in all of the Presidential election cycles and in all of the mid-term elections. I have voted for several Republicans and several Democrats throughout the years. I am not a fan of either of these two main parties and I darn sure can not stomach Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump, I do believe that these two caricatures belong chained in the basement of a Federal Pen until the day they rot away and die. In case you are wondering, I voted for Gary Johnson back in 2016 for President, not because I thought that he would win anything, I just couldn’t get myself to vote for either of those other two donkeys behinds.

 

Now, I am going to tell you what I believe is the honest truth about what happened on election night of 2016. What I believe as of tonight is exactly what I believed happened back on November 8th of 2016, no changes. As pretty much almost all sane folks know (if you are a person who believes all the security agencies) Russia at the direction of their President Mr. Putin had their security agencies interfere in 21 States computer election systems. It is a fact that all these Russian hackers had to do was to move about 1/2 of 1% of the votes in just 3 or 4 of the States that were projected to be close that Hillary was projected to win. This would be enough to flip the winner of the Presidential election away from Hillary whom Mr. Putin hates to Mr. Trump whom I believe Mr. Putin has major ‘dirt’ on.

 

Hillary won the popular vote by a little over 2.8 million total votes. This is more than 5 times the amount that Al Gore beat George W. Bush by back in 2000 yet some how the ‘Arkansas Witch’ lost the election. If you are wondering, Mr. Gore beat Mr. Bush by a little more than 500,000 total votes. Mr. Trump likes to say that he won the election by a ‘historic’ amount even though history shows him to be a liar even on this matter, but then, what doesn’t this fraud not lie about, daily? Mr. Trump is said to have won 304 Electoral College votes to Hillary’s 227. For a person to win the election the had to garner at least 270 of these votes. So, Mr. Trump received 34 more than required to be the winner. Next I am going to show you a few final numbers from the 2016 election. There are more States with more examples of these issues, I have just picked 4 of them to show you. All of these States the poles right up to the election and the exit polls after people had voted all said that Hillary would win these States, but the computers say she didn’t.

 

Florida: 29 Electoral votes: Trump 49.20%,   4,615,910 popular votes

Hillary 47.81%,   4,501,455 popular votes

Trump wins by 1.39%  and by 114,455


Pennsylvania: 20 Electoral Votes: Trump 48.58%, 2,970,753 popular votes

Hillary 47.85%,  2,926,441 popular votes

Trump wins by .73% and by 44,312


Michigan: 16 Electoral Votes:  Trump 47.50%,  2,279,543 popular votes

Hillary 47.27%,  2,268,839 popular votes

Trump wins by .23% and by 10,704


Wisconsin: 10 Electoral Votes:  Trump 47.26%, 1,407,028 popular votes

Hillary 46.45%,  1,382,947 popular votes

Trump wins by .81% and by 24,081


Folks remember, on these percentages all you have to do is to cut the wining margins in half to change the outcome of the election. For example lets use Wisconsin. Mr. Trump is said to have won by .81%, now, cut that in half, take away .41% and give it to Hillary. This would equal a Hillary win 47.86% to Trump at 47.85%. Example of Michigan, .12% changes the winner. It is a well know fact that Russian intelligence agencies hacked these States systems trying to help Mr. Trump win.

All that historically huge win that Mr. Trump has bragged about would have changed if Hillary had won even the three smallest of these States, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Folks, this is just 3 of the 21 the Russian Agencies hacked. These three States alone totaled 46 Electoral Votes. Flipping just those three States, those 46 votes would have made the final Electoral Vote tally of Hillary 273, Trump 258. I honestly believe that we have a ‘fake’ President who is going to end up being impeached. I would say imprisoned also except that I am quite sure that President Pence as his first piece of business will pardon Mr. Trump of all of his felonies, including the treason charges I believe Mr. Mueller will prove Trump guilty of. I believe that Mr. Trump will pardon all of his mafia clan before he is himself impeached. The clan of which I speak does include the two crooks convicted today, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Manafort. I also believe that Mr. Mueller will get convictions on Eric and Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jarred Kushner.

 

Okay friends, that is my rant for the night. As a very dear old friend of mine used to like to say, now “we shall see what we shall see.” You can say I’m totally correct on everything that I have written this evening, most of it, some of it or even none of it.  I just wanted to get my thoughts down in print. Now, time will tell us “what we shall see.”

 

 

Russian diplomat claimed Kushner wanted back channel to Kremlin: report says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Russian diplomat claimed Kushner wanted backchannel to Kremlin: report says

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner suggested backchannel communications between the Trump transition and Russia, Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak reportedly said.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner suggested backchannel communications between the Trump transition and Russia, Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak reportedly said.

(EVAN VUCCI/AP)

Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner wanted to create a backchannel communications link between the President’s transition and the Kremlin, according to alleged discussions reported Friday.Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak told other officials in Moscow that Kushner had suggested the backchannel after a meeting at Trump Tower that also included future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to the Washington Post.

Friday night’s report, based off of information from U.S. officials, came the same day that the Post reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election had requested documents from the Trump campaign.

A letter from the committee, one of the four main inquiries into the election interference and possible Trump campaign collusion, asked for all documents going back to 2015, the Post reported.

Jared Kushner scrutinized in Trump-Russia investigation: reports

The investigations into the meddling and potential collusion have accelerated in recent weeks after the firing of FBI Director James Comey, who confirmed the FBI investigation in March and reportedly resisted pressure from Trump to end it’s look at Flynn.

Flynn and former Trump campaign chair Manafort are believed to be targets of the investigation, though multiple outlets reported Thursday that Kushner was considered a person of interest.

Team Trump had previously confirmed the meeting between Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak, but has said it was not out of the ordinary.

The Post report Friday was based off of conversations Kislyak had with other Russian officials, and the Americans involved did not comment.

Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner fail to disclose art worth millions

Sergey Kislyak reportedly told superiors about the potential of a backchannel after a December meeting.

Sergey Kislyak reportedly told superiors about the potential of a backchannel after a December meeting.

(CLIFF OWEN/AP)

It is not unusual for incoming presidential administrations to meet with foreign leaders, though before the December meeting the Kremlin had been accused of orchestrating a campaign to influence the November election.

A joint intelligence community report released in January said that the effort was aimed at helping Trump.

Kushner had originally failed to report his meeting with Vladimir Putin’s man in America on his application for a security clearance, but his lawyer said that the documents were submitted prematurely and his client would inform authorities in an interview.

A potential backchannel between the Trump team and the U.S.’s former Cold War foe had previously been raised by a report in April, when the Post reported that controversial Blackwater founder Erik Prince, also Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s brother, had acted as a go-between in January.

Prince reportedly acted as an envoy for Trump in a secretive meeting with unidentified emissary from Putin in the Seychelles, remote islands in the Indian Ocean, though Prince and the White House denied that he was sent by the incoming adminitration.

The Post reported Friday that the Kushner-Kislyak conversation in December talked about a Trump representative meeting a “Russian contact.”