Foreign Policy journalist David Rothkopf sees the events of the past week with great clarity — and unfortunately, his clarity is alarming. Something broke in America this week. We have been spiraling downward since Trump's election, but this week, we crossed a line. The President and his men began asserting that they were above the law–and effectively no one in our system did anything to stop them. — David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) April 12, 2019 He asserted again that he was the final arbiter of whether obstruction of justice by the president had taken place. He even went so far as to imply that law enforcement authorities carrying out their duty to protect America were somehow "spying", perhaps illicitly… — David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) April 12, 2019 At the same time, the Secretary of the Treasury and the head of the IRS determined to violate a law that required in no uncertain terms for them to provide the president's tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means committee. — David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) April 12, 2019 to those who break the law, encouraging a crime and abetting it. We learned that they considered an egregious abuse of power that would involve releasing illegal immigrants in sanctuary cities controlled by Democrats. — David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) April 12, 2019 The president repeatedly called law enforcement officers who investigated him traitors, guilty of treason–a crime that carries with it the death penalty. We discovered that the president considered appointing his grossly unqualified daughter to be head of the World Bank. — David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) April 12, 2019 In so doing, they sent a message that they would never challenge him much less convict him of the myriad crimes he has committed. The checks and balances our system was built upon are gone. Worse, the courts are being packed with Trump cronies–often unqualified. — David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) April 12, 2019 This is how democracies die. The rule of law is slowly strangled. The unthinkable becomes commonplace. The illegal becomes accepted–from violations of the emoluments clause to self-dealing to Federal election law crimes to serial sexual abuse. — David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) April 12, 2019 I have long thought our system was better than this–more resilient. But candidly, I'm no longer sure. I remain hopeful…hopeful that the next election cycle can redress this manifold wrongs. But it will not be easy. It will be too close. Trump may be with us for six more yrs. — David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) April 12, 2019 They are daring someone to enforce it. But what if…what if the courts rule against them but they ignore it? What if the Treasury Secretary has violated a law and no one arrests him. What if the president steals and canoodles with enemies and he goes unpunished? — David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) April 12, 2019 Our only hope is recognizing the seriousness of our situation. This is not politics as usual. This is not an erosion of what was. This is a full blown crisis, the greatest American politics has faced in half a century…perhaps much longer. — David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) April 12, 2019 It is not a time for equivocation. It is not a time for patience. It is time for those who seek to protect the rule of law to step up to […]
Trump has a sugar coated vision of his elder daughter, Ivanka. He sees her as a “natural diplomat,” who should be the UN Ambassador, perhaps, and then go on to run for president. And he apparently sees Junior as the doofus that the rest of us do as well. The Atlantic: In our conversation, the president wanted to be clear: He was very proud of all his children. “Barron is young, but he’s got wonderful potential,” he said. “And Tiffany’s doing extremely well. Don is, uh, he’s enjoying politics; actually, it’s very good. And Eric is running the business along with Don, and also very much into politics. I mean, the children—the children have been very, very good.” But Ivanka, whom he sometimes calls “Baby” in official meetings, is “unique.” If Trump sees any of his children as his heir apparent, it’s Ivanka. “If she ever wanted to run for president,” he said, “I think she’d be very, very hard to beat.” At 37, she is old enough. But Ivanka has never talked with her friends about running for office, and the president said she has never expressed any interest about that to him. Still, while Don Jr. might be a hit at political rallies, Ivanka is the only child the president ever considered for an administration post. “She went into the whole helping-people-with-jobs, and I wasn’t sure that was going to be the best use of her time, but I didn’t know how successful she’d be,” the president said. “She’s created millions of jobs, and I had no idea she’d be that successful.” Nobody else has an idea about this particular success, either. There are no millions of jobs. Walmart and IBM have agreed to create programs to employ people, at Ivanka’s behest, but they are reskilling programs, for people who already have jobs. Just another example of how Trump can take a topic and make a self-serving narrative up out of whole cloth. John Kelly, evidently, is not in agreement with Trump about Ivanka being president. That John Kelly despised both Ivanka and Jared is no secret. When the retired Marine general was brought on as chief of staff, in July 2017, he saw a couple “playing government,” a phrase he would utter frequently. “He kind of walked in and looked at Ivanka like, What the fuck is Barbie doing in the West Wing?” the source close to her said. But if Kelly saw Ivanka as a headache, Jared was a consciousness-altering migraine. Kelly had little idea what Jared did all day—he could be text-messaging Van Jones about criminal-justice reform or catching up with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (implicated in the murder last fall of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi). Kelly struggled to hide his contempt. At one senior-staff meeting, when someone raised a question relating to foreign policy, Kelly, according to a person in the room, observed that having a clear read on the answer was hard for him, given that “we have about three secretaries of state now.” Jared, who was present, remained silent. The saga of Javanka is one for the ages. Never in history, has a sitting president hired his daughter and son-in-law as advisers, when they couldn’t even pass a security clearance without intervention from that same president. But Ivanka has been quoted as saying that […]
Do you like to play “Connect the Dots?” How about these, for openers? Amazon, Trump, Kushner, MBS, AMI. They all connect. Bezos owns the so-called “Amazon Washington Post” which Trump hates. The Saudis also hate the Washington Post, for breaking the Khashoggi murder story. Kushner, of course, loves the Saudis and his buddy Mohammad bin Salman, just like Big Daddy Trump loves Vladimir Putin. The Trump family simply loves despots and gangsters, makes them feel part of a really special clique, apparently. Trump used to love AMI/National Enquirer, before they got into a tacky states evidence mode. Now Trump doesn’t love them anymore. But when he did love them, and they loved him, AMI put together that glossy magazine about what a hero MBS is, and how the future is bright in Saudi Arabia under his autocratic rule. Bottom line here, the Washington Post prints facts, AMI is a propaganda machine, and therein lies the rub. Jeff Bezos’ private investigator says they’ve determined with high confidence that Saudi Arabia got access to Bezos’ phone. He cites my @AP story with @JeffHorwitz that used forensic evidence to show Saudi got advance copy of AMI’s pro-MBS magazine https://t.co/rDQm79lYNL — Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) March 30, 2019 Golly! Why on earth would the Saudis want to hack Bezos? I mean, it's not like they're colluding with a dude who hates Bezos and happens to be POTUS, right? https://t.co/l7rakCEXvi — John Battelle (@johnbattelle) March 30, 2019 This could be a whole new level of trouble that needs to be exposed by bright sunlight. Possibly @JeffBezos most important work. He is courage personified. https://t.co/KHGlWOnTYz — Richard J. Siegel (@RichardJSiegel) March 30, 2019 So what happens if and when the FBI confirms this and DOJ wants to indict a bunch of Saudi officials? Lot of difficult conversations inside the administration. https://t.co/pXni4C5xMO — Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) March 30, 2019 It will be interesting to see how William Barr and Mike Pompeo weigh in on this, if at all. This is what happens when Jared Kushner is calling the shots and dictating policy to Big Daddy. Kushner told Trump to fire Comey, the “greatest mistake in modern political history” as Steve Bannon dubbed it. Kushner also told his father-in-law, “Don’t worry, it’ll all blow over,” with respect to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Right. Impeccable political instincts there, on the part of Jared, yep. Jeff Bezos is not somebody Trump should screw with and that’s going to become apparent if it hasn’t been so before. Bezos not only has the resources to investigate all this, he has the brains and the balls. Trump and Kushner’s IQs and balls added together don’t add up to Jeff Bezos’. Apparently the rest of us know this, but Kushner and Trump don’t. This will be interesting to watch develop.
You remember Michael Cohen’s opening line to Congress last month, “The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump. Today, I’m here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump.” Big Daddy is not the only Trump he had lied for previously. Cohen was asked to edit his original congressional testimony specifically to exclude Ivanka and whitewash any dealings she had with the development of Trump Tower Moscow. Vanity Fair: President Trump, he said, had spoken in “code” to prompt Cohen to lie about the Moscow project. Moreover, Cohen said, his false testimony was coordinated with the president’s attorneys. “Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it,” he said in his prepared remarks. At the time, Cohen had a joint defense agreement with the president, so the document was reviewed by Trump’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, as well as Abbe Lowell,the lawyer representing Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. According to Cohen, neither attorney raised objections to the document, which included his false statement about the Moscow project. Sekulow issued a statement protesting Cohen’s assertions: “Today’s testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the president edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is completely false.” But Cohen had communications detailing these alleged edits, some of which lawmakers requested in a closed-door hearing with the House Intelligence Committee the following week. One document, which I have reviewed, was an e-mail exchange between Cohen and his then attorney, Stephen Ryan, outlining changes that Ryan said Lowell had asked them to make in order to distance Ivanka from the Moscow deal. Attached to the e-mail were drafts he said were Lowell’s suggested edits. The extent of Lowell’s involvement has not been previously reported. “Abbe asks for us to affirmatively address in our statement on the 25th: -[Ivanka] was not involved in the backs and forths with FS [Felix Sater] and MC [Michael Cohen] -she did not know FS was involved in the possible project in that country -she was not in any meetings or calls with people putting it together (esp. from that country) -and maybe that, by then, MC knew she was at least skeptical about him.” Abbe Lowell is a top tier white-collar criminal defense attorney. How interesting that he would be son-in-law and First Daughter’s lawyer, in the first place — let alone see his way clear to minimize, if not eradicate, testimony about Ivanka’s true involvement the controversial Trump Tower Moscow project. Lowell’s involvement, unknown before now, is certain to be of interest to congressional investigators. Kushner was one of 81 individuals/entities asked to produce documents to the House. Here’s a final note of interest. Many, like former attorney general Jeff Sessions, former White House communications director Hope Hicks, and former Trump bodyguard Matthew Calamari, were asked for documents that could pertain to conversations between Ivanka and foreign governments. Cohen was also asked for documents related to Ivanka and any potential emolument violations, discussions with foreign governments, financial transactions with the Russian government or businesses, the Trump Tower Moscow project, and changes made to his initial congressional testimony. This is not even remotely normal. The Era of Trump is so strange and bizarre, that by now we are so numbed to terrible news about this family, that we might as well […]
Beware the ides of March — or indeed, the entire month, if you’re a resident of Trumpworld. Trump started raging against the House addressing 81 individuals/entities who were requested to produce documents relevant to the issues of collusion with Russia, obstruction of justice, and abuses such as payments to Trump’s mistresses — and this was before the Mueller report dropped Friday. The White House is more or less in a state of siege, and they’re handling it every bit as badly as you would expect. Daily Beast: Trump, for his part, has complained to associates that the committee chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and the committee’s inquiry into his administration, family, and orbit, is “not legitimate,” according to a person who has heard the president discuss the matter. Further, Trump has said that Democratic lawmakers have already made up their minds that the president is a crook, are simply in search of dirt, and are trying to distract Americans from what Trump sees as his successes. Early this month, the president told reporters, “I cooperate all the time, with everybody,” when asked about the new investigation. The very next day, however, Trump tweeted that the probe was the “greatest overreach in the history of our Country” and that the “Dems are obstructing justice and will not get anything done. A big, fat, fishing expedition desperately in search of a crime, when in fact the real crime is what the Dems are doing, and have done!” David Bossie, a former senior Trump aide who also worked as House Republicans’ top investigator into Bill Clinton’s White House, similarly sees another witch hunt. “The socialists running the House of Representatives right now are out for President Trump, and I don’t see this as a credible investigation, and therefore I would not cooperate with them at all,” Bossie told The Daily Beast. “It’s an illegitimate investigation and I would not cooperate with them at all if I were any of the 81 people or entities.” Rigged witches and socialists, and they’re all out to get Trump, who is as pure as the driven snow. Defending this ludicrous posture is none other than Trump lawyers Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani, who wrote the committee stating they wouldn’t be handing over any documents. If Trump has a Civics 101 coloring book, now would be the time for him to consult it. He will learn that the House committees have subpoena power and he can’t ignore that. Trump cruised through his first two years in office with a unified Republican government, and zero oversight, but with the Democrats running the House and the Mueller report out in the world for consumption, reality in the White House could not be more different now. It is rude awakening time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If you’re a coffee pot or a television set, look out. Trump’s going to go berserk when it sinks in what’s really going on. Cornered rats are not pleasant beings.
The Washington Post characterizes the George Conway-Donald Trump twitter tempest as “a remarkable public spat,” here’s what Conway himself says about it: Conway also suggested his own tweets questioning the president’s mental health were aimed in part at avoiding conflicts with his wife. “It’s so maddening to watch,” said Conway, a longtime Washington attorney who is well-known in conservative circles. “The mendacity, the incompetence, it’s just maddening to watch. The tweeting is just the way to get it out of the way, so I can get it off my chest and move on with my life that day. That’s basically it. Frankly, it’s so I don’t end up screaming at her [wife Kellyanne] about it.” It won’t surprise you that George Conway has followed the exact same story arc as all the other villains in Trump’s world. First, Conway was a “top trial lawyer” with a “truly great voice.” Conway was on the condominium board at one of Trump’s buildings, and Conway gave Trump advice. Now, that they’re on the outs, Conway is of course a “total loser” and digitial director Brad Parscale assures the world that Conway doesn’t even know Trump. Wrong. During the transition, Conway said he also rode in a black SUV with Trump, his wife and Stephen K. Bannon to a costume party at the home of GOP megadonor Rebekah Mercer. Trump had heard about the party and wanted to attend. During the car ride, Conway said the president was fixated on John Bolton’s prominent mustache — and that it was a reason not to pick him as secretary of state. Since then, Trump picked Bolton as his national security adviser. In spring 2017, Conway said his wife arranged a call with himself, the president, Vice President Pence and senior adviser Jared Kushner to evaluate lawyers for the Mueller investigation. A speakerphone was used, Conway said. “He wanted to know my opinions on a variety of lawyers who were being considered to be his outside counsel. He asked me for my opinions on each of them,” Conway said, adding that there were “all these people in the room making it a nonprivileged conversation.” When the movies start being made about this mis-administration, the characters of George and Kellyanne will get quite a send up. And that makes sense, because as divided as the country is over Trump, it’s still fairly rare that married couples are fighting over the man. It’s enough of a phenomenon to have been noted, but not one that is frequent, and certainly not amongst Trump’s very own staff. This Conway spat is one for the books. Kellyanne doesn’t want to talk about it, which is understandable, but the Post reports that she did talk about it, at length, and in public no less, at a British Embassy party for members of Congress last month. Prominent journalists were there, including Maurren Dowd, Andrea Mitchell and former Washington Post journalist Sally Quinn. Conway reportedly said that “she and the president think her husband is jealous of her,” and that the “president has kept her at a prominent place in the administration because he trusts her and wants to “protect her.”‘ I can’t imagine Kellyanne being so dumb as to think that Trump wants to protect anybody but Trump. The only reason he wants Kellyanne where she […]
This isn’t right, but it isn’t surprising either. Brad Parscale, one of Trump’s digital media directors, lies about George Conway “desperately wanting” a job from Trump, and Trump chimes in “total loser,” a sophomoric insult on top of a lie. Sounds like vintage Trump administration so far. A total loser! https://t.co/vm3Vv2f9jf — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2019 It also didn’t happen that way. George Conway was offered a job in the Justice Department and he turned it down, in 2017. “I am profoundly grateful to the President and to the attorney general for selecting me to serve in the Department of Justice. I have reluctantly concluded, however, that, for me and my family, this is not the right time for me to leave the private sector and take on a new role in the federal government,” he said in a statement.”Kellyanne and I continue to support the President and his administration, and I look forward to doing so in whatever way I can from outside the government,” he added. Conway, however, was not to be outdone, and this was his reply. Congratulations! You just guaranteed that millions of more people are going to learn about narcissistic personality disorder and malignant narcissism! Great job! https://t.co/Dk9bI3sBs7 — George Conway (@gtconway3d) March 19, 2019 This was the article that first got me to really understand you, @realDonaldTrump. Once someone understands narcissistic personality disorder, they understand you—and why you’re unfit and incompetent for the esteemed office you temporarily hold.https://t.co/5RPQL9xntA — George Conway (@gtconway3d) March 19, 2019 As stated before, what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall of the Conway kitchen.
This was originally posted on January 20, 2017, a day which will not live in the annals of comedy. Nobody was in the mood for humor that day. I wrote this piece to get over my depression, because laughter is the best medicine. I re-read the piece the other day and thought, “Oh, if only, if only it had really happened this way.” Crack open a cold one and I hope you enjoy. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. “Donald’s Magical Moving Day, The Movie,” by Ursula Faw ESTABLISHING SHOT. EXTERIOR. WASHINGTON, D.C. THE WHITE HOUSE. AFTERNOON. CUT TO: INTERIOR. LONG SHOT. TRUMP STANDING IN THE HALLWAY TALKING ON THE TELEPHONE. TRUMP (on phone) “Kellyanne, where is the bust of Vladimir? I want that for the bedroom. You know how important that is to me. All right, I’ll wait a little while. But I’m not sleeping here tonight if that hasn’t been delivered. That’s right, I feel that strongly about it. What’s that? No, that’s not all. Where’s the rest of Ivanka’s stuff that she made for me?…the nut bowls… I’ll tell you what nut bowls!!! The ones that are made of nickles and quarters that are in the bar down the street at the Trump Hotel! Yes, Ivanka designed those. (pause) What do you mean, you sold those to the Red Roof Inn for cost?! Eye, eye can’t bee-leave this! I was yuugely fond of those nut bowls! I was going to give them as gifts to foreign ambassadors! Where’s the nearest Red Roof Inn, I want you to get them back! (pause) Look, just make sure that my gold leaf gets here because I don’t know exactly what I’ll want to change. This place is yuuuuuge. Oh, and there’s too many pictures here, Kellyanne. The portraits. I don’t want to look at a bunch of paintings of old dead men. Well, I sort of thought that we could maybe get more mirrors — right, brighten the place up. Ok, bye.” SOUND EFFECT “Psst! Psst!” TRUMP (looks around at the sound of hissing; shakes his cell phone) […]
Eric Trump is not exactly known as the luminary of the Trump family brain trust (an entity that could maybe power a night light, collectively, if focused at full intensity) and a recent interview with the London Times provides further proof — as if any were needed. Trump was on a visit recently to Scotland for the opening of a group of refurbished Edwardian cottages at the South Ayrshire resort, purchased by the Trump Organization in 2014. First, Eric was asked about his brother, Donald Junior’s, plans to run for president in 2024. The London Times: “Do I think [my family] has learnt a lot about politics? Yes, I do,” he said. “Do I think we understand it? Yes. Am I saying he [Donald Jr] would run, or any one of us would run? I wouldn’t rule anything out. My father has done so many things to make the country safer and better. We are respected around the world…. They are “respected around the world.” Katie, bar the door, as my Irish peasant relatives were wont to exclaim, when confronted with a fact too incredible to mentally process, even with a shot of Bushmills. Just in case Eric’s confabulations aren’t ringing true with you, check out a few words from this Washington Post article, “The World Is Laughing At Donald Trump.”This was written after Trump bragged to the UN about how he had “accomplished more than almost any administration in history” and the members of the UN, heretofore a group of genteel ladies and gentlemen, laughed in his face, as you may recall. Back in January, I pointed out the discomfiting fact that the world hated President Trump. Whether one looked at Pew polling data, Gallup polling data or Trump’s inability to negotiate new deals, the evidence was pretty clear: The Trump administration has paid a high price for trying to articulate its America First foreign policy. In return, the United States has gained . . . nothing. In his first year, Trump can point to no new alliances, trade deals or favorable basing agreements. Trump obsesses (wrongly) about trade deficits, but they increased with both China and Mexico in 2017. The dollar is not surging in response to a growing U.S. economy. Trump’s biggest foreign policy accomplishment is the military campaign against the Islamic State, which is basically a continuation of Obama’s 2016 strategy. . . . The United States is losing its global standing because the world hates Donald Trump. Anyone who tells you differently is selling you something. Well, we know what line of goods Eric is selling, snake oil and shit, just like his old man. But wait, his musings don’t stop there, they only get better. He responded to questions about charges of violations of the emoluments clause, and accusations that the Trump International panders to foreign delegations, and in essence, sells access to the *resident, a constitutional no no. Eric Trump insisted the allegations were cooked up by their opponents. Brian Frosh, the Maryland attorney-general, is investigating the Trump network of trusts and limited liability companies, believing it to be a means “for hotel revenues to flow to the president” in violation of constitutional rules. “You don’t know how ridiculous that notion is,” Mr Trump said. “We are a simple company. We run hotels, we have the best golf courses […]
Kellyanne Conway made a very catty tweet today, after the story broke in the Washington Post about the Justice Department indicting 50 people, including two television stars, for bribing college officials to let their under-achieving children into prestigious schools. The centerpiece of the story is a college admissions adviser, William Singer, who orchestrated one hell of a bribery scheme, whereby rich folks could get Johnny or Susie admission to a college that they didn’t deserve via a charitable donation, and then turn right around and take it off of their taxes. Here’s a brief sketch of the facts. Washington Post: The alleged crimes included cheating on entrance exams and bribing college officials to say certain students were athletic recruits when those students were not in fact athletes, officials said. Numerous schools were targeted, including Georgetown University, Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and UCLA, among others. Boston’s U.S. attorney, Andrew Lelling, called it the largest-ever college admissions scam prosecuted by the Justice Department. Of the 50 people charged in the FBI’s Operation Varsity Blues, 33 were parents, officials said, warning that the investigation is ongoing and that others could be charged. “These parents are a catalogue of wealth and privilege,” said Lelling. “This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud. There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy, and I’ll add there will not be a separate criminal-justice system, either.” The blow back to this story has been hurricane force all day. Then Kellyanne threw in her two cents, and the wind blew even harder. I look forward to you supporting a probe into how Jared got into Harvard https://t.co/70fFmbCJkA — Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) March 12, 2019 Now, of course, Jared can’t withstand an eye blink of scrutiny on this topic, for the simple reason that his father paid Harvard $2.5Mil to secure Jared a seat, that he could not have gotten under his own merit. Today’s revelation in the Washington Post is recalling Jared’s unsavory past in this department. ProPublica Editor Dan Golden wrote a book ten years ago about how the wealthy bought their kids’ way into elite colleges, and he wrote an article about Kushner, specifically, in 2016, after the election. Here are excerpts, which are being being discussed today, in the wake of the college scandal. Bottom line, Jared Kushner is a child of privilege, whose father bought his way into Harvard — and then his father-in-law got him a security clearance, equally undeserved, so he can play diplomat and scheme to sell nuclear starter kits to the Saudis. I [spoke with] administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision “There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,” a former official at The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. “His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get […]