Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 6/17/2020 John Bolton Book

  • I wrote last time about close Bannon ally Michael Pack taking over at the US Agency for Global Media. This is the organization which disseminates information from the US to the rest of the world. Tonight Mr. Pack fired the heads of four agencies under him (one of them was already leaving in July). It’s likely Pack will be politicizing our foreign media groups which have always been apolitical.
  • Excerpts from John Bolton’s upcoming book have become to come out. The president has begun attacking Bolton and the Department of Justice is seeking a temporary restraining order to block publication. (This will 100% absolutely fail). The book contains numerous serious accusations ranging from Trump’s incompetence to requests for foreign governments to help his re-election ala the Ukraine scandal. Trump told President Xi of China he thought building concentration camps for Uyghur Muslims was the right thing to do. He also told Xi he would help with the investigation into a Chinese company if Xi would agree to increase their purchase of American agricultural products. Trump directly linked Ukraine aid to investigating Joe Biden. Trump praised Mohammed bin Salman after the Saudis literally butchered a Washington Post reporter in order to hide media attention over Ivanka Trump using a private personal email account to conduct government business. Trump privately lamented being unable to execute journalists and said they should be imprisoned until revealing their sources. At the request of Turkish president Erdogan, Trump promised to “take care of” a US investigation into a Turkish company.

Bolton said he would testify during the impeachment trial, but Republicans voted to not have him appear.

Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 2/11/2020

Another slow news day.

  • Lt. Vindman and his twin brother (who wasn’t involved in any way in the impeachment process) were both fired from the National Security Council. As right wing politicians and pundits argued this was normal, the president said today that the military should punish Vindman for his testimony.
  • Despite claims from the Trump family that they only charge Secret Service a steeply discounted rate at Trump hotels, the government has been paying up to $650 per night per room any time Trump stays at one of his own properties which is frequent. The Treasury Department is legally required to report these expenditures to congress. They have not been. Their excuse was that no one knew how to make the reports. Mnuchin has said they will resume regular reporting after the election. While president, Trump has funneled millions of government dollars into his own businesses.
  • During the state of the union speech, the president featured a child he said was in a failing government school and announced a scholarship for her so she could transfer to a better performing school. She already attends a top charter school and her tuition is zero. Her mother did not understand why they had been invited to the speech. He told several other lies during the speech – that Republicans were protecting health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions (they are in court to undo them) and that “hundreds” of buses full of illegal voters were sent to New Hampshire. No evidence supports this. He also said the border wall was being paid for with “redemption from illegal aliens.” That isn’t a thing. He may have meant remittance payments, but that’s also a lie. The wall has mostly been funded by diverting money from other military projects including things like schools for the families of service members.
  • The president tweeted out a video from the Larry David show which he did not understand was mocking Trump supporters. The short clip uses the word “motherfucker” and the word “fuck” appears multiple times. This is an official statement from the United States government. Trump won white evangelicals by sixty-five points.
  • The president again attacked Congresswoman Debbie Dingell for being insufficiently grateful that he “rolled out the maximum ‘Red Carpet'” for her husband’s funeral. As a congressman, John Dingell’s ceremonies were handled by the House of Representatives. Though Trump ordered flags to half-mast, he otherwise had no involvement. He has previously suggested at a rally that John Dingell may be in hell. Trump won white evangelicals by sixty-five points.
  • Prosecutors in the Roger Stone sentencing recommended a stiff sentence of 7-9 years. The president tweeted out this wasn’t fair. The next day the Department of Justice announced they would be revising the recommendation downward. In said revision they site Roger Stone’s age, health, and lack of criminal record. Though never convicted, Stone spent decades conducting illegal activities for Republican politicians. All four lead prosecutors on the case have resigned in protest. Stone was the sixth member of the Trump campaign to be convicted of a felony.


End of Impeachment

After his election, many people assuaged themselves and others about his upcoming tenure by saying the Republicans in Congress would serve as a check against his worst policies.

We were wrong.

They have stood by through nearly every despicable act and statement. They have deferred to executive power instead of addressing the racism of his travel ban. They have responded to his attacks on women and minorities by saying “He has a unique way of communicating” or “I’m very disturbed by what he said” while taking no actions.

They’ve now given him the green light to solicit any election interference he can dream of from foreign governments. He will. They are fighting in the courts to draw maps that gerrymander them into power. It will work. They will take every action they can to suppress the votes of minorities and the poor. They’ll often succeed.

But here’s where there is hope in this darkness.

They are taking all of these actions because they know that over the long term, they have lost this fight.

After Romney’s defeat in 2012 (and he deserves praise for his speech and vote today), the Republicans commissioned a study to find out why they had lost. It was insightful, impartial, and thorough.

The study confirmed many of the normal generalizations levied against the Republican Party – they appeal to white people and not minorities, their immigration stances are unpopular, anti-LBGTQ stances are increasingly unacceptable, they were the party of the rich, etc… It reflects on how rapidly demographics in America are changing and how the Republican Party needed to adapt in order to win going forward.

They reacted instead by electing a racist misogynist who hates immigrants and assaults women.

Rather than adapt their archaic social values, the Republicans reacted to 2012 by doubling down on them. Rather than altering stances to appeal to women and minorities, they’ve decided they will hold on to power by suppressing minority votes, gerrymandering districts, blocking a supreme court justice, and welcoming foreign governments fabricating scandals to help them win elections.

Wait, didn’t you say this was hopeful?

They can only use this tactic for so long.

America is getting less white by the day. We are becoming more religiously diverse. Anti-LBGTQ stances become more of an anathema with each generation.

Their views are literally dying out.

I am not saying this means Donald Trump cannot win. 2020 will be the fight of your life. They are going to cheat. They are going to spread conspiracy theories. They will do everything they can to cling to power.

But they are going to do all of those things because they know they can’t win otherwise.

And there will come a time, perhaps not in 2020 or 2024, but it will come, where their efforts at subverting democracy no longer work. They will be left with their outdated views on women, minorities, and people who aren’t straight/cis and a populace that openly rejects those views.

It’s coming. It’s going to happen. This isn’t hope. It’s math.

You are going to have to work your ass off this year. But do not despair.

We will win this in the end.

Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 1/16/2020

Rachel Maddow concluded her two part interview with Lev Parnas tonight. I will not be including it here. I need to get my notes (pages!) sorted out and will be making a separate entry solely on the interview and the last two Parnas data dumps.

  • The Government Accountability Office released a finding today that withholding Ukraine’s aid package was illegal. The memo places the blame on the president. Their concluding paragraph stated alarm at the refusal of the White House to cooperate with their inquiry.
  • I am normally skeptical of books with insider perspectives from the White House, but Philip Ruicker and Carol Leonnig are highly credible in my opinion. Their new book claims that Trump did not understand the significance of Pearl Harbor, that Trump interrupted an interview with a Secretary of State candidate to ask when he could meet Putin, that Trump wanted Tillerson to help him get rid of the law which prevents US businesses from bribing foreign governments (Trump has publicly said in the past that US businesses should be able to offer such bribes), that Trump suspected that Colbie Holderness (assaulted by White House staffer Rob Porter) may have “purposefully ran into a refrigerator to give herself bruises and try to get money out of Porter,” and that Trump told the Prime Minister of India that his country did not share a border with China. India’s border with China is 2,520 miles long, the 9th longest international border in the world.

Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 1/14/2020

  • The president recently said Saudi Arabia paid $1 billion to the US for us to station troops there. The president for years has argued countries with a US military presence must pay us for the “privilege.” This would turn the US military into a mercenary force. Thankfully, like several of his recent claims about the military, the president was lying.
  • Lev Parnas is the indicted Ukrainian-American who was working for Giuliani on Trump’s shadow foreign policy. Since his arrest Parnas has been publicly lobbying for permission to turn over important materials to congress which was granted. Today, Democrats in the House released some of those documents. Giuliani wrote a letter to the Ukrainian government asking to meet personally with president-elect Zelensky. Giuliani wrote that this was at the president’s request and he was acting as the president’s personal lawyer. Giuliani has publicly said both that he was acting on behalf of the State Department and that he was acting as a personal lawyer. Both can’t be true. But this also removes deniability that Trump had no idea what Giuliani was doing.
  • Parnas took handwritten notes during a phone with Giulani while in Vienna. These notes show Parnas was tasked with getting Zelensky to announce an investigation into the Biden’s to help Trump win the election. They also mention Dmitry Firtash, who is connected to the Russian mafia. The notes talk about “getting rid of (nicely)” Firtash’s lawyer right next to the names of lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova. Indeed, Firtash fired Davis and replaced him with Toensing and diGenova who also worked with Giuliani and informally advised the president. Giuliani told Firtash if he assisted in finding dirt on the Bidens, the State Department could help him with his numerous legal issues.
  • Also from the Parnas documents are text messages from Robert Hyde, a Republican donor and congressional candidate, and Yuriy Lutsenko, a former Ukrainian prosecutor. Mr. Hyde told Parnas he had Ambassador Yovanovich under surveillance, including her electronic devices. He said he knew some people who could help with her for a price. Ambassador Yovanovich was recalled due to unnamed threats. It appears those threats were coming from men working with the president’s lawyer. Lutsenko told Parnas he was working on getting information on the Biden’s but said it was a problem the couldn’t get rid of Yovanivich.
  • Mitch McConnell does not want any of this information being brought up during Trump’s Senate trial.
Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 1/12/2020

  • The narrative over the justification for the assassination of Soleimani has been changing over the past several days. In order to be legal under US law, Soleimani had to present an imminent threat to the United States. Initially, the White House defended the strike by citing things Soleimani had done in the PAST (and mostly before the JPCOA). Several congressmen of both parties said no evidence of an imminent threat came from their briefings on the matter. Then president said in the Oval Office that Soleimani was looking to “blow up an embassy.” Congress was not presented with this information. Later, Trump changed that to FOUR embassies being targeted. The US submitted justification for the strike to the UN. This submission says nothing about a threat to embassies and in fact only mentions past acts. This morning, Defense Secretary Esper admitted he had not seen any intelligence regarding the targeting of four embassies. Our embassies were not alerted to any such threats as procedure would dictate. Trump made this up and likely on the fly. The president is lying about the legal justification for an assassination.
  • Rudy Giuliani, acting as the president’s personal lawyer, is calling on the Supreme Court to end Trump’s impeachment as unconstitutional. He’s parroting a right wing argument that impeachment can only happen over criminal matters. This argument is farcical. Firstly, there were no federal crimes when the Constitution was adopted. Secondly, it’s a deliberate misinterpretation of what “high crimes and misdemeanors” means. “High crimes” refers to the office of the president, not the seriousness of the charges. “Misdemeanors” in this case refers to wrongdoings. The founders wrote extensively on impeachment and what the phrase meant. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, several impeachments without a criminal violation have already happened.
  • The Department of Justice ended its last investigation into Hillary Clinton, finding no wrongdoing. The common Trump campaign of “lock her up” continues to this day despite SIX members of the Trump campaign being convicted of felony crimes.
  • The day Trump learned that Karen McDougal was shopping around the story about the affair she had with Trump, he called David Pecker and The National Enquirer and asked if he could make the story go away. The Enquirer bought the story with the intention of never publishing it, as they had done for several damaging stories on Trump. The president’s lawyer was convicted of a felony over the payment to The Enquirer and directly implicated the president in the crime.
Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 1/6/2020

  • Jason Leopold (Buzzfeed) posted a thread about a few government agencies reaction to Trump’s Tweets. The NSA was instructed not to get involved into the drama. The CIA responded to one of Trump’s Tweets about North Korea, but that response is entirely redacted. These agencies take Trump’s Tweeting very seriously. The Department of Justice has frequently argued in court that Trump’s Tweets are not serious and shouldn’t be viewed as such. That isn’t the stance taken by our own government.
  • CBP yesterday publicly denied that anything had changed in the treatment of Iranian-Americans re-entering the country. However, since the Suleimani assassination, more than sixty Iranian-Americans have been detained in Washington alone while returning to the U.S. The extra questions included asking about political stances and allegiance to the United States.
  • In a rather bizarre experience, Congressman Timmons (he replaced Trey Gowdy in South Carolina) asked a question about impeachment and posted his personal cell phone number. I texted him with the information he asked about. Surprisingly, he responded and we had a cordial disagreement. His Tweet was complaining that the House investigation was partisan and the vote against impeachment was bipartisan. He said these things had not happened before. He’s wrong. Each vote against Clinton had bipartisan support. He eventually told me he meant to refer to the vote FOR impeachment instead of the vote against it. An entire five Democrats voted for the two passed impeachment articles against Clinton. His point, poorly phrased, was that no Republicans voted to impeach Trump. The problem here is that the Republican who said he’d vote to impeach was kicked out of the Republican party. If five Democratic votes for impeaching Clinton made it bipartisan, then Justin Amash voting for impeaching Trump makes it bipartisan.