Sunday, December 22, 2019

CHRISTIANITY TODAY EDITOR SAYS TRUMP IS A WHORE CHASING, ADULTERER, CON MAN, HUCKSTER, PATHOLOGICAL LIAR, GOLFING CHEAT, CHARITY FRAUDSTER AND HUSTLER - BUT DIDN'T THE FOOLS KNOW THAT WHEN THE VOTED AGAINST HILLARY CLINTON?



“Underwood is a Democrat and is seeking millions of dollars in penalties. She wants Trump and his eldest children barred from running other charities.”


Christianity Today Editor: Trump’s ‘Public Morality’ Makes Him ‘Unfit for Office’

2:00

On Sunday’s broadcast of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Christianity Today editor in chief Mark Galli said he wrote the editorial calling for the removal of President Donald Trump because “his public morality that makes him unfit.”
Galli said, “I don’t know, I mean, in one sense, my- my call for his removal was on the order of hyperbole in this regard. The odds of that happening either by election or Senate are actually probably fairly slim at this point. What I’m really arguing in the piece fundamentally is that the president is unfit for office. Now, there is- that may be a difference without- a distinction without a difference. But the point is, and I’m not really speaking politically- making a political judgment about him because that’s not our expertise at Christianity Today. I am making a moral judgment that he is morally unfit, alright. I even more precisely, it’s his public morality that makes him unfit because all of us, anybody in leadership has- none of us are perfect. We’re not looking for saints. We do have private sins, ongoing patterns of behavior that reveal themselves in our- in our private life that we’re all trying to work on. But a president has certain responsibilities as a public figure to display a certain level of public character and public morality. The point of my argument is not to judge him as a person in the- in the- in the eyes of God. That’s not my job. But to judge his moral- his public moral character and- and ask, has he gone so far that the evangelical constituency that we represent, can we in good conscience do the tradeoff anymore?”
He added, “He gives us what we need on pro-life, but he’s got this bad character. And my fundamental argument I’m making is we crossed a line somewhere in the impeachment hearings, at least in my mind, that no- that- that balance no longer works.”
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

“Our entire crony capitalist system, Democrat and Republican alike, has become a kleptocracy approaching par with third-world hell-holes. This is the way a great country is raided by its elite.”
 --- Karen McQuillan  

President Donald Trump speaks to the press before departing the White House in Washington on Nov. 8, 2019. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump: New York AG ‘Deliberately Mischaracterizing’ $2 Million Settlement ‘For Political Purposes’



President Donald Trump accused New York Attorney General Letitia James of “deliberately mischaracterizing” the details of a $2 million settlement reached on Thursday.
New York Judge Saliann Scarpulla ruled that Trump must pay $2 million as part of a settlement he, the Trump Foundation, and James’s office reached in a lawsuit alleging Trump misused his charitable foundation during the 2016 campaign.
Scarpulla said Trump let his campaign hold a foundation fundraiser in January 2016 and used it “to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.”
The foundation received $2.8 million from the fundraiser and the money “did ultimately reach their intended destinations, i.e., charitable organizations supporting veterans,” Scarpulla ruled.
Instead of the entire $2.8 million that James’s office pushed for, Scarpulla ordered Trump to pay $2 million. She also declined a statutory penalty of $5.2 million that James’s office wanted the president to pay.
James celebrated the ruling on Wednesday.
“We’ve secured a court order forcing President Trump to pay $2M in damages after admitting to illegally using the Trump Foundation to help him intervene in the 2016 presidential election and further his own political interests. No one is above the law,” she said in a statement.
In another statement, she wrote, “The court’s decision, together with the settlements we negotiated, are a major victory in our efforts to protect charitable assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal gain. My office will continue to fight for accountability because no one is above the law—not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the President of the United States.”
Scarborough then launched into his own conspiracy theory:
But I think we all will be absolutely fascinated when we finally figure out what Vladimir Putin has on Donald Trump and why Donald Trump has surrendered the Middle East, helped ISIS, helped Iran, helped Russia, helped Turkey, helped all of our enemies and betrayed all of our allies. You know, a lot of people think that it’s – he has compromising pictures or something happened in a hotel in Russia years ago. No. It goes back to money. It’s always about money.

GET THIS BOOK!




Eric Trump on paying contractors: We pay ‘people when they do great jobs’


The Trump Organization has been criticized for stiffing contractors. Contractors have filed hundreds of complaints, which date back to the 1980s, alleging that the real estate company did not pay them.
“We believe in paying people when they do great jobs. And we get people paid incredibly quickly. And we pay contractors,” said Eric Trump, executive vice president of The Trump Organization at Yahoo Finance’s All Market Summit, adding that the organization only refuses to pay contractors who fail to complete a job.
“Yeah, well, they [the unpaid contractors] didn't finish a job. And they didn't do a good job. And they flaked out. And they were two months behind schedule. And so you had to let go of them. And you had to bring somebody else in to do the job that they otherwise would have. And it's called the real world,” he said, referring to the allegations. “People like to take cheap shots at us.”

Opinion: Trump’s emoluments transgressions don’t stop with the Doral fiasco

By NORMAN J. ORNSTEIN

When the White House announced that Donald Trump would host the 2020 Group of Seven meeting at his Doral golf resort in Florida — an in-your-face bit of self-dealing and a blatant violation of the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause — Republicans and Democrats howled. Reporters had only just begun to tally the ways awarding himself a government contract could enrich Trump and the Trump Organization when the president backed down, but not before he publicly decried the “phony” emoluments clause.
The Doral reversal dimmed the spotlight on emoluments, but that should not lead us to drop the focus on the rest of Trump’s self-dealing and conflicts of interest. For strategic reasons, the House of Representatives may not include emoluments transgressions among potential impeachment charges. Nonetheless, the number of Trump’s violations are staggering, and growing by the day.
There are two separate emoluments sections in the Constitution; neither are phony, and both reflect the deep concern the Framers had about possible corruption in the highest offices in the land.
“Emoluments” are anything of value. The first constitutional clause, forbidding any officer of the United States from taking “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever” from a foreign government, is in Article I. It has no loopholes; the Framers feared that a rich foreign government could influence or sway American policy by giving something of value to a policy-maker. It is not limited to the president or vice president, but to all holding an office of trust in the U.S. government.
The second emoluments clause is in Article II and is limited to the president. It reads, “The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.” Here, the fear was that Congress could shake down the president by withholding his salary or bribe him by increasing it, and that a president could use the leverage of his office with states or the federal government to enrich himself.
We have never had occasion in our history to be deeply concerned about violations of these constitutional clauses. Most previous presidents have scrupulously adhered to them in spirit and letter. Jimmy Carter, to pick one example, put his peanut farm in a blind trust to avoid any appearance of conflict or attempt to profit via his office.
Trump, whose chief of staff on Sunday said the president still thought of himself as an innkeeper, has kept ownership of all his properties and has lied about not participating in their operations. He pushed officials at the General Services Administration to allow him to keep his federal lease for his Washington hotel while pressuring the District of Columbia to lower his property taxes. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, holding an office in his administration, has taken valuable trademarks, including, staggeringly, one on voting machines, from China. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, holding an office of trust in the administration, has promoted Trump and Kushner properties and solicited loans from foreign governments.
In other words, the president is unique in his corruption in American history. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has regularly compiled a tally of Trump’s conflicts of interest and violations of the emoluments clauses. The latest numbers are stark: 1,493 trips to Trump properties by government officials, usually spending taxpayer money that will enrich the president; 292 promotions of Trump properties by White House officials; 63 foreign trademarks awarded to Trump brands, mostly from China and Brazil, while he has been president.
The president himself had made 387 trips to his properties, 240 of them to play golf. He regularly does semi-official infomercials for his properties, and he’s told couples considering staging a wedding reception at Mar-a-Lago in Florida or the Trump country club in Bedminster, N.H., that, if they do, he might be available for a photo op. He famously doubled the initiation fee at Mar-a-Lago, to $200,000, when he became president, enabling foreign figures (and others) to gain entrée to the president for a price his businesses collect.
The message has been received: Foreign governments, including Romania, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, moved events from other venues to Trump properties, and foreign countries or other foreign-connected entities have held 13 events at his properties, surely enriching him along the way. (He claims profits from foreigners are repaid to the Treasury; without his tax records, this can’t be checked). One hundred and twenty-one foreign officials from 71 foreign governments have visited his properties; lobbyists of all stripes have scheduled events there. Trump has openly talked about his ventures in places like Saudi Arabia and Turkey even as he has bent American foreign policy in ways that benefit those countries’ autocrats.
The president likes to pretend that there is no such thing as a conflict of interest, that his actions are ”perfect” and “innocent.” But we should not let his lies obscure what are ongoing, direct and outrageous abuses of the Constitution for financial gain by the president and his cronies. The House impeachment hearings are concentrating on other abuses of power, but there is no doubt our Framers would see the emoluments violations as a long series of impeachable and unconscionable offenses.
Norman J. Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His latest book, with Thomas E. Mann and E.J. Dionne Jr., is “One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate and the Not-Yet-Deported.”

Eric Trump’s defense echoes his father’s status quo response.
During the 2016 presidential debate, President Donald Trump said something very similar. “Maybe he didn’t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work,” he said in response to nonpayment accusations.
Eric Trump also noted to Yahoo Finance that The Trump Organization has developed institutional knowledge about getting the best deals with contractors. “In New York, we know what contractors are going to be incredible, what contractors are going to — I won't use a word, but — take advantage of you,” he said. “And, you know, you have that institutional knowledge. You know your way around. You know the language. You know the laws. You know how things are built. You know what kind of foundations work in the ground.”

 ANN COULTER

 TRUMP’S PARASITIC FAMILY
 Jared’s BFF, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Muhammad bin Zayed (MBZ), refer to Jared as “the clown prince.” Bone-cutter MBS assured those around him that he had Jared “in my pocket.” 

Following meetings at the White House and also with the Kushners over their 666 Fifth Avenue property, former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim reported back to the emir that “the people atop the new administration were heavily motivated by personal financial interest.” 

“Truthfully, It Is Tough To Ignore Some Of The Gross Immoral Behavior By The President” WASHINGTON POST

 

Trump's sister quits as a federal judge 10 days into formal probe of her possible role in massive family tax scam that could have ended in her impeachment


·          Trump's older sister resigned as an appellate court judge shortly after a probe opened into her involvement in a family tax scheme
·         
10 days ago an investigation into whether Maryanne Trump Barry violated judicial conduct rules launched
·         
The case was closed after Barry resigned because retired judges are not subject to the rules
·         Barry had not heard a case in two years after transitioning to inactive shortly after Trump's inauguration       
·         The Trump siblings were probed after an investigation found they were involved in a tax scheme related to the transfer of their father's real estate empire 





President Donald Trump’s older sister Maryanne Trump Barry, 82, retired as a federal judge just days after an investigation opened into her possible role in family tax fraud scheme.

Barry was a federal appellate judge in the third district, which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and the investigation could have led to her impeachment.

She had not presided over a case in more than two years, but was still listed as an inactive senior judge in the third district – usually the step taken before full retirement.

Barry did not give any reasons for her retirement. 

The probe into the Trumps was first opened last fall, after a New York Times investigation found the Trump siblings engaged in tax schemes in the 1990s, including fraud, that increased their inherited wealth.
+4
Maryanne Trump Barry resigned as a federal appellate judge 10 days into an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules

An investigation into the Trump siblings opened after the New York Times reported that they transferred their father's real estate assets improperly in the 1990s 
PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES DONALD TRUMP: Pathological liar, swindler, con man, huckster, golfing cheat, charity foundation fraudster, tax evader, adulterer, porn whore chaser and servant of the Saudis dictators

THE TRUMP FAMILY FOUNDATION SLUSH FUND…. Will they see jail?
VISUALIZE REVOLUTION!.... We know where they live!
“Underwood is a Democrat and is seeking millions of dollars in penalties. She wants Trump and his eldest children barred from running other charities.”

WHO IS FINANCING ALL THE TRUMP AND SON-IN-LAW’S REFINANCING SCAMS???
FOLLOW THE MONEY!
"I doubt that Trump understands -- or cares about -- what message he's sending. Wealthy Saudis, including members of the extended royal family, have been his patrons for years, buying his distressed properties when he needed money. In the early 1990s, a Saudi prince purchased Trump's flashy yacht so that the then-struggling businessman could come up with cash to stave off personal bankruptcy, and later, the prince bought a share of the Plaza Hotel, one of Trump's many business deals gone bad. Trump also sold an entire floor of his landmark Trump Tower condominium to the Saudi government in 2001."

“The Wahhabis finance thousands of madrassahs 

throughout the world where young boys are 

brainwashed into becoming fanatical foot-soldiers 

for the petrodollar-flush Saudis and other emirs of 

the Persian Gulf.” AMIL IMANI

  I recommend that Ignatius read Raymond Ibrahim's outstanding book Sword and Scimitar, which contains accounts of dynastic succession in the Muslim monarchies of the Middle East, where standard operating procedure for a new monarch on the death of his father was to strangle all his brothers.  Yes, it's awful.  But it has been happening for a very long time.  And it's not going to change quickly, no matter how outraged we pretend to be. MONICA SHOWALTER

WHAT WILL TRUMP AND HIS PARASITIC FAMILY DO FOR MONEY???

JUST ASK THE SAUDIS!

JOHN DEAN: Not so far. This has been right by the letter of the special counsel’s charter. He’s released the document. What I’m looking for is relief and understanding that there’s no witting or unwitting likelihood that the President is an agent of Russia. That’s when I’ll feel comfortable, and no evidence even hints at that. We don’t have that yet. We’re still in the process of unfolding the report to look at it. And its, as I say, if [Attornery General William Barr] honors his word, we’ll know more soon.

Morning Joe: Trump Is ‘Owned by Putin,’ Head of ‘Criminal Organization’

Listen to the Article!


By Kyle Drennen |
Following a discussion of President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, on Thursday, MSNBC’s Morning Joe went far beyond standard criticism of the controversial foreign policy move and wildly claimed it was proof that Trump was “owned by Putin” and heading up a “criminal organization” that had been “laundering money” for the Russian autocrat for decades.
As the 6:00 a.m. ET hour segment about Syria was wrapping up and co-host Mika Brzezinski was starting to go to a commercial break, left-wing pundit Donny Deutsch interrupted to squeeze in an unfounded conspiratorial rant in which he accused the President of multiple crimes: “Let’s not forget it. This is all about failed casinos. He is owned by Putin because he’s been laundering money, Russian money for the last 20, 30 years. He’s owned by him. That’s what this is.”
Brzezinski voiced her agreement with irresponsible and unsubstantiated attack: “Oh, my lord....Yeah.” 
Deutsch continued his tirade unchallenged:
You talk to any banker in New York, any business person in New York, any real estate person in New York, we have a president that’s selling out our military, that’s costing lives because he is owned by our geopolitical enemy because he’s been laundering money for him as a criminal organization for the last 30 years. That will come out in time.
Co-host Joe Scarborough seemed to offer a small dose of sanity in response: “That is – that is speculation and only speculation right now.” However, he quickly added: “I will say that it is speculation among New York bankers who have loaned Donald Trump money in the past and who have been following his business career for 30, 40 years.” Brzezinski chimed in: “Who know a lot.”
Scarborough then launched into his own conspiracy theory:
But I think we all will be absolutely fascinated when we finally figure out what Vladimir Putin has on Donald Trump and why Donald Trump has surrendered the Middle East, helped ISIS, helped Iran, helped Russia, helped Turkey, helped all of our enemies and betrayed all of our allies. You know, a lot of people think that it’s – he has compromising pictures or something happened in a hotel in Russia years ago. No. It goes back to money. It’s always about money.
He concluded the unhinged discussion by asserting: “And this president is selling not only America, but its most important allies, down the river for money he wants to make either while in office or when he leaves office, period, end of story.”
It’s never enough for the liberal media to simply express a policy disagreement with Trump and say that the U.S. abandoning its Kurdish allies in northern Syria would have a negative outcome. Instead, journalists and pundits must always try to outdo each other to make the most outrageous declarations imaginable to prove their bona fides as members of the resistance.
Here is a full transcript of the October 24 exchange:
6:48 AM ET
DONNY DEUTSCH: Make no mistake, because it’s easy to forget. Let’s not forget it. This is all about failed casinos. He is owned by Putin...

RUSSIA'S PUTIN DECLARES THAT SWAMP KEEPER TRUMP HAS BEEN LAP DANCING ME FOR YEARS!

Morning Joe: Trump Is ‘Owned by Putin,’ Head of ‘Criminal Organization’

Listen to the Article!


By Kyle Drennen |
Following a discussion of President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, on Thursday, MSNBC’s Morning Joe went far beyond standard criticism of the controversial foreign policy move and wildly claimed it was proof that Trump was “owned by Putin” and heading up a “criminal organization” that had been “laundering money” for the Russian autocrat for decades.
As the 6:00 a.m. ET hour segment about Syria was wrapping up and co-host Mika Brzezinski was starting to go to a commercial break, left-wing pundit Donny Deutsch interrupted to squeeze in an unfounded conspiratorial rant in which he accused the President of multiple crimes: “Let’s not forget it. This is all about failed casinos. He is owned by Putin because he’s been laundering money, Russian money for the last 20, 30 years. He’s owned by him. That’s what this is.”
Brzezinski voiced her agreement with irresponsible and unsubstantiated attack: “Oh, my lord....Yeah.” 
Deutsch continued his tirade unchallenged:
You talk to any banker in New York, any business person in New York, any real estate person in New York, we have a president that’s selling out our military, that’s costing lives because he is owned by our geopolitical enemy because he’s been laundering money for him as a criminal organization for the last 30 years. That will come out in time.
Co-host Joe Scarborough seemed to offer a small dose of sanity in response: “That is – that is speculation and only speculation right now.” However, he quickly added: “I will say that it is speculation among New York bankers who have loaned Donald Trump money in the past and who have been following his business career for 30, 40 years.” Brzezinski chimed in: “Who know a lot.”
Scarborough then launched into his own conspiracy theory:
But I think we all will be absolutely fascinated when we finally figure out what Vladimir Putin has on Donald Trump and why Donald Trump has surrendered the Middle East, helped ISIS, helped Iran, helped Russia, helped Turkey, helped all of our enemies and betrayed all of our allies. You know, a lot of people think that it’s – he has compromising pictures or something happened in a hotel in Russia years ago. No. It goes back to money. It’s always about money.
He concluded the unhinged discussion by asserting: “And this president is selling not only America, but its most important allies, down the river for money he wants to make either while in office or when he leaves office, period, end of story.”
It’s never enough for the liberal media to simply express a policy disagreement with Trump and say that the U.S. abandoning its Kurdish allies in northern Syria would have a negative outcome. Instead, journalists and pundits must always try to outdo each other to make the most outrageous declarations imaginable to prove their bona fides as members of the resistance.
Here is a full transcript of the October 24 exchange:
6:48 AM ET
DONNY DEUTSCH: Make no mistake, because it’s easy to forget. Let’s not forget it. This is all about failed casinos. He is owned by Putin...

Trump Believed Ukraine Conspiracy Because ‘Putin Told Me’


Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
President Trump has fixated on a theory that Ukraine stole Democratic emails in 2016 and framed Russia for the crime. The Washington Post reports that Trump told a former senior White House official that he believed Ukraine stole the emails because “Putin told me.”
The Post’s explosive report adds to an extensive body of evidence showing the degree to which Vladimir Putin has influenced Trump’s thinking. Trump is not a Russian agent, but he is a man whose thinking has obviously been heavily influenced by Russian sources. It is difficult if not impossible to find another Republican official at any level who believes, like Trump, that Montenegro is an aggressive country that might attack Russia or that the Soviets were forced to invade Afghanistan as a defense against terrorist attacks.
The Ukraine-server theory has gained somewhat wider currency in Republican circles, in large part because of Trump. The Mueller investigation found that Paul Manafort — the Trump campaign manager who had previously been hired by a Russian oligarch to help a pro-Russian presidential candidate in Ukraine — had suggested even during the campaign that Ukraine had stolen the emails to blame Russia. Manafort was working at the time alongside Konstantin Kilimnik, whom U.S. intelligence considers a Russian intelligence asset.
The Post reports that Trump’s advisers desperately tried to figure out the source of his belief that Ukraine had stolen the emails. They believed Putin shared this theory during his 2017 meeting in Hamburg and/or at a subsequent meeting in Helsinki, both of which took place without other American officials present. (After the second encounter, Trump confiscated notes from a translator.)
“The strong belief in the White House was that Putin told him,” one former official tells the Post. The paper also reports that “Trump repeatedly told one senior official that the Russian president said Ukraine sought to undermine him.”
Trump’s impeachment has focused primarily on his demand for an investigation of his political rival. But Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine began as an effort to vindicate the conspiracy theory that Putin had apparently persuaded Trump to believe. Trump asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to locate the server the Russians claimed Ukrainians had smuggled away and hid.
More important, Trump allegedly directed the activities of Lev Parnas, a partner of Rudy Giuliani. Parnas was paid a million dollars by a notorious Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin. On behalf of Parnas’s company, a Republican donor paid Giuliani, who represented Trump for “free.” And Giuliani, astonishingly, is still at it. After returning from another trip to Ukraine, where he met with a series of notorious Russian-allied figures, Giuliani has made his case on conservative network OANN and met with Trump, who in turn vouched for him and his work.
Proving criminal conspiracies in court is hard — especially when some of the suspects reside in a hostile foreign country, and even more so when the investigation’s principal subject has the power to pardon witnesses who withhold cooperation. The Mueller investigation failed to establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump and Russia, but Trump is working to spread Russian-originated propaganda and he handed this work off to figures who were paid by Putin allies. Whether you describe this relationship as a conspiracy or simply an alliance, it is very much ongoing.


A new Gilded Age has emerged in America — a 21st century version

The wealth of the top 1% of Americans has grown dramatically in the past four decades, squeezing both the middle class and the poor. This is in sharp contrast to Europe and Asia, where the wealth of the 1% has grown at a more constrained pace.

What We Know About Trump Going Into 2020
By Adrew Sullivan
Photo: ERIN SCOTT/Bloomberg via Getty Images
There is merit, at times, to thinking about what might have been. Counterfactual history can help us see what our factual history has actually told us.
So reflect for a second on the campaign of 2016. One Republican candidate channeled the actual grievances and anxieties of many Americans, while the others kept up their zombie politics and economics. One candidate was prepared to say that the Iraq War was a catastrophe, that mass immigration needed to be controlled, that globalized free trade was devastating communities and industries, that we needed serious investment in infrastructure, that Reaganomics was way out of date, and that half the country was stagnating and in crisis.
That was Trump. In many ways, he deserves credit for this wake-up call. And if he had built on this platform and crafted a presidential agenda that might have expanded its appeal and broadened its base, he would be basking in high popularity and be a shoo-in for reelection. If, in a resilient period of growth, his first agenda item had been a major infrastructure bill and he’d combined it with tax relief for the middle and working classes, he could have crafted a new conservative coalition that might have endured. If he could have conceded for a millisecond that he was a newbie and that he would make mistakes, he would have been forgiven for much. A touch of magnanimity would have worked wonders. For that matter, if Trump were to concede, even now, that his phone call with President Zelensky of Ukraine went over the line and he now understands this, we would be in a different world.
The two core lessons of the past few years are therefore: (1) Trumpism has a real base of support in the country with needs that must be addressed, and (2) Donald Trump is incapable of doing it and is such an unstable, malignant, destructive narcissist that he threatens our entire system of government. The reason this impeachment feels so awful is that it requires removing a figure to whom so many are so deeply bonded because he was the first politician to hear them in decades. It feels to them like impeachment is another insult from the political elite, added to the injury of the 21st century. They take it personally, which is why their emotions have flooded their brains. And this is understandable.
But when you think of what might have been and reflect on what has happened, it is crystal clear that this impeachment is not about the Trump agenda or a more coherent version of it. It is about the character of one man: his decision to forgo any outreach, poison domestic politics, marinate it in deranged invective, betray his followers by enriching the plutocracy, destroy the dignity of the office of president, and turn his position into a means of self-enrichment. It’s about the personal abuse of public office: using the presidency’s powers to blackmail a foreign entity into interfering in a domestic election on his behalf, turning the Department of Justice into an instrument of personal vengeance and political defense, openly obstructing investigations into his own campaign, and treating the grave matter of impeachment as a “hoax” while barring any testimony from his own people.
Character matters. This has always been a conservative principle but one that, like so many others, has been tossed aside in the convulsions of a cult. And it is Trump’s character alone that has brought us to this point. That’s why the editorial in the Evangelical journal Christianity Today is so clarifying. Finally — finally — an Evangelical outlet telling the truth in simple language:
[President Trump] has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone — with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders — is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused … To the many Evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve.
It is this profound immorality that made this week inevitable. Yes, inevitable. Put a man of this sort — utterly unprepared, utterly corrupt, and with no political or governing experience at all — into the Oval Office, and impeachment, if there is any life left in our democracy, is inevitable.
Yes, some partisan Democrats were out to destroy him from the very beginning and have merely been seeking a pretext ever since. Yes, some have overreached in their Russia fixation. And I’m not going to deny the troubling facts outlined in the Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s dangerously sloppy FISA requests when the Russia question first emerged in summer 2016. These are parts of the truth that demand inquiry and reflection. But they are largely irrelevant to the question in front of us.
The impeachment was inevitable because this president is so profoundly and uniquely unfit for the office he holds, so contemptuous of the constitutional democracy he took an oath to defend, and so corrupt in his core character that a crisis in the conflict between him and the rule of law was simply a matter of time. When you add to this a clear psychological deformation that can produce the astonishing, deluded letter he released this week in his own defense or the manic performance at his Michigan rally Wednesday night, it is staggering that it has taken this long. The man is clinically unwell, preternaturally corrupt, and instinctively hostile to the rule of law. In any other position, in any other field of life, he would have been fired years ago and urged to seek medical attention with respect to his mental health.
I fear the consequences of impeachment. I fear the resentment it might stir up, the divides it could deepen, the rancor it will unleash. But I fear more profoundly the consequences of not impeaching. And there is something clarifying — something that pierces the strongman atmosphere that now dominates Washington — about the sheer fact of it. We live in a republic whose forms have not completely degenerated into meaninglessness. Despite near-insane attempts to describe a constitutional process as a “coup,” despite senior senators declaring they will violate their oath to be an impartial juror in the forthcoming trial, despite machinations from Mitch McConnell that he intends to turn the trial into a damp squib, the Constitution’s mechanisms just worked. We now need to believe in these mechanisms, in the cooling process of constitutional norms, which are now in operation. The Speaker should not step on her own smart strategy and play games with the articles of impeachment. Send them to the Senate now. Then hold the Senate responsible for what it does with them.
And enough of the world-weary cynicism that all of this is futile! It is, in fact, deeply regenerative of the norms of accountability that we have allowed to erode too easily for too long. A Senate trial could further illuminate the damning fact pattern. Around 50 percent of the public already backs this process. Some Republican senators may wish to behave according to the Constitution and the rule of law — and if that gives us a small majority for impeachment, if nowhere near enough to remove him, that helps cauterize this experiment in one-man rule for the record. An already-impeached president may have more of an uphill fight to get reelected. There are glimmers of hope still around.
We can’t know the future. But we can know our duty. The only way past this is through it. And this is not a depressing truth. We can keep this republic. We can isolate this presidency as a cautionary tale. We can refuse to be gaslit. We can become Americans again — in the restless, querulous refusal to be any tyrant’s plaything and any con man’s mark.




White House official ordered aid to Ukraine be withheld 90 minutes after Trump call with Ukraine president, documents show









News headlines today: Dec. 20, 2019



White House officials requested that aid to Ukraine be held within 90 minutes of President Donald Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to newly obtained documents.
While the Trump administration has yet to release a single document subpoenaed by Congress during its impeachment inquiry of the president, the administration was forced to hand over a second round of communications between two government offices that helped withhold $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.
According to a rough transcript released by the White House, the July 25 call between Trump and Zelenskiy took place between 9:03 and 9:33 a.m.
At 11:04 a.m., an official with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mike Duffey, sent an email to Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist, the chief of staff to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Pentagon's chief financial officer telling them to withhold the aid to Ukraine, the documents showed.
"Based on guidance I have received and in light of the Administration’s plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process," the email from Duffey said, according to the documents.
"Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute direction," Duffey's email stated.
The documents, obtained Friday by the Center for Public Integrity via an order by a federal judge as part of a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Defense (DoD) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB), were heavily redacted.
"This new round of documents isn’t enough," Susan Smith Richardson, CEO of Public Integrity, said in a statement Saturday. "But they do reveal how quickly the White House moved to cut off military aid to Ukraine."
The White House declined to comment on these documents on Sunday.
The documents also show that President Trump first started inquiring about the aid as early as June, one month before the call, though the decision wasn't revealed until a July 18 meeting between the OMB and other officials that the White House had decided to withhold the Ukraine aid. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the move was at the direction of the president.
"The president has asked about this funding release," Duffey emailed DoD deputy comptroller Elaine McCusker on June 19, just one day after DoD first publicly announced the funding. Duffey included a link to a news article about the announcement, suggesting it was the source of the president's renewed interest. "I have been tasked to follow-up with someone over there to get more details," Duffey continues. "Do you have insight on this funding?"
In another email chain a week later, titled "POTUS follow up," Eric Chewning, a DoD official, continued the search for more specifics on behalf of the president. "What was the funding used for?....who funded it? What do other NATO members spend to support Ukraine," he asked.



PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks before signing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Dec. 20, 2019, before traveling to Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (Andrew Harnik/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks before signing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Dec. 20, 2019, before traveling to Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (Andrew Harnik/AP, FILE)

OMB head Mark Sandy had previously recalled a similar exchange in his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. "I heard the president had seen a media report, and he had questions about the assistance," Sandy told the committee. He testified it was Duffey who first communicated the president's concerns to him on June 19.
The almost $400 million of military assistance was ultimately held up before Trump's infamous call with Zelenskiy, the contents of which were used as key evidence in the investigation into whether Trump withheld aid in an attempt to pressure Zelenskiy into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
The possibility of a hold up when it was announced on July 18 immediately sparked confusion and concerns from National Security Council officials and diplomats. This prompted a series of NSC-led inter-agency meetings, during which officials came to a unanimous conclusion that the security assistance should be resumed, according to several witnesses' testimony in the House impeachment inquiry.
The emails released Friday echo those concerns among OMB officials right after the July 25 call and reveal an almost immediate effort to involve legal counsel in the process.
"Please share with your [Office of General Counsel] and advise of any concerns today," Sandy asked McCusker just hours after the call. There is no McCusker response in the documents released, though it is clear that lawyers from both offices corresponded on the topic. "I understand our respective OGC's connected this afternoon," Sandy wrote. "I need to complete the apportionment this afternoon, so please let me know if you want to discuss before I transmit soon."
As the officials involved their lawyers, they also seem to have engaged in an effort to prevent the information from leaking. "Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute the direction," Duffey wrote to several OMB and DoD officials the same day of the call.
This effort could be seen as a violation of the Impoundment Control Act-- a law which states that Congress must be alerted and approve of any shift in funds they have already appropriated-- if the intention was to keep the information "closely held" from Congress, according to Public Integrity.
Ultimately, the officials shared a sense of relief once the funds were released on Sept. 11, which they seemed to have thought would have put an end to the situation entirely.
Duffey told McCusker he was "glad to have this behind [them]" just before he signed the apportionment on Sept. 11.
Edna Falk Curtin, another OMB official, expressed a similar sentiment. "Hope this is good news," she wrote.
ABC News' John Santucci contributed to this report.


The Lessons of Theodore Roosevelt

To get out of our Second Gilded Age, look no further than how we got out of the first one.
September 6, 2019
Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons
We’ve been rocked by scandals over the past year involving the nation’s most wealthy and powerful. We’ve learned that a twisted multimillionaire allegedly procured and raped girls in his Manhattan mansion and on his private Caribbean Island; entitled celebrities and corporate plutocrats paid millions of dollars in bribes to get their kids into elite universities; pillars of the Hollywood and media establishments have used their stature to sexually prey upon underlings; and, yes, our president was caught lying about possibly violating campaign finance laws with hush money payoffs to a porn star and Playboy bunny.
This moral corruption is accompanied by the regressive government policies of a scandal-stained administration. President Donald Trump is rolling back programs that protect consumers, voting rights, the environment, and competitive commerce faster than Congress can issue subpoenas. His cabinet includes 17 millionaires, two centimillionaires, and one billionaire with a combined worth of $3.2 billion, according to Forbes. He presides over the most corrupt administration in American history, one marked by nepotism and self-dealing. His so-called “A Team” of senior officials has undergone a record 75 percent turnover since he took office—most of whom resigned under pressure, often caught up in scandal.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose net worth is estimated at $600 million, reflected the arrogance and empathy deficit that typifies the Trump White House during last winter’s record-long government shutdown. He suggested that federal workers just take out loans until they got paid.
But nobody tops the swamp king, Trump himself. Forget the sleaze, forget the obstruction of justice, forget the constant dissing of Congress. His defying the Constitution’s emoluments clause alone would, in a normally functioning American democracy, make him the subject of impeachment. Instead, he flouts the rules as if they don’t apply to him. If he gets his way and hosts next year’s G-7 summit at Mar-a-Lago, we may as well send the Constitution to the shredder. And yet, as more recent controversies have shown us, including the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal and Jeffery Epstein’s sex trafficking racket, this kind of indifference to moral values is not confined to government grandees.
So, what gives? Is America drowning in a marsh of unchecked corruption and entitlement brought on by latter-day Louis XVI’s and Marie Antoinettes? Are the uber-wealthy out of control? There’s something rotten in America and, if we don’t fix it soon, we invite a new wave of national decline and social disintegration.
The good news is that we have faced similar challenges before. Some prescriptions from a previous era may provide a lodestar for a future Democratic president to steer the country in the right direction. As Mark Twain, who coined the term “the Gilded Age,” once said, “The external glitter of wealth conceals a corrupt political core that reflects the growing gap between the very few rich and the very many poor.” He was talking about the original Gilded Age, but that diagnosis could just as easily apply to our current American condition.
The first Gilded Age was marked by rapid economic growth, massive immigration, political corruption, and a high concentration of wealth in which the richest one percent owned 51 percent of property, while the bottom 44 percent had a mere one percent. The oligarchs at the top were popularly known as “robber barons.”
Theodore Roosevelt, who was president at the time, understood that economic inequality itself becomes a driver of a dysfunctional political system that benefits the wealthy but few others. As he once famously warned, “There can be no real political democracy unless there is something approaching economic democracy.”
His response to the inequities of his times, which came to define the Progressive Era, have much to teach us now about how to sensibly tackle economic inequality. It’s worthwhile to closely examine the Rooseveltian playbook. For instance, his “Square Deal” made bold changes in the American workplace, government regulation of industry, and consumer protection. These reforms included mandating safer conditions for miners and eliminating the spoils system in federal hiring; bringing forty-four antitrust suits against big business, resulting in the breakup of the largest railroad monopoly, and regulation of the nation’s largest oil company; and passing the Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Act, which created the FDA. He prosecuted more than twice as many antitrust suits against monopolistic businesses than his three predecessors combined, curbing the robber barons’ power. And he relentlessly cleaned up corruption in the federal government. One-hundred-forty-six indictments were brought against a bribery ring involving public timberlands, culminating in the conviction and imprisonment of a U.S. senator, and forty-four Postal Department employees were charged with fraud and bribery.
Now, we are in a Second Gilded Age, facing many of the same problems, and, in some ways, to an even greater degree. The gap between the rich and everyone else is even greater than it was during the late 19th Century, when the richest two percent of Americans owned more than a third of the nation’s wealth. Today, the top one percent owns almost 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, or more than the bottom 90 percent combined, according to the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research. The first Gilded Age saw the rise of hyper-rich dynastic families, such as the Rockefellers, Mellons, Carnegies, and DuPonts. Today, three individuals—Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett—own more wealth than the bottom half of the country combined. And three families—the Waltons, the Kochs, and the Mars—have enjoyed a nearly 6,000 percent rise in wealth since Ronald Reagan took the oath as president, while median U.S. household wealth over the same period has declined by three percent.
The consequences of this wealth gap are dire. Steve Brill explains in his book Tailspin that, by manipulating the tax and legal systems to their benefit, America’s most educated elite, the so-called meritocracy, have built a moat that excludes the working poor, limiting their upward mobility and increasing their sense of alienation, which then gives rise to the populist streak that allowed politicians like Trump to captivate enough of the American electorate.
Similarly, psychologist Dacher Keltner’s research shows that power in and of itself is a corrupting force. As he documents in The Power Paradox, powerful people lie more, drive more aggressively, are more likely to cheat on their spouses, act abusively toward subordinates, and even take candy from children. Too often, they simply do not respect the rules.
For example, in monitoring an urban traffic intersection, Keltner found that drivers of the least expensive vehicles virtually always yielded to pedestrians, whereas drivers of luxury cars yielded only about half of the time. He cites surveys covering 27 countries that show that rich people are more likely to admit that it’s acceptable to engage in unethical behavior, such as accepting bribes or cheating on taxes.“The experience of power might be thought of as having someone open up your skull and take out that part of your brain so critical to empathy and socially appropriate behavior,” says Keltner.
That’s why we need to reform our political system if we are to survive the rampant amorality and lawlessness of the Second Gilded Age. Simply put, so very few should not wield so much sway over so many.
One of the first priorities of an incoming administration should be to narrow the wealth and income gap. French economist Thomas Picketty favors a progressive annual wealth tax of up to two percent, along with a progressive income tax as high as 80 percent on the biggest earners to reduce inequality and avoid reverting to “patrimonial capitalism” in which inherited wealth controls much of the economy and could lead essentially to oligarchy.
The leading 2020 Democratic candidates favor raising taxes, as well. Elizabeth Warren has proposed something commensurate to Picketty’s two percent wealth tax for those worth more than $50 million, and a three percent annual tax on individuals with a net worth higher than $1 billion. She has also proposed closing corporate tax loopholes. Joe Biden wants to restore the top individual income tax rate to a pre-Trump 39.6 percent and raise capital gains taxes. Bernie Sanders has proposed an estate tax on the wealth of the top 0.2 percent of Americans.
Following Theodore Roosevelt’s example, we need to aggressively root out the tangle of corruption brought on by Trump and his minions. This has already begun with multiple and expanding investigations led by House Democrats into the metastasizing malfeasance within the Trump administration. Trump’s successor, however, should work with Congress to appoint a bipartisan anti-corruption task force to oversee prosecutions and draw up reform legislation to prevent future abuses.
“Of all forms of tyranny, the least attractive and the most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth, the tyranny of a plutocracy,” Roosevelt once warned. The free market has made America the great success it is today. But history has shown that unconstrained capitalism and a growing wealth gap leads to an unhealthy concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. When the gap between the haves and the have-nots goes unchecked, populism takes hold, leading to the election of dangerous demagogues like Trump, and the disastrous politics they bring with them. It is not too late to reverse course. But first, we need to re-learn the lessons from our first Gilded Age if we are going to get out of the current one.

 

This Is No Ordinary Impeachment

By Andrew Sullivan

This is not just an impeachment. It’s the endgame for Trump’s relentless assault on the institutions, norms, and practices of America’s liberal democracy for the past three years. It’s also a deeper reckoning. It’s about whether the legitimacy of our entire system can last much longer without this man being removed from office.

I’m talking about what political scientists call “regime cleavage” — a decline in democratic life so severe the country’s very institutions could lose legitimacy as a result of it. It is described by one political scientist as follows: “a division within the population marked by conflict about the foundations of the governing system itself — in the American case, our constitutional democracy. In societies facing a regime cleavage, a growing number of citizens and officials believe that norms, institutions, and laws may be ignored, subverted, or replaced.” A full-on regime cleavage is, indeed, an extinction-level event for our liberal democratic system. And it is one precipitated by the man who is supposed to be the guardian of that system, the president.

Let us count the ways in which Trump has attacked and undermined the core legitimacy of our democracy. He is the only candidate in American history who refused to say that he would abide by the results of the vote. Even after winning the 2016 election, he still claimed that “millions” of voters — undocumented aliens — perpetrated massive electoral fraud in the last election, and voted for his opponent. He has repeatedly and publicly toyed with the idea that he could violate the 22nd Amendment, and get elected for three terms, or more.

He consistently described a perfectly defensible inquiry into Russia’s role in the 2016 election as a “witch hunt” and a “hoax,” demonizing Robert Mueller, even as Mueller, in the end, couldn’t find evidence to support the idea of a conspiracy with Russia (perhaps in part because Trump ordered no cooperation, and refused to testify under oath). Trump then withheld release of the full report, while his pliant attorney general distorted its content and wrongly proclaimed that Trump had been entirely exonerated.

In the current scandal over Ukraine, Trump is insisting that he did “nothing wrong” in demanding that Ukraine announce investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden, or forfeit desperately needed military aid. If that is the president’s position — that he can constitutionally ask any other country to intervene on his behalf in a U.S. election — it represents a view of executive power that is the equivalent of a mob boss’s. It is best summed up in Trump’s own words: Article 2 of the Constitution permits him to do “anything I want.”

We have become so used to these attacks on our constitutional order that we fail to be shocked by Trump’s insistence that a constitutional impeachment inquiry is a “coup.” By any measure, this is an extraordinary statement, and itself an impeachable offense as a form of “contempt for Congress.” We barely blink anymore when a president refuses to cooperate in any way, demands his underlings refuse to testify and break the law by flouting subpoenas, threatens to out the first whistle-blower’s identity (in violation of the law), or assaults and tries to intimidate witnesses, like Colonel Alexander Vindman.

He seems to think in the Ukraine context that “l’état c’est moi” is the core American truth, rather than a French monarch’s claims to absolute power. He believes in the kind of executive power the Founders designed the U.S. Constitution to prevent. It therefore did not occur to Trump that blackmailing a foreign country to investigate his political opponents is a classic abuse of power, because he is incapable of viewing his own interests and the interests of the United States as in any way distinct. But it is a core premise of our liberal democracy that the powers of the presidency are merely on loan, and that using them to advance a personal interest is a definition of an abuse of power.

There are valid criticisms and defenses of Trump’s policy choices, but his policies are irrelevant for an impeachment. I actually support a humane crackdown on undocumented immigration, a tougher trade stance toward China, and an attempt, at least, to end America’s endless wars. But what matters, and what makes this such a vital moment in American history, is that it has nothing to do with policy. This is simply about Trump’s abuse of power.

He lies and misleads the American public constantly, in an outright attempt to so confuse Americans that they forget or reject the concept of truth altogether. Lies are part of politics, but we have never before seen such a fire hose of often contradictory or inflammatory bald-faced lies from the Oval Office. He has obstructed justice countless times, by witness tampering, forbidding his subordinates from complying with legal subpoenas, and by “using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct” both the Mueller and now the Ukraine investigations. (I quote from Article 1 of Nixon’s impeachment.) Trump has also “failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives … and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas.” (I quote from Article III of Nixon’s impeachment.) He has declared legal processes illegitimate if they interfere with or constrain his whims and impulses.

This is not just another kind of presidency; it is a rolling and potentially irreversible assault on the legitimacy of the American regime. If the CIA finds something that could reflect poorly on him, then the CIA is part of the “deep state coup.” Ditto the FBI and the State Department. These are not old-fashioned battles with a bureaucracy over policy; that’s fine. They are assaults on the legitimacy of the bureaucracy, and the laws they are required to uphold. These are definitional impeachable offenses, and they are part and parcel of Trump’s abuse of power from the day he was elected.

And most important of all, Trump has turned the GOP — one of our two major parties with a long and distinguished history — into an accomplice in his crimes. Senator Lindsey Graham, perhaps the most contemptible figure of the last couple of years, even says he will not read witness transcripts or follow the proceedings in the House or consider the evidence in a legal impeachment inquiry, because he regards the whole impeachment process as “BS” and a “sham.” This is a senator calling the constitutional right of the House of Representatives to impeach a president illegitimate.

And the GOP as a whole has consistently backed Trump rather than the Constitution. Sixty-two percent of Republican supporters have said that there is nothing Trump could do, no crime or war crime, no high crime or misdemeanor, that would lead them to vote against him in 2020. There is only one way to describe this, and that is a cult, completely resistant to reason or debate. The tribalism is so deep that Trump seems incapable of dropping below 40 percent in the national polls, and is competitive in many swing states. The cult is so strong that Trump feels invulnerable. If Trump survives impeachment, and loses the 2020 election, he may declare it another coup, rigged, and illegitimate. He may refuse to concede. And it is possible the GOP will follow his lead. That this is even thinkable reveals the full extent of our constitutional rot.

Trump has fast-forwarded “regime cleavage.” He is appealing to the people to render him immune from constitutional constraints imposed by the representatives of the people. He has opened up not a divide between right and left so much as a divide over whether the American system of government is legitimate or illegitimate. And that is why I don’t want to defeat Trump in an election, because that would suggest that his assault on the truth, on the Constitution, and on the rule of law is just a set of policy decisions that we can, in time, reject. It creates a precedent for future presidents to assault the legitimacy of the American government, constrained only by their ability to win the next election. In fact, the only proper constitutional response to this abuse of executive power is impeachment. I know I’ve said this before. But on the eve of public hearings, it is vital to remember it.

None of this presidential behavior is tolerable. If the Senate exonerates Trump, it will not just enable the most lawless president in our history to even greater abuses. It will deepen the regime cleavage even further. It will cast into doubt the fairness of the upcoming election. It will foment the conspiracy theory that our current laws and institutions are manifestations of a “deep state” engineering a “coup.” It will prove that a president can indeed abuse his power for his personal advantage without consequence; and it will set a precedent that fundamentally changes the American system from a liberal democracy to a form of elected monarchy, above the other two branches of government.

I wish there were another way forward. But there isn’t. And this, though a moment of great danger, also contains the glimmers of renewal. Removing this petty, shabby tyrant from office goes a long way to restoring and resetting the Constitution as a limit on power and a guarantee against its wanton future abuse. It must be done. With speed, with vigor, and with determination.

 

 

Is Trump the Worst President in History?


by Richard Striner
Richard Striner, a professor of history at Washington College, is the author of many books including Father Abraham: Lincoln’s Relentless Struggle to End Slavery and Lincoln’s Way: How Six Great Presidents Created American Power. 
As the chance of getting rid of Donald Trump — through impeachment or by voting him out — continues to dominate the headlines, the historical challenge is compelling.  No president has been a greater threat to the qualities that make the United States of America worthy (at its best) of our allegiance. 
The rise of Trump and his movement was so freakish that historians will analyze its nature for a long time.  From his origins as a real estate hustler, this exhibitionist sought attention as a TV vulgarian.  Susceptible television viewers found his coarse behavior amusing. Then he announced that he was running for the presidency and it looked for a while like just another cheap publicity stunt. 
But his name-calling tactics struck a chord with a certain group of voters.   Our American scene began to darken.  Before long, he was hurling such vicious abuse that it ushered in a politics of rage. As his egomania developed into full megalomania, the “alt-right” gravitated toward him. 
The “movement” had started. 
More and more, to the horror of everyone with power to see and understand, he showed a proto-fascist mentality.  So alarms began to spread: mental health professionals warned that he exemplifies “malignant narcissism.” 
Never before in American history has the presidential office passed into the hands of a seditionist.  And the use of this term is appropriate.  With no conception of principles or limits — “I want” is his political creed —he mocks the rule of law at every turn.
At a police convention in 2017, he urged the officers in attendance to ignore their own regulations and brutalize the people they arrest.  He pardoned ex-Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt of court.  He appointed Scott Pruitt to head the EPA so he could wreck the agency and let polluters have the spree of their lives. 
Trump is fascinated by powerful dictators with little regard to human rights or democracy. He compliments Vladimir Putin and hopes to invite that murderer to stay in the White House.  He likes Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, a tyrant who subverts that nation’s democracy. 
So, Trump certainly has the personality of a fascist.  But he is not quite as dangerous as other authoritarians in history. 
In the first place, he lacks the fanatical vision that drove the great tyrants like Hitler and Stalin to pursue their sick versions of utopia.  He is nothing but a grubby opportunist.  He has no ideas, only appetites.   The themes that pass for ideas in the mind of Donald Trump begin as prompts that are fed to him by others — Stephen Miller, Sean Hannity, and (once upon a time) Steve Bannon. To be sure, he would fit right in among the despots who tyrannize banana-republics.  But that sort of a political outcome in America is hard to envision at the moment. 
Second, American traditions — though our current crisis shows some very deep flaws in our constitutional system — are strong enough to place a limit on the damage Trump can do.  If he ordered troops to occupy the Capitol, disperse the members of Congress, and impose martial law, the chance that commanders or troops would carry out such orders is nil. 
Third, Americans have faced challenges before. Many say he is our very worst president — bar none.  And how tempting it is to agree.  But a short while ago, people said the same thing about George W. Bush, who of course looks exemplary now when compared to our presidential incumbent. 
The “worst president.” 
“Worst,” of course, is a value judgment that is totally dependent on our standards for determining “badness.”  And any number of our presidents were very bad indeed — or so it could be argued. 
Take Andrew Jackson, with his belligerence, his simple-mindedness, his racism as reflected in the Indian Removal Act of 1830.  Take all the pro-slavery presidents before the Civil War who tried to make the enslavement of American blacks perpetual:  John Tyler, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan. Take James K. Polk and his squalid war of aggression against Mexico.  Take Andrew Johnson, who did everything he could to ruin the lives of the newly-freed blacks after Lincoln’s murder. 
The list could go on indefinitely, depending on our individual standards for identifying “badness.”  Shall we continue?  Consider Ulysses S. Grant and Warren G. Harding, so clueless in regard to the comparatively easy challenge of preventing corruption among their associates.  Or consider Grover Cleveland and Herbert Hoover, who blinded themselves to the desperation of millions in economic depressions.  And Richard Nixon, the only president to date who has resigned the office in disgrace. 
Which brings us to Trump. 
However incompetent or even malevolent some previous American presidents were, this one is unique. The Trump presidency is a singular aberration, a defacement of norms and ideals without precedent.  However bad some other presidents were all of them felt a certain basic obligation to maintain at least a semblance of dignity and propriety in their actions. 
Not Trump. 
Foul beyond words, he lurches from one brutal whim to another, seeking gratification in his never-ending quest to humiliate others. He spews insults in every direction all day.  He makes fun of the handicapped.  He discredits journalists in order to boost the credibility of crackpots and psychopathic bigots.  He accuses reporters of creating “fake news” so he can generate fake news himself: spew a daily torrent of hallucinatory lies to his gullible followers. 
He amuses himself — with the help of his money and the shyster lawyers that it pays for — in getting away with a lifetime’s worth of compulsive frauds that might very well lead to prosecutions (later) if the evidence has not been destroyed and if the statute of limitations has not expired. 
So far, however, he is always too brazen to get what he deserves, too slippery for anyone to foil.   
Anyone with half of ounce of decency can see this wretched man for what he is.  They know what’s going on, and yet there’s nothing they can do to make it stop.  And that adds to Trump’s dirty satisfaction. Any chance to out-maneuver the decent — to infuriate them — quickens his glee.  It makes his victory all the more rotten, incites him to keep on taunting his victims.   
It’s all a big joke to Donald Trump, and he can never, ever, get enough of it.  
The question must be asked:  when in our lifetimes — when in all the years that our once-inspiring Republic has existed — have American institutions been subjected to such treatment?  How long can American morale and cohesion survive this? 
Nancy Pelosi has said that in preference to seeing Trump impeached, she would like to see him in jail.  Current Justice Department policy — which forbids the indictment of presidents — makes it possible for Trump to break our nation’s laws with impunity.  Impeachment is useless if the Senate’s Republicans, united in their ruthlessness and denial, take the coward’s way out. 
So the prospect of locking him up may have to wait.  But the day of reckoning for this fake — this imposter who will never have a glimmer of clue as to how to measure up to his office — may come in due time.  Then the presidential fake who accuses his victims of fakery will live with some things that are real:  stone walls, iron bars, a nice prison haircut, and the consequences of his actions.

Field of Anonymous Trump Donors Getting Crowded

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WASHINGTON -- Last year, when a "senior administration official" wrote an anonymous New York Times opinion piece -- "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration" -- the unknown author's essay prompted praise and approbation.
Now, we learn, it has spawned a book.
"The dilemma -- which (Trump) does not fully grasp," Anonymous wrote in September 2018, "is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. I would know. I am one of them."
Critics on the right called the author a coward for penning a piece under the cloak of anonymity. Critics on the left pounced on the author's failure to openly denounce Trump -- the only act that they would consider courageous.
Trump branded the piece "TREASON" and urged then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to find the dirty rat.
Journalists did not miss the irony in the author's identification as a "senior administration official." The Trump White House was indignant, even though the press office routinely conducts briefings after directing reporters to identify the briefers as "senior administration officials." Then Team Trump denounced the press for relying on unnamed sources.
I saw the piece as confirmation that good people worked in the administration out of a sense of public service -- and that some stayed because they felt a duty to curb Trump's worst instincts. The book deal, alas, suggests the unknown civil servant has a hunger for self-promotion, as well as a poor sense of timing.
For one thing, the Mueller report tells voters everything they need to know about Trump. To wit: There was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. And Trump frequently pushed those around him to do his dirty work, and they often failed to do his bidding.
Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, for example, chose not to tell Sessions to "unrecuse" himself from the Russian probe, lest Trump fire him. Instead, Lewandowski passed on the assignment to a White House aide, who also chose not to act.
In words that echoed the New York Times piece, special counsel Robert Mueller wrote, "The president's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests."
Trump voters don't care. They believe the Russian probe was a witch hunt. Who can blame them? Mueller allowed the investigation to slog on long past any reasonable suspicion that Moscow was pulling Trump's strings. Federal officials throwing everything they've got at Trump isn't really a good look right now.
The field of anonymous Trump accusers is getting crowded. In August, an identity-shielded whistleblower came forward with a complaint that "the president of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election." It was in reference to a July 25 phone call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look for political dirt that could be used in next year's presidential race.
The unidentified whistleblower's lawyer said he represents another unidentified whistleblower. Democrats argue these individuals must be shielded for their own protection, but everyone knows they'll be feted as heroes when their identities -- predictably -- are revealed.
Book deals? You know it.
Perhaps the anonymous New York Times author decided to cut a deal to beat the pack of Ukraine scolds.
House Democrats have even been holding impeachment hearings behind closed doors to question known individuals. After releasing damning tidbits, they've yet to release full testimony. In contrast, Trump made public a rough transcript of the July 25 conversation.
If there's something voters don't know that Anonymous thinks they need to, he or she could pen another op-ed, not a bestseller -- or better yet, with an election a year away, come forward and face the wrath of the right in the light of day.
Of course, Anonymous has an agent. Matt Latimer told CNN that the author of the 272-page "A Warning," published by Twelve, a division of Hachette, "refused the chance at a seven-figure advance and intends to donate a substantial amount of any royalties to the White House Correspondents Association and other organizations that fight for a press that seeks the truth."
As a member of the association, I suppose I should be grateful and not at all curious about how much of the proceeds will go to worthy causes. If only I knew whom to thank.
Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

The Kitchen-Table Case for Impeaching Trump

 

The president’s abuses of power are materially hurting regular people.
After months of waiting, the House Judiciary Committee has finally voted to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. With that tedious “will-they-or-won’t-they” question out of the way, the logical next question is: can impeachment succeed? The answer is a resounding yes. But getting there will require a strategic reorientation away from a sluggish and legalistic examination of Trump’s offenses via recalcitrant witnesses and toward a broader consideration of how his systemic abuses of power have materially hurt regular people.
The continued reticence of so many Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to support impeachment is based on two premises. The first is that impeachment is modestly unpopular, which is true, so far as it goes. The second is the conventional wisdom that impeaching President Clinton backfired on House Republicans.
Look a little closer at the second contention, however, and it quickly falls apart. The case against Trump is vastly stronger than that against Clinton. While Clinton’s alleged crimes were largely committed in the interest of avoiding embarrassment, Trump’s represent clear abuses of power with malignant implications. The second flank of the argument—that impeaching Clinton “backfired” on Republicans—is more myth than reality. Republicans may have lost the House in the next election cycle, but Clinton’s impeachment was a nontrivial factor in Al Gore’s 2000 loss. Therefore, we join other observers in choosing to view this “example” as evidence in support of impeaching Trump.
But the polling argument is particularly short-sighted. Voters take cues from political leaders about how to react to political events. For months, the overwhelming cue on impeachment from Democratic leaders like Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden has been to stand down. This inhibition has created a negative feedback loop in which impeachment-phobic lawmakers convince voters not to support impeachment, and then point to lukewarm public support to justify their passivity. Rinse and repeat.
Five months after the release of the Mueller report, this message has pretty well stuck. After all, if the special counsel’s findings were so serious, they should have been acted on immediately, right? Much as a gourmet meal is never as good reheated, Democrats cannot expect to ignore evidence of impeachable conduct in the spring and have it be as fresh and tasty when zapped in the autumn. Just take a gander at this week’s House Judiciary hearing with Corey Lewandowski to see how unappetizing this fare has become.
While the Mueller report surely provided enough evidence to justify impeaching Trump on substantive grounds, hesitant lawmakers have largely drained it of much of its political force (and impeachment is an inherently political process).
To overcome this damage, impeachment backers will have to make opposition to impeachment untenable with voters, thereby short-circuiting the aforementioned negative feedback loop. That means focusing on the ways in which Trump’s corruption has made life harder and more dangerous for millions of Americans. In other words, impeachment should focus above all on his failure to carry out his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” By emphasizing how impeachment is relevant to the “kitchen-table” issues that keep regular people up at night—like low wages or exorbitant healthcare premiums—the House Judiciary Committee can inspire a swell of grassroots pressure that will give reluctant legislators no choice but to back the effort.
The issues tackled in Mueller’s report, like obstruction of justice, are removed from people’s day-to-day lives. Of course, there is nothing inherently insufficient with such a basis for impeachment; were it not for the Democratic leadership’s opposition, impeachment proceedings would have begun in April. Still, more Americans agonize over how to pay back their student loans, or whether to incur the costs of seeing a doctor when uninsured, than discuss “the role of law.” The Mueller report, therefore. likely strikes most Americans as “political” and is less likely to inspire new broad-based support for impeachment.
The same goes for the proposed lines of inquiry in Judiciary’s newly expanded investigations. The committee will reportedly examine Trump’s alleged abuse of presidential pardons, hush-money payments, and use of office for personal enrichment. While these scandals are undoubtedly important, they don’t penetrate the lives of ordinary people.
That doesn’t mean that Democrats should not pursue any of these alleged crimes; the public deserves to know as much as possible about any president’s corruption, and Congress is best suited to furnish those answers. But these matters should not sit alone at the center of the Democrats’ case for impeachment. An impeachment inquiry is a way to control the national conversation. While bills passed by House Democrats predictably get little attention from most of the media, an impeachment hearing is guaranteed to achieve the scarcest political resource in 2019—the attention of voters.
Given that platform, lawmakers have a lot to choose from. In light of recent revelations that the number of uninsured people has risen for the first time since 2009, lawmakers might want to start by investigating how Trump has undermined the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
You might say that Trump’s health care moves are reprehensible, but are they really impeachable? Ask Thaddeus Stevens, the Pennsylvania representative who was the catalyst behind Andrew Johnson’s impeachment and the author of an article of impeachment accusing Johnson of failing to “take care” that the Tenure of Office Act be faithfully executed. Other articles accused Johnson of offenses including insulting Congress and unlawfully firing his Secretary of War, but this one got at his most serious transgression: failing to honor and enforce the laws as Congress had intended.
Trump has made no secret of his disdain for Obama’s healthcare law, but whether he likes it or not, it’s his duty to administer it unless and until Congress passes a new one or repeals it. Rather than faithfully carrying out that responsibility, Trump has sought to destroy the law. On his first day in office, he signed an executive order directing agencies to use all of the tools at their disposal to undermine the statute—and they have faithfully complied. His administration also shortened the open enrollment period, cut ACA’s advertising budget, and slashed tax credits for enrollees. Trump is not coy about his intentions. “I have just about ended Obamacare,” he once said. Congress should demonstrate its commitment to improving Americans’ health care access by nailing Trump for his considerable efforts to “end” a lawful program by executive action that he could not repeal legislatively.
There are other matters that need a deeper probe. Lawmakers should investigate whether Trump’s administration has intentionally slowed the allocation of aid to Puerto Rico. Last week, as Puerto Ricans braced for Hurricane Dorian’s potential landfall, many did so without a proper roof over their heads, surrounded by many other reminders of Hurricane Maria’s destruction. This hardly seems like an accident: two years after Maria, the scandal-riddled Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has only approved funding for nine projects out of 10,000 applications. Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, the executive branch is holding up a Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) headed for the U.S. territory. The administration’s refusal to effectively administer this recovery aid is not some distant problem. Puerto Ricans (including the diaspora living in Florida and elsewhere on the U.S. mainland) feel it every day in the way of destroyed roads, damaged schools, the lack of a proper roof over many of their heads, or having been forced to leave the island altogether.
It seems impossible to imagine that Trump’s failure “to take care” is unrelated to the animus he has shown toward Latinx communities since the day he announced his presidential campaign. More broadly, it is even harder to argue that a president can faithfully execute the law under our Constitution when he openly views the government’s obligations to people as dependent on their race or religion—as his “Muslim ban” makes evidently clear.
Lawmakers should also look into Trump’s decision to allow three unconfirmed, unqualified, Mar-a-Lago members to essentially run the Department of Veterans’ Affairs from the resort. Has Trump’s reliance on his paying customers to run the VA in any way hurt the millions of veterans who rely on the department’s services each year? The public has a right to know. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs opened an investigation into these puppeteers last winter, but the administration’s stonewalling appears to have hindered meaningful progress.
Trump’s appointees have harmed regular people in myriad other ways. Take, for example, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ failure to administer loan forgiveness programs, even after having been ordered by a court to do so. That has left thousands of people suffering under the crushing yoke of student loans they were promised would be discharged. At the same time, her department’s laughable oversight of loan servicers is delaying forgiveness for hundreds of thousands more. Given her absolute disregard for her responsibilities as Education Secretary, why has she not been removed? Quite clearly, Trump feels no compunction about running afoul of his obligation to “take care” to execute the law, even if that means flat out ignoring court orders.
House members must not only persuade voters to embrace impeachment with the righteousness of their case, but also with the urgency of their actions. That means issuing subpoenas far more liberally—and suing when necessary to enforce them without delay. Indeed, the fact that Trump admits “we are fighting all the subpoenas” reflects acknowledgement that he is undermining Congressional oversight, which was itself a key element of the third article of impeachment against Richard Nixon.
Basic political horse sense suggests that investigating how Trump’s team is hiding evidence of their alleged lawlessness would help generate attention to the actions they are covering up. If pursued effectively, such a probe can impose a steep political cost.
Ultimately, Congress should view its investigatory scope broadly. It should vigorously examine as many instances of Trump’s corruption as possible. But his crimes against the American people should sit at the center of their effort.
To treat them as secondary, as lawmakers have done thus far, misses the larger point. The intentional harm Trump has inflicted on Americans, whom he is tasked with protecting, represents by far his most egregious violation of his Constitutional oath of office. Lawmakers should respond accordingly.

The (Full) Case for Impeachment

A menu of high crimes and misdemeanors.
The crimes for which impeachment is the prescribed punishment are notoriously undefined. And that’s for a reason: Presidential powers are vast, and it’s impossible to design laws to cover every possible abuse of the office’s authority. House Democrats have calculated that an impeachment focused narrowly on the Ukraine scandal will make the strongest legal case against President Trump. But that’s not Trump’s only impeachable offense. A full accounting would include a wide array of dangerous and authoritarian acts — 82, to be precise. His violations fall into seven broad categories of potentially impeachable misconduct that should be weighed, if not by the House, then at least by history.

I. Abusing Power for Political Gain

Explanation: The single most dangerous threat to any democratic system is that the ruling party will use its governing powers to entrench itself illegitimately.
Evidence: (1) The Ukraine scandal is fundamentally about the president abusing his authority by wielding his power over foreign policy as a cudgel against his domestic opponents. The president is both implicitly and explicitly trading the U.S. government’s favor for investigations intended to create adverse publicity for Americans whom Trump wishes to discredit. (2) During his campaign, he threatened to impose policies harmful to Amazon in retribution for critical coverage in the Washington Post. (“If I become president, oh do they have problems.”) He has since pushed the postmaster general to double rates on Amazon, and the Defense Department held up a $10 billion contract with Amazon, almost certainly at his behest. (3) He has ordered his officials to block the AT&T–Time Warner merger as punishment for CNN’s coverage of him. (4) He encouraged the NFL to blacklist Colin Kaepernick.

II. Mishandling Classified Information

Explanation: As he does with many other laws, the president enjoys broad immunity from regulations on the proper handling of classified information, allowing him to take action that would result in felony convictions for other federal employees. President Trump’s mishandling of classified information is not merely careless but a danger to national security.
Evidence: (5) Trump has habitually communicated on a smartphone highly vulnerable to foreign espionage. (6–30) He has reversed 25 security-clearance denials (including for his son-in-law, who has conducted potentially compromising business with foreign interests). (31) He has turned Mar-a-Lago into an unsecured second White House and even once handled news of North Korea’s missile launch in public view. (32) He gave Russian officials sensitive Israeli intelligence that blew “the most valuable source of information on external plotting by [the] Islamic State,” the Wall Street Journal reported(33) He tweeted a high-resolution satellite image of an Iranian launch site for the sake of boasting.

III. Undermining Duly Enacted Federal Law

Explanation: President Trump has abused his authority either by distorting the intent of laws passed by Congress or by flouting them. He has directly ordered subordinates to violate the law and has promised pardons in advance, enabling him and his staff to operate with impunity. In these actions, he has undermined Congress’s constitutional authority to make laws.
Evidence: (34) Having failed to secure funding authority for a border wall, President Trump unilaterally ordered funds to be moved from other budget accounts. (35) He has undermined regulations on health insurance under the Affordable Care Act preventing insurers from charging higher rates to customers with more expensive risk profiles. (36) He has abused emergency powers to impose tariffs, intended to protect the supply chain in case of war, to seize from Congress its authority to negotiate international trade agreements. (37–38) He has ordered border agents to illegally block asylum seekers from entering the country and has ordered other aides to violate eminent-domain laws and contracting procedures in building the border wall, (39–40) both times promising immunity from lawbreaking through presidential pardons.

IV. Obstruction of Congress

Explanation: The executive branch and Congress are co-equal, each intended to guard against usurpation of authority by the other. Trump has refused to acknowledge any legitimate oversight function of Congress, insisting that because Congress has political motivations, it is disqualified from it. His actions and rationale strike at the Constitution’s design of using the political ambitions of the elected branches to check one another.
Evidence: (41) Trump has refused to abide by a congressional demand to release his tax returns, despite an unambiguous law granting the House this authority. His lawyers have flouted the law on the spurious grounds that subpoenas for his tax returns “were issued to harass President Donald J. Trump, to rummage through every aspect of his personal finances, his businesses and the private information of the president and his family, and to ferret about for any material that might be used to cause him political damage.” Trump’s lawyers have argued that Congress cannot investigate potentially illegal behavior by the president because the authority to do so belongs to prosecutors. In other litigation, those lawyers have argued that prosecutors cannot investigate the president. These contradictory positions support an underlying stance that no authority can investigate his misconduct. (42) He has defended his refusal to accept oversight on the grounds that members of Congress “aren’t, like, impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win 2020.” (43) The president has also declared that impeachment is illegal and should be stopped in the courts (though, unlike with his other obstructive acts, he has not yet taken any legal action toward this end).

V. Obstruction of Justice

Explanation: By virtue of his control over the federal government’s investigative apparatus, the president (along with the attorney general) is uniquely well positioned to cover up his own misconduct. Impeachment is the sole available remedy for a president who uses his powers of office to hold himself immune from legal accountability. In particular, the pardon power gives the president almost unlimited authority to obstruct investigations by providing him with a means to induce the silence of co-conspirators.
Evidence: (44–53) The Mueller report contains ten instances of President Trump engaging in obstructive acts. While none of those succeeded in stopping the probe, Trump dangled pardons and induced his co-conspirators to lie or withhold evidence from investigators. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress that Trump had directed him to lie to it about his negotiations with the Russian government during the campaign to secure a lucrative building contract in Moscow. And when Cohen stated his willingness to lie, Robert Costello, an attorney who had worked with Rudy Giuliani, emailed Cohen assuring him he could “sleep well tonight” because he had “friends in high places.” Trump has publicly praised witnesses in the Russia investigation for refusing to cooperate, and he sent a private message to former national-security adviser Michael Flynn urging him to “stay strong.” He has reinforced this signal by repeatedly denouncing witnesses who cooperate with investigators as “flippers.” (54–61) He has exercised his pardon power for a series of Republican loyalists, sending a message that at least some of his co-conspirators have received. The president’s pardon of conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza “has to be a signal to Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort and even Robert S. Mueller III: Indict people for crimes that don’t pertain to Russian collusion and this is what could happen,” Roger Stone told the Washington Post“The special counsel has awesome powers, as you know, but the president has even more awesome powers.”

VI. Profiting From Office

Explanation: Federal employees must follow strict rules to prevent them from being influenced by any financial conflict. Conflict-of-interest rules are less clear for a sitting president because all presidential misconduct will be resolved by either reelection or impeachment. If Trump held any position in the federal government below the presidency, he would have been fired for his obvious conflicts. His violations are so gross and blatant they merit impeachment.
Evidence: (62) He has maintained a private business while holding office, (63) made decisions that influence that business, (64) and accepted payments from parties both domestic and foreign who have an interest in his policies. (65) He has openly signaled that these parties can gain his favor by doing so. (66) He has refused even to disclose his interests, which would at least make public which parties are paying him.

VII. Fomenting Violence

Explanation: One of the unspoken roles of the president is to serve as a symbolic head of state. Presidents have very wide latitude for their political rhetoric, but Trump has violated its bounds, exceeding in his viciousness the rhetoric of Andrew Johnson (who was impeached in part for the same offense).
Evidence: (67) Trump called for locking up his 2016 opponent after the election. (68–71) He has clamored for the deportation of four women of color who are congressional representatives of the opposite party. (72) He has described a wide array of domestic political opponents as treasonous, including the news media. (73–80) On at least eight occasions, he has encouraged his supporters — including members of the armed forces — to attack his political opponents. (“I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”) (81) He has threatened journalists with violence if they fail to produce positive coverage. (“If the media would write correctly and write accurately and write fairly, you’d have a lot less violence in the country.”) (82) There have been 36 criminal cases nationwide in which the defendant invoked Trump’s name in connection with violence; 29 of these cited him as the inspiration for an attack.
*This article appears in the October 14, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!


PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES DONALD TRUMP: pathological liar, swindler, con man, huckster, golfing cheat, charity foundation fraudster, tax evader, adulterer, porn whore chaser and servant of the Saudis dictators
THE TRUMP FAMILY FOUNDATION SLUSH FUND…. Will they see jail?
VISUALIZE REVOLUTION!.... We know where they live!
“Underwood is a Democrat and is seeking millions of dollars in penalties. She wants Trump and his eldest children barred from running other charities.”
ANN COULTER
TRUMP’S PARASITIC FAMILY
 Jared’s BFF, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Muhammad bin Zayed (MBZ), refer to Jared as “the clown prince.” Bone-cutter MBS assured those around him that he had Jared “in my pocket.” 

Following meetings at the White House and also with the Kushners over their 666 Fifth Avenue property, former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim reported back to the emir that “the people atop the new administration were heavily motivated by personal financial interest.” 

“Truthfully, It Is Tough To Ignore Some Of The Gross Immoral Behavior By The President” WASHINGTON POST

 

Trump's sister quits as a federal judge 10 days into formal probe of her possible role in massive family tax scam that could have ended in her impeachment


·          Trump's older sister resigned as an appellate court judge shortly after a probe opened into her involvement in a family tax scheme
·         
·         10 days ago an investigation into whether Maryanne Trump Barry violated judicial conduct rules launched
·         
·         The case was closed after Barry resigned because retired judges are not subject to the rules
·         
·         Barry had not heard a case in two years after transitioning to inactive shortly after Trump's inauguration 
·         
·         The Trump siblings were probed after an investigation found they were involved in a tax scheme related to the transfer of their father's real estate empire 
·          




President Donald Trump’s older sister Maryanne Trump Barry, 82, retired as a federal judge just days after an investigation opened into her possible role in family tax fraud scheme.
Barry was a federal appellate judge in the third district, which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and the investigation could have led to her impeachment.
She had not presided over a case in more than two years, but was still listed as an inactive senior judge in the third district – usually the step taken before full retirement.
Barry did not give any reasons for her retirement. 
The probe into the Trumps was first opened last fall, after a New York Times investigation found the Trump siblings engaged in tax schemes in the 1990s, including fraud, that increased their inherited wealth.
+4
Maryanne Trump Barry resigned as a federal appellate judge 10 days into an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules

An investigation into the Trump siblings opened after the New York Times reported that they transferred their father's real estate assets improperly in the 1990s 
The formal investigation into whether Barry violated judicial conduct rules started ten days ago, but was closed after Barry announced her retirement since retired judges are not subject to judicial conduct rules.
These reviews could result in the censure or reprimand of federal judges, but in some more extreme cases, the judge could be referred to the House of Representatives for impeachment.
It appears Barry will receive somewhere between $184,500 and $217,600 annually, the same salary she earned when she last met certain workload requirements before changing her status to inactive.
The Times investigation into the Trump’s alleged that Fred Trump transferred his real estate empire profits and ownership to his four children, including the president, Barry, brother Robert Trump, and their sister Elizabeth Trump Grau, in ways designed to dodge gift and estate taxes.
+4
Barry, pictured above with sister Elizabeth Trump Grau, was a senior inactive judge, which is the step taken usually before full retirement, and had not heard a case in over two year.

Trump's lawyer Charles Hardner said that the allegations made as a result of the Times' investigation is '100 per cent false' and accused the newspaper of defamation

“The New York Times’s allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 per cent false, and highly defamatory,” a lawyer for Trump, Charles Hardner, said last October. 

Barry was elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by President Bill Clinton in 1999, and shortly after Trump’s inauguration, in February 2017, she notified the court she would stop hearing cases without citing a reason.

At this point she became a senior inactive judge and gave up her staff and chambers.

ANN COULTER: WILL THE GLOBALIST DEMOCRAT PARTY FOR BANKSTERS AND BILLIONAIRES DESTROY AMERICA?


I would also go to all of the working class that are in America, construction workers in particular. Their salaries have not just stagnated, they have gone down in the last 20 years. These are the least among us. We are the only ones not speaking out of self-interest. …

Most of the people who are advocating for open borders … they have a vested in interest in having either the cheap labor or the Democratic voters. Their neighborhoods aren’t the ones being overwhelmed. They get the cheap maids, the cheap nannies, and then they strut around like they’re Martin Luther King.

No, you are talking in your self-interest, Chamber of Commerce, and Koch brothers, and Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer. It’s Donald Trump and our side who are actually caring about our fellow Americans — the kids who are getting addicted to black tar heroin. …

The heroin problem in this country is 100 percent a problem of not having a wall on the border. And 70,000 Americans are dying every year. That’s more that died in the entire Vietnam War. That is a national emergency.  ANN COULTER

 ANN COULTER EXPOSES TRUMP’S “WALL” HOAX



In fact, Trump is steadily moving in the precise opposite direction of what he promised.

Illegal immigration is on track to hit the highest levels in more than a decade, and Trump has willfully decided to keep amnesty advocates Jared, Ivanka, Mick Mulvaney, Marc Short, and Mercedes Schlapp in the White House. For all his talk about immigration, did he ever consider hiring people who share his MAGA vision?

THE TRUMP FAMILY FOUNDATION SLUSH FUND…. Will they see jail?
VISUALIZE REVOLUTION!.... We know where they live!
“Underwood is a Democrat and is seeking millions of dollars in penalties. She wants Trump and his eldest children barred from running other charities.”
TRUMP’S CRAP ON BORDERS AND HIS PRETEND WALL IS ONLY ONE MORE TRUMP HOAX!
Only a complete fool would believe that Trump is any more for American Legal workers than the Democrat Party for Billionaires and Banksters!
“Trump Administration Betrays Low-Skilled American Workers.”
The latest ad from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) asks Trump to reject the mass illegal and legal immigration policies supported by Wall Street, corporate executives, and most specifically, the GOP mega-donor Koch brothers.
Efforts by the big business lobby, Chamber of Commerce, Koch brothers, and George W. Bush Center include increasing employment-based legal immigration that would likely crush the historic wage gains that Trump has delivered for America’s blue collar and working class citizens.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Silicon Valley investors are uniting with the Koch network’s consumer and industrial investors to demand a huge DACA amnesty

*

A handful of Republican and Democrat lawmakers are continuing to tout a plan that gives amnesty to nearly a million illegal aliens in exchange for some amount of funding for President Trump’s proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.


THE DEATH OF THE AMERICAN MIDDLE-CLASS
THE ASSAULT ON THE AMERICAN WORKER BY PHONY POPULIST SWAMP KEEPER TRUMP


Companies say they often pay good wages to their imported H-2B workers, often around $15 per hour. But that price is below the wages sought by Americans for the seasonal work which leaves them jobless in the off-season. The lower wages paid to H-2Bs also allows companies to pay lower wages to their American supervisors. NEIL MUNRO

WHAT WILL TRUMP AND HIS PARASITIC FAMILY DO FOR MONEY???
JUST ASK THE SAUDIS!

JOHN DEAN: Not so far. This has been right by the letter of the special counsel’s charter. He’s released the document. What I’m looking for is relief and understanding that there’s no witting or unwitting likelihood that the President is an agent of Russia. That’s when I’ll feel comfortable, and no evidence even hints at that. We don’t have that yet. We’re still in the process of unfolding the report to look at it. And its, as I say, if [Attornery General William Barr] honors his word, we’ll know more soon.
“Our entire crony capitalist system, Democrat and Republican alike, has become a kleptocracy approaching par with third-world hell-holes.  This is the way a great country is raided by its elite.” ---- Karen McQuillan AMERICAN THINKER

ANN COULTER EXPOSES TRUMP’S “WALL” HOAX

In fact, Trump is steadily moving in the precise opposite direction of what he promised.

Illegal immigration is on track to hit the highest levels in more than a decade, and Trump has willfully decided to keep amnesty advocates Jared, Ivanka, Mick Mulvaney, Marc Short, and Mercedes Schlapp in the White House. For all his talk about immigration, did he ever consider hiring people who share his MAGA vision?

TRUMP’S CATCH AND RELEASE… all the “cheap” labor climbing our borders, jobs and welfare lines!
THE ENTIRE REASON TRUMP NOMINATED KIRSTJEN NIELSEN WAS BECAUSE OF HER LONG HISTORY OF ADVOCATING OPEN BORDERS TO KEEP WAGES DEPRESSED!

In newly confirmed federal data from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, Breitbart News has learned the massive scale and scope of DHS’s ramped up Catch and Release policy.

For months, DHS officials have said privately that the Catch and Release program has been taken to new heights, while ICE union officials declared this week that the program was in “overdrive” under the direction of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.  JOHN BINDER

TRUMP AND THE MURDERING 9-11 MUSLIM SAUDIS…
Why is the Swamp Keeper and his family of parasites up their ar$es??
TRUMP’S TAX BILL:
A massive tax cut for his plundering Goldman Sachs infested administration.

TRUMP’S SECRET AMNESTY, WIDER OPEN BORDERS DOCTRINE TO KEEP WAGES DEPRESSED.

"During the same month that Schlafly had backed Trump for his “America First”

 

agenda, Nielsen’s committee released an ideologically-globalist report, promoting

 

the European migrant crisis as a win for big business who would profit greatly

 

from a never-ending stream of cheap, foreign migrants."

TRUMPERNOMICS FOR THE RICH…. and his parasitic family!
Report: Trump Says He Doesn't Care About the National Debt Because the Crisis Will Hit After He's Gone


 "Trump's alleged comment is maddening and disheartening,
but at least he's being straightforward about his indefensible
and self-serving neglect.  I'll leave you with 
this reminder of the scope of the problem, not that anyone in power is going to do a damn thing about it."

TRUMPERNOMICS:

THE RICH APPLAUD TWITTER’S TRUMP’S TAX CUTS FOR THE SUPER RICH!

"The tax overhaul would mean an unprecedented windfall for the super-rich, on top

of the fact that virtually all income gains during the period of the supposed

recovery from the financial crash of 2008 have gone to the top 1 percent income

bracket."

TRUMPS INFORMS NARCOMEX:

THE PACT BETWEEN MEXICO AND TRUMP… NO WALL, NO REAL ENFORCEMENT.

 

http://mexicanoccupation.blogspot.com/2017/08/did-trump-promise-mexico-no-pardon-for.html

Swamp Keeper Trump prepares for the inevitable move to impeach him and ask for asylum in Scotland.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson said in an interview Thursday that President Donald Trump has succeeded as a conversation starter but has failed to keep his most important campaign promises.

“His chief promises were that he would build the wall, de-fund Planned Parenthood, and repeal Obamacare, and he hasn’t done any of those things,” Carlson told Urs Gehriger of the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche.

TRUMP POSITIONS HIMSELF FOR IMPEACHMENT
MAY LEAVE THE COUNTRY FOR HIS GOLF COURSE IN SCOTLAND

“Truthfully, It Is Tough To Ignore Some Of The Gross Immoral Behavior By The President” WASHINGTON POST


“Mueller and the anti-Trump camp within the ruling elite know very well that the billionaire New York real estate and gambling speculator-turned president is mired in criminal activity, which is certain to be reflected in the material seized from Cohen. They have Trump by the throat, and Trump knows it.”
*
“Our entire crony capitalist system, Democrat and Republican alike, has become a kleptocracy approaching par with third-world hell-holes.  This is the way a great country is raided by its elite.” ----Karen McQuillan AMERICAN THINKER
*

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday that the “whole Trump family” was potentially comprised by a foreign power ahead of the 2016 presidential election.


"Trump's alleged comment is maddening and disheartening,  but at least he's being straightforward about his indefensible and self-serving neglect.  I'll leave you with this reminder of the scope of the problem, not that anyone in power is going to do a damn thing about it."


Banks Give Congress Documents on Possible Trump Dealings with Russians

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
8 Aug 20195,146
2:41

A group of banks has turned over documents on Russians who may have done business with President Donald Trump following a request from Congress, a Thursday report states.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Deutsche Bank gave lawmakers thousands of documents as part of a joint investigation by the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees into possible foreign influence over President Trump and members of his family. The former committee is chaired by none other than impeachment crusaders Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). These financial institutions are expected to transfer more documents to congressional investigators in the coming weeks, the Journal said.
Lawmakers issued subpoenas for the information in April.
“Separately, Deutsche Bank, Mr. Trump’s primary bank, has turned over emails, loan agreements and other documents related to the Trump Organization to the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, in response to a civil subpoena sent earlier this year, according to people familiar with the New York investigation,” the newspaper reports.
In April, President Trump, his three oldest children, and the Trump Organization sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One to prevent them from handing over their financial records to Congress. The president and his former real estate company also filed a lawsuit to block a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee seeking financial documents from Mazars, an accounting firm.
Last month, President Trump filed a civil lawsuit to prevent the House Ways and Means Committee from obtaining his tax returns from New York state officials.
The lawsuit, which was filed July 23rd in Washington against the House panel, New York State Attorney General Letitia James, and New York State Department of Taxation and Finance commissioner Michael Schmidt, seeks an injunction to block a new state law. The law would allow the Democrat-controlled House and Ways Means Committee to obtain the president’s tax returns.
“Once it became clear that Treasury would not divulge the President’s federal tax returns, New York passed a law allowing the Committee to get his state returns,” reads the court filing. “That hyper-specific condition was, not coincidentally, already satisfied for the intended target of the Act: President Trump.”
The committee sued the Treasury Department and IRS officials in an attempt to enforce a law that allows its chairman, Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), to obtain any taxpayer’s returns.

Millennials lose it when the guy who owns their favorite companies fundraises for Trump

While the multiple mass shootings and stabbings in the U.S. in the past few weeks upset many, nothing exercised the minds of wealthy fit liberals as learning that the investor of their favored, elitist, expensive gyms, or as the wealthy fit liberals refer to them, fitness centers, they attend was hosting a fundraiser last night for... President Donald J. Trump (R).  And hosting it, no less, in the exclusive, elitist playground of the East Cost liberal and wealthy: the Hamptons.
Entrust it to Vox, to ponder the dilemma of the oh, so self-labeled hip who exercise at, or work out as they refer their imposed sweat inducing contortions at, Equinox and Soul Cycle, to keep their butts tight and their minds closed.
But it can be particularly surprising to consumers when brands that have cultivated progressive and inclusive images are found to be associated with campaigns or causes that stand for the opposite.
Stephen Ross is a billionaire real estate developer (reported net worth: $7.7 billion) and owner of a private investment firm that has backed many of the latter kind of brands. He’s also hosting a fundraiser for the Trump 2020 campaign at his Hamptons mansion on Friday, August 9, where tickets will range from $100,000 for a lunch and photo opp to $250,000 to attend a roundtable discussion, according to the Washington Post.
Rich people hosting fundraisers for Trump is not itself particularly notable, but the fact that Ross’s firm has financed companies beloved in part for their progressive images has caused many patrons to call for a boycott. Among the brands Ross has invested in are Equinox, which has supported LGBTQ charities in the past; the spinning behemoth SoulCycle; the organic tampon brand Lola; and the budget gym Blink Fitness, as well as food chains like Momofuku and its pastry offshoot Milk Bar, and the fast-casual pizza spot &pizza.
OMG!  What to do?
New York Magazine to the rescue with additional information on those boycott targets for the morally outraged, tight-bodied, and narrow-minded.  And it is extensive.
When the news broke that Stephen Ross, a real-estate executive and venture capitalist, was set to throw an extravagant fundraiser for Donald Trump in the Hamptons on Friday, reverberations of shock and horror were felt in millennial communities far and wide, from Brooklyn to downtown L.A. to Austin and Portland, Oregon.  Why?  Because Ross is the chairman of the Related Companies, a parent company of both Equinox and SoulCycle, where many a young urban professional flocks daily to sweat out their existential dread. ...
Unfortunately it gets even worse.  Ross has a hand in so many millennial lifestyle entities that there are probably a few influencers whose entire feeds must be cleansed of products tied to Trump cash.  If you think you’re untouched, don’t be so sure[.] ... The giant, tangled rat king of capitalism means that unless you live like my friend John, who still has a flip phone and claims to have never ordered anything online, you’re part of a teeming network of unsavory dealings.
But anyway, here is a list of all the pertinent things Ross partly owns as you decide how much of your life must be canceled[.]
Read the list to learn how those with unfit morals will suffer.  Then, exercising your rights, smile and then go for a nice walk.

Top Military Officers Unload on Trump
The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News. What does this mean for those on the front lines?
Illustration: Paul Spella; Michael Heiman / Getty

·       NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE
For most of the past two decades, American troops have been deployed all over the world—to about 150 countries. During that time, hundreds of thousands of young men and women have experienced combat, and a generation of officers have come of age dealing with the practical realities of war. They possess a deep well of knowledge and experience. For the past three years, these highly trained professionals have been commanded by Donald Trump.
To get a sense of what serving Trump has been like, I interviewed officers up and down the ranks, as well as several present and former civilian Pentagon employees. Among the officers I spoke with were four of the highest ranks—three or four stars—all recently retired. All but one served Trump directly; the other left the service shortly before Trump was inaugurated. They come from different branches of the military, but I’ll simply refer to them as “the generals.” Some spoke only off the record, some allowed what they said to be quoted without attribution, and some talked on the record.
Military officers are sworn to serve whomever voters send to the White House. Cognizant of the special authority they hold, high-level officers epitomize respect for the chain of command, and are extremely reticent about criticizing their civilian overseers. That those I spoke with made an exception in Trump’s case is telling, and much of what they told me is deeply disturbing. In 20 years of writing about the military, I have never heard officers in high positions express such alarm about a president. Trump’s pronouncements and orders have already risked catastrophic and unnecessary wars in the Middle East and Asia, and have created severe problems for field commanders engaged in combat operations. Frequently caught unawares by Trump’s statements, senior military officers have scrambled, in their aftermath, to steer the country away from tragedy. How many times can they successfully do that before faltering?
Amid threats spanning the globe, from nuclear proliferation to mined tankers in the Persian Gulf to terrorist attacks and cyberwarfare, those in command positions monitor the president’s Twitter feed like field officers scanning the horizon for enemy troop movements. A new front line in national defense has become the White House Situation Room, where the military struggles to accommodate a commander in chief who is both ignorant and capricious. In May, after months of threatening Iran, Trump ordered the carrier group led by the USS Abraham Lincoln to shift from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. On June 20, after an American drone was downed there, he ordered a retaliatory attack—and then called it off minutes before it was to be launched. The next day he said he was “not looking for war” and wanted to talk with Iran’s leaders, while also promising them “obliteration like you’ve never seen before” if they crossed him. He threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” and dispatched a three-aircraft-carrier flotilla to waters off the Korean peninsula—then he pivoted to friendly summits with Kim Jong Un, with whom he announced he was “in love”; canceled long-standing U.S. military exercises with South Korea; and dangled the possibility of withdrawing American forces from the country altogether. While the lovefest continues for the cameras, the U.S. has quietly uncanceled the canceled military exercises, and dropped any mention of a troop withdrawal.
Such rudderless captaincy creates the headlines Trump craves. He revels when his tweets take off. (“Boom!” he says. “Like a rocket!”) Out in the field, where combat is more than wordplay, his tweets have consequences. He is not a president who thinks through consequences—and this, the generals stressed, is not the way serious nations behave.
The generals I spoke with didn’t agree on everything, but they shared the following five characterizations of Trump’s military leadership.

I. HE DISDAINS EXPERTISE

Trump has little interest in the details of policy. He makes up his mind about a thing, and those who disagree with him—even those with manifestly more knowledge and experience—are stupid, or slow, or crazy.
As a personal quality, this can be trying; in a president, it is dangerous. Trump rejects the careful process of decision making that has long guided commanders in chief. Disdain for process might be the defining trait of his leadership. Of course, no process can guarantee good decisions—history makes that clear—but eschewing the tools available to a president is choosing ignorance. What Trump’s supporters call “the deep state” is, in the world of national security—hardly a bastion of progressive politics—a vast reservoir of knowledge and global experience that presidents ignore at their peril. The generals spoke nostalgically of the process followed by previous presidents, who solicited advice from field commanders, foreign-service and intelligence officers, and in some cases key allies before reaching decisions about military action. As different as George W. Bush and Barack Obama were in temperament and policy preferences, one general told me, they were remarkably alike in the Situation Room: Both presidents asked hard questions, wanted prevailing views challenged, insisted on a variety of options to consider, and weighed potential outcomes against broader goals. Trump doesn’t do any of that. Despite commanding the most sophisticated intelligence-gathering apparatus in the world, this president prefers to be briefed by Fox News, and then arrives at decisions without input from others.
One prominent example came on December 19, 2018, when Trump announced, via Twitter, that he was ordering all American forces in Syria home.
“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency,” he tweeted. Later that day he said, “Our boys, our young women, our men, they are all coming back, and they are coming back now.”
This satisfied one of Trump’s campaign promises, and it appealed to the isolationist convictions of his core supporters. Forget the experts, forget the chain of command—they were the people who, after all, had kept American forces engaged in that part of the world for 15 bloody years without noticeably improving things. Enough was enough.
At that moment, however, American troops were in the final stages of crushing the Islamic State, which, contrary to Trump’s assertion, was collapsing but had not yet been defeated. Its brutal caliphate, which had briefly stretched from eastern Iraq to western Syria, had been painstakingly dismantled over the previous five years by an American-led global coalition, which was close to finishing the job. Now they were to stop and come home?
Here, several of the generals felt, was a textbook example of ill-informed decision making. The downsides of a withdrawal were obvious: It would create a power vacuum that would effectively cede the fractured Syrian state to Russia and Iran; it would abandon America’s local allies to an uncertain fate; and it would encourage a diminished ISIS to keep fighting. The decision—which prompted the immediate resignations of the secretary of defense, General James Mattis, and the U.S. special envoy to the mission, Brett McGurk—blindsided not only Congress and America’s allies but the person charged with actually waging the war, General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command. He had not been consulted.
Trump’s tweet put General Votel in the position of telling our allies, in effect, We’re screwing you, but we need you now more than ever.
Trump’s tweet put Votel in a difficult spot. Here was a sudden 180-degree turn in U.S. policy that severely undercut an ongoing effort. The American contingent of about 2,000 soldiers, most of them Special Forces, was coordinating with the Iraqi army; the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, consisting primarily of Kurdish militias and Syrians opposed to President Bashar al-Assad; and representatives of NATO, the Arab League, and dozens of countries. This alliance had reduced ISIS’s territory to small pockets of resistance inside Syria. America’s troops were deep in the Euphrates Valley, a long way from their original bases of operation. An estimated 10,000 hard-core Islamist soldiers were fighting to the death. Months of tough combat lay ahead.
Votel’s force in Syria was relatively small, but it required a steady supply of food, ammunition, parts, and medical supplies, and regular troop rotations. The avenue for these vital conveyances—through hundreds of miles of hazardous Iraqi desert—was truck convoys, protected almost exclusively by the SDF. To protect its troops during a retreat, America could have brought in its own troops or replaced those truck convoys with airlifts, but either step would have meant suddenly escalating an engagement that the president had just pronounced finished.
For the American commander, this was a terrible logistical challenge. An orderly withdrawal of his forces would further stress supply lines, therefore necessitating the SDF’s help even more. Votel found himself in the position of having to tell his allies, in effect, We’re screwing you, but we need you now more than ever.
Field commanders are often given orders they don’t like. The military must bow to civilian rule. The generals accept and embrace that. But they also say that no careful decision-making process would have produced Trump’s abrupt about-face.
Votel decided to take an exceedingly rare step: He publicly contradicted his commander in chief. In an interview with CNN he said that no, ISIS was not yet defeated, and now was not the time to retreat. Given his responsibility to his troops and the mission, the general didn’t have much choice.
Votel held everything together. He took advantage of the good relationship he had built with the SDF to buy enough time for Trump to be confronted with the consequences of his decision. A few days later, the president backed down—while predictably refusing to admit that he had done so. American forces would stay in smaller numbers (and France and the U.K. would eventually agree to commit more troops to the effort). The 180-degree turn was converted into something more like a 90-degree one. In the end, the main effects of Trump’s tweet were bruising the trust of allies and heartening both Assad and ISIS.
Illustration: Paul Spella; Nicholas Kamm; Olivier Douliery / AFP / Getty; Erik S. Lesser / AP; Kevin LaMarque / Reuters

II. HE TRUSTS ONLY HIS OWN INSTINCTS

Trump believes that his gut feelings about things are excellent, if not genius. Those around him encourage that belief, or they are fired. Winning the White House against all odds may have made it unshakable.
Decisiveness is good, the generals agreed. But making decisions without considering facts is not.
Trump has, on at least one occasion, shown the swiftness and resolution commanders respect: On April 7, 2017, he responded to a chemical-warfare attack by Assad with a missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat Airbase. But this was not a hard call. It was a onetime proportional retaliation unlikely to stir international controversy or wider repercussions. Few international incidents can be cleanly resolved by an air strike.
“How did we even get to that point?” one general asked me in astonishment. What kind of commander in chief would risk war with Iran over a drone?
A case in point is the flare-up with Iran in June. The generals said Trump’s handling of it was perilous, because it could have led to a shooting war. On June 20, Iran’s air defenses shot down an American RQ-4A Global Hawk, a high-altitude surveillance drone the Iranians said had violated their airspace. The U.S. said the drone was in international airspace. (The disputed coordinates were about 12 miles apart—not a big difference for an aircraft moving hundreds of miles an hour.) In retaliation, Trump ordered a military strike on Iran—and then abruptly called it off after, he claimed, he’d been informed that it would kill about 150 Iranians. One general told me this explanation is highly improbable—any careful discussion of the strike would have considered potential casualties at the outset. But whatever his reasoning, the president’s reversal occasioned such relief that it obscured the gravity of his original decision.
“How did we even get to that point?” the general asked me in astonishment. Given what a tinderbox that part of the world is, what kind of commander in chief would risk war with Iran over a drone?
Not only would a retaliatory strike have failed the litmus test of proportionality, this general said, but it would have accomplished little, escalated the dispute with Iran, and risked instigating a broad conflict. In an all-out war, the U.S. would defeat Iran’s armed forces, but not without enormous bloodshed, and not just in Iran. Iran and its proxies would launch terrorist strikes on American and allied targets throughout the Middle East and beyond. If the regime were to fall, what would come next? Who would step in to govern a Shiite Muslim nation of 82 million steeped for generations in hatred of America? The mullahs owe their power to the American overthrow of Iran’s elected government in 1953, an event widely regarded in Iran (and elsewhere) as an outrage. Conquering Americans would not be greeted by happy Persian crowds. The generals observed that those who predicted such parades in Baghdad following the ouster of Saddam Hussein instead got a decade-long bloodbath. Iran has more than twice Iraq’s population, and is a far more developed nation. The Iraq War inspired the creation of ISIS and gave renewed momentum to al‑Qaeda; imagine how war with Iran might mobilize Hezbollah, the richest and best-trained terrorist organization in the world.
Sometimes, of course, war is necessary. That’s why we maintain the most expensive and professional military in the world. But a fundamental reason to own such power is to avoid wars—especially wars that are likely to create worse problems than they solve.
General Votel, who commanded American forces in the region until he retired in March, told me that if the U.S. had carried out a retaliatory strike, “the trick for the military in this case would be to orchestrate some type of operation that would very quickly try and get us to an off-ramp—give them an off-ramp or provide us with an off-ramp—so we can get to some kind of discussion to resolve the situation.” Trump’s attack might have targeted some of the Iranian navy’s vessels and systems that threaten shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, Votel said, or it might have leveled a measured strike against the air defenses that struck the drone. Ideally it would have been followed by a pause, so diplomatic processes could kick in. The strike would have demonstrated to Iran that we have the capability and willingness to strike back if provoked, and made clear that in a serious fight, it could not prevail. But all of this presumes a sequence that would unfold in an orderly, rational way—a preposterous notion.
“This is all completely unpredictable,” Votel said. “It’s hard for me to see how it would play out. We would be compelled to leave large numbers of forces in the region as a deterrent. If you don’t have an off-ramp, you’re going to find yourself in some kind of protracted conflict.” Which is precisely the kind of scenario Trump has derided in the past. His eagerness to free the U.S. from long-term military conflicts overseas was why he made his abrupt announcement about pulling out of Syria. Evidently he didn’t fully consider where a military strike against Iran was likely to lead.
The real reason Trump reversed himself on the retaliatory strike, one general said, was not because he suddenly learned of potential casualties, but because someone, most likely General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, aggressively confronted him with the extended implications of an attack.
“I know the chairman very well,” the general said. “He’s about as fine an officer as I have ever spent time around. I think if he felt the president was really heading in the wrong direction, he would let the president know.” He added that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have counseled against an attack as well. “Pompeo’s a really bright guy. I’m sure he would intervene and give the president his best advice.”

III. HE RESISTS COHERENT STRATEGY

If there is any broad logic to Trump’s behavior, it’s Keep ’em confused. He believes that unpredictability itself is a virtue.
Keeping an enemy off-balance can be a good thing, the generals agreed, so long as you are not off-balance yourself. And it’s a tactic, not a strategy. Consider Trump’s rhetorical dance with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. No president in modern times has made progress with North Korea. Capable of destroying Seoul within minutes of an outbreak of hostilities, Pyongyang has ignored every effort by the U.S. and its allies to deter it from building a nuclear arsenal.
Trump has gone back and forth dramatically on Kim. As a candidate in 2016, he said he would get China to make the North Korean dictator “disappear in one form or another very quickly.” Once in office, he taunted Kim, calling him “Little Rocket Man,” and suggested that the U.S. might immolate Pyongyang. Then he switched directions and orchestrated three personal meetings with Kim.
“That stuff is just crazy enough to work,” one of the generals told me with a what-the-hell? chuckle. “We’ll see what happens. If they can get back to some kind of discussion, if it can avert something, it will have been worth it. The unconventional aspect of that does have the opportunity to shake some things up.”
In the long run, however, unpredictability is a problem. Without a coherent underlying strategy, uncertainty creates confusion and increases the chance of miscalculation—and miscalculation, the generals pointed out, is what starts most wars. John F. Kennedy famously installed a direct hotline to the Kremlin in order to lower the odds of blundering into a nuclear exchange. Invading Kuwait, Saddam Hussein stumbled into a humiliating defeat in the first Gulf War—a conflict that killed more than 100,000 people—after a cascading series of miscommunications and miscalculations led to a crushing international response.
Unpredictability becomes an impediment to success when it interferes with orderly process. “Say you’re going to have an engagement with North Korea,” a general who served under multiple presidents told me. “At some point you should have developed a strategy that says, Here’s what we want the outcome to be. And then somebody is developing talking points. Those talking points are shared with the military, with the State Department, with the ambassador. Whatever the issue might be, before the president ever says anything, everybody should know what the talking points are going to be.” To avoid confusion and a sense of aimlessness, “everybody should have at least a general understanding of what the strategy is and what direction we’re heading in.”
Which is frequently not the case now.
“If the president says ‘Fire and brimstone’ and then two weeks later says ‘This is my best friend,’ that’s not necessarily bad—but it’s bad if the rest of the relevant people in the government responsible for executing the strategy aren’t aware that that’s the strategy,” the general said. Having a process to figure out the sequences of steps is essential. “The process tells the president what he should say. When I was working with Obama and Bush,” he continued, “before we took action, we would understand what that action was going to be, we’d have done a Q&A on how we think the international community is going to respond to that action, and we would have discussed how we’d deal with that response.”
To operate outside of an organized process, as Trump tends to, is to reel from crisis to rapprochement to crisis, generating little more than noise. This haphazard approach could lead somewhere good—but it could just as easily start a very big fire.
If the president eschews the process, this general told me, then when a challenging national-security issue arises, he won’t have information at hand about what the cascading effects of pursuing different options might be. “He’s kind of shooting blind.” Military commanders find that disconcerting.
“The process is not a panacea—Bush and Obama sometimes made bad decisions even with all the options in front of them—but it does help.”
Illustration: Paul Spella; Eric Thayer / Reuters

IV. “HE IS REFLEXIVELY CONTRARY”

General H. R. McMaster, who left the White House on reasonably good terms in April 2018 after only 14 months as national security adviser, is about as can-do a professional as you will find. He appeared to take Trump seriously, and tailored his briefings to accommodate the president’s famous impatience, in order to equip him for the weighty decisions the office demands. But Trump resents advice and instruction. He likes to be agreed with. Efforts to broaden his understanding irritate him. McMaster’s tenure was bound to be short. Weeks before accepting his resignation, the president let it be known that he found McMaster’s briefings tedious and the man himself “gruff and condescending.”
Distrusting expertise, Trump has contradicted and disparaged the intelligence community and presided over a dismantling of the State Department. This has meant leaving open ambassadorships around the world, including in countries vital to American interests such as Brazil, Canada, Honduras, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, Russia, and Ukraine. High-level foreign officers, seeing no opportunities for advancement, have been leaving.
“When you lose these diplomats and ambassadors that have all this experience, this language capability, this cultural understanding, that makes things very, very difficult for us,” one of the generals said. “And it leads to poor decisions down the line.”
Trump so resists being led that his instinct is nearly always to upend prevailing opinion.
“He is reflexively contrary,” another of the generals told me.
According to those who worked with him, McMaster avoided giving the president a single consensus option, even when one existed. He has said that he always tried to give the president room to choose. After leaving the White House, he criticized others in the national-security community for taking a different approach, accusing them of withholding information in hopes of steering Trump in the direction they preferred. McMaster has not named names, but he was most likely talking about Mattis and General John Kelly, who, after serving as Trump’s homeland-security secretary, became the president’s second chief of staff. McMaster has said that he considered such an approach tantamount to subverting the Constitution—but if his allegation is true, it shows how poorly equipped those people felt Trump was for the job. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report records numerous instances of civilian advisers trying to manage the president, or simply ignoring presidential directives they deemed ill-advised or illegal.
During his brief tenure on Trump’s staff, McMaster oversaw the production of a broad national-security strategy that sought to codify Trump’s “America first” worldview, placing immigration at the head of national-security concerns, right alongside nuclear proliferation and terrorist attacks. The idea was to build a coherent structure around the president’s scattershot diplomacy. Trump rhapsodized about the document at its unveiling, according to someone who was there, saying, “I love it! I love it! I want to use this all the time.”
He hasn’t. Like its author, the document has been dismissed. Those who were involved in writing it remain convinced, somewhat hopefully, that it is still helping guide policy, but John Bolton, McMaster’s successor, said scornfully—a few months before he, too, was ousted by Trump—that it is filed away somewhere, consulted by no one.
Trump is no more likely to have read the thing than he is to have written his own books. (Years ago, after he published The Art of the Deal, he asked me if I was interested in writing his next book. I declined.) Trying to shape this president’s approach to the world into a cogent philosophy is a fool’s errand. For those commanding America’s armed forces, it’s best to keep binoculars trained on his Twitter feed.

V. HE HAS A SIMPLISTIC AND ANTIQUATED NOTION OF SOLDIERING

Though he disdains expert advice, Trump reveres—perhaps fetishizes—the military. He began his presidency by stacking his administration with generals: Mattis, McMaster, Kelly, and, briefly, Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser. Appointing them so soon after their retirement from the military was a mistake, according to Don Bolduc, a retired brigadier general who is currently running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire. Early on, the biggest difference Bolduc saw between the Trump administration and its predecessors, and one he felt was “going to be disruptive in the long term,” was “the significant reliance, in the Pentagon at least, on senior military leadership overriding and making less relevant our civilian oversight. That was going to be a huge problem. The secretary of defense pretty much surrounded himself with his former Marine comrades, and there was, at least from that group, a distrust of civilians that really negatively affected the Pentagon in terms of policy and strategy in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, by following the same old failed operational approaches.” Trump’s reliance on military solutions is problematic because “there are limits to what the military can solve. I think initially the Trump administration held this idea that general officers somehow have all the answers to everything. I think the president discovered in short order that that’s really not the case.”
Bolduc also pointed out an unusual leadership challenge caused by having a general of McMaster’s rank serve as national security adviser—he did not retire when he assumed the post. “McMaster, for whom I have tremendous respect, came in as a three-star general. Leaving him a three-star forces him on a daily basis to have to engage with four-star generals who see his rank as beneath theirs, even though his position is much more than that.”
The problems posed by Trump’s skewed understanding of the military extend beyond bad decision making to the very culture of our armed forces: He apparently doesn’t think American soldiers accused of war crimes should be prosecuted and punished. In early May, he pardoned former Army Lieutenant Michael Behenna, who had been convicted of murdering an Iraqi prisoner. Two weeks later, he asked the Justice Department to prepare pardon materials for a number of American servicemen and contractors who were charged with murder and desecration of corpses, including Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who stood accused by his own team members of fatally stabbing a teenage ISIS prisoner and shooting unarmed civilians. (He was ultimately acquitted of the murders but convicted of posing for photos with the boy’s body.) Trump subsequently chastised the military attorneys who had prosecuted Gallagher, and directed that medals awarded to them be rescinded. All of the generals agreed that interfering with the military’s efforts to police itself badly undermines command and control. When thousands of young Americans are deployed overseas with heavy weaponry, crimes and atrocities will sometimes occur. Failing to prosecute those who commit them invites behavior that shames everyone in uniform and the nation they serve.
“He doesn’t understand the warrior ethos,” one general said of the president. “The warrior ethos is important because it’s sort of a sacred covenant not just among members of the military profession, but between the profession and the society in whose name we fight and serve. The warrior ethos transcends the laws of war; it governs your behavior. The warrior ethos makes units effective because of the values of trust and self-sacrifice associated with it—but the warrior ethos also makes wars less inhumane and allows our profession to maintain our self-respect and to be respected by others. Man, if the warrior ethos gets misconstrued into ‘Kill them all …’ he said, trailing off. Teaching soldiers about ethical conduct in war is not just about morality: If you treat civilians disrespectfully, you’re working for the enemy! Trump doesn’t understand.”
Having never served or been near a battlefield, several of the generals said, Trump exhibits a simplistic, badly outdated notion of soldiers as supremely “tough”—hard men asked to perform hard and sometimes ugly jobs. He also buys into a severely outdated concept of leadership. The generals, all of whom have led troops in combat, know better than most that war is hard and ugly, but their understanding of “toughness” goes well beyond the gruff stoicism of a John Wayne movie. Good judgment counts more than toughness.
Bolduc said he came up in a military where it was accepted practice for senior leaders to blame their subordinates, lose their temper, pound on desks, and threaten to throw things, and the response to that behavior was “He’s a hard-ass. Right? He’s tough. That is not leadership. You don’t get optimal performance being that way. You get optimal performance by being completely opposite of that.”
Bolduc worries that, under Trump’s command, a return to these antiquated notions of “toughness” will worsen the epidemic of PTSD plaguing soldiers who have served repeated combat tours. Senior military officers have learned much from decades of war—lessons Bolduc said are being discarded by a president whose closest brush with combat has been a movie screen.
The military is hard to change. This is bad, because it can be maddeningly slow to adapt, but also good, because it can withstand poor leadership at the top. In the most crucial areas, the generals said, the military’s experienced leaders have steered Trump away from disaster. So far.
“The hard part,” one general said, “is that he may be president for another five years.”