The 45th President of the U.S. Chapter IV

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The 45th President of the U.S. Chapters I, II & III

Trump Tells America What Kind of Nationalist He Is
In a series of tweets attacking four Democratic congresswomen, the president reiterated his belief that only white people can truly be American.
(The Atlantic) When Trump told these women to “go back,” he was not making a factual claim about where they were born. He was stating his ideological belief that American citizenship is fundamentally racial, that only white people can truly be citizens, and that people of color, immigrants in particular, are only conditionally American. This is a cornerstone of white nationalism, and one of the president’s few closely held ideological beliefs. It is a moral conviction, not a statement of fact. If these women could all trace their family line back to 1776, it would not make them more American than Trump, a descendant of German immigrants whose ancestors arrived relatively recently, because he is white and they are not. …
Trump’s remarks about the representatives followed a week in which he unsuccessfully attempted to overturn a Supreme Court decision that hobbled an administration effort to use the census to expand white voting power. The president’s remarks about Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, and Tlaib are not only consistent with that effort; they provide its moral foundation. Yet the president’s rejoinder that his targets are the real racists will resonate with the voters in his base, the overwhelming majority of whom believe that they are the true victims of discrimination, and who are likely to see criticism of the president’s remarks as an affirmation of their own victimhood.

10 July
Trump’s July Fourth event and weekend protests bankrupted D.C. security fund, mayor says
(WaPo) President Trump’s overhauled July Fourth celebration cost the D.C. government $1.7 million, an amount that — combined with police expenses for demonstrations through the weekend — has bankrupted a special fund used to protect the nation’s capital from terrorist threats and provide security at events such as rallies and state funerals.
In a letter to the president Tuesday, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) warned that the fund has now been depleted and is estimated to be running a $6 million deficit by Sept. 30. The mayor also noted that the account was never reimbursed for $7.3 million in expenses from Trump’s 2017 inauguration.

5 July
As it turned out the 4th of July Salute to America production was not as awful as it could have been.
Producer-in-chief puts on a 4th of July show — with emphasis on the military
With subdued remarks, which touched on everything from the founding of the country to the civil rights movement to America’s ingenuity and its military, the president for the first time in recent history made himself part of Washington, D.C.’s longstanding, non-partisan Independence Day celebration.
There were some questionable historical references, however, and critics seized on a blooper he blamed on rain and faulty teleprompter
The Redcoats Are in a Holding Pattern Over La Guardia
Revolutionary War airports? President Trump revised history in his Fourth of July speech, to the internet’s amusement.
Trump’s Fourth of July history speech: Turns out there weren’t airports back then and the twittersphere went wild (and often wildly funny)
Trump’s Grand Display of Isolation
The view from the VIP tent suggests there are some things the president missed.
By PATRICK GRANFIELD
(Politico) Whatever motives the president had in making himself the center of attention on a day dedicated to the nation’s independence, the event became a testament—unintended, but evident to anyone there—to his isolation. When the president craves a crowd, or believes he needs one to demonstrate his popularity, he calls on America’s service members. Unless what he asks for is immoral or illegal, they have to answer.
A sizable crowd came to the Mall of their own volition as well. But this was intended as a national spectacle, and who was watching? With none of the major television networks covering it and most Americans presumably enjoying festivities in their own backyards and neighborhoods, the president was speaking largely to himself, the main character in a play staged at his own command, deeply and publicly alone

3 July
Trump’s Fourth of July is a bad imitation of Bastille Day
Bastille Day was Trump’s inspiration, but he seems to have confused that event with the Soviet-style military parades now parroted by authoritarian leaders from China to North Korea. His objective isn’t to celebrate the U.S. presence on the world stage, tip a hat to allies and celebrate the nation’s rich democratic history. Rather, it’s to show off a “new” America unencumbered by what he sees as a bygone commitment to the international order and the civic values it represents. Trump may have watched the French parade, but he failed to look past its shiny military surface.
(WaPo) … the contemporary parade celebrates not just the fall of the Bastille but the sweeping, anti-monarchist victory that followed a century later, in the crucial 1880 elections. The left-wing National Assembly that emerged from that vote declared July 14 a national holiday to honor citizens’ empowerment; a military side of the parade was revived to showcase France’s pledge to regain the territories it lost to Germany in 1871.
France’s annual event has a decidedly international flavor that Trump would be hard-pressed to embrace. It has included troops from around the world, and not only from French territories or former colonies but also India, Mexico, Singapore and Japan — plus delegations from international organizations, including the United Nations. French soldiers have in past years brandished the European Union flag, honoring allies and advertising a commitment to international institutions. It’s about France, but also about its role in the world. And it’s meant to proudly champion the values of the liberal international order on which Emmanuel Macron has staked his presidency, and which Trump has so brazenly sought to destroy.

1 July
Trump Says Tanks Will Be on Display in Washington for July 4
(NYT) Mr. Trump’s Fourth of July homage to the military sets up a cultural clash between the Republican president and a mostly Democratic city that has for decades celebrated America’s independence with almost no public participation by presidents of either party. The City Council for the District of Columbia, which was not happy with Mr. Trump’s decision, posted on Twitter that “we have said it before, and we’ll say it again: Tanks, but no tanks.”

17 June
Trump’s Abuse of Executive Privilege Is More Than a Present Danger
He’s making it harder for future presidents to govern.
By Neal K. Katyal, law professor at Georgetown
(NYT) Americans can tolerate some secrecy, particularly when it is rooted in protection of the public’s interests. But when the claims appear to hide wrongdoing, they begin to curdle. Instead of safeguarding high-minded principles, the claims look personal, and more like something a king would do. And that is just about what Mr. Trump’s latest invocations look like.
In the teeth of a redacted report that all but labels Mr. Trump a criminal, the president’s claim to try to block the full Mueller report from coming out looks like he is trying to shield evidence of his wrongdoing. The report says: “Substantial evidence indicates that the president’s attempts to remove the special counsel were linked to the special counsel’s oversight of investigations that involved the president’s conduct — and, most immediately, to reports that the president was being investigated for potential obstruction of justice.”

13 June
Forget “No Collusion.” Trump Is Now Pro-Collusion
There is no such thing as an outrage-free week anymore.
(New Yorker) On Wednesday, President Trump offered us a particularly stunning example of this new political reality, telling the ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos that he would welcome foreign interference in an election and probably wouldn’t bother to tell the F.B.I. about any outside governments bringing him dirt on his opponent. On Thursday, he doubled down on this position, arguing, in effect, that accepting help from Vladimir Putin would be no different from dining with the Queen of England and the “Prince of Whales,” as he put it in a tweet. Trump, instead of proclaiming “no collusion,” now seemed to be announcing that he is pro-collusion. It didn’t take long for commentators to wonder about his strategy here as much as about his poor spelling: Does the President actually want Congress to impeach him?

Trump Can’t Stop Lying About His Unpopularity
(New York) Donald J. Trump did not invent the art of political spinning. But he has perhaps raised it to an infernally high standard of sheer mendacity in his determination to attack any information suggesting he is anything other than the most wildly successful and popular politician since Pericles. That means, among other troubling things, that he is engaged in a perpetual war against the scientific measurement of public opinion.

7 June
Trump Hijacks the 4th of July
The president decided that the one thing missing from the capital’s celebration was himself.
Apparently underwhelmed by the way the nation’s capital has celebrated in years past — key events include the National Independence Day Parade down Constitution Avenue, a free concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol and fireworks over the National Mall — President Trump is injecting himself into the celebration. While details are still being hammered out, the administration has been working for months on plans for the president to deliver an address from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Presidents from both parties have grasped that this ode to America is not about them or their agendas — or even their own personal patriotism.
Mr. Trump, by contrast, cares not at all about public unity. His political career is premised on stoking the nation’s divisions. And his vision of patriotism is heavily wrapped up in ostentatious displays of hard power. Remember his failed efforts to organize a military parade down the streets of Washington?

6 June
Trump family’s European trip raises questions of impropriety, costs for taxpayers
As the president has hopscotched on official duties between three European nations this week, his four adult children have been prominently involved in many high-profile moments.
Tim O’Brien, author of Trump biography “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald,” said the president is potentially trying to set his children up for political futures of their own.
“Donald Trump’s entire experience — as a business person in the world and as a resident of New York growing up in his own father’s business — was that you acquired relationships, and money and success through access,” O’Brien said. “And he’s giving his children all of the advantage of access that he can as president of the United States.”
Dana Milbank:For D-Day, Trump recalls the heroism of … Donald Trump

5 June
Trump visit avoids major pitfalls despite usual blunders
He insulted London’s mayor, abused an American actor on Twitter at 1.20am, turned Brexit into a threat to the National Health Service, described Meghan Markle as nasty, and behaved as if he was a kingmaker offering audiences to aspirants from the 51st state, and yet to Whitehall’s diplomats Donald Trump’s state visit was by no means the worst in living memory.
True, Trump blundered by saying the NHS would be “on the table” in any “phenomenal” trade deal – and it is extraordinary that even the current caretaker Downing Street operation was unable to warn him off such a rookie error after the US ambassador in London, Woody Johnson, made exactly the same mistake three days earlier.

3 June
Dana Milbank: Americans must accept that none of these things ever happened
I believe President Trump when he says “I never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty.’ ” I believe him even though Britain’s Sun newspaper published an interview with Trump the day before in which he referred to the Duchess of Sussex with that very word — and even though the Sun has a recording.
Likewise, I believed Trump when he visited Britain last year and said “I didn’t criticize the prime minister” – even though the Sun also had a recorded interview of him that time, criticizing Prime Minister Theresa May.
And I am fully prepared to believe Trump tomorrow if he says “I never called Sadiq Khan a ‘stone cold loser’ ” — even though Trump, landing in Britain on Monday, called the London mayor just that in a tweet that misspelled Khan’s name and also mocked him for being short.
I believe all this and more because the alternative is unthinkable: that our great nation inflicted on the world a president who is, well, a stone cold loser, boorish and ignorant.
Therefore I plan to do as Trump does: live today as if yesterday never happened. But it’s not enough to imagine away this week’s name-calling. To preserve national dignity, Americans must accept that none of the following ever happened:
… Fortunately, it has all been a misunderstanding. For if an American president had actually done even a fraction of the above, it would be an indelible national disgrace.

30 May
John McCain and Trump’s Narcissism: A Clash at Sea
The White House coddles the president, even by disparaging a warship, its crew and a Navy hero.
By Michelle Cottle
(NYT) During his trip to Japan this week, President Trump was given a tour of the Yokosuka Naval Base. In preparation for his visit on Tuesday, the White House had requested that the Navy hide the U.S.S. John S. McCain, a destroyer bearing the name of the senator and Trump nemesis who died last August. Sailors aboard the ship were given the day off and, unlike colleagues from other vessels, pointedly not invited to attend Mr. Trump’s speech aboard another warship. Sailors from the McCain who showed up anyway, with the ship’s name on their uniforms or caps, were turned away.

28 May
The Trump administration takes climate denial to new heights
(WaPo) Fifty or 100 years from now, we may well say that President Trump’s concerted effort to exacerbate climate change — and that’s precisely what it is — was the single worst thing he did in a presidency full of horrors. A new report from the New York Times gives new details about just how diabolical his administration’s actions have been.
… Though it’s true that the president used to believe that climate change is a hoax concocted by the Chinese and now takes a denialist position that is only slightly less deranged (“Something’s changing, and it’ll change back again”), it’s not like he cares so deeply about this issue that he’d be demanding this kind of full-bore assault on every shred of climate-science integrity in the federal government if the people he appointed weren’t pushing in that direction. It’s not that he objects, but I’d guess that he’s only vaguely aware of the particulars of what’s going on in his administration on this issue.
Outside of a couple of issues including trade and immigration, Trump has almost no interest in the details of policy. Combine that with his intense focus on appealing to only his base, and the fact that working for Trump necessarily entails a substantial risk to one’s reputation.
The result is that the Trump administration is overwhelmingly staffed with two kinds of people: grifters who see in Trump a model for their own corrupt ambitions, and extremist ideologues who see in his indifference to policy an opportunity to indulge their wildest fantasies of swinging the United States in a retrograde direction.
A different Republican president might at least impose some guardrails on this war on science, if for no other reason than to pretend for political purposes that they cared about the fate of the Earth. But precisely because he doesn’t much care what most of the federal government does, Trump is letting the radicals he appointed run wild.

24 May
Trump Staff Dreads Traveling Overseas With Toddler President
(New York) The good news is that, if you can arrange to let Trump have his favorite food, his favorite television stations, and surround him with people who will talk incessantly about how much they love Trump, then the visit will be fine, until you get back to the plane and Trump starts to get upset at cable news again.

21 May
Delicious irony
 Trump Appeal Now Goes To Court Headed By Merrick Garland
“We will be filing a timely notice of appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Trump attorney Jay Sekulow told Politico.
The current chief judge there is Merrick Garland, whom President Barack Obama nominated to the Supreme Court in 2016 after Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died.

20 May
Trump loses lawsuit challenging subpoena for financial records
(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Monday ruled in favor of a U.S. House of Representatives committee seeking President Donald Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm, dealing an early setback to the Trump administration in its legal battle with Congress.

19 May
Laying out the obstruction of justice case against President Trump
(Brookings) The first federal statute defining obstruction of justice was passed in 1831 and several have been added over the years to criminalize such conduct. Today, the authors argue, “President Trump faces the possibility of criminal liability for obstructing justice under three different theories.” The first is the obstruction of a proceeding such as congressional proceeding or a grand jury proceeding. The second is witness intimidation, and the third is conspiracy. (August 2018)
The President and His Power to Pardon
Donald Trump’s use of executive clemency may be lawful, but it is in no way normal.
(NYT editorial board) in his more than two years in office, Donald Trump has found ways to wield or dangle the pardon power in a manner that departs from any established practice and even calls into question the principles of justice that undergird it.
The full pardons of Conrad Black, a wealthy friend of Mr. Trump’s who has written charitably about him, and Patrick Nolan, a former Republican Assembly leader from California who has criticized aspects of the Russia investigation, are the latest examples in what seems to be a new trend in presidential clemency: mercy for lawbreakers in the mold of disgraced politicians, media personalities and political allies who have flattered, defended or curried favor with the president.
Then came news that the president may mark this Memorial Day with pardons for outlaws in a category all their own — war criminals. The Times reported on Saturday that Mr. Trump has asked the Justice Department’s pardon unit to begin processing paperwork for what could be serial pardons for service members accused or convicted of war crimes. This month, Mr. Trump already pardoned Michael Behenna, a former Army lieutenant who was court-martialed and convicted of killing a detained Iraqi man whom he was interrogating. The American Civil Liberties Union said the pardon represented “a presidential endorsement of murder.”

18 May
(Politico Playbook) THE 2020 SPLIT SCREEN THE GOP IS DEALING WITH — “Abortion Fight or Strong Economy? For G.O.P., Cultural Issues Undercut 2020 Message,” by NYT’s Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns: “The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, companies are adding jobs and the gross domestic product grew by 3.2 percent in the first quarter, undercutting predictions of a coming recession. Yet for all that political upside, Republicans demonstrated repeatedly last week that they were not positioning themselves to wage the 2020 election over the strength of the economy. President Trump and his top advisers sent mixed signals about a possible war with Iran.
“Mr. Trump outlined a hard-line immigration proposal that had little chance of passing, but refocused attention on the most incendiary issue of his presidency. His drumbeat about tariffs on China sent the stock market gyrating. And in Alabama, the Republican governor signed a bill that would effectively ban abortion … And the longstanding verity that Americans vote with their pocketbooks may be tested in 2020 like never before.” NYT

17 May
Eric H. Sussman: I prosecuted Conrad Black — and this presidential pardon is a mockery of justice
The pardon of Conrad Black doesn’t simply represent the victory of greed, power and wealth over bedrock principles of justice, it is an open and unapologetic celebration of this victory. As a spectator to this colossal defeat of justice, I am saddened.
A Trump administration source poured cold water on a report that Derek Kan is being considered for the Fed board
Filling the open Board of Governors seats has been an uphill battle for Trump, whose previous two picks faced scrutiny from bipartisan economists and lawmakers.
In April, former pizza-chain executive Herman Cain withdrew his name from consideration after renewed concern over series of sexual-harassment accusations that surfaced during his failed presidential bid in 2012.
Stephen Moore, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of the Fed, withdrew weeks later when key Republican lawmakers indicated they wouldn’t support his nomination. Moore had made denigrating comments about women in past writings, saying they should not make as much money as men and there should only be attractive referees and sports reporters.

4 April
Trump’s next possible Fed nominee can’t understand basic policy issues
By Catherine Rampell
(WaPo) …if President Trump actually nominates his friend Herman Cain, the former pizza magnate turned failed Republican presidential candidate, to the Federal Reserve Board, as Trump said he plans to do.
Cain would be Trump’s second proposed addition to the Fed in as many weeks, the other being longtime partisan operative Stephen Moore.
For other executive branch appointments, Trump seems to have selected nominees based on who would be the absolute worst person for any given position. But until recently, his Fed choices seemed . . . totally reasonable. He has picked four out of the five already-confirmed Fed board members, all of whom are competent, well-qualified professionals — all reliable Republicans, too, but Republicans who have performed their jobs apolitically. Exactly as members of the central bank, which is politically independent, are supposed to do.

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