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

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

The Trump Organization Says It’s ‘Not Practical’ to Comply With the Emoluments Clause
(The Atlantic) The president’s business tells lawmakers it is too difficult to track all its foreign revenue in accordance with constitutional requirements, and it hasn’t asked Congress for a permission slip. (24 May 2017)

Trump Has Figured Out How to Corrupt the Entire Government
By Jonathan Chait
The norm of bureaucratic professionalism and fairness is a pillar of the political legitimacy and economic strength of the American system, the thing that separates countries like the U.S. from countries like Russia. The decay of that culture is difficult to quantify, but the signs are everywhere. Trump’s stench is slowly seeping into every corner of government
(New York) Donald Trump came to the presidency a complete novice to government and often found his corrupt, authoritarian impulses frustrated by its bureaucracy. But he is slowly learning how to control the machine that has stymied him. This is the story of 2019, as Trump has replaced institutionalists attempting to curtail his grossest instincts with loyalists happy to indulge them. It is playing out across multiple dimensions. This is the through-line between several seemingly disconnected episodes from the last several days.
… Increasingly, Republicans are dispensing with the fig leaf and flaunting their complicity. Putting money in Trump’s pocket by booking his properties has become a symbol of partisan solidarity. It is a signal of support both to the president and to fellow Republicans or business clients that you are on the ins with the boss. “President Trump has really been on the side of the Evangelicals and we want to do everything we can to make him successful,” one Evangelical leader tells the Times. “And if that means having dinner or staying in his hotel, we are going to do so.” Aggressive lack of curiosity has given way to open boasting of the quid pro quo arrangement.

30 August – 9 September
Peter Wehner: Trump Is Not Well
Accepting the reality about the president’s disordered personality is important—even essential.
(The Atlantic) Many Americans haven’t yet come to terms with the fact that we elected as president a man who is deeply damaged, an emotional misfit. But it would be helpful if they did.
Among other things, it would keep us feeling less startled and disoriented, less in a state of constant agitation, less susceptible to provocations. Donald Trump thrives on creating chaos, on gaslighting us, on creating antipathy among Americans, on keeping people on edge and off balance. He wants to dominate our every waking hour. We ought not grant him that power over us.
It might also take some of the edge off the hatred many people feel for Trump. Seeing him for what he is—a terribly damaged soul, a broken man, a person with a disordered mind—should not lessen our revulsion at how Trump mistreats others, at his cruelty and dehumanizing actions. Nor should it weaken our resolve to stand up to it. It does complicate the picture just a bit, though, eliciting some pity and sorrow for Trump.

Commerce Chief Threatened Firings at NOAA After Trump’s Dorian Tweets, Sources Say
(NYT) The Trump administration threatened to fire NOAA meteorologists and weather experts if they reported accurately about Hurricane Dorian.  That threat led to an unusual, unsigned statement later that Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration disavowing the office’s own position that Alabama was not at risk. The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew criticism from the scientific community that NOAA, a division of the Commerce Department, had been bent to political purposes.
One of the most bizarre Trump fixations
A brief history of how Trump came up with the false claim that Hurricane Dorian could hit Alabama
(Business Insider) Trump has spent the last several days doubling down on his claim that Hurricane Dorian could strike parts of Alabama, despite the state no longer being in the hurricane’s path at the time he made the claim.
The president’s confusion stemmed from earlier forecasts that showed a slight probability of tropical-storm-force winds affecting Alabama, but Trump has since used his misstatement and the reporting on it to boost his narrative that news media is unfairly attacking him.
The National Hurricane Center corrected the president, who has since used video manipulation and outdated maps marked with Sharpie to support his false claim, within 20 minutes of his initial incorrect tweet on Sunday his claim that “In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”
‘Sharpiegate’: meteorologists upset as weather agency defends Trump’s Alabama claim
Business Insider: President Donald Trump’s aides and confidants are growing more and more worried about his mental state after days of erratic behavior, wild outbursts, and bizarre fixations.
Trump has spent the past several days fixated on his false claim over the weekend that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit Alabama. He has also lobbed attacks at his perceived enemies, like the actress Debra Messing, former FBI Director James Comey, and the “LameStream media.”
“He’s deteriorating in plain sight,” one Republican strategist who is in frequent contact with the White House told Insider on Friday.

6 September
Air Force crew made an odd stop on a routine trip: Trump’s Scottish resort
Now the layover is part of a broader House inquiry into military spending at and around the Trump property.
According to a letter the panel sent to the Pentagon in June, the military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport — the closest airport to Trump Turnberry — since October 2017, fuel that would be cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. The letter also cites a Guardian report that the airport provided cut-rate rooms and free rounds of golf at Turnberry for U.S. military members.
Taken together, the incidents raise the possibility that the military has helped keep Trump’s Turnberry resort afloat — the property lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018.

3 September
Trump Invites Pence to Stay at His Place—Then Hands Taxpayers the Bill
“Trump’s actions in driving business to his properties may or may not be legal, but they are undeniably scandalous,” argues David A. Graham of The Atlantic
The president suggested that Vice President Mike Pence and his retinue spend tens of thousands of dollars at his golf resort in Ireland. Conversations about the ways Trump has used the presidency to benefit himself often bog down in obscure discussions about the Emoluments Clause, standing, and other legal arcana. The Doonbeg example is comparatively simple, though: Trump is using government travel to line his own pockets.

10 August
David Frum: The Shame and Disgrace Will Linger
On Saturday, President Trump spread a conspiracy theory accusing the Clintons of murdering Jeffrey Epstein
Trump is steering the U.S. and the world into a trade war, and perhaps a financial crisis and recession along with it. He is wrecking the structure of U.S. alliances in Asia, and his rhetoric is inciting shooting rampages against minorities. Compared with that, mere slurs and insults perhaps weigh lighter in the crushing Dumpster-load of Trump’s output of unfitness for the office he holds. … this presidency shames and disgraces the office every minute of every hour of every day. And even when it ends, however it ends, the shame will stain it still.

9 August
New data makes it clear: Nonvoters handed Trump the presidency
On Thursday, though, Pew Research Center released an unusually robust survey of the 2016 electorate. In addition to having asked people how they voted, Pew’s team verified that they did, giving us a picture not only of the electorate but also of those who didn’t vote. There are a number of interesting details that emerge from that research, including a breakdown of President Trump’s support that confirms much of his base has backed him enthusiastically since the Republican primaries. As we noted shortly after the election, about 30 percent of Americans were eligible to vote but decided not to, a higher percentage than the portion of the country who voted for either Trump or his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Pew’s data shows that almost half of the nonvoters were nonwhite and two-thirds were under age 50. More than half of those who didn’t vote earned less than $30,000 a year; more than half of those who did vote were over age 50.

5 August
Trump’s speech was like a hostage video
Video games did not invent hateful ideologies. The rush to blame them for mass shootings is a pathetic evasion of the truth, argues Alyssa Rosenberg.
(WaPo) If Trump was truly concerned about the violence his rhetoric unleashed, he would apologize, and then try to do what he could to make sure stuff like this doesn’t happen again. He would, for instance, call for expanded gun control. But no. The rest of the speech was the same warmed-over pablum we always hear from the right after a mass shooting. Trump was slightly more animated as he pushed the canard that mass shootings could be solved by doing “a better job of identifying and acting on early warning signs” and discussed “grisly video games” and called for a reform of “mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence.”

30 July
Greg Sargent: Trump’s hidden enablers are corrupting our country
(WaPo) A major political battle is taking shape, and at its core is a key question: Can President Trump and his loyalists continue to organize large swaths of the government around the single, overarching goal of shielding his corruption, misconduct and wrongdoing from any and all accountability?
Trump says he is ‘the least racist person’ in the world
(PBS) “African American people love the job I’m doing because I’m working for them. I’m not working for the politicians,” Trump said. The latest Gallup polling shows Trump’s approval rating among African Americans is around 8 percent, and has hovered in the low teens for much of his presidency.
Trump was on his way to Jamestown, Virginia, to speak at the 400th anniversary of the first representative assembly in the Western Hemisphere.
Black legislators planned to boycott the event because of Trump’s recent comments against minority lawmakers.

29 July
Misleading headline and poorly edited
Yale psychiatrist explains why Trump loves autocrats for their ‘cruelty’
(Raw Story) Raw Story spoke with Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist and an expert on violence at Yale School of Medicine.
Last week, she and her coauthors presented their mental health analysis of the Mueller report in a national online town hall as well as unveiled five critical questions that arose out of their analysis (for more information, visit: dangerouscase.org). … “Dan Coats’ departure should be a clear signal about the serious state of our national security. One such resignation is a red flag, but now he is one of the last among Donald Trump’s original security staff. Patterns are difficult to deny: Mr. Trump has shown little room to concern himself with national security but has many overriding concerns that will rather place it at risk.”

21 July
Robert Reich: Of course Donald Trump is a racist – and his Wall Street enablers know it
Jamie Dimon and other big-earning CEOs are bankrolling the Republican assault on America. They must work to stop it
(The Guardian) The real question is whether the people bankrolling Trump and the Republican party are going to stop this rot before it consumes the politics of 2020, and perhaps more. Early signs are not encouraging. Just before Trump’s North Carolina rally, the Republican National Committee released an ad attacking the “Squad”, as the four congresswomen have become known. … Much of the money that’s flowing into Republican coffers is coming from the same place it’s always come from: Wall Street. Last year, JP Morgan contributed $149,908 to the RNC. … Wall Street and the CEOs of major corporations have made a hellish deal – ignore Trump’s repugnance and provide ongoing support for the GOP regardless of its complicity in return for high returns. Perhaps they also believe that the flames of racism and xenophobia will distract the nation sufficiently for them to continue looting it.
It just gets worse and worse!
Trump Blasts Washington Post for Story About Racist Tweets: “Presidential Harassment!”
(Slate) President Donald Trump devoted some of his Sunday morning to launching a new attack against the Washington Post, accusing the paper of being involved in “Presidential Harassment!” What did the paper do? Write a long, deeply reported story about the president’s racist tweets and his North Carolina rally where supporters chanted “send her back” while he was attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar.
‘He always doubles down’: Inside the political crisis caused by Trump’s racist tweets
(WaPo) President Trump’s own top aides didn’t think he fully understood what he had done last Sunday, when he fired off a trio of racist tweets before a trip to his golf course.
… The Democratic lawmakers — Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) — were good foils, he had told his advisers, including campaign manager Brad Parscale. The president said he thought he was interjecting himself into Democratic Party politics in a good way.
As is often the case, Trump acted alone — impulsively following his gut to the dark side of American politics, and now the country would have to pick up the pieces. … Over the coming days, dozens of friends, advisers and political allies would work behind the scenes to try to fix the mess without any public admission of error because that was not the Trump way.

19 July

Millions of Americans Believe God Made Trump President
(Politico) From early in Trump’s presidential candidacy, his biggest religious supporters—indeed, his only religious supporters for a while—were charismatic Christians like pastors Paula White and Darrell Scott. They were drawn to Trump, and he to them, because of their embrace of the prosperity gospel. Also sometimes referred to as “health and wealth” theology, this belief holds that God rewards faith with good health and financial success. By those very simple metrics, a billionaire like Donald Trump, whether his fortune came from family, scams or a higher power, must be a very faithful man.
Other religious conservatives…supported Trump in 2016 for reasons familiar to any Fox News viewer: a fear of globalism, the deep state, George Soros the former Nazi collaborator, wide-scale election fraud. They liked Trump because he said he liked them, told them they were persecuted, and vowed to stand up for them. He said he would bring back “Merry Christmas.” He told them they were important.
But there were other, more spiritual reasons as well. Strang outlines a string of charismatics who had visions—or who now retroactively claim to have had visions—that Trump would one day win the White House. (27 January 2018)

18 July
Trump Supporters Don’t Make Chants About Men
(The Atlantic) There was a troubling sense of déjà vu, then, when the crowd at Trump’s rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Wednesday trained their eyes on Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, chanting “Send her back!” in a play on Trump’s own words from a few days before. It was an evolution, an even darker version of the invective against Clinton—where the president’s supporters once called for a female opponent’s imprisonment, now they are longing for another to be literally banished from the country. The episode prompts urgent questions not only about what Omar can expect as Trump’s 2020 campaign ramps up, but also about what Trump’s eventual challenger, if it’s a woman, can anticipate as well.
Where the president’s fans once called for a female opponent’s imprisonment, now they are longing for another woman to be literally banished from the country.
‘It Makes Us Want to Support Him More’
Amid a convulsive week in American politics, at one of the darkest rallies Donald Trump has ever held, his base showed up in force to tell the president he’s done nothing wrong.
“Send her back!” could well prove just the beginning of a campaign against Omar and her progressive female colleagues as a group. To remember the lessons of “Lock her up!” is to remember that, with Trump, a tidy three-word chant is unlikely to sound just once. … This history could foreshadow an anxious, if not dangerous, election cycle for the Democratic nominee. With an unprecedented number of women running for president, the likelihood of a woman winning the party’s nomination is higher than in previous elections. If the chants against Clinton and Omar do, indeed, suggest a pattern when it comes to Trump’s female opponents, it’s not difficult to imagine what, say, an Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris could have in store for herself.

‘You had the Nobel Prize?’ Trump learns of Yazidi activist Murad
(France24) US President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared unfamiliar with the work and cause of Nobel laureate Nadia Murad as she pleaded with him to help the Yazidis of Iraq.
After Murad explained how her mother and six brothers were killed and that 3,000 Yazidis remained missing, Trump said, “And you had the Nobel Prize? That’s incredible. They gave it to you for what reason?”
The US leader also appeared unfamiliar when he met a representative from the Rohingya, a Muslim minority targeted in a brutal campaign two years ago in Myanmar.
The Trump administration frequently speaks of promoting religious freedom, a key issue for much of his evangelical Christian base.

15 July
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.

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