JWG via DTN 15 January 2023 JT and Rae have been reading the tar baby saga and are trying hard…
Donald Trump February 2021-August 2022
Lindsey Graham’s vile ‘riots’ threat gives away Trump’s game
By Greg Sargent
(WaPo) “If there’s a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham on Fox News, there will be “riots in the streets.”
The South Carolina Republican’s quote has been relentlessly skewered as a blatant threat of retaliatory political violence ever since he offered it Sunday night. …
But there’s a more pernicious danger here that shouldn’t escape notice. Underlying Graham’s threat is another attack on the rule of law, one that more Trump propagandists will resort to when their man’s legal perils deepen. It’s an effort to discredit the idea that the law can be applied to the former president at all.
…if we can’t acknowledge it forthrightly when one set of facts justifies prosecution and another set of facts does not — if law enforcement must reach equivalent prosecution decisions regardless of what the facts dictate, simply because the two cases involve opposing politicians — that itself makes a mockery of the rule of law.
Graham predicts ‘riots in the streets’ if Trump prosecuted over classified docs
Trump, Without the Presidency’s Protections, Struggles for a Strategy
Facing serious legal peril in the documents investigation, the former president has turned to his old playbook of painting himself as persecuted amid legal and political stumbles.
The Grifter in Chief’s Dangerous Game
Donald Trump has transformed the F.B.I.’s search of his Mar-a-Lago home from a potentially debilitating scandal into a political bonanza — one that threatens to further divide a twitchy, polarized nation.
His formula for this alchemy? The usual: playing on existing grievances among his followers — in this case, the right’s bone-deep suspicion and resentment of federal authority. …
Responsible political leaders work to lessen these kinds of tensions for the good of the nation. Mr. Trump cares nothing about that. He has spent years working to delegitimize the entire Department of Justice, claiming political persecution by the deep state to advance his own ambitions.
The G.O.P. may fancy itself the party of law and order, but Mr. Trump has endeavored to redefine which laws matter and what kind of order is legitimate. Short answer: only ones that ensure he comes out on top. It is the ultimate grift, and one that grows ever more dangerous.
Trump Is Completely Innocent, Argues Fellow Criminal
[Conrad] Black, a convicted criminal who served time for fraud and obstruction of justice before Trump pardoned him, has more reason to empathize with and feel gratitude toward Trump than perhaps any other Trump supporter. (Trump has enjoyed an outpouring of support from his base of criminal friends.) Indeed, Black’s experience as both a fellow convicted offender and a recipient of Trump’s favor is the most relevant credential he possesses to comment on the case. Alas, the column fails to mention either his conviction or Trump’s pardon.
Agents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago seized 11 sets of classified documents, court filing shows
Search warrant unsealed Friday lists potential crimes including mishandling defense information and destruction of records
(WaPo) One set of documents is listed as “Various classified TS/SCI documents,” a reference to top secret/sensitive compartmented information, a highly classified category of government secrets, in addition to the four sets of top-secret papers. Agents also took three sets of documents classified as secret, and three sets of papers classified as confidential — the lowest level of classification.
Top-Secret Documents Found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago: Everything We’ve Learned
(New York) On Friday, the warrant used for the search was unsealed after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a day earlier that the Justice Department had filed a motion in court to do so. … The search was related to potential violations of three laws, including the Espionage Act: One of the laws concerns the “concealment, removal or mutilation” of classified materials, the second concerns “gathering, transmitting or losing” materials, and a third pertains to obstructing an investigation into these matters. The Espionage Act, which governs classified information whose release could harm national security, has been used to prosecute both foreign spies and domestic leakers
Ian Bremmer: 5 key takeaways from the FBI search of Trump’s home
What the historic raid of Mar-a-Lago could mean for Trump, elections, and the health of American democracy.
1. This is unprecedented.
2. There must have been strong probable cause for the raid
3. Republican charges of “witch hunt” are nothing more than partisan BS.
4. This is going to strengthen Trump politically within the GOP.
5. This is going to damage American democracy.
Trust in our legal and judicial institutions has been eroding for a long time. But the Republican impetus to delegitimize this incident and any investigations of Trump as inappropriate partisan witch hunts further undermines the rule of law. This will make the upcoming midterm elections uglier and raises the odds of civil unrest or a dangerous constitutional crisis in 2024. It also all but ensures that a likely Republican House majority will focus on partisan investigations of the DOJ, White House, and Biden family above all else.
Heather Cox Richardson August 9, 2022
Tonight, Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) told Fox News Channel personality Laura Ingraham that 12 Republican members of the House of Representatives met with Trump tonight, told him they stand with him, and urged him to run for president in 2024. They want to see Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker of the house and Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) as chair of the Judiciary Committee.
F.B.I. Search of Trump’s Home Pushes Long Conflict Into Public View
(NYT) Justice Department officials were worried that the former president had not fully complied with requests to return material taken from the White House that included possible classified information.
The Mar-a-Lago Raid Proves the U.S. Isn’t a Banana Republic
A bedrock principle is that no one—not even the president, much less the former president—is above the law, and if they commit crimes, they must answer for them.
By David A. Graham
(The Atlantic) Trump was always more banana republican than Reagan or Lincoln Republican. Unlike his presidential predecessors, and despite his open disdain for Latin America and Latin Americans, he often styled himself as a sort of caudillo, trying to rule with an iron fist, circumvent the Constitution and legislature, enlist the military into his schemes, and use the power of the state to further his own electoral and personal fortunes.
In a real banana republic, he might have hoped to live with impunity—as long as he could outwit his political opponents’ schemes. Instead, Trump has found himself beset on many sides. He was impeached, a second time, after leaving office; a district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, continues to investigate his meddling in vote-counting after the election; the New York attorney general is investigating his company, and will soon depose him; and a House committee is probing his attempt to overturn the election and pressuring the Justice Department to bring charges against him related to that. (The DOJ has refused to comment on any related investigations.)
F.B.I. Searches Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Residence in Florida
The former president called the search an “assault” and complained that the authorities had broken into a safe. The news appeared to come as a surprise to top aides at the White House.
(NYT) The search, according to multiple people familiar with the investigation, appeared to be focused on material that Mr. Trump had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence, when he left the White House. Those boxes contained many pages of classified documents, according to a person familiar with their contents.
Over the past year and a half, Mr. Trump has repeatedly faced questions about the nature of documents he turned over to the government, as well as others he kept after leaving office that by law were required to be handed over to the National Archives and Records Administration.
What We Do and Don’t Know About the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago Search
(Lawfare) A warrant requires probable cause that criminal activity has taken place or is taking place. Any time the government is willing to go before a federal court and persuade a judge that criminal activity justifies a search of the former president’s residence, it’s a very big deal. It’s such a big deal, in fact, that it has never happened before.
The problem is that, right now, we don’t know what kind of big deal it is. We actually don’t even know for sure whether the investigation is focused on the behavior of Trump himself, though it’s a reasonable assumption that it is.
Trump solicits donations after FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home
(Reuters) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday tried to turn the news that the FBI had searched his Florida estate to his benefit, citing the investigation in text messages and emails soliciting political donations from his supporters.
Convicted Felons Are Leaping to Trump’s Defense
(New York) As Republican Party leaders jumped to the former president’s defense with a Cosa Nostra–like zeal, a line-up of actual criminals expressed outrage that the same authorities that nailed them would go after him. (Perhaps not coincidentally, several of them were granted mercy by Trump before he left the White House.) Here’s the running list so far.
Trump likely to be criminally charged in DOJ election probe along with other former White House officials, Obama AG Holder says
Former President Donald Trump “probably” will be indicted on criminal charges along with former White House officials as part of a Justice Department investigation of efforts to reverse the 2020 election results nationally, ex-Attorney General Eric Holder said.
But Holder suggested Trump is more likely to first face possible criminal charges from a Georgia prosecutor investigating Trump and allies for attempts to undo President Joe Biden’s win there.
“I expect you’re going to see the pace of this investigation or these investigations pick up,” Holder said.
Justice Dept. investigating Trump’s actions in Jan. 6 criminal probe
People familiar with the probe said investigators are examining the former president’s conversations and have seized phone records of top aides
(WaPo) Prosecutors who are questioning witnesses before a grand jury — including two top aides to Vice President Mike Pence — have asked in recent days about conversations with Trump, his lawyers, and others in his inner circle who sought to substitute Trump allies for certified electors from some states Joe Biden won, according to two people familiar with the matter. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
… Some of the questions focused directly on the extent of Trump’s involvement in the fake-elector effort led by his outside lawyers, including John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, these people said.
The Washington Post and other news organizations have previously written that the Justice Department is examining the conduct of Eastman, Giuliani and others in Trump’s orbit. But the degree of prosecutors’ interest in Trump’s actions has not been previously reported, nor has the review of senior Trump aides’ phone records.
Jennifer Rubin: More Republicans are dumping Trump. But the GOP still imperils democracy.
No one can say the House Jan. 6 select committee has had no effect on the right wing. In reaction to the committee’s hearings, the right-wing editorial boards of the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal (both Rupert Murdoch publications) have decided Donald Trump is a menace to America. The New York Post rejected him as a 2024 candidate, and the Journal said Trump “utterly failed” to perform his duties as chief executive.
One explanation of their sudden change of heart is expediency. They — like many GOP donors and an increasing segment of Republicans — have become disgusted with the drama and are nervous that having led an insurrection might be a disadvantage for the presidential nominee in 2024.
Ian Bremmer: Has the Jan. 6 committee killed Trump’s 2024 chances?
No, but it has certainly hurt them.
Ivana Trump, Ex-Wife of Donald Trump and Businesswoman, Dies at 73
She helped build his real estate empire, though she was better known for being one half of the quintessential 1980s power couple.
Heather Cox Richardson July 14, 2022
Trump and his children Don Jr. and Ivanka were scheduled to testify under oath tomorrow in New York City in the New York attorney general’s investigation into the Trump Organization’s business practices, but that testimony will be put off because of the death today of Ivana Trump, Trump’s first wife and mother of his three eldest children. Ivana Trump, 73, was found dead at the foot of a stairway. Trump announced her death on his social media network, calling her “a wonderful, beautiful, and amazing woman, who led a great and inspirational life.”
At the bottom of the announcement was a button to donate to Trump’s political action committee.
Ivana Trump’s death ruled accidental by medical examiner
Without Ivana, There’s No ‘The Donald’
The future president of the United States wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without a driven Czech model.
(Politico) Ivana would prove to be far more than a trophy wife; she was, as Donald put it, “his twin as a woman,” and she would play a crucial role in creating the image of him as the ultimate dealmaker and the Trump brand as the emblem of the best of the best.
The People v. Donald Trump
The evidence for a possible criminal case against the former president is piling up.
By David French
(The Atlantic) As the investigation continues, the possibilities for prosecuting Trump are expanding. In addition to the Georgia investigation, the January 6 committee has produced evidence bolstering the case that Trump incited the violent attack on the Capitol. He was already in direct legal jeopardy in Georgia. Now we can add federal court in Washington, D.C., to the list of places where Trump faces the possibility of a serious and credible criminal case.
Trump fatigue sets in: ‘Some donors are getting sick of the sh–show’
Few, if any, conservatives are turning on the former president. But they’re tiring of the drama. At least for now.
Trump, the man most responsible for ending Roe, worries that it could hurt his party.
(NYT) The end of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling was the culmination of decades of work by Republicans and social conservatives — one that came to pass only after a thrice-married former Democrat from New York who had once supported abortion rights helped muscle through three Supreme Court justices.
Publicly, former President Donald J. Trump heralded the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday ending federal abortion protections as a victory. Yet, as he faces possible prosecution over his efforts to subvert the 2020 election and prepares for a likely 2024 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump has privately told friends and advisers the ruling will be “bad for Republicans.”
When a draft copy of the decision leaked in May, Mr. Trump began telling friends and advisers that it would anger suburban women, a group who helped tilt the 2020 race to President Biden, and would lead to a backlash against Republicans in the November midterm elections.
While Mr. Trump had stayed quiet on the issue in recent weeks, people close to him anticipate he will become more vocal as he watches how clearly his right-wing base responds and how easily he can point to it as something that he made happen. His advisers believe he can highlight the issue as he faces potential Republican challengers and sees signs that his own political base has moved further to the right on vaccines and other issues.
5 Takeaways From the First Jan. 6 Hearing
Ms. Cheney, whose insistence on condemning Mr. Trump and participation in the investigation have rendered her a pariah in her own party, said the case the panel would make would taint Republicans indelibly.
“Tonight I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible,” she said. “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”
Trump was at the center of the plot.
Key figures around Trump never believed his lie of a stolen election.
A Capitol Police officer who battled the rioters humanized the drama.
The Proud Boys mounted an organized effort.
There is more to come on the role of Trump and Republicans
Woodward and Bernstein thought Nixon defined corruption. Then came Trump.
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward are co-authors of “All the President’s Men” and “The Final Days.” The article [below] appears as a new foreword to the 50th anniversary edition of “All the President’s Men.”
Donald Trump not only sought to destroy the electoral system through false claims of voter fraud and unprecedented public intimidation of state election officials, but he also then attempted to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to his duly elected successor, for the first time in American history.
In a deception that exceeded even Nixon’s imagination, Trump and a group of lawyers, loyalists and White House aides devised a strategy to bombard the country with false assertions that the 2020 election was rigged and that Trump had really won. They zeroed in on the Jan. 6 session as the opportunity to overturn the election’s result.
… By legal definition this is clearly sedition — conduct, speech or organizing that incites people to rebel against the governing authority of the state. Thus, Trump became the first seditious president in our history.
Trump’s endorsement stumper: Family friends or fierce ally
He hasn’t picked sides as Republicans Andrew Giuliani, Lee Zeldin and others compete for the Republican nomination for governor of New York.
As Trump looks to play kingmaker across the country by boosting GOP candidates with his coveted endorsement among GOP candidates, perhaps no race is as personal and as vexing for him as the Republican primary in New York — a battle that will test Trump’s loyalties and friendships.
Inside the Forecast: Trump’s endorsement record, explained
Politico’s Steve Shepard demystifies this week’s election data in a video series.
The former president has elevated candidates like J.D. Vance in Ohio to once-unlikely victories — but he’s also had some major whiffs, like Perdue in Georgia and Charles Herbster in the Nebraska governor’s race.
Robert Reich: We’re Running Out of Time to Hold Trump Accountable
(Newsweek) Trump couldn’t care less whether he’s viewed as a “kingmaker” by the press and politicians inside the Beltway. He cares only about his narcissistic need to delegitimize the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. And he has a knack for recognizing ambitious, unprincipled, television-savvy hucksters who will help him.
Trump is already well on the way to rebuilding the Republican Party around his big lie. He is purging the GOP of critics and installing loyalists in key state positions. And he is inspiring GOP-state legislatures to enact election sabotage laws that will give Trump and his supporters opportunities to rig congressional election results.
The upcoming 2022 congressional elections will serve as proving grounds for his attempt to steal the 2024 presidential election.
2022 Is the Year of the Political Carpetbagger
By Ed Kilgore
So part of what is being tested in the GOP primaries of 2022 is whether Trump can make carpetbaggers kosher, so to speak, whenever and wherever he wants. Beyond that, of course, money and celebrity will always matter as much as authentic home cooking.
Trump Sees Very Fine People on Both Sides of Ukraine War
Former president baffled why the two sides can’t work out their differences.
By Jonathan Chait
Trump’s latest statement goes beyond this familiar passive voice and wonders openly why both countries have failed to settle their differences. “It doesn’t make sense that Russia and Ukraine aren’t sitting down and working out some kind of an agreement,” he muses, which would be true if you were starting from the premise that neither country intended to destroy the other.
Trump’s hawkish Republican allies have tried all along to depict him as a true Russia hawk. The banal truth remains that Trump has a persistent sympathy for Putin and Russia that places him well outside the mainstream of either party.
Trump’s Midterms Endorsements Are Beginning to Go Awry
With primary-election season now under way, Donald Trump’s strategy of aggressive intervention in the 2022 midterms via candidate endorsements is finally being tested. Unsurprisingly, the former president is boasting of a 100 percent win ratio for “his” candidates in the March 1 Texas Republican primaries. Most of them, however, were unopposed or heavy front-runners; his marquee endorsee in a competitive statewide race, Attorney General Ken Paxton, faces a runoff with George P. Bush that could go either way.
Elsewhere Trump is beginning to get some blowback from his supporters for making endorsements in primary contests where most or all of the candidates are MAGA enthusiasts.
Is Trump’s hold on the Republican Party getting weaker?
(Brookings) When it comes to the 2020 election, Trump is a broken record. This has worked—sort of. On the one hand, his obsession with his stolen election has helped spread it to large numbers of Republicans. On the other hand, it has stood in the way of him talking about issues like inflation or the ongoing pandemic that are likely of more immediate concern to voters than 2020. And while, so far, there is no evidence of any Republican who can beat him for the nomination, we are two full years away from the New Hampshire primary and that, as they say, is a lifetime in politics.
… in recent weeks it is possible to see three cracks in what Trump would like to believe is monolithic control over the Republican Party.
The hard-core Trump base appears to be shrinking.
In many Republican primaries Trump does not appear able to crown winners simply with his endorsement—his candidates are often in for a fight with other Republicans.
Heavy hitters are stepping up to challenge Trump’s version of the election, which has become his dominant message.
National Archives had to retrieve Trump White House records from Mar-a-Lago
(WaPo) The recovery of the boxes from Trump’s Florida resort raises new concerns about his adherence to the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.
Trump, Pence avoid going scorched-earth
(The Hill) Former President Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence have avoided an all-out war even as they break forcefully over whether Pence had the power to overturn last year’s election.
Pence’s speech on Friday rebuking Trump for un-American comments about overturning President Biden’s win represented his sharpest criticism to date of his former boss.
Pence Refutes Trump: “I Had No Right to Overturn the Election”
(Mother Jones) Pence said during the keynote address of a Federalist Society gathering near Orlando, Florida: “The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone, and frankly there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”
After the Storm: A year after Jan. 6, Trump supporters still lost in blizzard of conspiracies
“Anyone who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”
(Salon) It’s easy to make fun of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar. The detachment from reality is wondrous to behold close up. Four million on Jan. 6! Antifa! Stolen Election! QAnon!
But being mesmerized by conspiracies is like thinking the sun is nothing more than the gaseous eruptions bursting from it rather than understanding the fury on the surface is powered by the incendiary core.
Trump’s Cable Cabinet: New texts reveal the influence of Fox hosts on previous White House
(WaPo) …text messages — newly released by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection — between Fox News hosts and former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, crystallize with new specificity just how tightly Fox News and the White House were entwined during the Trump years, with many of the network’s top hosts serving as a Cable Cabinet of unofficial advisers.
… A former senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid details of private discussions, said Trump would also sometimes dial Hannity and Lou Dobbs — whose Fox Business show was canceled in February — into Oval Office staff meetings.
… Alyssa Farah, a former White House communications director, said the four most influential Fox hosts were Dobbs, Hannity, Igraham, and Pirro — and in the final year of the Trump administration, Hannity was the most influential. Other former top administration officials also mentioned Mark Levin, another Fox News host, and Maria Bartiromo, a Fox Business host, as two other network stars in regular touch with the White House.
From the point of view of the staff, Farah said, the goal was simply to “try to get ahead of what advice you thought he was going to be given by these people” because their unofficial counsel “could completely change his mind on something.”
Democrats quietly consider using 14th Amendment to prevent Trump from running for office in 2024
A post-Civil War clause bars anyone who engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. from seeking office
Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun
January 6 was practice. Donald Trump’s GOP is much better positioned to subvert the next election.
By Barton Gellman
(The Atlantic) Trump and his party have convinced a dauntingly large number of Americans that the essential workings of democracy are corrupt, that made-up claims of fraud are true, that only cheating can thwart their victory at the polls, that tyranny has usurped their government, and that violence is a legitimate response.
Any Republican might benefit from these machinations, but let’s not pretend there’s any suspense. Unless biology intercedes, Donald Trump will seek and win the Republican nomination for president in 2024. The party is in his thrall. No opponent can break it and few will try. Neither will a setback outside politics—indictment, say, or a disastrous turn in business—prevent Trump from running. If anything, it will redouble his will to power.
Revenge of the Donald
Nostalgia and resentment could be enough to catapult Trump back into the presidency.
By David Frum
Donald Trump, who upended so many previous presidential precedents, now seems likely to upend one more. Trump has to be considered the massive front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination. He’s already running hard, and he’s already dominating the field.
Trump is campaigning on two themes: nostalgia for the strong pre-pandemic economy, plus resentment over the outcome of the vote in 2020.
There’s no Trumpism that’s bigger than Trump. “It’s about a movement, not a man” is a venerable cliché applied to populist politics. In this case, though, it’s about a man, not a movement. … If Trump does it, it’s okay. They don’t much care about the content of his politics. They care about its mood.
Anybody who follows politics even casually can see the Trump comeback emerging. Well-sourced reporters carefully detail the comeback’s mechanics. But almost nobody is prepared for the malicious destructiveness of what is to come.
Trump asserts his dominance inside GOP, pushing Republicans to embrace his false claims of fraud
Former president Donald Trump has in the past week threatened electoral defeat for Republicans who dismiss his election falsehoods, inserted himself into the Virginia governor’s race to the delight of Democrats, and promised to root out disloyal GOP officials in legislative primaries in Arizona and Michigan.
With more than a year to go before the midterm elections, the former president is leaving no corner of the party untouched as he moves to assert his dominance, both in public and behind the scenes. His stepped-up efforts create a conundrum for many of the party’s strategists and lawmakers, who believe they could have a banner election year in 2022 if they keep the focus on President Biden and his agenda.
But Trump has repeatedly turned the focus back onto the 2020 election. He moved into new territory Wednesday when he released a statement threatening the GOP with ballot-box repercussions if candidates do not embrace his false claims that the White House race was rigged.
(The Atlantic) The 2024 presidential election could very well be a rematch of 2020. “A Trump candidacy in 2024 is almost certain, and a nomination is probable,” my colleague David A. Graham points out. Should an incumbent Joe Biden decide to go for a second term, that’d leave Americans with a case of electoral déjà vu.
If Trump does end up back on the ballot, he presents unique problems for the country, considering that the last time he was a candidate, he attempted to subvert the entire American democratic system.
- Trump could try to steal the election. That would make Vice President Kamala Harris, in her capacity as Senate leader, the last Democrat standing. “What will she do—what can she do—if Republicans empowered with congressional majorities refuse to accept the certification of a Democratic win in one or more key states?” Russell Berman asks.
- Or he could win outright—and that would be even worse. “If Trump were to win fairly in 2024, he could and probably would subvert the rule of law and the democratic rule just as much as if he lost and tried to steal the election, but he’d do so from a place of greater legitimacy,” Graham points out.
A Trump win is more likely if Biden neglects these five things. The current president risks losing reelection if he doesn’t act effectively on the pandemic, inflation, and more, David Frum argues.
Republican Trump Critic Quits Congress As Cult of January 6 Grows
By Ed Kilgore
Another Republican congressional supporter of Donald Trump’s second impeachment has succumbed to the 45th president’s vengeance, as Ohio’s Anthony Gonzalez has announced he is giving up his 2022 reelection bid in the face of a primary challenge and widespread intraparty condemnation. It capped a red-letter week for Trump’s efforts to make his Big Lie about a stolen 2020 election Holy Writ for the Republican Party he still dominates
Where’s Trump on 9/11? Not at ground zero.
Mr. Trump visited a police precinct and a neighboring firehouse in Midtown Manhattan. He briefly paid tribute to the heroism of the police and firefighters after the planes hit the twin towers, but spent most of his time treating the visit as a campaign-style rally, continuing his criticism of the Afghanistan pullout, complaining about crime in cities, commenting on how many police officers and firefighters supported him, and falsely claiming once again that he had won the election.
Donald Trump’s Latest Money-Making Schemes
(New York) Former president Donald Trump is always running several cash-generating schemes. It’s as essential to his being as the uncanny swoop of orange hair. Plus, as Bloomberg notes, “The Trump Organization has more than $590 million of debt coming due within the next four years with more than half personally guaranteed by Trump.” So it’s no surprise that even though he’s out of the White House, Trump is using his post-presidential clout to rake in the big bucks. Here’s what he’s got going.
A fundraising group run by former President Donald Trump raised $62 million in the first half of the year but only spent $3 million, with the biggest chunk of money going to a pro-Trump research center and more than $65,000 to Trump’s own hotels, according to federal records.
Trump raises big money in early 2021, but doesn’t spend much
Heather Cox Richardson July 30, 2021
Today’s bigger story is that the House Oversight Committee released notes taken by the acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue during a phone call between former president Donald Trump and acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen on December 27, 2020. … When Rosen told the former president that the Department of Justice “can’t and won’t snap its fingers + change the outcome of the election, doesn’t work that way,” Trump said: “Don’t expect you to do that, just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R[epublican] Congressmen.”
The January 6 insurrection was ten days later.
In one-two punch to Trump, Justice Dept OK’s release of taxes, memo
(Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump suffered twin setbacks on Friday when the Justice Department cleared the way to release his tax records and disclosed a memo showing he had urged top officials last year to falsely claim his election defeat was “corrupt.”
The department, reversing course from the stance it took when Trump was in office, told the Internal Revenue Service to provide the Republican businessman-turned-politician’s tax records to congressional investigators – a move he has long fought.
Trump tries to sabotage the Biden infrastructure deal
Those close to the former president say he remains miffed that Senate Republicans didn’t move a bill when he was in office.
(Politico) Donald Trump tried and failed to pass an infrastructure bill so many times over the course of his presidency that his attempts were reduced to a punchline.
Senate Republicans have said, in interviews, that they have directly asked the former president not just to tone down his criticism but to actually support the infrastructure deal.
Heather Cox Richardson: July 26, 2021
One of the hallmarks of a personality like that of former president Donald Trump is that he cannot stop escalating. It’s not that he won’t stop; it’s that he can’t stop. And he will escalate until someone finally draws a line and holds it.
…former president Trump and his supporters are consolidating their power over the Republican Party. Through it, they hope to control the nation.
Trump this morning tried to assert his dominance over the party by issuing a statement in which he demanded that Republican senators scrap the infrastructure bill that has been more than three months in the making. [He] is…claiming that the Movement Conservatives who now dominate the leadership of the Republican Party are not really Republicans. True Republicans, he says, are those loyal only to him. He is using the infrastructure bill as a loyalty test. The reality is that an infrastructure package is very popular, and walking away from it will cost Republicans in states that are not fully under Trump’s sway.
Dana Milbank: This historian predicted Jan. 6. Now he warns of greater violence.
(WaPo) American democracy survived that coup attempt on Jan. 6. But the danger has not subsided. I called [the eminent Yale historian Timothy] Snyder, who accurately predicted the insurrection, to ask how the history of European authoritarianism informs our current state.
“We’re looking almost certainly at an attempt in 2024 to take power without winning election,” he told me Thursday. Recent moves in Republican-controlled state legislatures to suppress the votes of people of color and to give the legislatures control over casting electoral votes “are all working toward the scenario in 2024 where they lose by 10 million votes but they still appoint their guy.”
… A survey of 327 political scientists released this week by Bright Line Watch, a project by scholars at Dartmouth College, the University of Chicago and the University of Rochester, found widespread concern: The experts collectively estimated a 55 percent likelihood that at least some local officials will refuse to certify vote counts in 2024, a 46 percent likelihood that one or more state legislatures will pick electors contrary to the popular vote, and a 39 percent likelihood that Congress will refuse to certify the election.
Gwynne Dyer: Today Zuma, Tomorrow Trump
Under no circumstances will Trump tamely show up in court to fight his case, agreeing to testify under oath. He has given too many hostages to fortune, and once that process gets underway his ultimate destination is probably huge fines and/or prison. So he must find another way to respond.
We have a very recent example of what a ruthless, trapped ex-president will do to avoid that fate. Jacob Zuma was president of South Africa for nine years, and his behaviour in power gave the world a new phrase: ‘state capture’. His friends and business partners prospered mightily, and their activities cost South Africa an estimated $83 billion.
… [Trump] will do a Zuma, stringing it out as long as possible and then finally resorting to an attempt to overawe the American state and constitution by violence in the streets. He has done that once already, and he will certainly do it again if his freedom or even just his fortune is at stake.
Excitable pundits talk about a second American civil war, and it’s true that Trump could persuade hundreds or even thousands of Americans to kill and die for him. But Trump’s first tentative use of this strategy failed on 6 January, and Zuma’s resort to similar tactics is currently failing before our eyes.
A last-ditch Trump attempt to terrorise the courts into submission is also almost bound to fail – but that doesn’t mean he will not try it.
Trump’s Fantasy Legal World
The former president is obscuring the very real legal problems he has with imaginary ones he wants.
By David A. Graham
(The Atlantic) Donald Trump has some big summer plans…He’s going to be reinstated to the presidency by August, and he’s going to sue Facebook, Twitter, Google’s YouTube, and their respective CEOs for violating his First Amendment rights. The first of these is impossible. The second, which Trump announced during a press conference this morning, is only marginally more likely to succeed.
The question is not whether Trump was banned by Facebook and Twitter but whether he has any legal recourse. Conservatives have long complained that the platforms are throttling their posts, but they haven’t produced any significant evidence to back that up. A useful Twitter feed created by Kevin Roose of The New York Times shows just how much conservatives dominate Facebook’s most popular posts on a daily basis. Trump is not banned from Twitter and Facebook because he is conservative (to the extent that he has any ideological commitments beyond himself), but because he used those platforms to foment violence and spread disinformation—a habit that eventually became too embarrassing and politically hazardous for the sites to bear.
Trump charged Secret Service nearly $10,200 in May for agents’ rooms
The records — released by the Secret Service in response to a public-records request — show that the ex-president has continued a habit he began in the first days of his presidency: charging rent to the agency that protects his life.
Since Trump left office in January, U.S. taxpayers have paid Trump’s businesses more than $50,000 for rooms used by Secret Service agents, records show.
Trump Is Preparing for the Worst
Watch for early indications that the legal process may end badly for the former president.
By David Frum
A grand-jury indictment of Donald Trump’s business and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, unsealed this afternoon in New York, alleges tax evasion arising from an attempt to pay Weisselberg and other Trump Organization executives extra money “off the books.” Prosecutors charge that Weisselberg and others received rent payments and other benefits without paying the appropriate taxes on them. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have said they will plead not guilty.
So far, the danger is to Trump’s friends and his business, not the former president himself. But the danger could spiral, because Trump knew only so many tricks. If Trump’s company was bypassing relatively moderate amounts of tax on the income flows to Trump’s friends, what was it doing with the much larger income flows to Trump and his own family? Even without personal testimony, finances leave a trail. There is always a debit and a credit, and a check issued to the IRS or not.
… Trump is not claiming that “all taxes were paid” or that “it was a perfect tax return.” He’s readying his supporters for bad revelations about his company’s taxes and directing them to a fallback line that singling him out as a tax scofflaw is politically unfair.
Trump worked all his life on the theory that law can be subordinated to political favors and political pressures. That theory has carried him this far—and it’s pretty far, all things considered. We are now about to see a mighty test, before the country and the world, of whether that theory will carry him the rest of the way home.
Heather Cox Richardson June 27, 2021
Rather than inspiring continued resistance, Trump increasingly looks like President Richard M. Nixon, whose support eroded as more and more sordid information about his White House came to light. Exposés of the Trump White House recently have shown his cavalier approach to the pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 Americans, and his willingness to employ force against peaceful protesters in summer 2020.
Last week, news broke that the Manhattan district attorney is considering criminal charges against the Trump Organization—news that will likely hurt the organization’s ability to borrow money—and prosecutors have given the Trump Organization’s lawyers until Monday afternoon to finish their arguments about why the organization should not be charged. Further, we know a special grand jury is set to meet three times a week until November, suggesting that more information may be forthcoming.
The nation cannot forget Donald Trump’s betrayal of his oath
(WaPo editorial) The House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Tuesday released emails showing that the White House waged a behind-the-scenes effort to enlist the Justice Department in its crusade to advance Mr. Trump’s baseless allegations of fraud in the 2020 election.
… Given Mr. Trump’s reckless actions after losing the 2020 vote, and the violence they spurred, the newly released emails are unsurprising. But consider that fact for a moment: It is unsurprising that the president of the United States leaned on the Justice Department to help him try to steal an election. The country cannot forget that Mr. Trump betrayed his oath, that most Republican officeholders remain loyal to him nonetheless — and that it could be worse next time.
Ross Douthat: Three Paths to Containing Trump
The first theory, held by many liberals and centrists and a few anti-Trump conservatives, is that we’re in a continuing emergency that will end in one of two ways: Either a Democratic Congress will enact far-reaching electoral reforms that decisively weaken the current G.O.P., or else Trump and his supporters will make a more effective and destructive bid to steal the 2024 election
Under this theory, non-Trumpist Republicans should be speaking out constantly, in the model of Liz Cheney, against the threat Trump poses to democracy. The Biden White House should give up on bipartisanship and spend its capital trying to kill the filibuster and go big on voting rights. And Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema should be reminded daily that it will be their fault when the crisis comes.
At the moment, however, this theory appears to be a counsel of despair, since not only Manchin and Sinema but other Democratic senators using them as cover have little appetite for the maximalism that it demands. …
This is the point when I’m supposed to tell you which of these three approaches will actually Stop Trump and which will ignominiously fail. But the frustrating truth is that as adaptations to the unprecedented weirdness of the Trump phenomenon, all three attitudes — maximalist, moderate and deliberately inactive — seem somewhat reasonable.
Which means, in our era of guaranteed surprises, that all three will probably be rendered irrelevant by some turn of events between now and 2024.
Trump advances dangerous disinformation campaign as more states move to restrict the vote
(CNN) Donald Trump’s speech before the North Carolina Republican Party Saturday night was a reminder of the danger the former President poses as he undermines America’s election system while attempting to reassert himself as kingmaker on the national stage.
Donald Trump is getting worse
CNN’s Dana Bash reported Thursday morning that former President Donald Trump is “more obsessed than ever with the 2020 election,” with one former Trump aide telling her that the former President is only listening to “the bottom of the bottom of the crazies in the barrel.”
That follows on reporting from The New York Times and The Washington Post that Trump is convinced that he will, at some point this summer, be reinstated as president once a variety of kooky and non-credible audits come to, uh, fruition.
As Trump swerves more and more into ever-wilder fantasies about his return to power, the GOP base follows right along with him. And since no politician can hope to win elections without the base of their party behind them, Republican elected officials go along for the ride.
Which means they are now on board with a man who believes he will be reinstated as president this summer because of a series of outlandish recounts and audits in swing states.
What’s more worrisome for Republicans: There is zero evidence that Trump has hit rock bottom yet. Or that there is a bottom at all.
Trump Wasn’t Cut Out for a Blogger’s Life
Donald Trump’s short-lived attempt to blog is over.
He’ll keep releasing statements about “junky” racehorses and sometimes politics, he’ll go back to having rallies, and I assume he will seethe. Although the blog has gone to join its compatriots in the great internet beyond, this probably won’t be Trump’s last attempt to find a way to post.
The Trump criminal probe’s heating up. Here’s why the Trump children might want to lawyer up.
Depending on what Trump Organization family members have said so far, it may already be too late to avoid legal drama.
By Frank Figliuzzi, MSNBC Opinion Columnist
This week, New York Attorney General Letitia James revealed that her civil law inquiry into the corporate entity known as the Trump Organization has become a criminal investigation. In that same brief statement, New York state’s top law enforcement official also explained that James’ office has partnered with the Manhattan district attorney, who is already investigating potential criminal tax fraud violations committed personally by former President Donald Trump.
POLITICO Playbook: How Palm Beach is preparing for a possible Trump indictment
Among the topics discussed in those meetings: how to handle the thorny extradition issues that could arise if an indictment moves forward.
An obscure clause in Florida’s statute on interstate extradition gives Gov. Ron Desantis the ability to intervene and even investigate whether an indicted “person ought to be surrendered” to law enforcement officials from another state — which means that as Mar-a-Lago prepares to close down for the season and Trump relocates to Bedminster, N.J., it isn’t just the Florida heat he’s leaving behind: He could lose a key piece of political protection.
Trump’s out-of-power agenda: Retribution against foes, commanding the spotlight and total domination of GOP
Six months removed from his Election Day loss, Trump has emerged from his West Palm Beach hibernation — refashioning himself as the president of the Republican States of America and reshaping the party in ways both micro and macro.
He has also privately revived his claims that he plans to run for president again in 2024, decrying what he views as the “low ratings” of the Biden administration, said one person who has spoken with Trump recently. He rails that President Biden is “a disaster” and argues that “Joe isn’t in charge, everybody knows it’s Kamala” — a preview of his likely message portraying Biden as an unwitting stooge of Vice President Harris, this person said. Nonetheless, Trump is not expected to make an official decision or announcement until after the midterm elections, an adviser said.
Trump’s reappearance is fueled by an ego-driven desire to remain at the center of national attention, said former advisers and allies who are in touch with him.
Heather Cox Richardson May 3, 2021
Since the January 6 insurrection, Democrats have called the Republican adherence to the idea that Biden did not win the 2020 election “the Big Lie.”
One of the hallmarks of the former president was his ability to turn any accusations against him into an attack on his opponents. True to form, this morning he set out to appropriate the term “the Big Lie” for his own. Rather than meaning his refusal to admit he lost the election, he wants to use the phrase to mean the opposite: that it refers to “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020.”
As he has consolidated power over the Republican Party after leaving office, the former president has been less and less tolerant of those Republicans who have called out his refusal to recognize the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s election for what it is: a dangerous attack on our democracy.
This fight is a proxy fight over whether Trump will win full control over the Republican Party. His loyalists have vowed to get rid of Cheney from her position in party leadership by the end of the month.
But Cheney appears to have some key backing, including that of former president George W. Bush. … [and] is speaking out and standing firm.
Trump’s grip on GOP looms as support falters for independent probe of Capitol riot
(WaPo) Congress’s pursuit of an independent investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection is facing long odds, as bipartisan resolve to hold the perpetrators and instigators accountable erodes, and Republicans face sustained pressure to disavow that it was supporters of former president Donald Trump who attacked the U.S. Capitol.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced late last week that she had drafted a fresh proposal for an outside commission to examine what caused the deadly riot. But in a sign of how delicate the political climate has become, she has yet to share her recommendations with Republican leaders, who shot down her initial approach, labeling it too narrow in scope and too heavily weighted toward Democrats in composition.
Donald Trump tumbles down billionaires’ rankings
According to the latest list, Donald Trump’s standing among other billionaires has plummeted almost 300 places since 2020, down to No 1,299. The humiliating fall sits on Forbes’ next to a quote from the former president reading: “I took a lot of finance courses at Wharton. First they taught you all the rules and regulations. Then they taught you that those rules and regulations are really meant to be broken.”
Trump has lost millions on his retail locations, hotels and golf resorts in the last few years. But it does seem that businesses who were distancing themselves from Trump after the Capitol attack, continue to lease his properties, helping him to rake in millions on some properties in the last year.
Dominion: will one Canadian company bring down Trump’s empire of disinformation?
Dominion has filed defamation lawsuits against several Trump allies for pushing election ‘radioactive falsehoods’ – could it triumph?
(The Guardian) When Donald Trump and his allies pushed the “big lie” of voter fraud and a stolen election, it seemed nothing could stop them spreading disinformation with impunity.
Politicians and activists’ pleas fell on deaf ears. TV networks and newspapers fact-checked in vain. Social media giants proved impotent.
But now a little-known tech company, founded 18 years ago in Canada, has the conspiracy theorists running scared. The key: suing them for defamation, potentially for billions of dollars.
How Trump Steered Supporters Into Unwitting Donations
Online donors were guided into weekly recurring contributions. Demands for refunds spiked. Complaints to banks and credit card companies soared. But the money helped keep Donald Trump’s struggling campaign afloat.
(NYT) Facing a cash crunch and getting badly outspent by the Democrats, the campaign had begun last September to set up recurring donations by default for online donors, for every week until the election.
Contributors had to wade through a fine-print disclaimer and manually uncheck a box to opt out.
As the election neared, the Trump team made that disclaimer increasingly opaque, an investigation by The New York Times showed. It introduced a second prechecked box, known internally as a “money bomb,” that doubled a person’s contribution. Eventually its solicitations featured lines of text in bold and capital letters that overwhelmed the opt-out language.
The tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists — retirees, military veterans, nurses and even experienced political operatives. Soon, banks and credit card companies were inundated with fraud complaints from the president’s own supporters about donations they had not intended to make, sometimes for thousands of dollars.
Trump calls for Republicans to boycott companies amid voting law controversy
“For years the Radical Left Democrats have played dirty by boycotting products when anything from that company is done or stated in any way that offends them. Now they are going big time with the WOKE CANCEL CULTURE and our sacred elections,” Trump said in a statement on Saturday released by Save America PAC.
Access, Influence and Pardons: How a Set of Allies Shaped Trump’s Choices
A loose collection of well-connected groups and individuals led by a pair of Orthodox Jewish organizations had striking success in winning clemency for white-collar criminals during the Trump presidency.
(NYT) The efforts to seek clemency for these wealthy or well-connected people benefited from their social, political, or financial ties to a loose collection of lawyers, lobbyists, activists and Orthodox Jewish leaders who had worked with Trump administration officials on criminal justice legislation championed by Jared Kushner.
That network revolved around a pair of influential Jewish organizations that focus on criminal justice issues — the Aleph Institute and Tzedek Association — and well-wired people working with them, including the lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz, Brett Tolman, a former U.S. attorney for Utah, and Nick Muzin, a Republican operative.
Trump will use ‘his own platform’ to return to social media after Twitter ban
Former president was banned over his incitement of Capitol riot
Adviser says Trump will ‘redefine the game’ with his return
Facebook’s New Board Has Incentives to Bring Back Donald Trump
The panel is structured in ways that help the former president’s chances of regaining his posting privileges.
(Bloomberg) Trump’s return to social media would bolster his attempt to remain the dominant figure in the Republican Party. More broadly, it could reshape the way political speech is governed for Facebook’s 2.8 billion users, making it more difficult for the company to remove harmful content and bad actors. A pro-Trump decision could also influence other platforms, including Twitter, which permanently banned the former president after the ransacking of the Capitol, and YouTube, which said on March 4 that it would end its suspension of Trump when the risk of political violence recedes.
CPAC Takeaways: Trump Dominates, and DeSantis and Noem Stand Out
(NYT) Any lingering belief that Donald J. Trump would fade from the political scene like other past presidents evaporated fully on Sunday as he spoke for more than 90 minutes in a grievance-filled and self-promoting address that sought to polish up his presidential legacy, take aim at his enemies and tease his political future.
Trump Keeps Up Conspiracies, Blasts Biden And GOP Foes In 1st Post-Presidency Speech
During a keynote address that lasted an hour and a half — and began more than an hour late — in Orlando, Fla., to the friendly Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, Trump blasted Biden’s tenure so far. … It was similar to the dark and nativist anti-immigration vision that helped launch Trump to political prominence in the first place, from his 2015 presidential campaign announcement.
‘It’s Donald Trump’s party’: How the former president is building a political operation to further cement his hold on the GOP
Ahead of his first major post-White House address at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the former president is making plans to launch a super PAC, has begun endorsing candidates and is plotting a possible 2024 run.
(WaPo) Any lingering doubts about Donald Trump’s primacy in the Republican Party have been settled in recent weeks by the parade of petitioners he has welcomed to his Florida social club.
The party chairwoman, the top two House Republicans, the senior senator from South Carolina and a coterie of other former aides and advisers have all made appearances at Mar-a-Lago, offering their counsel and seeking the favor of a former president who many believe controls the short-term fortunes of GOP candidates up and down the ballot — and has made it clear he plans to use that power.