Browsing the archives for the Trump Maladministration category.

Trump’s Stable Genius Legal Team

Trump Maladministration

This just in

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Sunday claimed “truth isn’t truth” when trying to explain why the president should not testify for special counsel Robert Mueller for fear of being trapped into a lie that could lead to a perjury charge.

“When you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth,” Giuliani told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning.

“Truth is truth,” Todd responded.

“No, no, it isn’t truth,” Giuliani said. “Truth isn’t truth. The President of the United States says, “I didn’t …”

A startled Todd answered: “Truth isn’t truth?”

Giuliani: “No, no, no.”

Todd said: “This is going to become a bad meme.“

Brilliant. See also:


David Atkins, No Honor Among Thieves in the Trump White House

Isaac Chotiner, What John Dean Has to Say About the NYT’s Blockbuster Don McGahn Story

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Meanwhile, What Congress Is Up To

Trump Maladministration

Paul Waldman:

Despite all the attention we in Washington pay to the Russia scandal and the Trump administration’s immigration policies and the president’s latest antics (for perfectly good reasons), polls have repeatedly shown that when you ask voters what they care about most in considering their vote for Congress this fall, the most-commonly-mentioned issue is health care.

And Republicans have set a health-care time bomb that is going to explode in their faces just in time for the November elections.

Oral arguments are now scheduled in federal court for Sept. 10 in a lawsuit brought by a group of conservative states, led by Texas, that seeks to strike down the Affordable Care Act. You’d think that after the debacle they suffered last year when Republicans in Congress tried to repeal the ACA, they would have learned their lesson. But they’re storming ahead, and Republicans running for Congress are going to pay the price.

In the age-old question about whether wingnut politicians are really stupid and/or crazy enough believe the lies they peddle, or whether they know it’s all a scam, I think this move counts as evidence of the stupid and/or crazy theory.

The lawsuit makes a claim that could charitably be called audacious. Since Congress eliminated the ACA’s penalty for not carrying health insurance coverage, it says, the individual mandate has become invalid. (Right now the mandate is still in place, but the penalty for violating it is $0.) And if the mandate is invalid, they argue, then the entire law must be struck down, including the ability of people to stay on their parents’ insurance, the protection for people with pre-existing conditions, the expansion of Medicaid that is now providing coverage to millions, the ban on yearly and lifetime limits on coverage — everything. (If you want details, there’s an explanation here.)

Several high-profile GOP candidates for Senate are supporting this lawsuit, even though these are state lawsuits and U.S. senators could be excused for staying out of it. Burgess Everett writes in Politico,

“Sure, anything that’s going to actually get rid of it, yes,” said Indiana GOP Senate nominee Mike Braun of the GOP lawsuit to gut the law in an interview in Mishawaka. “And then be ready to come back and talk about what you’re ready to do about pre-existing conditions and no limits on coverage. That’s where you don’t hear much conservative talk.”

The problem? Congress has shown no ability to pass new health care legislation under Republican rule or work across party lines, raising severe doubts that the GOP would be able to fulfill its promises to kill the law and yet maintain its popular provisions.

Missouri is one of those states in the lawsuit, and the Attorney General of Missouri, Josh Hawley, is Claire McCaskill’s GOP opponent for her Senate seat. She’s been bringing up the lawsuit in her television ads, but I’m not sure the ads explain it very well. However, if this gets in the news a lot in September, that could make a difference. Right now, polls say the race is a toss-up.

Back to Politico:

In interviews, several GOP senators said the party is unprepared to act if the GOP lawsuit, which is supported by the Trump administration, is successful. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, “It may be good to have an exit strategy and I’m not sure there’s one in place.”

Of course there’s not one in place. They had years to come up with an Obamacare replacement, and they failed.

Paul Waldman:

You don’t have to be a political-consulting genius to write the ads. “This is Darcy Cutebutton. She’s 9 years old. She survived cancer, and she’s still fighting. But now Donald Trump and our congressman, Hal Heartless, want to take away her health coverage. Tell Congressman Heartless that if he wants to do that to Darcy, come election day we’re going to stop him.”

Yeah, that’s what they’re going to do. They should blow this up into a big deal even if the lawsuit fails.

In other news, do read about the weird blowup between some vets and the so-called president over Agent Orange.  This happened more than a year ago, but accounts of it are just now coming out. This is from Daily Beast:

The meeting included President Trump and the envoys of nearly a dozen major vets groups—including the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the right-leaning Concerned Veterans for America—as well as  senior staffers such as Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer, and Manigault-Newman surrounding the large table.

The president began going around the room asking the different representatives what they were working on and how his administration could help, having made veterans’ issues a cornerstone of his 2016 campaign rhetoric.

Soon, he got to Rick Weidman, co-founder of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), who was one of Vietnam vets in the room that day, having served a tour of duty in 1969 as a medic. …

… During the course of the meeting, Weidman brought up the issue of Agent Orange, an extremely notorious component of the U.S. herbicidal warfare on Vietnam. Weidman was imploring the president and his team to permit access to benefits for a broader number of vets who have said they were poisoned by Agent Orange.

Trump responded by saying, “That’s taken care of,” according to people in the room.

His reply puzzled the group.

Attendees began explaining to the president that the VA had not made enough progress on the issue at all, to which Trump responded by abruptly derailing the meeting and asking the attendees if Agent Orange was “that stuff from that movie.”

They eventually figured out he was talking about the “napalm in the morning” scene from Apocalypse Now. The veterans tried to explain to Trump that they were talking about Agent Orange, not napalm.

Trump refused to accept that he was mistaken and proceeded to say things like, “no, I think it’s that stuff from that movie.” …

… He then went around the room polling attendees about if it was, in fact, napalm or Agent Orange in the famous scene from “that movie,” as the gathering—organized to focus on important, sometimes life-or-death issues for veterans—descended into a pointless debate over Apocalypse Now that the president simply would not concede, despite all the available evidence.

Finally, Trump made eye contact again with Weidman and asked him if it was napalm or Agent Orange. The VVA co-founder assured Trump, as did several before him, that it was in fact napalm, and said that he didn’t like the Coppola film and believed it to be a disservice to Vietnam War veterans.

According to two people in attendance, Trump then flippantly replied to the Vietnam vet, “Well, I think you just didn’t like the movie,” before finally moving on.

My brother, who died in 2014 after multiple cancer diagnoses, believed his cancers were the result of exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Since cancer is very rare in my family (it’s usually cardiovascular disease that gets us first), I suspect he was right.


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Aretha Franklin, 1942-2018

Trump Maladministration


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Manafort and Trump Have No Good Options

Trump Maladministration

The case will go to the jury today in Paul Manafort’s first trial. There was some buzz yesterday when the defense team declined to make a defense and opted to go straight to closing arguments. I understand that lawyers do this when neither the client nor the client’s witnesses are likely to stand up to cross examination.

Here are two articles to read together: Paul Waldman, “Why Trump will pardon Paul Manafort” and Martin Longman, “Pardoning Manafort Wouldn’t Work.”

Question One: Why didn’t Manafort flip? From what I’ve read about this trial, on the current charges the paper evidence has him dead to rights. It’s most likely Manafort will never be free again. But keep in mind there are scarier people in the world than Donald Trump. Like, Russians.

Waldman says, “Manafort may have decided that it’s better to take his chances with a jury than to find a strange substance smeared on his door handle one day.” One assumes Manafort does care about his wife and children, also.

Longman: “He still owes Oleg Derispaska somewhere around twenty million dollars–and he has no prospect of repaying that debt in cash. All he can do is keep his mouth shut and hope that’s enough to get some forgiveness on the debt.” So there’s that.

Back to Waldman: “It’s also possible Manafort really has nothing to offer special counsel Robert S. Mueller III about Trump, that his activities, criminal though they might have been, never actually involved the president. That would mean he has no one to flip on.” That’s possible, but seems to me to be unlikely. We know Manafort was involved in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, for example. And wasn’t Manafort most likely behind the change in the 2016 Republican platform that backed off arming Ukraine? Trump may not have known about that, but it certainly points to corruption in the campaign organization while Manafort was in charge of it.

Next, is Manafort counting on a Trump pardon? Waldman again:

Trump has spent the past 15 months since Mueller was appointed trying to discredit the investigation, in a campaign designed less to persuade the broader public than to convince his base that it is a witch hunt from start to finish and therefore everything it produces, no matter how factual and supported by evidence, should be ignored and discounted. He has obviously calculated, and rightly so, that if he can keep that base firmly behind him, Republicans in the House will never vote to impeach him, and even if Democrats took control of the chamber and did so, Republicans in the Senate would never vote to convict.

You can already see the argument he’ll make: The whole thing is a witch hunt, the charges are bogus, the jury was a bunch of Angry Democrats, and I’m intervening in the interests of justice. Trump also seems to genuinely believe that the investigation is unfair, and pardoning Manafort would be a great way for him to both assert control and stick it to Mueller.

It’s important to remember that no matter what the jury in this case decides, it’s only the first of two trials Manafort faces. The next one, in a federal court in Washington, will deal more directly with Manafort’s relationships in the former Soviet Union. That’s when Trump may start feeling the heat and feeling oppressed, and look for a way to let everyone know who’s really in charge. And that’s the day Manafort, sitting in his jail cell, is fervently hoping for.

Since there’s nothing Trump can do to stop the second trial, Waldman appears to be proposing that Trump will wait until after the second trial to pardon Manafort. But remember, once he’s pardoned, he can’t incriminate himself.


Waldman thinks Trump will ultimately pardon Manafort, but only after the second trial, which will cover his dealings with Ukrainians and Russians. The problem with this prediction is that Manafort needs charges hanging over him to invoke his right against self-incrimination. If he’s pardoned for most of what he could conceivably be charged with, he could be compelled to tell the special counsel what he knows or face fresh charges of contempt and obstruction of justice. Is he really going to count on either Mueller to give up or Trump to counter every new charge with a fresh pardon?

Maybe things really will get this weird and broken, but I think the reason Manafort hasn’t already been preemptively pardoned is that it would not solve Trump’s problems. In fact, it probably would exacerbate them. Even for congressional Republicans, there’s a limit to how nakedly Trump can obstruct the investigation and get away with it. He has not fired Jeff Sessions or Rod Rosenstein, for example, and he’d run into similar problems if he started pardoning Manafort for refusing to cooperate with investigators when he faces no prospect of self-incrimination.

Probably most people expect Trump to pardon Manafort, but people advising Trump may be telling him not to.

And here’s another kicker Longman brings up: “Manafort can still face state charges, particularly in New York, and I don’t see the pardon card as much of an option for Trump.”

The second trial, which promises to be juicy, begins in mid-September.

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Hot Enough for You?

environment, Trump Maladministration

Glacier National Park is on fire. It caught fire on Saturday, a day on which the temperature in the park reached 100 degrees F. That was the hottest day in recorded history for the park. It was partly evacuated and closed.

It’s clear that Montana is already becoming a vastly different place. In recent decades, warmer winters have helped mountain pine beetles thrive, turning mountains red with dead pines. In 1850, there were 150 glaciers in the area now known as Glacier National Park. Today there are 26. They’ve been there for 7,000 years — but in just a few decades, the glaciers of Glacier National Park will almost surely be gone. By then the park will need a new name. Glacier Memorial Park doesn’t have the same ring to it.

And, of course, the maladministration is in denial about it.

After a tour of wildfire-ravaged California on Sunday, Montana-born Ryan Zinke, President Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, proposed a more controversial cause: The reason there are too many fires is because there are too many trees.

“It doesn’t matter whether you believe or don’t believe in climate change. What is important is we manage our forests,” Zinke said, adding a shot against environmental groups that have curtailed logging on public lands. While forest management is important, Zinke’s comments made some worry that the Trump administration was hoping to use fires as an excuse to open more public lands for logging.

I suppose it’s true that if one cuts down all the forests there will be fewer wildfires. You might still have prairie fires and grass fires, however, until the dry conditions turn the entire West into a desert. So much winning!

In other environmental news, do enjoy the sight of migratory birds while you can.

 For the past 100 years, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) has, among other things, incentivized industries to avoid the intentional or unintentional slaughter of North America’s native birds, primarily using fines. But now, President Trump’s Interior Department has announced that it will no longer enforce prohibitions on “incidental takes” — the unintended, though still perhaps foreseen, killing of birds, as in open waste pits, uncovered oil spills, lit communication towers and low-visibility power lines.

It’s a bizarre, novel interpretation of the law, as the Audubon Society has pointed out, but it was well-received only by those who stand to benefit financially. The American Petroleum Institute, for instance, praised the decision for providing regulatory “certainty,” which it no doubt does for those eager for one less troublesome chore per toxic waste pit. Where companies would have previously been expected to place nets over poisonous waste pits to discourage birds from landing in their deadly waters, the Trump administration’s decision removes any penalties for failure to do so. Some firms might still bother; others probably won’t.

Whooping cranes, Texas

This is what happens when you allow industry, rather than science, to make environmental law.  Keep in mind that industry doesn’t need a lot of extra poor people around, either.

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Just Read This

Trump Maladministration

Trump struggles to grasp the concept of “times zones.” And “maps.”

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This Made Me Laugh

Trump Maladministration

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Building Trust to Win Votes

Trump Maladministration

There’s a mostly good article at Washington Monthly about the problems Democrats have with white working class voters. Andrew Levison writes that if Democrats are going to win WWC votes, they have to earn WWC trust.

WWC voters see three interest-group blocks that they say they don’t trust. One is politicians, who are seen as utterly corrupt parasites. This may account why they don’t learn from voting for Republicans.

Two is “Wall Street financial elite that makes decisions in faraway office towers that destroy local community jobs and mom-and-pop businesses.” And three is the “liberal elite.”

The third group is the “liberal” elite—the heterogeneous group of college professors and students, Hollywood actors and producers, music and fashion producers, and TV, newspaper, and magazine columnists and commentators. They are not seen as a financial ruling class but rather a social group that dominates and controls the culture …. This power to impose their “liberal” agenda on ordinary Americans is obtained through a cynical alliance with minorities who are bribed to vote for Democrats by various kinds of “handouts,” special government programs, or preferential treatment.

There is a big urban versus rural component this, also. If you live in a city, you are more likely to accept diversity because you can’t very well avoid it. Small towns and suburbs are more homogenous.

This “class consciousness” and “class resentment” is a complex perspective that cannot be easily tracked by standard opinion polls. For this reason, it is often overlooked in the discussion of Democratic political strategy. But it is vividly evident in focus groups with white working-class Americans, in the discussions that occur during progressive campaigns of door to door canvassing in white working-class neighborhoods, and in the interviews conducted during ethnographic field studies. Its centrality is revealed in the very titles of the major sociological studies of white working-class Americans that have appeared in the last several years: Katherine Cramer’s The Politics of Resentment, Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land, and Justin Gest’s The New Minority.

Essentially, a decades-long campaign by conservatives has succeeded in creating among the broad majority of white working class and small town/red state Americans a deeply embedded view of Democrats as the party of the educated urban elite who impose their liberal agenda through a cynical alliance with minorities.

Further, in “red” states most voters simply never hear Democratic messages. Levison describes a “three-level conservative ideological cocoon” that shuts out everything but right-wing messages. The Fox News and similar national media; “local” media, often dominated by Sinclair TV stations and regional talk radio; and personal relationships. What’s happened in vast parts of the United States is that these three levels have formed a perfect echo chamber/feedback loop exclusively for right-wing messages. Nothing else can get through. I’ve been pretty much saying the same thing for years.

Levison does a good job describing the problem. The question is, what’s to be done about it? Levison’s prescriptions are weak, seems to me. Yeah, okay, be Jon Tester and go out and fix a tractor now and then.  But I disagree with Levison that campaigning on issues is not the way to win back voters.

Part of the problem with Democrats is that they believe they campaign on issues when they really don’t.  This was my gripe with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She did not campaign on issues. Clinton supporters disagree with that and complain up and down that she did too; she had a whole website full of policy proposals. Yeah, and the only way to find out about them was to go to her website. By watching her television ads and seeing her on the teevee news, you wouldn’t have had a clue what she was running on other than her resume.

The recent right-to-work vote in Missouri proves that voters can turn out for issues. The Washington Post had a fascinating vote analysis that showed some of the same areas that went big for Trump in 2016 also went big against right-to-work this week.

From Washington Post

The two highlighted counties are the ones with the biggest difference in votes. By some coincidence, where I am living now is adjacent to those counties. The Washington County line is about a twenty-minute walk from here. It is rural, white, poor as dirt. The biggest employers, I’m guessing, are county government and WalMart.

Right-to-work is a signature Republican issue in these parts, and it failed with Republican voters.

Of course, the opposition didn’t run oppo ads saying that right-to-work is a corrupt politician who is friends with Nancy Pelosi.

Josh Hawley, who is running against Claire McCaskill for senator, says in his ads that he represents Missouri values, but McCaskill doesn’t. What values would those be? The value of busting unions and underpaying workers? Of closing rural hospitals to force laboring women to travel for two hours to a hospital? Of laying off workers because of Trump’s tariffs? Which values, exactly? There is an unspoken assumption that Democrats are off-the-charts amoral and corrupt, but what the bleep? Republicans aren’t?

McCaskill is running on how she is going to take on the drug companies to lower prices. Okay, but too small bore. We’re going to fix health care, dammit. Don’t be afraid to make big promises. But then, of course, you can’t just disappear into a government office building, not to be heard from until the next campaign. Levison says,

[If] Democrats can regain a majority in the House of Representatives this November, it will provide them with the opportunity to show white working-class Americans the real sources of their economic problems and who is their genuine advocate. .. Revealing the hidden history of deindustrialization and the impoverishment of large sectors of small town and rural America can indeed contribute significantly to showing these voters that Democrats are actually “on their side” and “understand their problems”

The “hidden history” is how people and communities who have been left behind by the global economy were tossed aside by corporations and the local business communities. Levison provides examples. But Democrats have to be aggressive, and as nasty as they need to be. No more gentility.

Anyway, do read the whole Levison article. He does make some good points.

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The Contemptible Jeff Sessions

Trump Maladministration

This is disgusting:

A federal judge slammed the Trump administration on Thursday for trying to deport a mother and daughter to El Salvador while their case is still being heard in court and threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt.

“This is pretty outrageous,” Judge Emmet Sullivan of Washington said on Thursday, according to the Washington Post. “That someone seeking justice in US court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?” Sullivan issued an emergency stay from the bench preventing the deportation of the family and six other people. But the mother and daughter were already on a plane bound for El Salvador, prompting Sullivan to order the government to turn the plane around.

This comes from a lawsuit filed by  the ACLU that seeks to keep the Trump Administration from deporting people in danger of gang and domestic violence. The government had agreed to not deport the mother before Thursday midnight, but then they put the mother and daughter on a plane Thursday morning. The ACLU lawyers spent the day trying to find out what had happened to them, and then getting them back. The plane was turned around and returned to the U.S.

This is just out of control. See also ‘There Was No Crash’: ICE Lied About Crash Involving Van Full Of Detained Mothers.

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Election Results in Missouri (Unions Rule)

Trump Maladministration

First off, the right-to-work referendum didn’t just fail; it went down in flames. voters nixed right-to-work by 67.5 percent to 32.5 percent. Unions rules, righties drool.

Right-to-work was an issue dearly beloved by departed Gov. Eric Greitens and the right-wing extremist state  legislature, which passed a right-to-work law in February 2017. But unions gathered signatures and got a referendum on the ballot challenging the law, blocking it from going into effect. The referendum originally was going to be on the November ballot, but the legislature put it on the midterm ballot in hopes that a lower turnout would keep right to work alive.  But the voters said no, big time, and the right-to-work law is now dead.

The legislature had said that they will next try to pass a constitutional amendment putting right-to-work in the state constitution, but that would have to be ratified by voters also. I wonder if they’ll bother now.

As expected, Sen. Clair McCaskill won her primary (by 82 percent of the vote) and will be challenged in November by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (who won by 58 percent of his vote, but he had more challengers).

The more interesting results were in St. Louis. Robert McCulloch, who had been St. Louis County prosecutor for 28 years, lost the Democratic primary to Wesley Bell, a Ferguson City Council member who ran on criminal justice reform. Bell will be unopposed in November, so this is effectively a general election win.

McColloch had earned noteriety for his “handling” of the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson in 2014. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

This was the first time McCulloch had faced a challenger since the Ferguson protests that erupted over the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer in August 2014. Protesters criticized his office for its handling of the grand jury inquiry into the killing of Brown. The grand jury brought no charges against Officer Darren Wilson.

McCulloch, 67, of Kirkwood, faced challengers in just three prior primary and general races. …

… Political observers gave Bell little chance, saying that McCulloch’s 28 years in office and fundraising advantage made it nearly impossible for Bell to win.

“I’m in total disbelief,” St. Louis University political science professor Ken Warren said late Tuesday. Warren had predicted McCulloch would cruise to an eighth straight term, given his tenure.

“Obviously Ferguson defined this election,” Warren said. “Bell made his name through Ferguson, and (McCulloch) tarnished his name through his handling of Ferguson.”

And I’m pleased to say the vote wasn’t even that close; Bell won 56.6 percent to 43.4 percent.

Ferguson Council Member Wesley Bell, who will be St. Louis County’s next prosecutor.

The Riverfront Times:

There are plenty of people who are tired of McCulloch. Critics say his decision to conduct the investigation into Michael Brown’s fatal shooting using the grand jury was intentionally designed to produce a no-bill. McCulloch, 66, has also thrown the book at protesters, including those arrested as part of the recent demonstrations following the Jason Stockley “not guilty” verdict in St. Louis. Then there’s this: In his 27-year career in public office, McCulloch has never prosecuted an officer-involved shooting to the point of an actual indictment.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger won a close primary challenge. This was an interesting race because the challenger, retired businessman Mark Mantovani, ran a slick and well-funded campaign in which he talked about jobs jobs jobs. Stenger’s ads tied Mantovani to Eric Greitens and Donald Trump; Stenger also framed himself as a defender of unions and an opponent of right-to-work. So an appeal to union support and flat-out partisanship carried the day.

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