Trump’s in a Glass House, Throwing Stones

So today this happened:

President Trump on Thursday publicly called on China to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in an extraordinary presidential request to a foreign country for help that could benefit him in the 2020 election.

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Mr. Trump said Thursday as he left the White House to travel to Florida where he was expected to announce an executive order on Medicare.

I have been saying all along that, fundamentally, Trump is too stupid to understand when he’s out of bounds. There’s really no other explanation for why he keeps stepping on the same cow pie, so to speak, and publicly admitting to it.

(BTW, the executive order on Medicare is about beefing up Medicare Advantage, which probably means taking money out of regular Medicare and giving it to private insurers, because that’s how Trump rolls. This is supposed to be a response to Democrats’ Medicare for All proposal, and of course it is nothing of the sort.

The executive order, originally called “Protecting Medicare from Socialist Destruction,” was renamed “Protecting and Improving Medicare for our Nation’s Seniors” ahead of Mr. Trump’s speech. But administration officials called the renaming a distinction without a difference.

I guess that expanding the socialist progam Medicare makes it even more socialist, which would be why they are only beefing up the less-socialist part that is administered by private companies. This has been another bulletin about “why we can’t have nice things.” Now we return to your regularly scheduled blog.)

Now, why does Trump think China should be investigating the Bidens? This is his beef, expressed during the joint press conference, or whatever it was, with Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky on September 25.

Q    Mr. President, would you like President Zelensky to do more on Joe Biden and investigate (inaudible)?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  No.  I want him to do whatever he can.  This was not his fault; he wasn’t there.  He’s just been here recently.  But whatever he can do in terms of corruption, because the corruption is massive.

Now, when Biden’s son walks away with millions of dollars from Ukraine, and he knows nothing, and they’re paying him millions of dollars, that’s corruption.

When Biden’s son walks out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund — and the biggest funds in the world can’t get money out of China — and he’s there for one quick meeting, and he flies in on Air Force Two, I think that’s a horrible thing.  I think it’s a horrible thing.

According to PolitiFact, this is a claim made in the book Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends by Peter Schweizer. Schweizer is also the author of Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, which PolitiFact says, dryly, it has given poor ratings.

What really happened? It’s hard to know. I found this in the New Yorker:

In 2012, Archer [a family friend] and Hunter talked to Jonathan Li, who ran a Chinese private-equity fund, Bohai Capital, about becoming partners in a new company that would invest Chinese capital—and, potentially, capital from other countries—in companies outside China. In June, 2013, Li, Archer, and other business partners signed a memorandum of understanding to create the fund, which they named BHR Partners, and, in November, they signed contracts related to the deal. Hunter became an unpaid member of BHR’s board but did not take an equity stake in BHR Partners until after his father left the White House.

In December, 2013, Vice-President Biden flew to Beijing to meet with President Xi Jinping. Biden often asked one of his grandchildren to accompany him on his international trips, and he invited Finnegan to come on this one. Hunter told his father that he wanted to join them. According to a Beijing-based BHR representative, Hunter, shortly after arriving in Beijing, on December 4th, helped arrange for Li to shake hands with his father in the lobby of the American delegation’s hotel. Afterward, Hunter and Li had what both parties described as a social meeting. Hunter told me that he didn’t understand why anyone would have been concerned about this. “How do I go to Beijing, halfway around the world, and not see them for a cup of coffee?” he said.

Hunter’s meeting with Li and his relationship with BHR attracted little attention at the time, but some of Biden’s advisers were worried that Hunter, by meeting with a business associate during his father’s visit, would expose the Vice-President to criticism. The former senior White House aide told me that Hunter’s behavior invited questions about whether he “was leveraging access for his benefit, which just wasn’t done in that White House. Optics really mattered, and that seemed to be cutting it pretty close, even if nothing nefarious was going on.”

So, what Hunter did wasn’t what Trump claimed, and it doesn’t seem Joe Biden did anything wrong, although neither was it completely proper. See also Hunter Biden’s Perfectly Legal, Socially Acceptable Corruption by Sarah Chayes in The Atlantic. There is a long-standing pattern of people with connections to high-level U.S. government officials cashing in through various “consulting” or other gigs related somehow to disreputable and corrupt foreign despots. It’s not illegal, as long as currently serving officials are kept out of it. And everything I’ve read says that Joe Biden himself was not part of whatever Hunter was up to.

However, at the same time, we can’t be making high-minded speeches about ending corruption if all kinds of Americans with connections to American leadership are cashing in on the corruption. If this isn’t illegal, maybe it ought to be.

Further, my dears, if we want to talk about people connected to American leadership, what about the Trump kids? It’s like Trump forgets he’s related to these people. Conor Friedersdorf wrote at The Atlantic,

Defenders of Trump on this matter would seem to be conceding that a President Kamala Harris could pressure foreign leaders to investigate Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka Trump for corrupt business dealings in their respective countries, marshaling the leverage of U.S. foreign policy to secure answers.

The inquiry could extend to anything related, however tangentially, to the official doings and responsibilities of their father, which would plausibly encompass nearly all of the Trump Organization’s actions around the world.

Harris could run the whole operation through a personal attorney chosen for his or her personal and political loyalty, bypassing the procedures and checks against corruption embedded within the federal bureaucracy. And she could do this to the Trump kids even if one of them were running against her for president––indeed, it would not even matter if her motives were obviously venal.

So, Trump supporters: Do you think, as I do, that it would be an abuse of power for President Harris to investigate Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka in this fashion? Or are you okay with the precedent that Trump is trying to set?

Aaron Rupar wrote at Vox:

To be clear, there’s no doubt that Hunter Biden leveraged his family name into positions he was otherwise unqualified for — like the $50,000-a-month gig on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma that President Donald Trump and his enablers are now desperately trying to spin into a scandal.

But if anyone should sit out trying to exploit the situation it is the Trump children, who would not be as rich or as famous as they are if it weren’t for their father. And yet on Wednesday night, both Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. went on Fox News and tried to exploit it anyway.

The hypocrisy and irony of clips like the one below — pushed by an arm of the Trump campaign despite Eric and Don Jr.’s (broken) promise to stay out of politics so conflicts of interest could be avoided between their father and the family business they now manage on his behalf — is truly staggering:

And here it is:

Kind of takes one’s breath away. Back to Aaron Rupar:

Just hours before the Trumps’ Fox News appearances, Forbes reported that Eric and Don Jr. have sold more than $100 million of the family’s real estate since the January 2017 inauguration — including a $3.2 million deal in the Dominican Republic last year that is “the clearest violation of their father’s pledge to do no new foreign deals while in office.” Foreign money has also poured into the Trump International Hotel, located just blocks from the White House, which the president’s most recent financial disclosure indicated made him $41 million last year alone.

In addition to Ukraine, the Trumps have also accused Hunter Biden of cashing in in China. But as the New York Times detailed in August, a $1.7 billion Trump Organization project in Indonesia received a $500 billion infusion from a state-owned Chinese construction company. And it’s not just Eric and Don Jr.; Ivanka Trump, despite working in the White House, continues to do business in China as well.

Remember Ivanka’s trademarks? This is from May 2018:

China this month awarded Ivanka Trump seven new trademarks across a broad collection of businesses, including books, housewares and cushions.

At around the same time, President Trump vowed to find a way to prevent a major Chinese telecommunications company from going bust, even though the company has a history of violating American limits on doing business with countries like Iran and North Korea.

Coincidence? Well, probably.

The rule seems to be that if a Democrat does it, it’s bad; if a Trump does it, then it’s okay.

DALLAS, TX – SEPTEMBER 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. More than 20,000 tickets have been distributed for the event. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

16 thoughts on “Trump’s in a Glass House, Throwing Stones

  1. It's not so much that he is too stupid it's more a case of this being his lifelong way of dealing with getting caught doing something illegal.  When he's caught with his hand in the cookie jar he just sprays cookies all over the place to confuse the issue, scatter attention and make it seem less bad.

     

    Also, people keep saying Barr is his Roy Cohn, as if that makes trump a mob boss.  But I've been thinking about this and watching trump in the political arena I'm reminded less of a mob boss (though he is also that) and more of Joseph McCarthy.  He used the same kind of "go after everybody" mentality (Cohn was his staff counsel) that trump uses.  When McCarthy was challenged on anything he went after whoever challenged him and he used is position to mount false, career ending attacks on whoever got in his sights.

    More tellingly, if you look back through the wingnut eco-system over the last few years there have been more than  few who have lavished praise on McCarthy, trying to rehabilitate his image and I believe even Fox was in on that so some extent.

    There is a direct line from McCarthy through Cohn to trump.  It's more than a little scary.

  2. Trump and his fans have a weird shared logic. Acting Predsident Trump just "proved" that the Ukraine call isn't impeachable because the problem on the call was that Trump secretly asked the president of Ukraine to investigate Biden. Today, Trump publicly invited the president of China to investigate Biden.

    The fact that Trump is willing to commit the same deed publicly and privately proves he's not ashamed of it. Therefore it's not a crime in either instance. You are right – that makes no sense outside of Trumworld.

  3. Prior to Ukraine and China, and tRUMP's attempts at having them illegally investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, there have been so many impeachable constitutional violations that we can't possibly remember and list them all without a fast computer, Google, and tons of notepads. 

    And those violations are the ones "we the people" know about!  And almost ALL of them would be fodder for impeachment for every other POTUS!  And so far, he's gone virtually untouched!

    So, with that in mind, I have a question:

    How does an obese man with such tiny hands keep stepping on his dick and still keep waddling?!?

    He's like an evil, bigoted, narcissistic orange Weeble which wobbles, but has yet to fall down.

    I have a feeling he will fall – and fairly soon.  At least in the House.  The Senate, however, will probably let him keep waddling.

    Sad.

  4. GULAG – You ask a very good question and perhaps you were not being rhetorical.

    How does an obese man with such tiny hands keep stepping on his dick and still keep waddling?!?

    In context, you asked how Trump can do so much illegal stuff and survive. The answer is subjective – many points of view – but Trump survives because he's popular with GOP voters. Yes, the Republicans in Congress enable Trump, but only because he's captured the love of the Republican voters. Test that reasoning with this question. If Trump's approval rating with Republican voters fell from 88% to 49% where would Mitch stand?

    Democrats in Congress have shown they are playing power politics – there are very few Democratic Congress-critters I'd call idealogues. The depth of Trump support has "moderate" Democrats in Congress afraid to poke the lion. It's ironic that it took an impeachable attack on the moderate Democrat to rouse the House. (Would there be impeachment hearings if the attack was on Bernie?) I don't think Joe did anything criminal and Hunter was also within the law but they were tapdancing on an issue that's not popular with voters – cashing in on public service. Trump may be toast in the election (if things continue as they are) but this won't help Joe IF liberal Democrats (media and voters) demand Joe discuss what Hunter did – and whether Joe's against it.

    There's an episode of Star Trek TNG where a female (and rather foxy) flim-flam artist tries to cash in on a legend that predicts the return of a demi-goddess whom she impersonates in a shake-down. Trump won't ever be foxy, but he's cashing in on the myths that Reagan began to create the modern GOP. Fox has pushed the politics of resentment for decades with skill – resentment of minorities and resentment and distrust of government. Trump cashed on on a TV myth (Trump the success story) and sold himself as the 'outsider' (which he is) who would restore the American values of white male supremacy. 

    Trumpism won't go away, even if Trump croaks. Way too many crackpot GOP voters don't want to select the GOP party-appointed establishment candidate. When Trump goes down in 2020, there's gonna be a war for control of the GOP. The party will finally self-destruct, I predict. It won't be pretty for a few years – the Trumpsters won't go peacefully and they won't ever shut up. The GOP that emerges, I predict, will pivot to the center because they won't have the Trumpsters (numerically) and they will try to regain power as moderates who recognize equal rights for minorities, for women, and the crisis of climate change. That will resonate (possibly) with independents, enough to save the GOP from total extinction but the nuts will all be in a Trumpster corner, shunned by the GOP and the political battle will be between progressives and moderates. I will die happy if that happens.

    Hope you don't mind that I opined on GULAGS good question,

  5. The brazenness of the lies, and the gall of it, coming from probably the most corrupt political family in US history.  

    Biden should issue this challenge to Trump: you keep running around saying China gave me $1.5 billion.  I will release my tax returns for the last 5 years to bare my finances before the nation, something you won't do because of the corruption you're hiding.  If that's not the case, why don't you do the same and prove you have the standing to call me corrupt?

  6. I have been saying all along that, fundamentally, Trump is too stupid to understand when he’s out of bounds. There’s really no other explanation for why he keeps stepping on the same cow pie, so to speak, and publicly admitting to it.

    He is stupid but that’s not what’s key. It’s power over others. It’s his ability to get people to say and believe that Up is Down. Recall when Sean Spicer became his spokesperson, his first task was to push the fiction that Trump’s inaugural crowds were bigger than anybody else’s. This was a test of Spicer, would he lie even though he presumably knew better. This is why Trump surrounds himself with third rate people – losers who don’t have a strong moral center, and who willingly surrender what little center they have to someone who makes them feel powerful.

    It’s the “emperor has no clothes” story writ large. Trump is all about getting people to discard what they believe and to swallow whatever nonsense he’s pushing. That is power.

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  7. It's vitally important opponents of Trumpism understand the power of the "big lie" propaganda technique and how to recognize it. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, said this:

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    It's not the only technique the Trump circle uses, but it's the most frequent. Sean Spicer, Sarah Sanders and Fox News primetime repeating the same obvious lies are examples.

    What Trump is doing now is creating the big lie that something done in public couldn't be wrong; thus the continued admissions of encouraging foreign interference in American affairs. It's difficult to believe this bank shot could work. However, somewhere between 30-40% of the public have been successfully conditioned over several decades to believe specific big lies that make them identify personally with Trump. Politics usually isn't about rational thinking.

    One big lie: "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." – Ronald Reagan

    Another is that Democratic socialism equals USSR type central planning equals the National Socialism of the Nazis. This might seem ridiculous and contradictory, but it's a huge influence on our politics. It's a big reason we can't have nice things.

    Both of these promote the idea that government should be weak and business interests strong. They've given us one of the most unfair distributions of wealth in the world (sort the following list by the Gini index after reading what it means):

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_distribution_of_wealth

    It might surprise Bernie Sanders to know that only Denmark and Switzerland are worse among advanced democracies.

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  8. Yesterday, testimony and text messages show there was a quid pro quo understanding about investigating Biden laid out before the call. Volker laid it out. It remains to be seen how the other party in the communications will testify. If he lies about communications with the WH to save his position with Trump, he's screwed if Trump loses the election.  If he lies and Trump wins, he will prosper and the world is screwed. But quid pro quo is out there and people are going to have to testify.

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  9.  Here's a very informative video. Makes one realize why Pelosi should load up the articles of impeachment. And make sure that individual one shows up when the history is written. You never know what might prompt a GOP Senator to respond to a call of duty or consider their own legacy, but a good cataloging of Trump's crimes and abuses just might provide that much needed prompt.

    It's difficult to weather the constant barrage of doubt and uncertainty being hurled at us by Trump's confederates and defenders. In spite of that difficulty, I have a growing confidence in the abilities of Nancy Pelosi to shepherd us through this difficult time for the best possible outcome achievable. After all, she told Trump.."You're in my wheelhouse now".   And she knows that behind his false bravado and pretense of invincibility lies a cowardly and insecure man.

  10. I keep coming back to Rudy. Who does this private agent work for? Who pays Rudy?

    The government  is being used to support and further a private interest. He does  not work for US or the office of potus. He reportedly is the private  lawyer (fixer). 

    Who pays Rudy?

    He used to get money from Turkey  and the Mujaheddin El Kalq. 

     

     

     

     

  11. Lots of good observations and comments.  Because I am me and I have an education in both psych and Chinese medicine, it influences my thinking.  So first I will be very Freudian and share my observations.  Trump is not a very classy dresser and I am not an expert on men's fashions.  However, I have noticed Trump's ties.  They are too long and of course point in the direction of his favorite body part.  The tie is a phallic symbol.  So you can draw your own conclusions.  Of course, he is also trying to hide his expanding waistline.

    From the perspective of Chinese medicine, notice the bags and dark circles under his eyes.  This is a sign of an imbalance in kidney energy.  The kidneys are the root of all energy in the body  including sexual energy.  I suspect he is impotent.  This is a big blow to a man whose whole worth is dependent on his sexual prowess.

    Back to the psych perspective, he is narcissistic and delusional.  I remember a clip on TV where he looked toward the sky and said "I am the chosen one". He doesn't seem to be a religious person so he views himself more like a superman, one with powers greater than normal men. He has described himself as a "very stable genius".  I laughed when I heard that but he seriously believes it.  This explains why he doesn't listen to his advisors.

    Well, I am probably thinking too deep for a Saturday morning.  Better have some more coffee.

     

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  12. You got it GrannyE,  In the world of Freud he was all id and now that is gone. A things a phallic symbol if it's longer than it's wide.  His present physique is ambiguous on that diagnosis.  Chinese Medicine could point to the answer,  He might  be the ball of dung on the acupuncture needle.  Check with Swami on that one.  Good brand of coffee I would say.  Thanks for the delightful post.

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