Trump’s Closing Argument

Yesterday the New York Times dropped another Trump tax return bomb: Trump has a previously undisclosed bank account in China.  If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s an abridged version at Forbes.  It begins:

A report from the New York Times reveals a decade of Donald Trump’s unsuccessful business activities in China, including an undisclosed bank account that paid nearly $200,000 in taxes, undermining his own exaggerated claims of Hunter Biden’s business dealings there, as well as his rhetoric that his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, is soft on the country.

The Forbes story leaves out one of the most suspicious parts. Jonathan Chait:

The Chinese bank account belongs to Trump’s subsidiary firm, Trump International Hotels Management. While in previous years the firm has reported small sums, in 2017 — Trump’s first year in office — it reported $17.5 million in revenue, a large spike.

The Forbes article quotes a lawyer from the Trump organization saying that no deals were made or business activity conducted in China; the bank account and five subsidiary companies Trump created in China were meant to pursue business deals, but this pursuit went nowhere. So where did the $17.5 million come from? And where did it go?

This bit of hinkiness comes out at a particularly bad time for Trump. The final scheduled presidential debate is tomorrow night, and the Trump campaign has been whining up a storm because the announced list of topics does not include foreign policy (it does include “national security,” which is inextricably linked to foreign policy, IMO, although Trump may not understand that). The Trump team really, really wants to discuss foreign policy. Possibly they think this is a way they can bring up Hunter Biden and avoid job losses and pandemic response. Today they may be rethinking that, however. Jonathan Chait:

President Trump has spent months insisting Joe Biden is in hoc to China. “China is on a massive disinformation campaign because they are desperate to have Sleepy Joe Biden win the presidential race,” Trump tweeted last spring. “Beijing Biden is so weak on China that the intelligence community recently assessed that the Chinese Communist Party favors Biden,” claimed his son, falsely, this summer. More recently, he has seized upon hacked emails purporting to show financial links between Biden and China.

But Biden does not have financial ties to China. We know this because he released his tax returns. Trump has not released his tax returns. But the New York Times has obtained at least some of them. And they found that Trump has a Chinese bank account, and suggest he has collected earnings from that country while serving as president.

See also Alex Ward at Vox, Trump’s team is pushing for a debate on foreign policy. That could backfire.

The Hunter Biden Chronicles may have taken another blow in Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, in which Rudy Giuliani got sucked into making a fool of himself.

In the film, released on Friday, the former New York mayor and current personal attorney to Donald Trump is seen reaching into his trousers and apparently touching his genitals while reclining on a bed in the presence of the actor playing Borat’s daughter, who is posing as a TV journalist. … They are then interrupted by Borat who runs in and says: “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”

I may have to watch that moviefilm some time.

Other than attempting to flog the Hunter Biden story that so far has gone nowhere, Trump’s closing argument for his reelection seems to be that he doesn’t need any of this shit. Cristina Cabrera, Talking Points Memo:

President Donald Trump got remarkably candid on Tuesday night with his supporters in Pennsylvania, a state he desperately needs to win on Election Day, by telling them that if he had a choice, he wouldn’t have bothered to grace them with his presence.

“Four or five months ago when we started this whole thing….before the plague came in, I had it made,” Trump said during a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania. “I wasn’t coming to Erie. I mean I have to be honest, there’s no way I was coming. I didn’t have to.”

Unfortunately, the President complained to his supporters, the pesky COVID-19 pandemic that’s caused his approval ratings to plummet forced him to actually reach out to them.

“And then we got hit with the plague, and I had to go back to work,” Trump said. “Hello, Erie. Can I please have your vote?”

Strangely enough, the comment met with cheers and applause from the crowd.

One suspects Trump could announce he gets his kicks by locking Barron in a closet with hungry rats, and his culties would cheer and applaud.

His other clever strategy has been to pick fights with women journalists, which is bound to win more votes from women (/sarcasm). He isn’t even waiting until the debate is over to badmouth moderator Kristen Welker, for example.  Caleb Ecarma, Vanity Fair:

With the final presidential debate just a few days out, Donald Trump and his allies have launched a preemptive strike against its moderator, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, in an attempt to portray the Thursday contest as rigged from the start. “She’s a radical Democrat,” Trump told supporters on Monday in Arizona, adding that the journalist has been “screaming questions at me for a long time.” The onstage attack follows him tweeting Saturday how Welker has “always been terrible & unfair, just like most of the Fake News reporters, but I’ll still play the game.”

Ecarma says this is a strategy of intimidating the moderator in advance. I doubt Welker is intimidated. Trump’s campaign team members have said nice things about Welker in the past, Ecarma continues, but in the past few days they’ve gone overboard portraying Welker and the debate commission as accomplices of the Democrats. I take it they are resigned to Trump screwing up.

And then there’s the Lesly Stahl debacle. Trump stormed out of an interview being filmed for 60 Minutes because, apparently, Stahl had the nerve to ask him questions. And now he’s saying he’s gong to release the tape of the interview made by his team before it airs on 60 Minutes to show how awful Lesley Stahl is.

Somehow I suspect 60 Minutes is thinking about airing an uncut version of the interview also.

According to a person with knowledge of what happened during the interview, Trump was unhappy that Stahl asked him tough questions regarding his rhetoric about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the size of the crowds at his rallies and his disputes with Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert. Stahl also told him during the interview that allegations about Biden’s son Hunter were not verified and that the Obama administration did not spy on the Trump campaign. Many of the questions were about the coronavirus pandemic and his handling of it, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the interview frankly.

Trump’s problem is that he’s being called to account for shit he actually did and stuff he actually said. This doesn’t work for him. Greg Sargent writes that Trump only wants to campaign in an alternative fictional universe.

Right now, Trump is loudly calling on Attorney General William P. Barr to launch some sort of investigation into the new Hunter Biden pseudo-revelations about emails supposedly discovered on his laptop. This whole scandal is based on largely unverified accusations and false premises.

Oddly, it’s almost as if Trump has assumed all along that he can’t win a reality-based argument and a fair election against Biden. Instead, he set about using the government to manufacture fictions that would define the parameters within which this campaign would unfold.

For example,

Trump is angrily demanding that top officials in his government announce actions that make this “scandal” seem real. Stahl pointed out that the story is unverified, which is 100 percent correct, but this isn’t what was supposed to happen.

There are a number of things that Trump wants to pretend are verified that haven’t been. President Obama spied on him. Joe Biden used his office to enrich his son Hunter. U.S. cities are being burned to the ground by leftist terroists (while right-wing terrorism isn’t a problem). The coronavirus is vanquished. A vaccine will be avialable tomorrow. Trump wants to campaign in a universive in which all of those things are verifiable true.

But none are true. And Trump doesn’t know how to navigate in a world in which none of those things are true. He’s floundering around in a range against reality itself.

And, of course, any election result other than Trump Wins is a hoax. And he’s going to pull every trick in the book to prove it.

10 thoughts on “Trump’s Closing Argument

  1. I grew up in Erie, and while it was a wonderful place to have a childhood decades ago, even when I was a kid the local joke was "dreary Erie the mistake on the Lake"

    I was a little suspicious when Melania bugged out, claiming a scratchy throat. Trump merely articulated what everyone kind of knows. I laughed when I read "Strangely enough, the comment met with cheers and applause from the crowd.". These are not the brightest people in the world – the bright ones left as soon as they could.

    Everyone kind of knows it's Palookaville, and here is the leader of the free world touching down in his magnificent plane, paying homage, trying to get their vote. Autumns are gloomy, and winters are brutal and long. 

    Erie has been on a slide into Appalachia style poverty for decades. I was there in 2015 for a family reunion, and left just as Trump was flying in for his first rally. Hillary couldn't be bothered. These are desperate people, ripe for a con-man like Trump.

    • A lot of people feel that way about where they come from. Of course, for Trump fans, that's doubled, because Erie is in America, which they also hate.

  2. Everyone seems to have forgotten that in summer 2018, the Chinese "lent" the Trump Organization $500 million for a project in Indonesia or Malaysia. Within 72 hours, Trump had lifted national security sanctions against a Chinese company. Owning $500 million to China makes him much more beholden to China, regardless of his rhetoric. 

    • Digby sez: Now imagine what a foreign government might be able to do with this moron.


  3. They are then interrupted by Borat who runs in and says: “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”

    LMAO! What makes this even funnier is that for all of these antics the RNC or Trump's reelection campaign, or maybe the Trump Organization  is being billed at an exorbitant rate for legal fees by Giuliani Partners. Rudy is like Trump in where he doesn't do anything for anybody unless he's getting his palm greased. You can rest assured that somebody is picking up the tab for Rudy's misbehavior.

     What did you think about Jeffery Toobin getting caught flipping his lizard on Zoom? That's a hell of a note to be ending a career on. Shake twice for paradise?

  4. Swami,

    ROTFLMAO Twice for paradise.

    It's like the guy-joke at the urinals: If ya shake than twice, you're playin' wid it!

  5. Swami,

    ROTFLMAO:  Twice for paradise!

    That reminds me of the old guy-joke at the urinals in bars: "If you shake it more than twice, you're playin' wid it!"

    Ex-POTUS Obama had a drive-in event for Biden/Harris in Philly.  And was he having some fun!  He riffed on tRUMP throughout.  Once, he called tRUMP 'the crazy old uncle at Thanksgiving,  And another time, he talked about tRUMP's bank account in China – and how he paid more in taxes to China, than to America.  And he also said, "Imagine what Fox would have done to me if I had a bank account in China when I was running for reelection in 2012?!?  They'd have called me, 'Beijing Barack!"

    It was nice to see a normal human being – albeit an exceptional one – acting ex-presidential!

    tRUMP, after he loses, can never act ex-presidential. 

    Convicted felon?  Yes.  Ex-convict? Definitely!  Ex-presidential?  Never!

  6. Trump miscalculated on Covid. All his decisions were based on the optics, not the virus, the pain, the cost, the fear of being the next unlucky victim. All the while, Trump was playing to the camera, working on squeaking out a win by manipulating the Electoral College. 

    When Bill Clinton was running, "It's the economy, stupid!" was the mantra. Trump thinks it's the ONLY chant Americans hear. (It's the music that moves Trump.) But people care about more stuff and a premature death ranks high on the list. Trump tried to manage what people perceived about Covid – and not actually addressing the very real medical threat. 

    In the waning weeks of the election, the pandemic is building, not declining. Trump echos the bellowing Wizzard of Oz, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" And it's only working with the 40% who will do ANYTHING to prevent the shift to progressive policies. 

    So there it is – we'll be closing on 300,000 Covid fatalities by the time Biden is sworn in. Democrats will have the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The question will be if Democrats will play against the GOP by the same rules that the GOP has been playing by for the last decade. Those rules are uncouth and partisan, based on acquiring power. I'd gladly transition to a more civilized mode when Republicans can be trusted to play by the SAME rules. Until then, we play by their rules. If it's not a violation of the Constitution, go for it.

    We need to brand Biden for what he is – a transitional president. Plans for replacing Biden in 2024 with a real progressive should be announced in February of 2020. If Biden harbors any hopes of being a two-term president or Kamila wants to sit behind the Resolute Desk, they have to govern in a progressive way from day one. Tossing us a bone in 2022 or '23 won't cut it. If Biden wants to put a Republican in the Cabinet, fine. If Biden doesn't put a full-throated progressive in charge of the State Department and/or DOJ, we know all we need to know about our plans for 2024. 

    For now, let's elect Biden and celebrate him for his role – a transition from something awful to 2024, when we install someone better.


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