Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

2020 American Political Scene

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Trump rape accuser 'stunned' at DOJ no-show at court hearing

    NEW YORK (AP) — A woman who has accused President Donald Trump of raping her in the 1990s said she was stunned and speechless after the Justice Department on Wednesday turned down an opportunity to make oral arguments on whether Trump can substitute the United States for himself as the defendant in her defamation lawsuit.

    E. Jean Carroll watched from a seat in the top row of a jury box as U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan gave a government lawyer a chance to argue by phone, after the lawyer who was supposed to argue in person was banned from the courthouse because he traveled from Virginia. New York requires visitors from Virginia to quarantine for 14 days.

    William Lane, a Department of Justice civil division attorney, told the judge the government would rest on its papers, meaning it would rely solely on already submitted written arguments.

    “I’m stunned, stunned, and actually speechless, which is unusual,” Carroll told reporters outside the courthouse.

    Attorney Roberta Kaplan, an attorney for Carroll, said it was a “shocking scenario for the government to just, essentially surrender, and not even try to argue the case.”

    Carroll’s lawyers offered to answer any questions the judge might have, but he did not ask any.

    “Frankly, I’m astonished at what happened today. In decades of litigating in courtrooms throughout the country, I’ve never seen the Department of Justice decline to make an oral argument when all that it meant here would be having to argue by phone,” she told reporters.

    A request for comment to the Justice Department wasn't immediately returned.

    Carroll’s lawyers had already argued in their papers that Trump cannot claim he was acting in an official capacity when he made statements denying the encounter with Carroll in a luxury department store dressing room in midtown Manhattan.

    Justice Department attorneys have said Trump had to respond in June 2019 to accusations Carroll made against him in a book because the claims related to his fitness for office.


    Outside court, Roberta Kaplan told reporters that the position the government took was “pretty radical” and would free any federal official to defame anyone and then argue that the United States should be the defendant if it could concern a constituent.

    The judge did not indicate when he will rule.

    Carroll sued last year, saying defamatory attacks by Trump include assertions that Carroll had falsely accused other men of rape, that she lied about him to advance a secret political conspiracy and sell books and that he had never met her — even though they’d been photographed together. Her lawyers noted Trump also had said: “She’s not my type.”

    Carroll was a 52-year-old media figure hosting an advice show when she says the encounter with Trump occurred sometime between the fall of 1995 and spring of 1996.

    They recognized one another from each other's media exposure and Carroll was struck “by his boyish good looks,” according to her lawsuit.

    When Trump asked for her help to get a gift for “a girl,” Carroll “was surprised but thrilled that Trump would want her advice” and the search eventually led to the store's lingerie section, the lawsuit said.

    The lawsuit said they ended up together in a dressing room after teasing each other to try on a see-through lilac gray bodysuit. Once there, Trump closed the door, pushed her against a wall, bumped her head twice against a wall and pulled down her tights before raping her, the lawsuit said.

    The Associated Press does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly.

    Carroll said in a lawsuit originally filed in Manhattan state court that she remained silent during the 2016 presidential campaign in part because her mother, a respected Republican official in Indiana, was dying at the time and she didn't want to add to her pain.

    She said the emergence of the #MeToo movement in late 2017 prompted her to go public with her own story as she advised other women in her advice column to be brave and to seek justice when they asked her how to respond to sexual assault and abuse.
    ______________
    My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

    Comment


    • Why Donald Trump releasing his full '60 Minutes' interview is a major media miscalculation

      After teasing it for a day or two, on Thursday President Donald Trump released an unedited version of the upcoming “60 Minutes” interview he did with Lesley Stahl.

      Why?

      Trump spent most of the week complaining that the interview, which is scheduled to air during Sunday night’s episode, was “FAKE” and “BIASED."

      Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.

      In fact in the video, which Trump posted on his Facebook page, Stahl comes off as patient, if probing — exactly what she is supposed to do, in other words. Trump, on the other hand, is defensive and whiny, as if he were offended to have to talk about his record as president in anything but the most glowing terms. It’s a bad look, but it probably won’t hurt him much, if at all.

      It’s hard to see how it’ll help him, though.

      Lesley Stahl didn't treat Trump unfairly
      Instead it's just more of the same. His base of supporters is likely to find the aggrieved tone Trump adopts from the start as more proof of media bias. They are a choir that likes being preached to perhaps more than any other — if Trump says he’s being treated unfairly, they’re not going to argue the point. They’re going to agree.

      Yet Stahl didn’t treat him unfairly. She did what reporters do, or what they’re supposed to do: She asked tough questions and when Trump was evasive or lied in his answers, she pressed him.
      President Trump cut short an interview with '60 Minutes' correspondent Lesley Stahl and threatened to leak the session before its Oct. 25 airing.
      “You’re so negative,” Trump said of Stahl at one point. This is his typical tactic with women who press him for answers, as Savannah Guthrie did during last week's town hall. Not so with men, like Chris Wallace and Jonathan Swan.

      Unedited interviews are always kind of a mess; it's likely Trump will actually come off better in the edited version that airs Sunday. Jumping the gun seems unwise.

      CBS News wasn’t happy, as you might imagine.

      How CBS News responded to the release
      “The White House's unprecedented decision to disregard their agreement with CBS News and release their footage will not deter '60 Minutes' from providing its full, fair and contextual reporting which presidents have participated in for decades,” the network said in a statement. (The White House taped the interview, as well, but had agreed to use it for archival purposes.)

      When talking about his COVID-19 response, Trump trotted out his usual talking points, but again turned the answer toward Stahl’s line of questioning: “We’ve done a good job,” he said. “We’ve done maybe a great job. What we haven’t done a good job in is convincing people like you, because you’re really quite impossible to convince.”

      You know what convinces reporters? Facts. That seemed to be lost on Trump at several points in the interview. He kept going at Stahl for not reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop “scandal,” and accused her of protecting him.

      Stahl explained why most reputable media outlets haven’t reported on the Hunter Biden story.

      “This is ’60 Minutes,’” she said. “We can’t put on things we can’t verify.’”

      That notion seemed lost on Trump, who often seems disgruntled with questioning when he’s removed from the protective Fox News bubble he prefers. Who knows what he thought he would be asked in the interview? (Biden sat for one with Norah O’Donnell that is also scheduled to air Sunday.)

      More than anything, Trump's walkout makes him look whiny
      The interview began with Stahl asking Trump if he was ready for some tough questions.

      No, Trump said. In that instance, he wasn’t lying. Just be fair, he said.

      Stahl was.

      Trump’s tactic was to attack both the media in general and Stahl in particular, as well as Biden whenever possible. This led to a funny exchange, in which he said, “I saw your interview with Joe Biden.”

      “I never did a Joe Biden interview,” Stahl said. (Trump then said he meant a “60 Minutes” interview.)

      Despite Trump’s criticisms, Stahl continued to hold Trump accountable. At one point she finally asked Trump a question someone should have asked a long time ago. When Trump started talking about Hillary Clinton deleting emails, Stahl said, “Why is this still an issue? She ran last time.”

      Amen.

      The much ballyhooed walkout by Trump at the end wasn’t particularly dramatic, but it was, again, whiny.

      “You brought up a lot of subjects that were inappropriately brought up,” he said.

      Like his COVID-19 response? The division in the country? The economy? The tenor of his attacks on opponents?

      They might have been uncomfortable for Trump, but they were far from inappropriate. They were just what they should have been — tough and fair.

      That doesn't make what he did look like walking out. It makes it look like running away.
      ______________

      Funny how so many Trump followers swoon over his supposed reputation as a "fighter". Empirical evidence clearly shows that he's just a whiny little bitch that runs away when people aren't fawning all over him.
      My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by TopHatter View Post

        Funny how so many Trump followers swoon over his supposed reputation as a "fighter". Empirical evidence clearly shows that he's just a whiny little bitch that runs away when people aren't fawning all over him.
        A whiny little bitch has it right.

        I say let him use these interviews to placate his base. In the end it is a total waste for him since he needs to appeal to the undecideds where his whiny attitude won't be appreciated. So I say keep on being a whiny little bitch...

        Comment


        • National Republican Party Formally Backs QAnon Supporter

          After weeks of wavering, the national Republican party has formally thrown its support behind Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican House candidate who is openly supportive of QAnon.

          The National Republican Congressional Committee donated $5,000 to Greene’s congressional campaign on September 25, according to campaign finance records—the maximum amount the committee can donate.

          The donation formalizes the GOP’s acceptance of Greene’s candidacy after top officials in the party had signaled hesitancy in backing her. Greene has not shied away from expressing her support for QAnon, a conspiracy theory that holds that President Donald Trump is engaged in a covert war against a pedophile-obsessive “cabal” that’s being fostered by the Democratic Party and other prominent cultural institutions. She has also pushed a variety of inflammatory conspiracies on various platforms, suggesting that blacks are “slaves” to the Democratic Party, that George Soros is actually a Nazi, and that Muslims do not belong in government.

          After POLITICO surfaced past incendiary remarks, top House Republicans sought to distance themselves from Greene.

          “These comments are appalling, and Leader McCarthy has no tolerance for them,” said Drew Florio, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

          In late August, the chair of the NRCC, Tom Emmer, declined to commit to financially supporting Greene’s campaign, telling The Hill in an interview: “The conversations that we’ve had basically are congratulations and let us know how we can be of assistance.”

          But other GOP leaders have embraced Greene. President Donald Trump congratulated her on Twitter and, more recently, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) touted Greene’s endorsement of her own candidacy.

          The NRCC did not immediately return a request for comment.

          Greene won a Republican primary run-off in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District and is all but guaranteed to be elected to the House in November. She is running in a conservative district and in mid-September her Democratic opponent in the race dropped out.
          ____________

          Welp, so much for the GOP course-correcting after their Surrender To Trump. Sure you don't want to admit your belief and support in QAnon there surfgun? I mean, it's practically cult orthodoxy now.
          My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

          Comment


          • 'This will make lib heads explode': Donald Trump Jr posts 2024 picture

            Donald Trump Jr posed in front of a “Don Jr 2024” sign in Nevada on Saturday, posted the picture online and waited for “the lib heads to explode”.

            “Hahahahaha,” wrote the president’s oldest son, on Instagram. “Oh boy. This was a sign up at the Fallon Nevada Livestock Auction. This will make the lib heads explode.” (“Lib” being short for liberal.)

            “To whomever made that thanks for the compliment … but let’s get through 2020 with a big win first!!!!!”

            Though Nevada went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden leads Donald Trump Sr there this year, it is considered a swing state. Democratic voters are concentrated in Las Vegas and its suburbs while Republicans can be found in more rural areas.

            Trump Jr, 42, is best known as an internet provocateur who shares both his father’s brashness and his inclination for sharing disinformation.

            Since his father won the White House he has not been involved in policy like his sister, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, or as active in running the Trump Organization as his brother, Eric. He also has two half-siblings, Tiffany and Barron.

            But Don Jr does seem to be the Trump offspring most inclined to politics and he has turned into a valuable campaign surrogate with a knack for communicating with the president’s base.

            “Don Jr represents the emotional center of the MAGA universe,” Jason Miller, a senior advisor on Trump’s campaign, told the New York Times, using an acronym for “Make America Great Again”, a Trump slogan.

            Trump Jr has only joked about running for office but he – and his sister – have registered strongly in polls regarding notional Republican candidates for 2024, whether to succeed his father or to attempt to deny Joe Biden a second term.

            The president’s oldest son has also published two books with political themes, seeing the first top bestseller lists, if with help from the party, and suffering embarrassment over a mistake on the cover of the second.

            A Vice reporter recently suggested that Pennsylvania Republicans were floating the idea of Trump Jr replacing Pat Toomey, a Republican senator who has announced he will retire. Trump Jr himself has not spoken about the Pennsylvania seat.

            Speaking to the Guardian this week, Rick Wilson, a former Republican consultant and member of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, called Trump Jr “a post-Republican Republican … there only to engage in that performative dickery that is lib-owning in the Trump world. It is a political performance art to show your contempt for norms, institutions and education.”

            Wilson went on to explain why, should Trump Jr actually consider a run for office, that might be an asset.

            “It has become the ideological underpinning of the GOP. There’s no party of ideas any longer. There’s no there there except for sort of the screeching fury of Trumpism.”
            _______________
            My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

            Comment


            • GOP lawmaker: Republican appeals to QAnon supporters show "we've lost our way"

              Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) believes that the Republican Party's endorsement of a candidate who supports the QAnon conspiracy theory and its misinformation shows the GOP has "lost our way," he told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday.

              Driving the news: Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon supporter and Republican nominee for Georgia's 14th Congressional District, received $5,000 from the National Republican Congressional Committee on Sept. 25 as a formal endorsement of her campaign, the Daily Beast first reported.

              What he's saying: "So I might as well just piss everybody off, Chuck. So I think if we're doing this, if we're looking at the spread of misinformation as part of something just to pander to a certain subset of voters, I think we've lost our way," Riggleman said on "Meet the Press" after being asked about the message the endorsement of Greene sends.
              • Riggleman underlined his supportfor Republican ideas and "a lot of what President Trump has done," but he added that "when we start to actually represent as a party that's part of this anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that believes there's some kind of pedophilic cabal on the Democratic side of the House, I think we're in for a rough ride."
              • Pointing to his background as a former intelligence officer, Riggleman said, "I guess I scratch my head ... cause what are we doing here? Like I said before, these are people that believe 'Lord of the Rings' is a documentary, and the fact that we're trying to appeal to them is just ridiculous to me."
              Between the lines: President Trump has repeatedly refused to condemn QAnon.
              • Trump said during NBC's 2020 town hall event that he did not know much about the far-right conspiracy theory, despite the FBI labeling it as a domestic terrorist threat in 2019.
              • Several QAnon supporters are running for Congress.
              My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                GOP lawmaker: Republican appeals to QAnon supporters show "we've lost our way"

                Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) believes that the Republican Party's endorsement of a candidate who supports the QAnon conspiracy theory and its misinformation shows the GOP has "lost our way," he told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday.

                Driving the news: Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon supporter and Republican nominee for Georgia's 14th Congressional District, received $5,000 from the National Republican Congressional Committee on Sept. 25 as a formal endorsement of her campaign, the Daily Beast first reported.

                What he's saying: "So I might as well just piss everybody off, Chuck. So I think if we're doing this, if we're looking at the spread of misinformation as part of something just to pander to a certain subset of voters, I think we've lost our way," Riggleman said on "Meet the Press" after being asked about the message the endorsement of Greene sends.
                • Riggleman underlined his supportfor Republican ideas and "a lot of what President Trump has done," but he added that "when we start to actually represent as a party that's part of this anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that believes there's some kind of pedophilic cabal on the Democratic side of the House, I think we're in for a rough ride."
                • Pointing to his background as a former intelligence officer, Riggleman said, "I guess I scratch my head ... cause what are we doing here? Like I said before, these are people that believe 'Lord of the Rings' is a documentary, and the fact that we're trying to appeal to them is just ridiculous to me."
                Between the lines: President Trump has repeatedly refused to condemn QAnon.
                • Trump said during NBC's 2020 town hall event that he did not know much about the far-right conspiracy theory, despite the FBI labeling it as a domestic terrorist threat in 2019.
                • Several QAnon supporters are running for Congress.
                RIggleman used to be at the core of the 21st Century GOP in Virginia....businessman, impeccable NAT SEC credentials, gun rights, but less of a culture warrior. He got primaried...not even primaried....defeated in a drive through convention...by a religious conservative. His crime? Residing at the wedding of 2 Log Cabin Republicans... members of his staff.

                When the GOP has lost the Rigglemans....
                “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                Mark Twain

                Comment


                • AR, could you enlighten me on this Executive Order that changes government employees from competitive service to excepted service. Seems like that is a way to now get rid of anyone who doesn't agree with Trump and toe his line verbatim.

                  Comment


                  • Enablement: The tortured self-justification of one very powerful Trump-loathing anonymous Republican

                    Said the Republican of President Trump: “I thought he would lose! I mean, everyone thought he would lose. The idea that he won is still shocking. This is a man who is so completely alien to what this country — the best principles of what this country is about. When I think about the fact that a hundred years from now, people will look back and say, ‘How the fuck did they think this was normal?,’ it makes me sad for the country. He’s a permanent scar on the face of our country.”
                    _______

                    Click on the title for the full article, it can't be re-posted here
                    My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by tbm3fan View Post
                      AR, could you enlighten me on this Executive Order that changes government employees from competitive service to excepted service. Seems like that is a way to now get rid of anyone who doesn't agree with Trump and toe his line verbatim.
                      That's the current read within DOD.

                      The union is reviewing before management tells who is impacted. I am at risk because I am management but the union is working, hard, to get this reversed or at least get some folks grandfathered.

                      If I hear more I'll let you know.
                      “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                      Mark Twain

                      Comment


                      • Donald Trump owes real estate debts of $1.1bn with $900m due in next four years, report says

                        Donald Trump has debts worth $1.1 billion and will owe $900 million of it during his second term as president if he wins the election, according to a report.

                        The huge sums of money are linked to his commercial real estate properties and golf courses, says the Financial Times.

                        Over the next two years the president reportedly has a loan due of $285 for his Avenue of the Americas tower in New York, and $162 million due on his California Street building in San Francisco.

                        The size of Mr Trump’s debts is almost twice the amount he has suggested during his campaign for the White House, according to Forbes.

                        With his assets estimated at $3.66 billion that would put the president’s net wealth at around $2.5 billion, says Forbes.

                        Mr Trump also has $257 million in loans taken out against Trump properties, which were packaged up and sold to a commercial mortgage-backed securities trust.

                        Mr Trump also owes $340 million to his biggest bank lender, Deutsche Bank.

                        According to the New York Times, which released information about the president’s taxes last month, the National Doral in Miami and the International Hotel in Washington are both losing significant amounts of money.

                        The president also has $25 million in loans with four smaller banks and an asset manager.

                        The loans are mortgages on Trump family properties in a New York suburb and Palm Beach, Florida.

                        They are also loans on Trump golf courses in New Jersey and Washington DC, and a residential tower in New York City.

                        Mr Trump also has a $50 million debt secured against the Trump International Tower and Hotel in Chicago.
                        __________

                        Gonna catch up with you sooner or later Donny. And if you lose next week, there goes your magic shield. And if the IRS wants their $100 million, your life will be worth less than a truckload of dead rats in a tampon factory.
                        My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                        Comment


                        • Resurfaced clip from 1990 shows Trump storm out of interview when asked about his finances

                          Donald Trump's history of walking out on journalists has resurfaced after the president made a campaign moment of his 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl.

                          The tactic dates back to at least 1990 when Mr Trump walked off a CNN interview when pressed on the economic outlook of his Atlantic City casinos.

                          When asked by reporter Charles Feldman about negative financial analyst predictions on the soon to open Trump Taj Mahal, Mr Trump lashed out.

                          "You aren't going to talk about positive people. You'll talk about the negative. You want to talk about the negative," Mr Trump said.

                          "You know what, do this interview with somebody else. Really. You don't need this. Do it with somebody else. Have a good time. Frankly, you're a very negative guy, and I think it's very unfair reporting. Good luck."


                          The video quickly circulated online after it was shared by CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski, who previously wrote about the exchange in 2016 after another walkout during Mr Trump’s first campaign.

                          "Trump's 60 Minutes interview reminded me of when he walked out of a 1990 interview with CNN when asked about his finances," Mr Kacynski said in a tweet.

                          Mr Trump wouldn't let go of the clash with Ms Stahl at his campaign rally in Michigan on Tuesday, saying there was "fire coming out of her eyes" during the interview.

                          In the 1990 interview, Mr Trump also attacked what he called the journalist's "unfair" attitude.

                          "I thought your demeanour was inaccurate, I thought that questions that you were posing to people in my organisation were inaccurate and false and unfair," Mr Trump said shortly before the walkout.

                          "I think the questions themselves were put in such a way that made them statements, and they became statements as opposed to questions and I think that's not good reporting."
                          _____________

                          Huh! Who would've known that Trump was always a little crybaby bitch. Oh right, everyone.


                          My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                          Comment


                          • Trump boasts ‘I’m a smart guy’ after report says he had $270m of debt written off

                            President Donald Trump has suggested he is a "smart guy rather than a bad guy" in response to a report alleging that he had some $287 million dollars worth of debt written off after refusing to pay up on a flailing Chicago real-estate development.

                            "As a developer long ago, and continuing to this day, the politicians ran Chicago into the ground," Mr Trump, 74, tweeted early on Wednesday morning as attempted to shift the blame for the failed venture onto locally elected officials.

                            "I was able to make an appropriately great deal with the numerous lenders on a large and very beautiful tower. Doesn’t that make me a smart guy rather than a bad guy?" the president added.

                            Fresh off the back off a three-city campaigning blitz, the president was firing back at a story published in the New York Times on Tuesday, which suggested he defaulted on loans used to finance the construction of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago back in 2008.

                            According to the Times report, Mr Trump visited the Windy City in September of 2008 to celebrate the near-completion of the skyscraper, built on 401 N. Wabash Ave at a time when the US economy had been decimated by the financial crash.

                            Due to the crisis, construction at the site waned as banks began to tighten their belts and recall previously outstanding loans as they desperately attempted to recover cash.

                            Among those loanees was the future 45th president of the United States, who it was revealed last month had paid just $750 in federal income in the first two years of his presidency in 2016 and 2017.

                            Trump, despite claiming to be a business titan, was not immune to the crash and found himself saddled with debt. But when the creditors came calling, he went walking. According to the Times, the president owed $287 million - most of which was related to his Chicago hotel.

                            Tax records unearthed by the Post reportedly show that some of Mr Trump's lenders gave him extra time to repay the loans and sliced off huge chunks of his total bill.

                            One bank even agreed to lend Trump a further $99 million after he filed a lawsuit against it, claiming that he was being preyed upon and hounded too aggressively for the money.

                            The debts form part of a wider deep-dive investigation into the Trump Organisation by New York state prosecutors. The Times reported Mr Trump paid no federal income tax on the money.
                            ________

                            "Cut me a completely undeserved break or I screw you even harder"
                            My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                            Comment


                            • ‘I’m Absolutely Expecting Him to Do Something Weird’: How Trump Could End His Presidency

                              As we count down the days to Election Day, the pundit class is wringing its hands in worry over whether President Donald Trump will accept a possible win by Joe Biden and agree to leave the White House.

                              But even if Trump calmly walks out the door of the White House on the morning of January 20th, a more immediate problem looms: What might Trump do with the final 77 days of his presidency if he loses? There are 1,860 hours between Wednesday, Nov. 4, and noon on Jan. 20, when Trump’s first term expires. And that’s plenty of time for him to upend plenty of presidential traditions.
                              he lame duck period is always a time when outgoing presidents feel free to stir up controversy. Even presidents who care deeply about their legacies and abide by democratic norms often take uniquely unpopular actions in the closing weeks of their presidencies: George H.W. Bush pardoned six officials behind the Iran-Contra scandal; Bill Clinton pardoned more than 140 people on his final day in office — a third of all the clemencies he granted as president — including financier Marc Rich, a controversy that dogged him as he moved into the post-presidency and launched one final investigation of his time in office. Just days before he left office, Barack Obama commuted the sentence of leaker Chelsea Manning.
                              So, imagine what might happen in a post-election period when Trump — a president who has spent four years demonstrating his lack of interest in norms and practices of a democracy — retains all the powers and authority of the presidency and officially has nothing left to lose?

                              Conversations with presidential legal experts, Constitutional scholars and national security officials identified six areas where Trump could do real damage to the country, his successor or presidential traditions — a list informed both by his past executive actions as well as the considerations he’d face as he considered a life outside the White House for him and his family. From a last-minute resignation to guarantee himself legal immunity to destroying historic records to launching a war, there’s reason to wonder if a Trump transition might actually be the start of the wildest chapter of an already controversial presidency.

                              Here’s what a Trump transition could include:

                              1) A pardon-a-palooza: If Trump loses, nearly everyone expects an unprecedented flurry of presidential pardons in his last 77 days — a way both to reward friends, protect his family, tweak his opponents and curry favor with those who may help him when he is back in private life. “The pardon power operates in the way he imagines the presidency to operate — you wave your hand and it’s done,” says Quinta Jurecic, the managing editor of the blog Lawfare. “I’m absolutely expecting him to do something weird.”

                              “The pardon power is the easiest to exercise,” says law professor Jack Goldsmith, who used to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

                              Presidential clemency, which Trump seems to remember from time to time and then issue a flurry of pardons in short order, has already proven to be one of his most controversial areas of executive action. And given his willingness to self-servingly commute the sentence of associate Roger Stone even while his reelection hung in the balance this summer, it’s clear that loosed from any political restraints, he might hand out pardons far and wide.

                              Experts expect a few different buckets of post-election pardons: First, presidential get-out-of-jail-free cards for those already caught up in the Russia investigation — people like Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and perhaps including Paul Manafort, who has repeatedly obstructed and stymied efforts to pierce what really transpired during the 2016 campaign. The one exception who might be left out in the cold? His former lawyer Michael Cohen, who Trump believes betrayed him by cooperating with investigators and speaking publicly.

                              Second, look for the possibility of blanket, preemptive pardons for the president’s own family, close friends and campaign associates. Presidential pardons — as Gerald Ford demonstrated in pardoning Nixon — don’t require existing criminal charges; they can also be used to block attempts to bring federal charges in the future. Trump’s application in this category could include both people already under criminal indictment — like Steve Bannon — those who appear to be under federal investigation, like Brad Parscale and Rudy Giuliani, as well as perhaps even family members like Jared Kushner, Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric who may face investigation and charges after Trump leaves office. As president, he’s repeatedly offered pardons to officials involved in some of his controversial policies, like immigration enforcement and child separation, and he could also issue blanket pardons to cabinet secretaries, agency heads and other loyal government officials that would allow them to skirt any post-Trump investigations into their actions in office. Any actions along these lines would surely ignite political firestorms — and might lead to Congress attempting to legislate limits on presidential pardon authority going forward — but for now there’s not much that can be done to appeal or fight a presidential pardon.
                              President Donald Trump stands alongside Steve Bannon in 2017. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

                              The third type of presidential pardons or commutations that might emerge from the White House post-election is what might be called the “Fox & Friends and Friends of Fox” category. Throughout his presidency, Trump has seemed uniquely susceptible to being lobbied directly on-air through his favorite TV programs for presidential clemency. He has pardoned high-profile conservatives like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Dinesh D’Souza, Scooter Libby, Rod Blagojevich, Bernard Kerik, Conrad Black and the Hammond family — and he also intervened in the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s war-crimes courts-martial — causes championed by Fox hosts, guests or others with the president’s ear outside the normal clemency process run by the Justice Department Office of the Pardon Attorney. He pardoned one Tennessee woman at the request of Kim Kardashian West, who lobbied Trump to grant her a pardon through his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

                              He’s also shown an odd flair for “historic” pardons, including suffragette Susan B. Anthony and boxer Jack Johnson. While he’s talked publicly about pardoning Martha Stewart, the most controversial pardon that might be on Trump’s mind appears to be whistleblower Edward Snowden, a move so stunningly explosive that even attorney general Bill Barr opposes it. “I’m going to take a very good look at it,” Trump said this summer.

                              Most experts don’t think Trump would pursue more sweeping actions aimed at bolstering his historical legacy, like, say, pardoning everyone in federal prison convicted of a marijuana-related offense or every police officer convicted of murder — or further tweaking his foes, as in pardoning everyone ever prosecuted by Jim Comey. Trump, our experts suggested, is simply too transactional for such grand gestures — and it’s not clear how such moves would play nor what benefit would accrue to him for doing them. Moreover, the more complicated and sweeping the legal action, the less easy it is to execute quickly or cleanly — and the Trump administration has demonstrated time and again that attention-to-detail is not its strength.

                              Regardless of who ends up getting clemency in the closing days of a Trump presidency, his pardons aren’t all-powerful and wouldn’t necessarily allow anyone to escape criminal sanctions entirely: Presidential pardons only wipe away federal charges, and there’s plenty of reason to believe that state and local prosecutors — particularly in New York — are pursuing separate investigations of his family and other associates. New York actually tried just that tack with Manafort, indicting him on state fraud charges, but a judge dismissed the charges after deciding that it overlapped with his federal case too much.

                              The biggest open question would be if Trump could engineer a way to ensure that he himself isn’t charged: The Mueller Report accepted that a president has federal legal immunity while in office, but currently there’s nothing to stop a federal prosecutor from picking up post-January 20 where Mueller left off. Trump has previously asserted he has the “absolute right to PARDON myself,” but legal experts doubt whether a president could successfully “self-pardon,” and the legal battle over such an attempt would unfold only after criminal charges were brought against the former president and he sought to offer as a defense the fact that he’d pardoned himself.

                              The cleanest — and legally bulletproof — way for Trump to escape any further federal investigation post-presidency would be for him to resign early, even just minutes before noon on January 20, and have a newly sworn-in President Mike Pence grant him a full and complete pardon. However, such a move would seem to be un-Trump — he seems unlikely to be willing to leave the presidency a minute early — and would be incredibly dicey politically for Pence, who clearly has own presidential ambitions for 2024.

                              2) Revenge on the Deep State: The area where a defeated Trump’s transition might look most normal is in its rush and whirl of actions to codify and cement various policies and practices before the clock expires on his presidency — but it’s clear that Trump’s reserving his biggest battles for the imagined forces that have held him back in office, as well as perhaps one final stab at cementing a decade-long tilt to the GOP in Congress. As is often the case as a presidential term winds down, government agencies already appear to be racing to unveil major actions, from the long-awaited filing of an antitrust case against Google to the settlement of a long-running lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for its role in opioids.

                              But, experts say, Trump could go farther than his predecessors in trying to unravel the way the federal government operates.In recent weeks, there have been a flurry of actions that appear aimed at exacting lasting change on the government — particularly if Trump wins reelection. In particular came a surprise, sweeping executive order last week that would undo decades of civil service protections and allow the president to reach deep into the bureaucracy to fire federal employees he disliked. The move — met with shock, an immediate lawsuit and at least one protest resignation from a Trump official — had been in the works for years.

                              While the executive order changes might be short-lived if Biden takes office, the carefully laid groundwork suggests that Trump will continue to wage war on his imagined “Deep State” until the final hours of his presidency. “They’ve actually given some thought to this already — it’s a little bit surprising. I’m even a little taken aback by the institutional-type things that have unfolded just in the last week,” says one legal observer.

                              Another particular area of concern for lame duck mischief is the U.S. Census, which the Trump administration has spent all year handicapping and undermining. Just weeks after the election, the Supreme Court is likely to rule on the Trump administration’s hope to exclude noncitizens from its population counts for the purposes of congressional apportionment — a move with potentially dramatic consequences for federal funding and congressional representation in states that have large numbers of undocumented immigrants; the move would likely help largely homogeneous states at the expense of diverse states. One think tank’s analysis suggests that the Trump approach would cost California, Florida and Texas each one congressional seat (and thus, one electoral vote), while delivering an extra congressional district (and electoral vote) to Ohio, Alabama and Minnesota.

                              Census watchers, already alarmed at the Trump administration’s battle to cut short the count mid-pandemic, fear that the White House — rather than acting an honest broker pass-through to Congress for apportionment purposes by the December 31st deadline — might instead doctor the decennial numbers itself.

                              There is a limit to what Trump will be able to pull off. Push-back from the more process-oriented bureaucracy — and the normal checks and balances on executive action — would likely hinder his ability to deploy the powers of the government at whim. And any broadly controversial unilateral executive actions — like say, ordering ICE to embark on a mass deportation campaign in Trump’s final weeks or expanding the administration’s Muslim travel ban — would immediately run into the same problems such programs already have earlier in the Trump administration: Court injunctions, prolonged legal fights and limits imposed by congressional appropriation procedures. But that’s not to say that a defeated Trump might not try some wilder actions anyway.
                              “Early in the administration they threw just a lot of stuff at the wall. ‘We’ve got 100 ideas, let’s just try it all and see what sticks,’ and they weren’t really paying attention to what the odds were whether it got through,” says one legal observer. “It seems like they might try to do the same here — even if it just ties up the Biden administration for a while undoing it.”

                              3) The mass firing of top officials: Trump’s already widely telegraphing that he has a list of people to fire ready in the event of a win. The list includes officials who have rankled him through the year — including FBI Director Christopher Wray, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and CIA Director Gina Haspel — and presumably might include an even wider housecleaning of people viewed insufficiently loyal to Team Trump.

                              Even if Trump loses, though, he may move to fire some officials, simply symbolically or for pure pettiness. It’s unlikely that the Senate in its own lame duck session could move quickly enough to confirm replacements for them, which means the firings of Wray and Haspel in particular would almost certainly be a gift to an incoming Biden administration: No president has ever had the opportunity to immediately select a new FBI director.

                              Other career government officials, like American heartthrob Dr. Anthony Fauci, who serves as the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, would be more isolated from presidential umbrage. Trump, in theory, could order Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar or the head of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, to fire Fauci — and fire them if they refuse — but the current civil service protections would mean that Fauci could likely appeal and successfully run out the clock on the Trump administration before he would be forced to leave his office.

                              4) The destruction of records and obstruction of the new administration: The Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act in theory guarantee the preservation of the official history of the White House’s work, presidential actions and staff debates. However, just how closely the Trump White House plans to abide by them remains an open question.

                              “They’re just going to not care about the Records Act — just like they didn’t care about the Hatch Act. It falls into the category of nuisance laws that they just don’t think apply to them. Like what’s going to happen to them if they don’t?” says one legal observer. “That’s less indicative of him and more about the type of people he has brought around him.”

                              A coalition of 12 open-government organizations wrote a letter earlier this month to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) asking Archivist David Ferriero to take affirmative steps to preserve Trump records. “We are alarmed and deeply concerned by the Trump administration’s failure to honor its legal responsibility to create and preserve records. Reportedly President Trump rips up his papers and had concealed documents detailing meetings with foreign leaders. Agency leaders have shown similar disregard for records creation and preservation,” the group wrote. “These actions subvert the public’s right to know and obstruct future efforts to hold the administration accountable.”
                              While the automatic backups and preservation procedures for some electronic records of the White House and government agencies would make them difficult to delete or destroy entirely, other sensitive, controversial hard-copy records might be tempting to destroy, even if illegal. “Golly, the documents they must have,” says one observer. “Email is regularized, but the documents kept in safes and SCIFs, next to burn bags? It’s an open temptation.”

                              It already seems likely that historians will never be able to fully reconstruct the foreign and domestic policy thinking in the Trump years: Reports show that Jared Kushner used WhatsApp to communicate with foreign leaders and that White House aides have used secure apps to talk amongst themselves — actions that violate federal law if those exchanges are not preserved.

                              One fact working against any Trump effort to bury the truth: He famously does most of his ethically questionable business face-to-face. In congressional testimonies and interviews damning Trump by figures like Jim Comey, Michael Cohen and Gordon Sondland, they’ve all compared him to a mafia boss who gives opaque — but unmistakable — orders. “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates,” Cohen said. “He would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie.” As Comey explained pressure from Trump, “I mean, this is a president of the United States with me alone saying, ‘I hope this.’ I took it as, ‘This is what he wants me to do.’” Such behavior, in some ways, would be easier to preserve than a paper record, since the witnesses to it will be walking out of the White House themselves too. As a former government lawyer says, “His verbal orders might live to haunt him. He appears to commit obstruction of justice as a way of life.”

                              Beyond simply making it impossible for the country and historians to ever fully understand what happened — and why — during the Trump administration, the destruction of such records could also make it enormously hard for the Biden administration to assume power smoothly on Jan. 20 as a lack of documentation or institutional history would stymie their ability to understand government plans or actions already underway.

                              Especially if uncertainty about the outcome post-election lingers, Trump may also stall engaging with Biden’s team — or refuse to participate in any transitional conversations at all. Given the acrimony of the year already, it’s not clear that the two sides would even trust each other even if they do engage in normal transition exercises and meetings. Instead, Biden “landing teams” at agencies will likely find a patchwork of cooperation and noncooperation, depending on agency leadership and engagement. The Biden transition team is reportedly already planning for the possibility where the Trump administration refuses customary briefings.

                              While records-destruction presents one problem, the opposite problem seems likely to unfold too in the closing days of any Trump administration: Trump has been rushing to settle scores with past political foes by releasing the Durham report on the origins of the Russia investigation and has been pressuring Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to declassify more emails from Hillary Clinton. The administration might well rush to push out any remaining dirt on political opponents in its final days.

                              5) Military conflict or covert action: Up until the final minutes of a presidency, the so-called “nuclear football” remains close at hand for the commander-in-chief, and while presidents have traditionally delayed potentially escalatory actions during a transition to avoid hamstringing their successor, such restraint is merely a norm.
                              In theory, Trump could launch military strikes, initiate covert actions and even launch a full-scale nuclear war right up until 11:59 a.m. on Jan. 20.

                              There are precedents for other officials in the chain of command attempting to curtail a president’s unilateral nuclear authority; Nixon’s defense secretary, James Schlesinger, said later that he had left orders in the closing days of Nixon’s administration unraveling amid Watergate that if the president gave a launch order, it should be double-checked with him or Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. More recently, under Trump, then-Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are said to have made a pact in the early days of the administration that both men wouldn’t travel abroad at the same time, ensuring one would always remain available in the U.S. to monitor presidential orders.

                              However, such orders or plans are strictly extra-constitutional and wouldn’t necessarily forestall a valid, legal order from the commander-in-chief to execute an attack or operation.

                              Military leaders have previously said they would not comply with an illegal order, but that’s actually a much more narrow viewpoint than the public usually interprets. It’s not a blanket reassurance that the military would ignore an illogical presidential order, it literally means that they would not comply with an order that violates international or military law, a tightly proscribed set of actions that revolve around questions like proportionality and the status of noncombatants.

                              What if Trump begins to up the pressure on China in the South China Sea or decides in his closing weeks as president to go after Iran either in cyberspace or the real world, as he started the year assassinating top military leader Qasem Soleimani? Would the White House staff or military chain of command resist reckless actions that could lead to a lame duck war? “I can imagine a low-level constitutional crisis if he starts being aggressive,” says one former official.

                              It’s possible too that if the president greenlights actions against foreign adversaries in cyberspace or certain covert actions, that his final presidential actions may go publicly unnoticed and emerge only months or years later. Covert actions routinely are handed off from one administration to another; President Bush initiated cyberattacks against the Iranian nuclear program before handing off the operation, known as OLYMPIC GAMES, to Obama in 2009. Obama, for his part, deferred a major special forces operation targeting Yemen for Trump to execute after he took office; the operation, approved just days into Trump’s presidency, went awry and ended with the death of a Navy SEAL. Would Trump offer the same courtesy to a successor — or push forward with any proposed covert actions over the weeks ahead to claim the possible credit himself?

                              6) Giving up on the pandemic: One widespread concern is that if Trump loses, the White House will just cease any effort to combat the pandemic, perhaps slowing the push for a vaccine or abandoning any congressional push to jumpstart the still-ailing economy — a three-month delay ahead of a Biden administration that might have catastrophic consequences for millions of families and hamstring the Biden team even further as they inherit an even-deeper hole to dig out of in 2021. Already, even pre-election, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appears to be throwing in the towel on the pandemic.

                              The good news — if you can call it that — is that our experts see little real effect if Trump loses next week and then retires to Mar-a-Lago to tweet and golf out the remainder of his presidency. As Meadows’ comment made clear, the sad truth is that the White House has been so disengaged from the pandemic response for so long that a total abdication of its role wouldn’t likely look all that different. Similarly, congressional and administration action on economic relief for the Covid-19 pandemic has already been stalled since May.

                              One area of concern, though, is if the Trump administration decides to take its foot off the gas on vaccine efforts — the president’s much vaunted Operation Warp Speed and relentless push for a pre-election vaccine might quickly lose momentum after Nov. 3. But even if the government attention wanes, so much of the vaccine race is being managed by private companies (as well as by foreign governments) that it may not matter dramatically for the vaccine calendar.
                              ___________

                              1. Kind of a "Duh" factor here. The pardon-palooza is by far the most likely event. Like every other president, Trump will issue a flurry of pardons, but he'll ramp it up to norm-shattering levels of sleaze.
                              2. Also a near-certainty. Trump will practice his usual brand of vindictive retribution, without a shred of remorse.
                              3. Ditto the mass-firing of top officials. But this is also in line with other presidents that usually shake up their administration after the first term, to one degree or another. In Trump's case, it'll be out of sheer malice and spite.
                              4. It's yet another near-certainty that records have already been destroyed. This will only ramp up dramatically if and when the election is called for Biden.
                              5. This is, by an order of magnitude, the least likely of scenarios. Trump is a moral and physical coward, which in this instance is his most admirable trait. Starting a war isn't even on his radar: There's nothing in it for him.
                              6. He gave up on the pandemic long before it even started.
                              My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                              Comment


                              • Giuliani gets irate after Fox News's Kennedy questions his Hunter Biden allegations: 'You better apologize!'

                                Appearing on on Fox Business Channel’s Kennedy Tuesday night, President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani became enraged after being compared to Christopher Steele, the man behind the infamous, and questionable, Steele dossier. The host, whose full name is Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, made the comparison as Giuliani repeatedly pushed uncorroborated allegations about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, allegations that originally appeared in the New York Post. Giuliani supplied the Post with the story that most news outlets passed on over concerns about credibility. Fox News passed on the story for those exact concerns, and it was even reported that the New York Post writer refused to put his name on it. Despite pushing unverified, salacious allegations, as did Steele, Giuliani took the comparison as a personal affront.

                                “Some could say that you are acting like Christopher Steele,” Kennedy said. “That you are abstracting information, and because…” “You gotta be kidding me,” Giuliani interrupted. “I was acting like Christopher Steele?” “That’s what it sounds like,” Kennedy retorted. “When you look at…” “You better apologize!” Giuliani cut her off once more. “You better apologize for that!”

                                From that point on, the interview was pretty much off the rails.

                                “What you are saying is an outrageous defamation of me. Of my reputation. Every single thing is here, and I want you to look at it and then apologize to me!” Giuliani screamed at Kennedy, later adding, “I came on your show in good faith to give you evidence that is being withheld from the American people, and I get defamed! That’s outrageous!”

                                Kennedy tried to move on, asking, “Are you still working on behalf of the president?” But Giuliani had had enough, saying, “I think our interview — I think our interview is now over.” “I haven’t even gotten to the part about Borat,” Kennedy responded.

                                Giuliani may wish he had actually ended the interview right then because Kennedy did eventually get to the part about Borat. Giuliani unwittingly became the target of one of Sacha Baron Cohen’s pranks in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, released last Friday. In it, Giuliani finds himself in a questionable situation with Borat’s 15-year-old daughter Tutar, played by 24-year-old Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova.

                                “Do you regret your interaction in the Borat movie?” Kennedy asked. Giuliani replied, “Now that’s a stupid question, isn’t it?” “No, it’s not stupid at all…” “That’s really a stupid question,” Giuliani interrupted. “I have a 15-year-old daughter,” Kennedy said. “I watched that and I was kinda grossed out by it.”
                                ________

                                Mr. Mayor, you might want to think about retiring to a cabin in the woods, somewhere with no Internet service. Like, right now.
                                My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                                Comment

                                Working...
                                X