“We are experiencing a dangerous time in our country, with a political environment where basic facts are disputed, fundamental truth is questioned, lying is normalized, and unethical behavior is ignored, excused or rewarded.”
— James Comey, “A Higher Loyalty”
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (4/26/
Dear Fellow Readers,
Some days politics seems like something worse than just a dirty word. Certainly, as the Washington Post documents, Trump and his cronies contribute to such a feeling: The Daily 202: Mick Mulvaney’s Confession Highlights The Corrosive Influence Of Money In Politics.
As Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve write about the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and former Rep. (R-SC) Mick Mulvaney, his comments stand as a reminder of how infrequently we hear a real admission that confirms our worst suspicions with politics.
“If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”
Mulvaney brags taht he operates as a pay-to-play politician. In the same speech to 1,300 attendees at a American Bankers Association conference that he is planning to end public access to a database of 1.5 million consumer complaints on financial companies and products launched in 2011. He assures us that consumers can still register a complaint; we simply won’t have an accessible public record of these complaints. In fairness to Mulvaney, he did say his office was open to constituents, it was only lobbyists that where pay-to-play access applied.
Mulvaney should get a thank-you note from the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt for offering a distraction from the daily drip, drip, drip of accusations and reports of his shoddy ethics.
Gift from heaven…really?
Trump and cronies were not the only political figures having a bad day in the news. The Financial Times reported: Chasing Hillary: On The Road With A Cloistered, Would-be President.
The article is behind a paywall but the subhead speaks volumes about the 2016 campaign: Chozick’s book reveals how Clinton team believed Trump’s run was ‘gift from heaven’.
There are many reviews of Amy Chozick’s new book. This one by Edward Luce writing for the Financial Times is behind a pay-wall, but some of his writing is shared because of his insights. Luce starts with, “…Each morning one of Clinton’s aides would announce her mood. Much like the Iowan winter, it was rarely bright. “Crabby with a chance of outburst,” writes Chozick sardonically.”
Luce and Chozick offer a reminder of why many were attracted to Trump’s style:
“Even Clinton’s wit, which is famously brilliant when she is out of public earshot, fell victim to her campaign. Each joke was heavily scripted by teams of aides. “They fought over and rewrote jokes to the point of high parody until even the simplest punch line felt as heavy as a loaf of bread kneaded to an inch of its life,” writes Chozick, who is nothing if not merciless.”
While Luce offers that the book is “worth it’s price in stilettoed prose”, we’ll move back across the aisle and towards Trump-Russia corruption.
House Majority Leader, and Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) choice to replace him, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sank his chance to be Speaker instead of Ryan when in 2015 he came clean with the public and let us know the Select Committee on Benghazi was simply about undermining Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate. It was McCarthy in 2016 who also stated, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. It’s worth remembering, Ryan then swore all present to secrecy.
These rare glimpses from inside the sausage factory make honesty in politics feel like a rare commodity.
What are we to believe – Trump’s denial or Trump’s denial of his denial?
Carl Sandburg offered, “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell”. An apt description of Trump’s behavior who might be better off if he heeded Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) advice, “when you’re innocent…act like it”.
Moscow lullabye lies
It’s weird, given how much coverage there has been, why would Trump try to deny he stayed overnight in Moscow during the Miss Universe pageant in 2013?
The Washington Post and other media reported: Trump’s denials that he stayed overnight in Russia are falling apart.
Bloomberg broke a story tracking the private jet used by Trump for the trip and he arrived on Friday and departed on Sunday. Trump told then-FBI Director James Comey that he did not stay overnight in Moscow. The reason this is important is because of the Steele dossier memo alleging that Trump watched as Russian prostitutes urinated on the bed. Here’s the excerpt from Comey’s memo covering his dinner with Trump on January 18, 2017:
“He said he had spoken to people who had been on the Miss Universe trip with him and they had reminded him that he didn’t stay overnight in Russia for that. He said he arrived in the morning, did events, then showered and dressed for the pageant at the hotel (he didn’t say the hotel name) and left for the pageant. Afterward, he returned only to get his things because they departed for New York by plane that same night.”
Here’s an excerpt from a second Comey memo of a later conversation with Trump:
“The president brought up the ‘Golden Showers thing’ and said it really bothered him if his wife had any doubt about it. He then explained, as he did at our dinner, that he hadn’t stayed overnight in Russia.”
These are but a few of the corroborating stories: Miss Universe 2013 Host Thomas Roberts Confirms: Trump Stayed Overnight in Moscow.
“Thomas Roberts, host of that year’s Miss Universe pageant, confirmed to The Daily Beast on Tuesday that Trump was in Moscow for one full night and at least part of another.
““The first time I met Donald Trump it was in Moscow on November 8th, 2013,” the former NBC anchor said. “I taped a sit-down interview with Trump the next day on November 9th. That was also the date for the Miss Universe broadcast.””
But, as well all know in Trumpland, there is always more…
In addition to the pageant host, there is the story shared by former Miss Hungary:
““We were in Russia at the final for the Miss Universe, and then a man approached me and grabbed my hand, drew me to himself and asked, ‘Who are you?’” Sarka said, according to a translation by the Daily News, of the interaction, which took place at an afterparty for the pageant. According to the former beauty queen, the man was surrounded by bodyguards. …
“Sarka continued her story, recalling how the man invited her back to his hotel room. “And then he said, ‘And why are you here?’” she said. “And he gave me his business card with his private number and told me in which hotel and which room he is staying in. And his name is Donald Trump.””
Or we could just settle for what Trump’s former bodyguard Keith Schiller told Congress when he he stood guard after an offer to “send five women” to Trump’s hotel room.
Or, if you you prefer, here’s Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks referring to Trump as a pathological liar. Thanks to a Commoner Call reader for this: It’s Real: Trump’s Pee Tape Alibi IMMEDIATELY Debunked.
As Cenk points out, you could just go by what Trump shared via social media, “so why lie?” More directly, Cenk questions, “why would you lie about that if you weren’t doing the golden showers thing?”
Reporter who has covered him for 30 years warns Trump is a “traitor”
A Washington Post headline asked the question lots of people are asking these days: Trump Keeps Saying He’s Innocent. So Why Does He Keep Sounding Like He’s Guilty?
Trump’s lies about his trip to Moscow for the pageant would be trivial if he weren’t president and if he didn’t lie constantly. We’ve reported the contradiction of Trump’s assurances that his long time fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen won’t “flip” while also denouncing the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt”.
“It was only the latest instance of the president adopting a posture vis-a-vis his legal troubles that is both combative and defensive — and, perhaps unwittingly, seems to assume guilt.”
There was much discussion of how much media coverage Trump benefitted from during his campaign. That same media attention may not feel so advantageous now.
“If in fact he has nothing to worry about on the issue of Russian collusion, which is the big enchilada, then anything he does or says that’s a criticism of Mueller is a huge mistake,” said Davis, arguing that with every outburst Trump risks adding a new exhibit to any obstruction-of-justice case. “Every time that he tweets about Michael Cohen and about flipping and about Mueller and FBI and all of the political rhetoric in his tweets, he is in fact extending the subject matter of the Mueller investigation.”
Maybe if the mainstream corporate media stops pulling punches, Russpublicans will have to answer for their complicity: Pulitzer-Winning Reporter David Cay Johnston: “The evidence suggests Trump is a traitor”.
The article’s subhead offer one of the more tantalizing comments to date: Investigative reporter who has covered Trump for 30 years dares to imagine impeachment — and President Nancy Pelosi.
Chauncey Devega interviews investigative reporter David Cay Johnston. For 30 years, Johnston has covered Trump’s life and career, as detailed in the bestselling book “The Making of Donald Trump.“ His new book is “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America.“ There is a longer version of the interview available as a podcast with a link in the article.
Johnston comments on Hillary’s “baggage” and Trump’s opportune time to run for office as well as having an ear for the right message. He also comments on the lack of due diligence by the media to the benefit of Trump:
“But The New York Times, in the 16 months from Trump’s [campaign] announcement to Election Day, had exactly four references that had “Trump” and “Mafia” in the same story, and they were all in passing and inconsequential.”
Johnston fits in a dire warning that if Russpublicans hold the House and Senate through the mid-term elections the door is open to a competent version of Trump and “you can kiss your individual liberties goodbye”. Sadly he also points out the feeble Hillary message that “came across as “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.””
This is worthy of highlighting as many Dems run a similar campaign risk which Johnston offers as:
“What I would say to the Democrats is, “Your first and fundamental mission is to tell people what you are for.” Not that you’re against Trump. Being against Trump doesn’t get you very far. It will get you some people who hate Trump. But what are you for? What you want to say is: We will get the incredible burden of health care off the back of small businesses. We will make it so you don’t have to stick with an employer because you have health care and you don’t want to run the risk of switching or losing it. We want to relieve business of the burden of health care like every other modern country, and it will save everyone money.”
But it is Johnston’s conclusion that deserves our attention:
“Let me be very clear and quotable about this. At an absolute minimum, Donald Trump has divided loyalties, and the evidence we already have suggests that Donald Trump is a traitor. In fact, I would say that the evidence we already have, the public materials such as emails for example, strongly indicate that Donald Trump is a traitor. However, I don’t even think he understands what he’s done.”
So dems, say what you are for instead of what you are against. PLEASE!
Trump is the end state of the normalization of lying in politics. Somewhere between 20% and 40% of U.S. voters couldn’t care, he’s their tribal leader. But as horrible as Trump and his administration are, things can get a lot worse.
David Cay Johnston warns that if we fail to make changes through the mid-term elections we risk an authoritarian government.
Johnston advises that Dems need to define “what you are for”. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) is running for reelection and she tells us she is “Putting Wisconsin First”. If you scroll past the opportunity to contribute money to her campaign you can find a headline that “lays out campaign themes” as delivered in a recent speech. What is then explained is (only) this:
“Across the state, we have seen how special interests work to line their own pockets and have Wisconsin working families foot the bill,” Baldwin said. “Well, they can’t keep on undermining the American Dream.”
Are Dems setting up to snatch defeat in spite of the assurances and certainty of a Blue Wave?
Commoner Call Editor’s Note
So Tammy Baldwin’s campaign slogan is “Wisconsin First”…
Hmm, where might we have heard another very similar campaign slogan in 2016? Where or where. Oh … my … God … they couldn’t be so stupid, could they … Trump’s “America First”.
When I called out Baldwin’s campaign manager on this at the recent state democratic party county chair meeting the campaign manager said — after a deer in the headlight “Oh, shit” look on his face — that the senator actually shared some of Trump’s concerns about things like jobs!
OMG, is this fool a Trump plant? Maybe he’s a Glenn Grothman intern…
So, I asked, just to be sure I was hearing things right, “The Tammy Baldwin campaign strategy is to ride Donald Trump’s coattails to victory? Really?”
The short answer is, “Yes.”
Still believe in a Blue Wave? Unless the campaign changes quickly, not in the Wisconsin senate race.
— Mark L. Taylor