“They are all shiny-suit banditos, relishing . They would stuff the republic into a burlap sack if they could.”
— Jack Holmes for Esquire re: the Trump kids.
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (3/7/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
We will do two things in today’s edition: First we’ll consider a factor in the slow public embrace for impeachment; Then we’ll cover news of one Trump criminal act, exactly the parade of news that could fuel public support for impeachment.
On Tuesday Quinnipiac University released a poll that said “only 35 percent favor starting the impeachment process, and many more — 59 percent — oppose it”. This in spite of attitudes about whether Trump “committed crimes”:
“A Quinnipiac University poll Tuesday carried this striking top-line number: 64 percent of Americans before he became president. And 45 percent say they think he committed crimes while serving in the Oval Office.”
Polls about impeachment are interesting but ahead of a report by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office maybe not highly important. What is important is the consistent strength polling shows for Trump amongst Republicans. Given news from The New Yorker, this is less surprising: The Making Of The Fox News White House.
The tag line for Jane Mayer’s article is “Fox News has always been partisan. But has it become propaganda?” Is that even a question? Doesn’t this statement answer the question?
“Hemmer argues that Fox—which, as the most watched cable news network, generates about $2.7 billion a year for its parent company, 21st Century Fox—acts as a force multiplier for Trump, solidifying his hold over the Republican Party and intensifying his support. “Fox is not just taking the temperature of the base—it’s raising the temperature,” she says. “It’s a radicalization model.” For both Trump and Fox, “fear is a business strategy—it keeps people watching.” As the President has been beset by scandals, congressional hearings, and even talk of impeachment, Fox has been both his shield and his sword. The White House and Fox interact so seamlessly that it can be hard to determine, during a particular news cycle, which one is following the other’s lead. All day long, Trump retweets claims made on the network; his press secretary, , has largely stopped holding press conferences, but she has made some thirty appearances on such shows as “” and “Hannity.” Trump, Hemmer says, has “almost become a programmer.””
The entirety of Mayer’s article is a long but great read; we’ll jump to one of the most damning aspects of the Trump-Fox relationship. Starting with a question about a potential impeachable offense:
“In the late summer of 2017, a few months before the Justice Department filed suit [challenging the AT&T-Time Warner merger], Trump ordered Gary Cohn, then the director of the National Economic Council, to pressure the Justice Department to intervene. According to a well-informed source, Trump called Cohn into the Oval Office along with John Kelly, who had just become the chief of staff, and said in exasperation to Kelly, “I’ve been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing’s happened! I’ve mentioned it fifty times. And nothing’s happened. I want to make sure it’s filed. I want that deal blocked!”
In a move of great benefit to Fox owner Rupert Murdoch and potentially damaging to CNN Trump wanted to interfere with the proposed merger. Trump’s director Gary Cohn knew this was improper and told Kelly, “Don’t you fucking dare call the Justice Department. We are not going to do business that way.”
As always and forever with Trump, there’s always more. Fox fed Trump a debate question in advance. While interesting we’ll rush past this to more damning Trump-Fox news:
“The 2016 campaign was nearing its end, and Trump and Clinton were all but tied. That fall, a FoxNews.com reporter had a story that put the network’s journalistic integrity to the test. Diana Falzone, who often covered the entertainment industry, had obtained proof that Trump had engaged in a sexual relationship in 2006 with a pornographic film actress calling herself Stormy Daniels…Falzone had also amassed e-mails between Daniels’s attorney and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, detailing a proposed cash settlement, accompanied by a nondisclosure agreement. Falzone had even seen the contract.
“But Falzone’s story didn’t run—it kept being passed off from one editor to the next. After getting one noncommittal answer after another from her editors, Falzone at last heard from [Ken] LaCorte, who was then the head of FoxNews.com. Falzone told colleagues that LaCorte said to her, “Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.” LaCorte denies telling Falzone this, but one of Falzone’s colleagues confirms having heard her account at the time.”
That’s right, Fox killed the Stormy Daniels hush money payment story just ahead of the election.
That story eventually came forward and the most recent news adds to the list of criminal acts that could seal Trump’s impeachment: In The Middle Of His Official Business, Trump Took The Time To Send Checks To Michael Cohen.
When Trump was asked about $130,000 in hush money payments to Stormy Daniels Trump famously said in April 2018 when asked about his knowledge, “no…you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen, Michael Cohen is my lawyer”.
The truth is, Trump was writing checks to Cohen while serving as president:
“And at some point on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, Mr. Trump took the time to sign a $35,000 check to his lawyer, who had made hush payments to prevent alleged sexual misconduct from being exposed before the 2016 presidential election. It was one of 11 occasions that Mr. Trump or his trust cut such checks, six of which were provided this week to The New York Times.”
This October check was one of eight checks. Two of the checks implicate Donnie Jr.:
“We now have concrete confirmation that Donald Trump Jr. signed checks reimbursing Michael Cohen for payments he made as part of a criminal scheme on President Trump’s behalf. The New York Times from Trump’s accounts reimbursing hush-money payments made by Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer.”
We’ll learn more about this but the bad news for Trump piles up.
We’re well past connecting the dots on Trump-Russia connections with Russians, we’re now challenged to have the time and space to report Trump criminal acts including Trump-Russia corruption.
Trump’s hush money payments are a criminal act. According to author and never-Trumper Max Boot, Trump’s attempt to “ruin CNN” warrants impeachment.
“A few months later, according to a New York Times from Nov. 8, 2017, senior Justice Department officials called in AT&T executives and told them they could receive antitrust approval if they sold assets such as Turner Broadcasting, a group of cable channels owned by Time Warner that included CNN, or DirecTV, a satellite-television provider that AT&T had bought two years earlier for $49 billion. AT&T refused those terms, and the Justice Department filed suit to block the merger. In June 2018, a federal judge the case, ruling that the merger could proceed without any conditions.”
Is it a coincidence that Murdoch reached out to AT&T “to discuss his interest in buying CNN”. Is there any doubt that would have benefitted Trump?
We’ll agree with Boot, this — and scrutiny of many other Trump scandals — is “the kind of intensive scrutiny they deserve”.
Just another day of Trump scandal news, the kind of news that will move the needle in favor of impeachment.