A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 117th Unpresidented Week As POTUS
Trump’s first major typo after winning the election was spelling Unprecedented incorrectly. He infamously tweeted “Unpresidented.” This typo is emblematic of his administration: An impulsive, frantically thrown together group of characters with virtually no oversight. After Trump was sworn in, I started writing the weekly “Unpresidented” column, analyzing his every move. This is week 117.
President Trump’s defining political goal is self-preservation. Donald Trump has always only cared about Donald Trump, not the American people. As a businessman, he used fraudulent practices to maintain his false persona of a self-made man. As a candidate, he used deceptive, xenophobic fear-mongering to maintain his coalition of hate. As President, he doubles down on those tactics, launches authoritarian threats to the rule of law, and gaslights his base with countless lies to maintain power. This week, the redacted Mueller report showed just how far President Trump has been willing to go in his pursuit of self-preservation.
We have finally seen the most comprehensive accounting yet of the Russian government’s attack on American democracy. After a 22-month investigation, a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report confirmed years of reporting and revealed damning new details. Attorney General William Barr’s sycophantic lies could not spin the truth. Mueller did not charge Trump with a criminal conspiracy, but his report outlined in robust detail how the Trump Campaign solicited and accepted election help from the Russian government. The findings that could pose the gravest threat to his presidency, however, are the details surrounding President Trump’s effort to obstruct the investigation into that conduct.
In early 2017, President Trump requested loyalty from FBI Director James Comey, who was in charge of the Russia investigation at the time. Trump then requested that he back off then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. As we all saw, President Trump subsequently fired Comey on May 9, 2017. The very next day in the Oval Office, President Trump told Russian officials that the pressure from the probe had been taken off and a few days later admitted on NBC News that he fired James Comey because of the Russia investigation. President Trump then requested that then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions un-recuse himself from the investigation and subsequently attacked him repeatedly for his recusal.
The Mueller report revealed more details about how he endeavored to end the Russia investigation by ordering then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to do “crazy shit” (as McGahn put it), including an order to fire Mueller. President Trump’s lawyers encouraged Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress and they also discussed the possibility of pardons. Those are just a few of the 11 areas of obstruction that Mueller outlines in his report. Even before this report was released, President Trump’s attempts to violate immigration law and other abuses of power could be justification enough for what many in the Democratic base have long wanted: impeachment.
In the aftermath of the report, calls for impeachment hit a fever pitch among Democratic voters on social media. House Democrats who fear the political backlash to impeachment proceedings must ask themselves how history will perceive the most blatantly corrupt President in history avoiding impeachment. The Constitution must be upheld. Even if the Republican-controlled Senate does not remove him from office, the American people must have the facts of President Trump’s corruption laid out ahead of 2020. Mueller must testify.
The weeks and months ahead will be interesting. Let’s dive into another Unpresidented week.
This comprehensive column sources great reporting from top news organizations, but it’s also built on brilliant analysis from my team at Rantt Media. We are independently-owned and take pride in being reader-funded so that we are beholden to you, not corporate interests. If you like the work we do, please consider supporting us by signing up for a monthly subscription. Below, you’ll see daily breakdowns that are derived from our exclusive Rantt Rundown newsletter, which you can subscribe to it here or join our community chat:
Day 816-817-: Monday-Tuesday, April 15-16
On Monday, a monumental piece of human history was tragically damaged. After a fire broke out in the spire and collapsed onto the roof, the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France burned. The two towers of the Cathedral and many of the priceless pieces of art were saved, but the main Cathedral was thoroughly damaged. French President Emmanuel Macron has said they plan to rebuild Notre Dame within 5 years.
French officials have ruled out arson and terrorism, tying it to the renovations that were ongoing. On Tuesday morning, Paris prosecutor Rémi Heitz said: “There is no indication that this was a deliberate act.” This hasn’t stopped right-wing conspiracy theories.
Given the timing of the fire and the religious significance of Notre Dame, the right wasted no time in trying to stoke Islamophobia. Conservative commentator Glenn Beck broached a conspiracy theory, with no evidence, raising the possibility “Islamists” were behind the fire.
Glenn Beck speculates on the Notre Dame fire: “If this was started by Islamists, I don’t think you’ll find out about it.” pic.twitter.com/Yvq5iRdUCw
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) April 16, 2019
British conservative commentator Katie Hopkins took a more… direct approach:
Jewish & Christian Parisians have been warning for a long time.
They are being hunted out of their city by Islamists, fleeing in their thousands
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) April 15, 2019
InfoWars, founded by Alex Jones and known for conspiracy theories ranging from claims the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax to Pizzagate, published an unsubstantiated story claiming the fire was started deliberately. Conservative blogger Matt Walsh speculated on Twitter: “I don’t understand how a fire of this magnitude could happen accidentally.”
The theories weren’t just perpetuated by right-wing pundits, they were spread by tech platforms. While users were posting live streams of the Notre Dame fire to YouTube, their automated fact-checker was publishing facts about 9/11 alongside the streams. Another video on YouTube reportedly featured edited audio of a man yelling “Allahu Akbar” over footage of the Notre Dame fire. The video was viewed 40,000 times on YouTube before it was taken down and subsequently posted on Twitter where it got 2,000 retweets.
Elsewhere on Twitter, users spread outright fake news.
6. A fake CNN account is spreading a hoax about the cause of the fire. pic.twitter.com/4ehiUJZiFh
— Jane Lytvynenko 🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️ (@JaneLytv) April 15, 2019
Conspiracy theories of this nature spread wildly in white nationalist circles even if there is no evidence to back them. Given the recent murder of 50 Muslims in New Zealand by a white supremacist terrorist, right-wing pundits and tech platforms should be more mindful of pushing and facilitating unfounded speculation that only further sows Islamophobia. Lives have already been lost due to rhetoric of that nature.
In other news…
- The Washington Post: House Democrats subpoena Deutsche Bank, other financial institutions tied to Trump
- CNN: Judge in FOIA case says he may want to review DOJ redactions of Mueller report after release
- NBC News: White House officials concerned about being exposed by Mueller report
- CNN: House Judiciary requests information on reported pardon offer for CBP head
- CBS News: Trump administration resuming “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers
- Vox: Donald Trump really isn’t happy that Fox News hosted a town hall with Bernie Sanders
- CNN: ICE deported the husband of a soldier killed in combat even though he had been cleared to stay in US
- The Hill: Collins receives more donations from Texas fossil fuel industry than from Maine residents
- The Daily Beast: Not a Single Human Being Donated to Embattled Rep. Chris Collins’ Campaign
- ABC News: Colorado authorities searching for Columbine-obsessed woman who threatened Denver schools
Day 818: Wednesday, April 17
The following day, our political reality was slated to change — a critical moment over 22 months in the making. On Thursday, a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the Trump campaign’s connection to that interference, and President Trump’s potential obstruction of justice was set to be released.
On March 24, Attorney General William Barr initially released a 4-page summary of Mueller’s nearly 400-page report. Barr released this after receiving the report less than 48 hours earlier. Given Barr’s previous 19-page memo declaring a president can’t obstruct justice, the summary stirred controversy when Barr took it upon himself to clear President Trump of obstruction. Barr also alleged that Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not find enough evidence to charge the Trump campaign in a criminal conspiracy with the Russian government.
Many were skeptical of Barr’s report, and for good reason. Multiple news organizations reported that some on Mueller’s team believe Barr downplayed their findings. They have reportedly told associates that the evidence of obstruction of justice they found was “alarming and significant”. And when it comes to conspiracy, although they could not find enough evidence to charge it criminally, the evidence of collusion was “compelling”.
Of the 101 words of Mueller’s report Barr cited in his summary, there was this important quote: “‘…while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’” In spite of this, President Trump claimed “total and complete exoneration” in the aftermath of the summary, but his tone suddenly shifted thereafter. President Trump then began calling Mueller and his investigators treasonous and made clear he wants the report suppressed. It appears he has grown aware of how politically ruinous the report could be. It’s now been reported that the Justice Departement has discussed the White House about the conclusions in the report. Former and current White House officials are reportedly concerned that the report may expose that they gave Mueller damning evidence against President Trump. Trump’s lawyers have also reportedly prepared a counter-report.
Over the lifetime of the probe, the Special Counsel levied 37 indictments, 6 of which were indictments of Trump associates – 5 pleaded guilty. That included the indictments of 25 Russian individuals or entities for hacking and leaking Democratic emails as well as running the Russian troll operation. Mueller’s investigation was cheaper and more efficient than past investigations of its kind. Robert Mueller told a story with those indictments, depicting the extent of Russia’s attack on American democracy. Now we’re about to see a more robust story.
Barr had been working with Mueller’s team to redact the report. Barr said that he will be redacting grand jury material, information that compromises intelligence sources and methods, and also information that infringes upon “the privacy or reputational interests of peripheral players where there’s a decision not to charge them”. Unless Barr makes substantial redactions that attempt to protect the image of President Trump, we expected to see substantial Russia ties and obstruction of justice evidence. That’s exactly what happened…
In other news…
- The New York Times: In New Effort to Deter Migrants, Barr Withholds Bail to Asylum Seekers
- The Washington Post: Trump vetoes resolution to end U.S. participation in Yemen’s civil war
- Bloomberg: Mnuchin Plans to Hire Fox’s Monica Crowley as Spokeswoman, Sources Say
- Associated Press: North Korea says it test-fired new tactical guided weapon
- ABC News: Upping pressure on Cuba, Trump admin to allow lawsuits against companies using confiscated property
- APNewsBreak: Ivanka Trump says she passed on World Bank job
- CBS News: Naval Academy to ban transgender students starting in fall 2020
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The Day Mueller’s Report Dropped
Day 819: Thursday, April 18
History is being written before our eyes. A redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report was released at 11 am on Thursday. #MuellerReport trended number one on Twitter worldwide while people around the globe digested the findings.
The report, entitled “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election,” is incredibly detailed, confirms years of reporting, and includes damning new details. It outlines exactly what Russia did to interfere in American democracy, the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians, and President Trump’s endeavor to obstruct justice.
While Attorney General William Barr attempted to spin the report as a positive, the Mueller report is the most damning development of Trump’s presidency thus far. In a nutshell, the report details how Donald Trump and his associates were receptive to Russia’s election help and President Trump’s subsequent efforts to obstruct the federal investigation into that conduct. One has to wonder how much more of an impact this report would have made if we knew none of what was in the report.
While the report reflected poorly on Donald Trump and his associates, it was also bad for Barr’s reputation. The report also proves that Barr materially mischaracterized the report in some key areas. In his press conference on Thursday morning, Barr repeatedly claimed that Mueller found “no collusion.” That is false. Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy. Mueller’s report outlines over 100 pages worth of collusion evidence.
Barr also claimed that the Office of Legal Counsel’s memo which argued a sitting president cannot be indicted didn’t factor into Mueller’s decision-making. Mueller explicitly says it was a factor. Barr also omitted the following from his summary which indicated Trump wasn’t found guilty of a criminal conspiracy with Russia: “…the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”
Yes, history is being written before our eyes, but we all can play a role in writing it. One of the key components of the report is that Mueller sought to leave the obstruction of justice determination up to Congress, not Barr – who ultimately cleared Trump. This is essentially a roadmap for impeachment. Will House Democrats choose to pursue impeachment proceedings after the damning evidence in this report?
You can read the full report for yourself or check out our page-by-page guide to the report.
Day 820: Friday, April 19
Rantt Staff Writer, and law student, Bob Cunningham outlines the case for impeaching Preside Trump:
While I believe the precedent that a sitting president cannot be indicted is bad law, I understand Special Counsel Robert Mueller not wanting to press the issue. That means impeachment is the only option, and it’s one Congress must take. Not doing so is an abdication of their constitutional duties.
Mueller’s redacted report clearly outlines the conduct of a lawless president who solicited and was receptive to Russia’s election help, lied about it, and subsequently waged a corrupt effort to obstruct the investigation into that conduct. Although Mueller believed he couldn’t charge a criminal conspiracy between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government, the Special Counsel outlined over 100 pages of collusion evidence. And when it comes to obstruction, Mueller laid out compelling evidence and left it up to Congress to make the next move.
It doesn’t matter if the impeachment proceedings are successful; Republicans are sycophants, so it likely won’t be. It’s about precedent which, as I just noted, is a strong thing. Every future POTUS must know if they engage in this behavior, there will be a reaction from their checks and balances. It will also double as a mechanism through which to lay out all of the facts for the American people with the spectacle of impeachment hearings ahead of 2020.
In other news…
- CNN: Elizabeth Warren says House should start impeachment proceedings for Trump
- The New York Times: House Democrats Subpoena Full Mueller Report, and the Underlying Evidence
- CNBC: House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler calls special counsel Robert Mueller to testify by May 23 after Attorney General William Barr’s news conference
- NBC News: Trump: Statements about me in Mueller report are ‘total bulls—‘
- The Guardian: Videos appear to show armed militia detaining migrants at US-Mexico border
Rantt Media’s comprehensive articles source reporting from top news organizations, but they’re also built on brilliant analysis from our team. We are independently-owned and strive for quality, not clicks. We take pride in being reader-funded so that we are beholden to you, not corporate interests. If you like the work we do, please consider supporting us by signing up for our newsletter or joining our community chatroom where you can talk news with our team and other like-minded individuals: