A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 119th Unpresidented Week As POTUS
The Attorney General is behaving like Trump’s fixer while the Republican Party is operating like Trump’s authoritarian enforcers.
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 119.
This was a startling week in American politics. The Attorney General of the United States proved he will do whatever it takes to protect the wannabe authoritarian in the White House. The Republican Party continued to prove their loyalty to President Trump supersedes their loyalty to America. And on a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump further proved he never had any loyalty to America in the first place.
In his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General William Barr acted as the President’s personal fixer. Barr continued to lie about the details of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, admitted to the fact he has not reviewed the underlying evidence before he tried to clear President Trump on obstruction, and made some concerning claims about his views on executive power.
Barr told the committee that he believes President Trump has the power to end any investigation if he believes he is being falsely accused. Barr also told committee members that he is going to investigate the investigators who launched the Russia investigation and refused to say if he has been asked to investigate Trump’s political opponents. Barr is executing on some of President Trump’s most corrosive authoritarian tendencies.
Of course, none of this is happening in a vacuum. President Trump’s lawlessness goes beyond obstruction of justice. President Trump has tried to violate immigration law on multiple occasions. President Trump (or “Individual 1”) is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Southern District of New York’s campaign finance case against Michael Cohen. Not to mention, Donald Trump’s multiple business frauds are no secret. There’s a reason President Trump doesn’t want his tax returns made public and is stonewalling House Democrats’ requests for witnesses and documents.
On top of all of this, the Republican Party ensures he is protected from accountability by making it clear they would never convict him in the Senate if the House began impeachment proceedings.
As we await the future testimony of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, House Democrats have a choice to make. Will they choose to begin impeachment hearings to outline Trump’s corruption to the American people ahead of 2020?
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. You can also join our community chat:
A Growing Threat Ignored
Day 830: Monday, April 29
Before the California Chabad synagogue terrorist attack this past weekend, the white supremacist terrorist (whose name we will not publish) posted an anti-Semitic open letter on 8chan announcing his attack. 8chan users cheered him on, with one user reportedly stating “get a high score.” The terrorist believed in creating a “white ethnostate” and the only means to get there is through violence – a foundational belief of white supremacists.
The terrorist said he was inspired by the white supremacist terrorist who killed 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand in March of this year. The Christchurch terrorist also posted a manifesto on 8chan before his attack with the same format as the Chabad synagogue terrorist. The Christchurch terrorist cited President Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity” and other various right-wing influencers as inspiration. The Christchurch terrorist had financial ties to the far-right Identitarian Movement in Austria, according to Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
These attacks came after the deadliest attack on Jews in US history killed 11 Jews in October 2018 at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. There have been numerous other attacks of this kind, while hate crimes and the threat of radical right-wing terrorism rises.
What we’re seeing here is an internationally cooperative terrorist movement of white supremacists built via online radicalization – a movement the President of the United States openly stokes while curtailing the mechanisms combating it.
Just last week, President Trump defended his August 2017 comments after the Charlottesville neo-Nazi protests where he said there were “very fine people” among the neo-Nazis. Candidate and President Trump’s fear-mongering, racist rhetoric targeting migrants, Muslims, and other people of color is well-documented – and white supremacists love it.
Meanwhile, President Trump and his administration have downplayed the threat of white supremacy for the past two years in spite of the increases in terrorist attacks. When asked if he thinks white nationalism is a threat after the Christchurch terrorist attack, President Trump said: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people…”
Reporter: “Do you see white nationalism as a rising threat around the world?”
Trump: “I don’t really.”
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) March 15, 2019
This is a dangerous lie, to say the least.
As Mark Potok, an expert on the radical right, outlined in his latest for Rantt, white supremacy is clearly on the rise:
Another study, by the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute, found that the American far right was behind nearly twice as many domestic terror plots as Islamist groups from 2008 to 2016 — 115 cases versus 63 from radical Islamists. The Anti-Defamation League reports that 71 percent of killings by extremists in the United States between 2008 and 2017 were carried out by radical rightists. And the numbers of both hate groups and hate crimes have recently been rising.
I highlighted the growing threat of American radical right-wing terrorism in an article for The Independent:
Last year, the FBI announced that hate crimes rose 17 percent in 2017 — the third consecutive year hate crimes have risen. Just yesterday, The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) published their “Year In Hate” analysis tracking hate groups around the US. They found hate groups surged by 30 percent over the last four years. That makes 2018 the fourth consecutive year of hate group growth.
To further bolster this point, the FBI and DHS reportedly prepared a report dated May 10, 2017, called “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence.” Notably, the report asserted that:
White supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement.”
On June 23, 2017, the Trump administration cut funding ($400,000) from the “Countering Violent Extremism” program which backed an anti-white supremacist organization founded by former neo-Nazis. And according to The Daily Beast, the DHS disbanded their Domestic Terror Unit last year:
The Department of Homeland Security has disbanded a group of intelligence analysts who focused on domestic terrorism, The Daily Beast has learned. Numerous current and former DHS officials say they find the development concerning, as the threat of homegrown terrorism—including white supremacist terrorism—is growing.
The Trump administration claims to be tough on terrorism, but they only appear to care about terrorism committed by brown people. So why doesn’t President Trump take the threat of white supremacist terrorism seriously? Does he recognize they are part of his base? Does he espouse these views himself? Regardless of the reason, the President is putting lives at risk with his inaction. White supremacist terrorists are behaving like ISIS online and we are not implementing the tactics that we used against ISIS to combat their online radicalization and recruitment. In fact, Twitter reportedly won’t ban white supremacists because it would also mean some Republican politicians would be banned too.
At Rantt Media, we take the threat of the radical right extremism very seriously. We have a partnership with the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR), whose team of PhDs and experts on the radical right have published over two dozen articles on our site. If you’d like to learn more, you can read more about this growing threat.
In other news…
- The Washington Post: Rosenstein resigns effective May 11, ending tumultuous run as Justice Department’s second-in-command
- The Washington Post: President Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims
- CNN: Barr’s appearance at House hearing now in doubt because of dispute with Democrats
- The Guardian: Trump says NRA is ‘under siege’ after New York opens investigation
- The Washington Post: Trump issues memo calling for changes to handling of asylum cases
- CNN: New video claims to show ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
- Axios: Judge blocks Trump administration abortion rule, calling it “madness”
- The Daily Beast: Far-Right Smear Merchants Gin Up Bogus Sex Assault Claims Against Buttigieg
Mueller’s Letter Highlights Barr’s Deception
Day 831: Tuesday, April 30
Anyone who has read Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report knows Attorney General William Barr misled the American people about its findings. Now, we know that Mueller also believes that’s the case.
The Washington Post, along with several other news organizations, have reported that after Barr released his March 24 summary of the report, Mueller sent him a letter essentially claiming that Barr misrepresented his findings:
“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions… There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”
The letter also reportedly requested that Barr release the executive summaries that the Special Counsel’s Office crafted themselves – Mueller even went as far as to suggest redactions. There was also a subsequent 15-minute phone call where Mueller reportedly told Barr he “was concerned that news coverage of the obstruction investigation was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work.”
To be fair, Department of Justice officials claimed that on the call Mueller did not say he felt the summary was inaccurate, although the letter itself appears to make clear that is not the case. What we do know is that Barr never followed Mueller’s suggestion to immediately release his executive summaries – which were later released with the redacted report. Barr subsequently lied to Congress about whether he knew if Mueller supported his conclusion.
Flashback: April 10.
VAN HOLLEN: Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?
BARR: I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion. pic.twitter.com/vmwkmw3bcj
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 1, 2019
This comes after members of Mueller’s team reportedly told associates they felt Barr downplayed their findings in early April. Barr’s initial March 24 summary downplayed evidence of collusion and preemptively cleared President Trump of obstruction of justice when the report explicitly says that decision should be left to Congress. After we saw the full redacted version of the report on April 18, we know how much Barr misrepresented the findings.
Let’s look at the facts. In a nutshell, the full redacted 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. 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 the morning of April 18, 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.”
After the new reporting today, Presidential Candidate Julian Castro tweeted “Attorney General Barr willfully misled the American people to cover up attempted crimes by Donald Trump. He should resign his position or face an impeachment inquiry immediately.” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) echoed this sentiment on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) called for Mueller to testify. This comes as Barr’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee remains in question as Barr might refuse to show. Needless to say, Barr’s testimony before the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning just got more interesting.
In other news…
- AP: Clashes rock Venezuela as Guaido urges opposition uprising
- The Washington Post: Justice Dept., House Democrats at an impasse over Barr’s hearing on Mueller report
- The Washington Post: Democrats accuse Trump ally Erik Prince of lying to Congress, refer case to Justice Dept. for possible prosecution
- CNN: Trump team sues Deutsche Bank and Capital One to keep them from turning over financial records to Congress
- NBC News: Asylum-seekers would have to pay fee under changes proposed by Trump
- The New York Times: Trump Pushes to Designate Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Group
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The Authoritarian AG
Day 832: Wednesday, May 1
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report revealed the scope of Russia’s attack on US democracy and the unprecedented corruption on the part of President Trump and his 2016 campaign. Not only did Mueller outline how receptive President Trump was to Russia’s election assistance, he outlined 10 key areas of obstruction of justice. But when it comes to this report, there is a new saga of obstruction unfolding before our eyes. How the release of the report was handled and represented to the American people has revealed new efforts to interfere in the administration of justice, this time on the part of Attorney General William Barr.
Today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing further showcased Barr’s dishonesty and the full extent of the Republican Party’s sycophancy towards President Trump. The Attorney General of the United States conducted himself like the personal attorney of Donald Trump, not of the people. Senate Republicans attacked the FBI, targeted Hillary Clinton, and downplayed the Mueller report to protect President Trump’s image.
As today’s hearing began, the nation was digesting yesterday’s news. After Barr’s March 24 summary of the Mueller report, Mueller wrote Barr a letter stating that Barr’s summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions” and asked him to release the Special Counsel Office’s summaries. In spite of the fact Mueller made his concerns known, Barr went on to misrepresent the report during his April 18 press conference and did so again today.
In other news…
- Buzzfeed News: A 16-Year-Old Unaccompanied Immigrant Boy Has Died In US Government Custody
- Politico: Comey has harsh words for Barr and Rosenstein: Trump has ‘eaten your soul’
- HuffPost: Democratic Lawmakers Call On William Barr To Resign
- USA TODAY: Trump requests $4.5 billion to address ‘humanitarian crisis’ at border
Why Trump Must Be Impeached
Day 833: Thursday, May 2
Rantt Contributor Kaz Weida brings behavioral science to the impeachment debate:
While polls indicate Trump is the most unpopular president in the nearly 75-year history of polling, House Democrats haven’t started impeachment hearings despite the evidence against President Trump. As a former behavioral therapist, I want to introduce a concept that applies here: cognitive dissonance.
When it comes to our current hyper-partisan environment, I think viewing changing public opinion through the lens of behavioral science makes sense. These aren’t just opinions. These are closely held values and belief systems that people feel genuinely define them.
When we talk about shifting deeply held belief systems, the discussion turns to the idea of cognitive dissonance. It’s the concept that when faced with information that causes friction to the infallibility of our beliefs, we make 1 of 2 choices: we either embrace comforting lies or accept unpleasant truths.
Either we invest in theories that shore up our beliefs, however fantastic (see QAnon), or we come to terms with the idea that what we believe isn’t true. This process doesn’t happen overnight. It takes repeated exposure to cognitive dissonance to make behavioral change occur.
In other news…
- NBC News: Emails show Trump admin had ‘no way to link’ separated migrant children to parents
The Washington Post: Barr’s no-show triggers contempt threats, Nixon comparison and more impeachment talk
- Reuters: White House letter blasts Mueller report, says Trump has right to instruct advisers not to testify
- The New York Times: Trump Administration Files Formal Request to Strike Down All of Obamacare
- The Washington Post: Trump administration pushed to strip mention of climate change from Arctic policy statement
- Bloomberg: Someone Did Get to Look at Trump’s Tax Returns: Deutsche Bankers
- Bloomberg: Facebook Bans Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Other Far-Right Figures
- CNN: Fed pick Stephen Moore’s fate in serious question
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Day 834: Friday, May 3
Today, President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone for an hour. Among other topics, Trump spoke about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that the two leaders agreed “there was no collusion.” When President Trump was asked if he asked Putin not to meddle in future elections, Trump said: “we didn’t discuss that.”
President Trump tweeted about the phone call:
Had a long and very good conversation with President Putin of Russia. As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019
….We discussed Trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, Nuclear Arms Control and even the “Russian Hoax.” Very productive talk!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019
So, let’s break this down. First of all, the President of the United States should not be talking about the Mueller report with the despot who was behind what the Mueller report outlined as an attack on US democracy all while the Trump administration does nothing to address future interference.
When it comes to the President calling this the “Russian Hoax,” Mueller’s report clearly outlines how Russia’s interference and the Trump Campaign’s receptiveness to it was no hoax. Over the lifetime of the probe, the Special Counsel levied 37 indictments, 6 of which were indictments from 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.
On the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia waged espionage and propaganda campaigns against the US in an effort to influence the 2016 election. Hackers stole Democratic emails and strategically leaked them through Wikileaks to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and help Donald Trump. The Internet Research Agency (IRA) targeted millions of American voters with propaganda on social media. Hackers also targeted voter systems around the country, although there is no evidence any votes were altered.
When it comes to the “no collusion” talking point, as we know, that is false. Mueller did not charge the Trump campaign with a criminal conspiracy but the report did outline over 100 pages of collusion evidence. The Trump Campaign was receptive to Russia’s help. It also included 10 key obstructive acts on the part of President Trump. Today’s capitulating phone call was no surprise. It’s reminiscent of President Trump’s performance in Helsinki, Finland where he sided with Putin over the US Intelligence Community. President Trump has also been pushing Russia’s interests, from his attacks on the NATO alliance to his undermining of Americans’ faith in their institutions.
As we know, Russia’s assault on American Democracy is far from over, and the Trump administration’s inaction when it comes to preventing future election interference has been widely reported. Whether you’re a Trump supporter or not, one would hope that the President of the United States would stand up to attacks on US democracy. But I guess in Trump’s case, it’s completely fine if those attacks benefit him politically.
In other news…
- The Washington Post: Watergate had the Nixon tapes. Mueller had Annie Donaldson’s notes.
- Reuters: Trump says he’s not inclined to let former counsel McGahn testify to Congress
- ABC News: Otto Warmbier’s mother calls diplomacy with North Korea a ‘charade’
- NBC News: Nadler threatens Attorney General William Barr with contempt proceedings over Mueller report
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: