A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 120th 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 120.
Week after week, move after move, the Trump administration is diminishing American democracy and undermining our founding documents. President Trump is the wannabe monarch the Constitution was crafted to protect the American people from. Unfortunately, we’re learning the hard way that the Constitution is just a useless piece of parchment if no one has the courage to enforce it. Even worse, the Republican Party is perverting it.
The conservative theory of the unitary executive is corrupting our system of government. It’s the theory that Article II of the Constitution renders the President an all-powerful figure. The theory can be summed up in President Richard Nixon’s infamous words: “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” This is a notion the Trump administration is embracing in the aftermath of President Trump’s unprecedented obstruction of the Russia probe and his new tactic of stonewalling Congress.
As Attorney General William Barr indicated in his 19-page memo attacking Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s obstruction investigation, he thoroughly believes in the unitary executive theory. In his 4-page summary of the Mueller report, in which he lied about the contents of the full report, Barr made clear that he believes a President is incapable of obstructing justice. In Barr’s Senate Judiciary hearing last week, the Attorney General literally said that the President has the power to curtail any investigation if he feels he is being falsely accused.
As The Washington Post noted, and we will discuss throughout this article, the Trump administration is stonewalling more than 20 Democratic investigations. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is violating tax law by refusing to hand over 6 years of President Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. Attorney General William Barr was held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena requesting the full unredacted Mueller report. President Trump is seeking to prevent former White House Counsel Don McGahn from testifying before Congress. Those are just a few instances and don’t include the policy and other corruption inquiries.
This week, over 800 federal prosecutors have signed a letter which asserts that Donald Trump would be very clearly indicted for obstruction of justice if it weren’t for the OLC memo stating a sitting President cannot be indicted. The numerous investigations House Democrats have launched are more than justified, but that hasn’t stopped the Trump administration from belittling a co-equal branch of government. The incoming court rulings on their various stonewalling tactics will be vastly important when it comes to determining the future of executive power. Either way, House Democrats may have no choice but to impeach Trump, so that they can become a de facto grand jury and gain access to the witnesses and documents currently out of reach.
Meanwhile, President Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have declared to the world that they want foreign powers to interfere in the 2020 election. Let’s hope the American people turn out in numbers so monumental that it overpowers foreign interference, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the gaslighting right-wing media.
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:
Day 837: Monday, May 6
On April 3, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) formally requested six years of President Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Rep. Neal used No. 6103 in the tax code. The New York Times explained at the time:
The provision, which dates in some form to the Teapot Dome scandal of Warren G. Harding’s administration, at least on its face gives the Trump administration little room to decline a request like Mr. Neal’s. It only says that the Treasury secretary “shall” furnish the information.
After signaling he would protect President Trump’s privacy, Secretary of State Steve Mnuchin sent a letter to Chairman Neal today rejecting his request for Trump’s tax returns. Mnuchin argued that Chairman Neal’s request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.” CNN analyst, and former FBI agent, Asha Rangappa argues that, “The legislative purpose of the law under which the Ways & Means Committee is requesting Trump’s tax returns was passed in the wake of the Teapot Dome scandal — the entire purpose of the law is to have oversight over potential financial conflicts of public officials.”
President Trump has long used his debunked audit excuse as reasoning for not releasing his tax returns, but it’s clear there is an ulterior motive. President Trump’s history of fraudulent activity, both in his personal and business life, has been widely reported on and is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York.
This comes as Attorney General William Barr missed House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler’s (D-NY) deadline to provide Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full unredacted report to Congress. In response, Chairman Nadler released a statement:
“The Attorney General’s failure to comply with our subpoena, after extensive accommodation efforts, leaves us no choice but to initiate contempt proceedings in order to enforce the subpoena and access the full, unredacted report.”
The contempt vote has been scheduled for Wednesday of this week. Barr has been actively misrepresenting the Mueller report, acting as President Trump’s personal attorney, and trying to shield the President from accountability when it comes to obstruction of justice. Vox explains what consequences the contempt process could yield for Wiliam Barr:
Contempt is another way for Congress to get subpoenaed documents, by asking the US attorney of the District of Columbia or the Department of Justice to charge Barr with criminal contempt for not complying with a congressional subpoena. In theory, a charge of contempt could result in a fine or jail time for the attorney general (though in reality, that likely won’t happen).
While the fight over releasing the full Mueller report continues, House Democrats are pushing for Robert Mueller to testify publicly on Capitol Hill. Further showcasing how important Mueller’s testimony will be, over 400 former federal prosecutors signed on to in a letter today declaring President Trump would be prosecuted for obstruction of justice if he weren’t president.
What Steve Mnuchin and William Barr are doing is clear: they are protecting President Trump from accountability for his alleged criminal acts at all costs, even if it means violating the law themselves.
In other news…
- The Washington Post: In reversal, Trump says Mueller ‘should not testify’ before Congress
- The Washington Post: Claiming two years of his presidency were ‘stolen,’ Trump suggests he’s owed overtime
- The New York Times: Pelosi Warns Democrats: Stay in the Center or Trump May Contest Election Results
- The New York Times: Trump Prepared to Hit China With More Tariffs
- Mother Jones: Another Chinese American Trump donor tried to sell Mar-a-Lago access to overseas clients
- ABC News: Aircraft carrier sent to Middle East after indications Iran planned attack on US forces
- CNN Exclusive: Images show North Korea missile launch as Pyongyang tests Trump
- The Associated Press: Beginning prison sentence, Cohen has harsh words for Trump
- Bloomberg: Once Again, Trump Tweets Misleading Data on Puerto Rico Aid
- Vox: Cory Booker now has the most ambitious gun control proposal of any 2020 candidate
- Bloomberg: Trump May Redefine Poverty, Cutting Americans From Welfare Rolls
Day 838: Tuesday, May 7
The New York Times has dropped a bombshell. Today, they published the details of Donald Trump’s tax returns between 1985 to 1994. This is the most comprehensive look we’ve been able to glean of Trump’s tax returns thus far, and it paints a picture of a failed businessman who conned the American people into thinking he was successful.
Over the course of those 10 years, Donald Trump took on $1.17 billion in losses. As The New York Times notes, in some years Trump lost more money than any other American taxpayer and lost so much money he was able to avoid paying income taxes:
In fact, year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer, The Times found when it compared his results with detailed information the I.R.S. compiles on an annual sampling of high-income earners. His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 — more than $250 million each year — were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years.
Over all, Mr. Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years. It is not known whether the I.R.S. later required changes after audits.
There was another noteworthy finding in Trump’s taxes. In 1989, Trump reported $52.9 million in interest income, which is still a mystery who the source was. The full article on these taxes is well worth reading in full.
All of these losses came as Donald Trump published his ghostwritten book the “Art of the Deal” in 1987, which portrayed himself as a brilliant self-made business mogul. As we can see from today’s news, Trump is no mogul, and according to The New York Times‘ previous reporting, Trump is far from self-made.
The same team of reporters who obtained these 10 years of Donald Trump’s tax figures also reported on Fred Trump’s in October of last year. The New York Times outlined the fact Donald Trump received, at least, the equivalent of $413 million from his father’s real estate empire. The Trump family used shady methods, sometimes constituting fraud, to funnel money to one another.
Donald Trump was also a millionaire by age 8, racking in $200,000 a year starting at age 3. And that “small $1 million loan” Trump received from his father? It was actually at least $60.7 million ($140 million in today’s dollars). Trump never paid it back. That October report painted an incriminating picture of fraud and definitively proved that Donald Trump is not a self-made billionaire.
As we digest the news of Trump’s taxes between 1985-1994, the fight over his most recent tax returns wages on. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin denied House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal’s (D-MA) request for six years of Trump’s tax returns. Mnuchin is violating tax law by doing so. New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing the Treasury Department in an effort to obtain them. Judging by what we’ve seen in his past taxes, it’s clear why Trump is so reluctant to have them made public.
In other news…
- The Washington Post: White House invokes executive privilege to bar former counsel from turning over documents to Congress
- NBC News: FBI chief Wray refutes Barr, says no ‘spying’ on Trump campaign
- Vox: McConnell is using the Mueller report to blame Obama for Russian meddling
- The Washington Post: Georgia governor signs ‘heartbeat bill,’ giving the state one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation
- Reuters Exclusive: Trump fixer Cohen says he helped Falwell handle racy photos
- ABC News: Trump pardons former US soldier who killed Iraqi prisoner
- The Daily Beast: Trump Admin Inflated Iran Intel, U.S. Officials Say
- NBC News: One person dead, 7 people injured, 2 suspects in custody after shooting at Colorado STEM school
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Day 839: Wednesday, May 8
President Trump’s campaign to undermine the rule of law continues. Today, the White House sought to claim executive privilege over all subpoenaed material, including the entirety Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. This came as President Trump tried to order former White House Counsel Don McGahn not to comply with a congressional subpoena and Trump has said he believes Special Counsel Robert Mueller shouldn’t testify.
This stonewalling goes beyond the White House. Attorney General William Barr has also refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for the full unredacted Mueller report. Barr’s alleged reasoning for not handing over the full report was to protect grand jury material, which was echoed by Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee today. But, just like Trump’s effort to claim executive privilege over information that has already been shared with prosecutors, Barr’s argument is dubious, to say the least.
Sensenbrenner is ludicrously claiming that Democrats are trying to convince Barr to commit a crime by releasing grand jury information.
During Watergate Judge Sirica ruled that 6(e) does not bar disclosure to the Committee and the full DC Circuit affirmed it!
— Adam (@aalali44) May 8, 2019
This afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress in a 24-16 vote along party lines. Before the vote, House Judiciary Republicans spewed lies while accusing Democrats of disgracing the committee. Rep. Jackson Lee pointed out that President Trump is taking a wrecking ball to the Constitution by attempting to claim executive privilege over all subpoenaed material.
Judiciary Cmte. member Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee on Trump asserting executive privilege: “I’m pausing for a moment because I do think this is a moment in history … I can only conclude that the president now seeks to take a wrecking ball to the Constitution.”
Via ABC pic.twitter.com/gJUnV0fGtR
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 8, 2019
In a press conference after the vote, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) further framed the consequential nature of this moment.
“We are now in a constitutional crisis,” House Judiciary Chair @RepJerryNadler tells reporters after his committee voted to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to provide the full, unredacted Mueller report and underlying documents. pic.twitter.com/ztbQQElNln
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) May 8, 2019
This is the Executive Branch treating a co-equal branch of government as if they do not have the constitutionally protected duty to conduct oversight.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report outlined 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. In Volume II, the report details 10 key obstructive acts on the part of President Trump that many legal experts have deemed impeachable. Over 800 former federal prosecutors have signed a letter that states if Trump weren’t president, he would’ve been indicted. As we can see with the White House’s stonewalling and Attorney General William Barr’s misrepresentations of the Mueller report, the obstruction never end.
In other news…
- Axois Scoop: Senate Intel subpoenas Trump Jr. over Russia matters
- NBC News: N.Y. state Senate passes bill allowing Congress to get Trump tax returns
- Tampa Bay Times: Further investigation into Matt Gaetz is needed for tweet at Michael Cohen, Florida Bar determines.
- The Daily Beast: In Rare Bipartisan Move, Reps. Adam Schiff and Devin Nunes Threaten to Subpoena DOJ for Mueller Files
- BBC: US halts North Korea war dead programme
- NBC News: Students who owe lunch money in Rhode Island will only get jelly sandwiches until debt is paid
- CNN: Rep. Adam Schiff introduces amendment to overturn Citizens United
Day 840: Thursday, May 9
In my conversations with some undecided voters, I’ve noticed a habit of compartmentalizing President Trump’s dishonesty and corruption into a “both sides” view of American politics. These voters agree that Trump is a despicable human being and stunningly corrupt, but not in any particularly dangerous way. “All politicians are corrupt liars,” they say, and Trump is just the most open about his corruption while past Presidents have hidden theirs. This is a lazy way to view this historic political moment – which is significantly more corrupt than Watergate.
As Rantt Contributor Rand Engel expertly found in his extensive article, Republican administrations had 38 times more criminal convictions than Democrats between 1961-2016. In spite of the many misconceptions, it’s been well established that the modern Republican Party is significantly more corrupt than the Democratic Party. But when it comes to President Trump, the corruption has been taken to an entirely new level.
President Trump has uttered over 10,000 lies, misstatements, or falsehoods during his presidency, according to The Washington Post. This dishonesty is the bedrock of the Trump administration’s bad faith approach to government. From scandal to scandal, President Trump and his team of sycophants have blatantly lied to the American people about matters both big and small.
As a candidate, Donald Trump was seeking a Trump Tower in Moscow while lying to the American people about it. As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report outlined, Trump also tried to cast doubt on Russian interference while simultaneously being receptive to their election assistance to his campaign. As President, Donald Trump moved to obstruct the Russia investigation in 10 key ways. Over 800 federal prosecutors have signed a letter which asserts that Donald Trump would be very clearly indicted for obstruction of justice if it weren’t for the OLC memo stating a sitting President cannot be indicted.
After the redacted report was released, the White House and Attorney General William Barr have lied about the report and vowed not to comply with every subpoena that House Democrats have directed their way. As House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has said, this stonewalling is placing our country in a constitutional crisis by refusing to comply with a co-equal branch of government’s constitutional oversight. There is also Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who is openly violating the law by refusing to hand over six years of Trump’s tax returns to Congress. We’ve been in a constitutional crisis far before Nadler made this comment.
At Rantt, we’ve covered President Trump’s authoritarian tendencies at great length. From his declaration of a national emergency at the southern border based on lies to his efforts to obstruct the investigations that plague him, President Trump has abused presidential power in several ways. Calling for the jailing of his political opponents like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and James Comey is not befitting of a president – it’s typical of an autocrat.
President Trump’s rhetoric has moved from combative to dictatorial when it comes to the press. Trump has labeled the media “the enemy of the American people,” called honest reporting “fake news,” while encouraging violence towards reporters even after one of his supporters sent pipe bombs to CNN. And while this has been happening, President Trump has formed an unprecedented relationship with Fox News which has led to coverage that is very much like state-run TV. This is all in an effort to distort reality for his base, who Trump likes to keep in a state of bigoted fear about immigrants and people who look different than them.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), reported at least 1,400 conflicts of interest in Trump’s first two years. President Trump’s refusal to divest from his companies who receive foreign money makes his business interests inherently incompatible with the interests of America, and arguably unconstitutional. President Trump ran a campaign claiming he was going to drain the swamp. Instead, Trump filled his administration with swamp creatures, who like him, have misused government funds and bent government agencies to serve the industries they left behind.
All of this comes as the Republican Party abdicates their duty to uphold the Constitution while they seek to subvert democracy through gerrymandering and voter suppression. They have become willing accomplices in this indecent administration that is willing to go to any lengths to maintain power, even if it means separating migrant children from their parents and targeting women and minorities with oppressive policies. House Democrats have a choice to make. The evidence is there. There are impeachable offenses that move far beyond Mueller’s report, like President Trump’s hush money payments that made him an unindicted co-conspirator with Michael Cohen or his abuses of power. This doesn’t even cover his business history of fraud which federal prosecutors in New York are actively investigating.
These past two years have moved at an unrelenting pace. The chaos has caused many Americans to tune out, and understandably so. Hopefully, as the 2020 election approaches, more Americans will take the time to do their own research and absorb the full extent of President Trump’s corruption and recognize that this is not normal. Luckily, we’ve done all of that research for you. In my column Unpresidented, I’ve documented every day of Donald Trump’s presidency. You can also read our summary and index of his first two years in office.
In other news…
- The New York Times: Pelosi Declares Nation Is in a ‘Constitutional Crisis’
- CNN: Schiff subpoenas Barr for counterintelligence information from Russia probe
- USA TODAY: ‘Only in the Panhandle’: Trump chuckles when audience member suggests shooting migrants
The Washington Post: Mulvaney says it was ‘bad form’ for Senate Republicans not to inform him about Donald Trump Jr. subpoena
- Politico: Pelosi hints at contempt charges against multiple Trump associates
- CNN: Judge fast-tracks fight over congressional subpoena of Trump financial records
- NBC News: Iran’s U.N. envoy denies threat against U.S. forces, calling it ‘fake intelligence’
- Reuters: Americans’ support for impeaching Trump rises: Reuters/Ipsos poll
- NBC News: Petitions with 10 million signatures to impeach Trump delivered to Congress
- Associated Press: N. Korea fires 2 suspected missiles in possible new warning
- The Washington Post: U.S. authorities seize North Korean coal ship, accuse Pyongyang of violating international sanctions
- Bloomberg: Trump to Pick Loyalist Patrick Shanahan as Defense Secretary
- The Washington Post: White House imposes new rules on reporters’ credentials, raising concerns about access
- Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes in The New York Times: It’s Time to Break Up Facebook
- Bloomberg: Uber Raises $8.1 Billion in IPO Priced Near Bottom of Range
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Ukraine, If You’re Listening…
Day 841: Friday, May 10
It’s happening again. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report just outlined how the Trump Campaign was receptive to Russia’s election help and sought out information on future Wikileaks dumps. Now, President Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani have announced their intention to collude with another foreign power ahead of the 2020 election.
On Thursday, Giuliani announced that he is traveling to Ukraine to meet with their comedian turned President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky to try and get their government to pursue inquiries that would benefit Trump’s 2020 campaign. I’ll quote The New York Times report directly because it’s a bit unbelievable:
One is the origin of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The other is the involvement of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.
Mr. Giuliani’s plans create the remarkable scene of a lawyer for the president of the United States pressing a foreign government to pursue investigations that Mr. Trump’s allies hope could help him in his re-election campaign. And it comes after Mr. Trump spent more than half of his term facing questions about whether his 2016 campaign conspired with a foreign power…
Mr. Giuliani’s planned trip, which has not been previously reported, is part of a monthslong effort by the former New York mayor and a small group of Trump allies working to build interest in the Ukrainian inquiries. Their motivation is to try to discredit the special counsel’s investigation; undermine the case against Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s imprisoned former campaign chairman; and potentially to damage Mr. Biden, the early front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
The report goes on to say that Giuliani claims this effort has the full support of President Trump. This is exactly what it sounds like. The President of the United States and his personal attorney are actively and publicly asking a foreign power to dig up dirt on a political opponent, undermine a domestic investigation the president was a subject of, and interfere in American democracy. In an interview with The New York Times on Thursday, Giuliani attempted to claim this conduct was completely fine:
“We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do. There’s nothing illegal about it. Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”
Giuliani previously asserted there was nothing wrong with a presidential campaign accepting information from Russia. It’s now clear he meant it. Make no mistake, there is something very wrong with this corrupt behavior. Mueller did not charge the 2016 Trump Campaign with a criminal conspiracy with Russia because he did not find a “tacit agreement” to conspire, but he did outline over 100 pages of collusion evidence. In the event of a future investigation into a potential Trump-Ukraine conspiracy, the agreement couldn’t be more tacit.
It’s important to mention that Donald Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen was reportedly paid $400,000 to set up a meeting between the previous President of Ukraine and the President of the United States. Not only that, the dropping of former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort’s case by the Ukrainian government was reportedly a direct appeal to obtain the President’s patronage. It’s not entirely clear if the incoming Zelensky administration will coordinate with the Trump administration. We’ll see if the Trump administration offers incentives for their cooperation. Keep an eye on this.
In other news…
- The Washington Post: House committee subpoenas Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig over Trump tax returns
- Axios: House Judiciary introduces act to pause statute of limitations on presidential federal offenses
- The New York Times: Trump Increases China Tariffs as Trade Deal Hangs in the Balance
- NBC News: Team Trump wants another foreign government’s help for 2020
- Axios: Jerry Nadler introduces act to pause statute of limitations on presidential federal offenses
- CNN: No Democrats have read the less-redacted Mueller report. But five Republicans have.
- Reuters: Pentagon to transfer $1.5 billion to border wall from Afghan forces, other areas
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: