A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 122nd 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 122.
Take him seriously, not literally, they said. They claimed his call to build a wall was figurative. They claimed he would never actually attempt to ban Muslims from entering the United States. They claimed he would never actually separate migrant families. They claimed he would never actually investigate his perceived political opponents.
Trump’s supporters and apologists have made excuses for President Trump at every turn. Although he has lied over 10,000 times while in office, President Trump has kept his most authoritarian promises. What he’s calling for next is nothing short of terrifying.
This week, President Trump officially authorized Attorney General William Barr’s investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation and whether improper surveillance was directed at the Trump Campaign (it wasn’t). Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that gave sweeping powers to Barr, including the ability to force cooperation from US intelligence agencies and the power to declassify any material he deems necessary.
President Trump escalated his false accusations of treason against his perceived political adversaries that Barr is currently investigating. When a reporter noted that treason is punishable by death, President Trump went on to name former FBI Director James Comey, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI Agent Peter Strozk, and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page as potentially guilty of it. Over the weekend, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WI) echoed Trump’s dangerous treason charge.
After accusing his fellow law-abiding Americans of treason, President Trump praised murderous North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s insult of Joe Biden.
Meanwhile, House Democrats waged an internal debate over whether to impeach President Trump for his obstruction of justice and stonewalling of their subpoenas. President Trump has taken on some court defeats when it comes to revealing his finances, but there are many battles still to come.
At times, it can be hard to document this presidency and maintain a sense of optimism, and I can imagine how depressing it must be on the receiving end of this column. But we will make it out on the other side of this if we face what’s at stake and mobilize ahead of 2020 like our democracy depends on it – because it does.
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. 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:
Something To Hide
Day 851: Monday, May 20
If you’ve been following the complex web of President Trump’s corruption scandals, you’ve likely heard about Deutsche Bank. The German bank was the only major financial institution willing to do business with businessman Donald Trump when he was deemed too risky an investment for US banks. According to reports, the Trump Organization currently owes Deutsche Bank $364 million (his companies have received over $2.5 billion in loans over two decades) and his son-in-law, and White House Adviser, Jared Kushner’s company owes the bank $285 million. In November 2018, Deutsche Bank was raided in a money laundering investigation and has a documented history of money laundering for Russians.
Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and Jared Kushner made headlines again this week with an important story from The New York Times. Here are some of the highlights:
Anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald J. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.
But executives at Deutsche Bank, which has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies, rejected their employees’ advice. The reports were never filed with the government.
The transactions were oddly timed, especially Jared Kushner’s:
In the summer of 2016, Deutsche Bank’s software flagged a series of transactions involving the real estate company of Mr. Kushner, now a senior White House adviser.
Ms. McFadden, a longtime anti-money laundering specialist in Deutsche Bank’s Jacksonville office, said she had reviewed the transactions and found that money had moved from Kushner Companies to Russian individuals.
After Mr. Trump became president, transactions involving him and his companies were reviewed by an anti-financial crime team at the bank called the Special Investigations Unit. That team, based in Jacksonville, produced multiple suspicious activity reports involving different entities that Mr. Trump owned or controlled, according to three former Deutsche Bank employees who saw the reports in an internal computer system.
Some of those reports involved Mr. Trump’s limited liability companies. At least one was related to transactions involving the Donald J. Trump Foundation, two employees said.
Several questions come to mind. Why were Kushner’s companies paying Russians during the height of Russia’s attack on US democracy that the Trump Campaign benefitted from? Were these transactions money laundering related? Why did Deutsche Bank executives refuse to report these transactions to the government? It’s not clear exactly what these transactions were, but given Deutsche Bank’s history and Donald Trump’s alleged history of money laundering for Russian oligarchs, this is an important story to watch.
President Trump responded to the news with a tweet thread that can only be described as fearful.
….fashioned, but true. When you don’t need or want money, you don’t need or want banks. Banks have always been available to me, they want to make money. Fake Media only says this to disparage, and always uses unnamed sources (because their sources don’t even exist)……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2019
…..was very good and highly professional to deal with – and if for any reason I didn’t like them, I would have gone elsewhere….there was always plenty of money around and banks to choose from. They would be very happy to take my money. Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2019
President Trump’s claims that he didn’t need banks and had plenty of money available is false. The New York Times received Donald Trump’s tax figures from between 1985-1994 and reported that Trump took on $1.17 billion in losses over that decade.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank related to loans President Trump’s company has received from the bank, according to multiple reports. This came after Michael Cohen claimed Trump inflated his assets in an effort to try and obtain a loan from Deutsche Bank for the purchase of the Buffalo Bills – a loan he didn’t receive. The New York Times reported in March that President Trump inflated his wealth to Deutsche Bank, citing bank officials. When House Democrats subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank pertaining to Trump’s family, President Trump responded by suing Deutsche Bank to prevent them from complying with the subpoena.
President Trump’s lawsuit has failed in court on Wednesday of this week. A federal judge in New York ruled that Deutsche Bank and Capital One can hand over President Trump’s financial records to Congress. Below is our article from Monday about what may be found in those records.
In related news, DC District Court Judge Amit Mehta just ordered President Trump’s accounting firm to comply with House Democrats’ subpoena by turning over documents to the House Oversight Committee. This decision came after President Trump’s lawsuit (Trump now aims to appeal the decision).
The President of the United States is trying to stiff-arm a co-equal branch of government by refusing to comply with every single subpoena from House Democrats. Democratic lawmakers have claimed this is part of President Trump ongoing effort to obstruct justice. Just like his tax returns, President Trump has several reasons to want to keep these Deutsche Bank records hidden.
In other news…
- NBC News: Trump directs McGahn to defy subpoena, not appear before Congress
- NBC News: Cohen told lawmakers that Trump attorney encouraged him to give false information to Congress
- The Washington Post: GOP lawmaker says Trump’s conduct meets ‘threshold for impeachment’
- NBC News: Trump administration identifies at least 1,700 additional children it may have separated
- CNN: Prosecutors examining tens of thousands of Trump inauguration documents
- NBC News: 16-year-old migrant boy dies in U.S. custody, 5th child to die since December
Calls For Impeachment Surge
Day 852: Tuesday, May 21
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has a choice to make. While she and some members of Democratic leadership seek to maintain the methodical course they’re on, other House Democrats have begun to publicly call for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s corrupt conduct. Those calls reached a fever pitch this week.
The White House’s unprecedented stonewalling of the over 20 Democratic investigations has been unrelenting. Today, former White House Counsel Don McGahn didn’t appear for his subpoenaed testimony before the House Judiciary Committee after President Trump “instructed” him not to. Last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin defied a subpoena from the House Ways and Means Committee requesting President Trump’s tax returns (it turns out an internal IRS memo indicated the move was illegal). The week before that, Attorney General William Barr failed to comply with a congressional subpoena for the full unredacted Mueller report and was held in contempt by the House Judiciary Committee.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report outlined 10 key areas of obstruction of justice on the part of President Trump. Barr attempted to clear President Trump of all wrongdoing and misrepresented Mueller’s findings. Over 800 federal prosecutors then signed a letter stating that Trump would be indicted if he wasn’t President. The lawlessness of President Trump isn’t debatable among Democrats. The question is, what to do about it?
To begin an impeachment inquiry, the House Judiciary Committee would need to vote to launch it. Their committee would then be endowed with grand jury powers which would strengthen their ability to compel witness testimony and documents currently being withheld by the Trump Administration. As more Democratic lawmakers began to call for impeachment, Speaker Pelosi scheduled a meeting with her caucus for Wednesday morning.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said that they have the support necessary to launch it. It appears all eyes are on Nancy Pelosi.
— TheBeat w/Ari Melber (@TheBeatWithAri) May 21, 2019
In other news…
- CNN: Special counsel’s team hesitant about Mueller testifying publicly, part of hold up securing testimony
- CNN: Justice Department willing to hand over counterintelligence if Schiff backs off ‘enforcement action’
- NBC News: Investigation tied to Michael Cohen case is ongoing, feds say
- The Daily Beast: Rex Tillerson Secretly Meets With House Foreign Affairs Committee to Talk Trump
- The New York Times: Trump May Be Preparing Pardons for Servicemen Accused of War Crimes
- CNBC: DeVos used personal emails for work in ‘limited’ cases, say Feds
- NBC News: ‘Oreo?’ Housing Secretary Ben Carson confuses real estate term for a cookie
- Vanity Fair: Trump Begs Merrick Garland to Keep His Financial Lies Private
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The Path To Impeachment
Day 853: Wednesday, May 22
After House Democrats met this morning to discuss the prospect of impeaching President Trump, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made news. Pelosi told reporters that President Trump is engaged in a cover-up.
This clearly got under President Trump’s skin. Trump reportedly entered the scheduled infrastructure meeting with Democrats this morning at the White House, said he wanted to get a deal done on infrastructure but he heard Pelosi say terrible things about him. Trump then said that he won’t do a deal until the House investigations are shut down. President Trump then walked out to the Rose Garden and lied to the American people.
After falsely claiming Special Counsel Robert Mueller found “no collusion and no obstruction,” Trump went on to make an unrealistic demand from House Democrats. President Trump essentially said there would be no infrastructure deal, or any legislation signed, unless Democrats drop their investigations.
Holding positive legislation hostage if his corrupt demands are not met is @realDonaldTrump‘s primary negotiating tactic
Donald’s “deal-maker” persona is just as fake as the myth he’s a self-made businessman who didn’t inherit $413 million from his dad while losing $1.17 billion https://t.co/4QT7rhRcuB
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) May 22, 2019
President Trump went on to have his Richard Nixon “I am not a crook” moment.
President Trump in the Rose Garden: “I don’t do cover-ups.”
Also President Trump:
—Signed hush-money payments to cover-up multiple affairs
—Committed at least 10 acts to try and obstruct the Russia probe
—Stonewalls Congressional subpoenas
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) May 22, 2019
This was a clear signal that Pelosi has once again gotten into President Trump’s head. It’s not a politically savvy move for the President to tell the American people that he will not get things done unless investigations into his corruption are dropped. It’s also an example of Pelosi’s calculated approach bearing fruit.
The Trump Administration has refused to comply with almost every single subpoena House Democrats have issued by refusing to hand over the unredacted Mueller report, instructing former White House Counsel Don McGahn not to testify, and refusing to hand over Trump’s tax returns to Congress. This has caused frustration among some Democratic lawmakers and voters who are calling for immediate impeachment hearings to highlight Trump’s corruption. But Pelosi’s methodical approach is paying off while also bolstering the case for future impeachment.
The Trump Administration’s obstruction efforts faced some major court defeats this week. On Monday, DC District Court Judge Amit Mehta ordered President Trump’s accounting firm to comply with House Democrats’ subpoena by turning over documents to the House Oversight Committee. Today, a federal judge in New York ruled that Deutsche Bank and Capital One can hand over President Trump’s financial records to Congress. Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) was able to get the Justice Department to agree to hand over some counterintelligence documents.
This is all part of House Democrats methodical strategy of racking up court battles so their investigations into the Trump Administration can gain more support and legal momentum. The Trump administration has been further building the case for impeachment with every passing day. The Trump Administration’s stonewalling is increasing in its blatant corruption and making the case to the public that impeachment is necessary. This is all happening while Trump can’t say all Democrats want to do is impeach because Pelosi won’t give him that talking point. The case for impeachment is stronger today than it was two weeks ago and support for impeachment among the public has risen to 45% while a majority believe Trump obstructed justice.
The “Democrats are overreaching” narrative has been replaced with some members of the media calling for impeachment themselves. Democrats have earned a lot of goodwill with the media and appear measured, which will make the hearings more effective if they are launched. It’s important to remember the entire House has to vote on a resolution in order to begin an impeachment inquiry in the House Judiciary Committee. If some moderate Democrats aren’t on board, there is a risk of the vote failing. But over the past few weeks with this approach, moderate Democrats are beginning to come around to the prospect as well. It’s clear that House Democrats are better positioned to launch an impeachment inquiry now than they were last month. The question is, do they move now or should Democrats carry on this approach and build more momentum?
In other news…
- The New York Times: New York Passes Bill Giving Congress a Way to Get Trump’s State Tax Returns
- Bloomberg: Mueller Probed Cohen Ties to Oligarch’s Cousin, Filings Show
- CNN: Michael Avenatti charged with stealing $300,000 from former client Stormy Daniels
Investigating The Investigators
Day 854: Thursday, May 23
Today, President Trump signed a troubling executive order. As we know, Attorney General William Barr has launched an investigation into how the Russia investigation began and whether there was improper surveillance of the Trump Campaign. Trump’s executive order empowers Barr to declassify any information pertaining to his investigation. It also orders the U.S. Intelligence Community to cooperate with Barr’s investigation.
This is a stark escalation in President Trump’s authoritarian tactics. The “Spygate” conspiracy theory Barr is investigating has already been thoroughly debunked. It is also well-known that the Russia investigation began because George Papadopoulos bragged about Russia’s dirt on Hillary Clinton to an Australian diplomat.
David Laufman, former Chief of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section at the Department of Justice, told MSNBC Trump’s order is “a grotesque abuse of the intelligence community to further his goal of political retribution, made worse by the spectacle of the Justice Department as his handmaiden.”
Given how Barr has lied about the contents of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report and sought to protect President Trump from being held accountable for obstructing justice, there is no reason to believe he will run a fair investigation. What will Barr declassify? Will this investigation snowball into something that involves Trump’s perceived political opponents like Clinton and Comey?
Here is an official statement on the executive order.
And so it begins. The president has ordered a federal investigation into his perceived political adversaries. pic.twitter.com/mMrPawd9ao
— Jonathan Allen (@jonallendc) May 24, 2019
Here is the text from the executive order.
BREAKING: Trump orders the declassification of certain intelligence to assist in William Barr’s review of intelligence activities relating to the 2016 presidential campaigns pic.twitter.com/EuOAQ2q8by
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) May 24, 2019
In other news…
- President Trump continued his false charges of treason.
REPORTER: Sir, the constitution says treason is punishable by death. You’ve accused your adversaries of treason. Who specifically are you accusing of treason?
TRUMP: A number of people. If you look at Comey, McCabe, if you look at Strzok, his lover Lisa Page… 😳 pic.twitter.com/6louyWsqaa
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 23, 2019
- NBC News: Federal Savings Bank CEO Stephen Calk charged with soliciting Manafort for Trump admin job
- The Daily Beast: Trump Justice Department Crosses New Line, Charges Assange With Publishing U.S. Secrets
CBS News: A 10-year-old migrant girl died last year in government care, officials acknowledge
- ABC News: Trump announces $16 billion bailout for farmers hit by trade war with China
- CNN: Deal struck to pass $19 billion disaster relief package without border funds
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Trump’s 2020 Headache
Day 855: Friday, May 24
Rantt Editor Greg Fish breaks down why the wide Democratic field spells trouble for President Trump:
It seems almost comically absurd to have some 24 candidates running for president from one party. It may even remind liberals of the Republican circus act in which 16 candidates fired away at each other until some unholy eldritch humor favored Donald Trump, prompting them to worry that the winner of the 2020 nomination will be the loudest, most flamboyant politician, not the measured adult capable of living rent-free in The Donald’s head while appealing to enough voters to seal the general election. But what if a protracted Democratic primary in which some 24 candidates vie for attention is actually a net positive?
Consider that Trump is already in a bind for 2020 for several reasons. He’s fighting numerous investigations into his corruption and abuse of power, obstructing Congressional oversight at just about every turn, which is very unpopular with the public. He’s facing historic headwinds as only a little more than a third of Americans think he should get a second term. And being the petty man child that he is, he’s outright refusing to work with Congress to govern unless lawmakers agree to cede absolute legal immunity to him, no matter his conduct, which is not something a nation that prides itself on its history of rebellion against authority finds admirable, to put it mildly.
Now, add 24 media-hungry presidential candidates attacking him on all sides for the next 8 to 11 months, depending on who drops out of the primary based on incoming votes. With Hillary Clinton as the clear frontrunner in 2016, Trump and the entire Republican media machine could fire every rhetorical weapon they had in her direction, as could the Russian disinformation trolls on social media happy to help the campaign. But now, Trump has to fight a war on 24 fronts and with the Democratic House. On who does he focus fire? Nobody knows, not even Democrats. He could try and target the likely nominees, but that’s still at least five or six people.
In other news…
- USA TODAY: ‘Here we go again.’ Federal judge blocks Mississippi’s ‘heartbeat’ abortion law
- CNN: Trump declares emergency to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE
- The New York Times: Trump Administration Proposes Rollback of Transgender Protections
- Associated Press: US beefing up forces in Middle East to counter Iran
- NBC News: In latest attack, Trump tweets edited video of Pelosi tripping over words
- Politico: Lone Republican blocks disaster aid package on House floor
- Vox: Democrats in Congress are getting things done. Trump and Republicans are just ignoring them.
- GameDaily: Trump administration 25 percent tariff proposal targets U.S. board game, game console imports
- The Washington Post: What happens next with Brexit, now that Theresa May is resigning?
- The Washington Post: ‘He always brings them up’: Trump tries to steer border wall deal to North Dakota firm
- Rolling Stone: National Rifle Association Hit with $100 Million Counter-Suit
Over the weekend…
While President Trump was visiting Japan, he sent out a troubling tweet.
President Trump continues his habit of siding with murderous dictators over Americans by claiming he smiled when Kim Jong Un attacked Joe Biden
Trump falsely accuses his fellow Americans of treason which is punishable by death
The President of the United States is un-American https://t.co/GAU0HzRhfC
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) May 26, 2019
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: