A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 123rd 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 123.
President Trump and Attorney General William Barr thought they could continue lying to the American people about former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. They thought that as long as they stonewalled congressional subpoenas and refused to allow witnesses to testify, they could saturate the airwaves with their false narrative of “no obstruction, no collusion.” They assumed the Republican base would never actually read a 448-page report, so their lies would go unchecked as long as Fox News carried their water. Those days are over.
In his last move as Special Counsel, Robert Mueller stood in front of a podium at the Justice Department, announced his resignation, and told the American people the truth. Mueller made very clear that Russia’s interference in US democracy was not a “hoax,” explained how his report does not exonerate Trump, detailed how the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) memo claiming a sitting president cannot be indicted prevented him from considering charging Trump, and he essentially greenlit impeachment proceedings by telling Congress it’s their job to hold the President accountable.
Those truths were already outlined in his report, but to have them spoken by the author himself on live television in a digestible manner was profound. Even Fox News Anchor Bret Baier conceded that Mueller’s characterization of the report ran in stark contrast to what Barr told the people. Barr claimed that the OLC memos did not factor into Mueller’s decision-making when he knows it did. Barr claimed that he was expected to make the prosecutorial decision on obstruction of justice when Mueller wanted it to be made by Congress. But after Trump and Barr’s was ruse was laid bare, Barr still didn’t let up.
In his interview with CBS News, Barr defended his false representations of the Mueller report and talked about his current investigation into those who launched the Russia investigation. This week, President Trump ramped up his false accusations of treason against his perceived political opponents. Given Trump’s authorization of Barr’s investigation and the dangerous nature of these treason accusations, his investigation should be watched closely.
In reaction to Mueller’s statement, presidential candidates and lawmakers were calling for the launch of an impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s corrupt conduct. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is still unwilling to proceed at this time, but the pressure is mounting.
In typical Trump fashion, the President sought to change the subject. By the weekend, President Trump was threatening tariffs on Mexico (taxes on the American people) if they don’t stop the flow of migrants. There was also yet another mass shooting, this time in Virginia Beach.
Let’s dive into another Unpresidented week in America.
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:
Dangerous False Treason Charges
Day 858-859: Monday-Tuesday, May 27-28
President Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric is becoming increasingly dangerous. Last week, Trump escalated his false accusations of treason. After NBC News White House Correspondent Peter Alexander pointed out that treason is punishable by death, President Trump went on to name specific people:
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
These false charges were echoed by Republican Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WI).
That’s not treason … but if @Liz_Cheney is really interested in accountability for serious malfeasance what her daddy did is a war crime and a violation of the Convention Against Torture which the U.S. has an obligation to investigate and punish. https://t.co/mlIZ7Gs4sd
— Col. Morris Davis (@ColMorrisDavis) May 27, 2019
You heard that correctly. The President of the United States and members of the Republican Party said that former FBI Director James Comey, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI Agent Peter Strozk, and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page could be guilty of treason. This, of course, is nonsense. But more on that later.
President Trump has long made false accusations of treason, but those claims took on new meaning last week as Attorney General William Barr was given increased investigative authority. Barr is probing whether there was improper surveillance directed at the Trump Campaign (there wasn’t) and if the Russia investigation began corruptly (it didn’t).
Last Thursday, Trump signed an executive order that empowers Barr to declassify any information and orders U.S. intelligence agencies to cooperate with Barr’s investigation. This puts those people Trump has accused of treason in Barr’s crosshairs.
The central thesis of these false treason accusations is the claim that the investigators who launched the Russia investigation were somehow launching a coup attempt against Trump, who wasn’t even elected president yet. Let’s look at the facts. First off, there has been no wrongdoing on the part of the people Trump has named when it comes to the integrity of the Russia investigation. Former Trump Campaign Advisor George Papadopoulos bragged to an Australian diplomat about Russia’s dirt on Hillary Clinton and that’s what sparked the investigation. As we can see by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report—which outlines Russia’s interference, over 100 pages of collusion evidence, and 10 key areas of obstruction of justice—the investigation was warranted.
When it comes to the cries of treason itself, they have no basis in a fact-based reality. Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution defines treason as:
“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
Treason can only be charged if we are in a state of declared war – which we are not with Russia. Also, launching a lawful investigation into Russia’s attack on US democracy hardly qualifies as giving aid or comfort to an enemy. What Trump appears to be arguing is that the individuals he named have shown “disloyalty” to him, and therefore, have committed treason. The idea that those who criticize their country’s leader in a personal capacity are somehow treasonous is an idea typical of a dictator, not a democratic US president.
NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams, who has covered legal and national security matters for the network since 1993, expanded on treason with some context:
That “enemy” element of treason is very significant. For example, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed in 1953 after they were convicted on espionage charges for passing US atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union, could not be charged with treason because the Soviets were not considered enemies.
No one has been convicted of treason in the U.S. for nearly 70 years. The last few cases involved Americans who aided Germany and Japan during World War II.
It’s also important to point out that President Trump is projecting what he has been accused of onto others. President Trump was receptive to Russia’s election help and has sided with foreign adversaries like Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un over Americans. Even what President Trump has done, although deeply improper, does not qualify as treason.
What President Trump is arguing is not only false, it is dangerous. Right now, the American experiment is being tested. We will soon find out if we are a nation of laws or a nation of petty men who are willing to erode American democracy to maintain power.
In other news…
- The Washington Post: Still angling for a deal, Trump backs Kim Jong Un over Biden, Bolton, and Japan
- CNN: Thomas, Ginsburg draw battle lines for future abortion cases
- NBC News: New Michael Wolff book says Mueller drafted Trump obstruction indictment; special counsel denies
- HuffPost: GOP Tax Law Doing Little For The Economy, Even Less For Workers: Congressional Study
- CNN: McConnell says he would fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020
- Associated Press: A hefty donation to Trump’s inaugural comes under scrutiny
- HuffPost: Trump HUD Official: ‘I Honestly Don’t Care’ If I’m Breaking Federal Law
- CBS News: U.S. service members seen wearing MAGA-inspired patches at Trump speech may have violated DOD rules
Robert Mueller Takes A Stand
Day 860: Wednesday, May 29
Two years and twelve days ago, Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel. On March 22 of this year, Mueller concluded his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and submitted his 448-page report to Attorney General William Barr. Since then, Barr, President Trump, and the Republican Party have publicly lied about the report, even after a redacted version was released. Today at 11 am, Robert Mueller broke his silence and added another page to history.
Three weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declared “case closed” when it comes to Mueller’s investigation. In his 9-minute statement today at the Justice Department, Mueller showcased the folly in McConnell’s words by publicly outlining the findings of his report and putting the ball in Congress’ court.
In a nutshell, Mueller made very clear that Russia’s interference in US democracy was not a “hoax,” explained how his report does not exonerate Trump, detailed how the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) memo claiming a sitting president cannot be indicted prevented him from considering charging Trump, and he essentially greenlit impeachment proceedings by telling Congress it’s their job to hold the President accountable. Let’s dissect his remarks and what could happen next.
In other news…
- NBC News: Louisiana passes fetal heartbeat abortion ban, Democratic governor says he will sign into law
- The Daily Beast: Pelosi: Facebook a ‘Willing Enabler’ of Russian Interference for Keeping Doctored Videos Up
- CNN: Boris Johnson to face court for alleged Brexit lies
- NBC News: Netanyahu fails to form new government, election in September
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A Consequential EU Election
Day 861: Thursday, May 30
751 total seats.
400 million voters.
Over 150 political parties.
The European Parliamentary elections are the second largest in the world.
This one was consequential.
In other news…
- The Daily Beast: Trump Admits Russia Helped Elect Him—Then Does a U-Turn
- NBC News: Full list: 50 House members who favor starting Trump impeachment inquiry
- The Washington Post: Despite Trump administration denials, new evidence suggests census citizenship question was crafted to benefit white Republicans
- Newsweek: U.S. economy slips from first to third place in global competitiveness ranking amid Trump’s tariffs
- Reuters: U.S. judge rejects Trump administration move to start wall construction
- Buzzfeed News: Trump Is Considering Denying Asylum To Immigrants Who Travel Through A Third Country
- Miami Herald: Federal prosecutors demand Cindy Yang records from Mar-a-Lago, Trump campaign
- NBC News: Third Republican blocks attempt to pass disaster aid in House
- CNN: US measles cases reach highest number in nearly three decades, CDC says
- CNBC: Trump says he was unaware of effort to move USS John McCain ‘out of sight’ in Japan
- CBS News: R. Kelly charged with 11 new counts of sexual assault and abuse
Trump’s Personal Attorney
Day 862: Friday, May 31
In his first network interview as President Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr continued his disinformation campaign and effort to place the president above the law. Barr, the second US Attorney General to be held in contempt of Congress, has proven he will go to any length to protect Donald Trump.
As we know, Barr took it upon himself to try and clear President Trump of obstruction of justice after now-resigned Special Counsel Robert Mueller outlined 10 areas of obstruction on the part of Trump. Barr has misrepresented the findings of the Mueller report before and after its release. Perhaps his biggest lie was trying to claim that the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) memo stating a sitting president cannot be indicted didn’t factor into Mueller’s decision-making. Mueller’s report also explicitly notes that he believes it was Congress’ job to decide whether the President committed a crime.
On Thursday, Mueller spoke out publicly about his investigation for the first time. When contrasted with Barr’s previous press conference and congressional testimony, the fact Barr misrepresented and mishandled the Mueller report is indisputable. As I wrote in The Independent, Mueller’s new public statement made very clear that Russia’s interference in US democracy was not a “hoax,” explained how his report does not exonerate Trump, detailed how the OLC memo is the reason he didn’t charge Trump, and put the ball in Congress’ court by claiming it’s their job to hold the President accountable:
“The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
Barr’s lengthy interview with CBS was clearly an attempt to shift the fact-based narrative Mueller set forth. But as we saw, it was nothing but more blatant gaslighting and will ultimately prove ineffective given how much Americans distrust him. Barr defended his release of the misleading 4-page summary when he received the report in March, claimed that he thought Mueller could’ve made a determination on obstruction, and defended his decision to protect President Trump from criminal liability.
In this clip, Barr stated that he did not agree with the legal analysis Mueller outlined in his report and stood by his debunked claim that the Trump Campaign was spied on.
Barr may have disagreed with Mueller’s legal analysis, but countless legal experts agree with Mueller. Over 800 former federal prosecutors signed a letter asserting that Trump would be very clearly indicted for obstruction of justice if it weren’t for the OLC memo.
In a clip that RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel shared on Twitter, Barr accused Democrats of exactly what he is doing.
AG Barr is spot on.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) May 31, 2019
This is shameless projection. “Shredding the norms and institutions of our democracy” is what Trump does with his obstruction, stonewalling, and authoritarian tendencies and what Barr has done throughout his tenure as Attorney General.
The President of the United States and members of the Republican Party have falsely argued that former FBI Director James Comey, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI Agent Peter Strozk, and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page could be guilty of treason. When Barr was asked about whether he felt they committed treason, he says he does not think they committed it as “a legal matter.” But he then goes on to make some remarks that appear as if he believes their actions were treacherous:
“I’m not suggesting that people did what they did necessarily because of conscious, nefarious motives. Sometimes people can convince themselves that what they’re doing is in the higher interest, the better good. They don’t realize that what they’re doing is really antithetical to the democratic system that we have.”
Barr later went into detail about how he feels there may have been bias at work on the part of the FBI when launching the probe, but only cites Lisa Page and Peter Strozk’s text messages. It appears Barr is running a Fox News conspiracy theory-driven investigation. Barr’s investigation picked up steam after Trump empowered him with the ability to declassify any material he deems fit. This interview was further confirmation of Barr’s sycophancy towards President Trump and shouldn’t assure any Americans that he will conduct that investigation fairly.
In other news…
- The Virginian Pilot: These are the 12 victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting. Here are their stories.
- The Washington Post: Trump’s tariff threat to Mexico may upend trade deal, undermine the economy
- CNBC: Mnuchin and Lighthizer opposed Trump tariffs on Mexico, source says
- NBC News: Missouri’s last abortion clinic to stay open until at least Tuesday in Planned Parenthood case
- CNN: Fox News silent after Laura Ingraham defends white supremacist, other extremists on her prime time show
- USA TODAY: Elizabeth Warren: Pass a law so the president can be indicted
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: