A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 124th Unpresidented Week As POTUS
Donald Trump’s smoke and mirrors presidency continued as his tactics of disinformation, misdirection, and obstruction moved forward while he was abroad.
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 124.
This week, Trump played his latest reality TV role of international statesman. While his D-Day speech garnered praise, it contradicted a presidency filled with undemocratic actions and rhetoric that seeks to erode the post-WWII world order those brave men at Normandy fought to establish.
While in the UK (the United Kingdom), President Trump told the world not to believe their eyes and ears by claiming the very real protests of his arrival in Britain didn’t exist. Trump also claimed he did not call the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, “nasty,” in spite of audio proving he did. Trump also attacked Robert Mueller and Nancy Pelosi, fellow Americans, with Normandy cemetery behind him.
At home, the Trump Administration continued its unprecedented stonewalling of House Democrats. They’re trying to expand the definition of executive privilege to legitimize their obstruction, “instructing” witnesses not to comply with congressional subpoenas, and lying about the damning obstruction evidence in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
By the end of the week, President Trump backed off his earlier threat of tariffs on Mexico (taxes on the American taxpayer) if they didn’t stop migrant flow. Trump claimed there was a breakthrough deal with Mexico, but it was later reported that the agreement consisted largely of previously agreed upon measures.
So what really happened is Trump panicked last week when Mueller’s statement was getting endless coverage. Trump then pivoted to Mexico tariff threats, then the GOP began signaling they would move to block him. It would’ve been their most consequential rebuke of him thus far. So, President Trump backed off. Another attempt to con the media and his supporters into claiming he had a win.
Let’s dive into another Unpresidented week filled with smoke and mirrors.
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:
House Looks To What’s Next
Day 865: Monday, June 3
Last week, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent shockwaves through the political world by publicly stating what his report already outlined: President Trump was not exonerated, the Office of Legal Counsel memos stating a President cannot be indicted prevented Mueller from considering charging Trump, and that Congress is responsible for holding President Trump accountable.
In perhaps the largest example of the fact only a small percentage of Americans have actually read the 448-page Mueller report, many pundits appeared surprised when Mueller made his statement. The coverage of the public soundbites moved even more lawmakers and presidential candidates to call for impeachment. Although Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is reluctant to impeach, House Democrats appear to be on the offensive.
Today, the House Judiciary Committee announced that they will be holding a series of hearings entitled “Lessons From the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes,” the first of which will be held on June 10th. The hearing will feature testimony from former White House Counsel John Dean, who famously testified against former President Richard Nixon during the Watergate hearings. In his statement last week, Robert Mueller signaled he does not want to testify but House Democrats are still attempting to get him on Capitol Hill.
In a statement announcing the upcoming hearings, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said: “No one is above the law. While the White House continues to cover up and stonewall, and to prevent the American people from knowing the truth, we will continue to move forward with our investigation…”
In another move marking an escalation in House Democrats’ approach to oversight, the full House will vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress on June 11 for not complying with their subpoena for the full unredacted Mueller report. They will also vote to hold former White House Counsel Don McGahn in contempt for failing to comply with the House Judiciary Committee’s subpoena compelling his testimony.
In related news, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) announced that they will schedule a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress if they don’t turn over documents related to the 2020 census by this Thursday. Cummings said in a letter:
“The Trump administration has been engaged in one of the most unprecedented cover-ups since Watergate, extending from the White House to multiple federal agencies and departments of the government and across numerous investigations.”
As if there weren’t enough moves from House Democrats on Monday, House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman announced a broad antitrust investigation into Silicon Valley’s largest tech companies. The probe will investigate whether companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon are engaging in “anti-competitive conduct.”
In regards to the Trump Administration, given the fact they have stonewalled almost every congressional subpoena and have now proven they are willing to defy a court order from federal prosecutors, the pressure Democrats are applying appears more than justified. Over 1,000 former federal prosecutors have signed a letter asserting that President Trump would be indicted for obstruction of justice if it weren’t for the OLC memos.
In other news…
- The New York Times: A ‘Bridge’ to China, and Her Family’s Business, in the Trump Cabinet
- NBC News: Botched reunifications left migrant children waiting in vans overnight
- The Washington Post: Trump urges customers to drop AT&T to punish CNN over its coverage of him
- The Washington Post: Figure linked to Trump transition charged with transporting child pornography
- The New York Times: U.S. Requiring Social Media Information From Visa Applicants
- CNN: Judge rejects House Democrats’ attempt to block border wall
- NBC News: House passes $19 billion disaster relief bill
- The New York Times: Trump Administration Considered Tariffs on Australia
- Bloomberg: Departing Trump Economist Sees Risk to 3% U.S. Growth Goal
- AP: Pentagon tells White House to stop politicizing military
- Politico: Conservatives push to reinstate Steve King on committees despite racist remarks
- CNN: The 29 most eyebrow-raising lines from Jared Kushner’s Axios interview
The Authoritarian Worldview That Drives William Barr
Day 866: Tuesday, June 4
The modern 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 tactic of stonewalling Congress.
As Attorney General William Barr indicated in his 19-page memo attacking former 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 findings in the Mueller report and attempted to exonerate President Trump, Barr made clear that he believes a President is incapable of obstructing justice. In Barr’s Senate Judiciary hearing last month, the Attorney General said that the President has the power to curtail any investigation if he feels he is being falsely accused.
The House Judiciary Committee has voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena and the full House is set to vote on the resolution next week. Even President George W. Bush’s former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, who is a proponent of the unitary executive, believes that the Trump Administration is going too far by refusing to comply with subpoenas. Barr’s undemocratic belief in absolute executive authority has been apparent throughout his career.
In 1989, then-Assistant Attorney General Wiliam Barr in the Office of Legal Counsel wrote a memo entitled “Common Legislative Encroachments On Executive Branch Authority.” In the memo, Barr embodies the unitary executive theory by claiming restrictions on the President’s “removal power,” legislative vetoes, and “attempts to gain access to sensitive Executive Branch information” are legislative encroachments. In 1992, then-Attorney General William Barr worked with President George H.W. Bush on the Iran-Contra pardons which depicted the investigation as partisan.
As you can see, the use of the unitary executive theory to justify an expansive view of presidential power is nothing new, in fact, it’s a view held in many conservative legal circles today. The problem is, this new version of the unitary executive perverts the original vision of Alexander Hamilton, who pioneered the theory. Hamilton first broached the idea of the unitary executive in the Federalist Papers. The idea was for all executive authority to lie with the President rather than delegating decision-making power throughout different deputies.
As Professor Bradley Hays wrote in The Washington Post, Hamilton actually intended the unitary executive to increase accountability by centralizing the power of the executive. Hays also notes that Hamilton explicitly states that the unitary executive does not place the President above the law:
In Federalist 65, he clearly states that a president impeached for misconduct is also “liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law.” In other words, the presidency was not designed to be free from prosecutorial inquiry.
Modern conservative advocates of the unitary executive theory appear to leap right over Federalist 65 and have taken a Nixonian view of presidential power – one that places the president above the law entirely. President Trump has already been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Southern District of New York’s conviction of Michael Cohen’s campaign finance felonies. Robert Mueller outlined 10 areas of obstruction of justice on the part of President Trump and left it to Congress to decide his fate because he was restricted by the OLC memos stating a sitting president cannot be indicted. Over 1,000 former federal prosecutors have signed a letter asserting that President Trump would be indicted for obstruction of justice if it weren’t for those OLC memos.
In an interview with CBS last week, Barr continued to defend his attempt to clear the President of obstruction of justice and discussed his plans to investigate the very same people President Trump has falsely accused of treason. Barr has confirmed that he is willing to do whatever it takes to uphold the power of this presidency – even if it means protecting a lawless President who violates the Constitution. Meanwhile, the Republican Party is willing to stand by both men every step of the way.
Today, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) calledWilliam Barr “the second-most dangerous man in the country.” Judging by what Barr believes and the authoritarian tendencies he is willing to embolden, that statement rings true.
In other news…
- Rantt Media: America’s Declining Empathy Is Eroding Our Democracy
- Rantt Media: Sexism In 2020: How We’re Repeating The Mistakes Of 2016
- The Washington Post: White House instructs Hope Hicks, former McGahn aide not to comply with congressional subpoenas
- CBS News: House passes latest DREAM Act, hoping to place millions of immigrants on path to citizenship
- The New York Times: Mexico Will Face Tariffs Next Week, Trump Vows
- The Washington Post: GOP lawmakers warn White House they’ll try to block Trump’s Mexico tariffs
- TPM: DOJ To Nadler: We’ll Reopen Mueller Report Talks If You Undo Barr Contempt Vote
- The New York Times: Paul Manafort to Be Sent to Rikers, Where He Will be Held in Isolation
- NBC News: Trump admin okayed nuclear permits for Saudis after Khashoggi killing
- The Hill: NBC’s Engel: Trump ‘sounded delusional’ saying ‘thousands’ welcomed him in UK
- The Daily Beast: Alabama Mayor Suggests Killing LGBTQ People in Facebook Post He Says He Thought Was Private
- CNN: The bond market may be signaling something worse than a recession: Distrust in America
- NBC News: Hotel investor: Trump evaded taxes in Panama
- AP: Trump administration halts cruises to Cuba under new rules
Support Independent Journalism
Day 867-868: Wednesday-Thursday, June 5-6
75 years ago today, Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in the effort of liberating France from the Nazi occupation. A little after midnight, 24,000 paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines and were followed by 132,000 troops who stormed the beaches. Over 9,000 were wounded or missing and 4,414 were confirmed dead in the operation. This was the beginning of the liberation of Europe from the Nazis, and we all know how that ended.
Today, in Normandy, President Trump delivered a speech commemorating the sacrifices that were made that fateful day. The remarks received rave reviews from Trump supporters and critics alike. This happens all the time. President Trump musters the self-control not to do something stupid and he is deemed presidential. But what those who are prone to praising yet another momentary display of Trump competence seem to forget is the fact his speech didn’t happen in a vacuum.
Just minutes before the speech, with the Normandy Cemetery behind him in the frame of the Fox News interview, President Trump called decorated war veteran Robert Mueller a fool and attacked Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Not even the gravity of this historic moment could thwart President Trump’s habit of insulting his fellow Americans or attacking veterans that he personally dislikes – the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Adm. William McRaven being recent examples. These insults are made worse when you factor Trump’s Vietnam War draft-dodging into the equation.
This speech also comes as Trump’s presidency has undermined the very same post-WWII world order that those brave men fought to create 75 years ago. President Trump’s disdain for the US-led liberal order has been never been subtle. President Trump’s anti-NATO stance can best be demonstrated in his July 2018 trip to Brussels, where he attacked the alliance with lies and baseless accusations. While attacking the NATO alliance, Trump has repeatedly sided with despots like North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin over western democracies, including the US.
Anyone who knows their history is aware that the post-WWII order was crafted by the United States. NATO was founded 70 years ago to promote the shared values of democracy and uphold the common security of the West. America’s disproportionate investments in NATO yield dividends in American dominance, in spite of Trump’s assertions those investments are fruitless. Not to mention the fact NATO is an alliance that has come to America’s defense (see Article 5’s invocation after 9/11). The peaceful Europe of today is the result of decades of US leadership, which President Trump has been undermining since he took office.
There is also the fact that President Trump has refused to combat the rise of neo-Nazism in America and even referred to those among the 2017 neo-Nazi protestors in Charlottesville as “very fine people.” Trump has also embodied the very same authoritarian tendencies that those fighting in WWII sought to rid from the Earth. Thousands of allied forces didn’t die on D-Day fighting fascism for the 45th President of the United States to be a wannabe fascist who erodes the post-WWII world order and calls the ideological descendants of the Nazis “very fine people.”
In other news…
- CNN Exclusive: Homeland Security watchdog finds ‘egregious’ conditions at ICE facilities in 2018
- The Washington Post: Mexico aims to avoid tariffs with potential deal limiting migrants going north, allowing U.S. to deport Central American asylum seekers
- The Hill: Trump plans to declare new national emergency to impose tariffs
- The Hill: House Democrats officially introduce contempt resolution for Barr, McGahn
- Politico: Robert Mueller could be subpoenaed in the next two weeks
- Politico: Contempt vote likely after DOJ rejects demand for census docs
- Buzzfeed News: Listen To The Voicemail Trump’s Lawyer Left For Michael Flynn’s Lawyer After Flynn Cut A Deal
- Reuters: Trump to decide on $300 billion China tariffs after G20 meeting
- CBS News: Military to spend a month painting border barriers to “improve aesthetic appearance”
- Politico: Pelosi tells Dems she wants to see Trump ‘in prison’
- CNN: Inside Jerry Nadler’s private push to open up impeachment inquiry
- Axios: Trump’s incredibly empty Cabinet
- The Daily Beast: NRA Subpoenas Oliver North, Its Ex-President
- The Daily Beast: Roy Moore’s Attorney Arrested on Drug Charges
Day 869: Friday, June 7
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been fighting back calls for the impeachment of President Trump for months. Many Democratic lawmakers, Republican Rep. Justin Amash, and presidential candidates have been pushing for the launch of an impeachment inquiry since Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report was released. Those calls have risen in intensity since Mueller’s public statement, which further highlighted the fact Mueller expected Congress to hold Trump accountable for obstruction. Pelosi’s latest attempt to push back on impeachment has raised eyebrows and the hypocritical ire of President Trump.
This week, reports alleged that when House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) pushed Pelosi to let him move to open an impeachment inquiry, Pelosi told him that she’d rather see Trump in prison than be impeached. Pelosi has pushed this idea before that if the Senate exonerates President Trump, then he somehow can’t be prosecuted once he leaves office. That isn’t how double jeopardy works. Either way, these statements about imprisoning Trump were objectively problematic.
No politician, not the President or the Speaker of the House, should be talking about who should be imprisoned and who should not. It’d be best for Pelosi to focus on holding Trump accountable using her constitutional means while Trump is in office and then let the justice system do its own thing once he leaves office. President Trump jumped on the comments without a hint of self-awareness.
In an interview on Fox News right before his speech at Normandy on Thursday, President Trump attacked Pelosi for making those comments. Today, President Trump took to Twitter to express his dismay.
…and have no intention of doing anything other than going on a fishing expedition to see if they can find anything on me – both illegal & unprecedented in U.S. history. There was no Collusion – Investigate the Investigators! Go to work on Drug Price Reductions & Infrastructure!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2019
Fox News Anchor Sean Hannity also expressed some faux outrage over the comments as well.
Trump (who is now implicated in two campaign finance felonies in the SDNY and likely obstructed justice) and members of his campaign (like Michael Flynn who have literally pleaded guilty to felonies) called for Clinton to be jailed with absolutely no evidence of crimes
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) June 7, 2019
Donald Trump falsely accused his perceived political opponents of treason just last week and spent his entire Campaign calling for Hillary Clinton to be locked up with no evidence of crimes.
@nytimes: Bannon, Ivanka, Kushner, Miller, Cohn, & Priebus all used private emails
2016 Trump on Clinton emails: “She should be in jail”
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) September 26, 2017
Although Pelosi’s comments were inappropriate, it’s entirely inaccurate to make a direct comparison to Trump’s calls for Clinton to be jailed. The FBI found no crimes on the part of Clinton with her use of a private email server. Republican congressional probes found no wrongdoing on her part in Benghazi. The Clinton Foundation is still up and running—the Trump Foundation was shut down due to criminal activity. Also important to note that Trump has actually already ordered an investigation into his perceived enemies and has embraced his worst authoritarian tendencies.
President Trump, on the other hand, had been implicated in two campaign finance felonies which his personal fixer Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty and was convicted for. Over 1,000 former federal prosecutors have signed a letter asserting that President Trump would be indicted for the obstruction evidence outlined in the Mueller report if it weren’t for the OLC memos stating sitting president cannot be indicted. Needless to say, Trump may very well be in legal trouble when he leaves office. But that is better left to the federal prosecutors. For now, many Trump critics believe an impeachment inquiry that highlights Trump’s corruption would be a good start.
In other news…
- The New York Times: Trump Says U.S. Has Reached Deal With Mexico and Calls Off Tariffs
- The New York Times: Mexico Agreed to Take Border Actions Months Before Trump Announced Tariff Deal
- The New York Times: Automakers Tell Trump His Pollution Rules Could Mean ‘Untenable’ Instability and Lower Profits
- NBC News: Trump admin tells U.S. embassies no rainbow pride flag on flagpoles
- Politico: White House tried to block Kris Kobach from testifying about census
- CNN: US and Russian warships nearly collide in the Pacific
- CNN: Trump flips on space goals: ‘NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon’ and focus on Mars
- CNN: Judge orders FBI to reveal more parts of Comey memos
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: