It’s been one year since activist Heather Heyer was killed by a neo-Nazi in Charlottesville, VA.
It’s been one year since President Donald Trump called the white supremacists who aligned themselves with Heather’s killer “very fine people.” In doing so, Trump equivocated those who were advocating vile bigotry and “peaceful ethnic cleansing” with those who bravely stood in opposition. We could talk about those protestors themselves, but it’s far more important to talk about the movement’s chief enabler. In a stunning display of immoral leadership, President Trump has not only avoided condemning this racist part of his base; he’s encouraged them through his actions, rhetoric, and policies.
From the moment he descended down those golden escalators to announce his candidacy to the moment he took the oath of office and beyond, Donald Trump has made no efforts to unite the country that he helped divide. Instead, what we’ve seen is a President of the United States who is only willing to govern for his base, which has become the product of the GOP’s decades-long Southern Strategy.
Trump’s shameless escalation of the Southern Strategy, that was pioneered by Richard Nixon and Kevin Phillips, has taken what was once dog whistles to bullhorns. From culture wars to inhumane immigration policies that are resulting in human rights violations at the border to new efforts to roll back legal immigration, President Trump has sent a clear message to white supremacists that he is their champion. The party of Lincoln has officially become the party of Trump.
Trump has taken hold of a base that is largely driven by racial anxiety and inundates them with disinformation, leading them to further scapegoat minorities for their economic and social shortcomings. Aided by Fox News hosts like Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, and Sean Hannity, Trump continues to spread the false notion that minorities seeking equality will somehow oppress whites. They perceive the increase in racial equality as a threat to their privilege, and falsely view this as an attack on their rights. This narrative is pushed all while Trump fills the pockets of his family and rich friends, further perpetuating the system of income inequality that hits his base hard (and hits minority groups the hardest).
President Trump tells his base that immigrants are taking their jobs (even though over 6 million jobs remain unfilled) while waging a trade war that will take their jobs.
President Trump tells his base that Muslims and MS-13 gang members are going to kill America’s children while maintaining a legislative status quo that is allowing active shooters to kill America’s children.
President Trump tells his base that the mainstream media is the enemy of the American people, while Fox News is feeding them propaganda that blindly supports a President who acts against America’s interests.
Whether you support the President or not, it’s indisputable that he is one of the most divisive presidents in American history. Never before has a President so deliberately divided the country for what he believed will be political gain. “Divide and conquer” is the foundational premise of his political platform. Trump truly believes it will continue to be a winning strategy.
It’s up to the American people to prove that belief wrong.
Day 564: Monday, August 6
On Sunday morning, President Trump tweeted out an admission that contradicts over years worth of statements his team has made about the nature of the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018
The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting was held between Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, then-Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, Natalia Veselnitskaya (a Russian lawyer and self-described informant), and Russian operatives. Donald Trump Jr.’s own emails and congressional testimony revealed that he was very eager about the prospect of receiving dirt on Hillary Clinton, but his initial story about the meeting was very different.
The Trump administration’s initial response to this, which was dictated on Air Force One by Trump himself with the help of former Communications Director Hope Hicks, was false. Trump Jr.’s first statement after the initial report asserted the meeting was only about adoption. As we now know, Trump Jr. later acknowledged that it clearly wasn’t just about adoption. He clearly states that he anticipated he was going to receive damaging information on his father’s political opponent Hillary Clinton. Even if it was strictly about “adoption,” it would’ve been problematic, given the fact Magnitsky Act was expanded in 2016 and now sanctions 44 people worldwide. If this story wasn’t about Jr. seeking dirt, it would’ve been about Trump campaign officials meeting with a Russian lawyer who is lobbying against US-imposed sanctions on Russia.
President Trump’s “fixer” Michael Cohen has reportedly claimed that then-candidate Trump approved the meeting ahead of time. This would make sense that Candidate Trump was aware, given the fact on June 7th, Candidate Trump said he was going to do a speech about Hillary Clinton’s wrongdoings (the speech never happened). Also, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani confirmed that there was a preparation meeting that occurred between Trump’s campaign team on June 7th, the same day as the speech announcement. One person allegedly in attendance, former Deputy Campaign Chairman Rick Gates, is now a cooperating witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
These are all significant developments in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government. If true, it would also mean that Donald Trump Jr. lied about his father’s knowledge of this to congressional investigators. And in spite of Trump Sr.’s assertions that the meeting was not illegal, but legal experts beg to differ.
Federal law, Section 30121 of Title 52, states that it is a crime for a foreign national to contribute money or other items of value to an American election, as well as making it illegal for an American to solicit such a contribution.
Also, if any Americans aided in disseminating the Russian hacked data, then they could be roped in as co-conspirators in Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers (GRU) for hacking the DNC, DCCC, and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign during the 2016 election and leaking through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0.
The Full Meeting Breakdown
- In attendance: Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, the Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Rob Goldstone, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, Russian interpreter and a representative for Aras Agalarov, Ike Kaveladze were at this June 9th meeting at Trump tower
- Goldstone, publicist, and former British tabloid reporter, was the intermediary for setting up the meeting
- Trump Jr. was promised dirt on Clinton before agreeing to attend
- Veselnitskaya was lobbying against Russian sanctions, and has testified that during the meeting Trump Jr. asked for damning information Hillary Clinton
- Trump Jr. was told it was part of Russia’s effort to support his father’s candidacy (with email confirmation via Trump Jr. himself)
- Goldstone was told to set up the meeting by the son of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov
- There seemed to have been a phone call between Emin Agalarov and Donald Trump Jr. on June 6th
- Trump Jr. didn’t appear surprised by Goldstone’s declaration that the Russian government supports his father
- Trump Sr. was one floor above the meeting at Trump Tower while the meeting took place
In other news…
- The New York Times: Rick Gates Testifies He Committed Crimes With Paul Manafort
- The Washington Post: When Trump attacked LeBron James, it had an unintended effect: other athletes speaking out
- Rolling Stone: The NRA Says It’s in Deep Financial Trouble, May Be ‘Unable to Exist’
- Politico: China hits back with tariffs on $60B in U.S. goods
- The Wall Street Journal: Top Trump Donor Agreed to Pay Michael Cohen $10 Million for Nuclear Project Push
- NBC News: Judge calls Trump administration family reunification efforts ‘unacceptable’
- The Washington Post: At President Trump’s hotel in New York, revenue went up this spring — thanks to a visit from big-spending Saudis
- Politico: Trump wildfire tweets spark bewilderment about California water
- The New York Times: Steel Giants With Ties to Trump Officials Block Tariff Relief for Hundreds of Firms
- CNN: Rand Paul, in Moscow, invites Russian lawmakers to Washington
- Buzzfeed News: Apple Kicked Alex Jones Off Its Platform, Then YouTube And Facebook Rushed To Do The Same
- Rantt Media: Social Media Is Making It Harder To Be A Bigot
- Rantt Media: Will The “Real Journalists” At Fox News Please Stand Up?
- Rantt Media: After Four Years Of The Flint Water Crisis, Thousands Of American Communities Still Don’t Have Clean Water
- Update on the separated immigrant children:
Lots of other stuff going on today.
Figured I’d remind everyone the Trump administration separated 2,551 migrant kids from their parents at the border.
572 of them are *still* separated.
410 have parents who were already deported.
The government simply can’t find them.
— Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) August 7, 2018
Day 565: Tuesday, August 7
The “Hothouse Earth” Theory
An underreported study of huge magnitudes was released about an incoming climate change tipping point that humanity must work towards avoiding. Rantt’s CIO and Politech Editor Greg Fish broke it down:
With soaring temperatures and roiling heat waves across the Northern Hemisphere this summer, it’s no surprise that the media was fascinated by a new study showing how we could be entering a long-term period called Hothouse Earth thanks to global warming. As we keep pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, average temperatures keep creeping upwards, and as they exceed 2 °C above normal, a number of very unpleasant things will happen, things we can’t undo. As a result, areas where millions of people live today will become uninhabitable due to heat waves, fire hazards, and persistent droughts, and rising sea levels will start flooding coastal cities, with major effects on agriculture, trade, and the global economy.
Basically, the study points out that when we emit greenhouse gases, there are certain natural carbon sinks which will absorb at least some of these gasses. Forests are one such sink. So are oceans and glacial ice. Certain types of rock can sequester some carbon as well. But as we keep polluting, the capacity of these sinks is exceeded, and they can no longer help protect us from ourselves. Likewise, because all these carbon reservoirs are all on the same planet and part of the same natural cycles, they affect each other, setting up a whole series of climate tipping points one after another, like dominoes. If we do nothing about it, we’ll be stuck on an uncomfortably hot world with all the logistical and geopolitical tensions climate change is already bringing us rapidly accelerated.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, Fish concludes:
We could try to adapt to toxic seafood and lower crop yields, try to fight diseases unleashed by melting permafrost, and spend the trillions of dollars to treat health problems caused by rampant pollution which is, unfortunately, making a huge comeback under the Trump administration. We can also brainstorm ways to deal with right-wing xenophobes and populists across the world who will mobilize against the rising tide of climate refugees. But why? Because it’s easier than developing a vision for the future and letting green energy companies create more jobs while cutting off the billions used to prop us fossil fuels and deal with the damage polluters are allowed to cause?
Thanks to small-minded inertia, we are effectively throwing money away not to change our ways and make a profit from doing something positive, then paying to clean up the side-effects. We’re going to have to live with some warming no matter what, but unless we go virtually all green and renewable by 2050, we’d be looking at a global humanitarian crises caused by droughts, famines, spreading disease, and wars for dwindling resources, as well as massive cleanup costs from more frequent and powerful natural disasters and lethal heat waves. Even the tiniest bit of foresight applied today could help us immeasurably in the future, so a Hothouse Earth is not a glimpse of our fate but a warning that we need to act sooner rather than later, especially when the only reason for inaction is myopic, economically and socially self-destructive ideological tribalism.
In other news…
- NBC News: Now the Trump administration wants to limit citizenship for legal immigrants
- CNN: Trump Supreme Court pick: Presidents can ignore laws they think are unconstitutional
- The Washington Post: Giuliani preparing letter to Mueller expressing ‘real reluctance’ over obstruction questions
- The Wall Street Journal: Former Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Under Investigation for Tax Fraud
- Protestors gathered at the White House for the 22nd straight day. I was there.
For the 22nd straight day, Americans protested @realDonaldTrump outside of the White House.
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) August 7, 2018
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) August 6, 2018
Day 566: Wednesday, August 8
NBC News just obtained a secret recording of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA-22) speaking at a Republican fundraiser on July 30 in Spokane, Washington. It reveals why House Republicans are working so hard to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, how they plan to go about impeaching Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and that Nunes secretly believes President Trump is at legal risk.
Nunes spoke about his belief that the House is the only means to protect President Trump and notably expressed worry about a scenario where Mueller finds wrongdoing on the part of President Trump.
“So therein lies, so it’s like your classic Catch-22 situation where we were at a – this puts us in such a tough spot. If Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones. Which is really the danger. That’s why I keep, and thank you for saying it by the way, I mean we have to keep all these seats. We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.”
The recording goes on to show Nunes undercutting the administration’s false “collusion is not a crime” narrative.
“Now if somebody thinks that my campaign or Cathy’s campaign is colluding with the Chinese, or you name the country, hey, could happen, it would be a very bad thing if Cathy was getting secrets from the Portuguese, let’s say, just because I’m Portuguese, my family was. So Cathy was getting secret information from the Portuguese. You know, may or may not be unusual. But ultimately let’s say the Portuguese came and brought her some stolen emails. And she decided to release those. Okay, now we have a problem, right? Because somebody stole the emails, gave ‘em to Cathy, Cathy released ‘em. Well, if that’s the case, then that’s criminal.”
As we know, Mueller has indicted 25 Russians—13 Russian entities were indicted earlier this year for their propaganda campaign, and 12 Russian intelligence officers (GRU) were indicted for hacking the DNC, DCCC, and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign during the 2016 election and leaking through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0. So what Nunes appears to be insinuating there is that when it comes to the dissemination of the hacked materials, Americans would be conspirators if they partook in that dissemination.
Nunes also explains why he wants to wait to attempt to impeach Rosenstein (an impeachment effort which is widely seen as being based on unsubstantiated claims).
So if we actually vote to impeach, okay, what that does is that triggers the Senate then has to take it up. Well, and you have to decide what you want right now because the Senate only has so much time. Do you want them to drop everything and not confirm the Supreme Court justice, the new Supreme Court justice? So that’s part of why, I don’t think you have, you’re not getting from, and I’ve said publicly Rosenstein deserves to be impeached. I mean, so, I don’t think you’re gonna get any argument from most of our colleagues. The question is the timing of it right before the election.”
You can listen to the tapes yourself here.
Context: From their false FISA surveillance scandal to their hearing with FBI Agent Peter Strzork, President Trump, House Republicans, and conservative media have long endeavored to undermine the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation (which he is a subject of). This effort has expanded into a broad initiative to discredit the DOJ, FBI, and the U.S. Intelligence Community as a whole.
The U.S. Intelligence Community concluded that Russia’s longstanding objective has been to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order and our faith in democratic institutions. For decades, Russian propaganda has aimed to stir racial divisions, attack the credibility of the U.S. government, and try to weaken western influence. Now, we have a President, backed by the full support of his party and propaganda arms like Fox News, executing on our foreign adversary’s primary objectives.
The investigation they’re trying to undermine, which President Trump called a witch hunt on the world stage, is a multi-faceted counterintelligence investigation that probes Russian interference, the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia, and potential obstruction of Justice on the part of President Trump. It also probes financial crimes on the part of Trump’s associates as well as international corruption involving Russia, UAE, Saudi Arabia, etc. Before Rosenstein indicted 12 Russians last month, the investigation had already yielded at least 79 charges against 23 people or companies, 5 guilty pleas (3 of which came from Trump’s associates), and 1 person sentenced.
In other news…
- Rantt Media: Insider Trading On The White House Lawn: Rep. Chris Collins Arrested By The FBI
- ProPublica: The Shadow Rulers of the VA: How Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter and two other Mar-a-Lago cronies are secretly shaping the Trump administration’s veterans policies
- ABC News: In response to Mueller, Trump legal team narrows scope of interview, not inclined to take questions on obstruction of justice: Sources
- The Daily Beast: Omarosa Secretly Recorded Trump and Played the Audio to Others, Sources Say
- NBC News: Trump administration to hit Russia with new sanctions for Skripal poisoning
- Politico: Leaked document: Putin lobbied Trump on arms control
- CNBC: China slaps 25% tariffs on $16 billion worth of US goods
- The New York Times: Trump’s Tariffs on Canadian Newsprint Hasten Local Newspapers’ Demise
- CBS News: Kris Kobach’s lead cut in half after mistake discovered in Kansas primary
- The Hill: CBO: National debt could be twice the size of GDP by 2048
- Texas Observer: ICE Crashed a Van Full of Separated Mothers, Then Denied It Ever Happened
Day 567: Thursday, August 9
Puerto Rico’s Forgotten People
In a report to Congress on Wednesday, the Puerto Rican government finally updated their official death toll for Hurricane Maria. It went from 64 to 1,427 people.
The deaths were reportedly more likely due to a lack of medical care and other resources in the aftermath rather than from the initial impact of the storm itself.
In May, a Harvard University study estimated that Hurricane Maria killed more than 4,600 in Puerto Rico. And earlier this month, the JAMA medical journal published a letter that estimated between 1,006 and 1,272 people died due to the storm.
Whether the death toll continues to rise or not, this officially one of the deadliest tragedies to strike America in the 21st century.
Perspective: The initial death toll of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was 2,996 (over 1,000 more have died from illnesses related to the attacks), while Hurricane Katrina’s death toll was 1,833.
Given President Trump’s reluctance to provide necessary aid, attacks on the Mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz, and overall negligence during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, you would expect this to be treated as the major scandal it is. But President Trump has not received the amount of universal backlash that President George W. Bush did for his negligence during Hurricane Katrina.
A FRONTLINE & @NPR investigation found that the federal response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico lagged behind the responses to Harvey and Irma on the U.S. mainland. https://t.co/6R4xZtGCvG pic.twitter.com/3Vt7P5rAQQ
— FRONTLINE (@frontlinepbs) May 30, 2018
Puerto Ricans are American citizens and human beings. Let’s hope they get the resources they need to recover fully.
It took 11 months to restore power to Puerto Rico, but even then, there are still 25 customers without it.
In other news…
- Rantt Media: Space Force: A Serious Article About A Silly Idea
- Rantt Media: Pro-Trump Propaganda Network, Sinclair, Gets Dropped From Merger By Tribune Media
- The Daily Beast: Russia Threatens U.S. Space Program Over Fresh Sanctions
- The Washington Post: Judge halts mother-daughter deportation, threatens to hold Sessions in contempt
- Associated Press: Court orders ban on harmful pesticide, says EPA violated law
Day 568: Friday, August 10
In her new book “Unhinged,” Omarosa Manigault Newman makes some explosive claims about her time in the White House. Omarosa pans President Trump an unhinged “racist, misogynist and bigot.” From claiming she was contacted by the FBI to claims that she was offered hush money payments, this book is full of bombshell claims.
One of the claims receiving a lot of attention (although not confirmed) is that there is a tape of Donald Trump repeatedly saying the word “nigger” while on the set of his NBC show “The Apprentice.”
“It had finally sunk in that the person I’d thought I’d known so well for so long was actually a racist. Using the N-word was not just the way he talks but, more disturbing, it was how he thought of me and African Americans as a whole.”
Omarosa went on to talk about her alleged search for the tape after reports of its existence came at the end of 2016.
“By that point, three sources in three separate conversations had described the contents of this tape. They all told me that President Trump hadn’t just dropped a single n-word bomb. He’d said it multiple times throughout the show’s taping during off-camera outtakes, particularly during the first season of the Apprentice.”
After the “Access Hollywood” tape leaked in 2016, rumors mounted that there is unaired footage on “The Apprentice” of Trump making derogatory statements about women and minorities. Apprentice creator Mark Burnett responded to the 2016 rumors with threats of litigation against anyone who leaked. It’s unclear if the tapes exist or whether or not we’ll ever see them.
Another claim that was made in Omarosa’s book is that she was offered a job and a $15,000 a month hush money payment to keep quiet about her time in the White House. This claim has been corroborated by sources who spoke to The Washington Post:
Omarosa Manigault Newman was offered a $15,000-a-month contract from President Trump’s campaign to stay silent after being fired from her job as a White House aide by Chief of Staff John F. Kelly last December, according to a forthcoming book by Manigault Newman and people familiar with the proposal.
After she was fired, Manigault Newman wrote, she received a call from Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, offering her a job and the monthly contract in exchange for her silence.
The proposed nondisclosure agreement allegedly said Manigault Newman could not make any comments about President Trump or his family; Vice President Pence or his family; or any comments that could damage the president. It said she would do “diversity outreach,” among other things, for the campaign, according to her account.
“The NDA attached to the email was as harsh and restrictive as any I’d seen in all my years of television,” Manigault Newman writes in the book.
Notably, this was using Trump campaign funds. Further bolstering the likelihood of this claim the fact President Trump’s longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller was offered a similar amount from the Republican National Committee after he left the White House. Unlike Omarosa, Schiller took the offer.
It’s also important to note that President Trump has made hush money payments to suppress stories about his alleged affairs with former Playboy model Karen McDougal and pornstar Stormy Daniels. Trump was caught on tape by his former “fixer” Michael Cohen talking about the payments to McDougal.
Speaking of Michael Cohen, there’s a noteworthy excerpt in the book that recalls an alleged meeting between him and the President:
In early 2017, Manigault Newman says she walked Michael Cohen, then Trump’s personal lawyer, into the Oval Office for a meeting with Trump — and saw the president chewing up a piece of paper while Cohen was leaving the office. Another White House official confirmed that Manigault Newman brought Cohen into the White House and was later rebuked for it. The two remain in contact, according to people familiar with the relationship.
“I saw him put a note in his mouth. Since Trump was ever the germaphobe, I was shocked he appeared to be chewing and swallowing the paper. It must have been something very, very sensitive,” she writes in her book.
Although many people have disputed Omarosa’s claims, the author of the The Washington Post report, Josh Dawsey, I linked above claims he heard the tapes:
Some of Omarosa’s claims are entirely unverifiable. But having listened to several of the recordings she made, they match quotations in the book. https://t.co/Qm2JRn3Bf2
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) August 10, 2018
The White House has released a statement slamming Omarosa and her book:
“Instead of telling the truth about all the good President Trump and his administration are doing to make America safe and prosperous, this book is riddled with lies and false accusations. It’s sad that a disgruntled former White House employee is trying to profit off these false attacks, and even worse that the media would now give her a platform, after not taking her seriously when she had only positive things to say about the president during her time in the administration.”
In other news:
- CNN: Mueller request signals Gates may still be cooperating
- Bloomberg: Manafort Virginia Fraud Trial: Day-by-Day Recap at a Glance
- Axios: Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings will start September 4
- The Washington Post: Judge holds Roger Stone associate in contempt for refusing to testify in Russia investigation
- The New York Times: Cables Detail C.I.A. Waterboarding at Secret Prison Run by Gina Haspel
- The New York Times: U.S. Officials Scrambled Behind the Scenes to Shield NATO Deal From Trump
- The New York Times: Tensions Between Turkey and U.S. Soar as Trump Orders New Sanctions
- Des Moines Register: Michael Avenatti in Iowa: ‘I’m exploring a run for the presidency of the United States’
- President Trump continued to wage his culture war.
…..Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2018
Once again, President Trump dares to lecture NFL players on patriotism.
Last month @POTUS stood next to Putin, the man who ordered an attack on our democracy, and sided with him over the US IC and called the US foolish.
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) August 10, 2018