A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 96th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

It’s been months since Madeleine Albright’s warning about President Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and, needless to say, she was right.

Donald Trump waves as he leaves a campaign rally, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in Altoona, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump waves as he leaves a campaign rally, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in Altoona, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump’s first major typo after winning the election was spelling Unprecedented incorrectly. He infamously tweeted “Unpresidented.” This typo is a personification 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 96.

“As [Mussolini] was consolidating his power, he said, ‘if you pluck a chicken one feather at a time, nobody notices.’ And so, I have been concerned about the feather-plucking that is going on in the United States…I think [Trump] is the least democratic president that I’ve observed.” — The first female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright discussing her new book “Fascism: A Warning” on Pod Save The World (April 2018)

Madeleine Albright fled Czechoslovakia with her parents in March 1939, just ten days after the Nazis invaded. When it comes to warnings of America’s possible drift into authoritarianism, there are few people whose word has more credulity.

Albright’s warning is worth reiterating because President Trump has plucked countless feathers since the release of her book. All the while, the American public (especially the mainstream media) is having a hard time not growing desensitized to these authoritarian tendencies.

Another feather was plucked when it was revealed President Trump tried to order the Justice Department to prosecute former FBI Director James Comey and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a move legal analysts have deemed a blatantly unconstitutional attempt to jail political opponents.

Another feather was plucked when President Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Matthew Whitaker, a sycophant who has criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and wrote an op-ed claiming he would prosecute Hillary Clinton.

Another feather was plucked when the Trump administration tried to ban CNN’s Jim Acosta from the White House using doctored footage, in a move echoing Soviet-style disinformation.

Another feather was plucked when President Trump defended Saudi Arabia in their murder of Jamal Khashoggi, sending a message to dictators around the world that they can get away with murder if they pay the President.

And by the end of this weekend, yet another feather was plucked. While families across America were wrapping up their Thanksgiving weekend festivities, there were images of families at the US-Mexico border being tear gassed by US border patrol – a crisis Trump himself manufactured.

What’s driving this unhinged behavior? Donald Trump is a paranoid President plagued by multiple federal investigations, scandals, and a majority of the electorate who is rejecting the white nationalism he and the Republican Party espouse.

It’s worth noting Albright’s feather plucking warning was given the very same month Trump’s personal fixer Michael Cohen’s home was raided by the FBI, which eventually led to President Trump becoming an unindicted co-conspirator in two campaign finance felonies.

As Robert Mueller’s next move looms, expect things to go a little more off the rails before they get back on the tracks of sanity.

But have hope that they will if we, as citizens, stay vigilant

Let’s dive in.

Day 669: Monday, November 19

But Her Emails

Ivanka Trump and her father President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House—Monday, April 24, 2017 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Ivanka Trump and her father President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House—Monday, April 24, 2017 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

After enduring the 2016 election in which Donald Trump campaigned against Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, often leading “lock her up!” chants, Monday’s news was the height of hypocrisy.

The Washington Post reported:

Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules, according to people familiar with a White House examination of her correspondence.

White House ethics officials learned of Trump’s repeated use of personal email when reviewing emails gathered last fall by five Cabinet agencies to respond to a public records lawsuit. That review revealed that throughout much of 2017, she often discussed or relayed official White House business using a private email account with a domain that she shares with her husband, Jared Kushner.

The discovery alarmed some advisers to President Trump, who feared that his daughter’s prac­tices bore similarities to the personal email use of Hillary Clinton, an issue he made a focus of his 2016 campaign. He attacked his Democratic challenger as untrustworthy and dubbed her “Crooked Hillary” for using a personal email account as secretary of state.

Unless she was asleep for a significant portion of her father’s campaign, Ivanka’s excuse that she wasn’t familiar with the rules is far-fetched, to say the least.

This isn’t the first hypocritical breach of security on the part of the Trump administration. President Trump himself has reportedly had his personal iPhone calls spied on by Russia and China. It’s truly something given the fact Clinton’s email server was never hacked, and it was just the potential for a breach that was at issue. And here, we have Trump’s calls literally being spied on and the story barely made waves.

Another throwback…

Like most people who remember their coverage of the October 2016 Comey letter, the Rantt team was waiting to see how The New York Times would cover this.

Instead, we got more of the same.

In other news…

Day 670: Tuesday, November 20

“Blatantly Unconstitutional”

James Comey, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton (AP)

James Comey, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton (AP)

The Lede: Moving to prosecute political opponents, appointing a sycophant to the highest law enforcement position in government, and efforts to shut down an investigation that involves your own potential wrongdoing—this is behavior usually relegated to authoritarian regimes. The kind of regimes that would kill journalists like Jamal Khashoggi. This is neither hyperbole nor is it a description of a country in the east. This is Donald Trump’s America in 2018.

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that President Trump’s intention to prosecute former FBI Director James Comey and his former political opponent Hillary Clinton went beyond rhetoric:

President Trump told the White House counsel in the spring that he wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute two of his political adversaries: his 2016 challenger, Hillary Clinton, and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

The lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, rebuffed the president, saying that he had no authority to order a prosecution. Mr. McGahn said that while he could request an investigation, that too could prompt accusations of abuse of power. To underscore his point, Mr. McGahn had White House lawyers write a memo for Mr. Trump warning that if he asked law enforcement to investigate his rivals, he could face a range of consequences, including possible impeachment.

The wording here is key. It does not say Trump requested to order an “investigation.” It says he sought to order outright “prosecution.” The article went on to reveal that not only did Trump attempt to make this request of McGahn (who immortalized the affair in memos and is a witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe), he continued to privately discuss it and mused about appointing a second special counsel to probe Comey and Clinton. And last year, Trump’s lawyers asked the Justice Department to investigate Comey’s role in the Clinton investigation (Comey is also a witness in Mueller’s obstruction probe). Important to note here that neither has been credibly accused of any crimes whatsoever.

Legal analysts like MSNBC’s Ari Melber framed the significance of this development.

On MSNBC, Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks said that Trump’s request itself opens him up to impeachment. Judging by the fact the second Article of Impeachment against Richard Nixon was for Abuse of Power, her opinion here should be noted.

Shortly after this story broke, CNN reported a similar story (which The New York Times later confirmed):

President Donald Trump on multiple occasions raised with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Matt Whitaker, who was then-chief of staff to Jeff Sessions, whether the Justice Department was progressing in investigating Hillary Clinton, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Whitaker is now the acting Attorney General and wrote an op-ed claiming he would prosecute Clinton, has called for it on many occasions, and has been critical of Mueller’s probe. It appears President Trump appointed someone who would not only suppress the Mueller investigation but would prosecute his political opponents.

Needless to say, this fits within a pattern of behavior on the part of President Trump and surely helps to further build corrupt intent in Mueller’s obstruction probe.

The Context: President Trump’s eagerness to imprison his political opponents has been no secret. Trump told Hillary Clinton on the debate stage that she’d be in jail if he won the election and openly tweeted about the need to jail both Clinton and Comey throughout his presidency. And now, we have reports that appear to confirm he is eager to act on those autocratic impulses.

And when it comes to obstruction of justice, President Trump has been trying to undermine the Russia probe, that he is a subject of, from the day he took office. There is a long timeline of Trump’s obstructive moves. To name a few, Trump fired Comey and then admitted it was because of the Russia investigation, tried to fire Mueller on multiple occasions, tried to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to un-recuse himself from the Russia probe and then fired him. Trump’s paranoia over Mueller’s investigation has been depicted in multiple reports in recent weeks, and publicly documented in his tweets.

Trump’s Republican allies in the House and conservative media have also moved to undermine the Russia investigation. This effort has extended into efforts to discredit the DOJ, FBI, and the U.S. Intelligence Community as a whole.

President Trump is also plagued by multiple other federal investigations. Here’s a list of them:

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference, potential conspiracy with the Trump campaign, and obstruction.
  • The Southern District of New York’s investigation into Trump’s former lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen  (which Rosenstein and Mueller sparked by passing their findings over to them, leading to Trump becoming an unindicted co-conspirator in illegal hush money payments)
  • The Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into the Trump Organization
  • The New York Attorney General’s investigation into the Trump Foundation
  • Emoluments clause lawsuits
  • Summer Zervos’ lawsuit

The Analysis: In order to be guilty of obstruction of justice, one doesn’t have to successfully obstruct an investigation. The law clearly states that anyone who “endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be (guilty of an offense).”

Today’s reports take on a new meaning because it is being published in a post-midterm reality. The Democratically controlled House of Representatives will soon have the power to actually act on this. The House Judiciary Committee is responsible for starting the impeachment process, but that likely wouldn’t occur until Mueller’s reports are finalized. But needless to say, they have numerous leads to follow. And soon-to-be House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) will have his hands full.

One final note: if this is what we know publicly, imagine what Robert Mueller knows.

In other news…

Day 671: Wednesday, November 21

A Foolish Feud

Chief Justice John Roberts (© WikiMedia/Steve Petteway)

Chief Justice John Roberts (© WikiMedia/Steve Petteway)

On Wednesday, President Trump continued his attacks on U.S. institutions. This time, targeting his ire at the Chief Justice who will have to make a key decision about his legal liability.

The Associated Press reported:

President Donald Trump and Chief Justice John Roberts clashed Wednesday in an extraordinary public dispute over the independence of America’s judiciary, with Roberts bluntly rebuking the president for denouncing a judge who rejected his migrant asylum policy as an “Obama judge.”

There’s no such thing, Roberts declared in a strongly worded statement contradicting Trump and defending judicial independence. Never silent for long, Trump defended his own comment, tweeting defiantly, “Sorry Justice Roberts.”

Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley chimed in.

In summary, President Trump appears to be making an effort to delegitimize the highest court in the land so that when unfavorable rulings come down against his administration, he can tell his base they’re simply biased against him. Or, it’s just another ego-fueled clapback at someone who criticized him. It could be both. In any case, it could have dire consequences for him.

In other news…

Day 672: Thursday, November 22

Thanksgiving

President Donald Trump pardons Drumstick during the National Thanksgiving Turkey pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump pardons Drumstick during the National Thanksgiving Turkey pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Thanksgiving was a slow news day but President Trump never fails to make headlines. Trump continued his attacks on the judiciary.

A must read thread:

In other news…

Day 673: Friday, November 23

Climate Change Disaster

Newly arrived Somali refugees wait outside a UNHCR processing center at the Ifo refugee camp outside Dadaab, eastern Kenya, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Somali border. Human-induced climate change contributed to low rain levels in East Africa in 2011, making global warming one of the causes of Somalia’s famine and the tens of thousands of deaths that followed, a new study has found — Aug. 5, 2011 (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Newly arrived Somali refugees wait outside a UNHCR processing center at the Ifo refugee camp outside Dadaab, eastern Kenya, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Somali border. Human-induced climate change contributed to low rain levels in East Africa in 2011, making global warming one of the causes of Somalia’s famine and the tens of thousands of deaths that followed, a new study has found — Aug. 5, 2011 (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

On Black Friday, the Trump administration released a report that further corroborated the existing and incoming challenges climate change will pose. The Washington Post reported:

The federal government on Friday released a long-awaited report with an unmistakable message: The effects of climate change, including deadly wildfires, increasingly debilitating hurricanes and heat waves, are already battering the United States, and the danger of more such catastrophes is worsening.

The report’s authors, who represent numerous federal agencies, say they are more certain than ever that climate change poses a severe threat to Americans’ health and pocketbooks, as well as to the country’s infrastructure and natural resources. And while it avoids policy recommendations, the report’s sense of urgency and alarm stands in stark contrast to the lack of any apparent plan from President Trump to tackle the problems, which, according to the government he runs, are increasingly dire.

The congressionally mandated document — the first of its kind issued during the Trump administration — details how climate-fueled disasters and other types of worrisome changes are becoming more commonplace throughout the country and how much worse they could become in the absence of efforts to combat global warming.

For some of the highlights of this report, read this excellent thread from Rantt Contributor Kaz Weida.

In other news…

Day 674-675: Saturday-Sunday, November 24-25

Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi appeared at a news conference at the state Republican Party headquarters in Jackson, Miss., on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 (AP Photo/Emily Wagster Pettus)

Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi appeared at a news conference at the state Republican Party headquarters in Jackson, Miss., on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 (AP Photo/Emily Wagster Pettus)

Things were relatively quiet over the weekend until the SF Giants owner and Major League Baseball’s donations to Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith were revealed. Rantt Contributor Nancy Levine wrote an excellent article on the topic ahead of Hyde-Smith’s runoff election against Democrat Mike Espy on Tuesday:

Rantt Editor Matthew Reyna was on the ground in Mississippi and was unable to get a comment from Cindy Hyde-Smith.

In some heartwrenching news, as migrants approached the border on Sunday, US border patrol agents fired tear gas at them.

In other news…

  • Per usual, the Trump administration lied about their family separation policy.

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Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Government / News