A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 109th Unpresidented Week As POTUS
President Trump’s authoritarian tendencies become the bedrock of his presidency.
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 109.
One week into President Trump’s fake national emergency and it’s clearer than ever there is no emergency on the border, but there is one in the White House.
President Trump ratcheted up the authoritarian rhetoric. Trump called for satire targeting him to face “retribution,” called for the investigators probing him to be imprisoned, accused former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe of “treason” and an “illegal coup” attempt, and attacked the media as the “enemy of the people.”
As the President of the United States verbally assaulted the fourth estate, a radical right-wing terrorist, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, was plotting a deadly attack on journalists and prominent Democrats. After Hasson’s arrest, President Trump tweeted about… Jussie Smollett. In the midst of a stunning 30% surge of hate crimes over the last four years, conservatives like Ann Coulter are now falsely claiming that Smollett’s potentially staged assault is proof that all hate crimes are hoaxes.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported the most comprehensive breakdown of the publicly available evidence of President Trump and House Republicans’ endeavor to obstruct the investigations plaguing the president. The report included a new piece of reporting that alleged then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was asked by Trump if he could re-install a Trump ally to oversee the investigations under the jurisdiction of the Southern District of New York. House Democrats are reportedly probing him for potentially perjuring himself in his testimony last week by denying he was pressured over the ongoing probes into the president. President Trump’s obsession with undermining the investigations plaguing him will likely reach a fever pitch in the coming weeks.
As we await Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, all eyes are on what will surely be a blockbuster week ahead. President Trump is in Vietnam for his second summit with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un – which will likely be just as self-defeating as the first one. And this coming Wednesday, the same day of the summit, Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen is appearing before the House Oversight Committee.
Before we start another major week, let’s look back at the one we left behind.
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, which you can subscribe to:
Day 760: Monday, February 18
Republican administrations have vastly more corruption than Democratic administrations. We provide new research on the numbers to make the case.
We compared 28 years each of Democratic and Republican administrations, 1961-2016, five Presidents from each party. During that period Republicans scored eighteen times more individuals and entities indicted, thirty-eight times more convictions, and thirty-nine times more individuals who had prison time.
Over the last 6 decades, Republican administrations have been significantly more corrupt than Democratic administrations.
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) February 18, 2019
In other news…
- The New York Times: Rift Between Trump and Europe Is Now Open and Angry
- President Trump had quite the 24 hours of tweeting.
Trump tweets, last 24 hrs:
1. My deputy attorney general is a criminal
2. I’m being targeted by an “illegal coup”
3. The people investigating me should be jailed
4. Television networks that air jokes about Republicans should face “retribution”
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 18, 2019
Undermining the DOJ.
A fake national emergency.
Calls to jail political opponents.
This is dangerous and un-American.https://t.co/2RCEgKGEtg
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) February 18, 2019
- Former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s 60 Minutes interview made waves.
“I don’t care. I believe Putin,” Pres Trump allegedly said, rejecting U.S. intelligence regarding North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile capability. McCabe says he heard this from an FBI official who was at the meeting with POTUS. https://t.co/9zmoxrYNjm pic.twitter.com/lo0g9VOMAG
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) February 18, 2019
- Reuters: Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to step down in March: official
- The New York Times: Heather Nauert Withdraws From Consideration as U.N. Ambassador
President Trump’s Endeavour To Obstruct Justice
Day 761: Tuesday, February 19
Tuesday’s top stories:
1. The case for obstruction of justice: Over the last two years, the American people have watched as President Trump and House Republicans publicly and brazenly attempted to obstruct Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s attack on US democracy. Today, The New York Times published a must-read report that laid out the sequence of events in the most detailed manner we’ve seen thus far. In the piece, they also included new details that reveal President Trump’s early obsession with who would run the Southern District of New York’s attorney’s office didn’t end. Here are the key highlights from the report:
- Whitaker revelation: President Trump reportedly called then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and tried to see if he could get Trump ally Geoffrey S. Berman to be placed at the head of the Southern District of New York’s (SDNY) investigation into Trump. Berman had already recused himself. Even Fox News’ legal analyst Judge Napolitano said that this request appears to be “an attempt to obstruct justice” and demonstrates “corrupt intent.” This is important because one of President Trump’s first moves as POTUS was to fire then-SDNY prosecutor Preet Bharara after he denied Trump’s attempts to befriend him. The SDNY’s probe into Michael Cohen and Trump’s hush money payments, as well as New York’s other probes into the Trump Organization and Inaugural Committee, have now become some of Trump’s chief legal worries. House Democrats are reportedly looking into whether Whitaker committed perjury by telling the House Judiciary Committee he was never pressured over investigations concerning the president.
- A chronological look at obstruction: The New York Times outlined the last two years of obstructive moves on the part of President Trump and his allies. From Trump’s efforts to end the FBI’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, his firing of FBI Director James Comey, his efforts to fire Mueller, to his attacks on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it’s all covered. The piece also discusses the conduct of Trump’s allies in the House who helped Trump take his assault on the rule of law to the next level. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) were especially key congressional allies in the President’s perpetuation of endless conspiracy theories that were subsequently debunked. The Times also made a potentially damning mention of Trump’s TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani coordinating with Paul Manafort’s lawyer and discussions of a potential pardon.
- More than 1,100 attacks on the Russia investigation: The New York Times counted up the number of times President Trump has publicly attacked the Russia investigation and the total was staggering.
Whether or not you are a supporter of President Trump or, in spite of all the mounting evidence believe he has committed no crimes, it is indisputable that he has conducted himself like a guilty man.
2. 16 states sue Trump over national emergency: The legal challenges to President Trump’s fake national emergency are already mounting. The 16 states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Virginia.
3. House probes Trump administration’s Saudi Arabia dealings: The House Oversight Committee released a report in their probe of the Trump administration’s efforts to help Saudi Arabia build nuclear power plants for their financial benefit. The New York Times reported:
The report is the most detailed portrait to date of how senior White House figures — including Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser — worked with retired military officers to circumvent the normal policymaking process to promote an export plan that experts worried could spread nuclear weapons technology in the volatile Middle East. Administration lawyers warned that the nuclear exports plan — called the Middle East Marshall Plan — could violate laws meant to stop nuclear proliferation and raised concerns about Mr. Flynn’s conflicts of interest.
4. Administration corruption: Politico reported that emails revealed coordination between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) office and his wife Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. And according to NBC News, “House and Senate Democrats say they have obtained evidence that a senior official at the Department of Education tried to oust the department’s independent watchdog after she pushed back on an attempt to interfere in an active investigation of Secretary Betsy DeVos.”
5. Bernie Sanders running: Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has announced he is running for president in 2020.
In other news…
- NBC News: McCabe told Congress ‘Gang of 8’ leaders about FBI probe into Trump. They had no objection.
- Reuters: U.S. agency to cancel $929 million in California high-speed rail funds
- CNBC: Federal ethics agency refuses to certify financial disclosure from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
Day 762: Wednesday, February 20
Wednesday’s top stories:
1. Mueller report coming as soon: Today, multiple news organizations reported that newly confirmed Attorney General William Barr will announce as soon as next week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is coming to an end. Mueller will then submit a confidential report to the Attorney General and Barr will reportedly release a “summary” of the findings to Congress, which might take some time to compile. This will likely cause a potential subpoena fight on the part of the Democratic House, who will demand the report is released in full. Later on in the week, it was reported that it might not come for a few more weeks. But more on that later. We already have a lot of publicly available evidence about a potential conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government and the case for obstruction of justice on the part of President Trump, but the Mueller report will likely yield us new revelations.
2. Domestic terrorist plot thwarted: In a court filing, prosecutors allege that U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson was arrested Friday for stockpiling weapons and plotting an attack on Democrats and prominent journalists. Hasson was accused of having ties to white supremacists and espousing neo-Nazi views. The court filing labeled him as a domestic terrorist and the opening line began to detail the startling plot: “The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.” This news came after President Trump called The New York Times the “enemy of the people” on Twitter.
3. Jussie Smollett fraud: After capturing the nation’s attention with the story of his alleged attack where he was beaten and called racial and homophobic slurs by Trump supporters, it turns out Smollett may have staged the entire attack. Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report to the Chicago Police Department. Smollett allegedly hired two actors to stage the attack.
4. Putin ratchets up the rhetoric: Emboldened by President Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a grave threat. NBC News reported: “Russia will respond to any American deployment of short or intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe by targeting not only the countries where they are stationed, but the U.S. itself, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.” This came after the Trump administration’s weakening of western alliances was at the center of conversations during the Munich Security Conference.
5. Michael Cohen postponed: President Trump’s personal fixer Michael Cohen’s jail sentence has been postponed until May and he’s been scheduled for a February 27th public testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee. Needless to say, the next few weeks will be very interesting.
In other news…
- Politico: ‘Sustained and ongoing’ disinformation assault targets Dem presidential candidates
- The New York Times: Justice Clarence Thomas Calls for Reconsideration of Landmark Libel Ruling
- The Washington Post: White House prepares to scrutinize intelligence agencies’ finding that climate change threatens national security
- BuzzFeed News: A Former Trump Staffer Filed A Class Action To Invalidate All Of The Campaign’s Nondisclosure Agreements
- CNN: White House braces for shakeup after Trump privately complains about Coats
- Rantt Media: Cory Booker: Here’s What You Need To Know About Him Before 2020
The Dangers Of Trump’s Radicalizing Rhetoric
Day 763: Thursday, February 21
Thursday’s top stories:
1. Jussie Smollett’s arrest overshadows coverage of a neo-Nazi domestic terrorist: As Jussie Smollett was arrested for allegedly filing a false police report about being attacked by Trump supporters in Chicago, the news of the stunning thwarted terrorist attack was seemingly overshadowed. President Trump chose not to remark on the news of the arrest of alleged neo-Nazi and US Coast Guard Lt., Christopher Paul Hasson, who was planning a deadly attack on prominent Democrats and members of the media. Trump did, however, choose to tweet about Jussie Smollett.
And as we saw, the media seemed to take the same cue, as many of the online publications strived for clicks rather than weighing coverage on the importance of the events at hand.
I really wish it weren’t so easy to predict that legacy media would screw this up. https://t.co/vdihNjE7XZ
— Adam (@aalali44) February 21, 2019
I wrote about the Jussie Smollett case for The Independent and spoke about how although it does do a disservice to victims of real hate crimes, it doesn’t diminish their stories, nor does it detract from the surges in radical right-wing terrorism around the U.S. The piece makes sure to cover the bigger story of the neo-Nazi terrorist plot.
2. House resolution to block Trump’s national emergency declaration: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that the House will be voting on a resolution to block President Trump’s national emergency declaration. Democrats have slammed the declaration as an abuse of power intended to solve a manufactured crisis with an unnecessary wall. The resolution will surely pass the Democratically-controlled House since it only needs a simple majority to pass. It’s unclear if it will pass the Senate, but if it does, the White House has signaled President Trump will veto it. The courts will likely be where this emergency declaration is held up.
3. New NC-09 election: After a long inquiry into the election fraud in North Carolina’s 9th district, officials have ordered a new election between Republican candidate Mark Harris and Democratic candidate Dan McCready. Harris had led McCready by 900 votes but the evidence that Harris’ campaign financed illegal get out the vote efforts including forging absentee ballots has shrouded the election in illegitimacy. Looks like the voters of the 9th district will have another chance to decide their fate.
4. Roger Stone in court: After posting a photo of Judge Amy Berman Jackson with crosshairs above her head on social media, Stone was summoned back into court today. Stone was restricted from speaking publicly about the case or its participants. Judge Jackson was stern:
“I have serious doubts about whether you learned anything at all. From this moment on, the defendant may not speak publicly about this case — period. No statements about the case on TV, radio, print reporters, or Internet. No posts on social media. [You] may not comment on the case through surrogates. You may send out emails about donating to the Roger Stone defense fund.”
She continued, “This is not baseball. There will be no third chance. If you cannot abide by this, I will be forced to change your surroundings so you have no temptations.”
5. Pope summit on sexual abuse: At the Vatican, Pope Francis led a summit about the systemic child sex abuse that has plagued the Catholic church for decades. It was a historic first of its kind.
In other news…
- The Daily Beast: Trump White House Is Forcing Interns to Sign NDAs and Threatening Them With Financial Ruin
- Reuters: Former Trump campaign chief Manafort to be sentenced March 8
- CNN: Senate investigators pursue Moscow-based former Trump associate
Day 764: Friday, February 22
On Friday, we learned some new details about what Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen has been relaying to federal investigators. The New York Times reported:
Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, met last month with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, offering information about possible irregularities within the president’s family business and about a donor to the inaugural committee, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Cohen, who worked at the Trump Organization for a decade, spoke with the prosecutors about insurance claims the company had filed over the years, said the people, who did not elaborate on the nature of the possible irregularities.
While it was not clear whether the prosecutors found Mr. Cohen’s information credible and whether they intended to pursue it, the meeting suggests that they are interested in broader aspects of the Trump Organization, beyond their investigation into the company’s role in the hush money payments made before the 2016 election to women claiming to have had affairs with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty last summer to arranging those payments.
In the other news…
- NBC News: No Mueller report next week, says Justice Department official
- CNN: Five takeaways from Manafort’s sentencing memo
- The Washington Post: For the second time in two days, a building called Trump Place decides to take down the president’s name
- Rantt Media: CNN Puts Profit And Conservative Appeasement Over Journalism By Hiring GOP Operative
- Rantt Media: Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Elizabeth Warren
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. But the only way to truly have a media for the people is for media to be funded by the people. 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 a monthly subscription.