A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 110th Unpresidented Week As POTUS
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 110.
This was one of the worst weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency – on multiple fronts. While Michael Cohen laid out President Trump’s lifetime of corruption backed by documentary evidence, President Trump was an international embarrassment in Vietnam. By the weekend, the President of the United States was on the CPAC stage, literally spouting out “bullshit” and showcasing how the pressure of the presidency is weighing down on him.
Michael Cohen, who was not only a Trump Organization executive but the RNC’s Deputy Finance Chairman, delivered historic testimony. The personal fixer that once said he would take a bullet for Donald Trump has now become one of the biggest threats to his presidency. Cohen’s testimony laid the grounds for several Democratic inquiries in the House, and also shed some light on President Trump’s potential exposure in the Southern District of New York. And Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report is still incoming. All the while, Republicans showed their sycophancy knows no bounds as they bent over backwards to protect a president who has already been implicated in two felonies.
President Trump’s capitulation to dictators is nothing new. First, he took the word of Russian President Vladimir when he claimed he didn’t attack American democracy. Then, he took the word of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he denied involvement in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. And by saying he takes North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un’s word that he didn’t know about Otto Warmbier’s death-causing captivity, President Trump, once again, took the word of an autocrat over the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Meanwhile, the Democratically-controlled House is showing their voters why they were elected. They’ve begun investigations into President Trump’s cruel policies, potential tax evasion, fraudulent business practices, and have also relaunched the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation. They passed new common-sense gun control measures and a resolution that would block Trump’s national emergency. That resolution is likely to pass the Senate with some Republican support, but after President Trump vetoes, it remains to be seen if Senate Republicans will grow the spine they’ve been lacking for the last two years to override it.
If unprecedented corruption, indecency, and a lack of global leadership weren’t enough to sway an undecided 2020 voter away from Trump, look no further than the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The conspiratorial nonsense that was spewed from the stage this week should concern every American. Conservatives like Vice President Mike Pence, Donald Trump Jr., Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens, and Sebastian Gorka took the stage and spread fear-mongering lies that panned Democrats as “cow” and “baby killers.” One of the speakers even condemned the “ghost of John McCain.” But President Trump’s fear-mongering, bigoted, rambling, unhinged, lie-laden speech was by far the most startling moment of the conference.
What we saw at Cohen’s hearing, in Vietnam, and CPAC are examples of why we do what we do here at Rantt Media. We aim to leave no piece of dangerous disinformation unaddressed.
So let’s dive into yet another Unpresidented week.
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:
The End Of The Beginning
Day 767: Monday, February 25
1. President Trump is preparing for a perilous legal road ahead: The Daily Beast reported that President Trump is well aware of the fact that after Special Counsel Robert Mueller ends his investigation and submits his report, the battle is just beginning. Trump reportedly told his lawyers late last year that he would like them to stay on even after Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference and Trump’s potential obstruction of justice ends. President Trump’s most immediate concern was reportedly the Southern District of New York’s (SDNY) investigations. This makes sense given the fact President Trump has taken a great interest in who would lead the SDNY in the earliest days of his administration. Trump reportedly also asked then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to re-install a Trump ally to lead the office. The Wall Street Journal just reported tonight that the House Judiciary Committee believes they have evidence indicating that was indeed the case.
The SDNY led the investigation which uncovered Michael Cohen’s hush money payments on behalf of Trump that garnered a prison sentence for Cohen and an unindicted co-conspirator status for Trump. The SDNY is also probing the Trump Inaugural Committee to determine whether or not Russian oligarchs or other foreign entities illegally funneled money into the committee. There is also the emoluments probe investigating Trump International Hotel. And last, but certainly not least, the Democratically-controlled House Committees are going to use Mueller’s report as a roadmap for their investigations and run their own in a manner that will not be restricted by the Justice Department. The House plans on leaving no stone unturned, diving into Trump’s lifetime of corruption. What the result will be is unknown, but what we do know is they have plenty of material to work with already if their plan is to draft Articles of Impeachment in the House Judiciary Committee.
2. “When you’re a star, they let you do it”: President Trump has another sexual misconduct allegation to add to his over a dozen allegations. Former 2016 Trump Campaign Staffer Alva Johnson has filed a lawsuit alleging “racial and gender discrimination” and that Trump kissed her without her consent. This allegation fits within a pattern of behavior for Donald Trump, who infamously bragged about sexually assaulting women in the “Access Hollywood” tape.
3. Trump-Kim 2.0: President Trump was on his way to Vietnam for his Wednesday summit with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un. Trump isn’t expected to get any major concessions from the despot, but by legitimizing him with another meeting, Trump is feeding the Kim regime even more propaganda.
4. Journalists detained in Venezuela: Univision Anchor Jorge Ramos and his TV crew were detained by the Venezuelan authoritarian leader Nicholas Maduro. In the middle of Ramos’ interview with Maduro, their phones were reportedly taken away they were detained. He has since been released.
5. Shakeup in Iran: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who was one of the key people who helped craft the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, spontaneously resigned.
In other news…
- Politico: 58 ex-national security officials to denounce Trump’s emergency declaration
- The New York Times: U.S. and Taliban Begin Highest-Level Talks Yet on Ending Afghan War
- The New York Times: Trump Announces Fourth of July ‘Salute to America’ at the Lincoln Memorial
Day 768: Tuesday, February 26
1. Michael Cohen takes center stage: President Tump’s former fixer Michael Cohen was set to deliver his long-awaited testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Numerous news organizations indicated that Michael Cohen (also former RNC Deputy Finance Chairman and Trump Organization Executive) was going to talk about President Trump’s poor character, racist remarks, and alleged criminal conduct. The Wall Street Journal reported that Michael Cohen is prepared to show a check signed by Donald Trump, while he was president, reimbursing him for the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. If this occurs, it will spark a nationwide conversation as to whether President Trump should be impeached for that alleged illegal activity.
On Tuesday, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) sent out a later deleted tweet that many are claiming is blatant witness tampering: “Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…”
Cohen also testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Near the end of the hearing, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) walked out and told reporters: “Two years ago when this investigation started, I said it may be the most important thing I’m involved in my public life in the Senate. Nothing I heard from today dissuades me from that view.”
Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) chairs the House Oversight committee. With freshman representatives like Vice Chair Katie Hill (D-CA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) also on the committee, fireworks were expected.
2. The House passed a resolution to block Trump’s national emergency: On Tuesday, in a 245 to 182 vote, the House has passed a resolution that would overturn President Trump’s national emergency declaration. 13 House Republicans voted with the Democratic majority to pass the resolution. It now goes to the Senate, where it only needs a simple majority to make it to President Trump’s desk. Trump has signaled he would veto it. The national emergency declaration has been widely panned as an abuse of power to resolve a manufactured crisis at the border.
3. Systemic migrant abuse: Documents provided to Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) revealed some startling conduct. NBC News reported:
Thousands of allegations that migrant children in U.S. custody were subjected to sexual abuse, harassment or inappropriate sexual conduct were reported over a four-year span to the government agency tasked with overseeing their care, according to documents released Tuesday by a Democratic lawmaker.
The documents, provided by the office of Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, show more than 4,550 allegations were reported to the Office of Refugee Resettlement between fiscal years 2015 and 2018. That agency, which prepared the documents, oversees the care of unaccompanied and separated migrant children and is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
In related news, the House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed the Trump administration over their migrant child separation policy.
4. North Carolina 9 update: Republican Mark Harris, who has been at the center of the election fraud investigation, will not run in the new election that has been called for.
5. Midterms interference operation thwarted: The U.S. Military took the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm that sought to undermine American democracy during the 2016 election, offline on the day of the midterms.
In other news…
- NPR: Manafort Seeks Leniency In Sentencing
- The Wall Street Journal: House Investigators Probe Trump Contact With Matthew Whitaker
- CNN: Federal court again rejects challenge to Mueller’s legitimacy
- The Wall Street Journal: Whitaker Agrees to Request to Return to House to Clarify Testimony
- The Associated Press: Trump says Danny Burch, American held captive in Yemen, has been freed
- Reuters: Judge gives green light to Donald Trump’s ban on gun ‘bump stocks’
The Cohen Hearing
Day 769: Wednesday, February 27
Wednesday was a historic day. President Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen testified for hours in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, alleging that he witnessed years of corruption, criminal activity, racism, and depravity from Donald Trump. Cohen reinforced his allegations with documentary evidence including a reimbursement check Trump signed as president. He testified that Trump was aware of incoming Wikileaks drops and that the Southern District of New York (SDNY) is investigating other potential Trump crimes. He provided more details of the Trump Foundation’s self-dealing, claimed that Trump inflated assets to insurance companies and banks, and testified to other financial fraud at the Trump Organization. House Republicans attempted to undermine Michael Cohen’s credibility by pointing out he has admitted to lying to Congress, but they did not address the compelling documentary evidence Cohen presented.
You can examine all the evidence Cohen submitted to the Oversight Committee here, read his opening statement here, read a thread of the key quotes here, or watch the full hearing for yourself here. But, you should probably stick around to read about the top 8 most important moments from the hearing concisely outlined in our in-depth analysis here:
From his self-dealing “charity” to fraudulent behavior in business, Trump’s career is defined by corruption.
And it didn’t stop when he took office. https://t.co/blPjgTYKqW
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) February 28, 2019
At the end of the #CohenHearing, Elijah Cummings gave an impactful speech:
“As a country, we are so much better than this… When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked: In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?”pic.twitter.com/rFqEtxo75W
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) February 27, 2019
In other news…
- Reuters Exclusive: House panel seeks to depose Trump tax, ethics attorneys
- The Washington Post: Trump’s bid for history in Hanoi is overwhelmed by Michael Cohen’s spectacle in Washington
- The Washington Post: White House bans four journalists from covering Trump-Kim dinner because of shouted questions
- BuzzFeed News: House Passes Landmark Gun Control Bills To Expand Background Checks, But Trump Has Vowed To Veto Them
- The Daily Beast: Pence’s Incoming Chief of Staff, Marc Short, Disparaged People Living With AIDS for ‘Repugnant’ Gay Sex in College Column
Day 770: Thursday, February 28
1. Trump-Kim Summit 2: This week, President Trump was in Hanoi, Vietnam desperate for a foreign policy victory while his former fixer Michael Cohen testified to alleged crimes he committed. What Trump got, however, was far from a victory. Rantt Media’s Foreign Policy Editor Jossif Ezekilov wrote an analysis of the summit:
Trump…appeared to be less keen on demands for full denuclearization, the baseline outcome the US and its allies have demanded from North Korea. He also cast doubt on whether North Korea is indeed expanding its nuclear arsenal, something US intelligence agencies have maintained is happening despite the summit in Singapore last year. Lastly, he stated, incredulously, that he believed Mr. Kim’s assertion that he had nothing to do with the death of Otto Warmbier – an American who was fatally tortured while in North Korean custody – despite the fact that a US court held the North Korean government liable for his death.
Both Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo maintained this was not the end of talks, that both sides are still amicable, and that both sides would regroup and come back to the table soon.
The North Korean government apparently didn’t get that memo. In a briefing late last night North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong-ho contradicted Trump’s account, saying North Korea had requested only partial sanctions relief for a complete dismantling of Yongbyon with verification by American officials. He also did not reiterate the Trump camp’s optimism on further talks, saying “This kind of opportunity may never come again.”
2. Reckless nepotism in action: On Thursday, The New York Times reported that President Trump ordered then-Chief of Staff John Kelly to grant Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner a security clearance despite the concerns of Trump’s top lawyer Don McGahn and the CIA. Kushner had several problematic conflicts of interest due to his ties to foreign nationals. This runs contrary to what Ivanka Trump previously stated in an interview with ABC News: “The president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband’s clearance, zero.”
3. Michael Cohen’s bread crumbs: On Thursday, Michael Cohen testified before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-door hearing. In his public testimony on Wednesday, Cohen alleged a series of crimes committed by Donald Trump, including bank fraud and tax evasion at the Trump Organization. House investigators are following the bread crumbs laid out by Cohen and are now calling on Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. The House Oversight Committee is seeking testimony from Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump. Michael Cohen will return to testify before House Intel on March 6th, and Russian mob-connected Trump associate Felix Sater will testify before the committee on March 14.
4. Trump Inaugural Committee subpoenaed again: As we know, the Trump Inaugural Committee is being probed by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and New Jersey to determine whether or not Russian oligarchs or other foreign entities illegally funneled money into the committee. Now, the Attorney General for D.C. has also subpoenaed the Trump Inaugural Committee in a similar probe.
5. Netanyahu to be charged: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to be indicted. NBC News reported:
Israel’s attorney general announced Thursday that his office plans to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges after a two-year investigation.
The prime minister faces one count of bribery and three counts of breach of trust.
“The Attorney General, Avihai Mandelblit, has informed the Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, through his attorney, that he is considering indicting him on several criminal charges,” according to a statement by Ministry of Justice spokesman Adi Livni.
In other news…
- BuzzFeed News: Roger Stone Says Michael Cohen Is Lying, After Stone Was Ordered Not To Comment On The Mueller Investigation
- The New York Times: Under Peace Plan, U.S. Military Would Exit Afghanistan Within Five Years
- The Washington Post: Andrew Wheeler, former energy lobbyist, confirmed as nation’s top environmental official
The Red Line
Day 771: Friday, March 1
1. House Democrats seeking Trump’s tax returns: President Trump has long said that if Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigated his finances, it would cross a “red line.” Well, it appears that House Democrats are gearing up to do just that. NBC News reported that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) has instructed the committee’s attorneys to prepare a request to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for President Trump’s tax returns. The request could be sent in the next few weeks and is reportedly seeking 10 years of Trump’s personal tax returns in order to determine if any tax fraud took place. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office released a statement on Friday that claimed the House “has legitimate legislative, oversight and legal reasons to review the President’s tax returns… We will take all necessary steps, including litigation, if necessary, to obtain them.”
There has already been some reporting on Donald Trump’s alleged history of tax fraud. In a bombshell report this past October, The New York Times reported that Donald Trump received, at least, the equivalent of $413 million from his father’s real estate empire. The Times alleged the Trump family used shady methods, sometimes constituting fraud, to funnel money to one another. The Times obtained a trove of documents, including Fred Trump’s tax returns. This was the most extensive look into the Trump family’s finances yet, and it painted an incriminating picture of fraud and appeared to further prove that Donald Trump is not a self-made billionaire.
While the Ways and Means Committee follows this thread, House investigators are following the bread crumbs laid out by Cohen.
The House Oversight Committee is also probing how Jared Kushner’s security clearance was issued after reports indicated President Trump bypassed concerns of intelligence officials to grant Kushner’s clearance. Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) appeared to issue an ultimatum to be complied with by March 4:
“I am now writing a final time to request your voluntary cooperation with this investigation. I ask that you begin producing all responsive documents immediately, and I request that you begin scheduling transcribed interviews with each witness identified by the Committee.”
2. Otto Warmbier’s parent’s blast Trump: President Trump’s claim that he took North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un at his word when he said he didn’t know about the death of Otto Warmbier has caused a massive backlash. But on Friday, the only opinion on the matter that truly matters was given. Otto Warmbier’s parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, released the following statement:
“We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”
President Trump responded by claiming his comments were “misinterpreted,” and then went on to note Otto was detained during the Obama administration. Trump may claim he was misinterpreted, but the video of the comments begs to differ.
President Trump is claiming his comments about Kim Jong-un not being responsible for Otto Warmbier’s death are being “misinterpreted.”
Roll the tape.
Trump in Hanoi: “[Kim Jong-un] tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.” pic.twitter.com/rV9OjY9HLL
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) March 1, 2019
3. Infants being detained by ICE: Three immigrant advocacy groups are making a truly heartbreaking claim. CBS News reported:
At least nine infants younger than a year old, including one who is just 5 months old, are being held in ICE custody at a rural Texas detention center without care that’s legally required.
That’s what three immigration advocacy groups claimed in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General and Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on Thursday afternoon. The groups said there has been “an alarming increase in the number of infants” being held in ICE custody, and urged the department to “intervene immediately” at the Dilley, Texas, facility.
4. Exaggerated North Korean demands: President Trump walked away from this week’s summit with Kim Jong-un with no deal. Trump claimed that North Korea wanted “all” sanctions lifted, but it appears that is not the case. The Associated Press reported:
According to a senior official who briefed the media on condition he not be named because he was not authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly, the North Koreans “basically asked for the lifting of all sanctions.”
But he acknowledged the North’s demand was only for Washington to back the lifting of United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed since March 2016 and didn’t include the other resolutions going back a decade more.
In other news…
- Politico: Mueller sees needing 5 to 8 days for Roger Stone trial
- CNN: More than 1,000 TSA employees still owed back pay from shutdown
Over the weekend…
At CPAC, there was nothing but lies. From the idea that Democrats are going to take your “hamburgers” and cows to claims that Democrats are trying to kill babies after they are born, it was an absolute disgrace. It’s important to note that the Planned Parenthood shooter killed people because of lies like these.
President Trump took the stage on Saturday and found a way to one-up the crazy:
Trump at #CPAC makes a racist comment targeting immigrant lawmakers.
“We have people in Congress right now that hate our country… how did they do in their country? …Not so good.
This is the POTUS speaking about US Reps.
This IS their country. pic.twitter.com/TrVCD5eZ0K
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) March 2, 2019
Here’s a thread of some of the worst moments:
Trump says “bullshit.”
“We had the greatest win of all time… Unfortunately you put the wrong people in a couple of positions, and they leave people for a long time that should not be there. All of a sudden, they are trying to take you out with bullshit. With bullshit.” pic.twitter.com/KO9TMI3W9z
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 2, 2019
Trump mocks Jeff Sessions’ southern accent pic.twitter.com/ZMl6nFDE3x
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 2, 2019
Trump’s #CPAC speech is a prime example of why he isn’t fit to lead sheep, let alone a nation.
Trump has only gotten more unhinged & depraved as he allows his ego & lust for power to consume him.
Most presidents grow in office.
For @realDonaldTrump, the office is eroding him.
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) March 2, 2019
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.