A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 111th 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 111.
Before we talk about Rep. Ilhan Omar, let’s talk about the consequential developments this week.
The week kicked off with a huge piece from Jane Mayer in the New Yorker which outlined how deep President Trump’s relationship with his propaganda network Fox News truly is. It details how Fox allegedly killed the Stormy Daniels hush money payment story one of their reporters unearthed before the election. It detailed how Rupert Murdoch and Sean Hannity speak with Trump constantly, and how Fox News gaslights its viewers into supporting Trump’s brand of authoritarianism.
Although the length of Paul Manafort’s prison sentence highlighted the inequities in the criminal justice system, it was historic nonetheless. The President of the United States’ former Campaign Chairman is going to prison for fraud crimes he committed while lobbying for foreign dictators
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was grilled on Capitol Hill in a hearing about Trump’s child separation policy and denied that children were put in cages (they were put in cages). Later in the week, we learned that the Trump administration is detaining a historic high of 50,000 undocumented immigrants.
Democrats unveiled a wide-ranging bill covering anti-corruption, voting rights, ethics, and campaign finance reform. Although its chances of passing the Senate are small, it was a clear outline of the Democratic Party’s priorities.
And in by far the most important story of the week, Cindy Yang, the woman who owned the massage parlor where Robert Kraft is being charged with soliciting prostitution, has reportedly been selling Chinese nationals access to President Trump at Mar-a-Lago.
When it comes to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic comments, the death of nuance continued. Among Democrats on Twitter, it shouldn’t be hard to acknowledge the fact that Omar’s latest comments echoed the “dual loyalty” anti-Semitic trope. Any research or conversations with members of the Jewish community would highlight why it was offensive. With that remark on top of her “all about the Benjamins” comment and previous claim that “Israel hypnotized the world,” we now have a pattern of behavior. There should not be a blind defense of her, nor should there be blind condemnation, because it’s hard to ignore the media pile-on she received was intensified by the fact she is a Muslim woman of color. But nonetheless, Omar should’ve known better than to use anti-Semitic tropes and been more careful with her words.
There is a way to criticize the appallingly racist and undemocratic behavior by the Netanyahu government without trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes that have targeted the Jewish community for centuries.
At the same time, it also shouldn’t be hard to acknowledge that Republicans have no room to talk. President Trump’s final campaign ad of 2016 was blatantly anti-Semitic, he called neo-Nazis who chanted “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville “very fine people,” and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) shared an anti-Semitic George Soros meme. GOP members of Congress like Steve King exist and the neo-Nazi shooter of the Tree of Life Synagogue was radicalized by right-wing propaganda.
We can hold two thoughts at the same time but we have to be careful not to falsely equate the two parties like much of the media has.
Bottom line: Omar’s comments don’t represent a growing anti-Semitic sentiment in the Democratic Party whereas it is very well documented that anti-Semitic sentiment on the right has surged.
Now that we got that over with, let’s dive into a consequential 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:
A Threat To Democracy
Day 774: Monday, March 4
Monday’s Top Stories:
We’ve all witnessed the symbiosis between President Trump and Fox News. The network has not only acted as a propaganda arm for President Trump and the Republican Party, their programming directly influences White House policy. Critics perceive Fox News as a megaphone for President Trump’s brand of authoritarianism, but in reality, they are also the engineers of it. Without Fox News’ dishonest content, there would be no Trump base, and today’s blockbuster article from the New Yorker further demonstrates that. On Monday morning, Jane Mayer published one of the most important reports of the last two years. The piece, entitled “The Making of the Fox News White House,” outlines just how deep the Trump-Fox relationship goes, and revealed how far they’ve gone in furthering each other’s goals.
The main takeaways from the piece that are getting the most media attention involve how a Fox News reporter discovered the fact Trump paid hush money to Stormy Daniels. Since this discovery was just before the election, the network reportedly decided not to run the story because Murdoch wanted “Donald Trump to win.” The report also alleges Trump was given the heads up on debate questions before one of the Republican primary debates moderated by Fox. And in a potential abuse of power, that might be of interest to House investigators, President Trump reportedly ordered then-Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn to pressure the Justice Department (DOJ to file a lawsuit to block the merger between AT&T and Time Warner. Mayer reported on the possibility that this could’ve been a favor to Fox News. Cohn reportedly didn’t follow the order, but the DOJ did file the lawsuit…
Read the full article here:
Fox News amplifies Trump’s brand of authoritarianism, but they are also the engineers of it.
Without Fox’s decades of dishonest programming, there would be no Trump base.
Now, they spread his lies and drive his agenda.
This should concern everyone.https://t.co/i569jfOPHu
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) March 5, 2019
In other news…
- The Washington Post: House Democrats demand documents from more than 80 people and institutions affiliated with Trump
- The Wall Street Journal: Lawyer for Cohen Approached Trump Attorneys About Pardon
- The New York Times: Senate Has Votes to Overturn Trump’s Emergency Declaration
- CBS News: Former Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker leaves Justice Department
- The Washington Post: 21 states to file suit to block Trump administration’s abortion ‘gag rule’ in family planning program
- The Washington Post: At least 23 dead in Alabama after tornadoes ravage the Deep South, causing ‘catastrophic’ damage
Day 775: Tuesday, March 5
Tuesday’s Top Stories:
1. Trump interfered in the security clearance process for his family: CNN has new reporting that reveals President Trump not only interfered with the security clearance process for his son-in-law Jared Kushner, but he also did so for his daughter Ivanka Trump. Then-Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Counsel Don McGahn recommended that Ivanka not be granted a security clearance, but Trump pressured them to grant her one anyway. CNN reported:
..after concerns were raised by the personnel office, Trump pushed Kelly and McGahn to make the decision on his daughter and son-in-law’s clearances so it did not appear as if he was tainting the process to favor his family, sources told CNN. After both refused, Trump granted them their security clearances.
This comes after last week’s report from the The New York Times alleged President Trump ordered Kelly to grant Kushner’s security clearance despite the concerns of McGahn and the CIA. Kushner had several problematic conflicts of interest due to his ties to foreign nationals. Both of these reports contradict 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.”
The White House refused to comment on this latest development, but they have been trying to rebuff document requests from the House Oversight Committee related to these clearances.
2. Corruption investigation update: The Washington Post reported that Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen has privately stated that Trump’s legal team dangled a pardon to him in the months after his properties were raided in 2018. This comes as House investigators have ramped up their investigations into President Trump’s lifetime of corruption, requesting documents from 81 people and entities in Trump’s orbit. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff made an important hire by bringing in former prosecutor of Russian organized crime Daniel Goldman.
Today, a Quinnipiac poll revealed 64% of voters say Trump committed crimes before he came into office and 45% say he has committed crimes while in office. 33% of Republicans also believe Trump committed crimes before he became president, which is interesting since over 90% of Republicans still support him. In other words, many Republicans think Trump is a criminal and support him anyway. Another notable tidbit includes the fact 50% of voters believe Michael Cohen while 35% believe Donald Trump. The American people believe a convicted liar more than the President of the United States. Many would say that belief is justifiable, given the fact President Trump has lied at least 9,000 times while in office, according to The Washington Post.
3. Mueller investigation update: Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, as the probe nears its end. President Trump continues to call the probe a witch hunt, but his former Trump lawyer Ty Cobb is striking a different tone. Cobb told ABC News that he believes Mueller is an American hero and the Russia probe is not a witch hunt. Meanwhile, Trump confidant and former campaign adviser Roger Stone has once again potentially violated Judge Amy Bearman Jackson’s gag order, and she isn’t happy.
4. Bloomberg out: Former New York Mayor, and current Billionaire, Michael Bloomberg has announced he will not run for president in 2020. Bloomberg will instead use his massive wealth to help ensure Donald Trump does not win re-election.
5. Explosive packages: Three explosive packages were found at three locations across the United Kingdom – Heathrow Airport, London City Airport, and Waterloo Station. Luckily, no one was hurt and no devices I.
In other news…
- The New York Times: Trump Organization’s Insurance Policies Under Scrutiny in New York
- The New York Times: In the Middle of His Official Business, Trump Took the Time to Send Checks to Michael Cohen
- The Washington Post: Lawmakers exploring possible pardon talks involving Michael Cohen
- The Washington Post: T-Mobile acknowledges its patronage of Trump’s Washington hotel increased sharply after announcement of merger with Sprint
- CNN: Trump moves to end special trade treatment for India
- Reuters: Trump to nominate federal prosecutor Jessie Liu for No. 3 Justice Department post
- Politico: Awkward: How Trump’s past donations could haunt 2020 Dems
- CNBC: FDA chief Gottlieb resigns as agency battles teen vaping, opioid crisis
Day 776: Wednesday, March 6
Wednesday’s Top Stories:
1. Cruel lies: The Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, which led to the separation of at least 2,700 migrant children from their parents last year, was one of President Trump’s most controversial actions. The whereabouts of some of these children are still unknown. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General released a report indicating thousands of more children were separated beginning when Trump took office. Aside from child separation, the Trump administration’s immigration scandals range from migrant women having miscarriages to migrant children being allegedly sexually abused to the deaths of migrant children in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. Now that Democrats have a majority in the House, they got the chance to grill Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on these issues.
One of the bigger moments of the House Homeland Security Committee hearing was Secretary Nielsen’s refusal to concede what Americans all saw with their own eyes – children were kept in cages.
NIELSEN: “Sir, they’re not cages!”
THOMPSON: “What are they?”
NIELSEN: “They are areas of the border facility that are carved out for the safety and protection of those who remain there while they’re being processed.” pic.twitter.com/0yjbpPbjDY
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 6, 2019
REP BONNIE: Is it different from what you put dogs in?
REP BONNIE: In what sense?
NIELSEN: It’s larger
B: Sounds like a dog cage pic.twitter.com/hcIEv4zwrE
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 6, 2019
Nielsen also asserted that the parents who have been deported without their children were given ample opportunity to be reunited. Nielsen said, “there was no parent who has been deported to my knowledge without multiple opportunities to take their children with them.” As we know, that is not true.
Sec. Nielsen tells Rep. Rice that to “the best of (her) knowledge”, no parent was deported w/out their kid w/out consent.
Attorneys have filed numerous affidavits from parents saying they were coerced into signing forms they didn’t understand.https://t.co/Ox5mex0Uhk
— Tal Kopan (@TalKopan) March 6, 2019
One House Democrat accused Nielsen of lying under oath. While President Trump continues to cite the surge in undocumented immigrants crossing the border, it’s important to recognize that his own policies of metering and creating a backlog of legal asylum requests have exacerbated the crisis.
Another concerning angle to this is how the administration is reportedly tracking journalists and activists inquiring on this story. NBC News reported:
Customs and Border Protection has compiled a list of 59 mostly American reporters, attorneys and activists for border agents to stop for questioning when crossing the U.S-Mexican border at San Diego-area checkpoints, and agents have questioned or arrested at least 21 of them, according to documents obtained by NBC station KNSD-TV and interviews with people on the list.
2. More Cohen evidence: Today, Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen met again with the House Intelligence Committee in a closed hearing. The New York Times shed light on what Cohen presented to the committee:
Michael D. Cohen on Wednesday provided new documents to the House Intelligence Committee that he said illustrated changes made at the request of President Trump’s lawyers to a knowingly false written statement that he delivered to Congress in 2017, according to three people familiar with the matter.
It’s unclear at the moment exactly what was edited, but if material changes were made to the facts surrounding the Trump Tower Moscow Project, then it could pose some serious legal problems for the lawyers involved.
3. North Korean missile sites: Less than a week after President Trump’s failed summit with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un, it appears Noth Korea is back to their old ways. Satellite images obtained by NBC News indicated North Korea might be rebuilding a long-range missile test site. President Trump, who has previously said he fell in love with the murderous dictator, said he would be “very disappointed” if this is the case.
In the latest step toward rolling back Obama-era rules for targeted killings, President Donald Trump will no longer require U.S. intelligence officials to publicly disclose the numbers of people killed in drone strikes and other attacks on terrorist targets outside of war zones.
5. Dems excluding Fox news from primary debates: The Democratic National Committee has announced that they will not have Fox News as a media partner for the Democratic primary debates. This move to exclude Fox News from their debate process comes after the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer detailed how Rupert Murdoch and Sean Hannity coordinate with President Trump daily, Fox News killed the story of Trump’s hush money payment to Stormy Daniels before the election and tipped Trump off to debate questions. President Trump responded on Twitter:
“Democrats just blocked @FoxNews from holding a debate. Good, then I think I’ll do the same thing with the Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates!”
In other news…
- The Washington Post: As trade deficit explodes, Trump finds he can’t escape the laws of economics
- The Nation Exclusive: ICE Has Kept Tabs on ‘Anti-Trump’ Protesters in New York City
- Politico: McConnell won’t allow vote on election reform bill
Criminal Justice Inequities
Day 777: Thursday, March 7
1. Manafort sentenced: Today, Judge T.S. Ellis sentenced former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort to 47 months in prison. Manafort’s crimes included 8 counts (5 tax fraud, 2 bank fraud, and 1 of hiding foreign accounts). Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommended 19-24 years in prison given the nature of the crimes, which involved lobbying for foreign dictators and committing financial fraud. In spite of decades of criminal conduct, Judge Ellis claimed that Manafort lived “an otherwise blameless life.”
Paul Manafort also violated his plea agreement in his DC trial. The charges are conspiracy against the U.S. and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Judge Amy Berman Jackson will rule on this next week and Manafort could face an additional 10 years. Manafort showed no remorse for his crimes and later witness tampered to try and cover them up.
Legal experts consider Manafort’s sentencing for fraud charges of this nature to be incredibly lenient. Brooklyn Public Defender Scott Hechinger outlines just how lenient Paul Manafort’s sentence is by comparing it to other crimes.
2. Condemning hate: Today, the House took up a vote on an anti-hate resolution condemning anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of bigotry. This was in response to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s criticisms of Israel that were considered by many to contain anti-Semitic tropes. Rather than condemn Omar directly, House Democrats widened the scope of the resolution. The resolution passed in a 427-23 vote. The 23 who opposed the measure were all Republicans.
3. Cohen requested a pardon?: Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen has sued the Trump Organization for $1.9 million for what he alleges are unpaid legal fees. In other news, his own spokesperson contradicted his testimony. ABC News reported:
Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump, asked one of his attorneys last summer to inquire with an attorney representing the president about receiving a pardon, Cohen’s spokesman Lanny Davis told ABC News Thursday.
Cohen asked his attorney at the time, Stephen Ryan, to meet with Rudy Giuliani about the possibility of a pardon shortly after an FBI raid on his home and offices in the early summer of 2018, Davis said.
Davis added that Cohen also stands by his testimony, citing the time frame. Cohen, at the time, was part of a joint defense agreement with the president and many of his advisers.
4. Insurance fraud?: Tim O’Brien, executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion and Trump biographer, outlined some potential insurance fraud on the part of the Trump Organization:
A series of hurricanes tore through Florida in 2005, and Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s business and residence in Palm Beach, was apparently very beaten up because Trump collected about $18.3 million in insurance payments that year from a carrier whose services were brokered by Aon Plc.
When my attorney asked Trump during a 2007 deposition if he ever plowed all of those funds back into his club, he pointed out that “under the insurance plan you didn’t have to” even though “the hurricane really did tremendous damage.”
5. Census ruling: A federal judge has finally weighed in on the 2020 Census trial. The Washington Post reported:
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acted in “bad faith,” broke several laws and violated the constitutional underpinning of representative democracy when he added a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
In finding a breach of the Constitution’s enumeration clause, which requires a census every 10 years to determine each state’s representation in Congress, the 126-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco went further than a similar decision on Jan. 15 by Judge Jesse Furman in New York.
In other news…
- Politico: Kelly says a full border wall would be a ‘waste of money’
- The Daily Beast: Embassy Staffers Say Jared Kushner Shut Them Out of Saudi Meetings
Day 778: Friday, March 8
Friday’s Top Stories:
On Friday, House Democrats passed a highly significant piece of anti-corruption and voting rights legislation. Although it’s a longshot to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, it served as a key indicator of Democratic priorities and values. The New York Times reported:
WASHINGTON — The House passed the Democrats’ showcase anti-corruption and voting rights legislation on Friday, an expansive measure that aims to dismantle barriers to the ballot box, end big money in politics and impose stricter ethics rules on federal officials.
The sweeping legislation, passed 234-193, makes good on the campaign pledge to clean up Washington that helped catapult Democrats into the majority. It also serves as a campaign platform for Democrats ahead of 2020. It has virtually no chance of passing the Senate.
“It’s a power grab for the American people,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, who leads the House administration committee that shepherded the legislation.
The ambitious compendium, at nearly 700 pages, includes proposals designating Election Day as a federal holiday, automatically registering citizens to vote, and restoring voting rights to people who have served felony sentences. It also creates a six-to-one matching system for donations of up to $200 to congressional and presidential candidates who reject high-dollar contributions, funded by an additional fine on corporations found to have broken the law.
Representative Max Rose (D-NY-11), who Rantt Media interviewed before his primary election victory, gave an impassioned speech about the Republican opposition to the bill.
🔥🔥 Wow. Freshman Democrat Max Rose calling out Republicans for their opposition to HR1 is so, so spot on. pic.twitter.com/5zuClYo8Ld
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) March 8, 2019
In other news…
- Mother Jones: A Florida Massage Parlor Owner Has Been Selling Chinese Execs Access to Trump at Mar-a-Lago
“The latest Trump political donor to draw controversy is Li Yang, a 45-year-old Florida entrepreneur from China who founded a chain of spas and massage parlors that included the one where New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft was recently busted for soliciting prostitution. She made the news this week when the Miami Herald reported that last month she had attended a Super Bowl viewing party at Donald Trump’s West Palm Beach golf club and had snapped a selfie with the president during the event. Though Yang no longer owns the spa Kraft allegedly visited, the newspaper noted that other massage parlors her family runs have “gained a reputation for offering sexual services.” (She told the newspaper she has never violated the law.) Beyond this sordid tale, there is another angle to the strange story of Yang: She runs an investment business that has offered to sell Chinese clients access to Trump and his family. And a website for the business—which includes numerous photos of Yang and her purported clients hobnobbing at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Palm Beach—suggests she had some success in doing so.”
- The Washington Post: Trump says Cohen ‘directly’ asked him for a pardon, a claim Cohen calls a lie
- The Guardian: Trump inauguration took money from shell companies tied to foreigners
- Miami Herald: Trump cheered Patriots to Super Bowl victory with founder of spa where Kraft was busted
- NBC News: Bill Shine resigns as White House communications director, joins Trump’s 2020 campaign
- Axios Scoop: White House leak to House Dems on Jared and Ivanka’s clearances
- CNN: Elizabeth Warren’s new plan: Break up Amazon, Google and Facebook
- The Washington Post: Chelsea Manning sent to jail for refusing to testify in WikiLeaks case
- NPR: U.S. Economy Loses Steam, Adding Only 20,000 Jobs Last Month
- The Daily Beat: ICE Is Detaining 50,000 People, an All-Time High
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.