A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 113th 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 113.
We will all remember where we were when we heard the news of the completion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. The report is 22 months in the making and the result of one of the most consequential investigations in presidential history.
Over the course of his investigation, Mueller indicted 34 individuals or entities, 25 of which were Russian and 6 of which were Trump associates (5 pleaded guilty). The investigation, which had both criminal and counterintelligence components, demonstrated Russia’s interference in the 2016 election in robust detail.
Mueller’s indictments have told a story. We know that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election included a multifaceted espionage campaign that stole emails from Democratic organizations and operatives. We know they then sent those stolen emails to Wikileaks who strategically leaked them in an effort to damage candidate Hillary Clinton. Russia also employed online troll operations that spread propaganda on social media which reached millions of Americans. And we know this was all in an effort to help the campaign of Donald Trump. Not only did Russian operatives reach out to the campaign, but these efforts were also reciprocated by Trump’s team – including by his own son.
Aside from all the available reporting of contacts between Russia and the Trump Campaign and Trump’s own public outreach to Russia for election help, Mueller’s indictments have actually included some evidence of potential coordination. Former Trump Campaign Chairman Manafort gave suspected Russian Intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik 2016 polling data. The Trump Campaign sought updates on Wikileaks dumps from Roger Stone, and the efforts were ordered at the highest levels of Trump’s team. Trump sought the Trump Tower Moscow deal during the election, which many have speculated could’ve been part of a quid pro quo. Trump and his team then lied to the American people about it.
At the time of this writing, Attorney General William Barr has not handed the key conclusions of the report to Congress. It could come as early as today (Sunday 3/24). While no additional indictments will be filed by Mueller, it’s entirely possible that the report will outline conduct that could be deeply damaging to Trump’s political standing. And of course, there are the numerous corruption probes in the House and New York to watch.
Many questions remain that we hope the report will answer: Did Special Counsel Robert Mueller discover any other contacts between the Trump Campaign and Russia that we don’t know about? Why didn’t Mueller charge anyone with a conspiracy with the Russians? Why didn’t he charge Donald Trump Jr. or Erik Prince for lying to Congress? What were the counterintelligence findings related to whether or not Trump is compromised by Russia? Did President Trump obstruct justice?
Before we read this report, let’s look back at the week before we heard this news. Behind every unhinged action from President Trump, there is a Mueller move not far behind. From his attacks on the late Senator John McCain to his feud with Kellyanne Conway’s husband George, the president’s instability was very apparent for all to see.
Meanwhile, major stories on Trump’s corruption unfolded including a story on how Trump inflated his assets to obtain loans from Deutsche Bank. There were also stories indicating just how rampant the use of private communication methods were used to conduct government business by White House officials like Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump – ironic given their attacks on Hillary Clinton’s private email use.
Let’s dive into 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:
Trump’s Weekend Tweet Spree And Mueller’s Incoming Move
Day 788: Monday, March 18
1. Mueller’s probe winding down: With top prosecutors leaving Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, speculation was mounting about its imminent conclusion. The investigation began with his appointment on May 17, 2017, and Mueller’s scope included taking over ongoing FBI investigation into the Trump Campaign that started the previous Summer. Since then, Mueller’s investigation has not only accomplished a great deal in a short period of time, it has turned a profit. Here’s an article about how it compares to past probes.
2. President Trump’s wild weekend: After the New Zealand terrorist attack, President Trump was asked if he sees white nationalism as a growing global threat. In spite of all of the evidence indicating otherwise, President Trump said he does not see it as a threat. After one tweet offering condolences, President Trump embarked on a weekend tweeting spree attacking everything from the Special Counsel to deceased Republican Senator John McCain. President Trump proposed that the FEC or FCC look into Saturday Night Live and Late Night Shows and, without evidence, accused them of colluding with Democrats and Russia (which he is accused of doing). President Trump went on to demand that Fox News bring Judge Jeanine Pirro’s show back on the air after her Islamophobic comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar.
3. Trump’s money woes: The New York Times reported that Deutsche Bank knew that President Trump was misrepresenting his assets when they gave him loans. This came at a time when other financial institutions had deemed Trump too risky of an investment. Trump’s alleged inflation of assets to obtain both bank loans and insurance policies has come under scrutiny by New York prosecutors.
4. The best people: Former Republican National Committee finance chairman Elliot Broidy’s office was raided in a federal money-laundering probe in July of 2018. ProPublica reported:
Federal authorities raided the office of Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy last summer, seeking records related to his dealings with foreign officials and Trump administration associates, according to a sealed search warrant obtained by ProPublica.
Agents were authorized to use the megadonor’s hands and face to unlock any phones that required fingerprint or facial scans.
The Washington Post reported in August that the Justice Department was investigating Broidy. The sealed warrant offers new details of federal authorities’ investigation of allegations that Broidy had attempted to cash in on his Trump White House connections in dealings with foreign officials. It also shows that the government took a more aggressive approach with the Trump ally than was previously known, entering his office and removing records — just as it did with Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
5. This is not normal: Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to the President of the United States, went on Fox & Friends and called on people to read the entire manifesto of the white supremacist terrorist who live-streamed his slaughter of Muslims in New Zealand. Conway made this comment to try and claim that the terrorist was not inspired by President Trump. In her claim that the New Zealand terrorist wasn’t inspired by Trump, Conway conveniently omitted the fact that in his manifesto he called Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity.” The terrorist wanted people to read his manifesto. Kellyanne Conway just promoted it.
In other news…
- CNN: Mulvaney defends Trump in the wake of New Zealand attacks, ‘The President is not a white supremacist’
- The Wal Street Journal: U.S. Military Now Preparing to Leave as Many as 1,000 Troops in Syria
- The Washington Post: Kellyanne Conway dismisses her husband’s concerns that Trump’s mental health is deteriorating
Day 789: Tuesday, March 19
Today, President Trump met with Brazi’s newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro at the White House. The two discussed issues ranging from Venezuela to trade to whether or not Brazil could attain NATO privileges. Bolsonaro is the kind of leader that a traditional American President would condemn, but not this one. Like Trump, Bolsonaro is a far-right nationalist who has expressed bigoted views and authoritarian tendencies.
President Trump praised the Brazilian President on his election victory and for running “one of the incredible campaigns.” Bolsonaro returned the favor:
“Brazil and the United States stand side by side in their efforts to ensure liberties in respect to traditional family lifestyles, respect to God our creator, against the gender ideology or the politically correct attitudes, and against fake news.” – @jairbolsonaro
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) March 19, 2019
This is problematic given Bolsonaro’s controversial ideology. Tamir Bar-On touched on some of the views Bolsonaro espouses in his article for Rantthighlighting the radical right in Latin America:
Bolsonaro has defended the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and suggested that the Brazilian military dictatorship should have tortured less and killed more people. He has made homophobic slurs; attacked same-sex marriage; and advanced anti-immigrant views (especially in relation to Haitians). His campaign slogan was the following: “Brazil above everything and God above everyone.” He has been called a “Trump of the tropics” and even been dubbed a “fascist”…
Becca Warner further expanded on Bolsonaro in her article for Rantt describing the threat he poses to the Amazon rainforest:
Much has been made — and rightly so — of Bolsonaro’s sexism, racism, and homophobia. This is a man who said he wouldn’t rape a particular member of Congress because she is “ugly” and “not [his] type”. He would “prefer [his] son to die in an accident than show up with a man”. He has reportedly described black activists as “animals” who should “go back to the zoo”. He is also pro-torture.
The media have said less of his equally shocking plans for the environment. Which is surprising given that, with the majority of the Amazon rainforest falling within its borders and the sixth largest greenhouse gas emissions in the world, Brazil wields environmental decision-making power that ricochets around the world.
During their press conference in the Rose Garden, President Trump said of President Bolsonaro: “we have many views that are similar.”
In other news…
- CNN: Mueller was allowed to review years of Cohen emails from time he worked under Trump
- Associated Press: Supreme Court rules against immigrants in detention case
- Buzzfeed News: A 40-Year-Old Mexican Immigrant Died In US Custody — The Fourth Death In Recent Months
- Buzzfeed News: A Judge Has Ruled That Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Can’t Take Effect Yet After All
- The Atlantic: Bernie Sanders Just Hired His Twitter Attack Dog
- Los Angeles Times: Murdoch family launches a new Fox, and former House Speaker Paul Ryan joins its board
- CNN: Robert Mueller’s team says it’s very busy this week
- Politico: Trump intensifies attacks on McCain: ‘I never was a fan of John McCain, and I never will be’
- NBC News: White House proposes caps on student loan borrowing
- BBC News: First funerals for NZ shooting victims
- The Wall Street Journal: Joe Biden Tells Supporters He Plans 2020 Bid
Day 790: Wednesday, March 20
1. Something is bothering President Donald Trump: Something is bothering President Donald Trump. Over the past few days, President Trump has targeted everyone from tech companies to White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway’s husband George. But with one target, he is showcasing his complete lack of shame and virtue. President Trump continued his attacks on the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for giving the Christopher Steele dossier to the FBI while ignoring the fact that the Bureau already had it. It appears Trump sees McCain as responsible for starting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, even though it was sparked by former Trump Campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos telling an Australian diplomat Russia had dirt on Clinton.
Today, President Trump again said he’s never been “a fan” of McCain and complained that he wasn’t thanked for approving McCain’s funeral. Just this week, President Trump cozied up to Brazil’s bigoted nationalist President Jair Bolsonaro. Last month, President Trump held a failed, yet praise-filled, summit with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un. The fact Trump treats those men with more respect than an American hero paints these attacks in an even more damning light.
Over the course of this presidency, it’s been safe to assume when President Trump reaches a heightened level of unhinged behavior, something big is on the way. In the past, it’s been Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and incoming indictments that have been the primary source of Trump’s anxiety. In his renewed attacks on the Special Counsel, Trump has signaled Mueller’s incoming report is weighing down on him. In spite of President Trump’s statements to the contrary, there is evidence of coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia’s operation to interfere in the 2016 election as well as obstruction of justice. With the news of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein remaining in his post, for the time being, it appears things are about to get interesting…. (Read our full analysis here)
2. Brexit update: While the world awaits the fate of the United Kingdom’s potential exit from the European Union, European Council President Donald Tusk made a statement. NPR reported:
Nine days before Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union, European Council President Donald Tusk said Wednesday that an extension for withdrawal is possible – but only if U.K. parliament members approve Prime Minister Theresa May’s terms.
The condition stands to push British parliamentarians to vote a third time on May’s deal or prepare for a historic divorce without any deal at all.
May sent Tusk a letter requesting a delay until June 30. Britain’s exit from the EU is scheduled for March 29. The prime minister explained that she needed more time to convince parliamentarians to pass her deal.
3. More self-dealing?: The Trump Campaign’s recent FEC filing has some revealing details. Forbes reported:
Donald Trump has charged his own reelection campaign $1.3 million for rent, food, lodging and other expenses since taking office, according to a Forbes analysis of the latest campaign filings. And although outsiders have contributed more than $50 million to the campaign, the billionaire president hasn’t handed over any of his own cash. The net effect: $1.3 million of donor money has turned into $1.3 million of Trump money.
4. GOP tax cuts fall short: First, the Republican Party didn’t deliver a windfall to their base, instead they cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Now, it appears they will not deliver on their economic projections either. The New York Times reported:
The Trump administration pushed a $1.5 trillion tax cut through Congress in 2017 on the promise that it would spark sustained economic growth. While the tax cuts have goosed the economy in the short term, officials now concede they will not be enough to deliver the 3 percent annual growth the president promised over the long term.
The Department of Defense Inspector General announced Wednesday it had initiated an investigation into Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan over reports that he has disparaged competing defense companies to the potential benefit of his former firm, Boeing.
In a statement announcing the investigation, IG spokeswoman Dwrena Allen said the agency “decided to investigate complaints we recently received that Acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan allegedly took actions to promote his former employer, Boeing, and disparage its competitors, allegedly in violation of ethics rules.”
In other news…
- Bloomberg: Trump Says Tariffs Will Stay Until China Complies With Deal
- CNBC: Trump wants to use a big banking settlement to help build his border wall
Day 791: Thursday, March 21
The candidate who waged his presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton’s use of private email has run an administration full of individuals that have done exactly that. According to House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), President Trump’s son-in-law and White House Adviser, Jared Kushner, has been relying on his private email account and the encrypted messaging app WhatsApp for government business. In a letter to the White House, Rep. Cummings alleged that Jared Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell told his committee about this conduct in December but was unsure if classified info was discussed by Kushner. Lowell is now claiming he is being misquoted.
Jared Kushner has reportedly used WhatsApp to communicate with foreign nationals, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is responsible for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Rep. Cummings wrote: “These communications raise questions about whether these officials complied with the Presidential Records Act…” Cummings is also requesting information from the White House about alleged private email use on the part of Ivanka Trump, former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland, and former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. The Washington Post previously reported Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails on her private account in 2017.
This comes after reports revealed 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. President Trump also reportedly ordered Kelly to grant Kushner’s security clearance despite the concerns of McGahn and the CIA. When they didn’t follow his demands, he reportedly granted them himself. Kushner had several problematic conflicts of interest due to his ties to foreign nationals and had to update his SF-86 several times with over 100 foreign contacts.
These aren’t the first potential breaches 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. President Trump also revealed classified information about ISIS to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey.
Donald Trump ran a campaign that heavily featured messaging that attacked Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information and called for her to be locked up for it. It’s important to note that Clinton’s email server was never hacked, and it was just the potential for a breach that was at issue. In the case of President Trump, his administration has jeopardized classified information on multiple occasions and there have been no calls to lock him up from his base.
In other news…
- The Washington Post: Britain will not leave the E.U. next week after European leaders allow a short Brexit reprieve
- NBC News: Mail bomber Cesar Sayoc pleads guilty; devices were sent to critics of Trump
- The Washington Post: 3 possible outcomes for the release of the Mueller Report
- The New York Times: Trump Wants Robert Kraft at White House Super Bowl Celebration Despite Charges
- ABC News: Trump signs executive order threatening aid to colleges if speakers silenced
- Los Angeles Times: Marine Corps commandant says deploying troops to the border poses ‘unacceptable risk’
- USA TODAY: ICE sets record for arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record
The End Of The Beginning
Day 792: Friday, March 22
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr. This puts an end to the 1 year, 10 month-long investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, a potential conspiracy between Russia and the Trump Campaign, and potential obstruction of justice on the part of President Trump. Americans have been waiting on the edge of their seats for this historic moment, and here it is.
The Justice Department (DOJ) sent a letter to the Judiciary Chairs and ranking members of the Senate and the House, alerting them that the DOJ received Mueller’s report late afternoon on Friday. Barr wrote that the DOJ did not interfere with the Special Counsel’s probe. And most importantly, Barr wrote that he will review the report and brief Congress on the key conclusions as early as this weekend. House Democrats are already calling for the report (and underlying evidence) to be released in its entirety. But the White House is also asking to comb through it first.
Justice Department officials have also said that Mueller will not recommend any additional indictments. This does not mean, however, that Mueller won’t outline conduct that the House may deem impeachable, given the fact the President cannot be indicted while in office per DOJ policy. According to legal experts (and special counsel regulations), the report will likely contain explanations of declination decisions not to indict President Trump or members of his inner circle. It’s possible the report will outline all of the known evidence of coordination between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government and obstruction of justice, and equally possible that it won’t.
Over the lifetime of the probe, the Special Counsel levied 37 indictments, 6 of which were indictments from Trump associates – 5 pleaded guilty. That included the indictments of 25 Russian individuals or entities for hacking and leaking Democratic emails as well as running the Russian troll operation. Mueller’s investigation was cheaper and more efficient than past investigations of its kind. Now, it’s over. But, there are others, which don’t have as narrow a scope as Mueller’s did.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) released a statement noting that by law, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s counterintelligence findings must be shared with his committee. Rep. Schiff has rebooted House Intel’s Trump-Russia probe, which is also probing whether or not President Trump is compromised by Russian money laundering. This is one of several investigations underway in the House. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has already received tens of thousands of documents from some of the 81 individuals and entities his committee requested information from. This is part of this wide-ranging inquiry into corruption, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power on the part of President Trump and his associates.
As we reported earlier this week, other corruption investigations are ongoing. New York Attorney General Letitia James recently subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank related to loans the Trump Organization may have received by inflating assets. This came after the New York State Department of Financial Services subpoenaed a Trump Organization insurance broker probing similar fraud. The Manhattan District Attorney filed the first state charges against a member of the Trump Campaign by indicting Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. There is also the Southern District of New York’s investigation which has already yielded a guilty plea from Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen and which implicated President Trump (Individual-1) in two campaign finance felonies. There are also multiple state probes into Trump’s Inaugural Committee and emoluments clause lawsuits.
In other news…
- The New York Times: Trump Overrules Own Experts on Sanctions, in Favor to North Korea
Politico: Trump: I hope Barr will ‘do what’s fair’ with regards to investigating Hillary Clinton
- The Washington Post: Democrats will direct FBI, White House counsel to preserve records shared with Mueller
- The Washington Post: Trump picks close ally Stephen Moore for Fed seat as economy shows signs of weakness
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.