A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 118th Unpresidented Week As POTUS
Trump’s first major typo after winning the election was spelling Unprecedented incorrectly. He infamously tweeted “Unpresidented.” This typo is emblematic 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 118.
It’s been a little over a week since Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report has been released and the details are still being digested. The 448-page report, and how Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein handled its release, continued to captivate the nation.
The pages contained stories of unprecedented corruption on the part of Donald Trump, including over 11 obstructive acts that undermined the American justice system. This week was rightfully filled with a debate over whether House Democrats would begin impeachment proceedings. All while President Trump declared he would fight “all the subpoenas” from Democratic leadership in the House.
In a speech before the NRA’s annual convention and in numerous Twitter ramblings, President Trump continued to show the American people why he isn’t fit to lead. President Trump also praised Robert E. Lee and defended his comments that depicted the neo-Nazi protestors in Charlottesville as “very fine people.”
Meanwhile, we learned more details about how the White House is refusing to address foreign election meddling because it’s a topic that bruises President Trump’s ego.
And the 2020 race heated up. While Senator Elizabeth Warren is leading the pack with detailed policy rollouts, former Vice President Joe Biden is leading in the polls.
The weeks and months ahead will be filled with congressional hearings and primary debates.
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 it here or join our community chat:
The Democrats’ Choice
Day 823: Monday, April 22
On Monday evening, #ImpeachDonaldTrump was trending number one on Twitter in the United States, and for good reason. The redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report told the story of a corrupt president who solicited and accepted election help from a foreign adversary and tried to obstruct the investigation into that conduct.
While calls for impeachment surged among the Democratic base, House Democrats held a conference call on Monday to discuss how they would proceed. Some representatives called for immediate impeachment but the main takeaway from the call was that House Democrats would not immediately impeach but pursue the facts via House investigations for now. That being said, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly told members of her caucus that impeachment is not off the table.
In Rantt’s Community Chat, Rantt Co-Founder and Newsroom Director Adam Al-Ali pointed out the possible hurdles Democratic leaders in the House are facing:
“I think Pelosi is facing serious internal pushback from scared purple/red state Democrats. ObamaCare wiped out the majority in 2010, and they remember that. Those Democrats in moderate districts may be afraid of losing their seats and think a vote to launch impeachment hearings could cost them the House majority. I disagree with their reasoning, but I think that’s what’s going on.”
No one expects Senate Republicans to remove President Trump from office, but impeachment in the House could serve other purposes. Advocates for impeaching the President argue that not only would the act uphold the Constitution and show future presidents they can’t get away with this corruption, it would lay out all the facts for the American people ahead of 2020.
As Rantt Staff Writer Bob Cunningham outlined in his piece on impeaching President Trump, the fears of political backlash and recent comparisons to the impeachment of President Clinton omit key differences:
[Impeachment] also doesn’t have to be politically ruinous for Democrats. Yes, President Bill Clinton’s approval ratings improved during and after his impeachment proceedings, but that was because the American people largely recognized it was nothing more than sour Republicans trying to undermine a popular and effective president.
Because of Clinton’s successes and popularity, he could withstand impeachment proceedings. Trump, on the other hand, has been an absolute trainwreck since day one, has proved himself unfit in every way imaginable, and is the least popular president in the nearly 75-year history of polling.
Trump has none of the things going for him that Clinton had. And we all remember how badly impeachment proceedings hurt Republicans’ chances to take the WH in 2000, which is why we had 8 years of President Gore.
See what I’m saying here?
If Democrats take the cautious route, they may be well suited to launch impeachment hearings after they get Mueller to testify. The can get Mueller to say on camera what his report says: that the Office of Legal Counsel’s memo stating a sitting president can’t be indicted weighed on his prosecutorial decision and that he left the decision to Congress. There is more than enough in the Mueller report to launch impeachment proceedings.
In other news…
- CNN: House panel issues subpoena to former White House counsel Don McGahn
- The Washington Post: Trump sues in bid to block congressional subpoena of financial records
- The Daily Beast: Giuliani: ‘Nothing Wrong’ With Getting Political Dirt From Russians
- Politico: Trump campaign punishes Don McGahn’s law firm
- CNBC: Trump says after Mueller report ‘you can’t impeach’ and argues that it was the ‘Democrats that committed the crimes’
- The New York Times: Supreme Court to Decide Whether Landmark Civil Rights Law Applies to Gay and Transgender Workers
- Reuters: U.S. to end all waivers on imports of Iranian oil, crude price jumps
- NBC News: Herman Cain withdraws from consideration for Federal Reserve seat
- CNN: Trump Fed pick Stephen Moore called it a ‘travesty’ that women ‘feel free’ to play sports with men
- Vox: FBI arrests leader of private militia accused of detaining migrants on US border
A Recipe For Minority Rule
Day 824: Tuesday, April 23
The Supreme Court has decided to take up what will be their most consequential ruling in the new 5-4 majority court conservative court. The Washington Post reported:
The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed willing Tuesday to defer to the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census despite evidence it could lead to an undercount of millions of people.
The court’s ideological divide was on full display, and its ruling, which is likely to come in June, could be its most important of the term. The decennial count of the nation’s population determines the size of each state’s congressional delegation, the number of votes it receives in the electoral college and how the federal government allocates hundreds of billions of dollars.
Unmentioned during the nearly 90-minute oral argument were the partisan stakes: An undercount estimated by census officials of about 6.5 million people probably would affect states and urban areas with large Hispanic and immigrant populations, places that tend to vote for Democrats.
In other news…
- CNN: Treasury misses deadline to turn over Trump tax returns, says decision coming May 6
- The Daily Beast: White House Orders Official Not to Comply With Dem Subpoena Over Security Clearances
- The Washington Post: Six Trump Interior appointees are being investigated for possible ethical misconduct
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Russia, If You’re Listening…
Day 825: Wednesday, April 24
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report outlined Russia’s “sweeping” and “systematic” attack on American democracy. On the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia waged espionage and propaganda campaigns against the US in an effort to influence the 2016 election. Hackers stole Democratic emails and strategically leaked them through Wikileaks to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and help Donald Trump. The Internet Research Agency (IRA) targeted millions of American voters with propaganda on social media. Hackers also targeted voter systems around the country, although there is no evidence any votes were altered. The report outlined how the Trump Campaign solicited and accepted help from the Russian government.
Russia’s tactics are ongoing. Russia targeted the 2018 midterms but in a less robust fashion and intelligence officials have predicted that Russia will attack again ahead of the 2020 elections. Having seen the success and lack of consequences for Russia, there is the added possibility that countries like Saudi Arabia and China will also interfere. Unfortunately, President Trump’s fragile ego and apparent openness to receiving foreign assistance are leaving America’s election process ripe for attacks.
On page 215 of the redacted Mueller report, the Special Counsel’s team writes:
After the election, the President expressed concerns to advisors that reports of Russia’s election interference might lead the public to question the legitimacy of his election.
Today, The New York Times expanded on this with new reporting:
Ms. Nielsen left the Department of Homeland Security early this month after a tumultuous 16-month tenure and tensions with the White House. Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids.
But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”
One senior official told the Times that Homeland Security’s efforts to craft a coordinated strategy to combat foreign influence campaigns was stymied by the White House’s refusal to discuss it.
This reporting comes after White House Adviser Jared Kushner made troubling comments at the TIME 100 Summit downplaying Russia’s interference.
WATCH: Jared Kushner shares his view that investigations of Russian election influence in the past 2 years have had much harsher impact on democracy “than a couple Facebook ads” from the Russians. https://t.co/13F2pHK2pD pic.twitter.com/wFAcBuzVIm
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 23, 2019
Kushner’s comments came days after Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said that there’s “nothing wrong” with accepting information from Russians. The multiple foreign entanglements that plague President Trump, Jared Kushner, and other White House officials make these remarks even worse.
This isn’t just about Trump’s ego feeling insulted about questions over his “legitimacy.” The Trump administration’s inaction is leaving America’s democracy vulnerable to future election interference and their words are sending a clear message to hostile foreign actors: attack here.
On July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, President Trump made it clear he was not going to hold Russia accountable. After two years of questioning the Intelligence Community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, President Trump made his denialism official when he stood next to Putin and said:
“[Putin] just said it’s not Russia…I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
President Trump at the news conference with Putin on Russian interference in the US election: President Putin said it’s not Russia, “I don’t see any reason why it would be” https://t.co/nPWxwvrWp4 pic.twitter.com/7qGzsS18vY
— CNN (@CNN) July 16, 2018
Now we know why.
In other news…
- NBC News: Trump blasts Democrats for probes, says White House is ‘fighting all the subpoenas’
- CNN: Deutsche Bank begins process of providing Trump financial records to New York’s attorney general
- TIME: President Trump Says He Would Fight Impeachment in the Supreme Court. That’s Not How It Works
- Bloomberg Exclusive: Trump Backed Libyan Strongman’s Attack on Tripoli, U.S. Officials Say
- BBC News: Russia eases passport rules for east Ukrainians
- VICE News: Saudi Arabia beheaded a pro-democracy protester set to attend college in U.S.
- The Hill: Trump renews threat of border closure, citing new caravan of migrants
- The Washington Post: Trump met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey — and complained about his follower count
The 2020 Stage Is Set
Day 826: Thursday, April 25
On Thursday, former Vice President Joe Biden announced his run for President of the United States. President Trump responded by calling him “sleepy Joe” on Twitter.
Biden enters the race leading his Democratic rivals in the polls but behind in fundraising. Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris are leading the fundraising pack, but that could soon change. It’s also important to note that, Senator Elizabeth Warren has released the most detailed policy proposals out of all of the candidates thus far.
The 2020 field is now crowded, making for a very interesting Democratic Primary race to come. Here are all 20 candidates running for the 2020 nomination:
1. Biden, 2. Booker, 3. Buttigieg, 4. Castro, 5. Delaney, 6. Gabbard, 7. Gillibrand, 8. Harris, 9. Hickenlooper, 10. Inslee, 11. Klobuchar, 12. Messam, 13. Moulton, 14. O’Rourke, 15. Ryan, 16. Sanders, 17. Swalwell, 18. Warren, 19. Williamson, 20. Yang.
In other news…
- The New York Times: Joe Biden Expresses Regret to Anita Hill, but She Says ‘I’m Sorry’ Is Not Enough
- ABC News: Trump White House blocks senior aide from testifying on immigration policy
- The Washington Post: Trump’s defiance puts pressure on Congress’s ability to check the president
- NBC News: Trump claims he never told McGahn to fire Mueller, but they say otherwise
- NBC News: Trump campaign won’t commit to staying away from hacked material
- The Washington Post: North Korea issued $2 million bill for comatose Otto Warmbier’s care
- CNN: Federal judge says Coast Guard officer accused of terror attack plot will be released from detention
- ABC News: Trump campaign has spent more than $8 million in legal fees since he took office
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“I can land the plane.”
Day 827: Friday, April 26
It’s been clear for some time that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is no hero – he is a survivor. New reporting today further reveals the lengths Rosenstein has gone to in order to keep his job and appease President Trump. It also raises new questions about Rosenstein’s ethics and whether he has been a fair broker in overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The Washington Post reported:
Rod J. Rosenstein, again, was in danger of losing his job. The New York Times had just reported that — in the heated days after James B. Comey was fired as FBI director — the deputy attorney general had suggested wearing a wire to surreptitiously record President Trump. Now Trump, traveling in New York, was on the phone, eager for an explanation.
Rosenstein — who, by one account, had gotten teary-eyed just before the call in a meeting with Trump’s chief of staff — sought to defuse the volatile situation and assure the president he was on his team, according to people familiar with matter. He criticized the Times report, published in late September, and blamed it on former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, whose recollections formed its basis. Then he talked about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and told the president he would make sure Trump was treated fairly, people familiar with the conversation said.
“I give the investigation credibility,” Rosenstein said, according to an administration official with knowledge of what was said during the call. “I can land the plane.”
One senior Trump administration official told The Washington Post that President Trump left the phone call thinking Rosenstein was “on the team after all.” The report goes on to expand upon previous reporting that revealed how Rosenstein told Trump he was not a “target” of Mueller’s investigation. It also reveals Rosenstein told Trump he agreed that Trump was being treated unfairly and also echoed Trump’s attacks on the media.
This is far from the first time Rod Rosenstein’s conduct has raised questions. Rosenstein played a role in writing the memo that outlined President Trump’s false reasoning for firing then-FBI Director James Comey. It was after being ordered to craft that memo that Rod Rosenstein suggested he wear a wire when meeting with President Trump, according to then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. From there, Rosenstein was seen as the key person who protected Mueller’s investigation but in the closing days of the probe, Rosenstein took a turn.
In his Senate testimony earlier this month, Attorney General William Barr used similar language to what Rosenstein reportedly told Trump on the phone, asserting: “I’m landing the plane right now.” Barr’s misrepresentation of Mueller’s findings has been widely criticized, but Rosenstein’s role in helping Barr clear President Trump of obstruction of justice has been scrutinized to a lesser extent.
Today’s Washington Post report raises new questions about Rod Rosenstein. Did Rosenstein urge Mueller to preemptively end his probe? There was reporting last year that indicated phase two of Mueller’s probe was set to examine President Trump’s middle eastern entanglements. What happened to that? Were there any covert efforts to stifle the Mueller probe’s resources or limit its scope after Rosenstein made those assurances to the President? If there was more corrupt conduct on the part of Rosenstein or Barr, the obstruction of justice never ended. A couple of hearings on Capitol Hill might help clear some of this up. CC: House Democrats.
In other news…
- The Washington Post: Trump defends Charlottesville comments by praising a Confederate general
- Vox: “This was a coup”: Trump escalates his authoritarian rhetoric
- The Daily Beast: Russian Agent Maria Butina Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison: ‘I Destroyed My Own Life’
- CNN: Connolly threatens to jail Trump officials who won’t comply with subpoenas
The Washington Post: Pentagon set to expand military role along southern border
- NPR: Court Orders Administration To Identify Separated Migrant Children Within 6 Months
- The Hill: Biden raises $6.3M in first 24 hours after campaign launch
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. 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 our newsletter or joining our community chatroom where you can talk news with our team and other like-minded individuals: