A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 125th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

This week, Trump welcomed unlawful foreign election interference, Barr continued his witch hunt, and Republicans remained accomplices in authoritarianism.

Top from left: President Trump shakes Russian President Putin's hand in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018 (AP). Bottom from left: Attorney General William Barr and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Wikimedia Commons)

Top from left: President Trump shakes Russian President Putin’s hand in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018 (AP). Bottom from left: Attorney General William Barr and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Wikimedia Commons)

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 125.

There’s a growing sense that our institutions are failing us. The constitutional guardrails that were put in place by the Founding Fathers to protect against the lawlessness we are witnessing today are not being enforced. President Trump and Attorney General William Barr are attempting to create a presidency that more closely aligns with an autocracy than a democracy. The power-hungry Republican Party stands firmly behind them, willing to erode our republic for short-term greed. The Democratic Party is moving forward with caution, believing it’s too soon for impeachment. How far will America slide before Trump leaves office? Will he leave office?

This week, Barr escalated his investigation into Trump’s perceived political opponents. Barr is currently investigating the very same people that Trump has falsely accused of treason. Barr has moved beyond just an investigation into whether there was improper surveillance on the Trump Campaign (there wasn’t) and is now probing the CIA’s Russian interference assessment. It appears Barr believes it wasn’t enough to wrongfully try and clear Trump of obstruction of justice and that he now must cast doubt on the investigation itself.

While Barr seeks to undermine the Russia investigation and the rule of law, Trump is proving why they are so important. Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he would accept dirt on a political opponent from a foreign power. The FEC chair rightfully pointed out that this would be illegal. Trump defended the comments before attempting to do a half-walk back, but the damage was already done. Foreign powers, including Russia, know they have a candidate who will once again be receptive to their assistance.

Trump believes he got away with his coordination of Wikileaks drops in the 2016 election, and therefore can do something similar in 2020. Perhaps it’s his horrible poll numbers in battleground states leading him to call for help. Or perhaps he’s just addicted to collusion. One thing is for sure: as long as Trump avoids some form of accountability, this corrupt behavior will heighten in intensity.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been bragging about how he will not put any pieces of Democratic legislation up for a vote, as he and his wife are caught up in new corruption scandals. With the exception of Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), the Republican Party has remained behind President Trump as he grows significantly more unhinged and blatant in his undemocratic activities. Many in the Democratic Party are beginning to call for an impeachment inquiry to show the country they will not stand for this. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has yet to budge.

By the weekend, President Trump was calling The New York Times treasonous and repeated his musings about serving a third term. Come 2020, it will be up to the American people if Trump even serves a second one.

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, completely ad-free, 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. 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:

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An Ineffective Hearing

Day 872: Monday, June 10

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and ranking Judiciary Member Rep. Doug Collins (D-GA) - (AP)

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and ranking Judiciary Member Rep. Doug Collins (D-GA) – (AP)

The argument for the necessity of impeachment just grew stronger, and it had nothing to do with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s evidence. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been pushing back on calls for impeachment, but today it became even clearer that it’s the best method to expose President Trump’s unprecedented corruption.

Today, the House Judiciary Committee held the first in what will be a series of hearings entitled “Lessons From the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes.” The hearing featured testimony from former White House Counsel John Dean, who famously testified against former President Richard Nixon during the Watergate hearings. Also in attendance were former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, former federal prosecutor Professor Barbara McQuade, and John Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation.

After opening statements from Nadler and Collins, John Dean compared specific findings in the Mueller report to Watergate. Subsequently, just like they do on MSNBC, Joyce Vance and Barbara McQuade did an excellent job outlining Trump’s obstruction and highlighting Mueller’s findings. John Malcolm, on the other hand, played the role of Trump defender and said of the President “…some laws apply differently to him and some don’t apply at all.” It appears Malcolm is a believer of the unitary executive theory, which Attorney General William Barr also espouses.

Throughout the hearing, House Republicans continued their sycophantic defenses of President Trump and showcased their lack of knowledge when it comes to Mueller’s report. The problem is, it’s unclear how many Americans actually saw this. Minutes before the hearing was set to begin at 2 pm ET, a helicopter crash-landed in Midtown Manhattan killing the pilot. This tragedy was rightfully covered by all networks for the full first hour, but after the coverage of the crash stopped, not many networks pivoted back to live footage of the hearing. CSPAN was the only channel who carried the hearing in full.

Impeachment hearings, however, command media attention in a way these hearings cannot – unless they manage to get Mueller to testify. Launching an impeachment inquiry is just as much about upholding the Constitution as it is about highlighting Trump’s corruption for the American people. The inquiry would not only give the House Judiciary Committee increased legal leverage by granting it grand jury powers, it would be broadcasted live on networks across the US.

A 448-page report is not the mechanism through which the American people will be able to process Mueller’s findings most effectively – if they even get around to reading it. A CNN poll in early May found that only 3% of Americans said they read the Mueller report in full. And as we’ve seen, not every lawmaker has read it either.

While Pelosi may point to recent court victories and the Justice Department’s recent agreement to surrender documents to the House Intelligence and House Judiciary Committees as a reflection of the success of her approach, it may be time for a shift in strategy. Slow-rolling impeachment made sense before Robert Mueller made his public statement, but the calculus now needs to change if the objective is to most effectively highlight Trump’s potential crimes ahead of 2020. Americans need to know why over 1,000 federal prosecutors believe President Trump would be indicted if it weren’t for the Office of Legal Counsel memos stating a President cannot be indicted.

In the other news…

2020 Democrats Ranked

Day 873: Tuesday, June 11

From top left: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders. (Official Photos)

From top left: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders. (Official Photos)

The Democratic primary field is historically crowded. With 24 voices vying to be the one to challenge Donald Trump for the White House next year, it can be hard to push through the noise and figure out which candidate is doing well and which one is not. Polls are one indicator, but they are subject to change week to week, and so can only tell us so much.

Introducing Rantt Media’s 2020 Democratic Candidate Power Rankings. Here we try to bring together a variety of factors to determine who is performing the best in their bid to be the next POTUS. Factors include: the candidates’ political experience, their actions on the campaign trail (how they did in campaign events and other notable occurrences on the trail), polls (unavoidable, but we try to look past the general numbers), their alignment with the Democratic base, and donor contributions, among others.

Read Rantt Editor Jossif Ezekilov’s Full Analysis

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“Russia, if you’re listening…”

Day 874: Wednesday, June 12

President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

He’s doing it again. President Trump just made remarks that can only be compared to his July 2016 “Russia, if you’re listening…” moment where he begged for the hacking of Hillary Clinton. In an interview with ABC News, President Trump said that he would accept dirt on a political opponent from a foreign power – which is against the law:

“It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it,” Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressman, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”

President Trump’s remarks not only invite Russia to interfere in American democracy again, it tells other foreign powers like Saudi Arabia that it’s open season in America. This isn’t the first time the Trump Administration has egged on future election meddling. White House Adviser Jared Kushner downplayed Russia’s interference and Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said there is nothing wrong with accepting information from Russians. This comes as the Trump Administration has done nothing to prevent Russia’s future election interference in 2020, as they look to repeat their successful interference of 2016.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report clearly outlines how Russia’s interfered in the 2016 election and how the Trump Campaign was receptive to it. 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.

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. It’s important to note that Trump has sided with Putin over the US intelligence community multiple times when it comes to his interference.

Mueller did not charge the Trump campaign with a criminal conspiracy but the report did outline over 100 pages of collusion evidence. The Trump Campaign was receptive to Russia’s help. It also included 10 key obstructive acts on the part of President Trump, which over 1,000 former federal prosecutors say Trump would be indicted for if he wasn’t President.

When Al Gore was sent George W. Bush’s stolen debate prep book, he immediately reported it to the FBI. When Donald Trump Jr. was offered dirt from Russia on the Hillary Clinton, he replied in an email with “I love it” and took the meeting. President Trump literally asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton and was on the phone coordinating future Wikileaks releases in 2016, according to the Mueller report. Now, Trump is once again welcoming foreign help. The question many are asking is, will he face any consequences for it?

In other news…

Twitter’s Failure

Day 875: Thursday, June 13

Twitter Co-Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee - September 5, 2018. (Source: Senator Mark Warner's Team)

Twitter Co-Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee – September 5, 2018. (Source: Senator Mark Warner’s Team)

What will Twitter executives, board members, and institutional shareholders do to cauterize the rise of white supremacy in America, and combat disinformation and interference in our elections?

If we hope to eradicate our country’s most dire ills, Twitter’s “health initiative” will need to provide real remedies, not just platitudes.

Read New Reporting From Rantt Contributor Nancy Levine

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Trump’s Instrument Of Authoritarianism

Day 876: Friday, June 14

President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr - May 15, 2019 (Office of Public Affairs from Washington DC)

President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr – May 15, 2019 (Office of Public Affairs from Washington DC)

Attorney General William Barr has positioned himself as President Trump’s instrument of authoritarianism. At Rantt media, we’ve heavily covered his democracy eroding actions. From his effort to unjustly clear Trump of obstruction of justice to his blatant lies about the Mueller report to his unprecedented stonewalling of Congress, Barr has become one of Trump’s most important allies. Now, Barr has taken it a step further by fulfilling one of Trump’s most undemocratic obsessions: investigating his perceived political opponents.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller didn’t start the Russia investigation, he finished it, documenting over 100 pages of Trump-Russia contacts and 10 key areas of obstruction of justice. Over 1,000 former federal prosecutors have signed a letter stating that Trump would be indicted for obstruction if he wasn’t President. In a predictable move of misdirection, Trump is now directing his ire at the members of law enforcement and the intelligence community who were involved in launching the Russia investigation in the Summer of 2016.

For two years, Trump has tweeted about how those behind the Russia investigation were corrupt, spread lies about spying on his campaign, and has even falsely accused former FBI Director James Comey, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI Agent Peter Strozk, and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page of treason. Barr is now investigating them.

In an interview with CBS, Barr stated that although he does not believe their actions were legally “treasonous,” he made remarks that appeared to indicate he believes they acted in a treacherous manner:

“I’m not suggesting that people did what they did necessarily because of conscious, nefarious motives. Sometimes people can convince themselves that what they’re doing is in the higher interest, the better good. They don’t realize that what they’re doing is really antithetical to the democratic system that we have.”

Those words apply directly to William Barr.

Barr has claimed he is now probing whether there was improper surveillance on the Trump Campaign and if there was any corrupt behavior at the FBI. The “Spygate” conspiracy theory has been widely debunked and the only improper behavior that the Trump Administration cites are Peter Strozk and Lisa Page’s anti-Trump text messages.

Those text messages don’t change the fact Trump Campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos bragged about Russia’s dirt on Clinton and sparked the Russia investigation. It also doesn’t alter the numerous nefarious Trump-Russia contacts and coordinated Wikileaks dumps of stolen Clinton emails that are outlined in Mueller’s report. The investigation was more than justified, but nevertheless, Barr persists in trying to appease the President’s authoritarian tendencies under the guise of the unitary executive theory.

Last month, Trump signed an executive order that empowers Barr to declassify any information pertaining to his investigation and orders the US Intelligence Community to cooperate with Barr. The New York Times reported that Barr is now seeking to interview CIA officials about their assessment that Russia interfered to help Trump get elected. So not only is Barr seeking to undermine the FBI investigators who probed Russian interference, it appears he is also trying to cast doubt on the proven conclusion that Russia interfered to help Trump win. You see where this is going?

The entire Republican Party, with the exception of Justin Amash, the only GOP Congressman to call for impeachment, has stood behind this bad faith investigation. Even Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to launch a probe of this nature. Given the dishonesty with which Attorney General William Barr has carried himself, it’s clear this will be just another attempt to protect a lawless president.

In other news…

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 completely ad-free. We 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:

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Unpresidented // 2020 / Donald Trump / Russian Interference / William Barr