A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 139th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

This week, President Trump's unprecedented authoritarian corruption has taken center stage as he once again solicits foreign election interference.
President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks on Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2019, at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo Shealah Craighead)

President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks on Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2019, at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo Shealah Craighead)

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 139.

Buckle up. This was one for the history books.

This week began with news of a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and further corroboration of Deborah Ramirez’s allegation. We already knew that the FBI’s investigation into Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misconduct was a sham and ignored crucial evidence, but this new information highlighted what was missed and the fact the Trump Administration purposely covered for Kavanaugh.

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing with Corey Lewandowski on President Trump’s obstruction of justice. Over the course of the hours-long hearing, Lewandowski went from defiant to disgraced, as Trump’s effort to get former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to curtail Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was outlined to the American people. In the end, Lewandowski was picked apart by the questioning of House Judiciary Committee majority counsel Barry Berke and his dishonesty was laid bare.

But that hearing had nothing on what was to come. What we learned happened on a phone call the day after Mueller’s hearing on July 24th could be the biggest corruption scandal of the Trump presidency. On July 25th, President Trump reportedly asked Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Rudy Giuliani admitted to the overall effort on CNN on Thursday night and over the weekend, President Trump confirmed he discussed Biden with the Ukrainian President.

The President of the United States, his personal attorney, and the United States Government have been actively and publicly pressuring a foreign power to dig up dirt on a political opponent and interfere in American democracy. We’ve known about this effort for months but this latest development makes it downright criminal, as it was a direct solicitation for something of value from a foreign national. And given the fact military aid was withheld for a time, some legal experts have claimed there is potential extortion and bribery liability.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration continued to ramp up their effort to engineer a conflict with Iran over the Saudi Arabia oil tanker attack.

Let’s dive into yet another Unpresidented week as we look forward to the weeks ahead and speculate as to whether President Trump will be held accountable for his actions.

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Where Our Gun Laws Fail

Day 970: Monday, September 16

Houston Gun show at the George R. Brown Convention Center (M&R Photography)

Houston Gun show at the George R. Brown Convention Center (M&R Photography)

Part 2 of a Rantt Series on gun violence in America.

The Small Arms Survey, based on 2017 data, estimated that the number of civilian-owned firearms in the United States had risen to some 393 million. More than any other country in the world by far: the country with the next highest number of civilian-owned guns was India—with just 71.1 million. To the rest of the world, it appears that Americans have an insatiable hunger for firearms.

In reality, gun ownership in America is more concentrated than the globally held view of a fully-saturated U.S. gun culture. Only some 42% of American households report having a firearm. According to a 2015 survey by public health researchers at Harvard and Northeastern Universities, a mere 3% of Americans owned approximately half of the firearms in the country.

As far as we know, that is. Recorded, legal transfers of firearms are one way of tracking the numbers. Self-reports from gun owners are another way. But private transfers of firearms may not be recorded or trackable, and unverified self-reports on gun ownership may not be accurate.

In order to solve the epidemic of gun violence in America, we need to analyze the failures of current laws in preventing guns from getting into the wrong hands.

Read The Full Article From Rantt Contributor Carol Armen

In other news…

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The Lewandowski Hearing

Day 971: Tuesday, September 17

Today’s House Judiciary hearing with Corey Lewandowski was a microcosm of the culture of corruption President Trump has cultivated and further proof that Trump’s coverup didn’t end with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. There were stonewalling tactics, Republicans pushing predictable conspiracy theories, and a blatant regurgitation of Trump’s false narratives. But nevertheless, the truth of President Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice still bled through while some lies and contradictions from Lewandowski were exposed.

This was the first hearing in what House Judiciary Democrats are calling an impeachment investigation into President Trump, and Lewandowski was the first fact witness who has complied with one of their subpoenas. Most members of the Trump administration have ignored every subpoena that has been issued by House Judiciary, including former White House Officials Rick Dearborn and Rob Porter, who were compelled to appear with Lewandowski.

In every step of the process, during the Mueller investigation to the congressional investigations that followed, the Trump administration has behaved as if its members have something to hide. President Trump even tried to corruptly assert “absolute” executive privilege over Lewandowski’s testimony in spite of the fact he’s never worked in the White House. Why? Because Lewandowski is a key player in one of the five obstructive acts outlined in the Mueller report that meets all three elements for obstruction of justice.

In a nutshell, Lewandowski was ordered by President Trump in summer 2017 to tell then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to curtail Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign. This is where House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) focused the majority of his opening statement and his fellow Democrats focused their questioning. Republicans, on the other hand, focused their time attacking the Obama administration, making false claims of spying on the Trump Campaign, and attempting to undermine Mueller’s investigation.

Read My Article In The Independent

In other news…

Debunking The Great Replacement Theory

Day 972: Wednesday, September 18

White supremacists march with torches through the UVA campus in Charlottesville, VA- Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 (Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

White supremacists march with torches through the UVA campus in Charlottesville, VA- Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 (Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

The false “Great Replacement” theory drives right-wing white supremacist terrorism while right-wing policies stoke the fears that allow the theory to thrive.

Read The Full Article From Rantt’s Politech Editor Greg Fish

In other news…

Biggest Corruption Scandal Of Trump’s Presidency

Day 973-974: Thursday, September 19 – Friday, September 20

President Trump (AP), Trump's Personal Lawyer Rudy Giuliani (Gage Skidmore/Flickr), and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (Vadim Chuprina)

President Trump (AP), Trump’s Personal Lawyer Rudy Giuliani (Gage Skidmore/Flickr), and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (Vadim Chuprina)

New Developments: Both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have reported that President Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden. WSJ says it was eight times in the July 25th phone call.

The Lede

This week, we finally gleaned insight into the whistleblower complaint that has captured the imagination and concerns of Washington. On Wednesday night, The Washington Post sent a jolt through the country when they reported that on August 12th, a whistleblower filed a complaint with the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General, Michael Atkinson.

The information we learned initially about what is inside the complaint was vague, indicating it concerned a “promise” made by President Trump to a foreign leader. The New York Times later reported that it was actually concerning “multiple acts” by Trump. But on Thursday, The Washington Post reported (The New York Times and ABC News also confirmed) some damning specifics:

A whistleblower complaint about President Trump made by an intelligence official centers on Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter, which has set off a struggle between Congress and the executive branch.

The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a “promise” that Trump made, which was so alarming that a U.S. intelligence official who had worked at the White House went to the inspector general of the intelligence community, two former U.S. officials said.

Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and political newcomer who was elected in a landslide in May.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has been making efforts to see the details of the whistleblower complaint for quite some time. On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee was briefed on this matter by Atkinson, but he said he was not authorized to speak in detail. Atkinson had previously sent the complaint, which Atkinson deemed “urgent,” to the acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) who sought guidance from the Justice Department. The Justice Department prevented the complaint from being disclosed to the House Intelligence Committee, even though it’s required to be by law.

Why is the Trump Administration so hell-bent on keeping this secret? Because on the call in question, Trump may have made a request for Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election in exchange for improved relations with the US. The Independent reported:

The house committees’ chairs say they will scrutinise a telephone call between the US president and Mr Zelensky on 25 July, during which Mr Trump allegedly told the Ukrainian president to reopen the Biden investigation if he wanted to improve relations with the US.

ABC News confirmed a readout of the call pertained to the investigation:

A more extensive readout from the Ukrainian president’s office, however, noted that the two also spoke about “investigations into corruption cases that have hampered interaction between Ukraine and the U.S.A.”

It has yet to be confirmed that the quid pro quo was the nature of the call, but if it was, it would be more damning than anything in the Mueller report.

If this account is true and Trump did indeed ask Ukraine to reopen their Biden investigation in exchange for improved relations, its much worse than anything Mueller uncovered. This would be using the power of the presidency to extort an ally in exchange for election assistance.

— Adam “there’s merit in not discussing that” (@aalali44) September 19, 2019

The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight Committees are currently investigating this. This call would be corrupt on its own, but what makes it worse is the fact it fits within the Trump Administration’s broader effort to push the Ukrainian government to pursue an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, who is the current frontrunner in the Democratic primary, and his son.

The Context

This all started in May, when Rudy Giuliani, with the full support of President Trump, announced that he was traveling to Ukraine to meet with the then-comedian turned President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky to try and get them to probe Joe Biden and his son.

In an interview with The New York Times, Giuliani attempted to claim this conduct was completely fine:

“We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do. There’s nothing illegal about it. Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

This trip was canceled soon after, but there was another development over the Summer that showed the effort was ongoing. In August, NBC News reported that Giuliani was able to secure meetings with a Ukrainian official and it was aided by the State Department:

Specifically, Giuliani has wanted Ukrainian officials to look into any impropriety related to the former vice president’s push to crack down on corruption in Ukraine and his son Hunter Biden’s involvement in a natural gas company there. Giuliani also sought to have Ukraine examine whether the Democratic National Committee worked in connection with Ukrainian officials to harm Trump’s 2016 campaign by releasing damaging information on the president’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

Giuliani has spoken with Ukrainian official Andriy Yermak, a lawyer and close ally of recently elected President Volodymyr Zelensky, on the phone and in an in-person meeting in Madrid over the last few weeks to encourage him to ramp up probes into the matters, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Trump’s attorney confirmed to NBC News that the State Department helped put him in touch with Yermak.

After this, President Trump suspended military aid to Ukraine. Many assumed it was the latest example of Trump doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding. It appears that is not the case. This move was reportedly tied to Trump’s effort to get the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden. The Washington Post reported:

Not only has Mr. Trump refused to grant the Ukrainian leader [President Volodymyr Zelensky] a White House visit, but also he has suspended the delivery of $250 million in U.S. military aid to a country still fighting Russian aggression in its eastern provinces.

Some suspect Mr. Trump is once again catering to Mr. Putin, who is dedicated to undermining Ukrainian democracy and independence. But we’re reliably told that the president has a second and more venal agenda: He is attempting to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. Mr. Trump is not just soliciting Ukraine’s help with his presidential campaign; he is using U.S. military aid the country desperately needs in an attempt to extort it.

The Trump Administration later reinstated the aid.

On Thursday night, Rudy Giuliani went on CNN and further confirmed this entire endeavor.

CNN’s @ChrisCuomo: “Did you ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?”@RudyGiuliani: “Of course I did”

President Trump’s attorney says he had spoken with a Ukrainian official about Joe Biden’s possible role in that government’s dismissal of a prosecutor who investigated Biden’s son. pic.twitter.com/hqmqtmx2VW

— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) September 20, 2019

The Analysis

This is all exactly what it sounds like. The President of the United States, his personal attorney, and the United States Government have been actively and publicly pressuring a foreign power to dig up dirt on a political opponent and interfere in American democracy.

President has welcomed foreign interference throughout his administration, and during his campaign. And in spite of the over 100 pages of collusion evidence in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Trump avoided a criminal conspiracy charge. But if this whistleblower compliant contains the President seeking a quid pro quo with Ukraine, that may change.

Over the weekend…

President Trump admitted that he did indeed discuss Joe Biden with the Ukrainian President and his Cabinet defended his position.

In other news…

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Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Joe Biden