A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 99th 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 99.
“Two years after Donald Trump won the presidency, nearly every organization he has led in the past decade is under investigation.” – The Washington Post, December 15, 2018
The Trump Organization. The Trump Foundation. The Trump Campaign. The Trump Transition. The Trump Inaugural Committee. The Trump Administration. All of the above are under investigation.
Although it’s been clear to many Americans for years, as the weeks unfold, the Trump brand is beginning to look more like a collapsing criminal organization than an American success story. President Trump claims these investigations are witch hunts in search of a crime, but when so many organizations he’s led come under criminal investigation, perhaps something is wrong with his conduct and not the rule of law itself.
The president is plagued by a mountain of investigations. We have the two campaign finance felonies Trump was implicated in by his former fixer Michael Cohen, who is now serving jail time due to prosecution by U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of New York (SDNY). Manhattan prosecutors are probing President Trump’s inaugural committee for potentially misspending the $107 million they raised and whether there were illegal donations from middle eastern nations. The New York Attorney General is probing illegal conduct on the part of the Trump Foundation. The Attorneys General of the District of Columbia and Maryland are leading a civil emoluments clause case into the Trump Organization – investigating whether President Trump is violating the constitution by profiting from the presidency. And of course, there is Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the potential conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government (and now, middle eastern nations) as well as obstruction of justice.
Five Trump associates have pleaded guilty to Robert Mueller. American Media, Inc. CEO, and longtime Trump ally David Pecker, as well as Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, were granted immunity by federal prosecutors in New York. And given what we know about the Trump Organization’s past of defrauding customers, there is much to be uncovered on that front. Important to note, some forget Donald Trump paid a $25 million settlement after winning the presidency for defrauding customers with Trump University.
Needless to say, as it’s been reported, President Trump is rightfully worried about potential impeachment. But, he should also worry about possible indictment after he leaves office if he loses in 2020, according to legal experts.
Polling this week indicated that the majority of Americans think Donald Trump has been untruthful about the Russia investigation. The American people are growing tired of having a grifter sitting in the highest office in the land. They proved this sentiment in the 2018 midterm elections and it’s very likely they will do so once more in 2020 (if he’s on the ticket).
Let’s dive into yet another 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. If you like the work we do, please consider supporting us by making a one-time donation or signing up for a monthly subscription.
Who Will Captain The Sinking Ship?
Day 690: Monday, December 10
On Monday, President Trump’s search for a new Chief of Staff was…not going well, to say the least. John Kelly, the President’s chief of staff, is set to be out by the end of the month, marking yet another departure in a Trump Cabinet already full of them. If White House rumors are to be believed, Kelly’s departure was a long time coming. When appointed, Kelly was widely seen as the premier “adult in the room,” someone who would keep Trump away from his worst impulses and keep the country afloat. As we’ve seen over the last year, that was not the case.
The challenge was how to find a replacement, as it seemed no one was keen on the job. Nick Ayers, chief of staff to VP Mike Pence, was seen as a favorite for the job, but he refused and instead announced he would be leaving the White House entirely. Hard to blame him. Managing the West Wing is difficult enough; doing so for a president who is embroiled in corruption scandals, criminal investigations, and is constantly undermining government institutions makes it an impossible one.
CNN reported that President Trump felt humiliated and was “super pissed” about Ayers’ denial of the role.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and others in the Trump administration also signaled they weren’t all that eager to accept the role.
NEW: A source close to Mulvaney tells me he is no longer interested in COS job, Mnuchin and Lighthizer sending out same signals…. list of potential replacements for Kelly shrinking by the hour.
— Nancy Cook (@nancook) December 10, 2018
Mark Meadows just told me that he has NOT spoken to Trump about the chief job yet. He also would not say he would take the job if offered, calling that talk “premature” and saying Trump has a “long list of people” and he is “one of many.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 11, 2018
President Trump was searching for his 3rd Chief of Staff in less than 2 years as president. There is always a tweet for everything.
President Trump has just announced Chief of Staff John Kelly will be resigning at the end of the year.
This means Trump will have his 3rd Chief of Staff as he enters his 3rd year in office.
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) December 8, 2018
This is derived from a joint piece from Jossif Ezekilov and I on Monday of this week.
In other news…
- Rantt Media: Protecting Children From War: A Conversation With Dr. Samantha Nutt Of War Child USA
- The New York Times: Done With Michael Cohen, Federal Prosecutors Shift Focus to Trump Family Business
- The New York Times: With Power Grabs in the Midwest, G.O.P. Risks a 2020 Backlash
- NBC News: Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi sues Mueller, Justice, CIA, FBI, NSA for $350 million
- The Washington Post: Trump [false claims] Payments to silence women were a ‘simple private transaction,’ not illegal campaign contributions
- CNN: ‘I can’t breathe.’ Jamal Khashoggi’s last words disclosed in transcript, source says
- The New York Times: The Wooing of Jared Kushner: How the Saudis Got a Friend in the White House
- CNN: House Democrats may probe Kushner ties to Saudi crown prince
- The New York Times: Targets of U.S. Sanctions Hire Lobbyists With Trump Ties to Seek Relief
- Politico: Kavanaugh, Roberts side with liberal judges on Planned Parenthood case
Will There Be A Government Shutdown? Trump Says So
Day 691: Tuesday, December 11
Incredible argument unfolding now in front of the press between trump, Pelosi and Schumer over votes for border security. Pelosi keeps asking not to discuss it in front of the press. pic.twitter.com/pEEnFhuplY
— Vivian Salama (@vmsalama) December 11, 2018
The above photo epitomizes what we saw on Tuesday in the Oval Office. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and soon to be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) met with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to discuss the incoming challenge of coming to an agreement to fund the government. President Trump, baited by Senator Schumer, took a “my way or the highway” approach.
Save this clip
If a shutdown happens, & Trump tries to claim he does not own it, loop what he said to Schumer@realDonaldTrump—“If we don’t get what we want…I am proud to shut down the government for border security…I’m not going to blame you for it.” pic.twitter.com/SUd8gCc6zS
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) December 11, 2018
President Trump took on a new gaslighting strategy.
Trump’s new strategy: lie that much of the wall has already been built so when it doesn’t get funded, he can gaslight his base. https://t.co/c7dWXmHSu3
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) December 11, 2018
And Nancy Pelosi showcased why Democrats want her as Speaker.
— Tommy Keep Christ In Xtopher (@tommyxtopher) December 11, 2018
In the other news…
- Rantt Media: The Midterms Are Over. The Fight To Restore Decency Is Just Beginning.
- CNN: Accused Russian spy Maria Butina cooperating with federal prosecutors as part of plea deal
- The Guardian: Trump administration to strip pollution protections, harming vital wildlife
- CNN: Trump concerned about being impeached, sees it as a ‘real possibility,’ source says
- The Washington Post: Gap continues to widen between Trump and intelligence community on key issues
- CNBC: Mitch McConnell says the Senate will vote on criminal justice reform this month, handing victory to Trump
- Wall Street Journal: China Moves to Address U.S. Economic Concerns
- Politico: Trump administration hid report revealing Wells Fargo charged high fees to students
- NBC News: Michael Flynn’s lawyers ask judge for no jail time
- TIME Magazine did something really great.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) December 11, 2018
What Did Michael Cohen Tell Robert Mueller?
Day 692: Wednesday, December 12
President Trump’s former personal attorney/fixer Michael Cohen (also former RNC Deputy Finance Chairman and Trump Organization Executive) has been sentenced to 3 years in prison. The Wednesday sentencing included crimes President Trump is implicated in.
This came after Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 counts that include bank fraud, tax fraud, and campaign finance violations. The Southern District of New York’s court filing this past Friday then indicated “Individual 1” (the President of the United States) was officially implicated in Cohen’s two campaign finance felonies. The National Enquirer has also admitted to the fact this was done in coordination the Trump campaign, as they struck a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorneys in the SDNY.
In his speech in court, Michael Cohen emotionally apologized for lying and claimed he was setting out to do the right thing. Cohen also took aim at the man he once said he would take a bullet for:
“I take full responsibility for each act that I pled guilty to: the personal ones to me and those involving the President of the United States of America…Recently the president tweeted a statement calling me weak, and it was correct, but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again i felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”
The crimes Donald Trump were implicated in were the hush money payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels which were directed personally by then-candidate Trump himself in 2016. Upon Trump’s request, the National Enquirer paid former Playboy Model Karen McDougal $150,000 to purchase and suppress the story about her 2006 affair with Donald Trump. Cohen made the $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy himself. These were considered illegal campaign contributions.
This investigation was originally referred to the SDNY by Special Counsel Robert Mueller upon discovering evidence of his wrongdoing. Part of the reason his sentence was lower than recommended was due to his cooperation with Mueller. Which should even further worry the President.
Special Counsel’s Office prosecutor Jeannie S. Rhee said that Cohen provided “credible” and “valuable information” regarding “any links between a campaign and a foreign government.”
“Mr. Cohen has sought to tell us the truth,” Rhee said.
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) December 12, 2018
Although there is much debate among legal experts about whether a sitting President can be indicted, there is no question as to whether he can be indicted after he leaves office.
In other news…
- NBC News: Incoming New York attorney general plans wide-ranging investigations of Trump and family
- Reuters: Exclusive: Trump says he is not concerned about being impeached, defends payments to women
- The Atlantic: Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees
- Politico: Senate votes to overturn Trump donor disclosure rule
- The Hill: House passes $867 billion farm bill, sending it to Trump
- ABC News: Trump uses France terror attack to call for more US border security
Whose Interests Does Donald Trump Represent?
Day 693: Thursday, December 13
Thursday brought us a whirlwind of developments. First, there was the Senate’s approval of resolutions that recommended the U.S. end their assistance to Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and blamed Mohammed bin Salman for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
The Senate just sent a message:
Trump may let money buy him into supporting the atrocities perpetrated by Saudi Arabia in Yemen and MbS’ murder of Jamal Khashoggi, but the United States will not.
Bottom line: Donald Trump represents himself, not America. https://t.co/I7nA9vXWn7
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) December 13, 2018
There was the heartbreaking news of a 7-year-old migrant who died of dehydration and shock after being taken into the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol.
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) December 14, 2018
And then, there was…all of this.
—Maria Butina pleads guilty
—@thedailybeast: Mueller to outline Middle Eastern nations tried to help Trump win
—@MotherJones: Flynn spoke to Kislyak during camp about @POTUS-Moscow cooperation
—@NBCNews: Trump in room for hush $ pay
—@WSJ: Trump’s inaugural committee probed
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) December 13, 2018
In other news…
- NBC News: Russian operative Maria Butina pleads guilty to conspiracy
- NBC News: Trump was in the room during hush money discussions with tabloid publisher
- Wall Street Journal: Trump Inauguration Spending Under Criminal Investigation by Federal Prosecutors
- The New York Times: Trump Inaugural Fund and Super PAC Said to Be Scrutinized for Illegal Foreign Donations
- Mother Jones: Did Michael Flynn Try to Strike a Grand Bargain With Moscow as It Attacked the 2016 Election?
- The Daily Beast: Get Ready for Mueller’s Phase Two: The Middle East Connection
“Witnesses affiliated with the Trump campaign have been questioned about their conversations with… individuals from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Israel…”
The story was always bigger than Russia. It’s about various regimes trying to purchase the Trump presidency. https://t.co/oe4tqt7qqf
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) December 13, 2018
- Fox News: Trump cancels White House Christmas party for the press
- Rantt Media: Right-Wing Nationalism Has Become A Collaborative International Enterprise
- CNN: Gun deaths in US reach highest level in nearly 40 years, CDC data reveal
Did President Trump Collude With The Russian Government?
Day 694: Friday, December 14
Short answer: it’s very likely. Long answer: There is a great deal of circumstantial evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government. There are also direct communications that prove the Trump campaign was very receptive to Russia’s efforts to help candidate Trump. What we don’t yet have is the smoking gun that proves there was a formal agreement to commit a criminal conspiracy and how much Trump knew about it. But Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s work is far from over. Based on Mueller’s indictments, all available reporting, and public records, here’s a 6-minute-read of the important facts related to the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia, including my theory on the potential quid pro quo:
I don’t usually hype up my pieces but this is one my favorites I’ve written
After documenting every day of the Trump presidency and covering Trump-Russia for over 2 years, here’s a chronological, digestible read of the entire Trump-Russia collusion storyhttps://t.co/ghhwoBFj0D
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) December 14, 2018
In other news…
- Vox Exclusive: Paul Manafort advised White House on how to attack and discredit investigation of President Trump
- ProPublica: Trump’s Inauguration Paid Trump’s Company — With Ivanka in the Middle
- ABC News: Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen says Trump knew it was wrong to make hush-money payments during campaign
- NBC News: Mueller memo says Flynn’s lies were ‘voluntary and intentional’
- Bloomberg: U.S. Investigating Death of 7-Year-Old Migrant Girl in Custody
- Politico: George Papadopoulos considering run for Congress
- Over the weekend, President Trump ranted about the Mueller investigation throughout the week and spread his usual lies, but we chose not to link to them all and spread his message. But there is a reason why he’s paranoid.
- The Washington Post: Mounting legal threats surround Trump as nearly every organization he has led is under investigation
- NBC News: Poll: 62 percent say Trump isn’t telling the truth in Russia probe
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