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Here Are 5 Ways President Trump Behaves Like the Corrupt Leader of a Banana Republic

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Whenever John Dean, Jill Wine-Banks, Dan Rather or Carl Bernstein are asked to discuss President Donald Trump’s controversies on CNN or MSNBC, a word that inevitably comes up is “Watergate.” Wine-Banks was a Watergate prosecutor in the 1970s, while Rather and Bernstein reported on Watergate extensively as journalists—and Dean served as White House counsel under the Richard Nixon Administration. Dean and Bernstein appeared together on CNN on November 20, discussing the revelation that Trump urged the Department of Justice to pursue criminal charges against Democrat Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey.

Dean told CNN, “If I had to channel a little of Richard Nixon, I think he’d tell this President he’s going too far. This is the sort of stuff of a banana republic….This is a level Richard Nixon never went to, where you went after somebody’s personal well-being by a criminal prosecution.” And Dean didn’t get any argument from fellow Watergate-era veteran Bernstein, who denounced Trump’s actions as exemplary of his “abuse of presidential power” and his “embrace of authoritarianism.”

Certainly, “banana republic” are strong words, but in Trump’s case, they are appropriate. Here are five ways in which President Trump has conducted himself like the leader of a corrupt banana republic.

1. Relentless Demonizing of the Press

In a democratic republic, the press is meant to serve as an aggressive watchdog—and most U.S. presidents have understood that, even when they felt the press was being unfair. President Barack Obama was visibly annoyed at Fox News at times, but he respected their 1st Amendment rights and realized that he wasn’t exempt from the media’s scrutiny. Trump, however, has repeatedly denounced the press as the energy of the people—even when CNN reporters were receiving death threats, even after the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. CNN reporter Jim Acosta, whose White House press credentials were revoked after the midterms, never received death threats before Trump’s presidency—now, Acosta has noted, he receives them regularly.

2. Undermining a Federal Criminal Investigation

In democracies, even sitting presidents are not exempt from the rule of law—which is why President Richard Nixon probably would have been removed from office via the impeachment process had he not resigned on August 8, 1974 (Trump faced articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives, but he stepped down before a Senate trial could come about). Trump, however, views himself as exempt from the scrutiny of the U.S. Justice Department. Furious with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia-related investigation, Trump fired him after the 2018 midterms and replaced him with loyalist Matt Whitaker—who just happens to be an outspoken opponent of the investigation. This is very much the type of corrupt behavior one would expect from the leader of a banana republic.

3. Interference with Election Results and Voting Rights

Trump not only promotes blatant voter suppression in predominantly non-white areas that are more favorable to Democrats than Republicans—he also favors voiding election results that he disagrees with. Requesting a recount is perfectly legitimate; in the 2018 Florida Senate race, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson wouldn’t concede to Gov. Rick Scott without a recount. But when the recount showed a narrow victory for Scott, Nelson conceded defeat. Trump, however, wanted to throw out the election results in the 2018 Arizona Senate race when Democrat Kyrsten Sinema narrowly pulled ahead of Republican Martha McSally.

On November 8, Trump tweeted, “Just out — in Arizona, SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH. Electoral corruption – Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!” There was no evidence whatsoever that Sinema’s supporters had committed any type of voter fraud; regardless, Trump went way beyond asking for a recount—he wanted a “new election.” But McSally, to her credit, rejected Trump’s conspiracy theory nonsense and eventually conceded to Sinema.

4. Pardoning Cronies, However Egregious Their Actions

In Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio (an outspoken Trump supporter) conducted himself like a dictator or an authoritarian rather than a democratically elected law enforcement official. But the system of checks and balances worked when Arpaio lost a bid for reelection and faced misdemeanor contempt of court charges for refusing to comply with a judge’s orders to cease traffic stops that specifically targeted Latino drivers. Arpaio faced up to half a year in jail, but he was spared incarceration when Trump gave him a presidential pardon in 2017. Chiraag Bains, a senior fellow at Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program, asserted that Trump’s pardon of Arpaio was disturbing not only because it was an “endorsement of racism,” but also, because it “reflects Trump’s deep disdain for the judiciary and its role in our system of checks and balances.”

5. Shameless Monetization of the Presidency

When Trump was campaigning for president in 2016, he promised that there would be a strict separation of his business interests and his political activity. But not unlike a family dynasty in a banana republic—for example, the Somoza family in Nicaragua—the Trump family has monetized the White House. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were appointed as top White House aides. And in July 2017, Mother Jones noted that neither of them had fully divested from their real estate holdings. Not only has President Trump failed to “drain the swamp”—he has made it much more toxic.

 

Image: DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

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COMMENTARY

Tucker Carlson Serves Up 12-Minute Long Homophobic Hate-Filled Rant Attacking Pete Buttigieg Over ‘Equity’

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Fox News is the most-watch cable “news” channel in America, and Tucker Carlson hosts the network’s most-watched show. Those are facts, and disturbing ones for the majority of Americans who do not watch the far right-wing extremist channel or its top personality.

Take, for instance, Carlson’s attack on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Thursday night, a 12-minute long homophobic, hate-filled rant with a focus on attacking the very core of Democratic and progressive ideals: the belief that everyone is equal and everyone deserves a chance at the American dream, and government is a means to help achieve those goals, goals literally written in the Declaration of Independence.

“Tucker Carlson brutally mocked Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg as an unqualified ‘kid’ who ‘breastfeeds, and has no business running the agency,” Mediaite reports.

Not the first time Carlson has attacked Buttigieg – and by extension, every LGBTQ person – for having children, being a responsible and loving parent who took time off from work, time off that is granted under federal law, to care for his newborn twins with his husband.

To Carlson, Buttigieg was chosen by the President of the United States only because he is gay, as part of some Democratic master plan to diminish or eradicate straight white men.

“Today the Transportation Department which is now run by Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, finally told us,” Carlson told his right-wing viewers, “effective immediately we learned this country will undergo a quote, paradigm shift in the way we think about infrastructure. Now, hold on you’ve probably noticed by this point, the moment paradigms start shifting you can be certain a whole lot of people are about to get shafted. Nothing personal, it’s just the nature of paradigms. They don’t just shift. They tend to topple over and crush innocent bystanders.”

Those “innocent bystanders,” Carlson wants his viewers to think, are his viewers.

In reality, what Buttigieg and the Dept. of Transportation are saying, as evidenced by the very clips Carlson played in his monologue, is that the Transportation Dept. recognizes that every decision it makes has an impact on the climate and people. So they are working to make the more equitable – including making sure that decisions are fair to everyone, not just straight white men – and safer.

Carlson then literally attacked and mocked “the safety of our children and our families.”

That’s the massive “paradigm shift” Carlson is threatened by – well, he’s a multi-millionaire from a wealthy familky who may run for president at some point so he’s fine. He just wants his viewers to feel threatened by anyone who’s not white. Or not straight.

“Joe Biden hired a kid,” Carlson lied, “who had never had a real job outside McKinsey [Consulting] and no grounding of any kind in physical reality.”

Pete Buttigieg, as many people know, served in Afghanistan for the U.S. Navy, from 2009-2017, including in the Reserves, as a Lieutenant in a counterterrorism unit. He’s also a Harvard grad and a Rhodes Scholar. He’s worked on numerous political campaigns, and at McKinsey for three years.

He was also elected as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Twice.

Which Carlson quickly attacked.

“When Pete Buttigieg was mayor, the city had, and we’re quoting now, the worst pothole situation in the state according to the local paper. Huge potholes. So big that Mayor Pete – not a tall man – could’ve disappeared into one. You can picture his little legs up in the air. Eight years as mayor, and he was never able to fix it.”

He added, cackling, “This guy, who literally couldn’t fix the potholes in South Bend, Indiana, is now the transportation secretary. But he breastfeeds so it’s equity! It’s unbelievable!”

Carlson was far from done.

“The mindset is the problem here. And it’s not just Mayor Pete. He’s easy to mock because he’s a ludicrous figure. But it’s all the people like him who believe that our economy and is based on social media apps and HR departments.”

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COMMENTARY

Fox News Host’s Inaccurate Reporting Leads to False Right-Wing Speculation Breyer Was Forced Out

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Barely minutes before 12:00 noon on Wednesday NBC News’ Pete Williams broke the news that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was going to announce he is retiring, at the end of the term.

Hours later Fox News host Shannon Bream breathlessly tweeted, “Multiple sources tell me Justice Breyer was not planning to announce his retirement today. They describe him as ‘upset’ with how this has played out. We still await any official notice from his office and/or the #SCOTUS public information office.”

That was 2:41 PM.

Her tweet was inaccurate – based on her own reporting, about a half-hour later.

At 3:14 PM Bream “clarified” her reporting, making clear that Justice Breyer “firmly decided” to retire on his own, and was merely “surprised” that a top-notch veteran Supreme Court reporter broke the news:

Her first tweet has received thousands of retweets and likes and led to false speculation among many right-wingers (adding to the already false claims from the far right) that President Joe Biden forced Justice Breyer out the door – something impossible (unless you do over a billion dollars in business with a bank where the son of a Supreme Court Justice works.)

Too late, the damage is done. Ordinarily many reporters will delete tweets that are inaccurate or wrong, then post the reason why, and a correction. Bream did not.

Related: Fox News Host Asks How We Can Tell ‘Bad Guys’ If We Can’t See ‘Tone Of Their Skin’?

Over at the right-wing National Review, senior writer Charles C. W. Cooke posted an article titled: “Did the Democratic Party Preempt Justice Breyer’s Announcement to Force His Hand?”

Its only content: Bream’s inaccurate tweet and the words, “It certainly seems possible.”

Here are more results of Bream’s inaccurate reporting:

Chief political correspondent, Washington Examiner and Fox News contributor Byron York:

Another Washington Times columnist and a SiriusXMPatriot personality:

Former senior advisor to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC):

Blogger at right wing website Hot Air:

Radio talk show host:

 

 

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COMMENTARY

Watch: Trump Says He Will Be the ’47th President’ – Is He Skirting Federal Campaign Finance Law?

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In video posted Wednesday to Instagram Donald Trump appears to say he will be the “47th President,” which would indicate once again he has decided to run again.

That video (below) was also reported by the New York Post, which notes, “Trump hasn’t publicly said if he is planning to run for the White House again — but he has repeatedly teased a second campaign and has been holding rallies ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.”

The right wing PJ Media adds, “this might have been the ultimate Freudian slip,” and says it suggests a re-election campaign.

Trump has not officially announced he will run for several reasons, as Rolling Stone explained last October:

Trump very much seems like he is running for president in 2024, which according to campaign finance law should prohibit him from coordinating with super PACs like MAGAA, or his leadership PAC Save America, which together brought in north of $80 million in the first half of this year. Trump is able to coordinate with those PACs, though — and use their money to finance his travel, his campaign-style rallies, his God knows what else — because he hasn’t yet officially declared his candidacy. The former president is then, in essence, running what appears to be a shadow campaign designed to skirt campaign finance regulations while holding the still-distant race for the Republican nomination hostage.

“As long as Trump doesn’t explicitly announce he’s running for president,” Rolling Stone added, “he can essentially raise as much money as he wants from whomever he wants, and spend it unfettered by the restrictions or transparency requirements imposed upon actual candidates.”

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