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COMMENTARY

Here Are 7 Bombshells From the NYT’s Devastating Report of Trump’s ‘War’ on the Investigations Into Him

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For more than two years, the public has known of serious allegations that President Donald Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia as it carried out an allegedly criminal operation to influence the 2016 American election. And for much of that time, Trump himself had unrelentingly attacked those raising questions about the matter and any investigators who dare probe the issue.

And as the investigations around Trump have multiplied, the president has likewise expanded his attacks.

In a new in-depth report Tuesday on Trump’s efforts to intimidate and defame the investigators, The New York Times documented many new and revealing details of this campaign. While some of the information has been made public before, its narrative account gives new life to both familiar and previously unknown facts that may one day provide the basis for an obstruction of justice charge against the president.

Here are 7 key claims from the report:

1. Trump pressured Whitaker to install a crony to oversee the SDNY investigation.

The Times reported that after installing Matthew Whitaker as the acting Attorney General,  Trump asked him to put a political appointee, Geoffrey Berman, in charge of the investigation into him and his campaign at the Southern District of New York. Whitaker refused,  according to the report, because Berman was already recused from the case, infuriating Trump.

2. Attorneys for the president dangled pardons to both Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.

The Times reported:

One of Mr. Trump’s lawyers also reached out that summer to the attorneys for two of his former aides — Paul J. Manafort and Mr. Flynn — to discuss possible pardons. The discussions raised questions about whether the president was willing to offer pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the Mueller investigation.

Reports have previously indicated that Trump’s attorney may have floated the possibility of a pardon to his former aides. But it is particularly significant and yet curiously ignored, given that many experts believe using the possibility of a pardon to silence a witness could potentially be seen as obstruction of justice.

3. Even though Michael Flynn resigned voluntarily, Trump pushed the falsehood that he asked for Flynn’s resignation.

In a somewhat confusing passage, the Times indicated that after Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, resigned in light of the revelation that he lied about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, the president decided to falsely claim that he asked for Flynn’s resignation. Trump’s supposed termination of Flynn has been widely reported as fact, but, according to the report, it appears to be false.

4. White House lawyers warned about Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s spreading of misinformation.

Spicer did damage control for the White House after Flynn left, which included spreading the apparent lie about his resignation. And according to the report, White House lawyers were concerned about Spicer’s spreading of misinformation, including the false claim that an investigation had exonerated Flynn from any legal wrongdoing. (Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.) The lawyers reportedly compiled Spicer’s false statements in a memo.

5. Trump claims Rod Rosenstein told him the Michael Cohen investigation had nothing to do with him.

According to the report, when Cohen’s properties were raided as a part of the investigation that ultimately led to his conviction on multiple counts, Trump told his advisers that the deputy attorney general had assured him the case had nothing to do with him. Since it has been revealed that prosecutors believe the president directed Cohen to carry out a campaign finance crime and that he lied to Congress about the Trump Organization’s dealings with Russia, Trump now reportedly believes Rosenstein may have deliberately misled him.

6. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and other Trump allies decided in July 2017 to actively undermine Mueller.

Many of Trump’s most fervent political allies in Congress have consistently tried to run interference for the president as investigations encircle him, often trying to paint the FBI as the bad guys. The Times reported that this effort began as an explicit plan by Gaetz.

“He called Representative Jim Jordan, a conservative Republican from Ohio, and told him the party needed ‘to go play offense,’ Mr. Gaetz recalled in an interview,” the report said. “The two men believed that Republican leaders, who publicly praised the appointment of Mr. Mueller, had been beaten into a defensive crouch by the unending chaos and were leaving Democrats unchecked to ‘pistol whip’ the president with constant accusations about his campaign and Russia.

7. Trump has gone after Mueller and the Russia investigation more than 1,100 times in public.

While any American paying attention to the news will know that Trump has repeatedly attacked Mueller and his investigation, the Times documented in rigorous detail the scale of the extent of the effort. It also showed clearly that, on average, these attacks have been increasing over time.

RELATED: REVEALED: TRUMP ASKED HIS ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL TO APPOINT A LOYALIST TO OVERSEE MAJOR SDNY INVESTIGATIONS

 

Image by U.S. Department of State via Flickr and a CC license

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COMMENTARY

‘She’s in a Cult’: George and Kellyanne Conway Are ‘Increasingly Distant’ and Jared Kushner Wants Her Gone: Report

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White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and her husband, conservative attorney George Conway, are not the first political couple with different views. But the others — Democratic strategist James Carville and outspoken conservative Mary Matalin, “Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC — haven’t displayed near as extreme a cleavage as the Conways. And journalist Gabriel Sherman examines the Conways’ radically different views on President Donald Trump and some of the fallout this week in a Vanity Fair report.

Kellyanne Conway is one of Trump’s most aggressive defenders, while her husband is a Never Trump conservative who absolutely despises the president. Sherman reports that according to “three sources close to George,” the Conways’ relationship has “become increasingly distant as impeachment has gained steam.”

A Republican insider, quoted anonymously, told Vanity Fair that George Conway “tells people she’s in a cult.” And another source identified by Sherman as “close to George” told Vanity Fair, “It’s not going to get better until she’s cast out of the cult.”

Sherman reports, “Sources say George currently spends much of the time working out of Manhattan. When he sees Kellyanne in Washington, they rarely talk about Trump, except for some ‘passive-aggressive digs,’ a person familiar with the conversations told me.”

Trump, Sherman notes, is furious over George Conway’s relentless attacks, and White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner — according to a Sherman source — has pushed for his father-in-law to force Kellyanne Conway out of the administration because of her husband.

“Jared wants her gone. There’s real friction,” a White House source told Vanity Fair. And another anonymous source also described friction between Kellyanne Conway and Kushner, saying, “Kellyanne has complained that Jared has tried to do a number on her from day one.”

 

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COMMENTARY

Franklin Graham Unleashes Angry Rant About Trump Impeachment – Then Quotes the Bible: ‘The Lord Detests Lying Lips’

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Evangelical activist Franklin Graham, who is closely tied to President Donald Trump, is once again defending the Commander-in-Chief, and once again is twisting truth into a prayerful pretzel to do so.

This may be the most consequential week yet in the 146 week-long presidency of Donald Trump.

Starting Wednesday the House Intelligence Committee will hold open hearings for three administration officials who are expected to testify on live television across major cable news channels and broadcast networks that the President of the United States of America engaged in a systematic and sustained effort of extortion and bribery in an attempt to force a U.S. ally to manufacture false evidence against his top political opponent.

The hearings will give equal time to Democrats and Republicans, and the public will be able to decide for themselves if they believe the evidence against the president warrants impeachment.

But not according to Franklin Graham, who has been using his reported $765 million evangelical empire, as The New Yorker reported last year, to become “the most vociferous evangelical ally of Donald Trump.”

Graham is defending the President to his 8 million Facebook followers by misappropriating the words of the highly respected and revered journalist Bill Moyers as a weapon against the truth.

“Long-time journalist Bill Moyers said Sunday that for the first time in his life, he fears for the nation’s survival. Why? ‘Society, a democracy, can die of too many lies…’ I agree with him 100% on that—we just don’t agree on the source of the problem,” Graham wrote on Facebook Tuesday.

“For two years day after day, night after night, we heard Russian collusion—lie after lie, pushed by the liberal media,” he claimed.

Except collusion was not investigated – criminal conspiracy was.

“There was no determination on “collusion” — and there may have been at least some evidence pointing to possible conspiracy,” The Washington Post reported after Mueller testified before Congress in July.

“Then it was Ukraine and the whistleblower,” Graham continues, apparently having not watched the news for the past month or two.

“Bill Moyers shares in the interview that his ‘hope’ is that as citizens watch the impeachment hearings (which are totally partisan), they will ‘begin to doubt’ in President Donald J. Trump so there can be a shift that would sway the 2020 election.”

To be clear again: the House hearings this week will give equal time to Republicans and Democrats alike.

It is at best inaccurate, at worst a lie to say the hearings are “totally partisan.”

“It’s all about politics and winning the election, they don’t care about anything else,” he continues, falsely.

In fact, Democrats had to be forced to begin impeachment inquiry (sadly) because they were afraid impeaching Trump could hurt them in 2020.

“They are scared to death of conservative values and threatened because President Trump can’t be pushed around and intimidated politically or personally.,” Graham claims, ignoring how the world’s dictators do just that. Dictators like Turkey’s President Erdogan, Russia’s President Putin, and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

(While we’re on the topic, “conservative values,” which President Trump by no means upholds, are damaging to society. As one study showed, children (regardless of sexual orientation) raised in conservative areas are more likely to attempt suicide than their peers raised in more liberal environments.)

“The lies of the progressive left and the hyper-liberal media are what is a serious threat to the future of our nation,” Graham claims, offering not an iota of proof.

“The Bible tells us, ‘The Lord detests lying lips…’ (Proverbs 12:22),” he concludes.

Graham should look in the mirror.

 

 

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COMMENTARY

Donald Trump Jr. Went on ‘The View’ – It Didn’t Go Well

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Donald Trump, Jr. and his partner Kimberly Guilfoyle went on ABC’s “The View” Thursday morning. It did not go well for the president’s eldest son and his partner.

How bad?

The Daily Beast called it “a Total Shitshow.”

It was.

Jr. is currently promoting his new book which blatantly attacks the left: “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.”

He was confronted by View co-host Meghan McCain, whose father died after a prolonged battle with brain cancer, and who was attacked and mocked for years by candidate and then President Donald Trump.

“You and your family have hurt a lot of people,” McCain charged, specifically referring to Gold Star families, but more broadly as well. “Does all of this make you feel good?”

Related: ‘That’s a Lie!’: The View’s Sunny Hostin Blasts Donald Trump Jr as He Sputters Excuses for Quid Pro Quo

Trump Jr.’s response?

“We got into this because we wanted to do what’s right for America.”

That right there shows just how warped Donald Trump Jr.’s sensibilities are: hurting Americans, especialy Gold Star families, is, in his mind, “what’s right for America.”

Not satisfied, McCain pressed on.

“Character in politics, I believe is important. It’s how I was raised.”

Interestingly, Trump Jr. pivoted to putting McCain’s blame to just his father, saying he “calls a lot of those Gold Star families.”

As every president does.

Co-host Abby Huntsman also went after Jr., for outing the alleged whistleblower whose action directly led to an impeachment inquiry of his father. Whistleblowers are federally protected and this one asked to keep their identity anonymous to avoid attacks.

Releasing the whistleblower’s name is “something that dictators do,” Huntsman said. “The whole point of releasing a name is to intimidate someone, threaten someone, and to scare other people from coming out.”

“I’ve lived in China, I’ve seen that first hand, that’s not what America does, that’s not what we do. We stand by our people.”

Junior’s defense?

“I don’t think I should have to forgo my First Amendment rights.”

The First Amendment has nothing to do with this.

His other defense: he’s a “private citizen.”

That’s not exactly correct. He’s a public figure, and he’s the son of a sitting president. Responsibility comes with both.

Jr. also suggested the whistleblower was a CIA official so somehow deserved being attacked but the Trump family has been sent “white powder,” and didn’t deserve it. He wanted to know why the left was not equally outraged.

Co-host Joy Behar had the perfect response: “He asked to be anonymous. Your family did not.”

Co-host Sonny Hostin reminded Trump Jr. that outing a whistleblower is a federal crime.

Junior said it’s not.

“My law degree says it is,” Hostin responds.

Kimberly Guilfoyle then outright lied.

“The President of the United States released the transcript of exactly what happened in that phone call. The whistleblower is giving his opinion, or her opinion, of what transpired,” she claimed.

The transcript has not been released. In fact, the call summary released by the White House, which is damning as it is for the president, says it is not a transcript.

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