‘I Am Confidant I Will Do So Again’
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo does not appear to be taking seriously the First Amendment concerns raised by his “faith-based media only” conference call that caused tremendous outrage last week. The Secretary banned all regular State Dept. press, all mainstream press, and invited only reporters from “faith-based” media outlets to attend.
Amid questioning from U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA), not only did Secretary Pompeo defend his decision to exclude all reporters except those from “faith-based” outlets, he promised to do it again.
Pompeo also refused the Congresswoman’s request to release a transcript of the call, or even the names of the invited participants, both of which would be standard operating procedure in any other administration. In fact, Congresswoman Wild called the decision to not release a transcript, “highly unusual.”
“To me, this instance raises concerns about First Amendment violations,” Rep. Wild noted. “The administration should not be granting some media outlets access to briefings, while selectively excluding others based on the administration’s preferences.”
Almost mockingly, Sec. Pompeo told Rep. Wild he talks to the press frequently, “and when I do I don’t release transcripts of those conversations.”
“Those are interviews that I grant to individual reporters. They write certain pieces of it and certain other pieces they don’t,” Pompeo said, glibly. “This was, this was no different from that in any material respect.”
“I am confident I will do so again,” he said, smugly.
Asked point-blank, “Will you release a transcript of that briefing?” Pompeo smugly replied, “No.”
“Will you identify who the participants were in that briefing?”
“No,” he again responded, smugly.
Pompeo went on to defend his positions by claiming “every Secretary of State that I’m aware of has done so consistently.” He mentioned several, but not Sec. Hillary Clinton.
Later in her questioning Rep. Wild questioned Pompeo on his trips to Iowa, Texas, and Kansas – areas political candidates visit to advance their political ambitions. He is rumored to be considering a run for the governorship of his home state of Kansas.
Apparently feeling that the questioning was somehow beneath him, Pompeo sarcastically replied, “Look, it’s true: I did not visit Martha’s Vineyard.”
What the Secretary refuses to admit or even acknowledge about his concerning conference call is that this was a briefing on “international religious freedom,” which means policy – and the American people have a right to know about policy the administration is enacting. More so, because Pompeo limited the call to “faith-based” outlets only, the appearance of a potential First Amendment violation is apparent. Based on a reported list of which outlets asked questions on that call, it appears no reporters from Muslim-based outlets were invited.
Secretary Pompeo is an evangelical Christian who has discussed the Rapture while speaking to a group of CIA officers while serving as the head of CIA, and he has framed battles in the Middle East as religious wars.
Rep. Wild: “Will you release a transcript of that briefing?
Secretary Pompeo: “No.”
Wild: “Will you identify who the participants were in that briefing?”
Pompeo: “No….It’s something that every Secretary of State that I’m aware of has done consistently…” pic.twitter.com/5MdDABp0Ul
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 27, 2019
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Trump Mocked for Melting Down Over Gen. Colin Powell Endorsing Biden: ‘Cadet Bone Spurs Says What?’
As might be expected, Donald Trump did not care for the comments made by former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell on CNN Sunday morning — including his endorsement of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States, so the president lashed out on Twitter.
With Powell calling out the president for his treatment of Gold Star families and accusing the president of being a “liar,” Trump tweeted back, ”Colin Powell, a real stiff who was very responsible for getting us into the disastrous Middle East Wars, just announced he will be voting for another stiff, Sleepy Joe Biden. Didn’t Powell say that Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction?’ They didn’t, but off we went to WAR!”
That received quite a bit of pushback from commenters with one bluntly stating, “You couldn’t shine Powell’s shoes.”
You can see some other responses below:
You couldn’t shine Powell’s shoes.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) June 7, 2020
Whenever Trump attacks men with honour and integrity. Accomplished military officers that served their country honourable, it’s best to let the picture speak. pic.twitter.com/8MKpgl9RFp
— Chidi®️ (@ChidiNwatu) June 7, 2020
Admit it Donald, you just shit your pants, didn’t you?
— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) June 7, 2020
At least he went to war with another country, rather than his own.
— Parody Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson_MP) June 7, 2020
Colin Powell is more patriotic and more everything than you’ll ever be.
And the way you keep attacking generals and veterans? Keep it up. Americans will catch up.
You are digging your own political grave, and we love to see it. pic.twitter.com/KeCOainfkU
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) June 7, 2020
Powell served in Vietnam (multiple tours) inc, and received countless medals, inc for saving 3 fellow soldiers from a helicopter crash.
You claimed you couldn’t fight the Commies bc your feet had a boo-boo.
— A.J. Delgado (@AJDelgado13) June 7, 2020
— Liddle’ Savage (@littledeekay) June 7, 2020
— The Resistor Sister ♥️🇺🇸🦅🙏🏻 (@the_resistor) June 7, 2020
Right on schedule. pic.twitter.com/xY5XjS65Wk
— D Villella ❄️ (@dvillella) June 7, 2020
— Mandrake (@readamagazeen) June 7, 2020
The only people supporting you now is Diamond and Silk, Scott Baio, Tomi Lahren, a Swastika, and a bag of shit. Fuck off impeached asshole.
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) June 7, 2020
I’ve lost track but did Trump publicly bash the whites Generals? In just asking. He all over Collin Powell today
— NellyO3 (@DragonLuva3) June 7, 2020
Cadet Bone Spurs says what?
— Louise (@clwtweet) June 7, 2020
Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: "If you want to get into a debate with a 4 star general, I think that's highly inappropriate"
— The Hardy Report Podcast (@EdwardTHardy) June 7, 2020
Trump has now had over 10 US Generals/Admirals attack him. Joe Biden is the US Military’s top choice!
— Black Lives Matter (@HKrassenstein) June 7, 2020
A 5 times draft dodger calls a respected general who put his life on the line for our country "overrated". SHAME ON YOU DONALD! #TrumpOrAmerica
— Republicans for Joe Biden (@RepsForBiden) June 7, 2020
Trump Blames Obama for Iran Attack Then Takes Credit for Obama’s Accomplishments in Off-the-Rails Address to the Nation
After three years there were likely few Americans hoping for some form of comfort from President Donald Trump’s address to the nation Wednesday in the wake of Tuesday night’s attack by Iran on air bases in Iraq that host thousands of U.S. Military troops. And President Trump, true to form, did not offer any.
The President descended as if from heaven (photo above) onto a stage filled with his military generals and advisors,
Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. A clear attempt to show strength which the administration apparently felt the Commander-in-Chief could not summon if he appeared on camera alone. A sad statement.
“As long as I’m president of the United States Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon,” Trump, out of breath, declared as he walked up to the podium, flanked by his men in uniform. He then said: “Good morning.”
President Trump was expected to give Americans hope and comfort, and a clear indication that they are safe from attack.
Instead, he tried to show strength through military might – with no suggestion diplomacy might be a better route.
And he lied.
“The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration,” Trump claimed, blaming President Barack Obama in a speech watched around the world.
“Iran’s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013,” Trump claimed. (It was actually 2015.)
He added, “they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash. Instead of saying ‘thank you’ to the United States, they chanted ‘death to America.’ In fact, they chanted ‘death to America’ the day the agreement was signed.”
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) January 8, 2020
Those billions belonged to Iran, and reportedly were less than the numbers Trump quoted. They were Iranian funds frozen which had been paid to the U.S. for arms never delivered. It is a frequent trump lie he tells at rallies over and over.
“Then, Iran went on a terror spree, funded by the money from the deal, and created hell in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq,” Trump claimed in his address to the nation – and to the world. “The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration. The regime also greatly tightened the reins on their own country, even recently killing 1,500 people at the many protests that are taking place all throughout Iran.”
“The very defective JCPOA [the “Iran deal”] expires shortly anyway,” Trump said. That’s just false – another lie Trump often tells. Various parts expire between 2025 and 2030.
He claimed the JCPOA “gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout,” which again is false.
After falsely blaming Obama for Iran’s attack he went on to take credit for Obama paving to road to energy independence.
“Over the last three years, under my leadership, our economy is stronger than ever before and America has achieved energy independence. These historic accomplishments changed our strategic priorities. These are accomplishments that nobody thought were possible.”
Here’s CNN’s Keith Boykin with graphs showing just how false Trump’s energy independence remarks were:
So Trump gave his big Iran speech, lied again by blaming President Obama, denied responsibility for the effects of his own withdrawal from the Iran Deal (JCPOA), and took credit for increased US oil and gas production that began under President Obama.https://t.co/DjVeCXqTV3 pic.twitter.com/c2l3WA3p8K
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 8, 2020
Legal Expert Makes the Case for Trump to Resign — but Why Have So Few Others Demanded He Step Down?
In a new op-ed for CNN, constitutional law professor F. Michael Higginbotham argued Friday that President Donald Trump should resign from office.
Higginbotham argued in the op-ed that President Richard Nixon’s resignation in the face of his own impeachment could be seen to represent, despite his grave abuses, “an act of patriotism.”
Nixon “protected not only his own historical legacy but also the country he had taken an oath to serve,” Higginbotham wrote. “Donald Trump should follow suit.”
Trump should resign so the country can begin the process of healing. The divisions in the country today are even more corrosive than they were in 1974. That’s why it’s even more important that Trump emulate the best of Richard Nixon, who, in a rare moment of grace, understood he could only weaken the nation he led by focusing solely on himself, and chose the better path.
In President Trump’s acceptance speech of the Republican nomination at the Republican National Convention in 2016, he told the nation, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” While many mocked the hubris behind that claim, at this moment of national danger it is undoubtedly true: Trump alone can spare the nation the painful ordeal of an impeachment trial in the Senate.
While Trump is written about extensively every single day, such calls are relatively few. For all the tumult, investigation, and fierce partisanship Trump’s presidency has produced, it’s produced surprisingly sparse demands for his resignation. Even as Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives, and top newspapershave called for the president’s removal, the other option — the only way a president has actually been ousted from office via the impeachment process — remains woefully under-discussed. And though Democrats have occasionally called for the resignation of administration officials such as Attorney General Bill Barr and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, they seem hesitant to take the same step for the president himself. Instead, they often call on him to stop creating division and “lead” the country.
But “leading the country” is exactly what Trump has repeatedly proven himself incapable of doing.
What’s odd about the relative dearth of calls for is that Trump’s conduct clearly merits it. I’ve argued that calling for Trump’s resignation was the Democrats’ best move since they took the House of Representatives. And if, as many do, you think it’s appropriate for Trump to be impeached or removed, you should probably also think that it would be best if he just stepped down without all the conflict. In fact, it would be reasonable to argue that Trump should resign, but that an ultimately doomed impeachment process is too disruptive for the country. So in theory, there should be more support for Trump’s resignation than there is for his removal.
So why aren’t we deluged with calls for Trump’s resignation? CNN host Chris Cuomo’s response to the Higginbotham piece probably sums up the explanation:
Zero chance https://t.co/tICs6UFxKB
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) December 27, 2019
Everyone assumes — almost certainly correctly — that Trump will never agree to resign the presidency. He hates admitting failure, he loves the adulation the office provides, and he fears the potential legal consequences of no longer being protected from prosecution. Nixon was a monster with a devoted base of support, but he realized eventually that it was time to throw in the towel. It’s nearly impossible to imagine a plausible scenario in which Trump does the same — and not just because the Republican Party seems even more devoted to the current president than it was to Nixon. He won’t even admit that his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was far from “perfect,” even though this admission could have helped him.
But the fact that Trump would almost never agree to resign doesn’t mean we should ignore the obvious fact that he should. Ignoring this option lets Trump off the hook for his own responsibilities, and it lowers the bar for the presidential standard of behavior.
Many Republicans have spoken out against impeachment by citing the fact that it will be divisive for the country and create more animosity or tension. By calling for resignation as a potential alternative to impeachment, Trump’s critics could point out that any resulting division from impeachment proceedings is at least as much the fault of the president. Democrats could argue that Trump’s behavior forced them to pursue impeachment, but if he were gracious and cared about the country, he could bring it to a peaceful end.
This reframes the discourse around Trump’s impeachment in a useful way, especially when pressed against Republicans who can’t bring themselves to defend the president’s conduct on the merits. And it exposes and dispenses with the implicit idea that Democrats are the only actors responsible for preserving constitutional government; that obligation falls just as heavily on the shoulders of Trump and the Republicans.
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