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Shock and Awe: Trump Used Twitter Likes and Retweets to Maintain His Dangerous Decision to Withdraw From Syria

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It was the week before Christmas, 2018. Out the the blue, President Donald Trump posted a series of tweets that he was pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, immediately.

“We have won against ISIS. We have beaten them and we have beaten them badly,” Trump said. “We have taken back the land and now it’s time for our troops to come back home.”

“Our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back,” Trump added later. “And they’re coming back now. We won. And that’s the way we want it. And that’s the way they want it.”

The news shocked the world. Experts called it a threat to national security.

That decision to pull out of Syria despite the threat of ISIS, a decision Trump refused to scale back until weeks later, was the final straw that led Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to resign in protest.

Now, perhaps even more shocking, is that the Commander-in-Chief used the number of “likes” and “retweets” his announcement was getting to try to convince stunned lawmakers who went to visit him in the Oval Office that his decision was correct.

Trump responded to the GOP lawmakers “by calling in the man who oversees his Twitter account,” Politico reports Thursday.

“Get Dan Scavino in here,” Trump called out in the middle of the meeting earlier this year. In walked a man in his early 40s with close-cropped brown hair.

“Tell them how popular my policy is,” Trump instructed Scavino, who, according to two people with knowledge of the exchange, proceeded to walk lawmakers through the positive reaction he had picked up on social media about Trump’s Syria decision.

The sudden pivot from geostrategy to retweets and likes surprised the lawmakers. It was a remarkable moment given that not long ago Scavino was managing Trump’s golf club. But for Scavino himself, it was just another day on the job.

Scavino, who is an attack shark on Twitter, “met Trump as a 16-year-old golf caddie and has spent much of his adult life by his side,” Politico adds.

Today, he sits just feet from the Oval Office and is present at most meetings, tapping away on his laptop in the background. He has joined Trump on trips to Saudi Arabia, Argentina and other far-flung destinations.

And officials say he talks to the president more than just about anybody else aside from Trump’s own family members, ping-ponging in and out of the Oval, sometimes more than a half-dozen times a day.

That one of the top and closest advisors to the supposed leader of the free world is a former golf cabby who went on to become general manager of the Trump National Golf Club Westchester and who now serves officially as Assistant to the President should surprise no one these days.

That he’s now being used to help the President shape foreign and military policy is beyond disturbing.

 

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COMMENTARY

Sinema ‘Weighing’ Senate Speech Against Changing Filibuster for Voting Rights as Biden Visits Hill to Meet With Dems

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President Joe Biden Thursday afternoon will make a rare trip to Capitol Hill, where he will attend a regular Democratic luncheon with the singular purpose of shaking hands and twisting arms, hoping to convince the lawmakers to pass his voting rights legislation: the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Conspicuous in her absence likely will be U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema who may be on the Senate floor when the President of the United States comes to meet with members of her own party.

The Arizona Democrat is “weighing” delivering a speech “against changing the rules for voting rights, per two Senate sources,” Politico’s Tara Palmieri reports.

One of those sources, Palmieri adds, says “Sinema is having Joe Biden for lunch.”

President Biden served as a U.S. Senator for 36 years before being elected Vice President, and subsequently President. Sinema served six years in the House and is a freshman Senator, first elected in 2018.

Sen. Sinema’s top donors, according to Open Secrets include a Texas-based tax software firm, a private equity firm, and Goldman Sachs, the multi-national investment giant.

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COMMENTARY

‘Hideous Coward’: Critics Blast ‘Disgusting Fraud’ Lindsey Graham for Accusing Biden of Politicizing the Insurrection

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After President Joe Biden delivered what some are calling his best speech ever, commemorating the one-year anniversary of Trump supporters’ attack on the U.S. Capitol – an insurrection and attempted coup – Senator Lindsey Graham served up a horrific attack on the American President, and is being highly criticized for it.

“What brazen politicization of January 6 by President Biden,” Sen. Graham tweeted. “I wonder if the Taliban who now rule Afghanistan with al-Qaeda elements present, contrary to President Biden’s beliefs, are allowing this speech to be carried?”

Tom Nichols, a U.S. Naval War College professor and expert with a lengthy résumé on Russia, national security, and nuclear weapons, slammed the Republican from South Carolina as a “hideous coward.”

Amy Siskind, whose work documenting the fascism of the Trump presidency gained national attention, likewise labeled Graham as an “unpatriotic coward.”

“Trying to prevent the certification of the election was done by ONE side and it wasn’t the left,” The Atlantic’s Molly Jong-Fast replied to Graham. “Also Watching Republicans turn against democracy instead of disavowing trumpism is pretty depressing.”

Political commentator Keith Olbermann minced no words: “So your party’s attempt to overthrow democracy was a non-partisan event? Once you were a Senator, grudgingly respected by your opponents. Now you are a Trump Whore. Flee the country.”

Related –
‘He Can’t Accept He Lost’: Biden Blasts ‘Defeated’ Donald Trump’s ‘Web of Lies’ and ‘Bruised Ego’ in Fiery Jan. 6 Speech

Slate’s Will Saletan:

“Yes, the Taliban loves broadcasting speeches by American presidents, that’s a terrific point,” wrote historian Kevin Kruse, mocking Graham, who’s supposedly an expert on foreign affairs.

Some other responses:

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COMMENTARY

Garland Speech Satisfies Some, Disappoints Others Who Say It Focused on Violence and Not Those Behind the Insurrection

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Attorney General Merrick Garland finally delivered a speech on the January 6 insurrection, 364 days after the attack on American democracy. Some experts appeared to be satisfied, but many more casual observers and critics continue to be frustrated at his focus on prioritizing investigating and indicting those who perpetrated violence that day while continuing to, apparently, ignore those responsible for inciting the insurrection and creating and disseminating “the big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.

One popular social media commentator seemed to sum up the feelings of many watching and responding via social media, calling Garland’s remarks “a July 2021 speech not a ‘One Year After a Coup Attempt’ speech.”

“The Justice Dept. remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or otherwise criminally responsible,” Garland said in his speech (full video via C-SPAN), addressing DOJ employees. “There are questions about how long the investigation will take, and about what exactly we are doing. Our answer is — whatever it takes for justice to be done.”

But critics point out that Garland’s speech was largely focused on “statistics,” including how many arrests have been made. None of those arrests include Trump administration officials, or those who were behind the attack on American democracy.

“So, one thing you should notice about Garland’s framing of Jan 6 is that he *starts* at storming of the Capitol, *not* at the rally before,” wrote The Nation’s Justice Correspondent Elie Mystal, as Garland was speaking. “This goes to his general way of framing this as individual bad actors instead of a wider criminal conspiracy.”

MSNBC legal analyst and former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance responded to Mystal, saying: “This is a fair criticism. One of the things I’m looking for in this speech is whether he will suggest that Jan 6 was the culmination of an effort to overturn the election, or whether he views the events that took place at the Capitol in a vacuum.”

Vance appeared less concerned, adding:

Well-known, retired FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi, now an NBC News National Security Contributor appeared more hopeful:

And the highly-respected President and Director-Counsel of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), Sherrilyn Ifill, also seemed satisfied:

So was Daniel Goldman, the former Lead Counsel of the House Impeachment Inquiry,a nd a former Asst. U.S. Attorney at SDNY:

The Guardian’s congressional reporter Hugo Lowell observes Garland “effectively left open the possibility of a criminal investigation into the Trump WH over the Capitol attack, vowing to hold accountable the perpetrators — at any level — of the Jan. 6 insurrection.”

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