Politics

Politics (12)

%AM, %19 %141 %2019 %02:%Apr

Opinion: The Mueller Report: Part I

Written by

By now you all know that the full (but redacted) Mueller report has been made available to the public. I am slogging through it now. It’s long. Four hundred and eighty eight pages long. And I’m only one guy. It’s gonna take me awhile to get through it all.

But I have read a decent amount of it. It’s broke down into two volumes.

Volume I details Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and "if the Trump Team conspired with the Russians."  

Volume II deals with the president's “actions towards the FBI investigation” and if any of said actions are "obstruction of justice."

So far - I have some thoughts.  

So, what does the Mueller report actually say about Russian interference and collusion?

A lot. Like, way more than I ever expected it to. From Mueller’s introduction to Volume I of the report:

“The Russian Government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. Evidence of Russian government operations began to surface in mid-2016. In June, the DNC and its cyber response team publicly announced that Russian hackers had compromised its computer network. Release of hacked materials -hacks that public reporting soon attributed to the Russian government-began that same month …. Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos … (said) that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The information prompted the FBI on July 31st, 2016, to open an investigation into weather individuals associated with the Trump Campaign were coordinating with the Russian government in its interference activities.

That fall, two federal agencies jointly announced that the Russian government “directed recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including US political organizations,” and, “these thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.”

So, this all makes it very, very clear that Russia, a hostile foreign power, endlessly interfered in the US presidential election. That’s not even in debate.

The next part of the introduction talks about how Mueller was assigned, came on board in May of 2017 as Special Counsel and was authorized to investigate “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election,” including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign.

Okay. We all know this. And then the report clearly says this:

“As set forth in detail in this report, the Special Counsel’s investigation established that Russia interfered …. principally through two operations. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents. The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign. Although the investigation established that the Russian perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Hrmmm. The words “numerous links,” and “did not establish” don’t seem to fit together. Let me unpackage it all:

  1. The report says the Russians interfered. Like - a lot. Like - a huge amount. The Russians …
    1. committed cyber terrorism by stealing documents and materials from our government. Then, using that information, ran social media campaigns against Clinton. And because of the large amount of Trump / Russian business connections, the Russians -
    2. knew a Trump White House would be more sympathetic to the Russian cause and so they …
    3. contacted the Trump Campaign and said “We have a bunch of stolen information that will help you (Trump) win the election. Do you want it?”
  2. The Trump campaign went, “What?!? Heck yes we’ll take all your stolen goods in order to win the election!”
  3. And so the Trump Campaign met with Russian personnel in order to exchange stolen goods and documents.  
  4. But since there was no long term agreement between the two parties to interfere in the election, that means …

Mueller felt that the while the Russians instigated cyber terrorism and the Trump team accepted the stolen material there was technically “no collusion,” because both groups acted independently towards the same mutually beneficial goal.   

Okay. I understand. That’s fair. The Trump team never called up the Russians and said, “Can you steal a bunch of stuff in order to help us win the election?” In which case, for it to be collusion, then the Russians would have to respond with, “Of course! We’ll break into the US Government and steal a bunch of information that will help you win!” Because that specific agreement - tacit or express - did not seem to happen - then there was “no collusion.”

Which … is not exactly how Barr’s four page summary spun it. But, whatever. 

Also, I’m only about fifty pages into the report so far. 

More to come.  

The 2019 Chicago mayoral election was held on Feb. 26th but since no candidate received a majority of votes, a runoff election was held on April 2nd between the two candidates with the most votes - Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.  

Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, won the runoff election by a 50 point margin and will become the city’s first black woman and openly gay person elected mayor of Chicago. Lightfoot ran on a platform that she would clean up Chicago’s well known, historic level of corruption. And she is not wrong. I mean, did you know that four of Illinois’s last ten Governors were or are currently in prison? For corruption. Seriously.

Otto Kerner, Governor from 1961-1968 - sentenced to three years in prison for bribery.

Dan Walker, Governor from 1973-1977 - spent a few years in prison for bank fraud.

George Ryan, Governor from 1999-2003 - spent several years in prison for racketeering.

Rod Blagojevich - Governor from 2002-2009, impeached and currently serving a 14 year prison sentence for corruption.

And even though Rahm Emanuel has never been actually accused of a crime his tenure as Chicago’s mayor has certainly not been scandal free. As Rick Perlstein points out in his excellent, “The Sudden But Well-Deserved Fall of Rahm Emanuel” for the New Yorker,

“….Emanuel had became the mayor of Chicago, elected with fifty-five per cent of the vote in the spring of 2011. Since then, there have been so many scandals in Emanuel’s administration that have failed to gain traction that it’s hard to single them out.”

Well, Rahm decided not to run again and opened the way for Lightfoot. Lightfoot has never held public office but as a former federal prosecutor she certainly knows how to go after crime. The city has actually only had one black mayor, Harold Washington Jr., who was elected in the early 80’s but only held office for a few months before dying of a heart attack at the age of 65.

Lightfoot certainly has her work cut out for her as Chicago universally wins yearly “most corrupt city in the US” awards from all the right and wrong places. Even their very own University of Illinois releases a yearly report on corrupt cities and Chicago is always number one with either L.A. or NYC (Manhattan) switching places back and forth for the second and third spot.

Lori Lightfoot will assume the office of Chicago mayor on May 20th, 2019.

Editor's note: Mueller investigators are coming forward to say that the report is far more damaging to the President than the AG (Barr) has let on. Which, is probably true. And that's why Congress should be able to read it.

 

Former special investigator Robert Mueller turned in his several hundred page report on Friday morning. I’m sure you’ve heard all about it - the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere in the 16' Presidential election.  No one outside of the Attorney General (and maybe his office) has seen the full report and so far, only a four page summary has been sent to Congress. The only thing we “know” is from the four page summary, which quotes Mueller’s report as saying, “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 US Presidential Election.”

Well, that’s kind of hard to misinterpret, you know? It sounds like the report is exonerating the President of all guilt. Right? And it might - for collusion. But the report also says, “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Argh to prosecutor double speak!

As someone who once worked on a lot of legal depositions, I know prosecution speech when I hear it. It sounds as if Mueller is saying, “I don’t think that President Trump and team colluded with the Russians” but he’s also saying, “but Trump still might be guilty of obstruction of justice, I just didn’t find enough evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in court to a jury.”

Prosecutors all over the world struggle with that exact issue. They might honestly believe a suspect is guilty of a crime and the suspect in fact - might actually be guilty.  But a prosecutor’s belief in the suspect’s guilt - doesn’t prove anything. A prosecutor needs evidence, and then they have to spend taxpayer money in order to prosecute in a court of law.

Fair enough.

What the report does NOT say is that President Trump and team are innocent of all crimes. What the report does NOT say is that the Russians did not interfer in the 2016 Presidential election.

Of course, conservatives are lining up to say the President is innocent of everything and the Mueller report proves it. And Democrats are lining up to say, “Well, maybe - but we need to read the full report because something is fishy here!” And, I do agree at the very least, Congress should receive the full report. I mean, you could convince me that the press and/or regular folks don’t NEED to see the full report (we might want to see it, though). I mean, there are plenty of state or federal secrets and/or sensitive materials that are probably buried within the Mueller Report and I would be okay if the DOJ was like, “No, the general public will not see the full report.”

But Congress? Um, what possible justification could you use to claim that Congress shouldn’t be able to see the full report? The entire legislative branch should be able to read the full report! Congress practically runs the country or at the very least, allows the country to function. They already have top secret clearance so there is no reason the report should be withheld from them. Also, they legislate laws and the report clearly has evidence of Russian interference in the 16’ election, which they might need to legislate laws to protect the U.S. elections from future interference. Withholding the full report from Congress is, frankly, a little suspicious. So give the full report to Congress. 

Not that anyone asks me. =)

%PM, %04 %865 %2019 %19:%Jan

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi: Round II

Written by

The 116th Congress opened today with second time speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) as Speaker of the House. Despite the pointless “Never Nancy” posturing of several freshman (and a few veteran) Congress Folk - Nancy Pelosi is the first and second woman to hold the role of Speaker. She’s also the first congressperson to win the role a second time since 1955.

 

That being said, in order to appease some of the vocal “Never Nancy” folks, Pelosi made some behind closed doors deals with them (which, is all they wanted in the first place) and  agreed to step down as Speaker after a four year term.

 

Pelosi won with 220 votes (of the 218 she needed to win), defeating Republican nominee Kevin McCarthy who now takes the role as Minority Speaker. Here are all the leaders for the 116th Congress (from the House.gov site).

 

As for the “why” of the “Never Nancy” folks? Well, it doesn’t matter much now (the “pointless “Never Nancy” link above explains some of it), but a lot of them were merely “out with the old, in the with new” types. Which is totally fair. But Nancy Pelosi has become the most powerful female politician the US has ever seen. For a reason. And so all the, “out with the old, in with the new,” folk, as fine an idea as it is, might want to apply some common sense and reason in respect to our current political climate. Experience might be what we actually need to move forward.

 

Or not. Maybe the “Never Nancy” folks are correct. I guess we’re all about to find out. As for the dissenters - I often find great interest in what dissenters against popular opinion have to say and I am keeping my eye on them. They may have lost this battle but as they say - the war is not over, yet.

 

Here are the congress people who voted for someone other than/against Pelosi:

Freshmen: Anthony Brindisi (New York), Jim Cooper (Tennessee), Jason Crow (Colorado), Joe Cunningham (South Carolina), Ron Kind (Wisconsin), Conor Lamb (Pennsylvania) Ben McAdams (Utah), Max Rose (New York), Kathleen Rice (New York), Mikie Sherrill (New Jersey), Kurt Schrader (Oregon), Elissa Slotkin (Michigan), Abigail Spanberger (Virginia), Jeff Van Drew (New Jersey) and Jared Golden (Maine).

House Minority Whip, Nancy Pelosi, was easily nominated by House Democrats in a 203-32 vote to secure her potential return as speaker. That 85% margin is actually much higher than her last time around the block when she won the nomination by a 68% vote facing challenger Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio). But that’s what happens when you run unopposed, as she did this time.

 

Pelosi’s win is not unexpected despite the few dozen “Never Nancy” freshmen incoming congressmen. A few behind closed doors deals here and there and suddenly, most of those Never Nancy folks have changed their minds. All they wanted, obviously, was seat on a committee or a promise for this, or a deal for that. Most of the Never Nancy stuff was nonsense posturing masquerading as politics as usual.  

 

But there are a handful of hardcore Never Nancy folks that still claim they will not support Pelosi in the upcoming January vote when both sides of the House get to vote on the new upcoming Speaker role. This too, reeks of political posturing.

 

The Democrat opposition against Pelosi seems to be spearheaded by Rep. Kathleen Rice (NY-4th district). Rice’s main beef, as I understand it, is twofold. First, that Pelosi has already had her chance and now new (perhaps, younger) leadership should be explored. I’ll quote her for her second point,

 

“...backroom deals represent the establishment-based transactional politics that the American people hate and patently rejected on Election Day (2018) … These tactics also stifle fair and open leadership elections within our caucus and perpetuate the leadership stagnation that has plagued our party for over a decade.”

 

And these are all fine points.

 

But now the Democratic Party has nominated Pelosi to be their Speaker representative for the January vote and common sense and reason tell us all that Rice should back her own party’s nominee, right? She had her voice. She lost. Now - do the right thing and vote for your party’s nominee.

 

Republicans are going to have a nominee as well. But so far, Rice is pressing on with the Never Nancy nonsense. Rice also has 17 other House Reps., mainly incoming freshmen, that claim they will not vote for Pelosi, either. And if you do the math, Pelosi can NOT lose 18 Democrat votes. Because, assuming all other Democrats, outside the Never Nancy 18 vote for Pelosi, and all Republicans vote for the nominee - then Pelosi will lose and the Republican nominee will actually win the Speaker role - even though Democrats control the house.

 

This is not something the Democratic party will stand for. Trust me. If the Never Nancy rebellion goes so far as to get a Republican Speaker nominated when the Dems control the house, well, the Never Nancy folk can kiss their political careers goodbye.

 

Besides, there is a furious push from powerful, influential Pelosi supporters up to and including John Kerry and Barack Obama. I’m sure you’ve heard of those guys. In fact, the Never Nancy crew was actually significantly higher until recently. Pelosi and her team have flipped more than a dozen Congress-folk from the Never Nancy movement to Pelosi’s side.

 

Of course, they all changed their minds, as I mentioned above, during closed door meetings, which is precisely what Rep. Rice is talking about. So, there’s that.

 

But still, the time to rebel against your own party is - not, bloody, now. I suspect most of the Never Nancy crew will fall in line before that crucial January House vote. There will be a holdout or two, for sure. But threatening to not vote for your party’s nominee and allowing the opposing party to keep the Speaker role - that way lies madness.

 

And we’ve had enough madness these last two years.

 

Jason Lewis is the outgoing, Minnesota Congressman who on Veterans Day blamed a recently deceased prisoner of war for costing him reelection and Republicans the House majority in the 2018 Midterm Elections. In his defense, Lewis had no control over the publication date of his op-ed after he submitted it to The Wall Street Journal. Lewis did, however, blame the late Republican Arizona Senator and Vietnam POW John McCain for his election loss and the losses of his fellow House Republicans. It just happened to be published on Veterans Day, which has been the focus of just about everyone on social media.

Most of the media, however, has resisted mentioning the date of publication, but haven’t bothered to check if there’s some truth to Lewis’s claim. McCain couldn’t possibly be entirely responsible for Republicans losing 39 House seats. No single moment, however momentous, decides an election let alone 39 elections. There are a myriad of reasons why people vote the way they do. Money is just one reason.

The biggest spender in House elections won just 89.8 percent of the 2018 House races—down from 95.4 percent in 2016. But the biggest reason House Republicans lost so much in the 2018 Midterm Elections might very well have been because of their support for the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the failure of Senate Republicans to pass the legislation because of John McCain.

In his ill-timed op-ed, Lewis alleges that the Arizona Republican Senator’s decisive vote against Congressional Republicans’ “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, "prompted a 'green wave' of liberal special-interest money, which was used to propagate false claims that the House plan 'gutted coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.’”

Lewis might be absent-minded at best, insensitive at least, and downright disrespectful at worst, but his claim is not entirely wrong. He and fellow Republicans were wrong, however, to assume McCain would vote along party lines when it came to healthcare, even when faced with an opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Republicans Should have Seen McCain’s “No” Vote Coming

Like most Republicans, McCain campaigned for reelection in 2016 promising his Arizona constituents to repeal and replace Obamacare. And like most Republicans in 2016, he won reelection. But McCain was never like most Republicans, especially when it came to healthcare.

Healthcare has long been a concern of McCain’s. He was an early co-sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In 1998, he introduced a bill to regulate the tobacco industry and increase taxes on cigarettes that failed due to opposition from his fellow Republicans. And it took a lot of convincing stories of personal struggle, but in 2001 he joined a bipartisan effort to pass a patients’ bill of rights despite being concerned about the right it gave patients to sue health care companies.

McCain then shocked his fellow party members by running for President on a healthcare platform in 2008. While his opponent adopted a healthcare approach implemented by Republican Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, McCain’s plan would have subjected health insurance premium contributions from employers to income tax. Tax credits would help taxpayers offset the costs of employer coverage or coverage purchased on the individual market, and any remaining funds could be deposited in a health savings account (HSA).

McCain also wanted to allow Americans to buy health insurance coverage across state lines, but he didn’t want government getting its hands on healthcare. He did, however, propose federal funding to help people who couldn’t get coverage through the individual market because of their health conditions, i.e. pre-existing conditions. So protecting affordable access to healthcare coverage for people with pre-existing conditions was important to McCain almost a decade before his decisive vote against the AHCA.

Yet Republicans and Democrats alike were shocked at McCain’s vote to kill his party’s baby that was going to show Republicans’ constituents they finally did what they had long promised: repeal and replace Obamacare. And that might have been enough to carry them to victory in 2018 because the adverse effects of their AHCA predicted by the Congressional Budget Office—including higher premiums resulting from 24 million more Americans going uninsured by 2026—wouldn’t take effect in time for American voters to reprimand them in the 2018 Midterm Elections.

The only problem with the Republicans’ plan was the free press, which informed constituents of the potentially devastating impact of the AHCA, especially for people suffering from pre-existing conditions. In turn, those constituents voiced their opposition to the bill and let their Congresspeople know how many votes they could expect to lose in their next election. Turns out once people got a taste of Obamacare and discovered it wasn’t just nasty, expensive health food but tasty, affordable health food, they started to like it. Why do you think Republican Congresspeople in 14 states continue to withhold Medicaid expansion from their constituents? They say they don’t want to take federal funding for healthcare out of principle, but what they really don’t want is their constituents discovering how much they could be saving on health insurance premiums.

McCain’s “Most Powerful Thumb in the Country”

On July 28, 2017, a week after learning of an “aggressive,” inoperable brain tumor, McCain, reminiscent of a Roman emperor deciding the fate of a wounded gladiator, killed Congressional Republicans’ last-ditch efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with the "most powerful thumb in the country." It took two other votes from Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to kill the American Health Care Act. Any one of the three voting “yes” would have resulted in a tie broken by Vice President Mike Pence.

Andy Slavitt, a former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama, called McCain’s “no” vote on the AHCA a “watershed moment in health-care policy” in an interview with the Arizona Republic. But it was also a watershed moment in political policy, too. It was both a reprimand of the Republican Party by a most-respected Republican, and a reminder that people, regardless of political affiliation, are going to do what they think is right. More so than anything, regardless of pre-existing conditions protections, McCain didn’t care for the Congressional Republicans’ process (or lack thereof) to repeal and replace Obamacare. Not allowing the legislation to go through committee and instead forcing it through Congress rubbed the old school Republican the wrong way.

Republican Representative Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress and still the only woman elected to Congress from Montana, broke with her party and all of Congress when she voted against declaring war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. She was joined by a bipartisan group of 49 House members and six Senators voting against war with Germany 24 years earlier. McCain’s “most powerful thumb in the country” moment was reminiscent of Rankin and is McCain’s most legendary moment. It's for what he'll be most remembered.

There’s no denying McCain’s momentous “no” vote motivated an already energized Democratic Party. Whether it resulted in a “green wave” of donations from those with liberal special interests is debatable. Democratic House candidates received 50 percent more in campaign contributions than Republican House candidates in 2018, but that was paced by individual donations, not special interests represented by Political Action Committees (PACs). Democrats raised twice as much from individuals as Republicans to make up for a $46-million deficit in PAC contributions.

Whether McCain’s momentous vote was responsible for specific donations is impossible to determine, but Democrats did receive 54.7 percent of the $226,586,167 health-related campaign contributions, which was fifth most amongst business sectors in contributions made to 2018 campaigns. That’s actually down from health sector spending on the 2016 election, which saw health as the sixth-highest sector represented by campaign contributions, but nearly 60 percent more than what the health sector spent on the 2014 Midterm Elections.

So McCain’s vote against the AHCA might have been responsible for increased election spending on Democrats from the health sector, but it was absolutely responsible for robbing House Republicans of the ability to run for reelection advertising the fulfillment of their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. That alone could have been enough to sway the 2018 House Midterm Elections toward Democrats, if they weren’t already swinging that way.

Almost five months before Democrats flipped their first Congressional seat—getting an upset win from Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election for Senator on Dec. 12, 2017—McCain gave Democrats their first ray of hope since being robbed of the White House by Russian election meddlers assisted, perhaps, by Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign. Whether Trump acted as an accomplice in the confirmed election interference by the Russians could be revealed by Special Investigator Robert Mueller any day now that Trump has reportedly responded in writing to Mueller’s questions.

Both Trump and Pence failed to convince McCain to support the AHCA, with Trump even assuring McCain the bill wouldn’t become law. Trump wasn’t likely considering a “no” vote from another Republican Senator, although that might be exactly what he wanted McCain to think. It’s more likely Trump was told a key provision of the bill would be found unconstitutional.

In his op-ed, Lewis alleges Democrats’ claims that the AHCA “gutted coverage for people with pre-existing conditions” were false. But like Lewis’s op-ed rejecting responsibility for his and House Republicans’ election losses, Democrats’ claims weren’t entirely false. PolitiFact awarded “Half True” ratings to ads and statements from Democrats on healthcare in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Florida, Virginia and California. Why?

The MacArthur-Meadows Amendment

The MacArthur-Meadows Amendment to the AHCA was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 13, 2017. It was meant to coerce the votes House Republicans needed from the Rightest-leaning, three-dozen-or-so members of the House Freedom Caucus in order to pass the AHCA legislation onto the Senate. The amendment introduced by Republicans Tom MacArthur, a former insurance executive and now outgoing member of Congress, and recently reelected Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chair of the House Freedom Caucus, would have effectively gutted coverage for some people with pre-existing conditions.

People suffering from pre-existing conditions who didn’t maintain continuous health insurance coverage for all but 63 days of the prior 12 months would be forced to pay health insurance premiums based on their medical history, which would no doubt be higher than premiums currently available to them. While not every person with a pre-existing condition would be directly affected, nearly a third of people with pre-existing conditions experience a gap in coverage over a two-year period due to job changes, other life transitions, or periods of financial difficulty, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Since price most dictates what Americans’ healthcare coverage actually covers, Republicans effectively “gutted coverage for people with pre-existing conditions” by allowing health insurance companies to pick and choose what healthcare services are covered and at what price for people with pre-existing conditions failing to maintain continuous coverage. That’s why PolitiFact awarded “Half True” ratings to all those ads run by or for Democrats.

So while Lewis isn’t entirely wrong about increased campaign contributions being made to Democratic House candidates in 2018, he is wrong in calling it “liberal special-interest money,” as individual donations were the source of Democrats’ “green wave” of contributions, not PACs representing special interests. Whether that increase in Democratic contributions was a result of McCain’s vote against the AHCA is debatable and impossible to determine. And while Lewis claims that money was used to “propagate false claims that the House plan 'gutted coverage for people with pre-existing conditions,’” those claims made by and in behalf of Democrats were at least partially true, making Lewis mostly wrong, but not entirely wrong.

"Disapprove of the president's style if you like, but don't sacrifice sound policy to pettiness," Lewis wrote to close his op-ed, which would have been fitting had the AHCA actually been sound policy. The MacArthur-Meadows Amendment sacrificed any semblance of soundness the AHCA had, so if Lewis wants to blame someone for Republicans losing the House, he might start with the members of the House Freedom Caucus instead of attacking a dead POW of the Vietnam War who can’t defend himself.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show

“When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal."

It’s unfair to Richard Nixon to be compared to Donald Trump. Nixon was ashamed of his behavior and proved it when a British game show host got the best of him in an interview that resulted in the incredibly incorrect statement Nixon uttered above. I’m not sure Trump is capable of feeling shame, but we can’t ignore how similarly the Trump Administration is unraveling like the Nixon Administration did as a result of Watergate.

The Trump/Nixon Differences

Nixon was more popular than Trump is or has been. Trump limped into the White House thanks to the Electoral College. He lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by two percent (48.18 percent to 46.09 percent). Nixon, however, won reelection in 1972 in one of the biggest landslides in American political history (60.67 percent to 37.52 percent). So these two Presidents started from vastly different measures of popularity.

After winning reelection, Nixon’s job approval rating according to Gallup was 50 percent. Trump entered his first term as President with a job approval rating of 45 percent, but his post-midterm job approval rating is just 38 percent—falling six percentage points in less than a month. That sudden drop is no doubt in response to Trump coercing the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s potential participation in Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Trump replaced Sessions with former ambulance chaser and potential defrauder of veterans, Matt Whitaker, Sessions’ former Chief of Staff, which is apparently legal, even though the order of succession at the Department of Justice doesn’t include the Chief of Staff on the list. The executive order Trump signed on March 31, 2017, doesn’t list the Chief of Staff as a potential successor either, but does state that “the President retains discretion, to the extent permitted by law, to depart from this order in designating an acting Attorney General,” which was the case when Barack Obama was President, too.  

Nixon’s job approval rating dropped eight points between Dec. 11, 1972, and Jan. 12, 1973, as a result of The Washington Post’s continued reporting on the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel that occurred June 13, 1971. But it wasn’t until Nixon’s Attorney General, Richard Kleindienst, resigned, along with top White House staffers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, on April 30, 1973, that Nixon’s job approval rating reflected his guilt.

Attorneys General can Smell Guilt

It’s generally not a good sign for Presidents when U.S. Attorneys General resign amid scandal, whether coerced to do so or not. Attorneys have a pretty good sense of people’s guilt and tend to be pretty good at covering their asses. Kleindienst wrote the playbook Sessions is simply following in an attempt to avoid the fate of John N. Mitchell, the Attorney General who ran Nixon’s 1968 and 1972 Presidential campaigns and was imprisoned for 19 months due to his involvement in the Watergate break-in and cover-up. And Trump is trying to improve upon the playbook Nixon wrote on covering up election fraud, but Trump is leaving his friends out to dry just as Nixon did.

Gordon Liddy, leader of the group of five men who broke into the DNC headquarters, told Attorney General Kleindienst that the break-in was directed and funded by the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), and that Kleindienst should arrange the release of the burglars to reduce the risk of exposing CREEP’s involvement in the break-in. But Kleindienst refused and ordered the Watergate burglary investigation to proceed like any other. He resigned April 30, 1973. Nixon's approval rating had dropped 19 points in roughly three months.

Just like Trump failed to ask Sessions if he would be willing to undermine Mueller’s investigation prior to appointing him Attorney General, Nixon failed to ask Kleindienst’s replacement, former Secretary of Defense Elliot Richardson, if he would do what Kleindienst wouldn’t and undermine the Watergate investigation. When ordered to fire the top lawyer investigating the Watergate scandal, Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, Richardson responded by resigning on Oct. 20, 1973—five months into his tenure as Attorney General. Like Sessions, Richardson had promised Congress he would not interfere with the special prosecutor’s investigation. At this point, Nixon's approval rating was 27 percent—down another 21 points since Kleindienst's resignation.

Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox, the original Mueller. He refused and also resigned. Nixon then ordered the third-most-senior official at the Justice Department, Solicitor General Robert Bork, to fire Cox. Bork considered resigning after firing Cox, but Richardson convinced him not to in order to ensure proper DOJ leadership. Bork served as acting Attorney General until Nixon appointed William B. Saxbe to the position on Jan, 4, 1974, his approval rating still hovering at 27 percent.

You could say Trump has avoided some of the mistakes Nixon made, but he’s still mired in scandal and using any opportunity afforded him as President to undermine Mueller’s investigation into his campaign’s potential participation in Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election. The appointment of Whitaker is to Trump as Bork was to Nixon; Whitaker just hasn’t fired Mueller yet, and might not have to if his idea to slow the investigation to a halt by cutting its funding works.

Sessions smelled guilt on Trump when he recused himself from the Mueller Investigation. That was Sessions covering his ass, and that odor has only worsened as Mueller’s investigation has resulted in indictments or guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies...so far. Some suspect a big announcement coming from Mueller, as eight members of his team worked Veteran’s Day—a paid day off for federal employees.

Barring White House Reporters a Tell-Tale Sign of Guilt

On Wednesday, CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s White House press pass was suspended indefinitely. Acosta asked Trump whether he thought his calling a migrant caravan in South America an “invasion” demonized immigrants. The President answered “no,” adding that he wanted the immigrants to come to this country but do so legally, and that Acosta’s definition of invasion differed from his. Trump then went on to tell Acosta that he should focus on running CNN and let him run the country, and if he did, their ratings would be much better.

Trump attempted to take a question from NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander, but Acosta withheld the microphone from a White House intern and asked if Trump was concerned about the Russia investigation, to which Trump responded by calling it a “hoax” and told Acosta to “put down the mic,” stepping away from the podium when Acosta asked if he was worried about indictments. Acosta yielded control of the microphone to the intern, and Trump told Acosta that “CNN should be ashamed” to have him working for them, calling him “a rude, terrible person.”

Alexander defended his fellow free-press member: "In Jim's defense, I've traveled with him and watched him, he's a diligent reporter who busts his butt like the rest of us.” Trump responded by saying, “Well I'm not a big fan of yours either.” Trump continued to insult reporters during the press conference, calling a question from PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor “racist.” She asked if Trump thought calling himself a nationalist emboldened white nationalists. Trump also told April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks to “sit down” repeatedly.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is now being accused of circulating a doctored video of Acosta’s interaction with the White House intern. Sanders originally cited Acosta “placing his hands on” the woman as reason for his barring, but in defense of a lawsuit brought by CNN, the White House is now citing Acosta’s “disruptions” as reason for the suspension of his press pass.

If these aren’t the nervous actions of a guilty man’s administration, I don’t know what is. Nixon barred Washington Post reporters from the White House for everything but press conferences on Dec. 11, 1972. This was long after he sued The New York Times for publishing stories citing the leaked “Pentagon Papers,” a classified study of the Vietnam War that revealed the Nixon Administration had escalated the war despite knowing it couldn’t win the war. The Post came to The Times’ defense and published stories from the “Pentagon Papers” on June 18, 1971...just like NBC News and even Fox News is coming to the defense of Acosta and CNN today.

It took a year and a half for The Post to wear out its welcome at the White House with its Watergate coverage. Mueller’s investigation has been ongoing for a year and a half.   

How Long Until the End of Trump?

Democrats will have the votes to impeach Trump in the House of Representatives when the new Congress is convened on Jan. 3. House Democrats already introduced five articles of impeachment in November 2017, and only need a majority vote on one to force a Senate trial overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts. Impeachment doesn’t mean Trump is removed from office, however.

Nixon’s Senate trial lasted two months, and it was a full two years between the Watergate break-in and his resulting resignation, so if Trump’s timeline is as similar as it has been thus far, if he’s to be removed or if he’s to resign from office, it’s likely to happen sooner rather than later, but unlikely to happen at all. In fact, Congressional Democrats and Democratic Presidential candidates would likely prefer to run against a Trump White House rather than a Mike Pence White House, who is beloved by the Koch Brothers.

It’s not likely that Congress will remove Trump because two-thirds of Senators would have to find the President guilty in order for Vice President Pence to take over. Unless Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2020 (there are at least 20) feel they’d be better served running under a Pence Presidency than the Trump Administration, don’t expect Congress to remove the President. But Congress didn’t need to vote for Nixon to resign, and similar pressure on Trump—like criminal charges brought by Mueller—might bring similar results.

The more Mueller digs, the more he seems to be digging Trump’s political grave, so don’t be surprised if come February or March of 2019, Trump is doing what Nixon did on Aug. 9, 1974—resigning. But if there’s any shame to be pried from Trump’s soul to give us what we all need to heal as a nation, it’s going to require one hell of a game show host.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show

With Democrats winning a majority of seats in the United States’ House of Representatives and Republicans retaining a majority in the Senate, a Republican-controlled Congress with an approval rating of just 21 percent entering the 2018 Midterm Elections will be split when new members of Congress are sworn in on January 3. Here are some of the bipartisan issues a split Congress could address, in order of likelihood.

1) Impeachment of Donald Trump

It would be negligent not to acknowledge that Democrats now have the votes to impeach President Donald Trump. House Democrats already introduced five articles of impeachment in November 2017 and could again. Now that Trump has forced the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Matthew Whitaker, the man who on CNN floated the very idea of replacing Sessions with a temporary Attorney General who could cut funding to Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential involvement with Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Sessions wasn’t well-liked by Democrats, but he did recuse himself from the Mueller investigation to the chagrin of Trump. A day after the 2018 Midterm Election, as to not adversely affect election results, Trump convinced Sessions to resign, but instead of promoting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, to whom Mueller currently reports, Trump installed Whitaker, a Trump loyalist.

If Whitaker acts on the idea he floated on CNN, expect House Democrats to respond by filing articles of impeachment, eventually voting on those articles, and forcing Senate Republicans to decide between protecting their own political careers or that of their party’s President. Removing him would take two-thirds of all Senators.

FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich writes that Democrats would need to retain Doug Jones’s seat in Alabama, defeat both Susan Collins in Maine and Cory Gardner in Colorado, and pick up a seat in a red state. The best bets would be in Arizona, where Jon Kyl is not seeking reelection, and in Iowa, where Democrats flipped two House districts and came within 40,025 votes of installing a Democratic Governor. Of course, if Democrats win the Presidential Election, they’d need to win one fewer Senate seat for a majority, as the Vice President would break a tie.

2) Transportation and Infrastructure Reform

The issue upon which both Congressional Democrats and Republicans can most likely agree is the nation’s need of vast infrastructure updates. U.S. infrastructure was given a D+ grade by the American Society of Structural Engineers in its latest Infrastructure Report Card, and despite efforts to address this, America hasn’t come close to making up for the estimated $2 trillion in needs over 10 years.

New House Committee Leader for Transportation and Infrastructure, Peter DeFazio, appears to be willing to work with the President to rebuild America’s roads, bridges, and subways, and perhaps expand access to high-speed internet. A blueprint for doing so has already been provided by Senate Democrats, requiring an estimated investment of $1.6 trillion.

DeFazio has suggested raising the gas tax in line with inflation to pay for some of the updates. With gas prices at their lowest in six months despite sanctions limiting Iran’s oil exports, addressing America’s crumbling infrastructure could be a means to comfortably introduce new members of Congress to Washington politics, bridge the widening gap between the parties, and deliver a win for both parties, their constituents, and the President, who promised “the biggest and boldest infrastructure investment in American history.” If Democrats and Republicans are actually going to do what they said they will after the elections and work together, infrastructure investment is probably the best place to start.

3) Middle Class Tax Cut

One issue for which House Democrats could get enough support from Senate Republicans is a middle class tax cut that was mostly absent from the corporate tax cut Congressional Republicans passed. At the very least, House Democrats could use their newly won majority in the underchamber of Congress to force Republicans to vote on a middle class tax cut and show where Republicans really stand and whom they really represent when it comes to taxes.

Regardless, there are probably five votes Democrats could get from Senate Republicans on a middle class tax cut if it doesn’t also include an increase in taxes for the richest Americans and corporations. Any legislation passed by House Democrats will almost certainly include a tax hike on the richest Americans and corporations, however, so the Senate will have to draft legislation agreeable to Senate Republicans and appeasing House Democrats.

4) Ending Federal Cannabis Prohibition

Ending federal prohibition of marijuana does not require Congress, but it does require a U.S. Attorney General willing to initiate the process of executive reclassification. With Trump convincing Sessions to resign, the best opportunity for him to boost his approval ratings going into the 2020 Presidential Election might be by appointing an Attorney General willing to initiate this process so Trump can take all the credit for being the President who legalized weed...or at least tried.

Trump doesn’t seem to be considering his Attorney General appointment as an opportunity to improve his approval ratings via cannabis reform. Neither Chris Christie and Pam Bondi have expressed interest in ending marijuana prohibition, but Alexander Acosta as Labor Secretary urged employers to take a “step back” on drug testing so cannabis users could fill the many open employment opportunities.

Still, executive reclassification requires the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which consults the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This is where Trump’s self-proclaimed business acumen might have to reveal itself, because the DEA affirmed its hard stance against reclassifying cannabis in 2016, it seized $20.5 million dollars in assets through its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program in 2017. But it did loosen restrictions on cannabis with regards to research.

5) Gun Control

There was yet another mass shooting resulting in the deaths of 12 people in Thousand Oaks, California, this time by a war veteran whose very actions seemed motivated by Congress’s lack of action in response to gun violence in America. In a Facebook post prior to the attack, the mass shooter wrote “"I hope people call me insane... (laughing emojis).. wouldn't that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah.. I'm insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is 'hopes and prayers'.. or 'keep you in my thoughts'... every time... and wonder why these keep happening.”

Democrats elected gun control candidates throughout the nation, and with a majority in the House, can finally pass gun control legislation that would force a vote on gun control legislation by Republicans in the Senate, 20 of whom are up for reelection in 2020, and perhaps more pending results of runoffs and recounts.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show

With a crucial midterm election on the way, early voter turnout is breaking all sorts of records here in the US. Multiple sources are reporting that, as of Wednesday Oct. 31st, the early votes had exceeded 24 million. By comparison, the 2014 midterms had approximately 13 million early votes.

 

According to this NBC News report, it looks as if the early votes are fairly evenly split - 43 percent going Republican and 41 percent going Democrat, which is almost identical to the 2014 numbers. But remember, early voting doesn’t show exactly which candidate has been voted for, only how many voters have cast ballots and what their party affiliation is. So it’s reasonable to assume that if you’ve registered as a Democrat then you’re probably going to vote for the Democratic candidate. But technically we don’t know for sure. Vice versa with Republican early ballots.

 

Lots of folks seem to be stumping for their political allies. Which is fine. President Trump is on a whirlwind tour of something like 15 states pushing for conservative candidates. Former President Obama is stumping for Dems all over the country. Oprah Winfrey’s pro voting / pro Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) was apparently so good that even Fox News panelists raved about it. I haven’t heard the speech but I’ve read multiple quotes, including this awesome gem:

 

“For anybody here who has an ancestor who didn’t have the right to vote and you are choosing not to vote wherever you are in this state, in this country, you are dishonoring your family,” Winfrey said.

 

Yeah. I agree.

 

Even Taylor Swift got into the action when, for the first time ever, she used her social media platform urging her fans to register to vote and vote. She spoke out heavily in favor of, and has already cast her early votes for her hometown candidates Phil Bresden (Senate) and Jim Cooper (House), both Democratic candidates. Her fans listened too and she got 65,000 people to register within 24 hours of posting her “go vote” Instagram. If Tennessee miraculously turns blue, Taylor Swift is probably single handedly responsible.

 

So, just where can you vote early, anyway? Well, all voters have at least one location where you can vote early with an absentee ballot and those locations vary, depending on where you live. You can check out Vote.org’s very own “Find your early vote” calendar here.

 

Election day is Tuesday, November 6th.

 

%PM, %30 %861 %2018 %19:%Aug

Meeting John McCain

Written by

John McCain was a rare commodity in U. S. politics. He was a war hero, full of good-natured irreverence, and a contrarian in the Republican Party. McCain made it abundantly clear that he put America before party politics. And when they both served in congress, McCain and Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer became good friends.

 

I met and visited Senator McCain on one occasion at the invitation of Roemer. The meeting was at the former governor’s Baton Rouge office, and McCain made it very clear to me that he loved Louisiana. He told me outside of his home state of Arizona, “there’s no place I’d rather be to enjoy the great food and the company of really lively and interesting folks than down her in Louisiana.”

 

Buddy Roemer had been out of the limelight for seventeen years, once he stepped down as Louisiana’s Governor in 1991. But when Senator John McCain wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination, Roemer found himself back in the catbird’s seat as a major player on the national scene.

 

Roemer signed on with the McCain team over a year before the election when the Arizona senator was just one of many in the pack. The Louisiana governor was on my syndicated radio show early on, touting McCain’s credentials when his campaign seemed to be in free-fall. By then Roemer had emerged as a key McCain adviser, and was featured in TV spots nationwide.

 

Buddy Roemer has always been a gambler. When he was governor, his campaign disclosure statements regularly showed winnings at poker games held at the Governor’s mansion. And Roemer has never been averse to playing a long shot, even on his own campaigns. He fought uphill races to get elected to Congress in the 1980s, and was in the rear of the pack in governor’s race when the campaign began back in 1987.

 

During the 2008 presidential election, Louisiana Senator David Vitter had initially pushed Louisiana republicans to support the quixotic campaign of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But when Giuliani’s campaign crashed and burned, Roemer quietly began lining up support and raising campaign funds for McCain. If the Republican candidate had ended up being successful in that coming fall presidential election, Roemer would have emerged as a cabinet secretary, ambassador, or hold some other high post in a McCain administration.

 

When George Bush was elected president in 2000, Roemer was under serious consideration to be Ambassador to China. He used to play tennis with the former President Bush 43, and stayed in touch with a cross-section of Republicans throughout the country.

 

After getting out of elective office, Roemer had been involved in several successful bank ventures. But the lure of public service was still there. If John McCain became the next president, the odds were pretty good that a former Governor of Louisiana was going to be heading to Washington, DC.

 

McCain’s presidential aspirations were unsuccessful, but he did carry Louisiana with 60% of the vote. After being side tracked by Barack Obama, he went on to spend 10 more successful years in the U.S. Senate.  Roemer built more banks and became a popular Louisiana author.

If you had to sum up John McCain’s life in a couple of words, they would be “honor and character.”  He ruffled the feathers of a number of republicans by working with democrats across the aisle on issues he felt were good for America. His philosophy was simple - put country before party politics.

 

Knowing of his impending death, McCain said about his life: “ I don’t have a complaint. Not one. It’s been quite a ride. … I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times. I hope those who mourn my passing, and even those who don’t, will celebrate as I celebrate a happy life lived in imperfect service to a country made of ideals, whose continued service is the hope of the world. And I wish all of you great adventures, good company, and lives as lucky as mine.”

 

Sums up a pretty darn good life.

 

Peace and Justice

 

Jim Brown

 

---

Jim Brown is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own. His column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show, Common Sense, each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Communication Network.