[There are Republicans who love Trump’s policies but hate the man. They hope Trumpism will live on after Donald is ousted. Sorry, guys. Trumpism dies without the Trump con — which is almost dead.]
— RECENT HEADLINES —
“President Threatens Steel/Aluminum Tariffs, Market Drops 482 Points; Trump Reportedly Acted From Angry Impulse Due to Hicks Testimony, Kushner WH Troubles, AG Sessions’ Defiance” (3/1/2018)
“State Dept. Has Been Authorized $120M to Fight Russian Cyberattacks, Has Spent $0” (3/5/2018)
“Christopher Steele Reported Russia ‘Vetoed’ Trump’s Pick of Romney for Sec. of State” (3/5/2018)
“Former Trump Aide Sam Nunberg ‘Melts Down’ on 5 Cable News Interviews: Won’t Honor Mueller Subpoena, Mueller Has ‘Something on’ Trump, Mentor Roger Stone Is Innocent” (3/5/2018)
“Carl Icahn, Trump Friend and Former WH Billionaire Economic Adviser, Dumps $31.3M in Steel-Dependent Stocks Days Before Trump Announces Steel Tariffs; Possible Insider Trading” (3/5/2018)
“Stormy Daniels Payment Under New Scrutiny; Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Reportedly Complained He Was Never Reimbursed for $130K Paid to Silence Porn Star Involved With President” (3/5/2018)
“Kushner Companies Loan Requests Raise New Questions RE: WH Retaliation Against Qatar for Declining Loan, Dropping SEC Probe of Apollo Global Management for Making Loan” (3/5/2018)
“North Korea Voices Willingness to SK to Talk With U.S. About Abandoning Nukes” (3/5/2018)
“Justice Dept. Sues California Over Use of ‘Sanctuary’ Laws That Protect Undocumented” (3/6/2018)
“Top Trump Economic Adviser, Gary Cohn, Resigns Over Trump’s Steel/Aluminum Tariffs” (3/6/2018)
“UAE Businessman Cooperating w/ Mueller RE: Possible Foreign Money to Trump Campaign” (3/6/2018)
“Porn Star Stormy Daniels Suing Trump, Says NDA Is Void Because He Didn’t Sign It” (3/6/2018)
“Defense Sec. Mattis and State Sec. Tillerson Warn President Tariffs Threaten Nat’l Security” (3/6/2018)
“Kellyanne Conway Violated Hatch Act 2x in Support of Roy Moore; WH Says, ‘Eh’” (3/6/2018)
“FL Passes Modest Gun Control: 3-Day Waiting Period, Age Raise to 21, Bump Stock Ban” (3/7/2018)
“Mueller Establishing Seychelles Mtg. Attempted to Set Up Trump-Russia Back Channel” (3/7/2018)
“President Has Spoken to Mueller Witnesses About Their Testimony: Asked Priebus if They Were ‘Nice’; Directed McGahn to Issue Denial of Trump’s Attempt to Fire Mueller Last Jan., Which McGahn Refused; While Not Illegal, Legal Experts Say These Contacts Support Consciousness of Guilt” (3/7/2018)
Remember gun control? That thing Trump was going to do something about after the Florida high school mass shooting? What’s up with that?
Gun control is so last week. I mean, hey, he talked about it, met with victims’ family members and survivors, and made some strong statements and vague, empty promises. He was “presidential.” But Donald has more pressing issues to address. Let the states deal with it. States’ rights, right? It’s time to move on.
Trumpism Lover, Trump Hater
The mainstream media lit up Monday when former Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg melted down on live cable news TV under the pressure of the special counsel’s Russia investigation. Apparently Nunberg received a Mueller grand jury subpoena as a result of answers he gave in an informal Muller team interview.
Mr. Nunberg called in to, or appeared in-person on, five different shows between CNN and MSNBC, and talked to numerous print and digital publications. He said many things: he’s not going to honor the subpoena; they won’t throw him in jail; he doesn’t care if they throw him in jail; it would be “funny” if they threw him in jail; he’s not going to spend “80 hours” gathering subpoenaed communications (emails, texts, documents, etc.); Roger Stone is his mentor and “like a father” to him; and Mueller is trying to build a case against Stone, and Nunberg refuses to let him.
Oh, also, Trump treated him and Roger Stone “like crap,” Trump is “stupid,” Trump has probably “done something wrong,” Trump knew beforehand about Don Jr.’s meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower, and no one hates Trump as much as Sam.
Sam Nunberg is a 36-year-old Republican political strategist who advised Donald Trump periodically from shortly after the 2012 election (when Trump trademarked “Make America Great Again”) until Mr. Trump’s presidential run. He put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears pushing for and preparing for Donald’s candidacy. Trump fired Nunberg just before the campaign took off in 2015. According to Sam, he and Roger Stone convinced Donald to run and essentially wrote Trump’s campaign playbook, which Trump continued to use long after Nunberg was ousted. Robert Costa, of The Washington Post, likened Sam to Pete Best, the Beatles drummer whom Ringo replaced in 1962 just before they took over the pop culture universe. Like Best, Nunberg has been accused of the occasional sour grape.
During Sam’s last appearance Monday evening, in-person on MSNBC’s The Beat With Ari Melber, he continued airing his resentments toward the president. At one point, he admitted he’d been fired from the campaign for racially offensive comments on Facebook. Apparently they included the N-word. He discounted the importance of these comments to Ari, saying they wouldn’t have cost Trump any votes.
Nunberg redundantly repeated his pronouncements — in a repetitiously reiterative way — that he will not honor the subpoena, he will not testify against his mentor, Roger Stone, and he didn’t think they would put him in jail.
Throughout the afternoon and evening, pundits speculated Nunberg might be under the influence of something. CNN’s Erin Burnett asked him if he’d been drinking because she smelled alcohol on his breath. He said no, that he was only on antidepressants. Still, he was clearly distraught, distressed, and repeating himself.
Joining Ari’s panel with Mr. Nunberg was MSNBC contributor Maya Wiley, a lawyer, law school professor, civil rights activist, and former chief counsel to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Wiley is African-American, which I mention only because it’s germane to the story. She took a caring, calming, almost motherly tone toward Sam in advising him to honor the subpoena and not hurt himself any further. I say “motherly,” though Wiley clearly does not look old enough to be Nunberg’s mother.
The next day, Sam Nunberg announced that thanks to Maya Wiley’s advice, he was going to cooperate with the special counsel. He said Wiley was “very, very smart” and she “made a compelling case to me.”
“I joined the [The Beat With Ari Melber] set after Sam Nunberg referenced his racially offensive statements that got him fired from the Trump campaign, dismissing their relevance because they wouldn’t have lost Trump a vote. Unspoken was his willingness to use the “N” word in reference to black leaders. That Nunberg actually recognizes the value and intelligence of a black woman is, I hope, a life lesson for him. I assume he has sought the advice and counsel of his lawyer. I hope what I gave him was a sense of humanity we need now more than ever in this country.”
(Wiley, Maya, attorney, law school professor, civil rights activist, former chief counsel to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, MSNBC contributor; statement to MSNBC; 3/6/2018.)
In this week’s article title, I referenced “Trumpism Lovers, Trump Haters.” These are Republicans who love President Trump’s policies of dangerous deregulation, rich-people bias, xenophobia, thinly veiled white nationalism, anti-science-ism, numbskull-ism, and other Trumpisms. But they hate Donald for his boorishness, misogyny, off-the-charts vanity and narcissism, incompetence, ignorance, and ridiculous tweeting.
There are many GOP members who love Trump’s policies but hate the man. Think: Sam Nunberg (publicly hates); Mitch McConnell (secretly hates, publicly sucks up); Paul Ryan (secretly hates, publicly sucks up more). They hope Trumpism will live on after Donald is ousted. Sorry, guys. Trumpism dies without the Trump con — which is almost dead.
It’s all a Corrupt Haze
I and others have speculated about what will finally make Republican legislators in Congress stand up to the destructiveness and corruption of Donald Trump. What they have been willing to tolerate out of selfishness and fear is staggering. They are selfish because they’re willing to allow Donald to threaten our national security and democracy to support their agenda. They’re fearful because they depend upon Trump’s base for their survival in office.
In just the past week there have been a dozen or so stories about the chaos and corruption in the Trump White House, any one of which alone could have crippled or brought down another, respectable administration.
It was reported Monday that the State Department, under Rex Tillerson, has been authorized to spend $120 million over the past year to fight off Russian intrusion into our electoral system, especially in preparation for the 2018 midterm elections. But not one of those dollars has been spent toward this end, in the face of universal U.S. intelligence community acceptance that Russia cyberattacked us and is doing it again.
Cyberattack denials are not enough to make congressional Republicans stand up to President Trump.
New reporting this week reveals that Christopher Steele, of Trump-Russia dossier fame, has determined Russia was allowed to veto Mr. Trump’s then-likely pick of Mitt Romney to be his Secretary of State. Romney is considered hawkish on Russia, as opposed to the eventual nominee, Rex Tillerson, who, as former CEO of ExxonMobil, is buddy-buddy with President Vladimir Putin. Note that the FBI has confirmed much of the information in Steel’s original dossier, and none of it has been refuted.
Russians determining our Secretary of State is not enough to make congressional Republicans stand up to President Trump.
Reporting released Monday uncovered that Carl Icahn, Donald’s billionaire bud and former White House economic adviser, dumped $31.3 million in steel-dependent company stock just days before the president announced his tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. These tariffs are projected to cost a ton of money to companies that depend upon steel or aluminum, and will cause higher end-product prices for U.S. consumers.
This could be a major insider-trading crime involving the president. Republicans in Congress? Crickets.
Donald’s 2006 affair with adult-film actress Stormy Daniels (shortly after Melania gave birth to Barron) — and the alleged payment to her of $130,000 to sign a non-disclosure agreement days before the 2016 presidential election — is in the news again this week. Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen allegedly bellyached that he never was reimbursed for the payment he set up for Trump. Additionally, Stormy is now suing Donald to void the agreement because her attorney says Donald never signed the document. Additionally-additionally, the Federal Election Commission is looking at this unreported payment as a likely violation of campaign finance law. [FUN FACT: Cohen assigned Trump a pseudonym in the agreement — David Dennison.]
Congressional Republicans? Nothing.
Presidential senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner was in the news Monday. Authorities are reviewing certain unusual coincidences: 1) After Qatar officials declined to loan Kushner Companies the $500 million Kushner’s dad had sought, Jared supported a damaging blockade of that country by its neighbors and interfered with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts to help Qatar; 2) Apollo Global Management did loan Kushner Companies $184 million, a loan triple the size of that lender’s average property loan, after which the Trump administration dropped a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into Apollo; and 3) Shortly after a White House meeting with Kushner and Citigroup chief executive Michael L. Corbat, during which, ostensibly, they did not talk about Kushner’s family business, Kushner’s family business did receive $325 million in property loans from Citigroup.
Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan? Nada.
The Mueller Russia probe has another cooperating witness that we know about as of Tuesday. George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, has agreed to sing to Mueller after a grand jury subpoena and the confiscation (via search warrant) of his laptop and cellphone last January. Nader is suspected of having knowledge about United Arab Emirates funds and other foreign money funneled to the Trump campaign.
Wednesday produced reporting that Mr. Nader also attended the Republic of Seychelles meeting just before Inauguration Day, allegedly held to set up a secret communications channel between Team Trump and the Kremlin. Two other principals at the meeting were with Erik Prince (Trump confidante and informal adviser, founder of discredited private security company Blackwater USA, and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos) and a Russian official close to Vladimir Putin.
Devin Nunes? Trey Gowdy? More hoax — let’s investigate the investigator.
This week, Kellyanne Conway, Trump propagandist and counselor to the president, has been found by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to have violated the Hatch Act twice. She “impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election.” In other words, she supported Roy Moore (R-Ala.) on television, which White House (and other federal officials) are not allowed to do.
The GOP? Zzzzzzzzz.
Last Hope for a Broken Camelback Straw
The one thing that appears to have gotten under congressional Republicans’ skin is Donald’s impetuous announcement of steel and aluminum tariffs last Thursday.
It was an off-the-cuff announcement by the president at the end of a Q&A with reporters. There was no position paper written. There was no consultation with key Cabinet members, intelligence directors, or congressional leaders. There was no communications rollout. There was no consultation with U.S. allies and trading partners.
Reportedly Trump was apoplectic for a combination of reasons: Hope Hicks telling Congress her job involves telling “white lies” for the president, then resigning the next day; Chief of Staff John Kelly’s “mistreatment” of Donald’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, by downgrading his security clearance, along with new revelations about possible Kushner conflicts of interest; the Mueller investigation getting closer to the Oval Office by the day; defiant posturing by Attorney General Jeff Sessions; and a general feeling of isolation. NBC News was the first to report that a stressed president was “angry,” “‘unglued,’” and “gunning for a fight,” and he impulsively chose a trade war, with steel and aluminum tariffs as the opening salvo.
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesperson AshLee Strong issued a statement Monday: “We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance the plan.”
Paul Ryan has since clarified his position in a statement directed to President Trump from a House news conference podium:
“Mr. President, it is no secret most Republicans in Congress personally don’t like you and think you’re unqualified for the office. But we put up with your bulls**t because we continue to think it helps us promote our GOP agenda. Truth be told, many of us loathe you.
“We’ve put up with your adolescent name-calling and tweet-storming. We looked the other way when you dangerously threatened nuclear war with North Korea — by tweet, no less. We’ve caved on our traditional wariness of Putin; we’ve allowed you to ignore the Russian cyberattacks because, let’s face it, they helped us take back the White House, and the Russian fake news will mitigate the upcoming Republican midterm massacre.
“We prostituted our GOP principles to allow massive deficits and debt, to give you a ‘win.’ We’ve enabled you to use the presidency to build your foreign business connections and enrich yourself. We’ve not complained about you employing your utterly unqualified daughter and son-in-law in the White House, along with myriad other losers. Our Senate brethren has confirmed many questionable or downright unfit-to-serve Cabinet officials. We kept quiet for the most part when you wouldn’t denounce Nazis and the KKK. You just couldn’t do it. Finally, we, the party of family values, have endured porn stars, hush money, adultery, p***y-grabbing, and golden showers.
“Now, however, you’re endangering our hard-fought tax cuts for the rich and our bragging rights. When it comes to imposing tariffs, messing with our economy, and riling the 1 percent, you, sir, have gone a bridge too far.”
(— writer’s embellishment)
People, this is just one week’s worth of atrocities. I know it’s difficult to keep track. It’s impossible for most people. It’s all a corrupt haze. Remember that this is Trump’s strategy, for all the insanity to run together. Don’t succumb to the idea that both sides do it. And when the time is right, pay attention. Ignore the Russian fake news. And for God’s sake, vote. ■