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I’m mentally exhausted this week. I try to come up with an angle for each article to illustrate the extent of looming danger to the rule of law, Constitution, and American psyche. But the doomsday train keeps rolling, with every new presidential offense being forgotten after its news cycle, lost in the sea of Trumpian corruption, criminality, and amorality. Republicans, as a once-Grand Old Party, have succumbed to group-thinking mob mentality — willingly sacrificing their reputations for a man they once loathed. They blindly buttress the president no matter his crime nor the progressive deterioration of their souls. If they fall out of rhythm even once from their lockstepped support of dangerous, wanton Trump policies and boorish behavior, they risk being primary-ed by his rabid supporters who make up 90% of the GOP. (scroll down for full article)

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— RECENT HEADLINES –
“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Agrees America Is in Constitutional Crisis” (5/9/2019)
“Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani Plans Trip to Ukraine to Dig Up Dirt on Leading Dem. Pres. Candidate Joe Biden (D-DE), Son; Giuliani States Nothing Wrong w/ Seeking Foreign Election Help” (5/9/2019)
“Giuliani Cancels Trip to Ukraine to Dig Dirt on Biden (D-DE), Fears ‘Set-Up,’ Negative Press” (5/10/2019)
“House Ways and Means Cmte. Issues Subpoenas to Force Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to Turn Over Trump Tax Returns, as Required by Law” (5/10/2019)
“Trump, White House Asked Former White House Counsel Don McGahn Twice Last Month to State Publicly He Didn’t Believe Trump Committed Obstruction of Justice; McGahn Refused” (5/10/2019)
“Trump Raises Tariffs on $200B in Chinese Goods, From 10% to 25%; Economists Nervous” (5/10/2019)
“Trump Continues Lie That Chinese Tariffs Earn U.S. $Billions, Despite Fact-Checking” (5/10/2019)
“Trump WH Currently Blocking 20-Plus Dem. Cong. Investigations, Ignoring all Subpoenas” (5/11/2019)
“Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) Publicly Advises Donald Trump Jr. to Ignore Senate Subpoena” (5/12/2019)
“Top Trump Economic Adviser Admits Tariffs Hurt U.S. Consumers, Ignores Trump’s Lie” (5/13/2019)
“China Announces Retaliation Against Trump Tariffs; U.S. Farmers, Consumers Will Be Hurt” (5/13/2019)
“Stock Market Crashes, Dow Closes 617 Down; Economists Blame Trump Trade War” (5/13/2019)
“Trump Publicly Embraces Another Authoritarian Strongman, Hungary PM Viktor Orbán” (5/13/2019)
“AG Barr Appoints U.S. Attorney to ‘Review’ Russia Probe ‘Origins’; Trump ‘Proud’ of Him” (5/14/2019)
“Trump Jr. Negotiates Senate Subpoenaed Appearance: Limit of 2-4 Hrs., 6 or so Subjects” (5/14/2019)
“Congress Probing Trump Lawyers for Obstruction: Helped w/ Cohen’s False Testimony” (5/14/2019)
“GOP Senators Gradually Begin Criticizing Trump Over Handling of U.S.-China Trade War” (5/14/2019)
“Trump Seeking to Raise Tensions w/ Iran, Possibly in Support of an Attack, Regime Change” (5/15/2019)
“WH Counsel Cipollone to House: No Mueller ‘Do-Over’; Refuses Doc., Witness Requests” (5/15/2019)
“Alabama Passes Near-Total Abortion Ban, No Rape, Incest Exception; National GOP Silent” (5/15/2019)

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Mentally Exhausted

I’m mentally exhausted this week. I try to come up with an angle for each article to illustrate the extent of looming danger to the rule of law, Constitution, and American psyche. But the doomsday train keeps rolling, with every new presidential offense being forgotten after its news cycle, lost in the sea of Trumpian corruption, criminality, and amorality. Understandably, the masses cannot keep up.

Republicans, as a once-Grand Old Party, have succumbed to group-thinking mob mentality — willingly sacrificing their reputations for a man they once loathed. They blindly buttress the president no matter his crime nor the progressive deterioration of their souls. If they fall out of rhythm even once from their lockstepped support of dangerous, wanton Trump policies and boorish behavior, they risk being primary-ed by his rabid supporters who make up 90% of the GOP.

If ever in U.S. history there were a time for citizens to pay attention, to educate themselves to the current mechanisms of government, it is now.

This week I’m tired. I’m tired of thinking about writing about Trumpian evil. I’m tired of the fact that so many people don’t care.

But we still need to keep up on current (political) events. The following media excerpts round out the past week’s developments. Note that these represent only one week.

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HEADLINES & MORE (Week Ending 5/16/19)

Obstruction: House Speaker Pelosi Declares “Constitutional Crisis” (5/9/2019)

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she agreed with Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler that the country was ‘now in a constitutional crisis’ as President Donald Trump’s administration continues to stonewall congressional requests for records and testimony related to the Russia investigation.”

(Collins, Eliza; “Pelosi Says America in a ‘Constitutional Crisis’ Over Trump Stonewalling”; USA Today; 5/9/2019.)

Rudy Giuliani: Plans Trip to Seek Foreign Election Dirt (5/9/2019)

“[Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy] Giuliani said he plans to travel to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, … to meet with the nation’s president-elect to urge him to pursue [two] inquiries. … One is the origin of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The other is the involvement of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch. Mr. Giuliani’s plans create the remarkable scene of a lawyer for the president of the United States pressing a foreign government to pursue investigations that Mr. Trump’s allies hope could help him in his reelection campaign. And it comes after Mr. Trump spent more than half of his term facing questions about whether his 2016 campaign conspired with a foreign power.

“‘We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,’ Mr. Giuliani said in an interview on Thursday when asked about the parallel to the special counsel’s inquiry.”

(Vogel, Kenneth P.; “Rudy Giuliani Plans Ukraine Trip to Push for Inquiries That Could Help Trump”; The New York Times; 5/9/2019.)

Rudy Giuliani: Cancels Trip to Seek Foreign Election Dirt (5/10/2019)

“Rudy Giuliani announced Friday evening that his trip to Ukraine is off. During an interview on Fox News, the Trump lawyer said he made the call to cancel the trip, which raised concerns about 2020 election meddling, due to what he claimed was a set-up. ‘I will get out of it — in order to remove any political suggestion I will step back and I’ll just watch it unfold,’ he said. ‘No trip because I believe I was walking into a bunch of people, one of whom was already found to be involved on this, and I think this was a set-up. The whole thing, by the way, is a set-up, from the very beginning,’ Giuliani added.”

(Chaitin, Daniel; “Rudy Giuliani Cancels Ukraine Trip”; Washington Examiner; 5/10/2019.)




Subpoenas: Congress Subpoenas Trump Tax Returns (5/10/2019)

“House Democrats issued subpoenas on Friday to force Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to release six years of President Trump’s tax returns. Democrats say the returns include information about Trump and his business dealings that is critical to their constitutional oversight duties. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., issued the subpoena after Mnuchin failed to comply with a request from House Democrats that he voluntarily turn over the returns.”

(Snell, Kelsey; “House Democrats Subpoena Trump Tax Returns”; NPR.org; 5/10/2019.)

Obstruction: Former White House Counsel Don McGahn Refuses to Lie for Trump (5/10/2019)

“White House officials asked at least twice in the past month for the key witness against President Trump in the Mueller report, Donald F. McGahn II, to say publicly that he never believed the president obstructed justice. … Mr. Trump asked White House officials to make the request to Mr. McGahn, who was the president’s first White House counsel. … Mr. McGahn declined. His reluctance angered the president, who believed that Mr. McGahn showed disloyalty by telling investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, about Mr. Trump’s attempts to maintain control over the Russia investigation.”

(Schmidt, Michael S.; “White House Asked McGahn to Declare Trump Never Obstructed Justice”; The New York Times; 5/10/2019.)

China Tariffs: Trump Increases, From 10% to 25% (5/10/2019)

“U.S. and Chinese officials wrapped up high-level trade talks on Friday, lacking a deal yet avoiding a breakdown in negotiations even after President Donald Trump boosted tariffs on $200 billion in goods from China and threatened to impose more. … The U.S. gave its bottom line during the talks in Washington, saying Beijing had three to four weeks more to reach an agreement before the Trump administration enacts additional tariffs on $325 billion of Chinese imports not currently covered by punitive duties.”

(Mohsin, Saleha & Xie, Ye & Donnan, Shawn; “U.S., China Lack Deal but Avoid Rupture After Tariff Hike”; Bloomberg; 5/10/2019.)

China Tariffs: Trump Lies, Says They Put Money in U.S. Treasury (5/10/2019)

“‘China should not renegotiate deals with the U.S. at the last minute,’ Trump tweeted. ‘There is no need to rush through negotiations because “massive payments” the Chinese are now paying “go directly into the Treasury of the U.S.” ‘

“Actually, the burden of tariffs falls on U.S. consumers and businesses that buy imports. By the end of last year, those consumers and companies were paying $3 billion a month in higher taxes and absorbing $1.4 billion a month in lost efficiency, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Columbia and Princeton universities.”

(Riechmann, Deb; “Trump Says China Tariffs Help, Not Hurt the U.S.”; AP; as cited in Breitbart; 5/10/2019.)

Obstruction: White House Blocking 20-Plus Congressional Investigations (5/11/2019)

“President Trump and his allies are working to block more than 20 separate investigations by Democrats into his actions as president, his personal finances, and his administration’s policies, according to a Washington Post analysis, amounting to what many experts call the most expansive White House obstruction effort in decades.

“Trump’s noncooperation strategy has shifted from partial resistance to all-out war as he faces mounting inquiries from the Democratic-controlled House — a strategy that many legal and congressional experts fear could undermine the institutional power of Congress for years to come. All told, House Democrats say the Trump administration has failed to respond to or comply with at least 79 requests for documents or other information. The president is blocking aides from testifying, refusing entire document requests from some committees, filing lawsuits against corporations to bar them from responding to subpoenas, and asserting executive privilege to keep information about the special counsel’s Russia investigation from public view.”

(Bade, Rachel & Kim, Seung Min; “Trump and His Allies Are Blocking More Than 20 Separate Democratic Probes in an all-out War With Congress”; The Washington Post; 5/11/2019.)

Subpoenas: Lindsay Graham Tells Donald Trump Jr. to Ignore Senate Subpoena (5/12/2019)

“On this weekend’s broadcast of ‘Sunday Morning Futures,’ Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) urged Donald Trump Jr. to ignore a subpoena issued by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). Graham said, ‘If I were Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer, I would tell him, you don’t need to go back into this environment anymore. You’ve been there for hours and hours and nothing being alleged here changes the outcome of the Mueller investigation.’ He added, ‘I would call it a day.’”

(Key, Pam; “Lindsey Graham Advises Donald Trump Jr. to Ignore Senate Subpoena”; Breitbart; 5/12/2019.)

China Tariffs: Top Trump Economic Adviser Admits Trump Lies (Tariffs Do Hurt U.S.) (5/13/2019)

“[O]n Sunday, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow acknowledged that tariffs on goods from China are effectively a tax on U.S. companies that is passed onto American consumers, contradicting Trump’s repeated insistence that the costs would be borne by China. ‘Fox News Sunday’ host Chris Wallace played a clip in which Trump said that the U.S. ‘can take in $120 billion a year in tariffs, paid for mostly by China, by the way, not by us. A lot of people try to steer it in a different direction. It’s really paid — ultimately, it’s paid for by — largely by China.’

“‘But, Larry, that isn’t true,’ Wallace told Kudlow. ‘It’s not China that pays tariffs. It’s the American importers, the American companies that pay what, in effect, is a tax increase and oftentimes passes it on to U.S. consumers.’”

“‘Fair enough,’ Kudlow said.”

(Cummings, William; “Trump Says Tariffs Hurt Only China, but Top Adviser Kudlow Admits ‘Both Sides Will Suffer’”; USA Today; 5/13/2019.)

China Tariffs: Stock Market Crashes in Response (5/13/2019)

“The S&P 500 fell 2.41%, or 69.53 points, as of market close. The Dow fell 2.38%, or 617.38 points, after earlier in the session being down more than 700 points. The Nasdaq declined 3.41%, or 269.92 points. China is set to impose a tariff rate of as high as 25% on a portion of $60 billion worth of U.S. goods starting June 1, the Chinese government announced Monday. The move is an apparent retaliation against the recent hike to levies the Trump administration implemented on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese imports late last week.”

(McCormick, Emily; “Dow Drops 600 Points After China Says It Will Impose Tariffs on U.S. Goods”; Yahoo News; 5/13/2019.)

Donald Trump: Embraces Yet Another Authoritarian Strongman Leader (5/13/2019)

“President Trump lavished praise on Monday on Viktor Orban, the authoritarian prime minister of Hungary and one of Europe’s leading nationalists, brushing aside concerns about his rollback of democratic institutions and warming ties with Russia.

“‘Viktor Orban has done a tremendous job in so many different ways,’ Mr. Trump said as he hosted the prime minister at the White House. ‘Highly respected. Respected all over Europe. Probably like me, a little bit controversial, but that’s OK. That’s OK. You’ve done a good job, and you’ve kept your country safe.’ …

“Mr. Orban has vowed to build ‘an alternative to liberal democracy,’ casting himself as a defender of a Christian homeland against Muslim migrants. Mr. Orban is just the latest of the world’s strongmen to find a warm reception in Mr. Trump’s White House. The president has hosted or praised autocrats from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Philippines, and Kazakhstan, ‘fell in love’ with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and upended his entire Syria policy after a phone call with Turkey’s iron-fisted leader, triggering the resignation in protest of his own defense secretary.”

(Baker, Peter; “Viktor Orban, Hungary’s Far-Right Leader, Gets Warm Welcome From Trump”; The New York Times; 5/13/2019.)

DOJ: Attorney General William Barr Opens (3rd) Probe Into Russia Investigation Origins; Trump “Proud” (5/14/2019)

“Attorney General William Barr is stepping up the probe into the origins of the Russia investigation, naming a U.S. attorney to oversee the investigation and working with intelligence chiefs to see how surveillance was conducted. … The investigation is examining intelligence and surveillance used during the Russia investigation that shadowed Donald Trump’s presidency for nearly two years. With the appointment, Barr is addressing a rallying cry of Trump and his supporters, who have accused the Justice Department and FBI of unlawfully spying on his campaign. …

“As he left the White House Tuesday for a trip to Louisiana, Trump referred to Mueller’s investigation as a ‘hoax’ — as he has frequently done in the past — and said he didn’t ask Barr to open the inquiry and didn’t know about it in advance. ‘But I think it’s a great thing that he did it,’ Trump said. ‘I am so proud of our attorney general that he is looking into it. I think it’s great.’”

(Balsamo, Michael & Lucey, Catherine; “AG William Barr Appoints Prosecutor, Working With Intelligence Chiefs to Examine Origins of Russia Probe”; AP; as cited in Chicago Tribune; 5/14/2019.)

Subpoenas: Donald Trump Jr. Agrees to Answer Senate Subpoena and Appear (5/14/2019)

“Donald Trump Jr. has reached a deal to sit down with the Senate Intelligence Committee, a week after the Republican-led panel issued a controversial subpoena. … Trump Jr.’s legal team [earlier] was preparing a letter indicating Trump Jr. would not participate. … The eldest son of President Donald Trump was expected to be asked about his contact with Russians during the 2016 presidential election. Trump Jr.’s testimony back in September 2017 was called into question after comments made by the president’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen.”

(Schwartz, Brian & Daniels, Jeff; “Donald Trump Jr. Strikes Deal With Senate Intel Committee After Subpoena to Testify”; CNBC.com; 5/14/2019.)

Obstruction: Congress Probing Obstruction of Justice by Trump Lawyers (5/14/2019)

“President Trump’s legal team slammed House Democrats on Tuesday evening after a report the House Intelligence Committee has been investigating possible obstruction by Trump’s lawyers after the 2016 election. … [A] New York Times article published Tuesday [ ] said the Democrat-led committee ‘is investigating whether lawyers tied to President Trump and his family helped obstruct the panel’s inquiry into Russian election interference by shaping false testimony.’ …

“The newspaper reported the questions emerged from claims made by Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer who publicly turned on his ex-boss while under investigation earlier this year. Cohen, who reported to prison this week to begin a three-year sentence, told Congress that ‘the lawyers in question helped edit false testimony that he provided to Congress in 2017 about a Trump Tower project in Moscow,’ as the Times reported. Cohen reportedly said they also offered a potential pardon to try to keep his loyalty.”

(Kaplan, Talia; “Trump Legal Team Slams House Dems for Investigating Possible Russia Probe Obstruction”; FoxNews.com; 5/14/2019.)

China Tariffs: GOP Senators Become Willing to Criticize Trump’s Handling (5/14/2019)

“Senate Republicans expressed growing concern Tuesday that President Trump’s escalating trade war with China is hurting their constituents in rural America, ratcheting up tension between the White House and Congress on a signature issue. Some Republican lawmakers, increasingly frustrated with Trump, took the unusual step of openly criticizing a president from their own party. ‘I’m not sure if you talk to him face to face, he hears everything you say,’ said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who has emerged as one of Trump’s chief critics on trade and who said he planned to write to the president to explain farmers’ concerns.”

(Paletta, Damian & Werner, Erica & Telford, Taylor; “GOP Senators Raise Alarms, Criticize Trump as U.S.-China Trade War Heats Up”; The Washington Post; 5/14/2019.)

Donald Trump: White House Purposely Ramping Up Iranian Tensions, Possibly for an Attack (5/15/2019)

“Members of Congress are seeking answers from the Trump administration on U.S. plans to respond to escalating tensions with Iran, demanding more information about fast-moving developments in the Middle East. … ‘Things are happening at warp speed here,’ [Bob] Menendez [(D-N.J.)] said. ‘We don’t need another Iraq weapons of mass destruction moment, that we’re led into things on false information, unverifiable, untested. So I am alarmed that we cannot even get the basic briefings in a timely manner.’ … Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said, ‘The administration is engaged in a series of blind escalations without any endgame.’”

(Dennis, Steven T. & House, Billy; “Congress Demands Iran Briefing From White House as Tensions Rise”; Bloomberg; 5/15/2019.)

Obstruction: New White House Counsel Tells Congress No Mueller “Re-Do,” Blocks all Info, Witness Requests (5/15/2019)

“Congress has no right to conduct a ‘do-over’ of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 U.S. election, the White House has said, in a letter blasting House Democrats’ ‘sweeping’ requests for documents as an effort to harass political opponents. The letter dated 15 May from the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, to the House judiciary committee chair, Jerry Nadler, takes the view that the committee’s investigation serves no legitimate legislative purpose. He also questioned whether the House investigation is a ‘legitimate exercise of oversight authority’ and says the White House will ‘resist the overbroad demands.’”

(Guardian staff and agencies; “‘No Do-Over’: White House Says Congress Is Trying to Overturn Mueller Report”; The Guardian; 5/15/2019.)

Abortion: Alabama Passes Near-Total Abortion Ban, No Rape or Incest Exception (5/15/2019)

“An Alabama bill intended to test whether President Trump’s Supreme Court appointees will allow for the banning of abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, threatened Wednesday to reshape the dynamics of the 2020 election. Democrats erupted with loud and sustained outrage in an effort to reclaim the upper hand on a politically sensitive issue. … Republican leaders, by contrast, spent much of the day avoiding questions about the Alabama law, wary of being dragged into a debate over whether to refuse rape and incest victims the option of abortion following forced pregnancies.”

(Scherer, Michael & Sonmez, Felicia; “Abortion Ban Reaction: Democrats Erupt, Republicans Stay Quiet as Both Sides See an Impact in the 2020 Election”; The Washington Post; 5/15/2019.)

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Trump Corruption Chronicles — We Must Never Forget