Eternal Victimhood

NOTE:  I’ve been thinking, and writing, about other things the last few days, having little to do with the ongoing political shit show we’re all either riveted to or trying our best not to watch.  One or two of these pieces on other, nonpolitical, subjects should come as a refreshing relief to many of my select readers.   I will post these pieces soon, in due time, such as time is ever truly due.  

now, back to the political shit show:

The president, though apparently idolized by a solid, unshakeable 39% or so, is regarded by most Americans as, at best, a self-aggrandizing con-man.   His lying is well-known, his lies are transparently false most of the time.  Thousands of his lies have been documented and debunked while new ones are spouted virtually every time he speaks on any subject.  He simply can’t help it.  It’s kind of his thing.   

At least 61% of Americans find it horrifying that the American president is a compulsive liar.  One was impeached twenty years back for telling just a couple of lies that had nothing to do with the country’s well-being.   When Clinton was impeached it his lying was posed as a stark moral question, a pure matter of character, a man who publicly lies, under OATH!, about having his dick sucked is not trustworthy nor fit to be the president.   Trump’s supporters are more forgiving — OK, he lies sometimes, who hasn’t?, but the larger picture he has absolutely right. 

Personally, I find it not always easy to write or speak about the man without getting angry.   Trump represents everything I hate: a shallow, self-focused, covetous, entitled, grasping, lying bully who cheats and humiliates others in his obsession to prove he’s better than everybody else.  Best of all, he’s always the victim, whenever he doesn’t get his way he screams and sprays his feces over everybody, huffing and crying like a confronted Brett Kavanaugh.  This type always considers themselves the victim of an unfair system rigged against these supremely entitled best of the best.  I see them as malignantly childish.  Trump has never felt regret or remorse, never apologized for anything in his life of obscene and totally unearned privilege. On top of it, he revels in being cruel, as most bullies do.

The president stands accused, among many other serious lapses, improprieties, crimes and derelictions of duty, of holding up promised military aid to a beleaguered ally until their leader agreed to do him certain favors.  Stunningly, one of these favors, as reported in an inexact transcript/summary of the call provided by the White House, involves the debunked and ridiculous conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the DNC server and Hillary Clinton’s supposedly missing private emails.  (I wonder if he also believes the Ukrainians have the proof the hated woman also personally murdered those American heroes in Benghazi… or proof about that pizza place where she ran the pedophile dating service…)  Trump’s other favor was a simple ask just like the one Mueller totally exonerated him of doing with Putin, asking a foreign leader for help with his domestic political campaign.   He kept new Ukrainian president Zelensky on the hook for weeks as surrogates softened him up,  before eventually calling to tell him to uncover dirt on Joe Biden and his son that he could use against Biden in his ongoing 2020 campaign.

Uncharacteristically, the president quickly released a partial sort of transcript of the hidden July 25th call, and the whistleblower’s complaint (after a bipartisan demand by Congress). He released the documents in an attempt to prove that he has nothing to hide,  is completely and totally innocent of these terrible, spurious charges brought by his vicious, sick, dangerous enemies in an invalid and unconstitutional witch hunt investigation.  

True, according to POTUS, the whistleblower was a fucking liar, and his or her cowardly hearsay complaint, based completely on lies, amounted to treason, and the report, found “credible” and “urgent” (you get what I did there?  those marks mean “bullshit”, LOL!)  by the office that “investigates” such “reports”, should never have been forwarded to Congress (the law that requires this is itself corrupt and arguably invalid) — but still, in the name of full transparency (on which Trump perversely prides himself), the White House released a non-verbatim summary transcript of the president’s perfect call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.  

According to Trump the call with Zelensky was “perfect”.   To anyone else who read the transcript, and the later-released whistleblower’s complaint, and followed the details of how records of that perfect call were removed from their normal place in the government filing system and concealed in a special top secret server reserved for password-protected national security secrets, that perfection was troubling.  

The call as reported appears to show a direct quid pro quo, which means, in plain English: I’ll do this for you IF you do that for me.  Zelensky says words to the effect of “we need those anti-tank missiles, Mr. President”, to which Trump replies: “I need a favor from you, though.”   As so often, so much can hang on a single word. In this case, the telltale word “though”.   I’ll do that, you need to do this, though.

The Democrats who are investigating Trump for impeachment on probably a dozen grounds, including the strong case for obstruction of justice laid out clearly in Mueller’s detailed, scrupulously nonjudgmental account (and ongoing since), the president’s shamelessly unethical monetizing of public office (“that depends on what your definition of ’emolument’ is”), his routine refusal to obey laws and court orders, suddenly have a clearly smoking gun, handed to them by Trump.   The day after Trump felt the thrill of victory when Mueller, forced to testify, didn’t lay a finger on him in the eyes of the average American, he called another foreign leader to try to make a deal to advance his own narrow political/financial interests.

Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, gave a fiery statement underscoring the gist of what Mr. Trump’s impeachable offense was in the call to Ukrainian President Zelensky.  This quid pro quo is easy to understand.  It’s also easy to see that this “I help you if you help me” deal was offered not for the benefit of the nation Trump represents but for the benefit of a single political campaign, Trump’s.   It is a clear shakedown easy enough for an unsophisticated person to follow and understand.  The Democrats finally had a nice, plain, easy to understand smoking gun for impeachment.  

And, by the way contrary to the White House mantra-like assertion that there was no quid pro quo, and the Acting Chief of Staff’s televised declaration that it was indeed that, there is no requirement, for purposes of impeachment, that there be a quid pro quo— that’s the John Roberts’ court’s new standard for criminal corruption by public officials.   The quid pro quo would make this a criminal matter, presidents are held to a higher standard than simply not being a convictable felon.  Another example of the lawless Trump and his lackeys moving the goalposts to try to gain any possible advantage, since everybody is against them in this clearly rigged game.  Back to Adam Schiff.

Schiff, if he had it to do over again, would probably read directly from the transcript provided by the Trump White House.   All the damning words are right there to be read aloud by anyone.  The words on the page, as they say, speak for themselves.   At the time of his public announcement, Schiff dramatized them slightly, characterizing them as the ominous words a mobster says to somebody at his mercy rather than the words the president of a powerful country says to the president of a besieged country that is at his mercy.  

“Nice country you got here, shame if anything happened to it… now listen carefully, I’m only going to say this seven more times…” might be a pithy characterization of Trump’s chat with Zelensky, and not inaccurate, but strictly speaking, as a matter of straight up strategy, Schiff should have stuck to the script the president handed him.

Trump and his people, an ever smaller and more fanatical circle, are in an increasingly tight spot politically and legally.  What do you do when the facts against you are damning and the courts, even judges you appointed, are unlikely to rule in your favor on any of your stalling legal “arguments” for your absolute right to prevent all testimony, hide compromising documents and obstruct legal investigations?  Even in the friendliest court, you need to give the judge some legal basis for upholding an “argument”, sadly for POTUS.   What to do?

Attack that fucking liar Schiff!  He said words I never said!  He was lying to America!   Schiff is a liar!   He hates America!  He’s a shifty little Schitt!    Attacking the “conflicted” Mueller — with his military service, all his decorations, long public service, reputation for probity, his famous Boy Scout “integrity”  — worked, it was perfect!   Attack this fucking treasonous California Communist!  

Trump’s most loyal Congressmen obliged.   House Republicans, led by their most extreme members, the “Freedom Caucus”, crafted a motion to censure the lying left wing traitor.

“These actions of Chairman Schiff misled the American people, bring disrepute upon the House of Representatives, and make a mockery of the impeachment process, one of this chamber’s most solemn constitutional duties,” the three-page resolution said.                              

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The House of Representatives is currently composed of 235 Democratic House members and 199 Republicans [1].    The vote to defeat the motion to censure Schiff went along party lines, with the Republicans losing by a comfortable (or uncomfortable, if you love Donald Trump) margin. 

Schiff tweeted minutes after the vote, “It will be said of House Republicans, When they found they lacked the courage to confront the most dangerous and unethical president in American history, They consoled themselves by attacking those who did.”    

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Shifty little bastard, idn’t he?  

 

[1]   I almost wrote “235 Democrats”, you know, members of the “Democrat” party, the party of the goddamned KKK, heh.    This is a right wing meme that is now all but ubiquitous everywhere — “Democrat” senator, “Democrat” congress bitch.  The idea appears to be not to let the “Democratic” party assume the mantle of being democratic as opposed to what the Republicans today are:  Liberty-lovers and warriors for non-majoritarian democracy!

 

The Best People

As promised, the president has drained the swamp and surrounded himself with the best people.   The cast in these demanding jobs may have changed a bit over the almost three years of the Trump administration, but the tone set by these excellent people, and their commitment to the president’s great agenda, remains the same.

Critics will say, of course, that Trump’s inexperienced daughter and born wealthy son-in-law, for example,  may not be the best people to handle the many sensitive issues they’ve been tasked to deal with.  Jared Kushner’s long-awaited secret plan for peace between Israel and Palestine remains secret, months after its promised release on the last day of Ramadan.   The hopelessness underlying the nation’s Opioid Crisis has not been touched, the problems of addiction and overdose have not been solved.   Ivanka has been fairly quiet too lately.  But that is the caviling of a nitpicker, these two are the best, American royalty, beautiful living Barbie and Ken dolls with the genius smarts of their great and morally upright parents.

The president’s other people, in  spite of great turnover, are the best and continue to get better.   Bill Barr, for example, is much, much closer to Roy Cohn than the weak Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III ever was.   Barr is a proven pitbull for the president and his agenda.   That’s what the attorney general is supposed to be, the president’s most powerful defender, come what may.   

Critics will carp, of course, and claim that the nation’s top law enforcement official, the head of the Department of Justice (created after the Civil War to enforce the newly amended Constitution),  is not the president’s personal bodyguard and spokesman, but critics will always be critical.  Like scorpions who sting to death the frog that is carrying them across the river, it’s their nature.

The president demands loyalty.  He’s a charming man in private, I have heard, which explains a lot.   He knows how to flatter people he wants to work for him, and how to reward them for good work.   In return, he expects total loyalty.   He is sometimes disappointed in the disloyal acts of people he trusted.   

He learned young, as he explained in a televised interview decades ago, that being too nice is a big mistake, it’s what killed his wonderful older brother Freddy [1]   If you’re too nice, people will screw you to death, which is what happened to Freddy, a person everybody wanted to be around, everyone confided in, a wonderful friend and brother.    Dead because he was too nice, people took advantage of him and that’s what killed him in the end.  [2] 

Sometimes those loyal people around him, in an excess of loyalty, make mistakes.  Mick Mulvaney, his acting Chief of Staff, put his foot in it yesterday in front of a group of probing reporters.   He said the quid pro quo that Trump has been denying in connection to the withholding of military aid to the Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Biden is something people just have to get over.   He sounded impatient that anyone was making a big goddamn deal out of it, saying “we do it ALL THE TIME!”.  As for the G7 being hosted at the Trump-owned Doral in steaming Miami next June, get over that too, Mulvaney told the press.   And no, he said, to a snarky question about the heat and humidity of Miami in June, climate change will not be on the agenda.

That ill-advised press conference will likely cost Mulvaney, a still pugnacious Koch-backed TeaBagger insurgent, his job.   He will still be the best, like Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Joe Arpaio and many other great people, but for purely political reasons he likely has to go.   He will be praised by the president as a very good man as he’s booted out the door.   Watching the sausage being made is never fun.

Quietly, meantime, Department of Energy secretary James Richard “Rick” Perry, one of los tres amigos who dealt with the Ukraine (another was the hotelier who gave Trump’s inauguration a cool million and was appointed ambassador to the EU) is preparing to slip out the door.   This leaves, if my memory serves me, only Elisabeth “Betsy” Prince DeVos and Ben Carson of the original cabinet of the best of the best.    They are certainly excellent people.   

Actually, my memory does not serve me well.   Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell’s powerful wife, is still Secretary of Transportation,   Sonny Perdue and Wilbur Ross are still heading, respectively, Agriculture and Commerce.  And Steve Mnuchin, of course, is the Secretary of the Treasury.   So actually the turnover has only been something like nine or ten of the original fifteen, only a 2/3 turnover rate.  Critics, of course, will crow about this being a sign of disarray, but it’s not a big deal, cabinets always turn over.

Of course, using skewed numbers and unfair statistics, as is their wont, the dishonest mainstream media distorts this natural trend for high government positions turning over, and states, without a shred of proof, a historically high 78% turnover rate.    You can read a short “article” about it here.

So fake, so fucking fake.  SAD!

 

 

[1]  I saw the clip of the young Trump discussing this as part of a great forty-eight minute BBC documentary called Meet the Trump’s: From Immigrant to President.   It is on Netflix, apparently, I thought I’d seen it on youTube and was trying to provide a link.   The only trace of it in the public domain  is here.

Highly recommended.   And Look who’s on the right in this family photo:

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[2]   An alternative explanation is that Freddy’s alcoholism raged out of control due to an unbearable, high-pressure life as the oldest son and expected heir of a demanding, savage, ruthless mogul.   In the end, Freddy drank himself to death while working as a janitor in one of his overbearing father’s buildings.    Drinking too much was likely treated as an intolerable weakness, not something to be confronted, not a sign that he needed help or support of any kind.   The weak die, and they need to.  That’s simply nature in Trumpworld.

 

Normalizing the unthinkable

In culture, especially one dominated by the persuasive arts of advertising (where our brains are actually shaped by ads more than by any other single force) what is acceptable is changed by creating new “norms”.   The Overton Window is moved in the desired direction and the range of what is acceptable changes.   

You don’t start a program of genocide, for example, without first making people truly hate the target population.  Once enough citizens accept that these people are scum, terrorists, criminals, rapists, parasites, an infestation of implacable enemies, it becomes much easier to get them to support harsh measures against the future subjects of genocide.  But the needle is moved one or two tics at a time in the desired direction by small cultural shifts.  Public readiness must be regularly tested to see how far their shifting beliefs have come.

At one time a president couldn’t say the word “bullshit!” in public, for example, now this president regularly thrills loyal campaign crowds with the word.  I’m not squeamish [1] about a fucking word, but, seriously– that’s all the control you have of your “best” words, your fine vocabulary? Oh, well, whatever works, I suppose.  As no less an expert than Herr Josef Goebbels shrewdly observed:

There is no point in seeking to convert the intellectuals for intellectuals will never be converted, and therefore we must yield to the man in the street. The arguments must therefore be crude, clear, and forcible and appeal to emotions and instincts, not intellect.

I was thinking of how this president has normalized lying.   All presidents lie once in a while.  It’s apparently part of the job description.   This president has set a new standard for lying and he’s become famous for openly and unabashedly lying many times a day.  He simply does it, can’t help it.  He’s compelled to lie by some force he can’t control.   And, best of all, everyone seems to now agree that lying, unless you lie under oath (which everybody knows is called perjury), is perfectly fine, perfect, really.  Presidents since Clinton have learned: never speak about a delicate subject under oath.

Lying, which used to be a bug to be concealed, is now a feature to be bragged about.   “So what, everybody lies, you’re lying right now saying that I’m lying, you bullshit-faced liar.  You’re the liar, not me (though, if I wanted to, I could lie much better than you)!  You losers make me sick with your bullshit lies, you’re the worst people, sick and dangerous.  You can all suck my sweaty blank-strap!”

The traitorous enemies of the people at Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post have created a lie tracker.  Type in the subject of a presidential statement, hit the button et, voila, every fact-checked lie the greatest winner in American, yea, world, history has told since becoming our forty-fifth (and possibly final) president.   I haven’t tried it myself, but why not give it a spin?

I guess my point here today is that Mr. Trump and his remaining loyal dead-enders (and yes, I recall that Rumsfeld used this to describe Iraqi “insurgents” who were no happier under a generous democratic US occupation than under that modern day Hitler Saddam who they’d been liberated from) keep returning to the only play they know.  When in trouble – LIE.   If you’re caught lying, lie about the lie and attack the person who caught you lying, the fucking liar.   

BBC report: Erdogan of Turkey read Trump’s childish letter that ended

History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!

I will call you later.

and tossed it in the garbage.  Of course, the BBC hates America, the Brits have been our enemies since before 1776 when they tried to bomb our airports.   Take state news with a grain, or better, a box, of salt.   They are fucking liars.  Ask Sean Hannity.

 

 

[1] my favorite dictionary definition.   Squeamish:   exhibiting a prudish readiness to be nauseated.

Why Authoritarians Always Crush Labor Unions as the first order of business

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Fascism cannot flourish, in any of its shades, without sewing hatred between citizens along race, gender, class and ethnic lines.  Authoritarianism works by creating a violently US vs. THEM society where loyal citizens know who to lash out at.   

Unions of organized labor, while sometimes problematic (union officials often become middle-men, protecting their own turf and working with the bosses) are also inherently democratic.  If you do the job, and want fair pay, and better working conditions, you forget the “differences” you may have with your co-workers and band together for common interests.  Often you become friends in the process.

Dictators and oligarchs HATE this kind of thing.

Don’t Be A Fool!

I don’t want to sound critical, God forbid.   Here is what Forbes opined about the letter Mr. Trump sent to the autocratic Turkish president last week (in relation to the slaughter and “ethnic cleansing” of the Kurds in northern Syria):

The letter’s tone, which some criticized as being unstatesmanlike for official diplomatic correspondence, led some to believe that it was satire published by The Onion, but the White House later confirmed that the letter is real, according to several media reports.

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You can read the letter here, it’s short and to the point.

 

 

How the Trump campaign (and Russia) used Facebook to win in 2016

From a recent interview Terry Gross did with Christopher Wylie,  former research director for the voter profiling outfit Cambridge Analytica, later acquired by Steve Bannon, with financing by Libertarian billionaire Robert Mercer, who threw his support to Trump after Lyin’ Ted dropped out of the race.  The work of this data-mining company was of incalculable value to Trump’s surgically precise 78,000 vote Electoral College victory in November 2016.

Here’s a bit of how the deal worked, how the Bannon-run Trump campaign mobilized marginal, alienated voters to cast their anger-fueled votes for plain talking Man of the People Donald J. Trump:

TERRY GROSS:   My guest became a whistleblower, exposing the role of the British voter profiling company Cambridge Analytica in the Trump presidential campaign and the Brexit campaign.  Christopher Wylie revealed how the company had harvested the information of tens of millions of Facebook users and combined that with other data to create psychological profiles and then use those profiles to target people susceptible to disinformation, racist thinking and conspiracy theories.   Cambridge Analytica then helped shape the disinformation narratives and pushed them out.

Wylie also revealed Cambridge Analytica’s links to Russia. Wylie had the documents and tapes to back him up.  He’d served as Cambridge Analytica’s research director for a year-and-a-half, then quit in 2014, disturbed by the direction it started taking after Steve Bannon became a major player in the company.

CHRISTOPHER WYLIE:  The basis of Cambridge Analytica’s work was essentially to take large amounts of highly granular data about each individual voter in the United States – a large bulk of that came from Facebook, but it came from many sources – and to look for patterns in that data to essentially infer different psychological attributes and, from that, to find target groups of people, particularly on the fringes of society, who would be more vulnerable to certain kinds of messaging.   They focused a lot on disinformation; They targeted people who were more prone to conspiratorial thinking.

And they used that data and they used social media more broadly to first identify those people and then engage those people and really begin to craft what, in my view, was an insurgency in the United States.

GROSS: Feeding them disinformation, sometimes conspiracy theories in support of the Trump campaign.

WYLIE:   Yes. And more broadly, you know, the – when Steve Bannon took over, he wasn’t just concerned about particular elections. He followed sort of this notion of the Breitbart doctrine, which is that politics exists downstream from culture – so don’t just focus on the day-to-day politics, try to actually make an impact on an enduring change in culture because politics will just flow from that.

GROSS:  When you say when Steve Bannon took over, he had a big role in Cambridge Analytica and then became campaign manager for Trump.

WYLIE:  Yes, he did. He found us in London. He convinced a billionaire to acquire the company, and then he transformed that company into, you know, a set of tools that he would be able to use to, in effect, manipulate a certain segment of the American voter population.

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Is anything unclear about this pattern?

Let’s try to keep this as simple as possible, to show Donald Trump’s consistent pattern of behavior as it goes to his motives.  A pattern of behavior can be used to establish corrupt motive– if the person does the same suspicious looking thing every time he is challenged you can infer the motive from that behavior. 

The current Ukraine drama/scandal is pretty easy to follow.  Trump, feeling elated after Mueller’s live testimony didn’t move the needle a tick about the findings of the investigation, called the newly elected president of the Ukraine the very next day to ask him for a favor: dirt on one of his top political rivals for the 2020 presidency.  The appearance of impropriety shocked several administration officials enough to make them hide the records of the call.   A whistleblower report about the call, vetted, found credible and urgent and legally required to go to Congress within a week, was buried on orders of Mr. Trump’s top people.   Since then Mr. T has vowed over and over to resist this new shameful, vicious, desperate, illegal and unconstitutional witch hunt against him.    The question is: did Mr. Trump act with corrupt motive or merely, as Barr insisted in regard to his repeated efforts to shut down the Mueller investigation, as an innocent man understandably outraged by the vicious unfairness of his enemies? 

I will take the high road today and resist starting the pattern prior to Mr. Trump’s presidency.  It would seem dirty and gratuitous to mention, for example, Trump’s well-known infidelity to each of his three wives — his affair with Marla Maples while married to Ivanka, the affairs while married to Maples, the dalliances with the two women he paid off to dummy up about sexual trysts they had while third wife Melania was recuperating from childbirth.  Bad, bad and bad– but NOT ILLEGAL.   Don’t worry about legal/illegal, though, let’s just look at the pattern of behavior.   Forget I mentioned this, or the large eve of 2016 election payouts to a Playboy model and a porn star (a quid pro quo— more than $100,000 each in exchange for non-disclosure agreements) that were at the center of what landed longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen in prison.

November 2016, Donald Trump is elected during an investigation of Russian meddling in the election.   This meddling would be detailed in  Mueller’s report and later confirmed in a bipartisan Senate report that also documented what Mueller called “sweeping and systematic” Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the election in favor of Mr. Trump.   

Trump was adamant in his denials of knowing anything about Russian help and insisted he was clearly joking when he looked into the television cameras and said “Russia, if you’re listening…” and then asked for the Hillary Clinton emails that magically were produced, hacked by Russians, a few hours later.  Plus — in fairness to DJT–  lifelong Republican partisan witch hunter Mueller was unable to find sufficient evidence of a chargeable criminal conspiracy between Trump’s team and Russia, numerous incidental indictments and convictions notwithstanding.

Now, follow the events after Trump is elected president.   National Security Adviser Flynn lied about speaking to the Russians about lifting sanctions during the transition period.   He apparently lied to Mike Pence and then to the FBI.   Trump immediately fired him.   In Flynn’s defense, and as Sean Hannity makes clear, the FBI trapped Flynn, they never told him he needed a lawyer or that lying to the FBI was a federal crime.   Total entrapment!   I’ve excerpted a section from an AP analysis that puts a lot of flesh on the hideous bones [1].   

So first big scandal of his new administration had this response from Trump: have somebody write an email denying the White House had anything to do with Flynn’s lying or his talks with Russia about lifting sanctions for election meddling.   (see bottom of FN 1]

Flynn is out and, to Trump’s disbelief, the FBI simply won’t let it drop.   Trump meets alone with FBI director James Comey, tells him Flynn’s a good guy, asks him to drop the investigation.   Comey is taken aback, tap dances a bit, makes detailed notes of the troubling conversation on his ride home.  Trump fires Comey to end the Russia witch hunt thing, as he later nonchalantly says on TV and claims as his prerogative.  But not before having AG Sessions and Deputy AG Rosenstein (the man soon to be in charge of the Mueller investigation) write letters urging him to fire Comey for his unfair handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.  

THE PATTERN:

The firing of Comey, while legally within the president’s sole discretion, raised flags when Trump met with Russians in a closed door oval office meeting the following day.  When Sessions told Trump the DOJ had opened an investigation into the president’s possible obstruction of justice, Trump, after a moment of despair, lashed out.    He ordered White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller, he later ordered McGahn to write a memo saying the president never ordered him to do it.   He also drafted Corey Lewandowski for purposes of getting Sessions to “unrecuse” and shut down Mueller’s probe.  Trump repeatedly tried to curtail the scope of  Mueller’s investigation.  POTUS prevented the disclosure of evidence and testimony, even refusing to answer the most pressing of the written questions his legal team was at a loss to answer without perjury.   

He later, at AG Barr’s recommendation, argued blanket presidential immunity to resist all subpoenas for anyone he’d ever had contact with.  Trump, before publicly humiliating Sessions and obtaining his forced resignation, repeatedly pressured him to “unrecuse” and put a lid on Mueller.   Trump tried to dissuade Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, both facing slam dunk charges of lying to investigators,  from cooperating with Mueller, dangling pardons if they remained loyal.   He had encouraged Michael Cohen to lie about the Trump Tower Moscow project, which continued well into the presidential campaign.   

Before the Mueller Report was finalized the president put a new Attorney General in, a man who’d auditioned for the job by pledging loyalty and protection to the Unitary Executive, to act as his unappealable spokesman and fixer.   Barr, the most openly corrupt AG this country has ever had, lied about Mueller’s findings while throwing dirt on Mueller’s good name and vowing to investigate the investigation itself.   Since then, muscular attempts by Trump dead-enders to resist all subpoenas for documents and testimony.  The latest is eight pages of Trump’s temper tantrum over the impeachment inquiry, thinly disguised by a shameless White House lawyer as a legal argument for why Congress can’t compel Trump to do shit.

What is unclear about this pattern?  How does it show anything but corrupt intent?   How do AG Barr, and Mr. Hannity, explain it away today?

Stay tuned.

If you’d like a dramatic guided tour of just the obstruction outlined in the Mueller report, you’ll find it here.    Here’s a nice quick guide to Trump’s lies about his perfect call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. 

 

[1]  The story [that Flynn had lied to him about discussing the lifting of Obama’s sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak] shook Pence, who had been in the dark. A review of Justice Department documents sealed it. Flynn couldn’t have just forgotten. He had lied. McGahn and Priebus told Trump he had to fire Flynn.

That weekend, Flynn flew to Mar-A-Lago with the president. On the plane back to Washington on Feb. 12, Trump asked him whether he lied to Pence. Flynn said he may have forgotten some things but denied lying. “OK. That’s fine,” Trump responded. “I got it.”

The next day, Flynn was out.

Priebus delivered the news. In the Oval Office, Trump embraced Flynn and shook his hand. “We’ll give you a good recommendation. You’re a good guy. We’ll take care of you,” he said.

Flynn had spent just 25 days as national security adviser.

Trump had lunch with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie the next day, which was Valentine’s Day. “Now that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over,” Trump told him. Christie burst out laughing. No way, he said.

“What do you mean?” Trump responded. “Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It’s over.”

Flynn is going to be like “gum on the bottom of your shoe,” Christie said.

___

In the Oval Office later that day, Flynn was still on Trump’s mind. The president was being briefed by his top national security team. That included FBI Director James Comey, who Trump was intent on making part of “his team.”

As the meeting wrapped up, Trump cleared the room and asked Comey to remain behind. “I want to talk about Mike Flynn,” Trump said, according to Comey. There was nothing wrong with Flynn’s calls with the Kislyak, he said, but he had to fire Flynn for lying to Pence.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump said, according to Comey. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Comey awkwardly sidestepped the issue. But over the next few weeks, Flynn remained on Trump’s mind.

Trump praised him publicly. Privately, he turned to McFarland, who had covered for Flynn before. On Feb. 22, 2017, McFarland, now the deputy national security adviser, was asked to resign. But Priebus and Bannon, who conveyed the message, suggested it came with a soft landing. The president could make her ambassador to Singapore.

The ask came a day later.

As reporters questioned whether he directed Flynn’s Russia contacts, Trump told Priebus to have McFarland draft an internal email saying that the president didn’t order Flynn to discuss sanctions with Kislyak.

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