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 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.   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.

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 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 Sessions and Rosenstein 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 having him 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 him and obtaining his forced resignation, repeatedly pressured Sessions to “unrecuse” and put a lid on Mueller.   Trump tried to dissuade Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort from cooperating with investigators, 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 and vowing to investigate the investigation itself.   Since then, muscular attempts by Trump dead-enders to resist all subpoenas for documents and testimony.

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

 

[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.

source

 

George Conway and Preet discuss Trump’s unfitness for office

I would recommend this conversation for anyone who may still be on the fence about whether Mr. Trump is fit for office.   The recent long, detailed  George Conway article takes a good bit of reading to get through.  The recent affable conversation between Preet Bharara, former United States Attorney for the Southern District  of New York, and corporate lawyer George Conway is snappy.   Check it out here.   The transcript of their conversation, thankfully, is here.

A few nice moments from that transcript (I was ready to transcribe this myself):

Calling it what it actually is:

George Conway:           In fact, one of the descriptive terms in the psychological literature for narcissistic sociopaths such as Trump, narcissistic sociopaths who have elements of paranoia and sadism, there’s a term called malignant narcissism, and that was a term coined by a psychoanalyst named Erich Fromm, who was a Holocaust survivor. And he spent a lot of time writing and thinking and writing about what explains these tyrants like Hitler. What is it about their personality traits that is common?

George Conway:           The point is that, if there was a psychological designation for evil, it would be malignant narcissism. It coincides with moral failings. So there’s nothing, in any of these psychological terms, even if you had a full-out actual diagnosis of the parallels, what I wrote in the article, that would not excuse his moral failings. Not at all. Not for a moment.

Part of The Case for Impeachment:

George Conway:   You don’t want to impeach somebody for one isolated incident that wasn’t so bad. I think particularly when you’ve got an election coming up, and there’s a bit of judgment involved in weighing the seriousness of what I call a breach of fiduciary duty that amounts to a high crime and misdemeanor. Part of that is looking to patterns of behavior. And in the case of Trump, there is a pattern of behavior. He does tend to use his office for personal gain in many respects.

George Conway:           I mean, you can point to his threats to Amazon and you can point to his apparent determination to have the next G7 summit at Trump Doral. I mean there are so many different things, I list many of them in the article, his vendettas against ambassadors and allies and so on. I mean, you can point to so many things, areas and ways in which he puts himself before the country. Not all of those things individually would amount to an impeachable offense, but they do fit a pattern. The reason why they fit a pattern is because that’s who he is, and the reason why that’s who he is is because of these personality disorders.

On Trump/White House Counsel’s double down obstruction letter to Congress about the” illegitimate, unconstitutional impeachment inquiry”:   

Preet Bharara:   I don’t understand this on a strategic level, forget about moral and character-

George Conway:   Because Trump’s, his theory is never to give ground on anything and he never shows remorse for anything.

Preet Bharara:    Is that part of his personality disorder or is that just, he’s a tactical genius?

George Conway:   It’s part of his personality disorder, and it relates to both his narcissism and his sociopathy. As a narcissist, he completely lacks empathy. He can’t see the world the way other people see it. It’s not just, “I feel your pain,” kind of empathy, but it’s also he can’t put himself in the position of how other people see him or see the world. Then there’s the complete lack of remorse. He’s not capable of remorse in any way. You don’t see him apologize or feel guilty about anything. The only time you ever saw him apologize was for the Billy Bush tape.

Preet Bharara:       The Access Hollywood, right.

George Conway:     Right. And that was within weeks, he was telling people, according to Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, he was telling people that the thing was doctored. Which is completely-

Preet Bharara:      After he had admitted it was [inaudible 00:40:07]. (him talking)

George Conway:   After he admitted it was [inaudible 00:40:08] (him talking) and there was no evidence of doctoring and he was telling the United States senators that the thing was doctored, which is just completely insane.

Preet Bharara:    So the polls have been shifting a little bit.

George Conway:  Right. A lot, actually.

Preet Bharara:    What is the significance and what weight should be put on public sentiment in connection with impeachment?

George Conway:     Well, I think it’s … it is very significant and I think a bunch of different things are going on here. One is obviously there’s movement because I think some people are following Nancy Pelosi’s lead, but I also think people are influenced by the brazenness of the conduct that they see, that he engaged in with respect to Zelensky. I also think the bizarreness and the extremeness of his response has triggered a reaction, particularly with those press conferences, with the Finnish prime minister or president or whatever.

Preet Bharara:    I always feel bad for those guys.

George Conway:     It’s just incredible. I mean, I guess … I hope they get a warning before they go in there. And then finally I think, and I don’t think … I think you can’t underestimate this, there’s an exhaustion factor that’s starting to set in among the marginal Trump supporters, I think. That like, “When is this going to end? What is it with this guy? He continually does this. It’s just, I can’t take it anymore. It’s like the volume’s up at 11 all the time.” He keeps digging himself in… It’s not the fake news. He did this to himself. He does it to himself. He’s his own worst enemy.

Preet Bharara:      It’s even worse because you’re like, “Oh God, I just want some light entertainment. Maybe I can watch Dancing with the Stars. Oh my God, there’s Sean Spicer.”

George Conway:   And I think that the other thing to understand about it, too is, I mean, first of all, you have the independent voters, some of whom I think are probably former Republicans, he needed in 2016, remember, he … I mean, the two most important numbers in American politics today are 20, which is the number of Republican senators it would take to remove him from office, and the other number is 77,744, which is the aggregate number of votes by which he won Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

A few things POTUS denies today

The Trump administration has faced widespread criticism from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers for abandoning the stateless Kurds who had helped the U.S. fight ISIS.

source

Trump: fake news, false, a complete and total lie, they love me, my people, plus the Kurds didn’t help us at Normandy during World War Two

Both Republicans and Democrats affirm that Russia, not Ukraine, was responsible for tampering with the U.S. election.

source

Trump: complete partisan shit job from Shifty Shitt and the “squad”, a total lie by very corrupt and treasonous traitors who are going to lose some primaries, I can tell you for sure

One from the give me a fucking break department:

Screen Shot 2019-10-10 at 6.29.05 PM.png

This totally, totally fake “bipartisan” “Senate Report” confirming “Mueller” “finding” of “sweeping and systematic” Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election below [1]:

85 fake pages worth

Trump: they make this crap up because they can’t touch me — and they’re jealous, and corrupt kangaroos, sick and dangerous “people”.  Article Two, nobody talks about it, Article Two, look it up, bitches.

 

[1]  From (U)REPORT OF THE REPORT 116-XX S ELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE UNITED STATES SENATE ON RUSSIAN ACTIVE MEASURE;S CAMPAIGNS AND INTERFERENCE IN THE 2016 U.S. ELECTION ‘ VOLUME 2: RUSSIA’S USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA WITH ADDITIONAL VIEWS

I. (U) INTRODUCTION In 2016, Russian operatives associated with the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) used social media to conduct an information warfare campaign designed to spread disinformation and societal division in the United States. •••••••REDACTED  ••••••• Masquerading as Americans, these operatives used targeted advertisements, intentionally falsified news articles, self-generated content, and social media platform tools to interact with and attempt to deceive tens of millions of social media users in the United States. This campaign sought to polarize Americans on the basis of societal, ideological, and racial differences, provoked real world events, and was part of a foreign government’s covert support of Russia’s favored candidate in the U.S. presidential election .•••••••••••

George Conway makes a strong case for the president’s unfitness for office

What I’ve read about him makes me no fan of George Conway or his worldview.   He’s a corporate lawyer, for starters, an expert in “corporate ethics” — whatever that might be.   Conway is an enthusiastic participant in Federalist Society galas who celebrated the appointment of the unimpeachable Boof Kavanaugh.  He’s a partisan right wing Free Market conservative.   That he is the husband of shameless alternative-fact spouter Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s most ardent loyalists, is not a fact (alternative or otherwise) in his favor, from my point of view.  

Yet George Conway has long been publicly critical of the reality TV president’s regular excesses.   I suspect a lot of Conway’s opposition has to do with the damage the volatile, conspiracy mongering Trump is doing to the right-wing brand.   Hard to defend liberty from government tyranny when the front man for your cause is acting like an unhinged government tyrant.

Recently Conway wrote a long article for The Atlantic entitled “Unfit for Office” with the subtitle: Donald Trump’s narcissism makes it impossible for him to carry out the duties of the presidency in the way the Constitution requires.   You can read it here.

I have to give it to the man, it is a very well-written, thorough and compelling case that states the obvious in painstaking detail, with hundreds of illustrations.   As he points out at the start: you don’t need to be an orthopedist to know that when a man’s foot is violently twisted at a hideous angle to his body, a loud snap is heard and the afflicted man is writhing in agony, unable to sit up, his leg broken in a grotesquely unnatural position, that the guy has a serious medical problem.   Same with the president’s clear pattern of lying, attacking, bragging, blaming, erratically changing course, compulsively doubling down.    

Malignant Narcissist?   Who knows.   Trump is clearly unfit to be a corporate CEO, (this person is a fiduciary in Conway’s world), or even the manager of a Burger King, let alone the president of the United States.  That much is pretty clear to the 60% of American voters who have never supported him.

Conway didn’t mention the murder and dismemberment of American resident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the grisly hit ordered by Jared Kushner’s good buddy Mohammed bin Salman, or Trump’s nuanced embrace of the ever changing lies the Saudis kept spinning when the shocking story was front page news for a couple of weeks.   If Trump had his way, the man who wrote these traitorous, treasonous, fake words would meet a similar fate, no question about it:

(4) Requires excessive admiration? Last Thanksgiving, Trump was asked what he was most thankful for. His answer: himself, of course. A number of years ago, he made a video for Forbes in which he interviewed two of his children. The interview topic: how great they thought Donald Trump was. When his own father died, in 1999, Trump gave one of the eulogies. As Alan Marcus, a former Trump adviser, recounted the story to Timothy O’Brien, he began “more or less like this: ‘I was in my Trump Tower apartment reading about how I was having the greatest year in my career in The New York Times when the security desk called to say my brother Robert was coming upstairs’”—an introductory line that provoked “‘an audible gasp’ from mourners stunned by Trump’s self-regard.” According to a Rolling Stone article, other eulogists spoke about the deceased, but Trump “used the time to talk about his own accomplishments and to make it clear that, in his mind, his father’s best achievement was producing him, Donald.” The author of a book about the Trump family described the funeral as one that “wasn’t about Fred Trump,” but rather “was an opportunity to do some brand burnishing by Donald, for Donald. Throughout his remarks, the first-person singular pronouns—I and me and mine—far outnumbered he and his. Even at his own father’s funeral, Donald Trump couldn’t cede the limelight.”

The (4) Conway refers to here is one of the nine diagnostic criteria for the most extreme form of narcissism.  They are listed in the DSM (the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the authoritative text that psychiatrists, psychologists and insurance companies use to determine who is clinically nuts and what exact shade of pathological nuttiness they suffer from.  

I adopt this cute form because the DSM is far from a definitive masterwork of the healing arts, particularly in the tricky, mysterious, value-laden, fluid field of mental health disorders.   In the first edition of the DSM (they are up to version 5 or 6) homosexuality, for example, was considered a mental disorder.  It was listed in the DSM as a “sociopathic personality disturbance” for more than twenty years.    Still, Trump’s nine for nine on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s list for Malignant Narcissism is impressive.   A clinician only needs five of the nine to make the case, write the code, prescribe the pharmaceutical, have the insurance company cut a check.  

Conway makes the point that we don’t need a clinical diagnosis to see the problem with having somebody like this as the most powerful person in the country.   Every day there are numerous examples of his unfitness for office.   I guess, given the circumstances, Conway would prefer the more dignified Mike Pence as president. Pence may be a pious, rigid yet supremely ambitious conservative fanatic (with enormous talents as an ass-licking sycophant) placed in public position by the cynical Koch machine, (like Mike Pompeo and Mick Mulvaney), but at least he’s not an embarrassingly loud-mouthed imbecile who threatens to destroy the carefully cultivated, expensively promoted right wing brand.  Conway:

The diagnostic criteria offer a useful framework for understanding the most remarkable features of Donald Trump’s personality, and of his presidency. (1) Exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements? (2) Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance(3) Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and should only associate with other special or high-status people?  That’s Trump, to a T.  As Trump himself might put it, he exaggerates accomplishments better than anyone. In July, he described himself in a tweet as “so great looking and smart, a true Stable Genius!” (Exclamation point his, of course.) That “stable genius” self-description is one that Trump has repeated over and over again—even though he has trouble  with spellingdoesn’t know the difference between a hyphen and an apostrophe, doesn’t appear to understand fractions, needs basic geography lessonsspeaks at the level of a fourth grader, and engages in “serial misuse of public language” and “cannot write sentences,” and even though members of his own administration  have variously considered him to be a “moron,” an “idiot,” a “dope,” “dumb as shit,” and a person with the intelligence of a “kindergartener” or a “fifth or sixth grader” or an “11-year-old child.

If that’s not high treason, yo, what the fuck is?  It’s fucking BullSHIT!   SAD!!!   Good thing Mr. Trump has Mr, Giuliani and Mr. Barr on speed dial for exactly this kind of traitorous treachery.  USA!   USA!!!    

Read the article and tell me George Conway is wrong about Trump’s unfitness for the office he holds in his short-fingered, vulgar hands.

Way to do it, Bobby Three Sticks…

I know, I know, the Mueller report is a dead letter, old news, been there, heard the pundits and party hacks go over the talking points, nothing to see here, etc.   Bear with me for a moment, I’ll be brief.

Though there was a great deal of damning evidence contained in Mueller’s massive report, it was scattered over hundreds of carefully written pages, among the sometimes excruciatingly quibbling legalese Bagpiper Bill Barr was able to characterize as a caviling, equivocating punt that amounted to the exoneration of the man Mueller explicitly said he could not exonerate.    

Read this random example of a very important buried headline (brought to light in the PBS review of the report I got this screen shot from) from page 97 of the second volume:

Screen shot 2019-08-31 at 1.18.22 PM.png

“Substantial evidence” that the president’s efforts were intended to prevent investigation into his conduct (the corrupt motive part of the crime obstruction of justice) is not quite the same as “no evidence” as Mr. Fucking Barr kept insisting Mueller and his team had turned up.

Bill Maher said recently that Mueller “shit the bed” by formulating such a difficult and inconclusive report of serious, well-documented criminal wrongdoing.   Fair enough, I suppose, though I’m a bit more on the fence.  

Mueller’s report, at times convoluted in its attempts to be “fair”, certainly does not making its disturbing storyline crystal clear.  On the other hand, there is much to laud Three Sticks for.

Mueller uncovered and preserved a ton of important evidence, though he did it in a way that left his scrupulously careful report open to Barr’s deliberate mischaracterization (thereby effectively shitting the bed, if we take Mueller’s purpose as to advance justice and curb corruption).  

Mueller undoubtedly did future historians a great favor, providing them a wealth of detail, but he also acted, as he struck the Arnold Palmer putting pose over his bed, as though all public officials are as fair-minded and forthright as he appears to be.  

“I present the facts, ma’am, only the facts, and let our Constitutional checks and balances do the rest, as the Founders intended.   I hand over this detailed blueprint to the Congress, the only proper constitutional trier of the troubling facts I herein uncover.   I have done my job to preserve our democracy, now others must step forward to do their’s.”

The flaw in this noble idea, of course, is the presumption of a functional government in our current lobbyists for oligarchs/corporations dominated democracy.  

As if Mueller had never seen a serious news report in the last decade or so about the stalled workings of our government checks and balances.  

As if a Senate presided over by Moscow Mitch McConnell is not the place where anything that might disrupt the seamless right wing narrative (including safeguarding future elections from the sweeping and systematic foreign electoral meddling Mueller uncovered) is consigned to a slow, silent death.  

McConnell recently announced that the Senate would not debate or vote on any bill the president did not tell them in advance he was willing to sign.  

If you had any questions about the terminal state of this sickening partisan brazenness, Bobby Three Sticks, you could have just googled Merrick Garland.

Instead of, arguably, not completely refraining from succeeding in not shitting the bed.