Scared Sh*tless: Der Fuhrer Trump Threatens to Cancel ‘All Future Press Briefings’

The fallout from Donald Trump’s incompetently executed firing of FBI Director James Comey continues to rain down hard on his administration. Not only did he transparently interfere with an active investigation of his collusion with Russia, but he admitted as much in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt.

Comey Trump

At one point in the interview, Holt pressed Trump “Did you ask, am I under investigation?” Trump responded saying that “I actually asked him, yes. I said, if it’s possible, will you let me know, am I under investigation? He said, you are not under investigation.”

That is a wholly inappropriate question for a president to ask an FBI director under any circumstances. But in this case, Trump already told Holt that the dinner where this occurred was one where Comey was seeking to stay on as director. So Trump was actually tying Comey’s job prospects to the investigation. Elsewhere it was reported that Trump had tried to extract a loyalty pledge from Comey, which Comey refused.

These comments are literally impeachable offenses all by themselves. Trump’s intimidation tactics were obvious and intolerable. Not surprisingly, the media reported on what he said, which always makes him mad. But this morning’s tweetstorm included some frightening suggestions of a tyrannical mindset:

First of all, Trump is making excuses for his press representatives dispensing misinformation (lies) to the public. That is never acceptable. If there is some question about the facts, the correct answer is “I don’t know. I’ll get back to you.” But Trump’s people instead decided to pollute the discourse with falsehoods.

More importantly, Trump’s casual suggestion that he might just cancel all future press briefings reflects his tendencies toward fascist authoritarianism. The presidency is not his fiefdom. It is a position of service to the people. Press briefings are the method by which the people’s intermediaries in the media have opportunities to hold national leaders accountable. They cannot be replaced by written press releases.

What’s more, Trump’s anger is entirely misplaced. He’s mad at the press because he and his staff are incompetent. The issue that preceded his outburst was Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying that Trump fired Comey at the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. That wasn’t true, and Trump himself contradicted it the next day in his interview with Holt by saying that he already planned to fire Comey regardless of the recommendation. So in Trump’s deranged brain, the press must be punished and banished.

Another item in this morning’s Twitter tirade was also notable for its threat to democracy and the rule of law:

REALLY? Trump is implying that he might be keeping Nixon like secret recordings. Comey isn’t the one who should be worried if such tapes exist. Their existence, and Trump’s use of them to intimidate, would be another justification for impeachment. And something tells me that the contents of any such tapes would affirm Comey’s account of what occurred at their meetings. Trump, after all, is a pathological liar.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

HUH? Trump Now Says He MIGHT Release His Tax Returns – ‘After I’m Out Of Office’

An interview of President Donald Trump by The Economist was published today. The transcript reveals a painfully incoherent man who appears incapable of answering a question. His rambling, off-topic responses are typically excuses to demean his opponents or brag about himself.

Donald Trump

Among the absurdities in the interview were his claim to have coined the phrase “prime the pump.” As the folks at Merriam-Webster tweeted later, that phrase is about two hundred years old. The interviewer even told him that he knew the phrase. But that didn’t stop the President from asserting that he made it up “a couple of days ago.” Well, not only didn’t he just make it up, he used it himself five months ago.

In that vein of utter nonsense, Trump was also asked about the political path to passing his tax reform plan. Democrats have recently been hinting that they would block any Trump tax bill if he didn’t release his returns. Their argument is that without that data it would be impossible to gauge whether the plan would improperly benefit the President and his family. The Economist sought to discern what negotiating strategies Trump might use to get enough Democratic support for the plan pass in Congress. That led to this exchange:

Economist: If you do need Democratic support for your tax plan, your ideal tax plan, and the price of that the Democrats say is for you to release your tax returns, would you do that?
Trump: I don’t know. That’s a very interesting question. I doubt it. I doubt it. Because they’re not going to…nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters. Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually. I did a good job. […] I might release them after I’m out of office.

SRSLY? After he’s out of office would obviously be too late to apply anything that is learned from the data. It would be too late to catch him enriching himself, his family, and his cronies. It would be too late assess whether he had any improper dealings with Russia or other unsavory characters. What’s more, if he hasn’t felt sufficient pressure to release his taxes during his campaign or presidency, what would make anyone think he’d release them after he leaves office?

In addition to that phony offer, Trump also repeated the lie that no one cares about his taxes but reporters. Every poll on the subject shows large majorities of the American people want him to release his returns. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed 74 percent in favor of releasing his returns. That includes 49 percent of his own supporters.

The excuse that an alleged audit prevents him from releasing the returns was never credible. Even the IRS refuted that claim as baseless. If Trump were really proud of the good job he did, he would have released his returns long ago. There’s nothing he likes better than a pat on the back and a cookie for good behavior. Clearly there is something he’s hiding that frightens him were it to be revealed.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Between his tax returns and the rapidly unfolding connections to Russia, Trump is mired in a pool of quicksand of his own making. He is sinking fast and his only recourse is total obstruction. However, that’s a strategy that won’t hold up for long. And eventually even his Republican colleagues will start to abandon him in order to save their own necks. When that happens watch for the bottom to fall out fast.

It’s Not Just Comey: Trump’s Scorched Earth Policy Toward Those Investigating Him

The legal concept of “consciousness of guilt” is when a suspect behaves in a manner that an innocent person would not. For example, engaging in actions to hide evidence or cover up participation in unlawful events. Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is the best evidence to date that he is aware of his culpability in a crime. It’s hard not to recognize that he knows that the law is circling around him and he is running scared.

Donald Trump

News reports are filling in some of the blanks since the bombshell announcement about Comey. One report notes that subpoenas have been issued by a Grand Jury investigating Michael Flynn’s connections to Russia. Another reveals that Comey had recently requested additional funds for the FBI’s probe. Sensing the noose tightening, Trump tweeted:

The next day Trump fired Comey. No matter what opinions one has of Comey, it is undeniable that Trump’s abrupt dismissal of him is troubling. Terminating an FBI Director who is leading an active investigation is a wholly inappropriate interference with the administration of justice. And the explanation provided by the administration couldn’t be more absurd. Does anyone believe that Trump fired Comey because Comey was too tough on Hillary Clinton?

The Comey debacle would be bad enough on its own. However, it is just the latest in a string of personnel moves that form a disturbing pattern.

In January Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Yates is a career prosecutor who spent 27 years with the Justice Department serving presidents of both parties. The publicly stated reason for her termination was that she refused to defend Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban in court. However, it later became known that Yates personally warned Trump about Flynn’s Russian connections. She provided documentation of the possibility that he had been compromised and advised Trump to act. It took Trump eighteen days to do so. Meanwhile, Yates had already been handed her pink slip.

In March Trump fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Well respected by his colleagues, Bharara also had the bipartisan support of Congress. Even Trump supported him at first and personally asked him to stay on. That didn’t last long. Trump’s support began to unravel after his unhinged tweet that President Obama had wiretapped him. As the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the investigation into that claim fell into his jurisdiction. Bharara was also in charge of the probe into allegations of securities violations by Fox News. All of that put Bharara on Trump’s hit list. And it’s more than a little peculiar that a leading candidate to replace Bharara is Marc Mukasey. Mukasey is the personal lawyer of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.

So Trump has fired Yates, Bharara, and now Comey, without any defensible reasons for doing so. The one thing they have in common is that they were all investigating Trump or his associates. It’s indicative of a tyrannical obsession to eliminate one’s perceived enemies. At the very least it’s vindictive. And we know that Trump is often motivated by retribution.

Take for instance his treatment of Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who presided over the Trump University fraud case. Trump repeatedly denigrated the judge and accused him of being unfit to rule in the case. Trump’s reasoning was that the judge is Mexican and “I’m building a wall.” For the record, Curiel was born in Indiana. Trump also went after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Perhaps that had something to do with Schneiderman’s probe into Trump’s business dealings and conflicts of interest. Trump lashed at Schneiderman, calling him a “lightweight” and “the worst attorney general in the US.” He even implied that Schneiderman was a “cokehead.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Of course, Trump’s knee-jerk, juvenile, attacks on anyone who criticizes him is well documented. He blasted an entire court system (the 9th district) when they stayed his Muslim ban. And his political foes all get silly nicknames (Lyin’ Ted, Crooked Hillary, Little Marco, etc.). It’s a psychological symptom of inferiority, narcissism, and paranoia. And it’s playing out daily on a very public stage. The consequences are dire for those who challenge his authority. But they are even worse for the nation – and the world – as Trump’s fear of being held to account drives him deeper into madness.

Ted Cruz Tried to Outsmart Sally Yates at Senate Hearing on Russia – Got Smacked Hard

Monday afternoon the Senate judiciary Committee met for hearings on Donald Trump’s connections to Russia during his campaign and into his presidency. The star attraction was former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, whom Trump fired under suspicious circumstances. Yates had warned him that his then-National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, might have been compromised by Russian operatives. So, of course Trump fired her, but didn’t fire Flynn until three weeks later.

Ted Cruz Sally Yates

The hearing was predictably partisan with Democrats sticking to the subject at hand, while Republicans tried to deflect to everything from alleged leaks, to Hillary Clinton’s email server. However, the most peculiar moments came during questioning by Sen. Ted Cruz (surprise). Although Cruz has long boasted of his debating skills, his exchange with Yates did not go well for him. Here is a condensed transcript of what occurred. [Note: the full video is posted below]

Cruz: Is it correct the the Constitution vests the executive authority in the President?
Yates: Yes.
Cruz: And if an Attorny General disagrees with a policy decision of the President – a policy decision that is lawful – does the Attorney General have the authority to direct the Department of Justice to defy the President’s orders?
Yates: I don’t whether the Attorney General has the authority to do that or not. But I don’t think that would be a good idea. And that’s not what I did in this case.

At that point Cruz asked Yates if she was familiar with a statute that he said was the binding authority for Trump’s executive order. He said that her refusal to comply with it was the reason for her termination. Then he read the statute as if declaring victory over his foe. But Yates responded in a manner that ought to have shut him up:

Cruz: The statute says, quote, ‘Whenever the president finds that the entry of any alien or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem appropriate.’ Would you agree that that is broad statutory authorization?
Yates: I would, and I am familiar with that. And I’m also familiar with an additional provision of the INA that says, ‘No person shall receive preference or be discriminated against in issuance of a visa because of race, nationality, or place of birth.’

Yates went on to point out that the section of law she quoted was promulgated after the statute that Cruz cited. It therefore took precedence. Cruz appeared not to be aware of any of that. So in a desperate effort to divert attention from his humiliation, he sought to baselessly accuse Yates of partisanship:

Cruz: There is no doubt the arguments that you laid out are arguments that we can expect litigants to bring, partisan litigants who disagree with the policy decision of the president.

Of course, Yates’ arguments were neutral statements of fact that Cruz just couldn’t rebut. Shortly thereafter, Cruz tried another tack wherein he met a similarly embarrassing fate:

Cruz: In the over two hundred years of the Department of Justice history, are you aware of any instance in which the Department of Justice has formally approved the legality of a policy and three days later the Attorney General has directed the department to not to follow that policy and to defy that policy?

Yates: I’m not. But I’m also not aware of a situation where the office of legal counsel was advised not to tell the Attorney General about it until after it was over.

Immediately after this exchange Cruz left the hearing room with his tail between his legs. He didn’t bother waiting until the hearing was over or listening to any of the other testimony. Clearly he was ashamed and unable to face his colleagues or the press. So he beat a hasty retreat. He might have been better off had he not shown up. And the same can be said of the rest of the GOP inquisitionists on the panel.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Watch Sally Yates and Ted Cruz spar here:

Will Fox News Fire Bill O’Reilly After Sexual Harassment Reports And Advertiser Exodus?

Fox News has been struggling with some serious blows to its reputation lately. That’s to be expected when its chief mission is running defense for a lying, ignorant, sociopath playacting at being president. But Donald Trump isn’t the only problem facing Fox News. The repercussions of a widespread misogynistic culture are having a profound impact on its business.

Bill O'Reilly Donald Trump

A recent investigation by the New York Times turned up several reports of sexual misconduct by Fox’s star, Bill O’Reilly. The story identified former employees who have received millions of dollars in settlements from O’Reilly or Fox News. Some of these were never previously disclosed. What’s more, the failure to report these payouts has landed Fox in some legal trouble. An investigation by the U.S. Attorney in New York is probing whether that non-disclosure violated securities laws.

Compounding the allegations in the Times is a new lawsuit filed by another alleged victim of the disgraced ex-CEO of Fox, Roger Ailes. Julie Roginsky is asserting that Ailes demanded a sexual relationship in exchange for professional help at the network. Roginsky’s charges echo those of previous victims in the Ailes affair.

All of this is causing a stir in the advertiser community. ThinkProgress is keeping tabs on O’Reilly’s advertisers and has already identified at least 27 companies that have pulled their ads from The O’Reilly Factor. They include some big names like Mercedes-Benz, Allstate, and Coldwell Banker. And it’s only been three days since the Times article was published. This suggests a severe level of anxiety that exists within the ad camp. There is a surprising willingness to flee controversy even with a show as highly rated as the Factor.

It would be naive to expect Fox News to fire or punish a star like O’Reilly just because he’s a wretched louse who preys on vulnerable women. In fact, given the corporate culture at Fox, that would just make him a welcome member of the club. The allegations against Fox extend to others in their ranks. Co-President Bill Shine and PR flack Irina Briganti have been accused of covering up offensive behaviors. And their most prominent club member, Donald Trump, has weighed in as well. He told the New York Times that:

“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person,” Trump said, according to the Times. “I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”

Trump is notorious for opposing legal settlements. This despite his $25 million dollar payoff to settle lawsuits brought against his fraudulent Trump University. More importantly, he’s also notorious for his own resume of sexual harassment and assault. That’s something he shares with his close pal Bill O’Reilly. At least a dozen women have claimed that Trump sexual assaulted them. And during his campaign he promised to sue every one of them. Another broken campaign promise.

Club membership notwithstanding, when ad revenue is threatened the network bosses may think differently. The rapid response to O’Reilly’s reprehensible behavior demonstrates the risk Fox faces. Just ask Glenn Beck. He also had a highly rated program until his racist diatribes drove advertisers away.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Still, Fox News will not cast O’Reilly aside without a considerable push from both advertisers and viewers. And there’s a way for the audience to contribute to O’Reilly’s eventual fate. Sleeping Giants on Twitter recently conducted a successful campaign against Breitbart News resulting in the loss of dozens of advertisers. Now they are taking on O’Reilly. They use social media to pressure advertisers to do the right thing. It’s clearly having an effect. However, whether it will pressure Fox News to do the right thing and fire O’Reilly is still an open question.

It’s STILL Russia! But Fox News and Trump Are Trying to Deflect to Phony ‘Unmasking’ BS

New revelations tying Donald Trump to Russia continue to appear every day. Simultaneously, Trump’s defenders launch new efforts to divert attention to media decoys. Among the latest are allegations that President Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, improperly “unmasked” Americans recorded in conversations with possible foreign agents. Never mind that she never leaked anything or that her actions were all legal and proper. The story was a convenient distraction for the Trump administration as it’s mired in ever-growing scandal.

Trump Putin

Joining the spin party, Fox News featured a story about a former Obama defense official that they tried to malign. Evelyn Farkas left her job at the Pentagon in 2015. But more recently she sought warn her former colleagues about the risks of the incoming administration of Donald Trump. Fox News tried to spin Farkas’ public comments as something nefarious with the headline “OBAMA CHEERLEAKER? Ex-WH official’s call for Trump dirt part of pattern.”

“Cheerleaker?” Aint that cute. Of course it has no meaning or honest depiction of reality. It’s a purposefully negative rhetorical invention meant to smear Farkas. Which is pretty much what the rest of the story does as well. Fox’s story began by saying that:

“[F]ormer defense official Evelyn Farkas had undertaken a media campaign to pressure her old colleagues in the Obama administration — even Barack Obama himself — to disclose what they knew.”

Hot button terms like “pressure” deliberately misrepresent what actually happened. Farkas merely sought to offer her opinion on a matter of some importance. And her advice was entirely reasonable and warranted. That didn’t stop Fox News from putting it into the most negative light. However the quotes in Fox’s own story portray Farkas as a patriot coming forward on behalf of her country. For instance:

“I was urging my former colleagues, and frankly speaking, the people on the Hill … ‘get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can before President Obama leaves the administration,’ because I had a fear that, somehow, that information would disappear with the senior people who left,” she said. “That’s why you have the leaking, because people were worried,” she added.

“The information needs to be made public,” she wrote. “If the answers yield further evidence that the president-elect is indebted to the Russian government or individuals with Kremlin ties, the intelligence community and policy officials should also begin disclosing what they know about whether Trump’s associates have been in contact with Russian officials, and what they’ve been discussing.”

“We need President Obama to share with the public the information the FBI has to date on this issue, and we need President-elect Trump to explain the full extent of his ties with the Kremlin and influential Russians,” she wrote.

These are the comments that Fox News and the right-wing echo chamber are getting all hot and bothered about. But any sane observer would recognize them as calls for transparency and respecting American citizens enough to keep them informed. Why on Earth wouldn’t you want to protect potentially incriminating information from being destroyed? And why wouldn’t you want to know about any President’s connections to operatives of a hostile foreign country?

The only reason anyone would be worried about what Farkas said is if they were trying to hide wrongdoing. Fox News and Donald Trump have vested interests in shielding themselves from unsavory or unlawful activity. And they must be deeply concerned about what would come out if intelligence officials followed Farkas’ advice. Otherwise, they would welcome any disclosures as opportunities to clear their names.

Consequently, the word has gone out to the conservative media to hype stories like Farkas’ and Rice’s. And to do so deceptively in order to poison the public’s understanding and foment confusion. Then, while responsible journalists struggle to restore some sense of sanity, the Russian atrocities get swept aside. It’s tactic that we’ve seen used for months by the Trump camp.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Hopefully the press will stop being unwitting partners in this obfuscation and keep their eyes on the prize. There is nothing more important in American politics today than determining whether or not our president is a puppet of Vladimir Putin. Stay vigilant America, and don’t succumb to the practitioners of misdirection.

Former FBI Agent On Trump’s Loyalties: It’s Trump 1st, Russia 2nd and the Rest of America 3rd

Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. The former FBI agent was called to give testimony about the unfolding allegations of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump. His testimony addressed many of the most troubling aspects of Trump’s unsavory connections to Russia during the 2016 election.

Trump/Putin

After his testimony, Watts was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN. He affirmed much of what he told the committee and described the objectives of the Russian operatives. Watts was straight forward with this assessment of the situation:

Blitzer: What was Putin’s objective in all of this?

Watts: The ultimate objective is to destroy democracies from the inside out. What he wants to do is erode trust and sow divisions in the U.S. electorate.

Watts went on to say that intelligence operatives saw hacks and leaks that were “synchronized” with the Trump campaign. “That tends to lead to the belief that there was coordination,” he said. He also spoke about the “trail of dead Russians” that could lead to the confirmation of allegations raised by the infamous Trump dossier.”

This is about as close as any witness has come to asserting a direct relationship between Trump’s campaign and the Russians. The CIA has already confirmed that Russian operatives were working to help Trump get elected and to hurt Hillary Clinton. The risks facing Watts for his testimony were on his mind during the Senate hearings. He told Blitzer that:

“If I speak today, my bank account could be compromised, I could be discredited through compromising materials, some true some false, but I think the biggest concern is I’m not confident right now that the U.S. government would actually come to bat for me. I’ve seen President Trump call for Russia to leak emails against a political opponent, I’ve seen him discredit the U.S. intelligence community to cite conspiracies that he’s seen on his Twitter feed.

“So, if I say things that the Trump administration doesn’t like or that is counter to Putin, I’m not sure it’s not Trump first, Russia second and the rest of America third.”

That description of Trump’s loyalties should send chills down the spine of every American. Watts’ career has put him in dangerous positions around the world. He is no shrinking violet. But his doubts amount to an indictment of Trump’s patriotism. Watts added that the Trump White House could not be relied on for anything but its own self-interests. “They will push falsehoods to achieve political objectives,” he said, “before they will push the truth for the American people.”

That has been borne out many times as Trump and his spokespersons disseminate “alternative facts” and cast false accusations at critics and the press. It is part of a grand strategy to discredit anyone who dares to find fault with the President. But as the Russian scandals compound, Trump is finding it increasingly more difficult to defend himself and his cohorts.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Desperate Trump Tweets Threat To Investigate Debunked Clinton/Russia Uranium Deal

The walls are losing in around Donald Trump. Allegations concerning his unsavory connections to Vladimir Putin and Russia continue to accumulate. His closest associates are being investigated by the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. The 2016 election was tainted by revelations of meetings between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. And the Justice Department has already certified that Russia interfered with the election in an effort to harm Hillary Clinton and Boost Trump. The FBI is currently investigating the Trump campaign’s complicity.

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

In the heat of all that, Congress is under fire for failing to hold independent hearings on the mounting scandals involving Trump and Russia. GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has himself been implicated in shady behavior. He reportedly met with a secret “source” at the White House prior to holding a press conference last week. At the presser Nunes released information intended to help the President evade further scrutiny. Then Nunes returned to the White House to brief Trump without ever sharing his information with the committee.

In the midst of this, Trump has now engaged in a pitifully obvious attempt at diversion. He posted the following tweets Monday evening:

Under the circumstances, asking the Intelligence Committee to investigate the Clinton’s is a transparent act of desperation. Especially since the Committee under Nunes’ control has zero credibility. In addition, the matters Trump cited have all been investigated by numerous legal and congressional entities. There was no wrongdoing found by the Clinton’s or President Obama. PolitiFact summed up the findings in a comprehensive analysis last year after a prior accusation by Trump. They rated Trump’s accusations “Mostly False” and said in part:

Russia’s nuclear energy agency, which also builds nuclear weapons, bought a controlling stake in Uranium One. The company has mines, mills and tracts of land in Wyoming, Utah and other U.S. states equal to about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity.

So, to be clear, the 20 percent is capacity, not uranium that has been produced.

Given that Russia doesn’t have the licenses to export uranium outside the United States, it was likely more interested in Uranium One’s assets in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer, our colleagues said. […]

The State Department did approve the Uranium One deal, but it didn’t act unilaterally. It was one of nine U.S. government agencies, plus independent federal and state nuclear regulators, that had to sign off on the deal.

And as FactCheck.org noted in a related fact check, while any of the nine agencies could have objected to the deal, only President Barack Obama had the power to veto it.

So there was nothing untoward about the deal in the first place, and Clinton didn’t have the power to approve or reject it anyway. Consequently, Trump’s only motivation could be to divert attention away from his potentially treasonous activities. It’s a pathetic scheme that is so clumsy it can’t possibly work. And that is the most damning proof of his desperation and fear. Stunts like this are only likely to exacerbate his situation.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

So keep tweeting, Mr. President. Your outbursts merely serve to dig you in deeper. They certainly won’t have any effect on the law enforcement professionals examining your activities during and following the campaign. And as the evidence continues to expose your malfeasance you will lose even more support from your fellow Republicans in Congress. You know, the ones you just insulted because they didn’t buy into your phony healthcare scam.

Fox News ‘Security Moms’ Don’t Care About Russia And Trump; Fox News Poll Disagrees

On Monday the House Intelligence Committee held a hearing to investigate Donald Trump’s campaign and its connections to Russia. Witnesses included FBI Director James Comey and Adm. Mike Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency. The testimony was conclusive with regard to Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. And their motives were plainly to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Furthermore, Comey confirmed that he knew of no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump’s phones. On that matter he was speaking for the Department of Justice as well. So Trump’s reckless tweets asserting that President Obama was guilty of that felony were exposed as lies.

Fox News

Many of the details of Russia’s election tampering were not provided due to the sensitive nature of the information. Comey had to be careful not to reveal classified data or compromise the conduct of an ongoing investigation. But there was no question that Trump’s campaign is the subject of an investigation and the consequences remain dire.

In light of that, Fox News sprung to action in order to protect Trump from any negative public relations fallout. His pals at Fox and Friends assembled a panel of what they called “Security Moms” (video below). In fact it was a group of pre-selected pro-Trump mouthpieces who would defend their hero under any circumstances. Co-host Ainsley Earhardt opened the segment saying:

“Even the mainstream media is admitting that there is probably no Russian connection to the Trump White House. So why can’t they stop talking about it? Is this really what American families want to know? Who better to ask than our panel of moms?”

First of all, Earhardt’s assertion that there is “no Russian connection to the Trump White House” was pulled straight out her assumptions file. There are numerous connections, as is documented by the research of Rep. Eric Salwell. His charts reveal a disturbing web of Trump/Russian connectivity. And secondly, Earhardt’s objection to the media’s focus on this issue belies her determination to squelch it.

Earhardt’s first question was a not so fair and balanced “Why is the mainstream media harping on this?” The answers from her panel of Trump Moms were typical rationalizations of his erratic behavior. They ran the gamut of wingnut allegations from “fake news” to delegitimizing the President. Earhardt also asked if any of the panel was concerned that Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. They all immediately said “No.” By the end of the segment Earhardt and her support group all agreed that we should “move on” from the Russia story.

Clearly this was a deliberately biased group of women assembled to shield the President from criticism. It’s something Fox does on a regular basis. How else could they all be unconcerned about an American president colluding with a hostile foreign country? They expressed an interest in diverting to other issues such as immigration. But even in those comments they parroted the Trump agenda fomenting fear of “illegals” and terrorists.

Fox News displayed a graphic during the segment that read “NEWS YOU CAN’T USE. Do U.S. Families Want To Hear Russia Reports?” The conclusion expressed by the Trump Moms was a unanimous “No.” These Foxies must not be paying very close attention to Fox News. The network recently released a poll that specifically addressed these issues. The poll asked:

    Do you think there should be a Congressional investigation into:

  • Reported Russian hacking and attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election: YES 66% (including 41% of Republicans), NO 30%
  • Alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government: YES 63% (including 32% of Republicans), NO 33%

So about two-thirds of voters think there should be investigations into Russia’s election tampering and Trump’s potential complicity in it. That’s according to Fox’s own poll. Yet Fox and Friends puts four women on the air who all take the completely opposite view. If that isn’t an attempt at manipulation and propaganda, then nothing is. It’s just further proof that Fox serves as the PR division of the Trump administration.

Finally, we know that Trump pays attention to Fox’s polls because this same Monday morning he tweeted:

Actually, the poll he was referencing was not from CNN, it was from Gallup. It shows him near the lowest point in his already record-breaking low presidency with only 39 percent approval. Also, CNN’s election polls were pretty close to the final result. They had Clinton leading Trump by about five points. She finished three points ahead. Trump’s observation that Fox’s poll was more favorable is true. However, it also had him in a decidedly negative position with 43 percent approving and 51 percent disapproving. Apparently in Trump’s world that’s good news. At least Fox got a new slogan that actually makes sense: News You Can’t Use.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

YOU’RE FIRED: Trump Sacks U.S. Attorney Probing Fox News For Hiding Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

On Friday the White House announced that it was asking forty-six U.S. Attorneys to submit their resignations. They were further instructed to clear out their desks by the end of the day. Replacing staff at the Department of Justice is a routine part of most administration transitions. However, it is rarely done so ham-handedly without prior notice or opportunity to orient the replacements.

Preet Bharara Donald Trump

By acting so impetuously, Donald Trump is leaving numerous in-progress investigations without leadership or direction. They include cases involving terrorism, drug trafficking, civil rights abuses, and more. There is no reason to rush these lawyers out the door. Most are career attorneys who have served during both Democratic and Republican administrations.

One possible explanation for Trump’s hastiness could be something he saw the night before on Fox News. Sean Hannity demanded that anyone affiliated with the Obama administration be summarily dismissed ASAP. What he was advocating was nothing short of the purges conducted by old-school tyrannical regimes. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that Trump carried out the ideological cleansing the next day. But there is abundant evidence that Trump responds obediently to things he sees on Fox News.

Which makes the case of fired attorney Preet Bharara especially troubling. Bharara is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In that jurisdiction he has had responsibility for high profile prosecutions of organized crime, Wall Street corruption, and political malfeasance. He has a reputation for being thorough and non-partisan. He was even personally asked to remain by President-Elect Trump last November, which he agree to do.

What makes Bharara’s dismissal so controversial is that one of the cases he is currently investigating involves Fox News. Last month the New York Daily News reported that:

“The feds are conducting an ‘ongoing criminal investigation’ of Fox News Channel and whether Rupert Murdoch’s company hid from investors the payments it made to employees who alleged they were sexually harassed, an attorney alleged in court Wednesday.” […]

[Attorney Judd Burstein, representing former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros] “said Fox News’ payouts to female employees claiming sexual harassment are not disclosed in Fox’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings, which could be a violation of federal securities law.”

The ever-increasing number of former female Fox News staffers alleging sexual harassment is not just a moral atrocity. It also threatens to cost the network millions of dollars and loss of prestige. The current rash of scandals began with Gretchen Carlson and quickly spread to others including Andrea Tantaros, Juliet Huddy, and even Megyn Kelly. As such it’s pertinent to any analysis of the company’s fiscal health and they have a responsibility to inform investors. Fox News already lost its founder and CEO. Roger Ailes, as a result of the scandal.

To say the least, it is unseemly for Trump to shove Bharara out the door while he is working on such a sensitive case. Fox News is Trump’s most devoted media cheerleader, thus Trump has an incentive to shield them from legal jeopardy. And for this act of presidential protection to take place immediately after a plea from Hannity – Fox’s most adoring Trump fluffer – just compounds the inappropriateness.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Bharara, as a matter of principle, refused to cooperate with the Trump purge. CNN reported that he would not comply with the request for a resignation. In effect, he dared Trump to fire him. And given Trump’s penchant for petty vengeance, that is exactly what Trump did. This opens the door for a replacement who Trump is already considering. Marc Mukasey is a lawyer who counts among his clients Fox’s ex-CEO Roger Ailes. Were he to assume the position, it is unlikely that the case against Fox News would proceed. This is how Trump drains the swamp.