How Desperate is Donald Trump Right Now? He’s Turning to ‘God’ for Help

This week has served up some of the most damning evidence of presidential malfeasance since Donald Trump was elected. He just returned from a catastrophically embarrassing European junket where he was politically and personally isolated. Then his ethically-challenged son confessed to various election-related crimes, including collusion with Russia. Reports from inside the White House paint a picture of panic and bitter internal acrimony.

Donald Trump

How bad is it? On Monday Trump summoned a passel of Christian pastors to the Oval Office to engage in an emergency exorcism. Or maybe it was just a prayer session. Who can tell them apart? As CNN reported it:

“President Donald Trump, who has remained out of public view since returning from Europe late Saturday, welcomed evangelical leaders into the Oval Office on Monday for a prayer session. Photos posted by some of the invitees show the group surrounding Trump and laying their hands on his shoulders as his head is bent in prayer.”

CNN quoted Liberty University’s Pastor Johnnie Moore saying “We similarly prayed for President Obama but it’s different with President Trump.” Presumably the distinction is that they were praying for the welfare of Trump, but for the condemnation of Obama. In fact, in 2010 Moore was part of a radical Christianist plot to remove Obama from office.

In addition to this ritual invocation, right-wing Christo-pundit Pat Robertson just announced a big media get. He interviewed Trump today at the White House for the 700 Club on his Christian Broadcasting Network. It’s one of the only interviews Trump has given in months that wasn’t on Fox News. The interview will air on Thursday, but the tone was already set in the announcement posting:

“President Trump differentiated his administration from Putin’s, saying he’s working for America’s best interests while Putin is fighting for Russia. And Trump thinks Putin would probably have been happier with Hillary Clinton in the White House because he’s building the U.S. military and working to export U.S. energy, which Russia opposes.”

Robertson didn’t mention anything about the recent confession that Don Trump, Jr. had a secret meeting with Russian operatives. Consequently, he didn’t address the admission that Russia was seeking to help Trump by delivering dirt on Clinton. That directly contradicts Trump’s baseless assertion that Vladimir Putin preferred Clinton.

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It’s not especially surprising that this overtly religious grandstanding is occurring at the most precarious position for Trump to date. And no one should be foolish enough to think it’s because of Trump’s devout faith in God to deliver him from evil. This is a desperate and transparent outreach to the segment of the electorate that is most devoted to him. He is shoring up his cult-like base in advance of tribulations to come. But he’s making a big mistake if he thinks that God, or his self-appointed Earthly shills, can deliver him the salvation he seeks. His sins are against the laws of Man/Woman and the Constitution, not God. And his judges will be his fellow citizens.

Christian Broadcasting Network v. News Corpse

The Christian Broadcasting Network, home of The 700 Club, has notified News Corpse of a defamatory posting on this web site. I received an email from their legal team that included an attached letter (pdf) from Louis Isakoff, Vice President and General Counsel of Pat Robertson’s Regent University. Isakoff is representing Pat Robertson’s son (and CBN’s CEO), Gordon. The letter said in part:

“It has recently been brought to our attention that your internet site, newscorpse.com, has posted comments from Cheryl Spencer which are false, misleading, and defamatory. A copy of that post is included with this letter. The posting accused Mr. Robertson of adultery. Obviously this accusation is inaccurate.”

The letter goes on to demand that I “remove the posting immediately” to “avoid legal action” against me. The posting in question is over two years old and it did not address Robertson in any way. It was about the hiring of the late Tony Snow, former Fox News host and Bush press secretary, by CNN. The offending material was contained in a comment made by a reader. Cheryl Spencer, whom I do not know, made a comment, that I did not endorse, concerning Robertson’s marital fidelity. News Corpse, as an advocate for higher standards in the media, respects free speech and provides an open forum for opinion from all ideological perspectives.

CBN and Robertson are demonstrating a rare measure of sensitivity by bringing down the hammer on a small Internet publisher of opinion over an old article that didn’t even mention their client. Isakoff may be a Yale lawyer and the head of the legal division of a big university and media enterprise, but he is woefully uninformed on matters of new media publishing and free expression. Had he taken the time to research the matter, he would have quickly discovered that US Code Title 47, Chapter 5, Sub-Chapter II, Part I, ยง 230(c) provides immunity from any cause of action related to comments posted on blogs:

(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

There is an abundance of case law affirming the protection for bloggers from lawsuits stemming from comments made by readers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Citizen Media Law Project have extensive documentation of this. And that protection even applies when a blogger is notified of an allegedly defamatory comment and declines to remove it.

I can’t say whether this misunderstanding of the law is typical of Regent University lawyers, but there are certainly curious circumstances associated with that crowd. The Bush administration hired some 150 of them, including White House counsel Monica Goodling, who took the fifth before a congressional committee investigating the potentially illegal firing of U.S. Attorneys by the Bushies for partisan political reasons. And the presence of 150 lawyers in the Bush Department of Justice from a single Christian law school that was less than thirty years old is startling and unprecedented.

I have no intention of removing the comment posted on my site. I believe that the demand by CBN is without merit and is deliberately intended to harass me and to stifle free expression. This sort of bullying tactic has a chilling effect on individuals and organizations who seek only to exercise their Constitutional rights and provide forums for others to do so as well. It’s disappointing to see a religious institution, who’s rights are protected by the very same Constitutional amendment, exploit their power by threatening innocent authors and publishers.