Fox News Defends Trump’s State-Sponsored Political Extortion as Just ‘The Art of the Deal’

The news that Donald Trump may have promised the president of Ukraine hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid if he would open a bogus investigation into Joe Biden has captured the attention of the press. And rightfully so. This would amount to state-sponsored extortion by Trump in order to smear a political opponent. And it wouldn’t even be the first time that Trump has conspired with a foreign country to steal an election (see: Russia, 2016).

Donald Trump, Fox News, White House

As this scandal continues to build steam, Trump is managing to get himself into even more hot water. In a press avail with the Prime Minister of Australia, Trump gave contradictory answers about what he knew about the affair. In fact, when asked if he read the report he contradicted himself in the space of a single sentence saying, “No I haven’t. I just – I tell you, everybody’s read it. They laugh at it.” He went on to attack the press, as usual, saying that “Our media has become the laughingstock of the world […] You’re a joke.” Which only proves that he is pitifully incapable of recognizing who the world is actually laughing at.

In the midst of this unfolding melodrama, Fox News is adopting their routine position as Trump-fluffing propaganda disseminators. And taking the lead is Trump’s favorite morning show, Fox and Friends. Their defense of Trump is a bizarre spectacle of ludicrous justifications for Trump’s potentially treasonous behavior (video below). Co-host Steve Doocy began by telling his dimwitted viewers to…

“Keep in mind this whistleblower filed this report with the inspector general of the Intel community on August the 12th. That was over a month ago. Then they kicked it around, sent it to the Department of Justice, and said ‘We do not have to hand it over to Congress.'”

First of all, it is entirely improper for the Justice Department to interfere in this process in any way. It negates the whole purpose of the Whistleblower Protection Act if the President’s henchmen (Attorney General William Barr, et al) can suppress information provided in good faith by insiders concerned about national security. And it endangers the welfare of the whistleblower whose identity is disclosed to people who have motive to retaliate.

That said, after having improperly interfered, the Justice Department has no authority to rule that the complaint can’t be turned over to Congress. The law says unambiguously that it “shall” be turned over. So the Justice Department is wrong, and Fox News is wrong to excuse this breach of the law. But Doocy wasn’t finished. He continued…

“The reason the whistleblower apparently said that it was ‘serious’ and ‘urgent’ is because that designation usually automatically triggers it getting to Congress. The Department of Justice says that that is not appropriate, so we don’t have to give it to the Committee. Well, somebody with knowledge of this person’s story didn’t like the fact that Congress wasn’t gonna get it and it wasn’t gonna become public. So they leaked the story to the Washington Post.”

Again, none of this is the Justice Department’s call. But Doocy is also introducing something that was never a part of this. He implies that somebody wanted this to become public. But had the complaint been turned over to Congress, they would have reviewed it privately. The only reason any of this is becoming public is because the process was breached by the administration.

It’s ironic that Fox News is more worried about this complaint leaking than the substance of the complaint which is Trump’s attempts to extort and/or bribe a foreign country and to pressure them into aiding his election fraud. But if you thought that Fox was bothered by any of that, here’s what Doocy’s co-host Ainsley Earhardt had to say about it:

“They say the President was making promises, leaking delicate information to another heads of state. But this is what they do. They talk. They negotiate. And the President’s known for that. The art of the deal. Who’s leaking this? Is it someone that works at the White House?”

So to Fox News this is standard operating procedure in negotiations. They consider it acceptable for Trump to bully foreign leaders into manufacturing political dirt on his opponents. They regard it as simple dealmaking, despite the fact that there are no components of this deal that are in the interests of the United States. It is a purely hostile swipe at Biden, who Trump expects to run against next year. So Earhardt is defending dealmaking that is only intended to disrupt an election. But then again, that’s what Fox News does every day. Disrupting elections by airing distortions and lies is the whole reason Fox News exists.

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

Big Baby Trump Threatens to Sue MSNBC, O’Donnell Over Report that Russians Co-Signed Loans

Poor Donald Trump. He thought that all of his misdeeds and corruption would remain secret in perpetuity. Unfortunately for him, his methods of deception have been just as incompetent and ineffective as everything else he does. Consequently, each new day brings another revelation of some legal or ethical breach that he hoped would stay buried.

Donald Trump

The latest bit of bad news for Trump comes in the form of a speculative report that aired on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. On Tuesday night the program revealed allegations from a confidential source who said that some of Trump’s loans from the shady Deutsche Bank were co-signed by Russian oligarchs connected to Vladimir Putin. This could be a bombshell story that would explain much of Trump’s affinity for – and coddling of – Russia generally, and Putin in particular.

The public disclosure of this sort of financial arrangement would be devastating for Trump. Consequently, he is punching back with all his impotent might. Trump had his personal attorney, Charles Harder, dash off a letter with a stern warning to O’Donnell and the network that should make them think twice:

“We write concerning the false and defamatory statements published by Lawrence O’Donnell and NBC Universal […] The Program and Tweet make the false and defamatory statements that ‘Russian oligarchs’ cosigned loans provided to Mr. Trump by Deutsche Bank, and described these ‘co-signers’ as ‘Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin.'” These statements are false and defamatory, and extremely damaging.”

Demand is hereby made that Mr. O’Donnell and NBCU immediately and prominently retract, correct and apologize for the aforementioned false and defamatory statements. [and that] Failure to do so will leave my clients with no alternative but to consider their legal options which could include immediate legal proceedings against Mr. O’Donnell and NBCU.”

This is an entirely bogus threat that is highly unlikely to ever be carried out. The allegations that O’Donnell reported were presented as speculative from the outset. He presented it that way in a teaser at the beginning of the show where he said that “I want to stress that it is a single source that has not been confirmed by NBC News [and that] it’s going to require a lot more verification before that can be a confirmable fact.” He repeated these disclaimers in the segment that aired later. He could not have been more clear, repeatedly prefacing his remarks by saying “If true…” Therefore, he never presented it as fact, only the assertions of his source, as is evident in the video of the segment:

Trump is well known to engage in legal bullying, wherein he threatens people with lawsuits, but usually chickens out before filing any. In fact, he’s done that before with O’Donnell. In 2011 he threatened to sue O’Donnell for saying that Trump was not really a billionaire. That lawsuit never materialized. And neither will this one. O’Donnell has already taken the high road by tweeting that he “made an error in judgment” by reporting the unconfirmed story.

It’s hard to know if his walking this back was due to his own journalistic standards or pressure from the network which might have been spooked by the threat of litigation. But there are good reasons why they need not worry. This lawsuit, if pursued, could have some unintended consequences for Trump and company. First, it would disseminate to a much larger audience the allegation that he needed Russian oligarchs to co-sign his loans. That would confirm already known facts regarding Trump’s dire financial status and inability to secure loans on his own from reputable institutions. The lawsuit would also result in a discovery process which would require Trump to provide otherwise confidential documents to the legal representatives of O’Donnell and MSNBC. That requirement by itself will likely scare Trump out of ever actually filing any lawsuit.

So no one should be getting out the popcorn to watch this goofy episode of Trump’s reality show. It is almost certainly going to be preempted by some other Trump nonsense like buying Greenland or nuking hurricanes. This will just end up being another infantile tantrum thrown by our Crybaby-in-Chief that will amount to nothing but blather and the pathetic hissing of a wounded weasel.

UPDATE: True to his word, O’Donnell opened his program Wednesday night with a statement about the Deutsche Bank story. He reiterated the story had not gone through “the rigorous verification process” at MSNBC. Along with the retraction, he also pointedly noted that “We don’t know whether the information is inaccurate. But the fact is we do know that it wasn’t ready for broadcast. And for that I apologize.”

Interestingly, although O’Donnell provided everything Trump’s lawyer’s asked for (a retraction and an apology), Eric Trump demonstrated why the Trump word is worthless. He tweeted that “Apologies are not enough,” and that “we will be taking legal action.” So there’s still hope that a lawsuit will proceed and the discovery process will force Trump to hand over documents they would otherwise keep secret. It’s still more likely that Trump will chicken out, but given his profound stupidity, he might just be dumb enough to go through with it.

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

HOLY CRAPOLY: Trump Retweets Deranged ClintonBodyCount Epstein Murder Conspiracy BS

Just when you think that it couldn’t get any worse, Donald Trump proves that there is no bottom to the abyss of his loathsome cretinism. On a day that has been consumed by reports of the “suicide” of Trump’s long-time pal and pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein, the president sinks lower than even his staunchest critics might have imaged.

Donald Trump

The Twitter feed of the President of the United States of America currently features a posting that promotes a disgusting conspiracy theory about Bill and Hillary Clinton that accuses them – without any evidence – of multiple murders. The post goes on to baselessly suggest that the Clintons are also responsible for the alleged suicide of Trump’s wingman, Epstein. The tweet that Trump has blasted out to his 62 million glassy-eyed followers was composed an alleged “comedian” named Terrence K. Williams, and asserts that “#JefferyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead. I see #TrumpBodyCount trending but we know who did this!” It also features the hashtags “#ClintonBodyCount” and “#ClintonCrimeFamily.”

This would be horrendous if it were a posting on the account of Alex Jones’ Infowars (which has been banned from Twitter for advocating violence and other violations of the site’s terms and conditions), or some other crackpot who regularly spews ludicrous and imaginary bullshit. But it’s unbelievably nauseating that the President is so lacking in integrity, decorum, and decency. It’s further evidence (as if any more were needed) that Trump is unfit to serve in this office, or to even clean its toilets.

It’s also notable that Trump is not the only person to sink to these noxious depths in his administration. Lynne Patton is a regional administrator at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (and former wedding planner for Melania). She posted on Instagram that Epstein had been “Hillary’d,” with a hashtag that read “#VinceFosterPartTwo.” So apparently this is a coordinated effort on Trump’s part.

For the record, Epstein has had relationships with numerous prominent people, including politicians and business moguls. But the nutcases who are trying to smear the Clintons and others on the Democratic side are having to reach back decades for those angles. Yet they ignore that the person who is currently occupying the White House was close to Epstein for years and partied with him frequently. So while there is plenty of slime to spread around, only Trump is currently in a position of power that could have had both motive and opportunity to commit some foul deed.

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

Nevertheless, I’m not accusing him of anything other than being a slime bucket who gives credence to the nastiest unproven allegations. And as president he is not only demonstrating his own repulsive character (or lack thereof), he is staining the office that he was never fit to hold. There simply aren’t words strong enough to convey what an odious waste of flesh he is and how urgent it is that he be removed from office and sent to prison. And fortunately, there is a cell that just became available.

The Fake Fox News Story About Seth Rich Was Planted By Russia and Promoted By Hannity

Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News has just published an extensive investigative report revealing that the bogus story about the murder of the Democratic National Committee staffer, Seth Rich, was originally planted by Russian intelligence. (Insert SHOCKED! face here). This was a completely fabricated piece of actual fake news that was prominently pushed by Fox News, and particularly Sean Hannity.

Fox News, Sean Hannity, Vladimir Putin

The article by Isikoff went into stark detail about the origins of the callous claims that Rich was actually the source of hacked emails the were published by Wikileaks. Those who told and spread these lies had no compassion whatsoever for the family that was grieving the loss of a loved one. Likewise, they didn’t care that they were disseminating falsehoods created by Russian spies intended to disrupt an American presidential election. Isikoff reported that

“The conspiracy claims reached their zenith in May 2017 — the same week as Mueller’s appointment as special counsel in the Russia probe — when Fox News’ website posted a sensational story claiming that an FBI forensic report had discovered evidence on Rich’s laptop that he had been in communication with WikiLeaks prior to his death. Sean Hannity, the network’s primetime star, treated the account as major news on his nightly broadcast, calling it ‘explosive’ and proclaiming it ‘might expose the single biggest fraud, lies, perpetrated on the American people by the media and the Democrats in our history.'”

“In fact, the Fox story was a ‘complete fabrication,’ said [U.S. attorney Deborah] Sines, who consulted with the FBI about the Fox News claims. There was ‘no connection between Seth and WikiLeaks. And there was no evidence on his work computer of him downloading and disseminating things from the DNC.'”

In an interview on MSNBC, Isikoff elaborated on what his investigation uncovered (video below):

“The timing is so interesting here. The week that this breaks on Fox News, in the story they later had to retract and acknowledged didn’t ‘meet their editorial standards,’ Sean Hannity is shouting it from the rooftops. What’s going on that week? It’s the week that [special counsel Robert] Mueller was appointed. It’s the week [FBI Director James] Comey was fired. It’s when the Russia story was blowing up.”

Isikoff noted that Hannity’s guest was Trump’s attorney for the Russia affair, Jay Sekulow. He had just been hired by Trump, but Hannity left that fact out of the segment. Together they were pushing the phony Rich story as a means to undercut the Russia narrative.

Fox News later issued a mushy retraction that admitted no fault. They said they would conduct an internal investigation to ascertain where they went wrong, but any findings from the alleged investigation remain undisclosed. However, Hannity never conceded any wrongdoing at all. To the contrary, he insisted that his “reporting” was accurate and would continue:

“I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com, I retracted nothing. For those accusing me of pushing a conspiracy theory, you are the biggest phony hypocrites in the entire world. This issue, it’s so big now that the entire Russia collusion narrative is hanging by a thread. […] These are questions that I have a moral obligation to ask, and I will do the mainstream media’s job like I have most of my career.”

True to form, Hannity never did retract his lies about Rich. But he did delete all of his tweets about Rich (you can still see them here). He is exhibiting the same dishonesty, arrogance, and stubbornness as his bestie in the White House, Donald Trump. They both will cling to the most ludicrous assertions, even after they have been proven to be utterly false. The truth plays no part in their determined propaganda crusades. And neither does patriotism, as both Hannity and Trump have now been been shown to be willing confederates (aka “useful idiots”) of covert Russian operations.

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

Hmm: Trump is Tweeting Way Less Since His Pal Jeffrey Epstein’s Arrest for Sex Trafficking

From the start of his presidency, Donald Trump has made Twitter his preferred platform for communicating with the American people. He has often unleashed rabid tweetstorms that exceeded forty posts in a single day. The vast majority of these posts are shamelessly self-serving tributes to himself – by himself – along with messages by his devoted sycophants in Congress and on Fox News who offer unquestioning praise for Trump and vicious assaults on his critics.

Donald Trump

Trump regards Twitter as his only means of speaking directly to his Deplorable followers since the media is, in his warped mind, “the enemy of the people.” It’s a position that he frequently brings up when questioned about his oppressive Twaddiction. He even believes that criticisms of his Twitter habit are plots to silence him:

So it’s rather peculiar that Trump has been muzzling himself on Twitter lately. The frequency of his posts has significantly declined in the past few days. Here is an accounting of Trump’s Twitter feed since the beginning of July (Only posts by Trump, no retweets):

  • July 1: 14 tweets.
  • July 2: 19 tweets.
  • July 3: 14 tweets.
  • July 4: 14 tweets.
  • July 5: 6 tweets.
  • July 6: 5 tweets.
  • July 7: 6 tweets

[UPDATE: Trump posted five more times on the night of July 7. They are all curiously attacking the weekend programs on Fox News. Something is clearly rattling him. His ordinary psychoses are flashing neon red. Trump is not comfortable with anyone on Fox who isn’t a Trump-fluffing toady, and Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, and the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends are all off until Monday]

Trump’s conspicuous decline from his favorite social media raises some awkward questions. What could possibly drive him away from a medium that he has been so attached to as a critical component of his propaganda machine? Ordinarily, even bad news would result in an increase in his tweet activity as he defends himself.

Well, there was some disturbing news this weekend that might have the scrubbing power to shut him up. It concerns a longtime friend of Trump’s who has been embroiled in a stomach-turning scandal involving the sexual exploitation and assault of underage girls:

“Billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was arrested for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minors in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005, and will appear in court in New York on Monday, according to three law enforcement sources. Saturday’s arrest by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force comes about 12 years after the 66-year-old financier essentially got a slap on the wrist for allegedly molesting dozens of underage girls in Florida.”

Epstein’s arrest was on July 6. Trump’s Twitter output took a dive on July 5. Assuming Trump got a heads up from either his lackey in the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr, or someone in Epstein’s camp, that would coincide with his reduced Twitter activity. And not because Trump is worried about the fate of his buddy. Trump himself could be implicated in the scandal. After all, his association with Epstein included an appreciation for his perverse sexcapades:

This shouldn’t surprise anyone who has been paying attention to Trump’s enjoyment of his own “social life.” He has had dozens of women come forward with charges of sexual harassment and/or assault. The latest one occurring just two weeks ago. What’s more, Trump has some exposure to Epstein’s previous legal affairs. Alex Acosta is Trump’s Secretary of Labor, a department which, among other things, has jurisdiction over sex trafficking crimes. Acosta’s connection to Epstein is noteworthy:

“Epstein’s bust comes mere months after a federal judge ruled his 2007 non-prosecution agreement (NPA)—secretly inked under former U.S. Attorney and current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta—violated federal law by keeping Epstein’s victims in the dark. Under the sweetheart deal, Epstein dodged federal charges that might have sent him to prison for life.”

So Trump is pals with Epstein, an alleged sex trafficker, and he placed the corrupt U.S. Attorney, who gave Epstein a slap on the wrist, in his cabinet. Could Trump be worried about what might come out revealing his participation in Epstein’s cabal of pedophiles? Granted, this is speculation at this point. But it’s not unreasonable to suspect Trump, a known sexual predator, to be among those who engaged in unlawful activities with an alleged trafficker of underage girls. And that’s just the sort of legal jeopardy that could zip Trump’s relentlessly flapping lips shut.

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

Holy Shih Tzu! Trump Attacks NY Corruption Probe with Bizarre Reference to Sexual Abuse

One might think that if there is a single subject that Donald Trump would be smart enough to stay away from, it would be the subject of sexual harassment and abuse. And one would be utterly wrong. As is often the case, it is impossible to underestimate the audacity and cretinism of Trump. That’s particularly true when he is backed into a corner igniting his feral anger and fear.

Donald Trump

Case in point: On Monday morning Trump unleashed another of his rabid tweetstorms. This one appears to have come out of nowhere, but was likely stirred by something he just saw on Fox News, or perhaps he received a legal summons of some sort. The topic of this outburst centered on the ongoing investigation into his criminal activities by the state of New York. And naturally, he led it off with an impotent countercharge aimed at his perceived persecutors:

Contrary to Trump’s paranoid ranting, the New York Attorney General’s office doesn’t “sue on everything.” However, if they are “in search of a crime” it’s only because that’s their job. Trump is whining about this in the same way that a bank robber would whine about those darn cops always sticking their noses into bank robberies.

So Trump tries to exonerate himself from the documented criminal activity that resulted in his phony foundation being shut down. Former New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood (not Eric Schneiderman), found that the Foundation was a criminal enterprise devoted to enriching himself with other people’s donations (Here’s a quick primer on Trump’s scam foundation). Underwood’s report outlined “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation.” The ruling went on to declare that Trump’s sham included…

“…unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more. This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.”

The current NY AG, Letitia James, tweeted a message to Trump warning that “No one is above the law, not even the President.” What’s more, the lawsuit Trump faces continues to seek millions in restitution and prohibits Trump and his evil spawn from serving on the boards of other New York charities. Imagine that: Trump is barred from running a charitable foundation, but not from serving as president. There’s something horribly wrong with that picture.

As for Trump’s flailing assault on the Bill and Hillary Clinton Foundation, it is wildly off base. There have been investigations into the Clinton Foundation and there was never any hint of wrongdoing. In fact, the major organizations that assess the credibility of charitable groups have given the Clinton Foundation their highest ratings.

What makes this even more dumbfounding is Trump’s vicious sideswipe at the former NY Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman. To be sure, Schneiderman had his problems for which he paid dearly. He voluntarily resigned from office, abandoned an almost guaranteed path to New York’s governorship, and has since receded from public life. And for the record, Schneiderman was never Clinton’s campaign chairman. That was John Podesta, whose emails were hacked by Trump’s Russian pals. Also, it’s ironic that Trump would go after anyone’s campaign chairman while his own, Paul Manafort, is currently sitting in prison for crimes against America.

It’s rather startling that Trump would venture into the area of sex crimes considering his own history of repulsiveness. Trump has been accused of harassing and/or assaulting dozens of women. He even admitted to sexual abuse on the infamous Access Hollywood recording. But he remains in the White House while even more credible accusations are coming out. If Trump wants to make this a contest of who is the most vile abuser of women, he’s a shoo-in for the big trophy. And perhaps it’s that confidence of victory that made him foolishly bring up the subject. After all, we know how much he likes to win.

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

UH-OH! Fox News on Mueller: This Was Not, As Trump Says, ‘No Collusion, No Obstruction’

Special counsel Robert Mueller took the stage on Wednesday to clarify that his investigation was not an exoneration of Donald Trump in any way shape or form. While his remarks did not expand on what he previously wrote in his report, they were a spotlight on the most relevant facts that contradict Attorney General William Barr’s dishonest mangling of the report’s conclusions and Trump’s specious claims of innocence.

Fox News, Robert Mueller

But there is something that is far more devastating for Trump than anything the special counsel said. And that’s the analysis on Fox News after Mueller’s statement. The network immediately turned to their chief political anchor, Bret Baier, for commentary on the unusual and surprising public address by Mueller. Baier wasted no time making the point that Mueller’s remarks would be troublesome for Trump (video below). He said that…

“I was struck by the tone and tenor of those remarks as he laid out his case wrapping up this report. This was not, as the president says time and time again, ‘no collusion, no obstruction.’ It was much more nuanced than that. […] He said specifically that if they had found that the President did not commit a crime on obstruction, they would have said that.”

Baier also blasted Barr’s misrepresentation of the Mueller report saying that it was more nuanced than Barr’s portrayal and “In fact, it was almost exactly the opposite.” That’s the Fox News way of saying that Barr lied through his teeth. But that’s not all. There were other portions of Mueller’s statement that should also worry the White House. Including his explanation for why no criminal charges were brought. Mueller reiterated his opinion that a Department of Justice memo prohibited him from indicting a sitting president. That opinion is rejected by many legal experts and has never been affirmed by any court. But Mueller is a stickler for procedure. Consequently, his decision not to indict doesn’t mean that no crimes occurred, only that he didn’t believe that he had jurisdiction to press charges.

What’s even worse for Trump is that Mueller unambiguously threw the question of criminality squarely into the lap of Congress. He said that…

“Charging the president with a crime was not an option that we could consider” [because] “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”

That’s an explicit reference to the constitutional duties of Congress and its responsibility to initiate impeachment proceedings. Mueller could not be more clear. It emphatically refutes Trump’s tedious and repetitive whining about “witch hunts” and “hoaxes.” But that didn’t stop Trump from issuing the same impotent defense via his campaign that there was “no collusion…no case for obstruction [and that] Trump has been fully and completely exonerated.” Only a confirmed Trump cultist could still believe that.

It’s going to become harder for Trump’s allies and supporters to remain on board this sinking ship. It’s ability to stay afloat has been largely due to the buoyancy of Fox News propaganda. But with analyses like that of Baier – who was joined by Fox’s senior legal analyst Andrew Napolitano, their ultra-conservative contributor Andrew McCarthy, and others – the USS Trump is taking on water at a dangerously high rate. So expect to hear some more frantic gurgling by Trump in the hours and days to come.

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

Wannabe Dictator Trump Thinks He Decides Which Congressional Investigations are ‘Authorized’

Considering Donald Trump’s embarrassing ignorance of the Constitution, it’s not surprising that he is now advancing a position that flagrantly breaches one of the foundational principles in the document. Trump’s White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, sent a letter to Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, that totally obliterates the notion of co-equal branches of government.

Donald Trump Tyrant Dictator

Rep. Nadler had previously sent requests to eighty-one individuals and entities for documents pertaining to his committee’s investigation “into the alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power by President Trump, his associates, and members of his Administration.” These are serious matters that factor into the President’s ability and legitimacy to govern. And they are squarely within the jurisdiction of Congress to investigate. Which makes the response by Cipollone all the more peculiar. He wrote that:

“The White House will not participate in the Committee’s ‘investigation’ that brushes aside the conclusions of the Department of Justice. […] Congressional investigations are intended to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation, not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized ‘do-over’ of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice.”

First of all, the Committee did not “brush aside the conclusions of the Department of Justice.” Rather, it sought to complete a process that had not come to any conclusions. In fact, the report by special counsel Robert Mueller for the Justice Department, explicitly left it up to Congress to pursue any further investigation. And the White House is not empowered to declare that investigations by Congress that they don’t like are “unauthorized.”

But Cipollone went even further than that. In his refusal to cooperate with the Committee, he asserted that:

“…it is not the Committee’s legislative function to conduct a detailed inquiry into a particular event or series of events in order to construct a precise picture of the facts.”

Really? That’s a twisted interpretation of what are permissible congressional investigations. Congress has always had the responsibility of conducting oversight of the executive branch in order to maintain the lawful exercise of governing authority. If Cipollone’s argument were operative there could have been no investigations into Watergate or 9/11. The Republican chaired hearings on Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s emails would have been improper. Even the new hearings called for by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham into the origins of the Trump/Russia probe would be beyond the jurisdiction of Congress.

But what’s really troubling about this is the White House position that they have the power to dictate the authorities of Congress. Trump thinks that he can simply declare that Congress isn’t allowed to investigate him, and then decline to cooperate in the investigation. That’s not how the Constitution defines the roles of these bodies and the separation of powers. But it is how tyrants seek to impose their will in countries that reject freedom and democratic rule of, by, and for the people.

So naturally Trump is trying to assume the mantle of the tyrant and force Congress – and the nation – to submit to his will. Hopefully Congress and the courts will not allow him to get away with subverting American democracy with his aspirations for a monarchal reign of terror.

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

Fox News Shills Parrot Trump’s False and Peculiar ‘Praise’ of a New York Times Campaign ‘Spy’ Story

For most his presidency, Donald Trump has demonstrated a remarkable capacity for failing to understand the simplest matters that unfold in current events. Either that or he is deliberately distorting reality to conform to his preconceived delusions. This is evident in everything from his confused grasp of the economy, to his embarrassing belief that stealth fighters are actually invisible.

Fox News, Spying on Trump

On Friday morning Trump took another step into the cognitive void. He posted a tweet that offered backhanded praise to the New York Times for an article about the FBI’s investigation into his campaign’s contacts with Russia. But his comprehension of the Times article was indicative of a diseased mind:

It was thoughtful of Trump to suggest that the Times should get a Pulitzer Prize. Especially since they already got one this year for “an exhaustive 18-month investigation of President Donald Trump’s finances that debunked his claims of self-made wealth and revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges.” But Trump’s tweet missed the whole point of the story. He also missed the headline, which his tweet falsely quoted as “Details effort to spy on Trump Campaign.” The actual headline was “F.B.I. Sent Investigator Posing as Assistant to Meet With Trump Aide in 2016.”

Notice that what Trump called a “spy,” the Times referred to as an “investigator.” And that’s precisely how Fox News helpfully sought to elaborate on Trump’s glitchy characterization. The “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends did a segment on the story by the Times that led with a gleeful Steve Doocy completely misrepresenting it (video below):

“So it’s a big story in the New York Times. Remember a couple of years ago when Donald Trump said the government was spying on him? Turns out the New York Times, in this morning’s edition, right here on the front, we’re gonna show you the headline, ‘FBI Sent Investigator Posing as Assistant to Meet with Trump Aide in 2016.'”

First of all, can anyone explain why Fox put that MAGA sign in the graphic, other than as a free advertisement? More to the point, Doocy went on to describe the story as involving Trump’s foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos, who the FBI was indeed investigating to ascertain his links to Russia. Doocy even acknowledge that, although he repeated Trump’s rhetoric about spying, which is not what happened. But co-host Brian Kilmeade agreed and then went full conspiracy crackpot by accusing the FBI of “covering their tracks” due some to imaginary exposé that Kilmeade wouldn’t reveal.

In reality, this was part of an investigation that had already begun. It was initiated after an Australian diplomat told the FBI about a meeting he had with Papadopoulos in a London bar. Papadopoulos revealed that he had access to damaging information about Hillary Clinton obtained by Russian hackers. That meeting took place in May of 2016. The meeting referenced in the New York Times story took place in September of 2016, several months later. So, since the investigation was already in progress, what exactly were Trump and Fox News so excited about? The Times story merely affirms prior reporting that Trump’s campaign had unsavory associations with Russia that were worthy of scrutiny.

Trump has been whining incessantly about what he calls a “Witch Hunt” and a “hoax” for much of the past two years. But his contention that he was the subject of spying is ludicrous. When law enforcement assigns officers to engage in surveillance it is routine and legal investigative work, not spying. And in Trump’s case, it was all conducted with strict oversight and lawful warrants issued by independent judges. Nevertheless, Trump managed to twist the Times’ story into something it wasn’t, and then declared some sort of deranged victory.

This is just another sorry attempt by Trump – with Fox’s help – to malign the FBI and American intelligence agencies. That’s something that he has been working hard at because he knows what he is guilty of and, therefore, needs to discredit the police agencies who are protecting the nation from criminals. Criminals like Donald Trump, who also tweeted that he spoke with Vladimir Putin Friday morning. His tweet indicated that they spoke about the “Russian Hoax.”

So now Trump is talking to our enemies about his attacks on American law enforcement? Is he still colluding with Putin to coordinate their stories that there was “no collusion, no obstruction”? Doesn’t he realize that Putin is a subject of the investigation by the FBI, and it’s entirely inappropriate for him to discuss the case with Putin? And given all of that, do we really need any more reasons to impeach Trump?

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

Fox News is Referenced in the Mueller Report Four Times, and Each Makes Trump Look Worse

With the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report by Donald Trump’s plant in the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr, there is going to be a flurry of furious spinning by Trump’s devoted martinets in the right-wing press. Trump himself will continue his frantic robo-rant of “no collusion, no obstruction,” as he has been doing for months.

Fox News, Robert Mueller

Naturally, Fox News will assume its predictable role as the main line of defense for Trump. They will focus exclusively on any positive angles among the vague interpretations of Mueller’s report offered by Barr or other Republican partisans. And they will brazenly ignore anything in the report that is remotely detrimental to Trump, of which there is a significant amount. Even Chris Wallace of Fox News noted that “There is a lot of stuff in here that is damaging to the president, politically embarrassing to the president.”

However, Fox News itself had a place in the Mueller report with four references to Trump’s State TV affiliate. The following passages from the report illustrate just how deeply integrated Fox is with Trump and his associates. For instance:

Page 70:

“That night, the White House Press Office called the Department of Justice and said the White House wanted to put out a statement saying that it was Rosenstein’s idea to fire Comey. Rosenstein told other DOJ officials that he would not participate in putting out a ‘false story.’ The President then called Rosenstein directly and said he was watching Fox News, that the coverage had been great, and that he wanted Rosenstein to do a press conference. Rosenstein responded that this was not a good idea because if the press asked him, he would tell the truth that Comey’s firing was not his idea.”

What we have here is Trump keeping tabs on the investigation by watching Fox News, and then trying to get Deputy AG Rosenstein to lie for him about FBI Director James Comey’s firing. That’s obstruction of justice right there. The fact that Rosenstein refused doesn’t make Trump’s attempt any less illegal. And then there’s this:

Page 99:

“[Reince] Priebus recalled learning about the June 9 meeting from Fox News host Sean Hannity in late June 2017. Priebus notified one of the President’s personal attorneys, who told Priebus he was already working on it. By late June, several advisors recalled receiving media inquiries that could relate to the June 9 meeting.”

It’s rather remarkable that Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, found out about the infamous Trump Tower meeting (with Don Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and some Russian operatives) only by watching Fox News. That’s how out-of-the-loop Trump’s closest White House aide was, but also how integral Fox News is to Trump’s affairs. And that’s not all:

Page 126:

“In a Fox News interview on August 22, 2018, the President said: ‘[Cohen] makes a better deal when he uses me, like everybody else. And one of the reasons l respect Paul Manafort so much is he went through that trial-you know they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping. The President said that flipping was ‘not fair’ and ‘almost ought to be outlawed.'”

In this “interview” with the unabashedly pro-Trump “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends, Trump is laying the groundwork for threats directed at his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, while simultaneously praising his more loyal campaign chairman, Manafort. This is a fairly clumsy attempt at witness tampering. Which he did some more of here:

Page 151:

“In January 2019, after the media reported that Cohen would provide public testimony in a congressional hearing, the President made additional public comments suggesting that Cohen’s family members had committed crimes. In an interview on Fox on January 12, 2019, the President was asked whether he was worried about Cohen’s testimony and responded:

‘[I]n order to get his sentence reduced, [Cohen] says “I have an idea, I’ll ah, tell-I’ll give you some information on the president.” Well, there is no information. But he should give information maybe on his father-in-law because that’s the one that people want to look at because where does that money-that’s the money in the family.'”

Trump made these accusations during an interview with his adoring acolyte, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. They were directed against Cohen’s family as a flagrant attempt to scare him into keeping his mouth shut.

It’s hard to see why Mueller didn’t think he had sufficient evidence to indict Trump, or at least to recommend that Congress take up an inquiry that could lead to impeachment. And as guilty as Trump now appears to be, it’s plain that Fox News was a willing accomplice every step of the way. It is not insignificant that Fox was referenced four times in the report. They were further included in twenty-seven footnotes. No other national news network was referenced in the body of the report even once. What does that tell you?

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