Self-Abuse? Trump Promised to Release His Taxes, Now Calls Requests ‘An Abuse of Power’

The still simmering controversy over whether or not Donald Trump should release his tax returns is emblematic of the march toward Idiocracy by the Trump administration, his cult following, and his State TV affiliate, Fox News. The arguments made by the tax suppressors are an affront to logic and democracy. In other words, quintessentially Trumpian.

Donald Trump

The first and foremost point to be made is that Trump himself promised to release his tax returns prior to the election saying that “I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely. And I would love to do that.” He never delivered on that promise of transparency that every presidential candidate for the past forty years has complied with.

Trump’s original breach of his pledge was an invented excuse that he couldn’t release his taxes because he was being audited. Let’s set aside the fact that there is no evidence of any such audit taking place. More to the point, the IRS does not prohibit – or even care – if a taxpayer chooses to release their own tax returns during an audit. And it wouldn’t affect the audit in any way. After all, the IRS already has that data, so there wouldn’t be any surprise disclosure. How could a public release change anything?

Now Trump is whining about efforts by Democrats in Congress to acquire his tax returns as part of their constitutional oversight responsibilities. And his complaint is typically broiled in hyperbole. He is accusing Democrats of “a gross abuse of power.” In fact, they are performing their duties in conjunction with all applicable laws. And there is a glaring need to probe Trump’s finances given all of the evidence of corruption in his businesses and political activities.

What’s more, Trump is exacerbating the suspicions that surround him by being so evasive and adamant that his taxes remain secret. There is a distinct odor of criminality and consciousness of guilt. What is he struggling so hard to conceal? His “acting” chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was on Fox News Sunday morning and participated in this exchange with anchor Bill Hemmer:

Hemmer: To be clear, you believe Democrats will never see the President’s tax returns?
Mulvaney: Oh no, never. Nor should they. Keep in mind that that’s an issue that was already litigated during the election. Voters knew the President could’ve given his tax returns, they knew that he didn’t, and they elected him anyway.

To be clear, Trump told voters that he would “absolutely” release his taxes, he lied, and a minority of voters elected him anyway via the fatally flawed Electoral College. And it’s the American people, not just the Democrats in Congress, that Trump is most worried about, prompting his obsession with preventing them from seeing the shady dealings in his tax returns.

Trump frequently takes both sides of any issue he addresses. That’s mostly because he doesn’t understand anything and forgets what lies he told previously, or finds a new lie more advantageous at the moment. For instance, his initial assertion that he welcomed the release of the full report by special counsel Robert Mueller, and later dismissing it as an illegal hoax. But for him to call requests for his taxes a “gross abuse of power,” after vowing to release them himself, suggests that he was engaging in a perverse act of self-abuse when he made his initial promise. Democrats now are only asking that he keep his word. Which, based on his prior record, may be way too much to hope for.

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

Hair Trump Threatens to Use His ‘Tough People’ – the Police, Military, Bikers – Against Democrats

For most his presidency, Donald Trump has demonstrated a perverse infatuation with the tyrannical despots who represent some of America’s most virulent enemies. From Vladimir Putin to Xi Jinping to Kim Jong Un to Muhammad Salman, Trump has shown an adoring preference for their brand of autocracy, and a deference to their flagrant lies over the facts provided by his own intelligence agencies.

Donald Trump

The compulsion by Trump to emulate these dictators has not been incidental. He has explicitly expressed his aspiration to command the same blind loyalty that these authoritarians insist upon. He pined over Xi.” becoming president for life. He yearned to be “worshipped” like Kim. He has spoken openly about “revolution” if he is impeached.

Now Trump has elaborated on these anti-democratic, un-American tendencies in an interview with the ultra-rightist Breitbart website. Rather than show respect for the diversity of opinion in American politics, Trump has articulated an approach to his critics that is overtly hostile and illegal. He told Breitbart that:

“I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

That is an unambiguous threat of the sort that mobsters (with whom Trump is well familiar) would make against their foes. But it’s even worse than that.Trump is asserting that he personally has control of the police and the military and that they will obey his singular will. That’s the talk of a crazed, third world strongman, not a democratic president. Who is he proposing to attack with this fantasy force he’s pretending to command? Nancy Pelosi? Gavin Newsom? Robert Mueller?

And for some extra added totalitarian flavor, Trump insults the very troops that he thinks are his allies. He associates the police and the military with outlaw biker gangs who have no law enforcement authority, but whom Trump regards as part of his loony defense force.

These are the martinets of the Trump regime who he expects will bear arms against their fellow citizens. It’s all part of his campaign to divide America into hostile factions. And anyone not on his side will be maligned in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people,” just has he as already been doing for years to our nation’s free press. He will be the one source of truth and the one commander of his twisted anti-patriots. He really seems to be preparing for a Jonestown-like event wherein he orders his cult followers to make the final sacrifice.

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

Why Won’t Fox News Fire Tucker Carlson? Their Deplorable Viewers Will Watch Whoever Replaces Him

Following a week where Jane Mayer’s exhaustive New Yorker essay exposing how Fox News has transformed from a Republican mouthpiece into the propaganda arm of Donald Trump’s White House, the network is undergoing additional hardship due to its own embrace of doctrinaire hate speech.

Fox News, Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump

The primetime White Nationalist Hour of Tucker Carlson has long been a haven for bigotry dispensed by the most smugly arrogant blowhard on television. Carlson has the distinction of having been fired from three TV networks (PBS, CNN, and MSNBC). However, when he landed at Fox News (despite his previous bad blood with the network), he had truly found his TV soul mate, where he could blather incessantly about “dirty” immigrants and loving all Americans, even the Klan members.

Now Media Matters has unearthed some recordings of Carlson when he was a guest on a rather profane radio show hosted by Bubba, the Love Sponge. His rantings were among the most repulsively misogynistic tirades ever made in a public forum by a well known pundit. In the video compilation Carlson can heard blatantly defending a convicted sexual abuser and justifying child rape:

Subsequently, there has been an outcry for advertisers to boycott Fox News (which many are already doing), and for Fox to fire Tucker Carlson. For the moment, that doesn’t appear to a likely consequence of Carlson’s disgusting behavior. His response to the controversy was a brazenly unapologetic tweet that dismissed any acknowledgement of his grotesque commentaries:

“Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago. Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch. Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”

First of all, what Carlson said wasn’t “naughty.” It was obscene, hostile, and utterly contemptible. It was degrading and dangerous. There is no excuse for the nauseating views he disgorged over and over again. Secondly, his attempt to dismiss it as having occurred a decade ago are laughably hypocritical. He surely doesn’t have the same forgiveness for the North Carolina governor’s blackface photos in a thirty year old college yearbook. Or for the decades old philandering of Bill Clinton. Or for the forty year old remarks by Joe Biden that Carlson featured on last Friday’s show.

Finally, his suggestion that the solution to this problem is for his critics to come on his show and help boost his floundering ratings is grossly self-serving. Plus, it’s a lie that he’ll let “anyone” come on his show to confront him. His modus operandi is to entrap his guests with contrived questions of the “Have you stopped beating your wife” variety. And if they manage to get the upper hand, he interrupts them and cuts them off.

So Fox News is once again being faced with a public backlash caused by one of their noxious hosts. They are simultaneously dealing with comments by Jeanine Pirro, who delivered one of her patented teeth-gnashing, spittle-inflected assaults on Rep. Ilhan Omar that asserted she was anti-America and anti-Constitution because she’s a practicing Muslim. Fox News actually released a statement “strongly condemning” Pirro, but will likely do nothing else.

What’s funny is that they could easily fire Carlson and suffer little or no repercussions outside of the PR hit. The core Fox News audience has demonstrated through the years that they will watch whatever is on Fox, no matter what or who it is. It appears that one obnoxious, lying hate monger is the same as another. So Fox could jettison Carlson and replace him with Jason Chaffetz or Brian Kilmeade and no one would flinch. So why won’t Fox fire Tucker Carlson?

First and foremost, Fox News agrees with Carlson. The network’s mission has always been in alignment with just the sort of repellant verbal abuse that Carlson unleashed in the video above. What’s more, Rupert Murdoch has been a notoriously stubborn purveyor of right-wing media. He will hang on to failing properties for years with the expectation that sheer persistence will bring success. And he has a physical aversion to conceding that he’s ever wrong about anything.

That blind faith in always being right is something Murdoch shares with Donald Trump. And something else they share is the belief that – as Trump put it – he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any of his supporters. That appears to be the working thesis at Fox News where the carnage produced by Carlson, Pirro, and others won’t have any cost in ratings. So even though it would be easier to let Carlson go and plug in another wingnut bot, Fox will cling to his revolting personage and try to weather the storm.

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

Unfortunately for Fox News, that old method of doing business may not hold up in the future. The network has been bleeding audience, advertisers, and revenue for several months. Rachel Maddow is kicking Sean Hannity’s fat arse. And the more that Fox clutches tightly to Trump, the worse their prospects have been. So time will tell if enabling jerkwads like Carlson will pay off in the long run.

Trump’s Lies are Crushed By Senate Intel Vice-Chair: ‘There’s Plenty of Evidence’ of Collusion

Donald Trump has been stuck in a frantic and tedious loop of whiny denials for the past couple years. It consists primarily of him impotently proclaiming his innocence with regard to his nefarious associations with Russian operatives in an effort to steal the 2016 presidential election. For the most part his factless proclamations have only served to make him look more guilty.

Mark Warner, CNN

Among his most persistent citations of innocence has been a repeated reference to remarks by the Republican chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr. Last September Burr told reporters that he had not seen any direct evidence of collusion or conspiracy with Russia on the part of the President. Note that he did not say it didn’t happen, only that his committee had “no hard evidence” of it. But that was enough to trigger Trump into making multiple identical tweets on the subject. It began on Sep 12, 2018, and continued on Feb 7, 2019, and Feb 8, 2019 and Feb 9, 2019 and Feb 10, 2019 and Feb 22, 2019 and Feb 25, 2019.

Some of these tweets were Trump unleashing his standard “Witch Hunt” rants, and others were retweets from the likes of Sean Hannity. But they all said exactly the same thing incorrectly quoting Sen. Burr: “No Collusion!”

Well, on Sunday morning Trump’s favorite proof that he was a squeaky clean paragon of virtue fell apart. Sen. Mark Warner, the Vice-Chair of the Intelligence Committee appeared on CNN’s State of the Union and explicitly contradicted Trump’s distorted version of events (video below). His remarks could not have been more clear:

“Anyone who says there’s no evidence of collaboration – there’s plenty of evidence. […] The notion that there’s no evidence is just factually wrong. Just in the public domain there are literally reams and reams of evidence of Russian outreach to Trump officials and clear interest from Trump officials, including the President’s own son, welcoming the opportunity to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

Warner outlined a small portion of the evidence that was just revealed during the recent House Oversight Committee’s hearing with Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. He cited three pieces of evidence from Cohen’s testimony:

“One, the fact that Donald Trump and Michael Cohen mislead the American public for months about the whole notion of trying to continue to get a Trump Tower project going in Moscow. […]

“The second is the evidence that Mr. Cohen put out that he was in the presence of Donald Trump when Roger Stone called indicating that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange from Wikileaks, indicating that Wikileaks was about to drop a bunch of very damaging information about Hillary Clinton. […]

“And finally we have this whole question wherein Mr. Trump knew about the meeting in Trump Tower that included Don Jr, Jared Kushner, the campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Clearly a meeting that was not about Russian adoption, but was about the idea of turning over dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

For good measure, Warner’s counterpart in the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, spoke on the same issues on CBS’s Face the Nation, saying that “there is both ‘direct evidence’ and ‘abundant circumstantial evidence’ of collusion with Russia.” He elaborated:

“They offer that dirt. There is an acceptance of that offer in writing from the president’s son, Don Jr., and there is overt acts in furtherance of that. That is the meeting at Trump Tower and all the lies to cover up that meeting at the Trump Tower, and apparently lies that the president participated in.”

So this should put an end to the fallacy that there is no evidence against Trump for conspiracy with Russia. Quite the opposite is true. There are mountains of evidence. And that’s even the position of the Vice-Chair of the Senate committee that Trump is so fond of citing on his own behalf. But don’t expect this to end Trump’s plaintive wailing that he’s innocent. When has reality ever interfered with his determination to disgorge obvious lies to shield himself from the consequences of his criminal behavior?

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

Plead the 25th: Trump Disgorges an Insane Tweetstorm About an Imaginary Michael Cohen Book

Like Clockwork. Whenever Donald Trump is the most fearful about his snowballing legal peril, he lashes out from his Twitter throne with the most deranged and groundless spasms of utter nonsense he can contrive given his obviously advanced mental infirmity. And on Friday morning he didn’t disappoint. The fury that he unleashed only affirms just how recent events have driven him to near incapacitation.

Donald Trump

Trump just returned from Vietnam where he engineered an historic failure to achieve any of the progress that he promised prior to his meeting with his girlfriend (“We fell in love”), Kim Jong Un. As Jimmy Kimmel put it, “Trump literally got more done in his summit with Kim Kardashian.” And while Trump was embarrassing America abroad, his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was dishing on him in a hearing before the House Oversight Committee. His testimony was so damaging that even the senior judicial analyst at Fox News recognized that Trump could be liable for as many as four felonies.

It’s at times like these that Trump totally freaks out and decides to go public with his delusions and make things even worse. The following tweets are some of the best arguments that Trump is suffering from senile dementia and needs to be evaluated for a possible invocation of the 25th Amendment. He starts off with this pile of blathering falsehoods:

First of all, nothing about this was either “new” or “just released.” In fact, the Daily Beast reported on a proposal for a book by Cohen last May. It was tentatively titled “Trump Revolution: From The Tower to The White House, Understanding Donald J. Trump.” But it was scrapped due to his legal problems that were beginning to spin out of control. Also, why is Trump always so obsessed with people writing him “love letters,” ala Kim Jong Un? And then Trump tweets that:

Congress cannot demand something that doesn’t exist. There was never a book published or even submitted to the publisher. So it’s impossible to figure out what Trump is referring to that is so head spinning. But it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the pitch for the book featured a vastly different characterization of Trump than the one that Cohen is presenting now. A year ago he was still shilling for the President and telling what he now concedes were lies. The difference between his statements then and now is that now he’s making them under oath. Nevertheless, Trump continues:

No – It’s clear that Trump does not see. The case for his conspiracy with Russia is stronger than ever. And there is still no evidence of any wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton, even after thousands of hours of investigations by a Republican congress. If there were, Trump’s Justice Department would have brought indictments. What’s more, the only reason Trump’s finances are being scrutinized is that there is so much evidence of criminal activity. If this is a “Witch Hunt” then it’s already found a vast coven of witches. And finally:

How does Trump know what Cohen’s book manuscript shows? Does he have a copy? Why doesn’t he just release that to the public? Perhaps because it doesn’t exist. Even the prospective publisher said that he never received a manuscript. And Trump shouldn’t be portraying others as lying “on a scale not seen before,” considering the documentation of his lies since taking office that now exceed over 8,000. As for Lanny Davis (who is not Hillary Clinton’s lawyer), why does Trump care what he has to say? He is representing Cohen and will surely take positions that advance Cohen’s interest. And he’ll probably be more effective than Trump’s legal team headed by the always entertaining Rudy Giuliani.

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

So Trump is once again displaying the signs of a man consumed by fear who has no idea how to respond to the numerous and legitimate allegations swirling around him. So he posts incoherent tirades on Twitter that are filled with lies and slander. And for some reason he thinks this will be helpful. Well, he’s kind of right. It will be very helpful to special counsel Robert Mueller and the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

Even Fox News Can’t Avoid How Badly the Trump Shutdown is Going Over with the American People

It’s day 24 of the Trump Shutdown, and no end is currently in sight. The ill effects of that are even being felt in the White House, where Donald Trump had to serve Big Macs and pizzas to the NCAA champion Clemson Tigers because much of the staff is furloughed. Trump says that he paid for the “feast,” but that really isn’t something to brag about. It’s a pretty lame “celebration” that’s catered by McDonalds.

Fox News Trump

In the meantime, millions of American families are struggling to make ends meet due to the furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal workers. Who’s paying for their meals, or healthcare, or mortgages? The hardship that Trump has imposed on the nation is getting worse with each new day. And the American people know exactly who is at fault.

Despite Trump’s promise not to blame Democrats, he has been doing just that for the past couple of weeks. However, his broken promise isn’t being received well by the public. And even Fox News is unable to pretend that Trump’s shutdown strategy is working out very well. An article on the Fox website carries the headline “Trump doubles down on border wall, as polls show voters turning against his shutdown strategy.” And the article explains unambiguously how badly the polling on this issue is going for Trump and his Republican Nationalist Party:

“As the partial shutdown enters its fourth week and hundreds of thousands of federal workers miss their first paychecks, fresh polling suggests the president is losing the battle of public opinion.

“A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday found that 63 percent of voters agree with the Democratic proposal to reopen parts of the government that do not involve border security, with 30 percent opposed. The same poll found 63 percent also oppose using the shutdown to force wall funding, with just 32 percent supporting.

“The poll found that 56 percent of American voters blame Trump and Republicans in Congress for the partial shutdown, compared with 36 percent who say Democrats are responsible.

“An earlier Washington Post-ABC News poll also found more Americans blame Trump and the Republicans than the Democrats over the stalemate.”

This bad news is just a portion of what Trump is having to endure as this new year is barely getting started. Bloomberg reports that at least six polls show that America blames Trump for the shutdown and opposes his exploitation of it for a stupid vanity wall that nobody wants. Trump is also fielding questions about whether he is a Russian asset. If your president has to deny that he’s working for Russia, you need a new president. And it’s been discovered that he has been suppressing information about his private meetings with Vladimir Putin.

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

If Trump isn’t a Russian asset, he’s doing an awfully good imitation of one. That’s a far bigger problem than his poor showing in polls about the shutdown. But the nation’s mood isn’t going to be particularly forgiving to a president who is generally despised while also being suspected of selling out his country. This is the kind of political environment that lends itself to impeachment. Hopefully.

What’s the Real Reason Trump Gave that Yawner from the Oval Office? (Hint: Think Russia)

On Tuesday night Donald Trump gave a much anticipated address from the Oval Office, his first as President. There was rampant speculation about what he might say. Some pundits wondered if he might take the opportunity to declare a national emergency in order to reallocate federal funds to his idiotic and useless vanity wall. Others just considered it a ploy to get the public to pressure Congress to pay his ransom for reopening the government.

Donald Trump, Subway

As it turns out the speech was a tiresome affair that featured Trump solemnly reciting from his TelePrompTer and sniffling as he has been known to do after snorting Adderall. There was nothing that could be called newsworthy. Trump offered no solutions to the shutdown impasse. He made no overtures to Democrats on border security legislation. There wasn’t anything different about this speech than what he’s been saying for the past three weeks on this subject. And of course, that means he was repeating the same old lies that he and his surrogates (including Surrogate-in-Chief Mike Pence) have been foisting on the public since the Trump Shutdown began.

So there was no reason for this speech to be carried live by the news networks. No news value would have been lost by delaying it for half an hour so that it could be fact checked – a practice that should be in effect for everything Trump says or does. What the speech did contain was Trump’s now tedious routine of fear mongering and blame shifting to Democrats.

He amped up the emotionally charged fears of violence allegedly committed by undocumented immigrants with examples that included murders, rapes, and even beheadings. Never mind that this immigrant population is far less likely to commit these or any crimes than are native born citizens. The purpose of this overtly racist argument, as employed by Trump and his shills on Fox News, is to demonize people who are largely peaceful and law abiding.

So why did Trump take the extraordinary step of demanding primetime television access to the nation in order to bore them with rote repetitions of his commonplace cult rally ravings? He must have known that there was nothing in his remarks that would change anyone’s mind. Nor would it move the needle on resolving the shutdown problem. The only thing that it would be certain to do is dominate the news cycle for a short period of time. And therein lies a clue to what might have been his true intention.

Absent this speech, the most prominent stories that came out the same day concerned the ongoing investigations into Trump’s collusion and conspiracy with Russia. One of those stories featured the chairman of his presidential campaign, Paul Manafort, who was found to have been sharing proprietary polling data with a suspected Russian intelligence operative. That information corresponds with the sort of data used by Russia to interfere with the election, and links Trump’s campaign to the Russian conspiracy more closely than ever before.

The other story concerned the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who famously met with Manafort, Don Jr, Jared Kushner, and others, in Trump Tower. That was the meeting where they discussed acquiring “dirt” in the form of stolen emails from Hillary Clinton and her associates. Veselnitskaya was indicted yesterday for obstruction of justice in a case that revealed her close ties to the Kremlin.

Given the bombshell quality of these stories, it would have been a fortunate coincidence if something else arose that might distract the media and the public from focusing on them. Could Trump have been tipped off about these impending legal disclosures? Perhaps by Manafort or his lawyers who have already been discovered to have secretly briefed Trump’s legal team And might Trump have had an incentive to schedule a rare Oval Office address that was completely devoid of substance in order to execute that distraction? Can anyone supply another reason why the President would embarrass himself with that empty televised spectacle that was the oratorical equivalence of dropping his pants on the subway to draw attention away from a worse crime?

Who knows with this president? This might be a step too deep into conspiracy theory. But it is well within the bounds of plausibility for a president who is openly considering a declaration of a national emergency – which does not exist – just so he can build a wall that most Americans don’t want. It is not far-fetched for someone who lies with such ease about things as easily verifiable as whether past presidents told him that they should have built a wall; or that 4,000 suspected terrorists were caught crossing the southern border; or that Democrats request that Trump change his wall construction from concrete to steel.

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

None of those things were true. And that tendency for flagrant falsification is what makes anything possible with this president. Including a plot to wave a shiny Oval Office speech in front of the press to get them to ignore the fact that he’s pantless. But fortunately, it doesn’t seem to have worked. The other stories are still being sell covered (less so on Fox News) and are likely to make headlines on Wednesday and beyond. So Trump embarrassed himself, and wasted the nation’s time, in vain. The only problem with that is that it might make him more likely to actually declare a national emergency, out of anger and/or vengeance, in order to distract from the failure of this distraction. Stay tuned.

Trump Blatantly Lies About Russian ‘Witch Hunt’ According to the Journalist He Misquoted

With each new day Donald Trump demonstrates evermore fear and desperation due to the mounting evidence of his collusion and conspiracy with Russia to undermine an American election. He behaves precisely the way one would expect a guilty man to behave, by distorting facts, distracting from the issues, and maligning his critics. It would be pathetic if it weren’t so troubling and dangerous.

Donald Trump

On Tuesday morning Trump went to new extremes to absolve himself of any liability for his felonious actions. In a series of frantic tweets, Trump presented what he said was a case for his innocence made by journalist Michael Isikoff, co-author with David Corn of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. Isikoff was interviewed by John Ziegler, however, Trump got his analysis of Isikoff’s remarks from Fox News, as usual. But what Trump tweeted (here, here, and here) was far removed from reality:

“Russia Dossier reporter now doubts dopey Christopher Steele’s claims! “When you get into the details of the Steele Dossier, the specific allegations, we have not seen the evidence to support them. There’s good grounds to think that some of the more sensational allegations…..”

“….WILL NEVER BE PROVEN AND ARE LIKELY FALSE.” Thank you to Michael Isikoff, Yahoo, for honesty. What this means is that the FISA WARRANTS and the whole Russian Witch Hunt is a Fraud and a Hoax which should be ended immediately. Also, it was paid for by Crooked Hillary & DNC!”

“Michael Isikoff was the first to report Dossier allegations and now seriously doubts the Dossier claims. The whole Russian Collusion thing was a HOAX, but who is going to restore the good name of so many people whose reputations have been destroyed?”

There is a whole lot of wrongness in there to unwrap, starting with Trump’s typically childish insult of Steele as “dopey.” More to the point. Trump falsely asserts that the FISA warrants are a fraud even though none of this addresses them. What’s more, the Steele dossier was not a primary source of evidence for granting the warrants. Also, Hillary Clinton didn’t pay for the dossier. Her campaign paid Fusion GPS to do research and they hired Steele.

So Trump is attempting to use Isikoff’s comments as absolution for his crimes. But Trump left out the most critical parts of the interview. Those omissions were pointed out by the interviewer, the interviewee, and his co-author. Isikoff had plenty to say about Trump’s adventures with Russia that the President failed to mention. For instance:

“In broad strokes, Christopher Steele was clearly onto something. That there was a major Kremlin effort to interfere with our elections. That they were trying to help Trump’s campaign. And that there were multiple contacts between various Russian figures close to the government and various people in the Trump campaign. That much, I think, has been established by the public records.”

And also that:

“The Trump campaign and its campaign operatives, Donald Trump Jr, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, were active in ways that was clearly inappropriate and that they shouldn’t have done. And that they concealed this from the voters.

“And the Moscow Tower project going on in June of 2016, with direct conversations between Michael Cohen and an assistant to Dmitri Peskov, a press secretary to Vladimir Putin, was incredibly significant, concealed from the voters, and gives the lie to Donald Trump’s repeated statements during the campaign that he had nothing to do with Russia. That nobody connected to his campaign had any contacts with anybody in Russia.

“I mean, the President during the campaign, as a candidate, seriously mislead the American public about what was a very important issue. And that was the questions about what the Russians were up to and his own dealing with the Russians. So all of that is true.”

What more needs to be said? Isikoff clearly stated that Trump was deeply involved with Russian figures and that he lied about it repeatedly. But Trump ignored all of that and distorted Isikoff’s words to say the opposite, and ironically, thanked him for his honesty. That tells you all you need to know about Trump’s aversion to honesty and his determined intent to mislead and spread falsehoods at every opportunity. It’s in his nature, and we can expect it to continue until he is removed from office. Hopefully in handcuffs.

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

Trump Saying ‘People Would Revolt’ if He is Impeached is Not His Opinion, It’s an Instruction

The walls are continuing to close in around Donald Trump. And they aren’t border walls. With the sentencing of his former associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, there is more information being released that unambiguously implicates Trump in federal crimes. And, as is his customary practice, the more he feels threatened, the more hysterical he gets. He is transparently consumed by fear and desperation.

Donald Trump Revolt

That response was in effect Tuesday when Trump was interviewed by Reuters. The whole interview was woven with lies and nonsense. But one particular part is worthy of notice. When Trump was questioned about talk that he could be impeached for crimes related to his campaign and and his unsavory connections to Russia, he blew up:

“It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country. “I’m not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened.”

Let’s set aside – after laughing uncontrollably – the patently untrue assertions that Trump has done nothing wrong, or that he’s responsible for the “greatest economy” in history. What is stunning about his comments is his warning that there would be a revolt if he were held accountable for his criminal activities. In fact, this is less a warning than it is instructions to his cult followers. He expects them to resort to violence on his behalf in the event he is impeached by the representatives of the American people.

There are lots of reasons to consider Trump’s impeachment. He shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to his mistresses in order to keep them quiet before the 2016 election. He failed to disclose those expenditures. He has received millions more from foreign operatives funneling money to him through his hotels and other businesses. He and his closest associates have lied repeatedly about his conspiracy to steal the election with his Russian partners. So impeachment is not much of a stretch for such a flagrant law violator, and a bad one at that.

Even more troubling is the fact that this isn’t the first time Trump has threatened violence directed at his critics. Even during his campaign Trump threatened the outbreak of riots if he was denied the nomination. Almost daily he refers to the media in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people.” He has accused the press of “creating violence by your questions […] The fake news is creating violence.” He accused Democrats in Congress of treason for not applauding him at the State of the Union address. “Can we call that treason?” he said. “Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.” He suggested that the media also committed treason with its coverage of his summit with Kim Jong Un, saying that “It’s a shame the fake news covers it the way they do. It’s really, it’s almost treasonous, you want to know the truth.” Do you detect a pattern?

If you think that this sort of hostile rhetoric is petty trumpery (“worthless nonsense” according to Merriam-Webster), you might want to refer to the polling that shows that one-third of Trump voters say Democrats who didn’t applaud during the State of the Union were “treasonous.”

And you might also note Trump’s obsession with maligning his critics as anti-American. For instance, there was the time he responded to an op-ed in the New York Times by an anonymous White House staffer who called Trump “amoral,” “unstable,” “erratic,” “ill-informed,” and “reckless.” The author further worried that the President has “a preference for autocrats and dictators.” And that other staffers were “working diligently … from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” In response to that article Trump blasted off four tweets attacking the Times, one of which contained a single word:

And that pretty much sums up the position of this wannabe dictator in the White House. He truly believes that any dissent is tantamount to treason, and the consequences of that is death. That’s the message that Trump is sending out to his glassy-eyed cult disciples. And this latest message raising the prospect of “revolt” is another escalation in his war against America, democracy, and freedom.

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

American Pravda: Trump’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Bill Shine, is Still on the Fox News Payroll

The bonds between Donald Trump and Fox News have been unmistakable from well before he even announced his candidacy for president. He had a regular weekly segment on Fox and Friends called “Mondays with Trump.” And as he transitioned from a reality TV host to an elected “leader,” Fox News grew even closer to him, performing the duties of a devoted propaganda outlet. Trump himself has inadvertently admitted that Fox is essentially an in-house media organ.

Fox News, Donald Trump

Those already close ties have just been revealed to be even tighter than previously thought. The Trump administration is full of former Foxies, including top White House aides like National Security Advisor John Bolton and Under Secretary of State, Heather Nauert. But no one is more representative of this media/politics marriage than Bill Shine, Trump’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications. Shine was previously the president of Fox News, a position he rose to after serving as Sean Hannity’s producer.

Now it has been revealed that Shine is actually being paid simultaneously by taxpayers and Fox News. The Hollywood Reporter got ahold of Shine’s financial disclosure forms which are required for White House service. In addition to their already having been amended several times, they contain this troubling information:

“Bill Shine received an $8.4 million severance package upon leaving his post as co-president of Fox News […] Shine, who officially began working in the White House on July 5, will also receive a bonus and options of about $3.5 million from 21st Century Fox both this year and next year.”

This is an unprecedented breach of the principle of independent media. To say that Fox News is “State TV” actually understates the gravity of this perverse relationship. Shine cannot be regarded as serving the public interest in his White House position if he’s still working for Fox News, the network that has become an extension of Trump’s PR machine. When Fox News defends Trump, or criticizes his opponents, it is impossible to separate that from the agenda of the White House. Even worse, Fox’s on-air shills actively promote Trump politically and give him (horrible) advice on presidential decisions.

It should not be permissible for a White House employee to be on the payroll of any other enterprise, especially one in the media. It presents an unambiguous conflict of interest. But that’s where Trump and Shine are right now.

The article in the Hollywood Reporter provides additional details about this arrangement. But what the article doesn’t say is that the reason Shine was terminated from Fox was that he covered up the sexual harassment and abuse of Fox bigwigs like CEO Roger Ailes and host Bill O’Reilly. That factoid makes it even more clear what binds Trump and Shine. In addition to their political affinities, they are both misogynistic perverts. It’s a marriage made in Hell, but the couple is honeymooning in the White House and the American people are paying for it – in more ways than one.

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