FFS: Trump Seeks Cyber Security Alliance with Russia, the Country That Hacked Our Election

Just when you thought Donald Trump couldn’t dig himself further up Putin’s anus, he pulls out an even bigger jackhammer. The President appears oblivious to the fact that he is under investigation for colluding with Russia during the 2016 election. Many of his close associates have been caught with Russian agents in meetings they tried to cover up. Seventeen independent American intelligence agencies concluded that Russia engaged in extensive operations to hack our election to Trump’s benefit.

Trump/Putin

Nevertheless, it has now been learned that Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is proposing a confounding alliance. Tillerson had numerous encounters with Russian government and businesses in his previous position as CEO of Exxon. But this new hook up is hard to believe. According to Newsweek, Tillerson is seeking to partner with Russia on projects “aimed at cybersecurity and cyberespionage.” Newsweek notes that this…

“…seems particularly odd given not only the investigations surrounding President Donald Trump and his former campaign but also the conclusion reached by the U.S. intelligence community that Russia intentionally meddled in last year’s election in order to ascend Trump’s candidacy. [and that] Complicating the matter is Trump’s consistent refusal to declare Russia had meddled in the election and reluctance to say anything negative about Putin or his government.”

Set aside for the moment the absurdity of favoring Russia with such a privileged relationship after their activities last year. Any program that joins the United States and Russia in efforts to combat cyber attacks is wrought with obvious peril. The intelligence sharing would give the Russians access to confidential information that could aid them in future attacks on the U.S. They would undoubtedly be pleased to learn what areas the Americans regard as vulnerable. This would include risks far beyond election tampering. Cyber attacks can also be launched against infrastructure, power grids, commerce, and even military operations.

Additionally, this sort of coalition would make American technology available to our new partners. Procedures aimed at investigating digital intrusions would have to be shared. Likewise, methods of correcting and securing systems that have been compromised would become common knowledge. And that knowledge would be invaluable in plotting new attacks.

These ham-handed efforts to engage with a hostile adversary make no sense at all. Even strictly with regard to appearances, it is utterly unjustifiable. Russia, based on its unacknowledged and unremorseful activities, surely doesn’t deserve this special treatment. If anything, they should be subject to further sanctions and explicitly excluded from cooperation on technology matters.

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

The fact that Trump’s State Department is openly seeking to reward Russia, despite their bad behavior, suggests something ominous. Could it be a payoff for some past or future benefit for Trump? Does Putin have something on the President that he would release without accommodations like this? Are these questions too conspiratorial? Perhaps they are. But what possible incentive would Trump have for endangering the nation by sharing sensitive technology and cyber security plans with an enemy and international cyber criminal? At the very least, these are questions the media should asking.

Sean Hannity’s ‘Deep State’ Derangement Put’s Him at the Front of Conspiracy Crackpot Parade

The shooting in Virginia on Wednesday has renewed the debate over civility in public discourse. Predictably, Republicans exploited the opportunity to blame Democrats and liberals for the violence directed at their colleagues – this time. Even their pleas for consideration and respect are peppered with partisan attacks.

Sean Hannity Fox News

A perfect example occurred Thursday morning on Fox and Friends. Conservative agitator Michelle Malkin spent over eight minutes with her Fox News pals pretending to seek comity while throwing jabs at “the extreme left.” At one point, the on-screen graphic read “Violent Threats Sent To GOP Lawmakers.” The tone of the whole segment reflected that bias. At no time did they mention the recent threats against Democrats. Two Democratic candidates actually had to withdraw from their races due to death threats from right-wingers. And then there was the Republican candidate who literally assaulted a reporter who was just doing his job. That candidate, Greg Gianforte, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, won his race, and is now a U.S. congressman.

Sadly, the heated rhetoric that engulfs today’s political scene is viewed by some as an opportunity. Donald Trump notably abused his opponents whether Republican or Democrat. He fantasized about punching critics in the face. He promised to pay the legal fees of supporters who beat up protesters at his rallies. No wonder that, as president, he continues to associate with drooling barbarians like Alex Jones, Michael Savage, and Ted Nugent.

Perhaps those relationships are what is eating at Sean Hannity. He was the most vocal and devoted Trump-fluffer at Fox News during the campaign. His program featured Trump more than any other on television. And he literally endorsed Trump prior to the election, breaching every ethical standard for a news network. However, his access seems to have been curtailed. Trump hasn’t granted him an interview in over five months. In the meantime, fringe characters from Breitbart News and Infowars got passes to White House Press briefings.

This festering jealously might be inspiring Hannity to venture further out onto the crazy cliff’s edge. That seems to be the best way to get Trump’s enfeebled attention. So Hannity abandoned fear (and reason) on Wednesday night’s program to rant about the frightful “Deep State” that is plotting to destroy Trump (video below). The segment dwells on Hannity’s objection to reports that Trump is being investigated for obstruction of justice. Some choice excerpts follow:

“Tonight, and over the next few days, when the media predictably is gonna breathlessly and hyperventilate all kinds of reports and brand new black helicopters and tin-foil hat conspiracy theories to you the American people as they lie again, remember they have zero credibility left.”

Amazingly, he said that all in one breath. However, surveys show that the American people trust the media far more than they trust Trump. And credible news outlets document their stories, unlike what Hannity is doing in this tirade. He continues to deny the reports that Trump is under investigation:

“It’s only a matter of time before this too will be debunked like everything else they’ve reported in pretty much the last eleven months.”

So Hannity is asserting that for the past year “everything” that’s been reported by the media has been debunked. That’s some pretty spicy nutball delusion. Then he launches into what he says are the real crimes. He accuses James Comey and Robert Mueller of conspiring to undermine the President, despite the fact that they are both lifelong Republicans. And naturally, the biggest criminal of all is Hillary Clinton.

“We know Hillary Clinton committed felonies with her email private server scandal. If Democrats wanna talk about collusion, great. Let’s talk about it and take a look at collusion with Vladimir Putin. Uranium One. Twenty percent of the foundational material to make nuclear weapons, while serving as Secretary of State. She signed off on a waiver giving twenty percent of that uranium to Putin, to the Russians. All while people involved in that deal were funneling millions of dollars back to the Clinton Foundation.”

And all of that is total bull crap. Clinton did not sign any such waiver. There was a deal for Russia to acquire certain facilities (not actual uranium) that required the unanimous approval of nine separate government agencies. The State Department alone could not approve the deal. And the donations to the Clinton Foundation all occurred before Clinton was even nominated for the cabinet post. All of this information is publicly available and Hannity has known about it for years. Nevertheless, he persists in spewing information that he knows is false. It’s all part of his “Deep State” saga aimed at convincing his dim-witted audience that a covert, pseudo-government is working behind the scenes to destroy Trump.

Hannity closes with a call to arrest and jail the anonymous sources who talk to the media. He asserts that they are guilty of disseminating classified data. What’s peculiar about that charge is that he also claims the information they provided is false. But he can’t have it both ways. If the data is false, then nothing classified was revealed, no laws were broken, and no arrests are warranted. If the data is true, then Hannity has to concede that Trump is being investigated for obstruction of justice which Hannity rejects as fake news.

By spinning so furiously that his brain is scrambled, Hannity hopes to return to the high place he held with Trump prior to the election. He appears to think that he has to compete with the likes of Jones and Savage for the President’s affections. And he is probably right. Trump’s choice of friends and advisers is driven by their Insanity Quotient. The question is, can Fox News continue to allow a lying conspiracy kook to host a primetime program on their network? Well, why not? He’s been there for twenty years.

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

Trump Charges Eric’s Cancer Charity for Kids Exorbitant Fees to Use His Golf Resort

Donald Trump has a sketchy history with charitable ventures. His own Trump Foundation is being investigated for self-dealing by the New York Attorney General. His donations are often underhanded methods of transferring contributions into his personal or business accounts. And he was caught using foundation funds to donate to a political group, which is prohibited by law. A veterans charity he established during the campaign turned out to be a blatant publicity stunt. It didn’t donate to any veterans causes until after a Washington Post story revealed the discrepancy.

Donald Trump

Now Forbes is reporting that Trump has taken a personal interest in a charity started by his son Eric. According to the article, the charity began with apparent good intentions, but went sour when daddy intervened. Forbes quotes Ian Gillule, who served as membership and marketing director at Trump National Westchester:

“‘Mr. Trump had a cow. He flipped. He was like, ‘We’re donating all of this stuff, and there’s no paper trail? No credit?’ And he went nuts. He said, ‘I don’t care if it’s my son or not–everybody gets billed.'”

From that point on, the charity that had been donating the use of Trump resorts to St. Jude was charged for use of the facilities. Eric promoted his charity events as benefiting from his family’s resort properties. He bragged that all the money raised would go directly to cancer patients because he could get the location for free. However, as Forbes reveals:

“That’s not the case. In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free–that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.”

This pattern of greed and selfishness is repeated often by Trump and his family. They appear to believe that they are an entitled nobility who can skim whatever they want from people they’re pretending to help. And they do so without the slightest hint of shame. Given this latest revelation, anyone who donates anything to a Trump sponsored charity is essentially paying tributes to the family. And perhaps that’s the whole point, after all. Trump has already shown that he will use his for-profit enterprises to rake in cash from foreign entities seeking favor from the President. And now there’s more proof that he will do the same with his charities.

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

Fox News and Hannity Walk Back Fake Story Without Admitting Fault or Apologizing

For several weeks Fox News and other right-wing media outlets have been doing what they do best. They have been flogging a thoroughly debunked story that alleges some random impropriety on the part of Democrats or liberals. In this especially repulsive case the subject concerns a murdered former staffer of the Democratic National Committee.

Sean Hannity Fox News

The conservative mythology on this is that Seth Rich was assassinated by some nefarious lefty cabal because he leaked stolen DNC documents to Wikileaks. However, there’s no evidence of any such activity, and the police have concluded that the crime was a botched robbery. But the existence of those facts didn’t stop Fox News and others from exploiting a family tragedy for their own political motives.

Now that the facts have come out, some of the rightist media are rushing to cover their asses. They don’t want to be further associated with such an obvious hoax, nor do they want to get sued. Unfortunately, the inability of some of these liars to admit wrongdoing is getting in the way of their disclaimers.

Fox News had reported on the Rich murder on their network and posted articles on their website. But apparently they only considered the website report as needing to be addressed. So they posted a statement saying that:

On May 16, a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation into the 2016 murder of DNC Staffer Seth Rich. The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed.

We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted.

Notice that nowhere in that statement did Fox News admit that the content of their reporting was false. They merely said that it didn’t meet their editorial standards. That’s a pretty low bar by any objective analysis. They also reiterated their intention to pursue the story that everyone else knows is patently untrue. What they didn’t do was to apologize to the Rich family for spreading lies and denigrating the victim’s memory.

Fox also failed to offer any kind of retraction for the same reporting on their TV network. The biggest offender on Fox is without contest, Sean Hannity. He has taken a leading role in spreading the slander of Rich. But now the blowback has gotten to him, at least in part. Tuesday night Hannity made a limp statement that failed to take any responsibility for his journalistic malpractice (video below). He said in part that:

“The unsolved murder of former DNC staffer Seth Rich continues to get attention. I totally and completely understand how upset and how hard this is on this family, especially over the recent coverage of Seth’s death. […] However, out of respect from the family’s wishes for now – I am not discussing this matter at this time.”

Once again, Hannity didn’t admit that his reporting was totally unverified and debunked. Nor did he apologize. He didn’t even promise to drop the subject, only to hold off for a while. The remainder of his statement unloaded a pile of unrelated defenses of Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. And Hannity then promised to continue his assault on the Rich family and the truth:

“I want to say this to you, my loyal audience, please do not interpret what I am saying tonight to mean anything—don’t read into this. I promise you, I am not going to stop doing my job. To the extent of my ability, I’m not going to stop trying to find the truth.”

What’s more, on his radio show Hannity said “I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com, I retracted nothing.” And he tweeted this:

Clearly, neither Hannity nor Fox News give a damn about the Rich family or their suffering. We know they don’t care about the truth because lying is integral to their business model. But anyone who gives them credit for laying off this story with their pseudo-retractions is missing the point. Fox News and Hannity are fully committed to furthering their dishonest propaganda. And they aren’t even shy about admitting it.

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

Greatest Witch Hunt in History? Trump Contradicts His Own Statement on Russia Special Counsel

On Wednesday the precarious fate of Donald Trump’s presidency took a turn for the worse. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the President’s connections with Russia. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was tapped for the job. The scope of his inquiry will likely encompass Trump’s campaign and short residency in the White House.

Donald Trump

It’s only been a few hours since this news broke, but that’s all it took for Trump to demonstrate a troubling incoherence on the subject. The first response from the administration was a formal written statement that had an atypical restraint and decorum. It said:

“As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”

Not surprisingly, that composure didn’t last long. Thursday morning Trump must have regained control of his phone and let loose another of his patented Twitter tantrums:

The original White House statement itself was likely written by staff. It lacked Trump’s familiar voice that is generally infused with rage and ego. Nor did it directly address the numerous legal breaches that are expected to comprise the core of the investigation. But it did misstate what was already known about his potential collusion with Russia. And the pretense of Trump looking forward to any of this is manifestly absurd. What’s more, it’s peculiar that Trump is accusing Rosenstein of conducting a witch hunt just a couple of months after appointing him to his current post.

However, Trump’s tweets were much more recognizably consistent with the bitter tone for which he is infamous. He lashes out at any criticism as being a deliberately hostile attack on him. And it isn’t just an unwarranted attack, it’s the worst ever. This charge comes the day after Trump told the graduating class at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that “No politician in history … has been treated worse or more unfairly.”

Needless to say, there have been scores of politicians who have suffered more than Trump. They begin with Abraham Lincoln and continue through to Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. And in Trump’s case, at least he was deserving of the treatment he has been receiving. Ironically, his second tweet was an example of two other politicians who were victims of far worse witch hunts. Hillary Clinton underwent repeated and relentless congressional inquiries into her emails and Benghazi. Yet the Republican led inquisition never produced any evidence of wrongdoing. President Obama was accused of being ineligible of office due to ludicrous assertions that he wasn’t born in the U.S. Trump himself led that witch hunt.

Somebody really needs to check on the President. He might be having a stroke. His tweets flagrantly contradict the official White House response to the special counsel appointment. They indicate that he is not actually looking forward to a “thorough investigation.” Neither does he seem particularly confidant that he will be cleared of the potentially impeachable charges. To the contrary, they suggest the fear of a guilty man who maligns the pursuit of justice. And in desperation he points accusing fingers at others to take attention away from himself. But to be fair, he does have good reason to be worried.

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

Deputy Attorney General Suddenly Names Special Counsel In Trump-Russia Scandal

The drama surrounding Donald Trump’s unsavory connections to Russia just a took a significant turn. According to NBC News (video below), Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein just appointed a Special Counsel to oversee the Trump/Russia investigation. Rosenstein has named former FBI director Robert Mueller, a George W. Bush appointee who also served under Obama, to the role.

Robert Mueller Special Counsel Trump

This development comes shortly after Rosenstein had said there wasn’t a need for such a counsel. But that was before the recent revelations that Trump had disclosed classified information to Russian officials. Also, recently revealed were former FBI Director James Comey’s notes that told of Trump’s attempts to get him to end the inquiry of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The notice from Rosenstein says that:

“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Rosenstein said in a statement. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.” […]

“Special Counsel Mueller will have all appropriate resources to conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and I am confident that he will follow the facts, apply the law and reach a just result.”

ABC News reports that:

“Mueller will have 60 days to put together a budget for resources to conduct the investigation and that budget must be approved by Rosenstein. Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously recused himself from all matters related to the presidential campaign. […]

“As special counsel, Mueller can be expected to have the full powers and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States attorney. These powers include the ability to take matters before a grand jury, issue subpoenas and assign federal agents to the case.”

It’s too soon to assess whether this investigation will be a comprehensive one that holds all involved parties accountable. But it’s a good sign that it is being taken out of the hands of compromised people in the Justice Department. This is a breaking story and more will be reported as it becomes known.

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

DAMAGE CONTROL? Putin Offers Transcript of Trump’s Meeting with Russians to Rescue His Puppet

With each passing day the precarious status of Donald Trump’s presidency becomes ever more wobbly. The latest controversy involves disquieting allegations that Trump disclosed top secret intelligence information to Russian officials visiting the White House. Since this story first broke, the President and his shills have offered varying responses. They began with outright denials. Then, undercutting his own staff, Trump tweeted that it was true, but legal. The record to date is one of diversion and obfuscation.

Putin Voted

Enter Vladimir Putin. The man credited with putting Trump in the White House has come to the rescue of his most valuable asset. Speaking at a news conference in Sochi, Putin criticized the turmoil surrounding Trump. He asserted that “[T]he United States has been developing political schizophrenia.” It’s hard to argue with that. However, Putin’s solution to the problem only exacerbates it. Talking Points Memo is reporting that:

“Russia President Vladimir Putin offered Wednesday to turn over to Congress records of President Donald Trump’s discussions with Russian diplomats in which Trump is said to have disclosed classified information. His offer added a bizarre twist to the furor over Trump’s intelligence disclosures. […] Putin told a news conference that he would be willing to turn over notes of Trump’s meeting with the Russian diplomats if the White House agreed.”

“Bizarre” only begins to describe this. First of all. it’s significant that Putin has a record of the White House encounter that he’s willing to make public (if the White House agrees). Particularly because the President has made no such claim or offer. In fact, only Russia’s press were permitted into the meeting. The U.S. media was explicitly excluded. Furthermore, what makes Putin (or anyone) think that his transcript would be considered a credible account of what occurred? He has an obvious vested interest in concealing any transfer of intelligence data he acquires from Trump. His own spy network would benefit from the data more if his foes in Israel, Syria, and elsewhere were in the dark.

Putin’s offer can serve as much more than a life preserver for the floundering American president. It can also be exploited by conservative media to protect Trump from further criticism. That would fit with Russia’s known efforts to plant stories in the press that advance their foreign policy goals. Russia has been determined to be the source of thousands of self-serving fake news articles. This could just be the latest part of that ongoing propaganda effort.

From press reports it’s unclear exactly what sort of documentation Putin has. According to NPR he used the Russian word “zapis” which can be translated as either a written record or a recording. That opens speculation as to whether the Russian diplomats brought surveillance equipment into the Oval Office. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell had an opportunity to address that with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Wednesday morning. His response was somewhat unnerving:

Really? How hard would it be to sweep the Oval Office for listening devices? And shouldn’t he be a little worried about the prospect that Russia could bug the White House and he wouldn’t know? This is just further evidence that Team Trump is dangerously inexperienced and incompetent. And that’s the best case scenario. The worst case is that Trump isn’t worried about Russian listening devices because he is the listening device. If he’s telling our secrets to the Russians himself, then why would would they need to plant a bug?

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

HOLY SH*T: Trump Leaked ‘Highly Classified Information’ to Russians During Oval Office Meeting

The negligence and incompetence of America’s Reality TV show president is having serious consequences in the realm of national security. The Washington Post is reporting that Donald Trump revealed “highly classified information” during a meeting last week with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in the White House. The Post writes that:

“Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.”

Putin got his man:
Trump Putin

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were invited to the White by Trump the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey. That’s something his Russian guests must have appreciated as it would derail the investigation into their interference with the 2016 presidential election. But what Trump disclosed during the meeting could have far reaching consequences.

According to sources familiar with the meeting, Trump was boasting that “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day.” As if to prove it he told them about a threat that the United States could only have learned through a key espionage partner. In the course of his bragging Trump revealed “the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.” This is information so sensitive that the Post is “withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.”

Even if Trump held back on some specifics, the exchange was still dangerous because Russia would be able figure out our sources or techniques just with what Trump told them. And betraying the confidence of our partner would likely cause them to refrain from sharing information with us in the future.

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

The Post noted that “Senior White House officials appeared to recognize quickly that Trump had overstepped and moved to contain the potential fallout.” But significant damage was already certainly done. The disclosure of this sort of data to a hostile foreign country’s top officials is something that was predictable in the election of a novice like Trump. And now he’s proving that our greatest fears about him are coming to pass.

The Lawyers Trump Used to Clear Him of Russian Ties Were the ‘Russian Law Firm of 2016’

File in the “You Can’t Make This Shit Up” file. Friday morning Donald Trump released a letter from his attorneys that purported to absolve him of any conflicts of interest stemming from dealings with Russia. The letter stated that the lawyers had reviewed ten years of Trump’s tax returns and affirm that he has had no income from Russian sources “with a few exceptions.”

Trump/Putin

Another way of saying that is that Trump did have some income from Russian sources. However, the larger problem with this letter is that there is no way to confirm any of its claims. What’s more, the way that Trump plays with the truth, they could be saying that he has not received any income personally from Russia, but his businesses might still have extensive financial ties.

But what makes this self-serving dispatch all the more peculiar is that the law firm representing Trump in this matter, Morgan, Lewis, has deep ties to Russia itself. ABC News reports that:

“In 2016, however, Chambers & Partners, a London-based legal research publication, named the firm ‘Russia Law Firm of the Year’ at its annual awards dinner. The firm celebrated the ‘prestigious honor’ in a press release on its website, noting that the award is ‘the latest honor for the high-profile work performed by the lawyers in Morgan Lewis’ Moscow office.'”

Needless to say, the optics of this are atrocious. Couldn’t Trump have found a purely American law firm to attest to his patriotic business dealings? Does everyone with whom he associates have hidden connections to Russia? Is Vladimir Putin handling his PR?

The honor bestowed upon this law firm may not be particularly significant. They have an office in Moscow and do considerable business there. And the award is from a private entity, not the Russian government. So it may all be an innocent coincidence. But there have been an awful lot of those erupting around Trump & Co. Plus, the law firm’s website makes note of their specialties. Some of them seem especially well-suited to Trump’s organization, including real estate property transactions:

“Our Moscow office includes more than 40 lawyers and staff who have been working together for many years. Our lawyers are well known in the Russian market, and have deep familiarity with the local legislation, practices, and key players.” […]

“We are particularly adept at advising our clients about compliance and sanction matters.”

Well, that’s not suspicious at all, is it? For Trump to send this firm out to sweep away any unsavory speculation was astonishingly inept, at best. At worst it is evidence of his steel-trap embrace of all things Russian. And it makes it all the more imperative that he release all of his tax returns for himself and his businesses. Without access to that information all the American people have is the word of a severely compromised and untrustworthy charlatan.

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

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

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

Comey Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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