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.”


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.

Trump Makes a Big Mistake By Insulting Stephen Colbert. Gets Smacked Right in the Truthiness

What is it about spoiled narcissists that makes them think they can out-snark professional comedians? On Thursday Donald Trump took time off from his Twitter tantrums to attack Stephen Colbert. Never mind that his presidency is up to its neck in criminal investigations and scandal. Or that serious issues like North Korea, healthcare, tax reform, terrorism, and climate change are pending. A comedian said something that Trump didn’t like and, dammit, that required the immediate attention of the President.

Stephen Colbert & Trump Baby

So Trump sprung into action with a forthright declaration of principle. It is certain to go down in history with Churchill’s “blood, sweat, and tears,” and Kennedy’s “ask what you can do for your country.” Trump mustered up all his rhetorical prowess to tell Time Magazine that:

“You see a no-talent guy like Colbert. There’s nothing funny about what he says. And what he says is filthy. And you have kids watching. And it only builds up my base. It only helps me, people like him.”

Where to begin? Colbert’s millions of fans might disagree with Trump’s assessment of him as a “no-talent guy”. And it appears that the only people who don’t think he’s funny are Trump and his cadre of glassy-eyed disciples. And if Trump really believes that people like Colbert are helping him, then why is he complaining? Shouldn’t he be encouraging more of what Colbert does so that he can get more of the benefit from it.

As for the filthiness of Colbert’s material, that complaint is cute coming from the pussy-grabber-in-chief. Not to mention that Trump is notorious for his own affinity for profanity. Who can forget when he told American business that they could “go f*ck themselves”? Or when he promised to “bomb the sh*t” out of ISIS? He wasn’t deterred by the fact that there were children in the audience.

Speaking of which, what kind of parent is Trump? He seems to think that America’s children are awake at 11:30pm watching television? Just because he watches TV constantly and behaves like a child doesn’t mean that actual children are staying up to catch Colbert. Most parents don’t let their kids stay up that late. But then again, most kids don’t act so immaturely. To be fair, Trump has to watch TV a lot, especially Fox News. That’s where he gets all of his policy ideas from.

But if you think Trump was through, you don’t know Trump. He continued his rant to further disparage Colbert and, of course, to exalt himself:

“The guy was dying, by the way. They were going to take him off television. Then he started attacking me and he started doing better. But his show was dying. I’ve done his show. But when I did his show, which by the way was very highly rated. It was high – highest rating. The highest rating he’s ever had.”

Huh? Trump just made the argument that Colbert wasn’t successful until the show starting attacking him. That’s evidence that America’s TV viewers were just waiting for someone to bash Trump. And when Colbert began doing so they rewarded him by becoming loyal viewers. Is that really the point Trump wants to make?

As for Trump’s claims about the ratings, he is just adding to his many previous bouts with delusion. There weren’t thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11 in New Jersey. His inauguration didn’t have the largest attendance in history. And his appearance on The Late Show was not its highest rated show. In fact, as Colbert pointed out, a program with Jeb Bush as the featured guest rated higher. So did the premiere.

What all of this leads up to is Thursday night’s show where Colbert responded to Trump’s vacation from reality. And it was delicious. Colbert began by noting that Trump had addressed “the most important issue to him: this show.” Colbert’s reaction to being personally called out by the President was “YAY!” He regarded it as proof that he had won by finally getting Trump to say his name. And then he spoke directly to the President:

“Making jokes about you has been good for my ratings. It’s almost as if the majority of Americans didn’t want you to be president. […] You know who’s got really bad ratings these days? You do. Terrible approval numbers. I hear they’re thinking about switching your time slot with Mike Pence. And since all of my success is the result of talking about you, if you really want to take me down there’s an obvious way. Resign.”

Watch the segment here. But don’t laugh. He’s a no-talent guy who isn’t funny.

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.