Trump Orders Fox News VP Hope Hicks to Break the Law By Withholding Docs From Congress

One of the most brazenly dishonest claims emanating from Donald Trump was expressed recently in this tweet saying that “there has NEVER been a President who has been more transparent.” Of course, the truth is that Trump has been extraordinarily resistant to allowing full and unfettered investigations into his activities as President, as a candidate, and as a private businessman.

Hope Hicks

Trump famously refused to grant special counsel Robert Mueller an interview. He declined to answer questions in written form. And most recently he decreed that he will fight any and all requests for information coming from Congress, and will oppose any attempts to subpoena documents or testimony. He has already seen to it that senior administration officials have put themselves in legal jeopardy by failing to comply with lawful subpoenas. They include White House counsel Don McGahn, Attorney General William Barr, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

However, now Trump has taken another unprecedented step into the realm of pure totalitarianism to which he clearly aspires. He sent a letter to former White House aides Annie Donaldson and Hope Hicks advising them to break the law as well by ignoring document subpoenas. These women are no longer in the employ of the President and their compliance is not covered by assertions of executive privilege. Donaldson was the deputy White House Counsel under McGahn. But Hicks, who served as Trump’s Communications Director, has a unique problem.

Hope Hicks is currently the Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for the Fox Corporation, which is the parent company of Fox News. That means that Trump is actually ordering an employee of Fox to disobey a congressional subpoena. Any other corporation would have a hard time justifying adherence to such a request. Particularly a news enterprise that is supposed to be independent of political associations.

The question of Fox’s political independence, of course, is a joke. There has never been a news enterprise more closely tied to an American president than Fox News is to Donald Trump. They were responsible for his election. And ever since they have showered him and his agenda with praise, while viciously attacking his critics. The top figures on the network (Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs, etc.) have appeared at his cult rallies and given him private advice on both politics and policy.

Nevertheless, it is troubling that Trump is in a position to bark orders at executives of Fox News. This surpasses the ethical depravity of his recent call for a boycott of AT&T in order to punish CNN. If Fox obeys Trump’s commands they are complicit in his efforts to cover up his crimes. What’s more, they are derelict in their duty to cover the news by endorsing the President’s attempts to suppress it. They are, in effect, making themselves accomplices to obstruction of justice.

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

Fox News has not commented on Trump’s illegal demands on Hicks to withhold information that Congress has constitutional authority to request. But they have previously defended Trump when he ordered former staffers to disobey subpoenas. So why would Fox change their opinion now? Well, for one thing, the others were not employed by Fox. Will that matter to a network whose political partisanship is so obvious? We’ll see. But don’t expect Fox News to the honorable thing. It’s not in their blood.

State TV (aka Fox News) Literally Scripts and Rehearses Interviews with Trump Associates

Okay, okay. Everybody already knows that Fox News is a fake network that was created only to promote conservative politicians and policies. And more recently it has become the wholly owned subsidiary of Donald Trump’s White House. There is a revolving door between the network and the presidency, with personnel being shared by both and with a common purpose to advance the interests and propaganda of Trump. We know.

Donald Trump Fox News

Nevertheless, new revelations that shock and disgust continue to come forward. The latest is a scoop by the Daily Beast who acquired some damning emails between Trump’s disgraced former Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, and producers for Trump’s favorite Fox News program, Fox and Friends. The Daily Beast reveals that:

“In past interviews with President Trump’s favorite cable-news show, the then-EPA chief’s team chose the topics for interviews, and knew the questions in advance.

“In one instance, according to emails revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Sierra Club and reviewed by The Daily Beast, Pruitt’s team even approved part of the show’s script. […]

“In multiple interviews on Fox & Friends, Pruitt was essentially allowed to dictate the terms for the interview and avoid any difficult questions.”

The Daily Beast posts copies of the emails that explicitly reveal how Fox News bent over backwards for Trump’s surrogates. Even to the point of asking them to approve the setups used to introduce them. This, of course, is in addition to the regular Trump-fluffing that occurs on Fox News throughout the day. The network is, after all, tightly integrated with Trump’s White House. Trump’s former Director of Communications, Hope Hicks, is the current Fox News executive vice-president and chief communications officer. And Trump’s current Deputy Chief of Staff is the former president of Fox News and Hannity producer, Bill Shine, who was fired for covering up sexual misconduct by Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. And it was recently discovered that Shine is still on the Fox payroll, so he’s being paid by both the White House (i.e. taxpayers) and Fox News simultaneously.

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

The Daily Beast contacted Fox about the Pruitt matter and they issued a vague statement saying that “This is not standard practice whatsoever and the matter is being addressed internally with those involved.” So you can rest assured that the proper disciplinary measures will be taken. After all, when Sean Hannity and other Fox News personalities were caught campaigning for Trump and other Republicans, they were slapped on the wrist and told to stop. And then Hannity and Jeanine Pirro showed up at a recent Trump cult rally anyway. This is business as usual for Fox News and it isn’t going to change.

Will Trump’s U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley Follow Hope Hicks to Fox News?

Tuesday morning Donald Trump announced that another member of his administration is fleeing the debacle he’s created. Nikki Haley has been Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations from the beginning. Her role has been overshadowed by Trump’s beligerrant bullying tactics and bullheaded diplomacy. But she was a staunch supporter of the President no matter how horribly he behaved.

Nikki Haley

There will be plenty of speculation about what Haley will do now that she’s deserting this sinking ship. She ruled out running for president during the resignation announcement in the Oval Office, but – and I don’t want to shock you – politicians lie. She promised to campaign for Trump in 2020. There is also talk that Lindsey Graham will replace Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and Haley will get an appointment to his seat as South Carolina senator.

However, there is one career option that cannot be ignored, even if it doesn’t seem particularly likely. Her colleague Hope Hicks just took a job at Fox News, like many other former Trump staffers. And Haley may go the same route. She has been a frequent guest on the State TV network and gets along well with the Trump-fluffers there.

During a recent interview she made some ludicrous excuses for why Trump was laughed at when he spoke at the U.N. last month. Trump insisted that he intended to get a laugh when he talked about how much he’s done as President. Which is peculiar since his reaction in real time was that “I didn’t expect that response.” According to Haley, though, the reason they laughed was because “they loved how honest he is” and that “They love to be with him.” Now that’s the kind of delusional spin that makes for a great Fox News pundit or program host.

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

Speculation will also rise about who will replace Haley at the U.N. Some early possibilities include Trump’s current National Security Advisor (and former U.N. ambassador under George W. Bush) John Bolton, and current ambassador to Germany (and former Fox News contributor) Richard Grenell. Grenell also served as the spokesman for the U.S. delegation at the United Nations. But the most hysterical candidates include both Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. Sadly, in the Era of Trump, being hysterical doesn’t disqualify you from consideration.

The Trump/Fox News Revolving Door Spins Again as Hope Hicks Takes PR Post at State TV

For the past two years there has been an unprecedented embrace between a media organization and the presidency. Donald Trump’s close association with Fox News began well before his election in 2016, when he had a regular segment on Fox and Friends called “Mondays with Trump.” And throughout his occupation of the White House that relationship has only grown stronger.

Hope Hicks

On Monday morning it was announced that Trump’s former communications director, and official Trump Whisperer, Hope Hicks, was appointed the executive vice-president and chief communications officer for the new Fox, the remnants of the conglomerate that weren’t sold off to Disney earlier this year. It includes Fox News and Fox Business, two cable “news” networks that are conspicuously friendly to Trump and the Republican Party.

Hicks role at Fox won’t be especially different from her role at the White House. She will continue to promote Trump and the agenda of the ultra-rightist GOP along with her new colleagues at Fox. Those new colleagues include former Trump staffers Sebastian Gorka, Anthony Scaramucci, and Sean Spicer. However, they are all on-air contributors, while Hicks will be a top executive. And her appointment comes just as Fox News and the President are gearing up for the presidential election in 2020.

Of course, revolving doors spin all the way around. And it isn’t coincidental that many Fox Newsers have made the switch to the Trump White House. They include National Security advisor John Bolton, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, and Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow. Even Fox’s former president, Bill Shine, is now working for Trump as his Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications. In a less official capacity are Trump’s “Shadow Cabinet” consisting of Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs, and the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends. So the marriage of Fox News and the Trump administration is now sealed and consecrated before Rupert Murdoch.

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

Just prior to her resignation from the White House, Hicks testified before a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. She admitted to telling “white lies” for Trump. In her new position her ability to lie will be unfettered by even the lax standards imposed by Trump’s White House. So going forward we can expect a new rainbow of lies that are consistent with the total absence of standards at Fox News.

Trump Picks His Former Caddy to Replace Hope Hicks as White House Communications Director

Donald Trump’s lack of any political experience or intelligence has manifested itself in a multitude of ways. Most troubling are those wherein he implements policies that are overtly idiotic and harmful. But he also demonstrates his inability to govern by his appointments to critical White House and cabinet positions. These include his daughter Ivanka, her husband Jared, Ben Carson, Rick Perry, Scott Pruitt, etc.

Dan Scavino

Now CNN is reporting that Trump has found a replacement for his departing White House Communications Director Hope Hicks. And he has managed to select another person who completely lacks the requisite skills and experience to do the job. According to CNN Trump has answered the question of Hicks’ successor:

“The answer, at least in some capacity, will be Dan Scavino, the social media director who this week moved into the minuscule office a pace or two from Trump’s desk that Hicks spent the last week packing up. Described by aides as Trump’s “mini me,” who can channel his moods and voice as few others can, Scavino is the last remaining staffer from the launch of Trump’s presidential campaign still posted by the President’s side.”

Scavino is presently Trump’s Director of Social Media, a post where he was responsible for the President’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. In other words, his most trusted and important confidant. But he doesn’t have any experience with managing the press or developing the strategic media operations of a large enterprise.

This promotion may cheer Scavino up after the announcement yesterday that his wife has filed for divorce. But his personal problems will not likely be separated from his official duties. As Director of Social Media, Scavino was the identified as the person responsible for an anti-Semitic tweet that put Hillary Clinton inside a Jewish Star of David and called her corrupt. On another occasion he was reprimanded for violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits electioneering by White House staffers.

But Scavino isn’t even very good at the job he has now. Being in charge of Trump’s Twitter account he shouldn’t be posting tweets that are flagrantly false (or considering who he works for, maybe he should). Such as the time he posted a video that he said was of the Miami International Airport during Hurricane Irma (it wasn’t). Or the posting that was supposed to be of a collapsing building in the Caribbean (it was in Tibet). Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly cited Scavino as a reason she received death threats during the campaign. And even though Scavino often advances conspiracy theories from sites like Alex Jones’ InfoWorld, he is still the person most retweeted by the President.

This is just the latest incompetent to get a big promotion from Trump. Earlier this week the President nominated his personal White House physician, Ronny Jackson, to be the Secretary of the Veterans Administration. Putting people like Jackson and Scavino in charge of agencies like the VA or the White House communications Office is like making a PC tech the CEO of IBM. Even a good PC tech cannot possibly do that job. But that’s what we’ve come to in the Era of Trump. He doesn’t actually know anyone with the requisite credentials to conduct the complex work of government. So he installs his friends and family from whom he can expect blind loyalty. And the nation is going to suffer as a result.

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

Larry Kudlow is the Latest Contestant on Trump’s Reality TV Game Show Presidency

The mayhem at the White House is continuing as Donald Trump’s behavior gets ever more frantic and irrational. in the past few hours he has fired his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the State Department’s top diplomacy aide, Steve Goldstein, and his personal assistant, John McEntee. There are rumblings from insiders that Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Veterans Administration director David Shulkin are also on the chopping block.

Fox News Trump Apprentice

As these vacancies open up, Trump will have the opportunity to name new appointees that will be better supplicants to his will. That has already played out with his nomination of current CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson. And the news on Wednesday is that Trump has picked CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow to succeed the fired Gary Cohn as his chief economic advisor.

By selecting Kudlow, Trump is continuing a pattern of bringing television personalities into his administration. Mostly they have been from Fox News and include K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, Sebastian Gorka, Richard Grennell, and Jonathan Wachtel. Former Fox and Friends co-host, Heather Nauert, was also tapped by Trump to be the State Department spokesperson last year. And now she has already been promoted to replace Goldstein. Her entire career has been with Fox News and she has no diplomatic experience whatsoever.

The departure of Trump’s communications director, Hope Hicks, last month has set off a flurry of speculation as to who would fill her shoes. Among those being considered is Fox News co-host of The Five, Kimberly Guilfoyle. She has been on deck for a Trump slot for quite a while. And another Fox and Friends host, Pete Hegseth, is reportedly being wooed to lead the Veterans Administration should Shulkin get tossed. Prior to joining Fox, Hegseth headed up a Koch brothers front group that pretended to advocate for veterans. But he has zero experience running a massive bureaucracy like the VA, nor has he ever worked in the health services field that comprises much of what the VA does.

Trump’s National Security Advisor, McMaster, is also teetering on the brink. His successor is rumored to be another Fox News contributor, John Bolton. He served in George Bush’s state department and as Ambassador to the United Nations. Consequently Bolton played a major role in the fabricated weapons of mass destruction excuses to invade Iraq, as well as in the disastrous administration of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obviously Trump is most comfortable working with TV personalities. It seems like his entire pool of possible job applicants come from the ranks of people he’s seen on Fox or other programs. His experience is so bereft of substance that he can’t possibly know anyone that has actual credentials in the jobs he needs to fill. And he wouldn’t want them anyway because they might not be photogenic. As a result, America will be burdened with shallow, unqualified amateurs running government agencies whose work affects us all. But at least they’ll look good when they sit down for softball interviews with Sean Hannity.

This is what Fox’s Laura Ingraham considers Trump “hitting his stride,” and “getting a really strong team in place.” And coincidentally, that’s exactly how Trump sees it. On Tuesday he explained to reporters that these White House shake-ups were just the normal fine tuning of personnel. “I’m really at a point,” he said, “where we’re getting very close to having the Cabinet, and other things, that I want.” That’s after a year in office where all of his original appointments were also his choices, but apparently not what he wanted. Ironically, not having the leadership one wants is something most Americans can relate to right now.

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

Who Will Trump Choose to Replace Hope Hicks? (Hint: Is He Watching Fox News?)

Another day, another White House staffer falls out of the sinking ship. This time it’s one of Donald Trump’s most loyal and longest serving aides, communications director Hope Hicks. The camera shy press liaison is reported to be leaving within the coming weeks. And I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that yesterday she admitted at a congressional inquiry that she has been telling “white lies” as a part of her official duties.

Hope Hicks

That’s probably the problem. Hicks was telling only white lies when the President had warned her to stick to only the darkest of all possible lies. He gave her plenty of examples via his own behavior to make it clear what was expected of her. Obviously, she wasn’t able to cut it. Although she had her moments. Like when she helped to draft the false excuse for why Don Jr. was meeting with Russians. Or when she wrote the press release defending her boyfriend, Rob Porter, after he was revealed to be a wife-beater.

Trump will not likely make the same mistake again. He has a strong track record of hiring brazen liars to staff his White House operation. Champion fabricators like Sean Spicer, Anthony Scaramucci, and the current mistress of propaganda, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, have distinguished this president’s press office.

So who will Trump turn to to fill this critical post? It will have to be someone who doesn’t care about having a good reputation with the public or the media. In fact, the more hate for the media the better. After all, Trump regards the press as the enemy of the American people.” The Hicks successor will need to be able to lie on camera, even when it’s painfully obvious that they are lying. He or she should have a relationship with other professional prevaricators like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.

However, it isn’t necessary that the communications director candidate have any actual experience in communications. Trump prefers people who have little or no idea what they are doing. Probably to assure that they know less than he does (admittedly, a low bar). And in the end, he wouldn’t really trust anyone other than himself. An article in the Associated Press noted that Trump “increasingly sees himself as the White House’s only effective spokesperson.”

Given the criteria for filling this job, only one source for human resources comes to mind. Trump will have to poach another staffer from the pool of Trump-fluffers at Fox News. The Fox studio is a rich vein of inexperienced, dishonest, shameless, butt-kissers. It’s a vein Trump has tapped many times before for aides including K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, Sebastion Gorka, Heather Nauert, Richard Grennell, and Jonathan Wachtel.

There are two names at Fox that stand out as potential White House flacks. Laura Ingraham would slide right into the role with her smug arrogance and jaunty know-it-allism. But having just secured a primetime show on Fox, Ingraham may be reluctant to bail. She may also be locked into a long-term contract.

That leaves Kimberly Guilfoyle. She has been on deck for a Trump slot for quite a while. Last year Trump insiders were telling the media that he “wants Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle to take [Sean Spicer’s] place.” She is currently a co-host of Fox’s right-wing gab-fest, The Five. She has never been a journalist and has no experience in press relations. So she has those assets going for her. Trump may also appreciate Guilfoyle’s admiration for Vladimir Putin, who she thought would be a better president than Barack Obama.

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

There are a few other names that could be thrown into the pot. Ainsley Earhardt of Trump’s favorite Fox News program, Fox and Friends. Evening Anchor Martha MacCallum could bring back some blondness to the gig. Or maybe, in a bid for the millennial audience, Tomi Lahren’s juvenile outbursts could be just the right spice for Trump’s media taco bowl. Only time will tell. And there’s no hurry since Hicks will still be around for a few weeks, or until she has to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller.