Mulvaney Admits Trump’s Quid Pro Quo: ‘We Do That All the Time – Get Over It’

For the past several weeks Donald Trump has been adamantly denying that there was any quid pro quo in his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Nevermind that the whistleblower’s complaint said there was, and that Trump’s “transcript” (executive summary) of the phone call corroborated that account. Trump insisted that the phone call was “prefect,” which is a bizarre way to describe it, as if it were being graded for criminal content.

Trump Penthouse Phone

On Thursday morning, though, Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, held a press conference to announce the astonishing decision by Trump to host the 2020 G7 summit meeting at his own Doral Miami golf resort. Even a Fox News political editor was shocked by this shameless and purposeful grifting. But more to the point, Mulvaney turned Trump’s denials of a quid pro quo on their head. Mulvaney was asked explicitly whether U.S. foreign aid was withheld from Ukraine pending their agreement to dig up dirt on Trump’s political opponents. And in a roundabout way he confessed that it was. That resulted in this exchange with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent, Jonathan Karl (video below):

Karl: To be clear, what you described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happens as well.”
Mulvaney: “We do that all the time with foreign policy.” […]
Mulvaney: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.

So there you have it. An outright admission that the Trump White House uses its power to extort foreign leaders in order to get them to perform purely political favors. And not only did Mulvaney admit it, he volunteered that they “do that all the time.” Mulvaney then tried to use another incident when funds were similarly withheld to justify the Ukraine affair. However, he noted that in that case the U.S. demands involved immigration issues, which can reasonably be argued are in our national interest.

The problem with Trump’s extortion of Ukraine was that the demands involved a smear campaign on one of his political opponents. That is most definitely not in the national interest. That’s strictly a personal interest of Trump’s and a violation of every ethical tenet of diplomacy. It’s also a violation of the law. And it does not – or should not – happen all the time.

With regard to the “server” mentioned in this exchange, it’s a reference to a Democratic National Committee computer that was hacked by Russians. Trump has adopted a ludicrous conspiracy theory that claims the server contains some incriminating secrets and was spirited away to Ukraine. Of course, there is no evidence of anything remotely resembling that nonsense. But it seems like Mulvaney was willing to grab onto it in order to avoid the more damaging allegation that Trump was seeking dirt on Joe Biden. In fact, that may be the real motive here.

It will be interesting to hear Trump’s response to this admission of a quid pro quo after all his ranting. Although he is so brazen in his dishonesty he might just continue to deny it. Or he could say Mulvaney never said this. Or, in pinch, he’ll claim that he doesn’t know Mulvaney at all, he was just a coffee boy.

UPDATE: Later in the day Mulvaney walked back his remarks and now says that he never said there was a quid pro quo. Of course, he DID say it, and it’s on video. If he wants to say he misspoke and offer a correction, that’s fine. But he can’t say he didn’t say it.

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

How Does VP Mike Pence Respond to Conclusive Evidence of Trump’s Lies? With Even More Lying!

On Tuesday evening Donald Trump will deliver his very first Oval Office address to the American people. And the critical subject matter that necessitates this extraordinary and urgent communication just happens to be a “humanitarian and national security crisis” that is being fabricated from thin air by Trump and his team of propaganda fabulists.

Mike Pence, Donald Trump

There is no credible evidence of a crisis at the southern border. By every metric that is measurable, undocumented immigration, drug trafficking, gang members, violent crime, etc., the incidence of illegal activity has been steadily declining for several years. But since Trump is badly losing the PR war for his idiotic and useless vanity wall, he has decided to take his case directly to the public. Which is a pretty terrible idea considering his historically low approval and the fact that he’s regarded by most Americans as untrustworthy. Even less trustworthy than the media that he despises.

Just who does Trump think he will convince that a wall that is decidedly unpopular, and the equally out of favor government shutdown he engineered to force Congress to pay for it, is really a great idea that everyone should embrace? If Trump thinks that his innate (albeit imaginary) charm will win over converts, he is going to be wallowing in a deep trench of disappointment.

Consequently, The administration sent their secret charisma weapon, Vice-President Mike Pence, out to save the day for Trump and company. He was interviewed by Jonathan Karl of ABC News. And one question in particular really hit the sweet spot for determining whether Trump’s TV ploy can succeed or not (video below):

Karl: How can the President’s word be trusted on this when he has said so many things that are just not true about this crisis? He said that Barack Obama had a ten foot wall built around his house here in Washington. You know that isn’t true. He said that some of his predecessors told him that they wanted to build a wall. But all four living presidents have now put out statements saying that they never had any such conversation with the President. And then you saw Sarah Sanders say that nearly 4,000 terrorists come into the country every year, and that’s not true either.

How can the American people trust the President when he says this is a crisis when he says things over and over again that aren’t true?

Pence: Well, the American people aren’t as concerned about the political debate as they are concerned about what’s really happening at the border. And that’s what the President’s been focusing on.

So Pence is spinning Trump’s flagrant dishonesty as “political debate”? This tells you something about how Republicans regard politics. And the absurdity of his contention that nobody cares about Trump lying is evident in Trump’s dismal approval polling.

When Karl tried to press Pence on the credibility question again, Pence launched into his robo-lie that 4,000 “known or suspected terrorists” were apprehended, still falsely implying that the southern border was their point of origin. Then he continued on auto-pilot with assertions about drugs pouring into the country, being deliberately deceitful about the fact that the vast majority come in by air or through valid checkpoints. And at this point you might be wondering what any of this have to do with the question about Trump’s lying? But finally, Pence painted Trump’s pathological fibs as simply his “passion” to “protect the American people”:

Pence: “The passion you hear from President Trump, his determination to take this to American people, as he will tonight in his national broadcast from the oval office, comes from his deep desire to do his job to protect the American people. And we’re gonna continue to carry that case forward until the Democrats in Congress come to the table and start negotiating. Not just to end the government shutdown, but to address what is an undeniable crisis at out southern border.”

It’s cute how Pence tries to evade the topic by shifting to a “blame the Democrats” posture, despite Trump being the immovable object who refuses to compromise, or even agree to the legislation that he previously agreed to. But Pence’s assertion of “an undeniable crisis” is especially ridiculous. That’s going to be a tough sell considering that even people like Fox News senior judicial analyst, Andrew Napolitan, denies it. He also denies that Trump has any legal right to move forward with his wall by declaring a national emergency. When his Fox colleague Maria Bartiromo asked this directly, Napolitano told her that:

“In a word, no. That’s not me saying no, because the Supreme Court said no when Harry Truman attempted to do that. […] the Supreme Court has made it very clear, even in times of emergency, the president of the United States of America cannot spend money unless it has been authorized by the Congress.”

None of this will prevent the circus that is going to unfold tonight for Trump’s Oval Office Reality TV episode. And his likely incoherent, lie-riddled speech won’t change the mind of a single viewer. Except for those who are finally disgusted enough by his ignorance and dishonesty and refuse to be further exploited by it. For Trump, this clown show is a lose-lose.

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

BE AFRAID: Trump Admin is ‘Looking At’ Amending or Abolishing the First Amendment

The not-so-subtle inclination of Donald Trump toward totalitarian rule has been apparent for some time. He has repeatedly expressed his admiration for strongman dictators like Erdogan, Jong-Un, Hussein, and Vladimir Putin. What’s more, the alleged “dealmaker” is nakedly hostile to compromise or to accommodating opinions that differ from his own. It’s either conform to Trumpism or be denigrated as a lying, crooked, enemy of America.

Reince Priebus

In an interview Sunday, Trump’s Chief-of-Staff, Reince Priebus, affirmed the authoritarian aspirations of this president. ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl asked Priebus about Trump’s prior statements concerning punishing or restricting the press when he doesn’t like what they say about him. That question led to this ominous exchange (video below):

KARL: I want to ask you about two things the President has said on related issues. First of all, there was what he said about opening up the libel laws. Tweeting “the failing New York Times has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change the libel laws?” That would require, as I understand it, a constitutional amendment. Is he really going to pursue that? Is that something he wants to pursue?

PRIEBUS: I think it’s something that we’ve looked at. How that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story. But when you have articles out there that have no basis or fact and we’re sitting here on 24/7 cable companies writing stories about constant contacts with Russia and all these other matters . . .

KARL: So you think the President should be able to sue the New York Times for stories he doesn’t like?

PRIEBUS: Here’s what I think. I think that newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news. I am so tired . . .

KARL: I don’t think anybody would disagree with that. It’s about whether or not the President should have a right to sue them.

PRIEBUS: And I already answered the question. I said this is something that is being looked at. But it’s something that as far as how it gets executed, where we go with it, that’s another issue.

Priebus could not have been more clear. The President is actively considering changes to the Constitution that would put the free press at risk. The changes he is considering would permit retaliation from hostile government officials seeking revenge for unfavorable coverage. Even short of litigation, such a move would have a chilling effect on journalists.

Trump has openly expressed his animosity toward the press. He calls them sleazy, liars, and “fake news” (although apparently without any understanding of what that phrase means). During the campaign he corralled them in pens and revoked the credentials of those he felt were not sufficiently adoring. His comments have even put some of them at risk for physical harm.

Trump’s consolidation of control goes beyond just the media. This weekend he also complained about the processes in Congress that interfere with him getting his way. “The rules of the Senate,” he said, “in some of the things you have to go through, it’s really a bad thing for the country in my opinion. They’re archaic rules.” In other words, he is opposed to the sort of democratic form of government wherein the people’s representatives work together to shape a consensus on legislation. He prefers dictating his demands and having everyone comply unquestioningly.

The purpose of these assaults on the Constitution is to delegitimize any criticism or opposition, no matter how appropriate. Trump wants only positive stories about him and his administration. And he will not tolerate anyone exposing his frequent mistakes, misstatements and lies. For that reason, every American should be wary of Trump’s efforts to silence the press. And particularly any attempt to codify such censorship into law or Constitutional amendments.

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

Watch In Disbelief As ABC News Paints Homophobe Donald Trump As Pro-Gay

The debate over the causes of the Orlando massacre last week have run the gamut from radical Islamic terrorism, to the availability of military-style assault weapons, to violent homophobic extremism. The reality from the available facts is that there are elements of all three contributing to the madness of the shooter. But the media isn’t helping matters when they introduce absurdities into their analysis that blatantly contradict the truth.

Donald Trump

Yesterday on ABC News (video below), their Chief White House Correspondent, Jonathan Karl, promoted Donald Trump’s delusional pronouncement that “LGBT is starting to like Donald Trump very much lately. I will tell you.” Neither Trump nor Karl offered any evidence of that, and polling shows that Trump has a dismal favorability rating with LGBT people of only 18 percent. By contrast, Hillary Clinton is viewed favorably by 54 percent of the LGBT community.

Nevertheless, Karl continued to hype Trump’s stumping on the issue by running clips of Trump criticizing Clinton for accepting donations to the charitable Clinton Foundation from Saudi Arabia or other countries with poor records on human rights for gays and women. But both Trump and Karl neglected to put that claim in context by disclosing that Trump has many business relationships with people and businesses in the same countries that are not charitable in the least, but from which he will personally profit.

Karl closes the segment with a conclusion that can only be described as deranged. He said that…

“When it comes to gay rights, it’s Hillary Clinton who supports gay marriage, not Donald Trump. But even so, there is little doubt, David, that Trump is the most pro gay rights Republican presidential candidate that we have ever seen.”

WTF? Donald Trump cannot be portrayed as pro-gay rights by any stretch of the imagination. He has a long history of insulting remarks and hostile positions aimed at the LGBT community. He has publicly committed to appointing Supreme Court Justices who would overturn marriage equality. He has promised to sign the First Amendment Defense Act, which codifies discrimination against gays in commerce, employment, and housing. He meets with, and panders to, anti-gay hate groups like the Family Research Council. His solicitous embrace of anti-gay, evangelical extremists has been a core strategy of his campaign.

Karl might have been on firmer ground if he had merely suggested that Trump was less anti-gay than other Republicans who blame them for natural disasters and advocate stoning them to death. But only slightly firmer since many of Trump’s friends and allies (i.e. Jerry Falwell, Jr., Tony Perkins, and Alex Jones) proudly hold those views. But to put the words “pro” and “gay” in the same sentence as “Donald Trump” is a deliberate bastardization of the political reality that defines him. It is also a breach of journalistic principles that require adherence to honest representations of news events and figures.

Donald Trump’s cynical play for support from people whom he openly seeks to harm is a sinkhole of lies that no one should be so naive as to fall into. And it’s particularly reprehensible that he is using the tragedy in Orlando to fish for votes among people still in shock over what happened. Karl’s reporting on Trump only makes things worse by his failure to live up to his professional obligation to inform the public with facts and reason and coherent analysis. Karl failed miserably on all three counts.

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

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Tweets That Are Not By The President Are Not By The President

It takes a remarkably obstinate personality to insist on a position even after acknowledging that the position is false. But that’s precisely what the editors at Fox Nation did when they reported on an exchange between Jonathan Karl of ABC News and Josh Earnest, the White House Press Secretary.

Fox Nation vs. Reality

For more blatant lies from the Fox Nationalists…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

At yesterday’s daily press briefing, Karl sought to determine whether President Obama was responsible for, or aware of, a tweet that was posted by Organizing for America [OFA], a political enterprise that was spun off of the Obama campaign for the presidency. In his preface to the question he appeared to already know the answer, but persisted with his contrived query anyway.

Karl: The President’s tweets – those tweets that go out @BarackObama – I understand those that aren’t signed “BO” aren’t directly written by him. Does he even read the others, does he know they’re going out? Are they reviewed by senior people at the White House or is that just simply OFA doing something on his behalf?
Earnest: The @BarackObama Twitter handle is maintained by OFA. That is the political organization that was the offshoot of the campaign, and that is a Twitter handle that is maintained independent of the White House.

That’s about as clear as it can be said. OFA is an independent operation that is not run through the White House. Neither the President, nor his staff, is responsible for what it posts, unless explicitly signed by the President. Yet somehow the editors at Fox Nation plastered a headline atop this story that falsely states “White House Not Sure If Obama Aware of His Own Tweets.”

The severity of the cognitive disconnect here is magnified by the fact that the video they themselves attached to the story contradicts their own headline. So how can they post a video that declares in absolute terms that these are not the President’s tweets, and still call them his tweets in bold type? Simple. They’re shameless liars. What’s more, the source for the story is the disreputable, GOP-run, Koch brothers affiliated, phony news service, the Washington Free Beacon. They are a brazenly biased organization for whom spreading lies is an integral part of their mission. With deception and disinformation being such an important facet of these operations, you would think that they would be better at it.

The article went on to further discuss the content of the tweet despite having already established that the President had nothing to do with it. In the process, the White House was able to reinforce their position in opposition to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case that elevated the rights of a corporation’s religious beliefs over those of the human beings who work for the corporation.

Karl: The tweet I’m gonna ask you about is after the Hobby Lobby decision, it’s a “Throwback Thursday” tweet: “Throwback to last week when a woman—not her boss—made her own decisions about her health care.” Does the president believe that because of the Hobby Lobby decision, women are not allowed to make their own decisions about their health care unless they consult with their boss?
Earnest: That is certainly true of women in some cases, and that’s the concern that this administration has. That the consequence of the Supreme Court ruling is that it will allow bosses to interfere with what the President believes should be the freedom any woman has to make her own decisions about her health care.

While Earnest handily disposed of the clumsy and argumentative question by a reporter who has repeatedly demonstrated his political prejudices, the truly pathetic part of this is the manner in which it was framed by the Fox Nationalists and their pals at the Free Beacon. These folks should try to comprehend the stories they cover before making fools of themselves by authoring articles that are contradicted by the story’s content.