Could Trump Be Prosecuted for Leaks Under New Department of Justice Directive?

The still nascent presidency of Donald Trump is rife with controversies and scandals. His financial conflicts of interests and unsavory connections to Russia have dominated his short tenure in office. Additionally, he has produced no legislative accomplishments. Most notably, the failure of his efforts to kill ObamaCare went down in flames. He has made no progress on immigration, taxes, terrorism, or his lame-brained border wall.

Rod Rosenstein Fox New

However, Trump regularly signals what issues are of most importance to him. And judging by the frequency of his tweets, it has little to do with matters critical to the nation. Rather, he is variously obsessed with either the media, last November’s election, or the torrent of White House leaks. Most experts agree that leaks occur when an organization is in disarray. But in Trump World it is blamed on a shadowy conspiracy of “deep state” saboteurs.

On yesterday’s edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (video below). Much of the segment specifically addressed the question of leaks and what the Justice Department intends to do about them. Wallace sought to follow up on remarks made last week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Those comments sparked some controversy for implying that journalists could be targeted for prosecution. Rosenstein walked that back a bit in the following exchange:

Wallace: Some of the people who engage in leaks, I don’t have to tell you, are not the members of the so-called ‘deep state’ or faceless bureaucrats inside intelligence agencies. They are White House officials. They are members of Congress. If you find any of them have committed these leaks – have disclosed classified information – will you prosecute?
Rosenstein: “What we need to look at in every leak referral we get, we look at the facts and circumstances. What was the potential harm caused by the leaks? What were the circumstances? That’s more important to us than who it is, than who is the leaker. So if we identify somebody, no matter what their position is, if they violated the law and that case warrants prosecution, we’ll prosecute them.
Wallace: Including White House officials and members of Congress?
Rosenstein: Including anybody who breaks the law.

If Rosenstein can be taken at his word, Donald Trump may be in even more trouble than previously thought. Leaks from any administration are made for a variety of reasons. It may be because someone is genuinely concerned about a course of action and has no other recourse to alter it. Sometimes a leaker is angling for position or acting out of vengeance. And sometimes leaks are deliberate attempts by the White House to disseminate information that it wants disseminated.

For example, Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s short-lived communications director, recently outed his boss as a leaker. During an interview on CNN, Scaramucci defended Trump’s reluctance to concede that the Russians were responsible for hacking during last year’s election. He even offered “evidence” by way of an anonymous insider:

“You know, somebody said to me yesterday — I won’t tell you who — that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it.”

That, of course, is grade AAA bullshit. Professional spies may be good at what they do, but they are not infallible. Scaramucci is suggesting that the Russians are so superior in their clandestine operations that their American counterparts are helpless yokels, incapable of facing off against the almighty Ruskies. But more important was what Scaramucci said next. After CNN’s Jake Tapper challenged Scaramucci’s hypocritical use of an anonymous source, the Mooch spilled the beans:

“How about it was – how about it was the President, Jake? I talked to him yesterday. He called me from Air Force One.”

So here we have a White House official admitting that the President was the source of a leak that disclosed inside information. Trump’s observations about the capabilities of Russian intelligence ought to be regarded as top secret. But this business was aired on national television at the behest of Donald Trump. On another occasion, Trump leaked classified data to Russian diplomats visiting the White House. This leak may have put intelligence assets of an ally at risk of discovery or termination.

Who knows what else the President might have leaked. Handing out information that advances the administration’s interest is an ago-old tactic. Dick Cheney did it to plant the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And Trump has his own media operation headquartered in the White House and led by Breitbart News chairman, Stephen Bannon. Remember, this is the same guy who used to call newspapers and pretend that he was a publicist working for, well, himself.

So if Trump is later found to be the source of leaks to the media, will the Department of Justice keep their word and prosecute him? That’s an open question for the time being. They have not been especially anxious to pursue criminal investigations of the President. And, of course, Trump remains poised to fire anyone he thinks is getting too close to the truth. In the end, it may only be possible to obtain justice with a truly independent counsel, or a Democratic congress. Stay tuned.

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

BENGHAZI? Watch Kellyanne Conway Resort to Classic Dodge to Avoid Defending Trump’s Lies

The guardians of Donald Trump’s floundering presidency are finding it ever more difficult carry out their task. They now have to deal with a special prosecutor ramping up investigations of the President. Grand juries are being impaneled in Washington, Virginia, and New York. And a flurry of new lies erupt from the White House every day. What’s a dedicated Trump shill supposed to do?

Kellyanne Conway

Well, Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week” we may have found out. Kellyanne Conway was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos about the blatant contradictions by Trump and company about their interactions with Russia. He summarized the situation and asked Conway for her explanation for the various accounts (video below):

“The White House and the President’s surrogates have told conflicting stories. First they said there no contacts with Russians. Then it turned out there were at least eighteen contacts. The story broke in the New York Times saying the President was involved in the drafting of his son Don, Jr.’s misleading response to that meeting he had with Russians during the campaign. And Jay Sekulow, the President’s attorney, came on GMA and told me the President was not involved.”

Stephanopoulos noted that the original statement and the one offered after the Times story were “very different answers in the space of two weeks.” But Conway’s response evaded the question to say that the meeting was of no consequence. She continues to deny the consequences of just agreeing to meet with Russian operatives to obtain campaign information. Even if nothing was obtained, the effort itself was an attempt at collusion. Conway added that Trump’s involvement in drafting Junior’s response was merely “weighing in as a father.” Of course. Every father has had that experience where they help their adult son to lie about meetings with America’s enemies.

Stephanopoulos persisted to challenge her on the shifting facts. He noted that the first statement was totally false and that the President and his lawyers “didn’t tell the truth.” To which Conway replied with a series of alleged falsehoods from the distant past. She raised the matter of whether or not people could keep their doctors under ObamaCare. And then she actually brought up Benghazi and tried to make that relevant to this discussion.

Let’s not get into a debate as to whether those were actually examples of untrue statements. The main point here is that Conway was utterly incapable of defending the lies from Trump’s White House. So reached into the past hoping to grasp a rhetorical lifeline. Stephanopoulos’ complaint that Conway was just changing the subject fell on deaf ears. When he asked if Trump could be truthful about the Russia investigations, Conway swerved to repeat Trump’s baseless assertion that the whole thing was fabricated.

By the end of the interview, Conway didn’t once respond directly to the charge that Trump and his surrogates lied. There are obvious differences between their initial accounts of the meetings and the facts that they later conceded. Plus, the false claim that Trump had nothing to do with Junior’s first statement remains unexplained. And Conway’s flagrant evasions only serve to highlight how overwhelmed she and her associates are.

They are quite simply out of answers. The tsunami of lies that flow from Trump have exhausted his defenders. And since they have emptied their arsenal of arguments, be prepared to hear more from yesteryear’s classics like Benghazi. And if they get desperate enough they might even revive Obama’s birth certificate and Monica Lewinski.

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

Trump Signs Bill Sanctioning Russia for Election Tampering that he Believes is a Hoax

For several months Donald Trump has been dismissing reports that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential campaign. He has had a variety of counter explanations for the documented cyberattacks. On some occasions he alleged that they were the work of China. On others he imagined that “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” had concocted the whole scheme.

Trump/Putin

The only party that he never exclusively held responsible was the one that was indisputably guilty: Russia. Every relevant intelligence agency concluded that Russia was behind the attacks and that they were certain to strike again. Former heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA, etc., unequivocally fingered Russia as the only culprit. And yet Trump ignored the analysis of the intelligence professionals in favor of his pals at Fox and Friends. He labeled the entire episode a hoax contrived by Democrats who were bitter at having lost.

On Wednesday morning, however, Trump signed a bill to impose sanctions on Russia for their involvement in the election tampering. The bill covers several matters on foreign policy that Congress acted on due to Trump’s opposition and/or neglect. According to NBC News:

“The bill sanctions Russia — citing its cyberhacking as well as aggression in Ukraine and Syria — while also slapping new sanctions on North Korea and Iran. But the legislation also makes it harder for the president to lift these sanctions unilaterally, requiring permission from Congress before waiving them.”

In effect, Trump’s signature puts into law that he is a liar. It directly contradicts his stubborn refusal to accept reality about the nature of Russia’s offenses. What’s more, the bill overtly prohibits him from altering the terms of the sanctions. Congress was so worried that Trump would ignore their legislation that they legally tied his hands. It was a smart move on their part given Trump’s creepy affinity for Vladimir Putin and aversion to criticizing him.

The bill passed in the Senate by an overwhelming vote of 98-2. Similarly, in the house it passed 419-3. Consequently, Trump knew that there was a veto-proof majority in Congress that would have made the bill law whatever his response. If he vetoed, or declined to sign, the bill it would have become law anyway. But he would be perceived as having aided and abetted Putin’s attack on American democracy. However, by signing it he accepts the premise that Russia did interfere with the election and deserves to be punished.

That dilemma resulted in Trump attaching a signing statement to the bill to express his objections. But that only exacerbated the hypocrisy. Seven times he asserted that the bill’s provisions were “clearly unconstitutional.” How can a president, sworn to uphold the Constitution, sign a bill that he believes violates it? That, by itself, is a breach of his oath of office. By way an explanation, Trump issued a separate statement saying that:

“Despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity. It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States.”

First of all, his notion of national unity is not a justification for violating the Constitution. And secondly, this bill does not represent America’s desire to improve relations with Russia. It represents the desire to penalize them for criminal activity. Trump must think that incarcerating Charles Manson was an attempt to get along with him better. It’s that sort of illogic that infects so much of Trump’s thinking. Including this closing thought in his statement:

“I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”

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

In fact, he built a company that suffered multiple bankruptcies, and whose value is unknowable because he refuses to release his tax returns. Trump’s prowess (or lack thereof) at deal making has been apparent in the first six months of his presidency that has produced zero achievements. And as for the reason he was elected, many people say it is was actually due to Russia’s interference. So there’s that.

Kellyanne Conway is TOTALLY Oblivious to the Crisis in Trump White House

The Sunday Morning news fest was particularly exciting this week. Much of it was consumed by Donald Trump’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci. He made the rounds to demonstrate that he’s a sufficiently sizable asshole to represent this president. What America learned, for the most part part, was that he “loves” Donald Trump, which he said repeatedly. Plus, he gushed about Trump’s near divine perfection as a communicator and a leader. Good work, Mooch.

Kellyanne Conway

However, no Sunday is complete without the screwball antics of White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway. She was interviewed by Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources. And she lived up to her low standards for honesty and rational discourse. The conversation focused on the many scandals that have dogged the White House. Conway was surprised at the very notion and refuted it fiercely. And in a shockingly candid appraisal of the President’s proclivity for bald-face lies, Conway served up a unique justification:

Stelter: The scandals are the President’s lies. About voter fraud. About wiretapping. His repeated lies about those issues. That’s the scandal.
Conway: He doesn’t think he’s lying about those issues, and you know it.

Stelter went easy on Conway. There are literally hundreds of other demonstrable falsehoods that Trump has shamelessly uttered. But Conway is adopting the “Costanza Principle,” famously introduced in an episode of Seinfeld. Jerry’s friend George was advising him on how to beat a lie detector test. “If you believe it,” said George, “then it’s not a lie.” And now that principle has been put to the test in the “real” world of Kellyanne’s “alternative facts.” Stelter pointed out that just because the President says something, even if he believes it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t still untrue. But that was a concept that would be over the head of any Trump advisor.

In the same interview, Stelter’s reference to the many scandals plaguing the Trump administration seemed to come as a surprise to Conway. That led to this exchange:

Stelter: This is a White House in crisis whether you recognize it or not.
Conway: Why? I work there. Where do you get that?

Conway’s oblivious response ignores the fact that Trump is under investigation by the FBI, the GOP-controlled Senate and House, and an independent counsel. She also appears not to have noticed that Trump’s attempts to kill ObamaCare have failed. Or that his border wall is still a wingnut fantasy. Or that his immigration policies are stalled. And nothing has been on done taxes or infrastructure, or terrorism. This is likely the least productive administration in decades, despite Trump’s ludicrous claims to the contrary.

What’s more, Trump has the worst approval ratings of any president in modern history. Conway had an explanation for that which made no sense whatsoever:

“Part of the disapproval are the independents who voted for him and want him to ignore all the nonsense, and all the noise, and all the Russia nonsense. That’s part of it. Part of it are people upset with Congress. The President’s approval rating is far higher than the approval rating of the media or the Congress, and there’s a reason for that.”

So Trump’s abysmal ratings are due to his own supporters giving him poor marks because they don’t like Congress? Yeah, that’s the ticket. As for Trump vs. the media, numerous polls have shown that, given a choice, majorities of voters trust the media more. That includes the “failing” New York Times and “fake” news CNN.

Conway was insistent that CNN and others were pushing the “phony” stories about Russia. She suggested that they should cover real stories instead. Then she gave as an example that “millions of Americans don’t have healthcare.” Which is an interesting choice since her boss is advocating a bill that would would take healthcare away from 32 million more Americans. And of course, that story has been covered extensively across the spectrum of media.

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

It’s morbidly entertaining to watch Trump’s staff and surrogates struggle to put his disastrous administration in a positive light. There are no plausible arguments that can make any of this sound less than catastrophic. Consequently, their efforts seem more and more absurd and desperate. You have to wonder what they think of themselves at the end of a day of this futile spinning. But then, since they work for Donald Trump, what could they think of themselves anyway.

How Deranged Are Trump Supporters? New Poll Shows That It’s Worse Than You Ever Imagined

In the Era of Trump, Americans have been been subjected to wild diversions from reality. Donald Trump and company have unleashed baseless accusations of “fake news,” and the ceaseless dissemination of “alternative facts.” They have violated constitutional protections of free speech and abused the media in an unprecedented manner. Trump called the media “the enemy of the American people.” And his White House Press Office has discontinued on-camera briefings.

Donald Trump

This overt hostility and flagrant assault on transparency has had an impact on a certain sector of the electorate. Trump voters have evolved into a breed of ill-informed, willfully ignorant yokels whose devotion to their Orange Julius Caesar borders on cult worship. This alarming descent into madness is frightfully illustrated in the results of a new survey by Public Policy Polling (PPP). The depth of the delirium of these lost souls is unimaginable. And yet, the data from the PPP pollsters is clear. Here are some examples from the study:

  • Only 45% of Trump voters believe Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting with Russians about information that might be harmful to Hillary Clinton…even though Trump Jr. admitted it. 32% say the meeting didn’t happen and 24% say they’re not sure.
  • 72% of Trump voters consider the Russia story overall to be ‘fake news,’ only 14% disagree.
  • Only 24% of Trump voters even want an investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, 64% are opposed to an investigation.
  • Only 26% of Trump voters admit that Russia wanted Trump to win the election, 44% claim Russia wanted Hillary Clinton to win, and 31% say they’re not sure one way or the other.
  • Even if there was an investigation, and it found that the Trump campaign did collude with Russia to aid his campaign, 77% of his supporters think he should still stay in office to just 16% who believe he should resign.

What manner of sickness is this? Less than half of the Trump disciples believe that Don, Jr. met with Russians despite his having confirmed it. Do they think he’s lying? More troubling though, is that more than three quarters of the StormTrumpers are comfortable with him serving as president even if he conspired with a foreign hostile enemy to steal the election.

Is there any line he can’t cross? Apparently not. Because the survey also asked a question referencing Trump’s campaign comment that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters. And 45% of Trump voters said they would still approve of him if he shot someone. This is Jonestown-level dementia. When people talk about “drinking the Kool-Aid,” they can’t get closer to that comparison than this.

As a final humiliation to the President, PPP asked respondents to indicate who they trusted more: Trump or various media organizations. Trump lost in every match up:

Voters say they trust NBC and ABC each more than him, 56/38. They say they trust CBS more than him 56/39. They say they trust the New York Times more than him 55/38. Voters say they trust CNN more than him 54/39. And they say they trust the Washington Post more than him 53/38.

Those are significant majorities that favor the “failing” New York Times and “fake news” CNN. Despite Trump’s relentless efforts to negatively brand his media adversaries, he has had no success in doing so. And his continued whining in the face of that rejection is pathetic.

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

However, his glassy-eyed followers will undoubtedly fall in line no matter what atrocities he commits. That’s a sad commentary on the state of the nation. It remains to be seen how they will eventually react when the hammer comes down on his criminality. They may just pretend not to have supported him in the first place. After all, the one thing we’ve learned about them is that they have an unlimited capacity for self-delusion.

Desperate Trump Tweet Accusing Hillary Clinton Proves He Doesn’t Know What ‘Illegal’ Means

As the walls continue to close in around the Donald Trump crime family, he’s resorting to ever more desperate outbursts. On his Sunday morning Twitter venting, the President let loose on several familiar topics. His act is getting so stale that it can be predicted with almost perfect certainty.

Hillary Clinton

Among the subjects gnawing at his ego today were his pitiful approval ratings that reached another new low. At thirty-six percent he is the most unpopular president in seventy years of polling. And yet, his comically rounded up tweet bragged that at “almost 40% [it] is not bad at this time.” That’s sort of true, it isn’t bad. It’s historically abysmal. And even as he sought to spin this poll as good news, he dismissed is it as “just about the most inaccurate poll around.” So in effect he’s saying “See how great I’m doing in this bullshit poll?”

Trump also took a perfunctory slap at the media, complaining about its “phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting.” The man who allowed Russia to influence our election also charged that the media was “DISTORTING DEMOCRACY” (his caps). Never mind that Trump happily boasts about his own unnamed sources when they serve his purpose.

Perhaps the most ludicrous tweet of the morning, though, was the one that dug deepest into his desperation and paranoia. It’s a comment that harkens back to the classic campaign chants of “Lock her up.” That was when Trump was accusing Hillary Clinton of heinous acts of criminality that were never supported by facts. Trump tweeted this morning that:

This explains so much. Perhaps we now know why the Trump family so frequently engages in unlawful behavior. They clearly don’t know what the word “illegal” means. For instance, there is nothing illegal about getting questions prior to a debate. In fact, a competent debate prep team probably anticipates the questions in advance anyway.

Nor is it illegal to delete your own personal emails. Despite the controversy surrounding this, no one has ever proved that Clinton deleted any government documents. And that’s after FBI investigators scoured her servers and recovered many of the deleted emails.

Both of these allegations were leveled by Trump in defense of his unscrupulous son, Don. Daddy Trump is attempting to argue that his son’s treasonous collusion with hostile Russian operatives should be excused because Clinton deleted some emails and might have cheated in a debate with Bernie Sanders. Trump is obviously still obsessed with Clinton and can’t stop thinking about her and her popular vote victory. What’s more, he’s blaming the “fake” news media even though the evidence of Junior’s crimes came from his own emails. How ironic.

You have to wonder what Trump is thinking when he posts these tweets. Does he believe that they will exonerate him and his skeevy family? Does he think that he’s persuading anyone other than his glassy-eyed disciples that they’re all innocent? Can’t he read all of the replies on Twitter that are overwhelming opposed to his whining commentaries?

Trump is a president who is not only notching new lows in public opinion, he is losing the battle on almost every front. The same poll that showed him at thirty-six percent approval has other bad news for him as well. It shows that sixty percent of Americans think Russia did try to influence the election outcome. It also shows that sixty-three percent believe that meeting with Russians during the campaign was inappropriate. Other polls show that his agenda is almost universally despised. America hates his healthcare plan, his border wall, and his immigration ban.

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

These are not split decisions. They are uncommonly large majorities that have concluded that Trump and his family are dishonest and untrustworthy. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the Republican Party recognizes the risk to their congressional dominance. That’s when they will start to turn on Trump in order to save their own political skins. And the good news is that they will almost certainly make that decision too late.

Trump’s State Department is Granting Hundreds of Visas for Russian Spies

Friday morning Donald Trump met with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. This is either their first meeting or their fifteenth, depending on which statement by Trump you choose to believe. In any case, according to the White House, Trump went into the meeting with no agenda. He told reporters that he was honored to meet Putin. That’s a pretty cavalier attitude toward encountering the man who everyone in the U.S. intelligence community says interfered with our election last year.

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

Trump obviously doesn’t care about the election hacking issue. He still insists that “nobody knows for sure” that the Russians were responsible. That opinion is not only dangerously misguided, it is an insult to America’s national security professionals. It also conveniently lets the guy who helped him get elected off the hook. However, it is not the only threat to which Trump is exposing the nation. CNN is reporting that Russian spies are pouring into the country courtesy of Trump’s State Department:

“Since the November election, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the US under the guise of other business, according to multiple current and former senior US intelligence officials. The Russians are believed to now have nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives in the US, these sources said. Officials who spoke to CNN say the Russians are replenishing their ranks after the US in December expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying in retaliation for election-meddling.”

Those 35 diplomats were expelled by President Obama in response to the Russian hacking. It was just one of the actions taken despite Trump having said that Obama had done nothing. But now that Trump’s team is in place they are readmitting suspicious characters. These are potential operatives who could ramp up election tampering activities for 2018 and 2020. And American intelligence officials are worried about just that:

“Fueling law enforcement officials’ concern is that the Russians are targeting people in the US who can provide access to classified information, in addition to ongoing efforts to hack the US government for intelligence, according to several of the officials. In some cases, Russian spies have tried to gain employment at places with sensitive information as part of their intelligence-gathering efforts, the sources say. But that hasn’t stopped the State Department from issuing the temporary duty visas.”

Reports coming out of Trump’s meeting with Putin indicate that he was less than eager to hold the Russian’s accountable. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the focus was on moving forward. That must have pleased Putin immensely. I’m sure he’d like to get on with his plans to hack future American elections. And now, thanks to Trump, he’ll have an army of spies in the country to help achieve his goals.

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

Modern Day Presidential? Trump Attacks American Institutions and Leaders While on Foreign Soil

Donald Trump’s first trip overseas last May was widely viewed as a diplomatic failure. When he wasn’t embarrassing the United States with his ignorance and bluster, he was insulting its closest allies. So the world is holding its collective breath as Trump once again ventures beyond the shores of America. And if his first day in Poland is any guide, this trip signals an even worse outcome.

Donald Trump

There is a long-held canon of international diplomacy meant to encourage national unity and continuity of purpose. It asserts that all domestic political quibbles and criticisms should end at the ocean’s edge. American leaders representing the country ought not to be bad-mouthing it on foreign soil. It’s a simple rule, and one that is easy and wise to follow. Unless, of course, you’re Donald Trump.

In his first stop, Trump held a joint press conference with Poland’s President Duda. [For the record, Trump has not held a solo press conference since February] The President took only two questions from American reporters. The first came from David Martosko of the Daily Mail. He asked about both North Korea and Trump’s WWE-themed tweet wherein he body-slammed a CNN character. Trump chose to respond to the CNN question at length, with an afterthought about North Korea. He said:

“I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them. As you know now, they have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They have been covering me in a very, very dishonest way. NBC is equally as bad, despite the fact that I made them a fortune with The Apprentice. But they forgot that”

So while standing next to one of Europe’s worst media suppressors, Trump bashed the American media and the concept of free press. It was an unprecedented assault by a traveling president. Trump seems to think that generating income for an entertainment division of a media company entitles him to positive coverage by the news division. But the larger problem is that his rhetoric can only encourage other countries to demean and dismiss their local journalists.

The next question came from Hallie Jackson of MSNBC. She asked if he would “once and for all, yes or no, definitively say that Russia interfered in the 2016 election?” He would not. Trump gave a rambling response that avoided directly acknowledging Russia’s complicity in the election tampering:

“Well, I think it was Russia, but it could’ve been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered. I’ve said it very simply. It could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries. I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere. I think it’s been happening for a long time. It’s been happening for many, many years.”

Jackson’s follow up asked Trump why he could not just agree with his intelligence agencies who have definitively identified Russia as the culprit. He proceeded to ramble some more:

“Let me just start off by saying, I heard it was seventeen agencies. I said, “boy, that’s a lot. Do we even have that many intelligence agencies?” Right? Let’s check it. And we did some heavy research. It turned out to be three or four. It wasn’t seventeen. […] With that being said, mistakes have been made, I agree. I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows for sure.”

And with that, Trump commenced maligning his own intelligence operations. He brought up the issue of weapons of mass destruction as an example of an intelligence failure. However, that was a failure of the Bush White House. The intelligence community did not support their WMD allegations.

What’s more, Trump’s assertion that seventeen agencies were not in agreement about Russia is just plain false. While only three agencies (the CIA, FBI, and NSA) were involved in making the assessment, none of the others dissented after the report was published. And by questioning whether there are seventeen agencies he is publicly exposing his ignorance of the intelligence community he is supposed to be leading. Trump’s dismissal of these agencies is another example of improperly criticizing the country while he’s abroad. What sort of confidence does that give to other countries when we ask for their support based on our intelligence?

Finally, in response to the questions about Russia’s election tampering, Trump felt the need for a diversion. He awkwardly shifted the conversation away from both himself and Russia with this nearly incoherent rant:

“Now the thing I have to mention is that Barack Obama, when he was president, found out about this – in terms of if it were Russia – found out about it in August. Now, the election was in November. That’s a lot of time. He did nothing about it. Why did he do nothing about it? He was told it was Russia by the CIA, as I understand it. it was well reported. And he did nothing about it. […] My big question is ‘Why did Obama do nothing about it from August all the way to November.'”

That’s his big question? Not what the hell is Russia doing interfering with our elections? First of all, Trump is once again wrong on the facts. President Obama took swift and decisive action when informed of the Russian hacking. He opened an investigation and encouraged state election officials to tighten their digital security. He was especially cautious before election day because he didn’t want to be seen as interfering with the election himself. And immediately following the election he imposed new sanctions, threw out 35 Russian officials, and closed down two diplomatic compounds.

So after bashing American media and intelligence, Trump has now moved on to American leaders. By showing such open disdain for the just-past president, Trump is giving permission for our allies and enemies to do the same for any national leader. They are now free to disregard the words and deeds of any representative of the United States, including Trump.

So much for leaving criticism at the ocean’s edge. Trump is demonstrating that he is incapable of behaving appropriately as president. He is more worried about defending his fragile ego than he is about serving the interests of the nation. His lack of diplomatic skills is likely to produce some unwanted consequences. And he has already proven that he is untrustworthy with confidential information. That’s why so many people are so anxious every time he meets with foreign dignitaries, whether at home or abroad. The country would be a lot better off if he would just stay at his golf resorts and leave governing to the adults.

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

Pew Survey: Donald Trump is ‘Arrogant,’ ‘Dangerous,’ and Hated By Most of the World

Everyone already knows that Donald Trump is broadly reviled in the United States. His approval ratings have been at historic lows since the day he was inaugurated. The policies he advocates are opposed by most Americans. For example, the Republican health care bill to repeal ObamaCare is languishing at seventeen percent. Likewise, the people differ with Trump on issues such as immigration, climate change, taxing the wealthy, and the border wall.

Donald Trump

Now a survey by the respected Pew Research Center reveals that Trump is just as unpopular in the rest of the world. The results are an affirmation of how counterproductive it is to have a leader who embraces our enemies and alienates our allies. Not to mention one who behaves like a bully, lies compulsively, and exhibits profound ignorance on almost any subject. The Pew study begins by saying that:

“Although he has only been in office a few months, Donald Trump’s presidency has had a major impact on how the world sees the United States. Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined steeply in many nations. According to a new Pew Research Center survey spanning 37 nations, a median of just 22% has confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs.”

That twenty-two percent contrasts with President Obama’s sixty-four percent confidence rate in the final years of his term. That’s a forty-two point decline in just five months. And it includes a period during which Trump visited Europe and the Middle East. That trip allowed foreign leaders to get to know him personally, but it doesn’t appear to have helped. In fact, it may be a primary reason for their overt animosity.

When seventy-four percent of the world has no confidence in the U.S. president to competently lead the nation, something is terribly wrong. Particularly when that view is held by nations that are among our closest allies and neighbors. The only two countries where Trump is viewed more positively than negatively were Israel (+7%) and Russia (a whopping +42%). These other nations dislike Trump for most of the same reasons Americans do. They strongly oppose his positions on immigration, trade, and climate change. But their distaste is not limited to policy matters. The survey also shows that:

“Trump’s character is also a factor in how he is viewed abroad. In the eyes of most people surveyed around the world, the White House’s new occupant is arrogant, intolerant and even dangerous. Among the positive characteristics tested, his highest rating is for being a strong leader. Fewer believe he is charismatic, well-qualified or cares about ordinary people.”

Fortunately, the world’s loathing for Trump does not rub off on the American people. Fifty-eight percent of the survey’s respondents say they have a favorable opinion of Americans. That contrasts starkly with their opinions of Trump. According to the survey, the words most often used to describe him are “arrogant (75%),” “intolerant (65%),” and “dangerous (62%).” Only twenty-six percent regard him as “well-qualified to be president.”

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

These findings portend further trouble for Trump as his presidency continues to slide into chaos. Foreign affairs play a significant role in the advancement of U.S. national interests. These relationships are critical to enhancing trade and the economy, forging geopolitical alliances, and combating terrorism. Trump’s low marks make all of these matters more difficult, if not impossible, to successfully negotiate. And it’s all the more worrisome that Trump appears neither aware of, nor concerned about, his international revulsion.

Stephen Colbert Makes a Mind-Blowing Announcement While Guesting on Russian TV

Fans of Stephen Colbert may have noticed his mysterious disappearance this week. His Thursday and Friday broadcasts of Late Night were replaced with repeats without explanation. The scheduling change was peculiar considering all of the current events that would be ripe for Colbert’s brand of satire. But now it can be told where he was and what he was doing.

Stephen Colbert

A video of Colbert has surfaced (posted below) revealing that he was in Russia. He was making a guest appearance on “Evening Urgant,” a Russian talk show similar to the one Colbert hosts. Ivan Urgant interviewed Colbert and joined him in a round of vodka shots. Colbert graciously toasted his hosts saying:

“To the beautiful and friendly Russian people. I don’t understand why no members of the Trump administration can remember meeting you.”

That toast obviously went out to folks like Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, and Jared Kushner, who all seemed to have trouble recalling the meetings they had with Russian operatives. Colbert was surprised that they would forget such lovely people. Of course, most Americans would have no problem remembering having met with agents of a hostile foreign nation. For some reason, Donald Trump’s associates have no problem forgetting. Repeatedly.

During the course of the interview, Colbert interrupted Urgant and asked if he could make an announcement. His host courteously consented. So Colbert turned to the camera and, with a dead serious expression, said:

“I am here to announce that I am considering a run for president in 2020. And I thought it would be better to cut out the middle man and just tell the Russians myself. If anyone would like to work on my campaign, in an unofficial capacity, please just let me know.”

Colbert demonstrated his deft political sophistication by not bothering to wait until Russian spies captured and leaked this information. Why not just tell them personally? Although, for all we know Trump did the very same thing. With all of the contacts between Russians and his top advisers, they might have been working together to sink Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The only difference is that they collaborated in secret and lied about, while Colbert did it on live TV.

Urgant was happy to receive Colbert’s news. And he subtly noted that the Russian political machine that aided Trump would be at his disposal when the campaign began:

“It’s a pleasure to drink with the future U.S. President. To you, Stephen. I wish you luck. We will do everything we can so you become president.”

So there you have it. The fix is in. In three short years the United States may inaugurate its first Comedic-American president. The crass ceiling will be broken. Given the historically low approval ratings for Trump, Colbert’s ascendancy to the White House can only be an improvement. After all, his approval ratings, as measured by the Nielsen Company, place him at number one.

It’s too soon to know just when the next opening for a new president will occur. Trump is facing imminent peril for impeachment and prosecution for obstruction of justice and financial misconduct. But at the very latest, the next presidential election cycle for 2020 just might result in the inauguration of President Stephen Colbert. I can hardly wait.

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