Dumping Trump Isn’t Going to Happen Just Yet
No, the Trump administration isn’t imploding. Revelation upon revelation keeps piling up, but if there isn’t an actual document ceding United States sovereignty to the Russians, the GOP’s deal with the devil will remain in place.
The terms of the deal should be obvious by now: Trump is in the White House as a warm body to sign legislation to eliminate the vestiges of the New Deal and usher in a new gilded era.
First up on this agenda is the redirection of one-sixth of the economy, namely healthcare. We won’t know the particulars of
Trumpcare Treasoncare V.3 for another day or so, but rest assured, the aims are the same. And the response from the hinterlands must be the same: No, No, and No.
In the meantime, Trump apologists have gone from Russia-didn’t-hack-election to there-were-no-meetings to there-was-no-collusion to collusion-isn’t-illegal.
The President is hunkered down in the White House, watching cable news (So far this week: nine tweets referencing Fox News stories.) Thirty minutes after an MSNBC story about his TV watching….
— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) July 12, 2017
The W.H. is functioning perfectly, focused on HealthCare, Tax Cuts/Reform & many other things. I have very little time for watching T.V.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2017
The latest details about Trumpito’s meeting on June 9, 2016 have the White House staff reeling. This paragraph from the Weekly Standard pretty much sums it up:
There’s “rancor” at the White House over the Russian lawyer meeting, according to the New York Times. “[P]eople close to the president and to his legal effort are engaged in a circular firing squad, anonymously blaming one another for the decisions of the last few days,” report Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker. At Axios Jonathan Swan describes a “very tense environment” in the West Wing and “a lot of internal anger” over how this story became public and has been handled.
Politico also ran a story detailing the internal disarray at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:
Some in the West Wing have seen Trump Jr.’s defenses — including his decision to post the damning email chain setting up the meeting — as tone deaf and naive about the political ramifications, according to a White House official.
And since Trump Jr. is not a White House employee and is represented by his own lawyer, the White House communications operation has had to take a back seat, while holding its breath for the next batch of revelations.
What the core issue will be going forward, the Trump adviser said, is that the “Russia story will get worse and worse, and you can’t just really say anymore, ‘fake news.'”
Going forward, Trump’s defenders are digging deep into their bag of media manipulation tricks to smooth this over.
A “Category 5 hurricane” is how a Trump ally described the White House mood in the Washington Post coverage. And they’re looking to get even:
Trump and his advisers are deeply frustrated that the disclosure by Trump Jr. has overshadowed the positive coverage they expected to receive from the president’s trip abroad, as well as other issues they hoped to spotlight this week, such as the Senate health-care bill and trade.
A handful of Republican operatives close to the White House are scrambling to Trump Jr.’s defense and have begun what could be an extensive campaign to try to discredit some of the journalists who have been reporting on the matter.
Their plan, as one member of the team described it, is to research the reporters’ previous work, in some cases going back years, and to exploit any mistakes or perceived biases. They intend to demand corrections, trumpet errors on social media and feed them to conservative outlets, such as Fox News.
Congressman Steve King, who is also in the news today advocating for diverting funds from food stamps and Planned Parenthood as a downpayment for building a wall with Mexico, is threatening to play the ultimate GOP T/trump card:
During a CNN interview Wednesday morning, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) issued a threat — if Democrats don’t move on from the enlarging scandal surrounding the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia, Republicans will have no choice but to further investigate the Clintons.
“If this continues — this immobilization of the presidency over these kind of things — it’s gonna force Congress to do an investigation, a complete and thorough investigation, and that means go back all the way to the 650,000 emails of Anthony Weiner and look at [former FBI Director James] Comey and his activities,” the House Judiciary Committee members said.
Pushed on the point by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota , King said that Comey and the special counsel investigating Trump are the real colluders.
And the Trump team may be getting some overseas help. The long-dormant account of CyberBerkut, alleged to be a Kremlin front, has come alive and begun tweeting about links between Clinton & Ukraine.
Meanwhile, McClatchy News Service says congressional investigators are now focused on whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Among other things, congressional investigators are looking into whether Russian operatives, who successfully penetrated voting registration systems in Illinois, Arizona and possibly other states, shared any of that data with the Trump campaign, according to a report in Time.
“I get the fact that the Russian intel services could figure out how to manipulate and use the bots,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner told Pod Save America recently. “Whether they could know how to target states and levels of voters that the Democrats weren’t even aware (of) really raises some questions … How did they know to go to that level of detail in those kinds of jurisdictions?”
The Russians targeted women and African-Americans in two of the three decisive states, Wisconsin and Michigan, “where the Democrats were too brain dead to realize those states were even in play,” Warner said.
Alex Thompson at Vice wrote a piece describing how hacking would impact the upcoming midterm elections:
The year is 2018.
Tens of millions of people show up to vote in the midterm elections to discover their names are no longer on the voter rolls. Thousands of voting machines malfunction and do not properly record votes. Tallies are distorted and inaccurate numbers are sent from counties to states. TV networks call races for the wrong candidates. Recounts begin. Lawsuits are filed.
That’s the nightmare scenario for next year’s elections, and national security and cybersecurity experts warn it’s a very real possibility unless something is done about the country’s outdated election infrastructure — and fast. The hyper-partisan atmosphere on Capitol Hill, however, appears to have frozen any effort to shore up defenses ahead of the midterms, with Republicans wary of giving more attention to the ongoing Russia probes and suspicious that Democrats are only using the issue to attack the president.
Over at the Nation, Ari Berman makes the point that hacking/social media manipulation is just one piece of the picture:
The truth is that the same Republicans who benefited from Russian hacking of the DNC and Clinton campaign e-mails in the 2016 election have been trying for years to suppress Democratic-leaning votes. As civil-rights leader Rev. William Barber notes, “Voter suppression hacked our democracy long before any Russian agents meddled in America’s elections.” Since the 2010 election, 22 states—nearly all of them controlled by Republicans—have passed new laws making it harder to vote, which culminated in the 2016 election being the first in more than 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.
According to a new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 12 percent of the electorate in 2016—16 million Americans—encountered a problem voting, including long lines at the polls, difficulty registering, or faulty voting machines. And last year’s election was decided by just 80,000 votes in three states.
Republicans have accelerated their voter-suppression efforts at the state and federal levels in 2017. According to the Brennan Center, 99 bills to limit access to the ballot have been introduced in 31 states this year, and more states have enacted new voting restrictions in 2017 than in 2016 and 2015 combined. Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, and Texas passed new voter-ID laws; Georgia made voter registration more difficult; and Montana is in the process of limiting the use of absentee ballots.
Two final (scary) thoughts:
The Trump administration is still lobbying Congress to allow easing of sanctions on Russia.
ProPublica points out that the President’s personal lawyer probably can’t get a security clearance due to alcohol abuse problems.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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