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TBR News December 29, 2018

Dec 29 2018

 

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. December 29, 2018: “In the power circles of Washington, the main theme of conversations is the dumping of Trump. He has been viewed as a psychotic trouble-maker in the past but today there are strong rumors that he also has sold out to Putin and is doing his bidding by ruining the United States on the world stage. Trump is confident that his “supporters” will defend him but if they choose to do so, they ought to understand that faults and all, they are not bullet proof and mass, armed, demonstrations in support of Trump could prove fatal to them.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • 815 false claims: The staggering scale of Donald Trump’s pre-midterm dishonesty No 2
  • The halfway point: what have two years of Trump’s wrecking ball done to America?
  • America’s new year’s resolution: impeach Trump and remove him
  • Donald Trump will be impeached in 2019, says ‘prediction professor’
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

 

 

815 false claims: The staggering scale of Donald Trump’s pre-midterm dishonesty No 2

November 15, 2018

by Daniel Dale Washington Bureau Chief

Toronto Star

WASHINGTON—It took Donald Trump until the 286th day of his presidency to make 815 false claims.

He just made another 815 false claims in a month.

In the 31 days leading up to the midterm elections on Nov. 6, Trump went on a lying spree like we have never seen before even from him — an outrageous barrage of serial dishonesty in which he obliterated all of his old records.

How bad have these recent weeks been?

  • Trump made 664 false claims in October. That was double his previous record for a calendar month, 320 in August.
  • Trump averaged 26.3 false claims per day in the month leading up to the midterm on Nov. 6. In 2017, he averaged 2.9 per day.
  • Trump made more false claims in the two months leading up to the midterms (1,176), than he did in all of 2017 (1,011).
  • The three most dishonest single days of Trump’s presidency were the three days leading up to the midterms: 74 on election eve, Nov. 5; 58 on Nov. 3; 54 on Nov. 4.

As always, Trump was being more frequently dishonest in part because he was simply speaking more. He had three campaign rallies on Nov. 5, the day before he set the record, and eight more rallies over the previous five days.

But it was not only quantity. Trump packed his rally speeches with big new lies, repeatedly reciting wildly inaccurate claims about migrants, Democrats’ views on immigration and health care, and his own record. Unlike many of his lies, lots of these ones were written into the text of his speeches.

Trump is now up to 3,749 false claims for the first 661 days of his presidency, an average of 4.4 per day.

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not telling the truth.

 

Oct 8, 2018

 

“…as you know, we’ve just gotten tremendous polling numbers, if you look at Rasmussen. I think we’re at 52, and they think it’s 52-plus-something. So I think, it could be a lot.”

Source: Interview with WFTV Orlando

in fact: This was a minor exaggeration. Trump was at 51 per cent in Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll the day he spoke (and the day before). He had not been at 52 per cent in Rasmussen for 19 months, since March 2017.

 

“Everybody understands there was no collusion. There’s no Russia. It was all made up by the Democrats. They’re the ones that colluded with Russia. The Democrats colluded with Russia.”

Source: Remarks to media upon Marine One landing

in fact: The claim that Democrats colluded with Russia is simple nonsense; the word “collusion” — in common language, a “secret agreement or co-operation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose” — just does not apply to Democrats’ Russia-related activities. The accusation is based on the fact that the British ex-spy who produced a research dossier on the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russia, which was funded in part by Clinton’s campaign, used Russian sources in compiling his information. That does not come close to meeting the definition of “collusion.”

 

Oct 9, 2018

 

“I love the farmers. They’re just such special people. They are — they really have gone through a lot, and we’re opening up markets for them, and will open up, ultimately, China will be opened up to them too. That’s your biggest of all. But right now, it’s a closed shop. It’s essentially a closed market, and it’s unfair. The way they treat the United States farmers. But the way they treat our country, it was unfair and it’s all being worked out today.”

Source: Interview with WOWT Omaha

in fact: China has not been a “closed shop” or “closed market” to U.S. farmers. According to Trump’s own Department of Agriculture, China was the No. 2 export market for U.S. agriculture in 2017, buying $19.6 billion — second only to Canada’s $20.5 billion.

 

“You take a look at soybeans, if you go back five years from when I won from the election, they cut in half. They were literally cut it in half, meaning they went down in half.”

Source: Interview with WOWT Omaha

in fact: We’ve let some of Trump’s previous claims about an Obama-era drop in soybean prices slide, but in this case, he is inaccurately describing what happened between two specific dates. Between Nov. 8, 2011, five years before election day, and Nov. 8, 2016, soybean prices dropped 16 per cent, from about $12 per bushel to about $10 per bushel, according to historical data from Markets Insider and from Macrotrends.

 

“Can’t do it too quickly, but I will tell you China wants to make a deal. And we’ll see. I told them they’re not ready yet, they’re not ready yet. They’ve been taking tremendous — tens of billions of dollars out of our country on a yearly basis. Last year $375 billion.”

Source: Interview with WOWT Omaha

in fact: The U.S. trade deficit with China was $375 billion in 2017 only if you count trade in goods and exclude trade in services. As usual, Trump did not say he was doing so. The overall trade deficit with China, including services trade, was $337 billion.

 

“You look at our economy, it’s is the best it’s ever been, from the standpoint of the deals we made with Canada and Mexico and South Korea. We don’t even talk about that, but we also had a great deal for farmers, for everybody, with South Korea. We terminated the other one, made this deal, which is far better.”

Source: Interview with WOWT Omaha

in fact: Trump did not terminate the U.S. free trade deal with South Korea (KORUS), though his administration had hinted he might do so. Trump did negotiate changes to the deal, but he never initiated the withdrawal process. It is inaccurate even to argue, as he has on some occasions, that the changes “essentially” mean he terminated the previous deal; the changes were too insignificant even to require congressional approval.

 

“I think he’s (Brett Kavanaugh) going to be a great justice of the Supreme Court. Brilliant man. First in his class at Yale, first in his class at Yale Law School.”

Source: Interview with WOWT Omaha

in fact: As a Yale undergraduate, Kavanaugh graduated cum laude, which means he was not first in his class; other students graduated summa cum laude and magna cum laude. Yale Law School’s grading system does not allow the calculation of class rankings at all.

 

“The paid D.C. protesters are now ready to REALLY protest because they haven’t gotten their checks – in other words, they weren’t paid! Screamers in Congress, and outside, were far too obvious – less professional than anticipated by those paying (or not paying) the bills!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: This is nonsensical. As Trump acknowledged himself, in the second half of his first sentence — “they haven’t gotten their checks – in other words, they weren’t paid!” — the overwhelming majority of the people protesting against the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court were not paid in any way. Both sides of the fight used a small number of paid professional organizers, who helped to organize average people passionate about the cause.

 

“In the meantime, as you know, Senator Richard Burr came out just recently and said there was no collusion. He saw no collusion. This is after what? A year and a half.”

Source: Remarks to reporters before Marine One departure

in fact: Burr, a Republican, himself pointed out that Trump’s claim is false: he did not flatly declare that there was no collusion. His actual comments in September: “I can say as it relates to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation that we have no hard evidence of collusion. Now, we’re not over. That leaves the opportunity that we might find something that we don’t have today.” After Trump began mischaracterizing his remarks in October, Burr told CNN: “The president’s using a quote from three weeks ago, that you heard that I said we didn’t have any hard evidence. That’s fine. But we have a lot of investigation left.”

 

“You know, it’s an amazing substance. You look at the Indy cars — they run 100 per cent on ethanol.”

Source: Remarks to reporters before Marine One departure

in fact: The Indy racing series used this “E100” fuel from 2006 through 2011, but it switched to “E85,” which is 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent racing gasoline, in 2012.

 

“But, you know, a lot of those were paid protesters. You saw that. They were all unhappy because they haven’t been paid yet. I’ve been calling it. They were paid protesters. That was professional. That was orchestrated, when you look in the halls of Congress, and you see screaming like that. And it’s like chimes — one goes; the next goes. These are paid protesters.”

Source: Remarks to reporters before Marine One departure

in fact: The overwhelming majority of the people protesting against the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court were not paid in any way. Both sides of the fight used a small number of paid professional organizers, who helped to organize average people passionate about the cause.

 

“There’s no collusion. There is no collusion. By the way, I don’t know if you heard, Richard Burr just came out, he said, ‘No, we have found no collusion.’ He’s a judge at the Senate committee.” And: “So, you have two committees that spent much more than a year on this and they have found no collusion. Richard Burr just made the statement, just very recently. He said: ‘I found no collusion.’ You know why? Because there is no collusion.”

Source: Interview with New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi

in fact: Burr, a Republican, is the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, not “a judge.” More significantly, he has himself pointed out that Trump’s claim about his comments is false. Speaking a month prior to this Trump remark, Burr did not flatly declare that there was no collusion. What he actually said: “I can say as it relates to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation that we have no hard evidence of collusion. Now, we’re not over. That leaves the opportunity that we might find something that we don’t have today.” After Trump began mischaracterizing his remarks in October, Burr told CNN: “The president’s using a quote from three weeks ago, that you heard that I said we didn’t have any hard evidence. That’s fine. But we have a lot of investigation left.”

 

“Well, the Mueller investigation, if anything, it’s showing that the Democrats colluded with Russia and others.”

Source: Interview with New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi

in fact: To date, the Mueller investigation has showed nothing to suggest the Democrats colluded with Russia.

 

“We just signed Right to Try…So now you get the right to try. People used to travel all over the world if they had money. If they didn’t have money, they’d go home. They had no hope. Now they can get treatment. They sign a document, they can get treatment. They tried for 40 years to get that passed. We got it passed. Right to Try. I love it.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Trump was exaggerating how dire the situation was before this Right to Try legislation passed. It is not true that patients had “no hope” or that they had “no way of getting” experimental medicines. Rather, they simply had to ask the Food and Drug Administration for approval first. While many patients objected to this requirement, which the Trump-backed new legislation removed, the FDA approved 99 per cent of all patient requests, the Trump-appointed head of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, testified to Congress in October 2017. The Government Accountability Office confirms: “Of the nearly 5,800 expanded access requests that were submitted to FDA from fiscal year 2012 through 2015, FDA allowed 99 per cent to proceed,” the GAO wrote in a July 2017 report. “FDA typically responded to emergency single-patient requests within hours and other types of requests within the allotted 30 days.” Further, the new law will not help the patients whose requests for experimental treatments have been rejected by drug companies themselves, which Trump himself noted was a problem. The legislation does not compel the companies to provide access.

 

“So important for the farmers and small business. To save your family farms and ranches, we’ve virtually eliminated the estate tax, also known as the death tax. So now if you like your children or love your children, you can leave your beautiful farm to your children and they won’t have to pay any taxes. They won’t have to go to your local banker, borrow money, and end up losing the farm, which was happening. Now you won’t have any — you guys know that, that’s a big deal — that’s a big deal, Jeff and Steve and everybody. That’s a big deal, because people were leaving their farms, they go out, they mortgage their farms, then they end up — the kids end up going through hell and losing their farms. So now you won’t have to go to the bank, borrow money, put a mortgage on.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Trump did not eliminate the estate tax; it is not “gone,” even “essentially.” His tax law merely raised the threshold at which it must be paid. Also, it is highly misleading to suggest that the estate tax is a major burden on family farms and small businesses: very few of them were paying the tax even before Trump’s tax law was passed. According to the Tax Policy Center, a mere 80 farms and small businesses were among the 5,460 estates likely to pay the estate tax in 2017, before Trump’s tax law. The Center wrote on its website: “The Tax Policy Center estimates that small farms and businesses will pay $30 million in estate tax in 2017, fifteen hundredths of 1 of the total estate tax revenue.”

 

“So we like South Korea. We’ve got 32,000 soldiers over there. Thank you very much, United States. They don’t pay. They don’t pay us, but that’s OK. They’re very successful.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: South Korea pays about half the cost of the U.S. military presence in the country, more than $800 million per year.

“So we like South Korea. We’ve got 32,000 soldiers over there.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: The U.S. had 26,045 active duty troops in South Korea and 28,598 military personnel there in total as of June 2018, according to the latest report from the military’s Defense Manpower Data Center.

 

“Like, I like to say, like Air Force One, we gave out the contract. They were going to give it out for $1.6 billion more than I gave it out for. They’ll tell you. I said to Boeing, I’m not going to pay that price. And I said, I’m not paying it. Cancel the contract. I’m not paying it. And I held a line. I said, you got to take off $1.8 billion. They called back a day later. Supposing we took off $1.6 billion? I said you have a deal, OK. I actually did that. I actually said cut it in half, OK? But we don’t have to go through the whole deal.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: That is at least slightly off. Trump’s spokespeople have claimed that he has saved $1.4 billion, not $1.6 billion: they say that the initial estimate for the $3.9 billion contract was $5.3 billion.

“They were going to build the embassy in Israel. As you know, we got approved, right? On my desk was a document to get ready to spend over $1 billion to build a building. I said, how do you spend $1 billion to build a building? I didn’t look, but probably like one story, it’s an embassy, right, two stories, a billion dollars. And I said, maybe we can get a building and renovate it and fix it up real fast, and who knows? And our great — our great ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, called. He said, you know, we have the best site in Jerusalem. And there’s a beautiful building on it. And we can take just a big corner of that building, fix it up, and instead of waiting 20 or 25 years, by the time this thing got worked out, we could have it in about four months, sir. I said, what do you mean the site’s the best? He said, well, we were there early. We’ve had the site for many years. The building is good, but, you know, we have to renovate. So we’re going to spend a billion and probably never get it open, right? And, by the way, had we spent a billion, it would end up costing $3 billion or $4 billion for — you know, people would look at it, probably one-third the size of this room. They’ll spend $2 billion. So I said, David, how much is it going to cost to do that? And how good is the site? Site’s great. And, sir, the building is set way back, which is good for purposes of security. They like that. They don’t want it right on the sidewalk. I can’t imagine why. Set way back. He said, sir, it’s beautiful. And it’s a big site. We can do other things later. I said, how much is it going to cost? He said, sir, it’s going to cost about $180,000. I told him, we’ll think about it. True, $180,000. First time in my life I’ve ever done this. First time. Don’t get angry at me. I said, David, it’s too cheap. It doesn’t sound good. I never did that before. I never did it before… But with the — with the — with the embassy, I said, David, David, $180,000, it’s too cheap. We’ve got to spend more than that. It doesn’t sound good. But, sir, I can do a really — I said, I know you can, but it’s not going to play well. You mean we took it from $1 billion to $180,000? I said, David, I said, you know what, David, make it $400,000. And use Jerusalem stone. Did anybody ever see it? It’s the most beautiful stone. And you’re in Jerusalem, right? I mean, what’s — probably inexpensive. Most expensive stone when you bring it here. But you’re in Jerusalem. They should have plenty of it, right? I said, David, use beautiful Jerusalem stone and let’s do it. We opened it up four months later for $400,000. Can you believe it? Open.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: The renovations required by the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem will cost far more than $400,000. ABC News reported in July: “Documents filed with the official database of federal spending show that the State Department awarded the Maryland-based company Desbuild Limak D&K a contract for $21.2 million to design and build an ‘addition and compound security upgrades’ at the embassy. These updates will be made to the former consular building in Jerusalem — the embassy’s temporary location.” The ABC article continued: “A State Department official told ABC News today that President Trump’s estimates only factored in that first phase of modifications to the former consular building, not this second round of renovation.”

 

“But I’ve gotten $44 billion last year, more paid into NATO by other countries. And this year will be more than that.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: This is a slight exaggeration. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in July that the increase was $41 billion, not $44 billion, since Trump took office: “In fact, since President Trump took office, European allies and Canada have added an additional $41 billion to their defence spending.”

 

 

“Now, we protect most of those countries. European Union, NATO. We protect most. So Germany is paying 1 per cent. We are paying 4.3 percent to protect Europe.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: The U.S. does not spend 4.3 per cent of GDP on defence. It is spending 3.5 per cent, according to an official NATO estimate, down slightly from 3.57 per cent in 2017.

 

“Sounds so nice. So nice. The European Union. Sounds so nice, right? They are brutal. But that’s because they’ve had their way. They formed in order to take advantage of us on trade.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Experts on the EU say that competing with the U.S. economically was not even on the list of the top reasons for the original formation of the European coalition or its evolution into the official European Union in 1993 — let alone “taking advantage” of the U.S. “That effort was never to compete with the United States,” said Maxime Larivé, associate director of the European Union Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Its original incarnation, an economic “community” created in the 1950s, was intended “to simply foster peace through trade and economic exchange” of coal and steel, Larivé said.

 

“We have finalized a new fair trade deal for South Korea. They don’t even talk about — that’s a big deal. We just did a deal, manufacturers, farmers. The deal was so bad. That was a Hillary Clinton deal. She said — no, no. She was secretary of state…so she said, we will create 250,000 jobs. And everybody was excited. Unfortunately, she was right, but it was created in South Korea, not in our country. Just another deal, check it off. Just another horrible deal. We will create 250,000 for — you know if she said for South Korea, at least it would have been honest, right?”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Clinton did not claim that the trade deal with South Korea would produce 250,000 new jobs. Neither did anyone else in the Obama administration. Obama said that deal would “support at least 70,000 American jobs.” (It is also probably a stretch to say the deal was a “Hillary Clinton catastrophe.” George W. Bush’s administration negotiated the original version of the deal. When Congress refused to ratify it, it was revised by the Obama administration when Clinton was secretary of state.)

 

“Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment rates have also reached all-time lows.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: The unemployment rate for Hispanics was indeed at a record low, at least for the period since the government began releasing data for this group in the 1970s. The Asian-American unemployment rate, however, was not close to a record. It briefly dropped to a low, 2.0 per cent, in May — a low, at least, since the government began issuing Asian-American data in 2000 — but the most recent rate at the time Trump spoke, for September, was 3.5 per cent. This was higher than the rate in Obama’s last full month in office — 2.8 per cent in December 2016 — and in multiple months of George W. Bush’s second term.

 

“And we subsidize their (Japan’s) military. When I say subsidize, I’m not talking about like for 2 per cent. We pay for 70 per cent of their military. Nobody knows this! And I said to the prime minister, who’s a great guy, I said, how come? And he honestly says, nobody ever asked. When we straighten out this, we have so much potential.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: The fact-checkers at the Daily Caller News Foundation, which is friendly to Trump, found this to be false. Jeffrey W. Hornung, a RAND Corporation political scientist specializing in Japanese security, told the Foundation: “The US does not contribute to this (Japan’s military budget); this is solely funded by Japanese taxpayers. Thus, the statement that the US subsidizes Japan’s defense is inaccurate.” The Foundation continued: “It is unclear how Trump came up with the 70 per cent figure. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.”

 

“When we get rid of these horrible, disgusting trade deals, with China, over the last five, six years, we’ve been losing $300 billion to $500 billion a year, billion. Nobody even knows what the hell it is, it’s so much. It’s ending. It’s ending. It’s ending. And it’s not just China. It’s not just China.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: The U.S. has never once had a $500 billion trade deficit with China, according to U.S. government data. The deficit was $337 billion in 2017, $375 billion if you only count trade in goods and exclude trade in services.

 

“Look at Iran. Before I got there, Iran was going to take over the Middle East in like 12 minutes, right? Now they’re trying to survive. You got riots in every city.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: It is an exaggeration, at best, to claim Iran was going to “take over the Middle East in like 12 minutes,” or in any number of minutes, before Trump took office. Hussein Banai, a professor who studies Iran at the international studies school at Indiana University, said in an email: “The claim that Iran was on the verge of taking over the Middle East prior to Trump taking office is utterly false. In fact, quite the opposite was the case, as the Sunni-majority Arab states in the region — most vocally led by Saudi Arabia and with the expressed support of the US and Israel — had already begun to curb Iran’s influence in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. There is no question that the perception of many of Iran’s rivals in the region after the nuclear deal was that the Islamic Republic had emerged with a stronger geopolitical hand. But the reality was that Iran had merely emerged from nearly 40 years of isolation from which many of these rivals had benefited. So, I would say that the major grievance at the time was that the Obama administration had allowed for the Islamic Republic to become a ‘normal’ country. The issue was never Iran’s military might — its defense expenditures and capabilities are dwarfed by those of Israel and Saudi Arabia — but the fact that it was on the verge of a major economic boom in a post-sanctions world.”

 

“You’ll see what happens. You take a look at what’s going on with North Korea. They were ready to go to war with North Korea. Now we’re getting along very nicely. It’s working out very well.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: There is no evidence Obama was ever ready to go to war with North Korea or that, as Trump has claimed, he told Trump such a thing; such a remark would be a total departure from Obama’s long-held views on North Korea. Obama’s office has declined to comment on Trump’s previous claims about Obama supposedly making this statement at his post-election meeting with Trump, but Ned Price, a former special assistant to Obama and spokesperson for the National Security Council, called Trump’s remark “absolute revisionist history,” saying, “I’ve never heard anything even remotely like that coming up during that session.” Obama’s strategy of “containment and deterrence” was “predicated in part on the understanding that a military conflict on the (Korean) Peninsula would be nothing short of catastrophic,” Price said. In the past, Trump has confirmed what news outlets have reported: Obama told him North Korea was the biggest or most urgent problem he would face, not that war was inevitable.

 

“The Democrat agenda is radical socialism and open borders. The new platform of the Democrat Party is to abolish ICE. What a great idea. You know why? Because the people that work for ICE, they love our country.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: The Democrats do not want “open borders,” and it is an exaggeration to say that “abolish ICE” is their platform. There is new Democratic momentum behind the movement to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but that is not the position of “the Democrat Party” as a whole. While a smattering of Democratic House members and two prominent senators, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren, have joined the call for abolition at the time Trump spoke, the party’s leadership remains opposed to the proposal. Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters: “Look, ICE does some functions that are very much needed. “Reform ICE? Yes. That’s what I think we should do. It needs reform.” Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi, through a spokesperson, has called for a “drastic overhaul of its immigration functions,” but has not endorsed abolition.

 

“You never know. A majority of House Democrats have already signed up for a socialist health care plan that would obliterate Medicare and eliminate Medicare Advantage for 20 million seniors. Republicans want to protect Medicare. We’re protecting it for our great seniors who have earned it and paid for it all of their lives.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Democrats’ “Medicare for all” proposals tend to be vague, but they would not take Medicare health insurance away from seniors. Rather, they would extend similar government-provided health insurance to younger people as well, and they would give current Medicare recipients additional coverage for things like vision and dental services.

 

“Abby Finkenauer — who the hell is that? Who is that — is an extreme liberal who supports mass amnesty — anybody like amnesty — for illegal aliens, wants to raise your taxes through the roof, and wants to take away your health care.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Finkenauer, a Democratic congessional candidate in Iowa, does not want to take away people’s health care. (As for “amnesty,” she is proposing “bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform that creates an earned pathway to citizenship for millions who have paid their taxes and contributed to society, while securing our borders and ensuring strong interior immigration enforcement so that we keep out and deport criminals and those who would do us harm.”)

 

“He voted to secure our borders, stop the visa lottery horror show. Can you imagine it? This is legislation. They put names in a bin. We picked names. Do you think we’re — they’re putting their finest? We get these people — a lottery, can you believe? We want a merit system. We don’t want a lottery system.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Foreign countries are not “putting” anyone in the green card lottery. Would-be immigrants sign up on their own, as individuals, of their own free will, because they want to immigrate.

 

 

“We got Veterans Choice. After 44 years, we got Veterans Choice.” And: “We also passed Veterans Choice, giving our veterans the right to see a private doctor. Big thing. Forty-four years. Forty-four years, they’ve tried to get it passed. People are waiting on line for 12 days, for 20 days, for 28 days. I thought it was my idea, but then I came back and I said — what a great idea. They said, we’ve been trying to get it passed for 44 years. I mean, how simple? Right? Forty-four years.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: The Veterans Choice health program was created in 2014 under Obama. The law Trump signed merely modified the program.

 

“By the way, Kim’s opponent this November is a radical Dem named Fred Hubbell. He’s got some problems. He’s weak on crime, weak on borders, doesn’t want any. Only wants to massively raise your taxes. He wants to take away your ethanol.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Hubbell, the Democratic candidate for governor of Iowa, does not want to eliminate American borders or to take away ethanol.

 

 

“Democrats want to raise your taxes, impose socialism, dismantle law enforcement, eliminate ICE, and get rid of American borders. You want to get rid of the borders, right? You won’t have a country.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Democrats do not want to dismantle law enforcement or get rid of American borders. A minority of Democrats wants to eliminate ICE, the immigration enforcement agency, and replace it with another enforcement system. Some Democrats do want to raise taxes on the wealthy, and some Democrats favour democratic socialism or social-democratic policies. But there is no plan to “impose socialism” as a system of government.

 

“The Dems will end ethanol. You know that. They’re not going to approve ethanol. They will take it away…they will find a way to take it away…”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Democrats are not planning to refuse to “approve” ethanol or to “take it away.”

 

“And if you remember, the last administration, without mentioning names, the last administration said ‘manufacturing jobs, they’re dead. They’re gone.’ We have 600,000, have come back since the election. Six hundred thousand.

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: The economy added 408,000 manufacturing jobs between November 2016 and September 2018.

 

“And if you remember, the last administration, without mentioning names, the last administration said ‘manufacturing jobs, they’re dead. They’re gone.'”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: The Obama administration did not say manufacturing jobs are “dead” or “gone.” Rather, at a televised PBS town hall in Elkhart, Indiana in 2016, Obama said that certain manufacturing jobs “are just not going to come back” — but also boasted that some manufacturers are indeed “coming back to the United States,” that “we’ve seen more manufacturing jobs created since I’ve been president than any time since the 1990s,” and that “we actually make more stuff, have a bigger manufacturing base today, than we’ve had in most of our history.” Obama did mock Trump for Trump’s campaign claims that he was going to bring back manufacturing jobs that had been outsourced to Mexico, saying: “And when somebody says — like the person you just mentioned who I’m not going to advertise for — that he’s going to bring all these jobs back, well, how exactly are you going to do that? What are you going to do? There’s no answer to it. He just says, ‘Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.’ Well, how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually the answer is he doesn’t have an answer.” But, again, Obama made clear that he was talking about a certain segment of manufacturing jobs, not all of them.

 

“And we’ve built the wall — we’re building the wall. We’ve started. A lot of it’s getting done right now. We got $1.6 billion. Another $1.6 billion. And another $1.6 billion. I want ’em to give us the money so I can build it — we can build it in a year. But we’ve done a lot of it. It’s going up right now.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Construction on Trump’s border wall has not started, and Trump has not secured $4.8 billion for the wall. When Trump has claimed in the past that wall construction has begun, he has appeared to be referring to projects in which existing fencing is being replaced. The $1.6 billion Congress allocated to border projects in 2018 is not for the type of giant concrete wall Trump has proposed: spending on that kind of wall is expressly prohibited in the legislation, and much of the congressional allocation is for replacement and reinforcement projects rather than new construction. Trump has requested another $1.6 billion for the 2019 fiscal year, but this has not yet been approved, much less spent. In these comments, Trump also added a third “$1.6 billion” that does not exist.

 

 

“Right, how about — how about Senator Feinstein? That’s another beauty. That’s a beauty. Did you leak the documents? ‘Well, what, what, what? No, I didn’t do it. Did we leak? Did we leak? No. No. No, we didn’t’ — did you ever see — no, she goes no. He just said, no, we didn’t leak.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Trump did not accurately recount the answer Feinstein gave when Republican Sen. John Cornyn pressed her, at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on the leaking of Christine Blasey Ford’s letter accusing judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Feinstein didn’t say “Well, what, what, what? No, I didn’t do it. Did we leak? Did we leak? No. No. No, we didn’t.” She vehemently said she did not leak the letter; asked if her staff leaked it, she said, “Oh, I don’t believe my staff would leak it. I have not asked that question directly, but I do not believe they would.” When Cornyn followed up, she said, “The answer is no. The staff said they did not.”

 

“We won’t talk about Da Nang Dick…who tried to convince people for 15 years that he was a great war hero. ‘They were going down left. They were going down right.’ Right, you know who that is? Blumenthal. He said, ‘They were going on my left, they were going down’ — he was in Da Nang Province. Except the one problem. It’s hard to be there, because he was never in Vietnam, but these are minor details.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: Only a smidgen of this story is true. Trump was correct that Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal lied about having served in Vietnam. But Trump was also lying at length: Blumenthal never claimed to have served in Da Nang, to have been a war hero, or to have fought in battles in which people were shot. He simply claimed to have served in Vietnam during the war, when he served in the Marine Corps Reserve in the U.S.

 

“Elizabeth Warren. Oh, I hope she runs. I hope she runs. Then we can finally get down to the fact as to whether or not she has Indian blood. So far, she’s not doing too well. Her mother says she has high cheekbones. That’s why. And she’s gotten a lot of advantages by falsely claiming what she’s claiming.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: The Boston Globe reported: “In the most exhaustive review undertaken of Elizabeth Warren’s professional history, the Globe found clear evidence, in documents and interviews, that her claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard Law faculty, which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools. At every step of her remarkable rise in the legal profession, the people responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman.” The Globe continued: “The Globe closely reviewed the records, verified them where possible, and conducted more than 100 interviews with her colleagues and every person who had a role in hiring decisions about Warren who could be reached. In sum, it is clear that Warren was viewed as a white woman by the hiring committees at every institution that employed her.” At the University of Pennsylvania, the hiring committee explained at length at the time why they chose to hire a white woman over minority candidates; “not until she had been teaching at Penn for two years did she authorize the university to change her personnel designation from white to Native American, the records show.” At Harvard University, “Warren first listed her ethnicity as Native American nearly five months after she started her tenured position at Harvard and 2½ years after she was there as a visiting professor and first offered the job.”

 

“Including the phony protestors that got paid…and now they want to protest because they didn’t get paid yet, and they want their money. So now they’re going to really protest. You see, that’s a real protest.”

Source: Campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

in fact: This is nonsensical. As Trump acknowledged himself in the second half of his first sentence — “they didn’t get paid yet” — the overwhelming majority of the people protesting against the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court have not received any money; as Trump refused to acknowledge, they will never receive any money: they were unpaid citizens, not wage workers. Both sides of the fight used a small number of paid professional organizers, who helped to organize average people passionate about the cause.

 

“No, it went very well. We have a very good relationship with China. But, you know, they took out $500 billion out of our country for many years, each year. And we just can’t let that happen. This should’ve been talked about by people in this chair for many years.” And: “Look, for years and years, they were taking out $200, $300, $400, and even $500 billion a year. We helped rebuild China. If we don’t do that, China’s not where they are right now. And that’s fine with me, but we’re not doing it any longer.” And: “They’ve taken out $500 billion. That’s — I think that’s the ultimate retaliation.”

Source: Appearance with Nikki Haley for her resignation announcement

in fact: The U.S. has never once had a $500 billion trade deficit with China, according to U.S. government data. The deficit was $337 billion in 2017, $375 billion if you only count trade in goods and exclude trade in services.

 

“In a period of six months, since we started doing what I’m doing, the steel industry has literally revived. U.S. Steel is opening up eight plants.”

Source: Appearance with Nikki Haley for her resignation announcement

in fact: Though Trump had been making this claim for three months, there was still no evidence at the time that U.S. Steel was opening eight plants. (Trump originally claimed it was six plants, then later claimed it was seven plants, then eight plants, then “a minimum of eight plants,” then “eight or nine plants.”) At the time Trump spoke, U.S. Steel had only announced a major development at two facilities since he introduced his steel tariffs. First it said it was restarting two shuttered blast furnaces at its plant in Granite City, Illinois, then that it was investing $750 million to revitalize a plant in Gary, Indiana.

 

“Iran looked like a real problem. It was a question of when would they take over the Middle East, prior to my coming here. And now, Iran is fighting for their lives.”

Source: Appearance with Nikki Haley for her resignation announcement

in fact: It is an exaggeration, at best, to claim Iran was going to “take over the Middle East” before Trump took office. Hussein Banai, a professor who studies Iran at the international studies school at Indiana University, said in an email: “The claim that Iran was on the verge of taking over the Middle East prior to Trump taking office is utterly false. In fact, quite the opposite was the case, as the Sunni-majority Arab states in the region — most vocally led by Saudi Arabia and with the expressed support of the US and Israel — had already begun to curb Iran’s influence in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. There is no question that the perception of many of Iran’s rivals in the region after the nuclear deal was that the Islamic Republic had emerged with a stronger geopolitical hand. But the reality was that Iran had merely emerged from nearly 40 years of isolation from which many of these rivals had benefited. So, I would say that the major grievance at the time was that the Obama administration had allowed for the Islamic Republic to become a ‘normal’ country. The issue was never Iran’s military might — its defense expenditures and capabilities are dwarfed by those of Israel and Saudi Arabia — but the fact that it was on the verge of a major economic boom in a post-sanctions world.”

 

The halfway point: what have two years of Trump’s wrecking ball done to America?

The republic has undergone a wild stress test but despite new lows, Donald Trump’s presidency has also seen a democratic renaissance

Deember 29, 2018

by David Smith in Washington

The Guardian

It’s nearly half-time and we’re still here. On 20 January it will be two years since the businessman and reality TV celebrity Donald Trump took the oath as president, spoke of “American carnage” and boasted about his crowd size, leaving millions to wonder if the US, and the world, could survive him.

It will also be two years until the next inauguration in Washington. Has the 45th president kept his campaign promises and made America great again? Or has he proven an existential threat to the republic, stoking internal divisions, destroying its reputation abroad and assailing norms and values, the rule of law and reality itself?

For sure, Trump is testing his infamous January 2016 claim – “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters” – to destruction.

True, there has been no new war, no major terrorist attack, no economic crash – at least not yet – such is the soft bigotry of low expectations. There is also a school of thought that this presidency was necessary, that the rise of a narcissistic authoritarian has brought about a moment of reckoning, forcing white Americans to confront a racism many had dismissed as ambient noise and forcing everyone to confront a broken politics.

“There’s no question that the institutions of our democracy are being tested every day in terms of the fundamental checks and balances built into our constitution,” said Leon Panetta, a former defence secretary and CIA director. “There are some days when you wonder whether the system is going to work well, but I think generally we’ve been able to survive. But presidencies ought to be about a hell of a lot more than just survival.”

Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington and former policy adviser to President Bill Clinton, agrees: “America is surviving; it isn’t thriving. Our institutions have undergone a stress test. They have bent; they haven’t broken.”

Most observers agree that Trump has remained true to himself and his candidacy, the anti-Barack Obama. Last month he awarded himself an A+, asking on Fox News: “Is that enough? Can I go higher than that?”

Trump presides over a strong economy with unemployment at its lowest rate for half a century, though Democrats argue that he is building on Obama’s foundations and warn of a spiralling national debt. He passed sweeping tax reform in what critics say was a giveaway to the super-rich at the expense of working families. He slashed regulations with little heed for the environment (he denies the science of climate change).

He appointed Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the supreme court, and many more conservative judges to the lower courts, delighting his base but infuriating millions of women and men after allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh were brushed aside. He has failed to build the wall he promised on the Mexican border but enforced an anti-immigration policy that separated children from their parents.

Overseas, Trump has praised authoritarians while alienating old allies and rattling the post-second world war liberal order. His relationship with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, remains a mystery, exemplified by a summit in Helsinki that led to cries of treason, but special counsel Robert Mueller has caught several criminals in Trump’s orbit and has cast a long shadow over the White House. Trump’s trade war with China could hurt the people who elected him the most.

Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, says: “Trump is squandering one of America’s greatest strengths, which is its allies. Stand back and say, is America more powerful than when he got elected in 2016? The answer has to be no. There has been only slippage.”

Along the way, the Republican party has done little to stop him, with most critical voices in the Senate – John McCain, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake – stilled by death or retirement. Even so, Jacobs retains faith in the country’s resilience. He said: “I’m not one of those people who think American democracy is ending. This is not a late-night horror movie. This is a country that had hundreds of years of democracy with a civil war, the McCarthy hearings and a lot more. The country has been through the wringer and democracy has held.

“When I look at the performance of institutions, I’d say it’s largely operational. The media has been described as the enemy of the people but the press looks more vibrant and aggressive in its reporting than at any time since Watergate. Trump is an aberration in his conduct but the operation of the American electoral system, judiciary and media continue.”

Trump also provokes questions of character, ethics and temperament. His White House has been a vortex of chaos with a record turnover of staff. He surrounded himself with ageing white men and members of his own family, inviting accusations of corruption. He drew moral equivalence between white nationalists and anti-fascist protesters after deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and appears to reserve particular venom for women and people of colour. He has attacked the media as “the enemy of the people” while chalking up thousands of false statements. His Twitter account brims with insults, lies, vulgarity and bad spelling.

Sidney Blumenthal, a biographer of Abraham Lincoln, says: “Trump is certainly the person with the worst character ever to be president. At two years and counting, the damage may equal the damage done by the worst presidents which brought on the civil war, and the damage done by Andrew Johnson who encouraged the Ku Klux Klan and white nationalist attacks on Reconstruction that brought about legalised segregation.”

Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to Clinton, warns that even if Trump – who lost the popular vote in 2016 and saw House Republicans routed in 2018 – is defeated in 2020, his legacy will endure. “The idea that there can be a simple restoration and the country can pick up where we left off the minute before Trump took the oath is a dangerous illusion. We’re going to have to deal with the damage. It is too profound that it is an unprecedented assault on our constitution.”

And yet there is a striking paradox. Over the past two years, Trump has also caused a democratic renaissance. The first Women’s March on Washington the day after his inauguration was probably the biggest single-day demonstration in recorded US history, with an estimated 725,000 people. In November 2018, 49% of the voter-eligible population showed up at the polls, the highest midterm turnout seen since 1914. Activists, authors, journalists and satirists have thrived in an age when politics suddenly matters again. The complacent myth of a post-racial country, which some espoused after Obama’s election, has been exploded, forcing some long-overdue conversations.

Asked if he considers Trump a white supremacist, Rashad Robinson, president of the advocacy group Color of Change, replies instantly: “Absolutely.” But he adds: “If Trump was the only one, he couldn’t survive. There is potential for us to be more honest and more clear and see what people do when things are hard. When you’re getting your tax breaks and your judges, are you willing to go along with racism?”

The president has shaken up norms once taken for granted, he adds. “Trump and the right have sort of called the bluff on those things where we thought the system was supposed to work: you can’t steal a supreme court seat, you can’t say racist things to a black female reporter, you can’t lie every day and get away with it. The bluff has been called and we can’t rely on the old structures and rules of cordiality.”

But the “resistance” to Trump has produced a surge of civic activism. Robinson says: “As much as the levers of power are being used, racial justice is winning as never before. People are working across silos as they haven’t in the past. There’s a new level of engagement.”

One example is Jjana Valentiner, an actor and makeup artist from Salt Lake City, Utah, now living in Washington, who stood outside the White House with candles on the night of Trump’s election. “I was in shock,” she recalls. “I was just numb. I heard a lot of people say it felt like a death.”

Valentiner’s response is to regularly hand-deliver boxes of cupcakes to members of Congress, the media and others she wants to thank for “saving democracy”, helped by a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $2,000 to date. She reflects: “We had stages of grief and, now that we’re two years in, I can look at it and go, right, it was necessary because I think it’s exposing a lot of what was under the surface already that needed to be exposed, especially for white folks.

“I actually think we’re going to get through this and I think we’re going to be stronger and better because of it.”

Neil Sroka, communications director of the progressive group Democracy for America, also finds consolation in the country’s response. “A giant Trump-shaped cloud sits over everything, but the silver lining is that the rise of this administration has led to a progressive awakening that had been thought of as possible but not guaranteed,” he says. “What many folks have realised is how fragile institutions are and in a lot of ways Trump himself hasn’t rotted the trust, but the wrecking ball Trump has been to our democratic norms has exposed the rot that lay beneath the surface.”

Race has been at the core of the Trump presidency, just as it is at the core of America. Sroka adds: “In January 2017, we had millions of white liberals running around saying this isn’t our country and what the last two years have shown is that, yes, this is our country and the only way we’re going to fix it is to fundamentally change our politics.”

Trump is as American as Obama. His presidency has laid bare America’s soul and shaken its oldest institutions, including the church. Michael Curry, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal church, says: “I think in most folks there’s a sense that something’s out of kilter. We don’t know exactly what, and that’s not a liberal or conservative thing, but there’s something in the way we’re even engaging each other.”

Curry, 65, who shot to fame at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan, says he is now having more conversations with members of Congress and people in government about spiritual values. Despite it all, does he remain optimistic? He pauses and leans back, then replies: “I believe in hope. I believe in God. This isn’t the first time the human race has been in trouble and I expect it won’t be the last.

“We’re in the midst of some tough times right now but like the old slaves used to say, tough times don’t last always. As long as there’s a God.”

 

 

America’s new year’s resolution: impeach Trump and remove him

December 29, 2018

by Robert Reich

The Guardian

After his first bizarre year, Donald Trump’s apologists told us he was growing into the job and that in his second year he would be more restrained and respectful of democratic institutions.

Wrong. He’s been worse.

Exhibit one: the “wall”. After torpedoing Mitch McConnell’s temporary spending deal to avert a shutdown, he’s holding hostage more than 800,000 government employees (“mostly Democrats”, he calls them, disparagingly) while subjecting the rest of America to untoward dangers.

On-site inspections at power plants have been halted. Hazardous waste cleanup efforts at Superfund sites are on hold. Reviews of toxic substances and pesticides have been stopped. Justice department cases are in limbo.

Meanwhile, now working without pay are thousands of air traffic controllers and aviation and railroad safety inspectors, nearly 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents, 42,000 coast guard employees, 53,000 TSA agents, 17,000 correctional officers, 14,000 FBI agents, 4,000 Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and some 5,000 firefighters with the US Forest Service.

Having run the Department of Labor during the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns, I’m confident most of these public servants will continue to report for duty because they care about the missions they’re upholding. But going without pay will strain their family budgets to the point that some will not be able to.

Shame on him for jeopardizing America this way in order to fund his wall – which is nothing but a trumped-up solution to a trumped-up problem designed only to fuel his base.

In his second year, he’s also done even more damage to the nation’s judicial-criminal system than he did before.

At least twice in the past month he has reportedly raged against his acting attorney general for allowing federal prosecutors to reference him in the crimes his former bagman Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to committing.

This is potentially the most direct obstruction of justice yet. He’s now pressuring an official whom he hand-picked and whose entire future depends on him, to take actions that would impair the independence of federal prosecutors.

Last month he blasted Jon Tigar as an “Obama judge”, after Tigar blocked the administration’s limits on asylum eligibility to ports of entry, a decision summarily upheld by the ninth circuit court of appeals and sustained by the supreme court.

Chief Justice Roberts issued a rare rebuke. “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges,” he wrote, adding that an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for”.

Which prompted this rejoinder: “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’” followed by a baseless and incendiary claim that “they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country” and their “rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!”

In his second year, he has displayed even less commitment to keeping the military non-partisan than he did initially. During a teleconference with US troops and coast guard members last month he continued his rampage against the judiciary, calling the ninth circuit “a big thorn in our side” and “a disgrace”.

Then he turned last week’s surprise visit to American troops in Iraq and Germany into a political rally: praising troops wearing red “Make America Great Again” caps, signing a “Trump 2020” patch, and accusing Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats of being weak on border security.

Some Americans are becoming so accustomed to these antics that they no longer see them for what they are – escalating attacks on core democratic institutions.

Where would we be if a president could simply shut down the government when he doesn’t get his way? If he could stop federal prosecutions he doesn’t like and order those he wants? If he could whip up public anger against court decisions he disapproves of? If he could mobilize the military to support him, against Congress and the judiciary?

We would no longer live in a democracy. Like his increasing attacks on critics in the press, these are all aspects of his growing authoritarianism. We normalize them at our peril.

America’s democratic institutions remain strong, but I’m not sure they can endure two more years of this. Trump must be removed from office through impeachment, or his own decision to resign in the face of impeachment, as did Richard Nixon.

Republican members of Congress must join with Democrats to get this task done as quickly as possible. Nothing is more urgent. It must be, in effect, America’s new year’s resolution.

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good

 

Donald Trump will be impeached in 2019, says ‘prediction professor

Scholar Allan Lichtman defied mainstream wisdom by forecasting early on that Donald Trump would win the 2016 presidential election. In an interview with DW, he now predicts that the president will be impeached next year.

December 29, 2018

by Michael Knigge (Washington)

DW

The US president’s basic conduct and politics are unlikely to change in 2019, but the new Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, coupled with the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, will lead to the impeachment of Donald Trump, predicts Allan Lichtman.

“I think it’s more likely than not he will get impeached,” the American University professor told DW.

After previously predicting 30 years of presidential elections correctly, Lichtman became a media phenomenon when he — against mainstream wisdom — predicted early on that Trump would win in 2016.

Now Lichtman is convinced that as of 2019, and for the remainder of his term, Trump will be engaged in a fight to remain in office — a fight he well may lose.

That’s because until now, Trump could rely on a Republican-controlled Congress to shield him from impeachment or removal from office proceedings — essentially a political trial process — which can be triggered by a single majority vote in the House of Representatives. That process has long been a hot topic among the president’s opponents in the Democratic Party and, in the wake of the midterm elections that flipped the House, Democrats will hold a solid a majority in 2019.

Impeachment becomes possible

As soon as the new Democratic-run House convenes on January 3 next year, impeaching Trump moves from theory to reality. And while top Democrats have so far routinely downplayed calls for impeachment by the so-called anti-Trump resistance movement and by lawmakers demanding a more aggressive stance against the president, the pressure to act could force the party’s leaders to pursue it.

If Mueller comes up with some devastating findings, the Democratic base will demand impeachment,” said Lichtman. “I think [Trump] is in grave peril from the Mueller probe.”

He added that he believes that Mueller will issue more indictments and reveal even more damaging information linking people from Trump’s inner circle to Russia, thus proving a conspiracy to rig the election and undermine democracy.

“I can’t believe [Mueller] has been working all this time just to say: Sorry, nothing to see here,” said Lichtman. “I think there are going to be some very serious findings from Mueller directly tying the Trump campaign to the Russians.”

What’s more, he noted, it is not just the Mueller probe that Trump has to worry about. There are also the various other criminal investigations that extend down to the state level, including one by New York’s aggressive attorney general and another by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Liability for Republicans?

Lichtman is not just convinced that Trump will be impeached. He also sees an increasing likelihood that Trump will actually be ousted from the presidency, which many other political experts still consider unlikely. If the House votes to impeach Trump, removing him from office requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate. Republicans still control that body by a 51-49 majority, meaning a substantial number of GOP lawmakers would have to vote to oust a president who is a member of their own party.

Such a scenario is less unrealistic than it sounds, said Lichtman, pointing to the steady drip of incriminating information from the Mueller probe and Trump’s conduct in office that is beginning to take its toll on Republicans — a sentiment backed up by the recent midterm results. With presidential and Congressional elections in which Senate Republicans face a much less favorable electoral map than this year just around the corner in 2020, the GOP may be ready to cut Trump loose.

Pence, not Pelosi

“The way in which Trump could be impeached and removed would be if Republicans think he is going to drag them down with him,” said Lichtman. “They don’t have any personal loyalty to Trump. They are worried about antagonizing his base and losing Republican primaries. But if they think he is going to be a political liability, they may be willing to abandon him.”

He viewed Senator Marco Rubio’s recent remark that it would be a “terrible mistake” for Trump to pardon his former campaign manager Paul Manafort as an indicator that some influential Republicans may be ready to reconsider their support for the president, should circumstances merit it.

“Republicans supported [Richard] Nixon until the evidence became so overwhelming that he was a tremendous liability to them,” said Lichtman, referring to the former GOP president who resigned in 1974 during the Watergate scandal. “I am not saying he won’t survive, but I am saying it’s unlikely.”

And, he added, “Let’s not forget: If Trump is removed they don’t get Nancy Pelosi as president, they get Mike Pence, someone who most Republicans in Congress vastly prefer to Trump.

 

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

December 29, 2018

by Dr. Peter Janney

 

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas  in 1993  when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications.

 

Conversation No. 12

Date: Thursday, May 2, 1996

Commenced: 8:45 AM CST

Concluded: 9:22 AM CST

 

GD: Good day to you, Robert. How goes the battle with you?

RTC: I think I’m slowly losing ground, Gregory, but I’m still fighting.

GD: I’ve been fighting for years so I understand the concept.

RTC: I hear the Germans are not happy over some of your writings. You are disturbing the Jewish community with your allegations that we hired the head of the Gestapo.

GD: Who cares?

RTC: You heard the old saying that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? Well, the Beltway has no fury like a Jew ignored. How dare we hire the head of the Gestapo? How could we do such a thing to them? They are the Chosen of God, after all.

GD: What did God choose them for? To stand in the shower lines in some Polish camp?

RTC: Oh, now, Gregory, show some compassion.

GD: My God, why should any of us care about all of those nonsense stories? Lampshades and cakes of soap, my ass.

RTC: We are all supposed to care about that, Gregory. And if they use it right, they can get discount airline tickets and something off on that new sofa.

GD: Stunning revelations indeed, Robert. Another group of obnoxious nuts.

RTC: Believe me, Gregory, there are far worse.

GD: Who? The Pedophile’s Protective League? The Bellowing Jesus Freaks of Bad Seepage, Ohio?

RTC: There are worse things in this world than the Society of Professional Hebrew Moaners.

GD: The Sackcloth and Ashes League? The Humpback’s Tuesday Afternoon Bridge Club?

RTC: Why don’t you try the Scientologists? Now that group is really something to contemplate.

GD: I’ve read a little about them but not much. Started by some old faker named Hubbard. L. Ron Hubbard. I used to be a science fiction nut and I remember reading one of his stories years ago. Awful writing. Sounded like it was written by a ten year old.

RTC: That’s the one. He may have been an awful writer but he was a class A conman. Those people made more Goddam trouble for us. They were running all over the Med in the ‘60s in some rusty tub called the Royal Scotsman. My God, what a ship of fools that was. We were getting requests from DoS and other people to look into them. All over the place, docking here and there, chasing frantic deserters into towns, screaming at people…my God what a circus that one was. And old Hubbard waddling around in some naval uniform, shouting at people one minute and trying to bribe some public official on shore the next.

GD: That I knew nothing about.

RTC: We did, believe me. Hubbard was as crazy as a loon and Washington was afraid he would start a war. You ever read about them?

GD: Just something here and there. Hubbard died, didn’t he?

RTC: Yes, about ten years ago. His people got rid of him because he was getting to be a flaming nut and threatened to fire all of his top people. Since their scam brought in about a million dollars a day, those at the top had no intention of allowing a fat, old psychotic liar push them out.

GD: Was that in the press?

RTC: No. Hubbard was a raging paranoid, among other failings, and was convinced that everyone was out to get him so he went into hiding. That was where he was, out in California, when they gave him the needle. Of course they got the old idiot to sign a will leaving them everything and in with the drugs. As I recall, they cremated him as fast as possible and dumped his ashes into the Pacific off the stern of a sardine boat.

GD: Sic transit Gloria mundi, Robert

RTC: Isn’t that always the truth?

GD: How did they make a million a day? Print it?

RTC: No, Barnum was right, Gregory. There is a sucker born every minute. When I took Jim’s files out of there, I got the Scientology file, too. Three large boxes of files. My son read through some of them and said it sounded like a group therapy session over at St. Elizabeth’s The money? It came from legions and more legions of suckers who flocked to the tin can boys and paid until they were broke.

GD: Tin cans?

RTC: Yes. Hubbard had a very simple device that registered electrical skin responses. Works like the polygraph but has no value. We all have these electrical impulse things and of course the little needle jumps around. They have so called experts called auditors who tell the mark that this is helping to clear up their psyche so they can go out into the real world without a bag over their head. We know, and I am sure you do too, that the world is full of failures and worse. Now, instead of hanging themselves or jumping in front of Amtrak trains, they can grab the tin cans and let someone tell them that being ugly, stupid or a failure is really not their fault. Others are to blame. Of course they will never be free of their loads of guilt until the auditor tells them they are OK and that day never comes. As long as the marks have money, the tin cans are grasped and the wallets slowly empty. When it does, the sucker is tossed out on the street and then, broke, they jump off of railroad bridges and make messes on the tracks.

GD: A million a day?

RTC: Oh yes, at least. Hubbard once said that if a man wanted to be really rich, he should found a religion.

GD: Faking it with tin cans and some worthless meter is not a religion.

RTC: Oh, they turned it into one. They have a lock on a number of frustrated fanatics, fueled by vast sums of money pouring in from the army of suckers.

GD: You mentioned a boat?

RTC: Oh yes, in the 80’s, old Hubbard got it into his head that powerful forces were after him so he bought an old boat, filled it up with nuts and off they went, cruising all over the place and creating diplomatic havoc. Later, he got tired of his admiral’s uniform so he took over some town in Florida and terrorized the normal people before moving on to California, the true home of fruits and nuts. And in the meantime, before Hebe the Yench and the Dwarf, Miscarriage, terminated him, old Hubbard had his crazy followers break into government building and steal sensitive files. Of course they got caught but Hubbard claimed ignorance. He wasn’t stupid by any means but he had Borderline Personality disorder and couldn’t tell the truth when a lie would suffice.

GD: Who are the Hebe and the Dwarf?

RTC: In house for Heber Jentsch and David Miscavage. The first one is a front and the dwarf is the one who runs the show now that his founder is floating on the surf. Oh, you should read the nonsense….Gregory, do you know what a DC 3 is?

GD: Certainly. It’s an older commercial jet.

RTC: Hubbard said, and the ninnies still believe, that certain superior aliens, the father of all of the more enlightened of us, were brought to Earth from Venus millions of years ago on DC 3s.

GD: Robert…

RTC(Laughter) No, I’m serious. We don’t need to even discuss this moronic crap but thousands of panting believers accept it as the truth. The problem is, while they have stopped running around in the boat, they now try to take over small towns and are heavy in the electronics business. And of course swindling fools out of Daddy’s trust fund.

GD: You have material on them?

RTC: Yes, I do, Gregory.

GD: Any chance I could see it?

RTC: Of course, I can dig it out and ship it to you. But a word of caution here, Gregory, never try to use it.

GD: Why not?

RTC: My God, these twits sue everyone in sight for no reason. If you wrote that all up, they would sue you, your dog, your neighbors, your dead grandmother, your school and probably the mailman. The word ‘crazy’ is too mild to use in conjunction here. But, I will send this off to you with my caveat.

GD: You know, my sister’s cat keeps crapping on her bed. Maybe I could stuff it into a tin can and read the meter.

RTC: (Laughter) Be my guest. Why not audit a cat?

GD: I used to think it was books that were audited.

RTC: Gregory, these people can’t read books.

GD: Speaking of books, Bender is going ahead with the Mueller series so I guess Wolfe will hiss at you in the Archives like Loki.

RTC: Bill and I will look forward to the new books, Gregory. And we do need to get together in person sometime, right here. It’s safe enough here.

GD: Should we invite Kimmel?

RTC: Gregory, I have enough problems from the Justice people over you without fanning the flames. I think you love to fan the flames. Have you ever considered a gracious retirement?

GD: That takes money, Robert.

RTC: Yes, that it does. Sell more books.

GD: That’s not my bailiwick. Maybe I could start a religion, Robert. Tell people I came from Venus and if they are good, and give me lots of money, I can elevate them to a huge and invisible flying saucer and take them to Pluto where the men will have huge peckers and the women get to eat a ton of chocolates a day and not gain a pound. And they will all live forever and never worry about falling hair or sagging breasts. Why? Because I will turn them all into little green toads and eventually feed them to the Great God Dagon.

RTC: Well, that way we would get rid of everyone in Los Angeles and Washington.

GD: And our magic spaceship will be a 707 and we can call it the Ship of Fools.

RTC: I will look up those files for you Gregory.

GD: Thanks. It will beat reading the obits in the paper, looking for dead enemies.

 

(Concluded at 9:22 AM CST)

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