TBR News December 4, 2018

Dec 04 2018

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

Washington, D.C. December 4, 2018: “”The Internet has an enormous storehouse of information and nearly any desired material can be located and downloaded. That is the positive aspect of the Internet. The negative side is that the Internet supplies an enormous flood of false, misleading and useless information, almost all of invented out of whole cloth by the same types that also have rushed to join, and use, what is known as the Social Network.

The Social Networks are a handy means for persons to express their personal views on almost any subject and to communicate with others of a like mind. The problem that one notes from reading their postings is the same one observes in reading the comments appended to serious articles on major newspapers. In reading both of these areas, one is at once struck by the utter stupidity of the writers, their total lack of understanding the English lauguage, their constant bad grammar and terrible spelling and, most important, their desire not to express a thoughtful view but to parade their insignificance and ignorance to a wide audience.

Another negative aspect of the Social Network is that, at least in the United States, all of the networks of any size are working closely with such official governmental agencies as the DHS and the FBI, to spy on their members at no cost or effort to themselves. In these cases, the mindless babblings and boastings of the dim of wit load federal surveillance files with moronic chatters from which the authorities can easily build a criminal case.”


The Table of Contents


  • France revolts against Emmanuel Macron and the elite
  • Students blockade schools as French protests spread
  • France suspends fuel tax rise after wave of violent protests
  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 97
  • The Mueller investigation is closing in on Trump
  • Trump’s countless scams are finally catching up to him
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations



France revolts against Emmanuel Macron and the elite

Representatives of the “yellow vest” demonstrators have called off talks with the French government, though it was doubtful they would’ve ended the protests. The gap between the people and their government is deepening.

December 3, 2018

by Andreas Noll


Still under the impression of Saturday’s dramatic events, the prefect chose his words to the public with care. “There was the will of the protesters to kill people,” said Yves Rousset, who represents the French state in the department of Haute-Loire.

This past weekend, angry “yellow vest” protesters burned down his workplace, the prefecture in the tranquil town of Le Puy-en-Velay. Demonstrators hurled bricks through the windows and lobbed Molotov cocktails into the building. People were shocked at the unbridled protests in a pilgrimage town that is seen as the heart of Catholic France. Usually, political shockwaves from the capital are not noticeable that far away, more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of Paris.

Schools next?

Things are different these days. A largely uncoordinated wave of protest has spread across the country, and quickly. From Brest to Strasbourg, from Lille to Marseille, demonstrators have blocked tollbooths, roads and fuel depots and gathered for protest marches, clad in yellow safety vests. The movement could continue to pick up speed. On Monday morning, protesters supported by demonstrators wearing yellow vests blocked about 100 schools nationwide in protest to the government’s education policy.

The French media are pondering the government’s race against time. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and his ministers face a difficult task: they have to come across as tough but at the same time willing to engage in dialogue. The protests have been so intense in the capital and other cities for two weekends in a row that tourists spoke of civil war-like conditions. It is a declaration of political bankruptcy for Interior Minister Christoph Castaner, who has been in office for just one-and-a-half months. Under all circumstances, he and his overburdened police forces feel they must prevent a third weekend of chaos.

However, representatives of the “yellow vest” movement said Monday that they would no longer participate in Tuesday’s planned talks with Philippe, citing “security reasons.” Philippe’s office had also said on Monday he would announce “measures” in favor of the protesters.

Anger at the establishment

Emiliano Grossman, a political scientist at the Paris Sciences Po research university, believes the government needs to engage directly with the protesters, who are successful for partly contradictory reasons. On the one hand there is the old contrast between the Parisian Bobos — the “rich left” who are committed to environmental protection — and the conservative people who live on the outskirts of the cities and feel neglected by the government, he said. On the other hand, there are the many people annoyed that very quickly after taking office, Macron abolished the wealth tax — which only the rich pay, Grossman added. “Now the eco tax is being raised, a tax everyone will have to pay,” he said, adding that these days, neither the left-wing nor the right-wing in France feel represented by the Parisian establishment.

Basically, Macron is right back where he started his presidency, when 24 percent of the voters backed for him in the first round of the election. A year-and-a-half later, his popularity hasn’t increased much.

Foreign leaders are also watching the French president’s trial by fire. “Not to overstate the point, but if other countries get the impression that this president hasn’t got his country under control properly, that is bound to affect his credibility and assertiveness on the international stage,” said Henrik Uterwedde of the Franco-German Institute in Ludwigsburg.

Riots in the streets

The domestic situation is complicated by the fact efforts at political mediation have largely failed. The trade unions and political parties that used to dominate the scene are in a deep crisis. A year-and-a-half after their disastrous election defeat in the presidential and parliamentary elections, the Socialists and the conservative Republicans have yet to recover

And the president’s party isn’t doing well, either. At the weekend, La Republique en Marche elected a new chairman, Interior Minister Castaner. The 52-year-old is a Macron confidante, but he is largely unknown to the public. The movement has no profile, said Uterwedde. It it has not managed to structure itself “in a way that it can stand by Macron as a friendly but also critical partner and absorb the people’s concerns, needs and demands.” Protests in the street appear to many people to be the only way to correct a seemingly omnipotent president who wants to hold on to his reform course, but must instead make concessions.

No relief in sight

The demands from the streets are for the most part uncoordinated. The movement began as a protest against higher diesel and gasoline taxes, but it has since expanded to include demands for Macron’s resignation, new elections and increasing purchasing power, all of which are splashed across the banners of protesters aiming for more structure. “One of the demands they will probably return to is raising the minimum wage, which probably makes no sense from a macroeconomic point of view,” said Grossman.

However, it appears the political dynamics in Paris are difficult to predict these days.


Students blockade schools as French protests spread

About 100 schools under blockade while prime minister meets opposition leaders

December 3, 2018

by Angelique Chrisafis in Paris

The Guardian

The French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, has met opposition party leaders as nationwide protests continue to spread across France, with students blockading about 100 schools.

After thousands of masked protesters fought running battles with police and burned cars, buildings and barricades in the most affluent areas of Paris on Saturday, the gilets jaunes – or yellow vests – citizens’ protest movement continued on Monday with peaceful anti-government demonstrations at barricades on roads and at fuel depots across France.

High-school students – who have been protesting against changes to colleges and the university system – also seized on the mood of protest and stepped up their blockades.

About 100 high schools were fully or partially blockaded around the country, including in the southern city of Toulouse and in Créteil in the Paris area.

Seven teenagers were arrested after riot police were called to the Jean-Pierre Timbaud high school in Aubervilliers in the northern Paris suburbs where a car was overturned and bins were set alight.

French authorities traditionally fear high school students joining protests because their demonstrations often spread fast. An official at the education authority in Créteil said: “Pretexts are clearly being used to commit urban violence.”

An 80-year-old woman died in Marseille on Monday after she was hit by a police teargas grenade on Saturday. She was inside her apartment and had opened her windows to close her shutters when she was hit by the grenade as police confronted protesters. She died in hospital after surgery.

Meanwhile, 11 fuel depots across France were shut down after being blockaded by protesters. More than 70 petrol stations had run out of fuel and restrictions were in place in Brittany on how much fuel motorists could purchase.

An opinion poll for Harris Interactive taken after Saturday’s violence in Paris found 72% of French people still supported the protest movement that began last month in response to a rise in environmental taxes on fuel and has morphed into opposition to the government of the centrist president, Emmanuel Macron, amid a sense that the tax system is unfair and favours the rich.

The prime minister is expected to meet protesters’ representatives on Tuesday, but the grassroots movement, which emerged on social media, has no leadership nor a defined structure. One Paris representative said he had received death threats warning him not to meet the government.

Jacline Mouraud, one of the protest movement’s prime instigators, said scrapping the fuel tax was a “prerequisite for any discussion” with the government.

Macron’s challenge in calming the widespread anger against the government is complicated by his own desire not to yield to street protests, which repeatedly forced his predecessors into U-turns.

“Thinking that, as we have always done for 30 years, that you make a little symbolic gesture and then we sweep the dust under the carpet, that doesn’t resolve the fundamental, structural problem,” the government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said, implying the government would not make major concessions.

Most opposition politicians urged the government to abandon a planned tax on fuel that was to begin in January; the only exception was the Green party, which said instead that tax must be fairer.

Laurent Wauquiez, the hardline leader of the rightwing Les Républicains party, said Macron should call a referendum on carbon tax “to let the people’s voice be heard”, but did not specify exactly what form a referendum would take.

The economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, said the solution for tackling the low purchasing power of struggling families lay in reducing the tax burden in France, which is among the highest in Europe.

“We must speed up the reduction of taxes,” he said. “But for that we must speed up the decrease in public spending.”

Saturday’s violence in Paris has alarmed the French business community, which claims it has already lost billions of euros, as representatives met the economy minister.

Hotel unions said bookings were down 15%. Retailers in Paris and other cities in which there were violent protests on Saturday, such as Toulouse, said they had suffered major losses in the crucial run-up to Christmas.


France suspends fuel tax rise after wave of violent protests

French PM announces price freeze but says further violence will not be tolerated

December 4, 2018

by Kim Willsher in Paris

The Guardian

The French government has suspended plans to introduce an eco-fuel tax after three weeks of increasingly violent protests across the country.

Bowing to pressure from the street, the prime minister, Édouard Philippe, also announced an immediate freeze on gas and electricity prices, but he warned further violence would not be tolerated.

Philippe’s announcement came after he met cabinet ministers on Tuesday morning to agree a response to a weekend of rioting, looting and destruction in Paris by an extreme fringe of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement.

The tax on petrol and diesel, due to increase next month in a move towards cleaner fuels, had prompted national demonstrations that quickly grew to encompass wider anger and frustration at the country’s leaders.

The president, Emmanuel Macron, had repeatedly vowed not to give in to street rule, but has been forced to reconsider after the worst violence in Paris in half a century.

“Thousands of French have expressed their anger,” Philippe said in a televised statement. This anger goes back a long way and has often remained silent. Today it’s being expressed with force and in a collective way.”

He added: “One would have to be deaf and blind not to see or hear this. I hear this anger and I have understood its basis, its force and its seriousness. It is the anger of the French who work and work hard, but still have difficulty making ends meet, who find their backs against the wall.

“They have a sense of profound injustice at not being able to live a dignified life when they are working.”

The prime minister announced that two controversial measures due to be introduced next month, the increase in fuel prices and new tougher rules on vehicle checks, would be suspended for six months.

He also promised consultations on possible measures to help those who work far from home and changes in the tax system, which he said was complex and the most onerous in Europe.

“If events of the last days have shown anything, it is that the French do not want any more taxes or charges. No tax merits putting in danger national unity.”

It remains to be seen whether the measures are enough to calm the volatile situation in France that resulted in parts of one of the most exclusive areas of Paris being set on fire on Saturday as protesters torched cars and buildings and looted luxury goods stores around the Champs Élysées and Arc de Triomphe.

The gilets jaunes have called for a further protest in Paris this Saturday.

Philippe said the right and freedom to demonstrate was “fundamental in France”, but added: “We will not accept the violence we saw last weekend. If there is a new day of mobilisation, it must be declared [registered with police in advance] and happen calmly.”

On Monday, Macron held an emergency meeting at the Élysée Palace to deal with the political and social crisis, the most serious since he was elected on a centrist, reforming programme in May 2017.

Stanislas Guerini, the leader of Macron’s La République En Marche parliamentary group, told French radio: “While there’s a debate, we stop writing, have a pause … there has to be a pause so the debate can happen.”

Philippe was due to meet representatives from the gilets jaunes on Tuesday afternoon, but the meeting was cancelled after the unofficial representatives were allegedly threatened and disowned by other protesters.

The protest movement, which has no central organisation or leaders, has broadened its demands to include Macron’s resignation and the dissolution of the French parliament.

Benjamin Cauchy, a spokesperson for the gilets jaunes libres (free yellow vests) subgroup, said the movement’s demands included a redistribution of wealth as well as rises in salaries, pensions, social security payments and the minimum wage. He insisted the dialogue between the government and protesters did not have to be face to face.

“This is the 21st century and dialogue can happen by social networks and the media even without a meeting,” Cauchy said. “This started with ecological transition but what France wants is political transition.” He said protests should be “pacifist”.

Macron has postponed a two-day visit to Serbia this week to deal with the crisis. On Saturday, police fought running battles with masked protesters who painted graffiti on the Arc de Triomphe, pulled down iron railings at the Tuileries Gardens, torched cars, set fire to buildings and looted luxury stores.

Police arrested 378 people. Officers said many were older males – aged between 30 and 40 – from outside the French capital who had come intending to fight police.


Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 97

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

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 teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

  • Aug 2, 2018

“Pennsylvania has to love Trump because unlike all of the others before me, I am bringing STEEL BACK in a VERY BIG way. Plants opening up in Pennsylvania, and all over the Country…”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There have been no news reports of steel plants re-opening or being built in Pennsylvania. “I am not aware of any new or re-opening steel plants or parts thereof in the state of PA,” Chris Plummer, managing director of Pittsburgh-based steel industry consulting and research firm Metal Strategies, said in an email.

“Charles Koch of Koch Brothers, who claims to be giving away millions of dollars to politicians even though I know very few who have seen this (?)…”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump strongly suggested, though didn’t quite say, that Koch is lying in his assertion that he is donating millions to politicians. Koch isn’t. Koch Industries donated $1.3 million to Republican candidates in the 2016 election cycle and has donated $1.1 million to Republican candidates so far in the 2018 election cycle, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. (The great majority of Koch donations have been to outside groups engaged in election spending rather than to candidates themselves. In the 2012 election cycle, for example, the Center for Responsive Politics estimated that $86 million, “or more than one-fourth of all dark money spending reported in 2012,” came “in the form of grants from other Koch-linked groups.”)

“We make the greatest missiles. We have the anti-missile missiles that shoot down missiles many, many miles away in the sky, like a needle in a haystack. They shoot them down, hard to believe. And we’re surrounding our country with them, by the way, if you don’t mind. Remember what other countries said? ‘We don’t want you to put defensive mishes (sic) and missiles in your country.’ You don’t want us to put — explain that to me, please. Remember? They used to get angry when we would put defensive missiles, anti-missile missiles in our country. And so we wouldn’t do it.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Experts told the Star that it is false that the U.S. has previously abandoned missile defense systems because other countries have gotten angry and objected. “The answer is no. Of course, Russia has objected to U.S. missile defenses, especially those deployed and planned to be deployed near Russia’s borders, but that has not stopped the U.S. from building such systems,” said Philip Coyle, Senior Science Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and a longtime former senior defense official who served as, among several other things, Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director, Operational Test and Evaluation from 1994 to 2001. John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, said “the U.S. has pretty much ploughed ahead and deployed things as soon as they were thought to be ready, and even before they were ready, merely available.”

“We make the greatest missiles. We have the anti-missile missiles that shoot down missiles many, many miles away in the sky, like a needle in a haystack. They shoot them down, hard to believe. And we’re surrounding our country with them, by the way, if you don’t mind. Remember what other countries said? ‘We don’t want you to put defensive mishes (sic) and missiles in your country.’ You don’t want us to put — explain that to me, please. Remember? They used to get angry when we would put defensive missiles, anti-missile missiles in our country. And so we wouldn’t do it.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Experts told the Star that it is false that Trump is “surrounding our country” with missile defense systems. Philip Coyle, senior science fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and a longtime former senior defense official who served as, among several other things, Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director, Operational Test and Evaluation from 1994 to 2001, said the U.S. has a “poor” ground-based missile defense system based in Fort Greely, Alaska, “with a few more interceptor missiles at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.” He added that the U.S. also has missile defense systems in Japan, South Korea, and Romania, and on U.S. Navy ships at sea — but this does not qualify as “surrounding our country.” John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, also said “surrounding our country” is false; he called the U.S. anti-missile system “a thin shield against a small attack.”

“We’ve invested a record $700 billion in our military and $716 billion next year.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Neither of these military spending bills is a record, even if you ignore inflation. As the New York Times noted, Obama signed a $725 billion version of the same bill in 2011.

Trump has repeated this claim 11 times

“And very importantly, we saved our family farms and our small businesses from the estate tax, also known as the death tax. No longer the death tax. No longer will they pay the estate tax, our family farmers.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Contrary to Trump’s suggestion, very few farmers or small businesspeople were paying the estate 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 percent of the total estate tax revenue.”

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“In the numbers that were just released — the reporters didn’t cover this one; to me it was maybe more important than the 4.1, because we’re going to be doing a lot better than 4.1 as things go — for the first time maybe ever, the trade deficit just fell — think of that — by, for the quarter, $52 billion. Nobody reports it. Why don’t you report that? Just fell by $52 billion.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: The U.S. trade deficit is actually higher so far in 2018 than it was at this point in 2017. (Earlier in July, for example, Trump’s Bureau of Economic Analysis issued a report, for May, that said: “Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit increased $17.9 billion, or 7.9 per cent, from the same period in 2017. Exports increased $84.5 billion or 8.8 per cent. Imports increased $102.4 billion or 8.6 per cent.”) Trump was making a more unusual kind of comparison: he was pointing to a decline from the trade deficit in the first quarter of 2018 to the trade deficit in the second quarter of 2018. However, as FactCheck.org, the Washington Post and others have explained, he was doing even this inaccurately. The president was simply taking the raw numbers in the report — $902.4 billion for the first quarter, $849.9 billion for the second quarter — and subtracting the second-quarter number from the first, which gave a result of $52 billion. There are two problems here: these are not actually quarterly numbers; they are expressed on an annual basis. And they are not in today’s dollars; they are expressed in inflation-adjusted terms. To do an accurate version of Trump’s quarter-by-quarter comparison, experts told both outlets, you have to make sure you’re using the current-day version of the figures; divide them by four, for the four quarters; and then, only then, do the subtraction Trump did right away. When you do that, you get a $21.7 billion decline, not a $52 billion decline.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“And then it got bigger and bigger and wilder and wilder, and then we won by a lot. Don’t forget it was 306 to 223; that’s a lot. Remember?”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Hillary Clinton earned 232 electoral votes, not 223. This was not a one-time slip: it was the 12th time Trump said she got “223.”

Trump has repeated this claim 12 times

“Manufacturing, consumer and business confidence has reached the highest level in the history of our country.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Consumer confidence is not at an all-time high, nor even a high for this century. The Conference Board consumer confidence rose to 127.4 in July. The index stood at 132.6 in November 2000.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“The women’s unemployment rate — I’m sorry, women, damn it — is the lowest in only 65 years, not history…I’m doing my best. Fifty-two per cent. Oh, the women liked me, you know. They liked me. They liked me.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: With the “52 per cent,” Trump was making his usual false claim that he received the votes of 52 per cent of women in the 2016 election. In fact, Trump earned the votes of 52 per cent of white women, according to exit polls, not 52 per cent of all women.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“The women’s unemployment rate — I’m sorry, women, damn it — is the lowest in only 65 years, not history. Sorry. But it’ll be low soon. It’ll be — so it’s 65 years, 65 years. But I would almost bet within two weeks or the next time this incredible statistical group is relaxed and released, I would say that probably the women will be historic also, right? Right? I think so.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: This claim about women was no longer almost-true at the time Trump spoke. It was close to true as of the previous month: the women’s unemployment rate for May, reported in June, was 3.6 per cent, the same as in 1953, 65 years prior. But it rose to 4 per cent in June, reported in July, which was merely the lowest since 2017 — or, if you’re only counting pre-Trump years, the lowest since 2000, 18 years prior. (For the record, Trump’s prediction about what would happen “within two weeks” was also false: in the next unemployment report, the July report released this same week, the rate for women dropped only to 3.9 per cent, still not a 65-year low or an all-time low.)

Trump has repeated this claim 14 times

“Remember when Bill Clinton got up, he said, ‘The problem with the Affordable Care Act is that it’s not affordable’? And then you didn’t hear from him for two weeks because he got the hell knocked out of him by Crooked Hillary. For two weeks he went dead silent. They wouldn’t let him out of the house.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: That is not exactly what Bill Clinton said; he said the “current system” of health care worked well for various people — such as “if you’re eligible for Medicaid, if you’re a lower income working person, if you’re already on Medicare, or if you get enough subsidies on a modest income that you can afford your health care” — but that it was “crazy” that others, particularly the “small businesspeople and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies,” were facing significantly higher costs. Regardless, it is not true that Bill Clinton was immediately silenced by his wife after making these remarks. He spoke at two events in Ohio the very next day, two more the day after that.

“Make America Great Again, maybe the greatest slogan ever, right? Ronald Reagan had one, Let’s Make America Great. I like it, but ours is better.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Trump omitted the last word of Reagan’s 1980 slogan, which was the same as his own: the slogan was Let’s Make America Great Again

“Since the election, we’ve added a number that nobody would have believed, and that I would have never said on the campaign trail — I wouldn’t have said it, because they would have done a big number on me — 3.7 million new jobs…”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: It is not true that nobody would have believed 3.7 million jobs could be added over this 19-month period. In the previous 19-month period, under Obama, 4.0 million jobs were added.

Trump has repeated this claim 16 times

“Don’t forget, I approved the Keystone XL pipeline and I approved the Dakota Access pipeline, 48,000 jobs in, like, my first few hours in office.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Trump did not approve either pipeline in his first few hours in office. He issued executive orders four days into his presidency to advance the two pipelines, but they did not grant final approval then. Trump actually approved Keystone XL two months into his presidency; the government announced the approval of the Dakota Access pipeline three weeks into his presidency.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“You know, we’re setting record numbers in terms of positive stuff, but we just have bad laws. So catch and release. You catch him, now you take his name and then you release him. And he’s supposed to show up to a court hearing…So, they come back three or four years later but here’s the problem: They never come back. They don’t come back. Why the hell would they come back? So, a very tiny percentage comes back.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: It is not true that people “never come back” for their immigration hearings. A 2017 report released by the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that advocates a hard line on illegal immigration, concluded that 37 per cent of people who were free pending trial did not show up for hearings over the past two decades. The author of the report, a former immigration judge, said the number was 39 per cent in 2016. In other words, even according to vehement opponents of illegal immigration, most unauthorized immigrants are indeed showing up for court.

Trump has repeated this claim 10 times

“Remember when I said about a month ago I said, ‘No, I don’t want to’ — they want me to hire thousands of judges, thousands — can you imagine the corruption that would take place, you’re hiring thousands? You go into a barber shop, ‘Anybody want to be a judge? We need judges.’ They want me to hire thousands. I said, ‘We don’t need judges. We need Border Patrol. We need Border Patrol.'”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: At the time Trump spoke, there was no mainstream proposal to hire thousands more immigration judges. Congress had allocated money for 484 immigration judges; fewer than 400 were actually in place. Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had recently proposed to hire 375 more, while other Republican senators were proposing to hire 225 more.

Trump has repeated this claim 12 times

“And this animal (Sayfullo Saipov, the alleged perpetrator of the terror attack on Manhattan’s West Side Highway in 2017) killed eight and he wounded eight or nine. Some are still in the hospital; that was a year and a half ago. And he came in through chain, and he has 22 relatives here that came in because he was here. He has his uncle and his aunt and he has his grandfather.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: There is no evidence that Saipov, the alleged perpetrator of the terror attack in 2017 on Manhattan’s West Side Highway, brought 22 relatives into the U.S. Even Trump’s own aides have declined to endorse this claim, and even anti-immigration advocates say it is wildly improbable that one man with a green card could have sponsored 22 people.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“So, this bad guy that ran over and killed eight people on the West Side Highway in New York City — a place I know very well — driving like 80 miles an hour in a 20-mile zone. And then he said, ‘Hey, look, there’s people. Nice people. They’re relaxing. Some are jogging. Beautiful park along the Hudson River.’ He decides to kill them. So he makes a right turn. He killed eight and many are just decapitated. They lost arms. They lost limbs. They lost so much.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Nobody lost an arm in the terror attack on Manhattan’s West Side Highway in 2017. The Associated Press reported that one woman, a Belgian tourist, lost two legs. The commissioner of New York’s fire department offered corroboration, saying the attack led to one double amputation.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“Now, do you think that these countries, many of whom get aid from us and then they send — remember when I did, I hate to say it, coming down the escalator, the beautiful first lady in the white dress coming down that escalator, that big, big beautiful day? When everybody said, ‘Oh, he’s just doing this for fun. He doesn’t really mean it.’ Man, if I don’t mean it, I hope you’re telling me soon, because it’s a lot of work. But coming down the escalator, and you remember what I said, ‘They’re sending.’ Do you remember that? ‘They’re sending.’ And I mentioned words — I won’t even mention them tonight because there’s a lot of young people here, but I mentioned words and everybody thought it was wonderful. But then about two days later they said, ‘Did he say this? Did he say that?’ Guess what? What I said is peanuts compared to what turns out to be the truth. It’s peanuts. So — so, we’re going to have not lottery where you pick it out. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, our first lottery winner.’ You know, they think we’re playing, like, a game show. ‘Our first lottery winner. Let’s see he has seven convictions for death. He’s killed nine people. And we’re getting him the hell out of our country and giving them to the stupid politicians that have been running the United States for many years. And we’re going to send him up there because he just won the lottery. Congratulations. Congratulations.’ Yeah, that’s a beauty.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: This is, as usual, a comprehensively inaccurate description of the U.S. green card lottery. The lottery is conducted by the U.S. itself, not by foreign countries. Foreign governments do not “send” their criminals into the lottery to rid themselves of these bad apples; individuals apply of their own free will, because they want to immigrate. Finally, anyone who is selected in the lottery is subjected to a U.S. background check before being granted entry.

Trump has repeated this claim 21 times

“Then you have chain migration. Chain migration. And this was a Schumer deal. Schumer wanted this. Schumer. You have chain migration.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: “Chain migration,” more widely known as family unification, cannot be fairly described as a “Schumer deal”: it has existed since before Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer was even born. As the New York Times wrote: “Mr. Trump is likely confusing the diversity lottery program with “chain migration” or family-based immigration. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the Senate minority leader, sponsored what became the diversity visa lottery in 1990, but family-based immigration has been a facet of American immigration policy long before Mr. Schumer’s political career began. Family relationships have been a basis for admitting new immigrants since the 1920s, according to the Congressional Research Service, and the United States began promoting family reunification in 1952, which established a hierarchy that prioritized family members like spouses and children over siblings.”

“Bob Casey wants to fire the incredible men and women of ICE. He wants to abolish ICE, because he’s weak.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Casey, the Democratic senator for Pennsylvania, is opposed to abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “ICE abolished? No, for sure,” Casey said in July, PennLive reported. He continued: “I hope we have ICE focused on bad guys instead of current policy where they are dealing with families and kids at the border. I don’t agree with the call to eliminate it.”

“We’re building it. So, we’ve started the wall, $1.6 billion.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Construction on Trump’s border wall has not started. When he has made this claim in the past, Trump has appeared to be referring to a project in which a 2.25-mile stretch of existing wall in California is being replaced by a taller wall. That project was proposed in 2009, and the Los Angeles Times reported that Border Patrol spokesperson Jonathan Pacheco told reporters in March: “First and foremost, this isn’t Trump’s wall. This isn’t the infrastructure that Trump is trying to bring in. … This new wall replacement has absolutely nothing to do with the prototypes that were shown over in the San Diego area.” 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 repeated this claim 20 times

“So I then go up and meet the Queen and she is fantastic. We then go up and we have tea. And I didn’t know this, it was supposed to last for 15 minutes, but it lasted for, like, an hour because we got along. We got along.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Trump’s tea with the Queen was scheduled for 30 minutes, not 15, according to various U.K. and U.S. news outlets. It lasted for 47 minutes or 48 minutes, not an hour.

“So I was hearing — I had landed and I’m on the grounds and I’m waiting with the King’s and with the Queen’s guards. Wonderful people. I’m waiting. So I was about 15 minutes early and I’m waiting with my wife. And that’s fine. Hey, it’s the Queen right? We can wait. But I’m a little early.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: The BBC reported that Trump was not late, despite televised images of the Queen standing alone and checking her watch, but that he was not 15 minutes early either. The BBC explained: “The president arrived almost exactly on time. The TV pictures show that President Trump stepped out of the car at 17:01, and greets the Queen shortly afterwards (he was due to enter the quadrangle at 17:00).” The BBC continued: “From the TV footage we know President Trump’s helicopter landed in the castle grounds at about 16:50, which was on schedule. Let’s assume it took President Trump and the First Lady five minutes to unstrap themselves from their seats, make their way down the steps and get into their car. Then another five minutes to travel the approximately 500m from the landing site to the dais where the Queen was waiting (the vehicle can be seen travelling at walking speed – say about 4mph). That takes us to 17:00 – almost the exact time of the arrival of the presidential vehicle at the Queen’s dais. So not enough time for 15 minutes of waiting time to have elapsed.”

“And, you know — I don’t know if you know, NATO funding was going down. And they said, our other presidents — I won’t be particular. Of course, you’re only dealing with, like, let’s say three people. We won’t go back any further than that — they would come, they would make a speech, they’d say, ‘Could you please pay a little more money? Thank you very much. Well, good luck, everybody.’ They’d leave; nobody would pay. The next one would come, ‘You know NATO, they don’t pay any money. We’re defending Europe. They don’t pay any money. Could you please pay a little bit more money? Thank you very much, everybody. It’s been wonderful meeting you. Thank you very much, Luxembourg. Thank you very much.’ They don’t pay. The next one comes, same thing. And I came I said, ‘Fellas, you’re delinquent, you got to pay. You got to pay.’ And one of the leaders said, ‘Well, Mr. President, could I ask you a question? If we don’t pay, what are you going to do about it?’ I said, ‘Do you want protection or not? Do you want protection or not?’ So I said to my wife, ‘You know, I just raised, like, a couple of hundred billion dollars and it was like so easy. It was so easy.'”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: This story is fictional. NATO funding was not “going down” before Trump took office. While Trump is right that previous U.S. presidents were frustrated with other countries’ reluctance to significantly boost military spending, spending by non-U.S. members was increasing under Obama — by 1.84 per cent in 2015 and 3.08 per cent in 2016, official NATO figures show. Second, there is no evidence that NATO countries agreed at this meeting with Trump to spend “a couple of hundred billion dollars” more. The countries merely agreed to a declaration in which they reiterated their 2014 commitment to spend 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence by 2024: “We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all aspects of the Defence Investment Pledge agreed at the 2014 Wales Summit, and to submit credible national plans on its implementation, including the spending guidelines for 2024.” French President Emmanuel Macron explicitly rejected Trump’s claim about significant additional commitments: “The communique is clear. It reaffirms a commitment to 2 per cent in 2024. That is all,” he said.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“So what happened, he said, last year alone, because of what I did the previous year, we took in $44 billion more. You have to understand, this is money to guard against Russia. I wouldn’t say Putin’s thrilled about that. Not thrilled. 44…So I raised $44 billion last year.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: This is a slight exaggeration even if Trump is given sole credit for the entire military spending increase by NATO countries, which is dubious. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the previous month 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.”

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“NATO has been ripping us. We’ve been defending Europe and they’re not paying their bills. So I went in and I said, ‘Folks, you got to pay up. You’re delinquent.’ They’ll be paying $200 billion. It took me one hour, but it was a rough hour…Now, they will be taking in over a period — short period of years, $200 billion, $200 billion.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: There is no evidence that NATO countries agreed at this meeting to spend $200 billion more on their militaries. The countries merely agreed to a declaration in which they reiterated their 2014 commitment to spend 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence by 2024: “We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all aspects of the Defence Investment Pledge agreed at the 2014 Wales Summit, and to submit credible national plans on its implementation, including the spending guidelines for 2024.” French President Emmanuel Macron explicitly rejected Trump’s claim about significant additional commitments: “The communique is clear. It reaffirms a commitment to 2 per cent in 2024. That is all,” he said.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“NATO has been ripping us. We’ve been defending Europe and they’re not paying their bills. So I went in and I said, ‘Folks, you got to pay up. You’re delinquent.'”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: NATO countries were not “delinquent” before Trump took office. Trump was referring to the fact that some European countries had not been meeting their pledge to spend 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence. But this 2 per cent figure was merely a guideline or target, not an ironclad commitment, and countries’ failure to meet it did not result in bills of any kind. (One could argue that Trump was using “delinquent” in a figurative sense, but he has repeatedly suggested that NATO countries owe the U.S. an actual debt, so we believe he is making a literal claim that is false.)

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“But I got along great with Putin. And everybody said, ‘Wow, that was great. That was great.’ A couple of hours later I started hearing these reports that, you know, they wanted me to walk up — here’s a podium, they wanted me to walk up and go like this [makes punching motion]. They wanted me to go up and have a boxing match. I said, ‘Whatever happened to diplomacy?'”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: It is not true that “everybody” initially praised Trump’s performance at his joint press conference with Putin; even many Republican legislators were critical. It is also not true that his critics wanted him to walk over and physically confront Putin, as Trump has now suggested twice; some of these critics merely said Trump should have professionally denounced Putin from his own spot at the press conference. According to a Wall Street Journal report, it was Trump’s own aides who wanted Trump to get up in Putin’s “face.” The Journal reported: “In preparatory meetings, Mr. Trump and his aides discussed using the indictment to forcefully make the case. The plan was for Mr. Trump to invoke the indictment both in private meetings and in the public news conference afterward, a White House official said. The idea, the official said, was to ‘shove it in Putin’s face and look strong doing it,’ depicting it as hard evidence of Russian crimes against America’s electoral process.”

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“I’ll tell you what: Russia’s very unhappy that Trump won, that I can tell you.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: This is absurd. At their joint press conference just two weeks prior, Russian President Vladimir Putin himself said that he had wanted Trump to win: “Yes, I wanted him to win, because he talked about the normalization of Russian–American relations.” Putin expressed no regrets.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“So I left (the summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un) three months ago. What do I read? They’ve been working on this stuff for 75 years. Obama didn’t do anything. In all fairness, other administrations did nothing. They’ve been working on it for so many decades. What do I read? I left three months ago. ‘Donald Trump isn’t moving fast enough.'”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: “Seventy-five years” is an exaggeration: the two Koreas were still one unified country in 1943. The origins of the North Korean nuclear program are generally traced to 1956, 62 years ago, when nuclear scientists from the Soviet Union began training North Koreans.

“We won Florida quickly. They announced that one early in the night. And we’re doing better — the nice part, we’re doing better in all of these states than we did on election night — much better…”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Polls suggest Trump might indeed have slightly more support in Florida today than he did in the 2016 election, when he got 49 per cent of the vote there. But he is not doing better in “all of these states.” (He did not specify which ones he was talking about.) According to pollster Morning Consult, which tracks state-by-state approval, Trump began his term with positive approval ratings in 38 states. As of July, he had a positive approval rating in only 23 states. He was doing worse than he did on election night in several of the swing states that were central to his victory. For example, he got about 48 per cent of the vote in Pennsylvania; his approval rating there was 46 per cent. He got about 48 per cent of the vote in Michigan; his approval rating there was 44 per cent.

“We’re putting our steel workers back to work at clips that nobody would believe, right? U.S. Steel is opening up seven plants.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Though Trump had been making this claim for a month and a half, there was still no evidence at the time that U.S. Steel is opening seven plants. (Trump originally claimed it was six plants, then seven plants, then, later, eight plants.) At the time Trump spoke, U.S. Steel had only announced a major development at one facility since he introduced his steel tariffs: it said it was restarting two shuttered blast furnaces at its plant in Granite City, Illinois. Chuck Bradford, an industry analyst who follows U.S. Steel, said he was “not aware” of the company opening any other facilities. U.S. Steel told the Washington Post: “To answer your question, we post all of our major operational announcements to our website and report them on earnings calls. Our most recent one pertained to our Granite City ‘A’ blast furnace restart.”

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“Bob Casey was joining President Obama and his horrible attacks on our clean coal industry. Bob Casey was making it absolutely impossible for the miners.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Republicans argue that Casey, the Democratic senator for Pennsylvania, was supportive of “attacks” on the coal industry because of his support for various Obama policies designed to fight climate change; Casey rejects this charge. Casey says he has been a staunch supporter of coal miners, touting his congressional efforts to extend retired miners’ expiring health care benefits. The United Mine Workers of America union evidently does not agree that he is bad for miners: it has endorsed his re-election. Regardless, Trump’s use of “clean coal industry” is inaccurate in itself. Even if one were to believe that there is indeed such a thing as “clean coal,” a term that is the creation of industry spin, the term is not meant to be applied to the entire U.S. coal industry, which is how Trump uses it. The phrase, the New York Times reported, “is often understood to mean coal plants that capture the carbon dioxide emitted from smokestacks and bury it underground as a way of limiting global warming.”

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

“We had regulations that made it impossible to do business in this country. Highways would take 21 years to get approved. We have it down to two years, and it’s going to be one year very shortly.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: While some controversial and complicated infrastructure projects may have taken 21 years to get approved, there is no basis for Trump’s suggestion that this time frame is standard. (He has used several different figures in making this claim in the past; at various events earlier in 2018, he used “20 years,” “19 years” and “17 years.”) The Treasury Department reported under Obama: “Studies conducted for the Federal Highway Administration concluded that the average time to complete a NEPA (environmental) study increased from 2.2 years in the 1970s, to 4.4 years in the 1980s, to 5.1 years in the 1995 to 2001 period, to 6.6 years in 2011.” Further, there is no current evidence that Trump has already succeeded in reducing the standard approval time frame to two years, although he says this is his intention. His Department of Transportation reported a median approval time of 3 years, 10 months in 2017.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“Now, I figured it’s going to be close in Texas because I believed those people. No longer. But I believed. So it hits 8 o’clock, and they go, like, two seconds after 8:00. ‘Donald Trump has won the state of Texas. Donald Trump has won the state of Utah.’ And we won by so much.”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: Trump’s recollection is inaccurate. Fox News, Trump’s favourite television network, did not call Utah until 11:10 p.m. Eastern time (9:10 p.m. Utah time) on election night; the Associated Press called it at 11:52 p.m (9:52 p.m. Utah time).

“You know what you call them, right? Suppression polls, right? Suppression. They give you phony polls so that you say, ‘You know what darling? We have an election tonight. But Trump won’t win because the polls are so bad. But let’s go to a movie and then we’ll come home and we’ll watch his defeat.'”

Source: Campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

in fact: There is no evidence that any pollster has manipulated their numbers to suppress Trump’s vote.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times


The Mueller investigation is closing in on Trump

What a catalogue of rogues – and what a tantalizing pile of clues. Surely we will soon know where all this leads

December 3, 2018

by Jill Abramson

The Guardian

The rogues’ gallery exposed in Robert Mueller’s court filings last week make the Watergate burglars look positively classy.

Even veteran lawyers who were involved in the investigations of Richard Nixon say they’ve never seen this level of chicanery. Most importantly, last week’s events showed that Special Counsel Mueller is getting closer to exposing the scope and depth of it all. His most recent filings make clear that considerable evidence touches the president himself.

The disclosures from Michael Cohen, the former Trump fixer who is now a cooperating witness, drew the connection tighter. In his guilty plea to an additional charge of lying to Congress, Cohen revealed, and Trump confirmed, that the Trump Organization was pursuing a luxury skyscraper deal in Moscow while Donald Trump, identified as “Individual 1” in the latest court filings, was sewing up the Republican party presidential nomination.

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly reassured voters that he had no business dealings in Russia. But as he uttered those lies, he knew Cohen was planning to sell Russian kleptocrats $250m units in a future Trump Tower Moscow by luring Putin into the project with a free $50m spread. This was all unfolding as emails from Democratic officials, hacked by the Russians, disrupted the Democratic convention and the Republican party was making its party platform much kinder to Russia.

Trump tried to dismiss this Moscow real estate bombshell, saying it was fine for him to pursue his business affairs while running for president, because if he lost, he expected to return to the throne of the Trump Organization. Could this help Mueller close the circle of collusion between Trump and Russia?

Cohen had previously connected President Trump to payoffs made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, which may violate election law. But the additional guilty plea last week goes to the heart of Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling and possible links to Donald Trump.

Also last week came the astounding revelation that Paul Manafort was acting as a double agent inside Mueller’s office. After Manafort was convicted on multiple counts of bank and tax fraud related to the millions he was paid by Ukrainian clients, he cut a deal with Mueller before his second trial, agreeing to plead guilty and to cooperate with the special counsel. Instead of cooperating, turncoat Manafort was spying and tipping off the president’s lawyers about the prosecution’s areas of interest.

Manafort’s deal then went where it belonged, in the trash. Big jail time should be in store for him, but it is more than likely that he will receive a presidential pardon for being such a standup guy. “I wouldn’t take it off the table,” President Trump said in an Oval Office interview with the New York Post. “Why would I take it off the table?” Mafia dons often dangle protection to silence snitches. But this isn’t the mafia, it’s the White House.

It’s hard to imagine anything lower than what Manafort did. But also trotting on stage last week were the conspiracy-loving tag team of Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi. In a draft court filing related to a collapsed plea deal with Corsi, 72, Mueller also revealed that in email exchanges, Stone told Corsi to get hold of hacked emails from WikiLeaks and that the pair discussed optimum times to release them in order to damage Clinton’s candidacy. Stone and Corsi have ties to Alex Jones’s ultra-right conspiracy site, Infowars, and Corsi was the man behind the false birther campaign against Barack Obama and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a rightwing group that tried to besmirch John Kerry’s military record in his 2004 bid to become president. Stone is a trickster from way back (he even has a Nixon tattoo on his back). Stone and Corsi have both denied contacts with WikiLeaks.

Clownish though some of them seem, these men may hold some keys to Mueller’s investigation. And we have yet to hear from Michael Flynn, the Trump foreign policy adviser and short-lived national security adviser, who has also pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation and whose role in this muck is soon to be revealed in court. Though last week’s documents did not deal with the suspect meeting in Trump Tower during the campaign with a Russian lawyer claiming to have dirt on Clinton. Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr, were there and the meeting remains a subject of interest to Mueller.

What a tantalizing pile of clues. Surely, we will soon know where they lead.

During the Nixon years, a famous journalist, Jimmy Breslin, wrote two books. One was a novel about the mafia called The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, that I thought about as I watched Manafort et al trot across the television screen last week. He also wrote a book after Nixon resigned about the politicians who helped restore honesty and dignity to Washington. It was called How the Good Guys Finally Won. That one deserves a sequel


Trump’s countless scams are finally catching up to him

The daily news drip can make it difficult to recognize the immense scale of the president’s legal troubles

December 4, 2018

by Rebecca Solnit

The Guardian

The news is generally reported piecemeal, with a focus on what just happened or the specifics of one story. The result is that the cumulative effect often escapes detection. Journalism tends to describe the fragments and not the pattern they make up, which for readers can be like watching a movie shot entirely in closeups. So it is with the travails of Donald J Trump. He is in so many kinds of legal hot water, and the explosive new stories tend to erase the earlier ones from view, just as his own transgressions tend to overshadow his earlier misconduct.

Who talks of how grotesquely he groveled before Vladimir Putin and denied his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions in the long-ago, far-away world of July 2018 when so much has happened since? Who remembers the abrupt firing of the FBI director James Comey in the ancient days of May 2017, when the abrupt firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on 7 November is so fresh? The Washington Post’s running list of lies (up to 5,000 in September) and the New York Times catalogue of people, places, and things he’s insulted on Twitter (548 as of Monday) are helpful.

If you look at all his legal troubles together you see someone who is both reckless and lawless – which we knew – and perhaps in more trouble than has been noted. You might add to that list obscenely stupid, since he often seems to be the only one who believes his own lies, and since he and his children don’t seem to grasp that the scamming and cheating that got them through the dirty world of New York City real estate doesn’t work as well on the global stage.

The current head of the federal government, the person who is supposed to somehow embody the rule of law, is in violation of a host of little laws and some major constitutional ones. USA Today reported in June 2016 that Trump and his businesses “have been involved in at least 3,500 legal actions in federal and state courts during the past three decades. Just since he announced his candidacy a year ago, at least 70 new cases have been filed, about evenly divided between lawsuits filed by him and his companies and those filed against them. And the records review found at least 50 civil lawsuits remain open even as he moves toward claiming the nomination.” The paper charted 1,450 cases in which he or his businesses were defendants along with his bankruptcies and mentioned the Trump University fraud lawsuit, which he eventually settled for $25m, finalized quietly this April. Our president steals from poor people: that’s what that lawsuit is about.

He has lived his life in a world without consequences – his father’s money smoothed the way for a life in which he made messes and others cleaned them up. He appears to be one of those people who was so rarely told that what he was saying was wrong, boorish, or inane that he has no sense of how he’s perceived or what people are thinking or, often, how things work. Feedback is what steers most of us straight, and power and privilege mean that you can avoid it if you want. When you’re a star they let you do stupid things, and he has done so many.

Summer Zervos sued Trump for defamation for remarks he made about her in 2016, when he suggested her allegations that he groped her were lies; lawyers suggest that his greatest risk in the lawsuit is that he will perjure himself. Another lawsuit for incitement to riot and negligence is moving forward in the sixth circuit court, by three young protesters who were attacked at a Trump rally in March of 2016 after Trump yelled: “Get ‘em out of here.” His former chauffeur is suing for unpaid wages.

The New York Times’ immense – in scale and in scope – report on the Trump family’s decades of cheating on taxes to the tune of half a billion dollars has gotten New York state tax officials to begin investigating the charges, and that, too, may lead to legal trouble. A New York business journal reports he may owe $400 million. There’s another lawsuit related to one of his charities, or rather “charities”, since they often seem to have benefitted Trump and his children. On 23 November, Reuters reported that the New York state attorney general, Barbara Underwood, could pursue claims “alleging breach of fiduciary duty, improper self-dealing, and misuse of assets belonging to the Donald J Trump Foundation. Underwood sued Trump and his adult children Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka on 14 June, after a 21-month probe that she said uncovered “extensive unlawful political coordination’ between the foundation and Trump’s campaign”.

The emoluments clause of the constitution forbids elected officials from accepting gifts and payments from foreign governments, and Trump has been violating it all along, most notably with his hotel in the nation’s capital that is frequented by foreign emissaries apparently seeking to curry favor with him. An earlier lawsuit over violation of the emoluments clause was thrown out because the plaintiffs didn’t have standing, but the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia are moving forward with a suit that does have standing, and they won a fight to gain access to the pertinent documents this September. It will be the first emoluments case in US history to go to trial, NPR reports. The Daily Beast reported in February that the Trump hotel paid millions in fines on liens for stiffing contractors. Associates of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom the Trump administration has been defending for his role in the grisly murder of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, spent more than a quarter-million dollars at Trump’s New York hotel earlier this year, according to the Washington Post.

All this trouble exists in addition to whatever the Mueller investigation will bring as allegations and charges and perhaps grounds for impeachment. On 29 November, the Mueller investigation seized tax records from the law offices of Trump’s Chicago lawyer, Ed Burke. Maybe the most important new possible charge, a law professor noted to me, emerges from the report in BuzzFeed that Trump planned to offer Putin a $50m condo if he succeeded in building a Trump Tower in Moscow, while he was running for the presidency. If true, it is a spectacular violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This 1977 law makes it “unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business”. Trump seems to have admitted he was doing exactly that and apparently thinks that justifying it aloud was good enough.

Of course, Trump denied that he was doing business with Russia or in contact with Russian officials many times during the election and since. Paul Manafort was charged with lying to the Robert Mueller investigation last week, which seems, atop everything else, stunningly stupid (along with the witness tampering he was also caught doing). Didn’t he think that the legal team would notice if he lied to protect himself or Trump? Or are the circles he moves in so routinely dishonest that the habit is hard to break? Liars abound in Trump’s circle; Michael Cohen turned himself in for some more lies too, and his lies – about when discussions about the Trump Tower Moscow terminated – seem to have been told to protect the president. But it seems likely that for the first time in his life, nothing can protect Donald J Trump from the trouble he’s made, and the sheer scale of it is astonishing. Justice means there are consequences for your actions.


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

December 4, 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. 17

Date: Monday, June 24, 1996

Commenced: 11:24 AM CST

Concluded: 12: 05 PM CST

GD: Good morning, Robert. I just got back from a business trip. What’s new inside the Beltway?

RTC: I missed your daily chats, Gregory. How was your trip?

GD: St. Petersburg was great. Moscow is improving from the old days but expensive as Hell and getting to be a Western-style mess. Still, I got to tour the older parts of the Kremlin and look at some of the stock in the military museum there.  Money is necessary to live but collectables are far more interesting. Great art collections in St. Petersburg. Our St. Petersburg is full of ancient retired Jews, hoping the hot sun will extend their petty lives instead of giving them skin cancer.

RTC: Back to your cheerful self, I see. Did you have any trouble going through Immigration? You are on the watch list, you know.

GD: I know. No, I flew with a friend who has a private plane. I never go through the lines getting back. I sent Tom Kimmel a nice postcard from Moscow and put my prints all over the thing. I hope it distracts him.

RTC: What a terrible thing to do, Gregory. They will spend a week testing the card and once they decide it was authentic, they will get our Moscow…I assume you sent it from Moscow…people to check hotel rosters. If they find you, then they’ll check the Immigration records to see when you arrived back here. If they don’t find you and they know you’re back…

GD: Oh, I called Kimmel to cinch this up. He hadn’t gotten my card yet so I told him all about the joys of Moscow. Of course, he probably didn’t believe me but when he gets that card, my I will have so much fun.

RTC: And expect a smarmy call from him asking you about your plane trip. Oh, and what airline did you take? Oh, and where did you land, coming back? My, they have so little imagination, don’t they?

GD: No brains, either. That’s what comes from marrying your sister.

RTC: Gregory, how rude. Can’t you show some class? You know they’re trying to quit all that.

GD: (Laughter) Yes.

RTC: Did you know old Hoover was part black?

GD: Besides being queer?

RTC: In addition to that. But I think Hoover was more asexual that homosexual. A really vicious old man. Do you know how he kept from being kicked out by succeeding Presidents? He kept files on everyone of consequence, both in business, the media and, especially, government. The real dirt as it were. And no one, not the President, the Attorney General or Congress to whom he had to go every year to get the yearly appropriations would every dare to cross J. Edgar. Bobby Kennedy crossed him and Bobby was killed for his trouble. No, Hoover was a vicious man. We, on the other hand, use the same methodology but we are far smoother in applying it. We have a strong influence, for want of a better term, with the banking industry. We have the strongest and most effective influence with the print and television media. We have a much stronger hold on the Hill than Hoover ever had. At times, we’ve had iron control over the Oval Office. Hell, the NSA snoops domestically and we get it all. We have a strong in with the telephone people and we don’t need warrants to listen to anybody, domestically, we want, when we want. Now that the internet is in full bloom, trust it, Gregory, that we will establish our own form of control over that. It’s an invisible control and we never, ever talk about it and anyone who gets really close to the truth gets one in the back of the head from a doped-up burglar. And if something gets loose, who will publish it? Surely not our boys in the media.  A book publisher?  A joke, Gregory. Never. Rather than off some snoop, it’s much more subtle to marginalize them in print, imply they are either liars or nuts and make fun of them. Discredit them so no one will listen to them and then later, the car runs over them in the crosswalk. Oh, sorry about that, officer,  but my foot slipped off the brake. I am desolated by that. And we pay for fixing the front end of his car.

GD: Such an insight. Too much coffee, today, Robert?

RTC: No, just an old man and his memories.

GD: How come you never nailed Hoover about the homosexual business?

RTC: We had a working relationship with him, observed, I might add, in the breach more than not. The old faggot put his men in foreign embassies as legates while our men were the USIA.1 We tried to take them over but it never worked out. We just made their lives miserable instead..

GD: Question here. Now that Communism is effectively dead in Russia and they are imploding, why go after them? Once the Second World War was over, we made friends with the evil Germans and Japanese and built them up again. Why not work with the non-Communist Russians?

RTC: Oh, that drunk Yeltsin was in our pocket but in the case of the former, we did build up their industries but we also owned them, lock, stock and barrel. Germany and Japan were our puppets but the Russians could never be brought to heel because they were too large and too diverse. Also, take into account that our main thesis at the Company was that the evil Russian Communists had to be stopped lest they take over Nova Scotia and bombard New York. With a decades-long mindset like that, you can’t expect our people to change overnight into actually accepting the Russians. Not likely. And besides, we tried to nail down all their oil and gas but we lost hundreds of millions in the process when they got wise and stopped it. We have to find a new international enemy to scare the shit out of American with; an enemy that only the CIA can save us from. The Jews are screaming about the Arabs, who are natural enemies of the Christians. We could dig up historians who will write about the Crusades and Hollywood people who will make movies about the triumph of Christianity over the Crescent. The Jews are getting too much power these days but remember that the Arabs have all the big oil and we need it. Yes, no doubt a resurrection of the Crusades will be next. Without enemies to protect from, we are of no use. Besides, Arabs are highly emotional and we can easily push them into attacking us, hopefully outside the country. Then, the well-oiled machinery that we have perfected over the years can start up and off we go on another adventure.

GD: My, how Heini Müller would have loved to listen in on this conversation. A thoroughgoing pragmatist and you two would have a wonderful time.

RTC: Remember that he and I had occasion to talk while he was here in Washington. I liked him as a matter of fact.

GD: In spite of the propaganda about the Gestapo in overcoats with dogs dragging screaming Jews into the streets, beating them with whips and driving them, in long parades, into the gas chambers? Of course that was wartime fiction but it got the Jews sympathy.

RTC: And don’t forget, Gregory, it also got them political power and money. And they love both. I worked with them on a number of occasions and while they are all smart people, I wouldn’t trust one of them to the corner for a pound of soft soap. During the Stalin era, they spied on us for Josef by the carload, stealing everything, worming their way into Roosevelt’s New Deal and high government office and everything they could lay their hands on, went straight to Moscow. Now, it’s the identical situation but the information goes to Tel Aviv.

GD: Stalin hated them. He didn’t trust them.

RTC: Ah, but he did use them to kill people off, didn’t he?

GD: Yes, but when he was done with them, he planned to make the fictive Hitler’s death programs look like a fairy tale. Going to round up all the Jews and dump them into the wilds of a Siberian winter and let God freeze them all.

RTC: Oh, they won’t ever face up to that one, Gregory. No, Communism was wonderful because they used it as a ladder to climb up to where the white man held sway. Truman initially supported their cause until he found out how they were murdering Palestinians to steal their farms so he stopped US support of Israel. And then Israel tried to kill him.

GD: Müller mentioned that.

RTC: But Harry got cold feet after that.

GD: And now they have a place at the white man’s table, don’t they?

RTC: Hell, now they own the table and the restaurant and ten blocks around it. Roosevelt hated them, you know and he and Long kept them out of the country. Roosevelt said they were a pest and we did not want them here. Funny, because long ago, the Roosevelt family was Jewish.

GD: I know. German Jews from the Rhineland. Name was Rosenfeld. Went to Holland after they were run out of Germany and changed the name to a Dutch spelling.

RTC: Yes. I know that. Old Franklin’s second cousin was an Orthodox rabbi as late as 1938. Of course no one ever mentions that just like no one ever talks about Eleanor’s rampant lesbianism. God, what a sewer the White House was then. A veritable racial and ethical trash bin.

GD: Now they’re all dead.

RTC: There should be a way to prevent that sort of thing but of course we were not in existence when Franklin was king. Wouldn’t happen now. I’m afraid that the Jews will dig into the Company the same way they dug into Roosevelt’s bureaucracy and the second time around, we will have a terrible time rooting them all out.

GD: I can see pogroms in Skokie and Miami even as we speak.

RTC: Dream on, my boy, dream on. At any rate, I shall await the demonization of the Arab world. We can send the military into Saudi Arabia on some flimsy pretest, like the demolition of some US Embassy in a very minor state, like Portugal, by positively identified Saudi Arabs and then a new Crusade! Oh, and the precious oil!

GD: And the oil. Remember the Maine, Robert.

RTC: Yes and remember what old Hearst said? ‘ You supply the pictures and I’ll supply the war?” Oh yes and we got Cuba and the Philippines, although why we wanted the latter escapes me. The problem with that country is that it’s full of Filipinos  and monkeys. Of course it’s often hard to differentiate between them but life is never easy. The Navy calls them the niggers of the Orient. I was at Pubic Bay once…

GD: (Laughter) what? You mean Subic Bay, don’t you?

RTC: A service joke. My God, Gregory, every square foot of land for miles around that base was filled with bars and tens of thousands of local prostitutes. ‘Oh you nice American! I love to fuck you! Take me back to America!’ And many of our corn-fed sailors went for the okeydoke and found out what Hell was like once they got Esmiralda back to Iowa. Ah well, thank God I never listened to their whining siren songs.

GD: I would imagine they had more claps than a football crowd….

RTC: (Laughter) My, isn’t it fun being bigots?

GD: I would prefer ‘realistic observers.’ Robert.

RTC: Call it what you will, Gregory, underneath the nice, polished veneer, we are all really cheap plywood.

GD: Hypocrisy is, after all, the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

RTC: Did you go to Harvard, Gregory? Such polished wit.

GD: I know. No, Not Harvard. The University of Unfortunate Experiences. I read a good deal, Robert, and I have moved in elegant circles and know just what to say and do at the appropriate time. Good manners are just the polish on the knife blade.

RTC: The University has embittered you, hasn’t it?

GD: Of course. Remember the Canadian counterfeit caper? A good case of embitterment. They stole from me so I returned the favor…in spades if you’ll pardon a rampant, bigoted remark. They stole four dollars and ten cents from me and I responded by stealing over two million dollars from them. In cash and their expenses. Loved every minute of it, too. I don’t think the Canadians expected me to come back and certainly not the way I did.

RTC: I read all about it. You made the press and we took note.

GD: I’m sure you did. Always strike at the weakest spot, unexpectedly and with force. Take them by surprise and then withdraw. They will rush their troops to the point of attack and then you circle around and hit them somewhere else.

RTC: How much did you get away with?

GD: Oh, Robert, such a pointed question. I got my four dollars and ten cents back and it cost them millions in a frantic attempt to stop what they called the efforts of the largest ring in their history. And if I made a profit out of it, why consider Delilah. Didn’t she make a prophet?

RTC: Oh, Gregory, a pun is the lowest form of humor. I should expect better from you.

GD: It would not be a good idea for me to go back to Canada, Robert. They will still be waiting for me. After all, I never used a lubricant. Sometimes, rarely but sometimes, I can sit back and enjoy a good laugh. I have two Canadian two dollar bills and a dime in a nice shadow box along with a newspaper clipping from the Vancouver Sun, next to my desk, It warms me on a cold night.


(Concluded at 12:02 PM CST)

1 USIA: United States Information Agency. The cover position for CIA operatives working from the inside of an American embassy or consulate.





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