Bearing Witness to Trump Month 43 Aug 16-22

A Senate Intelligence Committee panel concluded in a nearly 1,000 page report that members of the Trump 2016 campaign team spoke often with Russian agents, whom they shared campaign data with, and because of that posed a “grave counter-intelligence threat” to the United States. They also concluded what others before them had that Russia was interfering with our 2016 presidential election, that the Russians wanted Trump to win, and that they offered the campaign help which was accepted. And all this was a bipartisan group composed of both Democrats and Republican Senators.

The report reminds me that Russia’s meddling was not a hoax as Trump claims, but real. The communication and cooperation, if not collusion and conspiracy, between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives was not a media hoax, but real. The treasonous actions of campaign manager Paul Manafort who welcomed the help of Russians over secret channels including burner phones and encrypted apps was not a hoax, but real. Manafort’s relationships with Russian intelligence operatives was not a hoax, but real. The involvement of Trump family members and other campaign staff members in the whole sordid affair was not a hoax, but real. Trump asking Russia to hack Clinton’s email server, which they immediately did, was not a hoax, but real. Trump’s criminal ask of convicted felon Roger Stone about the release and use of the stolen emails through WikiLeaks was not a hoax, but real. The investigation of the interference by the justice department was not a political hoax, but real. Trump’s attempt to blame Ukraine as a scapegoat was not a hoax, but real. Russia’s creation of that alternative narrative that Ukraine was the one to blame and fed to the Trump administration was not a hoax, but real.  Trump and members of his campaign staff and administration who misled or lied to investigators and Congress was not a hoax, but real. The Trump White House obstruction of justice by refusing to cooperate with the investigation and at times attempting to shut it down was not a hoax, but real. The findings of the Mueller investigation were fundamentally correct and not a hoax, despite the Justice Department’s restrictions on them to be able to indict a sitting president. Reports that Russia is once again working to undermine our election and help Trump is not a hoax, but real. Trump’s long-time adoration of Putin, including a letter he wrote years ago 0claiming he as a big fan of Putin and that Putin deserves being named man of the year, was not a hoax, but real. What more do we need to lock him up?

Steve Bannon, former adviser and chief strategist to the President, was arrested this week on charges of defrauding donors by wire fraud and money laundering to his “Build the Wall” non-profit. He was arrested on a 150 foot yacht owned by a Chinese billionaire. It does not get more swampy than this. Bannon was one of three other alleged  conspirators indicted for misusing donated monies to support their lavish lifestyles. They had raised over $25 million dollars, largely from crowd-sourcing platforms, but in the end built only a few miles of wall. Trump immediately distanced himself from Bannon’s arrest saying he knew very little about their project, which of course was another lie.

Bannon joins a growing list of indicted or convicted former Trump associates which includes Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Rick Gates. How soon after the election will the President himself be indicted?

Over 70 Republicans and former national security and defense officials have come out calling Trump “unfit to lead” the country and declared they would vote for Joe Biden. They wrote in a Defending Democracy Together letter that it is imperative we stop Trump’s assault on our nation’s values and institutions and reinstate the moral foundations of our democracy.

Former President Obama delivered a scorching attack on the Trump administration at the virtual DNC convention that formally nominated Joe Biden for President and Kamala Harris for Vice President. Obama accused Trump of acting as if he is above the law, enriching himself and his family, exploiting the military as political props, disregarding science, demonizing the free press, undermining the constitution and tearing down our democracy. The White House responded by saying that Obama was the worst president in US history. The next day Trump claimed that not Obama but Biden would be the worst nightmare if elected president. Trump claimed that Biden is the puppet of the radical left, the other side has gone insane and wants to destroy the American way of life. But by now we are all so accustomed to knowing that whatever this President or White House says, the exact opposite is usually the truth.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to say that President Trump will accept the results of the November presidential election should he lose. She said that the president will see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath. Yes, she said that. At least this time she was likely telling the American public the truth.  She also declined to say in the same conference if the president believed there was any circumstance that he would lose the election. Trump is once again laying the groundwork for claiming that if he loses the election it must have been rigged. Is America preparing ourselves for what we will do next if that happens and he refuses to leave office or drags us into the second civil war?

No surprise that more Americans than ever are reported to be seeking second passports by either reclaiming their ancestral heritage or paying for golden visas.

Trump’s Republican Party, or what is left of it, has now fallen so far it has become acceptable for those elected to support or endorse extremist organizations such as QAnon. Even the President has said the conspirators behind QAnon are people that love our country.  He has retweeted from their followers at least 200 times. Many on both sides have described them as sheer lunatics if not a growing domestic anti-establishment terrorist threat.

A week after Trump claims credit for orchestrating a groundbreaking deal between Israel and UAE to establish formal diplomatic relationships the devil in the details leak out. It appears the president bought the deal by promising the Emirates access to American weaponry like advanced drones and F-35 aircraft which are said to be the most advanced fighters in the skies. And now the Israelis say that their pledge to not expand settlements into disputed Palestinian territories may only be temporary. Yet another example the Trump administration cannot be trusted either internationally or domestically.

This week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to New York City to demand that the United Nations restore the energy, economic and military sanctions provided for in the nuclear treaty with Iran that the United States broke. One more example of the administration blaming the victim for its own hubris and malfeasance.  We have so alienated nearly every other signatory to the Iranian accord, along with most of our historic allies, that the U.S. stood alone with its demands of the U.N. security council.

It was reported this week that all across China the Communist Party is rooting out those who are disloyal to the party (not country) under the pretense of enforcing law and order. Hum, does this remind us of anyone we know here?

Trump attacks yet another historic American business; this time Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. The President urged his followers to boycott the company because it banned the wearing of political attire such as MAGA hats. The company’s stock immediately fell. This follows a week after Trump had threatened to shut down the TikTok business or force it to be sold in a shotgun merger. Can you imagine the howls from free-market pro-business Republicans had a Democrat president suggested a boycott of a business that resulted in losses for investors, or threatened the sale of one? They would have claimed he was being a socialist, or perhaps even a communist, for attempting to interfere with commercial business.

In some good news a federal court this week blocked the Trump administration’s roll back of health care protections that kept transgender people from being discriminated against. Another federal court ruled once again that Trump must turn over his tax returns to a Manhattan prosecutor investigating financial fraud and campaign finance violations. It was quickly appealed which will send it back to the Supreme Court, once again. Trump remains the only president to refuse to make his tax returns public.  And in yet another court case, Trump is asking the Supreme Court to allow him to block critics from his Twitter feeds. But he uses twitter for official business and to make major policy announcements in addition to his non-stop bullying, threatening, disparaging, lying, and whining.

After grueling testimony to Congress, Trump loyalist and Postmaster General DeJoy announced he would not be making further cuts to the Postal Service that could hamper voting by mail in this Fall’s elections that will likely still be held during a pandemic. Trump must have been very displeased with DeJoy’s announcement as he has spent weeks attacking mail-in voting and laying the grounds to disavow the election results should he lose due to voter fraud. Widespread disruptions to the mail delivery service have already been reported across the country. More than 20 states had announced they were going to sue to stop the changes. A bill of $25B of aid to the post office was passed in the House but will likely never see daylight in the Senate nor a signature from the president. The former vice chair of the USPS board of governors told lawmakers that the administration was trying to set up a hostile takeover of the service, likely to facilitate its acquisition by private enterprise. This is a playbook right out of Putin’s Russia where the state allowed the privatization and plundering of public institutions that created the oligarch era. Is there any part or function of the federal government that the Trump administration has not tried to usurp or destroy, as if it was a domestic terror organization?

The above news items have been taken from a number of international, national, regional, and local news media sources including print, digital, and broadcast. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.

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