Why the Barr/Trump ‘President Can’t Obstruct Justice Without a Crime’ Precedent Is Very Wrong


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So, as I have been warning for quite some time, it turns out that, at least according to Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary of Robert Mueller’s conclusions, President Donald Trump is not a “Manchurian Candidate,” Mueller is not James Bond, and Trump is not going to be removed from office, at least not in his first term. Putting aside for now the many issues related to how much of the news media bought into a false narrative of Trump “collusion” with Russia and held onto it (partly because Mueller did nothing at all to tamp it down) long after there were clearly major problems with the theory, there was one surprising element of yesterday’s big reveal which is worthy of immediate analysis. This is the decision by AG Barr to effectively veto Mueller’s case that Trump had obstructed justice in the Russia investigation, and to Continue reading "Why the Barr/Trump ‘President Can’t Obstruct Justice Without a Crime’ Precedent Is Very Wrong"

Rep. Ilhan Omar Was ‘Sincerely Befuddled’ On Israeli Foreign Policy in Rare Admission of Being Underinfomed


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Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) apologized online for saying “Israel has hypnotized the world” to commit “evil,” adding she did not realize her sentiments would be offensive to Jews. “In all sincerity, it was after my CNN interview that I heard from Jewish orgs. that my use of the word ‘Hypnotize’ and the ugly sentiment it holds was offensive,” the Democratic Congresswoman tweeted early Tuesday morning, agreeing with New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss, who had speculated earlier that “perhaps Ms. Omar is sincerely befuddled and not simply deflecting” with her comments about Israel.

Giuliani and Trump Appear Nuts. But Did Their Craziness Neuter Damage of the Moscow Tower Story?


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One of the central questions we must answer when interpreting the evidence in the Trump/Russia scandal is whether President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani are just plain nuts. Or, rather, “crazy like a fox.” Based on Rudy’s television appearances on Sunday, it is becoming pretty clear that part of why this conundrum is so confusing is that it they are a little bit of both, and, at least so far, this strategy is working like a charm. The biggest revelation to come out of Rudy’s most recent bout of televised insanity is that it now appears very obvious that the Trump Tower in Moscow project was not officially killed at least until Trump actually won the 2016 election. While Giuliani has implied this reality previously, he was far more definitive about it on NBC’s Meet the Press than he has been previously. Whether by design, dumb luck, Continue reading "Giuliani and Trump Appear Nuts. But Did Their Craziness Neuter Damage of the Moscow Tower Story?"

If BuzzFeed’s ‘Bombshell’ Is ‘Not Accurate’, Then Why Did Cohen Lie to Congress about a Trump Tower in Moscow?


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President Donald Trump’s string of amazing luck — his imitation of the Road Runner continually escaping from the media’s Wile E. Coyote — continued late Friday when Robert Mueller took the all too rare step of contradicting BuzzFeed’s “bombshell” report. In less than 24 hours, Trump went from being certain to be impeached (though probably not removed), to declaring total victory over the “Fake News!” media, which has been fecklessly incapable of making anything stick to him. Like most pundits I originally thought that, while hardly proven to be true, the BuzzFeed article appeared to be sound, and that Mueller must have extremely strong evidence that Michael Cohen lied to Congress at Trump’s direction. Part of why the story seemed solid was that, unlike with what happened recently with a dubious McClatchy report claiming Cohen (or at least his cellphone) was in Prague in 2016, neither Cohen himself, Continue reading "If BuzzFeed’s ‘Bombshell’ Is ‘Not Accurate’, Then Why Did Cohen Lie to Congress about a Trump Tower in Moscow?"

So, Unless Giuliani Is Insane, He Apparently Just Admitted the Trump Campaign Colluded With Russia


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Reading the tea leaves of the Trump/Russia saga is more difficult than solving a Rubik’s Cube with missing colored stickers. This is largely because the key players, specifically President Donald Trump, do not think or act in a way that is remotely consistent with societal norms. That is why it is so precarious to read too much into Rudy Giuliani’s batshit-crazy response to Chris Cuomo on CNN Wednesday night, where he appeared to admit that the Trump campaign had indeed “colluded” with Russia.  Normally, the president’s own lawyer (for a guy who only hires the very best people, Trump sure hasn’t had much luck with that) going out of his way, on international television, to NOT deny that his client’s campaign colluded with Russia is the equivalent of an admission that this is, in fact, what happened. But while in the process of moving the Trump/Russia goalposts Continue reading "So, Unless Giuliani Is Insane, He Apparently Just Admitted the Trump Campaign Colluded With Russia"

Glenn Greenwald and Tucker Carlson Go on the Attack Against Tulsi Gabbard’s Critics: ‘Democrats Hate Her’


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“I’m not a supporter of Congresswoman Gabbard’s candidacy,” Glenn Greenwald declared at the start of his Fox News interview with Tucker Carlson on whether the Hawaii congresswoman and 2020 candidate is being “unfairly attacked.” “There are some really legitimate and serious concerns that I have that have been raised by the real left, not the Democratic Party liberals,” Greenwald said of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). He listed them: “her support for the war on terror, her affinity for Hindu nationalism in India, her affection for some really terrible dictators.” Those do seem bad! Praising the “courage” of dictators like Sisi certainly raises a few red flags. But while those are apparently serious concerns for Greenwald, he continued that they are not the reasons why Gabbard is being unfairly smeared by the Democratic apparatus. “What’s really going on,” Greenwald told the Fox News audience, is that “Democrats hate Continue reading "Glenn Greenwald and Tucker Carlson Go on the Attack Against Tulsi Gabbard’s Critics: ‘Democrats Hate Her’"

Walking the Walk: Rep. Dan Crenshaw Forgoes Congressional Pay During Shutdown. AOC is Undecided.


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It’s only been a week since the newly sworn-in congressional freshmen have been in office, but two already stand out: Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). The pair have already made big waves in their respective camps and have built a lot of social media clout. While social media postings are good for their personal standing, actually leading from the front is what voters want from politicians. One way people in Congress have done so is by asking for their pay to be withheld while the partial government shutdown drags on. On Thursday, Crenshaw joined the growing number of Republicans and Democrats to request their pay to be withheld.

Ten Years Ago, I Did an Interview with Sarah Palin. Sadly, It Helped Pave Trump’s Path to the Presidency


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One of the many counterintuitive aspects of life is that the occasions which seem, at first, to be very positive, often end up creating the opposite result. This phenomenon seems to be increasingly common in the case of news events; for instance, the lasting impact of the initially successful invasion of Iraq on the George W. Bush administration, which is very similar to how the Republican Party is likely to eventually see Donald Trump’s upset of Hillary Clinton. In my own professional life, there is no better (worse) example of this quirk of fate’s preferred modus operandi than something that happened ten years ago this week. I am referring to the news-making interview I did in Alaska with Sarah Palin, which is still to this day the most in-depth public discussion she has ever had about her famous 2008 run for the vice presidency. To fully understand the Continue reading "Ten Years Ago, I Did an Interview with Sarah Palin. Sadly, It Helped Pave Trump’s Path to the Presidency"

Democrats Should Not Fear Impeaching Trump, Even Though He Would Likely Enjoy It


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Most of the debate over a newly-minted congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, declaring that she and her fellow Democrats will “impeach the motherfucker,” has been about her use of language which, before President Donald Trump changed all the rules, would have obviously been totally inappropriate. While that discussion is interesting, however, the core issue here, which would not be nearly as big a news subject if not for her use of profanity, is whether Democrats should fear impeaching Trump. The Democratic reaction to Tlaib’s possibly contrived — and very successful — bid to increase her public stature within the liberal elite has indicated that there is at least great hesitation, if not overt dread, over the prospect of having to impeach Trump now that they theoretically have the votes in the House to do so. Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly told Trump personally that it is not her intent to impeach Continue reading "Democrats Should Not Fear Impeaching Trump, Even Though He Would Likely Enjoy It"

New York Times Reporter Stuns MSNBC Panel by Arguing Trump Has ‘Drained the Swamp’


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A New York Times reporter shocked a live MSNBC panel today by arguing President Donald Trump has, in fact, ‘Drained the Swamp’ in Washington, D.C. by bringing in new government officials to replace the old “establishment.” The comment was in response to MSNBC host Katy Tur‘s argument that Trump won on a promise he did not deliver, which is that he would “drain the swamp.” “Part of the reason he won was that he was gonna drain the swamp, he was gonna get new people involved — how come he’s not… what does it mean for 2020?” she asked. You may have expected the Times’ Bret Stephens to be the one snapping back with an explanation, since he has shown sympathy to the President in the past and is often branded a “neoconservative” because of his views on foreign policy. But today’s elephant-in-the-room Continue reading "New York Times Reporter Stuns MSNBC Panel by Arguing Trump Has ‘Drained the Swamp’"

Republican Treatment of Romney Shows Trump is Very Likely to Still Be President at the End of 2019


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In the middle of 2018, I made a bet with a friend who is a member of the “state-run” pro-Trump media that the president would not resign or be removed from office by the end of 2019. Recently, at my suggestion, we doubled the bet, with my friend, who is personally very anti-Trump, more confident than ever that they will collect their winnings as Trump will no longer be president by the time we celebrate another New Year’s Eve. In this context, it was amusing to see 2019 begin with some prominent predictions of Trump’s demise during the coming year. This was especially the case since, at the very same time, we are getting ample evidence that, unless Trump, supposedly the healthiest man to ever hold his office, suddenly suffers major medical problems, he will absolutely still be president when 2020 beings. As my own experience with pro-Trump in-laws over Continue reading "Republican Treatment of Romney Shows Trump is Very Likely to Still Be President at the End of 2019"

An Honest Review of the Best and Worst Columns I Wrote in 2018


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As this frustratingly crazy year of 2018 officially comes to a close, it is a telling experiment to review the year through the lens of the many columns I wrote during the last twelve months, most of which chronicled the never-ending insanity of this unique era. Of my 144 commentaries, there were some notable hits, but also more misses than I would have hoped. Here is an honest review of the highlights and lowlights… Biggest Blunder: Clearly, my biggest mistake of 2018 was jumping all over the theory that the Elliot Broidy/Shera Bechard scandal was actually a cover story to protect President Donald Trump. While I turned out to be dead wrong, as I explained in my mea culpa column, there were actually fairly sound reasons for why that miss-assessment was made. Possibly Worst Prediction: When the secretly recorded tape that Michael Cohen made of his conservation Continue reading "An Honest Review of the Best and Worst Columns I Wrote in 2018"

The McClatchy ‘Michael Cohen Was In Prague’ Story Has Significant Problems


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Recently, I did an extensive interview with investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, the co-author of the book Russian Roulette about the Trump/Russia relationship, which made headlines because President Donald Trump decided to cheery-pick it for his own purposes. The essence of what Trump and his state-run media deemed so news worthy was that a Trump critic was acknowledging that the infamous Steele Dossier has significant issues. Specifically, that the story of Michael Cohen meeting with Russians in Prague during the 2016 election seemed to have been discredited. So, when yesterday McClatchy reported, based on multiple sources, that Cohen’s cell phone had pinged off a tower outside of Prague during the time period mentioned in the dossier, I was one of many commentators who was instantly interested in the details. As has happened all-too-often during this never-ending saga, the story seemed pretty solid at first, but has since, rather quickly, Continue reading "The McClatchy ‘Michael Cohen Was In Prague’ Story Has Significant Problems"

Damned If He Does, Damned If He Doesn’t: Trump Critics Try to Have It Both Ways On His Visit to Troops


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In a move that should surprise no one, shortly after news broke that President Donald Trump had visited troops in Iraq and Germany, his critics’ talking points quickly switched from”how dare Trump not visit troops in a combat zone” to “how dare Trump use troops for photo op/damage control.” Keep in mind, as I write this I am still upset and disappointed in how Trump handled the resignation and subsequent ouster of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, but that doesn’t take away from how yesterday showed Trump can do no right in some people’s eyes.

Trump Actually Has Built a Wall… Around His Approval Ratings. But How Long Will It Remain Standing?


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Amid the torrent of really bad news surrounding President Donald Trump, the past few days has offered what appears to be the final nail in the coffin of his always obviously fraudulent campaign promise to build a great wall on our southern border. Now, his critics don’t like to admit it, but Trump actually has constructed a fairly substantial barrier, one that has been remarkably resilient. Though it isn’t a physical structure. It is, instead, a figurative wall surrounding his personal approval ratings. One of the most underreported storylines of 2018 has been that Trump, while enduring the worst news year of any president since at least Richard Nixon’s last one in office, actually has significantly better (less bad?) approval ratings than he did a year ago. On December 20, 2017, Trump’s RealClearPolitics polling average was at a negative 18.3 points (and actually on an improving Continue reading "Trump Actually Has Built a Wall… Around His Approval Ratings. But How Long Will It Remain Standing?"

Don’t Look Now, But Trump’s Own Media Base is Revolting


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By any objective measure, President Donald Trump has had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. In just this past week, we saw the growing list of Trump’s troubles continue to bulk up. There are the legal entanglements, the troubling inconsistencies from his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, the very public threat to own a government shutdown if he didn’t get congressional border wall funding, his surprising Syrian withdrawal that almost no one agrees with… all of this went down this week. And that overlooks a number of cabinet issues that, in any other administration, would each take a dire political toll. And yet, impossibly, none of these represent the biggest existential threat to the Trump administration, nor are they what this column is about. The biggest reason why Trump will look back at this week with icy horror is that it was the first time that the president’s very Continue reading "Don’t Look Now, But Trump’s Own Media Base is Revolting"

Host of Discovery Channel’s New Border Patrol Series is Also a Liberal Immigration Activist


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CNN’s Bill Weir has been tapped by the Discovery Channel as host of a new live, reality series featuring border patrol agents, their families, the job itself, and the immigration issues around it. What makes him a bizarre choice is that he’s also an activist social media warrior on those same topics, fighting tooth and nail with anyone who supports border enforcement or opposes illegal immigration. Border Live will “document the work of law enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border as well as the real lives, real moments and real stories of those that live and work along its remote stretches,” according to the press release on Friday. What the press release does not say is anything about how the new host — who will air his portion from New York City — feels about the “lives, real moments, and real stories” of those agents, or their work. His Continue reading "Host of Discovery Channel’s New Border Patrol Series is Also a Liberal Immigration Activist"

CNN’s Chris Cuomo Skips Avenatti News, Rest of Network Barely Touches


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For anyone who has watched CNN in 2018, the idea of the network skipping a story featuring Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti, or even being dragged kicking and screaming to it rather than enthusiastically covering it in every hour, would have been unthinkable before last night. But once news broke that the man who managed to make the Brett Kavanaugh hearings even less dignified had himself been arrested on charges of domestic assault — the network grew oddly reluctant to cover it. Or in the case of one of the biggest Avenatti promoters Chris Cuomo, didn’t cover it at all. Alisyn Camerota, who has interviewed Avenatti in the past and even expressed skepticism over some of the allegations he’s made, is a frequent on-air lecturer on feminism and #MeToo. She didn’t mention his name either Thursday morning, even while her co-host, John Berman, briefly reported Avenatti’s Continue reading "CNN’s Chris Cuomo Skips Avenatti News, Rest of Network Barely Touches"

Thanks Partly to Trump, California is Now an Electoral Anvil Around the Neck of the National GOP


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The entire world has heard about the wildfires which have ravaged large parts of California over the past week (which thankfully, due to our amazing firefighters, my family and I have apparently survived unscathed). Understandably however, much less has been made of the figurative inferno which has burned down the last vestiges of what was once a great Republican machine here in the Golden State, leaving permanent destruction in its path, the likes of which the national GOP may never fully overcome. It is no secret that Republican prospects in California have been waning for the past generation. The fact that the state elected, and reelected, two consecutive Republican presidents who resided here (Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan) is now just a weird piece of trivia for most of its residents. But the wreckage that has been revealed after the dust settled from last week’s midterms exposes a Continue reading "Thanks Partly to Trump, California is Now an Electoral Anvil Around the Neck of the National GOP"

Media Needs to Take Some Responsibility for Why Republicans Won’t Rush to Jim Acosta’s Cause


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Yesterday, the White House suspended the press credentials of CNN’s Jim Acosta after he had a confrontation with President Donald Trump during what was likely the most ridiculous press conference in presidential history. The revocation of his credentials was allegedly based on a false allegation that Acosta inappropriately touched the White House intern who trying to take back the microphone the reporter was using. Let’s be very clear about what really happened here. Trump called on Acosta because he wanted to provoke a fight with someone his base loathes, and he knew that the grandstanding Acosta would be happy to play his role in this mutually-contrived confrontation because it would be good for his brand. As Shakespeare famously wrote, “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women are merely players.” Everyone involved got pretty much exactly what they wanted. I would even be willing to Continue reading "Media Needs to Take Some Responsibility for Why Republicans Won’t Rush to Jim Acosta’s Cause"