Elections have become reactionary and Trump and the GOP are in charge

Elections have become reactionary. In 2008, Barack Obama was elected in part because of the unpopularity of President George W. Bush, on-going wars, and a financial collapse. After two years of policies from a super majority Democratic Congress, voters rallied with the Tea Party and elected a Republican House of Representatives. Eventually, the Republicans won the U.S. Senate and running against a do-nothing corrupt Washington, Donald Trump rallied to beat one of the least popular (insider) candidates in modern political history. Now, a year later, Trump has an approval rating lower than any President in history. With that, Democrats absolutely crushed Republicans in Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and parts of Georgia.

So what does that mean for 2018? A lot can happen in a year, but as of right now, under President Trump and a Republican Congress, little has been accomplished. Trumpism has never been popular and only seemed so because Hillary Clinton was on the ballot in 2016. Democrats are fired up because of the narcissistic President and Republicans continue to be in a no-win situation. As Erick stated this morning, support Trump and you isolate moderates and independents, part from the President and a third of the Republican base disappears. Neither party is popular, but the referendum in 2018 will be against the GOP. Make no mistake, Republicans only gained control because they were the only other choice available when Democrats lost over 1,000 seats under President Obama. Now, under President Trump, people still do not like the status quo and Republicans are in charge.

Additionally, the future remains bleak for the GOP. In the era of Trump, younger voters continue to move toward the Democrats. Look at the stat last night in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The one constant is that time keeps moving forward. Whether it is in 2020 or 2024, eventually Donald Trump will no longer be President. As Brit Hume said last night, Trump is going to be about Trump. He will quickly throw the GOP under the bus if that serves him best. The problem for the GOP is deeper. Republicans can say pay no attention to the President’s rhetoric or tweets, but behind their own curtain, nothing is there. Unless they start showing how their policies will make “America Great Again” they will continue to be a party of the President. Since they bought Trump and Trumpism despite the warnings from many true conseratives, the price for the debt he is causing will be severe and painful.

Trump Doesn’t Have To Be ‘Unhappy’ His Appointees Are Not Investigating Clintons

President Trump on Thursday criticized the Justice Department for failing to investigate Hillary Clinton. Trump said that he was “very unhappy”  and “frustrated” with a situation that he called beyond his control.

Speaking on Larry O’Connor’s radio show, the president said, “The saddest thing is that because I’m the President of the United States I’m not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department, I’m not supposed to be involved with the FBI, I’m not supposed to be doing the kinds of things I would love to be doing and I’m very frustrated by it. I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with the dossier and the kind of money…?”

“It’s very discouraging to me,” the president continued. “I’ll be honest, I’m very unhappy with it that the Justice Department isn’t going—now maybe they are but you know as president, you’re not supposed to be involved in that process but hopefully they are doing something and maybe at some point we can all have it out.”

President Trump seems confused here. The Justice Department is under his authority. Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, is his appointee and works for him. If President Trump really believes that Hillary Clinton is a criminal, he could easily order an investigation to determine whether that is true.

What the president cannot do is interfere with an ongoing investigation. This is why President Trump got into trouble for firing FBI Director James Comey. Comey alleged that Trump pressured him to stopping the investigation of Mike Flynn, which skates perilously close to obstruction of justice.

But stopping an investigation into Flynn is the opposite of starting an investigation into the Clintons. As a candidate, Trump seemed to understand that the president had the power to order an investigation when he promised on the campaign trail to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary. Chants of “lock her up” were encouraged by Trump at his rallies.

In fact, it was President-elect Trump, not the Department of Justice, who decided against an investigation of the Clintons. Two weeks after the election, Trump said, “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t. She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways, and I am not looking to hurt them at all. The campaign was vicious.”

At a post-election rally in December 2016, Trump stopped the crowd from chanting “lock her up.”

“That plays great before the election,” Trump said. “Now we don’t care, right?”

Now that Trump’s approval rating is in the cellar and the Russia investigation is heating up, Trump’s interest in Hillary is renewed. This may be due to the recent revelations about Democrat involvement in the Trump dossier, but it is more likely the president is using Hillary as a distraction and a way of shoring up support for his base. If the president really wanted an investigation of Hillary, there would be one.

While criminalizing political differences is a dangerous road to travel, in the case of the Clintons there seem to be ample grounds for an investigation. Did the Clinton Foundation break the law by selling influence and access to the Secretary of State? Did the Democrats illegally collude with the Russians on the Trump dossier? Did the Obama Administration use the dossier supplied by the Clintons to improperly spy on Americans? Did the Clintons violate laws when they exerted their influence on the Democratic National Committee during the primaries?

Trump’s calls to “lock her up” complicate any investigation of Hillary. As with his tweets calling for the death penalty in the recent New York terror attack, Trump’s words can be considered prejudicial to the  outcome of an investigation or trial. If the president thinks Hillary broke the law, he should have Jeff Sessions appoint an independent counsel and then stop tweeting and talking about it.

The case against the Clintons is much stronger now than it was a year ago when Trump was threatening to “lock her up.” As the allegations mount against the Clintons, the need for an independent investigation grows. President Trump has the authority to make an investigation happen. And should.

 

 

The GOP Tax Reform Proposal is a Good One. But Leave 401(K) Plans Alone.

The Republican Party will not privatize social security plans, but is considering cutting the amount people can place in 401(K) plans. It is not a good idea and disincentivize saving for retirement. I have seen some on the left note that few can actually contribute the maximum. But the reality is we should want all those who can to save as much as they can now. Yes, they will probably be in a lower tax rate later in life, but we should want people saving as much as they can with every incentive to do so. Just because some cannot, does not mean we should punish those who can.

With the exception of this, the GOP’s tax framework is good. While I will personally be hurt by an inability to deduct my state taxes, I think it is a sound idea. People in high tax states are allowed the luxury of not realizing it because they get that deduction. Governor Cuomo of New York is already lamenting how unfair it would be to the people of New York, but the reality is the people of New York would actually hold people like Cuomo accountable for tax reform if they knew how much they were taxed.

I am one of the people regularly and highly critical of the GOP. There are a number of things I wish they would improve in this tax plan, including lowering the top rate. But based on what has been released of the plan and the compromises thus far, this is a good step in the right direction and we should always want the tax code advancing in the right direction.

Were Democrats Working With Russia Against Trump? Remember, That Russian Lawyer Has Ties to Democrat Oppo Researchers




It is time to revisit this story. The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump, Jr. had ties to Fusion GPS. In light of the Washington Post story that Hillary Clinton’s campaign started the so called “Trump Dossier,” perhaps we need to delve a bit deeper into whether Donald Trump, Jr. was set up.

Trump Warns Mueller About Investigating Finances





Despite denouncing the New York Times as “fake news”, Donald Trump inexplicably granted the organization an exclusive interview this week.  In it, he covered a wide range of issues, but Trump’s fixation on Jeff Sessions, James Comey, and Robert Mueller dominated the discussion in its aftermath.

Trump made multiple surprising statements, including his condemnation of his own Attorney General, but just as baffling as that was his warning toward special counsel Robert Mueller.  Mueller is currently investigating questions about collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.  The President warned Mueller against investigating his family’s finances beyond the scope of any Russian involvement with his campaign.

Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, “I would say yes.” He would not say what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.”

Trump also accused the office of Special Counsel of being filled with conflicts of interest.  In that vein, apparently members of the White House team are already investigating the investigators.  A report late Thursday evening stated the following:

President Trump’s lawyers and aides are scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation — or even build a case to fire Mr. Mueller or get some members of his team recused, according to three people with knowledge of the research effort.

This comes as Bloomberg reports about Mueller expanding his probe into Trump’s business transactions.

FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.

 

The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

One of Trump’s lawyers, John Dowd, condemned Mueller’s expanded inquiries as beyond the scope of special counsel Mueller’s mandate.

Trump’s warnings to Mueller have set off a feeding frenzy in the press, questioning whether Trump is going to fire him.  Reporters have used the opportunity to question the White House’s integrity amid cries of obstruction of justice.  It has also drawn concern from members of Congress.

According to a recent Bloomberg poll, Russia is a “top issue” for only 6% of the American public, but it receives 75% of media coverage.

https://twitter.com/SteveRattner/status/888112148181680130

By all accounts, Russia really should have faded away as an issue.  Most of the public doesn’t care.  But no one has done more to keep the Russia story alive than Trump himself.  Each time it fades from the headlines, he draws people’s attention back to it.

Trump’s insistence on constantly hitting back keeps this story on the front page.  Warning Mueller and investigating his team are just the most recent examples of this phenomenon.

Russian collusion is not a top priority for most people, but the integrity of the Presidency is.  As the old saying goes, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.”  It’s true even if there’s no underlying crime, at least from a political perspective.  If the Left can morph this from a story about Russia to a story about corruption and abuse of power, the White House is in trouble.  Firing Mueller would shift that narrative.

Whether it’s fair or not, Trump threatening to fire Mueller (or the perception that he threatened to fire him) gives a degree of credibility to the Democrats’ accusations.  In people’s minds, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  They wonder what Trump has to hide.  And if he does shut down the investigation, people would become certain that he’s hiding something.  It’s highly unlikely that anything Mueller finds would be as devastating as the fallout from firing him.  The ensuing controversy would dwarf James Comey’s termination.

While Russia is such a low rated topic for most Americans, healthcare is the number one “top issue” in the Bloomberg poll.  It would be wise for Trump to focus on that and leave Mueller alone.

 

BREAKING: Trump Being Investigated for Obstruction of Justice – Report

President Donald Trump is the subject of an obstruction of justice investigation, according to a report by the Washington Post.

The Post cites five anonymous sources with personal knowledge of special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference with the presidential election.

The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

To make matters worse for the administration, the obstruction of justice investigation reportedly did not begin until Trump abruptly fired Comey in May.

The obstruction-of-justice investigation of the president began days after Comey was fired on May 9, according to people familiar with the matter. Mueller’s office has taken up that work, and the preliminary interviews scheduled with intelligence officials indicate that his team is actively pursuing potential witnesses inside and outside the government.

This development comes only two days after a report that Trump is considering firing Mueller.

Mr. Comey Director of Interpretations

“”It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement….” President Bill Clinton 1998

 Like Icarus flying too close to the sun, James Comey might have exposed the height of his self-righteous hubris today. While he appeared self-serving and mean-spirited in his bitter recriminations toward his former boss, he also abandoned all pretense of intellectual honesty when he ventured into the mechanics of phraseology interpretation. Indeed, his bald-faced arrogant superiority in the face of so many missteps over the past year was truly stunning.

To set the stage, Mr. Comey repeated conversations he had with the President regarding the FBI investigation of General Flynn. According to Mr. Comey, the President expressed “hope” that the Director could see his way clear to bringing the Flynn investigation to an end. According to Mr. Comey, this is a direct quote from the President: (Politico)

I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is good guy. I hope you can let this go.

Mr. Comey stated his interpretation of Mr. Trump’s statement was that this was a Presidential Directive: (Politico)

I mean, this is a president of the United States with me alone saying I hope this. I took it as, this is what he wants me to do. I didn’t obey that, but that’s the way I took it.

These statements by the President have been out in the public for several days now. This has given brilliant legal minds such as Allen Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley the opportunity to weigh in on whether the President crossed the line into obstruction of justice by expressing his personal hope: (Fox News)

 Former FBI Director James Comey’s written statement, which was released in advance of his Thursday testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, does not provide evidence that President Trump committed obstruction of justice or any other crime. Indeed it strongly suggests that even under the broadest reasonable definition of obstruction, no such crime was committed. The crucial conversation occurred in the Oval Office on February 14 between the president and the then director. According to Comey’s contemporaneous memo, the president expressed his opinion that General Flynn “is a good guy.” Comey replied: “He is a good guy.” The president said the following: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this thing go.” The Comey statement may provide political ammunition to Trump opponents, but unless they are willing to stretch Comey’s words and take Trump’s out of context and unless they are prepared to abandon important constitutional principles and civil liberties that protect us all, they should not be searching for ways to expand already elastic criminal statutes and shrink enduring constitutional safeguard in a dangerous and futile effort to criminalize political disagreements.

In The Hill, Jonathan Turley writes yesterday: (The Hill)

First and foremost, I am perfectly willing to accept Comey’s account in this hearing. However, even accepting those representations as true, they did not describe a crime or an impeachable offense. Comey confirmed that Trump actually agreed that it would be a good idea for the Russian investigation to go forward and not be terminated artificially. Comey also confirmed that Trump only express a “hope” that the Flynn investigation would end — a statement that Trump made repeatedly publicly. He also confirmed that Trump was primarily asking him to make public what he had already told Congress — that he was not under personal investigation.

It seems Mr. Comey is on an island by himself with his personal definition of “hope”, which might be explained away by his personal animus more than his lack is intellect.

Now, contrast that with how he answered the President, when requested to make a public statement that the FBI wasn’t investigating him, and with his interpretation of that comment: (Politico)

FEINSTEIN: You told the president, I would see what we could do. What did you mean?

Mr. Comey’s reply:

COMEY: It was kind of a cowardly way of trying to avoid telling him, we’re not going to do that. That I would see what we could do. It was a way of kind of getting off the phone, frankly, and then I turned and handed it to the acting deputy attorney general.

Mr. Comey described that answer as basically a brush-off, to avoid saying the hard thing.

We have all heard this reply more than we’d like. It can be taken at face value.  Most accept its literal meaning to be:, “I will find out what I can do to assist you.” Often, upon hearing that reply, one comes away with optimism that something will get accomplished. The timing and means might not be clear, but limited optimism can be inferred. At the least, one can expect the person to look into giving assistance to the request.

But Mr. Comey. He expects you to take his interpretation at face value. Forget the fact that this could be understood as leading the President on, forget the fact that Mr. Comey could have just said “No Sir, I can’t do that.”. Mr. Comey deferred with a comment that wouldn’t and couldn’t be met with argument.

Mr. Comey can’t have it both ways. He can’t convince us “hope” means anything but hope; and he certainly can’t convince us he wasn’t shoveling a bit of manure toward the President in his reply. Perhaps Mr. Comey would have been better served riding off into the sunset, knowing this manufactured sordid mess will eventually come to a conclusion, and allowing history to settle the matter. Instead he has shown himself to be a small and petty man during this episode, much to the dismay of many former admirers.

The FBI can do better than this. The FBI needs to do better than this. Over the past year, this man has been shown to himself to be duplicitous, slippery and treacherous, wanting only to hold on to his job and willing to do whatever it takes to do that. One can only “hope” Christopher Wray rights the FBI ship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Trump tells Liberty University: ‘We don’t worship government, we worship God’

President Trump delivered Liberty University’s 44th Commencement address on Saturday, urging the graduates to stay true to their principles and “never give up.”

“In America we don’t worship government, we worship God,” he said.

President Trump gave Liberty University’s commencement address as president, while Vice President Mike Pence will deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame has had a tradition the last few generations to have the new president deliver his first Commencement address (there),” Liberty President Jerry Falwell told the crowd before introducing Trump. “We’ve always respected and admired Notre Dame University. In fact, from our very beginnings, we aspired to be for evangelical young people what Notre Dame is for Catholic young people. Well, I am proud to say today that the president of the United States chose to deliver his first Commencement address not at Notre Dame, but at Liberty University.”

President Trump then went on to encourage graduates to face criticism head on, while taking advantage of opportunities to be an “outsider.”

“It’s the outsiders who change the world,” said.

“Remember this: Nothing worth doing ever, ever, ever came easy,” he told to Liberty’s record-breaking Commencement crowd of over 50,000.

“Following your convictions means you must be willing to face criticism from those who lack the same courage to do what is right, and they know what is right, but they don’t have the courage or the guts or the stamina to take it and to do it,” Trump said.
Trump advised the graduates to “never quit” and to walk with “dignity and pride.”

“Demand the best from yourself and be totally unafraid to challenge entrenched interests and failed power structures,” Trump said, taking a hit at the Washington Establishment. “Does that sound familiar, by the way?”

Trump promised the newest graduates of the largest Christian university in the world that he would always fight for their right to religious liberty.

“As long as I am your president no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith or from preaching what’s in your heart,” he said. “We will always stand up for the right of all Americans to pray to God and to follow his teachings.”

Trump was endorsed early on in the Republican primary by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., who was thrilled with the address.

“It was the best commencement speech Liberty has ever had,” he said.

President Trump made a few football jokes towards Liberty’s upcoming schedule as well, expressing worry over how would Liberty would fair against the University of Virginia and Army.

Trump also honored Liberty’s nearly 6,000 military graduates, saying, “We are profoundly grateful to every single one of you who sacrifice to keep us safe and to protect God’s gift of freedom.”

“It is truly a testament to this university and the values that you embrace that your graduating class includes so many patriots who have served our country in uniform.”

The president also took the time to honor the late Reverend Jerry Falwell Sr,. who passed away suddenly ten years ago on May 15th, saying that it was his vision that made Liberty “what it is today.”

Overall, students seemed pleased with Trump’s address.

Nicholas Hamilton and Jordan Stein, two of yesterday’s graduates, noted how he kept the focus largely on the graduates on Fox and Friends. 

“I was really happy with what he had to say, and I think he did an excellent job,” Hamilton said.

Stein noted the issues involving free speech on college campuses today, stating that it was Liberty that gave him the opportunity to hear from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump.

Stein called the speech the “icing on the cake” for his time at Liberty University, noting that the speech wasn’t “political.”