The dramatic breakup between Donald Trump and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has blown wide open the political direction of the Trump presidency at a particularly inopportune time.
It comes just as Trump is frantically seeking to stabilize a presidency besieged by internal chaos and to cope with his own Justice Department’s investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russian agents meddling in the 2016 election.
The president already has his hands full trying to discredit that probe, and by association Special Counsel Robert Mueller, even as Trump insists he has no intention of firing him. He also has now he has turned against Bannon, his onetime guru.
The catalyst for this bizarre bombshell is a soon-to-be-released insider book on Trump and his administration by free-lance writer Michael Wolff. In it, Bannon is said to have described Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian officials at Trump Tower in 2016 as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” — among other explosive contentions.
In reply to derogatory remarks Bannon made about Trump family members, the president contended that Bannon’s role in his campaign and first months of his administration were overblown. Of his old close adviser he tweeted, “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he has lost his mind.” Bannon, he said, had “very little to do with our historic victory.” Trump also instructed his lawyers to send Bannon and Wolff cease-and-desist letters, citing an alleged breach of a nondisclosure agreement Bannon has supposedly signed.
It’s clear now that Bannon has become another cross for the president to bear among an accumulating list of critics in and out of his Republican Party. After being fired by Trump, Bannon returned to his old job running the alt-right Breitbart News website, which formerly was a conspicuous cheerleader for the president. But now it but has become a vehicle for Bannon’s own political ambitions, including clashes with the Republican Party establishment and national committee that he appears to be targeting for a takeover.
Beyond revealing the breakup itself, Wolff’s book provides a stinging insight into what some White House insiders thought of the president. One fired campaign aide, Sam Nunberg, is quoted as saying he was assigned to tutor Trump on the Constitution. “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,” he said, “before … his eyes are rolling back in his head.” Bannon himself is said to have commented that Trump’s daughter Ivanka was “dumb as a brick.”
Also, a former deputy chief of staff, Katie Walsh, is quoted as saying that trying to deal with the president was “like trying to figure out what a child wants” — an observation she later denied having made.
Wolff also reports Walsh says she was obliged to respond to three different Trump power centers: Reince Priebus, the first chief of staff, Bannon and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.
“For Walsh,” Wolff writes, “it was a daily process of managing an impossible task: almost as soon as she received direction from one of the three men, she would be countermanded by one of another of them.”
It was no wonder the Trump White House came off from the outside as a confused madhouse, with a president constantly getting mixed messages and making decisions as an ill-informed neophyte would-be politician.
Whether all the disclosures Wolff has reported are accurate or not, taken together they constitute more tasty morsels for both the conventional news media and the social media platforms Trump himself so favors.
As a new year gets started, there are already more than enough reasons to worry about the state of the union in the era of Donald J. Trump and his merry band of confusion-spinners.
Jules Witcover’s latest book is “The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power.” Send email to email@example.com.
Republican Block Investigation into NRA’s Illegal Russian Donations
Late last week, the two Republican FEC commissioners blocked an investigation into whether Russians used the National Rifle Association (NRA) to pump millions of dollars into the effort to help Donald Trump get elected in 2016.
Early last year, McClatchy DC reported that the FBI was investigating whether Russian banker Alexander Torshin, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, had illegally donated large sums to the NRA to get Trump elected.
In March, the FEC launched a preliminary investigation into the matter. Now, however, the commission’s Republicans have blocked the agency from investigating further.
“This is an abandonment of the Commission’s basic duty to investigate wrongdoing, and is contrary to law,” commented FEC chairwoman Ellen Weintraub in a statement.
“All our lawyers had to do was pick up the phone, call the FBI, and ask: Are you, in fact, investigating the Respondents for the violations alleged? But when I suggested that the Commission instruct OGC to do so, the Republican commissioners refused,” Weintraub wrote. “We still do not know the answer to this foundational, eminently knowable, question.”
Her Republican colleagues rejected the accusations. Commissioner Caroline Hunter told Newsweek that Weintraub’s “statement is long on conjecture and short on the evidence and the law.”
“Some allegations are too serious to ignore,” Weintraub stated, “Too serious to simply take Respondents’ denials at face value. Too serious to play games with.”
By voice and vote, Communications Workers censure Trump’s racism
By voice and by vote, in statements from leaders and members and in a blistering resolution, the Communications Workers convention strongly censured GOP President Donald Trump’s racism.
Trump’s “naked appeal to white supremacy” is “dividing the country in ways we haven’t seen in half a century and probably haven’t seen since the Civil War,” union President Chris Shelton declared during his keynote address on July 29 to the convention’s 2,000 delegates.
The blast at Trump was one of several highlights of opening day of the union convention, held in Las Vegas. Another was exhortations to build on past political momentum, and victories, in the run-up to the 2020 national election.
“It’s not just the president,” Shelton explained, after citing the need to beat Trump next year. “We also have to hold the (U.S.) House. And nationally, Senate races won’t be easy. But the road to a majority runs through North Carolina, Maine, Georgia, Arizona, and Colorado.”
Vulnerable GOP senators from those states, along with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., and 16 other Republican senators, are up next year. Democrats hold 45 Senate seats, plus two Democratic-leaning independents, and are defending 12. A five-seat Democratic gain would turn over the Senate.
“We must do everything we can to win the Senate and ask American politicians to serve the American people again.”
And the union’s women’s committee – whose report noted a dearth of women in top posts at CWA, in unions and in politics — pledged to put a woman in the White House and add so many women into top ranks that CWA would have to set up “a men’s committee” to tackle their problems.
But Trump’s racism, especially his vitriolic “go back where you came from” attacks against progressive Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City, Rashida Tlaib of Detroit, Ayanna Pressley of Boston and Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis, were the focus of ire, and not just from Shelton.
“In times like these, we need to be united as a union and as a country,” said Diane Bailey of Local 4310 in Columbus, Ohio, during the brief discussion. “Division only works against us. We must not go backward; we can only move forward.”
“White nationalism is wrong. Racism is wrong,” declared Local 4123 President Charles Daniels of Pontiac, Mich. “The president of the United States telling four women of color to ‘go back where they came from’ is wrong.”
“We stand up to bullies and we have to stand up now because it is the president of the U.S., so it’s incumbent on us to say ‘no.’ As powerful as he is, it’s wrong,” Daniels said of Trump’s statements.
The resolution was in a similar vein.
After citing the Statue of Liberty’s poem by Emma Lazarus, the resolution said, “that is the America we believe in. Apparently, the president of the United States does not share that belief.”
The resolution says Trump’s attacks on the four first-year lawmakers, all women of color and all Democrats, are “offensive, demagogic, dangerous and racist.” Trump’s language “poses a particular danger to Omar, given the barely hidden networks of armed white supremacists whose hatred of Muslims hardly needs to be stoked by” Trump.
Omar and Tlaib are the first two Muslim American women ever elected to Congress. Omar is a refugee from the Somalian civil war. Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, and Pressley are native-born.
CWA not only denounced Trump but demands other unions, legislatures and community groups do so, too. Earlier in July, the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union, did so. But CWA also demanded Trump’s GOP colleagues to “denounce his un-American rhetoric.”
“All too many have been silent in this controversy,” it notes. As a matter of fact, the number of elected GOPers nationwide – senators, representatives, and governors – who have blasted Trump’s racism can be counted on fewer than the fingers of two hands.
Though the delegates censured Trump, impeaching him did not come up in either in the convention resolutions committee or on the floor. That seemingly runs counter to continuing grass-roots sentiment among rank-and-file Democrats. But the party’s leaders, in Congress and in organized labor, either oppose the move (Congress) or are silent so far (labor).
The union’s denunciation of Trump “is about his racism, not necessarily his policies,” one speaker said, attempting to reassure those CWA members, and other workers, who voted for Trump in 2016.
“Real leaders unite us so we can move forward, build unity around the American dream and fulfill the bold promise of the Statue of Liberty: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free,’” quoted Shelton, a New Yorker and former New York Telephone lineman, whom delegates re-elected that afternoon by acclamation. They also re-elected Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens, a News Guild member, by acclamation to the union’s #2 post.
Gallery: Inside Melania Trump’s Extreme Forced Plastic Surgery
Melania Trump has opted for some major cosmetic procedures to stay looking young for the President (especially because Donald Trump reportedly had a scalp reduction to correct balding, and maintains his complexion with heavy-handed spray tans).
There have been so many, despite denials, that it’s often questioned whether FLOTUS is actually Melania Trump, or perhaps a new model that Trump had imported. However, most insiders have claimed that Melania was forced to have these extreme treatments, so much that she looks nothing like the original.
- Republican Block Investigation into NRA’s Illegal Russian Donations
- By voice and vote, Communications Workers censure Trump’s racism
- FBI to Investigate Gilroy as Misogynistic Domestic Terrorism
- Inside Candace Owens’ $37,500 Reparation Check
- Gallery: Inside Melania Trump’s Extreme Forced Plastic Surgery