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.
Russians Are Buying US Farm Land As Trump Tariffs Kill Farmers
Foreign investors, mainly Oligarchs from Russia, acquired at least 1.6 million acres of U.S. agricultural land in 2016, the largest increase in more than a decade, according to a review by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting of the latest available federal data.
The data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that foreign investors control—either through direct ownership or long-term leases—at least 28.3 million acres, valued at $52.2 billion. That area is about the size of the state of Ohio.
“Foreign integration into the United States agribusiness sector has been steadily increasing over the last few decades,” agricultural law experts Marisa Bocci, Kari Larson and Paulina Wu wrote in a September 2018 report published in the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law.
The state with the most foreign ownership and investment is Maine, which has 3.1 million acres that are foreign-controlled, followed closely by Texas at 3 million acres.
Estimates of foreign ownership of agriculture land may be underreported as data can be inconsistent and the latest release is more than two years old. Still, it gives a strong indication of amount of foreign ownership and lease information.
Already, six states have laws banning foreign ownership of farmland. Those states are Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota and Oklahoma.
Trump Defends Withdrawal from Syria Because of “A lot of Sand.”
Yes, you read that right: President Trump is defending his decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, saying, “It’s not our problem,” and that “they’ve got a lot of sand over there. There’s a lot of sand they can play with.”
He said the Kurds, longtime U.S. allies, are “much safer right now,” and added, “They’re not angels.”
Trump has been facing severe bipartisan criticism for having U.S. forces stand aside as the Turks moved into northeast Syria last week to attack the Kurds, who were allies of the United States in the campaign against Islamic State.
Trump spoke at a photo opportunity before meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Wednesday. The two are also holding a joint news conference.
John Bolton Ordered Staff to Report Trump and Guiliani Because of Illegal Ukrainian “Drug Deal.”
The New York Times is reporting that, responding to the Ukraine scandal, Trump aide John Bolton warned “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everyone up.”
Seems he was fired because he would have no part of President Donald Trump’s off-the-books shadow government Ukraine extortion scandal. Bolton also apparently implicated both the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and the president’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvany.
“I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton told senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs Fiona Hill to tell White House lawyers, The New York Times reports in a bombshell article late Monday night.
Bolton, who resigned from the Trump administration hours before President Trump tweeted he had fired him, instructed Hill “to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council that Mr. Giuliani was working with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on a rogue operation with legal implications,” Hill told House of Representatives investigators on Monday.
- Russians Are Buying US Farm Land As Trump Tariffs Kill Farmers
- Trump Defends Withdrawal from Syria Because of “A lot of Sand.”
- John Bolton Ordered Staff to Report Trump and Guiliani Because of Illegal Ukrainian “Drug Deal.”
- EMERGENCY: Turkey Holding US Nukes Hostage
- EXPOSED: The Russian Spy Who Worked for Trump