Asked what he did during the French Revolution, Abbe Sieyes replied, ‘I survived.’ Donald Trump can make the same boast. No other political figure has so dominated our discourse. And none, not Joe McCarthy in his heyday in the early ’50s, nor Richard Nixon in Watergate, received such intensive and intemperate coverage and commentary as has our 45th president. Whatever one may think of Trump, he is a leader and a fighter, not a quitter. How many politicians could have sustained the beatings Trump has taken, and remained as cocky and confident? And looking back on what may fairly be called The Year of Trump, his achievements have surprised even some of his enemies. With the U. S. military given a freer hand by Trump, a U. S.-led coalition helped expel ISIS from its twin capitals of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, driving it back into a desert enclave on the Iraq-Syria border. The caliphate is dead, and the caliph nowhere to be found. The economy, with the boot of Barack Obama off its neck, has been growing at 3 percent. The stock market has soared to record highs. Unemployment is down to 4 percent. And Trump and Congress just passed the largest tax cut since Ronald Reagan. With deregulation, which conservative Republicans preached to deaf ears in the Bush I and Bush II eras, Trump and those he has put into positions of power have exceeded expectations. Pipelines Obama blocked have been approved. Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge has been opened to exploratory drilling. We have exited a Paris climate accord that favored China over the U. S.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.
Authored by Dan Backer via Investors.com, In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of my client, Alabama engineer Shaun McCutcheon, in his challenge to the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) outdated “aggregate limits,” which effectively limited how many candidates any one donor could support. Anti-speech liberals railed against McCutcheon’s win, arguing it would create supersized “Joint Fundraising Committees” (JFCs). In court, they claimed these JFCs would allow a single donor to cut a multimillion-dollar check, and the JFC would then route funds through dozens of participating state parties, who would then funnel it back to the final recipient. Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer claimed the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon v. FEC ruling would lead to “the system of legalized bribery recreated that existed prior to Watergate.” The Supreme Court, in ruling for us, flatly stated such a scheme would still be illegal. The Democrats’ response? Hold my beer. The Committee to Defend the President has filed an FEC complaint against Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Democratic National Committee (DNC), Democratic state parties and Democratic mega-donors.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Wed, 12/27/2017.
Time to investigate high ranking Obama government officials who might have colluded to prevent the election of @realDonaldTrump! This could be WORSE than Watergate! — Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 21, 2017
After weeks of shocking revelations that proved without a shadow of doubt that anti-Trump operatives throughout the federal government actively worked to stop Donald Trump from winning the election, Senator Rand Paul has publicly called for an investigation into what many believe was a sort of soft coup attempt designed to insure that Hillary Clinton became president. While Paul has obviously disagreed with the president on a variety of political issues, his call for an investigation shows that even those who don’t necessarily ‘stand with Trump’ are worried about the damage this anti-Trump operation has done to American democracy in general. Perhaps the most shocking example of anti-Trump sentiment came in the form of a so-called ‘insurance policy’ that was discussed between FBI agent Peter Strozk and his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Strozk not only helped kickstart the sham Russian collusion investigation, he was also the leading investigator into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Keep in mind Strzok was openly supportive of Hillary Clinton for president.
Covering the Trump presidency has not always been the media’s finest hour, but even grading on that curve, the month of December has brought astonishing screwups. *** Professor and venerable political observer Walter Russell Mead tweeted on December 8, ‘I remember Watergate pretty well, and I don’t remember anything like this level of journalistic carelessness back then. The constant stream of ‘bombshells’ that turn into duds is doing much more to damage the media than anything Trump could manage.’ On December 1, ABC News correspondent Brian Ross went on air and made a remarkable claim. For months, the media have been furiously trying to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Ross reported that former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had just pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, was prepared to testify that President Trump had instructed him to contact Russian officials before the 2016 election, while Trump was still a candidate. If true, it would have been a gamechanger. But Ross’s claim was inaccurate. Flynn’s documented attempts to contact the Russians came after Trump was president-elect, allegedly trying to lay diplomatic groundwork for the new administration. Ross was suspended by ABC for four weeks without pay for the error. Later that same weekend, the New York Times ran a story about Trump transition official K.’T. McFarland, charging that she had lied to congressional investigators about knowledge of the Trump transition team’s contacts with Russia. The article went through four headline changes and extensive edits after it was first published, substantially softening and backing away from claims made in the original version. The first headline made a definitive claim: ‘McFarland Contradicted Herself on Russia Contacts, Congressional Testimony Shows.’ The headline now reads ‘Former Aide’s Testimony on Russia Is Questioned.’ The website Newsdiffs, which tracks edits of articles after publication, shows nearly the entire body of the article was rewritten. (The Times website makes no mention of the changes.)
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 16, 2017.
Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org, On Aug. 9, 1974, Richard Nixon bowed to the inevitability of impeachment and conviction by a Democratic Senate and resigned. The prospect of such an end for Donald Trump has this city drooling. Yet, comparing Russiagate and Watergate, history is not likely to repeat itself. First, the underlying crime in Watergate, a break-in to wiretap offices of the DNC, had been traced, within 48 hours, to the Committee to Re-Elect the President. In Russiagate, the underlying crime – the ‘collusion’ of Trump’s campaign with the Kremlin to hack into the emails of the DNC – has, after 18 months of investigating, still not been established. Campaign manager Paul Manafort has been indicted, but for financial crimes committed long before he enlisted with Trump. Gen. Michael Flynn has pled guilty to lying about phone calls he made to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but only after Trump had been elected and Flynn had been named national security adviser. Flynn asked Kislyak for help in blocking or postponing a Security Council resolution denouncing Israel, and to tell Vladimir Putin not to go ballistic over President Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.
Guilt by association is insidious because it can’t be cleared in court. The claims that Russia meddled in the 2016 U. S. election are now known as RussiaGate, in a loose reference to the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. In the U. S., the issue has been poisoned by profound partisanship: those who feel disenfranchised by the election of Donald Trump are trying to use RussiaGate to unseat or cripple the Trump presidency, while those who elected Trump feel RussiaGate is nothing but an attempt by the corrupt status quo to disenfranchise them. Let’s see if we can clarify the issues with some key questions. 1. Did Russia meddle in the 2016 U. S. election? This is the entire thing in a nutshell. But this raises a second question: did Russia successfully meddle in the 2016 U. S. election? In other words, we have two investigations: one to identify verifiable, legally actionable evidence of meddling, and a second investigation into the effects of any meddling–should evidence arise that would stand up in court.
While everyone is fixated on President Trump’s unbecoming and inexplicable assault on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the media has been trying to sneak away from the ‘Russian collusion’ story. That’s right. For all the breathless hype, the on-air furrowed brows and the not-so-veiled hopes that this could be Watergate, Jared Kushner’s statement and testimony before Congress have made Democrats and many in the media come to the realization that the collusion they were counting on just isn’t there.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 30, 2017.
More Americans want to see U. S. President Donald Trump impeached than Richard Nixon amid the Watergate scandal, a new poll has revealed. According to Monmouth University, 24 percent of the U. S. public wanted Richard Nixon to leave the White House six months into his second term back in 1973. Currently, the appetite for removing Donald Trump is significantly higher with 41 percent of the U. S. public in favor of impeachment compared to 53 percent who are against it.
There is a return to the historical view in this podcast as perspectives of change are examined to reveal how governments now behave, and to give some idea whether the world is a safer place or not. The recent drama has been around the G20 meeting in Hamburg when Putin and Trump met for the first time. Cohen considers this as potentially a very good thing, while Batchelor wonders, in his introduction, if any dtente efforts are even possible. The meeting in reality was a summit and for Trump an official attempt to reduce tensions between Russia and the United States, and although there is opposition to dtente in both countries Cohen notes that ‘Russiagate’ forces are mounting a very heavy resistance to the process – much heavier (with details given) than has been faced by other presidents. The main point for Cohen about the meeting may be centred around Putin’s and the Kremlin’s concern whether Trump can even deliver on any agreements between the two countries; this because Russiagate has so weakened the ability for the president to act. (This writer shares that concern.) The U.S. MSM, Cohen continues, of course went into a frenzy of fake news during the summit, for example, about Russian agents pouring into the US, and doubled down on the repetitious themes that are so cherished by them- regardless that most of narratives have been repudiated from official sources. I think that this says more about how more important the MSM is to the American public’s awareness level than government investigations are when a media can edit out the important realities to continue to corrupt the internal politics. Perhaps the, media should also be considered a national security threat or formally recognized as part of government in Washington. The two pundits then launch a discussion on opposition to the previous dtente efforts by presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan. Eisenhower’s efforts were negated by the U-2 shoot down incident over Russia, for example. Nixon’s were hindered by Soviet immigration policy for its Jews, and, of course, Watergate. Reagan also faced huge opposition and overcame it (even firing his neo-conservative elements close to him -Larry). But Cohen points out that what Trump is facing is different – his opposition is much greater than anything seen in the past. And Cohen offers that perhaps this was predictable in that cooperation with Russia was part of his election platform (and the only one still pursued by him – Larry). Cohen also states that Trumps problems have been compounded with his views about Syria that Assad should stay. Cohen also mentions the intelligence aid given by Israel and Jordan to Russia in the war (although I have a problem with this view – more about this later). Many of these subjects were discussed at the recent summit: Trump shares with Putin the view that terrorism is the existential danger. A new solution for settling the civil war in Ukraine was a topic – without the EU involved (and here his opposition is also expanded to conflict with elements in NATO/CIA and the E.U.). Even cyber warfare was discussed – although one wonders how anything that secretive and destructive can ever be honestly regulated between Washington and Russia. Cohen, however, rates these summit talks between Putin and Trump as a major achievement and a necessary one.
As James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, put it, Watergate ‘pales’ in comparison to the current political scandal surrounding the White House. For the past six months, the U. S. media has followed the story of Russia’s interference in the 2016 Presidential election – and the question of possible collusion between figures close to Donald Trump and the Kremlin – with vigor, intensity, and the deployment of an extraordinary amount of newsroom resources. In advance of Trump and Putin’s first meeting, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, I decided to ask Russia’s sharpest and most experienced political journalists and investigative reporters what they thought of this coverage. The Russian media is under nearly omnipresent pressure from numerous entities: political operatives in the Kremlin, who tightly monitor what is said in the press about Putin and the myriad arms of the Russian state; media owners, who neuter coverage and readily get rid of overly ambitious reporters and editors; and financial constraints, namely a small advertising market and a tiny number of readers willing to pay for independent journalism. The result is that the space for independent, muckraking journalism has shrunk further. Yet, even given these many constraints, Russia is nevertheless home to a coterie of talented and self-motivated journalists, who produce work that is courageous and illuminating. I spoke to more than a half-dozen of them, all of whom found themselves in some way bemused, frustrated, or disappointed in the way that the U. S. press has covered Putin and Russia – especially concerning the question of election interference – over the last months.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 9, 2017.
While Bob Woodward is more stoic in his public discussion of the predicament this nation finds itself in (lambasting the ‘fake news’ media rather than directing his ire at the body politik), his partner in un-crime, legendary Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, called the Trump administration a “malignant presidency” on Saturday, and suggested that the wrongdoings committed by the White House were unprecedented. *** Speaking on CNN, The Hill reports that Bernstein warned that the Trump administration is “not functioning,” and appears to hint at a ‘soft coup’ amid the nation’s deep state… “We are in the midst of a malignant presidency,” Bernstein said. “That malignancy is known to the military leaders of the country, it’s known to the Republican leadership in Congress who recognize it, and it’s known to the intelligence community.” “The presidency of Donald Trump is not functioning,” he continued. “It’s really not functioning because the character and capabilities of this president are called into grave question in a way that those that know him are raising serious concerns about.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 2, 2017.
Veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, the man who exposed the Mai Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and the U.S. military’s abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2004, is probably the most influential journalist of the modern era, with the possible exception of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the pair who exposed Watergate. For decades, Hersh has drawn on his extensive contacts within the U.S. security establishment to bring us the story behind the official story, to disclose facts that have often proved deeply discomfiting to those in power and exploded the self-serving, fairy-tale narratives the public were expected to passively accept as news. His stature among journalists was such that, in a sea of corporate media misinformation, he enjoyed a small island of freedom at the elite, but influential, outlet of the New Yorker. Paradoxically, over the past decade, as social media has created a more democratic platform for information dissemination, the corporate media has grown ever more fearful of a truly independent figure like Hersh. The potential reach of his stories could now be enormously magnified by social media. As a result, he has been increasingly marginalised and his work denigrated. By denying him the credibility of a ‘respectable’ mainstream platform, he can be dismissed for the first time in his career as a crank and charlatan. A purveyor of fake news. Hersh’s investigations have not only undermined evidence-free claims being promoted in the west to destabilise Assad’s government but threatened a wider U.S. policy seeking to ‘remake the Middle East’. His work has challenged a political and corporate media consensus that portrays Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Assad’s main ally against the extremist Islamic forces fighting in Syria, as another dangerous monster the West needs to bring into line. For all these reasons, Hersh has found himself increasingly friendless. The New Yorker refused to publish his Syria investigations. Instead, he had to cross the Atlantic to find a home at the prestigious but far less prominent London Review of Books.
Many were anticipating that #ComeyDay would be the most monumental congressional hearing in decades, but the truth is that it turned out to be quite a dud. During two and a half hours of testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI Director James Comey didn’t tell us anything that we don’t already know. Of course liberal news outlets such as CNN are breathlessly proclaiming that we are now ‘in Nixon territory’, but that isn’t accurate at all. There is absolutely no evidence that President Trump committed any crime, and there is absolutely nothing that warrants impeachment. And I am far from alone in that assessment. For example, an analysis published by CNBC says that nothing in Comey’s testimony was ‘powerful enough to end the Trump presidency literally or figuratively’…
On Friday, media speculation emerged that the Trump administration may seek to block former FBI director James Comey’s testimony scheduled for next Thursday after White House officials said that they did not know yet whether President Donald Trump would seek to block Comey’s testimony, a move that would spark another huge political backlash against the president. Speaking to reporters, Sean Spicer said “I have not spoken to counsel yet. I don’t know how they’re going to respond.” As a reminder, the former FBI chief who was leading a probe into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election and was fired by Trump last month, is due to testify on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its own Russia-related investigation, and his remarks could “cause problems” for the Republican president per Reuters. While invoking executive privilege can be a politically treacherous move, recalling past scandals like Watergate, in which Nixon asserted the power in efforts to block congressional investigations, it is worth recalling that in 2012 none other than former President Barack Obama used the legal authority once, during congressional inquiries into the “Fast and Furious” scandal, after weapons ended up in the possession of Mexican gun cartels. Obama was later sued by Congress for his decision to block lawmakers from viewing documents related to the gun-running scandal.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 3, 2017.
Six days after Zembla, a Dutch public broadcasting program, aired an investigation of U. S. President Donald Trump’s business ties to Russian oligarchs and mobsters, Trump fired the man in possession of a great many more details on that matter: FBI Director James Comey. Next, Trump announced that his law firm, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, was providing a ‘certified’ letter stating that he had no business interests in Russia. (That law firm, as ABC News was quick to point out, was itself named ‘Russia Law Firm of the Year’ in 2016 by Chambers & Partners.) The Morgan, Lewis & Bockius letter was dismissed as meaningless by multiple tax experts since Trump could easily have investments with Russian partnerships and offshore entities. The letter pertained only to investments in which Trump is ‘sole or principal owner.’ These omitted minority partnership entanglements are precisely what the Dutch documentary explored. From last Tuesday evening, when the news first broke that President Donald Trump had fired Comey, CNN has called in more than a dozen experts on everything from constitutional law to national security to Watergate to parse each utterance from the President in his Tweets or TV news interviews on the Comey matter. This mind-numbing, week-long repetition resulted in absolutely nothing that one could call substantive in terms of advancing the American public’s knowledge of the President’s longstanding and labyrinthine ties to Russian oligarchs and mobsters. In fact, it has clouded the real question that the Congressional Intelligence Committees and the FBI should be asking.
What you’re seeing in the political miasma of ‘RussiaGate’ is an exercise in nostalgia. Apart from the symbolic feat of getting a ‘black’ president freely elected in 2008 (remember, Mr. Obama is also half-white), the Democratic Party hasn’t enjoyed a political triumph in half a century to match the Watergate extravaganza of 1972-74, which ended in the departure of Mr. Nixon, the designated Prince of Darkness of those dear dead days. Watergate had had a more satisfying finale than The Brides of Dracula. So, in its current sad state, devoid of useful political ideas, mired in the mostly manufactured conflicts of race and gender, psychologically crippled by the election loss of a miserable candidate to the Golden Golem of Greatness, the Democratic Party is returning full steam to a gambit that worked so well years ago: beating the devil by congressional inquiry. In President Trump (uccchhh, the concept!), they’ve got a target much juicier even than Old Nixie. It wasn’t for nothing that they called him ‘Tricky Dick.’ He came back from political near-death twice in his career. The first time, running as Dwight Eisenhower’s veep, he was accused of accepting the gift of a vicuna coat for his wife, Pat, and other secret cash emoluments. He overcame that with one of the first epic performances of the TV age, the ‘Checkers Speech’ – Checkers being the family’s cocker spaniel, who Nixon invoked as a proxy for his own guileless innocence. It worked bigly.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 12, 2017.
A power hungry president has kicked a power player out of office, and the mainstream media is having a field day. Headlines have obsessively focused on Trump’s termination of FBI Director James Comey and the implications that come with it, drawing comparisons to Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal and questioning Trump’s decision to fire the man who was leading an investigation into the president’s own alleged misconduct. While the drama currently unfolding will certainly have profound implications for the present and future, the theatrics playing out on telescreens around the country are hardly representative of the bigger picture in the United States. As millions of Americans fix their eyes and minds on the ongoing developments, other stories are lurking behind the curtain – and reveal far more about the struggles we face. Though they have received some coverage from corporate and establishment outlets, these stories are being forced out of the conversation by round-the-clock coverage of political figureheads warring in Washington. Here are five to follow: 1. The Pentagon is seeking a troop increase in Afghanistan after 16 years of repeating that exact mistake – The last time Anti-Media put together a list of stories falling by the wayside amid a media feeding frenzy – that time, it was Trump’s decision to bomb Syria – an increase of troops in Afghanistan made the cut. Unfortunately, it’s a recurring development. As various mainstream outlets reported – with little traction – the Trump administration is considering sending as many as 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Though options are still being considered – and even Trump and the likes of Condoleezza Rice have pushed for a different strategy – the potential increase amounts to business as usual for an empire mired in endless war with a country still plagued by the very same terrorists the United States vowed to eradicate sixteen years ago when the invasion first commenced. There are currently over 8,000 troops in Afghanistan, making a spike of several thousand troops significant and a sign of the military-industrial establishment’s continued hold over American foreign policy.
In a quite shocking rebuttal to the utter hypocrisy of Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal that was just exposed – explaining how terrible Trump’s decision was, how great Comey was, after writing an op-ed in February slamming Comey… Here is Blumenthal in November: While stepping back from demanding Comey’s resignation, as some Democrats have done, Blumenthal said Comey has a lot of explaining to do about his ‘cryptic’ comments. ‘As a former federal prosecutor and state attorney general, I believe there is serious reason for concern regarding Director Comey’s cryptic comments and hope that more facts will be disclosed as quickly as possible,’ Blumenthal said in a statement. ‘Such actions are highly unusual and urgently require explanation.’ And here is Blumenthal today: ‘The need for a special prosecutor is now crystal clear. President Trump has catastrophically compromised the FBI’s ongoing investigation of his own White House’s ties to Russia. Not since Watergate have our legal systems been so threatened, and our faith in the independence and integrity of those systems so shaken. The only way to restore faith in a non-political, non-partisan FBI is to appoint an independent special prosecutor,’ Blumenthal said.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 10, 2017.