Pro-Trump media outlets that promoted for months the baseless conspiracy that former DNC staffer Seth Rich was murdered for political gain struggled Tuesday with how to report the news that the detective they had believed blew the case open was now suing Fox News for allegedly pressuring him to concoct that story.


Some far-right sites believe that the Fox News contributor turned private detective, Rod Wheeler, was railroaded by the mainstream media. Others made the story footnotes in their reports. Still others turned on Wheeler altogether, claiming they stopped believing him months ago. One prominent pro-Trump voice told The Daily Beast he’s open to the idea that the official police narrative—a bungled attempted robbery—was correct all along.


Wheeler claims in the suit that he was pressured by Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman, along with millionaire pro-Trump booster Ed Butowski, the Trump administration, and even the president himself, into making claims that would “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation. The premise of those claims—that Rich’s murder was being investigated by the FBI—was proved to be false, and Fox News retracted the report.


Some far-right Trump media users doubled down on further audio from Wheeler, suggesting Wheeler’s lawsuit is “fake news” and a distraction from audio that was released much later in the day.


Pro-Trump personality Cassandra Fairbanks tweeted a 27-minute video from an anonymous source titled “Wheeler Admits He Went To Fox On His Own, Seth’s Brother Killed Investigation” that allegedly features Wheeler expounding on the case months ago. Fairbanks implored her readers not to “read into anything being reported on Seth Rich right now.”


The video was retweeted by WikiLeaks, which had also pushed the Rich conspiracy. “Unfortunate for fake news that Cassandra is bringing the truth while Seth Rich is still trending,” wrote a user retweeted by Fairbanks.

But not all pro-Trump media personalities were anxious to come along with Fairbanks and WikiLeaks.


Jack Posobiec, a former TheRebel.Media contributor who notably pushed both the Rich and Pizzagate conspiracies, told The Daily Beast that “the whole situation is a mess” and that he doesn’t trust Wheeler.


“I stopped believing Wheeler after he reported the number of Seth Rich emails was exactly identical to the number of released WikiLeaks emails. Too specific and too coincidental,” he said, referring to the emails WikiLeaks released from the DNC hack at that point. Wheeler had initially reported that the FBI had seen Rich’s laptop, which he claimed contained evidence of the email breach. “It reminded me of when I was in the military and sources would try to double-dip on information that had already been reported.”


Wheeler has spun conspiracy theories in the past that have proven unsubstantiated or untrue, including ones on Fox News.


In 2007, he retracted a segment he aired on The O’Reilly Factor in which he claimed “violent lesbian gangs” armed with glocks were “performing sex acts” nationwide, including 150 in the D.C. area alone. He also claimed he had intel on the disappearance of FBI intern Chandra Levy that same year to the National Enquirer, in a case that has gone unsolved.


“He should work in Hollywood,” said Posobiec. “Everyone threw out his reports. Guy was just trying to get famous. Totally uncredible.”


On the day Zimmerman’s article citing Wheeler was published on FoxNews.com, Posobiec had a single-day press credential for the White House press briefing, which he used to ask the president about Seth Rich. (President Trump did not respond.)


Despite every U.S. intelligence agency’s statements claiming Russia hacked the DNC, Posobiec still believes the private DNC correspondences released by WikiLeaks in the run-up to the 2016 election “were likely a leak, not a hack,” but added that “it hasn’t been conclusively proven to connect with Seth Rich.”


“He lived in a semi-dangerous neighborhood (cusp of gentrification) that’s had lots of muggings so the [Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department] narrative is entirely plausible,” he said.


Posobiec said he hopes the D.C. mayor’s office will release body cam footage as it has “in other cases and could easily do so here, or at least release just to the family.”


Other fringe websites like InfoWars, which blared headlines like “Was Seth Rich Planning Second Data Dump?” as recently as last month, included Wheeler’s lawsuit as a footnote as the last line in an article about a new conspiracy.


“Meanwhile in a related development, a lawsuit filed against Fox News by Rod Wheeler claims that, ‘The Fox News Channel and a wealthy supporter of President Trump worked in concert under the watchful eye of the White House to concoct a story’ about the murder of Seth Rich,” wrote InfoWars’ Paul Joseph Watson.


Both InfoWars and Fox News’ Sean Hannity have tried to tie the DNC hack to a former congressional staffer named Imran Awan arrested last week at Dulles airport for a fraudulent home loan.


Watson’s story was headlined “Roger Stone: Seth Rich Was Partying With Imran Awan on the Night of His Murder.”


Awan worked for several members of Congress, including then-DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and Rich worked at the Democratic National Committee. Watson’s story cites a tweet by Stone, a friend of President Trump, which claims, “FACT – Wasserman-Schulz ‘IT consultant’ Awan was partying with Seth Rich the night of his murder ! Eat it @TheAtlantic.”


The story provides no further evidence that Awan and Rich were “partying” with each other the night of Rich’s July 2016 murder, nor any evidence that the two knew each other.



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Posted by: maboulette | August 18, 2017

Mayor Of Phoenix To Donald Trump: Cancel Your Rally

new trump

In the wake of the Nazi and white supremacist domestic terrorist attack in Charlottesville, the leaders of various cities have told these groups they’re not welcome. But now, after Donald Trump’s shockingly poor response in which he sided with the white supremacists, one major city is now telling Trump himself not to bother coming.


Trump made the bizarre announcement that he’ll be holding a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona next week. Trump’s presidency is in pieces, and it’s not even clear if he’ll be able to remain in office much longer, so it makes little sense for him to be holding a self congratulatory pep rally. But the larger concern is that, in the wake of this weekend’s violence on the part of Trump’s white supremacist supporters, and his subsequent endorsement of them, they could be emboldened to bring their violence to his Phoenix rally.


And so Greg Stanton, the Mayor of Phoenix, is asking Donald Trump to indefinitely “postpone” his planned rally in the city, according to Politico (link). The Mayor is specifically pointing to the Charlottesville attack, and Trump’s own inadequate response to the attack, as his reasons. He’s also pointing out that he can’t stop Trump from holding the event, but that he’s hoping that “sound judgment prevails.” This is nothing short of a remarkable development.


This means we’ve now reached the point where A) the leader of a major U.S. city is essentially telling the so-called “President of the United States” that he’s so much of a disgrace his presence is not wanted, and B) Donald Trump has become such an eager lightning rod for violence that his own political events now have to be viewed as de facto Nazi and KKK rallies where no one nearby is safe. Trump will most likely respond by launching personal attacks at the mayor on Twitter, while deciding whether to postpone and/or relocate the event.


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Posted by: maboulette | August 17, 2017

How Steve Bannon Fought Fox News, Cracked the Clinton Code …


Donald Trump has been trying to push Steve Bannon toward the door for the past three weeks, for reasons known only to him. But now that Trump’s white supremacist supporters have committed a deadly terrorist attack against the United States, public pressure is mounting for Bannon to be fired because he’s a racist. In today’s speech, which was largely overshadowed by Trump’s own racist stances, he took a moment to say something telling about Bannon’s fate.


Back when Paul Manafort was first revealed to be in serious legal trouble early this year due to his sketchy financial connections to Russia, Donald Trump had his White House team take an interesting approach. Even though Manafort had been the Trump campaign chairman for real months, Trump’s team falsely claimed that Manafort had come on late and only been a part of the campaign for a short period of time.


When Trump spoke about Steve Bannon today, he tried to distance himself by referring to him as “Mr. Bannon.” He then went on to assert that Bannon arrived late to the campaign, thus trying to minimize the role he played. This is almost precisely, in some of the exact same words, how Trump tried throwing Manafort under the bus. So not only does this mean that Trump is fully ready to kick Bannon to the curb if he decides he means to, it may also be a good time to revisit how Trump’s harsh treatment of Manafort may have backfired on him.


It was Paul Manafort who told the Feds about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian government. Maybe Manafort would have sold out the Trumps to try to save himself one way or the other. But it’s possible Manafort ultimately decided to give up Trump Jr. in part due to how Trump Sr. treated him in the end. Steve Bannon, if he does get fired and scapegoated this week, could turn around and do the same to Trump or worse.



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On Tuesday, Donald Trump finally decided to publicly and formally embrace the fact that he sides with Nazis and white supremacists over mainstream Americans – something anyone who has been paying close attention has known from the start. But during what might go down as the most horrifying speech in U.S. history, Trump also threw in a bizarre reference to how he owns one of the largest wineries in the country and that it’s located in Charlottesville.


On Tuesday, Donald Trump finally decided to publicly and formally embrace the fact that he sides with Nazis and white supremacists over mainstream Americans – something anyone who has been paying close attention has known from the start. But during what might go down as the most horrifying speech in U.S. history, Trump also threw in a bizarre reference to how he owns one of the largest wineries in the country and that it’s located in Charlottesville.


This means that not only did Trump feel the need to randomly promote his Charlottesville winery during a speech defending white supremacists, he lied about the size of the winery, and it’s not even his winery. For that matter, as a sign of just how toxically unpopular and despised Donald Trump is, the winery that shares his name felt like it had to put up a disclaimer disavowing itself from him.


Meanwhile the nation is trying to figure out what to do with the fact that the person illegitimately occupying the office of President of the United States is an admitted Nazi sympathizer. And for its part, the people who run Trump Winery are probably wishing they hadn’t gotten out of bed this morning. It remains to be seen whether the winery will be boycotted simply because it’s owned by Trump’s son.


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Stern Trump

Donald Trump is finished. If he had any small fraction of hope a week ago that he might be able finish out his term, that’s now gone entirely. The moment when Trump’s flame extinguished, and his eventual ouster became guaranteed, wasn’t when the white supremacist’s car hit the crowd. It was when Donald Trump decided that the real victim of the Charlottesville terrorist attack was Donald Trump, sending him into a self-pitying spiral that’s now destroying him by the hour.


We now have confirmation from the Associated Press of what we suspected all along: Trump’s own top advisers told him on Saturday that he needed to immediately condemn these Nazi and white supremacist groups by name, but the sad sack couldn’t make himself do it.  In the past Trump would have just thrown this segment of his loyal supporters under the bus and moved on. Instead, this time, he decided to pout while allowing the political ramifications to eat him alive. This is always a sign of someone who, at least subconsciously, has decided that he’s ready to be finished off.


Donald Trump spent days alternating between making his own meek generic statements about Charlottesville, which didn’t satisfy anyone, and allowing his advisers to say more definitive things on his behalf, which didn’t work either. Today a visibly broken-spirited Trump had to go in front of the cameras and halfheartedly read the same speech that his advisers had wanted him to give in the hours after the attack. But then he posted this garbage to Twitter: “Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the Fake News Media will never be satisfied…truly bad people!”


Trump might as well be screaming “poor me!” This is the end of him. The most notorious bully of this generation has now been reduced to nothing more than a self-pitying blob of pure pithiness. In his mind, Heather Hoyer isn’t the real victim, even though she was murdered by a Trump-supporting Nazi. The two law enforcement officers who died in an accident while patrolling the debacle weren’t the victims either. Nor were the people whose civil rights are being targeted by Trump’s racist supporters. Instead, Donald Trump thinks he’s the victim here, because his racist political strategies have backfired on him at the worst possible time. It’s a sign that he’s given up. His own self-pity will accelerate his demise even more quickly than any of the of how the Charlottesville situation works against him

Boo Hoo Donald Boo Hoo


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Posted by: maboulette | August 15, 2017

Weird Venezuela War Talk by Trump Makes Things Worse

Out of control

I don’t know if President Trump thought through his comment, whether it was written in a speech, jotted down in an outline, resting in a crumpled napkin in his pocket, or whether it was a tweet he forgot to send. But the only thing worse than an armed operation to free Venezuela is to threaten an armed operation to free Venezuela, as Trump did last Friday, causing consternation through the region despite multiple attempts by others to, well, nuance it.


The fact is, an empty menace may only fuel the Venezuelan regime’s Castro-style communist rhetoric against the very much oppressed political opposition. And an actual intervention would be, well, just about inconceivable.


The threat came as the world watched in dismay the doomsday clock ticking closer to midnight in the Donald Trump vs. Kim Jong Un showdown. Was the Venezuela ploy meant as a mere distraction? A bit of reality show fame for a long-neglected crisis until its 15 minutes are over and on to other things?


Venezuelans have been struggling for over four years to raise awareness of the abrupt fall of democratic values and the ransacking of the productive apparatus that have led the country straight to ruin under a shameless dictatorship. Thanks to the media blackout by the government, only the most terrible stories get out. It’s hard to sell the news to international media, you need death or unbelievable absurdity, but even that can come to seem monotonous.


Then, after the farcical election and installation of a constituent assembly last week, one that is meant to crush democracy, we suddenly surfaced on Trump’s radar.


On Friday, Trump gave that statement to the press voicing his concern over the crisis in Venezuela, a country of strategic importance to the U.S. He went on to say that Washington was exploring several options to handle the situation, and then added the bit that ignited an international media frenzy: “And, by the way, I’m not gonna rule out a military option.”


Many politicians of the Venezuelan opposition, as well as several countries in the region, rejected the idea of a U.S. military intervention. Given the long unhappy history of U.S. Marine landings in Latin America—and elsewhere—that makes sense.


The problem with the opposition’s reaction is that it came accompanied by an arrogant, “Venezuelans can fix their own problems.” Which is not true on two counts. First, after 18 years governed by the late Hugo Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro, we have proven that we need help from the international community; and second, that it’s not “our own” problems, it’s our neighbors’ too.

In this case there may actually be premeditation in Washington—but what are they thinking?

Trump was standing next to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he spoke. And a week before, Tillerson, too had talked about weighing options to change conditions in Venezuela, “where either Maduro decides he doesn’t have a future and wants to leave of his own accord, or we can return the government processes back to their constitution.”


The Venezuelan government, for its part, reacted differently. Before going back to the classic response “váyanse al carajo, yanquis de mierda” (go to hell, damned yankees) coined by Chávez, it attempted to distort the news cycle. Almost simultaneously with Trump’s statement, Venezuelan Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino-López announced that the leader of the rebels who stole almost 100 weapons from the Paramacay garrison one week ago had been apprehended.


The first time Trump dove into the Venezuela issue was early this year, a few weeks after his inauguration, when, flanked by Sen. Marco Rubio and Vice President Mike Pence, he appeared in a photograph with Lilian Tintori, the wife of prominent political prisoner, Leopoldo López. As the Trump presidency was off to a limp start, it seemed as if his close associates had whispered in his ear that the Venezuelan conflict was an easy win. Which it isn’t.


Trump tweeted about his support to López and the Venezuelan cause as the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Maduro’s Vice President Tareck El Aissami for alleged connections to drug trafficking and international terrorism. After that, more than a dozen Venezuelan officials have been sanctioned for similar reasons or for violations of human rights.

Rubio has been very vocal about the Venezuelan cause, perhaps because of the deeply rooted influence of the Castros in the regime’s survival. As mentioned in a recent piece, he’s been locked in a Twitter feud with Diosdado Cabello, one of the heaviest men in chavismo. Cabello’s confrontational style of rhetoric is typical of Venezuelan children. He taunts, and makes up names for people. He’s been calling the senator: “Narco-Rubio.”


But the Twitter feud seems to have escalated. The Miami Herald reported it has a memo disseminated last month by Homeland Security to different agencies alerting them to a possible death threat against Rubio. The article goes on to explain that the memo names Diosdado Cabello, and it insinuates that the chavista bigwig may have gone as far as to contact Mexican hitmen to eliminate Rubio. This would explain why lately the senator has been followed by a larger security detail than usual.


Yet for all the confrontation Rubio has had with Cabello, it is odd that Cabello hasn’t been included in the sanctions list. Many have wondered whether this has anything to do with the U.S. government considering him the person they will have to negotiate with. If this report is accurate, and Cabello actually ordered a hit on Rubio, why haven’t we seen a strong measure against him? What’s in store for Mr. Cabello?


A more experienced politician than Trump or Tillerson, Mike Pence, spent a night in Cartagena, Colombia, with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to discuss, among other issues, the subject of Venezuela. Pence calmed the waters by saying that Washington is hoping for a peaceful solution and that Trump wanted to express determination. But he did not contradict Trump, even when Santos said bluntly that the military option should be ruled out.

Meanwhile that sense of determination Pence talked about is backed by statements of other U.S. officials, like CIA Director Mike Pompeo. On Sunday, while commenting on Trump’s statement, Pompeo said: “Venezuela could very much become a risk for the United States of America. The Cubans are there; the Russians are there, the Iranians, Hezbollah are there. This is something that has a risk of getting to a very very bad place, so America needs to take this very seriously.


The feeling in Venezuela is that the political conflict is now stagnant. But the truth is that Venezuela’s most critical issues are still there. The dire conditions that people are living in are a time bomb. Sooner than later we’re going to be dealing with a humanitarian crisis, and every day that passes its solution gets further away from the hands of those who are looking for a peaceful outcome.

Trump may say unplanned things that come out in the spur of the moment. But he is known to stubbornly stick with them.

But hey, who cares about a skirmish in a Latin country by the Caribbean when nuclear winter is coming over the horizon from North Korea?


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Posted by: maboulette | August 14, 2017

Special Counsel Probing Other Areas of Trump’s Transactions


Seth Connell reports that President Trump told special prosecutor Robert Mueller that he should remain out of business and financial transactions that were not related to the Russia probe. But just this morning, Mueller went ahead and did exactly that.


The probe by the Office of Special Counsel will now look into various business dealings by the Trump business that are apparently believed to have connection to the Russian meddling.


Bloomberg News reports that the probe will now examine transactions involving the President and several of his associates.


The transactions which are coming under scrutiny are several real estate deals which the he conducted with certain wealthy Russians over the past several years.


Now, this normally would not be a surprise; Donald Trump is a real estate mogul and holds incredible amounts of property all over the world. The fact that he did business with some people from Russia is not something that is alarming. But because of rampant Russophobia, any and all things having anything to do with anyone Russian, at any point in his life, must be placed under investigation.

And remember Clinton’s impeachment started as a land deal before he became president and ended up with lying under oath about an affair with White House intern.

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 said.

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Posted by: maboulette | August 14, 2017

Donald Trump, Coward


 For most political analysts, decrypting Trump’s morning Twitter rants has become part of their daily routine. By trying to stir up controversy about certain topics, he often unwittingly gives away what it is he’s hoping the media and the public won’t focus on that day. That helps many figure out what should be covering. But this morning, Trump’s actions on Twitter were the most telling thing he’s said yet: absolutely nothing.


 Some analysts have their phone set so Twitter sends them a text message whenever Donald Trump tweets anything. It is rare  to wake up in the morning and not have any text messages documenting whatever stupidity Trump has already tweeted while the sun was still coming up. Yet some knew with a fair amount of certainty that there wouldn’t be any tweets this morning – because Trump is a predictable coward.


Trump will always publicly and cravenly attack people who stand in his way, whenever he thinks he can get away with it. And when it’s a fight he can’t win, he just attacks someone else instead, hoping to change the conversation. In that sense he’s both a bully and a coward, as bullies are always cowards when the tables are turned. And here’s Donald Trump, too much of a coward to stand up to the white supremacists and Nazis who helped get him elected. Not because he feels any loyalty to them, but simply because he’s afraid of them.


 All of us have watched Trump systematically sell out his own supporters repeatedly since he took office. He’s sold out the poor by trying to take away their Medicaid, because he thinks he can still con them into continuing to support him. He’s sold out his few LGBT supporters by going after their rights, because he only had a small handful of them to begin with, and he’s concluded he doesn’t need them anymore. He’s sold out some of his own most loyal advisers and staffers, strategically ruining their careers and lives along the way, just because he needed a political distraction that week.


But Donald Trump is afraid to sell out his Nazi and white supremacist supporters, because he knows he needs them. They’re too central to his base. They’ve been too enthusiastically in his favor. They’d turn too loudly against him. Never mind that he might gain a few points with the American mainstream for once if he sold out these Nazi pariahs. Trump doesn’t think in terms of boldness or courage. So, he allowed his staff to quietly put out a statement today insisting that he really did condemn white supremacists yesterday, when we all know that he didn’t – even as he cowers to the point that he can’t even bring himself to try to tweet a distraction. Donald Trump, coward.


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Short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said that Steve Bannon is hurting President Donald Trump’s ability to move his agenda forward, and suggested the administration move toward the political “mainstream.”


“You also got this sort of Bannon-bart influence in there, which I think is a snag on the president,” Scaramucci said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “If the president really wants to execute that legislative agenda that I think is so promising for the American people, the lower-middle class people and the middle class people, then he has to move away from that sort of Bannon-bart nonsense.”


Scaramucci blended the name of Bannon, chief strategist and senior counselor to the president, with Breitbart News, the far-right news and commentary website that Bannon ran before joining Trump’s presidential campaign.


Scaramucci’s eventful 10-day tenure at the White House ended Jul. 31, days after he made lewd comments about Bannon and others in an interview with the New Yorker. Sunday’s appearance was his first television interview since then. On Monday, he’s scheduled to appear on “The Late Show” on CBS.


Asked if Bannon will also be shown the door at the White House, Scaramucci said, “the president knows what he’s going to do,” and “has a very good idea of the people that are undermining his agenda.” Scaramucci said he recently “had a very candid conversation” with Trump.

“He’s got to move more into the mainstream, he’s got to be more into where the moderates are and the independents are,” Scaramucci said of Trump. “If he doesn’t do that, you’re going to see inertia and you’re going to see this resistance from more of the establishment senators that he needs to curry favor with.”


The former New York financier also linked the influence of Bannon to Trump’s president’s failure to forcibly denounce white supremacists who held a rally Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly.

“I wouldn’t have recommended that statement,” Scaramucci said. “He needed to be much harsher as it related to the white supremacists and the nature of that.”


Scaramucci said of his firing by new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, “what happens was sort of meant to happen.”

“Obviously, I wish they would have given me a bar of soap and told me to go wash my mouth out in the bathroom and move on,” he said.


To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Brody in Washington at btenerellabr@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joshua Gallu at jgallu@bloomberg.net, Ros Krasny, Justin Blum

Posted by: maboulette | August 13, 2017

Trump Blew It Yesterday on A Level That No One Else Could Have

trump bw

It was fictional U.S. President Jed Bartlet from The West Wing who once said, “Every once in a while, there’s a day with an absolute right and an absolute wrong, but those days almost always include body counts.” He was referring to days like this one. It’s why I find myself agreeing today with people with whom I share almost no common political ground. Yet Donald Trump still found a unique way to blow it today.


Here’s what Donald Trump could have said today: “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.” But it fell to Paul Ryan to say those words instead. Here’s what else Trump could have said today: “I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute today’s grotesque act of domestic terrorism.” But instead those words were spoken by Ted Cruz, marking the first (and probably last) time many ever agreed with anything he’s ever said. Because while yesterday was very difficult to stomach, it was very easy to figure out what side to be on.


And then there was Donald Trump. It took him far too long to say anything about the matter. And even then, he blew it by insisting that this kind of violence happens on “many sides,” whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. The closest he could bring himself to condemning these Nazis and white supremacists was to call the whole thing “sad.”


That’s because he knows today’s attack was a direct result of the vile racist garbage that he’s been spewing for as long as he’s been in politics. Further, he knows that those racists are part of his core base of support, and he’s afraid of losing them now. And so, on a day where things were so clear-cut that even someone as far out to lunch as Ted Cruz knew the right thing to say, Donald Trump instead found a way to blow it, and on a level, that only he could.


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