Posted by: maboulette | August 19, 2017

Evangelical Leader Resigns in Protest of Donald Trump


As Donald Trump has made increasingly racist statements over the past week about the Charlottesville white supremacist terrorist attack, many business leaders and public figures have resigned from Trump’s committees and advisory boards in protest. So many CEOs quit Trump’s manufacturing board that it had to be shut down. Then, everyone on his arts committee resigned. Now a member of Trump’s evangelical council has resigned as well.


It’s staggering that Donald Trump even has something called a “President’s Evangelical Advisory Board” as the separation of church and state raises a few red flags. But nonetheless, such an entity exists within Trump’s administration. And as of today, it’s short a member. Pastor A. R. Bernard‏ used his Twitter page to announce his resignation from the council today, posting the following Pastor A. R. Bernardng message in the process:


“In a social and political climate such as ours, it often takes a gathering of unlikely individuals to shape the future of our nation on issues of faith and inner-city initiatives. I was willing to be one of those unlikely individuals, and that is why I agreed to serve on the President’s Evangelical Advisory Board. However, it became obvious that there was a deepening conflict in values between myself and the administration. I quietly stepped away from the Board several months ago, and submitted my letter of formal resignation as of Tues. Aug. 15, 2017.”


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Maybe they’re taking each other down like dominoes, or perhaps today’s tidal wave of departures are unrelated and they’re each merely a sign of the total chaos playing out. But in the hours since Donald Trump fired his Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, multiple other key people have announced their own resignations from Trump’s White House. That list includes at least one name that will be widely recognized. 


Just moments ago, billionaire investor Carl Icahn posted the following to his verified Twitter account: “Today, with President Trump’s blessing, I ceased to act as special advisor to the President on issues relating to regulatory reform”. Icahn has also posted a public letter to Trump in which he tries to retroactively establish that he never offered much advice to Trump one way or the other, presumably as an attempt at distancing himself from the entire Trump administration fiasco. But he’s far from the only Trump White House adviser to resign so far today.


 Politico is reporting that George Sifakis, director of the Office of Public Liaison, has also announced his resignation this afternoon. Sifakis is an ally of Reince Priebus, who was forced out as Chief of Staff three weeks ago. Meanwhile The Hill is reporting that Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Staropoli is resigning. And that still doesn’t complete the list of today’s departures.


Yesterday, before the Steve Bannon news broke, sixteen members of the Committee on the Arts & the Humanities all announced their resignation en masse. At the end of their group resignation letter, they said to this Donald Trump: “Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.”


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There has been so much chaos coming out of Donald Trump’s White House this past week that it’s been difficult to tell what’s been distracting from what. Trump alienated the American mainstream by siding with the white supremacists in Charlottesville, and then he risked alienating his base by firing white supremacist Steve Bannon. But it turns out the probe into Trump’s Russia scandal has been chugging along full speed in the background all along – and now Trump Jr is deep, deep trouble.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team have concluded that Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian government representatives is key to the investigation, and they’re zeroing in on him, according to a new report from BuzzFeed. The report says that they’re attempting to determine Junior’s “intent.” While the article doesn’t spell it out, “intent” is typically code word for establishing guilt.
This appears to mean that the Special Counsel is determining precisely how to hit Donald Trump Jr. with charges that’ll stick. That’ll put Junior in a position where he either has to give up information on his father in the hope of cutting a deal, or he has to convince his father to pardon him, which would wreck what little is left of his presidency. And there are legal scholars who believe Trump can’t pardon his son because he’s an alleged co-conspirator. So this could back Junior into the kind of corner where he only has one way out.
Getting to the kingpin in a conspiracy nearly always comes down to squeezing those under him so they’ll give him up. Robert Mueller appears to be following this strategy to a tee, squeezing everyone from Michael Flynn to Paul Manafort along the way. And now Mueller is even going so far as to squeeze Donald Trump’s own son in order to get to him.


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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, 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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