A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 71st Unpresidented Week As POTUS
Who truly rules America? Laws or the powerful people they’re meant to hold accountable? President Trump answers “I”
“When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.” ―Former President Richard Nixon, 1977
500 days into his presidency and we are already at the stage where Donald Trump is attempting to make a legal argument that he is above the rule of law.
John Adams advocated for “a government of laws, not of men.” All the President’s men are advocating for the opposite: A government of laws, and one man who is above them.
First, Trump claimed there was “no collusion.”
Then, Trump claimed there was “no obstruction.”
Now, the claim is effectively “well, even if President Trump obstructed justice, the law doesn’t apply to him because he is all-powerful.”
That is the argument President Trump’s legal team made in the newly leaked memo to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and it is the argument they are continuing to make today.
News of the January 2018 memo came at the end of a week jam-packed with additional evidence of obstruction of justice running parallel to yet another pardon that seemed to send a signal to President Trump’s associates.
The President’s legal team appears to be fully aware of the fact the President Trump’s repeated interference in Justice Department affairs, the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, and efforts to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller qualify as obstruction of justice. Further bolstering this evidence are President Trump’s own admissions that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation and tweets calling for an end to the probe.
In order to be guilty of obstruction of justice, one doesn’t have to successfully obstruct an investigation. The law clearly states that anyone who “endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be (guilty of an offense).”
In light of this, it appears Donald Trump is beginning what will surely be a months-long campaign to convince the American people (and most importantly, his base) that he cannot obstruct justice because he is the President. The strategy could be in an effort to protect the President in case Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report shows conclusive evidence that President Trump is guilty of obstruction. This way, even if Democrats win the House and Senate, and the House files articles of impeachment, they won’t be able to flip enough Republican Senators’ votes to successfully remove Trump from office because of the base’s blind support of him.
Of course, this argument is legally dubious. And if there was a Republican Congress that actually placed country over party, there would be no question President Trump would get impeached and removed from office after Mueller’s report.
The President’s legal strategy is a PR campaign. It’s up to us, Americans and members of the media, to not let President Trump’s narrative conquer the airwaves. American democracy is being tested right now. If the powerful are able to decide when and if the law applies to them, we will be slipping rapidly towards authoritarianism.
“Whether we shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people [to decide].” — Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after being fired by President Richard Nixon (October 20, 1973)
President Richard Nixon’s Articles of Impeachment were obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. The House Judiciary Committee approved them in July 1974.
Richard Nixon resigned days later.
The rule of law won in 1974.
Will it prevail in 2018?
Memorial Day Weekend (May 26–28)
As #WhereAreTheChildren trended on Saturday, President Trump falsely blamed Democrats for his administration’s inhumane policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border.
The following day, Trump complained about the Russia investigation, and we reminded him whose lives are truly being destroyed.
When it comes to this policy, keep up the pressure. It’s working.
On Memorial Day, a tale of two Presidents.
Day 495: Tuesday, May 29
On Tuesday morning, Roseanne Barr went on a bit of a tweetstorm, but her racist tweet about former Obama Adviser Valerie Jarrett went too far and triggered the cancelation of her rebooted sitcom. Barr later blamed the tweet on the sleeping pill Ambien (the drugmaker hilariously responded, assuring the public that racism is not a side effect of Ambien).
ABC should have seen this coming. Roseanne’s racist rhetoric and conspiracy theories were nothing new. But the network launched the reboot of Roseanne anyway in an attempt to appeal to Trump’s base.
What’s problematic about all this is that Roseanne is not an anomaly. She represents the core Trump fan base (the 20–25%) who are not only die-hard Trump fans, but who either excuse, condone, or hold in racist views. This segment of the population also believes every conspiracy theory the President and his gang of gaslighters in conservative media.
It’s good the show was canceled, but the fact it was even acceptable to begin with, given Roseanne’s views, showcases how America in the Trump era has normalized bigoted views and delusional thinking…because otherwise, how could we rationalize the President’s very essence.
- A Harvard University study estimated that Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico is at least 4,600 people, more than 70 times the official toll. Clearly, this is a major scandal but it got overshadowed by Roseanne. We find out later in the week, just how overshadowed this story was (more on this in a bit).
- President Trump sent out a series of wild tweets, as usual, and one truly ridiculous tweet, claiming that Robert Mueller’s investigators were going “meddle” in the midterms.
- President Trump held a rally in Tennessee and hit his usual marks, but this time he added some criticism of Jay Z.
- The 48th Republican announced they will not seek re-election this year. The Washington Post reported:
Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-Va.) announced Monday that he is struggling with alcoholism and will abandon his run for a second term in Congress so he can focus on recovery and his family.
Garrett, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, is the 48th Republican to retire or announce they will not seek reelection to the House this year, according to a list maintained by the House Press Gallery.
- The Guardian reported:
Ivanka Trump’s fashion and homewares business received initial approval from the Chinese government for five trademark applications days before her father announced a U-turn in policy on ZTE, a Chinese telecoms firm that has admitted breaking US sanctions on Iran and North Korea.
Chinese trademark documents detailing the approvals were made public by Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (Crew), a watchdog group. The group said the first daughter and White House adviser, who represents the US at diplomatic events, already held more than a dozen trademarks in China and multiple pending applications. Donald Trump holds more than 100 trademarks in China.
- Speaking of ZTE, 60 House Democrats are demanding an ethics probe into the $500 million loan the Chinese government made to a Trump Organization real estate project which came three days before Trump’s tweet about the upcoming effort to revive ZTE.
- The Trump administration announced a new set of tariffs on China. CNBC reported:
The Trump administration said on Tuesday that it will continue pursuing action on trade with China, days after Washington and Beijing announced a tentative solution to their dispute and suggested that tensions had cooled.
By June 15, the U.S. will release a list of some $50 billion worth of Chinese goods that will be subject to a 25 percent tariff, the White House said in a statement. The United States will also continue to pursue litigation against China at the World Trade Organization.
In addition, by the end of June, the United States will announce investment restrictions and “enhanced export controls” for Chinese individuals and entities “related to the acquisition of industrially significant technology,” it said.
These wouldn’t be the last tariffs this administration announced this week…
Day 496: Wednesday, May 30
Choose Your Own Obstruction
President Trump appears to think the role of Attorney General is that of a personal fixer.
President Trump has repeatedly expressed his disdain for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Sessions recused himself in March of 2017 because he was a member of the Trump campaign and it would be a clear conflict of interest to oversee an investigation he could be a subject of (that didn’t stop him from helping to craft the letter firing FBI Director James Comey though). A report this week from The New York Times revealed that Trump personally implored Sessions to reverse this decision.
By the time Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for dinner one Saturday evening in March 2017, he had been receiving the presidential silent treatment for two days. Mr. Sessions had flown to Florida because Mr. Trump was refusing to take his calls about a pressing decision on his travel ban.
When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request.
Mr. Sessions refused.
And this wasn’t the first time he tried. In January, The New York Times reported that ahead of Sessions’ decision, Trump ordered White House Counsel Don McGahn to lobby Sessions to not recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
Mr. Trump then asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” He was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s top aide during the investigations into communist activity in the 1950s and died in 1986.
Trump has reiterated the sentiment on many occasions, as he did today, that he if knew Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation he never would’ve nominated Sessions as his Attorney General. Trump continues to cite President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, claiming that he wants an AG who will protect him (Holder never did anything of the sort, and Obama was never under criminal investigation.)
Now, let’s put Trump’s above statement in context.
Jeff Sessions was nominated for Attorney General in November 2016…that was before the public was aware the Russia investigation even existed and before FBI Director James Comey revealed the Trump campaign was a subject of the investigation.
So, what President Trump is essentially saying is that he wouldn’t have nominated Sessions for Attorney General if he knew he wouldn’t protect him from an investigation the public didn’t know existed yet?
If President Trump’s claim is true, it appears that Trump was aware there was underlying wrongdoing in his campaign that he expected Sessions to cover up. Otherwise, his claim wouldn’t make sense.
Overall, this adds to the mounting case for obstruction of justice that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is building. Trump’s intention has long been clear, by his own admission, that he wants the Russia investigation to come to an end. And every time he reaffirms this intent, he makes Mueller’s job a lot easier.
- The New York Times dropped yet another report.
But in the meeting at the Justice Department, Mr. Rosenstein added a new detail: He said the president had originally asked him to reference Russia in his memo, the people familiar with the conversation said. Mr. Rosenstein did not elaborate on what Mr. Trump had wanted him to say.
- The Washington Post reported:
A federal judge on Wednesday gave attorneys for Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, a little more than two weeks to finish reviewing material seized from his office and residences to determine what is protected by attorney-client privilege.
The June 15 deadline was set during a hearing in Manhattan that focused on the status of these seized materials and featured sparring between Cohen’s attorneys and Michael Avenatti, an attorney for Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress to whom Cohen paid $130,000 after she alleged she had an affair with Trump.
- NPR reported: The Russian journalist who was said to have been killed Tuesday in Kiev, Ukraine, turned up very much alive at a news conference Wednesday.
“I’d like to apologize for everything you’ve had to go through,” he said, according to a transcript from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “I’ve been at the funeral of many friends and colleagues, and I know this nauseous feeling. Sorry for imposing this upon you, but there was no other way.”
“Special apologies to my wife for the hell she’s been through these two days,” he added. “Olya, excuse me, please, but there was no other option.”
- The Senate Intelligence Committee wants to interview Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone. This came after Stone’s previously unreported solicitations for Hillary Clinton emails from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
- Kim Kardashian West visited the White House.
Kim Kardashian West met with President Donald Trump and other officials, including senior adviser Jared Kushner, at the White House on Wednesday to discuss prison reform.
- Harvey Weinstein has officially been indicted.
Day 497: Thursday, May 31
8 Months Later, No Power And Not Enough Coverage
By now, you’ve likely heard about Roseanne’s racist remark and ABC subsequently canceling her show.
You’ve also likely heard about TBS’ Samantha Bee calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless c**t” for not speaking out against her father’s inhumane immigration policies.
I’m not going to talk about either of those stories, because there hasn’t been sufficient coverage of one of the worst tragedies to strike America in the 21st century.
A Harvard University study estimated that Hurricane Maria killed more than 4,600 in Puerto Rico. This is more than 70 times the official toll. The BBC reported:
A third of deaths after September’s hurricane were due to interruptions in medical care caused by power cuts and broken road links, researchers say.
The Puerto Rico government said it “always expected the number to be higher than what was previously reported”.
The official death toll stands at 64.
Many Puerto Ricans we spoke to felt their immense suffering after the hurricane had been trivialised and that the emergency response has been lacklustre.
A relatively small number of people may have been killed by the physical impact of the storm, but six months later we met people who had lost relatives as a result of interrupted medical care and saw others struggling to pay for expensive generators on which they were running vital life support equipment.
There was also reported to have been a spike in the number of suicides. We found many still without homes and thousands who had been living without electricity since the day Hurricane Maria struck.
To put this in perspective, the initial death toll of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was 2,996 (over 1,000 more have died from illnesses related to the attacks), while Hurricane Katrina’s death toll was 1,833.
This news came on Tuesday. But something far less important enthralled America’s national media…
CNN dedicated 24x more time to Roseanne than Puerto Rico on May 29 and between 6–9 am on May 30 according to Media Matters. Fox News only dedicated 48 seconds to the news.
Given President Trump’s reluctance to provide necessary aid, attacks on the Mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz, and overall negligence during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, you would expect this to be treated as the major scandal it is. But it’s not. Instead, we’ve gotten round the clock coverage of celebrity antics.
This is journalistic malpractice at its worst and a prime example of the ratings-hungry reporting that fed the Trump candidacy, and now his presidency. Stories should be prioritized based on importance, not what will grab eyeballs.
The mainstream media needs to not only be shedding light on this injustice; they need to prod this administration for answers.
Why are thousands still (8months later) without power in Puerto Rico?
Why didn’t Puerto Rico immediately get the sufficient resources they needed?
Why did the President feel the need to verbally attack Puerto Rico’s leaders and people after the tragic hurricane?
Puerto Ricans are American citizens and human beings.
It’s time their lives are valued by this administration, and frankly, American media. Stay focused.
- As we touched on yesterday, President Donald Trump has reportedly personally urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reclaim control of the Russia investigation. Today, Axios reported that it has happened quite a few times, as well as other requests.
Trump told Sessions he’d be a “hero” to conservatives if he did the “right thing” and took back control over the Russia investigation, according to two sources with knowledge of their conversations.
Trump also told Sessions he’d be a hero if he investigated Hillary Clinton, according to one of the sources.
Trump also repeated the “hero” line separately to aides and privately mused about whether it would be possible to limit the scope of the Mueller investigation to avoid his business affairs.
- President Trump escalated his trade war…with America’s own allies.
- President Trump issued a problematic pardon and considered others.
- NPR reported:
Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen is facing legal peril, including an FBI raid of his home and office — and involvement in a civil lawsuit with adult film star Stormy Daniels.
But in the past, it was Cohen who sought to put legal pressure on others to solve problems for his boss.
For the first time, audio recordings of Cohen’s legal threats, from a 2015 Daily Beast interview, are being published.
- The Associated Press reported:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol will travel to Washington on Friday to deliver a letter to President Donald Trump from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Pompeo spoke to reporters in New York after meeting Thursday with Kim Yong Chol, the former military intelligence chief. Pompeo says “real progress” has been made in the last three days toward setting the conditions needed for Trump and Kim Jong Un to have a successful summit in Singapore. Still, he says he doesn’t yet know whether the meeting will proceed on June 12.
- President Trump tweeted (lied) that he didn’t fire FBI Director James Comey because of the Russia investigation, but reality begs to differ.
Day 498: Friday, June 1
Begun, The Trade Wars Have
The European Union is pressing ahead with countermeasures in response to what it said was Donald Trump’s “pure protectionist” and “illegal” decision to impose trade tariffs on steel and aluminium.
The EU has opened a case at the World Trade Organisation after the US imposed a 25% duty on European steel and a 10% duty on European aluminium on Friday morning.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued citing the longstanding US-Canada alliance and expressed confusion over Trump’s reasoning given the fact the US has a trade surplus with Canada.
WATCH: In an exclusive interview with Meet the Press, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fires back on President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum and says he doesn’t know what the president wants from Canada in proposing the tariffs. #MTP pic.twitter.com/2KvrHw7p0f
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 1, 2018
Ahead of the G7 summit this week in Canada, the finance ministers singled out America and had a message for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The Associated Press reported:
Following Saturday’s conclusion of a three-day meeting of G7 finance ministers, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau issued a summary saying the other six members want Trump to hear their message of “concern and disappointment” over the U.S. trade actions.
Compound this with the rumors about Trump’s potential next move, and you have a President who appears to be on the verge of tanking the one thing carrying his approval rating: the economy.
- The economy added 233,000 new jobs and hit an 18-year-low unemployment rate of 3.8%. President Trump sparked backlash by preemptively signaling that the incoming jobs report would be good.
- President Trump announced that the June 12th summit with North Korea is back on. The New York Times reported:
“We’re over that, totally over that, and now we’re going to deal and we’re going to really start a process,” Mr. Trump told reporters after meeting at the White House with a high-ranking North Korean envoy who delivered a personal letter from Mr. Kim. “We’re meeting with the chairman on June 12, and I think it’s probably going to be a very successful — ultimately, a successful process.”
The President, who is notoriously insecure about his hand size, apparently could not tell that he was being trolled by North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un’s letter.
- Special Counsel Robert Mueller continued to turn up the heat. NBC News reported:
A close friend of Jared Kushner has come under scrutiny by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for his proximity to some key meetings between Trump associates and foreign officials, according to five people familiar with the matter.
Richard Gerson, a hedge-fund manager in New York, was in the Seychelles in January 2017, less than two weeks before President Donald Trump’s inauguration and around the time Trump associate Erik Prince secretly met with Russian and United Arab Emirates officials, including Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, four of the people said.
While in the remote Indian Ocean island nation, Gerson met with Prince Mohammed — also known by his initials as MBZ — and communicated with a Lebanese-American businessman with close ties to the UAE, George Nader, who had organized the Erik Prince meeting, according to text messages Gerson sent at the time and a person familiar with the meeting.
- At least 8 white-nationalists (in some cases straight up neo-Nazis) are running for elected office across the country.
- The Washington Post’s fact-checker was updated…
In the 497 days since he took the oath of office, President Trump has made 3,251 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.That’s an average of more than 6.5 claims a day.
Over the weekend…
Believe it or not, something wilder than LeBron James’ reaction to J.R. Smith’s game losing move or the Caps win happened this weekend. A January 2018 memo from Trump’s legal team to Special Counsel Robert Mueller made some troubling claims. Aside from claiming that the President of the United States cannot obstruct justice, Trump’s legal team admitted that Donald Trump Sr. personally dictated Trump Jr.’s initial misleading statement about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian operatives. The latter admission was a piece of Mueller’s obstruction case, the boldness of which makes sense given the prior assertion that the crime of obstruction of justice does not apply to the President.
We’ll see how this plays out.
Stay tuned and push back.
Ahmed Baba is Co-Founder and COO/Editor-in-Chief of Rantt Media. Writer of Unpresidented and the Rantt Rundown, Ahmed has documented and analyzed every day of the Trump presidency — a very relaxing and non-terrifying experience for him. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or found on Twitter trying his hand at comedy and tweeting about Trump’s degradation of democratic norms.
© 2018 Rantt, Inc.