The White House has repeatedly threatened or reserved the right to use executive privilege to protect documents and Trump administration officials from House Democrats’ investigations. But on Wednesday, it actually asserted it. And the subject on which it has been invoked — the census — is a sleeping giant of a potential scandal.
Former longtime ABC News White House correspondent Sam Donaldson on Tuesday denounced President Trump’s “wholesale attack” on the press, saying that history shows “would-be tyrants” invariably try to quash the media. “Trump’s wholesale attack on the mainstream press is wrong, and it is dangerous,” Donaldson, a longtime reporter and news anchor, wrote in a CNN op-ed. “History shows that tyrants and would-be tyrants always attempt to destroy a free press. And that is why the First Amendment to our Constitution specifically forbids government from interfering with the work of the press.” Donaldson went on to note that almost every president he covered during his 52 years as a journalist “fundamentally understood and accepted the important role of the press.” The one exception, he said, was former President Nixon. “Compared to what I see today, my time covering Presidents and their press secretaries was a cakewalk,” he wrote. Donaldson has repeatedly weighed in on matters related to the current relationship between the White House and the press. He said in April that he’s never seen a White House press secretary act the way Sarah Huckabee Sanders has, saying that she deserves a “lifetime achievement Oscar for lying.” “I’ve had the pleasure of working with almost every press secretary beginning with Pierre Salinger in the John F. Kennedy administration. And except for [former press secretary] Ron Ziegler, who lied for Richard Nixon, I’ve never seen anything like this with Sarah Sanders,” Donaldson said while speaking on CNN.
At an election rally in Cleveland in October 2016, two supporters of Donald Trump were captured on video shouting, “Lügenpresse!” What was going on? Why would people who are looking to Trump to “Make America Great Again,” be shouting a German word at one of his events? And what did it mean? The “lying press” — an idea at the heart not only of Trump’s campaign and presidency, but of his entire worldview. The news media, Trump complains, treats him unfairly. It does not report all the positive news about his campaign and then his presidency. Instead, he insists, it lies to the public, publishing what he calls “fake news.” Within the confines of Trump’s community of supporters, stories critical of Trump are seen as lies, as phony left-wing propaganda. They’re not to be believed. As it turns out, the use of the term Lügenpresse happens to be quite illuminating. It sheds light on a connection between Trump’s political approach and that of Hitler in the 1930s, when one also heard that word used quite often.
The term Lügenpresse has its origins in Germany during the First World War. Initially intended to counter allied propaganda campaigns (a good deal of which we now know to have actually been accurate) the Nazis used it to attack hostile media. And considering the central role of anti-Semitism in Hitler’s worldview, it was a particularly effective weapon. The idea of a Jewish-dominated press stretched back decades. By the 1920s it was all but an unspoken assumption within German anti-Semitic circles. So now, if the press was critical of the Nazis, the explanation was clear: the Jews. And since, according to Hitler, Jews were fundamental enemies of Germany, the press, too, was the enemy of the people. As with so much of Nazi propaganda, the description of an opposition press based on lies was a classic case of projection. Hitler based his whole approach to politics on lies—something he made no secret of, having described his strategy of the “Big Lie” in his memoir, “Mein Kampf.” Hitler lied to officials about his party’s use of violence, he lied about his own past, he lied to foreign leaders about his intentions, and, of course, his whole understanding of the world was based on the lie of a global Jewish conspiracy. Truth would never get in the way of Hitler’s goals.
Trump is also a man who has never let the truth get in the way of what he wants to say and who projects his own dishonest nature onto others. And like Hitler, he’s made no secret of the fact that he lies — bragging to a group of Republican donors that he simply made up numbers to argue about trade policy with the Canadian prime minister. Trump launched his political career, in fact, on a lie: the story that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and was also possibly a Muslim. And since assuming the presidency his dishonesty has reached breathtaking proportions. In his first 828 days in office, Trump has delivered 10,111 false or misleading claims according to the fact-checkers at the Washington Post. He needed 601 days to reach 5,000, but only 226 to make it to 10,000 — a feat that required an eye-popping average of 23 lies per day. And the topics about which he lies span the spectrum: He’s boasted that his inauguration crowd was the largest ever (despite clear photographic evidence to the contrary). He regularly tells crowds that women have their babies “executed” after they’re born. He’s talked about George Soros financing the “caravans” coming to the United States in order to destroy it. He frequently refers to nonexistent voter fraud, including the claim that between three million and five million people voted illegally in 2016, thus costing him the popular vote. He confidently asserted that President Obama wiretapped his office in Trump Tower. He said 3,000 people did not die in Puerto Rico as a result of the hurricanes that hit the island. And regardless of how often and how definitively they’ve been revealed as lies, he continues to repeat them, over and over.
Once in power, Hitler continued his campaign against the Lùgenpresse. On the one hand, he had the newspapers of his main political opposition — the Communists and Socialists — forcibly shut down. In doing so, the police arrested many of the editors and sent them to concentration camps. Beyond purging the press of “Jewish and Marxist” journalists, the Nazis often took over the facilities and equipment in order to publish their own papers, and with them, their own version of reality. Early on this involved an effort to counter foreign papers that reported on the violence and persecution already taking place under the new Hitler government. The regime offered instead its own alternative reality, calling such criticisms and stories “atrocity propaganda.” In addition to the Nazi media, Germany’s middle-class press also stepped forward to publicly condemn such “lies.” By October 1933, the regime officially excluded “non-Aryans” from journalism. The same law also called for editors to refrain from printing anything “calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home.” The news media was fully in Nazi hands. Though he has not taken such extreme steps yet, Trump has made clear his desire to restrict and ultimately silence critical media sources. One of the more common themes of his Twitter activity involve attacks on various news outlets as “fake.” He repeatedly calls out and attacks journalists for critical reports or for not complimenting him.
Please Grasp the Trumpian BS & the Damage it is Doing
The crazy conspiracies concocted by Trump & his henchmen could have serious consequences, putting intelligence sources in danger along with putting our whole nation in danger. These false narratives conjured up are designed to serve as a diversion to cover up the crimes of our leader. Here is the last part to the article washingtonpost.com/outlook/
Trump’s public comments disparaging his intelligence community have already made it harder to recruit and protect sources. Why risk your life to provide information to a U.S. president who doesn’t understand the stakes, doesn’t respect the work of his security professionals and may even disclose source information? As with Trump’s alarming Oval Office comments to the Russian foreign minister, in which he revealed details of a covert operation, the threat of declassifying sensitive intelligence information for the sake of partisan politics will further erode the ability of officers to ensure the safety of their sources and to reassure sources that they can protect them. U.S. operatives collect secret intelligence to inform policymakers, but most human-sourced intelligence comes from trusted relationships with cooperating security services overseas. Our allies and partners are a tremendous force-multiplier for U.S. efforts. They contribute on-the-ground information otherwise unavailable, and they often put their own officers at risk to provide information that keeps Americans safe. Trump’s threat to investigate their role in providing sensitive intelligence on Russia or releasing intelligence benefiting from foreign liaison sources will erode the trust required to maintain these critical relationships. At the same time, it will supply ammunition to our adversaries and serve to weaken the very institutions that protect against malign activity. The Kremlin has surely been thrilled to watch the president abuse and weaken its nemesis, the FBI. Undercutting the CIA is icing on the cake.
The threat to “expose everything” or look for scapegoats also affects the day-to-day work of the intelligence workforce. It was certainly hard enough for intelligence professionals to maintain focus and take the necessary risks to collect secrets when Trump called them Nazis, commented to Bob Woodward that “I don’t believe in human sources,” or disparaged their assessments on Iran, Russia and North Korea. Community leaders already adapt and contort their professional conduct to avoid the fickle ire of the uniquely ignorant current occupant of the White House. Further undercutting community leadership will have the effect of diminishing their credibility and ability to manage the workforce. Protecting your workforce from abuse is Leadership 101. But the worst problem is that Trump’s effort to demonize intelligence professionals further erodes the public’s trust in its institutions. Like his earlier assaults on the FBI, comments referring to the Obama-era CIA or conspiracy theories excoriating the “deep state,” this new order has the effect of amplifying the false notion that public servants in the intelligence community are involved in partisan political warfare.
Trump clearly wants to find anything he can use to paint former CIA director John Brennan or national intelligence director James R. Clapper Jr. as nefarious insiders who opposed his candidacy and twisted intelligence to damage him personally. Brennan’s strident criticism of Trump since his retirement has made him a target for the president and his supporters to blame and attack. It’s true that Brennan’s public stance has probably made it harder for the present CIA leadership to convince a president with little previous understanding of intelligence that even the director of the CIA cannot conjure up false intelligence or steer the organization to target Americans and engage in political campaigns. But of course, the goal of the Barr review is not the mundane truth, but rather to come up with a compelling narrative of sinister doings. Even if the attorney general’s investigation doesn’t turn up anything of interest — and I can’t imagine that it will — the president’s public allegations will further risk the politicization of intelligence. The CIA was specifically set up in 1947 to operate as an independent civilian agency untethered to the needs of any other department of government. Its primary mission is to inform policymakers and tell truth to power. We are taught that there is no greater sin than politicizing intelligence. Trump may believe that he will gain personal political benefit from this inquiry, but he is further weakening a fragile system that we all rely on. And if he’s going to do his job of keeping Americans safe, he’ll need to rely on that system, too.
The Unhinged Echo
The right-wing echo has been going off the rails for years, which in recent years Fox has joined the chorus. Check out this conclusion to washingtonpost.com/opinions/
Trump, no matter how many lies he tells, can always count on Fox News hosts, certain right-wing outlets and commentators as well as virtually every Republican member of Congress to play along. They either parrot his blatant untruths, decline to comment or take issue with the facts without calling Trump out for lying. Republicans continue to enable and echo lies for fear of being at odds with Trump and his cult followers. The thought that they might be primaried and lose their jobs (mercy me!) has so terrified them that even the least craven among them try to avoid truth-telling at Trump’s expense. The irony of Trump decrying “fake news” should not be lost on those outside his cult, nor by historians of this era. Trump has created an entire administration that operates on lies, exaggerations and distortions — all reinforced by a right-wing media and Republican Party members. Long after Trump has left office, the White House staff, the politicians and the right-wing media who sustained his lies will be remembered for their lack of integrity and honesty. Documenting how they debased themselves and the offices they held is critical to holding them responsible, to prevent them from holding positions of trust in the future and to serve as a warning to those too eager to convince themselves that they can work for an inveterate liar without becoming morally compromised.
Hannity conveniently failed to mention, however, how Trump often encourages supporters at rallies to chant “Lock her up!” about his 2016 Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. On Friday’s broadcast of “Deadline: White House” with Nicolle Wallace, Heilemann said he yields “to no one in my tendency to call bullshit on people at Fox News when they lie, and so, obviously, Sean’s full of it, right?” He acknowledged the hypocrisy on display with Hannity’s comments, but said it was really about the widely watched conservative network’s “relentless, disciplined, aggressive pursuit of a business model.” “The business model of Fox News is to create an alternative reality that is destroying the country,” he claimed, noting how Fox had “created a world where there are tens of millions of people who think Hillary Clinton is a criminal.” “Sean’s not crazy. He gets what he’s doing,” said Heilemann. “That’s his business model. And I think to be clear-eyed about it is to understand what they are doing.” Part of the political reality that Pelosi is currently confronting is one “created by Sean Hannity and his business model built on lies and fantasy and hypocrisy and bullshit,” he added.
We Always Have Hope
Also on our hope from Hope, the final part is posted here from washingtonpost.com/opinions/
It cannot be stressed how damaging to Trump Hicks’s testimony may be. As a close confidante, she would have had communications not only with him but others in the White House. If Trump made self-incriminating statements there is no more powerful witness than Hicks. In a written statement, Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) explained, “Ms. Hicks understands that the Committee will be free to pose questions as it sees fit, including about her time on the Trump Campaign and her time in the White House.” He continued: “Should there be a privilege or other objection regarding any question, we will attempt to resolve any disagreement while reserving our right to take any and all measures in response to unfounded privilege assertions. We look forward to her testimony and plan to make the transcript promptly available to the public.” It should be noted that there is no immunity or claim of immunity for events during the campaign. Separately, Nadler has promised that he will seek to subpoena Mueller to testify. The White House strategy of asserting absolute immunity — a claim that has no basis in law — is collapsing. First, courts ordered financial records to be produced. Now Hicks is coming forward. The House will proceed to enforce its subpoena against former White House counsel Donald McGahn; when it does, he may not have the luxury of testifying in private. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can breathe a sigh of relief. Her strategy of fact-finding without the label of impeachment is now paying off in spades. The House is on the verge of getting precisely the same materials it would have in hearings labeled “impeachment.” Ironically, Trump’s stonewalling has about the same status as his border wall — a figment of his imagination.
Other intriguing & hoped for testimonies would come from Mueller & McGahn, while a couple other key witnesses have been subpoenaed: politico.com/story/2019/06/13/
She’s always been a lying spin-meister, but there’s more to it than that: businessinsider.com/osc-
Goodbye to another confirmed liar: rawstory.com/2019/06/timing-
The drumbeats of war are building:
And China cannot be trusted: theguardian.com/commentisfree/
More Criminality & Corruption Surrounding Our President
Evangelicals Gone Astray