During the Trump Shutdown the President routinely made ludicrous comments about the necessity of building a wall on the southern border that most experts agree would be wasteful and ineffective. But even worse than that, Donald Trump would claim that his idiotic vanity wall would virtually eliminate, not just illegal immigration, but crimes like drug and human trafficking. Never mind that most of these activities take place at legal ports of entry where a wall would be irrelevant. On Friday morning, however, Trump went further down the rabid hole to assert that the wall that has become a fetish for him was already being built (video below). “We’re building the wall,” he lied. “People don’t understand that. They’re starting to learn.”This, of course is totally false. There is no new wall being built anywhere. But Trump continued down that path of falsity.
The problem with these remarks is that, if they were true, then Trump is actually confessing to a federal crime. There has been no money appropriated by Congress for the construction any new wall along the southern border. And since Congress is the only government body that can allocate such funds, any money spent on a wall would be misappropriation of funds. It would be just as much a violation of the law as it would be for Trump to build a statue of himself at Mar-a-Lago with government money. Of course, this would be a difficult case to prosecute since Trump is confessing to something that, in reality, he hasn’t actually done. And you can’t convict someone of a crime that they didn’t commit, even if they say they did. He could confess to being Jack the Ripper, but since he wasn’t alive at the time, the London authorities would be unlikely to go after him.
In addition to Trump’s fishy confession, he is also admitting that his obsession with demanding funds from Congress for his wall is a scam. If he is already building hundreds of miles of the wall with “money on hand,” then why did shut down the government, making hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer? Notably, he has also claimed that the wall would be paid for by a new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, or that it would pay for itself by reduced law enforcement costs. And don’t forget that Mexico was supposed to pay for it from the start. According to Trump the wall has been paid for at least four times over.
Trump’s fountain of nonsense is overflowing with crackpot assertions and dishonest blathering. Most of it never approaches the fringes of comprehensible commentary. He’s like the schizophrenic homeless guy under the freeway overpass who is yelling gibberish at passing cars. Among his other flagrant lies in this interview are that El Paso “immediately” became one of the safest cities in the country after a wall was built there (it has been one of the safest cities long before any wall was erected); many Democrats want the wall but are being prohibited by Nancy Pelosi from saying so (because the iron hand of the Speaker is forcing unity among a caucus usually noted for being in disarray); and Trump’s foes take their legal complaints to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that has nothing to do with the case at hand (which, if true, would not be taken up by that court).
This is just the latest display of Trump diving off the plank into the deep end of idiocy. It fits nicely with his declaration of “no confidence“ in his own Intelligence team. Or his freak out over the release of a book (Team of Vipers) by his former communications aide. Or his boasting about a poll that actually showed him failing miserably. If there is one thing that we can be certain of, it’s that Donald Trump is not the “stable genius” he thinks he is.
A White House source has leaked nearly every day of President Trump’s private schedule for the past three months.
Why it matters: This unusually voluminous leak gives us unprecedented visibility into how this president spends his days. The schedules, which cover nearly every working day since the midterms, show that Trump has spent around 60% of his scheduled time over the past 3 months in unstructured “Executive Time.”
*We’ve published every page of the leaked schedules in a piece that accompanies this item. To protect our source, we retyped the schedules in the same format that West Wing staff receives them.
What the schedules show: Trump, an early riser, usually spends the first 5 hours of the day in Executive Time. Each day’s schedule places Trump in “Location: Oval Office” from 8 to 11 a.m.
*But Trump, who often wakes before 6 a.m., is never in the Oval during those hours, according to six sources with direct knowledge.
*Instead, he spends his mornings in the residence, watching TV, reading the papers, and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials and informal advisers.
Trump’s first meeting of the day — usually around 11 or 11:30 a.m. — is often an intelligence briefing or a 30-minute meeting with the chief of staff.
*Since Nov. 7, the day after the midterm elections, Trump has spent around 297 hours in Executive Time, according to the 51 private schedules we’ve obtained.
*For those same schedules, Trump has had about 77 hours scheduled for meetings that include policy planning, legislative strategy and video recordings.
Some days, Executive Time totally predominates. For instance, he had 1 hour of scheduled meetings on Jan. 18 (with acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin) and 7 hours of Executive Time.
*The day after the midterms, Trump’s schedule had 30 minutes for a chief of staff meeting and more than 7 hours for Executive Time.
*Former chief of staff John Kelly introduced the concept of Executive Time because the president hated being locked into a regular schedule.
*“He’s always calling people, talking to people,” a senior White House official told us. “He’s always up to something; it’s just not what you would consider typical structure.”
Between the lines: The private schedules we published below do not list all Trump’s meetings over the past three months.
*That’s because many of his meetings are spur of the moment, according to senior White House officials with direct knowledge of his daily habits.
*It’s also because a more detailed schedule — kept within a very small, tight circle — typically has 1 or 2 extra meetings per day that aren’t listed on private schedules sent to staff.
The president sometimes has meetings during Executive Time that he doesn’t want most West Wing staff to know about for fear of leaks. And his mornings sometimes include calls with heads of state, political meetings and meetings with counsel in the residence, which aren’t captured on these schedules.
*For example, the private schedule we obtained said Trump had a “media engagement” at 4:30 p.m. this past Wednesday. The more detailed schedule revealed it was an interview with the right-wing Daily Caller, according to a source with direct knowledge.
*Wednesday’s more detailed schedule also listed Trump’s meeting with former presidential candidate and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, whom he is considering for a Federal Reserve governorship, per Bloomberg. (The private schedule obscured that meeting with Executive Time.)
The longer view: Chris Whipple, a student of presidential schedules who wrote the book ‘The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency,” told us that “there’s almost no [historical] parallel” for how this president spends his days.
*“The most important asset in any presidency is the president’s time,” Whipple said. “And Trump is a guy who gives new meaning to the notion of an unstructured presidency.”
Responding to Axios’ reporting, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders emailed this statement:“President Trump has a different leadership style than his predecessors and the results speak for themselves.”
*“While he spends much of his average day in scheduled meetings, events, and calls, there is time to allow for a more creative environment that has helped make him the most productive President in modern history.”
*“President Trump has ignited a booming economy with lower taxes and higher wages, established the USA as the #1 producer of oil and gas in the world, remade our judiciary, rebuilt our military, and renegotiated better trade deals. It’s indisputable that our country has never been stronger than it is today under the leadership of President Trump.”
Instead, he did the same thing he’s done on countless days of his administration: He turned on his television, tuned in to his favorite program, Fox & Friends, and started tweeting about what he saw. For more than a year, I’ve studied this Trump-Fox feedback loop, the president’s habit of live-tweeting his favorite shows on the right-wing cable news network. I’ve tracked several hundred of the president’s often-hyperaggressive tweets back to particular segments on Fox News and its sister network, Fox Business, that caught the president’s eye. Fox helped build Trump’s political brand and fuel his electoral rise, and in recent years has remade itself as a propaganda outlet in support of his presidency. Trump, in turn, has long been obsessed with the network. His worldview and decision making are shaped by the former network personalities with whom he has stocked his administration, the “Fox cabinet” of current stars he reaches out to for advice, and the hours of Fox programming he reportedly watches each day.
Having a superfan in the White House has given Fox outsized influence over both the news cycle and federal policy. The network’s efforts to infuriate its audience—over everything from NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem to a caravan of migrants slowly approaching the U.S. southern border—can trigger outraged presidential tweets, instantly turning the network’s particular fixations into national news. And because Fox’s staff and guests are aware that Trump could be watching at any time, they often use the network’s platform to try to reach him directly, seeking to shape his decisions on political strategy, legal tactics, pardons, personnel, and more.
No story has demonstrated the power of this Trump-Fox feedback loop like the partial government shutdown. Trump’s incessant craving for validation from the network’s conservative commentators triggered his initial refusal to sign any legislation funding the government that did not include money for a border wall, and then that need sustained his intransigence over the following weeks. His eventual cave shows the limitations of prioritizing the whims of right-wing infotainers during congressional negotiations. But there is no evidence Trump has learned anything from the crushing defeat, suggesting that he will continue trying to make policy with respect to the wall and other issues, on the basis of whether it pleases Fox hosts.
Trump made clear throughout the shutdown that he was prioritizing the support of Fox’s hosts over all other considerations. He consulted with Hannity and Dobbs for strategic advice about how to handle the shutdown, gave a national address in which he ripped language from their shows, and showed up on Fox programs to make his pitch directly to their audiences. And as federal workers missed paychecks and his poll numbers plummeted, the president kept his television turned to the fawning reports of his favorite network and his iPhone open to Twitter. Trump sent at least 60 tweets parroting the network’s programming over the course of the shutdown. The president trumpeted the polls Fox cherry-picked to suggest he was winning the shutdown.
Cozying up to Fox News may have made Trump president. But as a legislative strategy, it was a total failure. It proved impossible for Trump to simultaneously ensure the support of far-right media figures accountable only to their audience and make a deal that attracted Democratic votes. Fox’s own personalities understood the dynamic at play: During one heated debate, political analyst Juan Williams declared that Hannity was one of the right-wing commentators “running the government.” And Republican senators knew it too: One told Axios that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s reported effort to try to end the stalemate with a major deal was impossible, saying, “Trump can withstand Ann Coulter. He can’t lose Hannity and the rest.”
For more than a decade, RedState was a solid voice in the world of online conservative commentary. Unfortunately, the allure of Trumpism has left the once great site a shell of its former self. In April 2018, Salem management determined there had been enough front-page criticism of Trump and decided to take action. A number of long-time writers and editors, who happened to be unapologetic Trump critics, were dismissed from the site without warning. The message was clear: Tread lightly when it comes to criticizing Trump. Before that purge, RedState had a healthy mix of stories that were critical of Trump and supportive of him. Afterward, despite holding on to some Trump critics, the tenor of the site shifted. The leftover Trump critics wrote fewer entries and the hostility toward those who still did was palpable. We learned personally that writers who dare to examine President Trump or the MAGA mentality are purposely suppressed in private or even publicly criticized. In one case, one of us (Kimberly) wrote a piece that was critical of Trump supporters’ attempts to dismiss bomb threats as a liberal hoax. It was published but any references to it on Twitter or Facebook were deleted and done so repeatedly without explanation. Only after speaking up did she learn the piece wouldn’t get shared on social media, and instructions came down from Salem management to stop discussing the incident with colleagues.
Though we continued on in the hopes the atmosphere might change, that approach is now untenable. A cursory glance at the front page of RedState reveals the transformation that Salem wanted is now complete. There is no local editorial control. Decisions are made behind the scenes at Townhall and subject to its review. The writing was on the wall for some time. Purging Trump critics at RedState wasn’t the only time Salem revealed it cared more about loyalty to Trump than about ideology. CNN reported that in 2016, Salem told its talk radio hosts to treat then-candidate Donald Trump more positively. According to emails obtained by CNN, chief executive officer Edward Atsinger had emailed Salem radio hosts Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved at senior vice president Phil Boyce’s suggestion to provide them with “a very well-stated case for supporting the GOP nominee because we have to beat Hillary.” Meanwhile, according to CNN, general manager Terry Fahy told co-hosts Elisha Krauss and Ben Shapiro via email in July 2016 that their show had “not been in the spirit of ‘supporting the GOP nominee’” —although Krauss told CNNMoney that the month of July 2016 “was the highest ratings we had.” Krauss was ultimately fired in January 2017.
Shortly after the Republican convention in 2016, Medved’s afternoon show was moved in at least one market to a less desirable time, and in November 2018 Salem announced that hardcore Trump supporter Sebastian Gorka would take Medved’s time slot this year. Of course, it’s hard not to note the irony that Salem Media, a company that targets “audiences interested in Christian and family-themed content and conservative values,” threw its full support behind Donald Trump, a thrice-married lying philanderer who utilized bankruptcy laws and debt to con tenants and contractors out of their money. Salem now promotes anyone who is pro-Trump, even if those people gleefully flout Christian principles. For example, Salem radio host Eric Metaxas recently hosted far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who, as the Bulwark’s Andrew Egger recently chronicled, saw his star fall after he seemingly praised relationships between young teens and older men. As Egger notes, this came after joking he most dislikes Planned Parenthood because aborting black babies prevents him from having sex with them in 20 years, after declaring, “behind every racist joke is a scientific fact,” or after he stated that women who report unwanted sexual molestation should “get over it” because “it’s not that big a deal.”
We can no longer support Salem, and we feel that remaining at RedState gives the impression we do. Furthermore, we no longer feel as though we can adequately counteract Salem’s pro-Trump stance. We take no pleasure in writing this as we still like and respect many of our former colleagues. We both have our own points of criticism regarding mainstream media outlets, and we, therefore, believe a healthy conservative media is not only beneficial but necessary. Unfortunately for RedState, the focus on clicks above all else, the fight over loyalty rather than ideology, and the refusal to accept any legitimate criticism of Trump is a stain on a once proud conservative publication. We are conservatives. We believe in limited government, the free market, the Constitution, and protecting the rights of the unborn. We have therefore supported the Republican Party and believed in the Republican Party for years. But a healthy Republican Party cannot exist without a healthy conservative media; likewise, a toxic, poisonous conservative media is like a parasite for the conservative movement— and, make no mistake, it will eventually kill it. We publish this with the hope that it serves to push the Republican Party and conservative media back to the ones we respected, admired, and believed in.
To hear the far-right ideologues of Fox News and AM talk radio tell it, life in Europe is hell on Earth. Taxes are high, sexual promiscuity prevails, universal healthcare doesn’t work, and millions of people don’t even speak English as their primary language! Those who run around screaming about “American exceptionalism” often condemn countries like France, Norway and Switzerland to justify their jingoism. Sadly, the U.S.’ economic deterioration means that many Americans simply cannot afford a trip abroad to see how those countries function for themselves. And often, lack of foreign travel means accepting clichés about the rest of the world over the reality. And that lack of worldliness clouds many Americans’ views on everything from economics to sex to religion. Here are nine things Americans can learn from the rest of the world:
1. Universal Healthcare Is Great for Free Enterprise and Great for Small Businesses
2. Comprehensive Sex Education Decreases Sexual Problems
3. American Exceptionalism Is Absolute Nonsense
4. Adequate Mass Transit Is a Huge Convenience
5. The Bible Was Not Written by Billionaire Hedge Fund Managers
6. Learning a Second or Third Language Is a Plus, Not a Character Flaw
7. Union Membership Benefits the Economy
8. Paid Maternity Leave Is the Norm in Most Developed Countries
9. Distrust of Oligarchy Is a Positive
American have learned through experience to disregard most of what President Trump says. The days of Trump snookering most of the people most of the time are over. According to the latest CBS News poll, 66 percent of Americans don’t think Trump should declare an emergency to build the wall. “If government funding runs out on Feb. 15 and there’s still an impasse over wall funding, Americans don’t want either side to force another shutdown,” CBS reports. “Seventy-three percent of Americans want Mr. Trump to continue negotiating while keeping the government open, rather than demand wall funding if that forces a shutdown. A similar number (75 percent) say congressional Democrats should also continue negotiating, rather than deny funding in a move that might force a shutdown.”
While 58 percent think the economy is very or somewhat good, when asked “how the country overall is doing compared to a year ago, more say the country is worse off (50 percent) than better (28 percent).” Large majorities believe Trump has not brought manufacturing jobs back to the United States (55 percent), made the U.S. borders more secure (62 percent), reduced the influence of donors and lobbyists (71 percent), been a role model (73 percent) or tried to unify Americans (65 percent). Majorities have little or no confidence in his ability to apply business-world ideas to government, handle North Korea negotiating or strike deals with Congress. (58 percent don’t think now is the time for Trump to have another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and 82 percent think Pyongyang has expanded or kept its nuclear weapons program.) A substantial majority, 62 percent, think Trump has not handled the Russia probe appropriately, while a healthy margin of 54 to 46 percent think Robert S. Mueller III has handled the investigation fairly.