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A year of election misinformation from Trump, visualized

Mr. Trump’s incitement to violence started well before January 6, with a continuous stream of lies.

A year of election misinformation from Trump, visualized

Philip Bump, reporting for The Washington Post.

Before the 2016 election, Trump invested a decent amount of energy on claims that presidential elections were rife with voter fraud. It was transparently an effort to inoculate himself against what seemed to be a likely loss in that year’s presidential race. Then he won — and his claims that voter fraud were rampant were more narrowly tailored to explain why Hillary Clinton got nearly 3 million more votes than he did, or so they said.

For the next few years, he’d occasionally return to the subject, waving his hands about fraud whenever he wanted to complain about immigrants, California, Californian immigrants or whatever. But it was last April when his fraud claims took a new, more concrete form: Democrats were using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to expand the use of mail-in ballots — a tool that made casting illegal ballots trivial, or so Trump asserted.

One could (and many did) watch the plan solidify over the next few months. Mail ballots were rife with fraud, Trump claimed over and over, and therefore an election predicated on mail ballots would necessarily be suspect. By April it had become clear that Trump’s opponent in his reelection bid would be Joe Biden, who led Trump by a healthy margin in the polls. So Trump dutifully planted seeds of doubt about what seemed like a probable Biden win.

As the election neared, he repeatedly refused to say that he would accept the outcome if he lost, instead saying that he would only accept the outcome of a free and fair election — something that he assured his followers was impossible, given the circumstances. Then he performatively demanded that no votes should be counted after the night of the election itself, recognizing that mail ballots that heavily favored Biden would only be counted in the hours or days after polls closed.

It was this poisonous snowball of nonsense meant to set the stage for his declaring that Biden hadn’t actually won. And it worked very well.

In the weeks after his loss, Trump repeatedly claimed that the election had been tainted by fraud, without offering any credible evidence. As surely as he’d built up nonsensical claims of imminent wrongdoing before the Nov. 3 election, he assiduously latched on to any claim of fraud that emerged after the election was over, however obviously ridiculous or quickly debunked. Day after day of dishonesty about his loss, of which his speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 was only the last.

About an hour after he finished speaking, his supporters — in D.C. at his behest and motivated by Trump to try to interrupt the finalization of the election results occurring in the Capitol — had overrun the seat of legislative power in the United States.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Elections January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult President2020 Impeachment

Trump’s weak impeachment defense will expose the depravity of GOP senators who acquit him

Even more of the case for impeaching Donald Trump. Not only is he guilty, guilty, guilty, but if the Republican Senators acquit him, they’ll be guilty of putting the party—and the man—far above the Constitution that they swore an oath to defend.

Trump’s weak impeachment defense will expose the depravity of GOP senators who acquit him

Greg Sargent, opining in The Washington Post.

The real choice they face is not between sticking with Trump or going against him. Rather, it’s between sticking with Trump or remaining faithful to their oath of office, which requires them to defend the Constitution against those who would undermine or destroy it, and to the oath of impartiality they take as impeachment jurors.

Trump tried to overthrow U.S. democracy to keep himself in power illegitimately, first through corrupt legal efforts, then through nakedly extralegal means, and then by inciting intimidation and violence to disrupt the constitutionally designated process for securing the peaceful conclusion of free and fair elections.

Trump fully intended to subvert the constitutional process designating how our elections unfold, and intended this every step of the way. GOP senators cannot remain “loyal” to Trump without breaking their oaths to execute their public positions faithfully.

The weakness of Trump’s own defense will reveal the true contours of this choice — and demonstrate how his defenders, both on his legal team and in the GOP Senate caucus, will try to bury the inescapable nature of this choice under mounds of obfuscation.

Trump’s laughably weak defense

Trump’s lawyers will first argue that the Senate “lacks jurisdiction” to try Trump, on the grounds that he no longer holds office. This idea has been roundly debunked by lawyers across the political spectrum, including Chuck Cooper, a conservative legal icon.

As Cooper argued, the Constitution provides for a Senate vote not just on removal for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but also for “disqualification” from ever holding office again, which by definition must also apply to those who are no longer in office but might run again later.

But the larger thrust of this “defense” is pernicious in another way.

GOP senators hope to take refuge in the idea that former presidents are exempt to give themselves a rhetorical and political means of dodging a direct vote on whether what Trump actually did constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors.

This has been widely depicted as mere tactical maneuvering. But it’s much worse than that: It’s an active evasion of their own duty as public officials to defend the Constitution. This defense, then, actually unmasks their dereliction of this duty.

Trump incited violent insurrection

Trump’s lawyers will also argue he is not guilty of “incitement of insurrection.” They will say he didn’t “direct anyone” to carry out the attack, as he used the word “peacefully” while haranguing the mob on Jan. 6.

And they will say that because the riots were “preplanned by a small group of criminals,” then Trump cannot have “incited” them.

All this is pure baloney. Trump spent months urging his supporters to mobilize for war over the election results, which he said could not be legitimate if he lost, meaning a struggle to overturn them would inevitably be a righteous cause in their own defense. If some preplanned the attack, they did so at what they understood — correctly — as his direction, as their own language has confirmed.

What’s more, if some preplanned the attack well in advance, many did not, and people in this latter group also attacked the Capitol. They, too, were incited by Trump’s haranguing leading up to and on Jan. 6.

And if Trump intended them to be peaceful, it’s strange that he again whipped up rage at then-Vice President Mike Pence while the mob rampaged into the Capitol looking for Pence and lawmakers who were counting electoral votes. It’s also odd that as the rampage worsened, he refused entreaties to call for the very calm his lawyers claim he wanted to see.

Acquitting Trump means declaring that these known facts do not point to high crimes and misdemeanors.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Elections January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult President2020 Impeachment Republicans

The worst thing about impeachment? The lawyers

More of the case for impeaching Donald Trump. He’s guilty, guilty, guilty.

The worst thing about impeachment? The lawyers

Jonah Goldberg, writing in the Los Angeles Times.

in their defense brief, the president’s lawyers claim that Trump’s remarks egging on the crowd on Jan. 6 are protected under the 1st Amendment. They’re probably right. But so what?

The president of a corporation has every freedom to go on TV to declare that his company’s products are defective. But the board of his company could — and would — fire him according to whatever procedure they liked. If the head of the Smithsonian invited a mob to protest outside the Air and Space Museum and the mob ransacked the place because of lies he told them, the regents wouldn’t await a legal verdict before firing him.

The Senate is like a board of trustees for the government. The Constitution gives the senators the authority to conduct impeachment trials as they see fit, subject to a handful of procedural rules. Even the judges in impeachment trials don’t function as judges would in a regular court; the Senate can overrule their decisions.

My analogy, while imperfect, is useful because impeachment is about self-government not criminal behavior. Yes, crimes can be impeachable, but as James Madison explained, impeachable acts don’t have to be criminal.

We all understand that private and most public institutions have every right to police the professional conduct of their officers. Why the standards for corporations, museums, universities, or Little League coaches should be so much higher than for presidents is a mystery to me. In almost every other realm of life, leaders are held to account not just to the law, but to notions of leadership, common sense and the basic decency and maturity we expect from responsible adults.

Countering the big lie

A public radio station stands up for the truth and promises to hold Republican politicians accountable for the lies that they’ve told. No one should be able to so blatantly mislead the public and expect to escape without any consequences.

Countering the big lie: WITF newsroom’s coverage will connect lawmakers with their election-fraud actions

Tim Lambert and Scott Blanchard, writing for WITF.

In the weeks leading up to the 2020 election, WITF’s journalists worked to remind listeners and readers in story after story that results from Pennsylvania would take days to be finalized, and why that was the case.

Our goal was to prepare listeners for any disinformation or misinformation about the count and any attempts by President Donald Trump to claim victory before all the ballots were counted.

What we didn’t realize was that false claims of voter fraud would be amplified by the president’s allies in Congress, state legislatures, right-wing media and conspiracy theorists on social media.

What we didn’t realize was a large portion of the electorate would fall for this lie.

What we didn’t realize was elected leaders, who took an oath to uphold the laws of the United States, would actively work to overturn an election that county, state and federal judges and public officials of both political parties, and election experts, concluded was free and fair.

To be clear, all the false claims about Pennsylvania’s results were attacks on the truth. On democracy.

The constant drumbeat of falsehoods that the election was stolen came to a head on Jan. 6 with a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, as far-right extremists tried to halt the certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory and overturn the results.

The attack’s purpose was to ignore the will of the people, throw out their votes and allow former President Trump to remain in power.

If it had succeeded, democracy would have failed. Some experts called the national security nightmare a coup.

The insurrection was the culmination of a lie that was allowed to fester and grow.

A lie that was pushed by several Republican members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation and by many in the state legislature.

To be clear, all the false claims about Pennsylvania’s results were attacks on the truth.

On democracy.

On the work of dozens of journalists at WITF and across the state, who were doing on-the-ground reporting and talking with the county-level leaders who ran elections.

Those stories revealed the hard work of election workers to get it right, and that the election amid the coronavirus pandemic went smoothly, with no signs of massive fraud.

At WITF, our editors and journalists held dozens of discussions on how to counter the election-fraud lie with facts and original reporting.

Because of the unprecedented attack on an election and democracy, it’s important to discuss some of the basic facts:

  1. Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 legally cast votes. Court challenges were dismissed for reasons including lack of evidence. In tossing out one case, conservative federal judge Stephanos Bibas wrote: “… calling an election unfair does not make it so.”
  2. Eight Pennsylvania congressmen supported Trump’s lies about election fraud and irregularities as he attempted to illegally retain power. Those lies led many to believe the election was stolen from Trump. After the insurrection at the Capitol to try to overthrow the U.S. electoral system, those eight lawmakers voted to nullify Pennsylvania’s election results.

So, as part of WITF’s commitment to factual reporting, and because many who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 have said their goal was to overthrow the U.S. electoral system and government, we will use language in our reporting to show how elected officials’ actions are connected to the election-fraud lie and the insurrection.

Here are two examples:

“Sen. (name), who signed a letter asking members of Congress to delay certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral votes despite no evidence that would call those results into question, today introduced a bill …”

and

The congressmen who voted against certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral college votes are __ eight of the commonwealth’s nine GOP representatives. The one who did not vote for that is U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican who represents the Bucks County-based 1st Congressional District.

We understand this may be an unusual decision for a news organization to make. But, these are not normal times.

We are not taking this approach lightly, and will apply it for lawmakers who took at least one of these three actions: signed on to a Texas lawsuit aimed at invalidating Pennsylvania’s election; signed on to a state House or a state Senate letter urging Congressional representatives to object to or delay certification; and voted against certification. The list of lawmakers is here.

When using this language, we’ll consider whether the lawmaker has admitted their mistake, and how the language fits in to each particular story.

… We would like to emphasize our approach is based in fact and provides the proper context to the decisions made by Republican elected officials in the commonwealth.

This wasn’t a policy disagreement over taxes, abortion, or government spending.

This wasn’t lawmakers spinning an issue in their favor.

This was either knowingly spreading disinformation or outright lying by elected officials to overturn an election in an attempt to keep former President Trump in office.

This was an unprecedented assault on the fabric of American democracy.

To us, this is a matter of holding elected officials accountable for their actions.

Impeachment Shows How Partisan Politics Have Swamped the Constitution

Opening with a useful summary of the case for impeaching Donald Trump.

Impeachment Shows How Partisan Politics Have Swamped the Constitution

Jonah Goldberg, writing for The Dispatch.

Let me say up front I think it’s an open-and-shut case that Trump committed numerous impeachable acts, and in a healthy republic, any self-respecting Congress would have moved within hours of the assault to impeach, try, and convict him.

Over the 63 days between Election Day and the siege, Trump manufactured fraudulent claims that the election was stolen. He was recorded improperly—and almost certainly illegally—pressuring Georgia election officials to “find” the votes he needed to win the state. He invited supporters to come to Washington to pressure the vice president and Congress to commit unconstitutional acts so he could overturn the election he lost and hold power.

Whether Trump intended to incite violence or just negligently incited it is immaterial. The violence makes it worse, of course. But even exhorting the peaceful intimidation of officials conducting their constitutional duties would be a violation of his oath. Moreover, that the president was derelict in his duty to do everything he could to put down the violence once it was unfolding as he watched TV and fielded calls for help is also nakedly impeachable.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Elections January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult President2020 Impeachment Republicans

Rudy Giuliani Sued by Dominion Voting Systems Over False Election Claims

Perhaps one person will get what he’s richly earned. Giuliani has done more than anyone besides the President to lie about the results of the Presidential election. It’d be nice if he paid some price for that.

Rudy Giuliani Sued by Dominion Voting Systems Over False Election Claims

Nick Corasaniti, reporting for the New York Times.

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit on Monday against Rudolph W. Giuliani, the lawyer for Donald J. Trump and former mayor of New York City who played a key role in the former president’s monthslong effort to subvert the 2020 election.

The 107-page lawsuit, filed in the Federal District Court in Washington, accuses Mr. Giuliani of carrying out “a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion” made up of “demonstrably false” allegations, in part to enrich himself through legal fees and his podcast.

The suit seeks damages of more than $1.3 billion and is based on more than 50 statements Mr. Giuliani made at legislative hearings, on Twitter, on his podcast and in the conservative news media, where he spun a fictitious narrative of a plot by one of the biggest voting machine manufacturers in the country to flip votes to President Biden.

Mr. Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump’s closest advisers and confidants, has faced continuing fallout for his highly visible efforts to reverse the election outcome. This month, the chairman of the New York State Senate’s judiciary committee formally requested that the state court system strip Mr. Giuliani of his law license.

Mr. Giuliani did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taken together with a lawsuit the company filed this month against Sidney Powell, another lawyer who was allied with Mr. Trump, the suit represents a point-by-point rebuke of one of the more outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding last year’s election. The president’s allies had contended that the voting machine company — which was also used in states during Mr. Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, has been tested by government agencies, and was used in states Mr. Trump carried in 2020 — was somehow involved in a rigged election, partly as a result of ties to a long-deceased Venezuelan dictator.

“Dominion was not founded in Venezuela to fix elections for Hugo Chávez,” the suit says. “It was founded in 2002 in John Poulos’s basement in Toronto to help blind people vote on paper ballots.” The suit later adds that the headquarters for the company’s United States subsidiary is in Denver.

Laying out a timeline of Mr. Giuliani’s comments about Dominion on Twitter, his podcast and Fox News, the company notes that Mr. Giuliani avoided mentioning Dominion in court, where he could have faced legal ramifications for falsehoods. “Notably, not a single one of the three complaints signed and filed by Giuliani and other attorneys for the Trump Campaign in the Pennsylvania action contained any allegations about Dominion,” the lawsuit says.

This entry was tagged. Elections MAGA Cult President2020

How Democrats Planned for Doomsday

There are two messages here. First, nothing Mr. Trump did was a surprise. He’d been telegraphing his plans for holding onto power for months. Secondly, the left actually managed to coordinate an effective response to counter it.

How Democrats Planned for Doomsday

Alexander Burns, writing for the New York Times.

By the time rioters ransacked the Capitol, the machinery of the left had already been primed to respond — prepared by months spent sketching out doomsday scenarios and mapping out responses, by countless hours of training exercises and reams of opinion research.

At each juncture, the activist wing of the Democratic coalition deployed its resources deliberately, channeling its energy toward countering Mr. Trump’s attempts at sabotage. Joseph R. Biden Jr., an avowed centrist who has often boasted of beating his more liberal primary opponents, was a beneficiary of their work.

Just as important, progressive groups reckoned with their own vulnerabilities: The impulses toward fiery rhetoric and divisive demands — which generated polarizing slogans like “Abolish ICE” and “Defund the police” — were supplanted by a more studied vocabulary, developed through nightly opinion research and message testing.

Worried that Mr. Trump might use any unruly demonstrations as pretext for a federal crackdown of the kind seen last summer in Portland, Ore., progressives organized mass gatherings only sparingly and in highly choreographed ways after Nov. 3. In a year of surging political energy across the left and of record-breaking voter turnout, one side has stifled itself to an extraordinary degree during the precarious postelection period.

Since the violence of Jan. 6, progressive leaders have not deployed large-scale public protests at all.

Interviews with nearly two dozen leaders involved in the effort, and a review of several hundred pages of planning documents, polling presentations and legal memorandums, revealed an uncommon — and previously unreported — degree of collaboration among progressive groups that often struggle to work so closely together because of competition over political turf, funding and conflicting ideological priorities.

For the organizers of the effort, it represents both a good-news story — Mr. Trump was thwarted — and an ominous sign that such exhaustive efforts were required to protect election results that were not all that close.

For the most part, the organized left anticipated Mr. Trump’s postelection schemes, including his premature attempt to claim a victory he had not achieved, his pressure campaigns targeting Republican election administrators and county officials and his incitement of far-right violence, strategy documents show.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Elections January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult President2020

Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting AG

Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting AG - The New York Times

Katie Benner, writing for the New York Times.

The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. Trump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.

The unassuming lawyer who worked on the plan, Jeffrey Clark, had been devising ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark.

The department officials, convened on a conference call, then asked each other: What will you do if Mr. Rosen is dismissed?

The answer was unanimous. They would resign.

Their informal pact ultimately helped persuade Mr. Trump to keep Mr. Rosen in place, calculating that a furor over mass resignations at the top of the Justice Department would eclipse any attention on his baseless accusations of voter fraud. Mr. Trump’s decision came only after Mr. Rosen and Mr. Clark made their competing cases to him in a bizarre White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of Mr. Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” albeit one that could prompt a constitutional crisis.

The previously unknown chapter was the culmination of the president’s long-running effort to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda. He also pressed Mr. Rosen to appoint special counsels, including one who would look into Dominion Voting Systems, a maker of election equipment that Mr. Trump’s allies had falsely said was working with Venezuela to flip votes from Mr. Trump to Joseph R. Biden Jr.

This account of the department’s final days under Mr. Trump’s leadership is based on interviews with four former Trump administration officials who asked not to be named because of fear of retaliation.

This entry was tagged. Corruption Donald Trump President2020

Impeach President Trump

The President must be impeached and removed from office.

President Trump spent the last 2 weeks calling his supporters to Washington D.C. This morning, he held an outdoor rally in the capitol, riling up his supporters. He and his personal lawyer talked about fighting for the Presidency, having a “trial by combat”. Then he spent hours silently watching from the Oval Office as his supporters left the rally, marched to the Capitol Building, fought their way inside, and prevented Congress from tallying the electoral votes that would finalize his loss.

This is insurrection and an attempted coup. No American president should ever be allowed to incite violence. Even less should a president be allowed to incite violence in the furtherance of their own power. Condemn this action now, in the strongest way possible, or America will be forever weakened. Possibly fatally.

What It Looks Like to Care for Separated Migrant Children

This isn’t heartbreaking or gut wrenching. This is legitimately traumatizing. As a parent, having my children kidnapped from me like this is my worst nightmare. America did this to parents who were fleeing violence and persecution, who came to the United States hoping to find safety. But modern Republicans are fiercely xenophobic and greeted them with terror and horror, by taking away their children.

This is what Republicans—and the evangelical Christians who enable them—stand for.

What It Looks Like to Care for Separated Migrant Children by Caitlin Dickerson, for The New York Times

Ms. Acevedo was just settling into the role when things suddenly became more chaotic, in the late summer of 2017. Unlike the teenagers she was used to working with, who had intentionally crossed the border alone, the separated children who began to arrive were inconsolable when they reached her. Each new one seemed to traumatize the rest all over again. “It was horrible,” she said. “We could not do work. It was just a classroom full of crying kids all day.”

Even after covering family separations for over a year, as an immigration reporter for the National desk at The New York Times, I was struck by how much they uprooted not only the lives of family members who were divided from each other, but also the people like Ms. Acevedo who were charged with caring for them. While she was on call, Ms. Acevedo had to be available 24-7. She often waited up after midnight to meet newly separated children arriving at her office, transported from the border by contract workers. She would be roused from bed by phone calls about children who refused to eat or leave their rooms until they were allowed to speak to the parents from whom they had been separated.

Ms. Acevedo was particularly good at soothing them during outbursts, which usually meant going from classroom to classroom and pulling up videos of songs from “Frozen” or “Moana” on her phone. It helped that she could identify with the children. She still remembers the day in first grade when she had to participate in a classroom discussion about family. She didn’t know how to say in English that she didn’t have any siblings, so she lied and said she had a brother.

Many of the parents of children on her caseload ended up being deported, ending any hope of a quick reunion. When that happened, she would meet with her fellow caseworkers and staff therapists, sometimes for hours, to discuss how to break the news to the child. They used pictures and puppets to illustrate the distance between the United States and countries like Guatemala. And they spoke in intentionally vague terms to avoid making false promises about when the children might be able to see their parents again, after learning the hard way that even those who were barely old enough to talk would latch on to any concrete expectation.

“We would have to say, ‘In many, many days you will be reunited with your parent, but we have to do a lot of paperwork,’ ” she told me, mimicking the soft voice she would use with an upset child. “The kids would still be like, ‘O.K., when am I going?’ They would start crying and it wasn’t just tears, it was screams.”

Parents who were in detention would call to ask whether they should give up their asylum claims, as Constantin’s father had. They said they had been promised they would get their children back. Ms. Acevedo would tell them she had received no such assurance from the federal government and could not advise them on how to proceed. “The parents would sign in desperation and then, the next thing you know, they would call me from their home country and say, ‘I’m here, where’s my child? Give me my child back.’”

This entry was tagged. Children Donald Trump Immigration Immigration Policy President2020

Refugees Who Assisted U.S. Military Denied Entry Into U.S

Refugees Who Assisted U.S. Military Denied Entry Into U.S

They risked their own lives and the lives of their families to help American troops in Iraq. Their assistance saved the lives of American service members. You want to support the troops? It starts with supporting the people who support the troops.

Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant bias will result in more American soldiers being killed, in future conflicts. Once again, he’s either too mentally challenged to realize the consequences of his actions or he’s too self-centered to do what’s best for America and America’s allies.

Veterans and active-duty service members fear that the exclusion of those who assisted the military from resettlement is the real threat to national security because such cooperation will be harder to come by in future conflicts. More than 9,800 Iraqis were welcomed to the United States in 2016, according to State Department data. By the 2019 fiscal year, that was down to 465.

“If the message is sent that those who stepped up to help American service members were left behind, forgotten, and to die, then it’s going to significantly reduce the likelihood of people stepping forward in the future in other countries to help U.S. service members with their missions,” said Allen Vaught, a former captain in the Army who served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004.

Mr. Vaught has helped two Iraqis and their families resettle in Texas, his home state, where he served in the Legislature from 2007 to 2011. Two other translators who helped his squad were executed, Mr. Vaught said. He has spent years lobbying for the approval of a fifth who fled to Egypt in 2014 to escape retaliation from Iraqi militia groups. At least 110,000 Iraqis are waiting to be approved as refugees based on their assistance to the American authorities, according to resettlement organizations.

“Anyone who worked with U.S. forces had a scarlet letter,” Mr. Vaught said. “They had a mark on their head. And the way they killed them was gruesome. One of my translators was burned alive.”

“We’ve got a lot of things to make right,” he added.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Foreign Policy Immigration Iraq President2020

Refugee data on religion disappears as fewer persecuted Christians admitted to US

God loves the refugees who live among us. God wants us to love the refugees who live among us. These aren’t my words, these are God’s commands, from Deuteronomy 14. And, yet, under President Donald Trump the United States turns away almost all refugees and the President attacks the ones who already live here. This is an anti-Christian, anti-Biblical stance. And America’s Christians either silently agree (therefore allowing it to happen), or join in the attacks by treating Trump’s words as applause lines.

If you are a Christian, why would you vote for a man who opposes and oppresses the weak and the vulnerable? There is nothing in these policies that makes God happy or glorifies God.

Refugee data on religion disappears as fewer persecuted Christians admitted to US

by Emily McFarlan Miller, Jack Jenkins, for Religion News Service

The data showed a precipitous drop in recent years in the number of Christian refugees admitted to the U.S. from the 50 countries at the top of Open Doors USA’s World Watch List. The annual list tracks the places where Christians face the worst persecution.

President Donald Trump promised in his first days in office to make helping persecuted Christians a priority for his administration.

But the last numbers made available by the State Department — which Soerens downloaded Friday before they disappeared from the department’s website — show the number of Christians admitted from those countries dropped 83.2% from fiscal years 2016 to 2020.

Just 2,811 Christian refugees were admitted to the U.S. from the countries on the World Watch List in fiscal 2020, which ended last month. By contrast, 16,714 Christians from those countries were admitted to the United States in fiscal 2016, former President Barack Obama’s last full year in office.

This entry was tagged. Bible Christian Living Christianity Donald Trump Immigration Policy President2020

Turning Power of State Against Rivals, Trump Seeks Power of Authoritarians

No matter how much he talks about law and order, Donald Trump has no respect for the law. From his first day in office, he’s been interested in using the power of the Presidency to punish his enemies. Not for real violations of the law, but for merely opposing him. He doesn’t see a difference between Donald Trump, the individual, and the office of the President of the United States. He views any opposition to him personally as a crime against America and wants his opponents treated as traitors and criminals.

Turning Power of State Against Rivals, Trump Seeks Power of Authoritarians

by David Sanger, for the New York Times

President Trump’s order to his secretary of state to declassify thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails, along with his insistence that his attorney general issue indictments against Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr., takes his presidency into new territory — until now, occupied by leaders with names like Putin, Xi and Erdogan.

Mr. Trump has long demanded — quite publicly, often on Twitter — that his most senior cabinet members use the power of their office to pursue political enemies. But his appeals this week, as he trailed badly in the polls and was desperate to turn the national conversation away from the coronavirus, were so blatant that one had to look to authoritarian nations to make comparisons.

He took a step even Richard M. Nixon avoided in his most desperate days: openly ordering direct, immediate government action against specific opponents, timed to serve his re-election campaign.

“There is essentially no precedent,” said Jack Goldsmith, who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush and has written extensively on presidential powers. “We have a norm that developed after Watergate that presidents don’t talk about ongoing investigations, much less interfere with them.”

“It is crazy and it is unprecedented,” said Mr. Goldsmith, now a professor at Harvard Law School, “but it’s no different from what he has been saying since the beginning of his presidency. The only thing new is that he has moved from talking about it to seeming to order it.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Government President2020

Risks rise in West Wing

President Trump’s cavalier attitude to COVID-19 has put the lives of everyone in and around the White House at risk. This includes the White House staff, who make the beds, clean the house, prepare the food, etc. Donald Trump is a not a good man. A good man would treat those around him better, valuing their lives and health as highly as his own. I cannot fathom voting for a man with this little regard for those who serve him daily.

Risks rise in West Wing

Mike Allen, for Axios AM

White House aides have advised President Trump to avoid the Oval Office while he's still infected. But they’re making arrangements for him to work out of the Diplomatic Reception Room, and use it as a backdrop for future televised remarks, two White House officials tell Axios' Alayna Treene.

  • Why it matters: The preparations show that far from bunkering down in the residence until he's well, Trump is considering remaining active while he recovers from COVID.
  • Any Trump movement in the West Wing would create a series of risks for his staff.

A taste of Trump's attitude about the virus played out on live TV last evening as he returned by Marine One at sunset after three nights at Walter Reed: He walked up to a White House balcony, took off his mask for the cameras, put it in his jacket pocket, adjusted his suit, straightened his tie and lingered to give purposeful thumbs-ups and salutes.

  • "Don’t be afraid of Covid," he tweeted — the exact opposite of what any medical or public-health professional will tell you. "Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!"
  • "Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!!" he added.

Reflecting widespread dismay among administration officials, a White House source told Axios' Alexi McCammond:

  • "It's insane that he would return to the White House and jeopardize his staff's health when we are still learning of new cases among senior staff. This place is a cesspool."
  • "He was so concerned with preventing embarrassing stories that he exposed thousands of his own staff and supporters to a deadly virus. He has kept us in the dark, and now our spouses and kids have to pay the price. It's just selfish."

The big picture: The White House — despite its infinite access to the best resources available — continues to respond to its own coronavirus outbreak about as recklessly as possible, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.

  • The White House is doing only minimal contact tracing, and hasn't sought help from the CDC, the N.Y. Times reports (subscription)._ _The White House has decided not to trace the contacts of attendees at last weekend’s Rose Garden event celebrating the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
  • Mayor Muriel Bowser said D.C. officials have been unsuccessful in trying to connect with the White House to assist with contact tracing: "We have reached out to the White House on a couple of different levels, a political level and a public health level."

Among those endangered by Trump's approach:

  • "The White House residence staff members are largely Black and Latino, and often elderly, according to Kate Anderson Brower, who compiled a trove of interviews with former staffers for her book ''The Residence,'" the WashPost reports. There are about 90 full-time ushers, butlers, housekeepers, valets, florists, engineers and cooks.
  • "For the Secret Service, a New Question: Who Will Protect Them From Trump?" says a N.Y. Times headline.
  • White House reporters are increasingly anxious and angry, Axios' Sara Fischer reports. N.Y. Times White House correspondent Michael Shear, who tested positive, tells Axios: "My wife has now tested positive for COVID. The collateral damage is going to be pretty significant, I think."

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump President2020

A Mess in Trump's Orbit

A reminder that Donald Trump’s presidency is a failure by his own standards and judged against his own promises. He’s a con man. He’s been a con man his entire life. He’s never accomplished anything other than burning through $400 million of inherited money and then getting bailed out by a reality TV show. He conned the American people four years ago and he’s trying to con them into giving him another four years in power.

A Mess in Trump's Orbit

by Jay Caruso, for The Monday Notice

And hey, remember those tariffs that were going to reduce our trade deficit? That deficit is at a 14-year high—more brilliance.

If not for the Federalist Society handing Trump a piece of paper and saying, “Appoint these individuals,” Mitch McConnell doing what was necessary to steer judicial nominees through to the courts and balance the federal judiciary, what outside of the Israel/UAE agreement and 2017 tax cuts did the president do?

There’s no wall. His tariffs have hampered the economy and crippled farmers in the midwest. He didn’t bring back manufacturing jobs. He didn’t bring back coal. He didn’t reform or repeal Obamacare. He’s alienated allies. He failed with North Korea. If he loses, he likely brings down four or five Republicans in the Senate with him. The regulations he eliminated were made via the executive branch, not legislatively, meaning a new president can reinstate them.

More importantly, he failed as a leader in the one crisis he faced. One in which affected senior citizens (read as “most likely voters”) more than anyone else. Trump’s constant downplaying of a deadly virus that hit seniors harder than any other age group created a gap between him and Joe Biden for which he may not recover. The demographic of older voters helped Trump gain his electoral victory in 2016. Without them, Trump can’t win.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Jobs President2020

In a First, New England Journal of Medicine Joins Never-Trumpers

This article hardly needs an introduction. When the NEJM, America’s foremost medical research publication, breaks with 200 years of precedent to say that you’ve completely botched a medical crisis, there’s really no defense. Donald Trump’s handling of COVID-19 is a national disgrace and is responsible for the death of people who wouldn’t have otherwise died. His disregard for the lives and health of Americans disqualifies him from being a pro-life candidate.

In a First, New England Journal of Medicine Joins Never-Trumpers

by Gina Kolata, for the New York Times

Throughout its 208-year history, The New England Journal of Medicine has remained staunchly nonpartisan. The world’s most prestigious medical journal has never supported or condemned a political candidate.

Until now.

In an editorial signed by 34 editors who are United States citizens (one editor is not) and published on Wednesday, the journal said the Trump administration had responded so poorly to the coronavirus pandemic that they “have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The journal did not explicitly endorse Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, but that was the only possible inference, other scientists noted.

The editor in chief, Dr. Eric Rubin, said the scathing editorial was one of only four in the journal’s history that were signed by all of the editors. The N.E.J.M.’s editors join those of another influential publication, Scientific American, who last month endorsed Mr. Biden, the former vice president.

The political leadership has failed Americans in many ways that contrast vividly with responses from leaders in other countries, the N.E.J.M. said.

In the United States, the journal said, there was too little testing for the virus, especially early on. There was too little protective equipment, and a lack of national leadership on important measures like mask wearing, social distancing, quarantine and isolation.

There were attempts to politicize and undermine the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the journal noted.

As a result, the United States has had tens of thousands of “excess” deaths — those caused both directly and indirectly by the pandemic — as well as immense economic pain and an increase in social inequality as the virus hit disadvantaged communities hardest.

The editorial castigated the Trump administration’s rejection of science, writing, “Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed ‘opinion leaders’ and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.”

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump President2020

Mike Pence’s Trumpian Makeover at the Vice-Presidential Debate

Mike Pence was supposed to be one of the good, solid, Christian conservatives who would surround Donald Trump and give him wise advice. Today, the only thing that distinguishes Mike Pence from Donald Trump is his calm demeanor. He sold his soul and jettisoned every principle that he once professed in order to gain the power of the Vice Presidency.

Mike Pence’s Trumpian Makeover at the Vice-Presidential Debate

by Susan Glasser, for the New Yorker.

Both Harris and Pence are younger and far more articulate politicians than their running mates, fully capable of holding their own in a televised argument that cleared the low bar of not degenerating into a food fight at a senior-citizens’ center. The debate seemed sort of normal—at least, after Trump’s frenetic performance of a week earlier. But the more I listened to Pence the more I realized that the Vice-President of 2020 is no longer the deeply conventional, if fervently right-wing, evangelical of four years ago. Or even the oleaginous Trump suck-up he has been for much of the Administration’s tenure. He has been changed, and radically so, by his association with the President, and Wednesday night showed something both new and disturbing: Pence has come to resemble a lower-decibel Trump, lying with a fluency and brazenness that might have shocked his former moralistic self.

Once presented as the acceptable public front for Trumpism to those who might be offended by the President’s grosser displays of ego and misogyny, this new Pence was ruder and cruder, and he spent much of the evening interrupting the two women with whom he shared the stage, refusing to listen when the moderator implored him to follow the rules, and simply seizing extra time to rebut Harris whether Page offered it or not. This Pence was not the Middle American cleanup man of this spring’s anxious coronavirus press conferences; he was nasty, an elbow-thrower who dropped snide references to Biden as a plagiarist, inserted random media-bashing into long-winded soliloquies, and peddled a pet Trump conspiracy theory about the 2016 campaign. Like the boss, he repeated falsehoods about the Democratic platform with abandon—they are going to raise your taxes “on day one” and “abolish” fossil fuels and eliminate fracking and allow taxpayer-funded abortions “up to the moment of birth”—all of which was not only untrue but so exaggerated beyond the actual Democratic platform that it was hard to imagine anyone but the most diehard Republican believing it. This sounded like Donald Trump talking, not Mike Pence. A quieter, less bombastic Donald Trump, to be sure, but Trump nonetheless.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump President2020

For Trump, a Pattern of Denial, From the Virus to Russia to Climate Change

Donald Trump believes that any and all bad news makes him look bad. So he denies everything bad, ignores everything bad, and carries on as normal while the world burns around him. This is not a President that surrounds himself with good people, who help him to make good decisions. Because if there are good people around him, they are being ignored daily. If Nero fiddled while Rome burned, Trump writes self-congratulatory tweets while America burns.

For Trump, a Pattern of Denial, From the Virus to Russia to Climate Change

by David Sanger, for the New York Times

his presidency has in many ways been defined by his dismissal of many of the biggest threats facing the United States. His preoccupation with demonstrating strength or rearranging facts to reinforce his worldview has led him, time and again, to downplay, ignore or mock everything from climate change to Russian interference in the American political process.

Mr. Trump’s own Pentagon declared in a report last year that a warming climate was a major “national security issue” that could spur future instability around the globe, but to Mr. Trump it remains a theory, something to be stricken from government reports and explained away when the West erupted in wildfires.

His intelligence agencies have assessed that North Korea’s nuclear stockpile has expanded significantly on Mr. Trump’s watch. But to the president, that arsenal — which he said in 2017 might force him to take military action leading to “fire and fury like the world has never seen” — is hardly worth mention today. Asked about it, he invariably turns the conversation to his relationship with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.

The unremitting stream of cyberattacks by Russia, many aimed at the heart of the American political process, has preoccupied intelligence and military officials determined to keep Vladimir V. Putin from interfering in another election. But not Mr. Trump, who has said he has no reason to disbelieve the Russian leader’s denials that Moscow was involved.

On virtually every front, said Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Trump has embraced “denialism,” as if wishing problems away was a substitute for policy and action.

“The denialism is a pattern,” said Mr. Haass, who served several Republican presidents at the National Security Council and the State Department. “It is pervasive. And the fear among friends and allies is that all this is not limited to Trump but reflects how this country has not just changed, but changed for the worse.”

“They have put their security in our hands,” said Mr. Haass, the author of “The World: A Brief Introduction,” “and they are questioning that wisdom, at the same moment that our adversaries see us as divided and distracted.”

It is a distinctive pattern that began in the Trump administration’s first hours, when the new president bristled at photographs released by the National Park Service that suggested the crowds at his inauguration paled when compared with the turnouts for the swearing-in of some past presidents, including Barack Obama. Then came his search for three million fraudulent votes — all in the service of denying that he had lost the popular vote, even while winning the Electoral College.

Some of the moments were laughable, like the Sharpie used to alter National Weather Service maps of the course of Hurricane Dorian last year, all to justify Mr. Trump’s erroneous declaration that the storm was headed to Alabama.

It was great fodder for late-night comedians. Then, in March, as the virus emptied out offices and began to strike American cities, denialism went from deadly serious to simply deadly.

Mr. Trump’s own Department of Health and Human Services, with the help of the White House staff, had prepared for an influenza pandemic that many experts had viewed as inevitable. They had even run a monthslong exercise, code-named “Crimson Contagion,” that mapped out how the government needed to respond if a virus — somewhat different from the coronavirus — that originated in China came to American shores aboard direct flights, borne by tourists, students, business executives and returning Americans.

But the tabletop exercise missed one key element: a president who made it clear he didn’t want to hear news that imperiled economic expansion, especially in an election year.

“Nobody ever thought of numbers like this,” Mr. Trump said in mid-March, as his early story that the virus was under control began to collapse around him.

In fact, they had — it was simply that Mr. Trump did not want to acknowledge those numbers. He kept downplaying the casualties, saying he was sure that deaths would top out below 60,000 and creating a White House culture where mask-wearing was equated with weakness, rather than the pandemic equivalent of strapping on seatbelts.

Mr. Trump has also seemed incapable, or at least unwilling, to acknowledge the cost of denying reality. He continues to insist the economy will have a “V shaped” recovery, even though the Federal Reserve chairman he appointed, Jerome Powell, said on Tuesday that Americans should brace for a “longer-than-expected slog back to full recovery.”

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump Foreign Policy President2020 Pride

Why Republicans Should Vote For Joe Biden — He Has More Republican Values Than Trump

Why Republicans Should Vote For Joe Biden — He Has More Republican Values Than Trump

by Rob May

This post is for people with values, particularly the core values Republicans used to have, who think some things are more important than party loyalty, and those Republicans who feel like I do — that Trump may have crossed too many lines and that protecting those lines he crossed are more important than making sure the Republican party wins in November.

For example, I believe character matters for someone aspiring to be President. I was critical of Bill Clinton’s character for his personal behaviors, and I remain consistent in my values by being critical of Donald Trump’s character for similar behaviors. I believe that people with poor character should be voted out of office even if it means my party and my other ideas lose for 4 years — because my core value that “character matters for the role of President” goes beyond party loyalty. If you don’t have any values that supersede party loyalty, don’t waste your time reading this.

Warning: some of what you will read below will surprise you. Why? Because Trump is a master marketer — he’s world class at it. He has pulled the wool over the eyes of so many Republicans, and controlled the story to make sure things are in his favor. When I have shared some of the links, facts, and data that I cover below with Republican friends, they have been shocked. Manyhad no idea that some of Trump’s actions had led to such things.

My argument, in summary, is that I believe President Trump hasn’t made America great again. Instead he has taken steps to weaken America in economic and foreign policy which I will outline below. He has moved America towards Socialism.

I will also provide evidence that Trump isn’t for free trade, he isn’t religious, he doesn’t believe in limited government, he doesn’t support individual liberty, he is pro-choice, and he doesn’t have strong moral character, or any of the other core things Republicans have claimed (until 2016) to value. Rather than argue about core left vs right issues in this piece, I want to make the point that Biden is actually a better fit with core Republican values (1980–2016 Republican values). I will argue that Trump doesn’t care about you, only himself. And I will argue that the future of the Republican party is at stake and Trump is taking the party in a direction that will cause it to lose for a very long time, and that 2020 is the time to change course. Voting Trump out is best for the Republican party. Biden will be a weak one term President and the Republicans will win again in 2024.

There is a massive wave building of prominent Republicans who aren’t just denouncing Trump, they are voting for Biden. If you only watch Fox News, you probably haven’t seen this because they haven’t mentioned it. But it’s real, and I will write more about it below so that those of you wondering what you should do on election day will realize that if you choose to vote Democratic for the first time in your life, you aren’t alone. There are others, many others, who believe this has to happen to save the United States and the Republican Party.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Joe Biden President2020

White House Blocks New Coronavirus Vaccine Guidelines

Donald Trump wants to use his own medical expertise to certify when a coronavirus vaccine is ready. He wants to play the hero before election day, regardless of how many lives are put at risk by an unproven, poorly tested vaccine.

White House Blocks New Coronavirus Vaccine Guidelines

by Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland, for the New York Times

Top White House officials are blocking strict new federal guidelines for the emergency release of a coronavirus vaccine, objecting to a provision that would almost certainly guarantee that no vaccine could be authorized before the election on Nov. 3, according to people familiar with the approval process.

… The struggle over the guidelines is part of a monthslong tug of war between the White House and federal agencies on the front lines of the pandemic response. White House officials have repeatedly intervened to shape decisions and public announcements in ways that paint the administration’s response to the pandemic in a positive light.

That pattern has dismayed a growing number of career officials and political appointees involved in the administration’s fight against a virus that has claimed more than 209,000 lives in the United States.

The vaccine guidelines carry special significance: By refusing to allow the Food and Drug Administration to release them, the White House is undercutting the government’s effort to reassure the public that any vaccine will be safe and effective, health experts fear.

“The public must have full faith in the scientific process and the rigor of F.D.A.’s regulatory oversight if we are to end the pandemic,” the biotech industry’s trade association pleaded on Thursday, in a letter to President Trump’s health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, asking for release of the guidelines.

… A main sticking point has been the recommendation that volunteers who have participated in vaccine clinical trials be followed for a median of two months after the final dose before any authorization is granted, according to a senior administration official and others familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Given where the clinical trials stand, that two-month follow-up period would all but preclude any emergency clearance before Election Day.

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump President2020