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VIOLENCE: IT’S THE REPUBLICAN WAY: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 26, 2021 at 12:14 am

Having made threats of violence an integral part of his successful 2016 campaign for President, Donald Trump continued to make violence a hallmark of his Presidency.

Throughout his run for President, Trump’s followers chanted, “Lock her up!” at Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Yet Clinton has never been tried for a crime, let alone convicted of one.

As President, Trump still encouraged his followers to shout this chant.

On July 2, 2017, Trump tweeted a video showing him punching a man with the CNN logo superimposed on his head during a WWE wrestling match.

And on August 15, 2017, Trump retweeted a cartoon photo of a “Trump Train” running over a CNN reporter.

President retweeted image of Trump train running over CNN reporter ...

Summing up Trump’s legacy of hatred, longtime Republican Presidential adviser David Gergen said: 

“Trump unleashed the dogs of hatred in this country from the day he declared he was running for president, and they’ve been snarling and barking at each other ever since. It’s just inevitable there are going to be acts of violence that grow out of that.”

Gergen said this on October 24, 2018—the day that pipe bombs were mailed to:

  • Former President Barack Obama
  • Former President Bill Clinton
  • Former First Lady and United States Senator Hillary Clinton
  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder
  • Congresswoman Maxine Waters
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Actor Robert De Niro
  • Former CIA Director John Brennan

Trump had brutally and repeatedly attacked all of these intended victims. And the man who sent the bombs—Cesar Sayoc Jr. of Aventura, Florida—had plastered his van with stickers supporting Trump.

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Donald Trump

On October 8, 2020, 13 Right-wingers were arrested and charged in a terrorism plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The terrorists intended to overthrow several state governments that they “believe are violating the US Constitution,” including the government of Michigan, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Trump had repeatedly attacked Whitmer for issuing a March 23 stay-at-home order to stem the COVID-19 pandemic in that state.

After losing the 2020 Presidential election, Trump ordered his campaign to file at least 63 lawsuits contesting Joseph Biden’s victory. Upon losing all of these, Trump turned to violence as his last-ditch remedy to stay in office.

On January 6, he incited thousands of his supporters to storm the United States Capitol Building where members of the Senate were counting the electoral votes cast in the election.

The Stormtrumpers’ goal: Stop the ballot counting—and thus maintain Trump in office.

The Stormtrumpers marched to the United States Capitol—and quickly brushed aside Capitol Police.

  • Members of the mob attacked police with chemical agents, metal poles and lead pipes.
  • At least 140 police officers suffered injuries, including concussions, broken ribs, smashed spinal discs, a lost eye.
  • Many lawmakers’ offices were occupied and vandalized—including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a favorite Right-wing target.
  • Lawmakers huddled under desks and behind locked doors, expecting to die any minute.
  • More than three hours passed before police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retook control of the Capitol. 

These are some of the high-profile figures who were seen storming the US Capitol

  Stormtrumpers scaling Capitol Building walls

And Republicans?

Even after being forced to flee for their lives or barricade themselves in House or Senate rooms, Republicans refused to condemn Trump. On January 11, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection against the United States government. 

Senate Democrats wanted to try Trump while he was still in office. But then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused. On February 13, after a five-day trial, Republicans acquitted Trump by a vote of 57-43, failing 10 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict.

Since then, Republicans such as Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) have recast the attempted coup as a non-violent—even patriotic—event.

“Outright propaganda and lies are being used to unleash the national security state against law-abiding U.S. citizens, especially Trump voters,” Gosar said, condemning the Justice Department’s Investigation of Capitol attackers. 

And Greene claims: “January 6 was just a riot at the Capitol and if you think about what our Declaration of Independence says, it says to overthrow tyrants.”

A party—Republican—that has made such a heavy, long-running—and successful—investment in violence is not going to voluntarily turn pacifist. 

And a party—Democratic—that has generally behaved like cowards and appeasers toward its sworn enemies isn’t going to survive, let alone preserve democracy.

In May, 1967, Israel faced a similar deadly threat.

On May 22, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced that the Straits of Tiran would be closed to all Israeli shipping. And Nasser mobilized the Egyptian military along the border with Israel. 

On May 30, Jordan and Egypt signed a defence pact. The next day, the Iraqi army began deploying troops and armored units in Jordan. They were reinforced by an Egyptian contingent.

Israel was being surrounded—and its sworn enemies were about to attack.

“We are being bullied,” said longtime Israeli soldier Moshe Dayan. “And the only way to handle a bully is to punch him in the face.” 

On June 5, Israel struck first, defeating its enemies and securing huge tracts of territory as a defensive barrier.

Democrats have yet to learn Dayan’s lesson. They—and the country—may not turn out to be as fortunate as Israel.

VIOLENCE: IT’S THE REPUBLICAN WAY: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 25, 2021 at 12:05 am

With the rise of Donald Trump to Republican standard-bearer in 2015, threats of violence entered the rhetoric—and tactics—of the Republican party. 

On March 16, 2016, he warned Republicans that if he didn’t win the GOP nomination in July, his supporters would literally riot:

“I think you’d have riots. I think you would see problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen. I really do. I wouldn’t lead it, but I think bad things would happen.”

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Donald Trump

Republicans clearly saw this as a threat is undeniable.

Paul Ryan, their Speaker of the House, said on March 17: “Nobody should say such things in my opinion because to even address or hint to violence is unacceptable.”

And Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich chinned in. “Leaders don’t imply violence,” Kasich told “Face the Nation” on March 20. “When he says that there could be riots, that’s inappropriate. I think you understand that, okay? Secondly, while we have our differences and disagreements, we’re Americans. Americans don’t say, ‘Let’s take to the streets and have violence.'”

But threatening his Republican and Democratic opponents with violence played a major role in Donald Trump’s campaign for President.

No other candidate—Republican or Democrat—had ever made such repeated and brutal use of threats of physical assault in pursuing the Presidency.

  • Philip Klein, the managing editor of the Washington Examiner,  wrote on the eve of the Republican National Convention in July: “Political commentators now routinely talk about the riots that would break out in Cleveland if Trump were denied the nomination, about how his supporters have guns and all hell could break loose, that they would burn everything to the ground. It works to Trump’s advantage to not try too hard to dispel these notions.
  • On August 9,  Trump told a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina: “Hillary [Clinton] wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. If she gets to pick her [Supreme Court] judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
  • “Don’t treat this as a political misstep,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, who has called for stiffer gun laws, wrote on Twitter. “It’s an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy & crisis.”
  • “Well, let me say if someone else said that outside of the hall, he’d be in the back of a police wagon now, with the Secret Service questioning him,” said Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and National Security Agency (NSA). 

Threats of this type continued to be made by Trump supporters right up to the day of the election.

  • On July 29, Roger Stone, a notorious Right-wing political consultant acting as a Trump strategist, told Breitbart News: “The first thing Trump needs to do is begin talking about [voter fraud] constantly. If there’s voter fraud, this election will be illegitimate, the election of the winner will be illegitimate, we will have a constitutional crisis, widespread civil disobedience, and the government will no longer be the government.”
  • At a town hall meeting where Trump’s Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence appeared, a woman named Rhonda said: For me personally, if Hillary Clinton gets in, I myself am ready for a revolution.”
  • In Cincinnati, a Trump supporter threatened to forcibly remove Clinton from the White House if she won the race: “If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it,”
  • Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, said of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee: “We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take….I would do whatever I can for my country.”

Even Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire GOP, expressed fear of what might happen if Trump lost the election:

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Fergus Cullen

“That’s really scary,” Cullen said, recounting the violence at Trump rallies around the country leading up to the Republican National Convention. “In this country, we’ve always had recriminations after one side loses. But we haven’t had riots. We haven’t had mobs that act out with violence against supporters of the other side.

“There’s no telling what his supporters would be willing to do at the slightest encouragement from their candidate,” he said.

Trump even began encouraging his mostly white supporters to sign up online to be “election observers” to stop “Crooked Hillary from rigging this election.” He urged them to act as poll watchers in “other” [non-white] communities to ensure that things are “on the up and up.”

Many of his supporters promised to do so.

“Trump said to watch your precincts. I’m going to go, for sure,” said Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio.

“I’ll look for…well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.” 

VIOLENCE: IT’S THE REPUBLICAN WAY: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 24, 2021 at 12:17 am

Republicans in past decades tried—and often won—elections on the basis of ideology and/or appeals to racism. 

During the 1960s and 1970s, the “enemy” was blacks. The key to winning votes of racist whites without appearing racist lay in what Republicans called “the Southern Strategy”—stoking whites’ fears of blacks.

It was this that won Richard Nixon the Presidency in 1968 and 1972 and the White House for George H.W. Bush in 1988.

In a now-infamous 1981 interview, Right-wing political consultant Lee Atwater explained how this worked.   

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’—that hurts you, backfires.

“So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract.

“Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.…

“’We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.’

“So anyway you look at it, race is coming on the back burner.” 

Lee Atwater 1989.jpg

Lee Atwater 

Since the end of World War II, Republicans regularly hurled the charge of “treason” against anyone who dared to run against them for office or think other than Republican-approved thoughts.

Republicans had been locked out of the White House from 1933 to 1952, during the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.

Determined to regain the Presidency by any means, they found that attacking the integrity of their fellow Americans a highly effective tactic.

During the 1950s, Wisconsin Senator Joseph R. McCarthy rode a wave of paranoia to national prominence—by attacking the patriotism of anyone who disagreed with him.

Joseph McCarthy

Elected to the Senate in 1946, he rose to national prominence on February 9, 1950, after giving a fiery speech in Wheeling, West Virginia:

“The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”

Anti-communism as a lever to political advancement sharply accelerated following McCarthy’s speech. 

No American—no matter how prominent—was safe from the accusation of being a Communist or a Communist sympathizer—a “Comsymp” or “fellow traveler” in the style of the era.

Republicans rode the issue of anti-Communism to victory from 1948 to 1992.

After holding the White House for eight years under Dwight D. Eisenhower, they lost it in 1960 to John F. Kennedy and again in 1964 to Lyndon B. Johnson.

By 1968, with the nation mired in Vietnam and convulsed by antiwar demonstrations and race riots, Americans turned once more to those who preyed upon their fears and hates.

They elected Richard Nixon, who promised to end the Vietnam war and crack down on “uppity” blacks and antiwar demonstrators.

The same strategy re-elected him in 1972.

After Jimmy Carter won the Presidency in 1976 and lost it in 1980 to Ronald Reagan, Republicans held the White House until 1992.

During the 1970s and 1980s, they continued to accuse their opponents of being devious agents—or at least unwitting pawns—of “the Communist conspiracy.”

Even as late as 1992, President George H.W. Bush and the Republican establishment charged that Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton might be a KGB plant.

George H.W. Bush

Their “evidence”: During his tenure at Oxford University in 1969-70, Clinton had briefly visited Moscow.

Thus, the Republican charged that he might have been “programmed” as a real-life “Manchurian candidate” to become, first, Governor of Arkansas—one of America’s poorest states—and then President.

What made this charge all the more absurd: The Soviet Union had officially dissolved in December, 1991.

Republicans continued to accuse their opponents of being “Communists” and “traitors.” But these charges no longer carried the weight they had while the Soviet Union existed.

Then, on September 11, 2001, Republicans—-and their right-wing supporters—at last found a suitable replacement for the Red Menace.

Two highjacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center in New York and one struck the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

Exit The Red Bogeyman.  Enter The Maniacal Muslim.

For several years, fears of Islamic terror carried Republicans to electoral victory—most importantly in 2004, when George W. Bush won re-election as President.

But after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, Americans lost interest in The Maniacal Muslim as a surefire election tactic.

With the rise of Donald Trump to Republican standard-bearer in 2015, threats of violence entered the rhetoric—and tactics—of the Republican party.

For example:

  • On March 16, 2016, he warned Republicans that if he didn’t win the GOP nomination in July, his supporters would literally riot: “I think you’d have riots. I think you would see problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen. I really do. I wouldn’t lead it, but I think bad things would happen.”
  • An NBC reporter summed it up as: “The message to Republicans was clear on [March 16]: ‘Nice convention you got there, shame if something happened to it.'”

VIOLENCE: IT’S THE REPUBLICAN WAY: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 23, 2021 at 12:27 am

It was a moment both poignant and prophetic: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) responding to a brutal virtual attack on her by a fellow member of Congress.

Representative Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) had tweeted a doctored anime video depicting him killing Ocasio-Cortez and then turning his sword towards President Joseph Biden.

Paul Gosar official portrait September 2016.jpg

Paul Gosar

As a result, the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives was now meeting to decide if he should be censured over that video.

“What is so hard, what is so hard about saying this is wrong?” asked Ocasio-Cortez. “This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar. This is about what we are willing to accept. If you believe that this behavior should not be accepted, then vote yes. It’s really that simple.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Official Portrait.jpg

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

And the Republican response was equally telling: Of the 213 Republicans serving in the House, only two—Liz Cheney (Wyoming) and Adam Kinzinger (Illinois)—dared to support censure of Gosar. 

A censure resolution is the most severe form of punishment in the House, and stripping a member of committee assignments removes a powerful platform to influence legislation and give voice to constituent priorities.

The resolution approved by the House removed Gosar from the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which Ocasio-Cortez also serves on, and the Natural Resources Committee.

“We cannot have a member joking about murdering each other or threatening the President of the United States,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a floor speech.

“Disguising death threats as a video doesn’t make it less real. It’s a sad day for the House of Representatives, but a necessary day.”

Official photo of Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2019.jpg

Nancy Pelosi

Before the vote which censured him, Gosar said: “I have said decisively there is no threat in the cartoon other than the threat that immigration poses to our country. And no threat was intended by my staff or me.

“I voluntarily took the cartoon down not because it was itself a threat, but because some thought it was. Out of compassion for those who generally felt offense, I self-censored.”

Yet only minutes after the House voted to censure him, Gosar retweeted the video. He also retweeted Right-wing podcaster Elijah Schaffer’s tweet of the video: “Really well done. We love @DrPaulGosar, don’t we folks?”

This marriage of violence with Right-wing ideology is not new.

Rolling Stone magazine writer Jeb Lund noted in a June 19, 2015 editorial: “The Republican Party has weaponized its supporters, made violence a virtue and, with almost every pronouncement for 50 years, given them an enemy politicized, racialized and indivisible.

“Movement conservatives have fetishized a tendentious and ahistorical reading of the Second Amendment to the point that the Constitution itself somehow paradoxically ‘legitimizes’ an armed insurrection against the government created by it. “

“This is no longer an argument about whether one party’s beliefs are beneficial or harmful, but an attitude that labels leftism so antithetical to the American idea that empowering it on any level is an act of usurpation.”

Increasingly, Republicans have repeatedly aimed violent—-and violence-arousing—-rhetoric at their Democratic opponents. This is not a case of careless language that is simply misinterpreted, with tragic results.

Republicans like Paul Gosar fully understand the constituency they are trying to reach: Those masses of alienated, uneducated Americans who live only for their guns and hardline religious beliefs—and who can be easily manipulated by perceived threats to either.

If a “nutcases” assaults a Democratic politician and misses, then the Republican establishment claims to be shocked—-shocked!—that such a thing could have happened.

And if the attempt proves successful, then Republicans weep crocodile tears for public consumption.

The difference is that, in this case, they rejoice in knowing that Democratic ranks have been thinned and their opponents are even more on the defensive, for fear of the same happening to them.

Consider the following:

  • Florida GOP Congressional candidate Allen West, referring to his Democratic opponent, Representative Ron Klein, told Tea Party activists: “You’ve got to make the fellow scared to come out of his house. That’s the only way that you’re going to win. That’s the only way you’re going to get these people’s attention.”
  • Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MINN.) said she wanted her constituents “armed and dangerous” against the Obama administration.
  • Former Governor (R-Alaska) Sarah Palin told her supporters: “Get in their face and argue with them.  No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD!”
  • Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter: “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building.”
  • Senator Phil Gramm (R-TEX.) “We’re going to keep building the party until we’re hunting Democrats with dogs.”

Republicans in past decades tried—and often won—elections on the basis of ideology and/or appeals to racism. 

During the 1960s and 1970s, the “enemy” was blacks. The key to winning votes of racist whites without appearing racist lay in what Republicans called “the Southern Strategy”—stoking white fears of blacks.

It was this that won Richard Nixon the Presidency in 1968 and 1972 and the White House for George H.W. Bush in 1988.

In a now-infamous 1981 interview, Right-wing political consultant Lee Atwater explained how this worked.   

THE PORNOGRAPNY OF PRESIDENTIAL PERKS: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on April 29, 2021 at 12:14 am

Once Presidents leave office, they usually lead quiet—and highly prosperous–lives.

It’s become commonplace for Presidents to write—or ghostwrite—their memoirs. These usually fetch them a hefty advance, even if sales prove disappointing.

Then there’s the speaker’s circuit, where fees per speech usually run into tens of thousands of dollars.

These are activities that leave the average ex-President an extremely wealthy man—but don’t impact the public purse. 

But there are other perks—such as lifetime Secret Service protection for themselves and their spouses, as well as taxpayer-funded office expenses—that put a serious strain on the national budget.

us-presidential-seal - Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

George W. Bush, unlike his father, got two full terms (2001 – 2009).

Bush made money in the oil industry and owned the Texas Rangers professional baseball team  before he became Governor of Texas and then President. He’s made tens of millions through a book deal and speaking fees.

His net worth has been estimated at $40 million. 

Barack Hussein Obama served two terms (2009 – 2017). 

Obama has greatly profited from paid speeches and production deal with Netflix worth an estimated $50 million. He also gets a government pension of $161,000 a year. Michelle Obama got a reported $65 million advance for her memoir “Becoming.”

Obama’s net worth has been estimated from $40 to $135 million. 

Donald Trump served one term (2017 – 2021). 

Before he entered politics, Trump reportedly got $200 million from his father to enter the real estate business. He made millions as a New York City real estate mogul. Many of his other businesses have failed, but Trump’s vast property holdings make him by far the wealthiest president of all time. He has also profited from his show “The Apprentice,” which ran from 2004 to 2017.

His net worth is estimated at $3.2 billion.

 * * * * * * * * * *

It’s long past time for the re-evaluation of Presidential welfare.

By all means, Presidents deserve a pension, but it should be on a par with the time they served in office. This currently amounts to $219,200 per year for life.

Most police officers must serve 20 years before they can collect their full pension. And they are required to put their lives on the line almost every day. No police officer is allowed to retire on a fulltime pension after serving eight—or even just four—years.

Then there’s the matter of funding by the General Service Administration (GSA) to staff, set up and furnish an official office anywhere in the country. Ex-Presidents and their staffers can receive up to $1 million annually in reimbursements for costs.

Seal of the General Services Administration.svg

Ex-Presidents use these monies to propagandize their accomplishments—or what they claim were their accomplishments—while in office. This usually takes the form of self-serving autobiographies—which, in many cases, are ghostwritten efforts.

Former Presidents certainly have the right to publish their memoirs. But they should not receive public monies for doing so.

Moreover: Presidents aren’t required to submit their manuscripts to what amounts to a censorship committee to guarantee they don’t spill national security secrets.

Agents of the CIA are—and can have royalties from their books seized if they don’t allow their manuscripts to be so screened.

As for lifetime Secret Service protection: In 1965, Congress authorized the Secret Service (Public Law 89-186) to protect a former president and his/her spouse during their lifetime, unless they decline protection.  

Secret Service in action: Did 2 agents get into a drunk driving accident at the White House? - YouTube

Secret Service agents guarding Barack Obama

In 1994, as a cost-saving measure, Congress acted to limit protection for future former presidents and spouses to ten years after they left office. 

But on January 12, 2013, President Barack Obama signed a new law authorizing lifetime protection of all former Presidents and First Ladies. In addition, children of former Presidents will receive protection until they are 16 years old.

This was clearly in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center—and America’s entry into a global war on terrorism. 

Still, this is hardly necessary. There has not been one recorded case of an attack on a former President since the Secret Service began protecting the Chief Executive in 1901.

From a national security viewpoint, it is also unnecessary. Once a President leaves office, he is essentially out of the loop of daily government business.

The protection of organized crime witnesses by the Justice Department’s Witness Security Program offers a useful remedy.

While awaiting trial, witnesses are given 24-hour protection by deputy U.S. marshals. But once the trials are over and they have received their new identities and relocation to a safe area, that protection is withdrawn. If they are once again threatened, they can request it from the Marshals Service.

And if such protection is deemed necessary for a former President, then a financial means test should be applied.

Every living ex-President is a millionaire—including even Jimmy Carter, whose wealth is estimated by USA Today at $8.2 million. 

Millionaires are not considered eligible for local, state or Federal welfare programs—unless they are former Presidents.

Thus, millionaire ex-Presidents who believe they need/deserve lifetime Secret Service protection should be required to pay for it out of pocket—or hire private security. 

Treating former Presidents as gods is not only an outrageous waste of taxpayers’ monies. It is an affront to the ideals of a democratic nation. 

THE PORNOGRAPNY OF PRESIDENTIAL PERKS: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on April 28, 2021 at 12:25 am

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

George Orwell’s famous novella, Animal Farm, was a brutal, symbolic attack on the Soviet Union and its brand of Communism. But it applies just as accurately to the different ways poor and rich Americans are treated.

Let’s start with the poor.

According to the Social Security website: “Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). It is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income; and It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter….

“One of our highest priorities is to help people with disabilities achieve independence by helping them take advantage of employment opportunities. Work incentive employment supports help disabled and blind SSI recipients go to work by minimizing the risk of losing their SSI or Medicaid benefits….

“We do not count the first $65 of earned income plus one–half of the amount over $65. Therefore, we reduce your SSI benefit only $1 for every $2 you earn over $65.”

Social Security Administration Asks for Comments on Info Collection Request

Wow! An SSI recipient can earn up to $65 dollars before that begins to affect his SSI. 

In 1960, $65 was equal to $575.88 in 2021 dollars.

That would have been great in 1960. But 1960 is now 61 years ago. 

According to Intuit, an American business that specializes in financial software: “The average cost of food per month for one person ranges from $150 to $300, depending on age. However, these national averages vary based on where you live and the quality of your food purchases.”

And according to Statista, a German company specializing in market and consumer data: In February 2021, the average monthly rent for an apartment in the United States was $1,124.

So being able to earn $65 before the Social Security Administration starts reducing your SSI monthly payment shouldn’t be considered a “work incentive.”

For despicable contrast, consider how America’s former Presidents are treated.

us-presidential-seal - Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

The Former Presidents Act of 1958 provides several benefits and perks that are available to Presidents after they leave office. Their biggest perk is an annual pension equal to the pay for a Cabinet Secretary, which is $221,400 in 2021. 

Widows of former Presidents are eligible for a $20,000 yearly pension. In addition, former Presidents and their spouses can opt to receive lifetime Secret Service protection.

According to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, ex-Presidents are provided with:

  • Funding by the General Service Administration (GSA) to staff, set up and furnish an official office anywhere in the country.
  • Reimbursement for themselves and their staff up to $1 million annually for costs.
  • $500,000 a year for their spouses for official travel and security.
  • The guarantee of a funeral with full honors and burial, if they or their spouse wants it, at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Let’s go back 41 years–to the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, who served from 1981 to 1989.

  • Reagan believed that government should not help the impoverished.  Those who lacked wealth to buy such necessities as housing and medical insurance were written off as unimportant.
  • He claimed to be a “fiscal conservative.” But he drastically shrank the tax-base, bloated the defense budget and destroyed programs to benefit the poor and middle-class.
  • As a result, Reagan produced a $1 trillion deficit—which only the Clinton Administration eliminated.
  • Before his Presidency ended, 18 wealthy Californians contributed $156,000 apiece to buy him a 7,200 square-foot mansion overlooking Beverly Hills.
  • Reagan signed a multi-million dollar deal to write his Presidential memoirs and publish a collection of his speeches.
  • He signed an exclusive contract with a Washington lecture bureau, which paid him $50,000 per speech given in the United States and $100,000 overseas. This made him the highest-paid speaker in the country.
  • These monies came in addition to his Presidential pension of $99,500 a year for life and his $30,000 annual pension as a former governor of California.
  • At a cost to the government of $10 million annually, Reagan continued to receive lifetime Secret Service protection from 40 fulltime agents.

Ronald Reagan's presidential portrait, 1981

Ronald Reagan

According to a November 5,2020 article in USA Today:

Reagan had made money as a movie and TV actor for more than 20 years. He owned several pieces of real estate, including a 688-acre property near Santa Barbara, California. He also profited from his post-Presidential autobiography. 

Reagan had a peak net worth of $14.3 million.

After Reagan came George H.W. Bush (1989 – 1993).

Bush made his initial fortune running an offshore oil drilling company and owned millions of dollars worth of property, including an estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, which around the time of his death in November 2018, was valued at $13.5 million. Like most ex-Presidents, he authored his autobiography: All the Best.

His peak net worth: $26.6 million.

William Jefferson Clinton served from 1993 to 2001. 

Since leaving office, Clinton has made millions from his 2005 book My Life. But his wife, Hillary, provides most of his wealth. She reportedly received a $14 million advance for her 2014 memoir Hard Choices. She also made millions from paid speeches.

His peak net worth: $76.8 million. 

TREASON’S GREETINGS: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on February 18, 2021 at 12:07 am

“U.S. democracy wasn’t set up to deal with a president openly behaving like a James Bond villain while being protected by a political party behaving more like a mafia than a civic institution.”  
—The Washington Monthly 

TRUMP’S ULTIMATE TREASON

On January 6, the United States Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding, would certify states’ Electoral College results of the 2020 election. 

That morning, President Donald Trump urged Pence to flip the results of the election to give him a win.

Pence replied that he was not authorized by the Constitution to overturn those results.

But as Pence went off to the Capitol Building housing the Senate and House of Representatives, Trump had one last card to play.

Mike Pence - Wikipedia

Mike Pence

For weeks, Trump had ordered his legions of Right-wing Stormtrumpers to descend on Washington, D.C. on January 6. 

On December 20, he had tweeted: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” 

In tweets, he promoted the rally again on December 27 and 30, and January 1.

On January 6, Trump appeared at the Ellipse, a 52-acre park south of the White House fence and north of Constitution Avenue and the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

A stage had been set up for him to address tens of thousands of his supporters, who eagerly awaited him.  

Trump ordered them to march on the Capitol building to express their anger at the voting process and to intimidate their elected officials to reject the results. 

Melania Trump 'disappointed' by Trump supporters' Capitol riot - ABC7 Chicago

Donald Trump addresses his Stormtrumpers 

“Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about. And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal….

“Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back….And we’re going to have to fight much harder….

“And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. And we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.

“Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated.”

The Stormtrumpers marched to the United States Capitol—and quickly brushed aside Capitol Police, who made little effort to arrest or shoot them.

Image result for Images of hangman's noose outside Capitol Building riot

The “Jolly Roger” meets Donald Trump

  • Members of the mob attacked police with chemical agents, metal poles and lead pipes.
  • Injuries suffered by almost 140 officers included concussions, broken ribs, smashed spinal discs, a lost eye.
  • Several rioters carried plastic handcuffs, possibly intending to take hostages. Others carried walkie-talkies.
  • Senators ran down a flight of stairs and along a hallway as police held off rioters.

These are some of the high-profile figures who were seen storming the US Capitol

Stormtrumpers scaling Capitol Building walls

  • Many of the lawmakers’ offices were occupied and vandalized—including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a favorite Right-wing target.  
  • Insurrectionists shouted “Hang Pence!” for his refusal to block certification of Biden’s victory.
  • Others yelled, “Where are you, Nancy [Pelosi]?” 
  • Lawmakers huddled under desks and behind locked doors, expecting to die any minute.

Trump to Pardon 'Patriots' Involved in Capitol Attack? Truth About WH Pardons Attorney Seeking Names in Viral Post

Stormtrumpers inside the Capitol Building

More than three hours passed before police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retook control of the Capitol. 

And Trump? After giving his inflammatory speech, he returned to the White House—to watch his handiwork on television. He initially rebuffed requests to mobilize the National Guard.

This required intervention by Pat A. Cipollone, the White House Counsel, among other officials. 

Told that Secret Service agents had spirited Pence off the floor of the Senate following the attack, Trump tweeted: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) frantically called Trump, begging him to call off the rioters.

“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” replied Trump.

While the rioting was still erupting, Trump posted a video on Twitter: I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us….But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order….So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

THE TREASONOUS LEGACY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY

The conscience of Rod Serling still speaks to us.

And we need only watch his “Twilight Zone” episode, “Death’s Head Revisited,” to fully understand how Republicans react when they are confronted with overwhelming evidence of their evil. 

In that episode, a former Nazi concentration camp captain returns to Dachau, to savor the torments he once inflicted on helpless men and women. To his horror, he’s greeted by the ghosts of those victims.

To one of them—Becker—he says: “That was such a long time ago. Let’s forget about all that–unpleasantness—and move on.” 

That is how Republicans have reacted when confronted with overwhelming evidence that President Donald J. Trump, having lost the 2020 Presidential election, incited violence against the Government of the United States. 

And just as most of the Original Nazis were forced to confront their past “unpleasantness”—and punished for it—so, too, must Republicans be forced to confront—and punished for—their own.

Image result for Images of Twilight Zone episode "Death's Head Revisited"

A former tormentor—and his former tormented victim—confront each other in “Death’s Head Revisited”

TREASON’S GREETINGS: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on February 17, 2021 at 12:05 am

TRUMP’S FINAL SCHEMES TO REMAIN IN POWER

Throughout November and December, 2020, cases were filed in Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia challenging the election results. None were supported by evidence of fraud—as even Trump’s lawyers admitted when questioned by judges.  

In Michigan, Trump’s attorneys dropped their federal suit to block the certification of Detroit-area ballots.

By November 21, more than 30 cases were withdrawn by Trump’s attorneys or dismissed by Federal judges—some of them appointed by Trump himself.

Ultimately, from November 3 to December 14, Trump and his allies lost 59 times in court, either withdrawing cases or having them dismissed by Federal and state judges.

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Donald Trump

On November 19, losing in the courts, Trump invited two Republican legislative leaders from Michigan to the White House. The reason: To persuade them to stop the state from certifying the vote.

The Michigan legislators said they would follow the law.

On December 5, Trump called Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and asked him to call a special legislative session and convince state legislators to select their own electors that would support him, thus overturning Biden’s win.

Kemp refused, saying he lacked the authority to do so.

On December 8, the Supreme Court refused to hear Trump’s bid to reverse Pennsylvania’s certification of Biden’s victory. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), a Trump ally, argued that the state’s 2.5 million mail-in votes were unconstitutional.

The Court’s order read, “The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice [Samuel] Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied.”

Although Trump had appointed three of the Court’s Justices, not one of them dissented.

On December 10, the Supreme Court refused to let a Texas lawsuit overturn the results in four battleground states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

The majority of their votes—cast for Biden—were critical to Trump’s defeat.

“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections,” the court said without further comment. It dismissed all other related claims as moot.

The request for their overturning came in a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. A Trump ally, Paxton has been indicted on felony securities fraud charges. He have been seeking a Presidential pardon as reward for his effort.

Seventeen Republican state Attorney Generals—and 126 Republican members of Congress—supported the lawsuit. They feared Trump’s fanatical base would “primary” them if they didn’t publicly declare their loyalty—to a man they knew was slated to leave office within two months.

Had the Court acted on Paxton’s request, the results for democracy would have been catastrophic. 

“Texas seeks to invalidate elections in four states for yielding results with which it disagrees,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told the justices in legal papers. “Its request for this court to exercise its original jurisdiction and then anoint Texas’s preferred candidate for president is legally indefensible and is an affront to principles of constitutional democracy.”

Meanwhile, top Republicans—such as Vice President Mike Pence, Missouri United States Senator Roy Blunt and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—refused to congratulate Biden as the winner. 

Mitch McConnell portrait 2016.jpg

Mitch McConnell

In fact, the vast majority of House and Senate Republicans refused to publicly acknowledge Biden as President-Elect of the United States.  The reason: They were still in thrall to Trump’s fanatical base. 

They feared that if they broke with the soon-to-be-ex-President, they would be voted out of office at the next election—and lose their cozy positions and the power and perks that come with them.

Then, on December 30,  Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley announced that, on January 6, 2021, he would object to the certification of some states’ Electoral College results. As many as 140 House Republicans and 25 from the Senate were expected to join him. 

This would have forced Republicans to:

  1. Vote to reject Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud; or
  2.  Disenfranchise millions of voters who had voted for Biden.

“Josh Hawley and anyone who supports his effort are engaged in the attempted overthrow of democracy,” Democratic Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy said.

“There is no evidence that there was any fraud. Senator Hawley apparently believes that if a Democrat wins the presidential race, it must be illegitimate by definition, even absent any actual evidence of misbehavior.”

Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse bluntly offered the reason for this effort: ‘”We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong—and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions.” 

Having lost in 59 court cases to overturn the election results, Trump opted for some old-fashioned arm-twisting.   

On January 2, 2021,  Trump called the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The reason: To pressure him to “find” enough votes to overturn former Vice President Joe Biden’s win in the state’s presidential election.

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state,” Trump lied.

He even threatened Raffensperger with criminal prosecuted if he did not change the vote count in Trump’s favor: That’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen.”  

TREASON’S GREETINGS: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on February 16, 2021 at 12:23 am

PREVENTING TREASON IN 2020

Donald Trump didn’t win a majority of the popular vote in 2016—but he got enough help from Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to put him over the top in the Electoral College.

And Trump gladly reciprocated.

On July 16, 2018, Trump attended a press conference in Helsinki, Finland, with Putin.

There he blamed American Intelligence agencies—such as the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency—instead of Putin for Russia’s subversion of the 2016 Presidential election: “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

In early 2020, SEAL Team Six raided a Taliban outpost and recovered $500,000 in American cash. The CIA believed that Putin had offered money to Taliban militants to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Trump—who received Intelligence from a wide range of military and civilian agencies—claimed he wasn’t told.

So notorious was the role played by Russian trolls and hackers in winning Trump the 2016 election that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was determined to prevent a repetition in 2020.

The man ultimately tasked with this mission was Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency run by DHS.

Chris Krebs official photo.jpg

Chris Krebs

Krebs launched a massive effort to counter lies spread by Russians—and Americans—on social media platforms. Among his duties:

  • Sharing Intelligence from agencies such as the CIA and National Security Agency with local officials about foreign efforts at election interference.
  • Ensuring that domestic voting equipment was secure.
  • Attacking domestic misinformation head-on.

As a result, Krebs was widely praised for revamping the department’s cybersecurity efforts and increasing coordination with state and local governments. 

By all accounts—except Trump’s—the 2020 election went very smoothly. 

As a result of the vast increase in election security, Trump not only failed to win the popular vote again but couldn’t get the help he expected from Putin. 

On November 17, Trump fired Chris Krebs. 

The reason: Krebs had not only countered Russian propaganda lies—he had dared to counter Trump’s as well. For example: He rejected Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud: There “is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

Too cowardly to confront Krebs, Trump fired him by tweet—and accompanied the outrage with yet another lie:

“The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud, including dead people voting, poll watchers not allowed into polling locations, glitches in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more. Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”

In a November 17 story on the CNN website, CNN reporters Kaitlan Collins and Paul LeBlanc bluntly concluded:

“[Krebs’] dismissal underscores the lengths Trump is willing to go to punish those who don’t adopt his conspiratorial view of the election.

“Since CNN and other outlets called the race for President-elect Joe Biden, Trump has refused to accept the results, instead pushing baseless conspiracies that his second term is being stolen.

“This includes falsely claiming during an election night address that he had already won reelection, that he had won states that were actually still up in the air at the time and that his opponents were perpetrating a fraud.”

TRUMP’S FINAL SCHEMES TO REMAIN IN POWER

On November 3, Joseph Biden became President-elect of the United States by winning 81,283,495 votes, or 51.4% of the vote, compared to 74,223,755 votes, or 46.9% of the vote cast for Trump.

In the Electoral College—which actually determines the winner—the results were even more stunning: 306 votes for Biden, compared with 232 for Trump. It takes 270 votes to be declared the victor.

From the moment Biden was declared the winner, Trump set out to overturn that verdict.

Joe Biden's Next Big Decision: Choosing A Running Mate | Voice of America - English

Joseph Biden

Trump refused to accept that verdict.

Speaking from the White House in the early hours of November 4, Trump sounded like a petulant child whose planned outing has been suddenly called off:

“We were getting ready for a big celebration, we were winning everything and all of a sudden it was just called off. The results tonight have been phenomenal…I mean literally we were just all set to get outside and just celebrate something that was so beautiful, so good, such a vote such a success.” 

For the first time in American history, a President demanded a halt to the counting of votes while the outcome of an election hung in doubt. 

States ignored his demand and kept counting.

Next, Trump ordered his attorneys to file lawsuits to overturn the election results, charging electoral fraud. Specifically:

  • Illegal aliens had been allowed to vote.
  • Trump ballots were systematically destroyed.
  • A sinister computer program turned Trump votes into Biden ones.

Throughout November and December, cases were filed in Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia challenging the election results. None were supported by evidence of fraud—as even Trump’s lawyers admitted when questioned by judges.

On November 13, nine cases meant to attack President-Elect Joseph Biden’s win in key states were denied or dropped. A law firm challenging the vote count in Pennsylvania withdrew from the effort.   

TREASON’S GREETINGS: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on February 15, 2021 at 12:25 am

 HISTORY’S LESSON ON TREASON

Whatever may have been my political opinions before, I have one sentiment now: That is, we have a government, and laws, and a flag, and they must all be sustained. There are but two parties now, traitors and patriots, and I want hereafter to be ranked with the latter and, I trust, the stronger party. 
—Ulysses S. Grant 

History teaches us that republics that tolerate treason soon become former republics.

Example: #1: In February, 1917, Alexander Kerensky became president of the Russian Provisional Government after the fall of Tsar Nicholas II.

Warned that Bolshevik leaders were plotting his overthrow, he refused to order their arrests: “In Russia, it’s always been too easy to arrest people who disagree with you.”

Image result for Images of Alexander Kerensky

Alexander Kerensky

On November 7, 1917, he found himself overthrown and fleeing the country for his life. A Communist government, presided over by Vladimir Lenin, assumed absolute power—and held onto it for the next 74 years

Example #2: On November 9, 1923, Nazi Party Fuhrer Adolf Hitler tried to overthrow the government in Munich, Bavaria.

About 2,000 Nazis marched to the center of Munich, where they confronted heavily-armed police. A shootout erupted, killing 16 Nazis and four policemen. 

Hitler was injured during the clash, but managed to escape. Two days later, he was arrested and charged with treason.

Put on trial, he found himself treated as a celebrity by a judge sympathetic to Right-wing groups. He was allowed to brutally cross-examine witnesses and even make inflammatory speeches.

At the end of the trial, he was convicted of treason and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

Serving time in Landsberg Prison, in Bavaria. he was given a huge cell, allowed to receive unlimited visitors and gifts, and treated with deference by guards and inmates.

Hitler used his time in prison to write his infamous book, Mein Kampf-–“My Struggle.” Part autobiography, part political treatise, it laid out his future plans—including the extermination of the Jews and the conquest of the Soviet Union.

Image result for Images of Adolf Hitler outside Landsberg prison

Adolf Hitler leaving Landsberg Prison, December, 20, 1924

Nine months later, he was released on parole—by authorities loyal to the authoritarian Right instead of the newly-created Weimar Republic.

Hitler immediately began rebuilding the shattered Nazi party—and deciding on a new strategy to gain power. Never again would he resort to armed force. He would win office by election—or intrigue.

On January 30, 1933, those intrigues made him Chancellor of Germany. 

Writes historian Volker Ullrich, in his monumental 2016 biography, Hitler: Ascent 1889 – 1939: “Historians have perennially tried to answer the question of whether Hitler’s rise to power could have been halted….

“There were repeated opportunities to end Hitler’s run of triumphs. The most obvious one was after the failed Putsch of November 1923. Had the Munich rabble-rouser been forced to serve his full five-year term of imprisonment in Landsberg, it is extremely unlikely that he would have been able to restart his political career.”

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ELECTIONS OF 2016 AND 2020

During the 2016 Presidential race, Russian propaganda played a major role in convincing millions of Americans to vote for Donald Trump. Social media platforms—especially Facebook and Twitter—were flooded with genuinely fake news to sow discord among Americans and create a pathway for Trump’s election.

And where Internet trolls left off, Russian computer hackers took over.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, had quickly assessed Trump as an egotistical narcissist. By appealing to Trump’s vanity, Putin expected to sharply reduce the military and political threat the United States represented to a resurgent Russia. 

Donald Trump didn’t win a majority of the popular vote in 2016—but he got enough help from Putin to put him over the top in the Electoral College. 

And Trump gladly reciprocated.

Image result for Images of Donald Trump with Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump

From his first day in office, he sided with brutal dictators (Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-On, China’s Xi Jinping) and declared war on America’s oldest and most reliable allies (Canada, Britain, France).

When he spoke with Putin face-to-face, he afterward demanded that the lone translator surrender his notes, so there would be no record of what he had agreed to with Putin.   

On May 10, 2017, Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office—and gave them highly classified CIA Intelligence about an Islamic State plot to turn laptops into concealable bombs. 

Not only did this occur in the Oval Office, but it happened on the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey for refusing to become Trump’s version of a KGB chief. 

“I just fired the head of the FBI,” Trump told the two dignitaries. “He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

On numerous occasions Donald Trump fiercely denied any Russian connections. On January 11, 2017, he tweeted: “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” 

But Trump’s son, Eric, bragged in 2014: “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.”

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