Posts tagged with "President Barack Obama"

Trump calls Michael Flynn ‘a hero’ after DOJ drops charges

May 11, 2020

Thanks to Attorney General Bill Barr, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may now be free and clear of the federal charges to which he pleaded guilty in December 2017—and President Donald Trump is a happy man.

After Barr’s Department of Justice dropped charges on May 7, Trump—who has said that he would be open to bringing Flynn back to the White House—showered praise on his former aide, calling him “an innocent man,” “a great gentleman” and “a hero,” according to a report by Forbes.

Indeed, the president has been a strong supporter of Flynn throughout the three years that the case against him has been on the books : In February 2017, after just weeks on the job, Flynn was (reluctantly) fired from his post at the White House after he gave false statements about his relationship with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence, FBI investigators, White House aides, and the media.

Flynn admitted to talks with the ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration, during which he had promised to ease Russian sanctions instituted by the Obama administration, the news outlet noted. In pleading guilty, Flynn said “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right …. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Nevertheless, after the Justice Department moved to drop charges against Flynn for lying to the FBI (and others in the administration) about Russian contacts, Trump celebrated the news and launched into a rant about the Justice Department under President Barack Obama—saying the department’s investigation into Flynn was treasonous, Forbes reports.

Treason, which carries a penalty of death, has a strict definition: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere.”

However, Forbes said, Trump hurled insults at the former administration, calling them “dishonest crooked people” and “human scum,” while also claiming the media is “very complicit” and that people who won Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting are “not journalists, they’re thieves.”

Indeed, according to Forbes, Trump and Flynn’s team have latched on to newly unsealed documents that they claim showcase corruption in Flynn’s charging. Handwritten notes from the FBI detail how they will conduct an interview with Flynn in 2017. “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired? If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ and have them decide. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him [redacted] and he admits it, document for DOJ and let them decide how to address it.”

The notes also say, “If we’re seen as playing games, [White House] will be furious. Protect our institution by not playing games ….We regularly show subjects evidence, with the goal of getting them to admit their wrongdoing. I don’t see how getting someone to admit their wrongdoing is going easy on him.”

What will happen next? Judge Emmet Sullivan, the presiding judge on the case, is no pushover. While the DOJ has dismissed its charges, Sullivan knows that Flynn pleaded guilty—and may be unlikely to let him off so easily. He is also is not likely to introduce the equivocal and inconclusive new documents at this juncture.

Stay tuned.

Research contact: @Forbes

Trump threatens to adjourn Congress in order to unilaterally confirm his nominees

April 17, 2020

“I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be,” President Donald Trump told Fox News in November 2017. And he continues to think that his choices are the only ones of value.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that the president threatened on April 15 to adjourn both chambers of Congress so he can appoint his nominees for key positions without confirmation by the Senate.

Indeed, The Wall Street Journal reports, during a news conference at the White House on Wednesday, Trump called on lawmakers to formally adjourn the House and Senate so he can make recess appointments for positions he said were important to the administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate, which confirms a president’s nominees, has been conducting what are called pro forma sessions while lawmakers are back in their states, sheltering in place.

No legislative business is conducted during these brief meetings, which sometimes last only a few minutes, but they technically prevent the president from making recess appointments.

If lawmakers don’t agree to adjourn and end the pro forma sessions, “I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress,” President Trump avowed. “The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis. It’s a scam, what they do.”

Among the appointments Trump said he wanted to make, the Journal reported, was his nominee to head the agency that oversees Voice of America, conservative filmmaker Michael Pack, who has been blocked by Democrats. The White House has accused the government-backed news organization of spreading foreign propaganda—a charge VOA strongly denies.

In addition to the VOA nominee, Trump pointed to his nominee to be the director of national intelligence, as well as nominees for positions on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, and in the Treasury Department and the Agriculture Department.

The Constitution gives the president the power to adjourn Congress only in the rare circumstances of a disagreement between the two chambers over when to adjourn. No president has ever exercised the authority to adjourn it.

President Barack Obama challenged the Senate’s practice of holding pro forma sessions to try to block his constitutional power to make recess appointments. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against  Obama’s end run around the Senate in 2014.

Trump said he was reluctant to make recess appointments but would do so if Congress doesn’t act on his nominees.

For Mr. Trump’s strategy to work he would need the cooperation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Kentucky), who would have to force a disagreement with the House over when to adjourn. Trump and McConnell discussed the idea in a phone call earlier Wednesday, the Journal reports.

The president acknowledged that the effort would likely result in a legal challenge. “We’ll see who wins,” he said.

Research contact: @WSJ

Trump tries to tie Obama to CDC’s ‘inadequate’ testing system

March 16 2020

President Donald Trump is “throwing shade” at his predecessor in an attempt to shift the blame for the current administration’s lack of speedy response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, March 13, Trump again claimed that his reaction to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States had been hindered by the Obama administration—a claim that has failed to gain traction because the 44th president left office more than three years before the health emergency erupted.

As The New York Times reported, Trump attacked Obama, who served with likely Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, in two posts on Twitter .

“For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it,” @realDonald Trump tweeted. “It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped. President Obama made changes that only complicated things further.

“Their response to H1N1 Swine Flu was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now,” Trump added, promising again that “The changes have been made and testing will soon happen on a very large scale basis. All Red Tape has been cut, ready to go!” he wrote.

The president was not specific, the Times said, about what changes President Barack Obama made to “complicate things further,” but at least one regulatory change previously discussed by Trump and his CDC director was never put into effect.

 Dr. Anthony Fauci, the widely-respected director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called the current system of testing for coronavirus “a failing” on Capitol Hill Thursday, even as Trump told reporters it’s been “going very smooth.”

Research contact: @nytimes

He’s all in: Former congressman Joe Walsh announces primary challenge against Trump

August 27, 2019

Former congressman Joe Walsh (R-Illinois) announced on ABC’s This Week Sunday that he would challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 primary—becoming the third Republican to go up against the POTUS, after former Massachusetts Governor William Weld and former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford announced they were in the race during April and August, respectively.

According to a report by The Washington Post, Walsh, a talk-radio host, was elected to Congress in 2010 as part of the conservative Tea Party wave and served one term. He has described himself as an immigration hard-liner and said he would not challenge Trump from the center but from the right and on moral grounds.

“I’m going to run for president,” Walsh told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, charging that the president is “incompetent,” “a bigot” and “a narcissist.”

When Stephanopoulos pushed back, pointing out that Walsh, himself, had a long history of racist and controversial statements, the new candidate said, “I helped create Trump, and George, that’s not an easy thing to say,” noting,  “I went beyond the policy and the idea differences and I got personal and I got hateful. I said some ugly things about President Obama that I regret.”

Like another Republican who recently turned on Trump— former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci—Walsh would not be averse to invoking the 25th Amendment in order to remove the “unfit”  president from office. He told Stephanopoulos that the amendment should be  “looked at” because “we’ve never had a situation like this. You can’t believe a word he says.”

Meanwhile, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld welcomed Walsh’s entry into the race, saying on NBC’s Meet the Press, “It’s going to be a more robust conversation. Who knows? The networks might even cover Republican primary debates.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Going south? Trump’s Miami resort in mix to host G7 summit

July 23, 2019

The Trump administration, which next year will host the leaders of the world’s seven most powerful industrialized economies for the G7 summit, is down to its final few choices after completing site surveys of possible locations —and Trump National Doral, the president’s 800-acre golf club in Miami, is among the finalists, Axios reported on July 22.

The G7 comprises the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada—traditionally, this country’s closest allies; although President Trump has shown a preference for other nation states during his time in office.

Trump loves showing off and promoting his properties with no qualms about criticism for mixing state and personal business, and his interest in hosting the G7 at Doral was first mentioned by The Washington Post last month.

The Post also reported, on May 15, that the Doral was “in steep decline, according to [Trump Organization] documents,” with operating income down 69% since 2015.

The downturn at this Trump property “is especially significant,” the Post said, “because the resort had seemed better insulated from political backlash than other Trump properties, protected by its place in golf’s history, by its recent renovations, and by its location in a booming state that won Trump won in 2016.” It wasn’t.

Thus, the G7 would provide opportunities for extra conference bookings and worldwide publicity for the underperforming property.

This would be the first G7 summit since 2012 to be held in the United States. At that time, former President Barack Obama invited leaders to Camp David.

Research contact: @Axios

Obama implores, ‘Restore honesty, decency, and lawfulness in government’

September 10, 2018

Former President Barack Obama has delivered two major speeches since the start of September—one at Senator John McCain’s funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral on September 1 and another at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on September 7—a sure sign that the crucial midterm elections are approaching.

The occasion for the latest speech was the presentation to the 44th president of the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government by the university in acknowledgement of his belief in the principles of equality and decency over division.

I’m here today,” he said on Friday, “because this is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us as citizens of the United States need to determine just who we are, what it is that we stand for. As a fellow citizen, not as an ex-president, I’m here to deliver a simple message, which is that you need to vote, because our democracy depends on it.”

Obama characterized the upcoming election as the most significant in American history. “Just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different,” he noted. “The stakes really are higher. The consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire.”

And, according to a September 7 report by Politico, for the first time since leaving office, he said Trump’s name. “It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom [of our tribal divisions], not the cause,” Obama said, to applause. “He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years.”

He laid a great deal of the blame for the country’s climate of contention on U.S. legislators. “It’s not just about Trump, he said. It’s about Republicans “who know better in Congress … bending over backwards to shield” Trump. They’re hypocrites, he said, and they’re just as dangerous to America. At times mocking them and at times laying into them, Obama said they’ve abandoned all that they’re supposed to stand for as Republicans, and as citizens of this country, Politico reported.

“None of this is conservative. I don’t mean to pretend I’m channeling Lincoln now, but that’s not what he had in mind, I don’t think, when he formed the Republican Party. It sure isn’t normal. It’s radical. It’s a vision that says our protection of our power is all that matters,” Obama said.

What’s more, Obama said, no American should feel good about the idea, expressed in the anonymous New York Times op-ed on September 6, that there are adults in the room managing Trump.

“That is not a check. That’s not how our democracy’s supposed to work. These people aren’t elected,” he said. “They’re not doing us a service by actively promoting 90% of the crazy stuff that’s coming out of this White House, and saying, ‘Don’t worry, we’re preventing the other 10%.’”

He ended by imploring the public to do the right thing: “Even if you don’t agree with me or Democrats on policy, even if you agree with more libertarian economic views, even if you are an evangelical and the position on social issues is a bridge too far,” Obama said. “I’m here to tell you that you should still be concerned and should still want to see a restoration of honesty and decency and lawfulness in our government. It should not be Democratic or Republican. It should not be partisan to say that we do not pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents.”

“We are Americans,” Obama said.

At press time, Trump’s favorability polls remained stable. Gallup reported that 41% of Americans approved of the president’s job performance and 53% disapproved.

Research contact: @IsaacDovere

Oh, you beautiful doll: Brooklyn company raises over $600K for a Ruth Bader Ginsburg action figure

July 11, 2018

Ruth Bader Ginsburg—the Supreme Court justice perhaps best-known for her strong voice in favor of gender equality and her dissenting opinion in Bush v. Gore—always has been a woman of action. Now, a crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign, started by the Brooklyn-based creative house FCTRY and asking for $1 pledges since April, has raised an amazing $613,655 from 15,652 backers to produce a lifelike action figure of the plucky, intellectual jurist. When the fundraising window ended on July 10, the campaign had exceeded its original funding goal of $15,000 by over 4 000%, MIC reported.

The action figure’s prototype was sculpted by Mike Leavitt, a Seattle-based master caricaturist who portrayed the diminutive, soft-spoken member of the court with her characteristic, piercing gaze. The six-inch replica comes wearing her “righteous robe”, carrying a teeny-tiny gavel, pointing a finger, and wearing pulled-back hair and wire-rim glasses. The dolls will be available for shipping in September.

One dollar from the sales of each $20 action figure will be donated by FCTRY to She’s the first, an organization that fights gender inequality through education. STF provides scholarships to support girls who will be the first in their families to graduate from high school, and strains students everywhere to be global citizens.

On its Kickstarter page, FCTRY said it selected RBG as the subject of its newest campaign because she’s a “tremendously positive and inspirational character to so many different kinds of people.”

But she is not the only action figure available to support a good cause. RBG is just the latest offering from FCTRY, which also sells replicas of former President Barack Obama, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and, yes, President Donald Trump. (The POTUS already is sold out. Sorry.)

“Knowing that some of these figures will surely wind up in the hands of young girls and boys who may, quite possibly, grow up entirely free of all of the antiquated stereotypes that RBG has spent her life dismantling is both gratifying and humbling,” FCTRY’s Kickstarter says.

Followers already are asking for more versions of the figure. In fact, one woman who already had order 3 RBGs and 2 Obamas pleaded in an email to the Kickstarter site, “And yes …[Rachel] MADDOW! My 89-year-old mom would be over the moon.” Another said, “MADD … Wait for it …DOW!”

Finally, liberals, take heart. For $100, you can have a full dream team of RBG, Warren, Hillary, Obama, and Bernie shipped straight to you, with proceeds going to several good causes.

Research contact: @fctry

90% of Americans support DACA; most oppose border wall

January 19, 2018

Nearly 90% of Americans favor allowing young immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children to remain here—a federal policy established under President Barack Obama and known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This is a view that spans partisan lines, based on results of a survey of 1,225 adults nationwide released on January 18 by CBS News. .

However, the sticking point—one that may lead to a government shutdown as soon as tonight—is the demand of President Donald Trump for financing for the wall he campaigned on, which he believes would stop illegal immigration into the United States from Mexico and other Latin American nations.

Americans remain divided over which issue is worth risking a shutdown of the federal government, the CBS poll has found: Democrats support DACA; Republicans support a wall on the southern border:

  • Most Americans continue to oppose building a border wall, however, 70% of Republicans support it—and 51% of GOP supporters think it worth risking a government shutdown to get it.
  • More than half of Democrats (57%) say it’s worth shutting down the government to have young illegal immigrants stay in-country.

If the wall is ultimately built, 85% of Americans (including majorities across party lines) think that the United States would foot the bill; not Mexico. Most Democrats and Independents are bothered by the possibility of the United States. paying for the wall, but Republicans, two-thirds of whom favor the wall, are not.

On a related issue, CBS News reports, 75% of Americans find the remarks President Trump reportedly made about immigration from Haiti and African countries unacceptable for a President to make, but fewer, 52%, say they are personally bothered by them. Seventy-two percent of Republicans say they are not personally bothered.

Asked which criteria the U.S. should use to admit immigrants, slightly more Americans (47%) prefer that priority be given to people based on their education, job skills, and work experience than people with family members already living here (39%).

Research contact: @Fred Backus