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'I was enabling them': This GOP operative realized he couldn't stop the dark forces in his party — and left

November 25, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

In Trumpworld, one of the worst things a Republican can be called is a “RINO” or “Republican In Name Only” — and conservative activist Tim Miller has been called that many times this year for his vehement opposition to President Donald Trump and support for President-elect Joe Biden. Miller, who served as communications director for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, remained in the Republican Party until recently despite his disdain for Trumpism. But on the conservative website The Bulwark, Miller explains why he has finally left the GOP after many years.

“This year, the Republican Party elected officials, with one Willardian exception, were united behind a birther who tried to ban people from travel based on their religion, told American Black women to ‘go back’ where they came from, and put a White nationalist collaborator in charge of our immigration regime,” Miller explains. “So today, it’s me who is heading for the exits. They have been clearly marked.”

Miller points out that there were reactionaries in the Republican Party long before Trump’s presidency, but under Trumpism, they have become especially outspoken. And looking back, Miller now says that the reactionaries were more prominent in the GOP in the past than he wanted to acknowledge.

Miller explains, “While Donald Trump and John McCain are polar opposites as men, the forces driving the illiberal and nativist elements of the Republican Party were there the whole time.… The thing is, in 2008, I had convinced myself these forces were just the nuts out on the margins, while I was one of the good ones. What I didn’t realize — but probably should have — was that these forces weren’t as marginal as I thought. That I was enabling them, and that they were increasing in power within the Party throughout the entire time I was a professional operative.”

When Trump was elected president, Miller writes, it became impossible to ignore the role that extremism played in the GOP.

Miller writes, “Trump’s win forced me to get outside of my bubble a bit and try to understand his appeal outside the urban pockets of fabulousness I inhabited. It opened my eyes to the lasting structural racism and resentments that still plague our …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump pardons Michael Flynn — making himself look even more guilty

November 25, 2020 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced a “full pardon” for his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a key figure from the start of Russia investigation and the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 presidential transition. The reason for his lying was never fully explained. He also admitted to working as an unregistered foreign agent for Turkey while serving on the Trump campaign, work that included publishing a ghost-written op-ed in The Hill that argued for extraditing an American resident who is seen as an enemy of the Turkish government. After admitting to his crimes, Flynn attempted to recant and withdraw his guilty plea, an issue which had yet to be resolved by the courts.

Trump was widely expected to give a pardon to Flynn, who has become a hero on the right for his perceived martyrdom in the Russia probe. Despite the fact that he admitted his guilt and there is strong evidence behind the charges, Flynn was seen by many conservative figures as wrongfully prosecuted.

It’s not clear yet what conduct the pardon covers. Trump’s tweet about the matter did not specify how the pardon is worded, which could be significant for any potential future case against Flynn.

Flynn’s pardon follows Trump’s Summer commutation of the sentence of Roger Stone, another of his allies who was charged by the Mueller team. Additional pardons for others involved or those charged in other cases may bet yet to come.

It’s worth noting that the pardons undermine the whole point of having a special counsel, which is meant to protect sensitive cases that implicate the president’s interest from the White House’s influence.

In the Mueller report, the special counsel argued that the president’s repeated suggestions that pardons may be awaiting Flynn, Stone, and others could constitute criminal acts of obstruction of justice. Trump’s following through on giving these pardons could be seen as additional evidence for this crime.

In the case of Flynn, the report explained:

After Flynn withdrew from a joint defense agreement with the President and began cooperating with the government, the President’s personal counsel left a message for …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Report reveals a GOP anti-Muslim push led to 5 wrongful termination claims — costing the House $850k

November 25, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

President Donald Trump and some of his Republican allies have not been shy about fear-mongering over Muslims. And that fear-mongering, according to the New York Times reporters Noam Scheiber and Nicholas Fandos, is costing the federal government a lot of money. Scheiber and Fandos are reporting that this year, the U.S. House of Representatives “quietly” paid a total of $850,000 to “settle wrongful termination claims by five Pakistani-American technology specialists, after a set of routine workplace allegations against them morphed into fodder for right-wing conspiracy theories amplified by President Trump.”

According to Scheiber and Fandos, “What started as a relatively ordinary House inquiry into procurement irregularities by Imran Awan, three members of his family and a friend — who had a bustling practice providing members of Congress with technology support — was twisted into lurid accusations of hacking government information.”

Scheiber and Fandos recall that when Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland in 2018, he “implied that one of the employees involved in the House case — a ‘Pakistani gentleman,’ he said — could have been responsible for stealing e-mails of Democratic officials leaked during the 2016 campaign. His own intelligence agencies had concluded that the stolen e-mails were part of an election interference campaign ordered by Moscow.”

Rep. Ted Deutch, the Florida Democrat who chairs the House Ethics Committee, used Awan for tech support in the past — and he slammed Trump for defaming the Pakistani-American tech specialists.

Deutch told the Times, “It is tragic and outrageous the way right-wing media and Republicans all the way up to President Trump attempted to destroy the lives of an immigrant Muslim-American family based on scurrilous allegations. Their names were smeared on cable TV, their children were harassed at school, and they genuinely feared for their lives. The settlement is an acknowledgment of the wrong done to this family.”

The case, however, preceded Trump’s presidency and originated in 2016.

Scheiber and Fandos explain, “Officials in the House, then controlled by Republicans, began investigating claims that the specialists had improperly accounted for purchases of equipment and bent employment rules as they worked part-time for the offices of dozens of Democratic lawmakers. In the hands of the chamber’s inspector general and later the Capitol Police, the investigation slowly expanded to include concerns that the workers had illicitly gained access to, transferred or removed government data and stolen equipment.”

The Daily Caller, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Here's the fundamental reason so many are obsessed with Trump

November 25, 2020 in Blogs

By Amanda Marcotte

Are we addicted to Donald Trump? It’s a question that’s haunting journalists and political commentators, most of whom hate Trump but cannot deny that his name drives traffic and ratings. Even though Trump lost the election and Joe Biden will be the next president, Trump continues to be the big attention draw for political websites and cable news networks.

Part of that is completely understandable. Trump is still big news. He literally spent the past few weeks attempting a coup. While he failed, that doesn’t change the history-making fact that he even tried, or that he got so much support. Certainly Biden, whose main activity is finding boring-but-competent people to staff his administration, can’t compete with that, and there’s no real indication that he wants to. (Unlike Trump, Biden views governing as a job and not just an opportunity to get attention.)

But there is no doubt that the media remains flatly fascinated with Trump, in no small part because, as Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir argued Monday, “our readers and viewers have enabled and encouraged us at every step” and stories about Trump “outperform every other category of reporting, commentary or analysis we can possibly offer.”

As Philip Bump at the Washington Post documented Tuesday, since Trump first announced his run for president, he “is the political figure who garners the most search interest, cable news mentions or screen time each month since June 2015.”

Because of all this, it’s become quite fashionable in some circles to haughtily declare that all this interest is tawdry, and that if we simply ignored Trump, he would go away. Hardly a week goes by on social media where I don’t get some reader who, sick of it all, will lash out at me personally and demand that I stop writing about, tweeting about or otherwise giving attention to Trump.

But the command to ignore him didn’t make the bully disappear in junior high school and it certainly doesn’t work with the president. Nor can Trump’s importance in our politics be easily reduced to a pop psychology assumption that all fascination is inherently addiction and therefore bad.

The reality is that the Trump obsession isn’t really about Trump himself anyway. It’s about his followers.

Don’t get me wrong. I confess some interest in his psychology, which our traffic shows is widely shared. But let’s face it — even on the sociopath …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump is facing new debt collectors — and they're coming from El Paso

November 25, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

When President Donald Trump held a MAGA rally in El Paso in February 2019, it cost the West Texas city more than half a million dollars — and almost two years later, according to KTSM-TV (an NBC affiliate in El Paso), the city government is still trying to get Team Trump to cover those expenses.

KTSM’s Taniana Favela reports that El Paso City Councilman Peter Svarzbein, on Tuesday, said, “We all are seeing firsthand the struggles that everyday El Paso families have, in addition to the challenges that we have in our own budget. So, this amount of money is not inconsequential — and also, the message that we send that nobody is above the law is also an important one for our community to understand as well.”

El Paso is a Democrat-leaning city in a light red state that Trump carried by 6% in the 2020 presidential election. Although Texas on the whole leans Republican, its largest urban centers — including Houston, Austin and Dallas — lean Democrat. Nonetheless, Trump chose blue El Paso for a rally in February 2019. And that visit and event, according to KTSM, cost the city a total of $569,204.63.

This week, the El Paso City Council, including Svarzbein, unanimously voted in favor of hiring outside legal counsel — attorney Snapper L. Carr’s law office — in an effort to get that money from the Trump campaign. But Karla Nieman, city attorney for El Paso, acknowledged that after the 2020 presidential election, Trump’s reelection campaign is “likely to face a large amount of debt.” And according to Nieman, the City of El Paso might not sue Trump’s campaign — although Nieman didn’t rule out the possibility.

The Texas Tribune quoted Nieman as saying, “It does not necessarily mean that the City will be filing a lawsuit, but that we will be using various methods to attempt to collect the debt owed to the City of El Paso.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET