Fiona Hill reflects on ‘terrible spectacle’ of Trump-Putin summit ahead of Biden’s meeting with Russian President – CNNPolitics

“(CNN)Fiona Hill, once then-President Donald Trump’s top Russia adviser, said Tuesday evening that she was so alarmed during Trump’s 2018 press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin that she had looked for a fire alarm to pull and considered faking a medical emergency.

“I just thought, let’s cut this off and try to end it. I couldn’t come up with anything that just wouldn’t add to the terrible spectacle,” Hill told CNN’s Don Lemon on “Don Lemon Tonight.”
Her reflection on the controversial press conference — wherein Trump declined to support the US government’s assessment that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election — comes on the eve of President Joe Biden’s highly anticipated summit with Putin, an event Hill has helped the President prepare for.
Biden has spent the past week consulting fellow leaders, national security aides and political advisers, reading through extensive preparation materials and thinking about what exactly he will say to the Russian President when they meet on Wednesday.”

Source: Fiona Hill reflects on ‘terrible spectacle’ of Trump-Putin summit ahead of Biden’s meeting with Russian President – CNNPolitics

Opinion | Bill Bratton Discusses Police Reform With Maureen Dowd – The New York Times

Bratton first ran the N.Y.P.D. in the mid-90s, as Rudy Giuliani’s commissioner, trying “to take back a city that was out of control.” After he appeared on the cover of Time in 1996 in a trench coat under the Brooklyn Bridge, his relationship to a petty Giuliani went kaput.

Bratton adds that Giuliani “had such awful relations with the Black community and the Black leadership, it really prevented police commissioners, myself included, from developing relationships that we would love to have made with the Black community.”

Credit…Chad Batka for The New York Times

“. . .  It must’ve been strange to watch Rudy devolve into a two-bit henchman for a former reality TV star, and to see the feds’ recent predawn raid of Giuliani’s home and office.

“As somebody who’s got a big ego, speaking about another guy with a big ego, I can’t understand how he allowed himself to be subsumed by Trump,” says Bratton. “He’s made a caricature of himself and he’s lost the image of America’s mayor because of the antics of the last two or three years.”

I ask about the hypocrisy of Donald Trump, claiming to support the police and then siccing the mob on the Capitol Police.

“We saw how pro-police that mob was, didn’t we?” Bratton says dryly. “I know a lot of the cops really liked Trump because they feel he stands up for them against a lot of progressives. I personally believe that he was encouraging that insurrection that day.”

Bratton says it’s “shameful and disgraceful” that Republicans on Friday blocked the bill to create a commission to investigate Jan. 6, adding that “without the Capitol Police, our country would have failed on that day.”  . . .”

Neal K. Katyal | Release the Barr-Trump Memo on Obstruction of Justice – The New York Times

Mr. Katyal is a professor at Georgetown Law School, was an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and is a co-author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

“The Biden Justice Department appears to be making a serious mistake by trying to keep secret a Trump-era document about former Attorney General William P. Barr’s decision to clear his boss, former President Donald Trump, of obstructing justice.

The American people have a right to see the memo. Then they can decide whether Mr. Barr used his power as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer as a shield to protect the president.

This month, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court in Washington ordered it released. Were this an ordinary criminal case, her order would represent a remarkable intrusion into prosecutorial secrecy, and I would have appealed when I was acting solicitor general.

But the document is anything but ordinary. It concerns attempts at the highest levels of government to shield the attorney general’s boss from criminal liability. It is, in essence, the people’s memo, and with its appeal, the Justice Department is attempting to hide it from public scrutiny.”   . . .

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Bravo Neal K. Katyal. I suspected that if I kept reading about this, it might evenually make some sense that I could mostly understand. Thank you for putting a complex set of issues in mostly plain English. Since I was able to follow this report, I can heartily agree with your conclusion, that the judge is right, the rights of the governed here trump the needs of Justice Department posecutorial protection. Pun intended. I hope to hear from you soon, about whether there is a good case to make against Trump for obstruction of justice? Can it be valid now that he is a mere citizen? Are Presidents forever above the law?

Maureen Dowd | Liz Cheney and the Big Lies – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — I miss torturing Liz Cheney.

But it must be said that the petite blonde from Wyoming suddenly seems like a Valkyrie amid halflings.

She is willing to sacrifice her leadership post — and risk her political career — to continue calling out Donald Trump’s Big Lie. She has decided that, if the price of her job is being as unctuous to Trump as Kevin McCarthy is, it isn’t worth it, because McCarthy is totally disgracing himself.

It has been a dizzying fall for the scion of one of the most powerful political families in the land, a conservative chip off the old block who was once talked about as a comer, someone who could be the first woman president.

How naïve I was to think that Republicans would be eager to change the channel after Trump cost them the Senate and the White House and unleashed a mob on them.  . . . “

Thomas Edsall | Why Trump Still Rules the Republican Party – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/21/opinion/trump-republicans.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

There is so much here to understand Trump’s political successes, I recommend you read the whole thing. I picked one of many good parts.

“. . .  At the heart of what the authors call “Trump-speak” is a

politics of reassurance, which relies upon a threefold rhetorical strategy: it tells audiences what is wrong with the current state of affairs; it identifies the political agents that are responsible for putting individuals and the country in a state of loss and crisis; and it offers an abstract pathway through which people can restore past greatness by opting for a high-risk outsider candidate.

Once an audience is under Trump’s spell, Homolar and Scholz write:

Rational arguments or detailed policy proposals pale in comparison with the emotive pull and self-affirmation of an us-versus-them crisis narrative, which creates a cognitive feedback loop between individuals’ ontological insecurity, their preferences for restorative policy, and strongmen candidate options. In short, “Trumpspeak” relies on creating the very ontological insecurity that it promises to eradicate for political gain.

The authors describe “ontological security” as “having a sense of presence in the world, describing such a person as a ‘real, alive, whole, and, in a temporal sense, a continuous person,’” citing R.D. Laing, the author of “The Divided Self.” Being ontologically secure, they continue, “allows us to ‘encounter all the hazards of life, social, ethical, spiritual, biological’ with a firm sense of both our own and others’ reality and identity. However, ontological security only prevails in the absence of anxiety and danger.” . . . “

Max Frankel | The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo – The New York Times

Mr. Frankel was the executive editor of The Times from 1986 to 1994.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“Collusion — or a lack of it — turns out to have been the rhetorical trap that ensnared President Trump’s pursuers. There was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy because they had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions. The Trumpites knew about the quid and held out the prospect of the quo.

Run down the known facts about the communications between Russians and the Trump campaign and their deal reveals itself. Perhaps, somewhere along the line, Russians also reminded the Trump family of their helpful cooperation with his past financial ventures. Perhaps, also, they articulated their resentment of Mrs. Clinton for her challenge as secretary of state to the legitimacy of Mr. Putin’s own election. But no such speculation is needed to perceive the obvious bargain reached during the campaign of 2016.

Early on, emissaries of the Russian oligarchs sent word of their readiness to help embarrass and undermine the Clinton candidacy. And in June 2016, the Russians lured the Trumpites to a meeting in Trump Tower with a promise of “dirt” against Mrs. Clinton only to use the meeting to harp on their hunger for sanctions relief. As the Trump family openly acknowledged, the Russians spoke at that meeting of a desire to again allow Americans to adopt Russian children. Since the adoptions were halted to retaliate against the American sanctions, it required no dictionary to interpret the oligarchs’ meaning: “dirt” for sanctions relief.

That relief and a warm new relationship with Russia were then freely discussed in public and in private. There was even an effort to concoct a grand diplomatic bargain by which the Russians would be allowed to legalize their seizure of the Ukrainian Crimea. Michael Cohen and other Trump advisers promoted the idea of letting the Russians “lease” the seized territory for up to 100 years so as to sanitize the reciprocal lifting of the sanctions that Mr. Obama had imposed to punish the land grab.”

David Lindsay: I missed this story, but it appeared today, 3/10/21, in a small piece in the NYT that a court dismissed a Trump law suit charging defamation, regarding this op-ed above.

 The sentence above about offering to allow adoptions to resume is confusing to this reader. Perhaps it is used an example that the Russians offered as many benefits as they could think of, if the Trumpsters would promise to remove the economic sanctions, that were hurting Putin and his group.

The message though is still clear, as expressed in the subtitle of that Frankel op-ed: “The campaign and the Kremlin had an overarching deal: help beat Hillary Clinton for a new pro-Russian foreign policy.”

Here is the link to the NYT story of today

Maureen Dowd | Trump’s Taste for Blood – The New York Times

“. . .  But once Trump got into politics, he realized, with growing intoxication, that the more incendiary he was, the more his fans would cheer. He found that he could really play with the emotions of the crowd, and that turned him on. Now he had the chance to command a mob, so his words could be linked to their actions.

Trump never cared about law and order or the cops. He was thrilled that he could unleash his mob on the Capitol and its guardians, with rioters smearing blood and feces and yelling Trump’s words and going after his targets — Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence.

It was Manson family-chilling to watch the House impeachment managers’ video with a rioter hunting for the House speaker, calling out: “Where are you, Nancy? We’re looking for you, Na-a-ncy. Oh, Na-a-ncy.”

It was like watching his vicious Twitter feed come alive. Others were chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” even as a gallows, complete with noose, was erected on the lawn. Watching those shivery videos, it hit home how Pelosi and Pence could have been killed and the melee could have turned into a far worse blood bath.

Trump not caring about the fate of his vice president was the inevitable sick end of the pairing of the Sociopath and the Sycophant.”   . . .

“. . .  CNN reported Friday night that Kevin McCarthy called Trump during the riot, telling him the mob was breaking his windows to get in. The then-president told him: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” The conversation ended in a shouting match. Yet McCarthy still voted against impeaching the president.

These dreadful Republicans are all Falstaffs, trampling the concept of honor, blowing it off as a mere airy-fairy word, not worth sacrificing anything for, not worth defending your country for. “Honor is a mere scutcheon,” Falstaff scoffed.

McConnell and the other craven Republicans realize now that they should not have played along with Trump as long as they did, while he undermined the election. But they still refuse to hold him accountable because he controls their voters.

The Democrats put on an excellent case, and they were right to impeach Trump. But if the Republicans won’t convict him, then bring on the criminal charges. Republicans say that’s how it should be done when someone is out of office, so let’s hope someone follows through on their suggestion.

A few days ago, prosecutors in Georgia opened an investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the election there. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance could drag Trump into court on tax and fraud charges. Karl Racine, the attorney general for D.C., has said that Trump could be charged for his role in inciting the riot.

Maybe a man who gloated as his crowds screamed “Lock her up!” will find that jurors reach a similar conclusion about him.”  -30-

 

Thomas L. Friedman | What Trump, San Francisco and the Deer in My Backyard Have in Common – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“What do the left-wing San Francisco Board of Education, Donald Trump’s right-wing G.O.P. and all the deer that hang out in my neighborhood have in common? So much more than you’d think. And the future of American democracy rides on understanding why.

Let me start with the deer. The reason they are so comfortable lollygagging through our yards and multiplying like rabbits is that they know from experience that they have no predators — no hunters, no mountain lions out here in suburban Maryland. So, they do all sorts of stupid stuff, like walk into the middle of the road and get hit by cars, rub the bark off tree trunks and eat all our flowers.

Well, those deer are like the San Francisco Board of Education when it recently decided — in a self-parody of political correctness — to prioritize renaming 44 public schools that had been named for people who, it argued, had exhibited racist behaviors in their lifetimes, including Abraham Lincoln, Paul Revere and Senator Dianne Feinstein. They put this task ahead of getting kids back into those schools, which have been shut for the pandemic.

Such nonsense happens because, like my deer, San Francisco’s school board has no political predators. Liberal Democrats dominate politics there, so there’s no serious threat from a conservative alternative.

That is a lot like Trump and his followers, whose attachment to him has become so cultlike that every other Republican leader knows that challenging Trump is potential political suicide. The result: He, too, has no serious predators (I don’t count a waffling Mitch McConnell). This reality, plus Trump’s warped character, made him so reckless that he believed that he could shoot a whole branch of the U.S. government in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue and his base would stick with him. And he was right!

My deer and San Francisco’s school board are local problems. The fact that one of our two national parties would stick with a leader who dispatched a mob to ransack the Capitol in hopes of overturning our last election is an acute national problem — a cancer, in fact. And like any cancer, the required treatment is going to be painful for the patient.

For me, that starts with getting rid of the filibuster in the Senate, granting the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico statehood (they each have more U.S. citizens than Wyoming) and passing a new Voting Rights Act that forbids voter suppression. While that may sound hyperpartisan, it’s the necessary, but not sufficient, remedy for America to regain its political health.” . . .

Frank Bruni | When You Don’t Have Trump to Hide Behind – The New York Times

“In case you hadn’t noticed, the Lincoln Project — an organization as pointedly anti-Trump as any other, its rise and political relevance symbiotically tied to his — is unraveling.

It’s unraveling because one of its founders, John Weaver, was using his position to proposition young men. It’s unraveling because peers of his in the organization apparently sat on complaints about that, too pumped up by their currency as Trump slayers to let accusations against Weaver impede their mission and kill their buzz.

It’s unraveling because it can no longer hide what a financial boondoggle it was for some of its central players, who spoke of principle while lining their pockets. Yes, they made dynamite ads and an eloquent case about Trump’s betrayal of America. Their firms also made money from the hero status that they were accorded by Trump haters the world over.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Frank Bruni for this thoughtful, disturbing column. I was huge fan of of the Lincoln Party, but refused to support them financially, without more information. I reposted their brilliant ads, but surprisingly, there weren’t very many. Apparently my instincts not to send money were OK, but the real reason was that I was tapped out giving to Biden and DSCC et cetera, and many contributions to Individual candidates running to turn the senate blue. But many of the comments here say that the Lincoln Project made a major difference in the outcome of the races. Did they. Please, somebody research and help up all understand, how important were these petty crooks at bringing down Trump and other Trumpsters. We need more information, to safely and correctly figure out the place the Lincoln Project deserves in the last election, which was successful in ridding us of Drumpf the con artist, and liar in chief. The seditionist who impowered Putin, and betrayed our allies the Kurds and rebels of northern Syria. Maybe the Lincoln Project folks deserve all the accolades I just read through in the comments here after Frank Bruni’s thoughtful piece. Maybe they don’t.
David Lindsay Jr is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion about 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Michelle Goldberg | Impeachment’s Over. Bring On the Criminal Investigations. – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“A few hours after the Senate voted in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Saturday, I spoke to the lead impeachment manager, Jamie Raskin. He was crushingly disappointed. Despite Republicans’ indulgence of Trump over the last five years, despite the fact that three Republican senators met with Trump’s lawyers before they presented their defense, Raskin had so much faith in the overwhelming case he and his colleagues brought that, until the end, he held out hope of conviction.

“I’ve always been seen as a rose-colored-glasses guy,” he said. Raskin’s openhearted belief that Senate Republicans maintained a remnant of patriotic solidarity with their fellow citizens is part of what made his presentation so effective; he threw himself into it without fatalism or cynicism.

The House managers forced the Senate to reckon with the scale of the terror Trump unleashed on Congress. “I did see a bunch of the Republicans who voted against us, including Mitch McConnell, crying at different points,” said Raskin. The case was strong enough to win over even two Republican senators, Richard Burr and Bill Cassidy, who’d initially voted against holding the trial at all.

But when it comes to McConnell and his caucus, cynicism always prevails.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Michelle Goldberg. This piece is flawless and sensational. It feels to like the best of your many good pieces, and probably the best. Your opening, about the big uncynical Jamie Raskin, believing he could turn the stone hearted Republicans to do their duty, had me close to tears. The top commenters loved this too. You took my breath away with your indictment and praise of Mitch McConnell: “The senator’s excoriation could have doubled as the House managers’ closing summation. To Raskin and the eight other managers, McConnell’s speech was at once a vindication and an insult, showing that they’d proved their case, and that it didn’t matter. McConnell voted to acquit on a manufactured technicality, arguing that a former president is “constitutionally not eligible for conviction.” His bad faith is awe-inspiring; it was he who refused to move forward with a trial while Trump was still in office. With his split-the-baby solution to Trump’s manifest guilt, McConnell seemed to be trying to stay on the right side of his caucus while calming corporate donors who’ve cut off politicians who supported the insurrectionists. But — and here’s the imprtant part — McConnell signaled openness to Trump’s prosecution in other forums. “He didn’t get away with anything yet — yet,” said McConnell. “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.”
Let the courts go after the con & bully.