Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
It isn’t unusual for denizens of the fever swamps to predict that a sitting president will refuse to leave office if defeated. We heard murmurs to that effect in the latter days of both George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s presidencies. But those concerns have been voiced by more serious people since Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former fixer, told Congress that he personeally feared “that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” Trump, who contested the results of an election that he won and is already teeing up claims of fraud should he lose next year, has done nothing to allay such fears.
After bashing the media, Trump “jokes” about serving more than 2 terms in office. Funny how that seems to be a recurring topic for him these days. pic.twitter.com/IBtGuMkGcI
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 9, 2019
Wisconsin Republicans—in the state’s legislature and on its highest court—offered a hint about how it might go down if the election is close and Trump loses a close race in a red state or two. You’ll recall that when Republican Scott Walker lost his gubernatorial race last year, his colleagues in the legislature rushed a series of bills through the lameduck session that stripped some of his Democratic successor’s powers. The laws had been ruled unconstitutional by a circuit court judge earlier this year but this week, on a 4-3 vote, the state Supreme Court’s conservative majority upheld the laws. One of the liberal justices wrote in her dissent that the Legislature had “violated the plain constitutional text, and this court must act as a check.” They did not.
So let’s say Donald Trump loses by a handful of Electoral College votes. States select the electors who actually choose the president, and there’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that requires them to do so based on the popular vote. So if Trump claims that millions of zombies or undocumented immigrants tilted the results, a Republican-run state where he lost the popular vote could say that because the results of the popular vote are in dispute they will assign electors to vote for Donald Trump.
There would obviously be outrage and angry protests across the country but the conservative media would effectively muddy the waters around what was happening, Republican politicians in and out of Congress would almost certainly continue their obsequious idolatry of Trump, the mainstream press would cover it as a controversial “Constitutional crisis” and the matter would ultimately end up before the Supreme Court, where a particularly shameless conservative majority indebted to this president* would be likely to sign off on the power grab.
Most authoritarian leaders are first elected in legitimate contests and then manipulate the system to remain in power. Trump has already politicized the courts and the Justice Department, among other federal agencies, and Republicans are going to pull out all the stops to suppress the Democratic vote next year.
This isn’t a likely scenario, especially if the margin isn’t close, but it’s not one that can be dismissed.
And with that sunny thought, we move onto this week’s roundup.
Rolling Stone got its hands on a previously unreported membership list for the Trump Leadership Counsel, a group of corporate honchos that Trump put together before the election and which has been pushing his extreme anti-regulatory agenda hard behind the scenes. The piece quotes Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, saying, “With Trump, we’ve had a corporate takeover of government with no parallel in American history… the seeds were planted early on in the campaign.”
“At one point, [EPA chief Andrew Wheeler] even quoted the chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp. arguing that renewable energy is insufficient to deliver reliable electricity.”@AlexCKaufman with the details.https://t.co/t9X2QaDOnw
— Chris D’Angelo (@c_m_dangelo) June 19, 2019
Again, we are left to wonder if these people think their own children will be immune to the catastrophe they seem intent on bringing about.
Donald Trump pocketed $41 million from his gaudy DC hotel last year as lobbyists and foreign dignitaries and Republican organizations paid exorbitant rates to curry favor with the Trump Crime Family (Ivanka also took in $4 million from the hotel).
In two weeks, Trump will channel Kim Jong Un and celebrate a very partisan, taxpayer funded July 4th celebration with military fly-bysm, a
campaign rally presidential speech and a big parade, and he’s going to make a small fortune off of it.
Rooms were sold out for July 3 and July 4 by mid-June, according to the Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, an advocacy group that targets government corruption. Rooms for July 5 were still available Thursday from $964 a night to $4,200 a night for a “premier one-bedroom suite.” [via: Huffington Post]ADVERTISEMENT
Experts, including some within the regime, say that cutting aid to the Northern Triangle will only hurt those countries’ economies, worsen their security situation and cause more refugees to flee toward the US border.
NEW: The State Department announced Monday afternoon that it is cutting off any further aid to Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador until they take “concrete actions to reduce the number of illegal migrants coming to the U.S. border.” https://t.co/FIQ2ncIYjG
— Axios (@axios) June 17, 2019
The caravans that will result are part of Trump’s re-election campaign. It didn’t work in 2018.
Republicans are giving this guy a lifetime appointment as a federal judge. He’s 42.
Lots of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees have records of opposing LGBTQ rights and abortion rights; indeed, it is essentially a requirement at this point. But [Matthew] Kacsmaryk, the deputy general counsel for First Liberty Institute, a right-wing Christian advocacy group, has drawn particular criticism for his extreme views on both fronts.ADVERTISEMENT
He has fought against protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing and health care. He has called including protections for LGBTQ people in the Violence Against Women Act “a grave mistake.” In 2015, when Utah passed nondiscrimination protections, Kacsmaryk called the law ”a bad idea” because it suggests that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be taken as seriously as other forms of discrimination. He signed on to a 2016 letter that called being transgender “a delusion.
Last week, we mentioned that the senior leadership in Trump’s Labor Department had effectively barricaded themselves in their executive suite and freezed out the agency’s career employees.
This is the kind of thing they’re doing largely out of sight of the American public.
In yet another anti-union move, Trump’s NLRB rules that companies can prohibit union organizers from company-owned public spaces that are open to others in the public–all while employers can campaign 24/7 against the union. https://t.co/oHl67BIpNu
— Steven Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt) June 22, 2019
Reuters reports that the regime continues to whitewash the crimes of their Saudi benefactors.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blocked the inclusion of Saudi Arabia on a U.S. list of countries that recruit child soldiers, dismissing his experts’ findings that a Saudi-led coalition has been using under-age fighters in Yemen’s civil war
TPM reports that as part of his goofy trade war, “Trump is threatening to withdraw from the international body that oversees global mail delivery, putting at risk the stability and reliability of the current system of sending and receiving mail internationally.” Tierney Sneed points out that this could impact the overseas vote, and may effectively disenfranchise some Americans living abroad.
In one year Tariffs have rebuilt our Steel Industry – it is booming! We placed a 25% Tariff on “dumped” steel from China & other countries, and we now have a big and growing industry. We had to save Steel for our defense and auto industries, both of which are coming back strong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2019
U.S. Steel announced it will temporarily halt production at two domestic plants despite the boost from the Trump administration’s tariffs, as a steel industry singled out for federal support shows signs of weakening.
On Tuesday, U.S. Steel said it would temporarily halt operations at a blast furnace near Detroit as well as one in Gary, Ind., on the shore of Lake Michigan. U.S. Steel will be idling a third plant in Europe, the company said…
The moves come amid broader concerns about a slowdown in the steel industry, which threatens to derail a key economic priority of the Trump administration. Despite initially surging under the tariffs, steel prices have fallen dramatically amid weakening demand from key consumers, including the auto, energy and agricultural industries…
Having become bored with Venezuela and (thus far) fucked up his contrived war with Iran, Trump’s going back to his favorite distraction, with ICE conducting a series of high-profile immigration roundups in a number of cities this weekend.
Meanwhile, the regime was in court this week arguing that they shouldn’t be forced to comply with an earlier settlement requiring that immigrants and asylum-seekers locked up in their concentration camps have to be held in “safe and sanitary” conditions.
“Children as young as 7 & 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot & tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met … Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.”https://t.co/wgyFZZJmeA
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 22, 2019
Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that the regime “is canceling English classes, recreational programs and legal aid for unaccompanied minors staying in federal migrant shelters nationwide.”
Some people pretend to be offended by calling them concentration camps…
Four toddlers were so severely ill and neglected at a U.S. Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas, that lawyers forced the government to hospitalize them last week.
The children, all under age 3 with teenage mothers or guardians, were feverish, coughing, vomiting and had diarrhea, immigration attorneys told HuffPost on Friday. Some of the toddlers and infants were refusing to eat or drink. One 2-year-old’s eyes were rolled back in her head, and she was “completely unresponsive” and limp…
The lawyers feared that if they had not shown up at the facility, the sick kids would have received zero medical attention and potentially died.
Recent deaths of multiple ICE detainees were preventable, according to internal agency documents I obtained for @tytinvestigates.
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) June 3, 2019
These serious human rights violations should be a central part of the debate over impeachment.
We’ll leave you with some good news this week. The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Virginia Republicans of a lower court ruling that their state district map was blatantly drawn to limit African Americans’ voting power, which means that a new and fairer map can be used in 2019. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has more on that.
And we will see where this goes…
The House just passed a nearly $1 trillion appropriations bill that includes 11 very crucial lines: A repeal of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.
This is the first time a repeal of the 2001 AUMF has passed the House. Almost 18 years after it was enacted.
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) June 19, 2019
GOPer Joni Ernst booed and peppered with questions about guns at tense Iowa town hall
In videos uploaded to Twitter, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) received a chorus of boos and shouts from a town hall crowd after she tried to blame mass shootings on mental health issues, with one person shouting, "Do something!"
According to a report from Iowa Starting Line, the embattled Iowa Senator whose approval numbers have dropped, due in part to President Donald Trump, was pressed by one local teacher about changing gun laws so she can get back to the job she was hired for.
Trump furious with Steve King for crippling his re-election chances in Iowa: CNN’s April Ryan
Sitting in with CNN's Victor Blackwell on Sunday morning, contributor April Ryan relayed that Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is in big trouble not only with his party over his latest comments about rape and incest, but that Donald Trump is aggravated with him too because he may impact the president's chances in Iowa in the 2020 election.
With King reeling from the fallout from his own comments made during an appearance earlier in the week, Ryan said that his days may be numbered because senior Republicans want him gone too.
Sanders vows to ‘go to war with white nationalism and racism in every aspect of our lives’
Speaking to the Black Church PAC Presidential Forum in Atlanta two weeks after a gunman opened fire in an El Paso Walmart with the goal of killing Mexicans, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday said his administration will "go to war against white nationalism and racism" if he is elected president in 2020.
"I'm Jewish, my family came from Poland, my father's whole family was wiped out by Hitler and his white nationalism," said Sanders. "Too many people have fought over the years, too many people have died against racism to allow it to resurface and flourish in America. We will go to war against white nationalism and racism in every aspect of our lives."