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
Bernie Sanders’ staff demand to be payed the $15-an-hour minimum wage he advocates: report
Campaign workers working for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are demanding an increase in pay consistent with the senator's campaign rhetoric, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
"Unionized campaign organizers working for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential effort are battling with its management, arguing that the compensation and treatment they are receiving does not meet the standards Sanders espouses in his rhetoric, according to internal communications," the newspaper reported.
Here is why Nancy Pelosi allowed a House impeachment vote
Admitting that he isn't privy to insider knowledge from the Democratic leadership, Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Bernstein suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be playing a much longer game on the possibility of impeachment hearings on Donald Trump than her detractors believe.
Wondering, "Is Nancy Pelosi closer to impeachment?' Bernstein writes, "Usually, when a regular bill or resolution has been introduced, it’s then referred to committee. If the majority party doesn’t want to consider the bill, it will die with no further action. Under House rules, however, any member can force an impeachment resolution onto the floor as pending business. That’s what [Rep. Al] Green (D-TX) did Wednesday."
White House aides fear Trump believes House vote against impeachment means it’s never going to happen: report
A proposal to start impeachment hearings that failed in the House on Wednesday led Donald Trump to optimistically proclaim that his presidency is safe at his North Carolina rally last night. But his proclamation has some White House officials worried the president really believes he is out of the woods.
According to a report at Politico, close aides to the president worry that his comment that "we have all this [impeachment] behind us," may be based on an unfounded notion by Trump about how Congress works.
Speaking at his campaign rally in Greenville, N.C., Trump boasted to the crowd, "I just heard that the United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted to kill the most ridiculous project I’ve ever been involved in: the resolution -- how stupid is that -- on impeachment. I want to thank those Democrats because many of them voted for us, the vote was a totally lopsided 332-95-1.”