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Trump aides claim he’s ‘joking’ about ordering them to break laws — but what if they obey anyway?

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President Donald J. Trump salutes U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael L. Howard. (DoD Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

Administration officials often try to explain away President Donald Trump’s most egregious statements and requests, but a former U.S. Attorney said that’s not enough.

The president reportedly told aides he would pardon them if they broke any laws to get his long-promised wall built, and former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, writing for The Daily Beast, said their excuses for Trump were unsatisfactory.

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“An anonymous White House source did not deny the reporting, instead explaining that Trump is joking when he makes such statements,” McQuade wrote, adding dryly: “Hilarious.”

Those supposed jokes fit a pattern Trump employed during his presidential campaign, when he “joked” about asking Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, and at various points during his presidency.

“It has been said that we should learn to take Trump seriously but not literally,” McQuade said. “But Trump is no longer just the loudmouth at the country club, spouting off about current events to hangers-on. What might have passed as edgy, off-the-cuff humor from a political candidate is something else entirely when it comes from the commander-in-chief.”

“Words have consequences,” she added, “and when words constitute orders from the nation’s top government officer, it is reasonable to expect that those words will be obeyed.”

McQuade pointed out that federal law considers words to be criminal actions under solicitation and conspiracy statutes, although Trump’s experience with special counsel Robert Mueller show he’s essentially above the law as president — despite strong evidence that he has dangled pardons for corrupt purposes.

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“If Trump’s promise of pardons was just a joke, it wasn’t very funny,” she wrote. “And there is a danger that aides will take Trump’s commands literally and obey them. If so, will Trump’s contribution to the canon of presidential lies be the ‘just joking’ defense, a new way to falsely claim plausible deniability?”


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2020 Election

West Virginia voter: ‘I’ll probably vote for Donald Trump’ because ‘he keeps the people to the TV set’

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A group of West Virginia voters explained their voting choices to MSNBC on Monday.

"I don't have TV, I don't have internet," one woman said. "I'm pretty far behind. And I bet you a lot of around here are because we're poor. I don't know nothing about Joe [Biden]. I ain't never heard nothing about him at all. Donald Trump, I know a little bit about him because of the past couple of years."

"I'll probably vote for Donald Trump," Jeff Kibbey told MSNBC. "He keeps the people to the TV set."

"One, Trump is good," Francis Senter insisted. "Biden -- however you pronounce his name -- is good too. But like I say, I can't judge either one of them. It's the same community it ain't never going to change because if it was going to change it wouldn't look like this right here."

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2020 Election

White nationalist group ‘training for violence’ as Trump’s defeat grows likelier: report

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On Tuesday, BuzzFeed News reported that Patriot Front, a white supremacist group formed from the collapse of groups that participated in the Charlottesville neo-Nazi riots, is preparing for civil unrest as they believe President Donald Trump's re-election is a lost cause.

"BuzzFeed News has received a cache of hundreds of messages exchanged by Patriot Front members on Rocket.Chat, an encrypted group messaging app," reported Jane Lytvynenko. "In logs of the chats, all from this year, around 280 members of the group discuss grandiose goals — creating a white ethnostate from the existing United States. The group wants to expel immigrants, people of color, and Jews, remaking the fabric of America."

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2020 Election

Clinical psychologist predicts what life after Trump will be like — and how the president will respond if he loses

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Clinical psychologist Dr. Alan Blotcky, Ph.D. spoke to Raw Story Tuesday to walk through what he thinks voters will see from President Donald Trump in the upcoming week ahead of the election.

While Dr. Blotcky isn't part of the "Duty To Warn" movement, he does support it and he explained how mental health experts have been able to diagnose the president without ever having him sit in their offices.

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