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Trump’s ‘revenge bender’ of perceived enemies was enabled by the GOP’s ‘willful blindness’: CNN’s Avlon

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On Thursday, CNN fact-checker John Avlon explored all the ways President Donald Trump has vilified and demonized not just political opponents, but career public officials and even members of his own party.

“Once upon a time, Sen. Lamar Alexander was really worried about enemies lists,” said Avlon, playing a clip of him saying, “I want to make what I hope will be a friendly suggestion to President Obama in his White House, and it is this: Don’t create an enemies list.”

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“That was good advice, rooted as an experience working for Richard Nixon, but seems kind of quaint in hindsight,” said Avlon. “Because now we’ve got something to work with. President Trump is on a revenge bender, one week after his impeachment trial acquittal with no witnesses that Sen. Alexander helped secure.”

“Hoping that Trump would be chastened was willful blindness, because Donald Trump loves obsessing over his enemies,” said Avlon. “In his book ‘Team of Vipers,’ former Trump aide Cliff Sims captured the president’s early purges. Quote, ‘Give me their names,’ he said Trump said. ‘I want these people out of here. We’re going to get rid of all these snakes, even the bottom feeders…’ Sounds like a stable work environment, right? Well, Trump talks a big game about loyalty, but it’s always been a one-way street.”

“So let’s take a look at some of the people who’ve been in his crosshairs lately,” said Avlon. “Chief among these are some of the usual suspects. Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, Mitt Romney, and of course even his former national security adviser John Bolton. But then some of his biggest enemies were his biggest boosters. Like one-time fixer Michael Cohen, first senator who ever endorsed him and AG Jeff Sessions, chief strategist and frenemy Steve Bannon, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Sec. Jim Mattis. He even rails against current appointees, like Fed Chair Jerome Powell.”

“But for a guy who campaigned as a law-and-order candidate, Trump also loves targeting law enforcement and the intelligence communities,” continued Avlon. “Like fired FBI Director Jim Comey, Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan, former DNI Jim Clapper, the FBI’s Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, the Justice Department’s Sally Yates. And of course Robert Mueller. It’s no secret that Trump can’t quit hating on Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden. They’re in the top tier of his negative Twitter mentions according to Factbase. But it’s not like Republicans have been spared his wrath, like former Sens. Jeff Flake and Dean Heller, both replaced by Democrats incidentally, former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, now-independent Congressman Justin Amash. The past three GOP nominees, including John McCain.”

“Now, some former Trump critics like Lindsey Graham have worked their way into Trump’s good graces by doggedly defending the president,” said Avlon.”But taking a gander at this list is exhausting. Evidence that Trump targets anyone who dares question him, from the right or left. And that’s why it’s strange that so many Republican senators live in fear of the president, and try so hard to appease him.”

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“Winston Churchill famously defined an appeaser as ‘one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last,’ said Avlon. “Which is why another public servant, former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, deserves the last word, from a speech she gave last night. ‘An amoral, keep-’em-guessing foreign policy that substitutes threats, fear, and confusion for trust cannot work over the long haul,’ she said. ‘Truth matters.’ And that’s your reality check.”

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Saint Paul police chief condemns tactics used on George Floyd: ‘We’re here to serve — not choke people!’

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Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell told CNN's Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow on Thursday that he's showing his officers footage from George Floyd's death as an example of how not to handle a suspect.

In particular, Axtell told the CNN hosts that all of the officers in his department said that the actions of the officers in Minneapolis to Floyd were completely unacceptable.

"Every police officer that I know that I interacted with yesterday in the city of Saint Paul, there was not one who felt that what they observed on that video in Minneapolis was in any way, shape, or form acceptable police behavior," he said. "It is disgusting, it is dehumanizing, it is something that absolutely has to stop."

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‘Don’t be a sucker’: CNN’s Cuomo begs viewers not to let Trump’s antics distract from the horror of COVID deaths

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On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," Chris Cuomo warned viewers not to be taken in by President Donald Trump's distraction tactics — and instead focus on the loss of human life from the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's a sad night. I don't know any other way to put it," said Cuomo. "I don't even like that the music's playing, to be honest. It's just three months. We've lost a hundred thousand lives. Do you need band music to tell you it's something urgent?"

"We were told this pandemic would magically disappear without any real trouble. A couple dozen cases," said Cuomo. "Today, did you hear what our president, Donald John Trump, said to calm and reassure our nerves, that we will do everything we can to keep us safe as we reopen and that he will make it his life's focus because that what a president does? Did you hear him say that? Me either. Not a damn word from Trump as this country is just struggling to get our heads and our hearts, let alone our hands around processing such loss so quickly. Suddenly he is now at a loss. Not even a tweet."

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‘There needs to be a prosecution’ of cop who killed George Floyd: CNN guest says ‘call it what it is’

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On CNN Wednesday, criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson walked through why the Minneapolis police officer responsible for George Floyd's suffocation death must be prosecuted.

"Bottom line, question here from looking at this, should the officer face charges?" asked host Erin Burnett.

"Erin, I don't think there is any question about that, and I think if you look at it, under any reasonable measure there needs to be a prosecution," said Jackson. "You know, when you look at issues of excessive force — and I know this comes with a lot of emotion, and it should because of the blatant nature of what occurred. But if you even look at it legally and forget about the emotion, you look and you see, was there an imminent fear that the officer was facing when he had his knee in the neck of Mr. Floyd? And the answer is resoundingly no. You look at the force he used, that is the officer, and you say is it proportionate to whatever threat was posed? The answer is no, you don't see any threat. You see a person detained and really not resisting at all."

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