SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom is pulling out all the stops to paint the people trying to recall him as conservative Republicans. He's run ads on Facebook that say the effort is all about "riling up that Trump base." He's emailing donors saying "anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, and notably, some of Trump's biggest donors" are pushing the recall. He's sending supporters bumper stickers that say "Stop the Republican Recall," the official name of his campaign. Although some Democrats and independents do support a recall, Newsom's frame is based in truth — the effort is run and funded mostly by...
New questions raised over Saudi and Emirates' influence over White House after Trump pal arrested: columnist
According to New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, the arrest this past week of billionaire real estate investor Tom Barrack -- who was also one of Donald Trump's biggest backers -- should be raising red flags over how much influence he exerted in the White House during the former president's tenure and whether it is deserving of another Congressional investigation.
Under the proactive headline that asked, "A Foreign Agent in Trump's Inner Circle?" Goldberg wrote that documents included in the arrest of Barrack for allegedly violating foreign lobbying laws seem to indicate that he was promising his Middle Eastern contacts that he push their "agendas" with Trump in office.
As Goldberg wrote, "Barrack's arrest is important. Trump's dealings with the Emirates and Saudi Arabia deserve to be investigated as thoroughly as his administration's relationship with Russia. So far that hasn't happened," with the columnist also noting that Rep. Adam Schiff made a point of telling Robert Mueller, "We did not bother to ask whether financial inducements from any Gulf nations were influencing U.S. policy, since it is outside the four corners of your report, and so we must find out."
According to Goldberg, there is no better time than the present after the Barrack indictment.
Making her case, she wrote, "The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Russian election interference discusses an August 2016 Trump Tower meeting whose attendees included Donald Trump Jr., George Nader, then an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the Emirates' de facto ruler, and Joel Zamel, owner of an Israeli private intelligence company, Psy-Group," before adding, "If the allegations in the Barrack indictment are true, it means that while an adviser to the Emirates was offering the Trump campaign election help, an Emirati agent was also shaping Trump's foreign policy, even inserting the country's preferred language into one of the candidate's speeches. Prosecutors say that Barrack told a high-level figure they call 'Emirati Official 2' that he had staffed the Trump campaign."
Adding Barrack, "... is said to have traveled to the Emirates to strategize with its leadership about what they wanted from the administration during its first 100 days, first six months, first year and first term," Goldberg highlighted, from the report, "...prosecutors say another alleged Emirati agent named Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi — also indicted on Tuesday — texted Barrack: 'Our ppl wants u to help. They were hoping you can officially run the agendas.' According to the indictment, Barrack replied, 'I will!' Later, Barrack reportedly called Alshahhi 'the secret weapon to get Abu Dhabi's plan initiated' by Trump."
"Throughout his presidency, Trump could scarcely have been a more accommodating ally to the Emirates and to Saudi Arabia, whose crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was a protégé of Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. Trump's first foreign trip was to Saudi Arabia," the columnist wrote. "Of Trump's 10 presidential vetoes, five dealt with issues of concern to the Emirates and Saudi Arabia."
"There is no reason to attribute all of Trump's solicitude to Barrack. Trump likes and admires gaudy dictators and has his own financial interests in the Emirates. Barrack introduced Jared Kushner to some of his Gulf associates, but Kushner had his own reasons for pursuing alliances with them, particularly his push to get more Muslim countries to normalize relations with Israel," she added before concluding. "Still, if a member of Trump's inner circle turns out to have been an Emirati agent, that's a big deal. It's a reminder of all we still don't know about what went into the foreign policy of the most corrupt presidency in American history."
You can read the whole piece here.
'FORMER' fan Trump flips out over Cleveland Indians name change: 'The people will not take it anymore!'
Always one to weigh in on any red meat topic, former president Donald Trump took time out from his day to rage at the Major League Baseball's Cleveland franchise for changing the team's mascot from the "Indians" to the "Guardians."
While a little late to the party, Trump issued a statement through spokesperson Liz Harrington to get around his Twitter ban -- which read, in part, "Can anybody believe that the Cleveland Indians, a storied and cherished baseball franchise since taking the name in 1915, are changing their name to the Guardians?" before adding, "Such a disgrace..."
Trump went on to state, "and I guarantee that the people who are most angry about it are the many Indians of our Country," before eventually concluding, "A small group of people, with absolutely crazy ideas and policies, is forcing these changes to destroy our culture and heritage. At some point, the people will not take it anymore!"
You can see his statement below:
It may be hard to remember after the roller coaster of a news cycle we've all been riding for the past few years, but during the 2018 confirmation hearings for Donald Trump's Supreme Court appointee Brett Kavanaugh, Republicans actually bothered trying to create the appearance that they took allegations of sexual assault seriously. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee were clearly concerned about looking like they were being dismissive or rude to the woman who stepped forward to accuse Kavanaugh of attempted rape in high school, Christine Blasey Ford. They were so worried, in fact, that the male-only Republican side of the panel hid behind a female interlocutor, Rachel Mitchell, who was hired to question Blasey Ford for them.
The whole thing was just an act, of course. That was obvious at the time, because the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee, while allowing Blasey Ford to testify, refused to call other potential corroborating witnesses, including a woman who claimed to have had a similar encounter with Kavanaugh in college. But a new report this week underscores the phoniness of Republican claims to take allegations of sexual assault seriously.
The supposed FBI investigation of Kavanaugh that the Trump White House and Senate Republicans ordered — and then used to claim Kavanaugh was exonerated — is looking more sham-like. The newest revelation is that, while the FBI got over 4,500 calls on their tipline about Kavanaugh, the ones deemed relevant were merely passed onto Trump's White House, who almost certainly tossed them in File #13.
"If the FBI was not authorized to or did not follow up on any of the tips that it received from the tip line, it is difficult to understand the point of having a tip line at all," a group of Democratic senators, led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray. Whitehouse followed up with a Twitter thread, making clear how much he believes this "investigation" was a hatchet job:
I charged that the "tip line" was really a tip dump, with all the tips going straight into the dumpster without investigation. In fact it was a tip dump where all the tips went straight to White House Counsel without investigation. Same difference.
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) July 22, 2021
In the months and years after the Kavanaugh hearing, it's become common wisdom on the right that Kavanaugh was done dirty and that the whole situation was proof that the #MeToo movement had gone "too far". But, critically, not because conservative America believed Blasey Ford was lying. It was much more that they didn't care if she was telling the truth. That's why they didn't bother to find out, either way. The grim reality is that, as a general rule, Republicans simply don't think it matters in many cases if a man has a history of sexual abuse. This wasn't a "we don't believe he did it" situation. This was a "who cares if he did it?" situation.
The Potemkin investigation of Kavanaugh's background illustrates this ugly reality. Republicans believed it was politically important to look like they care about sexual assault, so they made a big show of "investigating" it. But they do not actually care about sexual assault and have nothing but contempt for people who do care about the issue. And so it was about propping up an illusion of concern, while not actually doing anything substantive at all.
No surprise, of course. These are the same folks who backed Trump — and not just in 2016 and 2020, either. They are gearing up to put him on the ballot again in 2024. As a reminder, this is a man has not only been accused of sexual assault and abuse by 26 women, but two — his first wife Ivana Trump and journalist E. Jean Carroll — of them told harrowing stories of rape. (Ivana Trump later recanted the word "rape" during the nasty, lawyer-heavy divorce.)
Even for those who refuse to believe women, no matter how many steps forward, the case against Trump is about as ironclad as it gets, due to the completely voluntary taped confession he made to Billy Bush on the set of "Access Hollywood" in 2005. You know the one, of course, where he brags about how he likes to "grab 'em by the pussy" and that, "When you're a star, they let you do it."
The fact of Trump's history of sexual assault isn't really up for debate, but his support has only grown among Republicans in the five years since the "Access Hollywood" tape came out. Most of them don't even pretend to believe it's all a frame job, because again, taped confession/bragging session. They simply don't care. Being a sexual predator does not disqualify men from having positions of incredible political power, in Republican eyes. And the fact that Trump bragged about it is a reminder that some men even see assaulting women as something to be proud of.
The idea that Kavanaugh is the victim of overzealous feminists and opportunist Democrats has less to do with a belief that he's innocent and more about a belief that it shouldn't matter if men do things like this. It's all tied up with the ongoing outrage on the right about "cancel culture" and "wokeness." The anger flows from a conservative sense of entitlement to do and say awful things without having to face any consequences for it. You see a similar dynamic in the fights over what the right falsely describes as "critical race theory." Few deny that the U.S. has a history of slavery, segregation, or lynching. Conservatives just want liberals to quit talking about it, because, ultimately, they don't see why it should matter. And, in fact, they're annoyed that "woke" people keep insisting that these things do matter.
On a similar front, conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly is waging a war to silence Andrea Mackris, who accused him of sexual harassment when they were both working at Fox News and settled out of court in 2004. No one mistakes this as a situation of an innocent man trying to clear his name. This is just one of at least five sexual harassment lawsuits that Fox News settled on O'Reilly's behalf. And legal documents have lengthy transcripts from conversations Mackris apparently taped with O'Reilly.
This fight isn't about the facts. Letting women go on TV to tell their stories of being victimized is signaling that women matter and that sexual abuse is serious, and that, above all other things, is what people like O'Reilly cannot countenance.
It's good that Whitehouse and his fellow Democrats have stayed on this scandal, even as most D.C. power players have moved on. The #MeToo movement was, indeed, a seismic shift in how our country talks about sexual abuse, and a lot of people really did wake up to the fact that it's much more common than they thought. But it's important to remember that, for all that progress, we still have a sizeable number of Americans who flat out do not think most sexual abuse is a serious issue and resent people who say otherwise. Changing that attitude is going to require a lot more than education about the facts.
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