Must Read Op-Ed and Profiles


#221

In just a few paragraphs, this op-ed nails why the bizarre format the Republicans’ chose for today’s hearing was such a disaster for them. We already know it exposed them as cowards for not even having the decency to address their questions directly to Dr. Ford – and this piece lays out additional reasons the Republicans’ “dodgy strategy” of hiding behind outside counsel was doomed from the start.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee came up with a solution to the optics problem of an all-male panel questioning a woman about her sexual assault claims: They hired a woman to do it for them.

But it might have backfired. . . .

The whiplash of going to back and forth from a prosecutor strangely putting someone who has said she was sexually assaulted on trial and a normal Senate hearing is incredibly jarring: not at all what you’d want from a hearing designed to get at the truth of what really happened to Christine Blasey Ford.

This format is a disaster on all levels: moral, legal, and political. And, at heart, it’s Republicans’ fault.


#222

This incisive op-ed by Jennifer Rubin focuses on the substance and delivery of Kavanaugh’s testimony and how it unequivocally demonstrates he is unfit for a seat on the Supreme Court.

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh decided that to have any chance to reach the court, he would have to shed the pretense he was a fair-minded, calm, judicious thinker. He came out in the afternoon filled with venom, screaming at the committee. His life was being ruined, he claimed. This was a Clinton-like smear. His anger was both frightening and unexpected — if you thought he was that intellectual whom conservatives have swooned over. He yelled, and he cried. . . .

Kavanaugh, as of this writing, made a couple major errors.

First, he refused to call for an FBI investigation (even when Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois invited him to ask it of White House counsel Donald McGahn). When Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) questioned about his friend Mark Judge, Kavanaugh slipped and said “you’d have to ask [Judge]”, who of course the Republicans refuse to summon as a witness. The refusal to get the facts is both a telling admission of concern about what they would find and a violation the judicial goal of truth-seeking. It’s a political calculation, exactly what you don’t want to see from a judge.

The worst moment was his confrontation with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) who questioned him about blackout drinking. She explained that she understood alcohol abuse because her father was an alcoholic. Have you ever blacked out? she asked. He sneered in response, “Have you?” It was a moment of singular cruelty and disrespect. One saw a flash in the exchange with Klobuchar of the same sense of entitlement, cruelty and lack of simple decency that Christine Blasey Ford allegedly experienced way back when, the memory seared in her brain of two obnoxious teens laughing at her ordeal.


#223

Agreed…he was belligerant, rude, evasive, self-pitying and weak by acting that way towards her. She showed patience, civility and composure despite his flagrant head strong attitude.

Wow…am so disgusted with him. :rage:


#224

The Washington Post editorial board weighs in on the potential Senate Vote for confirming Judge Kavanaugh. They state that the testimony of Dr. Ford was 100% believable and felt Kavanaugh did not help the matter by impugning that there had been some left wing Pro-Clinton conspiracy to help knock him out. Further Kavanaugh (as well as the R’s) did nothing to advance any further investigation/subpoena’s of Mark Judge, which would provide more unanswered questions.

We await the Committee Vote in the morning with the one possible R holdout Sen Flake. Even if he votes no, to advance this vote to a full Senate vote, McConnell can move ahead and get the Senate to have a vote.

No time for delays is the R’s wish.

The Washington Post wants to delay to avoid the real political railroading, and I believe a terrible Supreme Court choice.

The Post’s View Opinion
The Senate can’t vote on Kavanaugh now

By Editorial Board
September 27 at 7:18 PM

“I BELIEVED he was going to rape me,” Christine Blasey Ford said as she began her Thursday testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, detailing allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. She said she is “100 percent” certain the assailant was Mr. Kavanaugh. Mr. Kavanaugh denied the charges “immediately, categorically and unequivocally,” at times choking back tears.

Predictably, and as a practical matter, this left the Judiciary Committee, the powerful emotions of the day notwithstanding, in about the same place it started. Ms. Ford presented a credible accusation of sexual misconduct from their teenage years. Mr. Kavanaugh offered a forceful denial. The logical next step would be to take the time to see if an investigation can bolster either contention. Yet Republicans on the committee seemed more aggrieved by the Democrats’ delay in forwarding Ms. Ford’s allegation than interested in getting to the bottom of it.

On one secondary but important matter, it was possible to draw a conclusion. Mr. Kavanaugh contended that “this whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election” and an act of “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.”

But he provided no evidence for his angry charge, and certainly Ms. Ford’s testimony did not support conspiracy theories. On the contrary, she explained she tried to relay her allegations to political leaders before Mr. Trump tapped Mr. Kavanaugh, so that the president could consider another judge of equal qualifications, refuting suggestions that she is part of a Democratic plot. She was more than supportive of reopening the FBI background check. “I wish that I could be more helpful, and that others could be more helpful and that we could collaborate to get at more information,” Ms. Ford said.

The inadequacy of the Judiciary Committee’s process was most glaring in the absence of Mark Judge, whom Republicans refused to subpoena. Ms. Ford has said Mr. Judge was in the room when the alleged assault occurred; on Thursday, she provided a few fresh details that almost certainly would have sent professional law enforcement agents in new investigative directions if they had the time and mandate. Mr. Judge has denied knowing of or being present for any assault but has also declined to offer any more information. When Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Mr. Kavanaugh about Mr. Judge’s writing on drunken high school antics, the nominee told the senator, “You’d have to ask him.” “I would like to,” Mr. Leahy responded.

Americans could only watch with sadness. If he is the victim of some terrible case of mistaken identity, Mr. Kavanaugh’s anger is understandable, but his partisan conspiracy-theorizing was hardly becoming of a potential Supreme Court justice. Ms. Ford, whose life and family have been upended, deserved better than the condescension shown by a number of Republican senators and, more to the point, their unwillingness to vet her claims.

In truth, there is still plenty of time. Any deadline has been artificially imposed by the Republican majority for purely partisan reasons, a majority that was happy to leave a Supreme Court chair vacant for most of 2016. As we have said repeatedly, the Senate still has not been given access to all relevant documents, let alone fully checked out Ms. Ford’s allegation.

It would be irresponsible for Republicans to insist on an immediate vote. If they do, the responsible vote must be no.


#225

Excellent MSNBC panel in which Wendy Murphy, a former Federal prosecutor specializing in sex crimes, lays out how Kavanaugh’s testimony would have convicted him in any trial she was prosecuting.

“It wasn’t just his manner and tone and demeanor — which, I prosecuted a lot of sex crimes cases — this would be a guilty verdict based solely on his disrespect for the forum. But then he lied repeatedly about those signals,” she noted. “In those two facts alone, I would find him guilty in a criminal court beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“I don’t think there’s a chance he makes it past this FBI investigation, not a chance,” she predicted.


#226

A Maureen Dowd take down…

Now with an FBI investigation tailor made for finding out the bare minimum, she could be right…just another episode of “entitled white men acting like the new minority, howling about things that are being taken away from them, aggrieved at anything that diminishes them or saps their power.”

Not only because the sexual transgression Blasey was describing was more savage. But also because Kavanaugh simply adapted Clarence Thomas’s playbook of raging against the machine. Thomas’s fury was white-hot. Kavanaugh’s, weepy. But the pitch was the same.

This is a circus,’’ Thomas seethed in 1991.

This is a circus,’’ Kavanaugh seethed on Thursday.

Kavanaugh echoed Thomas’s martyrdom, claiming he was being “destroyed” by partisans conspiring to dig up dirt. He charged that Democrats were conducting a “grotesque and coordinated character assassination” because of their anger about President Trump’s ascent and their desire for revenge after his own seamy work helping Ken Starr in his pervy pursuit of Bill Clinton.

It was a cri de coeur custom-made for the age of Trump — and custom-designed to please Trump himself: entitled white men acting like the new minority, howling about things that are being taken away from them, aggrieved at anything that diminishes them or saps their power.

As The Atlantic noted, Kavanaugh brandished Yale as “a magic wand, something that could be waved to dispel questions of his conduct.”

The nominee whom Ted Cruz defended as “a boring Boy Scout” became a sneering portrait of privilege denied.

When Amy Klobuchar, citing her father’s alcoholism, asked if Kavanaugh had ever blacked out from drinking, he snapped back, “I don’t know — have you?’’

Jeff Flake was so unnerved by the blast of opposition to his decision to vote for Kavanaugh that he led a scheme to get a week’s delay to have the F.B.I. investigate.

So we will finally drag Mark Judge, the man named by Blasey as the third person in the room that night, out of his beachfront hide-out. If the Republicans wanted to discern the character of who they’re putting on the court, rather than simply solidifying the conservative majority, they would already have subpoenaed Judge and anyone else who could provide clarity.

The hope that the F.B.I. will save the day may be misplaced. In the case of Anita Hill, agents were deployed by Republicans to help smear her.

Even if Kavanaugh is confirmed, he already seems warped by this experience — just like Thomas was, when he went onto the bench as a very angry and bitter man.

But at least we have a few more days to pretend to look for the truth.


#227

Portland Press Herald’s Editorial Board is not in favor of Kavanaugh…many, many papers are coming down on him.

Message received Senators.

"But regardless of what questions the investigation can answer, we already know this: Based on what he demonstrated in his own testimony, Kavanaugh lacks the character and judgment to serve on the Supreme Court.

In his widely watched appearance, Kavanaugh revealed that he has an explosive temper and resorts to bullying when he feels threatened. He was understandably under stress and fighting a high-stakes battle for his reputation, but his temperament was tested during the hearing, and he failed the test.

Kavanaugh also showed himself to be impermissibly political for a job that is supposed to be above politics. We’re not naive. We understand that federal judges are nominated by presidents and confirmed by senators, and that electoral politics influences their decisions about who gets to serve."


#228


#229

It has been reported that the FBI does have a very limited scope on what the Kavanaugh character/assault investigation should be, and it seemed very limited. But this keeps changing…Trump said it now should be wide open.

  1. @nytmike

NEW: FBI interview of Mark Judge will include questions about BOTH Swetnick and Blasey allegations.

@KenDilanianNBC

New: A senior U.S. official and another source familiar with the matter tell NBC News that the FBI has received no new instructions from the White House about how to proceed with its weeklong investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.
9:00 AM - 30 Sep 2018


#230

Reporters and the Senate Judiciary Committee, mostly Dems do believe that Kavanaugh is lying. We know that bottom line that if K is lying, then that is disqualifying for a seat on the Supreme Court.

BUT…am now noticing how much selective attention will be paid to K’s testimony, in the name of getting him on the bench as to whether his drinking in HS or college is relevant, or yearbook statements.

Some powerful statements from the Boston Globe on why we can not really trust the man who should hold being truthful to a higher standard.

From Brian Stetler’s CNN Money Newsletter

Was Kavanaugh telling the truth?

Over the weekend, this Boston Globe editorial - Link to Boston Globe Editorial channeled what progressives across the country are saying: “Kavanaugh’s a liar. He lies about little things. He lies about big things. He lies under oath.”

Many Kavanaugh opponents have already concluded that he lied about his yearbook entries, his drinking, etc. So this exchange from “60” is going to get a lot of play on Monday:

PELLEY: If Judge Kavanaugh is shown to have lied to the Committee, nomination’s over?
FLAKE: Oh yes.
COONS: I would think so.

But on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources,” Trumpworld insider Matt Schlapp blunted my Q’s about Kavanaugh’s apparent dishonesty at the hearings. Schlapp dismissed fact-checkers and practically blamed the press for bringing this issue up. On the subject of Kavanaugh’s drinking, he said "I could care less whether or not Supreme Court justices guzzled too much beer. I think we’re in a ridiculous place. We should be talking about his legal jurisprudence."

Editorial

The lies that senators must tell themselves to support Brett Kavanaugh

September 28, 2018

Make no mistake: Brett Kavanaugh’s a liar.

He lies about little things. He lies about big things. He lies under oath.

On Friday, another high-drama day on Capitol Hill, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake said he would not support Kavanaugh’s nomination on the Senate floor unless the FBI did a quick investigation into the sexual assault allegation recently lodged against Kavanaugh. The accusation dates to the early 1980s, when the future federal judge was in high school. Kavanaugh denies the allegations, but a credible accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, described them in riveting testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

If Flake sticks by his demand, it may mean the GOP wouldn’t have the votes to confirm Kavanaugh. With such a razor-thin margin, Republican leadership agreed to allow a week for a new background check Friday afternoon.

Any delay, and any real probe, is welcome. After all, a Supreme Court seat is a lifetime appointment. Investigators should try to track down witnesses who can help determine whether Kavanaugh’s denials hold up to scrutiny. The issue here is as much his honesty in the present as what he may have done in 1982.

At the same time, though, it’s important to keep in mind that whatever any inquiry finds about that one incident won’t change the basic reality: Disqualifying information about the Supreme Court nominee is already hiding in plain sight. In such plain sight, in fact, that it takes a willful blindness not to notice it, a calculated effort to look the other way from blatantly deceptive statements dating back more than a decade and continuing through Thursday.

Whatever investigators finds, here’s some of what senators would need to ignore if they want to convince themselves they’re elevating an honest man to the Supreme Court:

ª In 2004, Kavanaugh said he was not involved in the handling of the controversial nomination of federal Judge William Pryor. That was a lie. E-mails later showed that he was involved.

ª Kavanaugh was asked if he was involved with a scheme to steal Democratic staff e-mails related to judicial confirmations. He lied about it. E-mails showed that he was involved.

ª In 2006, Kavanaugh was asked if he was involved in the controversial nomination of federal Judge Charles Pickering. He lied about that too and said he was not.

ª In 2006, Kavanaugh was asked about his role in the nomination of William Haynes, the Pentagon general counsel involved in creating the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. He lied about that.

Then, on Thursday, under oath and with the nation watching, he made statements so preposterous that senators should view them as an insult to their intelligence.

ª He said the term “devil’s triangle” in his yearbook entry referred to a drinking game. Google it. It doesn’t.

ª He said the word “boof” referred to flatulence. Again, no.

ª Then there was his assertion that his yearbook description of himself as a “Renate Alumnius” was meant only to signify his friendship with Renate Dolphin, a woman who attended another school and socialized with Kavanaugh. Other football players were described as “Renate Alumni.” We know what they intended to insinuate. You know what they meant to insinuate. Everyone knows. Senators may never be able to establish with forensic certainty that Kavanaugh’s entry was intended as a sexual boast, but they’re allowed to use common sense.

Now, some of those might seem like ticky-tack kind of misstatements. But the pattern starts to look overwhelming. As former FBI director James Comey put it on Twitter: “Small lies matter, even about yearbooks.” The standard jury instruction, he noted, says: “If a witness is shown knowingly to have testified falsely about any material matter, you have a right to distrust such witness’ other testimony and you may reject all the testimony of that witness.”

Kavanaugh’s pattern of dishonesty certainly affects how to view Ford’s accusation that he attacked her when both were in high school. She was highly credible as a witness, passed a polygraph, and, unlike Kavanaugh, has no demonstrated pattern of bending the truth.

But put aside that allegation for a moment, serious as it is. Forget about the FBI inquiry. You can believe that a Supreme Court nominee’s conduct in high school doesn’t matter anyway. You can believe that crass material in a yearbook shouldn’t be held against him as an adult. You can even believe that maybe he genuinely doesn’t remember the assault, which Ford says happened when he was very drunk.

Those are all separate questions from whether he’s been honest.

Obviously, if Judge Kavanaugh lied about what happened, that would be disqualifying,” said Susan Collins after Ford’s allegations of sexual assault came to light.

Unfortunately, the only way for senators to convince themselves that Kavanaugh hasn’t already been shown to be a habitual liar is to lie to themselves.


#231

Read with article with caution ‘The suffocation of Democracy’ by Christopher Browning 10.18 NY Review of Books

…I am queesy over the state of our politicians and the common nonsense which allows for them to overlook any longterm consequences for their choices.

’If the US has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell. He stoked the hyperpolarization of American politics to make the Obama presidency as dysfunctional and paralyzed as he possibly could. As with parliamentary gridlock in Weimar, congressional gridlock in the US has diminished respect for democratic norms, allowing McConnell to trample them even more. Nowhere is this vicious circle clearer than in the obliteration of traditional precedents concerning judicial appointments. Systematic obstruction of nominations in Obama’s first term provoked Democrats to scrap the filibuster for all but Supreme Court nominations. Then McConnell’s unprecedented blocking of the Merrick Garland nomination required him in turn to scrap the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations in order to complete the “steal” of Antonin Scalia’s seat and confirm Neil Gorsuch. The extreme politicization of the judicial nomination process is once again on display in the current Kavanaugh hearings.

One can predict that henceforth no significant judicial appointments will be made when the presidency and the Senate are not controlled by the same party. McConnell and our dysfunctional and disrespected Congress have now ensured an increasingly dysfunctional and disrespected judiciary, and the constitutional balance of powers among the three branches of government is in peril.

Whatever secret reservations McConnell and other traditional Republican leaders have about Trump’s character, governing style, and possible criminality, they openly rejoice in the payoff they have received from their alliance with him and his base: huge tax cuts for the wealthy, financial and environmental deregulation, the nominations of two conservative Supreme Court justices (so far) and a host of other conservative judicial appointments, and a significant reduction in government-sponsored health care (though not yet the total abolition of Obamacare they hope for). Like Hitler’s conservative allies, McConnell and the Republicans have prided themselves on the early returns on their investment in Trump. The combination of Trump’s abasement before Putin in Helsinki, the shameful separation of families at the border in complete disregard of US asylum law (to say nothing of basic humanitarian principles and the GOP’s relentless claim to be the defender of “family values”), and most recently Michael Cohen’s implication of Trump in criminal violations of campaign finance laws has not shaken the fealty of the Republican old guard, so there is little indication that even an explosive and incriminating report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller will rupture the alliance.

But the potential impact of the Mueller report does suggest yet another eerie similarity to the interwar period—how the toxic divisions in domestic politics led to the complete inversion of previous political orientations. Both Mussolini and Hitler came to power in no small part because the fascist-conservative alliances on the right faced division and disarray on the left. The Catholic parties (Popolari in Italy, Zentrum in Germany), liberal moderates, Social Democrats, and Communists did not cooperate effectively in defense of democracy. In Germany this reached the absurd extreme of the Communists underestimating the Nazis as a transitory challenge while focusing on the Social Democrats—dubbed “red fascists”—as the true long-term threat to Communist triumph.

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/10/25/suffocation-of-democracy/


#232

I agree with this.

No majority leader wants written on his tombstone that he presided over the end of the Senate,” the minority leader said.

He continued: “Breaking the rules to change the rules is un-American. I just hope the majority leader thinks about his legacy, the future of his party, and, most importantly, the future of our country before he acts.”

Are these the words of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the Republican majority changed Senate rules this week to do away with filibusters of Supreme Court nominations?

Actually, they were uttered in 2013, by then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), when Democrats pushed through a similar filibuster change for lesser nominations.

That McConnell did a 180 on the topic — going from the institutional defender of the filibuster to the man who destroyed it — is unsurprising. He has frequently shifted his views to suit the needs of the moment. But in this case McConnell was correct in 2013, and what he just did this week was even more ruinous than what he accused the Democrats of doing then.

By rights, McConnell’s tombstone should say that he presided over the end of the Senate. And I’d add a second line: “He broke America.No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power.


#233

Thomas Friedman’s Opinion piece in NYT yesterday. Changing world order and the world according to T.

It had been replaced by Trump’s America, which is different in two fundamental ways.

First, Trump’s America does not see itself as the galvanizer and protector of the liberal global order that brought more peace, prosperity and democracy to more corners of the world over the last 70 years than at any time in history — defying the natural order of things, which is constant jungle-like conflict, protectionism and strongman rule.

“Every gardener understands that the forces of nature are always trying to overrun it with vines and weeds — and it is a constant struggle to keep the jungle back,” said Kagan. Same in geopolitics. We are always tending toward tribalism and authoritarianism and great power conflict. That’s the jungle always trying to return. And U.S. values backed by U.S. power have been what prevented that.

So when Trump says that we are just going to look out for ourselves, he shows his ignorance of both history and economics. Trump is pursuing “a great American fantasy,” added Kagan. And it is not a fantasy that we can be “isolationists” and we’ll be O.K. It’s a fantasy that we can be “irresponsible” and we’ll be O.K. The world will be far more threatened by too little American order-making than too much.

It will be springtime for thugs,” Kagan concluded — and the signs of that are now multiplying.
Second, Trump’s America is unafraid to engage in the raw exercise of power against any foe or friend to gain economic or geopolitical advantage — no matter how big or small — and, at the same time, is ready to overlook any human rights abuse or killing by any country deemed friendly to Trump personally or not interesting to him geopolitically.


#234

Farmers in North Dakota are being decimated by Trump’s senseless trade war, yet for the most part, they continue to support him. Go figure.

By 2000, North Dakota farms were producing 60 million bushels of soybeans. Ten years later, the number had jumped to 145 million bushels. In 2014, the level rose to 200 million bushels. As of 2017, two-thirds of the North Dakota soybean crop was going to China.

Under Obama, business was booming for these farmers as they freely traded with China. Then they chose to ignore Trump’s campaign rants against free trade and handed him North Dakota with a 36-point margin. What did they expect?

In some ways, I feel for them, but my empathy is limited by the fact that they walked off the end of the pier with their eyes wide open.

And now Trump is buying their votes in the mid-terms by doling out billions of dollars in government aid that you and I are paying for. :-1:

The federal government has announced up to $12 billion in relief; the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Facilitation Program will pay for half the acreage soybean farmers harvest.


#235

This is a fascinating article along with a companion podcast about the team of cyber-sleuths that tracked down the true identities of the alleged Skripal poisoners. Now they’re pursuing clues in the Khashoggi case. It’s an in-depth piece that doesn’t lend itself to excerpting – so I’ll leave it to you to peruse if you like stories about internet detectives. :female_detective: :male_detective:


What The Fuck Happened Over The Weekend?
#236

Trump is enabling yet another shameful cover up by spreading a preposterous explanation for what happened to Khashoggi: “…it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers.” (WaPo). He’s obviously doing this to start a buzz within his base. When the truth comes out, they will still stubbornly stick to this absurd conspiracy theory.

Trump also tweeted this: “[The Saudis] are working closely with Turkey to find answer. [sic]” This is a backhanded way of claiming the Saudi government is not involved. It’s a tactic Trump has used before – see footnote.

Trump’s cover ups include:

  • His own tax returns which could shed light on possible tax evasion and money laundering.

  • His sexual harassment of and sexual assaults upon multiple women.

  • His campaign committee’s and his own son’s conspiracy with Russians to attack our election process.

  • His extra-marital affairs.

  • His Supreme Court pick’s sordid background, including highly credible allegations of sexual assault along with many acts of perjury.

And this list represents just a small sampling of crimes he’s concealing. The Republicans themselves have compiled a comprehensive list of the President’s cover ups. It’s designed to help them plan damage control if Democrats take the House and commence investigations that Republicans have been obstructing.

Footnote: Trump is returning to the same playbook he used in 2017 when he said that he and Putin discussed setting up a joint task force to find out who attacked our election and help protect future elections. That was as crazy as saying “we’re going to work with those guys seen running from the bank carrying guns and big bags of money to find out who really robbed the bank – we’ve also asked them to help guard the bank to prevent future robberies.” Trump even floated the idea of a joint U.S./Russia cyber-security force again as recently as this July!


#237

If you’d like to understand why the Cherokee and other indigenous Nations are upset by Warren’s DNA test, read this.:point_down:


#238

All the reveals on how beholden T is to foreign strongholds - like Saudi Arabia and to Russia is now something we understand about T. It does not make it easier to accept this behavior in the face of what it could do to our greater National Security and our rule of law. T does it because he can. Power leveraging - take their money, give them breaks.

And why does he like them so much? Because they pay him.

This is not something Trump has been shy about saying. “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million,” he said at a rally in Alabama in 2015. “Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

We should note that it’s more than just apartments. Trump has sold many properties to Saudis, and Saudis have invested in Trump projects. And as David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell report:

Business from Saudi-connected customers continued to be important after Trump won the presidency. Saudi lobbyists spent $270,000 last year to reserve rooms at Trump’s hotel in Washington. Just this year, Trump’s hotels in New York and Chicago reported significant upticks in bookings from Saudi visitors.

This is precisely the reason the framers of the Constitution added a provision saying that neither the president nor other officials could “accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” If a foreign country is putting money in the president’s pocket on an ongoing basis, how in the world can we trust that the decisions he makes will be based on the best interests of the United States and not on his bank account?


#239

Why do we give a hall pass to T to deny the mounting evidence that Khashoggi’s death was a coordinated hit job by MBS?

The Saudi Cover-Up Crumbles

Evidence mounts of a ghastly crime in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. President Trump still seems inclined to buy the kingdom’s lame denials.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

The Saudis have reportedly been searching for a cover story for the disappearance of the gadfly Saudi journalist, who had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States and writing columns for The Washington Post. Denial is no longer an option — Turkey appears to have pretty solid evidence that Mr. Khashoggi was killed by thugs flown in from Saudi Arabia — so the word in Washington is that the Saudis will try to claim an attempted kidnapping or interrogation gone bad.

On Monday, when Turkey had already leaked considerable evidence of a hit, Mr. Trump was behaving like a royal apologist. “Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen,’” he wrote on Twitter. A bit later he told reporters, “The denial was very, very strong,” adding: “It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?”

Actually, he probably does, if American spy agencies are doing their job. But evidence of big-time malfeasance has not prevented Mr. Trump from admiring the likes of Vladimir Putin of Russia, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt or Kim Jong-un of North Korea (“we fell in love”).


#240

And let’s not forget that Trump hired Paul Manafort as his Campaign Chairman, a man who was well known as a card carrying member of the "Torturers’ Lobby."