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What's driving the narrative? Is it fake news, PR stunts, real legal arguments?

Because T does the all-consuming tweeting, making off-hand stupid remarks, lying, claiming all we see and hear is fake, it has taken us all off our axis to some degree. The head fakes and the sheer amount of disinformation is what is most troubling. Axios takes a look at how much of this can or will affect the downing of this President.

Looking at all the ‘what if’s’ that may eventually bring down this president or not due to a conflicted public, supine R congress or varying degrees of being so confused or not interested in what’s being said or done about T 'n Co’s misdeeds.

And media has a big role in this…and so do the resisters.


In our lifetime, no president has matched Donald Trump’s ability to summon the power of the pulpit, friendly media, and the tweet-by-tweet power of repetition and persuasion to move minds en masse.

The big picture: You see this in the silence of Republican critics; the instant shifts in GOP views of the FBI, Putin and deficits; and the quick, widespread adoption of his branding efforts around “deep state,” “Spygate” and “no collusion.” We hear so much, so often that we become numb to what Trump is doing. This allows big things (such as fundamental shifts in governing norms) to seem like small things or nothing at all.

Why this matters … Trump and allies are floating untested legal arguments: The president can’t obstruct justice, or can unilaterally shut down probes of himself, or can even pardon himself. If you think he won’t try something unprecedented — and maybe get away with it, at least with Republicans — you aren’t paying attention.

A few data points to marinate in:

  • For all the drama, "never before”s and controversy, at 501 days into his presidency, Trump has more party support than any president since World War II except George W. Bush after 9/11. The more Republicans see and hear, the more they agree with him.
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the second ranking Republican in the House and possible next Speaker, on CNN yesterday became the latest GOP leader to claim “no collusion,” despite Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe. The more they hear his terms, the more they repeat them.
  • Michael Hayden, a huge Trump critic who’s a former CIA director and National Security Agency director, tells Kara Swisher in a Recode Decode podcast that Republican support is so unmovable that impeachment, regardless of evidence, would be unwise because it’d be seen as “soft coup.”

A case in point on being numb: Trump’s retaliation against Amazon.

  • He threatened the company behind the scenes, then publicly, while privately pushing U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double Amazon’s package rates.
  • This was quickly forgotten even though it’s highly abnormal for presidents to use their voice and power to pick on one specific public company using misleading data points.

Tim Miller, a Republican and the former spokesman for Jeb Bush, nailed the nothing-is-abnormal-when-everything-is-abnormal phenomenon in a tweet about a piece he wrote for Crooked Media:

  • "Take Romney’s 47% gaffe - or frankly any major political gaffe in history - and dump it into Trumps Nashville speech verbatim. The remark wouldn’t have even made it into the newspaper.”

Then consider this small but telling example of persuasion:

  • No one in the world was thinking about former Illinois Gov. Rob Blagojevich, who’s serving a 14-year sentence for corruption and soliciting bribes. He was a Democrat brought down by Democrats in a Democratic state.
  • Suddenly Trump floated the idea of curtailing his sentence, claiming he was guilty of typical politics, not some huge crime. Again, this was not the view of Democrats or the courts.
  • Then, Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro, a Trump favorite, made her Saturday night show a shockingly safe and sympathetic forum for Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, to kiss up to Trump and paint the president and her husband as victims.
  • The Trump and Fox formula probably means Blagojevich will be freed — and a lot of Republicans will applaud, if recent history holds.

Remember this: Hayden might be right. It is possible that no matter what Mueller finds, no matter how extensive or incriminating, Trump survives.

  • The only indisputable way to remove a president from office is for him to be impeached, then convicted and ousted by a supermajority of the Senate.
  • That means a bunch of Republicans would need to turn on him — and there is scant evidence to date that many, if any, ever would.

The only sure fire way to get Trump out of office in to vote him out. We may never have enough support in Congress to impeach this President. However, if we retake the House and/or the Senate we can use the powers of congress to check and balance his executive powers and appointments. It all comes down to the mid-terms people! This may be the most important mid-term election of our lifetimes. Don’t boo, vote!


According to the DOJ memo from 1974, the president cannot pardon himself.


I think the idea for T 'n Co is to battle these points out in public, to whip his followers into believing he can.

From Axios

This kind of dangling out of what T believes, or what his lawyers spout is the conundrum for us. People get confused as to who to believe (not us I hope) but people who might hang on Giuliani’s every word and thinking he is telling the truth, because they are being conditioned to believe in this Fake News narrative.

I wonder if some really significant indictments come out soon, we will see this narrative come out again…that T can pardon himself, his kids, Manafort, Stone, Cohen…you name it, he can pardon it.

It is the razzle dazzle plan…that I hope that stronger minds prevail, as well as the law. Oh, and yes, voters. Voters will be participating bigly we hope. :slight_smile:


Here’s an example of Republicans laying down for Trump. Kevin McCarthy (CA) R, potentially the next Speaker of the House, saying in many interviews over the weekend, that there is 'No Collusion."

Kevin’s has repeatedly said he doubts that this investigation will find anything, and casts enough doubt for all Republicans to follow with the same narrative. Trump is being subjected to an unending, expensive investigation with No Collusion.

Look, the one thing I have found, this has gone on for more than a year,” McCarthy said about the Russia probe. “Millions of dollars has been spent. The White House has been cooperating all the way through.”

McCarthy continued to question Mueller’s investigation until Bash confronted him for parroting “talking points,” asking him again whether he’s concerned that the White House “lied.”

But McCarthy deflected once again.

“What I was concerned most about, like most Americans, was there any collusion? There was no collusion,” he said,

Some pundits are saying that Kevin McCarthy is short circuiting his chances for being Speaker of the House…but that would be only if Republicans believed in upholding it. :-:fearful:

WIki The Speaker of the House is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives. The office was established in 1789 by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution. The Speaker is the political and parliamentary leader of the House of Representatives, and is simultaneously the House’s presiding officer, de facto leader of the body’s majority party, and the institution’s administrative head.


Let’s not forget Fox News sending out it’s particular brand of messaging. A few months back, there was this discussion.

Seems that Geraldo felt that Nixon would not have resigned had there been a Fox network…telling Hannity said it is time to “unshackle the 45th President.”

Hannity, a vocal defender of President Trump, opened a segment on his radio show with criticism of what he perceives to be anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department probes into Russian meddling in the presidential election.

“Nixon never would have been forced to resign if you existed in your current state back in 1972, ’73, ’74,” Rivera told Hannity on his radio show.

"It’s too bad for Nixon, because nobody like you existed then. I say that because I believe that our prime responsibility now is to unshackle the 45th president of the United States.”


What’s driving the news??

The constant news cycle…in combination with great investigative news gathering; T’s tweets; contradictory statements from a lot of sides (mostly T, SHS, R’s); Fox news; the Putin/Russian agenda for disinformation - see bots, Wikileaks, you name it.

This is an interesting article by David Corn, writer for Mother Jones, formerly of The Nation. He has a book out now Russian Roulette with Michael Isikoff, and does a lot of on-air speaking on MSNBC.

Excerpt from Mother Jones

Then the show moved on. We had spent 15 or so minutes on these important developments, delving into the details—but without referring to the essence of the story. And it hit me: Though it’s clear Trump’s presidency has been hobbled by the Russia scandal, the manner in which this matter plays out in the media has helped Trump.

Almost every day, Trump pushes out a simple (and dishonest) narrative via tweets and public remarks: The Russia investigation is a…well, you know, a witch hunt. Or a hoax. Or fake news. He blasts out the same exclamations daily: Witch hunt, hoax! Hoax, witch hunt! That’s his mantra.

And this bully uses his pulpit (and smartphone) to transmit this simple message nonstop.

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These are important points to keep in front of people, re: the abnormal becomes normal as anti-Trump citizens become so tired of his BS and try to tune him out to try and focus upon what is really important to the individual.

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People, Russia and Mr. Putin are NOT OUR FRIENDS. How can anyone with basic knowledge of the threat the Russian military poses to the US military not be alarmed that people associated with our government met with, took information from and generally considered them allies in conducting a political campaign in the U.S. in an election for any office, much less the Presidency of the U.S.

Right?! I totally agree. The message is getting muddled the more Trump rages about this Investigation. It’s a counter intelligence investigation for crying out loud.! These people were infiltrated by fricking Russian spies! How can conservatives look at this issue and think it’s just a partisan fight over losing an election is beyond me. Vote them all out, they are a risk to national security!

Seriously though that book, Russian Roulette was a great read.

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I’ll have to get the book.

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Here’s part of the narrative - the real legal arguments, which are difficult to decipher, much less consider when thinking about what T has done has been

  1. illegal (attempt to collude with Russians w/ gaining access to DNC hackedc emails, make false testimony about said meetings with Russians and attempting to cover it up.)

  2. Acted out of sheer personal gain - see emoluments clause, and personal gains from T family to profit from foreign countries who patronize Trump properties

  3. Failed to faithfully uphold the laws and institutions of this country - see attempts at destruction of DOJ, Obstructing justice, besmirching heads of FBI, CIA, firing at will those who he feels are acting disfavorably to him. (Comey, McCabe firing), dangling pardons.

  4. Straight up lied about anything and everything…which is confusing in itself. WTF

Here’s a deep analysis of what legal arguments Mueller could be considering, and a bunch of ‘what ifs.’ For all those reasons above (it’s complicated), worth a read to think about how Mueller may construct his most developed legal strategies to nail this administration.

How exactly the obstruction-of-justice statutes interact with the president’s broad powers to supervise the executive branch under Article II of the Constitution is a genuinely difficult question. There is no doubt in my mind that Article II limits to a considerable degree the application of the obstruction statutes to the president when he is acting in his capacity as chief law-enforcement officer of the country.

From T’s lawyer, Rudy Guiliani who always finds some way to create more confusion about the Mueller investigation - suggesting Mueller is “trying very, very hard to frame” Trump. Rudy is speaking in Israeli to a Globes capital market conference. Let’s not forget that T has been very good to the Israelis who definitely have T’s back.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office is “trying very, very hard to frame” President Donald Trump, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said at a conference Wednesday in Israel.

Giuliani said Mueller’s team, tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and allegations that the Trump campaign colluded in those efforts, is composed of “13 highly partisan Democrats … (who) are trying very, very hard to frame him to get him in trouble when he hasn’t done anything wrong.”

The remarks by the former mayor, now a member of the president’s legal team, were made at the Globes capital market conference and reported by The Associated Press.

Trump’s team is making more of what they consider unfair treatment by Mueller, and further attempts to delegitimize his efforts. More muddying of the story from T’s group.

T’s team is now going after FBI over how hundreds of emails from T’s transition team were handed over to Mueller without ‘permission.’ They are going after controversial FBI agent Peter Strzok in particular - remember he’s the one who had sent emails to a romantic interest Lisa Page at FBI saying that T is a terrible choice for president, obviously supporting Hillary.

Late last year, news broke that a federal agency turned over tens of thousands of private emails of Trump transition team officials to the special counsel’s team—without a warrant, and without getting the officials’ permission.

The transition team also charges that the GSA is trying to cover up the involvement of controversial FBI agent Peter Strzok in the allegedly illegal seizure of their emails. A lawyer for the transition team wrote that Strzok “played a larger-than-previously known role in unlawfully seizing our client’s records.”

Now, according to communications reviewed by The Daily Beast, the transition team is fighting back. They are threatening to call for an inspector general’s investigation of the General Services Administration (GSA), which gave the emails to Mueller, and to potentially try to have officials there sanctioned by the D.C. Bar.

@dragonfly9 Your curation is excellent on this thread! I’ve bumped this subject to Curated Threads. You’ve earned it!


Whooo hoooo! Thx! :-:ok_hand:


@matt posted this great article from Columbia Journalism Review article concerning how the news media is standing up for their own stories, against the backdrop of WH (Sarah H Sanders, Trump) and Administration (EPA) denials or denigrations of the media.

The Administration is creating the Fake News moniker as their own watch word as a means to deny stories, self protect and aggressively miscasting journalist stories as false, or name calling.

from CJR

President Trump and his allies have waged an all-out war to discredit serious reporting, and a bit of name-calling is the least of the problem. But by casting the media as “the enemy of the American people,” as Trump put it early in his term, the administration is attempting to ascribe malicious intent to reporters simply trying to get at the truth.


Yesterday’s comment from EPA Spokesperson Jahan Wilcox (CJR excerpt)

When Plott (Elaina Plott-Journalist Atlantic) reached out for comment, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox refused to address the issue, telling Plott, “You have a great day, you’re a piece of trash.

and a comment from Erik Wemple (Washington Post)

from CJR
Wemple writes, “Wilcox is involved in an enormous cue-taking exercise here. He sees President Trump bashing the media, calling it ‘fake news’; he sees White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders scolding the media for alleged bogus reporting; he sees the crowds at rallies roaring for media slams; and he sees little incentive to moderate his vile treatment of reporters. Who’s going to brush him back?”

What this CJR article suggests is that various portals for journalists, whether it is print/online (NYT, Wapo, LAT etc) , online opinion from Reporters (Axios, Politico, Buzzfeed), or Social Media (Facebook, Reddit) should fortify their positions by various means -

  • Getting support from their publishers

Support from the boss: Atlantic Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted Plott’s story, adding, “Always a good day when our reporters get under the skin of classless flacks.”

  • Journalists will continuously go after misinformation that is coming from WH (SHS’s comments about whether Trump dictated the DTJjr note)

Continued evasions: CNN’s Chris Cuomo repeatedly pressed Sanders about her refusal to address her false statement.

  • Facebook may do the following -

it will pay publishers, including ABC News, CNN, Fox News, and Univision to create news programming for its Watch service

What are your thoughts on this ongoing battle for who’s winning the war on truth?? :slight_smile:


How are we seeing this daily upheaval of T news, and his jarring tweets, idiotic statements? Is this becoming normalized…?

Although this New Republic article was written two years ago, it is worth noting that these predictors about T are being incorporated into our thinking. We are shocked, yes, and each day a bit more numb to his insane and more autocratic leadership style.

A lot of pundits today on the Sunday shows are discussing how we, constituents, news groups are being slowly boiled, (parable about the frog who slowly boils to death) because we are not noticing that we’re being chununked/head faked into paying more attention to why the Philadelphia Eagles are being disinvited, or ‘where’s Melania?’ or why does T tweet Fake News all the time? Why, because these diversions work…run people down, create news fatigue.

The complicit GOP, giving him a pass believing T is leading us in the right direction or rather getting them what they want by allowing for deregulation of banks, our environmental protections via EPA have been dismantled, because it serves their financial interests, ie Koch money to pay for big campaigns etc.

Next up will be the dismantling of Obamacare with the mandate gone to make it more difficult to get buy in. But because the health issue is the biggest Democratic rallying point, and mid terms are close, this could boomerang for T.

And there is talk of course that Ryan wants to end Medicare, Social Security…because there is no money for it. With the tax relief (see #boon4TheBillionaires) and tax revenue dwindling, it was always planned to get at these entitlements which in itself is a huge discussion.

All these big ticket items (big votes ahead for entitlements, Mueller investigations and pending elections) are already changing the political and economic landscape affecting how citizens participate with government. With T mostly keyed into his poll numbers, and how he’s doing exclusively with them, it never makes sense to the more liberal voters that T will do anything good for the country. And he’s proven he is only out for himself, oh, and Russia. :-0

A lot to think about, right? Any thoughts?

The insidious psychology of normalizing Donald Trump.

Hua Hsu has written an excellent essay in The New Yorker on the issue that has dominated the political conversation since Trump’s election: the creeping normalization of a president-elect who holds hateful views on race, leans authoritarian, and takes pleasure in demeaning women. Hsu notes the dangers in empathizing too strongly with those white voters, downtrodden or otherwise, who propelled Trump to victory, writing, “[I]n the rush to be radically empathetic, and reckon with another’s disaffection, a different kind of normalization occurs: We validate an identity politics that is often rooted in denying other people’s right to the same.”

This sentiment should suffuse the burgeoning politics of opposition to Trump and what he stands for. As Leon Wieseltier wrote in The Washington Post this weekend, “There is no economic analysis that can extenuate bigotry. The scapegoating of otherness by miserable people cannot be justified by their misery.” Wieseltier goes on to argue that those who oppose Trump should not allow their outrage to cool, since this itself is a kind of normalization that will allow Trumpism to infect the body politic. What Hsu and Wieseltier are both expressing, in their different ways, is a desire not to forget the singular awfulness of Trump and the absurdity of him occupying the Oval Office.

But as Democrats begin the necessary process of trying to win back these disaffected white voters, and as President Donald J. Trump starts to become a fact of life, his normalization, to a certain extent, will be inevitable. “Habit weakens all things,” Proust wrote, describing the ways in which time loosens our connection to what we felt in the past and desensitizes us to the world that takes its place. Proust is describing forgotten sensations of pain and love, but the idea easily applies to feelings of revulsion and anger. The tragic part of Trump being elected is that it happened, and even the most vigilant awareness will not keep it from infiltrating who we are.

And the New Yorker article mentioned above, also two years ago.

Americanness is a sponge, not an ethnicity; normalization is a key part of how it works. It resides in the way that we speak, in the ideas that get refined and reworked and encoded in ordinary words until they seem harmless enough. It’s the ability to fit things into a narrative that flatters our ability to reason. Normalization is the process through which wisdom becomes conventional and utopian ideals slam against questions of feasibility. And so we should remain suspicious of efforts to welcome Trumpism into the fold of mainstream American ideas, particularly when normalizing him suggests the privilege to pick and choose, to infer the existence of another’s decency and humanity, to laugh, and to think that, at the end of the day, we all just want the same thing.

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Disinformation - a planned distribution of polically targetted information which has been created from outside the US - see Russia. Knowing that there is a sophisticated effort to drive wedges between constituents with the use of inflammatory and conspiratorial information.

THIS is not normal. It’s happening before our eyes.

A Russian government adviser who aims to wage an “information war” in the U.S. and Europe is running a new media venture a block from the White House that cybersecurity experts say has ties to the country’s infamous disinformation apparatus.

In April, Russia’s Federal News Agency (FAN) announced the creation of an American outlet called “USA Really.” Its website and accompanying social media pages sprang up in May and quickly began promoting a mid-June rally to be held in front of the White House in protest of “growing political censorship… aimed at discrediting the Russian Federation.”

USA Really publishes content characteristic of Russian social media campaigns in 2016 that aimed to stoke political, cultural, and racial divisions in the U.S. The site and an accompanying page on the publishing platform Live Journal have recently posted on topics ranging from school shootings to gay rights.

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Getting at the Press with accusations that their credentials should be stripped, is certainly an authoritarian tactic, but it is also setting up a Fake News platform. Just accusing the press is enough to heat up the political temperature. I find it shameful.

Jim Sciutto - CNN reporter vrs Brad Parscale - Digital Manager/Trump Campaign.

“Jim @Acosta should immediately have his press credentials suspended. He is an absolute disgrace!” Brad Parscale tweeted in response to an article accusing CNN’s chief White House correspondent of “interrupting” the “historic signing ceremony” between Trump and Kim.

“The media should be cheering @realDonaldTrump’s progress with North Korea. Instead they are trying to downplay and poke holes,” Parscale later added. “Their dislike for President Trump is greater than their love of peace.”