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Trump Barrels Down a Road of No Return

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The Wall Street Journal editorial page, hardly a left-wing Donald Trump critic, called on the president to adopt a new strategy on the Russia probe: "Radical transparency."

Specifically, Trump, family members, campaign operatives and business associates should release anything pertinent to the investigation, any meeting with Russians or Americans with Russia ties and "every Trump business relationship with Russians going back years." This information includes his tax returns. 

It's sound advice. There's no way Trump will take it. He has stuff he wants to hide. More likely, he'll try to fire the special counsel investigating him and pardon his family and himself. 

The Washington scandal cliches -- it's always better to get everything out or the cover-up is always worse than the crime -- are inoperative if you're covering up bad deeds. 

There is probable cause to believe the Trump team colluded with Russian interference in the American election; whether that can be traced to Trump is supposed to be up to special counsel Robert Mueller. There is little doubt that the president had much deeper financial ties to Russians than he acknowledges. Determining whether that is illicit is also part of Mueller's charge.

Continuously, Trump's desperation raises more questions about his culpability. The latest evidence is in the New York Times interview where he lashed out at his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself from the Russia investigation due to a conflict of interest, and at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller. He also took further shots at James Comey, the former FBI director. The president tried to intimidate Mueller, warning him to stay away from looking into his or his family's business interests.

Trump is obsessed with Sessions and Rosenstein, not because of any policy or practices but because of the Russia probe. The president fired Comey not based on his stewardship of the FBI, but because he was digging too deep into the Russian connections; and he's obsessed with obstructing any serious Mueller investigation.

This is why it's not crazy conjecture that a president who doesn't think the rules and laws apply to him would try to replace the attorney general with somebody not recused from the Russia probe. The chatter is that Texas Senator John Cornyn, a Trump champion, may be that somebody, with the calculation being that the Senate usually confirms one of its own. The ultimate goal would be to rein in Mueller. Or Trump himself might try to fire the special counsel.

This would produce a firestorm the likes of which Washington hasn't seen in decades. But Trump might well rationalize that such a risk isn't nearly as troubling as what a thorough investigation might uncover.

People in contact with the White House said one Mueller move that spooked them was hiring Andrew Weissmann, a tough financial-fraud expert who has prosecuted the mob and Enron. He and another expert on money laundering are looking into the Trump financial links with Russians and whether that gives Moscow any leverage over the president.

The breadth of Mueller's mandate is set by the president's Justice Department. So it's fraudulent to claim that the special counsel would be crossing a red line by investigating the family's business practices.

If a special prosecutor runs across a crime, he has a duty to act. During Watergate, President Richard Nixon unsuccessfully sought to limit the scope of the investigation. The initial inquiry was into a burglary at the office of the Democratic National Committee. From that, separate illegal acts were uncovered, such as a break-in of the office of a psychiatrist of Nixon adversary Daniel Ellsberg, and the abuse of power by government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.

Of course, the special counsel will delve deeply into any financial links to Russia -- he has access to all Trump's tax returns and bank records -- as well as into the possibility of collusion during the campaign. It was only several weeks ago, remember, that some Washington insiders dismissed the notion of any such coordination with the Russians.

This changed when it was revealed that the president's son, son-in-law and campaign manager secretly met with Russians who were promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Intelligence experts say the emails that came out about the meeting strongly suggest that it wasn't an initial contact, and that the Russian pattern would be to follow up. 

Trump critics are already preparing for any radical moves by the president, drawing up legal, political and national protest plans. Pressure would be intense on Congress to counter any move by Trump. 

How would Republicans react? Would there be Cabinet or White House resignations? Would the new FBI director, who has endorsed Mueller's investigation, stay?

Important congressional Republicans, including House conservatives such as Trey Gowdy and Speaker Paul Ryan and senators such as Charles Grassley, Rob Portman and Marco Rubio, have all expressed have expressed support for Mueller.

It's one of the many reasons to cheer for the return of John McCain, stricken with brain cancer. The fearless Arizona Republican is outraged at the Russians' actions and determined to get to the bottom of it all. His toughness might strengthen the resolve of other Republicans in what may be a looming crisis.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Albert R. Hunt at ahunt1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Katy Roberts at kroberts29@bloomberg.net

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mikenova
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Trump 'crime family' being revealed - Fairfield Daily Republic

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Fairfield Daily Republic

Trump 'crime family' being revealed
Fairfield Daily Republic
But, love him or loathe him, Trump remains president and will continue to do so unless and until Congress, the courts or the electorate decide otherwise. The question is, how much more damage will he do to America and the world in the meantime, and at ...

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Trump ‘crime family’ being revealed

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In the face of mounting evidence revealing corrupt and potentially impeachable behaviors in office, it is very difficult to give President Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt.

There are simply too many “dots” that connect Trump to obstruction of justice, the Russian election conspiracy and numerous violations of the emoluments clause. Moreover, his erratic and blatantly opportunistic political machinations and stunning lack of knowledge about the details of domestic and foreign policy are by themselves evidence of gross ineptitude and nefarious motivations.

With that said, Trump still remains “innocent” until judged “guilty” of an impeachable offense by Congress or by a court of law. As distasteful as Trump’s behaviors are, he is entitled to the same presumption of innocence as any American citizen. This is a fundamental right under our constitutional system of government. Ironically, Trump is protected by the very Constitution that he so frequently disparages.

Nevertheless, it is very hard to remain objective when considering Trump’s culpability relating to his multiple legal challenges. The problem is, Trump’s chronic bullying, blustering, lying, authoritarian and vindictive leadership style (and other personal indiscretions) cast a dark shadow of suspicion over his “alleged” presidential misconduct.

In addition, his historically sexist and xenophobic prejudices and thinly veiled racial animus are abhorrent and indelible components of his personal code of conduct. Simply put, Trump has lost so much personal and professional credibility that many citizens understandably operate under the presumption that Trump is already guilty of gross misconduct in office (except perhaps, Trump’s steadfast “base” of support consisting largely of blue collar, evangelical and undereducated Americans who are impervious to the compounding body of evidence pointing to Trump’s misconduct).

But, love him or loathe him, Trump remains president and will continue to do so unless and until Congress, the courts or the electorate decide otherwise. The question is, how much more damage will he do to America and the world in the meantime, and at what cost?

Steve Davis

Fairfield

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Is Trump bad news for Putin?

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  • The Mystery of Why Japanese People Are Having So Few Babies

    Many point to unromantic 20-somethings and women’s entry into the workforce, but an overlooked factor is the trouble young men have in finding steady, well-paid jobs.

    TOKYO—Japan’s population is shrinking. For the first time since the government started keeping track more than a century ago, there were fewer than 1 million births last year, as the country’s population fell by more than 300,000 people. The blame has long been put on Japan’s young people, who are accused of not having enough sex, and on women, who, the narrative goes, put their careers before thoughts of getting married and having a family.

    But there’s another, simpler explanation for the country’s low birth rate, one that has implications for the U.S.: Japan’s birth rate may be falling because there are fewer good opportunities for young people, and especially men, in the country’s economy. In a country where men are still widely expected to be breadwinners and support families, a lack of good jobs may be creating a class of men who don’t marry and have children because they—and their potential partners—know they can’t afford to.

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  • How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology

    Biology textbooks tell us that lichens are alliances between two organisms—a fungus and an alga. They are wrong.

    In 1995, if you had told Toby Spribille that he’d eventually overthrow a scientific idea that’s been the stuff of textbooks for 150 years, he would have laughed at you. Back then, his life seemed constrained to a very different path. He was raised in a Montana trailer park, and home-schooled by what he now describes as a “fundamentalist cult.” At a young age, he fell in love with science, but had no way of feeding that love. He longed to break away from his roots and get a proper education.

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  • Donald Trump's Defenders on the Left

    Why some progressives are minimizing Russia’s election meddling

    When it comes to possible collusion with Russia, Donald Trump’s most interesting defenders don’t reside on the political right. They reside on the political left.

    Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich aren’t defending a principle. They’re defending a patron. Until recently they were ultra-hawks. Now, to downplay Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections, they sound like ultra-doves. All that matters is supporting their ally in the White House.

    For left-wing defenders like Max Blumenthal and Glenn Greenwald, by contrast, ideology is king. Blumenthal and Greenwald loathe Trump. But they loathe hawkish foreign policy more. So they minimize Russia’s election meddling to oppose what they see as a new Cold War.

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  • Why We Sleep Together

    A long time ago, beds were expensive—but there's more to it than that.

    With a guest in town occupying the second bedroom of our Manhattan apartment, my three-year-old son, a notorious sideways sleeper, bunked with my pregnant wife and me. Too many snores and little feet in the back of my neck, I relocated to the sofa, where I was blessed with the best night’s sleep I’ve had in months.

    As a self-diagnosed insomniac, a good night’s rest for me lasts anywhere from three to five hours. I generally break up the slumber with walks around the apartment, followed by lying awake and unearthing inconsequential paranoia that, come morning, will not live up to the hype. When I hear people claim they get eight hours of sleep each night, they might as well be talking about the Loch Ness Monster, or alien life. All three are things I suppose it’s possible someone may have encountered, but I cannot personally confirm their existence.

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  • Trump's Latest Interview Highlights Four of His Greatest Flaws

    The transcript of the president’s conversation with The New York Times throws his shortcomings into greater relief than ever before.

    “Now Donald Trump has finally done it” is a sentence many people have said or written, but which has never yet proven true. As Trump gained momentum during the campaign season, errors that on their own would have stopped or badly damaged previous candidates bounced right off.

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  • How Often People in Various Countries Shower

    Amidst the no-shampoo revolution, a look at global hygiene habits

    Cleanliness, it turns out, has been one dirty trick. One reason early-20th-century Americans ramped up their weekly baths to daily showers is that marketing companies capitalized on the insecurities of a new class of office drones working in close quarters. As Gizmodo wrote last week, to sell products like "toilet soap" and Listerine to Americans, "the advertising industry had to create pseudoscientific maladies like 'bad breath' and 'body odor.'"

    Take, for instance, Gizmodo's description of the philosophy of the Cleanliness Institute, which was founded by the Association of American Soap and Glycerine Producers:

    The trade association wanted Americans to wash quite unwittingly after toilet, to wash without thought before eating, to jump into the tub as automatically as one might awake each new day.

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  • The Classic Queer Paradox of Tyler, the Creator

    On Flower Boy the rapper suggests he’s not straight—and struggles with a stigma he helped propagate.

    Tyler, the Creator became famous, in part, for being hateful. When his rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (“Odd Future” is fine) caught buzz around 2010, it was because of their delirious energy and Eminem-like love of mayhem. But it was their threats against women and “faggots,” delivered in song and on social media, that elevated them from subculture phenomenon to become essay prompt and political flashpoint. The likes of GLAAD and the band Tegan and Sara declared Tyler poisonous and asked the music industry to stop supporting him. Theresa May, back when she was home secretary of the U.K., took the extraordinary step of banning him from her country because his lyrics “encourage violence and intolerance of homosexuality.”

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  • If Trump Undermines the Iran Deal

    A report suggests the president is looking for ways to get out of the accord. It says a lot about how he views the world.

    There was a lot of news lost at the end of last week when Sean Spicer, the hapless White House press secretary, finally resigned. In any other news cycle, the revelation that Jared Kushner forgot about $10 million in assets on his ethics forms (we’ve all been there) or a U.S. senate candidate siding with members of the alt-right over the Anti-Defamation League would have garnered more attention.

    One story that should not slip underneath the radar, however, is a report that the Trump administration has apparently entrusted a small group at the White House to undermine the Iran nuclear accords over the objections of the Departments of State and Defense.

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  • Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk Is a Masterpiece

    Epic yet intimate, the director's new war film is boldly experimental and visually stunning.

    What is Dunkirk?

    The answer is more complicated than one might imagine. Director Christopher Nolan’s latest is a war film, of course, yet one in which the enemy scarcely makes an appearance. It is a $150 million epic, yet also as lean and spare as a haiku, three brief, almost wordless strands of narrative woven together in a mere 106 minutes of running time. It is classic in its themes—honor, duty, the horror of war—yet simultaneously Nolan’s most radical experiment since Memento. And for all these reasons, it is a masterpiece.

    The historical moment captured by the film ascended long ago to the level of martial lore: In May 1940, in the early days of World War II, some 400,000 British and Allied troops were flanked and entrapped by Germany on the beaches of Dunkirk in northern France. Although the Channel was narrow enough that the men could almost see across to England, the waters were too shallow for warships to approach the beaches. So a flotilla of some 700 civilian craft—the “Little Ships of Dunkirk”—made their way from Ramsgate in England to assist in the rescue.

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  • Trump Asserts 'Complete Power to Pardon' in Saturday Tweetstorm

    The president also angrily lashed out at the media and his critics.

    President Trump lashed out at the media in a Saturday morning tweetstorm, insisting his authority to issue pardons is “complete” and expressing frustration over stories that revealed Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have lied about his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

    “A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post, this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions. These illegal leaks, like Comey’s, must stop!” the president tweeted, following up by stating that “While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS.”

    The tacit acknowledgement the president has been thinking about his pardon power in relation to the Russia investigation, and the qualification that no crimes but leaks had been revealed “so far” raised eyebrows among media observers.

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  • Jon Batiste Reinterprets 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' for The Atlantic

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  • We've Reached the End of White Christian America

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  • The Day Nixon Cracked

    In the aftermath of the Kent State shooting, President Nixon took an impromptu 4 a.m. walk to the Lincoln Memorial. Was he losing his mind?

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Donald Trump's Plan to Save Western Civilization - New York Times

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New York Times

Donald Trump's Plan to Save Western Civilization
New York Times
How did Donald Trump come to speak for Western civilization? This wasn't what his campaign promised. Candidate Trump put America First. He proposed a creative solution to the problem that has confronted every president since the collapse of the Soviet ...

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Trump Says He Has 'Complete Power' to Pardon - New York Times

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New York Times

Trump Says He Has 'Complete Power' to Pardon
New York Times
NORFOLK, Va — President Trump on Saturday asserted the “complete power to pardon” relatives, aides and possibly even himself in response to investigations into Russia's meddling in last year's election, as he came to the defense of Attorney General ...
Trump Can't Escape the StatesSlate Magazine
Trump Has Himself, Not Sessions, to Blame for the Limitless Mueller InvestigationNational Review
Eric Holder: Trump hindering Mueller investigation 'creates issues of constitutional and criminal dimension'Washington Examiner
The Atlantic -Business Insider -Washington Post -New York Times
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