Curious Moments From Fire And Fury: Trump In The White House (Part Four)

34. A proud Trump privately admitted to feeding the media false information.

“If you couldn’t get press directly for yourself, you became a leaker. There was no happenstance news, in Trump’s view. All news was manipulated and designed, planned and planted. All news was to some extent fake–he understood that very well, because he himself had faked it so many times in his career. This was why he had so naturally cottoned to the ‘fake news’ label. ‘I’ve made stuff up forever, and they always print it,’ he bragged.”

35. Trump took credit for MBS becoming the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

From Chapter 17:

“Within weeks of the trip, MBS, detaining MBN quite in the dead of night, would force him to relinquish the Crown Prince title, which MBS would then assume for himself. Trump would tell friends that he and Jared had engineered a Saudi coup: ‘We’ve put our man on top!'”

36. A lot of law firms don’t want to represent Trump.

Also from Chapter 17:

“…it certainly didn’t help that they were unable to hire a law firm with a top-notch white-collar government practice. By the time Bannon and Priebus were back in Washington, three blue-chip firms had said no. All of them were afraid they would face a rebellion among the younger staff if they represented Trump, afraid Trump would publicly humiliate them if the going got tough, and afraid Trump would stiff them for the bill.

In the end, nine top firms turned them down.”

37. Kushner & Ivanka retaliated against two frustrated, outgoing Trump lawyers by leaking dirt about them to the press.

As the media started successfully discrediting the original, false, then shifting assertions regarding the famous Trump Tower meeting that has been a focal point of the Mueller investigation, two of Trump’s attorneys saw the writing on the wall:

“Mark Corallo was instructed not to speak to the press, indeed not to even answer his phone. Later that week, Corallo, seeing no good outcome–and privately confiding that he believed the meeting on Air Force One represented a likely obstruction of justice–quit. (The Jarvanka side would put it out that Corallo was fired.)”

[snip]

“Likewise, the Trump family, no matter its legal exposure, was not going to be run by its lawyers. Jared and Ivanka helped to coordinate a set of lurid leaks–drinking, bad behavior, personal life in disarray–about Marc Kasowitz, who had advised the president to send the couple home. Shortly after the presidential party returned to Washington, Kasowitz was out.”

In Chapter 21, gelatinous salamander Steve Bannon offered his own view:

“Look, Kasowitz has known him for twenty-five years.  Kasowitz has gotten him out of all kinds of jams.  Kasowitz on the campaign–what did we have, a hundred women?  Kasowitz took care of all of them.  And now he lasts, what, four weeks?  He’s in the mumble tank. This is New York’s toughest lawyer, broken.  Mark Corallo, toughest motherfucker I ever met, just can’t do it.”

Wait, did Trump have one of his lawyers pay off “a hundred women” he had affairs with or is that number exaggerated?  Again, author Michael Wolff doesn’t follow up.

38. Anthony Scaramucci helped kill a damaging Kushner story so he could get a job in the White House.

From Chapter 20:

“Scaramucci called a reporter he knew to urge that an upcoming story about Kushner’s Russian contacts be spiked.  He followed up by having another mutual contact call the reporter to say that if the story was spiked it would help the Mooch get into the White House, whereupon the reporter would have special Mooch access.  The Mooch then assured Jared and Ivanka that he had, in this clever way, killed the story.”

39. Bannon’s theory on the true focus of the Mueller investigation:

From Chapter 21:

“This is all about money laundering…Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner…It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit.  The Kushner shit is greasy.  They’re going to go right through that.  They’re going to roll those guys up and say play me or trade me.”

[snip]

“They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on National TV.  Michael Cohen, cracked like an egg.”

40. Bannon doesn’t think Trump will survive his Presidency.

Also from Chapter 21:

“I’m pretty good at coming up with solutions, I came up with a solution for his broke-dick campaign in about a day, but I don’t see this.  I don’t see a plan for getting through.  Now, I gave him a plan…seal the Oval Office…send [Jared & Ivanka] home…get rid of Hope [Hicks], all these deadbeats…You listen to your [lawyers] and never talk about this stuff again, you just conduct yourself as commander in chief and then you can be president for eight years.  If you don’t, you’re not, simple.  But he’s the president…and he’s clearly choosing to go down another path…you can’t stop him.  The guy is going to call his own plays.  He’s Trump…”

41. Bannon knew Anthony Scaramucci wouldn’t last very long as communications director.

“He’ll be on that podium for two days and he’ll be so chopped he’ll bleed out everywhere.  He’ll literally blow up in a week…Hiring Scaramucci?  He’s not qualified to do anything.  He runs a fund of funds.  Do you know what a fund of funds is?  It’s not a fund.”

42. Trump is in deep denial about the Ku Klux Klan.

From Chapter 22:

“Privately, he kept trying to rationalize why someone would be a member of the KKK–that, they might not actually believe what the KKK believed, and that the KKK probably does not believe what it used to believe, and, anyway, who really know what the KKK believes now?”

43. Maybe this is why Nikki Haley recently resigned as UN Ambassador.

From the Epilogue:

“Haley–‘as ambitious as Lucifer,’ in the characterization of one member of the senior staff–had concluded that Trump’s tenure would last, at best, a single term, and that she, with requisite submission, could be his heir apparent.”

[snip]

“The president had been spending a notable amount of private time with Haley on Air Force One and was seen to be grooming her for a national political future.”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
7:09 p.m.

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Published in: on October 31, 2018 at 7:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Curious Moments From Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House (Part Three)

20. Trump has an unnamed source who dishes about the Department of Justice.

From Chapter Eleven:

“…Trump already had good reason to worry about the DOJ. The president had a private source, one of his frequent callers, who, he believed, was keeping him abreast of what was going on in the Justice Department…”

[snip]

“The source, a longtime friend with his own DOJ sources…fed the president a bleak picture of a Justice Department and an FBI run amok in its efforts to get him. ‘Treason’ was a word that was being used, the president was told.

‘The DOJ,’ the president’s source told him, ‘was filled with women who hated him.’…’They want to make Watergate look like Pissgate,’ the president was told. This comparison confused Trump; he thought his friend was making a reference to the Steele dossier and its tale of the golden showers.”

21. Tony Blair falsely claimed that the British were spying on Trump.

Also from Chapter Eleven:

“In February [2017], Blair visited Kushner in the White House.

On this trip, the now freelance diplomat, seeking to prove his usefulness to this new White House, imparted a juicy nugget of information. There was, he suggested, the possibility that the British had had the Trump campaign staff under surveillance, monitoring its telephone calls and other communications and possibly even Trump himself.

[snip]

It was unclear whether Blair’s information was rumor, informed conjecture, his own speculation, or solid stuff. But, as it churned and festered in the president’s mind, Kushner and Bannon went out to CIA headquarters in Langley to meet with Mike Pompeo and his deputy director Gina Haspel to check it out. A few days later, the CIA opaquely reported back that the information was not correct; it was a ‘miscommunication.'”

22. Trump doesn’t really care about abolishing the Affordable Care Act.

From Chapter Twelve:

“Trump had little or no interest in the central Republican goal of repealing Obamacare. An overweight seventy-year-old man with various physical phobias (for instance, he lied about his height to keep from having a body mass index that would label him as obese), he personally found health care and medical treatments of all kinds a distasteful subject. The details of the contested legislation were, to him, particularly boring. His attention would begin wandering from the first words of a policy discussion…he certainly could not make any kind of meaningful distinction, positive or negative, between the health care system before Obamacare and the one after.”

23. Jared Kushner privately supports the ACA and has a family member who benefits from it.

“Kushner…privately suggested that he was personally against both repeal alone and repeal and replace. He and his wife took a conventional Democratic view on Obamacare (it was better than the alternative; its problems could be fixed in the future)…(What’s more, Kushner’s brother Josh ran a health insurance company that depended on Obamacare.)”

24. Gary Cohn allegedly sent a scathing email that got forwarded throughout the Administration.

From Chapter Fourteen:

“In April, an email originally copied to more than a dozen people went into far wider circulation when it was forwarded and reforwarded. Purporting to represent the views of Gary Cohn [Trump’s Economic Advisor] and quite succinctly summarizing the appalled sense in much of the White House, the email read:

It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything–not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers, nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. And his staff is no better. Kushner is an entitled baby who knows nothing. Bannon is an arrogant prick who thinks he’s smarter than he is. Trump is less a person than a collection of terrible traits. No one will survive the first year but his family. I hate the work, but feel I need to stay because I’m the only person there with a clue what he’s doing. The reason so few jobs have been filled is that they only accept people who pass ridiculous purity tests, even for midlevel policy-making jobs where the people will never see the light of day. I am in a constant state of shock and horror.”

25. Steve Bannon was kicked off the National Security Council after being the only Trump official to oppose a military response against the Syrian government.

Also from Chapter Fourteen:

“By midmorning on April 4 [2017], a full briefing had been assembled at the White House for the president about the chemical attacks.”

[snip]

“Bannon, at perhaps his lowest moment of influence in the White House–many still felt that his departure was imminent–was the only voice arguing against a military response. It was a purist’s rationale: keep the United States out of intractable problems, and certainly don’t increase our involvement in them. He was holding the line against the rising business-as-usual faction, making decisions based on the same set of assumptions, Bannon believed, that has resulted in the Middle East quagmire.”

[snip]

“The president had already agreed to McMaster’s demand that Bannon be removed from the National Security Council, though the change wouldn’t be announced until the following day.”

[snip]

“The announcement of Bannon’s removal was made the day after the attack.”

26. Even Roger Ailes got fed up with Trump.

From Chapter Fifteen:

“In the past month, Ailes, a frequent Trump caller and after-dinner adviser, had all but stopped speaking to the president, piqued by the constant reports that Trump was bad-mouthing him as he praised a newly attentive [Rupert] Murdoch, who had, before the election, only ever ridiculed Trump.

‘Men who demand the most loyalty tend to be the least loyal pricks,’ noted a sardonic Ailes (a man who himself demanded lots of loyalty).”

[snip]

“…noted Ailes…’Donald and I were really quite good friends for more than 25 years, but he would have preferred to be friends with Murdoch, who thought he was a moron–at least until he became president.'”

27. Kellyanne Conway is more honest about Trump in private.

Also from Chapter Fifteen:

“In private…she seemed to regard Trump as a figure of exhausting exaggeration or even absurdity–or, at least, if you regarded him that way, she seemed to suggest that she might, too. She illustrated her opinion of her boss with a whole series of facial expressions: eyes rolling, mouth agape, head snapping back.”

28. Before he became an outspoken critic, Kellyanne’s husband George, originally an early Trump booster, nearly worked for him.

“After the election,” according to author Michael Wolff, there was “a scramble to get her husband an administration job…” What that job would’ve been is not divulged.

29. Even Trump government insiders, including his own daughter, thought Kellyanne’s “defend-at-all-costs shtick” was ridiculous.

“Loyalty was Trump’s most valued attribute, and in Conway’s view her kamikaze-like media defense of the president had earned her a position of utmost primacy in the White House. But in her public persona, she had pushed the boundaries of loyalty too far; she was so hyperbolic that even Trump loyalists found her behaviour extreme and were repelled. None were more put off than Jared and Ivanka…appalled at the shamelessness of her television appearances…”

They were so appalled, according to Wolff, they started leaking “about how she had been sidelined…reduced to second-rate media, to being a designated emissary to right-wing groups, and left out of any meaningful decision making.”

She almost resigned but Trump insisted she keep defending him on-air. (“You will always have a place in my administration…You will be here for eight years.”)

30. Before aligning with Trump, Hope Hicks once worked for the PR firm that protected Harvey Weinstein. So did Jared Kushner spokesman Josh Raffel.

“She first went to work for Matthew Hiltzik, who ran a small New York-based PR firm and was noted for his ability to work with high-maintenance clients, including the movie producer Harvey Weinstein (later pilloried for years of sexual harassment and abuse–accusations that Hiltzik and his staff had long helped protect him from)…”

[snip]

“Kushner’s Office of American Innovation employed, as its spokesperson, Josh Raffel, who, like Hicks, came out of Matthew Hiltzik’s PR shop.”

31. Trump didn’t understand why Hicks wanted to protect ex-boyfriend Corey Lewandowski from bad press after he was fired for “clashing with Trump family members.”

“…Hicks sat in Trump Tower with Trump and his sons, worrying about Lewandowski’s treatment in the press and wondering aloud how she might help him. Trump, who otherwise seemed to treat Hicks in a protective and even paternal way, looked up and said, ‘Why? You’ve already done enough for him. You’re the best piece of tail he’ll ever have,’ sending Hicks running from the room.

32. Why Trump thinks his son-in-law can solve the Middle East crisis.

From Chapter Sixteen:

“…the president had been gleefully telling multiple people that Jared could solve the Middle East problem because the Kushners knew all the crooks in [Apartheid] Israel…”

33. Trump despised Sally Yates.

Also from Chapter Sixteen:

“To Trump, he was just up against Sally Yates, who was, he steamed, ‘such a cunt.'”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
6:50 p.m.

Published in: on October 31, 2018 at 6:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Curious Moments From Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House (Part Two)

11. Supposed Trump critic Joe Scarborough keeps privately advising him over the phone.

One of Trump’s earliest public supporters was the host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, one of the President’s must-see morning cable news shows, until he eventually and inevitably started to turn on him.  However, in chapter two, Scarborough “privately told Trump ‘Washington will go up in flames’ if Bannon became chief of staff, and beginning a running theme, publicly denigrated Bannon on the show.'”

In chapter three, he’s urged to call Trump by worried staffers wanting the former Republican Congressman and others, it should be noted, to “call him and say Simmer down,’ with regards to attacking his growing band of critics, a similar sentiment another Trump friend, radio broadcaster Howard Stern, expressed publicly recently on his Sirius/XM satellite radio program.

“‘Who do you have in there?’ said Joe Scarborough in a frantic call. ‘Who’s the person you trust?  Jared?  Who can talk you through this stuff before you decided to act on it?’

‘Well,’ said the president, ‘you won’t like the answer, but the answer is me.  Me.  I talk to myself.'”

12. There is nothing to like about Stephen Miller.

From Chapter Three:

“Bannon got Stephen Miller to write the immigration EO.  Miller, a fifty-five-year-old trapped in a thirty-two-year-old’s body, was a former Jeff Sessions staffer brought on to the Trump campaign for his political expertise.  Except, other than being a dedicated far-right conservative, it was unclear what particular abilities accompanied Miller’s political views.  He was supposed to be a speechwriter, but if so, he seemed restricted to bullet points and unable to construct sentences.  He was supposed to be a policy adviser but knew little about policy.  He was supposed to be the house intellectual but was militantly unread.  He was supposed to be a communications specialist, but he antagonized almost everyone.  Bannon, during the transition, sent him to the Internet to learn about and to try to draft the EO.”

13. Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski visited Trump in the White House shortly after he first attempted to ban Muslims in his infamous Executive Order.

From Chapter Five:

“On the Sunday after the immigration order was issued, Joe Scarborough and his cohost on the MSNBC show Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski, came for lunch at the White House.

[snip]

“‘So how do you think the first week has gone?’ Trump asked the couple, in a buoyant mood, seeking flattery.

Scarborough, puzzled by Trump’s jauntiness in the face of the protests spreading across the nation, demurred and then said, ‘Well, I love what you did with U.S. Steel and that you had the union guys come into the Oval Office.’ Trump had pledged to use U.S.-made steel in U.S. pipelines…”

[snip]

Scarborough then ventured his opinion that the immigration order might have been handled better and that, all in all, it seemed like a rough period.”

After “plung[ing] into a long monologue about how well things had gone”, Trump told him, “I could have invited Hannity!”

“…Jared and Ivanka joined the president and Scarborough and Brzezinski.  Jared had become quite a Scarborough confidant and would continue to supply Scarborough with an inside view of the White House–that is, leaking to him.  Scarborough, in turn, would become a defender of Kushner’s White House position and view.

[snip]

“Trump continued to cast for positive impressions of his first week and Scarborough again reverted to his praise of Trump’s handling of the steel union leadership.”

14. Ivanka Trump wants to run for President.

Also from Chapter Five:

“Jared and Ivanka had made an earnest deal between themselves:  if sometime in the future the time came, she’d be the one to run for president (or the first one of them to take the shot).  The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton, it would be Ivanka Trump.”

15. Is Ivanka an enabler of her father’s extramarital affairs?

“She was a helper not just in his business dealings, but in his marital realignments.  She facilitated entrances and exits.  If you have a douchebag dad, and if everyone is open about it, then maybe it becomes fun and life a romantic comedy–sort of.”

16. Trump is paranoid about being assassinated by germs.

From Chapter Six:

“…he imposed a set of new rules:  nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush.  (He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat a McDonald’s–nobody knew he was coming and the food was premade.)”

17. Rudy Guiliani was offered numerous jobs within the administration.  He wanted to be Secretary of State.  Trump staffers thought he would also hold out for a spot on the Supreme Court.

The longtime Trump apologist “was offered attorney general”, an undetermined job within the “Department of Homeland Security” (I’m presuming it was Director) “and director of national intelligence, but he turned them all down, continuing to hold out for State.  Or, in what staffers took to be the ultimate presumption, or grand triangulation, the Supreme Court.”

When Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s eventual first appointee for the highest bench in America, “took public exception to Trump’s disparagement of the courts”, Trump, “in a moment of pique, decided to pull his nomination and, during conversations with his after-dinner callers, went back to discussing how he should have given the nod to Rudy.  He was the only loyal guy.”  After much pushback from deteriorating skunk beetle Steve Bannon and then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Trump ultimately relented and stuck with Gorsuch after all.  Wolff reports, “…Trump would shortly not remember when he had ever wanted anyone but Gorsuch.”

18. Michael Flynn initially denied any Russian collusion to a Washington Post reporter off the record.

February 8, 2017 would prove to be the beginning of the end for Donald Trump’s soon-to-be embattled National Security Advisor.  In “the same room where Japanese diplomats waited to meet with Secretary of State Cordell Hull as he learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor” in December 1941, Michael Flynn sat for an interview with Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post “in the most ornate room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building…”

“To all outward appearances, it was an uneventful background interview, and DeYoung, Columbo-like in her affect, aroused no suspicions when she broached the de rigueur question:  ‘My colleagues asked me to ask you this:  Did you talk to the Russians about sanctions?'”

Flynn made an unequivocal denial twice (“no such conversations”, according to Wolff).

“But later that day, DeYoung called [National Security Council official and spokesman Michael] Anton” who attended the off-the-record interview to inquire “if she could use Flynn’s denial on the record.  Anton said he saw no problem–after all, the White House wanted Flynn’s denial to be clear–and notified Flynn.

Suddenly, Flynn had “some worries about the statement.”

After Anton asked him, “If you knew that there might be a tape of this conversation that could surface, would you still be a hundred percent sure?”, “Flynn equivocated, and Anton, suddenly concerned, advised him that if he couldn’t be sure they ought to ‘walk it back.'”

In the eventual WaPo article that “contained new leaked details of the [Russian Ambassador] Kislyak phone call…Flynn, through his spokesman, backed away from the denial.  The spokesman said Flynn ‘indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.'”

Trump refused to fire him “after just twenty-four days” on the job.  “And he was adamant about not wanting to blame Flynn for talking to the Russians, even about sanctions.  In Trump’s view, condemning his advisor would connect him to a plot where there was no plot.  His fury wasn’t directed toward Flynn but to the ‘incidental’ wiretap that had surveilled him.”

Trump finally agreed to dismiss him after he was convinced that Flynn shouldn’t have misled Vice President Pence even though, as Wolff notes, “Flynn did not report to Vice President Pence, and he was arguably a good deal more powerful than Pence.”

That said, Trump, to this day, still thinks Flynn got railroaded:

“…the president did not waiver in his belief in Flynn.  Rather, Flynn’s enemies were his enemies.  And Russia was a gun to his head.  He might, however ruefully, have had to fire Flynn, but Flynn was still his guy.”

19. Trump told friends in private, “rambling” phone conversations what he really thought of his underlings.

From Chapter Eight:

“In paranoid or sadistic fashion, he’d speculate on the flaws and weaknesses of each member of his staff.  Bannon was disloyal (not mention he always looks like shit)”, the origin of the eventual “Sloppy Steve” epithet.  “Priebus was weak (not to mention he was short–a midget).  Kushner” his own son-in-law “was a suck-up.  Spicer was stupid (and looks terrible too).  Conway was a crybaby.  Jared and Ivanka should never have come to Washington.”

In the Epilogue, “the president had also stopped defending his own family, wondering when they would ‘take the hint and go home.'”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
6:37 p.m.

Published in: on October 31, 2018 at 6:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Curious Moments From Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House (Part One)

In the first week of 2018, Michael Wolff released Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House.  Like Bob Woodward’s book, Fear: Trump In The White House, which came out eight months later, it’s far less interested in consistently reporting and analyzing the GOP’s destructive political policies that will have ramifications and deadly consequences for years to come and way more fascinated with the ongoing, less substantial topic of civil war happening within the administration’s executive branch.

Instead of focusing on Trump’s shameless attempts at destroying the environment, for instance, there’s way too much attention paid to living dead ghoul Steve Bannon’s ongoing feud with Jarvanka, the racist’s derisive amalgamated nickname for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and the well established idiocy of the commander in chief.

Wolff also uses the phrase “joie de guerre” way too many times but I digress.

That said, like the Woodword book, there are still numerous moments worth highlighting, some of which deserve greater, prolonged scrutiny.  Let’s go through them:

1. Did John Bolton sexually harass a woman in a hotel?

In the book’s prologue, Wolff recounts a conversation between decomposing Nazi Steve Bannon and now dead serial sexual harasser Roger Ailes, the former Fox News wunderkind, during a private dinner at Trump’s Mar-A-Logo resort in Florida on January 3, 2017.  During a discussion about who the President-elect should pick to become his National Security Advisor, John Bolton’s name comes up.

It’s well known that Trump didn’t like him because he hated his moustache.  “Trump doesn’t think he looks the part,” observes Bannon.  But after further asserting that he’s “an acquired taste”, Ailes responds thusly:

“Well, he got in trouble because he got in a fight one night and chased some woman.”

To which Bannon replies, “If I told Trump that, he might have the job.”

Although Trump selected H.R. McMaster as his NSA, the married Bolton would ultimately replace him, moustache and all, a year later.

So, who was the woman and what the hell happened?  Disappointingly, Wolff never follows up.

2. Bannon suggested illegally divvying up Occupied Palestine to other countries besides Apartheid Israel.

At that same dinner, after announcing to Ailes that the eventual decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv will happen on “[d]ay one” of Trump’s presidency (it actually took place in May of this year, fourteen months after the Mar-A-Lago dinner, to much international outrage), he also suggested that Palestine, illegally occupied by the white supremacist Apartheid Israel regime for decades, be split up thusly by other autocratic dictatorships:

“Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza.  Let them deal with it.  Or sink trying.”

3. Bannon compared Obama’s heartless drone wars to LBJ’s mishandling of The Vietnam War.

While conversing with Ailes at Mar-A-Lago, Trump’s then-chief campaign strategist got into a rant about Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice.  In the midst of this, he commented on the way the Obama Administration conducted the war against ISIS:

“They’re picking the targets, she’s picking the drone strikes.  I mean, they’re running the war with just as much effectiveness as Johnson in sixty-eight.  The Pentagon is totally disengaged from the whole thing.  Intel services are disengaged from the whole thing.  The media has let Obama off the hook.  Take the ideology away from it, this is complete amateur hour.”

4. Kellyanne Conway was so certain Trump would lose the election she secretly courted TV news media to secure a future on-air gig.

From Chapter 1:

“Donald Trump would lose the election–of this she was sure–but he would quite possibly hold the defeat to under 6 points.

[snip]

Now she briefed some of the television producers and anchors with whom she’d built strong relationships–and with whom, actively interviewing in the last few weeks, she was hoping to land a permanent on-air job after the election.  She’d carefully courted many of them since joining the Trump campaign in mid-August…”

5. A revealing Trump anecdote that illustrates how he was able to connect with his supporters.

From Chapter Two:

“Trump’s understanding of his own essential nature was even more precise.  Once, coming back on his plane with a billionaire friend who had brought along a foreign model.  Trump, trying to move in on his friend’s date, urged a stop in Atlantic City.  He would provide a tour of his casino.  His friend assured the model that there was nothing to recommend Atlantic City.  It was a place run by white trash.

‘What is this ‘white trash’?’ asked the model.

‘They’re people just like me,’ said Trump, ‘only they’re poor.'”

6. Tom Barrack’s connection to Trump and other wealthy sex offenders.

“Barrack, the grandson of Lebanese immigrants, is a starstruck real estate investor of legendary acumen who owns Michael Jackson’s former oddball paradise, Neverland Ranch.  With Jeffrey Epstein–the New York financier who would become a tabloid regular after accusations of sex with underage girls and a guilty plea to one count of soliciting prostitution that sent him to jail in 2008 in Palm Beach for thirteen months–Trump and Barrack were a 1980s and ’90s set of nightlife Musketeers.”

7. Trump didn’t think Chris Christie’s shady closing of the George Washington Bridge was that big of a deal.

“Early in the campaign, Trump said he wouldn’t have run against Christie but for the Bridgegate scandal (which erupted when Christie’s associates closed traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge to undermine the mayor of a nearby town who was a Christie opponent, and which Trump privately justified as ‘just New Jersey hardball’).”

8. Anna Wintour wanted Trump to name her UK ambassador since Obama passed and Hillary Clinton lost the election.

“Anna Wintour, the Vogue editor and fashion industry queen, had hoped to be named America’s ambassador to the UK under Obama and, when that didn’t happen, closely aligned herself with Hillary Clinton.  Now Wintour arrived at Trump Tower (but haughtily refused to do the perp walk) and, with quite some remarkable chutzpah, pitched herself to Trump to be his ambassador to the Court of St. James’s.  And Trump was inclined to entertain the idea.  (‘Fortunately,’ said Bannon, ‘there was no chemistry.’)”

9. Even Trump supporter Rupert Murdoch thinks lowly of Trump’s intelligence.

As Trump was transitioning from public citizen to President of the United States in late 2016, he entertained numerous high profile visitors.  In mid-December, he was visited by “a[n unnamed] high-level delegation from Silicon Valley…though Trump had repeatedly criticized the tech industry throughout the campaign.”

After the meeting, Trump called News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch who “asked him how the meeting had gone.”

“Oh, great, just great,’ said Trump. ‘Really, really good.  These guys really need my help.  Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation.  [What about their collusion in online mass surveillance?]  This is really an opportunity for me to help them.’

‘Donald,’ said Murdoch, ‘ for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket.  They practically ran the administration.  They don’t need your help.’

‘Take this H-1B visa issue.  They really need these H-1B visas.'”

Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas might be hard to square with his immigration promises.  But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, ‘We’ll figure it out.’

‘What a fucking idiot,’ said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.”

10. An unnamed Republican gave a prescient warning to Jared Kushner about Trump’s future.

From Chapter Three:

“‘Don’t let him piss off the press, don’t let him piss off the Republican Party, don’t threaten congressmen because they will fuck you if you do, and most of all don’t let him piss off the intel community,’ said one national Republican figure to Kushner.  ‘If you fuck with the intel community they will figure out a way to get back at you and you’ll have two or three years of a Russian investigation, and every day something else will leak out.'”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
3:36 a.m.

Published in: on October 31, 2018 at 3:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Six)

41. Despite publicly predicting a future victory in Afghanistan, the Trump Administration’s private position is that it’s a lost cause.

From Chapter 31:

A “60-page strategy memo” was put together by the Defense Department in mid-August 2017.

“Buried in the 19-page section on integrated strategy was an admission:  ‘Stalemate likely to persist in Afghanistan’ and ‘Taliban likely to continue to gain ground.’

In the tradition of concealing the real story in a memo, ‘Win is unattainable’ was the conclusion signed by [National Security Advisor H.R.] McMaster.”

Then-CIA-chief Mike Pompeo:

“Are you going to take responsibility for Afghanistan?  Because we’re not going to win.  You understand we’re not going to win!”

From Chapter 27:

“‘Mr. President,’ [General] Dunford [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman] said, very polite, very soft-spoken, ‘there’s not a mandate to win…’ Under Obama, who had pulled out most of the troops–down to 8,400, from a high of 100,000—the strategy was effectively to achieve a stalemate.”

42. The Secretary of State let slip the reality of Afghanistan during a press briefing.

From Chapter 31:

“…Tillerson found another way to declare that a win was not attainable.  He addressed the Taliban at a press briefing:  ‘You will not win a battlefield victory.  We may not win one, but neither will you.’

Stalemate.”

43. Trump didn’t believe the American car industry was doing well or that the US government won most of its trade disputes with the WTO even though Gary Cohn had data evidence.

From Chapter 33:

“Cohn assembled the best statistics that could be compiled.  Trump would not read, so Cohn brought charts to the Oval Office.  The numbers showed that the American auto industry was fine.  One big chart showed Detroit’s Big Three were producing 3.6 million fewer cars and light trucks since 1994, but the rest of the U.S., mostly in the Southeast, was up the same 3.6 millon.

The entire BMW 3 series in the world were made in South Carolina, Cohn said.  The Mercedes SUVs were all made in the United States.  The millions of auto jobs lost in Detroit had moved to South Carolina and North Carolina because of right-to-work laws.”

[snip]

“Cohn had put another document, ‘U.S. Record in WTO Disputes,’ in the daily book that [Staff Secretary Rob] Porter compiled for the president at night.”

Trump “rarely if ever cracked it open.”  He claimed, “The World Trade Organization is the worst organization every created!…We lose more cases than anything.”

According to the aforementioned daily book, “The document showed that the United States won 85.7 percent of its WTO cases, more than average.”

Trump’s response:  “This is bullshit…This is wrong.”

Cohen’s rebuttal:  “This is the factual data.  There’s no one that’s going to disagree with this data.  Data is data.”

44. Lindsey Graham wanted China to assassinate Kim Jong Un.

From Chapter 34:

“Graham made a dramatic proposal to [Chief of Staff John] Kelly and McMaster. ‘China needs to kill him and replace him with a North Korean general they control,’…China had at least enough control so the North would not attack.  ‘I think the Chinese are clearly the key here and they need to take him out.  Not us, them.  And control the nuclear inventory there.  And wind this thing down.  Or control him.”

45. Chief of Staff John Kelly threatened to quit on at least two occasions.

The first involved an argument with ICE union leader Chris Crane.   According to Woodward, they “had an intense dislike for each other” because Kelly “blocked ICE agents from a hard-line crackdown on some immigration violations.”

Trump was livid that Kelly, who developed a controversial internal reputation for keeping certain officials away from the President, would not let Crane visit him in the Oval Office.  Trump watched Crane complain about this on Fox News.

That led to a confrontation after Trump invited Crane over “without informing Kelly.”

“Kelly heard Crane was in the Oval Office and strode in.  Soon Crane and Kelly were cursing each other.

‘I can’t believe you’d let some fucking guy like this into the Oval Office,’ Kelly told Trump.  If this was the way it was going to work, he said, ‘then I quit!’  And he stormed out.

Trump later told others that he thought Kelly and Crane were going to get into a fistfight.”

When Kelly “urged the president to select Kirstjen Nielsen” to be the next Homeland Security Secretary, Trump complained, “She’s a Bushie.  Everybody hates her.”  As Kelly’s defense of her went nowhere, Trump threatened to cancel her nomination.  (She was eventually confirmed.)

“Kelly threw up his hands.  ‘Maybe I’m just going to have to resign.’  And he stormed out.”

The hotheaded Kelly remains Chief of Staff as of this writing.

46. Trump proposed a more honest name for his awful tax bill.

According to Woodward, he wanted to “[c]all it the ‘Cut, Cut, Cut Bill’.”  Congressional Republicans went with “The Tax Cut And Jobs Act”.  But curiously, in the end, “it was finalized as ‘An Act to Provide for Reconciliation Pursuant to Titles II and V of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2018.'”

Yeah, that’s much better.

47. Bannon understood Trump’s enormous vulnerability as a philandering, rapey misogynist.

From Chapter 36:

“The #TimesUp And #MeToo movements of women and feminists would create an alternative to end the male-dominated patriarchy, Bannon believed.

‘Trump is the perfect foil…He’s the bad father, the terrible first husband, the boyfriend that fucked you over and wasted all those years, and [you] gave up your youth for, and then dumped you.  And the terrible boss that grabbed you by the pussy all the time and demeaned you.”

48. Afghanistan may reach the point of no return sometime early next year.

From Chapter 38:

“The DNI intelligence expert briefed Trump on Afghanistan in early 2018:  No gains by the U.S. in territory.  Nothing clawed back.  No improvement from last year; actually, some areas were getting worse.”

[snip]

“The coalition probably only had until the spring of 2019 to keep the status quo [a stalemate with The Taliban].  The political fabric seemed to be coming apart.  A perfect storm was coming, and a practical problem like weather might be the tipping point…A drought was coming, and with it a crisis of food insecurity…Some two million [Afghani refugees] had lived in Pakistan in decades [after their families fled during the 1979 Soviet invasion], never in their native Afghanistan, but they would be coming.”

49. Despite his constant, incessant ass-kissing, Trump’s new golf buddy Lindsey Graham wasn’t loyal enough in the eyes of the President.

At the end of 2017, the shameless South Carolina Senator played a round of golf with Trump at his International Golf Club in Florida.

After calling Trump’s course “spectacular” and telling Trump, “You’re a very good commander in chief,” Graham continued to brown nose:

“You’re cleaning up the mess that Obama left you.  You’re doing a damn good job of cleaning it up.  You’re rebuilding the military.  You’re taking a wet blanket off the economy.  You’re really unshackling the military and the economy.  God bless you for undoing the damage done in the last eight years.”

But Trump wanted more loyalty:

“You’re a middle-of-the-road guy.  I want you to be 100 percent for Trump.”

“‘Okay, what’s the issue?’ Graham asked, ‘and I’ll tell you whether I’m 100 percent for you or not.'”

“You’re like 82 percent…”

“Well, some days I’m 100 percent.  Some days I may be zero.”

That wasn’t good enough:

“I want you to be a 100 percent guy.”

50. John Dowd quit representing Trump because he knows he’ll be a terrible witness for Mueller.  Once he resigned, Trump informed the press.

After realizing during a test run, a preview of a potential Q&A with Robert Mueller, that Trump would be an awful advocate for himself in the Russia investigation (he blew up, continually insisting he was innocent and the victim of a “hoax”), attorney John Dowd pleaded with his client to remain silent:

“Mr. President, that’s why you can’t testify…When you’re a fact witness, you try to provide facts.  If you don’t know the facts, I’d just prefer you to say, Bob [Mueller], I just don’t remember.  I got too much going on here.  Instead of sort of guessing and making all kinds of wild conclusions.”

In the final chapter of Fear: Trump In The White House, Dowd reached his breaking point:

“I’m not happy, Mr. President.  This is a goddamn heartbreak…I’ve failed as your lawyer.  I’ve been unable to persuade you to take my advice…I wish I could persuade you…Don’t testify.  It’s either that or an orange jump suit.  If it’s decision time, you’re going to go forward, I can’t be with you.”

As soon as Dowd resigned in a morning phone call, the attorney presumed Trump immediately called the press.  Because “[t]wo minutes later”, he got calls from the Washington Post and The New York Times asking for comment.

As Woodward notes, “Trump always liked to be the first to deliver the news.”

51. Another Trump attorney Ty Cobb could be called as a witness, if he hasn’t already.

Dowd deeply regretted pushing Trump to hire the mustachioed attorney who went out on TV insisting that the President “was not afraid to testify.”

“‘He should have declined.  He’s a government employee.  And by the way, they can call him as a witness.  He has no [attorney/client] privilege with you.’

‘Jesus,’ Trump said, sounding worried.  ‘I’ve talked a lot with him.”

52. Dowd doesn’t think Trump will be impeached.

From Chapter 42:

“They’re not going to impeach you.  Are you shitting me?  They’re a bunch of cowards, the whole town. The media, the Congress.  They’re gutless.  What’s the impeachment going to be, for exercising Article II [of the US Constitution]?  Huh?  Hello?  Hello, I want to hear Speaker Ryan take that one up before the Rules Committee and the Judiciary Committee…We ought to tell them to go fuck themselves.

According to Woodward, “Dowd remained convinced that Mueller never had a Russian case or an obstruction case.  He was looking for the perjury trap.”  Which is why Dowd was insistent that Trump not submit to questioning.

53. The newest member of the Supreme Court recommended another abusive misogynist to work in the White House.

In the footnotes for Chapter 17, Woodward reveals that one of the many people who recommended Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who eventually resigned after revelations that he abused women he was romantically involved with, was none other than Brett Kavanaugh, who has faced his own accusations of harassment and assault.

54. A letter sent to Robert Mueller claimed Trump could fire him.  It also claimed he could free his criminalized staffers nabbed by the investigation.

Shortly before he quit, Trump attorney John Dowd convinced Special Counsel Robert Mueller to send him a list of topics he was pursuing to give The President’s legal team a head’s up.  If Trump had to answer any questions at all, Dowd preferred it be done on paper, not in person.

“The subject read ‘Request for Testimony on Alleged Obstruction of Justice.’

A raw assertion of presidential power was printed in boldface:  ‘He could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.'”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 7, 2018
8:37 p.m.

Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Five)

25. Steve Bannon got into a screaming match with Ivanka Trump about her role in the White House.

From Chapter 18:

“During a meeting in Priebus’s corner office Bannon and Ivanka got into an altercation.”

“‘You’re a goddamn staffer!’ Bannon finally screamed at Ivanka.  ‘You’re nothing but a fucking staffer!’…’You walk around this place and act like you’re in charge, and you’re not.  You’re on staff!’

‘I’m not a staffer!’ she shouted. ‘I’ll never be a staffer.  I’m the first daughter’–she really used the title–‘and I’m never going to be a staffer!'”

26. Bannon and Jared Kushner both believed they leaked negative stories about each other to the press.

Meanwhile, the exasperated white supremacist accused Ivanka’s husband of telling the UK paper the Daily Mail, anonymously of course, “about Trump blowing up at him and Priebus and blocking them from traveling on Air Force One to Florida.  It wasn’t true they had been kicked off the trip.  Both declined to travel that day.  ‘You fucking set me up,’…You trashed Reince in this story.  And I know you did it.’

Kushner vehemently denied it, and seemed offended at the accusation.”

In turn, Ivanka’s husband accused Bannon of being the source for a 2016 New York Times story about Kushner’s “December 2016 meeting with the Russian ambassador, adding fuel to the allegations that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia.”

Curiously, Woodward doesn’t mention a denial on Bannon’s part.

27. Maybe it was Trump’s Commerce Secretary who wrote that anonymous “I’m Part Of The Resistance” NYT op-ed.

From Chapter 19:

“Several days later Wilbur Ross laid out the reasoning on the importance of trade deficits.  Echoing the president, Ross said trade deficits are the lodestar and were a mark of our economic instability and weakness.”

28. Trump showed his appreciation for Ross, who saved his ass nearly 30 years ago, by tearing into him over a new trade deal with China.

“In the spring of 2017, Ross negotiated a deal with China for the U.S. to import Chinese chicken and export beef.  He called it ‘a herculean accomplishment.’  But there was some criticism of the deal.”

“In a meeting at the White House, the president tore into Ross. ‘I can’t believe you made this deal.  Why didn’t you tell anybody?  You didn’t tell me about this.  You just went off and did it on your own.  And it’s a terrible deal.  We got screwed.  Wilbur, maybe you used to have it.’  As an investment banker representing casino bondholders angry at Trump in 1990, Ross had struck a deal with Trump that acknowledged the value of his famous name and allowed him to avoid bankruptcy.”

“‘I thought you were a killer…When you were on Wall Street, you made some of these deals.  But you’re past your prime.  You’re not a good negotiator anymore.  I don’t know what it is, but you’ve lost it.  I don’t trust you.  I don’t want you doing any more negotiations.'”

29. Steve Bannon warned Trump that firing Comey was a mistake and would not end the Russia investigation.

According to Woodward at the start of Chapter 20, Trump wanted then-FBI Director James Comey fired “at the beginning of” his first term.  As he planned to finally terminate him in May 2017, his soon-to-exit advisor Steve Bannon issued this prescient warning about such a move.

“The moment you fire him he’s J. fucking Edgar Hoover.  The day you fire him, he’s the greatest martyr in American history.  A weapon to come and get you.  They’re going to name a special fucking counsel.  You can fire Comey.  You can’t fire the FBI.  The minute you fire him, the FBI as an institution, they have to destroy you and they will destroy you.”

Despite being told that “a special counsel” has “sweeping powers…to investigate everything a president touched,” Trump had already made up his mind:

“Don’t try to talk me out of it…because I’ve made my decision, so don’t even try.”

30. Rod Rosenstein wasn’t a Comey fan, either.

“Rosenstein told Trump that he thought Comey should be fired.  He had no problem writing a memo outlining his reasoning.”  It was a 3-page document entitled “RESTORING PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN THE FBI.”

Rosenstein opposed the way Comey handled the Hillary Clinton private server investigation.  In the memo, “He quoted five former attorneys general or deputy attorneys general agreeing that Comey had violated the rules,” announcing his own conclusions about the case “pre-empting the decision of the prosecutor”.

Trump now had the cover to do what he had already planned to do anyway before Rosenstein even walked into the Oval Office.

31. Bannon thought Trump fired Comey because he was concerned about his son-in-law.

“Bannon believed, ‘100 percent,’ that the reason for firing Comey was because the FBI was seeking financial records from Jared.  It was pure speculation.  Ivanka had complained to her father about the FBI.”

32. Trump lawyer John Dowd had previously investigated Pete Rose and defended John McCain.

“In the 1980s, he was special counsel to the commissioner of baseball.  He ran several investigations, the most prominent leading to the banning of Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds for betting on baseball games.  After that, as a defense attorney, Dowd represented Wall Street and political figures, including Senator John McCain in the Keating Five ethics investigation.”

33. Trump told an unnamed friend his personal philosophy on responding to accusations of philandering, harassment and assault.

From Chapter 21:

“Trump gave some private advice to a friend who had acknowledged some bad behaviour toward women.  Real power is fear.  It’s all about strength.  Never show weakness.  You’ve always got to be strong.  Don’t be bullied.  There is no choice.

‘You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women…If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead.  That was a big mistake you made.  You didn’t come out guns blazing and just challenge them.  You showed weakness.  You’ve got to be strong.  You’ve got to be aggressive.  You’ve got to push back hard.  You’re got to deny anything that’s said about you.  Never admit.”

34. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner played a major role in Steve Bannon’s departure.

From Chapter 23:

“Ivanka and Jared gave a newspaper story to the president with highlighted quotes from an unnamed White House source.  You know who this is?  This is Steve Bannon, they said.  In a West Wing filled with leakers, these tactics slowly but surely planted a distrust of Bannon with the president.”

35. Trump attorney John Dowd pretty much gave Special Counsel Robert Mueller anything he wanted with no objection from the President:

From Chapter 24:

“Mueller received 1.4 million pages of documents from the Trump campaign and 20,000 pages from the White House.  Dowd believed no documents had been destroyed.  In all, 37 witnesses gave interviews to Mueller’s team voluntarily.”

There was also a “six-page White House summary of the entire Flynn matter from contemporaneous recollections.  Dowd considered it the Bible on Flynn…”

36. The 2017 federal budget would not pass unless Trump instituted anti-trans military policies.

“In July, the Freedom Caucus, a bloc of 30 strong conservatives in the House, threatened not to vote for the budget unless President Trump instituted some prohibition on paying for gender reassignment surgeries and hormone treatments for transgender people serving in the military.”

37. Trump made a private transphobic remark.

“During the campaign, Trump had proclaimed himself a supporter of LGBT rights.  Now he told Bannon, ‘What the fuck?  They’re coming in here, they’re getting clipped’–a crude reference to gender reassignment surgery.”

38. Trump studied his own tweets to determine which ones were the most popular.

From Chapter 25:

“He ordered printouts of his recent tweets that had received a high number of likes, 200,000 or more.  He studied them to find the common themes in the most successful.  He seemed to want to become more strategic, find out whether success was tied to the subject, the language or simply the surprise that the president was weighing in.  The most effective tweets were often the most shocking.”

39. Trump is a deep thinker.

“Coming back from the [2017] G20 summit, Trump was editing an upcoming speech with Porter.  Scribbling his thoughts in neat, clean penmanship, the president wrote, “TRADE IS BAD.”

40. Why economic advisor Gary Cohn initially tried to quit before being convinced to stay on until a terrible tax bill was passed.

From Chapter 30:

“On Friday, August 18, [2017,] Gary Cohn flew by helicopter from East Hampton, Long Island, to Morristown, New Jersey, where it was raining heavily.  He had to wait on the tarmac to get clearance to Bedminster.  He was carrying a resignation letter.  This was too much.  Someone had put a swastika on his daughter’s college dorm room.”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 7, 2018
8:01 p.m.

Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Four)

20. Barack Obama seriously contemplated bombing North Korea’s nukes and missiles.

Near the end of his Presidency, Barack Obama wondered whether a “surgical strike” against North Korea’s nuclear capabilities would be successful.  (There were no legal considerations, apparently.)  In September 2016, the Kim Jong Un regime resumed underground testing of its nuclear weapons.  Endlessly worried about the resumption of the still active Korean War (and with good reason), the North Korean leader wasn’t taking any chances even if his threats of striking America (if they attack his country first) with long range supposedly nuke-tipped ICBMs is highly unlikely.  (They would definitely reach the South and Japan, if they struck first, however.)

Obama was hoping to make his successor’s life a lot easier by finally dealing with this issue.

“From the outset President Obama had authorized several Special Access Programs (SAP), the most classified and compartmented operations conducted by the military and intelligence, to deter North Korean missiles.  One program pinpointed cyber attacks on the command, control, telemetry, and guidance systems before or during a North Korean missile test launch.  These high-risk cyber attacks had begun in his first year as president.  Their success rate was mixed.

Another highly secret operation focused on obtaining North Korean missiles.  And a third enabled the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds.  Officials have asked that I not describe the details in order to protect national security operations deemed vital to the United States.”

Obama asked his National Security Council if bombing North Korea’s nukes and missiles was doable.  In short, no.  It wasn’t clear if their ICBM’s were even nuclear.  (“Current intelligence assessments could not answer definitively.”)

“The intelligence assessment also showed that a U.S. attack could not wipe out everything the North had.  There would be lost targets because they did not know about them, and partial destruction of other targets.”  What about the deleterious effect on North Korean civilians?  That curiously goes unmentioned.

There were numerous other problems with the unwarranted attack.  But this was the biggest one:

“A single North Korean nuclear weapon detonated in response could mean tens of thousands of casualties in South Korea.”

The Pentagon noted the obvious.  There would have to be “a ground invasion” on top of the bombing which of course would justify North Korea retaliating “likely with a nuclear weapon”.

“Frustrated and exasperated, he rejected a preemptive strike.  It was folly.”

Too bad Obama didn’t feel the same way about drones.

21. James Clapper warned Obama that North Korea would not go for denuclearization and they want a peace treaty with South Korea.

The then-Director of National Intelligence made a trip to North Korea in late 2014 “to retrieve two U.S. citizens who had been taken prisoner.  From his discussions with North Korean officials he was convinced that North Korea would not give up their nuclear weapons.  Why would they?  In exchange for what?  North Korea had effectively bought a deterrent.  It was real and powerful in its ambiguity.”

Clapper “argued to Obama and the NSC that for the United States to say that denuclearization was a condition for negotiations was not working, and would not work.”

“Also, Clapper said, he understood the North Korean desire for a peace treaty to end the Korean War, which had been formally resolved with an armistice in 1953–a truce between the commanders of the militaries involved, not the nations at war.

The United States needed to understand how North Korea looked at the situation:  The U.S. and South Korea seemed permanently poised, dramatically at times, to attack and to do away with the Kim regime.”

Clapper noted that the North Koreans told him that America “has no permanent enemies” which gave him hope that it would be possible “to set up an interest section in Pyongyang” in order to establish “an informal” diplomatic “channel in which another government with an embassy in the North Korean capital would act as intermediary.”  There “would be less than full diplomatic relations, but it would give the U.S. a base, a place…they could obtain information and also get information into North Korea.”

Clapper’s view was a lonely one on the National Security Council:

“No one agreed.  Obama was hard-line:  North Korea would have to agree to give up its nuclear weapons,” a policy that has been stubbornly maintained by the Trump Administration.

22. Obama also thought about increasing cyber attacks against North Korea.

“Some” in the Obama Administration “viewed cyber [attacks] as the below-the-radar magic wand that might mitigate the North Korean threat.”

But there were two major problems, besides the clearly illegal and unwarranted plan of attack itself.

One:

“To launch broader cyber attacks effectively, the [NSA] would have to go through servers that North Korea had in China.  The Chinese would detect such an attack and could conclude it was directed at them, potentially unleashing a cataclysmic cyber war.”

Two:

“The use of cyber could trigger escalation and set off a round of attacks and counterattacks that could cripple the Internet, financial systems like banking and credit cards, power grids, news and other communications systems, potentially bringing the American or even the world economy to its knees.”

The foolish plan was thankfully abandoned.

23. Lindsey Graham urged Trump to bomb North Korea even if it meant killing a whole lot of South Korean civilians.  He also mended fences with John McCain during a private dinner.

Despite being humiliated by Trump during the 2016 primaries, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was urged by then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to forge a relationship with the new President.  (“You’re a lot of fun.  He needs fun people around him.”)

They ultimately bonded over North Korea, one of Graham’s pet issues.  At the same time, Trump was trying to make peace with another infamous warmonger John McCain who he derided for being captured in Vietnam (instead of committing war crimes by bombing civilians before that happened).

He invited McCain and his wife Cindy to a private dinner at The White House where he offered a “teared up” Cindy a job being “my ambassador at large for human trafficking”.

Trump than proceeded to kiss up to John who was “visibly touched” by the offer to his wife:

“I just want to get to know you…I admire you.  You’re a very tough man.  You’re a good man.”

“McCain again seemed touched…’We want to help you.'”

That led to a discussion with Graham about North Korea.  When Trump asked McCain’s opinion on what to do, he replied:

“Very complicated…They can kill a million people in Seoul [South Korea] with conventional artillery.  That’s what makes it so hard.”

To which Graham responded:

“If a million people are going to die, they’re going to die over there, not here.”

Even Trump was taken aback:

“That’s pretty cold.”

24. America is deliberating fighting a stalemate in Afghanistan to avoid conceding the rest of the country back to The Taliban.

Throughout Fear: Trump In The White House, the Republican President expresses outrage over the disastrous Afghanistan invasion.  (“We’ve got to figure out how to get the fuck out of there.”)  Launched a month after 9/11 with significant public support, the unpopular occupation has since faded into the background.  Almost 20 years old now, it is America’s longest ever war with no end in sight.

In Chapter 15, Woodward lays out the big problems with the current strategy.  The Taliban remain resilient and continue to rule over “significant” parts of the country.  The thoroughly corrupt puppet regime has no legitimacy.  The opium trade and illegal mining make up much of the otherwise struggling economy.  Having a permanent US military presence won’t solve anything.  There are numerous tribes at war with each other.

“A larger question loomed:  Should the United States be playing to win in Afghanistan, or merely not to lose?”

Despite protests from the soon to be departing Steve Bannon, Trump reluctantly agreed with a request to add more troops (just a few thousand) even though everybody in the government, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, sees the occupation as a failure that needs to draw to a close.

Everybody except the perennially war hungry Lindsey Graham who tried to scaremonger Trump into keeping the ongoing quagmire going:

“Do you want on your resume that you allowed Afghanistan to go back into the darkness and the second 9/11 came from the very same place the first 9/11 did?”  15 of the 9/11 attackers were Saudi Arabian but I digress.

When Trump asked Graham, “Well…how does it end?”

“‘It never ends,’ Graham said. ‘It’s good versus evil.  Good versus evil never ends.  It’s just like the Nazis.  It’s now radical Islam.  It will be something else one day.'”

When Pence urged Graham to tell Trump “how this ends,” Graham would not budge.

“It would never end, Graham repeated.”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 7, 2018
3:23 a.m.

Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 3:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Three)

12. Trump thought preparing for a transition would jinx him.

“Money questions ignited Trump.  When he learned that [Chris] Christie, who would be the head of his transition team, was raising money for the operation, he summoned him and Bannon to Trump Tower.”

A paranoid Trump believed he was being robbed.  (“I’m putting money in my campaign, and you’re fucking stealing from me.”)  Christie tried to reassure him that he wasn’t a thief, he was preparing “for the required transition organization in case Trump won,” even though the then-New Jersey Governor thought he had already blown the election.

“Trump said that Mitt Romney had spent too much time on transition meetings as the nominee in 2012, and not enough time on campaign events.  ‘That’s why he lost.  You’re jinxing me,’ he told Christie.  ‘I don’t want a transition.  I’m shutting down the transition…You’re jinxing me.  I’m not going to spend a second on it.”

When Bannon tried to back up Christie who he otherwise despised, Trump was inflexible:

“It’s jinxing me…I can’t have one.”

A compromise would eventually be reached.

“Trump agreed, finally and reluctantly, to a slimmed-down, skeletal version of the transition.  Christie would cease fundraising.

‘He can have his transition,’ Trump said, ‘but I don’t want anything to do with it.'”

13. During a corporate speech, Bob Woodward learned firsthand about the hidden Trump voter.

“Two weeks before the election, October 25, 2016, I was in Fort Worth, Texas, giving a speech to about 400 executives from a firm called KEY2ACT that provides construction and field service management software.  My topic was ‘The Age of the American Presidency.  What Will 2016 Bring?’  The group was mostly white and was from all over the country.

I asked for a show of hands.  How many expected to vote for Hillary?  As best as I could tell there were only about 10.  How many expected to vote for Trump?  Half the room raised their hands–approximately 200.  Wow, I thought, that seemed like a lot of Trump voters.”

Woodward had “no explanation” and neither did the “flabbergasted” CEO of KEY2ACT.

14. The real, petty reason Trump hired those Russian sex workers to piss on his hotel bed.

One of Trump’s biggest ongoing pet peeves is the Steele Dossier, the secretly compiled document that isn’t entirely corroborated and yet still managed to leak into the media.  Originally funded by Democrats but later financially supported by Republicans, British spy Christopher Steele was hired to compile potentially embarrassing information that the Russians, who preferred Trump over Clinton, had supposedly acquired of their favoured candidate.

The most infamous story involved Trump hiring a couple of local sex workers in Russia to urinate on his hotel room bed during a trip in 2013 and that it was surreptitiously captured on tape by the Russians.  When the story came out, comedians had a field day.  Trump denied it ever happened, saying he’s a well-known germophobe.

But in Chapter Eight of Fear:  Trump In The White House, there was a very specific reason why this all happened:

“On the second page it said:  ‘According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s (perverted conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him.  The hotel was known to be under FSB control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.”

15. Hope Hicks’ description of the press sounds more like President Trump.

During the campaign, Trump had hired Hope Hicks to do PR for him.  During the transition, he hired her to run the communications department which would allow her to avoid directly dealing with the media, her preference.

According to Woodward, Hicks “felt that he had lost some of his leverage with the media by being overexposed during the campaign.”

“Hicks was convinced the media had ‘oppositional defiance syndrome’, which is a term from clinical psychology most often applied to rebellious children.  ‘Oppositional defiance syndrome” is characterized by excessive anger against authority, vindictiveness and temper tantrums.  As far as she was concerned, that described the press.”

She was really describing Trump.

16. Trump worried that the pee tape story would piss off Melania and admitted to one of his lawyers he was a philanderer.

The 45th US President has a long history of womanizing which already cost him two marriages.  Clearly worried about losing a third, especially after his famous private encounter with then-FBI Director James Comey who he later fired:

“Trump later told his attorney that he felt shaken down by Comey with the presentation about the alleged prostitutes in Moscow.  ‘I’ve got enough problems with Melania and girlfriends and all that.  I don’t need any more.  I can’t have Melania hearing about that.”

17. Trump’s Secretary of Defense James Mattis is an Islamophobe.

In Chapter Ten, Woodward recounts a classified meeting on February 25, 2017 regarding the military’s battle plan against ISIS, a plan that essentially remained Obama’s “but with bombing and other authorities granted to the local commanders.”  Conducted by Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis, at some point there was a discussion about Iran:

“Mattis was worried about Iranian expansion,” a recurring paranoid unfounded obsession with the Trump Administration.  “At one point he later referred to ‘those idiot raghead mullahs.'”

18. FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe told Priebus a New York Times story was “bullshit” and “grossly overstated”.  But he refused to say so publicly.

On Valentine’s Day 2017, The New York Times published this story about Trump campaign officials contacting the Russians the year before the 2016 campaign.

The FBI’s deputy director Andrew McCabe called Trump’s then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to insist the reporting was wrong:

“‘It’s total bullshit,’ McCabe said. ‘It’s not true, and we want you to know that.  It’s grossly overstated.'”

Woodward doesn’t report any actual inaccuracies, if there were in fact any to be found.

When Priebus pleaded with the FBI’s number two to publicly discredit the story:

“‘Call me in a couple of hours,’ McCabe said.  ‘I will ask around and I’ll let you know.  I’ll see what I can do.'”

After waiting impatiently for two hours, the freaked out Chief of Staff called him again.

“‘I’m sorry, I can’t…There’s nothing I can do about it.  I tried, but if we start issuing comments on individual stories, we’ll be doing statements every three days.’  The FBI could not become a clearinghouse for the accuracy of news stories.  If the FBI tried to debunk certain stories, a failure to comment could be seen as a confirmation.”

McCabe asked for more time (“Give me a couple more hours.”).

“Nothing happened.  No call from the FBI.  Priebus tried to explain to Trump, who was waiting for a recanting.  It was another reason for Trump to distrust and hate the FBI…”

CNN reported this inside wrangling a week later.  (“Priebus was cast as trying to manipulate the FBI for political purposes.”)

“The White House tried and failed to correct the story and show that McCabe had initiated the matter.”

Again, it’s not made clear what was supposedly erroneous about the NYT story.

During his sworn testimony on June 8 that same year, in a moment of bitter irony, the now fired Comey finally did what McCabe wouldn’t do.  He asserted that the Times’ story “in the main was not true.”

19. Steve Bannon prepped soon-to-be National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster on how to deal with Trump during his job interview which didn’t go well.

“Don’t lecture Trump.  He doesn’t like professors.  He doesn’t like intellectuals.”  McMaster wrote a critical book about the botched Vietnam War.  “Trump was a guy who ‘never went to class.  Never got the syllabus.  Never took a note.  Never went to a lecture.  The night before the final, he comes in at midnight from the fraternity house, puts on a pot of coffee, takes your notes, memorizes as much as he can, walks in at 8 in the morning and gets a C.  And that’s good enough…Show up in your uniform.’

McMaster wore a suit.”

The planned two-hour interview was much shorter.  According to Bannon, “McMaster ran his fucking mouth for all of 20 minutes giving his theories of the world.”

Trump said, “He’s dressed like a beer salesman.”  He still gave McMaster the job.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 7, 2018
12:50 a.m.

Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 12:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Two)

8. Kellyanne Conway attended the Democratic National Convention and knew the Clinton campaign was in trouble.

Trump replaced the doomed Paul Manafort with longtime Republican operative Kellyanne Conway.  In July 2016, she attended the DNC event to see what the Democrats were offering their supporters.  According to Woodward, she came away unimpressed:

“Their message is Donald Trump is bad, and we’re not Donald Trump.  The rest of the message was race, gender, LGBT…She doesn’t seem to have a message.  Now if I’m her, I’m going to find a message.  I’m going to buy a message.  And it’s going to be very positive and uplifting and optimistic.  All I can see from her so far is not optimism.”

An odd assertion to make when Clinton was foolishly arguing that “America was already great” (one of the many dumb things she said during the campaign) and when Trump’s own address during the GOP convention was so relentlessly dark and negative.  (“The American Dream is dead.”)

At any event, Conway would go on to talk about “the hidden Trump voter” which was met with much cynical snickering from the media.  Undeterred, Trump’s new campaign manager observed, “There’s not a single hidden Hillary voter in the entire country.  They’re all out and about.”

Besides her message, Clinton had another big problem.  With regards to pre-election polling, she “had not cracked 50 percent in eight key states that Obama won twice with over 50 percent” in the 2008 election.  The Trump camp, led by Conway and Bannon, realized that as long as they focused on Clinton’s weaknesses, “they would win with those hidden Trump voters.  If the race stayed about Trump, ‘we’ll probably lose.'”

9. After the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, the RNC threatened to pull their funding and demanded Trump drop out of the race. They wanted Mike Pence paired with Condoleezza Rice instead.

Every Presidential candidate fears The October Surprise.  And sure enough, Donald Trump got a doozy in 2016.

On October 7th, an unreleased clip from a 2005 Access Hollywood shoot was released.  Trump was bantering with host Billy Bush on an AH bus headed to the set of Days Of Our Lives.  There was lots of talk about women and how Trump can’t resist them.  Then, the moment of infamy:

“…Trump [was] bragging crudely about his sexual prowess.  He said he could grope and kiss women at will.  ‘When you’re a star, they let you do it,’ Trump said.  ‘You can do anything.  Grab them by the pussy.'”

The very next morning, according to Woodward, there was an emergency meeting in Trump’s Trump Tower penthouse:

“Priebus told Bannon, ‘The donors are all out.  Everybody’s dropped.  Paul Ryan’s going to drop this afternoon.’  The loss of the money people and the Republican house speaker signaled the end.  ‘It’s over,’ Priebus said.

“Everybody’s pulling their endorsements.  I don’t even know if Pence is going to be on this thing.’  The fastidiously loyal Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, was doubting.”

After Trump arrived, Priebus read Trump the riot act:

“You have two choices…You either drop out right now or you’re going to lose in the biggest landslide in American history and be humiliated for life.”

Priebus revealed that “every leader, every congressman, every senator” even members of the RNC were “telling me you’re either going to lose big, in a massive way, or you need to drop out of the race.  I can’t make it any better.”

To salvage what he believed was a sinking ship, Priebus proposed an alternative ticket:

“Pence is prepared to step up, and Condi Rice will come in as his VP.”

Bannon protested.  “That’s never going to happen…That’s ridiculous.  Fucking absurd.”

As Woodward notes of Bannon’s efforts, “In less than two months as campaign CEO they had cut the polling gap in half with endless rallies.”  Dropping out now would’ve been the real disaster.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appealed to Trump’s business sense:

“This is not about the campaign…That’s over. This is about your brand.”

Regarding Donald Trump Jr. and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, “You need to save the brand for them or the brand’s finished.”

Rudy Guiliani claimed Trump “had less than a 50 percent chance of winning. ‘Basically you’ve got 40 percent.'”

Once again, only Steve Bannon was convinced Trump wasn’t going to lose.

“‘One hundred percent, metaphysical certitude you’re going to win’…Your supporters will still be with you. ‘They are worried about saving their country.'”

But Priebus was insistent:

“You guys don’t know what you’re doing.  You’re going to go down.”

According to Woodward, “Prominent Republicans began to call for Trump to step aside for Mike Pence” who had “gone to ground when the news broke about the Access Hollywood tape.”  After putting out a statement condemning Trump’s remarks (“I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.”):

“Stories circulated that Pence had given Bannon a sealed letter urging Trump to drop off the ticket.”

When the meeting adjourned, Christie started scolding Bannon in private:

“You’re the fucking problem…You’ve been the problem since the beginning…You’re the enabler.  You play to every one of his worst instincts.  This thing’s over and you’re going to be blamed.  Every time he’s got terrible instincts for these things, and all you do is get him all worked up.  This is going to be humiliating.”

“Christie was in Bannon’s face, looming large.  Bannon half-wanted to say, You fat fuck, let’s throw down right here.”

No fists were thrown.  With a trip to the second Presidential debate looming in Missouri the next day, Bannon simply gave the then-New Jersey Governor an ultimatum:

“Governor…the plane leaves tomorrow…If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team.”

Christie was a no-show.

“‘Fuck this guy,’ Bannon said, and the plane took off.”

In the end, Trump refused to quit and proved Bannon right.

10. Trump almost did an ABC interview to do damage control after Melania dismissed the idea of appearing on 60 Minutes with him and Ivanka.

While everybody but Bannon was urging Trump to quit in that emergency Trump Tower meeting, there was also a spontaneous plan to save face.  Kellyanne Conway suggested a joint appearance with daughter Ivanka and wife Melania on the long running CBS News program 60 Minutes which was immediately dismissed by Melania.  (“Not doing that…No, no, no.  No way.”) After Bannon’s proposal to do an impromptu rally with supporters to cut a harsh promo on the media was rejected despite Trump’s enthusiasm for the idea, Conway had another proposal:

“Conway would call ABC and arrange for David Muir, the ABC anchor, to helicopter in.  Guiliani and Christie would write an introduction for Trump and Muir could do a 10-minue interview.

Political suicide, thought Bannon.  This would make the campaign over for sure, and Trump would lose by 20 points.”

When Trump was handed his prepared remarks, he balked:

“‘I can’t do this,’ he said.  ‘This is bullshit.  This is weak.  You guys are weak.'”

A quick revision was made.  It made no difference:

“I’m not doing this.”

Ultimately, Trump ended up not doing the interview.  Instead, the GOP candidate went downstairs and outside Trump Tower to greet a “roaring crowd of Trump supporters in the street”.  When a reporter asked if he was going to continue campaigning, he replied:

“One hundred percent.”

11. Despite being the only campaign official to defend him on all the Sunday political talk shows, Rudy Guiliani was brutally admonished by Trump in front of colleagues for doing a terrible job.

“Everyone on the Trump campaign refused to appear on the Sunday morning talk shows except Rudy Guiliani.  Priebus, Christie, even the reliable, thick-armored, never-say-no Conway had scheduled.  All cancelled.”

“Guiliani gave, or tried to give, the same spiel on each show:  Trump’s words had been ‘reprehensible and terrible and awful,’ and he had apologized.” Trump was “changed” because of his “transformational” campaign.  Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton’s problems instead, her no longer suppressed Goldman Sachs speeches, her “private coziness with Wall Street that clashed with her liberal public positions.”

Surely by accident because he didn’t think Trump would win, Guiliani nonetheless astutely predicted, “The country would view that much more harshly.”

When he arrived on the campaign plane “seeming punch-drunk” because of the exhausting TV apology tour he just completed, Trump wasn’t pleased:

“‘Rudy, you’re a baby!’  Trump said loudly.  ‘I’ve never seen a worse defense of me in my life.  They took your diaper off right there.  You’re like a little baby that needed to be changed.  When are you going to be a man?'”

“He can’t defend me.  I need somebody to defend me.  Where are my people?”

“It was a mistake.  He shouldn’t have gone on.  He’s weak.  You’re weak, Rudy.  You’ve lost it.”

According to Woodward, “Guiliani just looked up, his face blank.”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, October 6, 2018
10:52 p.m.

Published in: on October 6, 2018 at 10:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part One)

Last month, legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward released his latest insider account of a sitting US President.  Fear: Trump In The White House tells the story of how the fraudulent New York hustler conned the electorate into voting him into the White House.

Those expecting a brilliant account of Trump’s long journey to his highest level of incompetence will be sadly disappointed.  The book feels premature (Trump’s not even halfway through his first term), it leaves out a lot of potentially interesting details (there’s next to nothing about Trump’s embattled communications team or the child separation border policy among other inexcusable omissions) and too much of it is the overly dry “he said this, he said that” pro-imperialist insider access accounting that is often taken as Gospel instead of being routinely scrutinized for the self-serving bullshit it is.

Regardless, there are still some revealing passages worth highlighting:

1. Donald Trump doesn’t think The New York Times is “fake news”.

In Chapter Two, Bob Woodward recounts an encounter in August 2016 between the GOP Presidential candidate and his then-campaign manager Paul Manafort at the Trump National Golf Club. Trump was pissed about this New York Times article which noted the failed collective effort to keep the orange one’s worst public impulses in check:

“Citing the New York Times story about the failure to tame his tongue, Trump asked Manafort how such an article could appear.  It was one of Trump’s paradoxes:  He attacked the mainstream media with relish, especially the Times–but despite the full-takedown language, he considered the Times the paper of record and largely believed its stories.”

When Steve Bannon attempted to discredit the report (“the story had a lot of these unnamed sources, we don’t know the veracity.”), Trump was adamant:

“No, I can tell…They’re leakers.”

As Woodword notes, “He knew the quotes were true.”  And so did Bannon despite his repeated attempts to calm Trump down:

“Bannon continued his full-body, opposition party pitch, though he knew the story was true.”

“Trump wasn’t buying it.  The story was gospel, and the campaign was full of leakers.”

2. Like the left, Steve Bannon knew two of Hillary Clinton’s biggest vulnerabilities: wars and free trade.

In that same meeting, a frustrated Trump, who was on the verge of firing Manafort (“He’s not really running the campaign.  I only brought him in to get me through the convention.”), listened intently to Bannon’s thematic pitch for his struggling campaign:

“Number one…we’re going to stop mass illegal immigration and start to limit legal immigration to get our sovereignty back.  Number two, you are going to bring manufacturing jobs back to the country.  And number three, we’re going to get out of these pointless foreign wars.”

Bannon argued persuasively that the Democratic Presidential nominee was extremely vulnerable on two of these issues (“…she’s part of the thing that cut the bad trade deals…and she’s the neocon….She’s supported every war out there.”).

Indeed, Clinton was a major champion of her husband’s soon-to-be-defunct NAFTA deal and the abandoned TPP which were both vehemently opposed by labour and leftists including her primary opponent Bernie Sanders.  And one of the reasons she didn’t get the Democratic nomination in 2008 was because she voted for the doomed Iraq invasion, a position that cost her big time in five crucial battleground states where numerous anti-war military families live.  She also supported the war against The Taliban in Afghanistan and was one of the chief architects of the Libya debacle.

3. Bannon urged Trump to continue being as off-the-cuff as possible to distinguish himself from Clinton.

At the end of his August 2016 pitch at the Trump National Golf Club, the then-Breitbart head made one last suggestion to the future President:

“Bannon added that Trump had another advantage.  He spoke in a voice that did not sound political. This was what Barack Obama had in 2008 in the primary contest against Clinton, who spoke like the trained politician she was.  Her tempo was overly practiced.  Even when telling the truth, she sounded like she was lying to you.

Politicians like Hillary can’t talk naturally, Bannon said.  It was a mechanical way of speaking, right out of the polling and focus groups, answering the questions in political speak.  It was soothing, not jarring, not from the heart or from deep conviction, but from some highly paid consultant’s talking points–not angry.”

Trump immediately hired Bannon to help run his campaign.

4. Paul Manafort showed Bannon an advanced copy of a New York Times article that marked the beginning of his downfall.

In Chapter Three, shortly after the meeting at the golf club, Trump’s then-campaign manager invited his new advisor to visit him in his Trump Tower apartment:

“‘I need you to look at something for me,’ Manafort said, handing him a copy of a draft story coming in from The New York Times headlined:  ‘Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief.’

Bannon read, ‘Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort’ from the pro-Russian political party.”

A startled Bannon wondered if Trump knew this was coming (“Manafort said no.”) and asked how long Manafort himself was aware of the Times’ investigation (“Two months…”).

“Bannon read about 10 paragraphs in.  It was a kill shot.  It was over for Manafort.

‘My lawyer told me not to cooperate,’ Manafort said.  ‘It was just a hit piece.'”

Manafort protested his innocence (“It’s all lies…I had expenses.”) but Bannon wasn’t buying it and knew that Trump would flip his lid once he read the story.  Despite being advised by Bannon to warn the Republican candidate of his coming shitstorm, Manafort never told Trump about what he was up to in Ukraine.  He was later convicted on multiple felonies.

5. Anthony Scaramucci was right about Bannon.

From Chapter Three:

“As Bannon later remarked with his trademark profanity, ‘I reached out and sucked Reince Preibus’ dick on August 15 and told the establishment, we can’t win without you.'”

6. Trump wouldn’t have won without the RNC’s Obama-inspired big data operation.

Also from Chapter Three:

“Priebus had spent the last years overseeing a massive effort to rebuild the RNC into a data-driven operation.  Borrowing from Obama’s winning campaign strategy, the RNC started pouring vast sums–eventually more than $175 million–into analytics and big data, tracking individual primary voters, and using that information in areas divided into neighbourhood ‘turfs’ staffed with armies of volunteers.

All along, the expectation had been that once the Republican nominee was selected, the RNC would hitch this massive shiny new wagon to an already fairly robust and large campaign apparatus.”

Despite candidate Trump’s constant bashing of the RNC during the primaries (“a ‘disgrace'”, “a scam”, “Priebus ‘should be ashamed of himself'”), “the RNC was effectively the Trump campaign staff.”

From there, the RNC targeted the most likely Republican voters.  Top of the list were those who “scored a 90 or above on a scale of 0 to 100 in the national database.”

“In Ohio,” one of the important battleground states, “out of perhaps 6 million voters, approximately 1 million would score 90 or above.  Those 1 million would be targeted for early voting ballots, and the field staff and volunteers would hound each one until the ballot was sent in.”

“Next, the field staff would move to persuade those who scored 60 or 70, trying to convince them to vote for Trump.  The system was designed to reduce the randomness of voter contact, to make sure the volunteers and field staff concentrated their efforts on those most likely to vote for Trump.”

How specific were the details on individual Republican voters in the RNC database?  It gave the GOP “insight into almost everything about every likely voter–what beer they drank, the make and color of the car they drove, the age and school of their kids, their mortgage status, the cigarettes they smoked.  Did they get a hunting license every year?  Did they subscribe to gun magazines, or liberal magazines like The New Republic.”

7. Bannon was the only Trump campaign member that believed he would win.

Throughout Fear: Trump In The White House, Steve Bannon is stubbornly steadfast in his staunch support for the GOP nominee, despite everybody else in the campaign openly espousing significant doubts especially after receiving bad press.  In Chapter Three, after reviewing their campaign strategy:

“Bannon assured Trump, I have ‘metaphysical certitude you will win here if you stick to this script and compare and contrast’ with Hillary Clinton. ‘Every underlying number is with us.'”

“Bannon said he had seen data suggesting that Ohio and Iowa could be winnable.  Also they had to win Florida and North Carolina.  Then Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota could come back to the Republicans.  It all seemed like a giant fantasy.”

For the most part, he was proven right on election day.  Trump carried every one of those states except for Minnesota.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, October 6, 2018
10:33 p.m.

Published in: on October 6, 2018 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment