The King’s Court Edition
APPROVAL ALERT AT PRESS TIME:
FiveThirtyEight Poll: 43.3% — same as last week
Rasmussen Poll: 49% — same as last week
Welcome to Trumplandia, a place where with a bit of wit and snark, we keep the world caught up on all of the tasty Nuggets-O-Trump you may have heard about but were too busy to care. Because most of this minutia occurs just below the massive headlines about the POTUS, it’s in a land of its own. Here, an infusion of social media, video clips and print media meld with our outdated political views to make more delicious “Fake News” about our Commander-in-Chief.
So just like the president, we start it all with a little tweet like this:
Roger and Me
The week of our Trump — Feb. 15, 2020: Our beloved democracy continued the traipse to autocracy this week when King Donald Dumbass not only falsely named himself the law of the land, but also appeared to put his tiny orange thumb on the scales of justice in the case of one of his political cronies.
In case you aren’t a political junkie, federal judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Trumpian bag man Roger Stone to 40 months in prison this week for lying to Congress and threatening a witness in relation to his ties to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Russian hacking and WikiLeaks.
Trump caused a stir last week when he — in an unprecedented move — criticized Stone’s recommended sentencing of 7 to 10 years. In a blatant abuse of power, Trump attempted to interfere with the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. Trump said his old pal had been “treated very badly” by federal prosecutors, who backed the sentencing guidelines.
Shortly after his comments, U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued a second memo from the Department of Justice that called the initial federal sentencing guidelines “excessive and unwarranted” and suggested Stone get less time in jail. Barr’s stance appeared in lockstep with our autocrat-in-chief despite denials of any discussion between him and the president.
The four prosecutors who brought the case against Stone withdrew from the case in protest of Barr’s stance. Identified as Aaron Zelinsky, Johnathan Kravis, Adam Jed and Mike Marando, the four were commended by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- Ca.), but drubbed by the president and not supported by their boss, Barr.
Trump, for his part, denied pressuring Barr to issue his revised memo on Stone’s sentencing, but after being categorized by his spokesperson as having the legal authority to do so, the president turned his sights to the prosecutors he characterized as “rogue” and “corrupt.”
The president also attacked the judge and members of the jury.
During the sentencing on Feb. 20, Jackson settled on more than three years for the 67-year-old Stone because he lied to Congress and the House Intelligence Committee in 2017. The Judge said Stone “wasn’t prosecuted for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”
During Trump’s campaign for the presidency, Stone reached into his bag of dirty political tricks and launched smear campaigns against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. He bragged about his alleged ties to renegade media outlet WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Stone bragged he could get material for Trump’s campaign while simultaneously denying to have the same ties he admitted having to WikiLeaks.
He was indicted in January 2019 and convicted on all seven counts in November, including lying to Congress, obstructing Congress from reviewing relevant documents while being questioned as part of the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. During the trial, Stone tweeted out sensitive information, posted a picture of Judge Jackson in the crosshairs of a rifle, and threatened former Trump campaign official Randy Credico, who testified against Stone.
Jackson later issued a gag order against Stone and threatened to hold him in contempt if he continued to discuss court proceedings in the public domain while he was on trial.
Stone has pushed for a new trial, but the entire matter has caused what some have termed a civil war in the U.S. Department of Justice. More the 1,100 former DOJ employees came out this week and signed a letter urging Barr to resign over the handling of the Stone sentencing. The letter stated:
“Mr. Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words. Those actions, and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice’s reputation for integrity and the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign.”
Signatures were gathered for the letter by Protect Democracy, a group that has been critical of Barr’s lying about the report on Russia’s meddling in our elections by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
This week, more shallow rumors circulated that Barr is considering resigning. He has said publicly that Trump’s tweets made his job difficult and further urged him to stop posting to social media about ongoing DOJ matters. The president this week continued to defy the AG’s requests.
Trump this week pardoned and commuted the sentences of 11 people, including some with political ties, but stated at his rally in Las Vegas on Feb. 20 that he would not rule out pardoning the newly sentenced Stone:
“I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States. I want the process to play out. I think that’s the best thing to do. Because I would love to see Roger (Stone) exonerated and I’d love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly.”
Wiki, Wiki, Wiki
What a difference a presidential term makes.
Way back in 2016 President Trump proclaimed his love for the former WikiLeaks website and its proclivity for releasing secret, hard-to-find documents.
Directly confessing his love for WikiLeaks after Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s personal e-mail had been mysteriously hacked, we have since learned the breach was not accidental, almost certainly was part of a coordinated effort involving people tied to Russia and the Trump campaign.
On July 22, 2016, just before the Democratic National Convention was set to begin, WikiLeaks posted the DNC e-mail archive of about 20,000 stolen emails and other sensitive documents. The leaks were exploited and led to a Russian disinformation campaign against Clinton and the Democrats, and at least appeared to help Trump win the White House.
Trump has denied the Kremlin played any role in his big, beautiful presidential victory. This despite all U.S. intelligence agencies verifying Russian interference. Even at the end of the Mueller investigation, Trump denied any knowledge of Russian hacking and deemed himself exonerated of any wrongdoing despite Mueller’s finding at least 10 occasions that Trump had obstructed justice to torpedo the investigation.
This week, Assange who was arrested on spying charges and is being held in a British prison while fighting extradition to the U.S., spoke about 2016. During a preliminary hearing, Assange acknowledged an open tie between himself, Trump and Russian hacking of the election. Assange’s attorney, Edward Fitzgerald, also said that former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Ca.) visited him in 2017 as Assange was seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and had this to say:
“Mr. Rohrabacher going to see Mr. Assange and saying on instruction from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr. Assange said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.”
The statement seemed to confirm a tie between Trump and the Russian hacks he has denied.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham deemed Fitzgerald’s statement “completely false” and further stated that Trump “barely knows Rohrabacher.”
Assange, who is awaiting extradition hearings and due in court next week, has been charged by U.S. officials with espionage. If convicted, he could face as much as 175 years in prison. Seen as an avenging journalist to the anarchist class, Assange argues the leaks should be protected by the First Amendment.
In an interview with Newsweek, Rohrabacher this week seemed to corroborate Assange’s story. He said he offered Assange a pardon, if he could prove Russia did not hack the DNC in 2016. Rohrabacher ssaid he met with Assange in 2017 and offered the possibility of a pardon:
“He knew I could get to the president,” Rohrabacher said, stating he floated the idea to then Chief of Staff John Kelly. Rohrabacher said he was not aware if Kelly discussed his idea with Trump.
Since Assange’s claim, no additional comment has come from the White House on the alleged pardon offer.
If you thought pardoning 11 baddies and firing his enemies should be exhilarating enough for our impeached commander-in-chief, you’d be wrong.
Donnie paid homage to his many followers who had come to watch the 62nd Annual Daytona 500 on Sunday by not only serving as grand marshal for the event, but also taking an in-your-face victory lap around the historic Florida racetrack in his plus-size, bullet-proof presidential limo – “The Beast.”
Just weeks after being acquitted in his Senate trial for impeachment, Trump first gave the opening command of “Gentleman, start your engines,” before hopping into the presidential limousine and playing race car driver in front of roughly 100,000 cheering fans.
Trump is only the second U.S. president to appear at the NASCAR event. President George W. Bush appeared there in 2004.
Cheese-o-rificly cheesy in his over-the-top patriotic tropes during interviews after the event, a jubilant Trump reveled in the glow of his cult-like supporters. Trump 2020 flags filled the infield, with some race fans wearing the signs as capes in the garage area. All 12 drivers were treated to a personal meet-and-greet with the 45th president and FLOTUS.
“A legendary display of roaring engines, soaring spirits and the American skill, speed and power that we’ve been hearing about for so many years. The tens of thousands of patriots here today have come for the fast cars and the world-class motorsports. But NASCAR fans never forget that no matter who wins the race, what matters most is God, family and country.”