(CNN)The 2020 Democratic presidential contenders are already discussing the issues that will help to determine who wins the party’s nomination. But rather than one policy issue such as health care or foreign policy, polling is making it clear that something else will be key to success in the primary: President Donald Trump.
(CNN)Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz teased his potential 2020 presidential run with a “pox on both your houses” approach to Democrats and Republicans, hoping to seize on general antipathy toward the nation’s two-party system.
(CNN)The most important thing to understand about Donald Trump is that, well, he’s always been like this. From the time he became a major player in New York real estate until this very second, he’s always been the exact same guy: Obsessed with winning, certain of his own greatness, unapologetic about those he steps on to achieve his goals and hyper-aware of what people are saying about him.
As soon as I read the explosive BuzzFeed News report alleging there was evidence that President Trump had directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, I was very suspicious.
Even before the Office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued a statement Friday night saying that the BuzzFeed account was “not accurate,” I wrote an op-ed for the New York Daily News raising questions about whether there was actually credible evidence that Trump suborned perjury or obstructed justice by telling Cohen to lie to lawmakers.
It seemed obvious that there were no smoking gun emails containing any such direction from the president. Nor would there be eyewitnesses to any such alleged conversation.
Unlike the obstruction of justice case that led to articles of impeachment being drafted against President Nixon and his resignation – where tape recordings proved criminal conduct by Nixon – the accusations against President Trump would have to rely on the credibility of Cohen, who has a long history of lying and little if any credibility.
In fact, Cohen was sentenced in federal court in December to three years in prison after pleading guilty to lying to Congress, campaign finance violations and financial crimes.
President Trump’s spokeswoman and his lawyers strongly disputed the BuzzFeed report, which was published Thursday, even before the statement from Mueller’s spokesman knocking down the story.
“Two words sum it up better than anything anybody else can say, and that is ‘categorically false,’” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday.
The anti-Trump pundits have been wrong so often that the only people who persist in believing them are Trump opponents who dream of seeing him forced out of office and maybe even winding up in prison.
That was followed by the Friday night statement of Mueller spokesman Peter Carr, who said: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.”
But despite the obvious weakness of the BuzzFeed report, many members of the “get Trump at any cost” brigade were busy digging Trump’s political grave and getting ready to dance on it soon after the BuzzFeed report became the focus of massive news coverage.
Prominent congressional Democrats speculated about impeaching President Trump or calling for his resignation – and made plenty of false analogies to the articles of impeachment that had been drafted in the Nixon case.
As is typical of the “get Trump” media, wishful thinking took the place of thoughtful analysis and journalistic skepticism.
The anti-Trump pundits have been wrong so often that the only people who persist in believing them are Trump opponents who dream of seeing him forced out of office and maybe even winding up in prison.
By any objective standard, these self-appointed media “experts” have lost all credibility.
I wish the media would go back and show the categorical statements and confident predictions of their paid commentators who have been proven wrong so many times. Their record of accurate predictions is nothing to brag about.
In fact, BuzzFeed itself has repeatedly misreported allegations against President Trump. Even after Mueller’s office made the rare public statement Friday night to say that the BuzzFeed reporting was not accurate, BuzzFeed defended its accusation that President Trump had told Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations by the Trump Organization to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
BuzzFeed Editor Ben Smith tweeted Friday night: “We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”
Cohen had testified before Congress that negotiations on the Trump Tower deal – which never was finalized – ended in January 2016, before the beginning of presidential primaries. But prosecutors said later that the negotiations continued as late as June 2016, after Trump was clearly going to become the Republican presidential candidates.
Now that Mueller’s office has stated the BuzzFeed report that Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress about the negotiations was not accurate, how can the BuzzFeed possibly say the special counsel’s office is wrong?
Do the journalists at BuzzFeed know something the special counsel and his team of prosecutors and investigators don’t know? Do these reporters and editors think the special counsel is not being accurate? Or are they doubling down to avoid the embarrassment of admitting they were wrong?
The American people are the real victims of “wishful thinking” journalism – the reporting of items journalists wish were true rather than items that pass journalistic standards.
The public has no way of discerning good reporting from wishful reporting, particularly when the reporting is based on unidentified sources.
The worst offenders are the so-called expert commentators who pollute the media with unfounded and biased speculation based on partisan agendas rather than real expertise and experience.
The media should have standards – based on proven track records of accuracy – that their commentators must satisfy before they can opine or predict.
I must admit that my hope for more accurate reporting and less partisan commenting is itself wishful thinking, but there is a place for such thinking. That place is not in reporting facts or predicting outcomes.
The job of the media is to report the facts – not to engage in endless speculation without a factual basis.
(CNN)Out-of-this-world news for fans of “The Office,” outer space and subtle jabs at President Donald Trump: Steve Carell is set to star in a TV series called “Space Force” for Netflix.
Late night host Jimmy Kimmel mocked the outrage that targeted the retail store Forever 21 over a sweater inspired by the 2018 hit film “Black Panther.”
On the store’s website, the retailer debuted a new ugly Christmas-style sweater that read “Wakanda Forever,” which is a phrased used in the superhero flick. However, the sweater was worn by a white model, which angered critics since “Black Panther” is based in the fictitious African nation of Wakanda.
Forever 21 took down the picture featuring the model wearing the sweater and offered an apology.
“Forever 21 takes feedback on our products and marketing extremely seriously. We celebrate all superheroes with many different models of various ethnicities and apologize if the photo in question was offensive in any way,” the store said in a statement.
Well, none of this sat well with the ABC star.
Kimmel began by poking fun at the model, saying that Forever 21 didn’t just use a white model, they used the “whitest model in the world.”
“Of course, because everyone is outraged now at all times, people flipped out about this online, a lot of people called this offensive, but who is this offensive to, Wakandans?” Kimmel asked. “If so, I have a newsflash; Wakanda is not a real place! Basically what happened is a white man wore a sweater with the name of an imaginary country on it, an imaginary country that was made up by a white man, by the way. Is it possible to appropriate a culture that does not exist?”
The “Jimmy Kimmel Live” host chuckled at Forever 21’s new replacement, which is just the sweater without any model wearing it.
“Thanos snapped his fingers and made the white guy disappear,” Kimmel joked. “You know what I bet happened? I bet none of the black models wanted to be photographed in that horrible sweater. They were like, ‘Eh, you know what? Let the white guy wear it.’”
“This is why we have Donald Trump, by the way, because people get worked up about this,” Kimmel added.
Confirmation proceedings for President Trump’s judicial nominees have partially stalled on Capitol Hill, as outgoing Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake is standing firm in his vow to oppose all Trump nominations until the Senate votes on legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
Flake, a frequent Trump critic who opted against running for re-election this year, followed through on his threat Wednesday afternoon and joined Democrats in opposing a bid to advance Thomas Farr’s nomination to serve on the federal bench for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Vice President Pence was then forced to break a tie on a procedural vote, in a rare Senate intervention.
A final confirmation vote on Farr’s nomination had been expected Thursday, but Fox News has learned it has now been pushed until at least Dec. 3.
While nominees like Farr may narrowly advance on the floor, proceedings at the committee level are stuck for now. Late Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee canceled plans for a Thursday meeting to vote on a long list of judicial nominees. Flake is a member of that committee. None of the nominations would have been favorably moved out of the committee if all Democrats plus Flake voted no.
Meanwhile, nominees already passed out of committee could be confirmed on the floor, though they may result in more airtight votes requiring Pence to serve as tie-breaker.
Flake, along with Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons and New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, on Wednesday tried to use a parliamentary maneuver to pave the way for a vote on the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which would shield Mueller from inappropriate removal or political pressure.
Flake asked for unanimous consent to vote on the bill, but Utah Sen. Mike Lee objected, blocking the effort.
The three lawmakers expressed concern over comments made by President Trump, who has called the Mueller probe a “phony witch hunt,” as well as Trump’s ousting of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“It’s clear, therefore, something has to be done to protect Mr. Mueller’s investigation,” Flake said on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
The Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act mandates that a special counsel can only be fired for good cause by a senior Justice Department official.
Earlier this month, Flake said on the Senate floor, “I have informed the majority leader I will not vote to advance any of the 21 judicial nominees pending in the Judiciary Committee or vote to confirm the 32 judges awaiting confirmation on the Senate floor until … [the bill] is brought to the full Senate for a vote.”
Some Republicans counter that the bill is unnecessary.
“This is a solution in search of a problem,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters this week.
Still, with Flake’s vow complicating GOP efforts to confirm Trump’s judicial nominees, The Hill reported Thursday that the Republican leadership is privately measuring support for the bill, and considering whether to hold a vote on it to satisfy Flake.
During Tuesday’s briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders denied that the president is considering firing Mueller.
“Look, I think that the president has had Robert Mueller doing his job for the last two years, and he could’ve taken action at any point, and he hasn’t. So we’ll let that speak for itself,” she said.
Sanders added, “He has no intent to do anything.”
Other Republicans also are signaling, for other reasons, they are willing to hold up Congress’ agenda — including a spending bill meant to avert a partial government shutdown. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on Wednesday suggested he may refuse to vote on other issues until the Senate hears from the CIA about the murder of Saudi activist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I’m not going to be denied the ability to be briefed by the CIA,” Graham to you need me for to get out of town, I ain’t doing it until we hear from the CIA.”
As for judicial nominees, while Farr’s nomination advanced with Pence’s support Wednesday, it’s not clear whether he will still have the votes of all Republicans in the final floor vote.
The Farr nomination has been controversial, with all 49 Democrats opposing Farr, arguing that Farr discriminated against African Americans through his rulings on voting laws.
“Mr. Farr defended North Carolina’s absurdly restrictive voter ID law, also passed by the conservative Republican state legislature, and they tailored their election laws to disadvantage African-American voters after requesting race-specific data on voting practices,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said.
Republicans, meanwhile, are standing behind Farr.
“The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary — a body that’s frequently been held up by my Democratic colleagues as the ‘gold standard’ — has awarded Mr. Farr its highest possible rating: unanimously well qualified,” McConnell said.
Fox News’ Jason Donner and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.
Federal agents Thursday raided two offices of a powerful Chicago alderman whose law firm represented President Trump for more than a decade, though it was not immediately clear whether the operation was related to the president.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that approximately 15 agents arrived at Edward Burke’s office in Chicago City Hall with cardboard boxes at approximately 7:30 a.m. The paper reported that the agents asked everyone in the office to leave and taped brown paper over the windows. Another team of agents showed up at Burke’s office in the city’s 14th Ward and papered over the windows there. The Sun-Times reported that the agents left the ward office with a cardboard file box, a computer and two computer monitors. The paper’s report added that agents left Burke’s City Hall office approximately seven hours after they arrived, doing so by a back way to avoid waiting reporter
The Chicago Tribune, citing a law enforcement source, reported that no arrests were made or were imminent. The nature of the investigation was not known.
Burke, a Democrat, is the longest-serving alderman in Chicago history, having first been elected in 1969. He has been caught up in several federal investigations during his time in politics, most notably a 1990s probe into so-called “ghost payrolling” in city government.
“As you are aware, there have previously been several other investigations such as this,” Burke said in a statement to the Tribune. “In every instance we cooperated fully. And in every instance nothing has been found. So once again we will be cooperating fully and I am completely confident that at the end of the day nothing will be found amiss in this instance either.”
He is also the lead partner in the law firm of Klafter and Burke, which represented Trump in property tax disputes involving the city’s Trump International Hotel and Tower, which opened in 2009.
Burke has filed at least six lawsuits on Trump’s behalf that have sought to recoup millions of dollars in property taxes. According to the Sun-Times, Burke’s firm saved Trump more than $ 14.1 million between 2009 and 2015 by persuading the Cook County Assessor and the Cook County Board of Review to lower the value of hotel rooms and retail space owned by Trump.
The law firm also has handled property tax appeals for another Chicago building owned by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.
In May, Burke announced that his firm no longer was representing Trump, citing “irreconcilable differences.” At the time, the Trump Organization was seeking property tax refunds in five separate cases.
Burke, who is up for re-election in February in an increasingly Hispanic ward, had come under growing pressure over his relationship with a president known for his hard-line views on immigration.
“In the five decades that Ald. Burke has been in office, he has used his position to enrich himself and his political cronies while being an impediment to political progress and community empowerment,” former Chicago mayoral candidate and U.S. Rep.-elect Chuy Garcia said in a statement. “Make no mistake: Ald. Burke is the last bastion of Chicago machine politics.
“Burke’s legacy over half a century will be obstructing Harold Washington, Chicago’s only reform Mayor, cutting Donald Trump’s property taxes on the backs of working families, feeding at the trough of greed and corruption, and finally being caught for his own misdeeds,” Garcia added. “All of Chicago is hoping justice finally prevails.”
Another celebrity woman is making news as she accuses President Trump of the misogyny in which she is wading.
Singer and actor Barbra Streisand is following on the heels of her hero Hillary Clinton by condemning women who voted for Trump as mindless sheeple. While promoting her new album, she told the Daily Mail, “A lot of women vote the way their husbands vote; they don’t believe enough in their own thoughts. Maybe that woman who’s so articulate, so experienced and so fit for the presidency [Hillary] was too intimidating.”
Here is a supposed champion for women declaring other women who think for themselves as not just controlled by their husbands, but lacking in any self-esteem, and even jealous of Monica Lewinsky’s ex-boyfriend’s wife.
Sure, Barbra, sure.
Mrs. Clinton shocked liberals and conservatives alike when she first lobbed this sexist bomb at women who dared to not conform, during a speech in India in March 2018. On foreign soil, she insulted American women as dumb and controlled, and everyone else who didn’t vote for her as racist, petty and malevolent.
The Washington Times reported, “Speaking at a conference in Mumbai, the former secretary of state said that Democrats typically perform poorly with white men and married, white women, in part, because of the ‘ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should …’ ‘You know, You didn’t like black people getting rights? You don’t like women, you know, getting jobs? You don’t want to, you know, see that Indian American succeeding more than you are? Whatever your problem is – I’m going to solve it,’ she said.”
In the aftermath of Mrs. Clinton’s remarks, Patrice Onwuka, a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum, reminded us in a column in The Hill that this misogyny of dismissing women as useless zombies is a belief throughout the liberal leadership.
She wrote, “Michelle Obama enlightened us that any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton ‘voted against their own voice,’ because ‘you don’t like your voice. You like the thing you’re told to like.’ Gloria Steinem belittled Democratic women supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders over Mrs. Clinton, saying they did so just because ‘they wanted to attract men.’ So much for supporting independent thinking.”
But don’t you dare forget that it’s Trump who’s the sexist.
If the Democrats think these insults brought women back into the fold in 2018, they would be making a mistake. The women who did not vote for Republicans in the midterms were not embracing the Democrats as much as they were sending a warning shot over the bow of the Republican ghost ship.
On the many lessons Republicans need to learn after the midterms, Heather Higgins noted in her column: “In 2010, the Right told voters that if elected, they would stop the Affordable Care Act, then promised it again in 2012, 2014 and 2016. They didn’t deliver. Lack of credibility was a massive problem for incumbents – making 2018 far tougher than 2016. The GOP has done pretty well on keeping promises to address taxes and the Supreme Court, but they need to think hard about how to earn back trust they squandered, particularly on health care.”
Conservatives know policy and ideas matter. Democrats and their famous liberal allies like Streisand remain the party of bullies, as they focus on trying to insult and intimidate their way into power.
They also like to mislead. Streisand made her comments in an interview with the Daily Mail while promoting her new album, “Walls,” within which is a song targeting Trump as a bad, bad man. The lyrics of “Don’t Lie To Me” are perplexing: “How do you sleep when the world keeps turning? / All that we built has come undone / How do you sleep when the world is burning?”
She’s right, many things have come undone since Trump became president, like …
The cancer of ISIS. The mad rush in North Korea to build a nuclear ICBM. MS-13’s sex-trafficking network, drug dealing, kidnapping and general terrorizing of immigrant communities and major urban areas. The opioid epidemic. Record high poverty levels, unemployment rates, and reliance on food stamps. Many coming undone, and all being addressed.
One could guess that Trump not only sleeps at night, he sleeps well, just like the rest of us. As far as “the world burning,” it’s the burn of realizing America is back and the nonsense of shrugging at the Islamic State terror group, looking away as Syria gassed its own people, and sending a pallet of $ 150 billion to the terrorist and criminal Iranian regime, are over.
As far as women allowing men to control their behavior, Streisand does give us one example of the problem. Brian Flood at Fox News reported on another complaint the singer made in her Daily Mail interview, “Streisand also told the outlet that she’s currently on a diet, even blaming Trump for her recent cravings. ‘This president made me anxious and hungry for pancakes. Buckwheat pancakes. I had to put butter on them and maple syrup to ease the pain,’ Streisand said.”
Streisand could serve as even a more serious role model for liberals everywhere by not allowing a complete stranger, whom she loathes, to control what she eats and how she treats her body. Just a thought.
ABC News’ “The View” co-host Joy Behar declared on Thursday that it would be “a good day for Donald Trump to resign.”
The panel discussed the latest development in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, such as Michael Cohen admitting to lying to Congress and President Trump declaring that a pardon for Paul Manafort is not off the table.
Co-host Whoopi Goldberg theatrically updated viewers on developments, calling it a “giant soap opera.”
Behar chimed in, saying it’s like a reality show that “we’re all trapped in the middle of,” before co-host Sunny Hostin accused the president of lying to the American people about potentially building a Trump Tower in Russia.
Behar pointed out that Trump’s defenders feel there was never a deal for the alleged Russian Trump Tower, so none of this is a big deal.
“It is a big deal. If these negotiations were going on while he was president, it’s precisely what the framers of our constitution wrote in to protect the American people against because we want to make sure that this president, any president, is not putting his self-interest before the interest of the country,” Hostin said.
“Today is a good day for Donald Trump to resign. I really believe that,” Behar said. “Donald, do it for me.”
Co-host Meghan McCain pivoted the conversation back to Manafort, calling him a “traitor” to America.
‘Today is a good day for Donald Trump to resign… Donald, do it for me.’
“The thing that makes me most angry is the idea that Paul Manafort could possibly be pardoned. His relationship with Trump aside, his lobbying firm was nicknamed the torturers’ lobby for spinning foreign dictatorships,” McCain said. “Blood money. He’s a traitor to the United States of America one way or the other.”
Behar then said Trump should “save the pardons for his children.”
The ABC News program has regained popularity and relevance during the Trump administration with constant over-the-top commentary aimed at the president. Last month, Hostin even said she wouldn’t be surprised if President Trump lied to the American people about a terror attack because he has “improper phone etiquette.”
Behar – who is typically the loudest anti-Trump voice on the panel – celebrated her 20th anniversary on “The View” on Thursday. She recently apologized after saying “God forbid” Trump lives another 20 years and has come under fire for mocking Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian faith.