President Donald Trump blasted Fox News yesterday for simply reporting various polls showing him falling farther behind with voters across the country. Trump complained that “something weird going on at Fox.” This follows the firing of Trump pollsters (including long-standing campaign aides) after poll results were leaked showing Trump behind Biden in various key states. Trump denied any such polls existed and denounced the stories as “fake news”, but later the White House admitted that they did exist. There is nothing weird going on. Just reporting.
I have previously criticized President Donald Trump for his relentless attacks on the media and his mantra of labeling such publications as the Washington Post and New York Times as “the enemy of the people.” He has also routinely called a couple dozen people and organizations “traitors,” as recently listed by Axios. This weekend Trump continued the attacks on the New York Times for a story that revealed attacks on Russia’s electric power grid. Trump declared that the publication of the article was a “virtual act of treason” — an act on a classic example of investigatory reporting. Trump’s continued attacks on the free press are not just highly embarrassing but highly disturbing from a President of the United States. With free speech, the free press is the very touchstone of liberty in our nation.
One of the great unknowns in the 2020 election is the surprising shift of many young voters and Democrats toward a socialist agenda. It is still not clear if the majority of the country is ready for such a shift though polls show growing support for socialist policies. Not to be outdone, Candi CdeBaca won a runoff race last week against former Denver city council president Albus Brooks by pledging that she would implement not socialist, but virtually communist policies “by any means necessary.”
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the recent testimony by former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean. While President Trump has personally attacked Dean, I have always liked and respected him. However, I disagree with his historical analogies. Comparisons to the Nixon case are fair, but they become forced when people insist that the conduct or record is the same. There are fundamental and likely determinative distinctions. There is a valid basis for an investigation but the record does not support the extent of comparison laid out by John Dean. John often seems to rank presidents on a Nixon scale. Yet, rather than giving Trump essentially “five Nixons,” I would put it as one or two pending further investigation. In other words, the case must still be made that this is “just like Watergate.”
In controversial interview, President Donald Trump told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office that he would accept dirt on political opponents from foreign governments and would not necessarily alert his own FBI. He further said that FBI Director Christoper Wray was “wrong” in saying that such contacts should be reported. There is nothing illegal in receiving such information for either politicians or journalists. However, it puts Trump at odds with the view not only of his own agencies but most of the public on the need to alert the FBI. In the aftermath of the interview, various Fox hosts criticized not Trump but ABC for what they portrayed as an ambush. It was not an ambush. It was a standard interview with a highly relevant (and predictable) question by Stephanopoulos. At the same time, the CNN’s Chris Cuomo is also wrong to portray this as endorsing possible criminal conduct. There is nothing illegal in accepting information from foreign intelligence figures, which was done by the Clinton campaign in the Steele Dossier. Trump has downplayed the comments.
Political cartoons are some of the oldest forms of commentary and dissent of humanity. They have had transformative effect on politics and policies, often highlighting important issues through satiric or absurd images. Indeed, a cartoon can often say in a single image what some of us struggle to explain in hundreds of words. Legendary figures from Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Nast advocated such forms of commentary. They are visual narratives that continue to be valued by readers but have been curtailed by small groups of well-organized critics. It is for that reason that the recent announcement by the New York Times is so distressing. After a controversy over a cartoon denounced as anti-Semitic, the paper will cease running political cartoons. It is the perfect embodiment of our humorous, hyper-sensitive environment of the age of rage.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) had struggled to distinguish herself from a large Democratic primary field by campaigning almost exclusively on women’s rights. That has not succeeded in moving Gillibrand from the bottom of the pack of candidates with less than one percent in most polls. However, Gillibrand doubled down this week with a startling interview where she not only pledged to impose a litmus test on any judicial nominees but said that being pro-life is equivalent to being racist or anti-Semitic.
For years, many of us have criticized Donald Trump for his signature campaign mantra of “Lock her up” against Hillary Clinton. Now, however, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) seems to be adopting a “Lock him up” pledge to jumpstart her campaign, which remains struck around fifth in the pack. Last week, Harris pledged to prosecute Trump. This morning, she said her Justice Department would have “no choice” but to prosecute Trump after he left office.
The visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington culminated in the planting of a French oak tree as a symbol of the long-standing friendship of the two nations. Unbeknownst to most watching, the tree was promptly dug back up after the ceremony and sent to quarantine. Regrettably, the tree (like relations with France) has died in quarantine.
Below is my column on the recent controversy over a threatened tariff against Mexico for its failure to stop undocumented immigrants from crossing the U.S. border. Despite the last-minute deal with Mexico purportedly avoiding the tariff, President Donald Trump was back on the weekend threatening “very profitable tariffs” on Mexico. Whatever the purpose of such tariffs, however, they are unlikely to solve our problem with unlawful immigration absent greater enforcement on this side of the border. My point is not to call for wholesale prosecutions. Indeed, the primary concern is not the hiring by families or small businesses, but rather large operations with large percentages of undocumented workers. If there government truly wants to curtail the undocumented workforce (and that is uncertain), hammering the immigrants at the border or attempting mass deportations is unlikely to succeed. There remains a striking disconnect between the level of enforcement directed at undocumented individuals as opposed to large employers of undocumented persons.
I have often criticized President Donald Trump for personal attacks and insults against critics as well as the media as a whole. We have discussed how the name calling and abuse is unpresidential. Now, in his latest attack, Trump has admitted that his attacks are “not presidential” (including his most recent statements regarding MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch). However, he then pledged to continue such unpresidential statements because they work. I am not sure which is more disturbing: not recognizing unpresidential conduct or recognizing it but pledging to continue it. Principle often requires us to forego actions or comments that would be otherwise beneficial or satisfying.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on rejection of the lawsuit by the House of Representatives against the order issued by President Donald Trump to build the wall on the Southern border under the National Emergencies Act. I had previously testified against this lawsuit as a reckless and unnecessary move by the house. It is part of a litigation strategy that is clearly driven more by political than legal calculations.
We have been discussing how the free press is under attack in both the United States and Europe. Like free speech, Western nations appear to have lost patience with free press protections. The latest example is an outrageous raid on a leading media organization in Australia. On the heels of the Assange case and other attacks on media protections, the raid on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation raises a chilling prospect that the free press could soon go the way of free speech in the West.