Sunday, September 20, 2020

What An Interesting Week!

                                                                                               written 13 September 2020

                                                                                           published 20 September 2020


            As apocalyptic wildfires ravage the west, four tell-all books hit bookstores.

            Melania And Me, by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, details how Wolkoff, a high-powered event producer and long-time friend of Melania Trump, helped produce the Trump Presidential Inauguration.  More than $107M was raised, but only $65M was spent.  When questioned about what happened to the rest of the money, the Trump administration scapegoated Wolkoff.  Her book is a refusal to accept the blame.

            Rage, by reporter Bob Woodward, describes privately taped interviews with Trump in February, revealing that Trump knew Covid-19 was much more lethal than the flu, infected children, and spread easily.  However, Trump publically dismissed the virus as a "Democratic hoax", held large indoor rallies, repeatedly stated it would disappear like magic, and refused to organize a federal response to the pandemic.  This week Trump explained he lied to the public because he "didn't want to create panic".  America still leads the world in Covid cases and deaths.

            Disloyal, by Michael Cohen, Trump's convicted former lawyer, talks about the 2008 sale of Trump's Palm Beach mansion to a Russian oligarch for $95M, more than $50M over price. Trump told Cohen he believed the money came from Putin.

            Compromised, by Peter Strzok, former head of FBI counter intelligence, states that in 2016 the FBI was concerned candidate Trump might be compromised by Russia, and started investigating, with full support of both Republicans and Democrats.  But a complete counter intelligence investigation was apparently never concluded.

            In July, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determined Russia was interfering with the current election, spreading misinformation about Biden's mental capacity to help Trump.  A report was due to be distributed to state and local law enforcement, but was quashed by politically appointed DHS officials because "it failed to meet agency standards ".  Since then the White House has been pushing the idea that Biden has "poor mental health".

            In August, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a final report, with unanimous bipartisan conclusions that Russia did interfere with the 2016 election to help Trump, and Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager, reportedly gave internal polling data to an agent of Russian intelligence.

            This week was hard on the president.

            On September 8th, an article in The Atlantic, by Jeffrey Goldberg, reported Trump referred to war dead and wounded as "suckers" and "losers" on numerous occasions.  In 2018, he refused to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris, for WWI Marines killed at Belleau Wood, because "it is filled with losers", who were "suckers for getting killed".  During the 2016 campaign, Trump disparaged John McCain, claiming "he was not a war hero", because Trump "likes people who weren't captured".  When McCain died, Trump declared he would not "support that loser's funeral", and was infuriated that the flags were flown at half-staff.  While the Atlantic report was immediately denied by the White House, it was quickly confirmed by several other sources, including Fox News.  Trump demanded Fox fire the reporter.

            On September 9th, DHS officer Brian Murphy alleged in a whistle blower complaint to the DHS Office of Inspector General, that top DHS political appointees have attempted to censor intelligence information about Russian threats to national election security because "it made the President look bad."  In addition, he was told to minimize the threat assessment from violent domestic white supremacists, and instead highlight left wing groups.  When he refused, he was demoted and reassigned.

            On September 10th, Microsoft reported discovering hundreds of hacking attacks against the Biden organization and other Democratic advocacy groups, by the same Russian state agencies involved in the 2016 election interference.  Additional attacks originated from China and Iran.  To date, Senate Republicans have refused to take any action to protect election integrity from hostile forces.

            On September 11th, the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, it was revealed the Trump administration stole $4M from a health benefits fund for New York firefighters injured that day, and the Afghan government, pressured by the US, released Taliban prisoners involved in killing American troops.

            Less than two months from the election, Trump is dealing with evidence of financial corruption, that he lies about Covid, completely disrespects the military, and is being helped by foreign powers.  Again.  How many Americans can he con this time?