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Outrageous False Trump-Clinton Equivalencies Are Distorting The Election

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Outrageous False Trump-Clinton Equivalencies Are Distorting The Election

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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet. 

As national polls released Tuesday show a tightening or virtually tied presidential race, voters are being deluged with new revelations about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump that are far from equivalent measures of their characters and fitness for office.

On the Democratic side, the solo and apparently illegal decision by FBI Director James Comey to alert Congress that the agency wants to examine newly discovered emails from the ex-secretary of state has become a gut-punch to a campaign that was rising in the polls. There is no recent precedent for Comey’s action, which violates FBI rules of not commenting on investigations and interfering in elections. Yet Comey’s letter to Congress last Friday has cut into voter enthusiasm for Clinton, polls released Tuesday found, even though it is long on innuendo and short on substance.

On the Republican side, in contrast, a string of new evidence-based revelations about Trump this week reinforce a lifelong pattern of self-centered and deviant behavior that questions his fitness for any public office. There’s his refusal to pay a top campaign consultant nearly three-quarters of a million dollars owed, just as Trump didn’t pay hundreds of contractors when building his casinos. There’s Trump using now-banned tax-avoidance tactics to evade tens of millions of dollars in federal taxes, basically claiming his investors’ losses—other people’s money—as his own. There is Trump destroying emails and other legal records over decades of litigation, even as he hits Clinton for erasing personal emails. And most insidiously, there is a series of reports saying he has longstanding links to Russia’s government, which is seen as overtly and covertly helping Trump’s presidential campaign.

The biggest double standard is that the FBI has been investigating links between Trump and Russia—apparently going beyond this year’s hack into Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails. Yet astoundingly, Comey has said he did not want to tell Congress about that probe on the eve of an election, even though it raises serious national security questions; namely, what are Trump’s loyalties and debts to his Russian backers?

Let’s go through these false equivalencies and loose ends.

1. The ‘Comey Effect’ tightens race, cuts enthusiasm for Clinton. The bombshell about the investigation broke last Friday, just before the latest Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll was conducted. That poll, whose results were released Tuesday, found Trump with a one-point lead (46 to 45 percent), which is a statistical tie. More insidious was its finding that Clinton’s base suffered a 10-point drop in supporters who are “very enthusiastic.” While no single poll can be seen as definitive—especially when 25 million people have already voted nationally—the unambiguous takeaway is that Comey’s disclosure has impacted the race and hurt a presidential frontrunner’s campaign.

It’s important to note that just because the FBI is examining emails from Clinton found on former congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop, there is no indication the agency will announce anything before Election Day. It’s very likely the FBI has already seen most of these emails, as it has examined the computers of Weiner’s estranged wife, Huma Abedin, who is a top Clinton aide. Should the FBI find previously unseen emails, there’s no indication that any would contain classified material and not personal banter. Nonetheless, this new investigation is letting Republicans talk about something other than Trump, which is helping them.

2. There is an FBI investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia. There is, without dispute, an FBI investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. The question is not if one exists, but what is its scope? Major newspapers such as the New York Times have reported the FBI is looking into ties between top Trump advisers and Russian financial interests, as well as Russian-led hacking into Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails. Other breaking news reports this week have pointed to potentially deeper ties. On Monday, Slate.com published a lengthy report based on an investigation by computer scientists who traced a server that was sending messages between Trump’s offices and Russia, although they could not tell what its purpose was. Also Monday, MotherJones.com’s David Corn wrote a report quoting notes an ex-spy from a U.S. ally gave the FBI about how Russia has for years “tried to co-opt and assist Trump.”

In response to MoJo’s story, Matthew Miller, a former Department of Justice spokesman, tweeted, “No other conclusion can be drawn from this story but that the FBI is officially investigating Trump for coordination with Moscow.” That is not a far-fetched conclusion, considering that Paul Manafort, Trump’s ex-campaign manager, was forced to resign last summer over reports he was paid millions in cash while working for pro-Russia candidates in Ukraine.

But let’s be clear: There is no equivalency between these probes. On the campaign trail, Trump has called Clinton’s use of a private email server, “the biggest scandal since Watergate.” That is another huge distortion, as the Watergate scandal involved a presidential conspiracy to target enemies, spy on them, steal their private files, and cover it up. If anything, it is Trump’s weird, unexplained links to Russia, and Comey’s one-sided decision to talk about Clinton and not Trump, that may be the biggest presidential campaign scandal since Watergate.

3. While Trump assails Clinton over emails, he’s destroyed records defying court orders. Also Monday, Newsweek published a report by Kurt Eichenwald tracing Trump’s decades-long record of destroying and hiding “thousands” of emails, records and other documents in ongoing lawsuits.

“Over the course of decades, Donald Trump’s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders,” the report begins. “These tactics—exposed by a Newsweek review of thousands of pages of court filings, judicial orders and affidavits from an array of court cases—have enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump. In each instance, Trump and entities he controlled also erected numerous hurdles that made lawsuits drag on for years, forcing courtroom opponents to spend huge sums of money in legal fees as they struggled—sometimes in vain—to obtain records.”

Trump’s brazen hypocrisy is nothing new. But the false equivalency here is that Clinton has said the 30,000 emails her legal team erased were personal, whereas Trump’s missing document trail was business-related and connected to disputes resulting in litigation.

4. More evidence of ‘crooked Donald,’ the boss who doesn’t pay his bills or taxes.There was more evidence as the week began that Trump’s word cannot be trusted, adding to his long track record of doing whatever is best for him. It’s been widely reported that Trump has stiffed hundreds of small businesses that built his resorts, pushing many into bankruptcy or financial hardship. Now a top Republican pollster hired by the campaign is feeling the same pain, according to the Washington Post.

“The Trump campaign’s latest Federal Election Commission report shows that it is disputing nearly $767,000 that Fabrizio’s firm says it is still owed,” the Post reported Monday. “Fabrizio was an ally of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who persuaded a skeptical Trump in the spring that he needed a professional pollster. The abrupt departure of Manafort in August and Trump’s hiring of pollster Kellyanne Conway to be his campaign manager raised questions about whether Fabrizio would stay on. There have also been multiple reports that Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have rejected Fabrizio’s advice.”

This pattern of doing whatever is best for Trump at everyone else’s expense was also displayed in a New York Times report Tuesday, which described how Trump used “a tax avoidance measure so legally dubious his own lawyers advised him that the Internal Revenue Service would most likely declare it improper if he was audited. Thanks to this one maneuver, which was later outlawed by Congress, Mr. Trump potentially escaped paying tens of millions of dollars in federal personal income taxes.”

Simply said, Trump claimed the losses his investors suffered in a New Jersey casino project as his own—meaning he used other people’s money to avoid paying taxes. He disguised that move by giving his banks and investors shares in a worthless casino partnership. That covered up that he wasn’t relieved of that debt (which is taxable) by his investors. “He deducted someone else’s losses,” a former congressional tax expert told the Times. “He is double-dipping big time.”

False Equivalencies, Loose Ends

These new disclosures about Trump—the FBI investigating his ties with Russia; his long record of destroying legal documents related to ongoing lawsuits; not paying in full for agreed-upon services; not paying tens of millions in income taxes—cannot be compared in any substantive way to whatever mistakes Clinton made while using a private email server as secretary of state.

And yet, because FBI director Comey told Congress he wants to look at some more Clinton emails found in a related case, a pall has been cast on her campaign, and its effect is being seen in the latest polls in the form of declining voter enthusiasm and tightening presidential and Senate races. Meanwhile, Comey doesn’t think he needs to say anything to Congress about the FBI investigation into the ties between Trump and the Russian government because it might unduly affect the election’s outcome. On Tuesday, Clinton’s campaign manager, Robbie Mook, accused Comey of a “double standard,” but that is an understatement.

It’s worth pondering the concluding thoughts in Eichenwald’s Newsweek investigation about Trump’s real-life behavior. Voters who are having second thoughts about Clinton because of the FBI director’s one-sided intrusion into the campaign’s finale need to be clear-eyed if they don’t vote for her.

“This review of Trump’s many decades of abusing the judicial system, ignoring judges, disregarding rules, destroying documents and lying about it is not simply a sordid history lesson,” Eichenwald wrote. “Rather, it helps explain his behavior since he declared his candidacy. He promised to turn over his tax returns and his health records—just as he promised to comply with document discovery requirements in so many lawsuits—then reneged. As a result, he has left a sparse evidentiary trail that can be used to assess his wealth, his qualifications for the presidency or even his fitness. Should voters choose him to be the next U.S. president, he will enter the Oval Office as a mystery, a man who has repeatedly flouted the rules. He has solemnly told the country to trust him while refusing to produce any records to prove whether he speaks the truth or has utter contempt for it.”

IMAGE: Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
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22 Comments

  1. AgLander November 2, 2016

    Up to date polls show Trump is surging in all the key swing states. Outright panic has hit the Clinton campaign as they witness America’s most notorious free roaming felon in a state of free fall. This look like 1980 all over again with Reagan/Carter! Hillary Clinton’s #1 challenge is no longer the presidential election. Her biggest challenge now is to find some way to cop a plea and avoid prison time as those 650,000 pieces of incriminating evidence are exposed and a case built against her by an FBI that is finally being allowed to do their job!

    Reply
    1. I Am Helpy November 2, 2016

      Hahahaha calm down and lose with whatever tattered shreds of dignity you have left. No need to embarrass your woman-hating self with imaginary polls.

      Reply
      1. JPHALL November 2, 2016

        ISN’T IT FUNNY THAT JUST LAST WEEK THEY (AGATHA AND THE OTHER GIRLS) WERE CRYING ABOUT THE RIGGED POLLS?

        Reply
        1. I Am Helpy November 2, 2016

          Also the FBI!

          Reply
    2. Thoughtopsy November 2, 2016

      So how much does the Trump campaign pay you to defend a genital-grabbing, bankrupt, currently involved in 75 lawsuits, including one for a scam university, and another for raping a 13 year old girl?

      Must be fun wallowing around in the history of such a human sewer and trying to find ways of distracting debate from his glaring flaws, and angry word salad.

      I wonder what you’ll do after Herr Donald loses so massively?
      Your efforts will have been wasted, but the immoral goo you’ve rubbed yourself in will still stick…

      Reply
    3. Independent1 November 2, 2016

      Like Trump, you clearly have absolutely no moral compass and are as big a lowlife and as depraved as he is. I’m surprised you can actually wallow out of the gutter enough to get somewhere outside the scum you live in to make these moronic posts that you burden us with. My only solace is that you will be consumed by fire for eternity because of all the pathological lies you spew.

      Reply
    4. Independent1 November 3, 2016

      And by the way, you may be very surprised to find that come election day, a sizeable portion of Trump’s supporters will be barred from voting because many of them are the kind of people the GOP thinks vote Democratic and therefore have deliberately decided to keep them from voting via their voter suppression tactics.

      Reply
    5. Daniel Jones November 3, 2016

      Dream on. Come Tuesday, you are going to be left flailing, and I am going to be laughing.

      Reply
  2. 1standlastword November 2, 2016

    The only indisputable equivalency is both Clinton and Trump are the two most unpopular presidential candidates in the history of our republic! Beyond that Trump is a clinical certified variant of a narcissistic– sociopath and Clinton is your typical overly ambitious establishment professional career politician whose been around during good times and really bad times and in the process acquired phenomenal wealth and a bevy of blood thirsty enemies over her many many decades at the top end of government service.

    Anytime a person has been around at the top for as long as Clinton they can be targeted for making some mistakes and bad decisions costly to we the People. It’s not ‘so much’ the fact, her being a woman as it is her being a woman playing-like-a-man in a traditionally man’s game; she is viewed as a politician with all the ‘contamination’ that comes with the role. And it’s the fact that Trump is not a politician that he uses to his great advantage

    Now, I want to put a different spin on this that might explain Clinton’s high unfavorables with Progressives and Independents.

    It’s short, sweet and simple:

    The DNC chose Clinton and set her up. The rules were fixed for Clinton and the ‘push’ within the party was for Clinton.

    Sanders was not the preferred candidate and he NEVER had a chance.

    Clinton is NOT a true progressive (and neither is Obama for that matter) but she’ running with a hybrid platform to win Sander’s supporters and people don’t trust she’s truly wedded to progressive principles. Those are the ONLY people she’s losing now and that is a significant.

    Now as for Trump: It’s a NO brainer!!!

    I blame the G-no-P for him!

    So in the end it’ our flawed two party system in the background that is the sponsor of this election season nightmare!!!!! Trump and Clinton are simply playing out their roles.

    Reply
    1. I Am Helpy November 2, 2016

      Clinton’s unpopularity is almost entirely confined to the Republican base; she’s roughly as popular as Obama with Democratic voters.

      She’s also far more progressive than you give her credit for, and substantially to the left of Obama on many issues.

      Reply
      1. 1standlastword November 3, 2016

        Listen to the Diane Rehm podcast 11/3/2016

        Reply
        1. I Am Helpy November 3, 2016

          No.

          Reply
        2. mike reynold November 3, 2016

          whos diane rehm a communist on NPR not worth my time gave up on them a long time ago when i found out they are just anti american communists car talk was fun but then they started talking this crap about smaller cars until they talked to a guy that had to have a big truck for horses how you going to pull a horse trailer with a silly minvan

          Reply
    2. A. D. Reed November 3, 2016

      Baloney. You are so full of propaganda it’s astounding.

      Clinton was not “chosen” by the DNC, but by 16 million Democratic voters who preferred her to Bernie. There were no rules “fixed” for Clinton; she had earned the loyalty and support of Democrats throughout the country through her work and dedication, while Bernie had remained a back-bencher, not a Democrat, and an opponent of nearly all the Democratic Party’s policies since Bill Clinton was president.

      Clinton has been a true progressive throughout her life and work, making progress at every step despite being hampered by arch-right-wing reactionaries and pie-in-the-sky ideologues on the left. She understands that progress is made in stages, and that radical restructuring leads only to reaction from the reactionaries — which is why the Cheney administration did its best to destroy the moderately progressive legacy of Bill Clinton, and the Tea Party administration undermined Obama’s progress from his first day in office.

      You really are no different from the Teabaggers who imagine that a different reality exists than the one the rest of the world lives in and abides by.

      Reply
    3. charleo1 November 3, 2016

      First of all the DNC, and RNC, are not publicly funded operations. And therefore neither has any legal, or fiduciary obligation to be completely open, or even especially fair to all hopeful candidates who want their help. Their goal, and the primary reason for their existence is centered around first choosing those people they believe they can get elected. Then deciding if once elected, these people can effectively promote a particular platform of agreed on principles, and initiatives so identified with the Democratic Party brand. And like any private organization, if they are successful in these efforts, those people than run them are kept on. If not, then heads roll. If not effective overall, then they become irrelevant to the process. But the reality is, they are very effective in what they do.
      Raising monies, distributing funds, organizing ground operations, and deciding which markets, and in which campaigns to invest. And to your point, adjudge just how progressive, and or moderate of an agenda is most likely to succeed with the plurality of the voting public. The DNC also have appointed delegates which were implemented into the process to limit exactly the kind of primary Party split we have seen happening with Trump versus the establishment GOP. That unintended split will in the end, most likely spell their defeat at least at the top of the ticket, and possibly far beyond. So a possible epic fail of the prime directive of the RNC.
      To say to your other point, that our two Party system is flawed is not as incorrect as claiming we have an alternative in place that would work just as well, or better in winning elections. As such a system if it existed, would not be precluded by any law. Just as candidates are perfectly welcome to run as Independents, Libertarians, the Green Party, or The Corporatist Party and so on. From forming their own electoral and fund raising apparatus. If their message is strong, they have the candidate with the talent, or name recognition. And they can obtain the money to buy the bullhorn to present their case. Then nothing in our electoral law says they may not do all of this, and more.

      Reply
      1. 1standlastword November 3, 2016

        Well put Charleo! As for the RNC and the DNC you are spot on and that is the thesis of my post. These private organizations are the ‘two’ King Makers and at this time we are seeing the falter of the RNC and and the GOP because they have gone to far afield from serving the people who have supported them–thus the revenge candidates appeal. While I’m reading various comments about Bernie as a “back-bencher” he was the progressive populous candidate ‘over-ruled by ‘The Party’ rules and now Trump is the only populous candidate left standing–thus his appeal to the People who have been wholly neglected by a completely, thoroughly bought and paid for by the likes of ALEC and others who can roust up the cash!

        Both private party organizations are the bedrock of American democracy and yes are as efficient as the mafia at managing enterprise and like the mafia are rife with corruption and politicians; mostly conservative –are front men taking their orders from the Dons.

        The RNC and the GOP are experiencing a paradigm crisis and the DNC is on notice: Wasserman Schultz–who is winning her re-election in Florida; last I heard was a scar on the HRC campaign…not helpful.

        There can’t be a third party or an alternative private organization capable of matching the power of the two private ‘clubs’ because the process is hermetically sealed!!! If said politician wants a career s/he has to join one or the other ‘mafia family’ (RNC/ DNC) So, I accept the paradigm crisis as the natural event to reform these two staples of American democracy or America will be owned lock stock and barrel by the foreign entity that can afford to buy it. In so odd way this campaign season is both a blessing and a curse

        Reply
        1. charleo1 November 3, 2016

          I hear your frustration, and overall dissatisfaction. It is widespread, and growing, and must incentivize the larger political organizations to respond, or risk a hostile takeover as in the RNC. As to the DNC they have changed parts of their platform to accommodate the many
          grassroots Burnie supporters, I would guess they were unaware existed, until they started turning out a Sanders rallies by the thousands all across the Country. Which is the way it’s supposed to work in theory. As to the reality, we’ll first need to see if Hillary is elected. And remember to keep pushing for a more progressive platform. In this it cannot be overstated the importance of continued engagement in the DNC process, and in the promotion of the movement. With all the big money, and lobbyists involved on the other side opposing us at every turn, we cannot expect things to just magically change.

          Reply
    4. charleo1 November 3, 2016

      To make this assertion, that Hillary was chosen by an unfair DNC. who ignored Burnie, and set Clinton up in spite of Burnie being more popular, is simply not, and provably not, the case. Alluding the myth “the system,” is rigged, and so the voters were disenfranchised, or somehow didn’t matter. Which in itself ignores the fact Hilary Clinton did soundly beat a very compelling Burnie Sanders fair and square by the numbers of votes cast in the primaries. With Burnie having by far the most money to spend, with Hillary by far having the most name recognition, and being the best known quantity to Democratic voters going in. Dispels all the oft repeated, and well worn claims of her being the most unpopular, mistrusted politico in World history. The obvious proof being, the majority of Democrats who had the choice, knew exactly who Burnie Sanders is, and who Hillary Clinton is, picked Hillary.

      Reply
    5. TZToronto November 3, 2016

      Clinton’s “phenomenal wealth” is a pittance by the standards of really wealthy people. If someone were willing to pay me $225,000 to make a speech now and then, I’d be “phenomenally wealthy” too. Yes, there is really only one qualified candidate for President of the United States, and it’s not Donald Trump. But here’s the double standard. Trump is an ambitious, greedy, narcissistic, cheating liar and thief who probably should have been charged with contempt of court on numerous occasions but was let off the hook because of his claimed wealth. But he’s a man, so that’s expected. Clinton is an ambitious woman (you’d have to be ambitious to run for President of the United States) who has served her country as Senator and Secretary of State and has made a bunch of money–much less than Trump has made (and lost). But she’s a woman and is expected to be soft, lovable, attractive, and able to bake cookies and walk in 6-inch heels. (The United States is a backward country when it comes to gender. Were Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher ambitious? Are they known for their warm fuzziness and chocolate chip cookies? Despite the hatred that many Brits feel toward Thatcher, she was a very strong woman, and Meir was no shrinking violet either.) How about just looking at qualifications to lead a country. Clinton has them; Trump does not.

      Reply
  3. Dominick Vila November 3, 2016

    The biggest problem we are facing are not the lies, hyperbole, and negativism that have been an integral part of this election, but the fact that Hillary must change her rhetoric ASAP, or she is likely to lose by a large margin. Focusing on Trump’s negatives is no longer resonating. People are well aware of the things he has said and done. What may stop Trump’s momentum is focus on specific proposals to improve our standard of living, strengthen our national security, and help us overcome the challenges we are facing.

    Reply
    1. TZToronto November 3, 2016

      In the most recent Canadian federal election the Conservatives walked in the gutter by insulting Justin Trudeau, claiming that he had no experience and just wasn’t ready for the job of Prime Minister. The Liberals, led by Trudeau, stayed on the sidewalk and talked about policy and how their policies would benefit Canadians. The Conservatives got trounced. Is there a lesson here? There may be, but given the length of the U.S. campaign, there is just so much garbage turned up that taking the high road doesn’t seem to be possible. However, in the last few days of the campaign, it wouldn’t hurt for Clinton to talk policy and make Trump look like the sore loser that he will be.

      Reply
  4. plc97477 November 3, 2016

    trump’s not a mystery. He is psychopathic, no mystery to it.

    Reply

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