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Tag: trump rally

Trump’s Criminal Defense Already Has A Big Problem

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

One section of former President Donald Trump's rally speech on Saturday night in Florida stood out to many observers: his response to last week's indictment of his company and its chief financial officere Allen Weisselberg.

Weisselberg and the Trump Organization were hit with a 15-count indictment from the Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance, alleging a scheme to defraud the government and avoid paying required taxes on more than a million dollars worth of non-salary compensation the CFO has received for over a decade.

Trump himself was not charged in the scheme, though many argue it's hard to believe he wasn't aware of this allegedly criminal conduct — and indeed, it's hard to believe this kind of criminality wasn't widespread under his leadership. But if Vance ever chooses to try and bring a case against the former president, Trump will likely try to claim he was unaware that these crimes were occurring, or that he was unaware that what was being done was illegal. On Saturday, he started roadtesting this type of defense — which, if true, would undermine the case that he had the criminal intent required to be found guilty of the crimes in question — for his fans:

"You didn't pay tax on the car or a company apartment...you didn't pay tax, or education for your grandchildren — I, don't even know what do you have to put? Does anybody know the answer to that stuff?"

Some legal commentators argued it was clear Trump was trying to establish this narrative to exonerate himself:

However, there's a big problem with this defense. It directly contradicts what Trump himself has said about his own understanding of tax law and his own company's finances. In 2017, he told the New York Times:

I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most. And if I didn't, I couldn't have talked all these people into doing ultimately only to be rejected.

And this wasn't just out of thin air — it literally followed his own discussion of businesses' tax liabilities:

The tax cut will be, the tax bill, prediction, will be far bigger than anyone imagines. Expensing will be perhaps the greatest of all provisions. Where you can do something, you can buy something. … Piece of equipment. … You can do lots of different things, and you can write it off and expense it in one year. That will be one of the great stimuli in history. You watch. That'll be one of the big. … People don't even talk about expensing, what's the word "expensing." [Inaudible.] One year expensing. Watch the money coming back into the country, it'll be more money than people anticipate.

His remarks aren't particularly articulate about the subject matter, but given his interest in the topic, it's a stretch to believe he was completely in the dark about what kinds of company expenses created tax obligations for him and which did not.

In 2016, too, he also suggested that he's able to pay low or no taxes because he's "smart." He also said: "As a businessman and real estate developer, I have legally used the tax laws to my benefit and to the benefit of my company, my investors and my employees. Honestly, I have brilliantly — I have brilliantly used those laws."

This could and should be interpreted as mostly candidate bluster, but it severely undermines his ability to later claim to a court that he's completely befuddled by the mechanics of paying taxes.

Regardless of these and similar comments, Trump might still get away with claiming that he didn't have a clue about the tax practices at his own company. The DA may feel he lacks the evidence to prove Trump's intent beyond a reasonable doubt, and he may be unwilling to go forward against such a high-profile defendant without a rock-solid case. But if charges are forthcoming, Trump has still undermined what would likely be his best defense with his boasting. And if he's allowed to skate free because he persuasively argues that he was clueless about his illegal tax practices, he'll undermine a pillar of his own ostensible political appeal. Though perhaps he's become such a symbolic figure for the right wing that the substantive case he made for his own political prowess is now largely irrelevant.

Doctors Beg Trump To Cancel Upcoming Super-Spreader Events In Pennsylvania

Donald Trump will hold three more campaign rallies in Pennsylvania this coming weekend. But despite five "MAGA" rallies over three previous visits this month, polls continue to show him trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the vital swing state ahead of the general election next week.

Pennsylvania doctors recently begged Trump to stop holding mass rallies in the state, noting that with their large numbers of people crowded together, often without masks, they carry the risk of becoming coronavirus superspreader events. A Center for American Progress analysis this week noted that at least 11 large Trump rallies nationally immediately preceded significant COVID-19 case spikes in the communities in which they were held.

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Did Obstreperous Trumpsters Break The Law At Virginia Polling Site?

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The photo showed six mask-less Trump supporters waving Trump-Pence signs outside the entrance to Fairfax County Government Center on September 19, Virginia's second day of early voting. The accompanying New York Times report describing their loud electioneering in the populous blue county outside Washington inflamed passions and went viral.

"No gang of goons is going to deter Fairfax from voting," tweeted Nate Jones, an area resident, who noted that local officials moved the line inside the center, where people still had to wait several hours to vote, as it was the county's only open early voting site.

The photo showed six mask-less Trump supporters waving Trump-Pence signs outside the entrance to Fairfax County Government Center on September 19, Virginia's second day of early voting. The accompanying New York Times' report describing their loud electioneering in the populous blue county outside Washington inflamed passions and went viral.

"No gang of goons is going to deter Fairfax from voting," tweeted Nate Jones, an area resident, who noted that local officials moved the line inside the center, where people still had to wait several hours to vote, as it was the county's only open early voting site.

"What happened was they just came in revving truck and cars around the parking lot where there was this mile-long line that you have been seeing on the national news," said Kristin Cabral, co-chair of the Fairfax County Democratic Party's election law and voter protection committee, speaking on an activist call on Monday. "Then they got out of their cars with all sorts of banners and sticks and the like, not wearing face masks, and they gathered on the center plaza, which is basically where the front entrance, the front door, is."

"They were creating such a ruckus," she said. "This is the start of election interference, voter intimidation, that we can expect throughout early voting and on Election Day itself… The one thing that I was surprised, here in the open-carry state of Virginia, which is also the headquarters of the NRA, [was] that more folks did not have their weaponry on them."

Cabral was hoping the county's prosecutor, an elected Democrat, would file charges to send a message. Other non-Virginians on the call suggested that activists and election officials meet with local police "who don't know anything about election law," to be clear on what constitutes disturbing the peace and intimidating voters.

The episode was, at best, a cautionary tale, and, at worst, a portent for battleground states. Inviting a police presence to polls is dicey. What some people see as protecting voters may be seen by others as intimidating voters.

The law, too, has inconsistencies. While federal law is clear on what constitutes voter intimidation, state law primarily regulates elections and has widely varying standards. In some states, electioneering activity—anything that urges voters to support one candidate or cause—has to stop hundreds of feet away from polling place entrances. In other states, it can follow voters up to the doors or even go inside.

Federal law says that "whoever intimidates, threatens, coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote" can be fined or jailed up to a one year.

State law draws different lines. This chart, from the National Association of Secretaries of State, and updated as of January 2020, lists the varying distances that campaigners must stand from polls. Sometimes that distance is measured in feet from the entrance. Sometimes it is the distance from building's perimeter. Sometimes it is how far a partisan campaigner must stand from a voter in a hallway.

Louisiana has the largest berth, "a radius of 600 feet from the entrance to any polling place." In most states, that distance is 100 feet or more from the entrance. But there are exceptions in some 2020 battleground states.

In Virginia, electioneering has to stop "within 40 feet of any entrance." Pennsylvania partisans "must remain at least (10) ten feet distant from the polling place." North Carolina's line is 50 feet from the entrance door and 25 feet from the rest of the building.

In Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin, it's 100 feet. In Georgia, it's 150 feet. In Mississippi and Alabama, it's 30 feet. In Missouri, it's 25 feet. In Vermont, electioneering must stop at the entrance to a building. In New Hampshire, it can continue inside, but voters must be given "a corridor 10 feet wide."

"I think what we have to do is meet with our boards of elections, meet with our mayors and city councils," said Joel Segal, a former House Judiciary Committee legal staffer who lives in North Carolina, speaking on Monday's activist call. "It is not unconstitutional to tell people that there's a limit on your freedom of assembly. I don't remember anything that said that could you block the entrance for people voting."

SNL Cold Open Spoofs The Trump Rally From Hell

For this week’s Saturday Night Live cold open, Alec Baldwin returns as Donald Trump — headlining a MAGA rally in “Albacore,” meaning Albuquerque, with a stunning roster of SNL regulars and veterans. “New Mexicans,” he tells the cheering zombie-like supporters, “are my favorite Mexicans.”

The skit is a merciless takedown of Trump supporters.Cecily Strong comes up to the stage with a misspelled T-shirt, babbling about the “deep state lizard conspiracy” that includes “the CIA, the FBI, the M-I-C, the K-E-Y, and the M-O-U-S-E.” Mikey Day is a member of “Bikers For Trump” (a real group), and warns that if Trump is impeached, “we’re gonna RIDE.” And there are a couple of special SNL cameos, too.

Click and chuckle.

 

 

 

 

Trump Insulted El Paso’s GOP Mayor During ‘Comfort’ Visit

Trump couldn’t make it through his recent visit to El Paso without insulting the city’s mayor, according to PBS’s “Frontline.”

In an interview with Frontline, Republican Mayor Dee Margo relayed a conversation he had with Trump during a car ride from the airport.

“He said, ‘You’re a RINO,'” Margo said. RINO, or “Republican in name only,” is an insult insinuating that a particular politician is not conservative enough.

“I said, ‘No, sir. I am not a RINO,'” Margo said. “I said … ‘I simply corrected the misinformation you were given by [the Texas] attorney general, and that’s all I did.'”

Trump’s insult stemmed from a dispute following his State of the Union address in February, when Trump lied about violent crime in El Paso. In the speech, Trump claimed that a fence along the border turned El Paso from one of the most violent cities in America into a city with less violent crime.

After the speech, Margo called out Trump’s lie, which Trump was using to justify spending billions of U.S. taxpayer money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Trump has long since abandoned his campaign pledge that Mexico would pay for such a wall.)

Trump’s insult came during a visit that was already being criticized by the residents of El Paso. Trump ostensibly went to comfort a grieving city in the wake of a mass shooting where a white supremacist walked into a Walmart and killed 22 people. The shooter later told the police that he wanted to kill “Mexicans” and used other hateful and racist language about immigrants that bore a striking resemblance to that used by Trump.

Before his visit, El Paso’s Democratic congresswoman, Veronica Escobar, said Trump wasn’t welcome.

“Words have consequences. And the president has made my community and my people the enemy,” Escobar said. “He has told the country that we are people to be feared, people to be hated.”

One woman credited with saving at least 40 lives in the massacre did not mince words about Trump’s responsibility for what happened.

“You preach and you say things, and this is what happens,” Adria González said in a video posted after the shooting, gesturing to the crime scene at the site of the killings.

Trump visited El Paso in February for a campaign rally, and he wasn’t welcome at that time, either. The rally followed on the heels of Trump insulting the city during the State of the Union address.

To add further injury to the city, Trump has thus far refused to pay El Paso for debts incurred during the campaign rally. His campaign still owes the city more than $569,000 for providing security during the visit.

The mayor wasn’t even the only person Trump insulted while he was in town. During a visit to a local hospital, Trump used his time in the city to lie about the size of his February rally and attack former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic candidate for president and the person who formerly represented El Paso in Congress.

Trump was only in El Paso for a few hours last week, but even during his brief visit, he simply could not restrain himself or muster the appropriate presidential demeanor a grieving city would expect.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

After Fat-Shaming A Supporter At Rally, Trump Won’t Apologize

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In a typically raucous and mendacious campaign rally Thursday night, President Donald Trump launched one rhetorical attack that stood out from the rest. Unlike his usual insults and smears of his political opponents and critics, this one targeted someone in the crowd.

“That guy has got a serious weight problem!” Trump yelled at the man. “Go home, start exercising. Get him out of here, please! Got a bigger problem than I do! Got a bigger problem than all of us. Now he goes home and his mom says: ‘What the hell have you just done?’”

Trump seems to have thought he was talking about about a protester who had disrupted the rally. But the Associated Press reported:

As the protesters were being led out, a Trump supporter wearing a “Trump 2020” shirt near them began enthusiastically shaking his fist in a sign of support for the president.

But Trump mistook him for one of the protesters …

That’s when Trump launched into his fat-shaming screed.

The Trump team seems to have figured out that the president messed up. Fat-shaming is nothing new for Trump, of course, but he sees no advantage in fat-shaming a fan. And so, according to multiple reports, the president called the man he attacked for being overweight.

“President Trump called the supporter he shamed for being overweight at last night’s rally from aboard Air Force One and left him a voicemail, per WH official,” said the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker.

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman said that Trump told the man “he wasn’t talking about him when he fat-shamed someone, and thanked him for support.” Of course, if he wasn’t talking about the man in question, it’s not clear why the president would have called at all. And he could have avoided the whole mess by just not mocking anyone’s weight, which can be offensive to people whether or not they are the specific target of his wrath.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins expanded on the reporting, noting that he refused to apologize for the remarks.

 

Q-Anon Conspiracists Appear At Trump Rally After FBI Bulletin

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Far-right proponents of the bizarre Q-Anon conspiracy theory — which claims that an alliance of Hollywood actors and Washington, D.C. politicians, among others, have been engaging in an international child sex ring — are not only unhinged; they are also potentially dangerous, according to the FBI. And this week, the Washington Post reports, some Q-Anon proponents turned up at a rally for President Donald Trump on the same day the FBI issued a bulletin warning that the group could be dangerous.

According to the bulletin, proponents of Q-Anon as well as the Pizzagate conspiracy theory have the potential for violence. In 2016, Pizzagate proponents claimed that Democrats were using a Washington, D.C. pizzeria for child sex abuse.

The bulletin reads, “The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts. And it goes on to say that reports “of a sudden rise in threats and unfounded accusations against a given individual or business may indicate impending conspiracy theory-driven crime or violence.”

On Thursday at a Trump rally in Cincinnati, according to the Post, a supporter named Brandon Straka used a Q-Anon slogan: “where we go one, we go all.” And other Q-Anon proponents were seen at the rally as well.

In the cultish Q-Anon community, Trump is held in high regard: Q-Anon theorists believe his presidency is meant to help carry out a worldwide battle against a child sex ring — and Q is an anonymous figure who sends sporadic messages on the battle.

Protesters With Pocket Constitutions Thrown Out Of Trump Rally

It seems a list is quickly building as to what can get you summarily ejected from a Trump rally. On last count, Trump couldn’t stand the following at his events: Muslims, the press, and babies. Now, Trump’s added on to his persona non grata list: protesters holding Constitutions.

On Thursday, several protesters attended a Trump rally in Maine. Rather than picketing or overtly opposing Trump’s candidacy, they chose to stand up and silently display pocket-sized copies of the Constitution of the United States.

The protesters were referencing the man who may end up causing Trump’s downfall. At the Democratic National Convention last week, Khizr Khan, the father of a slain Muslim-American soldier, pulled a pocket Constitution out during his speech and openly asked Trump whether he had ever read the document himself.

The protesters in Maine were immediately thrown out of the rally by Trump campaign staff, and faced a booing crowd on their way out.

The pocket Constitutions held by the protesters were issued by the ACLU and they’ve have seen a dramatic increase in sales in the days following Khan’s speech. Although it was unclear whether the protesters were actually affiliated with the ACLU, the organization Tweeted out its support:

 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 14, 2016.   REUTERS/Jonathan Drake