Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Republican Donald Trump chose Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate on Thursday, U.S. media reported, a move that will put at Trump’s side a conservative with the potential to unify divided Republicans.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee is to announce his choice on Friday at 11 a.m. in Manhattan. The choice of Pence was first reported by Roll Call and the New York Times and CBS also said this was his pick.

Sources had earlier told Reuters that Trump was leaning toward Pence.

Trump is to be formally nominated as the party’s candidate for the Nov. 8 election at the Republican National Convention next week in Cleveland. Traditionally, the vice presidential choice is used to build enthusiasm among party loyalists.

Trump’s choice of running mate is seen as critical because his defeat of 16 rivals in the Republican primary race left the party divided and some party leaders are still uneasy about some of his campaign positions, and his style.

Roll Call said Trump was reportedly impressed with Pence’s calm demeanor, his experience on Capitol Hill and as a governor, and Pence’s potential to assist in governing if Trump wins in November. Trump, a New York businessman, has never held elected office.

Trump had also considered former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as finalists.

Gingrich told an ABC News correspondent earlier that he expected to hear Trump’s decision after 1 p.m. EDT and would not be surprised if Trump chose Pence.

Pence, 57, a former congressman, is seen as a safe choice, not too flashy but popular among conservatives, with Midwestern appeal and the ability to rally more party faithful behind Trump.

TESTING CHEMISTRY

Pence and Trump spent time this month testing their chemistry at Trump’s golf course in New Jersey and at the governor’s residence in Indiana, Roll Call said.

Pence had backed a Trump rival, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, in April before the Indiana primary, but he praised Trump and said he would work on behalf of the eventual Republican nominee. Trump won Indiana anyway, prompting Cruz to drop out of the party race to be the nominee for the election.

Pence had considered running for president himself in 2016 before deciding to run for re-election as governor. Conservatives had urged him to seek the White House, but missteps in 2015 related to an Indiana law seen as anti-gay hurt his national profile.

This year, he was the target of a mocking social media campaign by women outraged at a law he signed creating new restrictions on abortions. Feeling that the law invaded their privacy, women responded by calling Pence’s office to describe their menstrual periods or tweeting similar messages.

Pence ran unsuccessfully for Congress twice before he was elected to the House of Representatives in 2000, where he was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservatives.

FLURRY OF MEETINGS

In what has been an unusually public process of making his choice of running mate, Trump, 70, sat down with both Pence and Gingrich separately in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

He also met with a fourth potential No. 2, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, 69, of Alabama, who has been one of Trump’s closest advisers.

Trump had dinner with Pence on Tuesday night after they appeared together at a rally. Joined by daughter Ivanka and sons Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, Trump also had breakfast with Pence and his wife, Karen, on Wednesday at the governor’s residence in Indianapolis.

Trump adviser Ed Brookover told CNN that Trump “first and foremost” wants a running mate who he has good chemistry with and someone who can help him govern best.

 

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Democratic nominee Joe Biden

If you were a Trump supporter anticipating a ruinous assault on Joe Biden's integrity during that final debate, too bad. What you got instead was a series of incomprehensible outbursts from Donald Trump, who seems to assume that everybody believes whatever nonsense they hear on Fox News, just like he does.

The day after the debate was even more disappointing. The Wall Street Journal, owned by Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch himself, dropped a front-page investigative report that directly contradicted Trump's accusations about Biden and China. The only candidate with unseemly business over there is Trump himself, whose secret account in a Chinese bank was just exposed.

For months, Trump and his minions have hyped allegations of financial corruption against Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Trump got himself impeached, with the help of legal genius Rudy Giuliani, over his attempt to force Ukraine's president to open a fake corruption probe of the former vice president and Burisma, the energy firm that once employed Biden's son Hunter. Their deception collapsed when Trump and Obama administration officials testified – with ample documentary evidence – that Biden had done nothing to protect Burisma and only carried out United States and European initiatives against corruption in Ukraine.

But that failure didn't discourage Giuliani, former Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon, or the other fabricators in the Trump entourage. In recent days, they have unveiled a mysterious laptop computer that purportedly belonged to Hunter Biden and reached Giuliani and then the New York Post through a series of implausible events. There are clues that the electronic data on the laptop was invented or altered. Who might do that? Let's see: The Kremlin is seeking to harm Biden politically, and Giuliani has openly welcomed the assistance of Russian intelligence assets, so the answer is fairly obvious. Especially because Russian agents provided similar services for the Republican candidate four years ago.

When the laptop gambit flopped, the Trumpsters still didn't give up.

On the eve of the debate, a Wall Street Journal columnist published a claim that Joe Biden personally profited from investments in China fronted by Hunter. Her column was based on assertions by a shadowy but euphoniously named businessman, a certain Tony Bobulinski. In a move worthy of that old pardoned felon Roger Stone, Bobulinski actually attended the Nashville debate (after staging a "press availability" where he refused to answer any questions.)

Unfortunately for both Bobulinski and that eager Journal columnist, her newspaper on Friday published the investigation that cratered their nefarious tale. After months of actual reporting, the Journal's real journalists found that the venture cited by Bobulinski "never received proposed funds from the Chinese company or completed any deals." Moreover, corporate records reviewed by the Journal's reporters "show no role for Joe Biden."

So far the Biden "scandal" most closely resembles Whitewater and the entire panoply of Clinton finance scandals that never revealed any wrongdoing whatsoever. Whatever Trump may spew and sputter, there is no plausible evidence that has been subjected to examination by journalists of integrity.

And fortunately for Biden, the nation's traditional news outlets are approaching the allegations against him with a cool and appropriate skepticism. That wasn't the case in 2016, the last time Steve Bannon played the same games. For Bannon and Giuliani, as well as their echoes across right-wing media, the objective was always to launch their false narratives into the mainstream. They succeeded brilliantly in 2016, with the assistance of the New York Times and other news organizations that should have known better and done better. This time they are failing.

In promoting these serial smears, the risk for Donald Trump is always that someone competent will inspect his record. That's what should have happened four years ago, when he and Bannon falsely attacked the Clinton Foundation while concealing the sordid truth about the Trump Foundation, a brazen criminal enterprise.

That 2016 frameup was a classic instance of projection – and we can assume the same dynamic is at work today. So now is the time to scrutinize all of the Trump Organization's crooked, conflicted deals overseas – and how he and his family have profited from his presidency.