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

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

When Walter Shaub resigned in protest from President Donald Trump’s administration in July 2017, he had been heading the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). Shaub is still voicing his concerns about Trump’s administration, and this week, he spoke out about a Trump tweet that has been drawing criticism for seemingly linking the possible end of travel restrictions affecting New York State to Trump-related investigations there.

Trump, on Thursday, tweeted, “I’m seeing Governor Cuomo today at The White House. He must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harassment, start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes.”

After Shaub saw that tweet, he compared it to the “quid pro quo” that House Democrats accused Trump of during his impeachment trial: military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Shaub tweeted, “It is Ukraine all over again. Only now it is one of these United States being extorted. Holy cow, people. It’s happening in plain sight this time. Have we reached the point where a quid pro quo doesn’t even make a ripple? Is that the degree of submission to corruption? Wake up!”

Vox’s Aaron Rupar interviewed Shaub about Trump’s Cuomo-related tweet and his response to it.

Shaub told Vox, “It’s important to remember the context in which all of this is unfolding. This week, we’ve learned that the extent to which the president has politicized the Department of Justice may be a lot worse than any of us feared. And then, on the heels of that discovery, he tweets out this extortionate demand that New York drop its lawsuits against him.”

Shaub went on to say, “I’m not accusing him necessarily of committing a crime, but this is the exact type of behavior that was implicated in the impeachment hearing where he tried to strongarm Ukraine into taking an action against one of his political rivals, and he took an official action of withholding hundreds of millions of dollars of needed aid from a country that has been invaded by Russia.”

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)