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

On Thursday, Mother Jones outed Donald Trump’s longtime butler, Anthony Senecal, 74, as an ardent racist and conspiracy theorist who has publicly called for the murder of President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, as well as other public figures including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In posts on social media, the bespectacled butler – who was recently profiled by the New York Times – questions Obama’s nationality and accuses him of lying about being a Christian, asserting the President is actually a Muslim trying to usurp U.S. democracy.

The former butler of Trump refers to Obama as “zero,” and calls Muslims “Muzzies,” a derogatory term.

Senecal and his Facebook “friends” and “followers” feed off one another, discussing concepts like hanging “that sleezy bastard zero” for treason, and taking up arms to fire in the event of Obama declaring martial law. (They all confirmed that indeed they would.)

Threatening a president’s life is a federal offense. On Thursday, in an email to The Daily Beast, Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback said, “The U.S. Secret Service is aware of this matter and will conduct the appropriate investigation.”

During an interview with CNN on Thursday, Senecal confirmed he wants the president dead. “I don’t care,” he said. “Hanging, shooting – I’d prefer he’d be hung from the portico of the White House, or as I call it, the white mosque.”

On Saturday, the Martinsburg Journal reported Secret Service to have interviewed Senecal. He told the Journal he thought Secret Service wanted to make sure he “wasn’t going to go there with a rifle.” He told the agency that Washington, D.C. was “too far to drive.”

Trump’s former butler restated his anti-Obama sentiments to the Journal, saying, “I think he’s a fraud and a traitor and I say that on a regular basis, absolutely.” Although Senecal wouldn’t kill the president himself, he thinks someone should. “I think it should have been done by the military in the first term,” Senecal said. “They still have the chance to do it.”

In another recent profile, Senecal told the Palm Beach Post that he and Trump bonded over their “similar” political views. He reportedly criticized Clinton during that interview, and endorsed Trump’s proposals including the ban on Muslim immigrants and building a wall along the U.S./Mexico border.

In his Times profile, Senecal comes off as the archetypical butler: inflating his boss’s ego with a manicured subservience from a bygone era, attending to and tolerating unforeseeable demands that only arise in the world of the super-rich, appreciating his humble role at the center of such lavishness — eternally attentive as the hours pass — and cursing Hillary Clinton. One imagines him speaking with the voice of Mr. Howell, from Gilligan’s Island, and to have at least considered wearing a monocle.

Senecal has worked at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach, Fla. for 60 years, the Times reports. When Trump bought the estate and private beach in 1985 and turned it into a club, he kept Senecal on staff; and when the butler tried to retire in 2009, Trump wouldn’t have it. Since then, Senecal has served as the “unofficial historian” of Mar-a-Lago, giving tours on an apparently volunteer basis. But according to the Times article, as recently as March 6 Senecal was on the Mar-a-Lago premises acting as Trump’s de facto cheerleader, if not a hired servant.

In 1990, the Times reports Senecal took a sabbatical from Mar-a-Lago to serve as Mayor of Martinsburg, WV – an affluent community where the man who would eventually become Donald Trump’s butler proposed an ordinance requiring panhandlers to obtain a $25 bi-annual permit to beg in the city’s streets. That year, Associated Press quoted Senecal saying the legislation was aimed at “the winos who make a good living off government checks and beg for money the final two weeks of every month after they blow all their government money.”

On Thursday, when the scandal broke, the Donald Trump campaign disavowed Senecal’s statements. A Facebook post from the candidate’s official account reads:

“Trump Campaign Disavows Statements Made by Anthony Senecal

Anthony Senecal worked within the large staff at Mar-a-Lago from March 5, 1994 through May 15, 2009 until he was terminated. He has not been employed by Mar-a-Lago since then — approximately seven years ago.

His statements regarding President Obama and his family are totally disavowed by Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization. They are disgusting. Mr. Senecal is obviously a very troubled man.”

Though Trump marks the end of Senecal’s employment in 2009, the New York Times’ report that Senecal was at Mar-a-Lago as recently as March casts a shadow on the campaign’s disavowal of him.

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.