Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Nativist Paranoia And Malignant Narcissism Define Trump’s Cult

New rule: once a political dispute reaches the Rudy Giuliani stage, there's nothing left but punch lines. I'd say the same of Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, a husband/wife team of Washington lawyers with a practice limited to right-wing talk shows. A desperate Boss Trump has recently added all three to the legal team striving to reverse his near-six million vote loss in the 2020 presidential election.

In related news, "Meet the Press," the venerable Sunday political talk show, was unable to find a single Republican U.S. Senator to appear on its November 15 broadcast. Host Chuck Todd reports that he invited every last one, but they all had something more important to do.

Read Now Show less

How Boss Trump Blew Up His Own Election Fraud Scheme

Displaying the same staggering incompetence that has led to the deaths of thousands in the Covid-19 pandemic, Boss Trump made two big tactical errors in his failed effort to keep the White House: First, he telegraphed his scheme to overturn the election, and then he waited too long to make his big move.

These blunders brought him to a classic, indelible Trumpian moment: simultaneously demanding that vote-counting stop in Pennsylvania and Georgia, but continue in Arizona and Nevada. The difference being that Trump was temporarily leading in the first two, but trailing out west.

At this writing he appears to have lost all four states.

Just as he lost the national popular vote, it bears emphasizing, by one of the largest popular vote margins in U.S. history—likely in excess of five million votes after they're all tabulated. Spontaneous celebrations broke out in the streets of almost every large American city when the result was announced. It felt awfully like the collapse of authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the world. You'd have to be actively delusional to believe that even this Supreme Court could find a way to overturn it.

Trump himself appears to be a True Believer. Never mind that he had no winning political strategy. Yes, his frantic series of Covid "super-spreader" rallies brought millions of enraptured supporters to the polls; but they also stimulated larger numbers of Americans to cast their votes against him. If MAGA believers risked their lives; Trump's opponents felt they were saving their own.

But disenfranchising millions of absentee voters amid the Covid pandemic was never going to work. A politician more firmly in touch with reality would have realized that.

Of all people, sycophantic Attorney General William Barr has implicitly acknowledged as much. His order instructing U.S. Attorneys to look into allegations of voter fraud has a caveat that gives the game away: "While serious allegations should be handled with great care, specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries."

Then there's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has predicted that "there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

In his dreams. Pompeo is not a stupid man, but he badly wants the 2024 Republican nomination.

GOP senators too appear to think they must judiciously humor the big crybaby until the hissy fit passes. Trump's angry toddler act—crying, screaming, throwing food on the floor, holding his breath until he turns blue, and breaking things—won't actually change anything. Eventually, he'll wear himself out.

Or not. I really don't care. Do you?

Even Fox News cut away from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany when she alleged widespread voter fraud without a scintilla of proof. Then there was Rudy Giuliani, holding forth in the parking lot of a landscaping business appropriately located between a crematorium and an adult bookstore that his bookers had evidently mistaken for the Four Seasons Hotel. Trump's personal lawyer, as one British reporter put it, ended up "struggling to be heard over a man in his underpants shouting about George Soros."

The exact proportion of MAGA True Believers in the population isn't clear. Presumably the same fools who bought into the "birtherism" conspiracy theory Trump used to win notoriety in the first place are equally prepared to believe in the myth of a stolen election.

But not very strenuously over time, I suspect. For most people, politics is a secondary passion, like being a football fan. You think you'll never survive your team losing, but the sun comes up and there's another game. Clinging to a lost cause can get tiring, leaving a person mired in an ever more irrelevant past.

Here's how Charles Mackay, the 19th century Scottish author of the classic book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds put it: "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."

Freed from the spell of Trumpism and the daily necessity of rationalizing a malignant narcissist's follies and outrages, many will find themselves inwardly relieved. Over time, MAGA hats will become the equivalent of Confederate flags, a symbol signifying that you're a resentful loser.

Meanwhile, here's how an American president talks:

"Let's give each other a chance," Joe Biden said in his speech laying claim to having won the 2020 election. "It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric. To lower the temperature. To see each other again. To listen to each other again. To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans. The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season — a time to build, a time to reap, a time to sow. And a time to heal. This is the time to heal in America."

That's a message millions wanted to hear.

Brett Kavanaugh Explained How He Plans To Cheat American Voters

Unless my Election Day expectations are badly mistaken, we're going to hear a lot less from the U.S. Supreme Court in coming weeks than many anticipate, because the presidential election won't be close enough to steal. If I'm wrong, the nation is in for a spectacle of legalistic casuistry, pettifoggery and intellectual dishonesty like something out of Kafka's The Trial.

My own favorite literary portrayal of the judiciary, however, occurs in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, in which our hero explains his native country's legal system to his Master Houyhouyhnm, a philosophical talking horse who has never encountered a Yahoo capable of reason.

"I said, 'there was a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of the people are slaves.'"

Of course, Swift lived in an Ireland ruled by English judges, but the situation feels familiar. Citing a dispute over livestock, Gulliver explains: "they never desire to know what claim or title my adversary has to my cow; but whether the said cow were red or black; her horns long or short; whether the field I graze her in be round or square; whether she was milked at home or abroad; what diseases she is subject to, and the like; after which they consult precedents, adjourn the cause from time to time, and in ten, twenty, or thirty years, come to an issue."

These days, of course, things can move more quickly when politically convenient. So it is that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh got the ball rolling early with a recent opinion so filled with factual and legal absurdities that it became necessary for him to issue a correction. It is not recorded whether or not the great man's well-known fondness for beer played a role.

A constitutional "originalist" like his newly-installed colleague Amy Coney Barrett, Kavanaugh embraced what the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin called the "Cinderella theory" of voting—i.e. that votes not counted by midnight on Election Day turn into pumpkins.

This would be news to the authors of the Constitution, who lived in a time when it could literally take weeks to travel, from, say, Washington to Boston, depending upon the winds and tides. That's why the Electoral College doesn't meet until several weeks after the election, and the results aren't tabulated by Congress until the second week in January.

Nevertheless, Kavanaugh's opinion claims that states "definitively announce the results of the election on election night." This is brazen nonsense. Even the TV networks don't necessarily do that; not that it's Wolf Blitzer or Lester Holt's decision to make.

"To the contrary," as Mark Joseph Stern writes in an astringent takedown in Slate, "every state formally certifies results in the days or weeks following an election," and every state always has. None certify results on election night, nor ever have. For most of American history it's been a practical impossibility, and remains so today.

So why would a supposedly brilliant Supreme Court Justice make so elementary an error? Basically, because it's not a mistake at all, but a necessary prelude to Kavanaugh's attempt to cast suspicion (and to instruct Trump-appointed judges around the country) regarding mail-in and absentee ballots.

"States," the Justice pronounces, "want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after Election Day and potentially flip the results of an election."

To which Justice Elena Kagan responded tartly in her dissent that "there are no results to 'flip' until all valid votes are counted. And nothing could be more 'suspicio[us]' or 'improp[er]' than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on election night."

Never mind also that Boss Trump himself has always voted absentee until 2020. Nor that many 'suckers" and "losers" mailing ballots from U.S. military deployments around the world would also be disenfranchised. That's the Trump plan to abscond with the presidency: just don't count upwards of one third of the ballots and he wins.

Bret Kavanaugh is down with it all the way. It appears likely that the rest of the GOP-appointed justices, with the possible exception of Chief Justice Roberts, who sometimes appears concerned about the court's future, would back his play. Assuming, as I say, that there's any play to be made; and that the Justices believe that the spectacle of courts ordering millions of legally-cast votes to be discarded would serve even the short-term interests of the Republican Party.

If so, they ought to ditch the sacerdotal black robes and wear brightly-colored red team uniforms on the bench. For that matter, I can just see Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett decked out in cheerleader costumes with a big T on their chests, can't you?

Super-Spreader Trump Becomes The Typhoid Mary Of Coronavirus

If Boss Trump is headed for defeat, he's getting his revenge early. His revenge upon his deluded supporters and the people they love, that is. Trump's re-election campaign now consists mainly of what epidemiologists call "super-spreader" events: large-scale rallies of unmasked, non-socially distanced Trumpists yelling in each other's faces while the Big Man emits a non-stop barrage of falsehoods, exaggerations, and barefaced lies.

Let me put it this way: If, say, the Rolling Stones decided to put on free concerts at airports around the country, they'd likely end up being taken into custody and deported as undesirable aliens. Of course, they'd also draw far bigger crowds than Trump, but that's not the point. The point is that Trump's actions are reckless and immoral; the peacetime equivalent of war crimes.

"Covid, covid, covid, covid, covid," he hollers. Trump claims that the United States is "turning the corner" on the pandemic, and that the accursed news media will quit reporting Covid-19 fatalities come November 4. He claims that health officials are motivated by greed because "doctors get more money and hospitals get more money" if they report that the virus was the cause of death.

Surveys have shown that more than a thousand physicians and nurses have died fighting the disease nationwide.

As ever, what he accuses others of doing is an excellent guide to the question: What would Trump do? Answer: he'd steal the silver dollars off a Covid victim's eyes and demand an investigation of Joe Biden

According to the Washington Post, the Trump campaign organization signed an agreement with officials in Duluth, Minnesota to limit attendance at a September 30 fly-in rally, in accordance with public health guidelines. Hours before the event, it became clear that no effort was being made to honor the agreement; some 2500 Trump supporters bunched up without masks on the tarmac, ten times the agreed limit.

Health Department officials' protests were simply ignored. Three days later, Trump himself was taken to Walter Reed Hospital by helicopter. Three weeks after that, the following headline appeared in the Duluth News-Tribune: "St. Louis County sees another record-breaking week of COVID-19 cases."

Any questions?

The Trump Circus subsequently performed in Janesville and Waukesha, Wisconsin in the midst of a record-setting pandemic outbreak there. "It took us 7 and a half months to reach our first 100,000 cases, & only 36 days to reach our second," the Wisconsin Department of Health tweeted. "In just two short months, the 7-day average of new confirmed cases has risen 405%."

But the show must go on. Trump regaled his Janesville audience with a veritable torrent of lies. The New York Times did a thorough fact-check of his October 17 speech. Reporters documented 130 false statements during Trump's 87 minutes onstage. Nearly three-quarters of his factual claims were untrue. The most egregious concerned Covid-19, probably because the disease represents his single greatest failure and most damaging political liability.

Another question: Does Trump count upon his supporters' invincible ignorance or simply share it? I fear it's a little of both. In Janesville, Trump made this absurd claim two minutes into his harangue: "When you look at our numbers compared to what's going on in Europe and other places," he said "we're doing well."

Any regular newspaper reader knows that this is simply nonsense. As the Times reports, "America has more cases and deaths per capita than any major country in Europe but Spain and Belgium. The United States has just 4 percent of the world's population but accounts for almost a quarter of the global deaths from Covid-19."

Germany, to choose the most striking comparison, has suffered only 122 deaths per million of its population, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has recorded more than five times as many: 686 per million. Neighboring Canada, meanwhile, is at 264 per million. Several Asian countries, have handled the pandemic even better.

It's a matter of capable leadership and public cooperation.

No wonder Trump appears to have succumbed to a case of dictator envy. "COVID, COVID, COVID is being used by [the 'Fake News' media] in total coordination" he tweeted the other day "in order to change our great early election numbers. Should be an election law violation!"

Yeah, well they all report the same World Series scores too. Furthermore, if Trump had good election numbers, he wouldn't whine so much. Has there ever been a bigger crybaby in the White House?

(In related news, Vladimir Putin has issued a mandatory mask mandate after a surge in Russian Covid infections. Go figure.)

Meanwhile, the rallies go on; a bizarre spectacle people treat as if it's normal. Trump has become Covid-19's Typhoid Mary, an Irish cook who unwittingly infected 53 people back in 1906.

But unlike Mary, he should know better. If anybody should be locked up, as his rapt admirers chant, it's the Super-Spreader in Chief.

Militia Misfits Are Ridiculous And Infantile -- Yet Still Terribly Dangerous

Back in my own days playing guns, we had the coolest hideout ever: a hut we'd built on a wooded half acre out of lumber liberated from a subdivision under construction. The way we looked at it, they owed us; a fair exchange for converting the woods and ponds where we hiked, fished, and ice-skated into a suburban subdivision. Rolling Hills, they called it.

OK, so the fireplace didn't draw, the roof leaked, and the secret compartment under the floor where we'd stashed our prized collection of naughty magazines got nibbled into the world's naughtiest mouse nest. It was a perfect hideout. No girls allowed. (Not that any of us knew an actual female person who'd willingly crawl into that dank interior.)

It was our secret refuge. We were twelve years old. We called ourselves "The Royal Majestic Order of the Quince," after a nearby flowering bush. We weren't trying to scare people, but not just anybody could be a Quince. Our weapons of war were BB guns, slingshots and acorns. Sometimes we took our little brothers prisoner and locked them up until they cried. Then a little while longer. We fancied ourselves merciless and bold.

Anyway, I couldn't help but think of all that pre-adolescent play-acting when I read about the "Wolverine Watchmen" and their hidden basement hideout behind a trap door under a vacuum cleaner store in rural Michigan.

We soon grew out of it. The Wolverines, apparently not.

See, that's the thing about these self-styled militiamen and wannabe terrorists. Their view of the world is essentially juvenile. Which doesn't mean they can't be dangerous. Quite the opposite.

To underline the point, here's a classic militia rant: "I believe we are slowly turning into a socialist government. The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful, and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control."

Sound familiar? It's Timothy McVeigh, terrorist murderer of 168 people in the 1993 Oklahoma City truck bombing.

Show me somebody who becomes obsessed with government "tyranny," poses for photos carrying an AR-15 and staring grimly in camouflage fatigues, and who hangs out Confederate flags, and I'll show you a bearded child. In contemporary America, there are few things more dangerous.

Only a child could possibly imagine that kidnapping and murdering Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could lead to anything but disaster. "Grab the fuckin' governor," Wolverine honcho Adam Fox allegedly told an FBI informant. "Just grab the bitch. Because at that point, we do that, dude—it's over."

Now their lives are essentially over, all 13 of them facing state and federal charges after months of accumulating weapons and night-vision scopes, building bombs, communicating in coded messages, and even conducting post-midnight surveillance of the governor's lakeside vacation home.

Playing guns. One guy was going to paint his fishing boat black to facilitate a late night kidnapping; others planned to bomb a nearby highway overpass to distract law enforcement. They first attracted police attention by trying to learn the home addresses of local cops. That will get you busted every time.

Everything came apart after a couple of Wolverines got cold feet and went to the law. The Feds had informants wired for sound during meetings in the basement hideout—two of them, who didn't know about each other.

Gov. Whitmer, see, had provoked the outrage of bearded children across Michigan with a series of stringent lockdown orders meant to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. "LIBERATE MICHIGAN," the honorary head Wolverine in the White House tweeted on April 17 amid his deadly campaign to "re-open" the economy before public health officials thought it wise.

Two weeks later, armed militiamen occupied the statehouse in Lansing. At least two of the Wolverines participated. I kept wondering what would happen if some fool pulled the trigger. No way and no how should such conduct be legal. The Constitution is not a suicide pact.

Trump urged surrender: "The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire," he wrote. "These are very good people, but they are angry."

Down in the basement, meanwhile, Wolverine chieftain Adam Fox vented: "Everything's gonna have to be annihilated, man. We're gonna topple it all, dude. It's what great frickin' conquerors, man, we're just gonna conquer every fuckin' thing, man."

Evidently, Fox's girlfriend had left him. I can't imagine why.

Then after Gov. Whitmer chided Boss Trump for his refusal to condemn right-wing extremists and white supremacists, he complained that she hadn't thanked him for protecting her. Trump cited "My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement" quite as if he'd played some role in the bust, which he surely did not.

The thing is, all the guns, camouflage fatigues and subterranean hideouts in the world can't give these bearded children what they need—decent jobs and good women to help them keep their heads on straight.

Trump Turned His Viral Infection Into Authoritarian Farce

Only Boss Trump could turn even the Covid-19 plague into a farce. His triumphal return to the White House from Walter Reed hospital—nicely timed for the evening TV news cycle—was like a stunt his pal Kim Jong Un would pull in Pyongyang: pure strongman street theater.

The big man stood glassy-eyed but indomitable on a balcony: corset, shoulder pads, elevator shoes and a half-pound of orange stage makeup accentuating his extreme virility. All the scene lacked was a laugh track, although in the kinds of dictatorships Trump most admires, it is forbidden to smile.

Big, strong me, puny little you. That was the message.

It was four years almost to the day since Trump mimicked Hillary Clinton stumbling at a campaign appearance after being diagnosed with pneumonia. "She's supposed to fight all these different things, and she can't make it 15 feet to her car," he sneered.

So after they carried him to the hospital in a helicopter, the White House sent out a photo of Trump supposedly hard at work. "Nothing can stop him from working for the American people," daughter Ivanka tweeted. "RELENTLESS!" Alas, a close-up showed Trump relentlessly signing a blank sheet of paper.

They do these things better in North Korea.

Back when I raised cattle, it was axiomatic: never let a sick cow die without trying dexamethasone, the powerful steroid that persuaded Trump he was ten feet tall and bulletproof. I've seen it bring animals too weak to stand back to their feet, although not for long unless the underlying infection had been suppressed. It's a stimulant, not a cure.

In humans, dexamethasone also has psychiatric side effects. (In cows, you can't tell. Possibly Layla the abandoned twin calf imagined herself tyrant queen of the herd before disease carried her away. It's impossible to know.) The commonest problems in human subjects are irritability, aggression, and what the drug label calls "psychotic manifestations."

And wouldn't that be wonderful?

That's just one of the reasons nobody but Trump would have been released from the hospital before his treatment regimen was finished. If he weren't going to a fully-equipped White House medical clinic, that phalanx of white-jacketed physicians who staged press conferences outside Walter Reed would have been flirting with malpractice to do so.

An NPR reporter noticed that all of Dr. Sean Conley's written press releases were preceded by a disclaimer saying in effect, "Donald J. Trump has approved this message."

People saw right through it too. A CNN poll found that "69% of Americans said they trusted little of what they heard from the White House about the President's health, with only 12% saying they trusted almost all of it."

Besides, he wasn't really going "home," merely to a smaller hospital where he can be monitored and treated.

What's more, Trump's euphoria was not only chemically-induced, it's also unlikely to last. Repeated doses of dexamethasone can be quite dangerous. It's administered only in serious circumstances, signifying to physicians who don't work for the White House that he was a whole lot sicker when he went to Walter Reed than anybody wanted to let on.

Then where was the hydroxychloroquine, inquiring minds want to know?

So yes, there's every chance that even Boss Trump, the political superhero with "the body that men fear and women adore" in the words of Fifties professional wrestling champ Dr. Jerry Graham, who was bashing rivals with balsa wood chairs at Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, N.Y., back when Trump was an impressionable lad, will get sicker before he gets better.

(Graham also carried a formidable swag belly, and pretty much invented the elaborate blonde pompadour wrestling villains featured back then. Trump basically stole his whole act.)

But I digress. The point is that anybody tempted to heed Boss Trump's advice—"Don't be afraid of Covid. Don't let it dominate your life"—would be well-advised to wait a few weeks before venturing maskless to one of his campaign rallies. We don't know, in Dr. Conley's words, that he's out of the woods yet. But we do know that he's actively contagious.

We also know that Trump cares not at all which Secret Service agents and White House flunkies get infected. Not to mention those anonymous hordes in their MAGA hats and Trump t-shirts.

Meanwhile, Trump acolyte Rudy Giuliani, himself memorably described by Jimmy Breslin as "a small man in search of a balcony" went on Fox News to mock Joe Biden for wearing a face mask. Not manly, he said between bouts of heavy coughing. Fox News blonde Martha MacCallum said she hoped he tested negative.

So have I no humane feelings for Boss Trump, his attendant courtiers and poltroons? I'd answer that I have exactly same degree of empathy and concern he'd have for me and my loved ones.

I leave it to readers to decide what that might be.

America Can And Will Defeat Trump's Scheme To Tamper With Our Votes

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]

The Metastasizing Delusions That Make Our Real Disasters Worse

This just in: There's no wizard behind the curtain, and nobody's actually in charge. There's no shadowy cabal of billionaires scheming to bring about one-world government. To begin with, nobody clever enough to accumulate that much money believes that such a thing is A.) remotely possible, or B.) even desirable.

If the world seems scary and confusing, that's because it's scarier and more confusing than usual of late, although nowhere near as frightening as it was to Grandpa. Here's the opening stanza of W.H. Auden's great poem, September 1, 1939:

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Auden wrote to commemorate that terrible day Hitler and Stalin invaded Poland, triggering World War II, the most cataclysmic struggle in human history. Some 70 to 85 million people, military and civilian, died before it was over.

(The Soviet Union lost an estimated 24 million citizens. So if Russian leadership seems unduly paranoid and defensive, it's worth remembering that they do have their reasons.)

That said, the COVID pandemic's "unmentionable odour of death" appears to have driven many Americans to embrace preposterous conspiracy theories that provide simple storybook explanations for otherwise incomprehensible events.

Amid the devastating wildfires in Oregon last week, for example, the FBI needed to debunk rumors that the disaster was caused by left-wing arsonists. The agency's Portland office posted a statement on Twitter stating that "the FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue."

Finding their own operations hampered by armed crackpots eager to hunt down imaginary terrorists, one rural Oregon Sheriff's Department posted a Facebook notice: "Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON. THIS IS NOT TRUE! Unfortunately, people are spreading this rumor and it is causing problems."

Would-be vigilantes also got excited about radio transmissions about the BLM setting backfires, unaware that the initials signified the Bureau of Land Management, not Black Lives Matter.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, back home in Yamhill, Oregon seeing after his mother, expressed his frustration with Boss Trump, who "rushed to send in unwanted federal agents to deal with protests and trash fires in downtown Portland, but…seems indifferent when millions of acres and thousands of homes burn across the West."

Oregonians are not alone. Elsewhere, reporters have documented a wave of barely subdued hysteria sweeping the nation regarding busloads of Antifa operatives rumored to be targeting towns from Idaho to New Jersey--invasions that have proven totally imaginary.

Trump and Attorney General William Barr have even spoken of designating ANTIFA a terrorist organization. Alas, writes Rutgers University historian Mark Bray in the Washington Post "Trump cannot designate "ANTIFA" as a terrorist organization because antifa is not an organization. Rather, it is a politics of revolutionary opposition to the far right…You cannot subpoena an idea or a movement."

Mostly an academic movement at that: graduate students and other university-affiliated types blowing off steam. If Antifa's a real threat, who are its leaders? Where's its headquarters? Who's paying those phantom arsonists?

The questions answers itself: Nobody.

Then there's QAnon, the metastasizing conspiracy theory that's grown into a full-blown cult. Initiates believe that beneath his blustering exterior Trump's actually a sort of elephantine Batman, secretly battling a "deep state" cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles led by Hillary Clinton and the actor Tom Hanks.

Also Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and a number of other Hollywood figures. Believers have predicted Clinton's impending arrest more often than my brother Tommy has forecasted the Mets winning the World Series.

Which did happen 34 years ago.

Hillary's arrest? Oh grow up.

Some dope named Jason Gelinas in Berkeley Heights, N.J. recently got outed as the "brains" behind the main QAnon website—possibly as the Prophet Q himself. His employer, Citigroup, fired him, and he's not talking to reporters.

Historians point out the QAnon is basically a reprise of the century-old Russian forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Then it was Europe's Jews who allegedly murdered Christian children to consume their blood at Passover—the infamous "Blood Libel." Jews also secretly ran the banks, the government, and the news media. Their diabolical plan was to "mongrelize" the white race and conquer the world.

Which leads us back to 1939 and the Holocaust.

So what does Boss Trump think about this delusional nonsense? Asked about QAnon, the portly superhero said only that "I understand ... they like me very much, which I appreciate. These are people who love their country."

The Beltway’s Forrest Gump Takes Down Donald Trump

So Bob Woodward went out and found the "named source" Trumpists were clamoring for: Boss Trump himself.

Following a bitter dispute over an anonymously-sourced article in The Atlantic that quoted their hero calling American war dead in a French cemetery "suckers" and "losers" for being fool enough to serve their country, nothing less would have convinced them.

What's more, Woodward had Trump on tape, in his own voice, confiding to the veteran Washington journalist that he understood exactly how infectious and deadly the Covid-19 virus was, and explaining his policy of lying to the public lest he provoke a panic.

Read Now Show less

Trump's 'Sleepy Joe' Slur Is Direct From The Kremlin -- And It's Fake News

In the real world, that is to say the non-televised part of our lives remote from social media, we would shun somebody who went around spreading ugly rumors about neighbors, relatives or co-workers. Not that it never happens. I have a woman friend who resigned from a local charity after a clique of rivals spread a false tale that she'd slipped into dementia, poor thing.

She decided that she wanted nothing more to do with them.

Alas, from the gossips' point of view, the smear campaign worked. Not that my friend isn't better off without them. More than anything, the pretense of compassion made her furious. In time, they'll probably turn against each another, because that's what such people do.

Indeed, something quite similar has been going on in the U.S. presidential campaign. With the help of Russia's infamous Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, the rumor's been spread that Democratic nominee Joe Biden, poor thing, scarcely knows his whereabouts, mistakes his wife for his sister, believes that he's running for the U.S. Senate, and more.

For months, I've been getting emails from Trumpists claiming that Biden can't so much as speak in complete sentences or utter coherent thoughts at all. It's all over social media. Like my woman friend's phony consolers, some express empathy for poor Uncle Joe, cruelly tricked by ruthless Democrats into serving as a stalking horse for the so-called "Squad," four minority Congresswomen with left-of-center views.

Smart and sassy as she is, it's amazing how much Rep. Alexandria Octavio-Cortez scares some Republicans.

Most of my correspondents appear to have been bamboozled by a doctored video making it appear that Biden, who has stuttered all his life due to a speech impediment having nothing to do with intellectual capacity, can scarcely speak. More recently, according to the Washington Post, "White House social media director Dan Scavino shared a manipulated video that falsely showed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden seeming to fall asleep during a television interview, complete with a fake TV headline."

In reality, a 2011 video of a confused interview with singer Harry Belafonte was intercut with a few seconds of Biden looking downward as he listened to another speaker at a 2020 Town Hall. Snoring sounds were added. The whole thing was entirely fictitious.

Readers may recall that, also with Russian help, Trump's 2016 campaign portrayed Hillary Clinton as virtually at death's door.

Boss Trump himself has been all over the Biden-as-dotard theme, taunting his rival as "Slow Joe," "Sleepy Joe" and the like, along with sneering remarks about him hiding in the basement, etc.

For those of us resident in the visible world, the most obvious question about such clumsy propaganda has been: What are the Trumpists going to do/say after the Democratic convention, once Biden has spoken to millions on national TV, and proves to be clear-spoken and damn near eloquent? As, indeed, he did during the Democrats' TV show and has continued to do in campaign appearances ever since.

Naïve question. Trump turned on a dime, asserting that Biden was obviously hopped-up on some performance-enhancing drug. He demanded that drug-tests be administered before the forthcoming candidate debates (always assuming that Trump himself shows up.) Biden has ignored him, much as Hillary Clinton ignored the same demand in 2016.

It's all "kayfabe," a term of art for fictive storylines used to get professional wrestling fans worked up before pay-per-view grudge matches—strictly part of the promotion. Also what Trump probably intended when he tweeted about "constant negative press covfefe" that time. As a veteran of WWE promotions, he knows all about it.

Meanwhile, it just may be significant that the Department of Homeland Security tried to hide a report documenting that the theme of Biden's impaired mental health came directly from the Kremlin. It cited numerous reports on Russian state media outlets Sputnik and RT (Russia Today) dating back to last September. DHS claimed it deep-sixed the document because it was "poorly written." Yeah, right.

The chicken-and-egg question of whether Putin or the Trump campaign invented the smear isn't worth pursuing. The purpose of such propaganda isn't to persuade; it's almost the opposite. If Trumpism, like its Russian cousin Putinism, has proved nothing else, it's that adepts believe whatever they need to believe.

Everybody else stays confused. Mere reality be damned. Indeed the crazier the political conspiracy theory—witness the QAnon superstition—the more it excites some people. There's an element of psychological projection involved too, because occasional verbal stumbles aside, it's not Joe Biden who talks gibberish, non-sequiturs and contradicts himself daily.

It's Trump.

In the final analysis, Kremlin-style propaganda doesn't have to make sense. Its ultimate goal isn't to establish what Trump aide Kellyanne Conway memorably called "alternative facts." It's to deny that there's a verifiable reality at all.

Because where there is no truth, there is only power.

Why Most Soldiers -- And Most Americans -- Will Oppose Boss Trump

Here are two interesting political straws in the wind: According to a recent poll in the Military Times, active duty service-members favor Joe Biden over Boss Trump in the upcoming election, 41-37. Given that a poll on the same date in 2016 showed Trump favored by 20 points over Hillary Clinton, this looks like a significant shift.

Almost half of uniformed soldiers (49.9 percent) have an unfavorable opinion of Trump compared to 38 percent favorable, marginally worse than his reputation among civilians.

This too: media critic Eric Boehlert's Press Run website has compiled the bad news about Trump's TV ratings. Not only did the Democratic National Convention draw many more viewers nightly than the Republican event a week later, but "Trump's convention acceptance speech was the lowest-rated one in primetime history, drawing 24 million viewers. (John McCain's acceptance speech drew 39 million viewers in 2008.) Trump drew fewer viewers than Joe Biden did for his acceptance speech the week before."

Several million fewer. Indeed, if the Trump administration were a TV show, it might be on its way to cancellation. "Trump's tepid Nielsen numbers are bad news for the president," Boehlert notes "since he's obsessed with television ratings."

He often boasts about his lofty ratings, even when he has to make them up. Press Run cites an instance in November 2018 when Trump claimed that 9.2 million viewers tuned in to watch him on Fox News Sunday. The actual viewership was 1.7 million.

Could be he's simply over-exposed. Appearing on every night of the GOP convention may have been a mistake. You can hardly turn on the TV without seeing Trump's scowling mug. Americans, Boehlert notes, aren't crazy about reruns. It's nevertheless significant that Neilsen ratings for the Republican show were down 25 percent from the 2016 convention.

Almost needless to say, Trump claims the numbers are rigged.

It's easy to predict that he'll call the Military Times poll crooked too, if he doesn't simply snarl at any reporter who asks about them and flee the podium. Between insulting John McCain's Vietnam War heroism and begging off a World War I memorial service in France because he might get his hair wet—French, German, British and Canadian leaders braved the rain—Trump has done little to inspire respect among soldiers.

Most telling is that "Only about 17 percent of those surveyed felt the White House has properly handled reports that Russian officials offered bounties for Afghan fighters to target and kill American troops, an issue Trump has dismissed as unreliable intelligence."

Given that 81 percent in the U.S. military view Russia as a significant national security threat, Trump's cowering before Vladimir Putin and belittling of NATO have also hurt.

Maybe he can throw himself a big parade, like Kim Jong Un.

Meanwhile, the chaos, disease and disorder president appears to believe that only stoking racial strife can help him eke out an Electoral College win. (I'd say there's no chance of Trump winning a majority; he'll be fortunate to lose the popular vote by fewer than five million votes.)

Back when that platoon of self-styled militiamen made their way into the Michigan statehouse, Trump tweeted LIBERATE MICHIGAN. Would he encourage White House visitors carrying AR-15 assault rifles? Me, I wondered what was going to happen if one of those dopes pulled the trigger.

Well, we learned the other night in Kenosha, didn't we?

And then the next night in Portland. Is there anybody in the USA who thinks the violence won't escalate?

See, you don't get order without law. And a chief executive who urges supporters to bring guns into politics, or the police to rough-up suspects, as Trump has done repeatedly, fosters lawlessness and chaos.

But somehow it's supposed to be Joe Biden's fault. Apparently because Democrats generally oppose cops shooting black men in the back. So here's what Biden said in Pittsburgh on August 31: "I want to make it absolutely clear…Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It's lawless. It's plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change and only bring destruction."

Biden's since doubled-down: "[Trump] wouldn't even repudiate one of his supporters who is charged with murder because of his attacks on others," he wrote. "He is too weak, too scared of the hatred he has stirred to put an end to it."

Look, call your friendly neighborhood criminal defense lawyer. You can't plead self-defense if you're breaking the law: such as a minor parading around with a gun he's not legally permitted to carry while defying a curfew. Trump can't pardon the Rittenhouse kid either. Murder's a state, not a federal charge.

Meanwhile, anybody who doesn't understand that violence and thuggery exist at both political extremes can't have been paying attention since…

Well, since when? Chicago in 1968? Berlin in 1933?

Trump Feels Utter Contempt For His Army Of Marks And Dupes

Perhaps you remember what some called the "Information Superhighway," and how it was going to deliver us to wisdom and enlightenment. Alas, it hasn't quite worked out, has it?

More like the Freeway of Delusion, it would appear.

In the era of social media and satellite TV, millions of Americans who struggled with tenth grade biology now fancy themselves experts on infectious diseases and their treatment. Real scientists and genuine expertise they deride as "elitist."

Never mind that the United States of Trump has accumulated almost 24 percent of the world's Covid-19 deaths with four percent of its population. The same government that makes you wear pants in public now requires masks. It's tyranny, they say.

Boss Trump dispenses quack cures on national TV, even as millions of his supporters enlist in an online political cult that basically recapitulates the themes of the Salem witchcraft trials of the 1690s.

The ongoing wonder is how individuals so gullible as to subscribe to QAnon can be capable of holding down jobs, getting the trash to the curb each week, or even dressing themselves without help.

Last week, Trump described this parliament of loons as patriots "who love our country" and not so coincidentally love him—a holy warrior whom they believe is secretly conducting a subterranean battle against Satan-worshiping, cannibalistic pedophiles led by Hillary Clinton.

It's a festival of lunacy the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when a score of human beings, dogs and even barnyard animals were executed for witchcraft, most by public hanging.

Much of the Salem evidence was "spectral," that is, ghosts. Almost needless to say, there was a lot about women having sex with demons and, to quote one victim's confession, "the dark rituals which bind them together in service of Satan."

Historians partly blame an outbreak of rye ergot—a fungus that forms hallucinogenic drugs in bread. But there's always a strong element of authoritarian religion and sexual fantasy to these things. People bored and bewildered by ordinary life get their rocks off imagining Hillary abusing and torturing children. It's pornography for True Believers.

If you want to know how crazy it can get, Google "QAnon" and "adrenochrome." That's a drug allegedly harvested from the pituitary glands of tortured children. Hillary and Huma Abedin are supposedly addicted. (Hint: it's a make-believe high invented by Hunter S. Thompson in his stoned classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.)

Anyway, how long do you suppose before Kamala Harris is accused of witchcraft?

My man Charles P. Pierce saw this stuff coming in his terrific book Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free.

Pierce describes the Three Great Premises of Idiot America:

1.) "Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units
2.) Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough
3.) Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it."

Enter Donald J. Trump, reality TV tycoon and professional wrestling shill. Possessed of absolute contempt for his audience of dupes, Trump runs his political campaigns exactly like a WWF promotion.

Heroes become heels in the blink of an eye. One day you're Secretary of Defense Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis, and the next day you're out. A loser, a has-been, a never-was. It's happened over and over.

Knowing very little and utterly without shame, Trump can believe virtually anything that's convenient for him to believe at any given moment—confident that his "base" will follow him almost anywhere.

Keeping track of his more than 20,000 documented lies is virtually impossible—much less refuting them. Two weeks ago, CBS correspondent Paula Reid asked him why he keeps claiming that he, and he alone, was able to pass the "Veterans Choice" bill that was, in fact, signed into law by President Obama in 2014. He turned and stormed out of the press conference.

How much follow-up have you seen?

Last Monday, Trump claimed that the Democratic Party cut the words "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance during their national convention. Absolutely false. He just flat made it up. Video evidence is readily available.

He alleged that Democrats planned to circulate 80 million mail-in ballots to non-registered voters and dispatch operatives to collect them.

Totally illegal, totally imaginary.

Meanwhile, Trump wages war on mere reality. Anything he doesn't want cultists to know, he calls a "hoax." CNN's Brian Stelter has been keeping track. Writing in the New York Times, Stelter documents Trump crying "hoax" 18 times in 2017; 63 times in 2018, and a "a whopping 345 times" last year. "[A]fter the news broke that Russia paid bounties to militants for killing American service members, Mr. Trump tweeted, it's "just another "HOAX!"So who are you going to believe America, Trump or your lying eyes?

The Bedrock Values Of An Irish-American Democrat

It's always tempting to write about politics in portentous terms. Joe Biden as the last Irish Catholic Democrat, passing the torch to a new multi-ethnic coalition, something like that. Indeed Biden himself has described his candidacy as transitional—speaking mainly in generational terms, a 77 year old politician embarking on what could be his final campaign.

"I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else," he said among younger Democratic candidates last March. "There is an entire generation of leaders that you saw standing behind me. They are the future of this country."

Read Now Show less

Biden Is Cruising While Trump Is Losing It

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden did something simultaneously clever and stupid recently in full view of TV cameras. He went bicycle riding with his wife Jill at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with no helmet.

Smart because it's basically impossible for a 77 year-old man to look like anything but a total dork in a helmet—summoning for geezer Democrats the image of Michael Dukakis riding in a tank, the photo op blunder that may have settled the 1988 presidential election.

Read Now Show less

The Trump Cult’s Kool-Aid Is Clorox On Ice

Rule One in every cult is to ignore everybody except Dear Leader. He alone can explain the worldwide conspiracy against himself and his acolytes. Alternate sources of information cannot be trusted. It's all Fake News, demonic lies from the pit of hell calculated to deceive.

Rule Two is that only Dear Leader can protect and save you.

So ignore all the hearses. Pay no attention to the so-called "fact" that the United States, with roughly four percent of the world's population, has 24 percent of the coronavirus pandemic's fatalities. 158,000 corpses? Those people were all going to die eventually anyway.

Read Now Show less

Moms, Dads, Teachers, Vets Stand Up To Boss Trump's Personal Gestapo In Portland

"Down with the Wall of Moms!"

"Death to the Leaf-Blower Dads!"

In George Orwell's classic novel 1984, members of the Inner Party stood in front of their telescreens daily to revile Big Brother's enemies and exult in his power. "Long live Boss Trump!"

Just so Fox News' excited coverage of Portland's "Wall of Moms" in their Covid masks and bicycle helmets confronting Trump's mercenaries in full combat gear. A second group calling themselves "Leaf-Blower Dads" are using lawn equipment to force tear gas barrages back into in the faces of the Storm Troopers who fired them.

Classic American ingenuity, if you think about it. Also a reminder that in Portland, the majority of dangerous, violent "anarchists" Boss Trump warns against are unarmed women and suburban men with yards and garages who know their way around Home Depot.

But they're not having an invasion of Trump's personal Gestapo: paramilitary forces wearing no insignia, with no badge numbers or names, and accountable to nobody.

People are coming out in thousands to defend their community from an invasion. There's also a "Wall of Vets," and "Teachers against Tyrants." That's why Portland's mayor, Oregon's governor and its two U.S. Senators have demanded the Federal agents' removal. They'd had the situation under control before the troops arrived. Which is not to nominate protest leaders for sainthood. There are opportunists and fools of every political persuasion.

Also, history teaches, provocateurs all too willing to smash windows, loot and burn for purposes of their own. During rioting at the Chicago Democratic convention in 1968, some of the angriest hotheads turned out to cops impersonating anti-Vietnam war activists.

In Portland, however, Boss Trump's crowing about his agents tear-gassing Mayor Ted Wheeler as he addressed protest marchers ("They knocked the hell out of him," he boasted on Fox News) was received with contempt: the bravado of a flabby blowhard who's hidden behind bodyguards all his life. He has approximately the same chance of winning Oregon's electoral votes as I do—and I'm not on the ballot.

If that offends you, dear reader, riddle me this: what would have been your reaction if a phalanx of anonymous, masked Federal agents had assaulted, say, a Tea Party demonstration during the Obama administration?

If you're a conservative, it might be like Paul Rosenzweig's, a career Republican who was one of Kenneth Starr's keenest sleuths in the Great Bill Clinton Sex Investigation. Writing in The Atlantic, he argued that invading Portland "is a complete corruption of conservative ideals. There is nothing conservative about unconstitutional police activity, and there is nothing conservative about unilateral federal intervention in state affairs. Those are the acts of an authoritarian."

Rosenzweig and co-author Arthur Rizer also quote Tom Ridge, former Republican governor of Pennsylvania and Secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush: DHS "was not established to be the president's personal militia."

See, while prating about being a "Law and Order president," Trump is doing everything he can to provoke violence, hoping it will frighten suburban voters into holding Joe Biden somehow responsible—despite Biden's history as a pro-cop liberal throughout his long career. Also to somehow distract voters from the 150,000 Americans who have died due to his negligence and incompetence in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of course when Richard Nixon successfully played the "Law and Order" card in 1968, Lyndon Johnson was president. Nixon's opponent was Vice-president Hubert Humphrey. So far polls show that Trump has had no success convincing anybody outside his hardcore base that others are responsible for the violence he's working so hard to provoke.

But there are three months to go, and discord is spreading across the country. Seattle, Oakland, Louisville, Aurora, CO, etc. Rival groups are carrying guns and itching for a fight.

In Austin, a man carrying an AK-47 got shot to death by a man in a car suspected of trying to run civil rights marchers down. The mayor of Richmond, VA has alleged that "white supremacists marching under the banner of Black Lives Matter" violently disrupted an otherwise peaceful protest.

The only things restraining Trump are his cowardice and fear of getting caught. "Rightly or wrongly," writes my man Charles Pierce "this puts the responsibility on the protestors themselves…it's time for the burning of police stations and other acts of violence to stop. It's time for folks to stop hurling themselves mindlessly into the face of faceless law-enforcement."

Way past time, actually. In Portland (and elsewhere), activists could foil Trump by simply staging demonstrations some distance from Federal property. Let the Trump Troopers gas each other. Activists need to shout down apostles of violence; turn vandals and arsonists over to legitimate law enforcement. Above all, emulate John Lewis, the great civil rights icon lying in state, who understood the folly of rioting and the overwhelming moral authority of non-violent mass resistance.

Roger Stone Is A Wise Guy — So Treat Him Like One

Even amid the endless torrent of malevolent incompetence that characterizes the Boss Trump regime, some days stand out. One such was his Friday night commutation of career lowlife Roger Stone's 40-month sentence for lying to Congress, obstructing a congressional investigation, and witness tampering. The federal judge who handed it down described Stone's crimes as "covering up for the president."

Specifically, he obstructed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. In the immediate aftermath, Stone bragged to veteran journalist Howard Fineman about why he lied and who he was protecting. "He [Trump] knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn't."

Read Now Show less