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GOP Operatives Are Starting To Freak Out As Much As The Rest Of Us About Donald Trump

Published with permission from AlterNet.

In the past 24 hours, Donald Trump has left many wondering whether he even still wants to be president. Judging by what has come out of his mouth in just one day, it’s becoming harder to tell.

Of course, you could argue this has been Trump’s strategy from the start. His stream-of-garbage/consciousness style has gotten him this far, so why would he stop now? Yet barely two weeks after nominating Trump, a growing number of Republicans are beginning to consider what might happen if he were just …to quit.

This is according to Jon Karl, the chief White House correspondent for ABC News, who reported this morning that Republican officials have begun planning for this “absolutely unprecedented” outcome.

“First of all, I am told RNC chairman Reince Priebus is furious, that he has had multiple discussions with Trump telling him he needs to drastically change course,” said Karl. “But here’s the news: I am told that senior officials at the party are actively exploring what would happen if Trump dropped out, how to replace him on the ballot.”

Unfortunately, such an outcome could only happen if Trump voluntarily dropped out of the race. If this were to occur, continued Karl, a “complicated process” would follow whereby the 168 members of the RNC could choose a new candidate. This would ”have to happen by early September.”

In other words, the Republicans have a month to try to force Trump’s hand. Just this week, both Meg Whitman (finance chair to Chris Christie’s presidential campaign) and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) have said they are voting for Hillary Clinton. Paul Ryan, John McCain and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have also come out against Trump, though they’ve maintained their endorsements of him.

“He is so unpredictable right now,” said Karl on the feelings within the Republican Party. “They are so unable to control his message, that they just don’t know and clearly think it is a possibility, which is why they’re looking at these rules.”

This is all, of course, wishful thinking because … well, Donald Trump. “Even if people don’t like me, they have to vote for me. They have no choice,” Trump said Tuesday to a group of supporters in Ashburn, Virginia. He added, “Even if you can’t stand Donald Trump, you think Donald Trump is the worst, you’re going to vote for me.”

Despite Trump’s insurmountable narcissism, if he does continue on his current trajectory the chances are increasingly likely he’ll lose come November.FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast shows that in the past week Clinton has risen from being the underdog to having a 68 percent likelihood of winning.

Which comes as a relief after what Trump enabler Joe Scarborough revealed on his “Morning Joe” show earlier today.

Watch the full ABC interview with Jon Karl below.

Robin Scher is a freelance writer from South Africa currently based in New York. He tweets infrequently @RobScherHimself.

Photo: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus listens to a question during an interview in Washington May 6, 2016.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The Teflon Don And The Tale Of The Missing Sewage

Published with permission from AlterNet.

Doesn’t a “Trump Sewage Scandal” have an obvious ring to it? Like Ben & Jerry’s, or Rocky and Bullwinkle, Trump and sewage just sound like they go together. Which is why the Daily Beast’s latest report on a little-known incident involving mega-developer Trump, millions of gallons of raw Manhattan sewage, some paid-off city officials, and the Hudson River sounds like a story that almost writes itself.

Here’s a brief rundown.

It was 1974 and Trump had just got his grubby little paws on the old Penn Central railyards on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Running 13 blocks along the Hudson River, the plot was just one of Trump’s many prophesied golden geese that would turn out to be more of a painted rubber chicken. In this instance, Trump had planned a tallest-ever 154-story skyscraper to be used both for residential housing and new television studios for NBC. Trump planned to call the studios Television City. (If only he was as good at following through on his ideas as coming up with names for them.)

At least a decade would pass before Trump began acting on his plans. In that time, Ruth Messinger became the Manhattan borough president, and the two were soon embroiled — as are most who cross Trump’s half-baked plans — in a bitter feud.

The disagreement was quite simple. Trump wanted his skyscraper and Messinger wanted to know what he planned to do with the all the sewage it would generate. Given that the city’s existing treatment plant for the Upper West Side area was already functioning above its capacity and Trump’s development was estimated to generate an extra 5 million gallons per day, this seemed a rather insurmountable problem. But then, that’s assuming you’re dealing with someone with even an iota of civic consciousness.

Fast forward to 1992, and Ruth Messinger had now taken her case to the city’s environmental commissioner. In a letter, Messinger urged the commissioner to hold off on approving the project “unless there is sustainable, reliable, and certain commitment to mitigate the anticipated sewage flows.” She would later testify that “there is no justification” for any claims that the city’s existing sewage plant could handle Trump’s new development.

Seems pretty airtight, right? But then something miraculous happened. The city’s weekly sewage flow reports suddenly showed 24 million fewer gallons of sewage coming from the Upper West Side. This was of course good news for Trump’s development, which could now easily be accommodated by the sewage plant’s capacity. And just like that, at the very moment Trump seemed most stumped, he managed to pull a rabbit from his hat like the Gregory House of skullduggery.

So, how did he do it?

Rich Herschlag, chief borough engineer at the time, who first noticed the strange dip in the sewage flow reports, decided to find out. “It was as if 150,000 Manhattanites just vanished,” Herschlag told David Cay Johnston of the Daily Beast.

Herschlag hit a number of dead ends and eventually sought assistance from the United States attorney for Manhattan, Mary Jo White, who launched her own investigation into the matter.

Another few years would pass before the real story broke. By now it was 1995, Herschlag was out of a job and the Trump project was well underway. It was also the year that, in Johnston’s term, “the best reporter in New York City, Wayne Barrett” wrote an article for the Village Voice titled “Ruth and Donald’s Artful Deal.

It’s really worth reading the whole story. In short, Trump had managed to lobby/bribe a number of city officials including, yes, allegedly Messinger (who was running for higher office at the time), into supporting his project in spite of the rather obvious implications it held for the city’s sewage. Even U.S. attorney White eventually dropped her inquiry and has avoided ever addressing the issue, including as Johnston notes, “whether any instruction flowed down to her from the Bill Clinton White House, which at the time Trump courted and publicly supported.”

Further, according to Johnston, here’s what Herschlag eventually came to discover about the mysterious missing sewage:

It may be the raw sewage was simply diverted into the Hudson River, but Herschlag believes another answer is highly likely. He learned that there are two independent sets of sewage flow data. One is from the collector pipes, the other at the entry to the treatment plant. Herschlag believes someone tampered with the plant intake meter, but neglected to fudge the collector-pipe meters so their numbers would match, either out of hubris—what are the odds someone would compare the two?—or laziness.

Trump ended up selling most of his interests in the plot to some Hong Kong investors in 1997. By then he was able to turn a tidy profit, as the land had already been approved by the city for development.

Throughout the Trump campaign, we’ve been assured of one thing: as president, Teflon Don’s going to make the country “great” again. Great is a relative term. This incident is just one of many that demonstrates exactly what Trump means by great. Great for his business, not so great for humans.

Robin Scher is a freelance writer from South Africa currently based in New York. He tweets infrequently @RobScherHimself.

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures while delivering a speech at the Alumisourse Building in Monessen, Pennsylvania, U.S., June 28, 2016.  REUTERS/Louis Ruediger 

Melania Trump Blames Jewish Reporter For ‘Provoking’ Neo-Nazis

Published with permission from Alternet.

In a recent interview with DuJour magazine, Melania Trump blamed the barrage of antisemitic hate speech piled on a Jewish journalist who had profiled her to inaccurate reporting that “provoked” Trump fans.

It’s hard to tell what’s worse: the irony of a Trump accusing someone of speaking an untruth (in this instance, a well-regarded and fact-checked reporter from GQ), or that Melania seems to have few qualms including neo-nazis in her fanbase.

The article about Melania Trump was published last month by Julia Ioffe and clearly ruffled Melania’s feathers, since it dug into her family’s past. Though she tweeted her displeasure, no actual innaccuracies have emerged. Ioffe subsequently filed a police report following dozens of death threats from Trump supporters. Among some of the threats were images of Ioffe’s face superimposed on pictures of Auschwitz prisoners.

Melania specifically took umbrage with Ioffe’s depiction of her family. In the article, Ioffe presented information suggesting Melania has a 50-year-old half-brother from Slovenia who has never been acknowledged by her father. In turn, Melania said in her DuJour interview, that Ioffe had “an agenda” in reporting this information. She did not specify what the agenda was.

The piece in DuJour is decidely puffy, with sentences like, “This woman is a few months, and swing states, away from becoming our next first lady, but very little is known about her.” But the writer does mention the controversy about the GQ piece, asking, “So if people put a swastika on my face once this article comes out, will [Melania] denounce them?”

To this, Melania replied, “I don’t control my fans, but I don’t agree with what they’re doing. I understand what you mean, but there are people out there who maybe went too far. She provoked them.”

Of course, Donald took an equally fence-sitting stance in his statement to the press. “I don’t have a message to the fans, a woman wrote an article that was inaccurate.” He has also admitted that he has not read the article.

Want a definition of secretly having your (white supremacist) cake and eating it too?

Meet the Trumps.

Robin Scher is a freelance writer from South Africa currently based in New York. He tweets infrequently @RobScherHimself.

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during his victory speech as his wife Melania, looks on at his 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary night rally in Manchester, New Hampshire February 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Jim Bourg