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Michelle Obama made the cover of Vogue magazine three times. Hillary Clinton not only graced the cover in her first lady days but also, as the candidate running against Donald Trump in 2016, received the magazine’s first and (so far) only political endorsement.
Conspicuously missing is the current first lady, Melania Trump. She would seem a natural in that she’s a former model and a beauty. Her magnificent posture is an inspiration to us all.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour recently confronted Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour with the indisputable fact that far more Democratic women appear on her prized cover than their Republican sisters. Wintour neither denied nor apologized for that imbalance or the omission of Trump.

Wintour said choices for the cover tend to be women who are “icons and inspiring to women from a global perspective.” Like most of the fashion business, she regards Trump world with disgust, adding, “I don’t think it’s a moment not to take a stand.”

Is Vogue magazine being unfair in keeping Trump’s third bride off its cover? “Is it fair?” is not the right question. Vogue is a privately owned publication and can include or exclude anyone it chooses from its cover or inside pages.

(For the record, Barbara and Laura Bush both had profiles inside. I happen to think that Barbara Bush would have made for a glorious cover.)

There is also the business calculation. Knowing Vogue‘s readership, one doesn’t imagine that an issue honoring someone so closely associated with Donald Trump on the cover would fly off the shelves. It would probably set off a blizzard of subscription cancellations.

I generally don’t have strong feelings for or against first ladies, but a magazine with a Trump on the cover for any reason other than affairs of state would be avoided. Lifestyle magazines, such as Vogue, are for relaxation and escape. Reminders that Trump is president are jarring, even after two years of him.

In olden days, Vogue’s cover was graced by a diverse group of northern Europeans — beauties with roots in countries ranging from England to Norway. Guess who had the most covers: Lauren Hutton with 26.

The magazine has moved in recent years to feature a more ethnically and racially diverse cover. That is a good thing. Another positive move was joining the healthy body initiative, which meant moving away from very young, horribly thin models.

But in its efforts to retain younger readers straying to Elle magazine, Vogue devalued its brand by putting the likes of Kim Kardashian, a professional vulgarian, on the cover. (I wouldn’t touch that issue, either.) Wintour’s stand that those chosen are “inspiring to women” sort of falls flat in the case of Kardashian, with her sexual exhibitionism, video tape included.

Melania Trump’s representative told Fox News that the first lady has “more important” things to do than fret about her absence from Vogue covers. Stephanie Grisham, recently chosen to replace Sarah Sanders as White House spokeswoman, went on to say, “This just further demonstrates how biased the fashion magazine industry is, and shows how insecure and small-minded Anna Wintour is.”

Of course, fashion publishing has the right to be as biased as it wants to be. And so does every other private-sector industry. Whether being so is bad for business is for the owners to decide.

Meanwhile, this blip of “bad” publicity from the White House is undeniably good publicity for Vogue.

So Wintour owes no one an explanation for keeping Trump off its covers. And if she wants to say she felt “honored” by Obama’s repeat presence or subtitle Clinton’s cover shot “The Extraordinary Hillary Clinton,” she can.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

IMAGE: Melania Trump takes the stage after her introduction by her husband, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, at the Republican National Convention, July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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