Trumpism 🐘 Newsbites
Trump personally blocked conspiracy-theorist lawyer Sidney Powell from becoming a White House special counsel, report says
  • President Donald Trump has told Sidney Powell that he will not make her White House special counsel for investigating voter fraud in the 2020 election, The Daily Beast reported.
  • At a meeting last Friday, Trump reportedly floated the idea of appointing Powell, and top aides including his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani had opposed it strongly.
  • Powell, an attorney and conspiracy theorist, had been seen at the White House in the past fortnight, pitching Trump legal strategies.
  • Giuliani confirmed the president's decision to oust Powell on Tuesday, telling The Daily Beast: "She is on her own."
  • The Trump campaign distanced itself from Powell in November, with The New York Times reporting at the time that she was "too conspiratorial even for him [Trump]."

We've finally arrived at the moment every Republican should've seen coming
  • The moment everyone saw coming is here, Trump is turning on the Republican Party.
  • He already lashed out at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for acknowledging that Vice President Joe Biden won the election.
  • Now he's setting up an opportunity to further suss out who in the GOP is unwilling to entertain his delusions with the Electoral College vote in Congress.
  • That challenge will fail. When it does, Trump will be angriest at the Republicans who he feels betrayed him. He will blame them for losing the White House.
  • In true Trump fashion, he will forget all the loyalty he ever received from the Republicans who voted against him will be forgotten and he will be focused on revenge.
Perhaps the party thought this day would never come. In the rosiest of scenarios for the GOP, Trump would've won a second term and left the White House with good feelings about his fellow conservatives.

But that didn't happen. Trump lost, and instead of cutting bait after that was clear, the GOP decided to indulge his fragile ego to avoid his wrath. Perhaps the party thought that at one point surely this grown man would accept that he lost. But anyone who has watched Trump over this presidency (or any other point in his life) could've told you that would never happen. He never takes responsibility for any failure. Instead, he casts the blame on someone else.

And right now, Trump is setting things up so that "someone else" is the GOP.

... No doubt part of Trump's "bulls---" will be turning those 20 million supporters against the Republican party — the party he will believe betrayed him.

Republicans should've known Trump was not a man that could be trusted with party leadership. His professional life is littered with bankruptcy and fraud. When the party allowed him to become the nominee in 2016 it was asking for disaster, and it's getting what it deserves.

Democratic lawmaker says Trump campaign shell company was a campaign committee, likely broke law by not reporting or filing with the FEC
  • Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan is asking the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission to investigate the Trump campaign's shell company.
  • "If Mr. Kushner's American Made Media Consultants did in fact spend $617 million as reported, he and his associates – which include additional Trump family members as well as the Vice President's nephew – could face penalties amounting to more than one billion dollars," the Wisconsin congressman wrote in the letter first obtained by Insider.
  • Pocan joins two other Democratic House members who are seeking an investigation of the shell company, citing Insider's reporting.
  • The Trump campaign has said no laws were broken with the use of the shell company.
Pocan's complaint is the second in five days filed by members of Congress. Trump's campaign has regularly said that the campaign broke no laws using AMMC.

On Friday, citing Insider's reporting, Reps. Ted Lieu of California and Kathleen Rice of New York, both Democrats, asked the FBI and FEC to investigate Trump's campaign for what they argue could "violate several laws," including a federal prohibition on using campaign cash for personal uses.

The former Blackwater guards Trump pardoned were convicted of killing 14 Iraqi civilians, including 2 children
  • President Donald Trump pardoned four men convicted over an infamous 2007 massacre of civilians in Iraq on Tuesday night.
  • Blackwater guards Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard opened fire in a busy section of Baghdad during an incident that resulted in the unjustified killings of 14 civilians, including two children.
  • The youngest victim was a 9-year-old boy named Ali Mohammed Hafedh Abdul Razzaq.
  • A top Democratic senator decried the pardons as a "disgrace," and an Iraqi man shot in the incident questioned why he bothered testifying against the men.
Trump pardoned Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard, military veterans who previously worked for Blackwater Worldwide. The security firm, which now exists under another name, was previously contracted by the State Department to provide protection for diplomats in Iraq. The company was founded by Erik Prince, Trump's education secretary's brother.

Slatten, Slough, Liberty, and Heard were involved in a tragedy of the Iraq War known as the Nisour Square massacre. They were part of an armored convoy that opened fire in a crowded area of Baghdad, using machine guns, sniper fire, and grenade launchers against civilians.

The incident took place on September 16, 2007 and resulted in 14 deaths that FBI investigators determined were unjustified. Seventeen people were killed in total.

"Many were shot while inside civilian vehicles that were attempting [to] flee from the convoy. One victim was shot in the chest while standing in the street with his hands up. Another was injured from a grenade fired into a nearby girls' school," US Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said of the killings in 2008, according to the Associated Press.

One FBI agent referred to the incident as the "My Lai massacre of Iraq," referring to the 1968 massacre of civilians by US soldiers in Vietnam.

The killings, which escalated tensions between the US and Iraq, were condemned around the world and pushed the US to reassess its use of private contractors in war zones.

A statement from the White House suggested the pardons for the four former Blackwater guards were "broadly supported by the public," pointing to approval from people like Fox News' Pete Hegseth and a list of Republican lawmakers in Congress.

Meanwhile, Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project, said the president had "hit a disgraceful new low with the Blackwater pardons."

"Pardoning these murderers is a disgrace," Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a tweet.

"They shot women and kids who had their hands in the air. But it's all part of a plan to limit Biden's national security tools. These pardons will greatly damage US-Iraq relations, at a critical moment," Murphy added.

Haider Ahmed, a former taxi driver who was shot four times in the leg during the 2007 incident, on Wednesday questioned why he bothered testifying given the pardon.

"I went to that court because I thought there is a real law there. A law where I could take my rights, regardless of my color or religion," Ahmed said, according to the Washington post. "I told the court the truth. I told them how they were just shooting at us randomly."

"Why did I bother?" he added.

Responding to the pardons, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said, "Pardoning monstrous criminals will leave a dark mark on the history of presidential pardons."

... The US Embassy in Iraq offered the families of the victims $10,000, acknowledging that this could not truly compensate them for their loss. After initially refusing to take the money, Ali's parents agreed to accept it on the condition that half of the money be donated to the family of a US service member killed in Iraq. The boy's mother personally delivered the money to the embassy, according to The Nation.

When Mohammed Hafedh Abdulrazzaq Kinani, Ali's father, was called to testify against his son's killers, he cried uncontrollably in the courtroom, according to The New York Times. The testimonies presented during the 2014 trial haunted some of the jurors, who said they were unable to sleep afterwards.

During the sentencing of the Blackwater guards, Ali's father said: "Today we see who will win. The law? Or Blackwater?"

The latest Trump pardons follow a pattern. Last year, the president pardoned Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, both of whom had been charged with or convicted of war crimes. He also interfered in the war crimes trial of former Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher.

A deputy to Eric Trump helped his family build a campaign shell company to protect the president from grift. But the secretive operation morphed into a mystery — even for top Trump campaign staffers.
  • One of Eric Trump's top deputies played an important role overseeing the Trump campaign shell company that spent $617 million during the 2020 presidential race, sources told Insider.
  • In one instance, the Trump campaign paid an extra 2 percent fee on all ads aired from a firm tied to its chief strategist, Jason Miller, Trump advisors told Insider.
  • But much of the spending made through American Made Media Consultants remains a mystery, according to Trump advisors and an Insider analysis of Federal Election Commission records.
  • The Trump campaign may have violated federal election laws with the arrangement. A trio of Democratic lawmakers have asked the FEC and the Justice Department to investigate, and a campaign watchdog filed a civil complaint with the FEC.
The Trump campaign shell company that helped hide $617 million in 2020 presidential campaign spending was almost exclusively a Trump family production, run in part by a top deputy to Eric Trump, Insider has learned.

That Eric Trump deputy, attorney Alex Cannon, worked closely to run American Made Media Consultants with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump daughter-in-law Lara Trump, and former campaign manager Brad Parscale. Together, they built a campaign shell company so powerful and opaque that key Trump campaign aides feared what they might uncover if they learned too much about its operations, according to interviews with more than a dozen Trump advisors and Republicans close to the campaign.

Vast swaths of AMMC's spending still remain a mystery to the public and Trump's own campaign team, although Insider was able to uncover some of American Made Media Consultants' expenditures based on interviews and public documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

... The AMMC shell company was originally created by the Trump children and Parscale as a means to protect Trump from exorbitant consultant fees and accusations of grifting, many of which had been levied at Parscale for his dual role running the campaign and approving payments to himself, the Trump advisors told Insider.

But as the campaign evolved during 2019 and into the 2020 sprint, AMMC was also used to make secret payments to Lara Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., who doubled as the Trump campaign's national finance director.

It also facilitated large payments — not disclosed publicly — to top campaign strategist Jason Miller, through an arrangement with the campaign firm he worked for before joining the Trump campaign.

... "With Trump it's all about him and money and everyone around him took it to the Nth degree," said another Republican close to the Trump campaign. "It's truly a criminal enterprise."

Trump vetoes $741 billion defense bill over his completely unrelated spat with social media companies and against the wishes of top Republicans
  • President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed a $741 billion defense bill, setting up a showdown with Congress.
  • The bill — the National Defense Authorization Act — passed with a veto-proof majority in both chambers.
  • Trump has taken issue with the bill because it does not address his assertion that social media companies are biased against conservatives, which is unrelated to national defense.
  • By vetoing the bill, Trump has pitted himself against top Republicans in the final days of his presidency.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed a $741 billion defense bill, setting up a fight with Congress that could lead to the first successful veto override of his presidency.

This was the ninth veto of Trump's tenure, and none of the prior eight vetoes were overridden by Congress.

The National Defense Authorization Act has been passed in Congress and signed by presidents without much fanfare for six decades, but Trump has taken an unusual stance against the annual defense bill. The 2021 NDAA passed with a veto-proof majority in both chambers, enjoying overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill authorizes appropriations for the Defense Department and defense-related activities in other federal agencies.

Trump pardons former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted of multiple felonies and described as a 'grave counterintelligence threat'
  • President Donald Trump has pardoned his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
  • Manafort was convicted of eight counts of tax and bank fraud as part of the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election.
  • He also later pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and another count of obstruction, but a federal judge voided the plea deal after finding that he lied to prosecutors after agreeing to cooperate.
  • Manafort was sentenced last year to 7 1/2 years in prison for his crimes, and the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that he represents a "grave counterintelligence threat" to the US.
Manafort is the latest in a series of Trump allies ensnared in the FBI's Russia investigation to receive pardons or commutations from the president before he leaves office in January.

In July, Trump commuted the sentence of his close associate and the longtime Republican strategist Roger Stone, who was convicted of seven felony counts of obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to investigators.

The president also issued a pardon in November to former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his communications with Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 transition, when Kislyak was Russia's ambassador to the US.

Axios recently reported that Trump plans to issue a wave of new pardons before leaving office and that he has offered pardons to people "like Christmas gifts," including to those who did not ask for them and do not want to be pardoned. One source told the news website that Trump said he would pardon "every person who ever talked to me."

Trump grants a full pardon to Republican strategist Roger Stone, who was convicted of 7 felonies
  • President Donald Trump granted a full pardon on Wednesday to the longtime Republican strategist Roger Stone.
  • Stone was convicted of multiple felonies last year, including making false statements, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering.
  • His pardon is the latest in a series of executive clemency grants Trump has doled out to friends and allies in the waning weeks of his presidency.

or Trump-ism

Trumpism refers to the nontraditional political philosophy and approach espoused by US President Donald Trump and his supporters. The term Trumpism can also be used to directly refer to an outrageous or idiosyncratic statement made by Donald Trump.

Trumpisms are Bushisms on steroids.