No TrumpsπŸ‘±‍♂️ Newsbites
Trump's Pentagon reportedly held off promoting 2 female generals over fears of how the White House might react
  • The Pentagon delayed nominations for promotion for two female generals over concerns about Trump.
  • Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper acknowledged that the nominations were delayed.
  • "I didn't want their promotions derailed," Esper said.
The Pentagon held off on promoting two female generals over concerns about how then-President Donald Trump might react, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Last fall, Mark Esper, then the secretary of defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley decided that Air Force Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost and Army Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson should be promoted to four-star commands, but they didn't immediately move forward due to concerns that the nominations would hit a roadblock at the White House.

The New York Times wrote that "the two Pentagon leaders feared that any candidates other than white men for jobs mostly held by white men might run into turmoil." Other political factors may have also been involved.

Esper and Milley reportedly decided to delay the nominations until Trump and his team were out of office, assuming that a new Biden administration would be more willing to accept the nominations than the Trump White House with which Esper and Milley had occasionally fought.

... Van Ovost currently oversees a four-star command as head of Air Force Mobility Command, and Richardson is the three-star commander of the Army branch of Northern Command.

The 2 reasons Republicans can't move on from Donald Trump
  • Donald Trump has made clear he intends to make 2022 GOP campaigns all about him.
  • Republicans who would like to move on are trapped by their voters' attachment to Trump.
  • But they also haven't identified anything to move on to.
Donald Trump has shown his intention to ensure that, even after his presidency, the conversation within the Republican party remains focused on his favorite topic: himself.

Trump intends to make loyalty to a person who isn't even president anymore — who was rejected by the voters by a substantial margin and whose conviction in an impeachment trial a clear majority of Americans favored — a central theme of Republican political campaigns next year.

Partly this reflects the former president's success in building a personality cult for himself. But there is another issue that goes deeper to the problems facing the GOP. Even if Republicans sought to move on from Trump under leadership from McConnell and the hapless puddle of jelly that leads their conference in the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, what would they move on to?

... Republicans seem to think a message about fighting teachers' unions to reopen schools will be a midterm election winner, even though schools across the country will be open well before the next election regardless of Biden's education policy choices, and even though there is no clear preponderance of public opinion on what should be done with schools right now.

And of course, they intend to talk about "cancel culture," even though half of Americans tell pollsters they aren't even familiar with that term and even though Biden has made a point to avoid cultural politics lightning rods that some of his fellow Democrats have excessive fondness for.

A campaign about not-president Trump will be a campaign about nothing. But even if they aren't talking about Trump, Republicans still don't have a message about what they have to offer voters. And that should shape the evaluations of why Republicans can't make Trump go away.

It may not be so much about his force of personality and grip on the electorate as that the GOP has nothing to replace him with.

Fox News hosts didn't correct Trump's lie that he won the election in his first interview post-insurrection
  • Trump repeated the false claim that he won re-election in his first interview since the Jan. 6 insurrection.
  • Fox News hosts Harris Faulkner and Bill Hemmer didn't correct Trump's false claims on live TV.
  • Trump called into Fox to talk about conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, who died Wednesday.
Fox News hosts Harris Faulkner and Bill Hemmer let former President Donald Trump use Fox's airwaves to repeat the false claim that he won re-election in his first interview since the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Trump called into Fox on Wednesday afternoon shortly after news broke that his ally, conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, died at 70 years old following a battle with lung cancer. Exactly six weeks after his loyalists stormed the Capitol building in a deadly insurrection, the former president repeated the lie that the election was stolen from him. Neither TV host interrupted, pushed back, or corrected Trump's false statements.

"Rush thought we won and so do I, by the way. I think we won substantially," Trump said. "I don't think that could have happened to a Democrat, you would have had riots going all over the place if that happened to a Democrat."

Trump said he was "disappointed with voter tabulation" and added, "we were like a third-world country on election night." He argued that "a lot of other people felt that way, too" and that there is widespread "anger" about his loss.

"Many people are furious, you don't know how angry this country is," Trump said.

Trump's acquittal proves authoritarianism remains a 'potent force' in the US, but impeachment puts a 'black mark' on him forever
  • Trump's acquittal shows "anti-democratic threats are alive and well" in the US, an expert said.
  • A presidential historian said Trump has a permanent "black mark" from two impeachments.
  • Many GOP senators voted for acquittal because doing otherwise would've amounted to self-indictment, an expert said.
Jason Stanley, a philosophy professor at Yale University and author of "How Fascism Works," told Insider the trial exhibited how the GOP has become a "complete norm-breaking party, because they regard the other side as illegitimate."

Republicans fear becoming a permanent minority party and have wedded themselves to democracy-eroding tactics as a result, Stanley said, warning that Trump's trial showed authoritarianism remains a "potent force" in the US.

That said, the House impeachment managers crafted a compelling case against Trump that showed how he fomented a culture of violence and extremism for years. Historians say this will forever tarnish Trump's legacy.

"Trump has been publicly shamed to the point of being unable, most likely, to return to the presidency," Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University and a co-author of "Impeachment: An American History," told Insider.

Trump lost in 2020 without the disgrace of being impeached twice and now "this black mark" will follow him wherever he goes, Engel added.

Similarly, Stanley said it was "vital" to go through the trial even though Trump wasn't convicted "because it's a part of the historical record."

But the seemingly inevitable conclusion of Trump's trial still raises serious questions as to whether impeachment is a truly effective means of holding presidents accountable.

... Former Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, a Democrat, in a recent CNN op-ed said, "If Trump's actions are not impeachable, then nothing is, and we may as well strike that provision from the Constitution."

Trump's acquittal sends a "chilling message" that future presidents will "face no accountability for inciting violence during and after an election," Keisha N. Blain, an associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, told Politico Magazine.

"The Senate's failure to hold Trump accountable—and in so doing, their failure to prevent him from running for office again—will have lasting, terrible consequences," Blain said. Others, however, argue the public re-telling of Trump's role in sparking the riot will permanently mar Trump's political standing. Engel said that impeachment, however imperfect, still "maintains its ability to be the ultimate political judgment."

"If the purpose of democracy is to allow the majority's will to be heard, then the founders were right in thinking that impeachment would be such an awful stain that anybody who endured it is unlikely to ever get past the electorate again," Engel said. "Let's remember Trump was impeached the first time and subsequently lost." The net effect of the trial, Engel said, is ensuring that Trump "doesn't ever capture the presidency again." Engel said it's possible that Trump could win the GOP nomination in the future, but doesn't see "any way that he achieves victory again."

The founders would be "sad that we elected such a jack---," Engel said of Trump. "But they wouldn't be surprised."

"The Constitution is designed, specifically, not to prevent the election of such a person, but to ensure that such a person can't maintain power forever," Engel added.

... "The way authoritarianism works is you get people to break the law with you," Stanley said. "And when they break the law with you, they have to defend your illegal acts because they are culpable. That's how the whole thing works: loyalty. That's how the mob works ... Authoritarianism is like the mob."

... Trump has revealed that "there's an anti-democratic audience in America" attracted to autocratic leadership, Stanley said, and restoring faith in government while strengthening laws protecting voting rights are the primary remedies to this slide toward authoritarianism.

Rush Limbaugh was one of the most consequential figures in American politics, paving the way for the GOP's hard-right turn
As Limbaugh's audience grew, dog whistle messaging on racial resentment slipped into outright racism, bipartisan bonhomie in the minority intensified to "taking our country back," and blatant lies about the birthplace of the nation's first Black president set the standard for the GOP nominee by 2016.

How Limbaugh got there was made possible by both a major policy shift away from the fairness doctrine and his innovation in the genre of talk radio. Limbaugh's ascent to commanding an audience of tens of millions of mostly white Americans paved the way for right-wing populists like Trump, catalyzing a rightward lurch that has left the Republican Party grappling with its identity after the January 6 Capitol siege, which Limbaugh defended the day after the insurrection on one of his last shows.

... Limbaugh didn't just yell incendiary things into the microphone all day, but rather cultivated a sense of shared grievances among his audience.

He pulled niche local stories and loose threads from Washington to both sew and sow a visceral feeling of aggrievement among millions of listeners, telling them day after day that liberal elites didn't just look down on them, but despised them and perpetually ignored the hardworking Americans of "flyover country."

With Trump in debt, intelligence and security sources fear foreign spies may target him with offers of money
  • Security services are worried foreign powers may target Trump for his knowledge of US intelligence secrets and his need for money.
  • Trump "has hundreds of millions of dollars in debts ... and access to almost every intelligence secret in the free world," said an official.
  • "The risk is so apparent that everyone has considered it and each service will take its own steps to protect itself," a source told Insider. 

With more than $1 billion in total debts and at least $340 million due to Deutsche Bank, former President Donald Trump poses an unprecedented challenge for the US and Western intelligence services tasked with keeping the secrets he was exposed to daily for the last four years, according to five current or former intelligence officials in the US and Europe.

Trump's inability to keep US intelligence secrets — and his willingness to twist intelligence to suit his political needs — were well-documented aspects of his time in office. They led to several diplomatic incidents:
"So it's clear this is a person with little regard for protecting intelligence and sources as a duty — he openly doesn't care," a senior NATO intelligence official told Insider. Like other officials willing to speak for this article the source refused to be identified because of the extreme sensitivity of the information and because of the need to maintain good relations among Western forces.

"It's a person with a proven willingness to do almost anything for money," said the official. "The person has hundreds of millions of dollars in debts that it's clear will not be easy to pay, and access to almost every intelligence secret in the free world for the last four years," said the official.

... Multiple sources described Trump as having had access to everything any American adversary would want to know. Even as current operations expire, the overall view of the American system and its relationships with friends and adversaries alone would pay dividends.

"There is absolutely a market for the secrets he knows and any intelligence service would analyze it and conclude that Trump is exactly the sort of person who would be happy to sell them to you," said the official. "This is what intelligence services do. Who is really going to decide that 'No it's impossible, Donald Trump would never breach his country's confidence in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars?' Nobody who works in intelligence would decide this."

or Trump-ism

Trumpism refers to the nontraditional political philosophy and approach espoused by 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.

Trump, whom many observers consider an anomaly, left the White House by saying, “We will be back in some form.” His legacy is “Trumpism” – a wave of white nationalism.

Trumpisms are Bushisms on steroids.