Trump-GOP tax plan gets an F for Failing America’s working families!

Americans for Tax Fairness

June 20, 2018

WATCH: Today marks the 6 month anniversary of the Trump-GOP tax plan! On this day, we’re grading its performance. After exhaustive analysis of the data, we’re giving the Trump-GOP tax plan an F for Failing America’s working families!

WATCH: Today marks the 6 month anniversary of the Trump-GOP tax plan! On this day, we're grading its performance. After exhaustive analysis of the data, we're giving the Trump-GOP tax plan an F for Failing America's working families!

Posted by Americans for Tax Fairness on Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Rachel Maddow just broke down on live TV over reports of Trump taking BABIES away from their asylum-seeking mothers.

Occupy Democrats

June 19, 2018

WOW. Must-watch. Rachel Maddow just broke down on live TV over reports of Trump taking BABIES away from their asylum-seeking mothers.

Follow Occupy Democrats for more.

Rachel Maddow just broke down on live TV over reports of Trump taking BABIES away from their asylum-seeking mothers

WOW. Must-watch. Rachel Maddow just broke down on live TV over reports of Trump taking BABIES away from their asylum-seeking mothers.Follow Occupy Democrats for more.

Posted by Occupy Democrats on Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Inside the Disastrous White House Briefing on Trump’s Child-Separation Policy

New York Magazine

Daily Intellegencer

Inside the Disastrous White House Briefing on Trump’s Child-Separation Policy

By Olivia Nuzzi    June 19, 2018

Kirstjen Nielsen takes questions from reporters during Monday’s briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Over the loudspeaker, a voice said the White House briefing would be moved to 4 p.m. The press, already assembled ahead of the scheduled time of 3:30 p.m., which itself was a rescheduling of the initial 1:15 p.m. appointment, laughed and groaned.

It’s nothing new for a White House to experience such disorganization; the veteran reporters tell the newer ones about how bad it was under Clinton, how in hindsight, the George H.W. Bush and Reagan administrations seem admirably prompt. But during Donald Trump’s presidency, the briefings have had two recurring themes: first, they never go well, and second, when administration officials struggle more than usual to get their story straight, the event hangs in a state of doubt.

On Monday, new reporting continued to reveal the realities of the Trump administration policy of forcibly separating children from their adult guardians who cross the border without U.S. citizenship. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly are both on record endorsing the practice as a means of deterring undocumented immigrants from entering the country.

Yet the president and members of his staff have repeatedly and falsely blamed Congress — in particular congressional Democrats — for the nearly 2,000 children who have reportedly been taken into federal custody in just the last six weeks. Condemnation is growing and bipartisan, led at the beginning of this week by former First Ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama. Some even interpreted the statement from the current First Lady, Melania Trump, as a break with her husband (others disagreed). “Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” her spokesperson said.

The gap has continued to grow between the critics of the policy and the administration officials who say it doesn’t belong to this administration, or isn’t even a “policy” at all (whatever that means).

In what may have been an omen for the utterly stupid catastrophe that was to follow, around 1:15 p.m. a man jumped the White House gate, prompting a lockdown. Sometime later, after the briefing was pushed back, ProPublica published audio of young children separated from their parents screaming and crying inside of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility. In the recording, an agent can be heard joking at their expense. “We have an orchestra here,” he says.

Reporters in the briefing room, a small space that sits on top of what was once the White House pool, listened to the recording while they waited.

Four p.m. came and went. CNN reported that Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t want to do the briefing alone, and was waiting for Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to arrive and enter the room with her. (The Washington Post later reported that the story was the result of a leak by one of Sanders’s enemies in her ranks, designed to come out when she was too busy to respond, forcing her to address it at the podium.)

The briefing was rescheduled for 5:00 p.m. Just before 5:15 p.m., Sanders and Nielsen, along with several aides, opened the sliding door stage right from the podium.

Nielsen appeared agitated as she faced questions. At one point, asked how the treatment of the children separated from their parents wasn’t child abuse, she impatiently responded, “Can you be more specific?”

“We have high standards,” Nielsen said. “We give them meals. We give them education. We give them medical care. There’s videos, TVs.”

Nielsen’s claim can be judged against the photos and reporting of the conditions the children are subjected to; as The Atlantic reported, CBP’s own images show them “using Mylar blankets and being housed in cages.”

The stories, Nielsen said, “reflect the focus of those who post such pictures and narratives.”

Nielsen insisted that the Trump administration doesn’t have a policy of removing children from their parents who enter the country illegally, but offered various scenarios in which a child would be removed from their parents who enter the country illegally. She compared this to any person who commits a crime being separated from their family when they go to jail. She said critics who accuse the administration of using these children as a political tool are “cowardly.”

“The children are not being used as a pawn, we are trying to protect the children,” she said.

Both Nielsen and, when she was done, Sanders, expressed unfamiliarity with the images and stories that have put this issue on every news channel that airs on the dozens of TVs throughout the White House, and on the covers of the newspapers in their mail. (Sanders, true to form, said she hadn’t talked to Trump about arguably his most high-profile critic of the day, Laura Bush.) When officials are taking questions, the easiest thing for them to do when asked about a story or a statistic that they can’t spin in their favor or gracefully wiggle away from is to say they haven’t read it, seen it, or heard it. They’ll get back to you, they say. They rarely do.

As Nielsen spoke, another reporter’s phone began to ring with a mildly ridiculous melodic clang. After a while, when none of the reporters who’d been called on elected to play the audio published by ProPublica and ask for a response, I decided to play it. It was a small disturbance, prompting confused looks around the briefing room and expressions of annoyance and emerging panic from two White House aides, but it didn’t outright disrupt. Nielsen seemed to hear it — it’s a small room, it’d be hard not to — but she didn’t veer from her script.

“Are you intending for this to play out as it is playing out?  Are you intending for parents to be separated from their children? Are you intending to send a message?” a reporter asked.

“I find that offensive. No. Because why would I ever create a policy that purposely does that?” she said.

“Perhaps as a deterrent,” the reporter said, noting, along with another reporter, that both Sessions and Kelly have offered that explanation.

Nielsen replied, “That’s not the question that you asked me.”

Trump And His Allies Are Either Woefully Misinformed About Family Separations Or Lying Through Their Teeth

Judge slams Kobach for flouting court rules

Politico – Under the Radar

Josh Gerstein on the Courts, Transparency, & More

Judge slams Kobach for flouting court rules

By Josh Gerstein      June 18, 2018

As a federal judge on Monday permanently blocked a Kansas law requiring voters to prove their citizenship before registering to vote, she also delivered a rebuke to the law’s main proponent: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach found himself in hot water on several prior occasions during the proof-of-citizenship case. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson’s ruling against the law was widely expected, but she coupled it with pointed complaints that Kobach had failed to comply with court rules requiring disclosure of evidence to the law’s opponents in advance of the trial.

“The disclosure violations set forth above document a pattern and practice by Defendant of flaunting disclosure and discovery rules that are designed to prevent prejudice and surprise at trial,” Robinson wrote. “The Court ruled on each disclosure issue as it arose, but given the repeated instances involved, and the fact that Defendant resisted the Court’s rulings by continuing to try to introduce such evidence after exclusion, the Court finds that further sanctions are appropriate.”

“It is not clear to the Court whether Defendant repeatedly failed to meet his disclosure obligations intentionally or due to his unfamiliarity with the federal rules,” the judge added. “Therefore, the Court finds that an additional sanction is appropriate in the form of Continuing Legal Education. Defendant chose to represent his own office in this matter, and as such, had a duty to familiarize himself with the governing rules of procedure, and to ensure as the lead attorney on this case that his discovery obligations were satisfied despite his many duties as a busy public servant.”

Robinson, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ordered Kobach to do an additional six hours of continuing legal education in the 2018-19 year, above and beyond the ordinary state requirements.

Kobach is currently locked in a tight race challenging incumbent Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer, who is running for reelection.

Spokespeople for Kobach did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new ruling.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the suit against Kobach, said the ruling demonstrated that the Kansas official’s actions were unconstitutional.

“This decision is a stinging rebuke of Kris Kobach, and the centerpiece of his voter suppression efforts: a show-me-your-papers law that has disenfranchised tens of thousands of Kansans,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “That law was based on a xenophobic lie that noncitizens are engaged in rampant election fraud. The court found that there is ‘no credible evidence‘ for that falsehood, and correctly ruled that Kobach’s documentary proof-of-citizenship requirement violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution.”

Kobach found himself in hot water on several prior occasions during the proof-of-citizenship case. Last June, a federal magistrate fined Kobach $1,000 for presenting misleading arguments in the suit. And in April, Robinson held him in contempt for failing to send standard registration postcards to voters covered by a court order she issued.

Robinson’s new ruling on the law itself found that Kansas had failed to demonstrate that voting by noncitizens was a significant problem and failed to show that the law was necessary to remedy whatever issues existed with such voting.

“The Court finds that the burden imposed on Kansans by this law outweighs the state’s interest in preventing noncitizen voter fraud, keeping accurate voter rolls, and maintaining confidence in elections,” she wrote.

Josh Gerstein is a senior White House reporter for POLITICO.

Trade war jeopardizes China’s huge investment in creation of new ‘cancer alley’ in Appalachia


Trade war jeopardizes China’s huge investment in creation of new ‘cancer alley’ in Appalachia

Industrial build-out in West Virginia would have massive environmental impacts.

Mark Hand      June 18, 2018

Environmental activists fear massive investments in petrochemical and energy facilities could turn part of Appalachia into a new “cancer alley” like the one in Louisiana along the Mississippi river. Credit: Julie Dermansky/Corbis via Getty Images

Doubts are growing about a Chinese company’s planned investment in a suite of natural gas-related projects in West Virginia due to the Trump administration’s intensification of a trade war between the United States and China.

From the day the agreement was announced last fall, skepticism has surrounded the issue of whether state-owned China Energy Investment Corp. would follow through on its planned $83 billion investment in energy infrastructure in West Virginia. The cost and scope of the project — known as the Appalachian Storage Hub — would be unprecedented.

The massive project would include natural gas liquids storage, a major intersection of pipelines, and a petrochemical refinery row. Environmental groups have expressed concern that the construction of natural gas liquids and petrochemical processing plants could contaminate air and water resources.

The escalating trade war between the United States and China is causing further uncertainty about the agreement. Global stock prices fell Monday as investors reacted to the decision last week by the United States to target an additional $50 billion in China-made goods for new tariffs.

Brian Anderson, director of the Energy Institute at West Virginia University, has previously touted the positive impact of the China Energy investment. Anderson said two months ago that the agreement with the Chinese company could be coming along at the perfect time. But on Monday, Anderson adjusted his expectations, telling an energy industry conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that the trade war “has put this project in jeopardy.”

Another potentially ominous sign for the project is the decision by the chief executive of China Energy to cancel plans to speak at this week’s conference — the Northeast U.S. Petrochemical Construction Conference — as the war of words between the two countries on trade issues heated up. The CEO, who reports to the president of China, reportedly cited the trade war as the reason for canceling his trip to the conference.

If trade relations between the United States and China improve and China Energy ultimately carries out its end of the deal, environmental groups are concerned that the state of West Virginia will not be able to properly oversee the potential damage caused by the construction and operation of the energy and petrochemical facilities.

West Virginia has a long history of favoring coal industry profits over the environment and public health. The state is showing the same deference to the natural gas industry, which has grown into a powerful business force in the state over the past 10 years.

The scale of industrialization that would come from the $83 billion investment would be a “big burden” on the state Department of Environmental Protection that does not have adequate resources to enforce regulations on existing coal and natural gas industry operations, according to Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.

Natural gas investments are happening at such a rapid pace in the state that “mistakes are being made and damage is being done” by state environmental officials in a similar fashion to how they failed to adequately monitor the coal industry, Rosser told ThinkProgress.

Appalachia’s struggling coal communities find hope in transition to clean energy

The Appalachian Storage Hub took a major step forward last November as part of a U.S. trade mission to China attended by President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. During Trump’s visit to China, China Energy announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to invest $83.7 billion in the planned storage hub over 20 years. For comparison, West Virginia’s gross domestic product in 2016 was $72.9 billion.

If it is developed, the hub would bring a massive buildup of the petrochemical industry along the Ohio River from southwestern Pennsylvania to Huntington, West Virginia. It would stretch into surrounding counties with a spur from down the Kanawha River from Point Pleasant, West Virginia, to Charleston, West Virginia.

Environmental groups fear the region could become another “cancer alley,” similar to the buildup of petrochemical facilities in Louisiana along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

“Petrochemicals, pipelines, and plastics are not a plus for the Ohio Valley. We are threatening the future of generations to come if we buy into this promise of short-term economic gains instead of realizing the disastrous long-term effects that will occur,” the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, a nonprofit group based in Huntington, said in an alert issued last Thursday.

West Virginia is undergoing political upheaval that also could impact the agreement. Last week, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) forced Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher to resign over his handling of a flood relief program. Thrasher was the top state official who traveled to China last November as part of the trade delegation.

A once thriving coal town has turned toxic, and citizens are desperate for help

Furthermore, a potential conflict of interest has emerged as part of the $83 billion investment. At least one member of West Virginia’s negotiating team was also negotiating on behalf of his private company when he traveled to China last fall to negotiate the deal, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported last Friday. The corporate executive, Steven Hedrick, is CEO of Appalachia Development Group LLC and CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center.

Appalachia Development Group has been seeking a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the Appalachian Storage Hub project. The state Commerce Department paid for Hedrick’s travel for the China negotiations. The state found out that Hedrick asked China Energy officials to specifically target some of their investment in his company’s natural gas storage hub.

Rosser, head of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, said she believes the state will have “big-time regrets” if it does not implement necessary safeguards that will protect the environment and public health from the massive industrial build-out.

‘America is better than this’: What a doctor saw in a Texas shelter for migrant children

The Independent

‘America is better than this’: What a doctor saw in a Texas shelter for migrant children

Kristine Phillips, The Independent     June 17, 2018

A prominent doctor has spoken out against the Trump administration‘s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the US border. saying it could have a ‘devastating’ long-term effect on their emotional well-being.

Dr Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, visited a shelter for children under the age of 12 that runs along the Texas border with Mexico.

The shelter in question held 60 beds and had a little playground for children. Rooms are equipped with toys, books and crayons.

To Dr Kraft, it looked like a friendly environment for children – a place where they could be happy.

But the child who caught the pediatrician’s attention during a recent visit was anything but happy. This little girl – no older than two – was screaming and pounding her fists on a mat. Yet staff members could not comfort the infant because of the rules prohibiting physical contact.

“The really devastating thing was that we all knew what was going on with this child. We all knew what the problem was,” Dr Kraft said. “She didn’t have her mother, and none of us can fix that.”

Nearly 2,000 immigrant children were separated from their parents during six weeks in April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The little girl is among the multitude of immigrant children who have been separated from their family as part of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, meaning any adult who crosses the border illegally will face criminal prosecution. That also means parents were taken to federal jails while their children were sent to shelters.

It is believed 11,432 migrant children are in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services – an increase of nearly 3,000 from beginning of May. These numbers include children who arrived at the border without a relative and children separated from their parents.

The policy so far has pushed shelters to their capacity. Trump administration officials are making preparations to hold immigrant children on military bases. On Thursday, the Trump administration said it will house children in tents in the desert outside El Paso.

“The really basic, foundational needs of having trust in adults as a young child was not being met. That contradicts everything we know that the kids need to build their health,” said Dr Kraft after her visit to the Texas shelter.

 Such a situation could have long-term, devastating effects on young children, who are likely to develop what is called toxic stress in their brain once separated from caregivers or parents they trusted. It disrupts a child’s brain development and increases the levels of fight-or-flight hormones in their bodies, added Kraft. This kind of emotional trauma could eventually lead to health problems, such as heart disease and substance abuse disorders.

Kraft and her organization are not alone in this opinion.

Nearly 4,600 mental health professionals and 90 organizations have signed a petition urging Trump and attorney general Jeff Sessions to stop the policy of parental separation.

It says: “To pretend that separated children do not grow up with the shrapnel of this traumatic experience embedded in their minds is to disregard everything we know about child development, the brain, and trauma.”

“While not all of the children we are ripping from their parents will suffer the full consequences of toxic stress, many may,” said child psychologist Megan Gunnar of the University of Minnesota.

Although the policy is being implemented by his own administration, Mr Trump has avoided publicly owning it and. Instead, he blamed Democrats for “forcing the breakup of families at the border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda.”

Health and Human Services blames Congress, saying its inability to pass legislation on border security “created perverse and dangerous incentives for illegal border crossings and child smuggling.”

For Dr Kraft, the partisan finger-pointing means politicians run the risk of obscuring the impact the parental separation policy will have on children.

“As partisan and as divisive as the whole topic of immigration is, we need to start with what’s right,” she said. “Can we start with just keeping parents and children together while we figure out some of the other details?”

“The kids need to come first,” she added. “America is better than this.”

Washington Post News Service

Raising wages [doesn’t] kill jobs.

Unfiltered: ‘‘Raising wages [doesn’t] kill jobs. It’s just a thing rich people say to poor people.’

June 7, 2018

“There is no excuse for any company in America to pay their workers so little that they need food stamps, and Medicaid and rent assistance … This is bulls**t.”

Unfiltered: ‘‘Raising wages [doesn’t] kill jobs. It's just a thing rich people say to poor people.’

“There is no excuse for any company in America to pay their workers so little that they need food stamps, and Medicaid and rent assistance … This is bulls**t.”

Posted by Unfiltered Yahoo News on Thursday, June 7, 2018

Rich Alaskan donor gave $250K to Trump after EPA reversed decision on Pebble Mine

ABC News

Rich Alaskan donor gave $250K to Trump after EPA reversed decision on Pebble Mine

By Stephanie Ebbs     June 16, 2018

Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News/MCT via Getty Images

A wealthy activist who has funded efforts to block a proposed mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay donated $250,000 to President Donald Trump‘s re-election effort six weeks after the administration abruptly decided to prevent the mine from moving forward.

The move to block the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay from moving forward seems to diverge from a trend in policy under the leadership of Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt — seen as one of President Donald Trump’s most productive cabinet members in moving to undo environmental regulations put in place under the Obama administration. During the Trump presidency, the EPA in 2017 had previously allowed the mine to move forward.

The EPA said the change in course was because the environmental risk was too great and announced on January 26 that the mine would not immediately move forward.

Robert Gillam made his second and largest donation to Trump Victory Fund just weeks later, donating $250,000 on March 9, according to FEC filings.

Gillam has previously spent as much as $2.5 million to block the Pebble Mine from moving forward in Alaska’s fertile fishing ground called the Bristol Bay. He has been advocating against the mine since 2005, according to an Alaska state report. He declined to comment for this story.

Robert B. Gillam, CEO of McKinley Capital.

Gillam has previously donated to the Republican National Committee, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Republican campaigns in Alaska.

He went to Wharton with Trump and met with him at Mar-a-Lago the weekend before he made a $250,000 donation to the president’s Victory Fund, according to a report in E&E News. Gillam owns a fishing lodge in the area, according to public meeting records, and has said that the mine would hurt the local salmon population.

Last November he wrote in an editorial that the mine project was “doomed.”

“For more than a decade, I have taken on the battle against the Pebble Mine, because, more than any other development proposal in our state’s history, it threatens to forfeit to foreign mining companies an invaluable part of our heritage, something Alaskans cannot afford to lose -— and will never stop defending —- Bristol Bay; the last great salmon fishery on the planet,” Gillam wrote in the opinion piece in a local newspaper.

The Pebble Mine project was blocked by the Obama administration in 2014, citing harm to the environment that the EPA said would be caused by mining in the area. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed that decision in May 2017 and allowed the permitting process to move forward as well as accept public comments on the process.

In late January, the EPA abruptly slowed the project again, saying the agency has “serious concerns” about the risk mining could pose to fishing operations and local residents around Bristol Bay. The agency didn’t go so far as to block the mine completely but said the permit application “must clear a high bar” and provide information on how the mine will impact the surrounding area.

The company behind the Pebble Mine project announced in May that a major partner ended their agreement to support the mine, adding more uncertainty to the future of the project.

ABC News’ Soorin Kim contributed to this report.

This Nation Is Politically Deranged


This Nation Is Politically Deranged

The Justice Department Inspector General’s report proves the nation became addicted to unreality.

By Charles P. Pierce      June 15, 2018

Getty Images

I feel very safe in saying that James Comey’s future paperback sales took a considerable nosedive on Thursday afternoon. The Department of Justice’s inspector general dropped The Last Honest Man from a very great height into a very deep well on Thursday.

The IG’s long-awaited report—which came on the same day that the Attorney General of New York filed suit against the Trump Foundation for breaking almost every charitable tax regulation and campaign finance law known to man or beast—excoriated Comey for what it called “insubordinate” and “extraordinary” bungling in his performance during the 2016 presidential election, citing what it called “ad hoc decision making based on his personal views even if it meant rejecting longstanding Department policy or practice.” The July press conference was a mistake. The October letter was a mistake. James Comey was the biggest mistake of all.

By all accounts—and I’ve only read a chunk of it at this point, plus the executive summary—IG Michael Horowitz is a straight-shooter who wrote an honest report. Which is undoubtedly why the executive branch is lying its ass off about the report, when it discusses it at all, after assuring the rubes that the report would undermine fatally every charge ever levied against El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago and the alleged organized criminal conspiracy that was his entire public career, including his campaign and his entire presidency*. Oh, Rudy (A Noun, A Verb, and A Manic Episode) Giuliani is out there, behaving like the rodeo clown he has become. And the president* wandered out onto the White House lawn for some prevarication al fresco on Friday morning.

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But, by and large, the report’s most basic implicit conclusion—that Comey’s blundering at least played a role in installing the current administration*—is so clear and irrefutable that it seems that the president*’s defenders are caught between giving the report a good leaving alone and clumsily attempting to use its findings to discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation, a lie so stupendous that the president* couldn’t wait to use it Friday morning. From CNN:

“I think that the report yesterday … totally exonerates me. There was no collusion, there was no obstruction.”

In the long run, however, I don’t think they’re going to be able to peddle the whole notion that this report has anything to do with Robert Mueller’s investigation to anyone except the most devoted rubes in the base. Which is cold comfort, I admit. In fact, the only true rube-bait in the entire report seems to be the uncomplimentary texts between the two canoodling FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

The report makes plain one other thing—that the first thing that corrupted the 2016 presidential election, the first thing that infused into it the dark sense of unreality that was its defining characteristic, was the absurd importance placed on the email protocols of Hillary Rodham Clinton. The pursuit of a scandal without a crime—by the Republican Congress, by federal law enforcement, and by the elite political media—was a continuation of the absurd charges involving the tragic events at the American consulate in Benghazi, and the absurd attempts to turn the Clinton Foundation into what we now know that the Trump Foundation actually was: an organized effort to skirt federal tax regulations and campaign finance laws.

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(Remember that both The New York Times and The Washington Post entered into business arrangements with Peter Schweitzer, the career conservative ratfcker, to publish the charges based on his spurious book, Clinton Cash, the place where the equally absurd Uranium One “scandal” was spawned. And this was two months before the president* had even launched his campaign.)

And all of this, it can be argued, was a continuation of the three-decade search for something, anything, to hang on the Clintons. Future historians are going to be gobsmacked when they study how a moderate-to-conservative Democratic president and his wife threw so much of official Washington into utter hysterics for three decades.

The 2016 campaign already was a surreal event before the president* descended into it on his gilded escalator. (It’s possible that, with his wolverine’s nose for profitable unreality, he sensed this instinctively, and that’s why he decided to get in on the action in the first place.) The whole year was full of events that didn’t make any sense at the time. For example, on January 28, 2016, shortly before the Iowa caucuses, the president* bailed on a Fox TV debate, announcing that he would, instead, hold a charity event “for our wonderful vets” across town.

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He brought a number of his aging plutocrat running buddies out to the event. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum showed up to be humiliated on stage. It was a campaign event badly disguised as a charitable fundraiser. Its whole affect was schizoid. And, on Thursday, as part of her lawsuit against the Trump Foundation, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood pulled back the entire curtain:

“As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality. This is not how private foundations should function and my office intends to hold the Foundation and its directors accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.”

And the Iowa event was a perfect example about how this three-card monte system worked. From The Des Moines Register:

“According to the petition, the event generated about $5.6 million in tax-free donations, and of that, $2.823 million was contributed to the Trump Foundation. The remainder was given directly by private donors to veterans’ charity groups and was not funneled through the foundation. The lawsuit says that after the fundraiser, the Trump Foundation “ceded control over the charitable funds it raised to senior Trump campaign staff, who dictated the manner in which the Foundation would disburse those proceeds, directing the timing, amounts and recipients of the grants.” In the days after the Des Moines fundraiser, Trump toured the state for a series of campaign rallies at which he handed out oversized $100,000 checks to various charity organizations.”

“Doing so “provided Mr. Trump and the campaign a means to take credit at campaign rallies, press briefings, and on the Internet, for gifts to veterans charities. The foundation’s grants made Mr. Trump and the campaign look charitable and increased the candidate’s profile to Republican primary voters and among important constituent groups,” the lawsuit says. All of that amounts to an improper in-kind contribution worth $2.823 million from the foundation to the campaign, according to the lawsuit. “In addition, at Mr. Trump’s behest, the Trump Foundation illegally provided extensive support to his 2016 presidential campaign by using the Trump Foundation’s name and funds it raised from the public to promote his campaign for presidency, including in the days before the Iowa nominating caucuses,” a release from the New York Attorney General’s office says.”

All of this was reported at the time by David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post, who eventually won a Pulitzer Prize for his work. Yet, in the campaign coverage, the sense of unreality was virtually unshakable. A political campaign, functioning as an allegedly genuinely corrupt criminal enterprise, and aided and abetted by a seedy network of ratfckers and bagmen from across the pond, was forcing the American political establishment, and especially its elite political press, to cover it according to the rules that the criminal enterprise established for itself.

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At the same time, on the other side of the race, the candidate was plagued by crises and “scandals” that proved time and again to be phantoms, and yet those phantoms were energized, time and again, from the very top of federal law enforcement. The whole campaign was conducted on a plane of malignant make-believe, and that came at an unsupportable cost.

Matthew Miller, whom we often see on the electric TV machine, flagged an important passage from the report that beautifully sums up how we elected a president in 2016. And this is what, finally, brings us back to saintly Jim Comey one more time. It is an e-mail from October 5, 2016 sent by Comey to James Clapper and John Brennan, the other two intelligence satraps who already were onto the evidence that Russian ratfckers and the Volga Bagmen were helping the Republican candidate. Apparently, there was some discussion of whether or not the country needed to know about this. (Spoiler: It did.) This is what Comey wrote:

“I think the window has closed on the opportunity for an official statement, with 4 weeks until a presidential election. I could be wrong (and frequently am) but Americans already ‘know’ the Russians are monkeying around on behalf of one candidate. Our ‘confirming’ it (1) adds little to the public mix, (2) begs difficult questions about both how we know that and what we are going to do about it, and (3) exposes us to serious accusations of launching our own ‘October surprise.'”

Not an entirely unwarranted concern, until you remember that, 23 days later, Comey wrote the letter to Congress, re-opening the email investigation because of the material found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. This was the single most crucial moment in the campaign, and the IG report makes clear that Comey wrote the letter because he was afraid that the renegade agents in the New York FBI field office would leak the material anyway. (This is an aspect of the affair that the IG report hints at, but does not explore in any great depth.) In other words, Comey blew the investigation a second time over his fears of something that had not happened yet.

I don’t believe there’s ever been an American election in which so many people operated as though reality was too awful to contemplate and chose, instead, to chase ghosts and goblins of their own imagination. The 2016 presidential campaign was an extended dive into deep political madness. Nothing that’s happened since ever should have been a surprise.