The Coup Against Trump

One of his advisors tells TAC a plot is afoot. How far will the president go to ensure his political survival?

Donald Trump rose from pariah to president through politics, and now may be on the brink of being returned by the same means, the result of Bob Woodward’s searing testimonial in Fear and a scathing New York Times op-ed from someone in his own ranks.

Taken together, the two are the equivalent of a stiff left jab followed by a roundhouse right. The president has been left reeling, staring into the political abyss. 

A former senior administration official tells me that Wednesday’s op-ed in the New York Times, by an anonymous senior administration official, is nothing short of an attempt at a “coup” against Trump himself. A veteran conservative activist who is close to the White House says the story here is one insiders have been identifying since the early days of the Trump administration (and that I’ve reported on ad nauseum): personnel. The president is betrayed, openly, in the pages of America’s paper of record and, according to the activist, “the senior people in the [administration] do nothing about it.”

Something tantamount to a national game of “Clue” is underway. It was Mike Pence, with an email to the Times, in the Naval Observatory. It was Ambassador Jon Huntsman, Jr., with the phone, in the bathroom of his Moscow apartment. This reporter is loathe to delve into conjecture, but the author of the op-ed seems clearly to be, first, interested in national security, and second, a traditional conservative. A preponderance of my sources argue that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. “[National Security Advisor John] Bolton would shock me,” a State Department veteran says.

The op-ed author writes: “This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.” He (or she) maligns the president as “amoral” and devoid of “first principles.” A veteran watcher of Secretary of Defense James Mattis tells me that “’steady’ is a favorite Mattis word. …I think the McCain funeral hit Mattis hard.” Yet even if the president suspected his defense chief, he would be loathe to quickly dispatch him—and anyway Mattis may leave on his own after the midterms.

♦♦♦

A case of seismic duplicity—or needed patriotism, depending on who you talk to—is, of course, only half the story.

The other half is one that has been recurrent throughout this administration: the president and his apparatchiks expended little initial capital on staffing the White House with genuine loyalists, or true believers. They appointed neither longtime personal friends of the president nor policy hands faithful to anything resembling a populist-nationalist agenda. News reports abound of the president’s surprising and depressing paucity of genuine friends. As I relayed last week in TAC: “A former senior Department of Defense official [being considered] for top administration positions recalls meeting Jeff Sessions after the election. After hitting it off, the future AG asked the candidate: ‘Where have you been?‘” A report of mine in the National Interest last year relayed the hiring procedures, or lack thereof, of Trump appointees on the campaign and in the administration; prospective employees were rarely asked about their policy preferences. Said Scott McConnell, founding editor of TAC, on Wednesday: “Trump’s biggest weakness is lacking knowledge of the policy people who might have helped him with a realist/populist agenda. …But he never evinced any interest in finding smart realists to staff his administration.”

The president suggested that the op-ed was perhaps “TREASON?” He routinely conflates national interest and personal interest, and thus now demands that the Times betray its source. In doing so, he denigrates a founding ideal of the republic, prepared to erode civic support for the First Amendment to dull the pain of an atrocious but largely self-inflicted news cycle.

The personal nature of the president’s complaint convulses the persuasive authority of the arguments against his opposition. Since the publishing of the op-ed, there has been a steady trickle of concern, particularly among left-liberal writers, about the precedent being set. “We’re Watching an Antidemocratic Coup Unfold,” says David Graham in The Atlantic. “How the ‘resistance’ in the White House threatens American democracy…. There’s more than one path to authoritarianism,” posits Damon Linker in The Week.

And indeed there are parts of the op-ed that are cause for genuine concern:

On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior.

Treating Russia as the adversarial power that it is and proportionately punishing its malign behavior smacks of sound policy. But it’s also true that Trump openly ran on detente. Should actual voters’ preferences just be tossed aside in the name of, as the author suggests, the preservation of democracy? “So let’s see: Trump ran on closer relations with Russia,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson opined on Wednesday night. “Voters agreed with that. And so they elected him president of the United States. And yet, the tiny and incompetent Washington foreign policy establishment—the very same people who brought you Iraq and Libya—do not agree with that. So they subvert his views, which are also the views of voters.”

Beyond the substantive criticisms from both sides, of Trump and of his critics, is the diagnostic nature of the conspiracy—and it is a conspiracy—against the president. First and foremost, Trump, they say, is unwell or unfit. The case for invocation of the 25th Amendment is being made plainly in the pages of the United States’ most-read newspapers.

What’s truly remarkable is that, to a certain extent, the U.S. is already functioning as though the 25th Amendment has been invoked—at least if the reporting of Bob Woodward, the premier journalist of his generation, is to be believed. In spring of 2017, after Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad reportedly murdered citizens in rebel-held territory with chemical weapons, Trump, according to Woodward, told Defense Secretary Mattis: “Let’s f**ing kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the f**king lot of them.” Mattis replied, “We’re not going to do any of that.” (Mattis denies Woodward’s accounts.) As the author of the op-ed gloats, this is “is a two-track presidency. Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly.”

The debate, then, isn’t about policy. It isn’t as though Trump is trying to decimate the civil service, or staff the State Department with “realists” on Russia, or halve legal immigration. If he leaves office, his legacy will be tax cuts and (likely) two conservative Supreme Court justices; on policy, it’s unlikely that a President Cruz or Rubio would have done much differently. But the paranoid style that Trump has mainstreamed is, of course, a separate matter and not a small one. Neither is the fealty, or at least feigned fidelity, to a populist-nationalism that is now likely a prerequisite to becoming the Republican presidential nominee for the foreseeable future. That’s even though, at their core, the president’s protestations of “treason” and a “deep state” are about personal survival, not the implementation of a nationalist revolution.

For his supporters, Trump’s continued occupancy of the White House is more about cultural grievance—a middle finger to a failed establishment—than about a knock-down, drag-out fight over real political change.

As Steve Bannon told the Weekly Standard after his ouster last year: “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over.”

Curt Mills is the foreign affairs reporter at The National Interest, where he covers the State Department, National Security Council, and the Trump presidency.

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  1. One Guy says:

    How can you say Trump has done nothing? Hasn’t he built the Wall? Hasn’t he ended military operations in the Middle East? Hasn’t he destroyed North Korea’s nuclear program? Didn’t he write the tax cut law all by himself? Hasn’t he banned all Muslims? Hasn’t he brought back coal to where it was 100 years ago? Doesn’t he have the best words, like “anomonous” and “covfefe”? Doesn’t he hire the best people? Doesn’t he eat the best chocolate cake?

    I’m sooo glad I’m alive at this point in history. If I had been born at a different time, I would never believe these things could be happening. It’s like watching Jim Jones and Marshall Applewhite and Charles Manson all rolled into one and multiplied by 100.

  2. sglover says:

    @ Jeff Groom & Kurt Gayle:

    Your faith in the abiding wisdom and omniscience of Dear Leader is really touching. Child-like, even. Also, I have it on good authority that once General Steiner links up with General Wenck, everyone will see that really we’ve just been luring the Bolsheviks into a trap ever since Stalingrad.

  3. Paul Clayton says:

    I recall that the Woodward-style ‘tell all’ books have traditionally been published after a president leaves office. Now, they (and their cable TV twins) are going out daily. We have never seen so much fire directed against a sitting president and his supporters (the smelly people you encounter in Wallmart, deplorables, whatever). Is it having an effect? Absolutely. Hysteria as mobs invade Senate hearings, converge on lawmakers and others’ properties to harass them for their political opinions or statement, or votes. We have the brown shirt fascists (antifa) assaulting people who vote the wrong way, mass marches where people (Moronna) openly call for the death of the president, families that cannot sit down at the Sunday night dinner table without devolving into heated shouting matches.

    If the socialist Left and its media allies succeed in tearing this president down, than 65 million folks like me will have absolute, incontrovertible evidence that we no longer live in a democracy and our vote means nothing, therefore we are powerless unless we take to the streets with …

  4. mrscracker says:

    I think the judges Mr. Trump’s appointed so far will make a huge, lasting difference & that may be one of the real reasons the opposing side has been carrying on so much:

    “As Washington prepares for a Senate showdown over whether Brett Kavanaugh will join the Supreme Court, Trump has already put his stamp on the judiciary with the lifetime appointments of at least 43 federal judges. Ho was confirmed by the Senate in December by a 53-43 vote.

    Trump’s total of 22 successfully appointed appeals court judges — as of last month — is more than either of the last two presidents at this point in their terms, according to an analysis last month by the Pew Research Center.

    “The real kind of big news is the sheer amount of change that’s happening on the court of appeals,” said Harsh Voruganti, founder and editor of the Vetting Room, a website that tracks judicial appointments. “I think we’re going to see a fair amount of change in jurisprudence.”

    http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-trump-judges-20180821-story.html

  5. Gary Bebop says:

    Anyone who thinks the voters are going to stand by meekly while elite bastards perform their wicked treacheries to overthrow a duly elected president does not understand the fire they are playing with.

  6. paradoctor says:

    I have mixed feelings about the op-ed. Should Anonymous stay? But that’s collaboration. Should Anonymous go? But that’s abandonment; who then would take the idiotic letters off the mad king’s desk? (And by the way, who put those idiotic letters there?)

    One thing for sure: the op-ed confirms Woodward’s description of White House chaos and lunacy. It does so by its content, but also by its mere existence.

  7. paradoctor says:

    Nick Stuart: You say that undoing Trump is an attempt to deny the will of the people. But you forget that Trump lost the popular vote.

    But Clinton lost the Electoral College? True. Therefore _both_ candidates lost! I didn’t know that was even mathematically possible; but here we are.

    What’s more, they both lost in the way most personally humiliating to each. Clinton ran as a technocrat, but she failed to control the Electoral College machine, despite her marginally greater popularity (or to be precise, her marginally lesser unpopularity). Trump ran as a populist, but he was unpopular, and he has gotten less popular, the better America gets to know him.

    So in 2016, both candidates lost, in the ways that matter to them. America lost twice too; its political machinery broke, and the will of the people was denied.

  8. CLW says:

    Wait, people still believe Trump’s “Make America Great Again” nonsense? Wow, America really does have an opioid abuse problem!

  9. Anthony M says:

    Elect a reality show star and you get a reality show presidency. Not terribly surprising, and it won’t end anytime soon. It’s also completely unrelated to his stated policy goals. This would be happening even if he was the most boring status quo president of all time. This is Trump’s world and he’s brought it to the White House.

  10. Stephen Pickard says:

    It is so much fun reading comments from individuals who use a pseudonym to critize the times using an annonymous sourse. TAC should not accept comments from annonymous individuals. Must make everyone stand by their comments.

  11. Thaomas says:

    Tempest in a teapot. If this is not just a ploy to rally the “base” is is the oldest of old news. While protecting Trump (and us) from his worst inclinations may do some good in the short run, it’s basically just enabling. Short of knocking his hand away from the nuclear button, it’s better for Trump (and us)to suffer the consequences. The op ed author and those who think like him are doing us no service.

  12. BobS says:

    “…by an anonymous senior administration official…”

    ?
    Did you mean to write ‘amonymous’?

  13. Tim says:

    Why is such credence given to an anonymous op-ed letter and a book by a man who has been dining on Watergate for over half a century and whose subsequent books, based again on anonymous sources, have been derided by the subjects countlttines? The timing alone of Woodward’s and Anonymous’ offerings is suspect. And may I offer a suggestion to some posters herein: prolixity does not necessarily lead to clarity.

  14. Tim says:

    Why is any credence being given to either Woodward or Anonymous? One has a history of embellishment and the other has at best the imprimatur of a far left rag.

    At most some government employees don’t know how to and/or don’t like working in the real world where actual results are expected. Trump’s world.

    The only reason to seek out the identity of Anonymous, if he exists, is to fire him and his cohorts for insubordination.

  15. Jeeves says:

    I don’t get it. Instead of screaming “coward” and “gutless” at the anonymous op-ed writer, why didn’t Trump simply say “fake news.” (Or, more in a more literate vein, “fiction,” as Trump described Woodward’s book.) As for “TREASON?”, that pretty much gives the game away to the op-ed writer and Woodward.

  16. EarlyBird says:

    Serious border enforcement, demanding our wealthy allies do more for their own security, infrastructure investment, the (campaign’s) refutation of Reaganomics, acknowledging the costs of globalism, calling BS on all of the dominant left PC pieties and lies, were themes of Trump’s campaign that were of value.

    Trump was able to harness and give voice to some very important energies. But being Trump, he’s poisoned these issues for a couple of generations. No serious leader will be able to touch these things.

    Add this to all the institutional and political ruin he has created.

  17. Mark Krvavica says:

    On November 2016, I voted to send a middle finger to a corrupt establishment because they were giving me their finger. Trump is a jerk and I will not vote for him again, but I will give his establishment successor my finger on January 2021.

  18. Lenny says:

    It is amazing teh amount of ink spilled trying to anlayze Trump this and Trump that. Even more astounding, his disillusioned supporters , who wave their flags at every single opportunities do not care about any of this and how great Trump is.

    Rex Tillerson let the cat out of the bag, and this is the sad truth: This country elected a moron, and the GOP embraced and enabled him.

    The bill will come due soon

  19. Marc Schuhl says:

    One thing that makes all of this complicated for me is that Trump rarely seems even to care about actual policy anyway. Sure, his team totally subverted him on the recent NATO summit, but I have a strong hunch that DJT just wanted to yell at Angela Merkel on TV, and so that is his actual “policy” and nobody prevented him from doing it. Metaphysically, is it possible to stage a coup against a leader who has ALREADY abdicated but has not publicly acknowledged the fact of the abdication?

  20. EliteCommInc. says:

    I am not even going to get into the obvious here. Good grief, that there is has ben a concerted effort to undermine and remove this e president has been a steam roller affair prior to election. As soon as it became clear that he was a serious contender — not by his accounting, but by the accounting of the public — his opponents inside and outside the political arena were at it.

    That there is any commotion about an Open stating what has been obvious for three years is almost funny.

    And as someone who has expressed concerns about his cabin ate choices along with others — this is just not all that shocking. Whatever, my disagreements with the president on issues of color, morality/religion, and the force as a main for military intervention — nothing has moved my needle that among the possible candidates he was the best choice.

    And while he did not heed sincere cautions — I have no intention of abandoning my choice for president.

    In fact, it’s almost funny, to hear those who have advanced unnecessary and in my view unethical not to mention mention devastating policies twist in the wind crying foul about the amorality that has been on display in DC openly since Pres. Reagan and moved forward at light speed to the present.

    Hold on — it’s not almost funny. It’s a laugh — damningly so. The president has made compromises that have earned him little or no respect. I cannot say how profoundly damaging it was for him to sign on to the intel report as though it represented some sound factual basis.

    We had an election. It was fair and square, no russian boogeymen or women, no collusion by this president with any foreign powers has been evidenced — well, maybe Israel — laugh. The sky predicted to have fallen multiple times in multiple ways hasn’t happened. The style of leadership by the president one of situational , even if personal to his advantage comes as no shock, though it has some disappointments. There are no marijuana parties or strip tease shows happening on the WH lawn. There is plenty of gambling going on, but it has nothing to do with casinos.

    Having gained even less than nothing from the election of President Trump, and having not embraced his more less than clear moral standard — and I am not sure just how muddled that actually is —-

    I think it is quite fitting to have an article by the Watergate muckrakers — who manage to turn the mundane into catastrophic crisis in democracy. In my view they have been the cheerleaders for undermining the democratic process — ever since the first Vietnam protesters chanted give peace a chance to the two states — actually supporting peace — laugh —

    God grief. The democrats and liberals have a real knack for turning their fiascoes into someone else’s fault. Whether it’s

    — blaming unborn children for the inconvenience or needless conflicts and their aftermath —

    Good grief.

    people in the Cabinate opposed to the president — shock

    not and not at all.

  21. Black says:

    Anti Christ Trump is right on SCHEDULE… So why are TAC ignoring this ANTI CHRIST (Damian Thorne) when they throw up the “Christian” card so frequently?…Why hasnt the OMNIPOTENT GOD revealed to the TAC staff that TRUMP IS THE ANTICHRIST?..Whats going ON?

  22. KevinS says:

    Stephen J writes, “Isn’t it amazing that the anonymous article and the book seem to coincide perfectly.”

    Yeah, it is amazing! Absolutely unbelievable! How could that possibly be?

    And isn’t it amazing they also coincide with Senator Corker’s description of the White House as an adult day care center many months ago?

    UGH!

  23. KevinS says:

    Peter Conference writes, “We need to find out who hired these Deep State operatives to work at the White House. That guy’s your culprit.”

    Ummmm….if they work in the White House they were hired by its occupant. Only. The. Best. People!

  24. Richard Parker says:

    If we wanted a Trump campaign agenda and a mature responsible adult as President for implementation, we could have voted for Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012. I did.

  25. FritzTheCat_2020 says:

    There’s 30+ years of proof that anyone who puts their faith in Donald Trump is a fool. The Trump voters with more than residual brain activity have already figured that out.

  26. Cosmin Visan says:

    It sure sounds like you are disparaging his paranoid style. But let’s see:
    1. You call it a coup against Trump.
    2. You call it a conspiracy.
    3. The NYT proudly publishes this conspiracy.
    4. They were trying to remove him even before he took office (remember all those discussions about the Electoral College?)
    5. Who exactly (cough, NSA) released a transcript of Gen. Flynn’s conversation with Russian officials?
    Therefore, if Trump is paranoid, it is because they really are plotting against him. He’s just not very good at fighting back.

  27. arze says:

    What’s truly remarkable….

    What’s truly remarkable is Gen. Eisenhower told us upon leaving presidency all about who competes with our elected president on what happens.

    Those presidents that toe the “military industrial complex” line most closely are seen as the most in charge.

    President Kennedy did not, was murdered.

    President Johnson did, it eventually sickened him, he did not seek reelection.

    President Nixon was removed from office.

    President Carter was humiliated.

    President Reagan’s dream of a nuclear free world was vetoed by guess who.

    President Bush was defeated by the mother of all sycophants to that force.

    President Clinton was their man.

    Vice President Cheney was even more so.

    President Obama tried to hide the fact he was not.

    President Trump has not tried to hide that fact.

    Reporting on the Trump phenomena would benefit by more imagination.

    Is it not a public service, irrespective of one’s opinions on him, that it should now be clear to all, now via the Trump Phenomena, that what was plainly told us all in the 1950s from a General, is the way it is?

    Yet a “criticism” of Trump is his “sin” of taking off the mask.

    General Eisenhower told us to our faces all about the fiction, and yet we as a culture/civilization pretend the president is solely in charge.

    What is remarkable is the amount of reporting on the current president that lacks imagination, insight, logic, rationality, reason, common sense, and insight.

    However, that is not remarkable given that most of the reporters lived all their lives in a culture/civilization that fails to educate us in a meaningful way. Their and our professors, mentors, supervisors, and family, and friends and significant others, also so socialized; however, the road to progress is in front of us if we are curious enough.

    Were the goal of contemporary American Politics first and foremost a search for the truth, that would be one thing.

    The Shining Star of American Politics, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren perfectly epitomizes that it is not, as she knows better, was seduced by power, and all that that implies.

    The ends justify the means for the entire lot of them.

    Whatever that evil perspective engender, progress is and never shall be one of them.

  28. Thaomas says:

    This is a big nothing-burger. Everybody already know Trump was amoral and impulsive. Everybody already know that his aides and subordinates were trying to limit the damage. That “I am part of the resistance” is implicit in every leak. I don’t think we owe any special thanks to the op ed author and his colleagues. Indeed, short of knocking his had away from the nuclear button, we’d be better off if Trump and we were not “protected” from his “worst inclinations.” Maybe Congress would be moved to exercise some actual oversight.

  29. old observer says:

    This article, and the comments following, are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Trump is President, and he is going to remain President until sufficient evidence exists to persuade the Senate to convict him of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” So far, I haven’t seen it. Unless and until that day arrives, Trump is going to continue bulldozing over his opponents and kicking the jambs in as he goes about dismantling the “meritocracy” that got this country in the mess it was in when he came to office.

  30. Ken Zaretzke says:

    “But a savvy Donald Trump saw the conspiracy right away. And he realized immediately that in order to carry his campaign agenda to Make America Great Again he must of necessity first preserve his presidency from the conspiracy of the Deep State, the mainstream media, and the establishment elites of both political parties”

    I agree that this is possibly the case, but what about Rosenstein’s Monster?

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/09/trump-russia-probe-robert-mueller-investigation

    IOW, why is Mueller being allowed to run amok? Does Trump have a plan to contain the damage, however fabricated, other than (rightly) criticizing Jeff Sessions for recusing himself?

  31. sam says:

    Wow! I thought that only stupid yahoos belived in conspiracy theories of the ” deep state” Turns out that the stupid yahoos were right. New York Times Confirmed it. I will never disrespect yahoos now.

  32. Bob says:

    The enemy of the American people is every elected politician and every appointed official and every civil servant. The problem is as simple as possible.

  33. TheScientist880 says:

    @Sid Finster “The fact is, the “Trump revolution” never got off the ground and it never will. He is, to put it quite simply, too weak and easily manipulated.

    Moreover, the Deep State, the intelligence agencies, whatever you want to call it, have a de facto veto over any future candidates for national office. Neither Team D nor Team R will be willing to allow the nomination of a candidate that the intelligence agencies disapprove of. The legacy parties are too risk adverse.”

    The reason why Trump’s revolution never got off the ground is because Trump never had any real political capital. When you win an election while losing the popular vote, you are viewed as illegitimate. The other party feels no obligation to work with you because most of the population doesn’t support your agenda. Add to this fact that the man is stupid and of course nothing associated with his agenda has happened. Any republican would have nominated the judges he has nominated. Any republican would have signed that tax cut. The only thing Trump has done to distinguish himself from a run of the mill republican is making the racist subtext text.

    Trump hasn’t had a single week of his presidency where the majority of the population supported the job he was doing in aggregate polls, not even during his inauguration! He will be the most fabulous gift to the democrats for the next 30 years because he has tainted 2 generations of young people against the GOP at the prime of their political identity formation period. He is so incompetent, his own people are fighting him. What happened to “I only hire the best people.”? It seems like everyone in that White House it taping everything that happens trying to cover their ass. This cluster is so absurd.

  34. Ivo Olavo Castro da Silva says:

    Thank you Mr. James Stagg. You’ve said it all. Nothing else needs to be added. You have revealed wide open the extreme moral filth of the American left establishment. They have reached the rock bottom of human decay. There is nothing remotely decent in their intentions. It’s an open conspiracy to bring down the USA before Trump manages to keep reversing the trend.

  35. TheScientist880 says:

    I hope we don’t find out who anonymous is for the next 2 years. This will create an extremely chaotic situation within the White House as Trump second guesses all of his aid’s advice. This is precisely what I’m looking for, I’m 100% rooting for his failure.

  36. EliteCommInc. says:

    “Therefore, if Trump is paranoid, it is because they really are plotting against him. He’s just not very good at fighting back.”

    I think it is a matter of targeting —

    And let’s not be completely unmindful that his opponents are not slouches, they have been at the politics much longer — he is not completely offbase to walk with some care —

    He cannot simply ignore every accusation. Anyone who has ever been in a long torturous fight understands, it takes energy. And if you have multiple opponents on multiple fronts, it would do well to appease some.

    Damoclese’s sword —

  37. Winston says:

    “If the socialist Left and its media allies succeed in tearing this president down, than 65 million folks like me will have absolute, incontrovertible evidence that we no longer live in a democracy and our vote means nothing, therefore we are powerless unless we take to the streets with…”

    It was incontrovertible long ago, these are just the more blatant latest examples. For instance, giving just one example, a Sec of State using an unauthorized, unsecured personal email server in her basement most likely to avoid the ability of FOIA requests to find anything on a particular topic, a server which contained classified emails up to TS/SCI/TK/NOFORN (spysat stuff) being given a total pass for what anyone who has ever handled classified materials would know they’d be put in a small room at Leavenworth for.

    Then, the now known to be false claim by Comey that the Weiner laptop which almost certainly contained even the deleted Clinton emails was thoroughly examined:

    “Only 3,077 of the 694,000 emails were directly reviewed for classified or incriminating information. Three FBI officials completed that work in a single 12-hour spurt the day before Comey again cleared Clinton of criminal charges.

    “Most of the emails were never examined, even though they made up potentially 10 times the evidence” of what was reviewed in the original year-long case that Comey closed in July 2016, said a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation.

    “Yet even the “extremely narrow” search that was finally conducted, after more than a month of delay, uncovered more classified material sent and/or received by Clinton through her unauthorized basement server, the official said. Contradicting Comey’s testimony, this included highly sensitive information dealing with Israel and the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas. The former secretary of state, however, was never confronted with the sensitive new information and it was never analyzed for damage to national security.

    “Even though the unique classified material was improperly stored and transmitted on an unsecured device, the FBI did not refer the matter to U.S. intelligence agencies to determine if national security had been compromised, as required under a federally mandated “damage assessment” directive.

    “The newly discovered classified material “was never previously sent out to the relevant original classification authorities for security review,” the official, who spoke to RealClearInvestigations on the condition of anonymity, said.

    To conclude:

    Mark Baum: It’s time to call BS.
    Vinnie Daniel: BS on what?
    Mark Baum: Every-f’ing-thing.
    – film “The Big Short” (2015)

  38. flood plain says:

    I agree with Bob. It’s all of them. Dump them all, including Trump, his creepy family and cronies, and the garbage GOP who passed the biggest deficit budget in US history.

    Trump already totally betrayed voters like me, who wanted our troops out of the Middle East and our resources and focus back on America, Americans, and American infrastructure.

    The smell coming from Washington, Wall Street, the MSM, and Silicon Valley is overpowering.

  39. Tono Bungay says:

    “ad nauseam,” not “-um”. Conservatives should get their Latin right.

  40. Lesley-Anne Raymer says:

    The Democrats have learned nothing of unintended consequences. When they held the majority in the Senate they changed the rules regarding the appointment of Judges. In their arrogance they assumed they would hold the majority for decades. As a result, they have made it easier for Trump to appoint two Supreme Court judges. Now they and their progressive friends are trying to unseat a fairly elected President. If this precedent is set then it will be used in the future for Presidents they have chosen. For those who rely on the fact that Hillary won more votes than Trump to claim that Trump is somehow an illegitimate President I would point out that the standard to win is the Electoral College, nothing more nothing less. If the popular vote was the standard to win then perhaps Trump would have run a different kind of campaign. Democrats/the MSM/Hollywood/Progressives/the Deep State need to get over it – Trump was elected fair and square. The democratic process they claim to revere actually worked. Undermining that process because they hate Trump will in the long run come back to bite them in the proverbial a***.

  41. Jon says:

    Trump threatens to make Bezos’ Amazon pay sales tax. Bezos’ Washington Post pays Woodward to write smears about Trump. All pretty simple when you follow the money. The saddest bit is that, as Caitlin Johnston wrote, it is like a big WWE competition, where people leave their brains at home and just cheer for their group regardless of what their man/woman does.

  42. Marvin Gardens says:

    I agree with several writers above: Trump’s a jerk. Too many betrayals. I won’t vote for him again, but I also loathe and distrust the Establishment and will start working immediately to kick out whoever replaces Trump.

  43. One Eyed Jax says:

    Trump does such a good job of subverting himself that I don’t know why anybody else bothers.

  44. Ken T says:

    Trump threatens to make Bezos’ Amazon pay sales tax.

    Amazon already pays sales tax. They gave up that fight several years ago, long before Trump was elected. (That was when they instituted the “guaranteed two day delivery” business model – they did that by opening warehouses all across the country, so they could no longer argue that they did not have a physical presence in all those states.) So Trump was “threatening” to force them to do what they were already doing.

    people leave their brains at home and just cheer for their group regardless of what their man/woman does.

    Yep, couldn’t have put it better myself.

  45. Jimmy Delivers says:

    I voted for Trump, and I don’t regret that, given the alternative, but now I want him gone as soon as legal and practical. Him and the damned foreign agents running his administration.

  46. America First? When Do We Start? says:

    Last week he cut off money for Palestinian refugees. Yesterday he cut off money for Palestinian hospitals. Today they report that he’s shutting down the Palestinian mission in Washington. He says he’s doing it all for Israel.

    When’s he going to do something for America? Anything at all for America?

  47. Joe the Plutocrat says:

    of course it’s a coup. what else is the deep state good for? just like, yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus? you cannot not have the commercial excess of Christmas without Santa Claus. you see, one man’s – and I am talking to Steve Bannon – deep state, is another man’s professional, patriotic, dedicated civil servants in the areas of law enforcement and intelligence/national security is another man’s deep state. oh, and two more things. 1 – for all the “Hillary was/would be worse” folks – Hillary was investigated and cleared. Just as Trump is presently being investigated, and will likely be cleared (not by the DoJ, Mueller, et al, but the Senate who will NOT vote to impeach, as it their Constitutional mandate, nor the SCOTUS (the only “voters” who matter in a plutocracy – think of it as a 9 person “electoral college”). and 2 – as such, as previously suggested, the “deep state” which has basically been in the “coup” business for the past 30-40 years is not a cabal of devious civil servants and bureaucrats, it’s the oligarchs on K Street – with special attention paid to the MIC, Wall Street, Silicon Valley. the whole Hollywood elite warning is rooted in the same “deep state” ruse being executed by the conspiracy trading right. as the Mueller investigation will show, and anyone who did business (outside of money laundering) with Trump from the 1980’s on will “testify”, Trump has always been a borderline or full-fledged criminal. whether or not Kavanaugh, Mitch McConnell or Rudy Giuliani, or Steve Bannon believe a sitting (criminal) POTUS can be indicted by anyone other than the Congress, is just plutocracy in action. it’s not a Constitutional crisis, it’s a sad game of three card Monty, or for the more intellectual inclined, chess.

  48. Ken Zaretzke says:

    From a deep state perspective, the conflict is between Trump’s presumptive legitimacy and the idealized legitimacy that the coup plotters represent. While they can sensibly (not necessarily accurately) deny that Trump possesses *actual* legitimacy, they can’t sensibly deny that he possesses presumptive legitimacy. And the kind of political legitimacy *they* represent can’t be considered anything other than idealized.

    And that’s why Trump wins.

    In the French Revolution, idealized legitimacy trumped presumptive legitimacy, not to say actual legitimacy. The American Revolution, embodied in the Constitution, wants nothing to do with such dangerous and politically destabilizing notions.

    Whereas a “presumptive heir” in a monarchy is only an *assumed* heir rather than a *rightful* heir, the idea of presumptive legitimacy is midway between legitimacy that is rightful and that which is merely assumed. Trump’s position is stronger than that of a presumptive heir to the throne–which is to say very strong.

    The end result is that Trump is constitutionally very well situated even if we allow, for the sake of argument, that to call his legitimacy actual, as opposed to “merely” presumptive, is question- begging.

  49. One Guy says:

    Of course Trump is incompetent to lead. He can’t even avoid hiring people who steal papers off his desk. He claims to have the best words, but can’t pronounce “anonymous”. He claims to be highly educated, but doesn’t know who Frederick Douglass is. The people who know him best call him an idiot.

    But, things won’t change as long as the people vote for style over substance. John Kasich would make a great president, if only by virtue of the fact that he would focus attention on issues, rather than bluster. But he has the disadvantage of never having been a reality show star like Honey Boo-Boo, Snooki, and Donald Trump.

  50. Kurt Gayle says:

    KevinS said: “Stephen J writes, ‘Isn’t it amazing that the anonymous article and the book seem to coincide perfectly.’
    Yeah, it is amazing! Absolutely unbelievable! How could that possibly be?”

    You’re right, KevinS and Stephen J: Interesting “coincidences”. There are lots of interesting “coincidences”:

    Nov. 6th 2018–midterm elections to be held.

    August 24th, 2018 McCain’s family announces that McCain will no longer receive treatment for his cancer.

    August 25th (the following day) McCain dies. John McCain’s wife, Cindy, chooses these words for her tweet of August 25th: “He passed the way he lived, ON HIS OWN TERMS…” (capitals mine)

    Beginning of 9 days of blanket mainstream media coverage and commentary–August 25th to September 2nd.

    On August 29th McCain lies in state in Phoenix.

    August 30th, McCain service at North Phoenix Baptist Church.

    On July 30, 2018, CNN reports anonymous sources tell them that Bob Woodward will release a book on the Trump administration on September 11, 2018. Mainstream media begins discussing the Woodward book.

    August 31st McCain lies in state in the rotunda of the United States Capitol.

    Sept. 1st service for McCain at the Washington National Cathedral. Prior to his death, McCain asked that former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama deliver eulogies at his funeral, and asked that President Donald Trump not attend the services.

    Sept. 2nd McCain is buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery.

    Sept. 5th New York Times publishes “anonymous” anti-Trump op-ed.

    Sept. 7th former President Barack Obama attacks President Trump during a public address.

    Sept 11th Woodward anti-Trump book officially released for sale to the public.

    Nov. 6th 2018 midterm elections to be held.

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