Terrifying Tuesday ReadsPosted: October 22, 2019
If you thought Trump couldn’t be any more despicable than we already knew, behold his latest outrage.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday called House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry a “lynching,” employing a term associated with the extrajudicial killings of African-Americans while calling on Republicans to aid his political defense.
“So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching. But we will WIN!” the President tweeted.
Trump has repeatedly railed against the probe, calling it a “witch hunt” and a “fraud,” but Tuesday marks his first use of the term “lynching,” which is associated with a period of horrific racial violence in the United States, in regard to the inquiry. Following Emancipation and the Civil War, killings, often carried out in public settings, known as lynchings, terrorized newly freed black Americans. Thousands of citizens were killed this way.
Trump’s use of the term is also notable as he has frequently stoked racial tensions while in office, from referring to undocumented immigrants as an “infestation” to sharply criticizing African-American athletes who protest during the National Anthem.
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, responded to Trump’s comparison of the impeachment inquiry to lynching with a pair of pointed tweets.
“You are comparing a constitutional process to the PREVALENT and SYSTEMATIC brutal torture of people in THIS COUNTRY that looked like me?” she wrote.
“Every time your back is up against the wall, you throw out these racial bombs,” Bass said in a second tweet. “We’re not taking the bait. While we CONTINUE our business here in DC, why don’t you take a trip to the @MemPeaceJustice in Alabama and LEARN SOMETHING.”
Her tweet used the Twitter handle for the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which, according to its website, is “dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.”
If that isn’t sickening enough, Trump suck-up Lindsey Graham announced his agreement.
Honestly, I feel sick knowing that Trump can and will get even worse.
The latest CNN poll, released this morning, found that “50% support impeaching Trump and removing him from office.”
Half of Americans say President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, a new high in CNN polling on the topic and the first time that support for impeachment and removal has significantly outpaced opposition….
Support for impeachment and removal is strongest among Democrats (87% favor it) and stands at 50% among independents. Among Republicans, just 6% say they support impeaching and removing the Republican President, lower than the 14% who said so in a September CNN poll. While a handful of other polls also have found support for impeachment in double digits among Republicans, most have found Republican support closer to the level in the new CNN poll than the September one.
Beyond partisanship, demographic dividing lines on impeachment seem to mirror those that have driven Trump’s approval rating throughout his presidency. Women (56%) are more apt than men (44%) to favor impeachment and removal. Nonwhites (68%) support it in greater numbers than whites (40%), and whites are split by education (51% with college degrees back impeachment and removal vs. 35% of those without degrees) and further by gender (26% of white men without college degrees favor impeachment and removal, but that more than doubles to 54% among white women who hold four-year degrees).
The poll finds that Americans overall are entrenched in their views on each side of the impeachment debate. Among those who say Trump should be impeached and removed, 90% say they feel that way strongly, as do 86% of those who say he should not be impeached and removed.
Trump’s response to all this has been an extended tantrum. The Daily Beast: With Impeachment Looming, Trump Is Threatening to Sue ‘Everybody Who Pisses Him Off.’
Last week, as the White House struggled to grapple with an accelerating impeachment probe and a bloodbath in Syria, President Donald Trump’s mind drifted to old, familiar territory: threatening frivolous and petty lawsuits.
With crises surrounding him, the president spent days privately grousing to those close to him about undercover video and audio, released by Project Veritas, purportedly showing a vast anti-Trump conspiracy orchestrated by CNN President Jeff Zucker. According to a source with direct knowledge of Trump’s grievance, the president repeatedly made clear that he wanted there to be consequences for CNN’s alleged malfeasance (though the released videos showed fairly mundane, if not outright boring, editorial meetings).
Representing both the president and the 2020 Trump campaign, Gawker-killing celebrity lawyer Charles Harder sent a four-page document to Zucker and CNN General Counsel David Vigilante alleging the news channel was violating the law with its coverage. In the letter, Trump and Harder threatened to sue CNN for falsely advertising itself as a legitimate news outlet, in addition to seeking “substantial payment of damages” as part of some sort of resolution.
Reached for comment by phone on Friday, Harder simply hung up and wouldn’t answer questions about Trump’s role in crafting the letter. (The president has been known to enthusiastically suggest insults and jabs in his lawyers’ missives.) A Harder spokesman also declined to comment and said that the letter spoke for itself.
The delivery of the Trump attorney’s four-page document was a blip on the news cycle, but one that offered a glimpse into how the president has often responded over the decades when he feels besieged. In his game-show host years and real-estate days, he and his legal counsel would frequently lean on lawsuits and legal threats as an intimidation tactic—even if they knew there was no chance of it advancing in the courts. It’s a strategy that Trump hasn’t abandoned, even after he became leader of the free world. And with impeachment at the hands of House Democrats looming, one senior White House official said that the president’s impulse to sue, or say he’ll sue, “everybody who pisses him off” is only intensifying….
According to two people close to the president, Trump has also asked his lawyers and advisers about options for legal retaliation against other news outlets, including MSNBC and The Washington Post.
Trump is ridiculous, but he’s still sitting in the White House, and he’s also a danger the country and the world.
Last night The Washington Post reported that Putin and Hungary’s Orban helped sour Trump on Ukraine.
President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine for information he could use against political rivals came as he was being urged to adopt a hostile view of that country by its regional adversaries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, current and former U.S. officials said.
Trump’s conversations with Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and others reinforced his perception of Ukraine as a hopelessly corrupt country — one that Trump now also appears to believe sought to undermine him in the 2016 U.S. election, the officials said.
Neither of those foreign leaders specifically encouraged Trump to see Ukraine as a potential source of damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, nor did they describe Kyiv as complicit in an unsubstantiated 2016 election conspiracy theory, officials said.
But their disparaging depictions of Ukraine reinforced Trump’s perceptions of the country and fed a dysfunctional dynamic in which White House officials struggled to persuade Trump to support the fledgling government in Kyiv instead of exploiting it for political purposes, officials said.
The role played by Putin and Orban, a hard-right leader who has often allied himself with the Kremlin’s positions, was described in closed-door testimony last week by George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, before House impeachment investigators, U.S. officials said.
Kent cited the influence of those leaders as a factor that helped sour Trump on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the months leading up to their July 25 phone call — a conversation that triggered an extraordinary whistleblower complaint as well as a House impeachment inquiry.
Read the rest at the WaPo and read more details at The New York Times.
Meanwhile in the Trump-caused Syrian situation, the so-called “cease fire” ends today. The Guardian: Erdoğan threatens to ramp up assault on Kurds in Syria ‘safe zone.’
The Turkish president has threatened to press ahead with an operation against Kurdish-led forces in Syria “even more strongly” if promises made by the US regarding the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters have not been met by the time a five-day ceasefire expires.
Up to 1,300 fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are yet to vacate Ankara’s proposed border “safe zone”, as per the terms of a ceasefire announced by the US vice-president, Mike Pence, in Ankara last week, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters before flying to Russia.
Erdoğan is meeting Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Tuesday for talks expected to focus on the size and scope of the planned buffer zone before the pause in fighting ends at 10pm local time (1900 GMT).
Turkish troops, allied Syrian rebel proxies, the SDF, and soldiers belonging to both the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and his Russian allies are all now present in the border area after Donald Trump announced he would withdraw US troops, paving the way for Ankara to launch an attack on the SDF on 9 October.
As a result of the Turkish offensive, Syria’s Kurdish officials struck a deal with Assad, their former enemy, for military reinforcements in the border area.
Trump’s withdrawal of the remaining 1,000 US special forces from Kurdish-held Syria means Moscow and Ankara have emerged as the two main foreign players in Syria’s long war.
Finally, from this morning’s New York Times: ISIS Reaps Gains of U.S. Pullout From Syria.
When President Trump announced this month that he would pull American troops out of northern Syria and make way for a Turkish attack on the Kurds, Washington’s onetime allies, many warned that he was removing the spearhead of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
Now, analysts say that Mr. Trump’s pullout has handed the Islamic State its biggest win in more than four years and greatly improved its prospects. With American forces rushing for the exits, in fact, American officials said last week that they were already losing their ability to collect critical intelligence about the group’s operations on the ground.
“There is no question that ISIS is one of the big winners in what is happening in Syria,” said Lina Khatib, director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House, a research center in London.
Cutting support for the Syrian Democratic Forces has crippled the ability of the United States and its former partners to hunt down the group’s remnants.
News of the American withdrawal set off jubilation among Islamic State supporters on social media and encrypted chat networks. It has lifted the morale of fighters in affiliates as far away as Libya and Nigeria.
That’s it for me. What stories are you following today?