The results of the Helsinki summit are in. President Trump couldn’t handle statecraft or, for that matter, double negatives, but he came out of the meeting undefeated and invincible. Like with the Charlottesville hatefest or the “Access Hollywood” tape, it was just another day at the office for Trump. Unlike the mocking balloon that soared over London, Trump never loses air.
The post-summit poll numbers are instructive. While 50 percent of Americans disapproved of the way Trump handled Vladimir Putin, his Republican base stayed both loyal and comatose. In a Post-ABC News poll, 66 percent of Republicans approved of Trump’s performance. An earlier Axios-SurveyMonkey poll put the GOP figure at 79 percent, not only more impressive but also downright eerie.
It is safe to say that these numbers might have surprised even the shaken White House staffers who flew back to Washington with Trump. The commentariat was already on the air, reporting on the summit as if it were a multicar Beltway collision. Even Fox News was critical, and Newt Gingrich, whose wife is Trump’s ambassador to the Holy See, called the meeting “the most serious mistake” of Trump’s presidency — an extremely high bar.
National security adviser John Bolton got to work. On the plane, according to the Wall Street Journal, he went about the painful business of damage control and hammered out talking points advising Trump on how to reclaim reality. One idea was for Trump to assert his support for the U.S. intelligence community, the sort of prosaic statement, like a belief in God, that no president had ever had to make. Trump, of course, did so — and maintained this stance for almost a day.
There is such a thing, we are told, as Trump Derangement Syndrome. It is an ideological version of a speech disoder, which causes certain people to denounce Trump in obscene ways. It has come over the likes of Robert De Niro and, when it came to Ivanka Trump, Samantha Bee. It has prompted others to call Trump a traitor, which is a slanderous accusation too often used for crass political reasons. Sen. Joseph McCarthy called the Roosevelt-Truman administrations “20 years of treason.”
Yet, the more dangerous variant of the syndrome is the willingness of most Republicans to support Trump no matter what. One of the first outbreaks of this occurred in the 2016 South Carolina Republican primary, which Trump won handily. He did so running against fellow Republicans, not the reliably useful Hillary Clinton. He even swept the evangelical Christian vote, beating such staunch conservatives as Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Ben Carson, both of whom have been married only once. The thrice-married Trump, in vivid contrast, had run casinos and exchanged countless smirky remarks with Howard Stern. His piety was in question.
As far as the evangelical community is concerned, nothing has changed. Trump has been accused of adultery and of buying the silence of his alleged paramours. He has referred to impoverished nations as “shithole countries” and — unforgivably — belittled the wartime torture of Sen. John McCain. None of this shook his base. On the contrary, his support within the Republican Party has risen and solidified. It now stands at around 90 percent, which is what tin-pot dictators get in rigged elections.
The upshot is that we now have two political parties — one pro-Trump and one anti-. Some celebrated Republicans — George F. Will, for instance — have already declared their apostasy. Will is now “unaffiliated,” but no one runs for president as that. In this country, if you’re anti-Trump, realism says you’ve got to vote Democratic. (Please, no more of this Libertarian or Green Party nonsense.)
It’s impossible to say at this point whether the pro-Trump/anti-Trump dichotomy is just about the man himself or represents a wider and more permanent political realignment. (Who’s the next Trump?) But it’s clear that something beyond economics — and certainly not foreign policy — motivates Trump’s people. My guess is that it’s a low-boil rage against a vague and threatening liberalism — urbane, educated, affluent, secular, diverse and sexually tolerant. It is, in other words, some of the same sentiment that once fueled European fascism.
Those of us who write newspaper columns know that sheer brilliance, should it happen, gets a silent nod of the head, but affirmation — saying what readers already think — gets loud hurrahs. This is Trump’s appeal as well. He validates the thinking — some of it ugly — of many Americans. To them, Helsinki doesn’t matter and even Putin doesn’t matter. Only Trump does. To them, he hates the right people.
This article was from The Washington Post
House Democrats Subpoena Full Mueller Report, and the Underlying Evidence
WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee formally issued a subpoena on Friday demanding that the Justice Department hand over to Congress an unredacted version of Robert S. Mueller III’s report and all of the evidence underlying it by May 1.
The subpoena, one of the few issued thus far by House Democrats, escalates a fight with Attorney General William P. Barr over what material Congress is entitled to see from the special counsel’s nearly two-year investigation. The chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, asked for all evidence, including summaries of witness interviews and classified intelligence.
“My committee needs and is entitled to the full version of the report and the underlying evidence consistent with past practice,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement. “Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President Trump and some of his closest associates. It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.”
Mr. Nadler’s deadline falls a day before Mr. Barr is scheduled to testify publicly before the Judiciary Committee in what is expected to be an explosive session where Democrats plan to excoriate Mr. Barr’s handling of the report and Republicans will urge their colleagues to accept that there was no criminality and move on.
Mr. Barr released to Congress and the public a redacted copy of the more than 400-page report on Thursday. Though the redactions were less extensive than some Democrats feared, the Justice Department had blacked out sections of the report that it said contained classified material, secretive grand jury testimony or information that would affect investigations still underway.
Democrats have been threatening to issue a subpoena for weeks, and the Justice Department on Thursday sought to head off the subpoena with a pledge to share more information with Congress.
Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, wrote in a letter that the department would allow the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate, as well as the heads of their judiciary and intelligence committees, to view a fuller version of the report beginning next week. But he said even that copy would still have secretive grand jury information blacked out because of legal requirements.
Given the sensitive nature of the information, Mr. Boyd wrote, “all individuals reviewing the less-redacted version” must agree to keep the newly unredacted information confidential.
Mr. Nadler rejected the proposed accommodation as insufficient on Friday. He has repeatedly asked the Justice Department to join him in requesting that a court unseal the grand jury information, in particular, for Congress to review privately. Mr. Barr has so far rejected that request.
“I am open to working with the department to reach a reasonable accommodation for access to these materials,” he said, “however I cannot accept any proposal which leaves most of Congress in the dark, as they grapple with their duties of legislation, oversight and constitutional accountability.”
(Reporting by Washington Post)
Judge Rejects Anti-Vaxxer Lawsuit Against New York City’s Vaccine Mandate
A state judge on Thursday rejected a lawsuit filed by anti-vaccination parents who sought to lift New York City’s new measles vaccination mandate, as parts of the metropolis continue to face an outbreak.
“A fireman need not obtain the informed consent of the owner before extinguishing a house fire,” Judge Lawrence Knipel wrote in his ruling. “Vaccination is known to extinguish the fire of contagion.”
Five anonymous parents in Brooklyn filed the lawsuit earlier this week against the city health department for ordering the mandatory vaccinations in parts of the borough amid a growing outbreak of the measles virus concentrated in the Williamsburg area. The lawsuit said the city’s response is “irrational,” and that the spread of the virus does not pose a clear danger to public health.
Knipel ruled that the city’s decision to require measles vaccinations during the outbreak is supported by “largely uncontroverted” evidence.
New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot issued the emergency order on April 9, requiring everyone who lives and works within four Brooklyn ZIP codes to receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine if they hadn’t already gotten it. Failure to comply with the mandate could result in misdemeanor punishments, including criminal fines or imprisonment.
The city has already issued summons to three people who refused the mandate and face $1,000 in fines.
As of Wednesday, the measles outbreak has infected at least 329 people since October, mostly children from Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, according to Barbot. Many Orthodox Jewish people believe vaccinations go against Jewish or Talmudic law, resulting in low vaccination rates for some communities.
Barbot praised the decision to dismiss the lawsuit, saying in a statement to HuffPost that it “will protect New Yorkers from a very dangerous infection with potentially fatal consequences.”
She added that officials “do not want to issue violations but will continue and hope that New Yorkers make the best choice for their families, their neighbors and their own health ― to get vaccinated.”
(Reporting by HuffPost)
Federal Appeals Court Backs California Laws To Protect Immigrants
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Thursday kept in place three California laws intended to protect immigrants, continuing the state’s efforts to be a national leader in opposing Trump administration policies.
The court upheld lower court rulings denying the Trump administration’s request to block law enforcement from providing release dates and personal information of people in jail, as well as to throw out a law barring employers from allowing immigration officials on their premises unless the officials have a warrant.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected U.S. District Judge John Mendez’s reasoning last year for denying a portion of the third law, which requires the state to review detention facilities where immigrants are held. It ruled that the section requiring the state to review circumstances surrounding the apprehension and transfer of detainees puts an impermissible burden on the federal government.
But the appellate panel said Mendez can consider rejecting a preliminary injunction for that section on other legal grounds.
The U.S. Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has repeatedly sued the Trump administration mostly over immigration and environmental decisions, said the ruling shows that states’ rights “continue to thrive.”
“We continue to prove in California that the rule of law not only stands for something but that people cannot act outside of it,” Becerra said in a statement.
California officials have said the immigration laws promote trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement, while the administration argued the state is allowing dangerous criminals on the streets.
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