Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Saturday, October 15, 2016
On Sunday, Donald Trump denied that he had any relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview with ABC News.
Trump added his previous talk of him having a relationship with Putin was just the two saying nice things about each other.
“I don’t know what it means by having a relationship,” Trump added. “I mean, he was saying very good things about me. But I don’t have a relationship with him.”
In 2014, during a speech at CPAC[,] Trump, though, boasted about meeting with Putin’s advisers — even receiving a gift and personal note from Putin during the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. . . .
In 2013, Trump told MSNBC he had a relationship with Putin. Mother Jones posted video last week of Trump saying he talked “indirectly and directly” with Putin in a 2014 press conference.
Trump also repeatedly said in the GOP presidential debates that he got to know Putin when both were on 60 Minutes. Now he says he wouldn’t know him from Adam (considering he doesn’t know Russia troops are in the Crimea, the last part might be true).
As with so many things, the question for Donald Trump is: Was he lying then or lying now? It’s equally likely he was lying back in 2013 and 2014 to make himself sound more important as it is that he is lying now to avoid sounding too chummy with the authoritarian he openly admires and consistently praises.
Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort asserts the Trump team never did anything to take out of the platform support for defensive arms to Ukraine. My colleague Josh Rogin reports otherwise and says Manafort is lying. I’m going with Josh’s version on this one — as should any sentient being.
What Donald Trump is doing on the campaign trail
View Photos The GOP presidential nominee is out on the trail ahead of the general election in November.
Trump says he got a letter from the NFL pleading with him to reschedule the debates. The NFL says there was no letter. In the absence of, well, the letter, I’ll believe the NFL on this one.
Trump repeatedly said he would release his tax returns. Then he said he couldn’t because some years were being audited. No, he’s produced no audit letter nor logically explained why he couldn’t release some years’ returns. Now he says Mitt Romney lost because of his tax returns, suggesting that he just doesn’t want to release them because the demands for the returns are less painful than releasing what is in the returns.
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A boastful billionaire who says he’s been super generous to charity, you’d think, wouldn’t mind showing us just how rich and generous he is. Trump, a raving narcissist, however won’t let them out. I’m going with the theory they show he’s not so rich, not so generous and very good at paying little or no tax.
He lied about giving all that money to veterans’ charities — until The Post’s reporting forced him to cough up some money. The Post’s reporting says he has not given a dime to charity since 2008. He claims to have given “anonymously.” No recipients offered to come forward at the convention or anywhere else. Given that Trump brags incessantly about his charitable giving, there should be loads of beneficiaries, so I’ll go with the theory he’s not been charitable at all since 2008.
Trump lied, saying that it wasn’t his voice on a tape pretending to be his own publicist, even though in the past he said he would do this sort of thing.
He lied about seeing widespread celebrations by American Muslims on 9/11. He lies about what Hillary Clinton is proposing (e.g. “repeal the Second Amendment,”). He lies when caught saying something objectionable (e.g. his ear piece wasn’t working).
No wonder he’s gotten 4 Pinocchios from The Post — 33 times. Perhaps we should instead start keeping track of the times he tells the truth. It would be less work.
Friday, October 14, 2016
WASHINGTON — Several of the Republican Party’s most generous donors called on the Republican National Committee on Thursday to disavow Donald J. Trump, saying that allegations by multiple women that Mr. Trump had groped or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them threatened to inflict lasting damage on the party’s image.
To an elite group of Republican contributors who have donated millions of dollars to the party’s candidates and committees in recent years, the cascade of revelations related to Mr. Trump’s sexual conduct is grounds for the committee to cut ties with the party’s beleaguered standard-bearer, finally and fully.
“At some point, you have to look in the mirror and recognize that you cannot possibly justify support for Trump to your children — especially your daughters,” said David Humphreys, a Missouri business executive who contributed more than $2.5 million to Republicans from the 2012 campaign cycle through this spring.
Bruce Kovner, a New York investor and philanthropist who with his wife has given $2.7 million to Republicans over the same period, was just as blunt. “He is a dangerous demagogue completely unsuited to the responsibilities of a United States president,” Mr. Kovner wrote in an email, referring to Mr. Trump.
“Even for loyalists, there is a line beyond which the obvious moral failings of a candidate are impossible to disregard,” he wrote. “That line has been clearly breached.”
Mr. Kovner argued that the Republican National Committee should shift its attention to candidates who reflected its core values, like free markets and limited government. “I hope the R.N.C. sticks to candidates who articulate these principles!” he said.
Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, in August. He has been criticized for staying loyal to Mr. Trump. Credit Mark Makela for The New York Times
Outrage among the party’s largest financiers over Mr. Trump’s behavior has also stirred questions about the leadership of Reince Priebus, the national committee’s chairman, who has remained loyal to Mr. Trump even as dozens of Republican elected officials have abandoned his candidacy. Mr. Priebus told members of the committee on Monday that the party was enthusiastically supporting Mr. Trump, reassuring some of them.
But to some leading Republican benefactors who have advocated a tougher line with Mr. Trump, the party should have distanced itself from his candidacy well before the publication of a recording last week in which he boasted profanely about committing sexual assault.
“The R.N.C. long ago should have cut ties with Donald Trump,” said William E. Oberndorf, a California investor who has given more than $3 million to Republicans since 2012. “Reince should be fired and replaced with someone who has the competence and leadership skills to rebuild the R.N.C.”
Even some of Mr. Priebus’s longtime associates in his native Wisconsin appear to have reached their breaking point.
“Reince Priebus has to ask, how much of his soul does he want to sell for Donald Trump at this point?” said Charlie Sykes, a conservative talk show host in Milwaukee, calling on Mr. Priebus to “man up.”
Mr. Sykes also alluded to Mr. Trump’s repeated denunciations this week of Speaker Paul D. Ryan — another Wisconsinite and a close friend of Mr. Priebus’s — who said Monday that he would no longer defend or campaign for Mr. Trump. At a fund-raising event in Florida on Wednesday night, Mr. Trump told donors that he did not respect Mr. Ryan.
Referring to Mr. Priebus, Mr. Sykes asked, “Is he going to allow Donald Trump to throw Paul Ryan under the bus?”
For all Mr. Priebus’s public expressions of loyalty, he has been deeply shaken by revelations about Mr. Trump and the rifts within the party, seeing years of Republican organizational work potentially being undone, according to multiple people who described private conversations with Mr. Priebus on the condition of anonymity. He has said he feels adrift, fearing that Mr. Trump is headed for disaster, and told one longtime associate that he was having sleepless nights. Mr. Priebus did not respond to requests for comment.
The Republican financial apparatus under Mr. Priebus, sputtering since Mr. Trump claimed the presidential nomination, is wheezing painfully in the final weeks of the race. The committee’s fund-raising officials now quietly acknowledge that Mr. Trump is a thoroughly compromised candidate, party donors said, but implore potential contributors to give anyway, stressing graver concerns like control of the Supreme Court.
Many donors have stopped giving, though, and some have deserted the party, including two major donors who confirmed on Thursday that they were supporting Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor who is the Libertarian candidate for president.
Julian H. Robertson Jr., a billionaire hedge fund investor who has directed more than $5 million to Republicans since the 2012 election, is now backing Mr. Johnson, said Fraser P. Seitel, a spokesman for Mr. Robertson. And Jeffrey Yass, a Pennsylvania investor who has given more than $3 million to conservative candidates and committees, said in an email that he was “rooting for Johnson.”
Even some of Mr. Priebus’s allies believe that Mr. Trump is certain to be defeated and that it is time for the party to protect its image by disavowing him.
“We’re headed for destruction,” said Al Hoffman, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman and a longtime Florida donor, who plans to host Senator John McCain of Arizona at his house for a fund-raiser this week. “I just hope we can find a group of conservatives and moderates who are rational thinkers to re-establish the party.”
But other leading Republicans believe the party has little choice but to prop up Mr. Trump, fearing that excommunicating him would be catastrophic for other Republican candidates and all but hand over control of Congress to Democrats. And in some parts of the country, Mr. Trump has been a boon to the party.
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“He will bring over a minimum of two state House guys and two state senators for us,” said the Pennsylvania state Republican chairman, Rob Gleason, who predicted a record presidential turnout for his party west of the Susquehanna River.
While some Republican donors and elected officials have had it with Mr. Trump, another constituency dear to Mr. Priebus remains committed to the nominee: the 168 members of the national committee. In a series of emails shared this week with The New York Times, some Republican state chairmen and chairwomen and national committee members affirmed their support for Mr. Trump and saluted Mr. Priebus for standing by him.
“He is our candidate,” Rosie Tripp, the Republican committeewoman from New Mexico, wrote to other members of the committee. “I am dismayed by our own Republicans who are bailing like rats off a ship. He who is without sin can cast the first stone. I am sure they are not as pure as the driven snow, either.”
Juliana Bergeron, the Republican committeewoman from New Hampshire, agreed. “There are worse things in this world,” Ms. Bergeron wrote, referring to Mr. Trump’s conduct, “and Hillary Clinton is near the top of that list.”
The views of the committee members, most of whom are party activists, not political professionals, are important because Mr. Priebus is considering running in January for another term as chairman. And when the party does not control the White House, the chairman is selected by a vote of the members.
Should he seek another term, Mr. Priebus is expected to face competition from Mr. Trump’s critics as well as his loyalists. Matt Borges, the Ohio Republican Party chairman and an outspoken Trump detractor, is said to be considering the chairman’s post, as are several state-level officials supportive of Mr. Trump.
Asked about his interest in the job, Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, declined to rule out a run, saying only that he was happy in his current work as a CNN commentator.
Jonathan Martin reported from Washington, and Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman from New York.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
I understand why you resent President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. True, Obama has given Israel billions in military aid, protected Israel in the United Nations, and validated the country’s founding narrative. But he has been prickly in his approach to its leaders, fanatic in his opposition to settlements and unable to understand that Israelis respond better to love-love than tough love. I disagree when you call either of them “anti-Israel”: I reserve that term for people like Max “It’s a Mitzva” Blumenthal and Palestinian delegitimizers.
Still, Obama – and Clinton – often seem far angrier about housing starts by civilians in Israel than lives ended violently by terrorists in Israel, Syria and elsewhere.
And yes, I fear that president Hillary Clinton will come in with the same blame-Israel-first, settlement obsessed, tired peace processors who have failed for 20 years. I worry about the lurking influence of George Soros and Sidney Blumenthal. Moreover, I am distressed that the Democratic Party, while still overwhelmingly pro-Israel, has become the home to the radical anti-Israel forces in America – and that no Democrat of stature has had the nerve to confront them, saying: “Get out! Your anti-Zionism which masks antisemitism does not belong in my party.”
Still, I start with some assumptions before voting.
First, a patriot shouldn’t vote based on a single issue but on an overall assessment of the candidate’s policy and ideology. Second, character counts. The president combines the role of king (or queen) and prime minister; we need a good role model in the office. And third, regarding Israel, the old saying is correct: if America has the sniffles Israel catches a cold, or, more positively, what’s good for America is good for Israel.
Beyond Obama’s Israel churlishness, he has been disastrous for Israel because his farcical foreign policy has weakened America, the West and Israel. The weakness he broadcasts, his cowardice and incompetence regarding China, Syria, Islamic State, Iran and Russia have undermined Israel’s strategic strength as America’s loyal friend, more than any anti-housing or anti-Netanyahu temper tantrums.
Given those understandings, here are three groups of questions you should ask yourself before voting for Donald Trump. First, what policies actually will define this man with no governing experience, who contradicts himself mid-sentence, who treats facts and principles like silly putty to twist to satisfy the needs of the moment? He’s a twice-divorced darling of the Evangelicals, someone who was pro-choice until it was convenient to be pro-life, an unpredictable, showboating real estate gambler who has won big and lost big.
Every campaign appearance of his has been drive-by performance art suited to the age of bluster and Twitter, lacking thoughtful analysis or anchoring principles.
And how do you even know this self-absorbed deal-maker won’t decide he knows how to impose the right solution on the Israelis and the Palestinians? Second, and related, do you think this impulsive, egotistical narcissist has the temperament to be the most powerful person in the world and the character to represent an America that is now 78 percent white and 50% female? My issue is not with the offensive private banter he – and Bill Clinton and many other boors – indulge in. No, I fear his public statements. How could a president Trump earn respect from Mexican-Americans, from Muslim-Americans, from immigrants, from the disabled, when he has denigrated them so? Trump has lowered the rhetorical bar in American politics, pitted groups against others, stirring a nastiness that appalls and terrifies.
Obama’s election in 2008 offered a healing moment, allowing all Americans, black and white, Republican and Democrat, to appreciate that the country that once enslaved blacks could elect one president; a Trump election victory would be a traumatic moment demonstrating that ugliness, not character, counts – and inviting boorish imitators in future campaigns.
Finally, Hillary Clinton, for all her flaws, is a part of the system, for all its flaws. I understand the desire to shake things up but aren’t the stakes too high to fire so blindly? How can Trump translate his bluff and bluster into effective strategies against America’s enemies? In the debates, when pressed, he only repeats himself and uses words like “tremendous” – that’s posturing, not a strategy.
Last week, I moderated a debate between a Trump representative and a Clinton representative at the Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem. During the Q&A, these smart, idealistic Israeli high school students asked hard-hitting questions about both candidates which left me feeling depressed about both choices. But two questions, about Trump’s “racism” and ugly rhetoric, were truly devastating. I tried to be a fair moderator, asking the kinds of normal questions one asks about presidential candidates’ biographies and stands. I realized that, especially since Trump’s nomination, we have normalized his monstrosities, we have mainstreamed his deviance.
An Israeli newspaper or column shouldn’t endorse one candidate or another, but those of us who love America and Israel, who champion democratic and Jewish values, must point out just how outrageous Trump’s behavior has been – and how dangerous it could be in the Oval Office. Good luck to us all in choosing.
The author, professor of history at McGill University, is the author of The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s, published by St. Martin’s Press. His next book will update Arthur Hertzberg’s The Zionist Idea. Follow on Twitter @GilTroy.
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