Trump for Dummies: The Ultimate Guide For Responding to Friends Who Still LOVE Trump
Just seven months into his administration, President Donald Trump is not enjoying what many would call a great time thus far in the White House. That’s not an subjective opinion, but rather an objective assessment based on a few known facts, which are listed below:
1) Trump’s Approval Ratings — Quinnipiac has him at 33% — are at record lows for a new president in his first year. Even Rasmussen Polls, who have long thought to slightly shift in a pro-Republican way, has had Trump as low as a 39% approval.
2) Turmoil in Trump’s White House — There have been far more comings and goings than we typically see, with a new Chief of Staff starting, a recent Director of Communications out just 10 days after being announced, and the Chief Strategist leaving with next to none of his strategy fulfilled.
3) Russia Russia Russia – Then there is that whole investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who have recently paneled a grand jury which could lead to indictment on a number of issues including possible collusion with Russia over efforts to interfere in the 2016 General Election as well as a reported investigation into Trump’s finances over the past 10 years.
Yes there are other issues at play, but we will leave it at that for now.
To Trump’s credit, however, there is a hard-core base of supporters who refuse to believe almost any negative reports, writing them all off as “fake news” (perhaps taking a cue from Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed, which consistently aims to undermine the authority and reliability of media outlets who produce factual but critical reports of the president.)
Most of us at least have friends and family members who somehow remain ardent Trump supporters with often specious arguments for why Trump is the victim. Given the limitations, we’ve decided to create a handy guide to simply outline the responses to many of the sometimes absurd and maddening pro-Trump salvos designed to defend this embattled president. So here we go!
“Why is the Deep State out to get Trump?”
What exactly is the “Deep State”? Conspiracy theorists seem to believe that there is some sort of shadow government that is controlling things, and more importantly, undermining the Trump administration, though there is no specific and reliable evidence to suggest this to be true. A more charitable and realistic definition of the “Deep State” is what we used to call “inside the beltway” insiders, or more to the point, the D.C. “establishment,” who are not fans of Trump’s non-traditional method of governing.
In many respects, this should come as no surprise, as there has long been a tradition of conflict between a new administration eager to “change the culture” (or “Drain the Swamp”) and the institutional fortitude of every branch of government filled with life-long bureaucrats who do not want to change an environment from which they benefit. There is one point, however, that is worth mentioning. President Trump — and many other Republican allies before him — ran on the incompetent and inefficient ways of the federal government. But now the very same federal government (or Deep State) is being criticized for being too cunning, clever and capable in undermining Trump’s White House. Something isn’t adding up here.
“Why is Mueller’s whole team made up of Democrats?”
Well, the easy answer is that Mueller’s team is NOT made up of all Democrats. Mueller has assembled a crack team of very well respected lawyers who are experts in a number of issues surrounding Trump’s business dealings, bank and wire fraud and international businesses partnerships. Robert Mueller is a very accomplished career prosecutor who served in the Republican White House of George W. Bush and is (or at least was) a registered Republican himself! Many of the team members gave up million dollar jobs at high profile law firms to undergo this work. It is true that seven special counsel members have donated to Democratic campaigns, but the other six on the team have not given any public donations according to Federal Election Commission records. On top of that, many of the members have served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and have also donated to both parties.
For example, James Quarles a well-respected attorney, who gained fame for his serving as an assistant special prosecutor during the Watergate investigation, has donated to both Republicans and Democrats, according to records viewed by LawNewz.com. And when it comes to credentials, you can’t really argue that the team isn’t qualified.
Michael Dreeben has argued more than 100 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Duke Law school graduate has served in the U.S. Solicitor General’s office since 1988, serving and defending the executive office during both Republican and Democratic administrations.
“He is quite possibly the best criminal appellate lawyer in America (at least on the government’s side),” said Paul Rosenzweig, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a the conservative think tank, “That Mueller has sought his assistance attests both to the seriousness of his effort and the depth of the intellectual bench he is building.”
While Dreeben did donate to Barack Obama during the 2008 election, he hasn’t made any presidential donations since then, and doesn’t appear to be any kind of Hillary Clinton supporter.
Besides, Mueller can’t actually weed out Clinton supports or Democrats from his team even if he wanted to. DOJ regulations and federal law forbid the government to discriminate based on someone’s voting record or political affiliation.
Of course, there is a long list of individuals in the White House who donated money to Democratic candidates in the past 10-15 years, like Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and even President Trump himself. So the argument that the Mueller team is full of Democrats just doesn’t hold water.
“Why doesn’t Trump get any credit for a strong economy?”
By any measure, the US economy appears to be strong. There is currently a 16 year low unemployment number and the economy grew 2.6% in the last quarter. The reason why this administration doesn’t receive the credit that they believe they deserve is that… it’s not at all clear yet that this White House has done anything to help spur the economy, and that any economic windfall has come as a result of the actions of the past eight years of an Obama White House and (mostly) GOP congress.
In much the same way that the legislative leadership of Presidents Reagan and Obama didn’t take effect until roughly two years in, most agree that we won’t see the “Trump effect” until 2018, presuming he can sign any bill into law. The Dow Index is at a record high right now, and some pundits believe that number to be a bellwether of future growth, though increased stock indices typically benefit corporate share holders and institutional investors, not the Main Street moms and pops that supported Trump. Furthermore, the market tends to be a reflection of corporate earnings which Trump and his administration have had little to no impact on thus far.
“Why isn’t Hillary Clinton being investigated for her connection to the Russians?”
You mean the allegation that her campaign worked with Ukraine to find opposition research on then Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort? Well, the easy answer is that Ms. Clinton is now a private citizen NOT THE PRESIDENT of THE UNITED STATES. The even easier answer is that there is no proof that the Clinton campaign was behind that. If she were in the White House, we can almost guarantee that a GOP-controlled congress would be investigating both of these issues. Clinton was by any objective measure a flawed candidate, whose vast amount of beltway experience that her supporters saw as a plus, also created many episodes that her detractors could point to with reasonably raised eyebrows.
To be clear, the claim is not totally off base. Politico reported back in January that a Ukranian-American operative, who was consulting for the DNC, met with top officials to “expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia.” But the report notes that the Ukranian effort was far less successful, and, unlike the reported Russian effort, it did not involve government figures like the country’s military and foreign intelligence services.
While a DNC staffer did pass along some of the information, there is no indication that Clinton campaign staffers met with anyone affiliated with the Ukrainian government directly. That’s why.
“Why didn’t they investigate the 33,000 missing Clinton emails?”
Well, the FBI actually did. And, the emails aren’t actually “missing.” We know what happened to them. During congressional testimony, Comey said that there was no “intentional misconduct”as it related to the destruction of the emails by Hillary Clinton. Sure, it sounds sketchy. However, Comey provided this explanation:
…[W]e found no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them. Our assessment is that, like many e-mail users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted e-mails or e-mails were purged from the system when devices were changed.
As far as the back story, it’s really not as suspicious as it seems. In 2014, the State Department realized that they had a gap in records, and asked Clinton, as well as other secretaries of state, to turn over any work-related emails that they may have. The lawyers doing the sorting for Clinton in 2014 did not read all of the individual emails. Instead, they did keyword searches to find ones that they were work related.
“It is highly likely their search terms missed some work-related e-mails, and that we later found them, for example, in the mailboxes of other officials or in the slack space of a server,” Comey, who may have singlehandedly doomed Clinton’s campaign, said during Congressional testimony.
“[Clinton] then was asked by her lawyers at the end, ‘Do you want us to keep the personal emails?’ And she said, ‘I have no use for them anymore.’ It’s then that they issued the direction that the technical people delete them,” he said.
Bottom line: this was investigated, and there isn’t anything there. Yes, it’s beyond stupid that Clinton had a private email server to begin with. But, the destruction of the emails has been investigated and there is nothing actionable to suggest some grand conspiracy to conceal evidence.
“Since James Comey said he wasn’t investigating Donald Trump several months ago, how could there suddenly be an issue now?”
Simply put, it was probably true months ago, but many new revelations and actions have since come to light. When then FBI Director James Comey reportedly shared with Donald Trump that he was not a subject of the investigation, it was very likely the case. But new information comes to light, and personnel decisions — like the firing of an FBI Director overseeing an investigation and admission that getting rid of the Russian story played a part in that decision — can be possibly be viewed as part of an effort to obstruc justice. It is not enough on its own, but it may become a piece in a new puzzle.
Oh, and there is also the fact that Comey testified to lawmakers that Trump directly told Comey to let the Flynn investigation go. Specifically, Comey contends that Trump said: “‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
As we previously pointed out, none of us were in the room when Trump allegedly expressed his hope about Flynn, so we don’t know the tone or manner in which it was said. But if it indeed was said in a threatening manner, that could be interpreted as at least an attempt to obstruct justice, which is legally basically the same as actual obstruction.
Doesn’t mean there WAS obstruction of justice, but there is more than good reason enough to look into it, especially as other news items have come to light (namely the report that President Trump dictated his son’s letter explaining his meeting with a Russian Lawyer ostensibly in return for opposition research on Hillary Clinton.)
“But! There is ZERO Evidence of any Russian collusion!”
Except that there are actually LOADS of indicators of possible Russian collusion.
#1) The fact that Trump’s son met with a Russian attorney on the premise she was working for the Russian government and had incriminating dirt on Clinton. Specifically, the email confirming the meeting stated that they would be meeting with representing “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Many legal experts have pointed out that it is a violation of election law to solicit something of value from a foreign national.
Making the matter even more suspicious is also the report that President Trump was behind the misleading statement released by Trump Jr. that stated the meeting was merely to address Russian adoptions.
#2) The Wall Street Journal had another bombshell report about possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. They reported a longtime Republican operative was searching for Hillary Clinton’s missing 33,000 emails and was in touch with hackers “including two from Russia they suspected were tied to the Moscow government, in a bid to find any stolen emails and potentially hurt Mrs. Clinton’s prospects.” One of the documents that the GOP activist, Peter Smith, prepared was marked “Trump campaign” and included names like Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Clovis, and Lt. Gen Mike Flynn.
#3) Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort has many documented ties to the Kremlin. Just this week, news emerged that the FBI paid his home a surprise visit with a “no knock” warrant, which, of course, requires prosecutors to present probable cause to a judge that a crime may have occurred. Manafort worked as political consultant and brought in quite a bit of money working for pro-Russia Ukranian politicians. There are many questions about his finances including a handwritten ledger that apparently surfaced in Ukraine of what investigators believe was proof of off-the-books payments from a pro-Russian group.
4) Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn also has a long history of connections with the Kremlin, including from his consulting work after he left government. In 2015, he drew ire after he was spotted seated next to President Vladimir Putin during an RT event. He has also been accused of breaking the law by taking payments from groups including for appearances he made in Russia and lobbying efforts that may have aided the Turkish government. Most famously, he ran into trouble for lying to Vice President Michael Pence about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“At least Trump is more honest than the media”
Anyone who is making this claim really needs to cut down on the Trump-Aid. At the root of much of the support from Trump’s base is the charge of “Fake News!” designed to undermine the believability of the institution of the fourth estate. As we’ve said before, negative news is not the same thing as fake news, and the actual examples of erroneous reports are, for the most part, the vast exception to the rule. The media puts out thousands and thousands of write-ups, articles, essays and news segments each day. Of which, the vast majority have been later proven to be correct and true, even if they may paint Trump in a harsh light.
On the other hand, there is a long list of out right lies that have come from Donald Trump. Most recently his bragging of phone calls with the Mexican president and the Boy Scouts executive, both of whom contradicted the president’s claims. There was the bragging of dealing with Russia and meeting Vladimir Putin, then the claim that he never met Putin and had no business dealings with Russia. Truth is, if the President were held to the same standards of honesty and communications as we hold the media, we’d ALL be in a much better place, but especially the White House.
So I’m sorry dear college pals John Havens and Ed Nelson. You can support Donald Trump, but you can’t make up facts to try to defend him. Still love you!
Colby Hall is the Managing Editor of Mediaite.com and still loves his friends and family who support President Trump. Follow him on Twitter.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.