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How Robert Mueller Outfoxed Donald Trump

Special Counsel Robert Mueller faces a unique challenge in his investigation of Russian influence during the 2016 election. In addition to gathering information and prosecuting criminals, he has had to avoid getting fired by his resentful, mercurial, and unscrupulous commander-in-chief. Fifteen months into the investigation, he appears to have done a masterful job. By manipulating and distracting Donald Trump and his team of lawyers, he has not only preserved his job, he has maintained complete autonomy and seeded a cluster of spinoff investigations that will be nearly impossible for the White House to stifle. And despite Trump’s insistence that he’s “totally allowed” to intervene whenever he chooses, he won’t dare make a move this close to the midterm election, which means Mueller’s investigation will be protected for at least three more months.

How has he done it?

Read the article at Daily Beast

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Michael Wolraich's picture

Tariffs: the Time Bomb That Could Shatter the GOP

“Tariffs are the greatest!” President Trump crowed on Twitter on Tuesday morning. If that represents a break from contemporary Republican orthodoxy, it’s a message other GOP presidents once embraced. Trump has previously quoted William McKinley declaring that tariffs made Americans lives “sweeter and brighter and brighter and brighter.” (For the record, McKinley only said “brighter” once.) And after Congress passed the Tariff Act of 1909, William Taft declared it “the best bill that the Republican party ever passed.”

But the voters disagreed, vehemently. In the next two elections, they obliterated the GOP’s congressional majority, crushed Taft’s reelection hopes, and sent the party into a tailspin. Tariff policy was one of the most divisive issues in American politics, because its costs and benefits were unevenly distributed. Protectionist policies offered windfalls to large corporations while burdening small businesses and farmers with higher prices. That stirred bitter resentments in less industrialized, agricultural regions, fueling North-South discord before the Civil War, and inflaming Midwestern populism in the early 20th century, splitting political parties in the process. If Trump continues his protectionist his course, it could happen again.

Read the full story at the Atlantic

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Michael Wolraich's picture

Trump's Recess Scheme

Until recently, I believed that President Trump's only option for firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller was a Nixonesque Saturday Night Massacre in which he fired everyone down the chain of command until he reached someone obsequious enough to do his bidding. This may be possible in principle, but it's a "nuclear" option likely to turn even Republican allies against him.

There is another way, however. Trump's recent contretemps with Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggest that he's working on an alternative scheme to rid himself of that troublesome special counsel. If he can hound Sessions into resigning, Trump could then appoint an obedient, non-recused attorney general to shut down the investigation without technically "firing" anyone. There's a catch, though. Attorney general appointments require Senate confirmation, and even this timid Republican majority won't let Trump appoint whomever he wants.

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Michael Wolraich's picture

Why I Quit Uber

It wasn't because of Trump. Though I respect my friends who practice pocketbook politics, I only participate in boycotts under extreme circumstances.

It wasn't because of Uber's sordid history, though the company's bad reputation played a part in my decision.

Ultimately, I quit Uber for an old-fashioned reason: bad customer service.

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Michael Wolraich's picture

Someday we'll find it, the Putin connection...

The AP drew another line in Trump's connect-the-dots puzzle today. We already knew that former campaign chair Paul Manafort had worked for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians. Now we know that he secretly worked on behalf of the Putin regime as well.

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Trump-Putin Quid Pro Quo?

Did Donald Trump agree to a quid pro quo with the Russian government? This is what we know.

On March 19, 2016, John Podesta received an email, purportedly from Google, warning him of a potential security breach. He clicked the link and inadvertently delivered his email account to state-backed Russian hackers.

Two days later, on March 21, Donald Trump announced his five-person foreign policy team, which included Carter Page, a previously unknown investment banker with extensive dealings in Russia.

On March 28, nine days after the hack, Trump confirmed to the New York Times that he had hired Paul Manafort. Manafort had recently returned from Ukraine, where he helped organize the Russian-backed Ukrainian opposition. 

On March 31, Trump met with his foreign policy advisors at the new Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., where they discussed the Republican Party's position on arming Ukraine against pro-Russian rebels.  According to advisor J.D. Gordon, Trump opposed this language in the RNC platform because "he didn't want to go to 'World War Three' over Ukraine."

Michael Wolraich's picture

One-State, Two-State, Blue-State, Jew-State

Donald Trump is an easy-going guy. Just yesterday, he shrugged off the United States' longstanding position on the Israel-Palestine dispute and announced that he's totally open to a "one-state" solution. 

"So I'm looking at two-state, and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one," he burbled to the press with his friend "Bibi" Netanyahu beaming by his side. "I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two," he continued, "but honestly if Bibi and if the Palestinians--if Israel and the Palestinians--are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best."

One state, two state, whatever the kids are into these days.

But what is this one-state solution to which Trump so cheerfully consented? He didn't say. Neither did Bibi. But Yishai Fleisher, a radical settler who presents himself as a spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron, is not so circumspect. In a New York Times op-ed, he matter-of-factly rattled off five "credible" plans for appropriating Palestinian land and eviscerating the dream of Palestinian statehood.

Michael Wolraich's picture

Mr. Trump, You're No Teddy Roosevelt

“I think Donald Trump sees himself larger than life,” said former House Speaker John Boehner recently. “He kind of reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt, another guy who saw himself larger than life.”

As a Roosevelt scholar, I beg to differ. Theodore Roosevelt did not see himself as larger than life; he was larger than life. We don’t celebrate him because of his ego; we celebrate him because he was a hero who embodied and championed the virtues that we Americans admire: honesty, courage, compassion, and resolve.

Read the full story at The Daily Beast

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Michael Wolraich's picture

Trump’s Filthy Touch

A few years ago, Donald Trump co-wrote a book called The Midas Touch—named for the legendary King Midas who could turn anything he touched into gold. Mr. Trump also has the power that transform whatever he touches, but precious metal is not his forte. Instead of gold, everything Trump touches turns to shit.

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Michael Wolraich's picture

To Trump or Not to Trump

You can't spin sexual assault. You can spin sex. You can spin assault. You can spin talking about sexual assault (Locker room talk!) But sexual assault can't be spun.

Donald Trump's only option is to deny, to call these women liars, which he will do tomorrow.

And then all the Republicans walking that tightrope between endorsing and denouncing will be forced to choose: Trump or his victims.

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Biography

Michael Wolraich is a non-fiction writer in New York City. He co-founded dagblog and has contributed  to the Atlantic, the Daily Beast, New York Magazine, CNN.com, TalkingPointsMemo.com, Reuters, and Pando Daily.

Books:

Wolraich is also the computer genius who maintains dagblog's state-of-the-art software, but he denies responsibility for technical glitches and advises users to "quit sniveling." In his spare time, Wolraich raises peach mold and performs live impressions of the law of gravity.

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