Trump Takes on New York

President Donald Trump was born and reared in New York City, and has always associated himself with its glitz and glamour during his rise to fame, but he’s never been popular in his home state and no longer has any affection for it. He’s recently declared himself a citizen of income tax-free Florida, and has lately been playing hardball with all the citizens of New York.
The Trump administration had decreed that no one in New York is eligible for the federal government’s “Global Entry” and other “trusted traveler” programs that allow for faster border crossings and shorter airport lines. A few hours before meeting with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo about the matter Trump “tweeted” that it was for national security reasons, then added that “New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harassment, start cleaning itself up, and lower taxes.”
The newfangled sorts of conservatives who are Trump fans in the other 49 states will probably be pleased that at least he fights, and there are probably even a few them in New York who rarely travel and appreciate the president’s effort to drain the state swamp and lower their taxes, but from our perspective on the political sidelines here in the middle of the country it looks just awful. As proud prairie people we take a backseat to no one in our resentment of the pointy-headed know-it-all types Back East, but we can’t imagine that everyone in New York poses a threat to the national security, and as old-fashioned states rights federalist conservatives we don’t like even a Republican president telling any sovereign state of the union how to run its business. That “twitter” line about “unnecessary law suit & harassment” is scarier yet.
New York’s justice system has already shut down the Trump Family Foundation and heavily fined it for such violations as ripping off a children’s cancer charity and contributing to the campaign of a Florida State Attorney General who then declined to join other states in prosecuting the clearly fraudulent Trump University, which has since shut down, and it’s currently pursuing access to Trump’s tax records and conducting investigations into Trump’s still wholly owned businesses. There’s reason to believe that might have more to do with Trump policy than the high state taxes Trump routinely avoids or the quid pro quo way of doing things he has boastfully exploited or everyone in the great state’s threat to the national security. So far we can tell he seems to be either using or abusing his presidential power — depending on your perspective — to obstruct a sovereign state’s lawful pursuit of justice.
At this point there’s not much to be done about it. All but one of the Senate Republicans have already agreed that Trump didn’t abuse his presidential powers by withholding congressionally approved aid from an an ally to extort its help in his reelection campaign, and all of them overlooked Trump’s out-in-the open efforts to obstruct Congress’ pursuit of justice, and most of them won’t mind the president strong-arming the very Democratic state of New York, which is going to vote Democratic in the next presidential election in any case, to get out of a jam. For now Trump can do as he pleases without regard for legal or constitutional or traditional norms, as is his wont.
For now that’s fine by Trump fans, but mostly they’ll return to their old-fashioned states rights federalist conservatism if an inevitable Democratic president tries the same sort of thing with one of those many red states they live in. They’ll be right to be outraged, but they’ll be hypocrites.

— Bud Norman

Another Bad Day at Mar-a-Lago

At this point we almost hate to pile on, and worry that we’re getting repetitive, but we’re obliged to say that Tuesday was another bad day for President Donald Trump. The stock markets were slightly up, the temperatures at the ritzy Mar-a-Lag oresort ¬†where Trump was vacationing were in the mid-70s, and Trump was pocketing a nice sum from from the room and board the federal budget was paying to his still-wholly owned business, but the rest of the news was bleak. In a couple of courtrooms and the halls of Congress Trump suffered stinging defeats, and things aren’t likely to get better when a Democratic majority is installed in the House of Representatives next month.
Trump’s former campaign foreign policy advisor and administration national security advisor had a sentencing hearing in Washington, D.C., for his confessed felonies on Tuesday, and his more hopeful apologists in the media were expecting the judge to dismiss the guilty pleas and blame it all on a “deep state” conspiracy, but that didn’t happen. The judge delayed the sentencing for another 90 days, but not before having retired three-star Army General and former national security advisor reiterate that he had indeed lied to federal investigators about his contacts with Russian officials while serving on Trump’s campaign and transition team. Trump’s more hopeful apologists had predicted that the judge would share their outrage that Flynn hadn’t been warned that lying to federal officials was a crime, but the former three-star Army General and national security had to admit in open court on Tuesday that he was well aware of that fact. At one point the judge asked the prosecution if they considered charges of treason, given that Flynn had been an unregistered agent of the Turkish government and then advised pro-Turkish policies as national security adviser, and although Flynn’s unregistered dealings with the Turkish and Russian governments had ended before he assumed the role of ¬†national security advisor, and the judge quickly backed off from any talk of treason, it didn’t look good for either Flynn or Trump. The prosecution is recommending no jail time for Flynn’s confessed crimes, given how much dirt he’s provided the special counsel investigation into the “Russia thing,” and for now Trump hasn’t “tweeted” anything disparaging about Flynn, but we can’t see how this ends well for either of them.
Meanwhile, in another courtroom in New York City, the Trump Family Foundation was taking a similarly brutal beating. Trump announced he was dissolving his charity and giving away its remaining assets to various court-directed causes, part of a settlement he’d once vowed not to negotiate. The charity is quite credibly accused of using donors’ money to contribute the impugn of a Florida candidate for Attorney General who then withdrew the state’s support of a lawsuit alleging fraud by Trump’s “Trump University” real estate, buying a large portrait of Trump for one of his businesses, several charges of “self-dealing,” and various other matters involving his three favorite children, who are temporarily barred from serving on any other charity boards, and we don’t see that ending well. The Trump apologists can rightly point to all of the credibly alleged yet unpunished shenanigans by the Clinton Family Foundation, but it still looks downright awful for all the Trumps.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, those damned Democrats who are poised to take the House majority are calling Trump’s bluff on his threat to partially shut down the government if they don’t cough up a mere five billion dollars for the big and beautiful southern border wall he promised to his dwindling number of die-hard fans. Partial government shutdowns don’t poll well, and neither does Trump’s big and beautiful border wall, the lame duck Republican majority aren’t much interested in the project, with the remaining Republicans in the border districts also in opposition, so we’ll be interested to see how eventually claims a victory in that fight.
There are several other troublesome investigations regarding Trump afoot, and surely more to come when those damned Democrats take over the House committees, and for now Trump and his legal team and media apologists and other die-hard fans have a lot of explaining to do. They might yet come up with something credible for all of it, but until then they won’t be tired of winning.

— Bud Norman