Tag Archives: Steve Bannon

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee to boycott Trump’s inauguration. She explains why

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee will not attend the inauguration of Donald J. Trump on Jan. 20. She explains why:

Inaugurations are celebratory events, a time to welcome the peaceful transition of power and honor the new administration. On Jan. 20, I will not be celebrating or honoring an incoming president who rode racism, sexism, xenophobia and bigotry to the White House.

Donald Trump ran one of the most divisive and prejudiced campaigns in modern history.

He began his campaign by insulting Mexican immigrants, pledging to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and then spent a year and a half denigrating communities of color and normalizing bigotry.

He called women “pigs,” stoked Islamophobia and attacked a Gold Star family.

He mocked a disabled reporter and appealed to people’s worst instincts.

I cannot in good conscience attend an inauguration that would celebrate this divisive approach to governance.

After the election, many hoped the president-elect would turn toward unifying our country. Instead he has shown us that he will utilize the same tools of division he employed on the campaign trail as our nation’s commander-in-chief.

We need look no further than the team he is assembling to find signals that the era of Trump will be one of chaos and devastation for our communities.

The president-elect has named Steve Bannon,  a white nationalist as his chief strategist. He has nominated U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions to the office of Attorney General, despite his long career of opposition to civil and human rights.

And in perhaps the most damning sign of the chaos to come, the president-elect has expedited the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act and make America sick again.

To make matters worse, after the intelligence community reported Russian interference in our election, Donald Trump frequently and forcefully defended Vladimir Putin.

He insulted senior intelligence officials in order to preserve his reputation and disguise the truth.

The American people will never forget that when a foreign government violated our democracy, Donald Trump chose the interests of another nation over our own.

Donald Trump has proven that his administration will normalize the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party.

On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance.

Gators don’t drain swamps

America’s president-elect famously promised to “drain the swamp.” Surrounding himself with alligators is a curious way of going about making good on that promise. Alligators like swamps.
Donald Trump hasn’t made all of his appointments yet, but the cast of characters he’s pulled together so far has more wealth between them than the poorest one-third of American households. That’s 17 men and women who have more money than 43 million families combined.
There’s oil tycoon Rex Tillerson. Trump wants Exxon Mobil’s chief executive in charge of international diplomacy as Secretary of State.
The “king of bankruptcy” Wilbur Ross is being put in line to become Commerce secretary. If Trump gets his way, Ross’s deputy at Commerce will be Todd Ricketts, the billionaire son of the billionaire founder of the brokerage firm Ameritrade.
Linda McMahon, the billionaire co-founder of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is being tabbed to head the Small Business Administration. McMahon is Trump’s biggest single political donor, having given $7.5 million to a pro-Trump super PAC, which was more than a third of the money collected by the political action committee.
Betsy DeVos, the daughter-in-law of the founder of the home care and beauty product distributor Amway Corporation (since renamed “Quixtar”), is Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education. DeVos’s brother, Erik Prince, started the shadowy soldier-for-hire company known as Blackwater. Her qualifications to oversee the nation’s schools pretty much begin and end with her family’s lavish spending to push taxpayer-funded subsidies for private and religious schools. Anyone paying careful attention to elections in Wisconsin should be familiar with DeVos’s political handiwork. Her front group known as the American Federation for Children has poured more than $5 million into Wisconsin just since 2010 to sway state legislative races and cement legislative majorities favoring privatization of education.
Then there’s Goldman Sachs.
Trump told South Carolina voters “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs” when he was trying to talk them out of supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. “They have total, total control over him. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.”
That was then. This is now. Trump picked Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn to head up his White House National Economic Council. His choice for Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, spent 17 years working at Goldman Sachs. Trump’s chief strategist and White House counselor, Steve Bannon, started his career at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker.
Quite a crew being put to work draining the swamp. Alligators all of them.

Blue Jean Nation founder and president Mike McCabe is the author of Blue Jeans in High Places: The Coming Makeover of American Politics. He served as executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign for 15 years. For more, go to bluejeannation.com

Ivanka Trump to give makeover to the role of first daughter

Ivanka Trump was a key player in her father’s winning campaign, and people are closely watching the next moves by President-elect Donald Trump’s 35-year-old daughter.

She’s attended her father’s transition meetings with high-profile figures, including the Japanese prime minister and technology leaders, and has indicated her interest in working on policy issues such as child care.

The Trump Organization executive vice president also owns her own company that sells clothes and jewelry. While three of Donald Trump’s adult children are viewed as close advisers, he often highlights Ivanka and has made clear that he’d love to have her with him when he moves into the White House.

It’s not clear whether that would be in a formal position. But Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway suggested this past week that there may be an exception to anti-nepotism laws for Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who runs a real estate and construction business.

Previous first daughters have played a social role in the White House.

During Harry Truman’s presidency, when his wife, Bess, was home in Missouri, their daughter Margaret would play hostess. But it would be “unprecedented” for Ivanka Trump to serve as a close adviser, said Katherine Jellison, who heads the history department at Ohio University.

“If there was ever a first daughter who played such a close advisory role to her dad, she really kept it under cover,” Jellison said.

What we know so far about Ivanka Trump:

With the Trump family, everything comes back to the vast family business empire.

Ivanka Trump, one of Donald Trump’s three children with his first wife, Ivana, is an executive vice president of the business along with brothers Donald Jr., 38, and Eric, 32. Just how the president-elect will handle his business interests remains unclear. Trump has said he will turn management over to his sons and executives.

Ivanka Trump has her own business to consider as well. She recently drew criticism after her company promoted a $10,800 bracelet she wore during a 60 Minutes interview on CBS. The spokeswoman for the company later apologized.

Since then, Ivanka Trump has sought to put some distance between her and her fashion business. A letter posted on her website said that she would separate her social media accounts from her company’s.

But questions continue to come up. Earlier this month, a “Coffee with Ivanka Trump” was listed on a charity fundraising website. Offered by the Eric Trump Foundation, it was to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The auction — reported on by The New York Times — drew high bids, but also raised ethics questions.

The auction appeared to have been removed from the website Friday. Asked about the change, the Trump team provided a statement from Eric Trump: “The only people who lost are the children of St. Jude,” he said.

Trump’s team says no official decision has been made about Ivanka Trump’s role, and she was not made available for an interview for this story.

But the president-elect has made his wishes known.

“I think we’ll have to see how the laws read. I would love to be able to have them involved,” Trump said on Fox News of Ivanka Trump and her husband Kushner, who are Jewish. Key players in the Trump administration are virulently racist and anti-Semitic, including Steve Bannon, whom Trump named senior adviser and White House strategist. That appointment prompted tweets and messages of glee from neo-Nazi leaders and their websites. It remains to be seen how the Kushners adherence to Orthodox Judaism will play out with the Ku Klux Klan wing of Trump’s administration.

Congress passed an anti-nepotism law in 1967 that prohibits the president from appointing a family member to work in an office or agency the president oversees. But Conway said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the law has “an exception if you want to work in the West Wing, because the president is able to appoint his own staff.”

Still, Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, said: “I don’t believe that this statue exempts the White House.” He said Conway’s interpretation would be reasonable policy because it would bring family members under conflict of interest rules, but added, “I’m just not convinced that’s what the statute says.”

While much about Ivanka Trump’s future role is murky, her policy interests are quite clear.

Throughout the campaign she highlighted her interest in issues like child care, pay equity and maternity leave. Her father mentioned those issues rarely.

Ivanka Trump met with a group of Republican congresswomen on these issues in September. Since the election, she has reached out to members of Congress to continue the conversation, according to Sarah Chamberlain, the president and CEO of Republican Main Street Partnership, who said she has not heard from the future first daughter.

Republican consultant Katie Packer, who opposed Donald Trump, said she was welcoming “the spotlight that Ivanka Trump is going to put on these issues.” But Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director MomsRising, an advocacy group for women and families, said she was concerned that the president-elect’s conservative Cabinet picks don’t share those interests.

“Ivanka Trump is right that child care and paid family leave are national emergencies, but she was not elected to be president of the United States of America and her dad, who was, has taken the opposite approach,” Rowe-Finkbeiner said.

Throughout the campaign, Ivanka Trump played a more prominent role than Trump’s third wife, Melania, who has focused her attention on 10-year-old son Barron.

Donald Trump said last month that Melania and Barron Trump would not move from New York to the White House until the end of the school year. She could still come in for major events, but there is historical precedent for a daughter or sister to step in and shoulder some of the social responsibilities. President James Buchanan, who was unmarried and universally thought to be gay, had his niece Rebecca Lane Johnston act as First Lady or “Hostess” for her uncle, a lifelong bachelor and the 15th President from 1857 to 1861.

Since the election, Melania Trump has kept a low profile while Ivanka Trump has been a regular fixture at Trump Tower in New York. This past week she appeared in a photo with Kanye West.

Louis Weisberg contributed to this story.

Trump appointments signal national security hard line

If there was any doubt about whether Donald Trump meant business with his hard-line campaign pronouncements on immigration, race, terrorism and more, the president-elect went a long way to dispel them Friday with his first appointments to his national security team and at the Justice Department.

It wasn’t just talk.

Trump’s trifecta in selecting Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo to lead the CIA sent a strong message that Americans are going to get what they voted for in electing a Republican whose campaign talk about national security matters largely toggled between tough and tougher.

There has been ongoing mystery about what to expect in a Trump presidency: Even some of Trump’s own supporters wrote off some of his more provocative campaign comments. Trump’s own policy statements have zigged and zagged depending on the audience. And his first two appointments to the White House staff — GOP Chairman Reince Priebus as chief of staff and onetime Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon as a senior adviser — sent a mixed message with the choice of an establishment figure and a flame-throwing outsider.

But Friday’s picks offered a concrete indication that Trump’s presidency may in fact be headed sharply to the right on issues of national security.

“If you believe in personnel as policy, it’s pretty clear where the arrows are pointing,” says Calvin Mackenzie, a presidential scholar at Colby College in Maine.

Princeton historian Julian Zelizer says the three choices all represent conservative figures with track records in government, not “wildly out-of-the-box people who don’t even come from the world of politics.”

“That’s a message not just about him following through on his campaign promises, but it’s about partisanship,” says Zelizer. “He’s giving a signal to the Republicans to stick with him because he’ll deliver.”

Trump still has plenty of big appointments yet to make, including secretary of state, that could telegraph other directions. And Congress, too, will have a say in setting national security policy.

Trump’s three latest all have sharply differed with Obama administration policy:

  • Sessions, the Alabama senator and former federal prosecutor, is known for his tough stance on immigration enforcement. He’s questioned whether terrorism suspects should get the protection of the U.S. court system, opposes closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and has highlighted concerns about voting fraud, which the Obama administration sees as a non-issue. He has said Obama’s counterterrorism policies have “emboldened our enemies” and those concerned about warrantless wiretaps have “exaggerated the extent to which this is somehow violative of our Constitution.” His appointment to a federal judgeship in 1986 fell through after he was accused of making racially charged statements while U.S. attorney in Alabama.
  • Pompeo, the three-term congressman from Kansas, is an outspoken opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, has said NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a traitor who deserves the death sentence and has said Muslim leaders are “potentially complicit” in terrorist attacks if they do not denounce violence carried out in the name of Islam.
  • Flynn stepped down as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in April 2014 and said he’d been forced out because he disagreed with Obama’s approach to combatting extremism. Critics said he’d mismanaged the agency. Flynn has pressed for a more aggressive U.S. campaign against the Islamic State group, and favors working more closely with Russia.

The three appointments sync up with messages that Trump voters sent in the exit polls on Election Night.

Trump’s backers put a higher priority on addressing terrorism and immigration than did Clinton’s supporters. Three-fourths of them said the U.S. was doing very badly or somewhat badly at dealing with IS. Just 2 in 10 thought blacks are treated unfairly in the U.S. criminal justice system. Three-fourths backed building a wall on the southern border to control illegal immigration.

Trump’s positions, meanwhile, have gone through different iterations, continue to evolve and still have big gaps.

On immigration, his views have arrived at a policy that sounds much like Washington as usual. The approach he sketched out in a post-election interview on 60 Minutes would embrace the Obama administration’s push to deport the most serious criminals who are in the U.S. illegally as well as the call by many Republican lawmakers to secure the border before considering any legal status for those who’ve committed immigration violations but otherwise lived lawfully. He even pulled back a bit on his vaunted southern wall, suggesting a fence may be enough for part of it.

Trump the campaigner also moved away from his inflammatory vow to freeze the entry of foreign Muslims into the U.S., settling late in the race on “extreme” vetting of immigrants from countries and regions plagued by violent radicalism.

He’s vowed to crush the Islamic State group, but he won’t say how.

Trump has also said he believes in enhanced interrogation techniques, which can include waterboarding and other types of torture that are against the law and that many experts argue are ineffective.

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on Friday dismissed Trump’s comments about waterboarding as the talk of a “first-time neophyte running for office.”

“Water-boarding coming back, I find that hard to believe,” he said.

Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Calvin Woodward contributed to this report.