Thursday, February 02, 2017

Trump's "fascism forever" Supreme Court pick: shades of Rehnquist by The Wayne Madsen Report

Trump's "fascism forever" Supreme Court pick: shades of Rehnquist 

By The Wayne Madsen Report

President Trump further leads the United States into the depths of fascism in his selection of Neil Gorsuch as the replacement for the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. In the early 1980s, while attending the elite Jesuit-run male-only Georgetown Preparatory school in Washington, DC, Gorsuch founded the "Fascism Forever Club." Gorsuch served as president of the club until his graduation in 1985. At the time he was attending the prep school, Gorsuch's mother, Anne Gorsuch, served as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Ronald Reagan.

Gorsuch entry in the 1985 Georgetown Prep School yearbook

Anne Gorsuch was a harbinger for the anti-environmental Scott Pruitt, Trump's pick to head the EPA. As EPA administrator, Gorsuch attempted to quash the Clean Air Act while she smoked two packs of Marlboros a day. She died from cancer in 2004. Although the type of cancer was never disclosed, Gorsuch died at the Aurora Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado, which has top ratings for lung cancer treatment.

The Fascism Forever Club was billed as an anti-faculty group opposed to what it considered were "left-wing" faculty members.

Gorsuch's 1988 Columbia graduation yearbook, in which Gorsuch extols Kissinger's infamous quote about the illegal and the unconstitutional

In his graduation yearbook at Columbia University in 1988, Gorsuch's photograph is shown alongside his favorite quote, one made by Henry Kissinger on August 29, 1967: "The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer." Kissinger made the statement while a professor at Harvard, where Neil Gorsuch would eventually attend law school.

Gorsuch's early flirtation with fascism complements other fascist tendencies by the Trump administration, including its disregard for the Constitution and Bill of Rights. On February 2, Trump attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, which is sponsored by the secretive Fellowship Foundation led for decades by the 88-year old Douglas Coe. The foundation traces its origins to a Seattle Methodist minister named 
Abraham Vereide, who advanced anti-labor fascist politics in the post-World War I years. Vereide's anti-union and pro-business prayer breakfast group, a cover for fascist policy-making, soon went nationwide.

In 1989, Coe, who Hillary Clinton once called her "spiritual mentor," said, "
Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler were three men. Think of the immense power these three men had... But they bound themselves together in an agreement . . . Jesus said, 'You have to put me before other people. And you have to put me before yourself.' Hitler, that was the demand to be in the Nazi party. You have to put the Nazi party and its objectives ahead of your own life and ahead of other people."

On the day "
Punxsutawney Phil," the Pennsylvania groundhog, predicted six more weeks of winter, Trump sat with hundreds of creepy right-wing followers of Coe in the ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel. They include senators, U.S. representatives, ambassadors, corporate executives, and leaders of foreign nations.

Trump's nomination of Gorsuch is reminiscent of President Nixon's nomination of William Rehnquist to the Supreme Court in 1972. Two years earlier, Nixon ordered the White House guards to wear ornamental Prussian military-style hats, something befitting Nixon's "imperial presidency," which ultimately led to his resignation over the Watergate scandal. The Prussian hats did not last very long amid ridicule by the press and late-night TV comedians.

Nixon's nomination of Rehnquist shocked many when it was discovered that as a young lawyer in Arizona, Rehnquist held views similar to those of the far-right John Birch Society: Chief Justice Earl Warren and President Dwight Eisenhower were "pinko" leftists, while Associate Justices William O. Douglas and Hugo Black were outright "commies." In the late 1950s, Rehnquist was opposed to desegregation and lamented the fact that whites and "negroes" might have to "glower at one another" over integrated lunch counters. For all Rehnquist's far right-wing views, Nixon did not like Rehnquist when he first met him in the White House. The future Chief Justice was a bureaucratic flunky in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel at the time. Nixon asked his counsel John Dean about Rehnquist, "Is he Jewish? He looks it." Dean replied that he was of Scandinavian descent.

Rehnquist's far-right background did not prevent him from being confirmed by the Senate as both Associate Justice and, later, as Chief Justice. And, although Gorsuch admired fascism and Kissinger in his earlier years, that did not prevent the Senate from confirming him unanimously on a voice vote as a federal appeals court judge in July 2006. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Trump's "Monday Night Massacre" -- welcome to the constitutional crisis By the Wayne Madsen Report

January 31-February 1, 2017 -- Trump's "Monday Night Massacre" -- welcome to the constitutional crisis By the Wayne Madsen Report
The firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates by President Trump on the evening of January 30 reminded many seasoned Washington politicos of President Nixon's firing of three top Justice Department officials during the Watergate scandal in October 1973. Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. After Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy William Ruckelshaus refused to fire Cox, Nixon fired them both. Only Solicitor General Robert Bork was willing to carry Nixon's hatchet.

Yates, a career Justice Department prosecutor, was fired by Trump after she refused to order U.S. attorneys around the country to defend Trump's ban on valid U.S. visa holders entering the United States. In a letter to Justice Department attorneys, Yates wrote; "[F]or as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order." In a tweet, Trump falsely accused Yates of being an "Obama AG" when, in fact, she is a nonpolitical career Justice Department civil service official filling in during an administration transition vacancy.

Yates was filling the job of acting Attorney General while Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions awaits Senate confirmation. Yates was placed in the job because she, as a Justice Department official confirmed for her job by the Senate, was one of the few in the department authorized to sign Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) wiretap requests to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The firing of Yates came after a sixth federal judge, Dolly Gee of the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California, ordered the Department of Homeland Security to immediately return to the United States an Iranian national who possessed a valid U.S. visa and was deported from Los Angeles to Dubai. The Trump White House continues to insist that Trump's executive order, which bans visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations, overrides judicial orders. That decision by Trump also has placed the country into a constitutional crisis. Trump's point man on the visa ban, lawyer Stephen Miller, believes that the Trump order is not a "ban on Muslims" when, in fact, they are the target of the order as revealed by former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Trump insider. Miller, who is Jewish, is a defender of the hate politics espoused by neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer. Miller and Spencer were colleagues at Duke University where they were both members of the Duke Conservative Union.

There are reports that Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who is also Jewish, is furious over the roles now being played by Miller and political counselor Steve Bannon in crafting extremist policies being signed out by Trump as executive orders. Miller, Bannon, and Trump all insisted that the visa ban order not be cleared with anyone outside or even inside the White House. The Department of Homeland Security and its secretary, John Kelly, was among those not briefed about Trump's order beforehand. In a continuation of the Monday Night Massacre, Trump fired acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Daniel Ragsdale and replaced him with Thomas Homan, a Trump sycophant and a former New York City police official under Giuliani. Even the White House Office of Legal Counsel and the Office of Management and Budget were not briefed on the executive order nor were they even asked if it was legal and within budget and regulatory constraints.

During Yates's Senate confirmation hearing to be deputy Attorney General, Senator Sessions, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pressed her on saying "no" to the president if he asked her to carry out an unlawful or improper order. Of course, Sessions was then referring to President Obama, but Yates made it clear that the Attorney General had an obligation to uphold the law no matter what the president ordered.

Trump's Monday Night Massacre may have also resulted in three Justice Department U.S. Attorneys being passed over

Trump decided on Dana Boente, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, to succeed Yates. Boente said he would carry out Trump's visa and immigration ban order. However, Trump passed over three other U.S. Attorneys designated to succeed Yates in the event of a vacancy. In a transition order signed by President Obama, succession was to have been passed from Yates to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Channing Phillips, then U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois Zachary Fardon, and lastly, Eileen Decker, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. It is not known whether the three attorneys were asked to replace Yates and carry out Trump's order and they turned the White House down or whether they were merely passed over in order to select Boente.

DOJ succession order does not include US Attorney Boente, chosen by Trump to succeed Yates as acting AG

January 31 is a significant date in light of Trump's increasingly-unconstitutional power grabs. January 31, 1933 was the day that the German Reichstag made Adolf Hitler the German chancellor.

Monday, January 30, 2017

A week in office, Trump brings on constitutional crisis By Wayne Madsen Report

January 30-31, 2017 -- A week in office, Trump brings on constitutional crisis
By Wayne Madsen Report
The much-anticipated constitutional crisis many feared would come about under President Trump's bombastic style of leadership took only one week into his administration to be realized. Trump's Executive Order banning visitors, including U.S. permanent resident "green card" holders and those with valid U.S. visas, was one of the most poorly planned and implemented White House regulation in recent memory.

At airports across the world and at immigration checkpoints at airports across the United States, permanent U.S. residents were held in detention and some were put on planes back to their points of travel origination. When five federal judges issued temporary stays on the implementation of Trump's executive order, the White House balked. For some reason, the Trump administration believes the judiciary is subservient to the executive branch. It took one federal judge, John Sirica, the chief judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and a Republican nominated by Dwight Eisenhower, to show President Richard Nixon that his "imperial presidency" stopped with the federal judiciary. Sirica, who was a close personal friend of boxing stat Jack Dempsey, went several rounds in court with the Nixon administration over the Watergate scandal. In the end, Sirica delivered a knock out punch to several of Nixon's closest advisers and, eventually, Nixon resigned in disgrace.

The difference between Nixon and Trump is that Nixon, a lawyer and a former member of the U.S. House and Senate, understood the brinkmanship in which he was engaging with the courts and the independent special prosecutor. Trump, a pampered real estate mogul who was handed his wealth from his Nazi- and Ku Klux Klan-supporting father, Fred Trump, has not the first idea of what kind of constitutional fire he is playing with by ignoring the orders of five federal judges.

Certain pro-Trump media outlets -- the "usual suspects" -- are claiming the five judges are all Democrats. That is one of Trump's "alternate facts." The first judge to issue a stay on Trump's visa ban executive order was Ann Donnelly, a former New York state prosecutor , who was nominated by Barack Obama to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn. A native of Michigan and a graduate of Ohio State's Moritz College of Law, nothing suggests that Donnelly is a rank-and-file Democrat. In fact, the Republican Senate voted in 2015 to confirm Donnelly in a 95-2 vote.

When a number of New York City area politicians showed up at JFK International Airport with a copy of Judge Donnelly's order and demanded the release of detainees, clueless Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents feigned ignorance because their ultimate boss, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, had not been briefed beforehand about Trump's cockamamie and ill-prepared executive order.

The next judge to issue a temporary restraining order was Leonie Brinkema, a no-nonsense judge sitting on the bench of the national security "Rocket docket" of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria. So named the "rocket docket" court because it often sides with the government in national security-related cases, it would normally be the last court where a national security matter would be ruled against. However, Brinkema, who sentenced the "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui to life imprisonment in the Colorado "Supermax" prison, ruled that Trump's executive order was stayed and that removal of green card holders from Dulles International Airport was suspended for seven days.

Brinkema also ordered lawyers be given access to those being detained at Dulles, an order that was immediately ignored when lawyers and three U.S. House members, Virginia Representatives Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly, and Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin, as well as New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, were denied access to the detained passengers at the airport by members of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) police, who are answerable not to the DHS or CPB but to the independent MWAA commission, members of which are appointed by the governors of Maryland and Virginia and the mayor of DC, with only three appointed by the president. The fact that glorified airport rent-a-cops disregarded a federal court order and those of three members of the House and one U.S. senator is a definite troubling bellwether of things to come.

The third judge to issue a stay on the White House order was Thomas Zilly of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle. Zilly, who ordered all deportations stopped by Trump, was nominated by President Ronald Reagan. So much for the brain dead meme by Trump supporters that the order was nullified by "Democrat judges," a major "alternate fact" in Zilly's case.

The fourth and fifth judges who temporarily stayed Trump's deportation order were U.S. magistrate judge Judith Dein and District Court judge Allison Burroughs, both of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston. Dein was nominated by Bill Clinton and Burroughs by Obama. Both were confirmed by Republican-controlled Senates, Dein in 2000 and Burroughs in 2014.

There are comments on a number of dubious pro-Trump websites that are calling for "action" against the five judges. This is where certain Internet keyboard jocks should be very careful. Violence against federal judges by purveyors of the same neo-Nazi hatred advanced by Fred Trump in the 1920s and '30s and by Trump counsel Steve Bannon today is not unknown in the United States. In 1989, U.S. Eleventh Circuit of Appeals judge Robert Vance was assassinated by a mail bomb delivered to his Alabama home. Moody was also convicted for the assassination of civil rights lawyer Robbie Robinson in a mail bomb explosion at his home in Savannah, Georgia. The convicted assassin, Walter Leroy Moody, Jr., was a habitué of Klan meetings throughout the South. In 1979, Judge John Wood, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, was assassinated by Charles Harrison, a reputed member of the right-wing kill squad that assassinated President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. In 1988, Judge Richard Daronco of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York in Manhattan was assassinated by retired New York police officer Charles Koster, who then killed himself. The FBI revealed there were several "loose ends" in the case. In 2005, the husband and mother of U.S. Judge Joan Lefkow of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago were murdered at the judge's Chicago home. Neo-Nazi Matthew Hale had previously been convicted of soliciting a contract hit man to assassinate Judge Lefkow.

New York Times article refers to the Memorial Day 1927 arrest of President Trump's father, Fred Trump, at an anti-Catholic KKK march in Queens. The apple did not fall far from the tree.

The second Trump executive order that has turned the White House upside down is his dictate to demote the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence from members of the "Principals Committee" of the National Security Council. The Principals Committee, which normally include both the JCS chair and DNI, normally meet once a week. In fact, JCS chairman, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, and DNI-designate Dan Coats, have been relegated to the rank of NSC "deputies." The NSC "Deputies Committee" meets more often than the principals but they carry much less clout. Former CIA director and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told NBC News: "My biggest concern is there are actually, under the law, only two statutory advisers to the National Security Council and that's the Director of Central Intelligence, or the DNI, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I think pushing them out of the National Security Council meetings, except when their specific issues are at stake, is a big mistake." In other words, Trump's order removed the two NSC members whose membership is based on the law. It is strike two for Trump, as far as his ignorance of the law is concerned.

There are reports that two of Trump's closest advisers -- chief of staff Reince Priebus and press secretary Sean Spicer -- have come close to resigning from a White House they believe is operating by the seat of its pants.

In what might be considered strike three, Trump elevated his political counselor Bannon to the Principles Committee of the NSC. George W. Bush's counselor Karl Rove and Obama's counselor David Axelrod sat in on a few NSC meetings but they were not members nor were they permitted to speak.

The NSC decision by Trump did not sit well with General Dunford's old Marine Corps colleague, retired General James "Mad Dog" Mattis. There are rumblings in the Pentagon that Mattis is not at all pleased that his four-star Marine colleague has essentially been replaced on the NSC by Bannon, whose highest rank in the Navy was Lieutenant. At the Washington elite Alfalfa Club dinner on the evening of January 29, Mattis's unhappiness over the treatment of Dunford was the talk of the gossip circuit as was General John Kelly's irate reaction to the implementation of a visa ban order at Homeland Security over which he had zero input. White House sources at the dinner told The Atlantic's Steve Clemons that the visa ban was ordered not to be discussed with anyone outside the White House or, as was the case with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), even within the White House.

Spicer and Priebus, both of whom attended the Alfalfa Club dinner with Trump taking a pass, may have been using the absence of their vitriolic boss to vent their spleens to other attendees over drinks and dinner. Spicer, who, as a former press secretary for the U.S. Trade Representative under George W. Bush, should know what the satirical Onion is, retweeted one of their spoofs concernbing himself:

"The Onion" spoof proclaiming the Trump administration will "provide the American public with robust and clearly articulated misinformation" may not have been a mistaken re-tweet by the embattled press secretary who once worked for Priebus at the Republican National Committee.

The last president who shut the JCS out from the White House's decision-making process was Nixon. That did not work out too well for him in the long run.

There were early concerns about Trump placing so many generals in the Cabinet. So far, the generals -- Mattis and Kelly, with the addition of Dunford at JCS -- may be the only people standing between a would-be dictator and the U.S. Constitution. The clock had longer to tick out on Nixon. Trump's fast-moving clock toward impeachment is now at September 1973 in Nixonian terms.