Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Accountable Leaders


All the experts agreed about one other fact: Even if Trump does pardon himself, that would not shield him from impeachment hearings. And most believe if he did make a move like this, it would be both an admission of guilt and a potential constitutional crisis.

— Vox writer Sean Illing: Donald Trump is considering pardoning himself. I asked fifteen experts if that’s legal.


If it’s what you say I love it, especially later in the summer.

— Donald Trump, Jr., responding to Rob Goldstone, an ex-British tabloid writer, who had written him a message informing him that a representative of the Russian Federation had “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father”.

(The New York Times: Donald Trump Jr. makes the Russian connection)

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To comprehend Trump, read this

Bloomberg’s Alfred Hunt: “It’s happening more and more: The phone rings and there’s an old acquaintance on the line, often a mainstream Republican, asking, ‘What’s wrong with Donald Trump?’ Instead of ranting in response, as I’d been doing for months, I’m now offering up a reading list. Here it is.”


Shades of Richard Nixon: Trump spokesperson says Trump is not a liar

Many years ago, disgraced Republican President Richard Nixon famously said, “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”

Today, after former FBI Director James Comey testified that Donald Trump was a liar, Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders piped up in Trump’s defense, telling reporters, “I can definitively say the president is not a liar.”

Translation: Donald Trump is a liar.

When Richard Nixon said he wasn’t a crook, it caused people to think of him as a crook. And now Trump’s spokesperson is saying her boss is not a liar. It certainly brings to mind that memorable moment from the Watergate saga.

By trying to negate Comey’s frame, Sanders actually reinforced it. Sanders’ statement is only going to bolster the (accurate) view that Trump is a liar.


Trump made his wishes clear and fired Comey when his wishes weren’t respected… It doesn’t matter whether it was an order or not. What matters is the action that Trump took when it became clear that Comey was continuing the investigation.

— Cornell Law Professor Jens David Ohlin, speaking to the Washington Post (James Comey lays out the case that President Trump obstructed justice)


I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nutjob… I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off… I’m not under investigation.

— Donald Trump told visiting Russians that firing ‘nut job’ Comey eased pressure from investigation (The New York Times).


What we ended up with, from Bill Clinton onward, is a status quo party and an “undo the system” party, where the Democrats became the status quo party and the Republicans became the “undo the system” party. In that constellation it’s very hard to think of change because one party is in favor of things being the way they are, just slightly better, and the other party has this big idea of undoing everything, although it’s unclear what that really means in practice. So no one is actually articulating how you address the problems of the day, the greatest of which would be inequality. When neither party is creative, then it’s hard for scholars to get their ideas into meaningful circulation.

Historian Timothy Snyder on Trump and what happened to the Democratic and Republican parties. Snyder says “it’s pretty much inevitable” that Trump will try to stage a coup and overthrow democracy.

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Well, well, well: Mike Pence used private email for state business — and was hacked

Breaking news from the Indianapolis Star: “Mike Pence routinely used a private email account to conduct public business as governor of Indiana, at times discussing sensitive matters and homeland security issues.”

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Now it’s the FBI’s turn to be investigated: Justice Department inspector general will probe Bureau’s handling of Clinton email case

Via The Washington Post: “The Justice Department inspector general will review broad allegations of misconduct involving FBI Director James B. Comey and how he handled the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email practices, the inspector general announced Thursday.”

Video Clip

Without mentioning him, Meryl Streep eviscerated Donald Trump’s bigotry and his despicable campaign for the presidency. “Violence incites violence,” she noted.


Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all. You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year, so I have to read.

Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said: You and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.

But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway?

It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island; Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids in Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates?

And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London — no, in Ireland I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a girl in small-town Virginia.

Ryan Gosling, like all of the nicest people, is Canadian, and Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, and is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

They gave me three seconds to say this, so: An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work.

But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose. O.K., go on with it.

O.K., this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

One more thing: Once, when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something — you know we were gonna work through supper or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” Yeah, it is, and we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.

As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art.

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House Republicans gut their own oversight

“In one of their first moves of the new Congress, House Republicans have voted to gut their own independent ethics watchdog — a huge blow to cheerleaders of congressional oversight and one that dismantles major reforms adopted after the Jack Abramoff scandal,” Politico reports.


[T]he sickness of American politics didn’t begin with Donald Trump, any more than the sickness of the Roman Republic began with Caesar. The erosion of democratic foundations has been underway for decades, and there’s no guarantee that we will ever be able to recover.

How republics end (Paul Krugman, The New York Times)

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Massive, blatant, un-American power grab under way in North Carolina by Republicans

Republican legislators are rushing through legislation to strip away incoming Democratic governor Roy Cooper’s appointment power in midnight votes that the public is not being allowed to observe.


You may not like what Democrats stand for, but they aren’t engaging in widespread official vote suppression, chanting that should their candidate win her opponent should be tossed in jail, promising to prevent any Republican president from filling vacancies on the Supreme Court, suggesting that they’ll try to impeach their opponent as soon as he takes office, cheering when a hostile foreign power hacks into American electronic systems, and trying to use the FBI to win the election.

— Greg Sargent: Republicans are now vowing Total War. And the consequences could be immense (via The Washington Post).

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Warren Buffett just released his own tax data to hammer Trump

Billionaire and Hillary Clinton supporter Warren Buffet today released data from his own federal income tax returns to put pressure on Trump to release his. “I have been audited by the IRS multiple times and am currently being audited. I have no problem in releasing my tax information while under audit. Neither would Mr. Trump — at least he would have no legal problem,” Buffet said, in a dig at Trump. Trump’s campaign declined to respond to Buffet’s statement for obvious reasons.

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October unsurprise: Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005

“Donald Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone, saying that ‘when you’re a star, they let you do it,’ according to a video obtained by The Washington Post.” David A. Fahrenthold reports.

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Trump’s organization did business with Iranian bank later linked to terrorism

“Donald Trump’s real estate organization rented New York office space from 1998 to 2003 to an Iranian bank that U.S. authorities have linked to terrorist groups and Iran’s nuclear program,” the Center for Public Integrity reports.

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It figures: Trump tax records obtained by NYT reveal he could have avoided paying taxes for nearly two decades

“Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.”

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Unwinding a lie: Donald Trump and ‘birtherism’

The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro: “The essential question — why promote a lie? — may be unanswerable. Was it sport? Was it his lifelong quest to court media attention? Was it racism? Was it the cynical start of his eventual campaign for president?”


Hillary Clinton’s twenty questions that Donald Trump needs to answer — now

Earlier today, Hillary Clinton’s campaign tweetstormed a host of questions that Donald Trump should be compelled to answer after Newsweek published a piece by Kurt Eichenwald concluding that any international policy decision Trump might make would raise serious conflicts of interest (How the Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security).

Clinton’s tweetstorm:

  1. Will you sever ties with your company linked to foreign leaders, questionable organizations, and criminals if you become president? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  2. How will you handle non-cancelable contractual obligations with parties whose interests conflict with those of the United States? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  3. While refusing to release your tax returns, how will you confirm that you do not have dangerous financial ties to bad actors abroad? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  4. If you were willing to work with Qaddafi—a known terrorist and dictator—is there anyone you aren’t willing to make a deal with? Who? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  5. How can you be tough on Iran, given your business partnership with someone connected to Iranian money laundering? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  6. Given that you’ve already questioned our commitments to NATO allies, what is your answer to this? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  7. To what extent would your foreign policy be dictated by potential financial benefits for your business partners? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  8. Will you disclose the nature of your personal and business relationships with all of the Russian oligarchs you are “close” to? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  9. Have you or your campaign discussed U.S.-Russian relations with the Russian billionaires with whom you’ve done business? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  10. How did the Russian mob boss who ran a criminal organization out of Trump Tower get a VIP pass to your Miss Universe pageant in Moscow? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  11. With business ties to politically-connected Indian developers, how can you conduct foreign policy that puts the U.S. above your profits? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  12. How can we be sure you’d be willing to be tough on any nation if necessary, if it would put your interests and profits at risk? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  13. How can we know you won’t (again) impulsively damage relationships with crucial allies to preserve your own ego? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  14. We know you engaged extensively in pay-to-play here at home. Have you bribed foreign officials or other parties abroad? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  15. To what extent are you and your family currently contractually tied to payments from foreign business partners, or governments? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  16. You’ve mentioned ~120 foreign deals, including in countries with national security implications. Where and with whom are you working? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  17. Will your children disclose all of the foreign trips and business deals they’ve undertaken during the campaign, and with whom they met? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  18. We’ll let @kurteichenwald ask this one: — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  19. In sum, how will Trump guarantee that if forced to choose between America’s security and his own bank account, he won’t pick the latter? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  20. It’s pretty clear: Trump’s spent his life unscrupulously looking out for his own wallet above all. Why would that change as president? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
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Trump’s history of corruption is mind-boggling. So why is Clinton supposedly the corrupt one?

“[T]he truth is that you’d have to work incredibly hard to find a politician who has the kind of history of corruption, double-dealing, and fraud that Donald Trump has,” writes Paul Waldman. “The number of stories which could potentially deserve hundreds and hundreds of articles is absolutely staggering.”