The new buzz-phrase seems to be “he/she should be in jail”. We heard da trumpeter say it enough times about Hillary Clinton, though there was never any basis in his reasoning. And yesterday, one of Trump’s puppets decided to publicly announce that New York Times editor, Dean Baquet, “should be in jail”. The puppet is none other than Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. I said all along that he was still, even though he was “fired” from his position on the Trump team, on Trump’s payroll, and he obviously is. Double-dipping, he is also the Trump mouthpiece on CNN.
So why is Lewandowski spouting garbage about Mr. Baquet? Because of Baquet’s decision to publish a portion of Trump’s 1995 tax return earlier this year. Well, Corey, if your boss had done what every respectable candidate for the office of president has done in recent history, he would have released his own tax returns for the past ten years or so, and that would have been that. Unless, of course, there are some skeletons in his tax closet. But no, Donald Trump refused, time and time again, to release so much as a single year, using an ongoing IRS audit as an excuse, even though the IRS said there was no reason for him not to release his returns for public scrutiny.
Donald Trump himself has threatened to sue the New York Times, but it is unlikely that he would be successful. In another case in the 1990s, Bartnicki v. Vopper, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that any effort to punish “publication of truthful information of public concern implicates the core purposes of the First Amendment. A stranger’s illegal conduct does not suffice to remove the First Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern.”
Legal scholars agree that there is no case in this matter:
“There is no conceivable basis for an action against The New York Times for publishing the income tax returns of a candidate for president,” said Burt Neuborne, a law professor at New York University. “That’s why we have a First Amendment.”
Gabriel Schoenfeld, a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute, said, “I strongly hope that Donald Trump sues The New York Times for publishing his tax returns, just as I strongly hope that in the two debates to come, Donald Trump once again attacks Rosie O’Donnell and utters more gibberish. Any such lawsuit — which in all likelihood would be shot down by the courts on First Amendment grounds — is likely to help further unravel the candidacy of a man who is, among other disqualifying flaws, an enemy of a free press.” And Mr. Schoenfeld is not a fan of the New York Times!
“This is open-and-shut,” said Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago.
After the Times published the documents, Trump later acknowledged that he went years without paying federal income tax. “That makes me smart,” he said.
So what got into Mr. Lewandowski yesterday? Well, there was a forum held at Harvard University, that gathered campaign officials from both parties for a postmortem of the presidential race. By all accounts, it turned into a brawl. This is an event that takes place a few weeks after every presidential election, and typically the participants, while perhaps not chummy, are at least cordial and respectful. But in the wake of the 2016 trainwreck of an election, things became quite heated and the animosity of the campaign carried over into the postmortem.
Emotions were still raw at the campaign post-mortem, held at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, particularly over the influence of Stephen K. Bannon, who left Breitbart News — which he has called a “platform” for the white nationalist alt-right — to help run Mr. Trump’s campaign.
Mr. Bannon will serve as a senior aide to Mr. Trump. David Bossie, Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign manager, called Mr. Bannon a “brilliant strategist.”
That provoked the Clinton campaign’s director of communications, Jennifer Palmieri, to respond, “If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am more proud to have lost. I would rather lose than win the way you guys did,” Ms. Palmieri said.
Kellyanne Conway, who was Mr. Trump’s third and final campaign manager, asked, “How exactly did we win?”
She answered her own question: by connecting with voters in places “where we were either ignored or mocked roundly by most of the people in this room.”
“Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?” Ms. Conway asked Ms. Palmieri. “You’re going to look me in the face and tell me that?”
And it goes on and on in that vein. For two days. There are some good interview clips and information about the conference at the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP) in case you’re interested. And Time also had an informative piece about the conference.
The purpose of this quadrennial 2-day conference eludes me, but as it is a long-standing tradition, I am certain there must be some purpose. According to Time, the purpose is to draft a ‘first history’ of the campaign, but this year that rather fell apart amid the toxicity remaining from the campaign. Who, after all, could sit across the table from Kellyanne Conway and not want to smack the arrogant smirk off her painted face? Sorry … lost myself there for a minute. At any rate, back to the beginning of this post, I would not be surprised to see Trump attempt a lawsuit against the Times, but one would hope that, rather than turn the Oval Office into the 3-ring circus his campaign was, he would be advised to let it pass. I, for one, still believe he should have to release his tax returns by January 10th at the latest, else forfeit the presidency. I believe there is a reason he has not released them, and I think it is important to the issue of trust that the public know that reason before his inauguration. Meanwhile, I wonder what cabinet position he has in mind for Lewandowski!