STOP The World … I Wanna Get Off!

(Note to Readers:  I had already finished this post when I realized what day it is … gasp … Wednesday … good people day!  I am too exhausted tonight to spend 4 hours or so working up another post, so ‘good people’ will be pushed back one day and will appear right here on Thursday morning.  My apologies.)

Just when you think it can’t get any crazier, any more chaotic … it does.  You know it’s gotten bad when you read that the human species will become extinct soon and you breathe a sigh of relief and hope it’s tomorrow.

I no longer know if I’m being snarky or just outright ranting, so I didn’t call this post Snarky Snippets, but it is some cross, some combination of snarky & rant.  Hmmm … maybe I should come up with a new category … Snark & Rant.

The shape of things to come …

From the Moorhead, Minnesota police department …


Joseph Schumacher

On Monday, October 7, 2019, at approximately 12:08 pm, officers were dispatched to the area of 24 Ave and 8 St S. for a disturbance call. The female caller stated she was driving southbound in the 1000 block of 8 St S when the suspect pulled up next to her and rolled his window down. The male began yelling at the female expressing his dislike for the political bumper sticker the female had displayed on her car. He then pointed to his bumper sticker and further expressed his difference in national political views. The male eventually continued past the victim’s vehicle, and once in front of her, he held up a handgun inside his vehicle.

Officers were able to locate the suspect in a nearby business. After seeing a box for a handgun in plain view inside the suspect’s vehicle, officers found a loaded handgun in the center console during a further search. A passenger in the suspect vehicle also confirmed the actions of the suspect driver.

Joseph Schumacher, age 27, of West Fargo, was booked in the Clay County Jail on two counts of Felony Terroristic Threats and Misdemeanor charges for having a loaded handgun inside a vehicle without a permit.

He is a Trump supporter, she was sporting an Elizabeth Warren bumper sticker.  I fear that given the increased venom and vitriol in Trump and his supporters’ rhetoric these days, we are going to see a lot more of these incidents until that inevitable day when …

Death of the innocent

My friend Carolyn lives in a very rural area just outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountains.  Like me, she is a lover of nature and a lover of all critters, large and small.  Two days ago she posted this on Facebook …

“It’s days like this (very rare) that make me hate Appalachia. Some #$%& drove by and shot a young tame doe and her baby in my front yard and left them lying there together dead. The little doe had raised the fawn close to my house. I saw them every morning and evening.

If anyone knows who did this, tell me and I will report it so they will get in serious trouble. Thanks for any help.”

Speaks for itself, doesn’t it?  😢

Two thumbs up for da judge

On Monday, Judge Victor Marrero of Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled against Trump, dismissing a lawsuit that had been filed by Trump seeking to block a subpoena for eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns.  A win for the good guys, but the best part was how the judge stated his decision.  The judge said Mr. Trump’s lawyers were, in essence, arguing that the president, along with his family, associates and companies, were above the law.

“This court finds aspects of such a doctrine repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values …”

Hooray … finally somebody understands that Trump cannot, must not be allowed to be above the law.  Of course, Trump’s attorneys, knowing full well what the verdict would be, already had their appeals ready, so for now … no tax returns.  I reiterate what I have said time and time again:  if there is nothing to hide, then what’s the big deal?  Obviously, there is something very serious being hidden, for them to go to so much trouble.

Where are the courageous?

Gordon Sondland, the United States’ ambassador to the European Union, had been expected to testify yesterday morning as part of the expanding impeachment probe by three House committees related to Trump’s efforts to press Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.  Notice I said, “had been expected”.  Trump forbade Sondland to testify, and Sondland, apparently unable to find his cojones, caved.  He did not have to … he could have defied Trump & Co, gone right on up to the Capitol and given some honest answers.  Instead, he cowed in the face of Trump’s bombast.

Wouldn’t it be nice if he, or any republican in Congress, stood up to Trump and said, “There comes a point in every person’s life where they have to make a choice between doing what’s right or wrong, and that time has come for me.  I will do what I believe is right, even though there may be consequences.  I will put my country before my own self-interest.”?

I have to ask … is there one single republican in Congress with the guts, the courage to do what’s right and put this nation ahead of their slavish devotion to Trump, damn the consequences?  I think we have the biggest bunch of wusses and wimps on the right-hand side of the aisle on Capitol Hill that I have ever seen.  Gordon Sondland should be at home sucking his thumb and cuddling his dolly if this is the best he can do … we need some people with integrity and strength in our government, not a bunch of cowards.

In light of Sondland’s cowardice, Democrats have subpoenaed Sondland for his testimony and documents that they say are being withheld by the State Department. The subpoena demands those documents be turned over by October 14th, and that Sondland sit for a deposition on October 16th before three congressional panels.

Then later yesterday, White House lawyers called the impeachment investigation “illegitimate” and “constitutionally invalid” and said they will block any and all cooperation with the ongoing inquiries and investigations.


Except … they can if nobody will stop them.  Who will stop them?  Will the republicans in Congress finally wake to the fact that Trump is rapidly escalating his position to that of a dictator?  Will they finally hold Sondland and others accountable by giving them a nice cozy jail cell where they can have plenty of time to think about their actions?  Will they finally provide the oversight that is mandated by the Constitution of the United States?  Will the Courts keep up the pressure, and as Judge Marrero did, say “No, the president is NOT above the law”?  Will the trumpeters out there in La-La-Land finally wake up and see what they have wrought?

If none of the above happen, people … if Trump is allowed to virtually render the impeachment investigations dead in the water, then we have lost any semblance of a free nation, we will have become a dictatorship.

Every day seems to get crazier and crazier.  I miss having a government I can trust, miss going to bed at night feeling that at least my corner of the world is in capable hands.  I want this crazy world to stop, just let me off, let me find a quiet corner, find some peace, sleep without night terrors.

It’s Time For Action …

Don Trump’s taxes have been in dispute for years.  He is the first president since Reagan … more than thirty years ago … to refuse to make public his most recent tax returns.  His excuses have been many, none of them valid.  First, he said we weren’t smart enough to understand them, for their complexity was far beyond our ability to comprehend.  He fails to remember that among “we” are tax lawyers, accountants, and other professionals who would far better understand his returns than he himself does.  Then he said that nobody cared … another blatant lie.  His next excuse was that he was being audited, but that argument was struck down when the IRS said that while it was true he was under audit, there was no reason that should stop him from releasing his tax returns.

Then, in light of the fact that he refused to divest himself of certain business holdings once he held public office, coupled with the fact that there appears to be a connection between his businesses and certain Russians, the House Ways and Means Committee first requested, then subpoenaed the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service in order to obtain Trump’s tax returns.  And again, ran into a brick wall when Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, flat out refused to honour the subpoena, saying that in his opinion it had no legitimate purpose.

A week later, New York State lawmakers approved a bill that would authorize state tax officials to release the president’s state returns to any one of three congressional committees.  The state returns would include much, though not all, of the same information in the federal returns, and is readily available, whereas obtaining the federal returns could be a years-long process.

Representative Richard Neal from Massachusetts is Chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, and as such is the person who would need to ask the state of New York for copies of the returns.  And … he is refusing.  Between this, and Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to open an impeachment investigation, I am beginning to wonder if the democrats are in cahoots with the republicans!!!

Neal claims he fears that getting the state returns would bolster Trump administration arguments that Congress is on a political fishing expedition — and not, as Neal has claimed, overseeing the Internal Revenue Service’s annual audits of the president.  While I have urged caution in a number of areas up to this point, my patience has worn thin … no wait … make that, my patience has worn OUT!  I agree with Representative Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee when she says …

“Whatever it takes to get it — I’m for it.  I believe that the president of the United States should follow the tradition of other presidents and reveal his tax returns.”

Every single day that Donald Trump remains in office he causes more damage to this nation.  He is wasting precious tax dollars on things like taking his entire family on a trip to the UK, when only he and Melania were invited.  His policies and ‘executive orders’ have wreaked havoc on our southern border where thus far six children have died while in ‘protective’ custody and thousands remain separated from their parents.  He has caused serious rifts between the U.S. and its allies by being offensive to their leaders and attempting to bully them into acting as he wishes.  He has placed people in high-ranking cabinet positions who are less qualified for their jobs than I am.  He has committed to sending $8 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, a nation whose crown prince ordered the brutal murder of one of our own journalists. He has imposed tariffs on imports from just about every nation we trade with … tariffs that cost We, The People of this nation. And the list goes on.

On a slightly more positive note …

On May 21st, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former campaign press secretary Hope Hicks, and former White House lawyer Annie Donaldson for documents related to allegations that Trump obstructed justice.  On June 4th, Trump directed the two women to defy the subpoena.  Both are now private citizens and are not subject to orders given by Trump.  Hope Hicks has, it is reported, turned over some of the documents requested, those relating to Trump’s campaign.

It is but a drop in the bucket, for Ms. Hicks’ attorney Robert Trout said in a letter to committee chairman Jerry Nadler that Hicks would not hand over documents related to Trump’s time in the White House and his presidential transition period because administration attorneys believe the papers may be subject to a claim of executive privilege by Trump.  Since when does the president of this nation have the right to claim “executive privilege” in order to cover up his own wrongdoing?  Did we learn nothing from Watergate?

I keep hoping that somehow, somewhere there is a person whose conscience calls on him or her to do the right thing, to put the well-being of the nation first, to tell what he or she knows.  I had hoped that person would be Robert Mueller, then I hoped it would be Don McGahn, but Mueller has chosen to err on the side of caution, and McGahn has shown his feathers.

All the games being played, all the political posturing, is going to come with a high price tag.  It already has, but it gets higher for every day he is allowed to rule as a king.  It seems to me that all the attempts to hide documents and threaten witnesses constitutes obstruction of justice in and of itself.  It’s time for Congress to get tough, for we can no longer afford to sit on our hands and wait for just the right moment.

Lawsuits, Obstruction, and a Blimp

Robert Mueller’s report clearly shows a number of times that Don Trump attempted to obstruct justice, such as telling his White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller.  There are at least 10 such instances documented in the report.  And yet, Trump and his minions claim the report exonerates him.  It does not, but setting that aside for the moment, today he is obstructing justice yet again!  He is digging his hole deeper and deeper, and I sincerely hope he falls into it very soon.

First, it was announced yesterday that Trump and his business organization are suing the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, in an attempt to block the subpoena the committee issued requesting information from Trump’s accounting firm about his financial records.  Now, this subpoena would not have been necessary if Trump had been forthcoming with his tax returns, as every other president since Reagan has done.  When one refuses to answer a question, it throws up red flags and becomes obvious one has something to hide, and it is glaringly obvious at this point that Donald Trump has a heck of a lot to hide.

Judging by the fact that Trump had been involved in some 5,000 lawsuits prior to becoming president, we should not be surprised by this latest, for suing someone seems to be his modus operandi any time things don’t go his way.  The argument in this one, however, is laughable.

“Instead of working with the President to pass bipartisan legislation that would actually benefit Americans, House Democrats are singularly obsessed with finding something they can use to damage the President politically.”

Trump’s lawyers are also seeking to block his accounting firm, Mazars USA, from providing any information to the committee.  There is small chance that Trump will win this suit, BUT … it is seen as mainly a delaying tactic, likely until he can think of something else.  Trump is wasting our money on efforts to hide his own perfidy.  Plus … he is challenging the U.S. Constitution that calls for a system of checks and balances, as he asks the judicial branch to stop the legislative branch from doing their job overseeing the executive branch.  Playing both ends against the middle, so to speak.

And about those tax returns … the Internal Revenue Service missed the first deadline to turn six years’ worth of tax returns over to the House Ways and Means Committee, and the deadline was pushed back until … today, and as of this writing there is no sign of any tax returns.  More obfuscation.

But wait … there’s more!

Former White House personnel security director Carl Kline received a letter directing him not to show up for questioning by the House Oversight Committee.  The letter came from White House deputy counsel Michael M. Purpura and claims that the subpoena for his testimony “unconstitutionally encroaches on fundamental executive branch interests.”  Kline’s attorney said he will abide by the White House directive.

Mr. Kline’s testimony was requested as the committee is investigating the security clearances that appear to have been handed out willy-nilly on Trump’s orders, even though investigations had shown those individuals to be a security risk.  Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was one of those individuals.

Every single one of the above instances are attempts on the part of Trump to obstruct justice by hook or by crook.  Obstruction of justice, by the way, IS against the law.  Imagine if you are summonsed to appear before a judge for some matter and you don’t show up.  Guess where you’ll be going?  But Trump is getting by with it because … he believes he is a king, not a president of a relatively democratic nation.  More and more, I am coming to believe that impeachment may be the only answer.  I had been of the opinion that we should wait until all these investigations were concluded, however it appears that they may not be concluded for years, as he and his lawyers continue meddling, obfuscating, interfering and obstructing the process of the investigations.

And in other news, I am distressed to read that in less than two months, on June 3rd, Trump will travel to the United Kingdom for a state visit.  The Brits do not want him there, and it is certain that he will only humiliate us in front of our UK friends.  There is no good reason for him to go … it is merely an ego trip.  Last July when he went to the UK amid many protests from the citizenry, it ended up costing the country £18 million, or about $23 million in security.  I have an idea … how about just not having security … let the chips fall where they may.

Trump baby blimp-1Some are predicting even more, larger protests this time … as I said, nobody wants him there.  On the fun side, however, they are getting out the Trump baby blimp and dusting it off to use again.  I read in The Guardian that they may even make a new one … a hot air balloon five times the size of the original!

And on that note, I think I am finished for now … have a great day, my friends!

Trump’s Press Conference – Part II

Yesterday I posted Trump’s Press Conference – Part I, in which I discussed his watered-down plan to combat possible conflict of interest issues stemming from his business interests.  Today I tackle two other topics:  his treatment of the press, using the term “fake news” to refer to any media outlet that disparages him, and the issue of his tax returns. But first, this …

New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof posted this on Facebook yesterday after watching Trump’s news conference:

“One of the things I wondered about during the Trump press conference today was who all those people applauding were. Journalists don’t typically applaud a politician. So now we find out: They were paid aides brought into provide canned applause. Boy, “fake news” seems like yesterday’s news; now we have “fake applause”!”

Given that I did not actually watch the bulk of the event, I talked to a number of people who did, and most agree that it was as if, thinking back to the old days of talk shows (think Johnny Carson’s monologue) somebody was holding up a sign telling them when to clap.  One said that after Trump yelled “FAKE NEWS!”, there was precisely a two-second delay, and then applause.

Trump’s Attack on the Press:

But the subject of today’s post is not fake applause by paid staffers, rather another issue that came up in the new conference that caused me to pause and ponder.  That issue is Trump’s treatment of the press, specifically on this day, BuzzFeed and CNN.  We are all getting used to his disdain for the press, at least for the mainstream media who are trying hard to do their jobs and provide the public with the most accurate possible information.  But there is danger in becoming inured to his denigration of the press and passing it off as “just another Trump-ism”.

“Near the end of the news conference, Mr. Trump got into a shouting match with Jim Acosta of CNN, who tried to press the president-elect into taking a question. “Since you were attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance?” Mr. Acosta asked. To which Mr. Trump replied: “Your organization’s terrible,” and “don’t be rude,” before dismissing the request once and for all: “You are fake news.” (CNN was the first to report that Mr. Trump and President Obama had been briefed by intelligence officials on the uncorroborated documents, but the network did not publish them.)”New York Times, 11 January 2017

During his campaign, Trump rescinded press credentials of journalists from The Washington Post, Politico, the Des Moines Journal, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Univision, the Daily Beast and others because he considered that they had treated him “unfairly” and said “mean” things about him.  Frankly, it is not the job of the press to play nice with politicians or candidates for office.  It is their job to keep We The People informed of the facts.  In July, Trump told Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times, “I’m from a different world, other than politics. In my world, when people don’t treat you fairly … ”

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an American independent non-profit, non-governmental organization, based in New York City, New York with correspondents around the world. CPJ promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists. The American Journalism Review has called the organization “Journalism’s Red Cross”. Founded in 1981 in response to the harassment of Paraguayan journalist Alcibiades Gonzalez Delvalle, its founding honorary chairman was Walter Cronkite. Suffice it to say that they do good work around the globe on behalf of all journalists.  To learn more, visit their website.  In October, Sandra Mims Rowe, CPJ Board Chairperson, issued, in part, the following statement:

“Guaranteeing the free flow of information to citizens through a robust, independent press is essential to American democracy. For more than 200 years this founding principle has protected journalists in the United States and inspired those around the world, including brave journalists facing violence, censorship, and government repression.

Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values. On October 6, CPJ’s board of directors passed a resolution declaring Trump an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists and to CPJ’s ability to advocate for press freedom around the world.”  Full statement can be viewed here  .

When Trump gets into a shouting match with a well-established media outlet, and a highly respected journalist who is merely trying to ask a simple, valid question, it does not bode well for the ongoing relationship between the White House and the press corps.  More than once during his campaign he threatened to sue various media outlets for reporting verified facts.  Remarking that he would “bring more libel suits” against the press, he said “I don’t want to threaten, but I find…the press is unbelievably dishonest.”  He complained about coverage of his campaign and suggested that the US should adopt the UK’s stricter libel laws.  A group of civil liberties lawyers has pledged to represent pro bono anyone Trump sues for exercising his or her expressive rights. (Keep this in mind, fellow-bloggers!!!)

Before letting loose on CNN, Trump unleashed his ire on BuzzFeed, predictably, since it was BuzzFeed that released the document that allegedly ties Trump to a number of Soviet agents and also accuses him of perverse behaviour while in Russia in 2013. “Buzzfeed is a failing pile of garbage and they’re going to suffer the consequences.” BuzzFeed, however, decided to turn his critique into a positive, and quickly developed a product line


Yesterday, the day after Trump’s press conference, BuzzFeed sold more than $25,000 of these t-shirts and plans to donate all proceeds to the Committee to Protect Journalists!  Two thumbs up to BuzzFeed!

We must not stand by silently and watch as our press lose their freedoms under a Trump administration, as we rely on the media to keep us informed.  The mainstream media, admittedly, made some serious mistakes during the 2016 election year, and We The People will pay for those mistakes.  However, it is to be hoped that they learned from them and frankly, without our free press, we as a nation, as a democracy, are doomed to become the next Nazi Germany.  It is right and proper for us to call them out when they make mistakes, but we must never lose sight of what they represent, the role they play in keeping America free.

Trump’s Tax Returns:

Throughout his campaign, Trump has been called upon to release his tax returns, but has steadfastly refused, claiming that they are “under audit”.  The IRS has stated that there is no reason for him not to release his returns for public scrutiny, yet he has remained adamant.  During the press conference, he was asked numerous times about his tax returns and when/if they would be made public.  Finally, Trump simply stated: “I’m not releasing the tax returns because as you know, they’re under audit.”

Okay, same thing he’s been saying, even though it has been proven to be a lame excuse.  But wait … there is more.  Trump decided to clarify his opinion that the electorate is simply too stupid, too brainwashed to CARE about his tax returns!

TRUMP: You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters, OK? They’re the only who ask.

Reporter: You don’t think the American public is concerned about it

TRUMP: No I don’t think so. I won, when I became president. No, I don’t think they care at all. I don’t think they care at all.  

Make no mistake about this, folks:  he just called us all stupid!  I, for one, want to see his unredacted tax returns, and I want to hear what a competent tax lawyer has to say about them.  I want to know exactly what deductions he has taken, where his businesses are failing or succeeding, by how much, and what his net worth is.  And guess what?  I am intelligent and well educated enough to understand what I see. And anything I don’t understand, I am smart enough to know where to find the answers.  Trump has brainwashed nearly 50% of this nation, but there are still those of us who are smart enough to read a financial disclosure report or a tax return, and we do care! He is in essence saying, “there, there now, don’t you worry your pretty little heads about such things as taxes … Uncle Donnie will take care of you …” and behind our backs he is laughing a deep, BWAH HAH HAH!  And giving us all a big ……..


Candidates running for president are not legally obligated to release their taxes, however there is a long tradition of doing so, in addition to public financial disclosure laws candidates must follow. Since the early 1970s most presidents have chosen to release their returns publicly in order to avoid the appearance of having ‘something to hide’.  According to an informal poll by New York Times writer Ron Wyden, within hours, some 79,000 people responded saying that yes, they care about the tax returns. The reason is simple. Without these returns, Americans cannot know whether he is using the presidency to enrich himself and his family. Americans won’t know whether a policy he proposes primarily benefits steelworkers in Pennsylvania or lines his own pocket. They will also be unable to tell whether Mr. Trump is telling the truth when he claims to have no connections to Russia, contradicting public evidence and statements by his own son. His stated excuse about being under audit doesn’t pass the smell test.

The more Trump refuses, the more convinced I am that he is indeed hiding something, perhaps many things.  His refusal is bad enough, but when he says that We The People don’t care … he’s got it all wrong!

The other thing that is relevant from Trump’s press conference is what I think of at the moment as the “elephant in the room”, the intelligence briefing, those elusive two-pages that summarize what dirt Putin may have on Trump, and the rest, but I will not write about that as yet.  First, my blogger-friend Gronda Morin is doing a great job of staying on top of that story, and second, I am waiting so see if the allegations are verified before I say much more.  So, this post, unless there are further developments, concludes my two-post series on Trump’s press conference.

Maddow vs. Conway … Round #1

I typically avoid extremes on either side, such as Hannity, O’Reilly, Fox, Breitbart, and similar uber-liberal media types. That said, I am a fan of Bill Press (liberal) and George Will (conservative), both of whom are reasonable and capable of seeing reason on both ends of the spectrum. That said, I have never watched a full episode of Rachel Maddow, as I have always believed her to be on the extreme left, though I consider myself a liberal also.  As I said, I attempt to avoid the more radical journalists, though I have a few faves on either side.  Recently, however, Maddow has come onto my radar a few times, most recently because of an interview with the newly appointed Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway.  I was curious, so I did some research into Rachel Maddow and find that while yes, she is very liberal, she tends to be fair and well-spoken, unlike many of the more partisan television hosts.

maddowRachel Maddow earned a degree in public policy at Stanford in 1994. She was a Rhodes Scholarship recipient and began her postgraduate study in 1995 at Lincoln College, Oxford. In 2001, she earned a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in politics at the University of Oxford. A 2011 Hollywood Reporter profile of Maddow said that she was able to deliver news “with agenda, but not hysteria.”  A Newsweek profile said, “At her best, Maddow debates ideological opponents with civility and persistence.”  She earned an Emmy Award in the Outstanding News Discussion and Analysis category for “The Rachel Maddow Show” episode “Good Morning Landlocked Central Asia!” It would seem that I have done her an injustice by thinking she was just another “partisan screamer”.

conwayOn Wednesday, 24 August 2016, Rachel Maddow conducted an interview with newly-appointed Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway.  Now, initially I thought of Conway as just another bimbo, but it would seem that again, I have done an injustice, as she is a cut, at least, above the likes of Trump Spokesperson Katrina Pierson, or Ann Coulter.  She is obviously not stupid, but … she is in a tight spot, and it comes across.  She is in the position of having to support and defend a man who has spent the past 15 months laying a very uncomfortable nest.  Here are a few excerpts (necessarily abbreviated) from that hour-long interview:

On talk of issues … actual issues …

Conway:  I think, my own view as a voter and as an old hand politically, Rachel, is that so much of this campaign and the campaign coverage, but so much of the campaign has been content-free cacophony, like no substance being discussed.

As regards Trump’s faux ‘apology’ to whomever for whatever:

Conway:  But I do hope, Rachel, that people who feel that they have been caused personal pain by Donald Trump, looked at his regrets last week in a very public form.  And it’s very unusual for anybody who is running for political office to — frankly, to ever say that they regret causing personal pain. nd I hope that anybody who feels that way will at least see that contrition and take that and at least accept his regret.  And …

Maddow: But there’s no apology.  I mean …

Conway:  Well, that would be done in private anyway.

Maddow:  And you’re saying it may have been done and you don’t know, or you know that it hasn’t been done?

Conway:  I don’t know either way.

Maddow:  Okay.  And with the Khan family — I mean, with Mrs. Khan, I mean, in terms of personal pain, he said about her that he didn’t — I can tell you exactly what he said.  He said: “She had nothing to say.  She probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”  Do you know if he’s apologized to the Khan family directly?

Conway:  I don’t know. And I certainly hope that they heard him last Thursday in Charlotte when he said that. Rachel, let me just say how I feel, if it’s at all relevant.  I think that the Khan’s son is a hero, and I’m glad he’s in Arlington National Cemetery, and I think he made the ultimate sacrifice, as did they, and they deserve our respect and our gratitude. But I also think people should look at the full measure of each of these candidates and not always judge that — well, not just judge him by one or two things that he has said here.  I just feel like we with should look at … One or two things???  One or two things???  Let me count the ways …

Maddow:  To be fair, though, I think those things that he’s getting consistently judged for, and people are not letting them go, is because they’re so unusual.  I mean, for any presidential candidate, for any politician to get into a personal fight with a gold-star family is so strange, it’s so unusual.

On Immigration and ban on Muslims:

Maddow:  But does that statement rescind the earlier statement?  Does that mean that — I mean, it was very clear what he said in December, and he put it in writing, right?  A total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.  It was very clear.  Is that now no longer operable as the statement of the Trump campaign? Should we see this new statement about countries that have a history of exporting terrorism, should we see that supplanting that earlier statement?

Conway:  Well, I don’t think it supplants it at all.

Maddow:  So they both exist?

Conway:  I think that — well, yes, they do, because I think it clarifies it, in terms of, well, what does this actually mean?

Maddow:  So what about a Muslim who wants to emigrate here from Australia?

Conway:  Well, it depends. Well, you look at his speech from last Monday and I think you find your answer, where he says, look, we are going to stop allowing countries that export terrorists, that we can’t get a good vetting system with them, and frankly …

Maddow:  I’ve got the quote.  He said he would suspend immigration from “regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.” So on 9/11, four airliners were hijacked.  Three of the four were piloted by men who had most recently lived and operated their cell in Germany.  Right?  We all know this, right?  Hamburg, Germany.  So is Germany a country from which we will not allow immigration anymore?

Conway:  I mean, who were the people teaching them how to fly a plane in Florida that they never had an interest in learning to land it?  You know, we — after 9/11, it was see something, say something. But before that, we had them — you know, they could have been monitored in a way, if there was a reasonable suspicion that they had, that they were tied to terrorism.  So in that particular instance, with the 9/11 terrorists, it’s very hard to believe it has been 15 years, Rachel.

Maddow:  What he says is a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

Conway:  That was — and now it’s …

Maddow:  Before.  But you are saying that’s no longer operable.

Conway:  I’m saying that you should see what he said last Monday, where he is saying suspend it from regions or countries that are known exporters of terrorism.

Maddow:  Like Germany, which makes no sense.

Conway:  Well, no, no … But with that particular instance, I’d have to go back and review what we knew about each of them at the time before I answer your question completely.  But the general policy is what he says it is, which is …

Annotator Blake:  This is pretty brutal. Again, Conway simply won’t say that the full Muslim ban is no longer operable. But why? Because it would be labeled a flip-flop? Because Trump might want to go back to it? Because she simply doesn’t know?

Maddow:  If that’s no longer the case, that would be a really big deal.  But it can’t be that we’re not supposed to hold him accountable for that statement anymore, but he hasn’t rescinded it. In the same way that his statement of regret, if it’s meant to apply to the Khan family or the Curiel family, we can’t give him credit to that unless he actually tells us, and tells us that he has communicated that to the Curiel and the Khan family. The thread that ties these things together is this is all stuff of his own making.  And if you want the campaign to not be about this stuff anymore, it seems to me like he’s the one who has to end all these controversies by telling us what he really means. You’re in a position of trying to defend what he said last week, and not refer to what he said in December, but only one of them can be true.

On campaign against Hillary Clinton

Conway:  Well, Rachel, I have memorized the list of 22 flip-flops that Hillary Clinton has made on policy, and they have nothing to do even with the corrupt Clinton Foundation State Department pay-to-play connection, they have to do with policy. And I think Bernie Sanders was right on many of those things when he was calling her out for them.  And we will call her out for them if others won’t.  So we feel that it’s legitimate …

Maddow:  But your own campaign is about your own candidate, right?

Conway:  Well, no, no.  There’s a choice in this country.

Maddow:  No?

On “ideological screening”

Maddow: And what he said was, in the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test.  The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.  What is that about?  What’s the Cold War precedent for this extreme vetting that he’s talking about?

Conway:  He’s basically saying, this is not the first time the country has done this, or that it has been done.  That we’ve done this before, but for some reason, we’ve become lax.  We don’t do it.

Maddow:  When did we do it before?

Conway:  Well, he’s just saying, there’s a Cold War precedent.  And …

Maddow:  But what is the Cold War precedent?

Conway:  For vetting.  And he’s saying that in this case, it’s that we — past is not necessarily prologue, but that when you are talking about vetting, people shouldn’t comment like, oh, my God, that’s a new situation.

Maddow:  The Cold War precedent for what he’s talking about was an ideological vetting.  He’s saying we want ideological vetting of people.  That did exist in the Cold War, in the early ’50s, it was called the McCarran Act, which I’m sure you know.

Conway:  Sure.

Maddow:  And Truman vetoed it and then Congress was able to pass it some other way.  But what survived very famously was thrown out by the United States Supreme Court because it was ruled to be unconstitutional. In that case, it was to stop communist front groups.  But it didn’t pass constitutional muster, and we’ve never had anything like that since that ever has passed constitutional muster. So what he’s asking for is a new extreme vetting system, which has previously been tried and ruled unconstitutional and we abandoned it half a century ago.

Conway:  Sixty-some years ago, right?

On … I am not quite sure what …

Conway: And the fact is, Hillary Clinton, from what we’re told, is going to give a speech tomorrow about none of that.  Her speech is going to be about Donald Trump.

Maddow:  She’s going to give a speech about you guys, that’s right.

Conway:  Well, but that’s odd.  And I watch — it’s odd for this reason.  Again, it’s not — she’s running for president of the United States.  And presidents have to have vision and show leadership in a way that you make the election about the future, not the past. And you make it about your own beliefs and your own values and vision, not just trying to make the other person look like he takes the wings off of butterflies.  It’s an odd construct.  I watched Robby Mook.  I watched Robby Mook in your interview last week.  I said, oh, I hope I get to do that, I watched him interviewed my first day on the job.  And I really did want to come. Robby is such a smart guy.  He’s very loyal to Hillary Clinton.  He knows what he’s doing.  He’s a great competitor.  And yet most of his — much of his interview was about Donald Trump.  And I keep looking at that and saying, when are we going to hear from you?

On the Clinton Foundation

Maddow:  On that issue of the Clinton Foundation, the very strong statement from your campaign two days ago, saying the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history.  If it’s such a vehicle for corruption, why did Donald Trump donate so much money to it?

Conway:  He donated $100,000, and certainly didn’t donate for the same reason these foreign donors did, apparently.  He didn’t ask to get a meeting with the secretary of state to talk about donating to the Clinton Foundation, like apparently 85 other people did. But the Clinton Foundation does some good work.  I mean, there’s no question about that.  They do very important work.

Maddow:  But they’re the most corrupt enterprise in political history, that’s your statement.

Conway:  Apparently you can be both.

On Trump’s refusal to release income tax returns

Maddow: The IRS says if you’re under audit, you’re totally allowed to release your tax returns.  And previous presidents and presidential candidates have. Donald Trump is running for president in part on the basis of his financial acumen and saying that the system is rigged.  And there has been a lot of really troubling reporting about his business practices, as well, you know, I mean, a lot of stuff that may or may not been followed all the way to its conclusion. But talk about raising questions, there has been stuff.  Why should this audit out only apply to him?  I mean, everybody else has released their tax returns, why shouldn’t he?

Conway:  Well, I do respect it only because I once thought, oh, transparency, release your tax returns.  But the fact is now that I’m there, I hear what the advice that the lawyers and the accountants have given. But I don’t think that we need to see his tax returns to verify his financial acumen.  I walk into the Trump Tower every day and I’m like, this guy did pretty well for himself before I got here.

Maddow:  I want to know if he pays taxes.

Conway:  And he — well, like you know what you want to know, Rachel, we all want to know what taxes we would pay under his tax plan.  That’s a question …

Maddow:  No, no, trust me, I really literally want to know if he pays taxes.  I have two more things to ask you.  Do you mind staying?

Conway  No.  Oh, another break.


And it continues.  I have only posted a few highlights here, but for a full, annotated transcript from The Washington Post, click here   It is an interesting conversation, and I must admit that I almost felt sorry for Ms. Conway at times.  She came in at the middle of the 4th quarter, with little recourse but to try to reconcile the first 3 quarters with the final, and she floundered, yes, but she gave it her best shot.  She was up against a pro, after all, and defending the #1 Bozo of the Century! A decidedly tough position.