The Unfortunate Trail Trump Leaves Behind Him

During Donald Trump's SOTU I mentioned a few things I thought would backfire big time. First, his spotlight on his guest, Juan Guaidó, who is an opposition leader in Venezuela.

Trump called Guaidó the “true and legitimate” leader of Venezuela and said President Nicolas Maduro is a “tyrant” as lawmakers applauded.

“Mr. President, please take this message back to your homeland,” Trump said to Guaidó. “All Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom.”

Here's the result of Trump's welcome of Guaidó:

Six American oil executives under house arrest in Venezuela were rounded up by police hours after President Donald Trump met Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s chief opponent at the White House, according to family members of the men.


Alirio Zambrano said early Thursday that the executives of Houston-based Citgo were abruptly taken from their homes last night by the SEBIN intelligence police. Zambrano, the brother of two of the six detained men, said their current whereabouts are unknown.

Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro and his second in command made no bones about the reason for the latest roundup of the U.S. execs:

Maduro condemned Trump’s embrace of Guaidó while socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello, who is widely seen as the second most powerful person in Venezuela’s government, vowed to retaliate for the meeting.

“Every time they do something, we’re going to turn harder to the left and see who squeals,” Cabello said Wednesday night in his weekly TV program.

The point is not whether one supports Maduro or believes he is a corrupt leftist -- it's that Donald Trump doesn't know his as* from his elbow when it comes to diplomacy and interactions with foreign governments. Every time he opens his mouth someone, somewhere, pays a penalty.

Second point I referenced: Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner's so-called "peace plan" for the Middle East which, of course, was DOA the instant the Palestinians heard about it.

Yesterday, in an uptick in violence since Trump announced the plans (along with Kushner's demeaning remarks to Palestinians), which left 3 Palestinians dead and 16 Israelis wounded,

[Palestinians] linked the violence to President Donald Trump's Middle East peace initiative, which heavily favors Israel on all the most contentious issues of the conflict and would allow it to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank.

“Those who introduce plans for annexation and apartheid and the legalization of occupation and settlements are the ones who bear full responsibility for deepening the cycle of violence and extremism,” senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said in a statement.

Even ISIS' official media arm reacted to Kushner and Trump's "peace" proposal with new threats. In an audio message released last week, ISIS media spokesman Abū Hamza al-Qurashī said (no link so as not to spread propoganda):

Thus O soldiers of the Khilafah everywhere, and in particular those of you in the beloved Sinai and the blessed Sham, before you are the Jewish settlements and markets, turn them into testing grounds for your weapons, your chemical missiles, and so on. And to the Muslims in Palestine and all other lands, be the spearhead in the fight against the Jews. Thwart their plots such as “The Deal of the Century”.

The ISIS spokesman also had some choice words for Donald Trump, who he referred to as the "dog" and "idiot of Rome:

And we say to the dog of Rome, Trump: the two dogs who ruled America before you, Bush and Obama, also claimed and declared they had defeated the Islamic State a number of previous times. Or do you have no shame? You all have been declaring and claiming for 15 years the elimination of the muwahhidin. Your war with the Islamic State was restricted in Iraq, but today, by the grace of Alit has extended to the east and west of the globe, to Iraq, Sham, Yemen, Sinai, Libya, Somalia, Khurasan, Pakistan, India, the Caucuses, West and Central Africa, Tunis, and Algeria. Indeed, you were plotting, and Allah plans; and Allah is the best of planners. ....

An Inspector General's report last week found the killing of ISIS leader al-Baghadi had little effect on ISIS's operations (at pp. 17, 40):

ISIS quickly named a successor following the Oct. 27 death of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. ISIS remained a cohesive organization with a command and control structure capable of low-level attacks. In Iraq, ISIS exploited the mountainous and desert terrain in northern and western provinces to continue operations.
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    And in further corruption news .... (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 01:33:43 PM EST
    Barr and Tr*mp have publicly embarrassed and humiliated the career "public integrity" prosecutors who inherited the Roger Stone case from the Mueller team, by requiring them to withdraw their sentencing recommendation (of a "Guidelines"-compliant prison term in the 7 to 9 year range) and request a lesser punishment. I am no fan of these particular prosecutors (having encountered their excessive and self-righteous zeal in a couple of less high-profile cases, one of which led to an acquittal on all counts), but this sort of public political interference with case-specific prosecutorial judgment is pretty much unheard of.

    The New York Times broke a story today which says that Iran was not responsible for the rocket attack that prompted President Trump to order the Pentagon to assassinate Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani:

    New York Times | February 7, 2020
    Was U.S. Wrong About Attack That Nearly Started a War With Iran? - "Iraqi military and intelligence officials have raised doubts about who fired the rockets that started a dangerous spiral of events."

    Appalled already? Well, it gets even better. From the NYTimes:

    "The rockets were launched from a Sunni Muslim part of Kirkuk Province notorious for attacks by the Islamic State, a Sunni terrorist group, which would have made the area hostile territory for a Shiite militia like Khataib Hezbollah.

    "Khataib Hezbollah has not had a presence in Kirkuk Province since 2014.

    "The Islamic State, however, had carried out three attacks relatively close to the base in the 10 days before the attack on K-1. Iraqi intelligence officials sent reports to the Americans in November and December warning that ISIS intended to target K-1, an Iraqi air base in Kirkuk Province that is also used by American forces[.]

    "These facts all point to the Islamic State, Iraqi officials say." (Emphasis is mine.)

    We're trapped in a Coen Bros.'s remake of a Federico Fellini film, and we can't get out. Former Republican political consultant Rick Wilson is right:

    "[Trump] knows his allies and the rest of the online thugocracy he's empowered doesn't need to be told, 'Tell Congressman X that we're going to kill his kids if he's critical of me.' He knows damn well it's going to happen. He knows the threats from his supporters to his opponents are constant, vile, and personal. Trust me, I live it every day. He's going to continue to act as the corrupt, lawless, warlord president that the Republicans unleashed on America this week. Sitting at his master's feet was Attorney General and Trump lapdog Bill Barr, a man history will record as the architect of the coming festivities.

    "Donald Trump may be utterly ignorant of history, but he has the unerring instincts of a sociopathic authoritarian for the seizure of power, the destruction of institutions around him, and complete confidence that the weak men around him will cheer every outrage and excess. Trump is a man who will revel in the shock and terror of his allies when he turns on them, feeding on their misery.

    "Many of the senators who said Trump had done something wrong but not something impeachable sat in a room today and clapped like trained seals being tossed chum at the Douchebag Seaquarium. Trump rubbed his guilt in their faces, having learned exactly the opposite lesson that they imagine.

    "Trump knows he can break the law, lie with vigor, obstruct justice, threaten Americans with political and personal retribution, shame the presidency, endanger the country, enrich himself and his goon spawn, and nothing can be done to stop him. The monster is out of the cage. The Republicans set him free."

    Cue the obligatory Bette Davis cliché. (You know what it is.)

    This is such a disgrace (none / 0) (#2)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Feb 07, 2020 at 03:22:46 PM EST
    Not just him but his twin brother, too. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by vml68 on Fri Feb 07, 2020 at 04:02:44 PM EST
    And Ambassador Sondland, too (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Peter G on Fri Feb 07, 2020 at 06:53:57 PM EST
    I wonder if he can get his million-dollar bribe ... oops, I mean, contribution ... back?

    Night of the long knives. (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by vml68 on Fri Feb 07, 2020 at 07:21:27 PM EST
    Susan Collins was right when she said that Tr*mp had learned his lesson. He learned that he truly can get away with anything.
    I wonder if she finds his actions "disappointing" or "inappropriate" :-(

    I'm sure (5.00 / 5) (#8)
    by Zorba on Fri Feb 07, 2020 at 07:30:36 PM EST
    Her brow is furrowed with a look of concern.

    Retaliating against a witness (5.00 / 6) (#5)
    by Peter G on Fri Feb 07, 2020 at 04:04:45 PM EST
    who testified under subpoena in a federal investigation is a federal felony offense. What you might call a "high crime," in the nature of "criminal-like conduct."

    Add it to the list (none / 0) (#3)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Feb 07, 2020 at 03:25:56 PM EST
    But according to Washington Post journalist Radley Balko, any sort of retribution against Vindman for his testimony is in and of itself an impeachable offense.

    "Punishing Vindman for his testimony is itself an impeachable offense," Balko tweeted. "It's both retribution for telling the truth and a clear threat to anyone else who might contemplate testifying against Trump or filing a whistleblower complaint."

    From (none / 0) (#9)
    by FlJoe on Mon Feb 10, 2020 at 06:15:20 PM EST
    the head on a pike files
    Now, according to Politico, Trump is trying to discredit Romney -- by making him part of the grand Biden/Ukraine conspiracy theory.

    It makes as much sense as the Biden stuff (none / 0) (#10)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Feb 10, 2020 at 06:39:05 PM EST
    A senior advisor from Romney's 2012 presidential campaign was on Burisma's board of directors, and that by voting to impeach Trump last week, Romney was covering for his fellow swamp crony."

    Lindsey will be subpoenaing documents.