Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Tue, 23 Jul 2019 00:10:29 -0700 Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate a75671adb1e1ac6cc4408425fbb9a7fb Who Hates America? for 07/18/2019 Thu, 18 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Nobody expects Donald Trump to speak the truth about himself or his opponents anymore. To support him requires a suspension of disbelief that is impressive in a misbegotten way.</p> <p>So when the president of the United States tells four duly elected members of Congress to go back to where they came from, an old trope of bigotry that everybody understands, the politicians who support him pretend that he was saying something else. Even his rank-and-file backers know how to play dumb &#8212; like the gentleman who told NPR that Trump was merely telling Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley to "go back to their home states." Sorry, but nobody is really that stupid, although Trump and his minions treat us all as if we are.<p>Updated: Thu Jul 18, 2019</p> 75bd1e822bf475fd75663a04f30a9ca2 How Did Jeffrey Epstein Escape Justice? for 07/11/2019 Thu, 11 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The case of super-rich sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is so disturbing, not only because dozens of women say he victimized them as young girls, and not only because he went almost unpunished, but because his wealth appears to have enabled his criminality for years. While the sources of Epstein's enormous fortune remain mysterious and may never be fully revealed, it is vital that we learn how he eluded justice until now.</p> <p>The answer may not lie among the prominent politicians, businessmen, scientists and entertainment figures once cultivated by Epstein. Names like Donald Trump and Bill Clinton always make titillating copy, especially in this sordid tale, and it isn't surprising that coverage has focused on the two presidents. Perhaps seeking to deflect attention from Trump, Trump's henchmen, such as political consultant Roger Stone (now under indictment) and former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker (who narrowly escaped indictment), have long tried to use Epstein to smear Clinton. And they have succeeded in spreading urban legends about Clinton and Epstein that bear little resemblance to the known facts.<p>Updated: Thu Jul 11, 2019</p> 2f33ef3195b8e26776bbc39f8f08c553 The Opposite of Patriotism for 07/03/2019 Wed, 03 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Vindication is not always a happy feeling, not when the nation is at such grave risk.</p> <p>In years past, I've often devoted my Fourth of July column to observing that the right has no monopoly on patriotism. The Tories of the Revolutionary era, who demanded loyalty to the British throne, were the right-wing reactionaries of their time, as were the Confederates who sought to destroy the Union in defense of chattel slavery, as were the America First-ers who advanced the interests of Nazi Germany against the security of the United States. I wrote those columns in memory of my father: a son of immigrants, a World War II military veteran, a small-business owner and a passionate liberal.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 03, 2019</p> 9d7f827515973176fee6933c6949ef07 Crimes Against Humanity on the Border for 06/27/2019 Thu, 27 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>There may come a time when top officials of the Trump administration, including the president himself, will no longer be able to travel abroad without fear of arrest by international authorities. Every day now, evidence accumulates that Trump and his appointees are perpetrating crimes against humanity on the southern border.</p> <p>Even Trump's conscience seems to have been shocked, momentarily, by the wrenching news video of a father and his little daughter drowned in the Rio Grande last Sunday. Or so he wants us to believe. The images of Oscar Alberto Martinez holding his 23-month-old Angie Valeria, their bodies face down in the river, forced the nation's attention to the terrible effects of his administration's crackdown. Driven away from safer ports of entry, those innocents perished as the father tried to save his child at a dangerous crossing point. <p>Updated: Thu Jun 27, 2019</p> 38a69e0bf4241972cf613a43cf3a35aa We've Seen This Bad Movie for 06/19/2019 Wed, 19 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Of all the bad days and weeks in Donald Trump's presidency, the present moment may be the most dangerous. His provocative decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and impose new sanctions on the country is predictably heading toward military conflict in the Persian Gulf &#8212; which may well be disastrous for the world. Even Trump seems to be hesitating as his belligerent advisers press forward.</p> <p>It is a dangerous time for reasons that we all know too well by now. This president is easily manipulated and uninterested in facts. He is emotionally volatile and possibly unbalanced. Despite his blustery claims, he must know that polls show him losing the next election. And as that election looms, the economy is slowing &#8212; and if it slows enough, he will forfeit the only argument for re-electing him.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 20, 2019</p> 9f8e1884257cad913c298c8336a970de Democracy's Enemies Within for 06/13/2019 Thu, 13 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Among the most disturbing moments during the last presidential election cycle occurred in September 2016, when a group of top intelligence officials briefed congressional leaders on the Kremlin's aggressive hacking campaign.</p> <p>Aiming for bipartisan unity against a threat from a hostile foreign power, then-President Obama sent his counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, then-FBI Director James Comey and then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to a secret meeting on Capitol Hill with the "Gang of 12" &#8212; leaders of both parties in the House and Senate plus the chairs and ranking members of the homeland security and intelligence committees. They asked the congressional leaders to join together and urge state and local election officials to protect the vote from Russian hacking with the assistance of federal authorities. <p>Updated: Thu Jun 13, 2019</p> 01d355851aae8b0c4b3d1c083cbdf54b Kushner Proved He Is a Security Risk -- Again for 06/05/2019 Wed, 05 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Some blessed day, America will be rid of the Trump administration. But the "normalization" of misconduct by this president's entourage will leave indelible stains &#8212; one of which will bear the name Jared Kushner.</p> <p>Unlike his constantly blithering and blabbering father-in-law, Kushner usually goes about his self-serving business in the White House very quietly, hiring lawyers to spout his alibis. When he granted an interview the other day to "Axios on HBO," the result was predictable. This epitome of nepotism demonstrated once again why he should hold no public position of trust.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 05, 2019</p> f34d4b86afa28e2d09dcac6604e15858 What Mueller Told Us for 05/29/2019 Wed, 29 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Behind the straight-shooting, ramrod demeanor always mentioned by his friends, Robert Mueller possesses a shrewd intelligence. He demonstrated that strategic acuity on Wednesday morning when, with a few carefully selected sentences, he wielded his own reticence to deliver a crushing blow to Donald Trump (and a hard shot to Attorney General William Barr, the White House henchman).</p> <p>The more diffidence Mueller displayed in speaking publicly &#8212; after two years of principled silence as special counsel &#8212; the more powerful were the words he chose to utter. Standing before the seal of the Justice Department, he told us it is important that his 448-page report "speak for itself." Yet, with the nation listening, he briskly underlined the most salient aspects of the report, which the great majority of his fellow Americans will never read.<p>Updated: Wed May 29, 2019</p> 17de4bc3cac74365374d78e5ad556875 Congress Must Begin an Impeachment Inquiry for 05/22/2019 Wed, 22 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Donald Trump is no longer just a persistent object of national shame and revulsion. He has become a threat to the Constitution and the rule of law &#8212; and the question before the House, quite literally, is what to do about him.</p> <p>For understandable reasons, the Democratic leadership in Congress has been reluctant to answer Trump's lawless conduct with impeachment, as the founders clearly prescribed. Speaker Nancy Pelosi warns that attempting to remove a duly elected president, even one who lost the popular vote, will be inevitably divisive and politically unpopular. She worries that "overreaching" by Democrats will rebound on them politically, as the Clinton impeachment boomeranged on Republicans in the 1998 midterm election. <p>Updated: Wed May 22, 2019</p> 3b4201fa8f0136655ba3dd4a6a6233e3 The Hypocrites on the Hill for 05/15/2019 Wed, 15 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Donald Trump will never build the Great Wall he envisioned on this country's southern border, but his lawyers and minions are erecting the largest stonewall against congressional oversight since Nixon's presidency. In a scolding letter to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., White House attorneys have said that the administration will simply reject some 81 subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee that he chairs. </p> <p>The reason offered for this blanket refusal to cooperate sounds much like a Trump tweet. "Congressional investigations are intended to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation," huffed the president's lawyers, "not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized 'do-over' of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice."</p> <p>Requests for information from the House Oversight Committee, the House Intelligence Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee have all met with roughly the same arrogant attitude &#8212; as if the executive branch has no obligation to provide any information at all to Congress. Such dismissive responses represent a profound violation of the constitutional order.<p>Updated: Wed May 15, 2019</p> 3b5065cccf50375787e0ad00f9d250cf Law and Order and Donald Trump for 05/09/2019 Thu, 09 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When Rep. Jerrold Nadler said that America is in a "constitutional crisis" &#8212; as he and other members of the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress &#8212; commentators scoffed that the Manhattan Democrat was exaggerating, at least a little. The sweeping, concerted resistance to congressional oversight by Barr and the Trump White House isn't that much worse than what other presidents of both parties have done, they assured us.</p> <p>Except it is. Ask any of the conservative Republican lawyers who are now trying to alert the country about President Trump's unchecked abuse of presidential power. That dissenting cadre within the president's own party includes former government officials who helped to create this danger.<p>Updated: Thu May 09, 2019</p> c385292b31a0abd603f591c1fca6d48b What Made Robert Mueller So Mad for 05/01/2019 Wed, 01 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The Republican message from the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Mueller report, featuring Attorney General Bill Barr, was perfectly blunt: Forget that any of this ever happened &#8212; unless and until we can figure out how to blame Hillary Clinton.</p> <p>All of those "conservative" worthies including the chief law enforcement officer of the United States insist that the report doesn't mean what it plainly says, and that Donald Trump did nothing wrong. So move along &#8212; now.<p>Updated: Wed May 01, 2019</p> 0cb7ef8badc10e5061bc7933d24e71b8 A Perilous Path to National Redemption for 04/25/2019 Thu, 25 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Although Robert Mueller filed his massive report with the Justice Department, the special counsel must have known he was actually forwarding an impeachment referral to Congress. Between his decision to forgo a criminal indictment of the president and his incriminating recital of the president's 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice, Mueller left no alternative &#8212; except an unthinkable dereliction that would place Trump beyond legal accountability and endow him with dictatorial power.</p> <p>And just in case he didn't make that difficult choice plain enough, Mueller delivered sharp reminders about congressional responsibility in dealing with such a figure in the White House.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 25, 2019</p> 6d2f4cfd271a636cbf7f0e96cc521410 If Trump Weren't POTUS, He Would Be Indicted for 04/18/2019 Thu, 18 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>If Donald Trump were the president of any private or public entity &#8212; if he were the president of anything, that is, except the United States &#8212; he would be under indictment today for obstruction of justice, intimidating witnesses and conspiracy, at a minimum. That is what the Mueller report, even in redacted form, tells us in no uncertain language.</p> <p>"No obstruction"? That's merely another Trump lie, repeated by his public relations flack, Bill Barr, who operates under the guise of the U.S. attorney general.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 18, 2019</p> b87d8f2947844ca5fdb8968a4e273730 Send a Subpoena to Mar-a-Lago for 04/10/2019 Wed, 10 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>We were sitting on the patio at Mar-a-Lago, enjoying drinks and dinner with a few friends, when Donald Trump suddenly showed up.</p> <p>He scowled at me for a few seconds and then did a double take. Perhaps he was rattled to encounter on his own property a journalist whose skeptical coverage dated back to the era when Roy Cohn was still fixing politicians for him. (Back then, I wrote a weekly column in the hallowed pages of the Village Voice with Wayne Barrett, the nonpareil investigative reporter and Trump nemesis who is gone but by no means forgotten.)<p>Updated: Wed Apr 10, 2019</p> 96c43ab7fc76e00c771df435c05ae2bd We Need The Mueller Report, Not Barr's Spin Memo for 03/27/2019 Wed, 27 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Even in a moment of triumph, Donald Trump lied.</p> <p>Exulting over the summary findings of the Mueller report, as spun by his attorney general, William Barr, President Trump declared that the investigation found "no obstruction" and resulted in "complete and total exoneration." But according to Robert Mueller's own words, that boast is utterly false &#8212; especially with respect to a conspiracy to obstruct justice.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 27, 2019</p> 8cb5b62b68797af9c95956b5faa5fbf7 How To Stop Worrying About Socialism for 03/20/2019 Wed, 20 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When President Trump barks about socialism, he is probably thinking (and hopes you're thinking) of the dark, dank and dull version that oppressed the people of the old Soviet bloc. Republican media feeds, including his, currently feature "socialist" as the preferred insult, warning that Democrats aim to transform the United States into the decaying, authoritarian Venezuela.</p> <p>While such dystopian visions make for scary propaganda, does anyone really believe that the Democratic Party aims to deprive us all of food and medical care? The only politicians actually trying to take those goods away from some Americans are the Trump Republicans, with their incessant campaign to slash food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 20, 2019</p> 90546ac30a107f7aca3b10f9ba7f64ab The Ultimate Proof of Guilt for 03/14/2019 Thu, 14 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>No longer can there be any doubt that Paul Manafort expects Donald Trump to pardon him &#8212; and that Trump has encouraged that expectation in a broad strategy to obstruct the Russia investigation over the past two years.</p> <p>The signals emanating from Manafort's legal team over the past few days could scarcely have been clearer. Moments after Judge Amy Berman Jackson extended Manafort's federal prison time to seven and a half years, his lawyer, Kevin Downing, assured the assembled press outside the Washington courthouse that the judge's sentence indicated there had been "no collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia. Downing uttered that false statement just minutes after Judge Jackson had scolded him in court for making exactly the same irrelevant remark following Manafort's sentencing last week in Virginia.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 14, 2019</p> a86d5cb47ee0ecc750580ef20e336a42 What Was Good For Clinton Is Good for Trump for 03/07/2019 Thu, 07 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>When the Office of Special Counsel completes its assigned tasks and sends its findings to Attorney General William Barr, Americans will expect to learn what is in that document. Despite recurrent warnings that Barr can legally withhold some or even all of the Mueller report, those expectations of transparency must be fulfilled.</p> <p>The matters investigated by former FBI Director Robert Mueller are so fundamental to the national interest that there is no alternative to full disclosure. It is a need that outweighs Justice Department policy designed to safeguard the reputation of individuals who are investigated but not charged with any crime.</p> <p>Republicans seeking to protect Donald Trump from Mueller's most damaging findings may cite that traditional policy to argue that Barr should withhold most or all of the final report. But it is worth remembering how little attention was paid to such concerns when the partisan roles were reversed.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 07, 2019</p> 5d2a76786e20c7a3bcbff7766b2c6583 Cohen Embodies Trump's Sordid Career for 02/27/2019 Wed, 27 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Watching the Republicans strenuously berate Michael Cohen as he appeared before the House Oversight Committee, it was clear that they had no idea who this New York character is or what his testimony means. They couldn't grasp that further diminishing this already disgraced attorney could not separate him from the man he had represented for 10 years, and that denouncing him as a lying felon cannot rehabilitate the president &#8212; because the detestable Cohen so perfectly embodies the sordid world of Donald Trump.</p> <p>The Cohen moment on Capitol Hill inspired an almost eerie sense of deja vu in anyone who has ever watched a mob chieftain's trial or a congressional hearing on organized crime. With their exaggerated indignation and their recitations of witness lies and sins, the Republicans on the House panel sounded just like Mafia defense lawyers impugning a rat witness. And in their morality play, Cohen fit the role of a Mafia capo who has turned on his old boss.</p> <p>The timeworn strategy of discrediting an associate to exonerate the accused is rarely effective, however, for a very simple reason routinely explained by federal prosecutors: Convicting a bad guy almost always requires the testimony of another bad guy, because nobody else has firsthand knowledge of the crimes in question. Just look up the trial of the late John Gotti, or the Senate hearings on organized-crime influence on labor unions &#8212; where the key witnesses had perpetrated crimes far worse than tax evasion or bank fraud.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 28, 2019</p>