Paul Ekman — Telling Lies: Clues To Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics and Marriage –Pamela Meyer — Lie Spotting — Stan B. Walters — The Truth About Lying: How to Spot a Lie and Protect Yourself from Deception –From Lie Spotting To Truth Seeking — Big Lie Media and Lying Lunatic Left Losers — Videos

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Paul Ekman — Telling Lies: Clues To Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics and Marriage — Pamela Meyer — Lie Spotting — Stan B. Walters — The Truth About Lying: How to Spot a Lie and Protect Yourself from Deception –From Lie Spotting To Truth Seeking — Big Lie Media and Lying Lunatic Left Losers — Videos

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Paul Ekman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Paul Ekman
Paulekman bio.jpg
Born February 15, 1934 (age 83)
Washington, D.C.
Residence United States
Known for MicroexpressionsLie to Me
Spouse(s) Mary Ann Mason, J.D., Ph.D.
Awards Named by the American Psychological Association as one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century based on publications, citations and awards (2001)
Honorary Degree, University of Fernando Pessoa, Portugal (2007)
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Adelphi University (2008)
Honorary Degree, University of Geneva, Switzerland (2008)
Named of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine (2009)
Honorary Degree, Lund University, Sweden (2011)
Scientific career
Fields Psychology
Anthropology
Doctoral advisor John Amsden Starkweather
Influences Charles DarwinSilvan Tomkins

Paul Ekman (born February 15, 1934) is an American psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco who is a pioneer in the study of emotions and their relation to facial expressions. He has created an “atlas of emotions” with more than ten thousand facial expressions, and has gained a reputation as “the best human lie detector in the world”.[1]

He was ranked 59th out of the 100 most cited psychologists of the twentieth century.[2] Ekman conducted seminal research on the specific biological correlations of specific emotions, demonstrating the universality and discreteness of emotions in a Darwinian approach.[3][4]

Biography

External video
 Conversations with History: Paul Ekman on YouTubeUniversity of California Television, 58:00, April 2008

Childhood

Paul Ekman was born to Jewish parents[5] in 1934 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in New JerseyWashingtonOregon, and California. His father was a pediatrician and his mother was an attorney. His sister, Joyce Steingart, is a psychoanalytic psychologist who before her retirement practiced in New York City.[6]

Ekman originally wanted to be a psychotherapist, but when he was drafted into the army in 1958 he found that research could change army routines, making them more humane. This experience converted him from wanting to be a psychotherapist to wanting to be a researcher, in order to help as many people as possible.[7]

Education

At the age of 15, without graduating from high school, Paul Ekman enrolled at the University of Chicago where he completed three years of undergraduate study. During his time in Chicago he was fascinated by group therapysessions and understanding group dynamics. Notably, his classmates at Chicago included writer Susan Sontag, film director Mike Nichols, and actress Elaine May.[8]

He then studied two years at New York University (NYU), earning his BA in 1954.[4] The subject of his first research project, under the direction of his NYU professor, Margaret Tresselt, was an attempt to develop a test of how people would respond to group therapy.[9]

Next, Ekman was accepted into the Adelphi University graduate program for clinical psychology.[9] While working for his master’s degree, Ekman was awarded a predoctoral research fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1955.[9] His Master’s thesis was focused on facial expression and body movement he had begun to study in 1954.[9] Ekman eventually went on to receive his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Adelphi University in 1958, after a one-year internship at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute.[9][10]

Military service

Ekman was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1958 to serve 2 years as soon as his internship at Langley Porter was finished.[9] He served as first lieutenant-chief psychologist, at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he did research on army stockades and psychological changes during infantry basic training.[9][11][12][13]

Career

Upon completion of military service in 1960, he accepted a position as a research associate with Leonard Krasner at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital, working on a grant focused on the operant conditioning of verbal behavior in psychiatric patients. Ekman also met anthropologist Gregory Bateson in 1960 who was on the staff of the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital. Five years later, Gregory Bateson gave Paul Ekman motion picture films taken in Bali in the mid-1930s to help Ekman with cross-cultural studies of expression and gesture.[9]

From 1960 to 1963, Ekman was supported by a post doctoral fellowship from NIMH. He submitted his first research grant through San Francisco State College with himself as the principal investigator (PI) at the young age of 29.[14] He received this grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1963 to study nonverbal behaviour. This award would be continuously renewed for the next 40 years and would pay his salary until he was offered a professorship at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 1972.

Encouraged by his college friend and teacher Silvan S. Tomkins, Ekman shifted his focus from body movement to facial expressions. He wrote his most famous book, Telling Lies, and published it in 1985. The 4th edition is still in print. He retired in 2004 as professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). From 1960 to 2004 he also worked at the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute on a limited basis consulting on various clinical cases.

After retiring from the University of California, San Francisco, Paul Ekman founded the Paul Ekman Group (PEG) and Paul Ekman International.[15] The Paul Ekman Group, “develops and offers online emotional skills-building programs such as the Micro Expression Training Tool, offers workshops, supports researchers in our field, and builds online community around these topics.” They do not take individual cases.[16] Also, PEG offers a micro expression and subtle expression training tool for sale on their website.[17]

Media

In 2001, Ekman collaborated with John Cleese for the BBC documentary series The Human Face.[18]

His work is frequently referred to in the TV series Lie to Me.[19] Dr. Lightman is based on Paul Ekman, and Ekman served as a scientific adviser for the series; he read and edited the scripts and sent video clip-notes of facial expressions for the actors to imitate. While Ekman has written 15 books, the series Lie to Me has more effectively brought Ekman’s research into people’s homes.[19] Lie to Me has aired in more than 60 countries.[20]

He has also collaborated with Pixar‘s film director and animator Pete Docter in preparation of his 2015 film Inside Out.[21] Ekman also wrote a parent’s guide to using Inside Out to help parents talk with their children about emotion, which can be found on his personal website http://www.paulekman.com.

Influence

He was named one of the top Time 100 most influential people in the May 11, 2009 edition of Time magazine.[22] He was also ranked fifteenth among the most influential psychologists of the 21st century in 2014 by the journal Archives of Scientific Psychology.[23] He is currently on the Editorial Board of Greater Good magazine, published by the Greater Good Science Center of the University of California, Berkeley. His contributions include the interpretation of scientific research into the roots of compassion, altruism, and peaceful human relationships.[24]

Research work

Measuring nonverbal communication

Ekman’s interest in nonverbal communication led to his first publication in 1957, describing how difficult it was to develop ways of empirically measuring nonverbal behaviour.[25] He chose the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, the psychiatry department of the University of California Medical School, for his clinical internship partly because Jurgen Ruesch and Weldon Kees had recently published a book called Nonverbal Communication (1956).[9][26][27]

Ekman then focused on developing techniques for measuring nonverbal communication. He found that facial muscular movements that created facial expressions could be reliably identified through empirical research. He also found that human beings are capable of making over 10,000 facial expressions; only 3,000 relevant to emotion.[28] Psychologist Silvan Tomkins convinced Ekman to extend his studies of nonverbal communication from body movement to the face, helping him design his classic cross-cultural emotion recognition studies.[29] Interestingly enough, Tomkins also supervised Carroll Izard at the same time, fostering a similar interest in emotion through cross-cultural research.

Emotions as universal categories

In The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals published in 1872, Charles Darwin theorized that emotions were evolved traits universal to the human species. However, the prevalent belief during the 1950s, particularly among anthropologists, was that facial expressions and their meanings were determined through behavioural learning processes. A prominent advocate of the latter perspective was the anthropologist Margaret Mead who had travelled to different countries examining how cultures communicated using nonverbal behaviour.

Through a series of studies, Ekman found a high agreement across members of diverse Western and Eastern literate cultures on selecting emotional labels that fit facial expressions. Expressions he found to be universal included those indicating wrath, grossness, scaredness, joy, loneliness, and shock. Findings on contempt were less clear, though there is at least some preliminary evidence that this emotion and its expression are universally recognized.[30] Working with his long-time friend Wallace V. Friesen, Ekman demonstrated that the findings extended to preliterate Fore tribesmen in Papua New Guinea, whose members could not have learned the meaning of expressions from exposure to media depictions of emotion.[31] Ekman and Friesen then demonstrated that certain emotions were exhibited with very specific display rules, culture-specific prescriptions about who can show which emotions to whom and when. These display rules could explain how cultural differences may conceal the universal effect of expression.[32]

In the 1990s, Ekman proposed an expanded list of basic emotions, including a range of positive and negative emotions that are not all encoded in facial muscles.[33] The newly included emotions are: AmusementContemptContentmentEmbarrassmentExcitementGuiltPride in achievementReliefSatisfactionSensory pleasure, and Shame.[33]

Visual depictions of facial actions for studying emotion

Ekman’s famous test of emotion recognition was the Pictures of Facial Affect (POFA) stimulus set published in 1976. Consisting of 110 black and white images of Caucasian actors portraying the six universal emotions plus neutral expressions, the POFA has been used to study emotion recognition rates in normal and psychiatric populations around the world. Ekman used these stimuli in his original cross-cultural research. Many researchers favor the POFA because these photographs have been rated by large normative groups in different cultures. In response to critics, however, Ekman eventually released a more culturally diverse set of stimuli called the Japanese and Caucasian Facial Expressions of Emotion (JACFEE).[34]

By 1978, Ekman and Friesen had finalized and developed the Facial Action Coding System (FACS)[35] to taxonomize every human facial expression. FACS is an anatomically based system for describing all observable facial movement for every emotion. Each observable component of facial movement is called an action unit or AU and all facial expressions can be decomposed into their constituent core AUs.[36] An update of this tool came in the early 2000s.

Other tools have been developed, including the MicroExpressions Training Tool (METT), which can help individuals identify more subtle emotional expressions that occur when people try to suppress their emotions. Application of this tool includes helping people with Asperger’s or autism to recognize emotional expressions in their everyday interactions. The Subtle Expression Training Tool (SETT) teaches recognition of very small, micro signs of emotion. These are very tiny expressions, sometimes registering in only part of the face, or when the expression is shown across the entire face, but is very small. Subtle expressions occur for many reasons, for example, the emotion experienced may be very slight or the emotion may be just beginning. METT and SETT have been shown to increase accuracy in evaluating truthfulness.

Detecting deception

Ekman has contributed to the study of social aspects of lying, why we lie,[37] and why we are often unconcerned with detecting lies.[38] He first became interested in detecting lies while completing his clinical work. As detailed in Ekman’s Telling Lies, a patient he was involved in treating denied that she was suicidal in order to leave the hospital. Ekman began to review videotaped interviews to study people’s facial expressions while lying. In a research project along with Maureen O’Sullivan, called the Wizards Project (previously named the Diogenes Project), Ekman reported on facial “microexpressions” which could be used to assist in lie detection. After testing a total of 20,000 people[39] from all walks of life, he found only 50 people who had the ability to spot deception without any formal training. These naturals are also known as “Truth Wizards”, or wizards of deception detection from demeanor.[40]

In his profession, he also uses oral signs of lying. When interviewed about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he mentioned that he could detect that former President Bill Clinton was lying because he used distancing language.[41]

Contributions to the world’s understanding of emotion

In his 1993 seminal paper in the psychology journal American Psychologist, Ekman describes nine direct contributions that his research on facial expression has made to the understanding of emotion.[42] Highlights include:

  • Consideration of both nature and nurture: Emotion is now viewed as a physiological phenomenon influenced by our cultural and learning experiences.
  • Emotion-specific physiology: Ekman led the way by trying to find discrete psychophysiological differences across emotions. A number of researchers continue to search for emotion-specific autonomic and central nervous system activations. With the advent of neuroimaging techniques, a topic of intense interest revolves around how specific emotions relate to physiological activations in certain brain areas. Ekman laid the groundwork for the future field of affective neuroscience.
  • An examination of events that precede emotions: Ekman’s finding that voluntarily making one of the universal facial expressions can generate the physiology and some of the subjective experience of emotion provided some difficulty for some of the earlier theoretical conceptualizations of experiencing emotions.
  • Considering emotions as families: Ekman & Friesen (1978) found not one expression for each emotion, but a variety of related but visually different expressions. For example, the authors reported 60 variations of the anger expression which share core configurational properties and distinguish themselves clearly from the families of fearful expressions, disgust expressions, and so on. Variations within a family likely reflect the intensity of the emotion, how the emotion is controlled, whether it is simulated or spontaneous, and the specifics of the event that provoked the emotion.

Criticisms

Most credibility-assessment researchers agree that people are unable to visually detect lies.[43] The application of part of Ekman’s work to airport security via the Transportation Security Administration‘s “Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques” (SPOT) program has been criticized for not having been put through controlled scientific tests.[43] A 2007 report on SPOT stated that “simply put, people (including professional lie-catchers with extensive experience of assessing veracity) would achieve similar hit rates if they flipped a coin”.[44] Since controlled scientific tests typically involve people playing the part of terrorists, Ekman says those people are unlikely to have the same emotions as actual terrorists.[43] The methodology used by Ekman and O’Sullivan in their recent work on Truth wizards has also received criticism on the basis of validation.[45]

Other criticisms of Ekman’s work are based on experimental and naturalistic studies by several other emotion psychologists that did not find evidence in support of Ekman’s proposed taxonomy of discrete emotions and discrete facial expression.[46]

Ekman received hostility from some anthropologists at meetings of the American Psychological Association and the American Anthropological Association from 1967 to 1969. He recounted that, as he was reporting his findings on universality of expression, one anthropologist tried to stop him from finishing by shouting that his ideas were fascist. He compares this to another incident when he was accused of being racist by an activist for claiming that Black expressions are not different from White expressions. In 1975, Margaret Mead, an anthropologist, wrote against Ekman for doing “improper anthropology”, and for disagreeing with Ray Birdwhistell‘s claim opposing universality. Ekman wrote that, while many people agreed with Birdwhistell then, most came to accept his own findings over the next decade.[14] However, some anthropologists continued to suggest that emotions are not universal.[47] Ekman argued that there has been no quantitative data to support the claim that emotions are culture specific. In his 1993 discussion of the topic, Ekman states that there is no instance in which 70% or more of one cultural group select one of the six universal emotions while another culture group labels the same expression as another universal emotion.[42]

Ekman criticized the tendency of psychologists to base their conclusions on surveys of college students. Hank Campbell quotes Ekman saying at the Being Human conference, “We basically have a science of undergraduates.”[48]

The pioneer F-M Facial Action Coding System 2.0 (F-M FACS 2.0) [49] was created in 2017 by Dr. Freitas-Magalhães, and presents 2,000 segments in 4K, using 3D technology and automatic and real-time recognition.

Publications

  • Nonverbal messages: Cracking the Code ISBN 978-0-9915636-3-0
  • Emotional Awareness: Overcoming the Obstacles to Psychological Balance and Compassion (Times Books, 2008) ISBN 0-8050-8712-5
  • Unmasking the Face ISBN 1-883536-36-7
  • Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life (Times Books, 2003) ISBN 0-8050-7516-X
  • Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage (W. W. Norton & Company, 1985) ISBN 0-393-32188-6
  • What the Face Reveals (with Rosenberg, E. L., Oxford University Press, 1998) ISBN 0-19-510446-3
  • The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions (with R. Davidson, Oxford University Press, 1994) ISBN 0-19-508944-8
  • Darwin and Facial Expression: A Century of Research in Review ISBN 0-12-236750-2
  • Facial Action Coding System/Investigator’s ISBN 99936-26-61-9
  • Why Kids Lie: How Parents Can Encourage Truthfulness (Penguin, 1991) ISBN 0-14-014322-X
  • Handbook of Methods in Nonverbal Behavior Research ISBN 0-521-28072-9
  • Face of Man ISBN 0-8240-7130-1
  • Emotion in the Human Face ISBN 0-08-016643-1
  • Handbook of Cognition and Emotion (Sussex, UK John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 1999)

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Ekman

FBI launches new Clinton Foundation investigation

 The Justice Department has launched a new inquiry into whether the Clinton Foundation engaged in any pay-to-play politics or other illegal activities while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of State, law enforcement officials and a witness tells The Hill.

FBI agents from Little Rock, Ark., where the foundation was started, have taken the lead in the investigation and have interviewed at least one witness in the last month, and law enforcement officials said additional activities are expected in the coming weeks.

The officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the probe is examining whether the Clintons promised or performed any policy favors in return for largesse to their charitable efforts or whether donors made commitments of donations in hopes of securing government outcomes.

The probe may also examine whether any tax-exempt assets were converted for personal or political use and whether the foundation complied with applicable tax laws, the officials said.One witness recently interviewed by the FBI described the session to The Hill as “extremely professional and unquestionably thorough” and focused on questions about whether donors to Clinton charitable efforts received any favorable treatment from the Obama administration on a policy decision previously highlighted in media reports.

The witness discussed his interview solely on the grounds of anonymity. He said the agents were from Little Rock and their questions focused on government decisions and discussions of donations to Clinton entities during the time Hillary Clinton led President Obama’s State Department.

The FBI office in Little Rock referred a reporter Thursday to Washington headquarters, where officials declined any official comment.

Clinton’s chief spokesman, Nick Merrill, on Friday morning excoriated the FBI for re-opening the case, calling the probe “disgraceful” and suggesting it was nothing more than a political distraction from President Trump‘s Russia controversies.

“Let’s call this what it is: a sham,” Merrill said. “This is a philanthropy that does life-changing work, which Republicans have tried to turn into a political football. It began with a now long-debunked project spearheaded by Steve Bannon during the presidential campaign. It continues with Jeff Sessions doing Trump’s bidding by heeding his calls to meddle with a department that is supposed to function independently.”

Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian took a more muted response, saying the new probe wouldn’t distract the charity from its daily work.
“Time after time, the Clinton Foundation has been subjected to politically motivated allegations, and time after time these allegations have been proven false. None of this has made us waver in our mission to help people,” Minassian said. “The Clinton Foundation has demonstrably improved the lives of millions of people across America and around the world while earning top ratings from charity watchdog groups in the process.”

The Wall Street Journal reported late last year that several FBI field offices, including the one in Little Rock, had been collecting information on the Clinton Foundation for more than a year. The report also said there had been pushback to the FBI from the Justice Department.

A renewed law enforcement focus follows a promise to Congress late last year from top Trump Justice Department officials that law enforcement would revisit some of the investigations and legal issues closed during the Obama years that conservatives felt were given short shrift. It also follows months of relentless criticism on Twitter from President Trump, who has repeatedly questioned why no criminal charges were ever filed against the “crooked” Clintons and their fundraising machine.

For years, news media from The New York Times to The Daily Caller have reported countless stories on donations to the Clinton Foundation or speech fees that closely fell around the time of favorable decisions by Clinton’s State Department. Conservative author Peter Schweizer chronicled the most famous of episodes in his book “Clinton Cash” that gave ammunition to conservatives, including Trump, to beat the drum for a renewed investigation.

Several GOP members of Congress have recently urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to look at the myriad issues surrounding the Clintons. Justice officials sent a letter to Congress in November suggesting some of those issues were being re-examined, but Sessions later testified the appointment of a special prosecutor required a high legal bar that had not yet been met.

His decision was roundly criticized by Republicans, and recent revelations that his statement was watered down by edits and that he made the decision before all witness interviews were finished have led to renewed criticism.

A senior law enforcement official said the Justice Department was exploring whether any issues from that probe should be re-opened but cautioned the effort was not at the stage of a full investigation.

One challenge for any Clinton-era investigation is that the statute of limitations on most federal felonies is five years, and Clinton left office in early 2013.

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/367541-fbi-launches-new-clinton-foundation-investigation

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Breaking and Developing — Story 1: Rupert Murdoch and Michael Wolff Push President Trump’s Buttons and Trump Reacts As Predicted By Attacking Steven Bannon — White House of Con Games or Junk Journalism or Progressive Propaganda or Tabloid Trash? — Updated — Wolff Taped His Conversations With White House Employees — Trump Tries To Stop Publication of Book with Cease and Desist Letter Making Fire and Fury An Instant Best Seller! — Available Friday at 9 A.M. — Videos — Updated January 4 and 5, 2018

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Story 1: Rupert Murdoch and Michael Wolff Push President Trump’s Buttons and Trump Reacts As Predicted By Attacking Steven Bannon — White House of Con Games or Junk Journalism or Progressive Propaganda or Tabloid Trash? — Updated — Wolff Taped His Conversations With White House Employees — Trump Tries To Stop Publication of Book with Cease and Desist Letter Making Fire and Fury An Instant Best Seller! — Available Friday at 9 A.M. — Videos — Updated January 4 and 5, 2018

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The author of the explosive new Trump book says he can’t be sure if parts of it are true

michael wolffMichael Wolff, the author of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

  • “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” has set the political world ablaze.
  • It contains vivid, detailed, and embarrassing accounts of President Donald Trump and those around him.
  • But the book’s author, Michael Wolff, says he can’t be sure that all of it is true.

The author of the explosive new book about Donald Trump’s presidency acknowledged in an author’s note that he wasn’t certain all of its content was true.

Michael Wolff, the author of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” included a note at the start that casts significant doubt on the reliability of the specifics contained in the rest of its pages.

Several of his sources, he says, were definitely lying to him, while some offered accounts that flatly contradicted those of others.

But some were nonetheless included in the vivid account of the West Wing’s workings, in a process Wolff describes as “allowing the reader to judge” whether the sources’ claims are true.

Donald Trump January 4 2018

Donald Trump, seen at a meeting in the White House the day after elements of Wolff’s book began to be reported. AP

In other cases, the media columnist said, he did use his journalistic judgment and research to arrive at what he describes “a version of events I believe to be true.”

Here is the relevant part of the note, from the 10th page of the book’s prologue:

“Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. These conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book.

“Sometimes I have let the players offer their versions, in turn allowing the reader to judge them. In other instances I have, through a consistency in the accounts and through sources I have come to trust, settled on a version of events I believe to be true.”

The book itself, reviewed by Business Insider from a copy acquired prior to its Friday publication, is not always clear about what level of confidence the author has in any particular assertion.

Lengthy, private conversations are reported verbatim, as are difficult-to-ascertain details like what somebody was thinking or how the person felt.

Wolff attributes his book to “more than two hundred interviews” with people including Trump and “most members of his senior staff.” According to the news website Axios, Wolff has dozens of hours of tapes to back up what he said.

Claims contained in the book have been widely reported by the media in the US and further afield.

They include assertions that Trump never wanted to be president, that all of his senior staff considered him an idiot, that he tried to lock the Secret Service out of his room, and that he ate at McDonald’s to avoid being poisoned.

Business Insider rounded up some more of the most eye-catching claims in this article.

Trump, who sought to block publication of the book but was too late, tweeted Thursday that it was “full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist.”

I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, described the book as “complete fantasy.”

Asked to rebut specific points, she said: “I’m not going to waste my time or the country’s time going page by page and talking about a book that is complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip.”

Other people mentioned in the book have also disputed claims made about them.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who the book said warned Trump that he may be under surveillance from British spies, issued a statement describing the claim as “categorically absurd” and “simply untrue.”

Anna Wintour, the longtime Vogue editor, also dismissed the claim that she lobbied Trump to be his ambassador to the UK as “laughably preposterous.”

Other journalists have also urged caution. Some cited Wolff’s track record — questions were raised about his 2008 book on Rupert Murdoch — and others compared his claims with their own knowledge of the Trump White House.

On Friday morning, Wolff responded to claims about the accuracy of his book in an interivew with NBC’s “Today” show.

Host Savannah Guthrie asked him: “You stand by everything in the book? Nothing made up?”

He responded: “Absolutely everything in the book.”

Shortly after, he expanded, saying: “I am certainly and absolutely, in every way, comfortable with everything I’ve reported in this book.”

This isn’t necessarily at odds with what he said in the author’s note, as it allows for the possibility that he was told something untrue and repeated it without realising, or reached a wrong conclusion when presenting a version of contested events.

http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-wolff-note-says-he-doesnt-know-if-trump-book-is-all-true-2018-1

Trump legal team blasts explosive Michael Wolff book in cease-and-desist letter

President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Charles Harder, has demanded on behalf of his client that author Michael Wolff and his publisher immediately “cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination” of a forthcoming book, “Fire and Fury, according to a letter obtained by ABC News.

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The book is scheduled to be released next week but excerpts have caused a stir.

“We are investigating numerous false and/or baseless statements that you have made about Mr. Trump,” the lawyer wrote to Wolff.

The letter goes on to say they are looking into possible defamation of Trump and his family and invasion of privacy.

The lengthy letter to Wolff and Henry Holt and Co. Inc. goes on to accuse the author of actual malice.

PHOTO: Senior Advisor Jared Kusher, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump arrive at the start of a meeting, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in this file photo, Feb. 2, 2017, in Washington. Drew Angerer/Getty Images, FILE
Senior Advisor Jared Kusher, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump arrive at the start of a meeting, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in this file photo, Feb. 2, 2017, in Washington.more +

It states, “Actual malice (reckless disregard for the truth) can be proven by the fact that the Book admits in the Introduction that it contains untrue statements. Moreover, the Book appears to cite to no sources for many of its most damaging statements about Mr. Trump. Also, many of your so-called ‘sources’ have stated publicly that they never spoke to Mr. Wolff and/or never made the statements that are being attributed to them. Other alleged ‘sources’ of statements about Mr. Trump are believed to have no personal knowledge of the facts upon which they are making statements or are known to be unreliable and/or strongly biased against Mr. Trump.”

Harder sent a similar letter to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon Wednesday night demanding he cease and desist from making allegedly false statements against the president and his family.

Bannon has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

Henry Holt and Company the publisher of “Fire and Fury” told ABC News on Thursday, “We can confirm we received the Cease and Desist letter.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump hit back at Bannon in scathing comments, saying that when Bannon was fired “he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

PHOTO: President Donald Trump delivers remarks on Americas military involvement in Afghanistan at the Fort Myer military base, Aug. 21, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia.Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Donald Trump delivers remarks on America’s military involvement in Afghanistan at the Fort Myer military base, Aug. 21, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia.more +

President Trump’s comments, which came in the form of a written statement from the White House, were in response to Bannon’s strident criticism of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushnerand Paul Manafort for sitting down with a group of Russians who promised damaging information against Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election in excerpts from Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party,” the president said in a statement. “Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.”

Scoop: Wolff taped interviews with Bannon, top officials

  • Mike Allen

Michael Wolff interviews Kellyanne Conway at the Newseum in April. (AP’s Carolyn Kaster)

Michael Wolff has tapes to back up quotes in his incendiary book — dozens of hours of them.

Among the sources he taped, I’m told, are Steve Bannon and former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh.

  • So that’s going to make it harder for officials to deny embarrassing or revealing quotes attributed to them in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” out Tuesday.
  • In some cases, the officials thought they were talking off the record. But what are they going to do now?
  • Although the White House yesterday portrayed Wolff as a poseur, he spent hours at a time in private areas of the West Wing, including the office of Reince Priebus when he was chief of staff.
  • The White House says Wolff was cleared for access to the West Wing fewer than 20 times.
  • Wolff, a New Yorker, stayed at the Hay Adams Hotel when he came down to D.C., and White House sources frequently crossed Lafayette Park to meet him there.

Part of Wolff’s lengthy index entry for Bannon:

Some reporters and officials are calling the book sloppy, and challenging specific passages.

  • How could Wolff possibly know for sure what Steve Bannon and the late Roger Ailes said at a private dinner?
  • It turns out Wolff hosted the dinner for six at his Manhattan townhouse.

Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily morning newsletter, Axios AM.

https://www.axios.com/how-michael-wolff-did-it-2522360813.html

“You Can’t Make This S— Up”: My Year Inside Trump’s Insane White House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author and columnist Michael Wolff was given extraordinary access to the Trump administration and now details the feuds, the fights and the alarming chaos he witnessed while reporting what turned into a new book.

Editor’s Note: Author and Hollywood Reporter columnist Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (Henry Holt & Co.), is a detailed account of the 45th president’s election and first year in office based on extensive access to the White House and more than 200 interviews with Trump and senior staff over a period of 18 months. In advance of the Jan. 9 publication of the book, which Trump is already attacking, Wolff has written this extracted column about his time in the White House based on the reporting included in Fire and Fury.

interviewed Donald Trump for The Hollywood Reporter in June 2016, and he seemed to have liked — or not disliked — the piece I wrote. “Great cover!” his press assistant, Hope Hicks, emailed me after it came out (it was a picture of a belligerent Trump in mirrored sunglasses). After the election, I proposed to him that I come to the White House and report an inside story for later publication — journalistically, as a fly on the wall — which he seemed to misconstrue as a request for a job. No, I said. I’d like to just watch and write a book. “A book?” he responded, losing interest. “I hear a lot of people want to write books,” he added, clearly not understanding why anybody would. “Do you know Ed Klein?”— author of several virulently anti-Hillary books. “Great guy. I think he should write a book about me.” But sure, Trump seemed to say, knock yourself out.

Since the new White House was often uncertain about what the president meant or did not mean in any given utterance, his non-disapproval became a kind of passport for me to hang around — checking in each week at the Hay-Adams hotel, making appointments with various senior staffers who put my name in the “system,” and then wandering across the street to the White House and plunking myself down, day after day, on a West Wing couch.

The West Wing is configured in such a way that the anteroom is quite a thoroughfare — everybody passes by. Assistants — young women in the Trump uniform of short skirts, high boots, long and loose hair — as well as, in situation-comedy proximity, all the new stars of the show: Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Jared Kushner, Mike Pence, Gary Cohn, Michael Flynn (and after Flynn’s abrupt departure less than a month into the job for his involvement in the Russia affair, his replacement, H.R. McMaster), all neatly accessible.

The nature of the comedy, it was soon clear, was that here was a group of ambitious men and women who had reached the pinnacle of power, a high-ranking White House appointment — with the punchline that Donald Trump was president. Their estimable accomplishment of getting to the West Wing risked at any moment becoming farce.

A new president typically surrounds himself with a small group of committed insiders and loyalists. But few on the Trump team knew him very well — most of his advisors had been with him only since the fall. Even his family, now closely gathered around him, seemed nonplussed. “You know, we never saw that much of him until he got the nomination,” Eric Trump’s wife, Lara, told one senior staffer. If much of the country was incredulous, his staff, trying to cement their poker faces, were at least as confused.

Their initial response was to hawkishly defend him — he demanded it — and by defending him they seemed to be defending themselves. Politics is a game, of course, of determined role-playing, but the difficulties of staying in character in the Trump White House became evident almost from the first day.

“You can’t make this shit up,” Sean Spicer, soon to be portrayed as the most hapless man in America, muttered to himself after his tortured press briefing on the first day of the new administration, when he was called to justify the president’s inaugural crowd numbers — and soon enough, he adopted this as a personal mantra. Reince Priebus, the new chief of staff, had, shortly after the announcement of his appointment in November, started to think he would not last until the inauguration. Then, making it to the White House, he hoped he could last a respectable year, but he quickly scaled back his goal to six months. Kellyanne Conway, who would put a finger-gun to her head in private about Trump’s public comments, continued to mount an implacable defense on cable television, until she was pulled off the air by others in the White House who, however much the president enjoyed her, found her militancy idiotic. (Even Ivanka and Jared regarded Conway’s fulsome defenses as cringeworthy.)

Steve Bannon tried to gamely suggest that Trump was mere front man and that he, with plan and purpose and intellect, was, more reasonably, running the show — commanding a whiteboard of policies and initiatives that he claimed to have assembled from Trump’s off-the-cuff ramblings and utterances. His adoption of the Saturday Night Live sobriquet “President Bannon” was less than entirely humorous. Within the first few weeks, even rote conversations with senior staff trying to explain the new White House’s policies and positions would turn into a body-language ballet of eye-rolling and shrugs and pantomime of jaws dropping. Leaking became the political manifestation of the don’t-blame-me eye roll.

The surreal sense of the Trump presidency was being lived as intensely inside the White House as out. Trump was, for the people closest to him, the ultimate enigma. He had been elected president, that through-the-eye-of-the-needle feat, but obviously, he was yet … Trump. Indeed, he seemed as confused as anyone to find himself in the White House, even attempting to barricade himself into his bedroom with his own lock over the protests of the Secret Service.

There was some effort to ascribe to Trump magical powers. In an early conversation — half comic, half desperate — Bannon tried to explain him as having a particular kind of Jungian brilliance. Trump, obviously without having read Jung, somehow had access to the collective unconscious of the other half of the country, and, too, a gift for inventing archetypes: Little Marco … Low-Energy Jeb … the Failing New York Times. Everybody in the West Wing tried, with some panic, to explain him, and, sheepishly, their own reason for being here. He’s intuitive, he gets it, he has a mind-meld with his base. But there was palpable relief, of an Emperor’s New Clothes sort, when longtime Trump staffer Sam Nunberg — fired by Trump during the campaign but credited with knowing him better than anyone else — came back into the fold and said, widely, “He’s just a fucking fool.”

Part of that foolishness was his inability to deal with his own family. In a way, this gave him a human dimension. Even Donald Trump couldn’t say no to his kids. “It’s a littleee, littleee complicated …” he explained to Priebus about why he needed to give his daughter and son-in-law official jobs. But the effect of their leadership roles was to compound his own boundless inexperience in Washington, creating from the outset frustration and then disbelief and then rage on the part of the professionals in his employ.

The men and women of the West Wing, for all that the media was ridiculing them, actually felt they had a responsibility to the country. “Trump,” said one senior Republican, “turned selfish careerists into patriots.” Their job was to maintain the pretense of relative sanity, even as each individually came to the conclusion that, in generous terms, it was insane to think you could run a White House without experience, organizational structure or a real purpose.

White House: Trump Doesn’t Want Michael Wolff’s Book Published

On March 30, after the collapse of the health care bill, 32-year-old Katie Walsh, the deputy chief of staff, the effective administration chief of the West Wing, a stalwart political pro and stellar example of governing craft, walked out. Little more than two months in, she quit. Couldn’t take it anymore. Nutso. To lose your deputy chief of staff at the get-go would be a sign of crisis in any other administration, but inside an obviously exploding one it was hardly noticed.

While there might be a scary national movement of Trumpers, the reality in the White House was stranger still: There was Jared and Ivanka, Democrats; there was Priebus, a mainstream Republican; and there was Bannon, whose reasonable claim to be the one person actually representing Trumpism so infuriated Trump that Bannon was hopelessly sidelined by April. “How much influence do you think Steve Bannon has over me? Zero! Zero!” Trump muttered and stormed. To say that no one was in charge, that there were no guiding principles, not even a working org chart, would again be an understatement. “What do these people do?” asked everyone pretty much of everyone else.

The competition to take charge, which, because each side represented an inimical position to the other, became not so much a struggle for leadership, but a near-violent factional war. Jared and Ivanka were against Priebus and Bannon, trying to push both men out. Bannon was against Jared and Ivanka and Priebus, practicing what everybody thought were dark arts against them. Priebus, everybody’s punching bag, just tried to survive another day. By late spring, the larger political landscape seemed to become almost irrelevant, with everyone focused on the more lethal battles within the White House itself. This included screaming fights in the halls and in front of a bemused Trump in the Oval Office (when he was not the one screaming himself), together with leaks about what Russians your opponents might have been talking to.

Reigning over all of this was Trump, enigma, cipher and disruptor. How to get along with Trump — who veered between a kind of blissed-out pleasure of being in the Oval Office and a deep, childish frustration that he couldn’t have what he wanted? Here was a man singularly focused on his own needs for instant gratification, be that a hamburger, a segment on Fox & Friends or an Oval Office photo opp. “I want a win. I want a win. Where’s my win?” he would regularly declaim. He was, in words used by almost every member of the senior staff on repeated occasions, “like a child.” A chronic naysayer, Trump himself stoked constant discord with his daily after-dinner phone calls to his billionaire friends about the disloyalty and incompetence around him. His billionaire friends then shared this with their billionaire friends, creating the endless leaks which the president so furiously railed against.

Read Donald Trump’s Full Legal Demand Over Michael Wolff’s Book

One of these frequent callers was Rupert Murdoch, who before the election had only ever expressed contempt for Trump. Now Murdoch constantly sought him out, but to his own colleagues, friends and family, continued to derisively ridicule Trump: “What a fucking moron,” said Murdoch after one call.

With the Comey firing, the Mueller appointment and murderous White House infighting, by early summer Bannon was engaged in an uninterrupted monologue directed to almost anyone who would listen. It was so caustic, so scabrous and so hilarious that it might form one of the great underground political treatises.

By July, Jared and Ivanka, who had, in less than six months, traversed from socialite couple to royal family to the most powerful people in the world, were now engaged in a desperate dance to save themselves, which mostly involved blaming Trump himself. It was all his idea to fire Comey! “The daughter,” Bannon declared, “will bring down the father.”

Priebus and Spicer were merely counting down to the day — and every day seemed to promise it would be the next day — when they would be out.

And, indeed, suddenly there were the 11 days of Anthony Scaramucci.

Scaramucci, a minor figure in the New York financial world, and quite a ridiculous one, had overnight become Jared and Ivanka’s solution to all of the White House’s management and messaging problems. After all, explained the couple, he was good on television and he was from New York — he knew their world. In effect, the couple had hired Scaramucci — as preposterous a hire in West Wing annals as any — to replace Priebus and Bannon and take over running the White House.

There was, after the abrupt Scaramucci meltdown, hardly any effort inside the West Wing to disguise the sense of ludicrousness and anger felt by every member of the senior staff toward Trump’s family and Trump himself. It became almost a kind of competition to demystify Trump. For Rex Tillerson, he was a moron. For Gary Cohn, he was dumb as shit. For H.R. McMaster, he was a hopeless idiot. For Steve Bannon, he had lost his mind.

Most succinctly, no one expected him to survive Mueller. Whatever the substance of the Russia “collusion,” Trump, in the estimation of his senior staff, did not have the discipline to navigate a tough investigation, nor the credibility to attract the caliber of lawyers he would need to help him. (At least nine major law firms had turned down an invitation to represent the president.)

There was more: Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions. It used to be inside of 30 minutes he’d repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories — now it was within 10 minutes. Indeed, many of his tweets were the product of his repetitions — he just couldn’t stop saying something.

By summer’s end, in something of a historic sweep — more usual for the end of a president’s first term than the end of his first six months — almost the entire senior staff, save Trump’s family, had been washed out: Michael Flynn, Katie Walsh, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon. Even Trump’s loyal, longtime body guard Keith Schiller — for reasons darkly whispered about in the West Wing — was out. Gary Cohn, Dina Powell, Rick Dearborn, all on their way out. The president, on the spur of the moment, appointed John Kelly, a former Marine Corps general and head of homeland security, chief of staff — without Kelly having been informed of his own appointment beforehand. Grim and stoic, accepting that he could not control the president, Kelly seemed compelled by a sense of duty to be, in case of disaster, the adult in the room who might, if needed, stand up to the president … if that is comfort.

As telling, with his daughter and son-in-law sidelined by their legal problems, Hope Hicks, Trump’s 29-year-old personal aide and confidant, became, practically speaking, his most powerful White House advisor. (With Melania a nonpresence, the staff referred to Ivanka as the “real wife” and Hicks as the “real daughter.”) Hicks’ primary function was to tend to the Trump ego, to reassure him, to protect him, to buffer him, to soothe him. It was Hicks who, attentive to his lapses and repetitions, urged him to forgo an interview that was set to open the 60 Minutes fall season. Instead, the interview went to Fox News’ Sean Hannity who, White House insiders happily explained, was willing to supply the questions beforehand. Indeed, the plan was to have all interviewers going forward provide the questions.

As the first year wound down, Trump finally got a bill to sign. The tax bill, his singular accomplishment, was, arguably, quite a reversal of his populist promises, and confirmation of what Mitch McConnell had seen early on as the silver Trump lining: “He’ll sign anything we put in front of him.” With new bravado, he was encouraging partisans like Fox News to pursue an anti-Mueller campaign on his behalf. Insiders believed that the only thing saving Mueller from being fired, and the government of the United States from unfathomable implosion, is Trump’s inability to grasp how much Mueller had on him and his family.

Steve Bannon was openly handicapping a 33.3 percent chance of impeachment, a 33.3 percent chance of resignation in the shadow of the 25th amendment and a 33.3 percent chance that he might limp to the finish line on the strength of liberal arrogance and weakness.

Donald Trump’s small staff of factotums, advisors and family began, on Jan. 20, 2017, an experience that none of them, by any right or logic, thought they would — or, in many cases, should — have, being part of a Trump presidency. Hoping for the best, with their personal futures as well as the country’s future depending on it, my indelible impression of talking to them and observing them through much of the first year of his presidency, is that they all — 100 percent — came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.

At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.

Happy first anniversary of the Trump administration.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/michael-wolff-my-insane-year-inside-trumps-white-house-1071504

Remember Who Michael Wolff Is

A March Madness-style bracket to find the most loathed man in media might include Rupert Murdoch biographer, movie theater scofflaw, and resident killjoy Michael Wolff as its No. 1 overall seed. The ornery press critic is, as Fox News’ Howard Kurtz once said with understatement, “rarely impressed by anyone other than himself.” And immediate reactions to the rollout of a new, likely overwritten book about the first year in Donald Trump’s White House are likely already feeding Wolff’s Vanity Fair-sized ego.

The PR tour for Wolff’s book, out Jan. 9, began in earnest on Wednesday. The Guardian, which got a copy “ahead of publication from a bookseller in New England,” wrote up Steve Bannon’s reaction to a Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians in 2016 contained in the book: “treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit.” Hours later, New York magazine reportedly pushed up its pre-planned publication of an excerpt that would be widely shared by political media types for its intimate retellings of Donald Trump’s cluelessness during the transition—Who’s John Boehner?—his apparent inability to make it to the Fourth Amendment during a lesson about the Constitution, and his reprimanding the White House’s housekeeping staff for picking his shirts up off the floor apparently against his wishes.

“Few people who knew Trump had illusions about him,” Wolff breathlessly writes. “That was his appeal: He was what he was. Twinkle in his eye, larceny in his soul.”

It’s hard to imagine what exactly that means. But it sounds fun and breezy while appearing to take no prisoners—classic Wolff fare. The published selections portray Trump as stupid and vindictive, his aides as basically good-faith underlings struggling to manage a walking, talking national security threat. And New York included a lengthy editor’s note on how The Hollywood Reporter contributing editor landed such fly-on-the-wall accounts, which included extensive direct quotations:

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Wolff says, he was able to take up “something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing”—an idea encouraged by the president himself. Because no one was in a position to either officially approve or formally deny such access, Wolff became “more a constant interloper than an invited guest.” There were no ground rules placed on his access, and he was required to make no promises about how he would report on what he witnessed.

Since then, he conducted more than 200 interviews. In true Trumpian fashion, the administration’s lack of experience and disdain for political norms made for a hodgepodge of journalistic challenges. Information would be provided off-the-record or on deep background, then casually put on the record. Sources would fail to set any parameters on the use of a conversation, or would provide accounts in confidence, only to subsequently share their views widely. And the president’s own views, private as well as public, were constantly shared by others.

These are the type of lax ground rules that allow writers plenty of wiggle room—the type of which Wolff has long been known to take full advantage, at times with questionably accurate results. The difference is that the people in Trump’s orbit are likely even less reliable sources than many of his past subjects.

Wolff’s 1998 book about pursuing digital riches, Burn Rate, was met by largely positive reviews in the midst of the dot-com bubble. But longtime press critic Jack Shafer—perhaps as close to a defender as Wolff has—also wondered in his take for Slate whether Wolff’s nitty-gritty details could be trusted:

Wolff exploits the human tendency to confuse frankness and cruelty with truth-telling. And by repeatedly reminding the reader of what a dishonest, scheming little shit he is, he seeks to inflate his credibility. A real liar wouldn’t tell you that he’s a liar as Wolff does, would he? The wealth of verbatim quotations—constituting a good third of this book—also enhances Burn Rate’s verisimilitude. But should it? Wolff writes that he jotted down bits of dialogue on his legal pads during meetings while others composed to-do lists. Not to accuse anyone of Stephen Glassism, but I’d love to see Wolff post those copious notes on his promotional Web site, www.burnrate.com.

Michelle Cottle made similar observations in a 2004 profile for the New Republic, published when Wolff was a media writer at Vanity Fair, tut-tutting him as “neither as insightful nor as entertaining when dissecting politics.” She continued:

Much to the annoyance of Wolff’s critics, the scenes in his columns aren’t recreated so much as created—springing from Wolff’s imagination rather than from actual knowledge of events. Even Wolff acknowledges that conventional reporting isn’t his bag. Rather, he absorbs the atmosphere and gossip swirling around him at cocktail parties, on the street, and especially during those long lunches at Michael’s….“His great gift is the appearance of intimate access,” says an editor who has worked with Wolff. “He is adroit at making the reader think that he has spent hours and days with his subject, when in fact he may have spent no time at all.”

Even the late David Carr, would-be reverend of the media class from his New York Times pulpit, wrote that “Wolff has never distinguished himself as a reporter” when reviewing his 2008 Murdoch biography, The Man Who Owns The News. “Over the years, Carr wrote, “he has succeeded in cutting through the clutter by being far less circumspect—and sometimes more vicious—than other journalists, whom he views as archaic losers about to go the way of the Walkman.” Factual errors be damned, Carr added with a begrudging thumbs-up, for “Wolff prefers the purity of his constructs.”

That approach would seem to be even more dangerous with a book sold as an “inside story” of a White House that has proven atrocious at narrating its own story with any grasp of the truth. Since the selections of Wolff’s book have dropped, administration officials trotted out the usual cries of false anecdotes and fake sources—usually a good sign for those in search of the facts. But journalists have already started poking holes in some of the juicier aspects of Wolff’s account. Just one example: a simple Google search proves Trump has previously spoken about Boehner at length, making the notion that he would respond “Who?” to a mention of the former House Speaker feel dubious at best. But such details are what gets shared or aggregated, often uncritically.

None of that is to say that Fire and Fury won’t be an entertaining read. Wolff has been a frequent critic of the media’s Trump coverage, lambasting the press earlier this year for portraying Trump as “an inept and craven sociopath.” He’s also spoken in favor of journalists acting only as stenographers. Those may have been sly plays to get greater access to the Trump Administration before biting its hand en route to a bestseller.

But if these early excerpts are any indication, Wolff’s turn at stenography led to the same basic observations as everybody else—that the administration is chock full of back-stabbing, out-of-their-depth staffers washed up from a campaign that no one, even the man who’s now president, expected to win. The fact that the internet has latched onto so many of these colorful—if only “notionally accurate,” anecdotes—may say less about Wolff, that much-hated media man, than it does about the rest of us.

https://splinternews.com/remember-who-michael-wolff-is-1821749209

Trump Tower meeting with Russians ‘treasonous’, Bannon says in explosive book

 Steve Bannon exits an elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower on 11 November 2016 in New York City.
 Steve Bannon exits an elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower on 11 November 2016 in New York City. Other Trump campaign officials met with Russians there in June 2016. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, reportedly based on more than 200 interviews with the president, his inner circle and players in and around the administration, is one of the most eagerly awaited political books of the year. In it, Wolff lifts the lid on a White House lurching from crisis to crisis amid internecine warfare, with even some of Trump’s closest allies expressing contempt for him.

Bannon, who was chief executive of the Trump campaign in its final three months, then White House chief strategist for seven months before returning to the rightwing Breitbart News, is a central figure in the nasty, cutthroat drama, quoted extensively, often in salty language.

He is particularly scathing about a June 2016 meeting involving Trump’s son Donald Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, then campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York. A trusted intermediary had promised documents that would “incriminate” rival Hillary Clinton but instead of alerting the FBI to a potential assault on American democracy by a foreign power, Trump Jr replied in an email: “I love it.”

The meeting was revealed by the New York Times in July last year, prompting Trump Jr to say no consequential material was produced. Soon after, Wolff writes, Bannon remarked mockingly: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Bannon went on, Wolff writes, to say that if any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people”. Any information, he said, could then be “dump[ed] … down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication”.

Bannon added: “You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had.”

Bannon also speculated that Trump Jr had involved his father in the meeting. “The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed last May, following Trump’s dismissal of FBI director James Comey, to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election. This has led to the indictments of four members of Trump’s inner circle, including Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges; Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. In recent weeks Bannon’s Breitbart News and other conservative outlets have accused Mueller’s team of bias against the president.

Trump predicted in an interview with the New York Times last week that the special counsel was “going to be fair”, though he also said the investigation “makes the country look very bad”. The president and his allies deny any collusion with Russia and the Kremlin has denied interfering.

“You realise where this is going,” he is quoted as saying. “This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmannfirst and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”

Last month it was reported that federal prosecutors had subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank, the German financial institution that has lent hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kushner property empire. Bannon continues: “It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit. The Kushner shit is greasy. They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me.”

Scorning apparent White House insouciance, Bannon reaches for a hurricane metaphor: “They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.”

He insists that he knows no Russians, will not be a witness, will not hire a lawyer and will not appear on national television answering questions.

Fire and Fury will be published next week. Wolff is a prominent media critic and columnist who has written for the Guardian and is a biographer of Rupert Murdoch. He previously conducted interviews for the Hollywood Reporter with Trump in June 2016 and Bannon a few months later.

He told the Guardian in November that to research the book, he showed up at the White House with no agenda but wanting to “find out what the insiders were really thinking and feeling”. He enjoyed extraordinary access to Trump and senior officials and advisers, he said, sometimes at critical moments of the fledgling presidency.

The rancour between Bannon and “Javanka” – Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump – is a recurring theme of the book. Kushner and Ivanka are Jewish. Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state, is quoted as saying: “It is a war between the Jews and the non-Jews.”

Trump is not spared. Wolff writes that Thomas Barrack Jr, a billionaire who is one of the president’s oldest associates, allegedly told a friend: “He’s not only crazy, he’s stupid.” Barrack denied that to the New York Times.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/03/donald-trump-russia-steve-bannon-michael-wolff

Donald Trump Didn’t Want to Be President

One year ago: the plan to lose, and the administration’s shocked first days.

n the afternoon of November 8, 2016, Kellyanne Conway settled into her glass office at Trump Tower. Right up until the last weeks of the race, the campaign headquarters had remained a listless place. All that seemed to distinguish it from a corporate back office were a few posters with right-wing slogans.

Conway, the campaign’s manager, was in a remarkably buoyant mood, considering she was about to experience a resounding, if not cataclysmic, defeat. Donald Trump would lose the election — of this she was sure — but he would quite possibly hold the defeat to under six points. That was a substantial victory. As for the looming defeat itself, she shrugged it off: It was Reince Priebus’s fault, not hers.

She had spent a good part of the day calling friends and allies in the political world and blaming Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Now she briefed some of the television producers and anchors whom she had been carefully courting since joining the Trump campaign — and with whom she had been actively interviewing in the last few weeks, hoping to land a permanent on-air job after the election.

Even though the numbers in a few key states had appeared to be changing to Trump’s advantage, neither Conway nor Trump himself nor his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — the effective head of the campaign — ­wavered in their certainty: Their unexpected adventure would soon be over. Not only would Trump not be president, almost everyone in the campaign agreed, he should probably not be. Conveniently, the former conviction meant nobody had to deal with the latter issue.

As the campaign came to an end, Trump himself was sanguine. His ultimate goal, after all, had never been to win. “I can be the most famous man in the world,” he had told his aide Sam Nunberg at the outset of the race. His longtime friend Roger Ailes, the former head of Fox News, liked to say that if you want a career in television, first run for president. Now Trump, encouraged by Ailes, was floating rumors about a Trump network. It was a great future. He would come out of this campaign, Trump assured Ailes, with a far more powerful brand and untold opportunities.

“This is bigger than I ever dreamed of,” he told Ailes a week before the election. “I don’t think about losing, because it isn’t losing. We’ve totally won.”

From the start, the leitmotif for Trump about his own campaign was how crappy it was, and how everybody involved in it was a loser. In August, when he was trailing Hillary Clinton by more than 12 points, he couldn’t conjure even a far-fetched scenario for achieving an electoral victory. He was baffled when the right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer, a Ted Cruz backer whom Trump barely knew, offered him an infusion of $5 million. When Mercer and his daughter Rebekah presented their plan to take over the campaign and install their lieutenants, Steve Bannon and Conway, Trump didn’t resist. He only expressed vast incomprehension about why anyone would want to do that. “This thing,” he told the Mercers, “is so fucked up.”

Bannon, who became chief executive of Trump’s team in mid-August, called it “the broke-dick campaign.” Almost immediately, he saw that it was hampered by an even deeper structural flaw: The candidate who billed himself as a billionaire — ten times over — refused to invest his own money in it. Bannon told Kushner that, after the first debate in September, they would need another $50 million to cover them until Election Day.

“No way we’ll get 50 million unless we can guarantee him victory,” said a clear-eyed Kushner.

“Twenty-five million?” prodded Bannon.

“If we can say victory is more than likely.”

In the end, the best Trump would do is to loan the campaign $10 million, provided he got it back as soon as they could raise other money. Steve Mnuchin, the campaign’s finance chairman, came to collect the loan with the wire instructions ready to go so Trump couldn’t conveniently forget to send the money.

Most presidential candidates spend their entire careers, if not their lives from adolescence, preparing for the role. They rise up the ladder of elected offices, perfect a public face, and prepare themselves to win and to govern. The Trump calculation, quite a conscious one, was different. The candidate and his top lieutenants believed they could get all the benefits of almost becoming president without having to change their behavior or their worldview one whit. Almost everybody on the Trump team, in fact, came with the kind of messy conflicts bound to bite a president once he was in office. Michael Flynn, the retired general who served as Trump’s opening act at campaign rallies, had been told by his friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech. “Well, it would only be a problem if we won,” ­Flynn assured them.

Not only did Trump disregard the potential conflicts of his own business deals and real-estate holdings, he audaciously refused to release his tax returns. Why should he? Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.

Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears — and not of joy.

There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.

From the moment of victory, the Trump administration became a looking-glass presidency: Every inverse assumption about how to assemble and run a White House was enacted and compounded, many times over. The decisions that Trump and his top advisers made in those first few months — from the slapdash transition to the disarray in the West Wing — set the stage for the chaos and dysfunction that have persisted throughout his first year in office. This was a real-life version of Mel Brooks’s The Producers, where the mistaken outcome trusted by everyone in Trump’s inner circle — that they would lose the election — wound up exposing them for who they really were.

On the Saturday after the election, Trump received a small group of well-­wishers in his triplex apartment in Trump Tower. Even his close friends were still shocked and bewildered, and there was a dazed quality to the gathering. But Trump himself was mostly looking at the clock. Rupert Murdoch, who had promised to pay a call on the president-elect, was running late. When some of the guests made a move to leave, an increasingly agitated Trump assured them that Rupert was on his way. “He’s one of the greats, the last of the greats,” Trump said. “You have to stay to see him.” Not grasping that he was now the most powerful man in the world, Trump was still trying mightily to curry favor with a media mogul who had long disdained him as a charlatan and fool.

The day after the election, the bare-bones transition team that had been set up during the campaign hurriedly shifted from Washington to Trump Tower. The building — now the headquarters of a populist revolution —­ suddenly seemed like an alien spaceship on Fifth Avenue. But its otherworldly air helped obscure the fact that few in Trump’s inner circle, with their overnight responsibility for assembling a government, had any relevant experience.

Ailes, a veteran of the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush 41 administrations, tried to impress on Trump the need to create a White House structure that could serve and protect him. “You need a son of a bitch as your chief of staff,” he told Trump. “And you need a son of a bitch who knows Washington. You’ll want to be your own son of a bitch, but you don’t know Washington.” Ailes had a suggestion: John Boehner, who had stepped down as Speaker of the House only a year earlier.

“Who’s that?” asked Trump.

As much as the president himself, the chief of staff determines how the Executive branch — which employs 4 million people — will run. The job has been construed as deputy president, or even prime minister. But Trump had no interest in appointing a strong chief of staff with a deep knowledge of Washington. Among his early choices for the job was Kushner — a man with no political experience beyond his role as a calm and flattering body man to Trump during the campaign.

It was Ann Coulter who finally took the president-elect aside. “Nobody is apparently telling you this,” she told him. “But you can’t. You just can’t hire your children.”

Bowing to pressure, Trump floated the idea of giving the job to Steve Bannon, only to have the notion soundly ridiculed. Murdoch told Trump that Bannon would be a dangerous choice. Joe Scarborough, the former congressman and co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, told the president-elect that “Washington will go up in flames” if Bannon became chief of staff.

So Trump turned to Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, who had became the subject of intense lobbying by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If congressional leaders were going to have to deal with an alien like Donald Trump, then best they do it with the help of one of their own kind.

Jim Baker, chief of staff for both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and almost everybody’s model for managing the West Wing, advised Priebus not to take the job. Priebus had his own reservations: He had come out of his first long meeting with Trump thinking it had been a disconcertingly weird experience. Trump talked nonstop and constantly repeated himself.

“Here’s the deal,” a close Trump associate told Priebus. “In an hour meeting with him, you’re going to hear 54 minutes of stories, and they’re going to be the same stories over and over again. So you have to have one point to make, and you pepper it in whenever you can.”

But the Priebus appointment, announced in mid-November, put Bannon on a co-equal level to the new chief of staff. Even with the top job, Priebus would be a weak figure, in the traditional mold of most Trump lieutenants over the years. There would be one chief of staff in name — the unimportant one — and ­others like Bannon and Kushner, more important in practice, ensuring both chaos and Trump’s independence.

Priebus demonstrated no ability to keep Trump from talking to anyone who wanted his ear. The president-elect enjoyed being courted. On December 14, a high-level delegation from Silicon Valley came to Trump Tower to meet him. Later that afternoon, according to a source privy to details of the conversation, Trump called Rupert Murdoch, who asked him how the meeting had gone.

“Oh, great, just great,” said Trump. “These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.”

“Donald,” said Murdoch, “for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.”

“Take this H-1B visa issue. They really need these H-1B visas.”

Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America’s doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, “We’ll figure it out.”

“What a fucking idiot,” said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.

Steve Bannon, suddenly among the world’s most powerful men, was running late. It was the evening of January 3, 2017 — a little more than two weeks before Trump’s inauguration — and Bannon had promised to come to a small dinner arranged by mutual friends in a Greenwich Village townhouse to see Roger Ailes.

Snow was threatening, and for a while the dinner appeared doubtful. But the 76-year-old Ailes, who was as dumbfounded by his old friend Donald Trump’s victory as everyone else, understood that he was passing the right-wing torch to Bannon. Ailes’s Fox News, with its $1.5 billion in annual profits, had dominated Republican politics for two decades. Now Bannon’s Breit­bart News, with its mere $1.5 million in annual profits, was claiming that role. For 30 years, Ailes — until recently the single most powerful person in conservative ­politics — had humored and tolerated Trump, but in the end Bannon and Breitbart had elected him.

At 9:30, having extricated himself from Trump Tower, Bannon finally arrived at the dinner, three hours late. Wearing a disheveled blazer, his signature pairing of two shirts, and military fatigues, the unshaven, overweight 63-year-old immediately dived into an urgent download of information about the world he was about to take over.

“We’re going to flood the zone so we have every Cabinet member for the next seven days through their confirmation hearings,” he said of the business-and-military, 1950s-type Cabinet choices. “Tillerson is two days, Sessions is two days, Mattis is two days …”

Bannon veered from James “Mad Dog” ­Mattis — the retired four-star general whom Trump had nominated as secretary of Defense — to the looming appointment of Michael Flynn as national-security adviser. “He’s fine. He’s not Jim Mattis and he’s not John Kelly … but he’s fine. He just needs the right staff around him.” Still, Bannon averred: “When you take out all the Never Trump guys who signed all those letters and all the neocons who got us in all these wars … it’s not a deep bench.” Bannon said he’d tried to push John Bolton, the famously hawkish diplomat, for the job as national-security adviser. Bolton was an Ailes favorite, too.

“He’s a bomb thrower,” said Ailes. “And a strange little fucker. But you need him. Who else is good on Israel? Flynn is a little nutty on Iran. Tillerson just knows oil.”

“Bolton’s mustache is a problem,” snorted Bannon. “Trump doesn’t think he looks the part. You know Bolton is an acquired taste.”

“Well, he got in trouble because he got in a fight in a hotel one night and chased some woman.”

“If I told Trump that,” Bannon said slyly, “he might have the job.”

Bannon was curiously able to embrace Trump while at the same time suggesting he did not take him entirely seriously. Great numbers of people, he believed, were suddenly receptive to a new message — the world needs borders — and Trump had become the platform for that message.

“Does he get it?” asked Ailes suddenly, looking intently at Bannon. Did Trump get where history had put him?

Bannon took a sip of water. “He gets it,” he said, after hesitating for perhaps a beat too long. “Or he gets what he gets.”

Pivoting from Trump himself, Bannon plunged on with the Trump agenda. “Day one we’re moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s all-in. Sheldon” — Adelson, the casino billionaire and far-right Israel defender — “is all-in. We know where we’re heading on this … Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza. Let them deal with it. Or sink trying.”

“Where’s Donald on this?” asked Ailes, the clear implication being that Bannon was far out ahead of his benefactor.

“He’s totally onboard.”

“I wouldn’t give Donald too much to think about,” said an amused Ailes.

Bannon snorted. “Too much, too little — doesn’t necessarily change things.”

“What has he gotten himself into with the Russians?” pressed Ailes.

“Mostly,” said Bannon, “he went to Russia and he thought he was going to meet Putin. But Putin couldn’t give a shit about him. So he’s kept trying.”

Again, as though setting the issue of Trump aside — merely a large and peculiar presence to both be thankful for and to have to abide — Bannon, in the role he had conceived for himself, the auteur of the Trump presidency, charged forward. The real enemy, he said, was China. China was the first front in a new Cold War.

“China’s everything. Nothing else matters. We don’t get China right, we don’t get anything right. This whole thing is very simple. China is where Nazi Germany was in 1929 to 1930. The Chinese, like the Germans, are the most rational people in the world, until they’re not. And they’re gonna flip like Germany in the ’30s. You’re going to have a hypernationalist state, and once that happens, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”

“Donald might not be Nixon in China,” said Ailes, deadpan.

Bannon smiled. “Bannon in China,” he said, with both remarkable grandiosity and wry self-deprecation.

“How’s the kid?” asked Ailes, referring to Kushner.

“He’s my partner,” said Bannon, his tone suggesting that if he felt otherwise, he was nevertheless determined to stay on message.

“He’s had a lot of lunches with Rupert,” said a dubious Ailes.

“In fact,” said Bannon, “I could use your help here.” He then spent several minutes trying to recruit Ailes to help kneecap Murdoch. Since his ouster from Fox over allegations of sexual harassment, Ailes had become only more bitter toward Murdoch. Now Murdoch was frequently jawboning the president-elect and encouraging him toward Establishment moderation. Bannon wanted Ailes to suggest to Trump, a man whose many neuroses included a horror of senility, that Murdoch might be losing it.

“I’ll call him,” said Ailes. “But Trump would jump through hoops for Rupert. Like for Putin. Sucks up and shits down. I just worry about who’s jerking whose chain.”

Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.

The first senior staffer to enter the White House that day was Bannon. On the inauguration march, he had grabbed 32-year-old Katie Walsh, the newly appointed deputy chief of staff, and together they had peeled off to inspect the now-vacant West Wing. The carpet had been shampooed, but little else had changed. It was a warren of tiny offices in need of paint, the décor something like an admissions office at a public university. Bannon claimed the non­descript office across from the much grander chief of staff’s suite and immediately requisitioned the whiteboards on which he intended to chart the first 100 days of the Trump administration. He also began moving furniture out. The point was to leave no room for anyone to sit. Limit discussion. Limit debate. This was war.

Those who had worked on the campaign noticed the sudden change. Within the first week, Bannon seemed to have put away the camaraderie of Trump Tower and become far more remote, if not unreachable. “What’s up with Steve?” Kushner began to ask. “I don’t understand. We were so close.” Now that Trump had been elected, Bannon was already focused on his next goal: capturing the soul of the Trump White House.

He began by going after his enemies. Few fueled his rancor toward the standard-issue Republican world as much as Rupert ­Murdoch — not least because Murdoch had Trump’s ear. It was one of the key elements of Bannon’s understanding of Trump: The last person the president spoke to ended up with enormous influence. Trump would brag that Murdoch was always calling him; Murdoch, for his part, would complain that he couldn’t get Trump off the phone.

“He doesn’t know anything about American politics, and has no feel for the American people,” Bannon told Trump, always eager to point out that Murdoch wasn’t an American. Yet in one regard, Murdoch’s message was useful to Bannon. Having known every president since Harry ­Truman — as Murdoch took frequent opportunities to point out — the media mogul warned Trump that a president has only six months, max, to set his agenda and make an impact. After that, it was just putting out fires and battling the opposition.

This was the message whose urgency Bannon had been trying to impress on an often distracted Trump, who was already trying to limit his hours in the office and keep to his normal golf habits. Bannon’s strategic view of government was shock and awe. In his head, he carried a set of decisive actions that would not just mark the new administration’s opening days but make it clear that nothing ever again would be the same. He had quietly assembled a list of more than 200 executive orders to issue in the first 100 days. The very first EO, in his view, had to be a crackdown on immigration. After all, it was one of Trump’s core campaign promises. Plus, Bannon knew, it was an issue that made liberals batshit mad.

Bannon could push through his agenda for a simple reason: because nobody in the administration really had a job. Priebus, as chief of staff, had to organize meetings, hire staff, and oversee the individual offices in the Executive-branch departments. But Bannon, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump had no specific responsibilities — they did what they wanted. And for Bannon, the will to get big things done was how big things got done. “Chaos was Steve’s strategy,” said Walsh.

On Friday, January 27 — only his eighth day in office — Trump signed an executive order issuing a sweeping exclusion of many Muslims from the United States. In his mania to seize the day, with almost no one in the federal government having seen it or even been aware of it, Bannon had succeeded in pushing through an executive order that overhauled U.S. immigration policy while bypassing the very agencies and personnel responsible for enforcing it.

The result was an emotional outpouring of horror and indignation from liberal media, terror in immigrant communities, tumultuous protests at major airports, confusion throughout the government, and, in the White House, an inundation of opprobrium from friends and family. What have you done? You have to undo this! You’re finished before you even start! But Bannon was satisfied. He could not have hoped to draw a more vivid line between Trump’s America and that of liberals. Almost the entire White House staff demanded to know: Why did we do this on a Friday, when it would hit the airports hardest and bring out the most protesters?

“Errr … that’s why,” said Bannon. “So the snowflakes would show up at the airports and riot.” That was the way to crush the liberals: Make them crazy and drag them to the left.

On the Sunday after the immigration order was issued, Joe Scarborough and his Morning Joe co-host, Mika Brzezinski, arrived for lunch at the White House. Trump proudly showed them into the Oval Office. “So how do you think the first week has gone?” he asked the couple, in a buoyant mood, seeking flattery. When Scarborough ventured his opinion that the immigration order might have been handled better, Trump turned defensive and derisive, plunging into a long monologue about how well things had gone. “I could have invited Hannity!” he told Scarborough.

After Jared and Ivanka joined them for lunch, Trump continued to cast for positive impressions of his first week. Scarborough praised the president for having invited leaders of the steel unions to the White House. At which point Jared interjected that reaching out to unions, a Democratic constituency, was Bannon’s doing, that this was “the Bannon way.”

“Bannon?” said the president, jumping on his son-in-law. “That wasn’t Bannon’s idea. That was my idea. It’s the Trump way, not the Bannon way.”

Kushner, going concave, retreated from the discussion.

Trump, changing the topic, said to Scarborough and Brzezinski, “So what about you guys? What’s going on?” He was referencing their not-so-secret secret relationship. The couple said it was still complicated, but good.

“You guys should just get married,” prodded Trump.

“I can marry you! I’m an internet Unitarian minister,” Kushner, otherwise an Orthodox Jew, said suddenly.

“What?” said the president. “What are you talking about? Why would they want you to marry them when could marry them? When they could be married by the president! At Mar-a-Lago!”

The First Children couple were having to navigate Trump’s volatile nature just like everyone else in the White House. And they were willing to do it for the same reason as everyone else — in the hope that Trump’s unexpected victory would catapult them into a heretofore unimagined big time. Balancing risk against reward, both Jared and Ivanka decided to accept roles in the West Wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. It was a joint decision by the couple, and, in some sense, a joint job. Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.

Bannon, who had coined the term “Jarvanka” that was now in ever greater use in the White House, was horrified when the couple’s deal was reported to him. “They didn’t say that?” he said. “Stop. Oh, come on. They didn’t actually say that? Please don’t tell me that. Oh my God.”

The truth was, Ivanka and Jared were as much the chief of staff as Priebus or Bannon, all of them reporting directly to the president. The couple had opted for formal jobs in the West Wing, in part because they knew that influencing Trump required you to be all-in. From phone call to phone call — and his day, beyond organized meetings, was almost entirely phone calls — you could lose him. He could not really converse, not in the sense of sharing information, or of a balanced back-and-forth conversation. He neither particularly listened to what was said to him nor particularly considered what he said in response. He demanded you pay him attention, then decided you were weak for groveling. In a sense, he was like an instinctive, pampered, and hugely successful actor. Everybody was either a lackey who did his bidding or a high-ranking film functionary trying to coax out his performance — without making him angry or petulant.

Ivanka maintained a relationship with her father that was in no way conventional. She was a helper not just in his business dealings, but in his marital realignments. If it wasn’t pure opportunism, it was certainly transactional. For Ivanka, it was all business — building the Trump brand, the presidential campaign, and now the White House. She treated her father with a degree of detachment, even irony, going so far as to make fun of his comb-over to others. She often described the mechanics behind it to friends: an absolutely clean pate — a contained island after scalp-reduction ­surgery — surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray. The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men — the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump’s orange-blond hair color.

Kushner, for his part, had little to no success at trying to restrain his father-in-law. Ever since the transition, Jared had been negotiating to arrange a meeting at the White House with Enrique Peña Nieto, the Mexican president whom Trump had threatened and insulted throughout the campaign. On the Wednesday after the inauguration, a high-level Mexican delegation — the first visit by any foreign leaders to the Trump White House — met with Kushner and Reince Priebus. That afternoon, Kushner triumphantly told his father-in-law that Peña Nieto had signed on to a White House meeting and planning for the visit could go forward.

The next day, on Twitter, Trump blasted Mexico for stealing American jobs. “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall,” the president declared, “then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” At which point Peña Nieto did just that, leaving Kushner’s negotiation and statecraft as so much scrap on the floor.

Nothing contributed to the chaos and dysfunction of the White House as much as Trump’s own behavior. The big deal of being president was just not apparent to him. Most victorious candidates, arriving in the White House from ordinary political life, could not help but be reminded of their transformed circumstances by their sudden elevation to a mansion with palacelike servants and security, a plane at constant readiness, and downstairs a retinue of courtiers and advisers. But this wasn’t that different from Trump’s former life in Trump Tower, which was actually more commodious and to his taste than the White House.

Trump, in fact, found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary. He retreated to his own bedroom — the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms. In the first days, he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room. He ­reprimanded the housekeeping staff for picking up his shirt from the floor: “If my shirt is on the floor, it’s because I want it on the floor.” Then he imposed a set of new rules: Nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush. (He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.) Also, he would let housekeeping know when he wanted his sheets done, and he would strip his own bed.

If he was not having his 6:30 dinner with Steve Bannon, then, more to his liking, he was in bed by that time with a cheeseburger, watching his three screens and making phone calls — the phone was his true contact point with the world — to a small group of friends, who charted his rising and falling levels of agitation through the evening and then compared notes with one another.

As details of Trump’s personal life leaked out, he became obsessed with identifying the leaker. The source of all the gossip, however, may well have been Trump himself. In his calls throughout the day and at night from his bed, he often spoke to people who had no reason to keep his confidences. He was a river of grievances, which recipients of his calls promptly spread to the ever-attentive media.

On February 6, in one of his seething, self-pitying, and unsolicited phone calls to a casual acquaintance, Trump detailed his bent-out-of-shape feelings about the relentless contempt of the media and the disloyalty of his staff. The initial subject of his ire was the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, whom he called “a nut job.” Gail Collins, who had written a Times column unfavorably comparing Trump to Vice-President Mike Pence, was “a moron.” Then, continuing under the rubric of media he hated, he veered to CNN and the deep disloyalty of its chief, Jeff Zucker.

Zucker, who as the head of entertainment at NBC had commissioned The Apprentice, had been “made by Trump,” Trump said of himself in the third person. He had “personally” gotten Zucker his job at CNN. “Yes, yes, I did,” said the president, launching into a favorite story about how he had once talked Zucker up at a dinner with a high-ranking executive from CNN’s parent company. “I probably shouldn’t have, because Zucker is not that smart,” Trump lamented, “but I like to show I can do that sort of thing.” Then Zucker had returned the favor by airing the “unbelievably disgusting” story about the Russian “dossier” and the “golden shower” — the practice CNN had accused him of being party to in a Moscow hotel suite with assorted prostitutes.

Having dispensed with Zucker, the president of the United States went on to speculate on what was involved with a golden shower. And how this was all just part of a media campaign that would never succeed in driving him from the White House. Because they were sore losers and hated him for winning, they spread total lies, 100 percent made-up things, totally untrue, for instance, the cover that week of Time magazine — which, Trump reminded his listener, he had been on more than anyone in ­history — that showed Steve Bannon, a good guy, saying he was the real president. “How much influence do you think Steve Bannon has over me?” Trump demanded. He repeated the question, then repeated the answer: “Zero! Zero!” And that went for his son-in-law, too, who had a lot to learn.

The media was not only hurting him, he said — he was not looking for any agreement or even any response — but hurting his negotiating capabilities, which hurt the nation. And that went for Saturday Night Live, which might think it was very funny but was actually hurting everybody in the country. And while he understood that SNL was there to be mean to him, they were being very, very mean. It was “fake comedy.” He had reviewed the treatment of all other presidents in the media, and there was nothing like this ever, even of Nixon, who was treated very unfairly. “Kellyanne, who is very fair, has this all documented. You can look at it.”

The point is, he said, that that very day, he had saved $700 million a year in jobs that were going to Mexico, but the media was talking about him wandering around the White House in his bathrobe, which “I don’t have because I’ve never worn a bathrobe. And would never wear one, because I’m not that kind of guy.” And what the media was doing was undermining this very dignified house, and “dignity is so important.” But Murdoch, “who had never called me, never once,” was now calling all the time. So that should tell people something.

The call went on for 26 minutes.

Without a strong chief of staff at the White House, there was no real up-and-down structure in the administration—merely a figure at the top and everyone else scrambling for his attention. It wasn’t task-based so much as response-oriented — whatever captured the boss’s attention focused everybody’s attention. Priebus and Bannon and Kushner were all fighting to be the power behind the Trump throne. And in these crosshairs was Katie Walsh, the deputy chief of staff.

Walsh, who came to the White House from the RNC, represented a certain Republican ideal: clean, brisk, orderly, efficient. A righteous bureaucrat with a permanently grim expression, she was a fine example of the many political professionals in whom competence and organizational skills transcend ideology. To Walsh, it became clear almost immediately that “the three gentlemen running things,” as she came to characterize them, had each found his own way to appeal to the president. Bannon offered a rousing fuck-you show of force; Priebus offered flattery from the congressional leadership; Kushner offered the approval of blue-chip businessmen. Each appeal was exactly what Trump wanted from the presidency, and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t have them all. He wanted to break things, he wanted Congress to give him bills to sign, and he wanted the love and respect of New York machers and socialites.

As soon as the campaign team had stepped into the White House, Walsh saw, it had gone from managing Trump to the expectation of being managed by him. Yet the president, while proposing the most radical departure from governing and policy norms in several generations, had few specific ideas about how to turn his themes and vitriol into policy. And making suggestions to him was deeply complicated. Here, arguably, was the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: He didn’t process information in any conventional sense. He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-­literate. He trusted his own expertise ­— no matter how paltry or irrelevant — more than anyone else’s. He was often confident, but he was just as often paralyzed, less a savant than a figure of sputtering and dangerous insecurities, whose instinctive response was to lash out and behave as if his gut, however confused, was in fact in some clear and forceful way telling him what to do. It was, said Walsh, “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”

By the end of the second week following the immigration EO, the three advisers were in open conflict with one another. For Walsh, it was a daily process of managing an impossible task: Almost as soon as she received direction from one of the three men, it would be countermanded by one or another of them.

“I take a conversation at face value and move forward with it,” she said. “I put what was decided on the schedule and bring in comms and build a press plan around it … And then Jared says, ‘Why did you do that?’ And I say, ‘Because we had a meeting three days ago with you and Reince and Steve where you agreed to do this.’ And he says, ‘But that didn’t mean I wanted it on the schedule …’ It almost doesn’t matter what anyone says: Jared will agree, and then it will get sabotaged, and then Jared goes to the president and says, see, that was Reince’s idea or Steve’s idea.”

If Bannon, Priebus, and Kushner were now fighting a daily war with one another, it was exacerbated by the running disinformation campaign about them that was being prosecuted by the president himself. When he got on the phone after dinner, he’d speculate on the flaws and weaknesses of each member of his staff. Bannon was disloyal (not to mention he always looks like shit). Priebus was weak (not to mention he was short — a midget). Kushner was a suck-up. Sean Spicer was stupid (and looks terrible too). Conway was a crybaby. Jared and Ivanka should never have come to Washington.

During that first month, Walsh’s disbelief and even fear about what was happening in the White House moved her to think about quitting. Every day after that became a countdown toward the moment she knew she wouldn’t be able to take it anymore. To Walsh, the proud political pro, the chaos, the rivalries, and the president’s own lack of focus were simply incomprehensible. In early March, not long before she left, she confronted Kushner with a simple request. “Just give me the three things the president wants to focus on,” she demanded. “What are the three priorities of this White House?”

It was the most basic question imaginable — one that any qualified presidential candidate would have answered long before he took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Six weeks into Trump’s presidency, Kushner was wholly without an answer.

“Yes,” he said to Walsh. “We should probably have that conversation.”

*Excerpted from Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff (Henry Holt and Co., January 9, 2018). This article appears in the January 8, 2018, issue of New York Magazine.

*This article has been updated to include more information from Wolff’s book about the nature of Trump’s conversation with the Mercers.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/michael-wolff-fire-and-fury-book-donald-trump.html

 

White House Bashes New Book On Trump: It’s ‘Trashy Tabloid Fiction’

President Donald Trump and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speak to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The White House was quick to dismiss a new book about President Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency on Wednesday after New York Magazine published an excerpt.

“This book is filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “Participating in a book that can only be described as trashy tabloid fiction exposes their sad desperate attempts at relevancy.”

The excerpt from Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” painted a picture of a chaotic campaign and White House run by staffers who were unprepared for their roles and who were constantly battling each other for Trump’s attention. The book also alleges that Melania Trump did not want Trump to win the White House and was upset when he won the race.

The first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, denied that account in a statement.

“The book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section. Mrs. Trump supported her husband’s decision to run for President and in fact, encouraged him to do so. She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did,” Grisham said.

Trump’s response to the book was less measured and specifically took aim at Steve Bannon, who told Wolff that the infamous Trump Tower meeting Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner attended with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in June 2016 was “treasonous,” per The Guardian. In a Wednesday statement, Trump said that Bannon had “lost his mind” and claimed that he did little to help Trump win the presidency.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/white-house-pushes-back-michael-wolff-book

 

Michael Wolff (journalist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Michael Wolff
Michael Wolff.jpg

Wolff in Rome, Italy (June 2008)
Born August 27, 1953 (age 64)
Occupation Columnist, Internet entrepreneur, television commentator
Nationality American
Alma mater Vassar CollegeColumbia University
Spouse Alison Anthoine
Website
www.newser.com

Michael Wolff (born August 27, 1953) is an American authoressayist, and journalist who is a regular columnist and contributor to USA Today, The Hollywood Reporter, and the UK edition of GQ.[1]

Early life

Michael Wolff was born in New Jersey, the son of Lewis A. Wolff, an advertising man, and Marguerite “Van” (Vanderwerf) Wolff (1925–2012), a newspaper reporter. He went to Columbia College of Columbia University in New York City. While a student at Columbia, he worked for The New York Times as a copy boy.

He published his first magazine article in the New York Times Magazine in 1974: a profile of Angela Atwood, a neighbor of his family. As a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, she helped kidnap Patricia Hearst. Shortly afterwards he left the Times and became a contributing writer to the New Times, a bi-weekly news magazine started by John Larsen and George Hirsch. Wolff’s first book was White Kids (1979), a collection of essays.

Career

After publishing his first book, Wolff received an advance to write a novel, which he never finished. A college friend, Steven J. Hueglin, who had become a successful Wall Street banker, asked for Wolff’s help in evaluating investments in media companies. He pulled him into a career as a media business entrepreneur.[citation needed]

In 1988, Wolff took over the management of the magazine Campaigns & Elections. He became involved in advising start-up magazines, including Wired. He also raised financing for media companies and new businesses.[citation needed]

In 1991, he launched Michael Wolff & Company, Inc., specializing in book-packaging. Its first project, Where We Stand, was a book with a companion PBS series. The company’s next major project was creating one of the first guides to the Internet, albeit in book form. Net Guide was published by Random House.[2] On the eve of launching the title as a monthly magazine, the incipient magazine was bought by CMP Media, the publisher of computer magazines.[citation needed]

Wolff’s company continued to publish a succession of book-form Internet guides. In 1995, the company took a round of venture capital investment, with shareholders including Patricof & Co., the New York venture capitalfirm. It began to convert its print directories into a website and digital directory called Your Personal Network. At one point, the company was valued by bankers seeking to take the company public at more than $100 million. The venture collapsed in 1997, and Wolff was expelled from the company.[citation needed]

Return to writing

Wolff returned to writing, from which he had been absent for more than ten years, and recounted the details of the financing, positioning, personalities, and ultimate breakdown of a start-up Internet company. The book, Burn Rate, became a bestseller. Wolff briefly worked as a weekly columnist for The Industry Standard, an Internet trade magazine published by IDG.[3]

In August 1998, he was recruited by New York magazine to write a weekly column. Over the next six years, he wrote more than 300 columns, solidifying his reputation as provocative and knowledgeable writer about the media industry.[4] The entrepreneur Steven Brill, the media banker Steven Rattner, and the book publisher Judith Regan, were criticized by him.[5][6][7][8]

Wolff has been nominated for the National Magazine Award three times, winning twice.[9] His second National Magazine Award was for a series of columns he wrote from the media center in the Persian Gulf as the Iraq War started in 2003. His book, Autumn of the Moguls (2004), which predicted the mainstream media crisis that hit later in the decade, was based on many of his New York magazine columns.[10]

In 2004, when New York magazine’s owners, Primedia, Inc., put the title up for sale, Wolff helped assemble a group of investors, including New York Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, to back him in acquiring the magazine.[11][12] Although the group believed it had made a successful bid, Primedia decided to sell the magazine to the investment banker Bruce Wasserstein.[13]

In 2005, Wolff joined Vanity Fair as its media columnist.[14] In 2007, with Patrick Spain, the founder of Hoover’s, and Caroline Miller, the former editor-in-chief of New York magazine, he launched Newser, a news curator.[15]

That year, he also wrote a biography of Rupert MurdochThe Man Who Owns the News, based on more than 50 hours of conversation with Murdoch, and extensive access to his business associates and his family. The book was published in 2008.[16][17][not in citation given] That year he also began writing a daily column for Newser.[18]

In 2010, Wolff became editor of Adweek. He lasted in the job barely a year before stepping down.[19]

Wolff wrote Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which will be released on January 9, 2018. After an excerpt was released online on January 3, the book reached number one on Amazon.com.[20]

Criticism

In its review of Wolff’s book Burn RateBrill’s Content criticized Wolff for “apparent factual errors” and said that 13 people, including subjects he mentioned, complained that Wolff had “invented or changed quotes”.[21]

In a 2004 cover story for The New Republic, Michelle Cottle wrote that Wolff was “uninterested in the working press,” preferring to focus on “the power players—the moguls” and was “fixated on culture, style, buzz, and money, money, money.” She also noted that “the scenes in his columns aren’t recreated so much as created—springing from Wolff’s imagination rather than from actual knowledge of events.” Calling his writing “a whirlwind of flourishes and tangents and asides that often stray so far from the central point that you begin to wonder whether there is a central point.”[22]

The Columbia Journalism Review criticized Wolff in 2010 when he suggested that The New York Times was aggressively covering the breaking News International phone hacking scandal as a way of attacking News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch.[23]

Personal life

Wolff was married to Alison Anthoine, an attorney.[24] Wolff began divorce proceedings from Anthoine in 2009.[24] Since 2009, Wolff has been dating freelance writer Victoria Floethe.[25][26]

Books

  • The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch
  • Burn Rate: How I Survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet
  • Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures With the Titans, Poseurs, and Money Guys Who Mastered and Messed Up Big Media
  • Where We Stand
  • White Kids
  • Television Is the New Television: The Unexpected Triumph of Old Media In the Digital Age
  • Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (forthcoming)

Reviews

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Wolff_(journalist)

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Progressive Interventionist Neoconservative Warmonger Senator John McCain — Let The NATO Nations Defend Themselves and Pay For Their Own Defense — Progressive Democrats and Republicans Have Given The American People The Warfare and Welfare State and Replaced The Constitutional American Republic With A Declining and Falling American Empire of The Two Party Tyranny — $20 Trillion in Debt and Unfunced Liabilities Exceeding $210 Trillion and Growing — A Day of Reckoning — United States Is Bankrupt — Steve Bannon and President Trump Know It — Videos

Posted on March 16, 2017. Filed under: Articles, Banking, Blogroll, Books, Business, Communications, Computers, Congress, conservatives, Constitution, Corruption, Culture, Demographics, Diasters, Documentary, Economics, History of Economic Thought, Investments, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Monetary Policy, Money, Non-Fiction, Technology, Unemployment, Video, War, Wealth, Weather, Welfare, Wisdom, World War II, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world”

~George Washington

 “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.”

~Thomas Jefferson

Image result for quotes george washington on steer clear of permanent alliancesImage result for quotes george washington on alliances

Image result for NATO map

Image result for NATO list of countries and date joined

Image result for NATO list of countries and date joined

Image result for NATO list of countries and date joined

Image result for NATO list of countries and date joined

Image result for quotes george washington on alliances

Image result for quotes george washington on alliancesImage result for thomas jefferson on debt burdening future generationsImage result for thomas jefferson on debt burdening future generations

National Debt Clock

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Sen McCain on Sen. Paul: “The Senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.” (C-SPAN)

Rand Paul ‘John McCain is proof we need term limits’

[youtube3=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGT4wCmKjas]

RAND PAUL VS. JOHN MCCAIN: RAND REACTS TO MCCAIN’S RUSSIAN AGENT CLAIM!!

Rand Paul: McCain ‘past his prime,’ maybe ‘unhinged’

Pence: Time For Allies To Pay Fair Share For NATO

Other NATO members need to pay their fair share?

Trump complains at NATO countries for not paying defense share

Congressman Ron Paul, MD – We’ve Been NeoConned

Steve Bannon Lays Out His AMAZING Political Philosophy

Published on Nov 18, 2016

Speech by Stephen K. Bannon (Steve Bannon), Donald Trump’s senior strategic advisor and architect of his winning 2016 election. In this speech delivered to the Liberty Restoration Foundation, Bannon layed out the poliitical philosophy both he and Trump embrace, and which appealed to the American people in the election. It is conservative, perhaps explaining why the political liberal left has resorted to evidently incorrect allegations of antisemitism or racism to try to derail his appointment. Bannon was a Hollywood producer who invested in the Seinfeld comedy TV series, and later became the chair of the Brietbart News Service, expanding it into one of the leading news sources nationally, as an alternative to liberal media outlets that previously dominated US media. He joined the Trump campaign in June 2016, leading him to victory and the White House. Do you think that Bannon is racist, as the democrats have alleged?

Deficits, Debts and Unfunded Liabilities: The Consequences of Excessive Government Spending

Uploaded on May 10, 2010

Huge budget deficits and record levels of national debt are getting a lot of attention, but this video explains that unfunded liabilities for entitlement programs are Americas real red-ink challenge. More important, this CF&P mini-documentary reveals that deficits and debt are symptoms of the real problem of an excessive burden of government spending. http://www.freedomandprosperity.org

III – Unfunded Liabilities

Rhett Talks – Is the United States Bankrupt?

Laurence Kotlikoff at MTSU November 5, 2015

‘US hides real debt, in worse shape than Greece’

Unfunded Liabilities: James Cox of Silver Bullion interviews Professor Kotlikoff

The Actual Fiscal Gap Is Approximately $210 Trillion Dollars With All The Unfunded Liabilities, The Average Person, Every Man, Woman, And Child Owes……$666,666.667

8 years ago, when Obama took office, the Debt Clock was at 9 TRILLION Dollars.
Today, the US Debt Clock at almost 20 TRILLION Dollars.
http://www.usdebtclock.org/

This is an 87% increase.

The actual Fiscal Gap is approximately $210 TRILLION Dollars.
with all the unfunded liabilities.

With the population of the US is over 315 MILLION People, this means that the average person, every man, woman, and child owes……$666,666.667

Where does this lead?
Look at Brazil, Argentina, Cyprus, Greece, Italy,……

Who ends up with the bill?
THE TAXPAYER!

http://investmentwatchblog.com/the-actual-fiscal-gap-is-approximately-210-trillion-dollars-with-all-the-unfunded-liabilities-the-average-person-every-man-woman-and-child-owes-666666-667/

17 Nobel Laureates and 1200+ Economists Agree with Ben Carson re U.S. Fiscal Gap

I cover economics, personal, national, and international.

Michelle Lee, a fact checker with the Washington Post, just posted a long and, to my mind, highly political column. Her column, read carefully, undermines Presidential candidate Ben Carson’s absolutely correct claim, made in announcing his candidacy, that the true measure of U.S. fiscal debt is not the $13 trillion our government reports as its debt. Instead, our true debt is over $200 trillion. Obviously, most of this true debt has been kept off the books by our politicians.

In this column, I’m going to defend Dr. Carson’s statement. But I want to point out that I don’t know Dr. Carson. I have never spoken with him. And I don’t yet know enough about Dr. Carson’s positions to have a view about his overall suitability for President. I am, however, impressed that out of the gate he is talking about the right measure of our nation’s fiscal condition.

I spoke at length to Michelle Lee prior to her writing her column. She told me she was a fact checker. But when fact checking turns into disguised political commentary, there’s a problem. Fact checkers are supposed to check the facts with experts. When it comes to economics, the experts are PhD economists, not political organizations or people, without real economics training, parading as economists, both of which she quotes in undermining Dr. Carson’s credibility.

Now let me turn to the substance. In referring to $211 trillion in unfunded mandates, Dr. Carson was referencing my calculation of the U.S. fiscal gap. As I explained in a NY Times op ed, the U.S. fiscal gap is $210 trillion. So Dr. Carson was off by $1 trillion – by less than one half of one percent.

The fiscal gap is the present value of all projected future expenditures less the present value of all projected future taxes. The fiscal gap is calculated over the infinite horizon. But since future expenditures and taxes far off in the future are being discounted, their contribution to the fiscal gap is smaller the farther out one goes. The $210 trillion figure is based on the Congressional Budget Office’s July 2014 Alternative Fiscal Scenario projections, which I extended beyond their 75-year horizon.

Dr. Carson referenced $211 trillion as the size of “unfunded mandates.” Michelle Lee correctly points out that Dr. Carson was referencing the U.S. fiscal gap, not the present value of mandatory spending. What she knew (because I told her), but failed to say, is that the present value of mandatory spending is far larger than $210 trillion because the fiscal gap is a net, not a gross number.

Michelle Lee is not a PhD economist. Nor is Bruce Barlett, whose truly absurd statement about the debt being an asset she quotes. Yes, it’s an asset, but it’s an asset that young and future generations must pay off. Social Security benefits are also an asset to their recipients, but again, they must be paid off by people who aren’t getting the benefits.

Michelle Lee apparently takes Bruce Bartell’s views more seriously than the views of 17 Nobel Laureates in economics and over 1200 PhD economists from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, Berkeley, Yale, Columbia, Penn, and lesser known universities and colleges around the country. Each of these economists has endorsed The Inform Act, a bi-partisan bill that requires the CBO, GAO, and OMB to do infinite horizon fiscal gap accounting on a routine and ongoing basis.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kotlikoff/2015/05/13/17-nobel-laureates-and-1200-economists-agree-with-ben-carson-re-u-s-fiscal-gap/#46c13e954d17

National Debt

What You’ll Find

Comprehensive and meticulously documented facts about the national debt. Learn about various measures of the national debt, contributing factors, consequences, and more. For example:


Citation Generator

Introductory Notes

In keeping with the practice of the Congressional Budget Office and other federal agencies that deal with budget policy, many of the federal debt, spending, and revenue figures in this research are expressed as a portion of gross domestic product (GDP). This is because debates about the size of government and the effects of its debt are frequently centered upon how much of a nation’s economy is consumed by government. This measure also accounts for population growth, some of the effects of inflation, and the relative capacity of government to service its debt.

However, the federal government does not have the entire U.S. economy at its disposal to service federal debt. The private sector, which produces the goods and services that comprise most of the economy, utilizes some of these resources, and local and state governments also consume some of the nation’s GDP. Hence, this research sometimes expresses federal debt as a portion of annual federal revenues. This is a more direct measure of the federal government’s capacity to service its debt.

In keeping with Just Facts’ Standards of Credibility, all graphs in this research show the full range of available data, and all facts are cited based upon availability and relevance, not to slant results by singling out specific years that are different from others.

Click here for a video that summarizes some of the key facts in this research.

Quantifying the National Debt

* As of March 1, 2017, the official debt of the United States government is $19.9 trillion ($19,920,418,771,289).[1] This amounts to:

  • $61,365 for every person living in the U.S.[2]
  • $158,326 for every household in the U.S.[3]
  • 106% of the U.S. gross domestic product.[4]
  • 560% of annual federal revenues.[5]
Debt as a Portion of the Economy

[6]

* Publicly traded companies are legally required to account for “explicit” and “implicit” future obligations such as employee pensions and retirement benefits.[7] [8] [9] The federal budget, which is the “government’s primary financial planning and control tool,” is not bound by this rule.[10] [11]

* At the close of the federal government’s 2016 fiscal year (September 30, 2016), the federal government had roughly:

  • $8.5 trillion ($8,542,000,000,000) in liabilities that are not accounted for in the publicly held national debt, such as federal employee retirement benefits, accounts payable, and environmental/disposal liabilities.[12]
  • $29.0 trillion ($29,038,000,000,000) in obligations for current Social Security participants above and beyond projected revenues from their payroll and benefit taxes, certain transfers from the general fund of the U.S. Treasury, and assets of the Social Security trust fund.[13] [14]
  • $32.9 trillion ($32,900,000,000,000) in obligations for current Medicare participants above and beyond projected revenues from their payroll taxes, benefit taxes, premium payments, and assets of the Medicare trust fund.[15] [16]

* The figures above are determined in a manner that approximates how publicly traded companies are required to calculate their liabilities and obligations.[17] [18] [19] The obligations for Social Security and Medicare represent how much money must be immediately placed in interest-bearing investments to cover the projected shortfalls between dedicated revenues and expenditures for all current participants in these programs (both taxpayers and beneficiaries).[20] [21] [22]

* Combining the figures above with the national debt and subtracting the value of federal assets, the federal government had about $84.3 trillion ($84,306,000,000,000) in debts, liabilities, and unfunded obligations at the close of its 2016 fiscal year.[23]

* This $84.3 trillion shortfall is 93% of the combined net worth of all U.S. households and nonprofit organizations, including all assets in savings, real estate, corporate stocks, private businesses, and consumer durable goods such as automobiles and furniture.[24] [25]

* This shortfall equates to:

  • $260,382 for every person living in the U.S.[26]
  • $670,058 for every household in the U.S.[27]
  • 451% of the U.S. gross domestic product.[28]
  • 2,370% of annual federal revenues.[29]

* These figures do not account for the future costs implied by any current policies except those of the Social Security and Medicare programs.[30]

* These figures are based upon current federal law and “a wide range of complex assumptions” made by federal agencies.[31] Regarding this:

  • The Board of Social Security Trustees has stated that “significant uncertainty” surrounds the “best estimates” of future circumstances.”[32]
  • The Board of Medicare Trustees has stated that the program’s financial projections “are highly uncertain, especially when looking out more than several decades.”
  • The Board of Medicare Trustees has stated that the program’s long-term costs may be “substantially higher” than projected under current law. This is because current law includes the effects of the Affordable Care Act, which will cut Medicare prices for “many” healthcare services to “less than half of their level” under prior law. Per the Trustees:
Absent an unprecedented change in health care delivery systems and payment mechanisms, the prices paid by Medicare for health services will fall increasingly short of the costs of providing these services. … Before such an outcome would occur, lawmakers would likely intervene to prevent the withdrawal of providers from the Medicare market and the severe problems with beneficiary access to care that would result.[33]

Causes of the National Debt

Spending and Taxes

Current Expenditures and Receipts

† To measure the entirety of government expenditures and receipts, “total” instead of “current” figures are preferable, but such data (shown in the next graph) only extends back to 1960.[34]

‡ In 2015, receipts consisted of: 97% taxes; 2% premiums, settlements, donations, fines, fees, & penalties; 1% interest & dividends.[35]

[36]

* Data from the graph above:

Year Receipts
(Portion of GDP)
Expenditures
(Portion of GDP)
1930 3% 3%
1940 8% 9%
1950 16% 16%
1960 17% 17%
1970 17% 20%
1980 19% 22%
1990 18% 22%
2000 20% 19%
2010 16% 25%
2015 19% 22%

Total Expenditures and Receipts

[37]

* Data from the graph above:

Year Receipts
(Portion of GDP)
Expenditures
(Portion of GDP)
1960 18% 19%
1970 18% 21%
1980 19% 23%
1990 18% 22%
2000 20% 19%
2010 16% 27%
2015 19% 22%

Spending Distribution

Current Expenditures by Function

† Social programs include income security, healthcare, education, housing, and recreation.

‡ National defense includes military spending and veterans’ benefits.

§ General government and debt service includes the executive & legislative branches, tax collection, financial management, and interest payments.

# Economic affairs includes transportation, general economic & labor affairs, agriculture, natural resources, energy, and space. (This excludes spending for infrastructure projects such as new highways, which is not accounted for in this graph.[38])

£ Public order and safety includes police, fire, law courts, prisons, and immigration enforcement.

[39]

* Data from the graph above:

Category Portion of Total Federal Spending
1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2015
Social Programs 21% 32% 45% 44% 54% 61% 63%
National Defense 53% 42% 26% 25% 19% 20% 19%
General Government & Debt Service 19% 18% 21% 25% 21% 13% 13%
Economic Affairs & Infrastructure 6% 7% 7% 5% 5% 4% 4%
Public Order & Safety 0% 0% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1%

Tax Distribution

Effective Tax Rates by Income

NOTE: This data does not account for 7% of federal revenues that could not be allocated to households by income group.

[40]

* Data from the graph above:

Average Effective Federal Tax Burdens (2013)
Income Group Household Income Tax Rate Taxes Paid
Lowest 20% $25,400 3.3% $838
Second 20% $47,400 8.4% $3,982
Middle 20% $69,700 12.8% $8,922
Fourth 20% $103,700 17.0% $17,629
Highest 20% $265,000 26.3% $69,695

* Breakdown of the highest 20%:

Income Group Household Income Tax Rate Taxes Paid
81st – 90th $147,100 20.7% $30,450
91st – 95th $201,400 23.0% $46,322
96th – 99th $326,800 26.3% $85,948
Top 1 % $1,571,600 34.0% $534,344

Consequences

* As detailed in publications of the Congressional Budget Office, the Brookings Institution, and Princeton University Press, the following are some potential consequences of unchecked government debt:

  • reduced “future national income and living standards.”[41] [42] [43]
  • “reductions in spending” on “government programs.”[44]
  • “higher marginal tax rates.”[45]
  • “higher inflation” that increases “the size of future budget deficits” and decreases the “the purchasing power” of citizens’ savings and income.”[46] [47]
  • restricted “ability of policymakers to use fiscal policy to respond to unexpected challenges, such as economic downturns or international crises.”[48]
  • “losses for mutual funds, pension funds, insurance companies, banks, and other holders of federal debt.”[49]
  • increased “probability of a fiscal crisis in which investors would lose confidence in the government’s ability to manage its budget, and the government would be forced to pay much more to borrow money.”[50] [51]

* In 2012, the Journal of Economic Perspectives published a paper about the economic consequences of government debt. Using 2,000+ data points on national debt and economic growth in 20 advanced economies (such as the United States, France, and Japan) from 1800–2009, the authors found that countries with national debts above 90% of GDP averaged 34% less real annual economic growth than when their debts were below 90% of GDP.[52]

* The United States exceeded a debt/GDP level of 90% in the second quarter of 2010.[53]

* Per the textbook Microeconomics for Today:

GDP per capita provides a general index of a country’s standard of living. Countries with low GDP per capita and slow growth in GDP per capita are less able to satisfy basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, education, and health.[54]

* In 2013, the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, published a working paper about the economic consequences of government debt. Using data on national debt and economic growth in 20 advanced economies from 1946-2009, the authors found that countries with national debts over 90% of GDP averaged:

  • 31% less real annual economic growth than countries with debts from 60% to 90% of GDP,
  • 29% less real annual economic growth than countries with debts from 30% to 60% of GDP,
  • and 48% less real annual economic growth than countries with debts from 0% to 30% of GDP.[55]

* The authors of the above-cited papers have engaged in a heated dispute about the results of their respective papers and the effects of government debt on economic growth. Facts about these issues can be found in the Just Facts Daily article, “Do large national debts harm economies?

Politics

Responsibility

* The U.S. Constitution vests Congress with the powers to tax, spend, and pay the debts of the federal government. Legislation to carry out these functions must either be:

  • passed by majorities in both houses of Congress and approved by the President; or
  • passed by majorities in both houses of Congress, vetoed by the President, and then passed by two-thirds of both houses of Congress; or
  • passed by majorities in both houses of Congress and left unaddressed by the President for ten days.[56]

* Other factors impacting the national debt include but are not limited to legislation passed by previous congresses and presidents,[57] economic cycles, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, demographics, and the actions of U.S. citizens and foreign governments.[58]


Current Policies

* In 2014, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected the debt that the U.S. government would accumulate under current federal policies.[59] The projection used the following assumptions:

  • Unemployment will incrementally decline from 6.8% in 2014 to 5.8% in 2018 and 5.3% in 2027, where it will remain thereafter.[60] (For reference, the average of the previous 40 years is 6.5%.[61])
  • GDP growth will incrementally decline from an average rate of 3.4% above the rate of inflation in 2015 to 1.9% in 2021 and remain constant thereafter.[62] (The average of the previous 40 years is 2.9%.[63])
  • Federal revenues (i.e., taxes) will incrementally increase from 17.4% of GDP in 2014 to 18.0% in 2024 and remain constant thereafter.[64] (The average of the previous 40 years is 17.4%.[65])
  • Federal spending will incrementally increase from 20.4% of GDP in 2014 to 23.6% in 2025 and 31.8% in 2040.[66] (The average of the previous 40 years is 20.5%.[67])
  • Payments for Medicare services will undergo scheduled reductions that would likely cause “severe problems with beneficiary access to care.”[68] [69]

* Combining these projections with historical data yields the following results:

Revenues and Spending Under Current Policies

[70]

Debt Under Current Policies

† To measure the entirety of the national debt, it would be preferable to show “gross” debt instead of “publicly held” debt, but this data is not presented in this report. Nonetheless, it would make little difference because the excluded debt primarily resides in federal government trust funds that dwindle and become insolvent during the projection period.[71] Facts regarding why and how the federal government keeps its books in this manner are covered in the section of this research entitled “Government Accounting.”

[72]

* Per CBO, postponing action to stabilize the debt will:

  • punish younger generations of Americans, because most of the burden would fall on them.
  • reward older generations of Americans, because “they would partly or entirely avoid the policy changes needed to stabilize the debt.”
  • “substantially increase the size of the policy adjustments needed to put the budget on a sustainable course.”[73] [74]

* The following Ph.D. economists and political scientists have claimed that the level of national debt during World War II is a good reason to not be overly concerned about the modern national debt:

  • Paul Davidson, editor of the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics and author of The Keynes Solution: The Path to Global Economic Prosperity:[75]
Rather than bankrupting the nation, this large growth in the national debt [during World War II] promoted a prosperous economy. By 1946, the average American household was living much better economically than in the prewar days. Moreover, the children of that Depression–World War II generation were not burdened by having to pay off what then was considered a huge national debt. Instead, for the next quarter century, the economy continued on a path of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity….[76]
  • Douglas J. Amy, professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College:[77]
Conservatives are also wrong when they argue that deficit spending and a large national debt will inevitably undermine economic growth. To see why, we need to simply look back at times when we have run up large deficits and increased the national debt. The best example is World War II when the national debt soared to 120% of GDP—nearly twice the size of today’s debt. This spending not only got us out of the Great Depression but set the stage for a prolonged period of sustained economic growth in the 50s and 60s.[78]
  • Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist and Princeton University professor:[79]
Right now, federal debt is about 50% of GDP. So even if we do run these deficits, federal debt as a share of GDP will be substantially less than it was at the end of World War II.
Again, the debt outlook is bad. But we’re not looking at something inconceivable, impossible to deal with; we’re looking at debt levels that a number of advanced countries, the U.S. included, have had in the past, and dealt with.[80]

* In the 40 years that followed the end of World War II (1946–1985):

  • federal spending as a percent of GDP averaged 42% lower than the last year of the war.[81]
  • publicly held debt as a percent of GDP decreased by 72 percentage points.[82]

* In 2010, around the time when the statements above were written, the Congressional Budget Office projected that under current policy and a sustained economic recovery over the next 40 years:

  • federal spending as a percent of GDP will average over 78% higher than in the four decades that followed World War II.[83]
  • publicly held debt as a percent of GDP will rise by 277 percentage points.[84]

Alternative Policies

* As alternatives to the CBO’s current policy projections detailed above, the CBO also ran projections for scenarios such as these:

1) Current law:[85]

  • Federal revenues will incrementally increase from 17.6% of GDP in 2014 to 18.0% in 2020, 19.9% in 2044, and 23.5% in 2084.[86] [87] At this point, federal revenues (i.e., taxes) will be 35% higher than the average of the previous 40 years.[88]
  • Federal spending on all government functions will incrementally increase from 20.4% of GDP in 2014 to 21.5% in 2020, and 26.0% in 2040.[89] At this point, spending will be 27% higher than the average of the previous 40 years.[90]
  • Payments for Medicare services will undergo reductions that will likely cause “severe problems with beneficiary access to care.”[91] [92]

2) Republican Congressman Paul Ryan’s 2014 budget resolution, called the “The Path to Prosperity”:[93]

  • Starting in 2024, Medicare beneficiaries will have a choice to enroll in private plans paid for by Medicare or remain in the traditional Medicare program.[94] Also starting in 2024, the eligibility age for Medicare benefits will incrementally rise to correspond with Social Security’s retirement age.[95] Compared to the projections under the current policy scenario, Medicare spending will be 0.5% lower in 2016, 2% lower in 2020, and 4% lower in 2024.[96]
  • Federal Medicaid spending will be converted to an “allotment that each state could tailor to meet its needs, indexed for inflation and population growth.”[97] The expansion of Medicaid manadated by the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) will be repealed.[98] Compared to the projections under the current policy scenario, Medicaid spending will be 9% lower in 2016, 19% lower in 2020, and 24% lower in 2024.[99]
  • All federal spending related to Obamacare’s exchange subsidies will be repealed.[100]
  • Spending on all government functions except for interest payments on the national debt will incrementally decline from 18.9% of GDP in 2015 to 16% in 2025 before increasing to 16.4% in 2035.[101] (The average of the previous 40 years is 18.3%).[102]
  • Revenues will increase from 18.2% of GDP in 2015 to 18.4% in 2025, 19% in 2032 and stay constant thereafter.[103] (The average of the previous 40 years is 17.4%.[104])

* Combining historical data on the national debt with CBO’s projections for current policy, current law, and the Ryan plan yields the following results:

Debt Under Different Policies

[105] [106]


Public Opinion

* A poll conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal in February 2011 found that:

  • 80% of Americans are concerned “a great deal” or “quite a bit” about federal budget deficits and the national debt.
  • if the deficit cannot be eliminated by cutting wasteful spending, 35% of Americans prefer to cut important programs while 33% prefer to raise taxes.
  • 22% think cuts in Social Security spending will be needed to “significantly reduce the federal budget deficit,” 49% do not, and 29% have no opinion or are not sure.
  • 18% think cuts in Medicare spending will be needed to “significantly reduce the federal budget deficit,” 54% do not, and 28% have no opinion or are not sure.[107]

* Other than interest on the national debt, most of the long-term growth in federal spending (as a percent of GDP) under the CBO’s current policy and current law scenarios stems from Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) subsidies.[108]

* A poll conducted in November 2010 by the Associated Press and CNBC found that:

  • 85% of Americans are worried that the national debt “will harm future generations.”
  • 56% think “the shortfalls will spark a major economic crisis in the coming decade.”
  • when asked to choose between two options to balance the budget, 59% prefer to cut unspecified government services, while 30% prefer to raise unspecified taxes.[109]

* A poll conducted in July 2005 by the Associated Press and Ipsos found that:

  • 70% of Americans were worried about the size of the federal deficit.
  • 35% were willing to cut government spending.
  • 18% were willing to raise taxes.
  • 1% were willing to cut government spending and raise taxes.[110]

Congresses

* During the first session of the 113th Congress (January–December 2013), U.S. Representatives and Senators introduced 168 bills that would have reduced spending and 828 bills that would have raised spending.[111]

* The table below quantifies the costs and savings of these bills by political party. This data is provided by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation:

Costs/Savings of Bills Sponsored or Cosponsored

in 2013 by Typical Congressman (in Billions)

Increases Decreases Net Agenda
House Democrats $407 $10 $397
Senate Democrats $22 $3 $18
House Republicans $9 $91 -$83
Senate Republicans $6 $165 -$159

[112] [113]

* Click here to look up any member of Congress and see the annual costs or savings from the legislation he or she has sponsored or cosponsored.

* The table below quantifies the net agendas of the political parties in previous Congresses:

Costs/Savings of Bills Sponsored or Cosponsored in the First

Sessions of Congress by Typical Congressman (in Billions)

2011 2009 2007 2005 2003 2001 1999
House Democrats $497 $500 $547 $547 $402 $262 $34
Senate Democrats $24 $134 $59 $52 $174 $88 $15
House Republicans -$130 -$45 $7 $12 $31 $20 -$5
Senate Republicans -$239 $51 $7 $11 $26 $19 -$324
NOTE: Data not adjusted for inflation.

[114]


Presidents

* In February 2001, Republican President George W. Bush stated:

Many of you have talked about the need to pay down our national debt. I listened, and I agree. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to act now, and I hope you will join me to pay down $2 trillion in debt during the next 10 years. At the end of those 10 years, we will have paid down all the debt that is available to retire. That is more debt, repaid more quickly than has ever been repaid by any nation at any time in history.[115]

* From the time that Congress enacted Bush’s first major economic proposal (June 7, 2001[116]) until the time that he left office (January 20, 2009), the national debt rose from 53% of GDP to 74%, or an average of 2.7 percentage points per year.[117]

* During eight years in office, President Bush vetoed 12 bills, four of which were overridden by Congress and thus enacted without his approval.[118] These bills were projected by the Congressional Budget Office to increase the deficit by $26 billion during 2008–2022.[119]


* In February 2009, Democratic President Barack Obama stated:

I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay—and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control.[120]

* From the time that Congress enacted Obama’s first major economic proposal (February 17, 2009[121]) until September 30, 2016, the national debt rose from 74% of GDP to 105%, or an average of 4.0 percentage points per year.[122]

* As of November 4, 2016, President Obama has vetoed twelve bills, one of which has been overridden by Congress and thus enacted without his approval.[123] This bill is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to “have no significant effect on the federal budget.”[124]

Government Accounting

Trust Funds and the Two Main Categories of Debt

* Some federal programs (such as Social Security) have “trust funds” that are legally separated from the rest of the federal government.[125]

* When these programs spend less than the federal government allocates to them, their surpluses are loaned to the federal government. This creates a legal obligation for the federal government to pay money and interest to these programs, thus adding to the national debt.[126] [127] [128] [129] [130]

* The federal government divides the national debt into two main categories:[131] [132]

  1. Money that it owes to federal entities such as the Social Security program.
  2. Money that it owes to non-federal entities such as individuals, corporations, local governments, and foreign governments.[133] Also, money owed to the Federal Reserve is classified under this category, even though the Federal Reserve is a federal entity.[134] [135]

NOTE: Just Facts has identified numerous instances in which politicians and journalists have used terms that technically refer to the overall national debt, when in fact, they are only referring to a portion of it. In order to clear up some of the confusion this has created, below are common terms for the national debt categorized by their proper meanings:

  • Overall national debt: gross debt, federal debt, public debt[136]
  • Portion of the national debt owed to federal entities: debt held by government accounts, government-held debt, intragovernmental holdings[137] [138] [139]
  • Portion of the national debt owed to non-federal entities: debt held by the public, publicly held debt[140][141]

* On September 30, 2016, the national debt consisted of:

  • $5.4 trillion owed to federal entities
  • $14.2 trillion owed to non-federal entities
  • $19.6 trillion owed in total[142]

* The federal law that governs the repayment of the national debt draws no distinction between the debt owed to federal and non-federal entities. Both must be repaid with interest.[143]

* The White House Office,[144] [145] Congressional Budget Office,[146] and other federal agencies[147] sometimes exclude the debt owed to federal entities in their reckonings of the national debt because this portion of the debt “represents internal transactions of the government and thus has no effect on credit markets.”

* Federal programs to which this money is owed, such as Social Security and Medicare, include this money and the interest it generates in their assets and financial projections.[148] [149] [150]

* In the 2000 presidential race, the Gore-Liebermann campaign released a 192-page economic plan that contains over 150 uses of the word “debt.” In none of these instances does the plan mention or account for any of the debt owed to federal entities.[151] The same plan includes the debt owed to federal entities in the assets of the Social Security and Medicare programs.[152]


“Deficits” and “Surpluses”

* During the federal government’s 2010 fiscal year (October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2010[153]), the national debt rose from $12.0 trillion to $13.6 trillion, thus increasing by $1.6 trillion.[154]

* The White House,[155] USA Today,[156] Reuters,[157] and other government and media entities reported that the 2010 federal “deficit” was $1.3 trillion.

* The difference between the national debt increase of $1.6 trillion and the reported deficit of $1.3 trillion is attributable to the following accounting practices:

  • When calculating the reported deficit, the federal government merges the finances of all federal programs into what is called the “unified budget.” Hence, the deficit does not account for the intergovernmental debt that arises when programs such as Social Security loan their surpluses to the federal government.[158]
  • When the federal government lays out money for programs such as TARP and student loans, the outgo is not fully counted in the deficit. The deficit reflects only what the government expects to lose or gain on these loans.[159] [160]

* PolitiFact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning project of the Tampa Bay Times to “help you find the truth in politics,”[161] has stated that there were “several years of budget surpluses” during Bill Clinton’s presidency. This same article cites the rise in “national debt” during the tenure of George W. Bush.[162]

* Using the same criterion PolitiFact applied to Bush’s presidency (change in gross national debt), the national debt rose every year of Clinton’s presidency:

Year National Debt on Inauguration Date†

(billions)

1993 $4,188
1994 $4,501
1995 $4,797
1996 $4,988
1997 $5,310
1998 $5,496
1999 $5,624
2000 $5,706
2001 $5,728
† NOTE: PolitiFact used the inauguration date for its debt baseline.

The national debt also rose every fiscal year of Clinton’s presidency.

[163] [164]

Ownership

* As of September 30, 2016, the national debt consists of:

Amount Owed To: Portion of Total
$14.2 trillion owed to non-federal entities (i.e., publicly held debt) 72%
$5.4 trillion owed to federal entities (i.e., intragovernmental debt) 28%

[165]


Debt Owed to Non-Federal Entities

* Ownership of publicly held debt as of September 30, 2016:

Debt Owed to Non-Federal Entities

* Data from the chart above:

Entities Amount (billions) Portion of Total
Foreign & International $6,148 45%
Federal Reserve[166] $2,462 18%
Other Investors $1,343 10%
Mutual Funds $1,315 10%
State & Local Governments $687 5%
Banks & Savings Institutions $547 4%
Private Pension Funds $540 4%
Insurance Companies $297 2%
U.S. Savings Bonds $172 1%
State and Local Government Pension Funds $164 1%

[167]


Debt Owed to Foreign Entities

* Per the White House Office of Management and Budget (2016):

During most of American history, the Federal debt was held almost entirely by individuals and institutions within the United States. In the late 1960s, foreign holdings were just over $10 billion, less than 5 percent of the total Federal debt held by the public. Foreign holdings began to grow significantly starting in the 1970s and now represent almost half of outstanding [publicly held] debt.[168]

* Ownership of U.S. government debt by foreign creditors as of August 31, 2016:

Debt Owed to Foreign Entities

* Data from the chart above:

Country Amount (billions) Portion of Total
China, Mainland $1,185 19%
Japan $1,144 18%
Ireland $266 4%
Cayman Islands $264 4%
Brazil $256 4%
Switzerland $238 4%
Luxembourg $220 4%
United Kingdom $205 3%
Hong Kong $192 3%
Taiwan $190 3%
Others $2,037 33%
Total $6,196 100%

[169]

* Foreign purchases of U.S. government debt increase the demand for this debt, thus putting downward pressure on U.S. interest rates. Conversely, foreign sales of U.S. government debt place upward pressure on U.S. interest rates.[170] [171]

* Per a 2008 Congressional Research Service report, a “potentially serious short-term problem would emerge if China decided to suddenly” sell its holding of U.S. government debt. Possible effects could include:

  • “a more general financial reaction (or panic), in which all foreigners responded by reducing their holdings of U.S. assets”;
  • “a sudden and large depreciation in the value of the dollar”;
  • “a sudden and large increase in U.S. interest rates”;
  • a stock market fall; and/or
  • “a recession.”[172]

* The same report states:

The likelihood that China would suddenly reduce its holdings of U.S. securities is questionable because it is unlikely that doing so would be in China’s economic interests. First, a large sell-off of China’s U.S. holdings could diminish the value of these securities in international markets…. Second, such a move would diminish U.S. demand for Chinese imports…. A sharp reduction of U.S. imports from China could have a significant impact on China’s economy….[173]

* During a visit to China in February 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:

By continuing to support American Treasury instruments [i.e., buy U.S. government debt] the Chinese are recognizing our interconnection. … We have to incur more debt. It would not be in China’s interest if we were unable to get our economy moving again. … The U.S. needs the investment in Treasury bonds to shore up its economy to continue to buy Chinese products.[174]

* In August 2007 during a currency dispute between the U.S. and China, two leading officials of Chinese Communist Party bodies suggested that China use the threat of selling U.S. debt as a “bargaining chip.”[175]

* In February 2009 during a dispute over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, a Chinese general made the following statements in the state-run magazine Outlook Weekly:

Our retaliation should not be restricted to merely military matters, and we should adopt a strategic package of counterpunches covering politics, military affairs, diplomacy and economics to treat both the symptoms and root cause of this disease. … [W]e could sanction them using economic means, such as dumping some U.S. government bonds.[176]

* One month later while appearing before China’s parliament, the head of China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange said:

the U.S. Treasury market is important to us. … This is purely market-driven investment behavior. I would hope not to see this matter politicized.[177]

Debt Owed to Federal Entities

* Ownership of intergovernmental debt as of September 30, 2016:

Debt Owed to Federal Entities

* Data from the chart above:

Funds Amount (billions) Portion of Total
Social Security $2,843 53%
Civil Service Retirement and Disability $874 16%
Military Retirement $591 11%
Medicare $256 5%
Department of Defense Retiree Healthcare $213 4%
Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits $51 1%
Other $572 11%

[178]

Media

Budget Cuts

* In April 2011, journalists reported on a $38 billion federal budget cut agreement with the following headlines and phraseology:

  • “New Cuts Detailed in Agreement for $38 Billion in Reductions”; “deep budget cuts in programs for the poor, law enforcement, the environment and civic projects” – Los Angeles Times[179]
  • “Congress Sends Budget Cut Bill to Obama”; “cutting a record $38 billion from domestic spending” – Associated Press[180]
  • “Budget Deal to Cut $38 Billion Averts Shutdown”; “Republicans were able to force significant spending concessions from Democrats….” – New York Times[181]

* None of these articles reported that this figure of $38 billion in cuts was primarily relative to a portion of the budget called “discretionary non-emergency appropriations.”[182] Relative to the entire federal budget, this cut left a projected spending increase of $135 billion from 2010 to 2011. This equates to an inflation-adjusted increase of $49 billion or 0.1 percentage points of GDP:[183]

Federal Outlays

[184]

* None of the articles quoted above contains a budget-wide frame of reference for the cuts. A spending reduction of $38 billion equates to 1.0% of the estimated 2011 budget or 2.7% of the projected deficit:

Budget Cut

[185]


Bush Tax Cuts

* In February 2010, Fareed Zakaria of CNN stated:

Now, please understand that the Bush tax cuts are the single largest part of the black hole that is the federal budget deficit.[186]

* In 2010, the Bush tax cuts lowered federal revenues by about $283 billion.[187] [188] This was equivalent to 8% of the federal budget or 22% of the deficit.[189]

* Per the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), “Most parameters of the tax code are not indexed for real income growth, and some are not indexed for inflation.” Thus, if tax cuts are not periodically implemented, average federal tax rates “increase in the long run.”[190]

* In 2000, the year before the first Bush tax cuts were passed,[191] the federal government collected revenues equal to 20.4% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), the highest level in the history of the United States.[192] Over the previous 30 years, federal revenues averaged 18.3% of GDP.[193]

* In 2000, the stock market “dot.com” bubble burst,[194] the NASDAQ lost 39% of its value,[195] and profits for nonfinancial corporations fell by 18%.[196] In the first quarter of 2001, the nation’s GDP contracted and a recession began.[197] [198]

* In June 2001 and May 2003, Congress passed and President Bush signed laws that implemented various tax cuts.[199] [200]

* After the Bush tax cuts were fully implemented, federal revenues were 17.8% of GDP in 2005, 18.5% in 2006, and 18.6% in 2007.[201] Average federal revenues for the 30 years preceding the Bush tax cuts were 18.4%.[202]

* The Great Recession began in December 2007,[203] and federal revenues declined to 17.7% of GDP in 2008.[204]

* In February 2009, Congress passed and President Obama signed a law that implemented various tax cuts.[205]

* Federal revenues declined to 15.7% of GDP in 2009 and 16.4% in 2010.[206]

* Federal spending rose from 21.0% of GDP in 2007 to 26.5% in 2010.[207] Average federal spending for the 30 years preceding the Great Recession was 21.8%.[208]


The “Do Nothing” Plan

* In April 2011, Ezra Klein of the Washington Post posted a graph of spending and revenue projections based upon CBO’s “current law” scenario and wrote that it:

shows what happens if we do … nothing. The answer, as you can see, is that the budget comes roughly into balance.[209]

* Klein’s graph and commentary omitted the interest and outcome of the national debt under this plan.[210] In the “do nothing” scenario, outlays were projected to exceed revenues every year through 2084, and the publicly held debt was projected to increase from 62% of GDP in 2010, to 74% in 2030, 90% in 2050, and 113% in 2084.[211]

* In the same commentary, Klein wrote that the “current law” scenario is “a pretty good plan” that contains:

a balanced mix of revenues, through returning tax rates to Clinton-era levels and implementing the taxes in the Affordable Care Act, and program cuts … in Medicare….[212]

* Under this scenario:

  • Certain elements of the tax code are not indexed for inflation or wage growth. Consequently, taxpayers are shifted over time into higher tax brackets.
  • According to the Congressional Budget Office, by 2020 revenues “reach higher levels relative to the size of the economy than ever recorded in the nation’s history.”
  • Revenues as a portion of GDP continue climbing through 2084, rising 69% higher than the average of the past 40 years and 47% higher than ever recorded in the history of the United States.[213] [214]
  • As a portion of GDP, federal spending without interest on the national debt rises by 2084 to 68% higher than the average of the past 40 years.[215]

Context

* Without mentioning the role of Congress in taxes, spending, or the national debt,[216] [217] PolitiFact (in the same article cited above) wrote that the national debt increased by $5.73 trillion “under” George W. Bush whereas there were budget surpluses “at the end of the Clinton administration.”[218]

* Below are the fluctuations in national debt organized by the tenures of recent presidents and congressional majorities:

Political Power

Dates

Average Annual Change in National Debt

(Percentage Points of GDP)

Bill Clinton with Democratic House and Senate 1/20/93 – 1/4/95 0.9
Bill Clinton with Republican House and Senate 1/4/95 – 1/19/01 -1.6
George W. Bush with Republican House and Senate 1/19/01 – 6/6/01, 11/12/02 – 1/4/07 0.8
George W. Bush with Republican House and Democratic Senate 6/6/01 – 11/12/02 2.3
George W. Bush with Democratic House and Senate 1/4/07 – 1/20/09 6.5
Barack Obama with Democratic House and Senate 1/20/09 – 1/4/11 9.3
Barack Obama with Republican House and Democratic Senate 1/5/11 – 1/6/15 1.9

[219]

* Other factors impacting the national debt include but are not limited to: legislation passed by previous congresses and presidents,[220] economic cycles, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, demographics, and the actions of U.S. citizens and foreign governments.[221]

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American Conservative Union CPAC 2017 — Videos

Posted on February 26, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, College, Congress, conservatives, Constitution, Economics, Education, Employment, Federal Government, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, government, government spending, Health Care, Heroes, history, Illegal, Immigration, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Obamacare, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Religious, Security, Speech, Video, War, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Image result for cpac 2017  Trump Speech at CPAC 2017 (FULL) | ABC News

 CPAC 2017 – Dr. Larry Arnn

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FULL EVENT: President Donald Trump Speech at CPAC 2017 (2/24/2017) Donald Trump Live CPAC Speech

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Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus Interview at CPAC 2017 | ABC News

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CPAC 2017 – When did World War III Begin? Part B

CPAC 2017 – Armed and Fabulous

CPAC 2017 – Wayne LaPierre, NRA

CPAC 2017 – Chris Cox, NRA-ILA

CPAC 2017 – Prosecutors Gone Wild

CPAC 2017 – Kellyanne Conway

CPAC 2017 – A conversation with Carly Fiorina and Arthur Brooks

CPAC 2017 – The States vs The State Governors

CPAC 2017 – Gov. Pete Ricketts

CPAC 2017 – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

CPAC 2017 – Dan Schneider

CPAC 2017 – FREE stuff vs FREE-dom Panel

CPAC 2017 – Dana Loesch

CPAC 2017 – Robert Davi

CPAC 2017 – Lou Dobbs

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