Hope Hicks Abandons Donald Trump

Hope Hicks, the White House Communications Director, was one of Trump’s most trusted advisors, like “family.”  But she got herself into big trouble during congressional testimony the other day when she admitted that she told “white lies” for Trump.  She also refused to say whether a long list of Trump’s family members and close associates also asked her to lie.  In other words, they asked her to lie for them, and she lied for them, but didn’t want to admit it to Congress:

After Hicks provided that answer, [Congressman] Rooney said [Congressman] Swalwell “went through the phone book,” asking Hicks whether a “litany of 50” people, including “the entire Trump family,” had ever asked Hicks to lie. The list of names, both Rooney and Swalwell said, included Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, Corey Lewandowski, Michael Cohen and others. Swalwell also asked Hicks whether she heard Mr. Trump ask others to lie for him.

Hicks gave a “blanket” response by declining to answer in each instance, Rooney said . . .

Beyond this latest screw up, Hicks has been in hot water for some time now.  She interviewed with Mueller for two days in December 2017.  Then in January 2018, Trump’s former legal team spokesman Mark Corallo said he thought Hicks was trying to figure out how to obstruct justice by making sure records regarding a 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence agents would be destroyed and “never found” by investigators:

Mr. Corallo is planning to tell Mr. Mueller about a previously undisclosed conference call with Mr. Trump and Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, according to the three people. Mr. Corallo planned to tell investigators that Ms. Hicks said during the call that emails written by Donald Trump Jr. before the Trump Tower meeting . . . “will never get out.” That left Mr. Corallo with concerns that Ms. Hicks could be contemplating obstructing justice, the people said.

And the comments were not privileged because no lawyers were present during the conversation:

Mr. Corallo . . . told colleagues he was alarmed not only by what Ms. Hicks had said — either she was being naïve or was suggesting that the emails could be withheld from investigators — but also that she had said it in front of the president without a lawyer on the phone and that the conversation could not be protected by attorney-client privilege.

After the alarming conversation, Corallo then reported the incident to Steve Bannon:

Corallo, who previously served under Attorney General John Ashcroft, reportedly got off the phone, advised Trump to continue the discussion with lawyers present, took notes about the call, and told then-chief strategist Steve Bannon what had happened.

Bannon completely lost his shit in response and blew up at Hicks, which Triggered Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (Fire and Fury, pp. 261-263:

. . . In time, he had come to see the twenty-eight-year-old as nothing more than a hapless presidential enabler and poor-fish Jarvanka flunky – and he believe she had deeply implicated herself in the entire disaster by participating in the Air Force One meeting. The next day, with more inquiries coming from reporters, he confronted Hicks inside the cabinet room, accusing her of doing Jared and Ivanka’s dirty work. The face-off quickly escalated into an existential confrontation between the two sides of the White House – two sides on a total war footing.

“You don’t know what you’re doing,” shouted a livid Bannon at Hicks, demanding to know who she worked for, the White House or Jared and Ivanka. “You don’t know how much trouble you are in,” he screamed, telling her that if she didn’t get a lawyer he would call her father and tell him he had better get her one. “You are dumb as a stone!” Moving from the cabinet room across the open area into the President’s earshot, “a loud, scary, clearly threatening” Bannon, in the Jarvanka telling, yelled, “I am going to fuck with your little group!” with a baffled President wanting to know, “What’s going on?”

[. . .]

For Bannon, this was just more Jarvanka desperation – they were the ones, not him, saddled with Comey-Mueller. They were the ones panicking and out of control.

For the rest of his time in the White House, Bannon would not speak to Hicks again.

Bannon saw the writing on the wall and apparently tried to scare some sense into Hicks.  So why would Hicks want to destroy records that could show that Team Trump was coordinating and conspiring with the Russian government to derail Hillary Clinton?  It might have something to do with a major criminal investigation that has already netted a number of indictments and criminal guilty pleas:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release, according to multiple people familiar with the probe.

President Trump seems to be unable to get away from the original sin of his presidency: his cooperation, coordination, and conspiracy with the Russian government to make hacked Hillary Clinton and DNC emails public and to do it in a way that did maximum political damage to Clinton while providing Trump with maximum political assistance.


Trump Humiliated by Comey Congressional Hearing

The big news out of the Comey congressional hearing today is that the FBI confirms it is now investigating ties between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian intelligence services.  In response to the hearing, Donald Trump tweeted that Russia “did not influence” the electoral process.  It’s a flat out lie.  But more importantly Trump’s tweet appears to all but certainly confirm that Donald Trump operates the White House as  the American propaganda arm of Russia.  He has disrespected the White House and has cheapened the Office of Presidency.

Sadly, the Republican stooges during the congressional hearing could not even bring themselves to mention the bear in the room–Russia’s attempts to influence our presidential election.  Instead, all they could muster was a half-baked attempt to show that the leakers were the “bad guys” . . . . pay no attention to the leak itself, though, comrade Americans!  Representative Nunes the House Intelligence Committee chair humiliated himself, and showed himself to be a sick kiss up.  It’s almost as if the Russians have something on him as well.

It was also funny to watch Congressman Trey Gowdy put on his best self-righteous prosecutor show to be outraged at the release of information by members of the intelligence community.  Nevermind that the information proved that one of Trump’s top minions, Michael Flynn, was a pathological and public liar.  Nope, Gowdy was upset that classified information was leaked!  Nevermind that Gowdy himself incompetently leaked the name of a CIA source in 2015, thereby exposing classified information.  Do you think he will ask for himself to be arrested for releasing classified information?  Or maybe just for being a huge suck up and imbecile?

This follows a long line of recent examples of Trump pushing Russian propaganda.  Most recently, we had the Trump White House pushing the lie that the British were wiretapping Trump during the election.  When the British became upset, however, they had to backtrack significantly.  It seems our allies don’t like it when we tell lies about them.  Especially when the lies are manufactured and pushed by the Russians.

The underlying takeaway from the hearing today, however, is that Russia interfered with our elections.  The intent clearly was to hurt Hillary Clinton and to help Trump.

It is also clear that members of the Trump entourage were well aware of the hacking and were even aware of specific instances of hacking.  The best of example of this is Roger Stone, a core Trump flunky, who publicly began talking about the leaking of John Podesta’s (a Hillary flunky) e-mails before they were even leaked to the public.  In other words, a Russian source was obviously keeping Stone (if not Trump himself) updated on all of their hacking.

The FBI is on the record now as investigating the Trump campaign, and even Trump himself, for their involvement in the Russian hacking scandal.  Stay tuned.