Tag Archives: Watergate

‘Rage’ ends with … rage

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Bob Woodward crossed a line that reporters don’t usually dare to cross. He delivered a stinging rebuke of the subject of a book he has just written.

“Rage” chronicles Donald Trump’s deception — among other things — regarding the pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 Americans. We hear from Trump’s own voice how he “downplayed” the pandemic so as to avoid “panic” among Americans. He undersold the threat even though he knew it would be a killer of many thousands of Americans.

Woodward, the legendary Washington Post reporter who, with Carl Bernstein, unraveled the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, couldn’t resist the temptation to offer a scathing indictment on Donald Trump at the very end of “Rage.”

“When his performance as president is taken in its entirety,” he intones, “I can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job.”

OK. I happen to agree with him. So do millions of other Americans. To be fair, millions of other Americans believe Trump is the greatest president in history. I believe those folks are tragically mistaken.

Do I condemn or condone what Woodward wrote at the end of his latest book. I will condone it, but with a caveat: He no longer can be assigned to work on any aspect of a future story on Donald Trump being reported by the Washington Post.

Woodward said he consulted with his wife, Elsa, who edited his work. He talked to other editors, book publishers, colleagues at the Post. They all agreed that he had to keep that ending in the book.

Woodward told the truth as I have known it all along about Donald John Trump.

Trump is all the ‘Rage’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Robert Woodward practically needs no introduction.

He is a legendary journalist who, with the equally legendary Carl Bernstein, produced a body of work that resulted in the near impeachment and resignation on an American president.

So now he has sat down with Donald Trump and is about to release a new book called “Rage.” What did Trump tell Woodward … to his face? Oh, just that he knew in February that the coronavirus pandemic was serious and could kill thousands of people but that he kept that information from the public.

Trump told Woodward, “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

OK, there you go. Donald Trump took an oath to protect Americans. He has admitted to Robert Woodward that he welshed on that promise. On purpose!

How in the world is Trump going to defend this once the book is published? Oh, I know. He’ll say Woodward made the quotes up, that he never said it and that the legendary journalist is a practitioner of “fake news.”

To think as well that millions of Americans will buy into the president’s ridiculous denial!

Feels like the first time

Anxiousness is setting in as I await Election Day.

To be candid, I do not believe I have felt quite like this prior to a presidential election since, oh, the first time I was able to cast my ballot. That was in 1972. A long time ago, yes? However, I do have much the same sense of anticipation that I felt way back when I was so much younger.

I want this outcome to turn out the right way. I want Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. to be elected president over Donald John Trump Sr. I want Trump banished from the White House, from my house, from your house.

I was a freshly scrubbed registered voter in 1972 when I got to vote for the first time. I had served my country in the U.S. Army. I returned home from my two-year stint impassioned to change the course of the nation. The Vietnam War was raging. I had gotten a look at that war up close for a bit of time and came away more confused about it than I was when I arrived there in the spring of 1969. They were still shooting guns, dropping bombs and killing people with the same regularity when I left as when I arrived.

I wanted that war to end.

I lined up behind Sen. George McGovern. I wanted President Nixon to lose the election. I wanted then, as I do now, a dramatic course correction for our nation. It didn’t work out well for us then. Nixon was bigly, as in really huge.

That’s where the symmetry between then and now ends.

Many presidential elections have come and gone, of course. Some of them turned out the way I preferred. Some of them went the other way. The nation survived. I feared we might not survive the 1972 election result. It turned out that another matter, Watergate, intervened to take care of things for us. Nixon quit less than two years later.

I am sensing much the same anxiousness now as I was then. Add a bit of anxiety, and you might grasp a bit more the importance I am attaching to ridding the nation of the repulsive conduct of our commander in chief.

Yep, it feels like the first time.

Where are the GOP ‘heroes’?

What you see here is a Twitter message fired off by U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, the freshman Utah Republican who, during Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, cast the only GOP vote to convict Trump on an abuse of power allegation brought by the House of Representatives.

Now, Trump has commuted the 40-month federal prison sentence of Roger Stone, POTUS’s longtime political ally and personal friend.

Romney so far has emerged as the only Republican in either congressional chamber with a semblance of a spine. His tweet condemning the commutation speaks volumes about why Trump’s decision is so terribly self-serving and dangerous.

I am thinking now of something the great journalist Carl Bernstein, who covered the Watergate scandal in the 1970s for the Washington Post, recently said about how that scandal unfolded, leading eventually to President Nixon’s resignation.

Bernstein talked about the Republican “heroes” who emerged to challenge the president directly. They stood on the principle that no one is above the law and that they, in good conscience, could not support the GOP president who had covered up his campaign’s participation in the burglary of the Democratic National Committee offices.

Those heroes, Bernstein said, are what brought an end to what became known as “our long national nightmare.”

Where in the name of political heroism are the rest of the GOP congressional caucus when it concerns this president?

Sen. Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, is standing alone against the cult of personality that Donald Trump has created?

Obsession with Obama seeks to conceal hideous reality

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald J. Trump’s obsession with Barack H. Obama is beginning to look increasingly like a deflection of our attention from a hideous truth about the current presidential administration.

It is that Trump has presided over the most corrupt executive government branch at least since the era of Richard M. Nixon. Indeed, there is an argument being made that the corruption level of the Trump administration dwarfs what we saw during the Nixon administration.

More of Trump’s men have gone to prison than those who served time during Nixon’s time.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues to insist that President Obama presided over the “most corrupt” administration in U.S. history. Of course, and this is no surprise, he seeks to tie Vice President Joe Biden to what he alleges was the corruption of the Obama years. You get that, right? I mean, Biden is about to be nominated by the Democratic Party to run against Trump this fall and at this moment Biden appears headed for a smashing victory.

We have a former national security adviser who has pleaded guilty to lying to authorities; a former Trump friend and “fixer” has just been hauled back to the slammer for violating the terms of his house arrest; other campaign officials have been cloistered behind bars; that includes the guy who ran Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Trump flails away saying that it’s all a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” It is neither of those things. Trump has presided over an administration fraught with criminal activity … not to mention scandals involving all manner of accusations.

His defense? To deflect attention by suggesting that President Obama and Vice President Biden — of all people — sat atop the most corrupt administration in history.

Oh, and how many people were indicted or served prison time during the eight years of Obama’s time in office? None.

Where is the next Howard Baker?

U.S. Sen. Howard Baker asked what has become the centerpiece  question of the Senate Watergate hearings of 1973: What did the president know and when did he know it? 

The late great Tennessee Republican sought to get to the root of what President Nixon knew of the Watergate break-in at the Democratic National Committee office and whether he sought to cover it up.

Sen. Baker’s legacy comes to mind as the nation ponders whether Donald J. Trump received a briefing about a hostile power offering to pay bounties on the deaths of American service personnel.

In other words, what did the president know and when did he know it?

The New York Times initially reported that intelligence officers had the information. Trump, as is his style, denigrated the Times reporting, calling it “fake news.” Then came more reporting from the Wall Street Journal, from The Associated Press that Trump received briefings in written form.

Trump says he never was briefed. Oh, but the AP reports that John Bolton, the former national security adviser, told Trump — to his face — about the intelligence he had received as early as March 2019.

Trump says he didn’t know about it. Others offer much different pictures of what he knew and when he knew it.

As has been mentioned before on this blog, Trump’s credibility on every issue on Earth is suspect. He cannot tell the truth. He is unwilling or unable to speak truthfully … about anything. Thus, I am one American who doesn’t believe a single thing we hear from this presidential imposter.

We are faced with at least two terrible prospects.

  • One is that the president knew about the intelligence reports and did nothing to stop a hostile foreign power from paying terrorists when they kill our service personnel.
  • The other is that he received the briefings on his desk, but didn’t look at them. He didn’t bother to read the important material that had been brought to him by the intelligence experts who spend their careers working to protect U.S. interests from hostile acts.

If he knew about it and did nothing to stop this hideous activity, then we have a president who — in my mind — has committed a treasonous act.

What did Donald Trump know and when did he know it? We need a full accounting of the wreckage this imbecile has done to the nation’s highest office.

Oh, how we need a dose of the courage that Howard Baker exhibited during that earlier intense crisis.

Trump = law and order? Bwahahaha!

When I hear Donald J. “Criminal in Chief” Trump proclaim himself to be the “law and order president,” I cannot stop thinking of all the individuals who helped elect him and who served in the government who are, um, fighting to stay out of prison … or who actually are serving prison terms.

He channels another crooked president, Richard Nixon, who made many of the same proclamations while running for president in 1968 and again in 1972. It didn’t work out well for President Nixon, whose attorney general went to prison along with his chief of staff, chief domestic policy adviser and an assortment of campaign flunkies. Nixon, of course, quit the presidency just as the House of Representatives was preparing to impeach him. The Senate was sure to convict him as well of obstruction of justice and abuse of power. So the president, cutting his losses, high-tailed it to San Clemente, Calif.

So, I guess Trump is channeling Nixon, all right. You see, he is facing the same sorry outcome for his various minions, too. Yet he continues to declare he is going to bring “law … and order” to America “right here and right now.” Give me a break, dude.

I actually am believing that Donald Trump is outperforming Richard Nixon in the Crooked Presidency Sweepstakes. Good grief, I have lost count of the criminal indictments that have landed in the laps of Trump toadies. Some of them have resulted in guilty pleas and prison time.

So, when Donald Trump makes his “law and order” declarations, I am inclined to suppress derisive laughter. Except that it isn’t funny. The presidential imposter is a disgrace to the office he occupies.

Concern over Trump turns to fear

My concern over the horrifying possibility of Donald Trump being re-elected to a second term as president of the United States is giving way to outright dread.

I fear for the country. And for the system of government that the Nitwit in Chief has co-opted.

Having been impeached by the House of Representatives and then having been acquitted by the Senate in a sham trial, Trump already has wielded some of the ill-gotten political capital he was able acquire. Trump continues to issue executive orders doing away with regulations approved during the Obama administration. He continues to bully his foes and continues to threaten to do things that flout constitutional norms.

So then the question for me becomes: What will this idiot do during a second term? There can be no way to predict anything when it involves this clown.

Consider his reaction to the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis and the uproar it has produced in cities all across the land. What will happen if the demonstrations continue? What might the Control Freak in Chief do if he deems that all those protests — even those of the peaceful variety — are more than he can bear to witness?

The bullsh** he touts about sending in “heavily armed” troops to quell protests is scary in the extreme. How many more general grade officers will stride down the path blazed by former Defense Secretary James Mattis, or former White House chief of staff John Kelly, or former Special Operations Commander Admiral William McRaven? They all have told us how they fear what Donald Trump will do, how he seeks actively to divide the nation, how he ignores constitutional principles.

I long have held out hope that our Constitution would protect us from presidential predilections. Gerald Ford told us in August 1974 that “our Constitution works” as he assumed the presidency in a time of dire peril for the nation. I was a young whipper-snapper then, full of political piss and vinegar. The trial and turmoil we’re experiencing these days seems different to me now that I am so much older.

However, I am clinging to the hope that the Constitution that worked so well during that earlier crisis will continue to do its job … even as the current presidential fraud seeks to inflict grievous damage.

It is a frightening spectacle to watch. Oh, how I want this upcoming election to produce the desired result.

Prosecutors exhibit courage in quitting this probe

Four prosecutors who recommended a seven- to nine-year prison term for a convicted felon who’s also a friend of Donald John Trump have quit.

Why? Because the attorney general of the United States, William Barr, has said he wants to reduce their recommendation to send Trump pal Roger Stone to the slammer for as long as nine years.

Does this seem like political meddling in the criminal justice process? It does to me.

And who, pre-tell, ordered this recommendation? It might have come from, oh let’s see, the White House.

Stone is awaiting sentencing for lying under oath and for hindering the investigation into the Russian collusion matter that ended up on special counsel Robert Mueller III’s desk.

Trump called the career prosecutors’ sentence recommendation a “miscarriage of justice.” My question now is whether Barr acted on the president’s Twitter rant. If so, then it looks for all the world to me as though we have yet another case of presidential meddling where it does not belong.

The prosecutors who quit have shown considerable backbone and grit in walking away from their responsibilities in this matter. They remind me of when AG Elliot Richardson and his deputy William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than follow President Nixon’s order in 1973 to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox as the Watergate scandal began to spin out of control.

These four prosecutors today can stand tall for the principle they have endorsed.

‘Our Constitution works’

I am fond of recalling the words of a brand new president who took office in the wake of a dark time in American history.

Gerald Rudolph Ford placed his hand on a Bible, recited the presidential oath of office, then stood before the world to declare that “our Constitution works.” He succeeded Richard Nixon, who quit earlier that day to avoid being impeached. The Watergate scandal brought down the Nixon presidency.

Yes, the Constitution worked just as it should during that time.

It is working now as another president faces the unforgiving assurance that every morning he awakes for the rest of his life, he will be an “impeached president.”

Yes, the Constitution works, just as President Ford declared on Aug. 9, 1974.

No matter the outcome of the Senate trial that is pending, the Constitution will have done its job. If the president is cleared, it will have worked. If he is convicted and removed from office, it will have performed as the framers constructed it.

Almost no one believes the current president will be kicked out of office. A failure to convict him doesn’t mean failure for the Constitution. It means only, to my mind, that an insufficient number of senators were willing to put duty to the nation ahead of fealty to a president. That doesn’t besmirch the Constitution, under which the House impeached Donald Trump and the Senate conducted its trial.

It is good at times like this to take a step back and look at the big picture. The framers crafted a brilliant governing document. It’s a bit clunky at times, but that’s the nature of a representative democracy, which is as Winston Churchill described it: a lousy form of government, but better than anything else ever produced by human beings.

My faith in the system remains as strong as ever, regardless of the outcome that more than likely awaits the nation at the end of this process.

I shall cherish the words that President Ford spoke moments after assuming the nation’s highest office: Our Constitution works.