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James Comey, a Washington Operator, Knows How to Play the Game

Mattathias Schwartz, Ryan Devereaux

June 8 2017, 9:00 p.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey cut an impressive figure during his sworn testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. His presentation was poised, low-key, and almost cold-blooded as he laid out what amounted to a meticulously constructed case against President Donald Trump. Two overflow rooms and multiple live network broadcasts suggested that Comey's mastery of public relations and the theater of government rivaled that of his former boss. The image of a decent government man dutifully saying his piece stood in defiant contrast to the atmosphere of vulgarity and naked self-interest that Trump has brought to the Oval Office.
But the character who appears in Comey's written accounts of his meetings with Trump the James Comey who the former FBI director asked the committee to believe was a far humbler man than the one who showed up for the hearing. Despite Comey's self-reported concerns that Trump's pattern of inappropriate and possibly illegal conduct was a threat to the independence of the FBI, he never fully voiced those concerns to Trump's face while he was among the nation's top law enforcement officials. Instead, he wrote them down.
Today, Comey revealed that his release of details from his conversations with Trump was carefully timed to trigger the appointment of a special counsel, a development that could bring about the end of Trump's presidency. Beneath the mask of the by-the-book, duty-driven Comey was a more cunning man, an operator who quickly identified a dangerous adversary and plotted several moves ahead in order to get the best of him.
Comey's private accounting began on January 6, when he met Trump for the first time in a conference room at Trump Tower. Gen. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence at the time, asked Comey to stay behind and brief Trump on a dossier of salacious allegations that had been circulating in the media. Comey wrote, "I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the president-elect in a memo." Today, he offered the committee a more detailed account of his motives. It was "a combination of things," Comey said. "I think the circumstances, the subject matter, and the person I was interacting with."
"Circumstances: First, I was alone with the president of the United States, or the president-elect, soon to be president," Comey went on. "The subject matter: I was talking about matters that touch on the FBI's core responsibility and that relate to the president-elect personally. And then the nature of the person. I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document. That combination of things I had never experienced before, but it led me to believe I got to write it down, and I got to write it down in a very detailed way."
Comey said that he began chronicling the first meeting immediately upon getting back to his car, on a classified laptop. (Comey's personal memos on Trump, he said on Thursday, were written in such a way as to avoid containing classified information.) His initial instincts about Trump's integrity were correct. Trump fired Comey, offered a shifting and contradictory series of explanations, and claimed in a tweet that his meetings with Comey had been taped.
"Lordy, I hope there are tapes," Comey said on Thursday. He said that Trump's claim about tapes offered the prospect that his account of Trump's conduct including an explicit demand that Comey pledge his loyalty to Trump could be corroborated. "Holy cow, there might be tapes!" is how Comey put it. "And if there are tapes, it's not just my word against his."
[Image: james-comey-testimony-fbi-2-1496948225.jpg]Former FBI Director James Comey speaks during a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, June 8, 2017, in Washington.
Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Comey, who led an FBI that investigated multiple leakers of classified information under President Barack Obama, awoke in the middle of the night and decided to leak against the president. He gave portions of his records to a friend, whom he described as a law professor at Columbia University, who passed portions of them on to the media. "My judgment was that I needed to get that out into the public square," Comey said. (A Washington Post reporter confirmed that the professor was Dan Richman.)
Comey knew exactly what would happen if he leaked the memo. "Didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons," he said, "but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. So I asked a close friend of mine to do it." When news of the memo which recalled Trump's request to back off investigating then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's Russia ties emerged in the New York Times in mid-May, it quickly became the loudest drumbeat toward a special investigation. A day later, Rod Rosenstein, the acting attorney general for the investigation into Trump's Russia ties, appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to the special counsel position. Comey's plan worked to a tee.
Comey said that he did try, at times, to educate the new president about the role of the FBI. "I also tried to explain to him why the FBI should be apart," he said, speaking of the January 27 meeting, where, by Comey's account, Trump asked for loyalty. "It got very awkward." Comey's statement said he told Trump that "blurring those boundaries" between the White House and the FBI "ultimately makes [White House] problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work." Nevertheless, Comey wrote, Trump persisted in complaining to him about the FBI's investigation of Flynn. Trump repeatedly called it "a cloud" over the White House.
Comey vigorously defended the intelligence community's assessment that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election. "It was an active measures campaign driven by the top of that government," he said. "That happened. It is not a close call. That is about as unfake as you can possibly get." He said he had seen no evidence that the Russians had succeeded in changing the actual vote. (Earlier this week, The Intercept released a top-secret NSA document describing Russian attempts to penetrate a private company that supplies voting software and the accounts of more than 100 local election officials.) Nor did Comey say whether the ongoing investigation of links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government had produced evidence of collusion.
Throughout the hearing, Comey was repeatedly asked about the role Attorney General Jeff Sessions played in the Russia-Trump saga. Comey and other senior officials at the FBI had decided to withhold Trump's alleged pressure regarding the Flynn investigation from Sessions, their boss by virtue of his position atop the Department of Justice. In both his prepared remarks and his testimony, Comey maintained that Trump requested Sessions to leave the room during the February 14 meeting at the Oval Office in which the president asked the former FBI director to let go of the investigation into Flynn. "My impression was something big is about to happen," Comey said of the moment Sessions was reportedly asked to step out. "My sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving."
Comey claims to have shared the details of his conversations with the president with a circle of senior officials at the FBI. He said the group included "the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director's chief counsel, and I think in a number of circumstances, the No. 3 in the FBI, and a few of the conversations included the head of the national security branch."
"I think they were as shocked and troubled by it as I was," Comey said of Trump's comments on Flynn. The question, Comey testified, then became, "Should we share this with any senior officials at the Justice Department?" He added that the FBI's first priority was to ensure that the president's comments were not shared with the FBI agents working the investigation into Flynn. Beyond that, Comey said, the plan was to keep the details of Trump's comments close, to "hold it, keep it in a box." He explained, "It was our word against the president's." Comey testified that he "specifically did not" tell Sessions about Trump's comments on Flynn. "He was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons" from the FBI's Russia investigation, Comey said, which he described as "touching" but "separate" from the government's investigation into Flynn.
How exactly Comey and his colleagues at the FBI knew that Sessions's recusal was imminent is not entirely clear, though Comey did testify that there were additional facts regarding the decision not to inform Sessions that could not be described in open session. Following the February 14 conversation with Trump regarding Flynn, Comey claims to have asked Sessions to never again be left alone with Trump. "I report to you, it's very important that you be between me and the White House," Comey said of the message he conveyed to the attorney general. Comey testified that his request was met with silence, and that Sessions's "body language gave me the sense, like, What am I gonna do?'"
Did Trump's conduct amount to obstruction of justice? "I don't think it's for me to say," Comey replied when asked by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the committee's chair. But Comey's language could be interpreted to suggest that he now believes Trump committed a crime. A person committing obstruction of justice is defined by law as "whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter of communication, endeavors to influence" court proceedings, or "the administration of justice," which could include the Flynn investigation. Comey used the word "endeavor" toward the end of his testimony. "I was fired because of the Russia investigation," he said. "The endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted." And Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said that Trump's conduct on January 27 was a "threat." "The president appears to have threatened the director's job," Warner said, "while saying, I expect loyalty.'"
Robert Mueller Supposedly Has An Impeccable Reputation, But...
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[TD="class: post_head"] [Image: user-offline.png]paulmichael [/TD]
[TD="class: post_head"] [Image: to_post_off.gif] Today, 06:51 AM
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Group: Active Forum Pilot
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[TD="class: post2, width: 100%"] Didn't Robert Mueller assume the role of Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation just a few short days before the events of 9/11/2001, and was he not still in that role when his boss John Ashcroft went before TV cameras a day after 9/11 with a poster of nineteen 9/11 perpetrators, NO PROPER LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATION OF 9/11 HAVING THEN OR EVER BEEN DONE?

The ethicists say that if you are in a situation marked by dishonesty, then you are to resign immediately and seek employment elsewhere.

I don't recall Mr. Mueller's resignation over 9/11's being an issue.

Is Mr. Mueller the man to conduct an investigation into Donald Trump, his minions, and Russian interference into American affairs?[/TD]
This person's point is IMHO well taken, but not to the point. The range of people selected/selectable in D.C. for ANYTHING run the gamut from A to B [Z being honest and full of independent integrity].....Mueller is what we have and likely the best of the bad we can expect.
[FONT=&amp]Trump survived James Comey's testimony, but the fallout could be fatal

[FONT=&amp]The former FBI director threw out a trail of clues for the special counsel to follow in the Trump-Russia investigation, which looks set to shadow his presidency
What James Comey did not say may ultimately prove as telling as what he did during his blockbuster questioning by members of the Senate intelligence committee.

David Smith in Washington
[FONT=&amp]Sunday 11 June 2017 11.34 BSTFirst published on Saturday 10 June 2017 11.00 BST[/FONT]

At 10.20pm, Kellyanne Conway wandered in from the landscaped gardens of the British ambassador's residence, built in the 1920s and resembling an English country house in the heart of Washington. An Andy Warhol portrait of the Queen watched from above the ornate fireplace as results of the British election flashed up on a giant TV screen.
Conway, a senior adviser at the White House, could not quite escape questions about former FBI director James Comey's testimony earlier in the day. Donald Trump had "never intended to tweet" during the session, she told the Guardian, with a dismissive air that implied he had much better things to do.
[FONT=&amp]Comey testimony: Trump could have had 'chilling effect' on Russia investigation as it happened

[FONT=&amp]Comey testified before the Senate select committee on intelligence, saying he had no doubt' that Russia was behind various intrusions in the US election[/FONT]

But the president, who broke his Twitter silence less than eight hours later, may be in a similar position to Theresa May. He survived for sure, but with a self-inflicted wound that could yet prove mortal. Comey threw out a trail of clues for special counsel Robert Mueller to follow in his investigation of Trump's alleged collusion with Russia, which looks set to shadow his presidency for years.
"History will remember it as a significant inflection point," said Norm Eisen, former ethics czar under Barack Obama. "We've had leaked and hearsay evidence before but now, for the first time, we had direct evidence of obstruction of justice. It was a giant step forward towards accountability for Trump, but there will be many more giant steps necessary."
What Comey did not say may ultimately prove as telling as what he did during his blockbuster questioning by members of the Senate intelligence committee. Although he declined to describe Trump's plea on behalf of Michael Flynn as obstruction of justice, Comey made the first public suggestion that Mueller will investigate the president himself. "That's a conclusion that I'm sure the special counsel will work towardsto try and understand what the intention was there and whether that's an offence," he said.
Republicans seized on Comey's remark that Trump is not "literally" under a counterintelligence investigation and was content for his "satellites" to be scrutinised if necessary. But when the ex-FBI director was asked if the direction of the investigation could include the president, he carefully replied: "As I explained, the concern of one of my senior leader colleagues was, if you're looking at potential coordination between the campaign and Russia, the person at the head of the campaign is the candidate. So, logically, this person argued, the candidate's knowledge, understanding, will logically become a part of your inquiry if it proceeds."
As for those satellites, Comey implied that Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, may have more links to Russia than have already been established. Sessions announced his recusal from the investigation in March, under pressure from revelations of previously undisclosed meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
"Our judgment, as I recall, was that he was very close and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons," Comey said. "We were also aware of facts that I can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic."

Sessions, already rumoured to be at odds with his boss, is due to appear at a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, and Democrats have said they will use it as an opportunity to grill him about Russian contacts.
Comey also told the hearing that he had explained to Sessions' deputy, Rod Rosenstein, "my serious concern about the way in which the president is interacting, especially with the FBI". Only days later, Rosenstein wrote a controversial memo providing Trump with reasons to fire Comey.
[FONT=&amp]oaded: 0%

Progress: 0%



Highlights from former FBI director Comey's testimonyThe former director gave Mueller another lead in his recollection of a dinner at the White House in January where Trump demanded his loyalty. "I could be wrong, but my common sense told me what's going on here is that he's looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job," he said.
And intriguingly, Comey refused to answer a question about Vnesheconombank (Veb), a Russian government-owned development bank associated with Vladimir Putin. Trump's adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met last year with Veb executives.
Then there was a seemingly trivial but telling detail: Trump's chronic incuriosity about Russia's attack on American democracy. Comey could not recall the president asking about it but gave a dire, heartfelt warning of Moscow's aggressive intentions. David Axelrod, former campaign manager for Barack Obama, tweeted: "Apart from obstruction issue, the most troubling aspect of Comey's testimony was @POTUS evident lack of interest in Russian cyber attack."

And with a sense of political theatre, Comey also dangled the Nixonian prospect of secret tape recordings for Mueller to go after. "I've seen the tweet about tapes," he said. "Lordy, I hope there are tapes."
In all, Comey put down some tantalising dots for Mueller to join. But rightwing media were quick to make their own patterns. They contended that Trump is not under investigation, there is no obstruction of justice and there is still no proof of Russian collusion. They seized on Comey's disclosure that he indirectly passed on his memos about private conversations to the media. Trump himself tweeted, "WOW, Comey is a leaker!" and his legal team began preparing a legal complaint against him.
It was a classic Trump tactic practised throughout his business career, throwing sand into the gears of his opponents to deflect and divert from his own troubles. Comey's words were weaponised by both sides and that works to his advantage.
[FONT=&amp]A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest[/FONT]
Simon and Garfunkel
Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and pollster, reflected: "It was worse than it needed to be [for Trump] but not as bad as it could have been. There's a line in the Simon and Garfunkel song The Boxer: "A man hears what he wants to hear/ And disregards the rest."
"If you're a Trump fan, you think Comey broke the law by leaking documents. If you're a Trump foe, you think there's enough to impeach the president. There's something here for everyone and that means everyone is hurt. It's so bad for American democracy."
Clearly, there is a long way to go and impeachment remains a remote prospect in a Republican controlled House. Lisa Kern Griffin, a law professor at Duke University, said: "It is an enormously complex investigation. A case of this type even without the national security dimensions, the international financial evidence, and the context of electoral politics would ordinarily take years for federal agents to investigate.
"There is some urgency to this, and no doubt the special counsel and his team will move as quickly as possible, but they also have to be especially careful. It will be months or even years before they reach any definitive conclusions."


Impeach the U.S. Constitution

Posted on Jun 10, 2017
By Paul Street
[Image: ImpeachConstitutionMadison_590.jpg]
A statue of President James Madison at Montpelier, Madison's home in Orange, Va. (Steve Helber / AP)

I am always darkly amused when I hear one of my fellow Americans call for a return from our current "deep state" plutocracy and empire to the supposedly benevolent and democratic rules and values of the nation's sacred founders and Constitution. Democracy was the last thing the nation's founders wanted to see break out in the new republic. Drawn from the elite propertied segments in the new republic, most of the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention shared their compatriot John Jay's view that "Those who own the country ought to govern it."
As the celebrated U.S. historian Richard Hofstader noted in his classic 1948 text, "The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It": "In their minds, liberty was linked not to democracy but to property." Democracy was a dangerous concept to them, conferring "unchecked rule by the masses," which was "sure to bring arbitrary redistribution of property, destroying the very essence of liberty."
Hofstader's take on the founders was borne out in historian Jennifer Nedelsky's comprehensively researched volume, "Private Property and the Limits of American Constitutionalism," in 1990. For all but one of the U.S. Constitution's framers (James Wilson), Nedelsky noted, protection of "property" (meaning the people who owned large amounts of it) was "the main object of government." The non-affluent, non-propertied and slightly propertied popular majority was for the framers "a problem to be contained."
Against The Secret Sigh for a More Equal Distribution'Anyone who doubts the anti-democratic character of the founders' world view should read The Federalist Papers, written by the leading advocates of the U.S. Constitution to garner support for their preferred form of national government in 1787 and 1788. In Federalist No. 10, James Madison argued that democracies were "spectacles of turbulence … incompatible with … the rights of property." Democratic governments gave rise, Madison felt, to "factious leaders" who could "kindle a flame" among dangerous masses for "wicked projects" like "abolition of debts" and "an equal division of property. … Extend the [geographic] sphere [of the U.S. republic]," Madison wrote, and it becomes "more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength and act in union with each other."
At the Constitutional Convention, Madison backed an upper U.S. legislative assembly (the Senate) of elite property holders to check a coming "increase of population" certain to "increase the proportion of those who will labour under all the hardships of life, and secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings" [emphasis added]. "These may in time outnumber those who are placed above the feelings of indigence. According to the equal laws of suffrage, the power will slide into the hands of the former."
In Federalist No. 35, the future first U.S. secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton, argued that the common people found their proper political representatives among the small class of wealthy merchant capitalists. "The idea of an actual representation of all classes of people by persons of each class," Hamilton wrote, "is altogether visionary." The "weight and superior acquirements of the merchants render them more equal" than the "other classes," Hamilton proclaimed.
Checkmating Democracy
Consistent with these sentiments, the nation's rich white fathers crafted a form of "popular government" (their deceptive term) that was a monument to popular incapacitation. The U.S. Constitution divided the federal government into three parts, with just one-half of one of those three parts (the House of Representatives) elected directly by "the people"a category that excluded blacks, women, Native Americans and property-less white males (that is, most people in the early republic). It set up elaborate checks and balances to prevent the possibility of the laboring multitude influencing policy. It introduced a system of intermittent, curiously time-staggered elections (two years for the House, six years for the Senate, and four years for the presidency) precisely to discourage sweeping popular electoral rebellions. It created a Supreme Court appointed for life with veto power over legislation or executive actions that might too strongly bear the imprint of the "secretly sigh[ing]" multitude. It sanctified the epic "un-freedom" and "anti-democracy" of black slavery, permitting slave states to count their disenfranchised chattel toward their congressional apportionment in the House of Representatives. The Constitution's curious Electoral College provision guaranteed that the popular majority would not directly select the U.S. presidenteven on the limited basis of one vote for each propertied white male.
It is true that the Constitution's Article V provided a mechanism technically permitting "We the People" to amend the nation's charter. But the process for seriously amending the U.S. Constitution was and remains exceedingly difficult, short of revolutionary and civil war. As the progressive Constitution critic Daniel Lazare observes, "Moments after establishing the people as the omnipotent makers and breakers of constitutions, [the 1787 U.S. Constitution] announced that … [c]hanging so much as a comma in the Constitution would require the approval of two-thirds of each house of Congress plus three-fourths of the states. … The people did not assert their sovereignty in Philadelphia in 1787. Rather, the founders invoked it. Once they uttered the magic incantation, moreover, they hastened to put the genie back in the bottle by declaring the people all but powerless to alter their own plan of government."
Minority Right-Wing Rule 2017
I can already hear the objection: "So what? That was 228 years ago, when the nation's leaders still wore powdered wigs, and slavery was the law of the land. We have since developed a modern democracy based on universal suffrageone where the principal barriers to popular governance are about money and the corrupting power that flows from its over-concentration in too few hands."
There are at least two key problems with this seemingly commonsense critique. First, the ever-greater concentration of wealth (and hence of power) is the consequence of the capitalism that was precisely the handiwork of the very propertied elites who were protected against the "wicked" masses by the Constitution.
Second, we are still dealing on numerous levels with the purposefully authoritarian consequences of the nation's founding charter. The Constitution is no small part of how a nation that votes primarily for a majority centrist party, the Democrats, gets strangely ruled at present by an ever more ultra-right government led by a minority partythe Republicans.
Look at the Electoral College system, designed to curb democracy and expressly crafted to elevate the power of the slave states. By giving each state an extra vote for both senators they send to Washington (no matter how small or large each state's populations), it triples the clout of the nation's eight smallest states and doubles that of the next six states relative to their populations.
For the fifth time in history and the second in this century, the Electoral College has installed a president who failed to win the national popular vote. Donald Trump, the biggest popular vote-loser to ever inhabit the White House, is a reckless megalomaniac, racist, sexist, militarist and malignant narcissist. He's an ecocidal climate change denier who should not be allowed anywhere near the nation's energy policy or its nuclear codes. It's not for nothing that even the depressing and highly unpopular "lying neoliberal warmonger" Hillary Clinton polled 2.8 million more votes than he did last November.
The widely loathed "Orange-Tinted Beast" made it into the world's most powerful and dangerous job thanks in no small part to the Electoral College, which renders presidential campaigning irrelevant (and close to nonexistent) in most of the nation, gives absurdly outsized weight to disproportionately white and right-leaning rural states and openly violates the core democratic principles of majority rule and one-person, one-vote.
Along with some help from the Supreme Court, the ludicrous Electoral College is also part of how popular vote-loser George W. Bush (who criminally invaded Iraq partly out of the belief that doing so was God's will) ascended to the presidency in 2000-2001.
Thanks to Trump's ascendancy and the Republican-run U.S. Senate's "check and balance" refusal to let Barack Obama appoint a Supreme Court justice to fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia, the minority, ultra-right GOP is about to re-solidify its control of a second of the nation's top four governing institutionsthe appointed-for-life Supreme Court.
Things are even crazier in the U.S. Senate, the third such institution under minority-party, right-wing control. The GOP holds a 52-48 margin in the upper chamber, even though Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate outpolled Republican opponents by 10.5 million votes last November. Thanks in no small part to the simple and expressly anti-democratic slant that the Constitution givesin the name of "equal suffrage for the states"the 2 percent of Americans who live in the nation's nine smallest states have the same amount of senatorial representation as the 51 percent who live in the nation's nine largest states.
Wyoming, home to more than 586,000 Americans, holds senatorial parity with California, where more than 39 million Americans reside. Due to "a growing population shift from the agricultural interior to crowded corridors along the coast," Lazare explains, "it is possible now to win the majority of the U.S. Senate with just 17.6 percent of the popular vote."
And then there's the House of Representatives, where the widely hated Republican Party enjoys a 47-vote majority even though it outpolled the Democrats by just over 1 percent in House races last fall.
You Had Your Input'
In some rich nations operating with parliamentary systems, Trump would be well understood by now to have failed to create a functioning governing coalition. Politicians and citizens would reasonably be calling for new national elections. But nobody thinks of calling for new elections in the U.S., of course. The Constitution mandates that qualified voters go to the polls to select presidents once every four years, national senators (apportioned two per state regardless of wildly different population sizes among the nation's 50 states) once every six years, and (lower) House representatives (apportioned in accord with population but along now strictly gerrymandered geographical lines), once every two years. As George W. Bush's White House spokesperson Dana Perino explained in March of 2008 when asked if the citizenry should have "input" on U.S. foreign policy: "You had your input. The American people have input every four years, and that's the way our system is set up" [emphasis added].
Perino was on all-too-strong constitutional ground. So was Trump when he tweeted in response to the historic mass demonstrations that followed his inauguration: "Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote?" Never mind that most of the marchers likely did vote or that most U.S. citizens think public opinion should matter to a presidentnot just as a politician once every four years but also as a policymaker every day.
The Constitution says you get to vote for a U.S. president in a voting booth for two minutes or so once every 1,460 days.
Hello, Mike Pence?
You can advocate Trump's constitutional impeachment (by the House) and removal (by the Senate). Trump has certainly given the House numerous grounds for impeachment, but the barriers to removal are high. The two houses of Congress, the House and the Senate, are both under the control of the president's nominal party, the Republicans, and the Republicans are determined to get everything they can from a weakened Trump when it comes to advancing their radically regressive, racist, ecocidal and arch-plutocratic agenda. It takes a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove a president. It's never happened (though Richard Nixon would have likely been impeached and removed had he not resigned).
But what would impeachment and removal give the nation under the "holy" Constitution but the presidency of arch-right-wing Republican Mike Pence? You think Trump is scary? Under Pence's superficially re-legitimizing rule, the Republican agenda that most of the populace hates could sail through Washington with chilling speed. The U.S. Constitution says that impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate makes the Christian white nationalist Mike Pence POTUS.
Another constitutional path of removal, on 25th Amendment grounds of incapacitation or incompetence, faces similar problems.
Money Is Speech: Supremes Say So
So suck it up and get back in shape for the next holy quadrennial electoral extravaganza to vote a Democrat into the White House, right? Why bother? The Democrats are every bit as corporatized and sold-out to the financial plutocracy and its military empireto the capitalist class and system that emerged out of national development under the rule of the propertied elite the founders worked so brilliantly to protectas the Republicans.
This is thanks in part to the outrageously outsize role that big-money campaign contributions play in determining the outcomes of the nation's evermore absurdly expensive elections. And that role is traceable in part to the U.S. Constitution. The founders created the Supreme Court as a critical appointed-for-life check on the popular will. And in two landmark decisions, Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and Citizens United (2010), the high court has ruled that private campaign contributions are "free speech" and that there are no "constitutional" limits to be set on how much the rich and powerful can invest in the giant organized bribery project that is U.S. campaign finance.

Left Electoral Dreaming
Let's imagine that we were still somehow able to get a domestically progressive and egalitarian, social-democratic Democratimagine a younger, more telegenic and gutsier Bernie Sandersinto the White House. How much difference would it make? Besides the obstructionist hell he or she would catch from the corporate media and the blockage he or she would face from the currently right-wing Supreme Court, he or she would likely face steady, additional, potent "check and balance" impediments from corporate-captive Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
Along with corporate media ownership and big-money campaign-finance power (both among the outcomes of the capitalism brought to us by the propertied elite the founders/framers were so careful to safeguard from the populace), the over-representation of right-wing rural states in the U.S. Senate militates against a progressive takeover of Congress. So does the widespread systematic gerrymandering of districts in the House of Representatives.
Want to form a politically relevant and more genuinely progressive and egalitarian third party beyond the radically regressive and reactionary Republicans and the dismal, dollar-drenched Democrats? The founders' holy charter is not on your side. It encourages winner-take-all, first-past-the-post elections tied to specific geographical district lines. There's no provision for proportional representation to accommodate and make legislative room for third or fourth parties that are not ready to compete and win pluralities in their relevant electoral jurisdictions.
For Redesigning the State'
U.S. progressives have long advocated constitutional amendments meant to more properly align U.S. politics and policy with public opinion and basic democratic values. But Article V is too steep a barrier, on purpose. Today, 13 of the nation's 50 states can disallow constitutional changes while containing just more than 4 percent of the nation's population.
Around the planet, constitutions do not last very long. As Zachary Elkins, Thomas Ginsburg and James Melton noted in their book, "The Endurance of National Constitutions" (2009), "The mean lifespan [of national constitutions] across the world since 1789 is 17 years. … [Since] World War I, the average lifespan of a constitution … [is] 12 years."
The U.S. is different. Its absurdly venerated Constitution has remained in place with occasional substantive amendments for nearly 230 years.
It's long past time to stop standing in awe of the founders' practically deified charter. We need to devise a new governmental structure appropriate to the advance and protection of the common good in the 21st century. Serious advocates of popular sovereignty should call forimaginea constituent assembly dedicated to making a new governing charter that would build and empower popular democracy, not checkmate it. Lazare reasonably advocates "an extraordinary national gathering called for the purpose not of passing ordinary legislations but of redesigning the state. … Significantly, voting on the Constitution is something Americans have never been allowed to do."
We're free to choose what seat we want to take in the constitutional bus but not what kind of bus we ride in or where it's going.
Other countries hold such constituent assemblies. Why shouldn't we? "Our" Constitution is an archaic and authoritarian straitjacket. It's patently absurd to think that a document crafted by wealthy slave-owners, merchants and other vast property holders with the explicit purpose of keeping the "wicked" popular majority at bay near the end of the 18th century can function in meaningful service to popular self-rule in the 21st (or any other) century.
We must not, however, think of a new constitution as a magic democratic bullet. As the Wales-based left-feminist commentator and critic Élise Hendrick recently wrote me:
Working on a new constitution can be a useful exercise because it helps people deliberate on what kind of society they want to have. … And given the constitutional fetishism that exists in the U.S., and has led to this anomaly where people assume that anything they regard as right and proper must be in the constitution, attacking the constitution directly and pointing out the illegitimacy at its origin and the limits it imposes on meaningful democracy probably is a necessary step. … But the actual work of dismantling the existing society and building the desired one still has to happen. And there's a fundamental mistake in thinking that creating a new constitution would in itself solve any problems. You can have an absolutely lovely constitution, and it's still words on paper as long as the underlying power relations remain the same.
Eighty-six years ago, the great American philosopher John Dewey observed that "politics is the shadow cast on society by big business. ..." Dewey rightly prophesized that U.S. politics would stay that way for as long as power resided in "business for private profit through private control of banking, land, industry, reinforced by command of the press, press agents, and other means of publicity and propaganda."
Ten years later, the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis made the very basic and elementary observation that Americans "must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
Class struggle will be no less relevant with or without a decent constitution.

Trump has followed a pattern of behavior that is bringing him to the edge of obstruction of justice in several different cases with several different people. Bharara, who's territory covered NYC, is believed to have been mid-investigation into Trump business activities in the New York Area when fired.

Quote:Fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says Trump tried to 'cultivate' relationship

Bharara says he ignored Trump's call, got fired the next day
Former United States Attorney General for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara arrives before former FBI director James Comey testifies at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington.

by Rob Tornoe [URL=""]
@robtornoe[/URL] | [EMAIL=""]

[FONT=&amp]Fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said on Sunday that before being fired by Donald Trump, the president attempted to "cultivate" a relationship with him.
Bharara told ABC's This Week host George Stephanopoulos that after the election, Trump invited him to Trump Tower and asked him to remain U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. But after that meeting, Trump called Bharara several times in a manner that seemed similar to interactions fired FBI director James Comey testified about on Thursday.
"They were very unusual phone calls," Bharara said. "I've been reading the stories of how the president has been contacting Jim Comey over time, and it felt a little bit like déjà vu."

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bharara, who was nominated to become U.S. Attorney by President Barack Obama in 2009 and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, said Trump called him three times in as many months, twice following the election while Trump was president-elect and once while he was president.
"The number of times President Obama called me in seven and a half years is zero," Bharara said. "The number of times I would have expected to be called by the president of the United States would be zero because there has to be some kind-of arms length relationship there given the jurisdiction that some people have."
Bharara said during the first two calls, while he was only president-elect, Trump appeared to just want to "shoot the breeze," asking him how he was doing and wondering if he was OK. Bharara said he didn't say much back to Trump.
"It was similar to what James Comey testified to in respect to a call he got when he was getting on a helicopter," Bharara noted. "It was a little uncomfortable."
Bharara says he received a third call from Trump, then president, shortly after the inauguration. He told Stephanopoulos he deliberated with his staff and made the decision not to call him back, deeming any interaction with Trump "inappropriate." 22 hours later, Bharara was asked to resign, and was ultimately fired, along with 45 other U.S. attorneys across the country.
"It's a very weird and peculiar thing for a one-on-one conversation without the attorney general, without warning, between the president and me or any U.S. attorney who has been asked to investigate various things and who is in a position hypothetically to investigate business interested and associates of the president," Bharara said.
"To this day I have no idea why I was fired," Bharara added.

[Image: DCCxV9_V0AEe3a4.jpg][/URL]

The Justice Department said in a statement back in March that all remaining U.S. attorneys nominated by the previous administration, including Bharara, were asked to resign "in order to ensure a uniform transition." President Obama also replaced holdover U.S. attorneys when he was elected, but the changes happened over a series of months, and were followed by nominees. So far, President Trump has announced just one nominee.
Bharara also told Stephanopoulos he thinks "there's absolutely evidence to begin a case" against President Trump for obstruction of justice.
"I think it's very important for all sorts of armchair speculators in the law to be clear that no one knows right now whether there's a provable case of obstruction," Bharara said, adding, "It's also true, I think, from based on what I see as a third party and out of government, that there's no basis to say there's no obstruction."


As His Defenses to Obstruction Charges Fail, Donald Trump May Fall Back on Pleading the Fifth

Posted on Jun 12, 2017
By Bill Blum [who is a lawyer and was a judge]
[Image: Donald_Trump_Fifth_Amendment_590.jpg]
Donald Trump speaking to supporters in Arizona in 2016. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Did the 45th president of the United States obstruct justice in his firing of former FBI director James Comey? In the aftermath of Comey's appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, the issue has been fully joined, and in all likelihood is being considered by the Justice Department's special counsel, Robert Mueller. Indeed, it's probably the most crucial question among the multitude Mueller is examining.
In two and a half hours of riveting sworn testimony, given a day after he had released a written "statement for the record" to the committee, Comey laid out a strong case for obstruction.
In sum, Comey said that Trump pressured him not only to drop the FBI's criminal investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and but also to publicly exonerate Trump as a target of the bureau's wider counterintelligence probe of Russian interference with the 2016 elections. After he declined to do either, and after he earlier refused to pledge personal loyalty to Trump, he was sacked on May 9. His testimony was watched by a combined TV audience of more than 19 million viewers.
As I recounted in my last column on the subject, on the day of Comey's dismissal, the president claimed that he had acted pursuant to a Justice Department recommendation that Comey be released because of his inept handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. But two days later, in a televised interview with NBC news anchor Lester Holt, Trump abandoned the pretense that Clinton's emails had anything to do with canning Comey, acknowledging that he had terminated the director because of the "Russia thing," which he insisted was a "made-up story."In the language of criminal law and procedure, Comey's testimony on Thursday establishes a prima facie case of obstructionthat is, a showing of guilt which, standing alone, proves the essential elements of the crime.
Section 1505 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code of Laws makes it a felony to "corruptly" influence, obstruct or impede or attempt to influence, obstruct or impede" a federal proceeding. Other code sections proscribe the intimidation of witnesses in judicial, administrative and congressional proceedings. Violation of federal obstruction laws is punishable, in some instances, by prison sentences of up to 20 years.
Section 1515 of the code defines the intent required for an obstruction conviction as "acting with an improper purpose." The intent element thus focuses on whether Trump dispatched Comey for the improper purpose of obstructing either the Flynn probe or the larger Russia inquiry.
However, like all prima facie cases, Comey's testimony is only, as the literal Latin translation of the term indicates, "at first look." Even if the testimony is technically sufficient to prove a case of obstruction, it would carry the day later in a court of law or an impeachment trial only if it isn't subsequently rebutted by substantial contradictory evidence.
What, then, is Trump's rebuttal, or defense?
Fortunately, we don't have to speculate. Both Trump and his personal lawyer, New York attorney Marc Kasowitz, as well as numerous surrogates, have come forward with defenses. Unfortunately for Trump, however, the defenses proffered thus far range from unconvincing to side-splittingly absurd.
Let's start with the ridiculous notion promoted by Trump surrogates, and in particular by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Ind., that Trump is a political novice and lacks the inside-the-Beltway experience to understand that his overtures to Comey about Flynn and Russia might have crossed important legal lines. "The president is new at this," Ryan told reporters soon after Comey had finished testifying. "He's new to government. And so he probably wasn't steeped into the long-going protocols that established the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White Houses."
As tempting as it may be to accept Ryan's characterization of the leader of the free world as an ignorant boob beyond legal accountability, the effort is devoid of merit. Before imploring Comey to drop the Flynn probe on Feb. 14, Trump ordered both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner to leave the Oval Officea clear sign that the president intended to say something especially sensitive for Comey's ears only.
As political commentator Simon Maloy explained in a recent Rolling Stone post, Trump "forcefully attacked Bill Clinton for meeting briefly [and alone] with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch while Hillary Clinton was under FBI investigation. … At the time, Trump seemed to grasp how ethically fraught it was for Bill Clinton and Lynch to even leave open the possibility that they had discussed an ongoing investigation into Hillary. You see a thing like this and, even in terms of judgment, how bad of judgment is it for him or for her to do this?" Trump asked [at the time.]. It's so out of bounds.' "
Nearly as absurd is the contention of former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz that Trump can't be guilty of obstruction because he had the legal authority to fire Comey. Dershowitz's position has been widely debunked by an array of legal scholars, including Harvard colleague Laurence Tribe, who has pointed out that while the president has the power to fire the director of the FBI, he cannot abuse that power. Clearly, if Trump fired Comey to derail or influence the course of the Russia investigation, he acted for an improper purpose, implicating himself in an obstruction of justice.
Also absurd is the notion that Trump can't be guilty of obstruction because no hard evidence has been produced of collusion between the president and his campaign and Russia. In his online blog, Sidebars, George Washington University Law School professor Randall Eliason wrote last month: "Obstruction is a crime independent of the merits of any underlying case. Even if an investigation doesn't result in criminal charges, you can get in trouble for obstructing that investigationjust ask Scooter Libby or Martha Stewart. As the old saying goes, sometimes the cover-up is worse than the crime."
Nor can Trump and his supporters find comfort in the dubious argument that an FBI investigation isn't technically considered a "proceeding" for purposes of the obstruction statutes, and as a result, obstruction laws don't apply to Comey's firing. Even if a court today were to hold that bureau probes don't formally constitute "proceedings"as a federal district judge so ruled in an obscure and often-criticized 1981 casethe argument that no obstruction occurred would fail because a federal grand jury in northern Virginia was already investigating Flynn at the time of Comey's dismissal. Moreover, the Senate Intelligence Committee held its first hearing on alleged Russian meddling on Jan. 10. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence opened its first probe on Jan. 23 and held its first hearing on the question on March 20. In any event, Trump knew that Flynn was under federal investigation long before Inauguration Day.
Mueller reportedly has taken charge of the Virginia grand jury. There can be no question that both the work of the grand jury and the congressional intelligence hearings are "proceedings" to which the obstruction laws apply. The FBI, as the Justice Department's primary law-enforcement arm, plays a central role in providing evidence and information to both grand juries and congressional committees. It doesn't take a genius to surmise that in firing Comey, Trump thought he could short-circuit the work of both the grand jury and Congress.
Also unavailing are the defenses and counterclaims asserted by Kasowitz. In a brief televised appearance Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Kasowitz read from a prepared statement, declaring that his client felt "completely vindicated" by Comey's testimony. With all due respect, it's difficult to see why.
Although it is true, as Kasowitz noted at the outset of his statement, that Comey confirmed that he had previously told Trump he was not under investigation in the Russia counterintelligence probe, Comey clarified in his Senate testimony that he did not know if the president was currently under investigation.
"Let's turn our attention to the underlying activity at issue here: Russia's hacking of those emails and the allegation of collusion. Do you think Donald Trump colluded with Russia?" Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton asked Comey.
"As I said," Comey answered, "when I left, we did not have an investigation focused on President Trump. But that's a question that will be answered by the [Mueller] investigation. …"
More importantly, absolving Trump in the counterintelligence probe would have no bearing on the obstruction issue. In this respect, Kasowitz elected, in effect, to accuse Comey of perjury, asserting that the president "never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that Mr. Comey let Flynn go.' " Kasowitz similarly denied that Trump ever told Comey, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty."
Kasowitz also branded Comey a "leaker" for giving the contemporaneous and unclassified notes he had prepared of his Feb. 14 White House meeting with Trump (during which the president urged Comey to "let Flynn go") to his friend, Columbia Law School professor Daniel Richman. The professor subsequently shared the content of the notesbut not the actual documentswith The New York Times. Kasowitz claimed the memos pertained to "privileged conversations," and that they were leaked even before Comey was terminated. Late last week, Kasowitz followed up, threatening to file a complaint with the Justice Department regarding the leaked memos and lodging an objection to Comey's testimony with the Senate judiciary and intelligence committees.
Although only Kasowitz and Trump know for certain why they've opted for such an aggressive tack, the president has never been known for gentility in the more than 4,000 lawsuits he's brought and defended over the decades. Still, the positions taken by Trump and his lawyer are head-scratchers.
In fact, the first mention of the Comey memos by The New York Times occurred in a story published on May 16, a full week after Comey's termination. There is no evidence the memos were leaked before Comey left government service.
Moreover, as a private citizen at the time of his most recent Senate testimony, Comey was no longer constrained by claims of executive privilege. He had the right to testify, and there is nothing illegal in a private citizen going public with personal and unclassified notes about conversations with the president. Rather than being decried as a leaker, Comey is more properly thought of as a whistleblower.
Turing to the matter of perjury, setting up a "he said/he said" contest with Comey appears the stuff of desperation. Whatever his faults, Comey has a sterling reputation for honesty. Trump, by contrastwell, let's just say that there is a reason PolitiFact awarded him its grand 2015 award for "Lie of the Year" for the aggregate untruths he told in the early phases of his presidential campaign. Even Donald Trump Jr., in an interview on Saturday with Fox News, seemingly conceded that his father told Comey on Feb, 14 that he "hoped" Comey would back off on Flynn.
Both Donald Jrand more significantly, Idaho Republican Sen. James Rischhave focused on Trump's use of the word "hope" to show that Trump never commanded Comey to derail the Flynn investigation, but merely articulated a wish that cannot be deemed a threat or an act of obstruction. Comey, by contrast, testified that he took Trump's expression of hope as a direction and an order.
On the surface, Donald Jr. and Risch, a former prosecutor, appear quite possibly to have outlined a plausible line of defense. At the Senate hearing, Risch seemed to score points by asking Comey, "You don't know of anyone that has ever been charging for hoping something, is that a fair statement?"
Comey, appearing at a loss, responded only, "I don't as I sit here."
It turns out, however, as reported by veteran New York Times correspondent Charlie Savage in a story on Thursday, at least three recent federal appellate decisions have held to the contrary of Risch's line of cross examination. The cases are U.S. v. Bedoy from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, decided in 2016; U.S. v. Johnson from the 4th Circuit, decided in 1995; and U.S. v. McDonald from the 8th Circuit, decided in 2008.
In the McDonald case, as Savage wrote, the 8th Circuit upheld a trial judge's decision to impose a longer sentence on the defendant, who had committed a bank robbery, because the defendant had obstructed justice when he told his girlfriend, a potential witness, "I hope and pray to God you didn't say anything about a weapon." In the Johnson case, which dealt with a similar utterance of "hope" to a witness by the defendant, the court noted: "A threat to a potential witness is sufficient to warrant an enhancement [for obstruction] as long as the statement was intended to threaten, intimidate or unlawfully influence that person."
We come, then, to the question of the hour: With Trump's defenses failing, where does the obstruction probe go from here? The short answer is that it proceeds, full speed ahead.
The day after Comey's Senate appearance, in a Rose Garden press conference held jointly with the president of Romania, Trump once again went rogue, declaring that he would "one hundred percent" be willing to testify under oath to refute Comey's allegations. In particular, he denied asking for Comey's loyalty or requesting that he drop the Flynn probe.
Here's betting that Special Counsel Mueller takes him up on his offer to take the stand, but not before he subpoenas Donald Jr. and Eric and Ivanka Trump; Jared Kushner; Jeff Sessions; Paul Manafort; Carter Page; Michael Flynn; and many others, to be deposed under penalty of perjury. Mueller will also subpoena, as have the House and Senate already, any tapes Trump may have made of his chin-wags with Comeythe tapes he referred to in his infamous tweet of May 12.
In keeping with standard investigatory practices, Mueller will likely save his deposition of Trump for lastby which time the 45th president of the United States may be so entangled by his own inculpatory and prior inconsistent statements, and the evidence offered by others, that he may finally decide to keep his mouth closed and plead the Fifth. In this connection, it's important to keep in mind that even if, as most scholars believe, a sitting president must be removed from office before he can be criminally prosecuted, the statute of limitations for returning an obstruction indictment is five yearswhich will not expire until after Trump finishes his first term, resigns or is impeached.
Think an indictment and an invocation of the Fifth won't happen? You're seeing the once-improbable scenario unfold piece by piece, day by day, one tweet and intemperate outburst at a time.

I've held one theory among others about the Trump presidency since his election: he was being setup for impeachment as a means to bring in a government that could never be elected. This one seems to be winning out.
Lauren Johnson Wrote:I've held one theory among others about the Trump presidency since his election: he was being setup for impeachment as a means to bring in a government that could never be elected. This one seems to be winning out.

By this, you mean a Pence Admin.? Holy Molly!:Bishop: Surprisingly few even know the views and positions of Pence. While it would be a horror following a horror, I think it would only be for two years. What scares me is I see forces growing to axe Trump and then defeat Pence, but not much brewing to prevent the USA from heading further in this 'direction' in the future, which IMHO would mean a new party, at minimum. It can not continue like this...both major parties are disasters, even if one is somewhat less of a disaster than the other! They are joined at the 'National Security' and 'Corporate/Banking/Big Money/Oligarchy' hip.
Peter Lemkin Wrote:
Lauren Johnson Wrote:I've held one theory among others about the Trump presidency since his election: he was being setup for impeachment as a means to bring in a government that could never be elected. This one seems to be winning out.
By this, you mean a Pence Admin.? Holy Molly!:Bishop: Surprisingly few even know the views and positions of Pence. While it would be a horror following a horror, I think it would only be for two years. What scares me is I see forces growing to axe Trump and then defeat Pence, but not much brewing to prevent the USA from heading further in this 'direction' in the future, which IMHO would mean a new party, at minimum. It can not continue like this...both major parties are disasters, even if one is somewhat less of a disaster than the other! They are joined at the 'National Security' and 'Corporate/Banking/Big Money/Oligarchy' hip.

Not Pence, at least not directly. More like the infamous deep state creating reality. This view of course presupposes Trump being placed in the presidency by means other than democracy. This has been my view from soon after the election.

I have a sister-in-law who lives in Indiana. She considers Pence to be very dangerous after years of watching him operate.

Where things go during and after a Pence admin depends on the script or scripts that are being written and planned in the deep state apparatus. I am not of the view that the empire is about to collapse. But then I am a committed pessimist. :Depressed:
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I'm Juan González. Welcome to all of our listeners and viewers around the country and around the world.
The attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C., have filed an anticorruption lawsuit against President Trump, accusing him of, quote, "unprecedented constitutional violations." The lawsuit alleges Trump has flagrantly violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments since he became president.
AMY GOODMAN: The lawsuit cites reports that the embassies of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and other countries have booked expensive rooms and held events at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., possibly seeking to win favor with the president. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced the lawsuit on Monday.
ATTORNEY GENERAL KARL RACINE: President Trump's businesses and his dealings violate the Constitution's anticorruption provisions, known as the Emoluments Clauses. My office window is just a few floors above where we're sitting today, and I can tell you that as I look out the window and see the tower of the Trump International Hotel, we know exactly what's going on every single day. We know that foreign governments are spending money there in order to curry favor with the president of the United States. Just one example, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose government has important business and policy before the president of the United States, has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at the Trump International Hotel.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Resistance against Trump's profiteering while in the Oval Office has taken other shapes, as well. Last month, artists projected the words "Pay Trump Bribes Here" on the front of Trump International Hotel.
Meanwhile, in another setback to the Trump agenda, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled Monday that President Trump had overstepped his legal authority in signing an executive order seeking to ban all refugees and citizens from six majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, today, we spend the rest of the hour with someone who has been closely following the various forms of resistance against the Trump presidency: the best-selling author, journalist, activist Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine and also This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. She's out today with a new book; it's called No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. In the book, Klein writes, quote, "This is one attempt to uncover how we got to this surreal political moment. It is also an attempt to predict how, under cover of shocks and crises, it could get a lot worse. And it's a plan for how, if we keep our heads, we might just be able to flip the script and arrive at a radically better future."
Naomi Klein, welcome to Democracy Now!
NAOMI KLEIN: Thank you, Amy. I'm very pleased to be with you. And hi, Juan.
AMY GOODMAN: It's great to have you with us. You're beginning your tour across the United States. The book is called No Is Not Enough. What do you mean?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, as you know, Amy, I have been covering crises and major shocks to countries for a long time. And to be honest with you, when I wrote The Shock Doctrine and it came out 10 years ago, I actually kind of thought no was enough, in the sense that I thought that if we understood this particular tacticand what I mean by "the shock doctrine" is the ways in which large-scale shocks to societies, large-scale crises, economic crises, wars, coups, natural disasters, has systematically been used by right-wing governments, using the disorientation and the panic in society, to push through a very radical, pro-corporate agenda. You know, and I have been on the show many times talking about examples of this, like Hurricane Katrina and how that tragedy and the dislocation of the residents of that city was used to privatize the school system, attack public housing, introduce a tax-free free enterprise zone under George Bush's administration. But after that book came outit came out in 2007we had the 2008 financial crisis. And all around the world, people did say no. You know, people knew that they were being forced to pay for the crisis of the bankers. They took to the streets. They occupied plazas. They stayed there for months. They said, "No. No more." But they didn't, in so many cases, have a plan for what to do instead, beyond just, you know, we don't want the austerity, we don't want the attacks. There wasn't a credible plan put forward, in many cases, for how we could have a different and better economy, that responded to the underlying reasons why we are seeing these shocks.
And so, I think in this moment where Trump is this sort of rolling shockyou know, every day there's some shocking news. We just heard a few examples of it in the headlines. Behind the scenes, we're seeing that same agenda advance very quickly. I'm concerned about what's going to happen if they have even larger shocks to exploit, not the shock of just Trump himself and what he's doing and the various investigations, the various gaffes, the various palace dramas, the rest of it, but I think it's really crucial that in preparing for that, we understand that there has to be a yes, what we want instead of the shock doctrine. So that's why I called it No Is Not Enough and put a great big "No" on the cover, because I just want to make sure no one misses that message, because it's a hard-won insight after many years.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, one of the interesting things, to me, in reading your book was thehow you connect, for instance, the work you had done long ago on branding and how the Trump administration has become the branding of the president and how he was able to understand the importance of branding way back during when he was doing the Apprentice program.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In fact, you talk about, you analyze The Apprentice and its impact on American consciousness.
NAOMI KLEIN: Right. So, I think we need to understand that Trump is not playing by the rules of politics. He's playing by the rules of branding. And, you know, there have been presidential conflicts of interest before. There have been presidents with business interests before. But there has never been a fully commercialized global brand as a sitting U.S. president. That is unprecedented.
And the reason that's unprecedented is because this is a relatively new business model. It isthe business model that has been adopted by the Trump Organization is really not one that existed before the 1990s. It is what I called in my first book, No Logo, the hollow brand model, right? And the model comes out of the fact that in theso, the original history of branding is you have a productyou know, maybe it was rice, maybe it was beans, maybe it was shoesyou're a manufacturer first, but you want people to buy your product, so you brand it. You put a logo on it. You identify it with, you know, some sort of iconic image, like Uncle Ben's or whatever it is, right? You give it a kind of personality.
That stopped working in the 1980s. Customers got savvy to it. I hadprobably the most requoted quote of mine in No Logo is from an advertising executive who said, "Consumers are like roaches. You spray them and spray them, and they become immune after a while." It's just lovely insight from a marketer, yeah, about how they see customers. So, marketing started to get more ambitious, and then you started to see these companies that position themselves as lifestyle brands. And they said, "No, we're not product-based companies. We are in the business of selling ideas and identity." Nike was the ultimate example of this. Nike CEO Phil Knight stepped forward and said, "We are not a sneaker company. We are not a shoe company. We are about the idea of transcendence through sports," right? Starbucks wasn't a coffee company; it was about the idea of community and the third place. And, you know, Disney was family. And all this. So, there was theseyou know, the corporations would have their séances and come forward and say, "We have our grand idea." This changed manufacturing dramatically, because once you decide that you're in the business of selling an idea as opposed to aproduct, well, it doesn't really matter who makes your product. What you want to do is you want to own as little sort of hard infrastructure as possible, and your real value is your name and how you build that up.
So, Trump was more of a traditional business in the 1980s. And Trump was just sort of like a guy who built buildings, butbuilt buildings and had a flair for marketing. But the game changer for him was The Apprentice. That's when he got tohe realized he could enter the stratosphere of the superbrands. And his business model changed. It no longer became about building the building or buying the building. That was for other people to do. He was about building up the Trump name and then selling it and leasing it in as many different ways as possible. So you've got the Trump water and Trump Steaks and Trump's very so-called dodgy university. And so many of the towers, the Trump towers around the world, the Trump resorts around the world, those are not owned by the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization is paid millions of dollars by these developers for the privilege of putting the Trump name on those towers.
So, this has huge implications for how we understand the corruption at the heart of Trump's decision to merge his global brand with the U.S. government, which is what is underway on so many different fronts, because, honestly, what it means is, every time we say the word "Trump," even when we're saying it in a negative light, we're doing his marketing for him. So, you know, with this lawsuit that was just announced by the attorneys general of New York and D.C.
AMY GOODMAN: Maryland.
NAOMI KLEIN: Oh, sorry, of Maryland and D.C.yeah, maybe New York will get in on ityou know, it's getting at part of it, in the sense that foreign governments are clearly favoring Trump hotels as a way to ingratiate themselves to the president. But the conflict is more continuous than that, because Trump's big idea, the idea at the center of his brand, is the power that comes with wealth. And so, the more powerful he isand, of course, he happens somehow to have got himself the most powerful job in the worldthat fact alone is massively increasing the value of his brand, which his sons are cashing in on busily on every front by selling that name for inflated prices. And, of course, Trump, by not divesting from the Trump Organization, profits from that as president. So the conflict is baked in, happening every second.
AMY GOODMAN: So you talk about jamming the Trump brand. How?
NAOMI KLEIN: Right. So, this phrase, "culture jamming," was very much in vogue in the 1990s when these superbrands sort of emerged and started kind of projecting their names onto ever more surfaces. You know, maybe you remember some of the campaigns, like "Just don't do it," whichexposing the sweatshops that Nike products were being made under; you know, "Joe Cancer," taking on Joe Camel, this, you know, cartoon character which is basically selling cigarettes to kids.
So, yeah, I've been thinking about: How do we jam the Trump brand? Because I think you have to kind of accept Trump on his own terms to some degree. And this idea that we're going to somehow catch him out, damage him by proving that he is corrupt, you know, that he treats people awfully, that's his brand. His brand is that he's the boss, and he gets to do whatever he wants. That's what he has been selling now for many, many decades.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, along with that
NAOMI KLEIN: So the more he gets away with ityeah.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But to get back to The Apprentice, The Apprentice, as you so aptly describe, was really based on selling a cutthroat brand of capitalism to the American people as the way that people should be. And
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, it's televised class war. I mean, it opens up with an image of a homeless man sleeping rough on the streets of New York, and then cuts to Trump in his limousine. And it's basically like "Who do you want to be? The homeless guy or Trump?" Right? And so, you know, this happens. You know, the show launches at a time when people understand that thisthat neoliberalism is not lifting all boats. It is this cutthroat world of winners and losers. And which one do you want to be?
And that was very sharply played out in The Apprentice, and it got more brutal as the show went on. And, you know, I didn't know this until I started researching this book, I have to admit. I had maybe watched The Apprentice a couple of times. I didn't know that in later seasons they deported half of their contestants into tents in the backyard. They called it Trump's trailer park. And, you know, they would overlay the sound of like howling dogs at night. And it was this idea of creating drama out of the massive inequalities of our economic system. The people who were sleeping in the backyard, who had been deported into Trump's trailer park, would peak over the hedges to look at the people living in the mansion, you know, drinking champagne and floating around in the swimming pool, right? So, I think that this is part of his appeal, like not to challenge this massive inequality, but to promise that if you play by my rules, you end up in the mansion. And it will be even sweeter because people are sleeping outside, right? Because you won.
And, you know, I think that this has been very much the message that he ran on as president, right? The promise of lifting you up, the chosen fewright?the white working class, and at the explicit extentat the explicit expense of brutality against people of color, right? And so, that formula that he honed, that was so profitable, that got such great ratings on The Apprentice, is nowthe world is his reality show. And, you know, I quote Newt Gingrich in the book, where Newt Gingrich was askedand he's been such a booster of Trump'swhat he thought of Trump staying on as executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice, and Newt Gingrich, in a rare criticism of Trump, said that he thought it was a bad idea, because Trump was now the executive producer of a show called The United States. And I thought that was, you know, a rare moment of truth, right? We've all been recruited as extras into this show.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I think the Trumps have declared this week "Apprentice Week," and he and his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump are going to Wisconsin today, where they're going to Waukesha, where a GE plant is closing, and it's heading to Canada, where you're from. And we're going to talk about all this and more with Naomi Klein. Her new book is out; it is called No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. We'll also talk about this weekend in Chicago, where we both were. Bernie Sanders held a major event, the People's Summit. Four thousand people came. You'll hear some of what he has to say. And also, what happened in Britain with Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader? Is he soon to be the British prime minister?
AMY GOODMAN: This weekend, 4,000 people packed the McCormick Place convention center for a People's Summit. Independent senator, former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivered the keynote speech. During his speech, he repeatedly criticized the Democratic Party, calling it an "absolute failure" and blaming it for the election of President Trump.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I'm often asked by the media and others: How did it come about that Donald Trump, the most unpopular presidential candidate in the modern history of our country, won the election? And my answer isand my answer is that Trump didn't win the election; the Democratic Party lost the election. Let uslet us be very, very clear: The current modelthe current model and the current strategy of the Democratic Party is an absolute failure. This is notthis is not my opinion. This is the facts. You know, we focus a lot on the presidential election, but we also have to understand that Democrats have lost the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate. Republicans now control almost two-thirds of the governors' chairs throughout the country. And over the last nine years, Democrats have lost almost 1,000 legislative seats in states all across this country. Todaytoday, in almost half of the states in America, Democratic Party has almost no political presence at all. Now, if that's not a failure, if that's not a failed model, I don't know what a failed model is.
AMY GOODMAN: That's Bernie Sanders speaking on Saturday night at the People's Summit in Chicago at the McCormick Place convention center. It was an event that was organized by many different groups, primarily the Nurses United, nurses around the country. About a thousand nurses were there. Naomi, we were both there. Can you talk about the significance of what Bernie Sanders said? Now, remember, he is in the Democratic leadership
AMY GOODMAN: right now of the Senate. He is supposedly like the outreach person. He was brought into it. But he's got a fierce critique of the Democratic Party.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. And I think he's been biting his tongue a little bit. I might speculate that he was inspired by what just happened in the U.K. with Jeremy Corbynwe know he just came back from a trip to the U.K.because there is an interesting parallel, in the sense that Jeremy Corbyn was elected by a grassroots, insurgent, youth-led movement. He was elected as leader originallya youth-led movement called Momentum in the U.K., many, many young people who joined the Labour Party in order to support Jeremy Corbyn. And there was thisthey were treated as, you know, invadelike, instead of being excited about this wave of interest in the political party, the Labour Party establishment, the so-called New Labour party establishment, because Labour was rebranded by Tony Blair in the late 1990s to be the New Labour party, which is kind of like a labor-scented party as opposed to a party of actually working people, really using the tools of marketing as opposed to having a party that knows what it stands for and who it stands for.
And so, Jeremy Corbyn was elected, and there was just this campaign of sabotage. It was just the end of the world. He's unelectable. He was smeared. Then there was a coup to try to unseat him. He was sabotaged relentlessly by his MPs, while he was leader, who were constantly leaking damning information, trying to make him look bad in the press, sabotaging him at every front, right? But the insurgency was ultimately successful, in that this campaign was a tremendous upset. It was ansorry, this election was a tremendous upset in the U.K. [Theresa] May did not need to call the election. She said she wouldn't call the election. The only reason she called the election, because she was so convinced that she was going to get an overwhelming majority, which was supposed to give her this mandate to get the best deal possible under Brexit as they negotiated with the EU. And there's this huge upset, and, in fact, she loses all these seats, she loses her majority. Jeremy Corbyn wins about 30 seats.
AMY GOODMAN: Let's go to Jeremy Corbyn
AMY GOODMAN: in his own words.
JEREMY CORBYN: What's happened is people have said they've had quite enough of austerity politics, they've had quite enough of cuts in public expenditure, underfunding our health service, underfunding our schools and our education service and not giving our young people the chance they deserve in our society.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Jeremy Corbyn speaking. I wanted to ask youin No Is Not Enough, you also raise some criticisms of why Bernie Sanders was not more successful during the primary campaign. And you raise the issue that some people claim that Hillary Clinton rode identity politics, as well as the machinations of the Democratic Party, to be able to persevere against him, in that was an issue of identity politics versus class politics. But you raise some criticism on that. I'm wondering if you could expand on that.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, I mean, and I endorsed Bernie and support him. I think he's a tremendously important voice, and I'm so grateful to him. But I don't think we, you know, do ourselves a service on the progressive side of the political spectrumyou know, those of us who do believe it is a moment for deep change as opposed to these little sort of tinkering changesto not engage in self-criticism in this moment. I mean, I am sort of disheartened by the extent to which some of this debate is still frozen as if we are still in the primary, and you still have people in their hard, you know, "Bernie would have won" camps, and you still have Hillary supporters refighting and blaming Bernie supporters for Hillary's defeat. And it's just like we have to get out of that debate.
And I think onamong the people who did support Bernie, like the many thousands of people who were at the People's Summit, I think it's very important to understand why Bernie wasn't able to go all the way, right? I mean, he got 13 million votes. He took 22 states. He got closer than any candidate who described himself as a democratic socialist, his campaign as a political revolution. I mean, it was incredible. But I don't think Bernie lost the primary because the Democratic base is too conservative for Bernie. I think he lost the primary because he was not able to connect with, to speak to enough black and Latino voters, who tend to be more progressive than the rest of the Democratic base, and also to older women, who felt that their issues were too much of an add-on or sort of tacked on.
So, you know, I think, frankly, the best quote in my book is from Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow, just a wonderful author and theorist and activist. And, you know, she said to me that if the progressives cannot do a better job of connecting with black voters, of understanding the role of race in American history and telling that story differently, she said, "They better get Elon Musk on speed dial, because they're going to need another planet." And so, I think weand one of the things that I found really inspiring about the People's Summit was I think that critique was really embedded in the way the weekend was organized, I mean, beginning with the voices of organizers of color, the Million Hoodies Movement. We heard from the chairs of the Women's March, including Linda Sarsour, on the opening night, speaking explicitly about the need for a deeply intersectional politic, to use Kimberlé Crenshaw's very important framing, and saying, "No, this is notthis is not a competition between class and economics and so-called identity politics. It is deeply interconnected, and we can't understand the story of the United States and what this economy is without understanding how race has been used systematically as a wedge to divide and enforce this brutal economic system."
So I think that critique is making it in there, you know, and I didn'tdon't make the critique in the book, you know, in the spirit of finger-pointing. But just because what we are seeing with Bernie's candidacy, with Corbyn's candidacy, with Mélenchon's candidacy in France, who came two points shy
AMY GOODMAN: Explain who Mélenchon was.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. Well, Jean-Luc
AMY GOODMAN: Not to be confused with the new prime minister.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, right. So, in the recent French elections recently, there was athere was a surprise, where Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is a very left-wing candidate, significantly to the left of Bernie SandersI think he was calling for a rate of a 100 percent taxation for the rich, right?running on a campaign of really deep redistribution of wealth in order to pay for the social safety netit was a much less xenophobic message. It was much more friendly to refugees than we've been hearing from French politicians, you know, even on the so-called left, an antiwar message, a pro-peace message, making the connections, as Jeremy Corbyn did, between the failed war-on-terror-model foreign interventions and terrorist attacks in Francein Jeremy Corbyn's case, in the U.K.really trying to get at these root causes. Jean-Luc Mélenchon picked up, I think, 10 points. I mean, he surged at the end. And he came, at the end of the campaignand this is on the first ballot, because the way the French elections work is they have multiple candidates on the first ballot, and then they narrow it down to two candidates for the final vote.
AMY GOODMAN: For president.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. And all of a sudden, Mélenchon is getting 70,000 people at rallies, right? I mean, his was the campaign that had the energy. And he came within two points of Marine Le Pen, so he almost made it onto the second ballot, which would have meant that it was a race between a Hillary-like neoliberal figure, which is who Macron isMacron is a former banker; he imposed economic austerity under the government of François Hollande, despite Hollande having won the election originally promising to resist the imposition of austerity in Franceso it would have been him versus Mélenchon, which would have been a very interesting race. As it turned out, it was Marine Le Pen versus Macron. And thankfully, you know, France rejected fascism.
But my concern is that after, you know, four years of the kind of privatizations, deregulation, austerity politics that I think Macron is almost certain to impose on France, I'm worried about that setting the stage for a surge for the Front National, which isyou know, people have made these direct analogies between Trump and Marine Le Pen, and sort of holding up Macron as if, well, this proves that neoliberalism can beat a candidate like Trump. But Marine Le Pen is not Trump. The more accurate equivalent would be David Duke. I mean, this is a party with ties to Nazism historically, you know, that align themselves with the Vichy regime. The fact that they got around 30 percent of the vote in France is absolutely shocking. It's nothing to feel, you know, complacent about.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, earlier this month, President Trump announced he will withdraw from the Unitedthe United States from the landmark Paris climate accord that was signed by nearly 200 nations in 2015.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In his speech, Trump said he wants to negotiate a better climate deal.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So we're getting out, but we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that's fair. And if we can, that's great. And if we can't, that's fine. ... I'm willing to immediately work with Democratic leaders to either negotiate our way back into Paris, under the terms that are fair to the United States and its workers, or to negotiate a new deal that protects our country and its taxpayers.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Naomi Klein, a better deal?
NAOMI KLEIN: I just can't wait, Juan. I mean, it's beentook 25 years to get this deal, but I'm just looking for to another 25 yearsright?to get an even better deal, because when it comes to climate change, we've got nothing but time, you know? Sorry. That was unfair sarcasm for Democracy Now!
But no, II mean, everything about what he said is just so extraordinary, and in particular this idea that the deal is unfair to the United States, that it's this draconian, top-down. I mean, the deal is so weak, right? And the reason it is weak is because it doesn't impose anything on anyone. And the people who made sure of that were the U.S. negotiators, who fought tooth and nailand this is not under Trump, this is under Obamabut, you know, in large part because they had to bring the deal back to the U.S., and if it was a binding treaty, they would have had to get it ratified by a Republican-controlled House, and they knew that they couldn't, right? So the U.S. fought the world, which wanted a legally binding treaty, and said, "Well, then you won't have us involved."
So, what the deal actually is is really just a kind of patchwork of the best that every country could bring to the table. The U.S. brought Obama's Clean Power Plan, a plan to accelerate the decommissioning of coal-fired power plants, new restrictions on new coal-fired power plants that would require that they sequester more carbon. It was a fraction of what the U.S. needed to do to do its share of the goal of the Paris accord, which is to keep warming below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. You know, then that deal was announced, I joked that the governments of the world came together and said, "We know it what we need to do, and we're willing to do roughly half that." Right? Because if you add it up, what all the governments brought to the table, it didn't lead to a trajectory that would keep warming below what they said they wanted to do, but it would lead to warming of double that.
But under Trump, they had already announced that weren't even going to do that. So this whole debate about Paris was whether or not the U.S. was going to stay in the accord but treat it as if it wasn't worth the paper it was printed on, which would have had, you know, a very insidious moral hazard for other governments, because then if you have a volunteer, kind of good-faith agreement and the largest economy in the world is treating it like a joke, which is what would have happened if Trump had stayedthey made that clear as soon as they said that they were rolling back the Clean Power Planthen that would have encouraged other governments that were already starting to slip, like the government of Canada, under Trudeauyou know, went to Paris, made all kinds of wonderful speeches and then went home and approved two new tar sands pipelines and cheered when President Trump approved the Keystone XL pipeline. So that's three new tar sands pipelines. You know
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, that'sI wanted to ask you about that, just the impact on the climate change movement within the last three months, all of these reversals of Trump
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Keystone, Dakota Access.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What's your sense now of how the movement will be able to function?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And also, the importance of the local resistance, of cities and states, to the federal government?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, to be honest, I mean, I think that thisjust the shock of just seeing Trump in the Rose Garden just lifting that middle finger to the world, I think that is proving to be more of a catalyst for other countries and for states here in the U.S. and cities here in the U.S. to understand that this is the moment to step up, to increase ambitions, whereas I think if it had been more ambiguous and they had stayed in and sort of pretended like there was something happeningand, well, is Ivanka having a good influence on him? Are things about to get better?I mean, I don't think we would have seen this kind of very bold response of having hundreds of mayors step forward and say, "No, we're committed to Paris," the mayor of Pittsburgh coming forward and sayingyou know, after Trump said, "I was elected by the people of Pittsburgh, not the people of Paris," the mayor of Pittsburgh stepping up and going, "Actually, you were not elected in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh voted for Hillary. And I'm going to get the city of Pittsburgh to 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2035," which is exactly the level of ambition we need across the board if we're going to hit that ambitious temperature target in the Paris accord, if we're going to keep temperatures below 1.5. So, you know, thatI think this is
AMY GOODMAN: And then you have the
NAOMI KLEIN: Obviously, we would like this not to be happening. We would like Donald Trump not to be president. We would like not to have such an array of bad options on the table. But given what we have, I would say that people are stepping up. And that is what the climate movement needs to be doing, is sending this very clear message that because of the recklessness, because the U.S. at the federal level has gone rogue, at every level that Trump does not control, whether it is universities and their fossil fuel holdings, you know, whether it is states and their ability to get to 100 percent renewable very, very quicklybecause we don't get our energy at the federal level; we get it at the state level, we get it at the provincial level, we get it at the city levelat all those places where Trump doesn't control things, there has to be an increase of ambition. And thankfully, the climate justice movement is, you know, I think, really focused on that and understands that that's the mission now. And I think we're seeing more ambition, including universities being likelier to divest their holdings, putting financial pressure on the industry.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about healthcare. You come from Canada. This weekend, I mean, it was a major topic of discussion at the People's Summit, because you had National Nurses United, a thousand nurses at this 4,000-person event. And yet, this moment, where you talk about how critical it actually is to seize upon what's happening, thewe just have thison Monday, Senator Sanders tweeted, "BREAKING: Senate Republicans just released a schedule of hearings, committee markups public testimony for their health care bill." His tweet includes the image of a blank white piece of paper. Wouldn't this be the moment where people across the countryin fact, some polls suggest the majority of people in the United States
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: would put forward something different from Obamacare, certainly different from what the Republicans are putting forward?
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, yeah, of course.
AMY GOODMAN: What would that look like?
NAOMI KLEIN: Right. And this is starting to happen, because, you know, I think this is also part of the Sanders effect, of seeing how popular it was to stand before the country and talk about single payer on the Canadian model, right?
AMY GOODMAN: And yet he hasn't introduced a new bill at this point for single payer.
NAOMI KLEIN: But in California, the Senate just got one step closer. The California Senate just got one step closer to single payer at the state level, right? And this isyou know, there is a vacuum that's being created by the Trump administration going rogue on all of these fronts. And it is creating a space for boldness at the subnational, at the municipal level. You know, climate is an example. Healthcare is an example. Imagine if we were to see this proliferate across the country, and people realized and experienced in their lives that it is possible to have a far less bureaucratic system, a much simpler system, with quality healthcare that is cheaper.
You know, this is what we have in Canada. And, you know, unfortunately, it has been under ceaseless attack by various politicians that have underfunded it, but it's stillyou know, it's still a good system, despite what people hear a lot. You know, you hear a lot of attacks on the Canadian system, endless waits. And I don't want to idealize it, but then, you know, look at what just happened with Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K., to bring him back into the conversation. I mean, some of his most powerful messages were about the NHS and what has happened
AMY GOODMAN: The National Health Service.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, the public healthcare system, which has been systematically starved in order to get it ready for privatization. And he just named that. And he made these very powerful campaign ads, including one, a beautiful one directed by Ken Loach, that featured nurses and doctors, including a pediatrician who broke down crying about having to send a child to be hospitalized 500 kilometers away from where his family lived and where they couldn't visit him. And people stepped forward and were galvanized by a desire to reclaim the system, because when you have universal public healthcare, no politician can run against it. That's why they have to chip away at it bit by bit. And always, every politician, no matter what party, will always claim they are defending the public healthcare system, whether in the U.K. or in Canada, because they will not get elected. So what they do is they try to kill it by these littleyou know, a thousand cuts, and then they say, "Well, it's impossible. The waiting lists are too long."
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask youNo Is Not Enough, the title of the bookyou've talked about that the movement needed to have a vision of the world it wants. Talk about the Leap Manifesto and what it represents.
NAOMI KLEIN: Right. So, you know, what I argue in the book is that the greatest victory of the neoliberal project really comes back to what Margaret Thatcher said many decades ago, which is that there is no alternative, that however bad these policies are for your life, the alternative would be even worse. It would be sort of economic apocalypse. And I think that when we cast our minds back to the response to the 2008 crisis and the first wave of resistance, like Occupy Wall Street and the movements of the squares across Europe, that the spell of neoliberalism was breaking, and people had the courage to say, "No, we don't want this model," but somehow lacked the courage to step forward and say, "This is what we want instead. This is the economy that we believe is workable. We have the resources in this time of unprecedented private wealth to provide the basics for everybodyquality healthcare, quality education, housing for all. You know, we canwe understand that war is making us less safe. We want to be a society that welcomes refugees and those in need"I mean, a transformative vision"And we believe we can do this in a way that gets us to 100 percent renewable energy as quickly as technology allows, and, in the process, we can create huge numbers of unionized jobs." Peoplewe weren't there yet. We didn't have the confidence yet. And I think this is just the hangover of neoliberalism. But that is really changing.
The Leap Manifesto is an example of that in Canada, of movements coming together. It was endorsed by 220 organizations, very broad range of organizations, from small grassroots groups to large NGOs to the largest trade union in Canada, labor federations, coming together to try to sketch out that yes, what is a progressive trade policy, and how do we getmake this bold transition off of fossil fuels in a way that begins to heal some of the wounds that date back to the brutal founding of our country, that puts indigenous rights at the center of it, racial justice at the center of it, that connects migration to climate change, to war, to bad trade deals. You know, it is not a perfect document, but I include it as an example of what I describe in the book as a sort of a reawakening of the utopian imagination. In this country, I would point to the Vision for Black Lives, the document that came out during the election campaign out of the Movement for Black Lives, which is, you know, an incredibly bold people's platform.
And we are in this moment in the sort of Trump resistance where there's a lot of uncertainty about what the electoral strategy is. You know, I was at the People's Summit. It was fantastic. But I didn't leave it knowing what the plan was, in the sense of it wasn't clear who the candidates are going to be the next time around. It wasn't clear if it was a strategy wholly inside the Democratic Party or whether there were people there who were talking about wanting to form a party outside. This isyou know, this is a question that I certainly can't settle. I'm not in a position to settle this. But what I do know is that social movement are surging. And I think that we are in a position where we could have really bold people's platforms that emerge from below. And there's lots of examples of this starting to happen as movements come together out of their silos to get clear on what the demands are, what the yes is. And then, whoever the politician is, whoever the party is, they have to follow that people's platform.
AMY GOODMAN: And the media has to be there, too. I mean, you had The Globe and Mail calling the Leap Manifesto
AMY GOODMAN: a national suicide.
NAOMI KLEIN: No, that was"national suicide," that may have been the National Post. But The Globe and Mail just called it "madness." It's called the Leap Manifesto, caring for the planet and each other. And they were like, "That's insane!" You know? "It will kill the country."
AMY GOODMAN: And do you see the media changing, as more and more people join media in different ways, and the independent media?
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, I mean, what I see is it notis it not hurting us. I mean, the moreI mean, one of our national newspapers, the National Post, ran 35 negative articles about the Leap Manifesto and then refused to publish one letter to the editor trying to correct the record, you know? But people kept signing it, you know? And I guess we have the tools toyou know, it's a 1,400-word document.
AMY GOODMAN: Thirty seconds.
NAOMI KLEIN: We canpeople can read it themselves and make up their own mind. And I think there's such a distrust of the traditional punditocracy, that, Amy, you have described the people who know so little about so much. And I think people are finally catching up to you and understanding that.
AMY GOODMAN: So, ultimately, do you hold out hope?
NAOMI KLEIN: You know, I think this is this moment where progressive ideas are more popular than they've been in my lifetime, but on the other hand, so are white supremacist ideas. And that is playing out on real bodies in real time on the streets. It is a race against time.