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Trump tweetstorm rips his critics over indictments, fails to castigate Russia

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President Trump’s use of Twitter as a sledgehammer delights his base and drives his detractors crazy, especially in the press.

But even by Trumpian standards, his tweetstorm over the weekend was something to behold, coming as it did against the backdrop of Bob Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians for election meddling.

The New York Times said yesterday that Trump initially felt vindicated by Mueller’s lack of any collusion charges against his campaign—though “unwitting” Americans were said to have cooperated with the Russians—but things changed as he watched cable news at Mar-a-Lago:

“The president’s mood began to darken as it became clearer to him that some commentators were portraying the indictment as nothing for him to celebrate, according to three people with knowledge of his reaction. Those commentators called it proof that he had not won the election on his own, a particularly galling, if not completely accurate, charge for a president long concerned about his legitimacy.”

There was a swipe at his national security adviser: “General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians.”

There was the fact that the Russian hacking predated his political career: “Funny how the Fake News Media doesn’t want to say that the Russian group was formed in 2014, long before my run for President. Maybe they knew I was going to run even though I didn’t know!”

There was the dismissal of his own repeated insistence that the Russia probe was a hoax, that he never fully accepted Moscow’s role in election interference and appeared to accept Vladimir Putin’s denial when they met:

“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.’ The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”

And the president somehow suggests that the media, congressional and law enforcement pursuit of the Russian disruption was more important than the election hacking itself:

“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow.”

Look, we know that the president is sensitive about the suggestion that the Russians were partially responsible for his election, and there’s no evidence their shenanigans—including identity theft, impersonating Americans and manipulating Facebook—were able to change the outcome. So he dissects the indictments through that narrow lens.

There are two journalistic narratives right now, and they’re not mutually exclusive. Some in the media did cast the Mueller charges as a victory for Trump, at least for now. Others looked more narrowly at his past criticism of the investigation as a witch hunt and said Mueller had knocked down his “hoax” narrative. A Politico headline, for instance, declared: “Worries About Trump Legitimacy Resurface With Russia Indictment.”

I don’t see how indicting 13 Russians with no conscious help from those in Trump’s orbit casts doubt on the legitimacy of a candidate who fairly won the Electoral College.

The one tweet that really bothered me was this:

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

I just don’t think he should have dragged the Florida tragedy into it. The FBI’s bungling of a warning about the shooter was indeed a terrible and tragic mistake. But the bureau is a large institution, and obviously it didn’t botch that warning because too many agents were investigating the Russia matter.

By Sunday night he was back to his usual form, tweeting against the “insecure” Oprah for what he called her “biased and slanted” questioning of Trump supporters in a “60 Minutes” segment. Trump said he hopes she runs, but unfortunately for him, she’s defied the media drumbeat and said she’s not.

One thing the president hasn’t done is denounced Moscow for its systematic effort to undermine American democracy. To me, this is a missed opportunity. Trump could get bipartisan support for a speech in which he vowed to retaliate, regardless of whether the hacking helped him or not. But because he views almost everything through the prism of his election, Trump has chosen not to address a conspiracy that his own Justice Department says was damaging to America.

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EU snub! Gibraltar brings down EU flag and replaces it with Commonwealth banner

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GIBRALTAR has replaced the EU flag despite ministers agreeing to join the Bloc’s border-free travel area after Brexit, it has emerged.

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Only one New York governor has ever been impeached. Some lawmakers hope Cuomo will be the second.

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Republican lawmakers in New York introduced a resolution Monday to begin impeachment proceedings against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo — which hasn’t been done in New York in over 100 years.

“There’s been one bombshell after another,” Will Barclay, the Republican leader of the state Assembly, told reporters at the state Capitol in Albany, where he announced the impeachment resolution.

Cuomo has been besieged by bipartisan calls to either resign or be impeached over dual scandals that have rocked his administration in recent weeks: allegations that his administration intentionally undercounted Covid-19 nursing home deaths and allegations from five women that he sexually harassed them. Cuomo has denied wrongdoing with the nursing home numbers, and he has denied having harassed women while apologizing for how his behavior might have made some of them feel.

“The real problem now is the governor’s lost so much credibility and trust that we don’t feel like he can go forward and govern,” Barclay said. “So we want to move ahead, do this impeachment in the Assembly.”

The impeachment resolution isn’t likely to proceed at the moment. Democrats control 106 of the Assembly’s 150 seats, and only a handful of members have said they would vote to impeach.

If Cuomo is impeached, however, there’s “very little precedent to rely on,” said Peter Galie, a professor emeritus of political science at Canisius College in Buffalo.

Only one New York governor has ever been impeached — William Sulzer, who was impeached for campaign finance violations and removed from office in October 1913 after a three-week trial. Historians have said he was targeted for having crossed Tammany Hall, the corrupt political organization that had once backed him.

“During his tenure, his efforts to remove Tammany Hall influences in state government resulted in an investigation that discovered fraud in his own campaign contributions,” the National Governors Association website said.

Sulzer said his impeachment was a “political lynching” and “the culmination of a deep-laid political conspiracy to oust me from office.”

As for the impeachment process itself, Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor, said, “it’s a lot like but not the same as in the federal system.”

Impeachment begins in the Assembly and “requires a majority of the members of the Assembly” to vote to charge the governor.

Unlike the federal Constitution, New York’s Constitution makes “no mention of high crimes and misdemeanors,” Galie said. In terms of possible charges, “there’s nothing there at all,” leaving the way forward entirely up to the Assembly, he said.

If the Assembly votes to charge the governor, a trial is held before the state Senate. Unlike in the federal system, the senators aren’t the only judges/jurors. Judges from the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, hear the case, as well. That could be a boon for Cuomo, who appointed all seven of the judges.

Gillers said the judges probably were added to eliminate appeals, because the “state high court judges would already have participated in the impeachment trial.”

A two-thirds vote is required for conviction, and the penalty is removal from office. The Senate and the judges could also vote to ban the governor from holding any other state office — a penalty that wasn’t used against Sulzer. He was elected to the Assembly just weeks after he was impeached.

A spokesman for Cuomo responded to the impeachment threats Monday by saying Cuomo is focused on his work.

“There’s a job to be done, and New Yorkers elected the governor to do it, which is why he has been focused on getting as many shots in arms as possible, making sure New York is getting its fair share in Washington’s Covid relief package and working on a state budget that is due in three weeks,” said the spokesman, Rich Azzopardi.

Twenty Democratic female legislators issued a statement Monday calling for state Attorney General Letitia James to be given time to complete her investigation of the sexual harassment allegations, saying, “Our democracy demands that we be diligent and expeditious in our search for truth and justice.”

James announced later Monday that her office had hired Joon Kim, a former acting U.S attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Anne L. Clark, an employment discrimination lawyer, to lead an independent investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment.

“These are serious allegations that demand a rigorous and impartial investigation. We will act judiciously and follow the facts wherever they lead,” Kim said in a statement.

Tom Winter contributed.

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EU civil war: Von der Leyen left 'surprised' as Belgium defies demands to lift travel ban

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BELGIUM defied Ursula von der Leyen’s call on EU member states to lift travel bans during the pandemic, in the latest blow to the Commission chief.

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