Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Comment Of The Day: “Lies, Dunces, Fools, Villains, Hypocrites And Big Liars In The Resistance’s Plan E, “The President Is Disabled!” [Part 3]”

Here’s another one.

Regular readers here know I’m a sucker for Presidential history, even when I’m not the one expounding on it. I’m also a sucker for posts that I would otherwise have to write myself., and I was outlining a very similar post to this when Steve-O-in-NJ kindly produced this Comment of the Day. For of there is one thing my life-time love affair with the Presidency and the men who have had the audacity to try, always with mixed success, to fulfill its crushing challenges, has taught me, it is that these were all weird men, each in their own unique ways. You have to be weird to seek this job, or survive it.  The argument that Donald Trump’s undeniable weirdness is somehow deserving of less tolerance than any of the other Presidents is  bigotry mixed with ignorance. Leadership is itself abnormal, and has infinite guises.

Welcome to Steve-O-in-NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, Lies, Dunces, Fools, Villains, Hypocrites And Big Liars In The Resistance’s Plan E, “The President Is Disabled!” [Part 3]

Washington was an inch away from leading an army personally to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Andrew Jackson had a notorious temper (all his life), fought duels (though not while in office), and said he was going to hang the first South Carolinian who defied Federal law to the first tree he could find if bloodshed resulted from that defiance. LBJ gave interviews while on the toilet, more than once. Jimmy Carter talked about having consulted with his young daughter regarding policy matters and claimed to have seen a UFO. Calvin Coolidge brushed off a reporter who had made a bet that she could get more than two words out o him by saying “you lose.” Grover Cleveland had half his jaw cut out due to cancer and told the press he had two bad teeth extracted. He also married a woman who was young enough to be his daughter. Lincoln of course battled what we’d probably now recognize as clinical depression.

The two biggest offenders for presidential disability were Woodrow Wilson, who was actually completely disabled by a stroke and hid it, in effect making the nation an oligarchy ruled by his wife and closest advisors, and JFK, who hid the fact that he had Addison’s disease (why that didn’t keep him out of the Navy I don’t know), probably PTSD, and crippling back pain that sometimes left him unable to stand without drugs. I also wonder if it would be out of line to diagnose Clinton with satyriasis, given his behavior.

My main point is that some of the arguably best presidents like Washington and Jackson, others who were at least popular like Cleveland and Clinton, and some that official history is reluctant to examine too closely like JFK (although that is starting to change) all had issues of risky or extreme actions, bizarre behavior, or concealing disability from the public, and no one now calls any of them unfit for office, nor was that charge ever leveled to my knowledge at any of them with any level of seriousness. As far as I know no Republican leader has ever leveled the charge of mental or other unfitness at any Democratic president with any seriousness, although Clinton’s sexcapades, Carter’s incompetence and errors, LBJ’s open crudeness and weirdness, and JFK’s litany of problems presented the opportunity several times. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/8/2018: Regrets, “It Rings True,” Bannon The Weasel, And “But It Would Be Wrong…”

Good Morning, everyone!

1 On the other hand, “Bite me!” I find myself feeling bad about a Facebook retort yesterday laying out an old friend, also a former Democratic official’s staff member, for taking a snide shot at my “bias” after my answer to a query about anti-Trump legal ethicist Richard Painter. Painter has been on the “remove Trump by any means possible” bandwagon since the 2016 election, and because he was an ethics advisor to the Bush White House, he has been a favorite go-to source for CNN and MSNBC while authoring bizarre op-eds that distort the Constitution.  My response about Painter was that he has apparently been driven mad by the whole Trump experience, and is now in the process of wrecking a very fine reputation as his colleagues in the field, like me, roll their eyes and weep. (Painter is a Bush family loyalist, and the guessing is that he is following the lead of the two Georges, who hate Trump to pieces.) Yes, Richard was among the first to advocate Plan E, removing Trump because he is “unable” to do the job, so he’s especially hot right now.

I feel bad because I’m a nice guy, but I’ll be damned if I will put up with being called “biased” for correctly pointing out what is dishonest and wrong about the various plots to circumvent the election. It’s not a “bias” to believe that an entire party attempting to undermine an elected President is wrong, and that lawyers and ethicists who pander to that mob have slipped a professional cog. I sent my friend to this website to find any evidence that I am a Trump fan, other than being the apparently rare critic who will give the President credit when he deserves it, and who will defend him against fake news and dishonest accusations. I’m a passionate supporter of U.S. values, the system, our institutions, the Presidency itself and elections. That’s not bias. That’s called being an ethical citizen.

2. Signature significance for a weasel. Five days after his reported quotes in “Fire and Fury” including one accusing Don Jr. of “treason” caused President Trump to slam him on Twitter, former White House aide and Breitbart power Steve Bannon sent an “apology” to Axios, of all places. This is known as ” crawling back.” Bannon, while at the White House, leaked to reporters and played both ends against the middle to further his own agenda, and betrayed the President’s trust and confidence by aiding and abetting sleazy political gossip-monger Michael Wolff.  Now, after Bannon’s split with Trump has obviously cost him support, influence and credibility, the man who chomped on the hand that fed him wants a do-over. Only the worst species of unethical and unprincipled weasel would try something like this. If he genuinely regretted the quotes, he would have  immediately said that they misrepresent him, and repudiated them. Waiting five days makes it clear that Bannon was waiting to see how the episode was playing in the media and public to decide whether to stand by his own words or not. The short version of this is: “Integrity? What’s that?”

Moreover, the text of the “apology” shows that Bannon isn’t very bright. Why bother looking pathetic and weak if you aren’t even going to do it effectively? He doesn’t even apologize:  he says that he regrets his “delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency.”

Ha! I bet he does. But this is a Level 10 apology on the Apology Scale:

An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.

3. Is expressing “regret” the same as an apology? Let’s look closely at which mainstream media outlets call Bannon’s statement an “apology.” Axios does. When President Obama was making his so-called “apology tour,” as it was dubbed by the Right, journalists rushed to his defense, arguing that saying in multiple nations that he “regretted” the policies of his predecessors and the past actions of the United States was not the same as apologizing for them.

4. Somewhere, Dan Rather is smiling...I’m putting this in the Warm-Up because, as you may have noticed, yesterday’s posts were dominated by “the resistance’s” Plan E and the news media’s dutiful assist by hyping “Fire and Fury.” Incredibly—yes, I’m an idiot: the degree to which the news media will abandon core journalism ethics if it means bringing Trump down still surprises me–there was little effort on the news shows yesterday to hide the fact that much of Wolff’s book is unreliable,  and that the author admits it. Nonetheless, they reported on the salacious quotes and accounts, debated in panels whether it “proved” the President is disabled, and generally presented the book to the public as fact, not fiction.

How can journalists possibly justify this? It can’t be justified, but the news media’s anti-Trump bias has made them stupid and incompetent.

For example, CNN MEDIA ETHICIST—I have to place both hands over my head to prevent an explosion when I type that, which means I have to type with my noseBrian Stelter tweeted,

Big picture point: Wolff’s errors are sloppy, but many Trump experts say the book “rings true” overall.

Continue reading

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Lies, Dunces, Fools, Villains, Hypocrites And Big Liars In The Resistance’s Plan E, “The President Is Disabled!” [Part 3]

This topic started out as a morning warm-up and has stretched into three posts. I’m sorry: the more I look at it, the more infuriating Plan E appears.

Let’s briefly recap, shall we?

…The news media, using the dubious claims of Michael Wolff as its catalysts, and following the dictates of the anti-Trump resistance, is trying panic the public into believing that the President is mentally incompetent, and that the provisions of the 25th Amendment might have to be activated, removing him from office.

…That this claim is legitimate, justified, or based on anything but the same view of the President the news media, progressives and Democrats had and loudly publicized through the 2016 campaign is a lie.

…Because it is an audacious, unconscionable lie devoid of evidence or justification being repeated for the purpose of making its targets deny it and discuss it, thus giving it more publicity and legitimacy (“Did the Holocaust really happen?” “Did Trump make a deal to have Russia take down Hillary?”), it fits the description of Hitler’s Big Lie propaganda technique.

…The foundation of this disgusting plot is Bandy Lee, Yale professor of psychiatry who has been condemned by her profession, who is hawking a book, who relies on rationalizations, and whose statements betray a political rather than a professional agenda.

Now we continue…

7.  Ethics Dunces: Everyone who accepts, supports or furthers Plan E, the “Trump is disabled” lie. Ethics Dunce is too mild a name here. We have the mainstream news media proclaiming to the world that the President of the United States is mentally deficient based on tweets, gossip, leaks, unethical diagnoses by discredited professionals, an author who has admitted making things up and lying to the White House to get access, and Steve Bannon. Those who enable Plan E are deliberately risking Constitutional disaster and permanent weakening of our institutions. Jonathan Turley properly called this out as the nonsense that  it was in October, only then the supposed crippling malady being claimed was narcissism. That wasn’t flying—Turley: “If we started removing public servants because they were narcissists, the nation’s Capital might become a virtual ghost town. In D.C., the question isn’t who fits that definition? but, who doesn’t?”—so Lee et al. switched to “dementia.”

That’s equally weak and dishonest, and obviously so to anyone who is objective. In the Washington Examiner, Eddy Scarry asks,  “Why hasn’t Michael Wolff’s dementia-Trump ever been seen in public?” We have seen public figures and elected officials show signs of mental problems, like Nancy Pelosi, who has frequently mixed up names, forgotten where she was, sounded disoriented and confused, and talked gibberish in public appearances, or John McCain, who had a disturbing episode in a Senate hearing before his brain tumor was discovered. Trump has had nothing like that occur, either before or after being elected. Scarry: Continue reading

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Lies, Dunces, Fools, Villains, Hypocrites And Big Liars In The Resistance’s Plan E, “The President Is Disabled!” [Part 2]

As their purely, non-partisan, unbiased,professional opinion. of course–just like Prof. Lee today.

[Part I was the Morning Warm-up for 1/7/18, which can be found here.]

4. The Big Lie’s smoking gun. CNN, Politico, MSNBC, Newsweek, The Hill, and many other news sources had headlines this week that were some variation of this one, from CNN:

“Lawmakers consulted psychiatrist about Trump”

The obvious message being conveyed: lawmakers—not just Democrats, but Republicans too!—are worried enough about the President’s mental health that they called in an expert to “brief” them. (“Lawmakers briefed by Yale psychiatrist on Trump’s mental health: report”—The Hill.) This is misleading, dishonest, and factually false—truly fake news. The Weekly Standard, hardly a reflex pro-Trump publication, revealed how false it all was. The story began…

On Wednesday night, before Washington was completely consumed by Michael Wolff’s West Wing tell-all, Politico published a piece feeding into a different frenzy: the notion that Congress was concerned President Trump might be mentally unfit for office. The article, titled “Washington’s growing obsession: The 25th amendment,” claims that more than a dozen lawmakers—all Democrats, with the exception of one nameless Republican senator—attended private briefings in early December with a Yale psychiatry professor to discuss Trump’s mental health. The most interesting detail of the story, of course, was that one rebellious Republican senator had met with Dr. Bandy Lee to discuss her belief that Trump is unfit to serve as commander-in-chief. Politico reported that Lee refused to name the GOP lawmaker she claimed to have had a meeting with.

The reporter, Haley Bird, investigated and…

  • …”was unable to confirm that any Republican Senator actually met with the Yale professor.”
  •  “In an on-the-record phone call with TWS Saturday afternoon, Lee admitted her “meeting” with a Republican senator was not actually scheduled and that it was, in her own words, “accidental.” “The meeting happened—it wasn’t arranged in advance,” she said. “It was accidental. It was incidental, I will say. It was incidental.”

That means that she was not summoned  to “brief” worried Republican lawmakers. It was not a “meeting” is the way the word is routinely used by the news media in political matters. The word is not generally construed to mean “the bumped into each other and had a chat.” Nor is “consulted”  used to describe spontaneous questions in a chance encounter.

The media reporting here was pure hype, blowing an informal. chance meeting—in the hall?–with the unethical psychiatrist who has been unethically diagnosing Trump from afar all year long–into news. That’s propaganda in service of the Big Lie. This was not a bipartisan inquiry into a matter of state. Lee was invited to a partisan meeting of Democrats to determine if she could assist with Plan E, removing the President because of an inability to perform his duties.

5. Let’s meet the primary Ethics Dunce in the Big Lie plot,Yale psychiatry professor Bandy Lee.  She has been claiming for over a year  that Trump is mentally impaired and unfit to serve. Her primary evidence are his tweets. This is because she has never examined him, met him, or had first hand knowledge about any aspect of his conduct or behavior. Because so many Democratic and progressive professionals were moved to violate their ethics codes out of animus to Trump and fealty to the Democratic Party, the head of the American Psychiatric Association handed down this edict in August of 2016:

“Since 1973, the American Psychiatric Association and its members have abided by a principle commonly known as “the Goldwater Rule,” which prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on someone they have not personally evaluated. The rule is so named because of its association with an incident that took place during the 1964 presidential election. During that election, Fact magazine published a survey in which they queried some 12,356 psychiatrists on whether candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater, the GOP nominee, was psychologically fit to be president. A total of 2,417 of those queried responded, with 1,189 saying that Goldwater was unfit to assume the presidency.

While there was no formal policy in place at the time that survey was published, the ethical implications of the Goldwater survey, in which some responding doctors even issued specific diagnoses without ever having examined him personally, became immediately clear. This large, very public ethical misstep by a significant number of psychiatrists violated the spirit of the ethical code that we live by as physicians, and could very well have eroded public confidence in psychiatry… I can understand the desire to get inside the mind of a Presidential candidate. I can also understand how a patient might feel if they saw their doctor offering an uninformed medical opinion on someone they have never examined. A patient who sees that might lose confidence in their doctor, and would likely feel stigmatized by language painting a candidate with a mental disorder (real or perceived) as “unfit” or “unworthy” to assume the Presidency.

Simply put, breaking the Goldwater Rule is irresponsible, potentially stigmatizing, and definitely unethical.”

Got that? Lee just defied her profession’s standards. During the campaign, she continued to diagnose Trump without his consent or an in-person examination. She justified doing so on the grounds that she is “obligated to break them in times of emergency.” Do I really have to recite all of the rationalizations this transparently disingenuous  excuse employs? Oh, all right…

8A. The Dead Horse-Beater’s Dodge, or “This can’t make things any worse”
13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”
24. Juror 3’s Stand (“It’s My Right!”)
25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!”
28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”
30. The Prospective Repeal: “It’s a bad law/stupid rule”
31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now”
40. The Desperation Dodge or “I’ll do anything!”
45. The Abuser’s License: “It’s Complicated”
58. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!”
59. The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do”

She continued to breach professional ethics standards after the election,  earning a book deal that spawned  “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” So much for objective, unconflicted, professional analysis. She saw a niche and an audience, and grabbed it.

Lee herself said in an interview that she was a “pariah” at her department  Lee’s book, which came out October 3, expanded on her rationalizations by arguing that psychiatrists have a “duty to warn” the country about President Trump. In response to the book, the APA issued another statement reaffirming the importance of the Goldwater Rule standard “not to provide professional opinions in the media about the mental health of someone they have not personally examined and without patient consent or other legal authority.” It also debunked Lee’s “duty to warn” argument, saying,

 “The APA would also like to dispel a common misconception about the so-called ‘Duty to Warn.’ The duty to warn is a legal concept which varies from state to state, but which generally requires psychiatrists to breach the confidentiality of the therapeutic session when a risk of danger to others becomes known during treatment of the patient. It does not apply if there is no physician-patient relationship.”

She is an unethical professional by her own profession’s standards.

6. The Ethics Dunce’s Unethical Quotes Of The Month. In a jaw-dropping interview with Vox that is  signature significance for Anti-Trump Derangement, Lee says, among other things:

“It would be hard to find a single psychiatrist, no matter of what political affiliation, who could confidently say Trump is not dangerous.”

Yes, and that would be because they couldn’t confidently or ethically make any assertions without actually examining him. Moreover, “dangerous” is not a term of art, and in a political context, which is how Lee is speaking, it is subjective and ambiguous. The Left thinks Trump is dangerous because he chooses to be tough with North Korea.

“On the other hand, in the book we have as authors Phil Zimbardo, Judith Herman, and Robert Jay Lifton, who are notable not only for their contributions to mental health but for their amazing ethical record. These are living legends who have also stood on the right side of history, even when it was difficult, and they stand as beacons for me. No one matches their moral and professional authority, in my mind.”

She defends her unethical conduct because others have breached the same standards. (#1 Everybody Does it, #32. The Unethical Role Model)!

I’m a fan of Philip Zimbardo’s writings, but to say that the man who engineered the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment has an “amazing ethical record” shows selective attention. Zimbardo himself declared that his experiment was unethical! Then, as a blatant tell,  Lee uses “the right side of history,”  Rationalization 1B:

1B. The Psychic Historian, or “I’m On The Right Side Of History”

This especially arrogant and annoying rationalization is essentially “Everybody’s going to do it.”  It is an intellectually dishonest argument, indeed no argument at all. Every movement, every dictator, Nazis, Communists, ISIS, the Klan, activists for every conceivable policy across the ideological spectrum, think their position will be vindicated eventually. In truth, they have no idea whether it will or not, or if it is, for how long. If history teaches anything, it is that we have no idea what will happen and what ideas and movements will prevail. “I’m on the right side of history is nothing but the secular version of “God is on our side,” and exactly as unprovable.

We have heard this rationalization a lot during the escalating culture wars. It is a device to sanctify one’s own beliefs while mocking opposing views, evoking an imaginary future that can neither be proven or relied upon. Nor is there any support for the assertion that where history goes is intrinsically and unequivocally good or desirable. Are millions of aborted babies a year “right”? Is the constantly increasing percentage of children born to unmarried couples “right”?

Those who resort to “I’m on the right side of history” (or “You’re on the wrong side”) are telling us that they have run out of honest arguments.

With this she he also proves that hers is a political position, not an honest, objective professional one.

Those who most require an evaluation are the least likely to submit to one. That is the reason why in all 50 states we have not only the legal authority, but often the legal obligation, to contain someone even against their will when it’s an emergency. So in an emergency, neither consent nor confidentiality requirements hold. Safety comes first. What we do in the case of danger is we contain the person, we remove them from access to weapons, and we do an urgent evaluation. This is what we have been calling for with the president based on basic medical standards of care.

Surprisingly, many lawyer groups have actually volunteered, on their own, to file for a court paper to ensure that the security staff will cooperate with us. But we have declined, since this will really look like a coup, and while we are trying to prevent violence, we don’t wish to incite it through, say, an insurrection.

Gee, you certainly wouldn’t want it to LOOK like a coup….

KABOOM!

That this astoundingly unethical and unprofessional, hyper-partisan academic radical can be the cornerstone of an effort by Democrats and the news media to overthrow a President just exploded my head, and my office looks like an abattoir. I have to take a break. Look for Part 3.

__________________________

Sources: Daily Caller, Vox

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The NPR Panel On Sexual Harassment And What Didn’t Get Said

My segment on an NPR panel yesterday regarding the sexual harassment issue was cut short because “All Things Considered” had to wedge in a report on the terror attack in Egypt. I get it: it’s live radio, and its a news show. Still, one can question whether dealing with such a difficult and complex issue in so little time—three of us plus ace moderator Michel Martin ended up splitting less than 10 minutes among us–does more harm than good. Farajii Muhammad, who was in the studio with me and whom I had a chance to chat with at length, said that he was interested in having me on his own show to discuss the issue. We shall see.

Here’s the transcript: Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/25/17: The Clinton Campaign’s Russian Dossier Connection, Her Lying Lawyer, And Jeff Flake

GOOD MORNING!

1 I have long been an admirer of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who is one of the few members of Congress, more’s the pity, who will stick to his principles even when they pit him against his own party. However, his freak-out and verbal attack on President Trump accomplish nothing positive (unless you consider making Democrats happy positive) and  at this point constitute pure self-indulgence and, yes, these words are coming up a lot lately, virtue-signalling and grandstanding. I have no sympathy for Flake, Senator Corker, or any other Republican leaders who stood by and allowed Donald Trump to hijack their party. The time for Flake to take a stand was last March, or even earlier. Ethics Alarms stated that the GOP shouldn’t have let Trump into the debates or on its ballot. I said that he should have been kicked out of the debates when he began trashing the party, and when he  became disgustingly boorish and uncivil. I explained that it could have and should have refused to nominate him by changing the rules. The party had a duty to the country to present a competent, trustworthy alternative to the corrupt, venal, dishonest candidate the Democrats were going to nominate: everyone knew who that would be. Instead, the GOP sold its soul. Jeff Flake now says that Trump is reckless, outrageous and undignified? Who didn’t know that? I assume the President’s  voters knew that. On Ethics Alarms, I wrote about those Trump character traits in 2011.

It is particularly galling for me to read Flake’s attack on Trump in the Washington Post today, which begins, “As I contemplate the Trump presidency, I cannot help but think of Joseph Welch.” In fact, it makes me want to scream helplessly at the sky. In this Ethics Alarms post, I invoked Welch’s famous televised slap-down of Joe McCarthy before the first Republican candidates debate, and concluded “If someone doesn’t at least try it, none of these 15 non-Trumps are smart enough to be President.” I wrote that on September 16, 2015. 

Senator Flake is like a Senator  going to Honolulu in December of 1942 and proclaiming that the Japanese can’t be trusted. He deserves no sympathy or support now.

He should have been reading Ethics Alarms.

UPDATE: My friend and frequent ProEthics collaborator Mike Messer called this “flake news.”

2. I haven’t had time to thoroughly unravel what yesterday’s revelation that Hillary Clinton’s campaign funded what became the infamous “Russian dossier” means. A couple of points, however, Continue reading

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A White House Of Assholes?* This Post Has Everything: An Ethics Dunce, An Unethical Quote Of The Month, An Incompetent Elected Official And, Of Course, KABOOM!

I wouldn’t have thought that a Trump Administration employee’s unethical conduct could make my head explode. I thought I was safe. After all, my hopes may be too high, but my expectations are so low. But there are my brains, dripping off the ceiling.

President Trump has a ludicrous burning crisis of chaotic management, undisciplined leadership, incompetent subordinates and mass competition for the National Foot-Shooting Championship. I suggested that months ago that this could only be addressed by the President appointing an experienced political professional with proven management skills and leadership ability to whip the White House into shape. President Trump had a better solution to the burning crisis: throw the human gasoline named Anthony Scaramucci  on it!

Brilliant!

What an idiot.

Yes, the Incompetent Elected Official of this post is President Donald J. Trump.

But the rest is all Scaramucci, the new White House Communications Director with no experience or acumen in the field of communications and public relations. This was immediately evident from his first substantial communication with the news media,  a vulgar, unprofessioal, undignified, embrrassing and vicious phone interview with the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza unlike any interview by any White House figure ever.

Highlights, or rather points of signature significance, each showing that a) the man is an arrogant asshole and 2) President Trump possesses no judgment in his choices of staff whatsoever. Negative judgment.

1. He said, “I’m not [Trump advisor] Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock … I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.”

2. After Lizza asked Scaramucci about a private dinner that he had with President Trump,  Scaramucci boasted: “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.” Continue reading

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