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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Update: Trump team scrambles, targets special counsel as impeachment looms

This cartoon is from Rick McKee of The Augusta Chronicle in Georgia. Millions of votes for Donald J. Trump -- racist, serial liar and tax dodger -- were motivated by complete hatred for Barack Obama, our first black president.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

Editor's note: This post has been updated with additional material from NewYorker.com, which called Donald J. Trump "a president who considers himself above the law." And son-in-law Jared Kushner faced the media and asserted, "I did not collude with Russia."

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

As he begins his seventh month in the Oval Office, President Trump cannot legitimately claim to have signed a single major piece of legislation.

Instead, the Trump campaign team, his son and son-in-law, and his attorney general have been under scrutiny in the probe of Russian meddling in the Nov. 8 election.

Last week, Congress reached a deal on sweeping sanctions to punish Russia for election interference and aggression toward its neighbors, "creating a stark choice" for Trump, as The New York Times reported: 
"The new legislation sharply limits the president's ability to suspend or terminate the sanctions, which his administration abhors.
"With the investigation deepening into whether associates of Mr. Trump and his campaign conspired with Russia," the president "claimed he has the 'complete power to pardon' relatives, aides and possibly himself.
"But it is not clear whether a U.S. president can pardon himself. None has ever tried."

Trump made those comments in a Times interview, prompting The New Yorker magazine to say "the Times transcript shows a president who considers himself above the law, and who believes himself to be besieged by internal and external enemies."

And on Monday, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner -- whose father, Charles, is a convicted felon -- testified in secret, then faced the media to declare, "I did not collude with Russia" at a June 2016 meeting a Kremlin-connected attorney set up with hopes of getting "dirt" on Democrat Hillary Clinton.

That reminded many observers of Richard Nixon's "I am not a crook" speech.

Middle name is 'Liar'
  
Meanwhile, the resignation of press secretary Sean Spicer led The New Yorker to pen this headline:

"SEAN SPICER WILL BE
 REMEMBERED FOR HIS LIES"


"His tantrums, ill-fitting suits and mispronunciations turned him into a pop-culture sensation," the magazine said about Spicer in an apparent reference to Melissa McCarthy's impersonations on "Saturday Night Live."

"His lies and defense of lies will be his legacy," The New Yorker concluded.

Trump's lies

That would likely be what many reporters will say about Trump, if he carries out a threat to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and faces impeachment proceedings.

Last week, both The Times and Washington Post published articles cataloging all of Trump's lies.

In TRUMP'S LIES, The Times said:
"Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have cataloged nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office. Updated July 21: The president is still lying, so we've added to this list, and provided links to the facts in each case."

Business deals

Mueller, a registered Republican and former FBI director, has defied Trump by starting to investigate business transactions by family and friends -- a new direction for the Russia probe the president considers improper.

Finally, the president also is upset with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation shortly after he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

In tweets this morning, @realDonaldTrump questioned why Sessions hasn't done more to investigate alleged "crimes" committed by Clinton, and those who have leaked information to the media.

Sunday's Record

Shame on The Record's John Cichowski and the paper's Editorial Page editor for resuscitating the old lie about mass transit -- that it's "too expensive" (Sunday's 1A and 2O).

Expanding train service into Manhattan will cut pollution, slow climate change, ease traffic congestion, reduce premature deaths from auto emissions and boost workers' productivity.

When you figure in all the benefits, as well as the money that will be saved, expanding mass transit isn't "too expensive" -- it's essential -- and it's bewildering to read these veteran journalists' excuses for a Page 1 column and an editorial in the Woodland Park daily.

At one point, the demented Cichowski refered to residents of the "New York-New Jersey region" as "Northeasterners" (1A).

Then, the Road Warrior columnist really blew it when he asserted the $235 million Amtrak project to double passenger rail capacity is "the kind of heart-stopping government expense" that prompts people to move out of pricey New York and New Jersey.

But that's nonsense. For ages, higher taxes -- not expensive projects -- have been blamed for the alleged exodus.

Menendez brief

Also on Sunday, Washington Correspondent Herb Jackson had yet another story on Sen. Bob Menendez's defense strategy more than two years after he was indicted on federal corruption charges (1A).

Jackson should ask Menendez how many tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees he's spent so far to delay his trial.

And readers should ask Editor Richard A. Green why he has run so many stories and wasted so much space in the downsized paper, putting the senator in the best light possible.

That's a job for his defense attorneys, not a supposedly objective newspaper.

Major error

The Record also commited a major error on Sunday's Page 4A by running a dated caption under a photo of Dr. Salomen Melgen, the senator's longtime friend, and not reporting the eye doctor was found guilty on April 28 of defrauding Medicare of more than $90 million. 

Melgen is scheduled to be tried a second time with Menendez -- unless he agrees to testify against the senator in a bid for leniency.

The senator is accused of trading political favors for free trips on the doctor's private jet, lavish vacations to his resort in the Dominican Republic and a stay at a 5-star hotel in Paris.

Road kill

On Saturday, The Record finally ran a story identifying the man killed 12 days earlier by a pickup truck in a shopping center on South River Street in Hackensack (Local front).

The awkward headline:


"Killed pedestrian is identified"

Staff Writer Rodrigo Torrejon cited all of the obstacles the paper faced in identifying Percy Rengifo, 63, a native of Peru who was run down on July 10 after purchasing a six-pack of beer.

In the lead paragraph, Torrejon says the victim "was a cook who loved to talk to people about food."

Later in the story, the reporter said that as a cook, Rengifo would wear "Crocs designed for food service," but he never reports where Rengifo worked.