Dems “negative, nasty”

Staff & Wire Reports

President Donald Trump speaks during the 2018 Ohio Republican Party State Dinner, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

President Donald Trump speaks during the 2018 Ohio Republican Party State Dinner, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

President Donald Trump colors during a visit with a group of children at the Nationwide Children's Hospital, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump talk with a group of children during a visit the Nationwide Children's Hospital, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


Trump complains to Ohio GOP that Dems are ‘negative, nasty’


Associated Press

Saturday, August 25

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — President Donald Trump sought to unite Ohio’s fractious state Republican Party on Friday, bitterly complaining about “negative, nasty” Democrats and warning that the Democratic contender for governor would “destroy your state.”

Trump praised the slate of Republican candidates during a fundraising dinner in the nation’s premier battleground state but noticeably avoided mentioning Gov. John Kasich, one of his 2016 primary opponents and sharpest critics, who skipped the event.

A subdued Trump, who has been grappling with the defection of some longtime loyalists amid investigations into his 2016 campaign, skewered Democrat Richard Cordray “as a far-left candidate” who was “groomed by Pocahontas.” That was a reprise of his insult of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a possible 2020 presidential challenger, over her Native American heritage.

“Cordray will destroy your state,” Trump said without going into specifics. Cordray, who led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington during the Obama administration, worked closely with Warren, who helped create the agency before she won a Senate seat.

Ohio is holding a number of high-stakes races for governor, Senate and several U.S. House seats that could factor into GOP control of Congress this fall — and linger into Trump’s next presidential campaign.

The president charged Democrats with being unable to govern, returning to his longstanding critique that the party has failed to help secure the nation’s Southern border and turned its back on American institutions. He cited calls by some Democrats to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which Trump has repeatedly praised.

“You have left-wing haters and radicals trying to tear down our institutions, disrespect our great American flag, demean our law enforcement — think of that, our flag — our law enforcement, ICE,” Trump said. “Denigrate your history and disparage our great country, and they’re (going) so far left and they’re being dragged left.”

He also complained that with Democrats, “It’s always negative, nasty, the way they come after me.” Polls show that majorities of Democrats disapprove of Trump’s job performance, but he said they need to get over it and accept that he’s president.

“Get used to it. We won the election. We’re going to win again in 2020 and hopefully we’re going to keep winning. These are nasty people,” he added.

Trump sought to help Mike DeWine, a former U.S. senator and current state attorney general who is running for governor, and Rep. Jim Renacci, who is attempting to unseat Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

But his help came amid deep GOP internal divisions in the nation’s top swing state, punctuated by Trump’s rift with Kasich.

Kasich said in a recent interview that “people are getting sick and tired” of the partisan warfare coming out of the Trump White House and dismissed the president’s overwhelming popularity within the GOP as a byproduct of a shrinking party.

A Kasich spokesman said the term-limited governor had a personal scheduling conflict and couldn’t attend Friday’s dinner. Kasich has skipped all of Trump’s previous appearances in the state, starting with the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“This November, we’re going to win really big. It’s going to be one big Ohio family,” Trump said Friday.

Trump flew to Ohio with his wife, Melania, and the couple toured the neonatal intensive care unit at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where babies born drug-dependent receive specialized treatment, before he addressed the dinner.

Both the president and first lady say they are focused on the epidemic of opioid addiction that is killing tens of thousands of people a year.

Associated Press writers Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, Steve Peoples in New York and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.


Opinion: Trump’s Anti-Press Rhetoric Is Problematic for a Free Society

By Michael McGrady

Freedom of the press is a tenant of a prosperous society. Even when the media are characterized as “the enemy of the American people,” it is up to the work of journalists and editorial writers to inform the public.

Donald Trump holds the power of the American presidency. By the very nature of his position, he should be working to run a government that respects the freedom of all. However, being the so-called leader of the “Free World” doesn’t fit Trump’s persona. As the country’s leader, he is the government, and Trump does not want that forgotten.

Being that humans are naturally receptive to knowledge acquisition, the form in which freedom of the press falls under is the doctrine of free expression. Regardless of political identity, one shared sentiment, for many, is that an open and rational society will defend all forms of expression.

Journalists also hold a particular place in society. Media sources serve as repositories of information for people from all walks of life. The recent rise of anti-journalist rhetoric damages these institutions and threatens the fabric of civic debate, discourse and engagement.

Trump has restricted reputable media outlets he has deemed “fake news” from press gaggles within the White House. Investigative journalists with confidential sources from within the U.S. intelligence community are threatened with prosecution. Trump singles out entire outlets and their staffs for reporting and analysis critical of his administration. Moreover, Trump has sought to tax whole newspapers out of existence with the levy of high-percentage tariffs on newsprint imports.

Trump’s immigration policy is barring foreign journalists from entering the country. Plus, journalists are regularly receiving threats of violence from people who cite editorial detraction from Trump’s policies as their justification. This list goes on, and on.

The U.S. Constitution dictates: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

John Stuart Mill additionally wrote: “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and one, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

The critical takeaway cites the concept that authority and collectivist support can lead to the ultimate silence of truth. Trump’s anti-press campaign could lead to the silence of this truth.

In 1919, Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. dissented in the 7-2 verdict of the benchmark Supreme Court case Abrams v. United States. Holmes wrote: “When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas.”

Holmes also termed the “marketplace of ideas” during the litigation of Abrams.

Freedom of the press protects the commentary and the so-called “fake news” that journalists and political commentators provide. Additionally, press freedom also protects how the “free trade of these ideas” interact in the marketplace of ideas. Because the society we live in constitutes multiple realities and multiple truths, hindering the market of any views leads our nation closer to the tyranny of Orwellian governance.

There’s no rationality in trusting the government to stand up for First Amendment rights. Whether the goal is to stand up for a free press, free speech or free faith, there will be people, en masse, within the ranks of government who seek to control these valid forms of expression.

A long-held standpoint on freedom of expression can be attributed to Ayn Rand’s 1963 piece, “Man’s Rights.” Rand wrote: “The political function of “the right of free speech” is to protect dissenters and unpopular minorities from forcible suppression.” Individual rights, including press freedom and speech, are required for the creation of a society that respects the natural yearning of humans to have the liberty of cognition and freedom from government censorship.

The logic here reminds all people that the government, thus Trump, isn’t the sole arbiter of what is said in discourse and who can say it. There isn’t an arbiter of sorts, whatsoever. Trump’s anti-journalism posturing, thus, is an overt attack on the press, the free market of economic competition, and the marketplace of ideas.


Michael McGrady, a political consultant, is the executive director of McGrady Policy Research. He wrote this for

The Conversation

Why Trump hasn’t been impeached – and likely won’t be

July 18, 2018

Jacob Neiheisel

Assistant Professor in Political Science, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Disclosure statement

Jacob Neiheisel does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


University at Buffalo, The State University of New York provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

Editor’s note: Removing a president from office is a two-step process. The first step is impeachment. That’s when members of the House indict, or charge, an official with an impeachable offense. Impeachment does not remove the president from office. That only happens if a second step is taken and the president is convicted of the alleged crimes.

Jacob Neiheisel, an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo, SUNY answers five questions about how impeachment works.

1. What sort of crime can lead to impeachment?

The U.S. Constitution states that the president can be removed from office after being both impeached and convicted for “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Treason is notoriously difficult to prove. For example, Aaron Burr – a former vice president – was caught stockpiling supplies and gathering a force to take over some of the lands that would eventually be obtained through the Louisiana Purchase. And yet, he still wasn’t convicted of treason.

To date, no president has been charged with bribery.

What exactly constitutes a “high crime” or “misdemeanor” has always been open to interpretation, but it is clear that partisan politics plays a role.

Scholars argue that Andrew Johnson, the first American president to be impeached, was targeted because of his “soft” approach to states of the former Confederacy during Reconstruction. The official reason was his violation of the Tenure of Office Act, which was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Articles of impeachment were brought against Bill Clinton for perjury, or lying under oath, and obstruction of justice, but there is little doubt that there was also a Republican desire to weaken Clinton’s presidency behind the charges.

Even Alexander Hamilton expected the process of impeachment to be overtly political. President Gerald Ford put the matter bluntly when he described an impeachable offense as “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”

2. How does the process work?

The process usually begins when a member of the House brings forth articles of impeachment. Last year, five Democrats in the House did just that.

Next comes a vote on the articles of impeachment by the House Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee can choose to investigate the matter – or opt out, as they did in the case of the Clinton impeachment. The committee can then recommend for or against impeachment. Either way, their recommendation isn’t binding – meaning the House can impeach over their recommendation. The current chair of the committee, Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte, is a strong supporter of the president, but he is set to retire in 2019.

Next comes a vote in the full House, with only a simple majority required.

If the House votes to impeach, the case is referred to the Senate for trial. The trial runs much like a criminal case, and witnesses can be called on either side. A super-majority, or two-thirds, of the Senate then has to vote to convict and remove the president from office.

Although two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, have been impeached by the House, both avoided a conviction in the Senate and a resulting removal from office.

A common misconception is that the Supreme Court plays a major role in the proceedings. The chief justice does preside over impeachment trials in the Senate, but that is the court’s only role.

3. Republicans have a majority in the House and the Senate. Does that essentially make Trump bulletproof?

More or less.

Although it is possible that Republican members of Congress could join with Democrats in calling for Trump’s removal, as we saw happen in the run-up to Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate scandal, today’s polarized political environment makes such an occurrence unlikely absent clear and convincing evidence of major wrongdoing.

While Nixon’s impeachment was likely inevitable, with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress in 1974, today substantial Republican defections from Trump would be essential to any movement toward impeachment.

Currently, there are 236 Republican House members. That means 22 Republicans would have to join with all of the Democrats in the House to impeach Trump. However, the 2018 midterm election could change this math if the Democrats pick up seats.

The articles of impeachment against Trump might look remarkably similar to those levied against Nixon and Clinton. The articles of impeachment drawn up by Democrats in November 2017 accuse the president of obstruction of justice related to the firing of FBI director James Comey, undermining the independence of the federal judiciary, accepting emoluments from a foreign government and other charges. Any attempt to accuse him of treason is extremely unlikely, in my opinion.

4. If the president is removed, who takes over? What would happen if the vice president was also implicated in the president’s crime?

If President Trump was removed from office, Vice President Mike Pence would be immediately sworn in. In the unlikely event that both the president and the vice president are impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan would become president.

5. Can officers other than the president be impeached?

Absolutely. In fact, 15 federal judges have been impeached, although only eight have been removed from the bench. The most recent example was in 2010 when federal Judge G. Thomas Porteous was found guilty on multiple articles of impeachment by the U.S. Senate. Porteous was found to have accepted bribes from lawyers with dealings before his court.

This story updates a version posted on May 17, 2017.

Qatar’s $15 billion snub of Trump over Turkey puts another key US relationship in Middle East at risk

August 27, 2018

Nader Habibi

Henry J. Leir Professor of Practice in Economics of the Middle East, Brandeis University

Disclosure statement

Nader Habibi does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

The U.S. and Qatar have been key allies for decades, with close military and economic ties. Qatar is home to the United States’ biggest base in the region, and in turn the U.S. has pledged to protect the small, oil rich country that juts out into the Persian Gulf.

But the relationship is being tested like never before by the latest example of Qatar snubbing the interests of Uncle Sam – or, put more generously, its maverick foreign policy.

The U.S. recently placed severe sanctions on Turkey’s economy for refusing to release an American pastor detained for almost two years, sparking a currency crisis. Qatar was the first, and so far only, nation to offer Turkey tangible aid in the form of a US$15 billion investment and other types of financial assistance.

Although the Gulf country has long pursued policies out of step with the U.S., such as maintaining good relations with Iran and aiding various groups that the U.S. considers terrorists, its very visible support for Turkey in the dispute poses a direct challenge to the Americans. And while the U.S. has in the past practiced patience with its sometimes wayward ally, President Donald Trump is often willing to toss out the rulebook and has previously lambasted Qatar on Twitter.

As a longtime observer of the region’s complicated economic and political developments, I believe that Qatar’s interjection in the U.S.-Turkey crisis raises two important questions: Why is Qatar willing to risk its close relationship with the U.S.? And why has the U.S. let it get away with this behavior for so long?

Punching above its weight

A country of just 320,000 citizens – as well as 2.32 million expatriate residents – Qatar has a habit of using its massive oil and natural gas reserves to exert influence in the Middle East and beyond. Such a hyperactive foreign policy is very unusual for a small state like Qatar.

Qatar made its offer to Turkey during a recent visit by Qatari leader Sheikh Tamim Al Thani to Ankara. The announcement helped stem the rout in the lira, which lost a third of its value in a month. It was followed by a so-called currency swap agreement that will allow Turkey to bypass the U.S. dollar in bilateral trade and financial transactions with Qatar.

While Iran and several Arab countries including Kuwait have expressed opposition to the U.S. sanctions, none so far has offered tangible financial support similar to Qatar’s.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is trying to put economic pressure on Turkey in hopes it spurs the release of the American pastor, who has been detained for nearly two years on allegations he supported the failed July 2016 coup. Qatar’s aid clearly counteracts that pressure.

So far, the U.S. hasn’t publicly reacted to Qatar’s actions.

Allies aiding adversaries

This gesture of support for Turkey is not the first time that Qatar has taken a stand that conflicts with U.S. foreign policy objectives.

On several occasions in the past two decades, the U.S. has expressed concern about Qatar’s support for various Islamist and extremist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as its relations with Iran. In May U.S. officials issued a warning after a newspaper reported evidence of clandestine contacts between Qatar and Iran’s revolutionary guards and other groups it supports.

This behavior may seem puzzling because ever since its creation as an independent state in 1971, Qatar has relied on the United States for its external security.

At the same time, Qatar hosts about 10,000 U.S. military personnel at Al Udeid Air Base, home of the U.S. Air Force Central Command, which is used to conduct operations in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.

The United States also maintains strong economic relations with Qatar as its largest foreign investor – particularly in oil and natural gas production.

Qatar’s possible rationale

So why would Qatar risk jeopardizing the relationship by aiding Turkey so publicly?

One possible explanation is that Turkey itself has become an important strategic and economic partner.

The two signed a military cooperation agreement in 2014, which allowed Turkey to maintain a small base in Qatar. When fellow Gulf Cooperation Council states Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates broke diplomatic relations with Qatar in 2017 and imposed a trade embargo, Turkey increased the number of its troops at the base to deter military action.

This was important to Qatar because the U.S. seemed to be showing more support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the standoff, a perception reinforced by highly critical tweets from Trump.

Qatar’s recent expansion of trade with Turkey also helped it survive the embargo as Turkish consumer goods flowed in, leading to a surge in trade between the two countries.

Bilateral investment between Qatar and Turkey has also increased in recent years. Qatar has nearly $20 billion in investments in Turkey, and a large number of Turkish construction firms are active in Qatar.

Another possible explanation is that Qatar’s leaders simply believe that the U.S. needs Qatar more than Qatar needs the Americans. The rationale is that the American military bases there are vital to its ability to project power in the region. Meanwhile, Qatar’s significant reserves of oil and gas make it a valuable economic partner.

As a result, Qatar may believe the U.S. will continue to show a high level of patience, even in the face of support for Turkey.

Things are a bit frostier in the Oval Office with Trump. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

US patience running thin?

It is true that the United States has tended to be patient with Qatar’s maverick foreign policy, including over Iran.

But Qatar’s government would be wise to have a realistic understanding of the erratic and unpredictable nature of American foreign policy under the Trump administration. Just as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was shocked by Trump’s sudden impositions of harsh sanctions this month, Qatar might also face a similar American reaction for going too far in its support for Turkey, or getting too close to Iran.

In addition, Qatar must keep in mind that Turkey could never replace the U.S. as a partner both in terms of military protection or the advanced American oil and gas technology it receives.

In other words, if Trump is willing to risk the United States’ relationship with Turkey so easily, Qatar should not assume that it is immune from his wrath – or could find as useful an ally. Perhaps a better strategy for Qatar is to maintain a balance between its two important allies.

President Donald Trump speaks during the 2018 Ohio Republican Party State Dinner, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) Donald Trump speaks during the 2018 Ohio Republican Party State Dinner, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

President Donald Trump colors during a visit with a group of children at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Donald Trump colors during a visit with a group of children at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump talk with a group of children during a visit the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump talk with a group of children during a visit the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Staff & Wire Reports