The Root’s Jason Johnson, MSNBC’s John Heilemann, MoveOn’s Karine Jean-Pierre, National Action Network’s Reverend Al Sharpton, former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance and former assistant director at the FBI Frank Figliuzzi on Trump lashing out at Nancy Pelosi over her comments that she’d rather see him serve time in prison than be impeached
Frankly, it’s a disgrace that Trump administration officials and American business tycoons enabled and applauded M.B.S. as he
- imprisoned business executives,
- kidnapped Lebanon’s prime minister,
- rashly created a crisis with Qatar, and
- went to war in Yemen to create what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis there.
Some eight million Yemenis on the edge of starvation there don’t share this bizarre view that M.B.S. is a magnificent reformer.
.. Trump has expressed “great confidence” in M.B.S. and said that he and King Salman “know exactly what they are doing.” Jared Kushner wooed M.B.S. and built a close relationship with him — communicating privately without involving State Department experts — in ways that certainly assisted M.B.S. in his bid to consolidate power for himself.
The bipartisan cheers from Washington, Silicon Valley and Wall Street fed his recklessness. If he could be feted after kidnapping a Lebanese prime minister and slaughtering Yemeni children, why expect a fuss for murdering a mere journalist?
.. M.B.S. knows how to push Americans’ buttons, speaking about reform and playing us like a fiddle. His willingness to sound accepting of Israel may also be one reason Trump and so many Americans were willing to embrace M.B.S. even as he was out of control at home.
In the end, M.B.S. played Kushner, Trump and his other American acolytes for suckers. The White House boasted about $110 billion in arms sales, but nothing close to that came through. Saudi Arabia backed away from Trump’s Middle East peace deal. Financiers salivated over an initial public offering for Aramco, the state-owned oil company, but that keeps getting delayed.
.. The crackdown on corruption is an example of M.B.S.’s manipulation and hypocrisy. It sounded great, but M.B.S. himself has purchased a $300 million castle in France, and a $500 million yacht — and he didn’t buy them by scrimping on his government salary.
.. In fairness, he did allow women to drive. But he also imprisoned the women’s rights activists who had been campaigning for the right to drive.
Saudi Arabia even orchestrated the detention abroad of a women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, and her return in handcuffs. She turned 29 in a Saudi jail cell in July, and her marriage has ended. She, and not the prince who imprisons her, is the heroic reformer.
.. The crown prince showed his sensitivity and unpredictability in August when Canada’s foreign ministry tweeted concern about the jailing of Saudi women’s rights activists. Saudi Arabia went nuts, canceling flights, telling 8,300 Saudi students to leave Canada, expelling the Canadian ambassador and withdrawing investments. All for a tweet.
.. Western companies should back out of M.B.S.’s Future Investment Initiative conference later this month. That includes you,
- Credit Suisse,
- Bain and
all listed on the conference website as partners of the event.
.. We need an international investigation, perhaps overseen by the United Nations, of what happened to Jamal. In the United States, we also must investigate whether Saudis bought influence with spending that benefited the Trump family, such as $270,000 spent as of early 2017 by a lobbying firm for Saudi Arabia at the Trump hotel in Washington. The Washington Post reported that Saudi bookings at Trump Chicago increased 169 percent from the first half of 2016 to the first half of this year, and that the general manager of a Trump hotel in New York told investors that revenues rose partly because of “a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”
.. If Saudi Arabia cannot show that Jamal is safe and sound, NATO countries should jointly expel Saudi ambassadors and suspend weapons sales. The United States should start an investigation under the Magnitsky Act and stand ready to impose sanctions on officials up to M.B.S.
America can also make clear to the Saudi royal family that it should find a new crown prince. A mad prince who murders a journalist, kidnaps a prime minister and starves millions of children should never be celebrated at state dinners, but instead belongs in a prison cell.
Perhaps the most inflammatory rhetoric has come from Ms. Pirro, the host of “Justice With Judge Jeanine” and a “presidential favorite,” according to The Times. “There is a cleansing needed in our F.B.I. and Department of Justice,” Ms. Pirro said Saturday, in her most unhinged rant yet. “It needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired but who need to be taken out in handcuffs.”
.. Topping her list of outlaws was, of course, Mr. Mueller, who she said “can’t come up with one piece of evidence!”
.. Ms. Pirro, a former New York prosecutor and judge, didn’t allege any actual crimes, just that Mr. Mueller and his people are guilty of “attempting to destroy Trump.”
.. After Mr. Trump’s victory last year, she interviewed to be his deputy attorney general, a job that would have empowered her to fire Mr. Mueller on her own.
.. they should ask not whether any F.B.I. investigator has ever held an opinion about politics, but rather why Mr. Trump chose as his closest advisers people with a tendency to talk to Russian officials and then fail to tell the truth, again and again, about the nature of those communications. As The Times’s Bret Stephens wrote:“Fire? Maybe not. But we are dying of smoke inhalation.”
.. When the propagandists say, “Get rid of Mueller,” it’s not the truth they’re trying to protect; it’s Mr. Trump himself.
.. roughly three-quarters of Republicans still refuse to accept that Russia interfered in the 2016 election
.. remember that a majority of the same people continue to believe that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
The criminalization of political differences destroys what’s left of civility in our political culture.
.. For a year, Democrats listened to crowds at Trump rallies and even the delegates at the Republican National Convention engage in chants of “lock her up.” Today, the Internet is reverberating with Democrats engaging in some virtual revenge as the latest leaks about the investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians have indicated that Jared Kushner is a “person of interest.”
That means liberals are chortling about the president’s son-in-law having to choose between a jail cell and informing on his wife’s father.
.. Flynn is, of course, in no position to complain about people hoping to see him in jail, since he was the one that led the crowd in “lock her up” chants at the GOP convention in Cleveland.
.. The problem is that both parties seem to have lost the ability to oppose an administration or candidate without seeking to “lock up” the other side.
.. The current process by which foes are delegitimized means that all too many Americans don’t merely disagree with their opponents. The questioning of motives has now escalated to the point where Democrats believe that Republicans are not merely hard-hearted tools of the corporate class but willing to commit treason to gain a political advantage or increase profits to private interests.
.. many on the right not only condoned Trump’s birther smears about Obama but actually thought Hillary Clinton wanted four Americans to be murdered by terrorists in Benghazi and deliberately exposed U.S. secrets to foreign powers.
.. tolerance of opposing views in the public square has been discarded in favor of a Facebook-feed mentality in which all ideas and persons who don’t confirm our pre-existing prejudices and assumptions can be deleted and “defriended.”
The result isn’t just the collapse of civility that is taken for granted on both sides of the aisle but a political cycle in which the impulse to criminalize differences has become the default reaction to losing an election
If that is where we are, America is not merely a bifurcated nation but well on its way to banana-republic status.