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Why the Presidency Can’t Just Go Back to “Normal” After Trump

Why the Presidency Can’t Just Go Back to “Normal” After TrumpPresident Donald Trump has spent three years incinerating a group of practices commonly lumped together under the nebulous category of “norms and traditions,” causing the chattering class to worry that he’ll “destroy the presidency”; “undermine American democracy”; “erode” our very institutions with each break with precedent or decorum. There are also those, including presidential candidate Joe Biden, who insist that things can go back to normal when Trump is gone. Either in January 2021 or January 2025, these optimists hope, America will experience a restoration of these timeless customs.Here’s the problem: Many of these “presidential norms and traditions” that Trump has left by the wayside aren’t timeless at all; they’re actually quite new. They grew up alongside and in reaction to the expansion of both the federal state and the presidency—a process that began in the early 20th century but…

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The Hidden History of Sanders’s Plot to Primary Obama

The Hidden History of Sanders’s Plot to Primary ObamaBernie Sanders got so close to running a primary challenge to President Barack Obama that Senator Harry Reid had to intervene to stop him.It took Reid two conversations over the summer of 2011 to get Sanders to scrap the idea, according to multiple people who remember the incident, which has not been previously reported.That summer, Sanders privately discussed a potential primary challenge to Obama with several people, including Patrick Leahy, his fellow Vermont senator. Leahy, alarmed, warned Jim Messina, Obama’s presidential reelection-campaign manager. Obama’s campaign team was “absolutely panicked” by Leahy’s report, Messina told me, since “every president who has gotten a real primary has lost a general [election].”David Plouffe, another Obama strategist, confirmed Messina’s account, as did another person familiar with what happened. (A spokesman for Leahy did not comment when asked several times about his role in the incident.)Messina called…

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The Real ‘Miscarriage of Justice’ in the Stone Sentencing

The Real ‘Miscarriage of Justice’ in the Stone SentencingPresident Trump praised his attorney general Wednesday for “taking charge” of the Roger Stone case. But if the events of the last several days tell us anything it’s that the person having the biggest influence on the proposed prison sentence for the convicted Trump ally is the president himself. Despite the president’s insistence that he “didn’t speak to the Justice Department” and that he has “not been involved with that at all,” it’s abundantly clear that a single Trump tweet on Tuesday set in motion an unprecedented collapse of prosecutorial independence. In fact, the real “miscarriage of justice” is that Trump’s meddling, and Barr’s willingness to bend his department’s policies to serve Trump’s personal interests, will have a disastrous long-term effect on the public’s confidence in the essential fairness of federal prosecutors.To understand how a more or less routine sentencing turned into…

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Democrats Have a Credibility Problem on Trump’s Foreign Policy

Democrats Have a Credibility Problem on Trump’s Foreign PolicyIt’s 2020, and America is embroiled in not one but two catastrophic wars: one with Iran that has sucked in the entire Middle East, and another halfway across the world in North Korea sparked by Kim Jong Un test-firing nuclear-capable missiles that could hit the United States. It’s all the worse since the U.S. is waging both wars without allies, all of which have abandoned Donald Trump because of his incessant bullying.Fortunately, this isn’t where we find ourselves today, but it’s what the president’s critics have been warning could occur if he carries on with policies that have shattered decades of conventional U.S. policy making. It’s not as if their concerns have no factual basis. The Trump administration really did come to the brink of war with Iran and North Korea. In neither case are the underlying tensions that got them there…

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America’s Allies Are Unconvinced

America’s Allies Are UnconvincedIn the contest between the United States and China over who gets to shape the world in the coming century, America seems to be playing to win. But it’s running into a big problem. Despite the global network of alliances Washington has built up, it’s been unable to convince those allies to hop aboard the “great-power-competition” express and leave China behind.U.S. officials are learning just how challenging it is to persuade friendly nations that America is a reliable partner capable of providing them with viable alternatives to what China has on offer—that the rewards of drawing closer to Washington outweigh the risks of alienating Beijing. That’s in part because of the mixed messages from the American president himself: He’s notoriously iffy about his commitment to allies, even as he often expresses his adoration of the Chinese president (notwithstanding the ongoing U.S.-China trade war).The consequences of all these…

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The CIA’s Complicity in Recent Global Atrocities Revealed

The CIA’s Complicity in Recent Global Atrocities RevealedIn another astounding revelation about the extent of United States’ global surveillance operations, The Washington Post recently published a piece about a Swiss company, Crypto AG, that was actually owned by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and West Germany’s intelligence agency. Crypto AG provided encryption services to over a hundred governments worldwide for decades. Unbeknownst to those governments, the CIA had access to the encryption tools and could therefore read high-level internal governmental correspondence from countries including France, Egypt, Venezuela and many others. On this week’s edition of “Scheer Intelligence,” Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer speaks with William Binney, a leading intelligence expert who worked at the National Security Agency for 30 years, about this shocking information that is only now being made public, roughly two years after the program ended in 2018. In the exchange, Scheer highlights why the revelation is…

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