On Veterans Day, Trump Laments Passing Whistleblower Law Meant to Improve VA: ‘To Think I Signed!’

On Veterans Day, President Donald Trump lamented passing a whistleblower law meant to increase protections for employees who uncovered wrongdoing in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“To think I signed the Whistleblower Protection Act!” Trump said Monday, stepping on an announcement from the White House twitter account praising Trump’s accomplishments for veterans.

The actual Whistleblower Protection Act was passed in 1998, but Trump has passed at least two laws related to whistleblower protections, according to a review of the congressional record.

The White House tweet is apparently referring to the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, which was sponsored by GOP Sen. Marco Rubio. The law passed the Senate via voice vote.

The law established a new special office in the VA to protect whistleblowers from retaliation and makes it easier to fire employees accused of misconduct. However, an Inspector General report released late last month found the office had largely failed in its mission to protect whistleblowers and conducted corrupt investigations.

Trump also signed the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 into law, which is named for a VA doctor who was ousted and later killed himself after he blew the whistle on the over-prescription of opiates at his VA facility.

[Mediaite]

Trump Wants Whistleblower’s Lawyer Sued ‘Maybe for Treason,’ Which Definitely Isn’t a Thing

President Donald Trump tried his hand at tort law on Friday by suggesting the intelligence community whistleblower “should be revealed” and that their lawyer should be sued “maybe for treason.”

“So the whistleblower is a disgrace to our country” Trump said. And the whistleblower, because of that, should be revealed. And his lawyer who said the worst things possible two years ago, he should be sued and maybe for treason. Maybe for treason, but he should be sued. His lawyer is a disgrace.”

It appears that Trump was referring to attorney Mark Zaid. The comments were made during a press assemblage on the White House lawn where the president also addressed the closed-door impeachment hearings and the state of the 2020 presidential race.

The suggestion of treason as a civil action, however, quickly sent legal commentators into a tailspin of eyebrow-raising ridicule.

First Amendment attorney and legal commentator Adam Steinbaugh noted: “you… you can’t be sued for treason.”

That’s true. Treason is a criminal charge. Suing someone is an action taken in a civil court. Criminal charges are leveled by the state. Civil actions–which we usually call lawsuits–are usually filed by the state or private individuals in an effort to obtain money or information.

Treason, in other words, is a suggestion that simply makes no sense whatsoever under the present circumstances. This isn’t an issue that’s subject to debate. There’s plainly and clearly no cause of action known as “treason” under any state or federal law in the United States. (And this probably shouldn’t even have to be explained.)

Under the laws of the United States, treason has a very specific and very limited definition. Per the U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 3:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

There’s also a separate codification of treason under at 18 U.S. Code § 2381 which barely tweaks the constitutional definition and also assigns specific penalties for committing the criminal act.

No concept, provision or sleight of legalese that exists in the U.S. legal order would be capable of transmogrifying the above potential crimes into something that anyone could sue anyone else for. The point, now a bit belabored, is basically the end of the story.

Except for maybe the jokes.

“Treasonous infliction of emotional distress, dude,” offered Reason‘s criminal justice reporter C.J. Ciaramella. “Look it up.”

On Thursday, it should be noted, one of the intelligence community whistleblower’s attorneys sent White House Counsel Pat Cipollone a cease-and-desist letter demanding that Trump stop calling for their client’s identity to be exposed and to stop using “rhetoric that may endanger their life.”

“I am writing to respectfully request that you counsel your client on the legal and ethical peril in which he is placing himself should anyone be physically harmed as a result of his, or his surrogates’, behavior,” attorney Andrew P. Bakaj wrote.

The whistleblower’s attorney later laid it on the line:

In the best light, such statements seek to intimidate my client–and they have. As I am sure you are aware, my firm was in the process of coordinating with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to have my client deposed by congressional investigators. However, as a direct consequence of the President’s irresponsible rhetoric and behavior, my client’s physical safety became a significant concern, prompting us to instead state our willingness to only answer written interrogatories [questions].

Trump’s campaign to expose and smear the intelligence community whistleblower has, effectively, given the whistleblower pause about how and whether they should testify. Bakaj says that’s a crime.

“In light of this, it is reasonable to submit that your client’s activity constitutes a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512, Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant,” Bakaj continued. “Furthermore, because my client is a lawful whistleblower and a prospective congressional witness, any threats to influence, obstruct, or impede my client’s cooperation is a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1505, Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees. Finally, reprisal against my client for cooperating with a congressional inquiry would be a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1513, Retaliating against a witness, victim, or an informant.”

Despite this warning, Trump once again called for the whistleblower’s identity to be revealed.

The 45th president is arguably skilled at asymmetric attempts to muddy the waters and that’s as good an explanation as any for what happened on the White House lawn Friday morning. That doesn’t mean necessarily mean any of this is well-advised. 

Those most recent attacks on these attorneys and their clients are exactly the sorts of statements cautioned against in the cease-and-desist missive. They’re also the sort of statements that congressional investigators are likely to add to any eventual articles of impeachment.

[Law and Crime]

Trump hits ‘political hacks in New York’ after settling Trump Foundation lawsuit

President Trump on Thursday lashed out at New York’s Democratic attorney general, accusing Letitia James of “deliberately mischaracterizing” a settlement in a lawsuit involving his charity for “political purposes.”

“I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity ($19M), charge no expense, and be attacked by the political hacks in New York State. No wonder why we are all leaving!” Trump said in a statement issued on Twitter Thursday evening. 

“Every penny of the $19 million raised by the Trump Foundation went to hundreds of great charitable causes with almost no expenses. The New York Attorney General is deliberately mischaracterizing this settlement for political purposes,” the president continued.

A Manhattan judge earlier Thursday ordered Trump to pay $2 million to nonprofit groups as part of a settlement in a civil lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general’s office last year that alleged he used his charity’s funds for personal and political means. The dispute centered on $2.8 million raised by the Trump Foundation at a 2016 fundraiser for military veterans.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla ruled Thursday that Trump “breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation” by allowing “his campaign to orchestrate the Fundraiser, allowing his campaign, instead of the Foundation, to direct distribution of the Funds, and using the Fundraiser and distribution of the Funds to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.”

Scarpulla said that she ordered Trump to pay $2 million in damages rather than $2.8 million — the amount the attorney general had argued for — because the funds ultimately reached their intended destinations, veterans charities.

The lawsuit, filed by then-New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood in June 2018, named Trump, his three eldest children and the Trump Foundation and alleged violations of campaign finance law.

Trump on Thursday attacked James as well as Underwood and her processor, Eric Schneiderman, who resigned amid accusations of physical abuse. Trump accused them of targeting him for political purposes.

Trump also criticized James for not investigating the Clinton Foundation — the charity founded by his former 2016 Democratic presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, and former President Bill Clinton.

“It has been 4 years of politically motivated harassment – first by lightweight AG Schneiderman, prior to his resignation for beating up women – then AG Underwood, who was impossible to deal with, and now AG Letitia James, who does not acknowledge that we gave 100% of the funds to great charities, but refuses to investigate the Clinton Foundation with all of its problems,” Trump said.  

Trump also said he would be “happy to donate” $2 million to eight charities, namely Army Emergency Relief; Children’s Aid Society; City Meals on Wheels; Give an Hour; Martha’s Table; United Negro College Fund; United Way of Capital Area; and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Thursday’s order came after the foundation agreed in December to dissolve under court supervision as part of agreement with the state attorney general’s office. In the order, Scarpulla wrote that the parties agreed to a “consensual resolution of the bulk of this proceeding” in October that left it up to her to determine the amount Trump would pay in damages.  

James positioned the order as a major victory for her office. 

[The Hill]

Trump claims bribery isn’t an impeachable offense — but it’s in the Constitution as an example

President Donald Trump went off on Twitter Sunday against the idea that “some” reports are incorrectly citing Republican senators believe he tried to extort Ukraine.

“False stories are being reported that a few Republican Senators are saying that President Trump may have done a quid pro quo, but it doesn’t matter, there is nothing wrong with that, it is not an impeachable event. Perhaps so, but read the transcript, there is no quid pro quo!”

Quid pro quo” is a Latin word that simply describes extortion or bribery. The Constitution outlines “high crimes and misdemeanors” as impeachable offenses and gives examples in Section 4 of Article II.

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

[Raw Story]

Trump Threatens to Expose Information on Vindman

Donald Trump on Sunday appeared to threaten to expose information on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the decorated veteran who reportedly testified that the president omitted certain key words and phrases from the White House’s memo of the Ukraine phone call at the center of an impeachment inquiry. While speaking to reporters outside the White House, Trump repeated unfounded claims that Vindman is a “Never Trumper,” a label he also bestowed on former Ukraine Ambassador William Taylor after his impeachment inquiry testimony outlined how Trump officials made demands of the Ukrainian government in exchange for investigations into the Bidens. 

Vindman, a decorated Iraq War veteran and National Security Council official, reportedly testified that he was instructed by White House counsel John Eisenberg to keep quiet about the call after voicing his concerns. “It’s a whole scam… it’s between the Democrats and the fake news media,” Trump said of the inquiry. When asked what evidence he had that Vindman is a “Never Trumper,” the president responded: “We’ll be showing that to you real soon.”


[The Daily Beast]


Trump threatens to end federal aid to California in tweets slamming Gov. Gavin Newsom

Just days after Gov. Gavin Newsom praised the federal government for its response to catastrophic wildfires and power outages affecting millions, President Donald Trump on Sunday slammed the California Democrat — and threatened to cut off future federal funding to the fire-battered state.

Trump, in a spate of postings on Twitter, lambasted what he called Newsom’s “terrible job” regarding the state’s forest management practices, saying the governor should stop listening to environmentalist “bosses” and “clean” the forest floors. He also slammed Newsom for state water-management practices, suggesting that California must open up what he called “ridiculously closed water lanes.”

Saying Newsom had repeatedly requested federal funds, Trump threatened to cut him off.

“Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing—and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more,” the president tweeted.

He then tweaked Newsom’s leadership: “Get your act together Governor.”

The governor responded a short time later.

“We’re successfully waging war against thousands of fires started across the state in the last few weeks due to extreme weather created by climate change while Trump is conducting a full on assault against the antidotes,” he told POLITICO in a statement.

His office also pushed back hard against Trump, noting that the governor’s fire prevention and management projects included an investment of $225.8 million to help streamline programs specifically aimed at “reducing fuels in the forest, increasing forest health, and defensible space around homes.’’ The governor’s office in addition said there are currently 35 priority projects in addition to the redeployment of National Guard personnel to assist the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in controlling the fires.

Newsom in recent weeks has laid into PG&E, the investor-owned utility that has been blamed for sparking catastrophic fires because of its outdated equipment and failed infrastructure. He has said he may explore a takeover of the utility unless it emerges from bankruptcy with a solid plan to protect California homeowners and consumers and avoid widespread outages before the 2020 fire season.

Sunday was not the first time the president has vowed to withdraw federal funding from the state — though he has never made good on the threat. He did so in January, saying that “unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money.”

After that tweet, following the Paradise-based Camp Fire, which killed more than 80 people, Newsom responded that “disasters and recovery are no time for politics,’’ and said the state was working hard to “modernize and manage our forest and emergency responses.”

Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, cited the governor’s leadership in directing the agency to pursue 35 priority projects to reduce wildfire risk in vulnerable communities. That’s in addition to Cal Fire’s regularly scheduled prescribed burns and fuel reductions, he added.

“We are in a good place, and we’re very active,” McLean said.

He added that California experienced one of its “best winters in a long time,” meaning that state firefighters now had enough water access to combat blazes. McLean also noted that oversight of the state’s land was divided between local governments, Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service — meaning the Trump-controlled federal agency had some responsibility for the current situation, too.

Trump’s string of tweets on California kicked off Sunday with: “ The Governor of California@GavinNewsom has done a terrible job of forest management. I told him from the first day we met that he must ‘clean’ his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him. Must also do burns and cut fire stoppers.”

He finished: “But our teams are working well together in….. … putting these massive, and many, fires out. Great firefighters! Also, open up the ridiculously closed water lanes coming down from the North. Don’t pour it out into the Pacific Ocean. Should be done immediately. California desperately needs water, and you can have it now!”

Trump Baselessly Claims ‘Freak’ Adam Schiff Will ‘Change the Words’ of Impeachment Inquiry Transcripts

President Donald Trump baselessly claimed transcripts from his impeachment inquiry will be altered in some way by “freak” Rep. Adam Schiff, demanding the GOP release their own versions.

“If Shifty Adam Schiff, who is a corrupt politician who fraudulently made up what I said on the “call,” is allowed to release transcripts of the Never Trumpers & others that are & were interviewed, he will change the words,” Trump claimed Sunday night.

“Republicans should give their own transcripts of the interviews to contrast with Schiff’s manipulated propaganda,” he continued.

Trump also called for the impeachment of Schiff, saying he is “really the one who should be impeached!”

There is no mechanism to impeach members of Congress.

A number of House Democrats have said transcripts of private testimony in the impeachment inquiry will be released to the public in the coming week.

Trump also attempted to corral Republicans who have said Trump may have “done a quid pro quo” but that it is not impeachable behavior.

“Perhaps so, but read the transcript, there is no quid pro quo!” Trump said.

[Mediaite]

Trump rails against impeachment inquiry as key White House witness testifies

President Trump on Tuesday railed against the impeachment inquiry into his alleged abuse of power ahead of key testimony from a White House official that threatens to deepen the president’s problems.

Trump tweeted or retweeted dozens of messages denying wrongdoing, chastising Democrats for their handling of the impeachment proceedings thus far and questioning the credibility of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official who will meet behind closed doors with lawmakers on Tuesday.

“Supposedly, according to the Corrupt Media, the Ukraine call ‘concerned’ today’s Never Trumper witness,” Trump tweeted. “Was he on the same call that I was? Can’t be possible! Please ask him to read the Transcript of the call. Witch Hunt!”

In another tweet, Trump questioned “How many more Never Trumpers will be allowed to testify” and asked “why so many” people were listening in on his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The president repeatedly urged his followers on Tuesday to read a White House rough transcript of the call, which was released in September. The document shows Trump urging Zelensky to look into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and a company with ties to the Russia investigation.

Vindman on Tuesday will become the first official who was on the call to testify. He will tell lawmakers that he was troubled by Trump urging Zelensky to investigate a political rival and reported it to his supervisor, worrying that the president’s conduct threatened to undermine U.S. national security, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by The Hill.

Vindman is a Ukrainian American immigrant and received the Purple Heart for his service in Iraq.

The July 25 call, a whistleblower complaint about the conversation and testimony from several administration officials have formed the basis of the ongoing impeachment inquiry. The House is scheduled to vote this week to formalize the inquiry and lay out rules to govern the process.

Republicans and White House allies have spent recent weeks hammering Democrats over transparency and questioning the legitimacy of the impeachment inquiry without a formal vote. But in light of Democrats agreeing to hold such a vote, the president’s backers have shifted their message.

Trump on Tuesday retweeted dozens of messages from Republican lawmakers and conservative voices blasting the process as a “sham” and disputing that holding a formal vote at this point in the process changes that.

“A vote now is a bit like un-Ringing a bell as House Democrats have selectively leaked information in order to damage President @realDonaldTrump for weeks,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted in one message shared by Trump.

“Codifying a sham process halfway through doesn’t make it any less of a sham process,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in another message the president retweeted.

While Republicans have largely focused their complaints on process, Trump has fixated on the substance of the investigation and repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

“I’d rather go into the details of the case rather than process,” Trump said Monday. “Process is good. But I think you ought to look at the case. And the case is very simple. It’s quick. It’s so quick.”

The president’s insistence that he has done nothing wrong puts Republicans in a difficult spot, particularly in the Senate, where some GOP lawmakers have been hesitant to defend Trump’s actions.

Most Republican senators backed a resolution last week condemning the impeachment inquiry against Trump and calling on the House to hold a formal vote on the inquiry. But the document largely focused on process, and a few key senators have yet to sign on to it in support.

[The Hill]

Trump goes on Twitter tear after White House official condemns his Ukraine call

President Donald Trump launched a sustained online offensive Tuesday morning after details emerged of damaging congressional testimony by a senior White House official — retweeting numerous messages by Republican lawmakers assailing the latest developments in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

The flurry of activity on the president’s social media feed came just hours before Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council staffer overseeing Ukraine policy, was due to tell investigators on Capitol Hill that Trump undermined U.S. national security when he pressured Ukraine’s president in a July phone call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

“Why are people that I never even heard of testifying about the call,” Trump tweeted. “Just READ THE CALL TRANSCRIPT AND THE IMPEACHMENT HOAX IS OVER! Ukrain said NO PRESSURE.”

Vindman is the first witness in the impeachment probe who listened in on Trump’s call with President Volodymyr Zelensky, and his testimony appears to corroborate both a whistleblower complaint lodged by an anonymous member of the intelligence community who was alarmed by accounts of the conversation, as well as a summary of the call released by the White House.

“Supposedly, according to the Corrupt Media, the Ukraine call ‘concerned’ today’s Never Trumper witness. Was he on the same call that I was? Can’t be possible! Please ask him to read the Transcript of the call. Witch Hunt!” Trump wrote, without offering any evidence that Vindman is biased against him.

“How many more Never Trumpers will be allowed to testify about a perfectly appropriate phone call when all anyone has to do is READ THE TRANSCRIPT!” the president also posted. “I knew people were listening in on the call (why would I say something inappropriate?), which was fine with me, but why so many?”

Trump last week similarly claimed to not know William Taylor, the top American envoy to Ukraine, deriding the State Department official as a “Never Trumper Diplomat” after Taylor directly tied the president to a quid pro quo with Ukraine during testimony before lawmakers.

Among the roughly four dozen tweets or retweets Trump issued Tuesday morning, the president shared missives by prominent GOP defenders in Congress including Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Doug Collins of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Devin Nunes of California.

Many of those messages criticized a resolution by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Democrats, set to be voted upon by the full chamber Thursday, formalizing the next steps of the impeachment inquiry.

“Pelosi announces they’ll finally vote to open the impeachment inquiry,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote in a post Trump retweeted Tuesday. “Codifying a sham process halfway through doesn’t make it any less of a sham process.”

Meanwhile, allies of the White House on cable news advanced a new line of attack against Vindman — whose family fled Ukraine when he was a child — suggesting without evidence that the foreign-born public servant was more loyal to his native country than the U.S.

“We all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from. Like me, I’m sure that Vindman has the same affinity,” former Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.) told CNN on Tuesday.

“He’s entitled to his opinion,” Duffy said. “He has an affinity, I think, for the Ukraine. He speaks Ukrainian, he came from the country, and he wants to make sure they’re safe and free. I understand that.”

Duffy sought to walk back his on-air remarks in a tweet later Tuesday morning, characterizing Vindman as “an American war hero“ and writing: “My point is that Mr. Vindman is an unelected advisor, he gives ADVICE. President Trump sets the policy.“

Vindman, an Army combat veteran of the Iraq War who received a Purple Heart after being wounded in an IED attack, described himself as a “patriot” in his opening statement to lawmakers Tuesday, writing that “it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country, irrespective of party or politics.”

“Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade acknowledged Vindman’s military service Tuesday, but asserted: “He tends to feel simpatico with the Ukraine.”

John Yoo, a Justice Department official in former President George W. Bush’s administration, was more explicit in challenging Vindman’s allegiance on Monday evening.

After Fox News host Laura Ingraham promoted a story by The New York Times which mentioned that Ukrainian officials sought advice from Vindman on how to deal with Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, Yoo told her: “Some people might call that espionage.“

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) denounced those comments as “despicable“ on Tuesday. “This is not normal. There’s nothing normal about this,“ he told MSNBC.

Even Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the third-ranking House GOP lawmaker, spoke out forcefully against “questioning the dedication to country of people like Mr. Vindman” and others who have been deposed as part of the impeachment inquiry.

“It is shameful to question their patriotism, their love of this nation, and we should not be involved in that process,” she said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) also warned Republicans homing in on Vindman that “it would be a mistake to attack his credibility.”

“You can obviously take issue with the substance, and there are different interpretations about all that stuff,” he told POLITICO. “But I wouldn’t go after him personally. He’s a patriot.”

[Politico]

In Chicago, Trump calls the city an embarrassment to the US

 Visiting Chicago for the first time as president, Donald Trump disparaged the city Monday as a haven for criminals that is “embarrassing to us as a nation.” The city’s top cop sat out Trump’s speech to protest the president’s immigration policies and frequently divisive rhetoric.

“There is one person who is not here today,” Trump told a friendly audience at a conference of police chiefs. “Where is he? I want to talk to him. In fact, more than anyone else, this person should be here because maybe he could learn something, and that’s the superintendent of the Chicago Police, Eddie Johnson.”

Johnson’s decision to boycott the event angered the city’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, which said in a Facebook post that “such a gesture would be an insult to both President Trump and the office of the presidency itself and would be a mark of disgrace upon the city throughout the entire nation, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot.”

But the Democratic mayor and Illinois’ Democratic governor stood in solidarity with Johnson, who announced days before the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference that he would not attend.

“This is the land of Lincoln and when you come to the state of Illinois you should respect all the people who live here in the state of Illinois,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Lightfoot also refused to meet with Trump, and said on Twitter that she supports Johnson.

“It’s no surprise that @realDonaldTrump brought his insulting, ignorant buffoonery to Chicago,” the mayor tweeted. “Luckily, in this city, we know the truth and we will not let anyone — no matter how high the office — denigrate who we are as a people or our status as a welcoming city.”

“Rather than belittle Chicago’s communities with hateful and dishonest rhetoric, he needs to go back to D.C. and face his fate,” Lightfoot said, apparently referring to the House impeachment inquiry against the president.

Trump has frequently criticized Chicago for its crime problems and status as a sanctuary city , one of scores of cities around the country that refuse to work with federal authorities to round up people who are living in the U.S. illegally.

At a news conference later Monday, Johnson said Trump had ignored a “double digit” reduction in violent crime in the city over the past three years.

Trump has long held up the nation’s third-largest city as the poster child of urban violence and dysfunctional Democratic politics.

At one point in the address, Trump turned his daily complaint about the impeachment inquiry into a swipe at “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who authorities say fabricated a claim about being attacked by Trump supporters in Chicago earlier this year.

“You have the case of this wise guy Jessie Smollett … and he said MAGA country did it,” Trump said, using the acronym for his “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. “It’s a real big scam, just like the impeachment of your president is a scam.”

The FOP Lodge 7, which represents rank-and-file Chicago police officers, announced that it had cast a vote of no confidence in Johnson. The union’s president, Kevin Graham, was first to greet Trump on the tarmac of O’Hare International Airport, after he landed in the city.

In the speech, Trump rattled off Chicago crime statistics and claimed that Johnson puts the needs of people living in the U.S. illegally above those of law-abiding residents of Chicago. “Those are his values and frankly those values to me are a disgrace,” Trump said. “I want Eddie Johnson to change his values and to change them fast.”

During the conference, Trump signed an executive order creating a presidential commission on law enforcement to study issues like substance abuse, homelessness and mental illness. The president also announced that the Justice Department will begin a “surge” to crack down on violent crime in the United States, targeting gang members and drug traffickers in high-crime areas.

Johnson, meanwhile, is under internal investigation after he was found sleeping in a city-owned vehicle earlier this month. Lightfoot said Johnson, who called for the investigation, told her he had “a couple of drinks with dinner” before he fell asleep at a stop sign while driving home. Johnson blamed the episode on a change in his blood pressure medication.

While in Chicago, Trump headlined a campaign luncheon at his hotel in the city, raising approximately $4 million for a joint fundraising committee benefiting Trump’s reelection effort and the Republican National Committee, according to the GOP.

Thousands of demonstrators rallied outside the hotel, waving colorful signs that said “Impeach Trump Now” and “Quid Pro Quo Trump Must Go.” They also shouted chants such as “Lock him up” and “Trump must go.”

Some said they came to protest out of a fear for the country they have never felt before.

“It will take decades to put things back in place,” said Caroline Mooney, a 61-year-old marketing analyst from the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park.

“If something doesn’t happen next November, we may not recover,” said her friend Steve Schaibley, who drove 2-1/2 hours from Livingston County.

The gathering was mostly peaceful. But two people were taken into custody after apparently attacking a man waving a Trump flag. The Trump supporter was bloodied but did not appear to have been seriously injured.

[Associated Press]

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