Quick Takes: Trump Finally Finds Another Lawyer

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* As you might have heard, Donald Trump has been having trouble finding people who are willing to serve on his legal team. Someone finally took the bait.

Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a combative former prosecutor and longtime ally of President Trump, told The Washington Post on Thursday that he has joined the president’s legal team dealing with the ongoing special counsel probe.

“I’m doing it because I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country and because I have high regard for the president and for Bob Mueller,” Giuliani said in an interview.

Let’s check in on what twitter has to say.

* Jonathan Martin took a deep dive into what farmers in the Midwest are saying about Trump’s trade policies.

Here in the largest soybean-producing county in the country, a snowy winter has left North Dakota farmers like Robert Runck with time on their hands before spring planting — time they have spent stewing over how much they stand to lose if President Trump starts a trade war with China.

“If he doesn’t understand what he’s doing to the nation by doing what he’s doing, he’s going to be a one-term president, plain and simple,” said Mr. Runck, a fourth-generation farmer who voted for Mr. Trump. Pausing outside the post office in this town of 2,300, Mr. Runck said the repercussions could be more immediate for Representative Kevin Cramer, a Republican whose bid against Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, has been complicated by the proposed tariffs.

“If it doesn’t get resolved by election time, I would imagine it would cost Kevin Cramer some votes,” he said.

Stern warnings are coming from all over the Midwest about the political peril for Republicans in Mr. Trump’s recent course of action, in which the tariffs he slapped on foreign competitors invited retaliatory tariffs on American agriculture. Soybeans are America’s second largest export to China, and that country’s proposed 25 percent duties on the crop would hit hardest in states like Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota — where there are highly competitive House races — as well as Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota, whose Senate contests may determine control of the chamber.

* Adele Stan points out that Sean Hannity is just the tip of the iceberg.

Hannity, who has large audiences for both his nightly cable television program and his daily radio show, is among the president’s most ardent defenders and, more importantly, an on-air attacker of anyone perceived to be a threat to the Trump presidency. For months, Hannity has called for the end to the special counsel investigation of the Trump campaign’s relationship to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. He has advanced a debunked conspiracy theory about the death of a staffer at the Democratic National Committee. He echoes Trump’s “fake news” accusations of any reporting that casts the president in an unfavorable light. He has featured Cohen on his television show in segments regarding Trump’s travails without revealing his attorney-client relationship with the fixer-in-chief.

Yes, this is all quite troubling, if not entirely surprising. The real problem, however, is much bigger than whether Hannity is in cahoots with the administration; it’s the total distortion of the media landscape by the big right-wing outlets: Fox News, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Breitbart News, all de facto propaganda arms of the White House. Although the structure of news media in the era of the internet and cable TV lends itself to the silo-ing of audiences with particular political leanings, that alone is not what has caused the distortion. Rather, the leveraging of that phenomenon into an authoritarian disinformation operation is the issue.

* Back when the negotiations over a fix for DACA were making headlines, I pointed out that the Trump administration was demanding legislation that “closed loopholes” and would allow the U.S. to detain and deport more migrant children. Senator Dianne Feinstein noticed and wrote an op-ed defending our current policy.

…Congress has enacted laws to provide basic humanitarian protections to unaccompanied immigrant children. The Trump administration recently reignited its attacks on these protections, with the president going so far as to call laws that protect helpless children “loopholes.”

The administration says these laws prevent immigrant children from being removed from the country, when in fact the goal is to ensure that these children are detained for as little time as possible and only in an appropriate setting, they receive adequate food and water, and that they are given the opportunity to apply for asylum…

These aren’t loopholes, they are basic principles of common human decency. And to demonize and politicize these children is appalling. Contrary to the picture painted by this administration, current policies don’t guarantee a child will be able to remain in the United States. Nor do these policies mean dangerous individuals are being released onto our streets.

The Trump administration’s efforts to repeal protections for children are based on an ignorance of history. The only effect of repeal would be more children held in unsafe conditions at exorbitant costs to the taxpayer.

* Time released their list of the 100 most influential people in 2018. Congratulations to the Parkland students for making the list! I would imagine that they are equally honored to have Barack Obama write the entry about their inclusion.

The Parkland, Fla., students don’t have the kind of lobbyists or big budgets for attack ads that their opponents do. Most of them can’t even vote yet.

But they have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom.

The power to insist that America can be better.

Seared by memories of seeing their friends murdered at a place they believed to be safe, these young leaders don’t intimidate easily. They see the NRA and its allies—whether mealymouthed politicians or mendacious commentators peddling conspiracy theories—as mere shills for those who make money selling weapons of war to whoever can pay. They’re as comfortable speaking truth to power as they are dismissive of platitudes and punditry. And they live to mobilize their peers.

Already, they’ve had some success persuading statehouses and some of the biggest gun retailers to change. Now it gets harder. A Republican Congress remains unmoved. NRA scare tactics still sway much of the country. Progress will be slow and frustrating.

But by bearing witness to carnage, by asking tough questions and demanding real answers, the Parkland students are shaking us out of our complacency. The NRA’s favored candidates are starting to fear they might lose. Law-abiding gun owners are starting to speak out. As these young leaders make common cause with African Americans and Latinos—the disproportionate victims of gun violence—and reach voting age, the possibilities of meaningful change will steadily grow.

Our history is defined by the youthful push to make America more just, more compassionate, more equal under the law. This generation—of Parkland, of Dreamers, of Black Lives Matter—embraces that duty. If they make their elders uncomfortable, that’s how it should be. Our kids now show us what we’ve told them America is all about, even if we haven’t always believed it ourselves: that our future isn’t written for us, but by us.

The fact that the same country that elected that man twice went on to elect Donald Trump still boggles my mind.

* Finally, sometimes our memories can be short. When we attempt to explain how we got to the Trump era, we can forget what happened as soon as this country elected our first African American president. The racism and xenophobia didn’t start with Donald Trump. This video is a bit difficult to watch, but it is an important reminder of how we got here.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.