Author: Dana Milbank

Trump’s one consistent policy: Chaos

By Dana Milbank, Is America becoming a rogue state? The State Department stopped using the term years ago to describe the likes of Iran and North Korea, figuring it was needlessly provocative. But it would seem the incoming Trump administration plans to handle its affairs — domestic and foreign — in a manner that meets the dictionary definition of a “rogue state” as one “that conducts its policy in a dangerously unpredictable way.” Even before Donald Trump threw Sino-American relations into a new round of turmoil by speaking with the Taiwanese leader and by trolling a nation of 1.4 billion people on Twitter, Trump and his team set off new chaos between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, with Trump praising the repressive regime of the latter and pledging to visit, while a member of his transition team told the former that Trump supports designating Pakistan a terrorist haven. Trump snubbed our closest ally, Britain, by having post-election calls with nine foreign leaders before granting British Prime Minister Theresa May the honor. He shattered protocol by suggesting Britain name Nigel Farage, the Brexit leader, ambassador to the United States. Meanwhile, NATO leaders meeting in Brussels this week were on edge about Trump’s coziness with Russia and his dismissive words about the alliance. According to foreign government accounts, Trump praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against drug users and dealers, which has killed...

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Trump, the pleaser president

By Dana Milbank, It is a sign of how secretive the new administration plans to be that when Donald Trump spoke this week with the Pakistani prime minister, Americans learned what was discussed not from their president-elect but from the oppressive Pakistani government’s Ministry of Information. Luckily, ministry Press Release No. 298 — Pakistan’s official “readout” of the phone call — so perfectly captured the president-elect’s way of speaking that there can be little doubt it is close to a verbatim account. It is 193 words of unintentional literary genius: “Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called President-elect USA Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory. President Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January that is before I...

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The election really was rigged

IMAGE CREDIT: THE LIBERTARIAN REPUBLIC By Dana Milbank, A voting scandal of epic proportion tilted this election. The scam involved millions of people. No, I’m not talking about the recount the Clinton campaign joined in Wisconsin and may seek in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton and her aides were correct before, when they said voting fraud is rare. The recounts won’t change the election’s outcome. And after rightly criticizing Donald Trump for saying he might not honor the election results, Clinton and her aides, who admit they have no evidence of skullduggery, risk looking hypocritical. Neither am I talking about Trump’s outlandish and baseless claim that millions of non-citizens and dead people voted illegally. That’s as absurd as his preelection claims that the voting system was “rigged.” Both distract from the real scandal, which is happening in plain sight. Millions of would-be voters didn’t participate because of obstacles designed to discourage them. The hurdles were, thanks to a 2013 Supreme Court ruling invalidating key parts of the Voting Rights Act, largely legal. And they arguably suppressed enough minority voters to cost Clinton the election. Fourteen states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election, and 20 have had such restrictions put in place since 2010, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a group that opposes such laws. These include strict photo-ID requirements,...

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For Democrats to recover, Nancy Pelosi must go

By Dana Milbank, Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, will be 77 next year. Steny Hoyer, her deputy, will be 78. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democratic leader, will be 77. Their current ages, if combined, would date back to 1787, the year George Washington presided over the signing of the Constitution. It is time for them to go. This is not to take away anything from their accomplishments. Hoyer is one of the most decent and genial people in politics. Pelosi, the first woman to be speaker of the House, has been enormously effective in unifying her Democratic caucus. But let’s be honest. Barring a political earthquake, the next plausible chance for Democrats to take over the House is in 2022, after the 2020 Census and a redrawing of district lines that have protected Republicans. By then, Pelosi and Clyburn would be 83, Hoyer 84. Democrats would benefit from some fresh blood to take on Donald Trump, the oldest president ever elected for the first time, and to revive enthusiasm among millennials, who didn’t turn out in the numbers Democrats needed. Pelosi’s leadership team also misplayed the 2016 election. Its campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, insisted on a strategy of tying each Republican to Trump, even though, as I wrote at the time, evidence showed that this wouldn’t work. Democrats gained a paltry six seats. But...

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Trump’s fake-news presidency

By Dana Milbank, BuzzFeed reported this week that fake news stories about the election generated more engagement on Facebook than the top election stories from 19 major news outlets — combined. And that’s not the half of it. Not only is fake news getting more attention than actual news, but the leading purveyor of fake news in the United States is now the president-elect. For 17 months, Donald Trump treated the nation to a series of outlandish promises. He’ll eliminate the $19 trillion federal debt in eight years. He’ll balance the budget without cutting Social Security, Medicare and other entitlements. He’ll bring back lost coal jobs. He’ll make Mexico pay for a border wall. He’ll deport 12 million illegal immigrants while growing the economy by at least 6 percent. Now Trump is the president-elect, and it’s time to deliver on the impossible. No wonder his transition is racked with chaos and infighting. Scripture tells us you can’t serve both God and mammon. Yet Trump proposes to be served by both Reince Priebus and Stephen Bannon — a chief of staff who is a paragon of the establishment and a top adviser who is a leading voice for white supremacists. The array of impossible promises and false claims has all the appearances of a Ponzi scheme, with the $18 trillion U.S. economy in the balance. Bernie Madoff’s scheme lost only...

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Latest from the Trump conspiracy factory: Bill Clinton’s black son

By Dana Milbank, Filmmaker Joel Gilbert, the conspiracy theorist who believes President Obama has a secret Muslim prayer inscribed on his wedding ring, made a splash in 2012 when he said Obama had plastic surgery to conceal that his real father was labor activist Frank Marshall Davis, who raised his son to lead a communist revolution. Four years later, and just in time for Election Day, Gilbert is back with a new film alleging that Bill Clinton has a 30-year-old son he sired with a black prostitute. And on Tuesday, Gilbert hauled the young man to Washington and gave him a speech to read to the TV cameras at the National Press Club. “As you can see I’m the black son of former president Bill Clinton and the stepson of Hillary Clinton,” the young man, Danney Williams, read as Gilbert, off to the side, mouthed many of the words. Actually, you could only see him as Clinton’s son if you imagined Clinton six inches shorter, with a different build and different facial features. But no matter. “At this time I am reaching out to Miss Lewinsky, Monica Lewinsky,” Williams went on, looking to Gilbert for instruction and holding up a letter. “I’m asking that Miss Lewinsky allow me to borrow her blue dress in order to obtain a DNA sample of my father’s, former president Bill Clinton, in order to...

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A Putin-sponsored October surprise?

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters) By Dana Milbank, The Russians have just given us an August glimpse of a potential October surprise. We learned earlier this summer that cyber-hackers widely believed to be tied to the Kremlin have broken into the email of the Democratic National Committee and others. And, in an apparent effort to boost Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, they’re leaking what they believe to be the most damaging documents at strategic points in the campaign. Last week, we learned something else: The Russians aren’t just hackers — they’re also hacks. Turns out that before leaking their stolen information, they are in some cases doctoring the documents, making edits that add false information and then passing the documents off as the originals. Foreign Policy’s Elias Groll reported last week that the hackers goofed: They posted both the original versions of at least three documents and their edited versions. These documents, stolen from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, were altered by the hackers to create the false impression that Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny was funded by Soros. A pro-Russian hacking group, CyberBerkut, had inserted Navalny’s name, bogus dollar amounts and fabricated wording. This raises an intriguing possibility: Are Vladimir Putin’s operatives planning to dump edited DNC documents on the eve of the presidential election? Perhaps they’ll show that the Clinton Foundation has been funding the Islamic State,...

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The singular danger of Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. (Gerald Herbert/AP) By Dana Milbank, My recent columns on Donald Trump have generated a consistent response from his supporters: “Why don’t you just admit that your lips are super-glued to Hillary’s ass?” “Keep preaching to the Hillary choir.” “Please notify me when you are going to write your column on the lies of Hillary Clinton. Oh, excuse me, that’s not happening is it?” “If . . . that lying psycho b—- wins, there will be nothing left of this country. You better stock up on bullets to protect your house!” This is a so’s-your-old-man argument: They’re not defending the indefensible Trump but accusing me of being in the tank for Clinton. And I do support Clinton — but only in the sense that I would support a ham sandwich for president if it were the only thing standing between Trump and the Oval Office. Moderates and reasonable Republicans who are considering voting for Trump portray it as a choice between two unpalatable options. But it isn’t. It’s a choice between one unpalatable option and one demagogue who operates outside of our democratic traditions, promoting racism, condoning violence and moving paranoia into the mainstream. This presidential election, unlike the six others I have covered, is not about party or ideology. It’s about Trump’s threat to our tradition of self-government. You’d be hard pressed, reading my coverage of...

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