Trump versus Bannon escalates

Ex Trump campaigner and White House aid Steve Bannon has stirred things up with revelations in a book, and Trump via his lawyers has hit back with a cease and desist letter.

BBC: 10 explosive revelations from new Trump book

Donald Trump was “befuddled” by his election win, did not enjoy his inauguration and was scared of the White House, according to a new book.

Journalist Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House also purports to lift the lid on Ivanka Trump’s secret presidential ambitions.


1. Bannon thought Don Jr meeting ‘treasonous’

According to the book, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon thought a meeting between Donald Trump Jr and a group of Russians was “treasonous”.

Bannon reportedly said the Justice Department investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Moscow would focus on money laundering, adding: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

2. Trump ‘befuddled’ by his victory

In an article for NYMag adapted from his book, Wolff describes the amazement – and dismay – in the Trump camp at his November 2016 election win.

“Shortly after 8pm on Election Night, when the unexpected trend – Trump might actually win – seemed confirmed, Don Jr told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears – and not of joy. There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.”

3. Trump ‘angry’ at inauguration

Wolff writes:

“Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.”

But the first lady’s office rejected the claims.

Communications director Stephanie Grisham said in a statement: “Mrs Trump supported her husband’s decision to run for President and in fact, encouraged him to do so. She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did.”

4. Trump found White House ‘scary’

Wolff writes:

“Trump, in fact, found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary. He retreated to his own bedroom – the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms. In the first days, he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room.”

5. Ivanka hopes to be president

Mr Trump’s daughter and her husband Jared Kushner allegedly struck a deal that she might run for president in future, according to Wolff:

“Balancing risk against reward, both Jared and Ivanka decided to accept roles in the West Wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. It was a joint decision by the couple, and, in some sense, a joint job. Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump. Bannon, who had coined the term ‘Jarvanka’ that was now in ever greater use in the White House, was horrified when the couple’s deal was reported to him.”

6. Ivanka mocks dad’s ‘comb-over’

The US first daughter poked fun at her father’s alleged “scalp-reduction surgery”, according to the book.

“She treated her father with a degree of detachment, even irony, going so far as to make fun of his comb-over to others.”

7. White House unsure of priorities

Katie Walsh, the White House deputy chief of staff, asked Mr Kushner, the president’s senior adviser, what the administration wanted to achieve.

But according to the book, Mr Kushner did not have an answer.

“‘Just give me the three things the president wants to focus on,’ she [Katie Walsh] demanded. ‘What are the three priorities of this White House?’ It was the most basic question imaginable – one that any qualified presidential candidate would have answered long before he took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Six weeks into Trump’s presidency, Kushner was wholly without an answer. ‘Yes,’ he said to Walsh. ‘We should probably have that conversation.'”

8. Trump’s admiration for Murdoch

Wolff, who previously wrote a biography of Rupert Murdoch, describes Mr Trump’s high regard for the News Corp media titan.

“Rupert Murdoch, who had promised to pay a call on the president-elect, was running late. When some of the guests made a move to leave, an increasingly agitated Trump assured them that Rupert was on his way. ‘He’s one of the greats, the last of the greats,’ Trump said. ‘You have to stay to see him.’ Not grasping that he was now the most powerful man in the world, Trump was still trying mightily to curry favor with a media mogul who had long disdained him as a charlatan and fool.”

9. Murdoch calls Trump ‘idiot’

But the admiration was not mutual, according to Wolff’s account of a call between Mr Murdoch and Mr Trump about the president’s meeting with Silicon Valley executives.

Mr Trump is said to have told Mr Murdoch:

“‘These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.’ ‘Donald,’ said Murdoch, ‘for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.’

‘Take this H-1B visa issue. They really need these H-1B visas.’Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America’s doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, ‘We’ll figure it out.’ ‘What a f****** idiot,’ said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.”

10. Flynn knew Russia ties ‘a problem’

Former US National Security Adviser Mike Flynn knew that accepting money from Moscow for a speech could come back to haunt him, according to the book.

Wolff writes that before the election Mr Flynn “had been told by friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech. ‘Well it would only be a problem if we won,’ he assured them.”


That mostly seems quite lame, but people supposedly on Trump’s side calling him and idiot and saying actions of his son were treasonous aren’t a great look.

Trump’s reaction via his lawyer suggests he wasn’t very pleased – and guarantees maximum exposure.

ABC News: Trump attorney sends Bannon cease and desist letter over ‘disparaging’ comments

That sounds a tad ironic given Trump’s history of disparaging comments, but his lawyers claim a breach of confidentiality agreement.

Lawyers on behalf of President Donald Trump sent a letter Wednesday night to former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon demanding he refrain from making disparaging comments against the president and his family.

Trump attorney Charles Harder said in a statement, “This law firm represents President Donald J. Trump and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. On behalf of our clients, legal notice was issued today to Stephen K. Bannon, that his actions of communicating with author Michael Wolff regarding an upcoming book give rise to numerous legal claims including defamation by libel and slander, and breach of his written confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement with our clients. Legal action is imminent.”

In the letter to Bannon, Harder, writes, “You [Bannon] have breached the Agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company [the campaign], disclosing Confidential Information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members.”

In the letter, Trump’s attorney says that “remedies for your breach of the agreement include but are not limited to monetary damages” though no dollar amount is disclosed.

During the campaign, then-candidate Trump had all campaign staff sign a non-disclosure agreement which required all staff, according to campaign sources, to refrain from any disparaging comments against the candidate, his family or the Trump campaign and organization.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump hit back at Bannon in scathing comments, saying that when Bannon was fired “he not only lost his job, he lost his mind”.

So it seems that Trump only has a double standard about disparaging comments.  Perhaps he didn’t sign a confidentiality agreement.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party,” the president said in a statement.

“Often described as the most talented field ever assembled” – good grief. Next thing he will claim to have defeated the strongest Democrat candidate ever.

“Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.”

More irony. This could get uglier.

Curran needs to answer gagging accusations

There have been credible claims that the Labour Party has been gagging party members on blogs. ‘The sprout’ confirms this in a blog comment at The Standard:

My friends were heavied in an attempt to intimidate me to stop posting during the leadership contest between Shearer and Cunliffe. Clearly someone in Wellington didn’t like me saying their pony was a rightwing puppet who couldn’t lead a party to save himself. Despite me only stating the obvious, it spurred a pretty awful and nasty intimidation campaign. They knew the people being threatened weren’t me, but they knew too that doing that to my friends would quieten me. How shitty North-Korean is that?

So far it’s been CV, millsy, Peter Wilson, and me – that I know of – but who knows who else has been leaned on to shut up?

That’s on a blog post – I, Vipertacus – dedicated to solidarity for one of those who have been gagged, Colonial Viper., in which Zetetic says:

We’re not like the disgrace of an MP who has hounded CV into silence because she can’t handle honest criticism (and she’s not just a disgrace for that – she’s the first Labour MP in the history of her seat to let it go blue). Proud of you lot for standing beside our own against a bully.

That gives a strong hint about who the MP is who is leading this gagging campaign. This also alluded to on Friday:

Peter

A damned shame, but highly reflective of the state of affairs with the NZLP currently. I too know the identity of the person involved in this, and there will be future consequences no doubt. Will be interesting to see what happens for me, blogging under my own name, in the future.

Nah, it’s more that some MPs are spending a large amount of their time trawling through blogs, and Facebook etc, and then intimidating members based on what they say, particularly if it doesn’t agree with them. I don’t know if its an overt strategy or policy of NZ Council, but it’s certainly a policy of about 3-4 core MPs, and there may even be a a rogue one in there who can’t help themselves.

I have the evidence, as do others. It exists, and if the behaviour doesn’t stop, it may just come out.

Hilarious. Most people who’ve hung around the Labour Party know who I am. But for the record, my name is Peter Wilson, I was a former party member, LEC member, Otago University youth branch founder and president, Otago/Southland Labour regional council chairman for three years. I’ve chaired list conferences, fought on four campaign committees, including two as campaign manager in tough tory blue country. I have also worked in paid employment for a number of MPs, including the MP in question today.

… I had already received cease and desist messages privately.

There’s more ‘hints’:

Another Viper

Perhaps we show solidarity with CV by including Viper in new pseudonyms.
Clare has him in her sights and Tim Barnett et al will execute on her wishes.

Viper Anne

Does CV have a blog site, or a role inside the membership which would explain this attention?

Not to my knowledge except he has shown himself to be a very effective communicator. I suspect that was the sin he committed.

I know CV lives in Dunedin because he has mentioned it on occasion. The MP in question also hails from Dunedin. In my view she has simply lost the plot. While there may be some other incidences of bullying going on, I don’t think its a campaign on the part of the Labour caucus to stamp out criticism or dissent. I hope not.

All this was sparked by this post on Thursday night:

Just how wrong can you get it?

Written By: – Date published: 9:03 pm, December 6th, 2012

Word is that a senior Labour MP (who will go unnamed) has been lobbying National Council to put rules in place for party members who participate in the blogosphere. It appears they don’t like the idea that members might voice their concerns about the way their party is run. I can only assume that there would have to be some kind of a process whereby members who broke these rules would face a loss of membership or some other form of censure.

And IrishBill clarifies and emphasises:

Nope. That was a turn of phrase that perhaps made it sound more like gossip than fact but it is fact.I can also assure you that I don’t air the party’s laundry like this without good reason.

It has been going on at least since the Labour Party conference:

lprent

Nope. This is an actual problem. There was a threat of “outing” by a MP that came up during the lobbying at conference. Subsequently it was raised by the same MP in the NZ Council as part of the lobbying to push Tamihere’s membership through.

It fits the same pattern of behaviour as Shane Jones demonstrates. A caucus that does things less by focused strategy and more by stupid intimidation.

I’d advise people to think carefully before putting comments at Red Alert if your identity can in anyway be traced back to you. I guess that is why the comments are dropping like a stone over there.

It is quite unacceptable net behaviour.

It’s even more unacceptable behaviour from an MP and a political party. More from lprent:

TRP: There is more than sufficient evidence. At least for me.

The lobbying at the conference which is where this round of it seemed to have started was pretty intense and I’ve had quite a four people independently describing it to me.

The NZ Council debate is something that I have had several direct and indirect sources on.

Much of this information is coming from identifiable Labour Party members. Another member (a conference delegate) questioned the evidence:

Te Reo Putake

To be fair to Labour, there is no evidence presented that supports the claim of bullying. A few people are hinting about dark dealings, but nobody’s fronting with the facts. Name and shame, I reckon.

There is no reason why the evidence should be suppressed. Therefore, it is possible, even likely, that the evidence does not exist. IB, LP and PW are credible people, hence my amazement at their singular failure to back up their position.

The fact that legal threats and intimidation are being used might explain that. But once this started on a blog it was inevitable the leak would become a flood. And word gets around behind the scenes.

Apology accepted. For the record, I never denied anything; the whole thrust of my questions was to establish the truth. I now know the facts, via a private source, but I still don’t know why the Standard won’t publish the full story, because it really is appalling behaviour by a half witted bully of an MP.

However, I’m going to assume the lack of detail is to protect the victim/s and leave it at that. But you should know that this incident leaves me very angry indeed and I firmly believe the MP concerned should be de-selected and expelled from the party.

These are serious accusations. Another blogger (Chris Richardson) quotes the party rule apparently being used to silence the critics:

302. Disciplinary action shall be applied for and ruled upon on the grounds of:

i. contravention of the Principles, Rules and policies of the Party as contained in the current Constitution and policy documents of the Party;

ii. and/or for bringing the Party into disrepute;

Free speech on blogs is not what is bringing the Party into disrepute – there has been a lot of strong criticism for sure, but it has been mostly honest opinion raising valid points as far as I have seen.

I believe draconian gagging and intimidation of party members is doing far more to bring the Labour Party into disrepute.

Clare Curran

MP for Dunedin South
Spokesperson for Communications & IT
Spokesperson for Broadcasting
Spokesperson for Open Government
Spokesperson for Disability Issues

Her spokesperson roles are particularly ironic.

Clare is also the Labour Caucus secretary and representative to the Labour Council.

Clare needs to use her communication expertise and expressed desire for openness and transparency  in politics. She tweeted yesterday:

Contradiction here re opp ITU regs vs support TPPA: Chris Barton: The global battle for internet freedom via @nzherald http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10851641 …

The Herald article she references began:

The online clamour – voices battling for internet freedom and others battling for internet control – became a one sided conversation last week. The voices of freedom shouted somewhat apoplectically at the voices of control, which were mostly secret whispers outed by leaks.

It gets even more serious when political parties and MPs are battling for internet control by quashing the voices of freedom within their own party. Clare already has a reputation for controlling Red Alert – I for one have been banned there. In an email  Clare told me:

Pete I simply don’t believe you. Have had too many instances of your trolling behaviour on Red Alert and my facebook page. Have watched how you comment on The Standard, Kiwiblog and Whaleoil.

I don’t feel threatened by you, I simply don’t believe you.

I think your claims of transparency are rhetoric.

The commenter called Whodunnit has been banned for very offensive comments towards me and for refusing to reveal his identity to me and for it being revealed that he routes his email through another country in order to remain anonymous. Red Alert and Labour MPs on facebook and Twitter engage in real debates and conversations. But people who have malicious intent should not be tolerated by anyone on the internet.

Feel free to publish my comments as no doubt you will.

That was in September when I queries her banning me from Red Alert. Back then I saw no need to publish Clare’s comments, but it fits in with and adds to a bigger picture of political censorship.

Clare, querying and posting honest opinion isn’t trolling. You label people as trolls if you don’t want to hear what they are saying. It is a form of insult and intimidation that you back up with active suppression of free speech.

That brings the Labour Party into disrepute far more than party members expressing their opinions and frustrations with the Labour Caucus. As a member of the house of representatives it also brings Parliament into disrepute.

And as a Dunedin MP it’s an awful look for the city too.

Clare, if you truly believe in open and honest politics and governance as you claim then you need to start being open and honest about what you are doing. Before the damage gets totally out of control.

Labour issuing ‘cease and desist’ notices to members

An identified Labour Party member has claimed he has received cease and desist messages from the party, after two others at The Standard have anounced they won’t be commenting any more at least until…

…well into the New Year at least (perhaps when everthing has settled down)

And…

…at some future date (hopefully not too far away).

I shan’t be back for a wee while unless there is good reason

Here is a sequence of comments from ‘Peter’ (his identity is widely known and he gives his details) starting here.

A damned shame, but highly reflective of the state of affairs with the NZLP currently. I too know the identity of the person involved in this, and there will be future consequences no doubt. Will be interesting to see what happens for me, blogging under my own name, in the future.

Nah, it’s more that some MPs are spending a large amount of their time trawling through blogs, and Facebook etc, and then intimidating members based on what they say, particularly if it doesn’t agree with them. I don’t know if its an overt strategy or policy of NZ Council, but it’s certainly a policy of about 3-4 core MPs, and there may even be a a rogue one in there who can’t help themselves.

It’s not beyond fixing, but the methods to fix it might be quite challenging.

I have the evidence, as do others. It exists, and if the behaviour doesn’t stop, it may just come out.

Most people who’ve hung around the Labour Party know who I am. But for the record, my name is Peter Wilson, I was a former party member, LEC member, Otago University youth branch founder and president, Otago/Southland Labour regional council chairman for three years. I’ve chaired list conferences, fought on four campaign committees, including two as campaign manager in tough tory blue country. I have also worked in paid employment for a number of MPs, including the MP in question today.

You are free to believe whatever you like, that’s one of the privileges of living in a country that values religious freedom.

(this replaced an initial comment)

I pulled that last comment on reflection actually, I had already received cease and desist messages privately. I don’t have the time for a legal battle, and I know that the people involved might push it that far. There are other ways of handling it.

This is not a good look for Labour, the party seems to be seriously dysfunctional.