Showing posts with label Trump. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trump. Show all posts

July 5, 2020

Would Trump Resign as The Nation Gets Deeper into Coronavirus Without Help from Him?

There is been a lot of talk about The Donald quitting as things get worse for the nation and he decides to watch his hands from it all. The problem with this assumption or idea is that if you know Donald, he likes to take chances and he likes to push ahead until the whole building collapses in front of him like the Casinos in Las Vegas. Rich Lowry from Politico agrees with my statement:

After he’s repeatedly survived the unsurvivable, we are supposed to believe that President Donald Trump might quit the presidential race before it truly begins after a spate of negative polling.

This is the latest chatter among (unnamed) Republicans, according to a widely circulated Fox News report and to cable-news talking heads. 

Trump is a volatile figure and things could get weird if he’s far behind in the final weeks of the campaign. But the idea that he is going to fall on his sword because the conventional wisdom has turned sharply against his chances runs starkly counter to his predilections and past actions.

Good luck convincing Trump he’s going to lose after he survived the “Access Hollywood” tape that had GOP officeholders deserting him in droves and after he prevailed on an election night when many people closest to him and most invested in his victory thought he was sure to go down to defeat.

There’s nothing any political consultant, pollster or adviser can tell him about his dire political condition that he hasn’t heard, and dismissed, before.

If the polling looks bad for him now, Hillary Clinton had sizable leads in 2016, too.

Plus, there’s no reason for Trump to trust the polls, especially the state polls, when many of them were wrong in 2016 and the methodological issues—the over-sampling of college-educated voters—haven’t been resolved.

The assumption behind the Trump-might-drop-out chatter is that the president would want to avoid the psychological sting of a loss, but he’s already signaled how he’ll handle a defeat—by saying he was robbed.

With this rationalization in his back pocket, there’s no reason for Trump to forgo any chance whatever of remaining the most talked-about man on the planet for the next four years by dropping out based on early summer polling. 

The anonymous Republicans chattering about this scenario surely are wish-casting and assume some other—any other—GOP presidential candidate would be better for the party’s chances. This, too, is doubtful.

How would the great drop-and-switch even work? The party would be implicitly conceding that the incumbent Republican president was such a disaster that he couldn’t even run for a second term—and then turn around and ask voters for four more years of yet another Republican president.

One of the points of this exercise would be to repudiate Trump, but how could the party plausibly do that after loyally and enthusiastically backing him for four years? Who would be a turn-the-page candidate? The natural successor would be Vice President Mike Pence, but he’s obviously more associated with Trump than any other figure in the party besides the president’s direct relatives.

How about a Trump critic, say, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse? But such a choice would be whiplash-inducing change of direction for a party led the moment before by Trump.

The president’s base wouldn’t go away even if Trump said he wasn’t running again, and its feelings would have to be taken into account—not to mention that Trump loyalists would make up a disproportionate share of Republican convention delegates, who would presumably make the choice of a new candidate.

At a time of great populist passion in the GOP, deciding on a presidential candidate without the direct say of any voters would be fraught with peril, to say the least—and more likely to produce a civil war than comity.

Then, there’s the question of Trump himself. Unless the Trump-stepping-aside scenario becomes even more implausible and involves him resigning the presidency and getting dropped off by Marine One at a monastery to begin a four-month silent retreat, he’s not going to quietly abide some other Republican soaking up all the public attention that comes with being one of two people who will be the next president of the United States. 

Headlines from around the nation:

*Duckworth to hold up confirmations to ensure impeachment witness Vindman's promotion isn't blocked
*Tucker Carlson 2024? The GOP is buzzing
*Conservative lawmaker demands White House disband coronavirus task force
*The week that shook the Trump campaign
*Trump surrogate Herman Cain hospitalized with coronavirus weeks after attending Tulsa rally
Advertisement (The day before he called for ending face masks. I Wonder what he thinks now?

Perhaps Joe Biden indeed has a durable 10-point lead, in which case there’s nothing the GOP can do to avoid a terrible drubbing. If Biden is that strong, some emergency replacement Republican candidate—hastily chosen amid a political panic—isn’t going to win, either.

It’s more likely, though, that the race will naturally tighten and Trump will be behind, but within range and have a puncher’s chance.

The past three months have been dreadful for the president and nothing he’s used against Biden has worked, but campaigning is an iterative process—if one tack doesn’t work, it’s on to the next one, until something gets traction.

Everything we know about Trump says he’ll keep at this with relish, and that there’s no way he quits without even trying to win the ultimate vindication for any president, and the ultimate repudiation of his critics.


Rich Lowry is editor of National Review and a contributing editor with Politico Magazine.

June 29, 2020

Trump Struggles to Adapt to Culture Wars But They Have Shifted Away


Nearly a month after the killing of George Floyd while in police custody and the launch of massive protests against police brutality across the country, President Trump was asked what part of his response would he have handled differently. 

"I think that tone is a very important thing and I try to have a very good tone, a very moderate tone, a very sympathetic — in some cases — tone, but it's a very important tone," Trump said.

Though when pressed on what he would change, the president said, "I would say if I could, I would do tone."

No modern president has been as aggressive a culture warrior as Donald Trump. 

He announced his candidacy by accusing Mexican immigrants of being rapists. He criticized Black athletes who knelt during the national anthem. He championed police officers but promoted rough policing, telling law enforcement officers in a 2017 speech, "please don't be too nice" when making an arrest. Recently, he announced over Twitter that he would never consider removing the name of Confederate generals from military bases.

Trump has also fixated on the historic phrase "law and order."

"I will fight to protect you — I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters," Trump said in the Rose Garden on June 1, as law enforcement began firing pepper spray on peaceful protesters in nearby Lafayette Park. 

"Our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa and others," Trump said. 

Culture wars have been part of American politics for decades. Hot-button issues like immigration, family values and respect for the American flag can get a more powerful reaction from voters than dry debates over taxes or Medicare. 

But at a time when the country continues to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, an economic recession and, above all, heightened levels of racial unrest, the culture wars are changing, and Trump, who has always relished a fight over white identity and culture is struggling to adjust.

Many of Trump's culture war allies are defecting — NASCAR decided to ban the Confederate flag and the NFL apologized for punishing its athletes who knelt to protest police brutality. 

According to David Axelrod, a Democratic strategist and former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, the most notable rift came when military leaders, whom Trump likes to call " my generals," broke with him. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said they would not only consider renamingmilitary bases but also rejected Trump's threat to use the U.S. military against protesters. 

"That was a seminal, I think, development in this story," Axelrod said, who is also a CNN senior political commentator and host of the Axe Files and Hacks on Tappodcasts.

Axelrod added that Trump also faced opposition from retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis, his former defense secretary, and several prominent military leaders who criticized his decision to take a photo in front of St. John's Church following the removal of protesters on June 1.

"Trump has so tried to cleave himself to the military and claim the military as his own. And what the military was saying there is that 'No. We're not yours. We belong to the Constitution. We have principles and rules and norms and laws that we're going to follow.' And that was an incredible rebuke for him." Axelrod said.

Despite a visible push away from Trump on many of the culture war issues, not every part of the conservative coalition is ready to call a truce. There has even been a backlash to the new positions of institutions like the NFL.

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says kneeling athletes will still be a cultural flashpoint and disagrees with the NFL's decision. 

"Refusing to stand for the national anthem is an insult to America. It's not protesting racism. It's protesting the United States of America, and that's what the divide is going to become. If you want to be anti-American, you've got a party eager to be with you," Gingrich said.

"I can tell you I probably won't watch the NFL this year, and I'm a big Green Bay fan," he said.

Gingrich, an experienced culture warrior in his own right, argues that Trump will be able to find new issues to push as his Democratic opponents find new ways to overreach. And that's why he believes the culture wars are not over.

"The nice thing in my entire career about dealing with the left is they can't contain themselves," Gingrich said, adding, "so they go from very legitimate demand to reform the police, to defund the police because they just can't help themselves."

Specific culture war issues can also come and go. In 2004, Republican strategist Karl Rove harnessed the backlash to gay marriage during President George W. Bush's 2004 campaign to help get him reelected. Although, less than a decade later, the same issue faded following the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage in 2015.

Now, Rove says the same thing is happening, especially following the recent Supreme Court ruling that protects LGBTQ people against workplace discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 

"They'll be some concern in some quarters about the latest decision by the court. But, yeah, that's the interesting thing about Supreme Court decisions. Not always, but many times, they tend to sort of diminish the controversy," Rove said.

Another more fundamental reason why culture wars are shifting is that most modern cultural battles are racial. 

Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons says that white voters have started to think differently in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

"The video of Black men being killed on television is much like the 1950s and '60s when Martin Luther King had even children marching in Alabama, and being attacked by fire hoses and dogs. That kind of thing really does speak to the morality that I think most Americans hold," Simmons said.

Simmons, who also hosts #ThisisFYI on Instagram, says the events of the past month have changed how many Americans respond to and deal with acts of racism and, adding, "They can't just sit by quietly and let it happen."

"It's raised the stakes on these questions of racial harmony and our ability to get past our history," Simmons said, adding, "and what it seems like — as afraid as people may be of rioters and looters — they may be more afraid of a president who is not against racism and who's not trying to bring the country together."

Trump was originally set to hold his first campaign rally since the COVID-19 pandemic on June 19 in Tulsa, Okla. After receiving criticism for scheduling the event on the holiday Juneteenth, in a city that experienced a racist massacre of black people in June 1921, Trump changed the date to June 20. 

"Certainly in the television era, it's the first time that we've had a president who's been so willing to embrace a racially exclusive perspective on American politics, and that may be turning the tide against him," Simmons added.

June 27, 2020

Mary Trump Stands Up To Unkie Trump and a Surrogate Court in NY Backs Her Up

Trumps LOSE attempt to stop niece Mary releasing tell-all book ...
 Mary Trump, Niece of Donald

New York (CNN Business)A judge on Thursday dismissed an attempt by President Trump's younger brother to block the publication of a forthcoming unflattering tell-all book by Mary L. Trump, the President's niece.
Judge Peter J. Kelly of the Queens County Surrogate Court in New York, where a motion to obtain a temporary restraining order was filed Tuesday by Robert S. Trump, dismissed the case citing a lack of jurisdiction.
Ted Boutrous, the renowned First Amendment attorney who represented Mary Trump, and who has also represented CNN in the past, lauded the court's decision in a statement.
"The court has promptly and correctly held that it lacks jurisdiction to grant the Trump family's baseless request to suppress a book of utmost public importance," Boutrous said. "We hope this decision will end the matter."
 "Democracy thrives on the free exchange of ideas," Boutrous added, "and neither this court nor any other has authority to violate the Constitution by imposing a prior restraint on core political speech."
Charles Harder, the attorney representing Robert Trump and who also represents the President, said his client will continue to pursue legal action.
"Robert Trump, Mary Trump and the other family members who settled in 2001, agreed to jurisdiction of future disputes in the Surrogate's Court of Queens County, New York," Harder said in a statement. "This matter therefore was filed in that court."
"Today, the Surrogate's Court ruled that it does not have jurisdiction over the dispute," Harder continued. "Therefore, Robert Trump will proceed with filing a new lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court."
In return, Boutrous commented, "We are ready!" 
The Tuesday filing in the Queens County Surrogate court in New York had argued that Mary Trump's book for Simon & Schuster, which was also listed as a defendant, broke a confidentiality agreement.
The filing said that after the death of Fred Trump, litigation ensued over his will. As part of a settlement, the filing said, a confidentiality provision was agreed upon by all parties, including Mary Trump.
A representative for Simon & Schuster said in a statement that the company was "delighted" with the court's Thursday decision.
"We look forward to publishing Mary L. Trump's TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH," the representative for the company added, "and are confident we will prevail should there be further efforts to stifle this publication."
The Trump administration recently took legal action in an attempt to block the tell-all book of John Bolton, the former national security advisor.
    But a federal judge denied the Department of Justice's motion, writing in his decision that Bolton's book had already been widely distributed and that the court would "not order a nationwide seizure and destruction of a political memoir."
    Harder, the attorney representing Robert Trump, has a history of filing lawsuits against news organizations on behalf of President Trump. The lawsuits have been dismissed by legal experts as public relations stunts with little chance of success in court.

    June 12, 2020

    Chris Wallace from Fox Breaks Trump's Numbers Down for Reelection After His Inflammatory Responses




    When “even your own current Secretary of Defense Mark Esper breaks with you, that’s not a good week,” the Fox News host said on “The View.”

    Fox News host Chris Wallace on Tuesday broke down what he called a “very bad week” for President Donald Trump’s reelection prospects, following days of widespread criticism and plummeting approval ratings of Trump’s leadership during the nationwide unrest sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.

    During an appearance on ABC’s “The View,” Wallace was asked by co-host Sunny Hostin to comment on the president’s tone as protests against racism and police brutality have erupted across the country.

    “Well, I’m not going to talk about it in terms of right or wrong. The president has his base and he has his beliefs, and he’s entitled to them,” Wallace said. “Let me talk about it in terms of politics. I would say that the last week was a very bad week for the president in terms of politics, in terms of his potential reelection prospects.”

    Wallace noted criticisms Trump has faced over the past week from religious and military leaders over his divisive and inflammatory responses to the unrest, including his decision to deploy riot police on protesters in the capital, threats to militarize the government’s nationwide response and move to aggressively clear peaceful demonstrators near the White House so he could get photos taken with a Bible outside a nearby church.

    “When you’re getting called out by the Episcopal bishop of Washington and the archbishop of the Catholic Church of Washington, when you’re getting called out by everybody from [former Secretary of Defense] Jim Mattis to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen, and even your own current Secretary of Defense [Mark] Esper breaks with you, that’s not a good week,” Wallace said.
    “He had some good news on the economy, but clearly, and you see there’s a new poll in The Washington Post today that indicates by an almost 2 to 1 margin people don’t think the president has handled the last week properly, and his approval ratings and his standing in the polls has dropped,” Wallace added.

    Numbers released by several national polls over the past week have indicated growing disapproval of Trump’s leadership, disagreement with his handling of the protests and a widening lead for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

    Wallace concluded: “So you can argue as to whether he’s right or wrong, but politically, I think it’s been a bad week.” 

    June 7, 2020

    Social Media Interactions on Trump and Topics Related to Murder of George Floyd

     Stories about President Trump's photo op at St. John's church after peaceful protesters were forcefully cleared from the area averaged the most online attention of any issue about the president this week.  Why it matters: Trump's force-over-compassion approach to the demonstrators protesting the murder of George Floyd had Republican allies backpedaling to keep a distance — and led to a wave of condemnations that got plenty of online traction on their own. 
    Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios/ Story by Neal Rothschild 
     The blowback against Trump was strong and swift all week:
    While the photo op generated the most average interactions, the fallout after Twitter placed a warning label on Trump's "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" tweet for glorifying violence generated the most total interactions, according to NewsWhip data.
    • That's largely due to the volume of stories on the topic. There were 7x as many items written about Trump and Twitter and other social media platforms as there were about the stroll to St. John's.
    Between the lines: Trump seemingly backed himself into a corner all week long, but gave some room for his Republican allies to stand with him in his fight against Twitter. 
    • Trump and his allies accused Twitter of overreaching and asked why similar measures weren't taken against leaders of authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the world.
    • He then signed an executive order aiming to shield social media companies from liability for content users post to their platforms.
    • But in private, allies warned Trump that the tweet could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically, Axios' Jonathan Swan reported.
    The bottom line: Trump's already sliding political standing does not appear to be improving. 67% think Trump has mostly increased racial tensions in the country, according to a new NPR/PBS/Marist poll.

    May 17, 2020

    Hackers Want $42 Million From Trump to Keep His S*... Secret

            Hackers Demanded $42 Million Otherwise will release Donald Trump ...

    President Donald Trump may have another adversary to beat to win November’s election besides Joe Biden: a group of hackers.
    The anonymous hackers this week crippled the computer systems of high-profile celebrity law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks claiming to have stolen 756GB of highly-confidential documents including contracts and personal emails from the firm’s client list, which includes Madonna, Drake, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Robert De Niro, U2 and Bruce Springsteen.
     The hackers initially demanded $21 million from the law firm to stop the documents becoming public, posting a screenshot of a contract for Madonna's World Tour 2019-20 complete with signatures from an employee and concert company Live Nation.
    But on Thursday, they doubled their ransom demand claiming that they also had information on the U.S. president. 
    “The ransom is now $42,000,000,” the hackers said on their dark web site, seen by VICE News “The next person we’ll be publishing is Donald Trump. There’s an election going on, and we found a ton of dirty laundry on time.”
    The hackers made a direct plea to Trump, urging him to get the attorneys to pay up.
    “Mr. Trump if you want to stay president, poke a sharp stick at the guys, otherwise, you may forget this ambition forever. And to you voters, we can let you know that after such a publication, you certainly don’t want to see him as president” 
    The hackers have demanded payment of the $42 million within a week, and issued a warning to celebrity lawyer Allen Grubman: “Grubman, we will destroy your company down to the ground if we don’t see the money.”
    Trump is not known to be a client of Grubman’s firm, nor is any of his companies, so it is unclear what — if any — “dirty laundry” the hackers may have on him.
    The firm confirmed the doubling of the ransom demand on Thursday, labeling the attackers “foreign cyberterrorists” and adding that its clients had so far been very supportive.  
    “The leaking of our clients’ documents is a despicable and illegal attack by these foreign cyberterrorists who make their living attempting to extort high-profile U.S. companies, government entities, entertainers, politicians, and others,” the company said in a statement.

    Who’s behind the attack?

    The ransomware being used in this attack is known as Revil or Sodinokibi. Like all ransomware, once the malicious software is downloaded onto a victim’s network, it quickly encrypts all files (including back-up files) and renders the computer system unusable unless you pay the ransom. 
    Revil was the ransomware used in an attack on the foreign exchange company Travelex earlier this year. 
    The ransomware first emerged last April and has grown in popularity to become one of the most widely used weapons among hackers, targeting everything from businesses to hospitals and even cities.
    In August last year, the authors of Revil advertised on an underground Russian hacking forum for a select group of hackers to come on board as affiliates and distribute the ransomware. Those who came on board kept 60% of the ransom they received while kicking the rest back up to the authors.
    The move means that any one of those approved to distribute the ransomware could be behind the attack on Grubman’s firm.
    While the identity of the ransomware authors is not known, there are clues to where they are located: in the dark web ad, the authors said it was forbidden to use the code against targets inside Russia.  
    The authors have also been linked to the Russian gang behind GandCrab, another hugely popular piece of ransomware. Analysis of the code shows Revil shared a significant amount of overlap with GandCrab, the authors of which reportedly retired last May after earning $2 billion.
    “It has long been suspected that this group operates within Russia’s locus of control,” Allan Liska a ransomware expert at security intelligence firm Recorded Future told VICE News. “The Kremlin generally turns a blind eye to these activities, as long as the threat actors don’t target Russian citizens, however going after an ally of Russia may force Russian cyber security forces to turn their attention to the Revil team as well.”

    Should the victims pay up?

    Ransomware demands are typically much smaller than the $42 million being demanded by the hackers in this case. But with hundreds of A-list celebrities on its client list, there is plenty of incentive for Grubman’s law firm to pay up.
    But even if it does, there is no guarantee the trove of personal documents won’t be published anyway.
    “Paying the ransom does not guarantee that the attackers will not do anything with the data,” Hugo van den Toorn, manager of offensive security at Outpost24, told VICE News. “As a matter of fact, the worst has already happened; the company’s reputation has been impacted. Paying and dealing with the threat actors might, therefore, be the absolute last resort.”  
    And that appears to be the case here.
    “[Grubman’s] view is, if he paid, the hackers might release the documents anyway,” a source at the law firm told Page Six. “Plus the FBI has stated this hack is considered an act of international terrorism, and we don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

    February 1, 2020

    The Monica's Dress DNA is a Repeating Saga and Her Name is E.Jean Carroll, The President is Trump

    They believe that by Getting Trump's DNA would prove the sexual assault since his DNA Might be on the dress. How would 'Mr. nothing sticks to me' do to change his DNA?
     E.Jean Carrol

    Lawyers for advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who’s accused President Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s, want him to hand over a genetic sample in an effort to determine whether his DNA is on a dress she wore during the alleged assault.
    On Thursday, Carroll’s attorneys served notice to a Trump lawyer, asking him to submit a sample for "analysis and comparison against unidentified male DNA present on the dress,” the Associated Press reported. Carroll’s team wants Trump to submit the sample on March 2, in Washington, D.C. Carroll, a longtime columnist for “Elle” magazine, went public with her allegation last June in a cover story for New York Magazine. She alleged that Trump attacked her in a dressing room of the Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman. 
    She wrote that Trump pushed down her tights and, “forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me.”
    Trump denied the allegation and said he’d never even met Carroll (though there is a photo of the two speaking at a party in the ‘80s). He accused her of making up the assault in order to sell books.
    "She's not my type," added the president, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 20 women.
    In November, Carroll sued Trump for defamation. Her attorney is Robbie Kaplan, who co-founded the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.
    The Associated Press has asked a Trump attorney for comment. 
    Writer E. Jean Carroll Is Suing Trump for Saying She Lied about Him Sexually Assaulting Her

    “I am filing this on behalf of every woman who has ever been harassed, assaulted, silenced, or spoken up only to be shamed, fired, ridiculed and belittled,” Carroll said in a statement.
    Cover: E. Jean Carroll at her home in Warwick, New York. Carroll claims that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s. Trump denies knowing Carroll. (Photo by Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

    January 30, 2020

    "Pot Makes You Dumb" by Donald Trump (Now We Know How it Happened)

                                Image result for trump on pot"

    WASHINGTON — President Trump said smoking weed makes people “lose IQ points” and get into accidents. 
    And he's unsure whether the wave of marijuana legalization sweeping the country is “a good thing or a bad thing,” according to the leaked recording of a private dinner Trump held in 2018
    But Trump’s son Don Jr. piped up at that same dinner to assure the president that weed is less dangerous than booze.  “Alcohol does much more damage,” Don Jr. said. “You don’t see people beating their wives on marijuana. It’s just different.”

     Trump’s skepticism about cannabis emerged on a recording of a donor dinner last April, released over the weekend by Lev Parnas, an ex-associate of Trump’s private attorney Rudy Giuliani. Parnas, a Soviet-born businessman, has become a central figure in Trump’s ongoing impeachment drama after helping Giuliani’s search for damaging information about former vice president Joe Biden in Ukraine.  Parnas split dramatically from Trump, however, and is now releasing a trove of records that provide a revealing glimpse into Trump’s private, inner world — including, most recently, a conversation about regulating the marijuana industry with a roomful of deep-pocketed donors at the dinner on April 30, 2018.
    The recording of the intimate, jovial affair presents a portrait of President Trump discussing national cannabis policy with Parnas and his associate Igor Fruman — now facing serious criminal charges over their alleged attempts to use campaign contributions to obtain marijuana business licenses on behalf of a still-unnamed wealthy Russian investor, according to the federal indictment against them. 
    A month after the April 2018 dinner, Parnas and Fruman donated $325,000 to a Trump-supporting super PAC, America First Action, through a company they established to do business in the energy sector, called Global Energy Producers, although the indictment does not tie that donation directly to any potential marijuana business interests.  Parnas and Fruman were arrested in October and charged by federal prosecutors with campaign finance violations over the contributions. Both men have pleaded not guilty. 

    ‘It does cause an IQ problem’

    The video of the dinner, which was reportedly made by Fruman, opens with the image of Trump and Don Jr. posing for photographs before approaching a dining table bedecked with flowers. The camera was then apparently placed on the table facing the ceiling, although the audio continues and much of the subsequent conversation can be heard clearly, including when Parnas kicks off a conversation about weed.
    Midway through the dinner, Parnas asks Trump about one of the legal marijuana industry’s major stumbling blocks: access to banks. Legal weed operators continue to face trouble performing basic banking operations because marijuana is still a controlled substance at the federal level despite being legal in several states. 
    “Mr. President,” Parnas says, “have you thought about allowing banking in some of these states that allow cannabis?” 
    Trump seems confused at first. 
    “You’re talking about marijuana, right?” Trump asks. “Why? You can’t do banking there?” 
    Then Trump turns skeptical about weed. 
    “I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Trump says. “Do you think the whole marijuana thing is a good thing?”
    Parnas tells Trump that legal cannabis represents a “tremendous movement,” and presents marijuana as a potential vote-getting issue among millennials for Republicans in the 2018 congressional midterms.  
    Legal marijuana is “the future, no matter how you look at it,” Parnas says. 
    Trump remains unmoved.
    “In Colorado, they have more accidents,” Trump says. “It does cause an IQ problem. You lose IQ points.” 
    Then, Don Jr. pipes up to praise the virtues of cannabis versus booze.
    “Between that and alcohol, as far as I’m concerned, alcohol does much more damage,” Don Jr. says. 
    Parnas suggests Trump establish a “presidential committee on cannabis” to advise him on the issue. The panel could include such high-profile figures as former GOP House Speaker John Boehner, who’s become a marijuana industry lobbyist following his retirement from Congress, Parnas says.
    The conversation eventually moves on without Trump making any promises or resolving his concerns — which have been the subject of dueling and inconclusive studies. 
    Trump’s remarks about the causal relationship between weed and IQ are disputed by one of his own governmental agencies, the National Institute of Drug Abuse. 
    “Recent results from two prospective longitudinal twin studies did not support a causal relationship between marijuana use and IQ loss,” NIDA says on its website. “No predictable difference was found between twins when one used marijuana and one did not.” 
    The agency does note, however, that a New Zealand study found that persistent marijuana use in adolescence was associated with lower test scores in middle age. 

    But NIDA noted that “observed IQ declines, at least across adolescence, may be caused by shared familial factors (e.g., genetics, family environment), not by marijuana use itself.” Researchers’ ability to draw definitive conclusions about the question is “limited” because in the real world, “study participants use multiple substances.” 

    There’s mixed research about Trump’s other claim, too, tying marijuana to accidents. Back-and-forth studies have turned up evidence both for and against that linkage.
    A pair of studies released in late 2018 found an increase of up to 6 percent in highway crashes in four states where recreational marijuana is allowed. But another study from the American Journal of Public Health found that road accident deaths in Colorado and Washington state were the same as in states that still forbid pot smoking. 
    “Three years after recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash-fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization,” the study authors wrote
    Cover: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event in the Oval Office announcing guidance on constitutional prayer in public schools on January 16, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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