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Jack is really a storyteller, international explorer, and humanitarian and everything else rolls out from there. As a writer, its what he does.  As a trial lawyer and trial skills teacher aroud the world, its his most important tool. As a former CIA officer, the only way to truly motivate people is to connect and to tell them a story that they can feel viscerally.  As a media analyst, what better way to make a point.  In the end, he tries to captivate his audience about the world and its people as much as he himself is captivated.

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Entries in trump (114)

Thursday
Jul122018

Could President Trump Really "Go It Alone" Regarding NATO?

I've never seen anything like it.  For almost 70 years now, the U.S. and its NATO allies have been the closest  when it comes to . . . almost everything.  This was true when there were only 12 members up until now when there are 29. This has also been true regardless of whether we were talking about a Republican or a Democrat President.  All of that has changed under Donald Trump.

Trump seems to see NATO through the lens of a balance sheet, a ledger.  The problem is that is about far more than so called dues (which they aren't) or trade (which it also isn't).  This is a defense commitment that has been in place since 1949 and stands as one of the fundamental principles of collective security.  For instance, after 9/11 when the U.S. was attacked, they went to NATO and NATO stood firmly with the U.S. and went into Afghanistan.  This was critical because the U.S. was arguing that this was not a U.S. invasion but the entire world standing up to tyranny.  This would have been impossible without the support of NATO.  Trump does not seem to understand this in anyway.

I appear on Iran's Press TV to discuss the NATO summit, President Trump's reponse, the history of NATO and its relevancy.  This is going to be interesting.

Tuesday
Jul102018

The White House Sells Their Supreme Court Nominee to a Split Audience

Last night President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice replacing Justice Kennedy who retired after 40 years on the bench. Kavanaugh has received the Federalist Society's stamp of approval.  This says something as this is one of the most conservative legal organizations in the United States. However, the Administration is absolutely not stopping there.  They have enlisted more than a thousand interest groups to provide a broad support for Kavanaugh, arguing that he is mainstream.  

The problem, of course, is that Kavanaugh is anything but mainstream.  He is conservative and has a conservative bent to the Constitution and the law. This is significant in that it likely could provide the tipping point for the Court for the next 30 plus years. Some are cheering this while others are wringing their hands.  

Many have argued that there was no difference between Clinton and Trump during the last election cycle. Well, I think I can say this with some confidence, none of those people are speaking out right now and its pretty clear that they were and are fundamentally wrong.  This nomination is exactly what Trump said he was going to do.  And boy is he doing it with a gusto.

I appear on AM 950 in Minneapolis with Matt McNeill on July 10th to talk about what it means. 

Monday
Jul092018

Trump Nominates Conservative Kavanaugh to Supremes

Donald Trump certainly followed through with his campaign promise to nominate conservative judges to the U.S. Supreme Court.  First Gorsuch and now DC Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  Of course, Kavanaugh is a lot more than just a judge.  He learned at the knee of Special Prosecutor Ken Starr and recommended impeachment of Bill Clinton. An interesting twist on this was that subsequently, he changed his mind and said that sitting Presidents shouldn't have to face not only civil lawsuits while in the Oval Office but also criminal investigations. This is obviously significant as President Trump is facing a criminal investigation from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. 

This promises to be one hell of a fight. The darling of the right Kavanugh will likely be confirmed as he only needs a simple majority of the Senate and the Republicans have 51. The question will be the impact upon the court in the long term but also the impact upon the midterms in the short term. Strap in.

I will appear on Press TV Iran on July 9th to talk about the U.S. Supreme Court and the President's nomination and what comes next.

Monday
Jul022018

What Happens If Trump's Fixer Flips?

He called himself the Fixer. He called himself the Bulldog. He said he would take a bullet for the man.  Of course, I'm talking about Michael Cohen and the man he was talking about was Donald Trump.  After working for Trump for many years as his lawyer and fixer/bull dog, flack jacket, Michael Cohen seems to be changing his tune and singing a very new song.

Michael Cohen says that his first loyaly is absolutely not to the President but rather to his wife and children. He also is making it clear that he will not be a punching bad for any defense team. This seems to be as punch directly at his former client and the current President.  

Cohen sat down with ABC News for a 45 minute interview to air he new approach and to talk about his testimony before the House and the Senate and about his new defense attorney.  This is all very significant as he is clearly separating himself from the President and his defense team.  It is now very clearly every man for himself.

As Bob Mueller sits back and continues his work, he is clearly interested in Mr. Cohen and Mr. Cohen has yet to sit sown with Mr. Mueller.  However, rest assured, it is coming.

I appear on Voice of America International on July 2nd to talk about what this all means and what may be coming next.  

Saturday
Jun302018

Justice Sotomayor Made Me Proud to be an American This Week

It was the summer of 2009 and she sat at a small table in Washington DC before a large group of Senators, all towering above her quite purposely.  As I watched, they all seemed to be there for the same reason, to mug for the cameras and to make themselves look good, smart, capable, competent, angry, whatever.

Some supported her confirmation, others absolutely didn't and it was clear that no matter what she said, no matter what she did, it really wouldn't make much difference.  The woman in a red blazer was Judge Sonia Sotomayor and she had been nominated in May of that year by President Obama to be the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  And one point was clear, she was the smartest person in the room that day and really made most, if not all, of the Senators seem like lightweights  

As a reporter, I sat in that room and wrote my stories and shot video and took still shots. But most importantly, I was stunned by her intellectual acumen and also her empathy and understanding. Above is a photo I shot that day that I never published. Its not particularly well framed or interesting, some of the people are sleeping including her aged mother sitting behind her.  However, Sotomayor was on fire and it caught a moment for me.

Fast forward nine years, and I continue to be stunned by this Supreme Court Justice.  This week, the Supremes upheld the President's travel ban. Lets be clear. This was a purposeful ban on Muslims. How did I know? Because I believe the President's words. He said it. I am confident he meant it and his supporters loved it. Of course, the President's people subsequently layered over those words with pretexts like "national security." Its a phrase that camouflages all sorts of sins. As a former CIA officer, I can say that with confidence.

In the end, I guess i wasn't surprised at the Court's decision based upon the makeup of the Court itself. However, what did surprise me was Sotomayor's blistering, yes I said blistering, dissent. She compared the majority's decision and logic to Korematsu v U.S.  This is the Japanese Internment camp case that was justified based upon fear of a group and then wrapped inside the banner of national security.  This was exactly Sotomayor's point.

She put it far better than I could. "As here, the exclusion order was rooted in dangerous stereotypes about a particular group's supposed inability to assimilate and desire to harm the United States." So, the racist fear of seventy years ago is the same racist fear applied today and the same arguments of national security aren't any better now than they were then.  Damn . . . 

This blistering attack even drove Chief Justice Roberts, the author of the majority opinion, to finally denounce Korematsu and call it bad history and bad law.  Let's say simply, he can denounce it from here to the end of time but he absolutely affirmed the logic with his decision.  Regardless, Sotomayor along with Justice Ginsberg were having none of it.

The final line of her opinion says it all, "I dissent," not "I respectfully dissent" which is the common practice. Your Honor, Justice Sotomayor, I was stunned 9 years ago.  I am even more stunned now. As a former CIA officer, as a former journalist and as a lawyer who has been in and out of courtrooms for decades, I say this simply but definitively, you made me proud to be an American this week.  

Thank you.  

Sunday
Jun032018

[Voice of America Intl. Edition] June 3rd: Trump Thinks He Can Pardon Himself

I appear on Voice of America International Edition on June 3rd.  So exactly how much power does the President have? According to Rudy Guiliani, the President believes that he has the right to pardon himself of obstruction, even if he obstructed Robert Mueller's investigation into possible Trump wrong doing involving the Russians.  You heard me, he thinks he can pardon himself.  So, this idea of checks and balances and three legs of a stool is nothing but trite garbage according to the President. His ability to obstruct any wrongdoing, any wrongdoing, is apparently unlimited.

Yeah, ok, this should be interesting considering that there has never been a U.S. courtroom that has agreed with the President on this issue. Further, it strikes me as important to consider any President he actually makes this argument without busting out laughing. 

This should be fun.

Saturday
Jun022018

[MSNBC] June 2nd: Trump Argues He Can't Be Prosecuted

I appear on MSNBC on June 2nd. An internal memo was just leaked regarding the White House response to the Russian Investigation regarding Trump. There are many issues vexing the President but the two primary ones that are catching his attention is Mueller's efforts to seek an interview with the President whether he can force it through a subpoena. The other is whether the President can even be prosecuted for obstruction. 

In an extraordinary argument, the President through his lawyers claims that the President is immune from prosecution for obstruction. In other words, he is simply above the law. President Nixon made the same argument but its been almost 50 years since that failed argument was rolled out.  It didn't work then.  Its seem unlikely to work now. 

This is going to be fun.

Thursday
May242018

[I24 International News] May 24th: Trump's "Witch Hunt" Has 17 Indictments and 5 Convictions.  

Monday
May212018

[Voice of America Intl. Edition] May 20th: Trump Goes on the Offensive

I appear on Voice of America International Edition with Lori Lundin on May 20th.  The New York Times broke another story about an additional meeting that Donald Trump Jr. conducted with representatives from United Arab Emerites and Saudi Arabia as well as a private Israeli citizen and also Eric Prince, the founder of Blackwater and the brother of Secretary DeVos. The problem is the story continues to shift back and forth and is getting more and more complicated. At the same time, another story broke that the FBI may have had an informant inside the Trump campaign. As a result, Trump apparently lost it in the White House and is demanding action from the FBI claiming the FBI is corrupt and out to get him.  While he has the right to demand some action, there are limits although what those limits are.  

Had enough yet?  Well, I will appear just to try and keep people up to date.