Teri Kanefield @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (U.C. Berkeley). I tweet about the law, books, politics, and history. All my threads are here as blog entries: t.co/vdLoEAoLvv Feb. 09, 2019 3 min read

(Thread) AMI, the Trump-GOP, and all that lawbreaking

The Bezos-AMI debacle is part of a larger pattern of silencing witnesses and burying evidence, which in turn is part of a movement to undermine rule of law.

First, the Bezos-AMI story in a nutshell:

1/ AMI (National Inquirer) published highly embarrassing texts stolen from Bezos.

Trump inserted himself into the story by gloating in a Tweet (attached)

Bezos hinted that the WaPo’s “unrelenting coverage” of Khashoggi’s murder prompted AMI’s attack.
 https://medium.com/@jeffreypbezos/no-thank-you-mr-pecker-146e3922310f 

2/ Bezos hired investigators to find out how AMI got his texts.

AMI then threatened Bezos that if he didn’t call off the investigation into how they got his texts, they'd publish sexual explicit photos of him.

Yes, this is extortion and a crime (known as blackmail).

3/ Bezos responded by publishing AMI’s extortion threats. He also hinted that his property was stolen by a “government agency.”

Bezos’s astonishing post is here:
 https://medium.com/@jeffreypbezos/no-thank-you-mr-pecker-146e3922310f 
He points out that most people can't withstand this kind of extortion.

4/ Which agency? The obvious guess would be a Saudi agency or Saudi ally.  https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/08/politics/bezos-saudi-trump-ami/index.html 
AMI, after all, has cultivated financial ties to Saudi prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS)  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/29/business/media/david-pecker-trump-saudi-arabia.html?module=inline 
and publishes blatantly pro-MBS propaganda.
 https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-publisher-pal-puts-saudi-propaganda-magazine-in-us-supermarkets .

5/Pecker, owner of AMI and personal friend of Trump’s, also publishes pro-Trump propaganda. See:
This is not a coincidence.

The Saudis drew a red line against anyone associating them with Khashoggi’s killers. I wonder why (sarcasm)

6/ This is first of all a story about suppressing whatever truth the WaPo was pursuing.

Suppressing truth should sound familiar: Trump life presents a pattern of suppressing truth. For example, his nondisclosure agreements. For more on that, see:

7/ To take another example, Trump presented himself as a self-made billionaire when in fact, he inherited millions, lost them in bad business deals, and earned his fortune through shady real estate deals and cheating.

See:  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/02/us/politics/donald-trump-tax-schemes-fred-trump.html 
And:

8/ The Steele dossier alleges that Trump “paid bribes and engaged in sexual activities [in Russia] but key witnesses silenced and evidence hard to obtain.” 👇

We’ve also seen AMI joining with Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to silence witnesses against Trump.

9/ Remember Trump and Cohen’s “catch and kill” arrangement with AMI? Refresher👇


What’s up with all the suppressing of truth?

From @TimothyDSnyder and @jasonintrator, a feature of fascist movements is that it begins by torpedoing factuality.

10/ Torpedoing truth is how the fascist leader creates a Cult of Leadership:

“I alone have the answers” and “I alone can save the nation” and “my instincts are better than the logic used by elites.”

For more on how this torpedoing of truth happens, see:

11/ It is therefore essential for fascist leaders to silence and control independent journalists.

Putin did this partly by criminalizing libel.  https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/16/russia-criminal-libel-law-blow-free-expression 

Criminalizing libel is a way for an autocrat to use law enforcement to silence annoying journalists.

12/ Because, of course, the autocrat, or Dear Leader, is the one who decides what is true and what is libel.

Trump—who gets a lot of his ideas from watching Putin—has repeatedly called for the US to “toughen” our libel laws.  https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-trump-libel-20180908-htmlstory.html  I wonder why (sarcasm)

13/ Another way of silencing the truth is what Russia calls “kompromat” and we call blackmail.
 https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/11/politics/what-is-kompromat/index.html 

Here we see an overlap of methods: AMI uses one of Putin’s favorite silencing techniques.

14/ What the Russian Oligarchs, prince Mohammad Bin Salman, AMI, and Trump have in common is they are on a quest to torpedo truth.

(Aside: They’re also all invested in the hydrocarbon industry, which explains denying climate change — a lucrative example of suppressing truth.)

15/ Torpedoing truth is directly related to undermining rule of law.

Without truth or a shared “public sphere” you can't have rule of law. Without a common sphere, the results of investigations and even jury verdicts have no meaning.
 http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756841/obo-9780199756841-0030.xml 

16/ The autocrat simply calls the jury verdict or investigation result “fake” and it all falls apart. If reporters persist in saying otherwise, they're jailed for libel.

The technique is simple: Torpedo factuality and set yourself up as the Dear Leader who alone holds the truth.

17/ For me, the most astonishing aspect of the Trump-GOP is the blatant lawbreaking.

In May, a NYT article commented that crimes are no longer a disqualification for GOP.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/crimes-are-no-longer-a-disqualification-for-republican-candidates/2018/04/30/c64a40ac-4807-11e8-827e-190efaf1f1ee_story.html?utm_term=.729e0246f8d0 

Just look at Roy Moore, and Former NY Congressman Michael Grimm.


You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.



Bookmark

____
Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.