While the press portrayed Hope Hicks’s silence as all-inclusive, in reality she testified at length and in detail about all aspects of Trump’s presidential campaign.
Following the Thursday release of the transcript from Hope Hicks’s testimony before the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee, the media quickly concentrated on the questions Trump’s former communications director refused to answer. But while the press portrayed Hicks’s silence as all-inclusive, in reality Hicks testified at length and in detail about all aspects of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. And that testimony established yet again that the Russia collusion narrative was a hoax.
One theme of Democrats’ questioning of Hicks concerned the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians. Several times Hicks confirmed the lack of contacts between top Trump campaign members and Russia.
“I’m telling you,” Hicks testified, “I wasn’t aware in the campaign of any contacts with Russian officials.” Later, when asked again what, if any, communications and contacts there were between the Trump campaign and Russian or Russian officials, Hicks noted that during the campaign she wasn’t aware of any but later learned of insignificant contacts, such as Jeff Sessions meeting the Russian ambassador at a foreign policy speech.
Hicks further testified that a Russian official’s post-election comment that Russia was “in constant communication or constant contact with members of Trump’s inner circle throughout the campaign,” “was not true.” “I’m not aware of anybody that regularly interacted with Mr. Trump that was a decisionmaker that advised him on a frequent basis that had, ‘regular contacts’ with any Russian officials,” Hicks stressed.
Hicks, who had previously worked for the Trump organization, also testified that she was not aware of any financial ties between Russia and the Trump Organization during the campaign. Nor did Hicks have any knowledge of any “foreign government providing cash or any other thing of value to Mr. Trump during the campaign,” or of any conversations during the campaign about Trump traveling to Russia (other than for the Miss Universe Pageant), or meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Hicks further told the committee that she only “became aware that the Russian government was attempting to interfere in the 2016 elections” when the story hit the press.
Democrats on the committee nonetheless pushed the Russia collusion narrative by attempting to portray an email Hicks received from the editor-in-chief of the Russian internet newspaper Vzglyad as evidence of a Russian conspiracy. Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse flipped to the much-referenced Robert Mueller report to read the special counsel’s finding that “one day earlier the publication’s founder and former Russian parliamentarian Konstantin Rykov had registered two Russian websites, Trump2016.ru and DonaldTrump2016.ru.”
But Neguse’s attempt to implicate the Trump campaign in Russia’s online efforts to interfere in the election failed badly. “I don’t recall receiving the interview request,” Hicks noted, “I received hundreds of interview requests, sometimes daily.” Because Trump had no intention of participating in the interview, Hicks explained, she was not concerned about the identity of the outlet, and hadn’t even realized until after the fact that the email had come from a Russian.
Concerning the WikiLeaks hacks, Hicks made clear that the only discussion the campaign had was “speculation about if there would be more emails or information released, but that was prompted by things in the media,” and it wasn’t with certainty that more leaks would happen, but “with speculation and skepticism.”
“No,” Hicks stressed, Trump did not talk about WikiLeaks or the hack, nor did anybody else in the campaign, other than what was discussed in the public domain. Hicks also testified that during the campaign she had heard nothing about Roger Stone and his supposed relationship with WikiLeaks or its founder Julian Assange, or about WikiLeaks’ “divulgence of information about the emails of Hillary Clinton and Mr. Podesta,” beyond media coverage.
In short, Hicks stated that during the campaign, Trump never indicated that he knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks was responsible for the Democratic National Committee hacks or that he had knowledge that additional information would be released. Hicks also confirmed that before the election she had not been told that anyone at the Trump campaign had been offered information about Hillary Clinton.
The Trump Tower meeting was another focus of committee questions: Hicks told the committee that she did not know about the Trump Tower meeting or Donald Trump Jr.’s emails about that meeting until after Trump was elected president. She had also never heard “any discussion from any Trump Organization employee or Mr. Trump about an ongoing effort to pursue a potential Trump Tower Moscow at that time,” another thread weaved into the Russia collusion hoax.
Hick’s responses during last week’s hearing also provided fresh insight into Trump’s behind-the-scenes response to news of Russian interference. Hicks noted that the campaign only “became aware that the Russian government was attempting to interfere in the 2016 elections” when the story hit the press. The president’s former confidant added that any conversations she was privy to during the campaign concerning Russia interference in the election mirrored what Trump said publicly.
Then, when asked what specifically Trump said during the campaign about public reports that his team was coordinating with Russia, Hicks relayed that Trump called it “nonsense.” Trump believed that the Russia collusion conspiracy “was something that the Clinton campaign had made up to deflect from the information that they viewed as harmful to their candidate, to their campaign,” Hicks explained.
Hicks also testified that she agreed with his assessment and that the “unsubstantiated claims that [the Trump campaign] were coordinating with Russia was an attempt to distract and deflect.” The former communications director added that the Trump campaign obviously knew there was no collusion, but admitted that had she been working instead for the Clinton campaign, she “probably would have taken a similar strategy.” Hicks further noted that, whether the Russia collusion hoax was being peddled by the “Clinton campaign or speculated about in the media,” her discussions with candidate Trump focused on how to respond to the false claims.
Hicks also shared details of her conversation with Trump following his late-July 2016 off-the-cuff remark: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Hicks explained that she informed Trump that “some in the media had taken the expression quite literally, and that they were concerned he was encouraging foreign governments to, you know, locate those emails, and that that was obviously something that the media felt was extremely inappropriate and demanded a response from Mr. Trump and the campaign as to what exactly he meant by that.”
Hicks stated that, “both from Trump’s remark and her discussion with him after,” she understood the comment as a joke. When pushed about what Trump had said, Hicks conveyed that he noted “it was intended as a light-hearted comment.”
In practice, however, Trump took concerns about Russia’s meddling seriously, Hicks explained. For instance, according to Hicks, after the media began questioning Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort, Trump, not realizing Manafort’s close relationship with Richard Gates, asked Gates to keep an eye on Manafort.
Trump questioned some of Manafort’s “past work with other foreign governments, foreign campaigns,” and stressed that “none of that would be appropriate to be ongoing during his service with the Trump campaign,” Hicks elaborated. He also asked Gates to let him know “if anything led him to believe that was ongoing.”
When, following Trump’s election, then-President Barack Obama raised questions about Michael Flynn to Trump, Hicks explained that warning tainted Trump’s view of Flynn going forward. Trump “was a bit bewildered that, you know, of all the things that the two of them could have been discussing,” it was Flynn that came up. (This detail also raises the question of Obama’s motivation and his efforts to sour the president-elect’s relationship with Flynn.)
Hicks’ testimony also negated several other Democratic and media talking points on Russia interference and collusion. While Democrats attempted to portray Trump as unperturbed by Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, Hicks countered, “I think he was concerned, but I think he was simultaneously concerned that folks with a political agenda were going to weaponize that assessment to try to undermine the legitimacy of this election.”
She similarly exposed how the media misrepresented information to further the Trump-Russia collusion narrative, when Rep. Ted Lieu attempted to do the same during the hearing.
“In 2008, Donald Trump, Jr., was quoted as saying ‘In terms of high-end product influx into the U.S., Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,’” Lieu quoted to Hicks. Hicks acknowledged that she had spoken with Trump Jr., about this statement, but only to ensure “the media wasn’t misrepresenting the remark or presenting it in any misleading way.”
“And how was the media mischaracterizing Donald Trump, Jr.’s remarks?” Lieu quizzed. The media “made it seem like there was Russian money coming into the Trump Organization in a way that was inappropriate or somehow sinister,” when Trump Jr., was merely “describing the kinds of clientele that were purchasing luxury apartments, both in New York City, Chicago, and in South Florida.”
“They’re a luxury, globally recognized real estate company,” Hick explained, so “it would be odd if [the Trump Organization] weren’t selling to people just because they’re affiliated with Russia.”
By the end of her nearly eight hours of testimony last week, Hicks obliterated many of the Russia-collusion talking points pushed by Democrats and the media for the last three years, even more expertly than Mueller did in his special counsel report. As one Democrat noted during the hearing, Hicks was “with [Trump] every day,” during both the primary and general election. She would have known had the campaign colluded with Russia.
Yet her testimony made clear there was no Russia strategy, significant contact, collaboration, or collusion, which is why when Hicks was asked whether she thought the president “might be angry about [her] testifying before Congress today,” her ready reply punctuated her significant—but unreported—testimony: “I think the president knows that I would tell the truth, and the truth is there was no collusion. And I’m happy to say that as many times as is necessary today.”
Pennsylvania's Guy Reschenthaler says email from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette confirms 'blatant bias'
Republican congressman Guy Reschenthaler says he was inadvertently given a window into the “blatant bias” in the newsroom at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette through an email sent to his staff by one of the paper’s editors.
A staffer for Reschenthaler, a first-term congressman who represents the Pittsburgh area, received the email from news desk editor Steven Sybert in reply to a press release praising the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule. Sybert, likely not intentionally, responded to the staffer in all capital letters, writing: “VOTE HIM OUT IN 2 YEARS!”
It’s unclear whether Sybert was referring to Trump or Reschenthaler, but the congressman says the email, shared by his office with the Washington Free Beacon, helped confirm his suspicions of bias.
“Such blatant bias in the newsroom of a major regional newspaper is extremely disappointing, but not at all surprising,” Reschenthaler said.
“This email gives the public an unintended window into the biases that influence much of the news reporting in the mainstream media,” he said. “What we have suspected all along, this email has confirmed in their own words.”
Screenshot of email sent by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor
Reschenthaler also said the “incident demonstrates just how out of touch reporters and editors have become with the people and the regions they are covering.”
“The mainstream media need to come down from their ivory tower, talk to real people, review their past reporting, and simply admit they are no longer a neutral arbiter of the facts,” Reschenthaler said.
Sybert did not respond to an inquiry into whether the email was sent to Reschenthaler’s office by mistake and, if so, whether the intended recipient was within the Post-Gazette.
Reschenthaler was easily elected in 2018, defeating his Democratic opponent in the newly drawn 14th Congressional District by more than 15 percentage points. He previously represented the area in the state legislature.
Reschenthaler praised Trump in the press release for “putting a stop to the Obama-era war on coal.”
“I am grateful to President Trump for his continued commitment to Pennsylvania coal jobs and the communities they support,” he said in the statement.
By Matthew Continetti • Washington Free Beacon
I used to laugh every time I heard someone like Elon Musk say that we are living in a Matrix-like simulation. These days, not so much.
Don’t call the funny farm just yet. On the major question of the nature of sense experience, I remain with Aristotle and against Bishop Berkeley. Matter is real. But there is also the question of how we perceive “the news”; how established media institutions present and frame information; how we are supposed to respond to the “takes” purportedly expert and knowledgeable voices serve up to us by the second on social media. And here, I’m skeptical.
It’s hard not to be. Think of the headlines we’ve encountered since the beginning of this year. We were told the Covington Catholic boys were smug racist Trump supporters on the basis of a snippet of video. A young man, a private citizen, whose only offense was traveling to Washington, D.C., to march for life, was transformed at light speed into a symbol of hate and systemic oppression. However, just as Nick Sandmann’s reputation as a villain was about to set in stone, additional videos revealed that the students’ encounter with a far-left American Indian activist and the Black Hebrew Israelites was far more complicated than initially reported. The Covington Catholic boys had been smeared. People who cast themselves as agents of professional knowledge, expertise, and moral authority had circulated and amplified a lie in the service of a political agenda. Not for the first nor last time.
We were told Jussie Smollett, a rising gay African-American actor and singer, had been Continue reading
By Newt Gingrich • Fox News
The collusion lie will go down in history as one of the strangest distortions of reality to dominate the American political scene. For more than two years, the national establishment and news media were fixated on a “truth” that turned out to be false.
In some ways, this national psychosis is reminiscent of the popular madness that would run through medieval societies from time to time. Think of the flagellants going from city to city beating themselves to exorcise their sins. Think of the madness that surrounded Friar Girolamo Savonarola when he ruled Florence from 1494 to 1498.
In our own country, think of the hysteria of the Salem witchcraft trials in 1692 and 1693, when more than 200 people were accused of witchcraft. Fourteen women and five men were found guilty and hanged. A sixth man was pressed to death with stones.
On Oct. 30, 1938, Orson Welles terrified millions of Americans with Continue reading
By Charles Hurt • Washington Times
The job of newspapers was once to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Today, that job seems to be to give voice to liars and shout down the truth.
You really cannot blame Democrat voters in America for fleeing in droves the fetid airwaves of MSNBC and CNN, which have suffered a collapse in ratings last week as viewers learned they have been steadily and spectacularly lied to for the past two years by the so-called “mainstream” media about the so-called Russian collusion “story.”
Examples abound of pundits and reporters from once-respected newspapers and cable “news” outlets leveling outlandish charges about this twisted fantasy of collusion between President Trump and the Kremlin. Equally alarming are the endless examples of these same “news” outlets airing and publishing outright lies told by politicians hellbent on destroying Mr. Trump.
It is a sad fact in our broken world: politicians lie. The whole point of the so-called “Fourth Estate” — that unofficial, quasi-fourth branch of government — is to Continue reading
By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
For the past two years, a large swath of the media engaged in a mass act of self-deception and partisan groupthink. Perhaps it was Watergate envy, or bitterness over Donald Trump’s victory, or antagonism towards Republicans in general—or, most likely, a little bit of all the above. But now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has delivered his report on Russian collusion, it’s clear that political journalists did the bidding of those who wanted to delegitimize and overturn Trump’s election.
While bad behavior from partisan sources should be expected, the lack of skepticism from self-appointed unbiased journalists has been unprecedented. Any critical observer could see early on that Trump-era partisan newsroom culture had made journalists susceptible to the deception of those peddling expedient stories. Our weekly bouts of Russia hysteria all sprung from one predetermined outcome: the president was in bed with Vlad Putin.
The natural disposition of journalists—even opinion journalists—should be skepticism. Like him or not, the notion that the president of the United States, a wealthy showman who’s been in the limelight for decades, and ran one of the most chaotic major political organizations in history, had been secretly conspiring with Russia to steal a 50-state election should immediately have been deemed too good to be true by any decent journalist.
Yet once-respectable, if biased, mainstream outlets churned out Continue reading
By Brent Scher • Washington Free Beacon
The number of Freedom of Information Act requests the Environmental Protection Agency received from mainstream outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post spiked immediately after Republican President Donald Trump took office, according to a Free Beacon analysis of FOIA requests by the media from 2013 to the present.
The figures, obtained through the government’s FOIA online database, reveal a clear increase in requests for information from the agency once Trump was elected president.
The New York Times, for example, made just 13 FOIA requests during the four years of Obama’s second term, sending 3 in 2013, 1 in 2014, 7 in 2015, and 2 in 2016. The number of FOIA requests the Times sent for Obama’s entire second term was nearly quadrupled in the first year of Trump’s presidency alone, when the Times sent 59 FOIA requests to the EPA.
Reporters at the Times have made 100 FOIA requests since Trump took office just over two years ago, a 669 percent increase of the number of FOIA requests it made during the four years of Obama’s second term.
When Trump rattled off a series of economic successes in his State of the Union, he could have added one more. The public’s quality of life has improved sharply in the past two years.
“We have created 5.3 million new jobs and, importantly, added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs,” Trump said at one point in this address. “Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades … . Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low.”
Unemployment at historic lows? Wages climbing at a fast pace? Who knew? The news media, fixated on Trump scandals, hasn’t exactly been broadcasting that good news. And media fact checkers busied themselves after the speech nitpicking Trump’s economic boasts. Continue reading
By Craig Bannister • CNSNews.com
Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell is among a host of conservative leaders calling on media to apologize to the students of Covington Catholic High School who falsely accused of racism and bigotry based on a deceptively edited video.
In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the conservative leaders condemned the harm done to the students by false reports fueled by liberal media hatred for both President Donald Trump and all pro-life Americans:
Over the past week, the liberal media and leftist activists viciously attacked Covington Catholic High School, falsely labeling the group of teenagers racists and bigots based on a deceptively edited viral video. The liberal media’s promotion of this false narrative incited death threats to these kids and their families. If not for the leftist media’s contempt for pro-lifers and President Trump, this “story” would have never reached the magnitude that it did.
We now know the kids of Covington Catholic were the real victims of the altercation in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Despite the truth, despite an apology from the Bishop, despite some apologies from some journalists, despite media retractions, despite the deletion of tweets, some leftists in the press and other liberal elites are still perpetuating the lies about the innocent Covington kids. This is bigotry and its own brand of hatred. It is an ongoing display of anti-Trump, anti-life, anti-Catholic, and anti-Christian bias. These are blatant bullying tactics designed to make conservatives and people of faith think twice before standing up for their beliefs or even having the audacity to wear a “MAGA” hat in public, let alone smile while doing it.
We denounce any media outlet that continues to so dishonestly attack the Covington Catholic kids and we call on them to apologize for the bullying behavior that continues to result in threats of violence against the kids, their school and their community.
By John Kass • Chicago Tribune
What exactly triggered that hateful leftist social media mob — shamefully egged on by prominent American journalists — to unjustly attack the students at Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School and denounce them as racists?
The school has been closed. Death threats and bullying continue. Students and family complain they’ve been doxed — their identities revealed so that the hateful mob can harass them some more.
So, what happened? Why were the students vilified?
Was it simply for the sin of being white, Roman Catholic supporters of President Donald Trump, the boys having the gall to wear their “MAGA” hats at the March for Life?
Or was it something else? Continue reading
My father, who would have been 79 this week, was an enthusiastic Trump supporter. He died in October 2016, and, not being a resident of Chicago was unable to participate in the fall election, but in the primary earlier that year he voted for him proudly.
He was not a man to keep his opinions to himself. The prospect of a Trump presidency excited him, as he would tell anyone who would listen because it presented the best chance in some time to get the folks in Washington in line.
That, I suspect, is what a lot of people who voted for Trump believed. What he and they forget is that the Washington establishment—the poly-partisan conglomeration of policymakers, bureaucrats, professional thinkers, journalists, lobbyists, lackeys and other denizens of what the president and his supporters refer to as “The Swamp”—was not going to go down quietly. They can and will fight back against any real effort at reform, not because they believe it is good policy to do so (though they may truly believe that to be the case) but because it is in their inherent financial, social, and professional interests to do so.
Let’s stipulate for purposes of this column that the president is as awful as many of his detractors make him out to be. That he is deliberately divisive. That his tweets offend. That he is as arrogant as the essayists who write think pieces in journals devoted to social commentary make him out to be. Does that mean he’s also wrong about everything?
I submit the answer to that is “No.” Look around you. The economy, which was flat on its back during the entire Obama presidency, is once again roaring. Rather than celebrate that fact through, let’s say, enterprise reporting at the major cable news networks on the subject of “America Back to Work—How and Why Did It Happen?” we’re told at best the good news won’t last.
Does this reflect a liberal bias in the media? Yes, I suspect, but add to that the antipathy most reporters on the national beat and in the national spotlight seem to have for Trump. It is as though they propped him up during the early part of the primaries hoping he would lead the Republican Party down the pathway to implosion, ensuring the election of Hillary Rodham Clinton and at least another four years of progressive policies that were, among other things, destroying middle America.
Oops. That didn’t exactly work out as planned and so, possibly as repentance, the folks who congregate in the White House briefing room and their colleagues beyond are doing all they can to discredit him. The president helps, of course, giving them more than enough material to work with, but can anyone honestly deny they’ve taken the traditional adversarial position to extremes never seen in this country?
It’s a safe bet that the Trump supporters who read this will agree, while those opposed to the president personally will probably think I should be locked up somewhere. But there are those in the middle, those who don’t like him but generally approve of the direction in which things are headed and who really do still consider both sides of any equation.
They aren’t sure, one way or the other. And they’re right to be confused. Trump uses his Twitter feed and his rallies and statements to establish a narrative. The media, writ large, use their interaction with the American people to set another. Mainstream media is clearly opposed, from an editorial standpoint and in some reportage, to the president personally.
This hasn’t escaped people’s attention. This week, an IPSOS poll of adults nationwide found 48 percent agreeing with the statement “Most news outlets have a liberal bias.” Only 19 percent said they didn’t. In the same survey, 43 percent said, “The mainstream media treats President Trump unfairly.” 39 percent said it didn’t, which, to be as precise as possible, is a tricky question to answer because it turns on how people define “unfairly.”
The problem, if there is one, is that not enough people allow their skepticism of the way Trump is treated and their awareness of media bias to process the way they perceive the news. Instead of looking for a more complete and thorough analysis, liberals and conservatives alike seek out news sources that confirm their bias. That’s not healthy for the democratic process.
My father, who came from nothing, worked hard for most of his life in pursuit of the American Dream. I like to think he achieved it. And he resented greatly those who suggested he ought to feel guilty somehow that he’d made it while others didn’t. He was a wise man, something I wish I’d been more cognizant of when he was still alive. He could see through the distortions, largely by thinking for himself. I sincerely hope that’s not a trait that’s not becoming uncommon. If it is, the next president, Republican or Democrat, will continue to fail in the face of mindless polarization, fed and watered by those who write the national narrative.
By Dennis Prager • Real Clear Politics
You and I are living through the greatest mass hysteria in American history. For many Americans, the McCarthy era held that dubious distinction, but what is happening now is incomparably worse.
For one thing, any hysteria that existed then was directed against the greatest evil in the world at the time: communism. Then-Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee notwithstanding, there really were Americans in important positions who supported communist regimes enslaving their populations and committing mass murder. McCarthy was on to something.
In contrast, the country is choking on hysteria over the extremely unlikely possibility — for which there is still no evidence — that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, and the absurdity that President Trump works for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
For another, Continue reading
By John Lott Jr • The Hill
President Trump’s half hour, impromptu interview on “Fox & Friends” last Friday sent the media’s fact checkers into overdrive this weekend. Everyone from PolitiFact to The New York Times to virtually all the Sunday morning national talk shows piled on, calling Trump a liar.
But the media can’t stop lying about what the president says. Sometimes it can’t distinguish a legitimate point of disagreement from a lie. It is no wonder that people have tuned out much of the constant attacks on Trump.
Just take the hyperbole on Sunday’s Meet the Press. Before playing a compilation of clips from Trump’s interview, moderator Chuck Todd exclaimed: “Let me put together this list of just outright misstatements, lies.” After showing the clips Continue reading
By Andrew C. McCarthy • National Review
The media are in a lather over the Justice Department’s grand-jury investigation of contacts between several reporters and a government source — the former Senate Intelligence Committee security director who has been indicted for lying to investigators about his leaks to the press.
The same media are in a lather over the refusal of the president of the United States, at least thus far, to submit to questioning by the special counsel in the Russia investigation. The president is placing himself “above the law,” they contend, if he rebuffs prosecutors or defies a grand-jury subpoena.
Whether we’re talking about journalists or presidents, the situation is the same: An investigative demand is made on people whose jobs are so important to the functioning of our self-governing republic that they are given some protection, but not absolute immunity, from the obligation to provide evidence to the grand jury. Continue reading
Conservative leaders are joining together to call for equal treatment on tech and social media.
In a statement released Tuesday, a number of conservative organizations and leaders detailed their concerns:
Social media censorship and online restriction of conservatives and their organizations have reached a crisis level. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s hearings on Capitol Hill only served to draw attention to how widespread this problem has become. Conservative leaders now have banded together to call for equal treatment on tech and social media.
Conservatives have encountered problems across platforms — Twitter, Facebook, Google, and its video platform YouTube especially. Social media firms have banned gun videos and rejected pro-life advertisements. They have skewed search results and adjusted trending topics in ways Continue reading