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(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.
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:
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. cnn.com/2019/02/08/pol…
AMI, after all, has cultivated financial ties to Saudi prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) nytimes.com/2018/03/29/bus…
and publishes blatantly pro-MBS propaganda.
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: nytimes.com/interactive/20…
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. hrw.org/news/2012/07/1…

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. latimes.com/nation/la-na-t… I wonder why (sarcasm)
13/ Another way of silencing the truth is what Russia calls “kompromat” and we call blackmail.

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.
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. washingtonpost.com/powerpost/crim…

Just look at Roy Moore, and Former NY Congressman Michael Grimm.
18/ Grimm hired undocumented workers, hid 900K from tax authorities & made false statements under oath. He dismisses his convictions because they occured under Obama’s “politicized” DOJ.

He compared his conviction to what Trump is “going through.”
19/ This astonishing video shows the ovation and applause Roger Stone received recently at a GOP event in VA, after his indictment.

Lawbreaking is almost a "badge of honor." (NYT earlier)

They can’t seem to stop breaking laws, even after they’re caught.
20/ After Cohen's guilty plea, AMI entered a cooperation agreement with the prosecutors. The agreement required that AMI commit no crimes.
AMI didn’t last a month before trying to blackmail Bezos.
21/ What we learned from the most recent Manafort document was that Manafort continued working for the Russians, even after entering a deal with Mueller.
22/ A brazen disregard for norms & laws is another thing AMI, Trump, the Trump-GOP, Putin, and the Saudis have in common.

I've argued that the Trump-GOP prefers a Putin-style oligarchy to liberal democracy (using that phrase on purpose). For more, see:
23/ They all break laws as if they have no fear of consequences, and cheer lawbreaking.

Some suggest the fearlessness comes from certainty that Trump will pardon them.

But the theory fails because so many of the crimes are state crimes, beyond the reach of presidential pardon.
24/ I suggest something more sinister: They think Trump will win this thing.

I suggest their fearlessness comes from a (mistaken) belief that Trump—with help from his well-oiled media loop—will torpedo truth and undermine Rule of Law, which will immunize them from consequences.
25/ They believe America will become like Russia—where all that matters is whether you are favored by the ruling oligarchs, whose job is to keep people "safe."

It's hard for some people to wrap their minds around the fact the Trump-GOP wants this.
26/ The fight is Rule of Law v. Cult of Leadership.

The warriors for Rule of Law are the investigative journalists. And Bezos, who took a blow for democracy.

Whether or not Trump had a direct hand in the AMI-Bezos debacle, this much is obvious:

AMI was doing Trump’s work.
All of my threads are now blog posts. You can view this one here: terikanefield-blog.com/ami-the-trump-…
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