Extortion–And Susan Collins

Well, Susan Collins was right–sorta. Trump did learn a lesson from the Impeachment whitewash that she and the other Republican Senators handed him.

The lesson? Extortion works and I can keep doing it.

Earlier this week, Trump tweeted:

I’m seeing Governor Cuomo today at The White House. He must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment, start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes. Build relationships, but don’t bring Fredo!

This, of course, is vintage Trump, displaying both his trademark ignorance of how government actually works and his mob-godfather behavior.

Letitia James, New York’s Attorney General responded to the obvious ignorance.

When you stop violating the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, we will stand down. Until then, we have a duty and responsibility to defend the Constitution and the rule of law.

BTW, I file the lawsuits, not the Governor.

As commentators have noted, this new threat followed a more generalized version that Trump had included in his delusional, fact-free State of the Union speech. In that speech, he threatened reprisals against sanctuary cities and states (mischaracterizing, as usual, what sanctuary laws say and do–it really is amazing how impervious he has been to learning anything in the three years he’s held office).

It also followed a previous, petty retaliation against New York, described by a Daily Kos contributor:

When the Department of Homeland Security announced on Feb. 7 that residents of New York would no longer be allowed to participate in programs such as Global Entry that speed passengers through airport security, it seemed like an act of petty vengeance. But then … petty vengeance is Donald Trump’s middle name. He just spells it with a J. So the idea that Trump would make a move designed to irritate millions of New Yorkers because their state passed laws supporting immigrants seemed absolutely believable.

But as it turns out, Trump wasn’t acting out of pure retaliation. Not at all. On Thursday Trump fired off a tweet making it clear that the real purpose behind making New Yorkers go to the back of the line was extortion—to force the state into leaving his taxes, his company, and his friends alone.

After all, it worked so well in Ukraine.

For a more in-depth discussion of this latest, astonishingly brazen effort to obtain a personal quid pro quo–threatening to withhold money meant to protect the citizens of New York unless that state dropped its multiple investigations into his criminal activities–you really should visit (or revisit, if you have already seen it) this discussion on Morning Joe.

Once again, the word that comes to mind is chutzpah.

What I find so astonishing is not the criminal behavior itself–and make no mistake, it is criminal, although I’m sure that the blowback will be dismissed with Trump’s usual “it was a joke” disclaimer (this from a man who wouldn’t know humor if he encountered it)– but the chutzpah of tweeting it out for the whole world to see. All that was missing was “Nah nah nah–you can’t impeach me! I’m protected by the spineless, dishonest, unAmerican Republicans in Mitch McConnell’s Senate.”

Yes indeed, Senator Collins. He certainly learned a lesson…


  1. Yes. And supporting an effort to get RID of Sen Collins seems a good idea.
    So far she has done nothing to slow the Orange menace.
    She needs to go

  2. Former Hoosier, subscriber & long time admirer of your writings. Thank you for the work you do. Your blog is extremely helpful for my ongoing atempt to become more engaged and educated. Would love a post re what sanctuary laws actually say and do.

  3. Why wouldn’t Trump* use extortion to get what he wants? He learned it from his years in the money grubbing big business world he came out of and used it everyday. How about those nondisclosure agreements? How about those binding arbitration agreements? The tactics used by business and industry to control their employees and customers are nothing but legal extortion in fine, fine print. Of course he transferred this practice to government. And the political party of money grubbing big business goes along with Trump*because they have their own brand of extortion… it’s called “campaign fund raising”.

  4. Face it; unless he is miraculously voted out by a very wide margin…or his head finally implodes… we will be facing the future with another four years of Trump and his Hole In The Wall gang who are spread throughout this country. It is taking much more backing and support than those in Washington, D.C., to maintain his level of power and control which is edging closer to the level of Putin’s control over Russia and Kim Jong Un’s in North Korea. We will not survive another four years with even a resemblance to America and Americans and the United States of America. Digging through the cat litter box which the administration and Congress has become; we will find more quid pro quos buried just below the surface; just follow the stink of Trump to find them. Or ask Susan Collins what her quid pro quo covered.

  5. Well we’ve had three years to watch as a man with no curiosity and no morals has run our country. Have we learned our lesson yet?

  6. Indeed. This is just another case of the orange creature re-defining what swamp means. It used to just be plain old corruption and graft. Now, the president is adding outright criminal activity to the fetid nature of that swamp. He’s using the Attorney General to persecute his enemies, real and perceived, and to exonerate his slime ball pals with whom he feels most comfortable. Even the Godfather kept his distance from Luka Brazzi. But not Trump. He feels right at home with the “albino assassin”, Roger Stone.

    Congratulations, Trump voters and supporters. You’ve brought the movies into real life.

  7. I just read yesterday that Trump as going to send immigration personnel into cities that had opted for sanctuary status in order to carry out our immigration laws. Translation > the gestapo has arrived. Does this mean that state and local police will be in a shooting war with the federales? If so, Trump’s vision of government by chaos and diversion would be well served.

    It appears that the only way to slow this criminal mind from causing yet further carnage is to again initiate impeachment proceedings. He was a bad man while such proceedings were being carried out but not as bad as now as he feels free from any restraints, so Adam, convene your committee and try to keep the country afloat until we can have an election.

  8. Gerald,

    “so Adam, convene your committee and try to keep the country afloat until we can have an election…”

    What good did the last one do? The problem is that Adam Schiff is not in a position to defend against someone like Donald Trump. He’s a FASCIST [could care less for democracy] who is our President with all those powers, has the Senate behind him and has a Supreme Court who will back him up.

    We better find a better way and it’s not going to be within the Democratic Party or the legal system. That’s for sure.

  9. Marv,

    Be careful about what you say that might be interpreted as a threat against the president. I’m sure Trump’s eyes and ears are reading blogs like this too.

  10. Gerald, you are correct, the SS or Gestapo is being sent to sanctuary cities.


    But, the USA has been using the secret service all around the world to promote capitalism in pure imperialistic fashion. We don’t drop bombs as Germany did, we use the CIA and mercenaries to overthrow democratically elected heads of state and install a puppet regime.

    To expedite the process, we also use sanctions on the people forcing them to endure all kinds of hardships until we “convince” them to rise against their government and accept our puppet regime.

    Do you think Trump learned how to be Fascist by actually watching what we’ve been doing for decades?

    Speaking of quid pro quo…we are the masters of imperialistic quid pro quo. Take a look at Michael Bloomberg and all the money he’s spending to become POTUS. He’s asking officials who took money from his charity to write endorsements for him and paying people $150 to Tweet nice things about him.

    Bill de Blasio just endorsed Bernie Sanders saying, “I’ve spent much of my time as Mayor undoing the things Bloomberg installed while Mayor of NYC.”

    I guess Bill won’t be getting any freebies from Trump or Bloomberg.

    If the systems above us are corrupted, replacing the people will do nothing to correct our path. We have to replace the systems causing the disease, or the patient will continue suffering and will eventually die.

  11. Chutzpah, yeah, but criminal is the apt description. Openly criminal is even more accurate. And when you’re engaging in such openly criminal conduct and there’s nothing between you and a stack of indictments but a DOJ memorandum, it’s probably not a good idea to piss off a bunch of federal prosecutors (or state AGs).

    I hope the short-fingered vulgarian continues his string of presidential firsts by becoming the first president to be perp-walked out the east doors of the Capitol following his successors swearing in, and serving a 15-20 year sentence for financial and other crimes.

  12. If there is an answer, it lies in our ability to create a defense against our Fascist dictator. We don’t know if that’s possible or not, since we’ve allowed the likes of the Southern Poverty Law Center/ ADL to control the RESPONSE of the Pro-democracy forces for almost 30 years.

    Until we admit that we have been “screwed” the situation will continue to deteriorate.

  13. Todd,

    “We have to replace the systems causing the disease, or the patient will continue suffering and will eventually die.”

    Then we might start to recover.

  14. Vernon,


    Be careful about what you say that might be interpreted as a threat against the president. I’m sure Trump’s eyes and ears are reading blogs like this too.

    I’ll admit, I’m a bonafide threat against his presidency. Someone better be. Arrest me.

  15. Okay, thanks for this post Sheila!

    Now, how can you fight lawlessness without law? If rules are followed, and lawlessness is rubberstamped by a corrupted judicial system, and you know that the fish rots from the head, how are you going to root out lawlessness? If the system has been so damaged as to allow lawless behavior, there is only ONE way to fight that lawlessness.

    Some could say, to heck with rules, send off tax returns and other information to the media. Don’t worry about courts and subpoenas and FOIA, because the lawless government cannot be “fought” with law. If you have a raging inferno that’s going to engulf everything, how do you counteract that? Backfires! Back fires burn up the fuel, they take the energy away from the main fire, it is destructive in itself, make no mistake about it, just like an amputation of a limb can save the body.

    I can guarantee, with an absoluteness not rendered lightly, the current resident of the White House will not leave office, the drug of power has totally enveloped his entire being. He cannot be removed by law, ethics mean nothing anymore, neither does morality. His sycophantic senators will protect him to the last breath. This is not a fear of the POTUS twitter account, this is also the desire for power even if they claim it’s something else. Make no mistake about it, this will be a devastating conflict, you have hundreds of thousands of white nationalistic fascist militias who will gladly flock to the POTUS side. You have Eric Prince and his black water brigade that POTUS has been working on for quite a while.

    Sycophantic judges, sycophantic Atty. Gen., sycophantic legislators, along with a corrupt executive, does not bode well. The only way this is going to be resolved, there’s going to have to be a rising up, elections are not going to do it. And not only do residents of executive need to be rounded up, but also the corrupt judges that were appointed by the corrupt executive, and the corrupt legislators who refused to follow any rule of law. It’s going to have to be a military action if it’s changed at all, and if anyone doubts that, just look at how Nazi Germany evolved. It is almost identical in the manner of dismantling those guardrails so to speak. Demonizing the press, finding foils i.e. immigrants and others, some of Germany’s foils were also the Communists who they framed for the Reichstag fire allowing mass incarcerations to the death camps. Here it’s the “Socialists.” The cry bring Germany back to its glory, here it’s MAGA! In Germany it was Lugenpresse, here it’s fake news. We are now waiting for our own night of the Long knives, and then our Kristallnacht.

    When you have somebody that has a rubber stamp government, they are already a dictator, and our dictator has been enabled by his sycophantic government. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing incarcerations by claiming these people are subversives, those who speak out against him. If he doesn’t get the Atty. Gen. to do it, he will do it himself! The only thing that will stop what’s going on now, is the Military. And that in itself is a crap shoot because Men of honor are going to need the documented proof of wrongdoing, I.e. subversively and clandestinely leaked documentation that prove foreign influence. What’s happening is obvious, but it’s not just in the United States, it’s moving around the world in various forms. Look at the Burmese er Myanmar, a very principled president, turned completely corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the hegemonic forces are at work. This is going to be our new dark ages, and its pilot light was our current POTUS.

  16. Trumpublican agenda is to return us to the “Dark Ages” when blind faith and autocracy and royalty ruled and human knowledge was limited to a handful of people.

    “Blue no matter who” is an agenda to fast forward to the Age of Enlightment when human knowledge flourished and prospered and fueled progress.

  17. It’s disgraceful that only Mitt Romney had the courage to stand up to Trump’s criminal behavior. I do not doubt that history will not look favorably upon “Moscow Mitch” nor the other Republicans who would not stand up to Trump. He has so many enablers and sycophants. While the media focuses on the presidential race, I keep thinking that the democratic party must also do all it can to increase the # of democrats in the Senate. I so wish Amy McGrath could defeat Sen. McConnell. And Shiela, I wonder what your thoughts are on Michael Bloomberg and his policy ideas?

  18. I never believed it. There was in retrospect this quaint thought being pushed out that The Trumpet would have “adults in the room” after he won in 2016. He quickly appointed incompetent family members to either government positions or positions of influence. Pastor Pence brought in his Evangelical Gang to fill in some cabinet spots, or other positions of influence and vet future judges.

    Sycophants for The Trumpet were high on list for employ-ability. Sean Spicer quickly staked out the ground with his lies about the size of the Inaugural Crowd. Then “Alternative Facts” became the watch words.

    The Trumpet does not have to actually tell these bootlickers, stooges and sycophants what to do, they know what The Trumpet wants done. “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” (sometimes expressed as “troublesome” or “meddlesome priest”) is a question attributed to Henry II of England, which led to the death of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1170. While it was not expressed as an order, it caused four knights to travel from Normandy to Canterbury, where they killed Becket.

    From the Guardian >> Recently, Barr announced the creation of an “intake process” for information gathered by Rudy Giuliani about investigations tied to Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.<<< https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/15/william-barr-attorney-general-donald-trump-enabler

  19. “While he is a champion of gun control and addressing climate change, he has criticized Medicare-for-all as unaffordable and has said Warren’s proposed wealth tax is likely unconstitutional. He has expressed optimism about the Green New Deal and said all of the concepts in it deserve consideration, but has warned that it should not put forth “things that are pie in the sky.” As New York mayor, Bloomberg backed stop-and-frisk policing, for which he apologized just days before announcing his candidacy. Overall, he is viewed as a more Wall Street-friendly, centrist candidate.”

    Robin Riebsomer; you pose an interesting question regarding our newest billionaire presidential wannabe, Michael Bloomberg; I copied and pasted the information above from the Vox web site. The timing of his “stop and frisk” apology is questionable but what I find more questionable is his crossover political history and the timing of his return to the Democratic party and his donations to the Democratic candidates. If you research his biography you will find he was a “lifelong” Democrat until 2001 when he switched to the Republican party to run for Mayor of New York City; he won that election and served from 2002 to 2013 BUT while in that position he switched to an Independent in 2007 where he remained until less than 2 years ago when he switched back to his “lifelong” Democratic party affiliation in 2018. Why should the Democratic party trust his loyalty when his presidential run against Trump appears to be a personal issue for him just as Trump’s quid pro quos and other unstable decisions and actions are personal to Trump? Bloomberg’s timing gives away his reason for the timing of another party crossover and the policies he claims to support. Trump also made many policy claims during his campaign and look where we are now as a nation with a highly questionable future ahead of us.

  20. JoAnn,

    “Trump also made many policy claims during his campaign and look where we are now as a nation with a highly questionable future ahead of us.”

    I with you on this one.

  21. The lesson is that bullying works so well with the Republicans that Trump will try it on the Democrats. He’s still upset about not getting his bipartisan acquittal and getting a bipartisan vote to convict instead. The first such dubious honor in the history of impeachment. But Trump never recognizes a rebuke for what it is and Republicans are rapidly expending their dwindling political capital to support this man in his escalating episodes of abuse of power, the public trust, and the Constitution. The Republicans have already passed their Macbeth moment where returning would be tedious as go o’er. So they may feel they are stuck with him. But it will only get worse for them to continue. Trump always seems to survive these situations without any real consequences, but his cronies and allies have often wound up paying the price for sins committed to help him. You think this would be an obvious warning to any so gullible to believe that loyalty to Trump pays its own dividends. Loyalty to Trump us a one-way ticket to ignominy and worse.

  22. JoAnn there is a long but excellent article on Bloomberg here: Democratic Presidential Candidate Michael Bloomberg Is a GOP Bankroller Over the last decade, Bloomberg helped Republicans take and maintain control of the U.S. Senate.

    There is another article in the Guardian: Two prominent Democratic donors in Chicago with deep ties to Barack Obama will next week co-host an event for former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg.

    As I have said before, it is sad day when the Democratic Party of the Working Class and Main Street sees salvation in an Oligarch.

    Bloomberg has done what the 1% do, fund both Republicans and Democrats, this way no matter which party has control they are beholden to him. The corrupted DNC, changed the rules on who could have a podium at future debates by changing the rules of entry to let Bloomberg in.

  23. JoAnn and others:
    I read much condemnation of republicans for choosing party over country.

    And then I read the same people condemning Bloomberg for NOT choosing party over everything else.

    I give up hoping republicans will be consistent, but I still expect democrats to be consistent.

  24. I can and will do something I do not think many (any?) of the other readers and lovers of your columns can do, Sheila… as I moved from Indianapolis to Maine, you can count on my vote for whoever ends up being our Democratic candidate to face Sen. Collins. I’m hoping it’s gonna be Sara Gideon who is already a leader in our statehouse. Afterall, Maine these days has a Democrat woman governor, a Democrat controlled house and senate and everything from legal marijuana and voter (not court) approved gay marriage to proud sactuary here in Portland for all and now a law in the legislature to make up with state funds for money Mike Pence & Co. took from abortion clinics. Our state slogan is one we proudly live: Maine, the way life should be! Bye, bye Susan!

  25. Monotonous; interesting but not surprising Common Dreams article about Bloomberg. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Larry; Republicans are NOT choosing party over country, they are choosing Trump’s White Nationalism over country. Trump switches parties as often as he switches loyalties to those who serve him. Here is his party affiliation list; Republican 1987-1999, Democrat 2001-2009, Reform 1999-2001, Independent 2011-2012, Republican 2016-?.

    Susan Collins remains faithful to Trump who happens to claim her party, the Republican party, at this time. Would he hire her as an aide/apprentice if she should lose her bid to remain in the Senate for supporting him after speaking out against him? Has she learned any lessons regarding misplaced loyalty watching Trump’s impeachment acquittal fallout? 2020 will be a most interesting election year for many reasons; especially within the Republican party.

  26. Okay, Marv, Larry, ML, and Pete, picture this, POTUS and his rubber stamp government declare interference in the election, they void the election. That way, POTUS can keep his position, and the senators can keep their majority even if they had lost it through the voided election. Then they would cram through some bogus law to allow a permanence to the remedy of the so-called crisis.

    Thereby bypassing the entire Constitution because the president has declared martial law. This would allow a succession of family members and other chosen ones to run the country and dismantle any laws or legislation that they do not like, even our beloved social safety net!

    You can try, everyone can try, but, this seems to have been planned for a very long time! How will most citizens react when many of the opposition have targets on their back? The mantra “keep your head low and move real slow” will be the ruling phrase.

    A new era of servitude where one would have to have the approving Mark of the ruling class to even survive, dark ages indeed!

    It’s already begun!

  27. John S.

    The problem is that 99.9% can’t believe what is going to come, although it’s now inevitable. And thus the populace won’t take action until all will be lost. It’s a familiar scenario and will probably result in a similar catastrophe that befell Nazi Germany and its White Nationalism. This is surely nothing new.

  28. For my fearful co-commenters, Trump loses; Trump leaves. Trump spends the rest of his life claiming he had won but it was stolen by a conspiracy led by Hillary Clinton, Hunter Biden, and “illegal immigrants”. The right-wing militias are overgrown children playing at revolution (1776 style). The real military is led by people who Trump has insulted too many times.

    What I worry about is the day after the election. Will we prosecute Trump and his cronies? Will we make a point of the rule of law? Or will we say “That would look partisan”, “That would make us look like vengeful winners”, “We would be acting like Trump”, and “It would be bad for the country”? Sorry Biden fans, but we can’t “return to pre-Trump” like Moscow Mitch and crew haven’t helped Trump destroy the courts. Every time the Republicans moved to the right, the Democrats followed, perhaps with eight steps to the right followed by one step back toward the left. We can describe Bloomberg as a “centrist” as long as we accept the 30 yard line as the middle of a football field. This country has had a serious flirtation with a would-be dictator. We need a strong return to the rule of law, including ridding ourselves (through legal means) of the cancer Trump has tried to inflict upon us.

    Sadly, we know what Trump has learned. The real question is “What have we learned?”

  29. Len,

    “We need a strong return to the rule of law, including ridding ourselves (through legal means) of the cancer Trump has tried to inflict upon us.”

    “Sadly, we know what Trump has learned. The real question is “What have we learned?”

    You’ve learned very little. The Christian-Zionist Alliance [ aka Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)-Anti-Defamation League (ADL) RUSE] has been operating a disinformation campaign since its inception in the mid-eighties. This modus vivendi or “Black Swan” is the VITAL NODE in the spread of this cancer-like VIRUS OF THE MIND.

    As you probably know, many cancers can be successfully treated on the surface. This cancer can’t. Its origins are subsurface and not amenable to a more simple treatment. Unfortunately, like many cancers, if it is not treated earlier enough, the treatment will be an exercise in futility.

    And the patient, in this case, the BODY POLITIC will have no Future, very similar to that of Nazi Germany in the ’40s.

    Take a look at The Political Epidemiology Institute site at http://www.StrategicPower.org. You might learn something very valuable.

  30. Len,

    You can’t successfully TREAT a non-linear virus if you don’t TRACK it. The Southern Poverty Law Center/Anti-Defamation League Alliance made sure of that.

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