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Trump Back To Birtherism After Five Days

As I noted earlier this evening, I was wrong about what I thought would happen when Steven Bannon took a leave from Breitbart News and took over the Trump campaign. I assumed that formally teaming up with Bannon would mean Trump finally ditching even the pretense of a 'pivot' and doubling down on a 90 day primal scream of rage and derp. It is still largely rage and derp. But Bannon brought a discipline to Trump's operation that his two predecessors never could. Yes, yes, the bar is so low it might simply be a painted over part of the floor. But recognize the difference. Bannon kept Trump on the teleprompter mainly. He limited the Curiel/Khan type debacles. And yet even with the Bannon/Conway leadership, two people Trump seems largely to trust and work with, it is amazing the degree to which the campaign remains a war between a semblance of strategy and management and Trump's instinctive drives and arrested emotional development.

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It's Steve Bannon's World, We Just Live In It

One of the many fascinating things to come out of my chat with Josh Green (for Episode 3 of the podcast) was the still largely unappreciated role of Steve Bannon looming over the 2016 race.

Obviously, being Trump's campaign chairman in itself is a very big deal. Kellyanne Conway is the nominal campaign manager. But Bannon seems to be the top executive in the operation. And to the surprise of many (including myself), rather than signaling Trump going finally totally off he rails, Bannon is the first of Trump's three campaign chiefs to bring some level of discipline to the operation. Not a high bar. But it's been real and important. So that's point one.

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Trump Life

We've been seeing over recent days that Donald Trump and members of his family not only treat the Trump Foundation as a sort of personal piggy bank but actually think that's how it's supposed to work. Well, it seems like that may be the case. A longtime Trump family aide, Tracey Patton, told The Des Moines Register today that some of the Trump Foundation money actually is Trump's personal money and he can do anything he wants with it.

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Lord, This Pains Me

As I said earlier, it really, really pains me to have to argue Corey Lewandowski's case here. But here goes.

In lots of press reports, emailers, folks on Twitter saying that Lewandowski is now being paid for "strategy consulting" rather than simply a severance. He's also being paid to his company, Green Monster Consulting, LLC. So basically he's back on the payroll.

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It's Even Worse Than Ripping Off the Foundation

I'm surprised this is only getting attention now. It's not just that Donald Trump essentially ripped off his own Foundation to settle business disputes - and in doing so cheated taxpayers who give his Foundation preferential tax treatment. The nature of one of the disputes itself is almost as amazing. This isn't just some prosaic or mundane legal dispute. It's a classic Trump cheat.

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Talking with Josh Green

A couple hours ago I chatted with Bloomberg's Josh Green for episode three of my new podcast. We talked about the now infamous Mark Penn 'unamerican' memo from 2008 which the Trump campaign quite clumsily tried to use to blame Hillary Clinton for birtherism and also Josh's profile of Steve Bannon from last year. You may have missed this part of the last week's unfolding birther news. But Josh was the one who originally got a copy of that memo and published it in 2008 as part of a lengthy post-mortem on the Clinton campaign. Fascinating conversation. As usual, whatever the news of the moment, Josh has several deeply reported articles which bear pretty much directly on it.

Episode three of my podcast should be coming on Friday.