Newsmax columnist Conrad Black seems to feel he needs to justify the pardon Donald Trump gave him for financial crimes by buying into his Big Lie and sucking up to him at every opportunity.
By Terry Krepel Posted 4/29/2022
During his presidency, Donald Trump pardoned Conrad Black of fraud charges after he wrote a sycophantic book about Trump, so it's perhaps no surprise that the Newsmax columnist has gone all in on propping up Trump, spending many of his columns over the past year on doing just that.
In his March 30, 2021, column, Black tried to rewrite the history of the Capitol riot that Trump helped to instigate:
Incoming U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland stumbled and hesitated but eventually stated that the most complicated investigation facing his department was the events of January 6.
This cannot possibly be true, because even the implausible surviving head of the thoroughly discredited FBI, Christopher Wray, acknowledged in congressional testimony there was no evidence whatever that those events were coordinated or organized by elements connected to the former president.
Every informed person in the world knows that the events of January 6 were the result of a loose sequence of facts that were only allowed to aggregate into the assault on the Capitol because of the malice or incompetence of Trump’s enemies.
A few thousand of the large number of professional hooligans in the country saw an opportunity and were present.
Because the mayor of Washington, D.C. and the speaker of the House had ignored the requests of the head of the Capitol police for reinforcements, the thugs forced entry into the Capitol.
National legislatures are frequently attacked by crowds, but normally the officials responsible have the intelligence to ensure an adequate level of security.
The damage was not particularly serious and the only fatalities were Trump supporters and one Capitol policeman whose fate was grossly misrepresented by the anti-Trump media.
Black is lying when he claimed that "the mayor of Washington, D.C. and the speaker of the House had ignored the requests of the head of the Capitol police for reinforcements" the day of the riot. In fact, DC metropolitan police were on the scene, and Capitol Police requested National Guard backup early on, but that had to also be approved by the Defense Department, which didn't do so until much later in the day.
Black also counterfactually ranted in that column: "The most asinine legislative initiative in the modern history of the country ensued: the impeachment of the president for an incitement he did not utter to an insurrection he did not seek and, indeed, one that did not occur in order to remove him from an office he no longer held."
Black went all in on election fraud conspiracy theories as well in his May 11 column:
The question is whether the NeverTrumpers, abetted by the Democrats, can kill Trump’s chances of a political resurrection.
Success will be impossible unless they can both stamp out the belief of approximately half the voters that 2020 was a tainted election, and keep alive the fiction that Trump was actively promoting an insurrection on Jan. 6.
This is bunk and the cornerstone of what is really the Big Lie the Trump-haters’ theory that he is just a hooligan and a sore loser of a fair election. In truth, the only reason that has any traction at all is due to the failure of the judiciary to address the constitutional and electoral controversies Trump raised.
Trump warned of the dangers of ballot harvesting, but his campaign wasn’t ready on the ground or in the courts to tackle the issue when it presented itself. And he didn’t help his case with his nonsense about having won the popular vote. In these respects, he is not blameless.
Trump’s enemies are going to have to face the facts: They defeated him with a tainted election assisted by the abdication of the judiciary from its constitutional status as a coequal branch of government with the executive and the legislature, and with a sandbag job from almost the entire media.
The attempt to hang Jan. 6, around his neck has been a complete fiasco, led, appropriately, by the director of the much-diminished FBI, Christopher Wray.
The dawning awareness that Trump or a candidate approved by him can only be kept out of the White House in 2024 will, on past form, lead his enemies to an even more frenzied assault. It won’t fly.
This is an incompetent administration seriously mismanaging the most dubious mandate any president has ever had.
Black used his May 18 column to go on an epic rant against Liz Cheney, bizarrely likening her to Brutus, who helped conspire to kill Julius Caesar:
The apparent suicide plunge of United States Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., appears to be the psychopathic backlash of NeverTrumpers who are starting to realize Donald Trump’s defeat in November and the allegations he was attempting to overturn the election by provoking an "insurrection" at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 do not bring back the Republican Party of the Bushes and McCain and Romney, as those families seem to imagine.
This is only the first shoe dropping.
It will soon be followed by the realization of the role the NeverTrumpers have played in shackling the country and the Western world to the unfolding disaster of the Biden presidency.
Like Brutus charging out of the Roman Senate on the Ides of March, 44 B.C., holding up two bloodied knives and expecting to be applauded after proudly shouting to a distracted group of observers that they had assassinated the tyrant, Cheney acknowledges she voted in support of the Trump administration over 90% of the time, but that her reverence for the rule of law requires her to oppose the "Big Lie."
This lie, she insists, is that there is some question about the legitimacy of the election result. She also holds that there can be no question that Trump attempted to launch a violent assault on the vital processes of the U.S. electoral process by inciting the invasion and vandalization of the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6.
Cheney endlessly repeats her faith in the rule of law as the justification for her mortal opposition to the president whom she claims to have voted for just six months ago.
This faith in law did not propel her to object to the lawless assault upon Trump by the authors of the Trump-Russia collusion fraud or the first spurious impeachment of him.
It's rather the last refuge of someone willfully sacrificing a congressional leadership position to be a useful idiot for the Democrats as they seek, through their iron-fisted control of the national political media, to maintain the Real Big Lie namely, that the November election’s results have been carefully and impartially reviewed by the courts, and that the ex-president incited an insurrection on Jan. 6.
Since as with Brutus, who shortly had to flee Rome never to returnthe majority of Republican voters are not persuaded of the fairness of the election or the effective and dispositive performance of the judiciary, or the anti-Trump take on Jan. 6, Cheney is reduced to taking comfort from the efforts of the cheerleading choristers like Peggy Noonan, telling Cheney and Noonan’s readers that Trump really doesn’t represent many people and is fading quickly.
There isn’t much evidence of this and, in any case, it should not be counted upon in the face of Joe Biden’s crumbling regime.
Black went on to gush about the cultish status Trump currently occupies in the Republican Party: "Long before serious consideration needs to be given to the next presidential nominee, however, Trump will flex his muscles in the midterm elections next year. He will demonstrate that he is the only person in the country for whom 50,000 Americans will stand outdoors in raw weather to wait for the chance to see and listen to him."
In his June 2 column, Black once again tried to justify the Capitol riot and blame it on anyone else but Trump, as part of a rant against fellow conservative George Will because he likened the riot to 9/11:
On Jan. 6 of this year, some members of a crowd of over 200,000, attending an address by President Trump who detailed the questionable aspects of the apparent result of the presidential election marched on to the U.S. Capitol and some hundreds of them penetrated the building and caused relatively minor damage to it.
Five people died, but only one, a Trump supporter, died of unnatural causes shot in the neck by a still unidentified Capitol Police officer.
There were many vivid photographs of the occasion including the spectacle of some of America’s leading legislators hiding under their desks wearing tinfoil protective gear.
In their desperation to represent the episode as an attempt by the outgoing president to incite an insurrection, (which requires taking over the armed forces, police, and media outlets as happens in countries that have coups d’état), the media falsely represented the death of one Capitol policeman as a result of having been beaten over the head by Trump supporters with a fire extinguisher, a complete fabrication.
Legislative buildings are attacked fairly often, as in Paris in 1934; smashing into some of the world’s most famous buildings with hijacked airliners has only happened once.
Trump did not incite anything, except a peaceful demonstration after a very questionable election result. None of the 18 lawsuits that directly challenged the constitutional or legal integrity of the vote or the vote-counting system were adjudicated.
Black seems to have forgotten that Trump also said, "We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore." But Black has some more history to rewrite:
The 2020 election, next to that of 1876 which was resolved by an agreement between the candidates after a partisan vote in a congressional commission, was the most dubious presidential result in American history.
The real issue here is that the Trump-haters, like George Will, want to charge Trump falsely with seeking an insurrection after losing an unexceptionable election, when he was merely expressing the anger of his partisans over a dubious vote-counting process, aggravated by the abdication of the judiciary from its constitutional co-equal role with the legislative and executive branches.
A man of Will’s influence has an ethical and professional obligation to avoid the willful propagation of defamatory nonsense. He said on the same program that for the first time in American history many members of Congress are afraid of their own voters.
They were elected because those same voters agreed with what they said: they all found Trump the preferable candidate.
Black then ventured into outright lying:
A presidential election result that was highly questionable, despite the frenzied efforts of an air-tight media pretense that all the late drops of unverifiable heavy Biden votes in a few key states were squeaky clean, and which the judicial system at every level refuses to judge for process reasons (a divided Wisconsin Supreme Court said the challenge in that state had to start at the lower courts and work up impossible given those deadlines), naturally leaves the 75 million voters who supported the ostensibly losing candidate upset. That they would demonstrate is understandable, and when the speaker of the House and mayor of Washington refused the capitol police chief’s request for reinforcements, some hooliganism was predictable.
There were no "late drops of unverifiable heavy Biden votes in a few key states." Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House Black is trying to impugn without using her name, is not in charge of the Capitol police and. therefore, could not have blocked any request for reinforcements during the riot. And , again, the Defense Department, not the mayor, delayed deployment of National Guard troops to quell the riot.
Sucking up to Trump ... and Nixon, too
Black spent part of his July 8 column complaining that historians ranked Trump's presidency too low:
President Trump’s status at number 41 is utterly nonsensical.
His achievements in reducing illegal immigration by 95%, eliminating unemployment, generating higher percentage income gains in the lowest rather than in the highest income brackets, solid advances in Mideast peace, taming North Korea, and shaping up the NATO alliance will eventually be seen as far more important than stylistic infelicities when the current tide of partisan zeal and snobbery has ebbed.
He then declared Trump would be in his second tier of presidents, which he deemed "above average."
Black followed up in his July 29 column, complaining that reporter Carl Bernstein criticized Trump's presidency:
This past Sunday, Bernstein solemnly asserted to the porcine CNN Trump-hater Brian Shelter, that Trump is "an American war criminal operating within his own country," and that "when we’re talking about Trump, we’re obviously talking about a kind of delusional madness."
On a gentle probing from Shelter, Bernstein elaborated that his status as a war criminal consists of his "crimes against humanity" which "he has perpetrated upon our people, including the tens of thousands of people who died because of his homicidal negligence in the pandemic."
Naturally, the fact that Trump probably saved millions of lives around the world with his facilitation of an early vaccine went unmentioned and his homicidal contact was not remotely identified.
Bernstein continued, saying Trump’s "actions in terms of fomenting a coup in which to hold onto office and which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has now compared . . . to Hitter . . . to burnishers, to the Recasted fire."
This is unspeakable and demented nonsense; certainly the chairman of the Joint Chiefs should be fired.
But Trump wasn't the only ex-president whose reputation Black wants to rehabilitate. He wrote of Richard Nixon in his July 8 column:
Gradually, as cant and emotionalism subside, historians take note of the fact that there is still no conclusive evidence that Nixon himself broke any laws, though some people in his entourage did.
And on revisiting his presidency, each year the Watergate controversy will be less important in comparison with his achievements in normalizing relations with China, negotiating and signing the greatest arms control agreement in history with the Soviet Union, extracting the United States from the Vietnam War while maintaining a non-Communist government in Saigon.
Nixon also worked to end school segregation while avoiding the bussing of tens of millions of schoolchildren out of their neighborhoods as the courts had ordered, founded the Environmental Protection Agency (ERA), ended the draft, and ended the violent demonstrations that plagued the country relentlessly in the last year of his predecessor Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.
This record will eventually put Nixon in the top 15 presidents, up from 31 in this survey, and about 40th in 2001.
Black placed Nixon in his highest tier of presidents that he deemed "unusually capable." Meanwhile, in his July 29 column, Black demanded that Nixon receive "balanced historical treatment":
He must, of course, take principal responsibility for the disgrace and embarrassment of Watergate; he permitted, and at times encouraged, a tawdry atmosphere within the White House in which legalities were often treated a bit casually and Nixon rather self-servingly applied the Truman-Eisenhower latitudinarian version of national interest and the president’s practically unlimited right to define it.
These were terrible tactical errors and no one can deny that Nixon paid heavily for them.
But against that, and despite the fact that he was the first president since Zachary Taylor in 1848 to take office with neither house of Congress in the hands of his own party, Nixon enjoyed one of the most successful single terms in the history of the U.S. presidency.
He extracted the United States from the Vietnam War while maintaining a non-Communist government in Saigon which would have had a chance of survival if the Watergate crisis had not prevented him from resuming aerial bombardment of the North when that country, as had been expected, violated the peace agreement and resumed its invasion of the South.
These are the reasons, and not any minor political skulduggery, that President Nixon was reelected by 18 million votes in 1972, a plurality that has not been approached in the subsequent half-century even though the electorate has grown steadily larger.
He then attacked Bernstein and his former journalistic partner Bob Woodward, complaining that "the absurdly antagonistic and muckraking treatment that they have frequently inflicted on some of Nixon’s successors must reflect on the credibility of their coverage of the Watergate affair that so durably influenced public and international opinion about Nixon," dismissing most of what they got from "Deep Throat" -- later revealed to be FBI official Mark Felt -- as nothing more than "malicious gossip prompted by the source’s failure to be elevated to succeed J. Edgar Hoover as director of the FBI."
Black is so pro-Trump -- and so detached from reality -- that, in between the two above columns, his July 19 column actually insisted that Trump could be the "candidate of calm and moderation":
The political scene is evolving so quickly that I presume to offer some advice to President Trump: He can now win in 2024 by being the potential candidate of calm and moderation.
The fact that the former president has come through all of this is a great personal victory and a true wonder of political staying power.
Now, as time passes, the public irritation with Trump’s bombastic behavior, of his being in the nation’s face day and night for four years, will recede and gradually be replaced by the spectacle of a comatose Biden administration, floundering and dissembling, fecklessly struggling with the various crises it has created.
There will be, soon enough, nostalgia for Trump instead and if he is wise, he can become a winning figure of comparative Olympian serenity.
Black has never actually observed Trump, has he? Still, he unsurprisingly embraced Trump's Big Lie about the election again in his Oct. 5 column:
In an election where there were more than 40 million harvested and dropped and otherwise unverifiable ballots and where, if 53,000 ballots in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona had gone for Trump instead of Biden, Trump would have won the election, suggestions of Democratic skulduggery are not the demented fabrications of the candidate whom Sullivan compares (none too favorably) to Hitler and Mussolini.
There were 19 serious lawsuits contesting the constitutional integrity of the election as opposed to individual voters complaining about the treatment of their own ballots but the judiciary, for improvised process reasons, declined to hear any of them.
The thought that the Trump campaign might have had a legitimate grievance is discounted as a complete fantasy if not a manifestation of outright insanity.
Conveniently, the disorganized, over-hyped, and rather unserious efforts of Sidney Powell (who was a public advocate and not retained by Trump) and Rudolph Giuliani made Trump’s claims of a tainted election easier to ridicule and dismiss.
The huge number of unverifiable ballots and undoubted lapses of scrutinization standards in a very narrow result in key states while the election was without significant incident in 44 of the 50 states, raises very serious questions about the integrity of the election and the vote-counting system.
Black also laughably insisted that Trump's pushing of the Big Lie has been "reasonably civil" (but has to go to ancient Rome to make it look that way):
Given the doubtful result and the judicial abdication, Trump’s response has been reasonably civil. When the majority of the Roman Senate condoned the murder of the distinguished reformers Tiberius and Gaius Gracchi in the late second century B.C., they eliminated the possibility for the republic to continue to evolve sensibly.
When the senators, by their incompetence, squandered armies and left Rome vulnerable to invaders, and generals the Senate suspected of not being malleable (Marius, Sulla, Pompey, and Caesar) repelled Rome’s enemies and acquired for themselves the loyalty of the armies that they had led successfully, the Senate surrendered the republic to political generals.
Trump, in fact, has been quite moderate in response to the questionable 2020 result and to what is now being unearthed as the politicization in 2016 of the national intelligence agencies and the FBI as they unconstitutionally assisted the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign in trying to cheat Trump out of the 2016 election.
Black completed his suck-up hat trick by absolving Trump of all blame for "the events of Jan. 6":
Biden is a failure and the Bidenization of America is a disaster.
The phenomenon of wokeness and the self-loathing of America are fraudulent, and the indulgence of them is disgusting. Apart from calling for a large peaceful protest, Trump had nothing to do with the events of Jan. 6 and certainly nothing to do with any law-breaking at the U.S. Capitol.
The attempt to defame Trump as a putschist and hype Jan. 6 as a traumatizing event on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001, or Pearl Harbor is a total failure.
Finally, Black invoked "the Russian collusion smear, the abuse of the impeachment process, the espionage and defamation conducted against one candidate with the imprimatur of the national intelligence and federal police, the influence-peddling of the Biden family, the attempted vote-rigging in 2020" to declare: "Donald Trump was the chief victim, and with all his failings, nothing is more natural than that he should lead the forces of responsible opposition to almost all the damage to the American political system that Peggy Noonan, Andrew Sullivan, and Robert Kagan all esteemed people have mindlessly cheered and promoted these last five years."
Trump has more than demonstrated himself to be anything but a "responsible" leader, but Black is too busy sucking up to notice.
Gotta keep earning that pardon, eh, Conrad?
Black has been opining about Russia lately, and, uh, that hasn't aged too well. In his Jan. 25 column, Black endorsed President Biden's misspeaking about a "minor incursion" to argue in favor of appeasing Vladimir Putin and Russia by letting him have a piece of Ukraine:
It is not unreasonable for Russia to have reservations about the complete sovereign independence of Ukraine; nor is it unreasonable for the West to consider Russian pretensions to having a right of veto over which countries may join NATO to be intolerable.
It is likely that substantial numbers of Russian Ukrainians would prefer to be Russian rather than Ukrainian. The complexity of Ukraine's current status, including its poor performance at self-government, is mirrored by the complexity of the Western world's responses to it.
In this respect, Biden's mumbled confusion about invasions and incursions is plausible, though such reflections are usually formulated carefully and delivered in secrecy to the appropriate parties.
Putin has some right to seek to alter the status quo, but he has no right to threaten the entire Ukraine. The best settlement of this problem though at the moment no one is in sight who has the stature to lead the intricate discussions that would be necessary to achieve it would include the following elements: a referendum could be conducted by international authorities of unquestionable integrity in the heavily Russian districts contiguous to Russia on the question of whether the inhabitants would prefer to reside in Russia or Ukraine.
Those heavily Russian areas that wish to do so could join Russia over a one year period in which those who wish to remain in Ukraine would be facilitated in relocating within its new boundaries. Russia would accept, even tacitly, that it has no standing to comment on what countries are in NATO. Ukraine would become eligible for NATO and EU membership if it shaped itself up to a civilized standard of democratic self-administration.
Black devoted his Feb. 7 column to scoffing at the notion that Putin would actually invade Ukraine:
If Putin intended to invade Ukraine he would do so as he did with Crimea in 2008 and attempt to achieve some element of surprise. Instead he has made an international public spectacle of amassing six to 10 divisions on the Ukraine border, which every informed person in the world knows is inadequate to defeat and dominate a resistant country of 40 million people.
This is theater: Russia pretends to threaten to be going to war; America pretends to react strongly, the NATO allies send forces to neighboring countries that are not under threat while asserting that they will on no account deploy forces into Ukraine, but will apply sanctions to Russia; some even propose preemptive sanctions against Russia although it has not actually done anything objectionable. (Russia could never be more than moderately inconvenienced by sanctions, especially if China and Germany ignore them.)
The president of Ukraine says a Russian invasion is not imminent.
Biden knows that Russia is not likely to invade, and he may reason that the reiteration of the NATO position that Ukraine is not now acceptable in NATO can be seized by Putin as a tactical victory, while Biden can claim to have been a forceful defender of the national and alliance interest and of the rights of Ukraine as an underdog nation struggling to become a functioning national democracy, as the tension subsides.
Putin may even be astute enough to know that this is all that could raise Biden's standing among his countrymen and prevent the landslide in favor of the harder-line Trump Republicans, with or without Donald Trump himself.
He may even be astute enough to know that an appreciable number of Republicans could embrace, and some audibly have embraced, paleoconservative Republican isolationism, and have attacked any concept of helping defend Ukraine as asinine George W. Bush Iraq-style open-ended warmongering.
If Russia can be granted an unvexed relationship with the Russian minorities in neighboring countries, even if some borders have to be redrawn, conciliated respectfully but deterred effectively from traditional Russian expansionism and attracted instead by solidarity with the West in the front rank of western nations with such eminent comparative newcomers as Japan, India, and even Germany, the preeminence of the West, as long as we act sensibly and deserve the leadership of the world, will be relatively secure, and we can make arrangements with China from a position of strength.
That's not the way any of that turned out. Nope, didn't age well at all. So much so, in fact, that Black hasn't written a column for Newsmax since.