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A devilish deal between the White House and Wall Street

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

It began with Donald Trump's racist tweets demanding that four Democratic congresswomen - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar -- "go back" to the "crime-infested places from which they came."

All four women are American citizens, and only one, Omar, was born overseas.

Last week, at a rally in North Carolina, Trump continued his attack, especially on Omar. In response, the crowd chanted: "Send her back!"

The relevant question is not whether Trump is a racist. Of course he is. Or whether he's going to continue bashing these members of Congress, who fill all his demonization boxes: Democrats, females, people of color, a Muslim. Of course he will.

The real question is whether the people bankrolling Trump and the Republican Party are going to stop this rot before it consumes the politics of 2020, and perhaps more.

Early signs are not encouraging. Just before Trump's North Carolina rally, the Republican National Committee released an ad attacking the "Squad," as the four congresswomen have become known.

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The ad opens with a clip of Ocasio-Cortez referring to migrant detention facilities as "concentration camps," then saying "'Never again' means something," referring to lessons from the Holocaust. This is followed by a clip from a 2018 primary debate where she asks her opponent, Joe Crowley, why he was willing to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, "fascist" but not to call for its elimination.

It then cuts to Tlaib saying she agrees with Ocasio-Cortez's "concentration camp" phrase, and to Pressley saying: "You will see the light. And if you don't, we will bring the fire." There follows footage of an attack on an ICE facility in Washington state, showing a burned car, and a facility in Colorado where an American flag was replaced with the flag of Mexico.

It's profoundly misleading. The clips are all taken out of context. Pressley's reference to "fire" was part of a statement calling for a humane system and noting that positive change happens either because people see the light or feel the fire.

Who is funding this? Much of the money that's flowing into Republican coffers is coming from the same place it's always come from: Wall Street.

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