The Huge Trump Opposition Research File on Bernie

(This is not the actual file.)

I really, really, wanted to take a break from politics this week. I’d rather be writing about flowers and butterflies and HeroRATs and inspirational people. But I’m writing with a sense of urgency.

After watching the Democrats, led by the brilliant Adam Schiff, weave a compelling case for the President’s guilt—and knowing the impeachment trial will probably result in acquittal—I feel even more strongly that the Democrats must present a unified front if they have any chance of defeating Trump and saving our democracy. 

In that regard, Bernie is really, really getting on my nerves and making me worry that he’s increasing the likelihood of a Trump victory. And I hope that the press, which did a poor job of focusing on Hillary’s “damn emails” while giving Trump and his background a pass, will start looking into Bernie’s past.  

A lot of it ain’t pretty. In fact, I fear that if he’s the nominee, we’re in for a disaster that could even help the Republicans retake the House.

As I try to practice lovingkindness, I don’t wish Bernie ill. I wish him a long, healthy, productive life—back in Vermont. To me, he has forfeited his right to be the Democratic nominee by once again slashing and burning his competition. 

I acknowledge that he’s attracted young people to politics with the Democratic Socialist ideas he has consistently espoused. He probably has the most devoted core of followers of any of the Democratic nominees. 

Unfortunately, a portion of the “Bernie Bros” are vindictive, misogynistic young men with so much anger that they have been compared to Trump’s adoring fans. 

And though they seem willing to follow Bernie anywhere, they didn’t listen to him when he called for them to vote for Hillary in 2016 (after he did what may have been permanent damage to her electability during the primaries). Instead, many of them voted for the totally unqualified Jill Stein, thereby helping Trump win.

Why am I so upset with Bernie? Because at a time when we need all the Democratic nominees united against Trump, he’s attacking them one by one. While the kerfuffle over whether he told Elizabeth Warren that a woman couldn’t be elected got a lot of play, the fact that his canvassers were badmouthing her door-to-door as an “elitist” received little attention.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Image courtesy of

And now it’s Biden. As Paul Krugman wrote in The New York Times, 

“While the news media has been focused on the ‘spat’ between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, something much more serious has been taking place between the Sanders campaign and Joe Biden. 

“Not to sugarcoat it: The Sanders campaign has flat-out lied about things Biden said in 2018 about Social Security, and it has refused to admit the falsehood.

“This is bad; it is, indeed, almost Trumpian. The last thing we need is another president who demonizes and lies about anyone who disagrees with him, and can’t admit ever being wrong. Biden deserves an apology, now, and Sanders probably needs to find better aides.” (Emphases mine throughout.)

He’s also attacking Biden on his racial record, telling South Carolina voters, where Biden has a strong lead among African-Americans, that Biden has betrayed them.

I know, I know. Politics ain’t beanbag. And before I go more deeply into Bernie’s past, I agree that we have to give people credit for changing their positions.

Bernie has changed some of his, but he doesn’t give such leeway to others; he’s still castigating those who voted for the Iraq War, insisting his opposition alone makes him the candidate with the best judgment. 

As I note subsequently, he’s taken some highly questionable positions on international affairs in the past.

And when Trump has the megaphone, Bernie’s record, I believe, would make him more vulnerable than any other nominee. That’s a risk I don’t think our country can bear.

Writing in The Guardian, Geoffrey Kabaservice begins by saying that although his own politics are center-right, he has a “strange liking” for Bernie—for his authenticity, among other things. 

Kabaservice points out that the Democratic Socialism that would have been unthinkable not long ago is now as popular as capitalism among those ages 18-39, which explains Bernie’s popularity with young people. (If you’re struggling financially, free college tuition and college loan forgiveness sound quite attractive.)

But, the author also points out about Sanders: 

“The gentle treatment he received in 2016 from the media and the Hillary Clinton campaign (which ran few negative television or media ads against him) means that many Democratic voters haven’t yet learned about the distinctly non-progressive positions he has taken on certain issues throughout his senatorial career.”

What are some of those positions? To appeal to the social conservatives in his home state of Vermont, a largely white, older, pro-hunting population, Bernie has… 

—Long opposed gun safety legislation, voting against the Brady bill and legislation to make gun manufacturers accountable for their products’ destructiveness;

—Voted for the “Charleston loophole” by which the killer of nine African Americans in a South Carolina church obtained his weapon;

—Opposed gay marriage until at least 2006;

—Supported the 1994 crime bill that led to mass incarcerations of African Americans;

—Opposed various reforms to assist immigrants on the grounds that they would negatively affect American workers.

And his legislative accomplishments are thin at best, in large part because of his “go-it-alone approach.” In 2018, he got the least number of bills out of committee and to the floor (1 bill).

 Similarly, only 1 of his 31 bills and resolutions had a cosponsor from a different party. The Lugar Center’s Bipartisanship Index placed him last among all Senators for the past two Congresses.

So the man sets forth an incredibly ambitious agenda, and tells us that he’ll be able to pass it because of the “political revolution” he’s inspiring.

But his track record doesn’t indicate he’s got the temperament or relationships to do the hard work of enacting such transformative legislation.

Kabaservice calls Bernie’s chances of actually becoming President “close to nil.” He elaborates:

“I say this because in 2016 I got a glimpse of the Republican party’s opposition research book on Sanders, which was so massive it had to be transported on a cart. The Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald, who got to see some of its contents, declared that ‘it was brutal…’”

Of course, I had to check Eichenwald’s 2016 article to see what was so damning.

It’s worth reading this piece because Eichenwald is describing “The Myths Democrats Swallowed That Cost Them the Presidential Election.”

Myth 1 is that the Democratic National Committee was all-powerful and engineered Hillary’s nomination by being unfair to Bernie. Eichenwald factually demolishes this premise and its implications.

Myth 2: That Sanders Would Have Won Against Trump

“I have seen the opposition book assembled by Republicans [against Sanders] and it was brutal. The Republicans would have torn him apart. And while Sanders supporters might delude themselves into believing that they could have defended him against all of this, there is a name for politicians who play defense all the time: losers.”

That comment hit me hard, as we know that one thing Trump and his minions are very good at is going on the attack. I could just picture him at his rallies, dropping one after another of the morsels that Eichenwald described.

“Here are a few tastes of what was in store for Sanders, straight out of the Republican playbook: He thinks rape is A-OK. In 1972, when he was 31, Sanders wrote a fictitious essay in which he described a woman enjoying being raped by three men. 

“Yes, there is an explanation for it—a long, complicated one, just like the one that would make clear why the Clinton emails story was nonsense. And we all know how well that worked out.

“Then there’s the fact that Sanders was on unemployment until his mid-30s, and that he stole electricity from a neighbor after failing to pay his bills, and that he co-sponsored a bill to ship Vermont’s nuclear waste to a poor Hispanic community in Texas, where it could be dumped.

“You can just see the words ‘environmental racist’ on Republican billboards. And if you can’t, I already did. They were in the Republican opposition research book as a proposal on how to frame the nuclear waste issue.

“Also on the list: Sanders violated campaign finance laws, criticized Clinton for supporting the 1994 crime bill that he voted for, and he voted against the Amber Alert system” [to alert the public to help when a child has been abducted]. 

Eichenwald states that Sanders is also vulnerable for his advocacy of universal health care (now “Medicare for All”) because it was tried in Vermont and failed due to excessive costs.

“Worst of all, the Republicans also had video of Sanders at a 1985 rally thrown by the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua where half a million people chanted, ‘Here, there, everywhere/the Yankee will die,’ while President Daniel Ortega condemned ‘state terrorism’ by America. Sanders said, on camera, supporting the Sandinistas was ‘patriotic.’

Eichenwald reported that he knew there were at least four other “damning” videos  but didn’t know their content. The folder holding the “oppo“ research was nearly two feet thick.

One piece called Bernie a communist who had ties to Castro, which Eichenwald says would automatically have resulted in the loss of Florida if he were the nominee.

“In other words, the belief that Sanders would have walked into the White House based on polls taken before anyone really attacked him is a delusion built on a scaffolding of political ignorance.”

And this stuff doesn’t even take into account all that the Trump crowd will make up about Bernie out of whole cloth. Fake news, doctored videos. None of it’s fair, none of it’s the way we want our politics to work, but we know it will happen. 

Sure, the Republicans will dig up dirt and make up stories about whoever is the Democratic nominee. I have my worries that if it’s Biden, the fake corruption involving Ukraine and his son will dominate the campaign.

But I find it telling that even as Trump is pushing those Biden conspiracy theories, he’s also encouraging the “Bernie as victim of the Democratic establishment” motif. He’d love to run against Bernie. If Bernie isn’t the nominee, Trump’s faux sympathy may win points, and votes, from disgruntled Bernie Bros in 2020, just as it did in 2016. 

In the meantime, I think every thoughtful person trying to decide who can best beat Trump—and be as effective a President as anyone can be in these polarized times—needs to consider what we really know about these candidates. 

And the press needs to do its job!!


36 thoughts on “The Huge Trump Opposition Research File on Bernie

  1. Really incisive article, Annie. Lots of parallels with the UK where Labour infighting contributed to the huge Conservative election win. Similarly, too few lessons seem to have been learned this time, with the same tired ideological battles being fought in the Labour leadership contest whilst no effective opposition is provided. Grim. Nevertheless, the tide will turn 😁

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Matthew. I know you and your compatriots have Brexit and Boris Johnson. Some have said you’re worse off than we are because Trump won’t be here forever, but the implications of Brexit will continue to unfold. But the Republicans’ willingness to let Trump shred our Constitution is pretty scary. Still, yes: we must look for the time when the tide turns. Cheers!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The press has not done its job in quite awhile now. Remember during the 2016 Republican primary when Trump got the softball treatment (probably because it figured he would be easy to beat)? They didn’t turn on him until after the nomination.

    As you say, Bernie has been getting the softball treatment now. IMHO he has been a fringe character for years – who has been a Democrat for probably less time than Trump has been a Republican.
    Actually have there been any tough stories on anyone in the Democratic field? If any start coming it will be for the same reason you were motivated to write this rather than any kind of journalistic curiosity.

    I should stop here, but am still puzzled about your description of Adam Schiff as “brilliant.” Not seeing it, personally. It seems from here that he has done an effective job of turning off everyone not already in the”Get Trump” camp. A House process done largely in secret and guaranteed to make it look like a political hit job even if it wasn’t, and doing his best to alienate the entire Senate, including Republicans like Susan Collins who are no friends of Trump. He is prosecuting a case for impeachment, but who in the real world is paying attention? I say he has turned this into a botch job.


    1. There have been tough stories on Buttigieg, Biden, Bloomberg, and Warren—and there was the “Amy is a bully” story, which my Minnesotan friend tells me was overblown.

      Alas, you should have stopped there, while you were assuming your delightful regal mantle. But of course, you couldn’t. Unfortunately, you and I—two well-meaning people—can view the same events and reach diametrically opposed positions. I heard several Constitutional lawyers comment on the brilliant way Schiff led us through the damning story that demonstrates Trump’s lawlessness. But instead of focusing on the fact patterns and appropriate references to the framers, the Republicans’ choose to place all their energy on one mocking remark and one reference from CNN—out of days of high-minded discussions. And Susan Collins—who has teased about her independence but failed to demonstrate it? She needs the Trump vote because she’s alienated so many others, so she cries foul instead of doing her job.
      I can’t see how anyone can view this trial as legitimate when the Republicans refuse to allow documents and witnesses. They have allowed this shameless man to shred our Constitution.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What I can say is that I have sent this along to the MANY Bernie supporters I know. Eye-opening and so very disheartening. Thanks, as always, for bringing the insight. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Shiff is both brilliant and a man of integrity and decency.
    I don’t think Bernie will be the nominee, but if democrats don’t vote for whoever is, trump will not only win, but he and the republicans and the cult base will preen and strut over it for four more years. They’ll never give it a rest.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with both your points. My reason for writing this is that I think Bernie is the most easily beatable by trump. In my small arena, I am doing what I can to forestall that possibility.
      I can’t even imagine how bad things can get if trump is re-elected.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m still stuck back on your word, Trumpian…..that’s a new one to me. I would have thought Bernie Sanders was out of the running after his heart attack, he’s too old IMO, and you know how 4 years in the white house can age even the younger presidents. So I’m surprised he’s still hanging in there in the polls. Of course he’s captured the student vote with the free tuition promise. From what I saw of the impeachment proceedings, I thought Adam Schiff did a credible job at getting the points across, but it probably won’t make a difference anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have certainly done your homework! Much of this is news to me … being largely a democratic socialist myself, I have long liked Bernie, though my choice in 2016 was Hillary. Truth is, though … if Bernie becomes the nominee, I will vote for him, and I will actively encourage all others to vote for him, because … Herr Trump is well on his way to becoming the first dictator of the United States, and if he’s given another 4-year term, we may well have lost the opportunity to oust him. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Although I don’t consider myself a democratic socialist, my thinking was strongly influenced by my grandfather, who was. I am deeply concerned about the terrible income inequality in the US today, which I find both shameful and unsustainable. And of course I will support whoever the Democratic nominee is—no question. But I think the path to beating trump, which is the imperative, is in following the 2018 example. We elected some terrific women who can move our country forward. We need a coalition that unites those who put them in office while expanding the electorate. I’m still hopeful we can do that. I just see Bernie as the weakest player in that scenario—and I was trying to ward off buyer’s remorse among those who, like you, weren’t aware of how easily the Republicans can destroy him. I also find the misogyny in so many Bernie Bro’s very concerning.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unfortunately, there is a huge propaganda machine at work … Trump’s campaign can easily afford it, since all the big money donors belong to him, plus he no doubt has the help of his buddy Vladimir again. They are going to use every trick in the book to smear the three top candidates, and the eventual nominee. Also unfortunately, a vast majority of people will believe what they hear. Sigh. That’s why it’s so imperative that we keep writing, keep peeling back the layers as you have done, and as I try to do. There’s too much at stake not to.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you, Annie. Just something about he man I never liked–the finger pointing, the righteous certainty. I grew out of my youthful socialism 70 years ago and am suspicious of they who haven’t. There, I’ve used the “word” of the year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment, Noel. I think “finger pointing and righteous certainty” are spot on. I’ll add those to the rest of the sorry picture of why “the Bern” appears to me unelectable.


  8. You’re much more of an expert on Bernie than I am, Annie, but I agree with you on a lot of points. I really do think his ideas are much further “left” than the majority of he American public is, and that he may have a greater chance of losing to Trump than most of the other Democrats–plus, he isn’t a member of the Democratic party! He’s a self-described democratic socialist, which I don’t think will help him, since the Republicans have been calling the Democratic candidate “socialist” over the past many elections. I don’t totally like the idea or “Medicare for all” as he describes it. Mostly, I don’t like his no-compromise attitude. Although Elizabeth Warren seems to have a similar platform, she did allow that she realizes that Medicare for all couldn’t be implemented right away and would, at best, require a transition period of years (and she was criticized for that). It actually ,made me feel more receptive to her. “Compromise” is not a four-letter word for me. I still favor moderates like Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, and maybe Pete Buttegieg.

    Despite all of the above, if Bernie’s the nominee, I’ll vote for him in a minute over Trump.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! We are basically in agreement. And I fervently hope that all Democrats—and other voters concerned about our democracy—will agree that we must set aside our personal choices and vote for whoever becomes the Democratic nominee.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for the eye-opening post, Annie. I knew that Bernie was anti-gun-control, but most of the other points you made were news to me. Like you, I’ll vote for whoever the Democrats nominate, but Bernie’s baggage does indeed seem to be too heavy to carry him into the White House. Here’s hoping that an electable Dem gets the nod and sends Trump packing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Annie, while I agree with you that Bernie is not perfect (who is?) most of the controversy stems from his young supporters desperate for change. Their passion does upset the establishment Dems and lead to fracturing with the party. This could only serve to benefit the Republicans, who are laughing all the way to another win!

    I found this timely debate on a Quora forum: Will Bernie Bros cost the Democrat the 2020 election if it’s not Bernie Sanders?

    There are pros & cons to both sides, I’d like your opinion if you care to comment:

    Have a lovely day ❤


    1. Maddie—
      I get why so many young people are enthusiastic for Bernie. But I expect more from thoughtful young voters than dismissing all the other candidates when they know —or should know—that trump and the Republican Party are endangering our country and their futures in ways that none of the Democratic candidates would ever do. Are Bernie devotees equally concerned about the Senate and the House? Or are they so convinced that Bernie—whose track record of accomplishments in the Senate is very meager—can so successfully deliver on his political revolution that he will automatically bring a wave of Democrats with him? And having done so, he will convince those Dems who know they have to compromise because they are in purple and red districts that no—no compromise anymore because the revolution changed the minds of millions of people? Sorry; I just don’t see that scenario working.

      Bernie has promised he will do his best to defeat trump if he’s not the nominee. I hope if that’s the case that his devoted followers will listen to him this time. Four more years of trump will mean not only the end of democracy, but also even further danger to the viability of our planet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would have to agree with your overall assessment. I’m 26 and have become a bit more open minded and pragmatic since the last election. I too was idealistic and uncompromising. At the time little was known about Trump, many of my friends and I boycotted the election b/c the DNC had cheated Bernie so flagrantly, corruption from the Democratic party left a bitter taste. Hopefully Bernie Bros understand the magnitude of this upcoming election, it’s imperative that oligarch Trump be removed for the sake of the planet!
        With that being said, I can see how loyal and stubborn young ppl can be, breaks my heart but I don’t see many progressives siding with an establishment candidate if Bernie gets cheated again. Most will sit it out despite Trump winning. Yes young ppl can be spiteful, vengeful, obstinate… any surprise?
        These are troubling times in America, but this too shall pass.
        My latest post summarized the deep seated corruption within our political system, and how many are committed to changing it. Won’t be easy but I’m sure we’ll get there:

        God help us all. ❤


      2. Maddie— I know Bernie and Co have been crying foul one way or another for years. If you haven’t read the 2016 Kurt Eichenwald article in Newsweek (links appear in both my posts about Bernie), I encourage you to do so.

        And I respectfully suggest that if you’re trying to prove that the Democrats are “complicit behind the scenes,” you find more reliable sources than Fox’s right-wing star, Tucker Carlson. As he is a trump devotee, to me his coming to Bernie’s defense is more solid evidence that trump would like nothing better than to run against Bernie, whom he will put on the defense as a socialist with a radical background from Day One.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks, I’ll read Mr Eichenwald’s article this evening and give my opinion. I know many on the left are criticizing Bernie for appearing on alt right Fox News. Yes the optics look bad, but Bernie wanted to unite the disaffected right along with socialist left so the system works for all the people. Overall the reception is positive as many on the right agree with Bernie’s message. Will that convert to votes I’m not so sure, but it can’t hurt.
        I think we can both agree that we have no control over who the DNC choose to pick as the nominee. For me it’s Blue no matter who, just like in ’08 we needed to get the Republican warmonger out of office. My big concern is the internal fracturing and infighting within the Democratic party will hand the election over to Trump. It’s hard to convince voters to stand behind a candidate whom the people did not choose, but rather installed by the DNC b/c they are beholden to the donor class of billionaires and corporate America just like the Republicans are. Difference is Republicans are honest about their loyalty to the rich, Dems still pretend they are fighting for the people even though they are pushing for a centrist establishment puppet like Buttigieg or a billionaire oligarch like Bloomberg. This will not end well for us if the DNC keep denying the will of the people. 2016 proved it.


      4. Hi Annie,

        After reading Mr. Eichenwald’s article, I would have to agree. Those who did not vote for Hillary shouldn’t complain about Trump. I made a conscious decision to boycott the farcical/ sham election of 2016, and I accept responsibility for Trump being in office. I’m certainly not happy that we let a monster occupy the highest office in the land, but I accept the outcome and now focus fully on how to best win!
        If you notice, I hardly ever blog about Trump b/c he’s simply not worth my attention. I choose to focus on raising awareness and contributing to Bernie’s campaign b/c I believe he is the best candidate to defeat Trump. I have overwhelming evidence to back up my statement. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I respect that. Do your own research and make the best decision from available data. Listen to opposing POVs and weigh the pros and cons. Then take action. I choose Bernie, whether he’ll end up being the nominee or not is not up to me. But I’ll do everything in my power to spread awareness and support the best Democratic candidate (in my opinion).

        As far as the DNC rigging the election in Hillary’s favor, one word: superdelegates.

        On DNC rigging the debates – Donna Brazile admitted as much:

        The WikiLeaks data dump exposed Clinton foundation’s pay for play schemes and 100s millions in donations from Saudi Arabia, China and Russia.

        When there’s smoke, there’s fire.

        I don’t necessarily disagree with Mr. Eichenwald, but I notice he cherry picks his facts to fit his narrative. That’s his prerogative, but I think he may be missing the bigger picture. Hillary most certainly lost b/c she was disliked by the public and was deemed untrustworthy. Bernie on the other hand is very popular, likeable, and honorable. He’s been very consistent with his message over the years, is willing to fight for the American people ahead of special interests and personal gain. That’s good enough for me.
        To quote Mr. Eichenwald :”Could Sanders still have won? Well, Trump won, so anything is possible.”

        And finally:


      5. Maddie:

        I’m not sure why your comment was held for moderation since we’ve been communicating. I have been beset by numerous tech gremlins of late, and this seems to be another.

        First—Congratulations on Bernie’s win last night. It is clear that he benefits from the split vote among moderate progressives.

        I admire your passion and thoughtfulness, but as I said in my posts, I’ve had my say re: Bernie, and it’s time for me to move on.

        The fact that you and I agree that we will each support whoever the nominee is remains the most important part of this dialogue and a good place to conclude.

        I welcome your comments on subsequent posts.


        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yes Bernie’s in the lead (barely), I’m not celebrating yet. There plenty of evidence from the Ohio caucus of vote flipping and miscounting/ drop votes. The Democratic party leaders want to manipulate the results so Bernie retains a very slim lead. He should be trouncing the other candidates, as shown by the number of popular votes, but the delegates “mysteriously” swing to the other candidates? Why is this happening?
        Corporate Democrats who control the DNC are plotting to install Bloomberg as a last minute dark horse, bypassing primaries. DNC’s excuse will be that we need a viable candidate to oppose Trump, and they’re dissatisfied with the current selection. Citizens who voted in the primaries thinking their votes matter are going to be sorely disappointed.
        Conspiracy theory you say? Perhaps…. just watch how this plays out in the coming months.


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