Has it only been another week? It only felt like a year.
Week #42 started with Robert Mueller delivering his first sealed criminal indictments stemming from his investigation of the Russian Collusion scandal. Was this to be the Trump Era Week we’ve all been waiting for, the beginning of the end of our national nightmare? Tearing a page out of Trump’s playbook, Mueller left us with a cliffhanger over the weekend wondering who would be arrested on Monday.
Arrested were Paul Manafort (big fish) and his partner Richard Gates (medium fish), and the stunning announcement of the secret confession and conviction for lying to the FBI of one George Papadopoulos, a key liaison between the Russians and the Trump campaign.
Papadopoulos makes the entire administration nervous, since they all denied (some under oath) knowing the guy or having any knowledge of Russian contacts, while the evidence and testimony indicates otherwise. This includes Trump being present at a meeting with Papadopoulos and Jeff Sessions when they were seriously considering that candidate Donald Trump have a meeting with Putin, an idea Sessions vetoed in a moment of lucidity. Sessions then cautioned all those at the meeting to “never speak of this again,” even taking his own advice when, under oath, he lied about everything having to do with Russia and the Trump campaign.
Another shadowy Trump operative named Carter Page also testified before Congress this week, after having casually incriminated a number of Trump officials on several television news shows. Under oath, however, he was less forthcoming, repeatedly pleading the 5th Amendment and refusing to turn over documents.
All this made for some surreal reactions in D.C.
Trump went predictably ballistic, while many Republicans went into immediate overdrive on both mainstream and social media, trying desperately to discredit Mueller and focus the narrative on their Go-To Bogeyman, Hillary Clinton, the old “I’m rubber you’re glue!” defense. They insist she’s the culprit here, and maybe even the real killer in the OJ case.
It was revealed that the infamous Steele dossier was funded in part by the Democratic National Committee, which is true to an extent. First commissioned by a wealthy Republican donor to discredit Trump’s candidacy, it attracted the attention of the FBI, which also contributed money to the research from a source they knew and trusted, then the DNC contributed in the name of opposition research during the campaign.
Mueller’s investigation, however, has spread far beyond the information in the Steel dossier, for which President Trump blames (!) his own son-in-law and Senior Political Adviser, Jared Kushner, a hapless nebbish elevated to a position miles above his abilities.
Also on Monday, Trump’s Transgender Military Ban was stopped in court, another of his legally flimsy executive orders trashed.
Tuesday the unthinkable happened, a terrorist truck attack on pedestrians in Trump’s home turf of Manhattan, killing 8 and injuring a dozen more. Trump’s reaction was to blame New York Senator Chuck Schumer for (!) “his” lax immigration policy, something George HW Bush signed into law in 1990, before Schumer became a Senator, then quickly demonized Muslims and “Obama judges” for striking down his travel bans.
Breaking the Presidential protocol of never commenting on open criminal cases, Trump bellowed about putting the accused terrorist in Guantanamo, then changed his mind and demanded the death penalty, earning criticism from New York District Attorneys who say he is putting the defendant’s right to a fair trial in jeopardy, a potential gift to his defense attorneys.
Republicans picked this chaotic week to trot out their new Tax Plan, Industrial Strength Trickle Down, with 80% of the tax breaks given to wealthy corporations and individuals, with the rest of us paying their freight again. Trump actually wanted to call it the Cut Cut Cut Tax Plan, but then someone remembered they’re supposed to be grownups.
Speaking of grownups, President Obama came up when Trump bragged about having a better rapport with Philippines President Duerte than Obama. Small wonder that Obama was not Duerte’s BFF. The man is a self-professed murderer and one of the few heads of state as crazy as Trump, and a lawless, despicable tyrant. Of course Trump is going to visit Duerte on his Asia trip, giving the man the prestige and international legitimacy that a visit by a US President bestows. Or at least it used to.