Neither the news that the President of the United State paid off a porn star to hush up their love affair, nor the passing of his One-Year Anniversary in office were the dominant news stories this week.
Those would be the government shutdown for 3 days over the issue of immigration, and revelations of a potential Constitutional crisis last June.
Furious at having to cancel his trip to Mar A Lago in order to appear as if he gave a damn about the shutdown crisis he created, Trump lashed out at Democrats in general and their Senate leader Charles Schumer in particular, in spite of being on record numerous times saying that any government shutdown has to be the fault of the sitting president.
Presumably, that holds true only for presidents not named Donald J. Trump, whose Administration is the first in history to shut down while being in control of the White House and both Houses of Congress.
A compromise was struck in The Senate and the government reopened on Monday, but Trump lost one bargaining chip to get his wall when the Senate immediately renewed the CHIPS program, providing health care for 9 million poor children for 6 years.
Trump had petulantly sat out the negotiations for ending the shutdown that kept him from his precious golf course, instead assigning his former Ghost President Steve Bannon’s bizarre young protege Steven Miller to be in charge of the Executive Branch while he held a rally in Pennsylvania. His staff was relieved to have him out of way, but they still retained the 800,000 Dreamers as hostages, who are due to be deported on March 5th if no deal is reached on a path to citizenship for these youngsters brought here as small children, raised and educated in the USA..
While there is no process in place for rounding up and deporting 800,000 people, there are many rightwing voices screaming for “detention centers” (concentration camps) and mass deportations, conjuring up disturbing images of the least pleasant time in recent history.
Since the funding agreement that reopened the government covers less than 3 weeks, we can expect to revisit this national drama very soon since Trump and the GOP show no sign of being prepared to submit the nation’s budget for this fiscal year, overdue by 4 months.
So instead of being angry and finger-pointing in Florida over the weekend, his First Anniversary found Trump angry and finger-pointing in the White House, presiding over a darkened and boarded-up government.
And there was no shortage of things over which to be angry either, starting with the Supreme Court unanimously knocking down his attempt to subvert the Clean Waters Act, Federal courts shredding his latest travel ban and ordering an end to gerrymandering in numerous states, and the increasing pressure of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion to steal the election on Trump’s behalf.
Which suits the president well on a personal basis, serving to distract the eyes of the nation from things like his Attorney General Sessions and CIA director Mike Pompeo being grilled by Mueller’s team about their knowledge of Russian collusion, his political purge of the (!) FBI, even blaming the (!) Japanese corporation Samsung for hiding 50,000 emails from “treasonous” FBI agents (those that didn’t vote for him) assigned to Robert Mueller, rumors of the forcible retirement (firing) of Deputy FBI Director McCabe because Trump accused his wife of being in league with Hillary Clinton, and the damaging revelations that his son-in-law Jared Kushner was caught lying (again) about the extent of his collusion with Russia and also mixing his own personal business sales pitches with official policy when he met with officials of the Chinese government.
This is why Kushner, the President’s Chief Political Advisor, has not been granted Top Secret Security Clearance, leaving the nation to wonder how he can advise the president while not being in the loop on Classified Information, vital knowledge for any adviser to a president.
And the week was far from over.
Small wonder Trump turned to his greatest allies in the fight for America’s sympathy, his loyal army of Kremlin-paid Russian hackers, who once again sprung into action, firing up Trump’s poorly educated base with insane lies and accusations, swallowed eagerly like trained seals gobbling up fish tossed by their handlers.
They concocted a story about a magic Republican Congressional memo that would incriminate Obama and Hillary Clinton and exonerate Trump, then spread it far and wide across the internet (#releasethememo!), resulting in a collective Ho-Hum from a shell-shocked and skeptical nation.
Reports of Mueller’s negotiations with Trump’s criminal attorneys to secure an interview with the President encountering stiff White House resistance might have resulted in Mueller issuing a subpoena compelling the President’s testimony, but Trump did a shocking about-face by showing complete disregard for his many lawyers’ health by telling reporters he is (!) eager to speak with Robert Mueller under oath, sending attorneys and White House Trump Whisperers alike into a frenzy of alternate explanations of “I would love to” and “under oath,” claiming the president “spoke hastily” (lied) and was still “weighing his options” (stalling).
Paul Manafort’s partner Rick Gates hired new lawyers who are reported to be negotiating a plea deal with Robert Mueller in exchange for his testimony, expected to remove one more degree of Kevin Bacon between Trump and Russia, another troubling turn of events for the President.
And of course there is still the backlash from Trump’s personal lawyer being caught redhanded being the conduit for a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels a month before the election to keep silent about their 11 month-long love affair in 2006. Once the payment was traced and verified, Ms. Daniels has been anything but silent, revealing one embarrassing detail after another about her numerous trysts with Trump immediately following the birth of his 5th child with his 3rd wife.
This propelled his religious (on paper, anyway) supporters on an angry crusade to either vehemently deny the love affair (fake news!), excuse it as “boys being (60 year-old) boys” or, in one particularly bizarre instance, claiming Trump was giving the porn star (!) Bible lessons to save her soul. Okaythen!
Trump was heading to Davos, Switzerland Wednesday night to attend the World Economic Forum with almost his entire cabinet on Wednesday night to get the hell out from under the landslide of bad news and incriminating innuendos, but not before another huge bombshell exploded when it was revealed Trump tried to fire Robert Mueller last June, but backed down when White House Counsel Donald McGhan threatened to resign rather that be his hatchet man, and no one else was willing to fire Mueller either. This prompted loud cries of a Nixonian Constitutional Crisis, and legislation being hastily introduced designed to protect our judicial system from the whims of an unstable autocrat.
Trump arrived at Davos (where he was lustily booed upon arrival), minus First Lady Melania, who had spent the week in a Washington hotel instead of the White House after the Stormy Daniels history broke. The leaders of the countries he called shitholes were less than eager to embrace Trump as he prepared to address the assembly on Friday to present his “America First” agenda in an international forum focused on Global Cooperation.
And that was Week #54 of the Trump Era, another loud, confusing nonstop assault on the senses of a stunned nation and a bewildered planet.