Let’s start with a little Good News/Bad News to kick off Week #80 of The Trump Era, shall we?
The Good News is that Articles of Impeachment were finally drawn up in the House of Representatives.
The Bad News? They were against (!) Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the guy in charge of the Russiagate investigation.
Like a lot of people, you’re probably thinking that President Trump is under no obligation to top last’s week Perfect Storm of horrible news, that this is not a contest, but he seemed determined to top his historic Black Monday betrayal in Helsinki and his unfathomable ally-bashing in Brussels and London. To his credit, our president sure gave it his best shot, with some able assists from both the thugs around him and those who have been cast out of his erratic orbit.
The week begins on Friday with the first of the “Cohen tapes,” this one inexplicably leaked by Trump’s own defense lawyer Rudy Giuliani, even though it was protected by attorney-client privilege.
It seems Michael Cohen was in the habit of secretly recording conversations with Trump when they were cooking up illegal deals, and this first tape to go public was a discussion of how to pay hush money to a Playboy Bunny with whom Trump had a love affair without looking like they were paying hush money to a Playboy Bunny with whom Trump had a love affair.
Turns out none of the people involved were any good at financial subterfuge and the whole world found out about this transaction and the sordid money trail involving Trump ally and publisher David J. (I kid you not) Pecker of the National Enquirer a long time ago. What this tape provides, however, is confirmation that Trump was in on it from the start, putting that plaque in the Defense Attorneys Hall of Fame further from Rudy’s grasp.
Speaking of thugs who have been cast out of Trump’s orbit, Friday was also the day jury selection began in the Paul Manifort case and Robert Mueller subpoenaed Roger Stone’s assistant, who turned out to be the celebrated “Manhattan Madam” Kristin Davis, who did prison time behind the Eliot Spitzer scandal, helping herself to a second 15 Minutes of Fame (okay, infamy).
Trump did get some Good News on Friday (which always translates to Bad News for the rest of us,) when Congress caved in to him to assist ZTE, China’s second-largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, lifting the sanctions Obama placed against them for illegally shipping U.S. products to Iran and North Korea (sure it was a crime deserving of severe sanctions, but Obama’s name was on them, so they had to go!).
Saturday found that smirking blabbermouth and former Trump operative Carter Page being named by the Meuller investigation as a Russian stooge for “collaborating and conspiring with the Russian Government against the United Sates,” alleging that Page was the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.
Speaking of the Russian government, on Saturday they demanded the immediate release of their spy Maria Butina, held without bail after being arrested for espionage against the United States in a case (so far, anyway) unrelated to the Mueller investigation. The next day it was revealed that Ms. Butina had wider contacts in the Federal Government than anyone realized, and was able to arrange meetings between The Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department with her direct superior and Russian Federation representative Alexander Torshin about U.S.-Russian economic relations.
At his golf resort in New Jersey for the weekend, Trump went on the Twitter offensive, living up to his reputation as a true Renaissance Man of Twitter for the broad scope and creativity of his mad musings, beginning with expressing his disbelief that Cohen made tapes of their conversations, “perhaps illegally” (When you hire a Michael Cohen as your attorney, “legality” is your last priority, and by New York State law, the tapes were legally made).
The president also rekindled his feud with the National Football League (which banned him for life from team ownership decades ago as “unsavory”) and its players by demanding no-pay suspensions for players who have the temerity to exercise their First Amendment rights this coming season.
Then for the hell of it Trump accused favorite Bogeymen Hillary Clinton and The Democratic National Committee of spying on his election campaign, then claimed the Carter Page subpoena to be illegal (it was not), while managing to constantly reprise his mantra, “No Collusion!” too many times to count.
Back in Washington Monday, it was obvious Trump wasn’t finished venting and needed more people to lash out at, so he announced he was considering revoking the security clearances for six ex-Obama officials who have been criticizing his disastrous presidency. He was helped by born-again Trump Stooge Senator Rand Paul, who accused ex-CIA Director John Brennan of “monetizing his security clearance” and “making millions of dollars divulging secrets to mainstream media,” a Trumpworthy bit of malicious slander.
The idea of revoking the security clearance of former agency heads is damaging to good governance and to our national security (Trump’s sweet spot) as well as yet one more assault on Freedom of Speech (another Trump specialty).
All of this was not enough to counter the negativity aimed at Trump over things like 917 imprisoned children being declared “not eligible” to be reunited with their families since their parents had been deported and no one kept track of such things as whose child is whose, professional Trump apologist Representative Trey Gowdy turning on him and throwing Trump under the bus for kowtowing to Russia, and 5 witnesses against former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manifort being granted immunity in exchange for their testimony.
Bold action was needed, and Trump was more than up to the task of creating another crisis that only he can solve so he (!!) tried to start a war with Iran with a series and AllCaps Tweets threatening them with Trumpageddon.
For psychology aficionados, he did provide several classic examples of the phenomenon “projection” (def: the transfer of one’s own desires or emotions to another person), most notably when he accused the Iranian president of using “DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH!”
When most of us open our eyes, we see the greater world around us and the people in it, whereas Trump sees only a mirror everywhere he turns. So once again, the president spent several days getting away with insane lies that would have any other president out of a job. So much for “not normalizing the crazy.”
And speaking of creating a crisis and then riding in on a white horse to “solve it” (but failing to do so), Trump directed The Department of Agriculture to provide $12 billion in bailout money to farmers falling victim to Trump’s tariff war with China, essentially pouring $12 billion worth of gasoline on the fire he started.
To avoid similar trade debacles with Europe, Trump caved in to the European Union later in the week when he backed off his tariff threats in trade talks with EU President Jeanne-Claude Juncker, once again acting the kitten in private after roaring like a lion in public.
Also on Monday, an insight was gained as to why First Daughter Ivanka Trump Kushner went out of business, closing her namesake fashion line after major retailers dropped her products like a hot stone. It was revealed that she sat on the board of directors of a bank that loaned tens of millions of dollars to her father, 2 of her brothers and the Trump Organization, possibly the biggest set of deadbeats to ever fill out falsified loan applications.
Trump also went ballistic on his aides because Melania’s TV on Air Force One had been tuned into Trump’s nemesis and favorite target CNN on the flight from New Jersey, and he directed his staff to have only (his unofficial propaganda arm) Fox News broadcast on future flights.
The he topped himself in the Projection Department with a Tweet declaring that the Russians would be working on behalf of the (!) Democrats in the upcoming Midterm election, cannily setting up the perfect excuse for when the Republicans lose their lunch money to the Democrats because of him.
Tuesday found Trump reaching for a much-needed ego boost when he addressed a meeting of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and immediately turned it into a political rally, his safest of safe spaces. It was classic Trumpian Fabulism; making empty boasts, lying just for the hell of it, demanding adulation, introducing then ignoring a Senate candidate, and lashing out at all his enemies, adding the new wrinkle of identifying reality itself as his biggest foe when he gave his stunned VFW audience this Orwellian gem: “Remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening!” Okaythen!
On Wednesday we found out that no one is in charge of cyber strategy in the White House following new National Security Advisor John Bolton’s purge of personnel and installation of his own loyalists, none of whom are apparently cybersecurity experts (Are you listening, Russia? The coast is clear!).
This rendered problematic Trump’s announcement of a new Cybersecurity Task Force to combat Russia’s formidable and technologically advanced cyberattack capabilities, coupled with the fact that Trump had recently quietly disbanded the old Cybersecurity Task Force in the White House.
Then Vladimir Putin burst Trump’s Great Statesman Bubble by announcing he will put off Trump’s invitation to visit the White House until next year, sending Trump scrambling to make it appear as if this was his idea when he had Bolton announce it would be best for the State Visit to come “after the Russia Witch Hunt is over.”
Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives did their part to contribute to this week’s mayhem, with Secretary of State Pompeo given a forum in the Senate to introduce his Trump Lite impression; pretending Trump is hard on Russia, ducking questions he didn’t like, dumping on Obama, making absurd claims of Trump’s successes, belittling NATO allies and generally displaying enough hostility, dishonesty and arrogance to let the world know that a new Trump star is born.
Then 11 Republican Representatives introduced Articles of Impeachment against Rod Rosenstein, citing “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” led by Speaker of the House Wannabe and a man under criminal investigation for covering up sex crimes Jim Jordan. Their main complaint is that Rosenstein refuses to compromise the Russia investigation, or to allow them to do it for him. Cooler heads in the House prevailed later when they ridiculed and killed this potentially suicidal measure.
Unimpressed by Congressional bluster, a Federal Judge ruled that the case against Trump for violation of the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution can move forward. Then Former U.S.Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul reminded us of Trump’s treachery when he formally petitioned the President to officially and unequivocally refuse to turn him and 10 other American citizens over to the Russian government for interrogation by their infamous GRU agents.
Trump again lashed out by announcing the White House will keep his calls to foreign leaders a secret, and then barred a CNN reporter from a White House event.
Robert Mueller then quietly revealed he was reviewing Trump’s Tweets for possible evidence against him, comparing their timing with certain statements and actions on his part, in some cases using the treasure trove of Michael Cohen’s secret recordings now in the FBI’s possession.
And speaking of Michael Cohen, he has all but officialy “flipped” on Trump, and dropped an incredible bombshell by stating he was willing to testify that Trump had prior knowledge of, and granted his approval of the now infamous Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer working for the Kremlin, something he has long denied and over which his son Donald Trump Jr. has possibly perjured himself before Congress by denying under oath.
And speaking of Trump’s sons taking over Dad’s businesses while he is president, the man who rules Trump’s companies alongside Eric Trump and Donald Jr. has been subpoenaed in the Southern District of New York Federal Court in an arm of the Mueller investigation. That would be one Alan Weiselberg, the Trump family accountant for almost 50 years, current Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer and the man who prepares Donald Trump’s tax returns. As a witness for the prosecution, he is potentially Michael Cohen on steroids, intricately familiar with every aspect of Trump’s finances, the one man who knows where all the Rubles are buried.
And finally, speaking of Rubles, Russia and electoral sabotage, Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Manager Tad Devine has also agreed to help Robert Mueller unravel the money and data trail from Russia that were long-rumored to ensnare Sanders’ campaign as well as Trump’s.
Week #80 gave us drama and heartbreak right to the last second when the midnight deadline passed on the court order for reuniting imprisoned children with their parents passed with 700 to 900 kids (they’re still not quite sure) still being held in cages. A judge now has to decide on finding the government in contempt of court or extending the deadline for compliance, among half a dozen Reality TV Show-style cliffhangers our president loves so well for Week #81.
The Fat Lady may not be singing yet, but she is surely clearing her throat.