Okay, now we have Individual 1 in charge.
With his party defeated in the Midterm election and his former asshole buddies in the Senate turning against him on Yemen and the Ukraine, Trump was an even angrier jackass than usual at the beginning of Week #98 of the Trump Era, having public panic attacks attacks at the prospect of Checks & Balances returning to American government, especially the “checks” part where the Democrats in control of the House of Representatives as of January 1st are certain to investigate and expose his crimes instead of helping him cover them up.
Individual 1 does not do well on a level playing field, so he immediately lashed out at the entire incoming Democratic majority by threatening to release “Classified Documents” that would be embarrassing to them. Releasing Classified Documents, embarrassing or otherwise, is a crime, and one that would surely attract the notice of the guy who has been investigating the alleged crimes of both the public and private organizations led by Individual 1 for the past 18 months, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a man who would have a major impact on Week #98 without saying a word in public.
The week began on Friday in a predictably Trumpian way, with the president asking the Supreme Court to fast-track his military transgender ban, bypassing the lower Appellate Courts just a few days after getting publicly spanked by Chief Justice John Roberts for making political attacks on the American Judiciary, specifically those courts Trump has repeatedly badmouthed for being stacked against him because of “Obama judges.”
He also doubled down on undermining his own intelligence community when he once again publicly forgave the Saudi Crown Prince for ordering the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashogg by claiming (!) “the CIA only has a feeling” about the Saudi Crown Prince’s guilt in the killing, if you want to call a definite conclusion based on the detailed report on a thorough investigation “a feeling.”
The White House blocked CIA Director Gina Haspel from briefing the Senate on the Khashoggi case, instead having Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis warn the Senate against downgrading Saudi-US ties for “strategic reasons” (translation” Oil $ and weapons $ales), triggering the GOP defections from the ranks of presidential accomplices, who demanded to be debriefed by CIA director Gina Haspel personally.
Individual 1 also demanded that Democrats vote to allocate $5 billion to begin building his precious border wall before January, once again threatening a government shutdown if he doesn’t get his way. As if.
Even with no Midterm election to win by fear mongering, but in need of a very bright shiny object to wave around to distract Americans from his ineptitude, Trump suddenly revived the Refugee Caravan as a major bogeyman when he threatened to shut down the entire Mexican border if the caravan “gets uncontrollable.”
On Saturday he made up a huge whopper about making a deal with the newly elected Mexican government (which is not even in power yet) to keep asylum seekers in Mexico while their cases wind their way though the US court system, but Mexico’s incoming Interior Minister immediately said that no agreement of any sort has been reached (or even possible) between the incoming government and the United States.
That lie immediately blowing up in his face didn’t bother Individual 1 at all, since on Sunday the world was treated to the Shiny Object To End All Shiny Objects as the United States Border Patrol opened fire on Mexico by launching teargas grenades into crowds of unarmed refugees seeking asylum, including small children, who presumably suddenly became uncontrollable.
And just like that, Trump has once again made the United States the Poster Boy nation for Human Rights violations.
Of course on Monday Trump alternately denied the teargas attack (there’s lots of video, so that didn’t work), blamed the victims as if they were sexual abuse accusers, said okay we fired teargas but no children were attacked (more pesky video nixed that cock & bull story too) and then pulled another crazy lie out of his ass by claiming “a mild form of teargas was used.” There is no such thing and, to paraphrase that great Jedi philosopher Yoda – “There is no mild teargas, there is only teargas or not teargas.”
Monday also brought the announcement that General Motors was joining Ford Motors in shutting down automotive plants in the Midwest and laying off tens of thousands of workers, with 6 GM cars ceasing production entirely, including the iconic Chevy Impala, as well as their tentative entry into the 21st Century, the gas/electric hybrid Chevy Volt. Turns out that American workers are the ones on the losing end of Trump’s crazy trade war, and haven’t yet begged him to end all the winning.
Fed up with the mainstream media only reporting events that actually happen and quoting his exact words, Trump threatened to start a government news agency, his own “world wide network to brag how great we are,” presumably one unconstrained by journalistic ethics or hampered by killjoy fact checkers.
That way, he could deny his own government’s Climate Change Report like he did this week with a smug “I don’t believe it,” and not be questioned by impertinent reporters asking why he trusts “my own gut” more than he trusts thorough CIA reports or the detailed scientific research endorsed by 99% of the world’s scientists.
Monday did, however, bring Trump one last happy moment for the week, at a campaign rally in Mississippi rally for the lynching-happy Civil War buff Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who would win her runoff election against the man trying to become Mississippi’s first Black Senator since Reconstruction. Sorry pal, but not in Trump’s America (while it lasts).
Other than Hyde-Smith’s expected victory, Trump’s world exploded beginning on Tuesday when it was reported that Manafort’s lawyers had been regularly briefing Trump’s attorneys on what information his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort had been providing the Special Counsel, perhaps giving us some understanding of Trump suddenly going ballistic on Robert Mueller, getting very personal and vicious with him as never before, almost as if Trump suddenly discovered the extent and the gravity of the damaging information Mueller has on him.
He even retweeted a cartoon calling for the trials for treason of his political opponents and the government officials investigating his administration, then lied about illegal immigrants getting $3,874 a month when in fact they get a lot less, an average of $0 per month to be exact. Unless of course Trump locks them up, then refugees cost a lot to feed, house and guard.
And speaking of imprisoned refugees, a Children’s Concentration Camp in Texas quietly grew to become the 2nd-largest federal prison in the country this week as the administration continues to kidnap immigrant children and lock them in a growing tent city behind barbed wire.
So there we were careening through another bumpy and chaotic Trump week with everything going wrong that can go wrong, a furious and petty lunatic with lots of issues holed up in the White House maniacally pouring gasoline on the fires he can’t stop lighting, one administration official after another doing or saying something horrible, Human Rights under constant attack, the world wondering what the hell happened to America, and America’s rank and file just holding on for dear life trying to differentiate actual deeds from irritating distractions, absently wondering how the hell all this inanity can be fit in to one lifetime, never mind a single week.
Then Wednesday and Thursday happened, and perhaps we’re thinking things really don’t have to be this way indefinitely, we don’t have to be a cruel and callous nation that turned its back on all that is good and decent, and maybe there’s a way out of this debacle before January of 2021.
In the space of 2 days, and in no particular order, Robert Mueller hauled Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen back into court, German police raided the corporate headquarters and 5 other locations of Trump’s shady financiers Deutsche Bank, Jerome Corsi (aide to the defiant Roger Stone), entered into a plea deal with Mueller about himself and Stone lying to Congress, and the FBI raided the offices of Trump’s former tax lawyer.
Manafort was facing new charges for violating his plea bargain by lying about numerous things to Mueller, who made it clear that if he wants to get out a prison before his 200th birthday he will tell all he knows, a startling turn of events that prompted Trump to publicly contemplate pardoning Manafort, which rang a lot of alarm bells even among his most ardent Republican enablers, making it clear that Trump is screwed if he pardons him, and screwed if Manafort comes clean.
The Deutsche Bank raid by German authorities was looking for evidence of money laundering that could have severe consequences for Trump, who has long been suspected of conspiring with Deutsche Bank to lauder billions in Russian mob money via real estate scams. The US Department of Justice (or at least Mueller’s little section of it) will be eager to see what evidence Germany has to share.
The raid on Trump’s former tax lawyer may not even be connected to his dealings with Trump from 2006 to 2018, the FBI is not saying, but just the name Ed Burke has to have Trump thinking furiously about what might be revealed. When you’ve had a long and crooked life like Trump, the skeletons are packed so tight that you never know what little nudge can send all those bones crashing out of the closet into a heap on the floor for all to see.
By far the most damaging testimony to Trump, however, was that of Michael Cohen, who was in court to plead guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s dealings with Russia out of a sense of loyalty to “Individual 1,” who was identified in court as “a presidential candidate and currently the President of the United Sates.” In a an eye-popping allocution about Trump’s extensive business dealings with Russia even up to the 2016 Republican Convention that nominated him for President, Cohen revealed how high up in the Kremlin he reached on behalf of Trump in order to build Trump Tower Moscow, including offering the $50 million penthouse apartment to (!) Vladimir Putin as a “gift.”
All this testimony directly contradicted Trump’s numerous lies saying he had no business dealings at all with Russia, even as his own sons boasted about all the Russian capital invested in the Trump Organization for many years. The testimony is alleged to be corroborated by seized documents and communications records on phones and computers, just as in Manafort’s case, where his earlier testimony did not jibe with the hard evidence Mueller’s team collected by painstaking detective work and forensic accounting.
Unlike Manafort however, who is playing a dangerous game with a dangerous prosecutor, Cohen is quite eager to testify, and has the haunted look of a man who was in way over his head, old before his time and wishing to unburden himself of some terrible secrets. Cohen is, after all, a small time shyster lawyer thrust by circumstances into dealings with the #2 man in the Kremlin on multibillion dollar international deals, with some of the same names involved in the aborted Trump Tower Moscow deal popping up as principals in the Russian election hacking organization. Cohen could have gone his whole life being a fixer, bagman and small time scam artist and done quite well, but instead found himself embroiled in the crime of the century and high treason.
For his eager cooperation Cohen was of course viciously attacked by Trump, who called him (among many other derogatory things) “a weak person, who did me a favor a long time ago” which does not explain him being on the Trump Organization payroll for 12 years and operating in the stratosphere of international finance on Trump’s behalf.
Individual 1 had no such venom for Manafort, who he keeps saying is an innocent man who has been abused terribly by the legal system, an odd assessment for a man convicted by a jury of financial crimes and Conspiracy against the United States and who has pled guilty to numerous other crimes as well as forfeiting $46 million in money and assets. Clearly Trump does not want to piss off this secretive and manipulative man who knows too much about Trump to be thrown under the bus just yet.
One result all this sudden flurry of activity by the Special Counsel was Trump cancelling his meeting with his benefactor Vladimir Putin at the G-20 meetings in Argentine that kick off his 99th Week in office on Friday, and an increasingly isolated Trump finding himself suddenly in treacherous waters without a roll of paper towels.
Here’s hoping for a swift end to the reign of President Individual 1.