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Politics, Trump Week in Review

WEEK #99 OF THE TRUMP ERA IN REVIEW, FRIDAY, 11/30/18 TO THURSDAY, 12/6/18

Week #99 began in Friday with Trump landing in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the G-20 Summit meeting that was supposed to include a private meeting with Vladimir Putin but now would not be due to all the new revelations of the suddenly heated-up Russian Collusion investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. 

Trump still had hopes of dominating the G-20 meetings and the headlines, but that went out the window when former president George Herbert Walker Bush died Friday afternoon, effectively stealing Trump’s headlines not only for the weekend G-20 meeting, but for the rest of the week as well.

Even though George H.W. Bush was not a revered statesman or one of our great presidents, the presence of Trump in the White House has elevated Bush to a one-man Mount Rushmore in comparison to Trump in the minds of a nation, merely by being a person who knew how to conduct himself properly in public. And so Washington mounted a lavish State Funeral like that of Senator John McCain, another infuriating and humiliating experience for Trump.

Perhaps in acknowledgement of the elder Bush’s dignity, Trump actually (for him, anyway) behaved himself at the meeting of world leaders, pulling no publicity stunts and making only uncharacteristically low-key public remarks. He did, however, revert to his transparent lying when it came to his dinner with Chinese Present Xi where a truce was called in the trade war Trump started (translation: Trump blinked) and then Tweeted outrageous lies about agreements reached on Chinese trade when there were in fact no commitments at all given by Xi or his government, and tensions between the two economic superpowers remained high.

Calling himself “Tariff Man” on Twitter did not help his delicate situation either, nor did it help anyone but the world’s comedy writers, who had a ball writing Tariff Man jokes and skits. He also created resentment at the G-20 when the USA refused to sign off on the Climate Change declarations arrived at by the other 19 nations, even as his administration (in a Perfect Storm of bad timing) was trying to promote new oil exploration in Alaska’s Wildlife Conservation Refuge.

He also signed the NAFTA replacement treaty with Mexico and Canada while in Argentina, claiming it to be something more than the barely altered original trade agreement negotiated in the 1990s, the cosmetic changes acknowledged by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he blandly assured the press that the new agreement “assures continued stability.” No huge trade breakthroughs for America were announced, merely a name change from NAFTA to the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, with Trump’s signature on the paper replacing Bill Clinton’s, allowing him to boast that he “negotiated” this tough deal when in fact did no such thing, and the deal is no more or less tough on any of the 3 nations that it was before Trump wasted time and money on this vanity project.

Speaking of vanity, Trump returned home on Monday to try and recapture what headlines he could from the Bush Funeral Juggernaut, repeating his silly lie about China agreeing to remove their 40% tariff on American automobiles that was instantly proven wrong by the Chinese government, forcing his subordinates to say thing like “we are hoping it will come true,”and “it very well could happen,” while the Chinese once again scoffed at the idea, and the needy man/child who needs to make up big lies to feel like a big man doubled down in his lies anyway.

On Tuesday the Senate got what it demanded, a briefing from CIA Director Gina Haspel about their investigation into the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi, and they learned that Trump has been sugarcoating the episode for the sake of oil and weapons sales and that bin Salman not only ordered the murder, he also monitored the grisly killing and dismemberment electronically.

It seems Trump had previously prevented Director Haspel from filling in the Senators on the grisly details and hoped the would accept Trump’s own strange assessment that the Crown Prince was innocent, and even if he is not we’ll just let bygones be bygones. He sent only Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis to address the Senate on the matter, where they gave few details and instead implored the Senate to accept Trump’s version of events over the CIA’s. Haspel’s honest report on the CIA investigation and conclusions changed many a Senator’s tune.

For once even his most ardent Republican enablers could not stomach such craven capitulation to the bloodthirsty billionaire royals running Saudi Arabia, no matter how many $50 million apartments they brought from the President, and are cooking up any number of sanctions against the kingdom. 

Next week the House of Representatives will be treated to the same briefing from Pompeo and Mattis, once again minus Haspel and the truth, so look for the Representatives to demand a briefing from the CIA as well.

And speaking of the House of Representatives, Trump has control of it for only 3 more weeks, at which point Democrats behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi take charge, and they have already informed the administration in no uncertain term that Trump’s free ride is over, there will be no border wall, not ever, and that serious Congressional investigations into Trump’s alleged crimes will commence with no interference from partisan informants like Devin Nunes this time around.

Democrats also vowed to provide Special Council Mueller with incriminating transcripts from the Republican-led investigations that were covered up as being “beyond the scope” of their authority, as if uncovering crimes against the United States was someone else’s business other than the Government of the United States.

Trump’s response was to call for the maximum prison term for his longtime personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, not for crimes of his own, but for exposing Trump’s crimes so enthusiastically. Indeed, Mr. Cohen is consumed with coming clean, convinced that his association with Trump has ruined his life, and is eager to start over as best he can when this is all over. 

This personal impetus seems to be shared by another former Trump campaign associate and National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn (ret.), who has been so helpful to the Russian Collusion investigation that Robert Mueller personally asked the court to impose “little to no jail time” for Flynn in light of his “invaluable cooperation with and contributions to the Special Counsel’s investigation.” 

The publicly-released version of the papers submitted to the court at sentence recommendation hearing were so heavily redacted that there were only tantalizing hints of the scope and depth of the information Flynn provided, putting a huge crimp in the plans of White House lawyers’ to respond to Mueller’s charges one by one. In fact, White House insiders revealed there is no such response prepared, no matter what Rudy Giuliani claimed about his “Counter Report,” and that their level of preparation to meet what very well could be fatal charges against Trump and many inside his administration amounts to no more than “Jesus, take the wheel!” Which leaves one to wonder what exactly Giuliani’s been doing all these months as Trump’s “lead lawyer on the Russian Collusion Case” besides making bizarre accusations and scaring small children.

At least one Trump associate, Roger Stone, has remained defiant and swore he will never testify against the president, even going so far as invoking his 5th Amendment Rights against self-incrimination even before anyone subpoenaed him to testify anywhere, a risky proposition given the increasing revelations of treason and collusion among Trump campaign aides and business associates. Even Vice President Pence hired himself a criminal attorney, given his exposure to criminal liability as the Chairman of the Trump Transition Team.

The Stock Market did a couple of nosedives this week too, an 800-point plunge on Tuesday and a 700-point free fall on Thursday before almost recovering at the end of the day, reacting to things like Trump guessing that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff earns $5 million a year when he in fact earns about $200,000, the flurry of activity from Robert Mueller, the ongoing drama of Trump’s trade war, his defense of a murdering Crown Prince, and the president ordering US Army troops to remain mobilized at the Mexican border through the New Year for no reason except for political posturing.

Trump did manage to wrangle a few headlines out of the G.H.W. Bush funeral, most notably for sitting there like a sullen brat while abler people eulogized a respected man, having been invited to attend but prohibited from making any speeches.

The more you think about it, the more it appears that Bush 41 sure had Trump figured out. By inviting him to his funeral but barring him from speaking, he showed he knew exactly his to hurt this hyperactive oaf. The lasting image of Week #99 of the Trump Era was a silent, scowling and seething Trump realizing he’d been punked by a dead man and would not be “getting even,” at least not in this lifetime.

The week ended with an interesting story broken by the New York Times that profiles 2 illegal immigrants who have been working for Trump personally at his Bedford, New Jersey golf resort for years, and how the Trump organization helped them obtain forged documents when they admitted they were in the country illegally. At considerable risk to themselves and their tenuous legal residential status in the USA, they decided that they could no longer remain silent in the face of Trump’s vicious insults and his irresponsible demonization of Latinos. Just one more instance of one of Trump’s signature issues meaning absolutely nothing to him when it comes to his own personal gain.

Now even Trump’s most ardent and sycophantic cheerleaders like Tucker Carlson and Ammon Bundy are noticing the Emperor’s new clothes and joining the parade of rats deserting his sinking ship of state as we head into the 100th Week of this toxic presidency, as the memory of a 94 year-old one-term president who was not all that popular (and who has been out of the public eye for 30 years) continues to soar head and shoulders above this forlorn and incompetent lout with severe personal issues.

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