Week #111 of the Trump Era dawned on Friday with Trump vetoing a meeting with the Governor of Puerto Rico to resolve the unfinished business of repairing the lingering damage caused by the last National Emergency on his watch, Hurricane Maria, and threatening to veto a bill in Congress sponsored by Hurricane Nancy that would cancel his current National Emergency on the Mexican border, the commonality being brown-skinned people in distress, with the president planning to keep them that way in order to underscore his commitment to his core values of racism, ignorance and petty cruelty.
In keeping with this Lowest Common Denominator Strategy, Trump also attacked another favorite Bogeyman of the Unlettered Right, Planned Parenthood. He repeatedly slandered Planned Parenthood as serving some outlandish fictional agenda of murderous baby parts retailers, while in reality it is the only prenatal care for millions of mothers and children and a vital source of birth control methods and health counseling, but to shut up his mean-spirited Evangelical voters, Trump passed rules against Federally owned or funded health facilities giving referrals to Planned parenthood, an insane and cruel act bound to have negative repercussions for families nationwide.
At the same time he was bullying poor young parents, he was backing down from a different group of non-White invented enemies, the Chinese. It finally dawned on Trump that his Trade War with China was inflicting heavy American economic casualties and not providing him with any triumphs at the negotiating table with Godless Asian Commies to announce, a theme that would recur later that week when the Master Dealmaker flew home from Hanoi empty-handed, going 0-for-Asia for the week.
With the Chinese refusing to listen to the half baked drivel that passes for his trade proposal, Trump offered to drop the criminal case against Chinese communications corporate giant Huweii (accused of espionage and theft of intellectual property) in exchange for any progress at all to report to the American people. Unfortunately for Trump, Chinese leadership can recognize a wounded animal when they see one, and turned him down flat rather than make a deal with a presidency bleeding from a hundred wounds and lashing out blindly in the rage of its death throes.
China sees Trump as a staggering, breathless and nearly blind beast, still dangerous and unpredictable, but not for very long. They figure that soon enough there will be another bull kicking in his stall, a reasonable and sane trading partner more interested in security and mutual prosperity over the long haul rather than immediate bragging rights.
Foreign Heads of State, both Godless Asian Commies and otherwise, are looking at the very frightening reality of a suddenly unreliable America, so it doesn’t seem like an awful lot for them to ask that the peace and prosperity of billions should not be decided by dick-measuring contests. Some pundits reason that Rome outlasted Caligula, and the USA will survive Trump and regain its sanity, but for the time being, the world walks on eggshells.
Speaking of wounds, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office inflicted a couple more when it announced it was investigating Donald Trump’s private business for violating New York State laws, such as making fraudulent insurance and banking claims, and evading State taxes, unrelated to his presidency (and Federal Pardon-proof).
Still, Trump spent the weekend touting the Vietnam Summit with Kim, like the poor man’s Neville Chamberlain before dashing off to Munich cheerfully trying to convince the world he was certain he could bring out the jolly good sport in Hitler. The planned media script for Week #111 was supposed to be (as usual) all about Trump, Trump and more Trump, like Trump singlehandedly thwarting an apocalyptic nuclear war and coming home with Kim’s missiles tucked in his belt, and Trump backing down the Asian Communist Master Criminals sworn to destroy our Consumerist way of life. He was more than ready for Trump-Kim II, he was pumped (That’s ‘ready,’ not ‘well-prepared with facts and figures.’ Let’s not get crazy here.).
At least that was the plan.
What reduced all this carefully choreographed Pomp and Circumstance to a mere footnote, however, was one Michael Cohen, a discarded personal lawyer and covert functionary of the Trump Organization and a convicted felon on his way to prison for 3 years for various crimes committed while in the employ of the president, and scheduled to testify before Congress on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with the Wednesday hearing being public and nationally televised, the most anticipated such hearing since John Dean starred as The Repentant Watergate Coconspirator.
No one is sure how repentant Cohen would be if he wasn’t caught redhanded, but he was caught and is now spilling his guts on national TV. Trump’s presidency was finally being threatened in a way even he can understand, in his TV Ratings. Cohen’s big national broadcast on Wednesday buried Trump’s ratings, his Hanoi Summit all but ignored in light of Cohen’s sensational testimony.
As far as the threats Trump doesn’t seem to understand, there are plenty of people who do understand them, and all too well. Right after the House voted to kill Trump’s phony national emergency, another national emergency began, this one in the form of a sleazy lawyer, fixer and bagman for the Trump Organization (and a repeated accomplice in crime to Individual 1) who was now pulling a Joe Valachi on Trump by spilling the beans to Congress about the inner workings of the organization and describing a series of crimes committed by and for the benefit of members the inner circle of its hierarchy, with the legalistically cited “Individuals 1 through 5” being the President, his three eldest children and family consigliere Allen Weisselberg.
Yes, the same Allen “I Got Immunity From Mueller” Weisselberg who has been spending lots of quality time with the Special Counsel’s team and who has been summoned to testify before Congress himself in the immediate future, the Chief Financial Officer who signed every Trump Organization and Trump Foundation check for 40 years, and knows everything there is to know about the president’s business. He’s Michael Cohen on steroids as far as Trump and his 3 eldest children are concerned.
Much of what Cohen said was known and a lot was suspected, but what he was not allowed to say spoke even louder, citing “ongoing investigations” over and over again when asked about Russian Collusion and other sensitive criminal matters.
The Republican members of the House Oversight & Reform Committee did their part to provide some welcome laughs to break up Cohen’s grim litany, outdoing one another with their animated Scarlett O’Hara impersonations, hands flailing and eyes rolling, calling the proceedings a sham and “a stain on the honor of this House,” to which Chairman Elijah Cummings replied “Frankly my divas, I don’t give a damn,” or words to that effect.
Republicans pointed out that Cohen was going to prison for lying to Congress and should not be believed, while Democrats pointed out that if he can’t be believed, and the lie he was convicted of telling Congress was that President Trump was not involved in criminal activity, should his conviction be overturned and Trump be considered a suspect? Remember, this is the same Republican Party that gave Jeff Sessions a do-over, allowing him to “amend his testimony” when he was caught lying to Congress. Whatever the case, Cohen’s testimony was not only a national, but a global sensation, quite the ‘boost’ indeed.
Trump was going to need something big to compete for media attention with the Cohen testimony that was stealing his headlines and leading every single news broadcast! These are the times when presidents reach deep inside themselves for that something extra in their character but, once again, that guy ain’t president no more!
What he did was Vintage Trump, absolving a brutal dictator for the death in captivity of an American citizen when Trump said he believed Kim when he said he had nothing to do the with the death of Otto Warmbier, an America student arrested on a phony charge of espionage and who was returned to his parents from North Korea in a vegetative state, just days from death.
The outrage factor got Trump the headlines he craved, if not quite the manner he wished. The betrayal of this dead young man and the extended Warmbier family only trying to get answers about who or what inflicted the brain damage that killed their son raised hackles along with his beloved headlines. To Trump, America’s prestige, the sanctity of our citizens’ lives, and even his own honor are secondary to seeing his name in big block letters. Like they say in The Biz, “Every knock is a boost!”
He’d get another big boost on Thursday when his love affair with Kim Jong-Un collapsed in a messy public divorce as North Korea stormed out over the issue of economic sanctions. Maybe Kim figured Trump would be at least as generous to him as he was to Oleg Derepaska, Putin’s pal who Trump handed billions to a couple of weeks back by lifting sanctions against him against the objections of Congress and his own advisors.
Who can blame Kim for feeling jilted? He’s much younger and way prettier than Derepaska, after all, and puts up with Trump’s irritating flirting and silly boasts. It would not be unfair for Kim to ask “Does Oleg the Oligarch do that for you, Donald? Does he?”
The White House and Trump were quick on the draw finding someone other than Trump to blame for the failure of his mission, the early favorites being Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and Michael Cohen in no particular order, although the Administration hasn’t committed to an acceptable alternate narrative just yet (the early stages of Spin Science are always somewhat chaotic, so stay tuned for the official Official Story).
Not that there was an overabundance of Home Sweet Home moments waiting for Trump in Washington when Michael Cohen got such rave reviews for his secret testimony before Congress that they invited him back next week for an encore appearance before the House Intelligence Committee. Then some news of the Captain Obvious variety broke when it was revealed that First Son-In-Law Jared Kushner got his Top Secret Security Clearance only on direct orders from Trump after failing to clear even the lowest security clearance status, that enjoyed by White House gardeners and janitors, all of whom are far more popular and respected among White House staffers than the vapid Kushner.
Congress is now abuzz with all these avenues of new investigations to pursue, what with Trump being somewhat of a Renaissance Man of crime. As with any feast, where to start first is alway the question, almost as popular a query as “When will Mueller finally bust a move?”
If there is a wise old saying or a prayer you like to recite when in stressful situations, now might be a good time for, say… “Now what the flying fuck?” or the always comforting What In Holy Creation Were You Thinking, Lord?’s Prayer.