Okay, things have sped up in Week #142 of the Trump Era to the point where we have a Category 5 Political Shitstorm, kind of like Dorothy’s tornado in the Wizard of Oz, filled with more and more spinning objects, buildings, farm animals, people both familiar and unfamiliar, witches on brooms and flying monkeys. The uninitiated are reporting to Emergency Rooms nationwide in numbers like no one’s ever seen before, with severe cases of whiplash, vertigo and nausea being reported, while more experienced observers don their brain armor and avert their eyes from the blinding flashes designed to confuse and infuriate. Let’s try peeking inside this tornado and see what’s flying by screaming at the top of its lungs at the moment, shall we?
But before we go completely off the rails as we attempt to understand this week of weeks (unlikely), or unravel Trump’s rationale for his behavior (always a mine field), we need two important pieces of information. The first is that the Biden family crime theories regarding Ukraine that Trump is selling like a drunken infomercial host are false narratives that have been completely debunked by the State Department and multiple American intelligence agencies. Secondly, these theories were provided to President Trump by the State Department already labeled as false information, as a caution to the President to avoid falling into the trap of repeating them.
To the Average Joe and Jane, that warning would be the end of that particular line of inquiry, what with most of us not wanting to appear to be completely ridiculous people and all, but instead preferring to say things that make sense like the stodgy and unimaginative drones we are. Our President, however, suffers no such inhibitions, and feels no obligation to follow traditional norms of behavior or “interpretation of information.” Yes, he is just that special.
After all, it was written on pieces of paper, wasn’t it? There must be some truth to it if someone bothered to write it down, amIright? Hell, anyone can color inside the lines or tell a true story! That doesn’t make headlines or win votes.
So, at the point when his Presidency is being most directly challenged, Trump rose to the occasion, falling back on his tried and true “lies and endless repetition” strategy, and before the week was up, sure enough a lot of people were asking what the Bidens did wrong, and his slogan “Crooked Hillary” was replaced by “Crooked Joe,” in full and justified confidence that the loyal Trump base would be more than satisfied with a catchy slogan and would burden themselves with no further reading on the matter. No sense clogging the senses with mixed messages!
Week #142 of the Trump Era begins the same as Week #141 ended, completely consumed with the Impeachment Inquiries into Trump’s extortion of Ukraine to frame a political rival for imaginary crimes. Anyone seeking proof of the allegations against Trump need go no further than the video and audiotapes of his every public appearance since the scandal broke where he not only openly admitted his crimes, but boasted about them, then compounded them by threatening those who reported it with death, and those who are charged with investigating the facts with both treason and death.
Which raises the question of who the State Department thought they were dealing with when they gave Trump a Not-To-Do List. That’s like asking a 6 year-old to keep an eye on the cookie jar. They’ll watch that cookie jar alright, up close and personal.
Congress decided to satisfy their curiosity on the cookie jar theory by subpoenaing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday to provide the House Intelligence Committee with the same debunked documents he provided Trump, and perhaps explain why he neglected to mention that he was listening in on the infamous Trump/Zelensky call when he earlier claimed he had no knowledge of it.
Friday was also the day when Rudy Giuliani backed out of a scheduled appearance at a Kremlin-supported conference in Armenia that possibly included President Vladimir Putin of Russia, calling a temporary halt to his Sydney Greenstreet Tour of chasing the elusive Maltese Server in foreign capitals and exotic locales while meeting with mysterious “foreign emissaries,” like one Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s top advisor, who met with Giuliani in Madrid a week after the Trump’s-Zelensky call. While we do not know the details of that clandestine meeting, we can at least state with confidence that if one of them was not wearing a fez, all was for naught.
Even though he is a private citizen and Trump’s personal criminal defense attorney, Giuliani interjected himself earnestly into American foreign policy, and into the dead center of the impeachment crisis (and perhaps a few criminal “aiding and abetting” charges) while presenting himself abroad as alternately representing the U.S. State Department or the President of the United States. So convinced is he of his self-proclaimed official status than on Saturday Rudy pre-claimed executive privilege in case he was subpoenaed by Congress, when he was not too busy declaring himself “a hero.”
Kurt Volker, the latest of multiple Ukrainian ex-envoys, abruptly resigned on Saturday after having been named in the Whistleblower Report and, as we found out later in the week, came home with a briefcase full of evidence to share with Congress.
And speaking of countries where ambassadors have a history of resigning rather than allowing themselves or their offices to be complicit in Trump’s low crimes and misadventures, we learned that day that the President’s conversations with both Russian President Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Bone Saw were kept hidden from the White House staffers who are normally privy to such conversations, whose specific jobs require them to monitor such calls for National Security reasons.
In the Move-Along-Nothing-to See-Here Department, on Sunday Trump nominated Gordon Hartogensis, a man who has no relevant experience, to run the government agency overseeing millions of pensions, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. The nominee also happens to be the brother-in-law of Senate Majority Leader, Moscow Mitch McConnell and his wife, our Transportation Secretary, Beijing Elaine Chao.
And speaking of Blatant Corruption Opportunities, on Sunday we also heard from one David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior and former lobbyist for a consortium of wealthy California Agribusinesses called Westlands Water District, the man who had spent a decade lobbying for their pet project, raising the height of the Shasta Dam and to practically monopolize the excess irrigation water this ecologically dangerous project would produce.
As it turns out, David Bernhardt the lobbyist was rewarded by David Bernhardt the Secretary of the Interior when he discovered that the Ecological Assessments of the dam, stating that it would do serious damage to the ecology and to endangered species, was written by, of all people, scientists in his own department, and everyone knows those killjoy scientists are part of the global plot against conservatism in general, and Donald Trump in particular. That’s also why Bernhardt promoted weakening the endangered species protection regulations that were preventing his (former, winkwink!) clients from getting even richer than they already are. If these endangered species got themselves into danger, let them stand on their own four feet and get themselves out of danger like good Americans!
In a stroke of luck (bad or good, you decide) for the President, Rudy Giuliani has emerged reenergized from his lair once again, and no Sunday would be complete without the no-longer-dormant Rudy making the rounds of the political talks shows, gleefully shouting down peolpe who just quoted his exact words as “morons,” earnestly incriminating Trump and himself, and (!) even sharing his “secret” State Department contacts and text messages on his cellphone with a national TV audience. Later in the week he would boast that the phony Biden theories that the State Department gave to Trump “came from me.”
Rudy also taunted House intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, calling him an “illegitimate Committee Chairman” and demanding Schiff’s removal before he would deign to testify before them, perhaps exaggerating the power he wields as Trump’s criminal defense attorney, although you might be hard pressed to find another defense attorney tell the New York Times about himself and his client, “We’re meddling in an investigation.” Then his client chimed in with a demand “to meet my accuser,” from Trump, insisting he be allowed to interview the Whistleblower himself. You know, the person whose life he had already threatened.
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threw a crimp in Trump’s usual Delaying Tactic plans when he surprisingly announced that the Senate will have no choice but to try Trump immediately if he is impeached by the House as expected, adding a few more RPM’s to the swirling maelstrom, especially since McConnell has given no indication that he will ensure Trump’s acquittal, as was widely assumed. If Trump loses McConnell, he loses the presidency, and McConnell knows it.
Then ousted national Security Advisor John Bolton sharply criticized Trump for courting North Korea at about the same time Kim Jong Un was unveiling his nation’s newfound capability to fire nuclear warheads from submarines, the Same Kim Jong Un that the President has been constantly reassuring us is only one candlelight dinner with Trump away from turning North Korea into a pacifist country.
Then Congress, without kicking Adam Schiff out, went ahead and subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani, plus 3 of his law firm’s associates; Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and Semyon Kislin, all in connection with the Ukraine/impeachment investigations.
On Monday we learned that Rudy Giuliani was not the only creepy old American hauting old European capitals and taking meetings with shadowy foreigners. Turns out that the Attorney General of The United States William Barr has also been taking clandestine overseas meetings, this time using the power and resources of the United States Justice Department to help Trump to undermine the FBI and the CIA by chasing completely imaginary villains in the Russian Election interference case that Barr knows damned well do not exist, and are about as real as David Dennison, John Barron or John Miller, 3 rather famous earlier figments of Trump’s fevered imagination.
While we were reeling from these baffling developments, we learned from former Trump Administration officials that the family separation policy at the US – Mexico border was designed from its inception for inflicting cruelty, and was carefully planned to inflict maximum trauma on refugee families. Asking how this could even be possible, we need to remind ourselves that this is a policy formulated by Steven Miller, the young ghoul who found out early on that the way to Trump’s heart was being heartless.
Never one to allow anyone not named Trump to dominate his headlines on a Monday, Trump was far from silent, calling for the arrest of Adam Schiff for treason, and calling for a (!) Civil War if he is impeached. He did find the time to ask another country to interfere in our 2020 election, however, when he asked new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for help (!!) “finding out the origins of the Mueller Report.” No word yet on what phony set of villains Trump tried to sell Morrison, but judging from the wave of public confessions issued almost daily by Trump, Giuliani, former ambassadors and sitting inspectors general, we’re in for another magic carpet ride through Trump’s addled skull.
On Tuesday, a combative Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defied Congress when he refused to allow five State Department officials to give legal depositions to Congress in regard to the Ukraine fiasco, as it became increasingly obvious that Pompeo was complicit in the scheme up to his sizable neck.
Then, continuing with the insider revelations of gratuitous cruelty by former Trump insiders, we learned that in March of 2019, Trump wanted to order Border Patrol Agents to (!) “shoot refugees in the legs to slow them down,” then had aides spend their taxpayer-funded time finding out the cost and feasibility of (!!!) lining our 2,000 mile-long Southern Border with “a moat filled with alligators and snakes,” and assuring everyone that his wall would be “tipped with sharp metal spikes.” Okay, perhaps we’ll skip that magic carpet ride through this man’s skull after all.
On Wednesday Trump added another world leader and foreign country to the list of countries he’s asked to help him discredit his political rivals, when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked to enlist the services of the legendary British Intelligence Services “to discredit Robert Mueller,” a fool’s errand Mr. Johnson declined.
This Official Fool’s Errand was detailed to Congress by the State Department’s own Inspector General Steve Linick on Wednesday afternoon, sharing documents obtained from the department’s Office of the Legal Adviser and related to the State Department and the Ukraine scandal. Not eager to fall on his sword for Trump or his boss Pompeo, Mr. Linick provided Congress the same documents he said his office had provided to the Secretary of State “for his disposition,” never dreaming he would use these completely discredited conspiracy theories to provide Donald Trump with fuel for bizarre acts of extortion and treason.
It was also revealed that Rudy Giuliani was aware that the Ukraine crime theories were bogus even before he began his Quixotic Continent-hopping in search of evidence and perpetrators he knew did not exist in meetings with mysterious people who do not have the best interests of America at heart.
Not even Trump’s seasoned apologists or professional spin doctors knew what to make of this godawful mess, and could not seem to get behind one lie and stick to it like they usually do. Having to work around Trump’s awkward public confessions of the shit they were trying to explain away didn’t help their case.
Things were getting so out of hand that even Vladimir Putin felt compelled to weigh in on the matter when he declared the Trump/Zelensky phone call to be just fine. Putin, after all, has a lot riding on Zelensky’s humiliation and ruination, specifically the hope that he can end his expensive and unpopular war with Ukraine with all of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula falling into Russian hands with American complicity, an avenue Trump has already urged Zelensky to explore. And no, Russian interference and manipulation never did go away, not for one moment since 2016. Why mess with success?
Wednesday was also the day when Finnish President Sauli Niinistö joined the growing club of world leaders with wacky Trump stories to tell. He was in the White House to finalize a trade agreement, but the standard followup press Q&A alongside Trump was anything but standard, and President Niinistö was treated to Trump’s biggest public meltdown yet when he completely lost control of himself and went off on a reporter like the guy had just run over his puppy. Trump was at his most incoherent, disjointed, and rabidly vicious, calling a member of Congress “a lowlife,” spluttering about “an attempted coup,” defending his crime as a perfect conversation, and for good measure throwing Vice President Pence under the bus by implicating him in the Ukraine shakedown. Niinistö stood there as stunned as pastor when he discovers his daughter dancing on the pole at his favorite strip club.
Turns out that the only accurate thing Trump said at that press conference was that Pence is screwed too, since it was revealed he visited Zelensky in person a month ago to remind him of Ukraine’s obligations to frame the Biden family if they expect to see that $450 million in military aid Congress gave them. See, the thing with foreign aid monies allocated by Congress is that they are not allocated contingent upon the recipient “doing us a favor,” and are not supposed to be held up in their delivery, not dangled like a prize to be snatched away on whim.
The week mercifully ended on Thursday with the news that two of President Trump’s top envoys to Ukraine helped draft a statement for the country’s new president this past August that would have committed Ukraine to pursuing the investigations sought by Trump into his political rivals, a document Zelensky was not foolish enough to sign. The aforementioned top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine who resigned a few days before, Kurt Volker, added his two cents when said he thought “it is crazy to withhold military aid for the country as it confronted Russian aggression.”
Trump himself ended the week with a roar, or rather a whole series of roars as the bellowing and spluttering persona he displayed all week showed no signs of losing steam. On the White House helipad before taking off to attend a rally, Trump openly admitted yet again that he fully expected the President of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens because “they’re stone crooked!” Then he lost his mind and blew everyone else’s when he said that (!) China should investigate the Bidens too, making it a baker’s dozen countries that either he personally, his lawyer, his Vice President, his Attorney General or his Secretary of State have asked to interfere in the 2020 American election, using information they all know to be false.
Once he reached his rally, politics were the last thing on his mind as he held another Pity Party for himself, poor little rich guy that never gets treated fairly, how no one understands him or appreciates the unmatched achievements of this stable genius, and rambled on incoherently until he stumbled upon a new crazy lie that seemed to enliven him as he warmed up to his new theory; that the Big Pharma corporations just might be paying for all the hoaxes and witch hunts against him, in retaliation for him forcing them to lower their prices.
The fact that he has repeatedly backed off his promise to lower prescription drug prices mattered as little as any other facts do to Trump. Everyone knows that facts are the party poopers of good stories, while the formulation and endless repetition of an effective lie is a gift that keeps on giving.
And so we enter Week #143 of the Trump Era with the tornado spinning larger, faster and fuller of the loose debris of the Constitution as our president blathers about nonexistent National Security threats from phantom villains. If there are two things we do not have at this moment, it is phantom villains and National Security.