Week #160 of the Trump Era began with the Senate Trial of Trump being officially fixed, and ended with his launch of The Revenge Tour 2020 in the White House.
Friday was when the Senate was due to vote on the inclusion of witnesses and evidence in the President’s impeachment trial. With “witnesses and evidence” being pretty much the definition of a trial, one would think this was not an unreasonable request of a panel of 100 jurors sworn to (winkwinknudgenudge!) impartiality.
Well, we all know that oft-told tale by heart at this point, and the last thing Mitch McConnell wanted to hear was eyewitness accounts of Trump’s guilt because that would cost the Republican Senators a lot more votes when they acquitted Trump than it would if they just went ahead and skipped that whole messy “documents, witness testimony and cross-examination” thing.
After all, a lot of them really are the old country lawyers they claim to be, and sharp enough to know an unnecessary risk when they see one. Not even the news that the White House Counsel and one of Trump’s lead defense attorneys at his Senate Trial, Pat Cipollone, attended one the infamous meetings regarding Ukraine that got Trump impeached gave the Republicans pause.
Except for two of them, Senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, but still not enough to overcome the GOP majority, effectively ending the trial right there and insuring Trump’s acquittal the following week. The Stock Market, expected to surge in response, instead took a coronavirus nosedive in a panic selloff of China-related stocks.
The Coronavirus is rapidly becoming a severe health crisis no longer confined to China, and we can surely expect our President to address the nation very soon to outline his Administration’s response to a potential deadly outbreak. Just kidding of course. That guy’s not President anymore. Who knows what plans this administration has to defeat caronavirus?
With the vote to exclude evidence out of the way, the Trump Administration admitted on Saturday that it is hiding dozens of emails crucial to the Ukraine scandal, rubbing it in the 75% of our noses who favored witnesses, evidence and a true trial. Then, to rub salt in the Constitution’s wounds, Attorney General Barr prohibited any federal law enforcement agency from undertaking any investigations into a presidential campaign without his direct approval, in effect putting the might of the Department of Justice behind any cheating Trump will do in the next election.
On Sunday the American people threw a $3.5 million Super Bowl Party at Trump’s golf resort and “Winter White House,” Mar A Lago, in his new home state of Florida. No, none of us were invited, only members of the club, big political donors and prominent Republican leaders, who are members of an entirely different sort of club since Trump took over the GOP. We just paid the tab, but can at least gain some measure of joy knowing that the party was a rousing success. Other than that unfortunate “Great State of Kansas” business when Trump guessed the winning team’s State wrong, it was all glitter and champagne.
Monday gave us the closing arguments in the suddenly-truncated Senate Trial, first by the Senate Managers, then by Counsel for The President. Lead Manager Adam Schiff’s delivered a remarkable summation of the case against the President, a masterful closing argument for the ages, a speech that he knew would fall on deaf Republican ears in the Senate, but resound with the American people. The President’s Counsel responded as you would expect a team to respond when they know the fix is in, all arrogance and phony dramatics, telling silly lies, defending same, Senate adjourned.
On Tuesday, the Senators got to speak for 10 minutes apiece if they so wished, and many did so with predictable results; the Republicans either defending Trump as completely innocent, or calling him an idiot, but our idiot, whose undeniable crimes did not rise to the level or impeachment. The Democrats predictably repeated themselves, sticking to the same tired old “established facts and sworn testimony” that resulted in this trial, not even having the wit to make up any new theories of who else might have done it, or to invent a single scapegoat.
Senator Rand Paul, earlier silenced by Chief Justice John Roberts for trying to publicly divulge the name of the Whistleblower during the Senators Question and Answer Period of the trial, found a way to betray that person by revealing his or her alleged identity on a placard he flashed at TV cameras, potentially putting that person and their family’s lives in danger and a violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act, a serious crime that will no doubt go unpunished in keeping with the spirit of the proceedings.
The Senate wrapped up early in order to spruce themselves up for Tuesday’s night’s State of The Union Address, Trump’s third time doing the honors, making one more dubious entry in the history books as the first Impeached President to make a State of The Union Address. Someone call the Guinness Book people!
Trump’s State of The Union speech was of course riddled with lies and boasts, and he postured and preened like a modern day Mussolini, demonizing his predecessors while claiming their achievements as his own, claiming to have orchestrated “a Great American Comeback” (not clear from what other than a Black President), rejoiced in taking food from hungry mouths on a grand scale, declared a Blue Collar Boom that does not exist, invented 12,000 imaginary factories, lied about guaranteeing health care for people with pre-existing conditions while his administration was in court that very day trying to let health providers off the hook for treating people with pre-existing conditions, then declared that his screaming clusterfuck of an administration has (!!!) “America being highly respected again.”
He and his Republican minions turned the State of The Union Address into a MAGA rally, complete with the sycophantic chants of “Four More Years! Four More Years!” This was a campaign rally, plain and simple, and he framed his theme for the 2020 Election, the dreaded Socialism, which he will of course try to attach to his Democratic opponents.
Trump engaged in a dangerous bit of Showbiz Statecraft by introducing Juan Guaidó, who calls himself the “acting President of Venezuela” even though there’s already another guy who was elected president who’s running the show in Venezuela while Guaidó was in the balcony of another country’s Capitol Building under the protection of a very unstable American President. But that’s just reality, a minor consideration to Trump’s game show mentality, where ratings are the only arbiters of reality and perception is the hard currency of success.
All the boxes are checked for Venezuela qualifying for Gunpoint Democracy; the country is in political chaos and economic ruin due to a series of incompetent and corrupt governments, there’s a Bogeyman (Socialist) in charge and, most importantly, they have a whole lot of untapped petroleum, ambrosia to those who hunger for good old America democracy.
For good measure, Trump attacked Cuba again, doing his best to reverse Obama’s policy of engagement with Cuba and the normalization of relations. Cuba is simply too good a Strawman with which to beat up the Democrats and brand them as Socialists in the Fidel Castro/Hugo Chavez mold. The damaged lives in both our countries and the resulting international tensions that this is certain to create will just have to take a backseat to the more important issue of Trump’s reelection.
Among the usual honorees, from military heroes to single moms to sick children to astronauts that a President introduces during a State of The Union speech, Trump had a surprise in store (okay a revolting surprise, but still…) when he introduced (!) Rush Limbaugh, possibly the 2nd or 3rd most hated man in America behind Sean Hannity and Trump himself as his guest of honor, seated beside the First Lady.
Not only did Trump announce he was giving this cruel psychotic rabble-rousing racist the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he turned the Congressional Chamber into the set of a Reality TV show and had Melania award it to Rush on the spot. Same room with a century-old Tuskegee Airman and an astronaut, and it’s Limbaugh who gets the medal normally awarded to humanity’s shining lights, people like John Steinbeck, Duke Ellington, Eli Wiesel, Chuck Yeager, Nelson Mandela, Steven Hawking, Neil Armstrong, Jesse Owens and Mother Theresa.
Trump then promised “to end late term abortions,” which, all things considered, turned out to be a good time to unveil his paid family leave plan, The Family Leave Act, coupled with expanded early child care programs for working parents, both issues that have long been championed by Congressional Democrats, but now rebranded Trump, which is okay by the Democrats as long as young families get some measure of relief from the relentless pressure of trying not to implode in Trump’s Minimum Wage Paradise.
For once in his life, Trump did not go off script. He didn’t have to. Though obviously not written by Trump himself, his speechwriters were finally one with his nasty, boastful and crude personality, and wrote the perfect Trump Speech.
Perfect for a MAGA rally that is. For an audience of educated, informed and sophisticated legislators, however, not so much. The pack of lies, insults, boasts and cheap showbiz pandering made a mockery of the occasion and was an affront to Congress and the American people. In other words, a day at the office for Trump. His speech was best summed up by Speaker of The House Nancy Pelosi when she wordlessly ripped up her copy of his speech the moment it was over.
On Wednesday came the formality of the Senate’s acquittal of Trump on the two Articles of Impeachment, the only drama being Mitt Romney’s touching speech about his conscience and the sanctity of his oath of office, and why he would vote to convict Trump, the only Republican to do more than pay lip service to his religion.
Then the roll was taken and so ended the Senate trial of Donald J. Trump, President of The United States, with the expected acquittal, a trial which featured opening arguments and closing arguments, with nothing in between, since the Republicans saw fit to dispense with the middle part of the trial and at least give the people the appearance of a fair trial before registering their preordained verdict. So pleased was the President that he partied that evening at his Trump International Hotel down the block from the White House with some cronies, including one of his disgraced former campaign managers (never seems to be any shortage of those), Corey Lewandowski.
Trump was up and assembled bright and early for a change on Thursday morning as he used the last day of Week #161 of The Trump Era to launch his Revenge Tour, beginning in earnest at (!) The National Prayer Breakfast. After enduring some irritating prayers and pious comments, Trump was finally introduced by Keynote Speaker Arthur C. Brooks, who reminded the audience that Jesus commanded them to “love your enemies,” so we should treat one another with respect.
Fat chance. Trump’s first words were “Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you.” And to prove just how much he disagreed with the notion of treating people with respect at a Prayer Breakfast, he waved around his “Acquitted” headlines before viciously slandering Mitt Romney and Nancy Pelosi in particular and Democrats in general, pulling out his petty Pity Party schtick about how everything imaginable is “very unfair to me,” repeating his crazy lies from his State of the Union Address, and generally acting like a nasty drunk at the funeral of a brother-in-law he couldn’t stand.
But Trump was just getting warmed up for his White House meeting of his minions at noon, which was, as he described it; “not a press conference, it’s not a speech…it’s not anything. It’s a celebration.” Surprisingly enough, Trump took time to thank his defense attorneys, their staff and select Republican legislators who had recently registered personal bests for repugnant behavior, with Mitch McConnell singled out for special praise as the evil mastermind he is, the man who orchestrated Trump’s acquittal before his trial had even begun.
Then it was all revenge, hatred and threats of official retribution as Trump went full foaming-at-the-mouth crazy with a super-sized portion of vicious, aiming at both his perceived enemies in the opposition party and some unnamed disloyal allies within his administration, the implication being that many heads will soon roll, starting with Lt. Colonel Vindman, as Trump cleans house and cooks up phony criminal investigations against Democrats with his new hatchet man William Barr, ever eager to carry out Trump’s political vendettas.
Trump also announced his planned attacks on 2 States, stripping New York of its “Global Entry” immigration status for the crime of investigating his crimes, and Utah for the crimes of having gas and oil deposits discovered underneath a National Park, and electing a Senator that voted to remove him from office. Yes, the same Mitt Romney who was the standard bearer for the Republican Party just 8 years ago, now an isolated pariah in the party he once led, and perhaps soon an outcast. Romney’s State will be treated to destructive and toxic fracking and drilling on some of the most iconic and beautiful landscapes of the American West. It’s Trump’s GOP now, and the Revenge Tour 2020 is #1 on the agenda, and already in full swing.