Quote of the Week: “The redemption money is paying for the wall!” ~ Donald J. Trump

Never mind that there is no such thing as ”redemption money” when it comes to Mexico, immigration or the wall (or anything but kidnapping ransoms and recycling bottles for a nickel apiece for that matter), that is beside the point. Trump was, after all, speaking to his beloved poorly educated at a MAGA rally when he said that, where the odds of him telling the truth are slim to none, and the odds of his crazy lies going unchallenged are 100%.

Week # 161 of the Trump Era opened on Friday morning with Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman cleaning out his desk at the White House, summarily fired by Trump for testifying before Congress, with Vindman “to be reassigned within the military,” an invaluable asset to the National Security Council discarded for committing an abject act of honesty before the enemy (Congress). And to prove that Trump’s pettiness knows no bounds, Lt. Col Vindman’s twin brother, also a Lt. Colonel, Yevgeny Vindman, who was a senior lawyer for the National Security Council, was also “sent back to the Department of the Army for reassignment” on Friday.

The political appointee Trump picked to facilitate his and Giuliani’s blackmail scheme in Ukraine, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, was also kicked out, also for the “crime” of obeying a subpoena and swearing an oath to tell (and here’s where it begins to burn Trump like acid) “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”  Trump had him recalled from his post immediately, in spite of a number of Republican Senators urging him not to fire Sondland because that would look too much like petty personal vengeance at the expense of America’s National Security interests.

To which Trump responded “And your point is?”

Then, after being impeached for going after Hunter Biden but acquitted by the Senate, Trump went after Hunter Biden again, once again claiming “all the crimes were on the other side.” Then he said that Congress should do what is not possible for Congress to do, to expunge his impeachment from the record. “Should they expunge the impeachment in the House? They should because it was a hoax.”

To which the answer is “nope, can’t unring that bell.”

On Saturday Trump defended firing Lt. Colonel Vindman because “he reported the contents of my perfect calls incorrectly,” and said he got a “bad work report,” and was also was “an insubordinate leaker.” The same perfect call that got Trump impeached, and the same Lt. Colonel Vindman whose work reviews were uniformly outstanding for his entire time in the nation’s service, which is how he and his brother wound up working in the White House in the first place.

On Sunday, President Trump responded to the disturbing news of the attempted assassinations of 2 Police officers by a lone gunman in New York City, including an incident of the gunman entering a Bronx Police Precinct House firing a gun. No, Trump did not reach out to the families of the wounded officers, did not condemn wanton gun violence, or offer his support to the officers for their swift recovery and return to their valiant service (again, that guy’s not president anymore, and ya can’t have him back!). No, President Avenger took the opportunity to attack Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio for the actions of a madman, claiming that as Democrats they both failed to respect and protect law enforcement officers. This to a city with over 30,000 Police Officers where the loss of a single one of them fills the streets with mourners.

Sunday we also learned more about Attorney General William Barr reviewing the impeachment charges, that President Donald J. Trump put pressure on Ukraine in a campaign run by himself and Rudy Giuliani to frame the Biden Family for phony crimes, and thereby invite foreign interference in the 2020 election. Well, not so much reviewing it as using it as a template for a potential prosecution in America, the way Giuliani intended to occur in Ukraine, with Barr looking at Giuliani’s “evidence” (the debunked crock of shit that got Trump impeached).

Tearing a page out of Trump’s book that day was Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, who we found out allegedly “sought damaging information” about a congressional staffer who was sexually assaulted at a veterans hospital in order to discredit her testimony, according to VA Department Inspector General. No word if either Lev Parnas or Igor Fruman did any freelancing here for Mr. Wilkie.

On Monday we were treated to Trump’s proposed 2021 Budget, a $4.6 trillion cornucopia featuring more wall funding, a $1 trillion deficit with no deficit-reduction plan and, just two days after Trump swore on national TV to “never touch Social Security and Medicare,” a trillion dollar cut to those institutions (our money in case anyone was wondering) was proposed, as well as (literally) the Federal Government creating a (!) hunger crisis in the most bountiful nation on Earth by slashing Food Stamps, which will in turn further punish America’s famers, the ones already suffering severe casualties on the front lines of Trump’s dumbass trade war.

Trump announced he would cancel any more meetings with Kim Jong Un until after the election, what with them always serving as reminders of what utter failures they all were. For him anyway. For Kim, the Trump Summits were his ticket to Great Statesmanville. But Trump did, however, come away with something from his many encounters with the tyrants of this world with whom he so closely identities, the reinforcement of his world view, best exemplified by Trump wondering out loud why we can’t just execute our drug dealers in public after “fair but speedy trials,” no doubt his head spinning at the Reality TV-style ratings potential that a series of good old fashioned public executions would bring.

Works like a charm for his Saudi pals, what with them being so enviably unencumbered by things like rule of law, due process, presumption of innocence, Miranda rights and the like. Besides, Trump knows that long trials and endless legal delays are for lawsuits by your creditors, defying Congress and hiding your tax returns, not for criminals who can’t afford Alan Dershowitz.

One of Trump’s invented “enemies,” Amazon CEO and bazillionaire Jeff Bezos, made the news twice this week, first by buying a mansion for $163 million (he had that much on him), and then when his company sought to legally depose President Donald Trump (sworn testimony under oath, like garlic and a crucifix to Trump) and Defense Secretary Mark Esper in a lawsuit over whether the President was trying “to screw Amazon” (he was) when the Pentagon awarded a $10 billion Pentagon contract for cloud computing to rival Microsoft without the transparent vetting process such contracts legally require.

Trump also announced a plan to log the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, before jetting off to New Hampshire on the eve of their primary to disrupt Democrats, bringing operatives with him who will “visit polling places,” bringing his strategy of Election Interference to the grassroots level.

He held a MAGA rally there on Monday night, where he invented the concept of Redemption Money with this: “You do know who’s paying for the wall, don’t you? Redemption from illegal aliens! The redemption money is paying for the wall.” So pleased was he with the success of that lie, he followed it by reprising one his greatest hits, the classic comedy routine about New Hampshire “importing busloads of voters from Massachusetts to vote for Hillary in 2016.” 

Trump also revealed his bold plan to defeat the spread of coronavirus: “April heat.” Which was as stunning a scientific judgement as his reaction to the fact that 109 American soldiers are being treated for serious brain injuries as a result of the Iranian rocket attack on 3 US military bases in Iraq: “I won’t be changing my mind” that their injuries “are not very serious.” That ought to be a comfort to the soldiers, their families and their medical teams. Leadership 101!

On Tuesday Trump ran a seminar for his followers in New Hampshire on how to interfere with free democratic elections, urging them to take advantage of  the State’s “unaffiliated status” to vote for the weakest Democratic candidate, and to tie up the New Hampshire Election Committee’s phone lines with nuisance calls all day.

Speaking of interfering with due process, Attorney General Barr responded to Trump’s frequent complaints about the severity of the Department of Justice’s sentencing recommendations of his old buddy Roger Stone, when Barr personally intervened to withdraw the recommendation of 7 to 9 years to an unspecified “lighter sentence.”  This unprecedented interference caused all 4 Federal prosecutors on the case to resign in protest, and is causing widespread turmoil within the Justice Department.

And speaking of improprieties (and when aren’t we speaking of improprieties these past 3 years?) and the release of incriminating evidence only after the trial is over, we learned that the Office of Management and Budget was aware of the hold on Ukrainian military assistance and the illegal political reasons for that freeze, and repeatedly misled the Government Accounting Office over the nature of the freeze.

Then Willian Barr assigned Department of Justice lawyers at the US Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh with “vetting” the information turned over by Rudy Giuliani. You know, just in case the investigators in Pittsburgh come up with something that every single American and Allied Intelligence and Law Enforcement agency may have overlooked when they all declared Rudy’s information to be completely ridiculous as well as being positively identified as coming straight from the Kremlin.

So pleased was Trump at his success at turning the United States Department of Justice into his Personal Revenge Puppet Theater, he tried his luck bullying the Pentagon into punishing Lt. Colonel Vindman, even though no one has even suggested that Vindman broke a single rule, never mind committed any crime.

Wednesday found Trump undaunted in his quest for personal revenge, praising Barr for ”taking charge” of the Roger Stone case and demanding prosecutions of all the witnesses against him, pretty much proving Senator Chris Murphy right when he said that “Trump got a Get Out of Jail Free Card from Republican Senators,“ and predicting that he will now “go crazy with power” (okay, easypeasy prediction, but accurate). 

And speaking of revenge at the expense of national security, the Trump Administration withdrew Jesse Liu’s nomination for Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism, not because she was not an excellent choice for this crucial position, but because she happened to be the Department of Justice Supervising Attorney assigned to oversee important court cases than didn’t go Trump’s way, such as the Roger Stone case and the flimsy case against former FBI Director McCabe that found no wrongdoing on his part. Surely she could could have put her thumb on the scales of these two investigations and forced a different outcome than the dubious results obtained by relying on factual evidence and direct testimony! 

On Thursday Trump celebrated his newfound power by getting the old band back together and taking it on the road for the Revenge Tour 2020, aka the Trump Reelection Campaign. Former Trump personal assistant and Ivanka-surrogate Hope Hicks is back after a 2-year exile, joining original Trump Gang members Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer, who rejoined the White staff a couple of days earlier. Hicks is supposedly “working for Jared Kushner on projects, including the re-election campaign,” while Spicer and now US Navy Ensign Priebus are working on something called “White House Fellowships,” making that 3 more close Trump cronies with ill-defined jobs and nebulous official duties to go with First Daughter and First Son-in-Law, who have distinguished themselves lately by calling into question the “blatant nepotism” of Joe and Hunter Biden. Do tell!

Trump’s last Chief of Staff, to whom Trump seems to have left with a severe a case of permanent exasperation, General John Kelly, spoke to the press to support Lt. Colonel Vindman, saying he was doing exactly as he was trained to do, and praising his courageous honesty, making a point to say that he “took Lt. Colonel Vindman’s word over Trump’s.”

Trump responded to Kelly, Tweeting what was actually a mini-description of himself when he has been silent for 2 or more minutes: “he misses the action & just can’t keep his mouth shut.” Revealingly, he added “Like all X’s,” leaning on the one area where Trump really does have the most experience; people disappearing from his life, such as his wives, friends, siblings, partners, employees, managers, lawyers, aides, Cabinet Secretaries, Generals, press secretaries, FBI Directors, Chiefs of Staff, National Security Directors, etc, etc., with many more Xes to be eliminated on the Revenge Tour 2020.

Then Trump accused the jury that convicted Roger Stone of 5 felonies of “being rigged,” a mob term about a tactic used by the henchmen of guilty defendants, not prosecutors. And speaking of mob terms, Trump insulted the Governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, by referring to his TV commentator brother Chris Cuomo as “Fredo,” just prior to their meeting about Trump’s proposed ban on New York-based applications to Trusted Traveler programs.

Yep, the same New York with that giant green statue of Lady Liberty in the harbor, welcoming weary travelers to lay down their burdens and rise up as Americans, that New York is the one Trump wants to strip of Trusted Traveler Status, the mighty city that is at the center of almost every American immigrant success story, and remains the global symbol of freedom, the human spirit and a fresh start. Unfortunately, that is the same New York City that’s also the hometown that rejected Donald Trump, where he didn’t even win Trump Tower.

So it was no small wonder that the Senate voted to limit the ability of this madman drunk with vengeance to attack Iran, potentially forcing Trump to either go through Congress to wage war, or to veto the bill and reveal his true intentions. Perhaps emboldened by the Senate Republicans who voted for the bill, even Attorney General Bill Barr openly rebelled against Trump by saying his Tweets (about still-pending cases, a huge legal no-no) are “making it impossible for me to do my job!” adding “and I will not be bullied.”

It could have been Trump continually adding to the huge list of incriminating information he withheld from Congress that finally broke Bill Barr, or his open admission that he sent Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine for the specific purpose of digging up damaging information about Joe Biden whether it was real or not, Barr’s own capitulation to Trump on the Roger Stone case, or the return of window dressing amateurs like Hope Hicks, but Bill Barr is broken, and may soon be just another X-person in Trump’s life.

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