Politics postsThursday February 14, 2019
Threat Level I
“People do not appreciate how far we have fallen from normal standards of presidential accountability. Today we have a president who is willing not only to comment prejudicially on criminal prosecutions but to comment on ones that potentially affect him. He does both of these things almost daily. He is not just sounding a dog whistle. He is lobbying for a result. The president has stepped over bright ethical and moral lines wherever he has encountered them. Every day brings a new low, with the president exposing himself as a deliberate liar who will say whatever he pleases to get whatever he wants. If he were ”on the box“ at Quantico, he would break the machine.”
former acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, in his book, “The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump,” which was excerpted on The Atlantic site. The smallness and nastiness of Trump is highlighted in particular in how angry he got that James Comey was allowed to return to D.C. on a government airplane after he was fired while delivering a speech on the west coast. Trump wanted him to twist in the wind. When all the shit finally comes out, when the astonishing smallness, nastiness and greed of this man is laid bare for everyone (even Fox News watchers) to see, all those who supported him will look like the biggest saps or the biggest traitors in our country's history. Or both.
Connected to the President
The New York Times put together this beautiful chart after Roger Stone was indicted in January. I think I took the screen shot for social media but it's worth putting into my online scrapbook here. Tip of the iceberg? Or not even close to the tip?
Tour Guide in Chief
Past occupation: Truck driver in chief.
Yesterday, The Washington Post ran a story, based on an early copy of “Team of Vipers,” a new book by former White House aide Cliff Sims. The Post's piece is all about the apparent joy Trump has showing guests around the White House—including the private residence. He likes to bring them to the Lincoln bedroom and comment on how big Lincoln was versus how small the bed is. He likes to take them to the the spot, just off the Oval Office, where Bill and Monica had their sexual encounters. Crass conversations sometimes follow. The Post leads with that tidbit but to me they bured the lead. Because we get this halfway through:
The president has also claimed to guests, without evidence, that his private dining room off the Oval Office was in “rough shape” and had a hole in the wall when he came into the West Wing and that President Barack Obama used it to watch sports, according to two White House officials and two other people who have heard him discuss the dining room. “He just sat in here and watched basketball all day,” Trump told a recent group, before saying he upgraded Obama's smaller TV to a sprawling, flat-screen one, the four people said.
It shouldn't shock by now—the pettiness of the man, and the projection of the right-wing in general: foisting their own crimes on their enemies—but it still does. This man is still president. And he will always have been president. He will always have been in the 45th spot. This idiot. This liar and racist, this spoiled five-year-old in the worn-out, grotesque 72-year-old body. This know-nothing who claims supreme knoweldge on everything. “No one knows more about tour guiding than I do.”
The Post includes this graf, which almost feels unnecessary at this point:
An Obama White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Obama does not generally respond to Trump's remarks, said that there was no hole in the wall and that Obama rarely worked in the room and did not watch basketball there.
How does the legit press cover a man this small and petty and childish? Who lies more than he breathes? They haven't figured it out.
Rudy, Hitting the Showers
There's a kind of insane interview between Isaac Chotiner and Rudy Giuliani on the New Yorker site. A lot has to do with the Buzzfeed article last week about whether Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about when Trump Tower Moscow negotiations ended. We now know Cohen did lie to Congress—he told Congress the negotiations ended in Jan. 2016 when they continued until at least June 2016 and possibly into the Nov. election—but is there evidence or corroboration that Trump told Cohen to lie? That's the issue. That's where we are now.
The insane thing is how all over the place Rudy sounds. He's not exactly playing it close to the vest. He says he can only talk a minute because he needs to take a shower and then just keeps talking. That gift of gab is probably in his DNA.
He's also doing the lawyer thing: What can be charged, and what can be proven, in a court of law? It's insane that that's where we are with the president of the United States, where even appearances are supposed to matter:
Does it matter to the American people if it's true? We are living in a democracy here. We want to know these things.
That's an insane question you just asked me. I am not saying that he did it. I just told you he didn't do it. I am telling you that their investigation is so ridiculous that, even if he did do it, it wouldn't be a crime. Now, would the American people be interested in it? Of course. There's a big difference between what the American people would be interested in and what's a crime. The American people can be interested in a lot of things people conceal that aren't crimes. I'm a criminal lawyer. I am not an ethicist. And I defend people against unfair criminal charges.
We haven't begun to pay for all this.
I was spending my Saturday night like the rebel-rouser that I am, trying to translate a 30-year-old Chinese song called “Chichi dedeng” (“Foolishly waiting” is the best I can come up with), when I came across this post on Twitter that made me just stop everything:
He is https://t.co/1pFpQG9ynM— Ted Boutrous (@BoutrousTed) January 13, 2019
In case you don't know: Ted Boutrous is one of the top appellate lawyers in the country. He works for the law firm Gibson Dunn, whose biggest name is probably former solicitor general Ted Olson, who repped Bush in Bush v. Gore and Citizens United in the Citizens United decision. So not exactly leaning left. Boutrous isn't that, and he's been a vocal social media and legal opponent of Trump since the get-go, but he's a respected attorney for a respected firm. He wouldn't make random public charges about anyone, let alone a vindictive president of the United States. This feels new. This feels real.
Here's the beginning of the WaPost piece by Greg Miller:
President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.
Read the whole thing.
Trump is denying everything, of course. One day the truth will out. That day feels closer and closer.