Politics postsTuesday January 29, 2019
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.
The New York Times has a piece on how the Florida panhandle suffered through Hurricane Michael in October and is now suffering through Hurricane Donald and his partial government shutdown. Many in the panhandle, who reliably vote Republican, rely on the federal government for jobs. Now they're looking at a potential abyss caused by the guy they voted for.
The jaw-dropping part of the article is the ending quote from a federal prison employee:
“I voted for him, and he’s the one who’s doing this,” she said of Mr. Trump. “I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.”
Obvious follow-up: “Who did you want him to hurt?” Was it even asked?
Something to Look Forward to in 2019
“One critical issue was the meeting at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, when the senior leadership of the Trump campaign, including Kushner, Manafort, and Donald Trump, Jr., met with a lawyer whom they had been told was a representative of the Russian government who had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. According to telephone records available to the [intelligence] committee, three days before the meeting Trump, Jr., made a series of calls. In the interval between one call from Russia and another to Russia on that day, Trump, Jr., spoke for three or four minutes to someone whose phone number was blocked. This raised the question of whether Trump, Jr., had advised his father of the planned meeting—which both the President and his son have long denied. Under Nunes, the committee declined to issue a subpoena to the telephone company to determine whether Trump, Jr., had been talking with his father. Schiff told me that, when he takes over the committee, one of his first orders of business will be to issue such a subpoena.
Jeffrey Toobin in his article, ”Adam Schiff's Plans to Obliterate Trump's Red Line," in the Dec. 24/31 New Yorker