Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump’s Presidency Is UnravelingPosted: May 20, 2017 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics 24 Comments
Here we are only a little more than 100 days into the Trump presidency and it looks like impeachment is on the horizon. Trump has tried to interfere with the Russia investigation and has even fired the FBI director. He gave top secret intelligence to the Russians. He’s using his office to make money hand over fist. He’s considered a laughingstock around the world. If only someone could have warned us what a disastrous president he would turn out to be. Oh wait…
Think Progress: The little known woman who predicted exactly what kind of president Donald Trump would be.
It is appropriate to be appalled at the current state of our government. But none of us should be particularly shocked. We were warned, time and time again, by people who know Trump well and who know the role of the presidency well, that the former was in no way fit to fill the latter.
And nobody warned us about the danger Trump posed to our nation more forcefully or with more prescience than Hillary Clinton.
“[A]s Michelle Obama has said, the presidency doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are,” she said in Raleigh, North Carolina days before the election. “And I think it’s fair to say that my opponent has already revealed who he is.”
Clinton knew then that Trump’s allegiance to Putin and Russia was not only problematic, but dangerous.
“It is pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyber attacks against the United States of America. That you encouraged espionage against our people. That you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do,” she said during the third presidential debate.
“[Trump] would rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us.”
Click on the link to read much more of the wisdom that Hillary shared during the 2016 campaign while the media obsessed over emails hacked and released by Russia to help Trump.
Even the people who work for Trump are getting disgusted with him. After new broke yesterday that Trump called James Comey “crazy, a real nut job” in a meeting with Russian officials and then went on to say that he had fired Comey because of pressure from the Russia investigation, they vented to reporters.
The Daily Beast: Trump Officials: ‘He Looks More and More Like a Complete Moron.’
The administration officials and West Wing aides who were left grounded stateside on Friday late afternoon couldn’t do much more than dodge questions and vent inflamed frustrations at their boss. (Senior staffers who escaped aboard Air Force One included Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks, press secretary Sean Spicer, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.)
“I’m glad I’m not on the plane so I could be here to answer your Russia questions,” a senior Trump administration official said, sarcastically, before abruptly hanging up.
Trump’s remarks quickly elicited groans, and some harsh words, from senior officials who did speak with The Daily Beast.
“If Donald Trump gets impeached, he will have one person to blame: Donald Trump,” one of those administration officials said.
The official noted a pattern among leaks that have dominated headlines this week: In virtually every case—the president’s request that Comey pledge fealty to him, a subsequent ask that Comey ease an investigation into his former top national security aide, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and revelations that he hopes to rehire Flynn when the FBI wraps up its probe—leaked Trump statements have revealed flippance or hostility toward a federal investigation into alleged Russian meddling in 2016’s presidential election.
The resulting clamor of calls for an independent probe into that meddling—the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to lead such a probe this week—and allegations of criminal obstruction and calls for impeachment were entirely avoidable, the official suggested.
And it gets worse.
Trump’s repeated media missteps have frustrated even longtime supporters. “Every day he looks more and more like a complete moron,” said one senior administration official who also worked on Trump’s campaign. “I can’t see Trump resigning or even being impeached, but at this point I wish he’d grow a brain and be the man that he sold himself as on the campaign.”
Asked whether an administration staff change-up would ameliorate this latest crisis, a Republican source formerly involved with a pro-Trump political group told The Daily Beast, “yes, if it comes with a frontal lobotomy for Trump.”
Trump aides also are confused by Trump’s continued praise of and efforts to reach out to fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Politico: Trump told aides firing Flynn was a mistake.
Two days after firing Michael Flynn as his national security adviser in February, President Donald Trump told several aides and friends he should have kept him instead….
“I was kind of stunned,” one person said. “I asked him. You fired him already. What are you going to do?”
Trump has grown obsessed with defending the tough-talking 58-year old general, repeatedly telling aides and associates in private that Flynn was a “good man.” One adviser close to Trump said he’s heard Trump defend the general using the exact words described in reports of memos written by former FBI director James Comey recording his conversations with the president — and that Trump has told people inside the White House he wished the investigation would go away.
It has left White House officials and outside advisers perplexed: Why is Trump so determined to defend a man at the center of a federal investigation that is damaging his administration, and a man he has accused of lying to his vice president?
Officials say Trump has remained resolute in defending Flynn even though aides, including White House Counsel Don McGahn, have reminded Trump of the Russia investigation and other problems. News reports about Flynn, including his lobbying for foreign governments, haven’t bothered Trump nearly as much as they’ve bothered his aides, senior officials said. News of subpoenas haven’t caused him to lose faith, even privately, associates said.
“A lot of people in the White House don’t want anything to do with Flynn,” one White House official said. ”But Trump loves him. He thinks everyone is out to get him.”
So now Trump is in Saudi Arabia, and he’s going to give a speech on Islam to 50 Middle-Eastern leaders. The speech was written by notorious alt-right islamophobe Stephen Miller.
The author of President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, which targeted people from six-majority Muslim countries, is the principal speechwriter for the President’s speech on Islam in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior adviser for policy and speechwriter, is the principal aide in charge of writing both the speech on Islam and Trump’s later speech on the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a White House official told CNN.
Both are topics Miller has spoken out against throughout his career on Capitol Hill and in the White House.
The official said the speech has been put together through a collaborative process inside the White House, but that Miller was the primary author.
The speech, which will be given in front of about 50 Muslim leaders, could be a flashpoint in Trump’s eight-day, five country trip. Trump has long derided Islam, proposed banning all Muslim immigration into the United States during the campaign and is expected to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” throughout the speech in Saudi Arabia, the cradle of the 1.6 billion-member religion.
What could possibly go wrong?
It will be current National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster’s job to keep Trump on a short leash on his foreign trip. I’m not so sure how capable McMaster is at controlling his boss, considering that McMaster was present at the meet where Trump handed Israeli intelligence secrets to the Russians and admitted that he fired the FBI director be cause he’s “a nutjob” for investigating connections between Trump and Russia.
Jake Tapper at CNN: Between Trump and his national security adviser lie ‘ferocious’ internal politics.
As President Donald Trump heads overseas for his first international trip as President, many in the international community will be watching his national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, who has just experienced one of the most politically challenging weeks of his career.
The trip — to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, a NATO summit in Brussels and a G7 summit in Sicily — will be fraught with international risks, and much of it is riding on the ability of McMaster to steer the President in the right directions.
“It can be difficult to advise the President effectively given his seemingly short attention span and propensity to be easily distracted,” a source knowledgeable about McMaster’s day-to-day challenges told CNN.
The source added that McMaster’s task — being an honest broker of various national security options for the President — is further complicated by fears on the National Security Council that Trump can be reckless with sensitive information.
“You can’t say what not to say,” the source said of Trump, “because that will then be one of the first things he’ll say.”
When the president is “a moron,” it can be difficult to work for him. If only the media hadn’t ignored Hillary’s warnings.
McMaster increasingly finds himself in a situation where rivals in the White House “try to undermine him or leak information to the media that undermines the national security of the United States.”
Bannon is said to be “the biggest obstruction” to McMaster doing his job.
In one recent situation, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and McMaster had agreed that they would provide a range of options for the President in terms of how to proceed in Afghanistan, including a modest increase in the number of US troops in Afghanistan.
But before McMaster could make the recommendation, the option of a troop buildup was leaked to the media, with part of the leak including that Bannon opposed such a move. The blowback from conservatives and others cleaused the recommendations to be delayed, and others who supported the move to get “skittish.” The leak was perceived within the NSC as Bannon or his allies trying to stamp McMaster’s name onto the proposal and to push back against it through the media.
Read more at CNN.
Trump will also be going to Israel, where Intel officials were “horrified” by his leaks to Russian officials. Recall that McMaster said these leaks were “wholly appropriate.”
The Times of Israel: ‘Horrified’ Israeli intel officials ‘were shouting at US counterparts’ over Trump leak.
US President Donald Trump’s reported sharing of a highly classified Israeli tip with Russia led to incredibly tense meetings between Israeli and American intelligence officials, Foreign Policy Magazine reported Friday.
The Israelis reportedly shouted at their US counterparts, demanding an explanation for Trump’s actions, according to the magazine, which quoted a US defense official….
Though Washington and Jerusalem have publicly brushed aside reports of the incident, behind the scenes top Israeli defense officials are said to be angry and concerned by the president’s actions.
Beyond the possible danger to the source, FP reported that Israelis feared they had lost any further access to the spy’s intel.
Though the magazine noted that IS is not currently a major concern for the Jewish state, the spy was also reportedly a major asset in gaining information on the actions of Iran in Syria — through its Revolutionary Guards Corps and Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, both of which have been fighting for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
One more story about the moron-in-chief, before I wrap this up. Business Insider: Trump’s aides hosted an ‘intervention’ to try to tone down his Twitter use.
President Donald Trump’s aides grew so alarmed by the barrage of inflammatory tweets coming from Trump that they organized an “intervention,” one official said to The Wall Street Journal.
Hosted several weeks ago, the discussion was reportedly meant to encourage Trump to exercise more restraint on the social media platform, which has gotten Trump into trouble in the past — more recently when he openly accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his campaign.
Aides warned Trump his tweets could “paint him into a corner” potentially compromising him both politically and legally.
Of course it didn’t work . . .
I know I’ve just scratched the surface of all the fast-breaking news. What are you hearing and reading? Let us know in the comment thread below. Have a nice weekend and keep plenty of popcorn on hand.
Haven’t finished reading all of this yet but I need to vent. I love Joy Reid and think she’s brilliant but as soon as she trots out that wanna-be fool Naveed Jamali my TV goes off. I do not understand her loyalty to him. She passes him off as some kind of intelligence expert and it drives me nuts.
Jancien: best fantasy I’ve heard yet.
I mean President Nancy Pelosi, as per your item down below.
I mean, best fantasy if we can’t have Pres. HRC, and we can’t with rules as they stand, but if Dems could take house in ’18, as you say…
and here I am saying “we,” and I’m a Canadian, not American, but I guess like everyone everywhere, “we” are all worried about Trump, and feel very sad for the American People, and heartily hope that the strength of their institutions and collective character will see them through this dark period.
I’m one of the original “Reiders”. I loved her when she first got on MSNBC. She does not suffer fools and she always has the data and sources to back up her arguments. She just kills them!
All true. I just don’t understand her devotion to Naveed Jamali. He’s no intelligence expert and his insights are meaningless sound bites. She is a brilliant debater and can hold her own with anyone but she loses credibility with me every time she has him on her show.
My fantasy is that we swing the House in 2018 and then Trump and Pence get impeached and convicted and we have President Pelosi. Maybe then she picks Hillary for her veep.
Janicen – is that how it would work? I tried to look it up but don’t have the brains really – lol. Would Ryan be President, or acting President? Would he fill out the four-year term or is it dependent on his position of Speaker?
I would give anything to see that scenario you describe.
Depends on being Speaker, not on being ranking member of the same party as the impeachees.
Pelosi would be better than any Repub, but she’s done what she can to backstab Clinton and she’s been plenty mealymouthed in Congress (remember when Dems had the majority and she saw no need for an ethics investigation of the Shrub?). The scenario you describe would infuriate me.
Hillary is head and shoulders above any contemporaries. She’s nobody’s veep. I don’t know how many decades, centuries?, it’s going to take for some general recognition of what a minority threw away for us, but it sure was balm to read bb’s quotes of Hillary’s You-Were-Warned.
I’ve had my moments with Pelosi as well – but I’m just grasping for a solution to our current predicament. And Pelosi would absolutely infuriate the GOPers!
I still think the best strategy is to go for Trump and Pence. The Republicans are trying to protect Pence. If we can do it and get pass the 2018 elections then any on can be appointed Democratic Speaker of the House and boom! We get a president …
Saudia Arabia’s rulers gave tRump a lavish welcome. No telling how big his head is growing with that kind of treatment.
Great post, BB. Thank you.
Forgot to attach.
I couldn’t open the Foreign Policy story so I put a different one in my post.
Just thought I’d stick it up as a supplement … I followed through to your links and then grabbed a tweet for the link. This being able to link through Twitter is great!
Were you able to read the FP one? I couldn’t even when I signed in.
I have big problems with anyone who thinks Trump “sold” himself on the campaign trail as anything other than a moron. Every rotten thing about him was right out in public for everyone to see. They just saw what they wanted to see and didn’t give a damned about our country or the rest of the world. It was all out there. Bankruptcies, lack of character, greedy narcissistic behavior, white supremacy bullshit, women hating, etc. All of it was in plain view.
He sold himself as a racist, xenophobic, misogynist who was willing to carry water for the evangelicals if they’d vote for him.