Thursday Reads: The Low-Energy, Emotional “President”Posted: November 15, 2018
During the 2016 presidential campaign, we constantly heard complaints from Trump and media folks about Hillary’s health, her failure to hold regular press conferences, and her supposed lack of “stamina.” But, as we Sky Dancers knew then, it was all projection. Trump won* and now we have a “president” who won’t go out in the rain, who needs hours of “executive time” every day so he can watch TV and tweet and who, at most, can manage a couple of events per day.
Today he and Melania are going to visit the Marine barracks in Washington, DC, and then returning to the White House where Trump will deliver “remarks” supporting the military at 1:30PM. I guess that’s it for today. He had some “executive time” this morning, and his tweets seem to suggest that he’s getting “inside” information from fake acting AG Whitaker.
The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff followed up on Trump’s claims.
The “president” is as moody as the stereotypical menopausal woman.
A political clobbering, bickering aides and now a public grenade launched across the White House by the first lady have placed President Donald Trump in a position he loathes: backed into a corner.
A week after standing in the East Room and declaring victory in the midterm elections, the President is isolated and growing more furious by the day. He’s openly speculating about replacing more members of his Cabinet, though so far has stopped short of executing the dismissals, leaving those aides in a career purgatory.
At an election night party at the White House, Trump left attendees guessing when he was spotted in a huddle with a potential replacement for his chief of staff, John Kelly, who himself stood awkwardly in a corner.
“Yes, he’s pissed — at damn near everyone,” a White House official said, noting the mood in the Oval Office is darker than normal this week. After nearly a month straight of campaigning before adoring crowds, the applause has gone silent and the President has retreated. The tempest has led to rampant speculation inside the building about the fates of other senior staffers, some of whom are beginning to plan their exits.
Such a whiny crybaby. Whaaaaaa!
Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair: “Insanity, “Furious,” “On His Own”: Trump’s Post Midterm Blues are Vexing His Staff and Roiling the White House.
As Donald Trump’s West Wing careens through one of the most turbulent weeks of his presidency, White House officials are struggling to understand the source of the fury fueling the president’s eruptions. “This is a level of insanity I’ve never seen before,” one former West Wing staffer told me. Current and former officials are debating different theories for Trump’s outbursts, ranging from his fears over his son Don Jr.’s legal exposure to the prospect that House Democrats will unleash investigations in January. “He’s under a tremendous amount of mental stress,” one prominent Republican close to him told me.
What’s surprising to some advisers about how bad the past week has been is that Trump initially seemed to take the midterm losses in stride. Last Tuesday, he was in high spirits as he watched election returns come in with about a hundred friends at the White House. Trump told people that his barnstorming rally schedule had mobilized his base and held Republican losses to historical lows, while increasing Republican gains in the Senate. “He really thought he won the midterms,” a prominent Republican who spoke with Trump said.
But by Wednesday, after hours of commentary about the suburbs’ distaste for him and with seat after undecided House seat slipping toward the Democrats, his mood slid, too, hitting bottom in a bizarre and combative press conference. “He was furious about the narrative. He said, ‘Look, I went to all these states and now people are saying Trump lost the election,’” the Republican who spoke with him recalled. Within hours, Trump forced out Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Matt Whitaker, who’d been a frequent cable-news critic of the Robert Mueller investigation. Next, Trump directed his press office to revoke CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass, something he’d wanted to do for months but had been talked out of by aides. “This is a matter of the president now being on his own without any countervailing force whatsoever,” a person close to Trump said. “It’s just 100 percent Donald Trump doing what Donald Trump wants.”
More about Trump’s tantrums at the link.
Speaking of insanity, Trump gave an interview to The Daily Caller this week that was one of the craziest ever recorded–and that’s saying something. Here’s what he had to say about supposed “voter fraud.”
This is a problem in California that’s so bad of illegals voting. This is a California problem and if you notice, almost every race — I was watching today — out of like 11 races that are in question they’re gonna win all of them.
The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes, which is what I’ve been saying for a long time. I have no doubt about it. And I’ve seen it, I’ve had friends talk about it when people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.
The disgrace is that, voter ID. If you buy, you know, a box of cereal, if you do anything, you have a voter ID.
Well, over here, the only thing you don’t is if you’re a voter of the United States. A voter in the United States of America. I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. Really a disgrace. And they try to shame everybody by calling them racist or calling them something, anything they can think of, when you say you want voter ID. But voter ID is a very important thing.
If you look at what happened in New Hampshire, where thousands of people came up and voted from a very liberal part of Massachusetts and they came up in buses and they voted. I said, ‘what’s going on over here,’ my people said, ‘you won New Hampshire easily except they have tremendous numbers of buses coming up.’ They’re pouring up by the hundreds, buses of people getting out, voting. Then they’re supposed to go back within 90 days. And of the people that are supposed to go back, almost none of them do. In other words, they go back after the vote is over. They go back — and I think it’s like three percent — I mean, almost nobody goes back to show that, you know, that they were allowed to vote. And so what do you do? Recall the election. Recall the election. I mean, there, you should be able to recall the election.
Jesus, what a moron. You need “voter ID” to buy groceries? People putting on costumes to vote twice? What name do they use the second time? What names and addresses do these thousands of Massachusetts voters use to vote in New Hampshire? This guy is loony tunes and he’s supposedly running our country.
If you want more, Paste Magazine put together a compilation of The 10 Craziest Excerpts From Trump’s Interview with The Daily Caller.
Trump also used the interview to praise fake acting AG Matt Whitaker, while pretending not to really know him. More of Whitaker’s weird history came out over the past couple of days. Read them and weep.
Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: Matthew Whitaker is steeped in time travel and Bigfoot. He’s the right man for the job.
Walter Shaub has a more serious take on what’s happening with Whitaker at Slate: This Is the Saturday Night Massacre. It’s just happening in slow motion.
With the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, America is in uncharted territory. The last time a president made a personnel change to undermine an investigation of his associates, Congress forced him to resign. That was when President Richard Nixon pushed out his attorney general and deputy attorney general so he could fire the special prosecutor. The fallout from this Saturday Night Massacre, as it is known, has stood as a warning to subsequent presidents. Yet President Trump has launched a piecemeal Saturday Night Massacre of his own. He first fired FBI Director James Comey last year for his handling of the Russia probe, then he fired the attorney general for failing to protect him from the Russia probe. His intent to undermine an investigation of his campaign has been clear throughout—he barely tried to hide it—but the difference this time is that he has acted with impunity. What comes next could be anything.
The thing about traveling in uncharted territory is that you don’t know where you’ll end up. This may seem like a simplistic observation, but it’s one worth making. Uncharted territory is the last place a conscientious government official wants to be and the first place an unscrupulous one wants to go. Precedents and norms are guideposts along well-traveled paths in government that lead to impartial decision-making. Conscientious officials find these guideposts helpful as they continuously check their motives to make sure they are putting the public’s interests ahead of their own and other private interests. If circumstances deliver them into uncharted territory, it becomes harder to gauge whether they are serving the public’s interest.Forty-five years ago, the leaders of the Department of Justice found themselves in similar uncharted terrain. An unscrupulous president was attempting to abuse his authority to undermine a special counsel investigation of individuals associated with his campaign for reelection. Special prosecutor Archibald Cox had demanded President Richard Nixon’s tapes of White House deliberations. Nixon responded by negotiating a compromise with Attorney General Elliot Richardson that would have allowed him to withhold the tapes, summarize the contents of some of them, and let a third party verify his summary.* But Cox rejected the compromise, so Nixon ordered Richardson to fire him.
Head over to Slate to read the rest.
Tomorrow is the day the grand jury meets. Here’s hoping Mueller has some indictments coming. There have been hints and rumors galore over the past week.
Vanity Fair: Nigel Farage’s Name Keeps Coming Up in the Mueller Probe.
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?