Tuesday Reads: The Humiliation of the Fake “President”Posted: December 11, 2018 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Chief of Staff search, Donald Trump, Jamal Khashoggi, Jared Kushner, John Kelly, journalism, lawn mower boy, Matthew Whitaker, Nick Ayers, Saudi Arabia, Time Person of the Year, truth 54 Comments
As if the fake “president” didn’t have enough humiliations to deal with this morning, Time Magazine has delivered a crushing blow to his ego, announcing Jamal Khashoggi and other journalists as their “Person of the Year.”
The Washington Post: Time’s Person of the Year: ‘Guardians’ of the truth, including slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Time magazine has announced its 2018 Person of the Year is “The Guardians,” four individuals and one group — all journalists — who this year helped expose “the manipulation and the abuse of truth” around the world.
They are the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributing columnist who was killed inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in October; the staff of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland; journalist Maria Ressa, the CEO of the Rappler news website, who has been made a legal target in the Philippines; and journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been jailed in Myanmar for nearly a year for their work exposing the mass killing of Rohingya Muslims.
“As we looked at the choices, it became clear that the manipulation and the abuse of truth is really the common thread in so many of this year’s major stories, from Russia to Riyadh to Silicon Valley,” Time magazine editor Edward Felsenthal said on the “Today” show Tuesday morning, where the announcement was made.
“The manipulation and abuse of truth” is a pretty clear reference to Trump’s governing style.
Here’s Time’s cover story: The Guardians and the War on Truth.
The stout man with the gray goatee and the gentle demeanor dared to disagree with his country’s government. He told the world the truth about its brutality toward those who would speak out. And he was murdered for it.
Every detail of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing made it a sensation: the time stamp on the surveillance video that captured the Saudi journalist entering his country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2; the taxiway images of the private jets bearing his assassins; the bone saw; the reports of his final words, “I can’t breathe,” recorded on audio as the life was choked from him.
But the crime would not have remained atop the world news for two months if not for the epic themes that Khashoggi himself was ever alert to, and spent his life placing before the public. His death laid bare the true nature of a smiling prince, the utter absence of morality in the Saudi-U.S. alliance and—in the cascade of news feeds and alerts, posts and shares and links—the centrality of the question Khashoggi was killed over: Whom do you trust to tell the story?
Khashoggi put his faith in bearing witness. He put it in the field reporting he had done since youth, in the newspaper editorship he was forced out of and in the columns he wrote from lonely exile. “Must we choose,” he asked in the Washington Post in May, “between movie theaters and our rights as citizens to speak out, whether in support of or critical of our government’s actions?” Khashoggi had fled his homeland last year even though he actually supported much of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s agenda in Saudi Arabia. What irked the kingdom and marked the journalist for death was Khashoggi’s insistence on coming to that conclusion on his own, tempering it with troubling facts and trusting the public to think for itself.
Such independence is no small thing. It marks the distinction between tyranny and democracy. And in a world where budding authoritarians have advanced by blurring the difference, there was a clarity in the spectacle of a tyrant’s fury visited upon a man armed only with a pen. Because the strongmen of the world only look strong. All despots live in fear of their people. To see genuine strength, look to the spaces where individuals dare to describe what’s going on in front of them.
Trump and his gullible son-in-law Jared Kushner won’t be happy about this. Plus, yesterday CNN published quotes from the transcript of the recording of the Kashoggi murder: ‘I can’t breathe.’ Jamal Khashoggi’s last words disclosed in transcript, source says.
“I can’t breathe.” These were the final words uttered by Jamal Khashoggi after he was set upon by a Saudi hit squad at the country’s consulate in Istanbul, according to a source briefed on the investigation into the killing of the Washington Post columnist.
The source, who has read a translated transcript of an audio recording of Khashoggi’s painful last moments, said it was clear that the killing on October 2 was no botched rendition attempt, but the execution of a premeditated plan to murder the journalist.
During the course of the gruesome scene, the source describes Khashoggi struggling against a group of people determined to kill him.
“I can’t breathe,” Khashoggi says.
“I can’t breathe.”
“I can’t breathe.”
The transcript notes the sounds of Khashoggi’s body being dismembered by a saw, as the alleged perpetrators are advised to listen to music to block out the sound.
And, according to the source, the transcript suggests that a series of phone calls are made. Turkish officials believe the calls were placed to senior figures in Riyadh, briefing them on progress.
In other humiliations, the fake “president” decided to humiliate Chief of Staff John Kelly by announcing his firing without any warning, and then the fake “president” was in turn humiliated by his choice to replace Kelly. Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair:
On Friday night, members of Donald Trump’s West Wing gathered for drinks at the Trump International Hotel following a holiday dinner at the White House. As they mingled in the lobby, Bill Shine, Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and others grappled with the latest West Wing upheaval: Trump had changed the plan and fired Chief of Staff John Kellyearlier that afternoon. “It got back to Trump that Kelly was bad-mouthing him and Trump had decided he’d had enough. His attitude was, ‘fuck him,’” an attendee told me.
Kelly’s defenestration surprised few people—Trump had wanted to fire him for months—but the lingering problem had been finding a replacement whom Trump felt comfortable with (and who wanted the job). “The president really wanted someone he knows. He didn’t want to gamble,” a former West Wing official said. After weeks of lobbying by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump had been convinced that Mike Pence’s 36-year-old chief of staff, Nick Ayers, was the best candidate. On Friday afternoon, Trump met with Ayers, Pence, and Kelly and finalized the transition, a source briefed on the meeting said. A press release announcing Ayers’s hiring was reportedly drafted and ready to go for when Trump planned to announce Kelly’s departure on Monday.
But Trump’s frustration with Kelly boiled over after Kelly pressed him to name his deputy Zachary Fuentes interim chief of staff. “Trump didn’t like how Kelly was trying to dictate the terms of his departure,” a Republican briefed on the discussions told me. Trump blew up the carefully orchestrated announcement and told reporters on Saturday as he walked to Marine One that Kelly would be leaving by the end of the year. “John wanted to announce his own departure. This was a humiliation,” a former West Wing official said.
Trump’s impulsive announcement quickly became an even bigger problem when it turned out that Kelly’s replacement was not sewn up; Ayers surprised Trump later that day by insisting that he only wanted the job short term. “Trump was pissed, he was caught off guard,” a former West Wing official briefed on the talks said.
And to make sure the humiliation of the fake “president” was complete, Ayers announced his departure on Twitter.
Now Trump is left with no one to humiliate in the formerly prestigious Chief of Staff job. The Washington Post: ‘There was no Plan B’: Trump scrambles to find chief of staff after top candidate turns him down.
After announcing the exit of his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and being turned down by his pick to replace him, Nick Ayers, Trump found himself Monday in an unexpected predicament — scrambling to recruit someone to help run the executive branch of the federal government and guide the administration through the political tumult and possible legal peril ahead.
In any White House, the chief of staff is arguably the most punishing position. But in this White House — a den of disorder ruled by an impulsive president — it has proved to be an especially thankless job. The two people to hold the job were left with their reputations diminished after failing to constrain the president, who often prefers to function as his own chief of staff.
Three members of Trump’s Cabinet who have been discussed inside the West Wing as possible chiefs of staff — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer — each signaled Monday that they were not interested in the position.
Considerable buzz has centered on two other contenders. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) noted his interest in the job by issuing a statement saying that “serving as Chief of Staff would be an incredible honor.”
“It is not something I have been campaigning for,” Meadows told reporters Monday on Capitol Hill, adding that his phone “blew up” after the Ayers news broke. “The president has a good list of candidates. I’m honored to be one of those.”
And acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, who traveled with Trump to Kansas City, Mo., last week , is seen by the president and his allies as a loyalist.
But Trump’s advisers and aides cautioned that there was not yet a front-runner.
Although aides said the president is committed to finding a replacement for Kelly before the Christmas holiday, they said he has been vacillating — casting about in all corners for potential picks and frustrated by news coverage depicting his White House as a place where talented people do not want to work.
Why would anyone want to work for Trump? I guess it will have to be someone whose reputation is already in tatters. I can’t imagine anyone who has hopes for a future career being interested. That description could apply to Whitaker, but how could he get a security clearance when he’s associated with a company that is under investigation for fraud?
Of course Trump is claiming he has multiple applicants for the job.
That’s it for me today. What stories are you following?
Putin never heard of Maria Buttina, the Russian spy who is now cooperating with DOJ prosecutors.
If I remember right, the novichok poisonings in the UK were complete news to him, too. And all the men in green lining up in and near Ukraine are tourists he’s never heard of.
She was the coffee girl. Or should that be the covfefe girl?
I’ll never forget how he treated Rep. Frederica Wilson. Good riddance to bad rubbish. And I’m glad his exit was spoiled (yikes does that make me a maggat?).
…does that make me a maggat?…
Certainly not. He was appalling to Rep. Wilson.
Thank you Luna. I hate feeling so petty but I can’t help it.
It’s also fun to watch the way Dump’s impulsive and ill-advised handling of Kelly’s departure has blown up in his face. How stupid to announce the departure before he has a solid replacement.
He’s Etsy guy he couldn’ wait to let the world know that he was the one in power and therefore ‘fired’ Kelly
Ooooh! Dems speak up. Sounds like “all three” were not sparring at each other but Pelosi and Schumer were being blunt with Trump.
Just shut off thee TV off because I’m tired of him screaming for the wall and telling every one that those poor refugees who have a legal right to ask for sanctuary were some how akin to an attack by the Huns.
Meanwhile, my latest thing to cry over …
US National Butterfly Centre to be bulldozed to make way for Trump border wall with Mexico
‘This will have a devastating impact on both the environment and many, many species’
He’s a monster surrounded by demons and they are killing our planet, all living things, and our democracy.
Monsters. Heartless soulless monsters.
How can he do that without the money from Congress? I think it’s still hypothetical.
I’m really tied of ourCongress critters akin the point of what we can and can’t do within the law while this idiot destroys our country – get him out of there before we have nothing left worth having.
CNN showed the meeting and it was hilarious. Trump tried repeatedly to interrupt Nancy Pelosi, and she just kept on talking.
“Then go do it.” This is why we need Nancy Pelosi!
Look at Schumer’s body language in this clip — he’s hunched over, shoulders in. Compare with Pelosi’s posture. She’s the alpha and Schumer is uncomfortable (though at least he verbally holds Trump back).
And Trump is sitting in his usual super-defensive, OMG-I-have-to-put-up-with-a-powerful-smart-woman crouch.
That steepled fingers thing seems to be part of it.
What a loser.
You’re absolutely right, Luna.
Of course the Press is pulling there usual “see, both sides are equally bad” garbage. Look for Nancy Pelosi to be their favorite pinata until 2020.
Yeah, but they’re wrong and clueless.
Pelosi didn’t yell either. Trump yelled.
Schumer is past his ‘do not use after’ date
So many good tweets on this subject:
Schumer’s got an orange tie on! Was that a not-so-subtle message to Trump?
And Pelosi’s coat is orange – HAHAHAHAHA
They had to have planned that – great troll!
Ouch! Loving this! Just a little preview of what Dump is in for next year.
I don’t want to see him anywhere near the White House next year
I guess the lawn-mowing kid didn’t take the job either.
Did ya’ll see this at TPM? It’s a salacious story (theory) about Falwell, Jr., and his support for Dump:
It involves the pool boy….
I posted a story about it a few days ago, but there are questions about the story now. Buzzfeed actually published a story about this in May.
Oh thanks BB – I wondered why it seemed to be a non-story. TPM still has it on the front page.
No, it’s very weird and I hope some reporters are looking into it. Here’s the original story from May.
Doesn’t pass the smell test does it…
Love, love, love this! If the young Turk Democrats don’t understand that nobody but Nancy Pelosi could be Speaker, God help them.
They are beyond help, I’m afraid.
I am all for Nancy grooming a successor. But it has to be someone as badass as she is…no change for change sake.
This is not the moment for on the job training. Let the grown women do what they do, there is plenty of time to get the trainees up to speed.
Exactly. We don’t want a novice in that job.
Some are suggesting Kellyanne Fitzpatrick for Chief of Staff.
She’d be no worse than General Liar-liar-pants-on-Fire.
There has never been a woman in that job.
That is sad all by itself.