Thursday Reads: Trump Threw An Epic Tantrum Yesterday and It’s Likely to Get Worse.Posted: October 3, 2019
Yesterday the so-called “president” threw a mind-boggling public tantrum over his upcoming impeachment. So what else is new? Just another insane day in what used to be the most powerful nation on earth. It couldn’t possibly get worse than that, right? Don’t count on it.
Here’s the latest breaking news from this morning’s Washington Post: Trump wanted to have U.S. forces equipped with bayonets to stop migrants at border, among other ideas, officials say.
President Trump told aides last year he wanted U.S. forces with bayonets to block people from crossing into the United States across the Mexico border, one of several proposals he floated at moments of peak frustration with his inability to contain a migration surge, according to current and former administration officials involved in those discussions….
The New York Times reported Tuesday on Trump’s proposal for a moat filled with snakes and alligators, along with his suggestion that U.S. forces could open fire on migrants as they attempted to enter the country, potentially shooting at their legs to wound but not kill them….
The Washington Post independently confirmed that the president did, in fact, say those things during border security meetings, including at moments when he demanded the wholesale closure of the Mexico border and appeared prepared to enforce the decree with violence….
The idea for the bayonets surfaced about the time the president began sending U.S. soldiers to the border last year, according one of the officials involved in the discussions. The official, like others in this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly about internal discussions.
More details from the article:
When then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other senior officials explained that U.S. agents were required by law to process the asylum claims of migrants seeking protection once they reached U.S. territory, the president was determined to keep them out at all costs, one senior administration official said.
“The goal was to prevent them from ever setting foot on U.S. soil,” the official said. “There was definitely a belief that you could put a line of people across the entry line and say ‘you could not enter.’ ”
The president wanted U.S. forces — soldiers or border agents — to form a human wall at bridges and official ports of entry. “The thing that was explained to him was that even if they set one pinkie toe on U.S. soil, they will get all the rights and protections of a U.S. citizen who has been here 100 years,” the official said.
This is the “president,” folks.
Julia Arciga summarizes the worst of it at The Daily Beast: Trump Berates Reporter at Batshit Presser: ‘Ask the President of Finland a Question!’
In a Wednesday press conference, President Trump went off-the-rails when faced with questions about the growing Ukraine scandal. When asked by Reuters reporter Jeff Mason about what he specifically wanted from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky regarding former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Trump berated Mason, telling him to “ask the president of Finland a question!” “Biden and his son are stone cold crooked, and you know it… It’s a whole hoax and you know who’s playing into the hoax? People like you and the fake news media that we have in this country,” he ranted. “Because you’re corrupt. Much of the media in this country is not just fake, it’s corrupt.”
He also claimed—with zero evidence—that House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) helped write the whistleblower complaint that raised concerns about his July 25 phone call with Zelensky. “It shows that Schiff is a fraud,” he said, referring to a New York Times report stating that Schiff learned of the whistleblower’s concerns prior to the filing of the complaint. “I think it’s a scandal that he knew before. I’d go a step further, I think he probably helped write it. That’s what the word is… He knew long before and he helped write it too… The whole thing is a scam.” He also threatened to bring “a lot of litigation against a lot of people.”
Read more details at ABC News.
Rick Wilson at The Daily Beast: Trump Is Going to Burn Down Everything and Everyone, and Republicans, That Means You.
Donald Trump’s Oval Office performance-art masterpiece Wednesday was one for the ages, a pity-party, stompy-foot screech session by President Snowflake von Pissypants, the most put-upon man ever to hold the highest office in the land. If you watched his nationally televised press conference, Trump’s shrill, eye-popping hissy fit scanned like the end of a long, coke-fueled bender where the itchy, frenzied paranoia is dry-humping the last ragged gasps of the earlier party-powder fun.
Between calling Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) a panoply of Trumpish insults (and for the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to be held for treason), engaging in his usual hatred of the press, talking about Mike Pompeo’s intimate undergarments, and quite obviously scaring the shit out of Finnish President Sauli Niinisto—who looked like he was the very unwilling star of an ISIS hostage video—Trump spent the day rapidly decompensating, and it was a hideous spectacle. All the Maximum Leader pronunciamentos won’t change the reality that Donald John Trump, 45th president of the United States, has lost his shit.
In private, Republicans are in the deepest despair of the Trump era. They’ve got that hang-dog, dick-in-the-dirt fatalism of men destined to die in a meaningless battle in a pointless war. They’ve abandoned all pretense of recapturing the House, their political fortunes in the states are crashing and burning, and the stock-market bubble they kept up as a shield against the downsides of Trump—“but muh 401(k)!”—is popping.
You want to know why so few Republicans have held town-hall meetings since early 2017? Because Trump is the cancer they deny is consuming them from the inside out. They see the political grave markers of 42 of their GOP House colleagues—and several hundred down-ballot Republicans—booted from office since 2017 and know that outside of the deepest red enclaves, they’re salesmen for a brand no one is buying.
I have some bad news, Republicans. It never gets better. There is no daylight at the end of this tunnel. Trump is a suicide bomber, and you’ve strapped yourselves to him so tightly that when he explodes, you’re going out to meet the 72 porn stars of the Trumpian afterlife with him. (Spoiler alert: They all look like Ivanka.)
Unfortunately, most of this piece he is behind a paywall.
The tantrum took place during an Oval Office press availability and a later press conference during a visit from the president of Finland.
The Washington Post: ‘Circus Trump’: What that White House news conference looked like to the Finns.
Wednesday’s roller coaster news conference with President Trump and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto elicited ridicule and some concern in Finland, where many celebrated their leader on Thursday for enduring with dignity what they largely described as a Trump monologue.
Coming from a nation that ranks second on the World Press Freedom Index — compared to the United States, which ranks 48th — stunned Finnish reporters described to their readers back home a “circus” and parallel reality in the White House.
Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet offered a blunt summary of the meeting: “Niinisto’s visit was overshadowed by Circus Trump — President Niinisto asked Trump to safeguard US democracy.”
“It was a very typical Trump press conference with a foreign leader. [Trump talks] and the foreign leader is just a prop, who basically watches and tries to keep a straight face,” Jussi Hanhimaki, a Finnish researcher focusing on transatlantic relations, told The Washington Post.
During the combative news conference on Wednesday, Trump lashed out at the press, accusing journalists of undermining U.S. democracy and being “corrupt people.” Responding to questions about a July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president that is at the center of an impeachment inquiry, Trump told a reporter: “It’s a whole hoax, and you know who’s playing into the hoax? People like you and the fake news media that we have in this country.”
Meanwhile, Niinisto largely looked on in silence. Photos of his bewildered face quickly circulated online. But when Trump began responding to a question addressed to Niinisto, he interrupted: “I think the question is for me.”
In what Finnish commentators suggested was a subtle dig at Trump, Niinisto at one point also said: “Mr. President, you have here a great democracy. Keep it going on.” (Trump appeared to interpret that remark as praise.)
This is how Europeans see the U.S. “president”–as a gibbering idiot. And that’s because he is one.
CNN op-ed by Elizabeth A. Cobbs, Kyle Longley, Kenneth Osgood and Jeremi Suri: Historians on Trump: We’ve never seen anything like this.
When Donald Trump got on the phone with the president of Ukraine, he had a “favor” to ask. It’s not the first time he’s reached out to a world leader for personal gain and he has made it clear he sees nothing at all wrong with it.
In fact, several transcripts of similar conversations have reached the public domain, including others from 2017 and some to which the White House sought to limit access. They reveal a striking pattern of a president who consistently uses the Oval Office to advance his explicit self-interest seemingly without regard to national interest.
It is rare to get such a real-time look at presidential conversations with foreign leaders. As historians of US foreign relations, collectively we have read many thousands of similar documents from past presidents. We have also listened to audio tapes of conversations between presidents and their international counterparts. In our numerous books on presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama, we have examined how American leaders conduct US foreign policy — the good, bad, and ugly. Nothing really surprises us anymore.
Trump’s documentary record differs dramatically from his predecessors. A worrisome thread runs through each conversation. Trump appears laser-focused on his own fortunes to the exclusion of the national security of the United States. Unfortunately, this is part of a larger and startling pattern of Trump promoting his personal agenda ahead of the nation’s interests.
Many examples exist. When speaking with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in July, Trump concentrated on soliciting help to discredit a political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. Missing was any discussion of US national interests. Trump never mentioned the shared US-Ukrainian goal of containing Russia’s ambitions, a cornerstone of the relationship. Instead, he pushed a personal agenda — and Zelensky responded by bragging about staying at a Trump property, to the financial benefit of America’s president.
Just days before, Trump had halted US military aid to Ukraine, apparently without a policy review and to the worry of members of Congress. Zelensky has said publicly that he feels no pressure to investigate the Bidens. But the halting of aid surely sent a message to the Ukrainians that they must do even more to please the president — and recklessly endangered the security of Ukraine, Western Europe and indeed our own country.
In the history of American foreign relations, we are unaware of any prior case — in 230 years — of a president asking a foreign leader to intervene in American domestic politics.
More examples at the link.
More suggested reads, links only:
Jonathan Chait: Pence: I Participated in the Ukraine Plot But Only As a Patsy.
The Washington Post: Giuliani consulted on Ukraine with imprisoned Paul Manafort via a lawyer.
I know there’s other news today, but I’m still somewhat in shock from that unholy mess yesterday. What stories have you been following?