Tuesday Reads: Where is Melania? And Other News

Dump trucks lined up around Trump Tower in NY.

Good Afternoon!!

What has happened to Melania? I’m becoming obsessed with this question. It has now been 18 days since she’s been seen in public on May 10. How much longer can the White House go on claiming she’s living there without evidence? The latest rumor is that she has gone back to New York.

The evidence is that dump trucks have appeared all around Trump Tower. Apparently, that also happened the two times that Trump stayed in New York.

The Inquistr reported yesterday that Melania’s Twitter location had changed to New York. But it turns out that they were looking at the Twitter account Melania used before becoming first lady. The FLOTUS account that she uses now still says Washington, DC. So that’s a red herring that was debunked by The Palmer Report.

Why wasn’t Melania with her husband at yesterday’s Memorial Day ceremony?

Trump claimed she was in a window looking down at a press gaggle outside the White House, but no one else could see her. The White House is going to have to explain what’s happening eventually, or the occasional speculation is going become an uproar.

This is from a gossip site linked by The Palmer Report. Hollywood Life: Melania Trump Vanished After Surgery – She Wishes Donald’s Presidency Was Over, Claims Source.

Melania Trump, 48, underwent kidney surgery on May 14, and has since secluded herself from the public eye. But her break isn’t completely health-related – she’s also trying to better her marriage to Donald Trump, 71.“Melania has been taking a little ‘me time’ to work on fully regaining her health, and to try and strengthen her marriage again,” a source close to the First Lady tells HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “It’s been a hideously stressful past few months, and Melania needs a break out of the media glare to recharge her batteries and take stock.”

However, our insider noted that the president isn’t making things easier for his wife. “Donald has been under an ever increasing ton of pressure, so he definitely isn’t in the best of moods, which makes for a pretty tense atmosphere at home,” the source continued. “Melania really is getting to the point now where she just wishes Donald’s presidency was over, and she can’t wait to return to her ‘regular’ life again, even though she realizes it will never be quite the same.”

The Palmer Report claims this means Melania is having psychological problems.

This confirms that there was never any kidney problem; this is some kind of mental health break. It’s been fairly obvious from the start that this has probably been a mental health issue, but due to the sensitive nature of the situation, we’ve gone out of our way not to explicitly say it.

I’m not sure we can assume this based on an anonymous source quoted at a gossip site, but what else could explain her disappearance from public view? At this point, I have to believe that Melania wants out of her marriage and that’s why we haven’t seen her since May 10. We’ve seen how she resists holding his hand–sometimes even batting it away.

This is interesting, from Riot Woman (second tweet in series):

There’s more. You can see the entire thread here. One more from Sarah Kendzior:

It’s time for some serious journalists at the NYT and WaPo to locate Melania and find out what’s going on.

In Other News . . .

A few days ago I posted a Politico article in which former SDNY prosecutor Nelson W. Cunningham offered some predictions about the Rus:sia investigation. Today he has more predictions, again at Politico: Bob Mueller’s White Hot Summer.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller may well be in the final stages of wrapping up his principal investigation. Last week, I argued here in Politico that Mueller will want to avoid interfering with the November midterms, and so will try to conclude by July or August. On this one we can believe Trump’s new lawyer, former prosecutor and New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who claims Mueller’s target is September 1.

How will Mueller wrap up his investigation? What will he produce? And then – what can we expect from the other players in this saga: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, President Trump and his lawyers, and the Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress?

Nelson W. Cunningham

As a former prosecutor and Senate Judiciary and White House lawyer who has carefully studied presidential investigations since Watergate, the next steps in this constitutional dance seem clear. Mark Twain was certainly right when he said, “History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” And this summer may well be the most consequential in presidential politics since 1974, the year Watergate came to a head.

Here are the predictions, which you can read about in detail at the link above.

 – Mueller will not indict the president, but will issue a comprehensive and detailed report.

– Rod Rosenstein will decide to release the report to Congress and the public.

– Rosenstein’s move to release the Mueller report will lead to his firing and perhaps another      Saturday Night Massacre.

– And this is when the Senate and the Congress might finally engage.

If Cunningham is correct, we have an interesting summer ahead.

Trump is clearly obsessed with what Mueller is doing. He spent the long Memorial Day weekend tweeting about it. Yesterday, after inappropriately tweeting “Happy Memorial Day!” and then bragging about his so-called accomplishments, he sent multiple tweets about the Russia investigation, trying to twist it into a Democratic scandal. Politico:

Trump pivoted to tweeting about Fox News segments on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election – an investigation that Trump and his allies contend, without evidence, was politically motivated to harm Trump’s campaign and his administration.

“‘The President deserves some answers.’ @FoxNews in discussing ‘SPYGATE.’” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The “president” is bald.

Minutes later, he posted again: “‘Sally Yates is part of concerns people have raised about bias in the Justice Dept. I find her actions to be really quite unbelievable.’ Jonathan Turley.”

“‘We now find out that the Obama Administration put the opposing campaigns presidential candidate, or his campaign, under investigation. That raises legitimate questions. I just find this really odd…this goes to the heart of our electoral system.’ Jonathan Turley on @FoxNews,” he added….

Trump appears increasingly obsessed with what he is calling “Spygate” – the notion that his campaign was surveilled by the Justice Department for political purposes. There is no evidence to suggest this is the case. The FBI utilized an informant to talk to campaign officials after they discovered evidence that the officials had Russia-linked contacts during the campaign, while Russia was allegedly waging a covert disinformation campaign to harm Democrat Hillary Clinton and help Trump.

The NYT on Trump’s attempts to reshape the narrative: With ‘Spygate,’ Trump Shows How He Uses Conspiracy Theories to Erode Trust.

As a candidate, Donald J. Trump claimed that the United States government had known in advance about the Sept. 11 attacks. He hinted that Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice who died in his sleep two years ago, had been murdered. And for years, Mr. Trump pushed the notion that President Barack Obama had been born in Kenya rather than Honolulu, making him ineligible for the presidency.

None of that was true.

The “president’s” narrative

Last week, President Trump promoted new, unconfirmed accusations to suit his political narrative: that a “criminal deep state” element within Mr. Obama’s government planted a spy deep inside his presidential campaign to help his rival, Hillary Clinton, win — a scheme he branded “Spygate.” It was the latest indication that a president who has for decades trafficked in conspiracy theories has brought them from the fringes of public discourse to the Oval Office.

Now that he is president, Mr. Trump’s baseless stories of secret plots by powerful interests appear to be having a distinct effect. Among critics, they have fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media that mirror his own.

“The effect on the life of the nation of a president inventing conspiracy theories in order to distract attention from legitimate investigations or other things he dislikes is corrosive,” said Jon Meacham, a presidential historian and biographer. “The diabolical brilliance of the Trump strategy of disinformation is that many people are simply going to hear the charges and countercharges, and decide that there must be something to them because the president of the United States is saying them.”

Read the rest at the NYT.

The Washington Post has a piece on the ways Trump has reduced the White House to a one-man operation: ‘The only one’: In new West Wing season, Trump calls the shots and aides follow.

The White House communications director’s job has been vacant for exactly two months. But in practice, it has been filled since the day Hope Hicks said farewell to her unofficial replacement — President Trump himself.

The president also has unofficially performed the roles of many other senior staffers in recent months, leaving the people holding those jobs to execute on his instincts and ideas.

And that’s exactly how Trump likes his West Wing.

Largely gone are the warring factions that dominated life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the first year of Trump’s term, replaced by solo players — many with personal connections to the president and their own miniature fiefdoms — laboring to do their jobs and survive.

Trump has brought in a handful of senior people who believe in him personally, are temperamentally in sync with the brash boss and are invested in his political success more than some of his first-year aides were. As one top official put it, “Ultimately he’s the only one anyone elected.”

The authors point out that this doesn’t seem to be working for him in terms of accomplishments. They also write that WH staff has been reduced to simply trying to stop him from doing something completely crazy.

Rather than struggling to manipulate the president to follow their personal agendas, the senior staff members of Trump’s Year 2 — or “Season 3,” in Trump’s reality television parlance — focus on trying to curb his most outlandish impulses while generally executing his vision and managing whatever fallout may follow. Most of all, officials said, they “get” Trump.

“Last year was the year of adjustment. He was constrained by an axis of adults and adjusting to be president,” said Thomas Wright, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “This year is the year of action. He’s giving the orders, even if there’s resistance.

“Next year,” he continued, “is the hangover year, the year of living with the consequences.”

That doesn’t sound too promising.

Anyway, onward into another day of hoping Trump doesn’t blow up the world. What stories are you following?