(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
The week started with a president who was full of new energy after his golfing vacation. He demanded the prosecution of Huma Abedin for having been sloppy with secret passwords, and continued his attacks on the FBI – after Hillary Clinton his second favorite target – suggesting that at least part of the agency was involved with the ‘deep state’ that opposes him. Trump also took credit for the fact that in 2017 there had not been a deadly accident in commercial aviation, even though this was a streak that started in 2009. When Kim Jong-un gave a speech in which he bragged about having a red button on his desk with which he could launch a nuclear attack on the US the president answered in kind, by declaring that he had a much bigger button and one that was working too. There were echos of a dispute that Trump once had with Marco Rubio about the size of his hands and the rest of his anatomy, and people with a sense of responsibility were concerned about two mentally unstable leaders challenging each other with nuclear arms, but nothing happened until a local bomb exploded and an excerpt of Michael Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury’ came out.
Wolff had been given almost unlimited access to the White House for months, and the thrust of his book was already well known: that Trump is an illiterate baboon who is totally unqualified to be president. The book is interesting because that opinion is shared by most White House staffers, who were candid with Wolff and creative in their statements. Just like the Eskimos have twenty different words for snow, it turns out that these staffers had many ways of calling Trump an idiot, of which Gary Cohn’s ‘dumbass shit’ is my favorite. In the book Steve Bannon settles scores with Don Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Ivanka, calling the latter ‘dumb as a brick’ and accusing the former of treason. What makes the book most fascinating are the salacious details: Melania’s crying when Trump had won the election, the separate bedrooms, Ivanka’s jokes about her father’s hairdo – a comb-over that covers a surgically reduced bald spot – and the affair of Corey Lewandowski and Hope Hicks, whom Trump called to her face ‘the best piece of tail Corey ever had.’ And of course the Kushners decision that Ivanka would be the first female US President.
Trump was furious about the book, and issued a statement that Bannon had lost his mind when he lost his White House job. He blamed Bannon for ‘only being in it for himself,’ which is amusing coming from this president. True to form Trump took legal action and accused Bannon of having violated a confidentiality agreement, while he had a ‘cease and desist’ letter sent to the publisher, who, with so much help in marketing the book, decided to expedite the publication.
And the president’s troubles didn’t end there. The New York Times reported that in March 2017 Trump had instructed White House Counsel McGahn to put pressure on Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russian collusion investigation. It was Trump’s way of trying to keep control over the investigation and an attempt to obstruct justice by violating Department of Justice rules.
Sessions recused himself anyway and incurred Trump’s eternal wrath, and it is now clear that the memo about Don Jr.’s meeting with Russians in Trump Tower that was dictated by Trump on Air Force One was another attempt to obstruct justice. Robert Mueller has a lot to work with in 2018.
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