Lordy, There Are Tapes

(Door Hugo KIjne te Hoboken USA)

Last Sunday Rudy Giuliani produced a shocker on one of the morning talk shows when he said that Trump never spoke with former FBI Director James Comey about Michael Flynn.  It was confusing, because a couple of weeks earlier Hizzoner had mentioned on a similar show that Trump and Comey had indeed spoken about Flynn, and tried to clarify that Trump’s request to ‘let Flynn go’ had not been an order and therefore didn’t constitute obstruction of justice.  Giuliani held the attention of TV viewers for about half an hour, because on the next show Omarosa plugged her new book about the Trump White House, ‘Unhinged,’ by making a tape of her being fired by John Kelly in the Situation Room public.  Two days later she followed up with a tape of a phone call with Trump, who said that he didn’t know about and didn’t approve of her being fired.  The third tape she released was a recording of a call from 2016 with two people from the Trump campaign about how to deal with Trump’s having used the N-word, and the fourth a recording of a call after she had been fired with Lara Trump, Eric’s wife, who offered her $15,000/month from the Trump campaign, essentially to keep her mouth shut.

Trump’s response to Omarosa’s performances came in stages.  First he tweeted that he had hired her in spite of a lack of qualifications because she said ‘nice things’ about him.  Then he called her ‘a lowlife,’ and finally he tweeted that she was ‘wacky, not smart, vicious’ and ‘a dog.’  She was getting to him because as his sorcerer’s apprentice she was clearly better at playing the reality TV game, which was even recognized by Fox & Friends – his favorite show – where one of the anchors observed that she ‘outsmarted’ Trump.  And Omarosa was not the president’s only problem.  Paul Manafort’s trial was about to come to a close and would probably give Robert Mueller his first major success, which would empower the Special Counsel.  To get Omarosa and Manafort off the front pages Trump decided to do something drastic and revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, one of his strongest critics, according to Sarah Sanders at a press briefing because of Brennan’s ‘erratic’ behavior, but according to Trump in a later interview because of Brennan’s role in the Russia investigation.  Trump also indicated that he had an ‘enemies list’ of people whose security clearances were under review.

Trump’s vindictive action against Brennan is without precedent.  Former leaders of the intelligence community keep their security clearances so that they can be consulted in crisis situations, and there is an official list of fourteen reasons why a clearance can be removed, as well as a process that must be followed.  Erratic behavior is not on the list, and since Trump completely ignored the prescribed process his behavior can only be characterized as dictatorial, and belongs in a banana-republic, not in a democracy.

The date on the official release of Trump’s decision is July 26th, which indicates that the White House has waited for an opportune moment to make it public.  With the firing of Peter Strzok, apparently under pressure from the White House, the damage done this week to the US intelligence services is considerable, and former leaders of those services have strongly protested against Trump’s action, while Putin is getting his money’s worth.

Meanwhile the Trump camp is not done.  Yesterday the news surfaced that the president has ordered Jeff Sessions to have Omarosa arrested, and Giuliani has threatened Mueller with a ‘ton of bricks’ coming down on him if he doesn’t wrap up his investigation in two or three weeks.  Both are empty threats, and neither of those things is going to happen.

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