The White House of Horrors
(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
The week started with very disturbing reporting by the New York Times and other media about the abysmal conditions in child detention centers, more aptly named torture camps, managed by the US Border Patrol. Diseases spreading among hungry, scared children in dirty clothes, who don’t have enough room to sleep and can’t take a shower. Retaliation against little boys who complained about water with a chlorine taste, by taking their sleeping mats away, and at least one case of sexual assault of a teenage girl by a Border Patrol agent. Although some of this information came directly from Border Patrol agents, true to form Trump called the NY Times reporting ‘a hoax’ and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said the reports were ‘not substantiated,’ while his subordinate Ken Cuccinelli called the facilities ‘safe.’ Abuse of minors became the theme of the week with the arrest at Teterboro Airport of hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein, someone Trump once called a ‘terrific guy,’ who was ‘a lot of fun to be with,’ but with whom he claims to have had a falling out ‘a long time ago,’ allowing him now to say that he is ‘not a fan.’
Over the years Epstein molested and raped possibly hundreds of teenage girls. In 2008 he was convicted in Florida for a reduced charge of ‘soliciting a 14-year-old girl for prostitution.’ He got a sweetheart deal of 13 months in ‘custody with work release,’ in return for which no federal charges would be filed, and had to register as a sex offender. This week the Southern District of New York filed charges against Epstein for sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York. The US Attorney who originally let Epstein off the hook is Alex Acosta, now Trump’s Secretary of Labor, who among other things is in charge of combating human trafficking. Epstein’s deal was struck in secret meetings between his high-powered lawyers and Acosta, who was ordered by Trump to defend himself in a press conference on Wednesday. There were no apologies from the Labor Secretary, not even an acknowledgement that the deal he struck was illegal because Epstein’s victims had not been informed about it. The Florida prosecutor whom Acosta blamed for the deal immediately issued a scathing statement saying that Acosta ‘doesn’t get to rewrite history.’
Trump doesn’t like people who admit mistakes and apologize, so he was pleased with Acosta’s performance and said that he feels ‘very bad’ for his Secretary, who according to him is doing a ‘terrific job.’ In spite of Trump’s support Acosta announced his resignation today. Almost as peculiar as Trump’s connections to Epstein and Acosta is Attorney General William Barr’s situation. Barr is obviously Acosta’s colleague, but he also knew Epstein because his father gave Epstein his first job. Initially Barr recused himself, but then he unrecused himself for what is still to come in this case.
In legal matters Trump had wins and losses. He is no longer allowed to block followers on Twitter, but a lawsuit filed by Maryland and DC about his violating the emoluments clause won’t go forward. A lawsuit filed by the House on this issue is still in the courts, and probably this week an Appeals Court will rule on the future of Obamacare, and may very well take health insurance away from 21 million Americans and protection from pre-existing conditions from 133 million others.
Both Barr and Trump have said that they have no problem with Robert Mueller’s testifying in Congress on July 17th, but panic is apparently setting in. Barr now speaks of a ‘public spectacle’ and is trying to keep members of Mueller’s team from also testifying. Finally, yesterday Trump took a big loss and had to acknowledge that he cannot have a citizenship question inserted in the 2020 Census.
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