(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
This should have been Donald Trump’s week. After he had an argument over the grave about America’s greatness with John McCain the president was ready for a big success. He expected his boy Kavanaugh to sail smoothly through the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice, creating a majority that would protect him from prosecution, overrule Roe v. Wade and end Obamacare. But then Bob Woodward’s ‘Fear’ came out, describing ‘a White House in a nervous breakdown.’ What must have hurt Trump the most was that John Kelly called him an idiot and said that ‘we are in crazytown,’ and that according to Jim Mattis the president cannot absorb more information than a 5th or 6th grader. Kelly and Mattis were the first to put out statements that they never said those things, but Woodward has tapes of interviews with his sources and nobody believes their denials. On one of those tapes Trump said that he had never been told that Woodward wanted to interview him, although he later remembered that Lindsey Graham had mentioned it. Without an interview with him the president concluded with some chagrin that the book would not mention that ‘nobody has ever done a better job in the White House.’
According to the book Trump’s confidence in the effect of an interview with him was not shared by his previous lawyer, John Dowd, who staged a mock Mueller interview and after Trump miserably failed the test told him that he should never submit himself to an interview with the Special Counsel or expect to end up in an orange jumpsuit. The next day Dowd quit. And as if Woodward’s book was not damaging enough, on Wednesday the New York Times published an Op-Ed written by an anonymous senior government official, entitled ‘The Quiet Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.’ The thrust of the article is that because of his amorality and erratic behavior the president is a danger to the country, and that senior officials sabotage his most dangerous initiatives and try to shield their operations from his whims. Predictably the White House went into a full attack mode against the writer of the Op-Ed, demanding that the New York Times turn him over to the government for ‘national security purposes.’ More balanced and somewhat amusing comments came from Republican senators Corker, Flake and Sasse, who said that the Op-Ed really doesn’t contain anything we didn’t know already.
Kavanaugh in the meantime got himself into trouble during the confirmation hearings, partly by the evasive answers he gave to questions from Democratic senators, but even more by e-mails he wrote when he worked in the Bush White House, which indicate that he would overturn Roe v. Wade, in spite of assurances to the contrary he gave senator Collins, a possible swing vote. It made the Democrats wonder what the White House is trying to hide by refusing to make 90% of Kavanaugh’s White House records available.
Since Rudy Giuliani has announced that Trump won’t answer Mueller’s questions, not even in writing, Kavanaugh’s confirmation takes on extra importance, because the question whether a sitting president can be supoenaed may very well come before SCOTUS. Although he has been nominated by a non-indicted co-conspirator in the Michael Cohen case Kavanaugh won’t promise that he’ll recuse himself if this is the case.
In the White House Trump’s staff is still looking for the writer of the Op-Ed, but Trump cannot trust anybody anymore, except maybe Ivanka. There is an echo of Watergate here, when Mark Felt, the Associate FBI Director, was given the assignment to identify ‘Deep Throat.’ The problem was, Felt wàs Deep Throat, and therefore he never found him.
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