Running the Gauntlet

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Immediately after the most bizarre speech of his presidency in which he declared a national emergency followed by the words ‘I didn’t have to do this,’ undermining his position in the lawsuits that will challenge his decision, Donald Trump flew to Florida for a three day golf vacation, taking away even the semblance of an emergency on the southern border.  Judging by the president’s tweets, once back in the White House he got into a panic mode, and for good reasons.  First it was revealed that in the fall Trump had asked Acting Attorney General Whitaker to make US Attorney Berman, a former Giuliani law partner, unrecuse himself from the Southern District investigation, and then former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe informed the public that Trump had told intelligence people briefing him about North Korea’s ability to reach the US with its missiles that he didn’t believe them because Putin advised him otherwise, responding to their objections with the verbal gem ‘I don’t care, I believe Putin.’  Even more astounding was the information that when McCabe advised the ‘Gang of Four’ in Congress about a counterintelligence investigation into Trump no one objected.

Making the rounds of the talk show circuit McCabe came across as extremely credible, and according to legal pundits he had been smart as a whip in adding Trump to the already existing probe into Russian interference in the elections, all but guaranteeing that an investigation of the president and his inner circle could not be stopped.   In response to New York Times reporting about his attempt to interfere with the Southern District investigation into his campaign and his business Trump called the paper ‘the enemy of the people,’ and he labeled McCabe as ‘a poor man’s J. Edgar Hoover,’ but his distress didn’t end there.  On Wednesday it became known that next week Michael Cohen will testify in Congress, both in an open and in a closed session, and to wet our appetite yesterday the former fixer already called the president ‘a madman.’ Trump will be out of the country when Cohen testifies, meeting in Vietnam with Kim Jong-un in his unpromising quest to win the Nobel Peace Prize, as will Vice President Mike Pence and Jared Kushner, so that Cohen will have the news cycle all to himself, although the president is expected to fire off some derogatory all caps tweets from Hanoi.

Meanwhile rumors are flying about the Mueller probe soon coming to an end, feeding ample speculation about the format and content of the Special Counsel’s final report and the degree to which it will be made public.  The former is decided by Mueller and the latter by Attorney General Barr, but Democrats in Congress have already announced that they will subpoena the report if Barr tries to sweep in under the rug.  The ending of the Special Counsel’s probe doesn’t mean that Trump’s problems are over, because many other investigations by US Attorney’s, often initiated by Mueller, will continue.

While he was responding to the body blows he was receiving the president displayed not only a rising level of insanity but also of pettiness.  He tried to take $1 billion away from California because the state had filed a lawsuit challenging his national emergency, and installed a climate change panel of which most of the members would not even be able to earn a degree in Betsy DeVos’s scamming for-profit schools.  In one picture Trump had his fingers photo-shopped to make them look longer, for thus far unknown reasons.

When Mike Pence delivered greetings from ‘President Donald Trump’ at a security conference in Munich he generated a deafening silence from the audience, and Trump associate Roger Stone is now one misstep away from going to jail for attacking a judge and violating her orders.  Today the State of New Jersey started the process of deciding that Trump cannot be on the ballot in 2020 if he doesn’t reveal his tax returns.  Not a good week for the president.

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