Trump’s Pin Cushion
(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
In the old west a pin cushion was a doll trappers put by the fire before they went to sleep, so that in case of a nightly attack the cushion would be hit first and not the person on watch, who would then fire his gun and wake up the others. Yesterday William Barr was Trump’s pin cushion. On Wednesday the president announced that the Attorney General would give a press conference before the release of the redacted Mueller report, which seemed absurd until Barr started talking and the purpose of his presser became clear. The AG told two lies, followed by a few absurdities. The lies were that Mueller had found no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and that the opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel that the president cannot be indicted had not affected Mueller’s conclusions. However, the word ‘collusion’ is disavowed in the report, and Mueller found lots of nefarious election related interactions between the Trump campaign and the Russians, but had not been able to establish that there had been an agreement, and therefore a conspiracy. The OLC opinion was the reason why Mueller had not drawn a conclusion with regards to obstruction of justice, because the president could not be charged anyway and therefore would not be able to defend himself in court.
With regards to the obstruction of justice that undeniably took place Barr got caught in the web of his own lies. On the one hand he said that he had concluded that Trump had not obstructed justice because the White House had fully cooperated with Mueller’s probe, but on the other that the president had been frustrated because his campaign and then his White House had been under investigation since 2016, which would justify all the lies told to Mueller and the attempts to obstruct his investigation. As one pundit put it: Trump was frustrated because his criminal campaign staffers and his criminal National Security Advisor were under criminal investigation. One of the juicy details in the report was that Trump, after hearing that a Special Counsel had been appointed, said “I’m fucked, this is the end of my presidency,” not exactly a sign of innocence. On top of this it was revealed that White House counsel Don McGahn, when ordered by Trump to have Mueller fired, told aides he would not participate in ‘crazy shit’ and threatened to resign. Sarah Sanders, finally, was exposed as a liar and a major source of fake news when she had to tell Mueller that her receiving messages from FBI agents about Comey having no support in the agency was all made up.
After Barr’s press conference and the release of the report it became obvious why Trump had wanted Barr to sit by the fire for him. Most of the initial comments were directed at discrepancies between Barr’s statement and the report, and not so much at the crimes committed by the president, who meanwhile tweeted that there had been no collusion and no obstruction of justice, accompanied by a reference to ‘Game of Thrones’ which may have revealed his ambition to turn his presidency into a modern fascist regime.
Obviously these events drove Trump’s quirky behavior with regards to the southern border out of the press. About family separations Trump said that Obama did it, that he stopped it, but that you need it. His plan to bus asylum seekers to sanctuary cities may very well increase the flow of immigrants, and in combination with ending financial aid to three Central American countries makes you wonder if he wants a crisis at the border for political reasons.
There were also light moments. On one of the MSNBC shows the president’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said that Trump has no tolerance for people who lie, which made Nicole Wallace burst out in laughter, and while Kellyanne Conway was trumpeting Trump’s total triumph on the White House lawn her husband George called Trump a ‘cancer on the presidency’ in the Washington Post.
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