Before the Fall

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Last week the president continued his quest for an audience that would applaud him and he finally found one at the Alabama-Louisiana State University football game he attended on Saturday.  The Crimson Tide fans will think twice before they applaud Trump again, however, because their team lost to LSU for the first time in ten years.  Two days later in New York things were back in order, because although demonstrators were kept away from the location where Trump kicked off the Veterans Day parade with a sleep-inducing teleprompter speech the chant ‘Lock him up’ could be heard from a distance.  In the president’s immediate environment things were not much better, because acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone were feuding over the question whether the latter had done enough to keep government employees from testifying to the House Intelligence Committee in the impeachment inquiry.  Meanwhile in  Florida former National Security Advisor John Bolton suggested that Trump’s decision to give Turkey unfettered access to Syria was driven by his own business interests.

In advance of the impeachment hearings a memo circulated among House Republicans that proposed the following strategy: admit all the known facts, including a quid-pro-quo, but emphasize that the president was extremely concerned about corruption in Ukraine and had no criminal intent whatsoever.  In light of the testimony later in the week it would not have worked anyway, but Trump immediately shot down this attempt to save his presidency by tweeting once more that his call with Zelensky had been perfect and that he wanted Joe Biden investigated.  The president’s rabid state of mind was further exhibited when the news broke that he had wanted to fire the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, who found the whistleblower’s complaint ‘credible and urgent’ and passed it on to the Intelligence Committee, for disloyalty.  During the hearing Ambassador Taylor dropped the bombshell that in a July 26 phone call with Gordon Sondland Trump was overheard asking about ‘the investigations.’  Sondland told a staffer that Trump cared more about having Biden investigated than about Ukraine

It also became clear that if the money had not been released to Ukraine before the end of the fiscal year on September 30 it would have been lost, which implies that but for the whistleblower many more Ukrainians would have died trying to battle the Russians with inferior weaponry, and explains the diplomats’ deep concern.  In spite of tweeting about the hearings Trump said that he didn’t watch them and met with Erdogan in the Oval Office instead, praising the Turkish president’s great rapport with the Kurds after Erdogan had played an anti-Kurd video on his Ipad.

Trump was not the only one in trouble this week.  A watchdog group revealed that Stephen Miller, before becoming the architect of the White House’s anti-immigrant policies, had send multiple emails containing white nationalist viewpoints to Breitbart News, while Trump’s old pal Roger Stone is looking at possibly 20 years in prison as his trial draws to a close.  In an event promoting freedom of speech at UCLA Don Trump Jr. was booed off stage by his own peeps for cancelling a Q&A.

After the first hearings the GOP firewall still holds, with Devin Nunes and ‘Gym’ Jordan taking the lead in aggressively confronting the witnesses with cockamamie conspiracy theories and Lindsey Graham declaring that he’ll do what he can to prevent a trial in the Senate.  But it’s still early in the process, and now Trump’s direct involvement has been confirmed by a second witness of his call with Sondland.

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