There is some new, seemingly critical, event each day in Washington.
You really need a scorecard to keep track. In fact, reporters sometimes divide the stories into categories because there are so many.
It used to be that reporters had to search for story ideas much of the time in the Capital but With President Trump, there is a constant flood of news. Most of it bad for Trump, the Presidency, and the country.
This week’s Trump contradictions.
We start with the question of why President Trump fired FBI Director Comey, whose agency was investigating Flynn, the Trump election team, and their connections with Russia. This was a shocking dismissal of a highly respected Director only three years into his ten-year term.
At first, Trump’s spokespeople said the dismissal was because Director Comey was distrusted and disliked inside the Agency (he was actually highly respected and popular among FBI agents). President Trump also said a “highly” negative report from Trump’s Assistant Director of the Dept. of Justice called for his dismissal.
Trump had fired the Acting Director for disagreeing with him but the new AG, Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself because of his close ties with Russians. The report had to be from the new Assistant AG Rod Rosenstein whose report actually didn’t call for Comey to be fired.
At the very, very beginning, President Trump said he fired Comey because he had treated Secretary Clinton so badly during the election. No one believed that even in the White House – that explanation only lasted a few hours followed by the spokespersons’ initial claim that he was disliked. That was so false Trump was warned not to visit the FBI for fear he would be booed.
President Trump then returned a second time to the memo from Deputy Rod Rosenstein as the main reason he fired Comey.
Trump has famously said he never stands behind anything he says.
Trump seems to have decided he looked weak depending on a rather mild report written by Rosenstein who had only been in office two weeks, so a few days later in an interview on NBC he contradicted his own Vice President, and press office (and his earlier self) by insisting he had planned to fire Comey for months and had been thinking of the Russia investigation at the time he decided to fire him.
That is an incredible admission because it looks like he fired Comey to stop the investigation into his campaign and administration. (That would be Obstruction of Justice so a few days later Trump again insisted he fired Comey because of the Rosenstein’s letter (which didn’t recommend firing Comey).
We then waited for the next flip-flop on that story because, contradicting Trump’s claims, Rosenstein has stated that he knew Comey was going to be fired when he was asked by President Trump to write his memo the day before the firing.
And all was not settled. Just before he boarded the plane for his trip to Saudi Arabia someone who had been in the Oval Office at the time said Trump had told the Russians that he fired Comey because he was “a nut” and that now the pressure would be off.
But if he really fired Comey to end the Russia investigation it backfired in a very big way because that criticism of the Justice Department caused Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor, an independent investigator, to begin a major criminal investigation into the whole Trump/Russia situation.
Trump on Russia
Friday, on the eve of his great European/mid-East tour, President Trump answered press questions about the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia. President Trump keeps insisting it is all a hoax devised by the Democrats, just as climate change is a Chinese hoax.
All along Trump has said, “There was no collusion between my campaign and Russia.” Friday he changed that, saying, “Of course I can only speak for myself and Russia.” That sent a cold chill through his staff because it sounded like the first move to throw them under the bus.
Although Trump keeps insisting the Russia investigation is a “witch hunt,” more and more contacts between his staff and Russia keep turning up and added to how friendly he is with the Russian Ambassador it looks more and more like there are some extremely close ties between Trump and Russia.
Trump’s fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was taking money from Turkey during the campaign, and Flynn sort of forgot to register as the agent of a foreign government until caught. Flynn also talked with the Russian Ambassador on a regular basis. President Obama warned Trump about Flynn, as did the Department of Justice. Sally Yates, the Acting Director Trump Fired, has testified that three times in four days she warned the Trump transition team Flynn was compromised by the Russians, but he was still given the most sensitive security position in the White House.
And just a few days ago it was disclosed that Flynn was much more honorable than had been thought – far from concealing his Russia ties, Flynn actually told the transition team that he (Flynn) was currently under investigation by the FBI before they hired him. That reflects well on him but makes Trump look even worse.
Trump’s VP Pence
Vice President Pence denies having known about Flynn being investigated or had any ties with Russia, despite being head of the transition team and the position of National Security Advisor (NSA) being one of the top three or four most important jobs.
Flynn is apparently President Trump’s favorite person in the world because Trump keeps insisting Flynn is a good guy. Trump even pressured FBI Director Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn at a private meeting in the Oval Office. That meeting started out with Comey, the President, VP Pence, and new NSA McMasters, but Trump asked the other two to leave and then asked Comey to leave Flynn alone – many lawyers point out that if you are about to do something you know is illegal you don’t want witnesses.
White House insiders say Trump is still upset that he fired Flynn and keeps defending him, despite Flynn’s request for immunity and his recent refusal to respond to the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena.
Meanwhile, just Friday evening it came out that Russian agents (spies) had been heard bragging that they had Flynn held in so tightly that they could use him to influence policy.
The Trump/Russia Connection Continues
In case you missed it, President Trump had a very private meeting with Russians in the Oval Office where he disclosed highly secret intel reports from Israel about ISIS activities. The information reportedly included the city where the information was obtained, putting the Israeli agent in great danger.
The information, which Israel provided with the condition it never be disclosed to any other country, was classified “code word” which is even higher than Top Secret because only people who know the code word are permitted to see it.
Russia is a close ally and sponsor of Iran, the country which is Israel’s greatest enemy, so it can be assumed that Israel’s intelligence community is not happy with President Trump who is on his way to Israel via Saudi Arabia.
Just as President Trump boarded Air Force One on Friday evening, The New York Times reported Trump had told Russian officials that firing Comey would greatly reduce the pressure on his administration and Russia. He also said Comey (the highly-respected head of the FBI) was a “nut job.” Trump turned on Comey because weeks earlier the President invited Comey to a private dinner and chat where, according to sources close to Comey, the President pressured Comey to swear loyalty personally to Trump – Comey declined to do so. Trump also asked him to drop the Flynn investigation.
Comey did neither and was fired two weeks later.
Trump’s People Are Rudderless in a Choppy Sea
President Trump is always contradicting either himself or his surrogates. Trump’s main surrogates are the weary Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway (she of the “alternate facts” who was banned from CNN for telling too many obvious lies), and lately a woman with southern charm, Sarah Elizabeth Huckabee Sanders (34), a graduate of a Baptist school.
For those not familiar with the US, smaller religious schools (not, for example, Notre Dame or Georgetown) usually emphasize religious aspects in all subjects so graduates tend to have a rather slanted view of history, liberal ethics, and especially science. It’s difficult to fit 13.8 billion years of cosmology, geology, and especially evolution into the 6,000 or so years their Biblical interpretation of history allows.
Washington insiders would instantly recognize her maiden name, Huckabee. Mike Huckabee is a minister and former Governor of Arkansas. Strangely enough, despite completely opposite political and social views, he and President Clinton were both born in Hope, Arkansas.
There are rumors in Washington that Trump is trying out Huckabee because he is frustrated with Sean Spicer’s trouble dealing with the press.
There are multiple sources in the White House telling CNN, the New York times, and Politico that White House attorneys have begun researching impeachment, how it begins, what defenses are possible, and so forth – just, they say, as a remote possibility. However, Obstruction of Justice and giving highly classified information to the Russians on a whim would constitute crimes or a violation of the presidential oath of office.
Since impeachment is a trial by the U.S. Senate rather than by a court, the only requirement is that they prove a president committed “High crimes or misdemeanors.” That wording can cover anything they wish to consider so it is essentially up to the Republican leaders whether they want to remove Trump and put Pence into office.