We had another scintillating week in the American Swamp. Here’s how it unfolded.
Monday – Packing
Future Ex-President Trump (FEPOTUS) announced that DC Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh was his nominee to the Supreme Court seat, abandoned by Anthony Kennedy. In his remarks, Kavanaugh emphasized the sacrosanct relationship with his daughters. He also mentioned that more than half of his court clerks have been female. When he later limits women’s reproductive rights, he can say that he is doing it out of love.
In advance of the NATO summit, Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchinson went on record in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in contrast to FEPOTUS’s characterization of NATO as obsolete. FEPOTUS is expected to shove the NATO members out of the way, perhaps not physically as he had done to Prime Minister of Montenegro last year.
Before leaving on his flight, FEPOTUS had a conversation with his nemesis, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. More about that later.
Tuesday – Unpacking
The nomination carnival began, with Brett Kavanaugh glad-handing his way around the Senate precincts. Majority Leader McConnell commended him after last week warning that Kavanaugh would have a rough confirmation process, owing to unresolved issues from his confirmation to the Circuit Court. McConnell did it to cover his ass if the nomination founders, which it might. Kavanaugh went on record in favor of nearly absolute presidential power, including the right to dismiss a special prosecutor without cause. At the moment, a statement like that is not hypothetical.
Elsewhere: the executive branch failed to meet its deadline to reunite children with their migrant parents. No excuse offered, no explanation given.
FEPOTUS, unaffected, was winging his way to Brussels for the NATO summit. FEFLOTUS Melania Trump spent most of the flight writing and rewriting the back of her wardrobe. Trump chose to wear his persecution complex on board. He previewed his villainization of the allies for not paying their fair share of defense costs (untrue). It is widely understood that the most immediate threats to the West arrive via computer. Yet, he made no remarks of prior or future Russian cyber-bellicosity. Oh right, he is going to visit Professor Putin after he schools NATO. He and Vladimir will meet behind closed doors and without a record being made.
For good measure, he pardoned Dwight and Steven Hammond, ranchers convicted of arson, whose anti-government actions sparked the Western militia pile-up and seizure of federal lands. Trump continues tearing down the rule of law.
I have a good mind to jaywalk.
Wednesday – Keep Your Enemies Closer
FEPOTUS wasted no time attacking the NATO allies. He accused them of taking advantage of the U.S. He went hard at Angela Merkel, who is in the middle of an electoral challenge from the far right. He targeted her for allowing Germany to be “completely controlled” by Russia through its Nord-2 gas line. FEPOTUS hit Germany in its soft underbelly. The gas line is controversial in Europe. His complaint is that the U.S. is taking a double hit: paying for NATO while the Russian Federation profits from the pipeline. But wait, didn’t he want us to be Russia’s friend? FEPOTUS wants to be Russia’s exclusive Sugar Daddy.
Thursday – Omission Accomplished
The NATO summit ended with FEPOTUS declaring victory, pyrrhic like the one over North Korea, which recently called his administration gangsters. He announced that the NATO allies would increase spending. Like all of his “deals,” this one is short on details. There was no agreement as to what, when and how much the allies would spend. He also proclaimed his belief in the alliance, which only last week was “obsolete.” He was disturbingly silent on the issue of cyber-warfare, a global concern and concurrently the subject of Congressional hearings. Not that there is any action plan of course.
Friday – Strzoking Out
Like any good novel, this week’s loose threads pulled together in the last chapter. The leading event of the day was the appearance of Peter Strzok, the disgraced FBI deputy chief, before a joint meeting of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees. Strzok opened with a statement attacking the GOP for taking his text messages out of context and for demonizing him and pouring abuse on the FBI.
Strzok mentioned candidate Trump’s vilification of the gold-star parents of a Muslim officer killed in defense of the country as being the impetus for the exchange of remarks with Lisa Page, a colleague and paramour. He recalled that the event was appalling to many Americans and was expected to torpedo the Trump candidacy.
The texting occurred at a time when people still thought that Trump would and could blow himself up. Even if Strzok wanted to put his thumb on the scale, he said, FBI checks above and below him would have prevented his doing so. Like many other public officials, he had a strong negative reaction to candidate Trump over several of his abhorrent remarks. Many others made public remarks, which were put into the record by one of the Democratic members of Congress.
“My presumption [was] based on that horrible, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States,” Strzok said.
Many of the GOP members of Congress, who had been kicked upstairs into the House after mediocre careers as prosecutors, used the hearing to flash their cross-examining skills on Strzok. Things got ugly early. Retiring Rep. Trey Gowdy, in full dudgeon from the start, made his disdain clear, saying that he did not give a damn what the witness appreciated. Representative Louis Gohmert from Tyler, Texas, brought on the hearing’s lowest moment, in accusing Strzok of perjury.
“When I see you looking with a little smirk, I wonder how many times did you look so innocently into your wife’s eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page,” Gohmert said. The room exploded in denunciation. One member of Congress declared Gohmert fit for an insane asylum, and another said that Gohmert needed medication.
On the other side of the pond, FEPOTUS was ripping embattled Prime Minister May for screwing up Brexit. She did not take his advice, he puffed. London protests were so large and impassioned that the meeting was moved to Blenheim Palace, in the Oxfordshire countryside. The Queen agreed to meet with FEPOTUS, but not before a robust discussion with her personal secretary. It was agreed that one of Her Majesty’s Corgis having a kidney stone attack was not a “proper excuse.” After his unwelcome reception in England, formerly known as England, FEPOTUS jetted off to one of his UK properties, the Turnberry golf course, to spend a weekend among Scots, who loathe him. This gave him a weekend to practice squats for his supplication to Putin in Helsinki.
Against this backdrop, Special Prosecutor Mueller filed an indictment, this time against twelve Russian members of the GRU (KGB) for their roles in hacking 2016‘s election. The indictment was packed with detail. In fact, it was the subject of Monday’s chat between FEPOTUS and Rosenberg. In view of these new charges, the conventional wisdom was that FEPOTUS should scrap the meeting with Putin, which advice he ignored.
The latest indictment pleaded that one congressional candidate knew about the hacking during the 2016 campaign and asked to be let in on the dirt. If one congressperson knew, it is possible that many did. One cannot help but consider if the Republican outrage shown at the hearing going on up the Hill had something to do with their complicity in Russian meddling. Several senior congressional representatives, Gowdy among them, have decided not to run again. There may be a blue wave coming but there will be some red rollers mixed in with it.
This revelation may also explain why Devon Nunes, FEPOTUS marionette, subverted his committee’s investigation, and he continues trying to throw sand in the gears.
Paragraph 44 has received the most fevered attention. It says:
Certain ORGANIZATION-produced materials about the 2016 U.S. presidential election used election-related hashtags, including: “#Trump2016,” “#TrumpTrain,” “#MAGA,” “#IWontProtectHillary,” and “#Hillary4Prison.” Defendants and their co-conspirators also established additional online social media accounts dedicated to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, including the Twitter account “March for Trump” and Facebook accounts “Clinton FRAUDation” and “Trumpsters United.”
Speculation is that “co-conspirators” refers to Roger Stone, one of FEPOTUS’S closest allies. He came up through the ranks with Roger Ailes, the late and unlamented creator of Fox News, and old Russia hand, Paul Manafort.