The Extraordinary, Nightmarish Last 24 Hours in Politics, Summarized
Even in the context of the Trump Presidency, the last 24 hours have been extraordinary. Unfortunately, we have become so inured the chaotic political environment that we live in, I don’t know that much of what has happened in the last 24 hours has really, properly registered. With anyone else in the White House, the events of the last 24 hours probably would have defined that presidency, but with Trump, it almost feels like business as usual.
+ Andrew McCabe, second in command at the FBI, was forced out after ceding to months of pressure from the President, whose only reason for firing McCabe — best we can tell — is because Terry McAuliffe, who has a close political relationship with Hillary Clinton, gave money to McCabe’s wife’s political campaign in a race she lost. We also found out that, the day after Comey was terminated, Trump called McCabe to express anger that James Comey had been able to fly a government plane from Los Angeles back to Washington D.C. after he’d been fired (I guess Trump had meant to further humiliate Comey by firing him and then forcing him to take a commercial flight home). Trump also suggested McCabe ask his wife “how does it feel to be a loser?” McCabe responded, “OK sir,” and then Trump hung up on the phone.
+ The House Intel Committee voted along party lines to release a memo written by Devin Nunes’ staff based on intelligence that Devin Nunes has not even seen. The DOJ asserted that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release the memo. Even more infuriating is the fact that the House Intelligence committee, along party lines, voted to prohibit the Democrats from releasing their rebuttal memo and they voted against allowing the FBI Director, Christopher Wray, to offer context to the American people.
Trump will now decide if the memo should be released, although he has already signaled that he will release it, despite having not read it.
We already know roughly what is in the memo (a bunch of nothing), but that has not stopped folks like Sebastian Gorka from saying that the memo is “100 times bigger” than the abuses of power by Great Britain that led to the American Revolution.
+ The House Intelligence Committee also voted to open an investigation into both the Department of Justice and the FBI. The investigation is largely designed to root out anti-Trump bias in those apolitical organizations. The Democrats were not consulted before the Republicans opened the investigation.
+ Finally, the White House has decided NOT to enforce sanctions against Russia, the very same sanctions implemented by Congress by overwhelming majorities. It is not hard to draw conclusions about why the White House decided not to enforce those sanctions.
So what does it all mean? Absolute worst case scenario? It means that Trump is going to purge the FBI and the DOJ of any and all oppositional voices and remake it in his own image. It means that Trump is preparing to fire Rod Rosenstein and then Bob Mueller, and shut down the investigation into Russian meddling and into his campaign. It means that Trump continues to cozy up to the Russians ahead of the midterms in the hopes that they can help prevent Congress from falling under control of the Democrats. It also means that morale at the FBI is going to sink to rock bottom levels, and that Trump — in order to save his own ass — is going to lose a lot of good men and women whose jobs it is to protect our country.
Worst case scenario, we are fucked.
What does it mean if our Democratic institutions can hold? It means that Trump is absolutely terrified of what Bob Mueller has on him. It means that Devin Nunes #ReleasetheMmo stunt is a desperate public relations move designed to discredit the FBI, but given the speed of our modern news cycle, it also means that whatever is in that memo will be forgotten within a week. It means that Mueller probably has even more evidence of obstruction of justice, just from this political stunt alone. It means that, if Trump even hints at making a move on Bob Mueller, the American people will revolt, that they will turn out in massive numbers in November and give Democrats the power to impeach the President, and that the intelligence communities will be even more vigilant in their efforts to prevent Russian meddling in those midterms.
Best case scenario: This is all bullshit political posturing, and Trump is fucked.
Most likely outcome: Somewhere in the middle, which is to say that, ultimately, both the American people and Trump are fucked.