Here's What Happened This Weekend in the World of Politics
It was another one of those weekends where Donald Trump hid out from an increasingly unsettled public, played golf, watched cable news and angry tweeted statements that no one reads, much less believes anymore. Instead of generating shitty headlines this weekend, Trump gave the press some time to collect their thoughts and take a longer view on what a shitty president Donald Trump has been. Take the Los Angeles Times, for instance, which kicked off a four-part series on “Our Dishonest President” with this scorching rebuke:
What is most worrisome about Trump is Trump himself. He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his presidency will lead or how much damage he will do to our nation. His obsession with his own fame, wealth and success, his determination to vanquish enemies real and imagined, his craving for adulation — these traits were, of course, at the very heart of his scorched-earth outsider campaign; indeed, some of them helped get him elected. But in a real presidency in which he wields unimaginable power, they are nothing short of disastrous.
That is the fourth most popular newspaper in the United States, folks, saying that our President is “untethered from reality,” which might explain this inscrutable tweet:
The real story turns out to be SURVEILLANCE and LEAKING! Find the leakers.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2017
Uh, the leakers are INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE.
Meanwhile, this tweet comes a couple of days after Trump threw the Freedom Caucus — a necessary bloc of voters if Trump ever hopes to repeal Obamacare — under the bus:
Talks on Repealing and Replacing ObamaCare are, and have been, going on, and will continue until such time as a deal is hopefully struck.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2017
Trump is not only untethered from reality, he is straight-up schizophrenic.
Speaking of the Freedom Caucus, White House social media director Dan Scavino Jr. used the power of his position to go after Freedom Caucus member, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, tweeting that he is “a big liability. TrumpTrain, defeat him in primary,” That’s an ethical — and potentially legal — no no, a violation of the Hatch Act that would have gotten him fired under any other administration.
Note, too, that the Freedom Caucus is made up of Tea Party Representatives, who have a voter demographic most similar to that of Donald Trump. If Amash is defeated in 2018, it will likely be because of Donald Trump, but not for the reasons Trump hopes, unless he’s tanking his Presidency on purpose in order to hurt the GOP in the midterms.
Meanwhile, financial disclosures revealed this week that not only are the people inside the White House corrupt, they are obscenely wealthy. The Washington Post reports that 86 percent of the counties that voted for Trump last year make less in a year than 27 Trump staffers are worth. Wow. That’s less an indictment of the Trump White House itself, and more an indictment of the insane wealth gap in the United States.
Elsewhere, a federal judge gave the go-ahead to three protestors to sue Donald Trump for inciting violence at a rally last year; this comes only shortly after a federal judge OK’d a $25 million settlement to a class of people who were defrauded by Trump University. These are just two of many, many lawsuits being waged against a sitting president right now.
The Jared Kushner profiles have been interesting this weekend, too. One I read noted that the conflicts of interests continue to pile up with Jared Kushner, but Politico had a long piece on the moderating influence that Kushner has had on Donald Trump and suggested that Kushner is working to rid the White House of ideologues. There’s a plan potentially underway to fire a whole host of them. I don’t like Jared Kushner, but I hate to fathom a White House where there’s no pushback against Stephen Bannon’s policies. Kushner is building a coalition of influence inside the White House that includes national economic adviser Gary Cohn, who is a Democrat. I mean, that’s something, right? And if there’s anyone inside the White House who is going to avoid the axe, it’s Trump’s son-in-law. That is to say, as bad as it is right now, I guess it could be worse?
The Russian controversy is not going away, either. This weekend, we learned that Michael Flynn failed to disclose income from Russia-linked entities, which may be one of the many reasons he is asking for an immunity deal (“lock him up!”).
The battle over Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation is also heating up. Republicans need 60 votes to defeat a filibuster, and so far, three Democrats have flipped, giving the GOP roughly 55 votes. Should the Republicans fail to get 60 votes, they are threatening to using the nuclear option, meaning that they’d remove the filibuster threat and a SCOTUS could be confirmed with only a simple majority. That’s deeply troubling if Donald Trump gets to make any more Supreme Court picks in the next year, but could be a boon to Dems should they take back the Senate in 2018. In fact, it almost feels like we may never see another SCOTUS pick again except in situations where both the Senate majority and the President are from the same party. The entire process has been irreparably damaged. I don’t blame the Dems for opposing Gorsuch, but it’s less about his politics, and more about the fact that a deeply unpopular, potentially illegitimate president with record low approval ratings is able to make a SCOTUS pick at all in the midst of a criminal investigation into collusion with a foreign enemy. Meanwhile, scandal-free popular President Obama couldn’t even get a vote.
Finally, in case you missed it, The NYTimes revealed that Bill O’Reilly has settled five sexual harassment lawsuits against him now totaling at least $13 million. Two of those lawsuits were settled since Roger Ailes was ousted last year amidst sexual harassment allegations. Fox News, meanwhile, renewed his contract.
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