This White House presser happened today, and it is more than disturbing.
I take it Hair FÃ¼hrer is angry that people are dissing his inauguration because of the subdued size of the crowd. Very likely the YUGE demonstrations today really rubbed it in.
So Press Secretary Sean Spicer called in the reporters and, surrounded by blown up photographs of yesterday’s crowd, he argued that Trump’s inauguration WAS TOO the most bigly attended inauguration EVER. Actual quote: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration. Period. Both in person and around the globe.” And, of course, it wasn’t.
But it gets worse. Spicer is clearly angry. He is practically sputtering. HOW DARE the press even suggest Trump’s inauguration was not as well attended as other inaugurations! Spicer is also upset because a Time magazine reporter tweeted, erroneously, that Trump had removed the bust of Martin Luther King from the oval office. This was part of a pool report, so it got picked up in a few places before it was corrected.
However, whether Spicer’s clear distress is coming from righteous anger or something else is hard to tell. Maybe he’s angry that he’s being forced to have this ridiculous presser. Or, maybe Spicer is rattled because Dear Leader heaped some blistering verbal abuse on him about allowing the media to get away with actual reporting.
And at the end, he actually issues a threat. The Trump Administration will “hold the press accountable” — his very words — for reports that displease Dear Leader. Whether the penalties will be a stockade or walking on hot coals or something else, we do not yet know.
If Trump is getting this worked up over trivialities like this, a real crisis is going to blow his fuses. I can see him curled up in a fetal position in his gilded bathroom somewhere while Spicer and Ivanka make excuses for him to the media.
Spicer also talks about a brief visit Trump made today to CIA headquarters. That was bizarre, also. There was an open invitation to CIA employees to attend, and the 400 who showed up cheered and clapped a lot. But not everyone was happy. Politico reports:
Standing on hallowed ground at the Langley headquarters, in front of the wall of stars carved into marble to represent each of the 117 CIA agents who have died in service to the country, Trump lashed out at his critics, boasted of his appearances on magazine covers and exaggerated about the size of the crowd at his inauguration.
He also hinted at loosening rules on torture put in place under President Barack Obama, promised to wipe â€œradical Islamic terrorismâ€¦ off the face of the earthâ€ and pledged his full backing to the CIA.
â€œI am so behind you,â€œ Trump said, adding, â€œYouâ€™re gonna get so much backing. Maybe youâ€™re gonna say, please, don’t give us so much backing, Mr. President, please, we donâ€™t need that much backing.â€
However, not everyone was pleased.
“The proper way to do it was wait for [incoming CIA director Mike] Pompeo to get confirmed, to do it on a weekday, to do it for the larger CIA population but to make it private and answer questions,” one former CIA officer said. “This was a waste of time.”
â€œFormer CIA Dir Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself,â€ Brennanâ€™s former deputy chief of staff, Nick Shapiro, said on Twitter.
It was a strange juxtaposition: a President, standing before the memorial wall at the CIA that honors the lives lost by agency officers as he talked about crowd size and his intelligence. According to the pool report, there were about 400 CIA employees at the agency Saturday. At first, the cheering came from across the crowd, but the pooler noted that as the speech continued, the senior officials in the front grew “subdued.”
“Probably almost everybody in this room voted for me but I will not ask you to raise your hands if you did but I guarantee a big portion because we’re all on the same wavelength,” Trump said.
And, Trump basically just talked about himself.
It seemed at every turn, Trump would pivot to himself. As he talked about his choice to lead the CIA Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Trump noted that he himself was smart.
“I met him and I said, he is so good. Number one in his class at West Point. I know a lot about West Point, and I’m a person that very strongly believes in academics. In fact, every time I say I had an uncle who was a great professor at M.I.T. for 35 years, who did a fantastic job in so many ways,” Trump said. “He was an academic genius, and then they say, there’s Donald Trump, an intellectual, trust me, I’m like a smart person.”
Then, when he talked about wanting to help America win again, he noted how young he felt.
“When I was young and I feel young, I feel like I’m 30, 35, 39, somebody said, ‘Are you young? I said, ‘I think I’m young.’ You know, I was stopping when we were in the final month of the campaign, four stops, five stops, seven stops. Speeches, speeches, in front of 25,000, 35,000 people, 15,000, 19,000, from stop to stop,” Trump said. ” I feel young. When I was young, we were always winning things in this country. Would win with trade. Would win with wars. And at a certain age, I remember hearing from one of my instructors the United States has never lost a war. And then after that, it’s like, we haven’t won anything.”
Who does this? (See TPM for the video.)
George W. Bush didn’t know what he was doing, either, but as the son of a president he understood the protocols. He knew how to go through the motions properly. Trump can’t even do that.