Reviewing the news of the day, it strikes me how exhausting the so-called Trump Administration is. We’ve gone from No-Drama Obama to the Perpetual Pandemonium President. And this is particularly remarkable in that nothing unusually catastrophic is going on right now. The Donald is just one unforced error after another. My new name for him is The tRumpus.
Anyway … Today the tRumpus made yesterday look worse. Aaron Blake writes at WaPo:
In one fell swoop, Trump totally contradicted his three top spokespeople and offered a polar-oppositeÂ version of events than they had provided.
After they had spent the past 45 hours emphasizing that this was a decision Trump arrived at after receiving a memo and recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, Trump just blurted out that he was going to fire Comey all along. Basically, he admitted the memo was a ruse and a political ploy.
This was today’s unforced error: Trump told NBC News’s Lester Holt that he had decided to fire Comey before he had received a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. You’ll remember that yesterday’s story was that Trump fired Comey on Rosenstein’s recommendation.
Notice that Lester Holt didn’t trick Trump into admitting this. Trump just blurted it out. He can’t even keep his own stories straight.
It didn’t help that the Washington Post had reported earlier that Rosenstein had threatened to resign after realizing the decision to fire Comey was being pinned on him. The Wall Street Journal is reporting (source) that Rosenstein asked asked White House Counsel Don McGahn to “correct what he felt was an inaccurate depiction” of his involvement in Comey’s firing.
The Real Story, from several news sources, is that Trump had been growing increasingly agitated about Comey for not backing up the claim that Trump had been wiretapped by Obama, and also for Comey’s continued pursuit of the Russian hacking issue. And then last week when Comey said in testimony that he felt “mildly nauseous” about his possibly having affected the outcome of the election. Trump took that as a personal insult.
So Comey was unceremoniously dumped from his job only because Trump was pissed off at him, and he was dumped without even the grace of being asked to resign. And today Trump piled on by calling Comey a “showboat” and a “grandstander.” As in most things, Trump probably has no clue that this is not How These Things Are Done.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are considering a new kind of “nuclear option” if they feel they aren’t getting answers to What the Bleep Is Going On. Jeff Stein at Vox explains:
Unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate operates under what are called “unanimous consent” agreements. If Senate Democrats withhold their consent, the routine functioning of the body — from committee hearings to routine floor votes — could grind to an immediate halt.
“It would stop everything in the Senate and effectively shut it down,” said Josh Huder, a congressional scholar at Georgetown’s Government Affairs Institute. “If they go down this road, things could get pretty slow and ugly in the Senate.”
They haven’t decided to do this, mind you, but they’re seriously talking about it.
On top of that, this happened yesterday — Josh Marshall writes,
I wanted to add some context to one of the more surreal moments of this surreal day. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met first with Secretary of State Tillerson and then a short time later with President Trump in the Oval Office. …
… Many also noted that while US press was barred from the meeting, Lavrov was allowed to bring the the Russian state news agency to photograph the event. …
…Foreign Ministers don’t usually meet with the President of the United States. I’m not saying it never happens. It does sometimes, especially if its the foreign minister of a major power, which of course Russia is. It also happens when there’s some particular business of importance to be hashed out. But Foreign Ministers generally meet with the Secretary of State, Defense Ministers meet the Defense Secretary, etc. It’s a rather straightforward matter of counterparts, parity and status. A Foreign Minister meeting with the President, particularly a chummy meeting in the Oval Office, is not standard procedure and generally signifies a warmness of relations between the two countries or some specific business to be hashed out. …
… According to Susan Glasser, Trump had the meeting because Putin asked and said it was important.
And the timing couldn’t be better, right? But today CNN reported that Trump was furious that the Russians published the photographs taken by the Russian photographer.
The White House did not anticipate that the Russian government would allow its state news agency to post photographs of an Oval Office meeting between President Donald Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia’s ambassador to the US, a White House official said.
Photos of Wednesday’s meeting, taken by a Russian state news media photographer one day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey amid questions about possible Trump campaign collusion with Moscow, were ultimately posted by Russia’s news agency, TASS. …
… “They tricked us,” an angry White House official said.“That’s the problem with the Russians — they lie,” the official added.
The Russians used the photos to troll the White House in its social media posts Wednesday. The Russian Foreign Ministry posted a photo of a smiling US President shaking hands with Lavrov on Twitter, adding strange and ironic optics to the questions already swirling around the White House over Comey’s firing.
I mean, what the bleep? Were these clowns born last week?
And this afternoon, the White House continued to dance in its own doo-doo by announcing that Comey’s firing will help bring the Russian investigation to an end. That’s supposed to be reassuring?