By Robert A. Vella
It was anticipated that this week would be a tumultuous one in Washington D.C. following the Labor Day holiday, but the news so far today has exceeded all expectations. As the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings began for President Trump’s supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, protesters were arrested, Democratic senators expressed outrage over access to Kavanaugh’s judicial records, and scrutiny renewed regarding the nominee’s alleged lying to Congress about his role in the Bush Administration’s counter-terrorism activities. Kavanaugh is the most controversial nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court since Robert Bork in 1987 primarily because it is believed he will provide the deciding vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and that his support of executive authority might be unrestrained as well as an affront to the nation’s constitutional separation of powers.
Obviously, Trump is in the center of this furor as new revelations are coming out about the inner dysfunction in the White House on top of more public condemnation of a man who is clearly unfit for the office he now holds. First, Bob Woodward – of Watergate fame – has a new book to be published soon titled “Fear” which details in-depth interviews with administration officials on “deep background.” The pre-release of the book includes shocking accounts of anger, paranoia, and rash impulses by the President.
Woodward depicts Trump’s anger and paranoia about the Russia inquiry as unrelenting, at times paralyzing the West Wing for days. Learning of the appointment of Mueller in May 2017, Trump groused, “Everybody’s trying to get me” — part of a venting period that shellshocked aides compared to Richard Nixon’s final days as president.
A central theme of the book is the stealthy machinations used by those in Trump’s inner sanctum to try to control his impulses and prevent disasters, both for the president personally and for the nation he was elected to lead.
Woodward describes “an administrative coup d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch, with senior aides conspiring to pluck official papers from the president’s desk so he couldn’t see or sign them.
White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly frequently lost his temper and told colleagues that he thought the president was “unhinged,” Woodward writes. In one small group meeting, Kelly said of Trump: “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”
After Syrian leader Bashar Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. “Let’s … kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the … lot of them,” Trump said using an expletive, according to Woodward.
Lawyer and CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin criticized Donald Trump on Tuesday for his attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the indictments of two Republican congressmen, saying the president’s comments may be grounds for his impeachment.
“This tweet alone may be an impeachable offense,” Toobin said on CNN’s New Day. “This is such a disgrace. This is so contrary to the traditions of the Department of Justice. … It’s such an insult to the decent people who work there.”
The New York Times op-ed columnist is best known for his sober columns about foreign policy and technology.
That’s why his Monday column stood out. “Our democracy is in serious danger,” he wrote in the opening line. “President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.”
There was something about his last paragraph, in particular, that struck a chord. “This is code red,” he wrote. “The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the Oval Office.”