By Robert A. Vella
In several court cases in which President Trump asserted his “blanket immunity” from investigation and criminal prosecution, his defense lawyers routinely echoed his braggadocious remarks from the 2016 campaign:
“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters” (see: Trump couldn’t be prosecuted if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue, lawyer claims).
It was, and continues to be, an expression of unrestrained arrogance. It is a reflection of Trump’s own image of himself, a supreme godlike entity preordained to rule tyrannically by sheer force of will. It is the hallmark of a bully, a dictator, and a megalomaniac. To his rabid supporters and terrified opponents alike, Trump seems to be fearless and that he has nothing to fear. But, this is mere illusion. Trump’s audacious facade only attempts to conceal deep personal insecurities and doubts about himself. That’s why he presents himself so boldly. He knows he can’t succeed on his own merits. He knows he can’t compete on a level playing field. He knows he can’t win without cheating, without coercing, and without deceiving. Trump is a charlatan, and underneath all his psychological baggage, no one is more aware of that than him.
Not convinced? Then why would someone who sees himself as omnipotent engage in cowardly behavior? Why would he be afraid of anything? When Trump fired another Inspector General last Friday night, who reportedly was conducting an ethics investigation of his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was he hoping that it would go unnoticed? You betcha he was! Such off-hour ploys date back to Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” during the Watergate scandal. If Trump feared no consequence, then why didn’t he do it in plain sight and dare anyone to challenge him?
The answer becomes clear when we compare what Trump says rhetorically in public versus what he actually does behind the scenes and even secretly. Over recent weeks, Trump has slowly begun to realize that his reelection prospects are dimming. Most Americans just don’t like him, and that sentiment extends far beyond Democrats and left-leaning Independents. This morning, Nate Silver’s 538 blog of aggregated opinion polls puts President Trump’s approval rating nearly 8 points underwater at 44.0% to 51.7% and the GOP’s generic congressional ballot numbers similarly underwater at 40.6% to 48.5%. These deficits have held steady since Trump’s short-lived pandemic bounce in March. This is why the White House is pushing a new public relations campaign intended to repair Trump’s tarnished image (see: White House ramps up PR campaign to improve Trump’s image).
However, putting lipstick on a pig won’t hide its warts. Trump’s biggest obstacle by far is the public health and economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus contagion. These issues will not magically disappear before the November election, and it could potentially get worse. But, even this huge obstacle isn’t Trump’s greatest enemy. His greatest enemy is himself.
Here’s the news:
Democratic lawmakers say they are planning to look into the ouster of the State Department’s inspector general on Friday, the latest federal watchdog to be removed by the Trump administration.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) blasted the decision to remove inspector general Steve Linick, asserting it was an “outrageous” attempt by President Trump to shield Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from scrutiny.
“I have learned that the Office of the Inspector General had opened an investigation into Secretary Pompeo. Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation,” Engel said in a statement.
The State Department watchdog played a more minor role in the impeachment proceedings last year after he requested an urgent briefing with lawmakers in October to turn over documents he had obtained. The documents came in part from Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, with Democrats saying they were passed along by the secretary of State and contained a number of false statements.
The Friday news dump — also known as the Friday night news dump — is a political trick with plenty of precedent. Wait till the vast majority of the news business clocks out for the week, and announce something you’d rather they not cover as much. People won’t be reading as much news at that point anyway, and perhaps it’ll be dismissed as old news by Monday morning.
Few are as blatant about using this tactic, though, as the Trump White House.
News broke late Friday night that Trump had removed the inspector general for the State Department, Steve Linick. It’s the third time in six weeks that such a move has been announced on a Friday night, with each inspector general having done something to pretty obviously alienate Trump. The unprecedented spate of removals have reinforced how Trump is rather obviously seeking to undermine independent oversight of his administration — and the timing of each of them only reinforces that.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The day he declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency, President Donald Trump made a cryptic offhand remark.
“I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about,” he said at the White House.
Trump wasn’t just crowing. Dozens of statutory authorities become available to any president when national emergencies are declared. They are rarely used, but Trump last month stunned legal experts and others when he claimed — mistakenly — that he has “total” authority over governors in easing COVID-19 guidelines.
That prompted 10 senators to look into how sweeping Trump believes his emergency powers are.
They have asked to see this administration’s Presidential Emergency Action Documents, or PEADs. The little-known, classified documents are essentially planning papers..
The documents don’t give a president authority beyond what’s in the Constitution. But they outline what powers a president believes that the Constitution gives him to deal with national emergencies. The senators think the documents would provide them a window into how this White House interprets presidential emergency powers.
For two months, President Trump repeatedly pitched hydroxychloroquine as a safe and effective treatment for coronavirus, asking would-be patients “What the hell do you have to lose?”
Growing evidence shows that, for many, the answer is their lives.
Clinical trials, academic research and scientific analysis indicate that the danger of the Trump-backed drug is a significantly increased risk of death for certain patients. Evidence showing the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating covid-19 has been scant. Those two developments pushed the Food and Drug Administration to warn against the use of hydroxychloroquine outside of a hospital setting last month, just weeks after it approved an emergency use authorization for the drug.
WASHINGTON — In a final act before stepping down as chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has asked the Trump administration to quickly declassify the last portion of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan report on Russian election interference, a 1,000-page volume on the committee’s “counterintelligence findings.”
In a joint announcement with ranking Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia, Burr noted that President Donald Trump’s nominee to be director of national intelligence, Rep. John Ratcliffe R-Tex., “affirmed his commitment as DNI to an expeditious review of the committee’s report” during his May 5 confirmation hearing. Ratcliffe is expected to be confirmed.
The executive branch gets to decide what is and isn’t classified, and some Democrats immediately expressed skepticism that the Senate volume report would be made public before November.
But Burr and Warner appear to have hedged their bets. In the statement, they said they prepared what they have deemed to be an unclassified version of the report, which, in theory, they could release on the Senate floor whether or not the DNI agrees.