In a week where we saw Team Trump talked pardons, Jeff Sessions in jeopardy and Spicey out, it was easy to miss the other political horrors that happened.
We urgently need your help. DAME reports the stories that need to be told, from perspectives that aren’t heard enough. In times of crisis it is even more critical that these voices are not overlooked, but COVID-19 has impacted our ability to keep publishing. Please support our mission by joining today to help us keep reporting.
This week marked the 6-month anniversary of the ascendancy of Trump to the presidency, and holy hell what a week. Trump spent quality Twitter time pretending that he cares about products that are made in America, even as every publication on earth pointed out that neither Trump nor his daughter Ivanka’s products are made anywhere near America. He also got a little poetic about his efforts to kill Obamacare, saying “the Dems scream death as OCare dies!” (Oh, and by the way, he is helping that death along by taking money earmarked for Obamacare and using it instead for a PR effort against it.) He also tried, in vain, to deflect the New York Times’ story that he and Putin had an intimate hour-long tête-à-tête at the G-20 dinner, mere hours after their two-hour-plus meeting earlier in the day.
None of this really matters, however, because all of Friday was taken up by the entirety of the nation obsessively wondering whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions was getting ratfucked by the intelligence community or by his own boss. News leaked that intelligence intercepts show Sessions chatted with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about campaign matters, including policy matters important to Russia, during the 2016 election.
Why is this such a bombshell? Well, first because Sessions is a serial liar. You will recall, of course, that Sessions first lied under oath when he swore up and down during his January confirmation hearing that he’d never talked to any Russians during the campaign. By March, we knew that wasn’t true, and that he’d talked to Kislyak at least twice. Then he went in front of Congress and lied again, declaring in his best cornpone voice that he did not have any meetings with any Russian officials and if he did they were certainly not about collusion nosiree.
This leak is also a bombshell because Trump went after Sessions hard in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, furious that Sessions had to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia probe because of, well, lying about Russia himself. Trump even said he wouldn’t have hired him had he known he would recuse himself. Basically, it was simultaneously a vote of no confidence in Sessions and alarming evidence that Trump believes that the only purpose of an Attorney General is to serve Trump’s interests. Anyone with any honor would have stepped down, but Sessions is not a man of honor, so he said he’d stick around, thank you very much.
And then, a finely-timed and incredibly damning leak: not only did he forget about talking to the Russians, he forgot what he talked to them about, and what he did talk to them about is highly problematic, to say the least. Indeed, it might be so bad that Sessions might need to be fired. This would mean a new Attorney General who isn’t recused from the Russia probe and can go right ahead and fire special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who appears to be getting a little too close for Trump’s comfort. There’s a credible claim to be made that Trump himself orchestrated this last round of leaks to get Sessions gone.
So that’s where we are right now: wondering if Trump is behind the newest leaks and waiting to see if Trump is going to fire Jeff Sessions over Sessions recusing himself, a thing which may be one of the only vaguely honorable things Sessions has ever done.
Sessions probably really wants to stick around so he can enact his insanely draconian asset forfeiture rules, where the police could confiscate your stuff even if you’re not actually charged with a crime. We’d root for Sessions to get gone, but you can guarantee that anyone that replaces him probably thinks the same way.
But, of course, that’s not all that happened this week. It’s not even close.
Trump continues to nominate the absolutely most terrible people to his agencies. Andrew Wheeler, who is an actual factual coal lobbyist, has been tapped by Trump to be the number 2 person at the EPA. Given that the EPA is run by climate-denier and coal lover Scott Pruitt, this nomination is certainly on brand, but still terrible.
The guy Trump would like to run the Treasury Department’s tax policy division was head of Ernst and Young’s national tax practice while E&Y sold breathtakingly illegal tax shelters, so you know he has a real respect for the law.
Over at the USDA, Trump has picked Sam Clovis to be the undersecretary of research, education, and economics. At the USDA, that’s a top science position, and it is usually staffed by, you know, a scientist. Clovis isn’t a scientist, however. He’s a talk radio host and a climate denier, the latter of which must be some sort of prerequisite for employment in the Trump administration.
It appears that Trump doesn’t find nominating people who are anathema to the very goals of the agencies they will lead a fast enough way of wrecking America, so he’s also been working on shuttering key agency programs. Over at the Department of Energy, the agency is offering buyouts to 35 senior positions in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. That office is already slated for deep cuts, and robbing it of its most senior employees is a surefire way to undercut its efficacy.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a person with no background whatsoever in diplomacy, has decided it would be a great idea to deep-six the portion of the State Department that deals with bringing war criminals to justice, not to mention rumors swirling that the cyber security office in the State Department may be closed. Meanwhile, over at the Office of Management and Budget, they’re explaining how they’re going to gut tons of regulations that protect people and the environment. It’s like the entire administration is designed to wipe out everything decent that American might do.
It’s not just the administration doing this. The House GOP is working hard to defund the Election Assistance Committee, which is the only federal entity tasked with ensuring voting is secure. Meanwhile, Trump told his sham voter fraud panel that they have to find him something, anything, to justify his astonishing claim of millions voting illegally.
To add a bit of insult to all this injury, you, the American taxpayer, will now have the privilege of paying millions for the Secret Service to protect Trump at yet another one of his golf courses. Trump has indicated he might vacation for 17 straight days at his Bedminster New Jersey golf course, while telling Congress they can’t go home until they get a healthcare deal done.
Grifting runs in the family, of course, so it is no surprise that Ivanka continues to make millions from her ridiculous clothing line even as she play-acts at being a senior adviser. And her husband Jared managed to forget to disclose 100 million dollars in assets and has had to revise his financial disclosure forms 39 times. Who among us has not forgotten to talk about a mere ten figures worth of money?
More next week, of course, because this will never end.
We urgently need your help!
Covid-19 has dramatically impacted our ability to keep publishing. DAME is 100% reader funded and without additional support, we can’t keep publishing. Become a member at DAME today to help us continue reporting and shining a light on the stories that need to be told, from perspectives that aren’t heard enough. Every dollar we receive from readers goes directly into funding our journalism. Please become a member today!
(And if you liked this article and just want to leave us tip of as little as $1.00 or make a one-time donation, you can do that here)
AN INDEPENDENT FREE PRESS HAS
NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT.
Your financial support helps us continue to cover the policies, social issues, and cultural trends that matter, bringing the diversity of thought so needed in these times.