Fair and Unbalanced

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Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: We apparently just missed out on a Saturday Night Massacre, but wait till next week

Littwin: We apparently just missed out on a Saturday Night Massacre, but wait till next week

Remember the government shutdown? It ended on, like, Monday.

No?

Don’t feel bad. Nobody does. It’s Friday as I write this, and a week in TrumpWorld is basically like six months in the real world, or that’s what I’m guessing. Like many of you, I hold almost no memory of that real world.

But I know that reopening the barely-noticed shut-down government was maybe the least interesting thing that happened this week, just another day when political forces in Washington briefly collided only to give way to more pressing entries in our Trumpian dysfunction-of-the-week rankings. (The Wynn, Clinton, Nassar stories? We’ll have to find a new category.)

I particularly enjoyed the two-day Fox News/Trey Gowdy/Ron Johnson/Donald Trump interlude in which a harmless text between two FBI agents, who turn out to be lovers, about a so-called secret meeting was heralded as the smoking gun in proving there was an anti-Trump cabal within the FBI.

Johnson, who happens to be chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and is therefore semi-important, took the secret-meeting text and somehow inferred from it that there was “corruption at the highest levels off the FBI,” that “the secret society (was) holding meetings off-site” and “there’s so much smoke here, there’s so much suspicions.”

All of which he shared on Fox News — until, well, the entire text, which was sent the day after the 2016 election, was revealed. It went like this: “Are you even going to put out the calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should be the first meeting of the secret society.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported the calendars — with beefcake photos of Vladimir Putin — were gag gifts. Presumably secret gag gifts. And Johnson would have to admit that maybe it was really just all a joke and that he might be an idiot. (He didn’t actually say the idiot part, but it’s understood).

Then, of course, came the Thurday bombshell from the Trump administration of a take-it-or-leave-it Dreamer/border wall/immigration compromise, which was actually an attempted hostage taking, in which Trump set up a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers in return for $25 billion for a border wall that Mexico isn’t paying for and regulations that would crack down on non-Dreamer illegal immigrants and severely cut the number of legal immigrants who could enter the country. This was taken, briefly, as a serious offer until people actually read it, after which the Senate has basically ignored it.

Then Trump went off to Davos and the New York Times dropped a real bombshell. This one is real news, not the fake kind of secret-society news. It’s so big that, even in TrumpWorld time, its half-life should survive the weekend, or at least as long Robert Mueller survives.

This was, of course, The Saturday Night Masscre That Wasn’t, in which Trump, back in June, was ready to fire special counsel Robert Mueller on the grounds that he was, well, Robert Mueller and was in charge of the Russia probe and who, according to Trump, would be prejudiced against him because Mueller once quit one of Trump’s golf clubs, presumably in a dispute over fees. It won’t surprise you to know that Mueller says that didn’t actually happen.

As you know by now, Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn is the hero of the story. He refused to do the deed (which, of course, would be complicated because Trump can’t actually fire Mueller, but can fire those people in the Justice Department who would refuse to fire him) and Trump backed down.

And for the next some months Trump and his advisers would routinely lie about never having considering firing Mueller because, well, lying is what they do.

There are many reasons why this is such a big story. One, it recalls Nixon, whose actions represent the baseline for presidents who don’t survive scandal and who did, in fact, fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Two, it looks like Mueller’s probe has moved to its obstruction-of-justice phase and the Trump’s readiness to fire Mueller fits in neatly with his firing of Jim Comey, which followed Comey’s refusal to ease up on Mike Flynn, and his near-firing of Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe and, of course, Trump’s help in drafting Don Jr.’s false explanation for the Russia-Clinton dirt-digging expedition, and, just guessing, and about a few dozen other things. As Trump said the other day, they’re talking about “fighting back” as obstruction. Yeah, they are.

But, third, and this may be the most important, somebody leaked this story to the Times more than six months after it happened. Why? And why now? The easy guess, which has a much better chance of being right than Ron Johnson’s FBI secret-meeting conspiracy theory, is that Trump could be on the verge of firing Mueller again, particularly since Mueller has asked to interview Trump and Trump said he’s ready to do the interview under oath, which has caused his lawyers to hyperventilate. Putting out the story would be one way of showing just how badly firing Mueller would play.

People talk about a special counsel interview being a perjury trap — see: Clinton, Bill — but the truth is that Trump doesn’t need a trap to lie. An interview would, of course, be a disaster for him. And since he’s basically agreed to do one, firing Mueller would be one way around it. Of course, firing Mueller, as McGahn had warned Trump earlier, might be an even bigger disaster, and one that would force some Republicans to actually take a stand on the ongoing Trump insanity.

If you want a preview, the Denver Post’s John Frank briefly interviewed Cory Gardner Friday about the Trump-Mueller story and then tweeted out the results. Gardner’s thoughts on Trump’s order to fire Mueller: “I’ve certainly said I oppose any firing — but he didn’t and that was the right outcome.” Pressed to comment on the fact that Trump attempted to fire Mueller: “The fact that he tried that — I certainly wouldn’t have supported and didn’t support.”

If Gardner seemed disinclined to go much further, that’s because the only place to go — and the obvious answer — would be that this is an outrage and Congress must immediately pass a law preventing presidents from peremptorily firing special counsels/prosectutors, etc. I don’t see that happening either. But, hey, maybe next week.

 

Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland via Flickr: Creative Commons

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

15 Comments

  1. Jay on said:

    How far have Republicans fallen when they can’t be held to the same standards of moral conduct that existed amongst their ranks during the dark days of Watergate? How far will the complicity extend?

  2. Don Lopez on said:

    Elections have consequences.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “(Mr. Trump) won’t be president. He was sliding in the polls before the video, and the video now means that he has no way to climb back. Which independent voter, which suburban woman, which Main Street Republican on the fence is going to vote for Trump now?” – Mike Lit twin

    Magical thinking: The belief that one’s own thoughts, wishes, or desires can influence the external world. It is common in very young children. – Radiotherapy

    #droptheMike

    }{

    What a difference four days make!

    Here’s how Mr. Littwin described the Democrat-inspired, short-lived, ill-advised, half-baked recent government shutdown in his January 22nd column: ”As political tactics go, the shutdown was a fiasco. As a message to the growing anti-Trump resistance, the cave-in was a disaster. “

    But he didn’t stop there: “The Democrats caved in a major way. They got nothing of significance in return for abandoning the shutdown. If they were going to fold after a long weekend, they should never have voted to shut down the government in the first place.”

    But wait, it gets even better: Mr. Littwin then criticizes Senator Schumer for initiating a government shutdown Mr. Littwin supported, “I say that as someone who thought Democrats had to shut down to prove that they were willing to fight.”

    You can’t make this stuff up!

    Apparently unnerved by the extent of his new found candor, ninety-six hours later Mr. Littwin didn’t just walk back his “shutdown was a fiasco” conclusion he sprinted backwards hoping no one would notice his latest, um, change of direction: “Remember the government shutdown? It ended on, like, Monday. No? Don’t feel bad. Nobody does.” or this “But I know that reopening the barely-noticed shut-down government was maybe the least interesting thing that happened this week”

    But you can’t really blame Mr. Littwin for his latest (but certainly not his last) flip-flop. When he re-read his January 22nd column it must have seemed like an out-of-body experience. To most readers being honest and unbiased—-as Mr. Littwin (incredibly) was in that column—-seem like admirable qualities but to Mr. Littwin, however, those qualities have a ninety-six hour expiration date.

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Flags of Valor
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

  3. C. Steeples on said:

    I disagree: the Democrats maneuver was not designed to shut down the federal government, it was a successful attempt to fund/rescue CHIPS. The Republicans kept 9 milion children hanging for 100+ days after CHIPS expired; it used to be a popular bipartisan program that saves healthcare costs- but the Republicans hate any social service program, like food stamps, and want to end them all. Now the Democrats need to rescue community health clinics that serve veterans as well as the poor, and the DREAMERS- if the GOP truly supported the military, community health clinics would have been funded months ago.

    For a good explanation on how Congress, especially the Senate, works- watch Lawrence O’Donnell’s interview with Joy Reid on MSNBC. All a minority party can do is say no, and the shutdown “no” saved CHIPS.

    I assume Don Lopez is a Republican: the party that values power over principle, party over country- and protects a grifter who lines his/family’s pockets with tax dollars and foreign payments, in order to continue moving money to corporations and the elite.

  4. Jay on said:

    Poor Don.

    A psychologist would tell you that the inability to acknowledge facts contrary to one’s carefully manufactured alternate reality is a sign of mental illness and evidence of intellectual deficits.

    Trump lost the vote by millions of ballots…and therefore he has no mandate.

    At all.

    Any pipe dreams to the contrary are just that.

    An officer in our armed forces would tell you that sedition is punishable by execution, imprisonment or dishonorable discharge. I guess we know that at the very least, your behavior and beliefs make you unfit for service to our country. That’s certainly not a point of pride for you or your ilk. I’m ashamed for you.

    Sedition: incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority (Mueller)

    While we’re at it…it’s time to call the far right comrades what they really are at this point.

    Traitor: one who betrays another’s trust or is FALSE to an obligation or duty; a person who betrays a friend, country, principle, etc.

    And you folks wonder why the vast majority of Americans don’t support you or your president*

    *Mueller is going to add the asterisk…and all the willful ignorance in the world ain’t gonna change that so you better come to terms with it…cause reality, like science, is true whether you have the intellectual honesty to believe it or not…and in your case…you’re obviously struggling with that part of being an adult.

    I know there’s a lot of whining about this stuff on the far right…but the beatings will continue until you get it.

  5. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. Jay,

    “A psychologist would tell you that the inability to acknowledge facts contrary to one’s carefully manufactured alternate reality is a sign of mental illness and evidence of intellectual deficits.”

    I couldn’t have said it better. The question is do you read what you write?

    Apparently, in your “manufactured alternate reality” the popular vote somehow matters. When determining the winner of a presidential election it doesn’t.

    At all.

    If you’re suggesting President Trump is a traitor who is guilty of sedition, well, your “carefully manufactured alternate reality is a sign of mental illness and evidence of intellectual deficits.”

    And as to your suggestion that I am “unfit for service to our country”, you should be very careful about making incendiary statements about those you know nothing of. Very, very careful.

    I served honorably. Did you?

    Finally, after reading your comment I understand your attraction to Mr. Littwin.

    #droptheMike

  6. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. Steeples,

    I assume you’re a Democrat who supported a presidential candidate who was so historically weak she was unable to defeat a candidate you described asI assume Don Lopez is a Republican: the party that values power over principle, party over country- and protects a “grifter who lines his/family’s pockets with tax dollars and foreign payments, in order to continue moving money to corporations and the elite.”

    #droptheMike

  7. Don Lopez on said:

    Let me try this again.

    Mr. Steeples,

    I assume you’re a Democrat who supported a presidential candidate who was so historically weak she was unable to defeat a candidate you described as “a “grifter who lines his/family’s pockets with tax dollars and foreign payments, in order to continue moving money to corporations and the elite.”

    #droptheMike

  8. Jay on said:

    Comrade Don, popular votes matter, particularly when you can muster the intellectual honesty to acknowledge that mandates are built on them…which is why Trump was a lame duck president from day one. That and the help he got from our enemy.

    Civics 101.

    To that end, you may want to lay off the Rush and Comrade Caplis…garbage in garbage out…a phenomenon obviously hindering your ability to keep up…and for some reason one which has you erroneously convinced that you hold the same views as the lion’s share of our populace.

    You don’t. You are in the minority.

    Period.

    Finally, maybe you misunderstood my point about your complicit support for the machinations of foreign agents. Your former CO (if you’re not guilty of stolen valor) would remind you that your stance means you’ve forgotten your oath, troop.

    You and your ilk, by definition, are traitors, seditionists, and according to your own beliefs, unworthy of the colors. You can support Comrade Chump and by association, Russia, or you can support the United States of America.

    You can’t do both.

    And because you’ve chosen poorly, I’m ashamed for you. There may be a time, after Mueller is finished with the traitors in our midst, when you gain the self-awareness to feel the same way.

    My guess is that you’ll continue to express some form of the aforementioned mental illness by instead refusing to abandon the childish willful ignorance currently afflicting so many on the far right extremes of our political spectrum. Still plenty of Nixon fans around to prove that point.

    If these realities disturb you (as they obviously do) maybe you’d feel more comfortable living in Russia…considering where your allegiances lie.

    Don’t feel too bad though…because you aren’t the only one out here making a fool of yourself and forsaking the tenants upon which our republic and our armed forces were built….the Republican ranks are filled with folks suffering from the same Fox-fueled delusions.

    With that said, it’s not too late. A good place to start getting back to a place of honor and respect, is to realize that facts are your friends. Get to know them. Turn off Fox.

  9. Jay on said:

    And again…you should be ashamed of your complicity to sedition regardless of whether or not those calling you out on said traitorous behavior served in the military or, as is apparently the case here, received an education superior to your own.

    Since you’re unable to refute my points, can I take it you’ve learned a lesson?

    The beatings will continue until the intellectual honesty surfaces….

    And since that pesky willful ignorance is still hindering your ability to keep up…let me remind you why you lost your honor.

    Article 94 UCMJ:
    “A person who is found guilty of attempted mutiny, mutiny, sedition, or failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.”

  10. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. Jay,

    Wow, you are out there!

    Your unwillingness to answer whether or not you served says it all.

    You and Mr. Littwin have so much in common.

  11. Jay on said:

    Nice try, but changing the subject ain’t going to help you save face here today, Donny.

    You can support Comrade Chump/Russia, or you can honor your service and support the U.S.A., but you can’t do both…and all the whining in the world ain’t going to change that.

    You’re clearly out of your depth, son.

    And that, for the record, is what an intellectual azz kicking looks like, kids.

  12. Mike Littwin on said:

    I am so glad to see you back, Mr. Lopez. Thought you might have injured yourself on a cut-and-paste expedition. As for serving, no, my dad was dying in a VA hospital as I received a deferment after college. Remind me, did Trump serve? Pence? Ryan? I remember McConnell got into the reserves in ‘67 and got out in 6 months for optic neuritis, which certainly beats bone spurs. Anyway, good to see you back. Btw, thanks for informing us of the teacher who dissed those who served. Wonder what they’d have done to him if he’d criticized POWs for being captured.

  13. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. Littwin,

    Thanks for welcoming me back. My absence was caused by something far, far more serious than cutting-and-pasting.

    I’m sorry to hear about your father’s passing, he was one of America’s greatest generation. But after re-reading my above comments I don’t see where I asked whether you or your father served. I did ask Jay if he served—-a request he declined to answer—-but I did not ask whether you did because I already knew you didn’t and that was no surprise.

    It was my pleasure to inform you about the teacher who dissed the military although I do think calling those who serve the “lowest of the low” should be characterized as something more than “dissing”. You’re a busy guy so I assumed you simply missed that story. By the way, do you agree with his assessment of those who serve in our military?

    And to answer your question as to what they would have done had he criticized POWs for being captured they probably would have considered him presidential material, if he was a Democrat.

    Two more things:

    – your column has become exponentially more entertaining since President Trump took office

    – when will you end your juvenile refusal to refer to Donald Trump as President Trump?

  14. Mike Littwin on said:

    Mr Lopez, I’m glad to see you back in any case. Since you’re a close reader of my column, I assume you would have noticed if I had ever criticized anyone for having served. As for President Trump, I think if you look back you’ll see that, with a few exceptions, I didn’t call Obama President Obama or Bush President Bush or Clinton President Clinton.

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