Littwin: For a rocked and roiled nation, the new day seems an awful lot like the old one

It’s the day after, and the nation awoke to the new reality — that everything had changed and that nothing had changed.

The Justice Department’s special counsel to investigate Trump-Russia ties is now in place. Congressional committees are just warming up. The Trump White House was, if only briefly, shocked into near silence. But if it feels as if the Trump story is racing full throttle toward some kind of resolution — you know, Thelma and Louise style — don’t be fooled.

Donald Trump met the new day in the old style, by tweeting out the news that he was the victim of the greatest witch hunt in American history. You don’t need to pause to consider the accuracy of this ahistorical conclusion because, as we know, the president didn’t pause to consider anything when he pressed the button on his phone. It’s enough to consider that Trump remains unchastened, which is all we could have anticipated.

We are now at that famed Churchillian juncture. Not the beginning of the end but, perhaps, the end of the beginning. There are many, many battles yet to be fought. And the nature of those battles — including whether a dependably craven Congress will step up to do its part — will be played out over months and possibly years.

Remember, we’re not quite four months into the Trump presidency. I know it seems longer. It seems like forever. If there’s a lesson here, it may be that the more we yearn for a return to some kind of normalcy, the harder it can be to even remember what normal was like.

Naming a special counsel to investigate all things Trump and Russia should be a start. Naming Robert Mueller, well respected across the political spectrum, as the special counsel should be a start. The fact that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — still recovering from the misstep of his James Comey memo — named a special counsel without consulting the White House is a clear reminder of a time when democratic institutions still mattered. That is definitely a start.

But it’s only a start. Donald Trump is still Donald Trump, as he reminded us with the usual series of tweets. Why, Trump tweet-whined, didn’t Hillary Clinton get a special counsel (or councel, as Trump wrote it)? Why not Barack Obama? Why only him?

A better question is whether a special counsel is enough (Hint: it isn’t). The special counsel investigates illegality. It investigates in secret. It takes a lot of the action indoors, which is why you see so many Republican leaders embracing Mueller. For the moment, at least, it takes them somewhat off the hook. How can they comment, they’ll say, when there’s an active investigation ongoing? (Hint: They can.)

What is still required — and what remains most important — is a public accounting of Russian interference in the election, whether there was any collusion with the Trump campaign, what complicating financial ties Trump might have with Russians, how, in fact, Trump came to fire Comey and why Trump thought he could ask him to “let this go,” how, in fact, Michael Flynn came to be hired, why House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy jokes at a Republican meeting that Trump is on the Putin payroll. This is what we’re left depending on the Republican-controlled Congress to do. The strict legality here, after all, is far less important than the assault on American values.

But, whatever happens, it won’t be happen fast, even in our hyper-speed world. Here’s the thing to remember, as I wrote a few days ago: It was more than two years after the Watergate break-in that Richard Nixon resigned.  And another thing: Trump still has the power to fire Rosenstein and name a new Deputy AG, who could fire Mueller as special counsel. Impossible? Ask Archibald Cox.

At this point, you would have hoped, though, that Trump might have learned a lesson concerning abuse of power. But you know better. Trump doesn’t do lessons, as we’ll see as he heads off for his first overseas diplomatic mission. He’ll go with two major disadvantages: He’ll be, of course, ill-prepared for the wide array of meetings and at those meetings he’ll be in a weakened position to negotiate anything.

To understand where Trump sees his situation you have only to read the news reports that Trump is blaming his staff for his problems, as if it were a public relations problem that he passed secrets onto the Russians or that he tried to get Comey to stop his investigation before Trump fired him or that the ultra-careful Comey had detailed notes about the meetings or, well, where does it end. It doesn’t end, and that’s the main thing to consider.

We’re not at some stopping point. Trump will continue to be Trump. The past missteps will only help predict the next one. And the next Trump story — soon to broken in either The New York Times or The Washington Post — will no doubt be as shocking as the last.

The latest story, mostly missed with the special counsel announcement, was that the Trump transition team knew that Flynn was under investigation when Trump named him national security adviser, giving him full access to our nation’s secrets. Mike Pence, it should be noted, was head of that transition team. And so now we must ask, what did the vice-president know and when did he know it? And before we get an answer, if we ever do, there will be a dozen more questions to come.


Photo by Medill DC via Flickr: Creative Commons





  1. The NY Times story that the transition team was told Flynn was under investigation in January is only part of the questions that need to be posed to Pence. Flynn’s lawyer wrote the transition team in November–the letter was addressed to Pence–disclosing that Flynn was working for Turkey.

  2. Clown car avoids jail.

    “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

    Mike Littwin on anger in politics:
    “Anger rarely wins in American politics.” – July, 2016
    “It was the anger, of course, that got (President) Trump elected.” – April, 2017


    Two columns in one day! Two! Forty-eight hours later another column! Three columns in three days! That’s a record. You could look it up!

    What could possibly have gotten Mr. Littwin so lathered up? What else, the possibility that President Trump could be forced out of the White House. He got so excited he even mentioned the I-word then quickly walked that back: “The strict legality here, after all, is far less important than the assault on American values.” In other words, President Trump is not going to be impeached. Wishing can’t always make it so.

    But Mr. Littwin isn’t the only one walking things back. Afraid of an impeachment backlash Democrats are stepping away from the I-word. This from the New York Times:

    “When House Democratic leaders hastily called a news conference Wednesday to demonstrate their outrage at President Trump’s latest dramatics, they took great pains to show they were not seeking to railroad him out of the White House.

    “No one ought to, in my view, rush to embrace the most extraordinary remedy that involves the removal of the president from office,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the sober-minded senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. He warned that Democrats should not let their actions “be perceived as an effort to nullify the election by other means.””

    In other words, President Trump is not going to be impeached.

    Here’s how Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz characterized the obstruction of justice charge against President Trump:

    “On balance, the obstruction case against President Trump is not strong, as a matter of law. But impeachment is more a matter of politics than law. And the political reality is that Republicans control both houses of Congress. So impeachment is unlikely, at least at this point.”

    And while, at least for now, Mr. Littwin has stepped back from talk of impeachment his Trump Derangement Syndrome rating remains at DEFCON 1.

    “What does matter, and what I’m arguing, is that Trump’s presidency is a danger to the country and to the world and that to pretend otherwise is to be a part of that danger.“ – Mike Littwin February 02, 2017

    That statement crossed the line between hyperbole and hysteria and Mr. Littwin didn’t just tiptoe across that line he sprinted across it. It’s Trump Derangement Syndrome in its most virulent form.

    Consider this: When Mr. Littwin made that statement President Trump had been in office less than two weeks (that’s right, less than 14 days) and despite the, well, highly questionable nature of Mr. Littwin’s argument he offered no credible evidence (none, zero , zip, nada) to support it He has turned logic on its head by putting the cart before the horse, offering a conclusion before presenting any substantiating facts and, equally as bad, ignoring anything that might contradict his rather odd conclusion.

    It’s not surprising that Mr. Littwin, left with no other viable options, would choose the “if it doesn’t fit ignore it” approach but what is surprising is that the-only-bias-we-have-is-for-good-journalism Colorado Independent would allow it. Come to think of it that’s not so surprising, either.

    But Mr. Littwin’s hubris goes much deeper: He paints President Trump as a “danger to the country and the world” and also those who disagree with that rather loopy assessment. That takes arrogance to a new level!

    With allegations that President Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation against General Flynn, Mr. Littwin now believes “it’s getting serious” inadvertently suggesting that all of his previous anti-President Trump rantings weren’t.

    By the way, this is the same James Comey who Mr. Littwin accused of “misfeasance and malfeasance” and characterized as being extremely careless, blundering and his reputation as being forever ruined. when he warned Congress that there were more of Mrs. Clinton’s emails to investigate. That rich irony seems lost on Mr. Littwin.

    But this latest hyperventilating “this is just that serious”, “this is different” rant has to be taken in context. Mr. Littwin has consistently thrown stuff against the wall hoping something will stick and earn redemption for his “danger to the world “ silliness.

    Don’t hold your breath!

    November 08, 2016

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

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

    Memorial Day – May 29, 2017

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