Littwin: The White House may be in crisis, but at least we know Congress has our backs

In case you missed it, everything just got worse. Much worse.

In the latest round of stories fresh from the Times v. Post blockbuster exchange, The New York Times is reporting that Trump is looking for dirt on special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigative team while The Washington Post is reporting that Trump’s lawyers are looking for ways to undercut Mueller’s investigation while also studying the issue of pardons for Trump’s team, Trump’s family and possibly even Trump himself.

In other words, Trump is looking to stop Mueller’s investigation at all costs, up to and including firing him, and, failing that, Trump wants to know how or if the presidential get-out-of-jail-free card works.

Let me see if I can put it even more plainly: If you trust the reporting of the best that #fakenews America has to offer, or even if you can’t bring yourself to go that far, you simply trust Trump’s own rambling, slam-the-entire-Justice-Department interview with The Times, we may be on the verge of a constitutional crisis. I’m a bigly believer in the innocent-until-proven-guilty concept, but it’s fair to ask who looks into pardoning himself if he has done nothing wrong?

After all, not even Nixon tried to pardon himself. But Nixon once did say this, which I assume is now the working model for the Trump administration: “When the president does it, it’s not illegal.” Trump has already used several variations on that theme. Sadly, Sean Spicer will no longer be at the White House to say it for him, but a new director of communications has already appointed Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who will gladly take her turn.

What we know is that we shouldn’t be surprised by whatever Trump tries to do now, unless, that is, you think Congress is finally ready to stand up to Trump in anything resembling a meaningful way.

As Chuck Todd and the gang at NBC’s First Read wrote, it’s time for every Republican member of Congress to have to answer the question: What would you do if Trump does fire Mueller and/or hands out pardons to members of his family? If Republicans want to contain Trump — it would take only three in the Senate — they should lay out the consequences for him. I’m sure Cory Gardner understands that. I’m sure, even now, he’s tweeting his typical hot take, probably a pronouncement on either how terrible North Korea is or how beautiful Colorado is.

This might-be crisis was apparently set off by the news that Mueller’s Russia probe is looking into Trump’s past business dealings, including any involving Russia, and that he would probably want to look at several years’ worth of Trump tax returns. You may ask: What could Trump possibly be hiding? Trump is asking: What the hell are they trying to do to me?

It’s hard to know where to begin this chapter of the long-running disaster story — my God, has it been really only six months? —but we might as well start with the Don Jr. email dump, which followed a series of New York Times articles about his undisclosed meeting with the “Russian government lawyer” (who it now turns out, via Reuters, was also a lawyer for Russia’s largest spy agency).

The Times stories on the meeting, over three days, were accompanied by the ever-changing Don Jr. explanations  — the first of which, a large lie by omission, was reportedly approved by Trump the elder — and the ever-changing and ever-more-murky list of characters for the meeting in which Don Jr. brought along then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and then-and-now Trump consigliere, son-in-law Jared Kushner.

But it was when The Times informed Don Jr. that it had the emails and was prepared to release them that the younger Trump released the entire chain, which provided clearly-worded proof, for any who wanted to see, that those in the Trump White House were meeting with Russian representatives in order to find dirt on Hillary Clinton.

You can draw a straight line from there to Trump’s explosive 50-minute interview with the failing New York Times. The interview apparently began as an off-the-record session with three of the Times’ White House reporters and turned into, well, it’s hard to describe what it turned into. Anyone who cares about the state of America and the presidency should read it for him/herself.

For a few moments, some of us got hung up on Trump’s wide array of false claims (his Poland speech was called by critics the best speech a president ever made on foreign soil) and miscues (while in France, he got his Napoleons mixed up, and I don’t mean the pastries) and his astonishing ignorance of healthcare (he thinks a 21-year-old can buy healthcare coverage for $12 a year, apparently confusing cheap health insurance with cheap life insurance).

But the real story was obviously his attacks on old friend and AG Jeff Sessions for doing the right thing and recusing himself from the Russia probe, on former-Russia-probe-leader and FBI chief Jim Comey as a liar, on Mueller for doing his job by leading the Russia probe, on Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, for being from Baltimore (he’s actually from Philly and lives in Bethesda, Md., but that’s another story).

White House aides were stunned by the interview. Trump hadn’t told them he was doing it, just as he hadn’t told anyone he would have a second, undisclosed, no-American-translator-on-hand meeting with Vladimir Putin. They couldn’t be stunned by the latest leaks, though, which must have come from White House aides or from Trump lawyers.

Anyone confused as to why Trump chose to slam Sessions on the day he was supposed to be trying to rescue Trumpcare — I admit I was one of them — must now understand. Millions of vulnerable Americans losing their health coverage is one thing. The possibility of Trump losing the ability keep his tax returns hidden is quite another.

Photo by Ryan J. Reilly e via Flickr: Creative Commons


  1. 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 Littwin

    “And while I’m generally anti-filibuster, I make one exception for any and all years in which Donald Trump is president.” – Mike Littwin


    Mr. Littwin has had very little good news since last November so you can’t really blame him for going a little overboard when Republican’s failed to repeal and replace Obamacare. Or can you?

    Mr. Littwin’s suggestion that “Seven years into the (healthcare) debate, this is one of the great political humiliations of our time” is just the other side of ridiculous. How quickly some forget! Donald J. Trump’s November 08, 2016 presidential victory over the prohibitive favorite Hillary R. Clinton was not only the greatest upset in American political history it was the biggest Democrat presidential humiliation of our or any time.

    Keep in mind that prior to November 8th President Trump had

    – never held an elected office

    – historically high unfavorable ratings

    – been called the loser of all three presidential debates by every pundit in the universe.

    – been characterized by Mr. Littwin as “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a bigot, a sexist, an authoritarian, a boor, a crypto-fascist and the least-prepared person ever to be nominated by a major party.”

    – been—-according to some on the left—-riding around in a clown car.

    Despite all that he managed to defeat Mrs. Clinton who had been:

    – First Lady

    – a US Senator

    – Secretary of State

    – backed by the vaunted Clinton political machine

    But Mr. Littwin’s July 18th column demonstrates and confirms that his only interest in healthcare or any other issue is determined by whether that issue can be used as a tool—-usually a hammer—-to attack Republicans. Here is how Mr. Littwin describes Obamacare:

    “there is no plan that offers better coverage for less money. There is no plan that can pass muster with voters if it robs hundreds of billions from Medicaid and deposits that money into the hands of the most wealthy. There is no acceptable plan that doesn’t insure as many people as possible or cover pre-existing conditions or allows junk insurance policies to set lifetime caps”

    If that’s true then the biggest winners in the Republican’s failure to repeal and replace Obamacare are those currently covered by Obamacare. Yet Mr. Littwin devoted only one (o-n-e) sentence to those Americans and that one (o-n-e) sentence ends the column meaning that most people didn’t even know it was there. The other 99 percent of the column was devoted to hammering Republicans which is the central purpose behind all Mr. Littwin’s columns. Look, if Mr. Littwin wants to hammer Republicans for failing to repeal and replace Obamacare, well, hammer away but let’s not pretend like he actually cares about healthcare. When Mr. Littwin goes cynical he leans in.

    And while the Republican’s failure was good news for Mr. Littwin, he has yet to reconcile the Democrat’s catastrophic loss on November 8th. He still claims not to know how or why President Trump was elected and even today refuses to discuss it not because he doesn’t have a theory but because he hasn’t yet found a way to blame it on Senator Gardner who, by the way, Mr. Littwin criticizes only when he says something or when he says nothing. It’s really not that difficult to explain Mrs. Clinton’s loss: She was probably the worst presidential candidate Democrats have ever nominated. So bad that she got 3 million more votes than President Trump and still couldn’t figure out a way to win. Was she unaware of the Electoral College?

    When it comes to predictions/observations/wild guesses (pick one) Mr. Littwin was 0-for-2016. Of course that hasn’t stopped him from making more silly predictions/observations/wild guesses (pick another one) because shame—-much like fame—-has eluded him.

    Frustration, however, hasn’t and immediately after the election Mr. Littwin entered his “The sky is falling!” phase, followed by his “The Russians are coming!” phase, which in turn gave way to his current “My hair is on fire!!” phase. And, by the way, it must still be burning since Mr. Littwin now claims “In case you missed it, everything just got worse. Much worse.”

    This must be what he was referring to:

    – President Trump will not be impeached. Mr. Littwin understands that but can’t seem to bring himself to admit it publicly. While the press continues to screech about so-called scandals none seem to amount to anything. And while Mr. Littwin points to President Trump’s unfavorable ratings he refuses to acknowledge polls showing Democrats and the mainstream media unfavorable ratings are even lower plus there appears to be no cracks in support among President Trump’s base.

    – Democrats still have no message. When House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley was asked about his party’s core message to voters he replied, “That message is being worked on,” and in an interview this past week he said. “We’re doing everything we can to simplify it, but at the same time provide the meat behind it as well. So that’s coming together now.” Eight months after losing what many have called the biggest presidential election upset in the history of American politics and Democrats are still searching for a core message. You can’t make this stuff up.

    – And then, of course, there’s the fact that Democrats still lack a presidential candidate capable of defeating a sitting president. The leading candidate today may just be 74-year-old Senator Bernie Sanders a man who Mr. Littwin has variously described as (1) “not even a Democrat.” (2) “a benign summer fling” (3) a “socialist”. And for those still unsure about how Mr. Littwin feels about Senator Sanders presidential aspirations, he reminds his readers that, “History tells us that 74-year-old Jewish socialists are 0-for-forever in U.S electoral politics.” Mr. Littwin also said, “(Senator Sanders) may have proved he’s for real, but that doesn’t mean, however, that a 74-year-old democratic socialist is going to be elected president.

    Here’s what Mr. Littwin had to say about the rest of the Democrat’s 2016 presidential field:

    “Democrats don’t have enough legitimate presidential candidates to fill a Mini.
    Joe Biden is not just too old. He’s Joe Biden. Elizabeth Warren is not running, and, as appealing as she might be to liberals, she wouldn’t win if she did run. Bernie Sanders? At this point, he’s not even a Democrat. Martin O’Malley? Did you ask who Martin O’Malley was? Jim Webb? Really?”
    It would take a real scandal — one of giant proportions — to change that dynamic.

    Still more bad news for Mr. Littwin from the New York Times:

    “The Democratic Party is at risk of repeating the billion-dollar blunder that helped create its devastating losses of 2016. With its obsessive focus on wooing voters who supported Donald Trump, it is neglecting the cornerstone of its coalition and failing to take the steps necessary to win back the House of Representatives and state houses in 2018.
    In the 2016 election, the Democratic Party committees that support Senate and House candidates and allied progressive organizations spent more than $1.8 billion. The effectiveness of that staggering amount of money, however, was undermined by a strategic error: prioritizing the pursuit of wavering whites over investing in and inspiring African-American voters, who made up 24 percent of Barack Obama’s winning coalition in 2012.”

    November 08, 2016

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

    Green light a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

    Veterans Day – November 11, 2017

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