As the holidays passed with relative peace in Trumptown, it was thought the country might ease into the New Year leading up to the administration’s one year anniversary on Jan. 20. We all could have used a lengthy break from Trump drama, but it was not to be.
The Trumpster roared out of the gates in a foul mood, swinging at Democrats as negotiations were underway to cobble together a spending deal and find a solution to the 800,000 “Dreamers,” residing under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Turns out his anger was aimed at the impending publication of a new book by Michael Wolff, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
Early releases depicted a president not in control, and lacking the requisite mental capacity to comprehend even rudimentary policy issues. The Trump children were seen as traitorous or “dumb as a brick” according to sources from inside the White House. Steve Bannon, the president’s former senior strategist, was prominently featured, and certainly had his own agenda, but like many others around this administration felt compelled to let outsiders know just how dysfunctional and inept the Trump administration was in terms of doing its daily business.
The response was typical Trump. His people denied everything and attacked the author’s credibility. Attorneys for the president frivolously tried preventing the book’s publication, claiming it was all lies, but as news outlets sourced the information, and it became clear Wolff had voluminous recordings of his interviews, the stories checked out. Trump never expected to win, and when he did Trump was completely unprepared and without a level of staff capable of running a government.
The fallout from allegations inside “Fire and Fury” added gasoline to the ongoing Russia investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. There already was a White House preoccupation about the probe as the president continually referred to the inquiry as a “witch hunt.” But the reality was the information about potential money laundering and elements of obstruction were a credible motive for Trump’s wrongdoing.
To try and squelch the perception of Trump’s mental unfitness, a 55-minute public meeting was hosted by the president with key players on immigration reform from both parties present. Throughout it Trump showed he failed to grasp a definable understanding of the immigration issue and was easily swayed by whichever person spoke last. To that point Republican leaders had to correct the president in that he had agreed with Sen. Dianne Feinstein about a clean bill on DACA, which that was not the Republicans intent, making Trump look inept.
Sen. Feinstein went on to make bigger news that same day as she unilaterally released the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. Republicans were spinning hard to delay the release of this testimony due to its damaging contents. It showed U.S. intelligence and the FBI were previously looking at the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians, and it was not the controversial collection of information in the Trump dossier that was the genesis of the investigation as Republicans wanted to insinuate. It also exposed Trump’s business in sketchy Eastern European countries and with organized crime figures there.
All these incidences and concerted foot-dragging by Republicans only served to further the feel of Trump’s guilt and that a coverup was underway. As the administration’s first year anniversary neared and a government shutdown loomed, Trump reneged on two bipartisan DACA deals negotiated in good faith after being manipulated by White House staffer Stephen Miller. Afterward, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said working with Trump is like “negotiating with Jell-O.”
Trump then further poisoned negotiations by referring to majority African-American countries as “shithole” countries while in a bipartisan meeting on immigration. Trump vainly asserted he was no racist and then opted to not attend any Martin Luther King ceremonies to instead golf.
This earned the country a big fat government shutdown to celebrate Trump’s 1-year anniversary. Breaking at the same time was the revelation that Trump had an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, 38, and that she was paid $130,000 right before the election to keep quiet. The sexual encounter with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, took place in 2006 – mere months after Trump’s wife, Melania, gave birth to their son.
While the government reopened on Jan. 22, only a short-term fix was reached and all spending and immigration issues must be revisited by Feb. 8. It’s unclear how this will go as it’s obvious Trump doesn’t grasp the policies, and the White House inner-circle is filled with warring factions of moderates and hardliners who can’t agree on much.
As we learned this week Trump tried to fire Mueller in June to end the Russia investigation, but was stopped by White House attorney, Don McGahn, who threatened to resign over what was perceived as an impeachable offense.
I’ll give it to Trump, for a 71-year old man, taking a huge number of body blows, he’s still walking upright. But eventually those shots to the body will take his legs. It’s only January, but the feel is Trump can’t go the distance.