Russia Monitor: Is There A Blanket Big Enough?

“We’ve got a problem: It’s in 2026,” Trump told his supporters. “And I said, well wait a minute, under the normal rules I’ll be out in 2024. So we may have to go for an extra term, OK?

— Trump at 9/9/19 Fayetteville, NC rally. 

By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (9/13/19)

Dear Fellow Readers,

“Only kidding”, Trump says about the quote above. Except he keeps saying it, having tweeted, posted to Instagram and repeated the ‘joke’ repeatedly over the last few days.

I recently had an acquaintance tell me I was being petty over some example of Trump corruption or lies. I don’t remember the specific example, but nor is the instance the issue, but not because it was petty. As an example, Trump still can’t let go of the hurricane Dorian trajectory to hit Alabama. Is commenting on this petty? Is it petty in light of this?

Trump pushed staff to deal with NOAA tweet that contradicted his inaccurate Alabama hurricane claim, officials say

I guess if this was an isolated instance of Trump corrupting government to his own ends it could be seen as petty. This of course would require relying on me as the individual’s sole source of news, so maybe ‘petty’ was a polite form of disagreement; sort of Midwestern nice.

“…This led chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to call Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to tell him to fix the issue, the officials said.

“Trump had complained for several days about it, according to senior officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

I used to think of the president and cabinet positions as demanding jobs, sort of a 7×24 ‘job is never done’ kind of commitment to make for a better world. Turns out it’s about free golf and pettiness.

It’s hard to connect the dots when it rains examples of Trump corruption daily — hourly —  but here’s a good shot at it.

Trump Has Figured Out How to Corrupt the Entire Government

This is a ‘throw a blanket over it, drag it out of the house and beat it with a baseball bat’ version of tying it all together. Author Jonathan Chait leaps from his own NOAA story to a report of Trump’s Department of Justice investigation of US automobile manufacturers who “agreed with California to raise emissions standards”. That’s poor framing (credit to Wall Street Journal) since US manufacturers had already committed to the higher standards, so it’s really an example of not rolling back what is likely already in their engineering and production plans. But you get the point.

Chait races through a handful of examples like Trump and Trump lawyer Giuliani announcing to Ukraine ‘open to business’ for campaign help or evangelicals rallying to stay at Trump hotels because, “why not?”. Remember, Trump-Ukraine would be a Federal Elections Commission violation had not Senate Leader ‘Moscow’ Mitch McConnell (R-KY) not rendered them incapable. But Chait’s race across examples attempts a hard landing here:

“…For generations, both parties generally upheld an assumption that the government would abide rules and norms dividing its proper functioning from the president’s personal and political interests.

“The norm of bureaucratic professionalism and fairness is a pillar of the political legitimacy and economic strength of the American system, the thing that separates countries like the U.S. from countries like Russia. The decay of that culture is difficult to quantify, but the signs are everywhere. Trump’s stench is slowly seeping into every corner of government.”

The notion of good governance now seems so … um … quaint.

But without any adults in the room and his own DoJ ready to fight any and every request for oversight and compliance, Trump gets free rein to paper over his own catastrophic failures.

As billions flow to farmers, Trump administration faces internal concerns over unprecedented bailout

BILLIONS and no GOP legislator is accusing Trump of Socialism. It’s almost like that label is only used by Russpublicans to discredit ideas other than their own.

“Senior government officials — including some in the White House — privately expressed concern that the Trump administration’s nearly $30 billion bailout for farmers needed stronger legal backing, according to multiple people who participated in the planning.”

$30 Billion that is more about Trump’s reelection than serious policy to fix what is coming undone for farmers because of Trump’s tariff policies. Farmers are in trouble; the Chinese market for soy might be closed to US farmers for years and this:

“China’s retaliatory actions helped force thousands of American farmers to or over the financial brink, leading the administration to start the bailout program. Net farm income has fallen by nearly half over the past five years, from $123 billion to $63 billion.”

Serious policy and Trump – two things that don’t go together. Petty you say? Okay, let’s take three examples.

#1 — Trump extends national emergency on foreign election interference

If we weren’t getting screwed right and left this would be funny. I mean it’s not exactly a serious initiative given:

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has blocked election security bills from reaching the Senate floor for a vote, accusing Democrats of attempting to pass “partisan legislation.””

Moscow Mitch is right there to make sure that Trump’s headlines don’t result in closing any election back doors to Russia or any other helping hand.

Ready for #2? Exclusive: US extracted top spy from inside Russia in 2017

There are handfuls of reports on the former Russian Kremlin officer with direct access to Putin that confirmed Russian influence in the 2016 election under orders from Putin.

But Trump can’t be trusted with farm policy, can’t be trusted with protecting elections – and can’t be trusted with classified intelligence.

“The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.”

Yep, Trump’s private Oval Office meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak — the one where they all got a big belly laugh over Trump’s comments about firing FBI Director Comey — Trump ‘outed’ the spy. The article also says “the whereabouts of the asset today are unknown to CNN”  but subsequent reporting show pictures of his house in Virginia, just outside DC. Anyone remember polonium? It would be petty for me to suggest that all the Russians that died after the 2106 election were cleaning up loose Russian ends.

Then, #3. Former NSA Advisor John Bolton Fired After Finally Being Right About Something

Bolton and Trump “got into a bitter argument”. I side with Bolton (never saw that coming), “over the president’s plan to host Taliban leaders at Camp David”. The week of the anniversary of 9-11.

This after Trump belly-flopped into the process in the 12th hour to take credit for what looked like an accord between the US and the Taliban – though without the participation of the Afghan government.

My point – everyone kept Trump out of the process to have a chance to accomplish something. The optics of Trump’s Camp David desire for a photo op was clueless and Bolton wasn’t fired, he offered his resignation.

Trump and his minions now want us to believe that Bolton was a inflexible hard-liner, an actual leftie, and Trump did the right thing to take a more diplomatic approach to foreign policy.

Farm policy, protecting US elections, handling of classified intelligence, failed foreign policy…

Imagine, all of this in just a few days while Trump wanders around his government photo-bombing any real attempts at beneficial policy; just a bumbling fool striving for attention and reelection.

And lastly, now this…

Congress is back, and an impeachment inquiry is here. Here’s what to expect.

The headline says enough. I don’t think I’m being petty if I admit liking the ‘throw a blanket over it, drag it outside…’ approach.