Pam's Points: Hang on, America; the Trumpster fire rages

Pam's Points: Hang on, America; the Trumpster fire rages

April 16th, 2018 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House last year. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

Photo by TOM BRENNER

Swamp water from a fire hose

Last week and over the weekend, we found ourselves drinking swamp water from a fire hose, again.

In the space of mere days, our dangerous president, Donald Trump, tweeted that he was about to bomb Syria. "Get ready Russia," he warned. Then he said he was not about to bomb Syria. Then he said he wouldn't talk about it.

A gnat has a greater attention span.

On Thursday Trump told the White House press corps there wasn't a timeline for NAFTA talks. But he also told them a deal is "getting pretty close." Then he said a renegotiated deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement (remember we pulled out last year) with Mexico and Canada is probably "weeks or months away." And he said he's willing to "renegotiate forever." Really, Mr. President, which is it?

Then there's the TPP — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — another trade deal Trump dissed and pulled out of almost as soon as he was president, calling it a "rape of our country." But on Thursday, he told a gathering of farm-state lawmakers and governors that the United States was looking into rejoining the deal. A few hours later, however, he tweeted that he would consider re-entering the agreement only if it were "substantially better" than the deal offered to President Barack Obama.

Looking at the flip-flops, Bloomberg News says "Fast-talking Trump" has been "talking himself out of jams for years," but the tactic isn't working so well now in his public government life. "In his second year as U.S. president, the [jams] he's talked himself into are mounting."

Time will tell. Especially as our president's inclination to pop off runs up against special counsel Robert Muller's investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

"The president's denials about payoffs to purported mistresses, for instance, may have increased his lawyer Michael Cohen's legal exposure before an FBI raid this week that's tied to that investigation," Bloomberg notes. "And his repeated attacks on 'leakin' James Comey' did little to silence the ousted FBI director, who's about to release a tell-all book comparing the president to a mob boss."

 

Comey's book fans the fire

Fired FBI Director Jim Comey's book, "A Higher Loyalty," already is widely circulating among the media, though it isn't set for public release until Tuesday.

Comey's reported descriptions of Trump and of their conversations are sometimes interesting, sometimes petty. But the most damaging we've heard so far are these two sentences: "This President is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty."

Another telling segment is one in which Comey says his service to Trump recalled for him the days when he investigated the mob in New York: "The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth."

Trump reacted exactly as we might have predicted. He tweeted: "James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did — until he was, in fact, fired. He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH. He is a weak and ... untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI. His handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst 'botch jobs' of history. It was my great honor to fire James Comey!"

 

The smoldering Russia thing

Trump has said more than once that he fired Comey over "the Russia thing." Those comments added fuel to the fire that smoked up the special counsel's investigation into possible obstruction of justice by the president.

After an FBI raid one week ago on the home, office and hotel room of Trump's long-time personal lawyer, Mueller and Trump's legal team are presuming that Trump will not voluntarily agree to an interview with Mueller. The interview would have been the wrap-up piece in at least the obstruction probe. Now Mueller's team is moving forward to complete a confidential report to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia investigation, according to NBC. Rosenstein could decide whether to make the report public and send the findings to Congress. And from there, Congress would then decide whether to begin impeachment proceedings against the president, NBC reports.

But bring on the fire hose.

CNN reported last week that Trump was contemplating firing Rosenstein after the raid on Cohen's home, office and hotel room. Cohen is reportedly being looked at for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations. Repeat, campaign finance violations. (Trump just days earlier had referred press questions about hush money to a porn star and others from campaign funds back to Cohen.)

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that Elliott Broidy, a top fundraiser for Trump and the GOP, stepped down Friday from his Republican National Committee post after revelations that Cohen arranged a $1.6 million settlement with a former Playboy model that the donor had impregnated.

Also Friday, NBC reported that Rosenstein has been privately telling people he's prepared to be fired by President Trump. Rosenstein is the only person with the power to fire Mueller, which Trump is also reportedly considering.

Hang on, America.

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