Several congressional Republicans had the right response to President Trump’s lie-laden tantrum about Robert Mueller yesterday.
Firing Mueller, Senator Lindsey Graham said, “would be the beginning of the end of his presidency.” Senator Jeff Flake called it “a massive red line.” Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, was weaker, letting his spokeswoman say, “Mr. Mueller and his team should be able to do their job” — but that’s still less deferential to Trump than Ryan normally is.
.. the firing of Andrew McCabe, the F.B.I. deputy director. “All this matters even more urgently when you consider the McCabe firing as a road-test for Trump’s method in an impending showdown with Robert Mueller,” Frum writes.
This was the week Donald Trump became president.
Or at least the week he became the president we were always expecting. He ceased bothering to pretend that he was ever going to do the job in any normal sense of the word. He decided to totally own the whole, entire joke that he is.
He started hiring people right off TV. He extended his tiny fingers into his giant flat screen, “Purple Rose of Cairo”-style, and dragged cable conservatives directly into the administration.
We’ve always known Trump makes stuff up. But now he has stopped bothering to pretend that he doesn’t. Truthful hyperbole is out. Outlandish fabrication is in. Trump began bragging to Republicans at a private fund-raiser in St. Louis Wednesday: Oh, get a load of this trade stuff I made up to outfox that fox, Justin Trudeau. I felt bad doing it to such a nice, good-looking guy. But it’s hilarious!
He is no longer bothering to pretend that governing involves a learning curve. Now he finds it’s clever to be a fabulist, concocting phony facts about the trade deficit when talking to the Canadian prime minister — one of our closest allies — or inventing a story for donors about how Japanese officials test American cars by dropping a bowling ball on their hoods from 20 feet up to see which ones dent.
.. Trump & Friends presented this dizzying White House purge as a twisted version of him growing into the job, even as everyone else felt he was going in the opposite direction
.. Trump got his next moment of gross exaltation when Jeff Sessions, frantically trying to save his own job, fired Andrew McCabe hours before he became eligible for his government pension and on his birthday weekend. John Brennan, the former director of the CIA, tweeted that Trump will take his “rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.” Then the president’s lawyer, John Dowd, issued a statement Saturday saying he will “pray” that Rod Rosenstein “will follow the brilliant and courageous example” of Sessions and end the Russia investigation entirely.
Trump is giddy about all the CHAOS — he capitalized it on Twitter — feeling that he’s ridding himself of any idiots who called him a moron or dumb as a rock and any economists who don’t understand what a great dealmaker he is... It’s the final Foxification of politics. Trump spends all his time watching Fox News, basing his opinions and tweets on it, and now he’s simply becoming one with it. He is even willing to overlook his distaste for the yeti mustache of the warmongering John Bolton and consider the Fox News analyst as a replacement for McMaster.
Roger Ailes would be so proud, if he were still alive and harassing women.
.. Trump thinks he’s a fabulously devious manager creating “great energy,” with great ratings coming from his talent for theatrical twists and turns. But he’s really inhumane, playing people against one another and widely discussing successors for officials who haven’t even been officially informed that they’re walking the plank. And, far from the A-team he promised, he’s hired a bunch of pathetic, disgusting swamp schnorrers who can’t stop using taxpayer money to fund their office furniture or office redesign or luxury plane trips with their wives.
“I like conflict,” Trump said this month at a press conference with the Swedish prime minister, smacking his fists together and adding, “I like watching it, I like seeing it, and I think it’s the best way to go.”
Never mind that a lot of the country — and the world — craves stability.
.. “I think Trump is royally pissed about the Mueller subpoena of the Trump Organization records,” Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio says about the special counsel crossing the president’s red line. “He fears the nakedness of his true business activities being revealed far more than the shame of ‘Access Hollywood’ or Stormy Daniels. Unlike the show of blank paper in file folders conducted when he supposedly stepped away from his businesses, this will require real documents, and I doubt he can count on people lying for him.”
Former FBI official Andrew McCabe memorialized his interactions with President Trump in contemporaneous memos, two people familiar with the case said, and they could become a key piece of evidence in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe.
.. The memos could help bolster McCabe’s credibility, insulating him from allegations that he misstated or misremembered his interactions with Trump. On Friday, McCabe was fired from the FBI, about 26 hours before he was set to retire
.. Trump, during an Oval Office meeting in May, had asked McCabe who he voted for in the 2016 election, then vented about hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations that McCabe’s wife had received.
.. Trump renewed some of those complaints on Saturday, writing in a tweet, “The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!”
.. Comey wrote on Twitter just minutes after the Trump’s tweet, “Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.”
.. Comey is set to release a book next month, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,”
.. McCabe told CNN in an interview in advance of his firing that Trump was focused on his wife’s campaign and alleged there were at least four times where Trump called it a “mistake” or “problem,” or branded his wife a “loser.” McCabe said he told the president he himself had not voted in the 2016 election.
.. The president would later say in a television interview that he was thinking of “this Russia thing with Trump” when he decided to remove Comey.
.. The move will likely cost McCabe significant retirement benefits, because he could not retire Sunday, when he turns 50.
President Trump’s lawyer called on the Justice Department to immediately shut down the special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, in the wake of the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Attorney John Dowd said in a statement that the investigation, now led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, was fatally flawed early on and “corrupted” by political bias. He called on Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees that probe, to shut it down.
“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd said in an emailed statement.
Dowd told The Washington Post on Saturday he was speaking for himself and not on Trump’s behalf. Earlier Saturday, Dowd told the Daily Beast that he was speaking on behalf of the president and in his capacity as the president’s attorney.
Sessions late Friday night fired McCabe, a little more than 24 hours before McCabe was set to retire — a move that McCabe alleged was an attempt to “slander” him and undermine the ongoing special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign.
Sessions announced the decision in a statement just before 10 p.m., noting that both the Justice Department inspector general and the FBI office that handles discipline had found “that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.”
.. If Dowd’s statement reflected Trump’s legal strategy, it would represent a significant shift in the president’s approach to the Mueller investigation.
.. McCabe’s firing touched off a firestorm late Friday. The now-former No. 2 at the FBI, who is a witness in the Russia case, shot back immediately.
“This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally,” McCabe said. “It is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the Special Counsel’s work.”
.. His firing — which was recommended by the FBI office that handles discipline — stems from a Justice Department inspector general investigation that found McCabe authorized the disclosure of sensitive information to the media about a Clinton-related case, then misled investigators about his actions in the matter, people familiar with the matter have said