President says White House ‘is running very smoothly’ despite staffing shake-ups
President Trump asserted on Thursday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is in complete disarray and a “disgrace to our Nation,” while adding that his White House is operating smoothly as news emerges of high level shake-ups.
In a series of tweets early Thursday, the president said “The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess.”
“They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our Nation and don’t…care how many lives the ruin.”
It wasn’t immediately clear how Mr. Trump came to these conclusions about the Mueller probe’s inner workings. The White House and Mr. Trump’s outside counsel didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
.. Mr. Trump also described officials with the special counsel’s team as “Angry People” and described Mr. Mueller himself as “highly conflicted,” saying that he served under President Obama’s administration for eight years.
.. Mr. Trump and his lawyers are in the process of developing responses to written questions provided by Mr. Mueller’s investigators on the subject of collusion, according to a person familiar with the matter. The lawyers are expected to submit the responses by the end of the week.
After those questions are submitted, the president’s legal team has said it will discuss with the special counsel whether he still wants a sit-down interview with Mr. Trump. “I’d have to say…the lawyers are against it,” Rudy Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump’s attorneys, said in an interview last week.
.. “The White House is running very smoothly and the results for our Nation are obviously very good. We are the envy of the world,” he said. “But anytime I even think about making changes, the FAKE NEWS MEDIA goes crazy, always seeking to make us look as bad as possible! Very dishonest!”
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump removed his deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel, moving to quickly resolve an unusual feud pitting first lady Melania Trump against her husband’s National Security Council.
Ms. Ricardel lost Mrs. Trump’s support after a dispute involving the first lady’s trip to Africa last month, according to current and former administration officials. Aides to the two women clashed over whether the first lady’s plane would have seats for National Security Council staff, and relations deteriorated after that, these people said.
Advisers to the president described turbulence inside the White House in recent days, with aides jockeying for new positions left by officials who are departing or expected to depart.
Ms. Ricardel’s abrupt departure came amid a broader shake-up that could see the exit of chief of staff John Kelly and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Ex-White House lawyer Ty Cobb broke with his former boss Monday, saying he doesn’t believe special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is a “witch hunt.”
“I don’t think it’s a witch hunt,” Cobb told CNN’s Gloria Borger during CNN’s “Citizen Conference.”
Cobb also characterized Mueller as “an American hero in my view” and said that he has respected Mueller for decades.
Conservatives are coming up with conspiracy theories about Ford and saying her allegations are just too old to investigate.
Well, Kavanaugh Didn’t Sexually Assault Every Woman
.. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a letter signed by 65 women who said they knew Kavanaugh in high school and could vouch for his “decency.” Two women who said they dated Kavanaugh also released statements Monday saying that they knew him as a good guy.
Bringing out women who didn’t experience any sexual misconduct to vouch for the character of a man is a common tactic. It happened during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearing and when then–Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes was under fire. But just because a man didn’t mistreat all women doesn’t mean he didn’t mistreat one woman.
If It Could Happen To Kavanaugh, It Could Happen To Any Man
If it could happen to him, Joe from your office could be next. Maybe Ray, the friendly guy who bags your groceries. Or even you.
“If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried. We can all be accused of something,” said a lawyer close to the White House.
But it hasn’t happened to every man. Neal Gorsuch made it onto the Supreme Court bench just fine. So did John Roberts and Samuel Alito.
Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) tweeted a similar concern.
Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post has a solid response to this worry.
Ford Got Low Marks On A Professor-Rating Website
The conservative Drudge Report ran with a story from Grabien News on Monday that purported to have uncovered negative reviews of Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, by her students and posted on. This attack would seemingly undermine Ford because a bad professor can’t also be a victim of sexual assault, or something?
But they messed with the wrong woman. No, really. The story was literally about the wrong woman. The reviews were about Christine A. Ford, a social worker who taught at California State University at Fullerton.
Although Grabien News posted a retraction, Drudge deleted the tweet and pretended nothing ever happened.
.. It Was So Long Ago
Ari Fleischer, who served as President George W. Bush’s press secretary during the run-up to the Iraq War, said he wasn’t sure Kavanaugh should be held responsible for something he did in high school.
“How much in society should any of us be held liable today when we lived a good life, an upstanding life by all accounts, and then something that maybe is an arguable issue took place in high school?” Fleischer said on Fox News. “Should that deny us chances later in life? Even for a Supreme Court job, a presidency of the United States or you name it. How accountable are we for high school actions, when this is clearly a disputable high school action? That’s a tough issue.”
Donald Trump Jr. put up an Instagram post implying that they were just kids back then and it was just like when a boy asks a girl out on a date with a handwritten note.
Ford, meanwhile, said that the incident with Kavanaugh “derailed me substantially for four or five years,” leading her to struggle academically and socially. She also had trouble forming relationships with men.
.. Something About The Salem Witch Trials
Lance Morrow, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal comparing Kavanaugh to women who had been accused of being witches. He said that “hysterical fantasies had real consequences,” resulting in the death of women believed to be witches.
Morrow goes after Ford for first not identifying herself and points out that because there was no police report, no witnesses and the other guy in the room at the time (whose reliability as a character witness is questionable) denies that the incident took place.
“The thing happened — if it happened — an awfully long time ago,” he added, “back in Ronald Reagan’s time, when the actors in the drama were minors and (the boys, anyway) under the blurring influence of alcohol and adolescent hormones.”
Something About The Russia Investigation
The Liberty Counsel, a conservative group supporting Kavanaugh, sent out a press release with at least seven reasons the public should not trust Ford. One of them seemed new and different:
Ford has a brother, Ralph Blasey, who worked for Baker Hostetler, a law firm that retained Fusion GPS, the infamous DC company that produced the unverified Steele dossier on President Donald Trump and Russia, sparking the Russia investigation.
It’s ridiculous to think that because Ford’s brother works at a law firm that had some tie to the Russia investigation, she is in on some grand conspiracy to bring down Kavanaugh and Trump. But Blasey worked at the firm from 1989 to 2004 — long before Trump was president or even considering running for president.
.. Ford Bears A Grudge Against Kavanaugh’s Mom
Right-wing websites started running with a theory about why Ford is coming out against Kavanaugh (other than that he allegedly assaulted her): His mother, formerly a Maryland district judge, ruled against Ford’s parents in a foreclosure case.
“Isn’t it kind of amazing that all the media reports today didn’t mention this little conflict of interest for Blasey-Ford?” wrote the site Pacific Pundit.
They didn’t mention this story because it’s not true, as Snopes points out. Kavanaugh’s mom did preside in a foreclosure case involving Ford’s parents, but the outcome of the case was actually favorable for them.
Reporters and political commentators often express frustrated surprise at the steadfast support of President Trump from most Republicans in the House and Senate. But they shouldn’t — it has happened before.
In fact, when these critics refer back to the Watergate era as a time of bipartisan commitment to the rule of law over politics, they get it exactly wrong. Defending the president at all costs, blaming investigators and demonizing journalists was all part of the Republican playbook during the political crisis leading up to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
.. In late 1972, when a Democratic congressman, Wright Patman of Texas, began to investigate connections between Mr. Nixon’s aides and the Watergate burglary, the House Republican leader, Gerald Ford of Michigan (who later succeeded Mr. Nixon as president), called it a “political witch hunt,” according to the historian Stanley I. Kutler in his book “The Wars of Watergate.”
.. Ted Stevens, a Republican senator from Alaska, repeated Mr. Ford’s warning that the investigation could become a “political witch hunt,” according to Mr. Kutler.
.. When Mr. Baker famously asked, “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” during the Watergate hearings, he meant to protect Mr. Nixon in the mistaken belief that the president didn’t know about the Watergate cover-up until many months after it occurred.
The question backfired once evidence mounted that Mr. Nixon was involved in the cover-up from the start, and Mr. Baker eventually became a critic of the president.
After it was revealed in July 1973 that Mr. Nixon had secretly taped conversations, Mr. Ford said he found nothing wrong with the president’s practices. Republican Senator John Tower of Texas later warned Congress not to get caught up in “the hysteria of Watergate.”
Most congressional Republicans rallied around Mr. Nixon when the White House released edited transcripts of those tapes in April 1974 that showed Mr. Nixon scheming with his aides. As the House Judiciary Committee began debating possible impeachment in July, Representative Delbert Latta of Ohio said the evidence failed to prove Mr. Nixon’s direct involvement in Watergate.
.. Mr. Latta and most other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee voted against all articles of impeachment on July 27-30, 1974. Eleven of 17 Republicans voted against the obstruction-of-justice article, 10 of 17 opposed the abuse-of-power resolution, and 15 of 17 voted against the article based on the president’s refusal to produce tapes in response to the committee’s subpoenas.
.. More Republicans abandoned Mr. Nixon on the obstruction-of-justice charge only after he complied with the Supreme Court’s order on Aug. 5, releasing the “smoking gun” tapes that proved he had ordered a cover-up of the Watergate crimes. Still, many party members of the Judiciary Committee later filed reports arguing that Mr. Nixon was innocent of two of the three articles of impeachment sent to the full House.
.. During Watergate, most Republicans in Congress supported Mr. Nixon until the tapes provided undeniable evidence that he had obstructed justice. It remains to be seen whether current party leaders will support Mr. Trump no matter what evidence Mr. Mueller’s investigation unearths about the conduct of the president and his aides. Such behavior might be unwarranted, but it won’t be unprecedented.