This Is Not Normal, May 15, 2018 – May 21, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to try to provoke a constitutional crisis by demanding (via Twitter) that the Justice Department initiate an investigation of his political rivals. Previous presidents have respected the independence of the FBI and other investigatory branches of the Justice Department.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to insist that the Department of Justice reveal to them the identity of a confidential informant even though doing so could jeopardize ongoing investigations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to refer to human beings, even violent human beings, as animals. It is also NOT NORMAL for the White House to issue a press release with the title “What You Need to Know about the Violent Animals of MS-13.” Dehumanization of certain groups is a common tactic of authoritarians which opens the door for mass human rights violations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to urge the United States postmaster general to raise shipping prices for Amazon and other companies because of a personal vendetta against the Washington Post, which is owned by the owner of Amazon.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the lieutenant governor of Texas to argue that a school shooting in the state (in which ten people died) could be blamed partly on “too many entrances and too many exits.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son/campaign adviser met with representatives of several foreign countries during the 2016 presidential campaign in an effort to get foreign help for the president’s campaign. It is illegal for foreign governments and individuals who are not American citizens to be involved with American elections.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president nominated the acting secretary of veterans affairs to run the agency permanently without telling said acting secretary before making the announcement.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to violate ethics guidelines by belatedly disclosing a 2017 payment in excess of $100,000 that he made to his former lawyer, possibly to be used as hush money for the adult film actress with whom the president had a one-night stand. Because this payment should have been disclosed a year ago, the Office of Government Ethics referred the discrepancy to the deputy attorney general.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s lawyer to make statements about the special counsel’s intentions and internal deadlines in an apparent attempt to pressure the special counsel to finish his investigation by the end of the summer, especially when at least some of these statements appear to have no basis in fact.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the United States cancelled a planned military exercise with South Korea because North Korea objected.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • refer to the White House press corps as the “Fake News Media” and the New York Times as “the Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes”;
    • repeatedly rant about the investigation of his campaign’s ties with Russia and other countries, calling it “the greatest Witch Hunt in American History” (Giles Corey and Rebecca Nurse would beg to differ) and referring to the investigators as “13 Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats”;
    • call the fact that the FBI had an informant about his campaign “bigger than Watergate” and claim that the informant was “infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign” (there is no evidence that this is true);
    • argue that the “Fake News” deliberately misinterpreted his reference to “Animals” when he was only talking about members of MS-13 (the transcript is ambiguous);
    • wonder why the former FBI acting director was not being investigated for a donation to his wife’s campaign in 2015 (the director’s wife received the same kinds of donations any Democratic candidate in the race would have received); and
    • respond to a school shooting with “School shooting in Texas. Early reports not looking good. God bless all!”
  • In addition, I regret to report that both “Crooked Hillary” and “Witch Hunt” made a return this week.
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