This Is Not Normal, May 29, 2018 – June 4, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the United States ambassador to Germany to tell a far-right media outlet that he intends to work to undermine the current German government in favor of more conservative factions.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the EPA administrator to use federal employees to run personal errands; and for that matter it is NOT NORMAL that the EPA administrator still has a job after so many instances of corruption and misuse of federal funds that have emerged.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration is claiming a national security imperative for imposing tariffs on our allies, including Britain, France, and Canada (!), resulting in a “terrible” phone call with the French president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president gave a desperately-wanted photo op to a North Korean official in return for a very large envelope with a letter that the president praised before reading.
  • It is NOT NORMAL, and should worry everyone who cares about the Constitution, that the president’s lawyers wrote a letter to the special counsel arguing that the president cannot obstruct justice (reminiscent of Nixon’s “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal”). Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL that the president’s newest lawyer argued on ABC that the president could pardon himself.
  • Speaking of pardons, it is NOT NORMAL for the president to make random decisions about pardons (apparently focused on celebrities who were prosecuted by some combination of the special counsel, the former FBI director, and/or the previous administration) without involving career lawyers at the Justice Department in any way. (It is entirely possible that the previous pardon process needs to be streamlined, but the president’s methods seem to be whimsical and capricious.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • repeatedly refer to “13 Angry Democrats”;
    • accuse the Democrats of “Collusion” with Russia, without offering any evidence or rationale for why the Democrats would collude in their own defeat;
    • claim that “I’ve got to start focusing my energy on North Korea Nuclear, bad Trade Deals, VA Choice, the Economy, rebuilding the Military, and so much more,” only to start tweeting about the Russia investigation two hours later;
    • selectively quote a Republican congressman who argued that the Attorney General should have told the president he planned to recuse himself from the Russia investigation when he was nominated, failing to mention that the same congressman also said that having seen the classified information himself, he believed the Russia investigation was warranted;
    • announce that he wished he had chosen a different attorney general;
    • refer to the “Fake Mainstream Media” and the “Failing and Corrupt @nytimes”;
    • complain twice that the chairman of ABC had not apologized to him for criticisms made on ABC news analysis shows (such programs frequently criticize politicians on all sides, and do not offer apologies for doing so);
    • argue that he did not fire the former FBI director because of the Russia investigation (he said that he fired the FBI director because of the Russia investigation on national television);
    • tweet “FAIR TRADE!” sans context, sandwiched between a tweet about the summit with North Korea and an additional complaint about the Russia investigation;
    • call for a comic to be fired because she insulted his daughter (for the record, I don’t love the language used by said comedian, but it is wildly inappropriate for the president to try to influence a private business’s personnel decisions);
    • attack Canada (Canada! We are going to have no friends left by 2020) for treating “our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long period of time”;
    • make a number of claims about trade wars, tariffs, and trade deficits that are not supported by most economists;
    • complain that the FBI should have told him that his campaign manager was under investigation; and
    • argue that “I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” and that the “appointment of the Special Councel [sic] is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL” (he doesn’t and it isn’t).
  • He made one reference to “Crooked Hillary” and a large number to the Russian “Witch Hunt.”