This Is Not Normal, February 17, 2020 – February 23, 2020

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Attorney General has violated legal, ethical, and political norms so egregiously that more than one thousand former federal prosecutors and officials, who served under presidents of both parties, signed a letter urging him to step down. Again I remind you that the federal prosecutorial bench is not a hotbed of liberalism.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration is diverting billions of dollars that Congress had earmarked for military funding to the construction of the border wall, angering both Republican and Democratic congressional representatives.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president continues to dismiss intelligence briefings on possible Russian interference in the 2020 election as a hoax.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s choice for acting director of national intelligence is removing longtime intelligence officers and replacing them with conspiracy theorists.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that in a campaign speech the president referred to the leaders of the FBI as “dirty cops” and complained about the federal case against his former adviser, who was convicted of lying to protect the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the WikiLeaks founder claimed through his legal team that the president offered to pardon him of any federal crimes if he would say that Russia had not been behind the hack of Democratic emails in 2016.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president granted pardons and commutations to eleven wealthy white-collar criminals convicted of a range of fraud, corruption, and perjury charges. (None of these clemency grants followed the normal process.)
  •  It is NOT NORMAL that the president complained about a foreign film winning Best Picture at the Oscars. (Ordinarily I would think this is too petty to mention, but it was just a bizarre thing for the president to involve himself in.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL (and also quite prolific). To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • tweet “HAPPY PRESIDENT’S DAY!” on Monday (ordinarily I would not pick at a mere misplaced apostrophe, but come on, we all know he thinks it is a day set aside to honor him);
    • continue to tweet repeatedly about the Daytona 500, which apparently was quite a highlight for him;
    • say, of the Mueller investigation, that “If I wasn’t President, I’d be suing everyone all over the place BUT MAYBE I STILL WILL!”;
    • complain that the DNC is “working overtime to take the Democrat Nomination away from Bernie, AGAIN!” (funny way of showing it they have);
    • repeatedly refer to the former mayor of New York as “Mini Mike” and accuse him of “illegally buying the Democrat Nomination” (like it or not, there is nothing illegal about spending millions of dollars on campaign ads, and also why are so many Republicans convinced that using an ungrammatical adjectival form is a sick burn on the Democratic party?);
    • retweet an aide’s Photoshop of a picture of a Democratic debate making the mayor of New York look absurdly short (this is the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES and his Tweets are OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS and all the other countries can see this nonsense);
    • claim that “Internal REAL Polls show I am beating all of the Dem candidates” (if this were true his campaign would have leaked them);
    • claim that two Democrats “grossly violated the Logan Act with respect to Iran. If a Republican did what they did, there would be very serious ramifications!” (no one of either party has ever been charged under the Logan Act, not even when the president’s son-in-law set up a backchannel to the Kremlin at the Russian embassy);
    • tweet that “Fake Media” reports of that Russia favors a Democratic candidate for president are “disinformation Hoax number 7” because the DNC does not want the candidate to be nominated, only to immediately follow that tweet with an image of the candidate as a ventriloquist puppet being controlled by the Russian president (don’t those two back-to-back tweets directly contradict each other?); and
    • refer to his 2016 Democratic opponent as “Crooked Hillary Clinton,” which I thought we had finally gotten past.
  • The president also retweeted many terrible people, including himself.

This Is Not Normal, February 10, 2020 – February 16, 2020

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Department of Justice stepped in and reduced the sentencing recommendation for a former adviser to the president, prompting four federal prosecutors to quit in protest. For context, there were several thousand federal criminal cases last year and this is the only one in which the Department of Justice intervened. I would also point out that the federal prosecutorial bench does not tend to be a hotbed of liberalism.
  • Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL that the Attorney General has declared that he will personally handle cases of interest to the president, and has ordered a review of the prosecution of the president’s former national security adviser, who has pleaded guilty twice.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the memo the White House sent to Congress explaining the assassination of an Iranian general did not cite an imminent threat from Iran, which was the stated reason for the action.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House is sending tactical law enforcement units to sanctuary cities.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president lied about at least two of the personal stories he highlighted in his State of the Union address: the Army veteran who supposedly got a construction job at one of the “Opportunity Zones” does not work at an Opportunity Zone site; and the fourth grader who was dramatically awarded a scholarship during the speech to allow her to transfer from public school has been attending a free, highly-ranked charter school for several months.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be a mess (and this week features a screenshot of Senator Marco Rubio making what appears to be a Wakanda salute and that isn’t really a NOT NORMAL thing but it’s also a whole lot of nope for one image). To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • refer to a sitting Senator as “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer”, while claiming based on nothing that I can tell that “AOC will primary [him], and win” (I don’t think AOC is technically old enough to run for the Senate?);
    • complain repeatedly about the “Impeachment Hoax”;
    • tweet “Meeting with U.S. Governors in a short while. All States are doing well. ‘Thank you Mr. President'” (I think he just thanked himself? For something?);
    • claim that it was a “nice conflict” for a columnist to write a critical editorial about him, because she is married to Senator Sherrod Brown who, did not, as the president claims “[drop] out of presidential race FAST” or “[poll] at ZERO!” (he was one of a handful of white male Democrats who chose not to run);
    • complain about the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, whom he appointed;
    • retweet a clip from the television show Curb Your Enthusiasm, apparently unaware that it was actually mocking his base;
    • tweet “DRAIN THE SWAMP!” sans context, and later “DRAIN THE SWAMP! We want bad people out of our government!” (and yes, yes, I do with all my heart);
    • complain that the judge presiding over the case of his former adviser had put his former campaign chairman (the adviser and the chairman are in fact two different people) in solitary confinement, asking the rhetorical question “How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton?” (she . . . had nothing to say about Hillary Clinton, as Hillary Clinton has not been charged with any federal crimes and thus is free to go for relaxing hikes in the woods as often as she pleases);
    • claim that a presidential candidate’s “calling for unity” is “sending signals that she wants out,” which is an interesting window into the president’s thought processes (the candidate might just want unity?);
    • tweet “Who are the four prosecutors (Mueller people?) who cut and ran after being exposed for recommending a ridiculous 9 year sentence to a man that got caught up in an investigation that was illegal, the Mueller Scam, and shouldn’t ever even have started? 13 Angry Democrats?”;
    • claim that the New Hampshire primary was “A very bad night for Mini Mike!”, a reference to Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg, who was not a candidate in the New Hampshire primary;
    • complain that the “Fake News” was failing to talk about his lopsided victories in Iowa and New Hampshire;
    • claim, after being publicly disavowed by his former chief of staff, that the chief of staff’s wife “once pulled me aside & said strongly that ‘John respects you greatly. When we are no longer here, he will only speak well of you'” (I feel that there must be more to this story, right?);
    • announce, in a tweet, where everyone can see it, that he would only allow New York State residents to use the Trusted Traveler program if New York dropped its “unnecessary lawsuits & harassment” (this is essentially the Ukraine thing, except domestic policy instead of foreign policy) and for good measure referred to the Italian-American governor’s brother as “Fredo”;
    • claim that he has “as President, the legal right” to interfere in federal criminal cases (just imagine if Obama had said this);
    • complain that the Democratic senator from West Virginia voted against him in the impeachment trial;
    • claim that the Democrats “are taking the [nomination] away” from “Crazy Bernie,” and I do hope people are paying attention to the president’s desperate desire for the Democrats to nominate Sanders; and
    • tweet a lot about the Dayton 500 (the president was *psyched* to go to Daytona, you guys).
  • The president also retweeted many terrible people, including himself.

This Is Not Normal, January 27, 2020 – February 2, 2020

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Senate voted not to have witnesses at the president’s impeachment trial (every other presidential impeachment trial has included witnesses, as have the thirteen impeachment trials against other federal officials).
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Florida senator defended his vote against witnesses in the impeachment trial by saying that “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office” (that is not a ringing endorsement of the president).
  • It is NOT NORMAL that an Iowa senator said that if the former vice president won the presidency, her party would immediately push for his impeachment. (This is unlikely to actually happen, since if the former vice president wins the presidency his party is likely to hold onto the House.) Hilariously, this same senator claims to be “confident” that the president will stop soliciting foreign interference in the presidential election after his acquittal. Again, this is not a ringing endorsement of the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Kentucky senator tried to out the whistleblower in a question during the impeachment trial. (The Chief Justice rejected the question.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that after cursing at and insulting an NPR reporter, the Secretary of State kicked a different NPR reporter off his plane for no apparent reason.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the former national security adviser (not the one currently awaiting sentencing, to be clear), by his own account, told the Attorney General that he believed the president was granting personal favors to the authoritarian leaders of Turkey and China. Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL that the former national security adviser alleges that the president’s personal lawyer was involved in the plans to pressure Ukraine to investigate the president’s rival, and that these plans were formulated as early as May 2019.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s DNA is being sought by a woman who claims he raped her in the 1990s and is suing him for defamation.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that one of the president’s attorneys argued during the impeachment trial that “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” (By this standard the president could break any election law on the grounds that he believed his reelection was in the country’s best interest.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be both NOT NORMAL and also quite voluminous. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • lie about whether the House asked the former national security adviser to testify (he declined) and whether there were Republican witnesses in the House hearings (there were);
    • tweet yet again “READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” in the apparent misguided belief that the transcripts somehow exonerate him;
    • refer to a CNN journalist as “the dumbest man on television (with terrible ratings!)”;
    • complain about Fox News interviewing Democratic politicians and employing Chris Wallace, which he called “really pathetic” and “the beginning of the end for Fox”;
    • brag that “It’s amazing what I’ve done, the most of any President in the first three years (by far)” (this is not true);
    • refer to the impeachment trial as “just another political CON JOB!”;
    • falsely claim that the national security adviser’s book was “All Classified National Security” (this does not seem to be true) and “nasty & untrue” (also does not seem to be true);
    • refer to the Senate Minority Leader as “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer”;
    • claim that two of the House impeachment managers are “fighting big time!”;
    • refer to a Democratic candidate for the presidency as “Mini Mike Bloomberg” and argue that the Democratic National Convention is trying to “rig the election against Crazy Bernie”;
    • claim that “Mini Mike is now negotiating both to get on the Democrat Primary debate stage, and to have the right to stand on boxes, or a lift, during the debates. This is sometimes done, but really not fair!” (I don’t even know where to go with this one); and
    • tweet before the Super Bowl, “ENJOY  THE GAME USA, OUR COUNTRY IS DOING GREAT!”
  • The president also retweeted many terrible people.