This Is Not Normal, July 10, 2018 – July 16, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president referred to the European Union as a “foe” and issued a veiled threat to walk away from NATO if other NATO members did not increase their financial contributions. It is also NOT NORMAL that congressional members of the president’s party continue to remain silent while the president destroys our relationships with our allies.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a candidate in the Georgia gubernatorial Republican primary said that the race was about “who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck, and who could be the craziest.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration is dragging its feet on compliance with a judge’s order to reunite migrant families separated at the border.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that Russian intelligence agents just happened to hack the president’s opponent’s emails on the same day that the president (then candidate) said publicly, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president attacked the mayor of London and the British prime minister in an interview with a British newspaper, calling the mayor weak on terrorism and claiming that he had told the prime minister how to resolve her country’s issues with the European Union and she had refused to listen. It is further NOT NORMAL that he then called the transcript of his interview “fake news,” despite the fact that audio confirmed the published quotes.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president called an American television news network “fake news” during a press conference in Britain, and called an American reporter for another network “dishonest.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the former secretary of Health and Human Services spent an unnecessary $341,000 on travel.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the majority party devoted an entire congressional hearing to aggressively attacking an FBI agent who worked on the investigation of the president’s campaign for infidelity and political bias. For example, the question “I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eye and lie to her?” is not a normal question in a congressional hearing.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that North Korea did not show up for a meeting with the State Department about repatriating the remains of American service members, a repatriation that the president claimed several weeks ago had already happened.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president pardoned two ranchers convicted of setting fires on federal land, pardons that were based not on clemency recommendations from the Justice Department but apparently on a request from a donor to the Vice President.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president appointed and the Senate confirmed an official to lead the Justice department’s Criminal Division who has never tried a case and has done private sector work for Russian banks.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president gave a joint press conference with the Russian president in which he said he believed the Russian president’s denials of meddling in the 2016 presidential election; complained that “It’s a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over” his electoral college victory; suggested that American intelligence agencies should work with their Russian counterparts to investigate the hacks; blamed the United States for tensions with Russia; and refused to make any specific criticisms of Russian actions.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be an international disgrace. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • attack the European Union for “big Tariffs (& Barriers)!”;
    • complain repeatedly about European contributions to NATO and call the American contributions to NATO “Very Unfair!”;
    • claim that a “New Poll says Trump, at over 90%, is the most popular Republican in history of the Party” (it doesn’t);
    • complain about the “Rigged Witch Hunt” run by “13 Angry Democrats” and repeatedly attack by name two FBI agents who were having an affair and exchanged texts critical of the president;
    • call immigration “soooo simple to fix” and blame Democrats for obstruction (if all Republicans were on board with the President’s immigration plans, a bill could be passed without Democrats);
    • complain that the FBI did not “take possession of” the “DNC Server”;
    • refer to CNN as “Fake News” and refer to the president of CNN as “Little Jeff Z”;
    • brag about his not-that-impressive Electoral College victory yet again;
    • blame Russian interference in the election on the previous president;
    • refer to indictments against Russian agents for interfering in the election as “stories”;
    • tweet that “no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough — that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition! Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems know how to do is resist and obstruct!”; and
    • claim that he had received “many calls from leaders of NATO countries thanking me for helping to bring them together and to get them focused on financial obligations” (there is no evidence of any such calls).
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This Is Not Normal, June 26, 2018 – July 2, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the First Lady has earned six figures from a photo distribution arrangement with Getty Images that required photos to be used only in positive stories.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a comedian managed to prank-call the president on Air Force One, convincing him that he was a Democratic senator. It is also odd that the president commiserated with faux senator on the unfairness of corruption charges.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president said in an interview with Fox News that the “European Union is possibly as bad as China, just smaller” and that “We also love the European Union. I was there many many years ago. Meaning my parents were born in the European Union.” To be fair, the latter is not a violation of a political norm, just deeply weird, especially since the president’s father was born in the Bronx.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president told G7 leaders that “NATO is as bad as NAFTA.” NATO is not a trade agreement but is literally the most important security agreement in the world.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration has reportedly drafted a bill that would abandon the principles of the World Trade Organization and give the president the unilateral ability to set tariffs. Since the initials of the bill’s name (Fair and Reciprocal Trade Act) spell “fart,” I am holding out a faint hope that it is the product of a childish aide trying to prank a reporter and not an actual policy suggestion by the White House.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • repeatedly whine about Harley-Davidson moving some of its production overseas to avoid the president’s tariffs;
    • claim that a Democratic Senator was “perhaps in a near drunken state” when he made an admittedly dumb joke about his knowledge of the special counsel’s investigation into the president’s 2016 campaign;
    • argue that the Democrats’ platform is “Open Borders and Unlimited Crime”;
    • suggest that a leading Democratic congressman lost his primary because he “should have been nicer, and more respectful, to his President!”;
    • refer to two congresswomen, including the minority leader as “crazy” and “unhinged”;
    • post an all-caps rant insisting that the Republicans in the House pass a hardline immigration bill, only to claim three days later that he had never pushed Republicans to pass an immigration bill;
    • complain about the “Lover FBI Agent Peter Strzok” and the “Witch Hunt, headed by 13 Angry Democrats”;
    • refer to the former FBI director as “Shady James  Comey” and the Senator minority leader as “Cryin’ Chuck”;
    • claim that “I have watched ICE liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13,” which does not appear to be a thing that actually happened;
    • tout his former press secretary’s book, which is a violation of governmental ethics; and
    • argue that “When people come into our Country illegally, we must IMMEDIATELY escort them back without going through years of legal maneuvering” (in other words, get rid of due process, which is a violation of the Constitution).
  • Both “Witch Hunt” and “Crooked Hillary” made an appearance this week. It has been almost twenty months since the 2016 election.

This Is Not Normal, June 19, 2018 – June 25, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s press secretary used her government Twitter account to criticize a restaurant that refused her service. Such a use of Twitter is a violation of federal ethics laws.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the United States denied entrance to the former head of NATO, ostensibly because he had visited Iran.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the White House to design and sell a souvenir coin with the White House on one side and the president’s private Florida club on the other.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the head of the EPA (yes, there is a new EPA scandal!) allegedly retaliated against employees who questioned his need for round-the-clock protection and some of his other extravagant spending habits.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that during a campaign rally in Nevada, the president called a sitting Senator “Pocahontas,” referred to a sitting Congressional representative as “Wacky Jacky” and mocked a Senator who is battling brain cancer.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is proposing a radical reorganization of the executive branch, targeting safety net programs and consolidating executive power.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president signed an executive order, ostensibly to end the policy of family separation, which called for immigrant children to be jailed with their parents and left open the possibility of separation after twenty days. It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former campaign manager (the former campaign manager who *isn’t* currently in jail) mocked the plight of a young girl with Down Syndrome who had been separated from her mother. It is NOT NORMAL that at least 2,300 children have still not been reunited with the parents, and that the White House does not have a clear plan of how or when they will do so. It is NOT NORMAL that the president held a press conference with the families of people who had been killed by immigrants (in fact, immigrants commit violent crime at a lower rate than citizens, and this insistence on highlighting immigrant crime as if it were typical is exactly the same tactic that Nazis used with Jewish crime in the early years of Hitler’s rule). It is NOT NORMAL that the president is currently preparing camps for up to 20,000 migrant children on military bases.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a congresswoman to say that the president’s opponents should “push back” on members of his Cabinet (I’m all for public protest, but I draw the line at language that could suggest mob violence).
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be an international embarrassment. This week, it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • lie about the crime rate in Germany (it is not up ten percent “since migrants were accepted”);
    • say that undocumented immigrants “pour into and infest our Country” (using dehumanizing language for fellow human beings should not be acceptable);
    • call for a zero tolerance policy for undocumented immigrants (why isn’t there a zero tolerance policy for the head of the EPA?);
    • praise the Homeland Security secretary for her performance at a press briefing in which she repeatedly lied;
    • refer to the media as “Fake News”;
    • lie about a meeting with the House GOP by claiming that he got a round of applause and laughter when he mocked a representative who had lost his primary (this has been refuted by several GOP representatives and also, how petty is the president of the United States?);
    • tell multiple lies about border security;
    • complain about the fililbuster in the Senate;
    • say that an “open border” policy is “Nancy Pelosi’s dream” (this does not appear to be true);
    • claim that the dismissive message on the back of his wife’s jacket (can you believe this is a real thing?) was aimed at the press rather than at him or at immigrant children;
    • argue that Democrats “won’t vote for anything” because they did not support a hardline immigration bill that was also not supported by several Republicans;
    • say that immigrants seeking asylum were telling “phony stories of sadness and grief”;
    • complain about the “Russian Witch Hunt”;
    • refer to the Senate Minority leader as “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer”;
    • attack a talk show host for saying he regretted an interview he had done with the president during the 2016 campaign;
    • attack the restaurant that refused to serve his press secretary (this tweet, like the press secretary’s, is also a government ethics violation);
    • make the laughable argument that “I have tried to say uninvolved with the Department of Justice and FBI”;
    • argue that anyone suspected of crossing the border illegally should be denied due process (this should make you very nervous);
    • tweet “Strong Borders, No Crime!” (strengthening the borders will not, in fact, lead to the end of all crime); and
    • refer to the Congresswoman who called for “push[ing] back” against his Cabinet as an “extraordinarily low IQ person.”
  • Lots of references to the “Witch Hunt” this week, but no mention of “Crooked Hillary.”

This Is Not Normal, June 12, 2018 – June 18, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that we, as a nation, are herding small children into cages and shipping them several states away from their parents. Just to forestall any objections, if you’re about to tell me that “if their parents hadn’t broken the rules we wouldn’t have to do this” you should know that I find that argument both baffling — after all, most people accused of misdemeanors do not lose custody of their children indefinitely — and morally blind. I would have expected that we could reach bipartisan agreement on “don’t torment toddlers,” but apparently not.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration has begun an effort to denaturalize American citizens. To be fair, the administration says that they are only interested in denaturalization if someone attained citizenship through deliberate fraud and not if someone has a minor error in paperwork; but the administration has spent the weekend blatantly lying about its family separation policy so I don’t see why I should believe them about this.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency expected that “a certain standard of living” would come with the job and expected his aides–who are, remember, paid with federal tax dollars–to help him attain it.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s “charitable” foundation is being sued after a two-year investigation because it violated campaign finance laws and engaged in self-dealing.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president met with the leader of North Korea alone (with translators but no personnel) and agreed to end joint military exercises with South Korea without getting anything in return other than a vague denuclearization “commitment.” While we are on the subject, it is NOT NORMAL for the president to salute a North Korean general and it is NOT NORMAL for the president to say that the North Korean leader, who has imprisoned tens of thousands of his own people in horrific prison camps, “loves his people.” Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL for the president to express the wish that “his people” would “sit up at attention” for him the way Kim Jong Un’s people do.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president gave an unscheduled press conference on Friday in which he told several blatant and demonstrable lies: he was not exonerated by the Inspector General’s report, which was about the investigation into his opponent’s email servers; the special counsel investigating him is a Republican; his former campaign chairman, who is now in jail awaiting trial, worked for him 144 days, not 49; he did not “get everything” in the North Korean agreement; and it is possible for him to end the family separation policy himself, without any legal changes.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that an Iowa congressional representative retweeted a Nazi sympathizer and self-described admirer of Hitler.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Democratic House candidate in South Carolina who admitted to beating his wife and breaking into her apartment with a tire iron won the Democratic primary anyway.
  • This list cannot adequately convey the sheer insanity of the president’s Twitter feed. This week, it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • argue that the only people who objected to his North Korean agreement were “haters & losers,” call the agreement “a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe!”, and say “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea”;
    • praise the leader of North Korea on Twitter;
    • claim that the United States will “save a fortune” by not conducting joint exercises with South Korea and later argue that getting rid of them was his own request, which if true makes the negotiation even worse;
    • refer to the actor Robert DeNiro as a “very Low IQ individual” who “has received too many shots to the head by real boxers in movies”;
    • say that the “Fake News” is “Our Country’s biggest enemy!”;
    • criticize a senator from Missouri for using a private jet during a tour of the state, when he in fact used a private jet during his presidential campaign;
    • complain about the “Witch Hunt” Russia investigation, arguing that “the Democrats [made] up a phony crime . . . pay a fortune to make the crime sound real, illegally leak (Comey) classified information so that a Special Councel [sic] will be appointed”;
    • argue that his foundation “gave out to charity more money than it took in” (this was not the case);
    • attack by name an FBI agent who worked on both the email server case and the Russia investigation who opposed him politically (not only is it okay for an FBI agent to oppose the president politically, legally such agents cannot be discriminated against based on their political views);
    • retweet Fox & Friends multiple times;
    • call his former campaign chairman’s bail revocation a “tough sentence” and add “What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all the others? Very unfair!” (the campaign chairman’s bail was revoked because he is suspected of witness tampering; he was not sentenced);
    • insist both that the Democrats are responsible for his administration’s family separation policy;
    • complain that he is not getting enough credit for the North Korea deal;
    • tweet “CHANGE THE LAWS!”;
    • post an overt dog-whistle about migration in Europe, falsely claiming that crime in Germany is “way up” (it is at a 25-year low);
    • and tweet “Comey gave Strozk [sic] his marching orders. Mueller is Comey’s best friend. Witch Hunt!”
  • Both “Witch Hunt” and “Crooked Hillary” made multiple appearances this week.

This Is Not Normal, June 5, 2018 – June 11, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the state of Florida did not review national background checks on concealed weapons permit applications because a government employee did not know how to log into the website.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Kansas Secretary of State used state tax dollars to pay a one thousand dollar fine levied against him personally for misleading the court in a case relating to the voter fraud commission created by the White House.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that there were two government employees tasked for several months with taping the president’s official papers back together because he refused to stop tearing them into pieces, even though the Presidential Records Act requires them to be preserved.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to reportedly tell the president of France that the European Union is “worse than China” on trade. (Spoiler alert: this is not true.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president, in a fit of pique, to refuse to sign the G-7 statement that had already been agreed upon.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to suggest readmitting Russia to the G-7 in spite of its seizing of Crimea in 2014.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to randomly suggest pardoning Muhammad Ali, whose conviction was overturned in 1971.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president, in a fit of pique (this seems to be a theme this week), to uninvite the Super Bowl champions because not enough of them were planning to attend the White House celebration.
  • The weekly EPA administrator installment: It is NOT NORMAL for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to use a federal employee to solicit a used mattress from a Trump Organization hotel (yeah, I have no idea, just go with it) and have an agency staffer contact Chick-fil-A on government letterhead about a business opportunity for the administrator’s wife.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the administration to end political asylum for victims of domestic abuse. I don’t usually include policy in this list, but this is so extreme I have trouble believing it would happen in a normal Republican administration.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • complain that the Inspector General’s report on “Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey” is taking too long;
    • complain about NFL players remaining in the locker room during the Star Spangled Banner;
    • announce that he would not have nominated the Attorney General if he had known he would recuse himself (properly) from the Russia investigation;
    • falsely claim that families were being separated at the border because of a Democratic law when we all heard his administration announce it a few weeks ago (does he not realize that the Internet lasts forever?);
    • claim that more “wasteful spending” could be cut if “we didn’t have Chuck and Nancy standing in our way!”;
    • refer to two FBI agents who were having an affair as “the incompetent & corrupt FBI lovers” and to the investigators working with the special counsel as “13 Angry Democrats”;
    • complain that the investigation into his campaign “makes the Nixon Watergate burglary look like keystone cop stuff”;
    • complain that reporters who saw the First Lady walking around the White House did not report it because they wanted to keep the conspiracy theory about her lack of visibility going (they did report it);
    • refer to a sitting Republican Senator as “a Flake”;
    • ask the rhetorical question “When will people start saying, ‘thank you, Mr. President, for firing James Comey?'”;
    • repeatedly attack the Prime Minister of Canada, calling him “weak” and “dishonest”;
    • complain that “Schumer is telling me what to do at the Summit the Dems could never set up” (the North Koreans have been dying for a summit with the American president for years and giving them one is playing right into their hands);
    • repeatedly demonstrate his total lack of understanding of international trade by falsely arguing that the United States has trade deficits with all of our allies;
    • demonstrate his lack of understanding of NATO once again; and
    • repeatedly attempt to conduct foreign policy over social media, which I cannot understand why anyone thinks is a good idea.
  • Crooked Hillary appeared once this week and I lost count of the references to a “Witch Hunt.”

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.”

This Is Not Normal, May 22, 2018 – May 28, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s daughter to receive seven new Chinese trademarks at the same time that the president was vowing to prevent a Chinese telecom company from going out of business even though the company has a history of doing business with Iran and North Korea.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that an adviser to the president during the 2016 presidential campaign sought personal access to the president’s opponent’s emails that were stolen by Wikileaks.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president said in a speech that MS-13 “killed a cop for the sake of making a statement,” which is a lie.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a congressional candidate to say that Puerto Rico evacuees who have since immigrated to Florida should not be allowed to vote there. Puerto Ricans are American citizens.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the EPA to bar reporters from certain media outlets from covering a national summit on water contamination, reportedly forcibly shoving one reporter out of the EPA building.
  • It is NOT  NORMAL for the president’s son to have met with a deputy governor of Russia’s Central Bank during the presidential campaign.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to cancel a planned summit with North Korea without alerting South Korea first and while American reporters are still in North Korea. (At the moment this meeting seems to be Schrodinger’s Summit, as no one seems to yet know for certain whether it is actually cancelled or not.) Also NOT NORMAL: the Trump-Kim commemorative coins.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the White House to schedule a background briefing for several dozen reporters and then when reporters quote the source without attribution in a story attack the reporters for making up the source via the president’s Twitter feed. (Important: the source was quoted without attribution because that’s what a background briefing is, by definition.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to state in a speech that his administration was giving the military its first raise in ten years. In fact, the military has had a pay raise every year for more than three decades, and the 2.4% raise this year was smaller than the 3.4% raise in 2010.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s personal lawyer, who had only three clients, met with a Russian oligarch eleven days before the inauguration and was later paid $500,000 for “consulting work.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House attempted to restrict a classified briefing on an FBI informant who had contacted advisers to the president’s campaign to Republican lawmakers.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the director of the federal prison system resigned because the Department of Justice was flouting “departmental norms” and because his role was being marginalized due to a turf war between the Attorney General and the president’s son-in-law/senior adviser.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • repeatedly complain about a “spy” who infiltrated his campaign, and falsely claim that a former head of intelligence had admitted to spying on his campaign (in fact, the head of intelligence said clearly that the intelligence community was spying on what the Russians were doing, which is one of the purposes of the intelligence community);
    • call the head of intelligence in question the “dumbest former Intelligence Head, who has the problem of lying a lot”;
    • refer to the intelligence community as “the Criminal Deep State”;
    • repeatedly try to make “Spygate” happen;
    • say that the “GREAT Men & Women of the FBI are starting to speak out against Comey, McCabe and all of the political corruption and poor leadership,” which does not appear to be true, and then retweet this tweet a day later;
    • claim that Democrats are “so obviously rooting against us in our negotiations with North Korea” and “coming to the defense of MS 13 thugs, saying that they are individuals & must be nurtured,” neither of which is true;
    • falsely claim in a tweet supporting the Chicago Police protest that “killings are at a record pace” (shootings in Chicago are down 21% this year and were down 28% last year);
    • tweet “Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from their parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.” (this is not a law but a policy that his own administration announced earlier this month);
    • refer to the New York Times as the “Failing and Corrupt New York Times”;
    • complain that his campaign was not contacted about “the Russia Problem” (he was personally briefed on the potential for Russian infiltration in July 2016);
    • tweet “Who’s going to give back the young and beautiful lives (and others) that have been devastated and destroyed by the phony Russia Collusion Witch Hunt? They journeyed down to Washington, D.C., with stars in their eyes and wanting to help our nation…They went back home in tatters!” (this is by any measure a strange thing for a president to tweet); and
    • use his Memorial Day tweet to brag that the men and women who died in war would be very pleased to see how he is running the country.
  • Unfortunately this week saw several references to both “Crooked Hillary” and “Witch Hunt.”

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.

This Is Not Normal, May 8, 2018 – May 14, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a South Dakota state senator and candidate for a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives said, “And then all that has to happen is that there will be one more terrorist attack between now and then, and I will be the–just by the Trump effect–I will be the candidate.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Department of Education halted investigations into abuses by for-profit colleges such as the DeVry Institute after several former employees for such institutions had been given high-level positions in the department.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is considering personally intervening to overturn sanctions imposed by the Commerce Department against a Chinese tech company, ZTE.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the U.S. ambassador to Moscow is joining a panel discussion at an economic forum with the oligarch who is under American sanctions and who has been linked to several payments to the president’s lawyer.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee continues to demand sensitive case files from the Department of Justice, despite concerns about breaching the separation of powers and potentially endangering witnesses and operatives should the contents of the files be leaked.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president shouted at the secretary of Homeland Security for several minutes in front of the entire cabinet because the number of immigrants entering the country illegally is increasing, despite the fact that vetting of immigrants has intensified and several visa programs ended.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to pull out of a multilateral nuclear agreement with another country over the objections to the other signers of the agreement and despite the fact that the agreement was, to all appearances, working well.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • argue that opposition to his nominee for CIA director was predicated on the idea that she was too “TOUCH ON TERROR!” when in fact the issue is primarily her previous support for torture;
    • post that a former secretary of State, who was reportedly engaged in “shadow diplomacy,” “can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it!” (I am not a fan of shadow diplomacy, but public insult via tweet is not the best way to handle the situation);
    • repeatedly call the media covering his administration “Fake News” because they are not uniformly complimentary;
    • refer to a sitting senator as “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer”;
    • describe an upcoming meeting with the leader of North Korea as “highly anticipated,” as though he were resolving a television cliffhanger;
    • argue after a knife attack in Paris that “At some point countries will have to open their eyes & see what is really going on!” without offering condolences to the leadership of France or to the family of the person who was killed.
  • We have gone an entire week with no reference to “Crooked Hillary” or a witch hunt. In fact, there has been no “Crooked Hillary” mention since mid-April. Progress!

This Is Not Normal, May 1, 2018 – May 7, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son-in-law/senior adviser has had to update his financial disclosures more than forty times.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s administration allegedly hired a spy firm to look for incriminating information about members of the previous administration who negotiated the Iran deal.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Qatari government purchased an apartment in the president’s New York apartment building for 6.5 million dollars.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s administration has given more than 50,000 Hondurans who have been living in the United States under temporary protected status for almost twenty years twenty months to leave the country.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to anger two of the nation’s allies in a speech to the NRA by claiming that terrorist attacks in their countries could have been prevented if their citizens had been armed.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s new lawyer to potentially expose the president to legal jeopardy by contradicting the president’s claim that he did not know his former lawyer had paid off an adult film actress with whom the president had had a one-night stand, as well as claiming that the president had repaid the former lawyer. It is also NOT NORMAL for the new lawyer to, in the same interview, announce that North Korea was going to release three American prisoners which (a) does not fall under his purview and (b) has not in fact happened as of several days later.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s bodyguard seized the president’s medical files and the president’s photograph from his former personal physician’s office in Feburary 2017 after the doctor gave an interview about the president’s medical history. (Admittedly, this is a real “can I root for no one to win” situation.) It is also NOT NORMAL that the doctor now claims the president dictated the 2015 letter in which the doctor said the president would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that two aides to the director of the Environmental Protection Agency have resigned in the wake of an investigation into corruption and misuse of government funds at the agency.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • personally attack the senator whom he blames for causing his Veterans Affairs secretary nominee to withdraw his nomination;
    • refer to the White House media as “Fake News” multipple times;
    • claim that the leaked questions for him from the special counsel included “no questions on Collusion [sic],” when in fact thirteen of them did concern collusion and argue that the special counsel’s investigation had been started due to “illegally leaked classified information,” which is not in fact the case;
    • argue that he could not have obstructed justice “for a crime that never happened” (note that (a) the special counsel has filed 23 indictments and (b) legally it is possible to obstruct justice even if no one is convicted of an underlying crime) and later tweet “There is no O, it’s called Fighting Back [sic]”;
    • threaten to “use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!” with the Russia investigation;
    • fail to mention the volcano eruption in Hawaii;
    • claim that the previous administration had failed to get three hostages in North Korea released, when two of them were captured after the current president took office;
    • argue that “Democrats and liberals in Congress want to disarm law-abiding Americans at the same time they are releasing dangerous criminal aliens and savage gang members onto our streets” (that is not a reasonable characterization of either legal immigrants or undocumented immigrants);
    • argue that his nominee for CIA director is opposed because she is “too tough on terror” (in fact, the opposition is largely due to her support of torture in previous administrations); and
    • argue that the Russia investigation (or, as he put it, “this Phony Witch Hunt [sic]”) would “wrongfully impact the Mid-Term Elections [sic], which is what the Democrats always intended” and that “Republicans better get tough and smart before it is too late!”