This Is Not Normal, February 13, 2018 – February 19, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to continue to hold onto assets that receive rent from government entities (such as the U.S. Postal Service) and large foreign businesses (such as the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and the Bank of India). This is a textbook conflict of interest. A reminder: we made Jimmy Carter give up his peanut farm.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s inaugural committee paid a newly formed company established by one of the First Lady’s close friends 26 million dollars for no one seems to know what.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to take a European vacation with his wife, which was paid for by the government even though half the trip was spent sightseeing.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that yet a third White House official has left the administration because he can’t qualify for a full security clearance. While we’re on the subject, the president’s son-in-law still hasn’t qualified for his security clearance after more than a year as a senior adviser, and he is reportedly still seeing a great deal of top-secret information. Meanwhile, the son-in-law is still making changes to his financial disclosures.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the official White House story about Rob Porter, the former White House aide accused of domestic abuse, was directly contradicted by the FBI director while under oath. The FBI director, by the way, was appointed by the current president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a White House official referred to a school shooting in which fourteen students and three teachers were killed as “a distraction or a reprieve.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son, who is not a member of the administration, is giving a “foreign policy speech on Indo-Pacific relations” while on a private business trip to India.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian companies have been charged with meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
  • The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    1. falsely claim that his infrastructure plan “has received great reviews except for, of course, the Democrats”;
    2. complain yet again that the Democrats are refusing to make a deal on DACA and that DACA recipients had been “totally abandoned” (remember that the only reason DACA is an issue in 2018 is because the president rescinded the DACA executive order);
    3. imply that the “neighbors and classmates” of the Florida school shooter were somehow at fault for failing to report “bad and erratic behavior” (in fact, he had been reported at least twice);
    4. insist again that the Russian meddling in the election had no impact on the results (which is impossible to know) and that his campaign had not colluded with them;
    5. criticize the “Fake News Media” for not reporting that the Russians had started planning for the 2016 election in 2014, before he began his run for president (he actually registered his slogan and made some other preparations for a presidential campaign in 2012);
    6. blame the lack of gun control legislation on the Democrats;
    7. use the school shooting as an excuse to call for the FBI to abandon its investigation into his campaign;
    8. subtweet his own national security adviser for saying that Russia had meddled in the election without adding the president’s belief that Russia colluded with his opponent or referring to “Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems . . . the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!” (we are, alas, back to zero weeks without a “Crooked Hillary” reference);
    9. complain that “Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, thte FBI or Justice called for an investigation!” (this was money that the United States owed to Iran because of a legal claim);
    10. refer to a sitting congressman as “Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control”;
    11. falsely argue that “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election” (he did);
    12. argue that the government should stop investigating Russia’s meddling in the election because Russian wanted discord in the United States (why would the president not want to figure out how to prevent a foreign country from meddling in our elections?);
    13. finish up his meltdown over the Russia indictments by retweeting a bot, because irony is dead;
    14. criticize Oprah Winfrey for her interview of a panel of voters; and
    15. wonder aloud why the former  president did not do more to prevent Russian meddling (which might be a fair question if the current president had taken any steps to prevent such meddling or condemned Russia for meddling in the first place, but he has done neither). Also, I regret to inform you that the president has still not learned how to thread tweets.

This Is Not Normal, January 30, 2018 – February 5, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the administration to refuse to impose sanctions on Russia that were implemented in Congressional legislation that passed 517 – 5 in July.
  • Is it NOT NORMAL the the House Intelligence Committee released a one-sided, cherry-picked memo about the FISA surveillance of a 2016 presidential campaign adviser for.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that members of the majority party continue to smear non-political leaders of the CIA and the FBI who have worked under presidents of both major parties for what appear to be purely partisan reasons. It is NOT NORMAL for one representative to argue that four non-political appointees in the Justice Department should be prosecuted for treason. (Among other things, this effectively demonstrates that this particular representative does not understand the legal definition of treason.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for someone who has described himself as an informal adviser to the Kremlin to play an important role in a presidential campaign.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the Pentagon to worry that giving the president too many options on military intervention in North Korea would cause him to start a war.  It is NOT NORMAL for a member of the National Security Council to note, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, that a “limited strike on the North might help in the midterm elections.”
  • The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    1. state that his first State of the Union address was the most watched in history (it wasn’t);
    2. attempt to negotiate a DACA deal by yelling at the minority party’s Congressional leaders over social media;
    3. approvingly quote flattering stories about him in conservative press;
    4. claim that the infamous memo “totally vindicates” him (it doesn’t);
    5. randomly insult the National Health Service in the UK, prompting a response from the British prime minister (I assume this was due to a story on Fox and Friends);
    6. refer to a congressman who was critical of the memo and the trashing of the FBI as “Little” and say he was “desperate to run for higher office,” while simultaneously insulting four former leaders of the CIA and the FBI; and
    7. call the author of the memo “a man of tremendous courage and grit” and “a Great American Hero.”

Presidential Twitter Insanity, January 16, 2018 – January 22, 2018

The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to

  1. call a sitting Senator “Dicky” because he was unhappy that the senator had revealed his racist remarks about the continent of Africa to the press;
  2. repeatedly insist on the importance of the “WALL” and complain about the danger of the “Lottery,” and allege that the minority party was seeking “unchecked illegal immigration”;
  3. complain about the “Fake News Mainstream Media” and insist that the “Russian Collusion Hoax is dead,” despite the indictments and plea deals that have already emerged from it;
  4. approvingly tweet verbatim quotes from Fox and Friends;
  5. post a link to a misleading report about foreign-born commission of terrorism;
  6. throw a wrench into negotiations over an impending government shutdown by tweeting that “CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!”;
  7. complain that members of the minority party “care very little about” the military;
  8. refer to the government shutdown as “a nice present” for the anniversary of his inauguration;
  9. pretend that the protest marches on the anniversary of his inauguration were intended to “celebrate the historic milestones” of his presidency; and
  10. announce that he was going to Pennsylvania to “give [his] total support” to a candidate in a House special election, after the White House had called the trip an official presidential visit, not a campaign stop.

Source: the presidential Twitter feed.

Presidential Twitter Insanity, January 9, 2018 – January 15, 2018

The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to

  1. complain about an executive order being overturned by the Ninth Circuit;
  2. dub a Senator “Sneaky Dianne Feinstein”;
  3. charge that it was “possibly illegal” to release the transcript of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee (spoiler alert: it wasn’t illegal);
  4. refer to the investigation into his campaign’s contacts with Russia as a “the single greatest Witch Hunt in American history”;
  5. repeatedly tag a cable news shows that run stories of which he apparently approves;
  6. tout the fact that 66% of Americans are happy with the economy and omit the fact that most Americans credit Obama for it;
  7. criticize the upcoming House vote to extend the FISA Act, even though members of his own administration had gone to Capitol Hill to lobby for it, and then walk back his criticism two hours later after a talk with the Speaker of the House;
  8. repeatedly complain about the Democrats’ immigration policy;
  9. claim that he was cancelling his trip to London because he was upset about the “Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts'” when in fact he is most likely cancelling because of protests and the move of the U.S. embassy was planned by the Bush administration for security reasons;
  10. deny that he said “anything derogatory” about Haiti;
  11. use his Twitter feed to fight with the author of a book about his administration and the staff of the Wall Street Journal; and
  12. begin Martin Luther King Day with a long tweet quoting himself about immigration.

(However, I am encouraged in that I think he went a whole week without mentioning “Crooked Hillary.” Baby steps!)

Source: the Presidential Twitter feed. Scroll to the appropriate dates.

White House Counsel Knew Flynn Broke the Law, December 21, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL that the White House counsel researched the federal laws covering lying to investigators and violating the Logan Act in the first days of the current administration and warned the president about the possibility that the National Security Adviser had broken these laws. In other words, the president had been informed that the National Security Adviser was likely in legal danger before he fired the FBI director who was investigating these matters.

Source: Foreign Policy.

Complaints about Mueller Obtaining Transition Emails, December 16, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s legal team to assert that the special counsel obtained emails sent during the transition illegally and that the emails were subject to executive privilege. Transition team members signed agreements that specifically state that they have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding the emails, and executive privilege cannot be asserted until the president is actually the president, not the president-elect.

Sources: Buzzfeed, Politico. In addition, this Twitter thread isn’t really a source but I found it informative.

Presidential Tweetstorm, December 2, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL that the president responded to the charges against his former national security adviser by (a) again calling his election opponent “Crooked Hillary” (twice) (b) suggesting that the former national security adviser did not deserve to have his life destroyed for lying to the FBI (c) suggesting that the system that gave him the presidency is somehow rigged against him (d) bringing up the poor email management of his election opponent and (e) referring to the special counsel investigation that has already charged four members of his campaign as a “Witch Hunt.” Also NOT NORMAL: in an earlier tweet he also seemed to admit knowing that the former national security adviser had lied to the FBI before he fired him, which certainly would seem to help any obstruction of justice case against him.

Sources: the Presidential Twitter feed.