This week, which is not yet over, may already be the most disgraceful one in the in the 228-year-long history of the American presidency. Considering the ignorance and dysfunction that have characterized every day of Trump’s first six months in office, that’s saying something. So many ignorant, harmful, and absurd things have happened that it’s hard to keep up, but consider this list of what has transpired in just the last few days.
A bellicose Trump tweet so alarmed Pentagon generals that for a few hours, they thought the president had just declared war on North Korea.
Trump also used Twitter to declare that “after consulting with my generals and military experts,” he was banning transgender Americans from serving in the military. But it turns out he had neither consulted with nor even informed either his national security team or the Defense Department.
Top military commanders, who depend on 15,000 transgender soldiers, many serving in critical positions, said they will take no action on this order until they hear directly from Trump and figure out how the hell to handle this. And several reliably conservative Senators and congressmen, including Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, condemned Trump’s order.
Trump continued his cruel public evisceration of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, drawing criticism from right-wingers including Breitbart, the Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh, and Tucker Carlson, who had long been his most vocal apologists.
As Mitch McConnell tried, and failed, to find enough votes to pass any one of several morally repugnant health care bills through the Senate, Trump threatened Republican senators about the consequences of failure while demonstrating his complete lack of understanding about the complexities of health insurance and federal health-care policy.
After Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski cast a critical no vote on health care early in the week, Trump dispatched Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to threaten her with the withdrawal of support for several federal projects crucial to her state of Alaska. But Trump and Zinke failed to take into account that Murkowski is chairman of the subcommittee that controls Interior’s budget, is chairman of the committe that controls the legislation it wants, and is thus in a position to make Zinke’s life miserable. She promptly and indefinitely postponed a hearing on a bill Zinke badly wants. Asked if this was in retalliation, she said no. Wink, wink!
Newly minted White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who has no qualifications whatsoever for his new job, took to Twitter to complain that his finance disclosure report had been “leaked” to the press and that that this was “a felony.” And he all but accused White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus of being the leaker. But the report was, of course, a public document. That’s why it’s is called a “disclosure.”
Scaramucci also called New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza and demanded to know who had “leaked” the fact that Scaramucci, Sean Hannity, and former Fox News exec. Bill Shine were dining at the White House with Trump, calling the harmless news report “a major catastrophe for the American country.” (Hint to Scaramucci: the “America country” is the United States.) When Lizza refused to disclose his source, Scaramucci said he’d just have to fire the entire White House communications staff to root out the leaker. During this conversation, Scaramucci unleashed a tirade against Priebus and White House adviser Steve Bannon, saying among other things that Bannon sucks his own (insert dirty word here.) Scaramucci, who proudly goes by the nickname The Mouch, laced his tirade with an abundance of gutter words, some of which are rarely heard outside of biker bars and mob-owned strip clubs. Lizza taped, and then reported, the conversation.
After claiming during the campaign that Sen. John McCain was not a hero because he was captured in Vietnam, Trump declared him “a hero” when the Senator returned days after brain surgery to cast a procedural vote on health legislation this week. But when McCain cast the deciding vote that doomed repeal of Obamacare early this morning, Trump turned on him again. Listening to Trump is like listening to Gollum/Smeagle: “Nice Hobitses.” . . . “Kill them! Kill them both!”
Trump hinted that he might fire Sessions and replace him by making a recess appointment when the Senate adjourns for summer recess. GOP Senator Lindsay Graham responded that if he did so, there’d be “holy hell to pay,” and senators on both sides of the aisle are talking about keeping the Senate in session to make a recess appointment impossible.
With Trump scheming to fire special counsel Robert Muller (which is what trying to get rid of Sessions is all about), Senator Graham and Independent Senator Angus King said they would push through legislation to make it illegal for any president to fire a special counsel investigating his administration unless a federal court finds that the president had just cause. Graham says he has support for this on both sides of the aisle. A host of other legislators warned that firing Muller would set off a “constitutional crisis” and hinted at the possibility of impeachment proceedings.
The House and Senate both overwhelmingly passed bills that not only increase sanctions against Russia for meddling in the U.S. election but that prohibit the President from easing sanctions without permission of Congress. Trump has threatened a veto, but the bills passed by such huge margins (98 to 2 in the Senate) that overturning a veto appears to be all but certain. The measures are a clear indication that Senators and House members on both sides of the aisle do not trust Trump to deal with Russia.
Trump, furious about the ongoing Russia investigation, continued his attack on the integrity of the FBI, including acting director Andrew McCabe, whose unforgivable sin is that the Clintons once contributed to McCabe’s wife’s political ambitions in Virginia. (Trump, of course, contributed to many Democrats, including the Clintons, before he ran for president.)
At the Boy Scouts of America’s annual Jamboree, Trump made a speech that was both age-inappropriate and laced with vituperative partisan rhetoric that was obviously unsuitable to the occasion. The Boy Scouts of America apologized for his remarks.
Reports are circulating that Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, is complaining that he is routinely “undercut,” and that some Trump cabinet members, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, are so disturbed by White House dysfunction in general and Trump’s irrational behavior in particular that they are considering quitting. (Tillerson denies this.)
After proclaiming during the campaign that he was a great friend of the LGBT community, Trump continued his assault on them, going well beyond his announced ban on transgender Americans serving in the military. His justice department filed a friend of the court brief in a civil case, arguing that federal civil rights laws give LGBT Americans no protection against discrimination in the workplace. And Trump named Kansas pol Sam Brownback, a noted homophobe, his International Ambassador for Religious Freedom.
Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser, Jared Kushner, and his former campaign adviser, Paul Manafort, both testified in private before senate committees whose investigations into the Trump-Russia affair seem to be picking up steam.
The Justice Department publicly identified Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch and a former Manafort business associate, as “an upper-echelon associate of Russian organized crime.” U.S. authorities are seeking his extradition to face charges that he tried to bribe Indian officials in a scheme to acquire titanium which he would then sell to Boeing.
In a campaign-style speech in Youngstown, Ohio, Trump made this absurd claim: “With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held the office.”
And in a lighter note, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who should have known better since she is White House press secretary, wore a solid green dress in a televised press briefing. In effect, she was wearing a “green screen,” allowing internet pranksters to impose all sorts of images, from humorous to scatological to scathing, onto her form.
And that’s just off the top of my head. What did I miss?