Why is it so hard?
I think I’ve figured out why it is so hard to get these blogs written. I have a routine. I’ll have an idea, spend half a day thinking about it and doing any necessary research. Then I’ll spend the afternoon writing. Then I sleep on it and the next morning, edit it with fresh eyes and look for a visual or two to insert. Easy, right?
The problem is I keep writing about Donald Trump. He dominates the news and my thoughts. I simply can’t believe what he says. I can’t believe what he does or tries to do. I can’t believe how many people passively remain quiet or openly support his actions. So I write. But overnight, he does something worse. Day in and day out. Now, come the morning, I’m faced with the dilemma, finish the piece from the day before, or drop everything to tackle the latest horror? I’m frozen in the headlights of Trump.
Just review the week past. Trump kept his former campaign chief, Corey Lewandowski, from saying much in Congressional testimony invoking the traditional rules about privileged communications with the president even though Lewandowski never worked in the White House. Trump blocked two former aides, Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn, from testifying altogether. Trump argued in a lawsuit filed against New York he is exempt from answering legal summons or subpoena or being subject to any review while he holds office.
Trump fired John Mitnick, general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security, reportedly because Mitnick pushed against what he perceived as administration policies of questionable legality.
Then Trump headed to California, where he spoke at intimate fundraisers hosted by rich Republican donors who did their best to hide their identities for fear of backlash in the very blue state. Trump also pretty much declared war on our most populous state, suggesting the federal government would step in to take care of the homeless problem in California cities he says are “going to hell.” I’m not sure what legal authority he cites for that action but remember Trump has stated more than once that the Constitution gives him the “right as President to do whatever I want to.” Apparently the Environmental Protection Agency is somehow involved.
Speaking of the EPA, Trump’s next move this week also involved that agency, as well as most of the Department of Transportation and also involved a swipe at California. With the stroke of a pen Trump withdrew the authority of California to set its own standards for auto emissions. I remember the air in Los Angeles in the 60’s and California’s efforts over the last 60 years to clean it up have produced remarkable results. They have been adopted by more than a dozen other states, have produced better, more fuel efficient automobiles, and many of the major auto manufacturers now work with California to help set the rules.
So why is Trump against cleaner air and more fuel efficient cars? Because it’s California, that’s why. California is the state with an economy that is the envy of most of the red states where Trump finds his support. California sends a lot more money to Washington than it gets back. But California is not in the Trump camp. So, dirty air here we come. Or maybe not, California, joined by 25 other states and two cities is suing to keep Trump’s hands off their air. We shall see.
There are, from time to time, a few glimmers of hope in the storm clouds. One brave soul in one of our intelligence agencies appears to have come forward and filed a whistle-blower complaint, claiming to have observed an improper communication between someone and a foreign leader which the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community has found to be “an urgent matter” which should be reported, as required by law, to the oversight committees of Congress.
That Inspector General is Michael Atkinson, a Trump appointee confirmed by the Senate! But the IG has been blocked from turning over the information by the Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire. Maguire was also placed in his position by Trump, but because he is only an “acting” department head, he has not and will not face Senate confirmation. This situation led Atkinson to write two extraordinary letters to Congressman Adam Schiff, the Chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence, who issued a subpoena for the information. Maguire is defying the subpoena. He is reportedly resting on advice from the Department of Justice, run by Attorney General William Barr. Remember him?
This will eventually be sorted out in court, and considering the current roster of Trump appointees to the federal bench I’m not taking any bets on the outcome. The whistle-blower law is complicated, although the intent seems clear even to this non-lawyer commentator.
But here’s the best part. While we don’t have the actual documents, it is being widely reported that the whistle-blower’s concern centers around conversations Trump himself had with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, demanding Ukraine investigate activities of Hunter Biden, son of Joseph Biden, the former Vice-President and leading contender for the Democratic party nomination to oppose Trump in 2020.
Hunter Biden’s Ukraine connection has already been reviewed and allegations of wrongdoing found to be without merit. This is one of the Republican’s false flag defamation attacks. Remember the never ending Benghazi investigations which produced nothing in the way of evidence? Trump syncopates like the increasingly manic Rudy Giuliani continue to push this disinformation campaign, without offering any proof. Trump’s alleged plea to Zelenskyy came at a time when Trump was holding up $250 million dollars in military aid Ukraine desperately needed in its battles with Russia.
David Frum of The Atlantic summed it up well, tweeting Trump essentially told the president of Ukraine, “Hi, look sorry your country is being invaded, but before I release the military aid Congress voted for you to defend yourselves against the adversary that also helped make me president, I need you to fabricate a smear against my probable presidential election opponent.”
Trump of course has tweeted his innocence, but refuses to release a transcript of the conversations, or forward the whistle-blower’s complaint to Congress for investigation. Republicans in Congress who are willing to speak, most are avoiding questions on this subject, only say there are no facts implicating Trump, all while failing to address the fact that Trump is suppressing the facts! Trump’s tweet also makes it clear his denial has nothing to do with the idea that such an act would have been wrong. It only says he didn’t do it because he knew others were listening in and he would be caught!
So what have we here? Bribery? Extortion? A willingness to place personal political considerations over the national security needs of the United States and an ally? I think this issue is rising to the level where even Nancy Pelosi might wake up.
Just as I was ready to post this I got a news flash that Trump had just told reporters he could end the war in Afghanistan quickly but “tens of millions of people would die.” I’m taking two aspirin and heading off for a nap.