Tag Archives: 2016 election

Sarcasm? Is that why POTUS ‘thanked’ Putin?

It’s becoming a throw-away line, an automatic “out” for every ridiculous statement that flies out of Donald John Trump Sr.’s mouth.

The president received a direct question the other day. A reporter asked the vacationing president what he thought of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to expel 755 U.S. diplomats. Trump’s response was to “thank” Putin for reducing the U.S. diplomatic service’s payroll.

So, with that idiotic response, the president of the United States effectively told those diplomats — and their Russian allies in the U.S. mission — that they don’t matter. He didn’t thank them publicly for their service. He didn’t say a negative word about Putin’s response to our government’s decision to impose sanctions on the Russian government over its meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Oh, no. He didn’t go there.

Did he mean what he said? White House flacks said he was being “sarcastic.” Really?

Well, where is the disclaimer from the president? Why didn’t he reveal his sarcasm in the moment? Why did he in effect send the message to our Russia mission staff that they don’t matter, that their work and their years of service to the nation is of no value?

I do not believe there was a hint of sarcasm in what Donald Trump said. I believe instead that he engaged his mouth without first thinking of the consequences that his words carry.

This is yet another disgraceful demonstration of a president who “tells it like it is.”

Government is nothing like a business

We all have heard at least one political candidate say something like this: “I am going to insist that we run the government like a business.”

Donald John Trump Sr. took that boast to a spectacular level while campaigning for the presidency in 2016. He kept pointing to his business empire; he kept reminding us how rich he is; he said he would bring all of his immense business acumen into the White House, that he would get things done.

“It will be easy!” he bellowed time and again.

His election as president has shown us all — if not the president himself — that governing bears no resemblance to business.

All those “easy” tasks have become “hard.” Repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act? Exterminating the Islamic State? Reforming the federal tax code?

One man cannot do those things by himself. The president needs Congress to assist him. He needs the legislative branch to do its part. He needs to cajole and convince those who oppose him to support him.

Trump entered the political arena from a different universe. He parlayed an inheritance handed him by his father into a substantial business empire. He became the CEO of everything named “Trump.” He didn’t have to answer to anyone. Trump snapped his fingers and things got done. His sole goal was to enrich himself.

His business ventures have produced a mixed record. He’s had great success and great failures along the way.

Donald Trump brought that all of that business experience into a world that bears zero resemblance to the world that he departed.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said Trump had set “excessive expectations” on how quickly he could enact his agenda. What is so wrong with that analysis? It makes perfect sense to many of us. A man with no government experience — and who exhibits no interest in learning how government works — expects to rack up achievements in the manner he did when he was the business empire CEO.

I’ve noted for many years that running government like a business is the height of naivete. Businesses do not operate under the principle of co-equal partnerships, but that’s what Donald Trump inherited when he took that presidential oath.

The president is learning — and I use the term “learning” with extreme caution — the hard way.

‘Hoax’ probe of Trump now is getting quite serious

This is a mere hunch.

When a special counsel orders an unannounced search of a home for evidence of possible crimes involving the president of the United States, then I believe we have a serious investigation under way.

Federal agents barged into the home of former Donald J. Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort. They collected information and evidence allegedly related to the probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The president, let us remember, has said all along that Mueller’s probe is a “witch hunt,” that it is a “hoax,” that the whole “Russia thing” matter is a creation of Democrats who are still steamed at losing the 2016 presidential election.

The search conducted two weeks at Manafort’s home suggests something quite different. It represents a potentially stunning turn in the probe into whether Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election were done in collusion with the Trump campaign.

Is there an obstruction of justice charge on its way? Might there be an actual violation of the law to be discovered?

Yes, this investigation is still in its infancy. Mueller is known as a meticulous lawyer. He has hired a crack legal team. He is a former FBI director who served under presidents of both major political parties: George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama.

Is this man capable of conducting a “hoax” investigation?

Hmmm. I, uh, don’t believe so.

Will POTUS serve out his term?

The question came to me today at lunch from a fellow I’ve known for more than two decades and who I consider to be one of the smartest men in Amarillo, Texas.

“Do you think Donald Trump is going to serve his entire term as president?” asked my friend, who’s been involved in local government for four decades.

My quick answer was “I think it’s 70-30 that he does but those odds are shrinking.” By that I mean the gap between survival and non-survival is going to become narrow as the special counsel assigned to investigate matters involving the president continues his probe.

I have not a single thing on which to base that percentage estimate, other than my gut and my proverbial trick knee.

I am watching along with millions of Americans the flailing of the president as he tries to achieve his objectives — whatever the hell they might be. The dysfunction is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in a presidential administration.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, meanwhile, is examining the Russia matter and his probe well might delve into other issues not related directly to whether the Russians meddled in our 2016 presidential election or whether the Trump campaign colluded with them.

Donald Trump is at the center of all this. He’s not used to this kind of scrutiny. Nor is he accustomed to being challenged at every turn by political foes or by the media.

I told my friend that every human being has his or her limits. We don’t yet know where those limits exist with Donald Trump. Does the president have a limitless capacity to suffer the indignities that governing in a complicated political system inflict on him? After all, this self-proclaimed business genius is new to this game of politics, government and public service.

My buddy is as aghast as I am, moreover, that this man even got elected in the first place. “What have we done?” he asked, obviously rhetorically.

We exchanged a few more thoughts on this totally unpleasant subject before heading back to our lives.

Bear in mind this, though, about the “prediction” I made. One is that I no longer predict seriously political outcomes. I never thought, for instance, that Hillary Clinton would run for the U.S. Senate in 2000 at the end of her husband’s two terms as president; she did.

Nor did I ever think Donald John Trump Sr. would be nominated by the Republican Party and then be elected president in 2016. He was.

Many Americans were wrong about the outcome of this past year’s election, which makes me quiver at the thought of predicting with any kind of certainty whether this clown will survive the ongoing onslaught that awaits.

Open wide, Mr. President, and swallow this bill

Congress has just force-fed Donald J. Trump a heaping helping of his least-favorite veggie, chased down with a bitter concoction of political reality.

The president signed a bill that imposes tough new sanctions on Russia. He doesn’t like the bill. He signed it anyway, then took a series of shots at Congress for — as the president implied — undermining executive authority to conduct foreign policy.

Poor guy. What lawmakers have done is hold him more accountable for the way he deals with Russia, the nation that meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Trump continues to remain virtually silent on the meddling matter. He has said utterly nothing in public about the harsh retaliation that Vladimir Putin recently took in response to the sanctions bill; the Russian president ordered the expulsion of 755 U.S. diplomats and foreign service staffers. Trump’s reaction? Silence, nothing.

So now we have imposed more sanctions on Russia. The president needs congressional authority to lighten them, which gets under Trump’s paper-thin skin.

He lashed out at Congress for its inability to approve a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and said he, alone, is able to negotiate better deals with foreign powers than those nincompoops on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, the probe into Russia’s meddling continues. The president needs to let that investigation proceed full throttle. If it produces nothing, then Donald Trump can crow himself hoarse. If it comes up with something, um, incriminating, then he has to deal with whatever consequences fall into his lap.

If the president isn’t going to speak out on behalf of our electoral system, then it behooves Congress to articulate a nation’s outrage. That is what lawmakers have done with this sanctions bill — and they have forced it down the president’s throat. Good for them!

Is the Trump-Putin bromance over … finally?

Donald John Trump Sr. and Vladimir Putin once were thought to be made for each other.

One of them is a tough guy; the other seems enamored of tough guys. Putin is the former; Trump would be the latter.

Now, though, their relationship has taken a turn for the worst. Congress enacted a tough new sanctions protocol against Russia — as well as against North Korea — that prohibits the president from scrapping them without congressional approval.

Trump says he’ll sign the sanctions bill.

Putin responded this weekend by ordering the removal of 755 American diplomats from Russia, dramatically reducing the U.S. presence in that country. The Russian president seems to think his response is equivalent to the U.S. expelling of 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation for the Russians’ meddling in our 2016 presidential election.

It’s not at all proportional.

The question remains: Will the U.S. president stand firm or will he roll over?

Trump has been maddeningly reluctant to call the Russians out for their interference in our election. He keeps equivocating by suggesting that “it could be anyone” other than the Russians. He dismisses U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment that the Russians acted alone.

Will see how this plays out. My hope is that Trump awakens from his infatuation with Putin and concludes that the Russians aren’t our friends — and that the two leaders have wildly differing views on their personal relationship.

POTUS turns AG into sympathetic character

Donald John Trump has done the seemingly impossible: He has managed to turn U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions into a sympathetic character.

The president has launched into another disgraceful Twitter tirade against the AG, chastising him for refusing to prosecute Hillary Rodham Clinton and for recusing himself from “the Russia thing” that hangs like a summer storm cloud over the Trump administration.

Trump continues to bash Sessions, apparently seeking his resignation so he can appoint someone to his bidding, which apparently includes sweeping the Russia probe away and prosecuting the candidate he defeated in the 2016 presidential election.

Sessions couldn’t possibly lead an unbiased investigation into the Russia matter, which involves questions into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian government goons in seeking to meddle in our electoral process. Sessions — Trump’s first declared supporter in the U.S. Senate — was a key player in the president’s campaign and his transition. Moreover, there remain questions about Sessions’s own Russia involvement.

Sessions is — or was — too close to the president.

As for prosecuting Hillary Clinton, the FBI found nothing on which to mount a “credible” prosecution; nor did congressional investigative committees; and nor did the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and former campaign chief Paul Manafort on the promise she had dirt on Hillary.

We are left now with the spectacle of the president of the United States shaming his AG and seeking to punish his former political opponent.

Which president has done such a thing? I can think of one: the current occupant of the nation’s highest office … the guy who continues to disgrace that office every single day.

Trump going to war with his ‘friends’

Donald J. Trump’s latest Twitter tirade takes aim at a most fascinating target: his fellow Republicans.

The president is now threatening reprisals against GOP members of Congress who fail to rise to his defense against growing questions about whether he broke the law while winning the presidency.

I guess I’m slow on the uptake. I am having difficulty imagining what in the world Trump hopes to accomplish by issuing these threats.

Some of his fellow Republicans are questioning the circumstances surrounding the president’s relationships with Russians who — according to U.S. intelligence experts — sought to meddle in our 2016 election.

“It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The president is going to need these folks. All of them, it seems. Yet he keeps pounding away at those upon he must depend.

Congressional Democrats are long gone. They aren’t going to stand up for a single Trump initiative, nor will they give him a break on the Russia investigation taking shape within the special counsel’s office and on congressional committees.

Trump also wrote: “As the phony Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!”

This message has a ring of truth to it. Yes, Democrats are laughing as Trump and the Republicans keep tripping over themselves and each other while trying to fend off the criticism.

And what about the Russians? You’re damn right they’re laughing. They have accomplished their prime objectives, according to U.S. intelligence analysts: Their preferred candidate won the 2016 election and they also have managed to cast serious doubt on the integrity of the U.S. electoral system.

Tax returns might reveal the whole truth

Here they come again.

Those still-missing Donald J. Trump tax returns have returned to front row of discussion topics relating to the Russian probe into the president’s 2016 campaign.

Trump hasn’t released them. He has broken a 40-year streak of disclosures from presidential candidates. He keeps saying he’s “under audit” by the Internal Revenue Service.

But wait! Special counsel Robert Mueller is now thought to be examining the Trump business empire’s dealings that might have something to do with the Russian government, which has been linked to allegations that it sought to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome.

Won’t those tax returns tell the public whether Trump’s businesses had any skin in the game? Won’t they reveal the truth? Couldn’t they possibly clear the air? Might they tell us that Trump has been truthful, that he has no business dealings with Russia?

Or, might they tell us something else?

I know I’m repeating myself. That’s too bad. Those tax returns need to go before the public.

Dear Mr. POTUS: Let Mueller do his job

Donald J. Trump requires a lesson in government. Yep, the president of the United States does not understand how many things work.

Take the special counsel hired by the U.S. Department of Justice to examine the president’s potential ties to the Russian government and whether there might be some collusion between that government and the president’s winning campaign in 2016.

He is rattling some sabers, threatening to fire special counsel Robert Mueller if he looks into the Trump family’s financial dealings.

Here’s where the lesson might kick in.

The special counsel has wide latitude to take the examination wherever it leads. Does the president recall what occurred when an earlier special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, began examining a real estate matter involving President and Mrs. Clinton? He sniffed around and then learned about a young White House intern. Starr then learned about a relationship she was having with the president. He decided to ask the president some questions about it. He summoned him to a federal grand jury; the president violated the oath he took to tell the truth; he then was impeached.

That’s what happens, Mr. President. Special counsels are within their legal authority to look where they can find to determine the truth. Indeed, an examination of family business dealings well might help the public learn the whole truth about the relationship between the Trump empire and the Russian government. If it finds nothing there, then Mueller’s office can clear the president.

Technically, the president cannot summarily fire the special counsel. He has to ask the Justice Department to do it. Indeed, a leading congressional Republican, Rep. Mike McCaul of Texas, has warned the president about getting rid of Mueller. If he does it, the president faces a bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill.

Let the process continue, Mr. President. You don’t seem to know the trouble you would purchase if you act foolishly.