Or, at least, maybe it’ll be a less awful year than the last one.
These are all from this month.
Ryan Cooper,Â The comical incompetence of President Trump
Steeve Chapman, Trump’s Incurable Incompetence
Hmm, there may be a theme here …
Days into a partial government shutdown that has left tens of thousands ofÂ federal workers furloughed, President Donald Trump and his close allies have begun feeling more confident about the political perch they occupy.
In their eyes, a prolonged stalemate will likely fracture voters along traditional partisan lines, and the ultimate outcome will be a debate waged largely on the presidentâ€™s terms. Increasingly, they see an upside in forcing likely incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi to have to spend the first days, if not weeks, of the next Congress engaged in an argument over border wall funding rather than her preferred agenda: a mix of sweeping ethics and election reforms and congressional oversight. And they continue to believe that a conversation around immigration and border security is in the presidentâ€™s best political interests.
Even better, according to Politico, Trump’s people think that the shutdown fight will distract Democrats from investigating Trump. Of course, these are the same people who managed the recent war zone visit fiasco. Being able to walk and chew gum at the same time is, one suspects, beyond their comprehension.
What hand is Trump holding? Especially when polls tell us the public blames Trump for the shutdown, the public disagrees with Trump’s funding ultimatum, and the public does not support building the bleeping wall. And even a writer for the right-wing Washington Examiner admitted that “border security and the migrant caravan, were big losers with critical voting blocs, and largely responsible for the late-breaking Democratic wave that swept Republicans from power in the House.” So, basically, this is what they’re betting on.
House Democrats â€” increasingly convinced theyâ€™re winning the shutdown fight with President Donald Trump â€” are plotting ways to reopen the government while denying the president even a penny more for his border wall when they take power Jan. 3.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her top lieutenants are considering several options that would refuse Trump the $5 billion heâ€™s demanded for the wall and send hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees back to work, according to senior Democratic sources.
While the strategy is fluid, House Democrats hope to pass a funding bill shortly after members are sworn in. They believe that would put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to follow suit. And theyâ€™re confident that their political leverage will only increase the longer the shutdown lasts â€” a notion that some GOP leaders privately agree with.
Indeed, the specter of a lengthy shutdown could hurt Trumpâ€™s already damaged image more than it would Democrats â€” especially because he claimed ownership of the crisis two weeks ago. Democrats believe the shutdown battle â€” combined with the volatility in financial markets and special counsel Robert Mueller closing in on Trump â€” exacerbates the appearance of a cornered president acting out of his own political self-interest instead of the needs of the American public.
I also agree with Paul Waldman:
So the only answer may be for everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, to ignore President Trump. Act as though he doesnâ€™t exist and this has nothing to do with him.
By which I mean that members of Congress should shut their ears to Trumpâ€™s tweets and threats and fulminations, pass something that House Democrats and Senate Republicans can live with, and then dare Trump to veto it. Because I doubt he has the guts.
Why would Republicans go along with this?
This plan of shutting out the White House requires only one person’s cooperation: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If he were to decide it’s the best way forward, he and Nancy Pelosi could work out the details in an afternoon. Fortunately, McConnell is utterly unemotional and completely cynical. He doesn’t particularly care about whether Trump is happy, or whether the president gets a “win.” McConnell’s only real concern is maintaining his own, and the GOP’s, hold on power in the Senate. If he decides that the best way to do that is to end this shutdown and dial back the state of permanent crisis, that’s what he’ll do.
I don’t think we’re there yet, though, and I say this because the Official Republican Party Weathervane, Miz Lindsey Graham, is still vowing “No wall money, no deal.”
Even so, it should be beyond obvious, even to members of Congress, that Trump cannot be reasoned with and cannot be dealt with.
The only way to deal with Donald Trump is to not do deals with Donald Trump. The private sector has learned this; when will Congress?
For his entire career, our dealmaker in chief has relied on a not-so-secret technique for extracting supposedly good deals: He agrees to a given set of terms and then, at the last minute, reneges on them.
He has done this toÂ small businessesÂ around the country, refusing to pay for cabinetry, catering, real estate commissions, and other goods and services after theyâ€™ve already been delivered.Â His companies have also filed for bankruptcyÂ six times, helping him wriggle out of bills. Given this reputation, itâ€™s hardly surprising that vendors and lenders alike ultimately learned it was wiser not to do business with him at all, rather than count on him to keep his word.
Trump’s quickie trip to Iraq yesterday would have been a comedy of errors, except that some of the errors could have consequences that are not so funny.
How many ways did he screw up?Â Let’s start with a small matter.
Video footage and the written report of Trump’s visit with service members in Iraq showed the President signing “Make America Great Again” hats and an embroidered patch that read “Trump 2020.” …
…Â Department of Defense guidelines say that “active duty personnel may not engage in partisan political activities and all military personnel should avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval, or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign, or cause.”
The questions arose because the hats, emblazoned with the President’s signature political slogan, appeared to be brand new and because there are rules against military personnel participating in political activities while in uniform.
The White House and the military establishment are taking the position that no rules were violated because they say so. Apparently it wasn’t a violation because the troops had purchased the hats themselves. Where? From the post PX? Is Trump making money selling Trump merchandise through the millitary?
Well, of course, the troops have lots of money now to pay for MAGA hats.
Trump also told the troops, falsely, that they hadnâ€™t received a pay raise in 10 years before he took office (theyâ€™ve received one each of the last 10 years) and that heâ€™d secured for them a pay raise of â€œmore than 10 percentâ€ (service members will see a 2.6 percent pay bump in 2019, up from 2.4 percent in 2018).Â â€œWe had plenty of people that came up,â€ began the president, â€œthey said, â€˜You know, we can make it smaller. We can make it 3 percent. We can make it 2 percent. We can make it 4 percent.â€™ I said, â€˜No. Make it 10 percent. Make it more than 10 percent.â€™â€
Though the trip had reportedly been planned for weeks, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was invited to meet the president only two hours in advance, and was unable to make it to the event. The two leaders spoke over the phone instead, and the prime minister later said that the meeting was canceled because of aÂ disagreementÂ over how to conduct the session.
It gets worse:
PresidentÂ Donald Trump‘s surprise trip toÂ IraqÂ may have quieted criticism at home that he had yet to visit troops in a combat zone, but it has infuriated Iraqi politicians who on Thursday demanded the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
“Arrogant” and an “a violation of national sovereignty” were but a few examples of the disapproval emanating from Baghdad following Trump’s meeting Wednesday with U.S. servicemen and women at the al-Asad Airbase.
Sabah al Saadi, the leader of the Islah parliamentary bloc, called for an emergency session of parliament â€œto discuss this blatant violation of Iraqâ€™s sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits: The U.S. occupation of Iraq is over.â€
The Bina bloc, Islahâ€™s rival in parliament and led by Iran-backed militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, also objected to Trumpâ€™s trip to Iraq.
â€œTrumpâ€™s visit is a flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms and shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government,â€ said a statement from Bina.
Yeah, that went well. But what else could have gone wrong? Oh, yeah. The Moron in Chief not only revealed on his Twitter account that a covert SEAL team was deployed in Iraq, he posted photos of the team. Now the whole world knows what the SEALS look like.
The presidentâ€™s video posted Wednesday did not shield the faces of special operation forces.Â Current and former Defense Department officials toldÂ NewsweekÂ that information concerning what units are deployed and where is almost always classified and is a violation of operational security. …
…Â The pool report went on to say that Trump paused to take a selfie with U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Kyu Lee, who said he was the chaplain for SEAL Team Five, based out of Coronado, California. The chaplain said Trump told him: â€œHey, in that case, letâ€™s take a picture.â€
After Air Force One left the Iraqi airspace, Trump posted a video to his Twitter account of his time spent with American forces during his visit to Iraq. Lee Greenwoodâ€™s â€œGod Bless the USA,â€ plays over the video and shows the president and the first lady posing for pictures with service members that appear to be from SEAL Team Five. The special warfare operators are dressed in full battle gear and wearing night vision goggles.
The video cuts to team members shaking the presidentâ€™s hand before cutting to other special operations personnel and support troops.
Newsweek also says that no one at the Pentagon or White House will return calls regarding this incident. Well, maybe their faces were partly obscured by their helmets.
â€” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2018
Trump seems to think he deserves combat pay for the excursion.
Trump confirmed to reporters this week that safety was one of his concerns in traveling to Iraq.Â â€œI had concerns for the institution of the presidency because â€” not for myself, personally,â€ he said. â€œI had concerns for the first lady, I will tell you. But if you would have seen what we had to go through, with the darkened plane, with all windows closed, with no lights on whatsoever, anywhere â€” pitch black. Iâ€™ve never seen it. Iâ€™ve been in many airplanes â€” all types and shapes and sizes. Iâ€™ve never seen anything like it.â€
Poor baby. Maybe you should have paid another doctor to say you can’t fly on darkened airplanes because of bone spurs.
We have just had the worst Christmas Eve trading day ever. So much winning.
Earlier today, Trump tweeted this.
The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They donâ€™t have a feel for the Market, they donâ€™t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders. The Fed is like a powerful golfer who canâ€™t score because he has no touch – he canâ€™t putt!
â€” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2018
Somehow I don’t think our problem is the Federal Reserve.
Emily Flitter writes for the New York Times:Â Stocks Close in on Bear Market as Trump and Mnuchin Fuel Christmas Eve Drop.
Wall Street extended its losses on Monday as President Trump continued to lash out at the Federal Reserve and an unusual weekend statement about the health of Americaâ€™s financial system by Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, unnerved investors rather than calming them. …
…Â Â Mr. Trump has become increasingly focused on the idea that the Fed chairman, Jerome H. Powell,Â is to blameÂ for the marketsâ€™ slide after the central bank raised interest rates last week and indicated that it might keep doing so next year given signs of strength in Americaâ€™s economy.
Stocks, already falling before Mr. Trumpâ€™s tweet, dropped further right after even as investors were still trying to interpret Mr. Mnuchinâ€™s late Sunday statement.
The Treasury secretary said he had contacted the chief executives of six major banks to ensure that their operations were running smoothly, and that they had â€œample liquidity available for lending.â€
Although the assurance came during a rough run for stocks in the United States, analysts and economists have not cited a lack of cash for lending as a significant reason for the downturn.
Washington officials typically make such assurances only at times of financial crisis.
Instead of soothing investors, Mr. Mnuchinâ€™s comments, along with Mr. Trumpâ€™s attacks on the Fed, added to a nervousness already running high as the stock decline continued to accelerate.
When the new year begins next week, President Trump will have an acting chief of staff, an acting secretary of defense, an acting attorney general, an acting EPA administrator, no interior secretary, and no ambassador to the United Nations. The officials originally in all those positions have either been fired or have quit in various measures of disgust or scandal. His former campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, national security adviser and personal lawyer have all pleaded guilty to crimes. His campaign, his transition, his foundation and his business are all under investigation. The United Statesâ€™ allies areÂ horrifiedÂ at the chaos Trump has brought to our foreign policy. The stock market is experiencingÂ wild swingsÂ as investors are gripped with fear over what might be coming and what Trump might do to make it worse â€” a situation alarming enough that the treasury secretaryÂ felt the needÂ to call up the CEOs of major banks to assure them that everything is under control.
And, oh yeah, the government is shut down.
This, my friends, is exactly what we were afraid of when Trump somehow managed to get elected president two years ago. This is what we warned you about.
So much winning.
Meanwhile, the government shutdown isÂ expectedÂ to last into the new year, a shutdown that is happening because a bunch of Fox News and talk-radio hosts criticized the president for not being tough enough in fighting for his ludicrous border wall. Trump, always deeply insecure and eager to feed his baseâ€™s endless rage and desire for conflict, responded quickly to the accusation of weakness. â€œHe spends ever more time in front of a television, often retreating to his residence out of concern that he is being watched too closely,â€Â reportsÂ the New York Times.
I’d make a Captain Queeg joke except that we’ve been in Captain Queeg territory for quite a long time already, and it doesn’t seem to matter.
The Republicans got big irresponsible tax cuts, plus Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. But how long are they going to stand aside and watch Trump flounder and bluster out of their control?
The latest on the coming shutdown: Several hours ago the House dutifully passed a bill giving Trump his $5 billion on border wall funding. It is now with the Senate. Under current Senate rules it needs 60 votes to pass, which it will not get. Trump is calling on Mitch McConnell to kill the filibuster and pass the thing with a simple majority. So far, it doesn’t appear Mitch is willing to do that, assuming he could get the 50 votes. Trump is promising a “very long” shutdown. This would be very unpopular with the public and a disaster for the Republicans.
The stock market went down again today.
Yesterday Putin released this statement:
â€œWith regards to the victory over ISIL, on the whole I agree with the president of the United States.â€
The Russian leader expressed skepticism, however, that the United States would follow through on Mr. Trumpâ€™s pronouncement, noting that the government had similarly pledged to pull out of Afghanistan by 2014 but still stations forces there.
â€œWe donâ€™t see any signs yet of the withdrawal of U.S. troops,â€ he said. â€œHow long has the United States been in Afghanistan? Seventeen years? And almost every year they say theyâ€™re pulling out their troops.â€
Right on cue, today Trump announced we were withdrawing half our troops from Afghanistan. Martin Longman pointed out that candidate Trump was calling for withdrawing from Syria at the same time he was trying to close the Trump Tower Moscow deal. Can he be more obvious? However, I also heard the theory that perhaps Trump thinks he can use the money saved by reducing deployments to build the wall.
The Associated Press is reporting that Trump decided to withdraw troops in a phone call with Turkish President Erdogan.
The Dec. 14 call came a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed to have the two presidents discuss Erdoganâ€™s threats to launch a military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels in northeast Syria, where American forces are based. The NSC then set up the call.
Pompeo, Mattis and other members of the national security team prepared a list of talking points for Trump to tell Erdogan to back off, the officials said.
But the officials said Trump, who had previously accepted such advice and convinced the Turkish leader not to attack the Kurds and put U.S. troops at risk, ignored the script. Instead, the president sided with Erdogan.
Right now, Erdogan is probably kicking himself he didn’t ask if he could invade Greece.
What I think: As much as I believed the original deployments to Afghanistan and Syria were a bad idea, I also think that withdrawals need to be negotiated carefully and with the interests of many alliances in mind. Trump’s capricious acts are, I fear, doing long-term damage also.
The beginning of the end of the Trump presidency came and went a long time ago. I have never wavered from my oft-stated convictions that (a) Trump will not finish out his term, and (b), the end will be triggered by a presidential meltdown that forces the Vichy Republicans in Washington to mount an insurrection â€” if only to save their own asses, not the country. This week was a big step toward that endgame, and surely one of the most remarkable weeks in American history.
We have a president of the United States who is moving to shut down the government at the same moment that he is inviting Americaâ€™s adversaries to breach its defenses. The withdrawals in Syria and Afghanistan, combined with the exit of the last top administration official who aspired to serve the national interest rather than Trumpâ€™s, invites hostile moves against the United States from ISIS, Russia, China, North Korea, and the Taliban. This has even grabbed the cynical Mitch McConnellâ€™s attention: He has declared himself â€œdistressedâ€ by Mattisâ€™s resignation, a major step in rhetorical escalation in a party where Susan Collinsâ€™s pathetic periodic expressions of â€œconcernâ€ are what pass for criticism of an outlaw president. Marco Rubioâ€™s words were stronger, a move to protect his viability for another presidential run, but more outrage from more GOP leaders will follow. What will move them is not necessarily Trumpâ€™s hara-kiri isolationist agenda but the damage his behavior both abroad and at home is inflicting on the financial markets. The sheer uncertainty of a chaos presidency is pushing the Dow to its worst December since the Great Depression. McConnell and his humiliated departing peer Paul Ryan have tolerated Trumpâ€™s racism, misogyny, and nativism, his wreckage of American alliances, his kleptocracy, and his allegiance to Vladimir Putin. They have tolerated as well his con job on the coal miners, steelworkers, and automobile-industry workers of his base. But theyâ€™ll be damned if they will stand for a president who threatens the bottom line of the GOP donor class.
Going forward, the only power that could save Trump from the abyss are Senate Republicans, and he’s done a fine job pissing them off lately. SeeÂ What should worry Trump most: Republican allies are turning on himÂ andÂ Trump Is Spoiling his Own Jury Pool in the Senate. And see also this:
President Trump is presently working on almost all fronts to justify his removal. For Republican senators, nothing is more damning that his foreign policy decision-making. Itâ€™s highly doubtful that this will factor into any actual articles of impeachment, but his impulsiveness and cluelessness and doubtful loyalty are going to at least privately give the senators comfort that theyâ€™re justified in pulling the plug.
But hold on — today it was announced Ruth Bader Ginsburg had cancerous growths removed from her lung. She is expected to recover, but damn, not another Trump Supreme Court pick. Please.
Yesterday Greg Sargent wrote that House Republicans were doing their best to save Trump from himself.
AsÂ the New York Times reports, now that Democrats have refused Trumpâ€™s demand for $5 billion in money for his border wall, Republicans are â€œcasting about for ways to choreograph a compromise that would protect Mr. Trumpâ€™s ego and still be broadly acceptable.â€ …
… Democrats arenâ€™t his only obstacle: The GOP-controlled House has refused to vote on a measure containing the $5 billion Trump wants, because many Republicans are uncertain it can pass. But Trumpâ€™s insistence that â€œwe will win on the Wallâ€ is a key tell that this is really just about Trump winning.
Indeed, the need to create the impression that TrumpÂ isnâ€™t losingÂ is driving the latest developments. Senate Republicans offered Democrats a deal in which $1 billion of border money would be treated as a â€œslush fundâ€ for Trump, which presumably could maybe sort of be used toward a wall. Democrats rejected it for that reason. The White House has alsoÂ vaguely saidÂ Trump will somehow find wall money elsewhere.
That latter idea is in keeping withÂ another oneÂ of Trumpâ€™s claims â€” that the military will build it, funded by the renegotiated NAFTA, which is meant to show that Mexico is paying for it, after all. ButÂ this math isnâ€™t close to credible, and itâ€™s highly likely that Trump canâ€™t find wall money legally without congressional approval, which Democrats wonâ€™t grant. So now Republicans are talking about trying to pass aÂ short-term funding bill without the wall money that would kick this battleÂ into the new year, so Trump can say heâ€™ll pick up the fight again.
In one way or another, these ideas are all about saving face for Trump. Congressional Republicans are basically in the process of negotiating his surrender.
Well, it was all for naught. This is today:
President Trump said Thursday he would not sign a stop-gap spending bill if it didnâ€™t include money to build a wall along the Mexico border, sending large parts of the federal government lurching towards a shutdown on Saturday.
His comments came after an emergency meeting with House Republican leaders, where Trump first revealed he would reject a measure passed in the Senate the night before. That measure would fund many government agencies through February 8, but it would not include any new money for a border wall.
CNN reports that Senate Republicans are having cows.Â Those House Republicans who are still in Washington and haven’t left for Christmas break are struggling to put an amendment into the bill that gives Trump his $5 billion. But no one thinks it could pass the House, never mind the Senate. Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman:
Even if this does somehow pass the House, itâ€™s D.O.A. in the Senate. Whatâ€™s more, looking forward, itâ€™s not like the president is going to be able to get the House to fund the wall once all those newly elected Democrats come into Congress after the new year and Pelosi is the speaker. So what is he thinking?
The answer may be: not much. Which is to say that Trump doesnâ€™t really have a plan here, heâ€™s just reacting out of frustration. And heâ€™s also being pushed by one of the forces heâ€™s least able to resist: the right wing of his own party.
Sargent and Waldman point out that over the past couple of days the Right Wing Intelligensia, people like Limbaugh and Ingraham, have been complaining about Trump backing down on wall funding. They add:
What we see in these situations is not the right pushing Trump to do something he doesnâ€™t want to do, but the right encouraging him to follow his urges,Â even when theyâ€™re politically foolish and are likely to ultimately fail. The more sensible people around him are no doubt saying, â€œWe just donâ€™t have a choice here: There arenâ€™t enough votes for the wall, and youâ€™ll get blamed it a shutdown happens. How does this end well for you?â€
Part of Trump understands this. But another part of him doesnâ€™t want to believe it. And the right speaks to the latter part.
So, he’s going to self-destruct.
In other news, as of this afternoon Jim Mattis is out as Secretary of Defense. Trump tweeted Mattis would be leaving at the end of February.
Normally when one wakes up in the morning and hears that the President has ordered an immediate withdrawal of ground troops from some place we probably shouldn’t have been anyway this would be screaming headline news, but in Trump World it seems to be taking a while to register.
The Trump administration is planning to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, a defense official said Wednesday, as President Trump declared victory against the Islamic State.
The president, inÂ a message on Twitter, said the United States had â€œdefeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.â€
His statement came shortly after news organizations reported that the White House had decided on Tuesday to abruptly remove the entire U.S. force of more than 2,000 troops from Syria.
So he’s declaring victory and going home, and in principle I don’t have a problem with that. But even lefty commenters are saying that the withdrawal would mostly benefit ISIS, Iran and (cough) Russia.
President Donald Trump hasÂ orderedÂ theÂ complete withdrawalÂ of all American troops from Syria withinÂ 60 to 100 daysÂ â€” ending the small US presence in the war-torn country, curbing the fight against ISIS, and weakening Americaâ€™s ability to counter Iran.
OtherÂ reportsÂ say Trump is only considering taking troops out of the country and hasnâ€™t yet made a final decision. When asked to clarify, the Pentagon said in a statement Wednesday morning only that â€œat this time, we continue to work by, with and through our partners in the region.â€
Yet just one minute later, theÂ president tweeted: â€œWe have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.â€ Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, added more than an hour later that the US â€œhas defeated the territorial caliphateâ€ and that America has â€œstarted returning United States troops home.â€ …
…Â There are roughly 2,000 US troops in Syria there to help defeat ISIS, mostly by training Kurdish fighters. However, Trump has long questioned American troopsâ€™ presence in the country.
In April,Â heÂ explicitly said he wanted to bring all American armed forces in Syria home. But surprisingly, he changed his mind five months later, agreeing to keep US troops in the Middle Eastern countryÂ indefinitely. Now it seems heâ€™s reverted to his original stance.
ISIS has been substantially weakened but still has fighters in Syria and could make a comeback if the pressure comes off. Alex Ward speculates that a more likely reason Trump wants to withdraw is that Turkey is planning an offensive against the U.S.-backed Kurds. This might put U.S. troops in the position of having to defend Kurdish troops against Turkish troops. Better to bug out now, I guess. Too bad about the Kurds.
The New York Times reports that the Pentagon isn’t happy.
Pentagon officials who had sought to talk the president out of the decision as late as Wednesday morning argued that such a move would betray Kurdish allies who have fought alongside American troops in Syria and who could find themselves under attack in a military offensive now threatened by Turkey. …
… In a series of meetings and conference calls over the past several days, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior national security officials have tried to dissuade Mr. Trump from a wholesale troop withdrawal, arguing that the significant national security policy shift would essentially cede foreign influence in Syria to Russia and Iran at a time when American policy calls for challenging both countries.
Abandoning the American-backed Kurdish allies, Pentagon officials have argued, will hamper future efforts by the United States to gain the trust of local fighters, from Afghanistan to Yemen to Somalia.
In addition, the Islamic State has not been full vanquished from the small territory it controls on the Syrian-Iraqi border. The Islamic State has held that territory for more than a year in the face of attacks by American-allied forces, and has used it as a launching pad to carry out attacks in Iraq and Syria.
Very deep in the story, we find this:
But one Defense Department official suggested that Mr. Trump also wants to divert attention away from the series of legal challenges confronting him over the recent days: the Russian investigation run by the special counsel as well as the sentencing of his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, in a hush-money scandal to buy the silence of two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.
Well, at least he’s not starting a war as a distraction. Be grateful for that.
Jeanne Pirro had anticipated that Flynn’s guilty plea would be tossed out and the Trump Administration exonerated.
Here’s Judge Jeanine this weekend saying Flynn was set up and praising Judge Emmett Sullivan as someone “unafraid of the swamp.” She even speculated the judge could toss out the guilty plea and let Flynn walk …….. not so much as it turns out. pic.twitter.com/CbhSctbuV6
â€” David Mack (@davidmackau) December 18, 2018
AtÂ Flynnâ€™s sentencing, Sullivan made a point of making sure that Flynn stated (and restated) that he lied to the FBI, that he knew it was wrong to do so and that he accepted responsibility. Sullivan asked Flynn whether he knew that lying to the FBI was illegal, and Flynn said, â€œI was aware.â€ The judge gave Flynn several chances to withdraw his guilty plea, and Flynn opted to proceed.
Then SullivanÂ went big. â€œArguably, you sold your country out,â€ he told Flynn, adding: â€œIâ€™m not hiding my disgust, my disdain, for this criminal offense.â€ He even invoked treason, asking the government whether they considered such a charge. (The government said it had not.) Sullivan suggested Flynn was working as a foreign agent while serving in the White House â€” a claim whichÂ he later backed off.
Judge Jeanine had praised Sullivan as a man who does not tolerate injustice. I guess not. Sullivan also made it clear he wasn’t buying the claim that Flynn had been “entrapped.” Merry Christmas.
Judge Sullivan gave Mr. Flynn the option of delaying the sentencing until he had completed his cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors. â€œI cannot assure that if you proceed today you will not receive a sentence of incarceration,â€ Judge Sullivan told Mr. Flynn.
After a short recess, Mr. Flynn returned to the courtroom to take the judge up on his offer.
Mr. Flynn faces up to six months in prison, but federal prosecutors have recommended a lenient sentence, including the possibility of probation, because Mr. Flynn has provided â€œsubstantial helpâ€ with multiple criminal inquiries.