Saturday, December 23, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He continued his attacks on the FBI, specifically the part of it investigating his ties to Russia.

Trump took to Twitter to attack Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI. He accused McCabe of corruption, on the theory that political donations made by the DNC to McCabe's wife's unsuccessful political campaign influenced him during an investigation of Hillary Clinton that he supervised after the campaign was over. The angry messages coincided with a Fox News broadcast about McCabe.

McCabe is expected to retire in March, hounded out by Trump's politicization of the federal police force's investigation into him. On that point, Trump also leveled a particular charge at McCabe that most Americans will find curious: that he was only staying in his job in order to maximize his pension benefits.

Pensions and other retirement benefits are tied to length of service precisely so that experienced employees will stay on the job for a certain period of time. Among Americans who can't rely on inheritances to support them in old age, it is not uncommon--or inappropriate--to retire after fulfilling a term of service.

McCabe served briefly as acting director of the FBI after Trump fired James Comey for his refusal to end the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. McCabe infuriated Trump when he told a congressional committee that FBI's probe of the matter was "highly significant" and spoke about the high regard that law enforcement officials had for Comey.

Why does this matter?

  • It's bad if a president doesn't understand how pensions work.
  • It's not normal for presidents to be this hostile to the rule of law.
  • A president who reacts to what he sees on TV is a president that can be too easily manipulated.