Tuesday, September 24, 2019

An earlier version of today's post mistakenly referred to a tweet that Trump sent yesterday, on September 23, as having been sent today. That post is below, and is otherwise accurate, but since What Trump Did Today strives to live up to its name and provide you with information about something Trump did today, a replacement post follows.

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried to plea-bargain impeachment.

Over the weekend, Trump admitted that he had pressured the Ukrainian government to interfere in the 2020 election by launching a public investigation into Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential contender. Today, that growing scandal erupted into a full-blown impeachment inquiry.

As it became clear that House Democrats were moving quickly towards an irrevocable step towards impeaching Trump, he called Speaker Pelosi and asked if he could strike a deal. MSNBC's Heidi Przybyla reported that conversation to host Ari Melber this way:

PRZYBYLA: [Pelosi] also outlined a phone call today that she had with the president that was very interesting... I got a readout on that, that the president actually said to Nancy Pelosi, "Hey, um, can we do something about this whistleblower complaint? Can we work something out?"...
MELBER: On that, let me get you, for our viewers, a little more context on that, you're reporting that the Speaker and the president spoke today, he's had a busy day at the U.N., but you're saying that the pressure led to this call? 
PRZYBYLA: Don't know what specifically set up the call, but we do know that there was a call between the two, and that in the call Donald Trump used language that we've heard him use before, in terms of asking the Speaker what we can do about this whistleblower complaint, how we can possibly work something out.

Pelosi rejected Trump's offer and, later in the day, announced her support for an impeachment inquiry.

In other words, Trump was asking for leniency in a process that could lead to his impeachment and even his removal from office, and which now looks likely to confirm what he has already admitted about his attempts to get the Ukrainian government gin up an investigation into the family of a potential Democratic challenger about a matter where Ukrainian prosecutors had already concluded that no crime had been committed. (Ukraine's chief prosecutor said in May, “I do not want Ukraine to again be the subject of U.S. presidential elections. Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws — at least as of now, we do not see any wrongdoing.")

So what?

  • People who have done nothing wrong, and who have access to evidence that will clear them, generally don't try to cut a deal.

* * * * * * * *

What did Donald Trump do today yesterday?

He tried and more or less failed to bully a teenage girl.

Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager and climate activist, made headlines over the last few days for her passionate appeal for action on the climate crisis. She gave a fiery speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Monday. Her anger over world leaders' inaction in the face of increasingly dire consequences went viral, as did her reaction to Trump himself crossing her path at the U.N.:

Trump responded by mocking Thunberg on Twitter. With unmistakable sarcasm, Trump called her a a "very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future."

Trump, who now desperately needs something to energize his supporters, may have been trying to chase some of the fringier elements of his political base by trolling Thunberg. A Fox News guest called her "mentally ill" yesterday, prompting a shouting match on set and a rare apology from Fox News, which called the comment "disgraceful."

But Thunberg appears to have gotten the better of Trump, changing her Twitter bio today to match his comment.

Ironically, Thunberg and Trump are not all that far apart on the issue of climate change, in practice. While Trump (sometimes) claims to think that it's not a problem, or a "hoax," he's lobbied the Irish government to let him build a sea wall to protect one of his luxury golf courses from rising sea levels caused by climate change.

How is this a problem?

  • A president who can't tolerate even implied criticism from a teenage girl without lashing out is too mentally unstable to hold office.
  • Even by Trump's standards, this is pretty awful behavior.