Wednesday, November 13, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He pretended he didn't watch the impeachment hearings he was clearly watching.

The White House today launched an all-hands effort to deny that there was anything to see at the first day of public testimony at the House impeachment hearings. Asked if Trump was watching the testimony of U.S. ambassador Bill Taylor and State Department Ukraine expert George Kent, seldom-seen White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters, “He’s in the Oval in meetings. Not watching. He’s working.” 

Trump then spent the day tweeting, 34 times as of 9:20 p.m. EST, about the hearings he supposedly wasn't watching. 

Trump's voracious TV appetite has frustrated his staff in the past, but he could be forgiven for spending the day in front of the tube today. His political life—and very likely his ability to avoid criminal charges after he leaves office—hang in the balance, and this public unveiling of the case for impeachment will weigh heavily in what happens next. Trump seems to have resigned himself to being the third U.S. president to be impeached, and is concentrating on avoiding being removed from office by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Speaking of Senate Republicans, Trump did spend some time away from his phone today, when he hosted some of them at a meeting with visiting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Senators in both parties were outraged when Trump allowed Erdoğan to invade Syria and attack the United States' former Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State. In front of reporters, Trump, who declared himself a "big fan" of Erdoğan, defended the Turkish president against the Republican senators' questions, and nodded along as Erdoğan called the Syrian Kurds that did the bulk of the fighting against the Islamic State "terrorists."

Why does this matter?

  • Presidents who don't commit impeachable offenses don't get distracted by impeachment proceedings.