Tuesday, December 17, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He wrote a letter.

On what is most likely his last full day as an unimpeached president, Trump wrote a six-page rant accusing House Democrats of everything from treason to insufficiently sincere prayers for his wellbeing. 

The letter, which reads like a string of tweets, may have been an attempt by Trump to emotionally soothe himself. Trump almost immediately declared that the letter was getting "good reviews." It was certainly getting attention, although it was not difficult to find even Republicans calling it "unhinged." The White House Counsel's Office, for its part, quietly made sure journalists knew they had no control over it.

News organizations set about the considerable task of fact-checking the letter, but one lie in particular had an interesting resonance with another story that broke today. In the letter, Trump, as he has in one way or another on almost every day of his presidency, attacked the FBI and the intelligence community for investigating his campaign's coordination with the Russian government's attempts to illegally interfere in the 2016 election. Trump called the legally authorized investigation, blessed by the Department of Justice's own Inspector General, an attempt at a "coup" and the investigation itself as "spying."

Hours earlier, Trump's deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates was sentenced to 45 days in prison and three years' probation for obstruction and lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation. The sentencing judge explained the light sentence by noting Gates' extensive cooperation with prosecutors, and emphasized the far-reaching and ongoing nature of the government's efforts—Trump himself aside—to protect the integrity of American elections.

Gates' debriefings, his multiple incriminatory bits of evidence on matters of grave and international importance are a reminder that there was an ample basis for the decision makers at the highest level of the United States Department of Justice — the United States Department of Justice of this administration — to authorize and pursue a law enforcement investigation into whether there was any coordination between the campaign and the known foreign interference in the election, as well as into whether there had been any attempt to obstruct that investigation, and to leave no stone unturned, no matter what the prosecutors determined they had evidence to prove at the end of that investigation.

How is this a bad thing?

  • Presidents are not above the law, or the Constitution.
  • Declaring all opposition to the leader is "treason" or a "coup" is what dictators do.
  • It's not surprising that Trump is upset about being impeached, but it's still bad if he can't control his emotional outbursts.