I know people who think that the worst thing about the Trump administration is the corruption: the Trump family lining its pockets in various grifting ways, be it emoluments via hotel; deals in the shadow of official favor; multiple appointees acting like swamp-dwellers wasting tax money on first class airfares, hotels, weird security apparatus and guards, or office furniture.
I disagree: the worst things about the Trump administration are legal or at least carry a figleaf of legality: our disgraceful treatment of would-be immigrants and refugees; withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change and other anti-environmental decisions; the war on healthcare; and now, the nearly irrational decision to blow up the Iran nuclear deal.
The stated reasons make no sense: if one is afraid the Iranians have nuclear plans that they can pick up at the end of the 10-year deal period, there is no sense in accelerating that window of opportunity to today.
Rather, if one thinks there is any method to the madness, one is left to choose among two lousy hypotheses: perhaps Trump is so consumed with Obama derangement that anything Obama must be blow up; or, worse and yet more likely, the Bolton vision of attacking Iran is in ascendant and the reason for ending the accord is to drive the Iranians into nuclear development that could then be waved as a casus belli. That means war.
As far as I am concerned, the Trump family and its hangers-on could steal all the money they want if they would just stop hurting and poisoning other people.
No, not like that, at least not yet.
Rather, odds are that Trump will have to answer questions in a deposition:
A New York State judge ruled on Tuesday that a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who has said President Trump made unwanted sexual advances could go forward, raising the possibility of a public airing of other allegations of sexual misconduct against the president.
The decision by Justice Jennifer Schecter of State Supreme Court in Manhattan paved the way for lawyers to seek depositions from several women who accused Mr. Trump of sexual harassment before he was elected and to subpoena Trump campaign records related to his female accusers.
Justice Schecter rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that a state court has no jurisdiction over a sitting president. She cited a United States Supreme Court ruling that allowed Paula Jones to bring a sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton.
Actually, the issue of whether the Paula Jones precedent should apply with full force in state court is not frivolous at all. I can imagine reasons why a court might hold that there is too much risk of interference with the President’s, ahem, affairs to allow just any court to make demands on his time. Then again, I can think of even more arguments why the state courts should be allowed to proceed — if only that surely a sitting President could get an injunction from a federal court if the state court were to misbehave in some way.
Marcy Wheeler is very smart. And while she’s not giving to mincing words, she is also not a wild-eye conspiracist. So I sat up when I saw Meanwhile, Over In Turkey . . ., her blog post on Secretary of State Tillerson’s super-secret meeting with Turkish President Erdogan–the only other person in the room being the Turkish Prime Minister, who personally translated.
This is a huge breach of not just protocol, but standard and very sensible operating procedures at the US State Department (not that Tillerson cares).
Let’s go back to that no-staff-allowed element of the meeting once more. In general, it is in the interests of both parties to a conversation like that to have interpreters and notetakers present, so that in the public discussions that follow (like the one above), everyone agrees on the basic facts of what was said and you don’t getting into a “but you said . . .” and “no I didn’t” back-and-forth. For the meeting to exclude such staffers means that there is something else that overrides this interest.
In this case, the Turks had to have demanded that Tillerson not bring anyone with him to this meeting. There’s no way he would have told his staff “I got this – you take a break while I talk with Erdogan” on his own. The question is why, and all the possible answers I can come up after reading the Turkish Foreign Minister’s reply to that last question involve Vladimir Putin wanting Erdogan to pass on some kind of message to Trump — a message that he did not wish to be delivered within earshot of interpreters and notetakers.
It reminds me very much of that May 2017 Oval Office meeting that Trump had with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and outgoing Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. That was the meeting where we later learned that Trump revealed Israeli intelligence to the Russians about their source inside ISIS and told them that he just fired “that nut job” James Comey which took the pressure off of him because of Russia.
Oh, and the US press were kept out of that meeting as well, with the only reports of it coming after the Russians told us about it. As Politico’s Susan Glasser noted about that Oval Office meeting, it came at the specific request of Putin
But like we say in blogland, read the whole thing.
I don’t watch TV news, so I only saw this ad when Digby blogged it.
Powerful stuff. Here’s Wikipedia’s article on Tom Steyer if you want to know more about him.