He didn’t want to sign it. Mitch McConnell had to get down on his hands and knees (well, okay, it was over the phone, but you know what we mean) to beg the president to agree to legislation to avoid another government shutdown. Trump finally gave in, but only after Mitch promised to support his plan to declare a state of emergency to get the money for that damnable border wall.
The legislation, at least from the president’s point of view, really sucked, relinquishing only enough money to build a wall for 55 miles, or roughly the distance between the Washington Square Arch and the Fire Island Pines Ice Palace. Unofficial cabinet member Sean Hannity immediately called the bill a “garbage compromise,” and it reportedly took a call from the White House (more begging and pleading) before Hannity tempered his position.
Still, in the end Trump caved, and the teleprompter-free, whopper-filled press conference that ensued was a train wreck you couldn’t look away from. During the course of an hour on Friday, the president lauded the loquaciousness of Rush Limbaugh (“[He] could speak for three hours without a phone call. Try doing that sometime . . . . I mean, this guy is unbelievable!”); told a raft of fibs; castigated a CNN reporter with his fake news canard; characterized the border situation as an “invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people,” but then turned around and admitted, “I could do the wall over a longer period of time, I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” which—hello!—completely undercuts his fallacious “emergency” argument. But does Trump care? Not so much. Asked about the dubious legality of this action, and the way it subverts the separation of powers (a chief executive is not supposed to declare a state of emergency to scare up funds just because he didn’t get his way), he explained that, yeah, sure, the lower courts would probably trounce him, but if and when his case gets to the Supreme Court, where Brett I-Like-Beer Kavanaugh now sits, he is sure he will triumph.
In other news, on Monday, the president held a rally in El Paso, Texas, where he attempted to school the crowd to chant “finish the wall,” instead of “build the wall,” a switcheroo that The Washington Post termed “a rhetorical sleight of hand: speaking the wall into existence.” On Wednesday, a judge ruled that the president’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort deliberately lied to investigators about his dealings with Russians, prompting the Mueller team to recommend that Manafort be sentenced to between 19-and-a-half and 24-and-a-half years in prison. (Since he is 69 years old, this could amount to a life sentence.) On, Friday a judge placed a gag order on Trump’s old pal Roger Stone, who stands accused of charges related to Russian meddling in the 2016 election. This is a fate worth than death—well, almost—for the compulsively chatty Stone, who is a match for Limbaugh in the right-wing nutjob blabbermouth department. Also on Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders revealed that late last year she met with Mueller investigators. “The president urged me, like he has everyone in the administration, to fully cooperate with the special counsel. I was happy to voluntarily sit down with them,” she told CNN. (Sure, Sarah, we bet you were just thrilled to be interviewed by the folks you have allegedly called “the Russian witch-hunt hoax.”)
And lastly, former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, whose new book is entitled The Threat: How the FBI?Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, told 60 Minutes that after meeting with Trump following FBI director James Comey’s dismissal in May 2017, he immediately knew he had to begin an investigation into Russian election interference: “I was speaking to the man who had just run for the presidency and won the election for the presidency, and who might have done so with the aid of the government of Russia, our most formidable adversary on the world stage.”