Oh, how quickly the spots on a leopard can change! Could it have been only a few short weeks ago that the president said he would be happy to share the Mueller report with the world? “Let it come out. Let people see it,” he offered back then. But perhaps he took that victory lap around Mar-a-Lago too soon, for who really knows what dark secrets are buried in the 400-page document? Not Trump, apparently, since he tweeted yesterday that he hasn’t read it himself, adding, “the Democrats, no matter what we give them, will NEVER be satisfied. A total waste of time.”
This skittishness may be due to news reports like this one, from Wednesday’s New York Times: “Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated.” Mueller’s team also reportedly prepared their own summaries, but AG Barr has refused to let Congress see them, instead sending over his four-page summation that was extremely kind to the president and raises more questions than it answers. In any case, on Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee voted to authorize committee chairman Jerry Nadler to subpoena Barr for the whole thing, whenever he feels the time is right. (Do you, like us, find yourself fantasizing that some patriotic citizen, some knight in shining armor deep in the bowels of the Justice Department, will purloin this report and set it free, Pentagon Papers–style?)
The inevitable publication of the unredacted document is not the only potential embarrassment looming in the president’s future. On Wednesday, Richard Neal, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, sent a letter?to the IRS requesting the last six years of Trump’s personal tax returns. This was met with fierce resistance from the White House—the president insists that he cannot comply because he is under some kind of perpetual audit, a fact that has not stopped previous presidents from releasing their tax returns. (You can’t help but wonder what he is so afraid of—is he merely a garden-variety tax cheat, or is it something more sinister? Has he been laundering money for foreign oligarchs? Is he simply embarrassed that, despite his decades of boasting, his income is sort of pathetic?)
In other news, earlier this week Tricia Newbold, a White House whistle-blower, told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that security clearance applications “were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security,” raising once again the dicey question of how and why Jared Kushner, among others, was cleared. On Thursday, Trump and Joe Biden, who has not yet declared his 2020 presidential bid, got in a Twitter war about touching women. (Are we really writing these words?) Trump posted a doctored video of Biden creeping up and hugging himself, which the president picked up from the right-wing corners of the Internet. Biden snapped back: “I see that you are on the job and presidential, as always.” That same day, presidential as always, Trump nominated Herman Cain for a seat on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors. Remember Cain? He is the strikingly goofy former Godfather’s Pizza CEO who was a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, until he was forced to withdraw amid accusations of sexual misconduct.
Lastly, on Friday the president visited a section of repaired border wall in Calexico, California, and pretended it was new construction. At that event, he maligned the 1993 court decision Reno v.?Flores and attacked “Judge Flores” for the ruling, which protects migrant children from being held indefinitely in custody. But, Mr. President—there is no, and never was, any Judge Flores. The case was named for 15-year-old Jenny Lisette Flores, who fled El Salvador in the 1980s and was detained trying to enter the U.S.