President Don Quixote Edition
APPROVAL ALERT AT PRESS TIME:
FiveThirtyEight Poll: 42.2% — up from 42% last week
Rasmussen Poll: 51% — up from 49% last week
Welcome to Trumplandia, a place where with a bit of wit and snark, we keep the world caught up on all of the tasty Nuggets-O-Trump you may have heard about but were too busy to care. Because most of this minutia occurs just below the massive headlines about the POTUS, it’s in a land of its own. Here, an infusion of social media, video clips and print media meld with our outdated political views to make more delicious “Fake News” about our Commander-in-Chief.
So just like the president, we start it all with a little tweet like this:
The Impossible Dream
The week of our Trump — March 30, 2019: A week after a misguided victory dance and proclamation that the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller III had completely exonerated him, President Trump went all Don Quixote and literally chased windmills both real and metaphorical.
Continuing to tout his “exoneration” from Russian collusion and obstruction of justice because his attorney general said so, The Donald’s “no collusion shuffle” was drowned out by a steady chorus from Congress, whose members expect to read the entire 380-page document themselves, and by investigators who worked on the probe and believe the president was not cleared of obstruction of justice.
The dynamic set off a set of circumstances that left Trump almost simultaneously making threats and promises, both from which he would ultimately back away. Gone were the moments after the report was released on March 22 when the president exhibited a cavalier desire to release the full Mueller report.
Still stating he was cleared of all wrongdoing in the Russian election interference probe, Trump changed from a guy who “would be happy to display the entire (Mueller) report,” to another guy who accuses congressional Democrats of being “sore losers” for holding him to his promise of disclosure.
Now calling the possible release of the full investigation a “waste of time,” Trump suggested the legislative body should rely on the word of Attorney General William Barr and his four-page summation, rather than have it reviewed in full.
Members of the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee on April 3 approved a subpoena to obtain the full confidential report of the special counsel and warning Barr to not redact the report. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said although the subpoenas are ready to go, he is attempting to allow Barr to release the report by the middle of the month as he has promised:
“We are going to work with the AG for a short period of time and hope that he will reveal to us the entire Mueller report and all the underlying materials, and we’ll go to court to get permission to have the material. But if that doesn’t work out, in a very short order, we will issue the subpoenas.”
The next day, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) blocked a resolution calling for Mueller’s report to be made public, marking the fifth time Republicans have blocked the House-passed measure to see the report.
Paul blocked the effort after members of the House refused to amend the non-binding resolution to include provisions that called for communications between a number of Obama-era officials, including Obama, former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan.
Paul’s argument, that Congress needs to figure out the “entire story,” is part of a new directive by Trump and congressional Republicans to investigate the investigation.
For his part, Agent Orange said he is now interested in the origins of the Russia probe, or “oranges” as the president stated. The matter will prove to be the next chapter following a New York Times report that stated members of Mueller’s team believe Barr’s summary of the report did not portray findings that could be damaging to Trump and perhaps were meant to be given to Congress for further action.
To date only Barr has reviewed the full document.
As the week continued, we learned how difficult it can be trying to extract the truth from a delusional person who has already created a faux national emergency and cleared the way to subvert $1 billion in military aid to fight it.
Just like the mythical “Man of La Mancha,” Trump began battles this week with people and things he had no intention of fighting.
He threatened to close the Mexican border completely, only to withdraw the planned directive when he was informed about how much it would hurt the U.S. economy.
He even reignited a war of words with U.S. commonwealth Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from a hurricane that destroyed much of the mainland almost two years ago. In a flurry of angry tweets, Trump got the amount of aid sent to the island wrong, seemed to suggest the U.S. territory was not a part of the country and seemed to again pit the mainland against the U.S. territory for no apparent reason at all.
The Tweeter-in-Chief began publicly bashing the island territory on April 2, a day after a vote in the Senate stalled that would provide victims of natural disasters $13.5 billion. Where the Republicans were pushing $600 million in nutritional aid to the island, Democrats earmarked additional funds to pay for the recovery.
In fact, a $14 billion alternative supported by Senate Democrats and that had already been approved by the House of Representatives, was blocked by Republicans after a visit from Mr. Wonderful. Senate Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer (D-NY), said the funding plan appeared to be headed for approval until Trump refused to send additional funds to the U.S. territory.
Trump continued to state $91 billion was sent to the island, when in fact, less than half of that has been sent to rebuild Puerto Rico. Part of Trump’s calculations are an anticipated $50 billion that will fund rebuilding efforts over the next few decades.
He wrongly believed relief funds have been mismanaged by his longtime foe, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, whom he described as “crazed and incompetent.” In the meantime, recovery efforts are hampered by a government that simply will not fund an effort to rebuild itself.
Cruz was interviewed on CNN and said Trump’s latest comments proved he seems to live “in an alternate world.” She said the President seems intent on pitting people against each other, while continuing to mistreat those most in need:
“You’re unworthy of being president and don’t know what you are talking about. It is remarkable that the president does not understand that he’s gotten this all wrong.”
Trump’s battle with reality continued later that day when he was visited by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. During the afternoon meeting in the Oval Office, the president seemed to forget where his father was born and identified him as a native of Germany, instead of New York City.
That evening, during a speech at the National Republican Congressional Committee, Trump went for the trifecta in absurd lies and untruths when he literally attacked wind turbines, stating without data the clean energy source lowered property values, killed birds and caused cancer.
Trump, who does not believe in the use of alternatives to fossil fuels, added that the noise from the turbines cause cancer. He then treated the audience to his imitation of the carcinogenic noise he called “infrasound.”
Trump also used the event to repeat one of his most enduring misconceptions about wind power. He said the turbines do not create electricity when they are off, which might be true if not for battery storage of energy.
It Could Have Been ‘Jina’
When imagined problems are larger than tangible ones, it’s easy to see why the arrest of a potential foreign spy at your golf resort may not be of any consequence to a guy like the president.
On March 30, Secret Service agents arrested a Chinese woman at Mar-a-Lago who appeared to be carrying two Chinese passports, a thumb drive armed with malicious malware, and had gained access to the president’s Palm Beach resort while he was in the midst of doing his Mueller report victory dance.
The woman, later identified as Yujing Zhang, 32, was in the midst of trying to gain access to an event at the resort advertised as being held by Li “Cindy” Yang, the Florida massage parlor entrepreneur who was recently in the news for possibly selling access to Donnie Dimwit and his family.
Yang, who was the former owner of a massage parlor where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was busted in a prostitution sting, had advertised an event on Chinese-language social media that was stated as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to rub elbows with Republican movers and shakers and maybe even meet a Trump.
Yang was not at Mar-a-Lago during Zhang’s arrest. Zhang said she traveled from Shanghai to attend an advertised event at the president’s golf resort. She first asked to take a dip in the pool and was denied following her arrest. She allegedly told authorities she was at the resort to attend a non-existent UN-Chinese-American event.
The date had been reserved for a Young Adventurers’ “Safari Night” event that was to feature an appearance by Trump’s sister, Elizabeth Trump-Gau. The planned event was canceled after questions were raised about Yang’s business practices and whether she was selling access to Trump and other high-level Republicans.
Some media reports stated Zhang said she attended Mar-a-Lago at the invitation of “Dr. Charles Lee,” founder of a group called the United Nations Chinese Friendship Association (UNCFA).
The group’s recently deleted website appears to bill the organization as one that sells photo opportunities and personal meetings with political bigwigs. The Miami Herald reported the UNCFA recruited clients for events advertised by Yang.
When questioned about the alleged security breach while he was on the grounds, Trump dismissed the arrest of Zhang as a “fluke.” He was not concerned that China might be trying to spy on him despite the arrest and despite the hardware the woman was allegedly carrying at the time of her detainment.
Trump also denied knowing Cindy Yang despite posing in both a signed picture with her and another shot taken during this year’s Super Bowl party at his resort.
Meanwhile, Zhang was removed from the grounds and taken to a Secret Service office for questioning after she becoming verbally abusive to West Palm Beach police. Media reports state Zhang carried four cellphones, a laptop, an external hard drive as well as a thumb drive allegedly containing malware.
She was charged with making false statements to federal agents and illegally entering a restricted area. Zhang is still in police custody and awaiting a hearing next week.