On Friday afternoon, President Trump made his escape. He hustled across the South Lawn, his pursed lips and weathered face making him seem nearly like Nixon in his last days, albeit with slightly more hair.
“Are you afraid of the press?” I shouted at him. He waved.
He only waves when he hears you.
“Are you worried about the grand jury?” He waved again. “Are you going to fire Mueller?,” a third wave and then Trump quickly beat feet into Marine One. After a few moments, the roar of the blades drowned out any conversation. The massive helicopter took off from the South Lawn as Trump began his 17 days away from the “Dump” everyone else calls the White House.
His departure marked the end of the first act of his frenetic presidency. The next act has already begun behind closed doors, as Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller impaneled a grand jury as part of his ongoing investigation into the Russia/Trump scandal, issuing the first of what may be many subpoenas. Rumors are flying. The Mueller camp is playing things very close to the vest, probably the greatest sign something serious is afoot.
The president complains about leaks, but leaks are part of what makes this country great. No secret stays buried too long in D.C. People are always willing to talk if given enough alcohol, money, attention, sex or coddling. The federal law enforcement officials are, by contrast, notoriously tight-lipped. If they really want to get you, then you may not see it coming until you’re forced on Marine One for the last flight to Bedminster.
If everyone else is leaking – then you know you’re screwed too. This week, the Washington Post printed excerpts from conversations the president had with the president of Mexico and the Australian prime minister. Trump told Australian Prime Minister Turnbull their conversation was his most unpleasant of the day. The conversation he had with Putin was, shock of shocks, much more pleasant. He begged Mexico’s president to stop telling the press that no way would our southern neighbor be paying for that wall..
The leaked conversations are unprecedented, frightening and obviously calculated. The rats are fleeing from this ship quicker than Trump can hire new ones – and the rats left on board are looking around for a snack. The alt-right crowd went after National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and urged his firing. There was even critical talk of “Darth Vader” Steve Bannon on a couple of president-friendly news outlets. Bannon and McMaster are accused of being bombastic and argumentative – which is saying something coming from this administration.
But the unraveling presidency doesn’t stop there. Attorney General Jeff Beauregard Sessions isn’t whistling Dixie. He’s going after all those dirty leakers and didn’t rule out going after journalists. His deputy, Rod Rosenstein, says the Justice Department will do no such thing. Trump, again, is on vacation.
Basically Sessions is playing the role of the beleaguered private in the war movie chained to his machine guns and told to keep firing no matter what.
Meanwhile, “bless her heart” Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been trying to spin her boss out of this mess by saying the words “Hillary Clinton,” and “Ukraine” and “Democrats” together in every conceivable order as quickly and as often as possible. If she can sneer and say “year-long hoax” enough, maybe the boss will smile. Of course, none of this has to make sense. Trump’s stalwarts, though dwindling, have Pavlovian response to certain phrasing.
However, that still wasn’t all. The president introduced immigration legislation Wednesday which would limit the influx of new arrivals in our country to a trickle, consisting of people with a big enough portfolio to help bail the Donald out of another bankruptcy – oh yeah, and they have to speak English too.
To sell this plan, Trump brought out Duke graduate Stephen Miller to say some things. He didn’t disappoint, calling CNN’s Jim Acosta stupid and arguing with him about the “New Colossus” – the poem on the Statue of Liberty.
Then things careened from ignorant and bizarre to full-throttled, neck-stomping Nazism.
“The powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial, and will not be questioned,” Miller said.
After six months of covering the Donald Trump administration, you get the feeling somewhere the president is on Craigslist looking for some creature who can spout his agenda with a straight face.
So it shouldn’t be surprise that reporters and even members of the White House staff seemed to sigh with relief as the president soared off the South Lawn Friday. The daily colonoscopy without benefit of anesthesia was over – at least for the moment.