It Gets Worse

Published: October 2, 2019

By Jim Lichtman
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When Donald Trump “tweeted” his inane remarks about being a “stable genius,” or his 89 tweets regarding President Obama’s birth certificate, few took his buffoonery seriously.

As president, however, that buffoonery has become considerably darker and knows no limits.

“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Mr. Trump said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

Trump’s opiate-like effect on most congressional Republicans, as well as his spliced-at-the-hip allies, Secretary of State Pompeo, Attorney General Barr and personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, have gone beyond the pale.

Here’s what we know so far.

Republican allies have been spreading a story in the media questioning the legitimacy of the whistleblower.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said, “The spinning that’s been done by the President’s defenders over the last 24 hours since this very damaging whistleblower complaint came out, the spinning is not surprising, but it is astonishing and I think deeply misleading.”

So much so that the Intelligence Communities Inspector General, a Trump appointee, took the unprecedented step of releasing a statement (Sept. 30), in support of the whistleblower’s credibility:

“As part of his determination that the urgent concern appeared credible, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community determined that the Complainant had official and authorized access to the information and sources referenced in the Complainant’s Letter and Classified Appendix, including direct knowledge of certain alleged conduct, and that the Complainant has subject matter expertise related to much of the material information provided in the Complainant’s Letter and Classified Appendix.”

Nonetheless, Trump’s Secretary of State and Attorney General, as well as his personal attorney are prepared to stonewall a constitutionally mandated congressional oversight committee regarding their investigation.

Contrary to a report in The Wall Street Journal, where Secretary of State Pompeo appeared that he did not know anything about Trump’s Ukrainian call, The Journal now reports that Pompeo was in on the call, according to a senior State Department official.

“President Trump,” The New York Times reports (Sept. 30), “pushed the Australian prime minister during a recent telephone call to help Attorney General William P. Barr gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation, according to two American officials with knowledge of the call.”

Further, Barr, “held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that Donald Trump hopes will discredit US intelligence agencies’ examination of possible connections between Russia and members of his presidential campaign during the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter.

“The direct involvement of the nation’s top law enforcement official,” the Independent continues, “shows the priority Mr. Barr places on the investigation being conducted by John Durham, the US attorney in Connecticut, who has been assigned the sensitive task of reviewing US intelligence work surrounding the 2016 election and its aftermath,” The Independent reports (Sept. 30).

While the attorney general’s actions may not be illegal, it is extraordinary for a U.S. attorney general to be personally involved in direct talks with foreign officials and demonstrates the lengths to which a U.S. attorney general will go to do Trump’s bidding.

Then we have Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who has given media interviews about his involvement in talks with the Ukrainian government regarding alleged illegality by former Vice President, Joe Biden which has all been debunked long ago. But in Trumpworld, all you need are the talking points to convince his base.

Giuliani has been served with a subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee “demanding details about his interactions with Trump administration officials regarding his influence campaign in Ukraine,” Politico reports (Oct. 1).

Despite the obvious issues of potential illegality in requesting favors from foreign officials, Republicans are split into two camps: the silent majority and the allies that continue to defend the indefensible.

60 Minutes journalist Scott Pelley interviewed staunch Trump ally Kevin McCarthy.

Scott Pelley: How do you expect the president’s defense to roll out going forward?

Kevin McCarthy: The defense of what?

Scott Pelley: Well, there’s an impeachment inquiry.

Kevin McCarthy: Yeah. There’s an impeach inquiry going forward. It probably never would move forward, had the speaker waited 48 hours to have the transcript. We vote on important things every day. But there are certain votes that are different than others. Sending men and women off to war is the most difficult vote any member of Congress would ever make.

Scott Pelley: I’ll ask you again, how does the defense of the president, in your view, roll out from here?

Kevin McCarthy: Why would we move forward with impeachment? There’s not something that you have to defend here.

Scott Pelley: You say the president has done nothing wrong. I take that to mean that you find it appropriate that the president asked Mr. Zelensky for an investigation of his Democratic rivals.

Kevin McCarthy: The question before the House of Representatives is to impeach the president based upon a phone call that the speaker never even heard…

Scott Pelley: Mr. Leader, with great respect to you, and I apologize for interrupting, but these are the White House talking points that were emailed to the Congress earlier this week.

Kevin McCarthy: Well, I’ll be very…

Scott Pelley: And I am asking you, was it appropriate for the president to ask for investigations of his Democratic rivals with another foreign leader?

Kevin McCarthy: I’ve never seen one talking point from a White House. I’m talking to you based upon the most important facts we have. The whistleblower wasn’t on the call. The IG, inspector general, didn’t read the call. But you and I have all the information we need. The president did nothing in this phone call that’s impeachable.

“According to the whistleblower complaint,” Pelley points out, “ ‘White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.’ The whistleblower says he was told the record of the call was removed from the usual computer system to ‘…a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature.’ ”

Later yesterday, the State Department’s Inspector General requested an “Urgent” capitol hill briefing to take place this afternoon to discuss the Ukraine documents.

The cancer that is this presidency is spreading.


  1. Jim, Is the very idea of ethics going extinct? Will this spreading nihilistic cynicism completely take over, and ideas about honesty, integrity, and the rule of law be seen first as quaint, old-fashioned notions, and then eventually become unknown concepts? Are any people seeking out experts and luminaries in ethics, asking for ways to reverse this spiraling descent?

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