The Witch Doctor of Truth

Published: May 19, 2017

By Jim Lichtman
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President Trump must’ve missed CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360  the other night when Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz recommended that the president get a personal lawyer and “zip it! …stop tweeting… stop talking…”

On Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – an oasis of rationality – announced the appointment of Robert Muller as special counsel to investigate the possibility of complicity between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Early Thursday morning (May 18), President Trump tweeted:

“This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

Muller comes with unimpeachable qualifications having been a former deputy attorney general at Justice,  former assistant attorney general for the criminal division, as well as director of the F.B.I.

It was then-F.B.I. Director Muller, with then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who threatened to resign in 2004 if then-President Bush followed the advice of Chief of Staff Andrew Card and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and override the Justice Department’s ruling and reauthorize the domestic warrantless eavesdropping program. Justice officials believed the program to be unconstitutional.

In a White House meeting, Muller and Comey convinced the president to change conditions surrounding the program.

Again, Thursday morning, Trump, absent any evidence, added another tweet:

“With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!”

This is the same Trump who admitted to NBC’s Lester Holt that he was planning on firing Comey regardless of the memo from Rosenstein. The president’s  reasoning: “this Russia Thing.” In a recently revealed private meeting with Comey, Trump asks the director to drop the Flynn investigation. And after firing Comey he threatens the former director in a tweet.

The day following the Comey firing, Trump holds a meeting in the Oval Office – absent any American press – with two Russian officials, one of whom has been identified by the C.I.A. as a top spy. In the meeting, Trump brags and then shares highly classified information that originated from Israel putting intelligence relationships and lives at risk.

This is the same Trump who relentlessly criticized Hillary Clinton for having a private e-mail server and “spreading highly classified information” from 22 e-mails identified by the F.B.I..

“National security officials,” The Wall Street Journal writes (May 17), “also asked [U.S.] reporters to withhold specifics about the item [in Trump’s classified info to Russian officials] in question, presumably because further disclosure could undermine efforts to counter the threat or endanger the lives of human assets. … and other intelligence-sharing relationships.”

From ethical conflicts regarding his businesses and presidential duties, lack of transparency regarding his taxes, to wantonly sharing highly classified information with a known adversary, the sheer breadth of Trump’s hypocrisy is staggering.

“The portrait of an inexperienced, impulsive chief,” The Journal editorial continues, “who might spill secrets to an overseas foe is one to which Mr. Trump has too often contributed. It was political mismanagement even to hold the Russian meeting, especially the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey amid the investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged Russian connection.

“This eruption shows why a President’s credibility is so important. If people don’t believe Mr. Trump’s words or trust his judgment, they won’t give him the benefit of the doubt or be responsive if he asks for support.”

Late Thursday, Trump reversed course again and now says his decision was based on the Rosenstein recommendation, his original reasoning. Except Rosenstein tells Senators that he knew before he drafted that memo that Trump was going to fire Comey.

On Wednesday, Trump delivered a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. It’s an opportunity for Trump to lay out his foreign policy agenda before leaving on an overseas trip as well as inspire graduates with important principles.

However, always acting like the aggrieved party, what’s the focus of Trump’s address – himself.

“No politician in history… has been treated worse or more unfairly.”

And in case anyone forgot, he added, “I guess that’s why we won.”

“Millions of Americans,” The Journal editorial concludes, “recognized Mr. Trump’s flaws but decided he was a risk worth taking. They assumed, or at least hoped, that he’d rise to the occasion and the demands of the job. If he cannot, he’ll betray their hopes as his Presidency sinks before his eyes.”

The most thoughtful remarks at the commencement, however, came not from Trump but Adm. Paul F. Zukunfit. As reported by The Times (May 18), the Coast Guard commandant fittingly spoke “about the significance of leadership, character and the rule of law.

“ ‘With national security also comes public trust, and the two of those are interwoven. You don’t have both of those unless you have leaders of character,’ Zukunft said.”


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