You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. — Abraham Lincoln
Yesterday feels like the day that the wheels came off the GOP Trump bus. The morning started earnest enough with the tragic death of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Quickly, though, the Trump circus took center stage. White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney held a news conference and the day went downhill from there.
In questioning about the Ukrainian phone call that led to the impeachment inquiry, Mulvaney openly admitted that Trump asked for a quid pro quo, demanding an investigation into the corruption at the DNC in exchange for the release of aid money. He went on to say that it’s done all the time and that people need to just get over it. Within hours, he tried to walk it back but it’s on tape for all to see.
Almost as soon as Mulvaney was off the podium, Trump’s legal team started trying to distance the president from Mulvaney’s statement. They issued a statement saying, “The President’s legal counsel was not involved in acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s press briefing.” In other words, the President’s chief of staff doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
To make matters worse, Mulvaney announced that the G-7 would hold its summit next year at a resort owned by Trump. The constitution bars a sitting president from profiting off his job. It’s a clear a violation of the emoluments clause and gives another reason for impeachment.
At the same time Mulvaney was stumbling through the press conference, US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland was testifying in a closed-door session with impeachment investigators. Sondland told them that Rudy Guiliani was running a parallel foreign policy trying to get dirt on the Bidens and that Guiliani was responsible for pushing out Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. He also said he was uncomfortable withholding aid from the Ukrainians and implied that Guiliani was responsible.
Then, Trump announced that Vice President Mike Pence had cut a deal with Turkey for a ceasefire in Syria. No sooner had he made the announcement than Turkey released a statement denying any ceasefire. Instead, they essentially outlined a surrender, giving the US five days to evacuate the Kurds from the region and giving Turkey control over the territory the Kurds had occupied. Before the day was over, Turkish troops were shelling Kurdish areas again.
In his announcement, Trump tried to claim victory. Instead, he defended ethnic cleansing, saying, “They had to have it cleaned out.” He was referring to the Turks removing the Kurds from their border. Then, he said, “On behalf of the United States, I want to thank Turkey.” In other words, he thanked the country that had just humiliated him and forced US forces to retreat.
Trump’s corruption and the incompetence of his administration was on full display yesterday. His chief of staff admitted to a quid pro quo by withholding aid until Ukraine agreed to investigate the DNC. Then, he announced a no-bid contract for one of Trump’s financially beleaguered companies. Trump’s ambassador to the European Union testified to a shadow foreign policy run by Rudy Giuliani and focusing on the political fortunes of the president, not the interests of the United States. The “deal” Pence cut with Turkey exposed the capitulation to a relatively minor power and the strengthening of the region’s dictators at the expense of our allies and our influence.
Make no mistake, Republicans in Congress bear responsibility for Trump’s abuse of power and devastating policy decisions. They’ve refused to hold him accountable for anything he’s done. They’ve greenlighted bad behavior since day one of his presidency and now he believes he’s invincible. He may never lose the less educated, Fox News watching good old boys who make up the GOP base, but he’s going to quickly start to lose thinking Americans of all ideological stripes. The only people left will be the people you can fool all of the time.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >