Trump gave his ridiculous Oval Office address last night, and while he didn’t declare a national emergency, he tried his level best to stoke fear and dread in his cult of followers. Trump characterized the border situation in draconian terms, pushing the delusion that murderers and rapists were streaming across the border, causing mayhem, and taking jobs away from “African-American and Hispanic-Americans”. Trump read from a teleprompter in a flat, awkward manner devoid of his trademark sarcasm and overpowering grievance. So it was easy to imagine that his supporters were left wondering why he went through with it.
We got the answer to that question from the New York Times, who reported that Trump was telling a group of visitors beforehand that he didn’t want to do the broadcast and didn’t think it would change anything-but his advisers, namely Bill Shine and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, pushed him to do it.
The best moment of the evening came from Senator Schumer’s portion of the Democratic response. He gave a simple and elegant summary of our American ethos:
The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall.
Here is a good summary of Trump’s talk by Eric Lach of the New Yorker:
Many observers on cable news predicted that the GOP would slowly walk away from Trump on the border wall issue and begin to support the already-agreed upon and passed spending bill. They would eventually send it to Trump, who would probably veto it, so then it would be up to the Senate to over-ride the veto. Either way, Trump and the GOP own the shutdown and the suffering it has caused.
The bigger and more pertinent news yesterday came from the Southern District of New York, where a Manafort legal filing “inadvertantly” disclosed information that was not previously public. We learned that Russian national Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was at the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr. and Manafort, was not just some peripheral Russian citizen, but appeared to be working as a high-level representative of Putin’s government. If true, this would increase the likelihood that Manafort was involved in a criminal election fraud conspiracy (collusion) with a hostile foreign power to alter the outcome of an election. The news makes clearer the picture that the Trump campaign was deeply tied to the Russian government, a notion that Trump has spent untold energy trying to dispel.
Don’t let all of Trump’s noise distract you from the news that the Mueller probe continues to tighten the net around Trump and his family. Things are only going to get crazier and more desperate. Keep resisting…