Speaking of early-stage Alzheimer’s – Donald Trump.
The President regaled America with all manner of conspiracy theories on Saturday, explicitly accusing the DoJ and the FBI of covering up “FISA abuse” and asking “what everyone “has to hide” when it comes to “Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more”.
He’s talking about the Justice Department missing a subpoena deadline to provide documents to the House Judiciary Committee, but really, he’s just rambling off the top of his head probably because he saw something on Fox. It is abundantly clear that the network is deliberately riling him up.
Well on Sunday he’s up and at ’em and by “’em” I mean the Washington Post and, by extension, Jeff Bezos and Amazon. Here’s the President:
Obviously, he’s furious about a story WaPo ran this weekend called “‘When you lose that power’: How John Kelly faded as White House disciplinarian“.
The Kelly story was hardly confined to WaPo on Saturday. Multiple outlets reported that Kelly threatened to resign recently and it is unquestionably true that the General’s influence in the Oval Office has diminished materially over the past six or so months, sometimes due to his own fuck ups. The point: that linked story from WaPo hardly says anything anyone didn’t already know or at least suspect, but Trump cannot tolerate any negative press, especially when it emanates from a company Jeff Bezos owns.
Here’s an excerpt from the article to kind of show you what I mean when I say it’s not exactly “speculation”:
The recurring and escalating clashes between the president and his chief of staff trace the downward arc of Kelly’s eight months in the White House. Both his credibility and his influence have been severely diminished, administration officials said, a clear decline for the retired four-star Marine Corps general who arrived with a reputation for integrity and a mandate to bring order to a chaotic West Wing.
Kelly neither lurks around the Oval Office nor listens in on as many of the president’s calls, even with foreign leaders. He has not been fully consulted on several recent key personnel decisions. And he has lost the trust and support of some of the staff, as well as angered first lady Melania Trump, who officials said was upset over his sudden dismissal of Johnny McEntee, the president’s 27-year-old personal aide.
“When you lose that power,” said Leon Panetta, a Democratic former White House chief of staff, “you become a virtual White House intern, being told where to go and what to do.”
Clearly that doesn’t reflect well on the White House to the extent it documents further internal strife, but for fuck’s sake, everyone knows there’s chaos at 1600 Penn.
Admittedly, if you read the whole article it’s pretty scathing and if John Kelly was in fact thinking of resigning, that kind of press isn’t going to do anything in terms of compelling him to change his mind.
There’s this bit which brings up the uncomfortable Rob Porter thing again:
But inside and outside the White House, Kelly’s credibility has suffered from a string of misstatements, most recently over his management of domestic abuse allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter and of Trump’s decision to oust Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as national security adviser. And for all the structure he has brought to the bureaucracy, colleagues still view Kelly as tone deaf in dealing with politics.
And another retelling of the Rex Tillerson toilet story:
In an off-the-record session with reporters, parts of which later were reported, Kelly also said that when he called Tillerson to let him know he was fired, the secretary of state was on the toilet with “Montezuma’s revenge.” Though White House aides said Kelly was simply joking – and the State Department contested his version of the phone call – many staffers found the comment crude and demeaning.
And then a little color on what transpired ahead of Trump’s infamous “save your energy Rex” tweet regarding North Korea:
In one contentious incident in autumn, when Trump moved to fire Tillerson, Kelly dissuaded him during a heated argument in which he threatened to resign. Trump told Kelly he could keep “his guy,” but soon had his revenge, tweeting “Save your energy Rex” on North Korea.
One thing we would note (again) is that Kelly should have resigned when Trump used his son as figurative cannon fodder in October after the President inexplicably accused former Presidents (including W.) of not calling the families of fallen soldiers. Later that week, Trump inadvertently offended the widow of a serviceman killed in Niger, kicking off a truly absurd war of words between the President of the United States on one side and a grieving widow + Frederica Wilson on the other. Kelly not only allowed himself to get drawn into the debate, but in fact defended Trump at a truly sad (and wildly absurd) press conference.
All of that actually happened, and God only knows what else has unfolded behind the scenes, so the idea that WaPo is just making all of this up is clearly ridiculous and as the paper notes, they interviewed a total of 16 people for the piece.
Anyway, Trump is furious and you can guarantee the John Kelly story will only serve to make the President more determined when it comes to going after Amazon.
Oh, and remember, Trump talking to the Post Office about their dealings with Amazon has nothing to do with the Washington Post according to Steve Mnuchin, who you can of course trust completely…
[Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: Amazon practices ‘unfair relative to other retailers’ from CNBC.]