As far as anyone can tell, Donald Trump spent most of Tuesday obsessively tweeting and then obsessing over Twitter itself.
An extraordinary early-morning harangue that began with the president assailing Paul Krugman at the crack of dawn eventually veered into a conspiratorial rant about “political games” Trump imagines Twitter is playing in an effort to artificially suppress his follower count by “constantly taking people off the list”, an apparent allusion to the platform’s efforts to purge bots and fake accounts.
Somehow, Jack Dorsey ended up at the White House just hours later for a meeting with Trump, which produced this tweet from the president:
Great meeting this afternoon at the @WhiteHouse with @Jack from @Twitter. Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general. Look forward to keeping an open dialogue! pic.twitter.com/QnZi579eFb
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2019
Dorsey would later reply, thanking Trump for his “time”.
So, that was pretty much Trump’s entire day. If you take a quick scroll through his timeline, you’ll come away more than a little unnerved, and not just because the things Trump said came across as even more unhinged than usual. What’s perhaps more disturbing is that a sitting US president spent that much time tweeting when, presumably, there were more pressing matters at hand. Matters like, for instance, a House Judiciary Committee subpoena for former White House Counsel Don McGahn.
On Monday, Jerry Nadler moved to compel McGahn to testify on May 21. The subpoena of course relates to revelations from the Mueller report which, among other things, outlines McGahn’s refusal to carry out an order to dismiss the special counsel.
Don is mentioned at least 150 times in the report – literally.
“Mr. McGahn is a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Mueller report”, Nadler said, in a statement. “His testimony will help shed further light on the President’s attacks on the rule of law, and his attempts to cover up those actions by lying to the American people and requesting others do the same.”
Fast forward to Tuesday and it looks like the White House is going to fight that.
“White House lawyers plan to tell attorneys for administration witnesses called by the House that they will be asserting executive privilege over their testimony”, the Washington Post reports, citing officials, and adding that “public testimony from McGahn could create a spectacle that would parallel the June 1973 testimony of President Richard Nixon’s former White House counsel, John Dean, whose live televised appearance before a Senate committee painted a vivid portrait for the country of the White House coverup of the Watergate burglary.”
Suffice to say that isn’t a prospect the president is particularly excited about.
As for McGahn himself, it sounds like he’s resigned to his fate – whatever that might be. Here’s a quote from a person close to Don, who requested anonymity from the Post:
He’s not eager to testify. He’s not reluctant. He got a subpoena. It compels him to testify. But there are some countervailing legal reasons that might prevent that. He doesn’t want to be in contempt of Congress; nor does he want to be in contempt of his ethical obligations and legal obligations as a former White House official.
A real quandary, to be sure.
And it’s not just McGahn’s testimony that the White House intends to try and block. “The Trump administration also plans to oppose other requests from House committees for the testimony of current and former aides”, the Post goes on to write.
Meanwhile, Elijah Cummings is now all set to hold former White House personnel security director Carl Kline in contempt. Long story short, Kline was supposed to show up to chat about security clearances, but he didn’t make it, primarily because Trump told him not to go.
“The White House and Mr. Kline now stand in open defiance of a duly authorized congressional subpoena with no assertion of any privilege of any kind by President Trump”, Cummings said in a statement. “Based on these actions, it appears that the President believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight.”
This comes three weeks (give or take) after whistleblower Tricia Newbold told the House Oversight Committee that more than two-dozen individuals whose security clearances were denied by career personnel were granted by senior administration officials.
Read more on Newbold and Kline
“I raised my concerns initially with [Director of Personnel Security] Carl Kline directly”, Newbold told the committee during secretive testimony delivered over a weekend. “There was no resolution”, she added.
Nor will there be any “resolution” if White House deputy counsel Michael Purpura has anything to say about it. He wrote Kline a letter yesterday instructing Carl (who works at DoD now) not to show up for the scheduled deposition.
This comes less than 24 hours after Trump moved to sue Cummings for…. I don’t know, being a black man in Congress, I guess.
If this all sounds overtly insane to you, that’s because it is. “Off the rails” doesn’t even begin to capture it.
Trump closed the curtain on Tuesday’s circus as only he can. To wit, from what, as of 8:45 PM anyway, was his last tweet of the day:
You mean the Stock Market hit an all-time record high today and they’re actually talking impeachment!? Will I ever be given credit for anything by the Fake News Media or Radical Liberal Dems? NO COLLUSION!